Page:Ravished Armenia.djvu/29

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21
PROLOGUE

shepherd was bound to return. Then he picked his way down the path that led to the lower slopes where the houses of the city began. With a firm, even step that belied his many years, he strode through the city until he came to the streets marked by the imposing homes of the rich. A short turn along the side of the park that served as a public square brought him to the home of the banker, Mardiganian. In this house Old Vartabed was always welcome. He had been the keeper of herds belonging to three succeeding heads of the Mardiganian families.

A servant woman opened the door in the street wall and admitted the shepherd to the inner garden. When she had closed the door again, the visitor asked:

“Is the Master still within the house, or has he gone this early to his business?”

“Shame upon you for the asking!” the woman replied, with a servant’s quick uncivility to her kind. “Have you forgotten what day it is, that you should think the Master would be at business?”

Amazement showed in the old man’s eyes. The woman saw that he had, indeed, forgotten. She spoke more kindly:

“Do you not know, Vartabed, that this is Easter Sunday morning?”

The old man accepted the reminder, but his dignity quickly reasserted itself. “If you live as many days as Old Vartabed you will wish to forget more than