The Legend of the Built-in Wife

The Legend of the Built-in Wife

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    There are many legends about the construction of the fortress walls around the town of Hisarya, earlier called the town of Trayan. One of them is the legend of the built-in wife.

The legend says that a workman named Manol was responsible for erecting the monumental walls. This man was considered a hero in the folklore of the Balkan nations. 

     He was building the walls along with ten thousand workers. The workers were not bad at all but there was some kind of magic in that construction. During the day, the men were putting all their effort and skill in the walls. However, when nighttime came, everything they had built was tearing down. As if an invisible force pushed the walls and demolished them no matter how strong they were made. Because of that, the construction advanced so slowly that the lords were punishing the workers every day.

    Manol and some of the better workers were wondering what to do in order to make the walls stable and prevent them from falling at night. One of the older masons said that in that case a young woman had to be built in the construction. That woman would be the one who would come first the following morning to bring lunch to her husband. And no, not her shadow had to be built in, which was a common practise, but the woman herself had to be built in the wall alive. The younger workers’ blood froze but there was no way out, they had to accept in the name of their work.

     In the evening, after sunset the workers went home and told their wives about the harsh decision. They warned the women not to go to the fortress walls early. The only workman who didn’t tell his wife was Manol. His heart was bleeding when he watched her doing the housework, singing, swinging fondly their first baby boy in a cradle in the living room.  He knew that his sweetheart would be the first one to come to the construction the following morning but he found it unfair to tell her not to go. Manol didn’t sleep at all that night. He was contemplating the bright moon through a small window, begging it to help him somehow, to make his early-rising bride oversleep in the morning. After that, he was turning to his sleeping wife, caressing her cheeks and silently bidding farewell.

    At dawn workman Manol headed for the construction. His legs were heavy. The other workers were looking at him. They were feeling compassion for the man because they were sure that he hadn’t told his wife about the harsh decision. Before long from the village was approaching Manol’s bonny wife. She was carrying the child in one hand and a pot of food, which she had cooked for her beloved earlier than the other women. The mother didn’t suspect anything bad. But as soon as she arrived at the construction, she understood everything. There were masons on top of the wall staring at her. She could read the sadness in their eyes…And Manol’s heart would nearly burst with grief. 

    Without uttering a word, the young woman dropped the pot and hurried to enter a niche in the wall which was prepared in advance. The only thing she asked for was that her breasts be left out for as long as possible in order to be able to feed her baby longer. Everyone at the construction seemed to have turned into a stone. Such beauty would be wasted, such youth and, moreover, a mother…And Manol didn’t know if he was dead of alive. There was only one thing he knew – the construction would progress from then on but his life was already over.

    After so many years, on one of the fortress gates can be seen a rose and a rue, which once adorned the unfortunate wife. Below them, there is something white resembling milk where the mother had fed her baby till her last breath in the construction.

Tags: built-in, wife, wall, workman, love

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