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282                   JOURNEYS IN KURDISTAN    LETTER xxvm

extraordinary depth,ócome down almost directly upon
it. There is no wood. The villages are all alike, sur-
rounded just now by piles of wheat and straw on their
threshing-floors, with truncated cones of fodder, and high
smooth black cones of animal fuel. These are often the
only signs of habitations. One may ride over the roofs
without knowing that houses are below.

Being entirely baffled by the difficulty of obtaining
transport, I went on to Gahgoran, and put up at the
house of the parish priest, where the subterranean granary
allotted to me was so completely dark that I sat all day
in the sheepfold in order to be able to write and work,
shifting my position as the sun shifted his. A zaptieh
had been sent from Diza, who guarded me so sedulously

that Qasha------- dared not speak to me, lest the man

should think he was giving me information.

Gahgoran was full of strangers. The Patriarch had
come down from Kochanes, and occupied the only room
in the village, whither I went to pay my respects to
him. The room was nearly dark, and foggy with
tobacco smoke, but a ray of light fell on Mar Gauriel,
Bishop of Urmi, a handsome full-bearded man in a
Nestorian turban, full trousers, a madder-red frock with
a bright girdle in which a Jehanjar glittered, and a robe
over all, a leader of armed men in appearance. I had
met him in Urmi, and he shook hands and presented me
to Mar Shimun, a swarthy gloomy-looking man. In his
turn he presented me to Mar Sergis, Bishop of Jelu, a
magnificent-looking man with a superb gray beard, the
"beau-ideal of an Oriental ecclesiastic. MaleJss and head-
men of villages sat round the room against the wall, not
met for any spiritual conclave but for stern business
regarding the taxes, for the Patriarch is a salaried official
of the Turkish Government. All rose when I entered,
and according to a polite custom stood till I sat down.