An hour’s distance northwest of our small mountain village is the Crossroads area, which some old people also call Valchan’s swing. This is a wooded country, overgrown with oak trees and bushes, and the steep meadows around are scattered with juniper and fern. It is called the Crossroads, because the forest path crosses at this point the old Roman road in the form of a cross. I was interested in why the place was also named Valchan’s swing. That’s how I got to this tragic incident that had happened in our area during the time of slavery.
During that memorable year, the spring started earlier. The cuckoo could be heard, the forest began to come into leaf. The fruit-trees blossomed, though high up the shady spots of the Rhodope mountain snowdrifts were gleaming out white. The blue and yellow cups of the crocuses were shining from the distance in the spring sun with yellow-blue flames in the green meadows.
One early Sunday morning, in the middle of April, the church bell tolled loudly. The dressed-up villagers swarmed into the church. The great liturgy for the Christ’s resurrection began.
After the service the young and the old gathered on the square. The high-pitched sounds of bagpipes went off, and they all started dancing horo”. Marudo, Golden Kaludo”, but suddenly the song stopped, interrupted by children’s screams and cries: “Run, the Turks are coming!”
The horo broke apart. Everybody drew frightened at the end of the square. Before collecting themselves, the seymens surrounded them. They got off the horses and their whips cracked. There was a cry of girls and brides, the old women were cursing and making the cross signs, the men were swearing and clenching their fists. The Turks caught the young men first and tied up their hands with ropes of the saddles of the horses. Then, with a wild roar, they assaulted toward the young brides and girls who were distinguished by their beauty.
The elder of the village, the old man Vakril, trembling with fear, obediently stood in front of Emin Bey and, with tears in his eyes, asked him:
“Kaymakam effendi, have mercy from Allah! If we had made something wrong, forgive us... Order your soldiers to release your obedient rayah...”
Instead of answering, Emin Bey directed the revolver into the bent old man’s body of the elder and pulled the trigger. The old man Vakril shivered, bent in two and fell dead forward on his face, and his hands spread out on the square.
Emin Bey waved his hand and ordered the guards and the seymens to lead the tied ones. They surrounded them from four sides and led them to the hill where the chapel of St. George was. The whips hissed again and left bloody marks on the women’s white breasts, and on the men’s ankles and backs. The bloody horo rolled and unrolled like a deadly wounded snake on the stone road. No matter whose eyes you look at - fear, anguish, and horror were mirrored there.