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LETTER xvin    RUMOUES AND EXCITEMENT                   67

there is a confused mass of mountains, among which
the snow-slashed southern faces of the peaks of the
Zard Kuh and the grand bulk of a mountain of the
Faidun range, are the most prominent.

Five thousand feet below, reached by a remarkable
track, is Basnoi, a lonely depth, with successive terraces
of figs, pomegranates, and walnuts, dense woods, and a
luxuriant undergrowth of long grass and ferns. Among
them are the remains of an ancient road of good width
and construction, and of a very fine bridge of small blocks
of carefully-dressed stone, with three arches, now ruined,
with fine piers and stone abutments, the centre arch
having a span of sixty feet. The roadway of the bridge
is gone, and a crazy wicker framework is suspended in its
place. The Bakhtiaris attribute these relics of an extinct
civilisation to Shapur, one of the three kings of that name
who reigned in the third and fourth centuries. All these
green waters fall into the Ab-i-Diz.

Before sunset heads of men and barrels of guns were
seen over the rocky cliff behind us. We had been
warned against the outlaw tribes of that region, and had
been told that they were preparing to rob the camp that
night with thirty men, and had declared that if they
failed they would dog us till they succeeded. This news
was brought by Aslam Khan's brother in the afternoon.
I asked Aziz with how much I should reach Burujird,
and he answered, " It's well if you take your life there."

This and a whole crop of other rumours, magnified as
they passed from man to man, produced a novel excite-
ment in the lonely camps. Hadji buried his money, of
which he had a large sum, and lay down upon it. Rifles
and revolvers were cleaned and loaded, swords and knives
sharpened, voices were loud and ceaseless, and those who
were slightly hurt in the morning's fray recounted their
adventures over and over again. All dispositions for