H. M Knadjian.

The eternal struggle; a word picture of Armenia's fight for freedom online

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crying of a woman in torture. He sprang from his knees and
ran to the door. He tried to open it, but could not. He knocked
on it loudly. There was no answer. He banged violently, again
and again. Still silence ! He called them by name, commanding
them to open the door. The girl heard him and in a voice that
was scarcely audible said, "Holy Father, help me; they are
tormenting me. I cannot resist; they are assaulting me."

The old Prelate, tears in his eyes, thundered impreca-


tions against them and threatened them with dire punishment.
He was ignored ; they did not take any notice of him.

In desperation, uttering a deep groan, he went back to
his chair and sat down. He was unable to help. They were
butchering his flock, violating the women and he was power-
less, impotent, tied hand and foot. Why should he live? Was
his life more valuable than any of their lives? Would it not be
better to die with his beloved people? The blood rushed into
his head; his mind was unbalanced. He saw the pocket knife
on the table, snatched it, bared his arm and severed an artery.
The red fluid spurted forth in a stream. At sight of it, he
smiled. It flowed copiously on his desk. It reddened the manu-
script of a book he was writing. A faintness came over him;
he dropped his head on his arm. Gradually he slipped off and
fell heavily on the floor.

The noise of the falling roused the zaptiahs from their
criminal indulgence. They opened the door and discovered
that the Archbishop was lying on his back, in a pool of blood,
his bleeding wrist on his face, the white patriarchal beard
soaked in red. They were frightened. The order to them was
to see that no harm would overtake the prisoner. They stop-
ped the bleeding immediately by bandaging the arm and laid
him on the sofa.

When Archbishop Khoren regained consciousness, he
found himself surrounded by friends and under the care of
a physician.

Pastor Abuhiattian was martyred with a group of the
members of his congregation, who had gathered together in
a house, the door of which was barricaded. The mob broke
through it and put every one of them to the sword, except the
women and the children, whom they led off to the nearest
mosque as captives. Abuhiattian's body was afterwards put
across a donkey's back, face downwards, arms and legs hang-
ing, carried outside the city and thrown into a hole, as a spec-
ial dishonor to his rank, as he was well known as a man of
high education and saintliness.

There were twelve priests ministering to the spiritual
needs of the congregation of the National Apostolic Church
before the massacre. Only two survived. The religious heads
were severally marked for sacrifice.

The prominent and influential men in the community


were sought after and brought forth from their hiding places
under promise of protection and slaughtered.

The number of young men among the victims was com-
paratively small. Most of them were in prison, where they
remained until after the storm. Many escaped by concealing
themselves in subterranean vaults or running away to the

The houses that did not lose a member were exceptional.
Some families were annihilated.

Later on we took the census of the people; we set down
by name, in black and white, and found, besides many wound-
ed, over twenty-three hundred casualties, most of whom burn-
ed to death in the cathedral.

What Euripides said about Troy was literally fulfilled
in Ourfa :

"When a still city lieth in the hold
Of Desolation, all God's spirit there
Is sick and turns from worship."

At night the women were apportioned among the mur-
derers. The young and the beautiful ones were taken to the
harems and the elderly ones sent back to their homes.

The government commandeered the Jewish population
of the city, to remove the bodies of the dead and to cleanse
the streets.

There was not a store or a house left untouched ; the act
of plundering was complete. The Turks had not learned that
"Riches are no bulwark to the man who in wantonness hath
spurned from his sight the mighty altar of Righteousness."



O miracle of woman . . .

O noble heart <who, being strait-besieged

By this wild king to force her to his wish,

Nor bent, nor broke, nor shunn'd a soldier's death.


A few weeks after the massacre, three Armenian girls
were visiting each other in Hassan Bey's house. They had
been captured and carried away by the Turks. One of them,
Mariam, a mere girl of eighteen, was lamenting the death of
her parents. She was telling how her father was killed, how
her mother springing to his help was clubbed to death. "When
I rushed on the heartless butchers asking them not to kill my
mother, she told me to run away and hide myself. But where
could I hide the place was full of wild men. Before I took
half a dozen steps, a Turk grabbed my arm and brought me
to his house."

The other girl, a young woman of twenty, deplored her
life of captivity. She said she was engaged to be married to a
fine man. They arrested him for no reason whatsoever. Dur-
ing the massacre she had taken refuge in a neighbor's house,
where many had gathered. After killing all the men, the mur-
derers had led the women to the mosque, where, later, one
man had chosen her as his prize.

The third woman was the wife of the late Vartan Emer-
zian, a man of wealth and influence and a member of the
Civic Council of the city. Lucia, a highly educated woman,
after listening to the distressing stories of her two companions
said: "Girls, do you know that death is preferable to a life of
shame ? We have many instances in our glorious history, when
our honorable ancestors endured torture and death sooner than
submit to their captors. I remember when I was in college I
learned by heart, parts of a tragic drama, written by Euripides,
one of the ancient Greek poets, on the occasion of the destruc-
tion of Troy. It applies to our condition
To die is only not to be ;
And better to be dead than grievously
Living. They have no pain, they ponder not
Their own wrong. But the living that is brought
From joy to heaviness, his soul doth roam,
As in a desert, lost from its old home.


Lucia Emerzian was a handsome woman, twenty-six
years of age, used to a life of luxury and comfort. She had
a happy home, loved dearly her husband and only child, a
boy of four.

All the three girls were silent for a few moments. They
were thinking of what Euripides had said. They remembered
their former homes, the dear ones all passed away. How happy
and free they used to be. Their eyes filled with tears.

Lucia spoke again, more soliloquizing than addressing
her companions. "My troubles began on the day that my hus-
band invited his fellow members to a banquet in our house.
Hassan Bey was one of them. I was superintending the wait-
ers in serving the dinner. I noticed that he stared at me con-
tinually. It was embarrassing ; but I did not attach importance
to it.

"After that he called again, pretending that he had bus-
iness to transact with my husband. I surmised his real motive.
His roaming eyes betrayed his purpose. He looked for a chance
to see me, but I did not appear. This must have inflamed his
patssion more than ever.

"I told my husband. He laughed and made light of it.
He assured me that I was mistaken. Hassan Bey was not that
sort of man.

"During the carnage he sent his men to invite us
to his house for protection. My husband suspected treachery
and refused to go. At this one of them stabbed him. He fell
in a pool of blood. Before he breathed his last, they caught me
with my baby boy, and dragged us out of the house. He cast
at me a piteous glance and with a heart-rending groan, gave
up the ghost. Since that hour his beloved face has never left
me. When I am alone in the dark, I see him beckoning me to
come to him. As the time goes on, my bitterness and anger,
instead of being assuaged, are getting keener and more deadly
against the despicable betrayer.

"The first night Hassan Bey tried to win me by words
of condolence; hypocritically expressing sorrow for the death
of his friend, as if I did not know who were the real perpetrat-
ors of the crime. My flesh shrank at his touch. He did not
even give me time to calm myself. He was crazy with lust.
His stored up passion found vent on the first occasion. I was
helpless; I was his slave. O, the loathsomeness of it! The in-
human torture ! I put up a deathly struggle, but he was strong ;


he subdued me. I despise him with an unquenchable abhor-

She spoke to herself, once more from the same author,
addressing the dead

"O, my best beloved,

That, being mine, wast all in all to me . .

No man's touch had ever come

N^ar me, when thou from out my father's home

Didst lead me and make me thine . . And thou art dead."

Araxy said, "Sister Lucia, you must be patient. God has
given you a darling child. You will take care of him and be
strengthened and comforted in his companionship. Bring him
up as an Armenian and a Christian. He will grow up and take
his father's place and release you from this house of bondage."

These words stirred Lucia Emerzian to the depth of her
heart. Tears started to flow. She held the child and pressed
him hard on her breast, with a strange premonition that a
more disasterous calamity was hanging over her head.

Hagopik was a lovely boy, with curly hair, dimpled
cheeks and a prattling tongue. He never left his mother's side.
He slept in the same room. He cried bitterly in the dark, when
she was disturbed and tormented by the man, her master. Has-
san Bey told her to keep him apart, to make him sleep in an-
other room. She would not listen to him; she could not trust
him away from her sight. The child was a thorn in his flesh ;
he annoyed him continually. The whole of Lucia's love was
centered in the boy ; the only way to turn her feelings towards
himself was to remove the object of affection. That is how the
Turk reasoned.

He set his negro slave, the eunuch of the harem, to watch
for a chance. He instructed him carefully. Hassan Bey's pal-
ace was a large building, divided into two parts, one for men
and one for women. Lucia lived in a room on the second floor,
on the north side of the courtyard, separated from the other
female inmates. The negro's constant attendance about her
was explained that, as she had so entirely supplanted the
wives, it would not be safe to be left alone. Who knows what
mischief they might hatch.

One day she went down stairs, leaving the boy alone
in the room. When she returned the boy was not there. She
looked everywhere. She could not find him. She called him;
there was no answer. "O, God, where is my child?" She rushed


out to ask the negro. He was nowhere to be seen. She went
to the other women: "Have pity on me; where is Hagopik?"
They would not, or could not tell. She went to the men's part
of the house. Hassan Bey's young son, Noori, met her.

"Have you seen my son, Noori Effendi?"

"No, what happened?"

"They have stolen my boy."

"Who has stolen your boy? And why?"

"Look for him, Noori Effendi, please."

He went to his father's office and told him that the Ar-
menian boy had disappeared and no one knew where he had
gone. Hassan Bey frowned at his son and told him not to
bother his head about such things. "Go to your books." He
was studying to be a lawyer.

Meanwhile Lucia entered. "My son, my son; they have
kidnapped him." she cried with dry eyes.

"Calm yourself, Lucia. You need not shout at me like
that. Who has kidnapped your son?"

She winced as if a blow had been struck. She felt a grip-
ping of the heart. It suddenly flashed upon her mind. "Here
is my child's murderer," she thought Without another word,
she turned and ran away.

In the courtyard she saw the eunuch just coming out of
an underground room. She ran to him: "Please Abdo. where
is Hagopik?" He was shaking all over. He was not looking at
her. He was looking over her head towards the entrance of
the Harem. She turned and just caught Hassan Bey making
a sign. The negro led the way to the cellar. She found her
child's strangled body with a violin string around his neck.

She took the body up and carried it to her room and put
it down on the bed. She untied the cord, removed the shoes
and smoothed down the clothes. "They have killed my child,"
she muttered. "The wolves! He is gone to join his father. My
darling boy. My heart's desire. My only stay in life. Why
should I live any longer?"

Suddenly the flood gates opened and tears rained down
her cheeks. "O, my son, my son; I would that I were dead
in your place. It is bitter to lose you after your father. I was
able to bear my lot as long as you lived. Now that you are
gone, there is no reason why I should continue to live. Could
a man's heart be so callous and insensible as to kill an inno-
cent baby? The crowning cruelty of it! Helpless little child!


You must have struggled hard. Look how savagely they have
pulled your hair those sweet-scented curls, which I used to
kiss fondly. Your lips are silent and blue ; how red they were,
like a rosebud, prattling sweet nothings, grandest music to
your mother's ears! Ah, those laughing eyes, your father's
eyes, forever closed, closing with them my light, my sun. Limp
are the tender arms, that would encircle my neck and kiss
me with wet mouth. No more will I hear the pattering feet;
jumping in my bed and curling his soft warm body to my
breast. O, God, endure it! I cannot. Hagopik, awake; speak to
me; smile!"

She fell prone on the bed, swooning. For a long time
she remained in that position. When she gained consciousness
and once more realized what had taken place, she stood erect,
raising her hands to heaven, she swore eternal vengeance: "I
shall live! I shall find a way to revenge this collossal, inexpi-
able atrocity."

After covering the body with a sheet, she went out to
look for Hassan Bey. She found him in the harem with the
women, chattering and laughing. At her appearance they
ceased talking. She said quite calmly: Hassan Bey, I have
come to beg a boon. May I have the body of my slaughtered
baby buried in the Armenian cemetery, by a priest, with
Christian funeral rite?"

"Why trouble so much about a dead child," he answered.
"I will see that it is interred properly. It shall not be cast into
one of the holes, where many other corpses are piled up. A
separate grave shall be dug for your son in our burial ground
to lie in by himself."

"No, please. Grant me this request. This is the only
favor that I have ever made bold to ask of you."

Hassan Bey thought the time had come to give her a
piece of salutary advice. "Lucia, you know that you have al-
most exhausted my patience. . . How long are you going to
cling so fiercely to your old prejudices? If you were wiser you
would let bygones be bygones. I know it is painful. Endure
it like a brave woman and adapt yourself to your new sur-
roundings. You have not strength enough to resist. Look
around you; can you see any help coming from any quarter?
Your people are all killed; the Armenian nation is non-exist-
ent ; your husband is dead ; you are a lone woman and a pris-
oner. Can you battle against destiny? This is your kismet. For


your own good I would admonish you to refrain from creating

All this time, Lucia standing there, in front of the snick-
ering women, who reclined in various voluptuous positions,
on dais and divan, was trying to control her quivering body.
Her lips moved, but no word came from them,

Hassan Bey saw and his anger was kindled. "Now you
are cursing ; are you not ? Utter one single word against me or
mine, your baby shall have no burial. It shall be tossed naked
outside the city, for dogs and birds of prey to devour it."

Eyes brimming with tears, she entreated him. "I will
do whatever you tell me. I will obey your every command.
Only let me have a Christian burial for my child."

While the Turkish women experienced a diabolical pleas-
ure at her sufferings, the man relented. "Very well, you can
have your wish. Only you cannot be present at the funeral
service. You must not go to the church yard. I will not allow

"No, I will not. Permit me to write a note to one of the
priests and ask him to come and take the body away and bury
it decently, in accordance with our ancient usage."

"That is not necessary. A priest enter my house ! Never !
I will tell Abdo to make a box, in which you can put the body
and he will carry it to the church."

"May I write a note to the priest and explain what to

"You may do so. But be careful what you write. Do not
say anything treasonable in your note. I will have it translated
before sending."

In due time the body was removed and properly buried
in the churchyard.

For a while Lucia controlled her feelings and made her-
self agreeable to the man, against whom she had sworn im-
placable revenge. He thought she had been tamed.

Lucia Emerzian was an attractive woman young, hand-
some and healthy. She had a pair of beautiful black eyes,
shaded by arching dark brows. Her tall and slender body, full
and rounded, had the quality of alluring the masculine sex.
She was the kind of woman that men turned twice to look at.
Her captor was very fond of her; in fact, he was in love with
her, if such a term could be applicable to a Turk with many
wives. He spent most of his time at home in her company. He


did not allow her to be seen by other men. He was jealous
even of his own son of twenty-two, who had a great liking
for the Armenian lady, as he called her.

In his father's absence, he would seek her out and con-
verse with her. She encouraged him. He was attracted not
only by her good looks, but also by her intelligence and learn-
ing. He was a broad-minded young man. He questioned her
about her college life, about the subjects she had studied, and
about the number of languages she could speak.

"But Noori Effendi," she told him one day, "you should
not come to see me so frequently . . . Your father does not
like it."

"I am doing no harm. Besides I like you."

Another day he tried to embrace her. She resisted. But
all the same he kissed her. She conceived a plan. A desperate

She would dress temptingly and meet him. Their friend-
ship thickened. They were less careful. Hassan Bey noticed
it. Spoke to his son to keep away from Lucia. Warned her
against Noori. At the same time, he did not take it seriously
but considered it a temporary boyish infatuation.

Friday is the Moslem Sunday; they are not supposed to
work on that day. After the midday prayers in the mosque,
father and son came home together. The former went out with
some friends for a horseback ride. Noori stayed in the house.
He was hanging around to get a chance to go to Lucia. She
watched him from her room. After a while she took a towel
and went down stairs to the hammam, with which many of the
rich Turkish residences are provided. She did not lock the
door ; left it a little ajar. Noori saw her and cautiously follow-
ed. Went in and closed the door. She told him to go away;
they might be detected. He tried to kiss her. She pushed him
away. With inflamed passion, he grabbed her, putting his
arms around her body, kissed her lips, shoulders, breasts. She
pretended to resist, to struggle. At last they heard footsteps.
The door opened and a woman, the rival of Noori's mother,
stood on the threshold. He stopped immediately and rushed
out, pushing the woman to one side, nearly knocking her down.

They were betrayed. The woman told Hassan Bey about
the affair. He was furious. He thundered against his son. He
threatened him. The young man did not deny anything . He
went so far as to state that she was not his wife, why should


he be concerned about it? "Besides," he said, "I love her." This
was the limit. The elder man took down his horse whip and
gave his son a sound thrashing. The boy did not move. He
received his punishment with fortitude. Only his white face
and flashing eyes showed his bitter resentment against his

Hassan Bey marched to Lucia's room, whip in hand, still
chafing with indignation. She had listened to his wrathful
words and heard the sound of the whipping. Was it her turn
now? She would not be beaten by this man. She stood in the
middle of the chamber, waiting for him. One look, however, at
her challenging attitude and proud, fearless demeanor, was
enough to bring him back to his senses. He lowered his arm
and asked: "What is this I hear about Noori and yourself?"

"What can I do?" she complained. "He follows me every-

"Why do you not kick him out?"

"It does not make any difference."

"I warn you to be careful ; that is all."

He left the room, growling to himself. "I will stop him,
the scamp." He felt like killing him, when he realized that the
wretch had dared to embrace her. He wondered what share
Lucia had had in this affair.

Lucia, however, did not relinquish her purpose. She not
only did not desist from being friendly with him, but also used
every feminine device, to allure the inexperienced youth and
to tempt him to acts of indiscretion.

Four months had gone by since the great massacre. It
was spring. Hassan Bey's large family arranged to go to a
picnic in one of the gardens surrounding the city. Lucia was
invited to join them, but she said she would rather stay at
home. She was still in mourning for the death of her son. All
the servants went with the women to take care of them. So
Lucia was left alone in the house.

Noori knew this. He told his father that he would like
to go to the garden and eat supper there with the family. He
came straight to the house, opened the door quietly and went
in. This time, he had resolved, to satisfy his craving.

Lucia heard him and surmised why he had come. She
began to undress, pretending that she was changing her gar-
ments. When he appeared at the entrance of the room, she


asked him to wait outside. He, however, leaped at her savage-
ly. She pushed him away. A struggle ensued.

Meanwhile Hassan Bey, suspecting Noori's intentions,
had followed him. As he opened the front door, Lucia heard
and guessed who it was. She raised such a piercing cry for
help that the elder man ran upstairs, taking two and three
steps at a time. He found his son in her bedroom.

Hassan Bey had been in the habit of carrying a poniard
on his person, since the massacre, in self protection against
any attack by a vengeful and desperate Armenian. He drew
it and rushed at his son, who at the sight of his father had
risen to face him. Without a moment's hesitation Hassan Bey
plunged the knife into his heart. The young man fell to the
floor, gasping for breath. The father stood watching his dying
boy. He was dazed, rendered insensible.

Lucia came forward and picked up the dagger. It was
red with the young blood of her enemy's son. She examined
it, and felt its sharp point with her fingers.

Suddenly she burst out into a fit of laughter, with such
a triumphant note that it jarred upon the feelings of the man.
He turned around to see the reason for such exultation. He
saw her raise the knife high in the air and heard as from a
far distance "Thank God, I am requited. Rest in your grave,
my beloved husband. I join you soon. Hassan Bey, I am paid
in kind a son for a son. Goodbye."

Before he could take a step, she buried the cold steel in
her tender flesh and with a blood curdling scream, fell across
the dead body of the young man.



But what more oft, in nations grown corrupt,
And by their vices brought to servitude,
Than to love bondage more than liberty
Bondage laith ease, than strenuous liberty
And to despise, or envy, or suspect,
Whom God hath of His special favour raised
As their deliverer? If he aught begin,
HOVJ frequent to desert him, and at last
To heap ingratitude on worthiest deeds.


The survivors of the massacre of Ourfa, with character-
istic promptitude immediately started the work of reconstruc-
tion. Befor long the fallen walls were raised, the broken doors
and windows repaired, the dirt and debris from the streets
removed; the whole ruined section of the city had a prosper-
ous and flourishing appearance once more. It is a national trait

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Online LibraryH. M KnadjianThe eternal struggle; a word picture of Armenia's fight for freedom → online text (page 16 of 21)