by John P. Jackson
The Cosmopolitan
Vol. VI, November, 1888April, 1889
John Brisben Walker, New York, 1889

A FEELING of regret comes over one reading that Alphonse Daudet is to visit Chateau Sinaia, there to collaborate with Carmen Sylva, Roumania’s Poet-Queen in the production of a novel. The offer was made by Queen Elizabeth herself, and accepted by the French novelist “with alacrity. A pity; for the especial charm of Carmen Sylva’s stories and poems has been their naiveté, their sweet simplicity of thought and language, their freedom from all conventional methods, their homely beauty. The French Academy has offered an exceptional prize to her for the beauty of her literary work. And Pierre Loti describes his visit to her as the days he spent in an enchanted palace with a fairy queen. Queen Elizabeth complains in her letter to Daudet at “the exuberance of her fancy, which makes it impossible for her to cling to reality, and makes fairy tales out of her fiction.” What a charming admission! and what a pity it will be if Carmen Sylva sacrifices her delightful fancies, which written down have bound the hearts of a whole country to her husband’s throne, for the desire to gain the empty plaudits of the Parisians and of the great world beyond the borders of the little Danubian kingdom to which she was transplanted, now some twenty years ago, by Prince Carol. Queen Elizabeth has written much, too much, in fact, and her work shows often the necessity of the editorial break. Novels, poems, children’s stories, legendary tales, a drama, and an operatic libretto, have followed one after the other in quick succession ; but among them are delightful things, such as the “Pensées d’une Reine,” and her Carpathian stories, published under the title of “From Carmen Sylva’s Realm,” that have made her a high and permanent place in the German literary world. In all, she reveals herself as a very gifted and intelligent princess.

Carmen Sylva has not soared to the highest flights in poetry. She has written much, perhaps a thousand pages of it, but a large portion bears the impress in expression of other genius than her own, except when she sings from her own heart, of her past joys and sorrows, or puts a delicious bit of Roumanian folk or fairy lore into graceful verse. When Carmen Sylva became Princess of Moldo-Wallachia, and a few years afterward lost her only child, she made the decision thenceforth to labor for the good of the children of her adopted country, to unveil to them the treasures of folklore that existed among the dwellers of the hills and valleys of ancient Dacia, and to do her part in educating them in patriotism by the narration of simple stories of peasant life and peasant fidelity. The royal heart that had lost its own child went out and sought to make the children of a nation its own, and succeeded. Year after year from her beautiful castle in the Carpathians, where the wild Pelesch in its calmer moods whispers to her its stories, the poet-queen has devoted herself to writing for the benefit of her Roumanian child-subjects, and with each year she has drawn the bond of sympathy between her husband and his people closer and surer. The Queen’s best-known book, “From Carmen Sylva’s Realm,” had its origin in this wise: In the spring of 1882, when recovering from a very severe illness, the Roumanian Minister of Public Instruction asked Her Majesty if she would not deign to write a book that could be used in the public schools of the kingdom, as a premium to be given to the best scholars at the close of the year’s work. To this request the Queen readily consented, and the result was the delightful stories and legends from the mountains and valleys around her home in the Carpathians, with illustrations by her own hand. The queen-poetess has now just finished another book for her Roumanian children, also with her own illustrations, which is also to serve as a premium for the school-children of Roumania.

Carmen Sylva at Westerland, by the North Sea, with her Juvenile Court.

Queen Elizabeth loves story-telling and story-writing. In the Roumanian schools a day in every month has been appointed for the reading of Her Majesty’s poems and stories, and sometimes the royal authoress herself takes delight in telling them to the little folk, in the way we imagine Hans Christian Andersen did, with his little Danes gathered around him. One of the pictures at the recent Paris Salon was entitled, “The Legend of Queen Elizabeth of Roumania, Relating Her Own Stories to Her Country- Children.” The accompanying illustration by a German artist represents the royal storyteller as seen at a little North Sea watering- place. It is best described by the language of Mr. Beattie Kingston, a pronounced admirer of Her Majesty’s genius: “Scheherezade—if she ever existed at all and is not a solar myth—is dead and embalmed, but the modern ‘Queen Bee’ of story-tellers is yet alive among us, and we have heard news of her. Far away on the sands of the North Sea watering-place, Westerland, she has been holding a little juvenile court. Every day she plants her camp-stool by the edge of the ripples that furrow the ‘ribbed sea sand,’ and the children call it her throne, decorate it with wild flowers, and dig entrenchments around it with their little wooden spades to keep off the krahen and the sea-serpents, who are of course singularly active and dangerous at this season of the year. They build up a huge fort of sand, probably nearly a full yard high, and defiantly plant their small toy flags, captured at the point of the fork from the sugar bastions and mamelons of many cakes, as a warning to the great powers not to interfere. Then they sit in a circle and listen to the royal ‘Maerchentante’—the fairy-tale aunt—as she weaves them legends of elves, gnomes, pixies, sprites, water babies, and ‘ good people’ generally.” The origin of the royal fairy-lore seances on the island of Sylt was this: When the Queen arrived at Westerland she was given a picturesque reception by the juvenile portion of the assembled guests, who lined the pathway leading down to the beach, and held ensigns and flags over the head of the royal visitor. Pleased with this welcome, a day or two later she gathered her young friends around her on the beach, and read aloud to them one of her tales, to which, we are told, they and the elder guests listened with rapt attention.

The King and Queen of Roumania at Sinaia.

The telling of stories in prose and verse has been Carmen Sylva’s greatest delight ever since she was a child. Queen Elizabeth, of Roumania, is a daughter of Prince Hermann of Ried, and was born on the 29th of December, 1843, at the modern castle of Monrepos, a short distance from the quaint old town of Neuwied, on that part of the Rhine “where every rocky height has its romance, and every green valley its legend.” Natalie Freiin von Stackelberg gives in her book, “Aus Carmen Sylva’s Leben,” much interesting matter about the young princess’s early life at Monrepos, where, “in winter the wind howls through the forest which forms a background to the quiet scene, and in summer millions of rose- leaves flutter through the air, heavy with the scent of flowers.” The little princess’s chief characteristics were “truthfulness and independence in her boisterous childish sports and gambols.” Her mother, Princess Marie, we are told, found it difficult to educate her, until her governess discovered that a fairy tale or story acted as a charm upon the vivacious child. The village children were her playmates; she grew up in happy ignorance of sorrow or the difference of rank till she was seven years old, when her mother’s serious illness was her first great grief. The princess early developed a capacity for imbibing knowledge. Prince Hermann, who, after Princess Marie’s illness, removed to Bonn, loved to have the scholars and artists of the quaint university town gather about him, and the little princess was especially fond of being present at the seances in her father’s study, where she saw and heard such men as Ernst Moritz Arndt, Perthes, Bunsen, Berneys, Julius Lessing, and a host of eminent people.

Arndt was wont to read aloud his patriotic songs to her mother, while the little princess, who sat on his knee, breathless and flushed, listened to his stirring poetry. “Possibly,” says the Baroness von Stackelburg, “the poetical talent which lay dormant in her soul was first awakened by the gray-haired poet, as, according to the princess’s own words, it was fostered by the Voices of the Woods of Monrepos, for almost unconsciously the child put her first rhymes to paper, timidly keeping them from the eye of all the world.” Some of these early poems are published in Baroness Stackelberg’s book. They have been accurately described as “the half articulate utterances of a young soul overwhelmed by the grandeur and beauty of nature, and vainly seeking for apt words to express its thoughts.”

Living in a home much darkened by ill-health and bereavement, the princess’s mind soon took on earnest views of life. Her little brother, Prince Otto, died when she was twelve years of age, and she had constituted herself his unwearying nurse and attendant, trying to lessen his suffering in her own way by telling him fairy stories and imparting to him all the knowledge she herself had gained day by day. After Prince Otto’s death, the little princess asked her father to allow her to become a school-teacher. There dwelt in her father’s house a poor lame boy, named Rudolf Wackernagel, and him the little princess took pleasure in preparing for the gymnasium. She also took delight in giving instruction three hours every day to the nieces of Freifrau von Bibra. Three other hours she devoted to reading with her father, and four or five hours more were given to music and art. The Queen is an accomplished musician, the result of her studies in her early days as a pupil of Clara Schumann. But her favorite occupation in youth was that of a fairy story teller. She loved, most of all, the Baroness von Stackelberg says, to sit under trees, decorated with flowers by the little children, and recite tales and stories by the hour. Her mother called her Waldroeschen—Little Wild Rose. Her favorite books at the time, besides German, were “Ivanhoe,” “The Wide, Wide World,” Shakespeare and Charles Dickens. As a girl she paid visits to several of the European courts. She spent a long time with her aunt, the Grand Duchess Helen, at St. Petersburg, and was there privileged to listen to the most gifted talkers of the day. She kept up her studies all the time, and while in the Russian capital was a pupil of Rubenstein, who later dedicated to her one of his finest compositions, “The Sulamite.” Her letters during this period are girlishly interesting. She speaks with enthusiasm of her talks about Italy with the painter Piloty, of Joachim’s Himmelsgeige, and of Frau Joachim’s voice like a rauschender Bergstrom. The sudden death of her father recalled her to the Rhine, where she spent some years in seclusion and in writing poetry, “singing of willow trees and of birds and of mystical sorrows,” which she published under the nom de plume of Carmen Sylva—Voices of the Forest—and which gained a good welcome in Germany.

Carmen Sylva's Study at Chateau Pelesch.

Princess Elizabeth’s desire to become a teacher of the young grew with her quiet life at Monrepos. But fate had something better in store for her: the kindly Norus had cast the golden thread around her and a fairy-tale prince, who was to fall in love with her and to give her the opportunity of teaching not merely a simple school on the Rhine but the children of an entire nation on the Danube. In 1866 Prince Charles of Hohenzollern Sigmaringen had been placed upon the throne of Moldo-Wallachia by the European powers, with the title first held by General Couza, as Prince of Roumania. He proved himself an efficient and energetic prince, and his popularity was soon so well founded that he was induced to go out a wooing so as to be able to insure the perpetuation of his race to the principality. In earlier years he had met Princess Elizabeth at the court of Berlin, and the princess’s biographers tell the story that he there almost saved her life. She was descending the stairs when her foot slipped, and no one knows what the result might have been had not the gallant prince, then a handsome young lieutenant, caught her in his arms and saved her. Be this as it may, while the princess and her mother were at Cologne in 1868, Prince Charles, then Prince Carol of Roumania, paid them a visit. “What a handsome fellow he has grown to be!” exclaimed Princess Elizabeth. “Yes,” replied her mother, “and the Prince is here for the purpose of asking for your hand.” “He is a man whom every one must admire,” answered the princess, and on the following day her betrothal to the young ruler on the Danube was officially announced. In November, 1869, the twain were married, and on the 22nd of the same month Princess Elizabeth first trod Roumanian soil, and was received by thousands upon thousands of the people, who sang to her the Roumanian national hymn as welcome and greeting. With Prince Carol she was supremely happy; he worshiped her and declared that she was his better self. Soon a little daughter was born to them, but after a few short years of happy motherhood she bowed in anguish over a tiny grave in which she felt that all her hopes were buried. For a time it seemed as if she herself would die of grief, and as years went by and more children were denied her, she grew sorrowful and longed for death. Then she sang some of her most beautiful, if sorrow-tinted songs, and as she wrote the deep wounds seemed to heal somewhat, though her poems are to this day full of touching regrets for the lost one. This is ever the refrain of her singing: “Dimbovitza Dimbovitza, I am chained to thee, O dearest; Since beside thy banks they buried One who to my heart was dearest.” A little poem of sorrow for the dead princess is especially touching:

For thy dear arms outstretched my soul is yearning,
      For thy dear voice of wonder-sweetest tone;
For thy dear lips, for a mother’s kiss upturning,
      And that clear bird-like song, forever gone.

I yearn to hear thy words of child heart’s loving,
      To hear thy tiny footsteps’ gentle tread
Yet is thy spirit presence near me moving,
      And my own heart is moving with the dead.

The Queen and Her Ladies in the Roumanian National Dress.

“The great mission of a queen is to provide descendants for the dynasty to which she has been chosen.” So wrote Carmen Sylva in her charming “Pensées d’une Reine.” “Read the volume,” says a writer, “and then say if sorrow has ever been more truly analyzed, if grief has not been probed to its uttermost depth before resignation was born. So much has never been expressed with so few words, and these pages are at once the evidence of the perfection of a soul and of the imperfection of destiny.” These Pensées are not all of regrets and of sorrows. There is bitterness in many of them, and the one above quoted was doubtless born during that period of her sorrow when cruel hints were thrown out that for reasons of state her husband should put her aside. But to his credit be it said, Prince Carol refused to listen to the suggestion, and he was supported in his decision by the people of Roumania, who assented to the succession of the throne devolving upon the Prince’s cousin. These Royal Thoughts contain some sound philosophic truth. The Queen writes:

“If a woman is bad, man is generally the first cause.”

“Do not trust a man who does not believe in the possibility of home happiness.”

“The woman of the world is rarely her husband’s wife.”

“An unhappy wife is like a flower exposed to the blasts; she remains a bud for a long time, but when she develops to a blossom she quickly withers and fades.”

“A wife needs a great amount of virtue; for she must often have sufficient to serve both herself and her spouse.”

“If we forgive, we love no longer; true love knows nothing of forgiveness.”

“The jealousy of those who love us is the grandest flattery that can be paid us.”

“Man and wife should never cease to do a little courting, no matter how old they may have grown.”

“True happiness is found in doing our duty every day of our lives.”

“A hundred different and sweet-smelling leaves are needed to form a rose, and hundreds of pure joys are required to make perfect happiness.”

“Love, hate, jealousy and fate are blind; to see clearly we must go beyond our present existence.”

“A prince should possess only eyes and ears. His lips should serve him for smiles only.”

“Women in politics are like hens trying to crow.”

“To have received many wounds will make you a hero in the eyes of some, while others will regard you as an invalid.”

“When we wish to affirm anything, it is easy to call on God as a witness, for he never contradicts.”

“Many persons criticise in order not to seem ignorant; they do not know that indulgence is a mark of the highest culture.”

“To all mortals is given a tongue, and sometimes a pen, with which to defend themselves. Sovereigns alone are expected to be like God, and to allow themselves to be spoken ill of without making a reply.”

“Contradiction animates conversation; that is why courts are generally monotonous.”

“To be the friend of a sovereign, one must be without passion, without ambition, without selfishness—foreseeing and clear-seeing—in short, not a man.”

“Study well the human body, the mind is not far off.”

“Man’s honor wears armor, and carries a mace—woman’s honor has only soft breezes and perfumes.”

“Animals are free in their own element; does our slavery arise from our being so rarely in our element?”

“Man is a violin, and it is only when the last chord is broken that he becomes a piece of wood.”

“One needs a knowledge of mankind before one can be simply and wholly one self.”

“If we are created after the image of God, we must in our turn be creators.”

“An assemblage of men is an accumulation of Æolian harps, whose notes are discordant or harmonious, according to the way the wind blows.”

Castle Pelesch.

Five years ago Queen Elizabeth was stricken for a time with paralysis of the limbs and suffered the greatest torture, but she recovered in a miraculous manner after a course of massage treatment under a celebrated Dutch specialist at Schevingen. She then returned to Roumania, and confident of the love of her husband and the people of her adopted country, she devoted herself heart and soul to her land’s welfare in every direction. She founded institutions for the poor, schools for the teaching of weaving, embroidery and useful arts ; she gave brilliant festivities, the proceeds of which she allotted to benevolent institutions ; and when the war between Russia and Turkey broke out, and Roumania was called upon to fight against the Turk, she devoted herself to the sick, meeting the trains as they came up to Bucharest from the Danube filled with the wounded, and superintended the feeding, clothing and nursing of the invalids. In doing this she won all hearts in Roumania, and her good works became a legend told at the fireside by the peasants dwelling on the plains of the Danube and in the valleys of the Carpathian. They told about how Mame Regine could even heal the wounded by merely looking upon them. They spoke of her as “Muma Ranitilor”—the Mother of the Wounded—and when in 1881, Roumania was created a kingdom, and Prince Carol and Princess Elizabeth were crowned as king and queen of Roumania, the words “Muma Ranitilor” were seen in golden letters on many a triumphal arch. The queen expressed her happiness when the war was over, saying how delighted she was to get back to her flowers, her birds and her books. “I find it an anomaly and a misfortune,” she said, “when a woman is compelled to go out into public life.” In gratitude to her the officers of the Roumanian army subscribed for a memorial group in silver, in which the queen is represented in her Red Cross dress tendering a drink of water to a wounded soldier. In such wise, while Prince Carol did his duty with his troops on many a hard-fought field, and at one time really saved the Russians from disaster, Princess Elizabeth won a place for herself and royalty in the hearts of her people.

Castle Pelesch at Sinaia. From a Drawing by Carmen Sylva.

After the war Princess Elizabeth devoted herself more and more to good works along with poetry. She gave much attention to the Asyle Helène, an orphan home, where nearly five hundred girls are taught in the practical sciences, languages, bookkeeping, and artistic and plain needlework. In the Scola Elisabeta Doamna the princess (now queen) supports at her own expense eighty of the very poorest girls, who are taught reading, writing, arithmetic, and national embroidery, until they reach an age at which they can support themselves. She founded the Société Elisabeta, whose mission is to supply wood in winter to poor people ; and she gives support to the Albina, an institution wherein a thousand poor women are given sewing and embroidery to do. All in her power the queen does to advance the interests of Roumanian national industries. She herself sets an example to the rich boyar ladies in wearing the Roumanian national costume, and has led the fashion in buying the beautiful national embroidery, thereby saving to the country vast sums that formerly went to Paris. “I love the peasant dress so much,” recently remarked the queen to an American lady visitor, “and you must really take some of these costumes home to the United States with you.” “But how should we know how to wear them?” asked the American. “Well, I will give you a photograph of myself at the festival here when I was dressed in that costume,” wherein she looks very charming. At the queen’s instigation the Roumanian Chambers voted the sum of 200,000 francs for the erection of a national school for the teaching of weaving and industrial matters; and other sums have since been voted to provide industrious women with weaving apparatus, for planting mulberry trees, and for the promotion of the silk industry in the country. In every way she has endeavored to open up new sources of gain to Roumania, showing in everything she does that with all the ideal direction of her mind, she is yet as practical as in the days when her highest wish was to become a school-teacher. And it was the Empress of Austria who, after a visit to Queen Elizabeth at her Castle of Sinaia, said that she could not imagine anything more ideal than the life and surroundings of Roumania’s Carmen Sylva.

The fame of Queen Elizabeth as a writer is due principally to her writings since the Russo-Turkish war, after which event she was more able to give herself up to her art and literary work than in the early days of her life on the Danube. In 1881 she published, under her pseudonym Carmen Sylva, a volume of poems under the general title of “Stuerme” (Storms). All of them show skill in versification and, often, the form and manner of Scheffel and Heine. In 1883 followed her best work-, the stories and legends from the Carpathians. A picture of Carmen Sylva1 s beautiful castle, where the book was written, drawn by the queen herself, forms the frontispiece of the volume, and appears above.

In The Royal Library.

The stories embraced in the volume are partly legendary, partly patriotic, partly instructive, but all connected in scenery with the mountain peaks and valleys around about the Kastell. Thus she begins in the one entitled “Virful cu Dor”: “There was once a hero in Sinaia (the village close to the chateau) such as had never been seen before; for it was a great holiday, and the monks in the monastery had distributed food, whole cartloads, and the people had eaten till they could not eat any longer. The peasants had come from long distances, from Isvor and Poena Zapulué, from Comarnic and Predeal, and from over the mountains. The sun shone so warmly in the valley that the maidens had to take their kerchiefs from their heads, and the young peasant youths pushed their flower-decked hats back upon their brows, because they were so hot from dancing. The women stood on the greensward, all round about, suckling their children; their veils gleaming as white as apple blossoms. There was a great stamping and shouting by the joyous dancers; the girls seemed fairly, to float, for their feet did not seem to touch the ground. The dancing was kept up unweariedly to the restless playing of the lantari, like the pulsations in the veins, like the waves in larger and smaller circles.” The story that Carmen Sylva then tells is of a young and handsome shepherd youth named Jonel, who had been dancing with his sweetheart, the beautiful Irina, and as he is going away with his sheep, and will be away all summer in the mountains, he asks her if she will be true to him and be his when he returns. To this the willful girl replies that she will if he will go to the mountains and spend the night there without his sheep. This was very cruel of her, because there is a legend among the Roumanian peasants, that if a shepherd goes to the mountains without his flock, he will never return, but will come to an untimely end. But Jonel determined to spend the night in the mountains without his sheep; and there he is surrounded by beautiful fairies, who try to induce him to live with them, but in vain. Then the storm, the thunder and lightning rage fiercely so as to terrify him. Beautiful forms from the upper world appear, followed by clouds that seem like vast flocks of sheep, and he is promised all as his if he will consent to marry one of the lovely sprites. But Jonel is steadfast in his love to Irina, yet he has to be punished by the spirits for entering their mountain realm without his sheep, and next morning when he does not return to the village and his fellow shepherds go out to look for him, he is discovered on the crest of the mountain by his faithful dog, dead. It is a charming story, revealing a large amount of imagination.

Another of the stories “From Carmen Sylva’s Realm,” is intended to teach the virtue of bravery and loyalty to home and country. It tells of the beautiful Pauna, who was called “the Emperor’s child,” so majestically did she carry her head on her well-made shoulders whenever she walked along the village street. “But with all this she was not too proud to turn her head and look around and smile when Taunas went past her, or to bend her fair head to listen to him when he spoke to her at the house. If her friends teased her about Taunas, she blushed deeply, and everybody knew that the twain were lovers. Taunas was envied by all his comrades.” Then the war broke out and he had to go with the Roumanian troops over the Danube. Pauna wept bitterly when she heard the news, though she never showed her sorrow before the people of the village. But she had always the first information from the seat of war, and when she heard of the first great battle in which the Roumanians took part she had to lean against the stone cross at the entrance to the village, and everything seemed to swim about her. At night she could not sleep, for her thoughts brought up Taunas covered with wounds, dying, and maybe dead. . . . Suddenly there was a knock at the window, and she heard a voice, very softly saying: “Pauna, dearest Pauna, come to me. Do not fear. It is I, Taunas.”

“Pauna had her hand on the door-latch; soon she stood outside the house and felt an arm about her. But she repelled them embrace. ‘Who sent thee away from the army, Taunas?’ ‘Who?’ ‘No one.’ ‘No one! And thou art here? Is the war over, then?’ ‘Oh, no; the war is going on always, but I came away secretly, out of love for thee, Pauna!’ ‘Out of love for me?’ Pauna laughed bitterly. ‘Dost thou think, then, it gives me pleasure to have a deserter as my lover? Go away! Do not stay in my sight. Go where thou wilt. But this I will say, I will never be thy wife. For I could not bear to marry a man whom I must despise! I never dreamed I had a coward for a sweetheart.’ ‘I thought thou wouldst receive me with joy,’ said Taunas, ‘and let me conceal myself here.’ ‘Oh, shameful,’ exclaimed the young girl, ‘that I should have engaged myself to thee. I swear to thee that the peak of the Bucegi shall burn before I will become thy wife.’ ‘And I swear to thee,’ replied Taunas, ‘that thou shalt not see me again unless I am a cripple—or dead.’

“Pauna went in and closed the door. With beating heart she looked out after Taunas, and saw him stealing away under the shadow of the houses.’ . . . Weeks afterwards came the news of another terrible battle, and Pauna bid good-bye to her mother. . . . Gloom was over the battlefield. All around there were thousands of dead and wounded. Great watchfires were blazing; around them the army camped, and no one paid heed to the groans that came from the battlefield. A tall female figure was seen wandering among the dead and the dying. It was Pauna, and she had asked in vain for Taunas among the living and unwounded. She wandered around in the darkness; many times she cried out the name, ‘Taunas;’ often she would hear a groan in response, but she would shake her head sadly, after giving a refreshing drink. The morning began to break, and as she approached a lifeless form, she saw a ring gleaming on a hand that held something firmly grasped in it.

“Pauna knew the ring, and with a cry ‘Taunas!’ she sank on her knees before the body, whose face was covered with blood and was beyond recognition. She began to wash the face of the prostrate form she knew so well. She saw, while the tears fell in â stream down her cheeks, how that both eyes and the nose had been cruelly cut with a sword. She saw, too, how the blood still continued to flow, and then she was sure that her lover was not dead, and hastened to moisten his lips with water and to bind his wounds. Then he began to give signs of life, and when he heard his name spoken he groped with his hands in the air and touched the face of the one bending over him. ‘My Pauna,’ he said, in a voice scarcely audible, ‘let me die. I am blind. I have nothing to live for.’ ‘No, no, thou hast,’ answered Pauna, ‘thou art my betrothed, and I will take care of thee.’

“Weeks and weeks passed, and Pauna never left Taunas. One day the dwellers in the little village saw two people coming. One was blind, but he was lovingly led by the fair being at his side. It was Pauna and Taunas. And soon after there was a wedding in the village, and there was only one who could not see the pleasure on all the faces round about. Poor Taunas. But he found in Pauna a loving and devoted wife, who still lives and takes care of him.”

Kastell Pelesch, the beautiful chateau where Carmen Sylva writes her stories, is situated near the monastery of Sinaia in the Carpathians, on the pass leading from Austria across the mountains to the plains of Wallachia, in one of the wild, romantic valleys opening in the Prahova. All round about are the rocks and gorges which the royal writer took as the scenic settings for her stories. The old monastery, in which Princess Elizabeth lived before Pelesch was built, has quite a history. It was built by Prince Cantekuzeno, who, when about to set out on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, vowed that if he returned alive he would build in Roumania a monastery similar to the one on Mount Sinaia, in Palestine. It is a kind of Carpathian hospice of St. Bernard, the monks having the duty imposed upon them, in return for their home, to shelter and feed the people belonging to the caravans crossing the pass. The monks still reside there, and they were made very happy when Prince Carol first selected his summer home among the mountains, and willingly gave up some -of their room as a temporary home for the royal couple, while the chateau was built.

At last Kastell Pelesch, with its hundred rooms, was finished, and Carmen Sylva had a beautiful summer home of her own. Every detail of the chateau had been supervised by her. The interior is largely decorated with wood-carvings in imitation of the work of the sixteenth century. In the queen’s private apartment costly pictures are scattered among gorgeous woven fabrics of the East and a profusion of flowers, of which the royal occupant is extremely fond.

The music room, built from designs by the queen is entirely wainscoted and surrounded by carved walls like the chancel of a cathedral, while its stained glass windows represent scenes taken from the poems of Alexandri, the national poet of Roumania. The royal lady who presides in the Kastell has often been described; she is “tall and slender, walking with an easy grace and perfect rhythm. Her dazzling teeth and luminous eyes are, at the first view, the most striking features of her countenance; but when she has spoken, when a slight line furrows her lips, when a shade of thoughtful melancholy sweeps over her broad, fair forehead, it is not difficult to see that the woman has been cruelly tried.”

A German visitor describes her at dinner in a room beautifully decorated with flowers. She was dressed in the Roumanian national costume, while the king and his aides wore uniforms. At the table sat four ladies, true types of the Roumanian race, all wearing richly embroidered national costumes. After dinner the guests assembled in the music room, where one of the ladies sang Mendelssohn and Schubert songs, the queen herself playing the accompaniment on the piano. The music room is one of Carmen Sylva s favorite apartments. Thither she often resorts at dusk, where she plays or improvises for hours, oftentimes quite alone. The German visitor whom we have quoted describes her as taking him in the early morning for a three hours’ walk, visiting her favorite haunts in the mountains, returning at last to a charming little Dicklerstube or Poet’s House which she has just had built for herself in the park at Sinaia, which is built entirely of reeds, and in summer time is embowered in roses. Inside, the room is provided with small cages for the queen’s feathered pets, and in one corner a small fountain, filled with perfumed water, murmurs all day long. In the middle of the room is a mossy couch, a table made out of a single large block of stone, and near by is a hammock in which the royal poetess is lulled to summer sleep by the voices of the forest.

The Church of Curtea de Argisch.

The story of the building of the celebrated church of Argisch forms the subject of one of Carmen Sylva’s latest legendary tales. It is about the compact made by Master Manoli, the architect, who, to obviate the falling down of the walls, the work of the evil one, vowed to immure in the foundations the first woman who should serve at noontime with refreshments. The victim was his own wife; but the sacrifice enabled Manoli to complete his marvelous work, which is considered one of the best specimens of the Byzantine Renaissance in Roumania. For a long time the famous church was allowed to go to decay, but Carmen Sylva has restored it. Now the church of Argisch is a place of pilgrimage for all artists who visit Roumania. All its original beauties have been harmoniously restored in marble and gold and richly colored designs, and up above the hundreds of doves have been set in place and the notes of their magical bells, touched by every breath of wind, ring out like music of fairyland. It is a soft, sweet, gentle sound that is heard by the dwellers in the valley of the Argisch, and an echo of its enchantment seems to be wafted over the Atlantic with every legendary story or poem that comes from Carmen Sylva, Roumania’s gifted queen.