CHAPTER II.PILASTER ORNAMENT, TEMPLE OF THE SUN.
ON the 25th May, 1874, we left Straight Street, Damascus, at nine o'clock A.M. As we passed out of the city, we saw green vegetables beginning to make their appearance in the markets, and jaundiced-looking apricots, ripened in the baths, were being eagerly purchased and greedily devoured by the famine-stricken people. A little beyond Bob Tama, Thomas' Gate, where once stood St. Thomas' Church, the site of which is now unknown, we turned out of the straight road to Palmyra, into a shady lane to the left. We had planned our route through the highlands of Jebel Kalamoun, that we might visit the interesting towns and mission schools of that region, while escaping the great heat of the plains.
On most maps of Syria, the Anti-lebanon appears as a huge caterpillar, laid side by side and parallel with Mount Lebanon ; but the Anti-lebanon consists of a series of mountain ranges, some of which run parallel with  Lebanon and sink into the great hums plain, while some twist of in a more eastern direction, and shoot out into the desert. The most eastward and desertward of these ranges rises into Hermon at the one end, and sinks into Palmyra at the other; and the part of this latter range which lies north-east of Damascus is generally known as Jeleb Kalamoun.
Our shady lane, through the orchards of Damascus, was overhung with great spreading walnuts, trellised with vines, and on either side were apricots beaded with new fruit, and thickets of pomegranate' with scarlet blossoms bursting forth like handfuls of crumpled silk.
Half an hour from the city we crossed the Taura (Pharpar), a river of Damascus, a little below where a cotton manufactory was established with English machinery, and under English superintendence. The English workmen, however, found great difficulty in getting their wages, and they were kept in unhealthy lodgings, until three out of four died, and the survivor returned home broken in heart and constitution, and with experiences sufficient to deter others from being allured into similar service by the prospect of high wages.
Beyond the bridge, we met a party with a few sacks of new barley, artificially ripened, and carried on the backs of donkeys into the city ; and we saw fields of barley pulled and left on its side to ripen, that it might be in time for the famine prices.
An hour from Damascus we passed through Burzeh, a Moslem village, where there is the sanctuary of 
THE TRIUMPHAL ARCH.
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Abraham, and where the people still talk familiarly of "good King Ibrahim," though the names of Sultan Selim and Salah ed-Din (Saladin) have already almost passed from local tradition. Here we struck into the mountains to the left by a pass up a gorge, parallel to the sublime gorge of the Barada, by which tourists enter Damascus, and much resembling it, but on a smaller scale.
Our road lay up a fine mountain torrent, through which our horses splashed and tumbled. Once a Damascus Moslem was riding up the same gorge, and he had his leg broken by the falling of his horse. When dying he left a sum of money to make a road through the pass, to prevent the repetition of such accidents as cost him his life. The money, after lying many years in the wrong place, was unearthed by an English engineer ; but it found its way into Moslem hands once more, and in summer, when the pass was bone dry, a road was made along the bottom of the ravine. The fact of the Turks having made a road themselves was published in the papers, and people wondered. The road was made chiefly of dry (lust, pressed down by the palms of the hands and the bare feet of the workmen and workwomen ; and though it had been only one year made when we passed through, not a vestige of it remained.
In less than half an hour we issued from the gorge at Maraba, a Moslem village, clinging to a bare rock overhanging the water. We turned up the western  side of the ridge through which we had come, by a narrow valley full of fragrant walnuts, and white-stemmed poplars, and green corn as high up as the soil was watered, and no higher, calling to mind the words of the prophet, "And everything shall live whither the river cometh " (Ezek. xlvii. 9).
We lunched in a lovely green meadow, under the trees, near the village Et-Tell, and then continued our course in the track of the water past Menin, a village which, like Et-Tell, contains many remains of ancient buildings. This part of our route was charming. We had left the steaming city behind, and we were continually getting up ont of the heated plain. Here and there we had pleasant shade, and everywhere the sparkling water murmured past us, and every vista and every eminence supplied pictures of blending landscapes, such as are rarely seen even in Syria.
Here our party was temporarily broken up. We had agreed to spend the first night at Maloula, but my companions' guide had directed the tents to Saidenaya, and so I had to ride on alone, as I had arranged to visit the mission schools of Yabroud and Nebk on the following day.
I passed the fortress convent of Saideaya, perched on a high rock, up which hewn steps lead to a small door, the only entrance. This convent contains a crowd of ignorant, idle women, and is famous for a picture painted by St. Luke, which distils a fluid very efficacious for eye complaints, and for replenishing the coffers  of the convent. The picture was once stolen, but in the hands of the thief it became changed into flesh, and continues so to this day. I once tried hard to see this miraculous picture. I urged the cruelty of keeping a thing of flesh and blood so closely confined. and the advantages that might be expected front a little fresh air. I was also very liberal, and tried to bribe my.hostess, who was not fair, but it was all in vain. I could not see it and live, and so I was spared the sight.
This miracle has attained to an antiquity respectable in these days. Nearly two hundred years ago, Henry Maundrell found the fame of the picture 1 , and the  reputation of the establishment, about the same as they are now. But they have a new miracle to boast of in the convent of Saidenaya.
1At a very early period the picture was supposed to represent the Virgin Mary. There is a Latin MS. in the Library of Trinity College, Dublin, consisting of a Guide Book to Palestine, written about. 1350 A.D. The picture is thus referred to : " Ten miles from Damascus is the city of Saidenaya, in which is the venerate image of the glorious Virgin Mary, which was brought from Jerusalem. This blessed image was entirely converted into a fleshy substance, so that it ceases not night and day to emit a sacred oil, which the pilgrims who come there from every quarter carry away in little glass jars. No Saracen can live in this city ; they always die within a year."