LETTER xix MIRAB KHAN'S WIVES 79
the conjecture, expressed by many others, that England
would shortly occupy Luristan, and give them equity and
security. Another Khan of some power said to me that
if England were to occupy south-west Persia, he would
help her with 400 horsemen, and added, " An English fleet
at Basrah, with an English army on board, would be the
best sight which Bakhtiari eyes could see." l
I had to hear the long story of the Khan's complicated
maladies, to look at many bad eyes, and at the wounds of
a poor fellow suffering from snake-bite, who was carried
on another man's back, and to promise to bring up my
medicine chest the following day, the fame of the " leather
box " having reached Arjanak.
On my way I had called at the haram, and the ladies
accompanied me to the durlar, conduct which I think
was not approved of, as they told me the next morning
that they must not go there. After the Agha returned, the
three wives and many other women clustered timidly round
me. Two of them are very bright and pretty, and one, a
Persian, very affectionate in her manner. She held my
hand all the time. There was also a handsome daughter,
with a baby, the discarded wife of a son of the next Khan.
In winter, they said, they amuse themselves by singing,
and playing with their children, and by making a few
clothes, and the Persian embroiders boys' caps.
Aziz Khan has been irrepressible lately. His Arab
mare is his idol, not because she is a lovable animal and
carries him well, but because she is valuable property.
He fusses about her ceaselessly, and if he were allowed
1 To English people the Bakhtiaris profess great friendliness for England,
and the opinion has been expressed by some well-informed writers that, in
the event of an English occupation of the country, their light horse,
drilled by English officers, would prove valuable auxiliaries. I am
inclined, however, to believe that if a collision were to occur in south-
west Persia between two powers which shall be nameless, the Bakhtiari
horsemen would be sold to the highest bidder.