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272                  JOURNEYS IN KURDISTAN     LETTER xxvm

picturesque house. All the inmates were there, and over
a hundred of the villagers besides; and cooking, baking,
spinning, carding wool, knitting, and cleaning swords and
guns went on all the time. There were women and girls
in bright red dresses; men reclining on bedding already
unrolled on the uneven floor, or standing in knots in
their picturesque dresses leaning on their long guns,
with daggers gleaming in their belts ; groups seated round
the great fire, in the uncertain light of which faces
gleamed here and there in the dim recesses, while the
towering form of Qasha, Ishai loomed grandly through
the smoke, as the culmination of the artistic effect

The subject discussed was equally interesting to the
Syrians and to me,—the dangers of the pass and the
number of guards necessary. We talked late into the
night, and long before I left the female and juvenile part
of the family had retired to their beds. Again I heard of
Hesso's misdeeds, of the robbery of 1400 sheep; of the
driving off on the previous morning of thirty sheep
which they were about to barter for their winter supply
of wheat; of the oppressive taxation, 100 liras (nearly
£100) on 100 houses; of the unchecked depredations of
the Kurds, which had increased this summer and autumn,
leaving them too poor to pay their taxes ; of a life of
peril and fear and apprehension for their women, which
is scarcely bearable; of the oppression of man and the
silence of God. Underlying all is a feeling of bitter
disappointment that England, which "has helped the
oppressed elsewhere, does nothing for us." They thought,
they said, " that when the English priests came it was the
beginning of succour, and that the Lord was no longer
deaf, and our faces were lightened, but now it is all dark,
and there is no help in God or man."

I now find myself in the midst of a state of things of
which I was completely ignorant, and for which I was