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90                       JOUKNEYS IN PEKSIA               LETTER xx

Camp Parwez, July 31.óWe left early in the morn-
ing, en route, for the fort of Yahya Khan, the powerful
chief of the Pulawand tribe, with a tall, well-dressed,
and very respectable-looking man, Bagha Khan, one of
his many fathers-in-law, the father of the present " reign-
ing favourite/' as guide. It was a very pretty track,
pursuing sheep-paths over steep spurs of Parwez, and
along the narrow crests of ridges, always with fine views.
On reaching an alpine valley, rich in flowers, we halted
till the caravan approached, and then rode on, the " we "
that day being the guide on foot, and the Agha, the Sahib,
Aziz Khan, Mirza, and myself on horseback in single
file. Three men looked over the crest of a ridge to the
left and disappeared abruptly, and I remarked to Mirza
that this was the most suspicious circumstance we had
yet seen. There was one man on the hill to the right,
with whom the guide exchanged some sentences in patois.

The valley opened out on the stony side of a hill,
which had to be crossed. As we climbed it was crested
with a number of men with long guns. Presently a
number of shots were fired at us, and the reloading of the
guns was distinctly seen. The order was given to " scatter "
and proceed slowly. When the first shot was fired Bagha
Khan, who must have been well known to all his tribes-
men, dodged under a rock. Then came an irregular
volley from a number of guns, and the whistle and thud
of bullets over and among us showed that the tribesmen,
whatever were their intentions, were in earnest. To this
^volley the Agha replied by a rifle shot which passed close
over their heads, but again they reloaded rapidly. We
halted, and Aziz Khan was sent up to parley with them.
No one could doubt his courage after that solitary ascent
in the very face of the guns.

Karim cantered up, anxious to fight, Mujid and
Hassan, much excited, dashed up, and we rode on slowly,