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214                     JOUENEYS IN PEESIA          LETTER xxvi

Willows are grown for the sake of the osiers, which
are a necessity, and not for fuel, and the whole of the
manure is required for cooking and heating purposes.
He said that his village becomes poorer annually owing
to the heavier exactions of the officials and the larger
sums demanded to "buy off robbers." The latter is a
complaint often made in the villages which are near
the Turkish frontier, a boundary which from all accounts
needs considerable " rectification." The people say that
Kurds cross the border, and that unless they bribe them
they drive off their sheep and cattle and get over it
again safely, but I doubt the truth of these statements.

I got away at sunrise for a march of nominally
fourteen miles, but in reality twenty-four. Sharban not
only stated the distance falsely but induced others to do
the same thing, and when he passed me at midday, say-
ing the halting-place was only two miles ahead, he went
on for twelve miles, his desire being to rejoin that bug-
bear, the " big caravan." which he heard had reached
Urmi. The result is that I have had to rest for two
days, and he has gained two days' pay, but has lost time

After some serious difficulties in crossing some swampy
streams and a pitiable display of cowardice on Boy's
part, we embarked on the magnificent plain of Sulduz,
where Johannes, with a supreme self-confidence which
imposed on me, took the wrong one of two tracks,
and we rode west instead of east, to within a few hours'
journey of a pass into Turkey through the magnificent
range of the Zibar mountains, which even at this ad-
vanced season are in some places heavily patched with
last winter's snow.

To regain the caravan route we had to cross the
greater part of this grand plain, which I had not then
seen equalled in Persia for fertility and population. It
possesses that crown of blessings, an abundant water