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192                      JOURNEYS IN PERSIA             LETTER xxv

the dimness, the immense thickness of the mud walls,
the rays of light coming in through protected holes in
the roof, the horses tethered to the tree-trunks, and the
smoke. The "living-room" is a small recess, rendered
smaller by a rows of clay receptacles for grain as high as
the roof on one side, and a row of oil-jars, each large
enough to hold a man, on the other. A fire of animal
fuel in a hole in the middle of the floor emitted much
pungent smoke and little heat. A number of thick
wadded quilts were arranged for me, and tea was served
in Eussian glass cups from a Eussian samovar.

The wife was handsome, and never in any country
have I seen a more beautiful girl than the daughter, who
might have posed for a Madonna. They told me that
for the five months of winter the snow comes " as high
as the mouth," and that there is no egress from the
village. The men attend to the horses and stock, and
the women weave carpets, but much of the time is spent
by both in sleep.

Accompanied by this beautiful girl, who is graceful as
well as beautiful, and an old servant, I paid many visits,
and found all the houses arranged in the same fashion.
I was greatly impressed by their scrupulous cleanliness.
The floors of hardened clay are as clean as sweeping
can make them, and the people are clean in dress and
person. The women, many of whom are very handsome,
are unveiled, and do not even wear the chadar. The
very becoming head-dress is a black coronet, from which
silver coins depend by silver chains. A red kerchief is
loosely knotted over the back of the head, on which
heavy plaits of hair are looped up by silver pins. This
girl passed with me through the crowds of strange men
unveiled, with a simplicity and maidenly dignity which
were very pleasing. It was refreshing to see the hand-
some faces, erect carriage, and firm, elastic walk of these