Page:Ravished Armenia.djvu/35

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27
PROLOGUE

“That is very wrong, Vartabed. To-day Christ is risen, and there is joy everywhere. And even more for me than many others. Just yesterday my father told me that before another Easter comes I am to go away co finish my schooling—to Constantinople, or, perhaps, to Switzerland or Paris. Does that not make you happy for me, Vartabed?”

For an instant the old man gazed down upon the upturned face. Then his hand reached for the gate again, as if to give support to the tall, straight body that seemed to droop. Aurora thought she had pained him. With an impulsive fondness she raised her hands as if to rest them upon the old man’s breast. But before she could reach him the shepherd was gone, and the gate had closed between them.

An hour later Old Vartabed again stood on the summit of the hill, looking down upon the city and the plains of the Mamuret-ul-Aziz, bathed, now, in the glory of the full morning sun. A few miles to the south lay the ridges and long abandoned tunnels which, according to tradition, once were the busy workings of Solomon’s mines. Harpout, where the caravans stop; Van, the metropolis, and Sivas, the “City of Hope,” were far beyond the horizon, outpost cities of a nation which was born before history. The old man’s thoughts visited each of these jewel cities in turn, and pictured the hope and faith with which they celebrated the coming of Easter. Then he turned again to the