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Around the World on a Bicycle V1 by Thomas Stevens

Part 8 out of 9

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of some bystanders where I can obtain elcmek; some of them want to know
how many liras I will give for ekmek. When it is reflected that a lira
is nearly five dollars, one realizes from this something of the
unconscionable possibilities of the Persian commercial mind.

While this question is being mooted, a figure appears in the doorway,
toward which the people one and all respectfully salaam and give way.
It is the great Pasha Khan; he has bethought himself to open my letter
of introduction, and having perused it and discovered who it was from
and all about me, he now comes and squats down in the most friendly
manner by my side for a minute, as though to remove any unfavorable
impressions his inhospitable action in sending me here might have made,
and then bids me accompany him back to his residence. After permitting
him to eat a sufficiency of humble pie in the shape of coaxing, to atone
for his former incivility, I agree to his proposal and accompany him
back. Tea is at once provided, the now very friendly Pasha Khan putting
extra lumps of sugar into my glass with his own hands and stirring it
up; bread and cheese comes in with the tea, and under the mistaken
impression that this constitutes the Persian evening meal I eat sufficient
to satisfy my hunger. While thus partaking freely of the bread and cheese,
I do not fail to notice that the others partake very sparingly, and that
they seem to be rather astonished because I am not following their
example. Being chiefly interested in satisfying my appetite, however,
their silent observations have no effect save to further mystify my
understanding of the Persian character. The secret of all this soon
reveals itself in the form of an ample repast of savory chicken pillau,
brought in immediately afterward; and while the Pasha Khan and his two
sons proceed to do full justice to this highly acceptable dish, I have
to content myself with nibbling at a piece of chicken, and ruminating
on the unhappy and ludicrous mistake of having satisfied my hunger with
dry bread and cheese. Thus does one pay the penalty of being unacquainted
with the domestic customs of a country when first entering upon its
experiences. There seems to be no material difference between the social
position of the women here and in Turkey; they eat their meals by
themselves, and occupy entirely separate apartments, which are unapproachable
to members of the opposite sex save their husbands. The Pasha Khan of
Ovahjik, however, seems to be a kind, indulgent husband and father,
requesting me next morning to ride up and down the brick-paved walk for
the benefit of his wives and daughters. In the seclusion of their own
walled premises the Persian females are evidently not so particular about
concealing their features, and I obtained a glimpse of some very pretty
faces; oval faces with large dreamy black eyes, and a flush of warm
sunset on brownish cheeks. The indoor costume of Persian women is but
an inconsiderable improvement upon the costume of our ancestress in the
garden of Eden, and over this they hastily don a flimsy shawl-like garment
to come out and see me ride. They are always much less concerned about
concealing their nether extremities than about their faces, and as they
seem but little concerned about anything on this occasion save the
bicycle, after riding for them I have to congratulate myself that, so
far as sight-seeing is concerned, the ladies leave me rather under
obligations than otherwise.

After supper the Pasha Khan's falconer brings in several fine falcons
for my inspection, and in reply to questions concerning one with his
eyelids tied up in what appears to be a cruel manner, I am told that
this is the customary way of breaking the spirits of the young falcons
and rendering them tractable and submissive  the eyelids are pierced
with a hole, a silk thread is then fastened to each eyelid and the ends
tied together over the head, sufficiently tight to prevent them opening
their eyes. Falconing is considered the chief out-door sport of the
Persian nobility, but the average Persian is altogether too indolent for
out-door sport, and the keeping of falcons is fashionable, because
regarded as a sign of rank and nobility rather than for sport. In the
morning the Pasha Khan is wonderfully agreeable, and appears anxious to
atone as far as possible for the little incivility of yesterday evening,
and to remove any unfavorable impressions I may perchance entertain of
him on that account before I leave. His two sons and a couple of soldiers
accompany me on horseback some distance up the valley. The valley is
studded with villages, and at the second one we halt at the residence
of a gentleman named Abbas Koola Khan, and partake of tea and light
refreshments in his garden. Here I learn that the Pasha Khan has carried
his good intentions to the extent of having made arrangements to provide
me armed escort from point to point; how far ahead this well-meaning
arrangement is to extend I am unable to understand; neither do I care
to find out, being already pretty well convinced that the escort will
prove an insufferable nuisance to be gotten rid of at the first favorable
opportunity. Abbas Koola Khan now joins the company until we arrive at
the summit of a knoll commanding an extensive view of my road ahead so
they can stand and watch me when they all bid me farewell save the soldier
who is to accompany me further on. As we shake hands, the young man whom
I pushed into the irrigating ditch, points to a similar receptacle near
by and shakes his head with amusing solemnity; whether this is expressive
of his sorrow that I should have pushed him in, or that he should have
annoyed me to the extent of having deserved it, I cannot say; probably
the latter. My escort, though a soldier, is dressed but little different
from the better-class villagers; he is an almond-eyed individual, with
more of the Tartar cast of countenance than the Persian. Besides the
short Persian sword, he is armed with a Martini Henry rifle of the 1862
pattern; numbers of these rifles having found their way into the hands
of Turks, Koords and Persians, since the RussoTurkish war. My predictions
concerning his turning out an insupportable nuisance are not suffered
to remain long unverified, for he appears to consider it his chief duty
to gallop ahead and notify the villagers of my approach, and to work
them up to the highest expectations concerning my marvellous appearance.
The result of all this is a swelling of his own importance at having so
wonderful a person under his protection, and my own transformation from
an unostentatious traveller to something akin to a free circus for crowds
of barelegged ryots. I soon discover that, with characteristic Persian
truthfulness, he has likewise been spreading the interesting report that
I am journeying in this extraordinary manner to carry a message from the
"Ingilis Shah " to the "Shah in Shah of Iran " (the Persians know their
own country as Iran) thereby increasing his own importance and the
wonderment of the people concerning myself. The Persian villages, so
far, are little different from the Turkish, but such valuable property
as melon-gardens, vineyards, etc., instead of being presided over by a
watchman, are usually surrounded by substantial mud walls ten or twelve
feet high. The villagers themselves, being less improvident and altogether
more thoughtful of number one than the Turks, are on the whole, a trifle
less ragged; but that is saying very little indeed, and their condition
is anything but enviable. During the summer they fare comparatively well,
needing but little clothing, and they are happy and contented in the
absence of actual suffering; they are perfectly satisfied with a diet
of bread and fruit and cucumbers, rarely tasting meat of any kind. But
fuel is as scarce as in Asia Minor, and like the Turks and Armenians,
in winter they have resource to a peculiar and economical arrangement
to keep themselves warm; placing a pan of burning tezek beneath a low
table, the whole family huddle around it, covering the table and themselves
-save of course their heads-up with quilts; facing each other in this
ridiculous manner, they chat and while away the dreary days of winter.

At the third village after leaving the sons of the Pasha Khan, my Tartar-
eyed escort, with much garrulous injunction to his successor, delivers
me over to another soldier, himself returning back; this is my favorable
opportunity, and soon after leaving the village I bid my valiant protector
return. The man seems totally unable to comprehend why I should order
him to leave me, and makes an elaborate display of his pantomimic abilities
to impress upon me the information that the country ahead is full of
very bad Koords, who will kill and rob me if I venture among them
unprotected by a soldier. The expressive action of drawing the finger
across the throat appears to be the favorite method of signifying personal
danger among all these people; but I already understand that the Persians
live in deadly fear of the nomad Koords. Consequently his warnings,
although evidently sincere, fall on biased ears, and I peremptorily order
him to depart. The Tabreez trail is now easily followed without a guide,
and with a sense of perfect freedom and unrestraint, that is destroyed
by having a horseman cantering alongside one, I push ahead, finding the
roads variable, and passing through several villages during the day. The
chief concern of the ryots is to detain me until they can bring the
resident Khan to see me ride, evidently from a servile desire to cater
to his pleasure. They gather around me and prevent my departure until
he arrives. An appeal to the revolver will invariably secure my release,
but one naturally gets ashamed of threatening people's lives even under
the exasperating circumstances of a forcible detention. Once to-day I
managed to outwit them beautifully. Pretending acquiescence in their
proposition of waiting till the arrival of their Khan, I propose mounting
and riding a few yards for their own edification while waiting; in their
eagerness to see they readily fall into the trap, and the next minute
sees me flying down the road with a swarm of bare-legged ryots in full
chase after me, yelling for me to stop. Fortunately, they have no horses
handy, but some of these lanky fellows can run like deer almost, and
nothing but an excellent piece of road enables me to outdistance my
pursuers. Wily as the Persians are, compared to the Osmanlis, one could
play this game on them quite frequently, owing to their eagerness to see
the bicycle ridden; but it is seldom that the road is sufficiently smooth
to justify the attempt. I was gratified to learn from the Persian consul
at Erzeroum that my stock of Turkish would answer me as far as Teheran,
the people west of the capital speaking a dialect known as Tabreez
Turkish; still, I find quite a difference. Almost every Persian points
to the bicycle and says: "Boo; ndmi ndder. " ("This; what is it?") and
it is several days ere I have an opportunity of finding out exactly what
they mean. They are also exceedingly prolific in using the endearing
term of kardash when accosting me. The distance is now reckoned by
farsakhs (roughly, four miles) instead of hours; but, although the farsakh
is a more tangible and comprehensive measurement than the Turkish hour,
in reality it is almost as unreliable to go by. Towards evening I ascend
into a more mountainous region, inhabited exclusively by nomad Koords;
from points of vantage their tents are observable clustered here and
there at the bases of the mountains. Descending into a grassy valley or
depression, I find myself in close proximity to several different camps,
and eagerly avail myself of the opportunity to pass a night among them.
I am now in the heart of Northern Koordistan, which embraces both Persian
and Turkish territory, and the occasion is most opportune for seeing
something of these wild nomads in their own mountain pastures. The
greensward is ridable, and I dismount before the Sheikh's tent in the
presence of a highly interested and interesting audience. The half-wild
dogs make themselves equally interesting in another and a less desirable
sense as I approach, but the men pelt them with stones, and when I
dismount they conduct me and the bicycle at once into the tent of their
chieftain. The Sheikh's tent is capacious enough to shelter a regiment
almost, and it is divided into compartments similar to a previous
description; the Sheikh is a big, burly fellow, of about forty-five,
wearing a turban the size of a half-bushel measure, and dressed pretty
much like a well-to-do Turk; as a matter of fact, the Koords admire the
Osmanlis and despise the Persians. The bicycle is reclined against a
carpet partition, and after the customary interchange of questions, a
splendid fellow, who must be six feet six inches tall, and broad-shouldered
in proportion, squats himself cross-legged beside me, and proceeds to
make himself agreeable, rolling me cigarettes, asking questions, and
curiously investigating anything about me that strikes him as peculiar.
I show them, among other things, a cabinet photograph of myself in all
the glory of needle-pointed mustache and dress-parade apparel; after a
critical examination and a brief conference among themselves they pronounce
me an "English Pasha." I then hand the Sheikh a set of sketches, but
they are not sufficiently civilized to appreciate the sketches; they
hold them upside down and sidewise; and not being able to make anything
out of them, the Sheikh holds them in his hand and looks quite embarrassed,
like a person in possession of something he doesn't know what to do with.
Noticing that the women are regarding these proceedings with much interest
from behind a low partition, and not having yet become reconciled to the
Mohammedan idea of women being habitually ignored and overlooked, I
venture upon taking the photograph to them; they seem much confused at
finding themselves the object of direct attention, and they appear several
degrees wilder than the men, so far as comprehending such a product of
civilization as a photograph is an indication. It requires more material
objects than sketches and photos to meet the appreciation of these semi-
civilized children of the desert. They bring me their guns and spears
to look at and pronounce upon, and then my stalwart entertainer grows
inquisitive about my revolver. First extracting the cartridges to prevent
accident, I hand it to him, and he takes it for the Sheikh's inspection.
The Sheikh examines the handsome little Smith & Wesson long and wistfully,
and then toys with it several minutes, apparently reluctant about having
to return it; finally he asks me to give him a cartridge and let him go
out and test its accuracy. I am getting a trifle uneasy at his evident
covetousness of the revolver, and in this request I see my opportunity
of giving him to understand that it would be a useless weapon for him
to possess, by telling him I have but a few cartridges and that others
are not procurable in Koordistan or neighboring countries. Recognizing
immediately its uselessness to him under such circumstances, he then
returns it without remark; whether he would have confiscated it without
this timely explanation, it is difficult to say.

Shortly after the evening meal, an incident occurs which causes considerable
amusement. Everything being unusually quiet, one sharp-eared youth happens
to hear the obtrusive ticking of my Waterbury, and strikes a listening
attitude, at which everybody else likewise begins listening; the tick,
tick is plainly discernible to everybody in the compartment and they
become highly interested and amused, and commence looking at me for an
explanation. With a view to humoring the spirit of amusement thus awakened,
I likewise smile, but affect ignorance and innocence concerning the
origin of the mysterious ticking, and strike a listening attitude as
well as the others. Presuming upon our interchange of familiarity, our
six-foot-sixer then commences searching about my clothing for the watch,
but being hidden away in a pantaloon fob, and minus a chain, it proves
beyond his power of discovery. Nevertheless, by bending his head down
and listening, he ascertains and announces it to be somewhere about my
person; the Waterbury is then produced, and the loudness of its ticking
awakes the wonder and admiration of the Koords, even to a greater extent
than the Turks. During the evening, the inevitable question of Euss,
Osmanli, and English crops up, and I win unanimous murmurs of approval
by laying my forefingers together and stating that the English and the
Osmanlis are kardash. I show them my Turkish teskeri, upon which several
of them bestow fervent kisses, and when, by means of placing several
stones here and there I explained to them how in 1877, the hated Muscov
occupied different Mussulman cities one after the other, and was prevented
by the English from occupying their dearly beloved Stamboul itself, their
admiration knows no bounds. Along the trail, not over a mile from camp,
a large Persian caravan has been halting during the day; late in the
evening loud shouting and firing of guns announces them as prepared to
start on their night's journey. It is customary when going through this
part of Koordistan for the caravan men to fire guns and make as much
noise as possible, in order to impress the Koords with exaggerated
ideas concerning their strength and number; everybody in the Sheikh's
tent thoroughly understands the meaning of the noisy demonstration, and
the men exchange significant smiles. The firing and the shouting produce
a truly magical effect upon a blood-thirsty youngster of ten or twelve
summers; he becomes wildly hilarious, gamboling about the tent, and
rolling over and kicking up his heels. He then goes to the Sheikh, points
to me, and draws his finger across his throat, intimating that he would
like the privilege of cutting somebody's throat, and why not let him cut
mine. The Sheikh and others laugh at this, but instead of chiding him
for his tragical demonstration, they favor him with the same admiring
glances that grown people bestow upon precocious youngsters the world
over. Under these circumstances of abject fear on the one hand, and
inbred propensity for violence and plunder on the other, it is really
surprising to find the Koords in Persian territory behaving themselves
as well as they do. Quilts are provided for me, and I occupy this same
compartment of the tent, in common with several of the younger men. In
the morning, before departing, I am regaled with bread and rich, new
cream, and when leaving the tent I pause a minute to watch the busy scene
in the female department. Some are churning butter in sheep-skin churns
which are suspended from poles and jerked back and forth; others are
weaving carpets, preparing curds for cheese, baking bread, and otherwise
industriously employed. I depart from the Koordish camp thoroughly
satisfied with my experience of their hospitality, but the cerulean
waist-scarf bestowed upon me by our Hungarian friend Igali, at Belgrade,
no longer adds its embellishments to my personal adornments. Whenever a
favorable opportunity presents, certain young men belonging to the noble
army of hangers-on about the Sheikh's apartments invariably glide inside,
and importune the guest from Frangistan for any article of his clothing
that excites the admiration of their semi-civilized minds. This scarf,
they were doubtless penetrating enough to observe, formed no necessary
part of my wardrobe, and a dozen times in the evening, and again in the
morning, I was worried to part with it, so I finally presented it to one
of them. He hastily hid it away among his clothes and disappeared, as
though fearful, either that the Sheikh might see it and make him return
it, or that one of the chieftain's favorites might take a fancy to it
and summarily appropriate it to his own use.

Not more than five miles eastward from the camp, while trundling over a
stretch of stony ground, I am accosted by a couple of Koordiah shepherds;
but as the country immediately around is wild and unfrequented, save by
Koords, and knowing something of their little weaknesses toward travellers
under tempting, one-sided conditions, I deem it advisable to pay as
little heed to them as possible. Seeing that I have no intention of
halting, they come running up, and undertake to forcibly detain me by
seizing hold of the bicycle, at the same time making no pretence of
concealing their eager curiosity concerning the probable contents of my
luggage. Naturally disapproving of this arbitrary conduct, I push them
roughly away. With a growl more like the voice of a wild animal than of
human beings, one draws his sword and the other picks up a thick knobbed
stick that he had dropped in order to the better pinch and sound my
packages. Without giving them time to reveal whether they seriously
intend attacking me, or only to try intimidation, I have them nicely
covered with the Smith & Wesson. They seem to comprehend in a moment
that I have them at a disadvantage, and they hurriedly retreat a short
distance, executing a series of gyral antics, as though expecting me to
fire at their legs. They are accompanied by two dogs, tawny-coated
monsters, larger than the largest mastiffs, who now proceed to make
things lively and interesting around myself and the bicycle. Keeping the
revolver in my hand, and threatening to shoot their dogs if they don't
call them away, I continue my progress toward where the stony ground
terminates in favor of smooth camel-paths, about' a hundred yards farther
on. At this juncture I notice several other "gentle shepherds " coming
racing down from the adjacent knolls; but whether to assist their comrades
in catching and robbing me, or to prevent a conflict between us, will
always remain an uncertainty. I am afraid, however, that with the advantage
on their side, the Koordish herdsmen rarely trouble themselves about any
such uncongenial task as peace-making. Reaching the smooth ground before
any of the new-comers overtake me, I mount and speed away, followed by
wild yells from a dozen Koordish throats, and chased by a dozen of their
dogs. Upon sober second thought, when well away from the vicinity, I
conclude this to have been a rather ticklish incident; had they attacked
me in the absence of anything else to defend myself with, I should have
been compelled to shoot them; the nearest Persian village is about ten
miles distant; the absence of anything like continuously ridable road
would have made it impossible to out-distance their horsemen, and a
Persian village would have afforded small security against a party of
enraged Koords, after all. The first village I arrive at to-day, I again
attempt the "skedaddling" dodge on them that proved so successful on
one occasion yesterday; but I am foiled by a rocky "jump-off" in the
road to-day. The road is not so favorable for spurting as yesterday,
and the racing ryots grab me amid much boisterous merriment ere * I
overcome the obstruction; they take particular care not to give me another
chance until the arrival of the Khan. The country hereabouts consists
of gravelly, undulating plateaus between the mountains, and well-worn
camel-paths afford some excellent wheeling. Near mid-day, while laboriously
ascending a long but not altogether unridable ascent, I meet a couple
of mounted soldiers; they obstruct my road, and proceed to deliver
themselves of voluble Tabreez Turkish, by which I understand that they
are the advance guard of a party in which there is a Ferenghi (the Persian
term for an Occidental). While talking with them I am somewhat taken by
surprise at seeing a lady on horseback and two children in a kajaveh
(mule panier) appear over the slope, accompanied by about a dozen Persians.

If I am surprised, the lady herself not unnaturally evinces even greater
astonishment at the apparition of a lone wheelman here on the caravan
roads of Persia; of course we are mutually delighted. With the assistance
of her servant, the lady alights from the saddle and introduces herself
as Mrs. E--, the wife of one of the Persian missionaries; her husband
has lately returned home, and she is on the way to join him. The Persians
accompanying her comprise her own servants, some soldiers procured of
the Governor of Tabreez by the English consul to escort her as far as
the Turkish frontier, and a couple of unattached travellers keeping with
the party for company and society. A mule driver has charge of pack-mules
carrying boxes containing, among other things, her husband's library.
During the course of ten minutes' conversation the lady informs me that
she is compelled to travel in this manner the whole distance to Trebizond,
owing to the practical impossibility of passing through Bussian territory
with the library. Were it not for this a comparatively short and easy
journey would take them to Tiflis, from which point there would be steam
communication with Europe. Ere the poor lady gets to Trebizond she will
be likely to reflect that a government so civilized as the Czar's might
relax its gloomy laws sufficiently to allow the affixing of official
seals to a box of books, and permit its transportation through the
country, on condition-if they will-that it should not be opened in
transit; surely there would be no danger of the people's minds being
enlightened -not even a little bit-by coming in contact with a library
tightly boxed and sealed. At the frontier an escort of Turkish zaptiehs
will take the place of the Persian soldiers, and at Erzeroum the
missionaries will, of course, render her every assistance to Trebizond;
but it is not without feelings of anxiety for the health of a lady
travelling in this rough manner unaccompanied by her natural protector,
that I reflect on the discomforts she must necessarily put up with
between here and Erzeroum. She seems in good spirits, however, and says
that meeting me here in this extraordinary manner is the "most romantic"
incident in her whole experiences of missionary life in Persia. Like
many another, she says, she can I scarcely conceive it possible that I
am travelling without attendants and without being able to speak the
languages. One of the unattached travellers gives me a note of
introduction to Mohammed. Ali Khan, the Governor of Peri, a suburban
village of Khoi, which I expect to reach some time this afternoon.

CHAPTER XIX.

PERSIA AND THE TABREEZ CARAVAN TRAIL.

A SHORT trundle to the summit of a sloping pass, and then a winding
descent of several miles brings me to a position commanding a view of
an extensive valley that looks from this distance as lovely as a dreamy
vision of Paradise. An hour later and I am bowling along beneath overhanging
peach and mulberry trees, following a volunteer horseman to Mohammed Ali
Khan's garden. Before reaching the garden a gang of bare-legged laborers
engaged in patching up a mud wall favor me with a fusillade of stones,
one of which caresses me on the ankle, and makes me limp like a Greenwich
pensioner when I dismount a minute or two afterward. This is their
peculiar way of complimenting a lone Ferenghi. Mohammed Ali Khan is found
to be rather a moon-faced individual under thirty, who, together with
his subordinate officials, are occupying tents in a large garden. Here,
during the summer, they dispense justice to applicants for the same
within their jurisdiction, and transact such other official business as
is brought before them. In Persi, the distribution of justice consists
chiefly in the officials ruthlessly looting the applicants of everything
lootable, and the weightiest task of the officials is intriguing together
against the pocket of the luckless wight who ventures upon seeking equity
at their hands. A sorrowful-visaged husbandman is evidently experiencing
the easy simplicity of Persian civil justice as I enter the garden; he
wears the mournful expression of a man conscious of being irretrievably
doomed, while the festive Kahn and his equally festive moonshi bashi
(chief secretary) are laying their wicked heads together and whispering
mysteriously, fifty paces away from everybody, ever and anon looking
suspiciously around as though fearful of the presence of eavesdroppers.
After duly binning, a young man called Abdullah, who seems to be at the
beck and call of everybody, brings forth the samovar, and we drink the
customary tea of good fellowship, after which they examine such of my
modest effects as take their fancy. The moonshi bashi, as becomes a man
of education, is quite infatuated with my pocket map of Persia; the fact
that Persia occupies so great a space on the map in comparison with the
small portions of adjoining countries visible around the edges makes a
powerful appeal to his national vanity, and he regards me with increased
affection every time I trace out for him the comprehensive boundary line
of his native Iran. After nightfall we repair to the principal tent, and
Mohammed Ali Khan and his secretary consume the evening hours in the
joyous occupation of alternately smoking the kalian (Persian water-pipe,
not unlike the Turkish nargileh, except that it has a straight stem
instead of a coiled tube), and swallowing glasses of raw arrack every
few minutes; they furthermore amuse themselves by trying to induce me
to follow their noble example, and in poking fun at another young man
because his conscientious scruples regarding the Mohammedan injunction
against intoxicants forbids him indulging with them. About eight o'clock
the Khan becomes a trifle sentimental and very patriotic. Producing a
pair of silver-mounted horse-pistols from a corner of the tent, and
waving them theatrically about, he proclaims aloud his mighty devotion
to the Shah. At nine o'clock Abdullah brings in the supper. The Khan's
vertebra has become too limp and willowy to enable him to sit upright,
and he has become too indifferent to such coarse, un-spiritual things
as stewed chicken and musk-melons to care about eating any, while the
moonshi bashi's affection for me on account of the map has become so
overwhelming that he deliberately empties all the chicken on to my sheet
of bread, leaving none whatever for himself and the phenomenal young
person with the conscientious scruples.

When bedtime arrives it requires the united exertions of Abdullah and
the phenomenal young man to partially undress Mohammed Ali Khan and drag
him to his couch on the floor, the Kahn being limp as a dish-rag and a
moderately bulky person. The moonshi bashi, as becomes an individual of
lesser rank and superior mental attainments, is not quite so helpless
as his official superior, but on retiring he humorously reposes his feet
on the pillow and his head on nothing but the bare floor of the tent,
and stubbornly refuses to permit Abdullah to alter either his pillow or
his position. The phenomenal young man and myself likewise seek our
respective pile of quilts, Abdullah removes the lamp, draws a curtain
over the entrance of the tent, and retires.

The Persians, as representing the Shiite division of the Mohammedan
religion, consider themselves by long odds the holiest people on the
earth, far holier than the Turks, whom they religiously despise as
Sunnites and unworthy to loose the latchets of their shoes. The Koran
strictly enjoins upon them great moderation in the use of intoxicating
drinks, yet certain of the Persian nobility are given to drinking this
raw intoxicant by the quart daily. When asked why they don't use it in
moderation, they reply, " What is the good of drinking arrack unless one
drinks enough to become drunk and happy. " Following this brilliant idea,
many of them get " drank and happy " regularly every evening. They
likewise frequently consume as much as a pint before each meal to create
a false appetite and make themselves feel boozy while eating. In the
morning the moonshi bashi, with a soldier for escort, accompanies me on
horseback to Khoi, which is but about seven miles distant over a perfectly
level road. Sad to say, the moonshi bashi, besides his yearning affection
for fiery, untamed arrack, is a confirmed opium smoker, and after last
night's debauch for supper and "hitting the pipe " this morning for
breakfast, he doesn't feel very dashing in the saddle; consequently I
have to accommodate myself to his pace. It is the slowest seven miles
ever ridden on the road by a wheelman, I think; a funeral procession is
a lively, rattling affair, beside our onward progress toward the mud
battlements of Khoi, but there is no help for it. Whenever I venture to
the fore a little the dreamy-eyed moonshi bashi regards me with a gaze
of mild reproachfulness, and sings out in a gently-chide-the-erring tone
of voice: "Kardash. Kardash." meaning " f we are brothers, why do you
seem to want to leave me." Human nature could scarcely be proof against
an appeal wherein endearment and reproach are so beautifully and
harmoniously blended, and it always brings me back to a level with his
horse. Reaching the suburbs of Khoi, I am initiated into a new departure - new
to myself at this time - of Persian sanctimoniousness. Halting at a fountain
to obtain a drink, the soldier shapes himself for pouring the water out
of the earthenware drinking vessel into my hands; supposing this to be
merely an indication of the Persian's own method of drinking, I motion
my preference for drinking out of the jar itself. The soldier looks
appealingly toward the moonshi bashi, who tells him to let me drink, and
then orders him to smash the jar. It then dawns upon my unenlightened
mind, that being a Ferenghi, I should have known better than to have
touched my unhallowed lips to a drinking vessel at a public fountain,
defiling it by so doing, so that it must be smashed in order that the
sons of the "true prophet" may not unwittingly drink from it afterward
and themselves become defiled. The moonshi bashi pilots me to the residence
of a certain wealthy citizen outside the city walls; this person, a mild-
mannered, purring-voiced man, is seated in a room with a couple of
seyuds, or descendants of the prophet; they are helping themselves from
a large platter of the finest, pears, peaches, and egg plums I ever saw
anywhere. The room is carpeted with costly rugs and carpets in which
one's feet sink perceptibly at every step; the walls and ceiling are
artistically stuccoed, and the doors and windows are gay with stained
glass. Abandoning myself to the guidance of the moonshi bashi, I ride
around the garden-walks, show them the bicycle, revolver, map of Persia,
etc.; like the moonshi bashi, they become deeply interested in the map,
finding much amusement and satisfaction in having me point out the
location of different Persian cities, seemingly regarding my ability to
do so as evidence of exceeding cleverness and erudition. The untravelled
Persians of the northern provinces regard Teheran as the grand idea of
a large and important city; if there is any place in the whole world
larger and more important, they think it may perhaps be Stamboul. The
fact that Stamboul is not on my map while Teheran is, they regard as
conclusive proof of the superiority of their own capital. The moonshi
bashi's chief purpose in accompanying me hither has been to introduce
me to the attention of the "hoikim"; although the pronunciation is a
little different from hakim, I attribute this to local brogue, and have
been surmising this personage to be some doctor, who, perhaps, having
graduated at a Frangistan medical college, the moonshi bashi thinks will
be able to converse with me. After partaking of fruit and tea we continue
on our way to the nearest gate-way of the city proper, Khoi being
surrounded by a ditch and battlemented mud wall. Arriving at a large,
public inclosure, my guide sends in a letter, and shortly afterward
delivers me over to some soldiers, who forthwith conduct me into the
presence of - not a doctor, but Ali Khan, the Governor of the city, an
officer who hereabouts rejoices in the title of the "hoikim." The
Governor proves to be a man of superior intelligence; he has been Persian
ambassador to France some time ago, and understands French fairly well;
consequently we manage to understand each other after a fashion. Although
he has never before seen a bicycle, his knowledge of the mechanical
ingenuity of the Ferenghis causes him to regard it with more intelligence
than an un-travelled native, and to better comprehend my journey and its
object. Assisted by a dozen mollahs (priests) and officials in flowing
gowns and henna-tinted beards and finger-nails, the Governor is transacting
official business, and he invites me to come into the council chamber
and be seated. In a few minutes the noon-tide meal is announced; the
Governor invites me to dine with them, and then leads the way into the
dining-room, followed by his counsellors, who form in line behind him
according to their rank. The dining-room is a large, airy apartment,
opening into an extensive garden; a bountiful repast is spread on yellow-
checkered tablecloths on the carpeted floor; the Governor squats cross-
legged at one end, the stately-looking wiseacres in flowing gowns range
themselves along each side in a similar attitude, with much solemnity
and show of dignity; they - at least so I fancy - evidently are anything but
rejoiced at the prospect of eating with an infidel Ferenghi. The Governor,
being a far more enlightened and consequently less bigoted personage,
looks about him a trifle embarrassed, as if searching for some place
where he can seat me in a position of becoming honor without offending
the prejudices of his sanctimonious counsellors. Noticing this, I at
once come to his relief by taking the position farthest from him,
attempting to imitate them in their cross-legged attitude. My unhappy
attempt to sit in this uncomfortable attitude - uncomfortable at least to
anybody unaccustomed to it - provokes a smile from His Excellency, and he
straightway orders an attendant to fetch in a chair and a small table;
the counsellors look on in silence, but they are evidently too deeply
impressed with their own dignity and holiness to commit themselves to
any such display of levity as a smile. A portion of each dish is placed
upon my table, together with a travellers' combination knife, fork and
spoon, a relic, doubtless, of the Governor's Parisian experience. His
Excellency having waited and kept the counsellors waiting until these
preparations are finished, motions for me to commence eating, and then
begins himself. The repast consists of boiled mutton, rice pillau with
curry, mutton chops, hard-boiled eggs with lettuce, a pastry of sweetened
rice-flour, musk-melons, water-melons, several kinds of fruit, and for
beverage glasses of iced sherbet; of all the company I alone use knife,
fork, and plates. Before each Persian is laid a broad sheet of bread;
bending their heads over this they scoop up small handfuls of pillau,
and toss it dextrously into their mouths; scattering particles missing
the expectantly opened receptacle fall back on to the bread; this handy
sheet of bread is used as a plate for placing a chop or anything else
on, as a table-napkin for wiping finger-tips between courses, and now
and then a piece is pulled off and eaten. When the meal is finished, an
attendant waits on each guest with a brazen bowl, an ewer of water and
a towel. After the meal is over the Governor is no longer handicapped
by the religious prejudices of the mollahs, and leaving them he invites
me into the garden to see his two little boys go through their gymnastic
exercises. They are clever little fellows of about seven and nine,
respectively, with large black eyes and clear olive complexions; all
the time we are watching them the Governor's face is wreathed in a fond,
parental smile. The exercises consist chiefly in climbing a thick rope
dangling from a cross-beam. After seeing me ride the bicycle the Governor
wants me to try my hand at gymnastics, but being nothing of a gymnast I
respectfully beg to be excused. While thus enjoying a pleasant hour in
the garden, a series of resounding thwacks are heard somewhere near by,
and looking around some intervening shrubs I observe a couple of far-rashes
bastinadoing a culprit; seeing me more interested in this novel method
of administering justice than in looking at the youngsters trying to
climb ropes, the Governor leads the way thither. The man, evidently a
ryot, is lying on his back, his feet are lashed together and held soles
uppermost by means of an horizontal pole, while the farrashes briskly
belabor them with willow sticks. The soles of the ryot's feet are hard
and thick as rhinoceros hide almost from habitually walking barefooted,
and under these conditions his punishment is evidently anything but
severe. The flagellation goes merrily and uninterruptedly forward until
fifty sticks about five feet long and thicker than a person's thumb are
broken over his feet without eliciting any signals of distress from the
horny-hoofed ryot, except an occasional sorrowful groan of "A-l-l-ah."
He is then loosed and limps painfully away, but it looks like a rather
hypocritical limp, after all; fifty sticks, by the by, is a comparatively
light punishment, several hundred sometimes being broken at a single
punishment. Upon taking my leave the Governor kindly details a couple
of soldiers to show me to the best caravanserai, and to remain and protect
me from the worry and annoyance of the crowds until my departure from
the city. Arriving at the caravanserai, my valiant protectors undertake
to keep the following crowd from entering the courtyard; the crowd refuses
to see the justice of this arbitrary proceeding, and a regular pitched
battle ensues in the gateway. The caravanserai-jees reinforce the soldiers,
and by laying on vigorously with thick sticks, they finally put the
rabble to flight. They then close the caravanserai gates until the
excitement has subsided. Khoi is a city of perhaps fifty thousand
inhabitants, and among them all there is no one able to speak a word of
English. Contemplating the surging mass of woolly-hatted Persians from
the bala-khana (balcony; our word is taken from the Persian), of the
caravanserai, and hearing nothing but unintelligible language, I detect
myself unconsciously recalling the lines: " Oh it was pitiful; in a whole
city full--." It is the first large city I have visited without finding
somebody capable of speaking at least a few words of my own language.
Locking the bicycle up, I repair to the bazaar, my watchful and zealous
attendants making the dust fly from the shoulders of such unlucky wights
whose eager inquisitiveness to obtain a good close look brings them
within the reach of their handy staves. We are followed by immense crowds,
a Ferenghi being a rara avis in Khoi, and the fame of the wonderful asp-
i (horse of iron) has spread like wild-fire through the city. In the
bazaar I obtain Russian silver money, which is the chief currency of the
country as far east as Zendjan. Partly to escape from the worrying crowds,
and partly to ascertain the way out next morning, as I intend making an
early start, I get the soldiers to take me outside the city wall and
show me the Tabreez road.

A new caravanserai is in process of construction just outside the Tabreez
gate, and I become an interested spectator of the Persian mode of building
the walls of a house; these of the new caravanserai are nearly four feet
thick. Parallel walls of mud bricks are built up, leaving an interspace
of two feet or thereabouts; this is filled with stiff, well-worked mud,
which is dumped in by bucketsful and continually tramped by barefooted
laborers; harder bricks are used for the doorways and windows. The
bricklayer uses mud for mortar and his hands for a trowel; he works
without either level or plumb-line, and keeps up a doleful, melancholy
chant from morning to night. The mortar is handed to him by an assistant
by handsful; every workman is smeared and spattered with mud from head
to foot, as though glorying in covering themselves with the trade-mark
of their calling.

Strolling away from the busy builders we encounter a man the "water
boy of the gang"- bringing a three-gallon pitcher of water from a
spring half a mile away. Being thirsty, the soldiers shout for him to
bring the pitcher. Scarcely conceiving it possible that these humble
mud-daubers would be so wretchedly sanctimonious, I drink from the jar,
much to the disgust of the poor water-carrier, who forthwith empties
the remainder away and returns with hurried trot to the spring for a
fresh supply; he would doubtless have smashed the vessel had it been
smaller and of lesser value. Naturally I feel a trifle conscience-stricken
at having caused him so much trouble, for he is rather an elderly man,
but the soldiers display no sympathy for him whatever, apparently regarding
an humble water-carrier as a person of small consequence anyhow, and
they laugh heartily at seeing him trotting briskly back half a mile for
another load. Had he taken the first water after a Ferenghi had drank
from it and allowed his fellow-workmen to unwittingly partake of the
same, it would probably have fared badly with the old fellow had they
found it out afterward.

Returning cityward we meet our friend, the moonshi bashi, looking me up;
he is accompanied by a dozen better-class Persians, scattering friends
and acquaintances of his, whom he hag collected during the day chiefly
to show them my map of Persia; the mechanical beauty of the bicycle and
the apparent victory over the laws of equilibrium in riding it being,
in the opinion of the scholarly moonshi bashi, quite overshadowed by a
map which shows Teheran and Khoi, and doesn't show Stamboul, and which
shows the whole broad expanse of Persia, and only small portions of other
countries. This latter fact seems to have made a very deep impression
upon the moonshi banhi's mind; it appears to have filled him with the
unalterable conviction that all other countries are insignificant compared
with Persia; in his own mind this patriotic person has always believed
this to be the case, but he is overjoyed at finding his belief verified -
as he fondly imagines - by the map of a Ferenghi. Returning to the
caravanserai, we find the courtyard crowded with people, attracted by
the fame of the bicycle. The moonshi bashi straightway ascends to the
bala-khana, tenderly unfolds my map, and displays it for the inspection
of the gaping multitude below; while five hundred pairs of eyes gaze
wonderingly upon it, without having the slightest conception of what
they are looking at, he proudly traces with his finger the outlines of
Persia. It is one of the most amusing scenes imaginable; the moonshi
bashi and myself, surrounded by his little company of friends, occupying
the bala-khana, proudly displaying to a mixed crowd of fully five hundred
people a shilling map as a thing to be wondered at and admired.

After the departure of the moonshi bashi and his friends, by invitation
I pay a visit of curiosity to a company of dervishes (they themselves
pronounce it "darwish") occupying one of the caravanserai rooms. There
are eight of them lolling about in one small room; their appearance is
disgusting and yet interesting; they are all but naked in deference to
the hot weather and to obtain a little relief from the lively tenants
of their clothing. Prominent among their effects are panther or leopard
skins which they use as cloaks, small steel battle-axes, and huge spiked
clubs. Their whole appearance is most striking and extraordinary; their
long black hair is dangling about their naked shoulders; they have the
wild, haggard countenances of men whose lives are being spent in debauchery
and excesses; nevertheless, most of them have a decidedly intellectual
expression. The Persian dervishes are a strange and interesting people;
they spend their whole lives in wandering from one end of the country
to another, subsisting entirely by mendicancy; yet their cry, instead
of a beggar's supplication for charity, is "huk, huk" (my right, my
right); they affect the most wildly, picturesque and eccentric costumes,
often wearing nothing whatever but white cotton drawers and a leopard
or panther skin thrown, carelessly about their shoulders, besides which
they carry a huge spiked club or steel battle-axe and an alms-receiver;
this latter is usually made of an oval gourd, polished and suspended
on small brass chains. Sometimes they wear an embroidered conical cap
decorated with verses from the Koran, but often they wear no head-gear
save the covering provided by nature. The better-class Persians have
little respect for these wandering fakirs; but their wild, eccentric
appearance makes a deep impression upon the simple-hearted villagers,
and the dervishes, whose wits are sharpened by constant knocking about,
live mostly by imposing on their good nature and credulity. A couple of
these worthies, arriving at a small village, affect their wildest and
most grotesque appearance and proceed to walk with stately, majestic
tread through the streets, gracefully brandishing their clubs or battle-
axes, gazing fixedly at vacancy and reciting aloud from the Koran with
a peculiar and impressive intonation; they then walk about the village
holding out their alms-receiver and shouting "huk yah huk! huk yah huk "
Half afraid of incurring their displeasure, few of the villagers
refuse to contribute a copper or portable cooked provisions. Most dervishes
are addicted to the intemperate use of opium, bhang (a preparation of
Indian hemp), arrack, and other baleful intoxicants, generally indulging
to excess whenever they have collected sufficient money; they are likewise
credited with all manner of debauchery; it is this that accounts for
their pale, haggard appearance. The following quotation from "In the
Land of the Lion and Sun," and which is translated from the Persian, is
eloquently descriptive of the general appearance of the dervish: The
dervish had the dullard air, The maddened look, the vacant stare, That
bhang and contemplation give. He moved, but did not seem to live; His
gaze was savage, and yet sad; What we should call stark, staring mad.
All down his back, his tangled hair Flowed wild, unkempt; his head was
bare; A leopard's skin was o'er him flung; Around his neck huge beads
were hung, And in his hand-ah! there's the rub- He carried a portentous
club. After visiting the dervishes I spend an hour in an adjacent tchai-
khan drinking tea with my escort and treating them to sundry well-deserved
kalians. Among the rabble collected about the doorway is a half-witted
youngster of about ten or twelve summers with a suit of clothes consisting
of a waist string and a piece of rag about the size of an ordinary pen-
wiper. He is the unfortunate possessor of a stomach disproportionately
large and which intrudes itself upon other people's notice like a prize
pumpkin at an agricultural fair. This youth's chief occupation appears
to be feeding melon-rinds to a pet sheep belonging to the tchai-khan and
playing a resonant tattoo on his abnormally obtrusive paunch with the
palms of his hands. This produces a hollow, echoing sound like striking
an inflated bladder with a stuffed club; and considering that the youth
also introduces a novel and peculiar squint into the performance, it is
a remarkably edifying spectacle. Supper-time coming round, the soldiers
show the way to an eating place, where we sup off delicious bazaar-kabobs,
one of the most tasteful preparations of mutton one could well imagine.
The mutton is minced to the consistency of paste and properly seasoned;
it is then spread over flat iron skewers and grilled over a glowing
charcoal fire; when nicely browned they are laid on a broad pliable sheet
of bread in lieu of a plate, and the skewers withdrawn, leaving before
the customer a dozen long flat fingers of nicely browned kabobs reposing
side by side on the cake of wheaten bread-a most appetizing and digestible
dish. Returning to the caravanserai, I dismiss my faithful soldiers with
a suitable present, for which they loudly implore the blessings of Allah
on my head, and for the third or fourth time impress upon the caravanseraijes
the necessity of making my comfort for the night his special consideration.
They fill that humble individual's mind with grandiloquent ideas of my
personal importance by dwelling impressively on the circumstance of my
having eaten with the Governor, a fact they likewise have lost no
opportunity of heralding throughout the bazaar during the afternoon. The
caravanserai-jee spreads quilts and a pillow for me on the open bala-khana,
and I at once prepare for sleep. A gentle-eyed and youthful seyud wearing
an enormous white turban and a flowing gown glides up to my couch and
begins plying me with questions. The soldiers noticing this as they are
about leaving the court-yard favor him with a torrent of imprecations
for venturing to disturb my repose; a score of others yell fiercely at
him in emulation of the soldiers, causing the dreamy-eyed youth to hastily
scuttle away again. Nothing is now to be heard all around but the evening
prayers of the caravanserai guests; listening to the multitudinous cries
of Allah-il-Allah around me, I fall asleep. About midnight I happen to
wake again; everything is quiet, the stars are shining brightly down
into the court-yard, and a small grease lamp is flickering on the floor
near my head, placed there by the caravan-serai-jee after I had fallen
asleep. The past day has been one full of interesting experiences; from
the time of leaving the garden of Mohammed Ali Khan this morning in
company with the moonshi bashi, until lulled to sleep three hours ago
by the deep-voiced prayers of fanatical Mohammedans the day has proved
a series of surprises, and I seem more than ever before to have been the
sport and plaything of fortune; however, if the fickle goddess never
used anybody worse than she has used me to-day there would be little
cause for complaining.

As though to belie their general reputation of sanctimoniousness, a tall,
stately seyud voluntarily poses as my guide and protector en route through
the awakening bazaar toward the Tabreez gate next morning, cuffing
obtrusive youngsters right and left, and chiding grown-up people whenever
their inordinate curiosity appeals to him as being aggressive and impolite;
one can only account for this strange condescension on the part of this
holy man by attributing it to the marvellous civilizing and levelling
influence of the bicycle. Arriving outside the gate, the crowd of followers
are well repaid for their trouble by watching my progress for a couple
of miles down a broad straight roadway admirably kept and shaded with
thrifty chenars or plane-trees. Wheeling down this pleasant avenue I
encounter mule-trains, the animals festooned with strings of merrily
jingling bells, and camels gayly caparisoned, with huge, nodding tassels
on their heads and pack-saddles, and deep-toned bells of sheet iron
swinging at their throats and sides; likewise the omnipresent donkey
heavily laden with all manner of village produce for the Khoi market.
My road after leaving the avenue winds around the end of projecting
hills, and for a dozen miles traverses a gravelly plain that ascends
with a scarcely perceptible gradient to the summit of a ridge; it then
descends by a precipitous trail into the valley of Lake Ooroomiah.
Following along the northern shore of the lake I find fairly level roads,
but nothing approaching continuous wheeling, owing to wash-outs and small
streams leading from a range of mountains near by to the left, between
which and the briny waters of the lake my route leads. Lake Ooroomiah
is somewhere near the size of Salt Lake, Utah, and its waters are so
heavily impregnated with saline matter that one can lie down on the
surface and indulge in a quiet, comfortable snooze; at least, this is
what I am told by a missionary at Tabreez who says he has tried it
himself; and even allowing for the fact that missionaries are but human
after all and this gentleman hails originally from somewhere out West,
there is no reason for supposing the statement at all exaggerated. Had
I heard of this beforehand I should certainly have gone far enough out
of my course to try the experiment of being literally rocked on the
cradle of the deep. Near midday I make a short circuit to the north, to
investigate the edible possibilities of a village nestling in a cul-de-sac
of the mountain foot-hills. The resident Khan turns out to be a regular
jovial blade, sadly partial to the flowing bowl. When I arrive he is
perseveringly working himself up to the proper pitch of booziness for
enjoying his noontide repast by means of copious potations of arrack;
he introduces himself as Hassan Khan, offers me arrack, and cordially
invites me to dine with him. After dinner, when examining my revolver,
map, etc., the Khan greatly admires a photograph of myself as a peculiar
proof of Ferenghi skill in producing a person's physiognomy, and blandly
asks me to "make him one of himself," doubtless thinking that a person
capable of riding on a wheel is likewise possessed of miraculous all
'round abilities.

The Khan consumes not less than a pint of raw arrack during the dinner
hour, and, not unnaturally, finds himself at the end a trifle funny and
venturesome. When preparing to take my departure he proposes that I give
him a ride on the bicycle; nothing loath to humor him a little in return
for his hospitality, I assist him to mount, and wheel him around for a
few minutes, to the unconcealed delight of the whole population, who
gather about to see the astonishing spectacle of their Khan riding on
the Ferenghi's wonderful asp-i-awhan. The Khan being short and pudgy is
unable to reach the pedals, and the confidence-inspiring fumes of arrack
lead him to announce to the assembled villagers that if his legs were
only a little longer he could certainly go it alone, a statement that
evidently fills the simple-minded ryots with admiration for the Khan's
alleged newly-discovered abilities.

The road continues level but somewhat loose and sandy; the scenery around
becomes strikingly beautiful, calling up thoughts of "Arabian Nights "
entertainments, and the genii and troubadours of Persian song. The bright,
blue waters of Lake Ooroomiah stretch away southward to where the dim
outlines of mountains, a hundred miles away, mark the southern shore;
rocky islets at a lesser distance, and consequently more pronounced in
character and contour, rear their jagged and picturesque forms sheer
from the azure surface of the liquid mirror, the face of which is unruffled
by a single ripple and unspecked by a single animate or inanimate object;
the beach is thickly incrusted with salt, white and glistening in the
sunshine; the shore land is mingled sand and clay of a deep-red color,
thus presenting the striking and beautiful phenomena of a lake shore
painted red, white, and blue by the inimitable hand of nature. A range
of rugged gray mountains run parallel with the shore but a few miles
away; crystal streams come bubbling lake-ward over pebble-bedded channels
from sources high up the mountain slopes; villages, hidden amid groves
of spreading jujubes and graceful chenars, nestle here and there in the
rocky gateways of ravines; orchards and vineyards are scattered about
the plain. They are imprisoned within gloomy mud walls, but, like living
creatures struggling for their liberty, the fruit-laden branches extend
beyond their prison-walls, and the graceful tendrils of the vines find
their way through the sun-cracks and fissures of decay, and trail over
the top as though trying to cover with nature's charitable veil the
unsightly works of man; and all is arched over with the cloudless Persian
sky.

Beaming the roads of this picturesque region in search of victims is a
most persistent and pugnacious species of fly; rollicking as the blue-
bottle, and the veritable double of the green-head horsefly of the Western
prairies, he combines the dash and impetuosity of the one with the
ferocity and persistency of the other; but he is happily possessed of
one redeeming feature not possessed by either of the above-mentioned and
well-known insects of the Western world. When either of these settles
himself affectionately on the end of a person's nose, and the person,
smarting under the indignity, hits himself viciously on that helpless
and unoffending portion of his person, as a general thing it doesn't
hurt the fly, simply because the fly doesn't wait long enough to be hurt;
but the Lake Ooroomiah fly is a comparatively guileless insect, and
quietly remains where he alights until it suits one's convenience to
forcibly remove him; for this redeeming quality I bespeak for him the
warmest encomiums of fly-harassed humans everywhere. Dusk is settling
down over the broad expanse of lake, plain, and mountain when I encounter
a number of villagers taking donkey-loads of fruit and almonds from an
orchard to their village. They cordially invite me to accompany them and
accept their hospitality for the night. They are travelling toward a
large area of walled orchards but a short distance to the north, and I
naturally expect to find their village located among them; so, not knowing
how far ahead the next village may be, I gladly accept their kindly
invitation, and follow along behind. It gets dusky, then duskier, then
dark; the stars come peeping out thicker and thicker, and still I am
trundling with these people slowly along up the dry and stone-strewn
channel of spring-time freshets, expecting every minute to reach their
village, only to be as often disappointed, for over an hour, during which
we travel out of my proper course perhaps four miles. Finally, after
crossing several little streams, or rather; one stream several times,
we arrive at our destination, and I am installed, as the guest of a
leading villager, beneath a sort of open porch attached to the house.
Here, as usual, I quickly become the centre of attraction for a wondering
and admiring audience of half-naked villagers. The villager whose guest
I become brings forth bread and cheese, some bring me grapes, others
newly gathered almonds, and then they squat around in the dim religious
light of primitive grease-lamps and watch me feed, with the same wondering
interest and the same unconcealed delight with which youthful Londoners
at the Zoological Gardens regard a pet monkey devouring their offerings
of nuts and ginger-snaps. I scarcely know what to make of these particular
villagers; they seem strangely childlike and unsophisticated, and moreover,
perfectly delighted at my unexpected presence in their midst. It is
doubtful whether their unimportant little village among the foothills
was ever before visited by a Ferenghi; consequently I am to them a rara
avis to be petted and admired. I am inclined to think them a village of
Yezeeds or devilworshippers; the Yezeeds believe that Allah, being by
nature kind and merciful, would not injure anybody under any circumstances,
consequently there is nothing to be gained by worshipping him. Sheitan
(Satan), on the contrary, has both the power and the inclination to do
people harm, therefore they think it politic to cultivate his good-will
and to pursue a policy of conciliation toward him by worshipping him and
revering his name. Thus they treat the name of Satan with even greater
reverence than Christians and Mohammedans treat the name of God. Independent
of their hospitable treatment of myself, these villagers seem but little
advanced in their personal habits above mere animals; the women are half-
naked, and seem possessed of little more sense of shame than our original
ancestors before the fall. There is great talk of kardash among them in
reference to myself. They are advocating hospitality of a nature altogether
too profound for the consideration of a modest and discriminating Ferenghi -
hospitable intentions that I deem it advisable to dissipate at once by
affecting deep, dense ignorance of what they are discussing.

In the morning they search the village over to find the wherewithal to
prepare me some tea before my departure. Eight miles from the village I
discover that four miles forward yesterday evening, instead of backward,
would have brought me to a village containing a caravanserai. I naturally
feel a trifle chagrined at the mistake of having journeyed eight unnecessary
miles, but am, perhaps, amply repaid by learning something of the utter
simplicity of the villagers before their character becomes influenced
by intercourse with more enlightened people.

My course now leads over a stony plain. The wheeling is reasonably
good, and I gradually draw away from the shore of Lake Ooroomiah. Melon-
gardens and vineyards are frequently found here and there across the
plain; the only entrance to the garden is a hole about three feet by
four in the high mud wall, and this is closed by a wooden door; an arm-
hole is generally found in the wall to enable the owner to reach the
fastening from the outside. Investigating one of these fastenings at a
certain vineyard I discover a lock so primitive that it must have been
invented by prehistoric man. A flat, wooden bar or bolt is drawn into a
mortise-like receptacle of the wall, open at the top; the man then daubs
a handful of wet clay over it; in a few minutes the clay hardens and the
door is fast. This is not a burglar-proof lock, certainly, and is only
depended upon for a fastening during the temporary absence of the owner
in the day-time. During the summer the owner and family not infrequently
live in the garden altogether. During the forenoon the bicycle is the
innocent cause of two people being thrown from the backs of their
respective steeds. One is a man carelessly sitting sidewise on his donkey;
the meek-eyed jackass suddenly makes a pivot of his hind feet and wheels
round, and the rider's legs as suddenly shoot upward. He frantically
grips his fiery, untamed steed around the neck as he finds himself over-
balanced, and comes up with a broad grin and an irrepressible chuckle
of merriment over the unwonted spirit displayed by his meek and humble
charger, that probably had never scared at anything before in all its
life. The other case is unfortunately a lady whose horse literally springs
from beneath her, treating her to a clean tumble. The poor lady sings
out "Allah!" rather snappishly at finding herself on the ground, so
snappishly that it leaves little room for doubt of its being an imprecation;
but her rude, unsympathetic attendants laugh right merrily at seeing her
floundering about in the sand; fortunately, she is uninjured. Although
Turkish and Persian ladies ride a la Amazon, a position that is popularly
supposed to be several times more secure than side-saddles, it is a
noticeable fact that they seem perfectly helpless, and come to grief the
moment their steed shies at anything or commences capering about with
anything like violence.

On a portion of road that is unridable from sand I am captured by a
rowdyish company of donkey-drivers, returning with empty fruit-baskets
from Tabreez. They will not be convinced that the road is unsuitable,
and absolutely refuse to let me go without seeing the bicycle ridden.
After detaining me until patience on my part ceases to be a virtue, and
apparently as determined for their purpose as ever, I am finally compelled
to produce the convincing argument with five chambers and rifled barrel.
These crowds of donkey-men seem inclined to be rather lawless, and
scarcely a day passes lately but what this same eloquent argument has
to be advanced in the interest of individual liberty. Fortunately the
mere sight of a revolver in the hands of a Ferenghi has the magical
effect of transforming the roughest and most overbearing gang of ryots
into peaceful, retiring citizens. The plain I am now traversing is a
broad, gray-looking area surrounded by mountains, and stretching away
eastward from Lake Ooroomiah for seventy-five miles. It presents the
same peculiar aspect of Persian scenery nearly everywhere-a general
verdureless and unproductive country, with the barren surface here and
there relieved by small oases of cultivated fields and orchards. The
villages being built solely of mud, and consequently of the same color
as the general surface, are undistinguishable from a distance, unless
rendered conspicuous by trees. Laboring under a slightly mistaken
impression concerning the distance to Tabreez, I push ahead in the
expectation of reaching there to-night; the plain becomes more generally
cultivated; the caravan routes from different directions come to a focus
on broad trails leading into the largest city in Persia, and which is
the great centre of distribution for European goods arriving by caravan
to Trebizond. Coming to a large, scattering village, some time in the
afternoon, I trundle leisurely through the lanes inclosed between lofty
and unsightly mud walls thinking I have reached the suburbs of Tabreez;
finding my mistake upon emerging on the open plain again, I am yet again
deceived by another spreading village, and about six o'clock find myself
wheeling eastward across an uncultivated stretch of uncertain dimensions.
The broad caravan trail is worn by the traffic of centuries considerably
below the level of the general surface, and consists of a number of
narrow, parallel trails, along which swarms of donkeys laden with produce
from tributary villages daily plod, besides the mule and camel caravans
from a greater distance. These narrow beaten paths afford excellent
wheeling, and I bowl along quite briskly. As one approaches Tabreez, the
country is found traversed by an intricate network of irrigating ditches,
some of them works of considerable magnitude; the embankments on either
side of the road are frequently high enough to obscure a horseman. These
works are almost as old as the hills themselves, for the cultivation of
the Tabreez plain has remained practically an unchanged system for three
thousand years, as though, like the ancient laws of the Medes and Persians,
it also were made unchangeable.

About dusk I fall in with another riotous crowd of homeward-bound fruit
carriers, who, not satisfied at seeing me ride past, want to stop me;
one of them rushes up behind, grabs my package attached to the rear
baggage-carrier, and nearly causes an overthrow; frightening him off, I
spurt ahead, barely escaping two or three donkey cudgels hurled at me
in pure wantonness, born of the courage inspired by a majority of twenty
to one. There is no remedy for these unpleasant occurrences except
travelling under escort, and the avoiding serious trouble or accident
becomes a matter for every-day congratulation. At eighteen miles from
the last village it becomes too dark to remain in the saddle without
danger of headers, and a short trundle brings me, not to Tabreez even
now, but to another village eight miles nearer. Here there is a large
caravanserai. Near the entrance is a hole-in-the-wall sort of a shop
wherein I espy a man presiding over a tempting assortment of cantaloupes,
grapes, and pears. The whirligig of fortune has favored me today with
tea, blotting-paper ekmek, and grapes for breakfast; later on two small
watermelons, and at 2 P.M. blotting-paper
ekmek and an infinitesimal quantity of yaort (now called mast). It is
unnecessary to add that I arrive in this village with an appetite that
will countenance no unnecessary delay. Two splendid ripe cantaloupes,
several fine bunches of grapes, and some pears are devoured immediately,
with a reckless disregard of consequences, justifiable only on the grounds
of semi-starvation and a temporary barbarism born of surrounding
circumstances. After this savage attack on the maivah-jee's stock, I
learn that the village contains a small tchai-khan; repairing thither I
stretch myself on the divan for an hour's repose, and afterward partake
of tea, bread, and peaches. At bed-time the khan-jee makes me up a couch
on the divan, locks the door
inside, blows out the light, and then, afraid to occupy the same building
with such a dangerous-looking individual as myself, climbs to the roof
through a hole in the wall. Eager villagers carry both myself and wheel
across a bridge-less stream upon resuming my journey to Tabreez next
morning; the road is level and ridable, though a trifle deep with dust
and sand, and in an hour I am threading the suburban lanes of the city.
Along these eight miles I certainly pass not less than five hundred pack-
donkeys en route to the Tabreez market with everything, from baskets of
the choicest fruit in the world to huge bundles of prickly camel-thorn
and sacks of tezek for fuel. No animals in all the world, I should think,
stand in more urgent need of the kindly offices of the Society for the
Prevention of Cruelty to Animals than the thousands of miserable donkeys
engaged in supplying Tabreez with fuel; their brutal drivers seem utterly
callous and indifferent to the pitiful sufferings of these patient
toilers. Numbers of instances are observed this morning where the rough,
ill-fitting breech-straps and ropes have literally seesawed their way
through the skin and deep into the flesh, and are still rasping deeper
and deeper every day, no attempt whatever being made to remedy this evil;
on the contrary, their pitiless drivers urge them on by prodding the raw
sores with sharpened sticks, and by belaboring them unceasingly with an
instrument of torture in the shape of whips with six inches of ordinary
trace-chain for a lash. As if the noble army of Persian donkey drivers
were not satisfied with the refinement of physical cruelty to which they
have attained, they add insult to injury by talking constantly to their
donkeys while driving them along, and accusing them of all the crimes
in the calendar and of every kind of disreputable action. Fancy the
bitter sense of humiliation that must overcome the proud, haughty spirit
of a mouse-colored jackass at being prodded in an open wound with a sharp
stick and hearing himself at the same time thus insultingly addressed:
"Oh, thou son of a burnt father and murderer of thine own mother, would
that I myself had died rather than my father should have lived to see
me drive such a brute as thou art." yet this sort of talk is habitually
indulged in by the barbarous drivers. While young, the donkeys' nostrils
are slit open clear up to the bridge-bone; this is popularly supposed
among the Persians to be an improvement upon nature in that it gives
them greater freedom of respiration. Instead of the well known clucking
sound used among ourselves as a persuasive, the Persian makes a sound
not unlike the bleating of a sheep; a stranger, being within hearing and
out of sight of a gang of donkey drivers in a hurry to reach their
destination, would be more likely to imagine himself in the vicinity of
a flock of sheep than anything else. As is usually the case, a volunteer
guide bobs serenely up immediately I enter the city, and I follow
confidently along, thinking he is piloting me to the English consulate,
as I have requested; instead of this he steers me into the custom-house
and turns me over to the officials. These worthy gentlemen, after asking
me to ride around the custom-house yard, pretend to become altogether
mystified about what they ought to do with the bicycle, and in the absence
of any precedent to govern themselves by, finally conclude among themselves
that the proper thing would be to confiscate it. Obtaining a guide to
show me to the residence of Mr. Abbott, the English consul-general, that
energetic representative of Her Majesty's government smiles audibly at
the thoughts of their mystification, and then writes them a letter couched
in terms of humorous reproachfulness, asking them what in the name of
Allah and the Prophet they mean by confiscating a traveller's horse, his
carriage, his camel, his everything on legs and wheels consolidated into
the beautiful vehicle with which he is journeying to Teheran to see the
Shah, and all around the world to see everybody and everything? - ending
by telling them that he never in all his consular experiences heard of
a proceeding so utterly atrocious. He sends the letter by the consulate
dragoman, who accompanies me back to the custom-house. The officers at
once see and acknowledge their mistake; but meanwhile they have been
examining the bicycle, and some of them appear to have fallen violently
in love with it; they yield it up, but it is with apparent reluctance,
and one of the leading officials takes me into the stable, and showing
me several splendid horses begs me to take my choice from among them and
leave the bicycle behind.

Mr. and Mrs. Abbott cordially invite me to become their guest while
staying at Tabreez. To-day is Thursday, and although my original purpose
was only to remain here a couple of days, the innovation from roughing
it on the road, to roast duck for dinner, and breakfast in one's own
room of a morning, coupled with warnings against travelling on the Sabbath
and invitations to dinner from the American missionaries, proves a
sufficient inducement for me to conclude to stay till Monday, satisfied
at the prospect of reaching Teheran in good season. It is now something
less than four hundred miles to Teheran, with the assurance of better
roads than I have yet had in Persia, for the greater portion of the
distance; besides this, the route is now a regular post route with chapar-
khanas (post-houses) at distances of four to five farsakhs apart. On
Friday night Tabreez experienced two slight shocks of an earthquake, and
in the morning Mr. Abbott points out several fissures in the masonry of
the consulate, caused by previous visitations of the same undesirable
nature; the earthquakes here seem to resemble the earthquakes of California
in that they come reasonably mild and often. The place likewise awakens
memories of the Golden State in another and more appreciative particular
nowhere, save perhaps in California, does one find such delicious
grapes, peaches, and pears as at ancient Taurus, a specialty for which
it has been justly celebrated from time immemorial. On Saturday I take
dinner with Mr. Oldfather, one of the missionaries, and in the evening
we all pay a visit to Mr. Whipple and family, the consulate link-boy
lighting the way before us with a huge cylindrical lantern of transparent
oiled muslin called a farnooze. These lanterns are always carried after
night before people of wealth or social consequence, varying in size
according to the person's idea of their own social importance. The size
of the farmooze is supposed to be an index of the social position of the
person or family, so that one can judge something of what sort of people
are coming down the street, even on the darkest night, whenever the
attendant link-boy heaves in sight with the farnooze. Some of these
social indicators are the size of a Portland cement barrel, even in
Persia; it is rather a smile-provoking thought to think what tremendous
farnoozes would be seen lighting up the streets on gloomy evenings, were
this same custom prevalent among ourselves; few of us but what could
call to memory people whose farnoozes would be little smaller than brewery
mash-tubs, and which would have to be carried between six-foot link-boys
on a pole. Ameer-i-Nazan, the Valiat or heir apparent to the throne, and
at present nominal governor of Tabreez, has seen a tricycle in Teheran,
one having been imported some time ago by an English gentleman in the
Shah's service; but the fame of the bicycle excites his curiosity and
he sends an officer around to the consulate to examine and report upon
the difference between bicycle and tricycle, and also to discover and
explain the modus operandi of maintaining one's balance on two wheels.
The officer returns with the report that my machine won't even stand up,
without somebody holding it, and that nobody but a Ferenghi who is in
league with Sheitan, could possibly hope to ride it. Perhaps it is this
alarming report, and the fear of exciting the prejudices of the mollahs
and fanatics about him, by having anything to do with a person reported
on trustworthy authority to be in league with His Satanic Majesty, that
prevents the Prince from requesting me to ride before him in Tabreez;
but I have the pleasure of meeting him at Hadji Agha on the evening of
the first day out. Mr. Whippie kindly makes out an itinerary of the
villages and chapar-khanas I shall pass on the journey to Teheran; the
superintendent of the Tabreez station of the Indo-European Telegraph
Company voluntarily telegraphs to the agents at Miana and Zendjan when
to expect rne, and also to Teheran; Mrs. Abbott fills my coat pockets
with roast chicken, and thus equipped and prepared, at nine o'clock on
Monday morning I am ready for the home-stretch of the season, before
going into winter quarters.

The Turkish consul-general, a corpulent gentleman whose avoirdupois I
mentally jot down at four hundred pounds, comes around with several
others to see me take a farewell spin on the bricked pavements of the
consulate garden. Like all persons of four hundred pounds weight, the
Effendi is a good-natured, jocose individual, and causes no end of
merriment by pretending to be anxious to take a spin on the bicycle
himself, whereas it requires no inconsiderable exertion on his part to
waddle from his own residence hard by into the consulate. Three soldiers
are detailed from the consulate staff to escort me through the city; en
route through the streets the pressure of the rabble forces one unlucky
individual into one of the dangerous narrow holes that abound in the
streets, up to his neck; the crowd yell with delight at seeing him tumble
in, and nobody stops to render him any assistance or to ascertain whether
he is seriously hurt. Soon a poor old ryot on a donkey, happens amid
the confusion to cross immediately in front of the bicycle; whack! whack!
whack! come the ready staves of the zealous and vigilant soldiers across
the shoulders of the offender; the crowd howls with renewed delight at
this, and several hilarious hobble-de-hoys endeavor to shove one of their
companions in the place vacated by the belabored ryot, in the hope that
he likewise will come in for the visitation of the soldiers' o'er- willing
staves. The broad suburban road, where the people have been fondly
expecting to see the bicycle light out in earnest for Teheran at a
marvellous rate of speed, is found to be nothing less than a bed of loose
sand and stones, churned up by the narrow hoofs of multitudinous donkeys.
Quite a number of better class Persians accompany me some distance further
on horseback; when taking their departure, a gentleman on a splendid
Arab charger, shakes hands and says: "Good-by, my dear," which apparently
is all the English he knows. He has evidently kept his eyes and ears
open when happening about the English consulate, and the happy thought
striking him at the moment, he repeats, parrot-like, this term of
endearment, all unsuspicious of the ridiculousness of its application
in the present case.

For several miles the road winds tortuously over a range of low, stony
hills, the surface being generally loose and unridable. The water-supply
of Tabreez is conducted from these hills by an ancient system of kanaats
or underground water-ditches; occasionally one comes to a sloping cavern
leading down to the water; on descending to the depth of from twenty to
forty feet, a small, rapidly-coursing stream of delicious cold water is
found, well rewarding the thirsty traveller for his trouble; sometimes
these cavernous openings are simply sloping, bricked archways, provided
with steps. The course of these subterranean water-ways can always be
traced their entire length by uniform mounds of earth, piled up at short
intervals on the surface; each mound represents the excavations from a
perpendicular shaft, at the bottom of which the crystal water can be
seen coursing along toward the city; they are merely man-holes for the
purpose of readily cleaning out the channel of the kanaat. The water is
conducted underground, chiefly to avoid the waste by evaporation and
absorption in surface ditches. These kanaats are very extensive affairs
in many places; the long rows of surface mounds are visible, stretching
for mile after mile across the plain as far as eye can penetrate, or
until losing themselves among the foot-hills of some distant mountain
chain; they were excavated in the palmy days of the Persian Empire to
bring pure mountain streams to the city fountains and to irrigate the
thirsty plain; it is in the interest of self-preservation that the
Persians now keep them from falling into decay. At noon, while seated
on a grassy knoll discussing the before-mentioned contents of my pockets,
I am favored with a free exhibition of what a physical misunderstanding
is like among the Persian ryots. Two companies of katir-jees happen to
get into an altercation about something, and from words it gradually
develops into blows; not blows of the fist, for they know nothing of
fisticuffs, but they belabor each other vigorously with their long, thick
donkey persuaders, sticks that are anything but small and willowy; it
is an amusing spectacle, and seated on the commanding knoll nibbling
"drum-sticks" and wish-bones, I can almost fancy myself a Roman of old,
eating peanuts and watching a gladiatorial contest in the amphitheatre.
The similitude, however, is not at all striking, for thick as are their
quarter-staffs the Persian ryots don't punish each other very severely.
Whenever one of them works himself up to a fighting-pitch, he commences
belaboring one of the others on the back, apparently always striking so
that the blow produces a maximum of noise with a minimum of punishment;
the person thus attacked never ventures to strike back, but retreats
under the blows until his assailant's rage becomes spent and he desists.
Meanwhile the war of words goes merrily forward; perchance in a few
minutes the person recently attacked suddenly becomes possessed of a
certain amount of rage-inspired courage, and he in turn commences a
vigorous assault upon somebody, probably his late assailant; this worthy,
having become a little cooler, has mysteriously lost his late pugnacity,
and now likewise retreats without once attempting to raise his own stick
in self-defence. The lower and commercial class Persians are pretty
quarrelsome among themselves, but they quarrel chiefly with their tongues;
when they fight without sticks it is an ear-pulling, clothes-tugging,
wrestling sort of a scuffle, which continues without greater injury than
a torn garment until they become exhausted if pretty evenly matched, or
until separated by bystanders; they never, never hurt each other unless
they are intoxicated, when they sometimes use their short swords; there
is no intoxication, except in private drinking-parties.

CHAPTER XX.

TABREEZ TO TEHERAN.

The wheeling improves in the afternoon, and alongside my road runs a bit
of civilization in the shape of the splendid iron poles of the Indo-European
Telegraph Company. Half a dozen times this afternoon I become the imaginary
enemy of a couple of cavalrymen travelling in the same direction as
myself; they swoop down upon me from the rear at a charging gallop,
valiantly whooping and brandishing their Martini-Henrys; when they arrive
within a few yards of my rear wheel they swerve off on either side and
rein their fiery chargers up, allowing me to forge ahead; they amuse
themselves by repeating this interesting performance over and over again.
Being usually a good rider, the dash and courage of the Persian cavalryman
is something extraordinary in time of peace; no more brilliant and
intrepid cavalry charge on a small scale could be well imagined than I
have witnessed several times this afternoon. But upon the outbreak of
serious hostilities the average warrior in the Shah's service suddenly
becomes filled with a wild, pathetic yearning after the peaceful and
honorable calling of a katir-jee, an uncontrollable desire to become a
humble, contented tiller of the soil, or handy-man about a tchaikhan,
anything, in fact, of a strictly peaceful character. Were I a hostile
trooper with a red jacket, and a general warlike appearance, and the
bicycle a machine gun, though our whooping, charging cavalrymen were
twenty instead of two, they would only charge once, and that would be
with their horses' crimson-dyed tails streaming in the breeze toward me.
The Shah's soldiers are gentle, unwarlike creatures at heart; there are
probably no soldiers in the whole world that would acquit themselves
less creditably in a pitched battle; they are, nevertheless, not without
certain soldierly qualities, well adapted to their country; the cavalrymen
are very good riders, and although the infantry does not present a very
encouraging appearance on the parade-ground, they would meander across
five hundred miles of country on half rations of blotting-paper ekmek
without any vigorous remonstrance, and wait uncomplainingly for their
pay until the middle of next year. About five o'clock I arrive at Hadji
Agha, a large village forty miles from Tabreez; here, as soon as it is
ascertained that I intend remaining over night, I am actually beset by
rival khan-jees, who commence jabbering and gesticulating about the
merits of their respective establishments, like hotel-runners in the
United States; of course they are several degrees less rude and boisterous,
and more considerate of one's personal inclinations than their prototypes
in America, but they furnish yet another proof that there is nothing new
under the sun. Hadji Agha is a village of seyuds, or descendants of the
Prophet, these and the mollahs being the most bigoted class in Persia;
when I drop into the tchai-khan for a glass or two of tea, the sanctimonious
old joker with henna-tinted beard and finger-nails, presiding over the
samovar, rolls up his eyes in holy horror at the thoughts of waiting
upon an unhallowed Ferenghi, and it requires considerable pressure from
the younger and less fanatical men to overcome his disinclination; he
probably breaks the glass I drank from after my departure.

About dusk the Valiat and his courtiers arrive on horseback from Tabreez;
the Prince immediately seeks my quarters at the khan, and, after examining
the bicycle, wants me to take it out and ride; it is getting rather dark,
however, so I put him off till morning; he remains and smokes cigarettes
with me for half an hour, and then retires to the residence of the local
Khan for the night. The Prince seems an amiable, easy-going sort of a
person; while in my company his countenance is wreathed in a pleasant
smile continually, and I fancy he habitually wears that same expression.
His youthful courtiers seem frivolous young bloods, putting in most of
the half-hour in showing me their accomplishments in the way of making
floating rings of their cigarette smoke. Later in the evening I stroll
around to the tchai-khan again; it is the gossiping-place of the village,
and I find our sanctimonious seyuds indulging in uncomplimentary comments
regarding the Yaliat's conduct in hobnobbing with the Ferenghi; how
bigoted these Persians are, and yet how utterly destitute of principle
and moral character. In the morning the Prince sends me an invitation
to come and drink tea with them before starting out; he bears the same
perennial smile as yesterday evening. Although he is generally understood
to be completely under the influence of the fanatical and bigoted seyuds
and mollahs, who are strictly opposed to the Ferenghi and the Fereughi's
ideas of progress and civilization, he seems withal an amiable, well-disposed
young man, whom one could scarce help liking personally, arid feeling
sorry at the troubles in store for him ahead. He has an elder brother,
the Zil-es-Sultan, now governor of the Southern Provinces; but not being
the son of a royal princess, the Shah has nominated Ameer-i-Nazan as his
successor to the throne. The Zil-es-Sultan, although of a somewhat cruel
disposition, has proved himself a far more capable and energetic person
than the Valiat, and makes no secret of the fact that he intends disputing
the succession with his brother, by force of arms if necessary, at the
Shah's demise. He has, so at least it is currently reported, had his
sword-blade engraved with the grim inscription, "This is for the Valiat's
head," and has jocularly notified his inoffensive brother of the fact.
The Zil-es-Sultau belongs to the party of progress; recks little of the
opinions of priests and fanatics, is fond of Englishmen and European
improvements, and keeps a kennel of English bull dogs. Should he become
Shah of Persia, Baron Reuter's grand scheme of railways and commercial
regeneration, which was foiled by the fanaticism of the seyuds and mollahs
soon after the Shah's visit to England, may yet come to something, and
the railroad rails now rusting in the swamps of the Caspian littoral
may, after all, form part of a railway between the seaboard and the
capital. The road for a short distance east of Hadji Agha is splendid
wheeling, and the Prince and his courtiers accompany me for some two
miles, finding much amusement in racing with me whenever the road permits
of spurting. The country now develops into undulating upland, uncultivated
and stone-strewn, except where an occasional stream, affording irrigating
facilities, has rendered possible the permanent maintenance of a mud
village and a circumscribed area of wheat-fields, melon-gardens, and
vineyards. No sooner does one find himself launched upon the comparatively
well-travelled post-route than a difference becomes manifest in the
character of the people. Commercially speaking, the Persian is considerably
more of a Jew than the Jew himself, and along a route frequented by
travellers, the person possessing some little knowledge of the thievish
ways of the country and of current prices, besides having plenty of small
change, finds these advantages a matter for congratulation almost every
hour of the day. The proprietor of a wretched little mud hovel, solemnly
presiding over a few thin sheets of bread, a jar of rancid, hirsute
butter, and a dozen half-ripe melons, affects a glum, sorrowful expression
to think that he should happen to be without small change, and consequently
obliged to accept the Hamsherri's fifty kopec piece for provisions of
one-tenth the value; but the mysterious frequency of this same state of
affairs and accompanying sorrowful expression, taken in connection with
the actual plenitude of small change in Persia, awakens suspicions even
in the mind of the most confiding and uninitiated person. A peculiar
system of commercial mendicancy obtains among the proprietors of melon
and cucumber gardens alongside the road of this particular part of the
country; observing a likely-looking traveller approaching, they come
running to him with a melon or cucumber that they know to be utterly
worthless, and beg the traveller to accept it as a present; delighted,
perhaps with their apparent simple-hearted hospitality, and, moreover,
sufficiently thirsty to appreciate the gift of a melon, the unsuspecting
wayfarer tenders the crafty proprietor of the garden a suitable present
of money in return and accepts the proffered gift; upon cutting it open
he finds the melon unfit for anything, and it gradually dawns upon him
that he has just grown a trifle wiser concerning the inbred cunningness
and utter dishonesty of the Persians than he was before. Ere the day is
ended the same game will probably be attempted a dozen times. In addition
to these artful customers, one occasionally comes across small colonies
of lepers, who, being compelled to isolate themselves from their fellows,
have taken up their abode in rude hovels or caves by the road-side, and
sally forth in all their hideousness to beset the traveller with piteous
cries for assistance. Some of these poor lepers are loathsome in appearance
to the last degree; their scanty coverings of rags and tatters conceals
nothing of the ravages of their dread disease; some sit at the entrance
to their hovels, stretching out their hands and piteously appealing for
alms; others drop down exhausted in the road while endeavoring to run
and overtake the passer-by; there is nothing deceptive about these
wretched outcasts, their condition is only too glaringly apparent. Toward
sundown I arrive at Turcomanchai, a large village, where in 1828, was
drawn up the Treaty of Peace between Persia and Russia, which transferred
the remaining Persian territory of the Caucasus into the capacious maw
of the Northern Bear. It is currently reported that after depriving the
Persians of their rights to the navigation of the Caspian Sea the Czar
coolly gave his amiable friend the Shah a practical lesson concerning
the irony of fortune by presenting him with a yacht. Seeking the guidance
of a native to the caravanserai, this quick-witted individual leads the
way through tortuous alleyways to the other end of the village and pilots
me to the camp of a tea caravan, pitched on the outskirts, thinking I
had requested to be guided to a caravan; the caravan men direct me to
the chapar-khana, where accommodations of the usual rude nature are
provided. Sending into the village for eggs, sugar, and tea, the chapar-
khana keeper and stablemen produce a battered samovar, and after frying
my supper, they prepare tea; they are poor, ragged fellows, but they
seem light-hearted and contented; the siren song of the steaming samovar
seems to a waken in their semi-civilized breasts a sympathetic response,
and they fall to singing and making merry over tiny glasses of sweetened
tea quite as naturally as sailors in a seaport groggery, or Germans over
a keg of lager. Jolly, happy-go-lucky fellows though they outwardly
appear, they prove no exception, however, to the general run of their
countrymen in the matter of petty dishonesty; although I gave them money
enough to purchase twice the quantity of provisions they brought back,
besides promising them the customary small present before leaving, in
the morning they make a further attempt on my purse under pretence of
purchasing more butter to cook the remainder of the eggs. These are
trifling matters to discuss, but they serve to show the wide difference
between the character of the peasant classes in Persia and Turkey. The
chapar-khana usually consists of a walled enclosure containing stabling
for a large number of horses and quarters for the stablemen and station-
keeper. The quickest mode of travelling in Persia is by chapar, or, in
other words, on horseback, obtaining fresh horses at each chapar-khana.
The country east of Turcomanchai consists of rough, uninteresting upland,
with nothing to vary the monotony of the journey, until noon, when after
wheeling five farsakhs I reach the town of Miana, celebrated throughout
the Shah's dominions for a certain poisonous bug which inhabits the mud
walls of the houses, and is reputed to bite the inhabitants while they
are sleeping. The bite is said to produce violent and prolonged fever,
and to be even, dangerous to life. It is customary to warn travellers
against remaining over night at Miana, and, of course, I have not by any
means been forgotten. Like most of these alleged dreadful things, it is
found upon close investigation to be a big bogey with just sufficient
truthfulness about it to play upon the imaginative minds of the people.
The "Miana bug-bear" would, I think, be a more appropriate name than
Miana bug. The people here seem inclined to be rather rowdyish in their
reception of a Ferenghi without an escort. While trundling through the
bazaar toward the telegraph station I become the unhappy target for
covertly thrown melon-rinds and other unwelcome missiles, for which there
appears no remedy except the friendly shelter of the station. This is
just outside the town, and before the gate is reached, stones are exchanged
for melon-rinds, but fortunately without any serious damage being done.
Mr. F--, a young German operator, has charge of the control-station here,
and welcomes me most cordially to share his comfortable quarters, urging
me to remain with him several days. I gladly accept his hospitality till
tomorrow morning. Mr. F-- has a brother who has recently become a
Mussulman, and married a couple of Persian wives; he is also residing
temporarily at Miana. He soon comes around to the telegraph station,
and turns out to be a wild harum-skarum sort of a person, who regards
his transformation into a Mussulman and the setting up of a harem of his
own as anything but a serious affair. As a reward for embracing the
Mohammedan religion and becoming a Persian subject the Shah has given
him a sum of money and a position in the Tabreez mint, besides bestowing
upon him the sounding title of Mirza Ab-dul Karim Khan. It seems that
inducements of a like substantial nature are held out to any Ferenghi
of known respectability who formally embraces the Shiite branch of the
Mohammedan religion, and becomes a Persian subject - a rare chance for
chronic ne'er-do-wells among ourselves, one would think.

This novel and festive convert to Islam readily gives me a mental peep
behind the scenes of Persian domestic life, and would unhesitatingly
have granted me a peep in person had such a thing been possible. Imagine
the ordinary costume of an opera-bouffe artist, shorn of all regard for
the difference between real indecency and the suggestiveness of indelicacy
permissible behind the footlights, and we have the every-day costume of
the Persian harem. In the dreamy eventide the lord of the harem usually
betakes himself to that characteristic institution of the East and
proceeds to drive dull care away by smoking the kalian and watching an
exhibition of the terpsichorean talent of his wives or slaves. This does
not consist of dancing, such as we are accustomed to understand the art,
but of graceful posturing and bodily contortions, spinning round like a
coryphee, with hand aloft, and snapping their fingers or clashing tiny
brass cymbals; standing with feet motionless and wriggling the joints,
or bending backward until their loose, flowing tresses touch the ground.
Persians able to afford the luxury have their womens' apartment walled
with mirrors, placed at appropriate angles, so that when enjoying these
exhibitions of his wives' abilities he finds himself not merely in the
presence of three or six wives, as the case may be, but surrounded on
all sides by scores of airy-fairy nymphs, and amid the dreamy fumes and
soothing bubble-bubbling of his kalian can imagine himself the happy - or
one would naturally think, unhappy - possessor of a hundred. The effect
of this mirror-work arrangement can be better imagined than described.

"You haven't got one of those mirrored rooms, have you?" I inquire,
beginning to get a trifle inquisitive, and perhaps rather impertinent.
"You couldn't manage to smuggle a fellow inside, disguised as a seyud
or--" "Nicht," replies Mirza Abdul Kaiim Khan, laughing, "I have not
bothered about a mirror chamber yet, because I only remain here for
another month; but if you happen to come to Tabreez any time after I get
settled down there, look me up, and I'll-hello! here comes Prince
Assabdulla to see your velocipede!" Fatteh - Ali Shah, the grandfather of
the present monarch, had some seventy-two sons, besides no lack of
daughters. As the son of a prince inherits his father's title in Persia,
the numerous descendants of Fatteh-Ali Shah are scattered all over the
empire, and royal princes bob serenely up in every town of any consequence
in the country. They are frequently found occupying some snug, but not
always lucrative, post under the Government. Prince Assabdulla has learned
telegraphy, and has charge of the government control-station here, drawing
a salary considerably less than the agent of the English company's line.
The Persian Government telegraph line consists of one wire strung on
tumble-down wooden poles. It is erected alongside the splendid English
line of triple wires and substantial iron poles, and the control-stations
are built adjacent to the English stations, as though the Persians were
rather timid about their own abilities as telegraphists, and preferred
to nestle, as it were, under the protecting shadow of the English line.
Prince Assabdulla has an elder brother who is Governor of Miana, and who
comes around to see the bicycle during the afternoon; they both seem
pleasant and agreeable fellows. "When the heat of the day has given place
to cooler eventide, and the moon comes peeping over the lofty Koflan
Koo Mountains, near-by to the eastward, we proceed to a large fruit-garden
on the outskirts of the town, and, sitting on the roof of a building,
indulge in luscious purple grapes as large as walnuts, and pears that
melt away in the mouth. Mirza Abdul Karim Khan plays a German accordeon,
and Prince Assabdulla sings a Persian love-song; the leafy branches of
poplar groves are whispering in response to a gentle breeze, and playing
hide-and-seek across the golden face of the moon, and the mountains have
assumed a shadowy, indistinct appearance. It is a scene of transcendental
loveliness, characteristic of a Persian moonlight night.

Afterward we repair to Mirza Abdul Kiirim Khan's house to smoke the
kalian and drink tea. His favorite wife, whom he has taught to respond
to the purely Frangistan name of " Eosie," replenishes and lights the
kalian-giving it a few preliminary puffs herself by way of getting it
under headway before handing it to her husband-and then serves us with
glasses of sweetened tea from the samovar. In deference to her Ferenghi
brother-in-law and myself, Eosie has donned a gauzy shroud over the
above-mentioned in-door costume of the Persian female. "She is a beautiful
dancer," says her husband, admiringly, "I wish it were possible for you
to see her dance this evening; bat it isn't; Eosie herself wouldn't mind,
but it would be pretty certain to leak out, and Miana being a rather
fanatical place, my life wouldn't be worth that much," and the Khan
carelessly snapped his fingers. Supper is brought up to the telegraph
station. Prince Assabdulla is invited, and comes round with his servant
bearing a number of cucumbers and a bottle of arrack; the Prince, being
a genuine Mohammedan, is forbidden by his religion to indulge; consequently
he consumes the fiery arrack in preference to some light and harmless
native wine; such is the perversity of human nature.

Two princes and a khan are cantering (not khan-tering) alongside the
bicycle as I pull out eastward from Miana. They accompany me to the foot-
hills approaching the Koflan Koo Pass, and wishing me a pleasant journey,
turn their horses' heads homeward again. Reaching the pass proper, I
find it to be an exceedingly steep trundle, but quite easy climbing
compared with a score of mountain passes in Asia Minor, for the surface
is reasonably smooth, and toward the summit is an ancient stone causeway.
A new and delightful experience awaits me upon the summit of the pass;
the view to the westward is a revelation of mountain scenery altogether
new and novel in my experience, which can now scarcely be called unvaried.
I seem to be elevated entirely above the surface of the earth, and gazing
down through transparent, ethereal depths upon a scene of everchanging
beauty. Fleecy cloudlets are floating lazily over the valley far below
my position, producing on the landscape a panoramic scene of constantly
changing shadows; through the ethery depths, so wonderfully transparent,
the billowy gray foothills, the meandering streams fringed with green,
and Miana with its blue-domed mosques and emerald gardens, present a
phantasmagorical appearance, as though they themselves were floating
about in the lower strata of space, and undergoing constant transformation.
Perched on an apparently inaccessible crag to the north is an ancient
robber stronghold commanding the pass; it is a natural fortress, requiring
but a few finishing touches by man to render it impregnable in the days
when the maintenance of robber strongholds were possible. Owing to its
walls and battlements being chiefly erected by nature, the Persian
peasantry call it the Perii-Kasr, believing it to have been built by
fairies. While descending the eastern slope, I surprise a gray lizard
almost as large as a rabbit, basking in the sunbeams; he briskly scuttles
off into the rocks upon being disturbed.

Crossing the Sefid Rud on a dilapidated brickwork bridge, I cross another
range of low hills, among which I notice an abundance of mica cropping
above the surface, and then descend on to a broad, level plain, extending
eastward without any lofty elevation as far as eye can reach. On this
shelterless plain I am overtaken by a furious equinoctial gale; it comes
howling suddenly from the west, obscuring the recently vacated Koflan
Koo Mountains behind an inky veil, filling the air with clouds of dust,
and for some minutes rendering it necessary to lie down and fairly hang
on to the ground to prevent being blown about. First it begins to rain,
then to hail; heaven's artillery echoes and reverberates in the Koflan
Koo Mountains, and rolls above the plain, seeming to shake the hailstones
down like fruit from the branches of the clouds, and soon I am enveloped
in a pelting, pitiless downpour of hailstones, plenty large enough to
make themselves felt wherever they strike. To pitch my tent would have
been impossible, owing to the wind and the suddenness of its appearance.
In thirty minutes or less it is all over; the sun shines out warmly and
dissipates the clouds, and converts the ground into an evaporator that
envelops everything in steam. In an hour after it quits raining, the
road is dry again, and across the plain it is for the most part excellent
wheeling.

About four o'clock the considerable village of Sercham is reached; here,
as at Hadji Aghi, I at once become the bone of contention between rival
khan-jees wanting to secure me for a guest, on the supposition that I
am going to remain over night. Their anxiety is all unnecessary, however,
for away off on the eastern horizon can be observed clusters of familiar
black dots that awaken agreeable reflections of the night spent in the
Koordish camp between Ovahjik and Khoi. I remain in Sercham long enough
to eat a watermelon, ride, against my will, over rough ground to appease
the crowd, and then pull out toward the Koordish camps which are evidently
situated near my proper course.

It seeins to have rained heavily in the mountains and not rained at all
east of Sercham, for during the next hour I am compelled to disrobe, and
ford several freshets coursing down ravines over beds that before the
storm were inches deep in dust, the approaching slopes being still dusty;
this little diversion causes me to thank fortune that I have been enabled
to keep in advance of the regular rainy season, which commences a little
later. Striking a Koordish camp adjacent to the trail I trundle toward
one of the tents; before reaching it I am overhauled by a shepherd who
hands me a handful of dried peaches from a wallet suspended from his
waist. The evening air is cool with a suggestion of frostiness, and the
occupants of the tent are found crouching around a smoking tezek fire;
they are ragged and of rather unprepossessing appearance, but being
instinctively hospitable, they shuffle around to make me welcome at the
fire; at first I almost fancy myself mistaken in thinking them Koords,
for there is nothing of the neatness and cleanliness of our late
acquaintances about them; on the contrary, they are almost as repulsive
as their sedentary relatives of Dele Baba-but a little questioning removes
all doubt of their being Koords. They are simply an ill-conditioned
tribe, without any idea whatever of thrift or good management. They have
evidently been to Tabreez or somewhere lately, and invested most of the
proceeds of the season's shearing in three-year-old dried peaches that
are hard enough to rattle like pebbles; sacksful of these edibles are
scattered all over the tent serving for seats, pillows, and general
utility articles for the youngsters to roll about on, jump over, and
throw around; everybody in the camp seems to be chewing these peaches
and throwing them about in sheer wantonness because they are plentiful;
every sack contains finger-holes from which one and all help themselves
ad libitum in wanton disregard of the future.

Nearly everybody seems to be suffering from ophthalmia, which is aggravated
by crouching over the densely smoking tezek; and one miserable-looking
old character is groaning and writhing with the pain of a severe stomach-
ache. By loafing lazily about the tent all day, and chewing these flinty
dried peaches, this hopeful old joker has well-nigh brought himself to
the unhappy condition of the Yosemite valley mule, who broke into the
tent and consumed half a bushel of dried peaches; when the hunters
returned to camp and were wondering what marauder had visited their tent
and stolen the peaches, they heard a loud explosion behind the tent;
hastily going out they discover the remnants of the luckless mule scattered
about in all directions. Of course I am appealed to for a remedy, and I
am not sorry to have at last come across an applicant for my services
as a hakim, for whose ailment I can prescribe with some degree of
confidence; to make assurance doubly sure I give the sufferer a double
dose, and in the morning have the satisfaction of finding him entirely
relieved from his misery. There seems to be no order or sense of good
manners whatever among these people; we have bread and half-stewed peaches
for supper, and while they are cooking, ill-mannered youngsters are
constantly fishing them from the kettles with weed-stalks, meeting with
no sort of reproof from their elders for so doing; when bedtime arrives,
everybody seizes quilts, peach-sacks, etc., and crawls wherever they can
for warmth and comfort; three men, two women, and several children occupy
the same compartment as myself, and gaunt dogs are nosing hungrily about
among us. About midnight there is a general hallooballoo among the dogs,
and the clatter of horses' hoofs is heard outside the tent; the occupants
of the tent, including myself, spring up, wondering what the disturbance
is all about. A group of horsemen are visible in the bright moonlight
outside, and one of them has dismounted, and under the guidance of a
shepherd, is about entering the tent; seeing me spring up, and being
afraid lest perchance I might misinterpret their intentions and act
accordingly, he sings out in a soothing voice, "Kardash, Hamsherri;
Kardash, Kardash." thus assuring me of their peaceful intentions. These
midnight visitors turn out to be a party of Persian travellers from
Miana, from which it would appear they have less fear of the Koords
here than in Koordistan near the frontier; having, somehow, found out
my whereabouts, they have come to try and persuade me to leave the camp
and join their company to Zenjan. Although my own unfavorable impressions
of my entertainers are seconded by the visitors' reiterated assurances
that these Koords are bad people, I decline to accompany them, knowing
the folly of attempting to bicycle over these roads by moonlight in the
company of horsemen who would be continually worrying me to ride, no
matter what the condition of the road; after remaining in camp half an
hour they take their departure.

In the morning I discover that my mussulman hat-band has mysteriously
disappeared, and when preparing to depart, a miscellaneous collection
of females gather about me, seize the bicycle, and with much boisterous
hilarity refuse to let me depart until I have given each one of them
some money; their behavior is on the whole so outrageous, that I appeal
to my patient of yesterday evening, in whose bosom I fancy I may perchance
have kindled a spark of gratitude; but the old reprobate no longer has
the stomach-ache, and he regards my unavailing efforts to break away
from my hoi-denish tormentors with supreme indifference, as though there
were nothing extraordinary in their conduct. The demeanor of these wild-
eyed Koordish females on this occasion fully convinces me that the stories
concerning their barbarous conduct toward travellers captured on the
road is not an exaggeration, for while preventing my departure they seem
to take a rude, boisterous delight in worrying me on all sides, like a
gang of puppies barking and harassing anything they fancy powerless to
do them harm. After I have finally bribed my freedom from the women, the
men seize me and attempt to further detain me until they can send for
their Sheikh to come from another camp miles away, to see me ride. After
waiting a reasonable time, out of respect for their having accommodated
me with quarters for the night, and no signs of the Sheikh appearing, I
determine to submit to their impudence no longer; they gather around me
as before, but presenting my revolver and assuming an angry expression,
I threaten instant destruction to the next one laying hands on either
myself or the bicycle; they then give way with lowering brows and sullen
growls of displeasure. My rough treatment on this occasion compared with
my former visit to a Koordish camp, proves that there is as much difference
between the several tribes of nomad Koords, as between their sedentary
relatives of Dele Baba and Malosman respectively; for their general
reputation, it were better that I had spent the night in Sercham. A few
miles from the camp, I am overtaken by four horsemen followed by several
dogs and a pig; it proves to be the tardy Sheikh and his retainers, who
have galloped several miles to catch me up; the Sheikh is a pleasant,
intelligent fellow of thirty or thereabouts, and astonishes me by
addressing me as "Monsieur;" they canter alongside for a mile or so,
highly delighted, when the Sheikh cheerily sings out "Adieu, monsieur!"
and they wheel about and return; had their Sheikh been in the camp I
stayed at, my treatment would undoubtedly have been different. I am at
the time rather puzzled to account for so strange a sight as a pig
galloping briskly behind the horses, taking no notice of the dogs which
continually gambol about him; but I afterward discover that a pet pig,
trained to follow horses, is not an unusual thing among the Persians and
Persian Koords; they are thin, wiry animals of a sandy color, and quite
capable of following a horse for hours; they live in the stable with
their equine companions, finding congenial occupation in rooting around
for stray grains of barley; the horses and pig are said to become very
much attached to each other; when on the road the pig is wont to signify
its disapproval of a too rapid pace, by appealing squeaks and grunts,
whereupon the horse responsively slacks its speed to a more accommodating
speed for its porcine companion. The road now winds tortuously along the
base of some low gravel hills, and the wheeling perceptibly improves;
beyond Nikbey it strikes across the hilly country, and more trundling
becomes necessary. At Nikbey I manage to leave the inhabitants in a
profound puzzle by replying that I am not a Ferenghi, but an Englishman;
this seems to mystify them not a little, and they commence inquiring
among themselves for an explanation of the difference; they are probably
inquiring yet. Fifty-eight miles are covered from the Koordish camp, and
at three o'clock the blue-tiled domes of the Zendjan mosques appear in
sight; these blue-tiled domes are more characteristic of Persian mosques,
which are usually built of bricks, and have no lofty tapering minarets
as in Turkey; the summons to prayers are called from the top of a wall
or roof. When approaching the city gate, a half-crazy man becomes wildly
excited at the spectacle of a man on a wheel, and, rushing up, seizes
hold of the handle; as I spring from the saddle he rapidly takes to his
heels; finding that I am not pursuing him, he plucks up courage, and
timidly approaching, begs me to let him see me ride again. Zendjan is
celebrated for the manufacture of copper vessels, and the rat-a-tat-tat
of the workmen beating them out in the coppersmiths' quarters is heard
fully a mile outside the gate; the hammering is sometimes deafening while
trundling through these quarters, and my progress through it is indicated
by what might perhaps be termed a sympathetic wave of silence following
me along, the din ceasing at my approach and commencing again with renewed
vigor after I have passed.

Mr. F--, a Levantine gentleman in charge of the station here, fairly
outdoes himself in the practical interpretation of genuine old-fashioned
hospitality, which brooks no sort of interference with the comfort of
his guest; understanding the perpetual worry a person travelling in so
extraordinary a manner must be subject to among an excessively inquisitive
people like the Persians, he kindly takes upon himself the duty of
protecting me from anything of the kind during the day I remain over as
his guest, and so manages to secure me much appreciated rest and quiet.
The Governor of the city sends an officer around saying that himself and
several prominent dignitaries would like very much to see the bicycle.
"Very good, replies Mr. F--, "the bicycle is here, and Mr. Stevens will
doubtless be pleased to receive His Excellency and the leading officials
of Zendjan any time it suits their convenience to call, and will probably
have no objections to showing them the bicycle." It is, perhaps, needless
to explain that the Governor doesn't turn up; I, however, have an
interesting visitor in the person of the Sheikh-ul-Islam (head of religious
affairs in Zendjan), a venerable-looking old party in flowing gown and
monster turban, whose hands and flowing beard are dyed to a ruddy yellow
with henna. The Sheikh-ul-Islam is considered the holiest personage in
Zendjan and his appearance and demeanor does not in the least belie his
reputation; whatever may be his private opinion of himself, he makes far
less display of sanctimoniousness than many of the common seyuds, who
usually gather their garments about them whenever they pass a Ferenghi
in the bazaar, for fear their clothing should become defiled by brushing
against him. The Sheikh-ul-Islam fulfils one's idea of a gentle-bred,
worthy-minded old patriarch; he examines the bicycle and listens to the
account of my journey with much curiosity and interest, and bestows a
flattering mead of praise on the wonderful ingenuity of the Ferenghis
as exemplified in my wheel.

>From Zeudjan eastward the road gradually improves, and after a dozen
miles develops into the finest wheeling yet encountered in Asia; the
country is a gravelly plain between a mountain chain on the left and a
range of lesser hills to the right. Near noon I pass through Sultaneah,
formerly a favorite country resort of the Persian monarchs; on the broad,
grassy plain, during the autumn, the Shah was wont to find amusement in
manoeuvring his cavalry regiments, and for several months an encampment
near Sultaneah became the head-quarters of that arm of the service. The
Shah's palace and the blue dome of a large mosque, now rapidly crumbling
to decay, are visible many miles before reaching the village. The presence
of the Shah and his court doesn't seem to have exerted much of a refining
or civilizing influence on the common villagers; otherwise they have
retrograded sadly toward barbarism again since Sultaneah has ceased to
be a favorite resort. They appear to regard the spectacle of a lone
Ferenghi meandering through their wretched village on a wheel, as an
opportunity of doing something aggressive for the cause of Islam not to
be overlooked; I am followed by a hooting mob of bare-legged wretches,
who forthwith proceed to make things lively and interesting, by pelting
me with stones and clods of dirt. One of these wantonly aimed missiles
catches me square between the shoulders, with a force that, had it struck
me fairly on the back of the neck, would in all probability have knocked
me clean out of the saddle; unfortunately, several irrigating ditches
crossing the road immediately ahead prevent escape by a spurt, and nothing
remains but to dismount and proceed to make the best of it. There are
only about fifty of them actively interested, and part of these being
mere boys, they are anything but a formidable crowd of belligerents if
one could only get in among them with a stuffed club; they seem but
little more than human vermin in their rags and nakedness, and like
vermin, the greatest difficulty is to get hold of them. Seeing me dismount,
they immediately take to their heels, only to turn and commence throwing
stones again at finding themselves unpursued; while I am retreating and
actively dodging the showers of missiles, they gradually venture closer
and closer, until things becoming too warm and dangerous, I drop the
bicycle, and make a feint toward them; they then take to their heels,
to return to the attack again as before, when I again commence retreating.
Finally I try the experiment of a shot in the air, by way of notifying
them of my ability to do them serious injury; this has the effect of
keeping them at a more respectful distance, but they seem to understand
that I am not intending serious shooting, and the more expert throwers
manage to annoy me considerably until ridable ground is reached; seeing
me mount, they all come racing pell-mell after me, hurling stones, and
howling insulting epithets after me as a Ferenghi, but with smooth road
ahead I am, of course, quickly beyond their reach.

The villages east of Sultaneah are observed to be, almost without
exception, surrounded by a high mud wall, a characteristic giving them
the appearance of fortifications rather than mere agricultural villages;
the original object of this was, doubtless, to secure themselves against
surprises from wandering tribes; and as the Persians seldom think of
changing anything, the custom is still maintained. Bushes are now
occasionally observed near the roadside, from every twig of which a strip
of rag is fluttering in the breeze; it is an ancient custom still kept
up among the Persian peasantry when approaching any place they regard
with reverence, as the ruined mosque and imperial palace at Sultaneah,
to tear a strip of rag from their clothing and fasten it to some roadside
bush; this is supposed to bring them good luck in their undertakings,
and the bushes are literally covered with the variegated offerings of
the superstitious ryots; where no bushes are handy, heaps of small stones
are indicative of the same belief; every time he approaches the well-known
heap, the peasant picks up a pebble, and adds it to the pile. Owing to
a late start and a prevailing head-wind, but forty-six miles are covered
to-day, when about sundown I seek the accommodation of the chapar-khana,
at Heeya; but, providing the road continues good, I promise myself to
polish off the sixty miles between here and Kasveen, to-morrow. The
chaparkhana sleeping apartments at Heeya contain whitewashed walls and
reed matting, and presents an appearance of neatness and cleanliness
altogether foreign to these institutions previously patronized; here,
also, first occurs the innovation from "Hamsherri" to "Sahib," when
addressing me in a respectful manner; it will be Sahib, from this point
clear to, through and beyond India; my various titles through the different
countries thus far traversed have been; Monsieur, Herr, Effendi, Hamsherri,
and now Sahib; one naturally wonders what new surprises are in store
ahead. A bountiful supper of scrambled eggs (toke-mi-morgue) is obtained
here, and the customary shake-down on the floor. After getting rid of
the crowd I seek my rude couch, and am soon in the land of unconsciousness;
an hour afterward I am awakened by the busy hum of conversation; and,
behold, in the dim light of a primitive lamp, I become conscious of
several pairs of eyes immediately above me, peering with scrutinizing
inquisitiveness into my face; others are examining the bicycle standing
against the wall at my head. Rising up, I find the chapar-lchana crowded
with caravan teamsters, who, going past with a large camel caravan from
the Caspian seaport of Eesht, have heard of the bicycle, and come flocking
to my room; I can hear the unmelodious clanging of the big sheet-iron
bells as their long string of camels file slowly past the building.

Daylight finds me again on the road, determined to make the best of early
morning, ere the stiff easterly wind, which seems inclined to prevail
of late, commences blowing great guns against me. A short distance out,
I meet a string of some three hundred laden camels that have not yet
halted after the night's march; scores of large camel caravans have been
encountered since leaving Erzeroum, but they have invariably been halting
for the day; these camels regard the bicycle with a timid reserve, merely
swerving a step or two off their course as I wheel past; they all seem
about equally startled, so that my progress down the ranks simply causes
a sort of a gentle ripple along the line, as though each successive camel
were playing a game of follow-my leader. The road this morning is nearly
perfect for wheeling, consisting of well-trodden camel-paths over a hard
gravelled surface that of itself naturally makes excellent surface for
cycling; there is no wind, and twenty-five miles are duly registered by
the cyclometer when I halt to eat the breakfast of bread and a portion
of yesterday evening's scrambled eggs which I have brought along. On
past Seyudoon and approaching Kasveen, the plain widens to a considerable
extent and becomes perfectly level; apparent distances become deceptive,
and objects at a distance assume weird, fantastic shapes; beautiful
mirages hold out their allurements from all directions; the sombre walls
of villages present the appearance of battlemented fortresses rising up
from the mirror-like surface of silvery lakes, and orchards and groves
seem shadowy, undefinable objects floating motionless above the earth.
The telegraph poles traversing the plain in a long, straight line until
lost to view in the hazy distance, appear to be suspended in mid-air;
camels, horses, and all moving objects more than a mile away, present
the strange optical illusion of animals walking through the air many
feet above the surface of the earth. Long rows of kanaat mounds traverse
the plain in every direction, leading from the numerous villages to
distant mountain chains. Descending one of the sloping cavernous entrances
before mentioned, for a drink, I am rather surprised at observing numerous
fishes disporting themselves in the water, which, on the comparatively
level plain, flows but slowly; perhaps they are an eyeless variety similar
to those found in the Mammoth Cave of Kentucky; still they get a glimmering
light from the numerous perpendicular shafts. Flocks of wild pigeons
also frequent these underground water-courses, and the peasantry sometimes
capture them by the hundred with nets placed over the shafts; the kanaats
are not bricked archways, but merely tunnels burrowed through the ground.
Three miles of loose sand and stones have to be trundled through before
reaching Kasveen; nevertheless my promised sixty miles are overcome, and
I enter the city gate at 2 P.M. A trundle through several narrow, crooked
streets brings me to an inner gateway emerging upon a broad, smooth
avenue; a short ride down this brings me to a large enclosure containing
the custom-house offices and a fine brick caravanserai. Yet another
prince appears here in the person of a custom-house official; I readily
grant the requested privilege of seeing me ride, but the title of a
Persian prince is no longer associated in my mind with greatness and
importance; princes in Persia are as plentiful as counts in Italy or
barons in Germany, yet it rather shocks one's dreams of the splendor of
Oriental royalty to find princes manipulating the keys of a one wire
telegraph control-station at a salary of about forty dollars a month (25
tomans), or attending to the prosy duties of a small custom-house. Kasveen
is important as being the half-way station between Teheran and the Caspian
port of Eesht, and on the highway of travel and commerce between Northern
Persia and Europe; added importance is likewise derived from its being
the terminus of a broad level road from the capital, and where travellers
and the mail from Teheran have to be transferred from wheeled vehicles
to the backs of horses for the passage over the rugged passes of the
Elburz mountains leading to the Caspian slope, or vice versa when going
the other way. Locking the bicycle up in a room of the caravanserai, I
take a strolling peep at the nearest streets; a couple of lutis or
professional buffoons, seeing me strolling leisurely about, come hurrying
up; one is leading a baboon by a string around the neck, and the other
is carrying a gourd drum. Reaching me, the man with the baboon commences
making the most ludicrous grimaces and causes the baboon to caper wildly
about by jerking the string, while the drummer proceeds to belabor the
head of his drum, apparently with the single object of extracting as
much noise from it as possible. Putting my fingers to my ears I turn
away; ten minutes afterward I observe another similar combination making
a bee-line for my person; waving them off I continue on down the street;
soon afterward yet a third party attempts to secure me for an audience.
It is the custom for these strolling buffoons to thus present themselves
before persons on the street, and to visit houses whenever there is
occasion for rejoicing, as at a wedding, or the birth of a son; the lutis
are to the Persians what Italian organ-grinders are among ourselves; I
fancy people give them money chiefly to get rid of their noise and
annoyance, as we do to save ourselves from the soul-harrowing tones of
a wheezy crank organ beneath the window. Among the novel conveyances
observed in the courtyard of the caravanserai is the takhtrowan, a large
sedan chair provided with shafts at either end, and carried between two
mules or horses; another is the before-mentioned kajaveh, an arrangement
not unlike a pair of canvas-covered dog kennels strapped across the back
of an animal; these latter contrivances are chiefly used for carrying
women and children. After riding around the courtyard several different
times for crowds continually coming, I finally conclude that there must
be a limit to this sort of thing anyhow, and refuse to ride again; the
new-comers linger around, however, until evening, in the hopes that an
opportunity of seeing me ride may present itself. A number of them then
contribute a handful of coppers, which they give to the proprietor of a
tributary tchai-khan to offer me as an inducement to ride again. The
wily Persians know full well that while a Ferenghi would scorn to accept
their handful of coppers, he would probably be sufficiently amused at
the circumstance to reward their persistence by riding for nothing;
telling the grinning khan-jee to pocket the coppers, I favor them with
"positively the last entertainment this evening." An hour later the khan-
jee meets me going toward the bazaar in search of something for supper;
inquiring the object of my search, he takes me back to his tchai-khan,
points significantly to an iron kettle simmering on a small charcoal
fire, and bids me be seated; after waiting on a customer or two, and
supplying me with tea, he quietly beckons me to the fire, removes the
cover and reveals a savory dish of stewed chicken and onions: this he
generously shares with me a few minutes later, refusing to accept any
payment. As there are exceptions to every rule, so it seems there are
individuals, even among the Persian commercial classes, capable of
generous and worthy impulses; true the khan-jee obtained more than the
value of the supper in the handful of coppers - but gratitude is generally
understood to be an unknown commodity among the subjects of the Shah.
Soon the obstreperous cries of "All Akbar, la-al-lah-il-allah" from the
throats of numbers of the faithful perched upon the caravanserai steps,
stable-roof, and other conspicuous soul-inspiring places, announces the

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