Motto: Nothing is ever what it seems.
Alex F. Mihaili, published in Realitatea Ilustrata of May 8th, 1935ii the story of his intercourse with a bunch of fellows behind the East Stationiii in Bucharest. At issue -- the sale of a girl. Here goes :
"Here's the thing master... You draw a writ like so : " tells me a pleasant enough fellow, maybe 30 or so, regular features, hair curling over his shoulders, a curly beard darker than the raven's comb and in the pictoresque costumation of a nomadic gypsy
"I, the undersigned, Gheorghe Stefan Avram, do hereby sell my sister, Savina, for the sum of 5`000 leiiv..."
I try to explain to the man that the law of our country does not permit the sale of a human, and even if I were to write it as such it would be worthless, unrecognized by any authority.v
"Well... the girl's getting married." said he.
"And therefore you want to sell her ?!" I ask.
"No. I want to settle them down." (later I found the handsome man that I was taking dictation from was the vatafvi of the group)
"But who sells her ?"
"We live here, behind the Obor Station," he explained for my benefit. "The girl is sold by Gheorghe Stefan Avram, who lives apart, on the Verg Barrier."vii
"And who's buying her ?"
"I am! Ilie Mihai." answered an ancient man, with a long flowing white beard.
"You're the husband ?!" I wondered, and he started to laugh.
"No, master. I'm buying a bride for my boy, Gogu Stanescu."
"I don't understand with what right his brother is selling her ?"
"Well, Savina's father is dead. So her eldest brother is selling her."
"But my good fellow!" I protested stubbornly. "There can't be such a thing as the sale bill of a woman. There are no slaves anymoreviii in this realm. Nobody in Romania can have the right to sell his fellow man."
"Why are you feigning all this bullshit. The masters sell the husband, we sell the wife. It is fairer this way, to pay for the expense borne by her father feeding and dressing her."ix
"Let me then write it like this, without mentioning any sale, so it fits both the law and what you want, an indemnification you deem the brother as entitled to."
"And write further that should Savina run away from Gogu Stanescu, I Gheorghe Avram Stefan, will be answerable with two acresx of land I own at Bariera Vergului, and further 5`000 lei to be spent on booze."
"You mean for the wedding you are contemplating."
"Food and drink", restated the man.
Afterwards I read aloud the somewhat irregular act I had put together, which all the partiers heard in solemn silence, declaring their approval and particular satisfaction to the occasional trim of well wishing I had sprinkled through. The vataf Banciu Ciucuraru and the bulibasaxi Mihai Cristache signed then, as witnesses, through placing their finger on a cross made in wet ink that I had placed by their names. Further digital imprints were left on the paper by two other older men, also as witnesses.
"That's done", said the vataf.
"The parties haven't signed, nor he who receives the money..." I protested.
"No need. Witnesses suffice." I found with some surprise that the Gypsyes of Romania still hold to that ancient customxii of the principalities that deals are to be signed by witnesses only. In the State's archives and in numerous private collections there's numerous such writs, signed by witnesses only, through digitation. The act they were aiming to obtain would have been a variant of the ancient form for the bill of sale of a slavegirl, regular for the first half of the nineteenth century, were I to follow their lead.
With this freshly drawn document the troop attempted to obtain the stamp of the station master, which of course they did not manage. This did not stop them from renting an autovehicle and going to fetch the bride, prepared for the great partyxv. All I can add is that at the time the sale price of a nubile young lady may have reached as high as 25 or 30`000 were she beautifulxvi and worthyxvii. The ages could be very green : 9-10 years for girls, and 12-13 for boys.
I know you wouldn't sell your daughter for 35 or so 1935 dollarsxviii (even though your own grandmothers were so sold, and not too rarely at that). The question is, if you actually had a son, unlikely as the proposition may be, how much would you fairly peg him at ?———
- Born in 1873, deceased probably around WW2. Romanian Jew, publicist, etcetera. [↩]
- I will point out and underscore that a century hasn't yet passed. [↩]
- Gara de Nord became the only train station of Bucharest, but this wasn't always so. [↩]
- That year Romania's total exports summed 16.75 billion and the imports 10.85 billion. That's right : 60% excedent, enough to buy one million of her. There didn't of course live one million gypsies in Romania at that time. [↩]
- He flatters himself, of course, in that deeply jewish notion that their "our democracy" female state is universal rather than irrelevantly particular to them. I for instance would recognize (and have recognized) such writs. [↩]
- A sort of maitre d' in medieval Romanian principalities, head of a troop of servants. [↩]
- Literally a barrier, properly a customs post at the time. [↩]
- And rather not to the old slave's benefit. [↩]
- The innocent, hearty, unsophisticated tribes perceive innocent, hearty, unsophisticated costs : clothing, food, stuff like that.
As people improve and civilize, those costs significantly lessen to the point of disappearing out of sight -- but other costs mount, monstrously. To produce a boy who will grow up into a man as opposed to a boy that'll grow up into yet another woman is so fucking expensive among civilised people, if anyone ever manages it you sure as fuck are going to be paying through your teeth for it. Comparatively clothing & feeding a slut for 15 years is just about free. [↩]
- Nominally, exact area is difficult to distinguish. [↩]
- Gypsy overlord. [↩]
- This is broadly true - marginal groups are infinitely more conservative than the mainstream, no matter what the mainstream thinks or declares itself to think (often, for fundamental reasons, something along the lines of marginals destroying the sacred traditions bla bla bla). [↩]
- Scribe. Slavonic. [↩]
- At the time this made no sense, signature being fundamentally an autograph. [↩]
- Where her bloomers bloodied through defloration were to be displayed to anyone's examination that very night, a public writ sui generis.
That habit hasn't likely died out entirely. I with my own eyes have seen it done, not so long ago. [↩]
- Beautiful means you felt like using her. [↩]
- Worthy means she could produce if put to use. [↩]
- The Romanian leu went off the gold standard in 1914 (when it was worth one franc) and its value fell. By 1935 silver coins worth 250 lei were circulating. [↩]