National Geographic : 1962 Jun
"Meet me at the fountain." Talk gushes like water at this rendezvous his destination, a Bulgarian village a score of miles along the highway. Then we rode in silence, his dark eyes constantly searching my face, observing my clothing, the contents of the car. Finally he spoke: "Russki?" he asked, his voice uncertain. "Ne, Amerikanski," I replied. He stared in disbelief. Then he gently took my hand from the wheel and kissed it and pressed it against his furrowed cheek. For the remaining few minutes of our ride together he held my hand in both of his, and wept. I know his name, and the name of his vil lage. But I do not think they need be told. Rescued by Bulgarian Soldiers It was long after dark when I passed the last Bulgarian village and approached the Turkish border. The excellent road disap peared, and I found myself hub-deep in soft sand on a detour. The car could go no farther. Then a lantern appeared a hundred yards up the road. Four Bulgarian soldiers, fresh 784 faced youngsters in obviously new uniforms, approached. All carried rifles. I tried to explain my nationality, my desti nation, and my plight in Bulgarian. Finally they understood, and they laughed. I laughed too. Shouting, they put their shoulders against the car and got me rolling again. They pointed out the route, and walked half a mile beside the car until I was once again on solid ground. I offered them money, but they would have none of it. "Cigaretten?" they asked. Unhappily, I explained, I didn't smoke cigarettes. They laughed again, clapped me on the shoulder, and waved farewell. Dawn was breaking when I reached the Turkish city of Edirne, and I sped across the Turkish plain, again through ripe fields of wheat, and skirted the Sea of Marmara until I entered the narrow gate piercing the ancient walls of Istanbul. * I had driven that road often, *See "Crusader Lands Revisited," by Harold Lamb, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC, December, 1954.