"Look, the new girls have arrived." The favorite told the other favorites. "They are such an unkept lot." Another commented and laughed together.
"Get in line and stand upright," Nigar Kalfa said walking by the line of the girls. They all wore the same ugly clothes. Nigar moved their chins upright. "Get in line. Chins up."
More favorites gathered and gossiped. "These will make a bunch of maids, nothing else will become of them."
"Tell them to shut up." Daye told Sumbul Agh.
"Girls, don't make me go up there. Go on! Off to your rooms!" He yelled at them and they all vanished.
"It is no hell to be afraid of, see?" Irini whispered to Helen.
Helen sighed and replied. "We haven't seen much yet."
"Send those we have chosen to the baths." Requested Daye Hatun. "Let the harem physician examine them." She selected some girls pushed them out of the line. She reached Irini and selected her. She then looked at Helen and handed her over to Sumbul. "Take the others down, you'll see to it in the morning."
Helen pulled away but eventually was taken with the other girls to the baths.
"Nigar Kalfa! Aishe come with me and take a last look at the private chamber so that everything is in proper order, all right?" Nigar nodded.
One of the favorites that were around her commented. "Girl, you're so lucky. You get to see the Sultan's chamber." And another added, "I wish I could come with you." And they laughed.
"Off to your rooms you babblers. Aishe come on!"
Aishe had chocolate eyes and dark brown curly hair. She was taken away from the Harem Quarters, to the golden road.
The chosen girls were naked, in white towels. The physician examined their mouth, eyes and head. They were then taken to a corner and examined if they were virgins or not. Irini was taken second, she turned her head as she opened her legs to the physician. After checking that she was a virgin, it was Helen's turn.
"Let me go. Are we animals?!" She yelled.
"No, let me go!"
"No!" She shouted.
But Helen eventually had to do as told. She turned her head to the other side with a disgusted look on her face.
The girls had to then wash themselves. They filed their plates with water and let it drop on their body. Helen wasn't with them; she was alone in a corner of the baths. She kept filling the plate with water as if every time it made her more alive, more willing to live the life she is left.
"My Majesty?" Brahim wondered. "I thought you had gone to rest, to sleep."
"I couldn't go to sleep without breathing this Bosphorus air." He smiled. Brahim nodded. "Is something bothering you? You can tell me if you have a wish." The Sultan added.
"What could I wish for, my majesty? Your Excellency has bestowed me such an honour..."
"Yet, I, have a wish from you."
Brahim nodded taken aback. "Your wish is my command."
"It is long overdue you build a family."
Brahim thought about his answer carefully. "I already do have a family."
"How come? You have built a family without telling me?"
Brahim swallowed. "You once told me that I was your brother. Am I not so anymore?"
"If I had the chance to choose a brother, I would choose you."
"Come on, quick!" Nigar shouted as doors to the Harem opened. The girls entered still wearing their towels, wrapped around their body. Nigar clapped her hands so she would the attention of all. There was a long line of curtains covering the rooms. There were ten thin matresses each with a quilt and a pillow. Every girl went next to to her bed. "Go inside." When all were where they should be, Nigar spoke again. "Wear your nightgowns and go to bed. Tomorrow new outfits will be handed out." Nigar saw that Helen wouldn't change and went near her. She grabbed her by the wrist and brought her away from the other girls so they couldn't hear. "We all came here as slaves. If you obey you won't stay a slave. All the girls here are prepared for the Sultan. If you are chosen and satisfy the Sultan and also, bear a son then you will be Haseki Sultana, Sultan's favorite concubine. And you will rule the world." She left.
Helen thought about that. "What did she say, Helen?" Irini asked.
"Let's go to sleep." She replied instead. She put on the white nightgown and layed down to the bed with the cross necklace she always wore.
Helen felt someone's hand caress her face. She widened her eyes and got up from the bed. "Mother?" There she was, her mother, her father. She hugged her mother first and then her father. Her smile glowing bright. "Your wounds are healed." She stated without smile. "I too want to die. Mother, please. There is a lot of torture and evil here. Don't leave me." Her mother shook her head.
"You cannot come with us Helen. You have to stay and become powerful. You have things to accomplish. If you are powerful, we will find peace."
"Where's Elo? Why isn't he with you?" She suddenly asked.
"Elo isn't here. He is lost."
"I have lost you all. Don't leave me alone. I can't make it here."
"You will." Her father reassured her. "My daughter can make it. Jesus Christ will protect you."
Helen woke up panting. She saw the cross in her hand had made a wound her palm. "Jesus Christ, you've come for help. You've heard me." She said silently and closed her fist with the cross inside.