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Full text of "Journeys In Persia And Kurdistan ( Vol.Ii)."

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LETTER sviii      A SAVAGE PANDEMONIUM                     73

As the welcome darkness fell the hillsides near and
far blazed with fires, and Aslam Khan's camp immediately
below was a very picturesque sight, its thirty-one tents
forming a circle, with the Khan's two tents in the middle,
each having a fire in front. Supper was prepared in large
pots; the men ate first, then the women, children, and
dogs. The noise suggested pandemonium. The sheep
and goats bleated, the big dogs barked, the men and
women shouted and shrieked all together, at the top of
their voices, rude musical instruments brayed and clanged,
—it sounded diabolical. Doubtless the inroad of the
Feringhis was the topic of talk. Savage life does not
bear a near view. Its total lack of privacy, its rough
brutality, its dirt, its undisguised greed, its unconcealed
jealousies and hatreds, its falseness, its pure selfishness,
and its treachery are all painful on a close inspection.

The following morning early we came up to the Gunak,
the narrow top of a pass in the Kala Kuh range with
an altitude of 10,200 feet, crossing on the way a steep
and difficult snow-slide, and.have halted here for two
days. Marching with the caravan is a necessary pre-
caution, but a most tedious and fatiguing arrangement.
No more galloping, only a crawl at " caravan pace," about
two and a half miles an hour for five, six, or seven hours,
and though one is up at 2.45 it is fully five before the
mules are under way, and meantime one is the centre of that
everlasting crowd which, on some pretext or other, asks
for medicine. If no ailment can be produced at present,
then the request is, " Give me something from the leather
box, I've a cough in the winter," or an uncovered copper
bowl is brought, the contents of which would evaporate
in a fortnight in this climate, with the plaint, " I've a
brother," or some other relative, " who has sore eyes in
spring, please give me some eye-lotion." Nothing is
appreciated made from their own valuable medicinal herbs.