The Bridge on the Drina (excerpts).
The day which was dawning was a Sunday. On Sunday work went on as on any other day, but this day even the overseers were distrait. As son as it was broad daylight, the news spread about the capture of the criminal, his torture and his execution which was to take place at midday. The hushed and solemn mood of the stable spread over the whole area about the building works. The men on forced labor worked silently, each one avoided looking his neighbor in the eyes, and each man looked only to the work before him as if that were the beginning and the end of his world.
An hour before noon the people of the town, for the most part Turks, had collected on a level space near the bridge. Children were hoisted on to high blocks of building stone which were lying about. The workmen swarmed around the narrow benches where the meagre rations which kept them alive were usually distributed. Chewing at them, they were silent and looked uneasily about them. A little later Abidaga appeared, accompanied by Tosun Effendi, Mastro Antonio and one or two of the more prominent Turks. All stood on a small dry hummock between the bridge and the stable where the condemned man was. Abidaga went once more to the stable, where he was told that everything was ready; lying there was an oak stake about eight feet long, pointed as was necessary and tipped with iron, quite thin and sharp, and all well-greased with lard. On the scaffolding were the blocs between which the stake would be embedded and nailed, a wooden mallet for the impalement, ropes and everything else that was needed.
The man from Plevlje was distraught, his face earthen in color and his eyes bloodshot. Even now he was not able to endure Abidaga's flaming glances.
"Listen, you! If everything is not as it should be and if you disgrace me in public, neither you nor your bastard of a gypsy will ever appear before me again, for I will drown you both in the Drina like a pair of blind puppies."
Then, turning to the shivering gypsy, he said more kindly:
"You will get six grosh * for the job, and another six if he stays alive till nightfall. See to it!"
The hodza called out from the main mosque in the marketplace in a clear sharp voice. Uneasiness spread among the assembled people and a few moments later the door of the stable opened. Ten guards were drawn up in two ranks, five on either side. Between them was Radisav, barefooted and bareheaded, alert and stooping as ever, but he no longer "sowed" as he walked but marched strangely with short steps, almost skipping on his mutilated feet with bleeding holes where the nails had been; on his shoulders he carried a long white sharpened stake. Behind him was Merdzan with two other gypsies who were to be his helpers in the execution of the sentence. Suddenly from somewhere or other the man from Plevlje appeared on his bay and took his place at the head of the procession, which only had to go about a hundred paces to reach the first scaffolding.
The people craned their necks and stood on tiptoe to see the man who had hatched the plot and destroyed the building work. They were all astonished at the poor miserable appearance of the man they had imagined to be quite different. Naturally, none of them knew why he hopped in so droll a manner and took abrupt little steps, and none of them could see the burns from the chain which crossed his chest like great belts, for his shirt and cloak hid them. Therefore he seemed to al those there too wretched and too insignificant to have done the deed which now brought him to execution. Only the long white stake gave a sort of gruesome grandeur to the scene and kept everyone's eyes fixed on it.
When they reached the spot on the bank where the excavation work began, the man from Plevlje dismounted and with a sort of solemn and theatrical air gave the reins to a groom, then disappeared with the others in the steep muddy track which led down to the water's edge. A little later the people saw them again as they appeared in the same order on the staging, climbing upwards slowly and carefully. On the narrow passages made of planks and beams the guards closely surrounded Radisav and kept him very near them lest he should leap into the river. They dragged their way along slowly and climbed even higher till they reached the top. There, high above the water, was a boarded space about the size of a small room. On it, as on a raised stage, they took their places, Radisav, the man from Plevlje and the three gypsies, with the rest of the guards posted around them on the platform.
The people watching moved uneasily and shifted about. Only a hundred paces separated them from those planks, so that they could see every man and every movement, but could not hear words or distinguish details. The people and the workmen on the left bank were about three times farther away, and moved around as much as they could and made every effort to try and hear to see better. But they could hear nothing and what they could see seemed at first only too ordinary and uninteresting and at the end so terrible that they turned their heads away and many quickly went home, regretting that they had ever come.
When they ordered Radisav to lie down, he hesitated a moment and then, looking past the gypsies and guards as if they were not there, came close up to the man from Plevlje and said almost confidentially as if speaking to a friend, softly and heavily:
"Listen, by this world and the next, do your best to pierce me well so that I may not suffer like a dog."
The man from Plevlje started and shouted at him, as if defending himself from that too intimate approach.
"March, Vlach! You who are so great a hero as to destroy the Sultan's work now beg for mercy like a woman. It will be as it has been ordered and as you have deserved."
Radisav bent his head still lower and the gypsies came up and began to strip off his cloak and his shirt. On his chest the wounds from the chains stood out, read and swollen. Without another word the peasant lay down as he had been ordered, face downward. The gypsies approached and the first bound his hands behind his back; then they attached a cord to each of his legs, around the ankles. Then they pulled outwards and to the side, stretching his legs wide apart. Meanwhile Merdzan placed the stake on two small wooden chocks so that it pointed between the peasant's legs. Then he took from his belt a short broad knife, knelt beside the stretched-out man and leant over him to cut away the cloth of his trousers and to widen the opening through which the stake would enter his body. This most terrible part of the bloody task was, luckily, invisible to the onlookers. They could only see the bound body shudder at the short and unexpected prick of the knife, then half rise as if it were going to stand up, only to fall back again at once, striking dully against the planks. As soon as he had finished, the gypsy leapt up, took the wooden mallet and with slow measured blows began to strike the lower blunt end of the stake. Between each two blows he would stop for a moment and look first at the body in which the stake was penetrating and then at the two gypsies, reminding them to pull slowly and evenly. The body of the peasant, spread-eagled, writhed convulsively; at each blow of the mallet his spine twisted and bent, but the cords pulled at it and kept it straight. The silence from both banks of the river was such that not only every blow but even its echo from somewhere along the steep bank could be clearly heard. Those nearest could hear how the man beat with his forehead against the planks, and, even more, another and unusual sound,, that was neither a scream, nor a wail, nor a groan, nor anything human; that stretched and twisted body emitted a sort of creaking and cracking like a fence that is breaking down or a tree that is being felled. At every second blow the gypsy went over to the stretched-out body and leant over it to see whether the stake was going in the right direction and when he had satisfied himself that it had not touched any of the more important internal organs he returned and went on with his work.
From the banks al this could scarcely be heard and still less seen, but all stood there trembling, their faces blanched and their fingers chilled with cold.
For a moment the hammering ceased. Merdzan now saw that close to the right shoulder muscles the skin was stretched and swollen. He went forward quickly and cut the swollen place with two crossed cuts. Pale blood flowed out, at first slowly and then faster and faster. Two or three more blows, light and careful, and the iron-shod point of the stake began to break through at the place where he had cut. He struck a few more times until the point of the stake reached level with the right ear. The man was impaled on the stake as a lamb on the spit, only that the tip did not come through the mouth but in the back and had not seriously damaged the intestines, the heart or the lungs. Then Merdzan threw down the mallet and came nearer. He looked at the unmoving body, avoiding the blood which poured out of the places where the stake had entered and had come out again and was gathering in little pools on the planks. The two gypsies turned the stiffened body on its back and began to bind the legs to the foot of the stake. Meanwhile Merdzan looked to see if the man were still alive and carefully examined the face that had suddenly become swollen, wider and larger. The eyes were wide open and restless, but the eyelids were unmoving, the mouth was wide open but the two lips stiff and contracted and between them the clenched teeth shone white. Since the man could no longer control some of his facial muscles the face looked like a mask. But the heart beat heavily and the lungs worked with short, quickened breath. The two gypsies began to lift him up like a sheep on a spit. Merdzan shouted to them to take care and not shake the body; he himself went to help them. Then they embedded the lower, thicker end of the stake between two beams and fixed it there with huge nails and then behind, at the same height, buttressed the whole thing with a short strut which was nailed both to the stake and to a beam on the staging.
When that too had been done, the gypsies climbed down and joined the guards, and on that open space, raised a full eight feet upright, stiff and bare to the waist, the man on the stake remained alone. From a distance it could only be guessed that the stake to which his legs had been bound at the ankles passed right through his body. So that the people saw him as a statue, high up in the air on the very edge of the staging, high above the river.
A murmur and a wave of movement passed through the onlookers on the banks. Some lowered their eyes and others went quickly home without turning their heads. But the majority looked dumbly at this human likeness, up there in space, unnaturally stiff and upright. Fear chilled their entrails and their legs threatened to give way beneath them, but they were still unable to move away or take their eyes from the sight. And amid that terrified crowd mad Ilinka threaded her way, looking everyone in the eyes and trying to read their glances to find from them where her sacrificed and buried children were.
Then the man from Plevlje, Merdzan and a pair of guards went up to the impaled man and began to examine him more closely. Only a thin trickle of blood flowed down the stake. He was alive and conscious. His ribs rose and fell, the veins in his neck pulsed and his eyes kept turning slowly but unceasingly. Through the clenched teeth came a long drawn-out groaning in which a few words could with difficulty be distinguished.
"Turks, Turks, ..." moaned the man on the stake, "Turks on the bridge ... may you die like dogs ... like dogs."
The gypsies picked up their tools and then, with the man from Plevlje, came down from the staging to the bank. The people made way for them and began to disperse. Only the children on the high blocks of stone and the bare trees waited a little longer, not knowing if this were the end or whether there would be more, to see what would happen next with that strange man who hovered over the waters as if suddenly frozen in the midst of a leap.
The man from Plevlje approached Abidaga and reported that everything had been carried out correctly and satisfactorily, that the criminal was still alive and that it seemed that he would go on living since his internal organs had not been damaged. Abidaga did not reply but only gave a sign with his hand to bring his horse and began to say good-bye to Tosun Effendi and Mastro Antonio. Everyone began to disperse. Through the marketplace the town-crier could be heard announcing that the sentence had been carried out and that the same or a worse punishment awaited anyone who would do the like in the future.
The man from Plevlje remained in perplexity on the level space which had now suddenly emptied. His servant held his horse and the guards waited for orders. He felt that he ought to say something but was not able to because of the wave of feeling that only now began to rise within him and choke him. Only now did he become conscious of all that he had forgotten since he had been too busy carrying out the sentence. He remembered Abidaga's threat that it would have been he who would have been placed upon the stake had he not succeeded in catching the criminal. He had escaped that horror, but only by a hair and only at the last moment. But things had turned out otherwise. The sight of that man, who was hanging, bound and still alive, over the river filled him with terror and also with a sort of painful joy that such a fate had not been his and that his body was still undamaged, was free and able to move. At that thought burning pains shot through his chest and spread into his legs and arms and forced him to move about, to smile and to speak, just to prove to himself that he was healthy, that he could move freely, could speak and laugh aloud, could even sing if he so wished, and not merely mutter useless curses from a stake, awaiting death as the only happiness which could still be his. His hands and arms moved of their own volition, his lips opened and from them flowed unwittingly a strangled laugh and a copious flow of words:
"Ha, ha, ha, Radisav, thou mountain vila, * why so stiff? ... Why not go on and undermine the bridge? ... Why writhe and groan? Sing vila! Dance, vila!"
Astonished and bewildered, the guards watched their leader dance with outstretched arms, heard him sing and choke with laughter and with strange words, saw the white foam oozing more and more from the corners of his lips. And his bay horse, in fear, cast sidelong glances at him.
In the darkness could be heard the voices of two youths who were walking on the bridge. They were moving slowly and just then halted by the kapija * behind the angle of the parapet, so that Stikovic and Glasincanin could not see them, or be seen by them, from their seat on the sofa. But they could hear every word and the voices were well known to them. They were two of their younger comrades, Toma Galus and Fehim Bahtijarevic. These two kept themselves a little apart from the group which comprised most of the other students which gathered every evening on the kapija around Stikovic and Herak, for, although younger, Galus was a rival of Stikovic both as a poet and as a nationalist speaker. He did not like Stikovic nor admire him, while Bahtijarevic was exceptionally silent, proud and reserved as befitted a true grandchild of a family of begs.
Toma Galus was a tall youth with red cheeks and blue eyes. His father, Alban von Galus, the last descendant of an ancient family of the Burgenland, had come to the town as a civil servant immediately after the occupation. He had been a forestry inspector for twelve years and now lived in the town on pension. At the very beginning, he had married the daughter of one of the local landowners, HadIi Toma Stankovic, a robust and full-blown young woman of dark skin and strong will. They had had three children, two daughters and one son, all of whom had been christened into the Serbian Orthodox church and had grown up like real townsmen's children and grandchildren of Hadzi Toma.
Old Galus, a tall and formerly very handsome man, with a pleasant smile and masses of thick white hair, had long ago become a real townsman, "Mr. Albo," whom the younger generation could not think of a s a foreigner and a newcomer. He had two passions which harmed no one: hunting and his pipe, and he had made many old and true friends, both among the Serbs and among the Moslems, throughout the whole district who shared his passion for the chase. He had completely assimilated many of their customs as if he had been born and bred amongst them, especially their habit of cheerful silence and calm conversation, so characteristic of men who are passionate smokers and who love hunting, the forests and life in the open.
Young Galus had matriculated that year at Sarajevo and that autumn was due to go on to Vienna to study. But in the matter of these studies there was a division of opinion in the family. The father wanted his son to study technical sciences or forestry and the son wanted to study philosophy. For Toma Galus only resembled his father in appearance and all his desires led him in a completely opposite direction. He was one of those good scholars, modest and exemplary in everything, who pass all their examinations with ease as if playing at them, but whose real and sincere interests are taken up with satisfying their somewhat confused and disordered spiritual aspirations outside school and outside the official curriculum. These are students of serene and simple heart but of uneasy and inquisitive spirit. Those difficult and dangerous crises of the life of the senses and emotions through which so many other younger men of their age pass, are almost unknown to them; therefore, they find difficulty in stilling their spiritual anxieties and very often remain all their lives dilettantes, interesting eccentrics without stable occupation or definite interests. As every young man must not only fulfill the eternal and natural demands of youth and maturity and also pay tribute to the current spiritual moods and fashions of his time, which for the moment reign amongst youth, Galus too had written verses and was an active member of the revolutionary nationalist student organizations. He had also studied French for five years as an optional subject, taken an interest in literature and, more especially, philosophy. He read passionately and indefatigably. The main body of reading of the young men at school in Sarajevo at that time consisted of works from the well-known and enormous German publishing house Reclams Universal-Bibliotek. These small cheap booklets with yellow covers and exceptionally small print were the main spiritual food available to the students of that time; from them they could become acquainted not only with German literature, but with all the more important works in world literature in German translation. From them Galus drew his knowledge of modern German philosophers, especially Nietzsche and Stirner, and in his walks in Sarajevo along the banks of the Miljacka held endless discussions about them with a sort of cold passion, in no way linking his reading with his personal life, as so many youths often do. This type of young scholar just through his examinations, ripened too early and overloaded with all kinds of varied, chaotic and uncoordinated knowledge, was not rare among the students of that time. A modest youth and a good student, Galus knew the freedom and the unrestraint of youth only in the daring of his thoughts and the exaggerations of his reading.
Fehim Bahtijarevic was a townsman on his mother's side only. His father had been born in Rogatica and was now Kadi (Moslem judge) there, but his mother was from the great local family of Osmanagic. From his earliest childhood he passed a part of the summer vacation in the town with his mother and her relatives. He was a slender youth, graceful and well formed, fine-boned but strong. Everything about him was measured, restrained, controlled. The fine oval of his face was sunburnt, his skin browned with light touches of a dark bluish shade, his movements few and abrupt; his eyes were black with blue shadings in the whites and his glance burning but without sparkle. He had thick eyebrows which met, and a fine black down on his upper lip. Such faces are reminiscent of Persian miniatures.
That summer he too had matriculated and he was now waiting to get a state grant to study oriental languages in Vienna.
The two young men were continuing some conversation begun earlier. The subject was Bahtijarevic's choice of studies. Galus was proving to him that he would be making a mistake in taking up oriental studies. In general Galus spoke much more, and more animatedly, than his companion for he was accustomed to be listened to and to lay down the law, while Bahtijarevic spoke shortly, like a man who has his own fixed ideas and feels no need to convince anyone else. Like most young men who have read much, Galus spoke with a naive satisfaction in words, picturesque expressions and comparisons, and with a tendency to generalize, whereas Bahtijarevic spoke dryly, curtly, almost indifferently.
Hidden in the shadows and reclining on the stone seats, Stikovic and Glasincanin remained silent as if they had tacitly agreed to listen to the conversation of their two comrades on the bridge.
Finishing the conversation about studies, Galus said belligerently:
"In that you Moslems, you begs' sons, often make a mistake. Disconcerted by the new times, you no longer know your exact and rightful place in the world. Your love for everything oriental is only a contemporary expression of your 'will to power'; for you the Eastern way of life and thought is very closely bound up with a social and legal order which was the basis of your centuries of lordship. That is understandable, but it in no way means that you have any sense for orientalism as a study. You are orientals but you are making a mistake when you think that you are thereby called upon to be orientalists. In general you have not got the calling or the true inclination for science.
"No, you haven't. And when I say that, I am not saying anything insulting or offensive. On the contrary. You are the only nobles in this country, or at least you were; for centuries you have enlarged, confirmed and defended your privileges by sword and pen, legally, religiously and by force of arms; that has made of you typical warriors, administrators and landowners, and that class of men nowhere in the world worries about abstract sciences but leaves them to those who have nothing else and can do nothing else. The true studies for you are law and economics, for you are men of practical knowledge. Such are men from the ruling classes, always and everywhere."
"You mean that we should remain uneducated?"
"No, it does not mean that, but it means that you must remain what you are or, of you like, what you have been; you must, for no one can be at the same time what he is and the contrary of what he is."
"But we are no longer a ruling class today. Today we are all equal." Bahtijarevic broke in once more with a touch of irony, in which was both bitterness and pride.
"You are not, naturally you are not. The conditions which at one time made you what you were have changed long ago, but that does not mean that you can change with the same speed. This is not the first, nor will it be the last, instance of a social caste losing its reason for existence and yet remaining the same. Conditions of life change but a class remains what it is, for only so can it exist and as such it will die."
The conversation of the two unseen youths broke off for a moment, stifled by Bahtijarevic's silence.
In the clear June sky, above the dark mountains on the horizon, the moon appeared. The white plaque with the Turkish inscription suddenly shone in the moonlight, like a dimly lit window in the blue-black darkness.
Bahtijarevic then said something, but in so low a voice that only disjointed and incomprehensible words reached Stikovic and Glasincanin. As so often in young men's discussions, in which changes of subject are rapid and bold, the conversation was now about another matter. From the study of oriental languages, they had now passed on to the content of the inscription on the white plaque before them and to the bridge and he who had built it.
Galus's voice was the louder and more expressive. While agreeing with Bahtijarevic's praises of Mehmed Pasha Sokolovic and the Turkish administration of his times, which had made possible the building of such a bridge, he now developed his nationalist views on the past and present of the people, their culture and civilization (for in such student discussions each follows his own train of thought).
"You are right," said Galus. "He must have been a man of genius. He was not the first nor the last man of our blood who distinguished himself in the service of a foreign empire. We have given hundreds of such men, statesmen, generals and artists, to Istanbul, Rome and Vienna. The sense of our national unification in a single, great and powerful modern state lies just in that. Our own forces should remain in our own country and develop there and make their contribution to general culture in our name and not from foreign centers."
"Do you really think that those 'centers' arose by chance and that it is possible to create new ones at will whenever and wherever one likes?"
"Chance or not, that is no longer the question; it is not important how they arose, but it is important that today they are disappearing, that they have flowered and decayed, that they must make way for new and different centers, through which young and free nations, appearing for the first time on the stage of history, can express themselves directly."
"Do you think that Mehmed Pasha Sokolovic, had he remained a peasant's child up there yonder at Sokolovici, would have become what he became and would, among other things, have built this bridge on which we are now walking?"
"In those times, certainly, he would not. But, when you come to think of it, it was not hard for Istambul to put up such buildings, when it took from us, and from so many other subject peoples, not only property and money, but also our best men and our purest blood. If you stop to think what we are and how much has been stolen from us through the centuries, then all these buildings are merely crumbs. But when we finally achieve our national freedom and our independence, then our money and our blood will be ours alone, and will stay ours. Everything will be solely and uniquely for the improvement of our own national culture, which will bear our mark and our name and which will be mindful of the happiness and prosperity of all our people."
Bahtijarevic remained silent, and that silence, like the most lively and eloquent speech, provoked Galus. He raised his voice and continued in a sharper tone. With all his natural vivacity and all the vocabulary then prevalent in nationalist literature, he set out the plans and aims of the revolutionary youth movement. All the living forces of the race must be awakened and set in action. Under their blows Austro-Hungarian monarchy, that prison of the peoples, would disintegrate as the Turkish Empire had disintegrated. All the anti-national and reactionary forces which today hinder, divide and lull to sleep our national forces will be routed and trampled underfoot. All this can be done, for the spirit of the times in which we live is our strongest ally, for all the efforts of all the other small and oppressed nations support us. Modern nationalism will triumph over religious verities and outmoded prejudice, will liberate our people from foreign influence and exploitation. Then will the national state be born.
Galus then described all the advantages and beauties of the new national state which was to rally all the Southern Slavs around Serbia as a sort of Piedmont on the basis of complete national unity, religious tolerance and civil equality. His speech mixed up bold words of uncertain meaning and expressions that accurately expressed the needs of modern life, the deepest desires of a race, most of which were destined to remain only desires, and the justified and attainable demands of everyday reality. It mingled the great truths which had ripened through the generations but which only youth could perceive in advance and dare to express, with the eternal illusions which are never extinguished but never attain realization, for one generation of youth hands them on to the next like that mythological torch. In the young man's speech there were, naturally, many assertions which could not have stood up to the criticism of reality and many suppositions which could not, perhaps, have borne the proof of experience, but in it too was that freshness, that precious essence which maintains and rejuvenates the tree of humanity.
Bahtijarevic remained silent.
"You will see, Fehim," Galus enthusiastically assured his friend as if it were a matter of the same night or the next morning, "you will see. We shall create a state which will make the most precious contribution to the progress of humanity, in which every effort will be blessed, every sacrifice holy, every thought original and expressed in our own words, and every deed marked with the stamp of our name. Then we will carry out work which will be the result of our free labor and the expression of our racial genius, put up buildings in comparison with which all that has been done in the centuries of foreign administration will appear like silly toys. We will bridge greater rivers and deeper abysses. We will build new, greater and better bridges, not to link foreign centers with conquered lands but to link our own lands with the rest of the world. There can no longer be any doubt. We are destined to realize all that the generations before us have aspired to; a state, born in freedom and founded on justice, like a part of God's thought realized here on earth."
Bahtijarevic remained silent. Even Galus's voice lowered in tone. As his ideas became more exalted, his voice became lower and lower, hoarser and hoarser, till it became a strong and passionate whisper and was finally lost in the great silence of the night. At last both young men were silent. But none the less Bahtijarevic's silence seemed a thing apart, heavy and obstinate in the night. It seemed like an impassable wall in the darkness which by the very weight of its existence resolutely rejected all that the other had said, and expressed its dumb, clear and unalterable opinion.
"The foundations of the world and the bases of life and human relationships in it have been fixed for centuries. That does not mean that they do not change, but measured by the length of human existence they appear eternal. The relation between their endurance and the length of human existence is the same as the relation between the uneasy, moving and swift surface of a river and its stable and solid bed whose changes are slow and imperceptible. The very idea of the change of these 'centres' is unhealthy and unacceptable. That would be as if someone wished to change the measure and the sources of great rivers or the sites of mountains. The desire for sudden changes and the thought of their realization by force often appear among men like a disease and gain ground mainly in young brains; only these brains do not think as they should, do not amount to anything in the end and the heads that think thus do not remain long on their shoulders. For it is not human desires that dispose and administer the things of the world. Desire is like a wind; it shifts the dust from one place to another, sometimes darkens the whole horizon, but in the end calms down and falls and leaves the old and eternal picture of the world. Lasting deeds are realized on this earth only by God's will, and man is only His blind and humble tool. A deed which is born of desire, human desire, either does not live till realization or is not lasting; in no case is that good. All these tumultuous desires and daring words under the night sky on the kapija will not change anything basically; they will pass, beneath the great and permanent realities of the world and will be lost where all desires and winds are stilled. In truth great men and great buildings rise and will rise only where they are appointed to arise in God's thought, in their right place independent of empty transient desires and human vanity."
But Bahtijarevic did not utter a single one of these words. Those who, like this Moslem youth of noble family, carry their philosophy in their blood, live and die according to it, do not know how to express it in words, or feel the need to do so. After this long silence Stikovic and Glasincanin only saw one or the other of the pair of unseen comrades throw a cigarette stub over the parapet and watched it fall like a shooting star in a great curve from the bridge into the Drina. At the same time they heard the two friends slowly and softly moving away towards the marketplace. The sound of their footsteps was soon lost.
* a copper.
* a fairy tale maiden.