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186                      JOUENEYS IN PERSIA            LETTER xxv

he threatening them, with the regiment from Bijar, but
all he said was of no use, till he told them that I was
the wife of the Governor of Tabriz, that I had been
paying a visit to Hamadan, and was then going to be the
guest of the ladies of Hadji Baba, Governor of Achaz,
that I had been committed to him, and that he was
answerable for my safety. " You know I am a man of
my word," was the conclusion of this brilliant lie, which
served its purpose, for they said they knew him, and
would not rob me then.

They rode with us for some miles, in fact the leader,
a sinister-looking elderly man, in a turban and brown
abba like an Arab, rode so close to me that the barrel
of his gun constantly touched my saddle. They carried
double-barrelled guns besides revolvers. On coming to
a part of the country where the ketchuda said the road
became safe, I sent the caravan on with the servants, the
band having gone in another direction, and halted for two
hours. Biding on again, and turning sharply round a large
rock, there they all were, dismounted, and rushed out upon
us. A m$Ue ensued, and as I then had only two men they
were two to one, and would certainly have overpowered
my escort had not several horsemen appeared in the
distance, when they mounted and rode away. One of
the horses was scratched, and I got an accidental cut on
my wrist. They believed that I had a considerable sum
of money with me. The ketcliuda of Takautapa said
that they had robbed his village of some cattle a few
days before.

Takautapa is a village of thirty-five houses, with two
shops, and a gunsmith who seemed to drive a "roaring
trade/' For three days I have scarcely seen an unarmed
man. Shepherds, herdsmen, ploughmen, travellers, all
carry arms. Mirza went to the Governor of Achaz, six
miles off, with my letter from the Governor of Bijar, arid