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Page:Ravished Armenia.djvu/236

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Bekran awaited us in his selamlik. I shuddered when I saw him—he was so old and withered and cruel looking. A negress waited upon him. He sat on the floor in the old fashion. The selamlik was barren and ill-kept. Everywhere there was dirt. Bekran’s flowing garments, once of rich texture, were ragged and frayed. Yet I knew Bekran must be very rich—from the profits the helplessness of Armenians had brought him.

We fell upon our knees before him—then we bent into the posture of the Mohammedans—we wanted so much to make him listen to our pleading. I had suffered so much, I thought surely I could persuade this old man to let me go to my mother again. But Bekran did not even speak. His eyes roved over us—I could feel them. He signed to the hammal and the man lifted us to our feet, one by one, that his master might see our height, our size and judge of our attractiveness. Then he gave another sign and we were taken across the inside court, through a stone doorway, and into a large room where there were a number of other Armenian girls, with here and there a Circassian or a Russian from the Caucasus, among them.

Soon the hammal came into the room with figs and bread. I could not eat, neither could any of the four girls who had been of my mother’s party from Ourfa. Few of the others ate, either—as all had come but