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20                        JOURNEYS IN PERSIA            LETTER xvi

new arrangement, which is necessary for safety, does not
increase comfort, for the Arab horses, noisy, quarrelsome
fellows, are in camp, and the mules shake their bells and
sneeze and bray at intervals all night.

The descent of 2000 feet into the Shamisiri valley,
over bare gravel chiefly, was a very hot one. It is a
wide, open valley with stony hills of no great height en-
closing it, with much green sward along the river banks,
above which, running to a great height on the hillsides,
are stretches of irrigated wheat. So far as I have yet
seen, the wheat is all " bearded." It is a most smiling
valley; so cultivated, indeed, and so trim and free from
weeds are the crops, that one naturally looks for neat
farm-houses and barns. But one looks in vain, for
except the ruins of some Armenian villages there are no
traces of inhabitants, till night comes, when the glimmer
of camp fires here and there high up on the hillsides
shows the whereabouts of some migratory families.

I stFrt so early as to get in to the camping-ground
about^nine now, and the caravan, two hours later, comes
in ^frith mules braying, bells ringing, horses squeal-
iitg for a fight, servants shouting. Then the mules roll,
fh.Q tent-pegs are hammered down, and in the blazing,
furnace-like afternoons the men, who have been up since
2 A.M., take a prolonged siesta, and a solemn hush falls
on the camp. After the Gorab affair I loaded my
revolver, and now sleep with it under my pillow, carry it
in my holster, and never have it out of my reach. I
think I should only fire it in the air if I were attacked,
but the fact of being known to be armed with such a
weapon is more likely than anything else to prevent
attack. No halt is now made on the march.

The sick people who appeared at Shamisiri, from no
ie knows where, were difficult and suspicious, and so

"y have been since.    The dialect of Persian has some-