"Residence in Bulgaria", St. Clair and Brophy


ON the first Sunday after Easter (1868) there was a betrothal in this village, celebrated as usual by unlimited dancing and drinking; about mid-night some young men, by no means sober, commenced firing loaded guns and pistols, an ordinary accompaniment of any festivity in the East. One of them, in drawing a pistol from his belt, accidentally touched the trigger and the charge of buck-shot was lodged in the thigh of a youth standing about three paces from him. Next morning we were asked to come and cure the wounded man, but, having none of the necessary surgical implements, we declined to interfere in so serious a case, and strongly recommended the removal of the patient to the hospital at Varna: we were told, however, that the Medjliss or Council of the village had assembled, and decided that he was not to be taken to Varna, whereupon we made an appeal to the feelings of his mother, representing that her son's life was in danger; her answer was that "whether he lived or died he should not go out of the village." An hour or two later another messenger came to inform us that a "Hekim" (doctor) had passed through the village, and promised to effect a cure if we would come and watch his proceedings: on enquiry we found that this "doctor" was a mere peasant, who had already commenced his treatment by bleeding the patient in the thigh and in the mouth! Of course we declined to give the sanction of our presence to this kind of surgery, for which we had no power of substituting a proper system, At this date (May 7th) the wounded man is still under the care of the "Hekim" (whose fee is 5 l.), but as none of the buck-shot have been extracted, and the hot weather seems to have set in definitively, gangrene may very possibly intervene and carry off the poor fellow.

We learned afterwards that the reason of the interference of the Medjliss was that they feared an official enquiry into the affair at Varna, which might result in the arrest of the man who fired the pistol, and even a general confiscation of the fire-arms of the village, as Turkish subjects have (nominally) no right to possess arms without a Government license.

For the sake of the young man, we had the affair represented to the authorities at Varna, urging the necessity of his being sent to the hospital there, but as yet no notice has been taken of the occurrence, and it is very doubtful whether the Conac will act in the matter although it involves a breach of Turkish law.

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