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LETTER xvi            FORDING THE KARUN                         23

on the north side are low, gravelly, and stony, with per-
pendicular outbreaks of rock near their summits. To
the south they are of a different formation, with stratifica-
tion much contorted. The next march was over low
stony hills, with scanty herbage and much gum traga-
canth, camel thorn, and the Prosopis stephaniana, down
a steep descent into the Karun valley, where low green
foot-hills, cultivated levels, and cultivation carried to a
great altitude on the hillsides refresh the tired eyes. The
Karun, liberated for a space from its imprisonment in
the mountains, divides into several streams, each one a
forcible river; winds sinuously among the grass, gleams
like a mirror, and by its joyous, rapid career gives ani-
mation to what even without it would be at this season
a very smiling landscape. Crossing the first ford in
advance of the guide, we got into very deep water, and
Screw was carried off his feet, but scrambled bravely to
a shingle bank, where we waited for a native, who took
us by long and devious courses to the left bank. The
current is strong and deep, and the crossing of the caravan
was a very pretty sight.

We halted for Sunday at Berigun, an eminence on
which are a ruinous fort, a graveyard with several lions
rampant, and a grove-of very fine white poplars, one of
them eighteen feet in circumference six feet from the
ground. A sea of wheat in ear, the Karun in a deep
channel in the green plateau, some herbage-covered foot-
hills, and opposite, in the south-west, the great rocky,
precipitous mass of the Zard Kuh range, with its wild
crests and great snow-fielcls, made up a pleasant land-
scape. The heat at this altitude of 8280 feet, and in
the shade, was not excessive.

The next day's march was short and uninteresting,
partly up the Karun valley, and partly over gravelly hills
with very scanty herbage and no camps, from which we