"teachers of the school and girls on foot met them outside the city and gave the new teacher a very cordial welcome and a Thanksgiving dinner awaited them in the missionary home--a touch of American life in the far off land.
Before she was aware of it, Esther became fully absorbed in the work of the bereaved school and gradually, with the help of Miss Elenka H. Euonva, the Bulgarian teacher, who had acquired a good knowledge of English, was able to relieve the overburdened mission- aries of much of the care of the school.
There were twenty-six or seven Bulgarian girls gathered in Dr. Haskell's house and the accommodations were exceedingly limited. The missionary teacher and the family occupied the second floor and the school-room and a dormitory were on the first; small out-buildings in the yard served for dining-room and kitchen while the cook and remaining girls slept in the dining room and over the horse stable, and the landlady who rented them, lived over the street gate.
Of course there was much sickness in the school and much of the new missionary's time was spent in the care of the sick. The pupils were mostly from the wealthiest and most intelligent families of the city. Bright and eager to learn, they made rapid progress.
It was the first gymnasium, or high school, for girls in Bul- garia though there then (in 1870) were some for boys. The small children of the more intelligent citizens were gathered in the clois- ters of the churches and taught to read and write and a little sci- ence by the nuns and priests, but there were no schools for young girls and their time was spent in preparation for married life. Turkish officials of the city were present during the examinations and closing exercises of the school and expressed much surprise that girls could learn as well as boys, which fact was clearly shown by their examinations and compositions. It was not thought needful for girls to study mathematics and science as they were unnecessary for housekeeping.
The city of Eskizagora was one of the most advanced in the country in civilization and intelligence, but it was not long before the bigoted and fanatical priests raised bitter opposition to the school and incited the mob to stone the house, breaking windows and endangering life so that the missionaries were obliged to appeal to the Governor for protection. Some lovely Christian characters were developed during the first few years of this school. Six months after my arrival, the school was removed to Samokov, nearer the cen- ter of the missionary field. The people here were so ignorant and prejudicial against foreigners that not a Bulgarian would sell a house to the missionaries and they were obliged to buy of the Turks next to the Bulgarian quarter, and then the Bulgarian neighbor sold to them because he would not live next to the despised foreigner, and as the next neighbor was of the same mind it was possible to get all the lots the Mission required.
An addition to the missionary house was hastily built and a school room and temporary meeting house for the first Evangelical church organized here in our field of missionary endeavor. Girls from Macedonia and Bulgarian villages came to our school and gradu- ally the numbers increased until one hundred and twenty were enrolled in all departments.
The school has passed through many vicissitudes and encountered