What Pegman Saw – Scratches in Wax

“What Pegman saw” is a weekly challenge based on Google Streetview. Using the location provided, you must write a piece of flash fiction of no more than 150 words. You can read the rules here. You can find today’s location on this page,  from where you can also get the Inlinkz code. This week’s prompt is Bran Castle, Romania.

WPS - Scratches in Wax 181027

Scratches in Wax

The whole village watched as old man Razvan sang into Bela’s apparatus, where a metal stylus ploughed a furrow into a wax cylinder. Razvan’s beautiful granddaughter, Mariutza, fixed her amber eyes on Bela as he monitored the cylinder intently, blowing away tiny wax flakes.

When the song ended, Bela adjusted his equipment. He smiled at Mariuza.

“Now listen,” he said, and wound the handle of the recording equipment. Razvan jumped to hear his own voice singing to him. Mariuza’s eyes sparkled with delight.

Toma scowled. Mariuza was his betrothed.

“Witchcraft,” he murmured, and then out loud, “Witchcraft!”

Bela drew out a newspaper.

“See,” he said, “my machine is advertised here. It’s not sorcery.”

The village elder scanned the sheet and nodded.

“It’s true,” he pronounced.

Bela breathed a sigh of relief. He absolutely must collect the traditional music of Romania before it was swallowed up by the twentieth century.


I’ve ventured into historical fiction this week. While there’s more fiction than history, the truth at the core of the story is that Bela Bartok (one of the greatest composers of the 20th century) was a passionate collector of folk music. He travelled extensively in Hungary and Romania in the early 20th century with a wax cylinder sound recorder. Here is a link to one of the recordings he collected.

Bartok recording