Newspaper Page Text
p i V
Crucifixion of Armenian Chris
tians As Snown in the Remark
able Film Story of Little
Aurora Mardiganian' Experi
ences with "the' Cruel Turks.
From "Ravished Armenia," the Motion Picture Being Exhibited by the American Committee for Relief in
the Near East in Their Drive for $30,0001000 to Save the Perishing Armenians.
How Little Aurora, the Rescued Waif,
Helped to Raise the Armenian Relief
Fund to Save the Remnants of Her
rrO the ballroom of. the Hotel Plaza
the other day came a little figure
which strangely contrasted with all
that surrounded it She hesitated at the
door; a tear glistened in her eyes. It was
Aurora Mardiganianthe little waif who
was rescued from the clutches of the Turks
by the American Committee for Armenian
Instead of the bright lights of that New
York ballroom, she remembered the dark
ness of the tents of the bestial Kurds, who
had possessed her not so many .months
The music of the orchestra was strangely
different from the rattle of the Turkish
drums which beat a call to summon an
The warmth of the ballroom recalled by
' contrast the cold nights on the Armenian
Her own dress, though simple, and the
yening gowns of the fashionable women
about her so different from the bare feet
a&d rags of herself and ber companions
during the two and a half years of wan
derings in desolated Armenia.
And, strangest of all, to stand now a
captive between the kindly protecting fig
ures of Mrs. Oliver Harriman and Mrs.
jjrorge W. Vanderbilt thfs girl, who had
ydbipen held captive in the harems of the
'wealthy Turks, had been dragged to the
"tents of wild Kurdish chiefs, who had
jbeen carried off into captivity slung on the
readdle q! an Arab raider, who had been
'purchased by a slave dealer and sold on
'the auction block to the highest bidder.
With a helping hand Mrs'. Harriman as
sisted the little waif to a chair, for the
bones of Aurora's left foot have been
.painfully crushed. Although rescued By
the Armenian Relief Committee from the
cruelties of the Turks and Kurds, yet the
feirl I? literally still suffering for Armenia.
"And gladly suffering.
The readers of this page are already
"familiar with the story of Aurora Mar
'diganlan's sufferings at the bands of her
persecutors. They have read of the de
struction before her eyes of her father, her
mother, her brothers, her sisters, all her
relatives, all the residents of her native
'city. And it was the heartrending story
6t this rescued waif which the American
Committee for Relief in the Near East de
cided to put into a vivid motion picture to
assist in its campaign to raise $30,000,000
to save the perishing remnants of ravished
- Naturally, the girl herself in re-enacting
wthose terrible scenes was a central figure
la the film. And in playing her part in
- "teae episode she met a mishap.
-i The scene being taken was the repro
duction of Aurora's escape from the harem
of Hadji Ghafour, the Turkish Holy Man
;jof Geulick. Aurora and Miss Graham, an
English missionary, who was young and
pretty, and who voluntarily had Joined the
Armenian exiles, had been stolen by the
Kurds from their party in the midst of the
desert. ' The Kurdish chief, struck by tho
attractiveness of the two girls, had carried
them on his horse to Geulick, where Hadji
Ghafour bargained for them and eventually
While she was waiting for her "be
trothal" at the hands of Hadji Chafour
(when one of his new girls was summoned
in the evening to the Hadji's apartments
it was her "betrothal") , Aurora saw one
Armenian girl captive hung by her heels,
from a window-sill outside the harerallk
until she died, and she Baw another girl
who refused to accept Mohammed beaten
toUeath by the Hadji's negro slaves.
Aurora determined to escape and to
brave death on the desert rather than re
main for a "betrothal." With Miss Gra
ham she made a rope of rugs and slid to
freedom out of a haremlik window. Then
she wandered in the desert until she found .
sanctuary in a forgotten monastery on the
road to DIarbekir.
This was an actual experience. In the
motion picture it is told just as Aurora
remembered It. When the scene was being
staged before the camera the director ex
plained to her that she must "do now Just
as she did when she ran away from Hadji
Quickly the little girl tied together the
corners of two rugs until they reached
from a balcony to the ground twenty feet
below. When the director called "Ready,
Aurora," she flung the makeshift rope out
the window and over the balcony rail.
"Come down," the director criod. "Just as
you did at Geulick."
Quickly Aurora leaped to the balcony
rail and, with the memory of her actual
escape envisioned in her mind, she threw
her body over until her feet dangled free
and began to slide down the rope of rugs.
But the rugs were bulky. In her excite
ment she lost her hold in their loose folds.
She screamed and fell tumbled into a
heap on the earth below. Her foot curved
under her and her ankle was fractured.
Physicians were called from the studio
hospital. Opiates eased her pain and she
was carried to her apartments. The frac
ture seemed, at first, to be slight, but she
was ordered to remain in bed at rest for
two or three weeks. "But that will delay
the making of my picture and the com
mittee wants it quickly, that they may let
all America see it," she cried.
Aurora -pleaded with the physicians and
the directors. "See," she said, leaping out
of bed and throwing all her weight on the
injured foot; "see, it is well already It
does not hurt at all I can walk and do
my picture all right now." She could not
be dissuaded. She was carried back and
forth from the studio, and only those
&iKBHiw ' "Jim? wia. -i litnE W 9Br tmS -Sv tUtiU
One of the Armenian Relief Committee's Photographs of Rescued
scenes were then taken in which she could
appear standing still or sitting without
having to walk or throw her weight on
Gradually the hurt seemed to heal. She
denied that it any longer pained her. When
the directors were ready for the desert
scenes the wild scenes with the Kurds
and other savages raiding the) refugee
camps and riding away with the prettiest
girls they could steal from their mothers'
arms Aurora declared that her ankle was
well and that she could do whatever was
required of her.
And so the picture was finished on time.
Then, when the last scene was taken the
picture of Aurora on the de'k of the
steamship reaching out her arms to the
Statue of Liberty looming in tho distance
the little girl collapsed and fell to the
deck of the boat moaning with pain.
"It is all done now I have done my
duty, and I cannot stand it any longer,"
she cried in her native tongue. "My foot
it has hurt me all the time a knife runs
into me every time I step on it."
Then the physicians took ex-ray pictures
of the injured ankle, and found that the
fracture was much more serious than had
been supposed, and that, instead of hpal
ing, it constantly had been getting worse.
"Copyright," 1919, by Star Company?
She must not use the foot for the present.
The most skilled experts In New York aro
treating the hurt ankle each day.
"The pain is going now it is not so bad
as when I had to hide my sufferings,"
Aurora said to Mrs. Harriman. "but my
heart would have hurt forever if I had not
done my duty to Armenia and finished my
picture on, time."
At the initial private exhibitions of the
Relief Committee's picture in the Plaza
ballroom Aurora met many of the personal
friends of Mrs. Harriman and Mrs. Van
derbilt, who are managing the special ex
hibitions. Many who meet and learn to know Miss
Mardiganian ask those who know her best,
"What are her memories- her memories
of the past she left behind in her Rav
ished Armenia?" There is no better an
swer to these frequent queries than an in
cident which occurred in the gay dining
room of the St. Francis Hotel in San Fran
cisco, Cal., where Miss Aurora, eating her
dinner in the midst of the brilliant as
semblage, was the centre of interest and
frequently interrupted during her meal by
fashionably gowned women and distin
guished men who crowded around her table
to pay their respects.
Miss Aurora seemed to be annoyed; she
""Great Britain" Rlghts'Roadrved.'-'
the questions put to
her; she plainly
evinced a desire to
be, as she expressed
it. "let alone." To
those who pressed
her for a word or
two, that they might
go away and say that
they had "spoken to
the Joan of Arc of
Armenia," she re
fused to reply.
When the meal
was finished and she
had retired to her
apartments with her
guardian, Miss Auro
ra wasgently chided;
she was told that in
America young girls
must always be most
irrjipimis hi the pres
ence of their elders; that in America little
girls were not allowed the privilege of
"moods" and moroseness in public.
"But it is not a mood or a naughty tem
per," she pleaded. "I do not like to talk
when I am eating. I cannot talk at such a
Mrs. Oliver Harriman and Aurora Mardiganian,
The Girl's Crushed Foot Is Wrapped in
(Ahove) Aurora Mardiganian in Native
time, because each time I take a mouthful
of food I like always to wait a minute
before I swallow it, and say in my mind a
prayer to God that he will send another
mouthful of food, just like mine, to my
poor starving Armenia."