Roumanian Fairy Tales and Legends, by E.B. Mawr, , at sacred-texts.com
IT was not alone in Sparta that Lacedemonians were to be found--not Rome alone, which could pride herself on her heroic-hearted matrons!
In 1476, Etienne le Grand was reigning Prince of Moldavia, and the Turks were waging heavy war against that Principality. The Sultan, Mahomet, wished to reconquer the provinces of Kilia and Ackerman, and he carried devastation and terror throughout the country. Etienne rushed forward to encounter him. Etienne the glorious! Etienne the vanquisher! has sounded his war trumpet, and from all surrounding parts his valiant warriors have joined him.
The meeting took place at Valea Alba--the white valley--on July 26th, 1476. The Moldavians performed prodigies of valour, they struggled like lions, and at one time were almost victorious, but Mahomet, furious and with flaming eyes, flung himself into their midst, and overpowered and crushed them by his superior force. Etienne, thrown from his horse, wounded, and in despair, escaped with the remnant of his army, and with
drew to the mountains. Night, sombre and sad, is on them; a cold fierce wind freezes their very blood. At length, Etienne, harrassed and suffering, arrives before his castle, and orders his trumpet to be sounded.
* * * * * *
In this old fortress, built on the side of a mountain, the mother of the Prince keeps watch as a sentinel of honour. Voichitza, the young wife of the Prince, is also there, sweet and suave as a white carnation, sighing for her glorious and much-loved lord, who returns not from the combat. The Princess, her mother-in-law, consoles and cheers her. The clock had just struck midnight, when Voichitza heard the fanfare of the trumpet, and the knocking at the gate. She knows it is her husband, and her heart goes out to him. Both the Princesses rise quickly, and goon the voice of him whom they love cries from the darkness:
"It is I, thy son, dear mother, I, thy son! I am wounded in battle, the struggle has been too strong for us, and my little army is devastated. Open the gates, for the Turks are surrounding us, the wind is piercing, and my wounds are painful."
Voichitza rushes to the window, but her mother-in-law
holds her back, and bidding her remain where she is, descends the stairs, orders the Castle gates to be opened, and appears before her son, tall, majestic, severe--the absolute personification of dignity and grandeur.
"What do you say, Stranger? My Etienne is far away I his arm is sowing death and annihilation. I am his mother, he is my son! If you are really Etienne, I am not your mother! If heaven does not wish to make my last days sorrowful, and if you are really Etienne, you will not enter here, vanquished, against my will. Fly to the battle field! die for your country! your tomb shall be flower strewn!" And closing the door, she re-mounted the stairs; and, calm and serene, consoled and wiped away the tears of the young Princess Voichitza.
* * * * * *
Etienne, repulsed by her whom he loved so much--Etienne, whom the God of battles seemed to have abandoned--Etienne, the valiant, blessed his mother, and sent through the night air a tender kiss to his young wife. Then, sounding a furious fanfare, he rode away, with the remnant of his followers, into obscurity. He caused fires to be lighted
on the hills, and at this sign of call to arms, soldiers seemed to spring forth in every direction.
Etienne has once more an army, and they turn in pursuit of the enemy, decided either to die, or become victorious.
The soldiers of Mahomet had devastated and sacked the whole of Moldavia, and were preparing to return with their plunder into their own country. Etienne and his men came up with them near to the banks of the Danube, surprised them, and cut them in pieces. The remnant of the Turkish troops fled across the river in the greatest confusion, leaving their plunder behind them.
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