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104                       .JOUENEYS IIST PEESIA              LETTER xx

usual, and the mules looking wisely, choosing their way,
and leaping dexterously upon and among the rocks.
It is not a route for laden animals, but personally, as I
had two men to help me, I did not find it so risky or
severe as the descent of the Gokun Pass.

Below these conglomerate precipices are steep and
dangerous zigzags, which I was obliged to ride down,
and there we were not so fortunate, for Hadji's big saddle-
mule slipped, and being unable to recover herself fell
over the edge some hundred feet and was killed instant-

The descent of the southern face of Parwez, abrupt
and dangerous most of the way, is over 4300 feet. The
track proceeds down the Holiwar valley, brightened by
a river of clear green water, descending from Lake Irene.
Having forded this, we camped on its left bank on a
gravelly platform at the edge of the oak woods which
clothe the lower spurs of the grand Kuh-i-Haft-Kuh,
with a magnificent view of the gray battlemented pre-
cipices of Parwez. The valley is beautiful, and acres of
withered flowers suggested what its brief spring loveli-
ness must be, but its altitude is only 5150 feet, and the
mercury in the shade was 104, the radiation from the
rock and gravel terrible, and the sand-flies made rest
impossible. At midnight the mercury stood at 90.
There were no Bakhtiaris, but two or three patches of
scorched-up wheat, not worth cutting, evidenced their
occasional presence. Among these perished crops, revel-
ling in blazing soil and air like the breath of a furnace,
grew the blue centaurea and the scarlet poppy, the
world-wide attendants upon grain; and where other
things were burned, the familiar rose-coloured "sweet
william," a white-fringed dianthus, and a gigantic yellow
mullein audaciously braved the heat.

No one slept that night because of the sand-flies and