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LETTER xxvi        AN UNEASY CHARYADAR                    213

able creak of wooden wheels enlightened me I could not
think what was approaching. Actually every village on
these plains has one or more buffalo-carts, with wooden
wheels without tires, and hubs and axles of enormous
size and strength, usually drawn by four buffaloes. A man
sits on the front of the cart and drives with a stick, and
a boy facing backwards sits on the yoke between the two
foremost beasts. He croons a perpetual song, and if this
ceases the buffaloes stop. For every added pair (and on
the next plain I saw as many as six yoke) there is an
additional boy and an additional song.

This apparition carried a light wooden frame, which
was loaded to a preposterous height with the strong reeds
which are used to support the mud roofs, heavily weighted
as these are with stacks of fodder.

One would think one was in the heart of the Bakh-
tiari country and not on a caravan route, from the
difficulty of getting any correct guidance as to the road,
distance, safety, or otherwise, etc. Sharban has never
been this way, and is the prey of every rumour. Be-
tween his terror of having to " eat wood " on his return,
and his dread of being attacked and robbed of his yalus,
he leads an uneasy life, and when, as at Mehemetabad,
there is no yard for his animals, he watches all night in
the idea that the guards are the " worst robbers of all."
I think he has all the Mussulman distrust of arrange-
ments made by a woman! Hitherto the guards have
been faithful and quiet. I always ask them not to talk
after 8 P.M., and I have not once been disturbed by
them; and when I walk as usual twice round the camp
during the night I always find them awake by their big

The village Khan, an intelligent man, spent some time
with me in the afternoon. The fields of his village are
not manured at all, and the yield is only about tenfold.