LETTER xxix THE CATTLE PLAGUE 319 Kerry hovel. He uses neither chair, table, nor bed; the uneven earthen floor is covered with such a litter of rubbish as is to be seen at the back of a " rag and bone " shop, dusty medicine bottles predominating. There is a general dismemberment of everything that once was serviceable. The occupant of the room is absolutely unconscious of its demerits, and my ejaculations of dis- may are received with hearty laughter.1 Humbly following his example, I have become ab- sorbed in the interests of the inhabitants of Kocbanes, and would willingly stay here for some weeks longer if it were not for the risk of being blocked in by snow on the Armenian highlands. The cattle plague is very- severe, in addition to other misfortunes. The village has already lost 135 of its herd, and I seldom go out with- out seeing men dragging carcasses to be thrown over the cliff. The people believe that the men will die next year. My future journey and its safety are much discussed. If I had had any idea of the " disturbed " state of the region that I have yet to pass through I should never have entered Turkey, but now I have resolved to go vid Bitlis to Erzerum. If the road is as dangerous as it is said to be, and if the rumours regarding the state of the Christians turn out to have much truth in them, the 1 In the winter of 1887 and the spring of 1888 every effort was made by Fikri Pasha, the Turkish Governor of this district, hut a Kurd by race, to dislodge Mr. Browne from his position in the mountains. "Soldiers were continually sent to inquire into his plans ; he was accused of prac- tising without a diploma as a medical man, because he gave a few simple remedies to the natives in a country destitute of physicians, and his position became well-nigh intolerable when he found that his host, Mar Shimun, was being insulted and punished for harbouring him, and that the native Christians were being made to suffer for his residence among them. The Patriarch, however, stood firm. ' Your presence here,' said he to Mr. Browne, 'may save us from a massacre; and as for these troubles we must put up with them as best we can.' These words were verified a few months afterwards."—Mr. Athelstan Biley's Report on the Archbishop of Canterbwnfs Mission to the Assyrian Christians, 1888.