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278                   JOURNEYS IN KURDISTAN    LETTER xxvnr

The sealing of my passport  took a considerable time,

during which, with Qasha-------, I paid several visits, was

regaled with Armenian cookery, tried to change a mejidieh
at the Treasury, but found it absolutely empty, and went
to see a miracle-working New Testament, said to be of
great antiquity, in an Armenian house. It was hanging
on the wall in a leather bag, from which depended strings
of blue and onyx beads. Sick people come to it even
from great distances, as well as the friends of those who
are themselves too ill to travel. The bag can only be
opened by a priest. The power of healing depends on a
sum of money being paid to the priest and the owners.
The sick person receives a glass bead, and is forthwith

. On Gawar Plain I lodged in the village houses, either
in semi-subterranean hovels, in which the families live with
their horses and buffaloes, or in rooms over stables. Very
many sick people came to me for medicines, and others
with tales of wrong for conveyance to " the Consul" at
Erzerum. No one seemed to trust any one. These con-
versations were always held at night in whispers, with
the candle hidden " under a bushel," the light-holes filled
up with straw, the door barred or a heavy stone laid
against it, and a watch outside.

The Gawar Christians are industrious and inoffensive,
and have no higher aspiration than to be let alone, but
they are the victims of a Kurdish rapacity which leaves
them little more than necessary food. * Their villages
usually belong to Kurdish Aghas who take from them
double the lawful taxes and tithes. The Herkis sweep
over the plain in their autumn migration " like a locust
cloud," carrying off the possessions of the miserable people,
spoiling their granaries and driving off their flocks. The
Kurds of the neighbouring slopes and mountains rob
them by violence at night, and in the day by exactions