shoulders and tried to comfort me. I closed my eyes and seemed to see my father and mother and sisters and brothers, all lying dead in the massacre I feared would come, sooner or later. And Husein Pasha had said I could save them! But I couldn’t disobey my father. Suddenly I thought of Father Rhoupen.
I broke away from my mother and ran out of the house, through the back entrance and into the street that led to the church where Father Rhoupen was waiting for his congregation. No one had had the courage to tell the holy man of the news from Van. When I ran into the little room behind the altar he was wondering why his people had not come.
I fell at his feet, and it was a long time before I could stop my tears long enough to tell him why I was there. But he knew something had happened. He stroked my hair, and waited. When I could speak I told him of the visit of Husein Pasha, and what he said to us—and then I told him of the message the horseman had brought. I pleaded with him to tell me that it would be right for me to send word to Husein Pasha that I would be his willing concubine if he would only save my parents and my brothers and sisters.
Father Rhoupen made me tell it twice. When I had finished the second time he put a hand on my head and said, “Let us ask God, my child!”
Then Father Rhoupen prayed.
He asked God to guide me in the way I should go.