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134                      JOURNEYS IN PERSIA          LETTER xxn


HAMADAN, Aug. 28.

IT was as I thought. The sowar sent with me was only
a harmless peasant taken from the plough, mounted on
his own horse, and provided with a Government gun.
The poor fellow showed the " white feather " on the first
march, and I was obliged to assert the " ascendency of
race" and ride in front of him. The villagers at once
set him down as an impostor, and refused him supplies,
and as his horse could not keep up with mine, and the
road presented no apparent perils, I dismissed him at the
end of three days with a largesse which gladdened his
heart. He did not know the way, and the afternoon I
left Burujird he led me through ploughed fields and along
roadless hillsides, till at the end of an hour I found my-
self close to the garden from which I started.

The early part of the first march is over great bare
gravelly slopes without water. Then come irrigation and-
villages. The hills have been eaten nearly bare. Nothing
remains but a yellow salvia and the beautiful Eryngiwm,
cceruleum. There, as in the Bakhtiari country, the people
stack the Gentaurea alata for winter fodder. The road is
good, and except in two places a four-wheeled carriage
could be driven over it at a trot.

The camping - ground was outside Deswali, an un-
walled, village of 106 houses, with extensive cultivated
lands and a " well-to-do " aspect. The people raise cereals,