Page:Ravished Armenia.djvu/39

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into the room. She stopped just inside the door, and leaned against the wall. She did not say a word—just looked at me.

“Mother, what is it?” I cried. She did not answer, but silently pointed to the window. Lusanne and I ran at once to look down into the street There at the gate to our yard stood three Turkish gendarmes, each with a rifle, rigidly on guard. On their arms was the band that marked them as personal attendants of Husein Pasha, the military commandant in our district.

I turned to my mother for an explanation. She had fallen in a heap on the floor and was weeping. She did not speak, but pointed downward and I knew that Husein Pasha had come to our house, and was downstairs. Then my happiness was gone, and I, too, fell to the floor and cried. Somehow I felt that the end had come.

For a long time the powerful Husein Pasha, who was very rich and a friend of the Sultan himself, had wanted me for his harem. His big house sat in the midst of beautiful gardens, just outside the city. There he had gathered more than a dozen of the prettiest Christian girls from the surrounding towns. In Armenia the Mutassarif, or Turkish commandant, is an official of great power. He accepts no orders, except those that come direct from the Sultan’s ministers, and, as a rule, he is cruel and autocratic.

It is dangerous for an Armenian father to displease