My Country by Marie Queen of Rumania
SECTION 5


Very different are the mountain villages from those of the plain. The cottages are less miserable, less small, the thatched roofs are replaced by roofs of shingle that shine like silver in the sun. Richer and more varied are the peasants' costumes; the colours are brighter, and often a tiny flower-filled garden surrounds the house.



Very different are the mountain villages from those of the plain. The cottages are less miserable.


The thatched roofs are replaced by roofs of shingle that shine like silver in the sun.


Richer and more varied are the peasants' costumes.


Autumn is the season to visit these villages amongst the hills; autumn, when the trees are a flaming glory, when the dying year sends out a last effort of beauty before being vanquished by frost and snow.

Many a hearty welcome has been given me in these little villages, the peasants receiving me with flower-filled hands. At the first sign of my carriage, troops of rustic riders gallop out to meet me, scampering helter-skelter on their shaggy little horses, bearing banners or flowering branches, shouting with delight. Full tilt they fly after my carriage, raising clouds of dust. Like their masters, the ponies are wild with excitement; all is noise, colour, movement; joy runs wild over the earth.



Many a hearty welcome has been given me in these little villages.


The bells of the village ring, their voices are full of gladness, they too cry out their welcome. Crowds of gaily clad women and children flock out of the houses, having plundered their gardens so as to strew flowers before the feet of their Queen.

The church generally stands in the middle of the village; here the sovereign must leave her carriage, and, surrounded by an eager, happy crowd, she is led towards the sanctuary, where the priest receives her at the door, cross in hand.

Wherever she moves the crowd moves with her; there is no awkwardness, no shyness, but neither is there any pushing or crushing. The Rumanian peasants remain dignified; they are seldom rowdy in their joy. They want to look at one, to touch one, to hear one's voice; but they show no astonishment and little curiosity. Mostly their expression remains serious, and their children stare at one with grave faces and huge, impressive eyes.

It is only the galloping riders who become loud in their joy.

There are some strange customs amongst the peasants, curious superstitions. Rumania being a dry country, it is lucky to arrive with rain: it means abundance, fertility, the hope of a fine harvest—wealth.

Sometimes as I went through the villages, the peasant women would put large wooden buckets full of water before their threshold; a full vessel is a sign of Good-luck. They will even sprinkle water before one's feet, always because of that strange superstition, that water is abundance, and, when the great one comes amongst them, honour must be done unto her in every way.

I have seen tall, handsome girls step out of their houses to meet me with overflowing water-jars on their heads; on my approach they stood quite still, the drops splashing over their faces so as well to prove that their pitchers were full.

It is lucky to meet a cart full of corn or straw coming towards one; but an empty cart is a sure sign of Ill-luck!

Many a time, in places I came to, the inhabitants have crowded around me, kissing my hands, the hem of my dress, falling down to kiss my feet, and more than once have they brought me their children, who made the Sign of the Cross before me as though I had been the holy Image in a church.


At first it was difficult unblushingly to accept such homage, but little by little I got accustomed to these loyal manifestations; half humble, half proud, I would advance amongst them, happy to be in their midst.