An Armenian village looks like a number of molehills: for the dwellings are holes dug in the ground with low stone walls round the holes; the roof is made of branches of trees and heaps of earth. There are generally two rooms in the hole—one for the family, and one for the cattle.
A traveller arrived one evening at such a village; and he was pleased to see fruit-trees overshadowing the hovels, and women, without veils, spinning cotton under their shadow. But he was not pleased with the room where he was to sleep. The way lay through a long dark passage under ground; and the room was filled with cattle: there was no window nor chimney. How dark and hot it was! Yet it was too damp to sleep out of doors, because a large lake was near; therefore he wrapped his cloak around him, and lay upon the ground; but he could not sleep because of the stinging of insects, and the trampling of cattle: and glad he was in the morning to breathe again the fresh air.
Rich Armenians have fine houses. Once a traveller dined with a rich Armenian. The dinner was served up in a tray, and placed on a low stool, while the company sat on the ground. One dish after another was served up till the traveller was tired of tasting them. But there was not only too much to eat; there was also too much to drink. Rakee, a kind of brandy, was handed about; and afterwards a musician came in and played and sang to amuse the company. In Turkey there is neither playing, nor singing, nor drinking spirits. The Turks think themselves much better than Christians. “For,” say they, “we drink less and pray more.” They do not know that real Christians are not fond of drinking, and are fond of praying; only they pray more in secret, and the Turks more in public.
The fiercest of all the people in Asia are the Kurds.
They are the terror of all who live near them.
Their dwellings are in the mountains; there some live in villages, and some in black tents, and some in strong castles. At night they rush down from the mountains upon the people in the valleys, uttering a wild yell, and brandishing their swords. They enter the houses, and begin to pack up the things they find, and to place them on the backs of their mules and asses, while they drive away the cattle of the poor people; and if any one attempts to resist them, they kill him. You may suppose in what terror the poor villagers live in the valleys. They keep a man to watch all night, as well as large dogs; and they build a strong tower in the midst of the village where they run to hide themselves when they are afraid.
The reason why the Armenians live in holes in the ground is because they hope the Kurds may not find out where they are.
Those Kurds who live in tents often move from place to place. The black tents are folded up and placed on the backs of mules; and a large kettle is slung upon the end of the tent-pole. The men and women drive the herds and flocks, while the children and the chickens ride upon the cows.