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206                      JOURNEYS IN PERSIA            LETTER xxv

morning at 6.30, and hoar-frost lay on the ground. The
steadiness with which the mercury descends at this
season is as interesting as its steady ascent in the spring,
and its freedom from any but the smallest fluctuations in
the summer. The road to Sujbulak passes over uplands
and hill-slopes, tawny with sun-cured grass, and after
crossing some low spurs, blue with the lovely Hryngium
cceruleuin3 descends into a long rich valley watered by the
river Sanak. This valley, in which are situated Inda
Khosh and other large villages, is abundantly irrigated,
and is cultivated throughout. Well planted with fruit
trees, it is a great contrast to the arid, fiery slopes which
descend upon it.

Long before reaching Sujbulak there were indications
of the vicinity of a place of some importance, caravans
going both ways, asses loaded with perishable produce,
horsemen and foot passengers, including many fine-looking
Kurdish women unveiled, and walking with a firm mascu-
line stride, even when carrying children on their backs.

A few miles from the town two sowars met me, but
after escorting me for some distance they left me, and
taking the wrong road, I found myself shortly on a slope
above the town, not among the living but the dead.
Such a City of Death I have never seen. A whole hour
was occupied in riding through it without reaching its
limits. Fifty thousand gravestones are said to stand on
the reddish-gray gravel between the hill and the city wall,
mere unhewn slabs of gray stone, from six inches to as
many feet in height, row beyond row to the limit of vision
300,000 people, they say, are buried there. There is
no suggestion of " life and immortality." Weird, melan-
choly, and terribly malodorous, owing to the shallowness
of the graves, the impression made by this vast cemetery
is solely painful. The tombs are continued up to the
walls and even among the houses, and having been much