Page:Ravished Armenia.djvu/163

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155
IN THE HAREM OF HADJI GHAFOUR

asked. “I belong to Christ—in His keeping I must remain,” the girl replied. The negro’s whip fell across her shoulders. When she screamed for mercy the Khateeb bared his feet, stepped upon the prayer rug and turned to Mecca. “Allah is most great; there is no God but Allah!” his voice droned. The negro flung the girl onto the carpet. He held his cruel whip ready to strike again if she did not quickly kneel. Her face also turned to Mecca as she stumbled to her knees. Her flesh already was torn and bleeding. Terror of the whip was in her heart. To escape it she could only say the rek’ah—“There is no God but Allah and Mohammed is his prophet.”

Wrhen the last one had recited the sacrilegious creed the Khateeb folded the prayer rug and left the room. Hadji Ghafour, smiling now, ordered us all to stand before his guests again. All were apostates now except me, whom the Turks thought had previously taken the oath, else I would not have been in the party which I had joined. The law as well as Hadji Ghafour’s piousness allowed them to do with us now as they chose.

One by one they selected us, according to their fancies—Hadji Ghafour first, and then his guests. How they had arranged the order of choice I do not know, but they had agreed among themselves. There were five or six girls for each of the Turks. I was among those ordered aside for Hadji Ghafour, who had also