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194                      JOURNEYS IN PERSIA             LETTER xxv

that they took the food without paying for it, I now pay
the people directly for the keep of the men and horses.
Even by this method I have not circumvented the rapacity
of these horsemen, for after I have settled the "bill"
they threaten to beat the Jtetchuda unless he gives them
the money I have given him.

The Ilyat women from the camp crowded round me
with a familiarity which, even in savages, is distressing,
a contrast to the good manners and unobtrusiveness of
the women of Geokahaz.

On the way to Sanjud, a Kurdish village in a ravine
so steep that it was barely possible to find a level space
big enough for my tent, there is some very fine scenery,
and from the slope of Kuh Surisart, on the east side of
the Gardan-i-Mianmalek, the loftiest land between Hama-
dan and "Urmi, the view is truly magnificent. The
nearer ranges stood out boldly in yellow and red ochre,
in the valleys indigo shadows lay, range beyond range
of buff-brown hills were atmospherically glorified by
brilliant cobalt colouring, and the hills which barred the
horizon dissolved away in a blue which blended with the
sky. In that vast solitude the fine ruins of the fortress
palace of Karaftu, where the fountain still leaps in the
deserted courtyard, are a very conspicuous object.

From the Mianinalek Pass there is a descent of 5000
feet to the Sea of Urmi, and the keen edge of the air
became much blunted ere we reached Sanjud. Nearly
the whole of the road from Hamadan has been extremely
solitary. We have not met or passed a single caravan,
and on this march of seven hours we did not see a human
being. Yet there are buff-brown villages Jying in the
valleys among the buff-brown hills, and an enormous
extent of country is under tillage. In fact, this region
is one of the granaries of Persia.

Sanjud is a yellow-ochre village of eighty houses built