After securing my permit, I ran downstairs and straight to “my” consul, whose dragoman I took along with me to the seraya, or government building. Of course, the dragoman was well tipped and he helped me considerably in hastening the examination I had to undergo at the hands of the Turkish officials. All went well, and I hurried back to my sister triumphant.
The Chester was to sail in two days, but while we were waiting, the alarming news came that the American Consul had been advised that the British Government refused to permit the landing of the refugees in Egypt and that the departure of the Chester was indefinitely postponed. With a sinking at my heart I rushed up to the American Consulate for details and there learned that the U.S.S. Des Moines was to sail in a few hours for Rhodes with Italian and Greek refugees and that I could go on her if I wished. In a few minutes I had my permit changed for the trip on the Des Moines and I hurried home to my sister. We hastily got together the few belongings we were to take with us, jumped into a carriage, and drove to the harbor.
We had still another ordeal to go through. My sister was taken into a private room and thoroughly searched; so was I. Nobody could leave the country with more than twenty-five dollars in cash on his person. Our baggage was carefully overhauled. No papers or books could be taken. My sister’s Bible was looked upon with much suspicion since it contained a map of ancient Canaan. I explained that this was necessary for the orientation of our prayers and that without it we could not tell in which direction to turn our faces when praying! This seemed plausible to the Moslem examiners and saved the Bible, the only book we now possess as a souvenir from home. Now our passports were examined again and several questions were asked. My sister was brave and self-possessed, cool and unconcerned in manner, and at last the final signature was affixed and we jumped into the little boat that was to take us out to the ship.
At this moment a man approached, a dry-goods dealer of whom my sister had made some purchases a few months before. He seemed to recognize her and he asked her in German if she were not Miss Aaronsohn. I felt my blood leave my face, and, looking him straight in the eye, I whispered, “If you say one word more, you will be a dead man; so help me God!” He must have felt that I meant exactly what I said, for he walked off mumbling unintelligibly.