The Flag

The turkish government was always suspicious of my father residing in the Armenian village of Bardezag. The village contained 10,000 inhabitants, every one of whom with the exception of the lone "mudir" and his two servants were Armenians.

Every once in so often the Turkish Governor of N_____ felt it incumbent upon himself to quarter in the village some Turkish troops.These troops pitched their tents on a rough plateau to one side of the village. The excuses offered for their sojourn was to protect the Christian inhabitants from possible attacks of the neighboring Turkish villages. The real reason for their sojourn, however, was to have the soldiers fed.

I was a patriotic Britisher. We had no flag but with my mother's help and a colored plate and an old edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica and a sewing machine, we made a flag which every once in so often I raised on the home-made pole on the tiled roof of our house. The pole was fastened with wires to the chimney.

A massacre had occurred some four hours distance away. Upon hearing this, my father had immediately gone over to look into it. The troops at the time were quartered in the village. Mistaken zeal induced me to place the flag at half mast.

When my father returned that night, he found our house surrounded by troops and found me valiantly defending the portals. I knew that a house occupied by an Englishman in Turkey was, in truth, his castle, and it was entirely logical not to allow any unwanted person to enter. So - I had kept the soldiers at bay all that day. As my father approached the house he met an officer who was beside himself with rage at having been prevented from entering the house and tearing down the flag. My father in true diplomatic fashion invited the officer in and had a sumptuous repast prepared for him. Finally this calmed his rage and induced the officer to call off his men and retire to his quarters.

I was sent to take in the flag and then sent up to bed.

Robert Chambers main page ęCopyright 2000