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.