This Pretty Land of Bulgaria

Ангел Каралийчев


A Bulgarian fairy tale

This happened many, many years ago. The Earth was as flat as a pancake then and as unfriendly as the desert: there were neither mountains, nor valleys, neither seas, nor fields. No summer or winter, no day or night; the sun and the moon wondered in the heavens hand in hand, and the wolf ate from the same trough as the lamb. All sorts of things were happening at that time in the world, such as won’t happen today…

So it was in those days that the Lord God decided to open up His treasury and give humankind all the various blessings of the Earth. And He summoned all peoples and they all came. Only the Americans were absent because Columbus had not yet discovered America. Al the peoples then took their place in the queue before the Lord’s throne: foremost stood the English because they regarded themselves as the wealthiest, the mightiest, and the wisest – the best in everything! And the Bulgarians crowded snugly at the very end of the queue – shy as always they’ve been, patient, and believing that the Lord God who is Almighty will have spared a thought for them, too.

And so began the Creator to deal out His great treasure: to the English gave He the seas, to the Russians dealt He the plains, to the Swedes – the woods, to the Swiss – the mountains, to the Finns – the lakes… Thus gave the Lord with His hands full. And the devil (curse him!), who was lurking around as the devil he is – he couldn’t ever keep quiet and he ever did was sly deeds – of each gift he broke off the best part and slipped it into his bosom.

All the peoples filed past and the Bulgarians’ turn came at last. The Lord God fumbled in the bag and took out an empty hand.

‘Whew! What is this thing?! I thought I’d reckoned it all up but now…’, there He stood pondering and started glancing around.

And saw the Lord Almighty that the devil was nowhere to be seen. So, he figured out who could have upset his reckoning and ordered one of the angels: ‘Go fetch the devil!’

Then the Lord’s servant flew up and then down, here and there, and found the dishonest one: he had just skulked behind a dark cloud and was looking into his bosom, counting what he had stolen. And so the angel caught him by his goat’s ear and took him to the Lord.

‘What did you, old rascal, do?’ the Old Man scolded him.

And the devil, looking as if butter wouldn't melt in his mouth, replied, ‘I’ve done nothing bad!’

‘You’ve stolen the Bulgarians’ share!’

‘God forbid, I haven’t!’ said he and started making the sign of the cross with his crooked fingers, without even fluttering his eyelids.

‘Search him!’ ordered the Lord to Archangel Michael.

And the angel thrust his hand into the devil’s bosom and started taking out mountains covered in eternal snow, fertile lowlands, murky forests, foamy rivers, a blue sea – each one better than the other.

Then the Lord God gave it all to the Bulgarians and they left most satisfied.

That is why there are all sorts of beauties in our small land.

Download this fairytale in .PDF format - English translation + Bulgarian text
This fairy tale is taken from SILIAN THE STORK, vol.1, Fairytales of the Balkan peoples.
© Angel Karaijchev, Nikolay Todorov
Illustrations by Stoimen Stoilov
c/o Jusautor, Sofia, 1979