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184                      JOURNEYS IN PEKSIA             LETTER xxv

country, over ever-ascending rolling Mils, with small
plateaux among them, very destitute of water, and
consequently of population, the village of Khashmaghal,
with 150 houses, and two ruined forts, being the one
object of interest.

On the way to Jafirabad is the small village of
Nasrabad, once a cluster of semi-subterranean hovels,
inhabited by thieves. Some years ago the present Shah
halted near it on one of his hunting excursions, and
observing the desolation of the country, and water
running to waste, gave money and lands to bribe a
number of families to settle there. There are now sixty
houses surrounded by much material wealth. The Shah
still divides 100 tumans yearly among the people, and
takes a very small tribute. Nasr-ed-Din has many mis-
deeds to answer for, many despotic acts, and some blood-
shed, but among the legions of complaints of oppression
and grinding exactions which I hear in most places, I
have not heard one of the tribute fixed by him—solely
of the exactions and merciless rapacity of the governors
and their subordinate officials.

Jafirabad, a village of 100 houses in the midst of
arable land, has one of those camping-grounds of smooth
green sward at once so tempting and so risky, and we all
got rheumatism in the moist chilliness of the night. The
mercury is still falling slowly and steadily, and the sun
is only really hot between ten and four. Jafirabad is a
prosperous village, owned, as many in this region are, by
the Governor of Tabriz, who is merciful as to tribute.

Everything was wet, even inside my tent. It was
actually cold. In the yellow dawn I heard Mirza's
cheerful voice saying, " Madam, they think your horse is
dead!" The creature had been stretched out motionless
for two hours in the midst of bustle and packing. I told
them to take off his nose-bag, which was nearly full, but