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OLD VARTABED AND THE SHEPHERD’S CALL

of Ahmed Bey’s personal retainers came for me. He lifted me roughly and dragged me with him across the court and into the road in front of the house. A little way from the garden wall there was a group of other zaptiehs.

Among them I saw my mother, little Hovnan and Mardiros and little Sarah, my brothers and sister, and the others of my mother’s party. I had told Nazim where they were when I pleaded with him to restore them to me—and he had sent for them.

I tried to break away, to run toward them. The zaptieh at my side held me. My mother was kneeling, with her hands lifted to heaven. Sarah ran toward me, her arms stretched out. “Aurora—Aurora—don’t let them kill us!” Sarah cried. The zaptieh swung the heavy handle of his whip high in the air and brought it down on Sarah’s head so that the blow flung her little body far out of the path. She did not move again. I think the blow must have crushed in my little sister’s head.

Mother saw—and so did Hovnan and Mardiros. Mother fell to the ground, motionless. A zaptieh lifted her and struck her with his whip.

I fell upon my knees before the chief of the zaptiehs. “Spare my mother—spare my brothers!” I cried to him. “I will do anything you wish—I will belong to Allah—I will thank him only—if you will spare them!”