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233
OLD VARTABED AND THE SHEPHERD’S CALL

they flung him aside Mardiros’s body fell almost at my feet.

Hovnan wrapped his arms around the zaptieh who was beating my mother, but his strength was too feeble. The zaptieh did not even notice him until my mother’s body relaxed and I knew she was dead. Then he drew his knife and plunged it into little Hovnan.

It was only a little while—two minutes, perhaps, or three, that I stood there, held by the zaptieh. But in those short minutes all that belonged to me in this world was swept away—my mother, Mardiros and Hovnan, and Sarah. Their bodies were at my feet. Both mother and Hovnan died with their eyes turned to me, looking into mine! My eyes see them now, every day and every night—every hour, almost—when I look out into the new world about me. I must keep them closed for hours at a time to shut the vision out.

I heard Nazim Bey give an order to his zaptiehs. Some of them picked up the bodies of my dear ones and carried them away, I do not know where. The others lifted me off the ground—I could not walk—and carried me to the house and back to the room where the divan was. For two days and nights no one came near me but the slave girls. All that time I cried; I could not keep the tears from coming. That was when my eyes gave way; that is why I cannot see very well now without glasses.