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171
THE RAID ON THE MONASTERY

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