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32                        JOURNEYS IN PERSIA           LETTEB xvn

Ali Khan came to tell me that the "Feringhi ointment"
had cured a beautiful young woman of his tribe of an
" abscess in her nose"! An instance of real benefit
hardly consoles for many failures, and any cure increases
the exhausting number of "patients." On one day on
that plain there was no rest between eleven and five.

Small events occurred tending to show that the good
order which the Ilkhani's government secures is chiefly
round the centre of rule. Stories of tribal disputes with
violence, and of fights arising out of blood feuds came
in daily, and recent sword cuts and bullet wounds were
brought to the HaMm. One day there was a disturb-
ance in camp owing to a man attacking Hassan for
preventing a woman from entering my tent in my absence.
I learned very soon after coming into this country that
the Bakhtiaris are dangerously sensitive about their
women, although the latter are unveiled and have an
amount of latitude unusual in the East. I have more
than once cautioned my servants on this point, for any
supposed insult to a female relative of a Bakhtiari would
have by custom to be wiped out in blood. This extreme
sensitiveness has its good side, for even in the midst of
the tribal wars and broils which are constantly occurring
female honour is always secure, and a woman can travel
safely alone through the wildest regions; a woman be-
traying her husband would, however, almost certainly
be put to death. One night the camps were threatened
by robbers, upon whom Aziz Khan fired.

Solitary as is now the general aspect of the surround-
ing country, it must have been crowded with workmen
and their food providers within the last two centuries,
for in the beginning of the seventeenth century Shah Abbas
the Great, the greatest and most patriotic of modern
Persian kings, in his anxiety to deliver Isfahan once for
all from the risk of famine, formed and partly executed