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LETTER xxxv        THE KHARSHUT VALLEY                   391

which 700 camels were taking shelter from the storm
"We pushed on, however, during that day and the next,
through the beautiful and populous Gumushkhan6 valley
to Eupru Bridge, having descended almost steadily for
five days.

The narrow valley of the Kharshut is magnificent,
and on the second day the snow was only lying on the
heights. The traveller is seldom out of sight of houses,
which are built on every possible projection above the
river, and on narrow spurs in wild lateral ravines, and
wherever there are houses there are walnut, pear, apple
and apricot trees, with smooth green sward below, and
the walnut branches often meet over the road. The
houses are mostly large, often whitewashed, always brown-
roofed, and much like Swiss chdlets, but without the
long slopes of verdure which make Switzerland so fair.
Instead of verdure there is the wildest rock and moun-
tain scenery, a congeries of rock-walls, precipices, and
pinnacles, and the semblance of minarets and fortresses,
flaming red, or burnt sienna, or yellow ochre, intermingled
with bold fronts of crimson and pale blue rock, the
crimson cliffs looking in the rain as if torrents of blood
were pouring over them The roadway has been both
blasted out of the rock and built up from the river. Far
up picturesque ravines oxen were ploughing the red
friable soil on heights which looked inaccessible; there
was the velvety greenness of winter wheat; scrub oak
and barberry find root-hold in rocky rifts, and among
crags high up among the -glittering snows contorted
junipers struggle for a precarious existence.

The road was enlivened by local as well as through
traffic, and brightened by the varied costumes of Turks,
Greeks, Armenians, and Lazes. The latter do not
resemble the Turks in physiognomy or costume. All of
them carry rifles and sabres, and two daggers in their