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LETTER sviii               A DEATH > SCENE                              65

oaks and pears, where I had promised to see a young
creature very ill of fever.

Among the trees was a small booth of four poles,
roofed with celery stalks, but without sides or ends, and
in this, on a sheepskin, was a heap out of which pro-
truded two white wasted arms. I uncovered the back
of a head which turned slowly, and revealed, in a setting
of masses of heavy shining hair, the white face of a young
girl, with large brilliant eyes and very beautiful teeth.
Her pulse was fluttering feebly, and I told the crowd
that death was very near, for fear they should think
I had poisoned her with the few drops of stimulant that
she was able to swallow. Even here the death penalty
sometimes follows the joy of maternity. She died in
the evening, and now nothing remains of the camp but
a heap of ashes, for these people always at once leave
the camping-ground where a death has occurred.

Meanwhile the Agha was making friends with the
people, and giving krans to the children, as is his habit.
Scarcely had we left when he found that he had been
robbed of a fine pair of binocular glasses, almost a necessity
under the circumstances. English rifles, binoculars, and
watches are all coveted by the Bakhtiaris. Aziz Ivhan
became very grave, and full of dismal prophecies regard-
ing the remainder of the journey.

After this divergence the scenery was magnificent.
The Kala Kuh range is certainly finer than the Zard Kuh.
It is more broken up into peaks of definite outline, and
is more deeply cut by gorges, many of them the beds of
torrents, densely wooded. In fact it is less of a range
and more of a group. The route lay among huge steep
mountains of naked rock, cut up by narrow, deep, and
gigantic clefts, from whose depths rise spires of rock and
stupendous, almost perpendicular cliffs. Green torrents
flecked with foam boom through the shadows, or flash in
VOL. II                                                         J