The Knight-Errant and the Infidel
July 26, 1922
DEAR FAMILY: —
At last I ‘ ve had the great experience; and such an experience as it was! All my life I have yearned to have something unusual happen to me, and yet it never happened, save in my imagination. Surely, I thought, in Turkey it must happen. A year and a half passed, however, and I began to think that I was one of those prosaic souls doomed to go through life unthrilled; but fortune — or Kismet, as we say out here — had better things in store for me.
You know, we have two orphanages ‘way up in the Bozuk region, one at Yozghadt, and one at Keskin Madine. For almost two years no American has been permitted to visit these orphanages, and we had been getting such poor reports that we wondered just what was happening up there.
Last spring the bandit leader, Topal Osman, and his army stormed the town, and during the fighting two of our workers were killed and several children were injured. After that the military decided to take our buildings for barracks, and so the native director, Budvelie Toros, had to move his five hundred boys and girls to a dirty, tumble-down old shack.
While conditions at Keskin were not so bad, still it is a very unsettled region and we were in constant fear as to what might happen.
Over a month ago permission was granted by Angora for Miss Land me to make an inspection trip and to move the children to Cæsarea if we saw fit. It was a glorious trip. For hours we followed along the Kuzil Irmak River, and from reeds growing near the banks Hasan, our driver, would stir up great flocks of storks.
We climbed high hills to a plateau region, scattered over which were numerous little villages or hamlets with only five or six houses made of mud brick. The people all came out from the fields or houses to speak to us — a very friendly, kindly people they were. On we went until we came to the town of Boghoslian, where we formerly had a thousand children.
In pre-war days, Boghoslian had been a rich, thriving city, populated mostly by Armenians. That whole region, which is known out here as the Bozuk or wild country, supplied a large portion of the wheat of Anatolia. There are tremendous stretches of open plains and of low rolling hills. The Turks saw the Armenian farmers of the Bozuk growing rich as the result of their labors in the wheat fields, so they decided in 1916, while the massacres were taking place, to get rid of these Armenians and to take the fields for themselves. So one fine morning the women and children were deported, while the men and older boys were surrounded by gendarmes, taken to a near-by valley, and massacred.
Four and a half years later I am in this valley. As we approached it I said, ‘Look, we must be coming to a village, for here is a great watermelon patch.’ Miss Lreplied, ‘Wait.’ As we drove nearer I discovered what a gruesome mistake I had made — the ‘watermelons’ proved to be human skulls, and the ‘vines’ were the bones not yet buried.
The Turks have never done one thing in this great, rich, productive Bozuk region. There are some two hundred deserted villages and thousands of acres of tillable land all uncared for, growing to weeds. Such a crime! While parts of the world are starving for lack of bread, this region has been viciously depopulated and wonderful tracts of land now lie fallow. The Turk, the Turk, will he never learn? The Turkish peasant is so kindly, so docile; the Turkish official so cruel, so domineering. Had the peasant only some of the dominating qualities of the official, and had the official only some of the kindly qualities of the peasant , what a rich, respected, and progressive country Turkey might be! However, we all have hopes that Mustapha Kemal Pasha will right the errors of Turkey, though he has an awful hill to hoe.
We spent one night at a Cherkez (Circassian) village. As we rode up to the largest of the mud huts a girl came running out to see us. The Cherkez women are not so particular about veiling as are other Moslem women, so we were not surprised when she rushed forward to greet us, face exposed; but we were somewhat surprised when she grabbed Miss Land hugged her. She proved to be a Christian girl who had been in the Mission School under Miss Lbefore the war. At the time of the massacres the chief of this Cherkez village took her to his home to protect her. He was a good man and later married her, and they had a child. After the war, when the Allies ordered Moslems to release all Christian girls who had been forced to marry against their will, he offered her her freedom, but she decided to stay with him so as not to be separated from her child.
She ushered us into her home and called her husband, who greeted us cordially. At dinner that evening, quite contrary to the usual custom, the girl ate with her husband and with the guests. As we sat down, the chief murmured his Moslem prayer, with one hand extended palm up to catch the blessings of Allah, and the other hand behind him, palm down, to dispense a share of his blessings to others. When he had said Amen, he turned to his Armenian wife and said, ‘Now you may say your Christian prayer.’ This was most unusual, but the girl assured us that her husband had always permitted her to repeat her Christian grace after he had finished his. A pretty tolerant type of a man, was n’t he?
Except for this little incident, our trip to Yozghadt was uneventful. Late one afternoon we rolled to the top of a mountain to see on one side of us the most gorgeous of sunsets, a riot of gay color; and on the other side, miles down below it seemed, lay the town of Yozghadt, clad in evening mist, peaceful and quiet. Down, down, down we went, bumping over the rocky road to the village, then along the main street, all shut up for the night, to the orphanage.
Early the next morning we paid our respects to the governor, who was cordial and offered us all possible aid. After coffee, cigarettes, and the exchange of numerous compliments, we told the Mutasarif — Mutasarif means ‘governor’ — that we wanted to move the children to Cæsarea, and he consented. We immediately, thereupon, set to work helping Budvelie get the five hundred children ready for the trip to Cæsarea. This required several days, but finally we got them all off, and were ready to go on to Keskin.
There are two roads to Keskin, one much traveled and not very interesting, a second but little used, in very bad condition, but extremely interesting, as it leads through the old Hittite capital. Of course we wanted to go by the latter route, so we applied to the Mutasarif for permission. He hesitated, then told us that it was dangerous, that there were innumerable bandits in that region, but that if we would take a gendarme along with us he would consent. Of course we agreed, thinking that it was just a ruse on the part of the governor to get a special job and a little baksheesh for some friend of his in the gendarmerie. Our own driver, upon hearing where we were going, told us that he had a sick relative and must return at once, so we had to find a new wagon and driver. Several drivers refused to make the trip, some giving the bad condition of the roads as their excuse, others saying it was too hard on their horses, still others — and these we now know were the more truthful — confessing that they feared the brigands.
Our host begged us not to go, but we were determined. Finally we found a Cherkez lad with a rickety old araba (native wagon) who agreed to take us. Early the following morning we left Yozghadt, comfortably settled in our wagon, attended by a gendarme. The trip to Boghazkeuy, the little village built on the ruins of the old Hittite city of Pteria, was glorious. We climbed almost straight up at times, and from the mountaintops enjoyed marvelous views.
Late in the afternoon, while walking along a very bad stretch of road in order to ease up on the horses, we met two men who claimed that they had just been robbed. Judging from their looks, they had n’t been robbed of much, so we put but little stock in their story, thinking they were just trying to arouse our sympathy and get a few piastres baksheesh. On this whole trip from Yozghadt we passed just one village.
We pushed on for about an hour, and saw Boghazkeuy ‘way down in the valley. The peasants were coming in from the fields — the men in true Oriental style, riding along on their little spindle-legged donkeys; the women tagging on behind with a load of brush balanced on their heads and a child or two hanging on to their skirts.
Long before we reached the valley the peasants had faded away into the haze and smoke surrounding the little village. Finally we approached the town, and lo! it was entirely enclosed within a great wall of mud brick, ten or twelve feet high. We drove up to a gate heavily studded with iron bolts and beat a tattoo thereon. Soon a little slot in the gate was opened, a head appeared, and we were asked what we wanted. Miss L—, fluent in Turkish, replied that we were travelers and wanted to know where we might find the nearest khan. The face disappeared, the slot in the gate was shut; we waited. The man returned and advised us that there was no khan near by, but the Bey would consider it an honor to entertain the travelers with such poor hospitality as he could offer.
This, of course, was what we wanted, and we accepted. Then the great gates were thrown open and we were bowed in. The Bey, a fine-looking man, stepped forward to greet us; servants helped us to alight, then took the driver, gendarme, and wagon away. Other servants brought us coffee, and we sat on low stone benches covered with rugs, by the side of a small mud pond. Coffee and exchange of compliments finished, the Bey conducted us to his home and gave us a beautiful room, very large, with many windows facing out in three directions. The stone floor was covered with kelims; the stone walls were hung with beautiful Oriental rugs; the low sadirs or divans which ran around three sides of the room under the windows were thick with still more rugs. After the fashion of the land, there was not a single piece of furniture. Men servants — for that is all you ever find — brought us great brass basins and tall graceful pitchers of water, that we might clean up, and towels with wonderfully fine old Turkish embroidery.
Of course word was quickly circulated that the Bey was entertaining foreign visitors, so as we passed through the streets we were the objects of most respectful curiosity — for the Bey rules with an iron hand, and woe to him who should molest or annoy his guests.
Hunger called and we returned to our palatial quarters to await the meal which was being prepared. Would it never come? A full day out in the open air with only a few hard, dry biscuits tends to create an appetite. At last we heard the pitapat of barefooted servants approaching. One appeared, clad in great, full, black shalvars (native pants), a bright-red girdle, a red-flannel jacket, and a red fez wound with a yellow turban. He bore a low stool and placed it on the floor in front of us, legs up. A second servant, clad exactly like the first, brought in a huge copper tray which he placed on the upturned legs of the stool. A third, who looked exactly like the other two, appeared, bearing a large copper bowl of soup and a pile of tandur ekmek. This tandur ekmek is bread baked in sheets about the thickness of heavy wrapping-paper and about a foot and a half in diameter. There were no spoons, knives, or forks, so we rolled our bread into cornucopias and scooped the soup out of the common bowl. Such soup as did n’t run up our sleeves we ate from our improvised spoons, and that which did gravitate toward our elbows we absorbed.
After the soup came chicken, the most delicious young chicken fried in deep fat that I ever ate. For over a year, you know, I have been strictly vegetarian, but I broke all my dietetic rules and regulations and ate every last shred of the chicken. My, it was good!
For dessert they brought on yourt and rich pekmez. Yourt is sweet milk specially inoculated with bacteria which turn it sour to the consistency of a custard. When made from rich milk it can be far more delicious than ice cream. Pekmez is like molasses, but is made from grapes instead of sugar cane.
Dinner over, the servants cleared away the tray and stool, the Bey appeared, coffee and cigarettes were brought on, and we chatted. Matches are an unknown quantity in these interior towns. A little brass bowl is filled with hot coals; this is passed around and each person lights his cigarette from the live coals. When we had sipped our coffee to the grounds, all the men of the village entered, each making three deep salaams, one for the Bey and one for each of the guests. The old and middle-aged men of the town occupied the places on the sadirs around the room and the young men hung about the doorway.
The only news these people have of the outside world is derived from the none too frequent travelers who stop there for the night. Hour after hour they kept us talking. Miss L-, who had to do most of the talking, grew hoarser and hoarser, and I became sleepier and sleepier. A long day, riding front before sunrise until after sunset, a hearty meal, and hours of conversing in a foreign tongue in a smoke-filled room, are enough to make the most active person weary; so we begged for permission to retire.
The Bey apologized profusely for keeping us up. He clapped his hands, and the servants appeared with the bedding. One servant toted in a mattress covered with red silk; a second bore a quilt covered with pink and much lace; a third struggled with a heap of pillows of various bright hues. The bed was spread on the floor and we were invited to retire. We were then put to the embarrassment of explaining that we were not married and wanted separate beds.
This caused great consternation. ‘Not married!’ ‘Well, where are your respective husband and wife? ‘ ' What is the matter with you, anyway — as old as you are and not married ?’ ‘What strange people these Americans are!’ ‘Aman!’ ‘Aman!’ from each of the men present. (Aman is an exclamation of surprise.)
Into a near-by, dirty little stone room were pitched a few forkfuls of straw, and on this was spread a coarse blanket. Again it was announced that we might retire, so I headed for the pile of straw, leaving the bed of silk and lace for Miss L-. ‘But no,’ said the Bey. ‘The bed of straw is for the khanoum (lady); the silk bed is for the effendi (man).’ We expostulated, saying that we did n’t do things thus. Finally, with a shrug of the shoulders, he consented, feeling more assured than ever that foreigners have the strangest of customs. The party divided, part remaining to see Miss Lsafely tucked in, and part coming to help me to get settled for the night.
When they were assured of Miss L-’s comfort, and after they had seen me ‘hit the hay’ (literally speaking), they departed and we went off to sleep. But not for long; insects too well known to those of us who have been in the East, and known to a few people in America as ‘bedbugs,’ began to drop from the ceiling, to come up out of the floor, to generate spontaneously in the air, in the straw, on the blankets.
By three o’clock in the morning I was so bitten up that I could scarcely bend my arms or legs. As I lay there in my agony, a description I had read of life in the English court at the time of Queen Elizabeth came to me, in which the author told of the grand finery, beautifully liveried servants, fine foods, dirt, bugs, and filth all mixed together. I could n’t suppress a laugh, which made me feel better and brought to my mind the mud pond.
What a glorious thought! I crept stealthily out of the house to the pond. A sudden splash broke the quiet of the night, and I sat up to my neck in water cooling and refreshing to an itching body. After I had been there some few minutes, I heard footsteps and I thought it was the Bey himself — that he had discovered I was missing from my bed and so was searching for me. I tried to think up a suitable excuse to offer him, but none came to my mind. Then the reeds parted and lo! Miss Lsplashed into the pond. She in her grand silk bed with lace and satin coverlets was as badly chewed up as I had been. So there we sat and laughed and talked until the stars faded and dawn streaked the eastern sky.
That day we spent investigating the old Hittite ruins. I know practically nothing of the Hittites save that they are mentioned in the Bible, that their history is obscure, and that the Armenians are thought by some to be descended from them. As yet no archæologist has succeeded in deciphering their written language, and what little is known of them is derived from the Egyptian records.
We found the foundations of an old palace, enormous in area and with tremendous blocks of granite used in the base of the building. At the entrance, on either side, are two great lions carved from solid blocks. It made us both feel uncanny to be standing at the entrance to a building thousands of years old. What a story those lions would have told us could we have only applied the magic touch necessary for loosening their tongues!
Zia Bey was under the impression that the German excavators had told him that the Hittites had two capitols, one the winter headquarters at Carchemish in northern Syria, and the second, for the summer, at Boghazkeuy. The Hittites were of Mongol origin, so Zia claimed — and rightly, I should say, judging from the features we saw carved on the rocks. In some of the reliefs we could even make out pigtails hanging down their backs.
We poked about and found more ruins which the Bey told us were thought to be temples, walls of a fortress, and a theatre. At the temples we saw great clay jars, larger than anything Ali Baba and his forty thieves ever hid in. These were probably for storing sacrificial wine. They were eighteen to twenty feet high, and at the height of my shoulders were eight yards in circumference.
In the afternoon we walked out to a group of carvings on a stone cliff. The cliff had been leveled off and in basrelief a procession of about a hundred figures was carved. The relief seems to represent two different groups — one of Hittites, dressed in short tunics to their knees, with shoes turned up at the toes, high, pointed hats, and unpleasant faces, bearing gifts to a second group, dressed differently, with features slightly more pleasing. Zia Bey said that there was much discussion by the excavators as to whether the relief represented the marriage of the god of war to the mother goddess, or whether it represented the union of a Hittite princess with an Egyptian ruler. If the latter, then my dusky Hittite princess is the mother-in-law of Tutankhamen.
After another night in our respective chambers of horror, we started for Keskin bright and early. Our host, Zia Bey, gave us an escort of six men to make sure that we took the right track at the crossroads some twenty minutes away. After an exchange of many pretty greetings and compliments, we bade the Bey ‘Kosh ja kaliniz’ (Live on in peace) and he bade us ‘ Selament ile’ (May you journey in peace), and we departed. At the junction of the roads, the escort pointed out a steep and little-used track up over the hill, salaamed, and left us to our fate.
We worked our way up the steep hill until we came to a shelf-like ledge, to the left of which the hill dropped at a tremendously steep angle to a dry river-bed below; to the right it sheered up to an almost perpendicular cliff. From the wall above great chunks of stone had fallen out and were obstructing the road. All that morning the gendarme had been taking pop shots at the numerous rabbits we had seen along the road, so when we were winding our way in and out among the fallen rocks we were not surprised to hear the reports of a rifle, but we did think that the gendarme might have chosen a less precarious spot to do his shooting. Then of a sudden more shots rang out, a couple of bullets whizzed over our wagon, and our driver flopped over backward on top of us, gesticulating and howling.
We peered out from under our canopy to see what was going on and realized that from the tops of all the surrounding rocks guns were aimed at us. Slowly heads, hooded in bashlyks (native headgear resembling woolen hockey-caps with long tails which are wound around the face from chin to eye), appeared above the guns. Keeping us all well covered, two of the bandits took the gendarme in hand, relieving him of his gun, cartridge belt, knife, and horse.
We — or rather Miss L-, who speaks Turkish like a native — protested vigorously, ‘We are Inglise,’ to which they replied with a shrug of the shoulders. ‘We are friends and recent guests of Zia Bey,’ Miss Lcontinued, ‘ and you all know what will happen to you if he hears of anyone molesting his friends.’ They replied briefly that they had no fear of our good Zia, and paid no further attention to what we had to say; so we subsided while they conferred in low whispers. The conference over, they took the horses by the bridle and led us over the nearly perpendicular cliff to the river-bed below. I never came so near dying of fright in my life as I did on that trip down; it seemed as though we must go rolling cart over horse to a most unseemly and untimely end, but Allah willed it not so, and we reached the bottom uninjured, save for aching toes due to the curling process they had gone through on the descent.
The chetties drove our poor horses up the dry river-bed for miles. It was hard work for the beasts, dragging our heavy cart, loaded, through all that loose rock which composed the river-bed, and when they stopped for breath the bandits would beat them with the butts of their rifles. We wanted to get out and thus lighten the load, but permission was not granted; in fact we were most unceremoniously driven back into the wagon, just as the horses were forced to go on and on up the river-bed. Up and up we went, through a narrow pass where the water must rush with a terrific current in the springtime, and on to the den of these Anatolian Robin Hoods. In addition to the six men who had actually held us up on the hillside, we had gathered along the way seven other men who had been posted as guards and lookouts. Every precaution had been taken — they felt that here was a worth-while find.
Upon arrival at their den, which was a sort of amphitheatre in a sand-bank, around the top of which were erected brush shelters, Miss Linquired icily as to who they might be and what they might want of us. It seems that they were karchaks, or deserters from the army, and that they wanted ‘ Kurmirzur para’— red money, gold. We replied that, knowing the reputation of the road, we had no ‘kurmirzur para’ with us. ‘Oh yes,’ they replied, ‘Americans always have gold — much of it.’ It was useless to argue with them.
They ware evidently new at this holdup business and did n’t know just how to go about getting the gold. They decided that probably the gendarme had it, so he was stripped of all but his underwear and his woolen girdle — with no results. Well, then the arabadje (driver) must have it, so he was stripped of all but his underwear and a very ragged old coat, and still no gold. A third guess was that it must be hidden in the wagon, in the bags, or perhaps among the blankets, or even in our mattresses. Thereupon they set to work to dismantle the araba. Next they took our mattresses and blankets, feeling very sure that they would find their fortunes hidden there. In among the blankets they came upon two magazines, one a Cosmopolitan with a picture on the cover of a girl clad in an abbreviated bathing-suit just about to dive into the briny deep; the other an Atlantic Monthly. After looking the two magazines over, one of the karchaks showed his discriminating taste by shoving the Cosmopolitan into his pocket and throwing the Atlantic back at us.
Not finding gold anywhere in the araba, they decided it must be on me. I was not at all willing to lose my outfit, but as they were thirteen to two and were all armed we decided it was the better part of valor to comply with their demands. By the time they had worked me into this submissive frame of mind, they had taken my hat and were tugging at my boots. In the mêlée I had hidden my watch in my boots, so of course I made it as difficult as possible to remove them. As the second boot came off, my watch dropped into the sand unnoticed by them. I put my foot over it, but in the task of getting my coat from me my foot was dislodged, and one bright-eyed young rascal spotted the gold case and pocketed it for himself when his companions were not looking. Then in my trouser pockets — the pants were Dad’s old army breeches and were mended and darned and patched until they resembled one of Grandma’s patchwork quilts; these the chetties had n’t the least desire to possess, as their own were better — they found a jackknife Uncle Frank and Aunt Mabel had given me years ago. They were delighted with this good inglise knife and fought for the possession of it. In my coat pocket they found the equivalent of six or seven dollars, which was all the money we had with us, and all of our notes. We hated to lose these, as we needed them in writing up the report of our trip when we returned to Cæsarea.
For a while they considered searching Miss L-, but she soon put a stop to such ideas by calling to their minds what respect is due a woman according to their religion. Her words, together with concerted action on the part of the driver, gendarme, and myself, made them reconsider. They were disgruntled to think that there was no gold, but — ‘Kismet.’ It was boiling hot, just at noontime, there in the sand pit, so we crawled into the araba. The men wrangled and fought over the division of the booty; the temperature crawled higher and higher, and finally I dozed off. An hour or two later, when I came to, I peered out toward the brush shacks to see the thirteen guns all aimed at us and each gun manned by a wide-awake chetty. Upon my showing signs of life, the little whippersnapper who had stolen my watch came down and began to talk with us. He tried to snatch my glasses and blew smoke at Miss L-. Finally, when I could stand it no longer, I hit him a good whack. He pulled out a vicious-looking dirk and said he would murder us. We did n’t fear him in the least, because he was young and had no authority, though plenty of cheek. Miss Lcalled him an ‘alchak’ (a term not usually used by missionary ladies), then picked up the Atlantic they had left us and proceeded to read. The young chetty, a bit abashed, fingered his knife and swore quietly; so I turned to join Miss L—, and what do you suppose she was reading? Vernon Kellogg’s article on ‘The Biologist Speaks of Death.’
All afternoon we read, and by sunset we began to feel famished, having had nothing but excitement since leaving the Bey’s home early in the morning; so we called for food. One of the chetties, a great overgrown lad about twice my size, appeared wearing my coat, the funniest sight yet. The waistline was just a little below his shoulders, and the sleeves were halfway up to his elbows. He brought a few sheets of native bread and a can of Campbell’s tomato soup, the latter from our supplies. As he gave me this, he slipped me my keys and said he wanted to return the knife, which had fallen to him, but his companions would not let him. He was a nice lad and very pleasant. As we talked with him we opened the can of soup, smeared it cold on our bread, and devoured it to the last crumb and drop. If you want a new and tasty hot-weather supper, just try this sometime.
As it grew later and later, we began to fear that they intended to hold us for ransom; but from a distant lookout came a signal and we were ordered to get into the araba, the gendarme and driver were pushed in on top of us, and we were told to ‘ Haidy git’—to ‘ beat it.’ They struck our horses and sent us flying down the river-bed.
After racing along for half an hour, we noticed a path leading across the river, so we turned off and followed it until we came to a little Turkish village. Everything was quiet; a moon was just coming up in back of a distant row of poplar trees whose upper branches seemed to be supporting the skies. A brook which ran through the town was a shimmering ribbon.
The houses were cavelike rooms dug into the hillside. The road led over the roofs of some of the houses, so the rumbling of our araba awakened the occupants. They opened little trapdoors in the roof and poked out their heads. We inquired for the chief of the village, who shortly after presented himself. We told our story. The chief listened attentively, expressing regrets that we had been so treated and offering sympathy at our losses. Then he noticed that I was shivering in my near-nakedness, so he gave me his coat. It was made of rough wool with a complete inner lining of fleas. In about five minutes’ time I was so hot that I was able to return the jacket to its owner. In the meantime the village elders assembled, wrinkled old men clad in shalvars and bright jackets. To them we told our story, and they heaped curses on the robbers’ heads, after which they called the younger men of the village, and again we told our tale.
While we were repeating our story, the chavoursh (village chief) had ordered supper prepared. When it appeared, never did eggs fried in deep fat, fresh milk, fried native bread, and yourt with pekmez look so good. When we had eaten to capacity, they asked us for news, so again we sat and told what we knew of America and Europe, and of the price of wheat in Cæsarea. The chavoursh, noticing our weariness, invited us to share his accommodations, so we left the roof, where we had eaten and talked, and went down into his dugout.
In the middle of a mud floor, some twenty-five feet square, a fire smouldered. Such smoke as could escaped through the trapdoor in the roof, but for the most part the smoke seemed to prefer to remain in the room. On one side of the fire was spread straw, and huddled together in a dark corner were the womenfolk of the house; on the other side of the fire were the cows, sheep, goats, and donkey of the owner. We were invited to choose our places on the straw and the family would fit themselves in around us as best they could. Several nights running in native houses had made us rather wary, so we asked if it would be possible for us to sleep out of doors. The man admitted that we could, so rugs were spread on the roof, and a bed made up. Nearly exhausted, and too weary to bother much about proprieties, we crawled in. Just as we were getting settled, the chavoursh came up to inform us that the robbers who had held us up came quite frequently to this village to demand food; that they had n’t been for several days, and that they would probably come that night.
This proved to be a bit too much for us. I could just see those chetties taking my underwear and trousers, which were all I had left to my name, so we decided that this was no place for us. Our erstwhile host said that there was a rich charcoal-burner at the other end of the village who had built a sort of stockade, and that he would be glad to entertain us. With a groan, for Miss Lwas dead tired and I was mighty lame from sunburn, we moved across the village. En route we had to plough through a new-mown hayfield. When we had covered about half the distance, I could go no farther and said that I would stay right where I was, that the other two could go on. Finally, after much discussion, we decided that by putting one arm around the neck of the chief and one around Miss LI could ease up on my feet, and in time we reached the home of the charcoalburner.
He received us in a small enclosure which was packed with all kinds of beasts: sheep, goats, donkeys, oxen, cows, calves, lambs, kids, chickens, hens — a regular menagerie. He pointed to our bed, high from the ground. We thought it must be on a pile of cordwood and tumbled in. As we lay there recounting the events of the day and wondering what would happen next, our bed shivered from stem to stern, then heaved up in the middle. Miss Lrolled one way, I another. We grabbed at each other’s hands, and slowly the bed subsided. We were both scared stiff. I’m not sure that it was n’t worse than going over the cliff.
In a shaky voice Miss Lcalled my attention to a native lamp, a clay cup full of oil from which hung a burning wick. Her voice may have been shaky, but it did n’t compare with my legs as I wormed my way in and out among the cattle toward this Turkish Mazda. Clutching it, I tore back. Miss Lcrawled out, and with fear and trepidation we looked under the bed. The sight that caught our eyes caused us to explode with laughter: our bed consisted of pine boughs laid across the backs of two water buffaloes; on top of the boughs was a mattress. Of course, every time the buffaloes moved or sneezed, our bed was shaken up. The idea of making the bed upon the animals was for warmth.
Between laughter, jolts, quakes, and fleas, we put in a fine night. When morning came, Miss Land I each shot a glance at the other and again went off in spasms of laughter. Imagine the disheveled condition we were in — each burned to a crisp, dirty, and bespattered by the flocks of birds overhead. Oh, but we were funny sights!
After a breakfast of warm milk and honey, we started off. The chavoursh told us that there was another bad spot down the road where travelers were sometimes bothered by robbers; so he gathered the men of the village together, each armed with his particular tool, — some with ploughshares, some with adzes, others with axes, poles, and grub hooks, — and they escorted us past the danger spot. I was very cold, but pride forbade me to say anything while the men were with us. However, as soon as they left with a loud cheer, I willingly accepted Miss L-’s petticoat, which I wound about my shoulders cape-fashion.
All day long we kept on going, and late in the afternoon we reached Yozghadt. Of course the first thing to do was to report to the Mutasarif, so we made our way to the government palace (a fine name for a tumble-down mud-brick structure). The Mutasarif received us as though we were dressed in silks and satins, ordered coffee and cigarettes, and exchanged compliments for ten or fifteen minutes; then we told our story, all that had befallen us. He was most exercised — so were Miss Land I, but for different reasons. He sent for the chief of the gendarmerie and for the military commandant. Upon their arrival, it was decided that a posse should be sent out to apprehend the villains who had so audaciously held up Americans. But the gendarmes could n’t go, said the chief, nor could the soldiers, said the commandant, each fearing that his men would run away or be killed; so the village bell was struck and men came running into the village from all directions — from the mosques, the government buildings, the stores, the bazaars, the fields. A speech was delivered; a posse of volunteers was collected and sent off.
After buying a few native clothes and getting a new araba — our Cherkez lad declared he had had enough of us — we spent the night with friends. Early the next morning we started off by the regular road for Keskin, and in due time reached there. Here we decided that it was best to move the children to Cæsarea, so after making all arrangements we left for home.
Never did a place look so good to either of us as did Talas. We just tore for the bathtubs and indulged in a glorious and much needed soak and wash.
How excited our coworkers were and how envious they are! But our native friends all shudder. Had they been in our places, they would never have returned alive.
The day after our arrival home, we went to our Mutasarif and told our story, and asked what word he had received from Yozghadt. He had received no news beyond the fact that we had been robbed, but he sent a messenger for news. The messenger returned with the word that the bandits had been captured, and that all the things we had listed as having been stolen from us were recovered and the governor of Yozghadt was sending them back to us by a special trusty messenger. A few days passed and no messenger arrived; so we sent word to this effect and today came the climax of the whole experience — a letter from the governor of Yozghadt saying that the trusty messenger by whom he was sending our possessions had run away en route and had taken all our stuff with him!