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From The Bard of the Dimbovitza, Roumanian Folk-Songs Collected from the Peasants by Hélène Vacaresco, translated by Carmen Sylva and Alma Strettel; London: James R. Osgood, McIlvaine & Co., 1897; pp. 129-130.




THE Heiduck is the traditional hero of the Roumanian peasantry; he is the patriot who figures in all the old legends as fighting in the first rank for the freedom of his country; he is the bold, brave outlaw, ever warring against restraint, whose exploits are shrouded in fascinating mystery. A dark fate pursues him, yet he is the gayest and most reckless of beings: the handsomest among men, too, the best singer, the most intrepid rider, happiest when the boundless plains or the mountain gorges lie open before him. He is indeed the most bewitching of lovers, but woe to the maiden who feels his charm too deeply, for he is of those who “love and ride away.”


It is the custom in Roumanian villages to paint a flower on the wall of a house in which a maiden lives; but if she is known to have behaved ill, the village youths come and efface the painting from the wall.


The phrase “sister of the cross” has been used by the translators to denote a sort of elective relationship which is common in Roumania, and is distinguished by the untranslatable word “surata” a mere variation of “sora,” a sister. It is usual there for two girls who may be no relation to each other, to choose each other out as sisters, and this choice is hallowed by a special service in church, during which their feet are chained together, to symbolize the bond that is henceforth to unite them. This is regarded as so real a one, that marriage with the brother of one’s elective sister is forbidden, nor can these two “sisters” marry two brothers.



This idea is kindred one to that explained in note 2; flowers cannot prosper near the house of a fallen maiden.


Among the Roumanian peasants, no married woman is ever seen with her head uncovered; on the other hand, girls must always go bare-headed. Hence the expression “be fain to veil her head” means wishing to be a wife.

[The End of The Bard of the Dimbovitza]


The Caraiman, A Fairy Tale by Carmen Sylva


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