Open main menu

Page:Ravished Armenia.djvu/76

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

Toward noon of that day Vahby Bey, the military commandant of the whole vilayet, who had under him almost an army corps, rode into the city with his staff and a company of hamidieh, or Kurdish cavalry. He was on his way to Harpout, from Erzindjan, a big city in the north, where he had attended a council of war with Enver Pasha, the Turkish Commander-in-Chief.

Vahby Bey walked from his headquarters into the public square, accompanied by his staff. Hundreds of women crowded around him, but his staff officers beat them away with swords and canes. The general walked at once to the band-stand and looked at the children. Abdoullah Bey, the chief of the gendarmes, was with him, and they talked in low voices.

When Vahby Bey had gone, several officers began to ask Armenian girls if they would like to accompany the orphans and take care of them in the place where the government would put them. The officers said they would take several girls for this purpose, and thus save them the terrors of deportation and death, or worse, if they would first agree to become Mohammedan.

Many mothers thought this the only way to save their daughters from the harem. Some of the younger women, among them brides whose husbands had been killed, were so discouraged and frightened they were eager to accept this chance. The officers