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THE GAME OF THE SWORDS, AND DIYARBEKIR

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