Page:Syria, the land of Lebanon (1914).djvu/98

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SYRIA, THE LAND OF LEBANON



view; but between these heights is a scene of quiet, comfortable beauty. The tract is well-watered and fertile, and its wheat-fields are as level as the surface of a lake. Indeed, there surely must have been a lake here once upon a time. Along the eastern edge of the grain-land are charming, green-hedged gardens and closely planted orchards and long lines of poplar trees, while low-bent vines hug the sunny slopes at the mountain's foot. This high but sheltered valley is one of the few places in Syria where really fine apples are grown, and the grapes and apricots of Zebedani are famous throughout the whole country.

In a small marshy lake among the hills that border the rich, slumbrous little plain there rises one of the world's greatest rivers; great not in size—at its widest it is hardly more than a mountain brook and no ship has ever sailed its waters—but great because it has made one of the proudest cities of earth; for this slender stream which winds so leisurely through the wheat-fields of Zebedani is the far-famed Abana, and Abana is the father of Damascus.

At the lower end of the valley, the brook turns sharply eastward through a break in the mountains, and we follow it swiftly down a succession of narrow chasms and wild ravines, all the way to the end of our journey. The first two hours of our ride we traveled but twelve miles: the last two hours we slide forty miles around short, confusing curves. Sometimes there are distant views of bare, reddish sum-

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