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182                      JOURNEYS IN PERSIA             LETTER xxv

Bussians do." The principal lady expressed a wish for
greater liberty, thongh she qualified it by saying that
men who love their wives could not let them go about as
the English ladies do in Tihran. Dinner had been pre-
pared, a huge Persian dinner, but they kindly allowed me
to take tea instead, and produced with it gaz (manna)
and a cake flavoured with asafcetida. "When I came to
an end of my Persian, and they of their ideas, I said
farewell, and was followed to the gate by the mocking
laugh of the duenna.

The sowars asserted that the next farsakh was " very
' dangerous," so we kept together. "Wild, desolate, rolling,
scrubless open country it is, the spurs of the Kurdish
hills. The sowars were very fussy and did a great deal
of galloping and scouting, saying that bands of robber
horsemen are often met with on this route, who, being
Sunnis, would rejoice in attacking Shiahs. Doubtless
they magnified the risk in order to enhance the value of
their services. In the early afternoon we reached the
Kurdish village of Karabulak, sixty mud hovels, on the
flaring mud hillside, the great fodder stacks on the flat,
roofs alone making the houses obvious. The water is very
bad and limited in quantity, and of milk there was none.
The people are very poor and unprosperous, and a meaner
set of donkeys and oxen than those which were treading
out the corn close to my tent I have not seen.

Though most of the inhabitants are Kurds, there are
some Persians and Turks, and each nationality has its own
Jcetchuda. Towards evening the sowars came to me with
the three ketchudas, who, they said, would arrange for a
guard, and for my escort the next day. I did not Like
this, for the sowars had good double-barrelled guns, and
were in Persian uniform, and had been given me for
three days, but there was no help for it. The Jcetchudas
said that they could not guarantee my safety that night