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