in ammunition, the villagers are seized with the idea of constructing
cannon from the hard wood of the cherry-tree. Several of these
hollow trunks that were turned so confidently against the Turks, but
cracked ignominiously when the first spark was applied to them, are
still to be seen in the national museum at Sofia.
On the second day of October, 1895 — exactly a quarter ot a cen-
tury having elapsed since the boy of twenty published his poem
<The Pine-Tree,> — a jubilee was held at Sofia: the poet receiving in
the building of the National Assembly the thanks and acclamations
of his fellow-countrymen, as well as letters and greetings in verse
from authors in other parts of Europe. At this writing, a portion of
his latest work, ^New Ground,' has been translated into French.
^u.^ CLcudu^ Qa.M^
Allegory of the Ancient Kingdom of Bulgaria
ELOW the great Balkan, a stone's-throw from Thrace,
Where the mountain, majestic and straight as a wall.
Lifts his terrible back — in a bird-haunted place
Where green boughs are waving, white torrents appall.
With yellowing marbles, with moldering eaves.
Mute rises the cloister, girt round with the hills
And mingling its gloom with the glimmer of leaves.
The newness of blossoms, the freshness of rills.
Without the high walls what commotion and whirr!
Within them how solemn, how startling the hush!
All is steeped in a slumber that nothing can stir —
Not the waterfall shattered to foam in its rush.
In that hallowed in closure, above the quaint shrine.
With angel and martyr in halo and shroud,
Looms a giant-limbed tree — a magnificent pine,
Whose black summit is plunged in the soft summer cloud.
As the wings of an eagle are opened for flight.
As a cedar of Lebanon shields from the heat,
So he shoots out his branches to left and to right.
Till they shade every tomb in that tranquil retreat.
The monk with white beard saw him ever the same, —
Unaltered in grandeur, in height or in girth ;
Nor can any one living declare when that frame
Was first lifted in air, or the root pierced the earth.
That mysterious root that has long ceased to grow.
Sunken deep in the soil, — who can tell where it ends?
That inscrutable summit what mortal can know ?
Like a cloud, with the limitless azure it blends.
And perchance the old landmark, by ages unbent,
Is sole witness to valor and virtue long past.
Peradventure he broods o'er each mighty event
That once moved him to rapture or made him aghast.
And 'tis thus he lives on, meeting storm after storm
With contempt and defiance — a stranger to dread.
Nor can summer or winter, that all things transform,
Steal the plumes from his shaggy and resolute head.
From the crotches and tufts of those wide-waving boughs.
Blithe birds by the hundred are pouring their lays;
There in utter seclusion their nestlings they house,
Far from envy and hate passing halcyon days.
Last of all save the mountain, the Balkan's own son
Takes the tinge of the sunset. A crown as of fire
First of all he receives from the new-risen one.
And salutes his dear guest with the small feathered choir.
But alas! in old age, though with confident heart
He yet springs toward the zenith, majestic and tall —
Since he too of a world full of peril is part.
The same fate hath found him that overtakes all.
On a sinister night came the thunder's long roll;
No cave of the mountain but echoed that groan.
All at once fell the storm upon upland and knoll
With implacable fury aforetime unknown.
The fields were deserted, the valleys complained;
The heavens grew lurid with flash after flash;
In the track of the tempest no creature remained —
Only terror and gloom and the thunderbolt's crash.
As of old, the huge tree his assailant repays
With intense indignation, with thrust after thrust;
Till uprooted, confounded, his whole length he lays,
With a heart-rending cry of despair, in the dust.
As a warrior attacked without warning rebounds
Undismayed from each stroke of his deadliest foe —
Then staggers and languishes, covered with wounds.
Knowing well that his footing he soon must forego;
As he still struggles on in the enemy's grasp.
Falling only in death, yielding only to fate
IVAN VAZOFP 1527 I
With a final convulsion, a single deep gasp,
That at least he survive not his fallen estate, —
So the pine-tree, perceiving the end of his reign,
Yet unsplintered, uncleft in that desperate strife,
Vouchsafed not to witness the victor's disdain,
But with dignity straightway relinquished his life.
He is fallen! he lies there immobile, august;
Full of years, full of scars, on the greensward he lies.
Till last evening how proudly his summit he thrust.
To the wonder of all men, far into the skies.
And behold, as a conqueror closes the fray
With one mortal stroke more to his down-trodden foe,
Then ignoring the conquest, all honors would pay,
Shedding tears for the hero his hand hath brought low,—
Thus the whirlwind, forgetting his fury, grew dumb,
Now that prone on the turf his antagonist lay;
And revering the victim his stroke had o'ercome.
To profound lamentation and weeping gave way.
Translation of Lucy C. Bull.
THE SEWING-PARTY AT ALTINOVO
From < Under the Yoke >
OGNiANOFF now tumcd back towards Altinovo, a village which
lay in the western corner of the valley. It was a two-
hours' journey; but his horse was exhausted and the road
was bad, so that he only just reached the village before dark,
pursued right up to the outskirts by the famished howls of the
He entered by the Bulgarian quarter (the village was a mixed
one, containing both Turks and Bulgarians), and soon stopped
before old Tsanko's door.
Tsanko was a native of Klissoura, but had long ago taken
up his abode in the village. He was a simple, kindly peasant,
and a warm patriot. The apostles often slept at his house. He
received Ognianoff with open arms.
" It is a piece of luck, your coming to me. We've got a
sewing-party on to-night — you can have a good look at our girls.
15272 IVAN VAZOFF
You won't find the time heavy on your hands, I'll be bound,'*
said Tsanko with a smile, as he showed the way in.
Ognianoff hastened to tell him that he was being pursued,
and for what reason.
^*Yes, yes, I know all about it," said Tsanko: "you don't
suppose just because our village is a bit out of the way, that we
know nothing of what goes on outside ? "
"But shan't I be putting you out?"
" Don't you mind, I tell you. You must look out among the
girls to-night for one to carry the flag, " laughed Tsanko ; " there
— you can see them all from this window, like a king."
OgnianofE was in a small dark closet, the window of which,
covered with wooden trellis-work, looked on to the large common
room: here the sewing-party was already assembling. It was a
meeting of the principal girls of the village; the object being
to assist in making the trousseau for Tsanko's daughter Donka.
The fire burned brightly and lighted up the walls, which boasted
no ornament save a print of St. Ivan of Rilo, and the bright
glazed dishes on the shelves. The furniture — as in most well-
to-do villagers' houses — consisted of a water-butt, a wardrobe, a
shelf, and the great cupboard which contained all Tsanko's house-
hold goods. All the guests, both male and female, were seated
on the floor, which was covered with skins and carpets. Besides
the light of the fire there were also two petroleum lamps burn-
ing — a special luxury in honor of the occasion.
It was long since Ognianoff had been present at a gathering
of this kind, — a curious custom sanctioned by antiquity. From
his dark recess he watched with interest the simple scenes of the
still primitive village life. The door opened, and Tsanko's wife
came to him: she was a buxom and talkative dame, also from
Klissoura. She sat down by Ognianoff 's side, and began to point
out to him the most remarkable girls present, with the necessary
" Do you see that fat rosy-cheeked girl there ? That's Stai'ka
Chonina. See what a sad, sad look Ivan Kill-the-Bear gives her
now and again. He barks for her like a sheep-dog when he
wants to make her laugh. She's very industrious, quick-witted,
and cleanly. Only she ought to marry at once, poor girl, — she's
getting so fat: she'll be thinner after m.arriage. It's just the op-
posite of your town girls. The girl to the left of her is Tsv6ta
Prodanova: she is in love with the lad over there with his
IVAN VAZOFF 15273
mustache sticking out like a skewer. She's a lively one for you
— see her eyes in every corner of the room at once; but she's a
good girl. That's Draganoff's Tsveta by her side; and next to
her Raika, the Pope's daughter. I'd rather have those two than
twenty of your fine ladies from Philippopolis. Do you see their
white throats, just like ducks ? Why, I once caught my Tsanko
saying he'd give his vineyard at Mai Tepe, just to be allowed to
kiss one of them on the chin! Didn't I just box his ears for
him, the vagabond! Do you see that girl to the right of fat
Stai'ka? That's Kara Velio's daughter: she's a great swell;
five young fellows have already been after her, but her father
wouldn't have anything to say to them. He's keeping her for
somebody, the old weasel — you know he looks just like a weasel.
Ivan Nedelioff'll have her, or I'll bite my tongue out. There's
Rada Milkina: she sings like the nightingale on our plum-tree —
but she's a lazybones, between ourselves. I'd rather have Dimka
Todorova, standing over there by the shelf: there's a blooming
rose for you! If I was a bachelor I'd propose to her at once.
Why don't you take her yourself ? That's the Peeffs' girl stand-
ing by our Donka. She's a pretty girl, and industrious into the
bargain — so they say she's as good as our Donka. She's got a
sweet voice, like Rada Milkina, and laughs like a swallow twitter-
ing: you listen to her. ^^
As she stood there by Boi'cho in the dark, she reminded him
of the scene in the * Divina Commedia * where Beatrice, at the
gate of hell, points out to Dante one by one the condemned, and
tells him their history.
Ognianoff listened more or less attentively: he was entirely
absorbed by the picture, and cared little for the explanations.
The bolder among the girls jested with the lads, flirted with
them archly, and laughed merrily the while. They were answered
by the deep guffaws of the youths, who looked shyly across at
the weaker sex. Jests, taunts, and chaff followed in one continual
flow: loud laughter was called forth by jokes with a double mean-
ing, which sometimes brought the hot blush to the girls' cheeks.
Tsanko alone took no part in the merry-making. His wife was
busy with the stew-pan, where the supper was preparing. As for
Donka, she couldn't stay still for a moment.
^*Come, you've chaffed each other enough now: suppose you
give us a song,'^ cried the housewife, as she left Boicho and
returned to her saucepans on the fire. ** Now then, Rada, Stanka,
IC2-^ IVAN VAZOFF
sing something and put the young men to shame. Young men
are not worth a brass button nowadays: they can't sing. *^
Rada and Stanka did not wait to be asked twice. They at
once began a song, which was taken up by all those girls who
could sing; these at once formed into two choruses: the first
sang one verse, and then waited while the second repeated it.
The better singers were in the first choir, the others repeating
the verse in a lower key.
The following are the words of the song they sang: —
the youthful couple; well-a-day! they fell in love;
in love they'd fallen; well-a-day! from earliest youth,
they met each other; well-a-day! last night they met.
all in the darkness; well-a-day! just down the street.
the silver moonlight; well-a-day! shone down on them.
the stars were twinkling; well-a-day! within the sky.
Yet, well-a-day! the youthful couple; well-a-day! they're sitting still.
Well-a-day! yes, still they're sitting; well-a-day! in loving talk.
Well-a-day! her jug of water; well-a-day! it's frozen hard.
Well-a-day ! his oaken cudgel ; well-a-day ! how long it's grown.
But, well-a-day! the youthful couple; well-a-day! they're sitting yet!**
When the song came to an end, the youths were loud in
applause: it appealed to every one of them; its pleasing refrain
brought up memories of past experience. As for Ivan Kill-the-
Bear, he was devouring Sta'ika Chonina with his eyes: he was
deeply in love with her.
*^ That's the kind of song to sing over again — ay, and to act
all day long ! ** he cried in his deep bass voice.
All the girls laughed, and many an arch look was cast at
He was a perfect mountain of a man, of gigantic stature and
herculean strength, with a big, bony face, but not over bright.
However, he was great at singing ; that is to say, his voice cor-
responded with his size. He now became cross, and withdrew
silently behind the girls, where he suddenly barked like an old
sheep-dog. The girls started in terror at first, and then laughed
at him, and the bolder ones among them began to tease him:
one of them sang, mockingly: —
"Ivan, you bright-hued turtle-dove,
Ivan, you slender poplar.'*
IVAN VAZOFP 15275
Staika added: —
«Ivan, you shaggy old she-bear,
Ivan, you lanky clothes-prop!*^
More giggling and laughter followed. Ivan became furious.
He stared in dumb bewilderment at the rosy-cheeked Staika
Chonina, who mocked so unkindly her fervent adorer; he opened
a mouth like a boa-constrictor's, and roared out: —
<*Said Peika's aunt one day to her, —
<Why, Peika girl, why, Peika girl.
The people freely talk of you!
The people, all the neighbors, say
That you've become so fat and full,
That you're so plump and fleshy now.
All through your uncle's shepherd lad.* —
* O aunty dear, O darling aunt,
Let people freely talk of me !
Let people, all the neighbors, say
That if I'm fat and fleshy now.
If I've become so plump and full.
It's from my father's wheaten bread,
My father's white and wheaten bread;
For while I knead it in the trough,
A basket-full of grapes I pluck.
And drink a jar of red, red wine.*'*
Staika blushed at this bitter innuendo: her red cheeks became
e.s fiery as if she had dyed them in cochineal. The spiteful
giggl^es of the other girls pierced her to the heart. Some with
assumed simplicity asked : —
^*Why, how ever can one pick grapes and drink wine at the
same time ? The song must be all wrong. **
" Why, of course, either the song's wrong or else the girl's
wrong,** answered another.
This cutting criticism still further enraged Sta'ika. She threw
a crushing look at the triumphant Ivan, and sang in a voice that
quivered with rage: —
" ^ O Peika, brighter than the poppy.
Is all your needlework so fine.
And all my many, many visits.
Are all of these to be in vain ?
Come, Peika, won't you have me, dear?* —
15276 IVAN VAZOFF
*"Why, Yonko, why, you filthy drudge,
Could Peika ever fall in love
With such a swineherd as yourself ?
A swineherd and a cattle drover —
Some wealthy farmer's filthy drudge ?
She'd put you down before the door,
The little door behind the house;
That when she passes in and out
To fetch the calves and heifers in,
If she should chance to soil her shoes,
She'd wipe them clean upon your back.**
It was a crushing repartee to a savage attack.
Staika now looked proudly round her. Her shaft had struck
home. Ivan Kill-the-Bear stood motionless, as if transfixed, with
staring eyes. A loud peal of laughter greeted his discomfiture.
The whole party was gazing curiously at him. Tears started to
his eyes from very shame and wounded vanity. The spectators
laughed still louder. The mistress of the house became angry.
<< What's the meaning of all this, girls? Is this the way to
behave with the lads, instead of being kind and pleasant to one
another, as you ought to? Staika — Ivan — you ought to be coo-
ing together like a pair of turtle-doves.'^
*^ It's only lovers who quarrel,** said Tsanko in a conciliatory
Ivan Kill-the-Bear rose and went out angrily, as if to protest
against these words.
**Like loves like,'* averred Neda Liagovitcha.
«Well, Neda, God loves a good laugher," said Kono Goran,
* Now, boys, sing us some old haidoud song, to put a little
life into us,** said Tsanko. The lads sang in chorus: —
"Alas for poor Stoyan, alas!
Two ambushes they laid for him.
But in the third they captured him.
The cruel ropes they've fastened round him —
They've bound his strong and manly arms.
Alas! they've carried poor Stoyan
To Erin's house, the village pope,
And Rouja, a stepdaiighter, too;
But Rouja sat and milked the cow
Beside the little garden gate.
IVAN VAZOFF 1 5 277
While they were sweeping in the yard.
And gayly cried the sisters twain —
<Ha! ha! Stoyan,* they cried to him:
< To-morrow morn they'll hang you up
Before the palace of the king, —
You'll dangle for the queen to see.
And all the princes and princesses.*
But Stoyan softly said to Rouja: —
< Dear Rouja, you the pope's stepdaughter.
It's not my life I care about,
It's not for the bright world I mourn, —
A brave man never weeps or mourns:
But yet, I beg you, Rouja dear.
Oh! let them put a clean shirt on me,
And let them brush and deck my hair;
That's all I ask for, Rouja dear.
For when a man's led out to die.
His shirt should spotless be, and white,
His hair should be arrayed and trim.*^^
Ognianoff listened with secret excitement to the close of the
^* This Stoyan, ^^ he thought, ^^ is the very type of the legend-
ary Bulgarian haidoud, with his calm courage in facing death.
Not a word of sorrow, of despair, or even of hope. He only
wants to die looking his best. Ah! if this heroical fatalism has
only passed into the Bulgarian of to-day, I shall be quite easy in
mind as to the end of our struggle. That's the struggle I seek
for — that's the strength I want: to know how to die — that's half
the battle. »
Just then the kavala, or shepherd's reed-pipes, struck up.
Their sound, at first low and melancholy, swelled gradually and
rose higher and higher; the eyes of the pipers flashed, their faces
flushed with excitement, the clear notes rang out and filled the
night with their weird mountain melody. They summoned up
the spirit of the Balkan peaks and gorges, they recalled the dark-
ness of the mountain glades, the rustling of the leaves at noon
while the sheep are resting, the scent of the corn-flower, the
echoes of the rocks, and the cool, sweet air of the valleys. The
reed-pipe is the harp of the Bulgarian mountains and plains.
All were now listening enchanted as they drank in the famil-
iar and friendly sounds of the poetic music. Tsanko an-d his
wife, standing with clasped hands by the fire, listened as if
entranced. But the most affected of all was OgnianofE, who could
scarcely keep from applauding.
The brisk conversation and merry laughter soon broke out
again. But OgnianofE began to listen to what was being said, for
he heard his name mentioned. Petr Ovcharoff, Rai'chin, Spir-
donoff, Ivan Ostenoff, and a few others were talking of the com-
"I'm ready for the fun now; I'm only waiting for my revolver
from Philippopolis. I've sent the money, 170 piastres. That's
the price of three rams, ** said Petr Ovcharoff, the president of the
"Yes, but we don't know when the flag's to be raised. Some
say we shall blood our knives at the Annunciation, others at St.
Gregory's Day, and Uncle Bojil says not till the end of May,**
said Spirdonoff, a handsome, well-built lad.
" It'll be somewhere about the coming of the cuckoo, when
the woods are getting green ; but I'm ready now, — they've only
to give the word.**
"Well, well: our Stara Planina has sheltered many a brave
fellow before now; it'll shelter us too,** said Ivan Ostenoff.
" Petr, didn't you say the teacher [Ognianoff] had killed two
of them ? There's a plucky one for you.**
" When's he going to pay us a visit ? I want to kiss the hand
that polished them off,** asked Rai'chin.
" He's got a start of us, has the teacher, but we must try and
catch him up. I know something of the game myself,** answered
Ivan Ostenoff was a bold youth, and a good shot as well.
Popular rumor ascribed the death of Deli Ahmed last year to
him; and the Turks had long tried to get hold of him, but so far
At supper Ognianoff's health was drunk.
" God grant that we may soon see him here safe and sound.
Take an example from him, boys,** said Tsanko, as he swallowed
"I'll bet any one whatever he likes,** said Tsanko's wife im-
patiently, " that teacher'll be here the first thing to-morrow, like
" What are you talking of, Boulka Tsankovitsa ? Why, I'm off
to K to-morrow, ** said Raichin regretfully. " If he comes you
must keep him for Christmas, and we'll enjoy ourselves together.**
IVAN VAZOFF 15279
« What's all that noise outside ? '^ cried Tsanko, leaving his
In truth, men's and women's voices were heard making- an
uproar outside. Tsanko and his wife ran out. The guests rose
to follow. Just then the mistress of the house rushed in, in great
excitement, and cried: —
"Well, that business is finished. God prosper it."
« What ? What ? »
« Kill-the-Bear's carried off Staika!»
Every one started with surprise at the news.
" Carried her off, he has, the lad, on his shoulder, as you would
a lamb on St. Gregory's Day; now they're at his house.*
Her hearers began to laugh.
"Well, what of it? That's why he went away so early with
his cousin Goran.*
"He laid in wait for her by the door,* continued Boulka
Tsankovitsa, "and carried her off. I'm sorry for them both.
Who'd have thought it of Kill-the-Bear ? *
"Well, well, they're a pretty pair,* said some one.
" She's just like a fat little Servian pig, and he's a Hungarian
bull,* laughed another.
"God bless 'em both; we'll drink cherry brandy with them
to-morrow,* said Tsanko.
"Yes, and I shall claim my perquisite,* said his wife. "I
must have my embroidered sleeves, because the match was ar-
ranged at my house.*
Soon after, all the guests left in high glee.
Tsanko hastened to Ognianoff in the dark closet,
" Well, Boi'cho, how did you like our party ? *
"Oh, it was wonderful, delightful, Tsanko.*
" Did you take down the words of the songs .? **
"How could I? There's no light to write by."
In came Tsanko's wife with a candle in her hand.
"There's some one knocking at the door,* said she.
" That'll be some one from Staika, most likely. Perhaps she
wants our Donka to go to her: you must send her.*
But Donka came in and said that there were two zapti6s out-
side, brought by old Deiko, the village mayor.
" The Devil take them — zapties, old Deiko, and all ! Where
am I to put the swine? They've not come after you,* he said to
Ognianoff reassuringly, << but you'd better hide. Wife, just show
the teacher where to go.**
And Tsanko went out. Soon he brought in the two zapties,
muffled up in their cloaks and drenched with snow. They were
" What do you mean by keeping us an hour at the door, you
cuckold ? ** cried the first, a one-eyed zapti6, as he shook the snow
from his cloak.
^* You left us freezing outside while you were making up your
mind to open," grumbled the other, a short, stout man.
Tsanko muttered some excuse.
" What are you muttering about ? Go and kill a chicken for
us, and get some eggs fried in butter at once ! *
Tsanko tried to say something. The one-eyed zapti^ burst
out : —
* None of your talk, ghiaour : go and tell your wife to get
supper ready at once. Do you suppose we're going to finish
up your d — d tart-crumbs and nutshells for you ? '* he said with
a contemptuous look at the remains of the little feast, not yet
Tsanko moved helplessly toward the door to carry out his
orders. The short one called after him: —
* Stop a minute : what have you done with the girls ? **
* They went home long ago : it's late, '* answered Tsanko,
trembling all over.
^* Just you go and fetch them back to have supper with us and
pour out our raki. What do you mean by sending them home ? *
Tsanko gazed at him in terror.