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127
RECRUITING FOR HAREMS OF CONSTANTINOPLE

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.