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Title: Archag The Little Armenian
Author: Schnapps, Charles H.
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
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.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Archag The Little Armenian" ***

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                                 ARCHAG
                                  The
                            LITTLE ARMENIAN

                     Translated from the French of
                          CHARLES H. SCHNAPPS

                                   BY
                          MARGARET P. WATERMAN

                              ILLUSTRATED



                                NEW YORK
                         E. P. DUTTON & COMPANY
                            681 Fifth Avenue



               Copyright 1920, by E. P. DUTTON & COMPANY

                          All rights reserved

                Printed in the United States of America



CONTENTS


        CHAPTER                                          PAGE

        I.        A Day at School                           1
        II.       An Interesting Journey                   12
        III.      The Highland Farm                        23
        IV.       Nizam's Wedding                          46
        V.        Central Turkey College                   54
        VI.       A Visit to the Turkish Bath              76
        VII.      Archag's First Trousers                  87
        VIII.     An Accident                             100
        IX.       Friends in Need                         114
        X.        The Armenian Nation                     123
        XI.       On the Mountain                         134
        XII.      An Expulsion from College               146
        XIII.     The Holidays                            155
        XIV.      The Story of Rupen                      176
        XV.       The Death of Samouil                    186
        XVI.      The Students Present a Tragedy          205
        XVII.     At Aleppo                               214
        XVIII.    Archag in Society                       223
        XIX.      Long Live the Constitution!             231
        XX.       The Valley of the Shadow of Death       243
        XXI.      The Martyrdom of the Armenians          254



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS


        Archag Rides Towards Mount Ararat         Frontispiece

                                                         PAGE

        Happy Armenia                                       7
        Kurds                                              35
        Beneath the Castle at Aintab                       61
        The Araba                                          93
        A Mother and Her Children                         127
        Little Armenians                                  163
        The Hospital Courtyard                            201
        A Student and His Teacher                         237


The frontispiece is from a drawing in colors by Margaret Ely Webb.

The black and white drawings are by B. F. Williamson from photographs
taken in Armenia by Charlotte F. Grant.



A LETTER TO THE ONE WHO READS THIS BOOK


Dear Schoolmate:


This new story in our series is about a people whose name you
heard often during the Great War; perhaps you even sent some of
your own pennies across the ocean to help them; for no one, not
gallant little Belgium itself, suffered more in the war than did the
Armenians. We sometimes think of them as the Belgians of the East,
for their resistance delayed the advance of Turkish battalions, just
as Belgium's brave stand prevented the first onrush of the Germans;
and the Turkish revenge has been more horrible than the German.

The bulletins of the Near East Relief Committee, which raised money
for food and clothing and medicine and helpers in Western Asia,
tell us how the Turks tried to annihilate the Armenians, and how,
among the four million Armenians, Syrians, Jews, Greeks, and Persians
who survived, four hundred thousand were orphans. In those first
four months after the armistice, they were still dying every day,
by hundreds, of starvation and disease, they were homeless and
naked. Miss B. S. Papazian, an Armenian, has written a little book
about her people, "The Tragedy of Armenia," in which she says: "The
Armenians of Turkey to the number of about a million, old and young,
rich and poor, and of both sexes, had been collectively drowned,
burned, bayoneted, starved, bastinadoed, or otherwise tortured to
death, or else deported on foot, penniless and without food, to the
burning Arabian deserts." The whole story of their sufferings is
too terrible for children to read; yet, American children are not
willing to shut their eyes and ears to the sorrows of their brothers
and sisters, whether in France or Belgium, or close at home in our
American city slums, or far over seas in Asia Minor. I wonder how
many boys and girls who read this letter, adopted a French orphan, or
gave a little refugee a merry Christmas? And how many had a share in
feeding and clothing and educating some little forlorn Armenian child?

But this story of Archag, and his life at the missionary school,
is not in our Schoolmate Series merely because Armenians are a
persecuted people whom American children ought to love and to succor;
it is here also because there are a good many Armenians in America,
and more are coming, whose children will be American citizens in
another twenty years. The Armenians, like our own Puritan forefathers,
came here to escape religious persecution; so those of us who happen
to be descended from the early settlers in New England ought to
have a strong fellow-feeling for this other race of Christians who
have suffered for the sake of their religion and have hoped to find
religious freedom here with us.

The Armenian Church, for which Armenians suffer martyrdom in our
enlightened twentieth century, is one of the most ancient of the
Churches of Christendom. Its founder was St. Gregory, called the
Illuminator, who received a heavenly vision and built a little chapel,
in A. D. 303, on the spot on which the vision came to him. It was this
Gregory who converted King Tiridates of Armenia to Christianity, and
it was King Tiridates who proclaimed Christianity the State religion
of Armenia, some years before the Emperor Constantine made it the
state religion of Rome. The Armenian Church is a democratic church,
for the clergy in the villages are appointed and paid by their own
congregations, and often in poor places the priest and his wife work
in the fields with the peasants. The Armenian's Church is the true
home of his spirit. He has no country of his own, for the region
which we think of as Armenia was, before the Great War, divided among
three nations, Russia, Turkey, and Persia, and arbitrarily ruled by
them. The Armenians were a subject people; but in their religion they
were free, and they have endured torture and death for the sake of
this dear freedom.

According to one of their own writers, Aram Raffi, the name "Armenia"
first appears in the fifth century before Christ, but the Armenians
themselves have a name of their own, which they like. They call
themselves "Hai," and their country "Hayastan," because they have
a tradition that they are descended from "Haik," the son of Torgom,
great-grandson of Japheth, Noah's son. If you will look at your map
of Asia Minor, you will find that Mount Ararat, on which Noah's
Ark rested after the flood went down, is at the meeting place of
the three divisions of Armenia, the Russian division, the Persian,
and the Turkish; and it is not strange that with this beautiful snow
mountain soaring over their enslaved country, the Armenians should
trace their ancestry back so directly to Noah.

It was during the latter part of the last century that the Turkish
Government set the Kurds on to massacre the Armenians. The massacres
of 1895-96, the massacre at Van in 1908, and those at Adana and in
Cilicia, in 1909, were all carried out by the consent of the Turkish
authorities. And because of these persecutions the Armenians began
to leave Asia Minor for America.

The Kurds, who committed the atrocities under the instigation of the
Turks, are a semi-nomad race, living part of the year in tents; a
picturesque, wild, ungovernable people, practicing a sort of highway
robbery as a trade, and a sort of Mohammedanism as a religion. The
Armenians, on the other hand, are farmers and merchants, thrifty,
intelligent, peaceful, eager for education, and, as you have read,
devoted Christians. It is not strange that two peoples so different
in habits and temperament should find it difficult to live together,
as neighbors; and the Turks, who are jealous of the intelligence and
industry and ability of the Armenians, and hate them also for their
Christianity, have not scrupled to stir up the Kurds against them. What
is still worse, they have compelled the Armenians to live unarmed among
their armed and fierce Kurdish enemies. We sometimes hear the Armenians
called cowardly, but if we had to live unarmed among a hostile race
who carried good modern rifles, we, too, might be called cowards.

No; we need not think of Armenians simply as a down-trodden and
feeble folk, who have run away helplessly from danger, and to whom
Americans must be compassionate and charitable. They have something
to give us, as well. Their diligence is a good gift; they work hard,
and they are intelligent in their work. Their faithfulness to God is
the best of gifts. And they have a great love of education. This gift,
if there were no other, would win for them a place in the Schoolmate
Series. In a book called "Travel and Politics in Armenia," by Noel and
Harold Buxton, published in 1914, which you may like to read some day,
we get a vivid idea of the love of the Armenians for their schools. The
authors say:

"There is a remarkable contrast between the villages of Armenians
and the villages of Kurds. We had traveled for days in a Kurdish
district, a waste of bare, sandy hills, with never a tree or any sign
of cultivation. Our halting-place for lunch proved to be an Armenian
village, and luscious melons were put before us, which the arid soil
produces in abundance as soon as a little irrigation is applied to
it. While we sat in the Khan (inn), the local schoolmaster appeared--a
wonder still more remarkable than the melons, for whoever heard of
a school in a Kurdish village? We seemed to be suddenly transported
to a center of civilization. This educational activity is beyond all
praise. Here was a man of some ability, prepared to live a lonely
life in an isolated village, for the sake of his nation and the
younger generation."

They go on to tell us of the school system, which is voluntary
and without Government aid. There is--or perhaps since the War,
one should say was--a National Committee for Education which sat at
Constantinople; the teachers were paid by the Committee, and there
were School inspectors for each district, in Turkish Armenia. Pupils
who could afford it paid for their schooling, but those who were poor
were not kept out by their poverty. Does not this sound very modern,
and American, and democratic? Surely, these are people who will make
good Americans.

And going to school in Armenia was an exciting adventure, before the
War. Listen to the story which the Buxtons tell of a Secondary Boys'
School founded more than fifty years ago at Varag, by an Armenian
Bishop, a pioneer in modern education in Armenia:

"At the time of the massacres (1909) masters and boys had to fly
to the mountains, and while they were absent, the buildings were
completely destroyed by fire. Nevertheless, an entire reconstruction
was undertaken. The Church, which happily was not destroyed,
occupies one side of the courtyard and the new buildings occupy the
other three; a second courtyard is now nearing completion (1914). A
second attempt was made less than three years ago to despoil this
institution. The attacking party, about a hundred strong, was
repelled by five Armenian revolutionaries, aided no doubt by the
'young blood' of the college. Now (1914) there are seventy boys and
seven teachers, all laymen. The system is pre-eminently practical. The
pupils are destined for teaching, and since it is considered part
of a village schoolmaster's duty in Armenia to be able to assist
peasants in agricultural matters, thorough instruction is given
in fruit, vegetable, and poultry culture, dairy work, and general
gardening. The school grounds form a delightful oasis of irrigated
lands in the midst of surrounding desert. The school printing press
was stolen by the Government and the compositor abducted; but a more
modern machine has taken its place. Every boy takes his share, out
of school hours, in carpentry and house-work. The court-yard forms
a fine play-ground, and here, having mentioned Boy Scouts, I found
myself surrounded by an ardent crowd, thirsting for scout lore,
and begging to be enrolled at once as 'tenderfeet.'"

What may have been the fate of this boys' school at Varag, since 1914,
I dread to imagine. As it was a native school, there is no mention
of it, so far as I know, in the reports of American Missionary
Schools. We can only hope that some of those seventy boys and their
seven masters still live, and will one day take heart to build up
the old school again.

Besides the native schools, there are the schools and colleges
established in Asia Minor by American Missionaries, and to these also
the Armenians flock. The author of "Archag" has laid some of the
scenes of his story in one of these famous missionary schools, the
Central Turkey College at Aintab, and has given us a lively picture
of the ardent young Armenians at their games and their studies. Ever
since "Tom Brown at Rugby," school stories have been the fashion,
and it is reassuring to see how curiously akin schoolboys are, all
the world over, whether they be English lads at Rugby, or Oriental
youngsters at Aintab. Beneath their fezzes and zoubouns, our Armenian
hero and his friends are genuine boys at heart, with a boy's sense
of honor and love of good sport. The picture of the school, too, is
one for Americans to be proud of, with its devoted teachers, its high
intellectual standards, and its Christian atmosphere. And its record
during the War has been very fine. In the Report of the American
Board of Missions, 1918, I read that the four missionaries who were
able to stay there "have all been carrying a heavy burden for, unlike
many of our stations to the north which were practically depopulated,
Aintab has had an ever-increasing number of refugees to care for. At
times the attitude of the local officials was distinctly hostile and
the danger of further massacre was great, but the opportune arrival
of a British force on December 15, 1918, saved the day and already
there are signs of recovery. Christian services are being attended
by great crowds. The Mission paper, Rahnuma, is being published by
the College press, and has practically become the official organ of
the British Commander. Schools will doubtless open soon."

But if schools and schoolboys are much alike, the world over, vacations
in Armenia are very different from American holidays. No boys' camps
for Archag and his friends! Their adventures are much more thrilling
than your summer hikes and canoeings. There are no patriot-outlaws
in our mountains. But I must stop, or I shall be telling you Archag's
story, and that would not be fair. Only this, let me say: our author,
like all good story-tellers, uses his imagination to make his story
come alive; he embroiders, as the French say, upon his facts; but if
you will read in the "New York Evening Post," for Saturday, November
29, 1919, the account of Antranik, the Armenian patriot who came
to this country to ask help for his countrymen, you will find that
fiction is no more romantic than fact, in Asia Minor; and you will
find Antranik,--this very same hero, I think,--mentioned in our story.

Read the story, dear Schoolmate, and make friends with these Armenian
boys, who suffer so steadfastly for their country and their God.


    Affectionately yours,

        Florence Converse.



                                 ARCHAG
                                  The
                            LITTLE ARMENIAN


CHAPTER I

A DAY AT SCHOOL


The boys had just finished a grammar lesson, and as a reward for paying
attention their master was reading them a bit of history. Jousif hodja
(schoolmaster) was a tall young man of twenty, very slight, and frail
in appearance, with dreamy black eyes. Perfect silence reigned in
the smoky old schoolroom while he read in a strong, clear voice:

"The day of battle had come at last! [1] Our men, commanded by Vartan
the Mamigonian, had pitched their tents that night on the plain
of Avarair. The snowy peak of Ararat was just becoming visible in
the early light of dawn, when a sentinel burst into Vartan's tent,
crying: 'The Persians! The Persians! they are coming!' The chief
went out from his tent and climbed a hill around which we had made
our camp. His piercing eye quickly distinguished a black mass moving
slowly, like surging waves, along the Tabriz road. From time to time
the silence of the plain was broken by a dull threatening sound like
the distant rumbling of thunder.... Vartan was fighting in the thick
of the fray; he seemed all unconscious of his wounds and of the blood
streaming from them; in despair he saw his soldiers, overpowered by
numbers, fast giving way. The ground was strewn with the dead bodies
of Armenians; the cries of the wounded were drowned by the yells of
the Persians. Vartan, with several brave followers, had made his way
almost up to Khan Mustapha, general of the hostile forces, when a
Kurd rushed upon him and dealt him a violent blow with his scimitar,
striking the back of his neck. Stunned by the shock, the Mamigonian
sank to earth, and was immediately surrounded by a dozen devils;
one cut off his legs, another, leaning over him with a grimace,
thrust his cutlass into the breast of the ill-starred hero----"

"But I don't want him to die," sobbed a boy of twelve. "Oh, master,
why did God let him?"

Some of the older boys began to laugh, but Jousif hodja sternly
silenced them, and going to the child, said to him:

"Come, Archag, quiet yourself; envy our Vartan, if you will, admire
him, but don't give him pity. His martyr's death has sustained and
fortified thousands of Armenians; even to-day, after so many centuries
of oppression and sorrow, to whom should we lift our eyes if not
to our national hero? We all love him, and in the hour of danger we
shall fight and die as worthy sons of Vartan."

At these words the child gradually became quiet, dried his tears
and said:

"I want to follow his example."

The master stroked Archag's black curls; then, the bell having
already rung, he dismissed his pupils with the benediction. In the
twinkling of an eye the boys had put on their pretty red slippers,
strapped up their books, and were running through the streets of Van,
shouting, and chattering like a flock of sparrows. Archag was among
the first to scamper out; he ran like a shot as far as the Cathedral,
then turning at the back of the Bishop's house, he followed a lane
which led to the shore of the lake.

His parents lived outside the city in one of those flat-roofed
dwellings so common in Asia Minor. His father owned a great deal of
livestock, herds of sheep and goats, as well as droves of horses and
camels; Archag breathed a sigh of content as he caught sight of his
father's house at a turn of the road. A young girl of sixteen was
coming to meet him; it was his sister Nizam, who made a great pet of
him. He threw his arms about her neck, and asked in a wheedling tone:

"Tell me, have you been making something good for my supper?"

"Fie! you greedy boy," replied the young girl. "You think of nothing
but eating. Tell me instead what you did at school to-day."

At these words a shadow came over the child's face.

"Oh! Nizam, to-day is Vartan's Day, so Jousif hodja read us a
description of the battle of Avarair. Only think! Three thousand
Persians fell upon the Armenians, who had only five hundred soldiers,
and they killed Vartan and all his men. Don't you think our hero must
have been like Jousif hodja?"

Nizam blushed at the name of the schoolmaster; for, to tell the truth,
the two young people were secretly in love.

"Now Archag, stop; what are you talking about? Come along to
supper. Mamma has been making tomato pilaaf for us."

"Pilaaf! [2] how jolly!" and Archag ran gayly toward the house. He
burst into the kitchen like a gust of wind, went to his father, Boghos
[3] Effendi, and kissed his hand, threw his books into a corner,
took off his slippers, [4] and then sat down on the floor between
his mother and his little brother Levon.

At Van, as in other remote towns in Asia Minor, chairs and tables
were still objects of luxury, and were rarely seen. People just sat
down on the floor.

Boghos Effendi was a tall man about forty years of age. Like his
sons, he wore the zouboun, a long robe with a flannel girdle, opening
over white cotton trousers; on his head he wore a turban of yellow
silk. His wife, Hanna badgi, [5] the mother of our little friends,
wore a brown silk dress made in European fashion. Her hair hung down
over her shoulders in two long black braids. We have already made
the acquaintance of pretty Nizam and Levon. Two menservants, Bedros
and Krikor, [6] and an old serving woman named Gulenia, completed
the family circle.

Seated around an earthenware tray, [7] each one, armed with a large
spoon, dipped at will into a dish of pilaaf. On their knees they had,
each one, a large piece of bread piled with olives, but this bread
was quite different from ours; it was thin and flat, rather like a
soft pancake than bread. For ten minutes no sound was heard but the
crunching of jaws and the clatter of spoons (sounds which I would
by no means advise my readers to imitate); then, before standing up,
each rinsed the mouth and fingers again in a bowl of water.

After supper, Archag and Levon ran off together to the stable to say
good-night to their favorite little goat. Because of the terrible
cold which prevails in Asia Minor during several months of the year,
the stables are built under the ground; in this way they have the
advantage of being warm in winter and very cool in summer. Boghos
Effendi had a stable for the horses, one shed for the sheep and another
for the goats. Our two children had brought a handful of salt from the
kitchen, and the pretty Belette seemed to consider it a treat. Levon
amused himself by pulling the long silky hairs of the little animal,
a magnificent Angora goat. They would no doubt have stayed all night
with their horned friends if their mamma had not called them in to
go to bed. And even when called they did not obey very promptly;
it was so delightful in the stable.

When they got back to the house they took a large mattress and a
thick wadded coverlet and spread them on the floor. In one corner of
the room there stood a little altar with a picture of Saint Gregory
the Illuminator, [8] dimly lighted by a night lamp. The two children
knelt down before the picture of their patron saint to say their
prayers. Then they took off their zoubouns and stockings, rolled
themselves up in a quilt, and were soon fast asleep in spite of the
hardness of their bed. The people of the Orient are not accustomed
to iron and wooden beds like ours.

After supper Nizam had gone, as was her habit, to sit on a great
rock high above the house. At her feet was spread the lake, with
its marvelous frame of high mountains whose snow-crowned peaks, now
flushing red in the rays of the setting sun, seemed to be in the
heart of a vast fire. But the young Armenian girl had no eyes for
the beauty of the landscape; she was thinking of her mother whose
delicate health caused her great anxiety.

Twilight falls rapidly in the Orient, and now the jackals were
yelping, and the dogs were howling in reply, and the moon, a pale
yellow crescent, was reflected in the dark waters of the lake. Aroused
from her reverie by the growing darkness, Nizam hurried back to the
house, where her parents were waiting for her that they might close
the doors. Orientals go to bed soon after the sun, and before long
perfect stillness reigned in the solitary house.



CHAPTER II

AN INTERESTING JOURNEY


Fine weather had followed the April showers, and as was his custom,
Boghos Effendi was making preparations for a visit to his farm at the
foot of Mount Ararat, [9] on the Persian frontier. This time, Archag
was to go with his father, and the little boy was beside himself with
joy. He was to be absent several months, galloping about all day on his
pretty Mustang; and the Highland Farm with its great herds of horses
and flocks of sheep seemed to his imagination an earthly Paradise
indeed. Every morning when he woke up his first question was: "O,
papa, are we going to-morrow?" He talked of nothing but this famous
journey, and dreamed of it at night.

At last the longed-for day arrived. It was still dark when Hanna
badgi went to wake Archag. She gave him a little shake:

"Get up quickly, my son; your father is saddling the horses already."

In the twinkling of an eye the child was on his feet; he ran to the
courtyard to wash himself in cold water, then came back to eat his
breakfast. A bowl of goats' milk, still warm, two pieces of flat bread,
and some cucumbers which Nizam had gathered the evening before, were
waiting for him in the kitchen. He ate heartily. His mother's face was
sad, as she sat watching him, and from time to time she stealthily
wiped away a tear. Her boy was leaving her for the first time, and
her heart sank as she thought of the dangers of the journey. The
Persian frontier was infested by bands of Kurds, living by rapine
and plunder, and as there was no mail service between Van and the
villages of Ararat, she would be without news of her dear ones,
and under a constant strain of anxiety.

The moment for departure had arrived. Two zaptiehs (police-officers)
were to accompany Boghos Effendi; indeed the only safe way to travel
in Asia Minor is with an escort of police; travelers are thus under
the protection of the Government, and the brigands will not venture
to attack them.

"Haidé, Archag, make haste," called his father, "we can't wait for
you any longer."

The women and little Levon came out to bid the travelers a last
good-by. Archag cried as he embraced them, and his mother put around
his neck a medal, blessed by the Catholicos of Echmiadzin, [10]
as a protection against all danger. "May our holy Virgin guard you,
my dearest boy," said she. "Don't forget to ask her that every night."

Mustang, Archag's handsome Tartar stallion, was getting impatient,
so his master leaped lightly on his back. The horses, exhilarated by
the fresh morning air, broke into a gallop; Boghos Effendi and his
son waved their handkerchiefs; one more last look, then the house
disappeared behind a clump of trees.

The sun had just risen, and its first rays were gilding the blue waters
of the lake. After following the shore for two hours, our travelers
began to ascend toward the higher ranges of mountains. Archag
was leaving Van for the first time, and his eyes were charmed by
the beauty of the landscape. At this season the vegetation was
wonderfully luxuriant; the horses now trod on carpets of hyacinths
and wild tulips, or again, they pressed their way between hedges of
yellow eglantine. Great blue-green butterflies chased each other,
flitting from flower to flower. Presently the travelers entered an
immense tract of pine forest, and the horses neighed with content
as they sniffed the good resinous odors. Occasionally, their way was
impeded by a stream, swollen to a torrent by the snows of spring. The
water leaped over huge bowlders, sweeping along in its mad course the
trunks of ancient pines weary of battling against the elements. At
this time of year it was often difficult to find a ford, and when his
horse had bravely gone breast-deep into the stream, Archag, confused
by the deafening noise of the water, would be seized with dizziness,
close his eyes and cling to his Mustang. But what joy to arrive
safe and sound on the other side! He would dry himself in the sun,
and then go on his way. Toward evening, they observed, far away to
the north, an isolated cone of purest white, rising above the dark
mountains which loomed up all around, and glistening in the sunlight.

"Ararat!" cried Boghos Effendi, pointing it out to his companions.

Ararat! What memories the name awakened in Archag's mind! He gazed
with awe at this storied mountain, which was said to have been the
northern boundary of the earthly Paradise, and the resting-place
of Noah's Ark. Presently it vanished in the clouds, and the little
boy had a fancy that now, after having bounded the Garden of Eden,
it was about to become part of the heavenly Paradise.

Soon after this, they arrived at a khan (a sort of inn), and on
entering the courtyard they found the place in a state of great
excitement. The harem of the kaimakan (governor) of Erzeroum had
just arrived, and the ladies, veiled in black from head to foot,
were hurrying out of their carriages, and gliding into the house like
shadows. Eunuchs followed carrying their baggage, and the sight of
these supercilious-looking black men made Archag draw closer to his
father. At the farther end of the courtyard there were merchants
engaged in unloading their camels; they stacked against the wall
great bales of rugs, woven in far-away Kurdistan, which they were
taking to Trebizond. From there the Kurd rugs would go to Europe and
find their places in the homes of rich people in Paris or London.

In front of the house some Gregorian priests, returning from a
pilgrimage to Echmiadzin, were drinking coffee and smoking narguilehs
(water-pipes). They were sitting on the ground around a mangal,
[11] for in Armenia the nights are still very cold in the month of
May. Boghos Effendi approached them to kiss their hands, as a mark
of respect due to hadjis (pilgrims), whereupon the priests received
him in a friendly way, and made room for him by their side.

Night had fallen, a dark night, with no moon. The other travelers
drew near to the pleasant warmth of the mangal. There they all were:
the Armenian pilgrims, the Kurd merchants, the Turkish pashas with
their suite, traveling on official business, an old Persian on his way
to Angora, and the camel-drivers, with their weather-stained faces,
chewing balls of resin, without pause. Pretty soon, an Arab, a native
of Bagdad, began to tell a story worthy of a place in "The Arabian
Nights." Except for his voice there were no sounds but the bubbling
of the narguilehs or the distant cry of a hyena lying in wait for
prey. Our friend Archag, sitting beside his father, with his pretty
red slippers placed in front of him, heard the monotonous drone of the
story-teller as if in a dream. The gurgling of a camel roused him from
his drowsiness for an instant, but he soon relapsed into the blessed
sleep of childhood. His father had to take him up in his arms, and lay
him as he was, all dressed, on the bed which had been prepared for him.

Boghos Effendi stayed several days at Bayazid, a fortress on the
Russian frontier, crowning a great rock; and here Archag was much
impressed by the Tartars, with their high boots, their poniards at
their side, and their tall Astrakhan caps. These men spent their
evenings in wild rides about the valley below the town, flourishing
their sabers above their heads, and uttering shrill cries which
re-echoed from the great rocks. But the boy was beginning to grow
impatient at the length of the journey, so he was very glad when his
father told him that they were to leave Bayazid the next morning,
and would arrive at their destination two days later.

The country now was quite barren and uncultivated; from time to time
they would meet a Kurd shepherd, clad only in a sheep-skin, who cast
unfriendly glances at them. Everyday, at noon, the travelers stopped
near some spring to eat their luncheon; then, wearied by the long hours
in the saddle, they would stretch themselves out and take a good nap,
before proceeding on their journey.

This hour of quiet was the hardest part of the day for our friend
Archag; he hated to sleep, and his father had strictly forbidden
him to roam about. The two zaptiehs used to snore away with a good
conscience, without compunction, and Krikor would respond to them with
a nasal grunt very much like a pig. Usually, Archag amused himself by
plucking a spear of grass and tickling the sleepers under their noses;
sometimes, to give variety to his diversion, he would pinch the tips
of their ears or pull their hair. Then the men would swear in their
sleep, turn over, or strike out into the air with their fists, to the
great amusement of the culprit. Luckily for him, they never woke up,
or they would have made him pay well for his impudence.

Now, on the second day after leaving Bayazid, Archag found no amusement
in his usual sport; he was bored, and began to throw stones at the
cones on the pine-trees. He seldom missed his aim, and gave a shout
of triumph whenever a cone fell to the ground. In the midst of this
sport a slight noise above his head made him look up, and he saw a
pretty brown squirrel perched on the branch of a tree. The little
creature looked at him in a mocking way, then sprang to another tree,
and the boy followed him softly, forgetting all his fine resolutions.

Our two companions, Archag with his nose in the air, the squirrel
leaping from tree to tree, strayed farther and farther away from the
encampment, and when the child, weary of his pursuit, concluded to
retrace his steps, he saw that he was a long distance from the place
where he had left his father. He was starting to go back at once,
when he heard a low growling sound from behind a big rock, and you
may imagine his terror when he saw a great brown bear making its way
toward him. The child thought it was all over with him, but he did not
lose his head; he recalled a story he had once read, and lay down on
the ground, feigning death. His heart beat fast indeed, but the bear,
after turning him over with its paws, smelt him carefully, and went on
its way, heedless of the wanderer, and Archag got up and took to his
heels, running to throw himself into his father's arms. Boghos Effendi
turned pale on hearing of the danger into which his child had run; but
he did not scold him, for he thought that he had been punished enough.

The rest of the journey was accomplished without incident. All the
shepherds came out to meet the travelers, and they made a triumphal
entry into the Highland Farm.



CHAPTER III

THE HIGHLAND FARM


The next morning, Archag rose with the dawn. He went down to the
courtyard, drew a bucketful of cold water from the well, and plunged
his head in it, shivering. Then he went back to the kitchen, and
hastily ate his joghurt (a sort of curdled milk) which he spread
on bread. His breakfast was dispatched in less than five minutes,
and calling "Good morning" to his father, he rushed out of doors.

The farm of Boghos Effendi was on a plateau three or four kilometers in
length, resting on the lower foothills of Ararat. The house was low but
spacious, and served as a dwelling for a dozen or more shepherds. Great
herds of horses and flocks of sheep grazed freely in the fine pastures
which extended as far as eye could see. The nights being very cold,
the live-stock had to be brought in every evening to the caves and
cellars which served as stables.

Archag was enchanted as he looked around. The sun had just risen,
and shed a rosy light on the glaciers of mighty Ararat. The country
on which it shone was wild and dreary, leading one to conjecture that
at some period a terrible cataclysm must have shaken it to the very
foundations. The plateau terminated at either end in a steep precipice,
at the base of which rushed a noisy stream; it was sheltered on the
north by a wall of impregnable rock; on the south the wooded slopes
descended gently to the valley. Archag had never seen anything like
it, and was greatly impressed. As he roamed about, here and there, he
discovered a little lake formed in the crater of an extinct volcano. He
clapped his hands as he caught sight of the emerald waves, and jumping
over the border of rocks, he plunged his hand in the water. It was
icy cold. He then amused himself with skipping stones, but at the
end of half an hour he had become tired of this sport, and resumed
his journey of exploration. The sheep had gone toward the house,
for it was time for them to be milked. Appetite comes quickly on the
mountains, and Archag, having a strange feeling of emptiness in his
stomach, asked one of the shepherds to give him a glass of milk. He
drank it with relish, and then licked off the cream which had formed
a thick mustache on his lips.

Next, he ran to look at the horses, for like all Orientals, he had a
passion for them. There were about two hundred here; small animals with
intelligent eyes and long tails which swept the ground. One of them
especially excited his admiration; it was a five-year-old stallion,
entirely black except for a white star on the forehead. Archag went
up to it, holding out a bit of sugar, which the animal took with a
distrustful air.

"Take care, Baron Archag!" called a shepherd, "the very devil is in
that beast. I mounted him this morning, and he gave me a good shaking
up, I can tell you! I left the saddle on, so he might get used to it."

But Archag, not listening, had already jumped on the horse's back. The
creature gave a start on feeling this unaccustomed burden, kicked,
stood up on his hind legs, then, seeing that nothing could rid him of
his rider, darted off like an arrow toward the valley. But Archag had
been used to horses ever since he was a baby, and the stallion did not
succeed in throwing him by any of these tricks. He sat up straight in
the saddle, holding the reins lightly. This mad ride was enchanting
to him, and he had no sense of danger. At length the horse's high
spirit began to flag; he stopped a moment to drink at a stream, then
started up a steep slope. After running half way round the valley,
he returned to the pasture of his own accord, and Archag soon caught
sight of the Highland Farm. The shepherds, well frightened by these
pranks, came to meet him and praise him for his courage. The little
boy sprang to the ground, gently patted his steed, and wiped off with
his handkerchief the sweat that covered him.

After that, our friend took a ride on his new horse every morning,
and before long claimed him as his own. A young shepherd lad, called
Jakoub, was his companion on these rides. Boghos Effendi had not
the time to go about with him, and he considered his son still too
much of a child to ride about alone over hill and dale. The two boys
would go off early in the morning, taking their dinner of hard-boiled
eggs, cheese, bread and fruit with them, and would not return until
evening. The country offered a great variety of excursions; in two
months the boys had roamed over all the valleys, climbed all the hills
in the vicinity, and explored the forests, still almost virgin. With
this sort of life, Archag's face grew brown, his chest broadened,
and his muscles hardened.

"Where shall we go to-morrow?" he asked his new friend one evening.

"To the Kutshukdéré (Little Valley), and we will go in bathing in
the lake."

"Yok yok, (no, no,)" replied Archag, "we have been there four times
already."

"Well, then, let's go to the village of Buldur."

"No, I don't care anything about that."

Archag was in a naughty mood; he kicked his heels against the rock
on which he was sitting.

"We might go to the cave of Karadéré (Black Valley)," said Jakoub,
after a while, hesitating, "only----"

"Only what?"

"Only the neighborhood is infested by brigands, and your father would
never let us go there if he knew."

"Is it far from here?"

"Six hours on horseback; but the road is bad, and hard to find."

"Have you been there yourself?"

"Yes, last year with my dayeh (uncle). Just imagine a hall underground,
as high as a cathedral, all decorated with festoons and lace of
stone! I never saw anything so beautiful in all my life, and I would
just like to go there again like everything!" cried Jakoub, quite
carried away by his enthusiasm.

"Didn't the brigands do anything to you?"

"Oh, a poor shepherd boy like me? They knew well enough that I hadn't
a penny. But you, you see, you're the son of the rich Boghos Effendi;
it would be worth their while to put themselves out for such good
pickings."

"Pshaw, they wouldn't know who I am. I'll put on old clothes, and any
one would have to be pretty sharp to recognize me. All right, then,
that's settled for to-morrow; come and wake me up to make sure. I'll
get our lunch ready."

The thought of this adventurous ride had restored Archag's good
humor. He stood up, gave his comrade a slap on the back, and ran away
from him, calling out:

"Catch me if you can!"

He was more nimble than Jakoub, and soon disappeared in the farm-yard.

At four the next morning, he awoke with a start at the sound of a
servant's rap on the door. In an instant he was on his feet, and
had rolled up his mattress and coverlets, and stuffed them into a
cupboard. His father was still in bed when Archag went into his room
to speak to him.

"Pariluis hairick (Good morning, papa)," he said, kissing his
father's hand. "Jakoub and I are off for a ride. It's so hot we want
to start early."

"Tschatkeretsick (Very well)," replied Boghos Effendi. "Be careful,
and don't be too late in coming home this evening."

These last words were lost on Archag, who had already left the
room. Jakoub was waiting for him in the kitchen:

"I've saddled the horses; everything is ready."

"Good boy! Have you had any breakfast?"

"No, not yet."

Archag offered his companion a bit of cheese, setting his pretty
teeth in his own portion as he did so.

"These poor sheep!" said he. "They give us their milk and we eat
their lambs. Men are really very unkind."

Jakoub stared at him in astonishment.

"Bless my soul, I never thought of that, nor the sheep, either,
you may be sure; they are too stupid."

"Luckily for them; but they do suffer just the same as we do, and
you mustn't hit them any more."

"I promise not to, if that can give you any pleasure; but we had
better be off, instead of arguing about the sheep."

"Right you are!"

A few minutes later the two boys were speeding along, rocked by the
motion of the galloping horses, which made good headway, undaunted
by the rough, stony road.

After riding up the Karadéré (Black Valley) for about three hours,
they had to climb a slope covered with fallen rocks and débris. They
followed a narrow trail which was scarcely discernible, and Jakoub lost
his way twice, so that they had to retrace their steps. For several
hours they did not meet a human being, although from time to time
they heard the growl of a bear in the distance, or a troop of wild
asses ran away from them in fright. Archag was beginning to be afraid
they would never find the cave, when his companion gave a joyful shout:

"Here we are all right, this time," and he pointed out a ravine
sparsely overgrown with shrubs.

They sprang to the ground and tied their horses. Archag looked
all around.

"You must be mistaken," he said at last, "there isn't a sign of any
cave here."

Then Jakoub showed him an opening half hidden by the bushes and so
narrow that it seemed almost impossible that any one could squeeze
through it. Jakoub, however, had already disappeared with the
agility of a snake, and our friend attempted to follow him. But it
was no easy matter; the rocks held him as in a vise, and he was nearly
strangled. His feet dangled in space, he was in a critical situation,
there was no way to climb either up or down. Then, suddenly, he felt
himself being pulled from below, and the next minute he was at Jakoub's
side, very dizzy indeed. The two boys were at the top of a sunken
passage, which they followed valiantly, making their way down with
many a slip, until at last they came to the end. Here Jakoub lighted
his lantern, and they cried out together in wonder and surprise. The
chamber to which they had found their way was so high that they could
scarcely make out the vaulted roof. Marvelous stalactites gave the
place a magic beauty; along the walls were ranged thrones and seats
wrought with artistic grace, which seemed to beckon them to rest; at
their feet crept stone monsters of repulsive form. Archag wondered
if he were really awake, or if he had been transported in a dream
to some subterranean palace of the "Arabian Nights." Behind a row of
columns was an outlet leading to a gallery, and the boys set out to
explore this also, but when they had taken perhaps a hundred steps,
they were obliged to stoop down and crawl along the ground, for the
passage had become no more than a narrow tunnel in the rock.

"Halt!" cried Jakoub, who had taken the lead.

"What's the matter?" asked Archag.

"Look!"

The tunnel had come to an abrupt end, and a black chasm yawned before
them. Jakoub inspected it with his lantern, and found that it was a
pit full of water. For a while they amused themselves by throwing in
stones to sound the depth and then retraced their steps. At length
they regained the entrance to the cave.

"That was splendid!" said Archag, "but I'm glad enough to breathe
fresh air again and get away from that everlasting night."

Their escapade had made them hungry, and they ate their luncheon
eagerly. Then they lay down in the shade of a rock and fell fast
asleep.

Archag, who was not in the habit of taking a siesta, was the first
to wake, and he rubbed his eyes in bewilderment at sight of two
cross-looking men standing near him. He gave Jakoub a kick, and
pointed to them in silence.

"Well, my little friends," said one of the men, with a crafty
look, "waked up at last, have you? You have had a good nap there,
Machallah! Now you are going to follow us quietly without any nonsense,
or vai sizi" (the worse for you)," and the "bravo" touched the butt
of his pistol.

Both boys realized at once that they were in the power of the
brigands. Never in all their life had they seen persons of such
forbidding appearance: big rough fellows they were, with bristling
beards, noses like eagles' beaks, and sharp teeth all ready to bite,
like the fangs of a wolf. They were clad in long cloaks, worked
with silver; at the belt of each shone the butt of a pistol and the
handle of a yatagan. By their speech the boys easily recognized them
as Kurds, the sworn enemies of their race. God alone knew what fate
was in store for them!

"Mount your horses and move on," said the elder of the brigands.

Our two friends obeyed promptly, and each bandit led a horse by its
bridle along the path, a dangerous one, which clung to the side of a
sheer precipice and overhung the deep gorge below. After riding nearly
an hour, they came to a valley confined between high mountains. Here
the bandits blindfolded the boys, and a quarter of an hour later
they bade them dismount. They were in a spacious cave, lighted up by
a number of pine torches, for the daylight scarcely penetrated the
place. A dozen brigands were sitting in a circle around a wood fire,
eating and drinking; the walls of the cavern resounded with their
loud shouts of laughter. When they saw the two boys they invited
them to share their repast, and our friends obeyed with alacrity,
for the ride had sharpened their appetite.

Archag looked all around with curiosity; he was no longer afraid,
and since he had had something to eat, he found some amusement in the
adventure. He had concluded, reasonably enough, that since the men had
offered them food, they were not going to kill them. The brigands plied
him with questions, to which he replied quite simply, and his remarks
often provoked a smile from the company. Jakoub, on the other hand did
not open his mouth except to eat, and his eyes were big with fear. He
did not listen to what was said, while Archag followed the bandits'
conversation with great interest. One of them, a young fellow with
a scarcely perceptible mustache, was telling his latest exploit:

"I had been at Bayazid two weeks, looking out in vain for some
stroke of luck; but one would have said that Mohammed had forgotten
his faithful ones; I hadn't been able to take a single purse; I was
suffering from hunger and had to pull my belt tighter every day. At
last, one evening, I saw a richly dressed man pass on his way to the
hamam (bath). I followed him, and it went to my heart to have to
give up my last piastre for an entrance fee. But once in, I went,
as if by chance, and sat down beside him, and I praised the beauty
of his beard. 'Seven times happy,' said I to him, 'he upon whom Allah
has bestowed a beard like thine, a plain mark of wisdom.'

"The stout fellow bridled and thanked me with a smile.

"'Thy servant,' I continued, 'is still very young; a scant half-dozen
hairs chase each other over my chin; but being as yet unable to pretend
to wisdom, I always seek the society of learned and erudite men, for
their words are as sweet as honey and as intoxicating as cerevisia.'

"By talk like this I won the confidence of the fool; and before
long, by worming it out of him I had learned his story. He was
a rich merchant from Bagdad, who had been up the Tigris to sell
a consignment of coffee and to buy Kurdistan rugs. He had been
successful in his business, and was planning to set out for his
native town the next morning. I passed myself off for the son of a
caravan master of Aleppo, reading law at Ispahan, and now returning
home for my vacation. In a short time we were the best friends in the
world. I ordered innumerable cups of coffee and portions of hasheesh,
for which I allowed him to pay. When we left the bath, my companion was
completely under the influence of the intoxicating drug; he couldn't
take a step without leaning heavily on my arm. I had arranged my game
in advance, and when we were in the lonely part of the town behind
the citadel, I attacked him and relieved him of his belt, all lined
with gold pieces. He was so stupefied by my behavior that he couldn't
say a word. Then, before leaving him, I cut his beard, 'for,' said I,
'noble descendant of the prophet, your hair will make me a magnificent
false beard, and thanks to your profound wisdom, your own will make
speed to grow again.' A smart kick sent him rolling into a ditch,
where I left him to work off his hasheesh. I hadn't time to bother
with him any more; I hurried back to my inn, jumped astride my horse,
and came straight back here to you."

During the narration of this tale, the boys, overcome with drowsiness,
had dropped off to sleep, and the brigands had laid them on a bed of
leaves, where they slept the whole night through without waking.

Meanwhile, Boghos Effendi had been tormented by the most painful
anxiety. At six o'clock, finding that the boys had not yet returned,
he supposed that they had been delayed. But when at eight they had not
come, he began to be seriously alarmed. He sent the shepherds out in
bands to scour the neighborhood; but they were unable to bring him any
tidings, and the poor father passed the night in mortal fear. At four
in the morning, he was about to institute a new search, when he was
told that a boy was waiting to speak to him. He went out immediately,
and found a Kurd shepherd lad in the courtyard, who handed him a
letter. He broke the seal with a trembling hand. There were but a
few words to read:


    "Your son and his companion have been
    taken prisoners by the brigands. Send one
    of your servants without escort to the cave of
    Kara Dagh, bringing the sum of one hundred
    pounds and the children will be set at liberty.

    "Essad Chan.

    "P. S.--If the money is not there by five o'clock this
    evening, you will never see your son alive again."


Boghos Effendi put the letter in his pocket and looked up to ask the
messenger some questions, but the lad had already disappeared. It was
useless to go after him, and so the unhappy father called his steward
and two old shepherds to come and give him their advice. They all,
without hesitation, counseled him to send the money as quickly as
possible, for Essad Chan was the most dangerous brigand in the country,
and had both force and cunning at his command. Boghos Effendi then
gave his steward the hundred pounds, and charged him to make haste
so that he might reach the cavern before noon.

When the boys awoke, they were very much surprised to find
themselves in a cave. Little by little, they recalled the events
of the previous day, and began to wonder anxiously what the future
had in store for them. The brigands, however, gave them no cause for
complaint. A bountiful breakfast was offered them, and then one of the
bandits invited Archag to play chess with him. The boy accepted with
pleasure; he was a good player, but shrewd enough to let his opponent
win. Another brigand took up his tamboura (a sort of mandolin) and
fell to singing. In this way the morning passed pleasantly enough for
the two captives; they were very happy, however, when some one came to
tell them that they were free. They were blindfolded once more, so that
they might not be able to describe the exact situation of the cave, and
the brigands, on removing their bandages, made the boys swear on the
crucifix not to follow them, nor try to find their hiding-place. The
two lads took the oath, only too happy to get off so easily.

"Only," said Archag, "I am very thirsty, and I should very much like
to have something to drink."

The brigands burst out laughing, and one of them offered Archag his
gourd, with a friendly slap on the shoulder. Archag thanked him,
and then the two boys put spurs to their horses and went off at full
gallop. When, after a time, they slackened their pace, Kara Dagh was
far behind them.

"If that wasn't a scrape!" cried Archag. "Whatever will my father say?"

Jakoub shrugged his shoulders in reply, and they rode on in silence.

When our friend caught sight of his father, who was anxiously watching
for them at the entrance to the farm, he jumped down from his horse,
gave the reins to Jakoub, and ran to meet him and to ask forgiveness.

"My son," replied Boghos Effendi, "your imprudence might have cost
you your life. You know that when I go on a journey I never take more
money with me than is absolutely necessary. If I had not sold three
horses the other day to that Persian from Tabriz, I should not have
been able to pay for your ransom, and then you may be sure the robbers
would have listened to none of your cries or tears; they would have
kept their word and killed you. God has had compassion on us, and He
has given you a salutary lesson. Never forget what anxiety you have
caused your father to suffer, nor the money your folly has cost me,
hard-earned money on which I was depending for this winter's expenses;
and try to be more discreet in the future."

Archag promised, and was in tears as he kissed his father's hand. He
no longer felt himself a hero, but realized that he was only a little
boy come home from a mad escapade. He never thought of this adventure
afterward without a blush of shame.



CHAPTER IV

NIZAM'S WEDDING


Boghos Effendi forbade his son to go away from the farm again, and
the days that followed were very long for our little friend, so he
was glad when his father told him that they would soon be going back
to Van. Winter sets in early on these high table-lands, and Boghos
Effendi wanted to get home before cold weather. The shepherds were
very sorry to see Archag go; his high spirits had brightened their
monotonous days, and they made him promise to come back another summer.

The journey home was accomplished without any remarkable adventures,
and at the end of three weeks Archag was once more in his mother's
arms. "How nice it is to be at home!" he kept saying, over and
over again.

A week after his arrival he resumed his lessons. He had well-nigh
forgotten them during his holidays, and had to work hard and steadily
to catch up with his schoolmates. During the long winter evenings he
never tired of talking about his journey, and of the Highland Farm,
and everything he had seen. Levon listened with mouth wide open,
in rapt admiration of his older brother.

An important event now turned the current of the boys' thoughts into
a new channel, and occupied all their spare hours. Jousif hodja had
asked Boghos Effendi for the hand of Nizam, and the Feast of Saint
Sylvester was set for the wedding-day. So from November on, the house
was like a bee-hive, for there was the trousseau to be finished, and
purchases had to be made, to say nothing of the preparations for the
wedding feast. As the days passed, the excitement increased. Every
afternoon the neighbors came to offer their help and gratify their
curiosity. They examined the presents, criticised them, and expressed
their opinions, to the great exasperation of old Gulenia, who scolded
them roundly.

Archag and Levon wrote the invitations, and helped in the kitchen
whenever there were eggs to be beaten and dough to be stirred.

The morning of the wedding-day came at last. Nizam, arrayed in
rose-colored silk, sat in the middle of the reception room; her head
was covered with a veil held at the temples by large gold sequins. She
sat stiff and silent, for propriety forbade her to open her mouth on
this day even to reply to the congratulations of her relatives and
friends. Archag, always a tease, declared that she would make up for
it later. Her face was pale, and there were dark rings around her
eyes; she had been up since dawn and was still fasting, for she was
to make her Communion in church after hearing the nuptial Mass. She
cast envious glances at her guests, who were eating and drinking,
and apparently enjoying themselves very much.

About eleven o'clock, the firing of cannon announced that it was
time to start for church. Nizam rose, and her mother drew the veil
over her face; then two youths set her on a white horse which was
waiting for her in the courtyard. The young bride of the Orient has
to make a show of resistance as an expression of sorrow at leaving
her father and mother, and the friends of the bridegroom must drag
her out of the house by force. The parents, for their part, bewail
the departure of their daughter.

Nizam was fairly successful in feigning a sorrow which she really
did not feel at all, for she loved Jousif hodja. With one hand she
held the bridle of her horse, and with the other she pressed to her
bosom a mirror, a symbol of the purity which she was to bring to
her husband. All her friends followed, uttering cries of grief. The
bridegroom and his friends were awaiting Nizam's retinue in front of
the Cathedral. When they saw the company enter the square, they gave
shouts of welcome and fired pistols in token of their joy.

Nizam knelt down beside Jousif while the choir boys sang a charagan
(hymn). The Bishop, vested in his chimere had ascended the steps
of the altar: he intoned the Mass, and asked the betrothed if they
desired to become husband and wife, and upon their assent, he gave
them the Host, and held the chalice for them to drink of the red
wine, the blood of Jesus Christ. Then, as they knelt together, he
blessed them with an ivory crucifix, slipped the wedding-ring over
their fingers, and thus united them for the sharing of the joys and
sorrows of life. Then Nizam and Jousif stood up, and more charagans
were sung, interspersed with the firing of guns and cannon.

The religious ceremony over, the bridal pair and their guests went to
the house of Jousif hodja, where a great collation awaited them. The
plates were heaped with portions of turkey, goose, woodcock and
grouse; then came a course of pastry and Turkish sweets: baklava [12]
with pistachio and hazel nuts, walnut cakes, lokums [13] melting in
the mouth, preserved peaches and plums, orangeade, cedrats, colored
sugar-plums, and brown and white nougat. Coffee was served in tiny
silver cups, passed around by the servants; some of the guests
preferred sherbets (iced drinks) flavored with rose, violet or vanilla.

All were happy and gay: the bridal pair alone were not expected
to take part in the general merriment, but sat in formal silence,
enthroned at the head of the table.

A white-haired bard sang this ancient ballad, accompanying himself
on the tamboura:


   "Dark night shrouds the plain of Avarair,
    The silver moon has hidden herself to weep in silence:
    For Vartan and his braves are lying
    Dead on the cruel earth.
    Suddenly a piercing cry rends the darkness:
    'Vartan, Vartan where art thou?'
    But nought except the screech-owl
    Responds to the maiden's despairing cry.
    The fair Shnorig advances, groping her way;
    Tearless, her eyes burning with fever,
    She hastens over the battle-field
    Searching for the body of her betrothed lover,
    'Saint Ripsimé, [14] protectress of lovers in distress,
    Guide her in her search!'
    Courage well-nigh fails the unhappy maid.
    By the light of her lantern she questions the faces of the dead;
    At length a sob escapes her;
    There at her feet lies her lover, dead.
    Never has he seemed to her more beautiful.
    His face is marble white; his hair ebony black.
    She throws herself upon his neck,
    Trying in vain to restore warmth by her kisses.
    Slowly resuscitated by love,
    The Mamigonian rises.
    His eyes are filled with the terror of the Beyond;
    But his lips murmur:
    'Shnorig, my well-beloved,
    Shnorig, my sweet bride,
    I am going to leave thee;
    The dark visitant calls me and will not wait.
    Death comes to clasp me in his skeleton arms;
    Our love is cut down like the flowers of the field.

    'Vartan, Vartan, leave me not!
    I will claim thee from my rival
    Or die with thee!'

    She clasps him with rapture;
    She covers his face with kisses;
    She wails out her love like a hyena.
    But her lover can no longer reply;
    The white daisies are dyed crimson with his blood.
    His lips breathe one last sigh,
    And his soul is borne away on the wings of the wind.
    Jealous Death is lying in wait for a second victim:
    He it is who inspires the wretched Shnorig with fatal thoughts.
    Sadly the maiden looks upon the battle-field,
    The plain of Avarair.
    She murmurs a farewell to life,
    And draws the bloody sword from Vartan's body.
    She kisses it with fervor,
    Then plunges it in her own bosom.
    She falls, like a lily cut down in all its beauty.
    Her alabaster arm is thrown around her lover's neck;
    A smile flits across her lips;
    Her soul, in its turn, takes flight.
    And the silent moon hides herself to weep in silence."


The old musician played sad and mournful harmonies on his tamboura. The
guests listened, gazing into the infinite, and dreaming of their
unhappy country.

Gradually they all withdrew; the parents took leave of their cherished
daughter, weeping, for they were not to see her again for nine
months. [15] Archag walked in front, carrying the lantern.



CHAPTER V

CENTRAL TURKEY COLLEGE


Three years and a half have elapsed since Nizam's marriage. These
years were marked by only one important event in the family of Boghos
Effendi: the birth of little Jersebeth, the daughter of Nizam and
Jousif hodja. Hanna badgi is still living, but her delicate health
causes great anxiety to the other members of the family, who are in
constant fear of losing her. Archag is now a lad of sixteen, slight
and strong, looking quite eighteen. Last year he spent his holidays at
the Highland Farm; this time his visit was not spoiled by adventures
such as we have related; he was a great help to his father, and even
took his place at the horse sales.

He has completed the course in the school at Van, and his father has
decided to send him to the American College at Aintab. Our friend
has heard a great deal about it from his older companions; he is
fond of his studies, and delighted to be able to go on with them,
for he has little inclination for mercantile life, although he has
not yet chosen his vocation.

Boghos Effendi had written to the president of the college, and at
last, after two long months of waiting and suspense, the post-master
one day gave Archag a letter bearing the Aintab postmark. [16] Our
friend made haste to carry it to his father. The president, Dr. Mills,
wrote that he would admit Archag to the Sophomore class on payment
of twelve Turkish pounds (fifty-five dollars) for the year. The term
was to begin on the twentieth of September, and as it was already
the twenty-fifth of August, there was no time to be lost, for it was
necessary to allow three or four weeks for the journey. A caravan
was leaving Van for Aleppo on the first of September, passing through
Marash and Aintab, and it was decided that Archag should travel in the
company of these merchants. It would have been quite impossible for a
boy of his age to take such a journey entirely alone. These last days,
filled with a host of preparations, passed all too quickly for our
friend, who was feeling sad at the thought of leaving home and family.

The day before his departure he went with his father to the serail to
ask for a teskereh (passport). The kaimakan, engrossed in reading his
Stamboul newspaper, received them sullenly; but as Boghos Effendi was
one of the most influential members of the Armenian community, he did
not dare refuse the desired passport. He wrote down Archag's name and
age, his weight and height, the color of his hair and eyes and even of
the clothes he was to wear on the journey; then he made a note of all
the places through which the lad would have to pass. Boghos Effendi
willingly paid the two mejidiehs (about two dollars) for the precious
paper, for at this period the Armenians were often refused passports
and so were unable to travel at all; father and son kissed the pasha's
hand, as a sign of submission, and made low bows as they withdrew.

Archag spent the rest of the day with his sister and
brother-in-law. Jousif hodja had studied at Aintab, and so was able
to give the boy some good advice:

"Think yourself fortunate, my lad," said he, "to have the privilege
of working with such men as Professor Pagratian and Professor
Hagopian. Go to see Mrs. Spencer, the doctor's wife, now and then;
she loves our people, and her example will stimulate you. And whatever
any one may say to you, always remember with joy and pride that you
are an Armenian."

"And our president!" asked Archag.

"Dr. Mills is a man of high attainments, and the college has made
remarkable progress under his direction."

Nizam begged her brother to write often, to be a good boy and go to
church regularly. Archag embraced his sister and brother-in-law with
much feeling, and promised to do everything they wished.

His last meal at home was a sad one, for every one was silent and
pre-occupied. Archag went to bed early but he did not sleep well; he
kept waking up with a start, dreaming that he was late. At daybreak
old Gulenia came to call him and he dressed quickly. He had hardly
finished his breakfast when the tinkling of camels' bells was heard.

"Archag Effendi, are you ready?" called an old Arab.

The lad's horse was waiting in the courtyard. Krikor had fastened our
friend's boxes to the saddle, one on each side, and spread a mattress
and blankets over the horse's back. Archag flung himself into the arms
of his father and mother, then knelt to receive their blessing. He
gave his brother a hug, called out a last good-by to the servants
gathered in the courtyard, mounted his horse and settled himself very
comfortably on the seat that Krikor had arranged. Again and again he
looked back to wave his handkerchief, tears streaming down his cheeks.

His journey was long and difficult; the camels walked at a pace so
exasperatingly slow, that Archag, worn out with fatigue, would fall
asleep with his arms around his horse's neck. To avoid the heat,
the caravan would start at daybreak and travel till noon, rest till
three or four o'clock and then go on several miles farther. Each night
was spent at an inn, where Archag could scarcely sleep at all for the
vermin. When he was just falling into a doze, one of his companions
would wake him up, saying that it was time to be off.

They passed through Bitlis and Marash, in turn. At last, one morning,
as the caravan reached the crest of a hill, one of the Arabs pointed
out to Archag a great city embowered in foliage, lying in the plain
below. It was Aintab. Twenty-two days had passed since their departure
from Van. The Mussulman showed his young protégé the principal
buildings; the old half-ruined "kala" (fortress), the dome of the
Gregorian Cathedral, the towers of the Franciscan church, the Mosque
with needle-pointed minarets, the American Hospital, and finally the
College, its façade in English style contrasting strangely with the
native architecture of the other buildings. The camels, urged on by
their drivers, quickened their pace, sniffing and uttering mournful
cries. They made good time, and toward noon the caravan drew up at
an inn where it was to stay for several days.

Aintab contained at that time about sixty thousand inhabitants,
twenty-five thousand of whom were Armenians. Mussulmans and Christians
lived in separate quarters of the town, and had little intercourse with
each other. The city lies in a fertile plain watered by a tributary
of the Euphrates. The vine grows luxuriantly on the surrounding hills,
producing grapes that are famous throughout the country. Aintab, being
about seventy kilometers from a railway, has been very little affected
by European civilization. The American Mission has established here,
a hospital, a normal school for girls, and a college. The latter was
founded in 1876 by Dr. Trowbridge, a Christian and an elect soul,
removed, alas, too soon, from the field of his activity. At the
time of which we are speaking, the college had two hundred students,
forty of whom were resident pupils. It was well situated, on a hill
overlooking the city and the plain.

As soon as Archag had had his passport visé-ed, he set out for Central
Turkey College. From a long distance he could see the great red brick
building around which were grouped the houses of the president and
professors. The campus was enclosed by a high wall. At the entrance,
Archag had a moment's talk with the porter, then the heavy iron-barred
gates turned on their hinges, and the lad went up the hill.

Some boys at play in front of the school building looked with curiosity
at the newcomer, and our friend went up to one of them and asked in
Armenian if he could see Badvili (Pastor) Melikian, who was in charge
of the resident students. The boy looked at him in some surprise,
and replied in Turkish, [17] bidding Archag follow him.

The pastor was busy writing when the boys entered his office, but
his kind face lighted up with a smile, and Archag at once felt drawn
toward the good man. The badvili was perhaps about fifty years old, a
small man, short and stout; a shock of gray hair escaped from the fez
worn like a skull-cap on the back of his head, and every other minute
he would try to push this head-covering straight, but the rebellious
fez resumed its slanting position. After several years' pastoral work
in Asia Minor, Mr. Melikian had been appointed Headmaster at Central
Turkey College; here he found himself much more in his element than
in his position of preacher, for he had a weakness for young people,
and was much attached to this school where he had been one of the
first pupils. He shook hands with Archag, and asked if he had had a
good journey, enrolled him at once among the Sophomores, and assigned
him a place in one of the dormitories.

"We shall be together," said the other boy, whose name was Garabed.

"I'm very glad of that," said Archag, "for you are the only boy I
know here."

Then the two boys went back to the play-ground where others
joined them, and Archag soon found himself taking part in a lively
conversation. They talked about the professors, the president and his
wife, of what they had learned, and what they had yet to learn. Then
all the Sophomores began playing ball, and kept up the game until
they heard the bell ring for supper.

Three tables were spread in the dining-hall; one for the preparatory
class, the second for the Freshmen and Sophomores, and the third for
the Juniors and Seniors. Archag sat down beside Garabed as Badvili
Melikian was saying grace. The fare would no doubt have seemed very
frugal to American boys; it consisted of tea, bread, and hard-boiled
eggs, but the boys seemed to be satisfied; they dispatched their
supper in ten minutes, and then went back to their play, as lessons
had not yet begun.

Archag walked about arm in arm with Garabed, who told him his own
story. He was a thin, frail-looking lad of seventeen; he had grown too
fast, and was round-shouldered. His face was sweet and attractive, but
unfortunately his expression was spoiled by a large pair of spectacles
which made him look like a little old man. He was a native of Goerum,
near Sivas, and had been two years at Aintab.

"I was glad to come back," he said, "for the professors are very nice,
and the boys are fine chaps. My father wanted me to go to Marsivan,
which is nearer home, but I preferred to return here."

Archag took a liking to Garabed, and talked to him about Van and his
family, as if he had been an old friend.

"Several of my relatives have been students here," he said, "that's
why I came. My brother-in-law, who left four years ago, told me a
good deal about the professors. Do you----"

Here the conversation was interrupted by the sudden appearance of
another boy who jumped on Garabed's back, his eyes sparkling with
mischief.

"Hi there, Baron [18] Garabed! what stuff are you pouring into the
ears of that innocent lamb!"

"I don't care to be compared to a lamb, thank you," said Archag;
"they are too stupid."

"Aférim! (That's right) Baron Archag," said Garabed, "take Aram down
a peg or two."

The new comer, taking Archag by the arm, said to him:

"Come now, Garabed has been telling you all about the masters; let me
draw the portrait of some of your classmates. First, the wise Garabed
himself, who is the choicest specimen of my acquaintance (this is
between ourselves). Over there you may see two embryo pastors," and
he pointed to two stout, stocky boys chatting in a corner, "Soghomon
(Solomon) and Boghos (Paul), the president's favorites; you may judge
for yourself of his good taste. That tall boy, star-gazing, with his
hands in his pockets, is a Junior by the name of Ghevont. The boy
in European dress, going up to him, is Nejib Rossinian, the son of
a doctor in Aleppo; he's in our class, and so is his cousin Dikran;
they are an artful pair of dogs, who are bound to make their way,
though they don't always consider the means. To-morrow you will have
to make the acquaintance of Samouil and Sumpad, whose brain isn't
quite right, and the five Urfali (natives of Urfa) who always stick
together like burrs. Finally, to complete the list of boarders,
my humble self, Aram Nahabedian of Diarbekir, filling the position
of clown and joker. There are a dozen day-scholars in our class,
besides, but we only see them at recitations."

Archag was laughing heartily; he was delighted with his two companions,
and already felt himself among friends. At nine o'clock the bell
called them in, and they said "Goodnight" to Badvili Melikian,
who had a pleasant word for each, as they went upstairs to their
dormitories. Archag was in the room with Aram, Garabed, Soghomon,
Nejib and Sumpad. Aram and Nejib immediately began a pillow-fight,
making a fearful commotion. Soghomon, the fat boy, half-buried beneath
a mountain of pillows and coverlets, lay groaning and beseeching:

"Oh, I say! I'm smothered! 'Vai! Vai! I shall die!' who will take
pity on me!"

Aram and Archag executed a wild dance about their victim, and the
end of it was that Badvili Melikian was obliged to come and restore
order. He lighted a night-lamp for the boys, for Armenians hate the
dark. Once in bed, the boys went to sleep immediately, and before long
came the sound of their regular breathing, together with Soghomon's
snores.

Archag was dreaming that the bells of the Cathedral of Van were
calling him to Mass, when a shake roused him from his sleep. Aram
was pulling him by the arm.

"Haide, are you never going to wake up, you young mole? Do you think
you're going to be allowed to sleep like that? You're as bad as
Soghomon; he can't get out of bed."

Archag jumped up and dressed quickly; then the whole troop went down to
breakfast. At half-past seven, professors and students all gathered in
the chapel where Dr. Mills conducted morning prayers. He spoke to the
boys of the child Samuel, urging them to imitate his love for the Lord.

"You come here," said he, "not only to receive your bachelor's degree,
which you could get just as well at Constantinople or Damascus or
Smyrna, but in order to become good and upright Christian men. We
desire that these years of study may be blessed for you, and that
later, when you are struggling with the difficulties of life, you
may always remember gladly the days you have spent with us here."

He spoke well, and Archag's heart was touched by his words. How many
good resolutions he made then, together with his comrades! The course
of our story will show whether or not he kept them.

When the speaker had finished, the boys stood up and sang one of
their favorite hymns:


           "Rab der bisé Kaimi kala
            Fourtunada émin meldja.
            Oi Kayanin Kavourhounda
            Boulouroum her-den bir meldja."

           "The Lord is our strong fortress,
            A sure refuge in the storm,
                Beside this Rock
            I may always find a refuge."


The Sophomores were to begin their work in Natural Science on this
morning. The course was given by Professor Pagratian, who was also
proctor of their class.

"It's sheer luck that we have him for proctor," said Aram to
Archag. "He's a saint come out from his church, an angel descended
from heaven. Do you know, he has an aureole about his head like Sourp
Hagob (Saint James) in my prayer-book; that's why he never takes
off his fez. Last year we had fat Piralian, who is as harsh as a
Turkish pasha. He used to make us fail just for the pleasure of it;
he teaches English, for he spent several years in Yankeestan. [19]
It was so cold down there his heart got frozen."

The arrival of the professor interrupted the flow of Aram's nonsense;
he then began to draw a caricature of Mr. Piralian, "Yankee Doodle,"
as he called him.

Mr. Pagratian was a chilly little man, who kept his cloak wrapped
about him in summer and winter. His face was partly hidden by a thick
black beard, and a shabby old fez covered his meditative brow, but his
luminous black eyes transformed him, banishing any thought of ridicule
that might be suggested by his old-fashioned clothing. When these eyes,
with their look of goodness, had once been fastened on one, they could
never be forgotten. They laid bare one's soul, and seemed to expose
one's bad thoughts only to drive them away and forgive them. And his
voice--how it would thrill one, now stern and hard, now sweet and
tender as that of a father talking with his child! He had a profound
love for Natural History; his explanations were clear and interesting
and the forty-five minutes in class passed all too quickly for Archag.

Our friend next made the acquaintance of Professor Mahdesian, a
reserved, scholarly man, who taught Armenian, and of Mr. Hagopian,
the Professor of Turkish. The latter was the veteran of the college;
he had been associated with Dr. Trowbridge in founding it thirty years
before, devoting himself body and soul to his task. The beginnings had
been difficult, partly from lack of funds, but he and the president
had met the situation bravely, teaching nine hours a day. Success
came; pupils flocked in from the most remote regions of the vast
Turkish Empire. The courageous Dr. Trowbridge died before his time,
but Professor Hagopian, more favored, was permitted to reap the ample
harvest he had sown.

English was the first lesson in the afternoon, and Archag was
impatient to see the famous professor of whom Aram had had so much
to say. Mr. Piralian was still very young. In order to make himself
respected by his pupils he thought it necessary to treat them with
an extreme severity, and would never let the slightest peccadillo
pass unnoticed. The president often had to remonstrate with him on
the subject of the frequent punishments which he inflicted on his
pupils. He had spent several years in the United States, and had
been a teacher there also. He had become accustomed to the ways of
American children, who are notoriously "terrors," and now employed
the same methods in dealing with the boys of Aintab that he had found
useful with these others. Apart from that he was a capital teacher,
and took an interest in his pupils, but he never let them see it.

From the first he was prejudiced against Archag; he had seen him
walking about familiarly with Aram, for whom he had an actual
antipathy; and that was enough to make him take a dislike to the
new-comer. Then, Archag had learned English from a Scotchwoman, Miss
Dobbie, who spoke broad Scotch, rolling her r's, aspirating her h's,
and saying "auld" for "old." When he began to read, Professor Piralian
made fun of his pronunciation, and asked him sarcastically what great
professor had taught him English. But Archag, who fairly adored his
old teacher, was wounded to the quick at hearing her made an object
of ridicule.

After their lessons, the Sophomores, glad of a chance to stretch their
legs, went out to play football. They ran about, shouting and pushing
each other, with their zoubouns tucked up in their girdles. Archag,
after tripping up Soghomon and Garabed, seized the ball and threw it
with all his might, but he aimed badly, and the ball went straight
through one of the windows of Dr. Spencer's house. The glass fell in
splinters, and Archag cried out in consternation.

"The only thing for you to do," said Garabed, "is to go and make your
excuses to Mrs. Spencer; go right off now and do it."

Archag was chagrined at his awkwardness, and reluctant to present
himself before Mrs. Spencer, as a culprit. But the doctor's wife had
seen the accident, and from behind a curtain she watched Archag coming
toward the house, and observed his embarrassment. When he entered,
and stammered out his apologies, she put him at his ease with a few
friendly words:

"You have had a little misfortune, but that is nothing, and you will
soon play better. Lessons are over, aren't they, so you can stay and
have a cup of tea with me?"

She gave Archag great pleasure by beginning to talk about Van, which
she had visited three years before. She inquired for Miss Dobbie,
whose guest she had been for a week. Archag's spirits revived; he told
a numbers of stories illustrating the old lady's untiring kindness,
and Mrs. Spencer listened with interest. She liked the boy's frank
countenance and vivacity, and when Archag left, he was completely won,
and promised to come again often.



CHAPTER VI

A VISIT TO THE TURKISH BATH


Thursday was an important day in the Sophomore's calendar, for on that
day Mihran hodja always took them to the hamam (bath). Garabed, Aram
and Archag usually walked in front; Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego,
as Dikran dubbed them. Archag, who was usually very sensitive,
only laughed at this pleasantry, he was so happy with his two new
friends. Garabed was really his favorite; to him he could confide
his inmost thoughts, and tell his pleasures and his troubles, sure of
finding pity and sympathy. Garabed was the eldest of eight children;
one after another, he had seen all his brothers and sisters die,
the victims of tuberculosis. These bereavements and the sadness that
pervaded his home, had invested him with a certain melancholy which
he had never been able to shake off entirely. His teachers found him
too quick, I was almost going to say too wise, for his years. Archag,
overflowing with life and spirits, occasionally found him depressing,
and at such times he enjoyed the companionship of his other friend,
with whom he could run, jump, and tussle to his heart's content for
Aram was the life and soul of the class, and though his comrades might
stand in fear of his raillery, they also admired his unwearied good
nature and fearless courage.

It was he, as usual, who took the lead in the conversation on this
Thursday, and his friends were content to listen, and laugh at his
sallies.

"Great news!" said he. "We are going to have a new professor of
French."

"What?" cried Garabed. "Isn't President Mills going to teach us
any more?"

"No."

"Well, then, who is this new teacher?" asked Archag.

"Guess."

"Mr. Hagopian?"

"No."

"Mr. Pagratian?"

"Yok, yok (no, no)."

"Then I give up."

"Perhaps he is a Frenchman?" suggested Garabed.

"Bravo, my dear philosopher, you have guessed right; that is, he's
a Swiss from Geneva. Dr. Mills spoke to my uncle about him, and he
told me yesterday."

The three friends proceeded to share the news with their companions
and they all entered the hamam in a state of great excitement. After
undressing, the boys bound cloths about their loins, tied on
bath-slippers, and passed into the "harara," a narrow room with
temperature at white heat. Thanks to the exertions of the "abou
saboun," [20] who lathered and rubbed them thoroughly, they were soon
perspiring freely. Aram, seeing everyone busy, took advantage of the
situation to play a thousand pranks; now he pinched fat Soghomon,
or again, took possession of all the soap. When the boys were all
sufficiently red, they left the harara for the "hanefije," where they
cooled themselves off with water made increasingly cold. Then they
wrapped big sheets around them, twisted woolen bands about their heads,
and returned to the "mashlach" (dressing-room). There they sat down
in little groups on the divans, and began to play checkers and talk,
at the same time disposing of a goodly number of cups of coffee.

The hamam plays an important part in the life of Orientals; they go
there for sanitary reasons, but still more for pleasure; it is really
a place of recreation for them, just as the theater or concert-hall
is for us.

Archag, Garabed and Samouil were playing cards. Aram had mysteriously
disappeared, and our two friends had asked Samouil to take a hand
with them. Samouil, though quite fifteen years of age, looked barely
thirteen. During the massacres of 1894 his parents and two older
brothers had been killed by the Kurds, and the enemy had left him
for dead beside the bodies of his relatives. A charitable person had
taken and cared for him, and it was only by a miracle that his life was
preserved; indeed, this life was rather a burden to him than otherwise,
for he was pining away. A wound in the hip had left him lame, for
the bone was affected. Dr. Spencer had operated, but the trouble had
spread, making a second operation necessary. The poor boy knew quite
well that he would not live to grow up, and he would speak of his going
to heaven as we should allude to a railway journey. Mrs. Spencer was
always doing something for him; she had placed him in the college,
where masters and pupils alike loved him for his sweet nature.

The game of cards was suddenly interrupted by angry cries:

"By the beard of my father, I'll pay you for that!"

"And I'll break every bone in your body!"

What had happened was this: Aram, bent on mischief as usual, had
furtively stirred a big spoonful of powder into Dikran's coffee; the
latter had discovered the perpetrator of the trick and had given him
two resounding slaps in the face; Aram hit back, but Nejib came to his
cousin's aid, and Aram could not cope with the two. Archag, seeing
his friend attacked by two lusty opponents, ran to help him without
stopping to find out what the quarrel was about; he pitched into Nejib
and punched him in the chest and stomach while Aram struggled with
Dikran. In a short time, Mihran hodja and the older boys succeeding in
separating the combatants, but Aram's nose was bleeding, Nejib had a
black eye, and Archag and Dikran were covered with bruises. It took
some time to quiet them down, for they were all shouting at once,
without listening to what any one was saying. Aram was punished by
two days on bounds; the others got off with a severe reprimand.

On that same evening, the Sophomores were invited to a "sociable"
at the house of President Mills. This invitation was a real event
in the monotony of the college routine; the boys began to get ready
quite two hours in advance. When they had completed their washing,
shaving, shoe-polishing and prinking, they all started off in a body.

Mrs. Mills was waiting for them in her drawing-room. She was a pleasing
and lively woman, not more than thirty years of age, and the boys
were much attached to her. She was born at Aintab, and spoke both
Turkish and Armenian like a native. It was she who was doing most of
the talking now, although she was seconded in her efforts by another
American lady, Miss Wylie, the directress of the Girls' Normal School,
a little person of uncertain age, dressed in red silk, with her hair
cut short like a boy's.

Archag, accustomed only to the simple dwellings of the interior of
the country, was much impressed by the arm-chairs and pictures which
gave the room an air of great luxury. He sat up very straight in a
rocking-chair, not daring to move a muscle, and looked with envy at
Aram, who was rocking away carelessly, as if he had been used to it all
his life. Following Oriental custom, Archag had left his red leather
slippers behind the door, while his companions had all worn shoes
and kept them on. To add to his embarrassment, there was a great hole
in one of his socks, and at his slightest movement his big toe would
protrude. The other boys had put on European dress for the occasion,
and his zouboun looked quite out of place in this grand drawing-room.

"The very first time I go to town I must buy a European coat and
pantaloons." (he called them "bantoloons.")

Suddenly, as he was talking to himself, he felt something cold tickling
the soles of his feet. One bound took him into the middle of the
room, but in his haste, unfortunately, he caught at a table-scarf,
dragging it off, together with a handsome jardinière which fell,
broken into a thousand fragments.

"The clumsy boy!" said the president under his breath.

Mrs. Mills was in dismay; she thought of all the trouble she had had
in bringing this ornament to Aintab on her last journey back from
America; it was a present from her brother, besides, and there it was,
all broken to bits by the clumsiness of a country lad.

Archag stood staring vacantly, his ears tingling, until Mrs. Mills
took pity on him and told him he need not feel so badly about it;
an accident might happen to any one. But Archag made no reply; he
had not heard a word she said.

Mrs. Mills made a gesture of impatience: she thought the boy very
ill-bred, and that he might at least have offered some apology. If
she had observed him a little more closely she would probably have
changed her opinion. In order to enliven the company and make a
little diversion, she sat down at the piano and asked Garabed and
Dikran to accompany her. The boys always took their mandolins with
them when they were invited to the president's house, for it was a
great pleasure for them to play with Mrs. Mills.

At nine o'clock, tea and sweetmeats were served, and then the boys
took their leave, after thanking their hosts for their kindness.

Then Garabed tried to console Archag:

"I say, whatever got into you? I didn't see what happened."

"Well, if you were ticklish, and somebody began to scratch the soles
of your feet with a pen-knife, I guess you would jump, just like me."

"I wonder who could have played that trick on you?"

"I don't know, and what good would it do if I did? The mischief
is done."

But now Aram had joined them: "Listen, Archag," he said
resolutely. "It's all my fault, and I assure you on my honor I'm
broken-hearted over it. You know how I love to play tricks. Well, when
I saw you with your legs holding on to the chair like cork-screws,
I couldn't resist the temptation to make them change their position,
but I never dreamed of causing such an accident. I let you come away
first, so I might speak to Mrs. Mills, and I owned up to her. And
now I have an idea: we'll go and buy a pretty table-cover, you and I,
and send it to her; then she will understand that we are doing what
we can to make up for our stupidity."

Archag clapped his hands:

"Yes, that's a fine idea, and we'll put on the outside: 'From Aram
and Archag, in memory of their awkwardness.' I was very angry with
you for a minute, but now I forgive you with all my heart; you just
wanted to tease me, but as for me, I have been too awkward for words."

He held out his hand to Aram, who gripped it again and again.

A few days after this, Mrs. Mills showed her husband a charming
table-cover of white silk, embroidered with arabesques, and handed
him a note.

The president read it.

"Do you know," said he, "this boy from Van is a perfect puzzle to
me. First he is awkward as he can be, breaks your jardinière, and
never offers a single word of apology; then here comes this present,
which shows a delicacy of feeling rare in a boy of his age."

"He is exceptionally shy; but I believe there is good stuff in Archag,
and that we shall make something of him. Mrs. Spencer has spoken to
me of him very favorably, and you know how accurate her judgment is."

"Yes, yes; only don't spoil him for me by flattery and kind
attentions."



CHAPTER VII

ARCHAG'S FIRST TROUSERS


For several weeks the boys talked of nothing but the arrival of
Monsieur Bernier, their future French teacher. One morning the
president received a telegram from Aleppo announcing the arrival
of the young man that same evening, and by way of doing him honor,
Dr. Mills gave all the classes a half-holiday. The Sophomores were
talking of their new professor:

"I wonder if he's young or old," said Samouil.

"You little fool," muttered Dikran, "you may depend upon it that no man
of experience would leave Europe to come out and bury himself in a hole
like this; I bet he's a greenhorn with just five hairs on his chin."

"I've seen his photograph," announced Aram, with the air of a judge
revealing a state secret.

A dozen voices cried out at once:

"What is he like? What is he like?"

Aram straightened up with an air of importance:

"This morning I was in the president's office to show him the pensum
he gave me yesterday; I was looking around at his books and his desk,
and there I stopped, as I noticed a photograph half hidden by a pile
of letters. I peeped, I stood an tiptoe, but couldn't manage to see
a thing. All at once Mrs. Mills called out, 'Dearie, come and get a
piece of cake.' Dearie didn't wait to be called twice. 'Wait here
for me a moment,' said he, 'some one is calling me,' and as soon
as he had closed the door I pounced on the photograph. It was the
picture of a nice, slender young man, and he had written at the top:
Henri Bernier. I had barely time to put it back before the president
came back."

The boys quite envied Aram for having seen the new master before his
arrival, and since they had the afternoon free they decided to go
out and meet him in a body. Aram was the only dissenter:

"Oh, no! I shan't go; I shall see him soon enough. I haven't time,
anyhow; Garabed and I are going to town with Archag to help him choose
a suit of clothes."

"Do you hear that?" whispered Dikran in his cousin's ear. "The young
savage is getting civilized; not a bad idea. He won't disgrace us all,
next time we are invited to the president's house."

Aram and his two friends went to ask Badvili Melikian for passes
(the boys were not allowed to leave the campus without a written
permission); then they went off whistling, on their way to the bazaar.

First they went into a haberdasher's shop to buy stiff collars and
a necktie.

The shopkeeper showed them a box containing a dozen cravats of every
color of the rainbow, and the three boys stood hesitating before
such magnificence. Aram recommended an apple-green tie and one of
cherry-red, by turns.

"The green one," he said, "is very distingué; but Dikran has a red
one that his brother brought home from Beyrout, and he's just stuck
on it. He declares you can't find anything like it here; it will be
an awful blow to him if you buy one."

Archag, a modern Paris, confronted by the beauties of the cravats,
underwent all the torments of indecision. Finally Garabed, who had
said nothing, jogged his elbow:

"If I were you, I should take this pale blue one, then you will be
wearing the Armenian color," and he pointed to a cravat of coarse
silk and cotton.

Before the beauty of this sky-blue tie, the charms of the two others
paled.

"It's that or none," said Archag to himself.

But unfortunately, the shopkeeper asked a mejidieh (ninety cents)
for it, a fabulous price for a necktie. The three boys simultaneously
uttered cries of indignation, and turned to leave the shop.

"Eh, lá, lá, Effendis, not so fast! How much do you offer me?" It
was now the shopkeeper's turn to be alarmed.

"Twelve piastres (fifty-three cents)," said Archag.

"Twelve piastres! you wish to ruin me then? A cravat that comes
straight from Vienna, and cost me three piastres duty! I will let
you have it for eighteen piastres."

Again a pretended exit of the shoppers.

Finally, after twenty minutes of haggling and excited talk, Archag got
his famous necktie for fifteen piastres, and our three friends left the
shop radiant, escorted by the merchant, cringing and bowing repeatedly.

"Good business!" he said to himself, as soon as their backs were
turned. "I have had that ugly old rag in the shop for two years,
and never expected to get rid of it at such a price."

The tailor's shop was only a few steps away. Archag, acting on his
friend's advice, bought a suit of serge. He tried it on at once, and
then looked at himself in a mirror, surveying with great satisfaction
his slender figure, his snow-white collar and blue cravat, and as
a finishing touch, a scarf-pin in the shape of a four-leaf clover,
the gift of his two friends. The merchant, his clerks, Garabed and
Aram all declared that the suit fitted him like a glove.

Archag, however, felt very much hampered by his trousers, which hit
against his legs at every step; his suspenders pulled, and his stiff
collar choked him, and he gave a sigh of envy as he looked at his
flannel robe lying on a chair. But he paid his bill of two pounds
and a half, took his zouboun on his arm, and went back to college
with his companions.

A party of students had gone out to meet Monsieur Bernier, and the
others were waiting for him on the campus. About fifteen minutes
after Archag and his friends had rejoined their mates, the sound
of a carriage was heard in the distance. "They are coming, they
are coming!" called a voice, and they all ran to the foot of the
hill. Dr. Mills and Dr. Spencer, on horseback, were at the head of
the party; the boys, a few of them on bicycles, the greater number
on donkeys or walking, were crowding about the araba, a peculiar
sort of Turkish carriage used by travelers in the interior of Asia
Minor. It is a wagon without springs, having a hood of gray cloth;
trunks are fastened on anywhere, underneath, or at the sides of
the vehicle. The traveler lies on a mattress; he has a basket of
provisions at hand, in which he is likely to forage very often, to
beguile the length of the journey. Consider, dear reader, that the
carriage-roads in Turkey are often little better than country lanes,
that it is sometimes necessary to drive across rivers and marshes,
or again, to follow rough, stony roads, and run the risk of being
attacked by brigands, and you will realize that a journey in an araba
is no pleasure trip. Monsieur Bernier had come from Alexandretta,
and had spent three days in his araba; he had been obliged to stay
each night at a khan, where he had been almost devoured by vermin;
it was therefore a great relief to him to find himself at last at
his journey's end.

As he got out of the araba he was hailed with shouts of welcome by
the boys:

"Hip, hip, hip, ra, ra, ra, hip ra ré, bomba, bomba, C. T. C. (Central
Turkey College)."

The boys of Aintab being students in an American institution, had
adopted the American college custom of having their own peculiar yell.

Monsieur Bernier had a passion for travel, and after pocketing his
university diploma, had set out for distant lands. He was very young,
so young that some of his own pupils, great bearded fellows of twenty,
looked older than he. He thanked the boys for their kind reception,
and then followed President Mills to the house in which he was to
live. For a long time he could hear from his room the "hip, hip, hip,
ra, ra, ra," shouted in his honor, and these expressions of welcome so
cheered him up that from that first evening he felt a warm attachment
for his pupils, which never altered.

That evening, the Sophomores were in their study-hall as usual,
in charge of Mihran hodja, but as they had had a holiday in the
afternoon, they were free to do as they pleased. Most of them were
reading. Archag, Aram, and two of the Urfali were playing chess. Archag
kept losing, and after a while gave up, tired of his bad luck.

"I've had enough of that," said he; "ask Samouil to take
my place." Samouil agreed; he was a good player, but he found a
formidable opponent in Aram, and the group soon became very much
excited. Archag watched them for a moment, then went off to chat with
Garabed in another corner of the room. Nejib was sitting near them,
absorbed in a book.

"Hi, there," said Archag, "what are you buried in so deep? You haven't
taken your eyes off your old book for the last hour."

He drew near without ceremony, and read out the title of the book at
the top of his voice: "The Arabian Nights!"

If a thunderbolt had fallen in the hall the boys could hardly have been
more startled; they knew how severe Dr. Mills was upon any who read
improper stories; and "The Arabian Nights" had a terrible reputation
at Aintab.

Profound silence followed Archag's imprudent words; the boys dared
not breathe a syllable. Mihran hodja turned pale, went to Nejib
and asked for his book. The boy handed it to him without a word,
but he was as white as a ghost. The master turned over the leaves,
hoping the book might prove to be an expurgated edition, put it in his
pocket with a sigh, and left the room. When he had closed the door,
Nejib flung himself upon Archag and gave him a vigorous box on the ear.

Our friend tripped him up, and when his opponent was on the floor,
punched his chest. The boys had hard work to separate them, for they
were both very angry.

"As if I knew 'The Arabian Nights' was a forbidden book!" said
Archag. "I simply asked him what he was reading. Don't be worried;
I shan't speak another word to him."

Nejib, for his part, insisted that Archag had done it on purpose,
that he was a spy and ought to be expelled from college.

Finally, peace was restored after a fashion. Archag's anger cooled
quickly, and he thought no more about the matter. But Nejib did not
forget. President Mills gave him a punishment of three days on bounds,
on bread and water, together with a very bad conduct mark, and also
wrote a letter of complaint to Dr. Rossinian. The young fellow, who
was quarrelsome by nature, then merely waited for an opportunity to
take his revenge.



CHAPTER VIII

AN ACCIDENT


Archag worked at his lessons with enthusiasm, and the days and weeks
passed very quickly. Most of the professors admired his earnestness
and intelligence, and were pleased with the progress he made, but
unfortunately he had failed to win the favor of Mr. Piralian, who
continued to dislike him. It must be confessed that Archag showed
little interest in his English lessons; he had never been willing to
alter his pronunciation, for he considered Miss Dobbie an excellent
teacher, and since she said "auld" and "gir-r-l", of course that
must be right. Therefore, he argued, Professor Piralian was in the
wrong and spoke incorrectly; he did not know how to teach, and it was
not worth while to work very hard. Our friend thus drew a quantity
of false conclusions, with the superb recklessness of youth. In his
Christmas reports he was marked "good," and "very good" in everything
except English, in which he had only "medium"; but this made very
little impression upon him; he knew that he had not done good work,
and did not expect anything better. Garabed stood first in the class,
then came Dikran and Archag. Aram was fifth. Nejib, who had always been
among the first, stood only eighth because of his bad conduct mark.

The advent of the Christmas holidays was, of course, hailed by the
boys with shouts of joy. What great games they would play! What a
jolly time they were going to have during those two weeks! On New
Year's Day, the Sophomores were invited to the house of Hosep Paelian,
one of the day pupils, and they had a delightful time with him.

They were constantly going to the bazaar to do their Christmas
shopping, and returning surrounded with an air of mystery, bringing
big parcels which they hid in their trunks.

At this point I hear my readers exclaim, "What! Christmas after New
Year's Day? The world must certainly be upside-down over there!"

It does indeed seem odd to us to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ
in the month of January. But the Gregorians use the Greek calendar,
which is twelve days later than ours. They keep Christmas on the Feast
of the Three Kings, the sixth day of January, that is, the eighteenth,
New Style.

President Mills had a pine tree brought from Amanus, a mountain to the
west of Aintab. For several days the sun was hidden by snow-storms,
and this Oriental Christmas differed little from the same season in
the North. In the afternoon of Christmas Day, Professor Pagratian
conducted a service in the college chapel, after which masters and
pupils gathered together for dinner in the great dining-room.

The menu consisted of turkey with chestnuts, and a dessert of grapes
and oranges. The boys were little used to delicacies, especially to
meat, and their eyes shone with eagerness in anticipation of this feast
of good things. The professors were seated at different tables; Mihran
hodja and Monsieur Bernier sat with the Sophomores, one at either
end of the table. The young Swiss smiled as he looked at his plate,
on which were large slices of turkey, pilaaf (rice), and chestnuts,
arranged in the form of a tower. Oriental usage requires that the
plates be filled to the extent of their capacity, but it is very
bad form not to leave a considerable part of what has been given,
or one is set down as a gourmand.

Monsieur Bernier was preparing to do justice to his dinner when he
observed that he had neither knife nor fork. Supposing it to be a
mere oversight, he asked Garabed to get him a knife. After quite
five minutes the boy returned in some embarrassment, saying he could
not find one. Aram then offered his pen-knife, which, boy-fashion,
he was in the habit of using for all sorts of purposes; Monsieur
Bernier recalled having seen him digging in the earth with this same
knife a few days before, and considered it more hygienic to decline
the offer. He noticed how his companions rolled up their meat in
the soft, thin bread, using a spoon for the rice and chestnuts,
so he did the same, to the great delight of the boys.

The tree had been lighted in the study hall; the Seniors had decorated
it with cotton-wool, oranges, apples and gilded nuts, and had laid
out the presents on tables. The boys sang a hymn in English; then
they made haste to open their parcels, and before long every one
was engrossed with his own gifts. Archag received one Turkish pound
(about four dollars and a half) from his parents, a book from his
sister and another from Garabed, and Aram's photograph. Dikran was
manipulating a microscope which his brother had sent him from New
York. Boghos had a kodak from America, which he was showing with
pride to his friend Soghomon. No one had been forgotten; for the less
fortunate boys whose parents had not been able to send them anything,
Mrs. Mills had provided remembrances. After all the presents had been
duly admired, the boys put them aside, to play games. At ten o'clock,
tea and caghkés (little cakes) were served, and at length the boys
went off to their dormitories, very happy after their festival.

The next day, the weather was so cold that every one stayed indoors,
and Archag, after reading a little while, took a fancy to go upstairs
to the museum, which contained good specimens of the flora and fauna
of the country.

He spent a long time looking at the different collections of plants,
the stuffed birds and the shells; but when that was finished, he did
not know what to do with himself. What was there to do, all the rest
of the afternoon? As his eyes wandered about the room, they fell on
a cabinet standing partly open. He went up to it, and pushing back
the door, saw that it contained some rare objects: some insects
and Professor Piralian's collection of butterflies. This worthy
man had a mania for collecting; he had hunted for stones, fossils,
butterflies and antique coins, by turns; at present he was asking
every one for postage-stamps, which he carefully pasted in a new
album. His collection of butterflies included some superb specimens
which he had caught himself during a stay in Mexico. On his return
to Aintab he had presented the collection to the college, where it
was highly appreciated.

As the thermometer registered several degrees below zero, the furnace
fire was burning at full blast, and the air in the museum, already
impregnated with camphor and naphtha, was suffocating. Before long,
Archag's head was burning; he threw open one of the windows near the
door, and took a good breath of fresh air. Then he returned to the
cabinet and took out a glass box containing the finest specimen of
the Piralian collection. It was beginning to grow dark, so he took
the box to the window, which he had left open. He stood looking
at the marvelous insects with their iridescent wings of blue and
green and gold, and was amusing himself by trying to decipher the
Latin names, when he felt a smart blow on his arm. The force of the
sudden jar made him let go of the box, and down it fell with a crash,
on the stone pavement of the courtyard. For an instant Archag stood
motionless with fright; then he rushed into the corridor, where he
heard a sound of retreating footsteps. He went back to the museum,
and looking from the window he could see the shapeless fragments of
the box down below. A ray of hope flashed across his mind; could it
be, perhaps, that the precious insects had not been injured?

Running downstairs two steps at a time, the next moment he was in
the courtyard. Alas! the butterflies were ruined; most of them were
reduced to powder. In the face of this disaster Archag felt powerless,
constrained by an agony of fear. He could not bring himself to think
of the thing he ought to do, to go at once to Professor Piralian and
tell him frankly what had happened. His only thought was that he should
be expelled from the college. How dreadful, oh, how very dreadful!

When he entered the schoolroom, he was so pale that Garabed was
frightened:

"Why, what is the matter with you? Are you ill?"

"I have a bad headache."

He took up a book, but the words danced before his eyes, without
conveying the slightest meaning to his mind.

Garabed, seeing that he did not want to talk, asked no more
questions. Every time the door was opened, the culprit trembled: now,
his misdeed had been discovered, he thought, and some one was coming
to question the boys. His heart beat like a trip-hammer, and he felt
as if he must suffocate. The evening passed without any disturbance,
but Archag had a restless night; he kept dreaming that he had been
sent away in disgrace, and his classmates' shouts of derisive laughter
seemed to ring in his ears. Several times he woke up with a start,
to hear Garabed anxiously asking if he were ill, and if he would like
to have Badvili Melikian called. He would reply impatiently that he
did not need anything, and turn over on the other side.

The next morning, Dr. Mills came into the schoolroom before prayers,
looking very grave.

"Now for it!" said Archag to himself.

The president told them what had happened, and made the misdeed appear
very disgraceful. When he called on the guilty one to come forward
and acknowledge his fault, our friend rose mechanically and went to
the desk.

"It was I who did it," he said simply.

"You! you!" repeated Dr. Mills. "A boy whom we have all loved! How
can you have done a thing like that? It can't be possible!"

However, he led the culprit away to his office, and questioned him
closely. Archag confessed to opening the cabinet and taking the box
of butterflies to the window in order to see them better, but when he
said that some one had pushed him, his judge smiled incredulously. He
called Badvili Melikian, who assured him that, with the exception
of Nejib who was in the city, none of the Sophomores had left the
study-hall that afternoon.

Archag had always been on good terms with his classmates, and it seemed
impossible that any one of them should have wanted to play him such
a trick. Dr. Mills questioned the boys again, but each gave the same
reply: not one of them had gone up to the museum that day. Indeed, the
president asked these questions merely to satisfy his own conscience;
he was quite convinced of Archag's guilt. Professor Piralian had
often complained of his bad conduct and lack of application; he had
just given him a "medium" mark in English. It seemed therefore quite
probable that Archag had deliberately taken revenge on his teacher
by destroying his collection.

All the professors assembled in the president's room to talk the
matter over, and Dr. Mills laid Archag's case before them at some
length, and then waited for their counsel. A painful silence followed;
Armenians hate to give an opinion outright; they prefer to evade the
main question, and to prolong their discussions without coming to
any decision.

At last Professor Pagratian rose and addressed the president:

"I must say, that for my part, I have always found Archag loyal and
truthful." A murmur of assent was heard from the other masters. "I
have watched him both in and out of study-hours, and it is my private
opinion that one of his classmates really did give him a push by
way of revenge. I have my own suspicions, too, as to that, which I
shall do my utmost to verify. The lad is diffident and awkward; he
did wrong not to confess his fault at once, but he made up for that
by admitting his guilt before the whole college. You will reply that
he could not do otherwise, since Badvili Melikian knew he was in the
museum that afternoon. I do not admit that argument; if he had meant
to lie about it all, he would have denied the whole or nothing. Let
us punish him for his disobedience in handling the collection; that
was his only fault, and does not deserve expulsion from the college."

The professors discussed the matter at length; Monsieur Bernier and
Badvili Melikian agreed with Professor Pagratian; the others wished
Archag to be expelled.

"I don't believe," said the president, at last, "that we shall ever
come to an agreement. I suggest therefore that we leave the decision
to Professor Piralian, who is better able to judge than we."

The professor had received a grievous blow in the destruction of his
precious collection, and he had none too much sympathy with Archag. But
at the moment of giving his judgment he seemed to see his pupil's
bright face with its frank and straightforward expression, and he
felt that eyes like his could not have lied. His decision was made.

"Gentlemen," said he, "I ask you to keep Archag here; five days on
bounds will be sufficient punishment for him."

Meanwhile our friend was wandering about the campus like a lost
soul. He had gone off by himself, ashamed to let his grief be
seen. Was he really going to be expelled? All his pride revolted at
the thought. He would cheerfully take any punishment if only he might
be spared this disgrace.

After a while he heard someone calling him:

"Archag, Archag!"

"What is it?"

"Dr. Mills is asking for you."

Archag entered the room where all the professors were seated around
the table.

"My friend," said the president to him, "you have committed a serious
fault in touching the collection of butterflies after having been
told not to do so. The loss you have occasioned to our museum is
irreparable. We are willing, however, to take into consideration your
youth and inexperience, as extenuating circumstances, since you are
just at the beginning of your college career. You will have five days
on bounds, and be marked zero for conduct in your next report."

"Then I am not expelled?"

"No; we think you are sufficiently punished in this way."

"Oh! thank you, thank you, Machallah!" cried Archag. He kissed the
president's hand again and again, then fled precipitately to hide
the sobs that stifled him.



CHAPTER IX

FRIENDS IN NEED


After the affair of the butterflies, the Sophomores held themselves
somewhat aloof from Archag, for they could not forgive him for saying
that one of them had pushed him. They all felt insulted by this
accusation, and believed him to be a hypocrite and a liar. One day,
when Archag was about to join a group at cards, Dikran got up, refusing
to play with him. Garabed was the only one who remained unchanged; he
was firmly persuaded of his friend's innocence, and was always ready
to cheer him up with a kind word or look of sympathy. And indeed,
Archag had need of it; he felt terribly isolated, and was hurt by the
silent condemnation of his classmates and some of the professors. Up
to this time he had been petted and flattered by every one; now,
fallen thus abruptly from his pedestal, he could not accustom himself
to his unhappy circumstances.

"You look like a ghost," said Aram.

He believed Archag to be innocent, and pitied him sincerely, but
was beginning to be bored by his friend's depression. Archag had
had a large share in all his pranks and games, but this pale lad
who could neither laugh nor joke was not his old Archag at all,
and Aram insensibly began to drift away from him. Two of the Urfali
became his special cronies, for with them he could play all sorts of
pranks. Archag observed this change with bitterness of spirit, but
he was too proud to tell Aram the whole story. He fancied that every
one except Garabed despised him. He had never ventured to go and see
Mrs. Spencer again; whenever he saw her at a distance he would go out
of his way to avoid her. One day, however, as he was returning from
the bazaar, he saw her suddenly at a street corner. For an instant he
thought of turning back: but that would have been cowardly; and he
kept on his way. The missionary's wife had, of course, observed his
small artifices; she herself had never believed him guilty, and was
glad of this opportunity to speak an encouraging word to him.

Archag touched his fez by way of salutation, and was about to pass on,
but Mrs. Spencer stopped him.

"I was just wondering what had become of you; it is a long time since
I have seen you. I am going to the hospital, and you must walk on a
little way with me; you will tell me what is weighing on your heart,
won't you?"

Archag could not refuse; his questioner looked at him with such a
kind smile.

"You have had a hard trial," she continued, "but still, you mustn't
lose courage; you will see that everything will be cleared up by and
by; as for me, I have never believed you guilty of a falsehood. Don't
let yourself be crushed by misfortune; this is probably your first
experience. Ah, well! Bear it like a man. Redouble your efforts to do
away with the bad impression you have made on some of your teachers;
above all, show yourself obedient and docile toward Professor Piralian;
make an extra effort to please him."

"He hates me," Archag could not help saying, "he shows it in all
sorts of ways."

"What nonsense you are talking! If he had hated you, would he have
asked Dr. Mills to let you stay here? You have him to thank for not
being expelled."

Archag was dumb with astonishment; the iron vise which had gripped his
heart for the last three weeks, was relaxing its hold; he was finding
once more a little of that sympathy in which he had no longer dared
to believe. With a lighter heart he took leave of the doctor's wife,
and went back to the college whistling.

"You are entirely changed," said Garabed on his return; "what has
come over you?"

"I'm happy to-day." And he told his friend about the conversation
with Mrs. Spencer.

"You see," replied Garabed, "the best people have kept their friendship
for you."

Professor Pagratian also took a great interest in Archag, and often
invited him to his house with Garabed. What happy evenings those were
for our two friends! Mrs. Pagratian and her two daughters would mend
a great pile of linen, while the professor smoked his narguileh,
and talked about his youthful days of poverty and hardship. He did
not remember his father; the eldest of six children, he had been
obliged to go to work while still very young, in order to help his
mother. At the age of eighteen he was a journeyman weaver, earning a
mejidié (ninety cents) a week. An American missionary whom he met
occasionally, gave him a copy of the New Testament, and he used
to read it privately with a companion of his named Krikorian. The
Epistles of Saint Paul made a deep impression upon these young men,
and then Dr. Trowbridge became interested in the two friends, and
used to pray with them and explain the Holy Scriptures.

"When he talked to us," said the professor, "it was as if scales
fell from our eyes; we felt a horror of our sins, and a thirst for
truth and righteousness.... One Christmas evening when Krikorian
and I had been praying with more than ordinary fervor, we seemed to
hear Jesus Christ calling us. Our hearts leaped for joy; that was
the most beautiful day of our life, and we always think of it with
tears of gratitude. Dr. Trowbridge was at that time engaged in laying
the foundations of the college, and he proposed that we should fit
ourselves to become teachers in his school. I needn't tell you how
glad we were to act on his suggestion. We spent four years in America,
and then we returned to work with our benefactor. Alas! God called
him suddenly to Himself. Such men are rare indeed, and his death was
a very great loss to Aintab."

These talks made a deep impression on Archag. He had always supposed
that it would be time enough to think about religion when he was
grown up. But his teacher had been less than twenty years old when the
Spirit of Christ took possession of his whole being, soul and body;
and how happy he seemed!

Sometimes Mrs. Pagratian (whose mother was German), and her daughters,
would sing old songs in the dialect of Swabia, or perhaps Monsieur
Bernier would join the little group, and talk about Switzerland, a
country well-known to the Pagratians, for the professor had studied
for two years at Basle, and preferred the Swiss country to America.

"In Switzerland," he would say, "the people enjoy life; in America
they do business."

When Monsieur Bernier spoke of the liberty of his compatriots, the
poor Armenians could not suppress a sigh of envy, and Mrs. Pagratian
would wipe away a secret tear, for she lived in constant dread of a
fresh massacre.

These evenings were a blessed influence for Archag; he threw himself
into his work with new ardor.

"Something seems to have changed that boy entirely," said Mr. Piralian
to Professor Pagratian. "I never could do anything with him before,
but since that famous affair of the butterflies he has grown polite,
studious, and attentive in class, whereas formerly he was always
thinking about something else. I actually believe I shall succeed in
correcting his horrible accent."

"That would almost make up for the loss of your collection," replied
his colleague, laughing.

"Yes; only if I had to gain the progress of each of my pupils at the
cost of one of my collections, I should soon be ruined!"

Archag, for his part, saw that Mr. Piralian no longer retained his
former prejudice against him, and he even came to like the English
lessons. His classmates, seeing that he was reinstated in the good
graces of the masters, left off tormenting him. But Archag still
avoided them; he was constantly with Garabed; they prepared their
lessons together, and then went off on long walks, exchanging ideas
about every subject that came into their heads. But their favorite
topic of conversation was Armenia, so cruelly oppressed and tried.

Archag had never thought very much about his country. He loved it, to
be sure, and pitied it, but that was all. Garabed, who was older and
more reflective by nature, made him feel ashamed of his ignorance. He
showed him Armenia, wasted by continual massacres, but yet alive;
he described the deplorable condition of their fellow-countrymen,
the better and more intelligent of whom had fled to America; he told
him the story of the heroic siege of Zeitoun--how the town held
out for seven months against the Turkish forces which had come to
exterminate it; or again, of the great achievements of Andranick
[21] the revolutionary leader, who had dared resist the Kurds, and
had been victorious.

Archag's eyes were opened; as his love of country increased, it
became the central force in his life. Together the two boys studied
the history of their country, and took pleasure in speaking Armenian,
although Garabed insisted that they must always speak Turkish in the
presence of the other boys. The reason for this we shall see presently.



CHAPTER X

THE ARMENIAN NATION


On half-holidays the boys were in the habit of going to town, to shop
or to visit their friends, and on a certain Saturday, in the month of
February, they had all gone off in various groups, and the college
was deserted. Garabed and Archag took advantage of the warm spring
sunshine to climb one of the hills which rise above the city toward
the south. Here, seated on a tombstone--these hills are covered with
graves--they ate their frugal luncheon of bread and cheese and olives,
and when they had finished, Garabed wiped his oily fingers, and drew
from his zouboun a book wrapped in newspaper.

"What have you got there?" asked Archag.

"Djelaleddin!"

Archag clapped his hands:

"Oh, Garabed, how splendid! How did you ever get hold of it? I've
been nearly wild myself, thinking I could never get a chance to read
our great Raffi. [22]

"Yes, the book has been forbidden by our Padishah (sultan) on pain of
imprisonment for life, and if Dr. Mills were to know that you had read
it, he would send you packing this very day. Are you surprised? You see
Dr. Mills has had to take oath before the Vali (governor) that he will
not disseminate the new ideas among us. Ali Pasha keeps watch, and if
he should ever discover that our college was a center of liberalism
he would close it the very next day. Now our president knows that,
and he is very careful."

"But how did you manage to get this Raffi?"

"Ghevont lent it to me this morning."

Garabed turned the pages of the old book affectionately; its leaves
were yellow and stained.

"Listen to this passage, where Sarkat, returning from the towns, finds
his own village in flames: 'After a march of several hours he perceived
a red light in the distance, becoming alternately brighter and fainter;
now shooting up in writhing flames, now motionless, the stream of fire,
fed by fresh fuel, spreading farther and farther.' And this other bit:
'When,' thought he, 'the lamb is obliged to live near the wolf, it
must try to make wolf's teeth of its own, that it may not become the
other's prey.'"

Archag listened eagerly to these words.

"Yes, Sarkat is right," said he. "Why don't we defend ourselves? Why
don't we make a struggle for our independence? Look at the Serbians,
the Bulgarians, the Greeks; they have been fighting the Turks for
years; Europe has been thrilled with joy at the noble deeds of Canaris,
and Kolokotronis and Botsaris, [23] and at last sent effective aid
to the Hellenes. Let us do the same."

"But our people are ignorant, and stagnating in servitude; few of
them know the use of arms."

"Then they must be taught, and supplied with arms."

"Who will do that?"

"We, the young men, who have the strength and the faith for it."

"Ah, my dear friend! I knew you would say that!" and Garabed grasped
his hand warmly.... "You are worthy of becoming one of us. Listen:
other men have had your thoughts. They have longed to arouse our people
from their lethargy, to teach them their duty and their value, so that
when the accursed Kurd shall sound the tocsin for fresh massacres,
we shall not be taken unaware as formerly, but be ready to conquer
or die. Secret societies have been formed; revolutionary groups have
been organized in our towns, and they get recruits among all classes
of society. You will find fédai (revolutionaries) in the bazaar,
in the fields, even in the serail, and in our schools."

"In our college? It can't be possible!"

"It's a fact, though, and you can understand how cautious we have
had to be, to keep from being discovered. It has been so hard for me
not to speak of it to you, my best friend, but our chief forbade it;
to-day he has given me leave, and I'm going to ask you to join our
group of fédai."

"With all my heart, my dear Garabed, and as soon as possible."

"Pek-et (very well), we shall admit you this evening."

"What time?"

"Wait for me at half-past eight, and we'll go out together."

Archag was full of enthusiasm; he felt that he had become a man,
and a worker for the good of his country. He hid the book under his
zouboun, and the two friends went down the hill, and made their way
back to the college.

During study-hour Archag looked at the clock very often; he had
equations to solve, but the work did not go on well, for all the
time he was thinking over what Garabed had said. At last he closed
his copy-book in vexation, counting on finishing his task in the
morning. It was only eight o'clock, and he opened his English
reading-book for the sake of appearances, for Badvili Melikian had
spoken to him several times already. At last the clock struck the
half-hour. The boys always had an hour for recreation before going to
bed, and most of them went to the library to read the newspapers and
the American magazines. Archag and Garabed ran downstairs to the hall
where Ghevont, president of the fédai, was waiting for them. He was a
silent, reserved boy, but very intelligent, and always among the first
in his class. He came from Brousa, had lived in Cyprus and Jerusalem,
and was considered a person of consequence by his fellow students,
because of his numerous journeys by ship and rail.

The three boys went out of the building without saying a word. They
went toward the enclosure at the end of the campus, which was the
burial-place of missionaries who had died at Aintab, and there
they sat down on an old tombstone which had fallen over during the
winter. Garabed kept watch, while Ghevont read to Archag the demands
of the society:

1. Political and economic liberty, based on local autonomy and
federated ties, as the inherent right of an integral part of the
Ottoman Empire.

2. Liberty of conscience, of speech, of the press, and of assembly
and association.

3. Separation of Church and State.

4. Absolute equality of all nationalities and all religious
organizations.

5. Inviolability of the individual, of the home, and of correspondence.

6. Liberty of removal (of traveling from place to place).

When Ghevont had finished reading, he held out a wooden crucifix to
Archag, and said:

"Repeat my words: I swear upon this emblem of our religion never
to betray our society; to be a faithful fédai; to be obedient and
devoted even to the point of imprisonment and death. In the name of
the Virgin, Sourp Krikor, and Sourp Thaddeus, patrons of Haiastan
(Armenia). So be it. Amen."

Archag repeated the oath in a low voice, kissed the crucifix, and
made the sign of the cross three times.

"Garabed," said Ghevont, "will you admit Archag to our society? Will
you guarantee his good faith?"

"Yes."

"Very well then, that being so, I dedicate you, Archag, a fédai,
by this brotherly kiss."

The first duty of the fédai being to help their compatriots, according
to their means and ability, it was decided that Archag should go to
town every Saturday to conduct a class in Armenian for illiterate
adults, at the school of Sourp Nersès. Garabed himself was giving
free instruction in English to members of the Gregorian union.

The three boys were stirred by their common enthusiasm. Armenia seemed
to them like a bride, very fair and very pure, to whose service they
were dedicated in knightly fashion. Gazing into the starlit night,
they saw their country transformed and their people happy. Garabed
began to sing softly the March of the Dachnaktzoutioun (revolutionary
society), and the voices of the others joined him:


   "Gervetzek dererk, gervetzek Katch Katch
    Anvehergan Knatz, technemmoun aratch.
    Tzangala emess, misht aznive mahe.
    Heroun mezanitt, vozohi dhe."

   "Fight on ye children, bravely, ever bravely,
    Fearless before the enemy we stand.
    Die though we may, we go to death with gladness,
    Fear of the foe shall never stain our land."



CHAPTER XI

ON THE MOUNTAIN


It was a college custom for each class to go for a three days'
excursion, before the Easter holidays, and this year the boys of the
Sophomore class had selected the mountain of Sof, to the northwest
of Aintab, as the objective point of their trip. Monsieur Bernier
and Mihran hodja were to go with them.

About six o'clock in the morning, one day toward the end of March,
the masters gave the signal for the start, and the boys sprang to
their saddles. They rode horses or donkeys. These donkeys of the
East are strong, vigorous animals, with bright eyes and glossy skin,
and often rival the horses in speed.

The sky was cloudless, the air pure, and fragrant with a thousand odors
from the plain; the fields, so bare in autumn, when parched by heat and
drought, had put on their bridal array of grass and flowers. The road
ran beside a stream bordered with laurel, roses and eglantine. After
a ride of three hours, the party came to the lower foothills of the
mountain. The good beasts went on bravely, picking their way among the
rough stones and fallen débris, never stumbling. The vegetation was
marvelous; as far as eye could see, stretched fields of narcissus,
hyacinths, tulips and gladiolas. Monsieur Bernier kept jumping off
his horse every few moments to gather a fresh handful of flowers.

The riders stopped near a well, to eat their luncheon; after tethering
the donkeys and horses to some plane-trees, every one proceeded to
unpack his food.

"I say," said Aram, "just look at Soghomon!"

The gluttony of the fat boy was notorious; he now had twelve eggs
spread out on his knees, the sight of which sent his companions into
fits of laughter.

"Are you going to hatch them, or what?" asked the merciless Aram.

"I speak for the chicks," said Dikran.

Soghomon turned red to the tips of his ears.

"Vai bana (worse luck), I'm hungry," he stammered at last, "and I
always have a good appetite."

"Right you are, old man," said Aram, "it seems to me you've been
getting thin lately."

"Bah!" said Nejib. "I bet he won't eat them."

"Why not?" said Soghomon pettishly. "My father ate thirteen once."

The shouts of laughter redoubled.

"I bet he will eat them," cried Aram.

"What will you bet?" asked Nejib.

"My Iceland postage-stamps."

"Pek-et (all right)! I'll bet my romance by Walter Scott."

Soghomon was nettled by the jesting. He ate eight eggs easily, but the
ninth had a queer taste. At the tenth his stomach seemed to close; he
stuck to it however. Orientals adore betting, and his comrades put him
on his mettle. He ate the eleventh, then the twelfth! Nejib had lost.

"Aférim, Aférim (Bravo)!" cried Aram, delighted, and he dragged
Soghomon into a wild dance.

It was so hot that the company unanimously agreed to take a siesta,
and not start on their way until four o'clock.... The muezzin was just
telling the hour of sunset as our cavalcade drew up at the village
of Ibrahamli, where they were to spend the night. Dr. Spencer had
given Monsieur Bernier a letter of introduction to Mustapha Hara, the
chief man of the village. The inhabitants of Ibrahamli were Kurds,
and without the doctor's letter, our friends would have found every
door closed to them.

Mustapha was a bilious-looking little man, with a nose like an eagle's
beak; his mouth was hidden by an enormous mustache, which curled back
over his chin. At first, he looked at his guests rather distrustfully,
but after reading the letter from Dr. Spencer, who had cured him
of typhus, his face brightened. He offered his best room to the two
masters, and had some straw spread in the courtyard for the boys. His
wife and children stood in a ring around the party of Christians, for
strangers are rarely seen in this obscure village. Monsieur Bernier
especially excited their curiosity; the children felt of his clothes,
and a young Kurd even went as far as to rob him of a lock of hair,
having been assured by a sorcerer that the fair head of the "Frangi"
(Europeans) was an efficacious protection against the evil eye.

Monsieur Bernier and Mihran hodja had lain down on the floor, rolled
up in the quilts which Mustapha had provided, and they were just
dropping off to sleep when a sound of scratching at the door made
them start. In an instant they were on their feet.

"Bouyourun (Come in)," said Mihran hodja.

It was Boghos, in great agitation.

"Effendis, come quick! Soghomon is very sick; he says he is going
to die!"

"Bah!" cried Monsieur Bernier. "It's those eggs."

He had, before this, had some experience of the terrible fear of
sickness by which these good people are tormented; they have iron
constitutions, but at the most trifling ailment, they imagine their
last hour has come.

In the courtyard the masters were greeted by the groans of the
sufferer. The other boys and the members of the household were
standing round him in a circle, shouting and gesticulating. Each had
some advice to give, but Monsieur Bernier went up to Soghomon and
offered him a spoonful of castor-oil.

"Take this, it will make you feel better."

If the patient were afraid of sickness, he was equally afraid of
medicine.

"What is that horrid stuff! I can't take that!" and he pushed away
the spoon in disgust.

"Soghomon, if you don't drink this, nothing can save you."

These words had the desired effect, and the sick boy swallowed the oil,
making a thousand wry faces.

"He'll be all right to-morrow," said Monsieur Bernier, as he went
back to his room.

In the morning, the party set out for the ascent of Sof, leaving their
horses with Ibrahamli, and Soghomon, who preferred to remain behind.

The mountain of Sof is shaped like a tooth. The ascent was very
difficult, over a rough trail, scaling walls of rock, and often
passing close to the edge of a precipice, but on reaching the summit
the climbers were rewarded for their exertions by a magnificent
view. At their feet lay a vast plain enclosed by the hills which
separate Aintab from Killis; toward the north towered the great
wall of Anti-Taurus. Most of the boys lay down on the grass, to dry
the perspiration that streamed from their faces. A few of the more
adventurous went off to investigate the huge blocks of granite jutting
out over the depths below.

"Be very careful," called Mihran hodja, as he stretched himself out
beside Monsieur Bernier.

"Does our Sof remind you of your Swiss mountains?"

"Not exactly; our Alps are higher and more majestic, but we seldom
enjoy such pure air and sunshine----"

He was interrupted by a terrible cry, followed by the sound of
something falling.

"There has been an accident!" said he to his companion, and they both
ran toward the rocks. There they found Dikran, Aram, and three other
boys, all pale and trembling.

"What is the matter?" asked Mihran hodja.

In reply, Dikran beckoned to them to come nearer, and pointed straight
down. There was his cousin, suspended over the chasm, and clinging
to a small tree. The boys gave a cry of horror.

Poor Nejib had slipped as he was gathering anemones, and had fallen
between two walls of rock. His fall had been broken by a narrow ledge
covered with thick grass; a few meters lower, he had caught hold of a
young pine, but the frail tree might give way at any moment, and then
the unfortunate boy must roll down to the turbulent stream below. With
neither rope nor ladder, it seemed impossible to save him; yet he could
not be left to perish like that. There was perplexity on every face.

At last Archag went up to Monsieur Bernier and said:

"He must have been hurt as he fell; I hear him groaning. I am going
to try to get down to him."

"You will certainly be killed in the attempt."

"I'm used to mountains, and I can scramble over the rocks like a wild
goat. Let us make a rope of our girdles; [24] you fasten it about me
and let me down."

It was the only chance of saving Nejib, and after a moment's
consultation the two masters consented. They bound the improvised
rope about Archag's loins, and let him down.

Our friend made good use of his hands and feet, and finally reached
Nejib. He braced himself against a rock, gripping it with his
right hand, while with the left he untied the rope and fastened it
about Nejib. The lad had sprained his ankle, and his arm was badly
bruised. Archag gave a whistle, and the rope began to go slowly up
with its burden. The spectators held their breath in suspense: if a
single girdle were to break, Nejib would be lost.

The rope ascended; one more last pull, and--Nejib was saved! The
shock and pain had exhausted his strength, and he fell fainting on
the grass. Mihran hodja hastened to take off the rope; he examined
it carefully and then threw it down to Archag, who in a few moments
gave the signal, and again the boys began pulling. Three-quarters of
the ascent had been accomplished, when the rope began to split.

"Destowe, destowe (take care)!" all the boys cried out together,
and Archag had just time to save himself by clinging to a projecting
angle of rock. He discarded the rope, now useless, and set himself
to climb up the narrow cleft in the cliff that rose sheer before
him. By dint of fitting his feet to the rough surface of the rock,
and gripping where he might with his hands, he managed to reach the
top, but not without many a bruise.

His companions received him in their arms, and gave him a regular
ovation. Nejib had come out of his swoon, and as he looked at Archag,
his eyes filled with tears.

"Avf-edersin (forgive me)," he said, under his breath.

"Forgive you for what?"

"For pushing you that day when you were looking at Professor
Missirian's collection."

"Was it you?"

"Yes. Thanks to your blundering, I was punished for reading 'The
Arabian Nights.' I thought you did it on purpose, out of spite--Stay
still; I know now that wasn't true," (Archag had started to go away)
"I was furious, and I was bound I would pay you back. But I haven't
had a moment's peace since. You are so good, so generous; do say you
forgive me."

Archag held out his hand in silence, and Nejib clasped it with both
his own. Masters and pupils alike watched this scene with astonishment.

"Nejib, I can't say I congratulate you on your behavior," cried
Monsieur Bernier. "I wouldn't have believed it of you."

"Nor I, nor I," murmured the others.

"Let him alone," said Mihran hodja. "Reproaches do no good."

The boys broke off some pine boughs and made a litter for Nejib, but
the descent was very difficult, for the boy was suffering severely,
and every jolt drew from him a groan of pain.

At Ibrahamli, the village sorcerer massaged his foot, and dressed his
wounds according to all the rules of the profession. The next morning
he was put on a horse, and the whole company set out on the return
trip to Aintab. The president and professors were indignant when
they learned of Nejib's ill-conduct. Dr. Mills imposed a punishment
of three days on bounds, and made him ask pardon of Archag publicly.



CHAPTER XII

AN EXPULSION FROM COLLEGE


After the excursion to Sof, Archag became the hero of the college. The
boys tried in kind ways to make him forget how unfriendly they had
been to him, and, naturally enough, vented their ill-humor upon
Nejib. But Archag and Garabed took his part; they made him join in
their walks and games, and the other boys, seeing the attitude of
these two toward the one who had wronged them, gradually withdrew
the ban of ostracism which they had laid upon him.

As for Aram, he was beginning to tire of his Urfali, and was only
too glad to resume his friendship with Archag.

Archag and Garabed had taken their duties as "fédai" very seriously,
and were trying to win converts to the new ideas, and now Nejib and
Aram seemed to them the best fitted to join the "Dachnaktzoutioun"
(revolutionary federation). It must be acknowledged that Aram
had changed very much of late; though he still loved to laugh and
joke, he also took an interest in the serious conversations of his
friends. They, of course, exercised extreme caution; they talked
to Nejib and Aram about the misfortunes of Armenia, then they
lent them copies of the "Droshak" (Standard), "Pro-Armenia," and
other newspapers which gave descriptions, terrible but true, of the
condition of Christians in Turkey; and, at last, one evening, they
had the happiness of admitting their two friends into their Society.

They also won an unexpected recruit in the person of Monsieur
Bernier. The young teacher often felt lonely among all the Americans
so much older than he, and had become especially attached to Ghevont,
Archag and Garabed. In their company he learned to love and to
pity Armenia, and got rid of certain false conceptions about it;
for he saw, instead of the Nihilists who had been portrayed to him,
generous men struggling not only for their liberty, but for their very
existence. He came to understand the tribulations of the Armenians,
and to feel a warm sympathy for them.

The young students understood his feeling for them, and used to lend
him their newspapers, or translate for him passages from the romances
of Raffi and Baronian, [25] thus introducing him to the literature of
their country. Monsieur Bernier offered to give them private lessons
in German, and they were with him constantly.

Dr. Mills suspected the presence of "fédai" in the college, and was
especially mistrustful of Ghevont and some of the other Juniors;
but he could not bring accusation against them without proofs, and,
so far, he had been unable to procure any. The boys were usually very
cautious, but one bit of carelessness nearly brought disaster to their
Society. While playing football one afternoon, Aram dropped a "Droshak"
which he was carrying hidden under his zouboun. He did not notice its
loss until after supper, and then he ran immediately to the campus,
but his paper had disappeared. It was a serious matter, for if the
"Droshak" were taken to Dr. Mills, the fédai would be in great danger.

Aram went up to the schoolroom, and taking Archag aside, whispered
in his ear what had happened, and Ghevont and Garabed were soon made
acquainted with the story. Ghevont turned pale; he had received a
packet of patriotic songs the evening before, and had not yet been
able to convey them to the central committee in town. The others, too,
had some compromising literature in their trunks, some of Raffi's
novels, and the rules of their Society. For a moment they looked at
one another in great perplexity.

"I have it," said Archag at last, under his breath. "Let us take all
these books to Monsieur Bernier, and ask him to take care of them
for us."

Aram breathed a sigh of relief.

"That's a fine idea! Do you think he will consent?"

"We can try, anyway," said Garabed.

The four boys went up to their dormitory on tiptoe. They hastily
tossed to one side their articles of clothing, and pulled out books
and newspapers helter-skelter, covering them over with a cloth. The
most important publications they hid under their zoubouns, which made
them look like some sort of grotesque creatures with strange humps
and deformities on back and chest.

Monsieur Bernier gazed at them in astonishment, as they entered
his room.

"What is all this?" he asked.

Ghevont explained the situation briefly, and asked if he would be
willing to take care of their books until all danger was past.

Monsieur Bernier consented without hesitation; he was heartily glad
to render this service to his young friends, and they appreciated
his kindness.

The next morning before the boys had finished dressing, the president
entered the Sophomores' dormitory.

"Open your trunks," he said; "some of you are in possession of books
forbidden by the government, and it is necessary for me to find out
which boys are guilty."

The boys obeyed, trembling. Aram and Archag exchanged significant
glances behind the president's back; they were congratulating
themselves on their foresight in taking the books to Monsieur Bernier
at once, for if they had waited till morning, it would have been all
over with them.

Needless to say, the search proved fruitless. Dr. Mills made a thorough
investigation in all the dormitories, but the only contraband article
he could find was a pot of jam which Soghomon was keeping concealed
under a pile of socks. He then went back to his house. The evening
before, Soghomon had brought him the "Droshak" which had been found
on the campus, and he suspected Ghevont of being the guilty person.

A few days later, he called a meeting of the faculty to obtain a
vote on the question of the expulsion of Ghevont and several other
members of the Junior class. Professor Pagratian opposed the measure,
but in vain; in the inmost recesses of their hearts the other masters
revolted against the idea of sending away intelligent and studious boys
whose only fault had been a loyal love of their country and a little
imprudence, quite excusable at their age; but they dared not say so.

To repeat: centuries of tyranny and oppression have rendered the
Armenians timorous and distrustful to an extreme degree; in Europe,
this lack of courage has often given them a reputation for cowardice
which they do not really deserve.

The boys suspected nothing; they had been working hard for their
final examinations at the close of the college year. Our friends
had all done very well; Ghevont stood second among the Juniors,
Garabed was at the head of his class, Dikran second, Archag third,
Nejib fourth and Aram fifth. Soghomon was lowest, with five marks
which had been given him as a favor.

On Commencement Day, Professor Piralian preached the baccalaureate
sermon, and Mrs. Mills presented the diplomas and the prizes. Then
the president went into the pulpit to make a farewell address to the
students, and to wish them a pleasant vacation.

"I hope," said he in closing, "that you will return in the autumn with
fresh vigor, and ready to take up your work with renewed energy and
purpose. The members of the faculty regret the necessity of informing
Ghevont, Bedros, Avedis, Hamparzoum (Ascension), Panos and Jakoub,
all of the Junior class, and Levon of the Sophomore class, that the
college cannot receive them next year."

And that was all!

President Mills came down from the pulpit in the midst of a deathlike
silence, the precursor of a tempest. As soon as the professors had
withdrawn, an indescribable uproar arose; the Juniors gesticulating
and shouting that if their classmates were to be sent away so unjustly,
they would all leave too; the other fédai giving the signal for revolt
by climbing on the benches and waving their handkerchiefs for flags.

That afternoon, Ghevont, Bedros and Avedis went to the president to ask
for an explanation. Dr. Mills received them with a pleasant smile. Yes,
he said, he had always been quite satisfied with their diligence,
and counted them among his best students. But he could not keep them;
he had good reasons for this, which he should not tell them.

"But Dr. Mills," said Ghevont, "do you not know that no other college
will receive us? We shall be accused of misconduct, and this stigma
of bad character will follow us all through our student life."

"If that is all," replied the president, "I will give each of you a
certificate of good character."

He sat down at his desk, and quickly wrote a few lines; then he gave
to each boy an excellent testimonial. The boys were so astonished
that they did not know what to say. Dr. Mills had to help them out
with a gentle push, after shaking hands once more.



CHAPTER XIII

THE HOLIDAYS


The holidays were at hand. The boys were so absorbed in their
preparations for departure and their farewell visits to town, that the
affair of the Juniors' expulsion was to some extent forgotten. Each
morning small groups of students left the college, to attach themselves
to some caravan of merchants. They scattered to the four points of the
compass; some journeyed toward the high table-lands of Asia Minor,
others set out for the Euphrates or the Tigris, in order to go down
stream on rafts as far as Mosul or Bagdad. As they separated, they
made great protestations of friendship, which were speedily forgotten
in the happiness of returning home.

Dikran and Nejib were among the first to leave, their home being
at Aleppo, a city easily reached from Aintab. Next, came the turn
of Garabed, Soghomon and Samouil. The Juniors who had been expelled
went to Syria, for the president of the American college at Beyrout,
a man of broad views, had promised to admit them at the next term.

The college emptied rapidly; the dormitories acquired a mournful
atmosphere, and the voices of chance speakers re-echoed in the
deserted corridors. Archag and Aram still lingered, impatiently
chafing at the delay. As a violent epidemic of typhus was raging
at Diarbekir, Aram's parents thought it more prudent for their son
not to come home. This was a hard blow for the poor boy, and he was
broken-hearted at the idea of having to spend the holidays all alone
at Aintab, but at the last moment Archag invited his friend to go home
with him to Van. Needless to say, the proposal was joyfully accepted.

After a week's delay, the boys succeeded in making arrangements for
their journey; they were the last to go, and Badvili Melikian was the
only person left to wish them a good journey. The merchants in whose
company they were to travel were going to Tabriz to buy Persian silks
to be sold again at Damascus and Beyrout. They were pressed for time,
and made long stages, so that the journey from Aintab to Van occupied
only sixteen days.

Soon the country began to look familiar to Archag; he recognized
villages where he had been with his father to buy horses or sheep,
and at one place an old man who was a friend of Boghos Effendi stopped
him for a chat; his was the first familiar face.

Dear reader, have you ever spent a long year at boarding-school? If so,
you will understand Archag's joy at seeing his native town again. A
landscape of marvelous beauty lay spread before his enchanted
eyes. At his feet the great lake of brilliant blue was sparkling
in the sunshine, and in its transparent waters was reflected the
sublime peak of Subhan Dagh. The town with its mighty rock crowned
by the castle, and its fortified walls and towers, lay embowered in
orchards and gardens. To the right, a snow-crowned peak dominated a
natural amphitheater, in which rose the walls of the Armenian Convent
of Jedi Klissia (the Seven Churches). To the west of the lake were the
Nimrona Dagh and the high table-lands which nourish the sources of the
great rivers of Mesopotamia. The hills in the foreground were carpeted
with gay flowers, and were the pasture ground for sheep and cattle.

The horses, urged on by the spur, broke into a gallop, and soon passed
the city gates.

May I be allowed a short digression concerning Van?

According to the history of Armenia, the city was founded by Semiramis,
who gave it the name of Shamiram Yerd. Here, in the charming gardens
which she had planted and irrigated by means of a thousand canals,
the Assyrian queen was accustomed to seek refuge from the intolerable
heat of the Mesopotamian summer; returning to her palaces at Nineveh
at the approach of winter. The first city, having fallen in ruins,
was rebuilt, it is said, by an Armenian king whose name was Van,
shortly before the invasion of Alexander the Great. It was sacked by
Tamerlane, [26] and again rebuilt by the Armenians.

The two boys bade a friendly farewell to their traveling companions,
in front of the khan of Achmet Pasha, and went on their way. Before
long, Archag caught sight of his father's house at a turn of the road.

Levon was keeping watch on the roof, and as soon as he saw the
travelers he hurried down and ran to meet them. Boghos Effendi and
his wife, together with all the servants, followed him out of the
house. Archag sprang from the saddle, and embraced his father and
mother and Levon.

"How tall he has grown!" exclaimed Hanna badgi with a motherly pride
in her son's fine bearing.

"Look at his pretty mustache!" said Levon. Everybody laughed, for
Archag's mustache consisted of a scant score of downy hairs.

Then Archag presented Aram to his parents; Boghos Effendi bade the
boy welcome, and inquired for his father and an uncle with whom he
had once had some business dealings. Meanwhile Levon plied Archag
with questions about the college.

When they went into the house, the travelers found a regular
collation awaiting them, prepared by old Gulenia; tea, three kinds
of jam, caghkés, still hot, with grapes and watermelon. They felt a
keen appreciation of the comfort and happiness of being at home. They
talked gayly about their college life, their teachers and comrades. In
spite of Archag's protestations, Aram insisted on telling the story
of the butterflies and Nejib's rescue. The father and mother had
heard no word of this, and Hanna badgi shed tears as she learned of
the danger into which her boy had run, and gave thanks to God for
having so miraculously preserved him.

The voice of the Bakshi (watchman) crying ten o'clock reminded Boghos
Effendi that the boys must be very tired, so he went with them to their
room, which had formerly been Nizam's, and made them good night. Hanna
badgi lay awake a long time that night, unable to sleep for the joy
of seeing her son again.

Aram and Archag spent the next day with Nizam and her husband,
and also paid a short visit to the old Bishop who had always been
especially fond of Archag. They made numerous plans for all sorts of
jaunts and excursions, and even talked of making the ascent of Subhan
Dagh; but Boghos Effendi forbade that.

The days and hours of the holidays passed all too quickly for our
lads. Aram was eager to see everything, and Archag took pleasure
in showing his favorite haunts to his friend. About a week after
their arrival they made a trip to Akhtamar, an island in Lake Van,
where there is a celebrated monastery, formerly the residence of
three Gregorian patriarchs. When the Catholicos of Echmiadzin became
Primate of the Church, the office of his two associates was abolished,
but the convent still continues to be a famous object of pilgrimage;
its library contains many precious manuscripts in old Armenian. It
is a charming spot, with magnificent stretches of garden and lawn,
and ancient trees offering repose beneath their venerable branches.

An old sailor was commissioned to take the boys over in his boat,
and Archag held the tiller, while Aram lay stretched out on a seat,
and sang at the top of his voice, or chaffed the boatman, whom he
called "Captain of the ship."

The Superior of the monastery, a distant cousin of Boghos Effendi,
gave the lads a cordial reception and directed a lay brother to show
them all the treasures of the place: the relics of the Saints, the
old pictures, the golden censer, and the manuscripts and objects of
early art in the library.

Then Archag and Aram went off to eat a picnic lunch on the banks of a
stream. The Superior had given them permission to take their dessert
from the trees in the garden, so our two friends filled pockets
and stomachs with plums and peaches. When they had satisfied their
appetite, they explored the whole island; Archag, conscientious as
usual, hunted for some coleoptera which he had promised to take back
to Professor Pagratian.

About four o'clock, however, they had to think about going home. They
found the boatman sitting in front of the convent with some of the
monks, and when he saw the boys he stood up at once.

"Well, Ibrahim ammi (uncle)," said Archag, "are you ready?"

"Ewet, my young Effendi, bouyourun (Yes, yes, let us be off)."

"I really think," said one of the monks, pointing to a little cloud
over Subhan Dagh, "that you will do well not to linger too long. We
may get a squall."

The old sailor looked up at the cloud, which he had not noticed before.

"Yes, yes, we must make haste; Lake Van isn't pleasant in a storm."

"A storm!" cried Aram laughing. "You see everything on the dark side
to-day, uncle. The lake is as smooth as glass."

But Ibrahim was already untying his boat, so our friends bade the
monks good-by, and followed him.

The island of Akhtamar soon lay a good distance behind them; Ibrahim
rowed in silence, scanning the horizon from time to time. Aram laughed
and joked; Archag was pre-occupied, for he knew the treacherous
character of the lake. Great clouds, too, were coming over the
mountains, and the boat rocked lightly on the waves.

"Perhaps we should do better to go back," said the old man after a
while. "In an hour we should be safe at Akhtamar, and it will take
at least two hours and a half to reach Van."

But the boys opposed this wise suggestion. The family at home would be
anxious if they did not come back, and there was no storm yet. Besides,
if the situation should grow worse, they could at any time put in to
one of the villages along the shore, not more than two miles away.

The old man bowed his head, muttering some words of resignation. He
and Aram now bent to the oars. An hour passed thus. They were nearing
the shore, and Archag was hoping yet to make port safely, when a flash
of lightning rent the clouds, followed by the rumbling of thunder. The
old man crossed himself: "We are in for it now!" he said. He lowered
the sails, and prepared for a struggle against the elements now let
loose. The wind was blowing a gale; huge waves broke against the
boat, drenching the three occupants with spray, and the little vessel
rolled and pitched. Aram was no longer joking; everything seemed to
turn upside down, and his stomach was very uneasy. The poor lad had
never been off the solid earth before, and soon became very sea-sick.

The sky was on fire; peals of thunder reverberated from the cliffs, and
rain fell in torrents. Instead of keeping on toward Van, Ibrahim had
put about and was making with all speed for the nearest land. Calm and
resolute, he preserved his sailor's coolness. The boys made the best
of a bad business, but now they realized the danger that threatened
them, and repented of their rashness.

The tempest increased in fury, and the boat seemed one moment on the
point of being engulfed in the deep, the next of being tossed up to
the sky. They were near land, but the increasing darkness prevented
them from seeing the reefs which line these shores. Suddenly a black
mass rose before them, and the boat trembled under the force of a
terrible blow. At the same time it was lifted up by a tremendous wave
and dashed against the rocks. Before they knew what was happening,
all three were thrown into the water.

Instinctively, Archag caught hold of Aram, and held him under his
left arm. He ducked to let a great wave pass over them, then, taking
advantage of a momentary calm, he swam around the reef, holding fast
his precious burden. Presently his feet touched bottom, and he laid
Aram on the ground, in a swoon.

The night was so dark that he could not make out where he was. Bending
over his friend, Archag first made sure that he was not seriously
injured, and that the blood on his face came from nothing but
scratches; then from the gourd that he had with him, he forced a
few drops of rum between the closed lips of the unconscious boy. He
had not long to wait for the desired effect; Aram opened his eyes in
astonishment, wondering where he could be.

The boys' haven proved to be a deep cave in the rocks. Archag gathered
some dried water-weeds which lay strewn on the sand, and made a great
heap of them; he had no matches, but was not hindered by such a trifle
as that. He looked about and found two flint pebbles which he rubbed
one against the others to make the sparks fly. Before long a brisk
fire was burning, and the shipwrecked travelers dried their drenched
garments. They were not uneasy about Ibrahim, for they supposed that
he must have found shelter somewhere, and that they should find him
in the morning. Archag went down to the beach and called repeatedly,
but his voice was drowned in the tempest, and he went back to his
companion. Then they took off their clothes, which had become soaked
through again, and stretched themselves out on a thick bed of dried
weeds. Worn out as they were, with fatigue and excitement, they soon
fell into a deep sleep.

When they awoke, the bright sunlight was streaming into the cave,
and their clothes were thoroughly dried, so they dressed and went
outside. There was not a trace of the storm; the sky was azure,
and there was scarcely a ripple on the lake.

Our two friends were rejoiced to find that they were not on a desert
island, as they had feared, but on a promontory jutting out into
the lake. The cliff against which their boat had been wrecked formed
the point; on three sides it rose perpendicularly, but was slightly
inclined on the fourth, making a little cove, and here the boys had
come ashore.

As they stood watching the lake, their attention was attracted by a
dark object which was being washed by the waves against the rocks. On
looking more closely, they thought it resembled a human body, and
both were seized by the same apprehension: could it be poor Ibrahim?

In a flash Archag stripped off his clothes and swam out toward the
object. Alas! it was no longer possible to doubt; it was the old
sailor. His feet protruded from the water, and his open zouboun was
floating on the waves. Archag took him in his arms and swam back to the
beach where Aram was anxiously waiting. Here, he laid the body down
on the sand. The poor man must have been hurled against the rocks,
for his face was disfigured by a bad wound on the temple. The boys
stood looking at him, dumb with terror.

"It's all our fault," said Aram after a while. "He wanted to go back,
and we wouldn't let him."

"Yes," said Archag, "we didn't know the lake, and ought to have
listened to him; but you mustn't take his death so much to heart, Aram
dear; since his hour had struck, nothing could save him." But Aram,
on his knees beside the ill-fated fisherman, was sobbing convulsively.

They carried Ibrahim to the cave and recited the prayers for the
dead. Then they decided to go to the nearest village and send back some
men to bury the body. It took them a good hour to reach the hamlet
of Bos-Ujuk, but there they found hospitality at the house of an
old servant of Boghos Effendi, Toros Ammi by name. After eating they
felt better, and asked for horses, for they were still about fifteen
kilometers from Van, but before leaving Archag begged his host to
have Ibrahim buried, promising that his father would reimburse him
for the expense. The old sailor had been alone in the world.

Boghos Effendi and his household were in a torment of anxiety. Hanna
badgi had cried all night, trembling every time a violent gust of
wind shook the house. Her husband tried to console her with the
assurance that the boys must have spent the night at the convent,
and would be at home before long, but he scarcely believed his own
words, knowing how venturesome Archag was. The poor woman shook her
head without reply. Gulenia and Krikor, kneeling before the picture
of Sourp Krikor Lousavoritch (Saint Gregory the Illuminator), muttered
prayers for sailors in distress.

Early in the morning Boghos Effendi went to town, hoping to find out
something, but he had only bad news to bring home. It was reported
that several boats had capsized in the storm of the previous night,
and the people at the bazaar were talking of nothing else. About ten
o'clock he went to town again, and met one of the Akhtamar monks,
who had come over to make some purchases. This man said that the boys
had spent the day at the island, but had left late in the afternoon.

Boghos Effendi stood rooted to the ground; the monk's words had
destroyed his last hope, and he knew that, but for a miracle, the
luckless three must be mourned as dead.

When he reached home he had not the courage to tell his wife these
sad tidings. Dinner-time came, but Hanna badgi refused all food. She
had lighted two tall candles before the picture of her patron saint,
believing in her simple faith that he alone could save her child. Bowed
to the ground, she continued to pray fervently, and at last she seemed
to feel that she had been heard, for she rose to her feet, radiant.

"They are coming, they are coming!" she cried.

All bent to listen: yes, they could hear the gallop of horses at a
distance. The sound came nearer, increasing in intensity, then ceased
abruptly, and the next moment Archag and Aram burst into the room.

They were received with cries and exclamations of joy. Hanna badgi
was too much overcome to speak, and Archag had to tell the story
of their adventure immediately. Holding his mother's hand, he gave
a full account of their return trip, accusing himself, with Aram,
of having caused the death of Ibrahim, by their rashness.

Boghos Effendi had known the old sailor well; he had had many a chat
with him on the shore of the lake, and was much distressed by the
tale of his death.

"You are almost grown men," said he sternly, "but you act like
children. If you had listened to the poor old man, we should not
be lamenting his death now. You are well punished, and I hope this
accident will teach you a lesson." The two boys hung their heads in
silence, for they knew that this reproof was well deserved.

They did justice to their dinner, after which Gulenia ordered them
off to bed. In vain they protested that they were feeling perfectly
well; the old woman would not listen to a word, and they had to obey,
half in jest, half in vexation. Gulenia had been a servant in the
family of Hanna badgi, and upon the marriage of her young mistress,
had gone with her to her new home. She had a heart of gold hidden
beneath her sullen countenance, and always retained a partiality for
Archag, whom she had once nursed through diphtheria. Hanna badgi,
who was often ill, intrusted her with all the household care.

When the boys were in bed, the old woman brought them two bowls of
steaming broth.

"Drink this, my lambs," said she, "and to-morrow you will be better
than ever."

"Pouah!" said Aram, "your tea isn't as sweet as your name [27]
(Rose). What is this horrid stuff you are giving us?"

"Hold your tongue, and drink it while it's hot."

Aram followed Archag's example, and emptied his cup, and the old
woman, after tucking them up as if they were little children, went
off with an injured air. A few minutes later our two friends were
snoring in concert.



CHAPTER XIV

THE STORY OF RUPEN


Archag was none the worse for his enforced bath, but Aram had a
bronchial cold which kept him in bed for a week. He was coddled and
cared for by the entire household; Levon brought him sweets, Archag
read to him, and Gulenia, who had constituted herself head nurse,
poured down his throat concoctions which tasted abominably. Aram dared
not resist, but he took his revenge by ridiculing her narrow ideas,
for like many aged persons, she unfortunately found something to
criticise in all modern ways.

As soon as Aram was able to be up, the two friends resumed their
long rides about the country, and one morning they set out to
thank Toros Ammi for his hospitality, and to take him a present of
coffee and sugar, with a box of lokums (Turkish sweetmeats) for his
children. After paying their visit, they rode out a little way on the
Bitlis road, to give Aram the pleasure of the fine view from a certain
hilltop. They had dismounted, and were sitting for a moment under a
mulberry tree, when all at once they were startled by the sound of
hurried footsteps, and looking around, they saw a man clothed in rags
running toward them.

"Save me!" he cried, as he came up panting. "In the Name of God,
save me! The zaptiehs are after me; they will be here in twenty
minutes at latest."

The man was still young; he could not have been more than twenty-five
or six; his face was pale, his cheeks hollow, as if from recent
illness, and partly covered by his black whiskers; his clothes were
hanging in tatters, and his feet were bandaged with blood-stained
rags. Yet he did not give the impression of a mendicant, but of a
leader, accustomed to command; his thin lips, his brilliant eyes told
of an energy which death alone could conquer.

After a moment's reflection, Archag said: "I know a capital
hiding-place, and we can get there in two hours, for we have fast
horses. Get up and ride behind me."

No sooner said than done. The horses, spurred on by their riders,
flew over the ground, and Archag led the way over cross-roads, to
avoid any awkward encounters. The cave where he and Aram had found
shelter on the night of the storm seemed to him a safe asylum, for
the entrance was concealed by high rocks, and the place was known
only to a few fishermen.

Before entering the village of Bos-Ujuk, Archag let his companion
dismount, bidding him wait while he and Aram went to leave their
horses with an acquaintance. They soon returned with their arms full
of provisions.

Toros Ammi had served fifteen years in the household of Boghos Effendi;
he was a discreet person, and loyally devoted to his former master,
so Archag took him aside and told him all about his meeting with the
fugitive. Toros approved the lad's decision, and thought the cave a
good hiding-place; he gave the two boys a basketful of supplies on
the spot, and promised to take some food to the refugee every evening,
an offer which was gratefully accepted by Archag.

When the man saw his companions coming back, he went to meet them.

"Oh, how kind you are!" said he. "You are bringing me something to
eat. This morning I managed to find a few berries, but I have eaten
nothing else since last evening."

He fell upon the bread and olives which Aram offered him, and ate
greedily. It was growing dark, and they made their way over the rocks
with extreme caution. At last, after a thousand difficulties, they
reached the cavern, a spot which awakened many recollections in the
boys' minds. Aram and Archag took out the treasures from their basket:
dolmas, [28] eggs, cucumbers and figs, and the fugitive ate ravenously,
his eyes eager with appetite.

When his hunger was appeased, the boys begged him to tell them his
story. They were sitting cross-legged at the entrance to the cave, with
the full moon shining on them, and jackals yelping in the distance.

"I am a native of Moosh," said the man, "that unfortunate city,
continually exposed to the attacks of wandering Kurds. My name
is Rupen, and I was for three years the inseparable companion of
Andranick; perhaps you may have heard of him?"

Heard of Andranick and Rupen, the heroes of the ballads they so often
sang? What a question! Their guest rose high in their estimation,
and they looked at him with deep respect and admiration.

"We are twice and thrice happy to know you," said Archag, "and we shall
always remember this day as long as we live. We have wept with joy
when we have heard the songs of your exploits and Andranick's, for,"
he added, with simple pride, "we are partisans of the good cause."

"What, you boys are fédai? Then I am saved!"

"We shall do everything we can, so that you may be! But do tell us
how you came to join Andranick's band."

"Willingly," replied Rupen. "My father was a merchant well-esteemed
by his fellow-citizens; his business was prosperous, and we had
a very comfortable home. There was no happier hearth than ours,
but alas, misfortune lay waiting for us! I had an only sister, two
years younger than I, and celebrated for her beauty. My father in his
foresight, never allowed her to go out unveiled; but one evening,
as she was taking the air on our roof, she was obliged to uncover
her face because of the suffocating heat. She walked about slowly,
without a suspicion that there was a man at the corner of the street,
watching her carefully. It was Ibrahim Khan, one of the most powerful
chiefs of Kurdistan.

"A few days later, he came, accompanied by his attendants, to ask the
hand of my sister, and was refused. The Kurd was furious, and began
to insult my father, who, driven to desperation, struck Ibrahim in the
face. Then there was a fight between our men and Ibrahim's. The Kurds
were repulsed; but they returned in a body, and burned and pillaged
our house. My father was killed, my sister carried off by the bandits;
my mother was overwhelmed by these events, and survived her husband
only a few months. Thus I found myself at the age of twenty alone
in the world, and deprived of all; but one thing remained to me:
vengeance. I fled to the mountains, and begged aid and asylum from
Andranick. Together we made a desperate struggle. When the hero
left us for Bulgaria, I was chosen captain of the band. During
all these five years I have had but a single wish: to kill Ibrahim
Khan. At last, one month ago, I succeeded in gratifying my desire
for vengeance. We drew the Kurd into ambush, but a bullet was too
good for that miserable wretch; we hung him like a dog, and his black
soul fled to hell. Three hundred Kurds pursued us, to avenge the death
of their chief. They annihilated my band, and I am the sole survivor
of our forty companions. A price was set on my head, and for weeks,
I have been wandering in the mountains, making my way toward Van,
and hoping to get from there to Tabriz. The zaptiehs have been on
my scent since morning, when I met you my my strength was spent;
an old wound in my leg had re-opened, giving me great pain. But for
your generous help, I should now be in the hands of my enemies."

The two boys listened to this tale with eager sympathy. It was the
same old story of murder and rapine, painful indeed to the heart
of an Armenian. They assured Rupen of the concern they felt in his
misfortunes, and promised to come back often to see him.

The next day Archag told his father about the fugitive, and Boghos
Effendi approved his son's conduct. Without being a fédai, he had
already been won to the new ideas, and was impatiently awaiting an
era of liberty and progress.

To avoid suspicion, the boys went to see their friend only twice a
week. The zaptiehs were searching for him at Van, and as long as they
were there, caution was necessary. Rupen had a violent attack of fever,
and his wound, aggravated by the pursuit and the heat, caused him great
suffering. For several days he was delirious, and turned and tossed
on his couch without recognizing any one. Toros Ammi never left his
side (being a fisherman he could easily account for his absence);
night and day he made and applied compresses of plants gathered in
the mountains, and at last the fever yielded, and Rupen was once more
able to recognize his friends. After this, his convalescence was very
rapid, and at the end of three weeks his health was quite restored.

Aram and Archag took keen delight in their visits to the fugitive;
they never wearied of hearing details about Moosh and Andranick and
his band. Rupen, for his part, had become attached to his rescuers,
and his heart was heavy at the thought of the coming separation. But
the zaptiehs had been gone from Van two weeks; moreover he would not
be really safe until he had crossed the frontier, for some chance was
liable at any time to lead to the discovery of his hiding-place. Our
boys realized this, and fixed the date of departure themselves. They
procured a complete disguise for Rupen, that of an old merchant with
white hair and a long beard, in which it was impossible to recognize
him. Boghos Effendi filled the purse of the poor exile, that he might
not lack the necessaries of life.

The three friends parted with tears in their eyes, not knowing if
they would ever meet again. If all went well, Rupen would be able to
reach Tabriz in three weeks, and he promised to write at once.

After his departure, the days seemed long to Aram and Archag, and they
were glad when the end of the vacation drew near. No letter came from
Rupen, so they had to leave for Aintab without news of their friend.



CHAPTER XV

THE DEATH OF SAMOUIL


The courtyard of the college was all astir with life: the students
were arriving in small groups, and there was a constant succession of
salutations and embraces, for Orientals are more demonstrative than
northern people. Among the new Juniors, we find our friends of last
year: the two cousins, Nejib and Dikran, Boghos and his inseparable
companion Soghomon, fatter than ever; Aram, Archag and Garabed, who
had traveled together from Moosh; and lastly Sumpad and Samouil. The
latter was not at all well; he had taken cold during the holidays,
and since then had been growing very weak; his cheeks were sometimes
burning with fever, again ashen pale. His uncle had been alarmed by
his cough, and unwilling to let him go away, but Samouil had begged
so hard to be allowed to return to his beloved college, that he had
been allowed to come.

"Oh! What is the matter with you?" asked Archag, as he came upon him
in the midst of a fit of coughing.

Samouil could not reply for a moment; then he said:

"It's this cough that hangs on so, and I'm so tired all the time,
I can hardly move."

"The good air of Aintab will make you feel better, and we'll all look
after you. Take my arm to go upstairs, and lean hard on me."

On rejoining their classmates they heard an unexpected piece of news:
Professor Hagopian had sent in his resignation, desiring to take
a few years' rest. His place was filled by Mr. Hairemian, who thus
became proctor of the Junior class.



The first recitation was scarcely over when the boys poured into the
hall to see if the postman had come. The mail was brought to Aintab
only on Fridays, and professors and students, Armenians and Americans,
awaited this great day with equal impatience. Twenty times during
the day the boys would run to the porter and ask:

"Posta geldiné? (Has the mail come?)"

"Yok, yok, Effendis."

But this time it really had come. A cry rang through all the buildings:

"Posta gelmidé! Posta gelmidé! (The mail has come!)"

Boys, big and little, came running downstairs. Badvili Melikian
opened the bag and distributed the letters scattered over the table,
with a word for each:

"Nejib, here's a letter from your father in Heidelberg. Is he going
to stay much longer in Germany?"

"Garabed, the letter from your parents."

"Monsieur Bernier, a letter from Switzerland, and a parcel of
newspapers."

"Professor Piralian, three letters from your friends in America."

"Boghos, a letter from your father. Please give him my greetings when
you write."

"Three more letters for Monsieur Bernier. Is it your birthday,
or what?"

"Soghomon, the 'Avedaper.' Please lend it to me after you have
read it."

"Samouil, there is nothing for you this week."

"Aram, two letters from Diarbekir."

"Archag, one letter from Van, and one from--what, Tabriz? I didn't
know you had acquaintances in Adgemistam?"

Archag was blushing with pleasure, for he guessed at once from whom
the letter came. He stammered out that one of his friends had been
in Persia for the last few months; then, making a sign to Aram to
follow, he went out of the room and upstairs to the dormitory. The
two boys sat down on a trunk and Archag opened the precious letter,
and lowering his voice, read as follows:



"Siréli paragamner, (My dear friends)

"What must you think of me? It is five weeks yesterday since I left
Van, and it is only to-day that I am able to keep my promise and
tell you that, thanks to the mercy of Astwatz (God, in Armenian),
I have arrived at Tabriz; but it was not without difficulty, and my
adventures have been little less than miraculous.

"But let me not anticipate. When you left me, and I saw you
disappearing all too quickly from the shore of Lake Van, I stopped
for a moment, to follow in thought those faithful friends whom I
shall probably never see again.

"I used to walk at night, avoiding the highways for fear of some
misadventure; at daybreak I would lie down at the foot of a pine
tree, in the shadow of a rock, no matter where, provided the place
was deserted. A fortnight passed in this way; I had accomplished more
than half of my journey, and everything led me to hope that I should
reach the end without hindrance. Alas! it must needs be otherwise. My
provisions were now gone; the country was barren, there was no
fruit, not even wild strawberries or whortleberries. One day, toward
nightfall, I ventured to knock at the door of a solitary house. I was
well received, and my host, an old Kurd, gave me a bountiful supper,
to which I did full justice. I speak Turkish fluently, so it was easy
to pass myself off for a Mussulman merchant on my way to Tabriz, and
I said that I had been attacked by thieves who had made off with my
horse and my baggage.

"'May the will of Allah be done!' said my host. 'He will repay you
fourfold for what he has taken from you. But a curse on these brigands
who rob the servants of the Prophet, instead of contenting themselves
with Christian dogs!'

"While he was talking, one of his grandchildren, a little boy of four,
had climbed on my knee and was playing with my watch; suddenly he took
hold of my beard and pulled it with all his might, and the string
that held the false hair broke, leaving the beard in his hands,
to his great terror. I saw my host's eyes grow big with fright.

"'Ah!' said he, 'so you are not the old merchant Abdallah, as you
pretended.' He rose, and by a quick movement pulled off my turban
and white wig.

"'You are doubtless a spy, one of those fédai that infest our
country. A curse on you!' and he spat on the ground, as a sign
of scorn.

"Seeking safety in flight, I rushed to the door; it was locked. I tried
to force it open, but my host had already thundered out his orders:

"'Hola, Jousif, Raschid, Hamid! Seize this dog!'

"In an instant I was thrown to the ground, and bound fast; then my
tormentors took me to an underground room and double-locked the door. I
was convinced that my last hour had struck, and resigned myself to my
fate, but as the days slipped by I began to wonder, from curiosity,
rather than fear, what they were going to do with me. Every evening
the door of my prison was opened, and a hand passed me a jug of water
and some bread. The continued suspense began to weigh upon me. Five
days had now passed since the catastrophe. I was lying in a troubled
sleep, when a slight sound made me wake up with a start.

"'Who is there?' I cried.

"'Don't stir,' replied a voice, 'it is a friend.'

"'A friend? Then I have not been forgotten?'

"'No; I am an Armenian like yourself, and all the sons of Haik are
brothers. Everything is ready for our flight; there is not a moment
to lose. Come.'

"We went out of the cellar, and I breathed in the pure night air with
delight. The watch dog gave a threatening growl when he saw us, but
as soon as he recognized my companion he became quiet and wagged his
tail with joy. Two horses were waiting for us, with a pistol attached
to each saddle. We mounted them and soon disappeared in the night. I
waved my arms for joy; I was free; fortune was smiling on me again.

"As we galloped along over a by-way, my companion told me his
story. His name was Puzant, and he was the son of Armenian farming
people. When he was twelve years old, the Kurds plundered his village,
his parents were killed, and he himself was taken prisoner and sold
as a slave. The same old story, so common in Armenia.

"My host had bought him, and converted him to the Mussulman faith,
giving him the name of Hamid. The child became a youth; he was
diligent, and apparently submissive and attached to his master, but he
had not forgotten; he steadfastly cherished the purpose of fulfilling
the oath of revenge which he had taken before his dying father.

"When my disguise was discovered, he made a vow to set me free and
at the same time to regain his own liberty. Fate had favored him,
for Rhasoul Khan, instead of cutting my throat immediately, had sent
one of his men to fetch zaptiehs from the neighboring town. This
delay had given Puzant time to get everything in readiness for our
flight. First he put poison in the Kurd's rhaki (liquor) and that
of his men; then he saddled the horses, took arms and ammunition,
and finally opened the door of my prison. The zaptiehs could not
reach the farm before morning; we had Rhasoul Khan's best horses,
and at least six hours' start.

"For three days all went well. We were nearing the end of our journey,
without having met with any hindrances; only a few miles more lay
between us and the frontier, which we planned to cross during the
night. When the full moon was up, we set out, and made our way
very cautiously across a marsh, leading our horses by the bridles,
and attentive to the slightest sound. The hoot of a screech-owl
startled us, and as we stopped, in momentary hesitation, the sound
of a pistol-shot rang out, and a bullet went whistling over Puzant's
head. We could hesitate no longer; we were discovered, so we left
our good horses, regretfully, and took to our heels, rushing madly
forward. It was a wild chase. In the darkness we had many a slip and
fall, and our hands and faces were torn by thorns. Our enemies were
in hot pursuit, and shooting at random, guided by the sound of our
voices. Our strength was spent: then, at last, we heard the sound of
rushing water; it was the stream that separates the two countries. We
sprang forward and leaped into the surging waters--we set foot on
the other side! As a response to our shout of joy, came a howl of
rage and five pistol-shots. I felt a sharp pain in my shoulder: the
bullet had entered the flesh, but I nerved myself to bear the pain,
for liberty was opening her arms to me. We soon disappeared behind
the rocks; we were saved, for our enemies would not dare follow us
on Persian territory.

"What more shall I tell you? We had come to the end of our adventures,
and the rest of the journey was child's play. After resting a few
days in the village, where the hodja dressed my wound and applied a
healing balm, we resumed our journey to Tabriz, no longer on foot,
but by carriage, and in broad daylight.

"I have found again the generous friends of whom I spoke to you: Doctor
Harontounian and the Vartabet (priest) Gerdulian. They got work for
Puzant with an Armenian weaver. As for me, the hour has again struck
for my departure, and I leave by automobile for Djoulfa to-morrow;
there, I shall take the train for Tiflis, where I expect to stay
several weeks. Then I shall go to Bulgaria to rejoin Andranick. I
take leave of you, my friends: thank you again and again, and, if
God so pleases, may we meet again.


"Yours devotedly,

"Rupen."



"Shall we ever see that brave fellow again?" said Archag.

"Why not?" replied Aram. "We'll run away to Europe and join him,"
he whispered in his friend's ear.

The dormitory was now full of boys, and it was necessary to guard
their speech. Archag put the letter back in his pocket, and went over
to the window, where he began to chat with Samouil.

"What's the matter with you?" he asked, observing his friend's pallor.

"I--I--" stammered Samouil; but his speech was checked by a rush of
blood. The handkerchief which he had put to his lips was stained
crimson. There was a murmur of pity from the boys, and they made
haste to carry the sick lad to his bed: Archag kneeling beside him,
bathed his temples, while Garabed ran for Dr. Spencer.

The doctor's face grew grave as he examined Samouil, and listened to
his breathing.

"He must be taken to the hospital," said he to Badvili Melikian;
"he will get better care there than here."

The change was made at once. Samouil was not suffering, but his life
was ebbing away. Badvili Melikian told the boys that their comrade
was going to die, and they were moved and saddened by his words. The
Juniors took turns in going to spend their spare hours with the sick
boy, taking him gifts of flowers and fruit. Samouil never complained,
but always welcomed his friends with a smile.

"You know," he said once to Garabed, "I'm not going to live much
longer. I am so glad; I have no one left on earth, and I'm so tired
all the time."

For a few days he felt a little better, and was able to get up and
walk about in the hospital garden; then he had another hemorrhage,
more violent than the last.

"It is the end," said Dr. Spencer. "I don't think he will live through
the night."

The boy was drowsy all day, but about five o'clock he opened his eyes
and smiled, as he saw Archag sitting by his bed.

"You all spoil me," he said to his friend, as he smelt the flowers
he offered. "When I am down there" (and he pointed to the hospital
cemetery), "you will cover my grave with cyclamen, won't you? It's
my favorite flower."

"Oh Samouil! You're not going to leave us! What shall we do without
you?"

"Without me?" repeated the sick boy in surprise. "I didn't suppose
there was any one who would miss me."

"Hush, hush! We all loved you" (Archag was already using the past
tense, unconsciously). "Whenever we had a favor to ask, whenever
we had no time to do our work and were afraid of being punished,
to whom did we turn? To you, always to you!"

Samouil listened, happily.

"Is it true, is it really true, what you are telling me?"

"I swear it."

"Then I'm very happy, for I've been of some use in the world, and
there will be somebody to mourn for me when I'm not here any more."

The two boys were silent for a moment. Archag was too much moved to
speak. Samouil seemed very weary; he looked at his comrade in silence,
and after a little while he said:

"I'll wait for you. Up there. I so hope you will all come and join
me. You will do your best to, won't you?"

"Yes."

"And when you want to do something wrong, just think that it hurts me,
and perhaps that will help you resist the temptation."

Archag bent his head in assent. Never before had he seen death so near,
and he was completely overcome.

The sun had disappeared behind the hills that outline the horizon;
the sky had faded from brilliant red to pale yellow. Samouil slept
for a few moments, then he opened his eyes again and said:

"I have just seen the new Jerusalem, the city with streets of
gold. Angels were holding out their arms to me, and I saw my mother
among them; I don't remember her face, for she died when I was only
three years old, but I knew her at the first glance. It's strange,
isn't it?"

His voice was altered, and in his great black eyes was reflected the
mystery of the Beyond. Then he was seized with a choking fit, and
Archag held a glass of lemonade to his lips. He drank a few drops,
and thanked his friend with a smile.

"How beautiful my mother is! And she looked at me so
lovingly! But--she--is--here--and----"

He could not go on; his features contracted in a spasm of pain,
then they resumed their expression of peace and happiness.

Archag, terrified, sprang to the bell.

The nurse came running in.

"Is he worse?" she asked.

"I don't know; I think--he has fainted."

The nurse gave one look at the bed, and divined the truth.

"He is dead," she whispered, kissing the marble brow.

"Good-by, my darling boy; God has taken you to His rest."

Archag was convulsed with tears, as he knelt at the foot of the bed.

The boys planted cyclamen on Samouil's grave, as he had wished, and
in the spring, when the fields are full of flowers, it is covered
with a wonderful carpet of pink and white.



CHAPTER XVI

THE STUDENTS PRESENT A TRAGEDY


Great news: the students were to act a tragedy during the Christmas
holidays. The winter was very severe this year, and the proceeds of
the play were to be distributed among the poor.

Mr. Piralian selected the Christian tragedy of Santourt, by Thomas
Terzian. Every one approved the choice, but when the poor professor
came to assign the parts, he found himself in an embarrassing
situation. For the boys, with unbounded confidence in their aptitude
for high tragedy, all wanted to play the leading rôles, and refused
to take any others, as being beneath their dignity. The college was
all topsy-turvy; Dr. Mills had to threaten to forbid the performance
altogether before these embryo actors could be pacified.

The president then commissioned Mihran hodja Kurkjian, professor
of Armenian, to assign the parts. This measure met with approval,
for the boys were very fond of Mihran hodja. The part of Santourt,
the martyr-princess, was given to Garabed, because of his pretty face
and rather feminine features. Aram and one of the Freshmen were to
be his attendants. Archag was to play Yervant, the fiancé of the fair
Santourt; Nejib the old king, Sanadroug; Soghomon, the future pastor,
was chosen to represent Saint Thaddeus, the Missionary Apostle of
Armenia. So they were all satisfied, and set themselves in good
earnest to study their parts. All the talk was now about tragedies,
famous actors, costumes and acting. The boys called one another by
the names of the heroes they were to impersonate, and some of them
embellished their conversation with lines from the tragedy.

When the dinner-bell was heard, Dikran, who had the part of the king's
cup-bearer, would say to his comrades:

"Come, noble sons of Haik, to assist at the feast of the gods. The
table groans beneath the weight of succulent viands, and the
fair-haired Aphrodite will pour us out ambrosia."

The others, quite carried away by his poetic ardor, would reply with
the chorus of the third act:

"Glory be to Aphrodite, the Queen of Cyprus! The whole world
acknowledges her power; the flowers bloom in her honor, and the birds
sing her praises----," then, O sad return to mundane matters, they
would fall to eating their bread, their olives and their cucumbers,
and would drink ambrosia--in the form of clear, cold water!

Soghomon, in the process of learning the part of Saint Thaddeus,
had become convinced that though he was not yet the Apostle of
Armenia, he should be some day. Already he beheld the Gregorian
Church revolutionized by his mighty words, and the people won by his
preaching. He scanned his lines; he labored to make his pronunciation
more impressive by dragging out the last syllables, and raised his
arms as if in the act of blessing a thousand heads bowed at his feet,
to the great amusement of his companions.

In the course of a Turkish lesson, in which Saint Thaddeus II had been
conspicuous for his stupidity, Professor Hairemian became exasperated,
and sent him to his seat.

"Go and sit down, Soghomon; you will stay in for an hour and learn
this lesson over again for to-morrow morning."

The culprit hung his head and murmured, just loud enough to be heard:
"Scorned by men, I will take refuge on the barren mountain tops;
the birds will provide me with sustenance, and my soul will sing acts
of thanks-giving."

The whole class broke out into a great shout of laughter, and the
professor, dumbfounded, asked:

"Come now! Are you making game of me, or have you really gone mad?"

"These words of the Saint, expressing my feelings, seemed to me to
be adapted to the situation."

"Upon my word," cried the exasperated professor, "I do believe this
play-acting has deprived you of the small portion of brains you
had left! Take care, or we shall have to send you to Asfourieh"
(the lunatic asylum near Beyrout, the only one in Asiatic Turkey).



The rehearsals proceeded very well, and at last the day of the first
performance had come and the great dining-hall had been transformed
into a theater. An hour before the rising of the curtain the room was
nearly filled with relatives and friends of the students; the first
three rows of seats reserved for the Americans and their families, were
the only ones unoccupied. None of these good people had ever attended
an entertainment like this. They talked and laughed, and called to
one another from one end of the hall to another, eating oranges and
cracking nuts. At a quarter before seven, the president and his wife,
Dr. and Mrs. Spencer, Miss Wylie and the other missionaries entered
the hall.

Presently the curtain rose before the astonished eyes of the
spectators. The stage was decorated with flowers and foliage plants,
and draped at the back with the Turkish and American colors.

The old king, Sanadroug, wearing a gold-paper crown on his white
head, is conversing with his prime minister. He confides to him his
anxiety about his daughter: the beautiful Santourt is no longer her
old self; she is grave and serious, she affects black garments, and
shuns the dances and games of her companions. The monarch's speech
is interrupted by the entrance of a slave, the bearer of mournful
tidings. Santourt, stirred up by the Apostle Thaddeus, has broken the
statue of Aphrodite. The messenger is interrupted by the sound of a
great tumult; the young girl is being led before the king by a company
of pagan priests. A murmur of admiration greets the virgin martyr;
with her long black tresses, her white robe, her eyes shining with the
inspiration of faith, she is ravishingly fair, and no one could have
had a suspicion that it was Garabed the Junior, under this disguise.

The second act is supposed to take place in Santourt's prison; the
decorations were not changed, but the audience was not disturbed by
that. The princess has to listen to the entreaties of her father,
and scarcely has she rejected these, when her lover presents himself
before her. Yervant falls on his knees, and weeping, entreats Santourt
to renounce her error. He pleads their love; but it is in the name
of that very love that Santourt remains deaf to all entreaties; she,
in her turn, seeks to win Yervant to the Christian faith. The hero
resists and leaves her in despair. Nothing can save Santourt now,
and she is condemned to death.

In the third act we see her going to the altar, accompanied by her
women, who have also become Christians. Fortified by Saint Thaddeus,
whom she has been able to see once more, she advances with firm step,
singing the praises of the true God. Her martyr's death reveals the
truth to Yervant, who becomes a Christian on the field of battle. Since
the death of his fiancée, life has no more charms for him, and he
resolves to anticipate death. The Persians advance in great numbers,
meeting the Armenians with furious resistance. Their young prince is
ever in the thick of the fray. In spite of his wounds, he fights like
a hero; his blood flows; he grows weak; a final blow overcomes him,
and he expires breathing the name of Santourt.

Archag put all his own patriotic feeling into his acting; the
constraint of the first few moments vanished, and the college and his
companions seemed far away. He was no longer Archag the Junior, but
Yervant the Armenian hero, and was suffering with him. The audience
hung on his lips, most of them sobbing like children; when the prince
fell dead, the hall was absolutely silent.

The Armenians were living over again that glorious past; they had
quite forgotten where they were. At length the president clapped
his hands, and at once a tumult of applause broke forth. The women
waved their handkerchiefs, the children cried, "Viva Yervant, Viva
Yervant!" and Archag bowed his thanks, with a heart full of gratitude,
for he realized that the enthusiasm was for Yervant, that glorious
hero of centuries long past, the embodiment of the strength and power
of the ancient Armenian people.

And now, Sanadroug, overwhelmed by the death of these two victims,
could not resign himself to live without his cherished daughter,
and plunged his poniard into his own heart. As he was taking leave
of his people in some magnificent lines, Sumpad, an Assyrian slave,
burst out laughing, thus creating some confusion on the stage, and
in the hall as well, but one of his friends dragged him off behind
the scenes, and no great harm resulted from the occurrence.

The curtain had fallen for the last time, but the audience still
kept their seats, calling vociferously for Santourt, Yervant and
Sanadroug. They went away only when the porter came to request it,
and for many a day afterward, they talked of nothing but the theatrical
entertainment at the college.

The boys gave four more performances of "Santourt," and won the same
success each time. The proceeds were gratifying, and it was with
legitimate pride that Archag and Garabed took to Dr. Mills the goodly
sum of one hundred and thirty Turkish pounds, for the poor of the city.



CHAPTER XVII

AT ALEPPO


In spite of the fact that Dr. Mills had sent away the leaders among
the fédai, the society still continued to exist, the only difference
being that its members exercised more caution than formerly. Archag
had been chosen president; he called no more meetings, for fear
of being discovered, but he had long conversations with Garabed,
Aram and Nejib about the problems of their country. The four boys
were always together. Nejib had now a great admiration for Archag,
and invited him to spend the Easter holidays at his home in Aleppo.

Nejib's father, Dr. Rossinian, was the leading physician of
Aleppo. While his numerous colleagues barely managed to secure a
living, he made money hand over fist. He lived in a magnificent
house, and kept an automobile, a carriage, and saddle horses. All
this luxury he owed to his wife, an Irish lady abounding in energy
and good spirits, who had been for several years head nurse at
the Aintab Hospital, at the time when Dr. Rossinian, fresh from
the University of Beyrout, was there as resident physician. The
Irish lady had fallen in love with the young man, and he had made
her an offer of marriage. When she became his wife, she gave him
all her savings, in order that he might continue his studies, and
went with him to Europe. After spending four years at German and
English universities, Dr. Rossinian established himself in Aleppo,
where by means of his skillful operations and remarkable cures,
he acquired an extensive practice among the wealthy classes of
the entire province. His wife did not let him rest on his laurels,
however; she spurred him on to further study, and it was due to her
persuasion that the doctor went to Europe every three or four years,
to keep abreast of his profession. Dr. Rossinian's love and admiration
for his wife were unbounded, and she adored him with all the ardor of
her early attachment. They had two children, Nejib, and a daughter,
Winifred, two years younger.

Archag had heard of the luxury of the Rossinians, and when he and Nejib
reached their journey's end, and were driving through the streets
of Aleppo, he wondered with a little uneasiness, how he would be
received. The carriage stopped in front of a large, handsome house,
and the boys were ushered into the hall by a negro servant. Then
they heard footsteps, and the doctor, with his wife and Winnie,
came forward to welcome the travelers. Nejib embraced his parents
and sister and presented Archag.

"Bouyourun, Baron Archag," said Mrs. Rossinian; "welcome to you!" and
she shook hands with him, English fashion.

Her very face, in its frame of soft gray hair, breathed kindness;
she was dressed in black silk, and Archag observed that her fingers
were loaded with rings. Winnie was a pretty young girl of fifteen,
with mischievous eyes; she made Archag feel extremely shy.

The dinner hour had been set forward in honor of the two
boys, who declared they were as hungry as wolves. When they
entered the dining-room they found only Winnie and her governess
there. Miss Pritchard was a long and lean individual, all angles
and asperities. She must have seen rather more than forty summers,
but nothing in the world could ever make her admit it. She was one of
those daughters of Albion who, though living in various parts of the
world, still retain their own habits and English peculiarities. Miss
Pritchard, for instance, would have thought herself forever disgraced
if she had appeared a single evening without dressing for dinner; no
matter if she happened to be traveling in Asia Minor, or sitting down
to a cup of tea with bread and butter, she would make no exception
to her rule. She always withdrew to her room an hour before the meal,
to emerge clad in a silk dress, with a bright ribbon in her hair. For
her, there was but one country in the world: England. In spite of
the comfort and luxury which she enjoyed, she was always lamenting
her "English home." At the bottom of her heart, however, she very
well knew that she was much better off at Aleppo than in England,
where she would have had to work hard to earn her living. It need
hardly be said that after living ten years in this country, she did
not know ten words of Turkish. She had never become accustomed to the
small discomforts of the Orient; a flea gave her a nervous shock, and
other insects threw her into a swoon. These ill-turns recurred at such
frequent intervals that nobody was alarmed by them any more. Some one
would give her eau de cologne to inhale, and after five or ten minutes
the poor lady would come to herself, saying: "It is too dreadful,
I must pack my trunks at once; so sorry to leave you all, dears,
but I can't stand it any longer."

Nobody took her at her word, however, and by the next day she had
forgotten all about it. The Rossinians overlooked her numerous
eccentricities, for she was a very good teacher, and devoted to
her pupil.

When Archag was presented to her, in accordance to all the rules
of good society, she held out two fingers with an indifferent air,
looked him over from head to foot, murmured a, "How do you do?" and
turned her back on him.

But the doctor and his wife quickly put Archag at his ease. They
had a deep feeling of gratitude toward him, for they knew that to
him they owed the life of their only son. Mrs. Rossinian asked him a
multitude of questions about his family, to which he replied without
embarrassment. Miss Pritchard asked him if it was very hot at Van,
and without waiting for his reply, declared that she could never get
used to the heat of Aleppo.

"I bear it, I bear it," said she plaintively, "but how I do miss our
dear London fogs."

Then she began to sing the praises of her native land. She was off
on her favorite hobby, and no one paid much attention to what she
said. She sat opposite Archag, who thus had a good opportunity to
study her singular coiffure, a sort of tower made up of braids of
hair, both natural and false, and adorned with puffs and rings and
curls. This structure was crowned with a large bow of ribbon, which
varied in color, according to the season; the dark shade, worn during
the day, gave place to rose-color, pale green or yellow for dinner;
on Sundays it was pure white, black in Holy Week, and blue at Christmas
and Easter, as a symbol of hope.

The lady, off at full tilt in praise of England, felt a little
uncomfortable with those two eyes fastened obstinately upon her,
and retaliated by staring back at Archag:

"Young man," said she, "why do you stare at me like that? Do you take
me for a show-window?"

And poor Archag was so disconcerted by this sally that he did not
open his mouth again during dinner.

The next morning Nejib began taking his friend about to see the sights
of Aleppo; the bazaar, the citadel, and the Dshami Zakarja (the
Mosque of Zacarias) where is still shown the so-called tomb of the
father of St. John Baptist. Aleppo, surnamed by the Arabs Esh-shehba
(the gray city) is one of the most ancient cities of the world, for
according to the Egyptian inscriptions it was already in existence
two thousand years before the time of Christ. The prophet Ezekiel
calls it Helbon (Chapter xxvii, 18). The Arabs gained possession in
the year 634 of our era, and gave it the name of "Haleb." Under their
sway the city grew and prospered; though more than once destroyed,
as it was by Tamerlane in the year 1400, each time it has risen from
its ashes. To-day it plays an important part in commercial life, for it
is from Aleppo that the caravans set out for Kurdistan and Mesopotamia.

I must admit that Archag took very little interest in the ruins of
the Arab tombs; he liked better to walk about the great city and
look at the show-windows of the great European shops, or to take a
ride in the automobile. Almost every evening he went to the railway
station to see the train from Beyrout come in. He felt a childish
delight in watching the powerful locomotive approach, puffing clouds
of smoke, slacken its speed, and then come to a stop close beside the
platform. He used to feel of the heavy wheels, examine the boiler, and
ask questions of the engineer. Nejib would finally have to take him
by the arm and drag him away by main force, or he would have stayed
in the station all night. With the exception of Miss Pritchard, who
continued to regard him as some sort of curious animal, every one was
very kind to him. Winnie treated him as if he were a big brother;
Archag told her stories from old Armenian legends, and the young
girl's happiest hours were those which she spent with the boys.



CHAPTER XVIII

ARCHAG IN SOCIETY


The Rossinians were giving a party in honor of Winnie's fifteenth
birthday, and for several days before the event, Nejib and his sister
endeavored to initiate Archag into the mysteries of the dance, but
their pupil did not make very good progress; he made fun of himself,
saying that he skipped with about as much grace as a young bear. He
got on well enough with the polka, the glide, or the lancers, but
as soon as the lad began to waltz, his head swam, his feet got all
mixed up, and he was obliged to stop.

"It's quite useless for you to try any more," said Miss Pritchard
amiably. "I would much rather teach a camel to dance."

So Archag took her at her word and gave up trying to waltz.

All the young people of Aleppo were invited to the Rossinian's
party. There were the daughters of the English consul, there were
pretty young girls of the Levant, loaded with jewels and gewgaws, and
there were dapper secretaries from the different consulates, whose only
serious purpose in life seemed to be dancing with young girls. Archag
felt embarrassed in the midst of all this fine society; he noticed that
his brown suit and blue tie attracted attention; the young men turned
to look at him, and the girls whispered to one another and shrugged
their shoulders. Nejib had offered to lend him a dinner-jacket, but
he was too proud to accept it, and now he was sorry. Miss Pritchard,
swathed in mauve silk, with a bunch of violets poised at the top of her
capillary edifice, looked him over disdainfully. Winnie, to be sure,
had said a few pleasant words to him, but she was too much occupied
with receiving her guests to give him much time. For a while he sat by
himself in a corner, looking over a book, for the sake of appearances;
then Nejib came looking for him, to announce supper.

"Ghel tchabouk (hurry up), I want to present you to Mademoiselle
Maréchal, for you have to take her in to supper."

Archag followed him, greeted the young lady with an awkward bow,
and offered her his arm. At the table he felt very much out of his
element. His companion, the daughter of a rich French merchant, took
no notice of him; she would reply dryly to the few remarks which the
boy addressed to her, and would then turn to join in the merriment
of those near her at the table.

The young people were lingering over dessert, when the enticing strains
of a polka were heard; they rose at once, and each of the young men
invited the girl whom he had taken in to supper to be his partner in
this first dance. The couples formed gradually; Archag had made up
his mind not to dance, but when he saw himself left almost alone with
Mademoiselle Maréchal, who was looking at him in some embarrassment,
he summoned all his courage, and asked her to be his partner. And the
polka was so easy, he need not be afraid of making a blunder. All went
well at first, and Archag began to congratulate himself on getting
out of the difficulty so well. But, alas, he had not reckoned with
the parquet floors to which he was not accustomed. He slipped, and
fell full length, dragging his partner down with him. Mademoiselle
Maréchal got up in a rage, hearing the ill-suppressed laughter of the
other dancers. Archag was crimson with shame, as he stammered out a
few words of apology, but the young beauty cut him short:

"Ah, that's a little too much! When one doesn't know how to dance,
one at least refrains from making himself ridiculous!"

Archag longed for the earth to open and swallow him; but that being
impossible, he went off to hide himself behind a group of foliage
plants. The heat was suffocating and his head throbbed; he thought
of his own relatives, so simple in their ways, and felt how out of
place he was in this ball-room.

His reverie was interrupted by the sound of approaching voices. He
would have liked to slip away unperceived, but it was now too late;
the newcomers were already seated on a divan, and Archag, hidden
behind his screen of foliage, heard everything they said.

One of the young men was congratulating Winnie on the success of her
party, and the others added their praises. This sort of conversation
was not interesting to our friend, and his thoughts were far away
again, when he was startled by hearing his own name spoken.

"What has become of your Baron Archag?" said some one.

"He has probably gone to hide his diminished head in the cellar, or
perhaps he is refreshing himself at the sideboard," cried an Austrian.

"He's a regular Danube peasant" (Archag recognized the voice of another
Armenian boy), "and I can't understand Nejib's inviting him here. Did
you hear what a noise he made when he was drinking? Just like a dog,
licking his dish."

"Aren't you ashamed?" cried Winnie. "If Nejib were here he would
soon teach you how to behave. Do you mean to say you have forgotten
that this Danube peasant, as you call him, saved Nejib's life? He is
a fine boy, and my father and mother love him dearly. When I look
at him I can't help thinking that but for him I shouldn't have my
brother any more, and it's easy enough to forget his small defects
in the way of training."

"You are right," said Mademoiselle Maréchal, "but he ought not to
have asked me to dance when he didn't know how, himself."

"You know," retorted the Armenian boy, "that Monsieur is as proud
as a pasha; he thinks he knows it all, and when he goes back to Van
he will probably go around boasting about what a success he was in
society. Since Nejib is under obligations to him, he might better
have given him some sort of present; the poor lad feels entirely out
of place here, and is sighing for his goats and their stable."

"That isn't true!" cried Winnie again. "Baron Archag is modest and
shy, but he is very happy here. Only yesterday he was thanking mamma
in such a touching way, it brought tears to my eyes."

"Since he pleases you so much, I'm sorry he didn't dance with you,"
replied Mademoiselle Maréchal, pursing her lips.

"He must have had nerve to ask you. No doubt if he could have executed
the sword dance or some other wild man's antics, he would have done
himself proud; but he was a big fool to try the polka, a dance of
civilized people!"

Archag had restrained himself until now: but this last insult of the
other Armenian boy was too much for him, and brushing aside the foliage
which had hidden him, he came forward to face his adversary. Only his
black eyes, darker than usual, and his quivering nostrils, betrayed
his emotion.

"I believe you are right," said he. "I am no good at these complicated
European dances; luckily I can still do the sword dance that you
scorn so, as our heroes used to dance it before engaging in battle. I
am going to dance it for you, but I shall not invite Mademoiselle
Maréchal to take part in it."

He went out of the room, and soon returned, bringing a sword and
a shield. Before the guests had recovered from their surprise, the
orchestra was playing a sad and tender melody, and Archag had begun to
dance, brandishing his shield and sword above his head. As the music
grew louder and more wild, the movements of the dancer increased
in rapidity; now he darted forward, and stood poised with uplifted
sword, to repulse an imaginary enemy; again he spun around like a
top, whirling his sword rapidly, and beating upon his shield. Then
the music gradually grew soft again, Archag's intensity relaxed,
and at last he sank exhausted on a seat.

The young people were roused to enthusiasm: they appreciated the beauty
of this dance, and felt its superiority to the modern ball-room dances,
so conventional and unpoetic. They all gathered eagerly around Archag;
even Mademoiselle Maréchal congratulated him, and invited him to
call, on her reception day. Nejib and Winnie were delighted with their
friend's success. As for the other Armenian boy, he remained forgotten
in a corner, quite eclipsed, and no one noticed when he went away.



CHAPTER XIX

LONG LIVE THE CONSTITUTION!


Archag's visit to Aleppo soon seemed like a beautiful dream, vanished
all too quickly; he was continually thinking about the good doctor,
and his wife who had been a second mother to him, and of charming
Winnie. He now felt like an older brother to Nejib, for Mrs. Rossinian
had made him promise to watch over her son, and shield him from the
bad influence of certain other boys.

The school work went badly that year, for there had been serious
disturbances and outbreaks in the vast Ottoman Empire. Every one
could feel a storm brewing, and the Armenians were fearful of fresh
massacres. The Turks themselves declared that their government was
corrupt, and that nothing short of a revolution could regenerate their
wretched country. Men of culture and education, imbued with the new
ideas, had formed a secret society called "Union and Progress." They
called themselves the "Young Turks," for their recruits came chiefly
from among the young men of the country. Their object was the abolition
of despotism and of the reign of terror set up by Abdul Hamid, and
they demanded a Constitution and equality of rights for all Ottomans.

The professors of the college took a lively interest in these
questions. All their sympathy, all their devotion went out to the Young
Turks. But this unrest and excitement gave President Mills reason to
fear for the future of the college; the fédai were now meeting openly,
with the approval of the masters; never had the examination papers
been so poor, for the boys, instead of working at their lessons,
were giving their whole attention to politics.

The morning for announcing the promotions had come, and the boys were
just finishing their breakfast when Mihran hodja came rushing into
the dining-room. He was too excited to speak at first, but after a
little he managed to utter the words:

"The young Turks have risen at Constantinople! Abdul Hamid is obliged
to yield to superior force, and grants us the Constitution. Long live
the padishah!" (sultan)

"Iashasoun padishah! Iashasoun padishah!" repeated the boys in chorus.

The fédai broke out with their war song:


           "Fight on, ye children, bravely, ever bravely,
            Fearless before the enemy we stand."


All the boys, together with Badvili Melikian and Mihran hodja,
joined the fédai in this song. They were free! The reality was more
beautiful than their boldest dreams had pictured it. God had answered
the prayers of the Armenians!

Archag, Aram, Garabed and Nejib started off at once for town. Over
every house floated the red flag with the white crescent; cannon shots
were fired from the old Cathedral, and an extraordinary excitement
prevailed in the streets. The people were shouting, singing and
weeping for joy; Mullahs [29] and Gregorian priests were embracing
one another. The most ferocious of the Mussulmans had forgotten their
old hatred of Christian infidels: to-day all were brothers.

"In our empire," said a vartabed (Gregorian priest) "there will no
longer be Turks, Greeks, Albanians, Armenians, Syrians and Arabs. No,
there will be only Ottomans, now!"

Two dervishes (Mussulman monks), delirious with joy, bore the priest
off in triumph. The Turkish women had taken off their veils, and waved
them as they sang. All Turkey was quivering with the same generous
emotion. The words "Equality" and "Fraternity" intoxicated the men
like strong wine. Alas; we are to see how bitter was the awakening
and how great the disillusionment!

"It seems too good to be true," said Garabed.

"Yes," said Archag, "for years the Armenians have been groaning and
dying under the yoke of the Mussulman, and now the deliverance has
come suddenly, when nobody was expecting it any more. No bloodshed,
as in the French Revolution; no frenzied demagogues, ready to become
tyrants themselves! We have forgotten Abdul's crimes; now we have
only to remember the favor he is granting us."

"No more teskerehs (passports)," said Aram. "No more forbidden
books. We shall be able to go to Europe and study, and to travel
freely. Life is decidedly good!"

In the evening, the students, led by the professors, had a torchlight
procession, and went all about through the city streets. They stopped
in front of the serail (palace) where they played the "Hamidieh March,"
[30] and the Kaimakan thanked them from his balcony, and had sherbet
served to them.

In the midst of the general rejoicing, our friends were saddened by the
thought of the approaching departure of Monsieur Bernier. Their French
master, having spent two years at Aintab, now desired to travel and
see other countries. He had accepted a position at Constantinople as
tutor to a Turkish prince, and his life in the Ottoman capital promised
to be full of interest. At the same time, he was very sorry to leave
his dear Central Turkey College, where he had passed such happy days.

He was to go by araba to Alexandretta, and was planning to go from
that place to Palestine. At five o'clock in the morning a servant
came to tell him that the carriage was ready. He had taken leave of
his American friends the evening before, but when he went down to
the courtyard, to his surprise he found nearly all the boys waiting
to bid him a last good-morning. There were tears in many eyes as
they crowded around him for one more grasp of the hand. "A good
journey!" they cried: "God bless you!"

Archag and Garabed got into the carriage to go with him as far as the
first change of horses; then they, too, had to part with Monsieur
Bernier. He made them promise to write often, and if possible, to
visit him in Switzerland. For a long time he followed them with his
eyes, leaning out of the araba; and when they were lost to sight,
he sat back with a sigh, for he counted the two years at Aintab among
the happiest of his life.

Next day began the general disbanding of the students. They were
all getting impatient to see their relatives again, and to tell them
all about the joys and sorrows of their college life. Aram went to
Diarbekir for his vacation this year, so Archag went to Van alone,
and his holidays passed very quietly. He did some studying with his
brother-in-law, for he had to begin working for his diploma. He
dreamed of pretty Winnie more than might appear to be necessary;
if we could have followed him to his room in the evening, we should
frequently have caught him scribbling away with ardor, composing
inflammatory verses in which he lauded the "fair tresses and violet
eyes" of his girl-friend. He never spoke of her, and his parents did
not even know of her existence, but he carried in his coat-pocket a
little snap-shot of Winnie on her horse, which he had purloined from
Nejib with the greatest difficulty.

It was without much regret that he saw the time draw near for his
journey back to Aintab. His brother was going with him this time,
for Levon was now fifteen, and ready to enter the Freshman class.

"You're in luck," said Archag. "I didn't have anybody to pilot me
around when I first went to Aintab."

"Pshaw!" said Levon, shrugging his shoulders. "I can get on all right
by myself, you won't need to bother about me."

He was a very independent boy, and was delighted with the idea of
going to college. However, when his old mother put her arms around
him and cried, and his father squeezed his hand very hard, to hide
his feelings, and the time had come when he must say good-by to the
careless life of childhood, his bravado vanished, and he no longer
tried to hide the tears that filled his eyes.



Time passes swiftly: our friends are now Seniors, in their last year
at college. They have changed very little during the last two years;
they have grown tall, and seem more serious, that is all. They have
the good reputation of the college at heart, and their importance is
recognized, for Dr. Mills has entrusted to them the responsibility
of seeing that the boys of the other classes obey the rules. At
recreation-hour, instead of shouting and playing and tumbling about
like young puppies, they walk up and down in small groups, discussing
every subject that comes into their heads, from the dinner which was
not to their taste, to deep problems of ethics and philosophy. Aram
alone is just the same, loving a joke as well as ever, and never done
chaffing his classmates about their solemn airs and judicial scowls.

The Rossinians spent the summer in Anti-Taurus, and stayed for a
fortnight at Aintab on their way back to Aleppo. Winnie was sun-burned
and brown as a little Arab. Miss Pritchard was glad to be returning
to Aleppo, preferring the comforts of home to the beauties of nature.

Nejib and his friends dined with the Rossinians every evening, and
Archag was in the seventh heaven on these occasions; his greatest
happiness was to be near Winnie and look at her, and it was not very
long before Aram observed this dumb adoration, and teased him well
for it.

One evening Winnie and our friends were talking about Armenia, and
Archag told the story of Rupen, and of the atrocities committed at
Moosh and Sassoun.

"But now," said he joyously, "that bad dream is over, and we have
forgotten our hereditary hatred."

Winnie listened in silence; her heart beat faster whenever Archag
confided to her his plans and his desire to study medicine and settle
down at Bitlis, that desolate town where there was not a single doctor,
and where the people, mown down by epidemics, were dying like flies,
for want of intelligent care. The lad had a high conception of his
duty toward his neighbor, and Winnie thought him the best person she
had ever known.



CHAPTER XX

THE VALLEY OF THE SHADOW OF DEATH


But, alas! the Constitution did not bring the expected changes. The
revolutionary movement had been superficial and had won only the
liberal youth and university students. After the first months of
intoxicating joy, the old hatred of the Mussulman for the infidel
awoke again, and the disheartened Christians found only enemies
where they had looked for brothers. The government did not keep any
of its promises; the best positions were held by inefficient men,
who obtained them at a high price; the "bakshish" (bribe) system
prevailed everywhere, as before. Employees in subordinate positions
remained unpaid; the roads and railways which the Young Turks had
proposed to build, as well as the schools which they had planned to
establish, existed only on paper.

The Christians, seeing the old hatred thus springing up afresh from
its ashes, began to tremble for their life. Alas! the reality was to
exceed their worst fears.

A religious Conference of Christians from all parts of Asia Minor
was to be held at Adana during Holy Week, and Jousif hodja and his
wife stopped at Aintab on their way to this gathering, to the great
delight of Archag and Levon. The journey from Van had been a hard one
for Nizam; she was hoping that a few days' rest would set her right,
but when the time came to resume the journey, she was still so weak
that Dr. Spencer advised her to wait at Aintab until her husband
should return.

The Aintablés (residents of Aintab) responded eagerly to the
invitation from their brethren of Adana, and a hundred and twenty
of them undertook the journey. With them went the two Americans,
Dr. Mills and Dr. Spencer, Professor Pagratian and Professor
Piralian, the pastors and elders of the three Protestant Churches,
and a few of the college students; among these were Boghos Poladian,
whose parents lived at Adana, and Archag, who was allowed to go with
his brother-in-law. They all started out together, a happy company,
waving their handkerchiefs, and gayly calling "Au revoir" to their
friends and acquaintances. Little did the ill-fated travelers suspect
that this was the last time they should ever see their friends.



They had good horses and reached Adana in five days. Archag and his
brother-in-law accepted the hospitality offered by Boghos' father,
who was Secretary of the American Mission at Adana. He lived in a
small house beside the hospital; both courtyards were entered by the
same gate.

The Christians were conscious of a great deal of stir and excitement
among the Mussulmans, but they were not alarmed by it. The first
meeting of the Conference was held and Professor Pagratian preached a
sermon on the immortality of the soul. His words made a deep impression
on those who heard him.

"Our friend," said Professor Piralian later, "was filled with the
Spirit of God; we had never heard him speak like that, and I am
convinced that he had a presentiment that his death was near."

On their return to the house, the Poladians and their guests knelt to
pray together, and then retired for the night. Jousif hodja, Archag
and Boghos shared one room. About two o'clock in the morning Archag
was awakened by fearful cries. The room was bright with the glare
of flames, and he ran to the window, and saw the Mission school on
fire. There were men running through the streets, shouting: "Death,
death to the Christians! Long live Allah!"

Archag, in mortal terror, woke his companions and, they dressed
hastily, hoping to be able to take refuge in the American hospital,
but even now they heard the sound of footsteps on the stairs, and
the next moment a band of Kurds burst into the room. In a flash the
three young men were dragged into the courtyard, where there were
perhaps a hundred other Christians, among others the Poladian family
and Professor Pagratian. The Kurds heaped insults upon them and struck
them in the face; then they called upon the men to become Mussulmans,
on pain of death. A few of the younger men, mad with fright, yielded,
and twisted the white turban around their heads, but the others
refused with firmness and decision.

"Fire!" commanded the chief of the Kurds. His men obeyed, and many
of the Armenians fell. Professor Pagratian and Jousif hodja were
struck in the heart, and killed instantly. Boghos was only slightly
wounded. A Kurd went up to him and commanded him to abjure his faith.

"No," he replied in a clear tone, "I will not deny my Saviour; kill
me, if you will. I will die a Christian."

The savage, in his fury, dispatched him with one blow of his axe. Noble
boy! He was faithful unto death, and now he wears the martyr's crown.

The brigands, now stirred up by the sight of blood, proceeded to
commit the most unheard-of atrocities. They respected neither age nor
sex; they tore babies from their mothers' arms, and dashed out their
brains against a wall; they tied children together, and after pouring
petroleum on them, set them on fire. As the poor little creatures
writhed in agony, their tormentors uttered yells of delight.

"See the monkeys of the Constitution dancing the polka!" cried one.

After a complete massacre and pillage, they left the courtyard,
to give themselves over to fresh deeds of carnage elsewhere.

Archag had been wounded in the shoulder, and had fainted from pain; his
enemies therefore thought him dead. When he recovered consciousness,
the sun was shining full upon the scene of woe. Carefully making his
way among the bodies of the dead, he managed to drag himself to the
gate of the hospital, where he was helped in by a nurse. A violent
fever set in, and for a long time his life was in danger.

For three days, the Kurds kept up their hideous work; the soldiers
sent by the government to establish order, joined the murderers,
and committed crimes so abominable that the pen refuses to record
them. The massacres extended throughout the province; about thirty
thousand Armenians were killed, and the vali (provincial governor),
with his customary indifference, let it be done.

Dr. Spencer was a victim to his devotion; a bullet struck him full
in the chest, while he was making strenuous efforts to check the
fire at the Mission school. He fell at his post, a true soldier of
Jesus Christ.

Several days passed before the news of the doctor's death reached
Aintab. As Mrs. Spencer was sitting on the veranda at the Normal
School one day, she saw Dr. Mills coming toward the house. But where
was her husband? The poor lady's heart was torn with an agony of fear.

"Not here, not here? Where can he be, then?"

When Dr. Mills came in he grasped her hands, and said simply:

"Your husband is with the Lord: you may be proud to be the widow of
a martyr, and of one so brave and faithful. Our friends Rodgers [31]
and Pagratian have gone with him."

At first Mrs. Spencer was stunned by the blow. She withdrew to her room
and fell on her knees, begging God for strength to accept His will. But
keenly as she felt her own grief, she thought of many others who had
been afflicted as severely as she, and were in need of her help.

When she had become quieter, she went to the Pagratians' home. There
she found the professor's widow and children, and poor Nizam,
prostrated by the dreadful tidings; and their grief was pitiful to
see. When Mrs. Spencer appeared, her face transfigured by suffering,
they all felt as if an angel of the Lord had come down among them. They
prayed together for a long time, and rose from their knees almost
happy in their thought that their beloved ones were with Jesus.

Archag had to stay at the Adana hospital three weeks before he was
able to return to Aintab. Nejib, Aram and Garabed were told when he
was expected, and went out to meet him.

"Poor Archag!" said Nejib. "What a sad way to come back! He went off
so gayly."

"Yes," said Garabed. "I can hear him now talking with Boghos about
a trip to Tarsus which they were planning to take when they left
Adana. We must try to comfort him, for Dr. Mills told me he was
very sad."

But the reality exceeded their expectation, and they could hardly
repress a cry of surprise when they saw Archag. His hair had turned
entirely gray; there were dark circles around his eyes, and his mouth
was disfigured by a badly-closed wound. His friends welcomed him with
a warm grasp of the hand.

"We are so happy to see you again, dear Archag," said Garabed. "You
don't know what anguish we have suffered. For several days we thought
you must be dead, because the report had gone about that all the
Aintablés had been massacred."

"It seems to me like coming back from the abode of the dead, it was
so frightful, and the scenes of bloodshed are before my eyes all the
time. I can't help thinking about it by day, and every night I dream
of it, and am perfectly exhausted when I wake up."

The poor lad was trembling as he spoke, and had to wipe the
perspiration from his brow. Aram patted him on the shoulder.

"Courage, old man! Think of your parents, and of your sister who has
lost everything; you will have to be the one to console her."

Archag made no reply, and his friends, feeling constrained by his
silence, stopped talking, too. When the carriage entered the college
courtyard, it was immediately surrounded by the students, all waiting
for the traveler and eager to show their sympathy. But Archag left
them very soon, and went to the Pagratians' cottage. A woman dressed
in black was sitting by the door, and he ran to her and threw himself
into her arms, sobbing. Brother and sister wept together long, and
after their first grief was spent, Nizam took Archag into the house,
where he told the story of that terrible night.

"When our tormentors were about to fire," said he, "we began to sing
our favorite hymn:


               'A mighty fortress is the Lord,
                A refuge in the storm.'


"Our calmness in the face of death seemed to terrify those men,
and the chief, furious at their hesitation, gave the order again:
'Fire! Fire!' At last they fired. Even then I could hear our dear
Professor Pagratian saying, 'Jesus, Jesus, we are coming to Thee!' Then
I fainted away."

The Pagratian children were sobbing: "Papa, papa, what shall we do
without you?"

"What miracle prevented your being killed like the others?" asked
Nizam.

"It really was a miracle. My swoon only lasted a few minutes, and when
I came to myself, the Kurds were killing the women and children. I
had strength enough to drag myself a little way and hide behind a
pile of wood, then the sights all around were so terrible that I
fainted again. After a long time I regained consciousness; it was
broad daylight, and the courtyard was deserted. You know already how
they took me in at the American hospital, and took care of me till
I was healed."



CHAPTER XXI

THE MARTYRDOM OF THE ARMENIANS


The college year closed in sadness. There was a new English
teacher in the place of Professor Piralian, who had been seriously
wounded at Adana and, for the time being, was unable to conduct his
classes. Professor Pagratian's successor, an Armenian of Aintab,
was still in America, not to return before the autumn term; Dr. Mills
took his work in the meantime.

Archag could not forget the painful events in which he had
participated; he was no longer his old self, but always under a
cloud. He avoided the companionship of the students and spent his
spare time with his sister. Nizam was still with the Pagratians,
waiting until the college examinations were over, so that she might
have her brothers' escort on the journey home.

Archag's sadness was due not only to the death of his brother-in-law
and of the other Armenians; no, there was a deeper reason. His faith
in God had been shaken, as well as his confidence in human nature.

"Is it possible," he asked himself, "that a God of kindness, a Father
who loves His children tenderly, can permit such horrors?"

"No," whispered the tempter in his ear, "the God whom you adore is
hard and inflexible; in His sight men are no more than grains of sand,
and He is quite indifferent to our fate."

The lad was greatly depressed by these thoughts, and felt a growing
distaste for life. Nizam and Garabed, to whom he confided his doubts,
could not succeed in consoling him.

"We must accept the will of God," his sister would say, "death ought
not to be a terror, but a joy, for it marks the beginning of our
eternal life. In Paradise there will be no more tears, no more sorrow
nor parting."

But these words did not convince him, and Nizam's sadness increased
as she marked this change in her brother.

One evening, as he was returning from a solitary walk, he met
Mrs. Spencer. He would have passed on, but she stopped him:

"Oh, Archag! Don't be in such a hurry; let us have a little chat. Why
aren't you with your friends, instead of wandering about the country
like a lost soul?"

"I prefer to be alone; my sadness is oppressive to my friends."

"So instead of exercising a little self-control, you go on brooding
over your sorrow."

"I can't forget what has happened."

"Of course not. I quite understand that, but there is something else
troubling you; I have noticed it for a long time. Won't you talk
to me as you would to your mother, and tell me what it is that is
hurting you so much?"

Archag was won by the motherly tone.

"The fact is, Mrs. Spencer, I am consumed by doubt; God seems to me
so cruel, I can't believe in His goodness."

Mrs. Spencer became grave. "Don't you remember those words of the
Bible, 'Whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth,' and 'His ways are not
as our ways'?"

"Yes; but those horrible massacres, why did He permit them? Thousands
of Armenians have perished. Look at the widows! Look at the
orphans! Look at the misery!"

"Why did He permit it? Because he thought this trial necessary to our
faith. Besides, did He not foretell trials and tribulations? Think of
the first Christians, submitting to torture as a means of glorifying
God, seeking death that they might draw near to Jesus."

"But what good can come of such atrocities?"

"Archag, Archag, is it for us to put such questions? I am not blaming
you, for when President Mills told me of the death of my dear husband,
I reeled under the terrible blow, and I too murmured, 'Why, O Lord,
why? He was working here so earnestly for the advancement of Thy
Kingdom; why hast Thou taken him?' But the Lord took pity on my
weakness, and showed me His reasons. You know Nersès, the son of
Badvili Ballosian? His parents used to be broken-hearted over his
frivolity and misconduct. But the martyrdom of his father affected
him so deeply that he has repented of his ways, and given his heart
to Jesus.

"Yesterday I was present at a prayer-meeting in town. Both men
and women were filled with the Spirit of God; never have I heard
such prayers; the world and their sufferings were quite forgotten,
and all those radiant faces plainly declared that they had found
the Saviour. The memory of Professor Pagratian and Dr. Spencer is
alive in their souls, and these lives of self-denial, crowned by
martyrdom, will continue to be an example for us all. Believe me,
Archag, the massacres have been a baptism of blood for the Armenians,
and have taught your people to understand themselves better. Look
at the Church: it was never stronger than at the time of the great
persecutions. If the Armenians had known nothing but prosperity
and comfort, they would not be what they are to-day; the pernicious
influence of Mohammedanism would have had its effect on their hearts
and weakened their courage. The Armenian nation would have forgotten
its glorious past and denied the religion of its fathers."

As she spoke the light was kindled in Archag's soul, and he realized
his obduracy and want of faith. Of course he would never forget that
night of terror, but now he had learned to accept it as the Will
of God.

It was growing dark when he got back to the college, but his friends
were struck by the change that had been wrought in him, and were
overjoyed to have their old Archag back again.

He regained his bright faith in the Divine Goodness, and took pleasure
in the wonderful beauty of Nature. Sometimes a shade of melancholy
would cloud his face; then he seemed to hear the cries of the children
and to see again their mutilated bodies; but the clouds were soon
dissipated. He applied himself diligently to study, and had the good
fortune to stand second in the roll of graduates. All the Seniors
passed their final examinations, and it was with real regret that
they left their dear college, to enter on a new phase of life.



Ten years have passed since our friends left the College of Aintab,
and we shall give a short account of their experiences. Alas! the
most terrible of catastrophes has just befallen the Armenian people;
one half of them have been massacred by the Turks, deliberately and in
cold blood; the Euphrates and the Tigris have been choked with dead
bodies, and the victims' bones have been collected in heaps on the
desert. Several of the characters of this tale met their deaths during
this persecution. Boghos Effendi, his wife and Levon are no more;
both Garabed, who was working in his uncle's mercantile establishment
at Sivas, and Soghomon, who since 1912 had been a pastor at Aintab,
suffered martyrdom. Some of our other young people have been more
fortunate; Aram, after receiving a degree in chemistry from Harvard
University, was appointed to a professorship in a college in the far
west. He is the same old Aram, and his pupils love him for his good
spirits and for taking an interest in their affairs. Dikran is in New
York; Nejib studied surgery in London and Vienna, and then returned
to Aleppo as his father's assistant. Archag, too, studied medicine;
he took his degree at Geneva, and retains a grateful memory of the
hospitality of the Swiss country. He refused an advantageous offer
made to him from the University of Beyrout, that he might establish
himself at Bitlis. For his duty seems to him plain: he must help
his people in their wretchedness, physical and moral. Four years ago
Winnie became his wife; she is an ideal companion, sharing his cares,
and interested in all his work. A pretty little boy, another little
Levon, has been for three years the great joy of his parents.

At the beginning of the Great War, Nejib and Archag were mobilized as
doctors. Turkey being in urgent need of physicians, these were spared
in the general massacre, as by a miracle, so that Dr. Rossinian
is able to continue his practice at Aleppo. He met with a great
bereavement in the death of his wife, five years ago, but Winnie and
her child have come to stay with him. The last news from their dear
ones is good: Nejib, taken prisoner by the English, had an excellent
position at Jerusalem, while Archag was still caring for the wounded
on the Caucasian front. The young wife keeps up bravely: her faith
is strong, and she knows that the Lord is able to give her husband
back to her, if it is His will. Nizam has married again; this time to
Professor Piralian, who is teaching at Robert College. Being under
American protection, they have escaped death, but have been without
news of their friends for four years. Mrs. Mills is in America, but
the president remained valiantly at his post. He gives his services
without stint; he has taken in one hundred orphans, and his heroic
conduct has won the gratitude of all Armenians. After the massacre of
masters as well as pupils, the college was obliged to close its doors,
but with the hope of re-opening them after the war. Its work, however,
will not be lost, for it has made upright and honorable men of the
boys entrusted to it, and Christians in the real sense of the word.



And now, after all these hours together, my dear readers, we must
part. If the story of Archag and his friends has inspired you with
an affection for a people so cruelly tried, and a tenderness for the
widows and orphans so unjustly robbed of their loved ones, our object
has been attained.



NOTES


[1] During the fifth century, A. D., the Persians, then dominating
Armenia, were determined to crush out Christianity in the land,
and to compel the people to become Zoroastrians or fire-worshipers,
like themselves. But the Armenians withstood this, ready to die rather
than deny their faith. Led by the valiant Prince Vartan, they fought
and made a brave resistance against an enemy greatly superior in
numbers. They were vanquished, and Vartan, their commander-in-chief,
fell, with many of his followers, at the Battle of Avarair.

[2] Pilaaf, or pillau, a favorite dish of Oriental people, consists
of rice boiled with mutton-fat; it is usually highly spiced, and
often contains raisins or almonds.

[3] Boghos Effendi: Mr. Paul. Family names are seldom used by
Armenians.

[4] Orientals always take off their shoes before entering a house.

[5] Badgi: Sister, the title commonly given to women.

[6] Bedros: Peter; Krikor: Gregory; Gulenia: Rose.

[7] In some parts of Armenia, the meal is served in the middle of
the floor; the food is placed on a round tray of wood or copper,
about three feet in diameter, and standing about six inches from
the floor. All the food is in one dish, from which each person helps
himself; the thin, soft bread can be twisted into a sort of spoon,
and used to convey liquid food to the mouth, gradually disappearing
with the food. There are thus no dishes to be washed. It is customary
to wash the hands before and after a meal.

[8] The patron Saint of Armenia. He lived in the third century,
and was the restorer of the Church in Armenia, suffering hardship
and persecution for many years. The Armenian Church is very ancient,
Christianity having been brought to the people in Apostolic times.

[9] Ararat, the famous mountain, where Noah's Ark rested, is situated
near the frontiers of Russia, Persia, and Turkey. It is the highest
mountain of Western Asia, and its wonderful beauty and grandeur are
praised by all travelers.

[10] The Catholicos, or Patriarch, of Echmiadzin, is the Primate of
the Armenian Church, and the successor of St. Gregory the Illuminator.

[11] Mangal, a receptacle in which charcoal is burned; this is the
only means of heating in some parts of Asia Minor.

[12] Baklava: a sweet and very light paste made with honey.

[13] Lokum: Turkish paste.

[14] Ripsimeh: a noble and beautiful woman who lived at Rome, in
the time of Diocletian. Having taken a religious vow, she refused to
become the wife of the Emperor, and fled to Armenia. Here the king,
Tiridates, wished to marry her, and furious at her refusal, had her
put to death. The king was subsequently baptized and became a champion
of Christianity in Armenia.

[15] The young bride is confined to her home for nine months, during
which time she may not see her parents or friends.

[16] In Asia Minor every one has to go to the post-office to get his
own mail. Before the Constitution, letters were more often lost than
received at their destination.

[17] Armenians of Aintab and throughout Cilicia speak Turkish; many
do not even know Armenian.

[18] Baron: Mr. or Sir. The author has often been amused by the
ceremonious politeness of Oriental school-boys.

[19] Stan, is Turkish for "Country," so Aram, in joking about America
calls it "Yankee-stan."

[20] Abou saboun, the "soap-father," the name given to an attendant
at the hamam, whose duty it is to soap the frequenters of the bath.

[21] Andranick, a popular hero of song and story, and a revolutionary
leader in Armenia for the past thirty years. During the Great War,
he organized Armenian troops and led them against the Turks. Knowing
the topography of the country so well, his troops were always in the
advance parties of the Russians with whom they were fighting. Andranick
was commissioned Major-General by the Russians and was six times
decorated by them for gallantry. He rescued and cared for thousands
of Armenian refugees, who clung to his army for months for protection;
though they impeded his progress, he could not forsake them. His career
has been one of remarkable romance and adventure. At the present time,
January, 1920, it is said that he is the only person on whose head
the Turks have set a price.

It is interesting to know that the hero of Archag and Aram is a real
person of flesh and blood, and has recently been here in the United
States. He came as a member of the Armenian Military Mission to
plead with the American Government for help for stricken Armenia,
asking for military, financial and economic assistance, that his
people might be enabled to help themselves in the future.

An article about Andranick, with a photograph, appeared in the New
York Evening Post, November 29, 1919.

[22] Raffi: a celebrated writer of romance, born in Russian Armenia,
in 1835. "Djelaleddin" is his chief work.

[23] Botsaris: a hero of the Greek struggle for independence.

[24] Each girdle is from one to two meters long.

[25] Baronian: a satirical writer, born at Adrianople, in 1840.

[26] Tamerlane: a Mongol chief.

[27] Gulenia: little rose.

[28] Dolma: minced meat wrapped in a vine-leaf.

[29] Mullah: a Mussulman priest.

[30] Hamidieh March: a national march composed in honor of Sultan
Hamid.

[31] Mr. Rodgers, an American missionary killed at Adana in the
massacre of 1908.





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