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266                  JOUENEYS IN KUKDISTAN    LETTER xxvm

very nervous till Hesso turned round, and with an
awakened expression of face asked how it was that
" England had allowed Turkey to grow so feeble that her
frontier and Armenia are in a state of anarchy " ? Hesso's
handsome face is that of a villain. He does not look
more than thirty. He has 200 well-mounted marksmen
at his disposal. The father of this redoubtable Kurdish
chief died in prison, where he was confined by order of the
Shah, and the son revenged himself by harrying this part
of the Shah's dominions, and with sixty men, including his
six brothers, successfully resisted a large Persian force
sent against him, and eventually escaped into Turkey,
doing much damage on his way. Hesso on arriving in
Kerbela obtained a letter from the Sheikh, or chief Mollah
there, saying that he offered his submission to the Shah,
and went to Tihran, where after seeing the Shah's
splendour he said that if he had known it before, he
would not have been in rebellion.

Before this the Persians took a strong castle from the
Kurds, and garrisoned it with an officer and a company
of soldiers. Up to it one day went Hesso boldly, keeping
the six men who went with him out of sight, and
thumped upon the gate till it was opened, saying he was
a bearer of despatches. He first shot the sentry dead,
and next the officer, who came to see what the disturb-
ance was about. Meantime the six men, by climbing on
each other's shoulders, scaled the castle wall, and by con-
fused shouts and dragging of the stone roller to and fro
over the roof they made the garrison believe that it was
attacked by a large force, and it surrendered at discretion.
The lives of the soldiers were spared, but they were marched
out in their shirts, with their hands above their heads.

The Merwana threshing-floor was guarded at night
by ten men. The following morning we were to have
started an hour before daylight, but the katirgis refused