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116                       JOUBNEYS IN PEESIA             LETTER xx

and were encamped above us, and there were two large
camps below. Men from each of them warned us to
beware of the others, for they were robbers, and there
was a great deal of dexterous pilfering, which reduced my
table equipments to a copper mug, one plate, and a knife
and fork. My shuldari was torn to pieces, and pulled
down over me, by a lively mule which cantered among
the tent ropes.

The afternoon, with the mercury at 103°, was spent
in entertaining successive crowds, not exactly rude, but
full of untamed curiosity. I amused them to their com-
plete satisfaction by letting them blow my whistle, fill
my air-cushion, and put the whalebones into my col-
lapsible basins. One of Milward's self-threading needles,
which had luckily been found in my carpet, surprised
them beyond measure. Every man and woman insisted
on threading it with the eyes shut, and the ketchuda of
one camp offered to barter a sheep for it. They said
that my shabby tent, with its few and shabby equip-
ments, was "fit for God!"

The camps passed on that day were constructed of
booths made of stems of trees with the bark on, the roofs
being made of closely-woven branches with the leaves
on. These booths are erected'round a square with mat
walls, and face outwards, a sort of privacy being obtained
by backs of coarse reed mats four feet high, and mat
divisions between the dwellings. The sheep, goats, and
cattle are driven into the square at night through a
narrow entrance walled with mats.

Since leaving the Karun very few horses have been
seen, and the few have been of a very inferior class.
Even Yahya Khan, who has the reputation of being rich,
rode a horse not superior to a common pack animal. The
people we have been among lately have no horses or mares,
the men walk, and the loads are carried on cows and asses.