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
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.