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68                      JOURNEYS IN PERSIA           LETTER xvm

safety were carefully made before night. Hassan, who
has a horse, and large property in good clothes, wanted a
revolver, but was wisely refused, on the ground that to
arm undisciplined men indiscriminately would be to run
a great risk of being ourselves shot in any confusion.
There were then four men with rifles,, five with revolvers,
and Aslam Khan's brother and two tufangchis with guns.

About eight the Bakhtiari signal-call was several
times repeated, and I wondered if it were foe or friend,
till Aziz's answering signal rang out loud and clear,
announcing that it was "friends of Isfandyar Khan."
Shortly I heard, " the plot thickens," and the " friends "
turned out to be another brother of Aslam Khan, with
four tufangchis and a promise of eight more, who never
arrived. According to these men reliable information
had been received that Khaja Taimur, our friend of
Kalahoma, was sending forty men to rob us on Aslam
Khan's territory in order to get him into trouble.

This arrival increased the excitement among the men,
who piled tamarisk and the gum tragacanth bush on the
fires most recklessly, the wild, hooded tufangchis and
their long guns being picturesque in the firelight. I am
all but positively sure that the rumour was invented by
Aslam Khan, in order to show his vigilant care of guests,
and secure from their gratitude the much-coveted
possession of an English rifle. Hadji came to my tent,
telling me " not to be the least afraid, for they would not
harm a lady." The Agha has a resource for every
emergency, the Sahib is cool and brave, and besides that,
I strongly suspected the whole thing to be a ruse of
Aslam Khan, whom I distrust thoroughly. At all events
I was asleep very early, and was only disturbed twice by
Aziz calling to know if my servants were watching, and
was only awakened at five by the Sahib and the Agha
going past my tent, giving orders that any stranger