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

LETTER xx                   " UNDER FIEE»                               91

Hadji and his charvadars bringing up the caravan as
steadily as if there were no danger ahead. Not a man
showed the "white feather," though most, like myself,
were " under fire " for the first time. When we reached
-the crest of the pass such a wild lot crowded ahout us,
their guns yet hot from firing upon us. Such queer arms
they had—one gun with a flint lock a century old, with
the " Tower mark " upon it, loaded sticks, and long knives.
With much talking and excitement they accompanied us
to this camping-ground.1

The men varied considerably in their stories. They
were frightened, they said, and fired because they thought
we were come to harm them. At first I was sorry
for them, and regarded them as merely defending their
" hearths and homes," for in the alpine valley behind the
hill are their, black tents, their families, their flocks
and herds—their world, in fact. But they told another
story, and said they took us for a party of Hajwands.
This was untenable, and the Agha told them that they
knew that Hajwands do not ride on English saddles, and
carry white umbrellas, and march with big caravans of
mules. To me, when they desired my services, they
said that had they known that one of the party was a
Hakim they never would have fired.

1 This untoward affair ended well, but had there been bloodshed on
either side, had any one of us been killed, which easily might have been,
the world would never have believed but that some offence had been given,
and that some high-handed action had been the cause of the attack. I
am in a position to say, not only that no offence was given, but that here and
everywhere the utmost care was taken not to violate Bakhtiari etiquette,
or wound religious or national susceptibilities ; all supplies were paid for
above their value ; the servants, always under our own eyes, were friendly
but reserved; and in all dealings with the people kindness and justice
were the rule. I make these remarks in the hope of modifying any harsh
judgments which may be passed upon any travellers who have died un-
witnessed deaths at the hands of natives. There are, as in our case,
absolutely unprovoked attacks.