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 this season. 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 from it! 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.