The Fountain of Bakhchisaray
(by Alexander Pushkin, 1821-1823; a poem in verse which was written by the author during his exile in the South).
Girey, a Tartar Khan, was sitting meditatively in his luxurious palace. He was very angry and anxious. What was he thinking about? Maybe he was planning a campaign against Russia or Poland? Or maybe he was afraid of mountain-dwellers? Or he was suspected of unfaithfulness in his harem? No, his wonderful young wives didn't dare to even think about it. They were living in the Khan's palace like Arabian flowers in greenhouses and their beauties were surely hidden in their dungeon. In the Khan's harem, where each day was monotonous, their youth, love and lives passed. While they were merrily playing, talking, trying on rich clothes or bathing, an old eunuch kept vigilant watch on them. He was indifferent to their female beauty and worried only about carrying out the Khan's orders. He overheard the wives' conversations and it was misfortune to her who spoke of her love to another man or pronounced the name of a stranger in her sleep.
But if everything was calm in the Bakhchisaray Palace, what was the reason for the Khan's sufferings? The reason was that his new wife, a young Polish princess named Maria, didn't love him. Maria was beautiful and kind. She had lived happily in her father's house and many young and rich men had sought her in marriage. But her happy life ended when the tartars attacked Poland. They killed her father and Maria was taken prisoner, thus she found herself in the Bakhchisaray Palace. The Polish princess hated Girey because he killed her father and she didn't want to live all her life in his harem. She cried bitterly every day in her room and never wanted to come out. The Khan loved her very much and mitigated strict laws of his harem for her. Even the sly eunuch wasn't allowed to come into her room.
Once a Georgian woman named Zarema stole into Maria's room and told her, "I was born in mountainous Georgia and found myself in the Khan's harem when I was a little girl. When I grew up, I became Girey's beloved wife. He swore me in love and we lived in love and contentment till he saw you. The he became cold and indifferent to me. I entreat you, return my former Girey to me, you don't love him! Do it any way you want, by means of contempt, requests or anguish! I will die if he is unfaithful to me! Take an oath that you will fulfill my request or I will knife you!" Maria didn't understand her language of anguished passions because she was absorbed in her own deep sorrow and wanted to die.
Maria did soon die. We don't know the reason for her death, whether it was unbearable anguish or incurable illness. Girey again began to make war on Russia and and the tribes of the Caucasus. He left his palace where his abandoned wives grew old. The Georgian woman Zarema was drowned by the harem's warders the day Maria died. After the war, the Khan raised a wonderful marble fountain in memory of his beloved and sorrowful Maria. The inhabitants of that country named it the "fountain of tears", now it is known as the Bakhchisaray Fountain, and everyone in the Crimea can see it.