Nearer the farmhouses there rises a dull grinding noise.
It is the mill preparing the flour for the daily baking, for seldom—at
least in the country—will a Greek grind flour long in advance of the
time of use. There the round upper millstone is being revolved upon an
iron pivot against its lower mate and turned by a long wooden handle.
Two nearly naked slave boys are turning this wearily—far pleasanter they
consider the work of the harvesters, and very likely this task is set
them as a punishment. As the mill revolves a slave girl pours the grain
into a hole in the center of the upper millstone. As the hot, slow work
goes on, the two toilers chant together a snatch from an old mill song,
and we catch the monotonous strain:
Grind, mill, grind,
For Pittacus did grind—
Who was king over great Mytilene.
It will be a long time before there is enough flour for
the day. The slaves can at least rejoice that they live on a large farm.
If Hybrias owned a smaller estate, they would probably be pounding up
the grain with mortar and pestle—more weary yet.