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290                  JOUBNEYS IN KURDISTAN       LETTER xxix

to be witnessed in the hall, which is roughly paved
with irregular slabs of stone. On the rude stone settle
men are sitting or sleeping, or a carpenter is using
it as his bench, or a sheep is being cut up on it. At
the end of a passage is the "house," a high, big,
blackened room, with shelving floors of earth and rock,
ovens in the floors, great quaraglis holding grain, piles
of wood, men sawing logs, huge pots, goat-skins of
butter hanging from the rafters, spinning-wheels, a
loom, great roughly-cut joints of meat, piles of potatoes,
women ceaselessly making blankets of bread, to be used
as tablecloths before being eaten, preparations for the
ceaseless meals involved by the unbounded hospitality
of the house, and numbers of daggered serving-men, old,
women, and hangers-on. This room is only lighted from
the doors and from a hole in the roof. Nearly opposite is
a low dark lobby, from which open my room, sixteen feet
square, with walls three feet thick, and Mar Shimun's
room, about the same size, which serves him for sleeping,
eating, reception-room, and office.

On the same side of the hall are two guest-rooms,
now packed to their utmost capacity, and a large room
in which Ishai, the Patriarch's half-brother, a young man
of exceeding beauty, lives, with his lovely wife, Asiat, and
their four children. In a ruinous-looking tower attached
to the main building Mr. Browne has his abode, up a
steep ladder. Below there are houses inhabited by the
Patriarch's relations, one of whom, Marta, is a dignified
and charming woman, and the mother of Mar Auraham,
the Patriarch-designate, whose prospective dignity is the
subject of much intrigue.

The presiding genius of the Patriarch's household is
his sister Sulti, a capable woman of forty, who has re-
mained unmafried in order to guide his house, and who
rules as well as guides. When she sleeps I know not.