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Title: Ravished Armenia - The Story of Aurora Mardiganian
Author: Gates, H. L.
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.

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Transcriber’s Note: Suspected printer errors have been corrected.
There are variations in the spelling of a number of names that have
been transliterated from the Armenian, and these have not been changed.



RAVISHED ARMENIA

[Illustration: THE LONG LINE THAT SWIFTLY GREW SHORTER

One of the most striking photographs of the deportations that have come
out of Armenia. Here is shown a column of Christians on the path across
the great plains of the Mamuret-ul-Aziz. The zaptiehs are shown walking
along at one side.]



                           RAVISHED ARMENIA

                             THE STORY OF
                          AURORA MARDIGANIAN

                 THE CHRISTIAN GIRL WHO LIVED THROUGH
                          THE GREAT MASSACRES

                     _INTERPRETED BY H. L. GATES_

                          WITH A FOREWORD BY
                               NORA WALN

               _AND FOUR ILLUSTRATIONS FROM PHOTOGRAPHS_

                          [Illustration: SAVE
                                A LIFE

                        ARMENIAN SYRIAN RELIEF]

                               NEW YORK
                         KINGFIELD PRESS, INC.

                          Copyright, 1918, by
                         KINGFIELD PRESS, INC.
                               New York



MY DEDICATION


To each mother and father, in this beautiful land of the United States,
who has taught a daughter to believe in God, I dedicate my book. I saw
my own mother’s body, its life ebbed out, flung onto the desert because
she had taught me that Jesus Christ was my Saviour. I saw my father die
in pain because he said to me, his little girl, “Trust in the Lord; His
will be done.” I saw thousands upon thousands of beloved daughters of
gentle mothers die under the whip, or the knife, or from the torture of
hunger and thirst, or carried away into slavery because they would not
renounce the glorious crown of their Christianity. God saved me that I
might bring to America a message from those of my people who are left,
and every father and mother will understand that what I tell in these
pages is told with love and thankfulness to Him for my escape.

AURORA MARDIGANIAN.

The Latham, New York City, December, 1918.



                             THIS STORY OF
                          AURORA MARDIGANIAN

           which is the most amazing narrative ever written
                          has been reproduced

                    for the American Committee for
                    Armenian and Syrian Relief in a

                       TREMENDOUS MOTION PICTURE
                               SPECTACLE

                          “RAVISHED ARMENIA”

                 Through which runs the thrilling yet
                        tender romance of this

                      CHRISTIAN GIRL WHO SURVIVED
                          THE GREAT MASSACRES

            Undoubtedly it is one of the greatest and most
         elaborate motion pictures of the age--every stirring
           scene through which Aurora lives in the book, is
               lived again on the motion picture screen.

                   SEE AURORA, HERSELF, IN HER STORY

             Scenario by Nora Waln--Staged by Oscar Apfel

                     Produced by Selig Enterprises

                Presented in a selected list of cities

                                By the

                        American Committee for
                      ARMENIAN AND SYRIAN RELIEF



CONTENTS


    CHAPTER                                                  PAGE

         ACKNOWLEDGMENT                                         9

         FOREWORD                                              11

         ARSHALUS--THE LIGHT OF THE MORNING                    19

       I WHEN THE PASHA CAME TO MY HOUSE                       29

      II THE DAYS OF TERROR BEGIN                              47

     III VAHBY BEY TAKES HIS CHOICE                            64

      IV THE CRUEL SMILE OF KEMAL EFFENDI                      80

       V THE WAYS OF THE ZAPTIEHS                              99

      VI RECRUITING FOR THE HAREMS OF CONSTANTINOPLE          116

     VII MALATIA--THE CITY OF DEATH                           132

    VIII IN THE HAREM OF HADJI GHAFOUR                        145

      IX THE RAID ON THE MONASTERY                            158

       X THE GAME OF THE SWORDS, AND DIYARBEKIR               174

      XI “ISHIM YOK; KEIFIM TCHOK!”                           191

     XII REUNION--AND THEN, THE SHEIKH ZILAN                  208

    XIII OLD VARTABED AND THE SHEPHERD’S CALL                 223

     XIV THE MESSAGE OF GENERAL ANDRANIK                      239



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS


    The Long Line that Swiftly Grew Shorter        _Frontispiece_

    Map Showing Aurora’s Wanderings                    _Page_  75

    Waiting They Know Not What                  _Facing Page_ 158

    Driven Forth on the Road of Terror             ”     ”    192

    The Roadside of Awful Despair                  ”     ”    234



ACKNOWLEDGMENT


For verification of these amazing things, which little Aurora told
me that I might tell them, in our own language, to all the world, I
am indebted to Lord Bryce, formerly British Ambassador to the United
States, who was commissioned by the British Government to investigate
the massacres; to Dr. Clarence Ussher, of whom Aurora speaks in her
story, and who witnessed the massacres at Van; and to Dr. MacCallum,
who rescued Aurora at Erzerum and made possible her coming to America.
You may read Aurora’s story with entire confidence--every word is true.
As the story of what happened to one Christian girl, it is a proven
document.

                                                           H. L. GATES.



FOREWORD


She stood beside me--a slight little girl with glossy black hair.
Until I spoke to her and she lifted her eyes in which were written
the indelible story of her suffering, I could not believe that she
was Aurora Mardiganian whom I had been expecting. She could not speak
English, but in Armenian she spoke a few words of greeting.

It was our first meeting and in the spring of last year. Several weeks
earlier a letter had come to me telling me about this little Armenian
girl who was to be expected, asking me to help her upon her arrival.
The year before an Armenian boy had come from our relief station in the
Caucasus and kind friends had made it possible to send him to boarding
school. I had formed a similar plan to send Aurora to the same school
when she should arrive.

We talked about education that afternoon, through her interpreter, but
she shook her head sadly. She would like to go to school, and study
music as her father had planned she should before the massacres, but
now she had a message to deliver--a message from her suffering nation
to the mothers and fathers of the United States. The determination in
the child’s eyes made me ask her her age and she answered “Seventeen.”

Tired, and worn out nervously, as she was, Aurora insisted upon telling
us of the scenes she had left behind her--massacres, families driven
out across the desert, girls sold into Turkish harems, women ravished
by the roadside, little children dying of starvation. She begged us to
help her to help her people. “My father said America was the friend of
the oppressed. General Andranik sent me here because he trusted you to
help me,” she pleaded.

And so her story was translated. Sometimes there had to be intervals of
rest of several days, because her suffering had so unnerved her. She
wanted to keep at it during all the heat of the summer, but by using
the argument that she would learn English, we persuaded her to go to a
camp off the coast of Connecticut for three weeks.

You who read the story of Aurora Mardiganian’s last three years,
will find it hard to believe that in our day and generation such
things are possible. Your emotions will doubtless be similar to mine
when I first heard of the suffering of her people. I remember very
distinctly my feelings, when, early in October of 1917, I attended a
luncheon given by the Executive Committee of the American Committee for
Armenian and Syrian Relief, to a group of seventeen American Consuls
and missionaries who had just returned from Turkey after witnessing
two years of massacre and deportation. I listened to persons, the
truthfulness of whose statements I could not doubt, tell how a church
had been filled with Christian Armenians, women and children, saturated
with oil and set on fire, of refined, educated girls, from homes as
good as yours or mine, sold in the slave markets of the East, of little
children starving to death, and then to the plea for help for the
pitiful survivors who have been gathered into temporary relief stations.

I listened almost unable to believe and yet as I looked around the
luncheon table there were familiar faces, the faces of men and women
whose word I could not doubt--Dr. James L. Barton, Chairman of the
American Committee for Armenian and Syrian Relief, Ambassadors
Morgenthau and Elkus, who spoke from personal knowledge, Cleveland H.
Dodge, whose daughter, Mrs. Elizabeth Huntington is in Constantinople,
and whose son is in Beirut, both helping with relief work, Miss Lucille
Foreman of Germantown, C. V. Vickrey, Executive Secretary of the
American Committee for Armenian and Syrian Relief, Dr. Samuel T. Dutton
of the World Court League, George T. Scott, Presbyterian Board of
Foreign Missions, and others.

And you who read this story as interpreted will find it even harder to
believe than I did, because you will not have the personal verification
of the men and women who can speak with authority that I had at that
luncheon. Since then it has happened that nearly every communication
from the East--Persia, Russian Caucasus and the Ottoman Empire, has
passed through my hands and I know that conditions have not been
exaggerated in this book. In this introduction I want to refer you to
Lord Bryce’s report, to Ambassador Morgenthau’s Story, to the recent
speeches of Lord Cecil before the British Parliament, and the files of
our own State Department, and you will learn that stories similar to
this one can be told by any one of the 3,950,000 refugees, the number
now estimated to be destitute in the Near East.

This is a human living document. Miss Mardiganian’s names, dates and
places, do not correspond exactly with similar references to these
places made by Ambassador Morgenthau, Lord Bryce and others, but we
must take into consideration that she is only a girl of seventeen,
that she has lived through one of the most tragic periods of history
in that section of the world which has suffered most from the war,
that she is not a historian, that her interpreter in giving this story
to the American public has not attempted to write a history. He has
simply aimed to give her message to the American people that they may
understand something of the situation in the Near East during the past
years, and help to establish there for the future, a sane and stable
government.

Speaking of the character of the Armenians, Ambassador Morgenthau says
in a recent article published in the New York _Evening Sun_: “From
the times of Herodotus this portion of Asia has borne the name of
Armenia. The Armenians of the present day are the direct descendants
of the people who inhabited the country 3,000 years ago. Their origin
is so ancient that it is lost in fable and mystery. There are still
undeciphered cuneiform inscriptions on the rocky hills of Van, the
largest Armenian city, that have led certain scholars--though not many,
I must admit--to identify the Armenian race with the Hittites of the
Bible. What is definitely known about the Armenians, however, is that
for ages they have constituted the most civilized and most industrious
race in the Eastern section of the Ottoman Empire. From their mountains
they have spread over the Sultan’s dominions, and form a considerable
element in the population of all the large cities. Everywhere they
are known for their industry, their intelligence and their decent and
orderly lives. They are so superior to the Turks intellectually and
morally that much of the business and industry has passed into their
hands. With the Greeks, the Armenians constituted the economic strength
of the Empire. These people became Christians in the fourth century and
established the Armenian Church as their state religion. This is said
to be the oldest Christian Church in existence.

“In face of persecutions which have had no parallel elsewhere, these
people have clung to their early Christian faith with the utmost
tenacity. For 1,500 years they have lived there in Armenia, a little
island of Christians, surrounded by backward peoples of hostile
religion and hostile race. Their long existence has been one unending
martyrdom. The territory which they inhabit forms the connecting link
between Europe and Asia, and all the Asiatic invasions--Saracens,
Tartars, Mongols, Kurds and Turks--have passed over their peaceful
country.”

Aurora Mardiganian has come to America to tell the story of her
suffering peoples and to do her part in making it possible for her
country to be rebuilt. She is only a little girl, but in giving her
story to the American people through the daily newspapers, in this
book, and the motion picture which is being prepared for that purpose
by the American Committee for Armenian and Syrian Relief, she is, I
feel, playing one of the greatest parts in helping to reëstablish again
“peace on earth, good will to men” in ancient Bible Lands, the home
in her generation of her people. Her mother, her father, her brothers
and sisters are gone, but according to the most careful estimates,
3,950,000 destitute peoples, mostly women and children who had been
driven many of them as far as one thousand miles from home, turn their
pitiful faces toward America for help in the reconstructive period in
which we are now living.

Dr. James L. Barton, who is leaving this month with a commission of two
hundred men and women for the purpose of helping to rehabilitate these
lands from which Aurora came, is a part of the answer to the call for
help from these destitute people. The American Committee for Armenian
and Syrian Relief Campaign for $30,000,000, in which it is hoped all of
the people of America will participate, is another part of the answer.

You who read this book can play a part also in helping Aurora to
deliver her message, by passing it on to some one else when you have
finished with it.

  December 2, 1918
    One Madison Ave.,
      New York

                                                        NORA WALN,
                                                   Publicity Secretary,
                                                 American Committee for
                                            Armenian and Syrian Relief.



ARSHALUS--THE LIGHT OF THE MORNING

A PROLOGUE TO THE STORY


Old Vartabed, the shepherd whose flocks had clothed three generations,
stood silhouetted against the skies on the summit of a Taurus hill. His
figure was motionless, erect and very tall. The signs of age were in
every crease of his grave, strong face, yet his hands folded loosely on
his stick, for he would have scorned to lean upon it.

To the east and north spread the plains of the Mamuret-ul-Aziz, with
here and there a plateau reaching out from a nest of foothills.
Each Spring, through twenty-five centuries, other shepherds than
Old Vartabed had stood on this same hilltop to watch the plains and
plateaux of the Mamuret-ul-Aziz turn green, but few had seen the grass
and shrubs sprout so early as they had this year. Old Vartabed should
have been greatly pleased at such promise of a good season, and should
have spoken to his sheep about it--for that was his way.

But the shepherd was troubled. A strange foreboding had come to him in
the night. Even at daybreak he could not shake it off. He was gazing
now, not at the stretches of welcome green which soon would soothe the
bleating of his sheep, but across into the north beyond, where the blue
line of the Euphrates was lost in the haze of dawn. What his old eyes
sought there, he did not know; but something seemed to threaten from up
there in the north.

Suddenly the lazy, droning call to the Third Prayer, with which the
devout Mohammedan greets the light of day, floated up from the valley
at Old Vartabed’s feet. It brought the shepherd out of his reverie
abruptly. “There, that was it! That was the sign. The danger might come
from the north, but it would show itself first, whatever it was to be,
in the city.”

The shepherd looked down into the valley, onto the housetops and the
narrow, winding streets that separated them. He caught the glint of
the minaret as the muezzin again intoned his summons. Quickly his eyes
leaped across the city to where the first glimpse of sunshine played
about a crumbled pile of brown and gray--the ruins of the castle of
Tchemesh, an ancient Armenian king. A piteous sadness gathered in his
face. The minaret still stood; the castle of the king was fallen. That
was why there were two sets of prayers in the city, and why trouble was
coming out of the north.

The old man planted his stick upright in the ground as a sign to his
sheep that where the stick stood their shepherd was bound to return.
Then he picked his way down the path that led to the lower slopes where
the houses of the city began. With a firm, even step that belied his
many years, he strode through the city until he came to the streets
marked by the imposing homes of the rich. A short turn along the side
of the park that served as a public square brought him to the home of
the banker, Mardiganian. In this house Old Vartabed was always welcome.
He had been the keeper of herds belonging to three succeeding heads of
the Mardiganian families.

A servant woman opened the door in the street wall and admitted the
shepherd to the inner garden. When she had closed the door again, the
visitor asked:

“Is the Master still within the house, or has he gone this early to his
business?”

“Shame upon you for the asking!” the woman replied, with a servant’s
quick uncivility to her kind. “Have you forgotten what day it is, that
you should think the Master would be at business?”

Amazement showed in the old man’s eyes. The woman saw that he had,
indeed, forgotten. She spoke more kindly:

“Do you not know, Vartabed, that this is Easter Sunday morning?”

The old man accepted the reminder, but his dignity quickly reasserted
itself. “If you live as many days as Old Vartabed you will wish to
forget more than one of them--perhaps one that is coming soon more
than any other.”

The woman had no patience for the sententiousness of age, and the
veiled threat of coming ill she put down for petulance. But her sharp
reply fell upon unheeding ears. The shepherd crossed the garden without
further parleys and entered the house.

The house of the Mardiganians was typical of the homes of the
well-to-do Armenians of to-day. The wide doorway which opened from
the garden was approached by handsome steps of white marble, and the
spacious hall within was floored with large slabs of the same material.
Outside, the house presented a rather gloomy appearance, because,
perhaps, of the need of protection against the sometimes rigorous
climate; inside there was every sign of luxury and opulence. The space
of ground occupied was prodigious, as the rooms were terraced, one
above the other, the roof of one being used as a dooryard garden for
the one above.

In the large reception room, into which Old Vartabed strode, there was
a great stone fireplace, with a low divan branching out on either side
and running around three sides of the room. Beautiful tapestry covers
of native manufacture, and silk cushions made by hand, covered this
divan. Soft, thick rugs of tekke, which is a Persian and Kurdish weave
built upon felt foundations, were strewn over the marble floor. Over
the fireplace hung a rare Madonna; a landscape by a popular Armenian
artist, and a Dutch harbor by Peniers hung on the walls at the side. In
a corner of the room, under a floor lamp, was a piano. Oriental delight
in bright colorings was apparent, but the ensemble was tasteful and
subdued.

The shepherd waited, standing, in the center of the room until his
employer entered and gave him the Easter morning greeting which Armenia
has preserved since the world was young:

“Christ is risen from the dead, my good Vartabed!”

“Blessed be the resurrection of Christ,” the old man replied, as the
custom dictates. Then he spoke, with an earnestness which the other man
quickly detected, of that which had brought him to the house.

It was a vision he had seen during the night. “Our Saint Gregory
appeared to me in my sleep and pressed his hand upon me heavily.
‘Awake, Old Vartabed; awake! Thy sheep are in danger, even though
they be favored of God. Awake and save them!’ This, the good saint
said to me. Hurriedly I arose, but when my old eyes were fully opened
the vision was gone. I rushed out to the fold, but it was only I who
disturbed the flock. They were resting peacefully.

“But I could not sleep again. Each time my eyes closed our Saint stood
before me, seeming to reprove my idleness. At dawn I took my sheep to
the hills--and then I remembered!”

Here the shepherd hesitated. He had spoken fast, and was nearly
breathless. His employer had listened with the consideration due one
so old, and so faithful, but not without a trace of amusement in his
immobile face.

“It is a pity, Vartabed, your sleep was restless. This morning, of all
others, you should be joyful. Tell me what it was you remembered at
dawn, and then dismiss it from your mind.”

“Some things, Master, neither you nor I can dismiss from our minds. I
remembered that once before our Saint appeared to me in my sleep with
a warning of danger. I gave no attention then, for I was younger, and
thoughtless. Those, also, were joyous times in Armenia, for there was
peace and prosperity. But that very day the holocaust came out of the
north; for that was twenty years ago.”

Now, the other man started. He was shaken by a convulsive shudder, and
his face blanched. Twenty years ago--that was when a hundred thousand
of his people were massacred by Abdul Hamid! Without a word he walked
to a window, separated the curtains and looked out upon the house
garden.

The banker, Mardiganian, was a true type of the successful, modern
Armenian business man. He did not often smile, but his voice was kind,
and his eyes were gentle. In the Easter morning promenades in any
avenue in Europe or America he would have been a conventional figure,
passed without notice. When he turned from the window, after a moment,
only a close observer could have detected in his face or manner that
inexplainable, intangible something which, indelibly, marks a race
cradled in oppression.

“What happened twenty years ago, my Vartabed, can never happen again.
We Armenians have done nothing to rouse the anger of our overlords,
the Turks. On the contrary, we have proven our willingness to serve
the state. Our young men have been called into this great war which is
ravaging the world. Even though their sympathies are with the Sultan’s
enemies, they have not shown it. They have freely given their lives in
battle for a cause they hate, that the Turk may have no excuse to vent
his wrath upon our people. Less than a week ago the Sultan’s minister,
the powerful Enver, expressed his gratitude to us for the services we
are rendering the Crescent. They dare not molest us again.”

“But the vision that came to me last night was the same that would have
warned me that night in 1895 of the tragedy then in store for us.”

“This time, nevertheless, it was but an idle dream.”

The banker spoke with the finality of conviction. The shepherd was
affronted by his calm disbelief in the sign of coming evil, as the
shepherd considered it. The old man left the room and crossed the
garden in high dudgeon. His hand was upon the gate, and in another
moment he would have been gone when a fresh, youthful voice arrested
him.

“Vartabed--wait; I am coming!”

The old man stopped abruptly. Looking back he saw coming toward him the
one who was closer to his heart than any other living thing--Arshalus,
a daughter of the Mardiganians.

Arshalus--that means “The Light of the Morning.” There is but one
word in America into which the Armenian name can be translated--“The
Aurora.” And no other would be so fitting. She was a merry-eyed child
of fourteen years, hair and eyes as black as night; smile and spirit as
sunny as the brightest day. Every sheep in Old Vartabed’s flock was her
pet, especially the black ones.

When she reached the waiting shepherd Aurora quickly discovered that he
was glum, and she chose to be piqued about it.

“Surely you were not going without wishing me the happiness of the
Easter time, or has Old Vartabed ceased to care for the one who plagues
him so much?” She made a great show of pouting, but the old man’s hurt
could not be so easily mended. Perhaps the sight of Aurora intensified
it.

“It is idle to wish happiness; it is better to give it. When one has
none to give he has no mission. I have no joy to give to-day, even to
you, my Aurora, and so I had not thought of seeking you.”

“That is very wrong, Vartabed. To-day Christ is risen, and there is
joy everywhere. And even more for me than many others. Just yesterday
my father told me that before another Easter comes I am to go away to
finish my schooling--to Constantinople, or, perhaps, to Switzerland or
Paris. Does that not make you happy for me, Vartabed?”

For an instant the old man gazed down upon the upturned face. Then his
hand reached for the gate again, as if to give support to the tall,
straight body that seemed to droop. Aurora thought she had pained him.
With an impulsive fondness she raised her hands as if to rest them upon
the old man’s breast. But before she could reach him the shepherd was
gone, and the gate had closed between them.

An hour later Old Vartabed again stood on the summit of the hill,
looking down upon the city and the plains of the Mamuret-ul-Aziz,
bathed, now, in the glory of the full morning sun. A few miles to the
south lay the ridges and long abandoned tunnels which, according to
tradition, once were the busy workings of Solomon’s mines. Harpout,
where the caravans stop; Van, the metropolis, and Sivas, the “City of
Hope,” were far beyond the horizon, outpost cities of a nation which
was born before history. The old man’s thoughts visited each of these
jewel cities in turn, and pictured the hope and faith with which they
celebrated the coming of Easter. Then he turned again to the spires
and housetops reaching up from the plains below. For he was thinking
not only of Armenia--the beautiful, golden Armenia of that Easter day
in 1914, but, also, of the child who was named for “The Light of the
Morning.”

                                                           H. L. GATES.



THE STORY OF AURORA MARDIGANIAN



CHAPTER I

WHEN THE PASHA CAME TO MY HOUSE


My story begins with Easter Sunday morning, in April, 1915. In my
father’s house we prepared to observe the day with a joyous reverence,
increased by the news from Constantinople that the Turkish government
recently had expressed its gratitude for the loyal and valuable
service of the Armenian troops in the Great War. When Turkey joined
in the war, almost six months before, a great fear spread throughout
Armenia. Without the protecting influence of France and England, my
people were anxious lest the Turks take advantage of their opportunity
and begin again the old oppression of their Christian subjects. The
young Armenian men would have preferred to fight with the Sultan’s
enemies, but they hurried to enlist in the Ottoman armies, to prove
they were not disloyal. And now that the Sultan had acknowledged their
sacrifices, the fear of new persecutions at the hands of our Moslem
rulers gradually had disappeared.

And in all our city, Tchemesh-Gedzak, twenty miles north of Harpout,
the capital of the district of Mamuret-ul-Aziz, there was none more
grateful for the promise of continued peace in Armenia than my father
and mother, and Lusanne, my elder sister and I. I was only fourteen
years old, and Lusanne was not yet seventeen, but even little girls
are always afraid in Armenia. I was quite excited that morning over
my father’s Easter gift to me--his promise that soon I could go to an
European school and finish my education as befits a banker’s daughter.
Lusanne was to be married, and she was bent upon enjoying the last
Easter day of her maidenhood. Even the early visit that morning of Old
Vartabed, our shepherd, who came just after daybreak, with a prophecy
of trouble, did not dampen our spirits.

Standing before my looking glass I was rearranging for the hundredth
time the blue ribbons with which I had dressed my hair with, I must
confess, a secret hope that they would be the envy of all the other
girls at the church service. Lusanne was making use of her elder
sister’s privilege to scold me heartily for my vanity. Lusanne was
always very prim, and quiet. I was just about to tell her that she was
only jealous because she soon would be a wife and forbidden to wear
blue ribbons any more, when my mother came into the room. She stopped
just inside the door, and leaned against the wall. She did not say a
word--just looked at me.

“Mother, what is it?” I cried. She did not answer, but silently pointed
to the window. Lusanne and I ran at once to look down into the street.
There at the gate to our yard stood three Turkish gendarmes, each with
a rifle, rigidly on guard. On their arms was the band that marked them
as personal attendants of Husein Pasha, the military commandant in our
district.

I turned to my mother for an explanation. She had fallen in a heap on
the floor and was weeping. She did not speak, but pointed downward and
I knew that Husein Pasha had come to our house, and was downstairs.
Then my happiness was gone, and I, too, fell to the floor and cried.
Somehow I felt that the end had come.

For a long time the powerful Husein Pasha, who was very rich and a
friend of the Sultan himself, had wanted me for his harem. His big
house sat in the midst of beautiful gardens, just outside the city.
There he had gathered more than a dozen of the prettiest Christian
girls from the surrounding towns. In Armenia the Mutassarif, or Turkish
commandant, is an official of great power. He accepts no orders, except
those that come direct from the Sultan’s ministers, and, as a rule, he
is cruel and autocratic.

It is dangerous for an Armenian father to displease the Mutassarif.
When this representative of the Sultan sees a pretty Armenian girl he
would like to add to his harem there are many ways he may go about
getting her. The way of Husein Pasha was to bluntly ask her father
to sell or give her to him, with a veiled threat that if the father
refused he would be persecuted. To make the sale of the girl legal
and give the Mutassarif the right to make her his concubine it was
necessary only for him to persuade or compel her to forswear Christ and
become Mohammedan.

Three times Husein Pasha had asked my father to give me to him. Three
times my father had defied his anger and refused. The Pasha was afraid
to punish us, as my father was wealthy, and through his friendship with
the British Consul at Harpout, Mr. Stevens, had obtained protection of
the Vali, or Governor, of the Mamuret-ul-Aziz province. But now the
British Consul was gone. The Vali was afraid of no one. And Husein
Pasha could, I knew, do as he pleased. Instinctively I knew, too, that
his visit to our house, with his escort of armed soldiers, meant that
he had come again to ask for me.

I clung to my mother and Lusanne, with my two younger sisters holding
onto my skirt, while we listened at the head of the stairs to my father
and the governor talking. Husein was no longer asking for me--he was
demanding. I heard him say: “Soon orders from Constantinople will
arrive; you Christian dogs are to be sent away; not a man, woman or
child who denies Mohammed will be permitted to remain. When that time
comes there is none to save you but me. Give me the girl Aurora, and I
will take all your family under my protection until the crisis is past.
Refuse and you know what you may expect!”

My father could not speak aloud. He was choked with fear and horror.
My mother screamed. I begged mother to let me rush downstairs and give
myself to the Pasha. I would do anything to save her and father and my
little brothers and sisters. Then father found his voice, and we heard
him saying to the Pasha:

“God’s will shall be done--and He would never will that my child should
sacrifice herself to save us.”

My mother held me closer. “Your father has spoken--for you and us.”

Husein Pasha went away in anger, his escort marching stiffly behind.
Scarcely had he disappeared than there was a great commotion in the
streets. Crowds began to assemble at the corners. Men ran to our house
to tell us news that had just been brought by a horseman who had ridden
in wild haste from Harpout.

“They are massacring at Van; men, women and children are being hacked
to pieces. The Kurds are stealing the girls!”

Van is the greatest city in Armenia. It was once the capital of the
Vannic kingdom of Queen Semiramis. It was the home of Xerxes, and, we
are taught, was built by the King Aram in the midst of what was the
first land uncovered after the Deluge--the Holy Place where the ark of
Noah rested. It is very dear to Armenians, and was one of the centers
of our church and national life. It lies two hundred miles away from
Tchemesh-Gedzak, and was the home of more than 50,000 of our people.
The Vali of Van, Djevdet Bey, was the principal Turkish ruler in
Armenia--and the most cruel. A massacre at Van meant that soon it would
spread over all Armenia.

They brought the horseman from Harpout to our house. My father tried to
question him but all he could say was:

“Ermenleri hep kesdiler--hep gitdi bitdi!”--“The Armenians all
killed--all gone, all dead!” He moaned it over and over. In Harpout the
news had come by telegraph, and the horseman who belonged in our city
had ridden at once to warn us.

I begged my father and mother to let me run at once to the palace of
Husein Pasha and tell him I would do whatever he wished if he would
save my family before orders came to disturb us. But mother held me
close, while father would only say, “God’s will be done, and that would
not be it.”

Lusanne was crying. Little Aruciag and Sarah, my younger sisters, were
crying, too. My father was very pale and his hands trembled when he put
them on my shoulders and tried to comfort me. I closed my eyes and
seemed to see my father and mother and sisters and brothers, all lying
dead in the massacre I feared would come, sooner or later. And Husein
Pasha had said I could save them! But I couldn’t disobey my father.
Suddenly I thought of Father Rhoupen.

I broke away from my mother and ran out of the house, through the
back entrance and into the street that led to the church where Father
Rhoupen was waiting for his congregation. No one had had the courage to
tell the holy man of the news from Van. When I ran into the little room
behind the altar he was wondering why his people had not come.

I fell at his feet, and it was a long time before I could stop my tears
long enough to tell him why I was there. But he knew something had
happened. He stroked my hair, and waited. When I could speak I told him
of the visit of Husein Pasha, and what he said to us--and then I told
him of the message the horseman had brought. I pleaded with him to tell
me that it would be right for me to send word to Husein Pasha that I
would be his willing concubine if he would only save my parents and my
brothers and sisters.

Father Rhoupen made me tell it twice. When I had finished the second
time he put a hand on my head and said, “Let us ask God, my child!”

Then Father Rhoupen prayed.

He asked God to guide me in the way I should go. I do not remember all
the prayer, for I was crying too bitterly and was too frightened, but
I know the priest pleaded for me and my people, and that he reminded
the Father we were His first believers and had been true to Him through
many centuries of persecution. As the priest went on I became soothed,
and unconsciously I began to listen--hoping to hear with my own ears
the answer I felt must surely come down from up above to Father
Rhoupen’s plea.

When he said “Amen” the priest knelt with me, and together we waited.
Suddenly Father Rhoupen pressed me close to his breast and began to
speak.

“The way is clear, my child. The answer has come. Trust in Jesus Christ
and He will save you as He deems best. It were better that you should
die, if need be, or suffer even worse than death, than by your example
lead others to forswear their faith in the Saviour. Go back to your
father and mother and comfort them, but obey them.”

All that day and the next messengers rode back and forth between
Harpout and our city, bringing the latest scraps of news from Van.
We were filled with joy when we heard the Armenians had barricaded
themselves and were fighting back, but we dreaded the consequences. No
one slept that night in our city. All day and all night Father Rhoupen
and his assistant priests and religious teachers in the Christian
College went from house to house to pray with family groups.

The principal men in the city waited on Husein Pasha to ask him if we
were in danger. He told them their fears were groundless--that the
trouble at Van was merely a riot. My father and mother clutched eagerly
at this half promise of security, but Tuesday we knew we had been
deceived. That morning Husein Pasha ordered the doors of the district
jail opened, and the criminals--bandits and murderers--who were
confined there, released and brought to his palace.

An hour later each one of these outlaws had been dressed in the uniform
of the gendarmes, given a rifle, a bayonet and a long dagger and lined
up in the public square to await orders. That is the Turkish way when
there is bad work to do.

At noon officers of the gendarmes, or, as they are called, zaptiehs,
rode through the city posting notices on the walls and fences at every
street corner. My father had gone to Harpout early in the morning to
confer with rich Armenian bankers there and to appeal direct to Ismail
Bey, the Vali. Mother was too weak from worry to go to the corner and
read the notices, so Lusanne and I went at once. The paper read:

                                ARMENIANS.

    You are hereby commanded by His Excellency, Husein Pasha, to
    immediately go into your houses and remain within doors until
    it is the pleasure of His Excellency to again permit you to go
    about your affairs. All Armenians found upon the streets, at
    their places of business or otherwise absent from their homes,
    later than one hour after noon of this day will be arrested and
    severely punished.

                            (Signed)

                                             ALI AGHAZADE, _Mayor_.

When we reported to our mother she was greatly worried because of our
father’s absence at Harpout. He might ride into the city at any time
during the afternoon, ignorant of the orders, and be caught in the
streets. Our brother Paul, who was fifteen years old, was visiting at a
neighbor’s. We sent him, through narrow, back streets, out of the city
and onto the plains where he could watch the road our father must ride
along, and, should he appear before dark, warn him of the order. We had
reason later to be thankful father was away.

We could not imagine what the order meant. We could not bring ourselves
to believe it meant a deliberate massacre was planned, and that this
means was taken to have us all in our homes for the convenience of the
zaptiehs.

At 4 o’clock gendarmes, among them the prisoners released from jail,
marched up to the homes of the wealthiest men, with orders for them to
attend an audience with Husein Pasha.

When mother explained to the officer who came to our door that my
father was out of town the zaptiehs searched the house, roughly pushing
my mother aside when she got in their way. They then demanded the keys
to my father’s business place. When Lusanne ran upstairs to get them
the officer insisted upon going with her. While she was getting the
keys from my father’s room he embraced her, tearing open her dress as
he did so. When she screamed he slapped her in the face so hard she
fell onto the floor. He left her there and went out with his men.

From our windows we could overlook the public square. Here the zaptiehs
gathered fifty of the city’s leading men. Among them were Father
Rhoupen; the president of the Christian College, which had been founded
by American missionaries; several professors and physicians; bankers,
the principal merchants and other business men.

Instead of marching their prisoners toward the palace of the Pasha, the
guards turned them toward the other part of the city. Then we knew they
were being taken, not to an audience with the commandant, but to the
jail which had been emptied by the Mutassarif that morning.

Many women, when they realized where their husbands were being taken,
ignored the order to keep to their homes, ran into the street and
tried to rush up to their men folk. The gendarmes knocked them aside
with rifle butts. One woman, the wife of a professor, managed to break
through the guard and reach her husband. A gendarme tried to pull her
away, but she clung tightly, screaming. The soldier turned his rifle
about and drove his bayonet into her. Her husband leaped at the man’s
throat and was killed by another gendarme.

The prisoners were compelled to march over the bodies of the professor
and his wife, while their children, who had also run out of their
house, stood aside, wringing their hands and weeping, until the company
passed, when they were permitted to tug the bodies of their parents
into their home. None of us who watched dared go to the assistance of
these little ones.

The jail is a rambling stone building, built more than seven centuries
ago. Originally it was a monastery, but the Turks took possession of
it in 1580, and have used it as a prison ever since. It is surrounded
by a high wall and has a large courtyard onto which the great, barren
dungeons open.

Throughout that afternoon mother, Lusanne and I waited anxiously
for father to come from Harpout. Toward evening a gendarme came to
the house and asked if father had returned yet, saying that he was
missed “at the audience with the Mutassarif.” Mother asked him why the
men folk were taken to jail, if the Mutassarif wanted to see them.
The soldier said the governor thought that would be handier, as it
was a long walk to the palace. We were comforted a little by that
explanation, but when evening came and the men had not returned to
their homes we became worried again. And we began to fear, too, that
father and Paul had been intercepted.

At dark the wives and daughters of the men who had been taken from
their homes could not stand the suspense any longer. Braving the order
to remain indoors they began to gather in the streets, and little
companies of women and children, and even the more daring men, moved
toward the jails. They waited outside until well toward midnight,
hoping to catch a glimpse of their relatives or to hear what was going
on inside. At 11 o’clock the prison gates opened and Husein Pasha, in
his carriage and escorted by a heavy guard of mounted soldiers, came
out.

The women crowded around him, but the soldiers drove them away.
Scarcely had the Pasha’s carriage disappeared than there was shouting
and screaming in the prison. Lusanne and I, who had stolen up to the
prison wall, ran home frightened. Father and Paul were there, having
reached home late in the evening.

Father looked very careworn. He took me into his arms and kissed me
in a strange way. Big tears were in his eyes when I looked into them.
I knew, without asking, that he had not succeeded in his mission to
Harpout for protection. We sat up all that night, listening to the
cries that came from the prison. We learned the next day what had
happened, when the one man who had escaped crept into his home to be
hidden.

When Husein Pasha arrived at the prison he told the men who had been
gathered that new word had come from Constantinople that the Armenians
were not loyal to Turkey, and that they had been plotting to help the
Allies. He demanded that the prisoners tell him what they knew of such
plots. Every one of them assured him there had been no such plotting,
that the Armenians wanted only to live in peace with their Turkish
neighbors, obey the Sultan and do him whatever service was demanded of
them. Husein seemed at last convinced and went away, saying the men
could all return to their homes in the morning.

While the prisoners were congratulating each other upon their promised
release, and hoping there might be some way to get word to their
families in the meantime, gendarmes appeared and drove the men into
one corner of the courtyard. While the others were held back by the
levelled guns and bayonets one prisoner at a time was pulled into a
ring of soldiers and ordered to confess that he had been conspiring
against the Sultan.

As each one denied the accusation and declared he would confess to
nothing, he was stripped of his clothes and the gendarmes fell to
beating him on his naked back with leather thongs. As fast as the
men fainted from the lashing they were thrown to one side until they
revived, when they were beaten again, until all the soldiers had taken
turns with the thongs and were tired. Eight of the older men died under
the beatings. Their bodies were thrown into a corner of the jail yard.

While they were beating Father Rhoupen an officer interfered. He said
it was a waste of time to beat the priest, as all priests must be
killed anyway. He then turned to Father Rhoupen and told him he could
live only if he would forswear Christ and become Mohammedan. If he
refused, the officer said, he would be beaten until he died.

Poor Father Rhoupen was almost too weak to answer. When the soldiers
dropped him, at the officer’s command, he fell into a heap on the
ground. When he tried to speak his head shook and the Turk thought he
was signifying he would accept Mohammed.

“Hold him up--on his feet,” the officer ordered.

Two soldiers lifted him. The officer commanded him to repeat the creed
of Islam--“There is only one God, and Mohammed is his prophet.”

“There is only one God”--Father Rhoupen began, just as clearly as
he could, and with his eyes turned full upon the cruel officer. He
stopped for breath, and then went on--“and Jesus Christ, His Son, is my
Saviour!”

The officer drew his sword and cut off Father Rhoupen’s head.

Professor Poladian, president of the College, was next told that he
might save his life if he would profess Mohammed. Professor Poladian
was one of the most loved men in all Armenia. He had studied at Yale
University, in the United States, and had been highly honored by
England and France because of his noble deeds. He was very old.

I loved him more than any man besides my father, because once when I
was very little I was sick and cried when I had to stay away from a
Christmas tree at the College on which Professor Poladian had hung
bags of candy for all the little girls of Tchemesh-Gedzak. Professor
Poladian asked Lusanne, my sister, why I was not with the other
children who gathered about the tree, and when she told him I was at
home, ill, and that I cried because I couldn’t come, he drove all the
way to our house, almost two miles, brought me my candy bag and told
me the Christmas story of the birth of Christ. I remember after that I
always wanted to pray to Professor Poladian after I had prayed to God,
until my mother made me understand why I shouldn’t.

Professor Poladian was not beaten, but the officer told him he had
been spared only that he might swear faith in Islam. The Professor was
almost overcome with his suffering at having to witness the treatment
of his friends, but he told the officer he would give his life rather
than deny his religion. The soldiers then tore out his finger nails,
one by one, and his toe nails and pulled out his hair and beard, and
then stabbed him with knives until he died.

Throughout the night the screams from the prison yard continued, and
the women waiting outside were frantic. At dawn soldiers drove the
women away, telling them their husbands would soon be home.

As soon as the women were out of sight the soldiers took out the men
who had lived through the torture, and, tying them together with a long
rope, marched them out of the city behind the jail toward the Murad
River, ten miles away. When they reached the river bank the soldiers
set upon the men and stabbed them to death with bayonets. Only the one
escaped by pulling a dead body on top of him and making believe that
he, too, was dead.

The next day, Thursday, which is the day before the Mohammedan Sunday,
the soldiers went through the streets at 9 o’clock, calling for all
Armenian men over eighteen years of age, to assemble in the public
square. In every street an officer stopped at house doors and told the
people that any man over eighteen who was not in the square in one hour
would be killed.

Mother and Lusanne and I flew to father’s arms. We each tried to get
our arms around his neck. He was very sad and quiet. “One at a time, my
dear ones,” he said, and made us wait while he kissed and said good-by
to each of us in turn. Little Sarah, who was seven, and Hovnan, who was
six, he held in his arms a long time. Then he kissed me on the lips,
such as he had never done before. He told mother she must not cry, but
be very brave. Then he went out.

Little Paul followed father at a distance, to be near him as long as
possible. When father got to the square Paul tried to turn back, but a
soldier saw him and caught him by the collar, saying, “You go along,
too, then we won’t have to gather you up with the women to-morrow.”
Father protested that Paul was only fifteen, but the soldiers wouldn’t
listen. So my brother never came back home.



CHAPTER II

THE DAYS OF TERROR BEGIN


I had gone upstairs to my window to watch father crossing the street
to the square. Mother had fallen onto a divan in the reception room
downstairs. Lusanne and my little brothers and sisters stayed with her,
even the little ones trying to make believe that, perhaps, father would
return. When I saw the soldier take Paul, too, I screamed. Mother heard
and came running upstairs, Lusanne and the others following. I was the
only one who had seen. I would have to tell them--to tell them that not
only father, but that little Paul, who had wanted to be a priest, when
he grew up, like Father Rhoupen, was gone too. For a moment I could not
speak. Mother thought something had happened to father in the street,
and that I had seen.

“Tell me quick--what is it? Have they killed him?” she cried. I
couldn’t answer--except to shake my head. Suddenly mother missed Paul
for the first time. Something must have told her. She asked Lusanne:
“Where is my boy? Where is Paul? Why isn’t he here?”

Lusanne started to run downstairs to look in the yard. I motioned her
not to go. I put my arms around mother and said, between my sobs:

“They took Paul too--he is with our father!”

Mother sank upon the floor and buried her face. Lusanne and I knelt
beside her. But she didn’t cry. Her eyes were dry when she gathered us
to her. I never saw my mother cry after that, even when the Turkish
soldiers, at the orders of Ahmed Bey, were beating her to death while
they made me look on before returning me to Ahmed’s harem.

Out of my window we could see the men comforting each other, or
talking excitedly with the leaders, in the square. By the middle of
the afternoon more than 3,000 men and older boys had assembled. The
soldiers and zaptiehs searched our houses that no man over eighteen
might escape. When women clung to husbands and fathers the soldiers
said the men were summoned only to be addressed by Ishmail Bey, the
Vali, who was coming up from his capital, Harpout. Some of the women
believed this explanation. Others knew it was not true.

Not very far from our house was the home of Andranik, a young man who
had graduated from the American School at Marsovan, and who had come to
our city with his parents to teach in our schools. He was very popular
in the city, and it was to him Lusanne was to be married. When the
Turks conscripted young Armenian men they spared Andranik because of
his position as a teacher.

When his father answered the summons to the square Andranik remained
behind. He disguised himself in a dress belonging to his sister and
made his way to the edge of the city where he bought a horse from a
Turk whom he knew he could trust. By the Turk, Andranik sent word
to Lusanne that he would ride to Harpout, where he knew the German
Consul-General, Count Wolf von Wolfskehl, and beg of this powerful
German official to intercede for the Armenians of Tchemesh-Gedzak.

Lusanne was much encouraged when she heard Andranik was safe. All
afternoon neighboring women, some of them wives of wealthy men, came
to our house to look from our windows into the square, hoping to catch
a glimpse of their loved ones. The soldiers would not let the women
gather near the square, nor communicate with the men.

One pretty woman, Mrs. Sirpouhi, who had been married not quite a
year to a son of our richest manufacturer, was just about to become a
mother. From our window she caught sight of her husband. She could not
keep herself from running across to the square, screaming as she went,
“My Vartan--my Vartan!” Vartan was his name.

The young husband heard his wife calling and ran to the edge of the
square, holding out his arms to her. Just as she was about to throw
herself upon him a zaptieh struck her on the head with his gun. When
this zaptieh and his companions saw the young woman was almost a mother
they took turns running their bayonets into her. The husband fell to
the ground. I think he fainted. The soldiers carried him off. They left
his bride’s body where it fell.

At sundown, when nearly all the Christian women in the city must have
cried their eyes dry, as did Lusanne and I, we heard the muezzin
calling the First Prayer from the minarets of the El Hasan Mosque in
the Mohammedan quarter. It seemed to me the muezzin was mocking us as
he sang: “There is no God but Allah; come to prayer; come to security!”
Without letting mother know I knelt by myself and asked our God if He
would not think of us--and send our fathers back. Perhaps He heard me
for as soon as the Mohammedan prayer was over a soldier came to our
door.

He said father had paid him to bring a message; that he would be able
to speak to us if we should go at once to the north corner of the
square. To prove his message was true the soldier showed us father’s
ring.

With my little sisters and brothers holding to our hands, mother,
Lusanne and I ran quickly to the north corner, and there father and
Paul were awaiting us. For a time he could not speak. Then he said:

“We are to be driven into the desert!”

The officers had told them they would be taken only to Arabkir, sixty
miles away, and allowed to camp there until the Turks were ready for
them to return home again. Father said he hoped this were true--but
he did not believe they would be allowed to return. He told mother
that since little Paul was along he would like to have her bring
him a blanket to wrap up in at night, and money. He had with him a
hundred liras, or $440. in American money, but perhaps if he had more,
he thought he could bribe the soldiers to let Paul ride a horse, or
perhaps, escape when they began the march.

Mother and I hurried to the house. She went into the basement, where
father had hidden a great deal of money for us. When I went to get a
blanket I thought of my “yorgan,” a birthday blanket father had brought
me from Smyrna when I was ten years old. It was the most beautiful
thing I had. The Ten Commandments were woven into it, and it had been
made, many people had said, a thousand years ago. I took this to Paul
and another blanket for father. Paul cried when he saw I had given him
my yorgan. We wrapped dried fruit, and cheese in thin bread, also, to
give them. Mother took 200 liras--almost a thousand dollars.

The soldiers would not let us talk long to father the second time. We
stood across the street just looking at him until it was too dark to
see him any more, and then we went home. We never saw father or Paul
again.

When we reached our house we found Abdoullah Bey, the police chief,
waiting in the parlor. Abdoullah always had been a friend of father’s,
and we thought him a kindly man. Perhaps he would have helped us if he
could, but when mother begged him to have Paul, at least, restored to
us, he showed us a written order, signed by Ismail Bey, the Vali, which
had been given him by Husein Pasha. It read:

“During the process of deportation of the Armenians if any Moslem
resident or visitor from the surrounding country endeavors to conceal
or otherwise protect a Christian, first his house shall be burned, then
the Christian killed before his eyes, and then the Moslem’s family and
himself shall be killed.”

“You see I cannot help you,” Abdoullah Bey said, “even though I would.
But I can advise you as a friend. You have two daughters who are young.
It is still possible for them to renounce your religion and accept
Allah. I will take word personally, if you wish, to Husein Pasha that
your Lusanne and Aurora will say the rek’ah (the oath to Mohammed). He
is willing to take them both, and thus spare them and you many things,
which, perhaps, are about to happen. Soon it may be too late.”

Husein wanted us both! I remembered Father Rhoupen’s words, “Trust
in God and be true to Him.” But it seemed as if I ought to sacrifice
myself. Even then I would have gone to the Pasha’s house, but mother
said to Abdoullah:

“Tell the Pasha we belong to God, and will accept whatever He wills!”
Abdoullah respected mother for her courage. He bowed to her as he went
out. “I am sorry for what may come,” he said.

That evening Andranik returned from Harpout and came at once to our
house. He still wore his sister’s dress. When he appeared at the door
Lusanne ran into his arms. I read in his face bad news.

“I begged of Count von Wolfskehl to save us. He said the Sultan had
ordered that no Christian subject be left alive in Turkey, and that he
thought the Sultan had done right.”

Lusanne secretly had thought Andranik would be successful. She had such
confidence in him she did not think he could fail. She was overcome
when her hope was destroyed, but she thought more of Andranik than of
herself. She begged him to try to escape. Andranik decided he would
remain in his women’s clothes. Lusanne cut off some of her own hair
and arranged it on his head so bits of it would show under his shawl
and make him look more nearly like a girl. They thought perhaps he
might get out of the city at night, unmolested, and hide with friendly
farmers.

But, somehow, the authorities learned Andranik had not surrendered
himself. Early in the evening the zaptiehs under command of Abdoullah,
surrounded his house and demanded that he come out. When his mother
said he was not there, the gendarme chief replied that if he did not
appear at once the house would be burned with all who were in it.

A neighbor woman ran in to tell us. Andranik threw off his disguise,
took an old saber father had hung on our wall, and rushed out. He
cut his way through the gendarmes and got into his home, where he
found his mother and sister and his other relatives in a panic of
fear. The gendarmes shouted to him to come out at once. Andranik saw
them bringing up cans of oil. He kissed his mother and sister again
and stepped out into the street. They killed him with knives on the
doorstep. His sister ran out and threw herself on his body, and they
killed her, too. When a neighbor told us what had happened, Lusanne ran
out to Andranik’s house and helped his mother carry in the two bodies.

Father and the other men were taken away that night. In our house we
were sitting in my room trying to pick them out from the shadows in
the square made by the torches and lanterns of the zaptiehs, when many
new soldiers appeared, and, suddenly, there was a great shouting. Soon
we saw the men, formed into a long line, march out of the square,
with zaptiehs and soldiers all about them. It was too dark for us to
identify father and Paul, but we knew they would be looking up at our
window and hoped they could see us.

They took the men toward the Kara River, which is a branch of the
Euphrates. Many were so old and feeble they could not walk so far, and
fell to the ground. The zaptiehs killed these with their knives and
left their bodies behind. It was daylight when they came to the little
village of Gwazim, which is on the river bank twelve miles away. There
was a large building at Gwazim which the Turks sometimes used as a
barracks when there was war with the Kurds, and at other times as a
prison. Half the men were put into this building and told they would
have to stay until the next day. The zaptiehs then took the others
across the river toward Arabkir.

At noon of that day the zaptiehs returned to Gwazim. They had killed
all the men they had taken across the river just as soon as they were
out of sight of the village. When we, in Tchemesh-Gedzak, heard that
part of our men had been left in the prison, hundreds of women walked
the dusty road to Gwazim. Lusanne and I went, hoping to get one more
glimpse of father and Paul.

In Gwazim there was an aged Armenian woman who had lived in our city
at the time of the massacre in 1895. She was pretty then, and when the
Kurds stole her she saved her life by turning Mohammedan. Then she
was sold to a Turkish bey at Gwazim. He kept her in his harem until
she grew old. All the time, while professing Islam, she secretly was
Christian. The bey had given her the name “Fatimeh.”

Fatimeh persuaded the guards at the prison to let her take water to the
men. When she told the prisoners the zaptiehs had returned without the
other men they knew the same fate was in store for them.

When Fatimeh came out she told me father and Paul were inside and had
sent word to us to be hopeful. In a little while we saw her going into
the prison again, this time with two big rocks, so heavy she could
hardly carry them, hidden in her water buckets. She came out again and
filled her buckets with coal oil.

When it was dark the younger men, who were strong and brave, killed all
the older men by hitting their heads with the rocks Fatimeh had taken
them. Father killed Paul first, because he was so little. When all
the old and feeble men were dead, the young men prayed that God would
think they had done right in not letting the old men suffer and then
they spread the oil, set it afire, and threw themselves in the flames.
Fatimeh told us what had happened while the prison burned. The zaptiehs
suspected her and carried her into the burning building and left her.

It was almost dawn Saturday morning when Lusanne and I returned to
mother. “As God wills, so be it,” was all she said when we told her
what had happened at the prison. She said there had been a great
celebration in the El Hasan mosque, in honor of the Mohammedan Sunday,
while we were at Gwazim. A special imam, or prayer reader, had come all
the way from Trebizond to read special prayers set aside for such great
events as the beginning of a holy war or massacre of Christians.

That morning soldiers went through the streets posting a new paper on
the walls. It was what we had feared--an order from the Governor that
all Armenian Christian women in the city, young and old, must be ready
in three days to leave their homes and be deported--where, the order
did not say.

As soon as the Turkish residents heard of the new order many of them
began to go about the Armenian half of the town offering to buy what
the Armenian women wanted to sell. As there were none of the men left,
the women had no one to advise them. To our house, which was one of the
best in the city, there came many rich Turks, who told us we had better
sell them our rugs and the beautiful laces mother, Lusanne and I had
made.

Every Armenian girl is taught to make pretty laces. No girl is happy
until she can make for herself a lace bridal veil. Always the Turks are
eager to buy these, as they sell for much money to foreign traders, but
no Armenian bride will sell her veil unless she is starving. Lusanne
and I had made our veils, and had put them away until we should need
them. We knew we could not carry them with us when we were deported,
as they would soon be stolen. So we sold them, and mother’s, too. The
most we could get was a few piasters. Since I have come to America I
have seen spreads and table covers, made from such bridal veils as
ours, for sale in shops for hundreds of dollars. Father had brought us
many rugs from Harpout, Smyrna and Damascus. For these mother could get
only a few pennies.

On the second day after the proclamation, which was our Sunday, the
soldiers visited all the houses. They walked in without knocking. They
pretended to be looking for guns and revolvers, but what they took was
our silver and gold spoons and vases.

That afternoon a company of horsemen rode past our house. We ran to
the window and saw they were Aghja Daghi Kurds, the crudest of all the
tribes. At their head rode the famous Musa Bey, the chieftain who, a
few years before, had waylaid Dr. Raynolds and Dr. Knapp, the famous
American missionaries, and had robbed them and left them tied together
on the road.

The Kurds rode to the palace of Husein Pasha. In a little while they
rode away again, and some of the Pasha’s soldiers rode with them. That
meant, we knew, that the Governor had given the Kurds permission to
waylay us when we were outside the city.

All that night the women sat up in their homes. In our house mother
went from room to room, looking at the little things on the walls
and in the cupboards that had been hers since she was a little girl.
She sat a long time over father’s clothes. I got out my playthings
and cried over them. Some of them had been my grandmother’s toys.
Lusanne did not cry. She thought only of Andranik and the loss of her
bridal veil, and her tears had dried, like mother’s. Little Hovnan and
Mardiros, our brothers, and Sarah and Aruciag, our sisters, cried very
hard when we told they must say good-by to their dolls and their kites.

When morning of the last day came I slipped out of our home to visit
Mariam, my playmate, who lived a few doors away. Mariam’s family was
not very rich, and mother had said I might give her twenty liras from
our money, that she might have it to bribe soldiers for protection. But
Mariam was not there.

During the night zaptiehs had entered her house and taken her out of
her bed, with just her nightdress on, and had carried her away. The
soldiers said Rehim Bey had promised them money if they would bring
Mariam to his house. Mariam’s mother and little brother were kneeling
beside her empty bed when I found them.

On my way back to our house a Turk stopped me. He asked me to go with
him. He said I might as well, as “all the pretty Christian girls would
have to give themselves to Turks or be killed anyway.” I broke away
and ran home as fast as I could. I could not forget the look on that
Turk’s face as he spoke to me. It was the first time I had ever seen
such a look in a man’s face. I tried to explain to mother. She put her
arms around me, but all she said was:

“My poor little girl!”

The women had been allowed until noon to assemble in the square.
Already they were arriving there, with horse, donkey and ox carts, some
with as many of their things as they could heap on their carts, others
with just blankets and comforts, a favorite rug and bread and fruits.
In Armenia every family keeps a year’s supply of food on hand. The
women had to leave behind all they could not carry.

When it came time for us to go I thought again of the look in that
Turk’s face. For the first time I realized just what it would mean
to be a captive in one of the harems of the rich Turks whose big
houses look down from the hills all about the city. I had heard of the
Christian girls forced into haremliks of these houses, but I had never
really understood. Lusanne was older. She knew more than I. “If only I
could have died with Andranik,” she said.

Mother thought of a plan she hoped might save Lusanne and me from the
harems or a worse fate among the Kurds and soldiers. She brought out
two yashmaks, or veils, such as Turkish women wear on the street,
and made us put them on, hiding our faces. Over these she had us put
on a feradjeh, a Turkish woman’s cloak. We looked quite as if we were
Turkish women, with all our faces hidden.

“It is only death that faces me, but for you, my daughters, there are
even greater perils,” mother said to us. “You will be able now to walk
in the streets and the soldiers will think you are Mohammedan women.
Try to reach Miss Graham, at the orphanage. Perhaps she can hide you
until there is a way for you to escape into the north, where the sea
is. And if you do find safety, thank God, and remember He is always
with you.” Then she kissed us and bade us go.

Miss Graham, who was an English girl, had come to our city from the
American College at Marsovan, to teach in our school for orphaned
Armenian girls. She was very young and pretty. The Turks had seemed to
respect her, and mother thought we would be safe with her.

While mother went to the square with Aruciag, Sarah, Hovnan and
Mardiros, Lusanne and I mingled with Mohammedan women who had gathered
to watch the scenes at the square and to bargain for pieces of jewelry
and other things the Armenian women knew they must either sell or have
stolen from them. We planned to wait until dark before venturing to
reach Miss Graham’s.

Soon we saw Turks, both rich citizens and military officers, walking
about in the square roughly examining the Christian girls. When they
were pleased by a girl’s appearance these beys and aghas tried to
persuade their mothers to let them profess Mohammedanism and go away
with them, promising to save her relatives from deportation. When
mothers refused the Turks often struck them. Officers killed some
mothers who clung too closely to their daughters.

Many young girls gave in to the Turks and agreed to swear faith in
Allah for the sake of their mothers, sisters and brothers. Toward
evening the khateeb, or keeper of the mosque, was brought to receive
their “conversions.”

More than fifty girls took the oath. Just as soon as the oaths were all
taken the officers signaled to the zaptiehs and they took all these
girls away from their families and gathered them at one side of the
square.

Then the richer beys began to examine the apostasized girls. The
soldiers would give a girl to the one who paid them the most money,
unless an officer also wanted her. The higher military officers were
given first choice.

One by one the soldiers dragged the girls who had sacrificed their
religion in vain to save their mothers and relatives out of the square
and toward the homes of the Turks. Lusanne and I had gone close to
watch our chance to speak once more to mother. We saw everything. And
while they were taking the girls away we saw a zaptieh carrying Miss
Graham in his arms. She struggled hard, but the zaptieh was too strong.
We learned afterward the soldiers had gone to her school to get the
little Armenian girls, and when Miss Graham tried to fight them they
said her country couldn’t help her now, and since she was a Christian
they would take her, too.

It was to Rehim Bey’s house, where Mariam already had been carried,
they took Miss Graham. They did not even try to make her become a
Mohammedan. Rehim Bey was very powerful, and was a cousin of Talaat
Bey, the Minister of the Interior at Constantinople.



CHAPTER III

VAHBY BEY TAKES HIS CHOICE


For a time Lusanne and I debated whether we should return to the square
and join mother, since Miss Graham had been stolen and could not help
us, or whether we should make an effort to escape since we had so far
escaped notice in our disguises. We decided that, perhaps, if we could
reach the house of a friendly Turk, outside the city, and we knew of
many of these, we might find a way to help mother. We did not know how
this could ever be done, but we clung to a hope that surely some one
would aid us.

When it was quite dark we crept through side streets to our deserted
house and succeeded in getting into the garden without attracting
attention. We dared not make a light, or remain on the lower floors,
soldiers might enter the house at any moment. The safest place to hide,
we thought, would be the attic.

In the attic there were a number of boxes of old things of mother’s.
We searched until we found some old clothes, and each of us put on an
old dress of mother’s under the cloaks she had given us. If we were
discovered, the old clothes, we thought, might deceive the Turks if we
could keep our faces covered.

Neither Lusanne nor I had slept during the three days the Turks allowed
the Armenian women to prepare for deportation. Toward morning we were
both so worn out we fell asleep. Suddenly I awoke to find an ugly
zaptieh standing over me, a sword in his hand. He had kicked me. Three
or four others, who, with the leader, had broken in to search for
valuables, were coming up the ladder into the attic, and the one who
had found us was calling out to them:

“Mouhadjirler--anleri keselim!”--(“Here are refugees--let’s kill them!”)

The zaptieh’s shout awakened Lusanne and she screamed.

By this time the Turks had pulled me to my feet, but when Lusanne
screamed they dropped me. “That’s no old one,” the chief zaptieh said,
as he turned to my sister. “Her voice is young.”

They kicked me aside while they gathered around Lusanne, picked her up
and carried her down the ladder to the floor below, where our bedrooms
were. There they found a lamp and lighted it from the torch one of them
carried. They began to examine Lusanne, who screamed and fought them
desperately. I followed them down the ladder and ran into the room, but
when they saw me one of them struck me with his fists, and I fell. They
thought I at least was as old as my clothes looked. One of them said,
“Stick the old one on a bayonet if she don’t keep still.” I could do
nothing but stay on the floor, crouch tight to the wall and look on.

A zaptieh tore off Lusanne’s veil and cloak. When they saw her face
and that she was young and good looking they shouted and laughed. The
leader dropped his gun and laid his sword on a table and then took
Lusanne away from the others and held her in his arms. She fought so
hard the others had to help hold her while the officer kissed her. Each
time he kissed her he laughed and all the others laughed too. One by
one the zaptiehs caressed her, each passing her to the other, all much
amused by her struggles.

When Lusanne’s dress was all torn and her screams grew weak I could not
stand it any longer. I crept up to the men on my knees and begged them
to stop. I knew there was no longer any hope that we might escape, so
I pleaded: “Please take us to the square to our relatives; we will get
money for you if you will only spare us.”

They allowed us to leave the house, but followed across the street to
the square. It was daylight now and the women were stirring about,
sharing with each other the bread and meats some had brought with them.
The zaptiehs made Lusanne stay with them while I searched for mother.
She was caring for a baby whose mother had died during the night. The
first thing she asked was, “Where is Lusanne--have they got her?”

Mother gave me two liras. The zaptiehs took them and shoved Lusanne
away. She fainted when she realized they had released her.

During the first day and night no one knew what was to happen. Such of
the soldiers as would answer questions said only that the Pasha had
ordered the women deported. None knew how or when. During the first
night three of the mothers of girls who had been taken by the Turks the
day before died. One of them killed herself while her other children
were sleeping around her. So many were crowded into the square not all
could find room to lie down and the soldiers killed any who attempted
to move into the street.

In the center of the square there was a band-stand, where the
Mutassarif’s band often played in the summer evenings. In this
band-stand the soldiers had put the little girls and boys taken from
the Christian Orphanage when they carried off Miss Graham. There were
thirty little girls, none of them more than twelve years old, and
almost as many boys.

The children were crying bitterly when Lusanne and I, at mother’s
suggestion, went to see if we could not help care for them. There was
no food for them except what the women could spare from their own
stores. The Turks never give food to their prisoners.

Toward noon of that day Vahby Bey, the military commandant of the
whole vilayet, who had under him almost an army corps, rode into the
city with his staff and a company of hamidieh, or Kurdish cavalry. He
was on his way to Harpout, from Erzindjan, a big city in the north,
where he had attended a council of war with Enver Pasha, the Turkish
Commander-in-Chief.

Vahby Bey walked from his headquarters into the public square,
accompanied by his staff. Hundreds of women crowded around him, but his
staff officers beat them away with swords and canes. The general walked
at once to the band-stand and looked at the children. Abdoullah Bey,
the chief of the gendarmes, was with him, and they talked in low voices.

When Vahby Bey had gone, several officers began to ask Armenian girls
if they would like to accompany the orphans and take care of them in
the place where the government would put them. The officers said they
would take several girls for this purpose, and thus save them the
terrors of deportation and death, or worse, if they would first agree
to become Mohammedan.

Many mothers thought this the only way to save their daughters from
the harem. Some of the younger women, among them brides whose husbands
had been killed, were so discouraged and frightened they were eager
to accept this chance. The officers said only young girls would be
accepted, and bade all who wanted to take advantage of the opportunity
to gather at the band-stand. More than two hundred assembled, with
mothers and relatives hanging onto them. I don’t think any of them
really was willing to forswear Christ, but they thought they would
be forgiven if they seemed to do so to save themselves from being
massacred, stolen in the desert or forced to be concubines.

A hamidieh officer, looking smart and neat in his costly uniform,
went to the stand to select the girls. He chose twelve of the very
prettiest. One girl who was tall and very handsome, and whose father
had been a rich merchant, refused to take the Mohammedan oath unless
her two sisters, both younger, also were accepted. The officer
consented. The three girls had no mother, only some younger brothers,
and these the officers said might accompany the orphans. The three
sisters were very glad they were to be saved. One of them was a friend
of Lusanne’s, and to her she said: “Our God will know why we are doing
this; we will always pray to Him in secret.”

Esther Magurditch, daughter of Boghos Artin, a great Armenian author
and poet, who lived in our city, also was willing to take the oath,
and was chosen. Esther had been one of my playmates. Her mother was
an English woman, who had married her father when he was traveling in
Europe. Esther had married Vartan Magurditch, a young lawyer, just a
week before. When both her father and husband were taken from her she
almost lost her mind.

When all the fourteen girls had said the Mohammedan rek’ah, soldiers
took them with the orphans to the big house in which Esther’s family
had lived. It was the largest Armenian home in the city.

As soon as the children and the apostasized girls entered the house
Esther prepared a meal for them from the bread and other food that had
been left. While the children were eating the girls were summoned to
another part of the house, where an aged Mohammedan woman awaited them
with yashmaks, or Turkish veils, which she told them they must put on,
as they had become Mohammedan women and must not let their faces be
seen.

The young women were then told to seat themselves until an officer
came to give further instructions. They still were waiting in the room
when childish voices in the other part of the house were lifted up in
screams. The girls rushed to the door, only to find it locked.

Suddenly the door opened and Vahby Bey, with his chief of staff, Ferid
Bey, and Ali Riza Effendi, the Police Commissary, whose headquarters
were in Harpout, entered. With them were a number of other smartly
dressed officers, who had been traveling with General Vahby. The girls
fell to their knees before the officers, and asked them, in Allah’s
name, to let them go to the children. The officers laughed. The three
sisters, who had taken their little brothers with the other children,
appealed to General Vahby to tell them what had happened to their
little ones. Vahby Bey did not answer, but pointed to the taller one
of the three girls, the one who was so handsome, and said to the chief
of staff: “This one I will take; guard her carefully.” Ferid Bey, the
chief officer, then called some soldiers, who picked up the girl and
carried her upstairs to a room which Vahby Bey had occupied. Vahby Bey
followed. Ferid Bey then selected Esther, and soldiers carried her up
to another room. Ferid Bey followed and dismissed the soldiers, with
orders to place a guard outside his door and another outside the door
of Vahby Bey’s room.

Downstairs the other officers of Vahby Bey’s staff each selected a
girl, the officers of higher rank taking first choice. There were three
girls left, one of them the youngest sister of the girl Vahby Bey had
taken, and the soldiers took possession of these, not even removing
them from the room.

How long these three girls lived I cannot tell. It was Esther who told
us what happened that afternoon in her house, for she was the only one
of the fourteen who escaped alive. Before she got away from the house
she looked into the room where the soldiers had been, and saw that the
three girls were dead.

Esther tried to resist Ferid Bey, and to plead with him; but he
threatened to kill her. When she told him she would rather die he
opened the door so she could see the men standing guard in the hall,
and said to her:

“Very well then; if you do not be quiet I will give you to the
soldiers!”

Surely God will not blame Esther for shrinking away from the sight of
those many men and allowing Ferid Bey, who was only one man, to remain.

The officers busied themselves with the girls until evening. When Ferid
Bey left her Esther begged him again to at least tell her where the
children were, that she might go to them. He had assured her during the
afternoon that the orphans were safe, and that the girls could return
to them later. Now he pretended no longer. “We have no time to bother
with the children of unbelievers,” he said. “We drowned them in the
river!”

Ferid Bey told the truth. We found some of their bodies when we passed
that way later on. The soldiers had tied the children together with
ropes in groups of ten and had driven them to Kara Su, also a branch
of the Euphrates, ten miles away. Those who were too little to walk or
keep up with the others, the soldiers had killed with their bayonets
or gun handles. They left their bodies, still tied together, at the
roadside. On the river banks we found other bodies that had been washed
up.

As soon as Ferid Bey had gone and Esther heard the other officers
assembling on the floor below, something warned her to try to escape
immediately. Her clothes had been nearly all torn away, but she dared
not wait even to cover herself. She climbed onto the roof by a small
stairway which the Turks were not guarding, and hid herself there.

General Vahby and his officers went to their quarters. The soldiers
hunted out the girls they had left behind. Esther heard them fighting
among themselves over the prettiest ones. After a time most of the
girls died. The soldiers killed the rest with their swords when they
were finished with them. From what Esther heard them saying to each
other as they did this, she believed they had been ordered not to leave
any of the young women alive as witnesses to Vahby Bey and his officers
having done such things openly.

Esther crept out of the house and crawled through a back street to
the square. She found my mother and fell into her arms. When daylight
came a soldier saw her and recognized her as one of the girls who had
apostasized the day before, and the zaptiehs carried her away.

At noon more soldiers came to the square, with zaptiehs and hamidieh,
and officers began to go among us, saying that within one hour we were
to march. They told us we were to be taken to Harpout, but we soon saw
our destination was in the direction of Arabkir.

That last hour in our city, which had been the home of many of our
family ancestors for centuries, and beyond the borders of which but
few of our neighbors ever had traveled, was spent by most of the
mothers and their children in prayer. There was almost no more weeping
or wailing. The strong, young women gathered close to them the aged
ones or frail mothers with very young babies. Each of us who had more
strength than for our own needs tried to find some one who needed a
share of it.

We were encouraged a little when the time came for us to move by the
apparent kindness of some of the new Turkish soldiers, who seemed to
want to make us as comfortable as possible. It was at the suggestion
of these that many aged grandmothers whose daughters had more than
one baby were placed together in a group of ox carts, each with a
grandchild that had been weaned. The soldiers said this plan would
relieve the young mothers of so many children to watch over, and would
let the old women have company, while, being together, the soldiers
could keep them comfortable.

[Illustration: THIS MAP SHOWS AURORA’S WANDERINGS

The black line indicates the route covered by Miss Mardiganian, who
during two years walked fourteen hundred miles.]

When we were three hours out from town these ox carts fell behind.
Presently the soldiers that had been detailed to stay with them joined
the rest of the party ahead. When we asked where the grandmothers and
the babies were, the soldiers replied: “They were too much trouble. We
killed them!”

It was very hot, and the roads were dusty, with no shade. Many women
and children soon fell to the ground exhausted. The zaptiehs beat these
with their clubs. Those who couldn’t get up and walk as fast as the
rest were beaten till they died, or they were killed outright.

Our first intimation of what might happen to us at any time came when
we had been on the road four hours. We came then to a little spot where
there were trees and a spring. The soldiers who marched afoot were
themselves tired, and gave us permission to rest a while, and get water.

A woman pointed onto the plain, where, a little ways from the road, we
saw what seemed to be a human being, sitting on the ground. Some of us
walked that way and saw it was an Armenian woman. On the ground beside
her were six bundles of different sizes, from a very little one to one
as large as I would be, each wrapped in spotless white that glistened
in the sun.

We did not need to ask to know that in each of the bundles was the body
of a child. The mother’s face was partially covered with a veil, which
told us she had given up God in the hope of saving her little ones--but
in vain!

She did not speak or move, only looked at us with a great sadness in
her eyes. Her face seemed familiar and one of us knelt beside her
and gently lifted her veil. Then we recognized her--Margarid, wife
of the pastor, Badvelli Moses, of Kamakh, a little city thirty miles
to the north. Badvelli Moses once had been a teacher in our school
at Tchemesh-Gedzak. He was a graduate of the college at Harpout, and
Margarid had graduated from a Seminary at Mezre. They were much beloved
by all who knew them. Often Badvelli Moses had returned, with his wife
and Sherin, their oldest daughter, who was my age, to Tchemesh-Gedzak
to visit and speak in our churches.

Besides Sherin, there were five smaller girls and boys. All were there,
by Margarid’s side, wrapped in the sheets she had carried with her when
the people of her city were deported.

“There were a thousand of us,” Margarid said when we had brought her
out of the stupor of grief which had overcome her. “They took us away
with only an hour’s notice. The first night Kurdish bandits rode down
upon us and took all the men a little ways off and killed them. We
saw our husbands die, one by one. They stripped all the women and
children--even the littlest ones--so they could search our bodies for
money. They took all the pretty girls and violated them before our eyes.

“I pleaded with the commander of our soldier guards to protect my
Sherin. He had been our friend in Kamakh. He promised to save us if
I would become a Moslem, and for Sherin’s sake, I did. He made the
bandits allow us to put on our clothes again, and Sherin and I veiled
our faces.

“The commander detailed soldiers to escort us to Harpout and take me
to the governor there. When we left the Kurds and soldiers who were
tired of the girls were killing them, and the others as well. When we
reached here the soldiers killed my little ones by mashing their heads
together. They violated Sherin while they held me, and then cut off her
breasts, so that she died. They left me alive, they said, because I had
become Moslem.”

We tried to take Margarid into our party, but she would not come. “I
must go to God with my children,” she said. “I will stay here until He
takes me.” So we left her sitting there with her loved ones.

It was late at night and the stars were out when we arrived at the
banks of the Kara Su. Here we were told by the soldiers we could camp
for the night. In the distance we could see the light on the minaret in
the village of Gwazim, where father and Paul had died in the burning
prison.

All along the road zaptiehs killed women and children who could not
keep up with the party, and many of the pretty girls had been dragged
to the side of the road, to be sent back to the party later with tears
and shame in their faces. Lusanne and I had daubed our faces with mud
to make us ugly, and I still wore my cloak and veil.

For a time it seemed as if we were not to be molested, as the guards
remained in little groups, away from us. Only the scream now and then
of a girl who had attracted some soldier’s attention reminded us we
must not sleep.



CHAPTER IV

THE CRUEL SMILE OF KEMAL EFFENDI


During the night Turkish residents from cities near by came to our camp
and sought to buy whatever the women had brought with them of value.
Many had brought a piece of treasured lace; others had carried their
jewelry; some even had brought articles of silver, and rugs. There were
many horse and donkey carts along, as the Turks encouraged all the
women to carry as much of their belongings as they could. This we soon
learned was done to swell the booty for the soldiers when the party was
completely at their mercy.

As the civilian Turks went through the camp that night, they bargained
also for girls and young women. One of them urged mother to let him
take Lusanne. When mother refused he said to her:

“You might as well let me have her. I will treat her kindly and she can
work with my other servants. She will be sold or stolen anyway, if she
is not killed. None of you will live very long.” Several children were
stolen early in the night by these Turks. One little girl of nine years
was picked up a few feet away from me and carried screaming away. When
her relatives complained to the soldiers, they were told to be glad she
had escaped the long walk to the Syrian desert, where the rest of the
party was to be taken.

Dawn was just breaking, and we were thankful that the sleepless,
horrible first night was so nearly over, when, in a great cloud of sand
and dust, the Aghja Daghi Kurds, with Musa Bey at their head, rode down
upon us. The soldiers must have known they were coming, for they had
gathered quite a way from the camp, and were not surprised. Perhaps it
was arranged when Musa Bey visited Husein Pasha, in Tchemesh-Gedzak,
just before we were taken away.

The horses of the Kurds galloped down all who were in their way, their
hoofs sinking into the heads and bodies of scores of frightened women.
The riders quickly gathered up all the donkeys and horses belonging to
the families, and when these had been driven off they dismounted and
began to walk among us and pick out young women to steal. Lusanne and I
clung close to mother, who tried to hide us, but one of three Kurds who
walked near us saw me.

He stopped and tore my veil away. When he saw the mud and dirt on my
face he roughly rubbed it off with his hands, jerking me to my feet,
to look closer. When he saw I really was young, despite my disguise,
he shouted. One of the other Kurds turned quickly and came up. When I
looked up into his face I saw it was Musa Bey himself!

The bey clutched at me roughly, tore open my dress and threw back my
hair. Then he gave a short command, and, so quickly, I had hardly
screamed, he threw me across his horse and leaped up behind. In another
instant he was carrying me in a wild gallop across the plains. His
band rode close behind, each Kurd holding a girl across his horse. I
struggled with all my strength to get free. I wanted to throw myself
under the horse’s hoofs and be trampled to death. But the bey held me
across his horse’s shoulder with a grip of iron, as he galloped to the
west, skirting the banks of the river.

I screamed for my mother. The other girls’ screams joined with mine.
Behind us I could hear the shouts and cries of our party. I thought I
heard my mother’s voice among them. Then the shouts died away in the
distance. Soon I lost consciousness.

When I came to I was lying on the ground, with the other girls who had
been stolen. The Kurds had dismounted. Some were busy making camp,
while others were in groups amusing themselves with such of the girls
as were not exhausted. Musa Bey was absent.

My clothes were torn and my body ached from the jolting of the horse.
My shoes and stockings were off when the Kurds came down upon us, so
my feet were bare. For a long time I lay quietly, fearing to move
lest I attract attention and suffer as some of the girls already were
suffering. When I could look around I saw that among the girls were
several whom I had known, and some I recognized as young married women.
Some I knew were mothers who had left babies behind.

On the ground near me was quite a little girl, Maritza, whose mother
had been killed by the zaptiehs just after we left Tchemesh-Gedzak. She
had carried a baby brother in her arms during all the long walk of the
first day on the road. She was weeping silently. I crawled over to her.

“When they picked me up I was holding little Marcar,” she sobbed. “The
Kurds tore him out of my arms and threw him out on the ground. It
killed him. I can’t see anything else but his little body when it fell.”

It was several hours before Musa Bey came back. A party of Turks on
horseback rode up with him. They came from the West where there were
many little villages along the river banks, some of them the homes of
rich Moslems.

When they dismounted, Musa Bey began to exhibit the girls he had stolen
to the Turks. Some of the Turks, I could tell, were wealthy farmers.
Others seemed to be rich beys or aghas (influential citizens). Musa
Bey made us all stand up. Those who didn’t obey him quick enough he
struck with his whip. When I got up off the ground he caught me by the
shoulder and threw me down again. “You lie still,” he said. I saw that
he did the same thing to two or three other girls.

The Turks brutally examined the girls Musa Bey showed them, and began
to pick them out. Those who were farmers chose the older ones, who
seemed stronger than the rest. The others wanted the prettiest of the
girls, and argued among themselves over a choice.

The farmers wanted the girls to work as slaves in the field. The others
wanted girls for a different purpose--for their harems or as household
slaves, or for the concubine markets of Smyrna and Constantinople. Musa
Bey demanded ten medjidiehs, or about eight dollars, American money,
apiece. I thought, as I lay trembling on the ground, what a little bit
of money that was for a Christian soul.

Little Maritza, who stood close to me, was taken by a Turk who seemed
to be very old. Another man wanted her, but the old one offered Musa
Bey four medjidiehs more, and the other turned away to pick out another
girl. The Turk who bought Maritza was afraid to take her away on his
horse, so he bargained with Musa Bey until he had promised two extra
medjidiehs if a Kurd would carry her to his house. Musa Bey gave an
order and a Kurd climbed onto his horse, lifted Maritza in front of
him and rode away by the side of the man who had bought her. She did
not cry any more, but just held her hands in front of her eyes.

After a while all the girls were gone but me and the few others whom
Musa Bey had not offered for sale. The ones who were bought by the
farmers were destined to work in the fields, and they were the most
fortunate, for sometimes the Turkish farmer is kind and gentle. Those
who were bought for the harem faced the untold heartache of the girl to
whom some things are worse than death.

When the last of the Turks had gone with their human property, Musa
Bey spoke to his followers and some of them came toward us. We thought
we had been reserved for Musa Bey himself, and we began to scream and
plead. They picked us up despite our cries and mounted horses with us.
Musa Bey leaped onto his horse and we were again carried away, with
Musa Bey leading.

I begged the Kurd who carried me to tell me where we were going. He
would not answer. We had ridden for two hours, until late in the
afternoon, when we came to the outskirts of a village. We rode into the
yard of a large stone house surrounded by a crumbling stone wall. It
was a very ancient house, and before we had stopped in the courtyard
I recognized it from a description in our school books, as a castle
which had been built by the Saracens, and restored a hundred years ago
by a rich Turk, who was a favorite of the Sultan who then reigned.

I remembered, as the Kurds lifted us down from their horses, that the
castle was now the home of Kemal Effendi, a member of the Committee
of Union and Progress, the powerful organization of the Young Turks.
He was reputed throughout our district as being very bitter toward
Christians, and there were many stories told in our country of
Christian girls who had been stolen from their homes and taken to him,
never to be heard from again.

Only a part of the castle had been repaired so it might be lived in,
and it was toward this part of the building the Kurds took us when
they had dismounted. I tried to plead with the Kurd who had me, but he
shook me roughly. We were led into a small room. There were servants,
both men and women, in this room, and they began to talk about us and
examine us. Musa Bey drove them to tell their master he had arrived.

In a little while Kemal Effendi entered. He was very tall and middle
aged. His eyes made me tremble when they looked at me. I could only
shudder as I remembered the things that were said of him.

When Kemal Effendi had looked at all of us for minutes that seemed
torturing hours he seemed satisfied. He spoke to Musa Bey and the Kurds
went out, followed by him. I do not know how much Musa Bey was paid
for us.

Women came into the room and tried to be kind to us. One of them put
her arms around me and asked me to not weep. She told me I was very
fortunate in falling into such good hands as Kemal Effendi. “He will
be gentle to you. You must obey him and be affectionate and he will
treat you as he does his wife. He will not be cruel unless you are
disobedient,” the woman said. I do not know what was her position in
the house, but I think she was a servant who had been a concubine when
she was younger.

Until then I had tried to keep myself from thinking that I had lost my
mother and sisters and brothers. What the woman told us was to happen
to us in the house of Kemal took away my hopes of ever seeing them
again. I told her I would kill myself if I could not go back to my
relatives.

It was late in the evening before Kemal Effendi summoned us. He had
eaten and seemed to be gracious. One of the girls, who had been a
bride, threw herself on the floor before him, weeping and begging him
to set us free. Kemal Effendi lost his good humor at once. He called a
man servant and told him to take the girl away. “Shut her up till she
learns when to weep and when to laugh,” he ordered. The man carried the
girl out screaming.

Kemal then asked us about our families, how old we were, and if we
would renounce our religion and say the Mohammedan oath. One girl,
whose name I do not know, but whom I had often seen in our Sunday
school at Tchemesh-Gedzak was not brave enough to refuse. The Kurds had
treated her cruelly, and the one who had carried her away had beaten
her when she cried. She moaned, “Yes, yes, God has deserted me. I will
be true to Mohammed. Please don’t beat me any more.”

When she had said this Kemal smiled and put his hand on her head. “You
are wise. You will not be punished if you continue so.”

The second girl would not forsake Christ. “You may kill me if you
wish,” she said, “and then I will go to Jesus Christ.” As soon as she
had said this a man servant dragged her out of the room. I looked at
Kemal Effendi, but he was still smiling, as soft and smoothly as if he
could not be otherwise than very gentle. I could see that he was more
cruel even than people had said of him.

When Kemal Effendi spoke to me his voice was very soft. I can still
remember it made me feel as if some wild animal’s tongue was caressing
my face.

“And you, my girl,” he said, “are you to be wise or foolish?”

“God save me,” I whispered to myself again, and then something seemed
to whisper back. I heard myself saying, without thinking of the words,
“I will try to be as you wish.”

“That is very good. You will be happy,” Kemal replied. “You will
acknowledge Allah as God and Mohammed as his prophet? Then I will be
kind to you.”

“I will do that, Effendi, and I will be obedient, if you will save my
family also,” I said.

“And if I do not?” Kemal asked.

“Then I will die,” I replied.

The Effendi looked at me a long time. Then he asked me to tell him of
my family. I told him of my mother, my sister, Lusanne, and of my other
sisters and brothers. He made me stand close to him. He put his hands
on me. I stood very straight and looked into his face. I promised that
if he would take my mother and sisters and brothers also I would not
only renounce my religion, but obey him in all things. And for each
thing I promised I whispered to myself, “Please, God, forgive me.” But
I could think of no other way. I was afraid that even now, perhaps, my
mother, brothers and sisters were being murdered. It seemed as if my
body and soul were such little things to give for them.

Kemal kept me with him more than an hour, I think. Each time he tried
to touch me I shrank away from him. It amused him, for he would laugh
and clap his hands, as if very pleased. “I will die first,” I said
each time, “unless you save my family.”

I had begun to lose hope; to think Kemal was but playing with me. I
could hardly keep my tears back, yet I did not want to weep for I knew
he would be displeased. Then, suddenly, he appeared to have made up his
mind. He arose and looked down at me.

“Very well. The bargain is made. I will protect your relatives. I
prefer a willing woman to a sulky one. We will go to-morrow and bring
them.”

I would have been happy, even in my sacrifice, had it not been that
Kemal Effendi smiled as he said this--that cruel, wicked smile. I would
have believed in him if he had not smiled. But I felt as plain as if it
were spoken to me that behind that smile was some wicked thought.

I begged him to go with me then to bring my people before it was too
late. He said it would not be too late in the morning; that he would go
with me after sunrise; that I need have no further fears. When he left
the room the woman who had spoken to me earlier came in to me. She took
me into the haremlik, or women’s quarters, where there were many other
women.

I think the harem women would have been sorry for me had they
dared. They tried to cheer me. They asked much about our religion,
and why Armenians would die rather than adopt the religion of the
Turks. I could not talk to them, because I could think only of the
morning--whether I would be in time--and wonder what could be behind
that smile of the Effendi’s.

They put me in a small room, hardly as large as an American closet.
They told me an Imam would come the next day to take my oath.

They did not know the Effendi had promised to save my relatives and
bring them to the house.

I had not been alone in my room very long when a pretty odalik, a young
slave girl, slipped silently through the curtained door and took my
hand in hers. She was a Syrian, she told me, whose father had sold her
when she was very young. She had been sent from Smyrna to the house of
Kemal. She was the favorite slave of the Effendi. She wanted to tell me
that if I needed some one to confide in when her master had made me his
slave, too, I could trust her. She said she was supposed to have become
Mohammedan, but that secretly she was still Christian. She did not know
many prayers she explained, for she was so young when her father had
been compelled to sell her. She wanted me to teach her new ones.

It was so comforting to have some one to whom I could talk through
the long hours of waiting until sunrise. I told the little odalik I
had promised to be a Moslem only to save my mother and sisters and
brothers. I told her what Kemal had promised, how he had smiled and
how I feared something I could not explain.

“When he smiles he does not mean what he says,” the girl said, sadly.
“Often when he is displeased with me he smiles and pets me. Soon
afterwards I am whipped. When the Kurd, Musa Bey, who brought you, came
to tell the Effendi he had stolen some girls and wished to sell the
prettiest to him, the Effendi smiled and said, ‘Be good to the best
appearing ones, and bring them here.’ I would not trust him to keep his
promise.”

Early in the morning the Effendi sent for me and asked me to describe
my relatives. I told him it would be impossible for him to find them
in so large a party. He agreed I should go with him and we set out, he
riding his horse while I walked beside him. I tried to convince him I
was contented with the bargain we had made--even that I was glad of the
opportunity to have his protection. Yet I knew that behind his smile
was his resolve to have my family killed as soon as he had brought
about my “conversion” and had obtained the willing sacrifice he desired.

Kemal knew the party in which my family was would be taken across the
river at the fording place to the north. We went in that direction, but
they had not yet arrived and we turned back to meet them.

When we came close to the river bank, which was high and cliff-like,
I looked down at the water and saw it was running red with blood,
with here and there a body floating on the surface. I screamed when I
saw this, and sank to the ground. I shut my eyes, yet I seemed to see
what had happened--a company of Armenians taken to the river bank and
massacred, cut with knives and sabres before they were thrown into the
river, else they would not have stained the river for many miles.

The Effendi reproached me.

“Christians are learning their God cannot save their blood. It is what
they deserve. Why should you weep now, my little one, when already you
have decided to give your faith to Islam?” I could not look at him, but
somehow I could feel that in his eyes there would be the gleam of that
terrible smile.

I gathered strength and replied firmly: “I am not used to blood,
Effendi.”

We went on, close by the river, looking for the vanguard of my people
who would come from the south. The river banks reached higher, and
the river narrowed until it was almost a solid red with the blood.
Afterwards I learned seven hundred men and boys from Erzindjan had been
convoyed to the river and killed by zaptiehs. The zaptiehs stabbed them
one by one and then threw them into the river. And this river was a
part of the Euphrates of the Bible, with its source in the Garden of
Eden!

Kemal rode close to the high banks. I walked at his side. Below me the
river seemed to call me to security. If I went on I knew Kemal would
only feed false hopes by promising protection to my relatives he would
soon tire of giving. And I would have to make the sacrifice he demanded
in vain. I waited until we were at the very edge of the cliff. Then I
jumped. I heard the curse of Kemal Effendi as I struck the red water.
When I came to the surface I saw him sitting on his horse at the top of
the cliff, looking down at me. I was glad I could not tell if he were
smiling.

I had learned to swim when I was very young. Unconsciously I struck out
for the opposite shore and reached it safely. The banks were not so
high on that side. Soon I was free. It must have been that Kemal did
not have a revolver or he would have shot me. I did not look back, but
ran onto the plain. I did not know if Kemal would send searchers for
me, so I hid in the sand, covering myself so Kurds or zaptiehs could
not see me if they rode near, until I saw the long line of my people
from Tchemesh-Gedzak approaching on the other side of the river.

I remained through the rest of the day and night, while the refugees
camped at the fording place. When they crossed the river the next
morning I managed to get in among them during the confusion. My mother
was so happy she could not speak for a long time. Kemal Effendi had
ridden up to them, she told me, and had demanded that the leader of the
zaptiehs find my relatives and punish them for my escape. Mother bribed
the soldiers and they told Kemal my relatives were not among the party.

The party was given no opportunity to rest after the laborious fording
of the river, but was made to push on toward Arabkir. Little Hovnan
and Mardiros, and Aruciag and Sarah, already were almost exhausted.
Their little feet were torn and bleeding, and mother and Lusanne kept
them wrapped in cloths. There were no more babies in the party, for
just before they forded the river the zaptiehs made the mothers of the
youngest babies leave them behind. The mothers nursed them while they
were waiting to be taken over the river and then laid them in little
rows on the river bank and left them.

The soldiers said Mohammedan women would come out from a nearby village
to take the babies and care for them, but none came while we still
could see the spot where they were left, and that was for several
hours. Several of the mothers, when they realized the promise of the
soldiers was just a ruse, jumped into the river to swim back. The
soldiers shot them in the water. After that we were not allowed to go
near the river, even to drink.

Late that day we came to a khan, or travelers’ rest house, such as are
found along all the roads in Asia Minor, maintained after an ancient
custom of the Turks as stopping places for caravans. We were told we
could rest there for the remainder of the day and night, but when we
drew near the khan a party of soldiers came out and halted us. We could
not go to the building, our guards were told, as it was occupied by
travelers being taken north to Shabin Kara-Hissar, a large city in the
district of Trebizond near the Black Sea.

Soon we learned who these travelers were. They were a company of
“turned” Armenians, as the Turks call Christians who have given up
their religion. The company was from Keban-Maden, a city thirty miles
south. The company arrived at the khan that morning, having traveled
twenty miles the day before.

The zaptiehs who guarded our party and the soldiers who had come from
Keban-Maden with the others, soon became friends and talked earnestly
with each other. They had forbidden us to go near the khan, and we
wondered why the “turned” Christians were not to be seen. Presently a
slim young girl crept out of the house and, unseen by the soldiers,
crawled along the ground until she came to the outskirts of our camp.
She was naked and her feet were cut and bruised.

She was a bride, she said, who had “turned” with her young husband. The
Mutassarif of Keban-Maden had promised all the Armenians in his city
that their lives would be saved if they accepted Islam, the child-bride
said, and more than four hundred of them, mostly the younger married
people, agreed.

Then they were told, she said, they would have to go to Shabin
Kara-Hissar. As soon as they were outside the city the soldiers robbed
them of everything worth taking. Then most of the soldiers returned to
Keban-Maden so as not to miss the looting there of the Armenian houses.
The soldiers that remained tied the men in groups of five and made them
march bound in this way. During their first night on the road, the
bride said, the soldiers stripped all the women of their clothing and
made them march after that naked.

Terrible things happened during that night, the girl said. Nearly
all the women were outraged, and when husbands who were still tied
together, and were helpless to interfere while they looked on, cried
out about it, the soldiers killed them. The little bride had come over
to us to ask if some of us would not give her a piece of clothing to
cover her body. Many of our women offered her underskirts and other
garments, and she crawled back to the khan with as many as she could
carry, for herself and other women.

They did not know what was going to happen to them. They did not
believe the soldiers who said they would be permitted to live at Shabin
Kara-Hissar in peace. Their guards already were grumbling, she said,
at having to take such a long march with them just because they had
“turned.”

That night a dozen or more of our youngest girls, from eight to ten
years old, were stolen by the soldiers and taken to the khan. We didn’t
know what became of them, but we feared they were taken to be sold
to Mohammedan families, or to rich Turks. Mother slept that night,
she was so worn out, but Lusanne and I took turns keeping guard over
our sisters and brothers, keeping them covered with dirt and bits of
clothing, so the soldiers as they prowled among us, would not see them.

Before daylight the Armenians in the khan were taken away. We had not
been upon the road next day but a few hours when we came upon a long
row of bodies along the roadside, we recognized them as the men of the
party of “turned” Armenians. A little farther on we came to a well, but
we found it choked with the naked corpses of the rest of the party--the
women. The zaptiehs had killed all the party, and to prevent Armenians
deported along that road later, from using the water, had thrown the
bodies of the women into it.



CHAPTER V

THE WAYS OF THE ZAPTIEHS


While we stood, in groups, looking with horror into the well, I
suddenly heard these words, spoken by a woman standing near me:

“God has gone mad; we are deserted!”

I turned and saw it was the wife of Badvelli Markar, a pastor who had
been our neighbor in Tchemesh-Gedzak. When the men of our city were
massacred the Badvelli’s wife was left to care for an aged mother, who
was then ill in bed with typhoid fever, and three children--a baby, a
little girl of three, and a boy who was five. She had begged the Turks
to let her remain in her home to care for her mother, but they refused.
They made the aged woman leave her bed and take to the road with the
rest of us. She died the first day.

During the first days we were on the road the Badvelli’s wife was very
courageous. Then her little boy died. The guards had compelled her to
leave her baby at the river crossing and now her little girl, the last
of her children, was ill in her arms. When we passed the bodies of the
Armenians from the khan, laid along the road, the Badvelli’s wife
suddenly lost her mind.

“God has gone mad, I tell you--mad--mad--mad!”

This time she shrieked it aloud and ran in among the others in our
company, crying the terrible thing as she went. A woman tried to stop
her, to take the little girl out of her arms, but she fought fiercely
and held on to the child.

I have heard how sometimes a sickness like the plague will spread from
one person to another with fatal quickness. That was how the madness
of the Badvelli’s wife spread through our party. It seemed hardly
more than a minute before the awful cry was taken up by scores, even
hundreds, of women whose minds already were shaken by their inability
to understand why they should be made to suffer the things they had to
endure at the hands of the Turks.

It was the mothers of young children, mostly, who gave in to the
madness. Some of these threw their children on the ground and ran,
screaming, out of the line and into the desert. Others ran wild with
their children hanging to their arms. Their relatives tried to subdue
them, but were powerless.

I think there were more than 200 women whose minds gave way under this
sudden impulse, stirred by the crazed widow of the pastor.

The zaptiehs who were in charge of us could not understand at first.
They thought there was a revolt. They charged in among us, swinging
their swords and guns right and left, even shooting point blank. Many
were killed or wounded hopelessly before the zaptiehs understood. Then
the guards were greatly amused, and laughed. “See,” they said; “that is
what your God is--He is crazy.” We could only bow our heads and submit
to the taunt. Some of the women recovered their senses and were very
sorry. Those who remained crazed the zaptiehs turned onto the plains to
starve to death. They would not kill an insane person, as it is against
their religion.

We had been told we were to go to Arabkir, but soon after leaving the
khan we changed our direction. It was apparent we were headed in the
direction of Hassan-Chelebi, a small city south of Arabkir. None of our
guards would give us any definite information.

The zaptiehs made us march in a narrow line, but one or two families
abreast. The line of weary stragglers stretched out as far as I could
see, both ahead and behind. We had but little water, as the zaptiehs
would not allow us to go near springs or streams, but compelled us to
purchase water from the farmer Kurds who came out from villages along
the way. The villagers demanded sometimes a lira (nearly $5.) a cup for
water, and always the boys we sent out to buy it were sure to receive
a beating as well as the water. We who had money with us had to share
with those who had none. Sometimes the villagers would sell the water,
collect the money, and then tip over the cups.

After we were on the road a week we were treated even more cruelly
than during the first few days. The old women, and those who were too
ill to keep on, were killed, one by one. The soldiers said they could
not bother with them. When children lagged behind, or got out of the
line to rest, the zaptiehs would lift them on their bayonets and toss
them away--sometimes trying to catch them again as they fell, on their
bayonet points. Mothers who saw their young ones killed in this way for
the sport of our guards could not protest. We had learned that any sort
of a protest was suicide. They had to watch and wring their hands, or
hold their eyes shut while the children died.

Our family had been especially fortunate because none of our little
ones became ill. Although Hovnan was only six years old, he seemed to
realize what was going on. My youngest aunt, Hagenoush, who was with
us, was carried off from the road by a zaptieh, who beat her terribly
when she tried to resist him. When he had outraged her he buried his
knife in her breast and drove her back to us screaming with the fright
and pain. I think I was never so discouraged as when we had treated
Hagenoush and eased her pain.

News of the massacres and deportations had not yet reached all the
villages we passed, as the road was little traveled. We came upon one
settlement of Armenians where the women were at their wash tubs, in the
public washing place, only partly clothed, as is the way in country
villages in Turkey. Our guards surrounded the women at once and drove
them, just as they were, into our party. Then they gathered the men,
who did not know why they were molested until we told them. We rested
on the road while the soldiers looted all the houses in that village.
Then they set fire to it.

We were now in a country where there were many Turkish villages, as
well as settlements of Kurds. We camped at night in a great circle,
with the younger girls distributed for protection inside the circle as
widely as possible. Each day young women were carried away to be sold
to Turks who lived near by, and at night the zaptiehs selected the most
attractive women and outraged them.

The night after the Armenian village had been surprised we had hardly
more than made our camp when the captain of the soldiers ordered the
men who had been taken from the village during the day to come before
him, in a tent which had been pitched a little way off. The captain
wanted their names, the soldiers explained. We had hoped these men
would remain with us. There were seventy-two of them, and we felt much
safer and encouraged with them among us. But we knew what the summons
meant. The men knew, too, and so did their womenfolk.

Each man said good-by to his wife, or daughters, or mother, and other
relatives who had been gathered in at the village. The captain’s tent
was just a white speck in the moonlight. Around it we made out the
figures of soldiers and zaptiehs. The women clung to the men as long as
they dared, then the men marched out in a little company. Our guards
would not allow us to follow. We watched, hoping against hope.

Soon we saw a commotion. Screams echoed across to us. Figures ran out
into the desert, with other figures in pursuit. Only the pursuers would
return. Then it was quiet. The men were all dead.

That was the first time the officers had raised a tent. We wondered at
their doing this, as usually they slept in the open after their nightly
orgies with our girls. After that we shuddered more than ever whenever
we saw the soldiers put up a tent for the night.

After the massacre of the men, the soldiers who had participated came
into the camp and, with those which had remained guarding us, went
among us selecting women whose husbands had belonged to the more
prosperous class and ordering them to go to the tent. The captain
wished to question them, the soldiers said. They summoned my mother and
many women who had been our neighbors or friends, until more than two
hundred women whose husbands had been rich or well-to-do were gathered.
With my mother my Aunt Mariam, whose husband had been a banker, was
taken.

As soon as the women had arrived at the tent the captain told them
they were summoned to give up the money they had brought with them,
“for safe keeping from the Kurds,” he said. The women knew their money
would never be returned to them and that they would suffer terribly
without it. They refused to surrender it, saying they had none. Then
the zaptiehs fell upon them. They searched them all, first tearing off
all their clothes.

One woman, who was the sister of the rich man, Garabed Tufenkjian, of
Sivas, and who had been visiting in our city when the deportations
began, was so mercilessly beaten she confessed at last that she had
concealed some money in her person. She begged the soldiers to cease
beating her that she might give it them. The soldiers shouted aloud
with glee at this confession and recovered the money themselves,
cutting her cruelly with their knives to make sure they had missed none.

The soldiers then searched each woman in this way. My Aunt Mariam was
to become a mother. When the soldiers saw this they threw her to the
ground and ripped her open with their bayonets, thinking, in their
ignorant way, she had hidden a great amount of money. They were so
disappointed they fell upon the other women with renewed energy.

Of the two hundred or more who were subjected to this treatment, only
a little group survived. When they crawled back into the camp and into
the arms of their relatives they had screamed so much they could not
talk--they had lost their voices. My poor mother had given up all the
money she had about her, but had not admitted that others of her family
had more. She was bleeding from many cuts and bruises when she reached
us, and fainted as soon as she saw Lusanne and me running to her. We
carried her into the camp and used the last of our drinking water,
which we had treasured from the day before, to bathe her wounds.

When the soldiers and zaptiehs had divided the money which they had
taken, they came in among us again to pick out young women to take
to the officers’ tent. The moonlight was so bright none of us could
conceal ourselves. Lusanne was sitting with the children, comforting
them, while I had taken my turn at attending mother’s wounds. A zaptieh
caught her by the hair and pulled her to her feet.

“Spare me, my mother is dying--spare me!” Lusanne cried, but the
zaptieh was merciless. He dragged her along. I could not hold myself.
I ran to Lusanne and caught hold of her, pleading with the zaptieh to
release her. Lusanne resisted, too, and the zaptieh became enraged.
With an oath he drew his knife and buried it in Lusanne’s breast. The
blade, as it fell, passed so close to me it cut the skin on my cheek,
leaving the scar which I still have. Lusanne died in my arms. The
zaptieh turned his attention to another girl he had noticed.

Mother had not seen--she was still too exhausted from her own
sufferings. Aruciag and Hovnan, my little brother and sister, saw it
all, however, and had run to where I stood dazed, with Lusanne’s limp
body in my arms. I laid her on the ground and wondered how I could tell
mother.

A woman who had been standing near took my place at mother’s side. I
led the little ones away and asked another woman to keep them with her,
then I returned to my sister’s body. I could not make myself believe
it. I counted on my fingers--father, mother, Paul, Lusanne, Aruciag,
Sarah, Mardiros, Hovnan and my two aunts. With me that made eleven of
us--eleven in our family. Then I counted father, Paul, Aunt Mariam, and
now Lusanne--four already gone!

I cried over Lusanne a long time. Then I realized I must do something.
I was afraid a sudden shock might kill mother, so I must have
time, I knew, to prepare her. With the help of some other women I
carried Lusanne to the side of the camp and with our hands we dug her
grave--just a shallow hole in the sand. I made a little cross from bits
of wood we found after a long search, and laid it in her hands.

When morning came mother had gathered her strength, with a tremendous
effort, and was able to stand and walk. Some strong young women,
offered to help carry her, even all day if necessary, if she could not
walk. Mother insisted upon walking some of the time, though, leaning
upon my shoulder.

She asked for Lusanne as soon as we began preparation to take up the
day’s march. I tried to make her believe Lusanne was further back
in the company--“helping a sick lady,” I said. But mother read my
eyes--she knew I was trying to deceive her.

“Don’t be afraid, little Aurora,” she said to me, oh, so very gently;
“don’t be afraid to tell me whatever it is--have they stolen her?”

“They tried to take her,” I said, “but--”

I stopped. Mother helped me again. “Did she die? Did they kill her? If
they did it was far better, my Aurora.”

Then I could tell her. “They killed her--very quickly--her last words
were that God was good to set her free.”

We saw the zaptieh who killed Lusanne, during the day, and little
Aruciag recognized him. “There is the man who killed my sister,” she
cried. Mother put her hands over her eyes and would not look at him.

We all were in great fear of what might happen to us at Hassan-Chelebi.
Some of the young women who had been taken during the night to the
tent of the officers reported that the officers had told them during
the orgie that some great beys were coming from Sivas to meet us at
Hassan-Chelebi, and that something was to be done about us there. We
were afraid that meant that all our girls were to be stolen.

When the city loomed up before us our young women began to tremble
with dread, and many of them fell down, unable to walk, so great was
their anguish. The soldiers whipped them up, though, and we were guided
into the center of the town. Hundreds of our women were wholly nude,
especially those who had been stripped and beaten when the soldiers
robbed them. The zaptiehs would not allow them to cover themselves,
seeming to take an especial delight in watching that those who were
without clothes did not obtain garments from others. These poor women
were compelled to walk through the streets of Hassan-Chelebi with their
heads bowed with shame, while the Turkish residents jeered at them from
windows and the roadside.

At the square the Turkish officials from Sivas came out to look
at us. Among them were Muamer Pasha, the cruel governor of Sivas;
Mahir Effendi, his aide de camp; Tcherkess Kior Kassim, his chief
hangman, who, we afterward learned, had superintended the massacre
of 6,000 Armenian Christians at Tchamli-Bel gorge, near Sivas; a
captain of zaptiehs and a Hakim, or judge. Two of these officials were
noted throughout Armenia--Muamer Pasha and his hangman, for their
characteristic cruelties toward Christians.

After the officials had walked among us, closely surrounded by soldiers
so that none could approach them, the Mudir, or under-mayor of the
city, came with the police to get all boys over eight years of age. The
police said the mayor had provided a school for them in a monastery,
where they would be kept until their mothers had been permanently
located somewhere and could send for them. Of course, we knew this was
a false reason.

I greatly feared for Mardiros, but he was so small they did not take
him. There must have been 500 boys with us who were between eight and
fifteen, and these all were gathered.

The little fellows were taken to the mayor’s palace. Then soldiers
marched them away, all the little ones crying and screaming. We heard
the cries a long time. When we arrived at Arabkir we were told by
other refugees there that all the boys were killed as soon as they had
crossed the hills into the valley just outside Hassan-Chelebi. The
soldiers tied them in groups of ten and fifteen and then slew them with
swords and bayonets. Refugees passing that way from Sivas saw their
bodies on the road.

Before we left Hassan-Chelebi, Tcherkess Kior Kassim, the hangman, came
among us, with a company of zaptiehs and picked out twelve very young
girls--most of them between eight and twelve years old. The hangman was
going soon to Constantinople, the soldiers said, and wanted young girls
to sell to rich Turks of powerful families, among whom it is the custom
to buy pretty girls of this age, whenever possible, and keep them in
their harems until they mature. They are raised as Mohammedans and are
later given to sons of their owners, or to powerful friends.

Just outside Hassan-Chelebi, which we left in the afternoon, we were
joined by a party of 3,000 refugees from Sivas. They, too, were on
their way to Arabkir, and had encamped outside the city to wait for
us. Among them was a company of twenty Sisters of Grace. These dear
Sisters, several of whom were Europeans, had been summoned at midnight
from their beds by the Kaimakam, or under-governor. When the Turkish
soldiers went for them they were disrobed, sleeping. The soldiers
would not permit them to dress, but took them as they were, barefooted
and in their nightgowns.

They had managed, during the long days out of Sivas, to borrow other
garments, but none had shoes and their feet were torn and bleeding.
They were very delicate and gentle, and all had received their
education in American or European schools. They had demanded exemption
from the deportation under certain concessions made their convent by
the Sultan, but the soldiers ignored their pleas.

Instead of arousing some slight respect upon the part of their guards
because of their holy station, these Sisters had been subjected to
the worst possible treatment. They told us that every night after
their party left Sivas the soldiers and zaptiehs took them away from
the party and violated them. They begged for death, but even this was
refused them. Two of them, Sister Sarah and Sister Esther, who had come
from America, had killed themselves. They had only their hands--no
other weapons, and the torture and agonies they endured while taking
their own lives were terrible.

The refugees from Sivas included the men. There were more than 25,000
Armenians in that city, and all were notified they were to be taken
away. The party which joined ours was the first to be sent out. They
had passed many groups of corpses along the road, they reported, the
reminder of deportations from other cities.

When we arrived at Arabkir we were ordered to encamp at the edge of the
city. Parties of exiles from many villages between Arabkir and Sivas
already were there. Some of them still had their men and boys with
them, others told us how their men had been killed along the route.

The Armenians of Arabkir itself were awaiting deportation, herded in
a party of 8,000 or more, near where we halted. They had been waiting
five days, and did not know what had happened to their homes in the
city.

A special official came from Sivas to take charge of the deportations
at Arabkir. With him came a company of zaptiehs. Halil Bey, a great
military leader, with his staff, also was there, on his way to
Constantinople where he was to take command of an army.

In the center of the city there was a large house which had been used
by the prosperous Armenian shops. On the upper floors were large rooms
which had been gathering places. Already this house had come to be
known as the Kasab-Khana--the “butcher-house”--for here the leading men
of the city had been assembled and slain.

Shortly after the special official’s arrival soldiers summoned all
the men still with the Sivas exiles, to a meeting with him on the
Kasab-Khana. The men feared to go, but were told there would be no
more cruelties now that high authority was represented. The men went,
two thousand of them, and were killed as soon as they reached the
Kasab-Khana. Soldiers were in hiding on the lower floors and as the
men gathered in the upper rooms the doors were closed and the soldiers
went about the slaughter. Men leaped out of the windows as fast as they
could, but soldiers caught them on their bayonets.

The bodies were thrown out of the house later in the day. The next
morning they were still piled in the streets when the official called
for the girls who had been attending the Christian colleges and schools
at Sivas, and the Mission at Kotcheseur, an Armenian town near Sivas.
There were two hundred of these girls, all of them members of the
better families, and all between fifteen and twenty years old. The
soldiers said the official had arranged for them to be sent under the
care of missionaries to a school near the coast, where they would be
protected.

The girls were summoned to the Kasab-Khana. It was then we learned, for
the first time, what had happened to the men the day before. They stood
in line but a few yards from the great piles of the bodies still lying
in the street.

The official received them in a room on the upper floor of the house,
which still bore the stains of blood on the walls and floors. He asked
them to renounce Christ and accept Allah. Only a few agreed--these were
taken away, where, I do not know. The rest were left in the room by the
official and his staff. As soon as the officers had left the building
the soldiers poured into the room, sharing the girls among them. All
day and night soldiers went into and came out of the house. Nearly all
the girls died. Those who were alive when the soldiers were weary were
sent away under an escort of zaptiehs.



CHAPTER VI

RECRUITING FOR THE HAREMS OF CONSTANTINOPLE


The exiles from my city were kept in a camp outside Arabkir. On the
third day the hills around us suddenly grew white with the figures of
Aghja Daghi Kurds. They waited until nightfall then they rode down
among us. There were hundreds of them, and when they were weary of
searching the women for money, they began to gather up girls and young
women.

I tried to conceal myself when a little party of the Kurds came near.
But I was too late. They took me away, with a dozen other girls and
young wives this band had caught. They carried us on their horses
across the valley, over the hills and into the desert beyond. There
they stripped us of what clothes still were on our bodies. With their
long sticks they subdued the girls who were screaming, or who resisted
them--beat them until their flesh was purple with flowing blood. My
own heart was too full--thinking of my poor, wounded mother. I could
not cry. I was not even strong enough to fight them when they began to
take the awful toll which the Turks and Kurds take from their women
captives.

When the Kurds were tired of mistreating us they hobbled us, still
naked, to their horses. Each girl, with her hands tied behind her back,
was tied by the feet to the end of a rope fastened around a horse’s
neck. Thus they left us--neither we nor the horses could escape.

I have often wondered since I came to America, where life is so
different from that of my country, if any of the good people whom I
meet could imagine the sufferings of that night while I lay in the
moonlight, my hands fastened and my feet haltered to the restless
animal.

There seems to be so little of tragedy in this country--so little of
real suffering. I can hardly believe yet, though I have been free so
many months now, that there is a land where there is no punishment for
believing in God.

When the dawn broke the Kurds came out to untie their horses. It is
characteristic of even the fiercest Kurds that their captives always
are fed. The Kurds will rob and terribly mistreat their victims,
especially the women of the Christians, but they will not steal their
food. When their captives have no food they will even share with
them. The Kurd is more of a child than the Turk, and nearly all the
wickedness of these bandits of the desert is inspired by their Turkish
masters.

When we had eaten of the bread and drank the water they brought for
us, the Kurds lifted us upon their horses and galloped toward the
north. There were more girls than Kurds, and we were shifted frequently
that double burdens might be shared among the horses.

We did not know where we were being taken, nor to what. After many
hours of riding I was shifted to the care of a Kurd who--either because
he was kinder or liked to talk--answered my pleading questions. He told
me a great Pasha was at Egin, a city to the north, who had come down
from Constantinople especially to take an interest in Armenian girls.
This Pasha, the Kurd said, even paid money to have Christian girls who
were healthy and pleasing brought before him.

Egin is on the banks of the Kara Su. From Erzindjan, Shabin Kara-Hissar
and Niksar, large northern cities, thousands of Armenians had been
brought to Egin. Here special bands of soldiers had been stationed to
superintend the massacres of these Christians. All around the hills and
plains outside the city huge piles of corpses were still uncovered.
We passed long ditches which had been dug by convicts released from
Turkish prisons for that purpose, and in which an attempt had been made
to bury the bodies of the Armenians. But the convicts had been in such
a hurry to get done the work for which they were to be given their
liberty, that the legs and arms of men and women still stuck out from
the sand which had been scraped over them.

There had been many rich Armenian families in Egin. It was the meeting
place of the rich caravans from Samsoun, Trebizond and Marsovan, bound
for Harpout and Diyarbekir. For many years the Turkish residents and
the Armenians had been good neighbors. When the first orders for the
deportation and massacres reached Egin the rich Armenian women ran to
their Turkish friends, the wives of rich aghas and beys, and begged
them for an intercession in their behalf. There was at that time an
American missionary at the hospital in Egin who had been an interpreter
attached to the American Embassy at Constantinople. He procured
permission from the Kaimakam to appeal by the telegraph to the American
Ambassador, Mr. Morgenthau, for the Christian residents of the city.

In the meantime the rich Armenian women gave all their jewels and
household silver and other valuables to the wives of the Turkish
officials, and in this way obtained promises that they would not
be molested until word had come from Constantinople. The American
Ambassador secured from Talaat Bey, the Minister of the Interior, and
Enver Pasha, the Minister of War, permission for the Armenians of Egin
to remain undisturbed in their homes.

There was great rejoicing then among the Christians of Egin. A few
days later the first company of exiles from the villages to the west
reached the city on their way to the south. They had walked for three
days and had been cruelly mistreated by the zaptiehs guarding them.
Their girls had been carried off and their young women had been the
playthings of the soldiers. They were famished also for water and
bread, and the Turks would give them none.

The Armenians of Egin were heart-stricken at the condition of these
exiles, but they feared to help them. The refugees were camped at night
in the city square. During the night the zaptiehs and soldiers made
free with the young women still among the exiles and their screams
deepened the pity of the residents. In the morning the Armenian priest
of the city could stand it no longer--he went into the square with
bread and water and prayers. The Kaimakam had been watching for just
such an occurrence!

He sent soldiers to bring the priest before him. He also sent for
twenty of the principal Armenian business men and had them brought into
the room. As soon as the Armenians arrived his soldiers set upon the
priest and began to torture him, to pull out his hair and twist his
fingers and toes with pincers, which is a favorite Turkish torture. The
soldiers kept asking him as they twisted their pincers:

“Did you not advise them to resist? Did you not take arms to them
concealed in bread?”

The priest screamed denials. The twenty men had been lined up at one
side of the room. In his trickery the Kaimakam had stationed his
soldiers at a distance from the Armenians. When the torture of the
priest continued and his screams died away into groans the Armenians
could stand it no longer. They threw themselves upon the torturers--not
to assault them, but to beg mercy for the holy man. Then the soldiers
leaped upon them and killed them all.

The Kaimakam reported to Constantinople that it was impossible longer
to obey the Ministry’s orders to allow the Armenians in Egin to
remain--that they had revolted and attacked his soldiers and that he
had been forced to kill twenty of them. Talaat Bey sent back the famous
reply which now burns in the heart of every Armenian in the world--no
matter where he or she is--for they all have heard of it. Talaat Bey’s
reply was:

“Whatever you do with Christians is amusing.”

After this reply from Talaat Bey, the Kaimakam issued a proclamation
giving the Armenians of Egin just two hours to prepare for deportation.
The women besieged the officers and said to them: “See, we have given
our precious stones to your wives, and we have given them many liras
to give to you. Your wives promised us protection, and we have done
nothing to abuse your confidence. Our men did not attack your soldiers
in violence.”

But the officers would only make light of them. “We would have gotten
your jewels and your money anyway,” they replied.

In two hours they had assembled--all the Armenians in the city. The
soldiers went among them and seized many of the young women. These they
took to a Christian monastery just outside the city, where there were
several other Armenian girls residing as pupils.

The Armenians had many donkeys and horse carriages. The mayor had told
them they might travel with these. The soldiers tied the women in
bunches of five, wrapped them tightly with ropes, and threw one bunch
in each cart. Then they drove away the donkeys and horses and forced
the men to draw these carts in which their womenfolk were bound. The
soldiers would not let husbands or brothers or sons talk to their
womenfolk, no matter how loudly they cried as the carts were pulled
along.

An hour outside the city the soldiers killed the men. Then they untied
the women and tormented them. After many hours they killed the women
who survived.

The Kaimakam sent his officers to the monastery where the young women
were imprisoned. They took with them Turkish doctors, who examined the
captives and selected the ones who were healthy and strong. Of these,
the Turks required all who were maidens to stand apart from those who
were not. The brides and young wives then were told they would be sent
to Constantinople, to be sold there either as concubines or as slaves
to farmer Turks. The maidens were told they might save their lives if
they would forswear their religion and accept Mohammed. Some of them
were so discouraged they agreed. An Imam said the rek’ah with them, and
they were sent away into the hopeless land--to be wives or worse.

One maiden, the daughter of an Armenian leader who had been a deputy
from that district to the Turkish Parliament, was especially pretty,
and one of the officers wanted her for himself. He said to her:

“Your father, your mother, your brother and your two sisters have been
killed. Your aunts and your uncles and your grandfather were killed. I
wish to save you from the suffering they went through, and the unknown
fate that will befall these girls who are Mohammedan now, and the
known fate which will befall those who have been stubborn. Now, be a
good Turkish girl and you shall be my wife--I will make you, not a
concubine, but a wife, and you will live happily.”

What the girl replied was so well remembered by the Turks who heard her
that they told of it afterward among themselves until it was known
through all the district. She looked quietly into the face of the
Turkish officer and said:

“My father is not dead. My mother is not dead. My brother and sisters,
and my uncle and aunt and grandfather are not dead. It may be true you
have killed them, but they live in Heaven. I shall live with them. I
would not be worthy of them if I proved untrue to their God and mine.
Nor could I live in Heaven with them if I should marry a man I do not
love. God would not like that. Do with me what you wish.”

Soldiers took her away. No one knows what became of her. The other
maidens who had refused to “turn” were given to soldiers to sell to
aghas and beys. So there was none left alive of the Christians of Egin,
except the little handful of girls in the harems of the rich--worse
than dead.

When the Kurds carried me and the other girls they had stolen with me,
into Egin they rode into the center of the city. We begged them to
avoid the crowds of Turkish men and women on the streets because of our
nakedness. They would not listen.

We were taken into the yard of a large building, which I think must
have been a Government building. There we found, in pitiable condition,
hundreds of other young Armenian women, who had been stolen from bands
of exiles from the Erzindjan and Sivas districts. Some had been there
several days. Many were as unclothed as we were. Some had lost their
minds and were raving. All were being held for an audience with the
great Pasha, who had arrived at Egin only the night before.

This Pasha, we learned soon after our arrival, was the notorious Kiamil
Pasha, of Constantinople. He was very old now, surely not less than
eighty years, yet he carried himself very straight and firm. Once, many
years before, he had been the governor of Aleppo and had become famous
throughout the world for his cruelties to the Christians then. It was
said he was responsible for the massacres of 1895, and that he had been
removed from office once at the request of England, only to be honored
in his retirement by appointment to a high post at Constantinople.

With Kiamil Pasha there was Boukhar-ed-Din-Shakir Bey, who, I afterward
learned, was an emissary of Talaat Bey and Enver Pasha.

A regiment of soldiers had come from Constantinople with Kiamil Pasha,
and had camped just outside the city. This regiment later became known
as the “Kasab Tabouri,” the “butcher regiment,” for it participated in
the massacre of more than 50,000 of my people, under Kiamil Pasha’s
orders.

Kiamil Pasha and Boukhar-ed-Din-Shakir Bey came to the building where
we were kept and sat behind a table in a great room. We were taken in
twenty at a time. Even those who were nude were compelled to stand in
the line which faced his table.

The pasha and the bey looked at us brutally when we stood before them.
That which happened to those who went to the audience with me, was what
happened to all the others.

“His Majesty the Sultan, in his kindness of heart, wishes to be
merciful to you, who represent the girlhood of treacherous Armenia,”
said Boukhar-ed-Din-Shakir, while Kiamil looked at us silently. “You
have been selected from many to receive the blessing of His Majesty’s
pity. You are to be taken to the great cities of Islam, where you will
be placed under imperial protection in schools to be established for
you, and where you may learn of those things which it is well for you
to know, and forget the teachings of unbelievers. You will be kindly
treated and given in marriage as opportunity arises into good Moslem
homes, where your behavior will be the only measure of your content.”

Those were his words, as truly as I can remember them. No girl answered
him. We knew better than to put faith in Turkish promises, and we knew
what even that promise implied--apostasy.

“Those of you who are willing to become Moslems will state their
readiness,” the bey continued.

Though I cannot understand them, I cannot blame those who gave way now.
The Pasha and the Bey said nothing more. They just burned us with
their cold, glittering eyes, and waited. The strain was too terrible.
Almost half the girls fell upon their knees or into the arms of
stronger girls, and cried that they would agree.

Boukhar-ed-Din-Shakir waved his hand toward the soldiers, who escorted
or carried these girls into another room. We never heard of them again.
Kiamil still looked coldly and silently at those of us who had refused.
The Bey said not a word either, but raised his hand again. Then
soldiers began to beat us with long, cruel whips.

We fell to the floor under the blows. The soldiers continued to beat us
with slow, measured strokes--I can feel them now, those steady, cutting
slashes with the whips the Turks use on convicts whom they bastinado to
death. A girl screamed for mercy and shouted the name of Allah. They
carried her into the other room. Another could not get the words out of
her throat. She held out her arms toward the Pasha and the Bey, taking
the blows from the whip on her hands and wrists until they saw that she
had given in. Then she, too, was carried out. Others fainted, only to
revive under the blows that did not stop.

Twice I lost consciousness. The second time I did not come to until it
was over and, with others who had remained true to our religion, had
been left in the courtyard.

I think there were more than four hundred young women in the yard when
I first was taken into it. Not more than twenty-five were with me
now--all the rest had been beaten into apostasy. No one can tell what
became of them. It was said Kiamil and Boukhar-ed-Din-Shakir sent more
than a thousand Armenian girls to Kiamil’s estates on the Bosphorus,
where they were cared for until their prettiness had been recovered
and their spirits completely broken, when they were distributed among
the rich beys and pashas who were the political associates of Kiamil,
Boukhar-ed-Din-Shakir Bey, and Djevdet Bey of Van.

We were kept in the courtyard four days, with nothing to eat but a bit
of bread each day. Three of the young women died of their wounds. Often
Turkish men and women would come to look into the yard and mock us.
Turkish boys sometimes were allowed to throw stones at us.

On the fourth day we were taken out by zaptiehs to join a party of a
thousand or more women and children who had arrived during the night
from Baibourt. All the women in this party were middle-aged or very
old, and the children were very small. What girls and young women were
left when the party reached Egin, had been kept in the city for Kiamil
and Boukhar-ed-Din-Shakir Bey to dispose of. The older boys had been
stolen by Circassians. There were almost no babies, as these either had
died when their mothers were stolen or had been killed by the soldiers.

With this party we went seven hours from the city and were halted there
to wait for larger parties of exiles from Sivas and Erzindjan, which
were to meet at that point on the way to Diyarbekir.

Both these parties had to pass through Divrig Gorge, which was near by.
The exiles from Erzindjan never reached us. They were met at the gorge
by the Kasab Tabouri, the butcher regiment, and all were killed. There
were four thousand in the party. Just after this massacre was finished
the exiles from Sivas came into the gorge from the other side.

The soldiers of the Kasab Tabouri were tired from their exertions in
killing the 4,000 exiles from Erzindjan such a short time before, so
they made sport out of the reception of those from Sivas, who numbered
more than 11,000 men, women and children.

Part of the regiment stood in line around the bend of the gorge until
the leaders of the Armenians came into view. Panic struck the exiles
at once, and they turned to flee, despite their guards. But they found
a portion of the regiment, which had been concealed, deploying behind
them and cutting off their escape from the trap.

As the regiment closed in, thousands of the women, with their babies
and children in their arms, scrambled up the cliffs on either side of
the narrow pass, helped by their men folk, who remained on the road to
fight with their hands and sticks against the armed soldiers.

But the zaptiehs who accompanied the party surrounded the base of the
cliffs and kept the women from escaping. Then the Kasab Tabouri killed
men until there were not enough left to resist them. Scores of men
feigned death among the bodies of their friends, and thus escaped with
their lives.

Part of the soldiers then scaled the cliffs to where the women were
huddled. They took babies from the arms of mothers and threw them over
the cliffs to comrades below, who caught as many as they could on their
bayonets. When babies and little girls were all disposed of this way,
the soldiers amused themselves awhile making women jump over--prodding
them with bayonets, or beating them with gun barrels until the women,
in desperation, jumped to save themselves. As they rolled down the base
of the cliff soldiers below hit them with heavy stones or held their
bayonets so they would roll onto them. Many women scrambled to their
feet after falling and these the soldiers forced to climb the cliffs
again, only to be pushed back over.

The Kasab Tabouri kept up this sport until it was dark. They were under
orders to pass the night at Tshar-Rahya, a village three hours from the
gorge, so when darkness came and they were weary even of this game they
assembled and marched away singing, some with babies on their bayonets,
others with an older child under their arms, greatly pleased with such
a souvenir. Some salvaged a girl from the human débris and made her
march along to unspeakable shame at the Tshar-Rahya barracks.

Only 300 of all the 11,000 exiles lived and were able to march under
the scourging of the handful of zaptiehs who remained to guard them.
They joined us where we had halted.



CHAPTER VII

MALATIA--THE CITY OF DEATH


Seven days after the massacre at Divrig Gorge, those of us who survived
the cruelties of our guards along the way, saw just ahead of us the
minarets of Malatia, one of the great converging points for the
hundreds of thousands of deported Armenians on their way to the Syrian
deserts which, by this time, I knew to be the destination of those who
were permitted to live. When the minarets came into view, I was much
excited by the hope that perhaps my mother’s party might have reached
there and halted, and that I might find her there.

When we drew close to the city we passed along the road that countless
other exiles had walked before. At the side of the road, in ridicule of
the Crucifixion and as a warning to such Christian girls as lived to
reach Malatia, the Turks had crucified on rough wooden crosses sixteen
girls. I do not know how long the bodies had been there, but vultures
already had gathered.

Each girl had been nailed alive upon her cross, great cruel spikes
through her feet and hands. Only their hair, blown by the wind, covered
their bodies.

“See,” said our guards with great satisfaction; “see what will happen
to you in Malatia if you are not submissive.”

In the vicinity of Malatia, and in the city itself, there were more
than twenty thousand refugees waiting to be sent on. Kurds were
camped outside in little bands, each with its “Claw chief,” waiting
to waylay and plunder the exiles. Arabs rode about the hills in the
distance--outlaw bands, who swooped down upon the Christians in the
night and stole the strongest of the women and girls for the harvesting
in the fields. Turkish beys and aghas, with here and there a dignified
pasha, rode out along the road to inspect each band of exiles as it
approached the city, their cruel, sensual eyes trying to pierce the
veils the younger girls wrapped about their faces to conceal their
youth and prettiness.

From Sivas, Tokat, Egin, Erzindjan, Kerasun, Samsoun and countless
smaller cities in the north, where the Armenians had had their homes
for centuries, they had all been started toward Malatia. All the rivers
in between were running red with blood; the valleys were great open
graves in which thousands of bodies were left unburied; mountain passes
were choked with the dead, and every rich Turk who kept a harem between
the Black Sea and the River Tigris, had one or more, sometimes a
score, of new concubines--Armenian girls who had been stolen for them
along the road to this city.

I often wonder if the good people of America know what the Armenians
are--their character. I sometimes fear Americans think of us as a nomad
people, or as people of a lower class. We are, indeed, different. My
people were among the first converts to Christ. They are a noble race,
and have a literature older than that of any other peoples in the world.

Very few Armenians are peasants. Nearly all are tradesmen, merchants,
great and small, financiers, bankers or educators. In my city alone
there were more than a score of business men or teachers who had
received their education at American colleges. Hundreds had attended
great European universities. My own education was received partly at
the American college at Marsovan and partly from private tutors. Many
Armenians are very wealthy. Few Turks are as fortunate in this respect
as the great Armenian merchants.

Of the twenty thousand Christians herded in Malatia, in camps outside
the city, in the public square or in houses set apart by the Turks
for that purpose, I think much more than half were the members of
well-to-do families, girls who had been educated either in Europe or
in great Christian colleges at home, such as that at Marsovan, Sivas
or Harpout, or in schools conducted by the Swiss, the Americans, the
English and the French. These girls had been taught music, literature
and art.

I want to tell what happened to one group of school girls near Malatia,
as it was told me by one of them.

At Kirk-Goz, a small city outside Malatia, there had been a German
school, where young Armenian women from all over the district were
sent to be taught by German teachers. The rule of the school was that
the money received from the rich Armenian girls for their tuition was
used in paying the expenses of poor girls. There were more than sixty
pupils at this school when the attack on the Armenians began. As the
school was under German protection, these girls considered themselves
safe, and their families were happy to think they were protected. Aziz
Bey, the Kaimakam, sent soldiers, however, with orders to bring all the
girls into Malatia, to be deported or worse. Mme. Roth, the principal,
refused to open the gates. She declared Eimen Effendi, the German
consular agent in that district, would demand reparation if any attack
on the school’s pupils were made.

Mme. Roth--who was a German and old--herself, went to Malatia to
consult Eimen Effendi. He told her Turkey was an ally of Germany,
that Turkey declared Armenians to be obnoxious, and that Germany,
therefore, must support the Sultan. He said the pupils would have to be
surrendered. Then the soldiers took them away. Each girl was permitted
to have a donkey, which the teachers bought in the city for them. They
started west, to Mezre, where, the authorities promised, the girls
would be taken care of in a dervish monastery.

Mme. Roth went, herself, before Aziz Bey and pleaded for the girls.
She told him she was ashamed of being a German since Eimen Effendi
had allowed such a horrible thing to be perpetrated with the consent
of Germany. She offered the Bey all her personal possessions, all
the money she had with her at Kirk-Goz, if he would return the girl
pupils and allow her to keep them with her. Mme. Roth was very wealthy.
She had more than 1,000 liras, and jewels worth much more. Aziz Bey
accepted the bribe and sent her, with an escort of soldiers, after the
young women.

Two days later Mme. Roth and her escort approached the crossing of the
river Tokma-Su, at the little village Keumer-Khan. There were tracks
on the plain which showed the party they sought had passed that way
but a little while before. Suddenly down the road toward them came an
unclothed girl, running madly and screaming in terror. When she came
near Mme. Roth and recognized her, the girl cried, “Teacher, teacher,
save me! Save me!”

The girl, whose name was Martha, and whose parents were rich people of
Zeitoun, threw herself on the ground at her teacher’s feet and clasped
them. “Save me! Save me!” she continued to scream. Mme. Roth gave her
drops of brandy from a bottle she had carried with her, and tried to
quiet her. Two zaptiehs from the guard which the bey had sent with the
school girls came running up. When Martha saw them she went mad again
and became unconscious. The zaptiehs tried to take possession of her
limp body, but Mme. Roth defied them. Her escort persuaded the zaptiehs
to go away. When Mme. Roth knelt again by the girl she was dead. Marks
on her body and bruises and wounds and her torn hair were evidences of
the struggle she had made to save herself.

Mme. Roth hurried on. She heard more screams as she neared the river
banks. She came upon two zaptiehs, sitting on the sand, prodding with a
pointed stick the bare shoulders of a girl whom they had buried in the
earth above her elbows. This was a favorite pastime of the zaptiehs of
the Euphrates provinces. They had commanded the girl to submit to them
quietly and she had fought them. To punish her and break her spirit
they buried her that way and tortured her. She screamed with pain and
fright, and this amused them greatly. When they wished the zaptiehs
would take her out, and then bury her again. It was from such torture
as this Martha had escaped.

The soldiers of Mme. Roth’s escort rescued the girl, at her command.
Mme. Roth left her with three soldiers and crossed the river. She
could hear screams from the other side. Once zaptiehs on the raft
taking them across the river broke into a loud guffaw. The oarsmen
steered the raft so as to escape two floating objects, and it was
these which amused them. Mme. Roth saw the bodies of two of her girls
floating down the river from where the screams came.

“Look--look there,” shouted a laughing zaptieh; “two more Christians
whom their Christ forgot!”

On the other side Mme. Roth found all who were left of her sixty or
more pupils--only seventeen. Their lives were saved only because the
zaptiehs had become weary. They were, too, the least pretty of the
original party. Mme. Roth took them all back to Malatia, where the
Kaimakam insisted that she house them. They were living there in
constant fear of being taken away again when I was taken from the city.

It was said by those who knew, that Mme. Roth refused to receive Eimen
Effendi when he called upon her after her return with her surviving
pupils. It is said she sent word to him that she was no longer German,
and would ask no protection except that which she could buy with gold
liras as long as she could obtain them from her relatives.

In every open space in the city and in every empty building Armenian
refugees were camped, hungry, footsore and dying, with little food or
water. In all our company there were not ten loaves of bread when we
entered the city. When we asked at the wells of Turks for water we were
spat at, and if soldiers were near the Turks would call them to drive
us away. Each day thousands of the refugees were taken away, and each
day thousands of others arrived from the north.

Inside the city there was no attempt to care for the arriving exiles.
Some of the men in our party finally led the way to a great building
which had been a barracks, but in which many thousands of Christians
had taken refuge. We seldom ventured out on the streets, for Turkish
boys and Kurds and Arabs thronged the streets and threw stones or
sticks at us, or, in the case of girls as young as I, carried them into
Turkish shops or low houses, and there outraged them.

When we had passed the second day in Malatia I could rest no longer
without seeking my mother--hoping that she and the Armenians of
Tchemesh-Gedzak might be among the other refugees. I went into the
street at night and went from place to place where exiles were herded.
Nowhere could I find familiar faces--people from my own city.

When morning came I could not find my way back to the building I had
left. Morning comes quickly in the midst of the plains, and soon it was
light, and I was in a part of the city where there were no exiles.

The streets of Malatia are very narrow, and there are few byways.
My bare feet were tired from walking all night on cobblestones and
pavements. I felt very tired--not as if I really were but little over
fourteen. I knew I would soon be carried into one of these Turkish
houses and lost, perhaps forever, if soldiers or gendarmes should catch
me at large. I hid in a little areaway.

Suddenly I realized that I was hugging the walls of a house over which
hung the American flag. A feeling of relief came over me. The American
flag is very beautiful to the eyes of all Armenians! For many years it
has been to my people the promise of peace and happiness. We had heard
so much of the wonderful country it represented. Armenia always has
thought of the United States as a friend ever ready to help her.

When the street was clear I left my hiding place and went to the
door of the house. I rapped, but Turks entered the street just then
and spied me. They were citizens, not soldiers, but they shouted and
started to run at me, recognizing me perhaps from the bits of garments
which I had managed to gather to cover my body, as an Armenian.

I screamed and pushed at the door. It opened, and I found myself in the
arms of a woman who was hurrying to let me in.

I was too frightened to explain. The Turks were at the door. I thought
I would be carried away. One of them pushed himself inside the door.
Another followed, and they reached out their hands to take me.

The woman, who was not Turkish, stepped in front of me. “What do you
want?--Why are you here?” she asked in Turkish. “The girl--we want her.
She has escaped,” they said.

The woman startled me by refusing to allow me to be taken. She told the
Turks they had no authority. When the men motioned as if to take me by
force she stepped in front of me and told them to remember that I was
her guest. One of the men said:

“The girl is an Armenian. She has run away from the rest of her people.
She has no right to be at large in the city. The Kaimakam has ordered
citizens to take into custody all Christians found outside quarters set
aside for them to rest in while halting on their way past the city.”

“Your Kaimakam’s orders have nothing to do with me. I shall protect the
girl. You dare not harm an American!” said my new friend. The Turks,
grumbling among themselves, and threatening vengeance, went out.

The young woman told me she was Miss McLaine, an American missionary.
The house was the home of the American consul at Malatia, but he had
taken his wife, who was ill, to Harpout. Miss McLaine kept the flag
flying while they were gone. She had tried to persuade the officials to
be less cruel to the refugees, but could do very little. She had been
a pupil of Dr. Clarence Ussher, the noted American missionary surgeon,
of New York, and Mrs. Ussher, both of whom were famous throughout
Armenia for their kindness to our people during the massacres at Van.
Mrs. Ussher lost her life at Van.

Late that day a squad of soldiers came from the Kaimakam to the
consul’s house and demanded that I be given up. Miss McLaine again
refused to surrender me. The soldiers declared they had orders to take
me by force. Miss McLaine asked that they take her to the Kaimakam that
she might ask his protection for me. To this the soldiers agreed, and I
was left alone in the house.

When Miss McLaine returned she was crying. The soldiers returned with
her. The Kaimakam had said I must rejoin the exiles, but that I might
be taken to a house where a large company of women who had embraced
Mohammedanism were confined, with their children. This company, the
mayor said, was to be protected until they reached a place selected by
the government.

So Miss McLaine could do nothing more. She kissed me, and the soldiers
led me away to the house where the apostasized women with their
children were quartered.

These apostasized Armenians were nearly all women from small cities
between Malatia and Sivas. None of them really had given up
Christianity, but they thought they were doing right, as nearly all
the women were the mothers of small children who were with them. They
wanted to save the lives of their little ones. They did not know what
was to become of them, but the beys had promised they would be taken
care of by the government.

This party of exiles was fed by the Turks--bread, water and coarse
cakes. We were not allowed out of the house, but the Turks did not
bother us. I soon had occasion to realize that the Kaimakam really had
given me at least some protection when he allowed me to join this party.

In some of the companies waiting in Malatia the men had not been
killed. One day the soldiers gathered all of these into one big party.
The mayor wanted them to register, the soldiers said, so allotments of
land could be made them at their destination in the south. So earnest
were the soldiers the men believed them. Many went without even putting
on their coats. They were marched to the building in which I had first
been quartered, and from which other refugees had been taken out the
night before.

Almost 3,000 men were thus assembled. Outside soldiers took up their
station at the doors and windows. Other soldiers then robbed the men
of their money and valuables--such as they had saved from Kurds along
the road, and then began killing them. When bodies had piled so high
the soldiers could not reach survivors without stumbling in blood, then
they used their rifles, and killed the remainder with bullets.

That afternoon soldiers visited all the camps of refugees and took
children more than five years old. I think there must have been eight
or nine thousand of these. The soldiers came even to the house in which
I was with the “turned” Armenians, and despite the promises of the
mayor took all our boys and girls. When mothers clung to their little
ones and begged for them the soldiers beat them off. “If they die now
your God won’t be troubled by having to look after them till they grow
up,” the soldiers said--and always with a brutal laugh.

They took the children to the edge of the city, where a band of Aghja
Daghi Kurds was waiting. Here the soldiers gave the children into
the keeping of the Kurds, who drove them off toward the Tokma River,
just outside the city. The Kurds drove the little ones like a flock
of sheep. At the river banks the boys were thrown into the river. The
girls were taken to Turkish cities, to be raised as Mohammedans.



CHAPTER VIII

IN THE HAREM OF HADJI GHAFOUR


After the massacre of the men all the exiles waiting in Malatia were
told to prepare for the road again. We were assembled outside the city
early one morning. Only women and some children, with here and there an
old man, were left. We were told we were to be taken to Diyarbekir, a
hundred miles across the country. Very few had hopes of surviving this
stage of the journey, as the country was thickly dotted with Turkish,
Circassian and Kurdish villages, and inhabited by most fanatical
Moslems. Civilians were more cruel to the deportees along the roads
between the larger cities, than the soldiers. Some of the treatment
suffered by our people from these fanatical residents of small towns
was such that I cannot even write of it.

When the column was formed, outside Malatia, it was made up of fifteen
thousand women, young and old. Very few had any personal belongings.
Few had food. Many had managed to hold onto money, however, and these
were ready to share what they had with those who had none. Money was
the only surety of enough food to sustain life on the long walk, and
the only hope of protection against a zaptieh’s lust for killing.

The company of apostates which I had been permitted to join was placed
at the head of the column, with a special guard of soldiers. Zaptiehs
guarded the other companies, but there were very few assigned. Most
of the zaptiehs in that district had been placed in the Mesopotamian
armies. My party of apostates, of which there were about two hundred,
was the best guarded. The others were wholly at the mercy of Kurds and
villagers.

It was now late in June, and very hot. Scores of aged women dropped to
the ground, prostrated by heat and famished for water, of which there
was only that which we could beg from farmers along the way. The mother
of two girls in my party, who, with her daughters, already had walked
a hundred miles into Malatia, was beaten because she fell behind. She
fell to the ground and could not get up. The soldiers would not let us
revive her. Her two daughters could only give her a farewell kiss and
leave her by the roadside.

One of these two girls was a bride--a widowed bride. She had seen her
husband and father killed in the town of Kangai, on the Sivas road, and
when the Kurds were about to kill her mother because she was old, she
begged a Turkish officer, who was near by, to save her. The officer
had asked her if she would renounce her religion to save her mother,
and she consented--she and her younger sister.

The sisters walked on with their arms about each other. They dared not
even look around to where their mother lay upon the ground. When we
could hear the woman’s moans no longer I walked over to them and asked
them to let me stay near them. I knew how they must feel. I wondered if
my own mother and my little brothers and sisters had lived. A soldier
in Malatia had told me exiles from Tchemesh-Gedzak had passed through
there weeks before and had gone, as we were going, toward Diyarbekir.
Perhaps, he said, they might still be there when we arrived--if we ever
did.

A few hours outside the city we were halted. We were much concerned by
this, as such incidents usually meant new troubles. This time was no
exception. As soon as we stopped villagers flocked down upon us and
began to rob us.

Just before sundown a loud cry went up. We looked to the east, where
there was a wide pass through the hills, and saw a band of horsemen
riding down upon us. They were Kurds, as we could tell from the way
they rode. The villagers shouted--“It is Kerim Bey, the friend of
Djebbar. It is well for us to scatter!” They then scrambled back into
the hills, afraid, it seemed, the Kurd chieftain would not welcome
their foraging among his prospective victims.

To say that Kerim Bey was “a friend of Djebbar” explained his coming
with his band. Djebbar Effendi was the military commandant of the
district, sent by the government at Constantinople to oppress Armenians
during the deportations. His word was law, and always it was a cruel
word. Kerim Bey was the most feared of the Kurd chiefs--he and Musa
Bey. Both were of the Aghja Daghi Kurds. Kerim Bey and his band ruled
the countryside, and frequently revolted against the Turks. To keep him
as an ally Djebbar Effendi had given into his keeping many companies of
exiled Armenians sent from Malatia to Diyarbekir and beyond.

There were hundreds of horsemen in Kerim’s band. They had ridden far
and were tired, too tired to take up the march in the moonlight,
but not too tired to begin at once the nightly revels which kept us
terrorized for so many days after. Scarcely had they hobbled their
horses in little groups that stretched along the side of the column
when they began to collect their toll. Screams and cries for mercy and
the groans of mothers and sisters filled the night.

I saw terrible things that night which I cannot tell. When I see them
in my dreams now I scream, so even though I am safe in America, my
nights are not peaceful. A group of these Kurds so cruelly tortured
one young woman that women who were near by became crazed and rushed
in a body at the men to save the girl from more misery. For a moment
the Kurds were trampled under the feet of the maddened women, and the
girl was hurried away.

When they recovered, the Kurds drew their long, sharp knives and set
upon the brave women and killed them all. I think there must have been
fifty of them. They piled their bodies together and set fire to their
clothes. While some fanned the blaze others searched for the girl who
had been rescued, but they could not find her. So, baffled in this,
they caught another girl and carried her to the flaming pile and threw
her upon it. When she tried to escape they threw her back until she was
burned to death.

When the Kurds approached my party of apostates, the soldiers with us
turned them away. “You may do as you wish with the others--these are
protected,” said the Turkish officer in charge. But this same officer
was not content to be only a spectator while the Kurds were reveling.

Five soldiers came from his tent and sought a young woman they thought
would please their chief. They tore aside the veils of women whose
forms suggested they might be young, until they came upon a girl from
the town of Derenda, toward Sivas. She was very pretty, but one of the
soldiers, when they were dragging her off, recognized her.

“Kah!” he grunted to his comrades. “This one will not do. She is no
longer a maid!” They pushed her aside and sought further. But each girl
they laid their hands on after that cried to them, “I, too, am not a
virgin!” Each one was given a blow and thrust aside when she claimed to
have been already shamed.

Soon the soldiers saw they were being cheated of the choicest prey.
They turned upon some older women and seized three. One of them they
forced to her knees and two of the soldiers held her head back between
their hands until her face was turned to the stars. Another soldier
pressed his thumbs upon her eyeballs, and said:

“If there be no virgin among you, then by Allah’s will this woman’s
eyes come out!”

There was a cry of horror, then a shriek. A girl who must have been
of my own age, and whom I had often noticed because her hair was so
much lighter than that of nearly all Armenian girls, threw herself,
screaming, upon the ground at the soldiers’ feet. Winding her hands
about the legs of the soldier whose thumbs were pressing against the
woman’s eyes, she cried:

“My mother! my mother! Spare her--here I am--I am still a maid!”

The soldiers seized the girl, guffawing loudly at the success of their
plan. As they lifted her between them she flung out her hands toward
the woman, who had fallen in a heap when the soldiers released her.
“Mother,” the girl screamed, “kiss me--kiss me!”

The poor woman struggled to her feet and reached out her arms, but her
eyes were hurt and she could not see. The girl begged the soldiers to
carry her to her mother. “I will go--I will go, and be willing--but let
me kiss my mother!” she cried. But the soldiers hurried her away.

The mother stood, leaning on those who crowded close to comfort her.
Then, suddenly, she drooped and sank to the ground. When we bent
over her she was dead. We sat by the body until the daughter came
back--after the moon had crossed the sky, and it must have been
midnight. The girl hid her face when she came near, until she could
bury it in her mother’s shawl. She sat by the body until morning, when
we took up our march again.

Every night such things happened.

Other parties along that road had fared the same. Sometimes I counted
the bodies of exiles who had preceded us until I could count no longer.
They lay at the roadside, where their guards had left them, for miles.

On the eleventh day we came to Shiro, the Turkish city where caravans
for Damascus spend the night in a large khan and then turn southward.
There are even more caravans now than there used to be, for now they
travel only to the Damascus railway and then return. Shiro is the home
of many Turks, who profit from traders, or who have retired from posts
of power and profit at Constantinople. It is not a large town, but more
a settlement of wealthy aghas.

We camped outside this little city. Early the next morning military
officers came out. Kerim Bey met them, and there was a short
conference. Then the Kurds began to gather the prettiest girls. They
tore them from their relatives and half dragged, half carried them to
where guards were placed to take charge of them.

All morning the Kurds carried young women away until more than a
hundred had been accepted by the officer from the city. Then the
apostates were ordered to join these weeping girls, and we were marched
into the town.

The narrow streets were crowded with Turks and Arabs. They hooted at
us, and made cruel jests as we passed. Among the apostates were many
old women, whose daughters had sworn to be Mohammedans to save them.
When the crowds saw these they laughed with ridicule. Once the citizens
swooped down upon the party and, unhindered by our guards, seized four
of the older women, stripped off their clothing and carried them away
on their shoulders, shouting in great glee. We never heard what became
of these. I think they were just tossed about by the crowd until they
died.

We were taken to a house which we soon learned was the residence of
Hadji Ghafour, one of the largest houses in the city. Only devout
Moslems who have made the pilgrimage to Mecca may be called “Hadji.”
Hadji Ghafour was looked up to as one of the most religious of men.

In the house of Hadji Ghafour we were crowded into a large room, with
bare stone walls, where camels and dromedaries were often quartered
over night.

Hadji Ghafour came into the room, accompanied by soldiers. We of the
apostate party had been put into one corner with Kurds to watch us.
Hadji Ghafour gave an order to his servants and they separated the most
pleasing girls and younger women from the others. Of these, with me
among them, there were only thirty. We were taken out of the room and
into another, not so large, on another floor of the house. The fate
of those who were not satisfactory to Hadji Ghafour I never learned.
A soldier told one of us they were allowed to rejoin the deportation
parties.

Those of us who had been chosen were taken to the hamman, or bath
chamber, and garments were brought for those whose clothes were frayed
or, as it was with some, who had almost none at all. Turkish women and
negro slave girls watched us in the bath and locked us up again.

At the end of an hour we heard steps. The door was opened and a huge
black slave, with other negroes behind him, summoned us. Frightened and
too cowed to ask questions or hold back, we followed the slave through
halls and up stairways, until we came to a huge rug-strewn chamber,
brilliantly lighted with lamps and candles. On divans heavy with
cushions, at one side of the room, sat Hadji Ghafour and a group of
other Turks who were of his class, all middle aged or older, none with
a kindly face.

Those of us who had been taken from the apostasized party stood to one
side, while a servant said, to the others:

“It is the will of Hadji Ghafour, whose house has given you refuge,
that you repay his kindness in saving you from the dangers that
confront your people by repenting of your unbelief and accept the grace
of Islam.”

The Turks made sounds of approval, and a turbanned Khateeb, or priest
of the mosque, entered the chamber, with an attendant who carried the
prayer rug. Behind him was a negro servant carrying a whip of bull’s
hide. The prayer rug was spread, and the Khateeb waited.

The Turks pointed to a shrinking girl and the servants pulled her out
“What say you?” the officer asked. “I belong to Christ--in His keeping
I must remain,” the girl replied. The negro’s whip fell across her
shoulders. When she screamed for mercy the Khateeb bared his feet,
stepped upon the prayer rug and turned to Mecca. “Allah is most great;
there is no God but Allah!” his voice droned. The negro flung the girl
onto the carpet. He held his cruel whip ready to strike again if she
did not quickly kneel. Her face also turned to Mecca as she stumbled to
her knees. Her flesh already was torn and bleeding. Terror of the whip
was in her heart. To escape it she could only say the rek’ah--“There is
no God but Allah and Mohammed is his prophet.”

When the last one had recited the sacrilegious creed the Khateeb folded
the prayer rug and left the room. Hadji Ghafour, smiling now, ordered
us all to stand before his guests again. All were apostates now except
me, whom the Turks thought had previously taken the oath, else I would
not have been in the party which I had joined. The law as well as Hadji
Ghafour’s piousness allowed them to do with us now as they chose.

One by one they selected us, according to their fancies--Hadji Ghafour
first, and then his guests. How they had arranged the order of choice
I do not know, but they had agreed among themselves. There were five
or six girls for each of the Turks. I was among those ordered aside
for Hadji Ghafour, who had also chosen the two daughters who had been
compelled to leave their mother dying on the Sivas road.

The two sisters had been very quiet all that day. They had spoken but
little to any of the rest of us since we were taken into the house of
Hadji Ghafour. Nor had they cried--afterwards I remembered how their
faces that day seemed to be bright with a great courage.

The girls chosen by the guests of Hadji Ghafour were taken away in
separate groups to the houses of those who claimed their bodies. When
these guests and their captives had gone Hadji Ghafour again summoned
us. It was one of the sisters, the elder, to whom he spoke first. His
words were terrible. He asked her, oh, so cruelly low and soft, if she
were willing to belong to him, body and soul, to live contented in his
house, to be obedient and--affectionate in her submission.

The girl waited not an instant. “I had renounced my God to save my
mother, but it availed me nothing. Her life was taken. I have given
myself to God--and I will not betray Him again!”

Hadji Ghafour motioned to his negro slave, who caught the girl in his
arms and carried her out of the room. Her sister had been standing near
her. Hadji Ghafour’s eyes fell upon her next.

“And you, my little one,” he said, just as low and soft. And he
repeated the questions to her he had spoken to her sister. She spoke
softly, too--softer than had her sister, yet just as firmly. “She was
my sister. With her I saw my mother die, and now you have taken her.
You may kill me also, but I will never submit to you.”

Those of us who watched looked with terror at Hadji Ghafour. This time
his eyes narrowed and glittered. “You have spoken well, my little one,”
he said, still so gently he might have been speaking to a beloved
daughter. “Perhaps I had better kill you as a warning to my other
little ones.”

The negro with the whip stood near. Hadji Ghafour did not even speak to
him--just motioned with his hands. Two other servants sprang forward.
Quickly they stripped the girl of her clothes. And then the whip fell
upon her naked body.

I shut my eyes so I could not see, but I could not shut out the sound
of the whip cutting into the flesh, again and again, until I lost
count. Even when the girl screamed no more and her moans died away the
whip did not stop for a long time. Then suddenly I realized the blows
had ceased. I opened my eyes and saw one of the servants lifting the
girl’s body from the floor. He held her by the waist, and her arms and
bleeding legs hung limp. She was dead.

None of us had courage after that. We gave Hadji Ghafour our promises.
We were taken out another door, this time to the women’s apartments,
where women of the household were waiting to receive us.



CHAPTER IX

THE RAID ON THE MONASTERY


The women of the haremlik had retired, except the three who awaited
our coming. These took us through a long, narrow corridor, lit only by
a single lamp, to a separate wing of the house. Through a curtained
doorway we entered a series of small stone-floored rooms, in which
women were sleeping. At last we came to a wooden door, which one of the
women opened, pushing us through. One of them lit a taper.

The room was barren, with not even a window. On the floor was a row of
sleeping rugs, but there were neither cushions nor pillows. The women
told us to remove our clothing, and took it from us as we obeyed.
Without another word the women left us, taking the taper with them and
locking the door.

Through the long night we waited--for what we did not know. We were
afraid to sleep, even if we could.

We knew morning had come when we heard the faint call to prayer from
some neighboring minaret. Soon the haremlik was astir. We trembled as
we waited for the door to open.

[Illustration: WAITING THEY KNOW NOT WHAT

The Armenians of a prosperous city assembled in front of the government
building, by order of the authorities. They are waiting to be deported.
Just outside the city they were massacred.]

It was a big negro who finally swung it wide, letting into the room
the light from the windows that opened from the other rooms of the
haremlik. One of the servant women who had received us the night before
entered after him.

For each of us the woman brought an entareh, or Turkish house dress,
and slippers and stockings. The dresses were of satin and linen, but
very plain. Though I wanted something with which to cover myself, I
could not help shrinking from the hated Turkish dresses. The woman saw
me and seemed to understand.

“You will have prettier things after a while--after your betrothal!”

After my betrothal!

When we had dressed, with the aid of the woman, she ordered us to
follow the negro. “What you will see now, according to the desire of
Hadji Ghafour, will serve to guide your conduct in the haremlik,” the
woman said.

The slave led us through a smaller room into a large chamber, in which
were gathered many excited women crowded about a window.

At the window-sill the slave peered out and then ordered us to draw
nearer. The window opened upon a wide court. Across the court were many
small windows. For a moment I saw nothing but the bleak stone wall.
Then my eyes lifted to a window higher up. I shrieked and recoiled.

The dead body of the elder sister of the girl who had been beaten to
death, the one who had been carried away when she defied Hadji Ghafour,
was hanging by its feet from a rope attached to the window-sill. The
girl’s arms had been tied behind her back and now hung away from her
body. Her hair was hanging from her swaying head. A bandage, still tied
over her mouth, had muffled her screams.

One of the girls with me, Lusaper, who had cried all night, fell to her
knees and became hysterical. The slave lifted her and tried to make her
look again. When he saw she was half mad he carried her to a couch at
the other side of the room and two little negro slave girls immediately
began to comfort her. Other women crowded around her, too. The slave
left us then, as did the woman servant who had been with us.

The women of the haremlik seemed to want to be very kind. The Turkish
women were older than the apostate women. Hadji Ghafour’s two wives
were not among them, as their apartments were elsewhere, and I do not
know what the relationship of the other women to him was, whether as
concubines or relatives. Nearly all the younger women were Armenian
girls who had been stolen. They were very sorry for us.

Food was brought in this chamber, and we ate together. Already I had
made up my mind to be as brave as I could and to hope and pray that I
might be delivered from that house.

All the Armenian girls in the haremlik had at one time passed through
just such experiences as had been ours the night before in the presence
of Hadji Ghafour. There were eight of them, and all had apostasized
with the hope of saving relatives, only to be taken to Hadji Ghafour’s
house upon their arrival at Geulik. Only one of them knew what had
become of her family. This one had seen her mother killed and her
sister taken by the Kurds on the road from Malatia.

Four days I remained in the haremlik without being summoned by Hadji
Ghafour. On the third day one of the other of the “new” girls came
back to us in the morning, quiet and ashamed, with her eyes downcast.
That same day the harem slaves took away her plain entareh and gave
her a richly embroidered dress. Such was the sign of her having been
“betrothed.”

We were not allowed outside the haremlik. Each night we were compelled
to say the Mohammedan prayers. I learned to say them aloud and
translate them in my mind into the words of Christian prayers. The
head servant of the haremlik, an elderly Turkish woman, who was as
kind to us as she could be, took occasion every day to warn us that if
we wished to live and be happy we must be pleasing to Hadji Ghafour.
Other women told us of girls who had come into the harem, never to
appear again after their “betrothal” to the master. When these things
were spoken of we could not help thinking of the body we saw hanging
from the window across the court--that was Hadji Ghafour’s way of
teaching us to be submissive.

We were not put in the dark, windowless room again. Once one of Hadji
Ghafour’s wives came into the harem to see us. She was middle-aged,
and from Bagdad. She once had been very beautiful, I think, but seemed
to be cruel and without affection. She had us brought before her and
questioned each one of us about our experiences in the deportations.
She seemed to want to trap us into admissions that we had not truly
become Mohammedans.

Among the Armenian girls in the harem was one who came from Perri, a
village between my own city and Harpout. During the nights she told
me of the massacres in her village, and how the Turks had spared her
because she accepted Islam, until they reached Malatia. There she had
been stolen, taken first to the home of a bey and then sent with other
Armenian girls to Geulik. She, too, had been taken straight to the
house of Hadji Ghafour. She had gone through with her “betrothal,” and
had found some favor in the eyes of the Turk.

This little girl was Arousiag Vartessarian, whose father, Ohannes,
had owned much land. She had been educated at Constantinople. In
Constantinople she learned of the American, Mr. Cleveland Dodge, of New
York, who has done so much for education in Turkey. Since I have come
to America I have learned that this same Mr. Cleveland Dodge is the
best friend the Armenians have in all the world.

Arousiag was secretly Christian still. But she did not hope ever to
escape from the harem. She told me Hadji Ghafour kept Armenian girls
only until he had tired of them or until prettier ones were available.
Then he sent them to his friends, or to be sold to Turkish farmers. She
had tried to please him, so she would not be sold into an even worse
state, for sometimes a girl who falls into the slave market will be
sold into a public house for soldiers and zaptiehs.

On the evening of the fifth day my heart sank and my knees grew weak
when a little negro slave girl came to tell me Hadji Ghafour had sent
for me.

The servant women gathered around me, each professing not to understand
why I was not elated. Only when my tears fell did they cease their
jesting at the arrival--“at last,” they said, of the hour of my supreme
torture--my “good fortune” they called it.

While I was being dressed I closed my eyes and prayed--not to be saved,
for that was too late, but for strength and for the joy of knowing that
God would be watching over me. One of the harem women walked with me
down the narrow corridor and through the door I had not passed since I
left Hadji Ghafour’s presence five days before.

The lights of many lamps glowed in the room. Just inside the door the
big negro was waiting. Across, on his cushions, with his nargilleh on
the floor beside him, sat Hadji Ghafour. His eyes were full upon me
when I stopped at the sound of the door closing behind me.

He motioned for me to approach and sit upon a cushion at his feet.
Involuntarily I shrank back and threw my hands before my eyes. An
instant later I felt the negro’s hand gripping my arm. I tried to hold
back and I tried to gather courage to go forward--I knew my hopes of a
happier future depended upon my submission.

The negro tightened his grip. Under his breath he murmured, “Be a good
little one. You will be the better for it.” I could not look up, but I
went and sat upon the cushion at Hadji Ghafour’s feet!

It is needless to say more of that terrible night!

To Arousiag I confided the next day that I must, somehow, escape from
Hadji Ghafour’s house. To remain meant more tortures and lessened such
chance as there might be that I would find my mother at Diyarbekir,
where refugees with money were allowed by the Vali to remain just
outside the city--provided they paid liberally for the privilege. When
their money was gone they were sent away with other exiles into the
Syrian desert.

I had tried to coax Hadji Ghafour to send messengers to Diyarbekir to
rescue my family if they could be found there, or to learn what had
become of them. He would not grant me this favor. “You are a Turkish
girl now,” he said, “and you must forget all past associations with
unbelievers.”

Arousiag feared for me the consequences of my being caught in an
attempt to escape. Captives who had tried to run away before had been
sold into the public houses, where they soon died. When I had made her
understand, though, that I would risk anything rather than remain in
Hadji Ghafour’s house, she promised to help me. It was then she told
me, when we were alone in our couches that night, that to the west,
across the plains, toward the Euphrates, was a monastery, founded ages
ago by Roman Catholic Dominican Fathers, who came into Armenia as
missionaries. During all the centuries Armenian religious refugees had
been received in this monastery, Arousiag told me, and from there many
teachers were sent into Syria and even to Kurdistan.

A man from Albustan, who really was an Armenian Derder, or priest,
but who was disguised as a Turk and making his way to the Caucasus,
where he hoped to get aid for the exiles from the Russians, had told
Arousiag of the monastery while she was being kept in Malatia. Many
Armenian girls had found safety there, the Derder had said, as the
Fathers in the monastery had not been molested, and their refuge was
far off the track of the companies of deported Christians. Many years
ago, the Derder told Arousiag, the monastery Fathers had saved the life
of a famous chieftain, and there were legends about it which kept the
Kurds from attacking the monastery. For some reasons the Turks had not
molested it, either.

Arousiag confided to me that she had often planned to escape from
the house and try to go alone to the monastery. There, she was sure,
there would be safety--for a time at least. But each time her courage
deserted her. Now she was willing to make the effort, since I, too,
would rather risk everything than remain a victim of Hadji Ghafour.

The windows of the sleeping apartments were high, and were not barred,
as they opened only into a courtyard. Arousiag knew of a passageway
from the courtyard into the divan-khane, or reception chamber, which
opened onto the street. Often the servants of the haremlik went into
the street through this passageway.

A night came when Hadji Ghafour sent early for the girl he desired. It
was long before the haremlik’s retiring hour. Arousiag and I slipped
away and let ourselves down from a window into the courtyard. We
hurried through the divan-khane and into the streets. We had veiled
ourselves, and, with Turkish slippers, we were mistaken for Turkish
girls or harem slaves hurrying home to escape a scolding.

When we came to the gates of the city we were frightened lest we be
stopped--but the Turkish soldiers guarding the gate had stolen for
themselves some Armenian girls from refugees camped near the city, and
were too busy amusing themselves with these girls to notice us. Soon
we were beyond the city, alone in the night. The sands cut through
our thin slippers, and we were afraid that every shadow was that of a
lurking Kurd.

It was twenty miles or more, Arousiag believed, to the monastery. For
three days we traveled, hiding most of the days in the sand for fear of
wandering villagers or Kurds, and walking as far as we could at night.
We had no bread or other food, and only late at night, when the dogs in
the villages were asleep, could we dare to approach a village well for
water.

Arousiag suffered much from thirst on the fourth day. She was so
famished for water, of which we had none the night before, that when
I cried she moistened her tongue with my tears. At last she could go
no further and sank to the earth. In the distance was an Arab village.
The Arabs are not like the Kurds--they are very fierce sometimes, and
do not like the Armenians, but unless they are in the pay of Turkish
pashas they are not always cruel. To save Arousiag’s life I left her
and went into the village.

The Arab women gathered around me, and to them I appealed for food and
water, as best I could. The women pitied me, and when the Arab men
came to inspect me they, too, felt sorry. They brought a gourd of cool
water, and bread, and some of the women went with me to where Arousiag
lay. The water revived and strengthened her, and it gave me strength
too. Our clothes were mostly torn away, and the Arab women gave us
other garments and sandals for our feet. The monastery, they said, was
but a few miles further on, and they showed us the nearest way. An Arab
boy went with us to tell the men of other villages that we must not be
harmed. Also the boy guided us away from a Circassian village, where we
would have been made captives.

When the gray stone walls of the convent rose before us in the distance
Arousiag and I knelt down on the earth and thanked our Savior. The Arab
boy turned and ran back when he saw we were praying to the Christ of
the “unbelievers.” But we were very grateful to him.

It was almost evening, and the monks were at prayer. We stood at the
gate until some of them heard our call, and then they let us in. The
monks were very kind. They gathered around us and listened to our
story. Then they took us into their little chapel and knelt down around
us, while the prior chanted a prayer of thankfulness.

When the prayer was finished a monk led us to a part of the monastery
separated from the main buildings. Here we were astonished to find
more than half a hundred Armenian girls and widowed brides, who, like
us, had found refuge among the monks. Nearly all these girls and young
women were from Van, the largest of the Armenian cities, or from
districts near by. Some were from Bitlis, where thousands of my people
had been killed in a single hour, only the girls and brides being left
alive for the pleasure of the Turks. Some had escaped from Diyarbekir.

All had been directed to the monastery as a refuge by friendly Arabs
or Armenian Derders. One by one or in groups of two and three they had
applied at the monastery gates just as had Arousiag and I, and the
monks had taken them in, disregarding the great danger to themselves.

We all were cautioned not to show ourselves outside the smaller
building which the monks had given over to us, lest wandering Kurds or
soldiers chance to see us and thus discover that the monastery was the
retreat of escaped refugees. The monks prayed with us twice every day
and nursed back to health those who were ill. Little Arousiag became
very glad when the prior assured her that God had understood, when she
renounced Him, that in her heart she was still loyal to Him. When the
aged prior knelt with her alone and prayed especially that God forgive
her every blasphemous prayer she had made to Allah while under the
eyes of the watchful harem women in the house of Hadji Ghafour, she was
happy again.

For two weeks we were safe in the monastery. Then, suddenly, our peace
was ended. One night, long after every one in the monastery had gone to
sleep, we, were awakened by a great shouting and pounding at the gates.
From our windows we could look into the yard, but we could not see the
gate itself. While we huddled together in fright we saw the little
company of monks, hastily robed, led by their aged prior, carrying a
lighted candle, move slowly across the yard. When they had passed out
of our sight toward the gate the shouting suddenly stopped, and we
heard voices demanding that the gate be opened.

I think the monks refused. The shouting began again, and we saw the
monks retreating across the yard. An instant later a horde of strange
figures, which we recognized as those of Tchetchens, or Circassian
bandits, pushed across the yard to the monastery doors. When the monks
refused to open the iron gates they had climbed the walls.

Tchetchens are even more cruel and wicked than the Kurds. They are
constantly at war, either with the Kurds and Arabs, or the Turks
themselves. During the massacres the Turks had propitiated them by
giving them permission to prey upon the bands of Armenian exiles in
their district and to steal as many Christian girls as they wished.
Always in the past it has been the Tchetchens who have brought to the
harems of the pashas their prettiest girls, as they do not hesitate to
steal the daughters of their own people, the Circassians, for the slave
markets of Constantinople and Smyrna.

The monks tried to barricade themselves in their chapel. The prior
pleaded through the iron barred windows with the Tchetchen leader,
appealing to him for the same consideration even the Kurds had always
given the monastery. But the Tchetchen chief had learned in some
manner that Armenian girls had been concealed in the monastery, and he
demanded that we be surrendered as the price of mercy for the monks.

The monks refused to open their chapel doors or to reveal our hiding
place. But the chapel doors were of wood--they gave way when the
Tchetchens rushed against them. We heard the shrieks of our friends,
the monks. There were cries for mercy, prayers to God and brutal shouts
from the Tchetchens. In a little while there were no more screams, no
more prayers--just the shouting of the bandits.

There was no escape for us. The Tchetchens were swarming about the
yard below and through the chambers of the monastery proper. The only
way out of the buildings the monks had set aside for us was through
passages or windows leading directly into the yard. We heard one band
of Tchetchens breaking in the door that opened into the rooms on the
floor below us. We crowded into a corner and waited, trembling, too
frightened even to pray.

The Tchetchens climbed the stone stairway. They were cursing their
ill fortune at not having found us. One of them pushed in the door of
the room in which we had gathered. The moon was shining through the
windows and the bandits saw us. Then the spell of our silent fear was
broken--we screamed. In an instant the Tchetchen band came pouring into
the room.

They called terrible jests to each other. Arousiag and I were kneeling,
with our arms around each other. A Tchetchen caught my hair in one hand
and that of Arousiag in the other and dragged us down the stairway. The
others were either dragged out in the same way or carried into the yard
tossed across a Tchetchen’s shoulder.

About the steps of the chapel we saw the bodies of the monks. All had
been driven out of the chapel into the moonlight and then killed. The
Tchetchens dragged us outside the monastery gate. They then gathered up
their horses and drove them into the yard, where they could be left for
the night. Then the Tchetchens returned to us.

Each claimed the girl or girls he had captured and dragged through the
yard. Those who were not satisfied with their prizes, in comparing
their beauty with those who had fallen to the lot of others,
quarreled. Little Arousiag’s arm was broken when one Tchetchen, seeing
that the bandit who had captured us had two girls, pulled her away from
him. Her captor paid no attention to her screams of pain. He subdued
her by twisting her broken arm until she was unconscious.

When daylight came and the Tchetchens could see our faces more plainly
they selected those whom they considered the prettiest, and killed the
rest. They killed Arousiag because of her broken arm. Then they lifted
us onto their horses and took us to Diyarbekir.



CHAPTER X

THE GAME OF THE SWORDS, AND DIYARBEKIR


From the edge of a sandy plateau I caught my first view of Diyarbekir,
once the capital of our country. For two days we had ridden with the
Tchetchens. We knew that some new peril awaited us in this ancient city
which, centuries before, had been one of the most glorious cities of
Christ.

When the Tchetchens drew up at the edge of the plateau, the walls of
the city spread out far below us, with here and there a minaret rising
over the low roofs. Just beyond the city was the beautiful, blue
Tigris--the River Hiddekel, of the Bible. And as far as I could see,
dotting the great plains that are watered by the Tigris, were Christian
refugees from the north and east and west, thousands and thousands of
them. Some had walked hundreds of miles. Nearly all the Armenians who
were permitted to live that long were brought to Diyarbekir, where
those who were not massacred in the city or outside the walls were
turned south into the Syrian and Arabian deserts, to be deserted there.

More than one million of my people were started toward Diyarbekir when
the deportations and massacres began. Only 100,000, I have heard, lived
to reach the ancient city on the Tigris. And of these more than half
were massacred within the city and outside the walls. Only young women
and some of the children were saved, and these were lost in harems,
or, as with the children, placed in Dervish monasteries to be taught
Mohammedanism, so they might be sold as slaves when they grew up.

Nail Pasha, the Vali of Diyarbekir, was very wicked. Inside the city
there are several ancient forts, built centuries ago--one of them
in the days of Mohammed, and two great prisons. Already more than
3,000 Russian prisoners of war had been marched from the Caucasus to
Diyarbekir for confinement in these prisons. Nail Pasha had taken
away all the clothing of these prisoners, and had compelled them, by
refusing to give them food, to work as masons on a large house the
pasha was building for himself.

When the refugees began to arrive at Diyarbekir in great numbers Nail
Pasha crowded the Russians into one of the fortresses so closely they
had almost no room to lie down at night. The other prisons he then
filled with the Armenian men who had been permitted to accompany their
women from some of the smaller Armenian villages in the north. When the
prisons were full of these exiles he had his soldiers massacre them.
Outside the city their women waited on the plains or were taken away
without even being told what had been the fate of their husbands, sons
and brothers.

When more Russian prisoners arrived Nail Pasha crowded Armenians into
the prisons in the daytime and killed them, and then compelled the
Russians to carry out the bodies and remove the blood before they
could lie down to rest from their day’s labor in the fields or on the
stonework of his new house. The soldiers of Nail Pasha told with great
enjoyment how the bodies of little Armenian children had been mixed
in with cement and built into the walls of the new house to fill the
spaces between the stones.

The Tchetchens who had stolen us from the monastery decided to enter
the city by its southern gate--where the walls reach down almost to the
river banks. But when they had galloped around that way soldiers from
the gate came out and told them the Vali had issued orders that no more
refugees were to be brought into the city until some of those already
within the walls were “cleared out”--massacred or sent away.

Afterward I learned why the city itself was crowded with refugees
while so many others were camped outside the walls. The Vali promised
protection from further deportation to all who had managed to preserve
enough money to bribe him. These he allowed to go within the city and
occupy deserted houses. When their money ran out the “protection”
ceased, and they were sent out of the city in little companies--always
to be killed at the gates by Tchetchens, who had been notified to wait
for them.

When the Tchetchens saw they could not enter the city with us at once,
they lifted us from their horses and ordered us to sit in a circle so
they could guard us easily. Of the two hundred in the monastery, only
twenty-seven of us still lived. Three of the girls were younger than I.
None was more than twenty, although several had been brides when the
massacres came.

The bandit leader then went into the city by himself. All that day,
and the next, and most of the day after that, we sat in the sand in
the burning sun. The Tchetchens foraged bread and berries and gave us
just a little of what they did not want themselves. Only once each
day would they let us have water. On the second day one of the girls
became hot with fever. She cried for water, and when a Tchetchen would
have slapped her for her cries she showed him her tongue, which had
begun to swell. When the Tchetchen saw this he called to his comrades,
and they were afraid lest the fever spread to others of us. They paid
no attention to the poor girl’s pleading for water, but dragged her a
hundred feet away and left her. Once she got to her feet and seemed to
be trying to get back to us. A Tchetchen went out to her and struck
her down with the end of his gun. She could not get up again, and we
saw her rolling about in the sand until she died.

On the evening of our second day of waiting outside the walls there was
a great commotion at the city’s southern gate, and presently a stream
of refugees, all women, came pouring out onto the plain. All that day
groups of Tchetchen horsemen had been gathering from the surrounding
country and taking up positions nearby. Now we knew why these horsemen
had come--they had been notified a company of refugees was to be sent
out of the city.

The Turks themselves seldom massacred women in a wholesale way.
Constantinople had not authorized the killing of submissive women--the
work was left to Kurds and other bands.

I think there must have been more than 2,000 women and some children
in this company. They began to come out of the gate before sundown,
and were still coming long after it was dark. The Tchetchens herded
them into a circle about one mile from the walls. They were half a mile
or more from us, but when the moon came up we could plainly hear the
shouts and screams that told us the Tchetchens had begun their evil
work.

All night long we heard the screams. Sometimes they would be very near,
as if fugitives were coming our way. Then we would hear shouts and the
hoofbeats of horses. There would be piercing shrieks and then only the
sound of hoofbeats growing fainter. The Tchetchens who guarded us did
not bother us, they seemed to be saving us for something else. But we
could not sleep that night. Sometimes even now I cannot sleep, although
I am safe forever. Those screams come to me in the night time, and even
with my friends all about me I cannot shut them out of my ears.

When the first gray mist of dawn spread over the plain the excitement
was still at its height. Then, suddenly, everything was quiet. We were
too far from the city to hear the voices on the minarets, but we knew
that silence meant that the hour for the Prayer of Islam had arrived.
Even in the midst of their awful work the Tchetchens instinctively
heard the call and stopped to kneel toward Mecca. I remember how I
wondered that morning, while the bandits were reciting their prayer to
their Allah for his grace and commendation, how my Christ would feel
if His people should come to Him in prayer at the sunrise after such a
night’s work as that.

More than ever before I loved Jesus Christ and trusted Him that morning
while the Mohammedan bandits were praying to him they call Allah.

I think less than 300 of that company of Armenians were alive when the
sun came up and we could see across the plain. One little group we saw
moving about, huddled together. All around them were the Tchetchens
searching the bodies scattered over a great circle--making sure in the
daylight they had missed nothing of value in the massacre and robbery
during the night.

During the morning the Tchetchens busied themselves with the young
women who had been permitted to survive the night. We could see them go
up to the little group of survivors and drag some of them away.

It was when the Tchetchens began to tire of this that we saw them
preparing, a little way from where we were, in a flat place on the
plain, for one of the pastimes for which wild Circassian tribes are
famous, and which they frequently repeated, as I afterward learned, as
long as my people lasted.

They planted their swords, which were the long, slender-bladed swords
that came from Germany, in a long row in the sand, so the sharp pointed
blades rose out of the ground as high as would be a very small child.
When we saw these preparations all of us knew what was going to happen.
When Armenian children are bad their mothers sometimes tell them the
Tchetchens will come and get them if they don’t be good. And when the
children ask, “And when the Tchetchens come, what will they do?” their
mothers say:

“The Tchetchens are very wicked robber horsemen, who like to sharpen
their swords with little boys and girls.”

Already I was trembling with sickness of heart because of the awful
night before and the things I had seen that morning when daylight came.
The other women beside me were trembling, too, and felt as if they
would rather die than see any more. We begged our Tchetchens to take us
away--to take us where we could not look upon those sword blades--but
they only laughed at us and told us we must watch and be thankful to
them we were under their protection.

When the long row of swords had been placed the Tchetchens hurried
back to the little band of Armenians. We saw them crowd among them,
and then come away carrying, or dragging, all the young women who were
left--maybe fifteen or twenty--I could not count them.

Each girl was forced to stand with a dismounted Tchetchen holding
her on her feet, half way between two swords in the long row. The
captives cried and begged, but the cruel bandits were heedless of their
pleadings.

When the girls had been placed to please them, one between each two
sword blades, the remaining Tchetchens mounted their horses and
gathered at the end of the line. At a shouted signal the first one
galloped down the row of swords. He seized a girl, lifted her high in
the air and flung her down upon a sword point, without slackening his
horse.

It was a game--a contest! Each Tchetchen tried to seize as many girls
as he could and fling them upon the sword points, so that they were
killed in the one throw, in one gallop along the line. Only the most
skillful of them succeeded in impaling more than one girl. Some lifted
the second from the ground, but missed the sword in their speed, and
the girl, with broken bones or bleeding wounds, was held up in the
line again to be used in the “game” a second time--praying that this
time the Tchetchen’s aim would be true and the sword put an end to her
torture.

In the meantime the Jews of Diyarbekir had come out from the city,
driven by gendarmes, to gather up the bodies of the slain Armenians.
They brought carts and donkeys with bags swung across their backs. Into
the carts and bags they piled the corpses and took them to the banks
of the Tigris, where the Turks made them throw their burdens into the
water. This is one of the persecutions the Jews were forced to bear.
The Mohammedans did not kill them, but they liked to compel them to do
such awful tasks.

Late in the afternoon the chief of our Tchetchens came out from the
city. His men drew off to one side and talked with him excitedly. When
it grew dark they lifted us upon their horses and carried us into the
city through the south gate. At the gate the Tchetchen chief showed to
the officers of the gendarmes a paper he had brought from the city, and
the Tchetchens were permitted to enter. We passed through dark narrow
streets until we came to a house terraced high above the others, with
an iron gate leading into a courtyard off the street. A hammal, or
Turkish porter, was waiting at the gate and swung it open.

The bandits dismounted outside the gate to the house and lifted us to
the ground. The leader waved us inside. With half a dozen of his men he
entered behind us and the gate closed. Some of the Tchetchens went into
the house. In a few minutes they came out, followed by a foreign man,
whose uniform I recognized as that of a German soldier.

Servants followed with lighted lamps, and the soldier looked into our
faces and examined us shamefully. Only eight of the girls pleased him.
I was among these. We were pushed into the house and the door was
closed behind us. Then we heard the Tchetchens gather up the other
girls and take them into the street. I do not know what became of them.

The soldier and the servants, all of whom were foreigners, whom I
afterward discovered were Germans, took us into a stone floored room
which had been used as a stable for horses.

It must have been two or three hours afterward--after midnight, I
think; we could not keep track of the time--when the soldier and the
servants came for us. Before they took us from the stable room they
took away what few clothes we had. They led us, afraid and ashamed,
into a room where were three men in the uniforms of German officers.
The soldiers saluted them. The officers seemed very pleased when they
had looked at us. We tried to cover ourselves with our arms and to hide
behind each other, but the soldier roughly drew us apart. The officers
laughed at our embarrassment, and then dismissed the soldier, saying
something to him in German, which I do not understand.

The officers talked among themselves, also in German. They tried to
caress us. It amused them greatly when we pleaded with them to spare
us, to let us have clothes and to have mercy, in God’s name.

Almost two weeks I was a prisoner in this house. The principal
officer’s name was Captain August Walsenburg. He was middle-aged, I
think, and very bald. After awhile I learned many things about him.
He had been connected with a German trading company, the “Oriental
Handelsgellschaft,” in the city of Van.

He was a reserve army officer and had been called into service. He
helped the Turkish officials at Van mobilize an army there and had
taken part in the Armenian massacres at that city. He had been ordered
to report to a German general whose name I do not remember at Aleppo,
where the German commander was organizing Turkish soldiers for the
Mesopotamian armies. But when he reached Diyarbekir there was news
of the Russian advance in the Caucasus, and he had been ordered,
by telegraph, to wait at Diyarbekir for instructions. The two other
officers were lieutenants, who had accompanied him from Van, and they,
too, were awaiting instructions.

They were the only German officers at Diyarbekir at that time. The Vali
was very friendly with them. He had set aside for them the house to
which we were taken as captives. To this house were brought many pretty
Armenian girls stolen by the Kurds and Tchetchens. When they tired of
them they sent them away to the refugee camps outside the city or to be
sold to Turks.

The German captain asked me to be submissive. I fought him with all my
might. I told him he might kill me. This amused him. It was while I
was his prisoner I tasted, for the first and only time in my life that
which I have learned in America is called “whiskey”. It was bitter and
terrible. The officers had brought some of this from Van. They drank
much of it, and it made them very brutal. One night they assembled
all the girls in the house into a room where they were eating and
forced them to sit on a table and drink this awful whiskey. They were
delighted when it made us ill.

One by one the other girls who had been stolen with me from the
monastery were sent away, after the officers had wearied of them,
and their places were taken by new ones. I think I was kept because
I fought so hard when one of them approached me. The captain always
clapped his hands and laughed aloud when I fought.

There was another girl, who had been a prisoner in the house longer
than others--since before I was taken there. She had especially pleased
one of the under-officers. She told me of one night when the officers
had taken much of their whiskey and were particularly cruel. She said
they sent for some of the girls then in the house and, standing them
sideways, shot at them with their pistols, using their breasts as
targets. Afterward I was told this thing was done very often by the
Turks in the Vilayet of Van when they massacred our people there.

At last orders came to the officers to leave Diyarbekir. I understood
they would have to go to Harpout. They prepared to leave immediately
and set out the next morning. They had in the house many rugs and
articles of valuable jewelry they had bought from Kurds and Tchetchens,
who had stolen them from Armenians, and all of this booty they
carefully packed in boxes to be kept for them by the Vali until a
caravan bound for the railway at Ras-el-Ain came through.

They were so hurried they paid little attention to us. When they left
all their servants accompanied them, riding donkeys behind their
masters’ horses. So we were alone in the house.

We would have been happy in our deliverance had it not been for the
danger which threatened us at the hands of the Turkish gendarmes, who
would be sure to discover us. We searched until we found where the
servants had hidden our clothes in a dark room, into which the clothes
of all Armenian girls who had been brought to the house had been
thrown. We each took something with which to cover ourselves.

We spent a day and night in constant terror of discovery. We were
afraid to venture into the streets and afraid to stay where we were.
There were many foreign missionaries in the city, including Americans,
but they lodged in a different quarter, and we never could have reached
them. The gendarmes came the third day after the officers left. I do
not think they expected to find any one in the house, but came to look
for things the Germans might have left unpacked.

We saw them entering through the courtyard gate. There was no place we
could hide, as the house was built in tiers. We could only huddle in a
corner and put off our capture till the last minute. The gendarmes saw
us from the courtyard and rushed after us with shouts.

When I ran through the room that had been occupied by one of the
officers I saw a knife he had left behind. I seized this and hid it in
my clothes. It was the first time I had held a knife in my hands or
other weapon since I was taken from my home in Tchemesh-Gedzak.

A gendarme cornered me in one of the rooms, just as all the other girls
were trapped. He caught me by the arms. He was taking me into another
room when the officer of the gendarmes saw me. He halted the man, took
me from him and ordered him to “find another one for himself.” The
officer pushed me into the room.

But when he tried to pinion my arms I turned on him with the knife. I
know God guided my hand, for I am sure I killed him. He fell at my feet.

In other parts of the house and in the courtyard the gendarmes were
giving their attention to the girls they had found. I reached the
street without being seen. I looked in each direction and could see no
one except a Turkish woman, who came out of her gate on the opposite
side of the street. For an instant I thought I would be caught, and I
gripped the knife, which I still kept under my clothes.

But the Turkish woman was kind. She pitied me. She stepped back into
her gate and motioned me to follow. I was afraid, yet I trusted her.
She closed the gate and took me in her arms. She was sorry for me and
my people, she said, and would help me. But she dared not take me into
her house. She told me I could hide in her yard till night, when I
might slip out of the city to where the refugees were.

During the day she brought me food. At dark she came to take leave of
me, and kissed me, and gave me three liras, which was all she could
spare without earning a scolding from her husband. “Go out by the north
gate, not by the south gate,” she said to me. “All the refugees who are
taken around by the south gate are killed; those who are camped beyond
the north gate may live. But do not join them while it still is night,
or you may be caught in a massacre. Hide among the rocks in the pass
through the Karajah hills, a mile from the city. If the Armenians are
allowed to pass these rocks when they are taken away, it means they
will be allowed to live through another stage of their journey.”

I reached the north gate without being stopped, as I was careful to
keep in the shadows. Gendarmes guarded the gate, but they were not very
watchful. I ran onto the plain and followed the directions the friendly
Turkish lady had given me until I came to the rocks which marked the
road through the low hills that skirted the city on the north. Along
this road the refugees sent to the southern deserts from Diyarbekir
must pass.

I waited at the rocks through the night. In the morning I thought to
walk along the road to where I would not be seen by soldiers, Kurds or
Tchetchens roving on the plains near the city, and where I could wait
until a company of my people passed.

But while I was picking my way through the narrow pass between the
rocks I saw a little group of zaptiehs coming toward me along the road
beyond. I had not expected to meet any one. I screamed before I could
stop myself. The zaptiehs heard me and I ran back into the shelter
of the rocks and drew out my knife, which I had kept so I might kill
myself rather than be stolen again. But I was afraid God would not
approve. While the zaptiehs searched the rocks I knelt in a crevice and
asked God to tell me what I should do--if He would blame me if I killed
myself before the zaptiehs found me. “Dear God, tell me, shall I come
now to You or wait until You call?” I asked of Him.

I know He heard me, and I know He answered. For something told me to
throw the knife far away--and I did.

That was God’s will, I know, for after awhile He was to lead me into
the arms of my mother that I might be with her once again before the
Turks killed her.



CHAPTER XI

“ISHIM YOK; KEIFIM TCHOK!”


I threw the knife away and stood up. The zaptiehs soon found me. I was
resigned for whatever was to happen, and did not run from them.

I told them I had come out from the city; that I wanted to join some
of my people; that if they would not harm me I would not give them any
trouble. I still had the three liras, or three pounds, which the good
Turkish lady had given me, but I knew if I gave it to them they would
only search me for more and then, perhaps, kill me. So I told them I
would get money for them from my people if they would let me join a
company that was not to be killed.

“Maybe all will be killed; maybe not all. We do not know. Come with us.
Get us money and we will let you live,” one of them said to me.

I walked with them a little ways, until we saw coming toward us a long
line of refugees. Then the zaptiehs halted, and from what they said to
each other I knew they had been sent from a village a little way behind
us to join the guards escorting this party.

Soon the party drew near. The zaptiehs said I must stay near the front
of the line, and that they would come after a while and hunt for me,
and that I must have money or they would take me off and kill me. They
came to me a few hours later, and I gave them the three liras, and they
kept their promise and did not molest me again.

The party of refugees I had joined was from Erzeroum and the little
cities in that district. My heart leaped with joy when I saw among
them a few Armenian men. It was the first time I had seen men of my
people for so long, and I was so happy for the women whose husbands
and fathers could still be with them. When I was led up to this party
by the zaptiehs the first women to see me held out their arms to me.
They thought I was one of the girls of their own party who had been
stolen the night before. When I told them I had escaped from Diyarbekir
they were glad for me, and one lady who had lost her sixteen-year-old
daughter to the Turks said I might take this daughter’s place and march
with her. Another little daughter, six years old, was with her still.

[Illustration: DRIVEN FORTH ON THE ROAD OF TERROR

The old and the very young just leaving their homes in an ancient city,
on their way to the desert. In the foreground is a zaptieh, who has
stolen an armful of rugs from the exiles.]

There were two thousand, or a few more, in this party. They were all
that were left of 40,000 Armenian families who had been deported from
Erzeroum and nearby villages. Erzeroum is 150 miles directly north of
Diyarbekir, but the Armenians there had been sent to Diyarbekir in two
directions. Some had come by way of Erzindjan and Malatia. These had
walked almost 300 miles. Others had come by way of Khnuss and Bitlis,
and these had walked 250 miles. The survivors of both parties reached
Diyarbekir at almost the same time as those who came by way of Bitlis
had been kept for many days at towns along the route.

The only friend the Armenians at Erzeroum had when they were being
assembled for deportation was the good Badvelli, Robert Stapleton, the
American vice-consul, whose home is in New York City. Dr. Stapleton
took all the Armenian girls he could crowd into his house at Erzeroum,
and when the Turks came for them he showed the Turks the American flag
over his door, and ordered them away. There were many mothers in this
party when I joined it who were glad their daughters had been among
those who were left under Dr. Stapleton’s protection, and they wondered
if they still were safe.

Many months later I learned the good American Badvelli kept them all
safely until the Russians came to Erzeroum and took them under their
care.

There were almost 75,000 men, women and children in the parties that
went by way of Erzindjan. Of these only 500 reached Diyarbekir. All the
prettiest and youngest girls had been stolen by the Kurds or zaptiehs
and given to Turks along the way. The girl children under ten years
old had all been either killed, if they were not strong and pretty, or
sold to the Turks, who kept them to raise as Moslems for their harems
or sent them to Constantinople to be sold into the harems of wealthy
Turks there. Many of the younger women who were not stolen had been
outraged to death. All the grandmothers and women who were ill had been
abandoned at the roadside, or killed outright. So only the 500 remained.

Of the other parties, which had numbered 50,000 individuals, and who
had mostly come from the smaller cities near Erzeroum, with many rich
families, including teachers, bankers, merchants and professional men
from the city itself among them, only 1,500 were left--about 300 men, I
think.

When the different parties recognized each other in camp outside
Diyarbekir, they rejoiced greatly, and they were allowed to move their
camps together. They remained outside Diyarbekir eleven days, because
all of them had been robbed of their money and all valuables, so they
could not bribe the Vali to let them stay inside the city.

Each night while they were camped outside Diyarbekir Turks came forth
from the city to steal girls, and soldiers came out to borrow girls
and young women for a little while. They had no food except one loaf
of bread for each person, every other day, sent out by the Vali, and
occasionally something which American missionaries in the city managed
to smuggle out to them by bribing Turkish water carriers.

During the night, while I was hiding in the rocks, they were told
they were to be taken away again in the morning, this time to Ourfa.
They had begged the Turkish officers to let them stay a while longer,
because so many of them were suffering with swollen feet, which had
grown more painful, even to bursting, during their eleven days of rest.
They asked to be allowed to wait until their feet were better again,
but the Turks would not grant this.

So they had started early in the morning, and now I was with them, and
before me lay the long walk to Ourfa, 200 miles further toward the
Arabian deserts--unless I suffered the harder fate of being stolen
again along the way.

For the first time since I had been taken from my home that Easter
Sunday morning, so many weeks before, I learned, when I joined this
party on the way to Ourfa, where my people were being taken--those
who were allowed to live. Soldiers who went out to the refugee camps
from Diyarbekir had told these exiles that all who reached Aleppo, a
large city on the Damascus railway, were to be taken from there to
the Der-el-Zor district, on the southern Euphrates, and there put to
building military roads through the deserts. As only a few men lived to
reach there, the strong women were to be used.

But always there was hope of deliverance. So many Armenians had friends
in America, sons and brothers who had left our country to go to the
wonderful United States. They prayed every night that from America
would come help before all were dead. There were rumors even then that
help was coming; that good people in the United States were sending
money and food and clothing and trying to get the Turks to be more
merciful. It was this hope that kept thousands alive.

When I joined this party it could only move along very slowly, because
of swollen feet. When we came to the rocks where I had been discovered
it was very painful for those whose feet were broken open to pass
between them, because the pass was very narrow and the stones sharp.
For more than a mile we had to walk along this rocky defile--then
we came into the open again. I had a pair of sandals, with leather
bottoms, which I had saved from the house of the Germans. These I
gave to the lady who had asked me to march with her, for her own feet
were bleeding. No one else in the party had shoes or slippers or any
covering for their feet, except rags which some could spare from their
clothing.

Outside Diyarbekir some of the refugees had traded laces which they had
saved by wrapping them around their bodies, for donkeys and arabas (ox
carts). They had been told they might keep these until they reached
Ourfa. In the arabas they had hidden many small pieces of bread which
they had saved from their occasional rations at Diyarbekir, hoping
thus to provide against the sufferings of starvation along the road.
But when they reached the rocks the pass was so narrow there was great
trouble getting the arabas through.

Some Turkish villagers from the other side had come to the rocks, and
when they saw the trouble the refugees were having with their arabas
they asked the zaptiehs guarding us why they could not have the donkeys
and the carts. The zaptiehs told them if they would give some money to
be divided among the guards they could take them.

So the villagers paid money to the zaptiehs and then swooped down upon
us and took away our animals and carts. They would not allow us to take
what few belongings were in the carts, and the pieces of bread, saying
they had bought everything the carts contained from the zaptiehs.

In one of the carts were two little girl twins, nine years old, whose
mother had died at Diyarbekir. They were being taken care of by their
aunt, who had three times bribed soldiers to let them alone, until
she had nothing more to bribe with. She had hidden them in her araba,
thinking she could save them and spare them the weary walking. The
villagers who took her cart refused to let her take them out. He said
they went with the cart.

The woman was crazed, and screamed loudly. She attacked the villagers
with her hands. An Armenian man was near, and he and many women rushed
at the Turk, who was alone. Three zaptiehs rushed up, but the women
and the man were determined, and the zaptiehs were afraid to help the
villagers. They told him to let the aunt have the two little girls.

Although there were about 2,000 refugees in this party, I could count
only eleven zaptiehs sent along as guards. As many men as could be
spared by the Turks at Diyarbekir had been sent north to the army, and
the supply of guards for refugees was very short. Had there been more
zaptiehs they would not have hindered the Turk from stealing the little
girls.

At the next village the zaptiehs decided they would have to have more
help if they were to enjoy the license customary among them along the
road. At this village they stopped us and held a long conversation with
the Mudir, or village chief. Soon after the Mudir approached, followed
by twenty or thirty of the most evil looking Turks I ever saw. Each
one of them carried a gun and wore on his sleeve a strip of red woolen
cloth, the badge of police authority.

When we went on these Turks were distributed among us by the zaptiehs
as additional guards.

During the second day upon the road we met a party of mounted Turkish
soldiers, escorting a group of very comfortable looking covered arabas,
such as are used by the wealthy for traveling in the interior of
Turkey. In these arabas there were forty hanums, or Turkish wives, who
were on their way with the soldier escort to Erzeroum, to join their
husbands, who were high military officers with the army in the great
military fortress there. They had come from Damascus, Beirut and Aleppo.

When our party approached, the arabas of the hanums halted, and the
soldiers ordered our guards to halt us also. Then we saw that several
of the arabas were occupied by young Armenian girls, from eight to
twelve years old, all very sweet and gentle looking, as if they were
the daughters of wealthy families. Some of them waved their little
hands from under the curtains, and that is how we discovered them.
From six to ten were crowded in each of their arabas, and each of the
hanum’s arabas hid others.

The little girls told us they were from Ourfa and Aleppo. Their parents
and relatives all had been killed, and they had been given to the
hanums, who, they understood, intended to put a part of them in Moslem
schools at Erzeroum, so they could have them for sale when they were a
little older. The others the hanums would keep as servants or to sell
at once to friends among rich Turks.

The hanums descended from their arabas and asked our zaptiehs if
there were any very pretty girl children among us. The zaptiehs did
not approve of losing girl children to these Turkish wives, who, they
thought, would take them without paying for them. So they said there
were none. But one of the hanums saw a little girl holding onto her
mother, and insisted upon having her brought to her. When she looked at
the little girl closely she saw she was pretty, and commanded one of
the soldiers to take her into her carriage.

The child’s mother held onto it desperately, and when the hanum, with
her soldier near, put her hands on the little girl to pull it away the
mother lost her reason and struck at her.

The soldier immediately caught hold of the woman and asked of the
hanum, “What shall I do with her?” The hanum said, “Have we any oil to
burn her?” The soldier said, “I do not think so.” Then the hanum held
out her hand and the soldier gave her his pistol. The Turkish woman
went up to the mother and shot her with her own hands. She then caught
the little girl’s hand and led her to the arabas. The little one wanted
to kiss her mother, but the hanum jerked her away.

With our party was the wife of Abouhayatian Agha, the great scholar,
of Van, who had escaped, when the massacres began, to Diyarbekir. Her
husband had been a friend of Djevdet Bey. When the soldiers were turned
loose upon the Armenians at Van, so Mrs. Abouhayatian told me, her
husband went to Djevdet Bey and remonstrated with him. His reply, now
famous all over Turkey, was:

“Ishim yok; Keifim tchok,” which means, “I have no work to do; I have
much fun!” After that, whenever regular soldiers were sent to slaughter
Armenians, they called out to each other:

“Ishim yok; keifim tchok!”

Over this same path I walked, more than 400,000 of my people had
trod--some of them having walked a thousand miles or more to get there.
And of these, sole survivors of the millions who were deported from
their homes, those who are alive to-day are lost in the deserts, where
there is no bread or food.

God grant that I may soon go back to this desert, from which I escaped,
with money and food for those of my people who may still be alive!

When we camped near a village at night our zaptiehs would invite the
village gendarme and his friends to come out, and they would sell young
women to them for the night. The mother or other relatives of these
young women dared not even object, for if they did the zaptiehs would
kill them. Sometimes there would be better class Turks in some of these
villages, and they would pick out girl children and buy them. They
would pay our guards for the child they fancied and take it out of its
mother’s arms. These children now are being taught to be Moslems, and,
if they are old enough, made to work in the fields. Some of them are
concubines besides.

Three babies were born during the first days of this journey. The
mothers were not allowed to rest along the way, neither before nor
after. They were made to keep up with the party until the little ones
were born. Sometimes the men would carry the mother a little way, but
when the zaptiehs saw them doing this they would make them put her
down. They would say the woman didn’t deserve to be carried because she
was bringing an unbeliever into the world.

These events always amused the zaptiehs greatly. When one of them
discovered a baby was about to be born he would call his comrades, and
they would walk near the poor woman, making her keep on her feet until
the last minute. Then they would stand close to her and laugh and jest.
As soon as the baby was born the mother would have to get upon her feet
and walk. If she could not walk the zaptiehs would leave her on the
road and make the party move on.

Almost always the zaptiehs killed the babies. The first two born near
me they took from the mothers and threw up in the air and caught them
like a ball. They did this four or five times and then threw them
away. The mothers saw, but they had to walk on. The third baby was
not killed. It was born in the evening, just after we had camped. The
zaptiehs were busy with their horses and did not notice. This one was
a sweet little boy. Its father was dead. Its mother was so happy--and
so sad, both together--when she first held it in her arms. She asked
God to let it live, but there was no way. She had had so little food
herself she could not nurse it. The little thing starved to death in
her arms.

When we left the district where the villages were we began to suffer
for water. The zaptiehs carried great water bags over their saddles,
but they would give none of it to us. For days at a time we marched
without a drop of moisture to quench our thirst. Then we would come to
a group of houses where Turks lived around a well, or spring. The Turks
always would refuse to let us go near the wells, demanding pay for each
gourd of water. Men would stand guard at the wells with guns and sticks
to drive us off if we went near.

But no one in our party had anything left to pay with. Our women would
go as near to the houses as they dared, and get down on their knees and
beg for just a swallow of the precious water. Sometimes the Turks would
let us go to the wells when they were convinced we had nothing to give
them. But not always. At one place the head man, who had been a pilgrim
and was called Hadji, demanded that if we could not give him money or
rugs, we must give him for the community three strong men who could
help till the fields which were watered from his spring.

We appealed to our guards, but they would not take our part. They stood
by the Turks, and said if we wanted water we should be willing to pay.
At least thirty of our party had died that day for want of drink. Some
of the women’s tongues were so swollen they could not talk. There was
talk of rushing on the spring in a body, but we knew this would cost
many lives, for our zaptiehs stood near with their guns, and we knew,
too, it would be held against us and probably cause a massacre.

Finally Harutoune Yegarian, who had been a student at Erzeroum, said
he would sacrifice himself. He asked if there were two other men who
would give themselves. Two men whose wives had died, and who had no
daughters, at once said they were willing. Many women embraced them.
Harutoune was standing near me, and I cried for him. He saw me.

“Don’t weep for me, little girl,” he said to me. “Every Armenian in the
world should be glad to give himself for his people.” Then he kissed
me, and I think his kiss was the kiss of God.

The three men said they would stay and work in the field for the Turks,
and so they let us have water--all we could drink and carry away.

When we reached the city of Severeg, half way to Ourfa, we had not had
water for four days. There are three open wells on one side of Severeg,
and they feed an artificial lake, which was filled when we arrived.

Some of our women were so parched they threw themselves into the lake
and were drowned. Others could not wait until they reached the lake,
and jumped into the wells.

So many did this they choked the wells, and the Turks, who had come out
to meet us, had to pull them out. We who had kept our senses crowded
around those who were pulled out and moistened our tongues from their
wet clothes.

After we left Severeg a fever attacked our party. Every day many died
by the wayside. The zaptiehs rode at a distance away from us, and when
any of the men or women dropped behind, they would shoot them. The
fever parched the throats of those who suffered from it so badly that
when we came to the next group of houses where there was a well the men
braved the guns of the Turks and zaptiehs and rushed up to them.

After that the zaptiehs were wary of persecuting us too much, but we
paid the penalty at Sheitan Deressi, or “Devil’s Gorge,” which we
reached on the twenty-third day out of Diyarbekir.

When all our party had entered the gorge the zaptiehs left their horses
and climbed above us and opened fire upon us. We were trapped so we
could not turn back and could not escape. The zaptiehs picked off all
the men. From early morning until dark they continued shooting from the
walls of the gorge, and at each shot a man fell. When evening came all
had been killed or mortally wounded.

When night fell the zaptiehs came down and began killing women with
their knives and bayonets. They picked out the older women first,
and soon all these were dead. When the moon lighted up the gorge the
zaptiehs picked out the young married women--or those who had been
married but now were widows--and amused themselves by mutilating them.
They would not kill them outright, but would cut off their fingers, or
their hands, or their breasts. They tore out the eyes of some. When
dawn came only those who had succeeded in hiding behind rocks, or we
who were young and might be sold to Turks, were alive. During the next
day I counted, and there were only 160 left of the 2,000 who left
Diyarbekir with me. I have heard it said that more than 300,000 of my
people were killed in this spot during the period of the massacres.

Now that we were so few the zaptiehs made us march faster, and as we
were nearly all young they were more cruel to us. I was glad that
morning when I discovered that the lady who had let me march with her
had survived. She had hid during the night, and had saved her little
girl too. But my gladness for her soon became sorrow. The little girl
was taken with the fever that day. The next day she could not walk any
more. When the zaptiehs discovered she was suffering from the fever
they commanded the mother to leave her at the roadside. The mother laid
the little girl down, but she could not leave her when the child held
out her arms and cried. A zaptieh came up with his bayonet pointed,
ready to kill the mother, and I pulled her away and comforted her.
Every step or two the mother would look back until we could not see her
little girl any more.



CHAPTER XII

REUNION--AND THEN, THE SHEIKH ZILAN


With so few of us to guard, and almost all of us either young or not
so very old, the nights were made terrible by the zaptiehs. For many
days they had been on the road with us, and had tired of ordinary
cruelties and the mere shaming of the girls under cover of darkness at
the camping places. The Turks who had been recruited from the villages
and made guards over us were especially brutal. It was their first
opportunity to visit upon Christians that hatred with which Islam looks
upon the “Unbeliever.”

When we drew near to Ourfa we were joined by a party numbering, I
think, four or five hundred exiles from the Sandjak of Marash, a
subdistrict north of the Amanus, of which Zeitoun, Albustan and Marash
are the large cities. Nearly all of these were from the city of Marash
itself--some from Zeitoun. The removal of the Armenians from the
Sandjak of Marash was begun later than in other parts of Asia Minor.
When Haidar Pasha first issued the orders for deportation some of the
Armenians who had arms resisted. They refused to leave or submit to the
zaptiehs unless they were given guarantees they would be allowed to
return to their homes after the war.

Haidar Pasha had few soldiers at his command just then. He sent to
Aleppo for assistance to carry out his wish to send the Armenians away.
From Aleppo came Captain Schappen, a German artillery officer, who was
stationed there with other German officers. Captain Schappen organized
large bodies of zaptiehs and taught them the use of machine guns. He
then led them personally, and with other German officers and their
aides made a raid on the Armenian houses. In quarters where there was
resistance he turned the machine guns on the houses.

From Marash and nearby cities fourteen thousand of my people, men,
women and children, were sent away, guarded by the zaptiehs, under the
command of this captain. For some reason which none of the Christians
knew, these exiles were not taken directly into the desert toward
Bagdad, as were others from that district, but they were kept many
days, even weeks at a time, in camp with almost no food or water, then
to move on only a few miles and to camp again. They were many weeks
reaching the vicinity of Ourfa. When they joined us, of the fourteen
thousand who were torn from their homes only the three or four hundred
remained alive! No men were left--just mothers and daughters and aunts
and nieces.

Captain Schappen had returned, after three weeks on the road, to
Aleppo. He took with him a Miss Tchilingarian, who was fifteen years
old, and who had just returned from a private school in Germany, where
her parents had sent her to be educated. She was home on a vacation
when the deportation began. She was very pretty, those who knew her
told me, and had already won honors in music. Her family intended she
should become a singer and take to the Christian world outside Turkey
the beautiful folk ballads of my people. Captain Schappen marked her
during the first night on the road, and had her taken to his tent. He
then designated a zaptieh to be her especial guard until he took her
away with him. He also took with him Mrs. Sarafian, the young wife of
Dr. Dikran Sarafian, who had been educated in Switzerland, and was
one of the most prominent Armenian physicians in central Turkey. Mrs.
Sarafian was a Swiss, and had learned to love Dr. Sarafian while he was
a student in her country. She had come to Marash to marry him just two
years before. Captain Schappen had her taken to his tent also, soon
after they began their march, and when her husband objected the officer
ordered a zaptieh to shoot him.

When Captain Schappen and his companions decided to return to Aleppo
they sent zaptiehs scouring the country for miles around looking for
donkeys. For these the officers traded girl children. A pretty child
was given for one donkey. Of the children who were plain the officers
gave two, or sometimes three, for a single donkey. Thus they collected
a large herd of donkeys, which probably were needed by the army.

In another day after this remnant of the Christians of Marash joined
us, we came into sight of Ourfa. We were ordered to camp close to an
artificial lake--such a lake as often is found outside Moslem cities.
The leaders of our zaptiehs rode into the city for instructions. Soon
Turks, in long white coats, came out of the city to look at us. When
they saw that ours was a party of almost all younger women, with girl
children still left, they spread the news in Ourfa, and in a little
while dozens of Turks came out in little groups of four and five.

They tried to persuade our zaptiehs to let them carry away with them
the young women and children they wanted. The zaptiehs would not permit
this, however, unless they were paid what was then considered high
prices for Christian women. They said they had brought us this far, and
now they intended to profit--that they had only permitted us to live
because they hoped to get “good prices” for the choicest of us in the
Ourfa market.

The Turks did not want to pay the high prices, and the zaptiehs would
not trade with them. The zaptiehs said there was a good market in Ourfa
for pretty Armenian women, and they preferred to get the Mutassarif’s
permission to hunt purchasers there who would bid against each other.
The Turks went back to the city disappointed.

That night, just after sundown, these same Turks came out again and
opened the sluices that held the artificial lake, allowing the water to
spread over the plain and flood our camp. We had to run as fast as we
could to scramble to safety, and there was great confusion. Even the
zaptiehs were caught by surprise.

In this confusion the Turks rushed in among us and helped themselves to
our youngest girls--the prettiest children they could seize. We were
powerless to save them, as each of the Turks carried a heavy stick,
with which they beat down the mothers or relatives who tried to rescue
their little ones. By the time we had escaped the water and assembled
again, and the zaptiehs were recovered from their own panic, the Turks
were gone--and with them fifteen or twenty beautiful little girls.

Later I learned what was the immediate fate of the children stolen when
the lake was opened on us. Haidar Pasha had seized the ancient Catholic
Armenian monastery there, and had transformed it into a “government
school for refugee children.” Since I have come to America I have
learned that when complaints were made to the Sultan at Constantinople
by foreign ambassadors of the stealing of children the Sultan’s
officials replied that they were taken as a kindly deed by the
government, which wished to place them in comfort in the “government
school” at Ourfa and other cities.

But this is what the “government school” at Ourfa was:

Haidar Pasha sent his soldiers, under command of a bey, to take
possession of the monastery, a large stone building. They surrounded it
and forced the monks, among them Father Antone and Father Shiradjian,
two priests who were much beloved by Protestant as well as Catholic
Armenians, to walk in between two rows of soldiers. The soldiers closed
in behind them and marched with them outside the walls of the city.
Then the soldiers halted and the Bey asked how many there were among
the monks who were willing to take the oath of Islam and forswear
Christ.

When the Bey ceased speaking Father Antone lifted his voice with the
words of an ancient song of the good Saint Thomas Aquinas, and all the
monks joined in.

While they sang the soldiers shot them down--volley after volley--until
all were dead. The last monk to fall died with the words of the song on
his lips.

Haidar Pasha then cleared out the monastery of all its relics and
religious symbols. Among these were some things which were very dear to
my people. There was, for instance, a piece of the lance which pierced
the side of Jesus at the Crucifixion. What has become of this and other
things that were associated with Christ, Himself, and kept by the
Fathers in this monastery I do not know. It is said they were taken to
Damascus and placed in a mosque there, to be ridiculed by the Moslems.

When the monastery was cleared Haidar Pasha gathered from among the
Armenians who were then being taken out of the city, a number of
Armenian girls of the best families and confined them in the monastery.
He then seized hundreds of Armenian girl children, from 7 to 12 years
old, and shut them in the monastery, to be taught the Moslem religion
and raised as Moslems. He compelled the older girls to teach them the
beliefs of Islam, under penalty of the most awful cruelties. To this
monastery then came rich Turks from all over Asia Minor to select as
many little girls as they wished and could buy for their harems--where
they would grow up to be submissive slaves.

While we were waiting outside the city for the zaptiehs to dispose
of us according to whatever their plans might be I saw coming toward
us, out of a city gate, a company of hamidieh, or Kurd cavalry, with
a supply train of donkeys and arabas, which indicated a long journey
ahead. There must have been a full regiment of the horsemen, as they
filled the plain outside the city while forming their line of march.

When they drew near, to pass us within a hundred yards or so, I saw a
little group of women and children riding on donkeys and ponies between
the lines of horsemen. I recognized these as Armenians. This was an
unusual sight--Armenians under protection instead of under guard. In
those days my curiosity had been stunted. So many unusual things went
on about me all the time I had lost my sense of interest in anything
that did not actually concern me. But something seemed to hold my
attention to this strange looking company.

I got up from the ground where I was sitting and went to the edge of
our camp to watch the soldiers passing. The first lines went by. The
Armenian women came nearer. Suddenly all the world about me seemed lost
in a haze. I rushed in between the horses, screaming at the top of my
voice:

“Mother! Mother! Mother!”

She heard, and little Hovnan, and Mardiros, and Sarah heard. Mother
slid to the ground as I ran up to her. I tried to throw my arms around
her neck, while my little brothers and sister clung to me. But mother
caught my arms and held them. Her eyes were closed, and she was still
and silent. I cried to her to speak to me. A terrible fear came over
me. Had she gone mad? Had she lost her speech?

I screamed--this time with anguish. Mother opened her eyes.

“Be patient, my daughter,” she said, with the dear, sweet gentleness
for which all our friends had loved her. “Be patient, my daughter. I
was just talking with God--thanking Him that my prayers have come
true!” When I had kissed and cried over Hovnan and Mardiros and Sarah I
looked again into mother’s face.

Little Aruciag--she was not there. Mother saw the question in my eyes.

“Aruciag has gone. She grew tired one day and could not keep up. A
soldier threw her over a precipice!”

An officer of the hamidieh came up to learn what was happening, why
mother and the children had dismounted to stand in the way of the
horsemen. Mother explained to him that I was her daughter, who had
come back to her. She said she wished that I might travel with her.
The officer was kind. He gave permission and promised to send another
donkey for me to ride.

There were four young Armenian girls with mothers and several older
women, whose faces bore the marks of much suffering. As we rode along
mother explained to me.

When I was stolen from her and our party from Tchemesh-Gedzak, so many
weeks before, she was lying at the roadside, cruelly wounded by the
soldiers. But the thought of the children summoned her back to life.
Friends cared for her, and the next day when the company moved on they
carried her in their arms until she could walk again.

She passed Malatia, Geulik and Diyarbekir. At last she reached Ourfa.
By this time only eighteen were left of the original four thousand
exiles from Tchemesh-Gedzak.

At Ourfa there lived my uncle, mother’s cousin, Ipranos Mardiganian,
who had moved from Tchemesh-Gedzak to Ourfa many years ago--before I
was born. Uncle Ipranos had become very wealthy, and had established
a great trading business, which had branches even in Persia and in
Constantinople.

In the Abdul-Hamid massacres of 1895 Uncle Ipranos was persuaded by
his powerful Turkish friends at Constantinople and in Ourfa to become
Moslem and thus save his life. He pretended to do so, and was rewarded
with a government position of high trust, and rose to high estate among
the Moslems. He adopted a Turkish name, and was known as Ibrahim Agha.
Secretly, though, he still prayed to God and was Christian.

Mother remembered him when she reached Ourfa with the refugees. She
knew he was in the favor of the Turks, who no longer looked upon him
as Armenian. She asked one of the soldiers with her party if he would
take a letter into the city for her, promising that if he would deliver
the letter secretly he would receive pay. The soldier took the letter
to Ibrahim Agha’s house. In it mother appealed to her cousin for his
assistance in the name of their family, and asked him to give some
money to the soldier.

Ibrahim Agha was grieved by mother’s letter. He sent her word that
he would help her. He went at once to Haidar Pasha and procured his
permission to bring mother and her children to his house. Then he
came for her and took her to his home. In his house mother found four
Armenian girls. Their mothers were deported from Ourfa, but before
they had left the city they had appealed to Ibrahim Agha to take their
daughters under his protection, thinking to save them. He could not
refuse, although he endangered his own life, and had to keep the girls
hidden from his neighbors. A few older women also were in his house,
hidden in his cellar. He had taken them in from the streets when
soldiers were not looking.

For more than a month mother and the children were safe in her
cousin’s home. Then, one day, Haidar Pasha sent him word to come to
the government building. He returned with heavy heart. Haidar Pasha
had told him it would not be safe for him to keep his relatives in his
house any longer; that many high military officials were in Ourfa, and
if some of them should hear of refugee Armenians being thus protected
all might be killed, and both he and Ibrahim Agha suffer.

But Haidar Pasha offered to obtain from the Turkish general at Aleppo
military permission for mother and the children and the other exiles in
his house, of whom my uncle now told him, to travel back to their homes
in the north with soldiers being sent to Moush to join the campaign
against the Russians. For this Haidar Pasha asked one thousand liras
cash--about $5,000--and another thousand liras when mother and the
others had safely reached their homes and had received permission from
their home authorities to remain. This permission the Pasha promised to
arrange also.

My uncle had to comply. The four girls had no homes or relatives in the
north, but they had to go, too, or be deported and seized by Turks.
Mother agreed to take them to her home in Tchemesh-Gedzak--if they
should really reach there alive.

At Moush an army corps was assembling. The Turks had retired before the
first advance of the Russians through the Caucasus, and Djevdet Bey,
Vali of Van, was rallying his armies here for a dash at the Russian
flanks, which already had reached Van. Soldiers occupied all the houses
in Moush, from which the Armenians had been ejected, and the hamidieh
officers believed it would be best for us to be quartered outside the
city while arrangements were made for the rest of our journey. Mother
depended upon the papers given her by Haidar Pasha to secure for us an
escort from Moush to Tchemesh-Gedzak--and Ibrahim Agha had said Haidar
would telegraph the authorities at Moush to guarantee our safety.

We stopped at Kurdmeidan, a village a few miles outside of Moush,
at the foot of Mount Antok. There had been many Armenians in the
village, and there was an Armenian church. All the Christians had been
massacred, however, and their homes were occupied by mouhajirs--Moslem
immigrants from the lost provinces in the Balkans. We went into the
deserted church and prepared to remain there until arrangements
were made for us to leave. The hamidieh officers called the village
Mudir before them and cautioned him that we were to be protected and
fed--that we were “especially favored by the Porte.”

The villagers treated us kindly--so great is the fear of the population
of anything “official” or governmental. Days went by and we did not
hear from the city. We began to worry. Mother wanted so much to see our
home again at Tchemesh-Gedzak. “Were it not for you and the children,”
she would say to me, “I would be willing to die on my doorstep--if God
would just let me see our home again!” My poor, dear mother!

We dared not go alone into the city to inquire what was to be done for
us--we could only wait.

One night, just after the Moslem prayer, the streets of the little city
suddenly became crowded with horsemen. Some Turkish women who were
just outside the church rushed in to get out of the way of the horses’
hoofs. “It is Sheikh Zilan,” they said. “The Sheikh Zilan of the Belek
tribe, who has been called in from the mountains with his thousand
Kurds to fight for the Turks!”

The name of Sheikh Zilan was widely known. His horsemen had harried the
countryside for many years. It was said he frequently made raids with
his tribe into Persia, and even into the Russian Caucasus before the
war, to steal women for the secret slave markets in European Turkey.

The tribe was on its way into Moush. Entrance would be denied them
after dark, they knew, so they had decided to camp for the night in
Kurdmeidan. Some followers of the Sheikh saw the Armenian church
building, and decided to use it as a stable for the horses of the
Sheikh and his chiefs. They broke in the door while mother and the rest
of us crouched in a corner. But we could not hide--the Kurds saw us and
gave the alarm. Soon the church was full of the wild tribesmen.

Mother showed her letters from Haidar Pasha. This awed the Kurds for a
moment, and they sent for one of their chiefs. When the chief came he
read the letter carefully. Then he examined our party. “The Pasha here
says there is an Armenian woman and her servants and three children, to
whom immunity has been promised and safe conduct. That we will grant,
although the word of a Pasha is not binding upon the will of the great
Sheikh Zilan. But the Pasha’s writing says nothing of five young
Armenian women, too old to be classed as children and too young to be
described as servants. These we will take, lest the Pasha be imposed
upon.”

They would not believe that I also was mother’s daughter. They took me
and the four girls mother had brought from the house of Ibrahim Agha,
and at the same time forced mother to leave the shelter of the church
and camp in a nearby yard. They took us out of the village, to where
their main camp was.

With halter ropes they tied our hands behind our backs and then tied
us to each other by looping a rope through our arms. Soon Sheikh Zilan
himself came to look at us. He seemed greatly pleased when he had
looked into our faces. He gave some orders we could not understand,
but which, evidently, had to do with our safety, and walked away. We
spent the night sitting on the ground, for we were bound in such a way
we could not lie down. The Kurds looked at us curiously as they walked
around us, and often one of them would kick us to make us turn our
faces toward him. But otherwise they did not molest us.



CHAPTER XIII

OLD VARTABED AND THE SHEPHERD’S CALL


Early in the morning we were taken into the city, tied across horses
which were led just behind the group of chiefs who followed Sheikh
Zilan, himself. Inside the city four horsemen led our horses into one
of the low quarters of the city. Here we were given into the keeping
of a cruel looking Kurd, whom I was soon to know was Bekran Agha, the
notorious slave dealer of Moush.

Ten thousand Armenian girls, delicate, refined daughters of Christian
homes, college girls, young school teachers, daughters of the rich and
the poor, have experienced the terror of the same feeling that came
over me that day when I realized that I was a captive in the house of
this notorious slave dealer. His slave market had been boldly operated,
in the security of his house, for many years, but never had he enjoyed
such a profitable trade as when the Armenian girls were available to
him.

Bekran left us in his donkey stable at night. In the morning his hammal
came in to feed the animals. When he had finished this task he ordered
us to follow him.

Bekran awaited us in his selamlik. I shuddered when I saw him--he was
so old and withered and cruel looking. A negress waited upon him.
He sat on the floor in the old fashion. The selamlik was barren and
ill-kept. Everywhere there was dirt. Bekran’s flowing garments, once of
rich texture, were ragged and frayed. Yet I knew Bekran must be very
rich--from the profits the helplessness of Armenians had brought him.

We fell upon our knees before him--then we bent into the posture of the
Mohammedans--we wanted so much to make him listen to our pleading. I
had suffered so much, I thought surely I could persuade this old man
to let me go to my mother again. But Bekran did not even speak. His
eyes roved over us--I could feel them. He signed to the hammal and
the man lifted us to our feet, one by one, that his master might see
our height, our size and judge of our attractiveness. Then he gave
another sign and we were taken across the inside court, through a stone
doorway, and into a large room where there were a number of other
Armenian girls, with here and there a Circassian or a Russian from the
Caucasus, among them.

Soon the hammal came into the room with figs and bread. I could not
eat, neither could any of the four girls who had been of my mother’s
party from Ourfa. Few of the others ate, either--as all had come but
recently into the hands of Bekran and were too downcast. When the
hammal saw that we, who were late comers, did not eat, he said, “That
is well. We will lose no time at the bath.” He then compelled us to
cleanse ourselves as well as we could of the marks of our nights in
the sand and in the donkey stable with water from a fountain in the
courtyard.

Two men servants who came into the court while we were bathing joined
the hammal. Together they made us stand in a long line. The girls who
had been in the house when we arrived, saved us from the whips the
hammal and his men carried by telling us what to do.

We were taken into a large room at the back of the house, barren of
any furniture, save a pile of cushions on a rug in one corner. We were
allowed to sit on the floor any place in the room, but in this corner
where the cushions were. Before long Bekran Agha came in and sat on the
cushions.

All morning purchasers came. As each one spoke to Bekran the porter
would clap his hands and we were made to gather in a circle around the
customer. Many girls were sold--but for only a few pennies apiece.
There were too many in the market to demand large prices! When a girl
was sold she remained until a servant came to take her away.

Late in the afternoon of the second day a customer to whom Bekran Agha
paid great deference, entered the room. He was a servant, but from his
clothes I knew him to be the servant of a rich man. From those of us
who were left he selected three--and I was one of the three. While we
stood near he bargained with Bekran. At last the terms were agreed
upon. I was bought for one medjidieh--85 cents!

Outside was an araba. The other two girls and I were placed in this.
We were taken outside the city, to a country house occupied by Djevdet
Bey, Vali of Van, then commander of the Turkish army operating against
the Russians.

We were taken at once to the haremlik, where there were a number of
other young Armenian women. Before evening the kalfa, or head servant,
came in to us and we were asked, one by one, if we were willing to
become Mohammedans. The kalfa explained that only those could remain in
the care and keeping of Djevdet Bey, the mighty man, and have the honor
of his protection, who willingly adopted the creed of Islam.

Though he was cruel and, as his deeds show, the most unscrupulous of
all the Turks, Djevdet Bey desired, it was made plain to us, to keep
within the provisions of the fetva issued by Abdul Hamid and still in
effect, which pretends to prohibit the enslaving of Armenian and other
Christian girls unless they first become Mohammedans.

I did not know what the kalfa would do with me if I refused to accept
the creed of Islam. I feared the punishment would be death, or the
public khan at once, but I could not bring myself to deny Christ, after
having remained faithful to Him so long. I asked Him what I should
do--and His answer came, just as clear and direct as when I was about
to use my knife outside the rocks of Diyarbekir. I seemed to see Father
Rhoupen, the priest, and I even felt his hand on my shoulder again,
just as when he said to me, “Always trust in God and remain faithful
unto Him.” I told the kalfa I could not forswear Jesus Christ.

One of the other girls who had been brought to Djevdet Bey’s house with
me also refused to give up her religion, even to save her life. The
third girl had suffered so much--her heart and soul were broken. She
gave way. The kalfa put her into another room. In a little while we who
had refused to apostasize were summoned, put into separate arabas, and
driven away. What became of the other little girl I do not know. I was
taken to the house of Ahmed Bey, one of the rich men of Moush. I was a
present to him from Djevdet Bey.

I cannot forget the depression that came over me when I entered the
courtyard of Ahmed Bey’s house. Twice before, since the deportations
began, had I been taken a captive into the houses of Turks and left
at their mercy. Yet now I felt as if the future were darker than ever
before. Perhaps it was because the house of Ahmed was outside the city,
in the plains--as a prison would be. And there were twenty-four other
girls in the haremlik, each with her own memory of sufferings, more
terrible even, some of them, than had been my own.

Ahmed Bey, himself, was very old, yet some of these twenty-four girls
had been sacrificed to him. The others had been divided between his two
sons. Ahmed was, perhaps, a truer type of the fanatical Turk than any
whose victim I had yet been. His interest seemed not to be so much in
the young women themselves, as in the children he wanted them to bear
to his sons--children in whom the blood of the noble Armenian race
might be blended with that of the savage Turk, and who might live to
perpetuate and improve the blood of his family.

I was summoned before Ahmed Bey the next day. I had asked for clothing,
but the haremlik attachés would not give me any, nor would they allow
me to accept garments from other girls in the harem. “Not until Ahmed
indicates his desires,” was the answer of the kalfa to my pleadings.

Ahmed Bey spoke to me gently, but it was with the gentleness that hurts
worse than blows. “You are to be one of the favored of my women,”
he said, “because you have been sent to my house by His Excellency,
Djevdet Bey.” He gave a sign, and a little slave girl appeared with
the rich dress of a favored Turkish girl. “Many of these and many
ornaments, as well as kindness and affection, shall be yours as long
as you are obedient and respectful,” Ahmed said. “First, you shall
renounce the Christ you have been taught to worship and accept the
forgiveness of Allah and Mohammed, his prophet.”

I told him I was weary of suffering, but that I had been given into the
keeping of God by my mother, and that I would not desert Him. At this
Ahmed became furious. All his gentleness passed away. He trembled in
his anger. He upbraided me and my people and blasphemed my religion. I
cried with shame at hearing him, but he had no pity. I pleaded with him
to free me, that I might return to my mother’s party, and I told him of
the paper given my mother by Haidar Pasha of Ourfa. But he would not
listen.

The little slave was sent from the room to summon one of Ahmed’s sons.
The son came in almost immediately. Ahmed called him “Nazim.” “This
is the one sent me by Djevdet Bey, himself. I have set her aside for
you, my son, because of her comeliness and youth. But her spirit
must be broken. I have sent for you that you might look upon her and
decide--what shall be done with her.”

Ahmed’s son spoke to me, but I did not answer. Then he took my hand,
drew me up before him and lifted my face that he might look into my
eyes.

“Leave her to me, my father, that I may try to persuade her to be happy
in our house,” Nazim said.

The little slave led me to an apartment--a small room looking out upon
the inside court, with a divan. I asked her to leave the dress with me,
that I might at least cover myself, but she said she could not do that
without permission. When she had left me Nazim crossed the court from
the selamlik and came at once to me.

He had the same gentleness as his father--and it hurt in the same way.
He asked me to accept Mohammed that he might make me his “bride.” He
told me my sufferings would be very hard to bear if I refused, but that
I would have many luxuries if I consented.

I knew I could not escape. My thoughts went to my mother. I told Nazim
that as long as my mother was an exile, doomed to die a wanderer, I
could not speak of being a “bride.” I told him if he would save her,
if he would bring her to me, I would ask her if she thought best that
I sacrifice my religion in return for my life and safety--and if she
would say it would be right, then, with her always near to comfort me,
I would let my soul die that my body and hers might live.

“You will have to learn it is not the slave’s privilege to bargain,” he
said, as he strode away.

Hours went by, and I crouched on the divan--waiting. At every step I
feared I was to be summoned again--this time for something I could only
expect to be torture. At last a zaptieh who was one of Ahmed Bey’s
personal retainers came for me. He lifted me roughly and dragged me
with him across the court and into the road in front of the house. A
little way from the garden wall there was a group of other zaptiehs.

Among them I saw my mother, little Hovnan and Mardiros and little
Sarah, my brothers and sister, and the others of my mother’s party. I
had told Nazim where they were when I pleaded with him to restore them
to me--and he had sent for them.

I tried to break away, to run toward them. The zaptieh at my side held
me. My mother was kneeling, with her hands lifted to heaven. Sarah ran
toward me, her arms stretched out. “Aurora--Aurora--don’t let them kill
us!” Sarah cried. The zaptieh swung the heavy handle of his whip high
in the air and brought it down on Sarah’s head so that the blow flung
her little body far out of the path. She did not move again. I think
the blow must have crushed in my little sister’s head.

Mother saw--and so did Hovnan and Mardiros. Mother fell to the ground,
motionless. A zaptieh lifted her and struck her with his whip.

I fell upon my knees before the chief of the zaptiehs. “Spare my
mother--spare my brothers!” I cried to him. “I will do anything you
wish--I will belong to Allah--I will thank him only--if you will spare
them!”

“It shall be as Nazim Bey desires,” the zaptieh said. I did not
understand--I clung to him and prayed to him. I tried to touch my
mother, but the zaptieh kicked me to the ground. Then, suddenly, I knew
why they waited. Nazim Bey had come out of the house. When I saw him I
crept to his feet and begged him for mercy. “I will be Turkish--I will
pray to Allah--I will obey--just to save my mother,” I cried to him.

“That is well--but you shall not only be a Moslem but you also shall be
the daughter of a Moslem--that will be better still”--said Nazim. “What
does the old woman say?”

A zaptieh jerked mother to her feet again. He lifted his whip. “The
creed--quick!” he said to her.

“Mother, please--God will forgive you--father is in heaven and he will
understand!” I cried to her.

Mother was too weak to speak aloud, but her lips moved in a whisper:
“God of St. Gregory, Thy will be done!”

The zaptieh’s heavy whip descended. Mother sank to the ground. I tried
to reach her, but the zaptiehs held me. I fought them, but they held
me fast. Again and again the whip fell. Mardiros screamed and tried to
save her with his weak little hands. Another zaptieh caught him by the
arm and killed him with a single blow from his whip handle. When they
flung him aside Mardiros’s body fell almost at my feet.

Hovnan wrapped his arms around the zaptieh who was beating my mother,
but his strength was too feeble. The zaptieh did not even notice him
until my mother’s body relaxed and I knew she was dead. Then he drew
his knife and plunged it into little Hovnan.

It was only a little while--two minutes, perhaps, or three, that I
stood there, held by the zaptieh. But in those short minutes all that
belonged to me in this world was swept away--my mother, Mardiros and
Hovnan, and Sarah. Their bodies were at my feet. Both mother and Hovnan
died with their eyes turned to me, looking into mine! My eyes see them
now, every day and every night--every hour, almost--when I look out
into the new world about me. I must keep them closed for hours at a
time to shut the vision out.

I heard Nazim Bey give an order to his zaptiehs. Some of them picked up
the bodies of my dear ones and carried them away, I do not know where.
The others lifted me off the ground--I could not walk--and carried me
to the house and back to the room where the divan was. For two days and
nights no one came near me but the slave girls. All that time I cried;
I could not keep the tears from coming. That was when my eyes gave way;
that is why I cannot see very well now without glasses.

On the third day Nazim, accompanied by his father, Ahmed, came to my
room. Ahmed spoke with the same cruel gentleness. “What is past is
gone, little one; it is time your thoughts should turn to the future.
Nazim desires you. You are honored. He has punished you for your
stubbornness, and he would forgive you and take you to his heart. That
is as it must be. Your people are gone. There is none to give you
mistaken counsel. You will now accept the favor of Allah and enter into
a state of true righteousness.”

“I want to die--kill me! I will never listen to your son nor to your
Allah,” I said.

They took me into another wing of the house, to a dungeon room, with
just one iron-barred window looking out into the courtyard. There was
no divan or cushions, just the floor and the walls. The window was high
in the wall. I could not look out at anything but the sky--that same
sky which covered so much of tragedy in my ravished Armenia.

Day after day, night after night, went by. Each day the alaiks came
and brought me bread, berries and milk. And each day the hodja, a
teacher-priest, came to ask me if I were ready to accept Islam. But
each day God took me closer into His heart, for I kept up my courage by
talking to Him.

[Illustration: THE ROADSIDE OF AWFUL DESPAIR

First the children died, and then the parents, and uncles and aunts.
The grieving parents wrapped the little ones in the sheets they had
brought along, and then lay down beside them to starve. It was a common
scene in the deserts and along the sandy roads over which the exiles
travelled.]

And then one night, after so many days had passed I had lost count of
them, God reached in through my dungeon window. I was awakened by a
commotion in the courtyard, where, on other nights, it had been very
quiet. Soon I understood what was happening--sheep were being driven in
through the gate. Ahmed’s flock was coming in from the hill pastures,
driven in, perhaps, by military conditions.

I heard the yard gates swing shut. Then, above the bleating of the
excited, restless sheep, I heard the shepherd whistle his call to quiet
them. I jumped to my feet, my heart throbbing. Breathlessly I listened
for the shepherd to repeat the call. Then I was sure--it was the same
peculiar call, sharp and shrill, which my father always taught his own
shepherds, the call which he had been taught by his own father when, as
a little boy, he learned the ways of his father’s sheep on the great
pastures of Mamuret-ul-Aziz. When I was very young our shepherds used
to laugh at me when I tried to imitate them. I had been a very happy
little girl when, one day, I succeeded so well that suddenly the sheep
in our flock turned away from their grass and came toward me.

No other shepherds than ours or, at least, one who had come from
Tchemesh-Gedzak, would know that call, I was certain. Ahmed’s sheep
were tired and nervous. The unknown shepherd remained among them, every
now and then repeating that same whistle, softer and softer. I went
close to the window, lifted my face toward the iron-barred window and
repeated the call. Even the sheep seemed to sense something unusual.
They were suddenly quiet. Again I whistled, this time with more
courage. Instantly the shepherd answered--I could almost detect his
note of wonder.

I had learned that by leaping as high as I could I could catch the
window bars with my hands and lift myself until my face reached above
the window-sill. Often I had caught glimpses of the yard in this way.
But I was not strong enough to hold myself up more than a few seconds
at a time.

Now I tried this, hoping to catch a glimpse of the shepherd in the
moonlight. As I pulled myself up, I whistled again. Many times I tried
before I attracted his attention to the window. When I had succeeded
and he understood that behind that window there was a captive who was
trying to signal him, he made me understand by repeating his whistle
three times in quick succession directly under the window.

I dared not call out to him. I tore a great piece of cloth from the
dress that had been given me. I rolled this into a ball and threw
it out. He saw and answered by whistling softly. I hoped he would
understand the torn cloth as a symbol of my imprisonment--and of
my hope that he would save me. I could hardly believe that even an
Armenian shepherd would be left alive, yet it seemed to be so.

In the morning when the sheep were taken out the shepherd whistled
again under my window and I knew he was trying to attract my
attention. I answered as softly as I could. All that day a new hope
gave me courage. I was sure deliverance was at hand, though I could not
explain why.

I did not even attempt to sleep that night. The sheep came in early
and the shepherd whistled. An hour later I heard the call again--the
shepherd still was in the yard. It must have been near midnight when I
heard a rattling at the window bars. I looked, and there, framed in the
moonlight, was a face I knew--the face of Old Vartabed, who had come to
our house that Easter morning with his prophecy of ill--the prophecy
that came true. God had sent him to me and had made me to hear and
understand that familiar, whistled call!

Old Vartabed whispered: “Who is here who comes from the
Mamuret-ul-Aziz?”

“It is Aurora, the daughter of the Mardiganians of Tchemesh-Gedzak. You
are Old Vartabed, and I am the Aurora you loved so much.”

Old Vartabed tried to speak, but his voice shook so I could not
understand him. I told him all that I could, quickly. How I had come to
be a captive of Ahmed and why I was in the dungeon. Tears came into Old
Vartabed’s ancient eyes when I told him how all my people were dead. I
asked him how it was that he had been saved. “Old Vartabed is not worth
the slaughter,” he said. “I am of much value, since I have taught
the sheep of Ahmed to behave only for me. Ahmed has forgotten I am an
Armenian, since I bend my knees for every prayer to Allah and thus
prolong my days.” He told me to be patient. He would find a way to save
me.



CHAPTER XIV

THE MESSAGE OF GENERAL ANDRANIK


Two nights went by before Old Vartabed came again. But each night he
signaled and I answered. On the third night, his face was framed again
in the window casement.

“Be ready, little one--I shall lift you out soon,” he whispered. He
had brought a steel bar with which to pry aside the iron bars in the
window. The bars were very old--perhaps for a hundred years or more
they had served to shut in the prisoners that once had been confined in
this same dungeon room in Ahmed Bey’s big house. I knelt to pray, and I
was on my knees when Vartabed whispered:

“Come, little one--reach Old Vartabed your hand--he will lift you.”

The bars were bent aside. There was room for the shepherd to lean
inward and reach down. I caught his hands and he lifted me until I
could catch hold of the iron and help myself. In a moment I leaped down
to the stump which the shepherd had brought to stand on, and from this
to the ground. The sheep, which were resting all about, stirred and
bleated when I fell among them, but Old Vartabed whistled and they
were quiet.

“We must go quickly; the gate is not locked. You must be far away, to a
place I will tell you of, before morning comes and you are missed,” Old
Vartabed said as he hurried me across the yard.

When we were outside the gate, Old Vartabed wrapped his coat around me,
for it was cold. Then we struck out across the plains, away from the
town and toward low hills in the distance.

Old Vartabed did not talk much. He was so old he needed his strength.
He was anxious that I get far away before dawn. When we came to the
hills the shepherd showed me a path and told me to follow it, and go on
alone until I came to the hut of a friendly Kurdish family.

“But you, Old Vartabed--are you not coming with me? Will not Ahmed Bey
suspect you if you return?” I asked.

“Old Vartabed is too old to live in the desert, and then, who would
care for my sheep?” the old man replied.

Poor, dear Old Vartabed! Ahmed Bey had him killed in the morning.

I ran along the path the shepherd pointed out to me until, after many
hours, I came to the hut of the Kurds, of whom Old Vartabed had told
me. They were shepherd Kurds, and had great respect for Old Vartabed,
who had told them I was the daughter of his one-time master in the
Mamuret-ul-Aziz. They expected me, and were very kind.

When I thought of Old Vartabed going back to his sheep, and to the
mercy of Ahmed Bey, I cried. The shepherd Kurd’s wife and daughters
were sorry, and the Kurd himself went down toward the plain in which
Ahmed’s house stood, to learn if Old Vartabed still tended his sheep.
That night he came back in great distress. He had learned of Old
Vartabed’s fate. None but the shepherd could have helped me escape,
Ahmed Bey had been sure. He had summoned Old Vartabed before him and
the shepherd had confessed, as there was no other way. Ahmed Bey sent
for his zaptiehs. Old Vartabed was led out to where his flock was
waiting to be taken to the pasture. There was a shot, and he had paid
with his life for his kindness to the little daughter of his one-time
master.

The Kurd was much alarmed for me. Ahmed Bey had sent zaptiehs to search
in the plains and hills. Perhaps they would soon be at the hut.

They would not send me away, but I knew that I must go. The hut was too
close to the house of Ahmed, and the zaptiehs might come when least
expected. So they gave me woolen stockings, the best they had, a great
loaf of winter bread, a jug in which to carry water, and a blanket to
wrap about me at night. Then I went out into the hills.

Beyond these hills was the great Dersim--the highlands of grass and
sand, with hills and mountains everywhere. For many, many miles in
each direction no one lived but Dersim Kurds, some in little villages,
some in roving bands. On each side of the Dersim lived the Turks. Once
Armenians lived in the cities of the Turks, but now the Armenians all
were gone--only Turks were left.

The inhabitants of the Dersim deserts and wastes are not the vicious
type of Kurds who live in the south in the regions to which we had been
deported from our homes. The Kurds in the south are nomadic tribes,
harsh and cruel. The Dersim Kurds mostly are farmers, and often rebel
against their Turkish overlords. They are fanatical Moslems, and have
their racial hatred of all “unbelievers,” as they look upon Christians.
But they do not have the lust of killing human beings common with the
tribes of the south. To this I owe my life.

For more than a year I was a captive or a wanderer in the Dersim. For
many days after I left my friends at the news of Old Vartabed’s fate
I hid in the daytime and traveled at night, walking, walking, always
walking; somewhere, and yet nowhere. When a settlement loomed up before
me I turned the other way, trudging aimlessly across the wide plains,
through the hills or over deserts.

My bread soon gave out, and water was hard to get, for wherever there
was a well or a spring a settlement of Kurds was close. Near one well I
hid throughout one whole day, waiting my chance to slip up unobserved
and cool my parched throat. There was no opportunity in the daylight,
and when night came and I gathered courage to creep near to the well
the dogs from the houses ran out and barked at me. I was too exhausted
to run when the villagers came out to see what had aroused the dogs.
They took me into the settlement and shut me up in a cave for the
night. In the morning the chief of the settlement took me as his slave
and commanded me to obey the orders of his family.

They made me do the work a man would do. I tended the stock, carried
the water and worked in the fields. When I did not do enough work the
Kurds would beat me with their long, thick sticks and refuse me food.
When I did enough work to please them the women would throw me a piece
of bread. At night I slept on the ground, outside the huts, with rags
and torn blankets to keep out the cold, but never was I warm.

After weeks passed I was too weak to work any longer. I fell down when
I went to the fields, and could not get up when a Kurd kicked me. So
they gave me half a loaf of bread and told me to go away. I went a
little way and then rested for two days. It was so nice not to have
to drag a plow made of sticks from morning to night, I soon got my
strength back. And then I started to walk again.

Beyond Erzerum I knew there were Russians--friends of the Armenians.
I tried to keep my face turned to where I thought Erzerum would be--a
hundred miles or more through the Dersim. I kept away from the villages
until I could walk no more for want of food or water. Then I would give
myself up to be a work slave again. Each time the Kurds kept me until
my strength gave way. Then they gave me the half loaf of bread and let
me go away.

Although it was very cold now, I had no clothes. The Kurds would never
let me have any of the cloth they spun. Snow in the crevices among the
hills gave me water, but all I had to eat for weeks, even months, at a
time was the bark from small trees, weeds that grow in the winter time,
and the dead blades of grass I found under the snow.

The snow had melted when I reached the edge of the Dersim to the west.
I do not know what month it was, as I had lost all track of time, but
I knew spring was passing because the snow disappeared. I was now in
the neighborhood of Turkish cities. Occasionally I saw Turks, in their
white coats, walking over the plains. I saw flocks of sheep now and
then, and other signs that I was near cities. Yet I knew I must keep
away from these cities or their inhabitants.

One day from the side of a hill where I was hiding, almost too weak
from hunger to walk, I saw a great line of people with donkeys and
carts and arabas, passing on what seemed to be a road to the south. As
far as I could see, this cavalcade stretched out. For hours it wound
its way across the plains. I wondered what it meant. I crept down from
the hill and, crawling on the ground, drew as near as I could. I saw
the people were Turks, and that they were carrying household goods with
them. I saw, too, that they were excited and seemed to be unhappy.

I watched the line of Turkish families go by all day. When it was dark
I determined to go the way they had come from. Whatever it was that had
sent the Turks from their homes in the cities further east, it could
not be anything that meant ill for a girl of the Armenians.

Already I had crossed the Kara River, the farthest branch of the
Euphrates. Along the roads over which the Turks had passed in the
daytime there were scraps of bread, glass jars from which fruits had
been emptied, and other remnants of food. I gathered enough to give me
strength for walking.

The plains across which I made my way that night were those which once
formed the Garden of Eden, according to the teachings of the priests
and our Sunday school books. The Kara River was one of the Four Rivers.
Nearby were the Acampis of the Bible and the Chorok and the Aras, the
other three. Among these same rocks through which I hurried along as
fast as my strength would allow, Eve herself once had wandered. When I
sat down at times to rest I thought of Eve, and wondered if she were
some place Up Above, looking down upon me, one of the last of the
great race of people which had been the first to accept the teachings
of Christ and which had suffered so much in His name through all the
centuries that have passed since Eve’s gardens blossomed on the plains
and slopes about me.

The next day there were more lines of Turkish refugees. These appeared
to be belated and hurried in great confusion. Turkish soldiers appeared
among them, and there were many zaptiehs. Far beyond I saw the minarets
of a city. I knew it must be Erzerum. I came near to a village and saw
the inhabitants rushing about from house to house in excitement.

I was afraid to travel in the daytime. I could not go near one of these
villages, even to beg for water, because I had no clothes, and would be
ashamed, even if I dared to trust that I would not be taken captive.
During the night I crept closer to the distant city. In the morning I
stood at the edge of a plateau, which broke downward in a sheer drop to
the plain. Clinging close to rocks, which hid me from the view of the
refugees who still passed along the roads, I could look down into the
city.

I saw a great rushing about. Moving bodies of soldiers came and went.
Refugees were streaming out of the city and were joined by others from
villages all around. In the distance I could hear what I knew to be the
firing of guns.

The firing came closer. Now and then big guns spoke, shaking the ground
about me. I saw explosions in the city. Houses appeared to fall each
time the big guns sounded. Far across the city there suddenly appeared
clouds of dust. They drew nearer. Soldiers fled out of the gates of the
city nearest me, in the wake of the civilians.

Late in the afternoon the firing ceased. The dust clouds beyond the
city had drawn closer. Out of them suddenly emerged bands of horsemen.
They rode directly toward the far gates. Companies of Turkish soldiers
met them at the city walls. There was a clash. The Turks were driven
back. The horsemen followed. There was rifle firing. Other bands of
horsemen rode down from every direction in the east, in through the
gates and into the city itself.

_The Russians had come!_

In an hour the city was almost quiet again. Far off I saw great columns
of troops moving slowly. Behind the Cossacks the Russian army was
coming. The Turks in the city had surrendered.

When night fell I went down from the rocks and into the town. I hoped
before dawn came I could find a garment, or a piece of shawl, which
had been thrown away and with which I could cover myself. Terror of the
Cossacks kept indoors the citizens who had been brave enough to remain
in their homes. The streets were deserted in the outskirts, except for
an occasional zaptieh stealing along, as afraid to be seen as I was.

Suddenly, as I turned the corner of a narrow street, hugging close to
the wall, hoping that this turn, or the next, would bring me near one
of the houses I knew the Russians must have occupied, I saw a beautiful
sight--the American flag. The rays of a searchlight played on it.

Lights shone from all the windows in the house over which the flag
flew. There, I knew, would be my haven of safety. But not until after
the dawn did I have the courage to go near. Then I saw the figures of
men moving about the yard and near the doorways. I ran out of my hiding
place and fell at the feet of a tall, kindly-looking man, who had just
emerged from the house door, and who stood talking to a Russian officer.

I felt the tall man stoop down and put his hand upon my head. All at
once the sun seemed to break out of the gray dawn and shine down upon
me. Then I fell asleep. When I opened my eyes again it was many days
after, they told me. I was in a warm bed, and kindly people were all
about me. When they spoke to me, in a strange language, I tried to ask
for the tall man who had lifted me up from the street at the doorstep.
An interpreter came, and then, in a little while, the tall man came in
and smiled gently, and I knew that everything was all right.

This man, they told me, was a famous missionary physician, Dr. F. W.
MacCallum, who was known for his kindnesses to my people throughout the
Turkish empire. He had been compelled to leave Constantinople when the
war came, but he had come into Erzerum with the Russians--to be among
the first to give succor to my people. The house had once been the
American mission. The missionaries had been compelled to flee, but they
had returned with the Russians.

Dr. MacCallum, who now is in New York and was the first good friend I
found after my arrival in this country, bought thousands of Armenian
girls out of slavery in those days when the Russians were pushing into
Turkey from the Caucasus. With money supplied by the American Committee
for Armenian and Syrian Relief he purchased these girls from their
Turkish captors for $1. apiece. The Turks, knowing the Russians would
liberate these captive Christian girls if they found them, were glad to
sell them at this price rather than risk losing them without collecting
anything.

General Andranik, the great Armenian leader, who is our national hero,
came to see me. For many years General Andranik kept alive the courage
of all Armenians. He promised them freedom and constantly endangered
his life to keep up the spirits of my people. The Turks put a price
upon his head, and he was hunted from one end of the empire to the
other--yet he always escaped. He led the Armenian regiments, made up of
Armenians who lived in Russia, in the vanguard of the Russian army sent
against the Turks.

When I told General Andranik how I had seen my own dear people killed
he felt very sorry for me. He comforted and cheered me, and called me
his “little girl.” I would rather he said that to me than give me all
the riches in the world.

A Russian officer who could speak Armenian also came to talk with me.
When I had told him everything he left, but in an hour he returned.
This time a very distinguished looking officer, very tall, with a kind
face, came with him. I knew he must be of very high rank, for there was
much excitement when he entered the house. The officer who had talked
with me first repeated to the other many of the things I had told him.
The distinguished looking officer then spoke to me, first in Russian,
and then in French, which I understood.

“You have been a very unhappy girl,” he said, “and I am very happy to
have arrived in time to save you. We shall take good care of you, and
all Russians will be your friends.”

When he had gone they told me who he was--the Grand Duke, in command of
the armies in the Caucasus. The officer who had visited me first was
General Trokin, the Grand Duke’s chief of staff.

When I was well and strong, General Andranik allowed me to help care
for hundreds of Armenian children who had been found in the hands of
the Turks and Armenian refugees who had succeeded in hiding in the
hills and mountains and who now crept in to ask protection of the
Russians. I helped, too, to comfort the girls who had been bought out
of the harems.

When General Andranik moved on with the advancing Russians the Grand
Duke ordered that I be escorted safely to Sari Kamish, where the
railroad begins, and sent from there to Tiflis, the capital of the
Russian Caucasus. When General Andranik bade me good-by he said:

“The Grand Duke has indorsed arrangements for you to be sent to
America, where our poor Armenians have many friends. When you reach
that beloved land tell its people that Armenia is prostrate, torn
and bleeding, but that it will rise again--if America will only help
us--send food for the starving, and money to take them back to their
homes when the war is over.”

As I started away with the escort, toward Sari Kamish, General Andranik
took from his finger a beautiful ring, which, he said, had been his
father’s and his grandfather’s, and put it on my finger. It is the
ring I wear now--all that is left to me of my country.

From Sari Kamish the Grand Duke’s soldiers sent me to Tiflis. There I
was received by representatives of the American Committee for Armenian
and Syrian Relief, and supplied with funds sufficient to take me, with
the Grand Duke’s passport, to Petrograd, Sweden and America.

But when I reached Petrograd all was not well within the city. Already
the Czar had been removed and the government of Minister Kerensky was
losing control of the populace. Rioting in the streets had begun, and
the authorities to whom the Grand Duke and the American representatives
at Tiflis had sent me had been removed or executed.

Again I was friendless and without shelter. I had a great deal of
money, but I could buy hardly any food. For fifty rubles I could
purchase only a loaf of bread. When I became so hungry I stopped kind
looking persons in the street to ask them if they could help me obtain
something to eat, they would look at me sorrowfully, offer me handsful
of paper money, and say they could give me that, but not food. Every
one seemed to have a great deal of money, but things to eat were very
scarce.

No one dared take me in. I found an Armenian church, empty now and
deserted. All the Armenians who had lived in Petrograd had been
frightened away. They had been the first, because of their experiences
in their own country, to scent the coming of trouble, and had
disappeared. I remained in the deserted church for many days, afraid to
go out in the streets, where there was much killing and robbery. Only
in the early morning, when the streets were more quiet, would I venture
to look for food.

At last I saw an American passing the church. I ran out and begged
him, in French, to help me. I showed him my passport and he took me
in a droschky to the American Embassy. Here every one was kind to
me. My passports were changed and the next day I was started toward
Christiania.

The train on which I traveled was stopped many times by bands of
soldiers, who demanded the passports of every one. Although they took
several persons from the train at one stop, my passport was honored and
I went on. The farther we went from Petrograd the quieter the country
became. Then we left all trouble behind and the train speeded on in
what seemed a peaceful and happy land.

At last we reached Christiania and there I found kind friends. They
gave me the first really satisfying food I had had in many days. In
addition they gave me kindness and the quiet of their home. While
awaiting word from the United States, I rested and won back some
measure of my strength.

More funds reached me at Christiania, and I soon found myself aboard
an ocean liner bound for Halifax, on my way to the land of freedom.
From Halifax I came direct to New York. As the Statue of Liberty was
pointed out to me as we entered the harbor, I rejoiced not merely
because I, myself, was safe at last, but because I had at last reached
the country where I was to deliver the message that would bring help to
my suffering people.

Here I found good friends--kindly Americans who have made me as happy
as ever I can be. And, best of all, they are not being kind merely to
one unfortunate girl--they are sending help to those I left behind--to
those who are still alive and lost in the sandy deserts. They have made
it possible for me to tell in this, my book, what General Andranik said
to me:

“Armenia is trusting to her friends--the people of the United States.”

                                THE END



                     SUBSCRIBER’S PLEDGE FOR
                   ARMENIAN AND SYRIAN RELIEF

                  400,000 ORPHANS ARE STARVING
                 4 MILLION PEOPLE ARE DESTITUTE

       M ......................................................

       Street .................................................

       City ...................................................

       Date ........................ State ....................

    To provide food for the starving Armenians, Syrians and Greeks
    in western Asia, I will give EACH MONTH the amount indicated by
    my (X) mark, so long as the need lasts or until canceled by me.

                 +--+-------------------------------+
                 |  | $                             |
                 +--+-------------------------------+
                 |  | $     per month (    orphans) |
                 +--+-------------------------------+
                 |  | $1000 per month (200 orphans) |
                 +--+-------------------------------+
                 |  | $ 500 per month (100 orphans) |
                 +--+-------------------------------+
                 |  | $ 250 per month ( 50 orphans) |
                 +--+-------------------------------+
                 |  | $ 100 per month ( 20 orphans) |
                 +--+-------------------------------+
                 |  | $  50 per month ( 10 orphans) |
                 +--+-------------------------------+
                 |  | $  25 per month (  5 orphans) |
                 +--+-------------------------------+
                 |  | $  10 per month (  2 orphans) |
                 +--+-------------------------------+
                 |  | $   5 per month (  1 orphan)  |
                 +--+-------------------------------+
                 |  | $     per month               |
                 +--+-------------------------------+

    I herewith pay $.......... on the above pledge

             Make checks or money orders payable to
           Cleveland H. Dodge, Treasurer, and mail to

               AMERICAN COMMITTEE FOR ARMENIAN AND
                          SYRIAN RELIEF

    1 Madison Avenue                                 New York City



Ambassador Morgenthau’s Story

By Henry Morgenthau


The one man in the civilized world who can tell of what the Near East
suffered during the Great War is Henry Morgenthau. For Mr. Morgenthau
was United States Ambassador in Constantinople when Germany was forcing
Turkey to act as her tool. His narrative is a story of unexampled
political intrigue and unbelievable absence of honor. And the authority
of his statements is unquestioned.

As a record of what Turkey did to wipe out Armenia from among the
nations, Mr. Morgenthau’s story not only verifies the facts related
by Aurora Mardiganian, but it tells of the cold-blooded plotting of
the statesmen who ordered the crime attempted. For Mr. Morgenthau was
the representative of the United States, and he strove in every way he
could to prevent the tragedy. In these efforts the steps that led up to
the ravishing of Armenia were made plain to him.

“Ambassador Morgenthau’s Story” is a revelation of events that preceded
the breaking off of diplomatic relations with Turkey previous to our
entrance into the war. It tells of events of which Aurora Mardiganian
knew nothing. It makes clear why she and millions of other Armenians
were made to suffer as she has told you in her pitiful story.

          Obtainable at any book-store or from the publishers
                         Doubleday, Page & Co.





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