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Father Ephtimey, turning toward the servant. John, somewhat encouraged, neared the gate and looked through a crack. As soon as the monk was convinced that it was a woman knocking, and that there was no one else, he bade John unlock the gate. It was opened, and in came the woman. Without the slightest delay it was securely locked again.
“What on earth brings you here at this late hour, Elietza," asked the monk, in an angry tone.
"The child is sick, dangerously ill.
Where is the abbot?" "He is in the city. What do you want of him?"
"To read to the child. But now? ... You read.”
“But what can I do for it at midnight, when it is sick,” murmured the monk, still angry.
“Yes, it is true that you cannot do anything, but God can."
“Go to sleep now, and wait till to morrow. ..."
But the woman besought him urgently. She was stubborn in her persistence. Who knows what may happen before to morrow? The child is very badly off; illness waits not. Only God can help. She was ready to pay the dues.
"You are crazy to make us open the gate at midnight, when insurgents are liable to get in. The Turks pursue them, and who will suffer for all that but the monastery!"
As he was muttering these words he entered his cell and soon came out with his robe on, but nothing on his head.
“Come!" The woman followed him into the chapel, which was entirely dark.
He lit the waxlight which he held in his hand, and then taking the prayer-book said:
“Bring the sick here!" The woman took the child to the
light and uncovered its face. It was as pale as wax.
"But it is dead," said the monk.
so deeply suok, opened, sparkling at the meagre light, as if to refute the words of the monk.
The latter muttered, impatiently, the prayers for health, made the cross on the child and closed the book. The woman kissed his hand, leaving in it two piasters (eight cents). "If it is written to live, he shall live.
Now, go and sleep outside,” said the monk, as he started with the little waxlight in his hand to go to his cell.
"Wait, Father Ephtimey," . .. said the woman, in a wavering tone. He turned round and grumbled.
"Anything more?” The woman lowered her voice and spoke:
“There is one more thing to disclose to you . . .we are Christians." ...The monk became furious.
“What have you to communicate, and what about being Christians? Go out, go to sleep; we must not let the light burn; some of 'those' from the top there may see it, and come down to make us a visit."
The monk meant the insurgents, and the woman understood so. There was anxiety on her face and her voice trembled.
"Be not afraid, Father Ephtimey, nobody will come ..." Then, in a still more mysterious manner, and changing her tone to a whisper, she commenced:
“As I was coming from the village, there in the woods ... in our woods" ... Fear and anger were on the face of the monk. He understood that this woman wished to tell him something dangerous, and he cried out:
"I don't wish to hear anything, nor to have you tell me anything. What you know, let it stay with you. Or, have you come here to set the monas. tery on fire?"
The woman was about to continue, but at this rude answer her words
stopped in her throat; she walked dis- the abyss, between whose granite walls appointedly after the enraged monk, the river continued its course. The who blew out the light and went out stars above revealed to her the shapes into the yard.
of the opposite hills and ridges, solemn "But I am not going to sleep here,” in the daytime, wrathful and malignant said the woman.
now. To the troubled soul of Elietza The monk looked at her amazed. everything appeared ill-omened. When “But-"
she reached the large elm-tree on the “I am going off, right away
top, she sat down on the cold ground “You are crazy!".
to meditate rather than to rest. The "Crazy or not, I am going. Work lonely summits were slumbering on; will be waiting for me to morrow at grave silence dominated everything daybreak. Give me some bread and I around; only the Iskre was heard murgo ... I am hungry ..."
muring away down somewhere in the "Bread, as much as you wish. ... abyss, in which the domes and the Give it to her, John ... But the gate eaves of the monastery concealed themshall not be opened again to-night.” selves, without sending forth a single
The woman, however, insisted upon guiding light. From the right came the going. The monk was indignant, for barking of the Lutibrod dogs. Sbe indeed it was dangerous to open the rose up, but not to take the road that gate again. Wicked men might get in. led directly to the village. She passed Who knows what might happen? .. on the left side of it, by the banks of Then it came into his mind that the ravine, and ran down through the this woman
and met wheat-fields. She was already on the “those," and that this very thing might bank of the river itself. The boat, expose the monastery to peril, should God be praised! was there. Eleitza the Turks find it out. "No, it is better entered the cottage of the boatman to to get rid of her, we shall be better off wake him. But there was nobody in without her ..."
it. It seems he was afraid to sleep As soon as he thought of this he let there that night. She wondered what
to do, and went to where the boat lay. “Well, go," said he.
The Iskre was boisterous. She gazed The woman laid the child by the at the reflection of its dark waves and fence, put in her bag the loaf of bread she shuddered! What was she to do? which John brought to her, took the She would not even think of waiting till child again in her arms, and off she the morning, although the cocks had went. The door was closed and locked already begun to crow. But what else after her.
could she do? Nothing but to try to
cross over by herself. She had seen IV.
the boatman row ... but that seemed
dangerous to her, and yet there was no Grandma Elietza set out in the night choice left to her, if she wished to find to reach the spot where the famishing
who was waiting rebel was waiting for her. She had in the woods, almost starred to felt extremely embarrassed before the death and in great trouble and fear. vehement monk, who represented the So she laid the child on the sand and absent abbot; she dared not, she could stooped down to unfasten the chain of not advise with him. Climbing the the boat from the large stake, to which cliff, which was behind the monastery, it was usually tied. Another disapshe got into the road that crept over pointment! The chain was not only
fastened but also locked to the stake with a padlock. The Turks had done this in order to prevent any crossing during the night. She stood up appalled. The cocks began to crow oftener at Lutibrod. The eastern sky gave all the indications of dawning. It would soon be day. She sighed in despair, and made a great effort to break either the chain or the lock. But that was far from possible. She raised herself up panting and sighing hopelessly. All at once she stooped again-for the third timeand seized the stake with both hands, now meaning to draw it out. The stake had stood there for years, driven down deep into the ground as if fastened with nails. She doubled, she trebled her force; her sinewy peasant arms stretched out; the muscles became of iron force; her bones cracked from straining and warm sweat began to drop down her cheeks. Panting, fatigued, as if she had sawed a whole cart of wood, she raised herself up, breathed once or
twice and then clutched the stake again. Once again, with renewed efforts and greater zeal, she doubled up, going around it and pulling with all her might. Her old chest breathed aloud, her feet sank deep in the sand, and only after a terrible half-hour's struggle the hole became larger, and the stake moved. At last she pulled it out and dropped it on the sand. The chain rang dully in the silence.
Eleitza, gasping for breath, threw herself on the sand entirely exhausted. In a few minutes the boat with Eleitza, the child and the stake in it, floated triumphantly over the muddy waves.
managed by the woman, soon passed its destination. Yet Eleitza's only anxiety was to prevent it from touching the same bank from which it had just started. Finally, current drifted it to the other side and she landed, holding the child carefully in her arms. Losing no time she started up the hill toward the woods, which she soon entered. She proceeded toward the spot where she had met the insurgent. She had not gone in very far, when all at once she noticed a man's shadow moving among the trunks of the trees. She recognized him. It was he already standing before her.
“Good evening, young man; help yourself!" And, taking the bread out of the bag she banded it to him, realizing that, first of all, he must eat.
"Thank you, grandma,” repeated the insurgent, deeply moved.
"Wait, put this on you!" and she handed him the overcoat with which she had covered the child. “I took it from the monastery without their knowing. God forgive me, I have sinned."
When starting from the monastery Eleitza took down from the fence this coat, thinking that it belonged to the servant. But now she was very much surprised to see that it was a monk's robe.
"It's all the same to me as long as it will keep me warm," said he, as he threw it over his frozen body. And they started. The insurgent walked on, eating at the same time. He quivered from the cold and limped painfully. He
about twenty years old, and dressed in a soldier's uniform. The woman did not question him, but gave him time to eat. She only talked to him in a low voice. But finally her curiosity overwhelmed her, and she asked him where he came from. He explained that he did not come from the top of the mountains, but from the plains. He had lost his companions in
Right here the Iskre, coming out from the cañon, spreads itself widely and flows between level banks. The boat, which floated down the stream, disobedient to the oar so unskilfully
the vineyards at Visletz the night be- she would have flown away with him. fore, and had walked from there to He, on his part, began also to look this spot with difficulty, and exposed to around. many perils; he had not eaten for two “It has dawned, grandma," said he. days and two nights, and the long "It is too bad," she sighed, “we shan't journey had exhausted him; he was get there in time." feverish, besides his feet were sore; now They walked a little further. Men's he was fleeing towards the mountains voices were heard from the other side. to find his companions and hide from The woman stopped. his pursuers.
“This won't do, my lad, we must try "My son, you cannot walk," she said something else. ..." to him; "give me your rifle, that will "What else, grandma?" asked the make walking easier for you."
young man, who looked up to this wom: And she took the rifle in her left an as his mother, his deliverer and his hand, carrying the child with her right providence. arm.
"Hide in the woods, and wait there “Come, come, cheer up, young man." till to-night. As soon as it gets dark
“But where am I going now, grand- I shall come to find you right here, and ma?”
take you home with me." “What do you mean? To my house, And the young man agreed that this of course."
would be the wisest and best thing "Is it possible, grandma? Thank you, that they could do. The woman reyou are a good woman!" answered the turned the rifle and bade him goodunhappy fellow, stooping down to kiss. bye. the wrinkled hand that clutched the All at once Eleitza touched the child. child.
“Oh," she cried out, “it is dead, its "In this awful panic, if the people of hands are icy!" the village find out they will burn me The insurgent stood stupefied before alive," continued the woman; “but how her. This unexpected grief of the could I leave you here; you cannot run, woman astonished him. He wished to and the Circassians, God punish them! say something to console her, but he will find you; there are a few of them could not speak one word. in the village. But what made you Now he saw that he had no reason to fellows get out on such an adventure? expect further help from this kind This cursed kingdom could not be over- woman, whose heart was crushed by thrown so easily. ... They killed you such a blow. like chickens. But you can't walk up “Oh, my little dove!" She wept desthe hill"
perately as she looked at the face of So she took the rifle in her right hand the child in the first morning light. and helped him up the hill with her The insurgent started toward the left. Thus they continued their march woods, deeply touched and utterly through the woods. The sky in the hopeless. But the weeping woman east was growing brighter. The Tchelo- shouted to him. peck cocks were crowing in earnest, "You must hide yourself well to-day. the stars grew pale, it was dawn. They To-night be here again so that I can were at half an hour's distance from
find you.” Tchelopeck, but walking fast. With And she lost herself among the dark this fellow's limping, however, it would tree trunks, with the child on her take more than two hours. The woman bosom-or, rather, with the little dead grew anxious. If she had bad wings, body-she came, at daybreak, to the
ridge, where Tchelopeck stood. In the woods rose inaccessible jagged her absent-mindedness she had not cliffs, while on the right, extended as noticed that she had met no one on her far as the next bare ridges, the Tcheloway, though once she had heard men's peck wheat-fields and gardens. Right voices.
in the woods there was a sheepfold
which could be seen very plainly VI.
through the trees. Now it was aban
doned by its owner. On that June morning the sun shone Presently the eyes of all were turned glorious in the clear sky; it had been toward the woods, deep, deserted and cloudy and rainy for the last few days. quiet. It was there that the young inThe long valley opening at Czar Sbish- surgent was hiding himself. But these man's rock was clad in luxuriant spring men had not come out purposely for verdure, and bordering a glittering sil- him. What summoned them was the very belt of river, it charmed the sight. news from Vratza, that an hour before
From here on the beautiful river daybreak, a band of insurgents had glides gently towards Mezdra through gone down the mountains through the a blooming valley, bounded the thicket, probably with the intention of south by picturesque, mountainous crossing the Iskre, in order to find ridges, emptying itself from one valley refuge in the Great Old Mountain. into another, from one plain to another, This gang of pursuers, encouraged by until it finally reaches the waters of the victory won the day before, was the blue Danube.
waiting for its leader's command. He The sun was hardly more than a had by this time dismounted his horse, prick's distance (as the peasants say) and was discussing with some of the above the horizon, when on the road bashi-bazouks the situation and the from Vratza there appeared Turkish manner of attack. Djambalaz was cavalry, followed by a big crowd forty years old, tall, dark, with a full marching on foot, in among the rye- beard. He wore a fine Circassian unistalks. Both the cavalry and the in- form and was armed from top to toe. fantry soon arrived at the Iskre, and His savage countenance glowed under there they stopped.
his long Circassian fur eap. Just then The infantry consisted of about three a rifle was fired from the sheepfold; the hundred men, armed with all kinds of cliffs echoed and re-echoed. fire-arms. In its front marched Turk- “ 'Tis the insurgents! the insurgents!" ish bashi-bazouks, while the rear, the they shouted, looking toward the sheeplarger part of it, was formed entirely fold, but all they could see was the of Circassians. After a few minutes' roll of smoke, which the morning breeze halt the cavalry moved to one side, soon unfurled and spread in among thus making way for the Circassians to the branches of the trees. Immediately continue their march.
after this momentary surprise and stir The bullet that laid Boteff dead on on the part of the gang, there was a the ground, the day before, came from terrific discharge of musketry toward this very gang, commanded by the then the woods, followed by frightful and distinguished Circassian chief, Djam- continuous echoes, but out of the midst balaz, a fierce and blood-thirsty high- of the smoke from this discharge, voices wayman. Mounted on his horse, Djam- were heard: balaz halted right opposite the Tchelo- "Djambalaz is killed!" And indeed peck woods, not far from the ancient Djambalaz lay stretched out on the church now in ruins. On the left of ground pierced right through his throat