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LETTER xxvni            A FORLORN HOPE                           263

though it has a Kurdish ketch^da. It is a rich village,
or was, being both pastoral and agricultural. The
slopes are cultivated up to a great height, and ox sleds
bring the sheaves to the threshing-floor. The grain is
kept in great clay-lined holes under ground, covered with
straw and earth. I write that the village was rich.
Lately a cloud of Kurds armed with rifles swooped down
upon it towards evening, drove off 900 sheep, and killed
a man and woman. The villagers appealed to Govern-
ment, after which Hesso, a redoubtable Kurdish chief in
its pay, went up with a band of men to Marbishu, a
Christian village in Turkey, drove off 1460 sheep, and
offered to repay Merwana with the stolen property. As
matters now stand 700 of the poorest of the sheep have
been restored to Marbishu, Merwana loses all, and Hesso
and his six robber brothers have gained 760. The sole
hope of the plundered people of both villages is in the
intercession of Dr. Cochrane with the Governor of

As I reached Merwana at 10 A.M., and the "katirgis,
after raging for an hour, refused to proceed, I took Mirza
and QasJia Bardah, the priest under whose hospitable roof
I lodged, with me, and went up the valley to Ombar,
the abode of Hesso, with the vague hope of " doing some-
thing " for the poor people. The path lay among bright
streams and flowery pastures, the sun was warm, the air
sharp, the mountains uplifted their sunlit snows into a
heaven of delicious blue, the ride was charming. Hesso's
village, consisting of a few very low rough stone houses,
overshadowed by great cones of kiziks, is well situated on
a slope above a torrent issuing from a magnificent cleft
in the mountain wall, at the mouth of which is a square
keep-on a rock.

1 I give the story as it was repeatedly told to me. It -was a very slxady
and complicated transaction throughout.