52 JOUENEYS IN" PERSIA LETTEE xvm people even clutched my clothing, and hands were raised to heaven to implore blessings on me if I would attend to them. The whole village of Kalahoma was out, thronging, pressing, and almost suffocating me, and the Khan's serv- ants who came to meet me did not or could not dis- perse the people, though every man holds his life at the Khan's disposal. These villages, which are surrounded by opium fields, are composed of the rudest of human habitations, built of rough stones, the walls being only five feet high. There is much subterranean room for cattle. The stacks of such winter fodder as celery and Centaurea alata, and those of kiziJcs for fuel, are larger than the dwellings. The latter are of conical form, and many of them are built on the house roofs. Taimur Khan's fort and serai are in the midst of all this, and are very poor and ruinous, but the walls are high, and they have a lalakhana. As I approached the ladies came out to meet me, veiled in white cotton chadars. The principal wife took my hand and led me through a hole in the wall, not to be called a doorway, into a courtyard littered with offal and piled with stacked animal fuel, and up some high dilapidated steps, into a small dark room, outside of which are a very small "lobby" and a blackened ladder against the wall, leading to the roof, on which the ladies sleep in the hot weather. Some poor rugs covered the floor, and there were besides some poor cotton-covered bolsters. Everything, even the dress of the ladies, indicated poverty. The dark hot room was immediately packed with a crowd of women, children, and babies, all appallingly dirty. It was a relief when the Khan was announced in the distance, and they cleared out like frightened sheep, leaving only the four wives, who stood up at his approach, and remained standing till he was seated.