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LETTER xx                 A FERTILE BASIN                           105

the need for keeping a vigilant watch. Indeed, the tents
were packed shortly after sunset, and in a hot dawn we
ascended to a considerable height above the valley, and
then for many miles followed a stream in a wooded glen,
where willows, planes, vines, rank grass, and a hand-
some yellow pea grew luxuriantly, looped together con-
tinually by the fragile Clematis orientalis. All that
country would be pretty had it moisture and "atmo-
sphere." The hillsides are covered with oaks and the
Paliurus aculeatus on their lower slopes, rising out of
withered flowers. All else is uncut sun-cured hay, and
its pale uniform buff colour is soft, and an improvement
on the glare of bare gravel.

Delays, occasioned by the caravan being misled by the
guide, took us into the heat of the day, and before the
narrow valley opened out into the basin surrounded by
wooded spurs of hills in which Khanabad stands, it was
noon. Men and animals suffered from the heat and
length of that march. In the middle of this basin there
is a good deal of cultivation, and opium, wheat, cotton,
melons, grapes, and cucumbers grow well. Rice has
already succeeded wheat, and will be reaped in November.
Kalla Khanabad, the fort dwelling of Yahya Khan, with
terraces of poplars, mulberries, pomegranates, and apricots
below it, makes a good centre of a rather pretty view.
Leaving it on the right we turned up a narrow valley
with a small stream and irrigation channels, and close to
a spring and some magnificent plane trees camped for
Sunday on a level piece of blazing ground where the
mercury stood at 106 on both days. This spot was
remarkable for some very fine eryngiums growing by the
stream, with blossoms of a beautiful " Trench blue," the
size of a Seville orange.

The Khan's son, a most unprepossessing young man,
called on me, and I received him under the trees, a