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180                      JOURNEYS IN PEESIA             LETTER xxv

growing region, and by no means unprosperous, but it
only yields one crop a year, the land is ploughed im-
mediately after harvest, and the irrigation is cut off
until sowing-time. Consequently nothing can exceed the
ugliness of the aspect of the country at this time. There
is not one redeeming feature, and on the long marches
there is rarely anything to please or interest the eye.
On the march from Bijar there was not a green thing
except some poplars and willows by a stream, not a
blade of grass, not a green "weed,"—nothing but low
mud hills, with their sides much ploughed and the
furrows baked hard, and unploughed gravelly stretches
covered sparsely with scorched thistles.

Eight miles of an easy descent of 1500 feet brought
us to the Kizil Uzen, a broad but fordable stream, on the
other side of which is Salamatabad, a village consisting
chiefly of the large walled gardens and houses of the
Governor of Bijar. A little higher up there is a solid
eight-arched stone bridge, over 300 feet long. This
Kizil Uzen is one of the most important streams in north
Persia. It drains a very large area, and after a long and
devious course enters the Caspian Sea under the name of
the Sefid Eud. Eleven miles from this place I crossed
the lofty crest of the ridge which divides the drainage
basins of the Kizil Uzen and Urnii. A number of
sowars came out and escorted me through a gateway down
a road with high walls and buildings on both sides to an
inner gateway leading to the Khan's andarun. Here we
all dismounted, but the next step was not obvious, for the
heavy wooden gate which secludes the andarun was
strongly barred, and showed no symptoms of welcome.
An aged eunuch put his melancholy head out of a hole
at the side, and said that the ladies were expecting me
and that food was ready for the animals and the servants,
but still the gate moved not, I asked if Mirza could go