Holiday Walks

The school buildings occupy the crest of a rolling hill about two hundred meters in height on the Euphrates side overlooking the Bosporus. The valley to the north was occupied by the village of __________. The alley to the south was occupied by the village of Bebek. Behind the hill and extending westward was high rolling country. About twenty minutes' walk from the school into the country lived a venerable Sheik. His white and pink plastered house, roofed with heavy read tiles, was surrounded by a wild garden containing numerous poplar trees.

According to the ancient custom, once a year he held "Open House". Bread in chunks and boza, a thick, sweet, semi-fermented white gruel, was furnished at liberty to hungry beggars. The beggars from all the country around congregated on that day and feasted at the Sheik's expense. We school boys were not supposed to join the beggars' ranks but it was always too great a temptation and four times during my four years at school I feasted at the Sheik's generosity in company with weird dervish tramps and nondescript Mohammedan beggars.

There was a pasha's residence with an enormous garden on one of the slopes behind Bebek. It was a garden overgrown with almond bushes, umbrella pine, scrub oak trees and roses of every description. Overgrown thickets and dense copses were the perfect haunts for a bird lover. Through a break in the stone wall I used to climb in the early hours of the morning and wander about in the garden listening to the nightingales and blackbirds and the clear cedar waxlike warbling of finches and birds of almost every description.

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