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Title: By Far Euphrates - A Tale
Author: Alcock, Deborah
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Internet Archive/American Libraries.)



BY FAR EUPHRATES

A TALE

BY

D. ALCOCK

_Author of "The Spanish Brothers" "Crushed, yet Conquering"
"Dr. Adrian" etc_

London

HODDER AND STOUGHTON

27 PATERNOSTER ROW

MDCCCXCVII


BUTLER & TANNER,
THE SELWOOD PRINTING WORKS,
FROME, AND LONDON.


"Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire; ... and
the form of the fourth is like the Son of God."



PREFACE


Many a tale of blood and tears has come to us of late from far
Euphrates, and from the regions round about. It is not so much the aim
of the following pages to tell these over again as to show the light
that, even there, shines through the darkness. "I do set My bow in the
cloud" is true of the densest, most awful cloud of human misery. As in
the early ages of Christianity, "what little child, what tender woman"
was there


     "Who did not clasp the cross with a light laugh,
     Or wrap the burning robe round, thanking God"?


As in later times, of no less fervent faith, "men took each other's
hands and walked into the fire, and women sang a song of triumph while
the gravedigger was shovelling the earth over their living faces," so
now, in our own days, there still walks in the furnace, with His
faithful servants, "One like unto the Son of God."

Every instance of faith or heroism given in these pages is not only true
in itself, but typical of a hundred others. The tale is told, however
feebly and inadequately, to strengthen our own faith and quicken our own
love. It is told also to stir our own hearts to help and save the
remnant that is left. The past is past, and we cannot change it now; but
we CAN still save from death, or from fates worse than death, the
children of Christian parents, who are helpless and desolate orphans
because their parents _were_ Christians, and true to the Faith they
professed and the Name they loved.

D. ALCOCK.



CONTENTS

                                     PAGE
CHAPTER I

THE DARK RIVER                          1


CHAPTER II

FATHER AND SON                          9


CHAPTER III

FIRST IMPRESSIONS                      17


CHAPTER IV

A NEW LIFE                             26


CHAPTER V

BARON MUGGURDITCH THOMASSIAN           44


CHAPTER VI

ROSES AND BATH TOWELS                  59


CHAPTER VII

GATHERING STORMS                       66


CHAPTER VIII

A PROPOSAL                             73


CHAPTER IX

PEACE AND STRIFE                       91


CHAPTER X

AN ARMENIAN WEDDING                   113


CHAPTER XI

AN ADVENTUROUS RIDE                   125


CHAPTER XII

THE USE OF A REVOLVER                 143


CHAPTER XIII

WHAT PASTOR STEPANIAN THOUGHT         155


CHAPTER XIV

A MODERN THERMOPYLÆ                   173


CHAPTER XV

DARK HOURS                            194


CHAPTER XVI

"THE DARK RIVER TURNS TO LIGHT"       214


CHAPTER XVII

A GREAT CRIME                         229


CHAPTER XVIII

EVIL TIDINGS                          241


CHAPTER XIX

A GREAT CRIME CONSUMMATED             256


CHAPTER XX

BY ABRAHAM'S POOL, AND ELSEWHERE      271


CHAPTER XXI

"GOD-SATISFIED AND EARTH-UNDONE"      287


CHAPTER XXII

GIVEN BACK FROM THE DEAD              301


CHAPTER XXIII

BETROTHAL                             315


CHAPTER XXIV

UNDER THE FLAG OF ENGLAND             323


CHAPTER XXV

AT HOME                               341


CHAPTER XXVI

A SERMON                              351


APPENDIX                              367



Chapter I

THE DARK RIVER

     "A thousand streams of lovelier flow
     Bathed his own native land."


The Eastern sun was near its setting. Everywhere beneath its beams
stretched out a vast, dreary campaign--pale yellowish brown--with low
rolling hills, bare of vegetation. There was scarcely anything upon
which the eye of man could rest with interest or satisfaction, except
one little clump of plane trees, beside which a party of travellers had
spread their tents. They had spent the day in repose, for they intended
to spend the night in travelling; since, although summer was past and
autumn had come, the heat was still great.

The tent in the centre of the little encampment was occupied by an
Englishman and his son, to whom all the rest were but guides, or
servants, or guards. The Syrians, the Arabs, and the Turkish zaptiehs
who filled these offices were resting from their labours, having
tethered their horses under the trees.

It was about time for them to be stirring now, to attend to the animals,
to make the coffee, and to do other needful things in preparation for
the journey. But they were used to wait for a signal from their master
for the time being--Mr. Grayson, or Grayson Effendi, as they generally
called him. Pending this, they saw no reason to shorten their repose,
though a few of them sat up, yawned, and began to take out their tobacco
pouches, and to employ themselves in making cigarettes.

Presently, from the Effendi's own tent, a slight boyish form emerged,
and trod softly through the rest. "Hohannes Effendi"--so the Turks and
Arabs called him, as a kind of working equivalent for "Master John"--was
a bright, fair-faced, blue-eyed English lad in his sixteenth year. He
was dressed in a well-worn suit of white drill, and his head protected
by a kind of helmet, with flaps to cover the cheeks and neck, since the
glare reflected from the ground was almost as trying as the scorching
heat above.

Once beyond the encampment, he quickened his pace, and, fast and
straight as an arrow flies, dashed on over the little hills due
eastwards. For there, the Arabs had told him, "a bow shot off," "two
stones' throw," "the length a man might ride while he said his 'La
ilaha ill Allah!'"--ran the great river. Waking some two hours before
from the profound sleep of boyhood, he had not been able to close his
eyes again for the longing that came over him to look upon it. For this
was "that ancient river," last of the mystic Four that watered the
flowers of Eden, witness of ruined civilizations, survivor of dead
empires, the old historic Euphrates. Not that all this was present to
the mind of young John Grayson; but he had caught from his father, whose
constant companion he was, a reflected interest in "places where things
happened," which was transfigured by the glamour of a young imagination.

On and on he went, for the wide, featureless, monotonous landscape
deceived his eye, and the river was really much farther than he thought.
He got amongst tall reeds, which sometimes hindered his view, though
often he could see over them well enough--if there had been anything to
see, except more reeds, mixed with a little rank grass--more low hills,
and over all a cloudless, purple sky. The one point of relief was the
dark spot in the distance, that meant, as he knew, the trees from which
he had started.

He thought two or three times of turning back, not from weariness, and
certainly not from fear, except the fear that his father might wonder
what had become of him. But, being a young Englishman, he did not
choose to be beaten, and so he went on.

At last there reached his ears what seemed a dull, low murmur, but what
was in fact the never-ceasing sound of a great river on its way to the
sea; while at the same time--


     "The scent of water far away
     Upon the breeze was flung."


He hurried on, now over a grassy place, now through tall, thick reeds,
until at last, emerging from a mass of them, he found himself on the
edge of a steep precipitous bank, and lo! the Euphrates rolled beneath
him.

He could have cried aloud in his surprise and disappointment. Was this
indeed the great Euphrates--the grand, beautiful river he had come to
see? Had this indeed flowed through Paradise?--this dull, muddy, most
unlovely stream? Dark, dark it looked, as he stood and gazed down into
its turbid waters. "Dark?" he said to himself, "no, it is not dark, it
is _black_." And the longer he gazed the blacker and the drearier it
grew.

Why stay any longer by "this ugly old stream"?--for so he called it.
There was nothing to do, nothing to see. He turned to go back, and then
the whole scene in its loneliness and desolation took a sudden grip of
his young soul. The awe and wonder of the great, silent, solitary space
overcame him. The river, instead of being a voice amidst the stillness,
a living thing amidst the death around, was only another death. It
seemed to flow from some--


     "Waste land where no man comes,
     Or hath come, since the making of the world."


Then all at once, by a very common trick of fancy, young John Grayson
found himself at home--at home really--in happy England. His mother,
dead a year ago, was there still. He saw her room: the table with her
books and work, and her favourite clock upon it; a shawl she used to
wear of some blue, shimmering stuff like silk;--he saw her face. And
then, as suddenly, all was gone. He knew that she was dead. And he stood
alone with the silent sky, the desolate earth, the gloomy river--an atom
of life in the midst of a vast, dead world. Before he knew it the tears
were on his cheek.

This would never do. He was ashamed of himself, though there was no one
there to see. Dashing the disgraceful drops aside, he started at a run
to go back.

After a time he stopped, in a space fairly clear of reeds, to look about
him. He could see in the distance the clump of trees that marked the
camping place, but it looked very far off. The low hills confused him;
it would not be such an easy matter as he thought to return. He sat down
to rest a little, for disappointment and discouragement made him feel
suddenly very tired.

But he soon sprang to his feet again with a shout. A familiar sound
reached his ear, the long Australian "Coo-ee-en!" which his father had
adopted as the most penetrating kind of call. He gave back the cry with
all the strength of his lungs, and waved his handkerchief high in the
air.

Presently he saw his father coming towards him through the reeds,
followed by two of the Arabs. He ran to him in high delight, his sad
reflections gone into the vast limbo that engulfs boyish sorrows.
"Father! father! I have found Euphrates."

"Yes, my boy, but _I_ had some trouble to find _you_."

They stood together, son and father, in that great solitude, as in a
sense they did also in the greater solitude of the world. The father was
one of those men of whom it is impossible to say he belongs to such and
such a type, or, he is cast in such and such a mould. Rather was he
hand-hewn, as by the Great Artist's own chisel. He was tall, spare,
wiry, with a cheek as brown as southern skies could make it, dark hair
and beard showing early threads of grey, dark eyes full of fire, and a
mouth as sensitive as a woman's. The boy had inherited his mother's blue
eyes and fair hair, but he was very like his father, both in expression
and in the cast of his features, especially the shape of his forehead
and the moulding of his fine mouth and chin. Slight as was the shadow of
rebuke conveyed by his father's words, he felt it--it was so rare.

He said simply, "I am sorry."

"Did you think Euphrates worth the trouble when you found it?" asked his
father, who had seen the far-famed and disappointing river long ago.

"Very much the reverse, father. An uglier, muddier, blacker kind of a
river I never saw."

"I suppose we are quite close to it? I will go on and have a look, as
there is no hurry about our start. Stay here, if you are tired, with one
of the Arabs."

"I will come back with you. I should like it."

"Come along, then."

A short walk brought them to the bank, the two Arabs following at a
respectful distance stately and indifferent.

The sun was setting now, and, behold! a wonder met their eyes. The dark
stream was transfigured, as if by the wand of an angel. It poured
rejoicing on its way, a torrent of liquid gold; for it had taken to its
heart of hearts all the glory of the setting sun, and gave it back to
the beholder in a marvel of radiance. So might look to mortal eyes the
river of God, the river of the water of life, that runs through the
shining streets of the New Jerusalem. The boy uttered a cry of wonder
and delight. The father gazed in silence. At last he said, "_So the dark
river turns to gold._"

"But come, my boy," he added presently, "before the sun sets. Let us
take away with us in memory this look of the Euphrates."



Chapter II

FATHER AND SON

     "I cannot rest from travel, I will drink
     Life to the lees."

     --_Tennyson._


While the travellers go back to their encampment, now in full
preparation for the start, it may be well to introduce them formally by
name. In this respect they were exactly alike; the father's name in full
was John Frederick Pangbourne Grayson, and so was the son's. His
friends, however, generally called him John, Johnnie, or Jack, by
preference the latter, which was his father's custom also.

John Frederick Pangbourne had made himself remarkable in early life as a
bold, adventurous traveller, going into places and amongst peoples
little known to the rest of the world. He was in perils of many kinds,
often great, sometimes desperate, but he always came through, thanks to
his cool courage, his quickness of resource, his tact in dealing with
men, and last, but not least, his abounding sympathy and kindness. So
other men said; he himself said simply, if any one spoke of his dangers
and deliverances, "I got out of it," or "they went away," or "they did
me no harm," as the case might be,--"_thank God_." For he feared God;
and though he did not go out of his way to tell it to the world, he was
quite willing for the world to know it.

Beside the travel-hunger of the Englishman, which is as strong or
stronger than the earth-hunger of the Celt, Pangbourne had another
motive in his wanderings. He was smitten to the heart with love and
longing for "brown Greek MSS.," or MSS. in any other ancient tongue. He
had already made a find or two, chiefly of early copies, or part copies,
of the old Christian Apologists. But these only whetted his appetite for
more. He had heard of MSS. to be found in the neighbourhood of Mount
Ararat, and was purposing to go in search of them, when two events
changed his plans--he got a fortune, and he married a wife.

As he was a younger son, the family acres had gone of course to his
elder brother, Ralph Pangbourne, a squire in one of the Midland
counties. Not that they brought him any great wealth; for he suffered
like others from the economic changes of the time, there was a heavy
mortgage on his property, and his family was large and expensive.
Therefore he was not particularly rejoiced when Miss Matilda Grayson, a
distant connection of the family, left her large fortune to his younger
brother instead of to himself. However, as there was the condition
attached of assuming the name of Grayson, she may well have thought that
the representative of the Pangbourne family would not choose to comply.
"But I wish she had given the chance to one of my boys," thought Ralph
Pangbourne.

Frederick, as he was usually called by his kinsfolk, behaved with great
liberality. He cleared off the mortgage, and virtually adopted one of
his brother's children, his god-son and namesake. Still, the fortune was
his.

But it would not have kept him in England if he had not about the same
time met his fate, while visiting one of the universities, in the
daughter of a learned Professor who was interested in his archæological
researches. The course of true love in this instance falsified the
proverb. He bought a pleasant country seat in the south of England, and
settled down to the life of an English gentleman. Quiet years followed;
and if even in his happy home he sometimes felt the stings of a longing
for wider horizons and more stirring scenes, at least he told of them to
none. One son, and only one, was born to him.

After some fifteen happy years his wife died, very suddenly. No man
ever mourned his dead more truly; but it was inevitable that when the
first pangs of bereavement died into a dull aching, he should long to
resume his wandering life. Some special studies, which he had been
making when the great calamity overtook him, gave definiteness to his
plans. His fancy had been caught by the old legend of Agbar, King of
Edessa, of his letter to our Lord, and the answer, fabrications though
they manifestly are. An idea possessed him that in the neighbourhood of
the ancient Edessa, Agbar's "fair little city," so early Christianized,
MSS. might be found, dating perhaps from the first century. The thought
gave an object to his proposed wanderings in the East, for to the East
his heart was ever drawn by strong, mystic yearning. And if his dreams
should prove only dreams, there was no duty now which forbade him to
pursue them.

One duty indeed he had--the care of his boy. Always much attached, in
the days of their bereavement son and father drew very close together.
Everybody advised him to leave Jack at school, but everybody spoke to
deaf ears; for Jack entreated him to take him with him, and his own
heart echoed the plea. After all, why not? He was a strong, healthy lad,
very manly, and full of bright intelligence. Might not foreign travel
be the best of schools for him? To Jack the prospect seemed the most
delightful ever unfolded before mortal eyes.

Grayson could well afford every luxury of travel that might ensure
safety and preserve health. Had he been alone, he would have cheerfully
faced many risks and inconveniences to which he did not care to expose
his son. So far they had journeyed in great comfort, keenly enjoying the
adventure. They expected next morning to reach a little town on the
Euphrates called Biridjik, where they proposed to rest for a day or two,
arranging, as they always did in such circumstances, for the use of a
room or rooms in some comfortable house.

The journey by night, in that land where night never means darkness, was
delicious. The moon was at the full, and bathed in beauty even the
desolate, monotonous landscape. Its light was quite enough for all
travelling purposes; it seemed indeed only a softer, cooler, and more
genial day.

Early morning found them on the stretch of road leading to the river. At
the other side was a sort of natural amphitheatre. A picturesque hill
rose in terraces from the river, near its summit the ruins of a castle.
A semi-circular wall, which had once belonged to the castle, formed a
bow, of which the river was the string, and which enclosed the little
town with its houses, orchards, and gardens.

On each side of their road, as they drew near the river, was a large
Turkish burying-ground, full of upright tombstones, all very narrow, and
some of them very high. Then came a solitary plane-tree, and a small
rude khan. Around it, and down to the river's brink, gathered a noisy,
shouting, vociferous crowd. "Oh, such a crowd!" Jack thought. There were
camels from Aleppo, with their heavy burdens, and their swearing,
screaming drivers; khartijes or muleteers, with their laden mules;
stately Arabs; zaptiehs in gold-laced uniforms, stolid and indifferent
amidst the turmoil; Kourds with horses and donkeys, and dresses of every
colour of the rainbow. Jack was especially amused with a Kourdish woman
who joined the throng with two little donkeys, which she belaboured
vigorously with a short club, her lord and master sitting the while upon
one of them, content and passive. But even this sight lost its interest
when he thought he discovered in the distance some one on horseback in a
European dress, and beside him--wonderful vision!--what looked like a
European lady. He could scarcely believe his eyes.

But now, every eye was fixed upon the river. Floating swiftly down
stream, with only a stroke or two from the paddles of the ferry-men,
came two enormous wooden boats, each in shape like a woman's shoe. Then
began a regular stampede, the whole disorderly crowd wanting to get in
at once, and fearing to be left behind. As soon as the boats touched the
land the rush became frantic. It was like Bedlam; the men pushing,
swearing, shouting,--the animals, who objected strongly to the whole
proceeding, being urged on by their furious or frightened drivers, to
the peril of all within reach of them. Jack got separated from his
father, and carried nearly off his feet, but he found himself at last in
one of the boats, which was swaying horribly from side to side. The
terrified horses, jammed together in a narrow space, were kicking,
biting, and squealing, and the shrieks and curses of their drivers were
not likely to soothe them. Some of these had dismounted, others kept
their seats. Jack saw one of their own zaptiehs pushed against the side
of the boat, and thought he would be killed. But he called on Allah, and
used his fists manfully, and in a minute or two had extricated himself,
and was sitting safely on the bulwark. Jack climbed up beside him,
anxious to see where his father was, and soon discovered him, near the
other end of the boat, helping to keep the frightened animals under
control. It was impossible, however, to reach him through the throng.

Looking back, he saw the other boat quite close. There, amidst the crowd
of men and horses, stood the English lady (as Jack supposed her), a
tall, slight figure, holding the bridle of her horse. He saw the look of
terror in the creature's face, the ears laid back, the nostrils
quivering, and red as fire. He was going mad; he would bite or trample
her! No; she had snatched off her veil, and, quick as thought, tied it
over his eyes. The situation was saved. And Jack was gratified by a
moment's vision of a girlish face, very fair, very young, and crowned
with clustering golden hair. Then the boats changed position, and he
lost it.

After half an hour's swaying and joggling, they all got safe to the
other side. Then there was more noise and confusion, and then they found
themselves slowly ascending the steep, irregular flights of stone steps
that formed the streets of Biridjik. Here Jack caught a last glimpse of
his lady of the golden hair, now decorously veiled, and seated on her
horse--very unsafely, as he feared, for she looked in danger of falling
off over his tail, at every step he took in the perilous ascent.

But the party to which she belonged went on at once upon their journey,
while the Graysons remained in Biridjik.



Chapter III

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

     "Manners are not idle, but the fruit
     Of loyal nature, and of noble mind."

     --_Tennyson._


Young John Grayson stood alone in the large upper room which had been
assigned to him and to his father. Mr. Grayson had gone out to reward
and dismiss the zaptiehs and the Arabs, and to make arrangements about
the Syrian servants, whom he meant to keep with him; but Jack was
looking for his return every moment, to partake of the breakfast which
had been just brought in. First, a stool had been placed in the middle
of the room, and then a metal tray, much larger, set upon it. Handsome
embroidered cushions, placed beside, showed where and how the guests
were expected to sit. Except these cushions, and a few rugs or small
carpets, the only furniture the room contained was a divan running along
the side, covered with Turkey red, and adorned with white embroidered
cloths. There were also some beds, or mattrasses, folded up in a niche
in the wall; and a few articles belonging to the travellers had been
brought and left in the room.

There were several windows, large, and very close together. Jack stood
at one of them, and looked out on the courtyard round which the house
was built in the form of a hollow square. There must be a great many
rooms, he thought, and wondered if one family occupied them all. The
court looked gay and pleasant, with late crocuses, a few fruit trees,
and, best of all, a little stream of living water flowing right through
it, and filling the air with its cheery murmuring.

But the eyes of the hungry boy soon turned back to the well-spread
table, where they rested approvingly upon a remarkably good breakfast.
There was a dish of pillav, made of a preparation of wheat called
_bulghour_, with boiling butter poured over it, and upon the pillav a
well-cooked fowl lay in state, as the best part of the banquet. There
was queer-looking bread in large cakes thin as wafers, and folded
together like napkins; there was a great copper vessel lined with
something that looked like silver, and filled with _madzoun_, a kind of
cold, sour, boiled milk, and there was a pitcher of tempting pink
sherbet, with glasses to drink it from. Jack gave a little sigh of
satisfaction, and ejaculated, "Wish father would come before the fowl
gets cold."

Grayson came, looking white and weary, a thing unusual with him.

"Let us have our breakfast, father," Jack said. "I am sure you are
starving,--I am."

His exploits on the fowl went far to prove it. But his father gave him
little assistance.

"You don't eat, father," he said.

"I am not hungry. Though the sun is up such a little while, it has
contrived to give me a headache. I shall sleep it off. _You_ want a
sleep too, as your eyes are crying out."

"Not a bit of them, father. I could not sleep now; I want to go out and
see this queer old place. I'll sleep all the better when I come back."

"Well, do so; but take care of the sun, and get one of the servants to
go with you. You will find them about somewhere."

Grayson spoke with a dull, listless air, quite foreign to his brisk,
energetic nature.

"He is very sleepy," Jack thought, as he put on his protective
head-dress, and ran cheerfully down into the court.

He looked about for the servants, but could not see either of them. As
he was standing there, an open door attracted his eye, and he could not
help looking in. A woman was baking bread, in an oven consisting of a
large round hole in the clay floor of the middle of the room. She was
taking small pieces of dough from a lump beside her, slapping them on
the inside of the oven, and promptly removing those already baked
sufficiently. Two dark-eyed little boys were playing quietly at some
game on the ground, and an older lad was standing beside her, talking,
apparently about a bundle of cotton in a cloth which he held by the four
corners.

Raising her eyes for a moment from her oven and her dough, the woman saw
the stranger at the door. He did not know a word of Armenian, nor she a
word of English, but she saluted him with great courtesy, bowing almost
to the ground; then, as she rose slowly, touching her heart, her lips,
and her forehead. The children did the same; the youngest acting his
little part so prettily that Jack fell in love with him on the spot. As
the woman, by signs, invited him to enter, he did so, and the children
placed a cushion for him in the corner farthest from the door. The older
boy brought him sherbet, flavoured and tinted with rosewater.

"This is all very nice," thought Jack. "Still, when one pays a visit one
is expected to talk. And how can I talk to people who don't know a word
of my language, nor I a word of theirs?"

He tried to solve the difficulty by introducing himself, patting his
own breast and forehead, and repeating, "John--John Grayson," an
experiment attended with only partial success, his new friends learning
to call him "Yon Effendi." Then he pulled out his schoolboy silver watch
for their edification. The two little boys, who stood gazing at him with
their great black eyes, evidently thought he was a far greater wonder
himself; but the elder looked at it intelligently, as one who perfectly
knew its use.

He tried next to get at their names, pointing to each in turn with a
look of inquiry. As well as he could make out the unfamiliar sounds, he
thought the eldest boy called himself something like Kevork, the second
was certainly Gabriel, the youngest probably Hagop. He took Gabriel's
little brown hand in his own large one, whereupon the child stooped
down, kissed the hand that held his, and touched it with his forehead.

Fearing that he was interrupting the baking operations, he soon rose to
go. He happened to notice a picture on the wall; or rather a coloured
daub in staring blue, red, and green, representing an impossible
warrior, running an impossible sword through the heart of a monster
three or four times as large as himself. Seeing him look at it, the
woman and the eldest boy began an explanation in which he could only
distinguish one of the names he had just heard--"Kevork." He thought
they meant that it belonged to Kevork; and did not find out until long
afterwards that "Kevork" is one of the Armenian forms of "George," and
that he had lighted upon a picture of the patron saint of his own land,
slaying the traditional dragon.

He left his new friends after a silent exchange of courtesies; and,
forgetting all about the servants he ought to have looked for, began to
descend the crooked, winding steps, or streets, that led down to the
river. Presently he heard a patter of feet behind him, and, looking
back, saw Gabriel trotting after him. The child came up, and held out to
him a little roll of something yellow, with what looked like the kernels
of nuts in it. It was evidently to be eaten, for Gabriel, smiling,
pointed to his mouth; so Jack sat down on one of the steps and made his
first acquaintance with the Armenian delicacy called _bastuc_, a
preparation of grape sugar, into which the kernels of nuts are sometimes
put. He liked it at first; but it soon palled, and he began to fancy it
was making him sick. Whatever was the cause, a strange faintness and
dizziness came over him as he sat there by the river. "It is too hot
here," he thought. "I must go back." He got up, but found it a hard
matter to keep his feet. Twice or thrice, as he toiled up the steps, he
was obliged to sit down and rest. Little Gabriel had stayed beside him,
and he was very glad of it, as without a guide he would almost certainly
have missed the gate of the house where their quarters were, since all
the houses, built in the same way about their court-yards, looked so
exactly alike. Feeling worse every minute, he stumbled up the stairs,
threw the door open, and got into the room just in time to fall down in
a faint.

When he came to himself, he was lying on one of the beds; and his
father, stooping anxiously over him, put a glass to his lips, from which
he drank obediently.

"How do you feel now, my son?" he asked.

"Oh! all right," Jack said. "I don't know what came over me down there
by the river. I suppose it was the sun. But I am better. I can get up."

"Don't. Lie still and give me your hand. I want to feel your pulse."

Jack gave it.

"Father," he said, looking up, "your own hand is shaking. Is there
anything wrong?"

"Not much, I hope. You are a little hot and feverish. A dose of quinine
will do you no harm."

"Hot!" said Jack. "No; I am shivering with cold. I can't keep still."

The dose was administered; and Jack, following his father's movements
with his eyes, noticed that he took one himself also.

"Now, my boy," he said, "you have not slept for nearly four and twenty
hours, and you spent all last night in the saddle. Unless you take a
good rest, you may be ill. Lie as quiet as you can, and try to sleep."

"I will, father; but--I'm so thirsty!"

His father gave him some sherbet, and covered him up comfortably with a
silk rug. Then he sat down, and took out his note-book and pencil; but
he wrote only a few words in a faint, irregular hand, difficult to
decipher: "Have heard from Jacob, my Syrian, that the plain we have just
traversed is noted for its deadly malaria--is, in fact, a perfect hotbed
of fever. I fear John has it."

After some time Jack dropped off into a troubled doze. Strange dreams
came to him, ending usually in some catastrophe that made him start up
in sudden fright. Once he thought he was walking by the river, and
somehow lost his footing and fell in. He woke up with a cry, "The water
is so cold--so dark!" His father was at his side and soothed him.

"Don't you remember," he said, "the dark river turns to light?"

But as soon as the boy was quiet and at rest again, John Grayson added
one more to the records in his note-book, and it was almost illegible:
"We have both caught the fever. God help us! If I can, I will
arrange----"



Chapter IV

A NEW LIFE

     "Among new men, strange faces, other minds."

     --_Tennyson._


After that, for young John Grayson, life was a blank. Dim shadows came
and went like reflections in a mirror, having no continuity and leaving
no impression. In a passing way, as a dumb creature might, he felt
burning heat and freezing cold, pain and weariness, and nameless,
indescribable distress. So too he saw forms around him--kind,
dark-complexioned people, who gave him things to drink, and spoke to him
in words he could not understand. Sometimes he was conscious of a sort
of dull relief, or pleasure, when they cooled his burning brow with
snow, which had been brought from the mountains packed in straw, and
carefully preserved. But throughout all he missed something--some one.
At first he knew that he wanted his father, and used to call for him
piteously. But this passed at length; he grew too weak even for the
pain of longing. With the very ill, as with the very old, "desire
fails."

Yet, in spite of all, he crept slowly back to life. One day he felt
himself carried somewhere, and then became suddenly conscious of a
delicious coolness after what seemed a lifetime of burning heat. Looking
up presently, when the sense of fatigue had somewhat passed, he saw that
he was lying on a large bedstead, like one of our old "four-posters," in
the open air. There were white curtains all around him, which were being
softly stirred by a refreshing breeze; while over his head--no roof
between, not even the canvas of a tent--glowed the deep, rich blue of
the Eastern sky. He was on the house-top.

For a while after that he recovered more quickly. But the hot weather,
coming early that year, brought on a sore relapse, and again for many
days his life was despaired of. More than once the watchers thought he
was actually gone, and often they thought the question was one of hours.
Yet in the end the long conflict of death and life ended in the
victory--the slow, uncertain victory--of the latter.

He came back to life like a little child only just beginning it. For the
time, his past was completely blotted out. Too weak in mind and body for
connected thought, he accepted the things about him without question.
He seemed to have been always there, amongst those dark-eyed people, who
sat upon the ground, ate rice and bulghour, and wore striped "zebouns"
of cotton cloth, and many-coloured jackets. He picked up their speech
very quickly, as a child picks up his mother tongue; and at this stage
did not remember his own. He came to know those about him, and to call
them by their names. Between twenty and thirty persons dwelt in the
large house in which he was a guest. But they were all one family--the
sons and sons-in-law, the daughters and daughters-in-law, and a whole
tribe of the grandchildren of a grey-haired patriarch called Hohannes
Meneshian. The whole household were Jack's familiar friends. But he
loved best the three boys who had been his first acquaintances, and
their mother Mariam Hanum, who throughout his illness had been his
devoted nurse. He liked the gentle touch of her hand, and the tenderness
in her eyes as she looked at him. Sometimes he called her Mya--"Mother,"
as the boys did.

Of the three--Kevork, Gabriel, and little Hagop--Gabriel was his
favourite. Indeed the child was like his shadow, waiting on him
continually, and often bringing him beautiful flowers--gorgeous
pomegranate blossoms, or roses of many kinds and of most exquisite
perfume. Or he would bring him fruit--delicious grapes, pears, plums,
and peaches. Or sometimes he would just steal silently up to kiss his
hand, and touch it with his forehead, or stand or sit quietly beside
him.

There was one thing that soothed him inexpressibly; though, like all
else, it was accepted without question or comprehension. When Mariam and
the other women went about the household tasks that, as he grew better,
he liked to watch, they would say, "Hesoos ockna menk"--"Jesus, help
us." When they finished, they would say, "Park Derocha"--"Praise the
Lord." In everything there was devout acknowledgment of God; and the
sweetest of all names that are named in heaven or upon earth was often
on their lips, spoken with reverence and love. Something that for John
Grayson still lived on,


     "In the purple twilight under the sea"


of conscious thought, made this very grateful to him, and joined it with
what were like the first heavenward thoughts and prayers of a little
child.

So time passed on. But, as he grew stronger, there awoke again within
him a vague sense of want and longing. He had no power to express his
feelings, but he felt something was wrong with him--he was not in his
proper place. Or was it, rather, that there was something wrong with all
the people about him? They were very kind; but they and their ways had a
queer, distorted, unnatural look in his eyes, like the things one sees
reflected in the bowl of a spoon. He longed continually, longed
inexpressibly, for something he could not get, for some one who was not
there; yet he could not tell who it was he wanted.

He grew silent and melancholy, and his friends thought him in danger of
another relapse, which would certainly have been fatal. Happily, it was
now autumn again, the sultriest months of the year being over. So one
day they wrapped him up carefully, seated him comfortably on cushions
upon a donkey, and brought him with them, to a vineyard which Hohannes
possessed on a slope of one of the hills above Biridjik. He was a man of
some property, having flocks and herds also. The great, luscious grapes,
"as large as plums," purple, green, and amber, hung in ripe profusion,
nearly breaking down the low bushes they grew upon. Jack ate of them to
his heart's content, and lay in the pleasant shade of a fig-tree,
watching the other young people as they gathered them for their various
uses. Tents had been brought, and it gave him a kind of dreamy
satisfaction to sleep in one of these; it seemed somehow to bring him
nearer to the things he had lost, and was vaguely feeling after. Often
hints of them seemed to flash on him unbidden, but when he tried to
grasp them vanished as they came, leaving him confused and faint, with a
fluttering heart and an aching head.

However, his strength improved in the cooler air and amidst the new
surroundings. He had soon an opportunity of testing it. One day he
happened to be by himself, resting under his favourite fig-tree, when he
heard a noise as of something trampling and tearing the vines. Looking
up, he saw that a flock of goats had got in among them, and were doing
terrible damage, not only to the ripe fruit but even to the trees. He
got up and called for help, but no one heeded, and he supposed no one
heard. It was dreadful to see all this harm done; in fact, he could not
endure it. Taking heart, he went to the rescue himself, or rather, for
the first time since his illness, he _ran_. His steps were unsteady, his
limbs shook under him; once indeed he fell, but he was up and on again
in a moment. The exercise seemed to give back strength to his muscles
and vigour to his brain. He shouted aloud; he took up stones and flung
them at the trespassers, sending them flying over the low stone wall.
Then, the Englishman's joy of battle waking in him, he gave chase as
fast, or faster, than his limbs would carry him.

He heard the others crying out to him; but he thought they were
encouraging his efforts. Even when they came running up with evident
intent to stop him, he thought they were only afraid he would do himself
harm. But at last the youngest son of Hohannes caught him bodily in his
arms, shook the stones out of his hand, and cried breathlessly, "You
must _not_! You must _not_!"

Jack had a good deal of Armenian by this time. "_Inchu? Inchu?_--Why?
why?" he gasped; "they were destroying your vines."

The young man, by name Avedis, or "good tidings," looked sadly at the
injured trees, but only said, "Those goats belong to the Kourds."

Jack stammered in his eagerness to find the words he wanted. "What has
that to do with it?" he got out at last. "What right have the Kourds to
spoil your vines?"

"Don't you know, Yon Effendi, that if we dare to stop them doing it, or
even to drive their sheep and goats out of our fields and vineyards,
they think a great deal less of stabbing or shooting one of us than you
would of killing a cat?"

"But then they would be hanged for it!" cried Jack. "Have you no--oh,
what is the word for it?--have you no--_police_?" He said the word in
English, and a rush of old, new thoughts and impressions came crowding
into his brain.

"_Police?_"

"The men who keep order, and take people to prison."

"Do you mean the zaptiehs? They are worse than the Kourds. The Turk and
the Kourd are the upper and the nether millstone, grinding us to powder.
If one of us is fool enough to complain of a Kourd or a Turk, the
Kamaikan--the governor, I mean--says he will enquire into the matter.
And he does. He sends for the man who has complained, throws him into a
dungeon, and keeps him there till he confesses all the wrong is on his
own side; or perhaps until his people pay a sum of money. Or perhaps he
may be never heard of again at all."

Avedis did not say this with fierce looks and indignant gestures, but in
a calm, matter-of-fact way, as if such things were part of the
everlasting order of nature, which has been from the beginning and will
be until the end. Jack did not follow every word; but one thing he
understood very clearly: they must all stand still and see their
beautiful vines destroyed. There was no remedy--why? Because this was
not England. _England!_ Now he knew everything. He was an English boy,
left alone here in this strange land. And his father--where was his
father? "Where is my father?" he cried aloud in English.

"What is that you say?" asked Avedis.

Jack repeated his question in Armenian.

"Come and sit down under the tree," said Avedis.

Jack obeyed, silent and trembling. Avedis stood, looking at him sadly.
"Tell me, where is my father?" Jack repeated with pleading eyes, into
which a new expression was dawning slowly.

"You know, Yon Effendi, you have been very ill," Avedis said. "Your
father, a great English Effendi, very wise and good, was ill too. You
recovered; your father did not recover. He is gone to God. Do you
understand me, Yon Effendi?"

Jack understood so well that he flung himself face downwards on the
ground, and burst into a passion of weeping. In vain Avedis tried to
comfort him. "God forgive me," he thought, "I ought not to have told
him. I fear I have killed him." And he certainly had not acted up to the
meaning of his name. The rest of the family blamed him severely, when
they heard what he had done. It was the custom of their country for the
bearer of sad tidings to go about his task with great circumlocution,
carefully "breaking" them, as we say in England.

Yet the shock, instead of killing John Grayson, brought him back to his
true life. Up to this there had been a serious danger that his brain
would never wholly recover the shock of that long and terrible illness;
and that, if he lived, he might go through the future years as one whose
mind had an important leaf left out of it. But that day's agony of
weeping, and the days and nights of distress that followed it, meant
that he would either die, or else recover wholly, and claim his
intellectual inheritance in the present and the past. This full
recovery, however, might well be an affair of time--perhaps of a long
time.

Old Hohannes heard with the rest that the English youth knew now that
his father was dead, and that he was weeping and refusing comfort, in a
manner very likely to make him ill again. "We will take him back to the
town," he said; and so they did the next day.

The following morning Hohannes took him by the hand, led him into a low,
dark room on the ground-floor, where bulghour and rice were stored, and
shut and barred the door.

"Sit down," he said. Jack did so; and looked on wonderingly while the
old man dug a hole in the ground with some implement resembling a
trowel.

At last he grew impatient, and asked, "Will you not tell me about my
father?"

Hohannes looked up. "There is not much to tell," he said. "Feeling
himself, no doubt, very ill, the English Effendi sent for me, and I
came. He asked me to take care of you, and if you should recover to try
and send you back to your friends in England. And he gave me, to use for
you as I thought best, the things I have kept hidden here. He spoke
somewhat also of certain papers, but before he could finish what he
wanted to say, the fever increased upon him, and his mind began to
wander. As to the papers, we never got them. They were stolen away, with
his other baggage, by the two Syrian servants, who were brothers, and
precious rascals. But these I have." He stooped and took out of the hole
something wrapped in a skin and tied with cords. These he carefully
unfastened, took off the skin, and revealed two books and a belt of
chamois leather. The books he gave to Jack, who recognised, with a
thrill of joy and a pang of sorrow, the pocket Bible his father always
carried with him, and the note-book in which he used to see him write.
"Keep these thyself," said Hohannes. "This," holding up the belt, "I
must keep still. There is gold in it." Instinctively his voice dropped
lower, though there was none to hear the dangerous word.

"I am very glad of it," Jack said frankly, as, for the first time, it
occurred to him that these people, upon whom he had no claim, had been
providing for all his wants. "Father Hohannes, you and yours have fed
and tended me all this time like a child of your own. It ought to be all
yours!"

"You have a generous heart, Yon Effendi. And, in fact, I have used it
for you as far as was necessary and just. There were medicines and other
things when you were ill, and there was the tax to pay for you."

"The tax for me?" Jack repeated. "What tax?"

"Know you not we have to pay, year by year, every man and boy among us,
for breathing the air? Even for the new-born babe the Turk exacts it. So
your tax had to be found along with our own, and will be next year also.
Moreover I own, a piece or two went to the Kourds as backsheesh, that
they might let our cattle alone."

"Indeed, father," Jack said again, "I wish you would take it all; it is
yours by right."

Hohannes shook his head. "And what, then, if you should want to go
home?" he said; "or if any way for your doing it should open? Moreover
we dare not, for our lives, let any one know we have so much gold in the
house. The Kourds would come down from the mountains and rob us, or the
Turks would take it from us on pretence of arrears of taxes. It is best
for me to keep it here for you. You see where I put it?"

"Yes, Father Hohannes; it is all right," said Jack.

He was longing to go away somewhere by himself, and feast his eyes on
his father's handwriting, and on the printed words he loved so well.
But, as he was going, a thought came to him that made him turn again.
Things which he had heard Kevork say as he began to get better, and
which at the time he had scarcely noticed, came to his mind with a
sudden inspiration.

"Father Hohannes," he said, "Kevork, your grandson, longs sore to go to
Aintab, to the great school the Americans have set up there for your
people. Kevork loves learning very much. May he not take some of this
gold and go?"

Again Hohannes shook his head. "Kevork is a foolish boy," he said. "The
cock that dreamed of grain fell from his perch trying to scratch for it.
Let him stay at home, and mind the cattle; or take to the weaving, if it
like him better." Jack was sorry for Kevork, but the possession of the
precious books drove everything else out of his head. He flew upon the
spoil; nor was it with a passing joy alone, since during the time that
followed the chief sustenance of his life, that which made it worth
living, came from these books.

He was himself again, but only a childish, weak, discouraged self--a
different being from the strong, active-minded, energetic lad who had
come with his father to Biridjik. His illness and its consequences had
thrown him back in his development of body, of mind, and still more of
character, for at least a couple of years. He was quite unable at
present to look his life in the face, or to take the initiative in any
way.

Nor was there any one about him who could give him effectual help. How
to go to England was a problem no one in Biridjik seemed able to solve.
Even a letter was a difficult and doubtful undertaking. It is true the
town possessed a Turkish post-office, but this, at all events for
foreign letters, was a perfect "tomb." In answer to his questions, his
friends told him of a certain "Cousin Muggurditch," a kinsman of
Hohannes, who lived at "Yeatessa," but was a great traveller, going
sometimes even as far as Constantinople;--he could send a letter safely
to England. Jack thought Yeatessa was the place his father wanted to go
to, and which was mentioned in his note-book as Edessa, the city of the
legendary King Agbar. His friends assured him it was; that they knew all
about it, and that the story of King Agbar was quite true, for his tomb
was still to be seen just outside the city, which the Franks called
Urfa, and which was only two days' journey from Biridjik.

"I shall go there some time," Jack said; but he said no more about it,
and it seemed as if for the time all thought of change had passed out of
his mind. He slipped into the life and the ways of those about him. Even
his European clothes were out-worn or out-grown, and he adopted the
striped zeboun, the gay jacket and the crimson fez of the Armenians.
Mariam Hanum (Mrs. Mary) took care of his wardrobe, and he might be seen
every Saturday going with the other men and youths to the bath, and
carrying his clean clothes with him tied up in a towel.

One day he wanted a kerchief to put under his fez and keep off the sun,
and he went by himself to the shop to buy it. He came back with one of
bright green, which he thought very handsome; but, to his amazement,
Kevork snatched it from his head and Avedis flung it into the fire, with
the approval of all the rest.

"Don't you know that green is the Moslem colour?" they said to him.

"Then be sure I will never wear it," Jack answered; "I am a Christian."

He went with his friends to the Gregorian Church on Sundays and feast
days; often too in the early mornings before sunrise, or in the evenings
at sunset. It is true he did not understand very much of the service;
but the Armenians themselves were scarcely better off, as the ancient
Armenian language is still used in the liturgy of the national Church.
He was shown, in the adjoining graveyard, the resting-place of his
father, marked like all the other graves with a flat stone. Then he
printed carefully, in English capital letters, his father's full name,
and gave it to the best stonecutter in the town, asking him to engrave
it for him, with a cross.

"I should like it put upon another stone," he said; "one to stand up, as
we have them in England."

The stonecutter explained that he could not have it here. It was
unlawful. Mahometans had their tombstones erect, but a Christian might
only mark the resting-place of his dead with a flat stone. "But," the
man added with a smile, "that will not hinder our rising again at the
last day."

Kevork and his brothers continued Jack's greatest friends. Kevork talked
much with him, and told him many things. He said he should like to go to
Yeatessa, or Urfa, because he had a sister there.

"A married sister, I suppose?" Jack said, rather wondering he had not
heard of her before.

"_No_," said Kevork, lowering his voice mysteriously. "My grandfather
had to send her away to our cousins, because the Kamaikan who was here
before this one wanted to marry her; and we never talk of her, not even
before Gabriel and Hagop, lest any word might slip out about where she
is, and the Turks might overhear. But I had rather go to Aintab than
even to Urfa, to learn English and Greek and Latin, and grammar and
geography, and all kinds of science."

"And what then?" Jack asked with a smile.

"Then I would go, if I could, to America or to England, learn still
more, and become at last a famous professor in some grand college in a
Christian land."

Kevork had already learned from a friendly priest, Der Garabed, to read
and write Armenian, and to read Turkish in the Arabic character. For the
Turks, and it is a significant fact, have never reduced their own
language to writing; their books are printed either in the Arabic or in
the Armenian character. He was in raptures when Jack offered to teach
him English, which he promptly began to do, using as a text-book his
father's Bible, the only book he had, with the exception of a Tauchnitz
"Westward Ho," which happened to be in his pocket when he came to
Biridjik. In return, Kevork taught him to read and write Armenian, and
these lessons were shared by Gabriel and Hagop. Gabriel was a remarkably
quick, intelligent boy, all life and fire; Hagop was quiet and rather
dull, more at home at his father's loom than at his brother's book. Both
used to listen delightedly to Jack, when, chiefly as an exercise for
himself, he would translate some simple Bible story aloud in Armenian.

Not that such were the only uses Jack made of his father's Bible.
Outwardly his character still continued unformed, boyish, passive;
inwardly it had begun silently to grow and to deepen. He did not act,
but he thought a great deal. His mind was like a stream flowing
underground, gathering volume as it flowed, and sure to emerge again to
the light of the upper world. Its sources were fed by observation,
memory, faith, and hope, and most of all by that matchless fount, not
only of spiritual but of intellectual inspiration, the English Bible.



Chapter V

BARON MUGGURDITCH THOMASSIAN

     "Warbling still amidst the others,
       Wandering with them where they roam,
     And yet hallowing remembrance,
       With low gushes about home."


No doubt some subtle form of nervous weakness, the relic of his long and
terrible illness, still held young John Grayson in its grasp. Moreover
the loss of his father, so intensely loved, had entered like iron into
his soul. His mother's death was still, when he left home, a recent
bereavement, and he was an only child. He had no near relatives except
in his uncle's family, and even amongst them there was only one he cared
for much, his father's godson, a cousin five years his senior, whose fag
he had been at school.

What had he, after all, to go back to in England? He excused his torpor
with thoughts like these, whenever it occurred to him to ask himself if
he meant to spend his life tending vines, teaching English, and
studying Armenian, in a little out-of-the-way town on the banks of the
Euphrates.

He spent many months there without taking much note of time. The
Meneshians were his family; the whole Armenian community his friends. He
entered more and more into their life, shared more and more their
interests. He was especially interested in the culture of the vineyard,
wanting to know the how and the why of everything. Once--but this was in
early days--he proposed taking Kevork and a couple of other lads with
him, and going to stay there long before the regular vintage time. "We
could guard it a great deal better," he said, "than that lazy Turk, who
does nothing but lie all day on his perch smoking cigarettes, and is
always wanting backsheesh."[1]

"You could not do it at all," answered Boghos, the eldest son of
Hohannes, and the husband of Mariam Hanum, "just because you are not a
Turk. Backsheesh is very well spent in setting the Turk to watch the
Kourd, instead of both of them preying upon us. Do you not know that
yet, Yon Effendi?"

They all continued to give him that name, which he had taught in the
first instance to Kevork and his brothers. To them all he was a cross
between a pet and plaything to be taken care of, and a superior person
to be honoured. In both capacities he had every attention, and all his
wants were liberally supplied. But he insisted that Hohannes should
expend for that purpose some of his father's gold, and should give from
time to time a small sum by way of compensation to Boghos and Mariam
Hanum, with whom he lived. Money was so scarce in that region that a
very small sum sufficed.

At last one day the whole Meneshian family, and indeed the whole
Armenian quarter of Biridjik, was thrown into excitement by the news
that Baron Muggurditch Thomassian (in English, Mr. Baptist Thomson), was
about to honour them with a visit. He was travelling from Urfa to
Aintab, and proposed staying a day or two on his way with his kinsfolk,
the Meneshians.

Jack shared in the excitement. He was very curious to see this wealthy,
travelled, educated Armenian, whom he expected to find of a very
different type from the simple folk of Biridjik. And now, at last, he
was sure to find through him the opportunity of communicating with his
friends in England, which, however little eagerness he might feel in
the matter, he knew he ought not to neglect.

What could the duteous and admiring kinsfolk of Baron Thomassian do on
the occasion, except pay him the attention of riding "three hours
distance" to meet him on his way, even although it was midwinter, the
rains heavy and the wretched road ankle-deep in mud? Boghos led the
party, and Jack went among the rest. Old Hohannes had a few fine horses,
of which he was very proud; and he had given one of them to Jack, to his
immense delight and satisfaction.

In that district there is scarcely any snow, and the rain had happily
cleared off, so it was only a splashed and muddy, and not a drenched and
soaking company that drew up by the wayside in the shelter of a little
hill, to await the coming of the travellers.

At last the jingling of mule bells announced the approach of the
caravan. There was a long string of khartijes, or muleteers, there were
some servants on horseback, and a few zaptiehs to act as guards. These
were fully armed of course, and the central figure of the whole, Baron
Thomassian himself, rode a very fine horse, and actually carried a gun
at his side, for which he must have got a special "permit" from the
government. He was a good-looking middle-aged man, dressed _à la Frank_,
or in complete European costume, except that he wore a fez in place of
a hat, which was amongst the things forbidden to an Armenian.

There was something else which gave all the Biridjik folk a great
surprise. Beside him rode a slight young girl, closely wrapped in a long
"ezhar" of striped silk, which was drawn as a veil over the greater part
of her face, leaving very little of it visible except her large,
beautiful, dark eyes. Veiled though she was, Boghos recognised his
daughter, and Kevork at least guessed his sister. Scarce, for looking at
her, could they give their kinsman the customary greeting, "Paré yejock"
(your coming is a joy), or wait for the response, "Paré dessack" (we see
you with joy). And Thomassian hastened to say, "I have brought your
daughter back to you at the request of your cousin, Baron Vartonian. I
will explain the reason afterwards." Then Boghos kissed his daughter on
both cheeks, and she kissed his hand and asked for his blessing. Kevork
kissed her also; and Jack, keeping modestly in the background, thought
what a pleasant thing it must be to have a sister. He had already seen
lovely faces among the girls and women of Biridjik, but never, as he
thought, eyes quite so soft and dark, lips quite so rosy, and cheeks of
such perfect form and hue.

All the rest, who were old acquaintances, came crowding round her; and
then Boghos turned his attention to Jack, and made him known to
Thomassian, with much polite observance, as their English friend, John
Grayson Effendi.

They rode back together to Biridjik, Boghos devoting himself to the
entertainment of Thomassian. Jack could not help wondering that they all
showed so little pleasure at the return of Shushan; on the other hand, a
sort of constraint and gloom seemed to brood over the whole party.
Kevork would give him no explanation. Even when he said, "I am surprised
to see your sister looking so young. She seems scarcely fourteen. I
thought, of course, from what you told me, that she must be older than
you." Kevork only answered, with a quick, guarded look around, "She was
but ten years old when she left us."

After the festive supper in honour of the guest, Thomassian explained
the matter in private to Hohannes and to Boghos.

"Your former Kamaikan, Mehmed Ibrahim," he said, "has come to Urfa. He
has got some good office there in the Government. Somehow he found out
that Shushan was there with the Vartonians, and--he has not forgotten.
In short, she must go. There was no other way."

"Amaan!" or "Oh dear!" was all her father said. But he looked perplexed
and sorrowful, seeing trouble before them all.

Hohannes put the trouble into words. "He may find out, and send after
her here."

"The Vartonians thought not. You must keep her as close as you can, or
send her in disguise to one of the villages."

"How dare we--for the Kourds? A bride on her way from the church was
carried off the other day from Korti, and the bridegroom and her father,
who tried to defend her, were both killed. Our girls are not safe
anywhere, except in their graves." Though they sat within closed doors,
they all spoke in low tones, and with furtive glances around them.

"Our only possible protection," Thomassian said, "lies in the wealth our
abilities and our industry enable us to gain. The Turks and Kourds
consider our peace and safety marketable properties, which they are
willing to sell us at a good price."

"Yes," said Hohannes sadly, "until they find we have nothing more to
give, or until it suits them to take all together."

Thomassian, who probably did not much care to talk on these matters,
said that he was weary with his journey, and expressed a wish to go
early to rest.

Kevork had been hanging about watching for an opportunity of speaking
with him, and now, as soon as the door was opened, he came forward,
offering politely to attend him to his sleeping-place.

A little later he came quickly, and evidently in much excitement, into
the room where Shushan was sitting, with her mother and several other
women and girls of the household, who had come in to see her.

"Mother, I have done it!" he cried.

"Done what, my son?" asked his sad-faced mother.

She was sitting, as usual, behind her wheel, but its whirr was silent
now. She had enough to do in looking in the face of Shushan, and holding
her hand.

"I have made a conquest of old Cousin Muggurditch," said Kevork
triumphantly. "He will take me with him to Aintab, and put me to the
Foreigners' School."

A murmur of surprise ran round the room. But his mother asked, with some
shrewdness,--

"What did you give him?"

"What you gave me, mother. I owe all to you. It was those gold coins
that did it."

The other women looked significantly at Mariam. The strings of gold
coins which she wears about her person are the Armenian woman's only
absolute and indisputable possession. They stand to her instead of
settlements and dowry. That must be precious indeed for which she will
sacrifice them.

"He made little of the coins at first," said the quick-witted lad; "but
that was all in the way of business. I could see that he thought a good
deal of them, and liked well to get them."

"How much did you sell them for?" asked Mariam.

"I did not sell them. Not such a fool as that! I mean you to have them
again some day, mother. I only gave them in pledge to him--he promising
to advance my school expenses--until I should be able to repay him."

"But that is for ever and ever," said one of the women.

"Nothing of the sort. After two years at Aintab I shall be a teacher,
and able to earn money for myself."

Here Shushan looked up and spoke. She was very beautiful; not only with
the beauty characteristic of her race--soft dark eyes, black pencilled
eyebrows almost meeting, long curling eyelashes, and olive-tinted,
regular features--but with the rarer loveliness of a sweet, pure
expression, that suited well her name, Shushan, the Lily. During her
four years of absence the familiar surroundings of home had become
strange to her, so she spoke with a certain timidity.

"My brother," she said, looking appealingly up to the tall youth whom
she had left a mere child--"my brother, will you do something for me
when you go to Aintab?"

Kevork protested his willingness, although somewhat surprised.

"My dearest friend," said Shushan, "the person I love best in the world,
next after my father and mother and my brothers, is just now going to
Aintab, to the school for girls. They hurried me away so quickly that I
could not see her to say good-bye. And I shall not see her now; for,
although she must pass by this on her way, she will not come into the
town, but lodge in the khan outside. Will you salute her for me, and
give her this as a gift from her poor little friend, Shushan Meneshian?"
She drew from her bosom something resembling a necklace, made of amber
beads, and held it out to Kevork.

He stooped down to take it, saying, "Well, then, my sister, what is the
name of the girl?"

"Elmas Stepanian; she is the daughter of the Badvellie."

"Badvellie" means "full of honour"; and the Armenians usually speak of
their priests and pastors by this respectful title.

"Stay, Kevork," said his mother. "You had better not take that
_tebish_. Shushan is a child, and does not know the world. But do you
think that it is possible the foreigners would allow the boys and the
girls to speak to one another? They are very good people, else surely
our cousins would not have let their own children, and Shushan, go to
school to them."

This certainly was a difficulty, and even Shushan looked perplexed. But
Kevork was equal to the occasion. "Yon Effendi tells me that the foreign
Effendis, men and women, talk to each other just as much and as often as
they like," he said. "Shushan, my sister, I will pray of the Effendi who
teaches me to give thy token to the Effendi who teaches Oriort[2] Elmas
Stepanian, and she will find some right way, I have no doubt, of giving
it to her."

"Do so, Kevork, and I thank thee many times." She gave him the string of
beads, and then her tongue waxed eloquent in praise of her friend. "She
is so good, so clever," she said. "She knows, oh, so many things! She
can speak and write English, not just a little as I do, but beautifully,
like a real American! She knows grammar and geography, and the counting
up of figures, and the story of the world. She does not want a
thought-string like that to help her." (Both Turks and Armenians are
accustomed, when thinking or talking, to finger strings of beads, called
_tebishes_, and to obtain some mysterious assistance from the process.)
"Oh! no. She would never use one at school, nor indeed would most of us.
But now she is going where she will have such _very_ hard lessons to
learn, that perhaps she may be glad of it. At least it will remind her
of her poor little Shushan. Tell her, Kevork, that Shushan puts a prayer
for her on every bead she sends her."

"I think it is a very foolish plan to teach all those things to girls,"
one of the old women observed. "They will be fit for nothing else in the
world but reading books, and who will mind the babies? And what will
become of cooking and washing and baking bread, not to talk of spinning
and sewing?"

"The girls of the American school at Urfa cook and bake and spin and sew
right well for their years," Shushan spoke up bravely. "And those who go
to Aintab, like Elmas, learn those things even better there. Oh, I wish
you could see Elmas in her home, working to help her mother, and taking
care of her little brothers and sister; you would know what she was
worth then."

This did not fall upon unheeding ears. Young Kevork made a mental note
of it; then turned quickly to ask his mother what she could manage to
give him in the way of clothing, as his cousin wished to set out on his
journey the morning of the day after next.

Meanwhile Jack was busily employed writing to his uncle, and to his
uncle's son. The former he told, briefly enough, of his father's death,
his own long illness, and the care and kindness of the people amongst
whom he had fallen. He asked him to write to him, and to send him money
for his journey home, and also to recompense those who had been so good
to him. He knew, of course, that he would have a considerable income of
his own, so he felt no difficulty in making this request. He concluded
with love to his relatives and enquiries after their welfare. To his
cousin he wrote more freely, and gave more particulars. But even to him
his words did not flow easily. He could not take up his life in his
hand, and look at it from the outside, so as to describe it to another.
He could only give details of his surroundings, and of this he soon
tired, being unaccustomed to write in English, or indeed to write at
all. He broke off abruptly, folded up the two letters in one, sealed the
packet, directed it to his uncle, and brought it to Thomassian.

Baron Muggurditch Thomassian was emphatically the courteous, cultured,
cosmopolitan Armenian. He had amassed a considerable fortune in his
business, which was that of a merchant of drugs; and to which he joined
some cautious and lucrative money-lending. Moreover, he had travelled
far, and seen much. He could speak several languages quite well enough
to make shrewd bargains in them; and he knew the art of spending as well
as of making money. He could appreciate music, poetry, and painting, no
less than luxuries of a more material kind. Yet Jack felt as if he could
never love him, never trust him even, as he did his friends in Biridjik.
"I don't know what it is," he said to himself; "for there is nothing
amiss with his looks, except perhaps something a little shifty about his
eyes."

Nothing, however, could have been more courteous than his response to
Jack's request that he would take charge of his letter, and see it safe
into some really reliable post-office.

"I am asking my friends to send money to bring me home," he added, by
way of explanation.

"How did you tell them to send it, Mr. Grayson?" asked Thomassian.

"I never thought of telling them how. I thought they would know
themselves," Jack answered simply.

"It is not so simple a matter as you think," said Thomassian.

"Then what must I do? Stay, could it be managed this way? You are going
to Aleppo?"

"Yes, Effendi."

"The English Consul there was my father's friend, and very kind to us.
He would let my uncle send the money to him, and would know how to send
it to me. I daresay he would write to my uncle too. You will ask him,
will you not, Baron Thomassian?"

"I will do it without fail."

"And I am very grateful to you," Jack said, giving him his hand in
English fashion, though the courteous Eastern did not fail to bow low
over it.

Next morning Muggurditch Thomassian went his way, taking with him Jack's
letter and Jack's chief friend Kevork, but leaving behind him what was
destined to be of still more importance in the life of the English
youth.

FOOTNOTES:

[1] The "perch" upon which the Turkish guard reposed was a kind of
booth, erected on the top of four poles, twelve or fifteen feet high,
planted firmly in the ground.

[2] Miss.



Chapter VI

ROSES AND BATH TOWELS

     "He moved about the house with joy
     And with the certain step of man."

     --_Tennyson._


"Good-morning, Mr. John, I give you my salvation."

Very softly and sweetly fell the English words from the pretty lips of
Shushan. Jack stood before her (it was spring now) with a great basket
of spring flowers--glorious red anemones, fragrant wild roses, pink and
yellow--wild heliotrope, wild hyacinths, and other flowers for which we
have no name in England. They were not alone together, of course; Mariam
Hanum was there at her wheel, and two or three other women or girls of
the family, spinning or sewing. Shushan herself was bending over a piece
of the beautiful silk embroidery she had learned in Urfa, when the
entrance of the young Englishman with the flowers they all loved so well
made all look up together. Only the men and boys of their own family
might come in thus freely to the room where the women sat; for any
others the younger ones would have withdrawn, or at least have veiled
their faces modestly. Shushan, at her first home-coming, used to do so
for Jack; but the practice had gradually and insensibly fallen into
disuse. She had been learning English in the school in Urfa, and at this
time it was the greatest pleasure Jack had in life to hear her speak it.
She was not unwilling to do so, being most anxious to remember all she
had been taught.

"Is that right said, Mr. Yon?" she asked.

"It is very nice. And now, for my _salutation_, I give you my flowers.
Here are enough for everybody."

He laid the basket down beside Mariam, having first taken out a fragrant
nosegay of roses and heliotrope, carefully chosen and tied with grass.

"It is for saying a good lesson," he explained, as he offered it to
Shushan.

Jack was now a tall, handsome youth of eighteen. Of late he had grown
strong and active, and he took part as much as he could in outdoor life,
especially in riding. In the saddle he was utterly fearless, and he
began to be very helpful to Hohannes in the training of his young
horses.

A month after the departure of Thomassian, he began to look out for
answers to his letters. But in vain he watched and waited; nothing came
for him. Weeks passed away, and then months; still the silence was
unbroken. Jack was astonished, disappointed; sometimes, by fits and
starts, he was angry. It looked as if his English friends did not care
for him any longer, as if they chose to forget him. If it were not so,
why had they, all this time, made no effort to find out what had become
of his father and himself? Very well; if so it were, he could do without
them. He could not just then feel any pressing anxiety to leave
Biridjik; although of course he always meant to go back to England some
time or other. When he came of age, he would certainly go, for then he
could claim his inheritance.

But it was pleasant here. How richly glowed the Eastern sky! how
glorious the wealth of roses! how sweetly smelled the blossoming vines,
as he rode past the vineyards on the hills!

At last the vintage time came round again.

One fine autumn morning a string of horses, mules, and donkeys stood at
the door of the Meneshians' house. Upon them were packed two tents of
coarse black cloth--that cloth of Cilicia which the tent-maker of Tarsus
used to weave. Some thin mattrasses and rugs were thrown over the
bright-coloured saddles, and in the saddlebags were provisions, cooking
utensils, and a few changes of dress. Then the whole family, from old
Hohannes down to the youngest child, seated themselves, or were seated,
on the animals as best they could find a place; and the yearly visit to
the vineyards--the great autumn holiday of the Armenians--began.

If ever they shook off the deep melancholy which ages of oppression had
stamped upon their race, it was in the simple pleasures of those sweet
vintage days. The days were all too short for them, so they began them
very early, with the singing of a psalm or hymn together. Then they
dispersed to the different kinds of work allotted to them. Some stripped
the low trees of their wealth of clusters, others trod out the juice in
wooden troughs; again, others made it into sherbet, or into a kind of
sugar, or mixed it with starch and with the kernels of nuts for the
preparation of bastuc. Again, a company of happy children plucked the
large grapes singly from their stalks and laid them in the sun, on great
white linen cloths, to turn themselves into raisins. Their labours were
lightened with talk and song, and sometimes even with jests and
laughter.

One morning John Grayson, gathering grapes apart from the rest, heard a
piteous cry for help. The voice was Shushan's; she was in pain or
danger. Dropping his basket on the ground, he tore along, leaping over
the low vines, making a straight line for the spot whence came the cry,
whence came also horrible sounds--the yelps, the snarls, the growls of
savage dogs.

In a corner of the vineyard Shushan and little Hagop clung together,
just keeping at bay, with loose stones from the low wall, five or six
wild, half-famished, wolfish dogs. Their strength was nearly gone.
Another minute and they would be torn to pieces.

Jack dashed in amongst the dogs, dealing frantic kicks and blows about
him. No matter what came next, if only he saved Shushan.

"Run! make for the tent!" he cried to her and Hagop.

The brutes being for the moment occupied with him, the thing was
possible, and they did it.

The sunshine flashed on something bright in the belt of his zeboun--the
great scissors used for cutting grapes. He seized it, and drove it with
all his might into the neck of the nearest dog. Yelping with pain, the
creature ran off. But the stoop was nearly fatal; two or three sprang on
him at once;--he felt fierce teeth meeting in his flesh.

"Done for!" he groaned, conscious only of agony and blackness.

But the next moment a tumult of cries and shouts rang in his ears; the
dogs were flying in all directions before the sticks and stones of his
friends, who had hurried in a body to his help. They had heard the
yelping even before Shushan and Hagop, trembling and exhausted, were
able to reach them. The creatures belonged to some Kourdish shepherds,
who chanced to be passing that way, and the low wall of the vineyard was
no protection against their attacks.

Jack was brought back to his tent amidst the praises and condolences of
the whole company. Mariam Hanum bound up his wounds, weeping and
blessing him, and saying many a hearty "Park Derocha" ("Praise to the
Lord") for the deliverance of her children.

Shushan did not say much; but, after they went home from the vineyard,
she was observed to be very busy over some choice embroidery. She did
not take the time for it from her ordinary work, or from any of her
domestic tasks, but she worked diligently all her spare time, and
sometimes far into the night.

At last, one day, she laid a parcel of considerable size at the feet of
the astonished English youth, saying timidly, "Yon Effendi, you saved my
life. I want to thank you."

The parcel contained what an Armenian lady considers the most graceful
and most appropriate gift she can offer to a gentleman, especially if
it be all her own work--a set of beautifully embroidered bath towels!

But a day was to come when John Grayson would have given all he
possessed, nay, his very life, that he had _not_ heard Shushan
Meneshian's agonized cry for help in the vineyard, or had heard it too
late.



Chapter VII

GATHERING STORMS

     "If thou seest the oppression of the poor, and violent perverting
     of judgment and justice in a province, marvel not at the matter:
     for He that is higher than the highest regardeth; and there be
     higher than they."--_Eccles._ v. 8.


After this adventure Jack matured much more quickly. His manhood grew in
him apace, and with it came courage and energy, and the spirit of
enterprise. He thought often of England now, wondering at the silence
and inaction of all his relatives. That, _before_ he wrote to them, they
made no sign, he would not have wondered at, if he had known all the
truth. The Syrian servants of his father, who had abandoned him in his
illness and stolen his baggage, brought back word to Aleppo that both
father and son were dead of the fever. For obvious reasons they did not
remain in the city; but the story came to the ears of the Consul, and he
had no reason to doubt its truth. He opened some letters which had been
sent to him for Grayson, and having thus discovered his brother's
address, wrote to tell him what had happened.

Ignorant of all this, Jack was sometimes tempted to unkind thoughts of
his relatives in England. He even occasionally allowed himself to think,
with a touch of bitterness, that they were finding the Grayson money
very convenient, and that it might go hard with them to give it up if he
should reappear. But the thought, like snow in a warm climate, did not
_rest_. Jack's was essentially a generous nature. It was an added
wonder, however, even greater than the first, that they never answered
the letter sent them through Thomassian.

But wondering and watching was idle work; and Jack, now a man grown,
began to ask himself why, if he really wanted to go to England, he did
_not_ go? It would be difficult, and it might be dangerous, but all the
better for that! What hindered his borrowing a horse, asking Hohannes to
give him whatever remained--if anything did remain--of his father's
money, hiring a Turkish servant, and making a dash for Aleppo? Once
there, the Consul would help him; and soon after his return to England
he would be of age, and able to act for himself.

What hindered him? Certainly not the perils of the way, though these
were very real. He had passed beyond that stage now, finally and for
ever. The thought of peril, far from daunting him, now made his blood
tingle in his veins. Then what hindered him? He was an Englishman, and
he had his life to live, his inheritance to claim, his birthright to
recover. But still more he was something else, and that something--not
yet expressed, not yet acknowledged even in the depths of his own
heart--held him fast in the little town by far Euphrates.

At Shushan's first home-coming he had been very shy of her. But in
brotherly intercourse that had worn off, and a pleasant "camaraderie"
had grown up between them. He read English with her, using the two books
he had, his father's Bible and "Westward Ho"; and she had an Armenian
Bible which they used to compare with the English. Well she loved its
sweet words of promise, and often she would point them out to Jack and
to Gabriel, who generally shared the lessons. But their talks were not
all grave; they had many a quiet laugh together over her broken English,
and sometimes Jack would tell her stories of his own country, and of
things that happened there.

She in return would talk of Urfa: of the dear American school, of her
beloved Elmas Stepanian, and her other friends. She would describe the
American ladies of the Mission: tall, grave Miss Celandine, revered as
a mother, and her bright young colleague Miss Fairchild; Jack's
fair-haired lady of the ferry-boat, whom, however, he entirely failed to
recognise from her description.

But since the battle with the dogs and the gift of the towels, his
shyness had returned in full force. So much so that when, with great
trouble, he caught in hunting, and brought back to her, one of the
pretty little gazelles the Armenians love to keep as pets, it cost him
more trouble still to present his offering. But he was rewarded by the
light in Shushan's lovely face, and the smile with which she spoke her
gentle "Much very thanks, Master John."

Yet the passion that began to grow in John Grayson's heart was two-fold.
Love and burning indignation were so closely twined together, that he
could not have severed them if he tried. As his whole development since
his illness had been slow, so it was but slowly and gradually that he
grew to understand the conditions under which Shushan and all the rest
were living. But when he came to realize them fully, he wished at first
to escape and fight his way to the coast, so as anyhow and on any terms
to get out of that horrible country. But he wished afterwards to stay,
and stand side by side and shoulder to shoulder with these, the
desolate and oppressed, whom he so loved.

Never, perhaps, has oppression been at once so comprehensive and so
minute. The iron entered into their souls; and at the same time their
fingers were vexed with innumerable pin pricks. Jack had seen a hundred
times, without much notice, the rude wooden ploughs in use in the
district--mere hurdles with pieces of iron stuck in the end; but one day
it occurred to him, on some provocation, to abuse them roundly, and to
ask if there was not a smith in the country who could make a decent
ploughshare.

"Our smiths could make anything yours could," said Avedis, with whom he
was walking.

"Then why don't they?"

"I thought you knew." He lowered his voice and whispered,
"_Daajek_"--the Turk.

"You mean they won't allow you?"

Avedis nodded. "Wait till we get home," he said.

The conversation was resumed, where alone such conversations were safe,
though not always even there, within closed doors.

"I know," said Jack, "that the Turks hate machinery."

"They detest it, and they fear it. They think every machine the work of
Shaytan--the Devil."

"I can't help thinking," said Jack, "of the Dark Ages, and of what I
read of them before I came. Here are men of the twelfth century, with
their feet on the necks of men of the nineteenth. It's bad for both.
_They_ must be puzzled with you, and afraid of you, as a Norman Baron
would have been of his Saxon serfs if they had understood all about
steam and electricity, while he thought those things mysterious works of
the Devil. But I wonder how long he could have kept them serfs?"

"As long as he had arms, and they had none. More especially if he was
backed up from outside," Avedis answered sadly. Then he sang softly, as
if to himself, two lines of an old Armenian national song--


     "If I cannot have a Christian home,
       I will have a Christian grave."


"Yon Effendi," he resumed, "their hate of us is growing every day. And
now, I think, they mean to make a full end of us."

For rumours of terrible and wholesale massacres were reaching them every
day. Now it was about Sassoun, now about Zeitun, now about Marash and
Trebizond, that these things were whispered from lip to lip. Such
rumours kept them in a continual state of apprehension and panic; for
they knew not what to believe, and had no means of learning the truth.
It was easier to know in England what happened in any town of Armenia
than to know it in another town of the same country. The Turks of
Biridjik triumphed openly; and some of them boasted to their Giaour
neighbours that they would soon have all that belonged to them. Some of
the Christians thought they were all sure to be murdered; others
remembered there had been just such a scare seventeen or eighteen years
before, but that then it had come to nothing; so they thought that now
also things would just go on as usual, neither better nor worse. Others
again thought anything between the two extremes that their fears or
their fancies prompted.

John Grayson thought, for one, that certainly for the present he would
stay where he was. "It is not in the hour of danger one rides away and
leaves one's friends behind," he said to himself.

More than four years had passed now since his first coming to the
country. He was twenty years of age, full six feet with his slippers
off, with light brown hair and beard, fair complexion well tanned by the
sun, English blue eyes, and frank, fearless English face.



Chapter VIII

A PROPOSAL

     He either fears his fate too much,
       Or his desert is small,
     Who spares to put it to the touch
       And gain or lose it all.

     --_Marquis of Montrose._


Jack often went to the service held daily, a little after sunrise, in
the Gregorian Church.

So did many members of the household, Mariam, Shushan, and Gabriel
especially being constant attendants.

One day the returning party was met at the door by Hagop, weeping
bitterly.

Asked by every one what was wrong, he sobbed out, "The cattle! The
cattle!"

"What is wrong with the cattle?"

"They are not wrong--they are all gone. The Kourds have taken them
away--every one."

"Every one? The kine, and the sheep and goats as well?"

"There's not a cow left to low nor a lamb to bleat of them all. The
shepherds have come in, wounded and beaten, to tell us. Grandfather
says they did all they could. Amaan! Amaan!"

By this time the women were all weeping. For them it meant ruin--almost
starvation. But Gabriel touched his mother's hand caressingly, and
whispered a word from the Psalm they had just sung in church: "His are
the cattle upon a thousand hills."

"But that is unbearable!" Jack burst out.

"It _has_ to be borne," Mariam said sadly.

"We shall see! I cannot believe such things are done--here even--and
there is no remedy. A man's whole possessions swept away at a stroke.
Hagop, where are the men?"

"In the great front room."

"I will go to them. Come, Gabriel."

But Hagop pulled his brother back. "_You_ won't be let in," he said. "I
was not."

"I am two years older."

"But you are not a man. Father said, 'This is for men,' and took me by
the shoulder and turned me out."

Jack rather wondered what had to be talked of which intelligent boys of
twelve and fourteen ought not to hear, but he said nothing, and went in
at once.

He found all the men of the household, with a few of their intimate
friends, gathered in the large room of which Hagop had spoken. As he
entered all were silent. They stood together in a dull stupor, like
cattle before a thunderstorm. In their faces was profound sadness,
mingled with fear. Jack looked around on them, and cried out
impetuously, "Are we going to stand this outrageous robbery? Is there
nothing to be done?"

There was no answer. Some bowed their heads despairingly; others put
their hands on their hearts, and said, "Amaan!" Others, again, looked up
and murmured, "God help us!"

Jack turned to Hohannes. The old man was weeping, his face buried in his
cloak. The sight touched him.

"Father, do not weep," he said gently. "We will try to recover at least
something."

Hohannes flung his cloak aside with a gesture of passionate pain. "Dost
think I am weeping for sheep and oxen?" he said. "Friends, this young
man is to me as a son, and to Shushan as a brother. Tell him--I cannot."

Pale with a new alarm, Jack turned to the rest, "What is _this_?" he
cried. "Tell me, in God's name."

They looked at each other in silence. At last Avedis, who seemed fated
to belie his name, found his voice. He said hoarsely, "Just after the
shepherds came to tell about the flocks, my father was called aside. It
was a private message from the Kamaikan, who is not so bad as some. He
sent to warn us that Mehmed Ibrahim has found out Shushan is here. He
will send to demand her for his harem, and we will have to give her up."

Jack groaned, and turned his face away. Silence fell upon them all--a
silence that might be felt. After a while some one said, "He has not
sent yet. The Kamaikan's warning was well meant."

"Yes," said Avedis, "we have given gold. He will get us a respite if he
can."

"What use in a respite," Boghos, Shushan's father, moaned in his
despair--"except to dress the bride?"

"The _bride_!" a younger man repeated,--rage, hate, and shame
concentrated in the word.

There was another pause, and a long one. Then John Grayson strode out
into the middle of the room and stood there, his form erect, his eyes
flashing, his arm outstretched. "Listen!" he cried, in a voice like the
sharp report of a rifle.

Every one turned towards him, but old Hohannes said hopelessly, "It is
no use; yet speak on, Yon Effendi; thou dost ever speak wisely."

"There is one way of saving Shushan."

"Let me speak first," an old man, as old as Hohannes, broke in hastily.
"Englishman, thou hast lived long among us, but thou art not of our
race. Thou dost not yet understand that we are born to suffer, and have
no defence except patience. I wot thou wouldst talk to us of fighting
and resistance; for thou art young, and thy blood is hot. But I am old,
and my head is grey. I have seen that tried often enough--ay, God knows,
too often! Did not my son die in a Turkish prison, and my daughter, whom
he struck those blows to save--Well, she is dead now, and Shushan--as we
hope--will die soon, for God is merciful. But let there be no word
spoken of resistance here; for that means only anguish piled on anguish,
wrong heaped on wrong."

Without change of voice or attitude, Jack repeated his words, "There is
one way of saving Shushan."

Avedis spoke up boldly. "Let us hear what Yon Effendi has to say. He
saved her once already from the wild dogs."

Jack looked round the room. "Do I not see a priest here? Yes, Der
Garabed."

The priest had been ill, and had come out now for the first time, drawn
by sympathy for the troubles of the Meneshians. He was sitting in a
corner on some cushions, but when his name was spoken he rose, in his
long black robe with large sleeves, like an English clergyman's gown.

"What do you want of me, Yon Effendi?" he asked.

"I want you to marry me to-morrow morning to Shushan Meneshian."

A murmur of astonishment ran round the room. Old Hohannes was the first
to speak. "Dear son, thou art beside thyself. Forget thy foolish words.
We will forget them also."

"I am not beside myself, and I speak words of truth and soberness," said
Jack, to whom Bible diction came naturally now. "There is no other way."

"One cannot do things after that fashion," the priest said vaguely,
being much perplexed, "nor in such haste. One must be careful not to
profane a sacrament of the Church."

"Where is the profanation? I love her--more than my life." Crimson to
the roots of his hair, and with the blood throbbing in every vein, John
Grayson stood, in that supreme moment, revealed to his own heart, and
flinging out the revelation as a challenge to all that company of
sorrowful, despairing men.

"It is a strange thing, a very strange thing," said Hohannes, stroking
his beard.

He expressed the sense of the whole assembly. The proposal was a breach
of every convention of their race, amongst whom betrothal invariably
precedes marriage. "It cannot be done in that way," was their feeling.

Jack knew their customs as well as they did; but, being an Englishman,
he thought necessity should and must override custom. He spoke again,
with that curious calmness which sometimes marks the very heart of an
intense emotion, the spot of still water in the midst of the whirlpool.
"As the wedded wife of an Englishman, no Turk will dare to molest her. I
should like to see him try it! He would have England to reckon with, and
England can keep her own."

Now, if any hope survived in the crushed hearts of these oppressed,
downtrodden Armenians, it was hope in England. The English were
Christians, so they would have the will to help them; they were mighty
warriors and conquerors, so they would have the power. Themselves under
the pressure of a malignant, irresistible power, they had perhaps an
exaggerated idea of what power could accomplish, if combined with
beneficence.

Certainly for a young man to marry a girl in that way, without
preparation, without betrothal, without even time to make the wedding
clothes, was a thing unheard of since the days of St. Gregory. Yet, what
if it were the only way of saving Shushan?

Hohannes spoke at last. "Yon Effendi," he asked, "have you the _right_
to do this? Is there in your own land no head of your house, no kinsman,
without whose leave this thing ought not to be done? Answer, as in the
sight of God."

Jack held up his head proudly. "There is none," he said. "I am my own
master."

"Then," Hohannes resumed, "it is my mind to say to you, do what is in
your heart, and may God bless you."

"Then," said Jack, "with your leave, father, I will ask her."

"And I, the head of her house, give her to you in the name of God."

Jack looked around in perplexity. "But you know I have got to ask her,"
he repeated. Boy as he was when he left England, he knew that when a man
wished to marry, the one indispensable preliminary was to "ask" the lady
of his choice.

Then arose Boghos, who had been nearly silent hitherto in a sorrow too
great for words or tears. "I too her father, I give her unto thee in the
Name of God," he said solemnly.

"I have only, then, to ask her," Jack persisted.

"Thou _hast_ asked, and we have given her." It was Hohannes who spoke
now. "What yet remains to do?"

Jack pulled himself together, and tried to explain. "But if she--does
not like me--I can't--you know.--Don't you understand?--I must speak to
her, and ask her if she will have me."

The men stood silent, looking at each other. Had they spoken their
thoughts, they would have said, "Heard ever any man the like of that?"
Scarcely would they have been more surprised had Jack, wishing to sell
his horse, announced that he could not conclude the bargain without the
creature's express consent.

At last Avedis threw out a modest suggestion. "This may be one of the
customs of the English people, which we do not understand. No doubt they
have their customs, as we have ours."

Jack turned to him gratefully. "You are right, Avedis. It _is_ the
custom of my country to take the 'yes' or 'no' only from the lady's
lips.

"A very strange custom," muttered Boghos.

"But if it _is_ the custom, we ought to conform to it, however strange
or unsuitable it may appear to us," Der Garabed advised. "We should do
all things in order; and moreover, should we fail in this, it might
happen that in the English country the marriage would not be recognised.
Therefore this is what I propose: let us send for the young maiden, and
let the Englishman, in our presence, do after the manner of his
country."

This was too appalling! Jack tingled all over at the thought of such an
ordeal for Shushan, and for himself. "Oh, I can't! For Heaven's sake,
let me go to her," he said.

"If that also is according to the custom, it shall be duly observed,"
said Hohannes, with the air of one who humours a sick person. "Let us
all go."

Happily for Jack, some of those present had the sense to reflect that
the women's apartment would not hold them all, and that therefore their
assistance might be dispensed with. Still the grandfather and father of
the maiden, two of her uncles, the priest, and three other persons
thought it behoved them to go and witness the due performance of this
ceremony of the English.

Jack was conducted by this solemn group to the room where Shushan sat
with her mother. As with trembling footsteps he approached her, the rest
fell back and stood in a grave half-circle, their ears and eyes intent
upon his every word and motion. "Heaven help me!" thought Jack. "Had
ever man to propose in such a way? What shall I say?" But no words would
come to him; sense and speech seemed both to have departed from him.

The silence throbbed in his ears like a pulse of pain--the awful
silence, which he knew he ought to break, which he _must_ break, for his
life, and more than his life--and yet he could not. Not a word could he
utter.

Shushan, meanwhile, not knowing what all this might portend, hastily
veiled her face, and clung to her mother. Mariam had a copper dish which
she had been cleaning in her hand, and in her surprise and alarm she let
it go. It slipped slowly down her dress, and fell at last with a slight
sound upon the floor. In the strained silence every one started, and
Shushan dropped her veil with a little frightened cry.

Jack saw her sweet face, pale with anguish, her soft, dark eyes, heavy
with unshed tears. Every thought was lost in an unutterable longing to
snatch her from the fate that threatened her. "Will you let me save you,
Shushan?" he pleaded, coming close to her,--and his voice was the voice
of a strong man's infinite tenderness.

Shushan stood up, looked around upon her father, her grandfather, and
all the rest, then looked calmly and steadily in the face of the
Englishman. "_Yes_," she said softly.

For she knew there was one way of escape for the Christian maiden in a
strait like hers. There had been often in Armenia Christian fathers
strong enough to say, like Virginius,--


     "And now, my own dear little girl, there is no way but this."


What more likely than that the brave, kind Englishman--whom it would not
hurt so much, as he was not of her own blood--might do for her that
which her kindred would find too hard? There was a strange fascination,
a sort of rapture in the thought of dying by his hand. "I am not
afraid," she said, with a firm sweet look,--"not afraid to die."

"_To die!_" Jack cried in horror. "Who talks of dying? No, you shall not
die, but live. You shall live for me, my own true wife, in happy
England. Say 'yes' to that, Shushan."

She looked at him in wonder. At last the colour mounted to her pale
cheeks, her lips parted softly, and a low murmur came, "If God wills."

Hohannes turned gravely to the rest. "No doubt," he said, stroking his
beard, "Yon Effendi has done after the manner of the English, when they
would take their wives. If he is satisfied, we may go our way, thanking
God, who has sent him to the help of our dear child in her peril."

Jack's heart beat thickly, as one by one they went, and he was left
alone with Shushan and her mother. Hohannes had looked back to see if he
were following; but no, he stood rooted to the spot. "The custom of his
country," thought the old man, and passed on.

Jack stood looking on the ground, not daring to raise his eyes to
Shushan's face. But when the last retreating footstep had died away, he
looked up, and there was that in his face which she had never seen
before. The question of his heart was this: "Does she care for _me_, or
am I only better than a Turk?" It spoke in his eyes, and thrilled her
with a sense of something strangely new and sweet. He had been kind and
good to her for so long a time, but _this_--what was this?

Instinctively she turned from him to her mother. Mariam's tears of joy
and thankfulness were falling drop by drop. She could have thrown
herself at the feet of the deliverer of her child. But, true to the
custom of her race when a maiden is in the presence of him who has
chosen her, she drew the veil over her daughter's face.

"Ah!" Jack exclaimed involuntarily. But he had seen enough--enough at
least to assure him that he could teach Shushan to love him as he loved
her. "Dear mother," he said, "you have been a mother to me for so long;
now I am going to be your son altogether, and take care of your Lily."

Scarcely had the men reached the court when the priest said gravely,
"There is one thing we have left out of our account, which is serious,
and may not be disregarded. An Englishman cannot marry a subject of the
Sultan without a written permission from his own Consul--even if he can
do it except in the Consul's presence. Under the circumstances, I dare
not perform the ceremony; terrible harm might come of it; and moreover
it might not be valid in England."

Most of the party knew this already, but in their excitement they had
disregarded or forgotten it. They stood just as they were in the court,
and looked at one another; "all faces gathered blackness."

"Call forth Yon Effendi and tell him," said Hohannes.

Avedis called him, and he came, his face flushed and glowing with a shy,
half-hidden rapture.

Der Garabed explained the difficulty. Jack tossed his head impatiently,
like a young horse restrained unwillingly by bit and bridle. "What a
plague!" he cried in boyish indignation. Then, his face changed and
sobered as the man within him asserted himself; he seemed to grow years
older all at once. "This is what we will do," he said: "Bring Shushan
well disguised to one of the Christian villages near--you know them all,
and which is best to choose--and hide her there for a few days. I will
take horse this very hour and ride to Urfa. You know it is reported the
Consul is there at present. If he is, I can see him; if not, I can go
after him. I daresay he can give me some writing, or document, which
will make everything straight for us. But if he cannot, and the thing
must be done in his presence, I will bring Shushan to him, were he at
the end of the world. For I carry this thing through, or I die for
it--so help me God!"

"Good. And before you go, we will betroth her to you," Hohannes
answered.

Then he took him privately into the room where his father's things were
hidden. He gave him all the gold that remained; and then, with an air of
mystery, took out another parcel, and having unwound its many wrappings,
displayed to Jack's astonished eyes a small revolver and a belt of
cartridges.

"I did not know you had these," he said.

"No; I was afraid to tell you while you were but a boy; lest some chance
word to your companions might betray that we had firearms here, and ruin
us all; or else you might have been too eager to get hold of them, and
unwilling to wait. But now you are a man, and have sense and
understanding; and on the way to Urfa, where there are robbers, they may
be of use to you."

Jack took the revolver in great delight, and went off to examine it. In
England he had been a good shot for a boy of his age, though only with
an ordinary gun. But he had sometimes cleaned the revolver for his
father, so he knew what to do. He found it in a terrible condition from
rust and damp, and feared it would be quite useless. However, he
managed with great difficulty to clean two barrels out of the six, and
to load them; more it would be useless to attempt.

As he was thus engaged some one knocked at the door. Knowing his
occupation to be a very dangerous one, he did not say, "Come in," but
went and opened it cautiously. Gabriel stood there. "Yon Effendi," he
said, "the post is going to-night."

"Well?"

"That means that you may get to Urfa in nine hours instead of in two
days; for you know they go the whole way at a hard gallop. It means
safety too, for they have zaptiehs to guard them."

"Good, Gabriel. 'Tis _thou_ shouldst be called Avedis (good tidings). I
will go at once and settle to go along with them."

"You will hide _that thing_," said Gabriel, with a frightened glance at
the revolver. "'Twould mean death. And oh, Yon Effendi, one word,
please!" He stooped, kissed his hand, and pressed his forehead to it.
"Tell them a boy comes with you. Take me, I pray of you, Yon Effendi!"

Jack hesitated. "There would be danger for you," he said.

"No more than here."

"But your father and mother, and your grandfather, Gabriel?"

"They give me leave; nay, they wish it. They say it is for my sister
you are doing all this; therefore if I can help you--and I can. I know
Turkish well, and that will be very useful. I know the ways of the Turks
too, much better than you do. And I love you, Yon Effendi."

There was reason in what he said, and in the end he had his way.

That evening all the Meneshian family met together in the largest room
of their house, the men and boys sitting at one side of it, the women at
the other. At an ordinary time they would have "called their neighbours
and chief friends," but now they were afraid to do it; so Der Garabed
was the only outsider, and his presence was official, for he read
certain prayers of the Church and a passage of Scripture. Then Jack
stood up, and walked over to the place where Shushan sat, beside her
mother. In his hand was his father's Bible and another book--an Armenian
hymnbook. Shushan rose and stood before him with bowed head and veiled
face, as with a few low-breathed words he gave her the books. She took
them from him, and laid them on the table. No word was spoken by her; in
taking them she had done enough. The betrothal was sealed. Then,
according to custom, the boys handed round bastuc and paclava, (a kind
of paste made with honey,) and also coffee and sherbet. But this was
rather a sacrifice to use and wont than a genuine festivity. The little
gathering soon broke up, and Jack and Gabriel prepared for their
journey.

At nightfall they said to their friends and kindred the usual "Paree
menác" (remain with blessing), and were answered by the usual, and in
this case most heartfelt "Paree yetac" (go with blessing).



Chapter IX

PEACE AND STRIFE

     "They that have seen thy look in death
       No more may fear to die."


John Grayson and Gabriel Meneshian were threading their way through the
narrow, unsavoury streets of Urfa, the gutters which ran down the middle
often not leaving them room to walk side by side. They had left their
horses at a khan, and were now seeking the dwelling of the Vartonians,
to which they had been directed. Emerging at last into a wider
thoroughfare, they saw a church, standing in the midst of its
churchyard, of which the gate was open. "We must be in our own quarter,"
cried Gabriel, delighted, "for this is a Christian church."

Jack stepped inside the gate and looked at it with interest. The door of
the church was open also; and Gabriel, seeing him look towards it, said,
"You might go in there, Yon Effendi, and rest a little, for I see you
are tired to death; I will run on and try and find the house. It cannot
be far off now."

"But you are tired too."

"Not a bit. I would feel quite fresh this minute if I only had a drink.
And, by good luck, there goes a fellow outside, a Turk too, with a
bucket full of _iran_ to sell."

The Turk, who had been crying his ware, stopped at the moment, for he
saw an Armenian boy coming down the street with a large empty pitcher in
his hand. "You want this?" said he, preparing to pour his sour milk into
it.

The boy said he wanted nothing of the kind. He had been sent for water,
and water he must bring. His people were waiting for it, and would be
very angry. He tried to pass on, but the Turk laid hold on him, seized
his pitcher, and emptied the bucket of _iran_ into it, not without
spilling a good deal in the street. "Now pay me my money," he said.

"But the thing is no use to me," the boy protested ruefully.

"What does that matter, dog of a Giaour? You got it; and, by the beard
of the Prophet, you must pay for it."

As the boy, crying bitterly, searched for the few piastres he had about
him, Jack's honest English face flushed with wrath, and Gabriel would
have sprung to the rescue had he not laid his hand on him and whispered,
"Wait."

They waited until the Turk had turned down a side street, then Jack
hailed the lad, who was standing quite still, gazing dolefully at his
useless pitcher of _iran_. "Will you give us a drink?" he asked, coming
out of the gate. "We are dying of thirst."

The boy checked his sobs; and for answer held up his pitcher to the lips
of the stranger. Jack took a long deep draught, then passed it on to
Gabriel, while he made the boy happy with more piastres than the Turk
had taken from him. His tears all gone, he blessed the strangers for
good Christians, and thanked them in the Name of the Lord.

"What church is that?" asked Gabriel, giving back the pitcher.

"That? Oh, that is the church of the Protestants."

"Is it English then?" Jack asked, feeling a pull at his heart strings.

"No; it is Armenian. But it is of the religion of the foreigners, who
talk English. They are good people, and very kind to the poor."

"Perhaps there is service going on, as the church is open," Jack said.
"I will go and see."

"Do," said Gabriel; "meanwhile, this lad will help me to find the
Vartonians, and I will come back for you."

Jack passed through the churchyard, and, leaving his shoes on the
threshold, entered the church. The interior was very handsome, all of
white stone, and adorned with fine pillars and beautiful carving. It was
not unlike a Gregorian church, save for the absence of pictures. In the
window, over what the Gregorians called the Altar and the Protestants
the Table of the Lord, was a small red cross. There was a very low
partition, separating the places where the men and the women sat, and
the floor was covered with rushes.

Before the Holy Table, on a kind of couch, all draped in snowy white,
and covered with flowers, something lay. Jack knew what it was, for he
had seen the dead laid in the church at Biridjik, to await their final
rest. With bowed head and reverent footsteps he drew near to look.
Venturing gently to draw aside the face-cloth from the face, he saw it
was that of a woman. Not, evidently, a young and lovely girl like
Shushan, but one who had lived her life, had borne the burden and heat
of the day, and, it well might be, was glad to rest. Perhaps yesterday
there were wrinkles on the cheek and furrows on the brow; now
death,--"kind, beautiful death,"--had smoothed them all away, and
stamped instead his own signet there of which the legend is "Peace." The
closed white lips had that look we have seen on the faces of our dead,
as if they are of those "God whispers in the ear,"--and they _know_,
though they cannot tell us, _yet_. English words, that he had heard long
ago, came floating through the brain of John Grayson. "The peace of God
that passeth all understanding." He found himself once more in the
church of his childhood, while a solemn voice breathed over the hushed
congregation those words of blessing. Then, coming back to the present,
he thought, "It takes away the fear of death to see a dead face like
that." He reverently replaced the veil, and withdrawing somewhat into
the shadow, knelt down to pray.

As he knelt there, he heard the footsteps of one who came to look upon
the dead. Rising noiselessly, he saw a tall, noble-looking man, dressed
_à la Frank_, approach the bier. His bent head was streaked with grey,
his face pale with intense, though quiet sorrow. As he knelt down
silently beside his dead, John Grayson knew instinctively that the love
of those two had been what his love and Shushan's might become, if God
left them together for half a happy lifetime.

For a few minutes the silence lasted, then came that most sorrowful of
all earth's sounds of sorrow, the sob of a strong man. Jack kept quiet
in the shadow of his pillar, in reverence and awe; not for worlds would
he have betrayed his presence there.

Afraid Gabriel might come in search of him, he looked round for some
chance of escape. He saw, to his relief, a small side door, near where
he was standing. He crept towards it noiselessly, found it unlocked,
withdrew the little bolt, and going through the pastor's study, slipped
out into the churchyard to wait for Gabriel. Yes, there he was, just
coming in at the gate. He went to meet him.

"Did you think me long, Yon Effendi?" asked the boy. "I have found the
Vartonians, and I am to bring you to them at once. Baron Vartonian
himself is away from home, but one of his sons would have come with me
to bid you welcome to their house, only they are in great trouble
to-day, for Pastor Stepanian, their Badvellie, whom they love, has just
lost his wife. Shushan will be very sorry, for Oriort Elmas Stepanian,
the Badvellie's daughter, is her greatest friend."

"I know," Jack answered softly. "I have seen the face of the dead.
Gabriel, I do not think _now_ that it can be very hard to die."

"No," said Gabriel. "It would not be hard to die for Christ's sake, Yon
Effendi."

"It reminds me," Jack went on, as if talking to himself, "of the last
words I heard my father say, 'The dark river turns to light.'"

Jack was received with open arms by the whole Vartonian household. It
was even a larger household than that of the Meneshians in Biridjik. Its
head, a prosperous merchant, was absent in Aleppo, but there was his old
infirm father, and there were his numerous sons and daughters, two or
three of them married, with children of their own, but the youngest
still a child. There were also many servants. Some of the family were
Gregorians and some Protestants, but there was no friction or jealousy
between the two. Being people of substance, their house, built as usual
around a court, was large and very handsomely furnished, the wood-work
carved elaborately, and the curtains, rugs, and carpets of rich
materials, and beautifully embroidered.

The Vartonians considered Jack in the light of a hero. But they were
uneasy at Shushan's being left, even for the present, in a village
exposed to the attacks of the Kourds; for much more was known at Urfa
than at Biridjik about the disturbed state of the country, and the
terrible massacres that had taken place in many towns and villages. Was
not the Armenian quarter still full of the miserable refugees from
Sassoun, who had come there during the past winter--diseased, starving,
wounded, sometimes dying, and with horrible tales of the cruelties they
and theirs had suffered?

It was agreed on all hands that the best thing Jack could do was to
refer his case to the lady at the head of the American Mission, whose
school Shushan had attended. We shall call this heroic lady, who is
happily still living, Miss Celandine. She thought the best plan would be
to bring Shushan, as soon as she was married, back to Urfa in disguise,
since under her charge and in the mission premises she would be, for the
time, absolutely safe. She believed the English Consul would be able to
give permission for the marriage without being personally present. But
she was not certain as to where the Consul was to be found. Very likely
he was at the baths of Haran, the season being August, and very hot. She
would find out as soon as possible, and put Mr. Grayson into
communication with him.

Two or three days later, Jack was setting out, with one of the young
Vartonians, to explore the hill that overhangs Urfa, and to visit the
remains of the ancient citadel, and the other interesting ruins with
which it is strewn,--when Kevork Meneshian walked in. As soon as they
had got through the usual salutations, Barkev Vartonian and John Grayson
asked him together, "What has brought you here?" And Barkev added, "It
is not the time for vacation."

"True," answered the young man, smiling; "I did very wrong to come away.
And I am very glad I came."

"You speak in a riddle," said Jack.

"It is easily read. When Pastor Stepanian's wife died, the news came by
telegraph to Oriort Elmas in Aintab. It was in her heart to go home at
once to her father and her young brothers, who must need her sorely. But
what a journey for a girl, and a girl all alone, with only khartijes for
companions and protectors! Only think of it, four long days on
horseback, and three nights in the wayside khans! And then the perils of
the road--wild Kourds everywhere, not to speak of other robbers, more
treacherous, if less violent. I could not have it! So I told no one, but
just wrote a note of apology, and left it for the Principal, slipped out
without waiting for leave, put on a servant's dress, and became her
shadow, from the moment her lady teacher bade farewell to her in Aintab
until she fell fainting into her father's arms here in Urfa, last
night."

"A proper person _you_ were to act as a young lady's guardian!" said
Barkev laughing.

"I did not say 'guardian,' I said 'shadow,'" Kevork returned coolly.
"One's shadow is always before or behind. So I took care to keep; only
letting her know I _was_ there, if I was wanted. There were many ways I
could help her. That is how I came to be here; and I suppose the Mission
folk at Aintab will have no more of me, since I have broken all their
rules. But I have got a good deal of their learning already," he added
with some complacency. "Yon Effendi, how are my father and my mother,
and all our house in Biridjik, for we did not stay there on our way? And
what in the world has brought _you_ here?"

Jack answered his questions, marvelling the while at the mixture in his
character. Shrewd, practical, and almost selfish in the pursuit of his
ambition as he used to think him, he had served Elmas Stepanian with a
delicate, self-sacrificing chivalry of which any lover might have been
proud.

"I think," said Barkev, "you would do well to go to the Badvellie. He is
very learned, and might give you the lessons you have missed."

"I will not trouble the Pastor _yet_," answered Kevork with
decision--"not until I can go to him for something else. No; I shall beg
of Miss Celandine to give me work, teaching the boys that come to her
school, and study for myself in the evenings."

"You'll get on," said Barkev approvingly. "For you know what you want.
'A polished stone is not left on the ground.'"

"I might, in any other country. But," lowering his voice, "what is this
I hear of fresh massacres?"

"Oh, rumours, rumours! There are always rumours. I would not think too
much of them--not until we hear more."

"You may well talk of rumours," Kevork returned. "Some of the things
people say are past thinking for foolishness. Do you know I heard in
Aintab that some people say in Europe it is _we_ who are massacring the
Turks? As if we _could_, even suppose we would! Without firearms, or
weapons of any kind, so much as to defend ourselves from the Kourdish
robbers--good for _us_ to think of killing Turks! 'Twould be striking
the point of a goad with one's fist."

"The wolf eats the lamb, and cries out that the lamb is eating him,"
said Barkev. "But," he added, glancing round apprehensively, "is there
any talk of the English coming to help us?"

"Much talk there is of the Sultan's having consented, moved thereto no
doubt by the English and the other Christians, to grant us certain
privileges."

"We do not want privileges," said Barkev; "we want _justice_. We want
security for our lives and properties, and, above all, for our women."

"Well, that is what these reforms are intended to give us."

"I'll believe in them, when I see a Moslem punished for a crime against
one of _us_. And that is what my grandfather, in his seven and eighty
years, has never seen, nor I think will little Nerses, who is not weaned
yet, live to see it."

"Where is the use of that kind of talk, true though it be?" said Kevork;
"it only brings trouble."

The heart of Kevork Meneshian was not just then attuned to trouble. The
deepest gorges of the Alps have every day their gleam of sunshine,
though it be but for one short hour; so even in the most shadowed lives
there is usually some brief, golden moment, when the light in a soft eye
or the smile on a dear lip is more than the fate of nations or of
empires. It was such a moment now with Kevork; and it ought to have been
such a moment with John Grayson, only, for him, it was love itself that
hung suspended in the balance of fate.

Fate, for the time, seemed to have turned against him. The ride from
Biridjik to Urfa had been done at headlong speed, and he had not reached
his destination until it was almost noon, and the sun's heat absolutely
overpowering. He thought his miserable sensations afterwards were only
the result of fatigue, and kept up bravely until the coming of Kevork,
when he had to own to overpowering headache, and feverish alternations
of heat and cold. He just managed somehow to write a letter to the
Consul, which he asked the Vartonians to get Miss Celandine to forward
for him, if she could. Then he yielded to destiny. For eight days he
tossed in fever, with Kevork as his special nurse, his kind hosts also
giving him every care and attention in their power.

Once the fever left him however, he recovered rapidly, his good
constitution, strengthened by a simple and healthy life, coming to his
aid. As soon as he was able to be about again, he said he would go to
the Mission House, and ask Miss Celandine if she had any tidings for
him. As he spoke, he was standing near one of the few windows of the
Vartonian House which looked out upon the street. Something he saw there
made him break off suddenly, pause a moment, then utter an exclamation
of pity and horror.

"What is it?" asked Kevork, coming to the window, followed by Barkev,
and two of the ladies of the house, who chanced to be present.

Along the street passed slowly, by twos and threes, in a straggling
procession, some of the most miserable creatures the eye of man has ever
looked upon. Gaunt, half famished, with limbs reduced to skin and bone,
or else swollen out of all shape by disease, they walked on with uneven,
tottering footsteps. All were in filthy, ragged garments; some had rags
clotted with blood tied about their heads or their arms, others limped
along with the aid of sticks. Just under the window a woman dropped in
the street, and lay as one dead. The man who was walking beside her
stood and looked, without doing anything to help. How could he? Both his
hands were gone.

The three young men ran to the street together. Jack proved the
quickest, and was already kneeling on the ground and trying to raise the
poor woman when the others came up. "It is no use," said the man beside
her in a dreary, almost indifferent, tone. "She is dead."

"I don't know that," said Jack. "Give her air, for heaven's sake.
Kevork, keep back the others. Barkev, you could fetch us some cordial."

It was not so easy to obey him; for those before had stopped, while
those behind came crowding up, and with the strangers a few Armenians of
the town. One of these pushed through the rest with an air of authority.
"Make way, good people," he said; "I am a doctor."

He did not seem a very prosperous member of the fraternity, to judge by
his dress; but then he was young, and had the world before him. He felt
the woman's pulse and her heart, and said presently, "She is not dead;
but she soon will be unless she gets proper care and nourishment. Who
will help me to carry her into my dispensary close by?"

Jack volunteered, quite forgetting his recent illness; but Barkev raised
an objection. "Better bring her to the Mission House," he said. "Miss
Celandine has food and medicine, and will take good care of her."

"Miss Celandine will have her hands full. Besides, my place is near.
Yes, sir, take her feet,"--he nodded to Jack. "I'll manage the rest.
This way, please."

"You are a good fellow, Melkon Effendi, and I believe you are right,"
said Barkev, his attention claimed by another of the miserable group,
who was begging in God's name for a bit of bread, as they had eaten
nothing for several days but grass and roots.

Jack helped Melkon to lay his patient on the surgery table, and watched
his efforts to restore animation. "Who are they?" he asked.

The young doctor answered in broken phrases without stopping his work.
"From one of the villages--Rhoumkali--fugitives--there has been a
massacre--wholesale--of our people--by Turks and Kourds."

"Horrible!"

"Horrible? If you had seen the Sassoun refugees when they came here last
winter, you might talk of horror. I believe the young Mission lady, Miss
Fairchild, sacrificed her life to them."

Miss Fairchild, Shushan's friend! "Is she dead then?" Jack asked
anxiously.

"They sent her away still hanging between life and death, and we know
not yet which will conquer. But, as for massacres--to-day there,
to-morrow here."

"Not _here_, in a great city like this--not here surely," Jack said.
"But the villages, the little towns like Biridjik, for them one's heart
trembles," he added, his thoughts flying to Shushan.

"She is coming to," said Melkon cheerfully, the duty of the moment
shutting out the terrors of the future.

"Well, my lad, what do _you_ want?"--this to a youth who appeared in the
doorway. "Oh, I see; you are one of Baron Thomassian's people, and come
just in time to fetch what I want. I am out of these drugs," and he
handed him a list.

"You shall have them, Melkon Effendi," said the young man. "But my
business now is with the other gentleman. I have just met Baron Barkev
Vartonian, who told me I should find him here."

"With _me_?" said Jack, a little excited; for what possible business
could Thomassian have with him, except to give him a letter from
England; or, at least, a letter or a message from the Consul?

"With you, sir. My master salutes you with all respect, and begs of you
to honour his poor dwelling with a visit, and to drink his black
coffee."

Still under the same impression, and with bright visions floating before
him of bringing his young bride in triumph to England, Jack only waited
to see the poor woman fully restored to consciousness, and to give
Melkon a little money to supply her immediate necessities. He then
accompanied the youth to the house of Thomassian, leaving a message on
his way for the Vartonians, to say whither he had gone.

He was rewarded with the first specimen of genuine Oriental wealth and
splendour he had seen in Armenia. He had thought the house of the
Vartonians a model of luxury, but this was a fairy palace! Muggurditch
Thomassian himself, in a faultless European costume, met him at the
door. He had heard nothing of his illness, which was not surprising, as
he seldom saw his kinsfolk the Vartonians. He explained that he had
taken the freedom of asking him to visit him at the earnest request of
his wife, who had a great desire to see an Englishman once more. "She is
from Constantinople," he said a little proudly. "There she used to have
much intercourse with the Franks, and especially with the English, whom
she greatly esteems." Then he led his visitor across the spacious marble
court, with its beautiful fountain in the midst, its bushes laden with
fragrant roses, its flowers of many kinds and hues. Some of them, which
were rare and newly brought to the country, he pointed out to the
Englishman.

Jack admired them duly, and expressed the satisfaction he would have in
waiting on "the Madam"; but, the claims of courtesy thus fulfilled, he
could not help adding, "I hoped you might have a letter to give me from
my friends in England, or at least a communication from the Consul."

"Have you had, yourself, no answer to your letter, Effendi?" Thomassian
asked, as he stopped to gather for his guest some roses he had
particularly admired.

"None whatever."

"Djanum!" (my soul! a common exclamation) "Then I fear it must have gone
astray in the post. You know how often, unfortunately, that happens
here."

"But the Consul?" Jack asked eagerly; "you spoke to him, did you not?"

"He was absent when I went to Aleppo," Thomassian answered. "I wrote to
him about your matters; but I fear that letter may have miscarried, like
the other one."

"That Consul is always _somewhere else_," Jack thought despairingly, as
he took off his shoes at the beautifully carved and polished door that
led to the apartment of the ladies. He found himself, on entering, in a
large room heavy with perfume. Silken hangings, richly embroidered,
adorned the walls. Silk and satin cushions of all colours, often heavy
with gold and silver, lay about in profusion. The only other furniture
the room contained was the long satin-covered divan which occupied one
side of it, and upon which there half sat and half reclined a very
handsome lady. Her dress was of the costliest materials, and of a
fashion partly Eastern and partly European. Jack made the usual
compliments in his best style; and was invited to sit upon luxurious
cushions, and by-and-by to partake of choice coffee, sherbet and
sweetmeats, which were handed to him on silver trays by pretty,
dark-eyed girls in silk zebouns and jackets. Meanwhile his host
entertained him with what he could not help calling, in his disappointed
soul, vapid and uninteresting commonplaces, the lady putting in now and
then a languid but courteous word or two. His heart full of his own
perplexities and of what he had just seen of the wretched fugitives
from Rhoumkali, he began a question about the massacres there, but his
host, with a warning glance directed towards his wife, turned the
conversation immediately. Jack could understand his not wishing to alarm
her, or to wring her heart with terrible details; especially as she did
not look very strong.

But the time seemed long to him; and as soon as he thought it consistent
with good manners, he rose to take his leave.

The lady called one of her attendants, and gave her a brief direction.
The girl left the room, and speedily returned, bearing a pretty
card-board box about a foot square, covered with coloured straw wrought
in patterns. "Will you do me a kindness, Mr. Grayson?" said "the Madam."
"Will you take charge of this box of Turkish sweetmeats from
Constantinople, and present it, with my salutations, to the little
Vartonians, the cousins of my husband? But, I pray you, take toll of it
in passing. Open the box, and eat the first sweetmeat yourself." As she
said this her dark eyes, for one instant, met and _fixed_ the English
blue eyes of Jack Grayson; the next, she was bidding him good-bye with
perfect Eastern courtesy, just touched with the dignified nonchalance of
the typical fine lady.

When Jack was once more alone with Thomassian, he spoke again of the
horrors of Rhoumkali. Thomassian shrugged his shoulders. "It is very
dreadful," he said.

"Can nothing be done?"

"_Nothing_, Mr. Grayson. Foolish people, who run about talking of things
they do not understand, only get themselves and other men into trouble.
Here is what happens many a time--there is some wild talk going of help
from England, or some such nonsense, and on the strength of it some
hot-headed fellow kills a Kourd, or resists a zaptieh, and then all hell
is let loose upon us."

"But if the zaptieh is torturing his father for not paying a tax he does
not owe, or giving up a rifle he has not got? Or, if the Kourd is
taking--well, you know what I mean; the word chokes me," said Jack,
thinking of Shushan.

"Let be! let be! 'Speech is silver, silence is golden.' 'The heart of
the fool is in his tongue, the tongue of the wise man is in his
heart.'--Mr. Grayson, I thank you for honouring me with a visit. I beg
of you to salute my cousins in my name. I hope old Father Hagop's cough
is not so troublesome now? And how is the little one? Does he begin to
walk yet? I hope to have the pleasure of visiting them very shortly, but
business is pressing just now." With such talk as this he led Jack once
more to the outer door; and he, as he took his final leave, remembered
an English word which he had hardly thought of since he left the shores
of his native land. He confessed himself decidedly "bored."

As soon as he got home, he opened the box of sweetmeats and looked
anxiously for what the giver might mean by the "first." Each of the
dainty morsels was wrapped up separately in thin paper; but one of them
looked, on close inspection, as if the paper had been removed, and then
carefully replaced. He took it off, and found--traced upon it in very
fine, faint handwriting--the following words:

"MR. JOHN GRAYSON.--Shushan is in danger. The chief wife of Mehmed
Ibrahim is my friend. She does not wish Shushan to be found. She tells
me Mehmed has discovered the name of the village where she is, and will
set on the Kourds to attack it, and to make her a prisoner. There is no
safe place for her, except the house of the American missionaries
here--if only you can bring her to it secretly, in some disguise--for
the Turks do not dare to enter it. I may not write to the Mission ladies
myself, as my husband forbids me to have any communication with them,
therefore I write to you. You will know what to do. God bless
you.--YEVNEGA THOMASSIAN."



Chapter X

AN ARMENIAN WEDDING

     "'Till death us part'--oh, words to be
         Our best for love the deathless."

     --_E. B. Browning._


At Biridjik, in the house of Hohannes Meneshian, and in the very room
where John Grayson had caught his first glimpse of Armenian domestic
life, two women sat at work. Mariam, looking old and careworn, was
behind her wheel as usual; Shushan was bending over her beautiful
embroidery. The room looked much barer than in the olden days, most of
the curtains and rugs had disappeared, and there was no sign of any
cooking in progress. This mattered the less however since grapes were in
season now, and a basket of great, luscious clusters lay in the corner,
destined to form, with rye bread, the evening meal of the family.

The villagers with whom Shushan had been staying had brought her home
the day before. She was no longer safe with them. A Kourd, who had
shown them a little friendliness, and to whom they had given backsheesh,
had called to one of their men over the wall of the vineyard where he
was working, "Take care! you have got a lily our sheikh wants to
gather." So they acted on the hint. Shushan was once more with her
kindred, and in the place of her birth. But little joy had she, or they,
in the meeting.

Her presence was a danger to her friends. She was hunted from place to
place, like a partridge the dogs start from its cover that it may fall
by the gun of the sportsman. Happy partridge, that would fall at once,
gasp its little life out on the grass, and rest! No such rest for the
Moslem's victim!

More than once indeed, across the sad texture of Shushan's life, there
had shot a gleam of gold. She had been a happy girl in Urfa, when she
went with her cousins to the Mission school, and learned beautiful
things from the dear foreign ladies there. Afterwards in Biridjik, for a
little while, she had been still happier, though with a different kind
of happiness. The brave, strong, splendid English youth had come into
her life and transfigured it. He had saved her from the savage dogs; he
had done a still more wonderful thing than that. He had come to her help
in her direst need, choosing her, claiming her for his own. Her heart
throbbed yet with the fearful rapture of that day, the wonder-day of
her short life--the day of her betrothal.

But now Yon Effendi was gone from her. All her joy seemed to have melted
from her like the snow on the mountains, like the dreams of the night.
It had left instead a yearning, painful in its sweetness, an "aching,
unsatisfied longing," for him who was its core and its centre. Yon
Effendi was gone; but Mehmed Ibrahim, whom she had never seen, yet
regarded with unutterable dread and loathing, seemed by his agents and
instruments to be ever present, all around her, pressing her in on every
side. She feared death far less than she feared him; but she was not yet
quite sixteen, and since she had known Yon Effendi, she would have liked
to live.

The well-taught pupil of the Mission school thought more clearly and
felt more keenly than her simple-hearted mother, who had never had her
chances; but the more capacious vessel only held in larger measure the
bitter wine of pain. She had once or twice to turn her head aside, lest
her tears should fall upon the work she was doing and spoil it.

"Mother," she said at last, "I think, if God willed it, it were better I
should die. There seems no place in the world for me."

"Child, it is wrong to speak so," Mariam answered. "We must live in the
world as long as God pleases. To go out of it by our own act were a
sin."

"Except it were to avoid a sin," said Shushan gravely, raising her sad
eyes to her mother's.

Both were silent for a moment. Then the mother spoke again.

"Daughter, before you went away you used to tell me the good words you
learned in the school. I liked them, and they often came back to me when
I was anxious and frightened. You remember how sore afraid I was that
day the zaptiehs came for the taxes? Thy father had Gabriel's tax and
Hagop's all right, but he thought Kevork's would be paid in Aintab, and
never thought of getting ready to pay it here. But they demanded it all
the same, and I thought--'Now surely they will beat or torture him or
your grandfather, because we have it not.' But I remembered that word
you told me from the letter of the holy St. Peter, 'Casting all your
care upon Him, for He careth for you.' So I said, 'Jesus, help us!' with
all my heart,--and He did. For though they found and took away all our
rice, they never saw the barley, or the bulghour, so we have that to
live upon. And they went away content."

Shushan put a few stitches in her embroidery before she answered. She
was working, with crimson silk, the deep red heart of a rose. Richly the
colours glowed beneath the skilful touch of her slight brown fingers,
but out of her own life all the colour seemed to have gone. And now it
was the strong that failed, and leaned upon the weaker for support; it
was the better taught that turned wistfully to the simpler for words of
cheer.

"Oh, my mother," she said, "my heart is weary, my heart is sad!
Sometimes even it asks of me, and gets no answer: 'Does He care for us
Armenians?"

Does He care for Armenians? Not only from the trampled land herself has
that cry gone up in the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth,--from many a quiet
home in countries far away, wherever the tale of her woes has come, it
has echoed and re-echoed. "Strong spirits have wrestled over it with
God" in the silent watches of the night, even until the breaking of the
day; "tender spirits have borne it as a terrible and undefined secret
anguish." Is there any answer, _yet_, except this one, "What I do thou
knowest not now, but thou shalt know hereafter"?

Mariam had no wise words of comfort to give her child; but she had the
mother's secret of love, which so often is better than wisdom. She
folded Shushan tenderly in her arms and kissed her. Then the girl
recovered a little.

"I ought not to talk so to you, mother," she said. "We know He does
care."

"Amaan! God is good," Mariam said. "He cares for every one; even, I
suppose, for the Turks."

There was a silence during which Mariam resumed her spinning, and
Shushan her embroidery.

"I am not easy about the grandfather," Mariam said presently. "I wish we
could get him to eat a little more. Since the fright about thee, and the
loss of his flocks and herds, he has scarcely been his own man. And that
last visit of the zaptiehs did him no good--What is that noise in the
court? Some one has come."

The whirr of the spinning wheel ceased, and Shushan dropped her work,
growing very pale. Neither thought of going forth to see, for neither
expected any good thing to come to them. Shushan would have hidden
herself, but there did not seem time; so they sat in silence, listening
to a confused Babel of sounds outside. But presently both cried at
once,--

"The voice of Kevork, my son."

"The voice of Yon Effendi, my betrothed."

"Cover yourself, my daughter," said Mariam hastily. And Shushan veiled
her face, and sat still where she was, while the mother went forth to
welcome her son, whom she had not seen for more than eighteen months.

That night, for once, the voice of joy and thankfulness was heard in the
house of Hohannes Meneshian.

Jack had taken Kevork into council over the communication made to him by
the wife of Thomassian. The two young men had agreed that no time was to
be lost in returning to Biridjik and bringing Shushan back with them to
Urfa, even if they had to disguise her for the purpose as a boy.
Thinking the knowledge of their plan might imperil the Vartonians, they
did not tell them of it. They told no one in fact except Miss Celandine,
whose promise to receive and shelter Shushan was readily given.

Jack went to Muggurditch Thomassian, and asked him to lend him a sum of
money. To this the merchant made no objection, for he felt certain the
young Englishman would eventually have funds at his command. Jack gave
him a written acknowledgment and promised him good interest, requesting
him at the same time not to mention the matter to the Vartonians, who
might be hurt at his not applying to them in the first instance. There
was indeed little danger of his doing so, for the cousins, at the time,
were not upon friendly terms. The Vartonians, like other Armenians,
rich and poor, had contributed liberally to the needs of the unfortunate
fugitives from Rhoumkali, even taking some of them into their house.
They were indignant with their wealthy kinsman, who had given a handsome
subscription to the cause, but seemed to be recouping himself by heavy
charges upon the drugs and medicines supplied to the sufferers; and the
younger members of the family expressed very freely their opinion of his
conduct.

With part of Thomassian's money Jack bought Kourdish dresses for himself
and for Kevork, and also a smaller one, fit for a boy of about fourteen.
He had still the good horses upon which he and Gabriel had ridden to
Urfa. After a sharp conflict with himself, he decided not to wait for
the Consul's communication. Shushan could be still his betrothed; as
such he and Kevork could bring her to Urfa, and place her under Miss
Celandine's protection. The marriage could take place afterwards.

However, to his great delight, just as they were starting, the necessary
papers arrived. Miss Celandine's influence had obtained them, and she
also procured for the travellers a zaptieh to guard them on their
journey. They took an affectionate farewell of the Vartonians, whom they
told simply that they were returning to Biridjik, and of Gabriel, now
an ardent and delighted pupil in the Missionary School.

Their journey to Biridjik was without adventure. On the way they agreed
together that they would not say much to their friends about the
massacres. But the precaution was a needless one, for already they knew
enough.

As it was September and very hot, they travelled by night, arriving in
Biridjik on the morning of the second day. The remaining hours were
given up to talk, to rest, and to making arrangements for the future.

In spite of all the dangers that surrounded them, Kevork could not be
unhappy as he sat with his mother's hand in his, his father looking on
with interest, and his brother Hagop with adoring admiration, while he
told of his wonderful eighteen months in the Missionary School at
Aintab. And if the name of Elmas Stepanian slipped sometimes into his
story, was there anything wrong in that? Did he not see her every Sunday
in church, and did he not hear of her splendid answering at the
examinations, and of the prizes she gained? Had not his teacher told him
and the other youths about it, that they might be stirred to emulation
by the grand achievements of the girls?

For Jack there were even sweeter joys that day. It is true that he was
only permitted to see Shushan veiled, and in the company of her mother,
or of some of the other women. Still, he could whisper a few words of
cheer about the home they hoped to have by-and-by in free, happy
England. And when she murmured doubtfully, "But my people, Yon Effendi?"
he said the whole household must follow them to England. There Kevork
could find a career, the younger boys an education, and all of them
peace and safety, and bread enough and to spare. It is true the
difficulties in the way of these arrangements would have seemed to him,
in his sober moments, almost insurmountable; but in certain moods of
mind we take small account of difficulties.

There was much to be done that day in arranging for the wedding, which
all agreed should take place the next morning. According to custom, Jack
ought to have provided the dress of the bride; but this, under the
circumstances, he could not do. Avedis however came to him privately,
bringing a beautiful robe of blue satin with long sleeves, trimmed with
gold embroidery. "You know," he said, "I was to have married Alà
Krikorian. Sometimes I think it was well she died, for she has escaped
the woes that are coming on our people. But I had the bridal robe all
ready; and I shall never marry any one else. Take it as my gift to you;
give it yourself to Shushan; and God bless you both."

His own best garments Jack laid ready, with care, for the morning.
Rising very early, he put on his ordinary clothes, and went forth to
meet Der Garabed, who came by appointment to bless the bridegroom's
apparel. This ceremony accomplished, Jack arrayed himself for the
wedding, and, with Hohannes and the other men of the family, went to the
church. He sat in his own place on the men's side, Shushan coming in
afterwards with her mother and other female relatives, and sitting among
the women. The service proceeded as usual, until, at the appointed time,
Jack, with a beating heart, stepped out of his place, and came and stood
before the altar. Shushan also was led to the spot, and stood there
beside him. Neither dared to look up.

Der Garabed read from the Holy Book of the first bridal in Paradise; and
again, from its later pages, of how Christian wives and husbands ought
to love and cherish one another. Then, as they turned and stood face to
face, each for one instant looked into the other's eyes, and read there
the secret of the love that is more strong than death. They had to clasp
hands, and to bow their heads until each forehead touched the other.
Old Hohannes took a cross from the hand of the priest, and, his own
trembling with many emotions, laid it on the two bowed heads. The priest
recited a few prayers, and put the solemn questions that the ritual of
every Christian Church prescribes. Then, raising their bowed heads they
stood together, with the right, before God and man, to stand together
until death should part them. The psalm was sung, and the benediction
given; and John Grayson led forth his Lily--all his at last. There was
deep, solemn gladness in his heart; he felt as if, in the expressive
Scottish phrase, "his weird was won."

Peril might be behind them, before them, all around them, yet this one
hour must be given to joy. It is true he had no mother to "crown him in
the day of his espousals," no father to breathe the blessing his filial
heart missed so sorely. Still he believed in blessing, Divine and human.
His faith was strong, his hope was high. He thought it would be no hard
task to bring his bride in safety to his English home--and hers. Once
there, they could both work together for the deliverance of her
people--"_our_ people" was what John Grayson thought, with a throb of
joy, of sympathy, and--is it strange to say it?--of _pride_.



Chapter XI

AN ADVENTUROUS RIDE

     "What if we still ride on, we two,
     With life for ever old yet new,
     Changed not in kind but in degree,
     The instant made eternity."

     --_R. Browning._


About noon Kevork came to Jack with a pale, anxious face. "You see the
state men's minds are in here?" he said.

"It is only too easy to see," Jack answered.

"Did you notice the scared faces in church?" Kevork went on. "There is
nothing talked of here among our own people but death and massacre; and
among the Turks, but how they are going to kill us and take all we have.
And our own house is in the greatest danger of all. My uncle and the
rest are afraid we will be held accountable for Shushan; and Heaven
knows what the Turks will do to us when they find she is gone. In a
word, they are all saying that if you go to Urfa and take her with you,
the whole household must go too. They think they will be safer there,
lost in a crowd."

"But are they not afraid of coming so near Mehmed Ibrahim?"

"They think that very nearness will save them. He will never think of
looking for them at his own door. One and all, at least, are quite
determined to go, except perhaps my grandfather, who is rather passive
about it, and my father, who is doubtful. Still they do not oppose the
rest. My grandfather says 'Heaven is as near in Urfa as in Biridjik.'"

"Very good," said Jack, "but then, can they go to-night?"

"To-night!" exclaimed Kevork. "Heaven bless you! It will take them a
fortnight or three weeks to get ready; they must do it all quietly, you
know, for fear of the Turks."

"Then, look here, Kevork," Jack said, with a determined air, "I am not
going to leave Shushan in this place another day; the rest may follow as
they like."

"You are right," Kevork answered. "But as for me, I must stay. Think of
it! here are three-and-twenty souls, for the most part women and
children, to be brought to Urfa; and not one of them has been twenty
miles from home before--not even my Uncle Avedis, who is so shrewd and
clever. And then we shall have to make all our preparations, and to sell
off everything we can, but with the greatest secrecy, lest the Turks
should find out and stop us. Yes, I must stay. You shall take the
horses."

Jack nodded. "We must start at midnight," he said. "I am going now to
arrange matters, and to tell the women."

He went, and was fortunate enough to find Shushan for the moment alone.
He held in his hand a large bundle, which he laid on the ground beside
her. "My Shushan," he said, taking her hand tenderly, "I know you trust
me utterly. I am going to ask you for a proof of it."

She looked up at him, and her eyes said for her, "But prove me what it
is I will not do."

"Dearest, put on this clothing I have brought, kiss your father and your
mother, and be ready at midnight to ride with me to Urfa."

She looked at the garments, as he unfolded them, with an involuntary
shudder. "They are Kourdish clothes," she said.

Jack smiled. "At least they are clean," he answered. "They have never
been worn. And there is no law, that I know of, against sheep in wolves'
clothing."

"Oh, but all want to go, father, and mother, and Hagop--all of us."

"They shall follow us, my Shushan."

"But to leave them in such peril! And, Yon Effendi, it is I who have
brought it on them."

"Not altogether, my beloved. Now it is not one here and there who is
persecuted; the danger threatens your whole race--_our_ race," he said,
with a sudden throb of the passionate, pitying love that was springing
up in his heart for the people of his adoption. "Without you," he added,
"their danger certainly will be less. And if God wills, we will all meet
again, in Urfa."

"I will do what you tell me,--my husband," Shushan said, and the words,
if low, were quite steady. The whole trust of her simple heart was his;
and although tender, modest, refined, it was still a hot, impulsive
Eastern heart.

At midnight a group assembled in the courtyard of the Meneshians house.
There was no moon,--all the better for their purpose; but from the
cloudless sky the great, beautiful stars shone down upon them. Avedis
brought out a lantern, which showed two strange figures. In the midst
stood a young Kourdish warrior, his head protected by a gay "kafieh" of
yellow silk, bound about it with rolls of wool, and having the front
thrown back to reveal the face, which was nearly as dark as a mulatto's.
His zeboun was of bright scarlet, and it boasted, instead of a skirt,
four separate tails, or aprons, which showed beneath them Turkish
trousers of crude and staring blue, while a crimson belt contained the
perilous revolver, its two available barrels loaded. It was not
necessary now to conceal it, for it was part of the equipment.

A Kourdish boy, attired in similar fashion, and with face and hands yet
more carefully blackened, clung to the breast of Mariam, as if they
could never part.

"Come, my daughter," Boghos said at last; "the moments are precious."

"'Tis not as if the parting were a long one," Kevork said cheerfully. "A
few weeks, at most, and we follow you to Urfa."

"As we stand now," old Hohannes said solemnly, "_every_ parting may be
as long as life, or death; but we Christians are not afraid of death.
Shushan, my Lily, in Christ's name I bless thee, and bid thee
God-speed."

Shushan had been given into his arms by her mother, and now her father
stood waiting for the last embrace. As he gave it with tear-dimmed eyes,
Jack turned to Hohannes; "You have been as a father to me," he said.
"Bless me also, as a son."

In a broken voice, the old Armenian spoke the words of blessing. The
Englishman bowed his young head in reverence, then shook hands with the
others, and turned to lift into her saddle the shrinking girl in her
boy's attire. Next, he sprang lightly upon his own horse, which Kevork
was holding for him. "Good-bye, _brother_," he said, stooping down to
wring his hand.

Slowly and silently they moved along, the good horses climbing the
terraces that led out of the town. A bribe,--cleverly administered
beforehand by Hohannes, who had a life-long practice in these
matters,--opened to them the ancient gate of Biridjik, and they found
themselves in the road outside.

"Softly, softly," Jack whispered, stroking the neck of his steed, who
seemed quite to understand him. He wondered if, in this strange country,
even the dumb creatures learned to accommodate themselves to the
exigencies of a hunted life. Both their horses might almost have been
shod with felt, for all the noise they made.

When the terraces and gardens were left behind, a running stream or two
had to be crossed, and they found themselves beside the ancient
reservoir which supplied the town with water. After passing this, they
came to a place where three roads met, and where a Turkish guard was
always stationed. This was a serious danger; he might demand their
passports, and they had none.

"What shall we do if he does?" Shushan whispered. Jack pointed to his
purse. But, happily, the Turk gave them no trouble, being fast asleep in
his little booth by the roadside.

When they got into the open country, their road lay over rocks, which
rang to the feet of their horses. At first the sound almost scared them,
used as they were to fear. But for the present, in all the wide
landscape, there was no one to hear, and nothing to dread.

They rode out into the still night--no mist, no dew, the stars flashing
down, the great planets bright enough to cast perceptible shadows. The
brilliant, shimmering starlight lent the campaign a beauty not its own;
there was a kind of glamour over everything. Jack's spirits rose with
the sense of freedom and solitude. He and Shushan put their horses at
full speed, and they seemed to be flying through the clear still
air,--not cold, but cool enough after the hot day to be refreshing.

"Are you frightened, love? Are we going too fast for you?" he asked,
hearing a little sigh, and slackening his pace accordingly.

"No; but I never rode like this before. When Cousin Thomassian brought
me to Biridjik, it was "_Jevash!_ _Jevash!_" (a Turkish word, which may
be rendered in English, "Take it easy").

"Do you like it, my Lily?"

"I like it well," she answered, breathless but rejoicing. "Go on fast
again; I like it well."

Did Jack like it? There was a light in his eye, a bounding rapture in
his every vein, as they flew along, alone with each other in that
desolate waste, which to them was as the Garden of Eden.

After a while they drew rein again, that they might talk. "They tell
me"--Jack spoke dreamily, out of a depth of half-realized delight--"they
tell me the Garden of Eden was _here_, in this land of yours."

"So our fathers say," Shushan answered. "And it is lovely enough, at
least in spring, when the flowers are out. If only we were not
afraid,--always."

"That was what struck me," Jack said, "when, after my long illness, I
began to get strong, and to notice what went on about me. Always, over
every one, there seemed to hang the shadow of a great fear."

"But I suppose, in your England also, there are sin and sorrow."

"A great deal of both, my Lily. But in England law is _against_
wickedness and cruelty, and stops them if it can. Then there is the same
law in England for all. There are not two kinds of people, one booted
and spurred to ride, and the other bridled and saddled to be ridden. It
took me a good while to understand that was the case here, and I was
among the bridled and saddled."

"Because you were not born here. You know, Yon Effendi, we always
_expect_ to suffer, because we are Christians. Ever since I can
remember, every one was afraid--afraid of the Turks in the street,
afraid of the Kamaikan, afraid of the zaptiehs, afraid of the Kourds.
Kevork and I were great companions, but I do not think we played much.
Sometimes I played with the little ones, but I liked better to help my
mother, or to hear the talk of the elders. Then came the dreadful time
when Mehmed Ibrahim, our Kamaikan----"

"Don't talk of it! You shall never see his face again, my Shushan."

"I never have seen it, to my knowledge. I was only ten years old."

"When a little English girl would still be playing with her doll, as my
cousins used to do. Poor child!"

"My childhood ended then. They sent me to Urfa, with some merchants from
our town, who were going there. Oh, I was happy there! I had the school,
and the dear foreign ladies, and my cousins the Vartonians, and, above
all, Elmas Stepanian."

"Do you know, my Lily, that Kevork loves Elmas, just a little bit in the
way I love you?"

"How could he help it?" Shushan said, and smiled quietly. "In the
school," she went on, "I learned many things about the Bible, and about
our dear Lord, that I did not know before, though I think I always loved
Him. They helped me to understand why all the troubles came to us. Has
He not said, 'In the world ye shall have tribulation'? But He has said
also, 'I am with you always.' If one is true, so must the other be."

"Yes," said Jack thoughtfully, "I think I can believe it now."

"It all seemed so real in the happy years at school; and afterwards,
when I first came back to Biridjik, I felt as if all day long He was
close by me; and then all the fear went out of my heart. There was no
room for it when He was there."

Jack was silent. He feared God, prayed to Him devoutly, and desired
sincerely to do His Will; but this experience of His personal presence
and nearness was beyond him as yet.

"But I could not help seeing how things went on about me," Shushan
resumed. "And for a year and more we have been hearing of worse things
yet. I did not talk of them, for what was the use of frightening
everybody? We could do nothing; we were helpless. But they sank into my
heart. Then the horror--about Mehmed Ibrahim--came again. I began to
think God had forsaken us. Do you know the sad things about that in the
Psalms? They seem just written for us. 'But now Thou art far off, and
puttest us to confusion ... so that they that hate us spoil our goods.
Thou lettest us be eaten up like sheep, Thou sellest Thy people for
nought, and takest no money for them. Thou makest us to be rebuked of
our neighbours, to be laughed to scorn, and had in derision of them that
are round about us. For Thy sake also we are killed all the day long,
and are counted as sheep appointed to be slain.'"

"Oh, Shushan, stop! It is too sad."

"Only one word more. 'Up, Lord, why sleepest Thou? Awake, and be not
absent from us for ever. Wherefore hidest Thou Thy face, and forgettest
our misery and trouble?' That was what I feared--that He forgot--that He
did not care." Shushan's head bent low. Jack stretched his hand out to
touch hers; she raised her head, and turning her face to his in the dim
light, said, "He did not forget _me_, He sent me you. And it is not
likely He has remembered Shushan Meneshian, and forgotten all the rest."

In talk like this, passing gradually into lighter topics, they rode
along, now fast, now slow. Shushan, little accustomed to riding (save to
the vineyard on a donkey), grew very tired, though she would not have
confessed it for worlds. They had a mountain gorge to go through, where
the narrow path, only wide enough for one, winds along the mountain
side, a slope above, a deeper slope--almost a precipice--beneath. One
false step, and the unlucky traveller would lie, a mangled corpse, in
the rocky gulf below. They had only starlight to guide them, and the
mountain on the other side increased the obscurity.

"Trust your horse, my Shushan," Jack said. "Horse sense is better here
than ours."

Shushan did so; and though she trembled, no cry, no word of fear, passed
her lips. Only she murmured the favourite prayer of her people, "Hesoos
okné menk"--Jesus, help us.

Her prayer was heard: they emerged safely from the perilous gorge. Then
presently, in the soft starlight, there fell upon their ears a perfect
burst of song--sweet, liquid notes, rising and falling in thrills and
gushes of delicious melody that seemed to fill the air around them. "The
nightingale!" Shushan whispered; "Listen, oh, listen!"

Hitherto, not a tree had relieved the monotony of the waste and dreary
path, which indeed was rather a mule track than a road. Now they were
drawing near a couple of stunted thorn-bushes, one of which gave a
shelter to the sweet songster.

"There is a well here," Jack said. "Kevork tells me travellers always
rest and sup--or breakfast as the case may be--beside it. Ah, there it
is!"

He sprang from his horse, and helped Shushan down from hers. Then he
spread the saddle cloths beneath her on the ground, and took from the
small bag strapped beside him on the horse the viands it
contained--bread, white delicious cheese in small squares, apples,
pears, and peaches. He had with him his father's little flask and cup,
one of the few things that had escaped the rapacity of the Syrians; and
they needed no better beverage than the cold, pure water with which the
well supplied them. Very happily they ate and drank together in the
starlight.

Shushan refused the last peach, saying, "No more, I thank you, Yon
Effendi."

"My Lily must not call me that again. English wives do not speak so to
their husbands. '_Mr. John!_' how odd it would sound!"

"I think it has a very pleasant sound--_Mis-ter John_."

"No, dearest, you must call me, as my father used--_Jack_."

"Shack? Oh, that is so short, so little of a name for a great, tall
Effendi like you!"

"But I love it best, Shushan. And I will love it, oh, so much better!
when I hear it from _your_ lips."

"Now I will say it--Shack."

"Not 'Shack'--_Jack_, like _John_, which you say quite right."

"I will say that quite right too. Don't you think we ought to ride on,
Shack?"

"Not 'Shack'--those naughty lips of yours, Shushan, must pay me a fine
when they miscall me so."

He exacted the fine promptly, saying, "I have the right, you know."

Nevertheless Shushan adhered to the name of "Shack," which she softened
until it sounded like the French "Jacques." Evidently she thought the
harsher sound uncouth, if not disrespectful.

"But don't you think we ought to ride on?" she resumed.

"Presently. In three or four hours we shall come to that queer little
village with the black, egg-shaped mud huts--Charmelik, that is the
name. The people are Kourds, and will want to talk to us. What shall we
do? You do not know Kourdish, any more than I."

"No; but I know Turkish. Some Kourdish tribes speak Turkish, and we can
give them to understand we come from one of these. I will talk for us
both," said Shushan, whose courage was rising to meet the exigencies of
her life. Jack, as yet, knew only the few words of Turkish he could not
fail to pick up in a town partly inhabited by Turks, like Biridjik.

"They will think that odd," he said, "unless I were deaf and dumb."

"_Be_ deaf and dumb then," she answered, after a thoughtful pause. "You
are going to Urfa, to be cured by a wise Frank hakim there; and I, your
young brother, go with you, to be ears and tongue to you."

"A splendid notion!" Jack said. It was not the first time he had had
occasion to admire the Armenian quickness of resource, and dexterity in
eluding danger. These were nature's weapons of defence, developed by
environment, and the survival of the fittest. Yet they had their own
perils. Does the world recognise how hard--nay, how impossible--it is
for oppressed and persecuted races to be absolutely truthful?

Just as they rode on, the glorious sun shot up with tropical splendour
and tropical swiftness. It was late September now; the heat was still
great, and the travellers were not sorry when at last they saw in the
distance the black huts of Charmelik, the walls of the khan, and the
minaret of the little mosque. Shushan, in spite of her fatigue, seemed
to have changed places with Jack. She planned and exhorted; he listened
to her meekly. For fighting, the Englishman comes to the front; for
feigning, the Armenian. "Now, I pray of you, Yon Effendi--that is,
Shack--remember, you are not to speak; and also, which is harder, you
are not to _hear_--not if a pistol goes off close to your head. You may
talk to me by signs, or on your fingers."

Jack gave his promise; and, as both their lives depended on it, he was
likely to keep it. At first they thought the khan might be safer to stay
in than the huts, but a caravan from Urfa had just stopped there, and
both the open enclosure and the rooms round it (if rooms they may be
called) were quite full. Moreover, the Kourds of the village came about
them with welcomes and questions and offers of hospitality. So Jack
gathered from their looks and gestures. He stood among them, gazing
about him with as vacant an expression of face as he could manage to
assume, only praying they might not be rough with Shushan, for such a
set of wild-looking savages, as he thought, he had never seen before;
although, of course, since coming to the country, he had seen many
Kourds.

After a while Shushan touched him, and motioned to him to come with her.
One of the Kourds led them to a hut; and, as it appeared by his looks
and gestures, invited them to consider it their own mansion, with the
same magnificent air with which a Spanish grandee might have said, "This
is your own house, señor."

As soon as he had attended to their horses and brought in the saddle
cloths, Jack surveyed the miserable hovel--some twelve feet in diameter,
and with no furniture save a couple of dirty mats and cushions--and
wished with all his heart for a decent English pig-stye!

"You _must_ get a sleep, Shushan," he said aloud. "But how I am ever to
make you comfortable here----"

"_Hush!_" Shushan breathed rather than spoke, with a warning hand laid
upon his arm.

"Well?" said Jack, speaking low, but surprised at her evident alarm.

She pointed to the one little unglazed hole in the mud wall that served
as a window. "They sit under that, and listen," she said. "I know their
ways."

After that, only low whispers were exchanged. A meal of pillav, with
kabobs (little pieces of roast meat), was served to them by their hosts,
who were presently--as Shushan ascertained with much relief--going in a
body to some neighbouring vineyard, to cut grapes.

When they had finished eating, Jack spread the two horse cloths for
Shushan, and exhorted her to lie down and sleep. He thought he was far
too anxious to do so himself. He sat up manfully near the door, with his
back against the wall, for fear of a sudden surprise; but nature in the
end was too strong for him, and even in that unrestful position she
managed to steep his senses in a profound slumber.



Chapter XII

THE USE OF A REVOLVER

     "So let it be. In God's own Might
     We gird us for the coming fight."

     --_Whittier._


It was Shushan who awoke her guardian, near the going down of the sun.
"Shack," she whispered, "let us get the horses and begone. I like not
the looks of these people. Some of them have come back from the
vineyard; and I saw them looking in at the window, and whispering."

Jack shook himself. "So I have slept," he said, surprised. "I did not
mean it. What time is it?"

They ate of the provisions they had with them, went together to make
ready the horses, bestowed some silver on their hosts, and rode away. As
soon as they were really off, Jack asked Shushan if she thought the
Kourds were content with their backsheesh.

"Oh yes, content enough," she said. "Still, I do not like their looks.
Let us ride on, as fast as we can."

They had some hard riding over the bare, burned-up ground, where not a
blade of grass or a leaf of any green thing was to be seen; and then
they came again to a mountain gorge. The sun had gone down now--a great
relief, for it had been very hot. Shushan, who had scarcely slept at
all, was suffering much from fatigue; and though she tried to answer
cheerfully when Jack spoke to her, she was evidently depressed and
anxious. He asked tenderly what was troubling her.

"Nothing," she said,--"nothing, at least, that I ought to mind. This
morning one of those Kourds asked me if we had come down from the
mountains to help in killing the Giaours, and to get some of their
goods. I asked, why we should kill them when they have done us no harm.
And they asked me again where I had come from that I did not know it was
the will of Allah and the Sultan, and that the true Believers, who
helped in the holy work, were to have their gold and silver and all they
possessed. Then they began a story that made my blood run cold--I will
not tell it thee. But, Shack, I fear the worst--especially for my people
in Biridjik."

"Let us ride on," said Jack, after a sorrowful pause. "It will not do
for us to stop and think. And certainly not here."

The darkness, or rather the soft half-darkness, of the starry Eastern
night had fallen over them quickly, like a veil. And now they were
getting among the mountains, and the wretched track called a road was
growing more and more indistinct. Presently they entered another narrow
gorge, deeper and gloomier than the one before Charmelik. But for their
dependence on their sure-footed horses, they never could have faced it,
so narrow was the level track, so steep the precipice below, so dark and
frowning the heights on either side above them.

But even the horses seemed to get puzzled. The track became fainter and
more broken, until at last the travellers found themselves on sloping
ground where it was hard to secure a foothold.

Not all Shushan's self-command could keep back a little frightened cry:
"I shall fall! Hold me, Shack!"

Jack turned to help her, heard the slip of a horse's foot in the dry,
loose clay, and for one awful moment thought both were lost. However,
foothold was regained somehow; and Shushan's fervent "Park Derocha!"
gave him strength to breathe again and to look about him. He saw
distinctly before them another gorge, crossing almost at right angles
the one beneath them, and cutting off their path, as it seemed to him.
How were they to traverse it? How had it been done before, when he rode
in hot haste with the zaptiehs and the Post, or back again, with Kevork?

And where was the path itself, from which they had wandered--he knew not
how far? Great Jupiter shone above them, bright enough to outline their
forms in shadow on the bare brown earth; and, looking carefully, he had
light to discern a narrow, crooked thread of white winding some thirty
feet below their standing place. He pointed to it. "We must get back,"
he said.

Shushan drew her breath hard, and looked, not at the perilous slope, but
at _him_. "Yes," she said. Jack would have proposed to dismount, trust
to their feet, and let the horses follow, but he knew it was not best.
He knew too that he must restrain his longing to take Shushan's bridle
and lead her horse--_that_ was not best either. How she held on he did
not know, nor did she know herself.

They were getting down the steep incline with less difficulty than they
expected, and had nearly regained the path, when Shushan cried out
suddenly, "Shack, I hear shouts." In another moment horse and rider both
were on the ground. Jack could not tell until the end of his life what
happened next, or what he did, until he found himself sitting on the
path with Shushan's head in his lap, seeing nothing but her face, white
through its dark staining. Her horse had narrowly escaped slipping down
into the gorge, but had found his feet somehow, and now stood beside
Jack's, gazing solemnly at the two dismounted riders.

Happily, Jack had his flask in his wide sash. He got at it, sprinkled
Shushan's face with the water, and put some between her lips. After a
few moments--it seemed like an age--she looked up. He began to lavish
tender words and caresses upon her, asking anxiously if she was hurt,
but she stopped him quickly.

"Oh, what does it matter?" she said. "Listen, Shack!"

He had been deaf as well as blind to all except her state. Now he
listened. The mountain echoes rang with wild, discordant shouts.

"The Kourds! They are pursuing us," said Shushan, sitting up. Terror had
restored her senses more rapidly than all the arts of love could have
done.

"Another set of them?" asked Jack, bewildered.

"No. The Kourds of Charmelik," said Shushan in a frightened whisper. "I
feared it. They heard us speak, and knew we were no Kourds." Even in
that moment's agony she said "heard us speak," as Jack remembered
afterwards,--lest he should blame himself.

"I will run round the corner, and look," he said. "Do you fear a moment
alone, my Shushan?"

"No; but take care. Keep under cover of the hill."

Jack ran to a turn that gave him a view of the road from Charmelik. As
far as he could see along the track no creature was visible. But high up
on the hill he saw dark forms, descending, doubtless by some goat-track
known to themselves alone. They could reach Shushan almost as soon as he
could.

He tore back to her, possessed with the thought that he would set her on
horseback, and make a race for it. But when he came near, he saw their
horses had moved away, and were both out of sight.

The shouts sounded nearer and nearer; he saw the flash of a gun, and
heard the report.

"Shack!" said Shushan. She was still sitting on the ground, having
sprained her ankle in the fall. "Shack!"

He bent down to her. He had been looking to his revolver, and held it in
his hand. "If the worst comes," she said, "you will kill me with
that--promise."

Jack set his teeth for an instant: then he said firmly, "So help me
God."

Another pistol shot--not near enough to harm them. But the Kourds were
upon them now. Jack saw the face of the man who had given them his
hut--an evil face. He took aim, fired, and the Kourd fell in a heap, and
rolled down the sloping ground to his very feet.

But there were twenty following him, and most of them had guns, while
Jack had no other shot--_for them_. He stood at bay between his wife and
the robbers, keeping his hand on the revolver as if just about to fire.

The Kourds desire close quarters with a dead shot as little as other
men. They wavered,--hesitated. Presently one fellow, braver than the
rest, discharged his gun, the shot passing close to Jack's head, then
sprang down the slope and flung himself upon him. They closed in mortal
conflict, hand to hand, foot to foot, eye to eye. At last Jack turned
suddenly, dragged his foe to the edge of the abyss, tore himself loose
with one tremendous effort, and with another, flung him over.
Down--down--down, still down, he rolled and fell, fell and rolled, till
he lay a mangled heap amongst the boulders at the bottom of the gorge.
Jack would assuredly have followed him, had he not fallen, or rather
thrown himself, backwards at full length on the path. As he lay there
two or three bullets whizzed over him.

They were the last salute of the departing foe. The Kourds by this time
had had enough of it, and beat a retreat more rapid than their advance.
When they found out their guests were not what they appeared to be,
brethren from a distant tribe, they had supposed they might be Armenians
carrying communications from the revolted Zeitounlis[3] to Urfa, and
that therefore they would be worth intercepting. But now they came to
the conclusion they were too well armed to be molested any further.

It was long before Jack and Shushan dared to breathe again. "Park
Derocha!" said Shushan at last. "Thank God!" Jack responded. He had
risen to his feet, and was looking anxiously around to see that all was
safe.

"Shack," said Shushan presently, "my foot hurts dreadfully now--praised
be the Lord!"

Jack had no linen, but he tore his sash, poured on it all the water
remaining in his flask, and wrapped it round the ankle, which was
beginning to swell. "I meant that word," Shushan added smiling, "for
pain is not felt until danger is past, and danger is--oh, so much worse
than pain! But, Shack, the horses!"

"True, we must get them; I daresay they have not gone far. Dare I leave
you here while I go to look for them?"

"You _must_. Our lives hang on it. God will take care of me."

Jack drew her gently into a sheltered place under the rock. Then he set
off at a brisk run, not letting himself think there was danger for her,
since he _had_ to go, and yet intensely, cruelly anxious about her.

He had a much longer chase than he anticipated, for the horses had quite
disappeared from view. Still he went on, keeping the path, and uttering
now and then the calls they were sure to recognise.

On account of the intervening gorge, the path descended almost to the
very bottom of the valley, through which there ran a little mountain
stream with a narrow fringe of green, stunted herbage on each side.
Instinct had led the horses to this desirable spot, where having
quenched their thirst, they stood contented, cropping the few mouthfuls
of short grass. Happily, in this position, the Kourds could not see
them.

Jack lost not a moment in leading their reluctant steps from the haunts
of pleasure to the very dry and very stony path of duty. Joyfully he
brought them back to where Shushan was, and met her joyful welcome.

"Is the pain _very_ bad now, my Shushan?" he asked.

"No," she answered, smiling. "It is only _a little very bad_, as you
say in English. Is not that right? Now you shall lift me on my horse
again, and we will go."

In a few minutes more they were on their way. When they came near the
little stream, they halted for a while, that Jack might bring water for
Shushan to drink, and bathe her ankle with it. She was very weary, and
suffering considerable pain, but she kept on bravely, making no
complaint. "It would be very ungrateful," she thought, "when God has
been so good to us."

"Shushan," said Jack, as they rode along, "do you know what they call
this gorge we are coming out of? They call it 'Bloody Gorge,' from the
robberies and murders there have been in it. Kevork told me when we rode
back together, but I did not want to tell you until we had passed it."

"Yesterday the Kourds told me the same," said Shushan, "but _I_ did not
want to tell _you_."

At length the mountain gorges were left behind, and a Roman road was
reached, leading to the plain, which now began to assume an appearance
of cultivation. There were wheatfields, and many fine vineyards laden
with grapes. But if the prospect was pleasing, the road was vile. The
great cobble stones the Romans loved had fallen apart, and the mud and
gravel between them had caked into a hard cement. Not the surest-footed
of steeds could avoid constant slips and stumbles, which filled up the
measure of poor Shushan's suffering. She could scarcely hold herself
upon her horse.

A little comfort came when the sun shot up in splendour. About the same
time they got upon a smoother piece of road, and presently Jack said:
"My Shushan, art thou too weary to look up, and see old Edessa in the
morning light?"

Shushan looked up. "It is a sight to take weariness away," she said,
faintly, but joyfully.

Before them rose a hill, crowned with a magnificent ruined castle, and
the slopes beneath it covered with buildings, interspersed with fair
green patches, telling of shady trees and pleasant gardens. But still
the eye turned back to the noble ruin, with its two very tall pillars,
the use whereof no man knows, rising upwards towards the sky. Fragments
of a great wall remained, enclosing not the castle alone, but all the
hill on which the large town is built, with its dense mass of flat
roofs, varied by minarets and mosques. Everywhere white was the
prevailing colour; so that, in the fair morning light, the old city of
King Agbar seemed to have donned a mantle of spotless snow.

A very high, very long roof of white attracted the eye. It belonged to
the great Gregorian Cathedral, a noble structure, of enormous size,
capable, it is said, of holding eight thousand persons. Jack turned to
point it out to Shushan, but a glance at her face made him say instead:
"My Shushan, you are ready to faint. You shall rest a little here. I
will lift you from your horse."

"No, Shack, no. We are just at home now. I will keep up till I see Miss
Celandine's face."

Through the city gate they rode, unchallenged and unhindered. Then they
passed a little market place, rode on through narrow streets, and round
the Protestant Church and churchyard, till they reached the gates of the
Mission premises. Eyes that loved must have been looking from the window
above the front door, for Jack had scarcely time to knock with a
trembling hand, and to lift Shushan from the saddle, when the door
opened, and a tall, spare figure stood within. The face was the face of
one who had thought much, done much, suffered much, and above all, loved
much. Jack gave Shushan into the motherly arms that opened wide to
receive her; she laid her weary head upon that strong, kind shoulder,
and fainted entirely away.

"Do not be afraid for her, Mr. Grayson," Miss Celandine said. "Peace and
safety are good physicians."

FOOTNOTE:

[3] See the Appendix.



CHAPTER XIII

WHAT PASTOR STEPANIAN THOUGHT

     "But he was holy, calm, and high,
     As one who saw an ecstasy
     Beyond a foreknown agony."

     --_E. B. Browning._


John Grayson left his young bride, for the present, in the care of Miss
Celandine. "She is safe; she is absolutely safe!" he kept saying to
himself, that one thought swallowing up all the rest. He went constantly
to see her, and was relieved to find that she very soon recovered from
the effects of her sprain, which indeed was not serious. Meanwhile he
stayed with the Vartonians, and watched anxiously for the coming of the
Meneshians to Urfa. Until he saw them settled there, and in some measure
safe, he did not think he ought to apply for a passport for himself and
Shushan, or, as she would then be called, Lily Grayson.

It was October now. The gloom of a great terror seemed gathering over
the town. So accustomed had Jack grown to fears and apprehensions that
he did not notice it as anything unusual. But he could not fail to
notice a most astonishing and unexpected outburst of rejoicing and
festivity that came suddenly in the very midst of the gloom. As
sometimes in a day of storm, when the great thunderclouds sweep across
the sky, the sun looks out for a moment, flashing a shaft of light
through the darkness,--so here, when all seemed blackest, a sudden
rumour passed from heart to heart, from lip to lip, "_The Sultan has
granted the Reforms._" Not only did the Armenians of Urfa whisper it
within closed doors--as they were wont to do with anything bearing,
however remotely, upon politics; men said it aloud to each other in the
streets and in the shops; and women talked of it as they baked their
bread, or drew their water from the fountains. What did these Reforms
mean? Did they mean--men said they did--no more plundering Kourds, no
more tyrannous zaptiehs, no more dungeons and tortures for innocent men,
and, best of all, no more of that wordless, nameless terror that made
the life of the Armenian woman one long misery? If indeed they meant
_this_, ought not the whole community to go mad with joy?

The tidings came officially, by telegraph, and were read aloud in the
Gregorian Cathedral. There followed, throughout the Armenian quarter,
tearful rejoicings, and many Services and meetings for prayer and
thanksgiving to Almighty God.

One day, while these were still going on, Jack was walking in one of the
narrow streets, when he met a young girl and a boy about Gabriel's age.
The girl was wrapped from head to foot in an _ezhar_, and closely
veiled, but the boy he knew well, having often seen him with the
Vartonians and with Gabriel--young Vartan Stepanian, the Pastor's eldest
son. So he knew the girl must be Oriort Elmas, Shushan's friend, and he
saluted both very cordially in passing.

He had not gone on twenty paces when a cry from Vartan brought him back.
A tall, powerful Turk had come suddenly through a door in the wall, and
being close to Elmas, for the street was scarcely two yards wide, seized
her veil to pull it off. Vartan sprang upon him and tried to drag him
away, but was not strong enough.

"None of that!" cried Jack in good English. He had no weapon, but he
clenched his hand, and putting forth all his strength, dealt the Turk a
blow between the eyes that sent him staggering against the opposite
wall.

"Allah!" cried the discomfited follower of Mahomet, looking at him with
a dazed, astonished air. An Armenian to strike a blow like that! Surely
Shaytan had got into him!

"Come--come quickly," Vartan said, hurrying his sister on, for fear of
pursuit. "More Dajeeks may come," he explained to Jack, who mounted
guard on the other side of Elmas. "Let us go to the church. It is the
nearest place where we can be safe."

"The Cathedral?"

"No; that is a long way off. My father's church."

They walked quickly, and were soon there. When in Urfa before, Jack had
always attended the cathedral services; he had not entered the beautiful
Protestant church since he saw the dead lying there in her peaceful
rest, on the morning of his first arrival. Vartan led him through it;
then, by the little side door, into his father's study. All around the
room there were bookshelves, filled to overflowing, and with books in
several languages. The Pastor was seated in a chair, before a little
deal table, reading. He was dressed _à la Frank_, and when, after a few
words from Vartan in Armenian, he rose and greeted his visitor in
excellent English, Jack thought himself back in his own land again. He
almost thought himself back again in the study of the good old clergyman
who had been the pastor and teacher of his childhood.

It broke the illusion a little when that stately gentleman touched his
own forehead, and stooped down to kiss the hand Jack stretched out to
him, instead of taking it in a hearty grasp. But this was in especial
thanks for the service rendered to his children, and a few earnest words
just touched with Eastern grace were added.

The pastor said a word or two to Elmas and Vartan, who left the room.
Then he invited Jack to take the one chair, and seated himself on the
little divan under the window.

Delighted at hearing his native tongue so perfectly spoken, Jack said
impulsively and in English,--

"Pastor, you are more than half an Englishman."

Pastor Stepanian shook his head rather sadly, but did not speak.

Then Jack remembered the nationality of the missionaries, his friends.

"I beg your pardon," he said, "I meant--you are more than half an
American."

"Neither English nor American," said Hagop Stepanian proudly. "Every
drop of my blood, every pulse in my heart, belongs to my own race. But I
am very grateful to the Americans, our benefactors."

The blood rushed to the face of John Grayson. "I am afraid," he said,
"you have no cause to be grateful to _us_."

The pastor waved his hand. "I say nothing against the English," he
said.--"Pardon me a moment."

He rose, looked carefully round, and opened both doors of the study,
ascertaining in this way that there was no one within earshot, either in
the churchyard or the church. Then he closed the doors again, sat down,
lowered his voice, and began: "Have you been long enough in this
country, Mr. Grayson, to have seen a dead horse, with half a dozen
hungry dogs snarling round it? Each wants a bit, yet each is so jealous
of all the rest, that if one dares touch it the others fall on him, and
drive him off. Can you read my parable?"

"Yes; the nations, England and the others, stand thus around Turkey.
Would it _were_ dead, Pastor!"

"Take care, my young friend, lest some such word escape you as you walk
by the way, or ride among the vineyards, or sit with a friend over your
coffee in his private room, where the very hangings may conceal a spy."

"Oh, I am cautious enough. I have been here nearly five years."

"Were you here fifty, you might still have failed to learn your lesson.
A word, a whisper, a scrap of paper found upon you,--nay, the assertion
of some one else that you have given him a scrap of paper--may consign
you any moment to a horrible dungeon, where you will be tortured into
saying anything your accusers wish. Nor is that the worst. Men have been
flung into prison, and tortured almost to death, without being able to
guess the crime laid to their charge. I knew of one who was used in this
way, and at last they found they had mistaken him for another of the
same name. He was brought half dead before the Kadi, who said to him
coolly, 'My son, regard it not. It was an error. Go in peace.'"

"The stupidity of these people would be ridiculous, if the horror were
not too great," Jack said.

"Nay, Mr. Grayson, it is not stupidity. It is savagery, and savagery
dominating civilization, but that savagery is armed with an ingenuity
almost devilish for the bringing about of the designs in view. All
_special_ outrages upon the Christians are cleverly timed for some
moment when the eyes of Christian Europe are turned elsewhere. Our
people are first entrapped, made to give up their arms if they have any,
cajoled with false promises of safety, if possible induced or forced to
accuse each other, or themselves, of seditious plans they never even
thought of."

"Then, Pastor, are all the rumours of plots and seditions here and there
mere fabrications?"

"There are plots, no doubt, _outside_ Armenia. Bands of desperate
exiles, in the great cities of Europe, have committees, hold meetings,
make revolutionary plans. And I do not say their emissaries may not find
a foothold and gain a hearing in some of our towns, those near the
Russian frontier, for instance. But _I_ know of none such. And I do know
what happened here a short time ago. A young man, with an air of
importance, and dressed _à la Frank_, appeared one day in the Cathedral.
The bishop noticed him, sent for him, and asked his business in the
town. He said he had come to ask help for the Zeitounlis, and to
establish communications between them and the Urfans. The bishop
answered him, 'In two hours you will be either outside the city gate, or
in the guard-house. You have your choice. It is not that I do not desire
the deliverance and the freedom of my people, but they will never gain
it in this way. This is only pulling down our house upon our own heads.'
So much, and no more, sedition and disloyalty has there been in this
city, Mr. Grayson."

"But do you not think the worst for your country is over now? These
Reforms----"

The Pastor shook his head. "Only another snare," he said. "At least, I
forbode it. The Sultan gives us reforms on paper to lull us into
security, and to deceive our European friends, while he sharpens the
dagger for our throats."

"You think then that the reforms are worth--"

"The paper they are written on. If the Sultan meant them even--which he
does not--who are to carry them out? The Pashas, Valis, Kamaikans? They
are our deadliest enemies. They want our lands, our houses, our gold;
they want--the dreadful word _must_ be said--our wives and our
daughters. And the Zaptiehs, the Redifs, the Hamidiehs, the Kourds and
the Turkish rabble of every town want to share the spoil."

"Do they not think too that in killing us they do God service?" Jack
said "us" quite naturally now.

"In literal truth. Have you never heard the prayer they recite daily in
their mosques? 'I seek refuge with Allah from Shaytan the accuser. In
the name of Allah the compassionate, the merciful! O Lord of all
creatures! O Allah! destroy the Infidels and Polytheists, thine enemies,
the enemies of the Religion! O Allah! make their children orphans, and
defile their abodes! Cause their feet to slip, give them and their
families, their households and their women, their children and their
relations by marriage, their brothers and their friends, their
possessions and their race, their wealth and their lands, as booty to
the Moslems, O Lord of all creatures!' Rather a contrast this to 'Our
Father which art in Heaven!'"

"Is it possible they think God will answer such a prayer?" said Jack.

"They _do_ think it. You must remember their God is not the God and
Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, nor the Father of mankind. He
represents Will and Power apart from love and righteousness. 'The will
of Allah' means everything to them, but it is not necessarily a holy or
a loving Will."

"Still people are often better than their creed, you know."

"They are. Moreover, the Moslems' creed has in it some grand elements of
truth. They acknowledge one God, and they believe in the duty and the
efficacy of prayer. Oh yes,--and there are some good and generous Turks,
who are as kind to us as they dare to be. I have known such. There was
one, a Pasha, who tried to rule according to the avowed intentions of
the Sultan, _not_ according to his secret instructions. He was deprived
of his office, and banished to a distant part of the empire. There a
friend of mine, a missionary, visited him not long ago. At first my
friend was disappointed, for though the Turk received him with all
cordiality, he could not be got to talk. But when he returned the
missionary's visit, and in his lodgings felt tolerably safe, he told
him that every step he took was dogged, every word he said reported by
the Sultan's spies: even in his most private chamber he never knew what
safety meant; a spy might lurk behind the tapestry or outside the door.
'I count my life,' he said, 'by days and hours. Soon or late I am sure
to be murdered.' If he is, I think He who said, 'Inasmuch as ye have
done it unto the least of these,' will have something to say to him."

"Surely in this land," Jack observed, "'he that departeth from evil
maketh himself a prey.' But what do you think of the outlook here just
now, Pastor?"

"Do you want to hear the truth, Mr. Grayson?"

"Certainly."

"Then I think, in the words of your own poet, it is 'dark, dark, dark,
unutterably dark,' and the darkness is over all the land."

"Darker than it has been yet? Is that possible?" Jack queried.

"Yes, what was meant before was oppression. What is meant now is, I
fear, _extermination_."

"But," said Jack, raising his head suddenly, while a new light shone in
his eyes, "there is God to be reckoned with. Does _He_ mean it?"

"'His way is in the sea, His path is in the great waters, and His
footsteps are not known.' Did you notice the name of my boy, whom you
helped so kindly just now?"

"Vartan,--in English, 'Easter.'"

"It is a name dear to every Armenian heart, the name of the hero saint
of our race. And yet, Saint Vartan died in a lost battle. He fought
against the Persians, who summoned the Armenians to submit to them, and
to exchange the law of the Christ for the creed of the fire-worshipper.
The Persians were strong and many, the Armenians were few and weak; but
this was their answer, and Vartan's: 'We are not better than those
before us, who laid down upon this testimony their goods and their
bodies. Ask us no more, for the covenant of our faith is not with men,
but in bonds indissoluble with God, for whom there is no separation or
departure, neither now, nor ever, nor for ever--nor for ever and ever.'
That is what we said fifteen hundred years ago, that is what we say
to-day, when the darkest hour of the darkest night is falling over our
land."

A pause followed, broken by Stepanian. "He died in a lost battle. The
battle is lost, but the cause triumphs."

Jack had covered his face with his hands; but at these words he looked
up again. "Then you see, beyond the darkness, a gleam of light?" he
said.

"Mr. Grayson, I will tell you a parable. Last spring my little son
Armenag came with me one day to the vineyard. I showed him two vines.
One of them was beautiful, covered with luxuriant leaves and tendrils;
the other, a dry, bare stick, with branch and leaf and tendril cut away
by a ruthless hand. 'Which of these two will you have for your own, to
bear grapes for you by-and-by?' I asked the boy. Of course he chose the
beautiful, leafy vine. But the other day, in the ingathering, I brought
him there again. Lo! the vine that kept its leaves and branches had only
a few poor stunted grapes, while the tree that had been stripped and cut
down, was bending beneath the weight of its great clusters of glorious
fruit."

"And?" said Jack, his eyes eagerly fixed upon the Pastor, who went on--

"I see some clusters ripening even now. Is it nothing, think you, that
men and women, and children even, have been witnessing fearlessly unto
death for the Lord they love? In very truth, like the witnesses of old,
they have been tortured, not accepting deliverance. Many have already
joined the noble army of martyrs. And many more are coming--ay, even
from this place. Never of late have I stood up to preach, and looked
down on the faces beneath me, without the thought that these, my people,
may soon be standing in the presence of Christ. And I too--I shall see
Him soon."

"Are you a prophet?" John Grayson asked, looking with amazement at the
calm, refined, intellectual face of this gentleman of the nineteenth
century, who spoke of his own martyrdom as certainly, as quietly, and as
fearlessly, as if he had said, "I am going to France, or to England."

"I am no prophet, Mr. Grayson; but I think I can read the signs of the
times. And though it becomes no man to answer for himself, there are
things in which we may trust God to answer for us;--and things which He
does not ask of us. He does not ask the shepherd to save himself when
the sheep are smitten."

"But death is not the _worst_ thing that happens here," Jack said very
low, "nor even torture--would to God it were!"

"Don't you think I know that?" said the Pastor hoarsely, as a shade of
anguish crossed his face. "Don't you think I thank God every hour for my
Dead--my Dead, who died by _His_ Hand?"

Jack remembered what he had seen in the church that day, and held his
peace. A great silence fell upon them; then Hagop Stepanian stretched
out his hand to Jack, and looked straight into his eyes. "Mr. John
Grayson," he said, "do you trust God?"

Jack's frank blue eyes fell beneath the gaze of those dark, searching
eyes, that seemed to have looked down into unfathomed depths of anguish
and come back from them into peace. "I trust in God," he said very low.

"I am sure of it. But here, where we stand now, we want more. To
overcome in this warfare, a man must have laid, wholly and without
reserve, his own soul and body, and the souls and bodies that are dearer
than his own, in the hands of his faithful Creator and Redeemer."

"Do you mean we must be willing, not only to suffer, but to see them
suffer?" Jack asked in a broken voice. "That's against
nature--impossible."

"Therefore God does not ask it of us. All He asks is that we should be
willing for His will."

"_Not_ His will--oh, _not_ His will!" Jack said almost with a cry. "The
will of wicked men--of devils!"

"Even so;--but He is stronger than they, and will prevail. Mr. Grayson,
will you take my counsel?"

"Except it be to leave this place and save myself, which at present I
cannot do."

"I know it: you have others, you have _another_ to think of,--No; you
share our peril, and unless you share also our strong consolation you
will be as those that go down into the pit, and your heart will die
within you. Remember, you must trust God, and trust Him utterly. In all
the generations He has never yet broken faith with one man who trusted
Him so. He will bring you up out of the depths again, and you shall
behold His righteousness, and one day you shall see His face with joy,
and know wherefore He let these things come upon us."

The conversation was interrupted by the entrance of Vartan and a younger
boy, bringing coffee and sweetmeats. The Pastor drew the little one
towards him, saying in Armenian, "Tell the English Effendi, Armenag,
what our fathers in St. Vartan's day said to the Persians, when they
bade them deny the Lord Jesus."

The child answered steadily, and as if he meant every word: "Ask us no
more, for the covenant of our faith is not with man, but with God, for
whom there is no separation or departure, neither now, nor ever, nor for
ever, nor for ever and ever."

"And what has God said to them, and to us?"

The boy's young voice rang clear and high as he repeated his
well-remembered lesson. "'The mountains shall depart, and the hills be
removed, but My kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the
covenant of My peace be removed, saith the Lord that hath mercy on thee.
O thou afflicted, tossed with tempest and not comforted, behold, I will
lay thy stones with fair colours, and lay thy foundations with
sapphires. And I will make thy windows of agates, and thy gates of
carbuncles, and all thy borders of pleasant stones.'"

"I teach my children words like these," the Pastor said, reverting to
English, "that they may know we are watchers for the morning. Which
assuredly our eyes shall see, here or elsewhere," he added with a bright
glance upwards.

Jack sat in silence for a space. Then, rising to take his leave, he
grasped and wrung the Pastor's hand in true English fashion. "I will
remember what you said about trusting God," he murmured.

"God, who is not only above you in heaven, but underneath you in the
depths," the Pastor said. "There is no abyss you can sink into, where
you cannot sink down on Him. And yet," he added with a smile, "I have
good hopes of your safe return at last to your native land, along with
your sweet bride Shushan, the daughter of our people. For you are an
Englishman, and such are always protected here. And, when God gives you
deliverance, think then of this Church of His, which is afflicted,
tossed with tempests, and not comforted. May yours be the hand He uses
to comfort her." Then, once more in Armenian, "Vartan, do you go with
Mr. Grayson to his home; you can take him by the shortest way."

"Yes, father, but I want to tell you"--the boy lowered his voice--"Osman
has just been here, to let us know privately we should not try to hold
a meeting for thanksgiving to-night. The Zaptiehs will disperse it by
force."

"I will see what ought to be done.--So much for the Reforms, Mr.
Grayson. But do not speak of this. Osman is a young Turk who bears us
good will, as I have told you some do; and an incautious word might
bring him into trouble. Once more, farewell; God bless you."



Chapter XIV

A MODERN THERMOPYLÆ

     "In yon strait path a thousand
       May well be stopped by three;
     Now who will stand on either hand,
       And keep the (way) with me?"

     --_T. B. Macaulay._


Jack often went after this to the Protestant church to hear Pastor
Stepanian preach. He had been much impressed by his words, and still
more by his remarkable personality; and there was the added pleasure of
worshipping with Shushan, who sat demurely by Miss Celandine on the
women's side of the church. Oriort Elmas was there too--a noble-looking
girl, a good deal taller than Shushan, and far less regularly beautiful,
but with a face full of intelligence. He heard much of her courage and
charity in ministering to the poor and sick, as well as of her loving
care of her young brothers and sister. He met her once or twice at the
Vartonians, with whom she was very intimate; and he thought Kevork a
fortunate man; with the mental reservation that he was much more
fortunate himself--a reflection which makes it easy to "rejoice with
them that do rejoice."

Jack heard from Shushan, when he visited her, many lamentations over the
departure of her beloved young teacher, Miss Fairchild. Many stories
lingered in Urfa, and were told him by the Vartonians, of those loving
ministrations to the poor, and especially to the Sassoun refugees, which
had nearly cost the young missionary her life; and also of the gratitude
and affection with which they were repaid. Once during her illness, when
her life was almost despaired of, a poor man, a seller of antiquities,
heard that she had asked for fish. This seemed impossible to procure,
for it was summer, and the Euphrates, from which fish was brought in
winter, was two days' journey off. But, in the midst of the city is the
beautiful Pool of Abraham, where are kept the sacred fish, which every
one feeds, and which the Moslems esteem so highly, it is death to touch
one of them. The poor Armenian watched by the pool until the darkest and
most silent hour of the night; then, at the peril of his life, he caught
some of the fish, and brought them to the Mission House. David's Three
Mighty Men, who brought the water from the well of Bethlehem, did no
more.

Very touching also was the story of the service held in the Cathedral to
pray for her recovery. The Gregorian Bishop, and all the priests in the
city took part in it, and the great building was thronged from end to
end. "God _must_ give her back to us," the Armenians said.

On Sunday, the 27th of October, Jack attended Pastor Stepanian's church.
After the service he went to meet his friends, who had most of them gone
to the Cathedral. He saw, before he reached it, that something unusual
was going on. All the Armenians he met seemed to be in a curious state
of excitement; most of them were hurrying somewhere in hot haste.
Whatever possessed them this time however, it was certainly not fear.
The scraps of conversation that reached his ear savoured of hope, and of
confident appeal to Law. "Have him up,"--"Go to Government House,"--"See
what they will do," and words like these.

"Oh, Gabriel, is that you?" he cried, seeing the boy come towards him.
"You will tell me, what is all this about?" Gabriel, who had been at the
Cathedral, explained: "There was a crowd of us standing about in the
churchyard after service, when a Turk came in. He looked from one to
another, no one caring to say anything to him--though of course he had
no business there--till at last he lighted upon poor Baghas, the
money-changer. He began to curse him by the Prophet, and to give him all
sorts of foul language. How had he, a dog of a Giaour, dared to come to
_his_ house, and ask him for money? Baghas stood his ground, with a
courage that astonished us all. He told the Turk plainly it was all his
own fault. What business had he to buy gold coins of him, if he could
not pay for them? Let him give him the money he owed him, and make an
end, that was all he wanted. There came to be a crowd round the two of
them; yet was no man quick enough to stop the Turk when he flashed out
his scimitar, and stabbed poor Baghas to the heart. 'Take that for
payment, Giaour,' saith he. But he said no more; for our people closed
upon him with a cry of rage. I heard them saying, 'Now we shall see the
good of the Reforms!' 'Now we shall have justice!' 'Djanum[4]! are our
men to be killed like dogs?' and more of that kind."

"Heaven send they have not harmed the Turk," Jack said; "the bill for
that would be too heavy."

"I don't think they have. They got him in the midst of them, and they
are taking him to the Government House, to lodge a complaint against him
there."

"I remember once, in England, seeing a sparrow fly at a cat, in defence
of her young. It reminds me of that," said Jack. "Gabriel, I want to
see this thing through, but I don't want _you_ to come. There may be
rough work."

"Oh, I should _like_ to come. I am not afraid."

"But, if you were hurt, Shushan would not like that; we must think of
her."

"Yes," said Gabriel slowly. "Yon Effendi, I will go home."

With a self-denial Jack scarcely appreciated at its full value, he
turned away and ran quickly down a side street. Jack went on his way,
and he had no difficulty in finding it, for cries and shouts, and the
trampling of many feet directed him to a market place, some distance
off. Here, at first, he could not see the wood for the trees. All the
place seemed full of Turks and Armenians mixed together, shouting,
struggling, swaying, and pushing, now this way, now that. It seemed to
be a free fight, but what they were all fighting about was not clear to
an onlooker. Still, not to be left out when good things were going, Jack
took his share by snatching a knife from the hand of a Turk who was
threatening an Armenian with it.

Presently half a dozen Turkish horse--Regulars, with a splendid-looking
officer at their head, came dashing into the square, and sending both
Turks and Christians running in all directions. But one Turk did not
run, for he lay dying on the ground. It was the murderer of Baghas. The
soldiers took up the wounded man and set him on a horse. And then the
Turks began to return; a number of them gathered round the group, with a
few Christians also. Jack heard them cry out that the man was dying.

"How did you get here, Yon Effendi?" said the voice of Barkev Vartonian
beside him.

"I met Gabriel, and came. What are they going to do?"

"Going to take the man to the Government House, I suppose. They will
never get him there alive."

"Barkev, who killed him?"

"The zaptiehs, of course, when they could not get him from us. I _saw_
one of them stab him with a bayonet."

"I thought one of our people might have done it, seeing they wanted to
take him from us."

"How, save with sticks or stones? We have nothing else, as you know. But
the Turks will try to put it on us, no doubt. Come along to the
Government House, and let us see what happens."

As they reached the place, Barkev exclaimed, "Djanum! there is Dr.
Melkon, of all men, in the hands of the zaptiehs. What can _he_ have
done?"

"Not arrested as a criminal, I hope, but called in as a doctor," said
Jack, as they came up.

If so, the wounded Turk was beyond his skill. They heard those around
him saying he was dead. At the same time Melkon's voice reached their
ears. He could do no good now, he pleaded, entreating the Turks to let
him go about his business, which was urgent. He had a serious case to
attend to--a Mussulman Effendi.

No; he must stay, and certify to the cause of death. Barkev and Jack
followed the crowd, which streamed into the Government House--an open
court, where they could see all that passed.

They saw the body laid on a divan, and they saw Melkon approach to
examine it. The Turkish officer stood beside him, a drawn sword in his
hand.

"This man has been killed by the blows of sticks or bludgeons," he said,
in a loud voice. Melkon stooped over the body; the officer stooped also,
and whispered something in his ear.

Almost instantly Melkon stood up, his face pale as that of the dead man
who lay before them. For once the noisy, chattering Eastern crowd kept a
profound silence. Melkon's low, firm voice reached every ear,--

"This man has died of wounds inflicted by the bayonet."

"No case against us," Barkev said.

But Melkon had sealed his own death warrant, and he knew it. For one
moment he faced the crowd--

"I can die, but I cannot lie," he said.

His voice was drowned in a howl of execration, and a dozen furious hands
laid hold on him at once.

"To the rescue!" cried Jack and Barkev together, dashing in amongst the
throng.

"Keep quiet!" muttered a voice beside them, and a Turk they knew laid
his hand on Barkev's shoulder. "Keep quiet and go home," he went on in a
whisper; "my brothers have got the doctor, and will hide him in our
house. He has attended us; we like him, and we will not let him be
killed."

Somewhat comforted, the young men went home. As they passed through the
streets, the Moslems greeted them with threats and insults.

"We will soon make an end of you, dogs of Giaours," they cried. Boys
threw stones at them, and women screamed curses--foul and hideous
Turkish curses--at the top of their shrill voices.

"I do not like the look of things at all," said Barkev, when they got
into their own quarter.

"Nor I," Jack answered. "I think it would be no harm for some of us to
keep watch to-night. I volunteer, for one." And he went apart to clean
his precious revolver, and to load the two serviceable barrels. He had
not dared to get it set in order; that would have been far too
dangerous.

The night, so far as they knew, passed quietly away. Many Armenians had
shops or booths, or other business to attend to outside their own
Quarter, and this was the case with some members of the Vartonian
family. On Monday morning the women prayed of them to stay at home, and,
indeed, the greater number did so. But others thought it the part of
wisdom, as well as of manly courage, to go about as usual. Barkev
Vartonian was amongst these, and Jack went with him for company.

They had not gone far beyond the limits of their own Quarter when a boy
ran against them, screaming with terror, and caught Jack by the zeboun.

"What is it? What is the matter, poor child?" he asked; then looking
more closely cried out, "Hagop! Hagop Meneshian! How is this? Have you
all come? Where are you?"

"We came in at the gate," Hagop gasped out. "Then the Dajeeks set on us
with sticks and stones and knives. Oh, they are going to kill us! What
shall we do?"

"Don't be afraid; we will protect you. Where are the rest?"

"Down there--in the Market Place--the corner, by the dead wall. Kevork
and the others are defending the women and children as well as they
can. I slipped through somehow, and ran on to tell you."

"Don't come back with us. Run along that narrow street, keep to the
right, and once in our Quarter you will be safe. Ask any one for Baron
Vartonian's house. You can send us any men you find to help."

Barkev and Jack hurried on to the rescue of their friends. They were met
on their way by a hideous rabble of Turkish men and boys, the very scum
of the city, who were dragging along at the end of a rope, with shouts
and ribald laughter--_something_. Was that a human form, so horribly
torn and mutilated? Was that a human face? Was it the face they saw, not
four and twenty hours ago, white and set, yet calm in its brave resolve?

"It is Melkon," Jack whispered in horror; "they have killed him. Oh,
God, what things are done here!"

"Come on! come on! Don't look," said Barkev. "We have my cousins to save
from a like fate."

They found the Meneshians in a corner of the Market Place, still keeping
the foe at bay. They had the advantage of being, most of them, on horses
or on mules; but the density of the hostile crowd, and the number of
women and children they had with them, had kept them from breaking
through, while they made all the better mark for stones and mud.

However, their tormentors were getting tired of a kind of sport which
yielded no profit. Rather a pity, when their brethren were looting the
well-stocked Armenian shops in the Bazaar! So the crowd soon gave way
sufficiently to enable Jack and Barkev to extricate their friends, and
they led the terrified party towards the Armenian Quarter. Some were
bleeding from the stones that had been thrown at them; all had their
clothing torn and disfigured with mud. The children were crying, and two
or three of the women were ready to faint.

Meanwhile, there was a roar behind them like the roar of many waters,
breaking on a rock-bound shore. The mob--the savage mob of an Eastern
city--was "_up_." "Death to the Giaours!" was the cry that rose and
surged, surged and rose again. The luckless Armenians who had ventured
into the Turkish town were fleeing before the storm,--fleeing for their
lives, many of them streaming with blood.

Would that mob pour on, like sea waves in a storm, into the narrow
streets of the Armenian Quarter? Would they slay utterly young and old,
men and maidens and little children? No, the weak should not die, if the
strong could protect them. Barkev, Kevork, Jack, and other young men
sent the rest on before them, and took their stand in a narrow street at
the entrance of their Quarter. It bade fair to be a little modern
Thermopylæ. Surely neither Greek nor Roman ever fought in a holier
cause, or for dearer issues; nor against greater odds, nor with more
determined courage.

Gabriel, just back from school, came with the rest. Jack sent him for
his revolver. "You know where to get it," he said. The others armed
themselves, as they could, with sticks and stones. Not another firearm
was seen, save this revolver.

The Turks had plenty of firearms. With the rabble were mingled regular
soldiers, Zaptiehs, Redifs, Hamidiehs, Kourds, all fully armed, all
thirsting for blood and plunder. The Armenians could scarcely have held
their own had they not had good allies on the flat roofs of their
houses. These had all parapets of loose stones, treasuries of effective
weapons for the men, the women, and the boys, who flung them down on the
heads of the Moslems.

Jack's two barrels were soon emptied, as two of the Turks knew to their
cost. But he could not reload, so a friend behind him snatched the
weapon out of his hand, and thrust into it a stout bludgeon. With this
he played the man, his whole soul in the blows he dealt. He was
fighting for dear life--for dearer lives than his own. Was it minutes,
hours, years that he stood there, struggling in that desperate _mêlée_?
Were the Moslems giving ground at last? What did it mean? There
certainly was a space growing before the defenders; they had room now to
breathe. Two or three Turks lay in the street dead or dying, others were
well bruised with bludgeons or cut with stones. A panic began among
them. And presently--for an Eastern crowd does nothing by halves--the
street was cleared with a rush. It was a regular stampede.

The Christians drew breath, and looked one another in the face. "Safe at
last!" Jack said.

"For the present," said Kevork, wiping his brow. But the next moment he
cried in horror, "My father! he is dying!"

The Christians, of course, had suffered in the fray. Several lay dead,
others were sorely wounded. One of these was Boghos, who, though no
longer young, had chosen to take part in the defence. Jack and Kevork,
in great distress, carried him into a house at hand; the owner, a
carpenter named Selferian, cordially inviting them in, and his handsome,
intelligent wife, Josephine Hanum by name, bringing linen and cold
water, while the eldest boy ran for the nearest doctor. Fortunately, the
wound, when examined by him, did not seem to be immediately dangerous,
though it was certainly serious.

When the Armenians had time to compare notes, it appeared that all the
principal entrances to their Quarter had been defended with the same
desperate courage and with equal success. There was considerable loss of
life, inevitable when their assailants had firearms and they had none,
but at least for the present they were safe, with their wives and
children.

That is to say, they were safe within the limits of their own Quarter;
outside of it, even at its very entrance, every Armenian was mercilessly
slain. At least, to be accurate, the men and the boys were slain.
Armenian shops, of which there were many, including the best and richest
in the town, were given over to plunder, and Armenian houses shared the
same fate.

Still, at first, in the Armenian Quarter, the feeling was one of relief.
When a naked sword that has been held at your throat is suddenly
withdrawn, your first sensation is delightful, whatever the next may be.
It took the Armenians some days at least to realize two awful facts:
that their friends and relatives outside were hopelessly lost, and that
they were themselves straitly shut up and besieged.

Had the Meneshian family been twelve hours later in entering the town,
not one of them, probably, would have been left alive. Their journey
from Biridjik to Urfa had been a most perilous one, as every Moslem in
the country seemed to be in arms against them. They could scarcely have
accomplished it at all but for an expedient of Kevork's. Jack had
provided a Kourdish dress for him, as well as for himself and for
Shushan, supposing that he would return with them to Urfa. He wore this
during the journey, and rode boldly in front of the party, whose guide
and protector he was supposed to be. He had changed it, however, before
entering the city, as he never dreamed of danger _there_, and imagined
it would expose him to ridicule.

Great anxiety was felt about Miss Celandine, and the other inmates of
the Mission premises. But this, as far as Jack was concerned, was soon
allayed, though in a way that caused his friends a terrible alarm. Two
zaptiehs came to the Vartonian house, enquiring for one Grayson Effendi.
Every one thought nothing less than that he had been identified in the
crowd at the gate as the man who used the revolver, and that this
summons meant imprisonment, as bad or worse than death. Great was the
relief when it proved to mean only a polite request to visit Miss
Celandine. True to his system--and he does everything upon system--the
Turk would not willingly injure a foreign subject. Miss Celandine
therefore was not only left unmolested, but given a guard of zaptiehs to
protect her premises from the mob. These zaptiehs did their work
faithfully; and it seems that some of them at least were won to regard
their charges with respect and liking.

Jack went to the Mission House, as safe in reality as if he had been
walking in a London street, though under the escort of men who, at a
word from their captain, would have torn him limb from limb with the
greatest pleasure in the world. He found the mission premises crowded
with persons who had taken refuge there during the late disturbances.
Many of them were wounded, and all were destitute. The courtyard was
filled with them, as well as most of the rooms of the house. Miss
Celandine--who, since the departure of her youthful fellow-worker, had
stood completely alone--looked ten years older than when he saw her
last. Thinner she could scarcely be, but her eyes had dark circles round
them, and her face an abiding look of horror. She led him into the only
private room she had left, and made anxious enquiries about the state of
the Armenian Quarter, which, although it was at her very gates, it was
practically impossible for her to enter. Then she said, "Mr. Grayson, I
am sending to the Pasha to ask for a passport."

"It is what any one would do in your place--what any one else would have
done long ago," he answered.

"This is why I do it. The danger seems over here. The massacre is
stopped. Yet I cannot resume my work amongst the people; that is not
permitted to me. Here I am useless; I am only witnessing misery I cannot
relieve. But in England or America I could do a great deal. I could tell
the truth--the very truth--about what is done here. If England and
America knew _that_, I think it would change everything. I am persuaded
better things of my fellow-Christians than that they would sit still and
tolerate the destruction--with every aggravation of refined, diabolical
cruelty--of a nation of Christians, only because they _are_ Christians."

Miss Celandine seldom spoke in this way; but her heart was hot and sore
within her, she had just been hearing a recital of horrors such as may
not be mentioned here, and was in no mood to guard her words. The hatred
of Turks for Armenians is a growth of centuries, rooted in complex
causes; but the fact that they are Christians lifts the bridle from the
jaws of the oppressor, making every act of cruelty to them a
merit--their extermination a holy war. And since by embracing Islam
they would come under the protection of the Prophet, it is because of
their firm adherence to their faith that these unhappy ones are given
over to the sword, _and worse_.

"You are right to go," Jack said simply. "And oh!" he added, his eyes
kindling and his whole face changing, "you will take Shushan with you?
That is what you mean--why you sent for me. God bless you, ten thousand
times!"

The smile that lit up the worn face made it very sweet to look upon.
"Yes, my dear boy," she said. "I do mean that. But I dare not take her
with me, either as Shushan Meneshian, or under the name she has now a
right to bear. It would cause too much remark and enquiry. No; she had
better pass as one of my servants, a certain number of whom I have the
right to take. But this is what I sent for you to ask: Will you also
apply for a passport, and come with us?"

Jack was silent. Indeed, he could not speak, for the fierce hope, the
passionate longing that arose within him was too strong for words. To
leave all this misery, to stand with Shushan on the shores of
England--_free_!


     "The thought grew frightful, 'twas so wildly dear."


But soon reflection came. It could not be. All at once he threw back
his head with a sharp, sudden "No," very startling to the lady, whose
nerves were already strung to their utmost tension. "In the first place,
everything would come out. I should be known as the Englishman, John
Grayson, who married an Armenian in Biridjik, and who afterwards killed
Kourds, and fired on Mussulmans with a revolver."

"They would probably be afraid to meddle with you."

"They might. You know their ways much better than I do. But I suspect
they would find a way of paying me back my revolver shots in kind--or
worse--before I left the country. And even suppose I got safe out, and
Shushan too, what would be the fate of the Meneshians? Would not
sevenfold vengeance descend on them--which, even if _I_ could bear to
think of--what of Shushan? There is another thing, though I scarce like
to say it," Jack added in a different tone, and with a kind of relapse
into boyishness: "all the people here, the Meneshians, the Vartonians
and the rest--in some queer way I cannot explain--seem to cling to me.
They give me far more credit than I deserve for the repulse of the Turks
the other day, and somehow they fancy I can protect them. I suppose it
is because I am an Englishman, come of fathers and mothers who have not
been afraid--because they had nothing to be afraid of--for generation
upon generation. So I want to stay, at all events, till this affair is
over."

"John Grayson, you are a brave lad," said Miss Celandine, stretching out
her thin, worn hand to him.

Jack took it with all reverence. What deeds of kindness and pity, and
heroic beneficence that weak woman's hand had done! Like the people he
dwelt amongst, he bowed over it, touching it with his lips and his
forehead. Then he said, smiling, "But also I am a man now. If it please
you, Miss Celandine, may I see my wife?"

"Certainly. I will go and fetch her."

In a few minutes Shushan entered. She had grown a little pale with the
anxieties of the last days, but he thought she looked sweeter than ever.
She had much to hear from him about her family, and about her father, of
whom he was able to give her a hopeful report.

An hour passed in earnest talk; but what each said to the other, neither
told afterwards. When at last the moment of parting came, neither cared
to think how long a parting it might be. Lip met lip, heart throbbed
against heart. Shushan was the braver now. "You know, Shack," she said,
"the cross of Christ was laid on us together. Nothing can keep us parted
after that."

"The cross laid on us together," Jack repeated; "indeed, it looks like
it. But do not droop, my Lily. With God's help we will win through yet,
and have a joyful ending to all our troubles."

But something in his own heart gave the lie to his hopeful words, as he
took one last lingering gaze, and sadly turned to go.

"Yertaak paré," said Shushan softly.

"Menaak paré," he responded, and went.

FOOTNOTE:

[4] Djanum="my soul." A common exclamation.



Chapter XV

DARK HOURS

     "Oh, Thou that dwellest in the heavens high,
     Above yon stars and beyond yon sky,
     Where the dazzling fields need no other light,
     Nor the sun by day, nor the moon by night;

     Though shining millions around Thee stand,
     For the sake of Him at Thy Right Hand,
     Think on the souls He died for here,
     Wandering in darkness, sorrow and fear!

     The Powers of Darkness are all abroad,
     They own no Saviour, they fear no God;
     And we are trembling in dumb dismay--
     Oh, turn not Thou Thy Face away!"

     --_Cameronian Midnight Hymn._


If the Armenians were safe, for the present, in their own Quarter from
actual murder, it was the most that could be said. They dared not stir
an inch beyond its boundaries; and within it, the Redifs who were
quartered upon them, ostensibly as protectors, but really as spies,
committed many horrible outrages.

They were continually pressed to surrender firearms, which they did not
possess. To satisfy the authorities, any pieces that could be found by
diligent search amongst the few who had dared to conceal them, were
given up; and this, much to his regret, was the fate of Jack's revolver.
Still the Turks persisted in the assertion that the Armenians had a
large number of Martinis, supplied to them by foreigners, and that these
must be produced before they could promise them security for their lives
and their possessions. Vain were their protestations that these Martinis
had no existence--that they had never even heard of them. In the end,
the persecuted community actually _purchased_ arms from the Turks
themselves, which they then gave back to the Government. This might
appear at first a mere trick of the officials, to secure a trifle of
dishonest gain. It was much more; it was part of the subtle, skilful,
elaborate plan by which a net was drawn around the doomed race, and they
were made to appear, in the eyes of those who might have befriended
them, as the doers, not the sufferers, of violence. In a European
newspaper, English or German, the transaction might have read thus: "At
Urfa, a town on the Euphrates (_sic_), a disturbance was caused by the
Armenians, who attacked a party of zaptiehs as they were conveying a
prisoner to the guard-house. They overpowered the zaptiehs, and killed
the prisoner, against whom they had a grudge. Some rioting ensued;
shops were plundered, and several persons, both Mussulmans and
Armenians, were killed. But the Armenians having surrendered their
fire-arms, and being restricted, for the present, to their own Quarter,
order and tranquillity have now been completely restored, through the
firmness of the Government." This was the sort of thing John Grayson
might have been reading if he had stayed in England. He would probably
have dismissed the subject with the careless comment, "People are always
fighting and killing each other in those out-of-the-way places," and
turned with quickened interest to the great cricket match on the next
page.

But now he was himself in the midst of the agony, which made all the
difference. He was shuddering and starving with the thousands packed
together in those close, unhealthy streets. At first a danger threatened
them, almost as terrible as the sword of the Turk. The water of the
fountains they used came to them through the great ancient Aqueduct; and
this supply the Turks could, and did, cut off. But there were, in their
Quarter, some old, unused wells, which they cleaned out and made
available, though the water obtained in this way was neither pure nor
healthful. Their stores of rice, bulghour, and other kinds of food,
which happily they had just laid in for the winter, were husbanded with
all possible care.

Jack took an active share in everything that was done. His leisure time
he employed in learning Turkish; for he saw how greatly his own and
Shushan's dangers, on their journey, had been increased by his want of
it. It was not a difficult task; many Turkish words and phrases, which
were in common use, he already knew; the Turkish language moreover is
very poor and scanty, containing, it is said, not more than seven
hundred really indigenous words.

He continued to live with the Vartonians; and indeed the whole Meneshian
family contrived to stow itself away in their large and hospitable
house, with the exception of the wounded Boghos, now slowly recovering,
and his wife, who remained for the present with the Selferians.

It was thought that Thomassian might have received some of the
Meneshians, as they were his kinsmen also; but his mind at this time
seemed to be wholly absorbed in grief for the destruction of his
property. His large, well-stocked shop had been looted; and fresh stores
coming to him from Aleppo had been intercepted and seized. Unhinged by
these catastrophes, and by the apprehension of worse to come, he fell
into a state of morbid depression. He used to rouse himself however to
take part in the meetings for consultation which were held, with many
precautions, by the Armenian "Notables"; and he often gave very good and
sensible advice. He was not fond of giving anything else.

"'Tis making a hole in the water to ask _him_ to do anything for you,"
said the younger Vartonians. "But he might comfort himself, under his
losses, with the thought that the Turks are sure to poison themselves
with some of his drugs, not knowing the use of them."

Communication with the Mission House had now become very difficult,
though the Armenians knew that their friends were still in safety there.
It was no longer practicable to hold service in the Protestant church;
so Jack's opportunities of seeing Shushan, and Kevork's of seeing Elmas,
were no more. Miss Celandine however contrived occasionally, through her
zaptiehs, to send news of Shushan to Jack, and to get tidings in return
for her, of him and of her family. In this way she informed him also
that she had not yet succeeded in obtaining her passport. The Pasha made
fair promises; but continually put off the granting of her request on
the plea of the disturbed condition of the country.

The Gregorians still assembled, very constantly, for the prayer they so
much needed, in their great Cathedral; and it was before or after these
services that they used to deliberate together on the state of affairs.

In one of these consultations they were lamenting, as they often did,
the impossibility of sending news of their condition to those outside
who might help them. Post and telegraph were closed to them; and, as
they surmised, to Miss Celandine also. Two or three messengers, with
letters concealed about them, had gone forth secretly, and at terrible
risk, but they had never been heard of again. The presumption was that
they had fallen into the hands of the Turks. What more could the
Armenians do?

Then John Grayson rose up in his place, between Kevork and Avedis, and
these were the words he said,--

"Friends, I will be your next messenger. Will you trust me?"

A murmur of astonishment ran round the assembly. The personal friends of
Jack, and they were many, began to protest against his exposing himself
to so great a danger; and indeed every one thought his life too valuable
to be lightly risked.

"What would my sister say?" Kevork whispered.

And Jack answered, "She would say, 'Der-ah haadet allà' (The Lord be
with you)." Then raising his voice, "It is the best way all round, if
you will look at it. You need not endanger me or yourselves by writing
anything; for I know all, and can tell it. If I am caught, I have still
a good chance of escape; for I will tell the Turks I am an Englishman,
and that they touch me at their peril."

"They will not believe you, and you have no proof to offer," said old
Hohannes, with a face of much concern, for he loved Yon Effendi as a
son.

"I _have_ proof, father. I can speak and write English for their
edification, and talk big about Consuls and International Law, and the
power of England. Whereas, if I am _not_ taken, the gain is great. An
Englishman who has seen what I have, can say things the English--and the
rest of the world--ought to hear, and there is none to tell them."

"Amaan! That is true," several voices said.

"And do not forget, for _I_ do not," Jack went on, "what I stand to win.
Once free, I think I can help myself, and you too, far better than by
staying here. If it were to abandon you, I would never go. Here or
there, I mean to see this thing through with you. But it seems to me
that I can do more, just now, there than here."

"How will you disguise yourself?" some one asked.

"I can wear the Kourdish dress that served me coming here."

"But you do not know the country," another objected.

"As far as Biridjik I know it well. Trust me to find out the rest."

Finally, Jack's proposal was agreed to by all; except indeed by
Hohannes, who kept silence, but did not change his mind. The meeting
broke up, as soon as the heads of it had arranged for Jack to come to
them at a later hour, to receive messages and other instructions for his
dangerous mission.

As they went out together, Kevork laid his hand on his shoulder:
"Brother," he said, "do you not desire to see Shushan again before you
go? I think it might be managed for you, with backsheesh to the
zaptiehs."

Jack thought a moment; then he answered with a decided "No. We have had
our farewells," he added. "It is best not to alarm her." In his own
heart he said, "I had rather keep the last words she spoke to me, 'The
cross of Christ has been laid upon us together. Nothing can part us
after that!'" But he took his father's note-book, the one precious relic
that remained to him, wrote a few tender words in it, wrapped it up
carefully and gave it to Kevork to give her, in case anything happened
to him.

At the later consultation it was decided that Jack should not wear the
Kourdish dress: it was thought he could not keep up the character
sufficiently to disarm suspicion. A proposition that he should go
dressed _à la Frank_ was negatived also, since a person so attired would
never be found travelling alone. At last a disguise was found for
him,--the dress of an Armenian peasant of the very humblest class, a
countryman. It was hoped that the appearance of utter poverty and of
ignorance might secure his safety.

It was December now, and the nights were dark, as dark as they ever are
in that southern land. There are many places in which the ancient wall
of Urfa is much broken down, in some it is only three feet high, with
stones and rubbish and broken masonry all about. Stealthily and
noiselessly Jack crept towards one of these. There was no difficulty in
getting over the wall, but then at the other side there was a natural
rock to be descended--almost a precipice. This also however the agile
youth accomplished, and stood in safety at the bottom. His next
difficulty was to elude the Turkish patrol, which passed frequently
during the night. Seeing it at a distance, he laid himself down quite
flat amongst the stones, until the men had passed, and everything was
perfectly quiet. Then he cautiously set out upon his journey, passing
through fields and vineyards, and striking into the Roman road where he
had ridden with Shushan three months before. Although the weather was
now cold, he intended to travel by night, and rest during the day, in
order to minimize the dangers of discovery.

Yet, three hours later, the die was cast, and his fate was sealed. A
party of Turkish horsemen, who were conveying some prisoners into the
town, saw at a distance in the morning light his dark figure thrown out
by the white path behind him. He knew they had seen him, but there was
no place near where it was possible to conceal himself, so his only
chance was to pass on boldly in his assumed character.

The captain of the troop took little heed of him, just flinging him a
curse in passing as one beneath his notice. Unhappily, amongst the band
of wretched prisoners--all the more wretched for having had to keep up
on foot with the riding of the Turks--Jack saw a face he knew, Der
Garabed, the priest of Biridjik. No fear of consequences could keep the
look of grief and pity out of his eyes. It was observed, as also was the
captive's quick glance of recognition, changed though it was immediately
into the dull, vacant stare his race have a wonderful power of
assuming.

The Captain gave a rapid order, and Jack was surrounded and seized.
Asked what his name was, he answered boldly, "John Grayson. I am an
Englishman."

This was received with a shout of laughter. "By the Prophet, a likely
story!" the Captain said. "English Effendis do not go about the country
alone and in rags. More probably a Zeitounli prowling about to stir up
rebellion."

"I can prove my words," Jack said. "I am an Englishman. I put on this
dress to get down to the coast in safety, as the country is disturbed. I
have never been in Zeitoun. I can prove what I am. Those who hurt the
English have to pay for it. Those who help them get well paid
themselves, in good medjidis."

The last word had rather a softening influence. "Of what religion are
you?" the Captain asked.

"Of the religion of the English," Jack answered promptly. The Captain
hesitated for a moment.

"Captain," shouted a Turk from his following, "the Giaour is lying. He
is no English Effendi, but an Armenian of Urfa. I saw his face that day
there was fighting. He had a revolver in his hand, and shot true
Believers with it."

"Is that so? Then he goes to the Kadi," said the Captain, his momentary
hesitation at an end. "Bind him, men, in the Name of Allah, the
Merciful. You are an impudent liar, like all your race," he said to
Jack, turning away with a curse.

Jack hoped he might be able to speak to the priest; but this boon was
denied him. He was placed at the other end of the file of captives. The
man to whom he was bound seemed either afraid, or too thoroughly crushed
and dejected to speak to him. His own state of mind was not enviable.
His first feeling was that he had failed. He meant to do such great
things; he had gone forth full of hope and courage, as one who should
work a great deliverance in the earth. And now?--and now?--What would
they all feel, all the friends who loved and trusted him so? They would
be waiting, wondering, speculating about his fate. Their anxiety would
change into suspense, their suspense would deepen at last into sad
certainty. Yet, most likely, there would be none to tell of his fate.
And Shushan? The thought of her sorrow swallowed up all other thoughts,
all other regrets. And Shushan? For her dear sake he would not give up
hope, he would struggle on even to the end. His English name and his
English race might save him yet.

Not likely, after those fatal shots. Meanwhile, at the present moment,
where was he? Whither was he going? All the stories which, in the last
five years, he had heard spoken with bated breath of the horrors of
Turkish prisons rushed like a sea of bitter waters over his soul. They
brought with them a sensation absolutely new to him--utter, unreasoning,
overpowering _fear_. Terror and anguish took hold on him; large drops,
like the touch of cold fingers, stood upon his forehead; he shivered
from head to foot. He had faced death before this, and it had seemed to
him but a light thing. "After that, no more that they can do." After
that; but how much before--oh, God of mercy, how much before!

All at once Stepanian's voice seemed sounding in his ears. "You must
trust God utterly." Wherever they might bring him, whatever they might
do with him, _God would be there_. He could not get out of that
Presence, nor could they. A thrill shot through him of hope restored and
strength renewed; a vision of conflict over, and victory won at last. As
a cry "unto One that hears," his prayer went up: "Oh, God of my fathers,
I beseech Thee, suffer me not through any pains of death to fall from
Thee. Suffer me not to deny my faith, nor yet to accuse my brethren, in
the Name of Christ, my Redeemer!"

While he thought of God he was calm. When he thought of his chances, of
what might happen to him, of whether any one would believe his story,
the dark fears came again. Even of Shushan it did not do to think too
much just now--he could only commend her to God. Constitutionally, he
was brave and fearless. But to think of a Turkish prison without
shuddering requires much more than constitutional bravery,--either
nerves of adamant, or faith to remove mountains. Perhaps not either,
perhaps not both together could prevent the anguish of anticipation,
whatever strength might be given for actual endurance.

Back again in Urfa, and at the Government House where he had seen Melkon
witness his brave confession, Jack found that his story would not be
listened to for a moment. Some of the captives were taken away, he knew
not whither; others, along with himself, were led within the gloomy
gates of the prison, and after passing through several dark passages,
thrust into a room or cell. As well as he could discern by the light
that streamed from a narrow window high up in the wall, this cell was
already full--nay, crowded--men standing packed together as those who
wait for a door to open and admit them to some grand spectacle. "I
suppose," he thought, "they will take us out by-and-by for some sort of
trial. But what stifling, foetid, horrible air! Enough to breed a
pestilence!"

It was utterly impossible to sit down, difficult even to raise a hand
or move a foot, so dense was the crush. Occasional thrills through the
living mass told that some wretch was making a frantic effort to get a
little air, and thus increasing the misery of his neighbours. Jack
contrived to say to a companion in misfortune, whose ear touched his
mouth, "How long will they keep us here?"

At first the only answer was a mournful "Amaan!" followed by piteous
groans.

He repeated the question--"How long will they keep us in this horrible
place?"

"As long as they can," gasped the man he had addressed;--"until death
sets us free.--Why not?--It is the prison."

But another hissed into his ear, "No; it is hell--_hell_."

"'If I make my bed in hell, behold Thou art there,'" John Grayson
thought. With a brave effort to cling to his Faith and his God, he said
aloud, "God is here. Let us cry to Him."

"God has forsaken us," said the last speaker; but from two or three
others came the feebly murmured prayer, "Jesus, help us!" "Jesus, help
us!"

Time passed on. Jack would have given all the wealth he could claim in
England, were it here and in his hand, simply for one square yard of the
filth-stained ground beneath his feet to rest upon. It was long since
every limb had ached with intolerable weariness; now the dull ache was
succeeded by shooting, agonizing pains. He was too sick for hunger, but
the thirst was terrible, and the sense of suffocation came in spasms
that made him want to tear a passage with teeth and nails through the
living mass about him. Once the pressure, becoming heavier, made him try
to look round. Near him a man had swooned. Was it a swoon, or was it
death? He caught a glimpse of the livid face between two others; for
there was no room for the fainting, or even for the dead, to fall.

Time passed on. He felt his strength forsaking him. He tried to speak,
but his voice sounded hollow and unlike itself. Was he dying? He thought
this numbness and faintness might mean _that_; but then perhaps the wish
was father to the thought. He was young and strong, and such do not
quickly die.

Time passed on. Shushan was in his thoughts continually, with the
wish--with the prayer often--that she might never know. Thank God--there
was something to thank God for even here--she did not know now! Miss
Celandine would take care of her,--and sometime, somewhere, when all
this agony was over, they would meet again. Was _this_ the cross of
Christ?

Time passed on. The numbness in his limbs increased. He began to lose
himself a little now and then. He was at Pastor Stepanian's church--in
Biridjik--in England even; then he would come suddenly back again, with
a thrill of anguish, to the horrible present. Yet he was not dying, he
was not fainting even; strange to say, he was only falling asleep. Even
upon the cross, men have slept. At last no more light came in through
the little grated window. It was night.

Time passed on. A sounder slumber than before came mercifully to steep
his senses in oblivion. He was in England, in his old home. In the
orchard was one particular tree he used to be very fond of climbing, in
spite of his father's warning, "Take care, my boy, you will break your
bones some day." He thought now that he had fallen from the highest
branch, and was laid on his bed, a mass of fractures and bruises,
calling on the surgeons, whose faces he saw distinctly, to give him
chloroform--anything to stop the pain, and bring unconsciousness. Was he
crying out at the pitch of his voice, and doing shame to his manhood?

He awoke in horror. Shriek after shriek, though not from _his_ lips,
rent the midnight air. To those who only know what the human voice can
do by the cries of childish pain or fear, a strong man's shriek of
agony is an unimaginable horror.

"Oh, what is it?" Jack cried aloud, his own voice a wail.

"Some one is being tortured in the next cell to this," a weary,
indifferent voice made answer.

The shrieks went on, interspersed with short intervals of silence, and
with deep, heavy groans. There were words too, heard more or less
distinctly, cries for mercy, agonized prayers. Then in a higher key, "I
know nothing--nothing. You are killing me." And again, "Kill me, in the
name of God. I implore of you to kill me!" Once more, as if flung out
with all the remaining strength of dying lips, "No!--No!--No!--No!"

"It is only," said the man who had spoken last, "some one who refuses to
accuse his friends."

"God help him!" Jack murmured feebly. For a little while the cries died
away; then they began again, culminating in a shriek so appalling that
Jack's senses failed him with the horror, and at last unconsciousness
took him out of his misery.

A waft of cooler air revived him. When he came to himself, he lay
amongst a number of fallen or falling bodies. Then some one was dragging
him along, as it seemed, through some passage towards the light. "Where
am I?" he asked, trying mechanically to shake off the hand that held
him. Then he saw that he was between two zaptiehs, who were laughing at
his feeble efforts to get free. He thought it very likely they were
going to kill him, and he did not care.

Yet their intentions did not seem at the moment particularly cruel. One
of them pointed to a place near the wall, and told him to sit down and
rest; the other fetched him a cup of water, incomparably the most
delicious draught he had ever tasted. Then they half led, half dragged
him into an open court, where many other prisoners were waiting.

He looked on dreamily while several of these were led up to the Kadi,
who sat in state on the divan at the end of the room, and after a brief
examination, sometimes a few words only, were led away again by the
zaptiehs. At last his own turn came. He could manage to stand alone now,
though he still felt confused and bewildered.

He was asked his name, and he gave it in full. But here strength and
memory seemed to fail him together. He knew there was _something_ he
wanted to say, but he could not remember what it was. He looked around
him blankly, helplessly--and the next moment would have fallen to the
ground, if one of the zaptiehs had not caught him and held him up.

The next thing he heard was the voice of the Kadi addressing him again.
"Listen," said the zaptieh; "His Excellency condescends to enquire if
you are a true Believer."

"I am," said Jack.

"Are you then of the creed of Islam?"

He stood up straight, and looked the Kadi in the face. "No," he
answered.

"Will you become a convert to the creed of Islam?"

"No," he said again.

"Since we are inclined to mercy, we will give you a week to think the
matter over. After that, if you refuse again, you must die."

"I had rather you would kill me at once," Jack said.

"It is not the will of Allah," the Kadi replied. "Guards, take the
prisoner away."

He was led presently to another dungeon, where at least there was room
to stretch his weary, aching limbs at full length on the ground; and
where, from utter exhaustion, he almost immediately fell asleep.



Chapter XVI

"THE DARK RIVER TURNS TO LIGHT"

     "The thousands that, uncheered by praise,
     Have made one offering of their days;
     For Truth's, for Heaven's, for Freedom's sake,
     Resigned the bitter cup to take,
     And silently, in fearless faith,
     Bowing their noble souls to death."


John Grayson awoke from his long sleep. Though still aching all over, he
was much refreshed and strengthened. Nature was putting forth her
recuperative powers in his young and vigorous frame. For a while he lay
quite still. The light was dim, the ground beneath him foul and muddy;
and he could see nothing, not even a mat, in the way of furniture. But
he soon became aware that he was not alone. There were several persons
in the room, or cell, and they were conversing together in low tones,
mingling their words with many a sigh, and many a murmured "Amaan!" or
"Jesus, help us!" One spoke of his large family of little children--how
hard to leave them destitute! Another of his wife; a third of his aged
father, who was blind; a fourth of his brothers and sisters; and in him
Jack recognised the voice of a friend of the Vartonians, who had been
away at the vineyards when the storm burst upon his people.

He raised his head. "Is that you, Kaspar Hohanian?" he asked.

"Djanum!" cried the young man, coming towards him and looking at him
attentively. "Friends, this is Yon Effendi, the Englishman who married
Oriort Shushan Meneshian."

Most of the twelve or fifteen prisoners who were shut up there together
knew his story, and all gathered round him with sympathy and interest.
In the awful strain of their position any momentary distraction was a
relief. "How had he come there?" they asked. It happened that they had
all been imprisoned before he set out on his desperate errand: some,
like Kaspar, had been found outside the Armenian Quarter; others had
been arrested by the Redifs, on various pretexts, within it. But Jack,
before he told his story, asked if they could give him any food, for he
was exhausted with hunger. All they had to offer was a piece of hard
black bread, defiled by the mud and filth into which it had been
purposely thrown by their jailors; and a draught of water, by no means
either clean or fresh. But even for these he was very thankful, and ate
and drank with eagerness.

Kaspar Hohanian quoted to him a proverb of their race. "'Eat and drink,
and talk afterwards,' says the Turk. 'Eat and drink, and talk at the
same time,' says the Armenian."

"At all events, while I eat you can talk to me," Jack said, with his
mouth full. "Your people thought you were dead, Baron Kaspar."

"The Turks killed all my companions--oh, and so cruelly!" he answered
with a shudder. "But an acquaintance I had among them persuaded them,
instead of killing me at once, to tie me to one of the tall, upright
tombstones in their cemetery outside the gate. Their thought was to
leave me there to die of hunger; my friend's, as he whispered, was to
come back at night and release me. But, Amaan! the patrol came along
before he did, took me, and brought me here. And now I have a week given
me to choose between Islam and death. It is hard."

They were all, as it seemed, in like case, only the period of respite
varied a little. Meanwhile, it relaxed the intolerable tension of their
thoughts, and wiled away a few weary hours, to tell and to hear each
other's histories. Jack accordingly gave his, expressing sorrow for the
fate of Der Garabed, the priest of Biridjik, and asking if any one
present knew anything about him.

No one did; and while they were discussing the matter, the prison door
was opened, and another captive led--or rather thrust--in, to join their
mournful company. He was a man of middle age, good-looking, and well
dressed in European fashion. But his head was bowed down and his fez
pulled low over his face, his arms hung helplessly by his side, and his
whole manner and bearing showed the most utter dejection.

Jack sprang up and came to him at once, with an exclamation of pity and
sorrow. "Baron Muggurditch Thomassian!" he said.

"Don't speak to me!" said Thomassian, turning on him a look of
unutterable anguish.

He went to the most distant corner of the prison, the rest making way
for him. No one ventured to approach him with enquiries or condolences,
though they all knew him by sight, and several were amongst his
acquaintances.

He sat down--or rather, lay down--upon the ground, and turned his face
towards the wall.

Low, furtive whispers passed among the others.

"So much to lose. What can all his money do now?"

"Better had he shown mercy and given to the poor."

But these were quickly hushed, lest he should overhear. They did not
want to hurt the feelings of the unhappy man, whom indeed they would
have gladly comforted, if they had known how. But, as this seemed
impossible, they left him to himself; and their talk soon wandered back
to their own situation, and the momentous choice that was set before
them.

Some were steadfast and comparatively serene. Others wavered, and two or
three seemed disposed to give way. All prayed much and often. Most of
them could sing, and, led by a few of the braver spirits, they made the
gloomy walls resound with Psalms and hymns, especially with that
favourite of the Armenians,--


     "Jesus, I my cross have taken."


Once John Grayson's voice broke down in singing it, for he heard Shushan
saying to him, "The cross of Christ has been laid on us together." Only,
if it could be, that he might bear the heaviest end, and that she need
never know of all this!

Meanwhile, Thomassian never spoke, and scarcely ever moved from the
place where he sat, or lay, his face turned away from the rest. He ate
little, and they could not see that he slept. Once or twice they noticed
that his tears were falling silently. But not even a groan or sigh told
of the anguish of his soul.

The days seemed unending, but still they drew towards an end. Ay, and
far too quickly for those who looked forward with unutterable dread to
what was to come after! The only breaks in the monotony were the
jailor's daily visits with bread and water. Generally he came and went
without a word; but on the evening of their last day of grace he broke
the silence.

"You Giaours had better be learning your 'La illaha ill Allah'
to-night," he said, "for if you have not got it off by to-morrow
morning, you die like the dogs you are."

Then he shut the door, and left them to themselves.

There was a long silence, only interrupted by a few sorrowful "Amaans!"

It was broken at last by the youngest in the room, a lad of some
eighteen years. "I would not be afraid," he said plaintively, "if I
thought they would kill us at once. Were it only a shot or a
sword-thrust, that were easy to bear. But to be killed slowly--cut in
little pieces--or perhaps like some----"

"Hush, boy!" Kaspar Hohanian interrupted. "Whatever they do to us, it
must be over sometime. And then--there is heaven beyond."

"Ay," said an older man, "there is heaven for _us_, after a brief agony.
But, friends, we have not ourselves alone to think of; there are our
wives and children."

"True," another chimed in; "if we die, they starve."

"If we die, they do worse than starve," the former speaker resumed. "To
_what_ fate do we leave our women, our girls? You know it _all_,
brothers. Whereas, if we turn Moslems, they will be safe, and under
protection."

"You are speaking well," observed a third. "And I cannot think, for my
part, that the Lord Jesus will be angry with us when He knows all. Has
He not given us our families to take care of? Does not His holy Apostle
say in his Letter, 'If any provide not for his own, and specially for
those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an
infidel'? If we _must_ deny the faith, and be infidels, it seems as well
to do it one way as another."

"And I have my old father to think of; he will die of grief," a sad
voice murmured.

"'He that loveth father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and
he that loveth son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me,'" said
another voice, unheard till then amongst them. Thomassian rose up in his
place, and looked around him on the group. His whole appearance was
changed--transfigured; his look firm and fearless, his eyes shining as
if with some inner light.

"My brothers," he said, "you think I have no right to speak to you, that
it ill becomes _me_ to take upon my lips the words of my Lord and
Saviour. And you think that which is true."

"No, no," murmured two or three, unwilling, in that supreme hour, to
give pain to a fellow-sufferer.

But Kaspar said more frankly, "To confess the truth, we none of us
thought you were a religious man, Baron Thomassian."

"I was _not_. I lived for the things seen, not for the things unseen,
which are eternal. Very early I said to myself, 'I am an Armenian, one
of an oppressed, down-trodden race. I cannot rise, make a mark in the
world, and win its splendid prizes. Yet I have brains. I have the power
to will, to plan, to execute. What can I do?' There was but one
answer--'I can get wealth, and wealth means safety, enjoyment,
influence.' So I tried to get wealth, and I got it by honest industry.
At least in the beginning, my hands were clean enough. I prospered; I
surrounded myself with comforts, with luxuries. I took to wife a lady,
whom--God help me!--I love as truly as any man among you loves his own.
But--ah me!--I forgot God."

"So no doubt have we all, some more, some less," said Kaspar Hohanian.

"If there is any one here who feels _that_, let him look up and take
comfort," Thomassian went on, "for not one among you has gone from Him
so far as I. But, though I forgot Him, He has remembered me. I was led
on from one thing to another; until, for the sake of gain, I did some
things of which the thought can sting me even now. I was hard upon the
poor, and upon my debtors. I did wrong in various ways, and even to some
who trusted me. Mr. John Grayson, you are one of those I wronged."

Jack started at the unexpected utterance of his name.

"It is no time now to think of wrongs," he said.

"No, for him who has suffered--yes, for him who has done the wrong.
After that time I saw you in Biridjik, I went indeed to Aleppo, but I
did not take your letter with me, nor did I speak for you to the Consul.
For he and I, just then, were at daggers drawn. I had used his name and
influence, and the presence of his dragoman, to pass through the Custom
House some prohibited drugs. He was angry, and with reason. I did not
dare to face him. I wanted to be rid of your letter, for fear of
complications; so I just dropped it into the post office at Tel Bascher,
where I have little doubt it lies until this day."

"Then my friends have _not_ been false to me," Jack said, much moved.
"And, if my letter had come to them, they might have saved me--and
Shushan," his heart added.

Thomassian came over close to him, and stretched out his hand. "Can you
forgive me?" he asked.

Jack was silent for just a moment. Then he said slowly, "'_As_ we
forgive them that trespass against us.' Yes, Baron Thomassian, I _do_
forgive you, in His name whom we hope so soon to see." "But, oh! how I
wish you had spoken!" he could not help thinking, tho' he crushed back
the words in time. "Don't think it would have made a difference," he
said. "I _do_ forgive you, with all my heart."

"It might have changed everything, or it might not," Thomassian said
mournfully. "I have no power now to undo that wrong, or any of the
others I have done. Friends, while I sat in silence yonder, my face
turned from you all, the sins of my whole life came upon me. They swept
over my head like black waters, they seemed to choke my very life out.
The thought of death was terrible. I _could_ not die, and go into God's
presence thus. And yet, to give up my faith would only be to add another
sin, and one for which there is no pardon."

"Oh, no!" Jack threw in. "That is too hard a saying."

"Surely," Thomassian said, "if you go away from the light, you must
remain in darkness; if you go away from the Christ, you must remain
unforgiven. That was what I came to in those days of anguish. I thought
I _could_ not let Christ go. I know now it was Christ that would not let
me go. My brothers, all that time that I lay silent there, not joining
in your prayers, your hymns, your counsel-taking, my whole heart has
been one desperate cry to Him, 'Oh, Christ, forgive me! Even now, at
this eleventh hour, take my spoiled life, and receive me into Thy
kingdom!'"

There was a silence.

"Has He heard?" Kaspar asked at last.

Thomassian bowed his head low, and veiled his face with both hands. "I
stand among you confounded and ashamed," he said.

"Because God was silent to you?" said the youth Dikran, in a pitying
voice.

"Because God was _not_ silent to me," Thomassian answered, removing his
hands, and turning on them a face full of awe-struck gladness, "because
to me--the last and least of you--to me, who had forgotten Him and
sinned against Him so, even to me He has revealed Himself."

"How?" asked two or three, drawing near him with looks of reverence.

"How, I cannot tell you. That may no man tell, or understand, myself
least of all. 'I called upon Thy name, oh Lord, out of the low dungeon.
Thou drewedst near in the day that I called upon Thee; Thou saidst, Fear
not.' After all, though no man may understand it, yet it is a very
simple thing. I, the worst among you, have taken God at His word, and
claimed His promise of forgiveness for the Lord Christ's sake. I had so
much to be forgiven, there was no other way. And He has forgiven. He has
done more; He has given peace, such peace as I could never dream of. I
am _glad_ to die for Him now. I have no fear of man--not from the fear,
but from the love of Him. Not because if I forsake Him He will forsake
me, but because I know He never will forsake me, neither in life nor in
death, nor in the life beyond."

There was silence when he ended. At last the oldest man amongst them
stretched out his hand to him and said, "Baron Thomassian, you have
taught us a lesson."

"You are better than the rest of us," another said impulsively.

"Better? No; worse, a thousand times. Not worthy to stand amongst you as
one of Christ's martyrs. But since He has this joy to give to me, the
last and least, think what gifts He must have for _you_, His true and
faithful servants!"

"Certainly He will not forsake us in the hour of death," Kaspar said.
"Baron Thomassian, I take this answer of God to your prayer as a token
of good for us all."

"My mind is made up," said a quiet, elderly man, who had not spoken
hitherto. "Let them do their worst. I stand by the Lord Christ; and I
trust the Lord Christ to stand by me."

Then Dikran, the youngest of them all, spoke up too. "I think it is
scarce so hard for me as for the rest of you. For I am an orphan, and my
only brother was killed in the fighting two months ago. All through, it
was not death, it was agony I feared. But now, I know Christ will help
me through that."

"And He will care for those we leave after us," another said in a low
voice.

"Yon Effendi, _you_ have not spoken yet," said Kaspar.

John Grayson started, as if from a dream. "There is only one thing to
say," he answered firmly, "I stand by Christ."

"So likewise said they all." In prayer, and mutual counsel-taking and
encouragement the long night wore on. Amongst them all, there was only
one who slept. Worn out with his long and bitter conflict, and at rest
in the ineffable peace in which it ended, Thomassian fell into a
dreamless sleep, with his head pillowed on John Grayson's knee. Jack
himself feared to sleep, on account of the waking that must follow. He
prayed, thought of his past life, of his father and all his friends;
above all, of Shushan. Often his mind would wander for a little amongst
unconsidered, half-forgotten trifles, but it always turned back again to
the things which made its home.

The morning light stole at last through their narrow grated window.
Thomassian stirred, and sat up. He looked round upon them all with a
smile; but his eyes grew grave and full of thought as they rested on the
face of John Grayson, who, just then, was absorbed in what he thought
might be his last prayer for Shushan.

"Yon Effendi," he said, "are you ready to die?"

Jack looked at him steadily for a moment, then bowed his head in
silence.

"But you would rather live, if it were the will of God? Is it not so?"

"I do not seem to care _now_, not greatly," Jack said. "It seems easy to
die _now_, with you all. But"--his voice sank low--"but there is
Shushan."

"And if I can, in some slight measure, atone for the harm I have done
you, you will be glad, for her sake? But do not build on it--it is but a
chance. Rather, since there is no chance really, it will be as God
wills."

"Hush!" some one suddenly exclaimed.

The key was grating in the door. In another minute it was thrown open,
and the jailor entered. He did not waste words. "Come," he said.

The band of confessors rose to their feet, and looked one another in the
face.

"One moment, I pray of you," Kaspar said in Turkish to the jailor. Then
in Armenian, "Let us bid each other farewell."

"Not so," Thomassian answered, smiling. "It is not worth while, we shall
meet so soon with joy in the presence of our Lord."

As they went forth, John Grayson thought once more of the last words he
had heard his father say, "The dark river turns to light."

It was the morning of Christmas Day, 1895.



Chapter XVII

A GREAT CRIME

     "The clinging children at their mother's knee
     Slain; and the sire and kindred one by one
     Flayed or hewn piecemeal; and things nameless done
     Not to be told: while imperturbably
     The nations gaze, where Rhine unto the sea,
     Where Seine and Danube, Thames and Tiber run,
     And where great armies glitter in the sun,
     And great kings rule, and man is boasted free!"

     --_"The Purple East," by William Watson._


Meanwhile, over the crowd of anxious hearts the Mission House sheltered,
the sad days went slowly by. Shushan's fears for her husband could find
no relief, and they were intensified by apprehensions about her father,
of whose state disquieting rumours reached her. Her entreaties prevailed
on Miss Celandine to send a couple of her zaptiehs to ascertain the
truth. The zaptiehs brought back word that Boghos Meneshian was dying,
and prayed that his daughter might be allowed to come to him, in order
that he might give her his blessing. Miss Celandine sent her
accordingly, in the charge of a trusted Armenian servant, and with a
guard of four zaptiehs. This was early on the morning of Saturday, the
28th of December.

She was left by her escort at the house of the Selferians, where her
father had been staying, and was still supposed to be. The zaptiehs
promised to return for her in an hour. The Armenian said he would be
close at hand; he was going to see a friend in a neighbouring house.

"Oh, my dear Oriort Shushan," said Hanum Selferian, hurrying to meet
her, "in the name of God, what brings you here?"

Shushan looked at her in amazement. "I have come to see my father," she
said. "How is he?"

"Well enough, I suppose. He went to the Vartonians, cured, with your
mother, Mariam Hanum, about a week ago."

"Thank God!" said Shushan, drawing a long breath of relief. "They told
me he was dying."

"_Who_ told you such a story, my dear? He is dying as much as we all
are, no more."

Shushan felt surprised and uneasy, though she did not yet know, perhaps
she was destined never to know, that she was the victim of a plot. "It
may be," she said, a shadow crossing her face, "that they told me wrong
about the house. I ought to go to my cousins."

"What? through the streets? You cannot--not even if my husband went
with you. Besides, if the zaptiehs should come back, and find you gone?
No, Oriort Shushan; this is what we will do--my husband will go to the
Vartonians, and, if possible, bring your father to see you here."

"I like not to take him from his work, Josephine Hanum."

"What signifies his work? There is little enough to do here now, and
more than time enough to do it in."

Hagop Selferian, who was at work, stood up from his board, wiped his
brow, and threw on his jacket. "Yes, I will go," he said.

Shushan remained with the women and children, and shared the pillav that
formed their early meal, afterwards helping Josephine Hanum in her
pleasant household tasks.

But, as time passed on, she grew increasingly anxious. "I wonder the
zaptiehs do not come back," she said. It was now between ten and eleven
in the forenoon.

Josephine Hanum went to the window that looked out upon the street.
"There is no sign of them," she said. "But here comes my husband."

He crossed the court and came in, looking pale and frightened. "My
father?" Shushan breathed, only one cause of distress occurring to her
mind.

"He is well. But there is an army on the slope of the hill. In the
town, the minarets are black with men, and the roofs of the Turkish
houses with women and children. Jesus help us, what is going to happen?"

"I would give my right hand to have you back in the Mission House,
Oriort Shushan," said Josephine Hanum, looking at her guest in a sort of
despair. "Hagop, dost think thou couldst bring her there?"

Selferian shook his head. "It is not _my_ life I think of," he said.
"Wife, I met in the street that Syrian who used to work with me, Mar
Tomas. He had a black turban on, and was hurrying to his church. He is a
Roman Catholic, you know. It seems there is an order that all Christians
who are not Armenians are to go to their churches, and stay there all
the day. And they are not to let a single Armenian cross the threshold,
at their peril."

Here Krikor, the eldest boy, came running in. He had been up on the
roof. "Father, mother, come up," he said. "Come and look. Such a
wonderful sight you never saw!"

"A sight that bodes no good to us. What is it, boy?"

"Oh, so much, father! I could never tell you. Come and look."

All four mounted the stairs that led to the flat roof. The younger
children followed them, eager to see.

The slope of the hill above them glittered with Turkish and Kourdish
soldiers, the gay dresses of the latter lending animation to the scene,
and the swords and bayonets of all flashing in the sunlight. Every point
at which the Armenian Quarter could be entered bristled with soldiers
drawn up in battle array, while behind them surged and swayed a savage
mob, men and boys, and even young children amongst them. All were armed,
many with guns, the rest with daggers, knives or bludgeons. In the
Turkish Quarter the housetops swarmed with women; and above the confused
noises of the great city, above the hoarse murmurs of the soldiers and
the mob, was heard their peculiar throat-sound, called the Zilghit:
"Tchk, Tchk, Tchk, Tchk," which means, "Go, men, and fight for Mahomet.
We are with you."

White to the lips, Selferian turned to the women. "This means death," he
said.

As he spoke, a glittering crescent shone out on the fort above the hill,
catching the sunshine on its glassy disc. At the same moment, a green
flag appeared on a minaret at the opposite side of the Armenian Quarter.
From another minaret a Muezzin sang out over the town the Moslem call to
prayer,--

"La ilaha ill Allah, Mohammed resoul Oullah."

Then came the shrill blast of a trumpet, and Shushan, who was looking at
the troop of soldiers nearest them, saw them deliberately open their
ranks, and allow the mob behind to pass with them into the Armenian
Quarter.

All the family rushed down again from the roof. Selferian barred the
door, and his wife drew the shutters across the windows. The children
began to cry with terror; though, except Krikor, they scarcely knew what
they feared. Selferian's aged mother was there also, weeping and
wringing her hands.

Soon the sound of shots, the noise of hurrying feet outside, and the
shrieks and cries that filled the air, told that the killing had begun.

How is it with men and women, and little children, in these dire
extremities? Thank God that we do not know,--that we are never likely to
know!

"Oh God, do not let them kill us!" children sobbed in their terror. "Oh
God only let them kill us at once!" men and women prayed, their lips
white with a deadlier fear.

It was deliberate, organized, wholesale murder. First came the
soldiers--Zaptiehs, Redifs, Hamidiehs,--then the Turks of all classes,
especially the lowest, well furnished with guns and knives. Their
little boys ran before them as scouts to unearth their prey. "Here,
father, here's another Giaour," they would cry, espying some unhappy
Armenian in an unused well or behind a door. Then the Moslem, perhaps,
would put his knife or his dagger into the hands of his little son, and
hold fast the Giaour till the child had dealt the death blow, winning
thus, for all his future life, the honourable title of _Ghazi_. After
the murderers came the plunderers, a miscellaneous rabble, who took away
what they could, and destroyed the rest. They would heap the provisions
together in the midst of the living-rooms, mix them with wood and coal
and other combustibles, then pour kerosene on the mass, and set it on
fire.

The Vartonians, the Meneshians, and a few others, were gathered in the
courtyard of the large Vartonian house. The two families were all there,
except Baron Vartonian, who was still in Aleppo, old Hohannes Meneshian,
who happened to be visiting some friends, Kevork, who had gone in search
of him--and Shushan. They clung together, the women and children
weeping, the men for the most part silent in their terror. Above the
sorrowful crowd rose a voice that said, "Let us die praying."
Immediately all knelt down, and their hearts went up to heaven in that
last prayer, which was _not_ the cry of their despair, but the voice of
a hope that, even then, could pierce beyond the grave.

Thus the murderers found them, when they burst in the gate. Even in
their madness the sight arrested them--for one moment. So the Giaours
prayed! Then let them pray to Allah, and acknowledge His prophet, and
they might be allowed to live. Cries were heard, "Say 'La ilaha ill
Allah.' No, you need not speak. Only lift up one finger--we will take it
for 'Yes.'"

Brave answers rang through that place of death. "I will not lift up one
finger." "I will not become a Moslem." "I believe in God the Father
Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ----" Ere the
confessor could complete the sentence, he stood in the presence of Him
in whom he believed.

Boghos and Mariam Meneshian died in each other's arms, slain almost by
one stroke. Nor did Mariam greatly care to live, for she had seen Hagop,
her youngest born, slain first, clinging in vain to his father. Gabriel
remained; and something in the boy's look and attitude seemed to touch
the Moslems. They made a special effort to save him. "Only acknowledge
the prophet; only lift up your finger," they said.

The boy stood erect before them, and looked at them fearlessly, face to
face. "Am I better than my father, whom you have killed? Am I better
than my mother, whom you have killed, and who taught me the way of
holiness? No; I will _not_ become a Moslem, and deny my Lord and Saviour
Christ." And he tore his clothing open to receive the death blow. They
were angry enough now, far too angry to kill him at once. Blows and cuts
rained on him, till at last he fell at their feet, bleeding from one and
twenty cruel wounds.

It is enough. We can look no farther. "They had heaped high the piles of
dead" reads well in song and story; and it is not too horrible to think
of, when brave men fall in equal fight. But those slain, lying in their
blood, with their faces raised to the wintry sky,--it is best for us not
to see them. Not now. It may be we shall see them one day, when those
who were slain for the Word of God and the Testimony of Jesus Christ
have part in the First Resurrection.

In the large courtyard of another house near by, there were many men
together. The women of their families were gathered, for the most part,
in a great room looking out on the court. The men were trying to conceal
themselves, some in a disused well, some on the roof, some within the
house. One man, however, made no effort to escape. He stood calmly at
the top of the flight of steps which led to the room where the women
were. It was Stepanian, the pastor. By his advice, the gate of the
courtyard was left open, that the Turks might see they had no thought of
resistance.

The howling, shouting mob came near, and nearer still. They poured in
through the open gate; and, being men of the town, at once they
recognised the Pastor. "Here is Stepanian; let us make an end of him,"
was the cry.

"Fellow townsmen, you ought to spare us," he said, "for we have done you
no wrong. We are unarmed and defenceless, our little ones depend upon
us, and will be left to starve."

"Down with him!" cried the mob. "It is the will of Allah!" "Preach us a
sermon first," added a mocking voice in the crowd.

"Do not touch me here; I will come out to you," said the Pastor calmly,
and began to descend the steps.

But ere he reached the last, a shot went through his breast, and he
fell. No sound was heard, and no blood was seen.

Elmas, standing at the window, had witnessed all. Strong in her great
love, that frail girl went out amongst the murderous crowd, knelt down
beside her father, and put her hand upon his forehead.

He opened his eyes, looked up at her, and smiled.

"Father," she prayed, "father, speak to me! Only once; only one word
more!"

That word was given to him, and to her. "Fear not, the Lord is with you.
I have no fear, for I am going to my dear Saviour."

Again he closed his eyes, and in another moment, without struggle or
suffering, he saw Him face to face.

She "sat there in her grief, and all the world was dark--blank" (the
words are her own). She seemed to have no consciousness of the terrors
all around her. The first sound that touched her broken heart was the
wailing of her little brother, a babe of three, who wanted "father." He
had followed her down the steps. She took him in her arms, and held him
up that he might see. His sobs grew still at once. "Father is asleep,"
he said. So He giveth His beloved sleep.

Could they but have all lain down by his side and slept! But their rest
was yet to be won. More Moslems crowded into the yard, slaying all the
men they could discover. Then they seized the women, the girls, and the
children, tore off their clothing and their jewels, and drove them in
their midst as a flock of frightened sheep and lambs are driven to the
slaughter.

The last thing Elmas ever saw of that beloved form on the ground, was
that some Moslem had brought a mule, upon which he seemed about to place
it.

She was dragged from her dead father to the unutterable horror that
followed. Oh, that endless walk, with bare, bleeding feet, through the
blood-stained streets! Oh, the clinging hands, the terrified faces, the
piteous sobs and wailing of the children! Thus the crowd of women and
girls, almost without clothing, were paraded through the town between
files of brutal soldiers--and every now and then, some of them seized
and dragged away, in spite of their shrieks and cries. Vartan pushed his
way to his sister, and whispered, "Do not fear, Elmas. I have the knife
my father gave me hid in my zeboun. It will do to kill you."

That was all Elmas remembered afterwards with any clearness--that, and
the clinging of her baby brother's arms about her neck.

At last they came to streets that had no stain of blood, over which no
storm of agony had passed. They were in the Moslem Quarter. On and on
they went, until they reached the destined place--one of the great
mosques of the city, the Kusseljohme Mosque. The iron gates swung open
to receive them, and closed again on that mass of helpless misery,
shutting out all mercy, save the mercy of God.



Chapter XVIII

EVIL TIDINGS

     "It is not in the shipwreck or the strife
       We feel benumbed, and wish to be no more;
       But in the after-silence on the shore,
     When all is lost, except a little life."

     --_Byron._


John Grayson sat alone in his prison room. It was a very different
prison from the two he had known before--a room of convenient size,
fairly clean, with a divan along one side under the grated windows, a
mattress to sleep on, a rug, and several cushions. A comfortable
meal--almost untouched however--lay near him on a stool. Moreover, he
had been permitted a bath, and allowed to purchase clothing, anything he
wished. He had chosen to have an ordinary jacket and zeboun, and a
crimson fez.

He sat on the divan in an attitude of deepest dejection, his face
covered with his hands. Continually the scenes of four days ago were
passing through his mind, and before his eyes.

He saw them all again; he thought he should see them always, till his
life's end. The band of confessors were led out of prison; they stood
before the Turkish Kadi. A single question was put to them: Would they
become Moslems, or would they not? Thomassian, in every way the foremost
man amongst them, answered for the rest: "We follow Christ; we are ready
to die for Him." With one voice all signified their assent.

The executioner began with Dikran, the youngest. John Grayson veiled his
face, but not till he had seen too much. Could he ever cease to see it?
A deadly faintness swept over him, from which he was roused by
Thomassian's brave words of comfort and encouragement, spoken to the
victim: "Dear boy, be strong; it will soon be over! you will soon be
with Christ." Then came the poor lad's own murmured words of confession
and of prayer, ending at last with one strong, joyful "Praise to Jesus
Christ!"

John Grayson looked up again. It was time; he was wanted now. His turn
had come. At that supreme moment, faintness and sickness, and every
trace of fear, passed from him. One thought possessed him wholly--_God
was there_.

Yet, he could have shaken like a leaf at Thomassian's sudden call to the
executioners, "Hold, I have something to say!" Martyrdom could be
borne, but the moments of suspense that followed seemed the most
unbearable he had ever lived through. He heard Thomassian protesting,
"It will be on your peril if you touch this man. He is an Englishman; I
know it. He can prove it if you give him time; which, for your own
sakes, you ought to do."

Jack might have said this himself till he was hoarse, and the Turks in
their present state of frantic excitement would not have listened to,
still less have believed, him. It was different when a man of mark, a
"notable" like Thomassian, averred it solemnly and at the point of
death. Their orders not to kill foreigners were precise and stringent,
and hitherto had been wonderfully well obeyed. There might be trouble if
they were transgressed. Jack was informed that it was not the will of
Allah he should die that day; and, to his sorrow, was led away, without
seeing what became of his fellow captives.

He was transferred that evening to a comfortable room, and told he might
order any conveniences he desired and could afford. He begged to be told
the fate of his friends, and was informed that several of them had died
"with unparalleled obstinacy"; the rest were reserved for another time.

"Was Baron Thomassian amongst the dead?"

"No," said his informant, with an evil smile. He was much the worst,
and should stay till the last.

As for himself, what were they going to do with him?

Let the Effendi give himself no uneasiness on that score. His Highness
the Pasha had been informed of the circumstances, and would take care of
him. Probably he would send him, under a safe escort, out of the
country. But nothing could be done until order was restored, and the
town quiet. "Let the Effendi be patient, and put his trust in Allah. The
Effendi knew things had to go--_Jevash_--_Jevash_."

Jack was very miserable. How could he take pleasure in the comfort of
his surroundings, when he knew what his friends had suffered and were
suffering? Only for Shushan, he would not have cared at all to live. He
asked if Miss Celandine was gone yet.--No, not yet. There was some delay
about her passport, his informant thought. But no doubt all would be
ready soon, and she would go. Would the Effendi like to take exercise in
the prison court? If so, he was quite at liberty. No one wished the
Effendi to be incommoded; it was entirely for his own safety he was
placed under restraint, until the rebellion amongst the Armenians should
be put down.

Two long, slow days, Thursday and Friday, wore on. On Saturday morning
he was aware of some unusual excitement in the court of the prison. The
prisoners there, who were all Moslems, hung together in groups, talking
eagerly, and more than once a word reached his ears about "killing the
Giaours." Moreover, he heard shouts and cries from outside, increasing
gradually until the uproar became terrible. The extraordinary sound of
the "Zilghit" reached his ears, but he could not understand it.

The guards who brought him his food shared in the general excitement and
exhilaration. After returning their "salaams," he said casually, "It is
a fine day," to which one of them answered, "It will be a bad one for
the Giaours"; and the other added, "It will be wet in the Armenian
Quarter,--but the rain will be red."

He entreated them to tell him more; but they would not. Evidently they
had their orders. Did the Effendi want anything more? No. Then peace be
with him.

They departed, securing the door behind them, as he thought, with
unusual care.

Peace was _not_ with him. Instead of it, a fierce tumult raged in his
heart. On that strange Christmas morning, when he thought himself about
to die for the Name of Christ, there had been a calm over him which was
wonderful, "mysterious even to himself." The conflict was not his, but
God's. God had called him to it, and would bring him through. He was
very near him, and would be with him, even to the end.

But the chariots and horses of fire, which the prophet of old saw about
him, did not stay. When the hostile hosts departed, the resplendent
vision vanished too. Martyrdom at a distance, martyr strength seems at a
distance also; sometimes it even seems unimaginable. Patient, powerless
waiting is often harder than heroic doing or suffering. Perhaps the
hardest thing of all is to be brave and strong _for others_, when they
have the peril and the suffering, and we the bitter comfort of
compulsory safety.

But the longest day must end at last. Evening brought to John Grayson
the doubtful pleasure of a companion in misfortune. This was a handsome
young Turk, who seemed much amazed, and still more annoyed, at the
predicament in which he found himself. Paying little heed to his
companion, he walked up and down, cursing certain persons, apparently
his own kinsfolk, in the name of Allah and the Prophet, with true
Eastern volubility.

In one of these perambulations he accidentally kicked over Jack's tray
of food, and stopped to ask his pardon very politely, of course in
Turkish. "I think," he said, looking at him attentively, "I think you
are a Christian?"

"Yes," said Jack. "In fact, I am an Englishman; though I have been in
this country for some years."

"Oh! Then I suppose you are the Mr. Grayson I have heard my friends
speak of?"

Jack bowed, then added immediately, "I am unutterably anxious about dear
friends of mine who are in the Armenian Quarter. Can you tell me how it
has been with them to-day?"

The young man turned his face away and did not speak.

"For God's sake, say _something_," Jack cried; "say _anything_; only
tell me all!"

"It was the will of Allah," said the Turk.

"Have you killed them?" Jack gasped out.

"Yes, a great many. Chiefly men and boys. But I did not see the end.
That uncle of mine--Allah give him his deserts!--had me taken up and
clapped in here."

"What? For killing our people?"

The Turk stared. "That were merit," he said. "No; what I did was to
resist a soldier, a Hamidieh. In fact, I struck him. But what would you
have? A man must have friends." He sat down, and taking out his tobacco
pouch began leisurely to make cigarettes, apparently with the purpose
of restoring his calmness, imperilled by the thought of his wrongs. "The
matter was this," he resumed: "I passed by a long row of Giaours, fine
young men, lying on the ground with their throats cut. In one of them I
recognised a friend, and looking closer, saw he was not dead, for the
work had been very ill done. Just then this Hamidieh came by, and wanted
to finish him. Like a fool instead of giving him a couple of medjids, I
gave him the butt end of my gun. I took my friend to my house, and
thought no more of it; but, by the beard of the Prophet, what did that
rascal do but go and complain to his captain, who knows my uncle, and
must needs go to him? Then my uncle informs against me, and has me put
in here, to keep me out of mischief, as he says. Curse his mother, and
his grandmother, and his wife and his daughters, and all his relations,
male and female, unto the fourth and fifth generations!"

Apparently, the Turk forgot that amongst these relations he was cursing
himself.

Jack listened in horror. "Only tell me who are slain," he said. "How
many?"

"How should I tell that? I could only see what I saw with my own eyes."

"Do you know aught of the Meneshians?--or of the Vartonians?"

"Yes; I fear that all of both families are killed, with perhaps one
exception," he added slowly, stroking his beard. "I saw the mob burst
into their courtyard."

"Oh God, it is horrible!" Jack said with a groan, and covering his face.
After a while he spoke again. "The Stepanians?"

"Of them I know more. With my own hand I shot the Pastor."

Jack sprang on him, his eyes blazing, his hand at his throat. He had
nearly been a martyr, but he was an Englishman, and a very human
Englishman too.

"Let be," the Turk gasped, cool though choking. "A moment, if you
please."

Jack loosened his hold. "You can strangle me, of course, if such be the
will of Allah," the Turk continued. "But you may as well hear me first.
For, if you get free, you can tell your people the words of Osman."

"_Osman!_ Are you then the Turk I have heard the Pastor speak of so
kindly? That you should sit there before me, and tell me you have killed
him!--_killed him!_ How could you?"

"Can't you understand?" the Turk returned with an expressive look.
"There were his daughter and all his children looking on. His last
thought was for them. 'Do not touch me _here_,' he said. Was I going to
let them see him cut to pieces? At least, I could save him--and
them--from _that_. He had not a moment's pain."

Jack stretched out his hand to him impulsively, but drew it back again.
"I cannot touch your hand," he said; "but I can say from my heart, God
bless you!"

The Turk went on: "I could save the dead from insult, and I did. I
wanted to save the children too, and might have managed it, but for my
fool of an uncle."

"Is Miss Celandine--are the people with her in the Mission House all
safe?" Jack enquired. He had little doubt of it, yet he could not help
the beating of his heart.

"Oh, yes; they have a special guard of zaptiehs. Only an hour before the
killing began the Pasha sent to Miss Celandine, to say that now she
might leave the city; everything was safe and quiet. But she has not
gone. Perhaps she thought she could help the other Giaours by staying.
That however she cannot do. Even her own people are not safe beyond the
Mission premises. A young lady in her charge had gone into the town with
a guard of zaptiehs, to see her dying father at the house of one
Selferian. She never returned. Mehmed Ibrahim, who has long wanted her
for his harem, took care of that. In fact, I believe the summons to her
father was a pretence, and the whole thing a plot of his. I saw them
leading her away--_Allah!_"

With a cry of agony John Grayson fell senseless on the floor.

The Turk sat gazing at him, without stirring hand or foot. To use any
means for his restoration was the last thing he would have thought of.
Allah had stricken him, and Allah would restore his senses--when He
pleased. A logical Western might ask, why he did not reason thus in the
case of his Armenian friend, or of the Pastor and his family; but a
man's heart may be sometimes better than his logic.

Jack at last recovered consciousness and struggled to his feet.

Osman did not know the story of his marriage, but he drew his own
conclusions from what he saw "How hard you Franks take things!" he
remarked by way of consolation. "Now there are in the world a great many
girls, any of whom a man can marry, if he pleases."

"Don't," Jack said hoarsely.

"My dear fellow," the Turk went on kindly, "I am very sorry for you. See
the advantage it would be to you now, if you were only a true Believer.
We lose a wife, and we are very sorry--oh, yes! But then, you see, we
have so many, it is only just like losing a cow. There are others quite
as good."

Jack, fortunately, did not hear a word of this. He stood as one
bewildered; then made a sudden rush to the door, which he pulled and
shook with all his might.

"What are you doing?" asked the Turk serenely.

"I must get out!" cried Jack. "I must get out and save her."

"You cannot save her. She could not be more out of your reach if she
were up there in yonder sky. Take my advice, and be quiet. It is the
will of Allah."

"I must get out!" Jack shouted, once more shaking at the door.

"You had much better stay where you are. If you were out, you would do
something rash, and bring trouble on yourself."

"On _myself_?" Jack repeated in a voice of despair. "For myself, there
is no trouble any more."

"I could tell you how you might get out, if it were really good for
you," Osman mused; "but the truth is, I do not want more of you to be
killed. I am sick of all this misery and bloodshed."

"Osman Effendi, I think you have a kind and pitying heart; therefore I
pray you to help me now, and so may God help you if you ever come to a
bitter hour like this. I must get out, or I shall go mad."

"I wish I could do you a better service--but if you will try it, wait
until the morning light. Then the killing will begin again. They are
going to let the Moslem prisoners out that they may take part in it, and
thus deserve their pardon from God and the Sultan. Tell the jailor, when
he comes to us, that you want to walk in the courtyard. That he will
allow. Once there, you may be able to slip out unnoticed among the rest.
Take my scarlet fez instead of your crimson one, and see, here is a
green kerchief to tie over it."

"The fez I take, and thank you; the kerchief--no."

"As you please. I wish you well, Grayson Effendi, and if I can help you
in anything, I will. Should you want a refuge, come to my mother's
house. You know where it is. In fact, that is the best thing you could
do," he added. "My people will make it known you are an Englishman, and
then no one will even wish to hurt you. There will be a mark set upon
you, as it were."

"Ay," cried Jack wildly--"the mark of Cain--'lest any finding him should
kill him.' To save my own miserable life, and see all I love perish
around me! Is _that_ what it means, the mark of Cain? He saved himself,
others he did not save."

"I do not understand you."

"How should you? I don't understand myself. I think I am going mad. Only
I know it was not _that_ mark which was put upon her forehead and mine;
it was the cross of Christ, and that means just the contrary--'He saved
others, Himself He did not save.'"

The young Turk took the cigarette from his lips and stared at him,
wondering. Into his hard, black eyes there came for an instant a
perplexed, wistful look, like that of a dumb creature who longs and
tries to understand, but cannot pass the limitations of his being. At
length he said in a softened voice, "When I get out of this cursed
place, with the help of Allah and a handful of good medjids, I will try
to do what I can to help your people. But now it is the hour of prayer.
I will pray, and then try to sleep. Grayson Effendi, you ought to pray
too. It may be Allah the Merciful will hear you, though you do not
acknowledge His Prophet. He may remember you are a Frank, and make
allowance."

For John Grayson there was no prayer that night. His anguish was beyond
words; and as for tears, their very fount seemed dried up within him.
Even the simplest cry to God for help seemed to freeze upon his lips.
Where was the use of it? He had prayed with all his soul, and God had
_not_ heard.

How that long night passed, how he watched and waited for the morning,
none would ever know. The morning light came at last, though it brought
no joy with it. He continued however to hold off the anguish of his
soul, as it were at arm's length, while he made himself carefully up to
look as like a Moslem as possible, though avoiding the green _kafieh_
for conscience sake. Assuming a tone of indifference, he made his
request of the jailor, who, with his mind running on killing Giaours,
muttered a careless assent.

For a good while he lingered about the court, joining one group or
another so as to avoid suspicion. At last the prison gate was opened,
and, lost amidst a crowd of Moslem criminals, who were rushing out with
tumultuous joy to earn at the same time Paradise and pardon by killing
Giaours, John Grayson made his way into the street.



Chapter XIX

A GREAT CRIME CONSUMMATED

         "God's Spirit sweet,
         Still Thou the heat
     Of our passionate hearts when they rave and beat.
         Quiet their swell,
         And gently tell
     That His right Hand doeth all things well.

         "Tell us that He,
         Who erst with the Three,
     Walked (also) with these in their agony;
         And drew them higher
         And rapt them nigher
     To Heaven, whose chariot and horses are fire."

     --_C. F. Alexander._


Dread were the watches of that December night, amidst the unutterable
agonies of half a city. In the Armenian Quarter the only sleepers were
those--thrice happy!--who would never awake again--


     "Until the Heavens be no more."


They were very many, like the slain in some great battle that decides a
nation's destiny. They lay in heaps, in the open street, in the
court-yards, in the houses. Tearless, wild-eyed women, strong in the
strength of love, came and sought their own amongst them. Sometimes a
wife who found her husband, a mother who embraced her son, wept and
wailed and made sore lamentation, but for the most part they were still
enough. Sometimes they thanked God that they had found them--_there_.

It went worse with those who sat in their desolate homes, and watched
the slow ebbing, often in cruel anguish, of the lives they loved. The
number of the wounded and the dying was enormous. For one thing, the
murderers were unskilful, for another they were often
deliberately--_diabolically_--cruel. Moreover, it was better economy to
hack a Giaour to pieces with swords or knives than to shoot him, since
every bullet cost two piastres!

It went worse still with the women, the girls, the little children even,
who were dragged to the mosques and shut up there, in hunger, cold, and
misery, until the murderers of their fathers, their husbands and
brothers had leisure to come and take them, and work their will upon
them. Oh God of mercy and pity, that these things should be in this
world of Thine!

Had He quite forsaken Urfa? Not always, standing outside the Furnace,
can we see therein the Form of One like unto the Son of God. _In the
Furnace_, men know better.

That night, in the vast Gregorian Cathedral, a great congregation met.
Many, no doubt, came there as to a place of refuge, hoping that even
Moslems would respect that sacred spot. But many more came to worship,
perhaps for the last time, in the courts of God upon earth. A band of
heroic Gregorian priests--men who were ready to be offered, and who knew
that the time of their departure was at hand--made of this last service
a solemn and sacred feast. They showed forth the Death of their Lord,
giving the Bread and the Wine, which He ordained for all time as its
hallowed memorials, to the kneeling, awe-struck multitude. Men, and
women, and little children, thinking thus upon His Death for them, were
strengthened to meet death for Him in faith and patience. On one of the
pillars of that church, now in ruins, some hand, now cold in death, has
traced the record that eighteen hundred persons partook of that solemn
Sacrament. Never again should they eat of that Bread or drink of that
Cup--


     "Until the Trump of God be heard,
     Until the ancient graves be stirred,
     And with the great commanding word
                         The Lord shall come."


For those still left in the doomed city, that seemed indeed the last
Trumpet which sounded in the early dawn of Sunday, the 29th of
December. It sent a thrill of horror through every Armenian heart. They
knew it was the signal for resuming the massacre, and completing the
work of death and ruin left unfinished the previous day.

An orgie of blood and crime, worse than all that had gone before, began
then. Many Moslems of the lowest class, who had hitherto been kept in
check by the fear that the Christians might defend themselves, now
joined the murderers. Moreover, all passions are blunted by indulgence,
and require stronger and yet stronger stimulants. The passion of cruelty
is no exception. Where it really exists, where men kill and torture--not
for rage or hate, or greed, or fear--but for the joy they have in doing
it, it is as a demon possessing the soul. It lives, it grows, it
thirsts, it craves sacrifices ever greater and more ingenious. It
develops a horrible, a Satanic subtlety. It inspires deeds at the mere
recital of which humanity shudders. We may not tell, we may not even
think of them. Involuntarily we close our eyes, we stop our ears. But
ought we not sometimes to remember that our brothers and our sisters
have _endured_ them all?

Hanum Selferian was sitting in what had been only yesterday the best
room of her comfortable home. Now not a single article of furniture
remained unbroken or unspoiled. Curtains were torn down, presses were
smashed open, and their contents either taken away, broken into
fragments, or strewn about. In the midst of the floor lay all the food
in the house--bulghour, rice, meal, coffee, vegetables, bread--tossed
together in a confused heap, over which charcoal had been thrown and
kerosene poured. But no eyes for this, or for aught else, had the
broken-hearted wife. On a bed in the corner lay her husband, dying. He
was horribly mutilated; but the hand of devoted love had bound up the
fearful wounds, and done the little that was possible to assuage their
anguish. All the long night she had watched beside him, her children
clinging round her weeping and praying, the elder ones trying to help
her when they could. No joy came in the morning, but a new and terrible
fear. What if the Turks should return? Flight and concealment were out
of the question _now_.

The gate of their courtyard was broken the day before; and now some one
pushed open the door of the room where they were. Hanum Selferian
started to her feet. A man stood before her, his eyes wild and
bloodshot, his face stamped with an expression of unutterable horror.
One short hour had passed since John Grayson went forth from the gate
of the prison. In that time he had seen things which he never afterwards
told to any one, and which he would have given a king's ransom for the
power of forgetting. Now, like one walking in a dream--seeing nothing,
hearing nothing--he strode up to her and asked, "Where is my wife?"

Hanum Selferian had seen him often, and knew all about him. But how
could she recognise, in this broken, horror-stricken man, the bright,
fearless English youth? He looked full fifty years of age. Besides, her
own sorrow filled her heart, and dulled her senses. "Speak low," she
said;--"my husband"--

"I am sorry," Jack answered mechanically. "But where is my wife, Shushan
Meneshian?"

"Shushan?" She looked up now, her thoughts diverted for a moment. "You
are not the Englishman?"

"Would I were _not_! No one will kill me. There is a mark set upon me,
that none may hurt me. It is the mark of Cain.--Where is my wife? I was
told she came here."

"Yes; to see her father, Boghos, who was not here at all. It was all a
trick," said the poor woman. "Amaan! do not ask me more."

"Don't cry, dear Effendi," broke in the youngest of the little girls,
taking his hand caressingly, and touching it with her forehead. "Mother
hid me in the storeroom while the Turks were here, but I looked through
the crack of the door and saw--I saw dreadful things. They hurt poor
father, oh, so terribly! but they did not hurt Oriort Shushan at
all--not the very least. They only took her away with them. I am sure
they will be very kind to her, she is so dear and beautiful."

"_Hush!_" said the next sister, just a little older.

Krikor, the eldest boy, came running in. "Mother! mother! let us all go
to the church. The neighbours--those of them who are _here_--say it is
the best thing to do. The Turks will not touch us there."

One loving glance she gave to her dying husband, then she looked at
Jack. "Perhaps," she said, "the kind English Effendi would take you
children there. And your grandmother--Parooz, where is she?"

"Not one of us will stir a step without you, mother; there is no use in
asking us. We live or die all together," the boy said firmly,
disregarding the looks and gestures with which his mother tried to stop
him.

Then a feeble voice was heard, speaking from the bed. "In God's name,
let us all go. I think I could walk--with help."

In John Grayson's broken heart the instinct of helpfulness survived. It
was as if he were dead within, and his shell, his outer self, went on
mechanically, acting out the impulses impressed, and the habits formed,
during his life-time. "I will help you," he said, going over to the
wounded man and preparing to raise him from the bed. Almost dying as he
was, he was still able to stand, and even to walk a little.

Parooz, the eldest girl, fetched the white-haired grandmother, who had
gone apart to weep, and was found in an upper room sleeping for sorrow.
The children gathered round them. Jack put his strong arm about the
dying man, his wife supported him on the other side, and they all went
out together.

The state of the streets was indescribable. People were rushing through
them wildly, shrieking, screaming, crying for help; and the dead and
dying lay about under their very feet. Happily, the Cathedral was near
at hand; but, for one of the little party, peace and safety were nearer
still. As they came in sight of it, Selferian's strength failed. "Let me
rest a moment," he prayed. They put down some of their upper garments,
and laid him gently on them; and there he rested--from all his weariness
and all his pain.

There was no time to mourn the dead. The old grandmother went on first,
taking with her the reluctant Krikor. Then Jack said to the new-made
widow, "For your children's sake," and pointed to the Cathedral.

The sights of horror they had seen, even in their short walk, quickened
their footsteps. They found the churchyard and the buildings around it,
the dwellings of the priests and the school-houses, already full of
people. Making their way through the throng, they got at last into the
Cathedral; and, after some further delay, went up into the gallery, some
people the Selferians knew being there already.

Jack kept with them; his behaviour outwardly was quite rational, but he
had entirely lost control over his thoughts. Once he imagined he was
back again in England, wildly imploring the Queen, the Government, the
whole nation, to send men and guns and bayonets to Armenia--not to save
the people, but to kill them--to kill them mercifully, all at once, and
make an end of this agony. Shushan and Shushan's race seemed in his mind
to have blended together into one. "'And in these days,'" he thought,
"'shall men seek death, and shall not find it; and shall desire to die,
and death shall flee from them.'"

All this time there were people pouring in, filling the vast spaces of
the church till scarce standing room remained. At last the great iron
door swung to, and was shut.

Not one moment too soon. The mob was already thundering at it. The yells
and howls of the frenzied crowd outside mingled with the cries and
groans of the terrified crowd within. At the same time shots came in
through the windows, wounding some and killing others.

At last the storm prevailed, the iron door smashed in, and then the work
of murder began in earnest. But the very density of the crowd of victims
checked its progress. It was hard to cut through that mass of living
flesh. One incident Jack saw which stamped itself upon his mind; though
at the time he felt neither that nor anything else. Some Turk, mounted
on a bench or stone, saw a face in the crowd he knew--that of a young
Armenian singer, whose sweet voice was already winning him gold and
glory, and who was a special favourite with the Moslems. He and others
called to him by name. The youth sprang upon a pedestal, and in a minor
key, with a voice of exquisite pathos and melody, began a plaintive
Armenian song.

Then a strange thing was seen and heard--there were tears on Moslem
faces, and sobs that broke from Moslem breasts. This would not do! Guns
were pointed at the too successful singer. "Stop!" cried the voice of
one having authority. "Dear youth, be a Moslem. We will save you alive,
and give you wealth and honour, as much as you will."

"_Never!_" The dauntless word rang through the church, sweeter than
melody of harp or lute sweeter than voice of song. It was the young
singer's last utterance--the end came then, for him.

The work of death went on, the murderers hewing a way for themselves
through the crowded aisles. Meanwhile, in the vast gallery, which ran
quite round the building, the terrified multitude, mostly women and
children, shrieked and wept and prayed, calling aloud on the name of
Jesus. A few men tried to climb out through the windows; but this was
impossible, and would have been useless, for the mob were waiting
outside with firearms to pick off the fugitives. Jack stood where he
was; for his own life he did not care the turning of a straw, and his
instinct of protection kept him beside the Selferians. He saw all the
work of murder going on in the church below. And now the Moslems had
reached the altar. Some of them sprang upon it, while others tore the
pictures, smashed the woodwork, and broke open anything they thought
might contain treasure.

There was on the reading-desk a large, beautiful, and very ancient
Bible, bound and clasped with silver. With a yell of triumph, a Moslem
seized it, tore out the leaves, and flung down the desecrated volume.
"Now, Prophet Jesus," he shouted, "save Thine own if Thou canst! Show
Thyself stronger than Mahomet!"

For one brief moment a wild ecstatic hope sprang up in the heart of John
Grayson. He looked up, and half expected the solid roof to open,
revealing God's heaven above them, and in it the "sign of the Son of
Man." His Christian lips re-echoed the Moslem cry, "Save Thine own! Show
Thyself stronger than Mahomet!"

"There was no voice, neither any that answered." The silence of the
ages--that strange, mysterious, awful silence--was not broken; it
lasted, as it lasts still.

In the over-wrought brain of John Grayson some chord snapped then.
"There is no Christ," he said. "He cannot hear us; He is dead long ago.
There is no God; He is nothing but a dream--a dream of happy men, who
sit at ease in quiet homes."

He did not know that he spoke aloud, but a woman near him heard the
words. "How can you say there is no God?" she remonstrated. "It is not
true;--but _God has gone mad_!"

The next moment a shot from below struck the speaker, and she fell into
Jack's very arms. The Turks were firing up into the crowd in the
gallery.

But that process was by far too slow. Now they were dragging mattrasses,
rugs, clothing, light wood work from the adjoining priests' houses, and
piling them on and amongst the heaps of dead and dying in the church.
Then they carried in great vessels of kerosene, and poured their
contents over the whole mass. To this horrible sacrifice they set fire
in several places. The flames arose; the crowd in the gallery saw the
awful fate prepared for them, and one wild, wailing shriek of terror
drowned every other noise.

Turks, meanwhile, were rushing up the gallery stairs, seizing the
younger women and girls, and carrying them out. A Turk forced his way
between Jack and Hanum Selferian, "Do you know me?" he asked her. "I
killed your husband yesterday because I want to marry you. Come with me,
and I will save you and your children."

He seized her zeboun, but with an effort she freed herself from his
grasp. Jack helping her, and the children keeping close to her, they
pushed on to the front of the gallery, and looked down. A sea of fire
was beneath them; its hot breath scorched their faces. The Turk was
following them. Then the Armenian mother lifted her youngest child, a
boy of eight, in her arms, and looked at the three little girls
clinging to her side. "Children," she said, "will you go with that man
and be Moslems, or will you die for Christ with me?"

"Mother, we will die with you," said the little voices, speaking all at
once.

She could do for them one thing yet. They should not suffer. In another
moment they should be with Christ. Twenty feet down, right into the
heart of the hottest fire, she flung her youngest child. Then followed
the little girls; and then, just as the Turk's hand touched her
shoulder, her own rest was won.

That was the last thing Jack saw in the burning church.

Oh, Christ, who that day didst keep silence in Thy Heaven, help us to
remember that other day, when around Thy Cross the mocking voices
sounded, "If Thou be the Christ, save Thyself,"--and Thou wert silent
too. Help us to hold fast by that faith in Thee that lies between us and
madness. Make us understand that these Thy people are indeed "members
incorporate in Thy mystical Body." Not _with_ them alone through
sympathy, but _in_ them through vital organic union Thou sufferest
still. In them Thou art "in Thine agony until the end of the world";
until the last member is complete, the last sheaf of the great Harvest
gathered in. Thou lovest them too much for the mockery of Thy foes, or
even for the passionate prayer of Thy friends, to move Thee to come down
from the Cross until the work of the Cross is finished, and the earnest
expectation of Thy suffering creatures changed into the joy unspeakable
of the manifestation of the sons of God.



Chapter XX

BY ABRAHAM'S POOL, AND ELSEWHERE

     "But thou hadst gone--gone from the dreary land,
       Gone from the storms let loose on every hill;
     Lured by the sweet persuasion of a Hand,
       Which leads thee somewhere in the distance still."

     --_Bayard Taylor._


A group of Moslems were loitering idly beside the beautiful Pool of
Abraham, watching the sacred fish and feeding them with crumbs and corn.
They were talking over the events of the last few days. Some of
them--who would not have hurt one of those little fishes for any
consideration--were boasting how many Christian dogs they had killed, or
detailing yet more horrible deeds of devotion and of prowess. "But now,"
observed one of them, "we are not to kill any more. The '_Paydoss_' has
gone forth."

"Truth to say," another answered, "there are but few left to kill. And
those are mostly old women and little children."

"It were well," a third remarked, "to take some order about the burying,
and that quickly, or we shall have a pestilence among us, and true
Believers have no charm against that any more than Christians. Allah,
who comes here?"

A weird, ghastly figure strode in amongst them, coming down to the very
margin of the pool. His clothing was scorched and torn, his hair
grey--almost white--and his hollow cheeks and wasted face gave the more
awful expressiveness to large eyes full of horror. He looked down into
the bright, pure waters of the Pool. "Much water there," he said; "but
it will not put out the fire. There is nothing will put that out, for
ever and for ever."

One tried to lay hands on him, another drew a dagger. But his pale lips
only curled with a scornful smile. "You cannot kill me," he said; "I am
an Englishman. There is a mark set upon me that no man may hurt me. It
means, 'He saved himself: others he did not save.'"

"Put that up," said one of the Turks to his comrade with the dagger. "Do
you not see the man is mad?"

Moslems think it wrong to kill a madman; they even honour him, as one
inspired by Allah. Nor does their law allow them to receive a madman as
a convert to Islam.

"Englishman?" another queried. "Nonsense about Englishmen! There are no
Englishmen here."

"That, no doubt, is part of his madness. He is a Giaour, whom it is the
will of Allah to save alive."

A young man, dressed _à la Frank_, joined the group. "Whom have you got
here?" he asked.

"Some Giaour, driven mad by the loss of his friends," answered one of
the others.

The Giaour turned, and looked the new comer steadily in the face.

The Turk looked at him, with a perplexed, bewildered air.

"Osman Effendi, how many Giaours have _you_ killed?" the Christian
asked.

"_One_," Osman answered. "But he was a prince amongst them. It was
enough. Madman, I seem to know your eyes. Who are you?" He gave him
another long, scrutinizing look. Then he said with a start, "Can it be?
Is it possible? Are you Grayson Effendi? How have you come here? I
sought for you; and heard you had gone to the church. Then I gave you up
for lost."

"I _am_ lost," Jack said.

"Nay, friend, you are saved, thanks to Allah the Compassionate. But how,
in His Name, did you get out?"

"I have not the least idea," Jack said. "The last thing I saw was those
children, falling down into the fire. The first thing I remember after
that, I was walking among dead bodies in the churchyard. There were
plenty of Turks about, but they did not kill me. No one will kill me."

"I fear you are right enough," said Osman aside to the others. "It is a
pity." Then to Jack, "Come home with me, Grayson Effendi. I will take
care of you, and give you meat and drink. Then you shall lie down and
sleep----"

"No; I shall never sleep again. I dare not. I should see the burning
church, and the woman who threw her children into the fire."

"Poor fellow! He is certainly mad," said another Turk.

Jack turned and faced him. "I am not mad," he said. "I remember all my
past life. I am an Englishman. My name is John Grayson. You have taken
my wife away."

"_That_ at least is madness," some one observed.

"Not altogether," whispered Osman. "There was a betrothal, or something,
to a beautiful Armenian girl. Franks take these things hard." Then
aloud, "But come with me, Grayson Effendi, you will be quite safe."

Jack yielded so far as to walk away with him from the group. But when
they had gone a little distance he stopped, and said, very quietly,
"Osman Effendi, I thank you. But I cannot enter the house of a Turk. I
must go back to the ruined dwellings of my friends. I would say 'God
bless you!' if, in the face of what I have seen, I could still believe
in God. I cannot. Farewell."

He took the nearest turning which led to the Armenian Quarter, and soon
found himself in the midst of horrors which the effects of no siege, no
battle known to history, could have equalled. The dead--and the dying
too, who lay undistinguished amongst them--were being dragged to the
great trenches outside the town, which the Moslems had dug to receive
them. There were many houses, like that of the Vartonians, in which no
human creature, not even the babe in arms, was left alive.

On and on he wandered, from one horror to another. What he saw, in its
details, is best left untold. He was _not_ mad; the consciousness of the
past was coming back upon him, every moment more clearly and fully. As
the human heart will ever do, in the most overpowering, most universal
agony, he still reverted to his own. "Shushan! Shushan!" was his cry,
amidst the reeking ruins of the devastated city. Always, everywhere, it
is not the "all" we care for, but the "one." We are made so.

He bore his burden alone, in the blank unbelief of utter despair. "Cold,
strong, passionless, like a dead man's clasp," there closed about his
heart the horror of "the everlasting No," choking it to death. No hope,
no love, no God, no Christ.

How long he wandered in that ghastly scene of death he could not tell.
Some desultory plundering was still going on; parties of Turks, chiefly
of the lowest class, sometimes met him, but no one thought of killing
him. The killing was over, and even if it had been otherwise, his
supposed madness would have secured his safety. Sometimes he saw an
Armenian in the distance, gliding ghost-like in the shadow of a wall;
but if he hailed the phantom, it would vanish instantly into some
hiding-place near at hand. He barely noticed the change of day into
night or of night into day again. As the claims of his physical nature
asserted themselves he took food, almost without thinking; plenty of it
lay about, uncared for, in the desolated homes. The one thing he did not
dare to do was to sleep. He feared the dreams that would be sure to
come--he feared still more the awakening.

After what seemed to himself a long time, he thought he heard a faint
cry from the interior of a house in the courtyard of which he was
standing. He went in, and was guided by the sound to a store closet,
where food had been laid up. There, on the ground, her head upon a sack
of bulghour, lay a woman quite dead, beside her a little baby, probably
dying also.

Better let it die so, reason would have said, and perhaps kindness too.
Nature is stronger than either. Jack stooped down, took up in his arms
the little wailing babe, and tried to soothe its cries. Evidently it was
starving. What should he do? He could not give it rice or bulghour, and
hard, dry bread, even dipped in fruit syrup, would not be more suitable.
How could he feed a baby? Then all at once he thought of the Mission
House. Miss Celandine would know what to do. He had often thought of her
before; but either he supposed her out of reach, as for some time past
she had almost been, or else unconsciously he shrank from going where he
used to find Shushan. Moreover, for aught he knew, she might by this
time have left the place. He thought Osman told him she had got her
passport at last.

However, he soon found himself treading the familiar way by which he had
gone so often to visit Shushan. How clearly he saw her now, in all her
winning loveliness, her sweet eyes full of joy, coming to meet him with
her little hand stretched out, English fashion, and on her lips the one
word, "_Shack!_" He had not seen her so clearly since Osman's tale
turned his heart to stone.

As he went he held the little babe close to his breast to keep it warm,
and half feared it would die by the way. He found the great gate of the
Mission House, and saw forms, like shadows, creeping in and
out--wretched objects, most of them with bandaged limbs or heads. The
spacious courtyard seemed turned into a hospital; men, women and little
children sat or stood about, waiting to be treated. He asked some one
where he might find Miss Celandine, and was directed to the Church.

What a transformation that beautiful church had undergone since he saw
it last! If the yard was the hospital for out-patients, the church was
the ward where those lay who could not be removed. It was crammed from
end to end with men and boys--the wounded and the dying. Their mats were
placed on the floor, so close together that it was hard to move among
them.

Still, the first thought of relief and softness came to Jack as he stood
there and looked around him. There at least love reigned, not hate. Once
more he was amongst beings who were human, and who pitied and helped one
another.

He did not see Miss Celandine there, but an Armenian woman, with a
sweet, serene face, came towards him and enquired what he wanted. He
showed her the babe. "Can you save it?" he asked.

"We will try," she answered, taking it gently from him. "Poor little
one! I fear it is too late. Does it belong to you? Is it perhaps your
little grandchild?" she asked, looking up at him.

It occurred to Jack that the question was a strange one; but--was
anything strange now? He answered, "No; I found it just now, beside its
dead mother. I know not who they are."

"Where is Miss Celandine, Anna Hanum?" asked a servant, coming up.
"There is a boy here in great distress, who wants to speak with her."

"She will be here just now," said the woman who was speaking to Jack.
"Where is the boy?"

He came running in after the messenger, pale and crying, as one in sore
trouble. He seemed to know Anna Hanum, and began to pour out to her his
tale of sorrow. Its burden was, "I have denied my Lord. I have denied
the Lord Jesus Christ! Will He ever forgive me?"

"How was it, my poor child?" the woman asked pityingly.

"They killed my father and my mother," he said. "Then they held a knife
to my throat, and asked me to be a Moslem and save my life. In my terror
I said--I know not what. But it must have been 'yes,' for they spared
me, took me to a Turkish house, and gave me food. They kept me shut up
until now, when I ran away and came here. Will Christ ever forgive me?
Oh, do you think He will ever forgive me?"

Ere she could answer, there came a faint weak voice from one of the
sufferers lying at their feet. "Christ will forgive you. Only, you have
lost a grand opportunity."

Something in the voice sent a thrill of strange, sweet memories through
the heart of John Grayson. He turned towards the spot from whence it
came. "Who said that?" he asked. A man, horribly mutilated, pointed out
to him a boy who was lying beside him, with a light rug thrown over him.
Threading his way with difficulty through the mats on which the patients
lay, Jack came to his side and knelt down. He saw a young face, white,
wasted and drawn with pain, yet full of a strange, unutterable peace.
And he knew it was the face he loved best in the house of
Meneshian--after the _one_ through whom his heart had got its death
blow. "_Gabriel!_" he said.

"Who is it?" asked the boy. "Is it--no, it is not, it cannot be! And yet
you have the eyes of Yon Effendi."

"You used to call me that in the old days. Oh, Gabriel! I thought they
had killed you all."

"Yes, _all_," Gabriel said; and into his eyes there came, instead of
tears, a light from beyond the sun, beyond the stars. "We have all come
home now, except me. I am just a little late for the first gathering-up
there, but I forget my pain in thinking of their happy meeting all
together, and of the joy they have in seeing the Face of Christ.
Besides, He is here with me too; and I think He will let me go to them
soon."

Then a wave of bitter pain surged over the soul of John Grayson. He
supposed Gabriel did not count as any longer one of them her who, in the
earthly home, had been the dearest of them all. Could he think the
heavenly home would be complete without her? "_What_ you must have
suffered, Yon Effendi!" Gabriel went on, looking at his changed face and
grey hair. "But I never thought to see you again! We all made sure the
Turks had taken and killed you."

"Would they had!" Jack said. "Gabriel, how did _you_ escape when all the
rest were killed?"

"When they killed us all, and our cousins the Vartonians too, they cut
and wounded me, and left me for dead. I suppose I was a long time
unconscious. When I came to myself, I was lying among the bodies, almost
under them. I pushed my way out a little, that I might see. I did not
want to live; but I knew how they would drag the dead--and the dying
too--out of the town, and fling them into the ditches beneath the wall.
I was afraid of _that_. So I lay very still until night came and all
was quiet. Then I managed somehow to get myself free. I crept along
slowly, I know not how; I think I fainted often by the way, but at last
I came here, to the place in all the world most like to heaven. And here
they will let me stay until I go to heaven itself." The boy's voice was
beginning to fail through weakness.

"Don't try to speak any more," Jack said.

"Oh, but I _want_ to tell you--Can you give me a drink?"

Jack saw a pitcher of water cooled with snow, and a cup beside it, not
far off. He poured out some and brought it.

"Will you lift my head a little and put it to my lips?" Gabriel said.
"My hands are cut in pieces. Thank you. That is good. I _want_ to tell
you how God brought home the three who were away from us that day."

"The _three_?"

"You did not know that our dear grandfather had gone, the night before,
to visit his old friends the Nazarians? And he found them so frightened,
with only women there in the house, that he stayed. But in the morning,
when we knew what was coming, Kevork went to seek for him, that we might
die all together. Neither of them ever came back to us. Only yesterday
did we hear about Kevork. One of the sheiks made his followers bring
him all the strong, fine-looking young men he could find. About a
hundred were brought to him. He had them held down hand and foot by his
followers, while he cut their throats with his own hand, reciting all
the time verses from the Koran. Kevork was among them."

"And our dear Father Hohannes?"

"He was at the Nazarians, as I said. He thought that perhaps the Turks,
having killed the men, might be satisfied and go away. So he bade the
women conceal themselves, and sat calmly at the door reading his Bible.
When they saw him there, they said, 'You are an old man with white hair;
we will spare you, if you will only acknowledge the Prophet. You need
not speak; just lift up one finger.' 'I will not lift up one finger,'
said he. Then they dragged him out into the street to kill him,
and--and--Yon Effendi, I can tell you no more. Spare me!" He turned his
white face away with a look of agony.

"Dear boy! dear child! tell me no more if it hurts you so," Jack
whispered soothingly. "However dreadful it may have been, it is over
now."

"It was not so _very_ dreadful," Gabriel said, after a pause. "It was
soon over. But oh, Yon Effendi, there is _more_! I said _three_ were
absent from us." His dark, wistful eyes, so full of pain, gazed
piteously into the wondering face bent over him.

A distant suspicion of who the third might mean dawned for the first
time on John Grayson. "You said three were brought home to
Heaven--Hohannes, Kevork, and----"

"_Shushan._"

In unutterable anguish John Grayson turned his face away. "_No_," he
murmured hoarsely, "Shushan is not in Heaven but--_in Hell_."

Gabriel half raised himself in his intense excitement. "Then you don't
know----"

"It is _you_ who don't know," Jack interrupted bitterly. "There is no
such blessedness as death for her--or for me."

"Oh, but you don't know," Gabriel said again. "Yon Effendi, listen--you
_must_ listen to me. I have comfort for you."

"What comfort possible for me?"

"The comfort of God; our Shushan is with Him."

Jack turned, and looked again in the face of Gabriel. His own was set
and drawn in its anguish of suspense. His lips moved, but only one word
would come--"Speak."

"As they were killing my grandfather, zaptiehs passed by with Shushan
guarded in their midst. She saw his white hair,--his face,--and broke
through them all to throw her arms around him and plead for his life.
They were taken by surprise, and did not stop her in time. No one knows
how it happened, but, in the confusion, a sword meant for him went right
through her heart."

John Grayson sprang to his feet, with a cry that made all the wounded
round them turn on their mats and look up in wonder. He never even heard
Gabriel's concluding word: "So, as I said, they are all now with
Christ." But in another moment he was on the ground again beside him,
his whole frame shaking with a storm of sobs--hoarse, heavy,
uncontrollable,--surging up from the very depths of a strong man's soul.
After the sobs came tears--tears again at last! No longer were the
heavens iron and the earth brass; all the flood-gates were open now, and
there was a very great rain.

He knew nothing until Miss Celandine's firm, gentle hand was laid upon
his shoulder.

"My friend," she said, "I know not who you are, nor what your grief may
be. But I cannot let you disturb all the others who are here.
Especially, you are doing great harm to my patient beside you."

"Don't you know me, Miss Celandine?" Jack faltered out, struggling for
composure. "Don't you remember John Grayson?"

"John Grayson! But he was a youth, and your hair is grey."

"With anguish. But now I remember no more my anguish, for God has had
mercy upon me. My Shushan is with Him."

"Yes, we know it, and thank God for her."



Chapter XXI

"GOD SATISFIED AND EARTH UNDONE"

     "And if with milder anguish now I bear
     To think of thee in thy forsaken rest;
     If from my heart be lifted the despair,
     The sharp remorse with healing influence press'd,
     It is that Thou the sacrifice hast bless'd,
     And filled my spirit, in its inmost cell
     With a deep, chastened sense that all at last is well."


John Grayson had been directed by Miss Celandine to go to the parlour
where Shushan had bidden him farewell, and to wait for her there. It
looked as if it had had many occupants since, and as if some of them
were still in possession. Yet for the moment he was alone, a thing
unusual in that crowded house. His heart was filled with a sense of
unspeakable rest;--and, after rest, came thankfulness;--and with
thankfulness a fresh burst of weeping, his tears growing ever gentler,
ever softer and more full of healing.

In those blessed tears he found again his hope and his God. Christ was
no dream, but a living, loving Power, strong to save. He had been with
his beloved one, and had delivered her. Once more, in the darkness, his
hand touched that right Hand, so strong and so tender, which at once
upholds the universe, and supports the failing heart of every tried and
tempted "wrestler with the Spirit until the breaking of the day."

So already the cross of Christ, laid upon both their heads, had been
taken from Shushan's young brow, and she had received instead of it the
crown of life! While he--who loved her, who would love her until his
life's end--he had to bear it still. But it _was_ the cross of Christ,
and not the brand of Cain. Not _that_. Never that again! Never more
would he wander aimlessly amidst the dying and the dead,--


     "Beating in upon his weary brain,
     As though it were the burden of a song"


that hideous travesty of the enemy's splendid, unconscious testimony to
his crucified Lord: "He saved himself, others he did not save."

Rather perhaps might he be permitted, in some humble way, to follow Him,
and help to save others. Of himself, there seemed little left to save
now. The traveller whose purse is empty sings before the thieves; and if
he has been just relieved of a crushing, killing burden, his song may
even be one of thanksgiving.

He did not know how long he had been waiting in that room, when another
person came in and sat down, waiting also. She had with her three pale,
frightened-looking little children. Had he judged by her dress alone, he
would have thought her an Armenian woman of the very poorest class; but
one look in her face made him know her as a lady. It was a very
sorrowful face--what Armenian face was not sorrowful then?--but it was
also very beautiful, and it bore the unmistakable impress of a refined
and cultured mind. He felt sure he had seen her somewhere before; she
was associated somehow in his mind with a box of sweetmeats, an odd
fancy, for which he could find no reason. But his thoughts soon left
her, and returned to their own engrossing theme.

"Thomassian Effendi," said one of the children presently, in a wailing
voice, "won't you take me up in your lap? I am tired."

Jack looked round in surprise. Could this be indeed the beautiful,
luxurious, cherished wife of Muggurditch Thomassian? He spoke his
thoughts aloud.

"Madame," he asked, "do I speak to the wife of Baron Thomassian?"

"To his widow," she answered calmly.

So much Jack knew already, and he wondered if the lady knew any more.

"Have you had certain tidings of his----" He paused for an instant,
unwilling to voice the word.

"Of his martyrdom?" the widow said proudly. "Yes; he has gone home to
God. The way was long and rough, but the end was peace."

"Then you know how nobly he witnessed for his Lord?"

"We know that he was found faithful."

"I was with him almost to the end," Jack said.

Then he told the story of his imprisonment, and of Thomassian's courage
and faithfulness. Every word was as balm poured into the bleeding heart
of the new-made widow.

"And now, madame," he said at last, "how is it with you in your
loneliness?"

"As I suppose you know, we have been robbed of everything. My husband
was known to be a rich man, and our house was one which invited plunder.
What does it matter? When a scorpion has stung you, you do not feel the
prick of a gnat. All I want is a handful of rice to feed these poor
little ones."

"Are they--relatives perhaps?" asked Jack. He knew she had no children.

"No; they are poor orphans I found in the street crying for their
mothers. It helps me in my desolation to have them to think and work
for. That is why I have come to Miss Celandine. I think she may give me
something to do, I care not what. Anything to keep these from starving,
and me--in another way."

"Perhaps you can help her in caring for the wounded."

"I fear I have no skill for it. I am not like Anna Hanum, whom you may
have seen, and who is to Miss Celandine as another hand."

Jack remembered, with a pang, that he himself owed Baron Thomassian
money, which he had no means of repaying. Other people dropped in
gradually, to wait for Miss Celandine, and began to comment upon her
long delay.

"Amaan! Something fresh must have happened," they said. Of course they
meant some fresh calamity. What else could happen there?

At last food was brought in, great dishes of pillav and of soup, with
bread--meat there was none.

"I would Miss Celandine were here," Madame Thomassian said to Jack. "She
will not have tasted food since the early morning. Only that God gives
her strength, for our sakes, she would have been dead long ago."

Presently there was a stir amongst them all.

"Here she comes," passed from lip to lip.

She came, but not alone. Her arm was around the waist of a tall, slender
girl, who but for its support might have fallen to the ground. Another
girl, much younger, clung to her side, and two boys followed, the elder
carrying in his arms his little brother, a child of three. Her wasted,
sorrow-stricken face was lit up with a glow almost of triumph.

"We have got them _all_!" she said.

Those in the room rose up and crowded round. Some said, "Park Derocha!"
others wept aloud for joy, for all knew the Pastor's children.

"Oh, if the Badvellie could only look down and see them all safe here!"
some one cried.

"He does not want that," Madame Thomassian answered quietly, "for he
knows the end of the Lord."

The children were soon seated on the divan. Every one wanted to kiss
their lips, their hands, their feet even. Their clothing was an odd
mixture; Elmas wore a dress of Miss Celandine's, the rest, whatever
garments had come first to hand, for the Turks had stripped them of
almost everything.

"My zaptiehs have just found them in a mosque, and brought them to me,"
Miss Celandine explained. "They are starving."

Indeed the lips of little Ozmo were already quite blue; he seemed unable
even to cry. Some one ran to get milk for him, and in a short time all
were being fed and tended by loving hands.

Then everybody ate, in a primitive, informal way. Jack had his handful
of rice and his piece of bread with the rest, and no food he had ever
tasted seemed to him more wonderful than this. He was eating with
Christians again. There sat Miss Celandine, in her frail womanhood, a
tower of strength to them all; there were the dear Pastor's rescued
children, pale and changed indeed from the unfathomed depths of
suffering they had passed through, but all there, not one lacking from
the little flock. There was the sweet face of Elmas, his Shushan's
friend. And Shushan was safe too. God had _not_ forgotten to be
gracious, nor had He in anger shut up His tender mercies from them. Jack
went over to Elmas.

"Dear Oriort Elmas," he said, "do you know me? I am John Grayson. My
Shushan loved you well. And you will be glad to know that she
is--_safe_; so are all the rest, although Gabriel only is with us
still."

But now Miss Celandine was clearing the room, that the Pastor's children
might have the rest and quiet they so sorely needed. There was not
another spot in the crowded mission buildings that could be given up to
them. With those who needed her she would speak in the passage outside.

Jack waited patiently for his turn, and it came at last. It may have
been a relief to the lonely woman to use the tongue of her native land
again, for she took time to tell him how the Pastor's children had been
saved. "The captain of my zaptiehs saw my anguish during the awful
days," she said. "He was moved, and asked me was there anything he could
do for me. I said, 'Stop these horrors.' He answered that he could not.
'It is the will of Allah,' he said, as they all say. Then I answered,
'Find those children for me, and bring them here. They are mine; they
belong to the Mission.' And I described them all to him. I believe he
sought them diligently; and now here they are at last, after nights and
days of cold and hunger and of agonizing fear. Yet God has kept them.
Now, as for you, Mr. Grayson, will you come with me? I have something to
give you."

He followed her to another room filled with people, where washing and
cooking were going on. Motioning him to stay at the door, she made her
way over beds, mats, babies and cooking utensils, to a press, which she
opened, took something out, and came back with it. They went to the
court together without speaking, and there, under the leafless branches
of a fig-tree, John Grayson got back his father's Bible, the Book of his
betrothal. "Shushan said to me one day that if her end of the cross was
the first lifted off, I was to give this to you. See, there is a bit of
silk put in, to mark the place she was reading when she was sent for to
receive her father's blessing."

Jack opened the Book, and these were the words his eyes fell upon:
"Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her that her warfare is
accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned, for she hath received of
the Lord's hand double for all her sins."

He pointed them out to Miss Celandine, who only said, "'_Of the Lord's
hand_,'--it is _that_ that makes it possible to live. But, Mr. Grayson,
what will you do now?"

"Anything _you_ tell me."

"For the present, you will stay here with us, until the way opens for
your safe return home."

"Miss Celandine, _you_ did not go home."

"The passport, which I asked for more than two months ago, was only sent
to me on Saturday, one hour before the massacre began. Then the Pasha
was most anxious to get me away; he advised, he even urged me to go. So
I knew that evil was determined against this people; and, of course, I
stayed."

"If you had gone, I suppose that not one of them would now be left
alive," Jack said.

"Certainly not one of the three hundred that were in our premises
then," Miss Celandine answered quietly. "Mr. Grayson, it is but poor
hospitality I have to offer you. Not a room even, only a place to lie
down in somewhere, and day by day a morsel of bread."

"_And_ safety, _and_ peace," Jack said. "If you permit me, Miss
Celandine, I might spread a mat in the church, and give a little help,
especially at night, to the wounded who are lying there. Then I could be
near Gabriel, the only living thing left to me--of my own."

"So you can. Here you _must_ work, or you will die. But here also, if
you serve Christ in His brethren, you will find Him. Another thing you
can do for us: your strength is sorely needed to bring to us our
out-door patients, and to help them back again to their homes, or rather
to the desolated ruins that were once their homes."

All this John Grayson did faithfully. In body he was never alone, by day
and by night he lived in a crowd--a crowd of suffering men. But in
spirit he "sat alone, and kept silence," because he bore "upon him the
yoke," or rather, the Cross of Christ. He "put his mouth in the dust, if
so there might be hope." And there _was_ hope for him, though the light
was kindled at no earthly shrine.

It was his greatest comfort to wait upon Gabriel; but Gabriel did not
think it well that time and trouble should be spent on him. "It is
waste," he said to Jack; "there are so many wanting your help who have
hands to work with; better go to them, for what should _I_ do, if I
live?"

"God will see to that, brother."

"I know; only, if you drop a handful of piastres in the street, you try
to pick up the good ones first."

Elmas Stepanian loved well to steal a few moments from the care of her
young brothers, to sit by Gabriel and minister to his wants. His eyes
used to brighten wonderfully when he saw her.

"You are so good and sweet," he used to say. Once he added, "And, Oriort
Elmas, our Kevork loved you so."

Elmas did not blush or turn her face away; she only said quietly, "My
dear father liked your brother well." For indeed--


     "Death was so near them, life cooled from its heat."


Contrary to every one's expectation, the little babe John Grayson saved
took hold of its life with a will. Two or three times it was very near
dying, but it always rallied. In spite of tainted air, imperfect
nourishment, and other disadvantages, it gave promise of growing into a
bright, healthy child. Anna Hanum, Miss Celandine's helper, who had
taken it first from John Grayson's arms, brought it one day to show to
him with pride and pleasure. But, as she held it up, he was far more
struck with her own face than with that of the babe in her arms. It was
full of peace, profound and utter, such peace as one may see in the
faces of the happy dead, only this was a living face, glowing with some
inner light of love and blessedness. When she was gone, he turned to
Madame Thomassian, who chanced to be at hand, waiting for some work.

"It does me good to look at that face of Anna Hanum's," he said. "She
comes among these suffering, broken-hearted people like a light in the
darkness; ever ready to soothe the sorrows of others, because, alone of
all here, she seems to have none of her own."

"None of her own! Oh, Mr. Grayson, how little you know! Have you ever
heard her story?"

"I have not."

"Her husband was a long time ill--paralysed. The years went on, and she
had a weary life of it, waiting on him night and day, and earning bread
for both of them. Nor, they say, did he make her toil light by loving
gratitude. She never complained, but the neighbours knew that sickness
had soured his temper, and things went not easily with her. But she had
one great joy, God's good gift to her."

The childless woman who told the tale repressed a little sigh, as she
went on,--

"Her bright, beautiful, gifted boy was the pride of all the
neighbourhood. She loved him with more than a mother's love; and she
toiled, and slaved, and almost starved herself to give him the learning
she set such store by, and he thirsted for so ardently himself. He was
the best pupil in the school here, and then he went on to Aintab and to
Marash, where every one had the highest hopes of him. You may guess his
mother's pride when he came back with all his honours to see her, before
beginning active life. He was just in time to receive his father's
blessing, and to close his eyes. But he stayed on a little while with
her; and it was God's will that he should still be here when the storm
broke upon us. Mr. Grayson, they killed him slowly, with cruel torture,
before his mother's eyes. She stood by, strengthening him to the last,
and bidding him hold fast to his faith and his God."

"And she has come through _that_!" Jack said, much moved.

"She has come through _that_, and she has come forth on the other side.
God has satisfied her with Himself. Now, her own burden gone, she goes
about helping and comforting all the rest, with Heaven in her face, and
Heaven in her heart."

"'For I have satisfied the weary soul, and I have replenished every
sorrowful soul,'" John Grayson repeated to himself. "Yes, _He can do
it_. These are the miracles He works now, instead of dividing seas and
scattering hostile hosts."

Meanwhile Madame Thomassian gathered up the needlework she had come to
fetch--coarse garments for some of the many who needed them--and Jack
could not help remembering the soft, luxurious life, surrounded by every
indulgence wealth could procure, which had once been hers. Now she
toiled on from day to day, content with the pittance which was all Miss
Celandine had to give to the poor women who were thus employed, and
contriving out of that pittance to feed the little waifs she had taken
from the street.

Even as she turned and went her way, he heard her softly singing to
herself that favourite hymn of the persecuted Armenians:--


     "Jesus, I my cross have taken
       All to leave and follow Thee;
     Destitute, despised, forsaken,
       Thou from hence my all shalt be;

     "Perish every fond ambition,
       All I've sought, or hoped, or known,
     Yet how rich is my condition!
       God and Heaven are still my own."



Chapter XXII

GIVEN BACK FROM THE DEAD

     "When we can love and pray over all and through all, the battle's
     past and the victory's come--glory be to God!"

     --"_Uncle Tom's Cabin._"


One day Jack roused himself to go to the desolated house of the
Vartonians. Very few of the surviving Armenians dared to be seen walking
in their own Quarter; and, it was said by an eye-witness, no man was
ever seen to walk upright there. They crept furtively about with bowed
heads, slipping from shadow to shadow, afraid of the face of day and the
eyes of their fellow men.

Jack's object in going was to find, if possible, his father's note-book,
which he had entrusted to Kevork to give Shushan in case of his own
death. It was to him a very precious relic, and he thought it might
probably be amongst the things that had escaped the plunderers, as there
was nothing in its plain appearance and binding to attract them.

It was agony to enter that blood-stained court, knowing all that had
happened there, and to pass through those desolate rooms, associated in
his mind with all the pleasant trifles of domestic life, thinking that
every voice which he had heard there, save Gabriel's, was now hushed in
death: every foot that trod those floors was dust. Even that dust had no
quiet resting-place in the shadow of a Christian church. Those horrible
trenches outside the gate, those hotbeds of fever and pestilence, told
that, if the living were dumb, a cry that "shivered to the tingling
stars" was going up from the desecrated dead.

Jack passed sadly through the rooms he knew, yet did _not_ know as they
looked now, but failed in any of them to find what he sought. At last he
came to a chamber upstairs, where he was startled to see a human figure
lying at full length on the floor. If it were a dead man, the death must
have been very recent. But when he came near he saw at once that this
was not death, but quiet, natural sleep. The man's dress was _à la
Frank_, good and new; and his side face, which was all Jack could see,
had the look of life, almost of health.

It had a look besides which made Jack cry aloud in amazement,
"Kevork!--my brother!"

The voice aroused the sleeper. He sat up and looked about him. "Who is
it?" he asked. Then, after a moment's astonished gaze, "If Yon
Effendi's father were not dead, I would think he had come to look for
his son in this charnel house!"

"Brother, I _am_ Yon Effendi. How have you come back to us from the
dead?"

"What does it matter? Are they not dead, all of them? You too, they told
me you perished in the burning church."

"And they told _us_ your throat was cut."

Kevork put his hand to his throat, where a red mark still remained. "The
work was done, but not well enough," he said. "Would it had been! Why
spare this blood, of which no drop flows any more in the veins of any
living man?"

"That is not true, Kevork. Gabriel lives."

"Gabriel? How did he escape? Not--not--do not say he denied the
faith!--not _Gabriel_."

"No; he was heroically faithful. He was left for dead, but he lives
still. How he will rejoice to see you again, my brother!"

A deeper shade passed over the face of Kevork, and he stretched out his
hand to Jack. "My _brother_," he repeated, pausing on the word. At last
he went on in a low voice, "I know all--_the worst_;--your anguish and
mine are the same. Our Shushan and Oriort Elmas----"

"Are _saved_--SAVED!" Jack cried, pressing his hand in a mighty grasp,
and looking in his sorrowful face, his own radiant with thankfulness.
"_My_ treasure is safe in heaven, yours still on earth--in the Mission
House with Miss Celandine. _All_ the Pastor's children have been
rescued, and are there, thank God!"

Kevork Meneshian bowed his head, and did what John Grayson himself had
done in the hour of his blessed relief from an anguish too great for
tears. Jack let him weep for a while, then he said gently, "Come,
brother, let me bring you to our friends, who will rejoice over you as
over one given back to them from the dead."

On the way Kevork told his story. "That morning," he said, "when we knew
what was coming, I went to fetch our grandfather, that we might all die
together. There was no more danger, and no less, in the street than at
home; but I was soon caught by the Turks."

"Yes," said Jack; "that we heard; and your throat was cut."

"There is the mark. But there were a hundred of us, so the sheikh's hand
grew weary ere he finished. I was near the end of the long line, and I
only got a hasty gash. I did not even lose consciousness; but I was
afraid to stir, so I lay there in my pain, thinking I should bleed to
death. By-and-by some soldiers came along, and looked at the bodies.
They saw I was not dead, and were going to finish me, when a Turk
interposed, and bade them let me alone. He had hard work to protect me
from them, nor did he succeed without striking one of them pretty
sharply with the butt end of his gun. Then I saw his face, and
recognised that Osman we met once or twice--a friend of the Pastor's."

"Osman! He told me he rescued an Armenian, an acquaintance. I wonder he
did not name you."

"Where did you meet him?"

"We were together in the prison."

"I suppose he suspected some spy within hearing. Well, he took me to his
house, bound up my wound, and hid me in an inner chamber. There he left
me, promising soon to return; but for three days and nights I saw him
not again, nor any one. You may guess what I suffered shut up there,
thinking of all our friends."

"And you must have been nearly starved."

"No; he left me some food, though I was too miserable to care for it. At
last he came, and told me he had been imprisoned for assaulting the
soldier who wanted to kill me; his relatives, as he suspected, having
contrived the thing to keep him out of harm's way, since he knew they
thought him lacking in a proper zeal for Islam. But, on my account, and
still more on that of the Badvellie's children, whom he wanted to save,
he had been very eager to get out, and managed it at last, with large
backsheesh. He told me all the terrible news--of those who were dead,
and of those who, less happy, were living still."

After a sad pause he went on. "For myself, I am grateful to him. He
supplied all my wants, and kept me concealed there many days. At last,
yesterday, he came to me and said, 'I can hide you no longer. People are
beginning to suspect something. If they find you, they will kill you,
and kill me also for giving you shelter.' I said, 'For myself I care
not, for what have I left to live for?' but added that I could not bear
he should suffer on my account. So he said the best he could do for me
was to give me a Frank dress, arranged as Mussulmans wear it, and money
enough to keep me for the present. Which he did, and may God reward him,
and number him--if it so may be with any Turk--amongst His redeemed!"

"Amen!" Jack said. He did not like to tell Kevork, what Osman evidently
had not told him, that the father of Oriort Elmas had fallen by his
hand. There was no need for more, for now they were at the gate of the
Mission House. "It is best," Jack said, "that I should bring you first
to Miss Celandine; she will know what to do. For we must not tell
Gabriel too suddenly; he is ill and weak. You must be prepared, Kevork,
to see him greatly changed."

Yet the meeting between the brothers seemed to fan the feeble,
flickering spark of Gabriel's life into a flame. It was another tie to
earth to feel he had one brother there left him still--"No, _two_
brothers," as he said, looking lovingly at Jack.

A little while afterwards, Jack was sent for one day by Miss Celandine.
"Franks have come to her from Aintab," said the excited messenger.

Delighted to think that Miss Celandine's long loneliness was over, Jack
went to her at once. He found her in earnest converse with a grey-haired
American missionary, whom, in introducing Jack to him, she called Dr.
Sandeman. Then she said to Jack, "I want you very much, Mr. Grayson.
Baron Vartonian is in there," glancing at the door of an inner room. "He
came with Dr. Sandeman. He has just heard that of all his large family
there remains to him now not one. You know more about them than any one
else who is living now, save Gabriel. Will you go in and speak to him,
and comfort him if you can?"

Though his heart fainted within him at the thought of such a sorrow,
Jack went into the inner room. There were two persons there. Old Baron
Vartonian sat on the divan, his head bowed down upon both his hands, his
face hidden. Now and then the sound of low, deep moans--such moans as
only come from a strong man's deepest heart--broke the stillness.

Beside him stood a young man with a face incredibly pale and worn and
wasted, as if with some great agony, though its look was one of past
rather than of present suffering.


     "The look of one that had travailed sore,
     But whose pangs were ended now."


His hand was laid tenderly, and with a caressing touch, on the old man's
shoulder; for that was all the human sympathy he was able to bear just
yet. He motioned Jack to sit on the divan. "You were their friend, you
loved them," he said.

"And received from them much kindness," Jack answered in a low voice.
After a pause he went on, "She that was dearer to me than my life was as
a child in their house. It was they who brought her to the Mission
School, where such joy and help were given her."

"Why do I live?" the old man broke out suddenly. "It is wrong! It is
horrible! It is against nature! No reaper reaps the green and leaves the
ripe. No gardener leaves the dry stick in the ground and uproots the
flourishing tree. I am alone--alone--alone! I came back, after all those
long months of suffering, thinking, 'now I will rest, now I will end my
days in my home with my dear ones; my son--my firstborn--shall close my
eyes, and my children, and my children's children, shall lay me in the
grave.' And I find all gone--sons and sons' sons, with the mothers and
the children, and the children's children--even the little babe I had
never seen. Oh, my God! Oh, my God!"

Then letting his hands fall and looking at the two who stood beside him:
"But I do not believe it. It is not possible. Surely _one_ at least is
left alive. Let us go and see."

The pale-faced young man rose also. "It were best for us to bring him to
his own house," he said to Jack. "Perhaps, when he sees it, he will be
able to weep."

So Jack went, for the second time, to the house of the Vartonians. The
old man, burdened with a weight of sorrow nature seemed scarce able to
bear, asked them after a while to leave him in the family living-room,
which had been the centre of his home. While he sat there, alone with
his memories and his God, the two young men waited together in the
court.

Jack found that his companion was a theological student almost ready for
the ministry, to which he had been looking forward with eager hope, when
one day he was suddenly seized by zaptiehs and flung into a dungeon. Dr.
Sandeman--who was to him as a father, young Mardiros Vahanian said with
kindling eyes--had done all in his power to help him, or even to find
out of what he was accused. At last it was discovered that another
person had been arrested, upon whom there was found an English newspaper
containing a notice of the massacre at Sassoun. This man, probably under
torture, said that he had it from young Vahanian,--and that was all his
crime. On one occasion Dr. Sandeman got leave to visit him, though he
only saw him in the presence of Turks, and was only allowed to speak to
him in Turkish. As they parted, he ventured to whisper in English just
this, "Do not give up hope"--and terrible things had the poor lad
suffered afterwards on account of this one word. Not then, and not at
any time from his own lips, did Jack hear the true story of that prison
year, heaped with agonies, with tortures, and with outrages to us
happily inconceivable.

During a short time, towards the end, he had shared the cell of Baron
Vartonian, who also had been imprisoned on some futile charge. A strong
friendship had grown up between the young man and the old, thus thrown
together; and now, in the old man's utter loneliness and desolation,
Vahanian wished to take the place of a son, and to cherish and comfort
him.

Jack could not help doubting, when he looked at him, that he would be
long left in the world to comfort any one. But not liking to express
his doubt, he asked him how it was that in the end he got out of prison.

"I do not very well know," the young man answered. "Dr. Sandeman never
ceased to work for me; and I think that, somehow, he got the British
Consul interested in my case, and that he interceded for me, as I know
he did for Baron Vartonian, against whom indeed there was no charge that
the Turks themselves believed in. It was one of those false accusations
that any man can get a Turk to bring against a Christian for a couple of
medjids, and the hiring of two false witnesses to back him up; and
Christians being disqualified from bearing witness in a court of law,
the accused of course has no chance of proving his innocence. However,
thanks, I suppose, to the Consul, Baron Vartonian was released, and so
was I."

Jack asked him if he thought he was recovering his health.

"Oh yes, I grow stronger every day. If you had seen me when I first came
out of prison, you would wonder at the change." So he said; but Jack
wondered, instead, what he could possibly have looked like then.

"No doubt," he said, "while you were in prison, you often wished to
die."

"I did--_sometimes_," he answered, his eyes kindling--"not that I might
be away from my pain, but that I might be with my Saviour. But for the
most part, I felt Him so near me there, that I thought death itself
could scarcely bring us any closer."

Jack's look softened. "In spite of all your suffering, I call you
blessed," he said in a low voice. "Still, after all, that was knowing
Him by faith. In heaven, it will be sight."

"Which will be different, and _must_ be better, though it is hard to see
how it can. I thought I knew something before of the mystery of
communion with Him, but I felt as if I had never tasted it till then. I
did not know there could be such peace, such joy."

"Has it stayed with you since you came out?"

"No, and yes. When a child is hurt, the mother takes it in her arms and
fondles it; when it is well, she lets it run by her side. But she does
not love it the less."

"Perhaps it seems strange to you now to come back to life? Perhaps you
would rather not?"

"I would rather die, you think, and go to Him? Not just yet. There are
too many in the world that He wants me to help."

"Like these poor people here who have suffered so much?"

"Yes; but there are those more worthy of our pity than even they."

"_More_ worthy? Truly on God's earth it seems to me that there are none.
But I know what you mean," Jack added in a lower voice. "You are
thinking of those, in harems or elsewhere,--for whom we only dare to ask
one thing--_death_"

Vahanian's face grew sad. It was some moments before he spoke again. At
last he said, "There are those still more pitiable. No man has
compassion--no man cares for the soul of--the Turk."

Jack started, as if he had been shot. "How _could_ we?" he asked.

"Yet you say every day, 'Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them
that trespass against us.'"

"I never thought of it in that way. And I tell you, if I ever get back
to England, I will _not_ forgive the Turk! I will _not_ keep silence
about his evil deeds, about the things I have seen and heard of here!"

"Nor should you. To stop them would be to show the very kindness of God
even to the Turk himself. But I would it were God's will to stop them,
not with His wrath, but with His love."

"How could that be?"

"As he stopped St. Paul's. Do you not believe Christ died for the Turk
as well as for the Christian?"

"He died for all," Jack said reverently. "And I know He commands us to
forgive. But this thing is not possible--to man. And yet, it is strange,
but I remember that when I was led out to die, as I thought, by their
hands, I felt no anger against them--indeed I scarcely thought of them
at all. Yet afterwards, when I knew _all_ they had done, I could have
torn them limb from limb."

"Friend, you suffered more than I, because you suffered in others. It is
only written 'when they revile _you_,--persecute _you_.' But am I to
think God has no better thing for you than what He gave me? Because I
have had a few drops of this wine of His, of which He drank Himself, am
I to doubt that He can fill the cup for you, even to the brim? It is for
our sorest needs that He keeps His best cordials. And now I will go back
again to my friend, Baron Vartonian. I think he has been long enough
alone."

He went, and Jack looked after him, wondering,--and learning a new
lesson of what Christ can do for His suffering servants.

This is no fiction, it is literal truth. Except, indeed, that these poor
words fail to convey the depth and intensity of the pitying love, which
Divine grace had kindled in that young heart for those at whose hands he
had suffered such things.



Chapter XXIII

BETROTHAL

                 "Now with fainting frame,
     With soul just lingering on the flight begun,
     To bind for thee its last dim thoughts in one,
     I bless thee."


Miss Celandine's thoughtful kindness had screened off a little corner in
the crowded Church Hospital, where Gabriel's bed was placed, and there
was room for Kevork and John Grayson to sit beside him, when they could.
Elmas also came often to see him. When Kevork first returned, he had
brightened up so wonderfully, that the restored brother hoped they might
be left together. But there was no real return of strength, and the
temporary excitement ended in a reaction that meant increased weakness
and suffering. Yet neither Jack nor Kevork wished to face the truth;
they both, especially Kevork, clung to that frail young
life--tenaciously, desperately.

One day, not long after the arrival of Dr. Sandeman, Jack drew aside the
curtain, and came in. Kevork was there already, and made room for him to
sit down.

A smile passed over the sick boy's wasted face, but it was soon
succeeded by an anxious, troubled look. "Yon Effendi," he said, "you are
grieved to-day. What is it?"

Jack smiled too. "Oh, Gabriel, those fingers of yours!" he said. "There
is no escaping them."

It was a saying amongst them that Gabriel, whose hands were useless, had
been given "fingers in his heart," instead; for if there was any special
sorrow or need, he always knew it by some instinct, and, figuratively
speaking, put his finger on the place. For now, on his own account, he
had no more grief, no more fear; his heart was all "at leisure from
itself" for the griefs of others. He smiled again in answer, and not
sadly at all. "My fingers touch a trouble of yours, which yet is not all
a trouble," he said. "You have been talking to the American Badvellie."

"Yes, and to Miss Celandine. And they both advise me to go home."

Kevork turned a startled face to him. "But there is no use in thinking
of it," he said quickly. "They would not give you a passport, after what
you have done."

"That is just what _I_ said. There is no blood upon my conscience, but
upon my hand there is blood enough. Were I to apply, as things are now,
for a passport, my antecedents would be looked into, and I should never
be allowed to leave this land alive."

"They would never kill an Englishman," said Gabriel.

"Not openly in broad daylight, but in one way or another, I should
disappear."

"So I think," said Kevork eagerly. "You must run no such risks as that,
my brother."

"Dr. Sandeman has a different plan," Jack said. "That fine young fellow,
Vahanian, wants to stay here to be with Baron Vartonian, and to help
among the wounded. What if I took his passport, and went to Aleppo in
his place?"

"You would be found out."

"The doctor thinks not. He almost undertakes to put me safely through. I
can dye my hair and stain my face a little. Not much will be needed, so
well your suns have browned me."

"Then, Yon Effendi, your mind is to leave us," Kevork said sorrowfully,
almost bitterly.

"My mind is _not_ to leave you," Jack answered. "Only I want to know
which thing is right to do." He looked tenderly at Gabriel as he added,
"A while ago, I could not have gone. I could not have left you alone,
Gabriel--but now you have Kevork. God has given him back to you from the
dead."

"God has given Kevork to me," Gabriel said; "but what is He going to
give Kevork? For, you know, I cannot stay with him!"

"Don't speak that way," Jack said hastily.

Kevork was more visibly overcome. "I cannot go on alone," he said. "I
_cannot_. Gabriel,--you must not go."

Gabriel was much worse that night; and early in the morning Jack went
for Kevork, whose sleeping place was in another part of the crowded
Mission premises.

"Come quickly," he said. "I think he is going from us."

Kevork sprang up from his mat, threw a jacket over his zeboun, and,
choking down a sob, followed his friend in silence. The sweet morning
air, which had the touch and thrill of the springtime in it, fanned
their brows as they crossed over to the church, where Gabriel lay.

"Who is with him?" Kevork asked.

"Anna Hanum."

She was kneeling beside the dying boy, and as they entered looked up
with her calm, sweet face.

"He is easier now," she said.

"You will try to be glad for me, will you not?" Gabriel whispered; "you
know it is best."

"You will soon be with them all--your father and mother, and my
Shushan," Jack answered.

"I shall be--with Christ," Gabriel said.

"For whom you have given your life."

"Who gave His life for me."

But his dark, wistful eyes turned away, even from the beloved Yon
Effendi, to rest upon his brother's face.

"There is some one else I want to see," he murmured. "Stoop down, Anna
Hanum."

He whispered a name into her ear.

She said, "Yes, dear," and glided softly away.

"It is Miss Celandine he wants," both the young men thought. Jack took
the place beside him. He lay still, with closed eyes, resting. Only once
he opened them, when a moan from the crowded space outside was heard
through the curtain.

"Some one is suffering, Yon Effendi," he said. "Please go and help."

Kevork was left with him alone, his tears falling without restraint.

"_Don't_, Kevork," he whispered; "there is comfort coming, for you."

Jack returned presently. Miss Celandine, who had _not_ been sent for,
came in also, and with her--Elmas Stepanian.

At the sight of the beloved teacher, Gabriel tried to raise himself; but
it was more than he could do. He looked at her appealingly. "The
hand--that has saved us all--to my lips--once more," he prayed.

Instead of giving him her hand, she stooped down and kissed him, lip to
lip, and motioned to Elmas to do the same. In _her_ face he looked
earnestly, while he gathered all his remaining strength to speak.

"Oriort Elmas, Kevork has loved you ever since he was at school in
Aintab. All the rest are gone from him; I am going now. It is too hard
for him to stay here alone. Will _you_ comfort him, Oriort Elmas?"

"If I can," she answered soothingly, as one speaks to the dying.

"But I want to hear the Promise--on the Book--before I go."

She drew back, her face flushing crimson, and looked at Miss Celandine
in perplexity.

Kevork drew a step nearer and spoke. "Oriort Elmas, it is quite true.
Though I would not have dared to say it _now_, had not he said it for
me; for we stand together in the shadow of the grave. But if this dear
lady, who is a mother to us all, will allow it, and you will give me
your promise, there is nothing man may do"--(his voice quivered and
thrilled with suppressed feeling)--"nothing man may do that I will not
do for you, and find my joy in it, for I love you more than life."

Elmas Stepanian's character, strong by nature, had been annealed in the
furnace of affliction. That furnace had burned away the bonds of those
timid conventions that usually held the daughters of her race. In a low
but firm voice she answered, "If Miss Celandine approves, I will give
it."

Jack was standing beside Miss Celandine. He took out his father's Bible,
which he always kept with him, and put it in her hand, with a
significant look from her to Kevork. She understood the mute appeal. If
she gave the Book to Kevork for the purpose they all knew, it would be
her act of sanction to this strange betrothal.

She paused a moment: then she said, "The God of your fathers, and your
God, bless you both," and laid the Book in the outstretched hand of
Kevork.

Kevork gave it to Elmas. "So I plight my troth to thee, for good days
and evil, for health and sickness, for life and death, and for that
which is beyond," he said.

"And I also to thee," Elmas answered.

"Now it is all right," Gabriel said, with a look of infinite relief. "I
will tell them."

"But you are very tired," Jack interposed, noting a rapid change in his
face, and turning to get a cordial he was accustomed to give him.

"Kevork," he whispered, "take Oriort Elmas away. There are too many
here."

"_No_," said Miss Celandine; "I think you had better stay. Mr. Grayson,
never mind that cup; he cannot take it."

There followed a few minutes of struggle and suffering; a brief conflict
of the spirit with the failing flesh. It was soon over. Once more the
look of peace settled down on the wasted face, and now it was for ever.
Gabriel looked around, and recognised them all. Then, in that action so
common to the dying, he slowly raised his right arm, and waved the
bandaged, helpless hand. "With His own right hand, and with His holy
arm, hath He gotten Himself the victory," he said with his parting
breath.

His brother closed his eyes, and the others mingled their tears with
his, until at last Miss Celandine said gently,--

"My children, he needs our care no more; and there are many waiting
without who still need it sorely."

"I will go with you and help," Jack answered.

So they went, leaving Kevork and Elmas kneeling together beside their
dead.



Chapter XXIV

UNDER THE FLAG OF ENGLAND

     "Whose flag has braved a thousand years
       The battle and the breeze."

     --_T. Campbell._


"Mr. Grayson, you are young yet," said the venerable missionary, Dr.
Sandeman to the grey-haired, toil-worn man before him.

"Do I _look_ young?" John Grayson answered. "No, I am old--old. The last
year has done for me the work of other men's three score and ten."

"I know what you have seen and suffered."

"It has not been _all_ suffering," Jack said. "I have _lived_. I have
tasted the wine of life as well as the poison. I have loved, and been
beloved."

"I know," the missionary said again; and he spoke the truth--_he knew_.
"But there are many years before you yet. For them all, that love will
be a memory."

"It cannot be a memory," Jack interrupted, "for it is myself."

It was far from Dr. Sandeman's thought to blaspheme that creed of youth
which stamps the signet of eternity upon its love, its joy, its
suffering, its despair. Old as he was, his own heart had kept too young
for that. He said, "When you return to your own land, you will find
waiting for you interests and pursuits, cares and duties also, which
will engross your energies, and fill your life."

"Not my life," Jack answered. "When I wedded Shushan, I wedded her
race."

"If indeed God calls you to help in drying the tears of this 'Niobe of
nations,' I can think of no higher calling," Dr. Sandeman answered with
emotion.

"But for that hope," said Jack, "do you think I could leave this place?
Do you think I could abandon all these helpless sufferers, and that
heroic woman, whose name a thousand times over deserves the 'Saint'
before it, if only we Protestants had a calendar of our own, as we
ought?"

"But we never could," said the missionary with a smile; "it would need a
page for every day. However, Miss Celandine herself is urging your
departure."

"And things for the present seem quieter," Jack added. "_Safe_ can
nothing be, in this miserable land. I am glad Vahanian is staying; he
will be a great help."

"Yes," said the missionary, "and he is glad to work here for the
present, though he still keeps the dream and longing of his heart; and
he thinks God will fulfil it one day, and allow him to make known the
gospel of His grace to the Turks. Miss Celandine is beginning to gather
in the orphans, a few of them--poor, destitute, starving little ones!
Did you hear that Baron Vartonian has lent his house to give them
shelter?"

"No; I am glad to think of the home I knew being used for such a
purpose. And it will comfort his own desolate heart."

"But now for yourself, Mr. Grayson. Are you ready for the journey?"

"Yes," returned Jack, with a rather mournful smile. "You see, I have no
packing to do."

"Right; the less you carry the better."

"Here is the one treasure I bring back from Armenia; and I have learned
here, as perhaps I should never have learned elsewhere, what a treasure
it is," Jack said, producing his father's Bible. "By right," he added,
"it should belong to Oriort Elmas, for it is the book of her betrothal;
but she and Kevork both say I must take it back, on account of its
memories. I wish, Doctor, those two could come to England with me."

"With you they cannot come. But I wish they could follow you; for Kevork
seems to have taken an active share in resisting the Turks at the time
of the first massacre, and such things are not forgotten."

"The Turks forget nothing--except their promises," said Jack. "But, Dr.
Sandeman, there is another matter which causes me some embarrassment. I
am absolutely without money. The fact is, I have been living upon these
poor people, and latterly upon Miss Celandine."

Dr. Sandeman smiled. "I think she would say your services have been
worth more than your morsel of bread. And as for your journey, we can
take you on without expense as far as Aleppo. I am going there."

"You are very good; and the cost at least I can repay you afterwards,
but the kindness--never. But I shall have to get somehow from Aleppo to
Alexandretta, and there to take a passage in the first steamer I can
find. How can all that be managed?"

"When you come to Aleppo, you shall tell your story to the English
Consul. I have little doubt he will provide for your safe conveyance to
Alexandretta, and lend you the passage money."

"How shall I get him to believe me? I should not mind so much if he were
the same I knew when I passed through Aleppo with my father, five years
ago. But this is another man."

"He will believe you," the missionary said quietly. He would not speak
of his own influence for a double reason--it would be boastful, and it
might be dangerous. "Your story bears all the impress of truth, and you
can prove it in a hundred ways."

"Then my course is plain," Jack said. "And the first step," he added
with a sigh, "is to say farewell to the dear friends here." He rose to
go, but turned back to ask, with a little hesitation, "Dr. Sandeman,
have you seen the Cathedral?"

"_Yes_" said the missionary with a shudder. "After all this time, it is
still the most sickening sight I have ever beheld. Not sight alone;
every sense is outraged. Do not go near it, Mr. Grayson."

"And yet," Jack answered, "Christ's martyrs went to Him from thence."


John Grayson's journey, in the company of Dr. Sandeman, proved as little
eventful as any journey at that time and in those regions could possibly
be. One sad episode indeed there was. As usual, they halted at Biridjik.
They found the town a wreck and the houses in ruins, many of them
burned, others plundered and defaced. The streets were almost impassable
with rubbish, broken glass, fragments of furniture, and other far more
ghastly memorials of the massacre.

The remaining inhabitants had been forced to become Moslems to save
their lives. They kept themselves shut up in their houses, or moved
about--pale, attenuated shadows, with fear and horror stamped upon their
countenances. No intercourse was permitted between them and the
missionary's party; only a few of them dared to look at the travellers
with eyes of piteous appeal and recognition, and to make furtively, with
rapid fingers, the sign of the cross. Jack longed to give them Gabriel's
word of comfort, "Christ will forgive you; only you have lost a grand
opportunity." He said this to Dr. Sandeman, who answered, "_You_ have a
right to say that; so had he; but it seems to me that no man who has not
been tried thus can estimate the trial, the opportunity, or the loss."

"But oh, the sadness of it all!" Jack said. And then these two brave,
strong men of Anglo-Saxon race did just what the exiles of Israel did so
many ages ago, "By the waters of Babylon they sat down and wept."

Before they quitted Biridjik John Grayson went, in the early morning, to
visit his father's grave. He was greatly relieved to find it had been
left undisturbed, for he knew that horrible outrages had been committed
elsewhere upon the graves of the Christians. Kneeling on the hallowed
spot, he thanked God for his father's noble life and bright example,
and for sustaining and preserving himself through so many perils.

Then the thought came to him, as it had done so many times before,
though never perhaps with such poignancy, that other dust, most
precious, had no resting-place in sacred ground. Over the grave of
Shushan none might ever weep, nor could any find it, until that day when
all that are in the graves shall hear the voice of the Son of Man.
Bitter it seemed to John Grayson that this solace, the right of the
humblest mourner, was denied to him.

But presently he rose from his knees with the thrill of another
thought--a new one--in his heart. He looked around him. Not far could
his eye reach as he stood there; but the eyes of his mind were ranging
over the whole beautiful, sorrow-stricken, desolated land, from
Trebizond by the northern sea to the rice plains of Adana in the south.
"My Shushan has a royal resting-place," he said. "For me, all Armenia is
her grave. And, as holding that sacred dust, I will love, and live for,
and cherish that land all my life long, God helping me."


Throughout their whole route the travellers found heart-rending tokens
of the ruin of the country and the misery of the people. Some sights
they saw are absolutely beyond description, and would haunt them both
until the end of their days. "How long, O Lord, how long!" was the word
oftenest on Dr. Sandeman's lips.

Still, no man molested _them_, or hindered them in any way. Aintab was
first reached, then in due time Aleppo, and John Grayson found himself
once more amongst Englishmen. He felt as if he had been dead and buried,
and brought to life again in a new world, which he had forgotten, and
which had forgotten him. He met however at the Consulate, some who
remembered his father, and once he came to know these, his past began to
revive within him. At once upon his arrival he wrote to his friends in
England; but he did not think there would be time for an answer to come
before he left.

The Consul, although personally a stranger, was very kind, which did him
the more credit since he thought at first there was something curious
and unusual about this young Englishman with the grey hair and the sad
face. Indeed, he asked Dr. Sandeman privately if Mr. Grayson was
entirely in his right mind. Once reassured on this point, he gave him
most efficient help. He got him a passport, advanced him the necessary
money, and sent a competent and faithful dragoman, and a couple of
kavasses, with him to Alexandretta, with orders not to leave him until
they saw him safely on board a vessel going to England.

With a sense of almost bewildering strangeness and wonder, Jack stood at
last on the deck of the great steamship _Semaphore_, bound for
Southampton. He watched the crowds about him--sailors preparing for the
start, passengers getting on board with much stir and bustle. They had
to come in boats, and there was quite a little fleet of these about the
companion ladder, the rowers shouting and screaming as each tried to get
his own craft in first. The dragoman had told Jack that all the Franks
stopped at this place and went on shore, to visit the spot where a
battle was fought long ago by Alexander the Great--the battle of Issus,
that was what they called it.

An official stood at the ship's side, examining the passport of every
passenger who came on board. Near him stood the captain, a rough,
hearty-looking British seaman. There was great hurry, crowding, and
confusion, and it was very evident the passport business was not done as
thoroughly as it might have been. It was not difficult for a
passportless person, or even two or three, to slip in "unbeknownst," as
he heard the under-steward, an Irishman, remarking casually to a
friend. Jack edged himself out of the crowd, and watched. Presently he
saw a boat filled with zaptiehs--well he knew their hateful uniform--put
off from the shore, and make for the ships in the bay. It might be the
_Semaphore_ they meant, it might be one of the others. Jack knew his
passport was all in order, still he did not like that sight. He could
not realize yet that he was out of Turkey, that he stood on the deck of
a British ship, and that the glorious flag of old England was waving
above his head.

So he went quietly downstairs to the cabin, resolved to stay there until
the good ship _Semaphore_ should be actually on her way.

Meanwhile, the Turkish boat came on apace, and before it, faster still,
flew another little boat. A young man, standing up in it, sprang on the
companion ladder just about to be withdrawn, and ran up, leaving a girl
and a boy in the boat.

"Too late, my man," said the captain, waving him back.

"Oh, sir, take us!" the young man cried. He was trembling, and his face
white with terror. "Take us!--we will pay!"

"I can't. We have no more room."

"We will pay you well--ten pounds a-piece."

"No; our second cabin is full. And we are off now."

"Fifteen pounds a-piece."

"No, not for twenty pounds."

"For pity's sake! We are Armenians, fleeing for our lives."

"You Armenians are all rogues," said the captain. "No is no," and he
turned away.

"For CHRIST'S sake, then!" cried the young man in an agony.

The captain turned back again.

"Why did you not say that before?" he asked, in an altered voice. "I am
a Christian man, and I cannot refuse _that_ plea."

"Thank God!" the young man almost sobbed.--"_My sister._"

In less than a minute more the boy and girl were helped up the ladder by
willing hands, and all three stood together on the deck--_safe_.

Then the great heart of the ship began to throb, and she was soon
steaming merrily out of the harbour.

John Grayson came on deck again, and seeing three Armenians standing by
the side of the vessel, drew near, laid his hand on the young man's
shoulder, and looked him in the face.

"Kaspar Hohanian!" he exclaimed in surprise. "Is it possible this is
you?"

Kaspar seemed scarcely able to speak even yet. But he drew a long
breath, tried to compose himself, and returned Jack's look of inquiry.

"Who are you?" he asked.

"Do you not know me? Do you not remember our awful week together in the
prison at Urfa, expecting death. I am John Grayson."

"With that white hair! I thought you were dead."

"So I thought of you, and with more reason. I thought all the band who
watched and prayed together through those sad days were gone to
God--save me."

For a moment both were silent. Jack did not care, until he knew more, to
look again in the face of his friend. He could not but remember there
was only _one_ way of escape for any of that devoted group. Kaspar
divined his thought, and said,--

"No; I have not denied the faith. Though, if the same trial came again,
I dare not answer for myself. Strangely enough, Mr. Grayson, it was
through you my life was saved."

"How could that be?"

"I will tell you when I find my sister a place to rest in."

"The young lady is your sister? May I----"

But the captain came up just then, interrupting them.

"Come along," he said to Kaspar, with rough kindliness, "I will find a
place to stow you in. Don't be afraid, young lady." Then to the boy,
"Run along, my boy, to that ladder you see leading down below."

But the lad stood motionless, his large brown eyes staring vaguely in
the direction of the voice.

"He is blind, sir," Kaspar explained. "During the massacre he hid in a
dry well. He was there several hours, and came out stone blind from the
terror."

"Poor boy! Well, come along with me, all of you. The ladies will make
room for your sister among them."

"And, Captain," Jack interposed, "the boy can have my berth. This young
man and I, who are old friends, can sleep on the deck together."

The captain agreed. He was heard to remark afterwards that he "thought
Armenians were all savages, but these people seemed just like
ourselves."

At night, under the stars, Jack and Kaspar resumed their conversation.
They were very comfortable; the Irish steward brought them rugs and
cushions, and lingered to say he was glad the gentlemen and the young
lady had got away from "thim murtherin' brutes of Turks. I was in
Constantinople last September," said he, "and, by the Powers, Oliver
Cromwell himself was a thrifle to thim!"

"And I wish we had Oliver Cromwell here to deal with them now!" Jack
said, with juster views of history.

The great ship was ploughing easily and steadily through calm waters.
All around and all about them reigned sleep and rest. It was a good time
to talk of past perils and to enjoy present security.

"How could you say your life was saved through me?" John Grayson asked.

"I must tell you first why I was not killed with the rest," answered
Kaspar. "That was horrible. All the rest were dead, even Thomassian; but
they took me back again to the prison. There they brought me a paper to
sign, setting forth that the men who had been executed were convicted of
a plot to attack the mosques and murder the Moslems at their Service on
Friday. If I signed, they promised me life, and without the condition of
renouncing my faith."

"And you?"

"Was I going to take the crown from the heads of the martyrs of God, and
fling it down to the dust to be trampled on like that? They urged me,
arguing that these men were all dead, so that nothing I could say or
sign could do them any harm, whereas, if I refused, they--the
Turks--could do me a great deal of harm, which was certainly true."

"And then?"

"Then I _went down into hell_. Do not ask me more. I was praying every
hour for death, when, to my amazement, they came to me, not with fresh
tortures, but with meat and drink, good clothes _à la Frank_, and the
offer of a bath. I was wondering what strange form of mockery or torture
their imaginations had got hold of to which this might be the prelude,
when they explained to me that you--the Englishman--had made your
escape; and that, just after they discovered this, the Pasha had sent
orders for you to be brought to him, and would be very angry, and accuse
them of great negligence, when he found you were not forthcoming. They
knew I spoke English, and they offered me my pardon if I would personate
you for the time; thinking, I suppose, that being rather tall and of
fairer complexion than most of us, I would look the part tolerably well.
So I was brought into a light, comfortable room, and for three or four
days very well treated. It was during that time I heard of the massacre.
At last I was set free. How it came about I do not quite understand, and
I suppose I never shall. I suspect however that the Pasha never sent for
me, having so much else at that time to occupy him, but that, instead,
he sent orders that the Englishman was to be quietly set free without
noise or stir. And he may have directed his messenger to see the orders
carried out, else might they not have let me go so easily."

"Did you try to go back to your home?"

He bowed his head. "My two elder brothers and my little sister--all
dead. Artin hid in the well in our yard, to come out blind, as you see,
and to wander about in darkness and misery, escaping death by a miracle.
I found him starving, and almost out of his mind."

"And your sister?"

"Markeret? Through the brave kindness of two aged women, friends of our
family, she was saved. If any had a chance of escape, it was such old
women, who were thought neither worth the killing nor the taking. They
spread a rug over her, and actually _sat_ upon her all through the
killing time. The Turks came in often, searched the house, and stole or
destroyed what they found. But happily they did no worse. You can
imagine the distress of body and the agony of mind of those endless
hours. When things seemed a little safer they took her out, half dead,
and concealed her in their store-room. But I do not think the look of
fear will ever leave her face. It is stamped there."

Jack thought it was on his own as well.

"But to have made your way down here from Urfa, with those two, was a
perfect wonder," he said. "How did you do it?"

"I had help. I told you of the Turk, our acquaintance, who tried to save
me before? I went to him with my tale of misery. He promised to help me,
and he did. He took into counsel a friend of his, one Osman Effendi,
whom you know. Together they managed matters so well for us, that, after
many difficulties too long to tell of, we came safely to Alexandretta.
There we mingled with the crowds who were making holiday in the plain of
Issus, and tried to slip with them on board the steamer. But the
zaptiehs were after us."

"Can I help you when we come to England?" Jack asked.

"No doubt, by-and-by; and I shall be thankful. But at first we have
friends to go to. A brother of my mother's went long ago to a place they
call Man-jester, to trade in Turkish goods. He will receive us, I am
sure. The gold coins Markeret has about her will pay our passage, and
_may_ leave something over, to bring us there."

"Come to me for whatever you want," John Grayson said cordially.

Kaspar thanked him, and dropped into silence. His face showed excessive
weariness, and all the more plainly because of the reaction from extreme
terror. However, he roused himself to say: "I want to tell you
something rather odd. One day Osman shut me up for safety in his private
room. I saw a book lying there, and noticing that the characters were
Arabic, I took it up to look. It was a Bible in Turkish. He came in and
found me reading it. He said to me, with a kind of carelessness that I
think hid some real feeling, 'Yes, I got a loan of that. I wanted to
find out the secret of your people's patience under all that has come
upon them.' I asked if he had found it. He answered me, 'I think I have.
It is the spirit of Hesoos, your Prophet. He was like that.'--Oh, I am
very tired!"

"Well, then, my friend, lie down here under the stars, and _sleep_.
Think that now no enemy's hand can touch you, or your brother, or your
sister any more. Sleep safe under the flag of England, the dear old
'Union Jack.'"



Chapter XXV

AT HOME

     "How soon a smile of God can change the world!
     How we are made for happiness--how work
     Grows play, adversity a winning fight!"

     --_R. Browning._


It was a bright July morning. After a prosperous voyage, the _Semaphore_
was steaming in to Southampton Pier. John Grayson stood on the deck,
looking at the shores of the native land he had never hoped to see
again. Near him, though not speaking, stood Kaspar Hohanian; and a
little behind them Artin and Markeret sat together, the sister telling
her blind brother all she saw. The three had just been thanking the
captain, with full hearts, for many kindnesses shown them during the
voyage.

Presently the throbbing pulses of the ocean monster sank into stillness;
the double gangway was laid across; and then ensued a frantic rush of
eager passengers, laden with every description of the luggage called by
courtesy "light." Others stood on guard beside their boxes, or shouted
to the porters, who were rushing still more frantically the other way.

Along with the porters came a tall athletic young parson, in a soft felt
hat and clerical undress. With alert and cheerful aspect, he went about
among the groups, looking earnestly at all the men, in evident search
for some one. He bestowed a rapid glance upon Kaspar Hohanian, but
turned away disappointed. Then he almost flung himself upon John
Grayson--only to draw off again instantly, much disconcerted. "I beg
your pardon," he said.

Jack looked him in the face. It was a good face, and a strong face
too--frank, manly, trustful and trustworthy. The young man's complexion,
naturally fair, was well bronzed by air and exercise, his eyes were
English blue, his hair and beard light brown.

"I beg your pardon," he said to Jack, with the slight, respectful
inflection of tone a well-bred young man uses to an elder. "I mistook
you for a cousin, who is on board, and whom I have come to meet."

"May I ask the name?"

"Mr. John Grayson. We have not met since we were both schoolboys. So,
you see, I am a little puzzled."

"Fred--Fred Pangbourne, don't you know me?" cried Jack, springing
forward and seizing both his hands.

"I--I could not have believed it!" Fred ejaculated, horror-stricken. "My
poor Jack, what have they done with you?"

_That_ question could not be answered in a breath. "How is your father?
How is every one?" Jack queried, evading it.

"Ah! so you did not get our letters, and have heard nothing. My father
went from us years ago. The rest of us are quite well. Now you are
coming with me, right away, to Gladescourt."

"To where?"

"My Curacy. At present indeed I may call it my Rectory; since, in the
Rector's absence, I live in his house. Where is your luggage?"

"In this handbag."

Fred looked surprised, but only said, "Let us come at once then."

"Stay, Fred; I must look after my friends." He turned to them and spoke
in Armenian. "Kaspar, take care of your sister; I will look after
Artin."

Fred wondered who these people could be, but was too courteous not to
offer his services. He thought the dark-eyed girl remarkably pretty,
but felt provoked at the boy's passivity and want of interest in
everything, until Jack whispered, "He is blind."

A few words in the strange tongue were exchanged with them; then Jack
enquired, "Do you know about the trains to Manchester, Fred? Can my
friends get there to-night?"

"Oh, I dare say. I will find out. But come on shore now. I have ordered
breakfast at the Hotel; and," he added, in the warmth of his heart,
"will you ask your friends to come with us?"

"You can ask them yourself," said Jack, smiling. "They speak
English,--Kaspar very well, the others a little." Then he duly
introduced his friend Baron Kaspar Hohanian to his cousin the Rev.
Frederick Pangbourne.

A couple of hours later, the three Armenians were safely deposited in
the train for London, with full instructions how to change, when they
got there, to the Northern Line, while Jack and his cousin were rolling
swiftly in a different direction. Conversation, as usual in such cases,
was intermittent, incoherent, dealing with trifles near at hand, rather
than with the great things each had to tell the other. "Those Armenians
astonish me," Fred remarked. "Their manners are perfect. They might take
their places, with credit, in any London drawing-room. But then, I
suppose, they are of the highest rank in their own country. You called
the young man 'Baron.'"

"Oh, that is nothing! Baron only means 'Mr.' But I really think, Fred,
from what I heard on board, that the English fancy the Armenians are a
kind of savages. They are a highly refined and intellectual race, with a
civilization older than our own, and a very copious and interesting
literature."

"But what a wreck your friend looks! Has he just come out of a great
illness?"

"He has come out of what is infinitely worse--a Turkish prison. But,
Fred, there are a thousand things I want to know. My poor uncle?"

Frederick Pangbourne told him in many words what may here be compressed
into very few. When the tidings of the death of the two Graysons came to
their friends at home, Ralph Pangbourne was just dead, and his eldest
son was lying dangerously ill in typhoid fever. Young and experienced,
and beset by many cares and troubles, the new squire, on his recovery,
was quite unable to investigate the story sent to him by the Consul from
Aleppo. Indeed, no one thought of doubting it; though all sincerely
regretted these near relatives, left to lie in unknown graves in that
distant land--


     "With none to tell '_them_' where we sleep."


Had one of the young Pangbournes been free to do it, he would gladly
have made a pilgrimage (attractive, besides, for the adventure's sake)
to the far East, to find the resting-place of his uncle and his cousin.
But young Ralph, the squire, was overwhelmed with business; Tom, the
second son, was in India, doing well in the Civil Service; and Fred was
at Cambridge, preparing for the ministry.

There was another question. What of "the Grayson money," as it was
called in the family? It was no secret that, before leaving England,
John Grayson had made his will, bequeathing the bulk of his fortune, in
case of his son's death without issue, to his nephew and namesake, John
Frederick Pangbourne. But though they assumed, as a certain fact, the
death of both the father and the son, the Pangbournes felt it would be a
difficult matter to prove it in a court of law. Fred, the person
principally concerned, entreated his brothers to let the matter rest, at
least until the termination of the seven years of absence and silence
which the law accepts as equivalent to a proof of death. He had,
inwardly, an intense repugnance--a repugnance he could not account for
to himself--to the thought of touching the Grayson money. In secret, and
unknown to all the rest, he cherished a fancy that his cousin might
still be found among the living. When Jack's letter arrived from Aleppo,
he exulted openly and heartily. A post-card which followed it having
informed him that Jack was to sail in the _Semaphore_, he watched daily
for news of the vessel; and it was with joy and gladness that he
hastened down to Southampton, to be the first to welcome him on English
ground. He had set his heart upon carrying him off at once to the sweet
Surrey rectory, where his favourite sister, Lucy, kept house for him,
and shared the pleasant labours of the rural parish. But he was not
prepared to find, instead of a lad five years his junior, a worn,
broken, grey-haired man.

He did not tell all, or nearly all, this to Jack, though he told a great
many other things. The only reference indeed that he made to money
matters was to say, "You must run up to town on Monday, and see Penn &
Stamper. They will tell you all about my uncle's affairs. You know,
Jack, you are a rich man. Won't they just have a balance worth looking
at to hand over to you, after all these years?"

They got out at a little road-side station, and walked over sunny fields
to a private door opening into a well-kept pleasure ground. Another
minute brought them to the Rectory porch, over which climbed a beautiful
wisteria. The whole scene looked the very picture of peace, of
"quietness and assurance for ever." Fred stopped a moment, to point out
the spire of "our Church," which was seen above the trees at the far
side of the house. As they looked at it, a fair girl came running down
to the door to welcome her brother. Blue eyes, golden hair, cheeks like
a tinted sea-shell, coral lips and the sweetest of smiles, made up for
Jack a vision of beauty bewilderingly new and strange. Yet he only felt
it touch the surface of his soul.

After dinner, which was early, the two young men walked about together;
Fred joyously and proudly showing his cousin the beauties of his home,
which, he said, might be his for long enough, as his Rector, for special
reasons, was residing abroad.

"It is a home of peace," Jack said. Old, old memories were coming to
life every moment. The sound of rooks cawing in the elms, the velvet
lawn, the flowers in the trim parterre, the very feel of the air and hue
of the sunshine, brought back those old days when his little feet had
trotted over just such velvet turf, his little hand clinging to his
mother's gown. Ah, if _she_ were here! And his father--the father who
had been also his hero, brother, comrade, friend. Then a sweet thought
brought sudden tears to his eyes. Surely the angels would see to it that
Shushan found them out! His heart, bruised and sore with longings for
what might have been, grew still. His Lily had a fairer home than this--


     "Over the river, where the fields are green."


The cousins went back to the house. Lucy poured out tea for them, and
asked Jack, lightly and prettily, many questions about the strange
places he had been in, and the strange things he must have seen. He
answered evasively, with a reserve of manner which she thought very odd,
until she hit upon the explanation that this new cousin--who was so
young and looked so old--had been so long amongst wild, barbarous
people, that on his return to civilization he was actually
feeling--_shy_.

She was not sorry when Fred took him off to his "den," as he called his
very comfortable and commodious study. But she said, with a pretty
monitorial air, and a careful eye to the sermon for
to-morrow--"Remember, Fred, this is Saturday night."

Then the real talk began. Jack, in writing from Aleppo, had simply told
of his father's death, and added that he himself had endured _and seen_
much suffering, and that he was coming home to tell the rest. Now he
poured forth the whole story into willing and sympathizing ears.

Lucy went up to bed that night wondering if Fred and the new cousin
would ever stop talking, and full of anxious thoughts about the
neglected sermon. As long as she stayed awake she heard their voices in
the room underneath her own; and at last she dropped asleep, with the
sermon still upon her mind.

Waking in the early summer morning, she heard steps in the passage
outside her door, and words spoken that seemed to echo her thoughts.

"But your sermon?"

"I have got it. Good night--or rather, good morning."



Chapter XXVI

A SERMON

     "Thy Father hears the mighty cry of anguish,
       And gives His answering messages to thee."

     --_C. Pennefather._


Brief sleep, if any, had John Grayson that Sunday morning. As so often
heretofore he could not sleep for pain or sorrow, now he could not sleep
_for rest_. The sense of the peace that was all around him was too new,
too wonderful. He soon arose from that fair, snow-white English bed,
with its pure linen smelling of lavender, to wander out over the dewy
lawn, where the morning sun touched everything with glory. The birds
sang aloud to welcome the new day--the long, long day--every hour of it
to be filled with their innocent joy. One sweet-voiced blackbird lighted
on a rose-bush close to him, and sang. They seemed to have no fear. In
this happy land fear did not reign. No doubt it was there--often--for
England, after all, was earth and not heaven; but it was a shadow
lurking in dark places, not an eclipse blotting out the sun, a presence
darkening all the joy of life.

But this blessed peace only stamped deeper upon Jack's heart the memory
of that far land of agony and blood. "If I forget thee, O Armenia," he
said aloud, "let my right hand forget her cunning. If I do not remember
thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth, if I prefer not thee
above my chief joy. My chief joy," he thought again, "lies buried there,
and can never live for me upon this earth. But, by that grave, by that
dead love, or rather by that love that can never die, I am pledged not
to rest in happy England, but to work for sad Armenia, and to wait for
my Sabbath keeping until we keep it all together in the Home above."

He did not know how long it was before his cousin came out to summon him
to their early Sunday breakfast. Fred's voice had lost the joyful ring
it had at their first meeting. He looked like a strong man who had just
heard of a great bereavement. Lucy, waiting to receive him in her fresh
Sunday dress, with her look of peace and purity, felt vaguely that there
was sadness in the air, but her mind was too full of her Sunday-school
class to dwell upon that subject.

"Will you come with us to church?" Fred asked his cousin.

Jack looked surprised at the question. "Certainly," he said. "Why not?"

"Because I have to say that which will give you pain--yet I cannot
forbear. You have given me my sermon for to-day."

Nevertheless John Grayson joined the stream of church-goers: fathers,
and mothers, and little children, old men and old women coming in
together, while the rosy-cheeked Sunday scholars took their appointed
places. He looked round with strangely mingled feelings on the old
country church, which was without elaborate ornament, although seemly
and reverent in all its appointments, as befitted a house of God. But
what most arrested him was the "fair white cloth" on the Holy Table,
showing that the Feast of the Lord was spread that day. He had never yet
partaken of it in the Church of his fathers; but he no more doubted his
right to come than the child doubts his right to sit down at his
father's table, because it is spread in a strange room. It was a joy to
look forward to that; it was a joy meanwhile to join once more, though
with trembling lips, in the dear, familiar prayers-those prayers "that
sound like church bells in the ears of the English child."

And now his cousin stood in the pulpit. In his aspect and bearing there
was a deep solemnity, which, young though he was, made him look in
truth "as one that pleaded with men." He read his text, "_A name which
is above every name_," and began with an exposition of the context,
lucid, thoughtful, and evincing careful study.

Jack's thoughts wandered from the words to the speaker, and from the
speaker to the surroundings, once so familiar, now so unwonted and
strange to him. Presently however a word arrested him.

"My brethren," said the preacher, leaning over the pulpit in his
earnestness, "have you ever thought what a wonderful thing is the love
of Christ?"

"Surely," Jack said to himself, "if we have ever thought of Him at all,
we have thought of that."

"I do not mean now," the preacher went on, "the love of Christ for us. I
use 'love of Christ' as I use 'love of country,' 'love of friends,' to
mean--not theirs for us, but ours for them. And I say, that the love of
Humanity for Christ is a mystery only less than the grand, supreme
mystery of all--the love of Christ for man. And the greater mystery is
proved and illustrated by the less. As we may look, in its reflection,
on some object too bright to gaze upon directly,--as we may measure a
mountain by its shadow, so may we gain some faint conception of _how_
'He first loved us,' by the wondering contemplation of how men in all
ages have loved Him.

"Consider. The Man called Christ Jesus lived, for three and thirty
years, or less, in a little corner of the world, which He never left. Of
those years thirty were spent in silence and obscurity; only for two or
three did He flash into sudden fame, soon cut short by a violent death.
He did not write, He did not organize, He did not rule; He only taught,
and lived, and loved. Yet what has His name been in the world ever
since? What is it in the world to-day?

"You will say, 'It is the Name of the Founder of our religion, through
Whom we approach the Divine Majesty, and as such we hold it in
reverence.' It is that; but to thousands upon thousands it is something
infinitely more. It is the name of their dearest, most beloved, and most
trusted personal Friend--the Name of Him whom it is their deepest joy in
life to serve, their sweetest hope in death to see. It was the poet gift
of voicing the deepest longings of humanity that inspired the dying song
we know so well,--


     "'I hope to see my Pilot face to face,
       When I have crossed the bar.'


"There is one test of love, usually accounted supreme. 'Greater love
hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.'
Freely and joyfully has Humanity poured forth her best blood for the
Name of Christ. Those who have given Him this supreme proof of love we
call His martyrs, or His witnesses. Other names, other religions, other
causes, have had their martyrs too. Indeed, I think the word is true
that all great causes have their martyrs. And I dare to think too that
the wine of self-sacrificing love, though we may count it vainly
spilled, cannot sink into the earth beyond His power to gather up who
takes care of lost things. But I think also--nay, I know--that the
martyrs of Christ stand apart from all the rest, in their immense
multitude, in the joy and peace they had in suffering and in death, and
in the sustaining, animating power of their love to Him for whom they
died.

"I have spoken to you, sometimes, of the martyrs of past days. I could
not help it; their memory is very dear to me, and the records of their
faith and their patience have touched and thrilled my own heart since
childhood. But I never dreamed or guessed that even while I spoke,--now,
in the end of this nineteenth century, this age of science and
enlightenment, this age of pity and compassion, a new legion was
marching on, through blood and fire, to join the noble army of martyrs
before the throne of God."

Here the grey head, which had rested bowed and motionless in that seat
below the pulpit, was raised up suddenly, and the eyes that had
witnessed so much agony sent a look into the preacher's face that almost
stopped his words. But, after a scarcely perceptible pause, he went
on,--

"It has been, to some of us, a pain all the greater because of our utter
helplessness to read even the meagre accounts that have come to us of
the massacres in Armenia. Now that I have heard from the lips of an
eye-witness, who is here present amongst you this day, the details of
_one_ such massacre, I am bound to tell you solemnly that the pain
should have been greater still. The most awful, the most lurid accounts
we have had, fall short of the terrible reality. The half has not been
told us."

Then he gave briefly, and as calmly as he could, the story of the
massacre of Urfa, and of the burning of the cathedral, as John Grayson
had told it to him.

"I refrain," he continued, "from recounting horrors which would
needlessly wring your hearts. I speak of death; I do not speak of
torture. I tell you a little of what men, our brothers, have suffered.
But oh, my brothers,--oh, my sisters, and theirs!--I have no words to
tell the worse agonies of your helpless sisters. I dare not tell--I
dare not even hint at the things I know--and which they have had to
suffer! Only, thank God on your knees to-night that He has made you
Englishwomen!

"And, remember, I have told of Urfa, but Urfa is only one town of many
in Armenia. Like things have been done in Sassoun, in Marash, in
Diarbekir, in Melatia, in Kharpoot, in Van, in Erzeroum,--in hundreds of
towns and villages with strange names we have never heard. The land,
which for fertility and for beauty might be a very Garden of Eden, is
fast becoming a desolate wilderness.

"But, you will say, all this agony does not make martyrs. For that is
needed, not suffering only, but witness-bearing. True; though in a
loose, general fashion all those who lose their lives in any way on
account of their religion are often called martyrs. But even the most
stringent application of this name of honour must include all those who
have, _voluntarily_, so laid down their lives. He who has been offered
life on the condition of apostasy, and has refused it, has won his
crown, and no man may take it from him. Armenians without number have
stood the test, and made the grand refusal. In some places the utterance
of the Moslem symbol of faith, in others the lifting up of one finger,
was all that was required, yet men and women, and children even, have
endured death and torture rather than say those words or make that sign.
Shall I give you instances? Shall I tell you of the venerable archbishop
of the ancient Armenian Church, who had first his hands, and then his
arms hewn off, but no agony could separate him from his Saviour, and at
last he died repeating the creed? Shall I tell you of the student of
theology, who answered his tempters with a steadfast 'No, for I have
come to this hour in God's will and appointment, and I will not change,'
and was slowly cut in pieces? Shall I tell you of the little girl, the
child of twelve, who said to the Moslem, 'I believe in Jesus Christ. He
is my Saviour. I love Him. I cannot do as you wish even if you kill me'?
Shall I tell you of another girl and her young brother who, when the
murderers came, embraced one another, their faces radiant with joy? 'We
are going to Christ!' they said. 'We shall see Him just now.' Time would
fail me indeed to tell of these, and of the many like them in faith and
patience. But one thing is as true of those who suffer for the Name of
Christ to-day as of those who suffered for that Name in the first
century, or the sixteenth, or any century between--there walks with them
in the furnace One like unto the Son of God."

There was a pause, and then the preacher resumed. "But there are two
questions our hearts are asking, in the face of all this suffering:
'What is Christ doing?' and 'What shall we do?' There is no use in
saying that the first of these questions is one which we ought not to
ask at all. There are times when there is little use even in telling our
passionate, aching human hearts that we ought to be satisfied with what
we know and believe of His spiritual presence with His faithful people.
Thank God, He did not forbid the questionings of His tried servant the
prophet, who flung himself at His feet with the half-despairing cry,
'Righteous art Thou, O Lord, when I plead with Thee: yet let me talk
with Thee of Thy judgments.' Nor of that other who pleaded, 'Thou art of
purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity:
wherefore lookest Thou upon them that deal treacherously, and holdest
Thy tongue when the wicked devoureth the man that is more righteous than
he?' Indeed, I dare to think that, if we _do_ throw ourselves at His
feet--the feet pierced for us--there is no question we may not ask Him
there.

"What then _is_ Christ doing? He sits in His glory at the right hand of
the Father; He sees all this agony, and He _lets it still go on_. He
sustains the sufferers; He strengthens and comforts them often; but--He
_lets it still go on_. 'How can He bear it?' our hearts cry out
sometimes. I think the answer is, that He _is_ bearing it. He suffered
for the sufferers; that is not all--He suffers _with_ them. That is yet
not all; He suffers _in_ them. They are not His people only, but His
members; of His flesh and of His bones. For reasons inscrutable to us,
His agony must go on still in them--still He cries to the oppressor,
'Why persecutest thou Me?' But one day He and they, and we also, shall
see the end. Then shall we know the secret of the Lord; then shall the
mystery of God be finished.

"Meanwhile, with the martyrs it is well. 'Therefore are they before the
throne of God, and serve Him day and night in His temple, and He that
sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them.' But _all_ are not yet
there, beyond the agony. For the thousands upon thousands of sufferers,
bereaved, tortured, famine-stricken, dying slowly in Turkish prisons,
or, deepest horror of all, in Turkish harems, what shall we say? Is the
burden laid on our hearts for them too heavy to be borne? Remember,
Christ bears it _with us_, as, in a deeper sense than we can fathom,
Christ bears it _in them_.

"I think this answers our second question, What shall we do?


     'It is MY SAVIOUR struggling there in those poor limbs I see.'


Friends, if He is there indeed, in His members, what sacrifice would we
not make, what treasure would we not pour out with joy, to come to His
help?

"But perhaps you say, 'What _can_ we do?' I am not speaking to those who
can influence the councils of our rulers, except by prayer, and by the
formation and expression of that intelligent opinion which does, in the
end, make its power felt. Therefore it is beside the question to ask
what they should have done, or what they should do now. We have to find
out what _we_ should do, each one of _us_.

"There are thousands of little children, fatherless and motherless
because their fathers and mothers have gone to God, often through the
gate of martyrdom. They are wandering in the streets, homeless and
destitute. They die, or haply they are taken by Moslems, and taught to
hate the faith their parents died for. _We can rescue these._

"There are thousands of widows, desolate in heart and home, each with
her tale of anguish, longing, it may be, to lay down her weary head and
join her loved ones in the grave, yet forced to struggle on for the
daily bread of those still dependent on her. _We can succour these._

"There are thousands of ruined men, who have lost home, occupation,
health, and whose hearts are well-nigh desperate with the things they
have seen and suffered. _We can give back hope to these._

"One word more, brethren. We have spoken of the power of the name of
Christ. That Name, which we teach our little ones to lisp,--that Name,
which sanctifies our daily prayers,--that Name, which our beloved ones
whispered to us with failing breath as their feet drew near the dark
valley, that Name, which yet--oh, strange mystery!--is dearer to our
hearts than even theirs--that Name was on the lips of each one of the
slaughtered multitude whose blood is crying to heaven--that Name is
still on the lips of the suffering remnant that are left. It is in that
Name that they ask our sympathy, our help.

"I have spoken of our dead, our dear dead who lie out yonder, where
God's blessed sun is shining on the graves in which we laid them to
their rest. We turned sadly away; we thought our hearts were breaking
because we _had_ to lay them there. What of our brothers and our
sisters, to whom it is joy past telling, the only joy they can look for
now, to know their beloved ones are dead--and safe? In that land of
sorrow they weep not for the dead, neither bemoan them; it is for the
living that they weep. Nor are there graves to weep over, even if they
fain would do it. The dead--and, remember, they are the Christian
dead,--lie unburied in the open fields, or are heaped together in
trenches which the earth can scarcely cover.

"Known unto God the Father, known unto Christ the Redeemer, is each atom
of this undistinguished dust. Into His keeping He has taken the dead,
but to us He leaves the remnants that survive, and that it is possible
still to save. Will you take them to your hearts, for His NAME'S sake?"

The preacher gave the usual benediction, descended from the pulpit, and
began in due course to read the beautiful prayer "for the whole state of
Christ's Church militant here in earth." Very solemnly, in a voice of
suppressed emotion, he read on, till he came to the words, "And we most
humbly beseech Thee of Thy goodness, O Lord, to comfort and succour all
them who in this transitory life are in trouble, sorrow, need, sickness,
or any other adversity." Here his voice faltered, but he went resolutely
on, "And we also bless Thy holy name for all Thy servants departed this
life in Thy faith and fear." Then the rush of feeling overwhelmed him,
and he did that fatal thing to do in an assembly charged with
emotion--he stopped. A sob broke from one, then from another, and yet
another still, until a wave of weeping passed over the whole, like the
wind over a field of corn.

It was but a few moments; the reader recovered himself, and continued
the Service. Nearly all the congregation remained, and gathered round
the Table of their Lord that day; and it may be they felt, as they had
never done before, the bond of communion with the scattered and
suffering members of the Lord Christ.

That evening John Grayson said to his cousin, "Of course you know that I
am going back again,--with only a change of name."

"I am going with you," Frederick Pangbourne answered quietly.

"You!" Jack's heart gave a sudden leap.

"Why not? There are plenty to work here, and I have often thought of the
mission field. Is there any field more urgent than this?"

Jack was silent, grave with a solemn joy. What might not they two
accomplish, shoulder to shoulder, the fortune he had already resolved to
share with Fred all consecrated to the work!

Fred continued, "Do you remember that cry that rose from ten thousand
hearts, when Peter the Hermit called upon all Christendom to rescue the
sepulchre of Christ from the hands of the Moslem--'Dieu le veut?'--'God
wills it'? Is it not as much a war of the Cross to rescue from them,
not His empty sepulchre, but even a few of His living, suffering
members? We can say--you and I to-day--'God wills it.'"



APPENDIX


The greatest care has been taken to make the foregoing pages absolutely
true to fact. All that has been told of the massacres and their
attendant circumstances has been taken either from thoroughly reliable
published sources, or from the narratives of trustworthy eye-witnesses.
In the story of the massacre of Urfa and the burning of the Cathedral
the official report of Vice-Consul Fitzmaurice has been largely used,
and only supplemented by the additional details furnished by those on
the spot.

In one respect particularly the truth has been strictly adhered to.
Every instance given of _martyrdom_, properly so-called, or of courage,
faith, patience, or devotion, is entirely authentic. The stories of
Stepanian, of Thomassian and his wife, of the Selferians, of Anna Hanum,
of Gabriel, of Vahanian, etc., are all perfectly true, the names only
have been altered.

This alteration of names was rendered necessary by the circumstances of
the case. But every one at all acquainted with the subject will
recognise the heroic lady I have ventured to call Miss Celandine. To the
very remarkable character of the martyred Pastor Stepanian I have, I
fear, done imperfect justice. The particulars of his death and of the
fate of his children are given quite accurately, and the ideas
attributed to him, and even the illustrations used, are really his own.
The only slight departure from known fact has been the assumption that
the quick and painless death--for which those who loved him thanked
God--(to one such it brought the _first tears_ she was able to shed)
came from the hand of a friendly Turk.

For one other departure from fact I have to apologise. I have ignored
the existence in Biridjik, during the time embraced by the story, of a
Protestant Church and pastor; and this although the sufferings of the
pastor and his family in the massacre there would form, in themselves, a
thrilling narrative. But I desired to show something of the Gregorian
Church and the Armenian people, as they existed apart from any contact
with foreigners. Throughout I have tried to give the impression, which
is the true one, that Gregorians and Protestants have suffered and died,
with equal heroism and equal willingness, for the name of Christ.

There is, nevertheless, one important sense in which facts have _not_
been truly represented. It has been absolutely impossible to depict the
worst features of these horrible crimes. To tell _all_ we know would be
simply to defeat the end for which we write--no one would read the
pages. It has been necessary to cover tortures--the most ingenious, the
most hideous, and the most excruciating--with a veil of general
expressions, and outrages yet more terrible than any torture with a
still denser veil of reticence. Of what has been endured by unnumbered
multitudes of our helpless sisters, it is agony to speak; but is it not
also sin and cowardice to keep silence?

An attempt has been made in the foregoing pages so to speak and so to
keep silence, and especially so to subordinate the horror of cruelty to
the glory of martyrdom, that the most sensitive and tender heart may not
be too painfully wrung. There is indeed much excuse for the
tenderhearted when they say, as they often do, "We will not read about
this subject; we will not think of it. It is too horrible. Our lives are
full already of cares and duties, perhaps even of Christian work. We
cannot take up this burden in addition to the rest. It would sink us."

That is intelligible and natural, sometimes even right. But it is _not_
right that those who thus decline to examine the case should at the same
time prejudge it, should dismiss with scorn, or incredulity, or
carelessness, the testimony of those who, having gone down into that
depth of horror, have come back burdened with an anguish which can only
find relief in the effort to help the surviving sufferers. One of two
things people surely ought to do--they ought to examine the evidence for
themselves; or, declining this, and possibly with good reason, they
ought to accept the conclusions of those who have.

In the earlier stages of the tragedy many were misled, and not
inexcusably, by reports that came from official sources in Turkey. Here
is a specimen--a message sent by the Sultan to the Ambassador of
England, in February, 1896, when the unprovoked slaughter of the unarmed
and defenceless thousands of Urfa was still reeking to Heaven:--"That
the Armenians have everywhere and always been the aggressors, that the
Mussulmans have been attacked in their mosques during their prayers,
that they have suffered nameless atrocities from the Armenians, for the
latter had Martini guns, dynamite, and bombs, while, to defend
themselves, the Mussulmans had only old, superseded fire-arms."

Were Pascal amongst us now, he would scarcely devote to the confusion of
the Jesuits his celebrated "_Mentiris Impudentissime!_"

Happily, the truth is known now. It may be briefly summed up in the
words of Victor Bérard, an eminent Frenchman well acquainted with the
East, who has devoted himself to the careful investigation of the whole
question, and published the results in "_La Politique du Sultan_." "In
the opinion and the language of all, Christians and Mussulmans, 'young'
and 'old Turks,' Greeks and Bulgarians, natives and strangers, he (the
Sultan) remains the promoter and arranger of all that has been done
within the last two years. Every one knows and every one says, 'He has
wished it, he has ordained it. The Master has permitted us to kill the
Armenians.' This permission has cost the lives of more than _Three
Hundred Thousand_ human beings. For, besides the public butcheries, the
'fusillades en masse,' and the massacres with spear and sword, how many
stabbings with knives, assassinations, and private murders! Besides
those who were murdered, how many women, children, and old people
perishing in the fields left uncultivated, in the villages infested with
the odour of corpses, in that epidemic of plague and cholera which,
since 1895, has desolated Turkish Armenia! Putting all exaggeration
aside, we may make the following calculation. Since the 1st of July,
1894, more than 500 Armenian communities have been stricken or
suppressed. Some, like those of Constantinople or Sassoun, have had more
than 5,000 dead. The figure of 3,000, as at Malatia, Diarbekr, Arabkir,
has often been reached. That of 1,000 is common, and the minimum of 300
has been everywhere exceeded. Van, with 10,000, seems to hold the first
rank. Taking then an average of 500 dead, we remain much under the
truth, and this average, for the 500 communities stricken, gives 250,000
corpses. How, in a time of unbroken peace, could a man conceive such an
enterprise, and how, under the eyes of Europe, could he bring it to
pass?"

It need only be added, that those on the spot consider the above figures
indeed _much under the truth_.

A common way of dismissing the subject with a phrase is to say "The
Armenians are as bad as the Turks." This may be understood in either of
two senses: the first originators probably meaning it in one, while
those who repeat it commonly take it in the other. It may mean, "The
Turk at bottom is as good as the Armenian,--The Armenian at bottom is as
bad as the Turk." Whether this be true or no, it does not affect the
present question. If we see a man being murdered, we do not stay to
enquire into his character and antecedents before coming to his aid.
Were the Armenians the most degraded race in the world, and the Turks
(originally) the noblest, that is no reason why humanity should allow
the Turks to torture and outrage and slay the Armenians.

But, if the meaning is that the Armenians are as much to blame for these
troubles, as much in fault with respect to them, as the Turks, it might
be relevant, if it were true. True, however, it emphatically is not.
Hear the testimony of Dr. Lepsius, who has made an exhaustive study of
the whole question. "The Armenians are not to blame. It would certainly
have been no wonder if the Armenian people, who for years, by a
systematic policy of annihilation on the part of the Porte, had been
given over defenceless to every kind of injustice at the hands of
Turkish officials, to every sort of violence on the part of their
Kourdish lords, to extortion by the commissioners of taxes, and to the
utter illegality of the law courts, had risen up in a last desperate
struggle against the iron yoke of tyranny. But as a matter of fact it
was impossible to think of a national rising. To begin with, the
Armenians, though large districts are thickly populated with them, are
by no means everywhere in a majority in the provinces in question, and
by the law which forbids Christians to carry arms, while allowing them
to Mahometans, they are absolutely defenceless. In fact, no one in
Armenia has ever thought of demanding anything like autonomy. All that
was hoped for was that the Reforms should be carried out which eighteen
years before had been guaranteed by the Christian Powers, and which
seemed to promise to the Armenians an existence at least bearable.
Through the entire district of the massacre we have not been able to
discover, notwithstanding the fulness of our information, any movement
(except that in Zeitoun) which could be considered to be of the nature
of a revolt. The commissioners in their report were not even able to
establish any act of provocation on the part of the Armenians; and when
such were alleged by the Turkish authorities, the official report has
proved it to be untrue. This is what occurred in Zeitoun. The Armenian
mountaineers of the Anti-Taurus, being terrified by the news of the
massacres in the neighbouring provinces, fled in thousands for
protection to Zeitoun, a natural fortress among the mountains. In the
neighbourhood of this town there are more than a hundred villages
inhabited exclusively by Armenians, who also pressed into Zeitoun. Near
the town there was a Turkish citadel, with a garrison of about 600 men.
The Armenians received news that this garrison was about to be
considerably reinforced, and that an attack was designed on the
defenceless people in Zeitoun. The Armenians decided to forestall it;
they armed themselves as well as they could,[5] stormed the citadel, and
forced the garrison to surrender before reinforcements arrived. They
then fortified themselves in Zeitoun, and held it the whole winter
against an army of 80,000 men, who, from time to time, were sent against
them. The result of the struggle has justified the Armenians of Zeitoun,
if indeed we are prepared to recognise the right of self-defence." For
the European Consuls intervened, and obtained for the brave Zeitounlis
honourable terms of peace, and an amnesty. It ought to be added,
however, that the promises made by the Turks were shamelessly violated,
and 3,720 of the Zeitounlis put to the sword.

But are there not Armenian Revolutionary Committees, and Armenian
Revolutionaries, who elaborate dark designs in secret, and throw bombs,
and do other desperate things? "Certainly there were some
Revolutionaries," Dr. Lepsius says again, "and in some foreign towns
there are still Revolutionary Committees. Human nature must have
changed if there are not, and one can only wonder that their number is
so small and their action so unimportant. At any rate the Turkish
Government is under obligation to them for existing, and is satisfied
that they should not die out; for who would then supply the sparrows to
be shot at with the cannon prepared? The editor of the _Christliche
Welt_, Dr. Rade, has already shown up the nonsense that is put into
European newspapers about Armenian "Revolutionary Committees," etc., and
has passed a just judgment on the boundless credulity of our newspapers
and their readers." (It must be remembered that Dr. Lepsius writes in
German and for Germans.)

In fact, the Armenians and their friends would be glad to know what
course of action they could possibly pursue which would commend them to
the sympathies of Europe? If people are attacked, they must either
submit, or resist, or run away. Run away the Armenians cannot, they are
strictly forbidden to leave the country; and those who have succeeded in
doing so have done it in spite of the Government. If they resist, they
are rebels, revolutionaries, and the Sultan in killing them is only
"exercising his undoubted right of punishing his revolted subjects." If
they submit, which is what, except in the case of the Zeitounlis, they
have almost always done, they are cowards, unworthy on that account of
our sympathies. _Cowards!_ The sands of the Colisseum and the gardens of
Nero in old Rome were strewn with the bones or the ashes of just such
cowards, but that is not the name by which we call them now.

"Still," it is sometimes said, "the Armenians did not suffer as
Christians, but as Armenians. Other Christians, subjects of the Porte,
have not been molested." That, even if true, is but half the truth.
Christians who were not Armenians were not killed; Armenians who were
not Christians (that is to say, who renounced Christianity) were not
killed. Therefore the Armenians suffered, not as Armenians alone, and
not as Christians alone, but as _Armenian Christians_. And those
Armenians who need not have suffered if they would have ceased to be
Christians, suffered definitely _as Christians_.

But how did the Armenians concentrate upon themselves all this furious
hatred? Why should they be massacred rather than Greeks or Syrians?
There are several reasons. The Greeks enjoy the protection of a foreign
Government, somewhat in the same way as do the Americans and the
English. The Syrians, besides being less numerous, are much more under
the observation and the patronage of foreigners. "The Armenians happen
to be the most numerous of the Christian races in Turkey; therefore they
bear the brunt of the Crusade. The Jacobites, the Chaldeans and the
Nestorians have their proportionate share."

But some say the Armenians have made themselves particularly obnoxious
to the Mussulmans as money lenders and usurers; that they have shown
themselves rapacious and exacting, and greedy of dishonest gain. The
same accusations were brought against the Jews in the Middle Ages, and
against the Russian Jews in our own day. There is, perhaps, the same
amount of truth in them. Put a clever, industrious, ambitious race under
the heel of an indolent, unprogressive one, and the former is sure to
seize eagerly, and not to use too scrupulously, the only power within
its reach, the power of the purse. As for usury, was not 33 per cent.
considered a fair demand in the Dark Ages, in view of the lender's
standing an even chance of getting nothing at all, or of getting
something very undesirable in the shape of the rack or the dungeon?
Insecurity is the parent of usury.

But, granted that the Armenians in other parts of the Turkish Empire,
and even occasionally in Armenia itself, may have earned some popular
hatred in this or in other ways, the vast majority of the victims have
been,--not usurers, not wealthy merchants,--but industrious artisans,
small shopkeepers, cultivators of the soil, with an admixture of the
more educated classes, the most envenomed hatred being directed against
those in any way connected with religion, whether as Gregorian priests
or as Protestant pastors. Skilled craftsmen, who abounded amongst the
Armenians, have been so nearly exterminated that some towns are left
without a mason, a carpenter, or a shoemaker; in others the Turks have
saved a few of these artificers alive, to supply them with the
conveniences which they are unable or unwilling to make for themselves.

The Armenian character cannot be dismissed with a few hasty
generalities. It is doubtful that _any_ national character can be so
dismissed; and the higher we rise in the scale of organic development,
the more variety we find. "_Ab uno disce omnes_" is an indifferent rule
even for the Fijian or the Samoan, but who would apply it to the
Englishman or the Frenchman? The Armenian, heir of an old civilization,
stands on a plane with the latter, not with the former. The worst
Armenians--and naturally they are those oftenest found in foreign
countries--show just the faults sure to be engendered in any race, and
especially in an astute, intelligent, enterprising race, by centuries of
oppression. These are, want of truthfulness and honesty, and greediness
of gain. Against these, which may be called the national faults, there
are great national virtues to set off--moral purity, sobriety, strong
domestic affections, gratitude, fidelity to conviction, industry, and a
very remarkable love of learning. The best Armenians--men like Pastor
Stepanian--who have cast off the national faults and retain the national
virtues, develop a very noble and singularly attractive character; and
are besides, in the fullest sense of the word, _gentlemen_. "The wood is
fine in grain, and takes the polish easily."

This deeply suffering race is not faultless--what race ever was, or is,
or will be?--but it is emphatically _worth saving_. And it is STILL in
our power to save very many,--starving men,--desolate and hopeless
women,--and helpless little children. Should any reader of the foregoing
pages desire to bear a hand in this good work--and even those who have
little to give may save, or help to save, _one_ woman or _one_
child--they may learn how to do it by communicating with the Association
of "Friends of Armenia," 47, Victoria Street, Westminster.

FOOTNOTE:

[5] The Turks had never succeeded in depriving the mountaineers of this
district of all their firearms. Besides, they contrived in some fashion
to make arms for themselves.


Butler & Tanner, The Selwood Printing Works, Frome, and London.





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