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LETTER xxv              A POISONOUS BULB                         203

has an old fort, a very fine spring, and a " resident pro-
prietor," who, as soon as he heard of my arrival, sent
servants with melons and tea on silver trays, stabled
my horse, and provided me with a strong guard, sfs the
camping-ground was much exposed to robbers. Such
attentions, though pleasant, are very Expensive, as the
greater the master the greater are the expectations of the
servants, and the value of such a present as melons must
be at least quadrupled in bakhsheesk.

"While halting the next day the horses eagerly ate
the stalks and roots of a strongly-scented bulb which
lay almost on the surface of the ground, and were simul-
taneously seized with a peculiar affection. Their hair
stood out from their bodies like bristles, and they threw
their heads up and down with a regular, convulsive, and
apparently perfectly involuntary motion, while their eyes
were fixed and staring. This went on for two hours,
Boy following me as usual; but owing to this most dis-
tressing jerk, over which he had no control, he was
unable to eat the dainties which his soul loves, and
which I hoped would break up the affection—a very
painful one to witness. After the attack both animals*
perspired profusely. The water literally ran off their
bodies. The jerks gradually moderated and ceased, and
there were no after effects but very puffy swellings about
the throat. Both had barley in their nose-bags, but
pawed and wriggled them off in order to get at this
plant, a species of allium.

When Eoy was well enough to be mounted we
descended into an immense plain, on which were many
villages and tracks. This plain of Hadji Hussein is
in fact only another part of the alluvial level of the
Jagatsu, which, with a breadth of from four to ten miles,
extends for nearly forty miles, and is fertile and populous
for most of its length. At the nearest village all the