My Country by Marie Queen of Rumania
SECTION 2


Once I was a stranger to this people; now I am one of them, and, because I came from so far, better was I able to see them with their good qualities and with their defects.

Their country is a fruitful country, a country of vast plains, of waving corn, of deep forests, of rocky mountains, of rivers that in spring-time are turbulent with foaming waters, that in summer are but sluggish streams lost amongst stones. A country where peasants toil 'neath scorching suns, a country untouched by the squalor of manufactories, a country of extremes where the winters are icy and the summers burning hot.

A link between East and West.

At first it was an alien country, its roads too dusty, too endless its plains. I had to learn to see its beauties —to feel its needs with my heart.

Little by little the stranger became one of them, and now she would like the country of her birth to see this other country through the eyes of its Queen.

Yes, little by little I learnt to understand this people, and little by little it learned' to, understand me.

Now we trust each other, and so, if God wills, together we shall go towards a greater future!
My love of freedom and vast horizons, my love of open air and unexplored paths led to many a discovery. Alone I would ride for hours to reach a forlorn village, to see a crumbling church standing amongst its rustic crosses at a river's edge, or to be at a certain spot at sunset when sky and earth would be drenched with flaming red.

Oh! the Rumanian sunsets, how wondrous they are!

Once I was riding slowly homewards.

The day had been torrid, the air was heavy with dust. In oceans of burnished gold the corn-fields spread before me. No breath of wind stirred their ripeness; they seemed waiting for the hour of harvest, proud of being the wealth of the land.

As far as my eye could reach, corn-fields, corn-fields, dwindling away towards the horizon in a vapoury line. A blue haze lay over the world, and with it a smell of dew and ripening seed was slowly rising out of the ground.

At the end of the road stood a well, its long pole like a giant finger pointing eternally to the sky. Beside it an old stone cross leaning on one side as though tired, a cross erected with the well in remembrance of some one who was dead. . . .

Peace enveloped me—my horse made no movement, it also was under the evening spell.

From afar a herd of buffaloes came slowly towards me over the long straight road : an ungainly procession of beasts that might have belonged to antediluvian times.

One by one they advanced—mud-covered, patient, swinging their ugly bodies, carrying stiffly their heavily-horned heads, their vacant eyes staring at nothing, though here and there with raised faces they seemed to be seeking something from the skies.

From under their hoofs rose clouds of dust accompanying their every stride. The sinking sun caught hold of it, turning it into fiery smoke. It was as a veil of light spread over these beasts of burden, a glorious radiance advancing with them towards their rest.

I stood quite still and looked upon them as they passed me one by one. . . . And that evening a curtain seemed to have been drawn away from many a mystery. I had understood the meaning of the vast and fertile plain.