The great city of Constantinople never slept . . . its traffic of humanity from the great and powerful during the day to the lowest that crept out into the darkness of night made it a living thing. A dirty, rag-covered boy was on his way home for the night after having spent all day out in the marketplace attempting to beg or steal whatever he could to help his family survive. He had been unsuccessful this day. His stomach growled and tears fell with his every step. His hands and pockets were empty. He prayed that Allah had shown more mercy to his brothers and sisters, and that perhaps they would have some food waiting for his return. Tanhea searched along the old buildings and alleys that he passed on his way home, hoping that he might find some refuse that would be edible or usable for his family. It was well after dark and he knew that he must get home quickly for the others would be getting worried about him. Coming to the small alley where Robert lay unconscious, the boy decided that he should stop his search for the day and return home. Just as he passed by the crevice, he heard a low moan and turned to peer into the darkness beyond to try to discover its source. Seeing nothing there, he stepped in closer. Suddenly, something grabbed a hold of his leg with a grip of iron and Tanhea screamed in fright, kicking and yelling as he battled the unseen man that held him.
“Help me, please help me,” Robert moaned to the boy, his voice low and filled with pain.
“Let me go! Let me go!” Tanhea screamed, not understanding the foreign words that came out of the darkness.
Reaching down, Tanhea struck out at the unseen body beyond the clutching hand, causing Robert to lose his grip and groan in agony, for the boy had hit one of his many knife wounds. Tanhea pulled his hand back at the sound, startled by the tone of the voice that still pleaded to him for help. There was something warm and sticky all over his hand, and Tanhea ran quickly to the light to see what it was. He was shocked to find that it was covered in blood from the man that now lay soundless beyond Tanhea’s sight.
Now that he was free, Tanhea turned and began to run away in fear, but something about the sound of the man’s voice stopped him and made him run towards the nearby tavern instead for help. It was always best to stay as small and out of sight as you could to survive on the streets here, but the desperate sound of the stranger’s voice echoed in Tanhea’s head and he could do nothing but obey its plea.
Photo from “Incredible Kids, Incredible Moments” ~ Beliefnet