The Europolis Cemetery

THE LEGEND OF THE CEMETERY Sulina was the setting for a very beautiful love story. It was a cosmopolitan, bohemian town, brimming with life, and the inspiration for Pierre Loti's short stories. The nightlife of the cabarets went on frenetically, with sailors and revellers from ships that arrived from all over the world.The legend tells of a young and beautiful princess, with nowhere left to go, who became a dancer in one of Sulina's cabarets.The princess, who was a Negress born into a noble family of the French Antilles, night after night displayed her charms beneath transparent veils, to the rhythms of languorous oriental melodies or South-American habaneras.A young English officer dispatched on a call of duty to the mouths of the Danube fell in love with the dancer in that place of ill repute.The princess requited his love, and the whole town was preparing for a fairytale wedding.But fate decreed that the lives of the young couple should be cut short one ill-starred day.The boat in which they were sailing on the Danube capsized and the two lovers drowned.The entire town was in mourning and attended the funeral, in the newly founded cemetery.The legend became a subject for newspapers in the west, and every port in the Mediterranean awaited news tied to the tragic event.Since then, the legend was commemorated by all the sailors and retold with many flourishes on the decks of all the ships that headed to the port of Sulina.The tearful legend conquered the hearts of the ladies, and when the ships docked in Sulina, all the passengers, not only the women but also the seemingly insensitive men, used to head to the town's cemetery.At the cemetery, the tourists from the ships would breathlessly seek the grave of the princess, rummaging the cemetery, and when they did not find it, they would impatiently ask the local women lighting candles at their family graves whether they had heard or whether they could tell where the grave of the beautiful princess lay.The legend has been passed down in local folklore.The novel Europolis by Jean Bart includes a fictionalised part of the legend.Folk culture thereby became literature many decades later. THE TRUE STORY Young English officer William Webster arrived in Sulina in 1868, on board the ship Adalia, accompanied by his fiancée Margaret and her mother and younger sister. Webster's father John was in Sulina, where he was working on one of the technical ships of the European Danube Commission.The accident in which the boat capsized and the young people drowned occurred in the summer of that year.After the tragic event, the grieving parents ordered one of the most imposing tombs in the Europolis Cemetery, in which the young engaged couple now lie for eternity.The tomb, with rich panoplies and inscriptions, was fashioned from red stone, and for many decades escaped the attention of the press and visitors to the cemetery, until the present day.Our book, "The Living Legend of Sulina Cemetery", describes the truth behind the legend. INSCRIPTION 27: On the left part of the lid : "In memory of WILLIAM WEBSTER, chief officer on board the S.S. ADALIA, who nobly sacrificed his own life ....... to save MARGARET ANN PRINCLEfrom drowning at Soulina on the 21 of May 1868, aged 25 years.He was the only son of the late JOHN WEBSTER of Bishopwearmouth Co. Durham, England ". On the right part of the lid: "This monument is erected by a sorrowing mother in memory a most affectionate son". (There follows the text of a Psalm.) INSCRIPTION 28:On the left part of the lid: "In affectionate remembrance of MARGARET ANN PRINCLE of Newton by the SeaNorthumberland, England, who was accidentally drowned at Soulina on the 21st day ofMay 1868, aged 26 years ". On the right part of the lid: "This monument is erected by a sorrowing mother in memory a most affectionate daughter." The current climatic conditions of Sulina have caused the two inscriptions to deteriorate, and they are now much harder to decipher than when we first did so ten years ago.

by Petre Covacef