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46                      JOURNEYS IN PERSIA           LETTER xvm

I forded it by a broad ford where crystal-green water
glides calmly over brown and red pebbles, with a willow-
shaded margin, and as I crossed a flock of long-bearded
goats swam and jumped from rock to rock from the other
side, the whole scene an artist's dream. This valley has
magnificent pasturage, hay not yet "sun cured/3 long
grass, and abundant clover and vetches brightened by a
profuse growth of a small helianthus.

The march over the Gokun Pass and down to
the G-okun river is the worst I ever made. Had the
track been in Ladak or Lahoul it would have been
marked on the Government maps " impassable for laden
animals." Tet Hadji's splendid mules, held at times by
both head and tail, accomplished it, and only minor
disasters occurred. One mule had his head gashed,
Mirza had a bad fall, and broke my milk bottle, Hassan,
leading his own horse, fell twenty feet with the animal
and cut his arm, the ridge pole of my tent was broken,
and is with difficulty bandaged so as to hold, and some
of the other baggage was damaged. Hadji grumbles
politely, and says that " in all time loaded mules were
never taken over such tracks," and I believe him. Aziz
says that I must be " tired of life," or I should never ride
over them, and certainly Screw carried me at the peril of
His life and mine.

The camps are pitched for Sunday at an altitude of
8000 feet, high above the riverómine under the befriend-
ing shade of a colossal natural sphinx, so remarkable
that two photographs and a sketch by Mirza were taken
of it. It confronted us in a startling way, a grand man's
head with a flowing wig and a legal face, much resembling
the photographs of Lord Chancellor Hatherley.

The mules have been poorly fed for the last few days,
and it is pleasant to see them revelling in the abundant
pasturage. After this tremendous nine hours' march they