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LETTER xxxm        REMORSELESS ROBBERS                     377

" insurrectionary tendencies/' and even their lives are
at the mercy of the increased audacity and aroused
fanaticism of the Kurds, and this not in nearly inacces-
sible and far-off mountain valleys, but on the broad
plains of Armenia, with telegraph wires above and
passable roads below, and with a Governor-General and
the Fourth Army Corps, numbering 20,000 seasoned
troops, within easy distance!

I have every reason to believe that in the long winter
evenings which I have spent in these sociable odalis, the
peasants have talked to me freely and frankly. There
are no reasons why it should be otherwise, for my
zaptiehs are seldom present, Moussa is looking after his
horses in distant recesses, quite out of hearing, and my
servants are Christians. If the people speak frankly,
I am compelled to believe that the Armenian peasant
is as destitute of political aspirations as he is ignorant
of political grievances; that if he were secured from the
ravages of Moslem marauders he would be as contented
as he is loyal and industrious; and that his one desire
is " protection from the Kurds" and from the rapacity
of minor oflBcials, with security for his life and property.
Not on a single occasion have I heard a wish expressed
for political or administrative reform, or for autonomy.
The Armenian peasants are " of the earth, earthy," and
the unmolested enjoyment of material good is their idea
of an earthly Paradise.

With regard to the Kurds, they have been remorse-
less robbers for ages, and as their creed scarcely hesi-
tates to give the appropriation of the goods of a Kafir a
place among the virtues, they prey upon the Syrian and
Armenian peasants with clear consciences. To rob them
by violence and " demand," month after month and year
after year, till they have stripped them nearly bare, to
cut their throats if they resist, to leave them for a while