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LETTER xxviii        THE PLAIN OF GAWAR                      275

were pledged to take us safely through, and who   live
under arms to protect their property and families.

After five hours of toiling up the Drinayi Pass, taking
several deep fords, and being detained by a baggage
horse falling fifty feet with his load, we crossed the
summit, and by a long descent through hills of rounded
outlines covered with uncut sun-cured hay, reached the
plain of Gawar, where the guards left us. On the way we
passed the small Christian hamlet of Eyal, which was
robbed of its sheep with the sacrifice of the shepherd's
life the following night. At thq village of Yekmala on the
plain the Kurdish katirgis by a shameful exaction got
us into great trouble, and there was a fight, in which
Johannes's gun was wrested from him, and some of my
things were taken, the Kurds meantime driving off their
animals at a fast trot. The aspect of affairs was so very
bad and the attack on my men so violent that I paid the
value of the Kurdish depredations, and we got away. A
little farther on the katirgis were extremely outrageous,
and began to fulfil their threat of " throwing down their

loads," but I persuaded QasJia-------, who was alarmed and

anxious, to leave them behind, and they thought better
of it.

The mountain-girdled plain of Gawar is a Paradise
of fertility, with abundant water, and has a rich black
soil capable of yielding twenty or thirtyfold to the culti-
vator. On it is the town of Diza, chiefly Armenian,
which is a Turkish customs station, a military post, and
the residence of a Kaimakam. There are over twenty
Christian as well as some Moslem villages on Gawar,
and a number of Kurdisjh hamiets and " castles " on the
slopes and in the folds of the hills above it.

The sun was sinking as we embarked on the plain,
and above the waves of sunset gold which flooded it rose
the icy spires and crags of the glorious Jelu ranges and