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LETTER xxxn        THE VALLEY OF BITLIS                      349

were compelled to rest for two hours at the beautifully-
situated village of Toogh, evening was coming on with a
gray sky and a lurid sunset before we left the Eahwan
plain, after which we had a ride of more than three hours
down the wild and stony Bitlis valley before we reached
our destination. If I had made this march in spring,
when herbage and flowers drape the nakedness of
the rocky and gravelly mountains and precipices, it
would not have made such an impression upon me as it
did, but seeing the apparently endless valley for ever
winding and falling to the south, with two bars of lurid
light for ever lying across what never proved to be its
opening, and the higher peaks rising snow-crested into a
dark and ominous-looking sky, I think it one of the
weirdest and wildest rides I ever took.

The infant Tigris is rapidly augmented by a number of
streams and torrents. The descent was like taking leave
of the bright upper world to go down into some nether
region, from which there would be no exit. The valley,
at times narrowing into a ravine, is hemmed in by sterile
mountains, so steep as not to afford sites for villages.
There are parapetless ancient arches of stone, flung across
torrents which have carved hideous pathways for them-
selves through hideous rocks, scorise, and other signs of
volcanic action, rough gulches, with narrow paths hang-
ing on their sides, and in spite of many climbs upwards
the course is on the whole downwards.

Darkness settled upon the valley long before lights,
in what looked like infinite depths, and straggling up
remarkable heights, trees, stone walls, and such steep
ups and downs that it felt as if the horses were going to
topple over precipices, denoted that we had entered Bitlis.
Then came a narrow gateway, a flagged courtyard choked
with mules and men, a high house with heavily-barred
windows, a steep outside stair, and at the top sweet faces