Ivan D. Hristov

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THE OUTLAW

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MANOLE MACRELATA

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VALCHAN’S SWING

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DESTINY

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THE ORDEAL

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THE CHURCH

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THE ORDEAL

THE CROSS SIGN

Translated by: Росица Шопска

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Peter Sharov‘s sleep was uneasy that night. He woke up at dawn, went out onto the veranda, and looked at the starry sky. Towards the dark end of the horizon, many stars, which had so far stood high in the sky, had leveled. It was quiet around, in the way it usually is, just before dawn, but that silence was short.

In the early morning of April, the inhabitants of Batak were jingling again with the white copper pots along the narrow streets, heading for water. Some men riding their mules were hurrying to the fields to plough them.

Petar Sharov with his family were also getting ready to go to work. He fed the oxen, tightened the plough. His wife, Todora, laid the table and invited her elder children Ivancho and Iglika,

„Sit at the table, work is waiting for us!”

Then she nursed her younger child, Angelcho. From the room downstairs, the voices of Grandpa Ivan and Grandma Iglika could be heard.

The family of Sharovs had just sat down at the table when they heard gunshots. They looked out the window and what to see - there were red fezes in the lower corner of the village. Several houses and barns were blazing. From all over the village, people began to run chaotically in all directions. Some fled to the forest in panic. Children‘s cry and screams of women were heard. A large crowd of peasants were running in the lower corner of the village towards the church.

Petar Sharov, a confirmed rebel, grabbed the rifle and went out. He went down where the rebels were, but was killed on spot by a Turkish bullet. The children Ivancho and Iglika ran out frightened. They joined another group of children from the village and fled to the nearby forest.

Todora grabbed her three months old child, Angelcho, from his cradle. She was running as fast as she could along the street. When she saw that the Turks were crossing her way, she bent down and left the child on the ground. She began to run harder. So she reached the crossroads of the village of Rakitovo. There a Turk caught her up, picked up his rifle and fired into her. A spurt of blood flowed from her head. She fell silent down on the road.

The Turk-killer turned into the street from where the bride came, and nearly trampled over the infant in the middle of the road. He bent down, took the child, pulled a large knife from his waist-band and cut the skin of baby’s head in the sign of a cross. The baby screamed loudly. The Turk threw it down the chasm.

Grandfather Ivan and grandmother Iglika had gone out into the yard and were moaning and making cross signs terrified. Three Turks, armed with yatagans and guns, pushed the gate and entered the courtyard. One of them at one powerful scoop cut off the grandfather‘s Ivan head. Granny Iglika was frightened and started screaming and stretched out her two arms as if to stop him. She swung to her. The two of them fell dead in the yard almost at the same ti

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