|A Short Excerpt From The Book|
The caravan of deportees moved along and as the sun began to recede, the deserted landscape somewhere between Palou and Diyarbekir turned cold.
"We stop here for the night," the gendarmes said.
The deportees looked around, searching for shelter, but the entire area was open, treeless. They began settling down, laying blankets. They had been walking for the better part of three days.
"Anahid, bring the blankets," Lucine said. "We will lay them down here."
Bedros labored and he leaned heavily on his cane. Takouhi helped him to sit.
"Oof!" he said. "I am not in shape for this."
"Ah, you will be fine," Takouhi said. He wiped the sweat from his forehead.
"Maritza, come and sit," Lucine said.
Vahe stirred and Maritza held him carefully as she eased down next to Takouhi. Lucine draped one of the blankets around Bedros and Takouhi and draped another over Maritzas shoulders.
"Thank you," she said, drawing the blanket closer around Vahe. She had filled a small, flat flask with water and had fashioned a string around its neck. She pulled it up from underneath her shabeeg, and tugged gently on the cork. She wet her fingers slightly, holding them up to Vahes lips for him to lick.
Anahid took the rugs and the saddlebag from the esh and laid them down near Maritza.
"Anahid, give me those reins," Lucine said.
"Go sit down and rest next to Maritza."
Maritza held the blanket up and Anahid draped it over her shoulders. Lucine brought the esh around and stood in front of the animal.
"Now you listen to me, esh," she said, looking into the animals eyes. "Tonight you lie down and keep us warm."
She slowly brought the reins down and placed her right thumb directly on the center of the animals head. Sarkis had once shown her how to do it and she had never forgotten. The animal went down without protest.
Lucine draped a blanket over her shoulders. She sat, thinking, and was still awake as the others, exhausted, drifted quickly to sleep. As she watched them, thoughts came to her. Sarkis. Hagop. She could feel the tears coming but she ground them out. This was not the time and she would not do it. They could get through this. She knew that they could.
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