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LETTER xxvi         THE PLAIN OF SULDUZ                      21-5

supply, indeed so abundant that in the spring it is a
swamp, and the spring sowing is delayed till May. It
has several large villages, slightly raised and well planted,
a few of .them with the large fortified houses of resident
proprietors overtopping the smaller dwellings. Evidences
of material prosperity meet the eye everywhere, a pros-
perity which needs to be guarded, however, for every
shepherd, cowherd, ploughman, and buffalo-driver goes
about his work armed.

Large herds of mares with mule foals, of big fat cattle,
and of buffaloes, with plenty of mud to wallow in, stacks
of real hay and of fine reeds, buffalo carts moving slowly
near all the villages carrying the hay into security, grass
uncut and unscorched, eighteen inches high, a deep, black,
stoneless soil, impassable at certain seasons, towering
cones of animal fuel, for export as well as use, an in-
tensely blue sky above, a cool breeze, and the rare sight
of cloud-shadows drifting over waving grass and flecking
the cobalt sides of the Zibar mountains, combined to form
a picture I would not willingly have missed, impatient
as I was for the first view of the Sea of TJnni.

Beyond there are low stony hills, which would be
absolutely bare now but for the Eryngiwn cceruleum and
the showy spikes of a great yellow mullein, a salt lake,
most of which is now a salt incrustation, mimicking ice
from beneath which the water has been withdrawn, but
with an odour which no ice ever has, then a gradual
ascent to a windy ridge, and then—the Dead Sea of
Urmi or Urumiya.

Dead indeed it looked from that point of view, and
dead were its surroundings. It lay, a sheet of blue,
bluer even than the heavens above it, stretching north-
wards beyond the limits of vision, and bounded on
the east, but very far away, by low blue ranges, seen
faintly through a blue veil. On the west side there are