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Full text of "Journeys In Persia And Kurdistan ( Vol.Ii)."

LETTER xvin          A BAKHTIAKI WIDOW                         43

I think that they have a great deal of conjugal and
family affection, though their ways are rough, and that
they mourn for their dead for a considerable time. On
one grave a young woman was rocking herself to and fro,
wailing with a sound like the Highland coronach, but
longer and more despairing. She was also beating her"
uncovered bosom rhythmically, and had cut her face till
the blood came. So apparently absorbed was she in her
grief that she took no notice of a Feringhi and an Indian.
She had been bereaved of her husband for a year, his life
having been sacrificed in a tribal fight.

The next two days were occupied in what might
well be called " mountaineering " on goat tracks ; skirting
great mountain spurs on shelving paths not always
wide enough for a horse's two feet alongside* of each
other, with precipitous declivities of 1000 or 2000 feet;
ascending on ledges of rock to over 9000 feet, then by
frightful tracks descending 2000 or 3000 but to climb
again; and at every descent always seeing in front dizzy
zigzags surmounting the crest of some ragged ridge, only, as
one knows, to descend again. Screw nearly fell over back-
wards with me once and again, and came down a smooth
face of rock as mules sometimes come down a snow slide
in Switzerland. I was told that I should "break my
neck" many times, that no Eakhtiari had ever ridden
over these tracks, or ever would, but my hurt knee left
me no choice. These tracks are simply worn by the
annual passage of the nomads and their flocks. They
are frightful beyond all description. The worst paths in
Ladak and Nubra are nothing to them.

Occasionally we traversed deep ravines with noisy
torrents where the shade was dense, and willows, ash,
walnut, cherry, elm, plum, and oak were crowded
together, with the Juniperus excelsa in rifts above. With
a moist climate it would be a glorious land, but even