Page:Ravished Armenia.djvu/70

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62
RAVISHED ARMENIA

Soon we saw Turks, both rich citizens and military officers, walking about in the square roughly examining the Christian girls. When they were pleased by a girl’s appearance these beys and aghas tried to persuade their mothers to let them profess Mohammedanism and go away with them, promising to save her relatives from deportation. When mothers refused the Turks often struck them. Officers killed some mothers who clung too closely to their daughters.

Many young girls gave in to the Turks and agreed to swear faith in Allah for the sake of their mothers, sisters and brothers. Toward evening the khateeb, or keeper of the mosque, was brought to receive their “conversions.”

More than fifty girls took the oath. Just as soon as the oaths were all taken the officers signaled to the zaptiehs and they took all these girls away from their families and gathered them at one side of the square. Then the richer beys began to examine the apostasized girls. The soldiers would give a girl to the one who paid them the most money, unless an officer also wanted her. The higher military officers were given first choice.

One by one the soldiers dragged the girls who had sacrificed their religion in vain to save their mothers and relatives out of the square and toward the homes of the Turks. Lusanne and I had gone close to watch our chance to speak once more to mother. We saw