Legend of the Shishman's tree

Before leaving the fortress and going into a battle against the Turks, the tsar walked round the lands he reigned over for the last time. He was eaten up with the thought of the inevitable end and the great ordeals ahead of the Bulgarian people. He grieved for the perishing kingdom.
With his head bent, Ivan Shishman stopped in front of the secret passage where his faithful people waited for him. In his hand there was a cresset burning out and turning into a fire-brand. The tsar heaved a deep sigh, then fixed the brand into the ground, and whispered: “When this brand burgeon out green leaves, it will be there a Bulgarian kingdom again.”. People heard the tsar’s omen and shuddered. It was soon after that the misgiving came true. A traitor opened one of the gates of the fortress; the Turks rushed into, and put it to fire and sword. That was the end of the Tarnovo kingdom. Grief and despair seized the hearts of the Bulgarian people. The churches were turned into mosques and Turks lived on Tsarevets Hill.
The brand stuck by Ivan Shishman in the ground near St. Petka church grew up and turned into a sad, black, bare tree. The tsar’s last words passed from mouth to mouth and the older citizens of Tarnovo showed it to their sons and daughters. Every spring the Bulgarians looked at the tree with hope and expectation.
Thus, year after year passed and many years went by. It was spring again and suddenly the tree came back to life. The big, black branches burgeoned out new, green twigs that grew bigger very fast and came out above the ruins of the old fortress. There were green leaves, too. People were filled with enthusiasm. They were glad because they knew that the end of the yoke was near. They began to look with another eye on themselves. Very soon, Ivan Shishman’s prediction came true: there was a Bulgarian kingdom again and the Bulgarians became free people.

Collected and retold by Zhivka Radeva