1. The Marriage of Vuk, the Fiery Dragon
IN MARKO'S time weddings were always state feasts. Friends and kinsfolk gathered from all over the country to celebrate the occasion. Each bridegroom endeavored to bring his most important friends and most powerful allies. The sight offered by the procession of a bridegroom coming for his bride was a splendid one, an army with banners.
But there was a real reason for all this show of power. There was always the danger that some dispute or quarrel would occur, or that an attack would be made on the party, and then these mighty chieftains would be valuable allies. Marko was much sought after by all his friends, because of his prowess and honesty, and in the performance of these duties at the weddings of his different friends he had many adventures.
It so happened that Vuk, called the Fiery Dragon, ruler of the white city of Srem, sallied forth from his home one day to seek a wife. He rode for a long time along the level fruitful bank of the Danube. He rode through the limestone mountains of the coast. He rode along the beautiful Dalmatian coast. But everywhere he met with disappointment. Where there was an attractive maiden, he found no friends; where he found friends, there was no attractive maiden. So he wandered on and on, although never losing heart, until he came to the city of Venice and to the palace of the Latin Doge.
Here Vuk saw the fair Yevfimiya, the Doge's daughter, and he asked for her hand in marriage. He gave the Doge a ring and an apple, the customary tokens of a proposal of marriage, and promised to return from Srem in fifteen days with all his guests to celebrate the marriage. Vuk received the consent of the Doge, and he distributed a great deal of money and many valuable presents, receiving others in return.
But before he left Venice, the mother of the bride came to him as he made ready to depart.
"O my son, Vuk the Fiery Dragon!" she said. "Gather all your friends and kinsfolk and bring them to the wedding, but do not bring Marko Kralyevich. He drinks and fights a great deal, and he will be sure to disturb the guests."
Vuk did not like this, for Marko was one of his best friends. He was so happy, however, that he did not suspect any treachery, and as he did not know the Latin Doge, he said he would not bring Marko Kralyevich. So he went home happy.
As he rode back to Srem Vuk started thinking.
"If I do not ask Marko Kralyevich," he said to himself, "how can I get anyone to come with me? All the other heroes are like sheep. They follow Marko, and if he does not go then I shall have to Journey to Venice by myself for my bride, and that is unthinkable."
When he reached home Vuk took pen and ink and paper and sat down and wrote a letter to Djuro of Smederovo.
"O my uncle, Djuro of Smederevo," he wrote, "come to level Srem, for I am to marry the daughter of the Latin Doge of Venice, the fair Yevfimiya. Come to me with one hundred guests and you yourself be a chief of the party."
Vuk also wrote a second letter to Bogdan the Terrible, telling him the same thing. He wrote a third letter as well to Relya of Pazar; a fourth to Milan of Toplitsa; and a fifth to Milosh Obilich. The sixth he sent to Marko Kralyevich, adding this postscript:
"Come, and if there is any trouble, I know that in you I shall have a hero who will defend me from misfortune."
Vuk knew that these words would insure Marko's presence.
Soon the guests began to arrive. Each of them brought with him one hundred followers, all dressed in gorgeous raiment, in scarlet and fine colors, riding their most beautiful and spirited horses. Each retinue of one hundred men pitched its tents on the plain near the white city of Srem and the leader entered the city, into the palace of Vuk, and there sat down to eat and drink until the bridegroom was ready.
Marko Kralyevich arrived alone on Sharats. He was dressed well but plainly, and he had brought with him no wedding guests. He rode up to the palace, leaped off Sharats, and as he strode over the marble pavement to greet Vuk his great sword clanged ominously on the floor at every step. Marko understood well what Vuk had by now for. gotten, that not one of the other heroes would have stirred from the country unless Marko was in the company. Vuk met Marko and embraced and kissed him, inquiring about his heroic health.
The next morning the entire company was stirring early, for they were to start for Venice that day. The heralds came out and blew their trumpets.
"Prepare, ye wedding guests!" they proclaimed.
Those who rode leaped into the saddle; those who walked took their places in line. The standard-bearers unfurled their flags; pennants fluttered in the wind, and the whole procession with Vuk at the head was ready to start, when they saw a courier riding at top speed. His horse was tired and he was weary and covered with dust. He rode up to Vuk and handed him a letter from his future mother-in-law.
"O my son, Vuk the Fiery Dragon," ran the letter. "Do not come to Venice and do not bring guests. Another suitor has asked for my daughter's hand, Goyko the Magyar, and he has given us three loads of money instead of one, and has already come for my daughter. The man who arrives first wins the maiden as his bride, and Goyko is here."
Vuk was surprised and angry. He had gathered all the heroes of the Serbs and brought friends from every direction, and he was treated thus. He had been made to insult his friends, the heroes of his people, and all because the Doge of Venice had no sense of honor. He turned to his guests for counsel.
Djuro of Smederevo was for peace.
"O my brothers," he said, "if you obey me the standard-bearers will furl their colors and we will all return unto our homes. Another man has stolen the bride."
The others were inclined to agree with Djuro, but when it finally came Marko's turn to speak, he fixed his piercing eyes on Djuro and said:
"Sit down and wait, Djuro of Smederevo, until the enemy comes and cuts off your head. Marko will never return until he has the maiden or is slain. To horse, my brothers—let us start!"
The words of Marko fired the entire company and they started for Venice with enthusiasm. When they came to the city they saw that Goyko the Magyar had indeed arrived ahead of them, and with three thousand guests.
Under Marko's direction the company did not go into the city, but turned aside to the level plain and pitched their tents there. Then they sat down to wait and to drink cool wine. They waited in this manner for two days, and on the third day as the sun rose one-and-seventy cannon boomed out the final salute for Goyko the Magyar and his three thousand guests. Out of the city the company came, and with them was the fair Yevfimiya, the daughter of the Latin Doge.
The brilliant procession started for Goyko's home, and it was a sad sight for Vuk the Fiery Dragon.
"O Voyvodas, my brothers," exclaimed Djuro as he watched the company pass, "let the devil and the foes rage, but it is not easy for one to war against three. Two hands can master one. How can we fight against them?"
Marko glared at him with fire in his eye.
"Sit down, Djuro of Smederevo," he said angrily. "Better were it for you to take off the sword of a man and put on the robes of a woman, for they would become you better. As for me, I shall never give up the maiden and deliver Vuk to insult until I shall wet my sword in blood. For three days it has been seeking to jump from its sheath, and now the time is come when I shall give it to drink."
Meanwhile the procession of the wedding guests of Goyko the Magyar approached the camp of Vuk. It was a splendid sight, for in the cavalcade were beautiful horses laden with presents and money. Its splendor so far overshadowed that of the friends of Vuk that even Marko could not but appreciate the fact. It was easy to see why the Latin Doge had cast aside Vuk's proposal of marriage.
Suddenly Marko called his two friends, Relya and Milosh.
"Pobratims, Relya and Milosh!" he cried. "Mount your powerful steeds and take with you Bogdan the Terrible, and the three of you set out and slay the three thousand guests. I shall mount Sharats and take with me Vuk the Fiery Dragon, and I shall not rest until I overpower the guard of the maiden."
Marko and Vuk galloped out of the camp, while the three Voyvodas, Relya, Milosh and Bogdan, fell upon the three thousand guests and scattered them, and slew all the party. The attack was so sudden that it took the party completely by surprise, and there, on the outskirts of Venice, the friends of Goyko the Magyar paid for the broken promise of the Latin Doge.
Meanwhile Marko rode straight for the guard around the maiden, and behind him came Vuk the Fiery Dragon. They passed through the first group and no one tried to stop them. They passed through the second party, and still no one tried to stop them. They passed through the third group and rode up to the maiden and the two dcvers, the nephews of Goyko the Magyar, who stood with their swords drawn.
Vuk said to Marko: "You seize the maiden and kill the two devers, and I will attend to Goyko."
"No," Marko replied, "Goyko may kill you, and then who will wed the maiden after I have rescued her?"
So Marko drew his sharp sword and slew the two devers, after which he seized the maiden and handed her over to Vuk. By this time Goyko was aroused and charged against Marko.
"Halt, you rascal, Marko Kralyevich!" he cried. "Hold yourself on your horse Sharats."
Then he hurled his slender lance to pin Marko on bis horse. But Sharats was an experienced fighter and he quickly bent his knees, dropping down to the earth, and the spear passed over the head of Marko. The Serb reached up and turned it aside, breaking it in two pieces, and then in four. He threw the pieces on the green grass.
Now it was Marko's turn.
"Hold, rascal, Goyko," he shouted. "Hold on your dapple-gray horse."
Then Marko hurled his spear. It flew toward Goyko, but he, too, played the part of a hero and turned aside the lance, breaking it in two pieces and then in three, and throwing them on the green grass.
Then both men turned their beautiful horses and drove them hard against each other. The horses fought and bit and kicked, for both were well-trained and courageous. The riders drew their massive maces and belabored each other, each try ing to deliver a hard blow. But they dodged and parried, the maces clashing together until they were shattered into pieces. The heroes cast the hilts on the green grass where lay the broken spears.
Then they drew their sharp swords and again they fought. Steel rang on steel, until after a hard struggle the swords snapped off at the hilt, and there they threw also beside the other broken weapons.
Still they struggled on, horse against horse, man against man. Finally Marko and Goyko seized each other so firmly that they pulled each other off their horses and fell to the ground, locked tightly in each other's arms. Vuk the Fiery Dragon was watching and he ran up to Marko, sword in hand, but Marko would not accept his help.
"Wait a little, Vuk the Fiery Dragon," he said. "Let us see which is the better hero."
So Marko and Goyko strained and struggled, each throwing all his giant strength into the contest; hut there was no one who could compete with Marko, and slowly, slowly, slowly he forced Goyko to the ground. He laid him helpless beneath him and then he reached for his crooked dagger to cut off Goyko's head. But the crooked dagger too had been torn off, sheath and all, so he called for Vuk, and Vuk gave him the dagger and he cut off the head of Goyko.
Then Marko sat down on the green grass and rested a few minutes until his breath came back to him. After that he and Vuk mounted their horses and rode around to see what was left of the bridal party. They saw no one except the maiden, for all the rest were slain. So Marko and Vuk escorted the maiden back to camp, where the friends of Vuk had preceded them.
They greeted their friends Relya and Milosh, and Relya said: "If we had not been brave heroes we would have perished. Goyko had three thousand guests and we were but one thousand, but every one of us answered for three, and we cannot count the number that fell before Milosh and me."
The other heroes, Bogdan and Milan, came up, and finally came also Djuro of Smederevo. He had no hat upon his head; he had lost his cap and plume; he had lost his great fur coat, and also his curved dagger. He was so exhausted that he could barely sit on his horse, but he had fought bravely and atoned for his timidity before the battle.
So the company went to the tent of Marko, where they rested that night. The next day they went in joyful procession to the white city of Srem, to the castle of Vuk the Fiery Dragon. It was a beautiful sight to see them returning across the green plains and through the fertile fields. They celebrated the wedding at Srem with joy and song, and when the festivities were over the heroes departed each to his own home, and Vuk gave everyone liberally of the dowry and treasure that they had captured from Goyko the Magyar.
2. The Marriage of Djuro of Smederevo
Now Djuro of Smederevo had reason to remember the difficulties of his nephew, Vuk the Fiery Dragon, when he married the daughter of the Latin Doge of Venice. Yet when it came time for Djuro to choose a bride, he went also to the Adriatic coast and asked for the hand of the fair Yerina, daughter of King Mikhail of Dubrovnik, the most beautiful city on the Adriatic Sea. He went laden with costly treasure and he spent it lavishly in order to win the hand of the princess. He spent three loads of money on presents for the maiden, and one thousand ducats on gifts for the mother and sister of the bride. His lavishness attracted attention and finally his suit met with success.
Before he left to assemble his wedding party the king called to him and said:
"Listen, Djuro of Smederevo! When you come to your native town and begin preparing the bridal party, do not invite Serbs to accompany you. They always pick quarrels with my people, arid if you cannot keep order among them how can you hope to escort my daughter from Dubrovnik? Invite the Greeks and the Bulgars—bring as many of them as you like—and come for the maiden whenever it suits you."
This was an unpleasant order to the hero, and Djuro was plunged into confusion. But his surprise was great when a messenger overtook him just as he was. leaving the city. He brought Djuro a letter from Yerina which read:
"Listen, Djuro of Smederevo! Don't pay any attention to my old father. When you come to your city of Smederevo and start assembling your bridal party, do not invite the Greeks and Bulgars. If you do, you will never take me out of the city of Dubrovnik nor will you leave yourself. Invite the Serbs, and this is the party you must ask. Invite - as kum, Debelich - Novak; as assistant kum Novakovich - Gruya; as stary svat, Yanko of Sibin; as dever, Marko Kralyevich; as chaush, the winged Relya of Pazar; as Voyvoda, Milosh Obilich; as standard-bearer, Milan of Toplitsa; and as privenats, Ivan Kosanchich. The others may be those you wish, but bring at least a thousand, Djuro, and then come when you will."
The letter puzzled Djuro completely, for he had no idea what was meant by this strange disagreement between father and daughter. He went home and found there his aged mother, who greeted him. She embraced and kissed him and then took him up to her white tower and seated him on the sofa beside her, while she asked him about his Journey.
"O my son, Djuro of Smederevo," she said, "have you had a good journey? Did you find a daughter-in-law for me and a dear wife for yourself?"
"Yes, mother," Djuro replied, "I had a prosperous journey and I secured for you a daughter-in-law and a true wife for myself. Her name is Yerina, the daughter of King Mikhail of Dubrovnik, that beautiful city on the banks of the Adriatic Sea. I spent three loads of money in presents for her and one thousand ducats in presents for her sister and mother, and finally I secured consent to the marriage. But the king, her father, told me not to bring Serbs as my wedding guests, and he wants me to bring only Greeks and Bulgars. That surprised me; but Yerina wrote me, telling me to bring Serbs—and Serbs only—if I wished to escape alive or to escort her from the city of Dubrovnik. Which request, mother, shall I follow? That of tlie king, my father-in-law, or of Yerina, my bride?"
"O my son, Djuro of Smederevo," replied his mother without hesitation, "the Latins are old deceivers, and they wish to destroy you. Do not listen to the king, but rather to your bride, the fair maiden Yerina. Take only Serbs in your party, and if you meet with any trouble they will help you."
Djuro of Smederevo sat down at once and wrote letters to all the heroes of the Serbs—to Marko and to Milosh, to Milan and to the winged Relya, and to the others whom Yerina had named. Very soon the heroes came, each with his followers, and attendants and friends, a thousand men in all.
When the guests were all assembled Djuro came out and said:
"O my brothers, and ye thousand wedding guests! I am not going myself to Dubrovnik, but I am sending in charge my pobratim Marko. Kindly obey Marko and my kum, the old Novak."
This procedure was in accordance with established custom, if a bridegroom chose to follow it;
but since bridegrooms usually called for their brides in person the company was surprised. Djuro, however, had seen enough of strife at weddings, and the memory of Vuk the Fiery Dragon's marriage was still fresh in his mind. He had no wish to be made the center of a storm, so he placed Marko in charge of the company and returned to his castle to make everything ready for the arrival of the bride.
The gay procession wound down the hills toward the beautiful city of Dubrovnik and soon they caught sight of its towers and its castles. Then they rode slowly under the shadow of the great walls, down between the overhanging cliff's, along the wall of the moat, and so they finally came to the main gate of the city. They had never seen such beauty, such tremendous fortifications as those which confronted them, and these men from the mountains and the inland plains felt overawed as they approached the famous city. Marko did not lose his head.
"My brothers, ye thousand guests!" he said. "We are now passing through the seven-and-seventy gates of the city, before we come to the white castle. There are many tables set for us near the castle, and on the tables are wine and rakija and all kinds of food. Servants and maid-servants will wait upon you, and they will take your horses and your arms. Let them take your horses, hut do not give up your weapons. Sit with them at the tables and drink the dark wine with your arms by your sides. When the King of Dubrovnik comes, be silent and I will talk with him."
Then boldly and fearlessly Marko passed through the first of the seven-and-seventy gates of the castle and the' thousand suitors followed him. Soon they reached the castle, and the servants came out to take their horses. The maid-servants reached out for their weapons, but the Serbs refused to take them off. They wore them to the tables and ate with their arms beside them, and drank their wine with their swords at their sides.
This attracted the attention of the King of Dubrovnik, and he turned to the kum.
"O my kum, old Novak," he said, "the guests have come for the bride and yet they are still armed as they sit there drinking."
Novak made no answer and then Marko spoke up.
"O my friend, the King of Dubrovnik," he said. "This is the custom of the Serbs. They always drink wine with their arms beside them, and they do not take their weapons off even when they lie down to sleep at night."
The king did not like tills explanation, but he could not dispute Marko, so he went into the castle. That night the company spent outside of the castle, and this fact irked Marko and the others, for they did not feel they had received sufficient honor. Early the next morning at dawn, a young Latin called to them from the ramparts.
"Listen, kum, Debelich-Novak," he cried. "Look up at this whitetower. Two young Ln'iins there call to you to come out on the field of battle, and then you can escort home the maiden Yerina."
When old Novak heard this he looked at his son Gruyitsa. The boy nodded in response, and ran lightly up the steps to the ramparts. When he came upon the white tower the two young Latins met him. They had drawn their swords and attacked him without delay or courteous conversation. This angered the young Serb. Their first attack he parried by bending down to the black earth, and then rising again he charged upon them and with such effect that he soon cut each man into two pieces. Then he turned and started for his friends.
As he was going back, the maiden Yerina showed. herself to him for an instant from her window.
"Wait, young Gruyitsa," she called. She then threw him a golden apple, saying, "O Gruyitsa, take this, and if trouble starts, you know now where Yerina is."
This was a strange remark, but everything about the city was strange. So Gruyitsa went back to his father and gave him the heads of the two Latins. The boy had ba-rely taken his place when the Latin appeared again upon the rampart.
"Kum Novak," he cried, "here under the white tower knights Iiave saddled three horses with their spears fastened upright in the saddles. If you can' leap over these three battle steeds you will see the maiden Yerina."
When old Novak heard this he said nothing but he glanced at Marko. Marko understood and he looked at the winged Relya of Pazar.
Relya said nothing but ran to the spot where the three horses were. In the saddle of each was a spear pointing upward, and around the horses were twelve armed knights. Relya gathered himself and with one mighty leap went up into the air, over the spears and down on the other side. He had barely landed on the ground when all twelve knights fell upon him. He drew his sword and defended himself so lustily that in a few minutes he had slain them all. He took the three horses and with them strolled back to old Novak.
But the end was not yet, for no move was made to bring out the maiden Yerina. Once again the Latin came out and proclaimed: "Hail, kum, old Novak! Shoot at an apple on the tower."
Novak looked at the .voyvoda Milosh. Without a word he jumped up, seized his bow and fitted an arrow to the golden cord. The arrow flashed straight to its mark, and Milosh caught the apple as it fell and brought it to Novak.
By this time Marko Kralyevich was becoming very angry. He was sure that it-was the intention of the King of Dubrovnik to prolong these contests until he was ready to attack, and Marko did not wish to wait for such an attack.
"If I knew where the maiden Yerina was," he burst out suddenly, "I would take her at once and I would not ask them for permission."
To his surprise young Gruyitsa spoke up.
"Follow me, Marko Kralyevich," he said, "for I am able to tell you."
The two men rose from their places and went up the steps to the white tower. The door was locked, but that made little difference to Marko. He applied his weight to the door and it opened. They went in, and there was Yerina waiting for them to come and fetch her. When she saw Marko and Gruyitsa she got up quickly, took her dowry which she had ready, and followed them down to where the other Serbs were sitting. .
The Latin on the ramparts watched what was happening arid then he came out again.
"Listen, now, kum Novak!" he called. "What good does that do you? Do you not know that you are in beautiful Dubrovnik and that there are seven-and-seventy gates fast locked between you and freedom? Do you think to escape?"
Marko paid no attention to him but he turned to Gruyitsa.
"Bring my Sharats here," he commanded, "for he carries the keys to the city."
The boy brought Sharats, and the rest of the company mounted their own horses. They started and soon they came to a gate. Marko did not hesitate. He took his heavy mace, rose in his stirrups and delivered one blow against the gate. With a thundering crash it gave way, and the procession moved through it and on to the second gate. Marko did this at each gate until they had passed through six.and-seventy of the gates. Only the outermost of all was left.
Before the last gate Marko rose again in his stirrups. He struck at it, but the gate did not give way. So strong was the blow, though, that it shook the castle to its foundations and several bricks and stones fell from the walls. Marko prepared to strike another blow, and he would have opened the gate or beaten down the castle around the heads of its treacherous inmates if the king had not Suddenly appeared.
"Strike no more, Marko," he said. Then he opened the gate and the entire procession passed through. Marko waited in the doorway until the last of his train had left the castle. Then he turned to the king.
"O my royal friend," he said, "come and let us meet. Let us give gifts to one another, that we may part as friends and not remember any evil that has happened."
The king came up to Marko thinking he was going to receive a present, but Marko lifted his heavy mace and with one blow the king fell dead in the gate of the castle. That was the only possible present Marko could give in return for such treacherous treatment.
The party was now out of the walls of Dubrovnik. Marko led them joyfully back to Smederevo, where Djuro was waiting for them and for his bride. He entertained the guests royally for fifteen days, and then he and Yerina went into their castle, and the others went unto their own homes.
3. The Marriage of Yanko of Sibin
Some time after the marriage of Djuro of Smederevo, Marko's old friend, Yanko of Sibin, decided to marry the daughter of the King of Buda. As was customary, he invited Marko to act as dever and to be responsible for bringing the maiden from her father's house to that of her husband.
So Marko went up to Buda, and found a large number of guests already gathered there. As he came within sight of the palace of the king, perched on the lofty hill overlooking the Danube, Marko realized that perhaps nowhere else but in Istanbul was such wealth and luxury.
"When the party was all assembled they were received with great honor. The horses were taken by the servants into the stables, and the guests were led into the palace. They feasted and made merry for three days, by which time their horses were rested, and the ceremonies and festivities came to an end. So on the morning of the fourth day the chaush gave the signal for departure.
"Rise up, honored guests," he said. "The days are short and the ways are long. The hour of departure is come."
So the King of Buda distributed gifts to the wedding guests. They were most costly and beautiful. To the kum, Ivan Kosanchich, the King of Buda gave a golden shirt. To the stary svat, Vuk Mandushich, he presented a golden tray. The voyvoda, Stoyan Popovich, received a golden apple, and the chaush, the winged Relya of Pazar, a costly spear. To Milosh Obilich, the standard-bearer, went a well-wrought sword, and to the powerful Marko fell as his present a heavy mace. The bride and her beautiful horse were entrusted to Marko.
"Marko," said the King, as he handed the bridle of the horse to him, "here is my daughter and her horse. Take them to the white palace of Yanko of Sibin and give him his beautiful bride."
Marko accepted the trust and the company started off. The procession moved
forward without trouble and they made a splendid sight. All were happy and joyous.
They made their way through green forests, and gradually began the ascent of the
mountains at the head of the Adriatic Sea. The forests became thinner, the rocks
glaring white. The country seemed desolate, and only the high spirits of the party
kept them from
Still they mounted higher and higher into the mountains, when suddenly the patli turned sharply and around the corner the company saw a hero seated beside the road. On one side the mountain rose hundreds of feet into the air; on the other was a sheer precipice. It was an ideal spot for an ambush. The giant stranger was dressed in silver and pure gold. The great golden plumes of his silver cap reached down to the ground in a graceful curve. His mustache was heavy and black. Through his long beard the sun was seen reflected on his golden breastplate. His greaves were all of pure gold, and his heavy gold mace lay idly at his side. His spear was stuck in the earth nearby, and his sword was in its sheath.
He made a splendid figure, and in the bright sunlight of a Balkan noon he terrified all who saw him. From a distance he seemed but a dazzling spot of light, but as the company drew near and saw what it was the heart of the leader was astonished and frightened.
The giant stranger was not alone. As he sat drinking wine one of the vilas of the mountain waited upon him. She held a cup of gold in her right hand, and with her left hand she handed him food to eat. Just then he caught sight of the appreaching wedding party and the djin—for it was nothing less—jumped lightly to his feet. As Ivan Kosanchich approached he greeted him.
"Stand back, O Ivan Kosanchich," he said. "If you want to pass give me the shirt of gold that you received at the wedding."
Ivan looked, at the abyss. He looked at the narrow path ahead, and then he looked at the stranger knight. Without a word he handed over the shirt.
Next in the procession, which was moving in single file, came the stary svat, Vuk Mandushich. The stranger stopped him and demanded and received, as the price of passage, the golden tray.
Next came Stoyan Popovich, who gave up his golden apple.
Milosh Obilich showed no desire to give up his beautiful sword, and lie went so far as to draw it as if to fight. But the company which had already passed cried out to him: "Milosh, give up your swore. This is no place for battle!"
Milosh obeyed, and then Marko Kralyevich came up with the maiden and the horse. The stranger stopped him also.
"Stop, Marko Kralyevich!" he said. "Hand over to me the horse and the maiden that you received at the wedding."
Marko had not the slightest desire to do so, but he answered the stranger in a peaceful tone.
"Pobratim, Latin Djin," he said. "The horse is not mine, and neither is the maiden. My gift was a great mace and I will gladly give that to you."
But the djin was not satisfied at this answer, and with loud threats and curses he stepped directly into the narrow path and caught hold of the bridle of the horse on which the maiden was riding.
Marko did not hesitate. He seized the heavy mace that hung on his saddle and, whirling it so rapidly that the eye of the djin could not follow it, he struck the giant directly between his black eyes. Both eyes leaped out of their sockets and rolled . down the steep precipice like sparkling black gems. Then Marko drew his sword and cut off the head of the blinded giant, and left him there. The vila with a cry of sorrow disappeared into the mountains.
Without hurrying in the least Marko stripped off the costly armor from the Latin djin, and also picked up his silver cap with its golden plumes. He also gathered up all the spoils that die giant had taken from the rest of the company. Loading the booty on Sharats, Marko followed his friends, the while leading the bride on her. horse and reassuring her.
Presently he caught up to the party and he restored to Ivan his shirt of gold; to Vuk, the golden tray; to Stoyan his golden apple; to Milosh his rich-embossed sword; and to Relya, his spear. Marko kept his heavy mace, and the whole company, happy and joyful again, went on its way, singing and rejoicing, until the bride was brought to the white palace of Yanko of Sibin, her husband.