58 JOURNEYS IN PERSIA LETTER xvm LETTEE XVIII (Continued)1 CAMP KALA KUH, July 16. THE call to " Boot and Saddle " was at three, and I was nearly too tired to pack in the sultry morning air. The heat is overpowering. Khaja Taimur no doubt had reasons for a difficulty in providing guides, which caused delay. The track lay through pretty country, with abounding herbage, to the village and imam^ada of Mak- hedi. There the guide said he dared not go any farther for fear of being killed, and after some time another was procured. During this delay a crowd of handsome but hardship-aged women gathered round me, many of them touching the handkerchiefs on their heads and then tapping the palms of their hands, a significant sign, which throughout Persia, being interpreted, means, " Give me some money." The Agha is in the habit of gathering the little girls about him and giving them brans as from his own children, a most popular proceeding usually; but here the people were not friendly, and very suspicious. Even the men asked me clamorously, " Why does he give them money ? it's poisoned, it's cursed, it's to make them blind." How- 1 From Kalahoma for the rest of the route the predatory character of the tribes, the growing weakness of the Ilkhani's authority, the '' blood feuds " and other inter-tribal quarrels, and the unsettled state of the Feili Lurs, produced a general insecurity and continual peril for travellers, which rendered constant vigilance and precautions necessary, as well as an alter- ation of arrangements.