Page:Ravished Armenia.djvu/34

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26
PROLOGUE

another moment he would have been gone when a fresh, youthful voice arrested him.

“Vartabed—wait; I am coming!”

The old man stopped abruptly. Looking back he saw coming toward him the one who was closer to his heart than any other living thing—Arshalus, a daughter of the Mardiganians.

Arshalus—that means “The Light of the Morning.” There is but one word in America into which the Armenian name can be translated —“The Aurora.” And no other would be so fitting. She was a merry-eyed child of fourteen years, hair and eyes as black as night; smile and spirit as sunny as the brightest day. Every sheep in Old Vartabed’s flock was her pet, especially the black ones.

When she reached the waiting shepherd Aurora quickly discovered that he was glum, and she chose to be piqued about it.

“Surely you were not going without wishing me the happiness of the Easter time, or has Old Vartabed ceased to care for the one who plagues him so much?” She made a great show of pouting, but the old man’s hurt could not be so easily mended. Perhaps the sight of Aurora intensified it.

“It is idle to wish happiness; it is better to give it. When one has none to give he has no mission. I have no joy to give to-day, even to you, my Aurora, and so I had not thought of seeking you.”