Page:Ravished Armenia.djvu/31

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23
PROLOGUE

floor. Over the fireplace hung a rare Madonna; a landscape by a popular Armenian artist, and a Dutch harbor by Peniers hung on the walls at the side. In a corner of the room, under a floor lamp, was a piano. Oriental delight in bright colorings was apparent, but the ensemble was tasteful and subdued.

The shepherd waited, standing, in the center of the room until his employer entered and gave him the Easter morning greeting which Armenia has preserved since the world was young:

“Christ is risen from the dead, my good Vartabed!”

“Blessed be the resurrection of Christ,” the old man replied, as the custom dictates. Then he spoke, with an earnestness which the other man quickly detected, of that which had brought him to the house.

It was a vision he had seen during the night. “ Our Saint Gregory appeared to me in my sleep and pressed his hand upon me heavily. ‘Awake, Old Vartabed; awake! Thy sheep are in danger, even though they be favored of God. Awake and save them!’ This, the good saint said to me. Hurriedly I arose, but when my old eyes were fully opened the vision was gone. I rushed out to the fold, but it was only I who disturbed the flock. They were resting peacefully.

“But I could not sleep again. Each time my eyes closed our Saint stood before me, seeming to reprove my idleness. At dawn I took my sheep to the hills—and then I remembered!”