Facing the sunshine, stretching to the east the village of Petlare, lies on a slope of a steep hill, cut from a deep gully. In the distance, like stiffened on their posts guards, there are cliffs that rise over beech and pine forests. On the left side of the ravine on the flattest area is the used-to-be square of the village. Opposite the pub, reminding that there is still life in this secluded area, is the old Priest Stoyo’s house. Abandoned and lonely, it calmly lives away its days.
Several old men are sitting on the bench in front of the pub, rolling the beads of rosaries and telling stories of old, troubled times. Listen to one of them.
The booming of the cherry-wood cannon guns died away. The April uprising was over. Like a bent but tough and steady tree after a storm the people got up. Rumors were heard that the Russians had crossed the Danube. Along with the distant rumble of the Russian cannons, rumors of fighting - joyous for some and terrible for others - were also heard.
Panic seized Rustem Bey, too. A Turkish troop of soldiers, retreating to the south, passed one morning near Petlare. There was no time to waste. The Bey ordered his retinue to get the most needed for travelling - food, blankets and clothes, the hidden “white money for the black days”.
The tall and red-cheeked Rustem Bey seemed to become smaller. His face became pale. The thought of the upcoming escape did not leave him alone. He will not let his yesterday’s rayah to remember him as a coward, fled with caravan-loaded mules. He will leave Petlare, but only when the rayah kneel and kiss his hand.
He ordered the village criers to gather the young and the old on the square. Zourlas were screaming and drums beating. The Bulgarians were quiet, bowing their heads. What was the trap which the Bey had prepared for them, they were perplexed.
Rustem Bey waved abruptly. The zourlas and the drums silenced at once. The guards ordered the men to stay in a row - kneeling one by one and kissing the Bey hand. Let them remember who their owner was!
The Bey ordered the priest Stoyo to stand at the head of the line. You know, after the uprising he even settled down in the priest’s house, and the priest and his family he sent to the narrow, mud-bricked house in the same courtyard. He was sure that if the priest kissed his hand, the others would follow him. As it is said, “Get hold of the troublemaker and all will be quiet”. The Bey wanted to humiliate Pop Stoyo twice –first to kneel, then to kiss his hand.
Strong and broad-shouldered is the priest Stoyo. His eyebrows, standing upright, are seen from a distance like swallow’swings. He stepped forward and rose to his full height, well-built in a shabby cassock. His greyish long beard trembled nervously. He stood in front of Rustem Bey and snapped,
„Neither I kneel, nor I kiss a hand”
„Bind this madcap priest!”, the angry Bey cried.