Page:Ravished Armenia.djvu/28

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20
PROLOGUE

not at the stretches of welcome green which soon would soothe the bleating of his sheep, but across into the north beyond, where the blue line of the Euphrates was lost in the haze of dawn. What his old eyes sought there, he did not know; but something seemed to threaten from up there in the north.

Suddenly the lazy, droning call to the Third Prayer, with which the devout Mohammedan greets the light of day, floated up from the valley at Old Vartabed’s feet. It brought the shepherd out of his reverie abruptly. “There, that was it! That was the sign. The danger might come from the north, but it would show itself first, whatever it was to be, in the city.”

The shepherd looked down into the valley, onto the housetops and the narrow, winding streets that separated them. He caught the glint of the minaret as the muezzin again intoned his summons. Quickly his eyes leaped across the city to where the first glimpse of sunshine played about a crumbled pile of brown and gray—the ruins of the castle of Tchemesh, an ancient Armenian king. A piteous sadness gathered in his face. The minaret still stood; the castle of the king was fallen. That was why there were two sets of prayers in the city, and why trouble was coming out of the north.

The old man planted his stick upright in the ground as a sign to his sheep that where the stick stood their