16 JOURNEYS IN PERSIA LETTER xvi
from the mountain sides keep it always full; it passes
nearly ice-cold among lawns and woods, and its colour is
everywhere a pure peacock-green of the most exquisite
tint, contrasting with the deep blue-green of the Karun.
Shuster is only seven marches off, and in the direction
in which it lies scorched barren hills fill up the distance,
sinking down upon yellow barren plains, softened by a
yellow haze, in which the imagination sees those vast
alluvial stretches which descend in an unbroken level to
the Shat-el-Arab and the Persian Gulf. Many a lofty
range is seen, but the eye can rest only on the huge
Gerra mass, with the magnificent snowy peak of Dalo-
nak towering above all, bathed in a heavenly blue.
The shelter-tent was pitched till the noonday heat
moderated. Abbas Ali and Mehemet Ali were inside it,
and I was reading Ben HUT aloud. Aziz Khan was
lying half in and half out, with a quizzical look on his
face, wondering at a woman knowing how to read. Not
a creature had been seen, when as if by magic nine or
ten Lurs appeared, established themselves just outside,
and conversed with Aziz. I went on reading, and they
went on talking, the talk growing disagreeably loud, and
Aziz very much in earnest. Half an hour passed thus,
the Agha, who understood their speech, apparently giving
all his attention to Sen Hur.
I did not hear till the evening that the topic of the
talk was our robbery, with possible murder, and that
Aziz was spending all his energies on dissuading them,
telling them that we are guests of the Ilkhani and under
the protection of the Shah, and that they and 'their tribe
would be destroyed if they carried out their intention.
They discovered that his revolvers were not loaded—he
had in fact forgo.tten his cartridges, and one said to the
others, " Don't give him time to load."
While the tent was being packed, I sat on a stone