LETTER xxvi THE "PAEADISE OF PERSIA" 217
absence I was at once invited by his wife, and so sur-
rounded by cultivation that a vacant space could only
be found for the camp in a stubble-field.
The caravan had only just come in, and there was
neither fuel nor drinking water within easy reach. I was
so completely worn out that I was lifted off the horse and
laid on the ground in blankets till the camp was in order
late at night. Sharban, knowing that his deception was
discovered, had disappeared with his yabus without helping
as usual to pitch my tent. Mirza, always cheerful and
hard-working, though always slow, and Johannes did
their best, but it is very hard on servants who are up
before five not to bring them in till sunset, when their
work is scarcely over till near midnight, and has to be
done in the dark. The next day there were a succession
of dust storms and half a gale from noon to sunset, but my
tent stood it well, and the following day this was repeated.
These strong winds usually prevail in the afternoon at
Urmi, October 8. — A march over low and much-
ploughed hills, an easy descent and a ford brought us
down upon the plain of Urmi, the " Paradise of Persia,"
and to the pleasant and friendly hamlet of Turkman,
where I spent the night and made the half-march into
Urmi yesterday morning. This plain is truly " Paradise "
as seen from the hill above it, nor can I say that its
charm disappears on more intimate acquaintance. Far
I have travelled now for nine months in Persia and
know pretty well what to expect—not to look for sur-
prises of beauty and luxuriance, and to be satisfied
with occasional oases of cultivation among brown, rocky,
treeless hills, varied by brown villages with crops and
spindly poplars and willows, contrasting with the harsh
barrenness of the surrounding gravelly waste.