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´╗┐Title: Around the World on a Bicycle - Volume II - From Teheran To Yokohama
Author: Stevens, Thomas, 1854-1935
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Around the World on a Bicycle - Volume II - From Teheran To Yokohama" ***

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AROUND THE WORLD ON A BICYCLE

        Volume II.

From Teheran To Yokohama

By Thomas Stevens



CONTENTS.

           CHAPTER I.                               PAGE
THE START FROM TEHERAN,  ........                   1

           CHAPTER II.
PERSIA AND THE MESHED PILGRIM ROAD, ......          34

           CHAPTER III.
PERSIA AND THE MESHED PILGRIM ROAD,......           43

           CHAPTER IV.
THROUGH KHORASSAN,..........                        65

           CHAPTER V.
MESHED THE HOLY,..........                          84

           CHAPTER VI.
THE UNBEATEN TRACKS Of KHORASSAN,......             109

           CHAPTER VII.
BEERJAND AND THE FRONTIER OF AFGHANISTAN, .. ..     135

           CHAPTER VIII
ACROSS THE "DESERT OF DESPAIR,".......              160

           CHAPTER  IX.
AFGHANISTAN,............                            181

           CHAPTER X.
ARRESTED AT FURRAH,.........                        197

           CHAPTER XI.
UNDER ESCORT TO HERAT,.........                     209

           CHAPTER XII.
TAKEN BACK TO PERSIA,.........                      230

           CHAPTER XIII.
ROUNDABOUT TO INDIA,......                          255

           CHAPTER XIV.
THROUGH INDIA,...........                           284

           CHAPTER XV.
DELHI AND AGRA,..........                           809

           CHAPTER XVI.
FROM AGRA TO SINGAPORE,........                     833

           CHAPTER XVII.
THROUGH CHINA,...........                           365

           CHAPTER XVIII.
DOWN THE KAN-KIANG VALLEY,........                  400

           CHAPTER XIX.
THROUGH JAPAN,............                          432

           CHAPTER XX.
THE HOME STRETCH,..........                         451



CAMBRIDGE, MASS., April 10, 1887.



FROM TEHERAN TO YOKOHAMA.



CHAPTER I.

THE START FROM TEHERAN.

The season of 1885-86 has been an exceptionally mild winter in the
Persian capital. Up to Christmas the weather was clear and bracing,
sufficiently cool to be comfortable in the daytime, and with crisp,
frosty weather at night. The first snow of the season commenced falling
while a portion of the English colony were enjoying a characteristic
Christmas dinner of roast-beef and plum-pudding, at the house of the
superintendent of the Indo-European Telegraph Station, and during January
and February, snow-storms, cold and drizzling rains alternated with brief
periods of clearer weather. When the sun shines from a cloudless sky in
Teheran, its rays are sometimes uncomfortably warm, even in midwinter; a
foot of snow may have clothed the city and the surrounding plain in a
soft, white mantle during the night, but, asserting his supremacy on the
following morning, he will unveil the gray nakedness of the stony plain
again by noon. The steadily retreating snow line will be driven back-back
over the undulating foot-hills, and some little distance up the rugged
slopes of the Elburz range, hard by, ere he retires from view in the
evening, rotund and fiery. This irregular snow-line has been steadily
losing ground, and retreating higher and higher up the mountain-slopes
during the latter half of February, and when March is ushered in, with
clear sunny weather, and the mud begins drying up and the various
indications of spring begin to put in their appearance, I decide to make
a start. Friends residing here who have been mentioning April 15th as the
date I should be justified in thinking the unsettled weather at an end
and pulling out eastward again, agree, in response to my anxious
inquiries, that it is an open spell of weather before the regular spring
rains, that may possibly last until I reach Meshed.

During the winter I have examined, as far as circumstances have
permitted, the merits and demerits of the different routes to the Pacific
Coast, and have decided upon going through Turkestan and Southern Siberia
to the Amoor Valley, and thence either follow down the valley to
Vladivostok or strike across Mongolia to Pekin--the latter route by
preference, if upon reaching Irkutsk I find it to be practicable; if not
practicable, then the Amoor Valley route from necessity. This route I
approve of, as it will not only take me through some of the most
interesting country in Asia, but will probably be a more straightaway
continuous land-journey than any other. The distance from Teheran to
Vladivostok is some six thousand miles, and, well aware that six thousand
miles with a bicycle over Asiatic roads is a task of no little magnitude,
I at once determine upon taking advantage of the fair March weather to
accomplish at least the first six hundred miles of the journey between
Teheran and Meshed, one of the holy cities of Persia.

The bicycle is in good trim, my own health is splendid, my experience of
nearly eight thousand miles of straightaway wheeling over the roads of
three continents ought to count for something, and it is with every
confidence of accomplishing my undertaking without serious misadventure
that I set about making my final preparations to start. The British
Charge d'Affaires gives me a letter to General Melnikoff, the Russian
Minister at the Shah's court, explaining the nature and object of my
journey, and asking him to render me whatever assistance he can to get
through, for most of the proposed route lies through Russian territory.
Among my Teheran friends is Mr. M------, a lively, dapper
little telegraphist, who knows three or four different languages, and who
never seems happier than when called upon to act the part of interpreter
for friends about him.

Among other distinguishing qualities, Mr. M------shines in
Teheran society as the only Briton with sufficient courage to wear a
chimney-pot hat. Although the writer has seen the "stove-pipe" of the
unsuspecting tenderfoot from the Eastern States made short work of in a
far Western town, and the occurrence seemed scarcely to be out of place
there, I little expected to find popular sentiment running in the same
warlike groove, and asserting itself in the same destructive manner in
the little English community at Teheran. Such, however, is the grim fact,
and I have ventured to think that after this there is no disputing the
common destiny of us Anglo-Saxons, whatever clime, country, or government
may at present claim us as its own. Having seen this unfortunate
headgear of our venerable and venerated forefathers shot as full of
holes as a colander in the West, I come to the East only to find it
subjected to similar indignities here. I happen to be present at the
wanton destruction of Mr. M------'s second or third importation from
England, see it taken ruthlessly from his head, thrust through and
through with a sword-stick, and then made to play the unhappy and
undignified part of a football so long as there is anything left to kick
at. More than our common language, methinks--more than common customs and
traditions--more than all those characteristic traits that distinguish us
in common, and at the same time also distinguish us from all other
peoples--more than anything else, does this mutual spirit of
destructiveness, called into play by the sight of a stove-pipe hat, prove
the existence of a strong, resistless undercurrent of sympathy that is
carrying the most distant outposts of Anglo-Saxony merrily down the
stream of time together, to some particular end; perchance a glorious
end, perchance an ignominious end, but certainly to an end that will not
wear a stove-pipe hat.

Mr. M------'s linguistic accomplishments include a fair
knowledge of Russian, and he readily accompanies me to the Russian
Legation to interpret. The Russian Legation is situated down in the old
Oriental quarter (birds of a feather, etc.) of the city, and, for us at
least, necessitated the employment of a guide to find it. On the way
down, Mr. M------, who prides himself on a knowledge of
Russian character, impresses upon me his assurance that General Melnikoff
will turn out to be a nice, pleasant sort of a gentleman. "All the
better-class Russians are delightfully jolly and agreeable, much more
agreeable to have dealings with than the same class of people of any
other country," he says, and with these favorable comments we reach the
legation and send up my letter. After waiting what we both consider an
unnecessarily long time in the vestibule, a full-faced, sensual-looking,
or, in other words, well-to-do Persian-looking individual, in the full
costume of a Persian nobleman, comes out, bearing my letter unopened in
his hand. Bestowing upon us a barely perceptible nod, he walks straight
on past, jumps into a carriage at the door, and is driven off.

Mr. M------looks nonplussed at me, and I suppose I looked
equally nonplussed at him; anyhow, he proceeds to relieve his feelings in
language anything but complimentary to the Russian Minister. He's
the--well, I've met scores of Russians, but--him, queer! I
never saw a Russian act half as queer as this before, never!"

"Small prospect of getting any assistance from this quarter," I suggest.

"Seems deucedly like it," assents Mr. M------. "I said,
just now, that, being a Russian, he was sure to be courteous and
agreeable, if nothing else; but it seems as if there are exceptions to
this rule as to others;" and, talking together, we try to find
consolation in the thought that he may be merely eccentric, and turn out
a very good sort of fellow after all. While thus commenting, a liveried
servant presents himself and motions for us to follow him in the wake of
the departing carriage. Following his guidance a short distance through
the streets, he leads us into the court-yard of a splendid Persian
mansion, delivers us into the charge of another liveried servant, who
conducts us up a broad flight of marble stairs, at the top of which he
delivers us into the hands of yet a third flunky, who now escorts us into
the most gorgeously mirrored room it has ever been my fortune to see. The
apartment is perfectly dazzling in its glittering splendor; the floor is
of highly polished marble, the walls consist of mirror-work entirely, as
also does the lofty, domed ceiling; not plain, large squares of
looking-glass, but mirrored surfaces of all shapes and sizes, pitched at
every conceivable angle, form niches, panels, and geometrical designs--yet
each separate piece plays well its part in working out the harmonious and
decidedly pretty effect of the whole. All the furniture the large
apartment boasts is a crimson-and-gold divan or two, a few strips of rich
carpet, and an ebony stand-table, inlaid with mother-of-pearl; but
suspended from the ceiling are several magnificent cut-glass chandeliers.
At night, when these Persian mirrored rooms are lit up, they present a
scene of barbaric splendor well calculated to delight the eye of the
sumptuous Oriental; every tiny square of glass reflects a point of light,
and every larger one reproduces a chandelier; for every lamp he lights,
the Persian voluptuary finds himself surrounded by a thousand.

Seated on a divan toward one end of this splendid room, with an open box
of cigarettes before him, is the man who a few minutes ago passed us by
on the other side and drove off in his carriage. Offering us cigarettes,
he bids us be seated, and then, in very fair English (for he has once
been Persian Minister to England), introduces himself as "Nasr-i-Mulk,"
the Shah's Minister for Foreign Affairs; the same gentleman, it will be
remembered, to whom I was introduced on the morning of my appearance
before the Shah. (Vol. I.) I readily recognize him now, and he recognizes
me, and asks me when I am going to leave Teheran; but in the gloomy
vestibule of the other palace, my own memory of his face and figure was
certainly at fault. It turns out, after all, that the wretch whom we paid
to guide us to the Russian Legation, in his ignorance guided us into the
Persian Foreign Office.

"I knew--yes, dash it all! I knew he wasn't the Russian Minister the
moment I saw him," says Mr. M------as we take our departure from the
glittering room. His confidence in his knowledge of Russian character,
which a moment ago had dropped down to zero, revives wonderfully upon
discovering our ludicrous mistake, and, small as he is, it is all I can
do to keep up with him as we follow the guide Nasr-i-Mulk has kindly sent
to show us to the Russian Legation. A few minutes' walk brings us to our
destination, where we find, in the person of General Melnikoff, a
gentleman possessing the bland and engaging qualities of a good
diplomatist in a most eminent degree.

"Which is Mr. Stevens?" he exclaims, with something akin to enthusiasm,
as he advances almost to the door to meet us, his face fairly beaming
with pleasure; and, grasping me warmly by the hand, he proceeds to
express his great satisfaction at meeting a person, who had "made so
wonderful a journey," etc., etc., and etc. Never did Mr. Pickwick beam
more pleasantly at the deaf gentleman, or regard more benignantly Master
Humphrey's clock, than the Russian Minister regards the form and features
of one whom, he says, he feels "honored to meet." For several minutes we
discuss, through the medium of Mr. M------, my journey from San Francisco
to Teheran, and its proposed continuation to the Pacific; and during the
greater part, of the interview General Melnikoff holds me quite
affectionately by the hand. "Wonderful!" he says, "wonderful! nobody ever
made half such a remarkable journey; my whole heart will go with you
until your journey is completed."

Mr. M------looks on and interprets between us, with a fixed and confident
didn't-I-tell-you-so smile, that forms a side study of no mean quality.
"There will be no trouble about getting permission to go through
Turkestan?" I feel constrained to inquire; for such excessive display of
affection and bonhommie on the Russian diplomat's part could scarce fail
to arouse suspicions. "Oh dear, no!" he replies. "Oh dear, no! I will
telegraph to General Komaroff, at Askabad, to remove all obstacles, so
that nothing shall interfere with your progress." Having received this
positive assurance, we take our leave, Mr. M-------reminding me gleefully
of what he had said about the Russians being the most agreeable people on
earth, and the few remaining clouds of doubt about getting the road
through Turkestan happily dissipated by the Russian Minister's assurances
of assistance.

Searching through the bazaar, I succeed, after some little trouble, in
finding and purchasing a belt-full of Russian gold, sufficient to carry
me clear through to Japan; and on the morning of March 10th I bid
farewell to the Persian capital, well satisfied at the outlook ahead.
While packing up my traps on the evening before starting, it begins
raining for the first time in ten days; but it clears off again before
midnight, and the morning opens bright and promising as ever. Six members
of the telegraph staff have determined to accompany me out to
Katoum-abad, the first chapar-station on the Meshed pilgrim road, a
distance of seven farsakhs. "Hodge-podge," the cook, and Meshedi Ali, the
gholam, were sent ahead yesterday with plenty of substantial refreshments
and sun-dry mysterious black bottles--for it is the intention of the
party to remain at Katoum-abad overnight, and give me a proper send-off
from that point to-morrow morning.

Some little delay is occasioned by a difficulty in meeting the fastidious
tastes of some of the party as regards saddle-horses; but there is no
particular hurry, and ten o'clock finds me bowling briskly through the
suburbs toward the Doshan Tepe gate, with four Englishmen, an Irishman,
and a Welshman cantering merrily along on horseback behind.

"Khuda rail pak Kumad!" (May God sweep your road!), All Akbar had
exclaimed as I mounted at the door, and as we pass through the city gate
the old sentinel, when told that I am at last starting on the promised
journey to Meshed on the asp-i-awhan, supplements this with "Padaram
daromad!" (My father has come out!), a Persian metaphorical exclamation,
signifying that such wonderful news has had the effect of calling his
father from the grave.

The weather has changed again since early morning; it is evidently in a
very fitful and unsettled mood; the gray clouds are swirling in confusion
about the white summit of Demavend as we emerge on the level plain
outside the ramparts, and fleecy fugitives are scudding southward in wild
haste. Imperfect but ridable donkey-trails follow the dry moat around to
the Meshed road, which takes a straight course southeastward from the
city and is seen in the distance ahead, leading over a sloping pass, a
depression in the Doshan Tepe spur of the Elburz range. The road near the
city is now in better condition for wheeling than at any other time of
the year; the daily swarms of pack-animals bringing produce into Teheran
have trodden it smooth and hard during the ten days' continuous fine
weather, while it has not been dry sufficiently long to develop into
dust, as it does later in the season. Our road is level and good for
something over a farsakh, after which comes the rising ground leading
gently upward to the pass. The gradient is sufficiently gentle to be
ridable for some little distance, when it becomes too rocky and steep,
and I have to dismount and trundle to the summit. The summit of the pass
is only about nine miles from the city walls, and we pause a minute to
investigate a bottle of homemade wine from the private cellar of Mr.
North, one of our party, and to allow me to take a farewell glance at
Teheran, and the many familiar objects round about, ere riding down the
eastern slope and out of sight.

Teheran is in semi-obscurity beneath the same hazy veil observed when
first approaching it from the west, and which always seems to hover over
it. This haziness is not sufficiently pronounced to hide any conspicuous
building, and each familiar object in the city is plainly visible from
the commanding summit of the pass. The different gates of the city, each
with its little cluster of bright-tiled minars, trace at a glance the
size and contour of the outer ditch and wall; the large framework of the
pavilion beneath which the Shah gives his annual tazzia (representation
of the religious tragedy of Hussein and Hassan), denuded of its canvas
covering, suggests from this distance the naked ribs of some monster
skeleton. The square towers of the royal anderoon--which the Shah
professes to believe is the tallest dwelling-house in the
world--loom conspicuously skyward above the mass of indefinable mud
buildings and walls that characterize the habitations of humbler folk,
but perhaps happier on the whole than the fair occupants of that
seven-storied gilded prison.

Hundreds of women-wives, concubines, slaves, and domestics are understood
to be dwelling within these palace walls in charge of sable eunuchs, and
the fate of any female whose bump of discretion in an evil moment fails
her, is to be hurled headlong from the summit of one of the anderoon
towers--such, at least, is the popular belief in Teheran; it may or
may not be an exaggeration. Some even assert that the Shah's chief object
in building the anderoon so high was to have the certainty of this awful
doom ever present before its numerous inmates, the more easily to keep
them in a submissive frame of mind. Off to the right, below our position,
is the Doshan Tepe palace, a memorable spot for me, where I had the
satisfaction of first introducing bicycle-riding to the notice of the
Persian monarch. Off to the left, the Parsee "tower of silence" is
observed perched among the lonely gray hills far from human habitation or
any traversed road; on a grating fixed in the top of this tower, the
Guebre population of Teheran deposit their dead, in order that the
carrion-crows and the vultures may pick the carcass clean before they
deposit the whitened bones in the body of the tower.

Having duly investigated the bottle of wine and noticed these few
familiar objects, we all remount and begin the descent. It is a gentle
declivity from top to bottom, and ridable the whole distance, save where
an occasional washout or other small obstacle compels a dismount. The
wind is likewise favorable, and from the top of the pass the bicycle
outdistances the horsemen, except two who are riding exceptionally good
nags and make a special effort to keep up; and at two o'clock we arrive
at Katoum-abad. Katoum-abad consists of a small mud village and a
half-ruined brick caravansarai; in one of the rooms of the latter we find
"Hodge-podge" and Me-shedi Ali, with an abundance of roast chickens, cold
mutton, eggs, and the before-mentioned mysterious black bottles.

The few Persian travellers in the caravansarai and the villagers come
flocking around as usual to worry me about riding the bicycle, but the
servants drive them away in short order. "We want to see the sahib ride
the aap-i-awhan," they explain,-no doubt thinking their request most
natural and reasonable. "The sahib won't let you see it, nor ride on it
this evening," reply the servants; and, given to understand that we won't
put up with their importunities, they worry us no more. "Oh, that I could
get rid of them thus readily always!" I mentally exclaim; for I feel
instinctively that the farther east I get, the more wretchedly worrying
and inquisitive I shall find the people. We arrive hungry and thirsty,
and in condition to do ample justice to the provisions at hand. After
satisfying the pressing needs of hunger, we drink several appropriate
toasts from the contents of the mysterious black bottles--toasts for the
success of my journey, and to the bicycle that has stood by me so well
thus far on my journey, and promises to stand by me equally as well for
the future.

About four o'clock two of the company, who have been thoughtful enough to
bring shotguns along, sally forth in quest of ducks. They come plodding
wearily back again shortly after dark, without any game, but with deep
designs on the credulity of the non-sporting members of the company. In
reply to the general and stereotyped query, "Shoot anything?" one of the
erring pair replies, "Yes, we shot several canvas-backs, but lost them in
the reeds; didn't we, old un?" "Yes, five," promptly asserts "old un," a
truthful young man of about three-and-twenty summers. After this, the
silence for the space of a minute is so profound that we can hear each
other think, until one of the company, acting as spokesman for the silent
reflections of the others, inquires, "Anybody know of any reeds about
Katoum-abad?" Some one is about to reply, but sportsman No. 1 artfully
waives further examination by heaping imprecations on the unkempt head of
a dervish, who at this opportune moment commences a sing-song monotone,
in a most soul-harrowing key, outside our menzil doorway.

A slight drizzling rain is falling when the early riser of the company
wakes up and peeps out at daybreak next morning, but it soon ceases, and
by seven o'clock the ground is quite dry. The road for a mile or so is
too lumpy to admit of mounting, as is frequently the case near a village,
and my six companions accompany me to ridable ground. As I mount and
wheel away, they wave hats and send up three ringing cheers and a
"tiger," hurrahs that roll across the gray Persian plain to the echoing
hills, the strangest sound, perhaps, these grim old hills have ever
echoed; certainly, they never before echoed an English cheer.

And now, as my friends of the telegraph staff turn about and wend their
way back to Teheran, is as good a time as any to mention briefly the
manner in which these genial lightning-jerkers assisted to render my five
months' sojourn in the Persian capital agreeable. But a few short hours
after my arrival in Teheran, I was sought out by Messrs. Meyrick and
North, who no sooner learned of my intention to winter here, than they
extended a cordial invitation to join them in their already established
bachelors' quarters, where four disconsolate halves of humanity were
already messing harmoniously together. With them I took up my quarters,
and, under the liberal and wholesome gastronomic arrangements of the
establishment, soon acquired my usual semi-embon-point condition, and
recovered from that gaunt, hungry appearance that the hardships and scant
fare of the journey from Constantinople had imparted. The house belonged
to Mr. North, and he managed to give me a little room to myself for
literary work, and, under the influence of a steady stream of letters and
papers from friends and well-wishers in England and America, that snug
little apartment, with a round, moon-like hole in the thick mud wall for
a window, soon acquired the den-like aspect that seems inseparable from
the occupation of distributing ink.

Three native servants cooked for us, waited on us, turned up missing when
wanted for anything particular, cheated us and each other, swore eternal
honesty and fidelity to our faces, called us infidel dogs and pedar sags
behind our backs, quarrelled daily among themselves over their modokal
(legitimate pickings and stealings--ten per cent, on everything
passing through their hands), and meekly bore with any abuse bestowed
gratuitously upon them, for an aggregate of one hundred and thirty kerans
a month--and, of course, their modokal. Some enterprising members of
the colony had formed themselves into a club, and imported a
billiard-table from England; this, also, was installed in Mr. North's
house, and it furnished the means for many an hour of pleasant diversion.
Like all Persian houses, the house was built around a square court-yard.
Mr. North had also a pair of small white bull-dogs, named, respectively,
"Crib" and "Swindle." The last-named animal furnished us with quite an
exciting episode one February evening. He had been acting rather
strangely for two or three days; we thought that one of the servants had
been giving him a dose of bhang in revenge for having worried his kitten,
and that he would soon recover; but on this particular day, when out for
a run with his owner, his strange behavior took the form of leaping
impulsively at Mr. North, and, with seemingly wild frolic, seizing and
shaking his garments. When Mr. North returned home he took the
precautionary measure of chaining him up in the yard. Shortly afterward,
I came in from my customary evening walk, and, all unconscious of the
change in his behavior, went up to him; with a half-playful, half-savage
spring he seized the leg of my trousers, and, with an evidently
uncontrollable impulse, shook a piece clean out of it. He became
gradually worse as the evening wore away; the wild expression of his eyes
developed in an alarming manner; he would try to get at any person who
showed himself, and he made night hideous with the fearful barking howl
of a mad dog. Poor Swindle had gone mad; and I had had a narrow escape
from being bitten. We lassoed him from opposite directions and dragged
him outside and shot him. Swindle was a plucky little dog, and so was
Crib; one day they chased a vagrant cat up on to the roof; driven to
desperation, the cat made a wild leap down into the court-yard, a
distance of perhaps twenty feet; without a moment's hesitation, both dogs
sprang boldly after her, recking little of the distance to the ground and
the possibility of broken bones.

Sometimes the colony drives dull care and ennui away by indulging in
private theatricals; this winter they organized an amateur company,
called themselves the "Teheran Bulbuls," and, with burnt-corked faces and
grotesque attire, they rehearsed and perfected themselves in "Uncle
Ebenezer's Visit to New York," which, together with sundry duets, solos,
choruses, etc., they proposed to give, an entertainment for the benefit
of the poor of the city. When the Shah returned from Europe, he was moved
by what he had seen there to build a small theatre; the theatre was
built, but nothing is ever done with it. The Teheran Bulbuls applied for
its use to give their entertainment in, and the Shah was pleased to grant
their request. The mollahs raised objections; they said it would have a
tendency to corrupt the morals of the Persians. Once, twice, the
entertainment was postponed; but the Shah finally overruled the bigoted
priests' objections, and "Uncle Ebenezer's Visit to New York" was played
twice in Nasr-e-Deen's little gilded theatre a few days after I left,
with great success; the first night, before the Shah and his nobles and
the foreign ambassadors, and the second night before more common folk.
The two postponements and my early departure prevented me from being on
hand as prompter. The winter before, these dusky-faced "bul-buls" had
performed before a Teheran audience, and one who was a member at that
time tells an amusing story of the individual who acted as prompter on
that occasion. One of the performers appeared on the stage sufficiently
charged with stage-fright to cause him to entirely forget his piece.
Expecting every moment to get the cue from the prompter's box, what was
his horror to hear, after waiting what probably seemed to him about an
hour, instead of the cue, in a hoarse whisper that could be distinctly
heard all over the room, the comforting remark, "I say, Charlie, I've
lost the blooming place!"

The American missionaries have a small chapel in Teheran, and on Sunday
morning we sometimes used to go; the little congregation gathered there
was composed of strange elements collected together from far-off places.
From Colonel F ______, the grizzled military adventurer, now in the
Shah's service, and who was also with Maximilian in Mexico, to the young
American lady who is said to have turned missionary and come,
broken-hearted, to the distant East because her lover had died a few days
before they were to be married, they are an audience of people each with
a more or less adventurous history. It is perfectly natural that it
should be so; it is the irrepressible spirit of adventure that is either
directly or indirectly responsible for their presence here.

Half an hour after the echoes of the three cheers and the "tiger" have
died away finds me wet-footed and engaged in fording a series of
aggravating little streams, that obstruct my path so frequently that to
stop and shed one's foot-gear for each soon becomes an intolerable
nuisance. I should think I can lay claim, without exaggeration, to
crossing fifty of these streams inside of ten miles. A good-sized stream
emerges from the Elburz foot-hills; after reaching the plain it follows
no regular channel, but spreads out like an open fan into a gradually
widening area of small streams, that play their part in irrigating a few
scattering fields and gardens, and are then lost in the sands of the
desert to the south. Situated where it can derive the most benefit from
these streams is the village of Sherifabad, and beyond Sherifabad
stretches a verdureless waste to Aivan-i-Kaif. On this desert, I sit
down, for a few minutes, on one of those little mounds of stones piled up
at intervals to mark the road when the trail is buried beneath the winter
snows; a green-turbaned descendant of the Prophet, bestriding a bay
horse, comes from the opposite direction, stops, dismounts, squats down
on his hams close by, and proceeds to regale himself with bread and figs,
meanwhile casting fugitive glances at the bicycle. Presently he advances
closer, gives me a handful of figs, squats down closer to the bicycle,
and commences a searching investigation of its several parts.

"Where are you going?" he finally asks. "Meshed."  "Where have you come
from?" "Teheran." With that he hands me another handful of figs,
remounts his horse, and rides away without another word. Inquisitiveness
is seen almost bristling from the loose sleeves and flowing folds of his
sky-blue gown, but his over-whelming sense of his own holiness forbids
him holding anything like a lengthy intercourse with an unhallowed
Ferenghi, and, much as he would like to know everything about the
bicycle, he goes away without asking a single question about it.

Shortly after parting company with the sanctimonious seyud, I encounter a
prosperous-looking party of dervishes. Some of them are mounted on
excellent donkeys, and for dervishes they look exceptionally flourishing
and well to do. As I ride slowly past, they accost me with their
customary "huk yah huk," and promise to pray Allah for a safe journey to
wherever I am going, if I will only favor them with the necessary
backsheesh to command their good offices.

There are some stretches of very good road across this desert, and I
reach Aivan-i-Kaif near noon. There has been no drinkable water for a
long distance, and, being thirsty, my first inquiry is for tea. "There is
a tchai-khan at the umbar (water-cistern), yonder," I am told, and
straightway proceed to the place pointed out; but "tchai-khan neis" is
the reply upon inquiring at the umbar. In this manner am I promptly
initiated into one peculiarity of the people along this portion of the
Meshed pilgrim road, a peculiarity that distinguishes them from the
ordinary Persian as fully as the shaking of their heads for an
affirmative reply does the people of the Maritza Valley from other people
of the Balkan Peninsula. They will frequently ask you if you want a
certain article, simply for the purpose of telling you they haven't got
it. Whether this queer inconsistency comes of simon-pure inquisitiveness,
to hear what one will say in reply, or whether they derive a certain
amount of inquisitorial pleasure from raising a person's expectations one
moment so as to witness his disappointment the next, is a question I
prefer to leave to others, but more than once am I brought into contact
with this peculiarity during the few brief hours I stay at Aivan-i-Kaif.
It is not improbable that these people are merely carrying their ideas of
politeness to the insane length of holding out the promise of what they
think or ascertain one wants, knowing at the same time their inability to
supply it.

It is threatening rain as I pick my way through a mile or so of mud
ruins, tumble-down walls, and crooked paths, leading from the umbar to
the house of the Persian telegraph-jee, who has been requested, from
Teheran, to put me up, and, in view of the threatening aspect of the
weather, I conclude to remain till morning. The English Government has
taken charge of the Teheran and Meshed telegraph-line, during the
delimitation of the Afghan and Turkestan boundary, and, besides
guaranteeing the native telegraph-jees their regular salary-which is not
always forthcoming from the Persian Government-they pay them something
extra. In consequence of this, the telegraph-jees are at present very
favorably disposed toward Englishmen, and Mirza Hassan readily tenders me
the hospitality of the little mud office where he amuses himself daily
clicking the keys of his instrument, smoking kalians, drinking tea, and
entertaining his guests. Mr. Mclntire and Mr. Stagno are somewhere
between here and Meshed, inspecting and repairing the line for the
English Government, for they received it from the Persians in a wretched,
tumble-down condition, and Mr. Gray, telegraphist for the Afghan Boundary
Commission, is stationed temporarily at Meshed, so that, thanks to the
boundary troubles, I am pretty certain of meeting three Europeans on the
first six hundred miles of my journey.

Mirza Hassan is hospitable and well meaning, but, like most Persians, he
is slow about everything but asking questions. Being a telegraph-jee, he
is, of course, a comparatively enlightened mortal, and, among other
things, he is acquainted with the average Englishman's partiality for
beer. One of the first questions he asks, is whether I want any beer. It
strikes me at once as a rather strange question to be asked in a Persian
village, but, thinking he might perchance have had a bottle or two left
here by one of the above-mentioned telegraph-inspectors, I signify my
willingness to sample a little. True to the peculiar inconsistency of his
fellows, he replies: "Ob-i-jow neis" (beer, no). If he hasn't ob-i-jow,
however, he has tea, and in about an hour after my arrival he produces
the samovar, a bowl of sugar, and the tiny glasses in which tea is always
served in Persia.

Visitors begin dropping in as usual, and, before long, hundreds of
villagers are swarming about the telegraph-khana, anxious to see me ride.
It is coming on to rain, but, in order to rid the telegraph-office of the
crowd, I take the bicycle out. Willing men carry both me and the bicycle
across a stream that runs through the village, to smooth ground on the
opposite side, where I ride back and forth several times, to the wild and
boisterous delight of the entire population.

In this manner I succeed in ridding the telegraph-office of the crowd;
but there is no getting rid of the visitors. Everybody in the place who
thinks himself a little better than the ragamuffin ryots comes and squats
on his hams in the little hut-like office, sips the telegraph-jee's
sweetened tea, smokes his kalians, and spends the afternoon in staring
wonderingly at me and the bicycle. Having picked up a little Persian
during the winter, I am able to talk with them, and understand them,
rather better than last season, and, Persian-like, they ply me
mercilessly with questions. Often, when some one asks a question of me,
Mirza Hassan, as becomes a telegraphies, and a person of profound
erudition, thoughtfully saves me the trouble of replying by undertaking
to furnish the desired information himself. One old mollah wants to know
how many farsakhs it is from Aivan-i-Kaif to Yenghi Donia (New
World-America); ere I can frame a suitable reply, Mirza Hassan forestalls
my intentions by answering, in a decisive tone of voice that admits of no
appeal, "Khylie!" "Khylie" is a handy word that the Persians always fall
back on when their knowledge of great numbers or long distances is vague
and shadowy; it is an indefinite term, equivalent to our word "many."
Mirza Hassan does not know whether America is two hundred farsakhs away
or two thousand, but he knows it to be "khylie farsakhs," and that is
perfectly satisfactory to himself, and the white-turbaned questioner is
perfectly satisfied with "khylie" for an answer.

A person from the New World is naturally a rara avis with the simple
villagers of Aivan-i-Kaif, and their inquisitiveness concerning Yenghi
Donia and Yenghi Donians fairly runs riot, and shapes itself into all
manner of questions. They want to know whether the people smoke kalians
and ride horses--real horses, not asps-i-awhans-in Yenghi Donia, and
whether the Valiat smoked the kalian with me at Hadji Agha. Mirza Hassan
explains about the kalian and horses; he enlightens his wondering
auditors to the extent that Yenghi Donians smoke nargilehs and chibouques
instead of kalians, and he contemptuously pooh-poohs the idea of them
keeping riding-horses when they are clever enough to make iron horses
that require nothing to eat or drink and no rest. About the question of
the Heir Apparent smoking the kalian with me he betrays as lively an
interest as anybody in the room, but he maintains a discreet silence
until I answer in the negative, when he surveys his guests with the air
of one who pities their ignorance, and says, "Kalian neis."

A lusty-lunged youngster of about three summers has been interrupting the
genial flow of conversation by making "Rome howl" in an adjoining room,
and Mirza Hassan fetches him in and consoles him with sundry lumps of
sugar. The advent of the limpid-eyed toddler leads the thoughts and
questions of the company into more domestic channels. After exhaustive
questioning about my own affairs, Mirza Hassan, with more than
praiseworthy frankness and becoming gravity, informs me that, besides the
embryo telegraphjee and sugar-consumer in the room, he is the happy
father of "yek nim" (one and a half others). I cast my eye around the
room at this extraordinary announcement, expecting to find the company
indulging in appreciative smiles, but every person in the room is as
sober as a judge; plainly, I am the only person present who regards the
announcement as anything uncommon.

After an ample supper of mutton pillau, Mirza Hassan proceeds to say his
prayers, borrowing my compass to get the proper bearings for Mecca, which
I have explained to him during the afternoon. With no little dismay he
discovers that, according to my explanations, he has for years been
bobbing his head daily several degrees east of the holy city, and, like a
sensible fellow, and a person who has become convinced of the
infallibility of telegraph instruments, compasses, and kindred aids to
the accomplishment of human ends, he now rectifies the mistake.

Everybody along this route uses a praying-stone, a small cake of stone or
hardened clay, containing an inscription from the Koran. These
praying-stones are obtained from the sacred soil of Meshed, Koom, or
Kerbela, and are placed in position on the ground in front of the
kneeling devotee during his devotions, so that, instead of touching his
forehead to the carpet or the common ground of his native village, he can
bring it in contact with the hallowed soil of one of these holy cities.
Distance lends enchantment to a holy place, and adds to the efficacy of a
prayer-stone in the eyes of its owner, and they are valued highly or
lightly according to the distance and the consequent holiness of the city
they are brought from. For example, a Meshedi values a prayer-stone from
Kerbela, and a Kerbeli values one from Meshed, neither of them having
much faith in the efficacy of one from his own city; familiarity with
sacred things apparently breeds doubts and indifference. The prayer-stone
is reverently touched to lips, cheeks, and forehead at the finish of
prayers, and then carefully wrapped up and stowed away until praying-time
comes round again. To a sceptical and perhaps irreverent observer, these
praying-stones would seem to bear about the same relation to a pilgrimage
to Meshed or Kerbela as a package of prepared sea-salt does to a season
at the sea-side.



CHAPTER II.

PERSIA AND THE MESHED PILGRIM ROAD

It rains quite heavily during the night, but clears off again in the
early morning, and at eight o'clock I take my departure, Mirza Hassan
refusing to allow his son and heir to accept a present in acknowledgment
of the hospitality received at his hands. The whole male population of
the village is assembled again at the spot where their experience of
yesterday has taught them I should probably mount; and the house-tops
overlooking the same spot, and commanding a view of the road across the
plain to the eastward, are crowded with women and children. The female
portion of my farewell audience present quite a picturesque appearance,
being arrayed in their holiday garments of red, blue, and other bright
colors, in honor of Friday, the Mohammedan Sabbath.

Pour miles of most excellent camel-path lead across a gravelly plain,
affording a smooth, firm, wheeling surface, notwithstanding the heavy
rains of the previous night; but beyond the plain the road leads over the
pass of the Sardara Kooh, one of the many spurs of the Elburz range that
reach out toward the south. This spur consists of saline hills that
present a very remarkable appearance in places; the rocks are curiously
honey-combed by the action of the salt, and the yellowish earthy portion
of the hills are fantastically streaked and seamed with white. A trundle
of a couple of miles brings me to the summit, from which point I am able
to mount, and, with brake firmly in hand, glide smoothly down the eastern
slope. After descending about a mile, I am met by a party of travellers
who give me friendly warning of deep water a little farther down the
mountain. After leaving them, my road follows down the winding bed of a
stream that is probably dry the greater part of the year; but during the
spring thaws, and immediately after a rain-storm, a stream of brackish,
muddy water a few inches deep trickles down the mountain and forms a most
disagreeable area of sticky salt mud at the bottom. The streak this
morning can more truthfully be described as yellow liquid mud than as
water, and both myself and wheel present anything but a prepossessing
appearance in ten minutes after starting down its grimy channel. I am,
however, congratulating myself upon finding it so shallow, and begin to
think that, in describing the water as nearly over their donkeys' backs,
the travellers were but indulging their natural propensity as subjects of
the Shah, and worthy followers in the footsteps of Ananias.

About the time I have arrived at this comforting conclusion, I am
suddenly confronted by a pond of liquid mud that bars my farther progress
down the mountain. A recent slide of land and rock has blocked up the
narrow channel of the stream, and backed up the thick yellow liquid into
a pool of uncertain depth. There is no way to get around it;
perpendicular walls of rock and slippery yellow clay rise sheer from the
water on either side. There is evidently nothing for it but to disrobe
without more ado and try the depth. Besides being thick with mud, the
water is found to be of that icy, cutting temperature peculiar to cold
brine, and after wading about in it for fifteen minutes, first finding a
fordable place, and then carrying clothes and wheel across, I emerge on
to the bank formed by the land-slip looking as woebegone a specimen of
humanity as can well be imagined. Plastered with a coat of thin yellow
mud from head to foot, chilled through and through, and shivering like a
Texas steer in a norther, feet cut and bleeding in several places from
contact with the sharp rocks, and no clean water to wash off the mud!
With the assistance of knife, pocket-handkerchief, and sundry theological
remarks which need not be reproduced here, I finally succeed in getting
off at least the greater portion of the mud, and putting on my clothes.
The discomfort is only of temporary duration; the agreeable warmth of the
after-glow exhilarates both mind and body, and with the disappearance of
the difficulty to the rear cornea the satisfaction of having found it no
harder to overcome.

A little good wheeling is encountered toward the bottom of the pass, and
then comes an area of wet salt-flats, interspersed with saline
rivulets--those innocent-looking little streamlets the deceptive clearness
of which tempts the thirsty and uninitiated wayfarer to drink. Few
travellers in desert countries but have been deceived by these
innocuous-looking streamlets once, and equally few are the people who
suffer themselves to be deceived by their smooth, pellucid aspect a
second time; for a mouthful of either strongly saline or alkaline water
from one of them creates an impression on the deceived one's palate and
his mind that guarantees him to be wariness personified for the remainder
of his life. Since a certain experience in the Bitter Creek country,
Wyoming, the writer prides himself on being able to distinguish drinkable
water from the salty or alkaline article almost as far as it can be seen,
and a stream about which the least suspicion is entertained is invariably
tasted with gingerly hesitancy to begin with.

Soon after noon I reach the village of Kishlag, where a halt of an hour
or so is made to refresh the inner man with tea, raw eggs, and
figs--a queer enough bill of fare for dinner, but no more queer than
the people from whom it is obtained. Some of my readers have doubtless
heard of the Milesian waiter who could never be brought to see any
inconsistency in asking the guests of the restaurant whether they would
take tea or coffee, and then telling them there was no tea, they would
have to take coffee. The proprietor of the little tchai-khan at Kishlag
asks me if I want coffee, and then, in strict conformity with the curious
inconsistency first discovered and spoken of at Aivan-i-Kaif, he informs
me that he has nothing but tea. The country hereabout is evidently the
birthplace of Irish bulls; when the ancestors of modern Handy Andys were
running wild on the bogs of Connemara, the people of Aivan-i-Kaif and
Kishlag were indulging in Irish bulls of the first water.

The crowd at Kishlag are good-natured and comparatively well-behaved. In
reply to their questionings, I tell them that I am journeying from Yenghi
Donia to Meshed. The New World is a far-away, shadowy realm to these
ignorant Persian villagers, almost as much out of their little,
unenlightened world as though it were really another planet; they
evidently think that in going to Meshed I am making a pilgrimage to the
shrine of Imam Riza, for some of them commence inquiring whether or no
Yenghi Donians are Mussulmans.

The weather-clerk inaugurates a regular March zephyr in the east, during
the brief halt at Kishlag; and in addition to that doubtful favor blowing
against me, the road leading out is lumpy as far as the cultivated area
extends, and then it leads across a rough, stony plain that is traversed
by a network of small streams, similar to those encountered yesterday at
Sherifabad. To the left, the abutting front of the Elburz Mountains is
streaked and frescoed with salt, that in places vies in whiteness with
the lingering-patches of snow higher up; to the right extends the gray,
level plain, interspersed with small cultivable areas for a farsakh or
two, beyond which lies the great dasht-i-namek (salt desert) that
comprises a large portion of the interior of Persia.

Wild asses abound on the dasht-i-namek, and wandering bands of these
animals occasionally stray up in this direction. The Persians consider
the flesh of the wild donkey as quite a delicacy, and sometimes hunt them
for their meat; they are said to be untamable, unless caught when very
young, and are then generally too slender-limbed to be of any service in
carrying weights. Wild goats abound in the Elburz Mountains; the
villagers hunt them also for their meat, but the flesh of the wild goat
is said to contribute largely to the prevalence of sore eyes among the
people. The Persian will eat wild donkey, wild goat, and the flesh of
camels, but only the very poor people--people who cannot afford to be
fastidious--ever touch a piece of beef; gusht-i-goosfang (mutton) is the
staple meat of the country.

The general aspect of the country immediately south of the Elburz
Mountains, beyond the circumscribed area of cultivation about the
villages, is that of a desert, desolate, verdureless, and forbidding. One
can scarcely realize that by simply crossing this range a beautiful
region is entered, where the prospect is as different as is light from
darkness. An entirely different climate characterizes the Province of
Mazanderan, comprising the northern slopes of these mountains and the
Caspian littoral. With a humid climate the whole year round, and the
entire face of the country covered with dense jungle, the northern slopes
of the Elburz Mountains present a striking contrast to the barren,
salt-frescoed foot-hills facing the south hereabout. Here, as at Resht,
the moisture from the Caspian Sea does for the province of Mazanderan
what similar influences from the Pacific do for California. It makes all
the difference between California and Nevada in the one case, and
Mazanderan and the desert-like character of Central Persia in the other.

In striking and effective contrast to the general aspect of death and
desolation that characterizes the desert wastes of Persia--an effect
that is heightened by the ruins of caravansaries or villages, that are
seldom absent from the landscape--are the cultivated spots around the
villages. Wherever there is a permanent supply of water, there also is
certain to be found a mud-built village, with fields of wheat and barley,
pomegranate orchards, and vineyards. In a country of universal greenness
these would count for nothing, but, situated like islands in the sea of
sombre gray about them, they often present an appearance of extreme
beauty that the wondering observer is somewhat puzzled to account for; it
is the beauty of contrast, the great and striking contrast between
vegetable life and death.

These impressions are nowhere more strongly brought into notice than when
approaching Aradan, a village I reach about five o'clock. Like almost all
Persian towns and villages, Aradan has evidently occupied a much larger
area at one time than it does at present; and the mournful-looking ruins
of mosques, gateways, walls, and houses are scattered here and there over
the plain for a mile before reaching the present limits of habitation.
The brown ruins of a house are seen standing in the middle of a
wheat-field; the wheat is of that intense greenness born of irrigation
and a rich sandy soil, and the mud ruins, dead, desolate, and crumbling
to dust, look even more deserted and mournful from the great contrast in
color, and from the myriad stems of green young life that wave and nod
about them with every passing breeze. The tumble-down windows and
doorways form openings through which the blue sky and the green waving
sea of vegetation beyond are seen as in a picture, and the ruined mud
mosque, its dome gone, its windows and doorways crumbled to shapeless
openings, seems like a weather-beaten skeleton of Persia's past, while
the ever-moving waves of verdant life about it, seem to be beating
against it and persistently assailing it, like waves of the sea beating
against an isolated rock.

While engaged in fording a stream on the stony plain between road. The
shagird-chapar is with them, on a third "bag of bones," worse, if
possible, than the others. Taking the world over, there is perhaps no
class of horses that are, subject to so much cruelty and ill-treatment as
the chapar horses of Persia, With back raw, ribs countable a hundred
yards away, spavined, blind of an eye, fistula, and cursed with every ill
that horseflesh in the hands of human brutes is subject to, the chapar
horse is liable to be taken out at any hour of the day or night,
regardless of previous services being but just finished. He is goaded on
with unsparing lash to the next station, twenty, or perhaps thirty miles
away, staggering beneath the weight of the traveller, or his servant,
with ponderous saddlebags.

This chapar, or post-service, is established along the great highways of
travel between Teheran and Tabreez, Teheran and Meshed, and Teheran and
Bushire, with a branch route from the Tabreez trail to the Caspian port
of Enzeli; the stations vary from four to eight farsakhs apart. Not all
the chapar horses are the wretched creatures just described, however, and
by engaging beforehand the best horses at each station along the route,
certain travellers have made quite remarkable time between points
hundreds of miles apart. In addition to horses for himself and servants,
the traveller is required to pay for one to carry the shagird-chapar who
accompanies them to the next station to bring back the horses. The
ordinary charge is one keran a farsakh for each horse. It wouldn't be a
Persian institution, however, if there wasn't some little underhanded
arrangement on hand to mulct the traveller of something over and above
the legitimate charges. Accordingly, we find two distinct measurements of
distance recognized between each station--the "chapar distance" and the
correct distance. If, for instance, the actual distance is six farsakhs,
the "chapar distance" will be seven, or seven and a half; the difference
between the two is the chapar-jee's modokal; without modokal there is no
question but that a Persian would feel himself to be a miserable,
neglected mortal.

Aradan is another telegraph control station, and Mr. Stagno informs me
that the telegraph-jee is looking forward to my arrival, and is fully
prepared to accommodate me over night; and, furthermore, that all along
the line the people of the telegraph towns are eagerly anticipating the
arrival of the Sahib, with the marvellous vehicle, of which they have
heard such strange stories. Aradan is reached about five o'clock; the
road leading into the village is found excellent wheeling, enabling me to
keep the saddle while following at the heels of a fleet-footed ryot, who
voluntarily guides me to the telegraph-khana. The telegraph-jee is
temporarily absent when I arrive, but his farrash lets me inside the
office yard, spreads a piece of carpet for me to sit on, and with
commendable thoughtfulness shuts out the crowd, who, as usual,
immediately begin to collect. The quickness with which a crowd collects
in a Persian town has to be seen to be fully comprehended. For the space
of half an hour, I sit in solitary state on the carpet, and endure the
wondering gaze and the parrot-like chattering of a thin, long row of
villagers, sitting astride the high mud wall that encloses three sides of
the compound, and during the time find some amusement in watching the
scrambling and quarrelling for position. These irrepressible sight-seers
commenced climbing the wall from the adjoining walls and houses the
moment the farash shut them out of the yard, and in five minutes they are
packed as close as books on a shelf, while others are quarreling noisily
for places; in addition to this, the roof of every building commanding a
view into the chapar-khana compound is swarmed with neck-craning,
chattering people.

Soon the telegraph-jee puts in an appearance; he proves to be an
exceptionally agreeable fellow, and one of the very few Persians one
meets with having blue eyes. He appears to regard it as quite an
understood thing that I am going to remain over night with him, and
proceeds at once to make the necessary arrangements for my accommodation,
without going to the trouble of extending a formal invitation. He also
wins my eternal esteem by discouraging, as far as Persian politeness and
civility will admit, the intrusion of the inevitable self-sufficients who
presume on their "eminent respectability" as loafers, in contradistinction
to the half-naked tillers of the soil, to invade the premises and satisfy
their inordinate curiosity, and their weakness for kalian, smoking and
tea-drinking at another's expense. After duly discussing between us a
samovar of tea, we take a stroll through the village to see the old
castle, and the umbars that supply the village with water. The telegraph-
gee cleared the walls upon his arrival, but the housetops are out of his
jurisdiction, and before starting he wisely suggests putting the bicycle
in some conspicuous position, as an inducement for the crowd to remain
and concentrate their curiosity upon it, otherwise there would be no
keeping them from following us about the village. We set it up in plain
view on the bala-khana, and returning from our walk, are amused to find
the old farrash delivering a lecture on cycling.

The fortress at Aradan is the first one of the kind one sees when
travelling eastward from Teheran, but as we shall come to a larger and
better preserved specimen at Lasgird, in a couple of days, it will,
perhaps, be advisable to postpone a description till then. They are all
pretty much alike, and were all built to serve the same purpose, of
affording shelter and protection from Turkoman raiders. The Aradan umbars
are nothing extraordinary, except perhaps that the conical brick-work
roofs are terraced so that one can walk, like ascending stairs, to the
summit; and perhaps, also, because they are in a good state of repair
--asufficiently unusual thing in a Persian village to merit remark. These
umbars are filled by allowing the water to flow in from a street ditch
connecting with the little stream to which every village owes its
existence; when the umbar is full, a few spadefuls of dirt shut the water
off.

The chief occupation of the Eastern female is undoubtedly carrying water;
the women of Oriental villages impress the observant Occidental, as
people who will carry water-worlds may be created and worlds destroyed;
all things else may change, and habits and costumes become revolutionized
by the march of time, but nothing will prevent the Oriental female from
carrying water, and carrying it in huge earthenware jugs! At any hour of
the day--I won't speak positively about the night--women may be seen
at the unbars filling large earthenware jugs, coming and going, going and
coming. I don't remember ever passing one of these cisterns without
seeing women there, filling and carrying away jars of water. No doubt
there are occasional odd moments when no women are there, but any person
acquainted with village life in the East will not fail to recognize this
as simply the plain, unvarnished truth. As the ditch from which the umbar
is filled not infrequently runs through half the length of the village
first, the personal habits of a Mohammedan population insure that it
reaches the umbar in anything but a fit condition for human consumption.
But the Koran teaches that flowing water cannot be contaminated or
defiled, consequently, when he takes a drink or fills the village
reservoir, your thoroughbred Mussulman never troubles his head about what
is going on up-stream. The Koran is to him a more reliable guide for his
own good than the evidence of all his seven senses combined.

Stagnant pools of water, covered, even this early in the season (March
12th), with green scum, breed fever and mosquitoes galore in Aradan; the
people know it, acknowledge it readily, and suffer from it every summer,
but they take no steps to remedy the evil; the spirit of public
enterprise has dwindled to such dimensions in provincial Persia, that it
is no longer equal to filling up a few fever-breeding pools of water in
the centre of a village. The telegraph-jee himself acknowledges that the
water-holes cause fever and mosquitoes, but, intelligent and enlightened
mortal though he be in comparison with his fellow-villagers, when
questioned about it, he replies: "Inshalla! the water don't matter; if it
is our kismet to take the fever and die, nothing can prevent it; if it is
our kismet not to take it, nothing can give it to us." Such unanswerable
logic could only originate in the brain of a fatalist; these people are
all fatalists, and--as we can imagine--especially so when the
doctrine comes in handy to dodge doing anything for the public weal.

All Persian villages, except those clustered about the immediate vicinity
of a large city, have some peculiarity of their own to offer in the
matter of the people's dress. The pantaloons of any Persian village are
not by any means stylish garments, according to Western ideas; but the
male bipeds of Aradan have something really extraordinary to offer, even
among the many startling patterns of this garment met with in Eastern
lands. To note the quantity of material that enters into the composition
of a pair of Aradan pantaloons, would lead an uninitiated person into
thinking the people all millionaires, were it not likewise observed that
the material is but coarse blue cotton, woven and dyed by the wearer's
wife, mother, or sister. One of the most conspicuous features about them
is that their shape--if they can truthfully be said to have any
shape--seems to be a wild, rambling pattern of our own ideas
concerning the shape this garment ought to assume. The legs, instead of
being gathered, Oriental fashion, at the ankles, dangle loosely about the
feet; and yet it is these same legs that are the chief distinguishing
feature of the pants. One of the legs, cut off and sewed up at one end,
would make the nicest kind of an eight-bushel grain sack; rather too
wide, perhaps, in proportion to the depth, to make a shapely grain sack,
but there is no question about the capacity for the eight bushels. No
doubt these people would be puzzled to say why they are wearing yards and
yards of stuff that is not only useless, but positively in the way,
except that it has been the fashion in Aradan from time immemorable to do
so. These simple Persian peasants, when they make any pretence of
sprucing up, probably find themselves quite as much enslaved by fashion
as our very fastidious selves; a wide difference betaken ourselves and
them, however, being, that while they cling tenaciously to some
prehistoric style of garment, and regard innovations with abhorrence,
fashion demands of us to be constantly changing.

The Aradan telegraph-jee is a young man skin-full of piety, rejoicing in
the possession of a nice little praying-carpet, a praying-stone from holy
Kerbela, the holiest of all except Mecca, and he owns a string of beads
of the same soul-comforting material as the stone. During his waking
hours he is seldom without the rosary in his hand, passing the holy beads
back and forth along the string; and five times a day he produces the
praying-stone from its little leathern pouch and goes through the
ceremony of saying his prayers, with becoming earnestness. At eventide,
when he spreads his praying-carpet and places the little oblong tablet
from Kerbela in its customary position, preparatory to commencing his
last prayers for the day, it is furthermore ascertained by the compass
that he has been pretty accurate in his daily prostrations toward Mecca.
With all these enviable advantages--the praying-carpet, the praying-stone,
the holy rosary, and the happy accuracy as regards Mecca--the Aradan
telegraph-jee is a Mussulman who ought to feel tolerably certain of a
rose-garden, a gurgling rivulet, and any number of black-eyed houris to
contribute to his happiness in the paradise he hopes to enter beyond the
tomb.

Indications have not been wanting during the day that the weather is in
anything but a settled condition, and upon waking in the morning I fancy
I hear the pattering music of the rain. Fortunately it proves to be only
fancy, and the telegraph-jee, assuming the part of a weather-prophet,
reassures me by remarking, "Inshalla, am roos, baran neis" (Please God,
it will not rain to-day). Being a Persian, he says this, not because he
has any particular confidence in his own predictions, but because his
idea of making himself agreeable is to frame his predictions by the
measurement of what he discovers to be my wishes.

The road into Aradan led me through one populous cemetery, and the road
out again leads me through another; beyond the cemetery it follows
alongside a meandering streamlet that flows, sluggishly along over a bed
of deep gray mud. The road is lumpy but ridable, and I am pedalling
serenely along, happy in the contemplation of better roads ahead than I
had yesterday, when one of those ludicrous incidents happen that have
occurred at intervals here and there all along my journey. A party of
travellers have been making a night march from the east, and as we
approach each other, a wary kafaveh-carrying mule, suspicious about the
peaceful character of the mysterious object bearing down toward him,
pricks up his ears, wheels round, and inaugurates confusion among his
fellows, and then proceeds to head them in a determined bolt across the
stream. Unfortunately for the women in the kajavehs, the mud and water
together prove to be deeper than the mule expected to find them, and the
additional fright of finding himself in a well-nigh swamped condition,
causes him to struggle violently to get out again. In so doing he bursts
whatever fastenings may have bound him and his burden together, scrambles
ashore, and leaves the kajavehs floating on the water!

The women began screaming the moment the mule wheeled round and bolted,
and now they find themselves afloat in their queer craft, these
characteristic female signals of distress are redoubled in energy; and
they may well be excused for this, for the kajavehs are gradually filling
and sinking; it was never intended that kajavehs should be capable of
acting in the capacity of a boat. The sight of their companion's
difficulties has the effect of causing the other mules to change their
minds about crossing the stream, and almost to change their minds about
indulging in the mulish luxury of a scare; and fortunately the charvadars
of the party succeed in rescuing the kajavehs before they sink. Nobody is
injured, beyond the women getting wet; no damage is done worth
mentioning, and as the two heroines of the adventure emerge from their
novel craft, their garments dripping with water, their doleful looks are
rewarded with unsympathetic merriment from the men. Few have been my
wheeling days on Asian roads that have not witnessed something in the
shape of an overthrow or runaway; so far, nobody has been seriously
injured by them, but I have sometimes wondered whether it will be my good
fortune to complete the bicycle journey around the world without some
mishap of the kind, resulting in broken limbs for the native and trouble
for myself.

After a couple of miles the road and the meandering stream part company,
the latter flowing southward and the road traversing a flat, curious,
stone-strewn waste; an area across which one could step from one large
boulder to another without touching the ground. Once beyond this, and the
road develops into several parallel trails of smooth, hard gravel, that
afford as good, or better, wheeling than the finest macadam. While
spinning at a highly satisfactory rate of speed along these splendid
paths, a small herd of antelopes cross the road some few hundred yards
ahead, and pass swiftly southward toward the dasht-i-namek. These are the
first antelopes, or, for that matter, the first big game I have
encountered since leaving the prairies of Western Nebraska. The Persian
antelope seems to be a duplicate of his distinguished American relative
in a general, all-round sense; he is, if anything, even more
nimble-footed than the spring-heeled habitue of the West, possesses the
same characteristic jerky jump, and hoists the same conspicuous white
signal of retreat. He is a decidedly slimmer-built quadruped, however,
than the American antelope; the body is of the same square build, but is
sadly lacking in plumpness, and he seems to be an altogether lankier and
less well-favored animal. For this constitutional difference, he is
probably indebted to the barren and inhospitable character of the country
over which he roams, as compared with the splendid feeding-grounds of
the--Far West. The Persians sometimes hunt the antelope on horseback,
with falcons and greyhounds; the falcons are taught to fly in advance and
attack the fleeing antelopes about the head, and so confuse them and
retard their progress in the interest of the pursuing hounds and
horsemen.

The little village of Deh Namek is reached about mid-day, where my
ever-varying bill of fare takes the shape of raw eggs and pomegranates.
Deh Namek is too small and unimportant a place to support a public
tchai-khan; but along the Meshed pilgrim road the villagers are keenly
alive to the chance of earning a stray keran, and the advent of one of
those inexhaustible keran-mines, a "Sahib," is the signal for some
enterprising person, sufficiently well-to-do to own a samovar, to get up
steam in it and prepare tea.

East of Deh Namek, the wheeling continues splendid for a dozen miles,
traversing a level desert on which one finds no drinkable water for about
twenty miles. Across the last eight miles of the desert the road is
variable, consisting of alternate stretches of ridable and unridable
ground, the latter being generally unridable by reason of sand and loose
gravel, or thickly strewn flints. More antelopes are encountered east of
Deh Namek; at one place, particularly, I enjoy quite a little exciting
spurt in an effort to intercept a band that are heading across my road
from the Elburz foot-hills to the desert. The wheeling is here
magnificent, the spurt develops into a speed of fourteen miles an hour;
the antelopes see their danger, or, at all events, what they fancy to be
danger, and their apprehensions are not by any mean lessened by the new
and startling character of their pursuer. Wild antelopes are timid things
at all times, and, as may be readily imagined, the sight of a mysterious
glistening object, speeding along at a fourteen or fifteen mile pace to
intercept them, has a magical effect upon their astonishing powers of
locomotion. They seem to fly rather than run, and to skim like swallows
over the surface of the level plain rather than to touch the ground; but
they were some distance from the road when they first realized my
terrifying presence, and I am within fifty yards of the band when they
flash like a streak of winged terror across the road. These antelopes do
not cease their wild flight within the range of my powers of observation;
long after the mousy hue of their bodies has rendered their forms
indistinguishable in the distance from the sympathetic coloring of the
desert, rapidly bobbing specks of white betray the fact that their
supposed narrow escape from the vengeful pursuit of the bicycle has given
them a fright that will make them suspicious of the Meshed pilgrim road
for weeks.

"Deh Namek" means "salt village;" and it derives its name from the salt
flats that are visible to the south of the road, and the general saline
character of the country round about. Salt enters very largely into the
composition of the mountains that present a solid and fantastically
streaked front a few miles to the north; and the streams flowing from
these mountains are simply streams of brine, whose mission would seem to
be conveying the saline matter from the hills, and distributing it over
the flats and swampy areas of the desert. These flats are visible from
the road, white, level, and impressive; like the Great American Desert,
Utah, as seen from the Matlin section house, and described in a previous
chapter (Vol. I.), it looks as though it might be a sheet of water,
solidified and dead.

At the end of the twenty miles one comes to a small and unpretentious
village and an equally small and unpretentious wayside tchai-khan, both
owing their existence to a stream of fresh water as small and
unpretentious as themselves. Beyond this cheerless oasis stretches again
the still more cheerless desert, the rivulets of undrinkable salt water,
the glaring white salt-flats to the south, and the salt-encrusted
mountains to the north. The shameless old party presiding at the
tchai-khan evidently realizes the advantages of his position, where many
travellers from either direction, reaching the place in a thirsty
condition, have no choice but between his decoction and cold water.
Instead of the excellent tea every Persian knows very well how to make,
he serves out a preparation that is made, I should say, chiefly from
camelthorn buds plucked within a mile of his shanty; he furthermore
illustrates in his own methods the baneful effects of being without the
stimulus of a rival, by serving it up in unwashed glasses, and without
noticing whether it is hot or cold.

Much loose gravel prevails between this memorable point and Lasgird, and
while trundling laboriously through it I am overtaken by a rain-storm,
accompanied by violent wind, that at first encompasses me about in the
most peculiar manner. The storm comes howling from the northwest and
advances in two sections, accompanied by thunder and lightning; the two
advancing columns seem to be dense masses of gray cloud rolling over the
surface of the plain, and between them is a clear space of perhaps half a
mile in width. The rain-dispensing columns pass me by on either side with
muttering rolls of thunder and momentary gleams of lightning, enveloping
me in swirling eddies of dust and bewildering atmospheric disturbances,
but not a drop of rain. It is plainly to be seen, however, that the two
columns are united further west, and that it behooves me to don my
gossamer rubbers; but before being overtaken by the rain, the heads of
the flying columns are drawn together, and for some minutes I am
surrounded entirely by sheets of falling moisture and streaming clouds
that descend to the level plain and obscure the view in every direction;
and yet the clear sky is immediately above, and the ground over which I
am walking is perfectly dry. After the first violent burst there is very
little wind, and the impenetrable walls of vapor encompassing me round
about at so near a distance, and yet not interfering with me in any way,
present a most singular appearance. While appreciating the extreme
novelty of the situation, I can scarce say in addition that I appreciate
the free play of electricity going on in all directions, and the
irreverent manner in which the nickeled surface of the bicycle seems to
glint at it and defy it; on the contrary, I deem it but an act of common
discretion to place the machine for a short time where the lightning can
have a fair chance at it, without involving a respectful non-combatant in
the destruction. In half an hour the whole curious affair is over, and
nothing is seen but the wild-looking tail-end of the disturbance climbing
over a range of mountains in the southeast.

The road now edges off in a more northeasterly course, and by four
o'clock leads me to the base of a low pass over a jutting spur of the
mountains. At the base of the spur, a cultivated area, consisting of
several wheat-fields and terraced melon-gardens, has been rescued from
the unproductive desert by the aid of a bright little mountain stream,
whose wild spirit the villagers of Lasgird have curbed and tamed for
their own benefit, by turning it from its rocky, precipitous channel, and
causing it to descend the hill in a curious serpentine ditch. The contour
of the ditch is something like this: ~~~~~~~~~~~; it brings the water
down a pretty steep gradient, and its serpentine form checks the speed of
its descent to an uniform and circumspect pace. The road over the pass
leads through a soft limestone formation, and here, as in similar places
in Asia Minor, are found those narrow, trench-like trails, worn by the
feet of pilgrims and the pack-animal traffic of centuries, several feet
deep in the solid rock. On a broad cultivated plain beyond the pass is
sighted the village of Lasgird, its huge mud fortress, the most
conspicuous object in view, rising a hundred feet above the plain.



CHAPTER III.

PERSIA AND THE MESHED PILGRIM ROAD.

A mile or so through the cultivated fields brings me to the village just
in time to be greeted by the shouts and hand-clapping of a wedding
procession that is returning from conducting the bride to the bath. Men
and boys are beating rude, home-made tambourines, and women are dancing
along before the bride, clicking castanets, while a crowd of at least two
hundred villagers, arrayed in whatever finery they can muster for the
occasion, are following behind, clapping their hands in measured chorus.
This hand-clapping is, I believe, pretty generally practiced by the
villagers all over Central Asia on festive occasions. As a result of
riding for the crowd, I receive an invitation to take supper at the house
of the bridegroom's parents. Having obtained sleeping quarters at the
chapar-khana, I get the shagird-chapar to guide me to the house at the
appointed hour, and arrive just in time for supper. The dining-room is a
low-ceiled apartment, about thirty feet long and eight wide, and is dimly
lighted by rude grease lamps, set on pewter lamp-stands on the floor.

Squatting on the floor, with their backs to the wall, about fifty
villagers form a continuous human line around the room. These all rise
simultaneously to their feet as I am announced, bob their heads
simultaneously, simultaneously say, "Sahib salaam," and after I have been
provided with a place, simultaneously resume their seats. Pewter trays
are now brought in by volunteer waiters, and set on the floor before the
guests, one tray for every two guests, and a separate one for myself. On
each tray is a bowl of mast (milk soured with rennet--the "yaort" of Asia
Minor), a piece of cheese, one onion, a spoonful or two of pumpkin butter
and several flat wheaten cakes. This is the wedding supper. The guests
break the bread into the mast and scoop the mixture out with their
fingers, transferring it to their mouths with the dexterity of Chinese
manipulating a pair of chop-sticks; now and then they take a nibble at
the piece of cheese or the onion, and they finish up by consuming the
pumpkin butter. The groom doesn't appear among the guests; he is under
the special care of several female relations in another apartment, and is
probably being fed with tid-bits from the henna-stained fingers of old
women, who season them with extravagant and lying stories of the bride's
beauty, and duly impress upon him his coming matrimonial
responsibilities.

Supper eaten and the dishes cleared, an amateur luti from among the
villagers produces a tambourine and castanets, and, taking the middle of
the room, proceeds to amuse the company by singing extempore love songs
in praise of the bride and groom to tambourine accompaniment and
pendulous swayings of the body. Pretending to be carried away by the
melodiousness and sentiment of his own productions, he gradually bends
backward with hands outstretched and castanets jingling, until his head
almost touches the floor, and maintains that position while keeping his
body in a theatrical tremor of delight. This is the finale of the
performance, and the luti comes and sets his skull-cap in front of me for
a present; my next neighbor, the bridegroom's father, takes it up and
hands it back with a deprecatory wave of the hand; the luti replies by
promptly setting it down again; this time my neighbor lets it remain, and
the luti is made happy by a coin.

Torchlight processions to the different baths are now made from the house
of both bride and groom, for this is the "hammam night," devoted to
bathing and festivities before the wedding-day. Torches are made with dry
camelthorn, the blaze being kept up by constant renewal; a boy, with a
lighted candle, walks immediately ahead of the bridegroom and his female
relations, and a man with a farnooze brings up the rear. Nobody among the
onlookers is permitted to lag behind the man with the farnooze, everybody
being required to either walk ahead or alongside. The tambourine-beating
and shouting and hand-clapping of the afternoon is repeated, and every
now and then the procession stops to allow one or two of the women to
face the bridegroom and favor him with an exhibition of their skill in
the execution of the hip-dance.

The bridal procession is coming down another street, and I stop to try
and obtain a glimpse of the bride; but she is completely enveloped in a
flaming red shawl, and is supported and led by two women. There seems to
be little difference in the two processions, except the preponderance of
females in the bride's party; everything is arranged in the same order,
and women dance at intervals before the bride as before the groom.

It begins raining before I retire for the night; it rains incessantly all
night, and is raining heavily when I awake in the morning. The weather
clears up at noon, but it is useless thinking of pushing on, for miles of
tenacious mud intervene between the village and the gravelly desert;
moreover, the prospect of the fine weather holding out looks anything but
reassuring. The villagers are all at home, owing to the saturated
condition of their fields, and I come in for no small share of worrying
attention during the afternoon. A pilgrim from Teheran turns up and tells
the people about my appearance before the Shah; this increases their
interest in me to an unappreciated extent, and, with glistening eyes and
eagerly rubbing fingers, they ask "Chand pool Padishah?" (How much money
did the King give you?) "I showed the Shah the bicycle, and the Shah
showed me the lions, and tigers, and panthers at Doshan Tepe," I tell
them; and a knowing customer, called Meshedi Ali, enlightens them still
further by telling them I am not a luti to receive money for letting the
Shah-in-Shah see me ride. Still, luti or no luti, the people think I
ought to have received a present. I am worried to ride so incessantly
that I am forced to seek self-protection in pretending to have sprained
my ankle, and in returning to the chapar-khana with a hypocritical limp.
I station myself ostensibly for the remainder of the day on the
bala-khana front, and busy myself in taking observations of the villagers
and their doings.

Time was, among ourselves, or more correctly, among our ancestors, when
blood-letting was as much the professional calling of a barber as
scraping chins or trimming hair, and when our respected beef-eating and
beer-drinking forefathers considered wholesale blood-letting as a
well-nigh universal panacea for fleshly ills. In travelling through
Persia, one often observes things that suggest very strikingly those
"good old days" of Queen Bess. The citizens of Zendjan offering the Shah
a present of 60,000 tomans, as an inducement not to visit their city, as
they did when he was on his way to Europe, has a true Elizabethan ring
about it, a suggestion of the Virgin Queen's rabble retinue travelling
about, devouring and destroying, and of justly apprehensive citizens,
seeing ruin staring them in the face, petitioning their regal mistress to
spare them the dread calamity of a royal visit.

The ancient Zoroastrian barber, no doubt, bled his patients and customers
on the public streets of Persian towns, for the benefit of their healths,
when we pinned our pagan faith on Druidical incantations and mystic rites
and ceremonies; his Mussulman descendants were doing the same thing when
we at length arrived at the same stage of enlightenment, and the Persian
wielder of razor and tweezers to-day performs the same office as
belonging to his profession. From my vantage point on the bala-khana of
the Lasgird chapar station, I watch, with considerable interest, the
process of bleeding a goodly share of the male population of the village;
for it is spring-time, and in spring, every Persian, whether well or
unwell, considers the spilling of half a pint or so of blood very
necessary for the maintenance of health.

The village barber, with his arms bared, and the flowing, o'er-ample legs
of his Aradan-Lasgird pantaloons tucked up at his waist, like a
washerwoman's skirt, a bunch of raw cotton in lieu of lint under his left
arm, and his keen-edged razor, looks like a man who thoroughly realizes
and enjoys the importance of the office he is performing, as from the
bared arm or open mouth of one after the other of his neighbors he starts
the crimson stream. The candidates for the barber's claret-tapping
attentions bare their right arms to the shoulder, and bind for each other
a handkerchief or piece of something tightly above the elbow, and the
barber deftly slits a vein immediately below the hollow of the
elbow-joint, pressing out the vein he wishes to cut by a pressure of the
left thumb. The blood spurts out, the patient looks at the squirting
blood, and then surveys the onlookers with a "who-cares?--I-don't" sort of
a grin. He then squats down and watches it bleed about a half-pint,
occasionally working the elbow-joint to stimulate the flow. Half a pint
is considered about the correct quantity for an adult to lose at one
bleeding; the barber then binds on a small wad of cotton.

Now and then a customer gives the barber a trifling coin by way of
backsheesh, but the great majority give nothing. In a mere village like
Lasgird, these periodical blood-lettings by the barber are, no doubt,
regarded as being all in the family, rather than of professional services
for a money consideration. The communal spirit obtains to a great extent
in village life throughout both Asia Minor and Persia; nevertheless
backsheesh would be expected in Persia from those able to afford it. Some
few prefer being bled in the roof the mouth, and they all squat on their
hams in rows, some bleeding from the arm, others from the mouth, while
the inevitable crowd of onlookers stand around, gazing and giving advice.
While the barber is engaged in binding on the wad of cotton, or during
any interval between patients, he inserts the handle of the razor between
his close-fitting skull-cap and his forehead, letting the blade hang down
over his face, edge outward; a peculiar disposition of his razor, that he
would, no doubt, be entirely at a loss to account for, except that he is
following the custom of his fathers. As regards the customs of his
ancestors, whose trade or profession he invariably follows, the Asiatic
is the most conservative of mortals. "What was good enough for my father
and grandfather," he says, "is certainly good enough for me;" and
earnestly believing in this, he never, of his own accord, thinks of
changing his occupation or of making improvements.

Later in the afternoon I descend from the bala-khana and take a strolling
look at the village, and with the shagird-chapar for guide, pay a visit
to the old fortress, the conspicuous edifice seen from the trail-worn
limestone pass. Forgetting about my subterfuge of the sprained ankle, I
wander forth without the aforementioned limp; but the people seem to have
forgotten it as completely as I had; at all events, nobody makes any
comments. A ripple of excitement is caused by a two-storied house
collapsing from the effects of the soaking rains, an occurrence by no
means infrequent in the spring in a country of mud-built houses. A crowd
soon appears upon the scene, watching, with unconcealed delight, the
spectacle of tumbling roof and toppling wall, giving vent to their
feelings in laughter and loud shouts of approval, like delighted
children, whenever another bulky square of mud and thatch comes tumbling
down. Fortunately, nobody happens to be hurt, beyond the half-burying in
the debris of some donkeys, which are finally induced to extricate
themselves by being vigorously bombarded with stones. No sympathy appears
to be given on the part of the spectators, and evidently nothing of the
kind is expected by the tenants of the tumbling house; the wailing women,
and the look of consternation on the face of the men who barely escaped
from the falling roof, seem to be regarded by the spectators as a tomasha
(show), to be stared at and enjoyed, as they would stare at and enjoy
anything not seen every day; on the other hand, the occupants of the
house regard their misfortune as kismet.

Returning to the chapar-ktiana, I get the shayird to pilot me into and
round about the fortress. It is rapidly falling to decay, but is still in
a sufficiently good state of preservation to show thoroughly its former
strength and conformation. The fortress is a decidedly massive building,
constructed entirely of mud and adobe bricks, a hundred feet high, of
circular form, and some two hundred yards in circumference. The
disintegrated walls and debris of former towers form a sloping mound or
foundation about fifty feet in height, and from this the perpendicular
walls of the castle rise up, huge and ugly, for another hundred feet.
Following a foot-trail up the mound-like base, we come to a low, gloomy
passage-way leading into the interior of the fort. A door, composed of
one massive stone slab, that nothing less than a cannon-shot would
shatter, guards the entrance to this passage, which is the only
accessible entrance to the place. Following it along for perhaps thirty
yards, we emerge upon a scene of almost indescribable squalor--a scene
that instantly suggests an overcrowded "rookery" in the tenement-house
slums of New York. The place is simply swarming with people, who, like
rabbits in an old warren, seem to be moving about among the tumble-down
mud huts, anywhere and everywhere, as though the old ruined fortress were
burrowed through and through, or that the people now moved through, over,
under, and around the remnants of what was once a more orderly collection
of dwellings, having long forsaken regular foot-ways.

The inhabitants are ragged and picturesque, and meandering about among
them, on the most familiar terms, are hundreds of goats. Although
everything is in a more or less dilapidated condition, huts or cells
still rise above each other in tiers, and the people clamber about from
tier to tier, as if in emulation of their venturesome four-footed
associates, who are here, we may well imagine, in as perfect a paradise
as vagrom goatish nature would care for or expect. At a low estimate, I
should place the present population of the old fortress at a thousand
people, and about the same number of goats. In the days when the bold
Turkoman raiders were wont to make their dreaded damans almost up to the
walls of Teheran, and such strongholds as this were the only safeguard of
out-lying villagers, the interior of Lasgird fortress resembled a
spacious amphitheatre, around which hundreds of huts rose, tier above
tier, like the cells of a monster pigeon-house, affording shelter in
times of peril to all the inhabitants of Lasgird, and to such refugees as
might come in. At the first alarm of the dreaded man-stealers' approach,
the outside villagers repaired to the fortress with their portable
property; the donkeys and goats were driven inside and occupied the
interior space, and the massive stone door was closed and barricaded. The
villagers' granaries were inside the fortress, and provisions for
obtaining water were not overlooked; so that once inside, the people were
quite secure against any force of Turkomans, whose heaviest arms were
muskets.

The suggestion of an amphitheatre, as above described, is quite patent at
the present day, in something like two or three hundred tiered dwellings;
in the days of its usefulness there must have been a thousand. Thanks to
the Russian occupation of Turkestan, there is no longer any need of the
fortress, and the present population seem to be occupying it at the peril
of having it some day tumble down about their ears; for, massive though
its walls most certainly are, they are but mud, and the people are
indifferent about repairs. Failing to surprise the watchful villagers in
their fields or outside dwellings, the baffled marauders would find
confronting them fifty feet of solid mud wall without so much as an
air-hole in it, rising sheer above the mound-like foundation, and above
this, tiers of rooms or cells, from inside which archers or musketeers
could make it decidedly interesting for any hostile party attempting to
approach. This old fortress of Lasgird is very interesting, as showing
the peaceful and unwarlike Persian ryot's method of defending his life
and liberty against the savage human hawks that were ever hovering near,
ready to swoop down and carry him and his off to the slave markets of
Khiva and Bokhara. These were times when seed was sown and harvest
garnered in fear and trembling, for the Turkoman raiders were adepts at
swooping down when least expected, and they rode horses capable of making
their hundred miles a day over the roughest country. (Incredible as this
latter fact may seem, it is, nevertheless, a well-known thing in Central
Asia that the Turkoman's horse is capable of covering this remarkable
distance, and of keeping it up for days.)

A thunder-storm is raging violently and drenching everything as I retire
for the night, dampening, among other things, my hopes of getting away
from Lasgird for some days; for between the village and the gravelly, and
consequently always traversable, desert, are some miles of slimy clay of
the kind that in wet weather makes an experienced cycler wince to think
of crossing. The floor of the bala-khana forms once again my nocturnal
couch; but the temperature lowers perceptibly as the night advances and
the rain continues, and toward morning it changes into snow. The doors
and windows of my room are to be called doors and windows only out of
courtesy to a rude, unfinished effort to imitate these things, and the
floor, at daybreak, is nicely carpeted with an inch or so of "the
beautiful snow," and a four-inch covering of the same greets my vision
upon looking outside.

Determined to make the best of the situation, I remove my quarters from
the cold and draughty bala-khana to the stable, and send the
shagird-chapar out in quest of camel-thorn, bread, eggs, and
pomegranates, thinking thus to obtain the luxury of a bit of fire and
something to eat in comparative seclusion. This vain hope proves that I
have not even yet become thoroughly acquainted with the Persians. No
sooner does my camel-thorn blaze begin to crackle and the smoke to betray
the whereabouts of a fire, than shivering, blue-nosed villagers begin to
put in their appearance, their backs humped up and their bare ankles and
slip-shod feet adding not a little to the general aspect of wretchedness
that seems inseparable from Persians in cold weather.

And these are the people who, during a gleam of illusory sunshine
yesterday, were so nonchalantly parting with their blood--of which, by the
by, your bread and cucumber eating, and cold water drinking Persian has
little enough, and that little thin enough at any time. These
rag-bedecked, shivering wretches hop up on the raised platform where the
fire is burning and squat themselves around it in the most sociable
manner; and under the thawing process of passing their hands through the
flames, poking the coals together, and close attention to the details of
keeping it burning, they quickly thaw out in more respects than one.
Fifteen minutes after my fire is lighted, the spot where I anticipated a
samovar of tea and a pomegranate or two in peace, is occupied by as many
Persians as can find squatting room, talking, shouting, singing, and
kalian-smoking, meanwhile eagerly and expectantly watching the
preparations for making tea. Preferring to leave them in full possession
rather than be in their uncongenial midst, I pass the time in promenading
back and forth behind the horses. After walking to and fro a few times,
the, to them, singular performance of walking back and forth excites
their easily-aroused curiosity, and the wondering attention of all
present becomes once again my unhappy portion. An Asiatic's idea of
enjoying himself in cold weather is squatting about a few coals of fire,
making no physical exertion whatever beyond smoking and conversing; and
the spectacle of a Ferenghi promenading back and forth, when he might be
following their example of squatting by the fire, is to them a subject of
no little wonder and speculation.

The redeeming feature of my enforced sojourn at Lasgird is the excellence
of the pomegranates, for which the place is famous, and of which there
seems an abundance left over through the winter. A small quantity of
seedless pomegranates, a highly valued variety, are grown here at
Lasgird, but they are all sent to Teheran for the use of the Shah and his
household, and are not to be obtained by anyone. It has been a raw,
disagreeable day, and at night I decide to sleep in the stable, where it
is at least warmer, though the remove is but a compromise by which one's
olfactory sensibilities are sacrificed in the interest of securing a few
hours' sleep.

An unexpected, but none the less welcome, deliverance appears on the
following morning in the shape of a frost, that forms on the sticky mud a
crust of sufficient thickness to enable me to escape across to the
welcome gravel beyond the Lasgird Plain ere it thaws out. Thus on the
precarious path of a belated morning frost, breaking through here,
jumping over there, I leave Lasgird and its memories of wedding
processions, and blood-letting, its huge mud fortress, its pomegranates,
and its discomforts.

Three miles of mostly ridable gravel bring me to another village, and to
four miles of horrible mud in getting through its fields and over its
ditches. A raw wind is blowing, and squally gusts of snow come scudding
across the dreary prospect--a prospect flanked on the north by cold, gray
hills, and the face of nature generally furrowed with tell-tale lines of
winter's partial dissolution. While trundling through this village, both
myself and bicycle plastered to a well-nigh unrecognizable state with
mud, feeling pretty thoroughly disgusted with the weather and the roads,
an ancient-looking Persian emerges from a little stall with a last
season's muskmelon in hand, and advancing toward me, shouts, "H-o-i"
loud enough to wake the seven sleepers. Shouting "H-o-i!!" at a person
close enough to hear a whisper, as loud as though he were a good mile
away, is a peculiarity of the Persians that has often irritated
travellers to the pitch of wishing they had a hot potato and the
dexterity to throw it down their throats; and in my present unenviable
condition, and its accompanying unenviable frame of mind, I don't mind
admitting that I mentally relegated this vociferous melon-vender to a
place where infinitely worse than hot potatoes would overtake him.
Knowing full well that a halt of a single minute would mean a general
mustering of the population, and an importuning rabble following me
through the unridable mud, I ignore the old melon-man's foghorn efforts
to arrest my onward progress; but he proves a most vociferous and
persistent specimen of his class. Nothing less than a dozen exclamation
points can give the faintest idea of how a "hollering" Persian shouts
"H-o-i."

Seven miles over very good gravel, and my road leads into the labyrinth
of muddy lanes, ditches, and water-holes, tumble down walls, and
disorderly-looking cemeteries of the suburbs of Semnoon. In traversing
the cemeteries, one cannot help observing how many of the graves are
caved in by the rains and the skeletons exposed to view. Mohammedans bury
their dead very shallow, usually about two feet, and in Persia the grave
is often arched over with soft mud bricks; these weaken and dissolve
after the rains and snows of winter, and a cemetery becomes a place of
exposed remains and of pitfalls, where an unwary step on what appears
solid ground may precipitate one into the undesirable company of a
skeleton. By the time Semnoon is reached the day has grown warmer, and
the sun favors the cold, dismal earth with a few genial rays, so that the
blooming orchards of peach and pomegranate that brighten and enliven the
environs of the city, and which suggest Semnoon to be a mild and
sheltered spot, seem quite natural, notwithstanding the patches of snow
lying about. The crowds seem remarkably well behaved as I trundle through
the bazaar toward the telegraph office, the total absence of missiles
being particularly noticeable. The telegraph-jee proves to be a sensible,
enlightened fellow, and quite matter-of-fact in his manner for a Persian;
apart from his duty to the Governor and a few bigwigs of the place, whom
it would be unpardonable in him to overlook or ignore, he saves me as
much as possible from the worrying of the people.

Prince Anushirvan Mirza, Governor of Semnoon, Damghan, and Shahrood, is
the Shah's cousin, son of Baahman Mirza, uncle of the Shah, and formerly
Governor of Tabreez. Baahman Mirza was discovered intriguing with the
Russians, and, fearing the vengeance of the Shah, fled from the country;
seeking an asylum among the Russians, he is now--if not dead--a refugee
somewhere in the Caucasus. But the father's disgrace did not prejudice
the Shah against his sons, and Prince Anushirvan and his sons are honored
and trusted by the Shah as men capable of distinguishing between the
friends and enemies of their country, and of conducting themselves
accordingly.

The Governor's palace is not far from the north gate of the city, and
after the customary round of tea and kalians, without which nothing can
be done in Persia, he walks outside with his staff to a piece of good
road in order to see me ride to the best advantage. (As a specimen of
Persian extravagance--to use a very mild term--it may be as well to
mention here as anywhere, that the Governor telegraphed to his son,
acting as his deputy at Shahrood, that he had ridden some miles with me
out of the city!)

During the evening one of the Governor's sons, Prince Sultan Madjid
Mirza, comes in with a few leading dignitaries to spend an hour in
chatting and smoking. This young prince proves one of the most
intelligent Persians I have met in the country; besides being very well
informed for a provincial Persian, he is bright and quick-witted. Among
the gentlemen he brings in with him is a man who has made the pilgrimage
to Mecca via "Iskenderi" (Alexandria) and Suez, and has, consequently,
seen and ridden on the Egyptian railway. The Prince has heard his
description of this railway, and the light thus gained has not
unnaturally had the effect of whetting his curiosity to hear more of the
marvellous iron roads of Frangistan; and after exhausting the usual
programme of queries concerning cycling, the conversation leads, by easy
transition, to the subject of railways.

"Do they have railways in Yenghi Donia?" questioned the Prince.

"Plenty of railways; plenty of everything," I reply.

"Like the one at Iskenderi and Stamboul?"

"Better and bigger than both these put together a hundred times over; the
Iskenderi railroad is very small."

Nods and smiles of acquiescence from Prince and listeners follow this
statement, which show plainly enough that they consider it a pardonable
lie, such as every Persian present habitually indulges in himself and
thinks favorably of in others.

"Railroads are good things, and Ferenghis are very clever people," says
the Prince, renewing the subject and handing me a handful of salted melon
seeds from his pocket, meanwhile nibbling some himself.

"Yes; why don't you have railroads in Iran? You could then go to Teheran
in a few hours."

The Prince smiles amusingly at the thought, as though conscious of
railroads in Persia being a dream altogether too bright to ever
materialize, and shaking his head, says: "Pool neis" (we have no money).

"The English have money and would build the railroad; but, 'Mollah neis'
--Baron Reuter?--you know Baron Reuter--' Mollah neis,'
not 'pool neis.'"

The Prince smiles, and signifies that he is well enough aware where the
trouble lies; but we talk no more of railroads, for he and his father and
brothers belong to the party of progress in Persia, and the triumph of
priests and old women over the Shah and Baron Reuter's railway is to them
a distressful and humiliating subject.

The late lamented O'Donovan, of "To the Merve" fame, used to make Semnoon
his headquarters while dodging about on the frontier, and was personally
known to everyone present. Semnoon is celebrated for the excellence of
its kalian tobacco, and O'Donovan was celebrated in Semnoon for his love
of the kalian. This evening, in talking about him, the telegraph-jee says
that "when he pulled at the kalian he pulled with such tremendous
eagerness that the flames leaped up to the ceiling, and after three
whiffs you couldn't see anybody in the room for smoke!"

The telegraph-jee's farrash builds a good wood fire in a cozy little room
adjoining the office; blankets are provided, an ample supper is sent
around from the telegraph-jee's house, and what is still better
appreciated, I am left to enjoy these substantial comforts without so
much as a single spectator coming to see me feed; no one comes near me
till morning.

The morning breaks cold and clear, and for some six miles the road is
very fair wheeling; after this comes a gradual inclination toward a
jutting spur of hills; the following twenty miles being the toughest kind
of a trundle through mud, snow-fields, and drifts. This is a most
uninviting piece of country to wheel through, and it would seem but
little less so to traverse at this time of the year with a caravan of
camels, two or three of these animals being found exhausted by the
roadside, and a couple of charvadars encountered in one place skinning
another, while its companion is lying helplessly alongside watching the
operation and waiting its own turn to the same treatment. It is said to
be characteristic of a camel that, when he once slips down, cold and
weary, in the mud, he never again tries to regain his feet. The weather
looks squally and unsettled, and I push ahead as rapidly as the condition
of the ground will permit, fearing a snow-storm in the hills.

About three p.m. I arrive at the caravansarai of Ahwan, a dreary,
inhospitable place in an equally dreary, inhospitable country. Situated
in a region of wind and snow and bleak, open hills, the wretched serai of
Ahwan is remembered as a place where the keen, raw wind seems to come
whistling gleefully and yet maliciously from all points of the compass,
seemingly centring in the caravansarai itself; these winds render any
attempt to kindle a fire a dismal failure, resulting in smoke and watery
eyes. Here I manage to obtain half-frozen bread and a few eggs; after an
ineffectual attempt to roast the latter and thaw out the former, I am
forced to eat them both as they are; and although the sun looks ominously
low, and it is six farsakhs to the next place, I conclude to chance
anything rather than risk being snow-bound at Ahwan. Fortunately, after
about five miles more of snow, the trail emerges upon a gravelly plain
with a gradual descent from the hills just crossed to the lower level of
the Damghan plain. The favorable gradient and the smooth trails induce a
smart pace, and as the waning daylight merges into the soft, chastened
light of a cloud-veiled moon, I alight at the village and serai of
Gusheh.

There are at the caravansarai a number of travellers, among them a moujik
of the Don, travelling to Teheran and beyond in company with a Tabreez
Turk. The Russian peasant at once invites me to his menzil in the
caravansarai; and although he looks, if anything, a trifle more
indifferent about personal cleanliness than either a Turkish or Persian
peasant, I have no alternative but to accept his well-meant invitation.
At this juncture, when one's thoughts are swayed and influenced by an
appetite that the cold day and hard tugging through the hills have
rendered well-nigh uncontrollable, a prosperous-looking Persian
traveller, returning from a pilgrimage to Meshed with his wives, family,
and servitors, quite a respectable-sized retinue, emerges from the
seclusion of his quarters to see the bicycle.

Of course he requests me to ride, sending his link-boys to bring out all
the farnoozes to supplement fair Luna's coy and inefficient beams; and
after the performance, the old gentleman promises to send me round a dish
of pillau. In due time the promised pillau comes round, an ample dish,
sufficient to satisfy even my present ravenous appetite, and after this
he sends round tea, lump sugar, and a samovar. The moujik turns to and
gets up steam in the samovar, and over tiny glasses of the cheering but
non-intoxicating beverage, he sings a Russian regimental song, and his
comrade, the Tabreez Turk, warbles the praises of Stamboul. But although
they make merry over the tea, methinks both of them would have made still
merrier over something stronger, for the moujik puts in a good share of
the evening talking about vodka consumed at Shahrood, and smacking his
lips at the retrospective bliss embodied in its consumption; while the
Turk from Tabreez catches me aside and asks mysteriously if my packages
contain any "raki" (arrack). Like the Ah wan caravansarai, the one at
Gusheh seems to draw the chilly winds from every direction, and I arise
from a rude couch, made wretchedly uncomfortable by draughts, the attacks
of insects, and the persistent determination of a horse to use my
prostrate form as a rest for his nose-bag, to find myself the possessor
of a sore throat.

Persian travellers are generally up and off before daylight, and the
clicking noise (Persian curry-combs are covered with small rings that
make a rattling noise when being used) of currying horses begins as early
as three o'clock. The attendants of the old gentleman of happy
remembrance in connection with last night's pillau and samovar, have been
busy for two hours, and his taktrowan and kajauehs are already occupied
and starting, when by the first gleam of awakening dawn I mount and wheel
eastward. A shallow, unbridged stream obstructs my path but a short
distance from Gusheh, and I manage to get in knee-deep in trying to avoid
the necessity of removing my footgear; I then wander several miles off
my road to an outlying village. This happy commencement of a new day is
followed by a variable road leading sometimes over stony or gravelly
plains where the wheeling varies through all the stages of goodness,
badness, and indifference, and sometimes through grazing grounds and
cultivable areas adjoining the villages.

Scattered about the grazing and arable country are now small towers of
refuge, loop-holed for defense, to which ryots working in the fields, or
shepherds tending their flocks, fled for safety in case of a sudden
appearance of Turcoman marauders. But a few years ago men hereabouts went
to plough, sow, or reap with a gun slung at their backs, and a few of
them reaching the shelter of one of these compact little mud towers were
able, through the loop-holes, to keep the Turcomans at bay until relief
arrived. The towers are of circular form, about twenty feet high and
fifteen in diameter; the entrance is a very small doorway, often a mere
hole to crawl into, and steps inside lead to the summit; some are roofed
in near the top, others are mere circular walls of mud. On grazing
grounds a lower wall often encompasses the tower, fencing in a larger
space that formed a corral for the flocks; the shepherds then, while
defending themselves, were also defending their sheep or goats. In the
more exposed localities these little towers of refuge are often but a
couple of hundred yards apart, thickly dotting the country in all
directions, while watch-towers are seen perched on peaks and points of
vantage, the whole scene speaking eloquently of the extraordinary
precautions these poor people were compelled to adopt for the
preservation of their lives and property. No wonder Russian intrigue
makes headway in Khorassan and all along the Turco-inan-Perso frontier,
for the people can scarcely help being favorably impressed by the
stoppage of Turcoman deviltry in their midst, and the wholesale
liberation of Persian slaves.

The town of Damghan is reached near noon, and I am not a little gratified
to learn that the telegraph-jee has been notified of my approach, and has
stationed his farrash at the entrance to the bazaar, so that I should
have no trouble in finding the office. This augurs well for the reception
awaiting me there, and I am accordingly not surprised to find him an
exceptionally affable youth, proud of a word or two of English he had
somehow acquired, and of his knowledge of how to properly entertain a
Ferenghi. This latter qualification assumes the eminently practical, and,
it is needless to add, acceptable form of a roast chicken, a heaping dish
of pillau, and sundry other substantial proofs of anticipatory
preparations. The telegraph-jee takes great pleasure in seeing roast
chicken mysteriously disappear, and the dish of pillau gradually diminish
in size; in fact, the unconcealed satisfaction afforded by these savory
testimonials of his cook's abilities give him such pleasure that he urges
me to remain his guest for a day and rest up. But Shahrood is only forty
miles away, and here I shall have the pleasure of meeting Mr. McIntyre,
before mentioned as line-inspector, who is making his temporary
headquarters at that city. Moreover, angry-looking storm-dogs have
accompanied the sun on his ante-meridian march to-day, and such
experience as mine at Lasgird has the effect of making one, if not
weather-wise, at least weather-wary.

In approaching Damghan, long before any other indications of the city
appear, twin minarets are visible, soaring above the stony plain like a
pair of huge pillars; these minars belong to the same mosque, and form a
conspicuous landmark for travellers and pilgrims in approaching Damghan
from any direction; at a distance they appear to rise up sheer from the
barren plain, the town being situated in a depression. Six farsakhs from
Damghan is the village of Tazaria, noted in the country round about for
the enormous size of the carrots grown there; the minarets of Damghan and
the extraordinary size of the Tazaria vegetables furnish the material for
a characteristic little Eastern story, current among the inhabitants.

Finding that people came from far and near to see the graceful minarets
of Damghan, and that nobody came to see Tazaria, the good people of that
neglected village became envious, and they reasoned among themselves and
said: "Why should Damghan have two minarets and Tazaria none?" So they
gathered together their pack-donkeys, their ropes and ladders, and a
large company of men, and reached Damghan in the silence and darkness of
the night, intending to pull down and carry off one of the minarets and
erect it in Tazaria. The ropes were fastened to the summit of the minar,
but at the first great pull the brick-work gave way and the top of the
tall minaret came tumbling down with a crash and clatter, killing several
of its would-be removers. The Damghan people turned out, and after
hearing the unhappy Tazarians' laments, some sarcastic citizen gave them
a few carrot-seeds, bidding them go home and sow them, and they could
grow all the minarets they wanted. The carrots grew famously, and the
villagers of Tazaria, instead of the promised minarets, found themselves
in possession of a new and useful vegetable that fetched a good price in
the Damghan bazaars. The Damghanians, meeting a Tazarian ryot coming in
with a donkey-load of these huge carrots, cannot resist twitting him
regarding the minars; but the now practical Tazarians no longer mourn the
absence of minarets in their village, and when twitted about it, reply:
"We have more minarets than you have, but our minarets grow downward and
are good to eat."

During the afternoon I pass many ruined villages and castles, said to
have been destroyed by an earthquake many years ago. Some few natives
find remunerative employment in excavating and washing over the dirt and
debris of the ruined castles, in which they find coins, rubies, agates,
turquoise, and women's ornaments; sometimes they unearth skeletons with
ornaments still attached. The sun shines out warm this afternoon, and its
genial rays are sufficiently tempting to induce the jackals to emerge
from their hiding-places and bask in its beaming smiles on the sunny side
of the ruins. Wherever there are ruins and skeletons and decay in Eastern
lands--and where are there not?--there also is sure to be found the
prowling and sneakish-looking jackal.

Shelter, and the usual rude accommodation, supplemented on this occasion
by a wandering luti and his vicious-looking baboon, as also a company of
riotous charvadars, who insist on singing accompaniments to the luti's
soul-harrowing tom-toming till after midnight, are obtained at the
caravansarai of Deh Mollah. From Deh Mollah it is only a couple of
farsakhs to Shahrood, and after the first three miles, which is slightly
upgrade and not particularly smooth, it is downgrade and very fair
wheeling the remainder of the distance. The road forks a couple of miles
from Shahrood, and while I am entering by one road, Mr. McIntyre is
leaving on horseback by the other to meet me, guessing, from word
received from Damghan, that I must have spent last night at Deh Mollah,
and would arrive at Shahrood this morning.

Only those who have experienced it know anything of the pleasure of two
Europeans meeting and conversing in a country like Persia, where the
habits and customs of the natives are so different, and, to most
travellers, uncongenial, and only to be tolerated for a time.

I have met Mr. Mclntyre in Teheran, so we are not total strangers, which,
of course, makes it still more agreeable. After the customary interchange
of news, and the discussion of refreshments, Mr. Mclntyre hands me a
telegram from Teheran, which bears a date several days old. It is from
the British Legation, notifying me that permission is refused to go
through the Turcoman country; an appendage from the Charge d'Affaires
suggests that I repair to Astrakhan and try the route through Siberia.
And this, then, is the result of General Melnikoff's genial smiles and
ready promises of assistance; after providing myself with proper money
and information for the Turkestan route, on the strength of the Russian
Minister's promises, I am overtaken, when three hundred miles away, with
a veto against which anything I might say or do would be of no avail!

Sultan Ahmed Mirza, a sou of Prince Anushirvan, is deputy governor of
Shahrood, responsible to his father; and ere I have arrived an hour the
usual request is sent round for a "tomasha," the word now used by people
wanting to see me ride, and which really means an exhibition. His place
is found in a brick court-yard with the usual central tank, and the airy
rooms of the building all opening upon it, and once again comes the
feeling of playing a rather ridiculous role, as I circle awkwardly around
the tank over very uneven bricks, and around short corners where an upset
would precipitate me into the tank--amid, I can't help thinking, "roars of
laughter." The Prince is very lavish of his flowery Persian compliments,
and says, "You English have now left nothing more to do but to bring the
dead back to life." In the court-yard my attention is called to a set of
bastinado poles and loops, and Mr. McIntyre asks the Prince if he hasn't
a prisoner on hand, so that he can give us a tomasha in return for the
one we are giving him; but it is now the Persian New Year, and the
prisoners have all been liberated.

Here, gentle reader, in Shahrood--but it now behooves us to be dark and
mysterious, and deal in hints and whispers, for the Persian proprieties
must not be ruthlessly violated and then as ruthlessly exposed to satisfy
the prying curiosity of far off Frangistan that would never do.

Behold, then, Mr. Mclntyre absent; behold all male humans absent save
myself and a couple of sable eunuchs, whose smooth, whiskerless faces
betray inward amusement at the extreme novelty of the situation, and we
all alone between the high brick walls that encircle the secrecy of an
inner court--and yet not all alone, fortell it in whispers--some half-dozen
shrouded female forms are clustered together in one corner. Yashmaks are
drawn aside, and plump oval faces and bright eyes revealed, faces brown
and soft of outline, eyes black, large and lustrous, with black lines
skillfully drawn to make them look still larger, and lashes deeply
stained to impart love and languor to their wondrous depths. Whisper it
not in Gath, and tell it not in the streets of Frangistan, that the
wondrous asp-i-awhan has proved an open sesame capable of revealing to an
inquisitive and all-observant Ferenghi the collective charms of a Persian
swell's harem!

We can imagine these ladies in the seclusion of the zenana hearing of the
Ferenghi and his wonderful iron horse, and overwhelmed with feminine
curiosity, with much coaxing and promising, obtaining reluctant consent
for a strictly secret and decorous tomasha, with covered faces and no one
present but the attendant eunuchs and the Ferenghi, who, fortunately,
will soon leave the country, never to return. Mohammedan women are merely
overgrown children, and the promise of strict decorousness is forgotten
or ignored the moment the tomasha begins; and the fun and the wickedness
of removing their yashmaks in the presence of a Ferenghi is too rare an
opportunity to be missed, and, no doubt, furnishes them with material for
amusing conversation for many a day after. Rare fun these ladies think it
to uncover their olive faces and let the Ferenghi see their beauty; the
eunuchs are generally indulgent to their charges whenever they can safely
be so, and on this occasion they content themselves with looking on and
saying nothing. After seeing me ride, the ladies cluster boldly around
and examine the bicycle, chatting freely among themselves the while
concerning its capabilities; but some of the younger ladies regard me
with fully as much curiosity as the bicycle, for never before did they
have such an opportunity of scrutinizing a Ferenghi.

And now, while granted the privilege of this little revelation, we must
be very careful not to reveal the secret of whose harem we have seen
unveiled, and whose inner court our paran wheels have pressed; for the
whirligig of time brings about strange things, and apparently trifling
things that have been indiscreetly published by travellers in books at
home, have sometimes found their way back to the far East, and caused
embarrassment and chagrin to people who treated them with hospitality and
respect.



CHAPTER IV.

THROUGH KHORASSAN.

Shahrood is at the exit from the mountains of the caravan route from
Asterabad, Mazanderan, and the Caspian coast. The mountains overlooking
it are bare and rocky. A good trade seems to be done by several firms of
Russian-Armenians in exporting wool, cotton, and pelts to Russia, and
handling Russian iron and petroleum. But for the iniquitous method of
taxation, which consists really of looting the producing classes of all
they can stand, the volume of trade here might easily be tenfold what it
is.

Shahrood is, or rather was, one of the "four stations of terror,"
Mijamid, Miandasht, and Abassabad being the other three, so called on
account of their exposed position and the consequent frequency of
Turcoman attacks. Even nowadays they have their little ripples of
excitement; rumors of Turcoman raids are heard in the bazaars, and news
was brought in and telegraphed to Teheran a week ago that fifteen
thousand sheep had been carried off from a district north of the
mountains. Word comes back that a regiment of soldiers is on its way to
chastise the Turcomans and recover the property; what really will happen,
will be a horde of soldiers staying there long enough to devour what few
sheep the poor people have left, and then returning without having seen,
much less chastised, a Turcoman. The Persian Government will notify the
Russian Minister of the misdoings of the Turcomans, and ask to have them
punished and the sheep restored; the Russian Minister will reply that
these particular Turcomans were Persian subjects, and nothing further
will be done.

Mr. Mclntyre is a canny Scot, a Royal Engineer, and weighs fully three
hundred pounds; but with this avoirdupois he is far from being inactive,
and together we ramble up the Asterabad Pass to take a look at the Bostam
Valley on the other side. The valley isn't much to look at; no verdure,
only a brown, barren plain, surrounded on all sides by equally brown,
barren mountains. In the evening the Prince sends round a pheasant, and
shortly after calls himself and partakes of tea and cigarettes,

I accept Mr. McIntyre's invitation to remain and rest up, but only for
another day, my experience being that, when on the road, one or two days'
rest is preferable to a longer period; one gets rested without getting
out of condition. We take a stroll through the bazaar in the morning, and
call in at the wine-shop of a Russian-Armenian trader named Makerditch,
who keeps arrack and native wine, and sample some of the latter. In his
shop is a badly stuffed Mazanderaii tiger, and the walls of the private
sitting-room are decorated with rude, old-fashioned prints of saints and
scriptural scenes. It is now the Persian New Year, and bright new
garments and snowy turbans impart a gay appearance to the throngs in the
bazaar, for everybody changed his wardrobe from tip to toe on
eid-i-noo-roos (evening before New Year's Day), although the "great
unwashed" of Persian society change never a garment for the next twelve
months. Considering that the average lower-class Persian puts in a good
share of this twelve months in the unprofitable process of scratching
himself, one would think it must be an immense relief for him to cast
away these old habiliments with all their horrid load of filth and
vermin, and don a clean, new outfit; but the new ones soon get as thickly
tenanted as the old; and many even put the new garments on over certain
of the old ones, caring nothing for comfort and cleanliness, and
everything for appearance. The Persian New Year's holiday lasts thirteen
days, and on the evening of the thirteenth day everybody goes out into
the fields and plucks flowers and grasses to present to his or her
friends.

Governors of provinces who retain their position in consequence of having
sent satisfactory tribute to the Shah, and ruled with at least a
semblance of justice, get presents of new robes on New Year's Day, and
those who have been unfortunate enough to lose the royal favor get
removed: New Year's Day brings either sorrow or rejoicing to every
Persian official's house.

The morning of my departure opens bright and warm after a thunder-storm
the previous evening, and Mr. Mclntyre accompanies me to the outskirts of
the city, to put me on the right road to Mijamid, my objective point for
the day, eleven farsakhs distant. The streets are, of course, muddy and
unridable, and ere the suburbs are overcome a messenger overtakes us from
the Prince, begging me to return and drink tea with him before starting.

"Tell the Prince, the sahib sends salaams, but cannot spare the time to
return," replies my companion, who knows Persian thoroughly. "You must
come," says the messenger, "for the Khan of Bostam has arrived to pay the
New Year's salaam to the Prince, and the Prince wants you to show him the
bicycle."

"'Must come!' Tell the Prince that when the sahib gets fairly started, as
he is now, with his bicycle, he wouldn't turn back for the Shah himself."

The messenger looks glum and crestfallen, as though very reluctant to
return with such a message, a message that probably sounds to him
strangely disrespectful, if not positively treasonable; but he sees the
uselessness of bandying words, and so turns about, feeling and looking
very foolish, for he addressed us very boldly and confidently before the
whole crowd when he overtook us.

A few small streams have to be crossed on leaving Shahrood for the cast;
splendid rivulets of clear, cold water in which there ought to be trout.
After these streams the road launches at once on to a level camel-thorn
plain, the gravelled surface of which provides excellent wheeling. An
outlying village and caravanserai is passed through at a couple of
farsakhs, where, as might be expected in the "district of terror," are
hundreds of the little towers of refuge. This village would be in a very
exposed position, and it looks as though it is but just now being rebuilt
and repopulated after a period of ruin and desertion. Beyond this village
the towers of refuge and other signs of human occupation disappear; the
uncultivated desert reigns supreme on either hand; but the wheeling
continues fairly good, although a strong headwind somewhat impedes my
progress. Beyond the level plain and the lower hills to the north are the
snowy heights of the Elburz range; a less ambitious range of mountains
forms a barrier some twenty miles to the south, and in the distant
southeast there looms up a dark, massive pile that recalls at a glance
memories of Elk Mountain, Wyoming; though upon a closer inspection there
is no doubt but that the densely wooded slopes of our old acquaintance of
the Rockies would be found wanting.

Twenty miles of this level plain is traversed, and I find myself gazing
curiously at a range of mica-flecked hills off to the right. These hills
present a very curious appearance; the myriads of flakes of mica
scattered all about glitter and glint in the bright sunlight as if they
might be diamonds, and it requires but an easy effort of the imagination
to fancy one's self in some strange, rich land of the "gorgeous East,"
where precious jewels are scattered about like stones. These
mica-spangled hills bear about the same relation to what one's
imagination might conceive them to be as the "gorgeous East" as it
actually exists does to the "gorgeous East" we read of in fairytales.

Beyond the mica hills, I pass through a stretch of abandoned cultivation,
where formerly existed fields and ditches, and villages with an abundance
of portable property tempted Turkoman raiders to guide their matchless
chargers hither. But small outlying settlements hereabout were precarious
places to live in, and the persistent damans generally caused them to be
abandoned entirely from time to time.

The road has averaged good to-day, and Mijamid is reached at four
o'clock. Seeking the shelter of the chapar-khana, that devoted building
is soon surrounded by a new-dressed and accordingly a good-natured and
vociferous crowd shouting--"Sowar shuk! sowar shuk! tomasha!
tomasha!"

As I survey the grinning, shouting multitude from my retreat on the roof,
and note the number of widely-opened mouths, the old wicked thoughts
about hot potatoes and dexterity in throwing them persist in coming to
the fore. Several scrimmages and quarrels occur between the chapar-jee
and his shagirds, and the crowd, who persist in invading the premises,
and the tumult around is something deafening, for it is holiday times and
the people feel particularly self-indulgent and disinclined for
self-denial. In the midst of the uproar, from out the chaotic mass of
rainbow-colored costumes, there forms a little knot of mollahs in huge
snowy turbans and flowing gowns of solid blue or green, and at their head
the gray-bearded patriarchal-looking old khan of the village in his
flowered robe of office from the governor. These gay-looking, but
comparatively sober-sided representatives of the village, endeavor to
have the crowd cease their clamorous importunities--an attempt,
however, that results in signal failure--and they constitute
themselves a delegation to approach me in a respectful and decorous
manner, and ask me to ride for the satisfaction of themselves and the
people.

The profound salaams and good taste of these eminently respectable
personages are not to be resisted, and after satisfying them, the khan
promises to provide me with supper, which at a later hour turns up in the
form of the inevitable dish of pillau.

Two miles on the road next morning and it begins raining; at five miles
it develops into a regular downpour, that speedily wets me through. A
small walled village is finally reached and shelter obtained beneath its
ample portals, a place that seems to likewise be the loafing-place of the
village. The entrance is a good-sized room, and here on wet days the men
can squat about and smoke, and at the same time see everything that
passes on the road. The village is defended by a strong mud wall some
thirty feet high, and strengthened with abutting towers at frequent
intervals; the only entrance is the one massive door, and inside there is
plenty of room for all the four-footed possessions of the people; the
houses are the usual little mud huts with thatched beehive roofs, built
against the wall. The flocks of goats and sheep are admitted inside every
evening, and taken out again to graze in the morning; the appearance of
the interior is that of a very filthy, undrained, and utterly neglected
farmyard, and as no breath of wind ever passes through it, or comes any
nearer the ground than the top of the thirty-foot wall, living in its
reeking, pent-up exhalations must be something abominable.

Such a place as this in Persia would be fairly swarming with noxious
insect life, of which fleas would be the most tolerable variety, and
two-thirds of the people would be suffering from chronic ophthalmia. This
little village, doubtless, had enough to do a few years ago to maintain
its existence, even with its remarkably strong walls; and on the highest
mountain peaks round about they point out to me their watch-towers, where
sentinels daily scanned the country round for the wild horsemen they so
much dreaded. Four men and three women among the little crowd gathered
about me here, are pointed out as having been released from slavery by
the Russians, when they captured Khiva and liberated the Persian slaves
and sent them home. Every village and hamlet along this part of the
country contains its quota of returned captives who, no doubt, entertain
lively recollections of being carried off and sold.

Soon after my arrival here, a little, weazen-faced, old seyud, in a
threadbare and badly-faded green gown, comes hobbling through the rain
and the mahogany-colored slush of the village yard to the gate. Everybody
rises respectfully as he comes in, and the old fellow, accustomed to
having this deference paid him by everybody about him, and wishing to
show courtesy to a Ferenghi, motions for me to keep seated. Seeing that I
had no intention of rising, this courtesy was somewhat superfluous, but
the incident serves to show how greatly these simple villagers are
impressed with the idea of a seyud's superiority, to say nothing of the
seyud's assumption of the same. They explain to me that the little,
unwashed, unkempt, and well-nigh unclad specimen of humanity examining
the bicycle is a seyud, with the manner of people pointing out a being of
unapproachable superiority. Still, looking at the poor old fellow's rags,
and remembering that it is new year and the time for a change of raiment,
one cannot help thinking, "Old fellow, you evidently come in for more
resect, after all, than material assistance, and would, no doubt,
willingly exchange a good deal of the former for a little of the latter."
Still, one must not be too confident of this; the bodily requirements of
a wrinkled old seyud would be very trifling, while his egotism would, on
the other hand, be insufferable. This is a grazing village chiefly, and
the gravelly desert comes close up to the walls, so that there is no
difficulty about pushing on immediately after it ceases raining.

Two farsakhs of variable wheeling through a belt of low hills and broken
country, and two more over the level Miandasht Plain, and the
caravanserai of Miandasht is reached. Here the village, the telegraph
office and everything is enclosed within the protecting walls of an
immense Shah Abbas caravanserai, a building capable of affording shelter
and protection to five thousand people. In the old--and yet not so very
old--dangerous days, it was necessary, for safety, that travellers and
pilgrims should journey together through this section of country in large
caravans, otherwise disaster was sure to overtake them; and Shah Abbas
the Great built these huge caravanserais for their accommodation. In
deference to the memory of this monarch as a builder of caravanserais all
over the country, any large serai is nowadays called a Shah Abbas
caravanserai, whether built by him or not. Certainly not less than three
hundred pack-camels, besides other animals, are resting and feeding, or
being loaded up for the night march as I ride up, their myriad clanging
bells making a din that comes floating across the plain to meet me as I
approach.

Miandasht is the first place in Khorassan proper, and among the motley
gathering of charmdars, camel-drivers, pilgrims, travellers, villagers
and hangers-on about the serai, are many Khorassanis wearing huge
sheepskin busbies, similar to the head-gear of the Roumanians and Tabreez
Turks of Ovahjik and the Perso-Turkish border. Most of these busbies are
black or brown, but some affect a mixture of black and white, a piebald
affair that looks very striking and peculiar.

The telegraph-jee here turns out to be a person of immense importance in
his own estimation, and he has evidently succeeded in impressing the same
belief upon the unsophisticated minds of the villagers, who, apparently,
have come to regard him as little less than "monarch of all he surveys."
True, there isn't much to survey at Miaudasht, everything there being
within the caravanserai walls; but whenever the telegraph-jee emerges
from the seclusion of his little office, it is to blossom forth upon the
theatre of the crowd's admiring glances in the fanciful habiliments of a
la-de-da Persian swell. Very punctilious as regards etiquette, instead of
coming forth in a spontaneous manner to see who I am and look at the
bicycle, he pays me a ceremonious visit at the chapar-khana half an hour
later. In this visit he is preceded by his farrash, and he walks with a
magnificent peacock strut that causes the skirts of his faultless
roundabout to flop up and down, up and down, in rhythmic accompaniment to
his steps. Apart from his insufferable conceit, however, he tries to make
himself as agreeable as possible, and after tea and cigarettes, I give
him and the people a tomasha, at the conclusion of which he asks
permission to send in my supper.

The room in which I spend the evening is a small, dome-roofed apartment,
in which a circular opening in the apex of the dome is expected to fill
the triple office of admitting light, ventilation, and carrying off smoke
from the fire; the natural consequence being that the room is dark,
unventilated, and full of smoke. Now and then some determined sightseer
on the roof fills this hole up completely with his head, in an effort to
peer down through the smoke and obtain a glimpse of myself or the
bicycle, or a mischievous youngster, unable to resist the temptation,
drops down a stone.

The shagird-chapar here is a man who has been to Askabad and seen the
railroad; and when the inevitable question of Russian versus English
marifet (mechanical skill) comes up, he endeavors to impress upon the
open-mouthed listeners the marvellous character of the locomotive. "It is
a wonderful atesh-gharri" (fire-wagon), he would say, "and runs on an
awhan rah (iron road); the charvadar puts in atesh and ob. It goes chu,
chu! chu!! ch-ch-ch-chu-ch-u-u-u!!! spits fire and smoke, pulls a
long-khylie long-caravan of forgans with it, and goes ten farsakhs an
hour." But in order to thoroughly appreciate this travelled and highly
enlightened person's narrative, one must have been present in the
smoke-permeated room, and by the nickering light of a camel-thorn fire
have watched the gesticulations of the speaker and the rapt attention of
the listeners; must have heard the exclamations of "Mashal-l-a-h!" escape
honestly and involuntarily from the parted lips of wonder-stricken
auditors as they endeavored to comprehend how such things could possibly
be. And yet there is no doubt that, five minutes afterward, the verdict
of each listener, to himself, was that the shagird-chapar, in describing
to them the locomotive, was lying like a pirate--or a Persian--and, after
all, they couldn't conceive of anything more wonderful than the bicycle
and the ability to ride it, and this they had seen with their own eyes.

It is the change of the moon, and a most wild-looking evening; the sun
sets with a fiery forge glowing about it, and fringing with an angry
border the banks of darksome clouds that mingle their weird shapes with
the mountain masses to the west, the wind sighs and moans through the
archways and menzils of the huge caravanserai, breathing of rain and
unsettled weather. These warning signals are not far in advance, for a
drenching rain soaks and saturates everything during the night,
converting the parallel trails of the pilgrim road into twenty narrow,
silvery streaks, that glisten like trails of glass ahead, as I wheel
along them to meet the newly-risen sun. It is a morning of hurrying,
scudding clouds and fitful sunshine, but fresh and bracing after the
rain; a country of broken hills and undulating road is reached in an
hour; the broken hills are covered with blossoming shrubs and green young
camel-thorn, in which birds are cheerily piping.

Six farsakhs bring me to Abbasabad, the last of the four stations of
terror. A lank villager is on the lookout a couple of miles west of the
place, the people having been apprised of my coming by some travellers
who left Miandasht yesterday evening. Tucking the legs of his pantaloons
in his waistband, leaving his legs bare and unencumbered, he follows me
at a swinging trot into the village, and pilots me to the caravanserai.
The population of the place are found occupying their housetops, and
whatever points of vantage they can climb to, awaiting my appearance,
their curiosity having been wrought to the highest pitch by their
informant's highly exaggerated accounts of what they might expect to see.
The prevailing color of the female costume is bright red, and the swarms
of these gayly-dressed people congregated on the housetops, and mingled
promiscuously with the dark gray of the mud walls and domes, makes a
picture long to be remembered.

And long also to be remembered is the reception awaiting me inside the
caravanserai yard--the surging, pushing, struggling, shouting mob, among
whom I notice, with some wonderment and speculation, a far larger
proportion of blue-eyed people than I have hitherto seen in Persia. Upon
inquiry it is learned that Abbasabad is a colony of Georgians, planted
and subsidized here by Shah Abbas the Great, as a check on the Turkomans,
whose frequent alamans rendered the roads hereabout well-nigh impassable
for caravans. These warlike mountaineers were brought from the Caucasus
and colonized here, with lands, exemption from taxes, and given an annual
subsidy. They were found to be of good service as a check on the
Turkomans, but were not much of an improvement upon the Turkomans
themselves in many respects. As seen in the caravanserai to-day, they
seem a turbulent, headstrong crowd of people, accustomed to be petted,
and to do pretty much as they please.

At the caravanserai is a traveller who says he hails from the Pishin
Valley, and he produces a certificate in English, recommending him as a
stone mason. The certificate settles all doubts of his being from India,
for were one to meet an Hindostani in the classic shades of purgatory
itself, he would immediately produce a certificate recommending him for
something or other. As the crowd surge and struggle for some position
around me where they can enjoy the exquisite delight of seeing me sip
tiny glasses of scalding hot tea, prepared by the enterprising individual
who met me two miles out, the Pishin Valley man tries to look amused at
them, and to rise superior to the situation, as becomes a person to whom
a Sahib, and whatever wonderful things he may possess, are nothing
extraordinary. The crowd seem very loath to let such an extraordinary
thing as the bicycle and its rider depart from among them so soon,
although at the same time anxious to see me speed along the smooth,
straight trails that fortunately lead directly from the caravanserai
eastward. Scores of the shouting, yelling mob race, bare-footed and
bare-legged, over the stones and gravel alongside the bicycle, until I
can put on a spurt and out-distance them, which I take care to do as soon
as practicable, thankful to get away and eat the bread pocketed in
disgust at the caravanserai in the peace and quietude of the desert.

Beyond Abbasabad my road skirts Mazinan Lake to the north, passing
between the slimy mud-flats of the lake shore and the ever-present Elburz
foot-hills, and then through several wholly ruined or partially ruined
villages to Mazinan, where I arrive about sunset, my wheel yet again a
mass of mud, for the Mazinan lake country is a muddy hole in spring. A
drizzling rain ushers in the dusky shades of the evening, as I repair to
the chaparkhana, a wretched hole, in a most dilapidated condition. The
balakhana is little better than being out of doors; the roof leaks like a
colander, the windows are mere unglazed holes in the wall, and the doors
are but little better than the windows. It promises to be a cold,
draughty, comfortless night, and the prospects for supper look gloomy
enough in the light of smoky camel-thorn and no samovar to make a cup of
tea.

Such is the cheerless prospect confronting me after a hard day's run,
when, soon after dark, a man arrives with a thrice-welcome invitation
from a Russian officer, who he says is staying at the caravanserai. The
officer, he says, has pillau, kabobs, wine, plenty of everything, and
would be glad if I would bring my machine and come and accept his
hospitality for the night. Under the circumstances nothing could be more
welcome news than this; and picturing to myself a pleasant evening with a
genial, hospitable gentleman, I take the bicycle down the slippery and
broken mud stairway, and follow my guide through drizzling rain and
darkness, over ditches and through miry byways, to the caravanserai.

The officer is found squatting, Asiatic-like, on his menzil floor, his
overcoat over his shoulders. He is watching his cook broiling kabobs for
his supper. It is a cheery, hopeful prospect, the glowing charcoal fire
sparkling in response to the vigorous waving of half a saddle-flap, the
savory, sizzling kabobs and the carpeted menzil, in comparison with the
dreary tumble-down place I have just left. My first impression of the
officer himself, however, is scarcely so favorable as my impression of
the picture in which he is set--the picture as just described; a sinister
leer characterizes the expression of his face, and what appears like a
nod, with an altogether unnecessary amount of condescension in it,
characterizes his greeting. Hopping down to the ground, lamp in hand, he
examines the bicycle minutely, and then indirectly addressing the
by-standers, he says, "Pooh! this thing was made in Tiflis; there's
hundreds of them in Tiflis." Having delivered himself of this lying
statement, he hops up on the menzil front again and, without paying the
slightest attention to me, resumes his squatting position at the fire,
and his occupation of watching the preparations of his cook. Nothing is
more evident to me than that he had never before seen a bicycle, and
astounded at this conduct on the part of an officer who doubtless thinks
himself a civilized being, even though he might not understand anything
of our own conception of an "officer and a gentleman," I begin looking
around for an explanation from the fellow who brought me the invitation,
thinking there must be some mistake. The man has disappeared and is
nowhere to be found.

The chapar-jee accompanied us to the caravanserai, and seeing that this
man has bolted, and that the Russian officer's intentions toward me are
anything but hospitable, he calls the missing man--or the officer, I
don't know which--a pedar suktar (son of a burnt father), and
suggests returning to the cold comfort of the bala-khana. My own feelings
upon realizing that this wretched, unscrupulous Muscovite has craftily
designed and executed this plan for no other purpose but to insult and
humiliate one whom he took for granted to be an Englishman, in the eyes
of the Persian travellers present, I prefer to pass over and leave to the
reader's imagination. After sleeping on it and thinking it over, early
next morning I returned to the caravanserai, bent on finding the fellow
who brought the invitation, giving him a thrashing, and seeing if the
officer would take it up in his behalf. In the morning, the cossacks said
he had gone away; whether gone away or hiding somewhere in the
caravanserai, he was nowhere to be found; which perhaps was just as well,
for the affair might have ended in bloodshed, and in a fight the chances
would have been decidedly against myself.

This incident, disagreeable though it be to think of, is instructive as
showing the possibilities for mean and contemptible action that may lurk
beneath the uniform of a Russian officer. Russian officers as a general
thing, however, it is but fair to add, would show up precisely the
reverse of this fellow, under similar circumstances, being genial and
hospitable to a fault; still, I venture that in no other army in the
world, reckoning itself civilized, could be found even one officer
capable of displaying just such a spirit as this.

The unwelcome music of pattering rain and flowing water in the concert I
have to sit and listen to all the forenoon, and a glance outside is
rewarded by the dreariest of prospects. The landscape as seen from my
lone and miserable lookout, consists of gray mud-fields and gray
mud-ruins, wet and slimy with the constant rains; occasional
barley-fields mosaic the dreary prospect with bright green patches, but
across them all--the mud-flats, the ruins, and the barley-fields--the
driving rain sweeps remorselessly along, and the wind moans dismally.
There is only one corner of my room proof against the drippings from the
roof, and through the wretched apologies for doors and windows the
driving rain comes in. Everything seems to go wrong in this particular
place. I obtain tea and sugar, but there is no samovar, and the
chapar-jee attempts to make it in an open kettle; the result is sweetened
water, lukewarm and smoky. I then send for pomegranates, which turn out
to be of a sour, uneatable variety; but worse than all is the dreary
consciousness of being hopelessly imprisoned for an uncertain period.

It grows gradually colder, and toward noon the rain changes to snow; the
cold and the penetrating snow drive me into the shelter of the
ill-smelling stables. It blows a perfect hurricane all the afternoon,
accompanied by fitful squalls of snow and hail, and the same programme
continues the greater part of the night. But in the morning I am thankful
to discover that the wind has dried the surface sufficiently to enable me
to escape from my mud-environed prison and its uncongenial associations.

Before getting many miles from Mazinan, I encounter the startling novelty
of streams of liquid mud, rolling their thick, yellow flood over the
plain in treacly waves, travelling slowly, like waves of molten lava. The
mud is only a few inches deep, but the streams overspread a considerable
breadth of country, as my road is some miles from where they leave the
mountains, and they seem to have no well-defined channels to flow in. A
stream of slimy, yellow mud, two hundred yards wide, is a most
disagreeable obstacle to overcome with a bicycle; but confined in narrow,
deep channels, the conditions would be infinitely worse. It is a dreary
and forbidding stretch of country hereabout, the carcasses of camels that
have dropped exhausted by the roadside, are frequently passed, and
jackals feasting on them slink off at my approach, watch my progress past
with evident impatience, and then return again to their feast. Occasional
stretches of very fair wheeling are passed over, and at six farsakhs I
reach Mehr, the usual combination of brick caravanserai and mud village.

Here a halt is made for tea and such rude refreshments as are obtainable,
consuming them in the presence of the usual sore-eyed and
miserable-looking crowd; more than one poor wretch appealing to me to
cure his rapidly-failing sight. A gleam of warm sunshine brightens my
departure from Mehr, and after shaking off several following horsemen,
the going seems quite pleasant, the wheeling being very good indeed. The
mountains off to the left are variegated and beautiful on the lower and
intermediate slopes, and are crested with snow; scudding cloudlets, whose
multiform shadows are continually climbing up and over the mountains,
produce a pleasing kaleidoscopic effect, and here and there a sunny,
glistening peak rises superior to the changeful scenes below.

Sheepskin-busbied shepherds are tending flocks of very peculiar-looking
sheep on this plain, the first of the kind I have noticed. The fatty
continuation of the body, popularly regarded as an abnormal growth of
tail, is wanting; but what is lacking in this respect is amply
compensated for in the pendulous ears, these members hanging almost to
the ground; they have a goatish appearance generally, and may possibly be
the result of a cross. Herds of antelope also frequent this locality,
which by and by develops into a level mud-plain that affords smooth and
excellent wheeling, and over which I take the precaution of making the
best time possible, conscious that a few minutes' rain would render it
impassable for a bicycle; and wild wind-storms are even now careering
over it, accompanied by spits of snow and momentary squalls of hail.

A lone minar, looming up directly ahead like a tall factory chimney,
indicates my approach to Subzowar. The minaret is reached by sunset; it
turns out to be a lone shrine of some imam, from which it is yet two
farsakhs to Subzowar. The wheeling from this point, however, is very
good, and I roll into Subzowar, or, at least, up to its gate, for
Subzowar is a walled city, shortly after dark. Sherab (native wine) they
tell me, is obtainable in the bazaar, but when I inquire the price per
bottle, with a view of sending for one, several eager aspirants for the
privilege of fetching it shout out different prices, the lowest figure
mentioned being three times the actual price. Being rather indifferent
about the doubtful luxury of drinking wine for the amusement of an
eagerly curious crowd, which I know only too well beforehand will be my
unhappy portion, I conclude to chagrin and disappoint the whole dishonest
crew by doing without. One gets so thoroughly disgusted with the
ever-present trickery, dishonesty, and prying, unrestrained curiosity of
the ragged, sore-eyed and garrulous crowds that gather about one at every
halting place, that a person actually comes to prefer a mere crust of
bread in peace by a road-side pool to the best a city bazaar affords.

A well-dressed individual makes his salaam and intrudes his person upon
the scene of my early preparations to depart, on the following morning,
and, when I start, takes upon himself the office of conducting me through
the labyrinthian bazaar and to the gate of exit beyond. I am wondering
somewhat who this individual may be, and wherefore the officiousness of
his demeanor to the crowd at our heels; but his mission is soon revealed,
for on the way out he pilots me into the court-yard of the Reis, or mayor
of the city. The Reis receives me with the glad and courteous greeting of
a person desirous of making himself agreeable and of creating a favorable
impression; trays of sweetmeats are produced, and tea is served up in
little porcelain cups.

As soon as tea and sweetmeats and kalians appear on the board, mollahs
and seyuds mysteriously begin to put in an appearance likewise, filing
noiselessly in and taking their places near or distant from the Reis,
according to their respective rank and degree of holiness. My
observations everywhere in the Land of the Lion and the Sun all tend to
the conclusion that whenever and wherever a samovar of tea begins to sing
its cheery and aromatic song, and the soothing hubble-bubble of the
kalian begins telling its seductive tale of solid comfort and social
intercourse, a huge green or white turban is certain to appear on the
scene, a robed figure steps out of its slippers at the door, glides
noiselessly inside, puts its hand on its stomach, salaams, and drops, as
silently as a ghost might, in a squatting attitude among the guests.
Hardly has this one taken his position than another one appears at the
door and goes through precisely the same programme, followed shortly
afterward by another, and yet others; these foxy-looking members of the
Persian priesthood always seem to me to possess the faculty of scenting
these little occasions from afar and of following their noses to the
place with unerring precision.

Upon emerging from the shelter of the city and adjacent ruins, I find
myself confronted by a furious head-wind, against which it is quite
impossible to ride, and almost impossible to trundle. During the forenoon
I meet on the road a disgraced official, in the person of the
Asaf-i-dowleh, Governor-General of Khorassan, returning to Teheran from
Meshed, having been recalled at New Year's by the Shah to give an account
of himself for "oppressing the people, insulting the Prophet, and
intriguing with the Russians." The Asaf-i-dowleh made himself very
obnoxious to the priests and people of the holy city by arresting a
criminal within the place of refuge at Imam Riza's tomb, and by an
outrageous devotion to his own pecuniary interests at the public expense.
Riots occurred, the mob taking possession of the telegraph-office and
smashing the windows, because they fancied their petition to the Shah was
being tampered with. A timely rain-storm dispersed the mob and gave time
for the Shah's reply to arrive, promising the Asaf-i-dowleh's removal and
disgrace. The ex-Governor is in a carriage drawn by four grays; his own
women are in gayly gilded taktrowans, upholstered with crimson satin; the
women of his followers occupy several pairs of kajavehs, and the
household goods of the party follow behind in a number of huge Russian
forgans or wagons, each drawn by four mules abreast. Besides these are a
long string of pack-camels, mules, and attendants on horseback, forming
altogether the most imposing cavalcade I have met on a Persian road. How
they manage to get the heavily loaded forgans and the Governor's carriage
over such places as the pass near Lasgird is something of a
mystery--but there may be another route--at any rate, hundreds of
villagers would be called out to assist.

An opportunity also presents this morning of seeing the amount of
obstinacy and perverseness that manages to find lodgement within the
unsightly curves and angles of a runaway camel. A riding-camel, led by
its owner, scares at the bicycle, and, breaking away, leads him a lively
chase through a belt of low sand ridges near the road, jolting various
packages off his back as he runs. Every time the man gets almost within
seizing distance of the rope, the contrary camel starts off again in a
long, awkward lope, slowing up again, as though maliciously inviting his
owner to try it over again, when he has covered a couple of hundred
yards. These manoeuvres are repeated again and again, until the chase has
extended to perhaps four miles, when a party of travellers assist in
rounding him up; the man then has to re-traverse the whole four miles and
gather up the things.

A late luncheon of bread, warm from the oven, is obtained at the village
of Lafaram, where I likewise obtain a peep behind the scenes of everyday
village life, and see something of their mode of baking bread. The walled
village of Lafaram presents a picture of manure heaps, holes of filthy
water, mud-hovels, naked, sore eyed youngsters, unkempt, unwashed,
bedraggled females, goats, chickens, and all the unsavory elements that
enter into the composition of a wretched, semi-civilized community. With
bare, uncombed heads, bare-armed, bare-breasted, and bare-limbed, and
with their nakedness scarcely hidden beneath a few coarse rags, some of
the women are engaged in making and baking bread, and others in the
preparation of tezek from cow manure and chopped straw. In carrying on
these two occupations the women mingle, chat, and help each other with
happy-go-lucky indifference to consequences, and with a breezy
unconsciousness of there being anything repulsive about the idea of
handling hot cakes with one hand and tezek with the other. The ovens are
huge jars partially sunk in the ground; fire is made inside and the jar
heated; flat cakes of dough are then stuck in the inside of the jar, a
few minutes sufficing for the baking. The hand and arm the woman inserts
inside the heated jar is wrapped with old rags and frequently dipped in a
jar of water standing by to keep it cooled; the bread thus baked tastes
very good when fresh, but it requires a stomach rendered unsqueamish by
dire necessity to relish it after seeing it baked.

The plain beyond Lafaram assumes the character of an acclivity, that in
four farsakhs terminates in a pass through a spur of hills. The adverse
wind blows furiously all day and shows no signs of abating as the dusk of
evening settles down over the landscape. A wayside caravanserai is
reached at the entrance to the pass, and I determine to remain till
morning. Here I meet with a piece of good fortune in a small way, in the
shape of a leg of wild goat, obtained from a native Nimrod; a thin rod of
iron, obtained from the serai-jee, serves for a skewer, and I spend the
evening in roasting and eating wild-goat kabobs, while a youth fans the
little charcoal fire for me with the sole of an old geiveh.



CHAPTER V.

MESHED THE HOLY.

Warning spits of snow accompany my early morning departure from the
wayside caravanserai, and it quickly develops into a blinding snow-storm
that effectually obscures the country around, although melting as it
touches the ground.

A mile from the caravanserai the trails fork, and, taking the wrong one,
I wander some miles up the mountains ere discovering my mistake.
Retracing my way, the right road is finally taken; but the gale increases
in violence, the cold is numbing to unprotected hands and ears, and the
wind and driving snow difficult to face. At one point the trail leads
through a morass, in which are two dead horses, swamped in attempting to
cross, and near by lies an abandoned camel, lying in the mud and wearily
munching at a heap of kali (cut barley-straw) placed before him by his
owners before leaving him to his kismet; perchance with a forlorn hope
that he might pull through and finally regain his feet.

I have a narrow escape from swamping in the treacherous morass myself,
sinking knee-deep in the slimy, oozing mud-mass, pulling off my geivehs
and having no end of trouble in recovering them.

Shurab is reached about noon, where the customary crowd and customary
rude accommodations await me. Quite an unaccustomed luxury, however, is
obtained at Shurab--a substance made from grapes, called sheerah,
which resembles thin molasses. A communal dish, which I see the
chapar-jee and his sliagirds prepare for themselves and eat this evening,
consists of one pint of sheerah, half that quantity of grease, a handful
of chopped onions and a quart of water. This awful mixture is stewed for
a few minutes and then poured over a bowl of broken bread; they then
gather around and eat it with their hands--that they also eat it with
great gusto goes without saying.

Opium smoking appears to be indulged in to a great extent here, two out
of the three chapar men putting in a good portion of their time "hitting"
the seductive pipe, and tinkering with their opium-smoking apparatus.
They only have one outfit between them; both of them are half blind with
ophthalmia, and the bane of their wretched existence seems to be a
Russian candle-lamp, with a broken globe, that persists in falling apart
whenever they attempt to use it--which, by the by, is well-nigh all
the time--in manipulating the opium needle and pipe. Observing them
from my rude shake-down, after supper, bending persistently over this
broken, or ever-breaking lamp, their sore eyes and shrunken features, the
suzzle-suzzle of the opium as they suck it into the primer and inhale the
fumes--the indescribable odor of the drug pervading the
room--all this would seem to be a picture of an ideal Chinese opium
den rather than of a chapar-khana in Persia.

A broken bridge and miles of deep mud not far ahead has been the burthen
of information gathered from the villagers during the afternoon, and the
chapar-jee urges upon me the necessity of employing men and horses to
carry me and the bicycle across these obstructions into Nishapoor.
Preferring to take my chances of getting through, however, I pay no heed
to these warnings, well aware that the chapar-jee's interest in the
matter begins and ends in the fact that he has horses to hire himself.

In imitation of my example yesterday, I wander off the proper road again
this morning, taking a road that leads to an abandoned ford instead of to
the bridge, a mistake that is probably a very good one to have made when
viewed from the stand-point of mud, as my road is at least the shorter
one of the two.

A wild-looking, busby-decked crowd of Khorassani goatherds from a
neighboring village follow behind me across the level mudflats leading to
the stream, vociferously clamoring for me to ride. They shout
persistently: "H-o-i! Sowar shuk; tomasha! tomasha!" even when they see
the difficult task I have of it getting the bicycle through the mud. I
have singled out a big, sturdy goat-herder to assist me across the
streams, of which I learn there are two, a mile or thereabout apart, and
his compatriots are accompanying us to see us cross, as well as being
impelled by prying curiosity to see how many kerans he gets for his
trouble. The first stream is found to be arm-pit deep, with a fairly
strong current. My sturdy Khorassani crosses over first, to try the
bottom, feeling his way with a long-handled spade; he then returns and
carries the bicycle across on his head, afterward carrying me across
astride his shoulders, landing me safely with nothing worse than wet
feet.

A mile of awful saline mud, and stream number two is reached and crossed
in a similar manner--although here I unfortunately cross part way
over fairly sitting on the water. The water and the weather are both
uncomfortably chilly, and my assistant emerges from the second stream
with chattering teeth and goose-pimply flesh. A liberal and well-deserved
present makes him forget personal discomforts, and, fervently kissing my
hand and pressing my palm to his forehead, he tells me there is no more
water ahead, and, recrossing the stream, he wends his way homeward again.

Fortunately the road improves rapidly, developing beyond the Nishapoor
Valley into smooth, upland camel-trails that afford quite excellent
wheeling. The Nishapoor Valley impresses me as about the finest area of
cultivation seen in Persia, except, perhaps, the Tabreez Plain; and
toward Gadamgah the country gets positively beautiful--at least, beautiful
in comparison. Crystal streamlets come purling and gurgling across the
road over pebbly beds; and, looking northward for their source, one finds
that the usually gray and uninteresting foot-hills have changed into
bright, green slopes, on whose cheerful brows are seen an occasional pine
or cedar. Overtopping these green, grassy slopes are dark, rugged rocks,
and higher still the grim white region of--winter. Somewhere behind
these emerald foot-hills, near Gadamgah, are the famous turquoise mines
alluded to in the "Veiled Prophet of Khorassan." The mines are worked at
the present time, but only in a desultory and unenterprising manner.

Favored with good roads, I succeed in reaching Gadamgah before dark,
where, besides a comfortable and commodious caravanserai, and the
pleasure of seeing around a number of fine-spreading cedars, one can
obtain the rare luxury of pine-wood to build a fire.

Immediately upon my arrival a knowing and respectable-looking old
pilgrim, who calls himself a hadji and a dervish from Mazan-deran,
rescues me from the annoying importunities of the people and invites me
to share the accommodation of his menzil. Augmenting his scanty stock of
firewood and obtaining eggs and bread, quite a comfortable evening is
spent in reclining beside the blazing pine-wood fire, which is itself no
trifling luxury in a country of scanty camel-thorn and tezek. Whenever
the prying curiosity of the occupants of neighboring menzils impels them
to visit our quarters, to stand and stare at me, my friend the hadji
waxes indignant, and, waving a stick of firewood threateningly toward
them, he pours forth a torrent of withering and sarcastic remarks. Once,
in his wrath, he hops lightly off the menzil floor, seizes an individual
twice his own size by the kammerbund, jerks him violently forward, bids
him stare until he gets ashamed of staring, and then, turning him round,
shoves him unceremoniously away again, pursuing him as he retreats to his
own quarters with vengeful shouts of "y-a-h!"

To a few eminently respectable travellers, however, the hadji graciously
accords the coveted privilege of squatting around our fire and chatting.
Being himself a person who dearly loves the music of his own voice, he
holds forth at great length on the subject of himself in particular,
dervishes in general, and the Province of Mazanderaii. Like a good many
other people conscious of their own garrulousness, the hadji evidently
suspects his auditors of receiving his statements with a good deal of
allowance; consequently, when impressing upon them the circumstance of
his hailing from Mazanderan--a fact that he seems to think creditable in
some way to himself--he produces from the depths of his capacious
saddlebags several dried fish of a variety for which that province is
celebrated, and exhibits them in confirmation of his statements.

It is genuine wintry weather, and with no bedclothes, save a narrow
horse-blanket borrowed from my impromptu friend, I spend a cold,
uncomfortable night, for a caravanserai menzil is but a mere place of
shelter after all. The hadji rises early and replenishes the fire, and
with his little brass teapot we make and drink a glass of tea together
before starting out.

At daybreak the hadji goes outside to take a preliminary peep at the
weather, and returns with the unwelcome intelligence that it is snowing.

"Better snow than rain," I conclude, as I prepare to start, little
thinking that I am entering upon the toughest day's experience of the
whole journey through Persia.

Before covering three miles, the snow-storm develops into a regular
blizzard; a furious, driving storm that would do credit to Dakota.
Without gloves, and in summer clothes throughout, I quickly find myself
in a most unenviable plight. It is no common snow-storm; every few
minutes a halt has to be made, hands buffeted and ears rubbed to prevent
these members from freezing; yet foot-gear has to be removed and streams
waded in the bitter cold.

The road leads up into a region of broken hills, and the climax of my
discomfort is reached, when the blizzard is raging with ever-increasing
fury, and the cold has already slightly nipped one finger. While
attempting to cross a deep, narrow stream without disrobing, it is my
unhappy fate to drop the bicycle into the water, and furthermore to front
the necessity of instantly plunging in, armpit deep, to its rescue. When
I emerge upon the opposite bank my situation is really quite critical; in
a few moments my garments are frozen stiff; everything I have with me is
wet; my leathern case, containing the small stock of medicines, matches,
writing material, and other small but necessary articles, is full of
water, and, with hands benumbed, I am unable to unstrap it.

My only salvation consists in vigorous exercise, and, conscious of this,
I splurge ahead through the blinding storm and the fast-deepening snow,
fording several other streams, often emerging dripping from the icy water
to struggle through waist-deep snow-drifts that are rapidly accumulating
under the influence of the driving blast and fast-falling snow. Uncertain
of the distance to the next caravanserai, I push determinedly forward in
this condition for several hours, making but slow progress. Everything
must come to an end, however, and twenty miles from Gadamgah the welcome
outlines of a road-side caravanserai become visible through the thickly
falling snow-flakes, and the din of many jangling camel-bells proclaims
it already occupied.

The caravanserai is found so densely crowded with people, horses, camels,
and their loads that it is impossible to at first carry the bicycle
inside. Confusion, and more than confusion, reigns supreme; every menzil
is occupied, and the whole interior space is a confused mass of
charvadars, stoutly vociferating at one another and at the pack-animals
lying down, wandering about, or being unloaded.

Leaving the bicycle outside in the snow, I clamber over the humpy forms
of kneeling camels, through an intricate maze of mules and over
barricades of miscellaneous merchandise, and, making a virtue of dire
necessity, invade the menzil of a well-to-do looking traveller. Here,
waiving all considerations of whether my presence is acceptable or the
reverse, I take a seat beside their fire and forthwith proceed to shed my
saturated foot-gear. Under ordinary conditions this proceeding would be
nothing less than a piece of sublime assurance; but necessity knows no
law, and my case is really very urgent. When I explain to the occupants
of the menzil that this nolens volens invasion of their premises is but a
temporary arrangement, in the flowery language of polite Persian they
tell me that the menzil, the fire, and everything they have is mine.

After the inevitable examination of my map, compass, and sundry effects,
I begin to fancy my presence something of an embarrassment, and
consequently am not a little gratified at hearing the authoritative voice
of my friend the hadji shouting loudly at the charvadars, telling them
that he is a hadji and a Mazanderan dervish, for whom they cannot clear
the way too quickly. Looking round, I see him appear at the caravanserai
entrance with a party of pilgrims, in whose company he has journeyed from
Gadamgah. The combined excellences that enter into the composition of a
person who is both a dervish and an ex-Mecca pilgrim are of great benefit
in securing the respect and consideration of the common herd in Persia;
and as, in addition to this, our hadji commands attention by the peculiar
tone and volume of his voice when delivering his commands, his tall,
angular steed is quickly tied up in a snug and sheltered corner and his
saddle-bags deposited on the floor of a fellow-pilgrim's menzil.

Hearing of my arrival, he straightway seeks me out and invites me to
share the accommodation of his new-found quarters, not forgetting to
explain to the people he finds me with, however, that he is a hadji, a
dervish, and that he hails from Mazanderan. I shouldn't be much surprised
to see him back up the latter assertion by producing a dried fish from
the ample folds of his kammerbund; but these finny witnesses are reserved
to perform their role later in the evening.

As the gloom of night envelopes the interior of the caravanserai, and the
scores of little brushwood fires smoke and glimmer and twinkle fitfully,
the scene appeals to an observant Occidental as being decidedly unique,
and totally unlike anything to be seen outside of Persia. Around each
little fire, from four to a dozen figures are squatting, each group
forming a most social gathering; some are singing, some chatting
pleasantly, some quarrelling and arguing violently; some are shouting
lustily at each other across the whole width of the serai; all are taking
turns at smoking the kalian or sipping tea, or preparing supper.
Occasionally a fiery wheel glows through the darkness, from which fly
myriads of sparks, looking very pretty as it describes rapid circles.
This is a. little wire cage, full of live charcoal, that is being swung
round and round like a sling to enliven the coals for priming the kalian.
In the middle space, crowded with animals and their loads, the horses,
being all stallions, are constantly squealing and fighting; camels, are
grunting dolefully, donkeys are braying and bells clanging, and grooms
and charvadars are shouting and quarrelling. Taken all in all, the
interior of a crowded caravanserai is a decidedly animated place.

The snow-storm subsides during the night, and a clear, frosty morning
breaks upon a wintry landscape, in which nothing is visible but snow. The
hadji announces his intention of "Inshallah Meshed, am roos" (please God,
we will reach Meshed to-day) as he covers up the obtrusive tail of a fish
emerging from one of the saddle-bags and prepares to mount. I give him my
packages to carry, by way of lightening my burden as much as possible for
the struggle through the snow, and promise him a bottle of arrack, upon
reaching Meshed, as a reward for thus assisting me through. Arrack is
forbidden fruit to a hadji above all things else, so that nothing I could
promise him would likely prove more tempting or acceptable, or be better
appreciated!

It proves slavish work trundling, tugging, and carrying the bicycle
through the deep snow along a half-broken trail made by a few horses, and
through deep drifts; but the cold, bracing air is favorable for exertion,
and by ten o'clock we reach Shahriffabad, where a halt is made to prepare
a cup of tea and to give the hadji's horse a feed of barley. At
Shahriffabad we are warned that on the hills between here and Meshed snow
will be found two feet deep, streams belly deep to the hadji's horse will
have to be forded, and, toward Meshed, mud knee-deep. Conscious that the
mud will be "knee-deep" the whole distance, after the disappearance of
the snow, this makes us only the more eager to push on while we may.

The sun has by this time become uncomfortably warm, and the narrow trail
is fast becoming a miry pathway of mud and slush under the trampling feet
of the animals gone ahead, and of villagers' donkeys returning from the
city. Mile after mile is devoted to the unhappy task of trundling the
bicycle ahead, rear wheel aloft, through mud and slush varying from
ankle-deep to worse, occasionally varying the programme by fording a
stream.

Late in the afternoon we arrive at the summit of the hills overlooking
the Meshed Plain, and the hadji points out enthusiastically the golden
dome of Imam Biza's sanctuary; the yellow, glistening goal whose famed
sanctity has attracted hosts of pilgrims from all quarters of Central
Asia for ages past. The hills hereabout are of a rocky character, and
pious pilgrims have gathered into little mounds every loose piece of
rock, it being customary for each pilgrim to find a stone and add it to
one of these piles upon first viewing the bright golden dome of the holy
city from this commanding spot.

Below the rocky paths of this declivity the snow disappears in favor of
slippery mud, and the hadji's wearied charger slips and slides about, to
the imminent danger of its rider's neck; and all the time the slim
Turkoman! steed trembles visibly in terror of the old Mazanderan
dervish's whip and his awful threats. Two miles down the bed of the
stream, crossing and recrossing it a dozen times, often thigh-deep, and
we emerge upon the gently sloping area of the Meshed Plain, with the
yellow beacon-light of Meshed glowing in the mellow light of the evening
sun six miles away.

The late storm has been chiefly rain in the lower altitude of the plain,
and the day's sunshine has partially dried the surface, but leaving it
slippery and treacherous here and there. After leaving the bed of the
stream the hadji becomes anxious about reaching Meshed before dark, and
advises me to mount and put on the speed.

"Inshallah, Meshed yek saat," he says, and so I mount and bid him follow
along behind. By vocal suasion and a liberal application of his cruel,
triple-thonged, raw-hide whip, he urges his well-nigh staggering animal
into a canter, lifting his forefeet clear of the ground seemingly by the
bridle at every jump. Suspicious as to his lank and angular steed's
sure-footedness under the strain, I take the very laudable precaution of
keeping as far from him as possible, not caring to get mixed up in a
catastrophe that seems inevitable every time the horse, goaded by the
stinging stimulus of the whip and the threats, makes another jump. Not
more than a mile of the six is covered when I have ample reason for
congratulating myself on taking this precaution, for the horse stumbles,
and, being too far gone to recover himself, comes down on his nose, and
the "hadji and Mazanderau dervish" is cutting a most ridiculous figure in
the mud. His tall lambskin hat flies off and lands in a pool of muddy
water some distance ahead; the ponderous saddle-bags, which are merely
laid on the saddle, shoot forward athwart the horse's neck, the horse's
nose roots quite a furrow in the road, and the horse's owner picks
himself up and takes a woeful survey of his own figure. It is needless to
say that the survey includes a good deal more real estate than the hadji
cares to claim, even though it be the semi-sacred soil of the Meshed
Plain.

The poor horse is altogether too tired to attempt to recover his legs of
his own inclination; but, regarding him as the author of his ignominious
misadventure, the hadji surveys him with a wrathful eye for a moment,
mutters a few awful imprecations--imported, no doubt, from Mazanderan--and
then attacks him savagely about the head with the whip. In his wrath and
determination to make a lasting impression of each blow given, the hadji
emphasizes each visitation with a very audible grunt; and, to speak
correctly, so does the horse. It goes without saying, however, that
master and animal grunt from widely different motives; although, so far
as the mere audible performance is concerned, one grunt might almost be
an echo of the other.

At length, by adopting a more circumspect pace, we reach the gate of the
holy city about sunset without further mishap. The hadji leads the way
through a bewildering labyrinth of narrow streets that consist of an open
sewage-ditch in the centre, at present full of filth, and a narrow
footway of rough, broken, and mud-bespattered cobble-stones on either
side. Of course we are followed through these fearful thoroughfares by a
surging and vociferous crowd of people such as a Central Asian city alone
can produce; but I can this time happily afford to smile at these usually
irritating accompaniments to my arrival in a populous city, for ten
minutes after entering the gate finds me shaking hands with Mr. Gray, the
genial telegraphist of the Afghan Boundary Commission. With a
well-guarded gate between our cosey quarters and the shouting mob
outside, the evening is spent very pleasantly and quietly, in striking
comparison with what it would have been had no one been here to afford me
a place of refuge.

Meshed is "the jumping off place" of telegraphy; the electric spider
spins his galvanized web no farther in this direction, and the dirge-like
music of civilization's--AEolian harp, that, like the roll of
England's drum, is heard around the world, approaches the barbarous
territory of Afghanistan from two directions, but recoils from entering
that fanatical and conservative domain. It approaches from Persia on the
one side, and from India on the other; but as yet it only approaches. The
drum has already been there; it is only a question of time when the
AEolian harp will follow.

It is with lively recollection of Khorassani March weather and the
experience of the last few days that, after a warm bath, I array myself
in a suit of Mr. Gray's clothing, elevate my slippered feet, "Yenghi
Donia fashion," on a pile of Turcoman! carpets, and, abetted by the
cheering presence of a bottle of Shiraz wine, exchange my recent
experiences on the road for telegraphic scraps of the latest news. How
utterly unsatisfactory and altogether wretched seems even the gilded
palace of a Persian provincial governor--the meaningless compliments, the
salaaming lackeys and empty show of courtesy, when compared with the
cosey quarters, the hearty welcome, the honest ring of an Englishman's
voice, and the genuineness of everything!

Shortly after my arrival, a gentleman with a coal-black complexion, a
retreating forehead, and an overshadowing wealth of lip appears at the
door bearing a tray of sweetmeats. Making a profound salaam, he steps out
of his slipper-like shoes, enters, and places the sweetmeats on the
table, smiling a broad expectant-of-backsheesh smile the while he
explains his mission.

"The Sartiep has sent you his salaams and a present of sweetmeats,
preparatory to calling round himself," explains mine host; "he is a
Persian gentleman, Ali Akbar Khan, at the head of the Meshed
telegraph-service, and has the rank of general or Sartiep." The Sartiep
himself arrives shortly afterward, accompanied by his favorite son, a
budding youth of some eight or ten summers, of whose beauty he feels very
justly proud. The Sartiep's son is one of those remarkably handsome boys
met with occasionally in modern Persia, and which so profusely adorn old
Persian paintings. With soft, girlish features, big, black, lustrous
eyes, and an abundance of long hair, they remind one of the beautiful
youths of Oriental romance; his fond parent takes him about on his visits
and finds much gratification in the admiring remarks bestowed upon the
son.

The Sartiep is an ideal Persian official, courteous and complimentary,
but never forgetful of Ali Akbar Khan; his full, round figure and sensual
Oriental face speak eloquently of mutton pillau and other fattening
dishes galore, sweetmeats, cucumbers, and melons; and deep draughts from
pleasure's intoxicating cup have not failed to leave their indelible
marks. In this particular the Sartiep is but a casually selected sample
of the well-to-do Persian official. Leaving out a few notable exceptions,
this brief description of him suffices to describe them all.

Following in the train of the Sartiep arrive more servants, bearing
dishes of kabobs, herb-seasoned pillau, and various other strange, savory
dishes, which, Mr. Gray explains, are considered great delicacies among
the upper-class Persians and are intended as a great compliment to me.

Although Mohammedans, and particularly Shiite Mohammedans, are forbidden
by their religion to indulge in alcoholic beverages, the average high
official in Persia is anything but a sanctimonious individual, and
partakes with a keen relish of the forbidden fruit in an open-secret
manner. The thin, transparent veil of abstemiousness that the Persian
noble wears in deference to the sanctimonious pretensions of the mollahs
and seyuds and the public eye at large, is cast aside altogether in the
presence of intimate friends, and particularly if that intimate friend is
a Ferenghi. Owing to their association in the telegraph-service, mine
host and the Sartiep are on the most intimate terms.  The Sartiep soon
after his arrival intimates, with a humorous twinkle of the eye, that he
feels the need of a little medicine. Mr. Gray, as becomes a good
physician who knows well the constitutional requirements of his patient,
and who knows what to prescribe without even going through the
preliminary act of feeling the pulse, produces a pale-green bottle and a
tumbler and pours out a full dose of its contents for an adult.

The patient swallows it at a gulp, nibbles a piece of sweetmeat, and
strokes his stomach in token of approval.

"What was the medicine you prescribed, Gray?" "High wines," says the
physician, "95 proof alcohol; a bottle that the entomologist of the
Boundary Commission happened to leave here a year ago; it was the only
thing in the house except wine. The patient pronounces it the 'best
arrack' he ever tasted; the firier these fellows can get it the better
they like it."

"Why, it didn't even make him gasp!"

"Gasp--nonsense; you haven't been in Persia as long as I have yet, or you
wouldn't say 'gasp' even at 95% alcohol."

But how polite, how complimentary, these French of Asia are, and how
imaginative and fanciful their language! Not having shaved since leaving
Teheran, after surveying myself in the glass, I feel called upon, in the
interest of fellow-wheelmen elsewhere, to explain to our discerning
visitors that all bicyclers are not distinguished from their fellow men
by a bronzed and stubby phiz and an all-around vagrom appearance.

The Sartiep strokes his beard and stomach, casts a lingering glance at
the above-mentioned green-glass bottle, smiles, and replies: "Having
accomplished so wonderful a journey, you are now prettier with your
rough, unshaven face than you ever were before; you can now survey
yourself in the looking-glass of fame instead of in a common mirror that
reflects all the imperfections of ordinary mortals." Having delivered
himself of this compliment, the Sartiep's eye wanders in the direction of
the 95% alcohol again, and the next minute is again smacking his lips and
complacently stroking his stomach.

In the morning, before I am up, a servant arrives from a Mesh-edi notable
named Hadji Mahdi, bringing salaams from his master, and a letter clothed
in the fine "apparel diplomatique" of the Orient. The letter, although in
reality nothing more than a request to be allowed to come and see the
bicycle, reads in substance as follows: "Salaams from Hadji Mahdi--may he
be your sacrifice!-to Gray Sahib and the illustrious Sahib who has
arrived in Holy Meshed from Teheran, on the wonderful asp-i-awhan, the
fame of whose deeds reaches to the ends of the earth. Bismillah! May your
shadows never grow less! Your sacrifice's brother, Hadji Mollah Hassan,
whose eyes were gladdened by a sight of the asp-i-awhan Sahib at
Shahrood, and who now sends his salaams, telegraphs me--his unworthy
brother--that upon the Sahib's arrival in Meshed I should render him
any assistance he might need. Inshallah, with your permission--may
it not be withheld--your sacrifice will be pleased to call and
gladden his eyes with a sight of Gray Sahib and the illustrious Sahib his
guest."

As might have been expected, the advent of a Ferenghi on so strange a
vehicle as a bicycle, arriving in the sacred city of Imam Eiza's
sanctuary, arouses universal curiosity; and not only the Sartiep and
Hadji Mahdi, but hundreds of big-turbaned Meshedi notables, mollahs, and
seyuds are admitted during the day to enjoy the happy privilege of
feasting their eyes on the latest proof of the Ferenghis' wonderful
marifet,

Upon receipt of the telegram at Shahrood refusing me permission to go
through Turkestan, I telegraphed to Mr. Gray, requesting him to obtain
leave for me to go to the Boundary Commission Camp, and accompany them
back to India, or reach India from the camp alone. Mr. Gray kindly
forwarded my request to the camp, and now urges me to consider myself his
guest until the return courier arrives with the answer. This turns out to
mean a stop-over of seven days, and on the second day immense crowds of
people assemble in the street, shouting for me to come out and ride the
bicycle. The clamor on the streets renders it impossible for them to
transact business in the telegraph office, and several times requests are
sent in begging me to appease them and stop the uproar by riding to and
fro along the street. An outer door separates the compound in which the
house is built from the street, and to prevent the rabble from invading
the premises, and the possibility of unpleasant consequences, the
Governor-General stations a guard of four soldiers at the door. This
precaution works very well so far as the common herd are concerned, but
every hour through the day little knots of priestly men in the flowing
new garments and spotless turbans representing their Noo Roos purchases,
or the lamb's-wool cylinder and semi-European garb of the official,
bribe, coerce, or command the guard to let them in.

These persistent people generally stand in a respectful attitude just
inside the outer gate, and send word in by a servant that a Shahzedah
(relative of the Shah) wishes to see the bicycle. After the first
"Shahzedah" has been treated with courtesy and consideration in deference
to his royal relative at Teheran, fully two-thirds of those who come
after unblushingly proclaim themselves uncles, cousins, or nephews of
"His Majesty, the King of Kings and Ruler of the Universe!" The constant
worry and annoyance of these people compel us to adopt measures of
self-defence, and so, after admitting about a hundred uncles, twice that
number of nephews, and Heaven knows how many cousins, we conclude that
blood-relations of the Shah are altogether too numerous in Meshed to be
of much consequence. Soon after arriving at this conclusion, Mr. Gray's
farrash, an Armenian he brought with him from Ispahan, comes in with a
message that another Shahzedah has succeeded in getting past the guard
and sends in his salaams. "Shahzedah be d----d! Turn him out--put him
outside, and tell the guards to let nobody else in without our
permission!"

A moment later the farrash re-enters with the look of a man scarcely able
to control his risibilities, and says the man and his friends are still
inside the gate.

"Why the devil don't you put them out, as you are told, then?"

"He says he is the Padishah's step-father."

"Well, what if he is the Padishah's step-father? It's nothing to be the
Shah's step-father; the Shah probably has five hundred step-father's, to
say the least--turn him out. No; hold hard; let him stay."

We conclude that a step-father to the king, whether genuine or only a
counterfeit, is at least something of a relief after the swarms of
nephews, cousins, and uncles, and so order him to be shown in He proves
to be a corpulent little man about sixty, who advances up the bricked
walk toward us, making about three extra profound salaams to the rod and
smiling in a curious, apprehensive manner, as though not quite assured of
his reception. About a dozen long-robed mollahs and seyuds follow with
timid hesitancy in his wake. Strange to say, he makes no allusion to his
illustrious step-son, the King of Kings at Teheran; and plainly betrays
embarrassment when Gray mentions the fact of my having appeared before
him on the wheel. We conclude that the Shah's step-father and the little
group of holy men clubbed together and paid the Persian guard about a
keran to let them in, and perhaps another half-keran to the Armenian
farrash for not summarily turning them out. He tries very hard, however,
to make himself agreeable, and when told about the Russians refusing me
the road, exclaims artfully: "I was not an enemy of the Russians before I
heard this, but now I am their worst enemy! Suppose the Sahib's iron
horse was a wheel of fire, what harm would it do their country even
then?"

Our most distinguished caller to-day is Mirza Abbas Khan, C. I. E., a
Kandahari gentleman, who has been the British political agent at Meshed
for many years. He makes a formal call in all the glory of his official
garments, a magnificent Cashmere coat lined with Russian sable and
profusely trimmed with gold braid; a servant leads his gayly caparisoned
horse, and another brings up the rear with a richly mounted kalian.

Appearances count for something among the people of Northeastern Persia,
and Abbas Khan draws a sufficiently large salary to enable him to wear
gorgeous clothes, and thereby dim the lustre of his bitter rival, the
political agent of Russia.

Abbas Khan is perhaps the handsomest man in Meshed, is in the prime of
life, dyes his flowing beard an orthodox red, and possesses most charming
manners; in addition to his ample salary he owns the revenue of a village
near Meshed, and seems to be altogether the right man in the right place.

Abbas Khan and a friend of his from Herat both agree that the
difficulties and dangers of Afghanistan will be likely to prove
insurmountable; at the same time promising any assistance they can render
me in getting to India, consistent, of course, with Abbas Khan's duties
as British Agent. It seems to be a pretty general opinion that
Afghanistan will prove a stumbling-block in my path; friends at Teheran
telegraph again, advising me to go anywhere rather than risk the dangers
to be apprehended in that most lawless and fanatical territory. Nothing
can be decided on, however, until the arrival of an answer from the
Commission.

In the meantime, the days slowly pass away in Meshed; every day come
scores of visitors and invitations to go and ride for the delectation of
sundry high officials; ever-present are the crowds in the streets
shouting, "Tomasha! tomasha! Sowar shuk!" and the frequent squabbles at
the gate between the guard and the people wanting to come in.

Above the din and clamor of the crowd outside there sometimes arise the
chanting voices of a party of newly arrived pilgrims making their way
joyously through the thronged streets toward the gold-domed sanctuary of
Imam Riza, the tomb being situated a couple of hundred yards down the
street from our quarters. Sometimes we hear parties of men uttering
strange cries and sounding aloud the praises of Imam Riza, Houssein,
Hassan, and other worthies of the Mohammedan world, in response to which
are heard the swelling voices of a multitude of people shouting in
chorus, "Allah be praised! Allah be praised!!" These weird chanters are
dervishes, who, with tiger-skin mantles drawn carelessly about them,
clubs or battle-axes on shoulder, their long unkempt hair dangling down
their backs, look wildly grotesque as they parade the streets of the
Persian Mecca.

Meshed is a strange city for a Ferenghi to live in; every day are heard
the chanting and singing of newly arriving bands of pilgrims, the
strange, wild utterances of dervishes preaching on the streets, and the
shouting responses of their auditors. Conspicuous above everything else
in the city, as gold is conspicuous from dross, is the golden dome and
gold-tipped minarets of the holy edifice that imparts to the city its
sacred character. The gold is in thin plates covering the hemispherical
roof like sheets of tin; like most Eastern things, its appearance is more
impressive from a distance than at close quarters. Grains of barley
deposited on the roof by pigeons have sprouted and grown in rank bunches
between the thin gold plates, many of which are partially loose,
imparting to the place an air of neglect and decay. By resting their feet
on the dome of this sacred edifice, the pigeons of Meshed have themselves
become objects of veneration; shooting them is strictly prohibited, and a
mob would soon be about the ears of anyone venturing to do them harm.

The two most important persons in Meshed are the acting Governor-General
of Khorassan, and Mardan Khan, Ex-Governor of Sarakhs and Hereditary
Chief of the powerful tribe of Timurees. Of course, the Governor sends
his salaams, and invites me to come round to the government konak and
favor him with an exhibition. Since our refusal to entertain any more of
the "Shah's relations," we find that the worthy and long-suffering Abbas
Khan has been worried almost to the verge of despair by requests from all
over the city begging the privilege of seeing me ride.

"Knowing that you have been worried in the same way yourselves," says
Abbas Kahu, "I have replied to them, 'Is the Sahib a giraffe and I his
keeper? Why, then, do you come to me? The Sahib has travelled a long way,
and is stopping here to rest, not to make an exhibition of himself."

An exception is of course made in favor of the Governor-General and
Mardan Khan. The Government compound is a large enclosure, and to reach
the Governor-General's quarters one has to traverse numerous long
court-yards connected with one another by long, gloomy passage-ways of
brick, where the tramping of the sentinels and the march of retiring and
relieving guards resound through the vaults like an echo of mediaeval
times.

There is nothing particularly interesting about the Governor's
apartments, but Mardan Khan's palace is a revelation of barbaric splendor
entirely different from anything hitherto seen in the country. In
contradistinction to the dazzling, silvery glitter of the mirror-work and
stuccoed halls of the Teheran palaces, the home of the wealthy Timuree
Chieftain is distinguished by a striking and lavish display of colored
glass, gilt, and tinsel.

Mardan Khan is a valued friend of Mirza Abbas Khan and a man of powerful
influence; besides this, he is a pronounced admirer of the Ingilis as
against the Oroos, and my reception at his palace almost takes the
character of an ovation. News of the great tomasha has evidently been
widely spread, crowds of outsiders fill the streets leading to the
palace, and inside the large garden are scores of the elite of the city,
mollahs, seyuds, official and private gentlemen; the numerous niches of
the walls are occupied by groups of closely veiled females. Trundling
through this interesting and expectant crowd with Abbas Khan, Mardan Khan
issues forth in flowing gown of richest Cashmere-shawl material and gold
braid, to greet us and to take a preliminary peep at the bicycle, and to
lead the way into his gorgeously colored room of state.

The scene in this room is an ideal picture of the popular occidental
conception of the "gorgeous East." Abbas Khan and Mar-dan Khan sit
cross-legged side by side on a rich Turcoman rug, salaaming and
exchanging compliments after the customary flowery and extravagant
language of the Persian nobility. The marvellous pattern and costly
texture of Abbas Khan's coat, the gold braid, the Russian sable lining,
and the black Astrakhan cylinder he wears, are precisely matched by the
garments of Mardan Khan. Twenty or thirty of the most important
dignitaries and mollahs of the city are ranged according to their
respective rank or degree of holiness around the room; prominent among
them is the Chief Imam of Meshed, a very important and influential person
in the holy city.

The Chief Imam is a slim-built, sharp-looking individual of about forty
summers, with a face pale, refined, and intellectual; hands white and
slender as a lady's, and a foot equally shapely and feminine. He wears a
monster green turban, takes his turn regularly at the kalian, and passes
it on to the next with the easy gracefulness that comes of good breeding;
and by his manners and appearance he creates an impression of being a
person rather superior to his surroundings.

Liveried pages pass around little glasses of tea, kalians, cigarettes,
and sweetmeats, as well as tiny bottles of lemon-juice and rose-water, a
few drops of these two last-named articles being used by some of the
guests to impart a fanciful flavor to their tea. Now and then a new guest
arrives, steps out of his shoes in the hallway, salaams, and takes his
proper position among the people already here. Everybody sits on the
carpet except me, for whom a three-legged camp-stool has been
thoughtfully provided.

Finally, all the guests having arrived, I ride several times around the
brick-walks, the strange audience of turbaned priests and veiled women
showing their great approval in murmuring undertones of "kylie khoob" and
involuntary acclamations of "Mashallah! mash-all-ah!" as they witness
with bated breath the strange and incomprehensible scene of a Ferenghi
riding a vehicle, that will not stand alone.

Altogether, the great tomasha at Mardan Khan's is a decided success.
Scarcely can this be said, however, of the "little tomasha" given to the
members of Abbas Khan's own family on the way home. Abbas Khan's compound
is very small, and the brick-walks very rough and broken; therefore, it
is hardly surprising to me, though probably somewhat surprising to him,
when, in turning a corner I execute an undignified header into a bunch of
busbies.

The third day after my arrival in Meshed, I received a telegram from the
British Charge d'Affaires at Teheran saying: "You must not attempt to
cross the frontier of Afghanistan at any point." Two days later the
expected courier arrives from the Boundary Commission Camp with a letter
saying: "It is useless for you to raise the question of coming to the
Commission Camp. In the first place, the Afghans would never allow you to
come here; and if you should happen to reach here, you would never be
able to get away again."

These two very encouraging missives from our own people seem at first
thought more heartless than even the "permission refused" of the
Russians. It occurs to me that this "you must not attempt to cross the
Afghan frontier" might just as easily have been told me at the Legation
at Teheran as when I had travelled six hundred miles to get to it; but
the ways of diplomacy are past the comprehension of ordinary mortals.

What, after all, are the ambitions and enterprises of an individual,
compared to the will and policy of an empire? No matter whether the
empire be semi-civilized and despotic, or free and enlightened, the
obscure and struggling individual is usually rated 0000.

Russia--"permission refused." England--paternally--"must
not attempt;" cold, offish language this for a lone cycler to be
confronted with away up here in the northeast corner of Persia, from
representatives of the two greatest empires of the world. What is to be
done?

Mr. Gray, returning from the telegraph office later in the evening, finds
me endeavoring to unravel the Gordian knot of the situation through the
medium of a brown-study. My geographical ruminations have already
resulted in a conviction that there is no possible way to unravel it and
reach India with a bicycle; my only chance of doing so is to cut it and
abide by the consequences.

"I have just been communicating with Teheran," says Mr. Gray. "Everybody
wants to know what you propose doing."

"Tell them I am going down to Beerjand to consult with Heshmet-i-Molk,
the Ameer of Seistan, and see if it is possible to get through to Quetta
via Beerjand."

"Ever hear of Dadur?" queries Mr. Gray. "Ever hear of Dadur, the place of
which the Persians tritely say: 'Seeing that there is Dadur, why did
Allah, then, make the infernal regions?' That is somewhere in
Beloochistan. You'll find yourself slowly broiling to death on a
geographical gridiron if you attempt to reach India down that way."

"Never mind; tell them at Teheran I am going that way anyhow."

Having entered upon this decision, I bid my genial host farewell on April
7th, and mounting at the door, depart in the presence of a well-behaved
crowd of spectators. In my pocket is a general letter from the
Governor-General of Khorassan to subordinate officials of the province,
ordering them to render me any assistance I may require, and another from
a prominent person in Meshed to his friend Heshmet-i-Molk, the Ameer of
Kain and Governor of Seistan, a powerful and influential chief, with his
seat of government at Beerjand.

Couched in the sentimental language of the country, one of these letters
concludes with the touching remark: "The Sahib, of his own choice is
travelling like a dervish, with no protection but the protection of
Allah."

It is a fine bracing morning as I leave the Mecca of Khorassan behind,
and the paths leading round outside the walls and moat of the city from
gate to gate afford excellent wheeling. The Beerjand trail branches off
from the Teheran and Meshed road about a farsakh east of Shahriffabad;
for this distance I shall be retraversing the road by which I came, and
shall be confronted at every turn of my wheel by reminiscences of dried
fish, a Mazanderau dervish, and an angular steed.

The streams that under the influence of the storm ran thigh-deep have now
dwindled to mere rivulets, and the narrow, miry trail through the melting
snow has become dry and smooth enough to ride wherever the grade permits.
The hills are verdant with the green young life of early spring, and are
clothed in one of nature's prettiest costumes--a costume of seal-brown
rocks and green turf studded with a profusion of blue and yellow flowers.

Shahriffabad is reached early in the afternoon, and the threatening
aspect of the changed weather forbids going any farther today.

Shortly after taking up my quarters in the chapar-khana, a party of
Persian travellers appear upon the scene, and with them a fussy little
man in big round spectacles and semi-European clothes. Scarcely have they
had time to alight and seek out quarters than the little man makes his
appearance at my menzil door in all the glory of a crimson velvet
dressing-cap and blue slippers, and beaming gladsomely through his
moon-like spectacles, he comes forward and without further ceremony
shakes hands. "Some queer little French professor, geologist,
entomologist, or something, wandering about the country in search of
scientific knowledge," is the instinctive conclusion I arrive at the
moment he appears; and my greeting of "bonjour, monsieur," is quite as
involuntary as the conclusion.

"Paruski ni?" he replies, arching his eyebrows and smiling.

"Paruski ni; Ingilis."

"Parsee namifami?"

"Parsee kam-kam."

In this brief interchange of words in the vernacular of the country we
define at once each other's nationality and linguistic abilities. He is a
Russian and can speak a little Persian. It is difficult, however, to
believe him anything else than a little French professor, wise above his
generation and skin-full of occult wisdom in some particular branch of
science; but then the big round spectacles, the red dressing-cap, and the
cerulean leather slippers of themselves impart an air of owlish and
preternatural wisdom.

Six times during the afternoon he bounces into my quarters and shakes
hands, and six times shakes hands and bounces out again. Every time he
renews his visit he introduces one or more natives, who take as much
interest in the hand-shaking as they do in the bicycle. Evidently his
object in coming round so frequently is to exhibit for the gratification
of his own vanity and the curiosity of the Persians, this European mode
of greeting, and the profound depth of his own knowledge of the subject.

Later in the evening the women of the village come round in a body to see
the Ferenghi and his iron horse, and the wearer of the spectacles, the
red cap, and blue slippers, takes upon himself the office of showman for
the occasion; pointing out, with a good deal of superficial enthusiasm,
the peculiar points of both steed and rider.

Particularly is it impressed upon these woefully ignorant fail-ones, that
the bicycle is not a horse, but a machine--a thing of iron and not
of flesh and blood.

The fair ones nod their heads approvingly, but it is painfully apparent
that they don't comprehend in the least, how, since it is an asp-i-awhan,
it can be anything else but a horse, regardless of the material entering
into its composition.

When supper-time arrives the chapar-Jee announces his willingness to turn
cook and prepare anything I order. Knowing well enough that this
seemingly sweeping proposition embraces but two or three articles, I
order him to prepare scrambled eggs, bread, and sheerah. An hour later he
brings in the scrambled eggs, swimming in hot molasses and grease! He has
stirred the grease and molasses together, and in this outlandish mixture
cooked the eggs.

Off the main road the country assumes the character of low hills of red
clay, across which it would be extremely difficult to take the bicycle in
wet weather, but which is now fortunately dry. After three or four
farsakhs it develops into a curious region of heterogeneous parts; rocky,
precipitous mountains, barren, salt-streaked hills, saline streams, and
pretty little green valleys. Here, one feels the absence of any plain,
well-travelled road, the dim and ill-defined trail being at times very
difficult to distinguish from the branch trails leading to some isolated
village. The few people one meets already betray a simplicity and a lack
of "gumption" that distinguish them at once from the people frequenting
the main road.



CHAPTER VI.

THE UNBEATEN TRACKS OF KHORASSAN.

During the afternoon I traverse a rocky canon, crossing and recrossing a
clear, cold stream that winds its serpentine course from one precipitous
wall to another. Mountain trout are observed disporting in this stream,
and big, gray lizards scuttle nimbly about among the loose rocks on the
bank. The canon gradually dwindles into a less confined passage between
sloping hills of loose rock and bowlders, a wild, desolate region through
which the road leads gradually upward to a pass.

Part way up this gorge is a rude stone tower about twenty feet high, on
the summit of which is perched a little mud hut, looking almost as though
it might be a sentry-box. While yet a couple of hundred yards away, a
rough-looking customer emerges from the tower and appears to be awaiting
my approach. His head is well-nigh hidden beneath a huge Khorassani
busby, and he wears the clothes of an irregular soldier. The long, shaggy
wool of the sheepskin head-dress dangling over his eyes imparts a very
ferocious appearance, and he is armed with the ordinary Persian sword and
one of those antiquated flint-lock muskets that are only to be seen on
the deserts of the East or in museums of ancient weapons.

Taken all in all, he presents a very ferocious front; he is, in fact,
about the most ruffianly-looking specimen I have seen outside of Asiatic
Turkey. As I ride up he motions for me to alight, at the same time
retreating a few steps toward his humble stronghold, betraying a spirit
of apprehension lest, perchance, he might be unwittingly standing in the
way of danger. Greeting him with the customary "Salaam aleykum" and being
similarly greeted in reply, I dismount to ascertain who and what he is.
He retreats another step or two in the direction of his strange abode,
and eyes the bicycle with evident distrust, edging off to one side as I
turn toward him, as though fearful lest it might come whizzing into his
sacred person at a moment's notice like a hungry buzz-saw. In response to
my inquiries, he points up toward the pass and offers to accompany me
thither for the small sum of "yek keran;" giving me to understand that
without his presence it is highly indiscreet to proceed.

Little penetration is required to understand that this is one of the
little black-mailing schemes peculiar to semi-civilization, and which, it
is perhaps hardly necessary to explain, comes a trifle too late in the
chapter of my Asiatic experiences to influence my movements or to
replenish the exchequer of the picturesque and enterprising person
desirous of shielding me from imaginary harm.

This wily individual is making his living by the novel and ingenious
process of trading on the fears and credulity of stray travellers, making
them believe the pass is dangerous and charging them a small sum for his
services as guard. It is not at all unlikely that he is the present
incumbent of an hereditary right to extort blackmail from such travellers
along this lonely road as may be prevailed upon without resorting to
violence to pay it, and is but humbly following in the footsteps of his
worthy sire and still more worthy grandsire.

The pass ahead is neither very steep nor difficult, and the summit once
crossed, and the first few hundred yards of rough and abrupt declivity
overcome, I am able to mount and wheel swiftly down long gradients of
smooth, hard gravel for four or five miles, alighting at the walled
village of Assababad in the presence of its entire population.

Some keen-sighted villager has observed afar off the strange apparition
gliding swiftly down the open gravel slopes, and the excited population
have all rushed out in breathless expectancy to try and make out its
character. The villagers of Assababad are simple-hearted people, and both
men and women clap their hands like delighted children to have so rare a
novelty suddenly appear upon the scene of their usually humdrum and
uneventful lives. Quilts are spread for me on the sunny side of the
village wall, and they gather eagerly around to feast to the full their
unaccustomed eyes. A couple of the men round up a matronly goat and exact
from her the tribute of a bowl of milk; others contribute bread, and the
frugal repast is seasoned with the unconcealed delight of my hospitable
audience.

They are not overly clean in their habits, though, these rude and
isolated people; and to keep off prying housewives, bent on satisfying
their curiosity regarding the texture of my clothing and the comparative
whiteness of my skin, I am compelled to adopt the defensive measure of
counter curiosity. The signal and instantaneous success of this plan,
resulting in the hasty, scrambling retreat of the women, is greeted with
boisterous merriment, by the entire crowd.

I have about made up my mind to remain over-night with the hospitable
people of Assababad; but at the solicitation of a Persian traveller who
comes along, I conclude to accompany him to a building observable in the
distance ahead which he explains is a small but comfortable serai. The
good villagers seem very loath to let me, go so soon, and one young man
kneels down and kisses my dusty geivehs and begs me to take him with me
to Hindostan--strange, unsophisticated people; how simple-hearted,
how childlike they seem!

The caravanserai is but a couple of miles ahead, but it is situated in
the dip of an extensive, basin-like depression between two mountain
ranges, and the last half mile consists of mud and water eighteen inches
deep. The caravanserai itself stands on a slight elevation, and is found
occupied by a couple of families, who make the place their permanent
abode and gain a livelihood by supplying food, firewood, and horse-feed
to travellers.

Upon our arrival, a woman makes her appearance and announces her
willingness to cater to our wants.

"Noon ass?"

"Yes, plenty of bread."

"Toke-me-morge neis f"

"Neis; loke-me-morge-neis."

"Sheerah ass?"

"Sheerah neis."

"What have you then besides bread?"

For answer the woman points to a few beruffled chickens scratching for
grains of barley among a heap of rubbish that has evidently been
exploited by them times without number before, and says she can sell us
chickens at one keran apiece.

Seeing the absence of anything else, I order her forthwith to capture one
for me, and the Persian gentleman orders another. The woman sets three
youngsters and a yellow, tailless dog to run down the chickens, and in a
few minutes presents herself before us, holding in each hand the plucked
and scrawny carcass of a fowl that has had to scratch hard and
persistently for its life for heaven knows how many years. One of the
chickens is considerably larger than the other, and I tell the Persian
gentleman to take his choice, thinking that with himself and his two
servants he would be glad to accept the larger fowl. On the contrary,
however, he fixes his choice on the smaller one.

Touched by what appears to be a simple act of unselfishness, I endeavor
to persuade him to take the other, pointing out that he has three mouths
to fill while I have only one. My importunities are, however, wasted on
so polite and disinterested a person, and so I reluctantly take
possession of the bulkier fowl.

The Persian's servant dissects his master's purchase and stows it away
for future use, the three making their supper off bread and a mixture of
grease, chopped onions and sheerah from the larder of their saddle-bags.
The woman readily accepts the offer of an additional half keran for
relieving me of the onerous task of cooking my own supper, and takes her
departure, promising to cook it as quickly as possible.

Happy in the contemplation of a whole chicken for supper, I sit around
and chat and drink tea with my disinterested friend for the space of an
hour. To a hungry person an hour seems an ominously long period of time
in which to cook a chicken, and, becoming impatient, the Persian
gentleman's servant volunteers to go inside and investigate. I fancy
detecting a shadow of amusement passing over the face of the gentleman as
his servant departs, and when he returns with the intelligence that the
chicken won't be tender enough to eat for another hour, his risibilities
get the better of his politeness and he gives way to uncontrollable
laughter. Then it is that a gleam of enlightenment steals over my
unsuspecting soul and tells me why my guileless fellow-traveller so
politely and yet so firmly selected the smallest of the fowls--he is a
better judge of Persian "morges" than I. The woman finally turns up,
bringing the result of her two hours' culinary perseverance in a large
pewter bowl; she has cut the chicken up into several pieces and has been
industriously keeping the pot boiling from the beginning. The result of
this laudable effort is meat of gutta-percha toughness, upon which one's
teeth are exercised in vain; but I make a very good supper after all by
breaking bread into the broth. I don't know but that the patriarchal
ruler of the roost makes at least the richer broth.

Thin ice covers the water when I leave this caravanserai in the gray of
the morning, and the Persian travellers, who nearly always start before
daybreak, have already departed. Stories were heard yesterday evening of
streams between here and the southern chain of mountains, deep and
difficult to cross; and I pull out fully expecting to have to strip and
do some disagreeable work in the water. Considerable mud is encountered,
and three small streams, not over three feet deep, are crossed; but
further on I am brought to a stand by a deep, sluggish stream flowing
along ten feet below the level of the ground. Though deep, it is very
narrow in places, and might almost be described as a yawning crack in the
earth, filled with water to within ten feet of the top.

A little way up stream is a spot fordable for horses, and, of course,
fordable also for a cycler; but the prevailing mud and the chilliness of
the morning combine to influence me to try another plan. A happy plan it
seems at the moment, a credit to my inventive genius, and spiced with the
seductive condiment of novelty, the stream is sufficiently narrow at one
place to be overcome with a running jump; but people cannot take running
jumps encumbered with a bicycle. The bicycle, however, can quickly and
easily be taken into several parts and thrown across, the jump made, and
the wheel put together again.

Packages, pedals, and backbone with rear wheel are tossed successfully
across, but the big wheel attached to fork and handle-bar, unfortunately
rolls back and disappears with a splash beneath the water. The details of
the unhappy task of recovering this all-important piece of property--how I
have to call into requisition for the first time the small, strong rope I
have carried from Constantinople--how, in the absence of anything in the
shape of a stick, in all the unproductive country around, I have to
persuade my unwilling and goose-pimpled frame into the water and duck my
devoted head beneath the waves several times before succeeding in passing
a slip-noose over the handle--is too harrowing a tale to tell; it makes me
shiver and shrink within myself, even as I write.

Beyond the stream the road approaches the southern framework of the plain
with a barely discernible rise, and dry, hard, paths afford fair
wheeling. Looking back one can see the white, uneven crest of the Elburz
Range peeping over the lesser chain of hills crossed over yesterday,
showing wondrously sharp and clear in the transparent atmosphere of a
more or less desert country.

A region of red-clay hills and innumerable little streams ends my riding
for the present, and the road eventually leads into a cul-de-sac, the
source of the little streams and the home of spongy morasses whose
deceptive mossy surface may or may not bear one's weight. Bound about the
cul-de-sac is a curious jumble of rocks and red-clay heights; the strata
of the former inclining to the perpendicular and sometimes rising like
parallel walls above the earth, reminding one of the "Devil's Slide" in
Weber Canon, Utah. A stiff pass leads over the brow of the range, and on
the summit is perched another little stone tower; but no valiant champion
of defenceless wayfarers issues forth to proffer his protection
here--perhaps our acquaintance of yesterday comes down here when he wants
a change of air.

From the pass the descent is into a picturesque region of huge rocks and
splendid streams that come bubbling out from among them, and farther
along is a more open space, a few fields of grain, and the little hamlet
of Kahmeh. Stopping here an hour for refreshments, the country again
becomes rough and hilly for several miles; the road then descends a rocky
slope to the plain, where a few miles ahead can be seen the crenelated
walls and suburban orchards and villages of Torbet-i-Haiderie.

Remembering my letter from the Governor-General to subordinate officials,
I permit a uniformed horseman, who seems anxious to make himself useful
in the premises, to pilot me into the city, telling him to lead the way
to the Mustapha's office. Guiding me through the narrow, crowded streets
into the still more crowded bazaar, he descants, from his commanding
position in the saddle, to the listening crowd, on the marvellous nature
of my steed and the miraculous ability required to ride it as he had seen
me riding it outside the walls. Having accomplished his vain purpose of
attracting public attention to himself through me, and by his utterances
aroused the popular curiosity to an ungovernable pitch, he rides off and
leaves me to extricate myself and find the Mustapha as best I can.

The ignorant, inconsiderate mob at once commence shouting for me to ride.
"Sowar shuk; sowar shuk! tomasha; tomasha!" a thousand people cry in the
stuffy, ill-paved bazaar as they struggle and push and surge about me,
giving me barely room to squeeze through them. When it is discovered that
I am seeking the Mustapha, there is a great rush of the crowd to reach
the municipal compound and gain admittance, lest perchance the gates
should be closed after I had entered and a tomasha be given without them
seeing.

Following along with the crowd, the compound is reached and found to be
jammed so tightly with people that the greatest difficulty is experienced
in forcing my way through them to the Mustapha's quarters. Nobody seems
to take a particle of interest in the matter, save to lend their voices
to help swell the volume of the cry for me to ride; nobody in all the
tumultuous mob seems capable of the simple reflection that there is no
room whatever to ride, not so much as a yard of space unoccupied by human
beings. They might with equal propriety be shouting for a fish to swim
without providing him with water.

The Mustapha is found seated on the raised floor of his open-fronted
office, examining, between whiffs of the kalian, papers brought to him by
his subordinates, and I hand him my general letter of recommendation.
Taking a cursory glance at the contents, he gives a sweep of his chin
toward the bicycle, and says, "Sowar shuk; tomasha." Pointing out the
utter impossibility of complying with his request in a badly-paved
compound packed to its utmost capacity with people; he looks wearily at
the ragged and unruly multitude before him, as though conscious that it
would be useless to try and do anything with them, and then giving some
order to an officer resumes his official labors.

The officer summons a couple of farrashes, and with long willow switches
they flog their way through the crowd, opening a narrow, but instantly
filled again, passage for me to follow. Outside the compound the officer
practically forsakes me and goes over body and soul to the enemy. Filled
with the same dense ignorance and overwhelming desire to see the bicycle
ridden, he desires also to gain the approbation of the crowd, and so
brings all his powers of persuasion to bear against me. Time and again,
while traversing with the greatest difficulty the narrow bazaar in the
midst of a surging mob, he faces about and makes the same insane request,
shouting like a maniac to make his voice audible above the din of a
thousand clamorous appeals to the same purpose. Had I the power to
annihilate the whole crazy, maddening multitude with a sweep of the hand,
I am afraid they would at this juncture have received but small mercy.

The caravanserai is a big, commodious affair, a quadrangular structure of
brick surrounding fully an acre of ground, and with a small open space
outside. There is plenty of room to satisfy their insane curiosity here
without jeopardizing my own neck, and in a fruitless effort to gratify
them I essay to ride. My appearance in the saddle is greeted with wild
shouts of exultation, and in their eagerness to come closer and see
exactly how the bicycle is propelled and prevented from falling over,
they close up in front as well as behind, compelling an instant dismount
to prevent disagreeable consequences to myself. Howls of disapproval
greet this misinterpreted action, and the officer and farrashes commence
flogging right and left to clear a space for another trial.

This time, while circling about in the small amphitheatre, walled around
by shouting, grinning human beings, wanton youngsters from the rear shy
several stones, and the officer comes near giving me a header by
accidentally inserting his willow staff in the front wheel while pointing
out to the crowd the action of the pedals and the modus operandi of
things in general. The officer evidently regards me as the merest dummy,
unable to speak or comprehend a word of the language, or help myself in
any way--the result, it is presumed, of some explanation to that effect in
the letter--and he stalks about with the proud bearing and
self-conscious expression of a showman catering successfully to an
appreciative and applauding populace.

The accommodation provided at the caravanserai consists of doorless
menzils, elevated three feet above the ground; a walled partition, with
an open archway, divides the quarters into a room behind and an open
porch in front. Conducting me to one of these free-for-anybody places,
which I could just as easily have found and occupied without his
assistance, he takes his departure, leaving me to the tender
consideration of an overbearing, ragamuffin mob, in whom the spirit of
wantonness is already aroused.

I attempt to appeal to the reason of my obstreperous audience by standing
on the menzil front and delivering a harangue in such Persian as I have
at command.

"Sowar shuk, neis, tomasha, caravanserai neis rah koob neis. Inshalla
saba, gitti koob rah Beerjandi, khylie koob lomasha-kh-y-l-ie koob
tomasha saba," is the burden of this harangue; but eloquent though it be
in its simplicity, it fails to accomplish the desired end. Their reply to
it all takes the form of howls of disapproval, and the importunities to
ride become more clamorous than ever.

An effort to keep them from taking possession of my quarters by shoving
them off the front porch, results in my being seized roughly by the
throat by one determined assailant and cracked on the head with a stick
by another. Ignorant of a Ferenghi's mode of attack, the presumptuous
individual, with his hand twisted in my neck-handkerchief, cocks his head
in a semi-sidewise attitude, in splendid position to be dropped like a
pole-axed steer by a neat tap on the temple. He wears the green
kammerbund of a seyud, however; and even under the shadow of the
legations in Teheran, it is a very serious and risky thing to strike a
descendant of the Prophet. For a lone infidel to do so in the presence of
two thousand Mussulman fanatics, already imbued with the spirit of
wantonness, would be little less than deliberate suicide, so a sense of
discretion intervenes to spare him the humiliation of being knocked out
of time by an unhallowed fist. The stiff, United States army helmet,
obtained, it will be remembered, at Fort Sidney, Nebraska, and worn on
the road ever since, saves my bump of veneration from actual contact with
the stick of number two; and finding me making only a passive resistance,
the valiant individual in the green kammerbund relaxes both the severity
of his scowl and his grip on my neck gear.

After this there is no use trying to keep them from invading my quarters,
and I deem it advisable to stand closely by the bicycle, humoring their
curiosity and getting along with them as peaceably as possible. The crowd
present is constantly augmented by new arrivals from without; at least
two thousand people are struggling, pushing and shouting, some coming
forward to invade my menzil, others endeavoring to escape from the crush.
While the rowdiest portion of the crowd struggle and push and shout in
the foreground of this remarkable scene, little knots of big-turbaned
mollahs and better-class citizens are laying their precious heads
together scheming against me in the rear. Now and then a messenger in the
semi-military garb of a farrash, pushes his way to the front and delivers
a message from these worthies, full of lies and deceit. From the top of
their shaved and turbaned heads to the soles of their slip-shod feet they
are filled with a pig-headed determination to accomplish their object of
seeing the bicycle ridden. They send me all sorts of messages, from one
of but ordinary improbability, saying that the Mustapha is outside and
wants me to come out and ride, to one altogether ridiculous in its wild
absurdity, promising me a present of two tomans.

Occasionally a dervish holds aloft the fantastic paraphernalia of his
profession, battles his way through the surging human surf, and with his
black, ferret-like eyes gleaming with unconscious ferocity through a
vision of unkempt hair, thrusts his cocoa-nut alms-receiver under my nose
and says, "Huk yah huk!" or "backsheesh!" Shouted at, gesticulated at,
intrigued against and solicited for alms all at the same time, and with
brain-turning persistency, the classic halls of Bedlam would, in
contrast, be a reposeful and calm retreat. Driven by my tormentors almost
to the desperate resolve of emptying my six-shooter among them, let the
result to myself be what it may, the sun of my persecutions has not
reached the meridian even yet. The officer who an hour ago
inconsiderately left me to my own resources, now returns with a large
party of friends, bent on seeing the same wonderful sight that has
seemingly set the whole city in an uproar. He has been about the place
collecting friends and acquaintances for the purpose of treating them to
an exhibition of my skill on the wheel. The purpose of the officer's
return, with his friends, is readily understood by the crowd, and his
arrival is announced by a universal roar of "Sowar shuk! tomasha!" as
though not one of this insatiable mob had yet seen me ride.

Appearing before the elevated porch of the menzil, he beckons me to "come
ahead" in quite an authoritative manner. The peculiar beckoning twist of
this presumptuous individual's chin and henna-stained beard summoning me
to come out and "perform" reminds me of nothing so much as some tamer of
wild animals ordering a trained baboon to spruce himself up and dance for
the edification of the circus-going public. Signifying my unwillingness
to be thus made a circus of over and over again, the officer beckons even
more peremptorily than before, and even makes a feint of coming and
fetching me out by force.

As may well be believed, the sum of my patience is no longer equal to the
strain, and jerking my revolver around from the obscurity of its
hiding-place at my hip to where it can plainly be seen, and laying a hand
menacingly on the butt, I warn him to clear off, in a manner that causes
him to wilt and turn pale. He leaves the caravanserai at once in high
dudgeon. It has been a most humiliating occasion for him, to fall so
ignobly from the very high horse on which he just entered with his bosom
friends; but it is no more than he rightly deserves.

Shortly after this little incident the part-proprietor of a tchai-khan
not far from the caravanserai, proposes that I leave my menzil and come
with him to his place. Happy in the prospect of any kind of a change that
will secure me a little peace, I readily agree to the proposal and at
once take my departure. A few stones are thrown, fortunately without
doing any damage, ere the tchai-khan is reached; but once inside, the
situation is materially improved.

It soon transpires that the speculative proprietors have conceived the
bright idea of utilizing me as an attraction to draw customers to their
place of business. Two men are stationed at the door with clubs, and
admittance is only granted to likely-looking people who have money to
spend on water-pipes and tea. A rival attraction already occupies the
field in the person of a Tabreez Turkish luti with a performing rib-nosed
mandril and a drum. Now and then, when the crowd with no money to spend
becomes too clamorous about the doorway, the luti goes to the assistance
of the guards, and giving the mandril the length of his chain, chases the
people away.

These wandering troubadours and their performing monkeys are common
enough all over Persia, and one often meets them on the road or in the
villages; but the bicycle is quite a different thing, and the
enterprising Tchan-jees do a roaring business all the evening with
customers pouring in to see it and me. The bicycle, the luti, and the
mandril occupy the back part of the large room, where several lamps and
farnooses envelop this attractive and drawing combination with a garish
and stagy glow, so that they can be seen to advantage by the throngs of
eager visitors. My own place, as the lion of the occasion, is happily in
the vicinity of the samovar, where liberal-minded customers can treat me
to cigarettes and tea.

Ridiculous as is my position in the tchai-khan, it is, of course,
infinitely superior in point of comfort and freedom from annoyance, to my
exposed quarters over at the caravanserai. The luti sings doubtful love
songs to the accompaniment of finger-strumming on the drum, and the
mandril now and then condescends to stand on its head, grunt loudly in
response to questions, spin round and round like a dancing dervish, and
otherwise give proof of his intelligence and accomplishments. Its long
hair is shorn from the lower portion of its body, but its head and
shoulders are covered with a wealth of silvery-grayish hair that overlaps
the nakedness of its body and gives it the grotesque appearance of
wearing a tippet. The animal's temper is anything but sweet,
necessitating the habitual employment of a muzzle to prevent him from
biting. Every ten or fifteen minutes, as regular almost as the movements
of Father Time, the mandril's bottled discontent at being made to perform
seems to reach the explosive point, and springing suddenly at his master,
he buries his nose viciously among his clothing in a. determined effort
to chew him up. This spasmodic rage subsides in horrible grunts of
disappointment at being unable to use his teeth, and he becomes
reasonably tractable again for another ten minutes.

The luti himself is filled with envy and covetousness at the immense
drawing powers of the bicycle; and in a burst of confidence wants to know
if I am an "Ingilis lut;" at the same time placing his forefingers
together as an intimation that if I am we ought by all means to form a
combination and travel the country together. About ten o'clock the
khan-jees make me up quite a comfortable shake-down, and tired out with
the tough journey over the mountains and the worrying persecutions of the
afternoon, I fall asleep while yet the house is doing a thriving trade;
the luti singing, the mandril grunting, kalians bubbling, and people
talking, all fail to keep me awake.

The mental and physical exhaustion that makes this possible, does not,
however, prevent me from falling asleep with a firm determination to
leave Torbet-i-Haiderie and its turbulent population too early in the
morning for any more crowds to gather. Accordingly, the morning star has
scarcely risen above the horizon ere I turn out, waken one of the
khan-jees, pocket some bread and depart.

Beyond the streams and villages about Torbet-i-Haiderie, the country
develops into a level desert, stretching away southward as far as eye can
reach. The trail is firm gravel, the wind is favorable, the morning cool,
and the fresh, clear air of the desert exhilarating; under these
favorable conditions I bowl rapidly along, overtaking in a very short
time night-marching camel-riders that left the city last night. Traces of
old irrigating ditches and fields in one or two places tell the tale of
an attempt to reclaim portions of this desert long ago; but now the
camel-thorn and kindred hardy shrubs hold undisputed sway on every hand.
During the forenoon a small oasis is found among some low, shaly hills
that give birth to a little stream, and consequent subsistence, to a few
families of people; they live together inside a high mud-walled enclosure
and cultivate a few small fields of grain. The place is called Kair-abad,
and the people mix chopped garlic with their bread before baking it, or
sprinkle the dough liberally with garlic seeds.

About 2 p.m. is reached a much larger oasis containing a couple of
villages; beyond this are diverging trails with no one anywhere near to
ask the way. Choosing the one that seems to take the most southerly
course, the trail continues hard and ridable for a few more miles, when
it becomes lost in a sea of shifting sand. Firmer ground is visible in
the distance ahead, and on it are seen the small black tents of a few
families of Eliautes. Considerable difficulty is experienced in getting
through the sand; but the width is not great, and the dim trail is
recovered on the southern side with the assistance of a chance
acquaintance.

This chance acquaintance is an Eliaute goat-herd, whom I unwittingly
scared nearly out of his senses, and whose gratitude at finding himself
confronting a kindly-disposed human being instead of some supernatural
agent of destruction, is very great indeed. He was slumbering at his
post, this gentle guardian of a herd of goats, stretched at full length
on the ground. Surveying his unconscious form for a moment and carried
away by the animal-like simplicity of his face, I finally shout "Hoi!"
Opening his eyes with a start and seeing a white-helmeted head surveying
him over the top of a weird, bristling object, the natural impulse of
this simple-hearted child of the desert is to seek safety in flight.
Recovering his head, however, upon hearing reassuring words, he adopts
the propitiatory course of rushing impulsively forward and kissing my
hand.

Spending his whole life here on the lonely desert in the constant society
of a herd of goats, rarely seeing a stranger or meeting anybody to speak
to outside the very limited members of his own tribesmen in yonder tents,
he seems to have almost lost the power of conversation. His replies are
mere guttural gruntings, as though the ever-present music of bleating
goats has had the lamentable effect of neutralizing the naturally
superior articulation of a human being and dragging his powers of
utterance down almost to the ignoble level of "mb-b-a-a."

My small stock of Persian words seems also to be altogether lost upon his
warped and blunted powers of understanding, and it is only by an
elaborate use of pantomime that I finally succeed in making my wants
understood. He possesses the simple hospitable instincts of a child of
Nature's broad solitudes; he leads the way for over a mile to put me on
the now scarcely perceptible continuation of the trail, and with a
worshipfully anxious face he begs of me to go and stay over night at the
tents.

My road leads right past the little cluster of black tents; several women
outside collecting stunted brushwood greet me with the silent, wondering
stare of people incapable of any deeper display of emotion than the
animals they daily associate with and subsist upon; half-naked children
stare at me in a dreamy sort of way from beneath the tents. Even the dogs
seem to have lost their canine propensity to resent innovations; the
result, no doubt, of the same dreary, uneventful round of existence, in
which the faculty of resentment has become dwarfed by the general absence
of anything new or novel to bark at.

The tents of the Eliautes are small and inelegant as compared with the
tents of well-to-do Koords, and the physique and general appearance of
the Eliautes themselves is vastly inferior to the magnificent fellows
that we found loafing about the headquarters of the Koordish sheikhs in
Asia Minor and Western Persia.

The trail I am now following is evidently but little used, requiring the
tracking instincts of an Indian almost to keep it in view. It leads due
southward across the broad, level wastes of the Goonabad Desert, the
surface of which affords most excellent wheeling even where there is not
the faintest indication of a trail. Much of the surface partakes of the
character of bare mud-flats that afford as smooth a wheeling surface as
the alkali flats of the West; the surface is covered all over with crisp
sun peelings--the thin, shiny surface of mud, baked and curled upward by
the fierce heat of the sun, and which now crackle like myriads of dried
twigs beneath the wheel. Occasionally I pass through thousands of acres
of wild tulips, and scattering bands of antelopes are observed feeding in
the distance. The bulbous roots of a great many of the tulips have been
eaten by herbivorous animals of epicurean tastes---our fastidious
friends, the antelopes, no doubt. The flags are bitten off and laid
aside, the tender, white interior of the bulb alone is extracted and
eaten, the less tender outside layers being left in the hole. It is a
glorious ride across the Goonabad Desert, a ten-mile pace being quite
possible most of the way; sometimes the trail is visible and sometimes it
is not. With but the vaguest idea of the distance to the next abode of
man, or the nature of the country ahead, I bowl along southward, led by
the strange infatuation of a pathfinder traversing terra incognita, and
rejoicing in the sense of boundless freedom and unrestraint that comes of
speeding across open country where Nature still holds her primitive sway.

Twice I wheel past the ruins of wayside umbars, whose now utterly
neglected condition and the well-nigh obliterated trail point out that I
am travelling over a route that has for some reason been abandoned. A
variation from the otherwise universal level occurs in the shape of a
cluster of low, mound-like hills, whose modest proportions are made
gorgeous and interesting by flakes of mica that glint and glisten in the
sunlight as though the hills might be strewn with precious jewels.

The sun is getting pretty low, and no signs of human habitation anywhere
about; but the wheeling is excellent, and the termination of the
lake-like level is observable in the distance ahead in favor of low
hills. Between my present position and the hills the prospect is that of
continuous level ground. Imagine my astonishment, then, at shortly
finding myself standing on the bank of a stream about thirty yards wide,
its yellow waters flowing sluggishly along twenty feet below the surface
of the desert. The abrupt nature of its banks, and an evidently
unpleasant habit of becoming unfordable after a rain, tell the story of
the abandoned trail I have been following. Whether three feet deep or
thirty, the thick, muddy character of its moving water refuses to reveal,
as, standing on the bank, I ruefully survey the situation.

No time is to be lost in idle speculation, unless I want to stretch my
supperless form on the barren, brown bosom of mother earth, and dream the
dreary visions conjured up by the clamorous demands of unsatisfied
nature; for the sun has well-nigh sunk below the horizon. Clambering down
the almost perpendicular bank I succeed, after several attempts, in
discovering a passage that can be forded, and so, wrapping my clothing,
money, revolver, etc. tightly within my rubber coat, I essay to carry the
bundle across. All goes well until I reach a point just beyond the middle
of the stream, when the bed of the stream breaks through with my weight
and lets me down into a watery cavern to which there appears to be no
bottom. The bed of the stream at this point seems to be a mere thin
shell, beneath which there are other aqueous depths, and fearful lest the
undercurrent should carry me beneath the crust and prevent me recovering
myself, I loose the bundle and regain the surface without more ado. The
rubber covering preserves the clothes from getting much of a wetting, and
I swim and wade to the opposite shore with them without much trouble.

To get the bicycle over, however, looks a far more serious undertaking;
for to break through in this way with a bicycle held aloft would probably
result in getting entangled in the wheel and held under the water. It
would be equally risky to take that important piece of property apart and
cross over with it piece by piece, for the loss of any part would be a
serious matter here.

Several new places are tried, but this one is the only passage that can
be forded. My rope is also too short to be of avail in swimming over and
pulling the bicycle across. Finally, after many attempts, I succeed in
finding a ford immediately alongside where I had broken through, and
after thoroughly testing the strength of the crust by standing and
jumping up and down, I conclude to risk carrying the wheel. Owing to the
extreme difficulty of following the same line, it is scarcely necessary
to remark that every step forward is made with extreme caution and every
foot of the riverbed traversed tested as thoroughly as possible, under
the circumstances, before fully trusting my weight upon it. Once the
crust breaks through again, letting me down several inches; but,
fortunately, the second bottom is here but a matter of inches below the
first shell, and I am able to recover myself without dropping the
bicycle; and the southern bank is reached without further misadventure.

No trail is visible on the crackled surface of the mud-flat across the
river, as I continue in a general southward course, hoping to find it
again ere it becomes too dark Soon a man riding on a camel is descried
some distance off to the right, and deeming it advisable to seek for
information at his hands, I shape my course toward him and give chase.
Becoming conscious of a strange-looking object careering over the plain
in his direction, the man surveys me for a moment from the back of his
awkward steed and then steers his ship of the desert in another
direction. The lumbering camel is quickly overtaken, however, and the
gallant but apprehensive rider makes a stand and threateningly waves me
away. Observing the absence of the familiar long-barrelled gun, I persist
in my purpose of interviewing him regarding the road, and finally learn
from him that the village of Goonabad is eight miles farther south, and
that the trail will be easier followed when I reach the hills. Had he
been armed with a gun, there would have been more or less risk in
approaching him in the dusky shades of evening on so strange a vehicle of
travel; but before I depart he alights from his camel for the
characteristic purpose of kissing my hand.

A couple of miles brings me to the hills, where my riding abruptly comes
to an end; the hills are simply huge waves of sand and dust collected on
the shore of the desert and held together by a growth of coarse shrubs.
The dim light of the young moon proves insufficient for my purpose of
keeping the trail, and the difficulty in trundling through the sand
compels me to seek the cold comfort of a night in the desert, after all.

Goonabad appears to be a sort of general rendezvous for wandering tribes
of Eliautes that roam the desert country around with their flocks and
herds, the tent population of the place far outnumbering the soil-tilling
people of the village itself. A complete change is here observable in
both the climate and the people; north of the desert the young barley is
in a very backward state, but at Goonabad both wheat and barley are
headed out, and the sun strikes uncomfortably hot as soon as it rises
above the horizon. It is a curious change in so short a distance. The men
affect the long, dangling, turban-end of the Afghans and the women
blossom forth in the gayest of colors; the people are refreshingly
simple-hearted and honest, as compared with the knowing customers along
the Teheran-Meshed road.

Sand-hills, scattering fields and villages, and a bewildering time
generally, in keeping my course, characterize the experience of the
forenoon. The people of one particular village passed through are
observed to be all descendants of the Prophet, wearing monster green
turbans and green kammerbunds; the women are dressed in white
throughout--white socks, white pantalettes, and white shrouds; they
move silently about, more like ghostly visitants than human beings.
Distinctly different types of people from the majority are sometimes met
with--full-bearded, very dark-skinned men, whose bared breasts betray the
fact that they are little less hairy than a bison.

Beyond the sand-hills, the villages, and the cultivation is a stony plain
extending for sixteen miles, a gradual upward slant to a range of
mountains. At the base of the mountains an area of dark-green coloring
denotes the presence of fields and orchards and the whereabouts of the
important village of Kakh. Beautifully terraced wheat-fields and
vineyards, and peach and pomegranate orchards in full bloom, gladden the
eyes and present a most striking contrast to the stony plain as the
vicinity of Kakh is reached, and another pleasing and conspicuous feature
is the dome of a mesjid mosaicked with bright-colored tiles.

The good people of Kakh are inquisitive even above their fellows, if such
can be possible, but they are well-behaved and mild-mannered with it.
After taking the ragged edge off their curiosity by riding up and down
the main thoroughfare of the village, the keeper of a mercantile affair
locks the bicycle up in his room, and I spend the evening hobnobbing with
him and his customers in his little stall-like place of business. Kakh is
famous for the production of little seedless raisins like those of
Smyrna. Bushels of these are kicking about the place, and our merchant
friend becomes filled with a wild idea that I might, perchance, buy the
lot. A moment's reflection would convince him that ten bushels of
sickly-sweet raisins would be about the last thing he could sell to a
person travelling on a bicycle; but his supply of raisins is evidently so
outrageously ahead of the demand that his ambition to reduce his stock
obscures his better judgment like a cloud, and places him in the position
of a drowning man clutching wildly at a straw.

Considerable opium is also grown hereabouts, and the people make it into
sticks about the size of a carpenter's pencil; hundreds of these also
occupy the merchant's shelves. He seems to have very little that isn't
grown in the neighborhood except tea and loaf-sugar.

Eyots, who were absent in their fields when I arrived, come crowding
around the store in the evening, bothering me to ride; the shop-keeper
bids them wait till my departure in the morning, telling them I am not a
luti, riding simply to let people see. He provides me with a door that
fastens inside, and I am soon in the land of dreams.

Early in the morning I am awakened by people pounding at the door and
shouting, "A/tab, Sahib-a/tab.'" It is the belated ryots of yesterday
eve; thoroughly determined to be on hand and see the start, they are
letting me know that it is sunrise.

A boisterous mountain stream, tearing along at racing speed over a rocky
bed a hundred and fifty yards wide, provides Kakh with perpetual music,
and furnishes travellers going southward with an interesting time getting
across. This stream must very frequently become a raging torrent, quite
impassable; for although it is little more than knee-deep this morning,
the swift water carries down stones as large as a brick, that strike
against the ankles and well-nigh knock one off his feet.

Beyond Kakh the trail winds its circuitous way through a mountainous
region, following one little stream to its source, climbing over the
crest of an intervening ridge and down the bed of another stream. It is
but an indistinct donkey trail at best, and the toilsome mountain
climbing reminds me vividly of the worst parts of Asia Minor. Toward
nightfall I wander into the village of Nukhab, a small place perched
among the hills, inhabited by kindly-disposed, hospitable folks.

Having seen the unhappy effect of the Governor-General's letter of
recommendation at Torbet-i-Haiderie, and desirous of seeing what effect
it might, perchance, have on the more simple-hearted people of Nukhab, I
present it to the little, old, blue-gowned Khan of the village. Like a
very large proportion of his people, the Khan is suffering from chronic
ophthalmia; but he peruses the letter by the glimmer of a blaze of
camel-thorn. The intentions of these people were plainly most hospitable
from the beginning, so that it is difficult to determine about the effect
of the letter.

Willing hands sweep out the quarters assigned for my accommodation, the
improvised besoms filling the place with a cloud of dust; the doorway is
ruthlessly mutilated to make it large enough to admit the bicycle;
nummuds are spread and a crackling fire soon fills the room with mingled
smoke and light. The people are allowed to circulate freely in and out to
see me, but only the Khan himself and a few of the leading lights of the
village are permitted to indulge in the coveted privilege of spending the
entire evening in my company. The village is ransacked for eatables to
honor their guest, resulting in a bountiful repast of eggs, pillau, mast,
and sheerah.

Away down here among the mountains and out of the world, these people see
nothing more curious than their next-door neighbors from year to year;
they take the most ridiculous interest in such small affairs as my
note-book and pencil, and everything about me seems to strike them as
peculiar.

The entire village, as usual, assembles to see me dispose of the eatables
so generously provided; and later in the evening there is another
highly-expectant assembly waiting around, out of curiosity, to see what
sort of a figure a Ferenghi cuts at his evening devotions. Poor benighted
followers of the False Prophet, how little they comprehend us Christians!
Suddenly it seems to dawn upon the mind of the simple old Khan that,
being a stranger in a strange land, I might, perchance, be a trifle mixed
about my bearings, and so he kindly indicates the direction of Mecca.
When informed that the Ingilis never prostrate themselves toward Mecca
and say "Allah-il-allah!" they evince the greatest astonishment; and then
the strange, unnatural impiousness of people who never address themselves
to Allah nor prostrate toward the Holy City, impresses their simple minds
with something akin to the feeling entertained among certain of ourselves
toward extra dare-devil characters, and they seem to take a deeper and
kindlier interest in me than ever. The disappointment at not seeing what
I look like at prayers is more than offset by the additional novelty
imparted to my person by the, to them, strange and sensational omission.

They seem greatly disappointed to learn that I am going away in the
morning; they have plenty of toke-me-morge, pillau, mast, and sheerah,
they say--plenty of everything; and they want me to stay with them
always. Revolving the matter over in my mind, I am forcibly struck with
the calm, reposeful state of Nukhab society; and what a brilliant field
of enterprise for an ambitious person the place would be. Turned
Mussulman, joined in wedlock to three or four sore-eyed village damsels;
worshipped as a sort of strange, superior being, hakim and eye-water
dispenser; consulted as a walking store-house of occult philosophy on all
occasions; endeavoring to educate the people up to habits of all-round
cleanliness; chiding the mothers for allowing the flies to swarm and
devour the poor little babies' eyes--all this, for toke-me-morge, pillau,
mast, and sheerah, twice or thrice a day! Involuntarily my eye roams over
the gladsome countenances of the eligible portion of my female auditors,
as though driven by this whimsical flight of fancy to the necessity of at
once making a choice. There is only one present with any pretence to
comeliness; and embarrassed, no doubt, by the extreme tenderness of the
stranger's glance, she shrinks from view behind an aged and ugly person
whom I take to be her mother.

Everybody stops to see what a Ferenghi looks like en deshabille, and when
I am snugly sandwiched between the quilts provided, they gather about me
and peer curiously down into my face.

An enterprising youth is on hand at daybreak making a fire; but it is
eight o'clock before I am able to get away; they seem to be mildly
scheming among themselves to keep me with them as long as possible.

The trail winds and twists about among the mountains, following in the
train of a wayward little stream, then leads over a pass and emerges, in
the company of another stream, upon a slanting plateau leading down to an
extensive plain. Rounding the last spur of the hills, I find myself
approaching a crowd numbering at least a hundred people. Hats are waved
gleefully, voices are lifted up in joyous shouts of welcome, and the
whole company give way to demonstrations of delight at my approach. A
minute later I find myself surrounded by the familiar faces of the
population of Nukhab--my road has followed a roundabout course of
six or seven miles, and our enterprising friends have taken a short cut
over the lulls to intercept me at this point, where they can watch my,
progress across the open plain. They have brought along the kind old
Kahn's kalian and tobacco-bag, and the wherewithal to make me a parting
glass of tea.

Eight or ten miles of fair wheeling across the plain, through the
isolated village of Mohammedabad, and the trail loses itself among the
rank, dead stalks of the assafoetida plant that here characterizes the
vegetation of the broad, level sweep of plain. The day is cloudy, and
with no trail visible, my compass has to be brought into requisition;
though oft-times finding it useful, it is the first time I have found
this article to be really indispensable so far on the tour.

The atmosphere of an assafoetida desert is among those things that can
better be imagined than described; the aroma of the fetid gum is wafted
to and fro, and assails the nostrils in a manner quite the reverse of
"Araby the blest." The plant is a sturdy specimen among the annuals: its
straight, upright stem is but three or four feet high, but often
measuring four inches in diameter, and it not infrequently defies the
blasts of the Khorassan winter and the upheaving thaws of spring, and
preserves its upright position for a year after its death. The thick,
dead stems and branching tops of last year's plants are seen by the
thousands, sturdily holding their ground among the rank young shoots of
the new growth.

Mountainous territory is again entered during the afternoon, and shortly
after sunset I arrive at a cluster of wretched mud hovels, numbering
about two dozen. Here my reception is preeminently commercial and
business-like, the people requiring payment in advance for the bread and
eggs and rogan provided.

A nonsensical custom among the people of Southern Khorassan is to offer
one's food in turn to everybody present and say, "Bis-millah," before
commencing to eat it yourself. Although a ridiculous piece of humbug, it
is generally my custom to fall in with the peculiar ways of the country,
and for days past have invariably offered my food to scores of people
whom I knew beforehand would not take it. The lack of courtesy at this
hamlet in exacting payment in advance would seem naturally to preclude
the right to expect the following of courteous customs in return. In
this, however, I find myself mistaken; for my omission to say
"Bis-millah" not only fills these people with astonishment, but excites
unfavorable comment.

The door-ways of the houses here are entirely too small to admit the
bicycle, and that much-enduring vehicle has to take its chances on the
low roof with a score or so inquisitive and meddlesome goats that
instantly gather around it, as though revolving in their pugnacious minds
some fell scheme of destruction. Outside are several camels tied to their
respective pack-saddles, which have been taken off and laid on the
ground. Before retiring for the night, it occurs to my mind that the
total depravity of a goat's appetite bodes ill for the welfare of my
saddle, and that, everything considered, the bicycle could, perhaps, be
placed safer on the ground; in addition to regarding the saddle as a
particularly toothsome morsel, the goats' venturesome disposition might
lead them to clambering about on the spokes, and generally mixing things
up. So, taking it down, I stand it up against the wall, and place a heap
of old pack-saddle frames and camel-trappings before it as an additional
precaution. During the night some of the camels break loose and are heard
chasing one another around the house, knocking things over and bellowing
furiously. Apprehensive of my wheel, I get up and find it knocked over,
but, fortunately, uninjured; I then take off the saddle and return it to
the tender care and consideration of the goats.

Four men and a boy share with me a small, unventilated den, about ten
feet square; one of them is a camel-driving descendant of the Prophet,
and sings out "Allah-il-allah!" several times during the night in his
sleep; another is the patriarch of the village, a person guilty of
cheating the undertaker, lo! these many years, and who snuffles and
catches his breath. The other two men snore horribly, and the boy gives
out unmistakable signs of a tendency to follow their worthy example;
altogether, it is anything but a restful night.



CHAPTER VII.

BEERJAND AND THE FRONTIER OF AFGHANISTAN.

Thirty miles over hill and dale, after leaving the little hamlet, and
behold, the city of Beerjand appears before me but a mile or thereabouts
away, at the foot of the hills I am descending. One's first impression of
Beerjand is a sense of disappointment; the city is a jumbled mass of
uninteresting mud buildings, ruined and otherwise, all of the same dismal
mud-brown hue. Not a tree exists to relieve the eye, nor a solitary green
object to break the dreary monotony of the prospect; the impression is
that of a place existing under some dread ban of nature that forbids the
enlivening presence of a tree, or even the redeeming feature of a bit of
greensward.

The broad, sandy bed of a stream contains a sluggishly-flowing reminder
of past spring freshets; but the quickening presence of a stream of water
seems thrown away on Beerjand, except as furnishing a place for
closely-veiled females to come and wash clothes, and for the daily wading
and disporting of amphibious youngsters. In any other city a part of its
mission would be the nurturing of vegetation.

The Ameer, Heshmet-i-Molk, I quickly learn, is living at his
summer-garden at Ali-abad, four farsakhs to the east. Curious to see
something of a place so much out of the world, and so little known as
Beerjand, I determine upon spending the evening and night here, and
continuing on to Ali-abad next morning.

There appears to be absolutely nothing of interest to a casual observer
about the city except its population, and they are interesting from their
strange, cosmopolitan character, and as being the most unscrupulous and
keenest people for money one can well imagine. The city seems a seething
nest of hard characters, who buzz around my devoted person like wasps,
seemingly restrained only by the fear of retribution from pouncing on my
personal effects and depriving me of everything I possess.

The harrowing experiences of Torbet-i Haiderie have taught a useful
lesson that stands me in good stead at Beerjand. Ere entering the city
proper, I enlist the services of a respectable-looking person to guide
the way at once where the pressing needs of hunger can be attended to
before the inevitable mob gathers about me and renders impossible this
very necessary part of the programme. Having duly fortified myself
against the anticipated pressure of circumstances by consuming bread and
cheese and sheerah in the semi-seclusion of a suburban bake-house, my
guide conducts me to the caravanserai, receives his backsheesh, and loses
himself in the crowd that instantly fills the place.

The news of my arrival seems to set the whole city in a furore; besides
the crowds below, the galched roof of the caravanserai becomes standing
room for a mass of human beings, to the imminent danger of breaking it
in. So, at least, thinks the caravanserai-jee, who becomes anxious about
it and tries to persuade them to come down; but he might as well attempt
to summon down from above the unlistening clouds.

Around two sides of the caravanserai compound is a narrow, bricked walk,
elevated to the level of the menzil floors; at the imminent risk of
breaking my neck, I endeavor to appease the clamorous multitude, riding
to and fro for the edification of what is probably the wildest-looking
assembly that could be collected anywhere in the world. Afghans, with
tall, conical, gold-threaded head-dresses, converted into monster turbans
by winding around them yards and yards of white or white-and-blue cloth,
three feet of which is left dangling down the back; Beloochees in flowing
gowns that were once white; Arabs in the striped mantles and peculiar
headdress of their country; dervishes, mollahs, seyuds, and the whole
fantastic array of queer-looking people living in Beerjand, travelling
through, or visiting here to trade.

Some of the Afghans wear a turban and kammerbund, all of one piece; after
winding the long cotton sheet a number of times about the peaked
head-dress, it is passed down the back and then ends its career in the
form of a kammerbund about the waist. Fights and tumults occur as the
result of the caravanserai-jee's attempt to shut the gate and keep them
out, and in despair he puts me in a room and locks the door. In less than
five minutes the door is broken down, and a second attempt to seclude
myself results in my being summarily pelted out again with stones through
a hole in the roof.

A Yezdi traveller, occupying one of the menzils--all of which at
Beeriand are provided with doors and locks--now invites me to his
quarters; locking the door and keeping me out of sight, he hopes by
making me his guest to assist in getting rid of the crowd. Whatever his
object, its consummation is far from being realized; the unappeased
curiosity of the crowds of newly arriving people finds expression in
noisy shouts and violent hammering on the door, creating a din so
infernal that the well-meaning traveller quickly tires of his bargain.
Following the instincts of the genuine Oriental, he conjures up the
genius of diplomacy to rid himself of his guest and the annoyance
occasioned by my presence.

"If you go outside and ride around the place once more," he says,
"Inshallah, the people will all go home."

This is a very transparent proposition--a broad hint, covered with
the thin varnish of Persian politeness. No sooner am I outside than the
door is locked, and the wily Yezdi has accomplished his purpose of
ousting me and thereby securing a little peace for himself. No
right-thinking person will blame him for turning me out; on the contrary,
he deserves much praise for attempting to take me in.

I now endeavor to render my position bearable by locking up the bicycle
and allowing the populace to concentrate their eager gaze on me, perching
myself on the roof in position to grant them a fair view. Swarms of
people come flocking up after me, evidently no more able to control their
impulse to follow than if they were so many bleating sheep following the
tinkling leadership of a bellwether or a goat. The caravanserai-jee begs
me to come down again, fearing the weight will cause the roof to cave in.
well-nigh at my wit's end what to do, I next take up a squatting position
in a corner and resign myself to the unhappy fate of being importuned to
ride, shouted at in the guttural tones of desert tribesmen, questioned in
unknown tongues, solicited for alms and schemed against and worried for
this, that, and the other, by covetous and evil-minded ruffians.

"The Ingilis have khylie pool-k-h-y-lie pool!" (much money) says one
ferocious-looking individual to his companion, and their black eyes
glisten and their fingers rub together feverishly as they talk, as if the
mere imagination of handling my money were a luxury in itself.

"He must have khylie pool if he is going all the way to
Hindostan-k-h-y-lie pool!" suggests another; and the coveteousness of
dozens of keenly interested listeners finds expression in "Pool, pool;
the Ingilis have khylie pool."

One eager ragamuffin brings me half-a-dozen sour and shrivelled oranges,
utterly worthless, for which he asks the outrageous sum of three kerans;
a second villainous-looking specimen worries me continuously to leave the
caravanserai and go with him somewhere. I never could make out where.

He looks the veriest cutthroat, and, curious to penetrate the secret of
his intentions, and perchance secure something interesting for my
note-book, I at length make pretence of acceding to his wishes.
Bystanders at once interfere to prevent him enticing me away, and when he
angrily remonstrates he is hustled unceremoniously out into the street.

"He is a bad man," they say; "neis koob adam."

Nothing daunted by the summary ejection of this person, a dervish, with
the haggard face and wild, restless eyes of one addicted to bhang, now
volunteers to take me under his protection and lead me out of the
caravanserai to--where? He vouchsafes no explanation where; none, at
least, that is at all comprehensible to me. Where do these interesting
specimens of Beerjand's weird population want to entice me to? why do
they want to entice me anywhere? I conclude to go with the dervish and
find out.

The crowd enter their remonstrances again; but the dervish wears the garb
of holy mendicancy; violent hands must not be laid on the sacred person
of a dervish. Our path is barred at the outer gate of the caravanserai,
however, by two men in semi-military uniforms, armed with swords and huge
clubs; they chide the dervish for wanting to take me with him, and have
evidently been placed at their post by the authorities.

Soon a uniformed official comes in and tries to question me. He is a
person of very limited intelligence, incapable of understanding and
making himself understood through the medium of the small stock of his
native tongue at my command. The linguistic abilities of the strange,
semi-civilized audience about us comprise Persian, Turkish, Hindostani,
and even a certain amount of Russian; not a soul besides myself knows a
single word of English.

After queries have been propounded to me in all these tongues, my
intellectual interviewer gives me up in despair, and, addressing the
crowd about us, cries out in astonishment: "Parsee neis! Turkchi binmus!
Hindostani nay! Paruski nicht! mashallah, what language does he speak?"

"Ingilis! Ingilis! Ingilis!" shout at least a dozen more knowing people
than himself.

"Oh, I-n-g-i-l-i-s!" says the officer, condemning his own lack of
comprehension by the tone of his voice. "Aha, I-n-g-i-l-i-s, aha!" and he
looks over the crowd apologetically for not having thought of so simple a
thing before. But having ascertained that I speak English, he now
proceeds to treat me to a voluble discourse in simon-pure Persian. Seeing
that I fail to comprehend the tenor of the officer's remarks, some of the
garrulous crowd vouchsafe to explain in Turkish, others in Hindostani,
and one in Russian!

In the absence of a lunatic asylum to dodge into, I fasten on to the
officer and get him to take me out and show me the Ali-abad road, so that
I can find the way out early in the morning.

Another caravanserai is found located nearer the road leading from the
city eastward, and I determine to change my quarters quietly by the light
of the moon, leaving the crowd in ignorance of my whereabouts, so that
there will be no difficulty in getting through the streets in the
morning.

Late at night, when the now quieted city is bathed in the soft, mellow
light of the moon, and the crenellated mud walls and old ruins and
archways cast weird shadows across the silent streets, with a few chosen
companions, parties to the secret of the removal, the bicycle is trundled
through the narrow, crooked streets and under arched alleyways, to the
caravanserai on the eastern edge of the city.

Seated beneath the shadowy archway of the first caravanserai is a silent
figure smoking a kalian; as we open the gate to leave, the figure rises
up and thrusts forth an alms-receiver and in a loud voice sings out,
"Backsheesh, backsheesh; huk yah huk!" It is the same dervish that was
turned back with me by the guards at this same gate this afternoon.

My much-needed slumbers at my new quarters are rudely disturbed--as a son
of Erin might, perhaps, declare under similar circumstances--before they
are commenced, by the fearful yowling of Beerjand cats. Several of these
animals are paying their feline compliments to the moon from different
roofs and walls hard by, and their utterances strike my unaccustomed
(unaccustomed to the Beerjand variety of cat-music) ears as about the
most unearthly sound possible.

Fancying the noise is made by women wailing for the dead, from a striking
resemblance to the weird night-sounds heard, it will be remembered, at
Bey Bazaar, Asia Minor (Vol. I), I go outside and listen. Many guesses
would most assuredly be made by me before guessing cats as the authors of
such unearthly music; but cats it is, nevertheless; for, seeing me
listening outside by the door, one of the sharers of my rude quarters
comes out and removes all doubt by drawing the rude outlines of a cat in
the dust with his finger, and by delivering himself of an explanatory
"meow." The yowl of a Beerjand cat is several degrees more soul-harrowing
than anything inflicted by midnight prowlers upon the Occidental world,
and I learn afterward that they not infrequently keep it up in the
daytime.

An early start, sixteen miles of road without hills or mountains, but
embracing the several qualities of good, bad, and indifferent, and at
eight o'clock I dismount in the presence of a little knot of
Heshmet-i-Molk's retainers congregated outside his summer-garden, and a
goodly share of the population of the adjacent village of Ali-abad. While
yet miles away, Ali-abad is easily distinguished as being something out
of the ordinary run of Persian villages by the luxuriant foliage of the
Ameer's garden. The whole country around is of the same desert-like
character that distinguishes well-nigh all this country, and the dark,
leafy grove of trees standing alone on the gray camel-thorn plain,
derives additional beauty and interest from the contrast.

The village of Ali-abad, consisting of the merest cluster of low mud
hovels and a few stony acres wrested from the desert by means of
irrigation, the people ragged, dirty, and uncivilized, looks anything but
an appropriate dwelling-place for a great chieftain. The summer garden
itself is enclosed within a high mud wall, and it is only after passing
through the gate and shutting out the rude hovels, the rag-bedecked
villagers, and the barren desert, that the illusion of unfitness is
removed.

My letter is taken in to the Ameer, and in a few minutes is answered in a
most practical manner by the appearance of men carrying carpets,
tent-poles, and a round tent of blue and white stripes. Winding its
silvery course to the summer garden, from a range of hills several miles
distant, is a clear, cold stream; although so narrow as to be easily
jumped, and nowhere more than knee-deep, the presence of trout betrays
the fact that it never runs dry.

The tent is pitched on the banks of this bright little stream, the
entrance but a half-dozen paces from its sparkling water, and a couple of
guards are stationed near by to keep away intrusive villagers; an
abundance of eatables, including sweetmeats, bowls of sherbet, and dried
apricots, and pears from Foorg, are provided at once.

A neatly dressed attendant squats himself down on the shady side of the
tent outside, and at ridiculously short intervals brings me in a newly
primed kalian and a samovar of tea. Everything possible to contribute to
my comfort is attended to and nothing overlooked; and the Ameer
furthermore proves himself sensible and considerate above the average of
his fellow-countrymen by leaving me to rest and refresh myself in the
quiet retreat of the tent till four o'clock in the afternoon.

Reclining on the rich Persian carpet beneath the gayly striped tent,
entertained by the babbling gossip of the brook, provided with luxuriant
food and watchful attendants, taking an occasional pull at a jewelled
kalian primed with the mild and seductive product of Shiraz, or sipping
fragrant tea, it is very difficult to associate my present conditions and
surroundings with the harassing experiences of a few hours ago. This
marvellous transformation in so short a time--from the madding clamor of
an inconsiderate mob, to the nerve-soothing murmur of the little stream;
from the crowded and filthy caravanserai to the quiet shelter of the
luxurious tent; in a word, from purgatory to Paradise--what can have
brought it about? Surely nothing less than the good genii of Aladdin's
lamp.

A very agreeable, and, withal, intelligent young man, the incumbunt of
some office about the Ameer's person, no doubt a mirza, pays me a visit
at noon, apparently to supervise the serving up of the--more than
bountiful repast sent in from his master's table. My attention is at once
arrested by the English coat-of-arms on his sword-belt; both belt and
clasp have evidently wandered from the ranks of the British army.

"Pollock Sahib," he says, in reply to my inquiries--it is a relic of
the Seistan Boundary Commission.

About four o'clock, this same young man and a companion appear with the
announcement that the Ameer is ready to receive me, and requests that I
bring the bicycle with me into the garden. The stream flows through a low
arch beneath the wall and lends itself to the maintenance of an
artificial lake that spreads over a large proportion of the enclosed
space. The summer garden is a fabrication of green trees and the cool
glimmer of shaded water, rather than the flower-beds, the turf, and
shrubbery of the Occidental conception of a garden; the Ameer's quarters
consist of an un-pretentious one-storied building fronting on the lake.

The Ameer himself is found seated on a plain divan at the open-windowed
front, toying with a string of amber beads; a dozen or so retainers are
standing about in respectful and expectant attitudes, ready at a moment's
notice to obey any command he may give or to anticipate his personal
wants. He is a stoutly built, rather ponderous sort of individual, with a
full, rotund face and a heavy, unintellectual, but good-natured
expression; one's first impression of him is apt to be less flattering to
his head than to his heart. He is a person, however, that improves with
acquaintance, and is probably more intelligent than he looks. He seems to
be living here in a very plain and unpretentious manner; no gaudy stained
glass, no tinsel, no mirror-work, no vain gew-gaws of any description
impart a cheap and garish glitter to the place; no gorgeous apparel
bedecks his ample proportions. Clad in the ordinary dress of a well-to-do
Persian nobleman, Heshmet-i-Molk, happy and contented in the enjoyment of
creature comforts and the universal esteem of his people, probably finds
his chief pleasure in sitting where we now find him, looking out upon the
green trees and glimmering waters of the garden, smoking his kalian, and
attending to the affairs of state in a quiet, unostentatious manner. With
a refreshing absence of ceremonial, he discusses with me the prospects of
my being able to reach India overland. The conversation on his part,
however, almost takes the form of trying to persuade me from my purpose
altogether, and particularly not to attempt Afghanistan.

"The Harood is as wide as from here to the other side of the lake yonder
(200 yards); tund (swift) as a swift-running horse and deep as this
house," he informs me.

"No bridge? no ferry-boat? no means of getting across?"

"Eitch" (no), replies the Ameer. "Pull neis, kishti neis."

"Can't it be forded with camels?"

"Shutor neis."

"No village, with people to assist with poles or skins to make a raft?"

"Afghani dasht-adam (nomads), no poles; you might perhaps find skins; but
the river is tund-t-u-n-d! skins neis, poles neis; t-u-n-d!!" and the
Ameer points to a bird hopping about on the garden walk, intimating that
the Harood flows as swiftly as the flight of a bird.

The result of the conference I have been so anxiously looking forward to
is anything but an encouraging picture--a picture of insurmountable
obstacles on every hand. The deep sand and burning heat of the dreadful
Lut Desert intervenes between me and the Mekran coast; the route through
Beloochistan, barely passable with camels and guides and skins of water
in the winter, is not only impracticable for anything in the summer, but
there is the additional obstacle of the spring floods of the Helmund and
the Seistan Lake.

The Ameer's description of the Lut Desert and Beloochistan is but a
confirmation of my own already-arrived-at conclusions concerning the
utter impracticability of crossing either in the summer and with a
bicycle; but the wish gives birth to the thought that perhaps he may not
unlikely be indulging in the Persian weakness for exaggeration in his
graphic portrayal of the difficulties presented by the Harood.

The region between Beerjand and the Harood is on my map a dismal-looking,
blankety-blank stretch of country, marked with the ominous title
"Dasht-i" which, being interpreted into English, means Desert of Despair.
A gleam of hope that things may not be quite so hopeless as pictured is
born of the fact that, in dwelling on the difficulties of the situation,
the Ameer makes less capital out of this same Desert of Despair than of
the Harood, which has to be crossed on its eastern border.

As regards interference from the Legation of Teheran, thank goodness I am
now three hundred miles from the nearest telegraph-pole, and shall enter
Afghanistan at a point so much nearer to Quetta than to the Boundary
Commission Camp that the chances seem all in favor of reaching the former
place if I only succeed in reaching the Dasht-i-na-oomid and the Harood.

The result of the foregoing deliberations is a qualified (qualified by
the absence of any alternative save turning back) determination to point
my nose eastward, and follow its leadership toward the British outpost at
Quetta.

"Khylie koob" (very well), replies the Ameer, as he listens to my
determination; "khylie koob;" and he takes a few vigorous whiffs at his
kalian as though, conscious of the uselessness of arguing the matter any
further with a Ferenghi, he were dismissing the ghost of his own opinions
in a cloud of smoke.

Shortly after sunrise on the following morning a couple of well-mounted
horsemen appear at the door of my tent, armed and equipped for the road.
Their equipment consists of long guns with resting-fork attachment, the
prongs of which project above the muzzle like a two-pronged pitchfork;
swords, pistols, and the brave but antique display of warlike
paraphernalia characteristic of the East. One of them, I am pleased to
observe, is the genial young mirza whose snuff-colored roundabout is held
in place by the "dieu et mon droit" belt of yesterday; his companion is
the ordinary sowar, or irregular horseman of the country. They announce
themselves as bearers of the Ameer's salaams, and as my escort to Tabbas,
a village two marches to the east.

A few miles of plain, with a gradual inclination toward the mountains;
ten miles up the course of a mountain-stream-up, up, up to where thawing
snow-banks make the pathway anything but pleasant for my escort's horses
and ten times worse for a person reduced to the necessity of lugging his
horse along; over the summit, and down, down, down again over a fearful
trail for a wheelman, or, more correctly, over no trail at all, but
scrambling as best one can over rocks, along ledges, often in the water
of the stream, and finally reaching the village of Darmian, the end of
our first day's march, about 3 p.m.

Darmian is situated in a rugged gulch, and the houses, gardens, and
orchards ramble all over the place--with little regard to
regularity, although some attempt has been made at forming streets.
Darmian and Poorg are twin villages, but a short distance apart, in this
same gulch, and are famous for dried apricots, pears, and dried
beetroots, and for the superior quality of its sheerah.

Among the absurdities that crop up during the course of an eventful
evening at Darmian is the case of a patriarchal villager whose broad and
enlightening experience of some threescore years has left him in the
possession of a marvellously logical and comprehensive mind. Hearing of
the arrival of a Ferenghi with an iron horse, this person's subtle
intellect pilots him into the stable of the place we are stopping at and
leads him to search curiously therein, with the expectation, we may
reasonably presume, of seeing the bicycle complacently munching kah and
jow. This is perhaps not so much to be wondered at, when it is reflected
that plenty of people hereabout have no conception whatever of a wheeled
vehicle, never having seen a vehicle of any description.

The good people of Darmian, as is perhaps quite natural in people near
the frontier, betray a pardonable pride in comparing Persia with
Afghanistan, always to the prodigious disadvantage of the latter. In the
course of the usual examination of my effects, they are immensely
gratified to learn from my map that Persia is much the larger country of
the two. A small corner of India is likewise visible on the map, and,
taking it for granted that the map represents India as fully as it does
Persia, the khan, on whom I am unwittingly bestowing the rudiments of a
false but patriotic geographical education, turns around, and with
swelling pride informs the delighted people that Seistan is larger than
India, and Iran bigger than all the rest of the world, he taking it for
granted that my map of Persia is a map of the whole world.

More and more fantastic grow the costumes of the people as one gets
farther, so to speak, out of civilization and off the beaten roads. The
ends of the turbans here are often seen gathered into a sort of bunch or
tuft on the top; the ends are fringed or tipped with gold, and when
gathered in this manner create a fanciful, crested appearance--impart a
sort of cock-a-doodle-doo aspect to the wearer.

Among the most interesting of my callers are three boys of eight to
twelve summers, who enter the room chewing leathery chunks of dried
beetroot. Although unwashed, "unwiped," and otherwise undistinguishable
from others of the same age about the place, they are gravely introduced
as khan this, that, and the other respectively; and while they remain in
the room, obsequiousness marks the deportment of everybody present except
their father, and he regards them with paternal pride.

They are sons of the village khan, and as such are regarded superior
beings by the common people about them. It looks rather ridiculous to see
grown people bearing themselves in a retiring, servile manner in
deference to youngsters glaringly ignorant of how to use a
pocket-handkerchief, and who look as if their chief pastime were chewing
dried beetroot and rolling about in the dust.

But presently it is revealed that their first visit has been a mere
informal call to satisfy the first impulse of youthful curiosity. By and
by their fond parent takes them away for half an hour, and then ushers
them into my presence again, transformed into gorgeous youths with nice
clean faces and wiped noses. Marshalling themselves gravely opposite
where I am sitting, they put their hands solemnly on their youthful
stomachs, salaam, and gracefully drop down into a cross-legged position
on the carpet.

They look like real little chieftains now, both in dress and deportment.
Scarlet roundabouts, trimmed with a profusion of gold braid, bedeck their
consequential bodies; red slippers embroidered with gold thread cover
their feet, and their snowy turbans end in a gold-flecked tuft of
transparent muslin that imparts a bantam-like air of superiority. Their
father comes and squats down beside me, and, as we sip tea together, he
bestows a fond, parental smile upon the three scarlet poppies sitting
motionless, with heads slightly bent and eyes downcast, before us, and
inquires by an eloquent sweep of his chin what I think of them as
specimens of simon-pure nobility.

All through Persia the word "ob" has heretofore been used for water; but
linguistic changes are naturally to be expected near the frontier, and
the Darmian people use the term "ow." Upon my calling for ob, the khan's
attendant stares blankly in reply; but an animated individual in the
front ranks of the crowd about the doors and windows enlightens him and
me at the same time by shouting out, "Ow! ow! ow!"

The muezzin, calling the faithful to their evening prayers, likewise
utters the summons here at Darmian quite differently from anything of the
kind heard elsewhere.

The cry is difficult to describe; but without meaning to cast reflections
on the worthy muezzin's voice, I may perhaps be permitted to mention that
the people are twice admonished, and twice a listening katir (donkey)
awakens the echoing voices of the rock-ribbed gulch in vociferous
response.

The mother-in-law of the mirza lives at Darmian, and, like a dutiful son,
he lingers in her society until nine o'clock next morning. At that hour
he turns his horse's footsteps down the bed of the stream, while his
comrade guides me for a couple of miles over a most abominable
mountain-trail, rejoining the river and the dutiful son-in-law at Foorg.
Foorg is situated at the extremity of the gulch, and is distinguished by
a frowning old castle or fort, that occupies the crest of a precipitous
hill overtopping the village and commanding a very comprehensive view of
the country toward the Afghan frontier.

The villages of Darmian and Foorg, looking out upon wild frontier
territory, inhabited chiefly by turbulent and lawless tribes-people whose
hereditary instincts are diametrically opposed to the sublime ethics of
the decalogue have no doubt often found the grim stronghold towering so
picturesquely above them an extremely convenient thing.

The escort points it out and explains that it belongs to the "Padishah at
Teheran," and not to his own master, the Ameer--a national, as
distinct from a provincial, fortification. The cultivated environs of
Foorg present a most discouraging front to a wheelman; walled gardens,
rocks, orchards, and ruins, with hundreds of water-ditches winding and
twisting among them, the water escaping through broken banks and creating
new confusion where confusion already reigns supreme. Among this
indescribable jumble of mud, water, rocks, ruins, and cultivation,
pitched almost at an angle of forty-five degrees, the natives climb about
bare-legged, impressing one very forcibly as so many human goats as they
scale the walls, clamber over rocks, or wade through mud and water.

A willing Foorgian divests himself of everything but his hat, and carries
the bicycle across the stream, while I am taken up behind the mirza. As
the mirza's iron-gray gingerly enters the water, an interesting and
instructive spectacle is afforded by a hundred or more Foorgians
following the shining example of the classic figure carrying the bicycle,
for the purpose of being on hand to see me start across the plain toward
Tabbas.

Some of these good people are wearing turbans the size of a bandbox;
others wear enormous sheep-skin busbies. A number of tall, angular
figures stemming the turbid stream in the elegant costumes of our first
parents, but wearing Khorassani busbies or Beerjand turbans, makes a
bizarre and striking picture.

A gravelly trail, with the gradient slightly in my favor, enables me to
create a better impression of a bicycler's capabilities on the mind of
the mirza and the sowar than was possible yesterday, by quickly leaving
them far in the rear. Some miles are covered when I make a halt for them
to overtake me, seeking the welcome shelter of a half-ruined wayside
umbar.

An Eliaute camp is but a short distance away, and several sun-painted
children of the desert are eagerly interviewing the bicycle when my
escort comes galloping along; not seeing me anywhere in view ahead, they
had wondered what had become of their wheel-winged charge and are quite
relieved at finding me here hobnobbing with the Eliautes behind the
umbar.

The mirza's fond mother-in-law has presented him with a quantity of dried
pears with half a walnut imbedded in each quarter; during a brief halt at
the umbar these Darmian delicacies are fished out of his saddle-bags and
duly pronounced upon, and the genial Eliautes contribute flowing bowls of
doke (soured milk, prepared in some manner that prevents its spoiling).

High noon finds us at our destination for the day, the village of Tabbas,
famous in all the country around for a peculiar windmill used in grinding
grain. A grist-mill, or mills, consists of a row of one-storied mud huts,
each of which contains a pair of grindstones. Connecting with the upper
stone is a perpendicular shaft of wood which protrudes through the roof
and extends fifteen feet above it. Cross-pieces run through at right
angles and, plaited with rushes, transform the shaft into an upright
four-bladed affair that the wind blows around and turns the millstones
below.

So far, this is only a very primitive and clumsy method of harnessing the
wind; but connected with it is a very ingenious contrivance that redeems
it entirely from the commonplace. A system of mud walls are built about,
the same height or a little higher than the shaft, in such a manner as to
concentrate and control the wind in the interest of the miller,
regardless of which direction it is blowing in.

The suction created by the peculiar disposition of the walls whisks the
rude wattle sails around in the most lively manner. Forty of these mills
are in operation at Tabbas; and to see them all in full swing, making a
loud "sweeshing" noise as they revolve, is a most extraordinary sight.
Aside from Tabbas, these novel grist-mills are only to be seen in the
territory about the Seistan Lake.

The door-way of the quarters provided for our accommodation being too
small to admit the bicycle, not the slightest hesitation is made about
knocking out the threshold. Every male visible about the place seems
eagerly desirous of lending a hand in sweeping out the room, spreading
nummuds, bringing quilts, tea, kalians, or something.

A slight ripple upon the smooth and pleasing surface of the universal
inclination to do us honor is a sententious controversy between the mirza
and a blatant individual who enters objections about killing a sheep.
Whether, in the absence of the village khan, the objections are based on
an unwillingness to supply the mutton, or because the sheep are miles
away on the plain, does not appear; but whatever the objections, the
mirza overcomes them, and we get freshly slaughtered mutton for supper.

Tea is evidently a luxury not to be lightly regarded at Tabbas; after the
leaves have served their customary purpose, they are carefully emptied
into a saucer, sprinkled with sugar, and handed around--each guest takes a
pinch of the sweetened leaves and eats it.

The modus operandi of manipulating the kalian likewise comes in for a
slight modification here. The ordinary Persian method, before handing the
water-pipe to another, is to lift off the top while taking the last pull,
and thus empty the water-chamber of smoke. The Tabbasites accomplish the
same end by raising the top and blowing down the stem. This mighty
difference in the manner of clearing the water-chamber of a hubble-bubble
will no doubt impress the minds of intellectual Occidentals as a
remarkably important and valuable piece of information. Not less
interesting and remarkable will likewise seem the fact that the
flour-frescoed proprietors of these queer little Tabbas grist-mills are
nothing less than the boundary-mark between that portion of the
water-pipe smoking world which blows the remaining smoke out and that
portion which inhales it. The Afghan, the Indian, and the Chinaman adopt
the former method; the Turk, the Persian, and the Arab the latter.

Yet another interesting habit, evidently borrowed from their uncultivated
neighbors beyond the Dasht-i-na-oomid, is the execrable practice of
chewing snuff. Almost every man carries a supply of coarse snuff in a
little sheepskin wallet or dried bladder; at short intervals he rubs a
pinch of this villainous stuff all over his teeth and gums and deposits a
second pinch away in his cheek.

Abdurraheim Khan, the chief of several small villages on the Tabbas
plain, turns up in the evening. He is the mildest-mannered,
kindliest-looking human being I have seen for a long time; he does the
agreeable in a manner that leads his guests to think he worships the
"Ingilis" people humbly at a distance, and is highly honored in being
able to see and entertain one of those very worshipful individuals. Like
nearly all Persians, he is ignorant of the Western custom of shaking
hands; the sun-browned paw extended to him as he enters is stared at a
moment in embarrassment and then clasped between both his palms.

The turban of Abdurraheim Khan is a marvellous evidence of skill in the
arranging of that characteristic Eastern head-dress; the snowy whiteness
of the material, the gracefulness of the folds, and the elegant
crest-like termination are not to be described and done justice to by
either word or pen.

In reply to my inquiries, I am glad to find that Abdurraheim Khan speaks
less discouragingly of the Harood than did the Ameer at Ali-abad; he says
it will be fordable for camels, and there will be no difficulty in
finding nomads able to provide me an animal to cross over with.

Some cause of delay, incomprehensible to me, appears to interfere with
the continuation of my journey in the morning, most of the forenoon being
spent in a discussion of the subject between Abdurraheim Khan and the
mirza. About noon a messenger arrives from Ali-abad, bringing a letter
from the Ameer, which seems to clear up the mystery at once. The letter
probably contains certain instructions about providing me an escort that
were overlooked in the letter brought by the mirza.

When about starting, the khan presents me with a bowl of sweet stuff
--a heavy preparation of sugar, grease, and peppermint. A very small
portion of this lead-like concoction suffices to drive out all other
considerations in favor of a determination never to touch it again. An
attempt to distribute it among the people about us is interpreted by the
well-meaning khan as an impulse of pure generosity on my own part; the
result being that he ties the stuff up nicely in a clean handkerchief
that an unlucky bystander happens to display at that moment and bids me
carry it with me.

An ancient retainer, without any teeth to speak of, and an annoying habit
of shouting "h-o-i!" at a person, regardless of the fact that one is
within hearing of the merest whisper, is detailed to guide me to a few
hovels perched among the mountains, four farsakhs to the southeast, from
which point the journey across the Dasht-i-na-oomid is to begin, with an
escort of three sowars, who are to join us there later in the evening.

A couple of miles over fairly level ground, and then commences again the
everlasting hills, up, up, down, up, down, clear to our destination for
the day. While trundling along over the rough foot-hills, I am approached
by some nomads who are tending goats near by. Seeing them gather about
me, my aged but valiant protector comes galloping briskly up and
imperatively waves them away. A grandfatherly party, with a hacking
cough, a rusty cimeter, and a flint-lock musket of "ye olden tyme," I
fancied "The Aged" merely a guide to show me the road. As I worry along
over the rough, unridable mountains, the irritation of being shouted
"hoi!" at for no apparent reason, except for the luxury of hearing the
music of his own voice, is so annoying that I have about resolved to
abandon him to a well-deserved fate, in case of attack.

But now, instead of leaning on me for protection, he blossoms forth at
once as not only the protector of his own person, but of mine as well! As
he comes galloping bravely up and dismisses the wild-looking children of
the desert with a grandiloquent sweep of his hand, he is almost rewarded
by an involuntary "bravo, old un!" from myself, so superior to the
occasion does he seem to rise.

The little nest of mud huts are found, after a certain amount of
hesitation and preliminary going ahead by "The Aged," and toward
nightfall three picturesque horsemen ride up and dismount; they are the
sowars detailed by the Ameer's orders to Abdurraheim, or some other
border-land khan, to escort me across the Desert of Despair.

"The Aged" bravely returns to Tabbas in the morning by himself. When on
the point of departing, he surveys me wistfully across a few feet of
space and shouts "h-o-i!" He then regards me with a peculiar and
indescribable smile. It is not a very hard smile to interpret, however,
and I present him with the customary backsheesh. Pocketing the coins, he
shouts "h-o-i!'" again, and delivers himself of another smile even more
peculiar and indescribable than the other.

"Persian-like, receiving a present of money only excites his cupidity for
more," I think; and so reply by a deprecatory shake of the head. This
turns out to be an uncharitable judgment, however, for once; he goes
through the pantomime of using a pen and says, "Abdurraheim Khan." He saw
me write my name, the date of my appearance at Tabbas, etc., on a piece
of paper and give it to Abdurraheim Khan, and he wants me to do the same
thing for him.

The three worthies comprising my new escort are most interesting
specimens of the genus sowar; the leader and spokesman of the trio says
he is a khan; number two is a mirza, and number three a mudbake. Khans
are pretty plentiful hereabouts, and it is nothing surprising to happen
across one acting in the humble capacity of a sowar; a mirza gets his
title from his ability to write letters; the precise social status of a
mudbake is more difficult to here determine, but his proper
roosting-place is several rungs of the social ladder below either of the
others. They are to take me through to the Khan of Grhalakua, the first
Afghan chieftain beyond the desert, and to take back to the Ameer a
receipt from him for my safe delivery.

It is a far easier task to reckon up their moral calibre than their
social. Before being in their delectable company an hour they reveal that
strange mingling of childlike simplicity and total moral depravity that
enters into the composition of semi-civilized kleptomaniacs. The khan is
a person of a highly sanguine temperament and possesses a headstrong
disposition; coupled with his perverted notions of meum and tuum, these
qualities will some fine day end in his being brought up with a round
turn and required to part company with his ears or nose, or to be turned
adrift on the cold charity of the world, deprived of his hands by the
crude and summary justice of Khorassan. His eyes are brown and large, and
spherical almost as an owl's eyes, and they bulge out in a manner that
exposes most of the white. He wears long hair, curled up after the manner
of Persian la-de-da-dom, and in his crude, uncivilized sphere evidently
fancies himself something of a dandy.

The mirza is quiet and undemonstrative in his manners, as compared with
his social superior; and as becomes a person gifted with the rare talent
of composing and writing letters, his bump of cautiousness is several
degrees larger than the khan's, but is, nevertheless, not large enough to
counterbalance the pernicious effect of an inherited and deeply rooted
yearning for filthy lucre and a lamentable indifference as to the manner
of obtaining it.

The mudbake is the oldest man of the three, and consequently should be
found setting the others a good example; but, instead of this, his
frequent glances at my packages are, if anything, more heavily freighted
with the molecules of covetousness and an eager longing to overhaul their
contents than either the khan's or the mirza's.

"Pool, pool, pool--keran, keran, keran," the probable amount in my
possession, the amount they expect to receive as backsheesh, and kindred
speculations concerning the financial aspect of the situation, form
almost the sole topic of their conversation. Throwing them off their
guard, by affecting greater ignorance of their language than I am really
guilty of, enables me to size them up pretty thoroughly by their
conversation, and thus to adopt a line of policy to counteract the
baneful current of their thoughts. Their display of cunning and rascality
is ridiculous in the extreme; fancying themselves deep and unfathomable
as the shades of Lucifer himself, they are, in reality, almost as
transparent and simple as children; their cunning is the cunning of the
school-boy. Well aware that the safety of their own precious carcasses
depends on their returning to Khorassan with a receipt from the Khan of
Ghalakua for my safe delivery, there is little reason to fear actual
violence from them, and their childish attempts at extortion by other
methods will furnish an amusing and instructive study of barbarian
character.

The hovel in which our queerly assorted company of eight people sleep
--the owners of the shanty, "The Aged," the khan, the mirza, the
mudbake, and myself--is entered by a mere hole in the wall, and the
bicycle has to stand outside and take the brunt of a heavy thunder-storm
during the night. In this respect, however, it is an object of envy
rather than otherwise, for myriads of fleas, larger than I would care to
say, for fear of being accused of exaggeration, hold high revel on our
devoted carcasses all the livelong night. From the swarms of these frisky
insects that disport and kick their heels together in riotous revelry on
and about my own person, I fancy, forsooth, they have discovered in me
something to be made the most of, as a variety of food seldom coming
within their province. But the complaining moans of "Ali-Akbar" from "The
Aged," the guttural grunts of disapproval from the mirza and the mudbake,
and the impatient growls of "kek" (flea) from the khan, tell of their
being at least partial companions in misery; but, being thicker-skinned,
and withal well seasoned to this sort of thing, their sufferings are less
than mine.

The rain has cleared up, but the weather looks unsettled, as about eight
o'clock next morning our little party starts eastward under the guidance
of a villager whom I have employed to guide us out of the immediate range
of mountains, the sowars betraying a general ignorance of the
commencement of the route.

My escort are a great improvement as regards their arms and equipments
upon "The Aged." Among the three are two percussion double-barrelled
shot-guns, a percussion musket, six horse-pistols of various degrees of
serviceableness, swords, daggers, ornamental goat's-paunch
powder-pouches, peculiar pendent brass rings containing spring nippers
for carrying and affixing caps, leathern water-bottles, together with
various odds and ends of warlike accoutrements distributed about their
persons or their saddles.

"Inshallah, Ghalakua, Gh-al-a-kua!" exclaims the khan, as he swings
himself into the saddle. "Inshallah, Al-lah," is the response of the
mirza and the mudbake, as they carelessly follow his example, and the
march across the Dasht-i-na-oomid begins.

The ryot leads the way afoot, following along the partially empty beds of
mountain torrents, through patches of rank camel-thorn, over
bowlder-strewn areas and drifts of sand, sometimes following along the
merest suggestion of a trail, but quite as frequently following no trail
at all. At certain intervals occurs a piece of good ridable ground; our
villager-guide then looks back over his shoulder and bounds ahead with a
swinging trot, eager to enjoy the spectacle of the bicycle spinning along
at his heels; the escort bring up the rear in a leisurely manner,
absorbed in the discussion of "pool."

Several miles are covered in this manner, when we emerge upon a more open
country, and after consulting at some length with the villager, the khan
declares himself capable of finding the way without further assistance.
It is a strange, wild country, where we part from our local guide; it
looks as though it might be the battleground of the elements. A trail,
that is only here and there to be made out, follows a southeasternly
course down a verdureless tract of country strewn with rocks and bowlders
and furrowed by the rushing waters of torrents now dried up. Jagged rocks
and bowlders are here mingled in indescribable confusion on a surface of
unproductive clay and smaller stones. On the east stretches a waste of
low, stony hills, and on the west, the mountains we have recently emerged
from rise two thousand feet above us in an almost unbroken wall of
precipitous rock.

By and by the khan separates himself from the party and gallops away out
of sight to the left, his declared mission being to purchase "goosht-i"
(mutton) from a camp of nomads, whose whereabouts he claims to know. As
the commissaire of the party, I have, of course, intrusted him with a
sufficient quantity of money to meet our expenses; and the mirza and the
mudbake no sooner find themselves alone than another excellent trait of
their character conies to the surface. Upon comparing their thoughts,
they find themselves wonderfully unanimous in their suspicions as to the
honesty of the khan's intentions toward--not me, but themselves!

These worthy individuals are troubled about the khan's independent
conduct in going off alone to spend money where they cannot witness the
transaction. They are sorely troubled as to probable sharp practice on
the part of their social superior in the division of the spoils.

The "spoils!" Shades of Croesus! The whole transaction is but an affair
of battered kermis, intrinsically not worth a moment's consideration; but
it serves its purpose of affording an interesting insight into the
character of my escort.

The poor mirza and the mudbake are, no doubt, fully justified in
entertaining the worst opinions possible of the khan; he is a sad
scoundrel, on a small scale, to say the least. While they are growling
out to each other their grievances and apprehensions, that artful schemer
is riding his poor horse miles and miles over the stony hills to the
camping-ground of some hospitable Eliaute chieftain, from whom he can
obtain goosht-i-goosfany for nothing, and come back and say he bought it.

Several miles are slowly travelled by us three, when, no sign of the khan
appearing, we decide upon a halt until he rejoins us. In an hour or so
the bizarre figure of the absentee is observed approaching us from over
the hills, and before many minutes he is welcomed by a simultaneous query
of "chand pool?" (how much money?) from his keenly suspicious comrades,
delivered in a ludicrously sarcastic tone of voice.

"Doo Tceran," promptly replies the khan, making a most hopeless effort to
conceal his very palpable guilt beneath a transparent assumption of
innocence. The mirza and the mudbake make no false pretence of taking him
at his word, but openly accuse him of deceiving them. The khan maintains
his innocence with vehement language and takes refuge in
counter-accusations. The wordy warfare goes merrily on for some minutes
as earnestly as if they were quarrelling over their own honest money
instead of over mine. The joint query of "chand pool?" gathers an
additional load of irony from the fact that they didn't seem to think it
worth while to even ask him what he had bought.

Across the pommel of his saddle he carries a young kid, which is now
handed to the mudbake to be tethered to a shrub; he then dismounts and
produces three or four pounds of cold goat meat. Before proceeding again
on our way we consume this cold meat, together with bread brought from
last night's rendezvous. By reason of his social inferiority the mudbake
is now required to assume the burden of carrying the youthful goat; he
takes the poor kid by the scruff of the neck and flings it roughly across
his saddle in a manner that causes the gleeful spirits of the khan to
find vent in a peal of laughter. Even the usually imperturbable
countenance of the mirza lightens up a little, as though infected by the
khan's overflowing merriment and the mudbake's rough handling of the
young goat. They know each other thoroughly--as thoroughly as
orchard-looting, truant-playing, teacher-deceiving school-boys--these
three hopeful aspirants to the favor of Allah; they are an amusing trio,
and not a little instructive.



CHAPTER VIII.

ACROSS THE "DESERT OF DESPAIR."

For some hours we are traversing a singularly wild-looking country; it
seems as though the odds and ends of all creation were tossed
indiscriminately together. Rocky cliffs, sloping hills, riverbeds, dry
save from last night's thunder-storm, bits of sandy desert, strips of
alkaline flat or hard gravel, have been gathered up from various parts of
the earth and tossed carelessly in a heap here. It is an odd corner in
which the chips, the sweepings and trimmings, gathered up after the
terrestrial globe was finished, were apparently brought and dumped. There
is even a little bit of pasture, and at one point a little area of arable
land. Here are found four half-naked representatives of this strange,
wild border-land, living beneath one rude goat-hair tent, watching over a
few grazing goats and several acres of growing grain.

We arrive at this remarkable little community shortly after noon, and
halt a couple of hours to rest and feed the horses, and to kill and cook
the unhappy kid slung across the mudbake's saddle. The poor little
creature doesn't require very much killing; all the way from where it was
given into his tender charge its infantile bleatings have seemed to grate
harshly on the mudbake's unsympathetic ear, and he has handled it anywise
but tenderly. The four men found here are Persian Eliautes, a numerous
tribe, that seem to form a sort of connecting link between the genuine
nomads and the tillers of the soil. They are frequently found combining
the occupations of both, and might aptly be classed as semi-nomads.
Pitching their tents beside some outlying, isolated piece of cultivable
ground in the spring, they sow it with wheat or barley, and three months
later they reap a supply of grain to carry away with them when they
remove their flocks to winter pasturage.

An iron kettle is borrowed to stew the kid in, and when cooked a portion
is stowed away to carry with us. The Eliaute quartette contribute bowls
of mast and doke, and off this and the remainder of the stewed kid we all
make a hearty meal.

More than once of late have I been impressed by the striking, even
startling, resemblance of some person among the people of Southern
Khorassan, to the familiar face of some acquaintance at home. And,
strange it is, but true, that one of these four Eliautes blossoms forth
upon my astonished vision as the veritable double of one of America's
most prominent knights of the pen and wheel. The gentleman himself, an
enthusiastic tourist, and to use his own expression, fond of "walking
large," has taken considerable interest in my tour of the world. Can it
be--I think, upon first confronting this extraordinary reproduction--can
it be, that Karl Kron's enthusiasm has caused him to start from the
Pacific coast of China on his wheel to try and beat my time in
circumcycling the globe?

And after getting as far as this strange terrestrial chip-pile, he has
been so unfortunately susceptible as to fall in love with some
slender-limbed daughter of the desert?--has he been captivated by a
pair of big, opthamalmia-proof, black eyes, a coy sidewise glance, or a
graceful, jaunty style of shouldering a half-tanned goat-skin of doke?

The very first question the nomad asks of the khan, however, removes all
suspicions of his being the author and publisher of X. M. M.--he
asks if I am a Ferenghi and whither I am going; Kron would have asked me
for tabulated statistics of my tour through Persia.

A couple of hours' rest in the Eliaute camp, and we bid adieu to this
queer little oasis of human life within the barbarous boundary-line of
the Dasht-i-na-oomid, and proceed on our way. One of the Eliautes
accompanies us some little distance to guide us through a belt of badly
broken country immediately surrounding their camp. The country continues
to be a regular jumble of odds and ends of physical geography all the
afternoon, and several times the horses of the sowars, without
preliminary warning, break through the thin upper crust of some
treacherous boggy spot and sink suddenly to their bellies. During the
afternoon the mirza is pitched headlong over his horse's head once, and
the khan and the mudbake twice. In one tumble the khan's loosely sheathed
sword slips from its scabbard, and he well nigh falls a victim to the
accident a la King Saul. While traversing this treacherous belt of
territory I make the sowars lead the way and perform the office of
pathfinder for myself and wheel. Whenever one of them gets stuck in boggy
ground, and his horse flounders wildly about, to the imminent risk of
unseating its rider, his two hopeful comrades bubble over with merriment
at his expense; his own sincere exclamations of "Allah!" being answered
by unsympathetic jeers and sarcastic remarks. A few minutes later,
perchance one of the hilarious twain finds himself unexpectedly in the
same predicament; it then becomes his turn to look scared and importune
Allah for protection, and also his turn to be the target for the wild
hilarity of the others.

And so this lively and eventful afternoon passes away, and about five
o'clock we round the base of a conglomerate hill that has been shutting
out the prospect ahead, cross a small spring freshet, and emerge upon an
extensive gravelly plain stretching away eastward to the horizon. It is
the central plain of the Dasht-i-na-oomid, the heart of the desert, of
which the wild, heterogeneous territory traversed since morning forms the
setting. So far as the utility of the bicycle and the horses is
concerned, the change is decidedly for the better, even more so for the
former than for the latter. The gravelly plain presents very good
wheeling surface, and I forge ahead of my escort, following a trail so
faint that it is barely distinguishable from the general surface. Shortly
after leaving the mountainous country the three sowars hip their horses
into a smart canter to overtake the bicycle. As they come clattering up,
the khan shouts loudly for me to stop, and the mirza and mudbake
supplement his vocal exertions by gesticulating to the same purpose.
Dismounting, and allowing them to approach, in reply to my query of "Chi
mi khoi?" the khan's knavish countenance becomes overspread with a
ridiculously thin and transparent assumption of seriousness and
importance, and pointing to an imaginary boundary-line at his horse's
feet he says: "Bur-raa (brother), Afghanistan." "Khylie koob, Afghanistan
inja-koob, hoob, sowari." (Very good, I understand, we are entering
Afghanistan; all right, ride on.) "Sowari neis," replies the khan; and he
tries hard to impress upon me that our crossing the Afghan frontier is a
momentous occasion, and not to be lightly regarded. Several times during
the day has my delectable escort endeavored to fathom the extent of my
courage by impressing upon me the danger to be apprehended in Afghanistan
by a Ferenghi. Not less than half a dozen times have they indulged in the
grim pantomime of cutting their own throats, and telling me that this is
the tragic fate that would await me in Afghanistan without their valuable
protection. And now, as we stand on the boundary line, their bronzed and
bared throats are again subjected to this highly expressive treatment;
and transfixing me with a penetrating stare, as though eager to read in
my face some responsive sign of fear or apprehension, the khan repeats
with emphasis: "Bur-raa-ther, Afghanistan." Seeing me still inclined to
make light of the matter, he turns to his comrades for confirmation. "O,
bur-raa-ther, Afghanistan," assents the mirza; and the mudbake chimes in
with the same words. "Well, yes, I understand; Afghanistan--what of
it?" I inquire, amused at this theatrical display of their childish
knavery.

For answer they start to loading up their guns and pistols, which up to
now they have neglected to do; and they examine, with a ludicrous show of
importance, the edges of their swords and the points of their daggers,
staring the while at me to see what kind of an impression all this is
making. Their scrutiny of my countenance brings them small satisfaction,
methinks, for so ludicrous seems the scene, and so transparent the
motives of this warlike movement, that no room is there for aught but a
genuine expression of amusement.

Having loaded up their imposing array of firearms, the khan gives the
word to advance, with as much show of solemnity as though leading a
forlorn hope on some desperate undertaking, and he impresses upon me the
importance of keeping as close to then as possible, instead of riding
ahead. All around us is the unto-habited plain; not a living thing or
sign of human being anywhere; but when I point this out, and picking up a
stone, ask the khan if it is these that are dangerous, he replies, as
before: "Bur-raa-ther, Afghanistan," and significantly taps his weapons.
As we advance the level plain becomes covered with a growth of wild thyme
and camel-thorn, the former permeating the desert air with its agreeable
perfume. The evening air is soft and balmy I as we halt in the dusk of
the evening to camp alongside the trail; each sowar has a large leathern
water-bottle swinging from his stirrup-strap filled at the little freshet
above mentioned, and for food we have bread and the remains of the cold
kid. The horses are fastened to stout shrubs, and a fire is kindled with
dried camel-thorn collected by the mudbake. Not a sound breaks the
stillness of the evening as we squat around the fire and eat our frugal
supper--all about us is the oppressive silence and solitude of the
desert Away off in the dim distance to the northeast can be seen a single
speck of light--the camp-fire of some wandering Afghan tribe.

"What is the fire yonder?" I ask of the khan. The khan looks at it, says
something to his comrades, and then looks at me and draws his finger yet
again across his throat; the mirza and the mudbake follow suit. The
ridiculous frequency of this tragic demonstration causes me to laugh
outright, in spite of an effort to control my risibilities. The khan
replies to this by explaining, "Afghani Noorzais-dasht-adam," and then
goes on to explain that the Noorzais are very bad Afghans, who would like
nothing better than to murder a Ferenghi. From the beginning of our
acquaintance I have allowed my escort to think my understanding of the
conversation going on among themselves is extremely limited. By this
means have they been thrown somewhat off their guard, and frequently
committed themselves within my hearing. It is their laudable purpose, I
have discovered, to steal money from me if an opportunity presents
without the chance of being detected. Besides being inquisitive about the
probable amount in my possession, there has evolved from their collective
brain during the day, a deep-laid scheme to find out something about the
amount of backsheesh they may expect me to bestow upon them at the end of
our journey. This deep-laid scheme is for the khan to pretend that he is
sending the mirza and the mudbake back to Beerjand from this point, and
for these two hopeful accomplices to present themselves before me as
about ready to depart, and so demand backsheesh. This little farce is
duly played shortly after our arrival; it is a genuine piece of light
comedy, acted on the strangely realistic stage of the lonely desert, to
which the full round moon just rising above the eastern horizon. These
advances are met on my part by broad intimations that if they continue to
act as ridiculously during the remainder of the journey as they have
to-day they will surely get well bastinadoed, instead of backsheeshed,
when we reach Ghalakua. The actors retire from the stage with visible
discomfiture and squat themselves around the fire. Long after I have
stretched my somewhat weary frame upon a narrow strip of saddle-blanket
for the night, my three "protectors" squat around the smouldering embers
of the camel-thorn fire, discussing the all-absorbing topic of my money.
Little do they suspect that concealed in a leathern money-belt beneath my
clothes are one hundred Russian gold Imperials, the money obtained in
Teheran for the journey through Turkestan and Siberia to the Pacific.
Though sleeping with the traditional one eye open and my Smith & Wesson
where it can be readily used, there is little apprehension of being
robbed, owing to their obligation to take back the receipt for my safe
delivery to Heshmet-i-Molk.

It is the weather-changeful period of the full moon, and about midnight a
clap of thunder rolls over the desert, and a smart shower descends from a
small dark cloud, that sails slowly across the sky, obscuring for a brief
period the moist-looking countenance of the moon, and then disappears. A
couple of hours later a rush of wind is heard careering across the desert
toward us, accompanied by a wildly scudding cloud. The cloud peppers us
with hailstones in the most lively manner, and the wind strikes us almost
with the force of a tornado, knocking over the bicycle, which I have
leaned against a clump of shrubs at my head, and favoring us with a
blinding fusilade of sand and gravel.

It rains and hails enough to make us wet and uncomfortable, and the
mudbake gets up and kindles another fire. In a short time the squally
midnight weather has given place to a dead calm; the clouds have
dispersed; the moon shines all the brighter from having had its face
washed; the stars twinkle themselves out one by one as the gray dawn
gradually makes itself manifest. It is a most lovely morning; the
bruising hailstones and the moistening rain have proved themselves
stimulants in the laboratory of the wild-thyme shrubs, setting free and
disseminating a new supply of aroma; and while until now the voice of
animate nature has been conspicuous by its absence, the morning vespers
of song-birds seed almost to be issuing, like flowers, from the ground.
There is an indescribable charm about this morning's experience on the
desert; dawn appears, the moon hangs low-suspended in the heavens, the
birds carol merrily, and every inspiration one takes is a tonic to
stimulate the system. Half an hour later the sun has risen, the
song-birds have one and all lapsed into silence, the desert is itself
again, stern, silent, uncompromising, and apparently destitute of life.

Total depravity, it appears, has not yet claimed my worthy escort for its
own entirely, for while saddling up their horses during this brief
display of nature's kindlier mood they call my attention to the singing
of the birds and the grateful perfumery in the air. The germ of goodness
still lingers within their semi-civilized conception of things about
them; they are the children of Nature, and are profoundly impressed by
their mother's varying moods. Their prostrations toward Mecca and their
matutinal prayers to Allah seem to gain something of sincerity from the
accompanying worship of the birds and the sympathetic essence of the
awakening day. Eastward from our camping-ground the trail is oftentimes
indistinguishable; but a few loose stones have been tossed together at
intervals of several hundred yards, to guide wayfarers across the desert.
A surface of mingled sand and gravel characterizes the way; sometimes it
is unridably heavy, and sometimes the wheeling is excellent for a mile or
two at a stretch, enabling me to leave the ambling yahoos of the sowars
far behind. Beautiful mirages sometimes appear in the distance
--lakes of water, waving groves of palms, and lovely castles; and
often, when far enough ahead, I can look back, and see the grotesque
figures of the khan, the mirza, and the mudbake apparently riding through
the air.

Perhaps twenty miles are covered, when we arrive at a pile of dead brush
that has been erected for a landmark, and find a dilapidated well
containing water. The water is forty feet below the surface, and contains
a miscellaneous assortment of dead lizards, the carcasses of various
small mammalia, and sundry other unfortunate representatives of animated
nature that have fallen in. Beyond this well the country assumes the
character of a broad sink or mud-basin, the shiny surface of its mud
glistening in the sun like a sheet of muddy water. Sloughs innumerable
meander through it, fringed with rank rushes and shrubs. A far heavier
down-pour than we were favored with on the plain has drenched a region of
stony hills adjacent, and the drainage therefrom has, for the time being,
filled and overflowed the winding sloughs.

A dozen or more of these are successfully forded, though not without some
difficulty; but we finally arrive at the parent slough, of which the
others are but tributaries. This proves too deep for the sowars' horses
to ford, and after surveying the yellow flood some minutes and searching
up and down, the khan declares ruefully that we shall have to return to
Beerjand. As I remonstrate with him upon his lack of enterprise in
turning from so trifling a difficulty, the khan finally orders the
mudbake to strip off his purple and fine linen and try the depth. The
mudbake proceeds to obey his superior, with many apprehensive glances at
the muddy freshet, and wades gingerly in, muttering prayers to Allah the
while. Deeper and deeper the yellow waters creep up his shivering form,
and when nearly up to his neck, a sudden deepening causes him to bob
unexpectedly down almost over his head. Hurriedly retreating, spluttering
and whining, he scrambles hastily ashore, where his two companions,
lolling lazily on their horses, watching his attempt, are convulsed with
merriment over his little misadventure and his fright.

The shivering mudbake, clad chiefly in goose-pimples, now eagerly
supplements the khan's proposition for us all to return to Beerjand, and
the mirza with equal eagerness murmurs his approval of the same course of
action. Making light of their craven determination, I prepare to cross
the freshet without their assistance, and announce my intention of
proceeding alone. The stream, though deep, is not over thirty yards wide,
and a very few minutes suffices for me to swim across with my clothes, my
packages, and the saddle of the bicycle; the small, strong rope I have
carried from Constantinople is then attached to the bicycle, and,
swimming across with the end, the wheel is pulled safely through the
water. Neither of the sowars can swim, and they regard the prospect of
being left behind with no little consternation. Their guileful souls seem
to turn naturally to Allah in their perplexity; and they all prostrate
themselves toward Mecca, and pray with the apparent earnestness of deep
sincerity. Having duly strengthened and fortified themselves with these
devotional exercises, they bravely prepare to resign themselves to kismet
and follow my instructions about crossing the stream.

The khan's iron-gray being the best horse of the three, and the khan
himself of a more sanguine and hopeful disposition, I make him tie all
his clothes and damageable things into a bundle and fasten them on his
saddle; the rope is then tied to the bridle and the horse pulled across,
his gallant rider clinging to his tail, according to my orders, and
praying aloud to Allah on his own account. The gray swims the unfordable
middle portion nobly, and the khan comes through with no worse damage
than a mouthful or two of muddy water. As the dripping charger scrambles
up the bank, the khan allows himself to be hauled up high and dry by its
tail; he then looks back at his comrades and favors them with a brief but
highly exaggerated account of his sensations.

The mirza and the mudbake deliver themselves of particularly deep-chested
acclamations of "Allah, Allah!" at the prospect of undergoing similar
sensations to those described by the khan, whereupon that unsympathetic
individual vents his hilarity in a gleeful, heartless peal of laughter,
and tells them, with a diabolical chuckle of delight, that they will most
likely fare ten times worse than himself on account of the inferiority of
their horses compared with the gray. Much threatening, bantering, and
persuasion is necessary to induce them to follow the leadership of the
khan; but, trusting to kismet, they finally venture, and both come
through without noteworthy misadventure. The khan's wild hilarity and
ribaldish jeers at the expense of his two subordinates, as he stands on
the solid foundation of a feat happily already accomplished and surveys
their trepidation, and hears their prayers as they are pulled like human
dinghies through the water, is in such ludicrous contrast to his own
prayerful utterances under the same circumstances a minute before that my
own risibilities are not to be wholly controlled.

This little episode makes a profound impression upon the minds of my
escort; they now regard me as a very dare-devil and determined
individual, a person entirely without fear, and their deference during
the remainder of the afternoon is in marked contrast to their previous
attempts to work upon my presumed apprehensions of the dangers of
Afghanistan.

Following the guidance of a few rude landmarks of piled brush, we
discover, a few miles off to the left, and on the eastern environ of the
slough-veined basin, a considerable body of tents and a herd of grazing
camels. The sowars pronounce them to be a certain camp of Einiucks that
they have been expecting to find somewhere in this vicinity, and with
whose chief the khan says he is acquainted.

Wending our way thither we find a large camp of about fifty tents
occupying a level stretch of clean gravelly ground, slightly elevated
above the mud-flats. The tents are of brownish-black goat-hair, similar
in material to the tents of Koords and Eliautes; in size and structure
they are larger and finer than those of the Eliautes, but inferior to the
splendid tent-palaces of Koordistan. A couple of hundred yards from the
tents is a small spring of water, enclosed within a rude wall of
loosely-piled stone; the water is allowed to trickle through this wall
and accumulate in a basin outside. Here, as we ride up, are several women
filling goat-skin vessels to carry to the tents.

The tent of the chief stands out conspicuously from the others, and the
khan, desirous of giving his "bur-raa-ther," as he now terms the Eimuck
chieftain, a surprise, suggests that I ride ahead of the horsemen and
dismount before his tent. This capital little arrangement is somewhat
interfered with by the fact that a goodly proportion of the male
population present have already become cognizant of our presence, and are
standing in white-robed groups about their tents trying with hand-shaded
eyes to penetrate the secret of my strange appearance. Nevertheless, I
ride ahead and alight at the entrance to the chief's tent. The chief is a
middle-aged man of medium height and inclined to obesity. He and all the
men are arrayed in garments of coarse white cotton stuff throughout,
loose pantaloons, bound at the ankles, and an over-garment of a pattern
very much like a night-shirt; on their heads are the regulation Afghan
turbans, with long, dangling ends, and their feet are incased in rude
moccasins with upturned toes. As I dismount, and the chief fully realizes
that I am a Ferenghi, his face turns red with embarrassment. Instead of
the smiles or the grave kindliness of a Koordish sheikh, or the simple,
childlike greeting of an Eliaute, the Eimuck chief motions me into his
tent in a brusque, offish manner, his countenance all aglow with the
redness of what almost looks like a guilty conscience.

With the intuition that comes of long and changeful association with
strange peoples, the changing countenance of the Afghan chief impresses
me at once as the fiery signal of inbred Mussulman fanaticism, lighting
up spontaneously at the unexpected and unannounced arrival of a lone
Ferenghi in his presence. It savors somewhat of bearding a dangerous lion
in his own den. He certainly betrays deep embarrassment at my appearance;
which, however, may partly result from not yet knowing the character of
my companions, or the wherefore of this strange visitation. When my
escort rides up his whole demeanor instantly undergoes a change; the
cloud of embarrassment lifts from his face, he and the khan recognize and
greet each other cordially as "bur-raa-ther," and kiss each-other's
hands; some of his men standing by exchange similar brotherly greetings
with the mirza and the mudbake.

After duly refreshing and invigorating ourselves with sundry bowls of
doke, the inevitable tomasha is given, and the chief asks the khan to get
me to ride up before one row of tents and down the other for the
edification of the women and children, curious groups of whom are
gathered at every door. The ground between the two long, even rows of
tents resembles a macadam boulevard for width and smoothness, and I give
the wild Eimuck tribes-people a ten minutes' exhibition of circling,
speeding, and riding with hands off handles. A strange and novel
experience, surely, this latest triumph of high Western civilization,
invading the isolated nomad camp on the Dasht-i-na-oomid and disporting
for the amusement of the women and children. Some of the women are
attired in quite fanciful colors; Turkish pantaloons of bright blue and
jackets of equally bright red render them highly picturesque, and they
wear a profusion of bead necklaces and the multifarious gewgaws of
semi-civilization. The younger girls wear nose-rings of silver in the
left nostril, with a cluster of tiny beads or stones decorating the side
of the nose. The wrists of most of the men are adorned with bracelets of
plain copper wire about the size of ordinary telegraph wire; they average
large and well-proportioned, and seem intellectually superior to the
Eliautes. A very striking peculiarity of the people in this particular
camp is a sort of lisping, hissing accent to their speech. When first
addressed by the chief, I fancied it simply an individual case of
lisping; but every person in the camp does likewise. Another peculiarity
of expression, that, while not peculiar to this particular camp, is made
striking by reason of its novelty to me at this time, the use of the
expression "O" as a term of assent, in lieu of the Persian "balli." The
sowars, from their proximity to the frontier, have sometimes used this
expression, but here, in the Eimuck camp, I come suddenly upon a people
who use it to the total exclusion of the Persian word. The change from
the "balli sahib" of the Tabbas villagers to the "O, O, O" of the Afghan
nomads is novel and entertaining in the extreme, and I sit and listen
with no small interest to the edifying conversation of the khan, the
mirza, and the mudbake on the one side, and the Eimuck chieftain and
prominent members of the tribe on the other.

Standing behind the chief, who sits cross-legged on a Persian nummud, is
a handsome, intelligent-looking man, who seems to be the most
pleasant-faced and entertaining conversationalist of the nomads. The kahn
grows particularly talkative and communicative, the evening hours flow
on, and while addressing his remarks and queries directly to the chief,
he gazes about him to observe the effects of his words on the general
assembly gathered inside and crowded about the tent-entrance. The
pleasant-faced man does far more talking in reply than does the chief
himself. In reply to the khan's innumerable queries he replies, in the
peculiar, hissing shibboleth of the camp, "O, O, O-O bus-s-s-orah,
b-s-s-s-orah." Sometimes the khan delivers himself of quite a lengthy
disquisition, and as his remarks are followed by the assembled nomads
with the eager interest of people who seldom hear anything but the music
of their own voices, the interesting individual above referred to
sprinkles his assenting "O, O, O" thickly along the line of the khan's
presumably edifying narrative; now and then the chief himself chimes in
with a quiet "b-s-s-s-orah." Here also, in this camp of surprises and
innovations, do I first hear the word "India" used in lieu of "Hindostan"
among Asiatics.

The fatigue of the day's journey, and the imperfect rest of the two
preceding nights, cause me to be overcome with drowsiness, early in the
evening, and I stretch oat alongside the bicycle and fall into a deep
sleep. An hour or two later I am awakened for the evening meal. Flat,
pancake-like sheets of unleavened bread, inferior to the bread of Persia,
and partaking somewhat of the character of the chupalties of India,
boiled goat, and the broth preserved from the same, together with the
regulation mast and doke, constitute the Eimuek supper. A liberal bowl of
the broth, an abundance of meat, bread, mast and doke are placed before
me on a separate wooden tray, while my escort, the chief, and several of
his men gather around a communal spread of the same variety of edibles. A
crowd of curious people occupy the remainder of the space inside, and
stand at the door. As I rise and prepare to eat, all eyes are turned upon
me as though anticipating some surprising exhibition of the strange
manners of a Ferenghi at his meals. Surveying the broth, I motion the
khan to try and obtain a spoon. The chief looks inquiringly at the khan,
and the khan with the gladsome expression of a person conscious of having
on hand a rare piece of information for his friends, explains that a
Ferenghi eats soup with a spoon. The chief and his men smile incredibly,
but the khan emphasizes his position by appealing to the mirza and the
mudbake for confirmation. "Eat soup with a spoon?" queries the chief in
Persian; and he casts about him a look of unutterable astonishment.

Recovering somewhat from his incredulity, however, he orders an attendant
to fetch one, which shortly results in the triumphant production of a
rude wooden ladle. These uncivilized children of the desert watch me
drink broth from the ladle with most intense curiosity. In their own
case, an attendant tears several of the sheets of bread into pieces and
puts them in the broth; each person then helps himself to the
broth-soaked bread with his fingers. What broth remains at the bottom of
the bowl is drunk by them from the vessel itself in turns. After
consuming several generous chunks of "gusht" bread and mast and broth,
and supplementing this with a bowl of doke, I stretch myself out again
and at once become wrapped in sound, refreshing slumbers that last till
morning.

It is a glorious morning as, after breakfasting off the cold remains of
the meat left over from the evening meal, we bid farewell to the
hospitable Eimuek camp and resume our journey. As we leave, I offer to
shake hands with the chief to see if he understands our mode of greeting;
he seizes my hand between his two palms and kisses it. For the first few
miles the country is gravelly and undulating, after which it changes to a
sort of basin, partially covered by dense patches of tall, rank weeds. On
either side are rocky hills, almost rising to the dignity of mountains;
the rain and melting snow evidently convert this basin into a swamp at
certain periods, but it is now dry. A mile or so off to the right we
catch a glimpse, of some wild animal chasing a small herd of antelope.
From its size and motion, I judge it to be a leopard or cheetah; the
sowars regard it, bounding along after the fleet-footed antelope, with
lively interest; they call it a "baab" (tiger), and say there are many in
the reeds. It looks quite a likely spot for tigers, and it is not at all
unlikely that it may have been one, for, while not plentiful hereabout,
Tigris Asiaticus occasionally makes his presence known in the patches of
reed and jungle in Southern Afghanistan and Seistan.

All three of the sowars are frisky as kittens this morning, the result,
it is surmised, of the generous hospitality of the Eimuek chief
--gusht galore and rich broth cause their animal spirits to run
riot. Like overfed horses they "feel their oats" as they sniff the fresh
and invigorating morning air, and they point toward the shadowy form of
the racing baab a mile away, and pretend to take aim at it with their
guns. They sing and shout and swoop down on one another about the basin,
flourishing their swords and aiming with their guns, and they whip their
poor, long-suffering yahoos into wild, sweeping gallops as they swoop
down on some imaginary enemy. This wild hilarity and mimic warfare of the
desert is kept up until the ragged edge of their exuberance is worn away,
and their horses are well-nigh fagged out; we then halt for an hour to
allow the horses to recuperate by nibbling at a patch of reeds.

About ten miles from the Eimuek camp, the country develops into a
wilderness of deep, loose sand and bowlders. Across this sandy region
stretches a range of dark volcanic hills; the bases of the hills
terminate in billows of whitish-yellow sand; the higher waves of the
sandy sea stretch well up the sides like giant ocean breakers driven by
the gale up the side of the rocky cliffs. It is a tough piece of country
even for the sowars' horses, and dragging a bicycle through the mingled
sand and bowlders is abominable in the extreme. The heat becomes
oppressive as we penetrate deeper into the belt of sand-hills, and after
five miles of desperate tugging I become tired and distressed. The sowars
lolling lazily in their saddles, well-nigh sleeping, while I am struggling
and perspiring, form another chapter of experience entirely novel in the
field of European travel in Asia. Usually it is the natives who have to
sweat and toil and administer to the comfort of the traveller.

Revolving these things over in my mind, and becoming really wearied, I
suggest to the khan that he change places for a brief spell and give me a
chance to rest. The idea of himself trundling the asp-i-awhan appeals to
the khan as decidedly novel, and he bites at the bait quite readily.
Mounting his vacated saddle, I join the mirza and the mudbake in watching
him struggle along through the sand with it for some two hundred yards.
Along that brief course he topples over with it not less than half a
dozen times. The novel spectacle of the khan trundling the asp-i-awhan
arouses his two comrades from the warmth-inspired semi-torpidity of their
condition, and whenever the khan topples over, they favor him with jeers
and laughter. At the end of two hundred, yards the khan declares himself
exhausted and orders the mudbake to dismount and try it; this, however,
the mudbake bluntly refuses to do. After a little persuasion the inirza
is induced to try the experiment of a trundle; it is but an experiment,
however, for, being less active than the khan, the first time he tumbles
the bicycle over finds him sprawling on top of it, and, fearful lest he
should snap some spokes, I take it in hand again myself.

Another couple of miles and the eastern edge of the sandy area I is
reached, after which a compensational proportion of smooth gravel
abounds. Shortly after noon another small camp of nomads I is reached,
some half-dozen inferior tents, pitched on the shelterless edge of an
exposed gravelly slope. The afternoon is oppressively hot, and the men
are comfortably snoozing in all sorts of outlandish places among the
scrubby camel-thorn. Only the I women and children are visible as we
approach the tents; but youngsters are despatched forthwith, and, lo!
several tall white-robed figures seem to rise up literally out of the
ground at different spots round about; they were burrowed away under the
low, bushy shrubbery like rabbits. The women and children among these
nomads always seem industriously engaged, the former with domestic duties
about the tents, and the latter tending the flocks; but the men put in
most of their unprofitable lives loafing, sleeping, and gossiping.

We are not invited into the tents, but bread and mast is provided, and,
while we eat, four men hold the corners of an ample blue turban sheet
over us to shelter us from the sun. Spread out on sheets and on the roofs
of the tents are bushels of curds drying in the sun; the curds are
compressed into round balls the size of an apple, and when dried into
hard balls are excellent things to put in the pocket and nibble along the
road. Here we learn that the Harood is only one farsakh distant, and a
couple of stalwart young nomads accompany us to assist us across. At
Beerjand the Harood was "deep as a house;" at our last night's camp we
were told that it was fordable with camels; here we learn, that, though
very swift, it is really fordable for men and horses. First we come to a
branch less than waist-deep. My nether garments are handed to the khan;
in the pocket of my pantaloons is a purse containing a few kerans. While
engaged in fording this branch the khan ferrets out the purse and
extracts something from it, which he deftly slips into the folds of his
kammerbund. All this I silently observe from the corners of my eyes, but
say nothing.

Emerging from the stream, the wily khan points across the intervening
three hundred yards or thereabout to the main stream, and motions for me
to go ahead. The discovery of the purse and the purloined kerans has
aroused all the latent cupidity of his soul, and he wants me to ride
ahead, so that he can straggle along in the rear and investigate the
contents of the purse at his leisure. While winking at the amusing little
act of petty larceny already detected, I do not propose to give his
kleptomaniac tendencies full swing, and so I meet his proposal to sowar
and go ahead by peremptorily ordering him to take the lead.

Arriving at the bank of the Harood, I retire behind a clump of reeds, and
fold my money-belt, full of gold, up in the middle of my clothes, making
a compact bundle, with my gossamer rubber wrapped around the outside. The
river is about a hundred and fifty yards wide at the ford, with a
sand-bar about mid-stream, and is not above shoulder-deep along the ridge
that renders it fordable; the current, however, is frightfully strong.
Like the Indians of the West, the Afghan nomads are accustomed from
infancy to battling with the elements, and are comparatively fearless in
regard to rivers and deserts and storms, etc.

Such, at least, is the impression created by the conduct of the two young
men who have come to assist us across. The bicycle, my clothes, and all
the effects of the sowars are carried across on their heads, the rushing
waters threatening to sweep them off their feet at every step; but
nothing is allowed to get wet. When they are carrying across the last
bundle, the khan, solicitous for my safety, wants me to hang on to a
short rope tied around the waist of the strongest of the nomads.
Naturally disdaining any such arrangement as this, however, I declare my
intention of crossing without assistance, and wade in forthwith. Ere I
have progressed thirty yards, the current fairly sweeps me off my feet
and I have to swim for it. Fancying that I am overcome and in a fair way
of being drowned, the sowars set up a wild howl of apprehension, and
shout excitedly to the nomads to rescue me from a watery grave. The
Afghans are not so excited, however, over the outlook; they see that I am
swimming all right, and they confine themselves to motioning the
direction for me to take. The current carries me some little distance
down stream, when I find footing on the lower extremity of the sand-bar,
and on it, wade up; stream again with some difficulty against swiftly
rushing water four feet deep. The khan thinks I have had the narrowest
possible escape, and in tones of desperation he shouts out and begs me
not to attempt to cross the other channel without assistance. "The
receipt!" he shouts, "the receipt! Allah preserve us! the receipt; Hesh
met-i-Molk." The worthy khan is afflicted with a keen consciousness of
coming punishment awaiting him at Beerjand, should I happen to come to
grief while under his protection, and he, no doubt, suffers an agony of
apprehension during the fifteen minutes I am battling with the rapid
current of the Harood.

The second channel is found less swift and comparatively easy to ford.
The sturdy nomads, having transported all of my escort's damageable
effects, those three now stark-naked worthies mount with fear and
trembling their equally stark-naked steeds-naked all, save for the
turbans of the men and the bridles of their horses. Whatever of
intrepidity the khan possesses is of a quantity scarcely visible to the
naked eye, and it is, therefore, scarcely surprising to find him trying
to persuade, first the mudbake and then the mirza, to take the
initiative. His efforts prove wholly ineffectual, however, to bring the
feebly flowing tide of their courage up to the high-water level of
assuming the duties of leadership, and so in the absence of any
alternative, he finally screws up his own courage and leads the way. The
others allow their horses to follow closely behind. The horses seem to
regard the rushing volume of yellow water about them with far less
apprehension than do their riders. While dressing myself on the eastern
bank, the frightened mutterings of "Allah" from these gallant horsemen
come floating across the water, and, as they reach the sand-bar in the
middle of the stream, I can hear their muttered importunities for
Providential protection change, like the passing shadow-whims of Nature's
children that they are, into gleeful chuckles at their escape.

When the khan emerges from the water, the ruling passion within his
avaricious nature asserts itself with ridiculous promptness. With the
water dripping from his dangling feet, he rides hastily to where I am
dressing and whispers, "Pool neis; Afghani dasht-adam, pool neis." By
this he desires me to understand that the men who have been so
industrious and ready in helping us across, being Afghan nomads, will not
expect any backsheesh for their trouble. The above-mentioned ruling
passion is wonderfully strong in the rude breast of the khan, and in view
of his own secret machinations against my money he, no doubt, entertains
objections to leakages in other directions. So far as presenting these
hospitable souls of the desert with money for their services is
concerned, the khan's advice probably contains a good deal more wisdom
than would appear from a superficial view of the case merely. Assisting
travellers across streams and through difficult places evidently appeals
to these people as the most natural thing in the world for them to do. It
is a part of the un-written code of the hospitality of their uncivilized
country, and is, in all probability, undertaken without so much as a
mercenary thought. Presenting them with a money-consideration for their
services certainly has a tendency to awaken the latent spirit of
cupidity, generally resulting in their transformation from simple and
unsophisticated children, hospitable both by nature and tradition, into
wretched mercenaries, who regard the chance traveller solely from a
backsheesh-giving stand-point. The baneful result of this is today
glaringly apparent along every tourist route in the East; and, among the
pool-loving subjects of the Shah of Persia, travellers do not have to
appear very frequently to keep alive and foster a wild yearning for
backsheesh that effectually suppresses all loftier considerations.

These Afghans, however, seem to be people of an altogether different
mould; the ubiquitous Western traveller has not yet become a palpable
factor in their experiences. The hidden charms of backsheesh will not
become apparent to the wild Afghans until their fierce Mussulman
fanaticism has cooled sufficiently to allow the Ferenghi tourist to
wander through their territory without being in danger of his life.

The danger of corruption in the present instance is exceedingly small,
considering that I am the only representative of the Occident that has
ever happened along this way, and the probability that none other will
follow for many a year after; therefore I ignore the khan's wholly
disinterested advice and make the two worthy nomads a small present. They
accept the proffered kerans with a look of bewilderment, as though quite
unable to comprehend why I should tender them money, and they lay it
carelessly down on the sand while they assist the sowars to resaddle
their horses. To see the indifference with which the magnificent Afghan
nomads toss the silver pieces on the sand, and the eager, covetous
expression that the sight of the same coins lying there inspires in the
three Persians is, of itself, an instructive lesson on the difference
between the two peoples. The sowars become inspired, as if touched by the
magic wand of alchemy, to the discussion of their favorite theme; but the
Afghans pay no more heed to their remarks about money than if they were
talking in an unknown tongue. They really act as though they regarded the
subject of money as something altogether beyond their comprehension.



CHAPTER IX.

AFGHANISTAN.

A few miles across a stretch of gravelly river-bottom, interspersed with
scattering patches of cultivation, brings us to a hamlet of some twenty
mud dwellings. The houses are small, circular structures, unattached, and
each one removed some dozen paces from its neighbor; they are built of
mud with the roof flat, as in Asia Minor. The sun is setting as we reach
this little Harood hamlet, and, as Ghalakua is some three farsakhs
distant, we decide to remain here for the night. We pitch our camp on a
smooth threshing-floor in the centre of the village, and the headman
brings pieces of carpet for me to recline on, together with a sort of a
carpet bolster for a pillow.

The khan impresses upon these simple-minded, out-of-the-world people a
due sense of my importance as the guest of his master, the Ameer of
Seistan, and they skirmish around in the liveliest manner to provide what
creature comforts their meagre resources are equal to. The best they can
provide in the way of eatables is bread and eggs, and muscal, but they
make full amends for the absence of variety by bestowing upon us a
superabundance of what they have, and no slaves of Oriental despot ever
displayed more eager haste to anticipate their ruler's wants than do
these, my first acquaintances among the Afghan tillers of the soil, to
wait upon us. All the evening long no female ventures anywhere near our
alfresco quarters; the rigid exclusion of the female sex in this
conservative Mohammedan territory forbids them making any visible show of
interest in the affairs of men whatsoever. When the hour arrives for the
preparation of the evening meal, closely shrouded figures flit hastily
through the dusk from house to house, bearing camel-thorn torches. They
are women who have been to their neighbors to obtain a light for their
own fire. From the number of these it is plainly evident that the
housewives of the entire village light their fires from one original
kindling. The shrouds of the women are red and black plaid; the men wear
overshirts of coarse white; material that reach to their knees, pointed
shoes that turn up at the toes, white Turkish trousers, and the
regulation Afghan turban. The night is most lovely, and frogs innumerable
are in the lowlands round about us, croaking their appreciation of the
mellow moonlight, the balmy air, and the overflowing waters of the river.
For hours they favor us with a musical melange, embracing everything
between the hoarse bass croak of the full-blown bull-frog, to the tuneful
"p-r" of the little green tree-frogs ensconced in the clumps of
dwarf-willow hard by. Soothed by the music of the frogs I spend a restful
night beneath the blue, calm dome of the Afghan sky, though awakened once
or twice by the sowars' horses breaking loose and fighting.

There are no geldings to speak of in Central Asia, and unless eternal
vigilance is maintained and the horses picketed very carefully, a fight
or two is sure to occur among them during the night. As it seems
impossible for semi-civilized people to exercise forethought in small
matters of this kind, a night without being disturbed by a horse-fight is
a very rare occurrence, when several are travelling together.

The morning opens as lovely as the close of evening yesterday; a sturdy
villager carries me and the bicycle through a small tributary of the
Harood. He shakes his head when I offer him a present. How strange that
an imaginary boundary-line between two countries should make so much
difference in the people! One thinks of next to nothing but money, the
other refuses to take it when offered.

The sowars are in high glee at having escaped what seems to me the
imaginary terrors of the passage across the Dasht-i-na-oomid, and as we
ride along toward Ghalakua their exuberant animal spirits find expression
in song. Few things are more harrowing and depressing to the
unappreciative Ferenghi ear than Persian sowars singing, and three most
unmelodious specimens of their kind at it all at once are something
horrible.

The country hereabouts is a level plain, extending eastward to the Furrah
Rood; within the first few miles adjacent to the Harood are seen the
crenellated walls of several villages and the crumbling ruins of as many
more. Clumps of palm-trees and fields of alfalfa and green young wheat
environ the villages, and help to render the dull gray ruins picturesque.
The atmosphere seems phenomenally transparent, and the trees and ruins
and crenellated walls, rising above the level plain, are outlined clear
and distinct against the sky.

In the distance, at all points of the compass, rocky mountains rise sheer
from the dead level of the plain, looking singularly like giant cliffs
rising abruptly from the bed of some inland sea. One of these may be
thirty miles away, yet the wondrous clearness of the air renders apparent
distances so deceptive that it looks not more than one-third the
distance. It is a strikingly interesting country, and its inhabitants are
a no less strikingly interesting people.

A farsakh from our Harood-side camping-place, we halt to obtain
refreshments at a few rude tents pitched beneath the walls of a little
village. The owners of the tents are busy milking their flocks of goats.
It is an animated scene. No amount of handling, nor years of human
association, seems capable of curbing the refractory and restless spirit
of a goat. The matronly dams that are being subjected to the milking
process this morning have, no doubt, been milked regularly for years; yet
they have to be caught and held firmly by the horns by one person, while
another robs them of what they seem reluctant enough to give up.

The sun grows uncomfortably warm, and myriads of flies buzz hungrily
about our morning repast. Before we resume our journey a little damsel,
in flaming red skirt and big silver nose-ring, enters the garden and
plucks several roses, which she brings to me on a pewter salver. These
people are Eliautes, and the women are less fearful of showing themselves
than at the village where we passed the night. Several of them apply to
me for medical assistance. The chief trouble is chronic ophthalmia;
nearly all the children are afflicted with this disease, and at the eyes
of each poor helpless babe are a mass of hungry flies. The wonder is, not
that ophthalmia runs amuck among these people, but rather, that any of
the children escape total blindness.

Several villages are passed through en route to Ghalakua; the people turn
out en masse and indulge in uproarious demonstrations at the advent of
the Ferenghi and the bicycle. These people seem as incapable of
controlling their emotions and their voices as so many wild animals; they
shout and gesticulate excitedly, and run about like people bereft of
their senses. The uncivilization crops out of these obscure Harood
villagers far plainer than it does in the tents of the wandering tribes.
They are noisier and more boisterous than the nomads, who, as a matter of
fact, are sober-sided and sedate in their deportment.

No women appear among the crowd on the street, but a carefully covered
head is occasionally caught peeping furtively from behind a chimney on
the roof of a house, or around some corner. A glance from me, and the
head is withdrawn as rapidly as if one were taking hostile aim at it with
a rifle.

Fine large irrigating ditches traverse this partially cultivable area,
and in them are an abundance of fish. In one ditch I catch sight of a
splendid specimen of the speckled trout, that must have been three feet
long. Travelling leisurely next morning, we arrive at Ghalakua in the
middle of the forenoon; quarters are assigned us by Aminulah Khan, the
Chief of the Ghalakua villages and tributary territory. In appearance he
is a typical Oriental official, his fluffy, sensuous countenance bearing
traces of such excesses as voluptuous Easterns are wont to indulge in,
and this morning he is suffering with an attack of "tab" (fever). Wrapped
in a heavy fur-lined over-coat, he is found seated on the front platform
of a inenzil beneath the arched village gateway, smoking cigarettes; in
his hand is a bouquet of roses, and numerous others are scattered about
his feet. Dancing attendance upon him is a smart-looking little fellow in
a sheepskin busby almost as bulky in proportion as his whole body, and
which renders his appearance grotesque in the extreme. His keen black
eyes sparkle brightly through the long wool of his remarkable headgear,
the ends of which dangle over his eyes like an overgrown and wayward
bang. The bravery of his attire is measurably enhanced by a cavalry
sword, long enough and heavy enough for a six-foot dragoon, a green
kammerbund, and top-boots of red leather. This person stands by the side
of Aminulah Khan, watches keenly everything that is being said and done,
receives orders from his master, and transmits them to the various
subordinates lounging about. He looks the soul of honesty and
watchfullness, his appearance and demeanor naturally conjuring up
reflections of faithful servitors about the persons of knights and nobles
of old; he is apparently the Khan of Ghalakua's confidential retainer and
general supervisor of affairs about his person and headquarters.

Our quarters are in the bala-khana of a small half-ruined konak outside
the village, and shortly after retiring thither the khan's sprightly
little retainer brings in tea and fried eggs, besides pomegranates and
roses for myself. A new departure makes its appearance in the shape of
sugar sprinkled over the eggs. While we are discussing these refreshments
our attendant stands in the doorway and addresses the sowars at some
length in Persian. He is apparently delivering instructions received from
his master; whatever it is all about, he delivers it with the air of an
orator addressing an audience, and he supplements his remarks with
gestures that would do credit to a professional elocutionist. He is as
agreeable as he is picturesque; he and I seem to fall en rapport at once,
as against the untrustworthiness of the remainder of our company. As his
keen, honest eyes scrutinize the countenances of the sowars, and then
seek my own face, I feel instinctively that he has sized my escort up
correctly, and that their innate rascality is as well revealed to him as
if he had accompanied us across the desert.

Several visitors drop in to pay their respects; they salaam respectfully
to me, and greet the sowars as "bur-raa-thers," and kiss, their hands.
One simple, unsophisticated mortal, who in his isolated life has never
had the opportunity of discriminating between a Mussulman and a Ferenghi,
addresses me also as "bur-raa-ther," and favors my palm with the
regulation osculatory greeting. The Afghans present view this
extraordinary proceeding with dignified silence, and if moved in any
manner by the spectacle, manage to conceal their emotions beneath a
stolid exterior. The risibilities of the sowars, however, are stirred to
their deepest depths, and they nearly choke themselves in desperate
efforts to keep from laughing outright.

Offerings of roses are brought into our quarters by the various visitors,
and boys and men toss others in through door and windows, until our room
is gratefully perfumed and roses are literally carpeting the floor. One
might well imagine the place to be Gulistan itself; every person is
carrying bunches of roses in his hands, smelling of them, and wearing
them in his turban and kammerbund. The people seem to be fairly revelling
in the delights of these choicest gems from Flora's evidently overflowing
storehouse. The men average tall and handsome; they look like veritable
warrior-priests in their flowing white costumes, and they make a strange
picture of mingled barbarism and aestheticism as they loaf in lazy
magnificence about the tumble-down ruins of the konak, toying with their
roses in silence. They seem contented and happy in their isolation from
the great busy outer world, and, impressed by their universal
appreciation of a flower, it occurs to me, on the impulse of ocular
evidence, that it would be the greatest pity to disturb and corrupt these
people by attempting to thrust upon them our Western civilization--they
seem far happier than a civilized community.

The khan obtains his receipt for my delivery, and by and by Aminulah Khan
sends his man to request the favor of a tomasha. Leaving my other effects
behind in charge of the sowars, I take the bicycle and favor him with a
few turns in front of the village gate. Among the various contents of my
leathern case is a bag of kerans; but, although the case is not locked,
it is provided with a peculiar fastening which I fondly imagine to be
beyond the ingenuity of the khan to open. So that, while well enough
aware of that guileful individual's uncontrollable avarice in general,
and his deep, dark designs on my money in particular, I think little of
leaving it with him for the few minutes I expect to be absent. It strikes
me as a trifle suspicious, however, upon discovering that while everybody
else comes to see the tomasha, all three of the sowars remain behind.

Instinctively I arrive at the conclusion that with these three worthy
kleptomaniacs left alone in a room with some other person's portable
property, something is pretty sure to happen to the property; so,
excusing myself as quickly as courtesy will permit, I hasten back to our
quarters. The mudbake is found posted at the outer gate of the konak. He
is keeping watch while his delectable comrades search the package in
which they sagaciously locate the silver lucre they so much covet. Seeing
me approaching, he makes a trumpet of his hands and sings out warningly
to his accomplices that I am coming back. Taking no more notice of him
than usual, I pass inside and repair at once to the bala-khana, to find
that the khan and the mirza have disappeared. The mudbake follows me in
to watch my movements. In the simplicity of his semi-civilized
understanding he is wondering within himself whether or no I entertain
suspicions of anything being wrong, and he is watching me closely to find
out. In his dense ignorance he imagines the khan and the mirza artful
almost beyond human comprehension, and in thinking this he no doubt
merely supplements the sentiments of these two wily individuals
themselves. Time and again on the journey from Tabbas has he joined them
in chuckling with ghoulish glee over some self-laudatory exposition of
their own deep, deep, cunning. They well know themselves to be
unfathomably cute beside the simple-hearted and honest ryots and nomads
with whom they are wont to compare themselves, and from these standards
they confidently judge the world at large. The mudbake colors up like a
guilty school-boy upon seeing me proceed without delay to examine the
leathern case. The erstwhile orderly arranged contents are found tumbled
about in dire confusion. My bag of about one hundred kerans have dwindled
nearly half that number as the result of being in their custody ten
minutes.

"Some of you pedar sags have stolen my money; who is it? where's the
khan?" I inquire, addressing the guilty-looking mud-bake. He is now
shivering visibly with fright, but makes a ludicrous effort to put a bold
face on the matter, and brazenly asks, "Chand pool" (How much is
missing?). "Khylie! where is the khan and the inirza? I will take you all
to Aminulah Khan and have you bastinadoed!" The poor mudbake turns pale
at the bare suggestion of the bastinado, and stoutly maintains his own
innocence. He would no doubt as stoutly proclaim the guilt of his
comrades if by so doing he could escape punishment himself. Nor is this
so surprising, when one reflects that either of these worthies would,
without a moment's hesitation, perform the same office for him or for
each other.

Without wasting time in bandying arguments with the mudbake, I sally
forth in search of the others, and meet them just outside the gate; they
are returning from hiding the money in the ruins. The crimson flood of
guilt overspreads their faces as I raise my finger and shake it at them
by way of admonition. With them following behind with all the meekness of
discovered guilt, I lead the way back up into the bala-khana. Arriving
there, both of them wilt so utterly and completely, and proceed to plead
for mercy with such ludicrous promptness, that my sense of the ridiculous
outweighs all other considerations, and I regard their demonstrations of
remorse with a broad smile of amusement. It is anything but a laughing
matter from their own standpoint, however; the mudbake warns them
forthwith that I have threatened to have them bastinadoed, and they
fairly writhe and groan in an agony of apprehension. The khan, owing to
his more sanguine temperament, and a lively conception that the heaviest
burden of guilt and accompanying punishment would naturally fall on his
own shoulders as the chief of my escort, removes his turban and then lies
down on the floor and grovels at my feet.

All the hair he possesses is a little tuft or two left on his otherwise
smoothly shaven pate, by which he confidently expects at his demise to be
tenderly lifted up into Paradise by the Prophet Mohammed. After kissing
most of the dust off my geivehs, and banging his head violently against
the floor, he signifies his willingness to relinquish all anticipations
of eternal happiness, black-eyed houris and the like, by attempting to
yank out even this Celestial hand-hold, hoping that the woeful depth of
his anguish and the sincerity of his repentance may prove the means of
escaping present punishment. His eyes roll wildly about in their sockets,
and in a voice choking with emotion he begs me pathetically to keep the
matter a secret from the Khan of Ghalakua. "O Sahib, Sahib! Hoikim no,
hoikim no!" he pleads, and the anguish-stricken khan accompanies these
pleadings with a look of unutterable agony, and furthermore indulges in
the pantomime of sawing off his ears and his hands with his forefinger.
This latter tragic demonstration is to let me know that the result of
exposure would be to have the former, and perhaps the latter, of these
useful members cut off, after the cruel and summary justice of this
country. The mirza and mudbake cluster around and supplement their
superior's pathetic pleadings with deep-drawn groans of "Allah, Allah!"
and sundry prostrations toward Mecca.

It is a ludicrous and yet a strangely touching spectacle to see these
three poor devils grovelling and pleading before me, and at the same time
praying to Allah for protection in the little bala-khana, hoping thereby
to save themselves from cruel mutilation and lifelong disgrace. A
watchful eye is kept outside by the mirza, who does his groaning and
praying near the door, and the sight of an Afghan approaching is the
signal for a mute appeal for mercy from all three, and a transformation
to ordinary attitudes and vocations, the completeness of which would do
credit to professional comedians.

When a favorable opportunity presents, with much peering about to make
sure of being unobserved, his comrades lower the khan down over the rear
wall of the bala-khana, and a minute later they hoist him up again with
the same show of caution.

Producing from his kammerbund a red handkerchief containing the stolen
kerans, he advances and humbly lays it at my feet, at the same time
kneeling down and implanting yet another osculatory favor on my geivehs.
Joyful at seeing my readiness to second them in keeping the matter hidden
from stray Afghans that come dropping in, the guilty sowars are still
fearful lest they have not yet secured my complete forgiveness.
Consequently, the khan repeatedly appeals to me as "bur-raa-ther," lays
his forefingers together, and enlarges upon the fact that we have passed
through the dangers and difficulties of the Dasht-i-na-oomid together.
The dread spectre of possible mutilation and disgrace as the consequence
of their misdeeds pursues these guileful, grown-up children even in their
dreams. All through the night they are moaning and muttering uneasily in
their sleep, and tossing restlessly about; and long before daybreak are
they up, prostrating themselves and filling the room with rapidly
muttered prayers, The khan comes over to my corner and peers anxiously
down into my face. Finding me awake, he renews his plea for mercy and
forgiveness, calling me "bur-raa-ther" and pleading earnestly "Hoikim no,
hoikim no!"

The sharp-eyed wearer of the big busby, the cavalry sword, and red
jack-boots turns up early next morning. He dropped in once or twice
yesterday, and being possessed of more brains than the three sowars put
together, he gathered from appearances, and his general estimation of
their character, that all is not right. These suspicions he promptly
communicated to his master. Aminulah Khan is only too well acquainted
with the weakest side of the Persian character, and at once jumps to the
conclusion that the sowars have stolen my money. Sending for me and
summoning the sowars to his presence, without preliminary palaver he
accuses them of robbing me of "pool." Addressing himself to me, he
inquires: "Sahib, Parses namifami?" (Do you understand Persian?) "Kam
Kam" (a little), I reply. "Sowari pool f pool koob; rupee-rupee Jcoob?"
"O, O, pool koob; rupee koob; sowari neis, sowari khylie koob adam." In
this brief interchange of disconnected Persian the khan has asked me
whether the sowars have stolen money from me, and I have answered that
they have not, but that, on the contrary, they are most excellent men,
both "trustie and true." May the recording angel enter my answer down
with a recommendation for mercy! During this examination the little
busby-wearer stands and closely scrutinizes the changeful countenances of
the accused. He thoroughly understands that I am mercifully shielding
them from what he considers their just deserts, and he chips in a word
occasionally to Aminulah Khan, aside, like a sharp lawyer watching the
progress of a cross-examination. The chief himself, though ostensibly
accepting my statement, has his own suspicions to the same purpose, and
before dismissing them he shakes his finger menacingly at the sowars and
significantly touches the hilt of his sword. The three culprits look
guilty enough to satisfy the most merciful of judges, but, relying on my
operation to shield them, they stoutly maintain their innocence.

Some little delay occurs about starting for Furrah, my next objective
point on the road to India; the khan explains that all of his sowars have
been sent off to help garrison Herat; that the best he can provide in the
form of a mounted escort is an elderly little man whom he points out,
with an evident doubt as to my probable appreciation.

The man looks more like a Persian than an Afghan, which he probably is,
as the population of these borderland districts is much mixed. Nothing
would have pleased me better than to have had Aminulah Khan bid me go
ahead without any escort whatever, but next to nobody at all, the most
satisfactory arrangement is the harmless-looking old fellow in the
Persian lamb's-wool hat. Telling him that he has done well in sending his
sowars to Herat, and that the old fellow will answer very well as guide,
I prepare to take my departure. My guide disappears, and shortly returns
mounted on a powerful and spirited gray. Aminulah Khan gives him a
letter, and after mutual salaams, and "good ahfis," the old sowar leads
the way at a pace which shows him to be filled with exaggerated ideas
about my speediness.

Irrigating ditches and fields characterize the way for some few miles,
after which we emerge upon a level desert whose hard gravel surface is
ridable in any direction without regard to beaten trails. Numerous
lizards of a peculiar spotted variety are observed scuttling about on
this gravelly plain as we ride along. The sun grows hot, but the way is
level and smooth, and about ten o'clock we arrive at the oasis of
Mahmoudabad, five farsakhs from Ghalakua. Mahmoudabad consists of a few
mud dwellings surrounded by a strong wall, and a number of tents. Water
is brought in a ditch from some distant source, and my faculty of
astonishment is once again assailed by the sight of flourishing little
patches of "Windsor beans." This is the first growth of these particular
legumes that have come beneath my notice in Asia; dropping on them in the
little oasis of Mahmoudabad is something of a surprise, to say the least.

The men of Mahmoudabad wear bracelets and ankle-ornaments of thick copper
wire, and necklaces of beads. Nothing whatever is seen of the women; so
far as ocular evidence is concerned, Mahmoudabad might be a community of
men and boys exclusively. The plain continues level and gravelly, and
pretty soon it becomes thinly covered with green young camel-thorn. The
widely scattered shrubs fail to cover up much of the desert's nakedness
at close quarters, but a wider view gives a pleasant green plain, out of
which the dark, massive mountains rise abrupt with striking effect.

Late in the afternoon the hard surface of the desert gives place to the
loose adobe soil of the Furi-ah Eooi bottom-lands. For some distance this
is so loose and soft that one sinks in shoe-top deep at every step, and
the path becomes a mere trail through dense thickets of reeds that wave
high above one's head. Beyond this is a narrow area of cultivation and
several walled villages, most of which are distinguished by one or two
palms. Arriving at one of these villages, an hour before sunset, the old
guide advocates remaining for the night. In obedience to his orders the
headman brings out a carpet and spreads it beneath the shadow of the
wall, and pointing to it, says, "Sahib, bismillah!" Taking the proffered
seat, I inquire of him the distance to Furrah. Ho says it is across the
Furrah Rood, and distant one farsakh. "Kishtee ass?" "O, Idshtee" Turning
to the guide, I suggest: "Bismillah Furrah." The old fellow looks
disappointed at the idea of going on, but he replies, "Bismillah." The
carpet is taken away again, and the village headman sends a younger man
to guide us through the fields and gardens to the river.

The Furrah Rood is broader and swifter here than the Harood, and when at
sunset we reach the ferry, it is to find that the boat is on the other
side and the ferrymen gone to their homes for the night. Several hundred
yards back from the river the city of Furrah reveals itself in the shape
of a sombre-looking high mud wall, forming a solid parallelogram, I
should judge a third of a mile long and of slightly less width. The walls
are crenellated, and strengthened by numerous buttresses. It occupies
slightly rising ground, and nothing is visible from without but the
walls. The old guide shouts lustily at a couple of men visible on the
opposite bank; but he only gets shouted back at for his pains.

Darkness is rapidly settling down upon us, and I begin to realize my
mistake in not abiding by the guide's judgment and stopping at the
village. Another village is seen a couple of miles across the reedy
lowland to our rear, and thitherward we shape our course. The intervening
space is found to consist largely of tall reeds, swampy or overflowed
areas, and irrigating ditches. Many of the latter are too deep to ford,
and darkness overtakes us long before the village is reached. Finding it
impossible to do anything with the bicycle, I remove my packages and lay
the naked wheel on top of a conspicuous place on the bank of a ditch,
where it may be readily found in the morning.

For some reason unintelligible to me accommodation is refused us at the
village. The old guide addresses the people in tones loud and
authoritative, but all to no purpose--they refuse to let us remain. While
hesitating about what course to pursue, one of the men comes out and
volunteers to guide us to a camp of nomads not far away. Following his
guidance, a camp of a dozen tents is shortly reached, and in their
hospitable midst we spend the night on a piece of carpet beneath the sky.
The usual simple refreshments are provided, as also quilts for covering.
Upon waking in the morning I am surprised to find the bicycle lying close
to my head. The hospitable nomads, having heard the story of its
abandonment from the guide, have been out in the night and found it and
brought it in.

The same friendly person who brought us to the camp turns up at daybreak
and voluntarily guides us through the area of ditches and impenetrable
reed-patches to the river. Several people are squatting on the bank
watching a crew of half-naked men tugging a rude but strong ferryboat
up-stream toward them. The boat is built of heavy hewn timber, and
capable of ferrying fifty passengers.

The Furrah Rood, at the ferry, is about two hundred yards wide, and with
a current of perhaps five miles an hour. A dozen stalwart men with rude,
heavy sweeps propel the boat across; but at every passage the swift
current takes it down-stream twice as far as the river's width. After
disembarking the passengers, the boatmen have to tow it this distance
up-stream again before making the next crossing. The boatmen wear a
single garment of blue cotton that in shape resembles a plain loose
shirt. When nearing the shore, three or four of them deftly slip their
arms out of the sleeves, bunch the whole garment up around their necks,
and spring overboard. Swimming to shallow water with a rope, they brace
themselves to stay the down-stream career of the boat.

A small gathering of wild-looking men are collected at the landing-place,
and my astonishment is awakened by the familiar figure of a Celestial
among the crowd. He is a veritable John Chinaman--beardless face,
queue, almond eyes, and everything complete. The superior thriftiness of
the Chinaman over the Afghans needs no further demonstration than the
ocular evidence that among them all he wears by far the best and the
tidiest clothes. In this, not less than in the strong Mongolian type of
face, is he a striking figure among the people.

John Chinaman is a very familiar figure to me, and I regard this strange
specimen with almost as great interest as if I had thus unexpectedly met
a European. His grotesque figure and dress, representing, so it seems to
me at the moment, a speck of civilization among the barbarousness of my
surroundings, is quite a relief to the senses. A closer investigation,
however, on the bank, while waiting for the guide's horse, reveals the
fact that he is far from being the John Chinaman of Chinatown, San
Francisco. Instead of hailing from the rice-fields of Quangtung, this
fellow is a native of Kashga-ria, a country almost as wild as
Afghanistan. A moment's scrutiny of his face removes him as far from the
civilized seaboard Celestials of our acquaintance as is the Zulu warrior
from the plantation-darky of the South. Except for the above-mentioned
comparative neatness of appearance, it is very evident that the Mongolian
is every bit as wild as the Afghans about him.

The people regard me with a deep and peculiar interest; very few remarks
are made among themselves, and no one puts a single question to me or
ventures upon any remarks. All this is in strange contrast to the
everlasting gabble and the noisy and persistent importunities of the
Persians. The Afghans are plainly full of speculations concerning my
mission, who I am, and what I am doing in their country; although they
regard the bicycle with great curiosity, the machine is evidently a
matter of secondary importance. Like the Eimuck chieftain on the Dasht-i
several of these men change countenance when I favor them with a glance.
Whether this peculiar reddening of the face among the Afghans comes of
embarrassment, or what it is, it always impresses me as much like the
"perturbation of a wild animal at finding himself suddenly confronted
with a human being."

Hiding part way to the city gate, I send the guide ahead to notify the
governor of my arrival, and to present the letter from Aininulah Khan. He
is absent what appears to me an unnecessarily long time, and I determine
to follow him in and take my chances on the tide of circumstances, as in
the cities of Persia. It is not without certain lively apprehensions of
possible adventure, however, that I approach the little arched gateway of
this gray-walled Afghan city, conscious of its being filled with the most
fanatical population in the world. In addition to this knowledge is the
disquieting reflection of being a trespasser on forbidden territory, and
therefore outside the pale of governmental sympathy should I get into
trouble.

The fascination of penetrating the strange little world within those high
walls, however, ill brooks these retrospective reflections, or thoughts
of unpleasant consequences, and I make no hesitation about riding up to
the gate. A sharp, short turn and abrupt rise in the road occurs at the
gate, necessitating a dismount and a trundle of about thirty yards, when
I suddenly find myself confronting a couple of sentries beneath the
archway of the gate. The sensation of surprise seems quite in order of
late, and these sentries furnish yet another sensation, for they are
wearing the red jackets of British infantrymen and the natty peaked caps
of the Royal Artillery. The same crimson flush of embarrassment--or
whatever it may be--that was observed in the countenance of the
Eimuck chief, overspreads their faces, and they seem overcome with
confusion and astonishment; but they both salute mechanically as I pass
in. Fifty yards of open waste ground enables me to mount and ride into
the entrance of the principal street. I have precious little time to look
about me, and no opportunity to discover what the result of my temerity
would be after the people had recovered from their amazement, for hardly
have I gotten fairly into the street when I am met by my old guide,
conducting a guard of twelve soldiers who have been sent to bring me in.



CHAPTER X.

ARRESTED AT FURRAH.

Perhaps no stranger occurrence in the field of personal adventure in
Central Asia has happened for many a year than my entrance into Furrah on
a bicycle. Only those who know Afghanistan and the Afghans can fully
realize the ticklish character of this little piece of adventure.

My soldier-escort are fine-looking fellows, wearing the well-known red
jackets of the British Army, evidently the uniform of some sepoy
regiment. Forming around me, they conduct me through the gate of an inner
enclosure near by, and usher me into a small compound where Mahmoud
Yusuph Khan, the commander-in-chief of the garrison, is engaged in
holding a morning reception of his subordinate chiefs and officers. The
spectacle that greets my astonished eyes is a revelation indeed; the
whole compound is filled with soldiers wearing the regimentals of the
Anglo-Indian army. As I enter the compound and trundle the bicycle
between long files of soldiers toward Mahmoud Yusuph Khan and his
officers, five hundred pairs of eyes are fixed on me with intense
curiosity. These are Cabooli soldiers sent here to garrison Furrah, where
they will be handy to march to the relief of Herat, in case of
demonstrations against that city by the Russians. The tension over the
Penjdeh incident has not yet (April, 1886) wholly relaxed, and I feel
instinctively that I am suspected of being a Russian spy.

In the centre of the compound is a large bungalow, surrounded by a
slightly raised porch. Seated on a mat at one end of this is Mahmoud
Yusuph Khan, and ranged in two long rows down the porch are his chiefs
and officers. They are all seated cross-legged on a strip of carpet, and
attendants are serving them with tea in little porcelain cups. They are
the most martial-looking assembly of humans I ever set eyes on. They are
fairly bristling with quite serviceable looking weapons, besides many of
the highly ornamented, but less dangerous, "gewgaws of war" dear to the
heart of the brave but conservative warriors of Islam. Prominent among
the peculiarities observed are strips of chain mail attached to portions
of their clothing as guards against sword-cuts, noticeably on the
sleeves. Some are wearing steel helmets, some huge turbans, and others
the regular Afghan military hat, this latter a rakish-looking head-piece
something like the hat of a Chinese Tartar general.

Mahmoud Yusupli Khan himself is wearing one of these hats, and is attired
in a tight-fitting suit of buckram, pipe-clayed from head to foot; in his
hat glitters a handsome rosette of nine diamonds, which I have an
opportunity of counting while seated beside him. He is a stoutish person,
full-faced, slightly above middle age, less striking in appearance than
many of his subordinates. When I have walked up between the two rows of
seated chieftains and gained his side, he forthwith displays his
knowledge of the English mode of greeting by shaking hands. He orders an
attendant to fetch a couple of camp chairs, and setting one for me, he
rises from the carpet and occupies the other one himself. Tea is brought
in small cups instead of glasses, and is highly sweetened after the
manner of the Persians; sweetmeats are handed round at the same time.
After ascertaining that I understand something of Persian, he expresses
his astonishment at my appearance in Furrah. At first it is painfully
evident that he suspects me of being a Russian spy; but after several
minutes of questions and answers, he is apparently satisfied that I am
not a Muscovite, and he explains to his officers that I am an "Ingilis
nockshi" (correspondent). He is greatly astonished to hear of the route
by which I entered the country, as no traveller ever entered Afghanistan
across the Dasht-i-na-oomid before. I tell him that I am going to
Kandahar and Quetta, and suggest that he send a sowar with me to guide
the way. He smiles amusedly at this suggestion, and shaking his head
vigorously, he says, "Kandahar neis; Afghanistan's bad; khylie bad;" and
he furthermore explains that I would be sure to get killed. "Kliylie
koob; I don't want any sowar, I will go alone; if I get killed, then
nobody will be blamable but myself." "Kandahar neis," he replies, shaking
his finger and head, and looking very serious; "Kandahar neis; beest (20)
sowars couldn't see you safely through to Kandahar; Afghanistan's bad; a
Ferenghi would be sure to get killed before reaching Kandahar."
Pretending to be greatly amused at this, I reply, "koob; if I get killed,
all right; I don't want any sowars; I will go alone." At hearing this, he
grows still more serious, and enters into quite an eloquent and lengthy
explanation, to dissuade me from the idea of going. He explains that the
Ameer has little control over the fanatical tribes in Zemindavar, and
that although the Boundary Commission had a whole regiment of sepoys, the
Ameer couldn't guarantee their safety if they came to Furrah. He
furthermore expresses his surprise that I wasn't killed before getting
this far. The officer of the guard who brought me in, and who is standing
against the porch close by, speaks up at this stage of the interview and
tells with much animation of how I was riding down the street, and of the
people all speechless with astonishment.

Mahmoud Yusuph Khan repeats this to his officers, with comments of his
own, and they look at one another and smile and shake their heads,
evidently deeply impressed at what they consider the dare-devil
recklessness of a Ferenghi in venturing alone into the streets of Furrah.
The warlike Afghans have great admiration for personal courage, and they
evidently regard my arrival here without escort as a proof that I am
possessed of a commendable share of that desirable quality. As the
commander-in-chief and a few grim old warriors squatting near us exchange
comments on the subject of my appearance here, and my willingness to
proceed alone to Kandahar, notwithstanding the known probability of being
murdered, their glances of mingled amusement and admiration are agreeably
convincing that I have touched a chord of sympathy in their rude, martial
breasts.

Half an hour is passed in drinking tea and asking questions. Mahmoud
Yusuph Khan proves himself not wholly ignorant of English and
British-Indian politics. "General Roberts Sahib, Cabool to Kandahar?" he
queries first. The Afghans regard General Roberts' famous march as a
wonderful performance, and consequently hold that distinguished officer's
name in high repute. He asks about Sir Peter Lumsden and Colonel Sir West
Ridgeway; and speaks of the Governor-General of India. By way of testing
the extent of his knowledge, I refer to Lord Ripon as the present
Governor-General of India, when he at once corrects me with, "No; Lord
Dufferin Sahib." He speaks of London, and wants to know about Mr.
Gladstone and Lord Salisbury--which is now Prime Minister? I
explain by pantomime that the election is not decided; he acknowledges
his understanding of my meaning by a nod. He then grows inquisitive about
the respective merits of the two candidates. "Gladstone koob or Salisbury
koob?" he queries. "Gladstone koob, England, ryot, nune, gusht,
kishrnish, pool-Salisbury koob, India, Afghanistan, Ameer, Russia
soldier, officer," is the reply. To the average reader this latter reads
like so much unintelligible shibboleth; but it is a fair sample of the
disjointed language by which I manage to convey my meaning plainly to the
Afghan chieftain. He understands by these few disconnected nouns that I
consider Gladstone to be the better statesman of the two for England's
domestic affairs, and Salisbury the better for the foreign policy of the
Empire.

All this time the troops are being put through their exercises, marching
about the compound in companies and drilling with their muskets. Some are
uniformed in the picturesque Anglo-Oriental regimentals of the Indian
sepoy, and others in neat red jackets, peaked caps, and white trousers
with red stripes. The buttons, belts, bandoleers, and buckles are all
wanderers from the ranks of the British army. The men themselves--many of
them, at least--might quite as readily be credited to that high standard
of military prowess which characterizes the British army as the clothes
and accoutrements they are wearing, judging from outward appearances. Not
only do their faces bear the stamp of both fearlessness and intelligence,
but some of them are possessed of the distinctively combative physiognomy
of the born pugilist. The captain of the Governor's guard has a
particularly plucky and aggressive expression; he is a man whose face
will always remain pictured on my memory. The interesting expression this
officer habitually wears is that of a prize-ring champion, with a
determined bull-dog phiz, watching eagerly to pounce on some imaginary
antagonist. Seeing that his attention is keenly centred upon me the whole
time I am sitting by the side of his chief, he becomes an object of more
than passing interest. He watches me with the keen earnestness of a
bull-dog expectantly awaiting the order to attack.

Mahmoud Yusuph Khan now attempts to explain at length sundry reasons why
it is necessary to place me, for the time being, under guard. He seems
very anxious to convey this unpleasant piece of information in the
flowery langue diplomatique of the Orient, or in other words, to coat the
bitter pill of my detention with a sugary coating of Eastern politeness.

His own linguistic abilities being unequal to the occasion, he sends off
somewhere for a dusky Hindostani, who shortly arrives and, in obedience
to orders, forthwith begins jabbering at me in his own tongue. Of this I,
of course, know literally nothing, and, ever swayed by suspicion, it is
easily perceivable that their first impression of my being a Russian spy
is in a measure revived by my ignorance of Hindostani. They seem to think
it inconsistent that one could be an Englishman and not understand the
language of a native of India. After the interview the twelve red-jackets
that appear to constitute the Governor's bodyguard are detailed to
conduct me to a walled garden--outside the city. Before departing,
however, I give the strange assembly of Afghan warriors an exhibition of
riding around the compound. The guard, under the leadership of the
officer with the bull-dog phiz, fix bayonets and form into a file on
either side of me as I trundle back through the same street traversed
upon my arrival. Accompanying us is a man on a gray horse whom everybody
addresses respectfully as "Kiftan Sahib" (Captain), and another
individual afoot in a bottle-green roundabout, a broad leathern belt, a
striped turban, white baggy pantalettes, and pointed red shoes. Kiftan
Sahib looks more like an English game-keeper than an Afghan captain; he
wears a soiled Derby hat, a brown cut-away coat, striped pantaloons, and
Northampton-made shoes without socks; his arms are a cavalry sabre and a
revolver.

Outside the gate, at the suggestion of the young man in the bottle-green
roundabout, I mount and ride, wheeling slowly along between the little
files of soldiers. The soldiers are delighted at the novelty of their
duty, and they swing briskly along as I pedal a little faster. They smile
at the exertion necessary to keep up, and falling in with their spirit of
amusement, I gradually increase my speed, and finally shoot ahead of them
entirely. Kiftan Sahib comes galloping after me on the gray, and with
good-humored anxiety motions for me to stop and let the soldiers catch
up. He it is upon whom the commander-in-chief has saddled the
responsibility for my safe-keeping, and this little display of levity and
my ability to so easily out-distance the soldiers, awakens in him the
spirit of apprehension at once. One can see that he breathes easier as
soon as we are safely inside the garden gate.

A couple of little whitewashed bungalows are the only buildings in the
garden, and one of these is assigned to me for my quarters. Kiftan Sahib
and the young man in the bottle-green roundabout give orders about the
preparation of refreshments, and then squat themselves down near me to
gladden their eyes with a prolonged examination of my face. The
red-jackets separate into three reliefs of four each; one relief
immediately commences pacing back and forth along the four sides of the
bungalow, one soldier on each side, while the remainder seek the shade of
a pomegranate grove that occupies one side of the garden. By-and-by
servitors appear bearing trays of sweetmeats and more substantial fare.
The variety and abundance of eatables comprising the meal, are such as to
thoroughly delight the heart of a person who has grown thin and gaunt and
wolfish from semi-starvation and prolonged physical exertion. The two
long skewers of smoking kabobs and the fried eggs are most excellent
eating, the pillau is delicious, and among other luxuries is a sort of
pomegranate jam, some very good butter (called muscal), a big bowl of
sherbet, and dishes of nuts, sweetmeats, and salted melon seeds. After
dinner the young man in bottle-green, who seems anxious to cultivate my
good opinion, smiles significantly at me and takes his departure; he
turns up again in a few minutes bearing triumphantly an old Phillips'
Atlas, which he deferentially places at my feet. Opening it, I find that
the chief countries and cities of the world are indicated in written
Hindostani characters. In this manner some English officer has probably
been the undesigning medium of giving these Afghans a peep into the
configuration of the earth they live on, and their first lesson in
geography.

I reward the young man by asking him whether he too is a "kiftan." He
acknowledges the compliment by a broad grin and two salaams made in rapid
succession.

After noon a messenger arrives from Mahmoud Yusuph Khan bringing salaams
and a pair of stout English walking-boots to replace my old worn-out
geivehs; and a cake of toilet soap, also of English make. Both shoes and
soap, as may be easily imagined, are highly acceptable articles. The
advent of the former likewise answers the purpose of enlightening me a
trifle in regard to matters philological; the Afghans call their
foot-gear "boots" (the Chinese call their foot-wear "shoes," and their
gloves "tung-shoes," or hand-shoes).

About four o'clock I am visited by a fatherly old khan in a sky-blue
gown, and an interesting Cabooli cavalry colonel, with pieces of chain
mail distributed about his uniform, and a fierce-looking moustache that
stands straight out from his upper lip. Sweetmeats enough to start a
small candy shop have been sent me during the afternoon, and setting them
out before my guests, we are soon on the most familiar terms. The colonel
shows me his weapons in return for a squint down the shining rifled
barrel of my Smith & Wesson, and he explains the merits and demerits of
both his own firearms and mine. The 38-calibre S. & W. he thinks a
perfect weapon in its way, but altogether too small for Afghanistan. With
expressive pantomime he explains that, while my 38 bullet would kill a
person as well as a larger one, it requires a heavier missile to crash
into a man who is making for you with a knife or sword, and stop him. His
favorite weapon for close quarters is a murderous-looking piece, half
blunderbuss, half pistol, that he carries thrust in his kammerbund, so
that the muzzle points behind him. This weapon has a small single-hand
musket stock, and the bell-mouthed barrel is filled nearly to the muzzle
with powder and round bullets the size of buckshot. This formidable
firearm is for hand-to-hand fighting on horseback, and at ten paces might
easily be warranted to blow a man's head into smithereens.

The colonel is an amiable old warrior, and kindly points this interesting
weapon at my head for me to peer down the barrel and satisfy myself that
it is really loaded almost to the top! Like Injun-slaying youngsters in
America, the doughty Afghan warriors seem to delight in having their
weapons loaded, their sidearms sharp, and their bayonets fixed, and seem
anxious to impress the beholder with the fact that they are real
warriors, and not mere make-believe soldiers. The colonel wears a
dark-brown uniform profusely trimmed with braid, a Kashgarian military
hat, and English army shoes. In matters pertaining to his wardrobe it is
very evident that he has profited to no small extent by Afghanistan being
adjacent territory to British India; but his semi-civilized ambition has
not yet soared into the aesthetic realm of socks; doubtless he considers
Northampton-made shoes sufficiently luxurious without the addition of
socks.

The mission of these two officers is apparently to prepare me gradually
for the intelligence that I am to be taken back to Herat. So skillfully
and diplomatically does the old khan in the cerulean gown acquit himself
of this mission, that I thoroughly understand what is to be my
disposition, although Herat is never mentioned. He talks volubly about
the Ameer, the Wali, the Padishah, the dowleh, Cabool, Allah, and a host
of other subjects, out of which I readily evolve my fate; but, as yet, he
breathes nothing but diplomatic hints, and these are clothed in the most
pleasant and reassuring smiles, and given in tones of paternal
solicitude. The colonel sits and listens intently, and now and then
chimes in with a word of soothing assent by way of emphasizing the
subject, when the khan is explaining about the Ameer, or Allah, or
kismet. Mahmoud Tusuph Khan himself comes to the garden in the cool of
the evening, and for half an hour occupies bungalow No. 2. He betrays a
spark of Oriental vanity by having an attendant follow behind, bearing a
huge and wonderful sun-shade, into the make-up of which peacock feathers
and other gorgeous material largely enters. Noticing this, I make a
determined assault upon his bump of Asiatic self-esteem, by asking him if
he is brother to the Ameer. He smiles and says he is a brother of Shere
Ali, the ex-Ameer deposed in favor of Abdur Bahman. His remarks during
our second interview are largely composed of furtive queries, intended to
penetrate what he evidently, even as yet, suspects to be the secret
object of my mysterious appearance in the heart of the country. The
Afghan official is nothing if not suspicious, and although he professed
his own conviction, in the morning, of my being an English "nokshi," his
constitutionally suspicious nature forbids him accepting this impression
as final.

During this interview two more natives of India are produced and ordered
to assail my long-suffering ears with the battery of their vernacular.
They are an interesting pair, and they evince the liveliest imaginable
interest in finding a Sahib alone in the hands of the Afghans. They are
vivacious and intelligent, and try hard to make themselves understood.
From their own vocal and pantomimic efforts and the Persian of the
Afghans, I learn that they are sepoys in charge of three prisoners from
the Boundary Commission camp, whom they are taking through to Quetta.

They seem very anxious to do something in my behalf, and want Mahmoud
Yusuph Khan to let them take me with them to Quetta. I lose no time in
signifying my approval of this suggestion; but the Governor shakes his
head and orders them away, as though fearful even to have such a
proposition entertained. All the time the sepoys are endeavoring to make
themselves understood, every Afghan present regards my face with the
keenest scrutiny; so glaringly evident are their suspicions that the
situation becomes too much for my gravity. The sepoys grin broadly in
response, whereupon the pugilistic-faced captain of the Governor's guard
remonstrates with them for their levity, by roughly making them stand in
a more respectful attitude. I dislike very much to see them ordered off,
for they are evidently anxious to champion my cause; moreover, it would
have been interesting to have accompanied them through to Quetta.
Understanding thoroughly by this time that I am not to be allowed to go
through by way of Giriskh and Kandahar, and dreading the probability of
being taken back into Persia, I ask permission to travel south to Jowain
and the frontier of Beloochistan. The Afghan-Beloochi boundary is not
more than fifty or sixty miles south of Furrah, and while it would be
difficult to say what advantage would be gained by reaching there, it
would at all events be some consolation to find myself at liberty.

The interview ends, however, without much additional light being shed on
their intentions; but the advent of more sweetmeats shortly after the
Governor's departure, and the unexpected luxury of a bottle of Shiraz
wine, heightens the conviction that my own wishes in the matter are to be
politely ignored. The red-jackets patrol my bungalow till dark, when they
are relieved by soldiers in dark-blue kilts, loose Turkish pantalettes,
and big turbans. I sit on the threshold during the evening, watching
their soldierly bearing with much interest; on their part they comport
themselves as though proudly conscious of making a good impression. I
judge they have been especially ordered to acquit themselves well in my
presence, and so impress me, whether I am English or Russian, with a
sense of their military proficiency. All about the garden red-coated
guards are seen prostrating themselves toward Mecca in the prosecution of
their evening devotions. Full of reflections on the exciting events of
the day and the strange turn affairs have taken, I stretch myself on a
Turkoman rug and doze off to sleep. The last sound heard ere reaching the
realms of unconsciousness is the steady tramp of the sentinels pacing to
and fro. Scarcely have I fallen asleep--so at least it seems to me
--when I am awakened by my four guards singing out, one after
another, "Kujawpuk! Ki-i-puk!!" This appears to be their answer to the
challenge of the officer going his rounds, and they shout it out in tones
clear and distinct, in succession. This programme is repeated several
times during the night, and, notwithstanding the sleep-inducing fatigues
of the last few days, my slumbers are light enough to hear the reliefs of
the guard and their strange cry of "Kujawpuk, ki-i-puk" every time it is
repeated.

As the sun peeps over the wall of the garden my red-jackets reappear at
their post; roses are stuck in their caps' and their buttonholes, and
fastened to their guns. A big bouquet of the same fragrant "guls" is
presented to me, and a dozen gholams are busy gathering all that are
abloom in the garden. These are probably gathered every morning in the
rose season, and used for making rose-water by the officers' wives.
During the forenoon the blue-gowned old khan and his major-domo, the
mail-clad colonel, again present themselves at my bungalow. They are
gracious and friendly to a painful degree, and sugar would scarcely melt
in the mouth of the paternal old khan as he delivers the "Wall's salaams
to the Sahib." Tea and sweetmeats are handed around, and Kiftan Sahib and
Bottle Green join our company.

Nothing but the formal salaams has yet been said; but intuition is a
faithful forerunner, and ere another word is spoken, I know well enough
that the khan and the colonel have been sent to break the disagreeable
news that I am to be taken to Herat, and that Kiftan Sahib and Bottle
Green have dropped in out of curiosity to see how I take it.

The kindly old khan finds his task of awakening the spirit of
disappointment anything but congenial, and he seems very loath to deliver
the message. When he finally unburdens himself, it is with averted eyes
and roundabout language. He commences by a rambling disquisition on the
dangers of the road to Kandahar, apologizing profusely for the Ameer's
inability to guarantee the good behavior of the wandering tribes, and the
consequent necessity of forbidding travellers to enter the country.

He dwells piously and at considerable length upon our obligations to
submit to the will of Allah, not forgetting a liberal use of the Oriental
fatalist's favorite expression: "kismet." For the sake of argument,
rather than with any hope of influencing things in my favor, I reply:"
All right, I don't ask the Ameer's protection; I will go to Kandahar and
Quetta alone, on my own responsibility; then if I get murdered by the
Ghilzais, nobody but myself will be to blame." "The Wali has his orders
from the Padishah, the Ameer Abdur Eahman Khan, that no Ferenghi is to
come in the country." "Tell the Wali that Afghanistan is Allah's country
first and Abdur Eahman's country second. Inshallah, Allah gives everybody
the road." The old khan is evidently at a loss how to meet so logical an
argument, and the colonel, Kiftan Sahib, and Bottle Green are deeply
impressed at what they consider my unanswerable wisdom. They look at one
another and shake their heads and smile.

The chief concern of the khan is apparently to convince me that it is
only out of consideration for my own safety that I am forbidden to go
through, and, after a brief consultation with the others, he again
addresses his flowery eloquence to me. He comes and squats beside me,
and, with much soothing patting of my shoulder, he says: "The Wali is
only taking you to Herat to obtain Ridgeway Sahib's and Faramorz Khan's
permission for you to go through. Inshallah, after you have seen Herat,
if it is the will of Allah, and your kismet to go to Kandahar, the Ameer
will let you go." To this comforting assurance I deem it but justice to
the well-meaning old chieftain to signify my submission to the
inevitable. Before departing, he requests the humble present of a
pencil-sketch of the bicycle as a souvenir of my visit to Furrah. During
the day I get on quite intimate terms with my guard, and among other
things compete with them in the feat of holding a musket out at arm's
length, gripping the extreme end of the barrel. Tall, strapping fellows
some of them are, but they are not muscular in comparison; out of a round
dozen competitors I am the only one capable of fairly accomplishing this
feat.

Many of the soldiers carry young pheasants about with them in cages, and
seem to derive a good deal of pleasure in feeding them and attending to
their wants. The cages are merely pieces of white muslin, or
mosquito-netting, about the size of a pocket-handkerchief, enclosing a
four-inch disk of wood for the inmate to stand on. The crape is gathered
and loosely tied at the corners. It is carried as one would carry
anything suspended in a handkerchief, and is hung on the limb of a tree
in the same manner.

Late in the afternoon of the second clay my scarlet guard marshal
themselves in front of the bungalow, and Kiftan Sahib and Bottle Green
bid me prepare for departure to Herat. The old khan and the colonel, and
several other horsemen, appear at the gate; the soldiers form themselves
into two files, and between them I trundle from my circumscribed
quarters. The rude ferry-boat is awaiting our coming, and in a few
minutes the khan and the colonel bid me quite an affectionate farewell on
the river-bank, gazing eagerly into my face as though regretful at the
necessity of parting so soon. My escort favor me with the, same lingering
gaze. These people are evidently fascinated by the strange and mysterious
manner of my coming among them; who am I, what am I, and wherefore my
marvellous manner of travelling, are questions that appeal strongly to
their Asiatic imagination, and they are intensely loath to see me
disappear again without having seen more of me and my wonderful iron
horse, and learned more about it.

Several horsemen have already crossed and are awaiting us on the opposite
shore. Kiftan Sahib and another officer with a henna-tinted beard are in
charge of the party taking me back. Besides myself and these two, the
party consists of eleven horsemen; with sundry modifications, their
general appearance, arms, and dress resemble the make-up of a Persian
sowar rather than the regular Afghan soldier. The sun is just setting
behind those western mountains I passed three days ago as we reach the
western shore, the boatmen are unloading the saddles and accoutrements of
our party, and I sit down on the bank and survey the strange scene just
across the river. The steep bluff opposite is occupied by people who
accompanied us to the river. Many of them are seizing this opportune
moment to prostrate themselves toward the Holy City, the geographical
position of which is happily indicated by the setting sun.

Prominent among the worshippers are seen side by side the cerulean figure
of the khan, and the colonel in all the bravery of his military
trappings, his chain armor glistening brightly in the waning sunlight. A
little removed from the crowd, the twelve red-coats are ranged in a row,
performing the same pious ceremony; as their bared heads bob up and down
one after another, the scarlet figures outlined in a row against the
eastern sky are strangely suggestive of a small flock of flamingoes
engaged in fishing.



CHAPTER XI.

UNDER ESCORT TO HERAT.

Our party camps near a village not far from the river, but it takes us
till after dark to reach the place, owing to ditches and overflow. A few
miles of winding trails and intricate paths through the reedy
river-bottom next morning, and we emerge upon a flinty upland plain. At
first a horseman is required to ride immediately ahead of the bicycle, my
untutored escort being evidently suspicious lest I might suddenly forge
ahead, and with the swiftness of a bird disappear from their midst.

As this leader, in his ignorance, occasionally stops right in the narrow
path, and considers himself in duty bound to limit my speed to that of
the walking horses, this arrangement quickly becomes very monotonous.
Appealing to Kiftan Sahib, I point out the annoyance of having a horse
just in front, and promise not to go too far ahead. He points appealingly
to a little leathern pouch attached to his belt. The pouch contains a
letter to the Governor of Herat, and he it is whom Mahmoud Yusuph Khan
expects to take back a receipt. The chief responsibility for my safe
delivery rests upon his shoulders, and he is disposed to be abnormally
apprehensive and suspicious.

Reassuring him of my sincerity, he permits the horseman to follow along
behind. When the condition of the road admits of my pushing ahead a
little, this sowar canters along immediately behind, while the remainder
of the party follow more leisurely.

One of the party carries a skin of water, and as the morning grows
fearfully hot, frequent halts are made to wait for him and get a drink,
otherwise we two are usually some distance ahead. These water-vessels are
merely goat-skins, taken off with as little mutilation of the hide as
possible; one of the legs serves as a faucet, and the tying or untying of
a piece of string opens or closes the "tap." It is the handiest
imaginable contrivance for carrying liquids on horseback, the tough,
pliant goat-skin resisting any amount of hard usage and accommodating
itself readily to the contour of the pack-saddle, or itself forming a
soft enough seat to the rider.

Near noon we reach the ruins of Suleimanabad, entirely deserted save by
hideous gray lizards a foot long, numbers of which scuttle off into their
hiding places at our approach. In the distance ahead are visible the
black tents of a nomad camp. The glowing, reflected heat of the stony
desert produces an unquenchable thirst, and the generous bowls of cool,
acidulous doke obtained in the tents are quaffed most eagerly by the
entire party.

The solicitude of Kiftaii Sahib as displayed on my behalf is quite
amusing, not to say affecting; while the others are attending to their
horses he squats down before me underneath the little goat-hair tent and
gazes at me with an attention so close that one might imagine him afraid
lest I should mysteriously change into some impalpable spirit and float
away.

The nomads themselves appear to be amiably disposed, intent chiefly on
supplying our wants and fulfilling the traditions of tented hospitality.
They look wild enough, but, withal, pleasant and intelligent. Kiftan
Sahib, however, watches every movement of the stalwart nomads with keen
interest; and small power of penetration is required to see that
apprehension, if not positive suspicion, enters very largely into his
thoughts concerning them and myself.

A howling wind and dust-storm comes careering across the plain, creating
a wild scene, and black cloud-banks gather and pile up ominously in the
west. The threatened rain-storm, however, passes off with a pyrotechnic
display of great brilliancy, and the evening air lowers to a refreshing
temperature as we stretch ourselves out on nummuds, fifty yards away from
the tents. Kiftan Sahib spreads his own couch on the right side of mine
and the red-whiskered chief of the sowars occupies the left.

Waking up during the night, I am somewhat taken by surprise at finding
one of my escort standing guard over me with fixed bayonet. This
extraordinary precaution appears to me at the time as being altogether
superfluous; while recognizing these nomads as lawless and fanatical, I
should nevertheless have no hesitation in venturing alone among them.

The morning star is just soaring above the eastern horizon, and the
feeble rays of Luna's half-averted face are imparting a ghostly glimmer
of light, when I am awakened from a sound sleep. The horses have all been
saddled and packed, and everybody is ready to start. Daylight comes on
apace and, finding the trail hard and reasonably smooth, I am happily
able to "sowari," and not only able to ride but to forge right ahead of
the party. The country is level and open, and uninhabited, so that Kiftan
Sahib is far less apprehensive than he was yesterday.

I am perhaps a couple of miles ahead when I come to a splendid, large,
irrigating canal, evidently conveying water from the Harood down across
the desert to the low cultivable lands near the Furrah Rood. The water is
three feet deep, and I revel in the luxury of a cooling and refreshing
bath until overtaken by the escort.

The plain, heretofore hard, now changes into loose sand and gravel, and
the trail becomes quite obliterated. In addition to these undesirable
changes, the wind commences blowing furiously from the north, making it
absolutely impossible to ride. Rounding the base of an abutting mountain,
we emerge upon the grassy lowlands of the Harood in the vicinity of
Subzowar. Subzowar is a sort of way-station between Furrah and Herat, the
only inhabited place, except tents, on the whole journey. It is on the
west side of the Harood and the broad, swift stream is full to
overflowing, a turgid torrent rushing along at a dangerous pace.

After much shouting and firing of guns, a score of villagers appear on
the opposite bank, and several of them come wading and swimming across.
They seem veritable amphibians, capable of stemming the tide that
well-nigh sweeps strong horses off their feet. The river is fordable by
following a zigzag course well known to the local watermen. One of them
carries the bicycle safely across on his head, and others lead the
sowars' horses by the bridle.

When all the Afghans but Kiftan Sahib have been assisted over, the
strongest horse of the party is brought back for my own passage. A dozen
natives are made to form a close cordon about me to rescue me in case of
misadventure, while one leads the horse by his bridle and another
steadies him by holding on to his tail. Kiftan Sahib himself brings up
the rear, and, as the rushing waters deepen around us, he abjures me to
keep a steady seat and, in a voice that almost degenerates into an
apprehensive whine, he mutters: "The receipt, Sahib, the receipt."

A ripple of excitement occurs in the middle of the river by one the men
being swept off his feet and carried down stream; and, although he swims
like a duck, the treacherous undercurrent sucks him under several times.
It looks as though he would be drowned; a number of his comrades race
down the bank and plunge in to swim to his rescue, but he finally secures
footing on a submerged sand-bank, and after resting a few minutes swims
ashore.

The remainder of the day, and the night, are passed in tents near
Subzowar, it being very evidently against Afghan social etiquette for
strangers to take shelter within the confines of the village itself.

Whether from their knowledge of the unsuitableness of the country ahead,
or from a new spasm of apprehension concerning their responsibility, does
not appear; but in the morning Kiftan Sahib and the chief of the sowars
insist upon me mounting a horse and handing the bicycle over to the
tender mercies of the person in charge of the nummud pack-horse. They
point in the direction of Herat, and deliver themselves of a marvellous
quantity of deprecatory pantomime. My own impression is that, having
recrossed the Harood, the only great obstacle in the path of a wheelman
between Furrah and Herat, their abnormally suspicious minds imagine that
there is now nothing to prevent me taking wings and outdistancing them to
the latter place.

Finding them determined, and, moreover, nothing loath to try a horse for
a change, on the back-stretch, I take the wheel apart and distribute
fork, backbone, and large wheel among the sowars. The only fit place for
the latter is on the top of the nummuds and blankets on the spare
pack-horse, and, before starting, I see to fastening it securely on top
of the load. This pack-horse is a powerful black stallion that puts in a
good share of his time trying to attack the other horses. Owing to this
uncontrollable pugnacity, he is habitually led along at some considerable
distance from the party, generally to the rear.

The person in charge of him is a young negro as black, and
proportionately powerful, as himself. Wild and ferocious as is the
stallion, he is a civilized and mild-mannered animal compared with his
manager. In the matter of facial expression and intellectual development
this uncivilized descendant of Ham is first cousin to a wild gorilla, and
it is not without certain misgivings that I leave the web-like
bicycle-wheel in his charge. He has been a very interesting study of
uncivilization all along, and his bump of destructiveness is as large as
an orange. The military Afghans, one and all, impress me as being
especially created to destroy the fruits of other people's industry and
thrift, whether it be in wearing out clothes and shoes made in England,
or devouring the substance of the peaceful villagers of their own
territory; and this untamed darkey fairly bristles with the evidence of
his capacity as a destroyer.

Everything about him is in a dilapidated condition; the leathern scabbard
of his sword is split half way up, revealing a badly notched and rusted
blade. An orang-outang, fresh from the jungles of Sumatra, could scarcely
display less intelligence concerning human handicraft than he; he bubbles
over with laughter at seeing anything upset or broken, growls sullenly at
receiving uncongenial orders, calls on Allah, and roars threateningly at
the stallion, all in the same breath. No wonder I ride ahead, feeling
somewhat apprehensive; and yet the wheel looks snug and safe enough on
top of the big pile of soft nummuds.

The day's march is long and dreary, through a country of desert wastes
and stony hills. The only human habitation seen is a small cluster of
tents near some wells of water. The people seem overjoyed at the sight of
travellers, and come running to the road with their kammerbunds full of
little hard balls of sun-dried mast. We fill our pockets with these and
nibble and chew them as we ride along. They are pleasantly sour,
containing great thirst-quemhing properties, as well as being very
nourishing.

The sun goes down and dusk settles over our trail, and still the chief of
the sowars and Kiftan Sahib lead the way. Many of the horses are pretty
badly fagged, they have had nothing to eat all day and next to nothing to
drink, and the party are straggling along the trail for a couple of miles
back. At length lights are observed twinkling in the darkness ahead. Half
an hour later we dismount in a nomad camp, and one after another the
remainder of the party come straggling in, some of them leading their
horses. Both men and animals are well-nigh overcome with fatigue.

The shrill neighing of the ferocious and spirited black stallion is heard
as he approaches and realizes that he is coming into camp; he is a
glorious specimen of a horse, neither hunger nor thirst can curb his
spirit. He is carrying far the heaviest load of the party, yet he comes
into camp at ten o'clock, after hustling along over stones and sand since
before daylight, without food or water; neighing loudly and ready to
fight all the horses within reach. The chief of the sowars goes out to
superintend the unloading of the black stallion; and soon I hear him
addressing the negro in angry tones, supplementing his reproachful words
with several resounding blows of his riding-whip. The wild darkey's
disapproval of these proceedings finds expression in a roar of pain and
fear that would do justice to a yearling bull being dragged into the
shambles.

The cause of this turmoil shortly turns up in the shape of my wheel, with
no less than eleven spokes broken, and the rim considerably twisted out
of shape. Kiftan Sahib surveys 'the damaged wheel a moment, draws his own
rawhide from his kammerbund, and rises to his feet. With a hoarse cry of
alarm the negro vanishes into the surrounding gloom; the next moment is
heard his eager chuckling laugh, the spontaneous result of his lucky
escape from Kiftan Sahib's vengeful rawhide. Kiftan Sahib keeps a
desultory lookout for him all the evening, but the wary negro is more
eagerly watchful than he, and during supper-time he hovers perpetually
about the encircling wall of darkness, ready to vanish into its
impenetrable depths at the first aggressive demonstration.

The explanation of the negro is that the black horse laid down with his
load. The wheel presents a well-nigh ruined appearance, and I retire to
my couch in a most unenviable frame of mind; lying awake for hours,
pondering over the probability of being able to fix it up again at Herat.

One of our party of stragglers has failed to come in, and a couple of
nomads start out about 2 a.m. to try and find him; but neither absentee
nor searchers turn up at daybreak, and so we pull out without him.

The wind blows raw and chilly from the north as we depart at early dawn,
and the men muffle themselves up in whatever wraps they happen to have.
Unwilling to trust the wheel further in the charge of the negro, I carry
it myself, resting it on one stirrup, and securing it with a rope over my
shoulder. It is a most awkward thing to carry on horseback; but, unhandy
though it be, I regret not having so carried it the whole way from
Subzowar.

Our route leads through a dreary country, much the same character as
yesterday, but we pass a pool of very good water about mid-day, and meet
three men driving laden pack-horses from Herat. They are halted and
questioned at great length concerning the contents of their packages,
whither they are bound and whence they come; and their firearms are
examined and commented upon. The members of our party appear to address
them with a very domineering spirit, as though wantonly revelling in the
sense of their own numerical superiority. On the other hand, the three
honest travellers comport themselves with what looks like an altogether
unnecessary amount of humility during the interview, and they seem very
thankful and relieved when permitted to take their departure. The
significance of all this, I imagine, is that my escort were sorely
tempted to overhaul the effects of the weaker party, and see if they had
any toothsome eatables from the bazaars of Herat; and the latter, justly
apprehensive of these designs on their late purchases, consider
themselves fortunate in escaping without being ruthlessly looted.

Toward evening we pass a comparatively new cemetery on a knoll; no signs
of human habitation are about, and Kiftan Sahib, in response to my
inquiries, explains that it is the graveyard of a battle-field.

Several times during the afternoon we lose the trail; we seem to be going
across an almost trailless country, and more than once have to call a
halt while men are sent to the summit of some neighboring hill to survey
the surrounding country for landmarks.

At dark we pitch our camp in a grassy hollow, where the horses are made
happy with heaps of pulled bottom-grass. Neither trees nor houses are
anywhere in sight; but the chief of the sowars and another man ride away
over the hills, and late at night return with two men carrying bread and
mast and fresh goat-milk enough to feed the whole hungry party.

We make a leisurely start next morning, the reason of the dalliance being
that we are but a few farsakhs from Herat. The country develops into
undulating, grassy upland prairie, the greensward being thickly spangled
with yellow flowers. A two flours' ride brings us to a camp of probably
not less than one hundred tents. Large herds of camels are peacefully
browsing over the prairie, numbers of them being females rejoicing in the
possession of woolly youngsters, whose uncouth but tender proportions are
swathed in old quilts and nummuds to protect them from the fierce rays of
the sun.

Sheep are being sheared and goats milked by men and boys; some of the
women are baking bread, some are jerking skin churns, suspended on
tripods, vigorously back and forth, and others are preparing balls of
mast for drying in the sun. The whole camp presents a scene of
picturesque animation.

From the busy nomad camp, the trail seems to make a gradual ascent until,
on the morning of April 30th, we arrive at the bluff-like termination of
a rolling upland country, and behold! spread out below is the famous
valley of Herat. Like a panorama suddenly opened up before me is the
charmed stretch of country that has time and again created such a stir in
the political and military circles of England and Russia, the famous
"gate to India" about which the two greatest empires of the world have
sometimes almost come to blows. Several populous villages are scattered
about the valley within easy range of human vision; the Heri Rood, now
bursting its natural boundaries under the stimulus of the spring floods,
glistens broadly at intervals like a chain of small lakes. The fortress
of Herat is dimly discernible in the distance beyond the river, probably
about twenty miles from our position; it is rendered distinguishable from
other masses of mud-brown habitations by a cluster of tall minarets,
reminding one of a group of factory chimneys. The whole scene, as viewed
from the commanding view of our ridge, embraces perhaps four hundred
square miles of territory; about one-tenth of this appears to be under
cultivation, the remainder being of the same stony, desert-like character
as the average camel-thorn dasht.

Doubtless a good share of this latter might be reclaimed and rendered
productive by an extensive system of irrigating canals, but at present no
incentive exists for enterprise of this character. In its present state
of cultivation the valley provides an abundance of food for the
consumption of its inhabitants, and as yet the demand for exportation is
limited to the simple requirements of a few thousand tributary nomads.
The orchards and green areas about the villages render the whole scene,
as usual, beautiful in comparison with the surrounding barrenness, but
that is all. Compared with our own green hills and smiling valleys, the
Valley of Herat would scarcely seem worth all the noise that has been
made about it. There has been a great amount of sentiment wasted in
eulogizing its alleged beauty. Of its wealth and commercial importance in
the abstract, I should say much exaggeration has been indulged in. Still,
there is no gainsaying that it is a most valuable strategical position,
which, if held by either England or Russia, would exercise great
influence on Central Asian and Indian affairs. Such are my first
impressions of the Herat Valley, and a sojourn of some ten days in one of
its villages leaves my conjectures about the same.

A few miles along a stony and gradually descending trail, and we are
making our way across the usual chequered area of desert, patches,
abandoned fields, and old irrigating ditches that so often tell the tale
of decay and retrogression in the East. These outlying evidences of
decay, however, soon merge into green fields of wheat and barley, poppy
gardens, and orchards, and flowing ditches; and two hours after obtaining
the first view of Herat finds us camped in a walled apricot garden in the
important village of Rosebagh (?).

Overtopping our camping ground are a pair of dilapidated brick minarets,
attached to what Kiftan Sahib calls the Jami Mesjid, and which he
furthermore volunteers was erected by Ghengis Khan. The minarets are of
circular form, and one is broken off fifteen feet shorter than its
neighbor. In the days of their glory they were mosaicked with blue, green
and yellow glazed tiles; but nothing now remains but a few
mournful-looking patches of blue, surviving the ravages of time and
decay. Pigeons have from time to time deposited grains of barley on the
dome, and finding sustenance from the gathered dirt and the falling
rains, they have sprouted and grown, and dotted the grand old mosque with
patches of green vegetation.

One corner of the orchard is occupied by a stable, to the flat roof of
which I betake myself shortly after our arrival to try and ascertain my
bearings, and see something of the village. High walls rise up between
the roofs of the houses and divide one garden from another, so that
precious little opportunity exists for observation immediately around,
and from here not even the tall minarets of Herat are visible.

The adjacent houses are mostly bee-hive roofed, and within the little
gardens attached the soil is evidently rich and productive. Pomegranate,
almond, and apricot trees abound, and produce a charming contrast to the
prevailing crenellated mud walls. A very conspicuous feature of the
village is a cluster of some half-dozen venerable cedars.

The stable roof provides sleeping accommodation for the chief of the
sowars, Kiftan Sahib, and myself, the remainder of the party curl
themselves up beneath the apricot-trees below. During the night one of
the sowars, an old fellow whose morose and sulky disposition has had the
effect of rendering him socially objectionable to his comrades on the
march from Furrah, comes scrambling on the roof, and in loud tones of
complaint addresses himself to Kiftan Sahib's peacefully snoozing
proportions. His midnight eruption consists of some grievance against his
fellows; perhaps some such wanton act of injustice as appropriating his
blanket or stealing his "timbakoo" (tobacco).

The only satisfaction he obtains from his superior takes the form of
angry upbraidings for daring to disturb our slumbers; and, continuing his
complaints, Kiftan. Sahib springs up from beneath his red blanket and
administers several resounding cuffs.

Having meted our this summary interpretation of Afghan petty justice,
Kiftan Sahib resumes his blanket, and the old sowar comes and squats
alongside my own rude couch, and endeavors to heal his wounded spirit by
muttering appeals to Allah. His savage groanings render it impossible for
me to go to sleep, and several times I motion him away; but he affects
not to take any notice.

Determined to drive him away, I rise up hastily as though about to attack
him,--a piece of strategy that causes him to scramble off the roof
far quicker than he climbed on. His fit of rage lasts through the night,
finding vent in mutterings that are heard long after his hurried
departure from my vicinity, and in the morning he is seen perched in a
corner of the wall by himself, still angry and unappeased.

The rising sun ushers in May-day with unmistakable indications of his
growing powers, and when he glares fiercely over the walls of our little
orchard retreat, we find it profitable to crouch in the shade. It is
already evident that I am not to be permitted to enter Herat proper, or
see or learn any more of my surroundings than my keepers can help.

Letters are forwarded to the city immediately upon our arrival, and on
the following morning an officer and several soldiers make their
appearance, to receive me from Kiftan Sahib and duly receipt for my
transfer. The officer announces himself as having once been to Bombay,
and proceeds to question me in a mixture of Persian and Hindostani.

Finding me ignorant of the latter language, he openly accuses me of being
a Russian, raising his finger and wagging his head in a deprecatory
manner. He is a simple-minded individual, however, and open to easy
conviction, and moreover inclined to be amiable and courteous. He tells
me that Faramorz Khan is "Wall of the soldiers" and Niab Alookimah Khan
the "dowleh" (civil governor), and after listening to my explanation of
being English and not Russian, he takes upon himself to deliver salaams
from them both.

"Merg Sahib," the political agent of the Boundary Commission, he says is
at Murghab, and "Ridgeway Sahib" at Maimene. Learning that a courier is
to be sent at once to them with letters in regard to myself, I quickly
embrace the opportunity of sending a letter to each by the same
messenger, explaining the situation, and asking Colonel Ridgeway to try
and render me some assistance in getting through to India.

By request of the officer I send the governor of Herat a sketch of the
bicycle, to enlighten him somewhat concerning its character and
appearance. No doubt, it would be a stretching of his Asiatic dignity as
the governor of an important city, to come to Rosebagh on purpose to see
it for himself, and on no circumstances can I, an unauthorized Ferenghi
invading the country against orders, be permitted to visit Herat.

The transfer having been duly made, I am conducted, a mile or so, to the
garden of a gentleman named Mohammed Ahziin Khan, my quarters there being
an open bungalow just large enough to stretch out in. Here is provided
everything necessary for the rude personal comfort of the country, and
such additional luxuries as raisins and pomegranates are at once brought.
Here, also, I very promptly make the acquaintance of Moore's famous
bul-buls, the "sweet nightingales" of Lalla Eookh. The garden is full of
fruit-trees and grape-vines, and here several pairs of bul-buls make
their home. They are great pets with the Afghans, and when Mohammed Ahzim
Khan calls "bul-bul, bul-bul," they come and alight on the bushes close
by the bungalow and perk their heads knowingly, evidently expecting to be
favored with tid-bits. They are almost tame enough to take raisins out of
the hand, and hesitate not to venture after them when placed close to our
feet. It is the first time I have had the opportunity of a close
examination of the bul-bul. They are almost the counterpart of the
English starling as regards size and shape, but their bodies are of a
mousey hue; the head and throat are black, with little white patches on
either "cheek;" the tail feathers are black, tipped with white, and on
the lower part of the body is a patch of yellow; the feathers of the head
form a crest that almost rises to the dignity of a tassel.

While the bul-bul is a companionable little fellow and possessed of a
cheery voice, his warble in no respects resembles the charming singing of
the nightingale, and why he should be mentioned in connection with the
sweet midnight songster of the English woodlands is something of a
mystery. His song is a mere "clickety click" repeated rapidly several
times. His popularity comes chiefly from his boldness and his
companionable associations with mankind. The bul-bul is as much of a
favorite in the Herat Valley as is robin red-breast in rural England, or
the bobolink in America.

The second day in the garden is remembered as the anniversary of my start
from Liverpool, and I have plenty of time for retrospection. It is
unnecessary to say that the year has been crowded with strange
experiences. Not the least strange of all, perhaps, is my present
predicament as a prisoner in the Herat Valley.

In the afternoon there arrives from Herat a Peshawari gentleman named
Mirza Gholam Ahmed, who is stationed here in the capacity of native agent
for the Indian government. He is an individual possessed of considerable
Asiatic astuteness, and his particular mission is very plainly to
discover for the governor of Herat whether I am English or Russian. He is
a somewhat fleshy, well-favored person, and withal of prepossessing
manners. He introduces himself by shaking hands and telling me his name,
and forthwith indulges in a pinch of snuff preparatory to his task of
interrogation. Accompanying him is the officer who received me from
Kiftan Sahib in the apricot garden, and whose suspicions of my being a
Russian spy are anything but allayed.

During the interview he squats down on the threshold of the little
bungalow, and concentrates his curiosity and suspicion into a protracted
penetrating stare, focused steadily at my devoted countenance. Mohammed
Ahzim Khan imitates him to perfection, except that his stare contains
more curiosity and less suspicion.

Mirza Gholam Ahmed proceeds upon his mission of fathoming the secret of
my nationality with extreme wariness, as becomes an Oriental official
engaged in a task of significant import, and at first confines himself to
the use of Persian and Hindostani. It does not take me long, however, to
satisfy the trustworthy old Peshawari that I am not a Muscov, and fifteen
minutes after his preliminary pinch of snuff, he is unbosoming himself to
me to the extent of letting me know that he served with General Pollock
on the Seistan Boundary Commission, that he went with General Pollock to
London, and moreover rejoices in the titular distinction of C. I. E.
(Companion Indian Empire), bestowed upon him for long and faithful civil
and political services. The C. I. E. he designates, with a pardonable
smile of self-approval, as "backsheesh" given him, without solicitation,
by the government of India; a circumstance that probably appeals to his
Oriental conception as a most extraordinary feature in his favor.
Bribery, favoritism, and personal influence enter so largely into the
preferments and rewards of Oriental governments, that anything obtained
on purely meritorious grounds may well be valued highly.

He understands English sufficiently well to comprehend the meaning of my
remarks and queries, and even knows a few words himself. From him I learn
that I will not be permitted to visit Herat, and that I am to be kept
under guard until Faramorz Khan's courier returns from the Boundary
Commission Camp with Colonel Ridgeway's answer. He tells me that the fame
of the bicycle has long ago been brought to Herat by pilgrims returning
from Meshed, and the marvellous stories of my accomplishments are current
in the bazaars. Fourteen farsakhs (fifty-six miles) an hour, and nothing
said about the condition of the roads, is the average Herati's
understanding of it; and many a grave, turbaned merchant in the bazaar,
and wild warrior on the ramparts, indulges in day-dreams of an iron horse
little less miraculous in its deeds than the winged steed of the air we
read of in the Arabian Nights.

The direct results of Mirza Gholam Ahmed's visit and favorable report to
the Governor of Herat, are made manifest on the following day by the
appearance of his companion of yesterday in charge of two attendants,
bringing me boxes of sweetmeats, almonds, raisins, and salted nuts,
together with a package of tea and a fifteen-pound cone of loaf-sugar;
all backsheesh from the Governor of Herat. Mirza Gholam Ahmed himself
contributes a cake of toilet soap, a few envelopes and sheets of paper,
and Huntley & Palmer's Beading biscuits. Upon stumbling upon these latter
acceptable articles, one naturally falls to wondering whether this
world-famed firm of biscuit-makers suspect that their wares sometimes
penetrate even inside the battlemented walls of Herat. With them come
also three gunsmiths, charged with the duty of assisting in the
reparation of the bicycle, badly damaged by the horse, it is remembered,
on the way from Furrah.

Their implements consist of a pair of peculiar goat-skin bellows,
provided with wooden nozzles tipped with iron. A catgut bowstring drills
for boring holes, and screw-drills for cutting threads, hammers, and an
anvil. A rude but ingenious forge is constructed out of a few handfuls of
stiff mud, and, building a charcoal fire, they spend the evening in
sharpening and tempering drills for tomorrow's operations.

Everybody seems more attentive and anxious to contribute to my pleasure,
the result, evidently, of orders from Herat. The officer, who but two
days ago openly accused me of being a Russian, is to-day obsequious
beyond measure, and his efforts to atone for Ma openly assured suspicions
are really quite painful and embarrassing; even going the length of
begging me to take him with me to London. The supper provided to-day
consists of more courses and is better cooked and better served; Mohammed
Ahzim Khan himself squats before me, diligently engaged in picking hairs
out of the butter, pointing out what he considers the choicest morsels,
and otherwise betrays great anxiety to do the agreeable.

The whole of the fifth and sixth days are consumed in the task of
repairing the damages to the bicycle, the result being highly
satisfactory, considering everything. Six new spokes that I have with me
have been inserted, and sundry others stretched and the ends newly
threaded. The gunsmiths are quite expert workmen, considering the tools
they have to work with, and when they happen to drill a hole a trifle
crooked, they are full of apologies, and remind me that this is
Afghanistan and not Frangistan. They know and appreciate good material
when they see it, and during the process of heating and stretching the
spokes, loud and profuse are the praises bestowed upon the quality of the
iron. "Koob awhan," they say, "Khylie koob awhan; Ferenghi awhan koob."
As artisans, interested in mechanical affairs, the ball-bearings of the
pedals, one of which I take apart to show them, excites their profound
admiration as evidence of the marvellous skill of the Ferenghis. Much
careful work is required to spring the rim of the wheel back into a true
circle, every spoke having to be loosened and the whole wheel newly
adjusted. Except for the handy little spoke-vice which I very fortunately
brought with me, this work of adjustment would have been impossible. As
there is probably nothing obtainable in Herat that would have answered
the purpose, no alternative would have been left but to have carried the
bicycle out of the country on horseback. After the coterie of gunsmiths
have exhausted their ingenuity and my own resources have been expended,
three spokes are missing entirely, two others are stretched and weakened,
and of the six new ones some are forced into holes partially spoiled in
the unskillful boring out of broken ends. Yet, with all these defects, so
thoroughly has it stood the severest tests of the roads, that I apprehend
little or no trouble about breakages.

Day after day passes wearily along; wearily, notwithstanding the kindly
efforts of my guardians to make things pleasant and comfortable. From an
Asiatic's standpoint, nothing could be more desirable than my present
circumstances; with nothing to do but lay around and be waited on,
generous meals three times daily, sweetmeats to nibble and tea to drink
the whole livelong day; conscious of requiring rest and generous diet--all
this, however, is anything but satisfactory in view of the reflection
that the fine spring weather is rapidly passing away, and that every day
ought to see me forty or fifty miles nearer the Pacific Coast.

Time hangs heavily in the absence of occupation, and I endeavor to
relieve the tedium of slowly creeping time by cultivating the friendship
of our new-found acquaintances, the bul-buls. My bountiful supply of
raisins provides the elements of a genuine bond of sympathy between us,
and places us on the most friendly terms imaginable from the beginning.
During the day my bungalow is infested with swarms of huge robber ants,
that make a most determined onslaught on the raisins and sweetmeats,
invading the boxes and lugging them off to their haunts among the
grape-vines. A favorite occupation of the bul-buls is sitting on a twig
just outside the bungalow and watching for the appearance of these ants
dragging away raisins. The bul-bul hops to the ground, seizes the raisin,
shakes the ant loose, flies back up in his tree, and swallows the
captured raisin, and immediately perks his head in search of another
prize.

Among other ideas intended to contribute to my enjoyment, a loud-voiced
pee-wit imprisoned in a crape cage is brought and hung up outside the
bungalow. At intervals that seem almost as regular as the striking of a
clock, this interesting pet stretches itself up at full length and gives
utterance to a succession of rasping cries, strangely loud for so small a
creature. A horse is likewise brought into the garden, for the pleasure
it will presumably afford me to watch it munch bunches of pulled grass,
and switch horseflies away with his tail. The horse is tied up about
twenty yards from my quarters, but in his laudable zeal to cater to my
amusement Mohammed Ahzim Khan volunteers to station it close by if more
agreeable.

All these trifling occurrences serve to illustrate the Asiatic's idea of
personal enjoyment.

Every day a subordinate called Abdur Rahman Khan rides into Herat to
report to the Governor, and Mohammed Ahzim Khan himself keeps watch and
ward over my person with faithful vigil. Sometimes I wander about the
little garden for exercise, and either he or one of his assistants
follows close behind, faithful in their attendance as a shadow.
Occasionally I grow careless and indifferent about possible danger, and
leave my revolver hanging up in the bungalow; noticing its absence, he
bids me buckle it around me, saying warningly, "Afghanistan;
Afghanistan;" he also watches me retire at night to make sure that I put
it under my pillow.

One day, a visitor appears upon the scene, carrying a walking-cane.
Mohammed Ahzim Khan pounces upon him instantly and I grabbing the stick,
examines it closely, evidently suspicious lest it should be a
sword-stick. He is the most persistent "gazer" I have yet met in Asia;
hour after hour he squats on his hams at my feet and stares intently into
my face, as though trying hard to read my inmost thoughts. Oriental-like,
he is fascinated by the mystery of my appearance here, and there is no
such thing as shaking off his silent, wondering gaze for a minute. He is
on hand promptly in the morning to watch my rude matinual toilet, and he
always watches me retire for the night. Even when I betake myself to a
retired part of the garden in the dusk of evening to take a sluice-bath
with a bucket of water, his white-robed figure is always loitering near.

Four men are stationed about my bungalow at night; their respective
armaments vary from a Martini-Henry rifle attached to a picturesque
Asiatic stock, owned by Abdur Rahman Khan, to an immense knobbed cudgel
wielded by a titleless youth named Osman.

Osman's sole wardrobe consists of a coarse night-shirt style of garment,
that in the early part of its career was probably white, but which is now
neither white nor equal to the task of protecting him from the
penetrating rays of the summer sun. His occupation appears to be that of
all-round utility man for whomsoever cares to order him about. Osman has
to bring water and pour it on my hands whenever I want to wash, hie him
away to the bazaar to search for dates or anything my epicurean taste
demands in addition to what is provided, feed the horse, change the
position of the pee-wit to keep it in the shade, sweep out my bungalow,
and perform all sorts of menial offices. Every noble loafer about my
person seems anxious to have Osman continually employed in contributing
to my comfort; Mohammed Ahzim Khan even deprecates the independence
displayed in lacing up my own shoes. "Osman," he says, "let Osman do it."

Osman's chief characteristic is a reckless disregard for the
conventionalities of social life and religion; he never seems to bother
himself about either washing his person or saying his prayers. Somewhere,
not far away, every evening the faithful are summoned to prayer by a
muezzin with the most musical and pathetic voice I have heard in all
Islam. The voice of this muezzin calling "Allah-il-A-l-l-a-h," as it
comes floating over the houses and gardens in the calm silence of the
summer evenings, is wonderfully impressive. From the pulpits of all
Christendom I have yet to hear an utterance so full of pathos and
supplication, or that carries with it the impressions of such deep
sincerity as the "Allah-il-A-l-l-a-h" of this Afghan muezzin in the Herat
Valley. It is a supplication to the throne of grace that rings in my ears
even as I write, months after, and it touches the hearts of every Afghan
within hearing and taps the fountain of their piety like magic. It calls
forth responsive prayers and pious sighings from everybody around my
bungalow--everybody except Osman. Osman can scarcely be called
imperturbable, for he has his daily and hourly moods, and is of varying
temper; but he carries himself always as though conscious of being an
outcast, whom nothing can either elevate or defile. When his fellow
Mussulmans are piously prostrating themselves and uttering religious
sighs sincere as fanaticism can make them, Osman is either curled up
beneath a pomegranate bush asleep, feeding the horse, or attending to the
pee-wit.

Observing this, I often wonder whether he is considered, or considers
himself, too small a potato in this world to hope for any attention from
the Prophet in the next. The paradise of the Mohammedans, its shady
groves, marble fountains, walled gardens, and cool retreats, its kara
ghuz kiz and wealth of material pleasures, no doubt seem to poor Osman,
with his one tattered garment and unhappy servility, far beyond the
aspirations of such as he. Like the gutter-snipe of London or New York
who gazes into the brilliant shop windows, he feels privileged to feast
his imagination, perchance, but that is all.

Big bouquets of roses are gathered for me every morning, and when the
store in our own little garden is exhausted they are procured from
somewhere else. The efforts of those about me to render my forced
detention as pleasant as possible is very gratifying, and all the time I
am buoyed up by the hope that the Boundary Commissioners will be able to
do something to help me get through to India.

The Boundary Commission camp is stationed over two hundred miles from
Herat; eight days roll wearily by and my movements are still carefully
confined to the little garden, and my person attended by guards day and
night. Every day I amuse myself with giving raisins to the robber ants,
for the sake of seeing the ever-watchful bul-buls pounce upon them and
rob them. Morning and evening the imprisoned pee-wit awakens the echoes
with his ratchetty call, and every sunset is commemorated by the
sincerely plaintive utterances of the muezzin mentioned above.

Thus the days of my detention pass away, until the ninth day after my
arrival here. On the evening of May 8th, the officer who first
interviewed me in the apricot orchard comes to my bungalow, and brings
salaams from Faramorz Khan. He and Mohammed Ahzim Khan, after a brief
discussion between themselves, commence telling me, in the same
roundabout manner as the blue-gowned Khan at Furrah, that the Ameer at
Cabool has no control over the fanatical nomads of Zemindavar. Mohammed
Ahzim Khan draws his finger across his throat, and the officer repeats
"Afghan badmash, badmash, b-a-d-m-a-s-h." (desperado).

This parrot-like repetition is uttered in accents so pleaful, and is,
withal, accompanied by such a searching stare into my face, that its
comicality for the minute overcomes any sense of disappointment at the
fall of my hopes. For my experience at Furrah teaches me that this is
really the object of their visit.

Another ingenious argument of these polite and, after a certain childish
fashion, astute Asiatics, is a direct appeal to my magnaminity. "We know
you are brave, and to accomplish your object would even allow the
Ghilzais to cut your throat; but the Wali begs you to sacrifice yourself
for the reputation of his country, by keeping out of danger," they plead.
"If you get killed, Afghanistan will get a bad name."

They are in dead earnest about converting me by argument and pleadings to
their view of the case. I point out that, so far as the reputation of
Afghanistan is concerned, there can be little difference between
forbidding travellers to go through for fear of their getting murdered,
and their actual killing. I remind them, too, that I am a "nokshi," and
can let the people of Frangistan understand this if I am turned back.

These arguments, of course, avail me nothing; the upshot of instructions
received from the Boundary Commission camp, is that I am to be conducted
at once back into Persia.

Horses have to be shod, and all sorts of preparations made next morning,
and it is near about noon before we are ready to start. Our destination
is the Persian frontier village of Karize, about one hundred miles to the
west. Everything is finally ready; when it transpires that Mohammed Ahzim
Khan's orders are to put me on a horse and carry the bicycle on another.
This programme I utterly refuse to sanction, knowing only too well what
the result is likely to be to the bicycle. In defence of the arrangement,
Mohammed Ahzim Khan argues that, as the bicycle goes fourteen farsakhs an
hour, the horses will not be able to keep up; and strict orders are
issued from Herat that I am not to separate myself from my escort while
on Afghan territory.

Off posts Abdur Kahman Khan, hot haste to Herat, to report the difficulty
to the Governor, while we return to the garden. It being too late in the
day when he returns, our departure is postponed till morning, and Osman,
with his knobbed stick, performs the office of nocturnal guard yet once
again.

During the evening Mohammed Ahzim Khan unearths from somewhere a couple
of photographs of English ladies. These, he tells me, came into his
possession from one of Ayoob Khan's fugitive warriors after their
dispersion in the Herat Valley, on their flight before General Roberts'
command at Kandahar. They were among the effects gathered up by Ayoob
Khan's plundering crew from the disastrous field of Maiwand.



CHAPTER XII.
TAKEN BACK TO PERSIA.

The Governor of Herat sends "khylie salaams" and permission for me to
ride the bicycle, stipulating that I keep near the escort. So, with many
an injunction to me about dasht-adam, kooh, dagh, etc., by way of warning
me against venturing too far ahead, we bid farewell to the garden, with
its strange associations, in the early morning. Beside Mohammed Ahzim
Khan and myself are three sowars, mounted on splendid horses.

The morning is bright and cheerful, and shortly after starting the animal
spirits of the sowars find vent in song. I have been laboring under the
impression that, for soul-harrowing vocal effort, the wild-eyed sowars of
Khorassan, as exemplified in my escort from Beerjand, were entitled to
the worst execrations of a discriminating Ferenghi, but the Afghans can
go them one better. If it is possible to imagine anything in the whole
world of sound more jarring and discordant than the united efforts of
these Afghan sowars, I have never yet discovered it. Out of pure
consideration and courtesy, I endure it for some little time; but they
finally reach a high-searching key that is positively unendurable, and I
am compelled in sheer self-protection to beg the khan to suppress their
exuberance. "These men are not bul-buls; then why do they sing?" is all
that is necessary for me to say. They all laugh heartily at the remark,
and the khan orders them to sing no more. Over a country that consists
chiefly of trailless hills and intervening strips of desert, we wend our
weary way, the bicycle often proving more of a drag than a benefit. The
weather gets insufferably hot; in places the rocks fairly shimmer with
heat, and are so hot that one can scarce hold the hand to them. We camp
for the first night at a village, and on the second at an umbar that
suggests our approach to Persia, and in the morning we make an early
start with the object of reaching Karize before evening.

The day grows warm apace, and, at ten miles, the khan calls a halt for
the discussion of what simple refreshments we have with us. Our larder
embraces dry bread and cold goat-meat and a few handfuls of raisins. It
ought also to include water in the leathern bottle swinging from the
stirrup of one of the sowars; but when we halt, it is to discover that
this worthy has forgotten to fill his bottle. The way has been heavy for
a bicycle, trundling wearily through sand mainly, with no riding to speak
of; and young as is the day, I am well-nigh overcome with thirst and
weariness. I am too thirsty to eat, and, miserably tired and disgusted,
one gets an instructive lesson in the control of the mind over the body.
Much of my fatigue comes of low spirits, born of disappointment at being
conducted back into Persia.

One of the sowars is despatched ahead to fill his bottle with water at a
well known to be some five miles farther ahead, and to meet us with it on
the way. On through the sand and heat we plod wearily, myself almost sick
with thirst, fatigue, and disgust. Mohammed Ahzim Khan, observing my
wretched condition, insists upon me letting one of the sowars try his
hand at trundling the wheel, while I rest myself by riding his horse.
Both the sowars bravely try their best to relieve me, but they cut
ridiculous figures, toppling over every little while. At length one of
them upsets the bicycle into a little gully, and falling on it, snaps
asunder two spokes. The khan gives him a good tongue-lashing for his
carelessness; but one can hardly blame the fellow, and I take it under my
own protection again, before it goes farther and fares worse.

About 2 p.m. the sowar sent forward meets us with water; but it is almost
undrinkable. Far better luck awaits us, however, farther along. Sighting
an Eimuck camel-rider in the distance, one of the sowars gives chase and
halts him until we can come up. Slung across his camel he has a skin of
doke, the most welcome thing one can wish for under the circumstances.
Everybody helps himself liberally of the refreshing beverage, shrinking
the Eimuck's supply very perceptibly. The Eimuck joins heartily with our
party in laughing at the altered contour of the pliant skin, as pointed
out jocularly by Mohammed Ahzim Khan, bids us "salaam aleykum," and
pursues his way across country.

During the afternoon we cross several well-worn trails; though evidently
but little used of late, they have seen much travel. My escort explains
that they are daman trails, in other words the trails worn by Turkoman
raiders passing back and forth on their man-stealing expeditions, before
their subjugation by the Russians.

By and by we emerge from a belt of low hills, and descend into a broad,
level plain. A few miles off to the right can be seen the Heri Rood, its
sinuous course plainly outlined by a dark fringe of jungle. Some miles
ahead the village-fortress of Kafir Kaleh is visible. A horseman comes
galloping across the plain to intercept us. Mohammed Ahzim Khan produces
his written orders concerning my delivery at Karize and reads it to the
new arrival. Thereupon ensues a long explanation, which ends in, our
turning about and following the new-comer across the trailless plain
toward the Heri Rood.

"What's up now?" I wonder; but the only intelligible reply I get in reply
to queries is that we are going to camp in the jungle. Misgivings as to
possible foul play mingle with speculations regarding this person's
mission, as I follow in the wake of the Afghans.

We camp on a plot of rising ground that elevates us above the overflow,
and shortly after our arrival we are visited by a band of nomads who are
hunting through the jungle with greyhounds, Mohammed Ahzim Khan informs
me that both baabs, and palangs (panthers) are to be found along the
Heri Rood.

Luxuriant beds of the green stuff known in the United States as
lamb's-quarter, abound, and I put one of the sowars to gathering some
with the idea of cooking it for supper. None of our party know anything
about its being good to eat, and Mohammed Ahzim Khan shakes his head
vigorously in token of disapproval. A nomad visitor, however,
corroborates my statement about its edibleness, and fills our chief with
wonderment that I should know something in common with an Afghan nomad,
that he, a resident of the country, knows nothing about. By way of
stimulating his wonderment still further, I proceed to call off the names
of the various nomad tribes inhabiting Afghanistan, together with their
locations.

"Where did you learn all this." he queries, evidently suspicious that I
have been picking up altogether too much information.

"London," I reply.

"London!" he says; "Mashallah! they know everything at London."

The horseman who intercepted us rode away when we camped for the night.
Nothing more was seen of him, and at a late hour I turn in for the night
--if one can be said to turn in, when the process takes the form of
stretching one's self out on the open ground. No explanation of our
detention here has been given me during the evening, and as I lay down to
sleep all sorts of speculations are indulged in, varying from having my
throat cut before morning, to a reconsideration by the authorities of the
orders sending me back to Persia.

Some time in the night I am awakened. A strange horseman has arrived in
camp with a letter for me. He wears the uniform of a military courier.
The sowars make a blaze of brushwood for me to read by. It is a letter
from Mr. Merk, the political agent of the Boundary Commission. It is a
long letter, full of considerate language, but no instructions affecting
the orders of my escort. Mr. Merk explains why Mahmoud Yusuph Khan could
not take the responsibility of allowing me to proceed to Kandahar. The
population of Zemindavar, he points out, are particularly fanatical and
turbulent, and I should very probably have been murdered; etc.

The march toward Karize is resumed in good season in the morning. "What
was that? a cuckoo?" At first I can scarcely believe my own senses, the
idea of cuckoos calling in the jungles of Afghanistan being about the
last thing I should have expected to hear, never having read of
travellers hearing them anywhere in Central Asia, nor yet having heard
them myself before. But there is no mistake; for ere we pass Kafir Kaleh,
I hear the familiar notes again and again.

The road is a decided improvement over anything we have struck since
leaving Herat, and by noon we arrive at Karize. For some inexplicable
reason the Sooltan of Karize receives our party with very ill grace. He
looks sick, and is probably suffering from fever, which may account for
the evident sourness of his disposition.

Mohammed Ahzim Khan is anything but pleased at our reception, and as soon
as he receives the receipt for my delivery makes his preparations to
return. I don't think the Sooltan even tendered my escort a feed of grain
for their horses, a piece of inhospitality wholly out of place in this
wild country.

As for myself, he simply orders a villager to supply me with food and
quarters, and charge me for it. Mohammed Ahzim Khan comes to my quarters
to bid me good-by, and he takes the opportunity to explain "this is Iran,
not Afghanistan. Iran, pool; Afghanistan, pool neis." There is no need of
explanation, however; the people rubbing their fingers eagerly together
and crying, "pool, pool," when I ask for something to eat, tells me
plainer than any explanations that I am back again among our pool-loving
friends, the subjects of the Shah. As I bid Mohammed Ahzim Khan farewell,
I feel almost like parting--from a friend; he is a good fellow, and
with nine-tenths of his inquisitiveness suppressed, would make a very
agreeable companion.

And so, here I am within a hundred and sixty miles of Meshed again. More
than a month has flown past since I last looked back upon its golden
dome; it has been an eventful month. My experiences have been exceptional
and instructive, but I ought now to be enjoying the comforts of the
English camp at Quetta, instead of halting overnight in the mud huts of
the surly Sooltan of Karize.

The female portion of Karize society make no pretence of covering up
their faces, which impresses me the more as I have seen precious little
of female faces since entering Afghanistan. All the women of Karize are
ugly; a fact that I attribute to the handsomest specimens being carried
off to Bokhara, for decades past, by the Turkomans. The people that
assemble to gaze upon me are the same sore-eyed crowd that characterizes
most Persian villages; and among them is one man totally blind. The loss
of sight has not dimmed his inquisitiveness any, however; nothing could
do that, and he gets someone to lead him into my room, where he makes an
exhaustive examination of the bicycle with his hands.

A village luti entertains me during the evening with a dancing deer; a
comical affair of wood, made to dance on a table by jerking a string. The
luti plays a sort of "whangadoodle" tune on a guitar, and manipulates the
string so as to make the deer keep time to the tune. He tells me he
obtained it from Hindostan.

Among the wiseacres gathered around me plying questions, is one who asks,
"Chand menzils inja to London?" He wants to know how many marches, or
stopping-places, there are between Karize and London. This is a fair
illustration of what these people think the world is like. His idea of a
journey from here to London is that of stages across a desert country
like Persia from one caravanserai to another; beyond that conception
these people know nothing. London, they think, would be some such place
as Herat or Meshed.

At the hour of my departure from Karize, on the following morning, a
little old man presents himself, and wants me to employ him as an escort.
The old fellow is a shrivelled-up little bit of a man, whom I could
well-nigh hold out at arm's length and lift up with one hand. Not feeling
the need of either guide or guard particularly, I decline the old
fellow's services "with thanks," and push on; happy, in fact, to find
myself once more untrammelled by native company.

Small towers of refuge, dotting the plain thickly about Karize, tell of
past depredations by the Turkomans. An outlying village like Karize must,
indeed, have had a hard struggle for existence; right in the heart of the
daman country, too. For miles the plain is found to be grassy as the
Western prairies; an innovation from the dreary gray of the camel-thorn
dasht that is quite refreshing. A stream or two has to be forded, and
many Afghans are met returning from pilgrimage to Meshed.

The village of Torbet-i-Sheikh Jahm is reached at noon, a pleasant town
containing many shade-trees. Here, I find, resides Ab-durrahzaak Khan, a
sub-agent of Mirza Abbas Khan, and consequently a servant of the Indian
Government. He is one of the frontier agents, whose duty it is to keep
track of events in a certain section of country and report periodically
to headquarters. He, of course, receives me hospitably, does the
agreeable with tea and kalians, and provides substantial refreshments.
The soothing Shi-razi tobacco provided with his kalians, and the
excellent quality of his tea, provoke me to make comparison between them
and the wretched productions of Afghanistan. Abdurrahzaak laughs
good-humoredly at my remark, and replies, "Mashallah! there is nothing
good in Afghanistan." He isn't far from right; and the English officer
who named the products of Afghanistan as "stones and fighting men" came
equally near the truth.

Fair roads prevail for some distance after leaving Torbet-i-Sheikh Jahm;
a halt is made at an Eliaute camp to refresh myself with a bowl of doke.
A picturesque dervish emerges from one of the tents and presents his
alms-receiver, with "huk yah huk." Both man and voice seem familiar, and
after a moment I recognize him as a familiar figure upon the streets of
Teheran last winter. He says he is going to Cabool and Kandahar. A unique
feature of his makeup is a staff with a bayonet fixed on the end, in
place of the usual club or battle-axe.

The night is spent in an Eliaute camp; nummuds seem scarce articles with
them, and I spend a cold and uncomfortable night, scarcely sleeping a
wink. The camp is not far from the village of Mahmoudabad, and a rowdy
gang of ryots come over to camp in the middle of the night, having heard
of my arrival.

From Mahmoudabad the road follows up a narrow valley with a range of
hills running parallel on either hand. The southern range are quite
respectable mountains, with lingering patches of snow, and--can it
be possible!--even a few scattering pines. Pines, and, for that
matter, trees of any kind, are so scarce in this country that one can
hardly believe the evidence of his own eyes when he sees them.

On past the village of Karizeno my road leads, passing through a hard,
gravelly country, the surface generally affording fair riding except for
a narrow belt of sand-hills. At Karizeno, a glimpse is obtained of our
old acquaintances the Elburz Mountains, near Shah-riffabad. They are
observed to be somewhat snow-crowned still, though to a measurably less
extent than they were when we last viewed them on the road to Torbeti.

The approach of evening brings my day's ride to a close at Furriman, a
village of considerable size, partially protected by a wall and moat,
Stared at by the assembled population, and enduring their eager gabble
all the evening, and then a nummud on the roof of a villager's house till
morning. The night is cold, and sleeplessness, with shivering body, again
rewards me for a long, hard day's journey. But now it is but about six
farsakhs to Meshed, where, "Inshallah," a good bed and all kindred
comforts await me beneath Mr. Gray's hospitable roof. Ere the forenoon is
passed the familiar gold dome once again appears as a glowing yellow
beacon, beckoning me across the Meshed plain.

A camel runs away and unseats his rider in deference to his timidity at
my strange appearance as I bowl briskly across the Meshed plain at noon.
By one o'clock I am circling around the moat of the city, and by two am
snugly ensconced in my old quarters, relating the adventures of the last
five weeks to Gray, and receiving from him in exchange the latest scraps
of European news. I have made the one hundred and sixty miles from Karize
in two days and a half--not a bad showing with a bicycle that has
been tinkered up by Herati gunsmiths.

Among other interesting items of news, it is learned that a hopeful
Meshedi blacksmith has been inspired to try his "prentice hand" at making
a bicycle. One would like to have seen that bicycle, but somehow I didn't
get an opportunity. Friendly telegrams reach me from Teheran, and also
another order from the British Legation, instructing me not to attempt
Afghanistan again.

Since my departure from Meshed, southward bound, another wandering
correspondent has invaded the Holy City. Mr. E------, "special" of a
great London daily paper, whom I had the pleasure of meeting once or
twice in Teheran, has come eastward in an effort to enter Afghanistan.
He has been halted by peremptory orders at Meshed. Disgusted with his
ill-luck at not being permitted to carry out his plans, he is on the eve
of returning to Constantinople. As I am heading for the same point
myself, we arrange to travel there in company. Being somewhat under the
weather from a recent attack of fever, he has contracted for a Russian
fourgon to carry him as far as Shahrood, the farthest point on our route
to which vehicular conveyance is practicable. Our purpose is to reach the
Caspian port of Bunder Guz, thence embark on a Russian steamer to Baku,
over the Caucasus Railway to Batoum, thence by Black Sea steamer to
Constantinople.

On the afternoon of May 18th, R------makes a start with
the fourgon. It is a custom (unalterable as the laws of, etc.) with all
Persians starting on a journey of any length to go a short distance only
for the first stage. The object of this is probably to find out by actual
experience on the road whether anything has been forgotten or overlooked,
before they get too far away to return and rectify the mistake.
Semi-civilized peoples are wedded very strongly to the customs in vogue
among them, and the European traveller finds himself compelled, more or
less, to submit to them. My intention is to overtake the fourgon the
following day at Shahriffabad.

Accordingly, soon after sunrise on the morrow, the road around the outer
moat of Meshed is circled once again. A middle-aged descendant of the
Prophet, riding a graceful dapple-gray mare, spurs his steed into a
swinging gallop for about five miles across the level plain in an effort
to bear me company. Three miles farther, and for miles over the steep and
unridable gradients of the Shah-riffabad hills, I may anticipate the
delights of having his horse's nose at my shoulder, and my heels in
constant jeopardy. To avoid this, I spurt ahead, and ere long have the
satisfaction of seeing him give it up.

In the foothills I encounter, for the first time, one of those
characteristics of Mohammedan countries, and more especially of Persia, a
caravan of the dead. Thousands of bodies are carried every year, on
horseback or on camels, from various parts of Persia, to be buried in
holy ground at Meshed, Kerbella, or Mecca. The corpses are bound about
with canvas, and slung, like bales of merchandise, one on either side of
the horse. The stench from one of these corpse-caravans is something
fearful, nothing more nor less than the horrible stench of putrid human
bodies. And yet the drivers seem to mind it very little indeed. One stout
horse in the party I meet this morning carries two corpses; and in the
saddle between them rides a woman. "Mashallah." perchance those very
bodies, between which she sits perched so indifferently, are the remains
of small-pox victims. But, what cares the woman?--is she not a
Mohammedan, and a female one at that?--and does she not believe in
kismet. What cares she for Ferenghi "sanitary fads?"--if it is her
kismet to take the small-pox, she will take it; if it is her kismet not
to, she won't. One would think, however, that common sense and common
prudence would instruct these people to imitate the excellent example of
the Chinese, in taking measures to dispose of the flesh before
transporting the bones to distant burial-places. Many of the epidemics of
disease that decimate the populations of Eastern countries, and sometimes
travel into the West, originate from these abominable caravans of the
dead and kindred irrationalities of the illogical and childlike Oriental.

As the golden dome of Imam Riza's sanctuary glimmers upon my retreating
figure yet a fourth time as I reach the summit of the hill whence we
first beheld it, I breathe a silent hope that I may never set eyes on it
again. The fourgon is overtaken, as agreed upon, at Shahriffabad, and
after an hour's halt we conclude to continue on to the caravanserai,
where, it will be remembered, my friend the hadji and Mazanderan dervish
and myself found shelter from the blizzard.

B___'s Turkish servant, Abdul, a handy fellow, speaking three or four
languages, and numbering, among other accomplishments, the knack of
always having on hand plenty of cold chicken and mutton, is a vast
improvement upon obtaining food direct from the villagers. Resting here
till 2 a.m., we make a moonlight march to Gadamgah, arriving there for
breakfast. The trail is a revelation of smoothness, in comparison to my
expectations, based upon its condition a few weeks ago. The moon is about
full, and gives a light as it only does in Persia, and one can see to
ride the parallel camel-paths very successfully.

Persians are very much given to night-travelling, and as I ride well
ahead of the fourgon, the strange, weird object, gliding noiselessly
along through the moonlight, fills many a superstitious pilgrim with
misgivings that he has caught a glimpse of Sheitan. I can hear them
rapidly muttering "Allah." as they edge off the road and hurry along on
their way.

Many Arabs from the Lower Euphrates valley are now mingled with the
pilgrim throngs en route to Meshed. They are evil-looking customers,
black as negroes almost; they look capable of any atrocity under the sun.
These Arab pilgrims are hadjis almost to a man, coming, as they do, from
much nearer Mecca than the Persians; but their holiness does not prevent
them bearing the unenviable reputation of being the most persistent
thieves. Abdul knows them well, and when any of them are about, keeps a
sharp lookout to see that none of them approach our things.

On the following evening, at a caravanserai near Nishapoor, we meet and
spend the night with a French scientific party of three sent out by the
Paris Geographical Society to make geographical and geological researches
in Turkestan. The three Frenchmen are excellent company; they entertain
us with European news, their views on the political aspect, and of
incidents on their fourgon journey from Tiflis. Among their charvadars is
a man who saw me last autumn at Ovahjik.

Much good riding surface prevails, and we pass the night of the 21st at
Lafaram. The crowds that everywhere gather about us are very annoying to
K------, whose fever and consequent weakness is hardly calculated to
sweeten his temper under trying circumstances. A whole swarm of women
gather to stare at us at Lafaram. "I'll soon scatter them, anyway," says
R------; and he reaches for a pair of binoculars hanging up in the
fourgon. Adjusting them to his eyes, he levels them at the bunch of
females, expecting to see them scatter like a flock of partridges.
Scattering is evidently about the last thing the women are thinking of
doing, however; they merely turn their attention to the binoculars and
concentrate their comments upon them instead of on other of our effects,
for the moment, but that is all.

In the vicinity of Subzowar we find the people engaged in harvesting the
crop of opium. The way they do it is to go through the fields of poppy
every morning and scarify the green heads with a knife-blade notched for
the purpose, like a saw. During the day the milky juice oozes out and
solidifies. In the evening the harvesters pass through the fields again,
scrape off the exuded opium, and collect it in vessels. This, after the
watery substance has been worked out with frequent kneadings and drying,
is the opium of commerce. The chief opium emporium of Persia is Shiraz,
where buyers ship it by camel-caravan to Bushire for export. Persian
opium commands the topmost prices in foreign markets.

Here every idler about the villages seems to be amusing himself by
working a ball of opium about in his hands, much as a boy delights in
handling a chunk of putty. Lumps as large as the fist are freely offered
me by friendly people, as they would hand one a piece of bread or a
pomegranate; I might collect pounds of the stuff by simply taking what is
offered me without the asking.

In the caravanserai at Miandasht, Abdul's failure to appreciate our
whilom and egotistical friend, the la-de-da telegraph-jee, at his own
valuation comes near resulting in a serious fracas. One of Abdul's most
valued services is keeping at a respectful distance the crowds of
villagers that invariably swarm about us when we halt. In doing this he
sometimes flogs about him pretty lively with the whip. As a general thing
the natives take this sort of thing in the greatest good humor; in fact,
rather enjoy it than otherwise.

At Miandasht, however, Abdul's whip happens to fall rather heavily upon
the shoulders of the telegraph-jee's farrash, who is in the crowd. This
individual, reflecting something of his master's self-esteem, takes
exceptions to this, and complains, with the customary Persian
elaboration, no doubt, to the consequential head of the place. The
consequence is that a gang of villagers, headed by the telegraph-jee
himself, gather around, and suddenly attack poor Abdul with clubs. Except
for the prompt assistance of R------and myself, he would
have been mauled pretty severely. As it is, he gets bruised up rather
badly; though he inflicts almost as much damage as he receives, with a
hatchet hastily grabbed from the fourgon. The fact of his being a Turk,
whom the Persians consider far less holy than themselves, Abdul explains,
accounts for the attack on him as much as anything else.

A new surprise awaits us at Mijamid, something that we are totally
unprepared for. As we reach the chapar-khana there, a voice from the roof
greets us with "Sprechen sie Deutsch." Looking up in astonishment, we
behold Colonel G------, a German officer in the Shah's army, whom both of
us are familiarly acquainted with by sight, from seeing him so often at
the morning reviews in the military maiden at Teheran. But this is not
all, for with him are his wife and daughter. This is the first time
European ladies have traversed the Meshed-Teheran road, Teheran being the
farthest point eastward in Persia that lady travellers have heretofore
penetrated to. Colonel G has been appointed to the staff of the new
Governor-General of Khorassan, and is on his way to Meshed. The
appearance of Ferenghi ladies in the Holy City will be an innovation that
will fairly eclipse the introduction of the bicycle. All Meshed will be
wild with curiosity, and the poor ladies will never be able to venture
into the streets without disguise.

There is furor enough over them in Mijamid; the whole population is
assembled en masse before the chapar-khana. The combination of the
bicycle, three Ferenghis, and, above all, two Ferenghi ladies, is an
event that will form a red-letter mark in the history of Mijamid for
generations of unborn Persian ryots to talk about and wonder over.

The colonel produces a bottle of excellent Shiraz wine and a box of
Russian cigarettes. The ladies have become sufficiently Orientalized to
number among their accomplishments the smoking of cigarettes. They are
delighted at meeting us, and are already acquainted with the main
circumstances of my misadventure in Afghanistan. Camp-stools are brought
out, and we spend a most pleasant hour together, before continuing on our
opposite courses. The wondering natives are almost speechless with
astonishment at the spectacle of the two ladies sitting out there, faces
all uncovered, smoking cigarettes, sipping claret, and chatting freely
with the men. It is a regular circus-day for these poor, unenlightened
mortals. The ladies are charming, and the charm of female society loses
nothing, the reader may be sure, from one's having been deprived of it
for a matter of months.

The colonel's lingual preference is German, Mrs. G------'s, French, and
the daughter's, English; so that we are quite cosmopolitan in the matter
of speech. All of us know enough Persian to express ourselves in that
language too. In commenting upon my detention by the Afghans, the colonel
characterizes them as "pedar sheitans," Madame as "le diable Afghans,"
and Miss G------as well, "le diable" in plain yet charmingly broken
English.

The next day, soon after noon, we roll into Shahrood, where B------
discharges his fourgon and we engage mules to transport us over the Tash
Pass, a breakneck bridle-trail over the Elburz range to the Asterabad
Plain and the Caspian.

A half-day search by Abdul results in the employment of an outfit
comprising three charvadars, with three mules, a couple of donkeys, and
riding horses for ourselves. A liberal use of the whip by R on the
charvadars' shoulders, awful threats, and sundry other persuasive
arguments, assist very materially in getting started at a decent hour on
the morning following our arrival. The bicycle is taken apart and placed
on top of the mule-packs, where, in remembrance of its former fate under
somewhat similar conditions, I keep it pretty strictly under
surveillance.

The Asterabad trail is a steady ascent from the beginning; and before
many miles are covered, scattering dwarf pines on the, mountains indicate
a change from the utter barrenness that characterizes their southern
aspect. One lone tree of quite respectable dimensions, standing a mile or
so off to our left, suggests a special point of demarcation between utter
barrenness and where a new order of things begins.

Our way leads up fearful rocky paths, where the horses have to be led,
and at times assisted; up, up, until our elevation is nearly ten thousand
feet, and we are among a chaotic wilderness of precipitous rocks and
scrub pines. A false step in some places, and our horses would roll down
among the craggy rocks for hundreds of feet. It is a toilsome march, but
we cross the Tash Pass, camp for the night in a little inter-mountain
valley, beside a stream at the foot of a pine-covered mountain. The
change from the interior plains is already novel and refreshing. Grass
abounds abundance, and the prospect is the greenest I have seen for nine
months. We camp out in the open, and are put to some discomfort by
passing showers in the night.

A march of a dozen miles from this valley over a tortuous mountain trail
brings us into a country the existence of which one could never, by any
stretch of the imagination, dream of in connection with Persia, as one
sees it in its desert-like character south of the mountains. The
transformation is from one extreme of vegetable nature to the other. We
camp for lunch on velvety greensward beneath a grove of oak and cherry
trees. Cuckoos are heard calling round about, singing birds make melody,
and among them we both recognize the cheery clickety-click of my
raisin-loving Herati friends, the bul-buls. Flowers, too, are here at our
feet in abundance, forget-me-nots and other familiar varieties.

The view from our position is remarkably fine, reminding me forcibly of
the Balkans south of Nisch, and of the Californian slopes of the Sierra
Nevadas, where they overlook the Sacramento Valley. The Asterabad Plain
is spread out below us like a vast map.

We can trace the windings and twistings of the various streams, the
tracts of unreclaimed forest, and the cultivated fields. Asterabad and
numerous villages dot the plain, and by taking R------'s
binoculars we can make out, through the vaporous atmosphere, the
shimmering surface of the Caspian Sea. It is one of the most remarkable
views I ever saw, and the novelty and grandeur of it appeals the more
forcibly to one's imagination, no doubt, because of its striking contrast
to what the eyes have from long usage become accustomed to. From dreary,
barren dasht, and stony wastes, to densely wooded mountains,
jungle-covered plains, tall, luxurious tiger-grass, and beyond all this
the shimmering background of the sea is a big change to find but little
more than a day's march apart. We are both captivated by the change, and
agree that the Caspian slope is the only part of Persia fit to look at.

The descent of the northern slope is even steeper than the other side;
but instead of rocks, it is the rich soil of virgin forests. Open parks
are occasionally crossed, and on one of these we find a large camp of
Turcomans, numbering not less than a hundred tents. Mountaineers are
always picturesquely dressed, and so, too, are nomads. When, therefore,
one finds mountaineer nomads, it seems superfluous almost to describe
them as being arrayed chiefly in gewgaws and bright-colored clothes.
Camped here amid the dark, luxurious vegetation, they and their tents
make a charming picture--a scene of life and of contrast in colors which
if faithfully transferred to canvas would be worth a king's ransom.

Down paths of break-neck steepness and slipperiness, our way descends
into a dark region where vegetation runs riot in the shape of fine tall
timber, of a semi-tropical variety. Many of the trees present a fantastic
appearance, by reason of great quantities of hanging moss, that in some
instances fairly load down the weaker branches. Banks of beautiful ferns,
and mossy rocks join with the splendid trees in making our march through
these northern foothills of the Elburz Mountains an experience long to be
remembered.

A curious and interesting comparison that comes under our observation is
that, on the gray plains and rocky mountains of the interior the lizards
are invariably of a dull and uninteresting color, quite in keeping with
their surroundings. No sooner, however, do we find ourselves in a
district where nature's deft hand has painted the whole canvas of the
country a bright green, than the lizards which we see scuttling through
the ferns and moss-beds are also the greenest of all the green things.
These scaly little reptiles shine and glisten like supple shapes of
emerald, as one sees them gliding across the path. This is but another
link in the chain of evidence that seems to prove that animals derive
much of their distinctive character and appearance from the nature of
their surroundings. In Northern China are a species of small monkey with
a quite heavy coat of fur. They are understood to be the descendants of a
comparatively hairless variety which found its way there from the warm
jungles of the South, the change from a warm climate to a cold one being
responsible for the coat of fur. In the same way, after noting the
complete change that has come over the lizards, we conclude that, if a
colony of the gray species from the other side of the mountains were
brought and turned loose among the green foot-hills here, their
descendants, a few generations hence, would be found with coats as green
as those of the natives. This conviction gathers force from the fact that
no gray lizards whatever are encountered here; all the lizards we see are
green.

Emerging from the foot-hills, we find ourselves in a country the general
appearance of which reminds me of a section of Missouri more than
anything I have seen in Asia. Fields and pastures are fenced in with the
same rude corduroy-fences one sees in the Missouri Valley, some well kept
and others neglected. The pastures are blue grass and white clover; bees
are humming and buzzing from flower to flower, and, to make the
similitude complete, one hears the homely tinkle of cow-bells here and
there. It is difficult to realize that all this is in Persia, and that
one has not been transported in some miraculous manner back to the United
States. A little farther out from the base of the mountains, however, and
we come upon wild figs, pomegranates, and other indigenous evidences of
Eastern soil; and by and by our path almost becomes a tunnel, burrowing
through a wealth of tiger-grass twenty feet high. The fields and little
clearings which, a few miles back, were devoted to the cultivation of
wheat and rye, now become rice-fields overflowed from irrigating ditches,
and in which bare-legged men and women are paddling about, over their
knees in mud and water.

Early in the evening we reach the city of Asterabad, which we find
totally different from the sombre, mud-built cities of the interior. The
wall surrounding it is topped with red tiles, and the outer moat is
choked with rank vegetation. The houses are gabled, and roofed with tiles
or heavy thatch, presenting an appearance very suggestive of the
picturesque towns and villages about Strasburg. The streets are narrow
and ill-paved, and neglect and decay everywhere abound. The cemeteries
are a chaotic mass of tumbledown tombstones and vagrant vegetation. Pools
of water covered with green scum, and heaps of filth everywhere, fill the
reeking atmosphere with malaria and breed big clouds of mosquitoes. The
people have a yellowish, waxy complexion that tells its own story of the
unhealthiness of the place, without instituting special inquiry. One can
fairly sniff fever and ague in the streets.

Much taste is displayed in architectural matters by the wealthier
residents. The walls surrounding the little compounds are sometimes
adorned with house-leeks or cactus, tastefully set out along the top;
and, in other cases, with ornamental tiles. The walls of the houses are
decorated with paintings depicting, in bright colors, scenes of the
chase, birds, animals, and mythological subjects.

The charvadars lead the way to a big caravanserai in the heart of the
city. The place is found to be filled with a miscellaneous crowd of
caravan people, travellers, merchants, and dervishes. The serai also
appears to be a custom-house and emporium for wool, cotton, and other
products of the tributary country. Horses, camels, and merchandise crowd
the central court, and rising fifty feet above all this confusion and
babel is a wooden tower known as a tullar. This is a dilapidated
framework of poles that sways visibly in the wind, the uses of which at
first sight it is not easy to determine. Some of the natives motion for
us to take possession of it, however; and we subsequently learn that the
little eyrie-like platform is used as a sleeping-place by travellers of
distinction. The elevation and airiness are supposed to be a safeguard
against the fever and a refuge from the terrible mosquitoes, of which
Asterabad is over-full.

An hour after our arrival, Abdul goes out and discovers a Persian
gentleman named Mahmoud Turki Aghi, who presents himself in the capacity
of British agent here. As we were in ignorance of the presence of any
such official being in Asterabad, he comes as a pleasant surprise, and
still more pleasant comes an invitation to accept his hospitality.

From him we learn that the steamer we expect to take at Bunder Guz, the
port of Asterabad, eight farsakhs distant, will not sail until six days
later. Mindful of the fever, from which he is still a sufferer to an
uncomfortable extent, E------looks a trifle glum at this
announcement, and, after our traps are unpacked at Mahmoud Turki Aghi's,
he ferrets out a book of travels that I had often heard him refer to as
an authority on sundry subjects. Turning over the leaves, he finds a
reference to Bunder Guz, and reads out the story of a certain
"gimlet-tailed fly" that makes life a burden to the unwary traveller who
elects to linger there on the Caspian shore. Between this gimlet-tailed
pest, however, and the mosquitoes of Asterabad we decide that there can
be very little to choose, and so make up our minds to accept our host's
hospitality for a day and then push on.

During the day we call on the Russian consul to get our passports vised.
As between English and Russian prestige, the latter are decidedly to the
fore in Asterabad. The bear has his big paw firmly planted on this
fruitful province--it is more Russian than Persian now; before long it
will be Russian altogether. Nothing is plainer to us than this, as we
reach the Russian Consulate and are introduced by Mahmoud Turki Aghi to
the consul. He is no "native agent." On the contrary, he is one of the
biggest "personages" I have seen anywhere. He is the sort of man that the
Russian Government invariably picks out for its representation at such
important points in Asia as Asterabad.

A six-footer of magnificent physique, with a smooth and polished address,
all smiles and politeness, the Russian consul wears a leonine mustache
that could easily be tied in a knot at the back of his head. Although he
is the only European resident of Asterabad save a few Cossack attendants,
he wears fashionable Parisian clothes, a wealth of watch-chain, rings,
and flash jewellery, patent-leather shoes, and all the accompaniments of
an ostentatious show of wealth and personal magnificence. His rooms are
equally gorgeous, and contain large colored portraits of the Czar and
Czarina.

The intent and purpose of all this display is to fill the minds of the
natives, and particularly the native officials, with an overwhelming
sense of Russian grandeur and power. No Persian can enter the presence of
this Russian consul in his rooms without experiencing a certain measure
of awe and admiration. They regard with covetous eyes the rich and
comfortable appointments of the rooms, and the big gold watch-chains and
rings on the consul's person. They too would like to be in the Russian
service if its rewards are on such a magnificent scale. Of patriotism to
the Shah they know nothing--self-interest is the only master they
willingly serve.

No one knows this better than the Russian consul; and in the case of
influential officials and other useful persons, he sees to it that gold
watches and such-like tokens of the Czar's esteem are not lacking. The
result is that Asterabad, both city and province, is even now more
Russian than Persian, and when the proper time arrives will drop into the
bear's capacious maw like a ripe plum.

At daybreak on the morning of departure the charvadars wake us up by
pounding on the outer gate and shouting "hadji" to Abdul Abdul lets them
in, and the next hour passes in violent and wordy disputation among them
as they load up their horses.

All three have purchased new Asterabad hats, big black busbies much
prized by Persians from beyond the mountains. The acquisition of these
imposing head-dresses has had the effect of increasing their self-esteem
wonderfully. They regard each other with considerable hauteur, and
quarrel almost continually for the first few miles. E puts up with their
angry shouting and quarrelling for awhile, and then chases them around a
little with the long hunting whip he carries. This brings them to their
senses again, and secures a degree of peace; but the inflating effect of
the new hats crops out at intervals all day.

Our road from Asterabad leads through jungle nearly the whole distance to
Bunder Guz. In the woods are clearings consisting of rice-fields,
orchards, and villages. The villages are picturesque clusters of wattle
houses with peaked thatch roofs that descend to within a few feet of the
ground. Groves of English walnut-trees abound, and plenty of these trees
are also scattered through the jungle.

During the day we encounter a gang of professional native hunters hunting
wild boars, of which these woods contain plenty, as well as tigers and
panthers. They are a wild-looking crowd, with long hair, and sleeves
rolled up to their elbows. Big knives are bristling in their kammerbunds,
besides which they are armed with spears and flint-lock muskets. They
make a great deal of noise, shouting and hallooing one to another; one
can tell when they are on a hot trail by the amount of noise they make,
just as you can with a pack of hounds.

We reach our destination by the middle of the afternoon, and find the
place a wretched village, right on the shore of the Caspian. We repair to
the caravanserai, but find the rooms so evil-smelling that we decide upon
camping out and risking the fever rather than court acquaintance with
possible cholera, providing no better place can be found elsewhere. This
serai is a curious place, anyway. All sorts of people, some of them so
peculiarly dressed that none of our party are able to make out their
character or nationality. A dervish is exhorting a crowd of interested
listeners at one end of the court-yard, and a strolling band of lutis are
entertaining an audience at the other end. There are six of these lutis;
while two are performing, four are circulating among the crowd collecting
money. In any other country but Persia, five would have been playing and
one passing the hat.

E------and Abdul go ahead to try and secure better
quarters, and shortly the latter returns, and announces that they have
been successful. So I, and the charvadars, with the horses, follow him
through a crooked street of thatched houses, at the end of which we find
R------seated beneath the veranda of a rude hotel kept by
an Armenian Jew. As we approach I observe that my companion looks happier
than I have seen him look for days. He is pretty thoroughly disgusted
with Persia and everything in it, and this, together with his fever, has
kept him in anything but an amiable frame of mind. But now his face is
actually illumined with a smile.

On the little table before him stand a half-dozen black bottles, imperial
pints, bearing labels inscribed with outlandish Russian words.

"This is civilization, my boy--civilization reached at last," says
E------, as he sees me coming.

"What, this wretched tumble-down hole." I exclaim, waving my hand at the
village.

"No, not that," replies E------; "this--this is civilization," and he
holds up to the light a glass of amber Russian beer.

Apart from Russians, we are the first European travellers that have
touched at Bunder Guz since McGregor was here in 1875. We keep a loose
eye out for the gimlet-tailed flies, but are not harassed by them half so
much as by fleas and the omnipresent mosquito. These two latter insects
have dwindled somewhat from the majestic proportions described by
McGregor; they are large enough and enterprising enough as it is; but
McGregor found one species the size of "cats," and the other "as large as
camels." Bunder Guz is simply a landing and shipping point for Asterabad
and adjacent territory. A good deal of Russian bar iron, petroleum, iron
kettles, etc., are piled up under rude sheds; and wool from the interior
is being baled by Persian Jews, naked to the waist, by means of
hand-presses. Cotton and wool are the chief exports. Of course, the whole
of the trade is in the hands of the Russians, who have driven the
Persians quite off the sea. The Caspian is now nothing more nor less than
a Russian salt-water lake.

The harbor of Bunder Guz is so shallow that one may ride horseback into
the sea for nearly a mile. The steamers have to load and unload at a
floating dock a mile and a half from shore. Very pleasant, in spite of
the wretched hole we are in, is it to find one's self on the seashore
--to see the smoke of a steamer, and the little smacks riding at
anchor.

The day after our arrival, a man comes round and tells Abdul that he has
three fine young Mazanderan tigers he would like to sell the Sahibs. We
send Abdul to investigate, and he returns with the report that a party of
Asterabad tiger-hunters have killed a female tiger and brought in three
cubs. The man comes back with him and impresses upon us the assertion
that they are khylie koob baabs (very splendid tigers), and would be dirt
cheap at three hundred kerans apiece, the price he pretends to want for
them. From this we know that the tigers could be bought very cheap, and
since Mazanderan tigers are very rare in European menageries, we
determine to go and look at them anyway. They are found to be the merest
kittens, not yet old enough to see. They are savage little brutes, and
spend their whole time in dashing recklessly against the bars of the coop
in which they are confined. They refuse to eat or drink, and although the
Persians declare that they would soon learn to feed, we conclude that
they would be altogether too much trouble, even if it were possible to
keep them from dying of starvation.

On the evening of June 3d we put off, together with a number of native
passengers, in a lighter, for the vessel which is loading up with bales
of cotton at the floating dock. Most of the night is spent in sitting on
deck and watching the Persian roustabouts carry the cargo aboard, for the
shouting, the inevitable noisy squabbling, and the thud of bales dumped
into the hold render sleep out of the question.

The steamer starts at sunrise, and the captain comes round to pay his
respects. He is more of a German than a Russian, and seems pleased to
welcome aboard his ship the first English or American passengers he has
had for years. He makes himself agreeable, and takes a good deal of
interest in explaining anything about the burning of petroleum residue on
the Caspian steamers, instead of coal. He takes us down below and shows
us the furnaces, and explains the modus operandi. We are delighted at the
evident superiority of this fuel over coal, and the economy and ease of
supplying the furnaces. Seven copecks the forty pounds, the captain says,
is the cost of the fuel, and two and a half roubles the expense of
running the vessel at full speed an hour. There is not an ounce of coal
aboard, the boiler-house is as clean and neat as a parlor, and no cinders
fall upon the deck or awnings. In place of huge coal-bunkers, taking up
half the vessel's carrying space, compact tanks above the furnaces hold
all the liquid fuel. Pipes convey it automatically, much or little, as
easily as regulating a water-tap, to the fire-boxes. Jets of steam
scatter it broadcast throughout the box in the form of spray, and insures
its spontaneous combustion into flame. A peep in these furnaces displays
a mass of flame filling an iron box in which no fuel is to be seen. A
slight twist of a brass cock increases or diminishes this flame at once.
A couple of men in clean linen uniforms manage the whole business. We
both concluded that it was far superior to coal.

Many windings and tackings are necessary to get outside Ashdurada Bay;
sometimes we are steaming bow on for Bunder Guz, apparently returning to
port; at other times we are going due south, when our destination is
nearly north. This, the captain explains, is due to the intricacy of the
channel, which is little more than a deeper stream, so to speak,
meandering crookedly through the shallows and sand-bars of the bay. Buoys
and sirens mark the steamer's course to the Russian naval station of
Ashdurada. Here we cross a bar so shallow that no vessel of more than
twelve feet draught can enter or leave the bay. Our own ship is a
light-draught steamer of five hundred tons burden.

A little steam-launch puts out from Ashdurada, bringing the mails and
several naval officers bound for Krasnovodsk and Baku. The scenery of the
Mazanderan coast is magnificent. The bold mountains seem to slope quite
down to the shore, and from summit to surf-waves they present one
dark-green mass of forest.

The menu of these Caspian steamers is very good, based on the French
school of cookery rather than English. No early breakfast is provided,
however; breakfast at eleven and dinner at six are the only refreshments
provided by the ship's regular service--anything else has to be paid for
as extras. At eleven o'clock we descend to the dining saloon, where we
find the table spread with caviare, cheese, little raw salt fishes,
pickles, vodka, and the unapproachable bread of Russia. The captain and
passengers are congregated about this table, some sitting, others
standing, and all reaching here and there, everybody helping himself and
eating with his fingers. Now and then each one tosses off a little
tumbler of vodka. We proceed to the table and do our best to imitate the
Russians in their apparent determination to clean off the table. The
edibles before us comprise the elements of a first-class cold luncheon,
and we sit down prepared to do it ample justice. By and by the Russians
leave this table one by one, and betake themselves to another, on the
opposite side of the saloon. As they sit down, waiters come in bearing
smoking hot roasts and vegetables, wine and dessert.

A gleam of intelligence dawns upon my companion as he realizes that we
are making a mistake, and pausing in the act of transferring bread and
caviare to his mouth, he says to me, impressively: "This is only sukuski,
you know, on this table." "Why, of course. Didn't you know that. Your
ignorance surprises me; I thought you knew.". And then we follow the
example of everybody else and pass over to the other side.

The sukuski is taken before the regular meal in Russia. The tidbits and
the vodka are partaken of to prepare and stimulate the appetite for the
regular meal. Not yet, however, are we fully initiated into the mysteries
of the Caspian steamer's service. Wine is flowing freely, and as we seat
ourselves the captain passes down his bottle. Presently I hold my glass
to be refilled by a spectacled naval officer sitting opposite. With a
polite bow he fills it to the brim. The next moment, I happen to catch
the captain's eye, it contains a meaning twinkle of amusement. Heavens!
this is not a French steamer, even if the cookery is somewhat Frenchy;
neither is it a table-d'hote with claret flowing ad libitum. The
ridiculous mistake has been made of taking the captain's polite
hospitality and the liberal display of bottles for the free wine of the
French table-d'hote. The officer with the eyeglasses lands at Tchislikar
in the afternoon, for which I am not sorry.

At Tchislikar we are met by a lighter with several Turcoman passengers.
The sea is pretty rough, and the united efforts of several boatmen are
required to hoist aboard each long-gowned Turcoman, each woman and child.
They are Turcoman traders going to Baku and Tiflis with bales of the
famous kibitka hangings and carpets. Tchislikar is the port whence a few
years ago the Russian expedition set out on their campaign against the
Tekke Turcomans. Three hundred miles inland is the famous fortress of
Geoke Tepe, where disaster overtook the Russians, and where, in a
subsequent campaign, occurred that massacre of women and children which
caused the Western world to wonder anew at the barbarism of the Russian
soldiery.

Still steaming north, our little craft ploughs her way toward
Krasnovodsk, an important military station on the eastern coast.

At night the surface of the sea becomes smooth and glassy, the sun sets,
rotund and red, in a haze suggestive of Indian summer in the West. The
cabins are small and stuffy, so I sleep up on the hurricane-deck,
wrapping a Persian sheepskin overcoat about me. An awning covers this
deck completely, but this does not prevent everything beneath getting
drenched with dew. Never did I see such a fall of dew. It streams off the
big awning like a shower of rain, and soaks through it and drips, drips
on to my recumbent form and everything on the hurricane-deck.

Early in the morning we moor our ship to the dock at Krasnovodsk, and
load and unload merchandise till noon. Here is where railway material for
the Transcaspian railway to Merv is landed, the terminus being at
Michaelovich, near by. We go ashore for a couple of hours and look about.
The inmates of a military convalescent hospital are passing from the
doctor's office to their barracks. They are wearing long dressing-gowns
of gray stuff, with hoods that make them look wonderfully like a lot of
monks arrayed in cowls. A company of infantry are target-practising at
the foot of rocky buttes just outside the town. Not a tree nor a green
thing is visible in the place nor on all the hills around--nothing but the
blue waters of the Caspian and the dull prospect of rude rock buildings
and gray hills.

Except for the sea, and the raggedness and abject servility of the poor
class of people, one might imagine Krasnovodsk some Far Western fort.
Scarcely a female is seen on the streets, soldiers are everywhere, and in
the commercial quarter every other place is a vodka-shop. We visit one of
these and find men in red shirts and cowhide boots playing billiards and
drinking, others drinking and playing cards. Rough and sturdy men they
look--frontiersmen; but there is no spirit, no independence, in
their expression; they look like curs that have been chastised and
bullied until the spirit is completely broken. This peculiar humbled and
resigned expression is observable on the faces of the common people from
one end of Russia to the other. It is quite extraordinary for a common
Russian to look one in the eye. Nor is this at all deceptive; a social
superior might step up and strike one of these men brutally in the face
without the slightest provocation, and, though the victim of the outrage
might be strong as an ox, no remonstrance whatever would be made. It is
difficult for us to comprehend How human beings can possibly become so
abjectly servile and spiritless as the lower-class Russians. But the
terrors of the knout and Siberia are ever present before them. Cheap
chromolithographs of Gregorian saints hang on the walls of the saloon,
and with them are mingled fancy pictures of Tiflis and Baku cafe-chantant
belles. Long rows of vodka-bottles are the chief stock-in-trade of the
place, but "peevo" (beer) can be obtained from the cellar.

Quite a number of army officers, with their wives, come aboard at
Krasnovodsk. They seem good fellows, nearly all, and inclined to
cultivate our acquaintance. Individually, the better-class Russian and
the Englishman have many attributes in common that make them like each
other. Except for imperial matters, Russian and English officers would be
the best of friends, I think. The ladies all smoke cigarettes
incessantly. There is not a handsome woman aboard, and they show the
lingering traces of Russian barbarism by wearing beads and gewgaws.

The most interesting of our passengers is a Persian dealer in precious
stones. He is a well-educated individual, quite a linguist, and a
polished gentleman withal. He is taking diamonds and turquoises that he
has collected in Persia, to Vienna and Paris.

Another night of drenching dew, and by six o'clock next morning we are
drawing near to the great petroleum port of Baku. From Krasnovodsk we
have crossed the Caspian from east to west right on the line of latitude
40 deg.



CHAPTER XIII.

ROUNDABOUT TO INDIA.

Baku looks the inartistic, business-like place it is, occupying the base
of brown, verdureless hills. Scarcely a green thing is visible to relieve
the dull, drab aspect roundabout, and only the scant vegetation of a few
gardens relieves the city a trifle itself. To the left of the city the
slopes of one hill are dotted with neatly kept Christian cemeteries, and
the slopes of another display the disorderly multitude of tombstones
characteristic of the graveyards of Islam. On the right are seen numbers
of big iron petroleum-tanks similar to those in the oil regions of
Pennsylvania. Numbers of petroleum-schooners are riding at anchor in the
harbor, and two or three small steamers are moored to the dock.

Our steamer moves up alongside a stout wooden wharf, the gang-plank is
ran out, and the passengers permitted to file ashore. A cordon of police
prevents them passing down the wharf, while custom-house officers examine
their baggage. We are, of course, merely in transit through the country;
more than that, the Russian authorities seem anxious, for some reason, to
make a very favorable impression upon us two Central Asian travellers; so
a special officer comes aboard, takes our passports, and with an
excessive show of politeness refuses to take more than a mere formal
glance at our traps. A horde of ragamuffin porters struggle desperately
for the privilege of carrying the passengers' baggage. Poor, half-starved
wretches they seem, reminding me, in their rags and struggles, of
desperate curs quarrelling savagely over a bone. American porter's strive
for passengers' baggage for the sake of making money; with these
Russians, it seems more like a fierce resolve to obtain the wherewithal
to keep away starvation. Burly policemen, armed with swords, like the
gendarmerie of France, and in blue uniforms, assail the wretched porters
and strike them brutally in the face, or kick them in the stomach,
showing no more consideration than if they were maltreating the merest
curs. Such brutality on the one hand, and abject servility and human
degradation on the other is to be seen only in the land of the Czar.
Servility, it is true exists everywhere in Asia, but only in Russia does
one find the other extreme of coarse brutality constantly gloating over
it and abusing it.

Our stay in Baku is limited to a few hours. We are to take the train for
Tiflis the same afternoon, as we land at two o'clock so can spare no time
to see much of the city or of the oil-refineries.

Summoning one of the swarm of drosky-drivers that beset the exit from the
wharf, we are soon tearing over the Belgian blocks to the Hotel de
l'Europe. The Russian drosky-driver, whether in Baku or in Moscow, seems
incapable of driving at a moderate pace. Over rough streets or smooth he
plies the cruel whip, shouts vile epithets at his half-wild steed, and
rattles along at a furious pace.

Baku is the first Europeanized city either R------or I have been in for
many months; the rows of shops, the saloons, drug-stores, barber-shops,
and, above all, the hotels--how we appreciate it all after the bazaars
and wretched serais of Persia!

We patronize a barber-shop, and find the tonsorial accommodations equal
in every respect to those of America. One of the chairs is occupied by a
Cossack officer. He is the biggest dandy in the way of a Cossack we have
yet seen. Scarce had we thought it possible that one of these hardy
warriors of the Caucasus could blossom forth in the make-up that bursts
upon our astonished vision in this Baku barber-chair. The top-boots he
wears are the shiniest of patent leather from knee to toe; lemon-colored
silk or satin is the material of the long, gown-like coat that
distinguishes the Cossack from all others. His hair is parted in the
middle to a hair, and smoothed carefully with perfumed pomade; his
mustache is twirled and waxed, his face powdered, and eyebrows pencilled.
A silver-jointed belt, richly chased, encircles his waist, and the
regulation row of cartridge-pockets across his breast are of the same
material. He wears a short sword, the hilt and scabbard of which display
the elaborate wealth of ornament affected by the Circassians. During the
forenoon we take a stroll about the city afoot, but the wind is high, and
clouds of dust sweep down the streets. A Persian in gown and turban steps
quietly up behind us in a quiet street, and asks if we are mollahs. We
know his little game, however, and gruffly order him off. The houses of
Baku are mostly of rock and severely simple in architecture; they look
like prisons and warehouses mostly--massive and gloomy.

Everywhere, everywhere, hovers the shadow of the police. One seems to
breathe dark suspicion and mistrust in the very air. The people in the
civil walks of life all look like whipped curs. They wear the expression
of people brooding over some deep sorrow. The crape of dead liberty seems
to be hanging on every door-knob. Nobody seems capable of smiling; one
would think the shadow of some great calamity is hanging gloomily over
the city. Nihilism and discontent run riot in the cities of the Caucasus;
government spies and secret police are everywhere, and the people on the
streets betray their knowledge of the fact by talking little and always
in guarded tones.

Our stay at the hotel is but a few hours, but eleven domestics range
themselves in a row to wait upon our departure and to smirk and extend
their palms for tips as we prepare to go. No country under the sun save
the Caucasus could thus muster eleven expectant menials on the strength
of one meal served and but three hours actual occupation of our rooms.

Another wild Jehu drives us to the station of the Tiflis & Baku Railway,
and he loses a wheel and upsets us into the street on the way. The
station is a stone building, strong enough almost for a fort. Military
uniforms adorn every employee, from the supercilious station-master to
the ill-paid wretch that handles our baggage. Mine is the first bicycle
the Tiflis & Baku Railroad has ever carried. Having no precedent to
govern themselves by, and, withal, ever eager to fleece and overcharge,
the railway officials charge double rates for it; that is, twice as much
as an ordinary package of the same weight. No baggage is carried free on
the Tiflis & Baku Railroad except what one takes with him in the
passenger coach.

The cars are a compromise between the American style and those of
England. They are divided into several compartments, but the partitions
have openings that enable one to pass from end to end of the car. The
doors are in the end compartments, but lead out of the side, there being
no platform outside, nor communication between the cars. The seats are
upholstered in gray plush and are provided with sliding extensions for
sleeping at night. Overhead a second tier of berths unfolds for sleeping.
No curtains are employed; the arrangements are only intended for
stretching one's self out without undressing. The engines employed on the
Tiflis & Baku Railway are without coal-tenders. They burn the residue of
petroleum, which is fed to the flames in the form of spray by an
atomizer. A small tank above the furnace holds the liquid, and a pipe
feeds it automatically to the fire-box. The result of this excellent
arrangement is spontaneous conversion into flame, a uniformly hot fire,
cleanliness aboard the engine, a total absence of cinders, and almost an
absence of smoke. The absence of a tender gives the engine a peculiar,
bob-tailed appearance to the unaccustomed eye.

The speed of our train is about twenty miles an hour, and it starts from
Baku an hour behind the advertised time. For the first few miles unfenced
fields of ripe wheat characterize the landscape, and a total absence of
trees gives the country a dreary aspect. The day is Sunday, but peasants,
ragged and more wretched-looking than any seen in Persia, are harvesting
grain. The carts they use are most peculiar vehicles, with wheels eight
or ten feet in diameter. The tremendous size of the wheels is understood
to materially lighten their draught. After a dozen miles the country
develops into barren wastes, as dreary and verdureless as the deserts of
Seistan. At intervals of a mile the train whirls past a solitary stone
hut occupied by the family of the watchman or section-hand. Sometimes a
man stands out and waves a little flag, and sometimes a woman. Whether
male or female, the flag-signaller is invariably an uncouth bundle of
rags. The telegraph-poles consist of lengths of worn-out rail, with an
upper section of wood on which to fasten the insulators. These make
substantial poles enough, but have a make-shift look, and convey the
impression of financial weakness to the road. The stations are often
quite handsome structures of mingled stone and brickwork. The names are
conspicuously exposed in Russian and Persian and Circassian. Beer, wine,
and eatables are exposed for sale at a lunch-counter, and pedlers vend
boiled lobsters, fish, and fruit about the platforms. On the platform of
every station hangs a bell with a string attached to the tongue. When
almost ready for the train to start, an individual, invested with the
dignity of a military cap with a red stripe, jerks this string slowly and
solemnly thrice. Half a minute later another man in a full military
uniform blows a shrill whistle; yet a third warning, in the shape of a
smart toot from the engine itself, and the train pulls out. Full half the
crowd about the stations appear to be in military uniform; the remainder
are a heterogeneous company, embracing the modern Russian dandy, who
affects the latest Parisian fashions, the Circassians and Georgians in
picturesque attire, and the ever-present ragamuffin moujik. At one
station we pass an institution peculiarly Russian--a railway
prison-car conveying convicts eastward. It resembles an ordinary box-car,
with iron grating toward the top. We can see the poor wretches peeping
through the bars, and the handcuffs on their wrists. Outside at either
end is a narrow platform, where stands, with loaded guns and fixed
bayonets, a guard of four soldiers.

Once or twice before dark the train stops to replenish the engine's
supply of fuel. Elevated iron tanks containing a supply of the liquid
fuel take the place of the coal-sheds familiar to ourselves. The
petroleum is supplied to the smaller tank on the engine through a pipe,
as is water to the reservoir.

Such villages as we pass are the most unlovely clusters of mud hovels
imaginable. Only the people are interesting, and the life of the railway
itself. The Circassian peasantry are picturesque in bright colors, and
the thin veneering of Western civilization spread over the semi-barbarity
of the Russian officials and first-class passengers is an interesting
study in itself.

We have been promising ourselves a day in Tiflis, the old Georgian
capital, and now the head-quarters of the Russian army of the Caucasus,
which our friends of the French scientific party said we would find
interesting.

We find it both pleasant and interesting, for here are all modern
improvements of hotel and street, as well as English telegraph officers,
one a former acquaintance at Teheran. Tiflis now claims about one hundred
and sixty thousand inhabitants, and is situated quite picturesquely in
the narrow valley of the Kur. The old Georgian quarters still retain
their Oriental appearance--gabled houses, narrow, crooked streets, and
filth. The modernized, or European, portion of the city contains broad
streets, rows of shops in which is displayed everything that could be
found in any city in Europe, and street-railways.

These latter were introduced in 1882, and at first met with fierce
antagonism from the drosky-drivers, who swarm here as in every city in
Russia. These wild Jehus of the Caucasus expected the tram-cars to turn
out the same as any other vehicle. Four people were killed by collisions
the first day. Severe punishment had to be resorted to in order to stop
the hostility of the drosky-drivers against the strange innovation.

The day is spent in seeing the city and visiting the hot sulphur baths
and in the evening we attend a big bal masque in a suburban garden. A
regimental band of fifty pieces plays "Around the World," by order of
Prince Nicholas F, who exerts himself to make things pleasant for us in
the garden. The famed beauties of Georgia, Circassia, and Mingrelia,
masked and costumed, promenade and waltz with Russian officers, and
sometimes join Circassian officers in a charming native dance.

We spend our promised clay in Tiflis, enjoy it thoroughly, and then
proceed to Batoum. The Tiflis railway-station is a splendid building,
with fountains and broad nights of stone terrace leading up to it from
the street behind. Our drosky-driver rattles up to the foot of these
terraced approaches at 8 a.m., and draws up a steed with an abruptness
peculiar to the half-wild Jehus of the Caucasus. The same employee of the
Hotel de Londres who had mysteriously hailed us by name from the platform
as our train glided in from Baku the morning before, accompanies us to
the depot now. All English travellers in Russia are supposed to be
millionaires; all Americans, possessed of unlimited wealth. Bearing this
in mind, our Russian-Armenian henchman has from first to last been most
assiduous in his attentions, paying out of his own pocket the few odd
copecks to porters carrying our luggage up from drosky to depot, in order
to save us bother.

The station is crowded with people going away themselves or seeing
friends off. As usual, the military overshadows and predominates
everything. Between civilians and the wearers of military uniforms one
plainly observes in a Russian Caucasus crowd that no love is lost. The
strained relationship between the native population and the military
aliens from the north is generally made the more conspicuous by the
comparative sociability of the Georgians among themselves and kindred
people of the Caucasus. Circassian officers in their picturesque uniforms
and beautifully chased swords and pistols mingle sociably with the
civilians, and are evidently great favorites; but that the blue-coated,
white-capped Russians are hated with a bitter, sullen hatred requires no
penetrating eye to see. The military brutality that crushed the brave and
warlike people of Georgia, Circassia, and Mingrelia, and well-nigh
depopulated the country, has left sore wounds that will take the wine and
oil of time many a generation to heal completely up.

With an inner consciousness of duty well done and services faithfully
rendered, our friend from the hotel flicks off our seats in the car with
the tail of his long linen duster. Not that they need dusting; but as a
gentle reminder of the extraordinary care he has bestowed upon us, in
little things as well as in bigger, during our brief acquaintance with
him, he dusts them off. That last attentive flick of his coat-tail is the
finishing touch of an elaborate retrospective panorama we are expected to
conjure up of the valuable services he has rendered us, and for which he
is now justly entitled to his reward.

The customary three bells are struck, the inevitable military-looking
official blows shrilly on his little whistle, and still the train
lingers; lastly, the engine toots, however, and we pull slowly out of
Tiflis. The town lies below us to the left, the River Kur follows us
around a bend, the train speeds through deep gravel cuttings, and when we
emerge from them the Georgian capital is no longer visible.

Between Baku and Tiflis, the Caucasus Railway runs for the most part
through a flat, uninteresting country. Wastes as dreary and desolate as
the steppes of Central Russia or the deserts of Turkestan sometimes
stretched away to the horizon on either side of the track. At other
points were gray, verdureless slopes and rocky buttes, or saline
mud-flats that looked like the old bed of some ancient sea. Occasional
oases of life appeared here and there, a few wheat-fields and a wretched
mud-built village, or a picturesque scene of smoke-browned tents, gayly
dressed nomads, and grazing flocks and herds. At night we had passed
through a grassy steppe, a facsimile of the rolling prairies of the West.
Though but the 6th of June, the country was parched, and the grass dried,
as it stood, into hay by the heat and drought. We saw at one point a wide
sweep of flame that set the darkening sky aglow and caused the
railway-rails ahead to gleam. It was the steppe on fire--another
reproduction of a Far Western prairie scene.

All this had changed as we woke up an hour before reaching Tiflis. The
country became green, lovely, and populous in comparison. The people
seemed less 'ragged, poverty-stricken, and wretched; the native women
wore garments of brightest red and blue; the men put on more style, with
their long Circassian coats and ornamental daggers, than I had yet
observed. East of Tiflis, the Caucasus Hallway may, roughly speaking, be
said to traverse the dreary wastes of an Asiatic country; west of it to
wind around among the green hills and forest-clad heights of Europe's
southeastern extremity. Lovelier and more beautifully green grows the
country, and more interesting, too, grow the people and the towns, as our
train speeds westward toward Batoum and the Black Sea coast. Everything
about the railway, also, seems to be more prosperous, and better
equipped. The improvised telegraph poles of worn-out lengths of rail seen
east of Tiflis give place to something more becoming. Sometimes we speed
for miles past ordinary cedar poles, procured, no doubt, from the
mountain forests near at hand. Occasionally are stretches of iron poles
imported from England, and then poles composed of two iron railway-rails
clamped together. For much of the way we see the splendidly equipped
Indo-European Telegraph Company's line, the finest telegraph line in the
world. Equipped with substantial iron poles throughout, and with every
insulator covered with an iron cap in countries where the half-civilized
natives are wont to do them damage, this line runs through the various
countries of Europe and Asia to Teheran, Persia, where it joins hands
with the British Government line to India.

Following along the valley of the River Kur, our train is sometimes
rattling along up a wild gorge between rugged heights whose sides are
bristling with dark coniferous growth, or more precipitous, with huge
jagged rocks and the variegated vegetation of the Caucasus strewn in wild
confusion. Again, we emerge upon a peaceful grassy valley, lovely enough
to have been the Happy Valley of Rasselas, and walled in almost
completely with forest-clad mountains. Through it, perhaps, there winds a
mountain stream, fed by welling springs and hidden rivulets, and on the
stream is sure to be a town or village. An old Georgian town it would be,
picturesque but dirty, built, too, with an eye to security from attack.
One town is particularly noteworthy--not a very large town, but more
important, doubtless, in times past than now. Out of the valley there
rises a rocky butte, abrupt almost as though it were some monstrous
vegetable growth. On the summit of this natural fortress some old
Georgian chief had, in the good old days of independence, built a massive
castle, and nestling beneath its protecting shadow around the base of the
butte is the town, a picturesque town of adobe and wattle walls and
quaint red tiles. So intensely verdant is the valley, so thickly wooded
the dark surrounding mountains, so brown the walls, so red the tiles, and
so picturesque the elevated castle, that even K goes into raptures, and
calls the picture beautiful.

The improvement in the Russian telegraph line, perhaps, owes something to
its brief association with the invading stranger from England; and now
among the sublime loveliness of this Caucasian Switzerland one finds the
station-houses built with far more pretence to the picturesque than on
the barren steppes toward Baku and the Caspian. Here is the Caucasia of
our youthful dreams, and the mystic hills and vales whence Mingrelian
princes issued forth to deeds of valor in old romantic tales. Urchins,
small mountaineers, more picturesquely clad than anything seen in Alpine
Italy, even, now offer us little baskets of wild strawberries at ten
copecks a basket-strawberries they and their little brothers and sisters
have gathered this very morning at the foot of the hills. The cuisine at
the lunch-counters embraces fresh trout from neighboring mountain
streams, caught by vagrant Mingrelian Isaac Waltons, who bring them in on
strings of plaited grass to sell.

Humorous scenes sometimes enliven our stops at the stations. The Russian
warnings for travellers to seek the train before it is everlastingly too
late cover fully a minute of time. First come three raps of a bell
suspended on the platform, afterward a station employe blows a little
whistle, and lastly comes a toot from the engine itself, by way of an
ultimatum. Once this afternoon a woman leaves the train to enter the
waiting-room for something. Just as she is entering, the station-man
rings the bell. The woman, evidently unaccustomed to railway travel,
rushes hastily back to the train. Everybody greets her performance with
good-natured merriment. Finding the train not pulling out, and encouraged
by some of the passengers, the woman ventures to try it again. As she
reaches the waiting-room door, the station-man blows a shrill blast on
his whistle. The woman rushes back, as before. Again the people laugh,
and again words of encouragement tempt her to venture back again. This
time it is the toot of the engine that brings that poor female scurrying
back across the platform amid the unsympathetic laughter of her
fellow-passengers, and this time the train really starts. From this it
would appear that too many signals are quite as objectionable at
railway-stations as not signals enough. Every stoppage at a lunch-counter
station, or where venders of things edible come on the platform, gives us
opportunity to turn our minds judicially upon the civilization of our
fellow first-class passengers. They present a curious combination of
French fashion and polite address, on the one hand, and want of taste and
ignorance of civilization's usages on the other. Gentlemen and ladies,
dressed in the latest Parisian fashions, stand out on the platform and
devour German sausage or dig their teeth into big chunks of yellow cheese
with the gusto of half-starved barbarians.

We double our engines--our compact, tenderless, petroleum-burning
engines--at the foot of the Suran Pass. At its base, a stream disappears
in an arched cave at the foot of a towering rocky cliff, and I have
bethought me since of whether, like Allan Quatermain's subterranean
stream, it would, if followed, reveal things heretofore unseen. And so we
climb the lovely Suran Pass, rattle down the western slope upon the Black
Sea coast, and reach Batoum at 11 p.m.

As the chief mercantile port of the Caucasus, Batoum is an important
shipping point. By the famous Berlin treaty it was made a free port; but
nothing is likely to remain free any length of time upon which the
Russian bear has managed to lay his greedy paw. Consequently, Batoum is
now afflicted with all sorts of commercial taxes and restrictions,
peculiar to a protective and autocratic semi-Oriental government.
Notwithstanding this, however, ships from various European ports crowd
its harbor, for not only is it the shipping point of Baku petroleum, but
also the port of entry for much of the Persian and Central Asian
importations from Europe. An oil-pipe line is seriously contemplated from
Baku to replace the iron-tank cars now run on the railroad.

Big fortifications are under headway to protect the harbor; its strategic
importance as the terminus of the Caucasus Railway and the shipping point
for troops and war material making Batoum a place of special solicitation
on the part of the Russian military authorities. R------and I walk around
and take a look at the fortification works, as well as one can do this;
but no strangers are allowed very near, and we are conscious of close
surveillance the whole time we are walking out near the scene of
operations.

A pleasant day in Batoum, and we take passage aboard a Messageries
Maritimes steamer for Constantinople. Late at night we depart, amid the
glare and music of a violent thunder-storm, and in the morning wake up in
the roadstead of Trebizond.

To fully realize the difference between mock-civilization and the genuine
article, one cannot do better than to transfer from a Russian Caspian
steamer to a Messageries Maritimes. The Russians affect French methods
and manners in pretty much everything; but the thinness and transparency
of the varnish becomes very striking in contrast aboard the steamers.

The scenery along the Anatolian coast is striking and lovely in the
extreme as we steam along in full view of it all next day. It is
mountainous the whole distance, but the prospect is charmingly variable.
Sometimes the mountains are heavily wooded down to the water's edge, and
sometimes the slopes are prettily chequered with clearings and
cultivation.

More and more lovely it grows next day, as we pass Samsoon, celebrated
throughout the East for chibouque tobacco; Sinope, memorable as the place
where the first blow of the Crimean War was delivered; and, on the
morning of the third day, Ineboli, the "town of wines."

On the evening of the third day we lay off the entrance to the Bosphorus
till morning, when we steam down that charming strait to Constantinople.
It is almost a year since I took, in company with our friend Shelton Bey,
a pleasure trip up the Bosphorus and gazed for the first time on its
wondrous beauties. I have seen considerable since, but the Bosphorus
looks as fresh and lovely as ever.

While yielding as full a measure of praise to the Bosphorus as any of its
most ardent admirers, I would, however, at the same time, recommend those
in search of lovely coast scenery to take a coasting voyage along the
southern shore of the Black Sea in June. I have no hesitation in saying
that the traveller who goes into raptures over the beauties of the
Bosphorus would, if he saw it, include the whole Anatolian coast to
Batoum.

Several very pleasant days are spent in Constantinople, talking over my
Central Asian adventures with former acquaintances and seeing the city.
But as these were pretty thoroughly described in Volume I., there is no
need of repetition here. With many regrets I part company with R, who has
proved a very pleasant companion indeed, and set sail for India.

The steamers of the Khedivial Line, plying between Constaninople and
Alexandria, have their mooring buoys near the Stamboul side of the Golden
Horn, between Seraglio Point and the Galata bridge. During the forenoon,
Shelton Bey, R--, and I had taken a caique and sought out from among
the crowd of shipping in the harbor the steamship Behera, of the
above-mentioned line, on which I have engaged my passage to Alexandria,
so that we should have no difficulty in finding it in the afternoon. In
the afternoon the Behera is found surrounded by a swarm of caiques,
bringing passengers and friends who have come aboard to see them off.
These slender-built craft are paddling about the black hull of the
steamer in busy confusion. A fussy and authoritative little police boat
seems to take a wanton delight in increasing the confusion by making
sallies in among them to see that newly arriving passengers have provided
themselves with the necessary passports, and that their baggage has been
duly examined at the custom-house. All is bustle and confusion aboard the
Behera, and in two hours after the advertised time (pretty prompt for an
Egyptian-owned boat) a tug-boat assists her from her moorings, paddles
glibly to one side, and in ten minutes Seraglio Point is rounded, and we
are steaming down the Marmora with the domes and minarets of the Ottoman
capital gradually vanishing to the rear.

People whose experience of steamship travel is confined to voyages in
western waters, and the orderliness and neatness aboard an Atlantic
steamer, can form little idea of the appearance aboard an Oriental
passenger boat. The small foredeck is reserved for the use of first and
second-class passengers; the remainder of the deck-room is pretty well
crowded with the most motley and picturesque gathering imaginable. Arabs
and Egyptians returning from a visit to Stamboul, pilgrims going to Mecca
via Egypt, Greeks, Levantines, and Armenians, all more or less
fantastically attired and occupying themselves in their own peculiar way.
The nomadic instinct of the Arabs asserts itself even on the deck of the
steamer; ere she is an hour from Stamboul they may be seen squatting in
little circles around small pans of charcoal, cooking their evening meal
in precisely the same manner in which they are wont to cook it in the
desert, leaving out, of course, the difference between camel chips and
charcoal.

The soothing "bubble bubble" of the narghileh is heard issuing from all
sorts of quiet corners, where dreamy-looking Turks are perched
cross-legged, happy and contented in the enjoyment of their beloved
water-pipe and in the silent contemplation of the moving scenes about
them. As we ply our way at a ten-knot speed through the blue waves of the
Marmora, and the sun sinks with a golden glow below the horizon, the
spirit moves one of the Mecca pilgrims to climb on top of a chicken coop
and shout "Allah-il!" for several minutes; the dangling ends of his
turban flutter in the fresh evening breeze, streaming out behind him as
he faces the east, and flapping in his swarthy face as he turns round
facing to the opposite point of the compass. His supplications seem to be
addressed to the dancing, white-capped waves, but the old Osmanlis mutter
"Allah, Allah," in response between meditative whiffs of the narghileh,
and the Arab and his fellow Mecca pilgrims swell the chorus with
deep-fetched sighs of "Allah, Ali Akbar!"

A narrow space is walled off with canvas for the exclusive use of the
female deck passengers, and in this enclosure scores of women and
children of the above-named nationalities are huddled together
indiscriminately for the night, packed, I should say, closer than
sardines in a tin box. Male sleepers and family groups are sprawled about
the deck in every conceivable position, and in walking from the foredeck
to the after-cabins by the ghostly glimmer of the ship's lanterns, one
has to pick his way cautiously among them. Woe to the person who attempts
this difficult feat without the aid of a good pair of sea-legs; he is
sure to be pitched head foremost by the motion of the vessel into the
bosom of some family peacefully snoozing in a promiscuous heap, or to
step on the slim, dusky figure of an Arab.

The ubiquitous Urasian who can speak "a leetle Inglis" soon betrays his
presence aboard by singling me out and proceeding to make himself
sociable. I am sitting on the foredeck perusing a late copy of a magazine
which I had obtained in Constantinople, when that inevitable individual
introduces himself by peeping at the corner of the magazine, and, with a
winning smile, deliberately spells out its name; and soon we are engaged
in as animated a discussion of the magazine as his limited knowledge of
English permits. After listening with much interest to the various
subjects of which it treats, he parades his profuse knowledge of
Anglo-Saxon athletics by asking: "Does it also speak of ballfoot?"

The cuisine in both first and second-class cabins aboard the Egyptian
liners is excellent, being served after the French style, with several
courses and wine ad libitum. At our table is one solitary female, a Greek
lady with an interesting habit of talking and gesticulating during
meal-times, and of promenading the fore-deck in a profoundly pensive mood
between meals. I have good reason to remember her former peculiarity, as
she accidentally knocks a bottle of wine over into my soup-plate while
gesticulating to a couple of Levantines across the table. She is a
curious woman in more respects than one: she always commences to pick her
teeth at the beginning of the meal, and between courses she sticks the
little wooden toothpick, pen-fashion, behind her ear. Being Greek, of
course she smokes cigarettes, and being Greek, of course she is also
arrayed in one of those queer-looking garments that resemble an inverted
cloth balloon, with the feet protruding from holes in the bottom. She
sometimes absent-mindedly keeps the toothpick behind her ear while
promenading the deck, and I have humbly thought that a woman promenading
pensively back and forth in the national Greek costume, smoking a
cigarette, and with a wooden toothpick behind her starboard ear, was
deserving of passing mention.

The chief engineer of the ship is an Englishman with a large experience
in the East; he has served with the late lamented General Gordon in the
suppression of the slave trade in the Red Sea, and was anchored in
Alexandria harbor during the last bombardment of the forts by the English
ships. "The best thing about the whole bombardment," he says, "was to see
the enthusiasm aboard the Yankee ships; the rigging swarmed with men,
waving hats and cheering the English gunners, and whenever a more telling
shot than usual struck the forts, wild hurrahs of approval from the
American sailors would make the welkin ring again."

"There was no holding the Yankee sailors back when the English were
preparing to go ashore," the old engineer continues, a gleam of
enthusiasm lighting up his face, "and it was arranged that they should go
ashore to protect the American Consulate--only to protect the
American Consulate, you know," and the engineer winks profoundly, and
thinking I might not comprehend the meaning of a profound wink, he winks
knowingly as he repeats, "only to protect the American Consulate, you
know." The engineer winds up by remarking: "That little affair in
Alexandria harbor taught me more about the true feeling between the
English and Americans than all the newspaper gabble on the subject put
together." We touch at Smyrna and the Piraeus, and at the latter place a
number of recently disbanded Greek soldiers come aboard; some are
Albanian Greeks whose costume is sufficiently fantastic to merit
description. Beginning at the feet, these extremities are incased in
moccasins of red leather, with pointed toes that turn upward and inward
and terminate in a black worsted ball. The legs look comfortable and
active in tights of coarse gray cloth, but the piece de resistance of the
costume is the kilt. This extends from the hips to the middle of the
thighs, and instead of being a simple plaited cloth, like the kilt of the
Scotch Highlanders, it consists of many folds of airy white material that
protrude in the fanciful manner of the stage costume of a coryphee. A
jacket of the same material as the tights covers the body, and is
embellished with black braid; this jacket is provided with open sleeves
that usually dangle behind like immature wings, but which can be buttoned
around the wrists so as to cover the back of the arm. The head-gear is a
red fez, something like the national Turkish head-dress, but with a huge
black tassel that hangs half-way down the back, and which seems ever on
the point of pulling the fez off the wearer's head with its weight. At
noon of the fifth day out we arrive in Alexandria Harbor, to find the
shipping gayly decorated with flags and the cannon booming in honor of
the anniversary of Her Majesty Queen Victoria's coronation.

Alexandria is the most flourishing and Europeanized city I have thus far
seen in the East. That portion of the city destroyed by the incendiary
torches of Arabi Pasha is either built up again or in process of
rebuilding. Like all large city fires, the burning would almost seem to
have been more of a benefit than otherwise, in the long-run, for imposing
blocks of substantial stone buildings, many with magnificent marble
fronts, have risen, Phoenix-like, from the ashes of the inferior
structures destroyed by the fire. After seeing Constantinople, Teheran,
or even Tiflis, one cannot but be surprised at Alexandria--surprised at
finding its streets well paved with massive stone blocks, smoothly laid,
and elevated in the middle, after the most approved methods; surprised at
the long row of really splendid shops, in which is displayed everything
that can be found in a European city; surprised at the swell turn-outs on
the Khediveal Boulevard of an evening; surprised at the many evidences of
wealth and European enterprise. In the yet unfinished quarters of the
city, houses are going up everywhere, the large gangs of laborers, both
men and women, engaged in their erection, create an impression of
beehive-like activity, and everybody looks happy and contented. After so
many surprises comes a feeling of regret that this commercial and
industrial rose, that looks so bright and flourishing under the
stimulating influence of the English occupation, should ever again be
exposed to the blighting influence of an Oriental administration.
Red-coated "Tommy Atkins," stalking in conscious superiority down the
streets, or standing guard in front of the barracks, is no doubt chiefly
responsible for much of this flourishing state of affairs in Alexandria,
and the withdrawal of his peace--insuring presence could not fail to
operate adversely to the city's good.

The many groves of date-palms, rising up tall and slender, vying in
gracefulness with the tapering minarets of the mosques, and with their
feathery foliage mingling with and overtopping the white stone buildings,
lends a charm to Alexandria that is found wanting in Constantinople
--albeit the Osmanli capital presents by far the more lovely
appearance from the sea. Massive marble seats are ranged along the
Khediveal Boulevard beneath the trees, and dusky statues, in the scant
drapery of the Egyptian plebe, are either sitting on them or reclining at
lazy length, an occasional movement of body alone betraying that they are
not part and parcel of the tomb-like marble slabs.

The tall, slim figures of Soudanese and Arabs mingle with the
cosmopolitan forms in the streets; Nubians black as ebony, their skins
seemingly polished, and their bare legs thin almost as beanpoles, slouch
lazily along, or perhaps they are bestriding a diminutive donkey, their
long, bony feet dangling idly to the ground. All the donkeys of
Alexandria are not diminutive, however. Some of the finest donkeys in the
world are here, large, sleek-coated, well-fed-looking animals, that
appear quite as intelligent as their riders, or as the native donkey-boys
who follow behind and persuade them along. These donkeys are for hire on
every street-corner, and all sorts and conditions of people, from an
English soldier to a lean Arab, may be seen coming jollity-jolt along the
streets on the hurricane-deck of a donkey, with a half-naked donkey-boy
racing behind, belaboring him along. The population of Alexandria is
essentially cosmopolitan, but, considering the English occupation, one is
scarcely prepared to find so few English. The great majority of Europeans
are Germans, French, and Italian, nearly all the shopkeepers being of
these nationalities. But English language and Bullish money seem to be
almost universally understood, and probably the Board of Trade returns
would show that English commerce predominates, and that it is only the
retail trade in which the foreign element looms so conspicuously to the
fore. An English evening paper, the Egyptian Gazette, has taken root
here, and the following rather humorous account of a series of camel
races, copied from its pages, serves to show something of how the
sporting proclivities of the English army of occupation enlist the
services of even the awkward and ungainly ships of the desert:

5.15 p.m.-Camel race, for gentlemen riders. Once round and a distance.
Sweepstakes, 10 shillings. Don Juan, a fine, long-maned, fast-looking
dromedary, started first favorite, Commodore Goodridge, K. N., our
popular naval transport officer, being as good a judge of the ship of the
desert as he is of a man-of-war. There was some difficulty at the post to
get the riders together, owing to the fractiousness of Don Juan, who,
with Kobert the Devil (ridden by Surgeon Porke), did not seem quite
agreed about the Professional Beauty (ridden by Surgeon Moir). At the
start Shaitan (ridden by Mr. Airey, E. N.) shoved to the front, closely
followed by Surgeon Robertson's Mother-in-law, who, with Lieutenant
Shuckburg's Purely Patience, Mr. Dumreicher's First Love, and Surgeon
Halle's Microbe, rather shut out Don Juan. They kept this order until
rounding Tattenham Corner, when Mr. Dumreicher brought his camel to the
front, proving to his backers that he meant business with his First Love,
and won a splendid race by her neck, Don Juan making a good second, with
Professional Beauty about a length behind.

6.15 p.m.-Camel race, for sailors and soldiers. Once round and a
distance. First prize, 10s.; second, 5s.; third, 2s. 6d. Eleven
competitors turned up for this race, which was very well contested,
although one of the camels appeared to think it too much trouble to run,
and quietly squatted down immediately after the start, and could not be
induced to join his fellows. Abdel Hal Hassin of the Coast Guard came in
first, with Wickers of the Royal Artillery second, and Simpson of the
commissariat and transport corps third.

"Second camel race, for gentlemen riders. This was got up on the course
by a sporting naval officer. Five camels started: G. O. M., Hartington,
Goschen, Chamberlain, and Unionist. This looked a certainty for G. O. M.,
as all but Unionist were in the same stable. However, the jockeys seem to
have been 'got at,' for although G. O. M. got away with a good start, yet
rounding the second corner he was shut out by a combined effort of
Hartington, Goschen, Chamberlain, and Unionist, the latter winning, amid
thunders of applause, by 30 lengths."

Egypt is pre-eminently the land of backsheesh, and Alexandria, as the
chief port of arrival and departure, naturally comes in for its share of
this annoying attention. From ship to hotel, and from hotel to
railway-station, the traveller has to run the gauntlet of people deeply
versed in the subtle arts and wiles of backsheesh diplomacy. At any time,
as you stroll down the street, some native will suddenly bob up like a
sable ghost beside you, point out something you don't want to see, and
brazenly demand backsheesh for showing it. Cook's tourists' office is but
a few hundred yards from my hotel. I have passed it before, and know
exactly where it is, but one of these dusky shadows glides silently
behind me, until the office is nearly reached, when he slips ahead,
points it out, and with consummate assurance demands backsheesh for
guiding me to it. The worst of it is there is no such thing as getting
rid of these pests; they are the most persevering and unscrupulous
blackmailers in their own small way that could be imagined. People whom
you could swear you never set eyes on before will boldly declare they
have acted as guide or something, and dog your footsteps all over the
city; most of them are as "umble" as Uriah Heep himself in their annoying
importunities, but some will not even hesitate to create a scene to gain
their object, and, as the easiest way to get rid of them, the harassed
traveller generally gives them a coin.

In leaving by the train, after one has backsheeshed the hungry swarm of
hotel servitors, backsheeshed the porter who has doggedly persisted in
coming with you to the station, regardless of repeatedly telling him he
wasn't wanted, backsheeshed the baggage man, and bolted almost like a
hunted thing into the railway-carriage from a small host of people who
want backsheesh--one because he happened to detect your wandering
gaze in search of the station clock and eagerly pointed out its
whereabouts, another because he has told you, without being asked, that
the train starts in ten minutes, another because he pointed out your
carriage, which for a brief transitory instant you failed to recognize,
and others for equally trivial things, for which they all seem keenly on
the alert--you shut yourself in with a feeling of relief that must be
something akin to escaping from a gang of brigands. King Backsheesh
evidently rules supreme in Egypt yet.

My route to India takes me along the Egyptian Railway to Suez, thence by
steamer down the Red Sea to Aden and Karachi. A passenger train on this
railway consists of carriages divided into classes as they are in
England, the first and second class cars being modelled on the same lines
as the English. The third-class cars, however, are mere boxes provided
with seats, and with iron bars instead of windows. Nice airy vehicles
these, where the conditions of climate render airiness desirable, but it
must be extremely interesting to ride in one of them through an Egyptian
sand-storm.

At the Alexandria station, an old wrinkle-faced native, bronzed and
leathery almost as an Egyptian mummy, pulls a bell-rope three times, the
conductor comes to the car-window for the second time and examines your
ticket, the engine gives a cracked shriek and pulls out. As the train
glides through the suburbs one's attention is arrested by well-kept
carriage-drives, lined and overarched with feathery palm-tree groves, and
other evidences of municipal thrift.

From the suburbs we plunge at once into a rich and populous agricultural
country, the famed Nile Delta, of which a passing descriptive glimpse
will not here be considered out of place. Cotton seems to be the most
important crop as seen from the windows of my car, and for many a mile
after leaving Alexandria we glide through luxuriant fields of that
important Egyptian staple.

Interspersed among the darker green of the growing cotton are fields of
young rice, sometimes showing bright and green in contrast to the darker
shade of the cotton, and sometimes being represented by square areas of
glistening water, beneath which the young rice is submerged.

The Nile Delta is a net-work of irrigating ditches from end to end. Large
canals, big enough to float barges, and on which considerable commerce is
carried, tap the Nile above the Delta, and traversing it in all
directions, furnish water to systems of smaller ditches and canals, and
these again to still smaller channels of distribution.

The water in these channels is all below the surface, and a goodly
proportion of the whole teeming population of the delta is engaged
between seed-time and harvest in pumping the life-giving water from these
ditches into the small surface trenches that conduct it over their fields
and gardens. The water-pumping fellahs, ranged along the net-work of
canals, often at intervals of not more than one hundred yards, create an
impression of marvellous industry pervading the whole scene, as the train
speeds its way alongside the larger canals.

The pumping in most cases is done by men or buffaloes, and the
clumsy-looking but effective Egyptian water-wheel, a rough wooden
contrivance that as it revolves, raises the water from below and pours it
from holes in the side into a wooden trough, from whence it flows over
the field.

Small rude shelters are erected close by, beneath which the attendant
fellah can squat in the shade and keep the meek and gentle, but lazy
buffaloes up to their task, by constant threats and bellicose
demonstrations. Most of these animals are blindfolded, a contrivance
that, no doubt, inspires them to pace round and round their weary circle
with becoming perseverance, inasmuch as it tends to keep them in
perpetual fear of the dusky driver beneath the shade.

People too poor, or with holdings too small, to justify the employment of
oxen in pumping water, raise it from the ditches themselves, with buckets
at the end of long well-sweeps; in some localities one can cast his eye
over the landscape and see scores of these rude sweeps continually rising
and falling, rising and falling.

A few windmills are also used for pumping, but the wind is a fickle thing
to depend on, and his utter dependence on the water supply makes the
Egyptian agriculturist unwilling to run such risks. Steam-engines, both
stationary and portable, are observed at frequent intervals. Both the
engines and the coal for fuel have to be imported from England; but they
evidently pump enough water to repay the outlay, otherwise there would
not be so many of them in use. It must be a rich, productive soil that
can afford the expensive luxury of importing steam-engines and coal from
a distant market to supply it with water for irrigation.

The sediment from the Nile, which settles in the canals and ditches, is
cleaned out at frequent intervals and spread over the fields, providing a
new dressing of rich alluvial soil to annually stimulate the productive
capacity of the soil.

In the larger cotton-fields the dusky sons and daughters of Egypt are
seen strung out in long rows, wielding cumbersome hoes, reminding one of
old plantation days in Dixie; or they are paddling about in the inundated
rice-fields like amphibious things. Swarms of happy youngsters are
splashing about in the canals and ditches; all about is teeming with life
and animation.

Villages are populous and close together. They are, for the most part,
mere jumbles of low, mud houses with curious domed roofs, and they rise
above the dead level of the delta like mounds. Many of these villages
have probably occupied the same site since the days of the Pharaohs, the
debris and rubbish of centuries have accumulated and been built upon
again and again as the unsubstantial mud dwellings have crumbled away,
until they have gradually developed into mounds that rise like huge
mole-hills above the plain, and on which the present houses are built.
Near each village is a graveyard, also forming a mound-like excrescence
on the dead level of the surrounding surface.

At intervals the train passes some stately white mansion, looking lovely
and picturesque enough for anything, peeping from a grove of date-palms
or other indigenous vegetation. The tall, slender palms with their
beautiful feathery foliage, lend a charm to the sunny Egyptian landscape
with its golden dawns and sunsets that is simply indescribable. There
seems no reason why every village on the whole delta should not be hiding
its ugliness beneath a grove of this charming vegetation. Further east,
near Fantah, nearly every village is found thus embowered, and date-palm
groves form a very conspicuous feature of the landscape. One need hardly
add that here the fellaheen look more intelligent, more prosperous and
happy.

At all the larger stations women come to the train with roast quails
stuffed with rice, which they sell at six-pence apiece, and at every
station along the line children bring water in the porous clay bottles of
the country. This latter is badly needed, for the train rattles along
most of the time in a stifling cloud of dust, that penetrates the car and
settles over one in incredible quantities.

During the afternoon we pass the battle-field of Tel-el-Kebre, the train
whisking right through the centre of Arabi Pasha's earthworks. Near the
battle-field is a little cemetery where the English soldiers killed in
the battle were buried. The cemetery is kept green and tidy, and
surrounded by a neat iron fence; amid the gray desert that begins at
Tel-el-Kebre this little cemetery is the only bright spot immediately
about. From Tel-el-Kebre to Suez the country is a sandy desert, where
sand-fences, like the snow-fences of the Rocky Mountains, have been found
necessary to protect the railway from the shifting sand. On this dreary
waste are seen herds of camels, happy, no doubt, as clams at high tide,
as they roam about and search for tough camel-thorn shrubs, that here and
there protrude above the wavy ridges of white sand. Put a camel in a
pasture of rich, succulent grass and he will roam about with a far-away,
disconsolate look and an expression of disgust, but here, on the glaring
white sands of the desert with nothing to browse upon but prickly dry
shrubs he is in the seventh 'heaven of a camel's delight.

Very curious it looks as we approach Suez to see the spars and masts of
big steamers moving along the ship-canal, close at hand, without seeing
anything of the water. The high dumps, representing the excavations from
the canal, conceal everything but the masts and the top of the funnels
even when one is close by.

Several days are spent at Suez, waiting for the steamer which we will
call the Mandarin, on which I am to take passage to Karachi. Suez is a
wretched hole, although there is a passably good English hotel facing the
water-front. It is the month of Bairam, however, and there is
consequently a good deal of picturesque life in the native quarters.

Suez seems swarming with guides, and as I am, for the greater part of a
week, the only guest at the hotel, they show me far more attention than a
dozen people would know what to do with. Some want to take me to see the
place where Moses struck the rock, others urge me to visit the spot where
the Israelites crossed the Red Sea; both these places being suspiciously
handy to Suez.

Donkey boys dog one's footsteps with their long-eared chargers, whenever
one ventures outside the hotel. "I'm the Peninsular and Oriental Donkey
Boy, sir, Jimmy Johnson; I have a good donkey, sir, when you want to
ride, ask for Jimmy Johnson." To all this, sundry seductive offers are
added, such as a short trial trip along the bund.

The Mandarin comes along on July 7th, and a decidedly stably smell is
wafted over the waters toward us as we follow behind her with the little
launch that is to put me aboard when the steamer condescends to ease up
and allow us to approach. The Mandarin, owing to the quarantine, has kept
me waiting several days at Suez, and when at last she steams out of the
canal and we give chase with the little launch, and finally range
alongside, the whole length of the deck is observed to be bristling with
ears. Some particularly hopeful agent of the Indian Government has been
sanguine enough to ship one hundred and forty mules from Italy to Karachi
during the monsoon season, on the deck of a notoriously rolling ship, and
with nothing but temporary plank fittings to confine the mules. The mules
are ranged along either side of the deck, seventy mules on each side,
heads facing inward, and with posts and a two-inch plank separating them
from the remainder of the deck, and into stalls of six mules each.
Cocoanut matting is provided for them to stand on, and a plank nailed
along the deck for them to brace their feet against when the vessel
rolls. Nothing could be more happily arranged than this, providing the
mules were unanimously agreed about remaining inside the railed-off
space, and providing the monsoons had agreed not to roll the Mandarin
violently about. With unpardonable short-sightedness, however, it seems
that neither of these important factors in the case has been seriously
considered or consulted, and, as an additional insult to the mules, the
plank in front of them is elevated but four feet six above the deck.

They are a choice lot of four-year-old mules, unbroken and wild,
harum-skarum and skittish. Well-fed four-year-old mules are skin-full of
deviltry under any circumstances, and ranged like so many red herrings in
their boxes, with no exercise, and every motion of the ship jostling them
against one another, they very quickly developed a capacity for
simon-pure cussedness that caused the officers of the ship no little
anxiety from day to day, and a good deal more anxiety when they reflected
on the weather that would be encountered on the Indian Ocean.

The officers of the Mandarin are excellent seamen; they are perfectly at
home and at their ease when it comes to managing a vessel, but their
knowledge of mules is not so profound and exhaustive as of vessels; in
short, their experience of mules has hitherto been confined to casually
noticing meek and sober-sided specimens attached to the street cars of
certain cities they have visited. Three Italian muleteers have been hired
to assist and instruct the coolies in feeding and watering the mules, and
to supervise their general welfare. The three muleteers is an excellent
arrangement, providing there were but three mules, but unfortunately
there are one hundred and forty, and before they had been aboard the
Mandarin two days it became apparent that they ought to have engaged an
equal number of Italians to keep the mules out of devilment.

Uneasy in their minds at the wild restlessness and seemingly dare-devil
and inconsiderate pranks of their long-eared and unspeakable charges, the
officers are naturally anxious to avail themselves of any stray grains of
enlightenment concerning their management they might perchance drop on to
by appealing to persons they come in contact with. Accordingly, one of
them approaches me, the only passenger aboard, except some Hindoos
returning home from a visit to the Colinderies, and asks me if I
understand anything about mules. I modestly own up to having reared,
broken, driven, and generally handled mules in the West, whereat the
officer is much pleased, and proceeds to unburden his mind concerning the
animals aboard the ship. "Fine young mules," he says they are, and in
reply to a question of what the government of India is importing mules
from Europe for, instead of raising them in India, he says he thinks they
must be intended for breeding purposes.

Understanding well enough that all this is quite natural and excusable in
a sea-faring man, I succeed in checking a rising smile, and gently, but
firmly, convince the officer of the erroneousness of this conclusion. The
officer is delighted to find a person possessing so complete a knowledge
of mules, and I am henceforth regarded as the oracle on this particular
subject, and the person to be consulted in regard to sundry things they
don't quite understand.

Between the two-inch plank and the awning overhead is a space of about
three feet; the mate says he is a trifle misty as to how a sixteen-hand
mule can leap through this small space without touching either the plank
or the awning; "and yet," he says, "there is hardly a mule on board that
has not performed this seemingly miraculous feat over and over again, and
a good many of them, make a practice of doing it every night." This
jumping mania makes him feel uneasy every night, the mate goes on to
explain, for fear some of the reckless and "light-heeled cusses" should
make a mistake and jump over the bulwarks into the sea; the bulwarks are
no higher than the plank, yet, while half the mules were found outside
the plank every morning, none of them had happened to jump outside the
bulwarks so far. Many of the mules, he says, were putting in most of
their time bulldozing their fellows, and doing their best to make their
life unbearable, and the downtrodden specimens seem so desperately scared
of the bulldozers that he expects to see some of them jump overboard from
sheer fright and desperation.

At this juncture we are joined by another officer, and the mate joyfully
informs him that I am a man who knows more about mules than anybody he
had ever talked mule with. His brother officer is delighted to hear this,
as he has been uneasy about the mules' appetites; they would devour all
the hay and coarse feed they could get hold of, but didn't seem to have
that constant hankering after grain that he had always understood to be
part and parcel of a horse's, and, consequently, a mule's, nature. He
knows something about horses, he says, for his wife keeps a pony in
Scotland, and the pony would leave hay at any time to eat oats and bran;
consequently, he thinks there must be something radically wrong with the
mules; and yet they seem lively enough--in fact, they seem d-d lively.

The two salts are also troubled somewhat in their minds at the marvellous
kicking powers and propensities of the mules. One says he could
understand an animal kicking to defend itself when attacked in the rear,
or when anything tickled its heels, but the mules aboard the Mandarin had
their heels in the air most of the time, and they battered away at one
another, and pounded the iron bulwarks, without the slightest
provocation. "Yes," chimes in the other officer, "and, more than that,
I've seen 'em throw their heels clear over the bulwarks, kicking at a
white-capped wave--if you'll believe me, sir, actually kicking at a
white-capped wave--that happened to favor them with a trifle of
spray." I say I have no doubt what the officer says is true, and not
necessarily exaggerated, and the officer says: "No, there is no
exaggeration about it. You'll see the same thing yourself before you've
been aboard twelve hours. There'll be h-ll to pay aboard this ship when
we strike the monsoons."

After explaining to the officers that there are not men enough, nor
bulldozing and tyrannical mules enough, aboard the Mandarin to scare the
timidest mule of the consignment into jumping over the bulwarks into the
sea; that it is quite natural for mules to prefer hay to bran and oats,
and that it is as natural and necessary for a four-year-old mule to kick
as it is to breathe, they thank me and say they shall sleep sounder
tonight than they have for a week. The heat, as we steam slowly down the
Red Sea, is almost overpowering at this time of the year, July. A
universal calm prevails; day after day we glide through waters smooth as
a mirror, resort to various expedients to keep cool, and witness fiery
red sunsets every evening. Every day the deck presents a scene of
animation, from the pranks and vagaries of our long-eared cargo.

All goes well with them, however, as we glide along the placid bosom of
the Red Sea; the oppressive heat has a wilting effect even on the riotous
spirits of the young mules. They still exhibit their mulish contempt for
the barriers reared so confidingly around them, and develop new and
startling traits of devilment every day; but it is not until we leave
Aden, and the long swells come rolling up from the monsoon region, that
the real fun begins. The Mandarin lurches and rolls awfully, making it
extremely difficult at times for any of the mules to keep their feet;
each mule seems to think his next neighbor responsible for the jostling
and crowding, and the kicking and squealing is continuous along both
lines. While battering away at each other, each mule seems to be at the
same time keeping a loose eye behind him for the oncoming waves and
swells that occasionally curl over the bulwarks and irrigate and irritate
them in the rear. Most of the mules seem capable of kicking at their
neighbors and at a wave at the same time; but it is when their undivided
attention is centred upon the crested billow of a swell that sweeps
alongside the ship and flings a white, foamy cataract at the business end
of each mule as it advances, that their marvellous heel-flinging capacity
becomes apparent. Each mule batters frantically away as the wave strikes
him, and the rattle of nimble and indignant hoofs on the iron bulwarks
follows the wave along from one end of the ship to the other.

One of the most arrogant and overbearing of the animals aboard is a
ginger-colored mule stationed almost amidships on the starboard side.
This mule soon develops the extraordinary capacity of casting its eye
over the heaving waste of waters and distinguishing the particular wave
that intends coming over the bulwarks long before it reaches the vessel.
The historical arrogance of Canute's followers in thinking the waves
would recede at his command, is nothing in comparison to the cheeky
assumption of this ginger mule. This mule will fold back its ears, look
wild, and raise its heels menacingly at a white-crested wave when the
wave is yet a hundred yards away; and on the second day out from Aden its
arrogance develops in such an alarming degree that it bristles up and
lifts its heels at waves that its experience and never-flagging
observation must have taught it wouldn't come half-way up the bulwarks!

Now and then a mule will be caught off his guard and be flung violently
to the deck, but the look of astonishment dies away as it nimbly regains
its feet, and gives place to angry attack on its neighbor and a
half-reproachful, half-apprehensive look at the sea. So far, however, the
mules seem to more than hold their own, and, all oblivious of what is
before them, they are comparatively happy and mischievous. But on the
night of the third day out from Aden, the full force of the monsoon
swells strikes the Mandarin, and, true to her character, she responds by
rolling and pitching about in the trough of the sea in a manner that
fills the mules with consternation, and ends in their utter collapse and
demoralization. Planks break and give way as the whole body of mules are
flung violently and simultaneously forward, and before midnight the mules
are piled up in promiscuous and struggling heaps, while tons of water
come on deck and wash and tumble them about in all imaginable shapes and
forms.

All hands are piped up and kept busy tying the mules' legs, to prevent
them regaining their feet only to be flung violently down again in the
midst of a struggling heap of their fellows. There is only one mule
actually dead in the morning, but the others are the worst used up,
discouraged lot of mules I ever saw. Mules that but the day before would
nearly jump out of their skins if one attempted to pat their noses, now
seem anxious to court human attention and to atone for past sins. Many of
them are pretty badly skinned up and bruised, and a few of them are
well-nigh flayed alive from being see-sawed back and forth about the
deck. It is not a pleasant picture to dwell upon, and it would be much
pleasanter to have to record that the mules proved too much for the
monsoon, but truth will prevail, and before we reach Karachi the monsoon
has scored fourteen mules dead and pretty much all the others more or
less wounded. But this is no discredit to the mules; in fact, I have
greater respect for the staying qualities of a mule than ever before,
since the monsoon only secures ten per cent of them for the sharks after
all.

A week from Aden, and fourteen days from Suez we reach Karachi. The tide
happens to be out at the time, and so we have to lay to till the
following morning, when the Mandarin crosses the bar and drops anchor
preparatory to unloading the now badly demoralized mules into lighters.

Karachi bids fair to develop into a very prominent sea-port in the near
future. The extension of the frontier into Beloochistan gives Karachi a
strategic importance as the port of arrival of troops and war material
from England. Not less is its importance from a purely commercial view;
for down the Indus Valley Railway to Karachi for shipment, come the
enormous and yearly increasing wheat exportations from the Punjab.

Thus far my precise plans have been held in abeyance until my arrival on
Indian soil. Whether I would find it practicable to start on the wheel
again from Karachi, or whether it would be necessary to proceed to the
northeast, I had not yet been able to find out. At any rate, it is always
best to leave these matters until one gets on the spot.

The result of my investigations at once proves the impossibility, even
were it desirable, of starting from Karachi. The Indus River is at flood,
inundating the country, which is also jungly and wild and without roads.
The heat throughout Scinde in July is something terrific; and to endeavor
to force a way through flooded jungle with a bicycle at such a time would
be little short of madness.

Under these conditions I decide to proceed by rail to Lahore, the capital
of the Punjab, whence, I am told, there will be a good road all the way
to Calcutta. As the crow flies, Lahore is nearer to Furrah than Karachi
is, so that my purpose of making a continuous trail will be better served
from that point anyhow.

It is an interesting jaunt by rail up the Indus Valley; but one's first
impression of India is sure to be one of disappointment by taking this
route. It is a desert country, taken all in all, this historic Scinde;
through which, however, the Indus Valley makes a narrow streak of
agricultural richness.

The cars on the railroad are provided with kus-kus tatties to mollify the
intense heat. They are fixed into the windows so that the passengers may
turn them round from time to time to raise the water from the lower half
to the top, whence it trickles back again and cools the heated air that
percolates through.

The heat increases as we reach Rohri and Sukhar, where passengers are
transferred by ferry across the Indus; the country seems a veritable
furnace, cracking and blistering with heat. At Sukhar our train glides
through some rich date-palms, the origin of which, legend says, were the
date-stones thrown away by the soldiers of Alexander the Great. They seem
to have taken root in congenial soil, anyway, for every tree is heavily
laden with ripe and ripening dates. Reclining under the date-trees or
wandering about are many dusky sons and daughters of Scinde, the latter
in bright raiment and with children in no raiment whatever. The heat, the
fruitful date-palms, and the lotus-eating natives combine to make up a
truly tropical scene.

Much of the country population seems to be nomadic, or semi-nomadic,
dwelling in tents with which they remove to the higher ground when the
Indus becomes inundated, and return again to the valley to cultivate and
harvest their crops. They seem a picturesque people mostly, sometimes
strangely incongruous in the matter of apparel, as, for instance, one I
saw wearing a white breech-cloth and a hussar coat. This was the whole
extent of his wardrobe, for he had neither shoes, shirt, nor hat.

Water-buffaloes are wading and swimming about in the overflowed jungle,
browsing off bulrushes and rank grass. Youngsters are sometimes seen
perched on the buffaloes' backs, taking care of the herd.

About Mooltan the aspect of the country changes to level, barren plain,
and this, as we gradually approach Lahore, gives place to a cultivated
country of marvellous richness. Here one first sees the matchless kunkah
roads, traversing the country from town to town, the first glimpse of
which is very reassuring to me.

It is July 28th when I at length find myself in Lahore. The heat is not
only well-nigh unbearable, but dangerous. Prickly heat has seized hold
upon me with a promptness that is anything but agreeable; the thermometer
in my room at Clarke's Hotel registers 108 deg. at midnight. A
punkah-wallah is indispensable night and day.

A couple of days are spent in affixing a new set of tires to my wheel and
seeing something of the lions of Lahore. The Shalamar Mango Gardens, a
few miles east of the city, and Shah-Jehan's fort, museum, etc., are the
regular things to visit.

In the museum is a rare collection of ancient Asiatic arms, some of which
throw a new light on the origin of modern firearms. Here are revolving
muskets that were no doubt used long before the revolving principle was
ever applied to arms in the West. But our narrative must not linger amid
the antiquities of Lahore, fascinating as they may, peradventure, be.



CHAPTER XIV.

THROUGH INDIA.

The heat is intense, being at the end of the heated term at the
commencement of the earliest monsoons. It is certainly not less than 130
deg. Fahr., in the sun, when at 3 p.m. I mount and shape my course toward
Amritza, some thirty-five miles down the Grand Trunk Road.

In such a temperature and beneath such a sun it behooves the discreet
Caucasian to dress as carefully for protection against the heat as he
would against the frost of an Arctic winter. The United States army
helmet which I have constantly worn since obtaining it at Fort Sydney,
Neb., has now to be discarded in favor of a huge pith solar topee an inch
thick and but little smaller than an umbrella. This overshadowing
head-dress imparts a cheerful, mushroom-like aspect to my person, and
casts a shadow on the smooth whitish surface of the road, as I ride
along, that well-nigh obliterates the shadow of the wheel and its rider.

Thus sheltered from the rays of the Indian sun, I wheel through the
beautifully shaded suburban streets of Lahore, past dense thickets of
fruitful plantains, across the broad switch-yard of the Scinde, Delhi &
Punjab Railway, and out on to the smooth, level surface of the Grand
Trunk Road. This road is, beyond a doubt, the finest highway in the whole
world. It extends for nearly sixteen hundred miles, an unbroken highway
of marvellous perfection, from Peshawur on the Afghan frontier to
Calcutta. It is metalled for much of its length with a substance peculiar
to the country, known as kunkah. Kunkah is obtained almost anywhere
throughout the Land of the Five Rivers, underlying the surface soil. It
is a sort of loose nodular limestone, which when wetted and rolled
cements together and forms a road-surface smooth and compact as an
asphaltum pavement, and of excellent wearing quality. It is a magnificent
road to bicycle over; not only is it broad, level, and smooth, but for
much of the way it is converted into a veritable avenue by spreading
shade-trees on either side. Far and near the rich Indian vegetation,
stimulated to wear its loveliest garb by the early monsoon rains, is
intensely green and luxuriant; and through the richly verdant landscape
stretches the wide, straight belt of the road, far as eye can reach, a
whitish streak, glaring and quivering with reflected heat.

The natives of the Punjab, the most loyal, perhaps, of the Indian races,
are beginning to regard the Christian Sabbath as a holiday, and happy
crowds of people in holiday attire are gathered at the Shalamar Mango
Gardens, a few miles out of Lahore. Beyond the gardens, I meet a native
in a big red turban and white clothes, en route to Lahore on a
bone-shaker. He is pedalling ambitiously along, with his umbrella under
his left arm. As we approach each other his swarthy countenance lights up
with a "glad, fraternal smile," and his hand touches his turban in
recognition of the mystic brotherhood of the wheel. There is a mysterious
bond of sympathy recognizable even between the old native-made
bone-shaker and its Punjabi rider and the pale-faced Ferenghi Sahib
mounted on his graceful triumph of Western ingenuity and mechanical
skill. The free display of ivories as we approach, the expectation of
fraternal recognition so plainly evident in his face, and the friendly
and respectful, rather than obsequious, manner of saluting, tell
something of that levelling tendency of the wheel we sometimes hear
spoken of.

The park-like expanse of country on either hand continues as mile after
mile is reeled off; the shady trees, the ruins, the villages, and the
roadside kos-minars, with the perfect highway leading through it all--what
more could wheelman ask than this. A wayside police-chowkee is now seen
ahead, a snug little edifice of brick beneath the sacred branches of a
spreading peepul. A six-foot Sikh, in the red-and-blue turban and neat
blue uniform of the Punjab soldier-police, stands at the door and
executes a stiff military salute as I wheel past. A row of conical white
pillars and a grass-grown plot of ground containing a few bungalows and
camping space for a regiment indicate a military reservation. These
spaces are reserved at intervals of ten or twelve miles all down the
Grand Trunk Road; the distance from each represents a day's march for
Indian troops in time of peace.

A bend in the road, and the bicycle sweeps over a substantial brick
bridge, spanning an irrigating canal large enough to float a three-masted
schooner. The bridge and the ditch convey early evidence of English
enterprise no less conspicuous than the road itself. Neatly trimmed banks
and a tropical luxuriance of overhanging vegetation give the long
straight reach of water the charming appearance of flowing through a
leafy tunnel. Under the stimulus of the monsoon rains and the more than
tropical heat, the soil seems bursting with fatness, and earth, air, and
water are teeming with life. The roadway itself is swarming with
pedestrians, trudging along in both directions; some there are with the
inevitable umbrellas held above their heads, but more are carrying them
under their arms, as though in lofty contempt of 130 deg. Fahr.

Vehicles jingle past by the hundred, filled with villagers who have been
visiting or shopping at Lahore or Amritza. Their light bamboo carts are
provided with numbers of little brass cymbals that clash together
musically in response to the motion of the vehicle; the occupants are
fairly loaded down with silver jewellery, and for color and
picturesqueness generally it is safe to assume that "not even Solomon in
all his glory was arrayed like one of these." The women particularly seem
to literally revel in the exuberance of bright coloring adorning their
dusky proportions, the profusion of jewellery, the merry jingle-jangle of
the cymbals, the more than generous heat, and the seeming bountifulness
of everything. These Sikh and Jatni merry-makers early impress me as
being particularly happy and light-hearted people.

Splendid wheeling though it be, it soon becomes distressingly apparent
that propelling a bicycle has now to be considered in connection with the
overpowering heat. Half the distance to Amritza is hardly covered, and
the riding time scarcely two hours, yet it finds me reclining beneath the
shade of a roadside tree more used up than five times the distance would
warrant in a less enervating climate. The greensward around me as I
recline in the shade is teeming with busy insects, and the trees are
swarming with the beautiful winged life of the tropical air. Flocks of
paroquets with most gorgeous plumage--blue, red, green, gold, and every
conceivable hue--flit hither and thither, or sweep past in whirring
flight.

Some of the native pedestrians pause for a moment and cast a wondering
look at the unaccustomed spectacle of a Sahib and a bicycle reclining
alone beneath a wayside tree. All salaam deferentially as they pass by,
but there is a refreshing absence of the spirit of obtrusion that
sometimes made life a burden among the Turks and Persians. In his disgust
at the aggressive curiosity of the Persians, Captain E, my companion from
Meshed to Constantinople, had told me, "You'll find, when you get to
India, that a Sahib there is a Sahib," and the strikingly deferential
demeanor of the natives I have encountered on the road to-day forcibly
reminds me of his remarks.

The myriads of soldier-ants crossing the road in solid phalanx or
climbing the trees, the winged jewels of the air flitting silently here
and there, the picturesque natives and their deferential salaams--all
these only serve to wean one's thoughts from the oppressive heat for a
moment. At times one fairly gasps for breath and looks involuntarily
about in forlorn search of some place of escape, if only for a moment,
from the stifling atmosphere. A feeling of utter lassitude and loss of
ambition comes over one; the importance of accomplishing one's object
diminishes, and the necessity of yielding to the pressure of the fearful
heat and taking things easy becomes the all-absorbing theme of the
imagination. A supreme and heroic effort of the will is necessary to
arouse one from the inclination to remain in the shade indefinitely,
regardless of everything else.

No sort of accommodation is to be obtained this side of Amritza, however,
so, waiting until the dreadful power of the sun is tempered somewhat by
his retirement beneath the trees, I resume my journey, making several
brief halts in deference to an overwhelming sense of lassitude ere
completing the thirty-five miles. Owing to these frequent halts, it is
after dark when I arrive at Amritza--a thoroughly wilted individual,
and suffering agonies from the prickly heat aggravated by the feverish
temperature superinduced by the exertion of the afternoon ride. My karki
suit and underclothes hold almost as much moisture as though I had just
been fished out of the river, and my dry-drained corporeal system is
clamorous for the wherewithal to quench the fires of its feverish heat as
I alight in the suburbs of Amritza and inquire for the dak bungalow.

A willing native guides me to a hotel where a smooth-mannered Parsee
Boniface accommodates Sahibs with supper, charpoy, and chota-hazari for
the small sum of Rs4; punkah-wallahs, pahnee-wallahs, sweepers, etc.,
extra. A cooling douche with water kept at a low temperature in the
celebrated porous bottles, a change of underclothing, and a punkah-wallah
vigorously engaged in creating an artificial breeze, soon change things
for the better. All these refreshing and renovating appliances, however,
barely suffice to stimulate one's energy up to the duty of jotting down
in one's diary a brief summary of the day's happenings.

The punkah of India is a long, narrow fan, suspended by cords from the
ceiling; attached to it is another cord which finds its way outside
through a convenient hole in the wall or window-frame. For the
magnificent sum of three annas (six cents) the hopeful punkah-wallah sits
outside and fills the room with soothing, sleep-inducing breezes for the
space of a day or night, by a constant seesawing motion of the string.
Few Europeans are able to sleep at night or exist during the day without
the punkah-wallah's services, for at least nine months in the year. The
slightest negligence on his part at night is sufficient to summon the
sleeper instantly from the land of dreams to the stern reality that the
dusky imp outside has himself dropped off to sleep. A pardonable
imprecation, delivered in loud, threatening tones; or, in the case of a
person vengefully inclined, or once too often made a victim, a stealthy
visit to the open door, a well-aimed boot, and the pendulous punkah again
swings to and fro, banishing the newly awakened prickly heat, and fanning
the recumbent figure on the charpoy with grateful breezes that quickly
send him off to sleep again.

A slight fall of rain during the night tempers somewhat the oppressive
heat, and the zephyrs of the prevailing monsoons blow stiffly against me
as I pedal southward in the early morning. The rain has improved rather
than injured the kunkah road, and it is, moreover, something of a toss-up
as to whether the adverse wind is advantageous or otherwise. On the one
hand it exacts increased muscular effort to ride against it, but on the
other, its beneficent services as a cooler are measurably apparent.

One needs only to traverse the Grand Trunk Road for a few days in order
to obtain a comprehensive idea of India's teeming population. Vehicles
and pedestrians throng the road again this morning, pouring into Amritza
as though to attend some great festival. The impression of some festive
occasion obtains additional color from parties of musicians who keep up a
perpetual tom-tom-ing on their drums as they trudge along; the object of
their noisiness is apparently to gratify their own love of the sounding
rattle of the drums.

At the police-chowkee of Ghundeala, ten miles from Amritza, a halt is
made for rest and a drink of water. To avoid trampling on the caste
prejudices, or the sanctimonious religious feelings of the natives,
everybody drinks from his hands, or from a cheap earthenware dish that
may afterward be smashed. The Sikhs and Mohammedans of the Punjab are far
more reasonable in this matter than are the Brahmans and other ultra-holy
idolaters of the country farther south. Among the Hindoos, where caste
prejudices exist throughout all the strata of society, to avoid the awful
consequences of touching their lips to a vessel out of which some
unworthy wretch a shade less holy has previously drunk, the fastidious
worshipper of Krishna, Vishnu, or Kamadeva always drinks from his hands,
unless possessed of a private drinking vessel of his own. The hands are
held in position to form a trough leading to the mouth; while an
assistant pours water in at one end, the recipient receives it at the
other. No little skill and care is required to prevent the water running
down one's sleeve: the average native seems to think the human throat a
gutter down which the water will flow as fast as he can pour it into the
hands.

The flowing yellow flood of Beas River, now at flood, and spreading
itself over the width of a mile, makes an impassable break in my road
soon after mid-day. A ferryboat usually plies across the stream, but by
reason of the broad area of overflow, and the consequent difficulty of
working it, it is moored up for the time being. Fortunately, the Scinde,
Punjab & Delhi Railroad crosses the river on a fine bridge near by, with
a regular ferry-train service in operation. Repairing thither, I find, in
charge of the ferry-train, an old Anglo-Indian engineer, who prevails
upon me to accept his hospitality for the night.

Hundreds of natives pass the night round about the railway-station,
waiting to cross the bridge on the first morning train. Nowhere else in
the world does a gathering of people present so picturesque and
interesting a sight as in sunny Hindostan. These people gathered about
the Beas River station look more like a company rigged out for the
spectacular stage than ordinary, everyday mortals attending to the
prosaic business of life. The nose-rings worn by many of the women are so
massive and heavy that silken cords are attached and carried to some
support on the head to relieve the nostril of the weight. The rims of the
ears are likewise grievously overburdened with ornaments. These
unoffending appendages are pierced with a number of holes all round the
rim from lobe to top; each hole contains a massive ring almost large and
heavy enough for a bracelet, the weight of which pulls the ear all out of
shape. Simple yet gaudy costumes prevail-garments of red, yellow, blue,
green, olive, and white, with gold tinsel, drape the graceful forms of
the dusky Sikh or Jatni belles; and not a whit less picturesque and
parti-colored are the costumes of their husbands, brothers, and
fathers-fine fellows mostly, tall, straight, military-looking men, with
handsome faces and fierce mustashios. Not a few thoroughbred Jats are
mingled in the crowd--the "stout-built, thick-limbed Jats," the
warlike race with the steel or silver discus surmounting their queer
pyramidal headdress. Under the independent government of their people by
the Gurus, or ruler-priests, of the last century, and particularly under
the regulations of the celebrated Guru Govind, every Sikh was considered
a warrior from his birth, and was always required to wear steel iri some
form or other about his person. The Jats, being the most enterprising and
warlike tribe of the territory acknowledging the rule of the Gurus and
the religious teachings of the Adi Granth as their faith, take especial
pride in commemorating the bravery and warlike qualities of their
ancestors by still wearing the distinguishing steel quoits on their
heads.

Seesum or banyan trees, shading twenty yards' width of luxuriant
greensward on either side of the road, and each and every tree
sheltering groups of natives, resting, idling, washing their clothes in
some silent pool, or tending a few grazing buffaloes, form a truly
Arcadian scene for mile after mile next day. These buffaloes are huge,
unwieldy animals with black, hairless hides, strong and heavy almost as
rhinoceroses. In striking contrast to them are the aristocratic little
cream-colored Brahmani cows, with the curious big "camel-hump" on their
withers. These latter animals are pampered and revered and made much of
among the Brahmans; mythology has it that Brahma created cows and
Brahmans at the same time, and the cow is therefore an object of worship
and veneration.

Taken all in all, the worship of the Hindoos has something eminently
rational about it; their worship is frequently bestowed upon some
tangible object that contributes directly to their material enjoyment. It
is very much like going back to the first principles of gratitude for
direct blessings received to worship "Mother Ganga," the noble stream
that brings down the moisture from the Himalayas to water their plains
and quicken into life their needy crops, or to worship the gentle bovine
that provides them daily with milk and cheese and ghee. Wonderful legends
are told of the cow in Hindoo mythology. The Ramayana tells of a certain
marvellous cow owned by a renowned hermit. The hermit being honored by a
visit from the king, who had with him a numerous retinue, was sorely
puzzled how to provide refreshments for his princely guests. The cow,
however, proved herself equal to the emergency, and--"Obedient to
her saintly lord, Viands to suit each taste outpoured. Honey she gave,
and roasted grain, Mead, sweet with flowers, and sugar-cane. Each
beverage of flavor rare, And food of every sort, were there. Hills of hot
rice, and sweetened cakes, And curdled milk, and soup in lakes. Vast
beakers flowing to the brim, With sugared drink prepared for him; And
dainty sweetmeats, deftly made, Before the hermit's guest were laid."

In all Brahman communities are sacred bulls, allowed to roam at their own
sweet will among the crops and help themselves.

Chowel and dood (rice-and-milk) is obtained at noon from a village
eating-stall; the rice is dished up to all customers in basins improvised
from a broad banyan-leaf, so that nobody's caste may be jeopardized by
handling spoons or dishes that others have touched. Most of the natives
manage to eat with their fingers, but they bring for the Sahib a stiff
green leaf which is bent into the form of a scoop and made to answer the
purpose of a spoon. The milk is served in valueless earthenware basins
that are tossed into the street and broken after being once used. There
is a regular caste of artisans in India whose hereditary profession is
the manufacture of this cheap pottery; almost every village has its
family of pottery-makers, who manufacture them for the use of the
community. The people are curious about the bicycle, and the Sahib's
peculiar manner of travelling without the usual native servant and eating
rice at an ordinary village stall. They are, however, far from being in
the least obtrusive or annoying; on the contrary, their respectfulness
and conservatism is something to admire; although they gather about the
bicycle in a compact ring, not a hand in all the company is meddlesome
enough to touch it.

Through the smooth kunkah-laid bazaars of Jullundar, so different from
the unridable bazaars we have heretofore been made familiar with, and I
wheel past the Queen's Gardens and into the cantonment along lovely
avenues and perfect roads. The detachment of Royal Artillery, whose
quarters my road leads directly past, is composed largely of the gallant
sons of Erin, and as I wheel into the cantonment, an artilleryman seated
on a eharpoy beneath a spreading neem-tree, sings out to his comrades,
"Be jabbers, bhoys; here's the Yankee phat's travellin' around the
worruld wid a bicycle."

I have with me a letter of introduction to an officer stationed at
Jullundar. Upon inquiry, however, I find that he is absent at Simla on
leave. Desirous of seeing something of Tommy Atkins in his Indian
quarters, I therefore accept an invitation to remain at the barracks of
the Royal Artillery until ready to resume my journey in the morning. At
this season of the year, an Indian cantonment presents the appearance of
a magnificent park. The barracks are large, commodious structures, built
with a view to securing the best results for the health and comfort of
the troops.

No soldiers in the world are so well fed, housed, and clothed as the
British soldiers in India, and none receive as much pay, except the
soldiers of the United States army. That they are justly entitled to
everything that can contribute to their happiness and welfare, goes
without saying. For actual service rendered, and the importance of the
responsibilities resting on their shoulders, it is little enough to say
that the British soldiers in India are entitled to a greater measure of
consideration than the soldiers of any other army in existence. This
little army of fifty or sixty thousand men is practically responsible for
the good behavior of one-sixth of the world's population, saying nothing
of affairs without. And in addition to this is the wearisome round of
existence in an Indian barrack, the enervating climate and the ennui, so
poisonous to the active Anglo-Saxon temperament.

After all that is said for or against the Anglo-Indian army, the
unprejudiced critic cannot fail to admit that they are the finest body of
fighting men in existence, a force against which it would be impossible
for an equal number of the soldiers of any other country to contend. That
the old dominant spirit of the British soldier is yet rampant as ever may
be seen, perhaps, plainer in the cantonments of India than anywhere else.
The manifest superiority of Tommy Atkins as a fighter stands out in bold
relief against the gentle populations of India, who regard him as the
very incarnation of war and warlike attributes. His own confidence in his
ability to whip all the multitudinous enemies of England put together, is
as great to-day as it ever was, and nothing would suit him better than a
campaign against the military colossus of the North in defence of the
British interests in India he now so faithfully guards.

The interest in my appearance is deepened by my recent adventures in
Afghanistan and letters partly descriptive of the same that have appeared
in late issues of the Indian press. A mile or so from the Artillery
barracks are the quarters of a detachment of the Connaught Rangers. A
couple of non-commissioned officers in the Rangers, I am happy to
discover, are wheelmen, and when the tidings of the Around the World
rider's arrival reaches them, they wheel over and endeavor to have me
become their guest. The Royal Artillery boys refuse to give their protege
up, however, and the rivalry is compromised by my paying the Rangers a
visit and then coming back to my first entertainers' quarters for the
night.

The evening is spent pleasantly in telling stories of camp-life in India
and Afghanistan. Some of the soldiers present have been recently
stationed at Peshawur and other points near the northern frontier, and
tell of the extraordinary precautions that had to be adopted to prevent
their rifles being stolen at night from the very racks within the
barrack-rooms where they were sleeping.

An officer at the cantonment claims to have cured himself of enlarged
spleen, the bane of so many Anglo-Indian officers, by daily riding on a
tricycle. He then disposed of it to advantage to a native gentleman who
had noted the marvellous improvement it had wrought in his health, and
who was also affected with the same disease. The native also cured
himself, and now firmly believes the tricycle possessed of some magic
properties.

Reliefs of punkah-wallahs are provided for the barracks, a number of
punkahs being connected so that one coolie fans the occupants of a dozen
or more charpoys. In talking about these useful and very necessary
servants, some of the comments indulged in by the gentleman who first
invited me into the barracks are well worth repeating: "Be jabbers, an'
yeez have to kape wide awake all night to swear at the lazy divils, in
orther to git a wink av shlape"--and--"The moment yeez dhrap
ashlape, yeez are awake," are choice specimens, heard in reference to the
punkah-wallahs' confirmed habit of dozing off in the silent watches of
the night.

The two wheelmen of the Connaught Rangers, accompany me five miles to the
Bane River ferry, in the cool of early morning. They would have escorted
me as far as Umballa, they say, had they known of my coming in time to
arrange leave' of absence. Twenty-five miles of continuously smooth and
level kunkah, bring me to Phillour, a Mohammedan town of several thousand
inhabitants. The fort of Phillour is a conspicuous object on the left of
the road; it was formerly an important depot of military supplies, and in
the time of Sikh independence was regarded by them as the key to the
Punjab. Since the mutiny it has dwindled in importance as a military
stronghold, but is held by a detachment of native infantry.

A mile or so from Phillour is a splendid girder railway bridge crossing
the River Sutlej. The overflow of the river extends for miles, converting
the depressions into lakes and the dry ditches into sloughs and creeks.
Resting under the shade of a peepul-tree, I while away a passing hour
watching native fishermen endeavoring to beguile the finny denizens of
the overflow into their custody. Their tactics are to stir up the water
and make it muddy for a space around, so that the fish cannot see them;
they then toss a flat disk of wood so that it falls with an audible
splash a few yards away. This manoeuvre is intended to deceive the fish
into thinking something eatable has fallen into the water. Woe betide the
guileless fish, however, whose innocent, confiding nature is thus imposed
upon, for "swish" goes a circular drop-net over the spot, from the meshes
of which the luckless captive tries in vain to struggle.

The River Sutlej has its source in the holy lake of Manas Saro-vara, in
Thibet's most mountainous regions, and for several hundred miles its
course leads through mighty canons, grand and rugged as the canons of the
Colorado and the Gunnison. It is on the upper reaches of the Sutlej that
the celebrated swing bridges called karorus are in operation. A karorus
consists of a bagar-grass or yak-hair rope, stretched from bank to bank,
across which passengers are pulled, suspended in a swinging chair or
basket. The karorus is also largely patronized by the swarms of monkeys
inhabitating the foot-hill jungles of the Himalayas; nothing could well
be more congenial to these festive animals than the Blondin-like
performance of crossing over some deep, roaring gorge along the swaying
rope of a karorus.

Like other rivers of the level Punjab plains, the Sutlej has at various
times meandered from its legitimate channel; eight miles south of its
present bed the large and flourishing city of Ludhiana once stood on its
bank. Ludhiana and its dak bungalow, provides refreshments and a three
hours' siesta beneath the cooling and seductive punkah, besides an
interesting and instructive tete-a-tete with a Eurasian civil officer
spending the day here. Among other startling confidences, this
olive-tinted gentleman declares that to him the punkah is unbearable, its
pendulous, swinging motion invariably making him "sea-sick."

Through a country of alternate sandy downs and grazing areas my road
leads at length through the territory of the Rajah of Sir-hind.
Picturesque and impressive fortresses, and high, crenellated stone walls
around the villages give the rajah's little dominion here a most decided
mediaeval appearance, and dark, dense patches of sugar-cane attest the
marvellous richness of the sandy soil, wherever water can be applied.
Moreover, as if to complete the interesting picture of a native prince's
rule, on the road is encountered a gayly dressed party in charge of some
youthful big-wig on a monster elephant. A thick, striped mattress makes a
soft platform on the elephant's broad back, and here the young voluptuary
squats as naturally as on the floor of his room. Some of the attendants
are dancing along before him, noisily knuckling tambourines and drums,
while others trudge alongside or behind. The elephant regards the bicycle
with symptoms of mild apprehension, and swerves slightly to one side.

The police-officer of Kermandalah chowkee, just off the Rajah of
Sirhind's territory, voluntarily tenders me the shelter of his quarters,
just as the sun is finishing his race for the day by painting the sky
with fanciful tints and streaks. The long, straight avenue which I have
wheeled down, for miles hereabout runs east and west. The sun, rotund and
fiery, sets immediately in the perspective of the avenue; and at his
disappearance there shoot from the same point iridescent javelins that
spread, fan-like, over the whole heavens. A sight never to be forgotten
is the long white road and the ribs of the glorious celestial fan meeting
together in the vista-like distance; and--oh, for the brush and
palette and genius of a Turner!--one of the rainbow-tinted javelins
spits the crescent moon and holds it to toast before the glowing sunset
fires, like a piece of green cheese.

The heat of the night is ominously suggestive of shed's popularly
conceived temperature, and, in the absence of the customary punkah and
nodding, see-sawing wallah, a villager is employed to sit beside my
charpoy and agitate the air immediately about my head with a big
palm-leaf fan. But sleep is next to impossible; the morning finds me
feeling but little refreshed and with a decided yearning to remain all
day long in the shade instead of taking to the road. Not a moment's
respite is possible from the oppressive heat; an hour in the saddle
develops a sensation of grogginess and an amphibian inclination for
wallowing in some road-side tank.

South of Sirhind the country develops into low, flat jungle, with much of
it partly overflowed. The road through these semi-submerged lowlands is
an embankment, rising many feet above the general level, and provided
with numerous culverts and bridges to prevent the damming of the waters
and the danger of washing away the road. The jungle is full of busy life.
The air is thick with the low, murmuring hum of busy insect-life, birds
shriek, whistle, call, hoot, peep, chirp, and sing among the intertwining
branches, and frogs croak hoarsely in the watery shallows beneath.
Noises, too, are heard, that would puzzle, I venture to say, many a
scholarly, book-wise and specimen-wise naturalist to define as coming
from the articulatory organs of bird, beast, or fish. The slow, measured
sweep of giant wings beating the air is heard above, and the next moment
a huge bustard floats down through the trees and alights in a moist
footing of jungle-grass and water.

A little Brahman village at the railway station of Rajpaira is reached in
the middle of the afternoon; but it provides little or nothing in the way
of accommodation for a European. The chow-keedar of the dak bungalow
blandly declares his inability to provide anything eatable for a Sahib,
and the Eurasian employes at the railway station are unaccommodating and
indifferent, owing to the travel-stained and ordinary appearance of my
apparel. The Eurasians, by the by, impress me far less favorably as a
race than do the better-class full-blood natives. It seems to be the
unfortunate fate of most mixed races to inherit the more undesirable
qualities of both progenitors, and the better characteristics of neither.
No less than the mongrel populations of certain West Indian islands, the
Spanish-speaking republics, and the mulattoes of the Southern States, do
the Eurasians of India present in their character eloquent argumentation
against the error of miscegenation.

A little Brahman village is anything but, an encouraging place for a
traveller to penetrate in search of eatables. A thin, yellow-skinned
Brahman, with a calico fig-leaf suspended from a cocoa-nut-fibre
waist-string, and the white-and-red tattooing of his holy caste on his
forehead, presides over a big lump of goodakoo (a preparation of tobacco,
rose-leaves, jaggeree, bananas, opium, and cardamom seed, used for
hookah-smoking), and his double performs the same office for sickly, warm
goats' milk and doughy, unleavened chup-patties. Uninviting as is the
prospect, one is compelled, by the total absence of any alternative, to
patronize the proprietor of the latter articles.

As I step inside his little shed-like establishment to see what he has,
he holds up his hands in holy trepidation at the unhallowed intrusion,
and begs me to be seated outside. My entrance causes as much
consternation as the traditional bull in the china shop, the explanation
of which is to be found in the fact that anything I might happen to touch
becomes at once defiled beyond redemption for the consumption of native
customers. With the weather wilting hot, doughy chuppaties and lukewarm,
unstrained, strong-tasting goats' milk can scarcely be called an
appetizing meal, and the latter is served in the usual cheap, earthenware
platter, which is at once tossed out and broken.

The natives of India are probably less concerned about their stomachs
than the people of any other country in the world. They seem to delight
in fasting, and growing thin and emaciated; their ordinary meal is a
handful of parched grain and a few swallows of milk or water. Among the
aesthetic Brahmans are many specimens reduced by habitual fasting and
general meagreness of diet to the condition of living skeletons; yet they
seem to enjoy splendid health, and live to a shrivelled old age. The
Brahman shop-keeper squats contentedly among his wares, passing the hours
in dreamy meditation and in consoling pipes of goodakoo. Nothing seems to
disturb his calm serenity, any more than the reposeful expression on the
countenance of a marble Buddha could be affected--nothing but the
approach of a Sahib toward his shop. It is interesting to observe the
mingled play of politeness, apprehension, and alarm in the actions of a
Brahman shopkeeper at the appearance of a blundering, but withal
well-meaning Sahib, among his wares. Knowing, from long experience, that
the Englishman would on no account wilfully injure his property or
trample wantonly on his caste prejudices, he is at his wits' end to
comport himself deferentially and at the same time prevent anything from
being handled. Money has to be placed where the Brahman can pick it up
without incurring the awful danger of personal contact with an unhallowed
kaffir.

The fifty miles, that from the splendid condition of the roads I have
thought little enough for the average day's run, is duly reeled off as I
ride into the splendid civil lines and cantonment of Um-balla at dusk.
But my few days' experience on the roads of India have sufficed to
convince me that fifty miles is entirely beyond the bounds of discretion.
It is, in fact, beyond the bounds of discretion to be riding any distance
in the present season here; fifty miles is overcome to-day only by the
exercise of almost superhuman will-power.

The average native, when asked for the dak bungalow, is quite as likely
to direct one to the post-office, the kutcherry, or any other government
building, from a seeming inability to discriminate between them. At the
entrance to Umballa one of these hopeful participants in the blessings of
enlightened government informs me, with sundry obsequious salaams, that
the dak bungalow is four miles farther. So thoroughly has my fifty-mile
ride used up my energy that even this four miles, on a most perfect road,
seems utterly impossible of accomplishment; besides which, experience has
taught that following the directions given would very likely bring me to
the post-office and farther away from the dak bungalow than ever.

Above the trees, not far away, is observed the weathercock of a
chapel-spire, plainly indicating the location of the European quarter.
Taking a branch road leading in that direction, I discover a party of
English and native gentlemen playing a game of lawn-tennis. Arriving on
the scene just as the game is breaking up, I am cordially invited to
"come in and take a peg." To the uninitiated a "peg" is a rather
ambiguous term, but to the Anglo-Indian its interpretation takes the
seductive form of a big tumbler of brandy and soda, a "long drink," than
which nothing could be more acceptable in my present fagged-out
condition. No hesitation is therefore made in accepting; and, under the
stimulating influence of the generous brandy and soda, exhausted nature
is quickly recuperated. While not an advocate of indiscriminate
indulgence in alcoholic stimulants, after an enervating ride through the
wilting heat of an Indian day I am convinced that nothing is more
beneficial than what Anglo-Indians laconically describe as a "peg."

This very opportune meeting results, naturally enough, in a pressing
invitation to stay over and recruit up for a day, a programme to which I
offer no objections, feeling rather overdone and in need of rest and
recuperation. Mine hosts are police-commissioners, having supervision
over the police-district of Uniballa. One of their number is on the eve
of departure for his summer vacation in the Himalayas and, in honor of
the event, several guests call round to partake of a champagne dinner,
the sparkling Pommery Sec being quaffed ad libitum from pint tumblers. At
the present time, no surer does water seek its level than the
after-dinner conversation of Anglo-Indian officials turns into the
discussion of the great depreciation of the silver rupee and its relation
to the exchange at home. As the rate of exchange goes lower and lower,
and no corresponding increase of salary takes place, the natural result
is a great deal of hardship and dissatisfaction among those who, from
various causes, have to send money to England. From the Anglo-Indians'
daily association with Orientals and their peculiarly subtle
understandings, it is perhaps not so surprising to find an occasional
flight of fancy brought to bear upon the subject that would do credit to
a professional romancer. One ingenious young civil officer present
evolves a deep, deep scheme to get even with the government for present
injustice that for far-reaching and persistent revenge speaks volumes for
the young gentleman's determination to carry his point. His brilliant
scheme is to retire on a pension at the proper time, live to the age of
eighty years, and then marry a healthy girl of sixteen. As the pension of
an Anglo-Indian government officer descends to his surviving widow, the
ingenuity and depth of this person's reasoning powers becomes at once
apparent. He proposes to take revenge for the present shortcomings of the
government by saddling it with a pension for a hundred years or more
after his retirement from active service.

Tusked and antlered trophies of the chase adorning the walls,
and panther and tiger skins scattered about the floor, attest the
police-commissioners' prowess with the rifle in the surrounding jungle.
The height of every young Englishman's ambition when he comes to India is
to kill a tiger; not until with his own rifle he has laid low a genuine
Tigris Indicus, and handed its striped pelt over to the taxidermist, does
he feel entitled to hold his chin at a becoming elevation and to indulge
in the luxury of talking about the big game of the jungle on an equality
with his fellows. Among the pets of the establishment are a youthful
black bear that spends much of its time in climbing up and down a post on
the lawn, a recently captured monkey that utters cries of alarm and looks
badly frightened when approached by a white person, and a pair of spotted
deer. These, together with several hunting dogs that delight in taking
wanton liberties with the bear and deer, form quite a happy, though not
altogether trustful family party in the grounds.

The day's rest does me a world of good, and upon resuming my journey the
voice of my own experience is augmented by the advice of my entertainers,
in warning me against overexertion and fatigue in so trying a climate as
India. It has rained during the night, and the early morning is signalled
by cooler weather than has yet been experienced from Lahore. Companies of
tall Sikhs, magnificent-looking fellows, in their trim karki uniforms and
monster turbans, are drilling within the native-infantry lines as I wheel
through the broad avenues of one of the finest cantonments in all India,
and English officers and their wives are taking the morning air on
horseback.

This splendid cantonment contains no less than seven thousand two hundred
and twenty acres and might well be termed a magnificent park throughout.

It is in the hilly tracts of the Umballa district that the curious custom
prevails of placing infants beneath little cascades of water so that the
stream of water shall steadily descend on the head. The cool water of
some mountain-rivulet is converted into a number of streams appropriate
for the purpose, by means of bamboo ducts or spouts. The infants are
brought thither in the morning by their mothers and placed in proper
position on beds of grass; the trickling water, pouring on their heads,
keeps the brain cool and is popularly supposed to be efficacious in the
prevention of many infantile diseases peculiar to the country. Children
not subjected to this curious hydropathic treatment are said to generally
die young, or grow up weaklings in comparison with the others.

A sudden freshet in the ordinarily shallow and partially dry bed of the
Donglee River tells of the heaviness of last night's rainstorm among the
hills, and compels a halt of a couple of hours until the rapidly
subsiding water gets low enough to admit of fording it with a native
bullock gharri. A branch of the same stream is crossed in a similar
manner, and yet a third river, a few miles farther, has to be crossed on
a curious raft made of a number of buoyant earthenware jars fixed in a
bamboo frame. A splendid bridge spans the swollen torrent of the more
formidable Markunda, and the well-metalled highway now cuts a wide
straight swath through inundated jungle. A big wild monkey, the first of
his species thus far encountered on the road, utters a shrill squeak of
apprehension at seeing the bicycle come bowling down the road, and in his
fright he leaps from the branches of a road-side tree into the shallow
water and escapes into the jungle with frantic leaps and bounds.

Travelling leisurely, and resting often, for thirty miles, the afternoon
brings me to the small town of Peepli, where a dak bungalow provides food
and shelter of a certain kind. The sleeping-accommodation of the dak
bungalow may hardly be described as luxurious; ants and other insects
swarm in myriads, and lizards drag their slimy length about the timber of
the walls and ceiling. The wild jungle encroaches on the village, and the
dak bungalow occupies an isolated position at one end. The jungle
resounds with the strange noises of animals and birds, and a friendly
native, who speaks a little English, confides the joyful information that
the deadly cobra everywhere abounds.

For the first time it is cool enough to sleep without the services of the
punkah-wallah, and not a soul remains about the dak bungalow after
nightfall. The night is dark and cloudy, but not by any means silent, for
the "noises of the night" are multitudinous and varied, ranging from the
tuneful croaking of innumerable frogs to the yelping chorus of the
jackals-the weird nocturnal concert of the Indian jungle, a musical
melange far easier to imagine than describe. About ten o'clock, out from
the gloomy depths of the jungle near by is suddenly heard the
unmistakable caterwauling of a panther, followed by that cunning
arch-dissembler's inimitable imitation of a child in distress. As though
awed and paralyzed by this revelation of the panther's dread presence,
the chirping and juggling and p-r-r-r-ring and yelping of inferior
creatures cease as if by mutual impulse moved, and the pitter-patter of
little feet are heard on the clay floor of my bungalow. The cry of the
forest prowler is repeated, nearer than before to my quarters, and
presently something hops up on the foot of the charpoy on which my
recumbent form is stretched; and still continues the pattering of feet on
the floor. It is pitchy dark within the bungalow, and, uncertain of the
nature of my strange visitant, I kick and "qu-e-e-k" at him and scare him
off; but, evidently terrorized by the appearance of the panther, the next
minute he again invades my couch.

To have one's room turned nolens volens into a place of refuge for timid
animals, hiding from a prowling panther which is not unlikely to follow
them inside, is anything but a desirable experience in the dark. Should
his panthership come nosing inside the bungalow, in his eagerness to
secure something for supper he might not pause to discriminate between
brute and human; and as his awe-inspiring voice is heard again,
apparently quite near by, I deem it expedient to warn him off. So
reaching my Smith & Wesson from under the pillow, I fire a shot up into
the thatched roof. The little intruders, whatever they may be, scamper
out of the bungalow, nor wait upon the order of their going, and a loud
scream some distance away a moment later tells of the panther's rapid
retreat into the depths of the jungle.

Soon a courageous bull-frog gives utterance to a subdued, hesitative
croak; his excellent example is quickly followed by others; answering
noises spring up in every direction, and ere long the midnight concert of
the jungle is again in full melody.

A comparatively cooling breeze blows across flooded jungle and rice-field
in the morning. The country around resembles a shallow lake from out of
which the rank vegetation of the jungle rears its multiform foliage; much
of the water is merely the temporary overflow of the Markunda, silently
moving through the shady forest, but over the more permanently submerged
areas is gathered a thick green scum. Not unlike a broad expanse of level
meadow-land do some of these open spaces seem, and the yellow, fallen
blossoms of the gum arabic trees, scattered thickly about, are the
buttercups spangling and beautifying the meadows.

Forty-eight miles from Umballa the Grand Trunk road leads through the
civil lines and past the towering walls of ancient Kurnaul. Formerly on
the banks of the river Jumna, Kurnaul is now removed several miles from
that stream, owing to the wayward trick of Indian rivers carving out for
themselves new channels during seasons of extraordinary flood. The city
is old beyond the records of history, its name and fame glimmering
faintly in the dim and distant perspective of ancient Hindostani legend
and mythical tales. Within the last few hundred years, Kurnaul has been
taken and retaken, plundered and destroyed, by Sikh, Rajput, Mogul, and
Mahratta freebooters, and was occupied in 1795 by the celebrated
adventurer George Thomas, who figured so largely in the military history
of India during the latter part of the last century. Here also was fought
the great battle between Nadir Shah and Mohammed Shah, the Emperor of
Delhi, that resulted in the defeat of the latter, the subsequent looting
of Delhi, and the carrying off to Persia of the famous peacock throne.
Splendid water-tanks, spreading banyans, feathery date-palms, and
toddy-palms render the suburbs of Kurnaul particularly attractive, these
days; but the place is unhealthy, being very low and the surrounding
country subject to the overflow that induces fever.

A letter of introduction from Umballa to Mr. D, deputy commissioner at
Kurnaul, insures me hospitable recognition and creature comforts upon
reaching the latter place at 9 a.m. Spending the heat of mid-day in Mr. D
's congenial society, recounting the incidents of my journey and learning
in return much valuable information in regard to India, I continue on my
journey again when the fiercest heat of the sun has subsided in favor of
the slightly more tolerable evening. The country grows more and more
interesting from various standpoints as my progression carries me
southward. Not only does it become intensely interesting by reason of its
historical associations in connection with the old Mogul Empire, but in
its peculiar aspect of Indian life to-day. Monkeys are hopping about all
over the place, moving leisurely about the roofs and walls of the
villages, or complacently examining one another's phrenological
peculiarities beneath the trees. About the streets, shops, and houses
these mischievous anthropoids are seen in droves, moving hither and
thither at their own sweet will, as much at home as the human occupants
and owners of the houses themselves.

Monkeys, being held sacred by the Hindoos, are allowed to remain in the
towns and villages unmolested, doing pretty much as they please.
Sometimes they swarm in such numbers that eternal vigilance alone keeps
them from devouring the fruit, grain, and other eatables displayed for
sale in front of the shops. When they get to be an insufferable nuisance,
although the pious Hindoos would suffer from their depredations even to
ruin rather than do them injury, they offer no objections to being
relieved of their charges by the government officials, so long as the
measures taken are not of a sanguinary nature. Sometimes the monkeys are
caught and shipped off in car-loads to some point miles away and turned
loose in the jungle. The appearance of a car-load of these exiles,
however, always excites the sympathies of the pious Hindoo, and instances
have been known when they have been stealthily liberated while the train
was waiting at some other town.

An effectual remedy has been recently discovered in cleaning out colonies
of the smaller varieties of monkeys and inducing them to remove somewhere
else, by introducing into their midst a certain warlike and aggressive
variety from somewhere in the Himalaya foot-hills. This particular race
of monkey, being a veritable anthropoidal Don Juan among his fellows,
when turned loose in a village commences making violent love to the wives
and sweethearts of the resident monkeys. The faithless fair, ever ready
for coquetry and flirtation, flattered beyond measure by the attentions
of the gallant stranger, forsake their first loves by the wholesale, and
bask shamelessly in the sunshine of his favor. The result is that the
outraged males, afraid to attack the warlike libertine so rudely
introduced into their peaceful community, gather up their erring spouses,
giddy daughters, and small children and betake themselves off forever.

Not far from Kurnaul I overtake an interesting party of gypsies, moving
with their bag and baggage piled on the backs of diminutive cows led by
strings. Numbers of the smaller children also bestride the gentle little
bovines, but the rest of the party are afoot. The ruling passion of the
Romany, the wide world over, asserts itself at my approach; brown-bodied
youngsters with sparkling, coal-black eyes race after the bicycle,
holding out their hands and begging, "pice, sahib, pice, pice."

Facsimile in cry and gesture almost, and in appearance, are these
Hindostani gypsies of their relatives in distant Hungary, who, fifteen
months before, raced alongside the bicycle, and begged for "kreuzer,
kreuzer." Many ethnologists believe India to have been the original
abiding place of the now widely scattered Romanies; certain it is that no
country and no clime would be so well adapted to their shiftless habits
and wandering tent-life as India. Their language, subjected to analysis,
has been traced in a measure to Sanscrit roots, and although spread
pretty much all over the surface of the globe, this strange, romantic
people are said to recognize one another by a common language, even
should the one hail from India and the other from the frozen North.
Certain professors claim to have discovered a connecting link between the
gypsies of the Occident and the Jats of the Punjab.

A boy tending a sacred cow undertakes to drive that worshipful animal out
of my way as he sees me come bowling briskly down the road. The bovine,
pampered and treated with the greatest deference and consideration from
her earliest calfhood, resents this treatment by making a short but
determined spurt after me as I sweep past. Whether the sacred cows of
India are spoiled by generations of overindulgence, or whether the
variety is constitutionally evil-tempered does not appear, but they one
and all take pugnacious exception to the bicycle. Spurting away from a
chasing Brahmani cow is an every-day experience.

Mr. D has kindly telegraphed from Kurnaul to Nawab Ali Ahmed Khan, a
hospitable Mohammedan gentleman at Paniput, apprising him of my coming.
More ancient even than Kurnaul, Paniput's vast antiquity is reputed to
extend back to the period of the great Pandava War described in the
Mahabharat, and supposed to have been fought nearly four thousand years
ago. The city occupies a commanding position to the left of the road, and
is rendered conspicuous by several white marble domes and minarets.

The nawab and another native gentleman, physician to the Paniput
Hospital, are seated in a dog-cart watching for my appearance, at a fork
in the road near one of the city gates. The nawab's place is a mile and a
half off the main road, but the smooth, level kunkah leads right up to
the fine, commodious bungalow, in which I am duly installed. A tepid
bath, prepared in deference to the nawab's anticipation of my preference,
is awaiting my pleasure, and from the moment of arrival I am the
recipient of unstinted attention. A large reclining chair is placed
immediately beneath the punkah, and a punkah-wallah, ambitious to please,
causes the frilled hangings of this desirable and necessary piece of
furniture to wave vigorously to and fro but a foot or eighteen inches
above my head. A smiling servant kneels at my feet and proceeds to knead
and "groom" the muscles of the legs. Judging from the attentions lavished
upon my pedal extremities, one might well imagine me to be a race-horse
that had just endeared himself to his groom and owner by winning the
Derby.

An ample supper is followed by a most refreshing sleep, and in the
morning, when ready to depart, my watchful attendants present themselves
with broad smiles and sheets of paper. Each one wants a certificate
showing that he has contributed to my comfort and entertainment, and
lastly comes the nawab himself and his bosom friend, the hospital doctor,
to bid me farewell and request the same favor. This certificate-foible is
one of the greatest bores in India; almost every native who performs any
service for a Sahib, whether in the capacity of a mere waiter at a native
hotel, or as retainer of some wealthy nabob--and not infrequently
the nabob himself, if a government official--wants a testimonial
expressing one's approval of his services. An old servitor who has
mingled much among Europeans must have whole reams of these useless
articles stowed away. What in the world they want with them is something
of a puzzler; though the idea is, probably, that they might come in
useful to obtain a situation some time or other.

South of Paniput the trees alongside the road are literally swarming with
monkeys; they file in long strings across the road, looking anxiously
behind, evidently frightened at the strange appearance of the bicycle.
Shinnying up the toddy-palms, they ensconce themselves among the foliage
and peer curiously down at me as I wheel past, giving vent to their
perturbation in excited cries. Twenty-five miles down the road, an hour
is spent beneath a grove of shady peepuls, watching the amusing antics of
a troop of monkeys in the branches. Their marvellous activity among the
trees is here displayed to perfection, as they quarrel and chase one
another from tree to tree. The old ones seem passively irritable and
decidedly averse to being bothered by the antics and mischievous activity
of the youngsters. Taking possession of some particular branch, they warn
away all would-be intruders with threatening grimaces and feints. The
youthful members of the party are skillful of pranks and didoes, carried
on to the great annoyance of their more aged and sedate relatives, who,
in revenge, put in no small portion of their time punishing or pursuing
them with angry cries for their deeds of wanton annoyance. One monkey,
that has very evidently been there many and many a time before on the
same thievish errand, with an air of amusing secrecy and roguishness,
slips quickly along a horizontal bough and thrusts its arm into a hole.
Its eyes wander guiltily around, as though expectant of detection and
attack--an apprehension that quickly justifies itself in the shape of a
blue-plumaged bird that flutters angrily about the robber's head, causing
it to beat a hasty retreat. Birds' eggs are the booty it expected to
find, and, me-thinks, as I note the number and activity of the
freebooters to whom birds' eggs would be most toothsome morsels, watchful
indeed must be the parent-bird whose maternal ambition bears its
legitimate fruit in this monkey-infested grove. In me the monkeys seem to
recognize a possible enemy, and at my first appearance hasten to hide
themselves among the thickest foliage; peering; cautiously down, they
yield themselves up to excited chattering and broad grimaces.

Peacocks, too, are strutting majestically about the greensward beneath
the trees, their gorgeous tails expanded, or, perched on some horizontal
branch, they awake the screaming echoes in reply to others of their
kindred calling in the jungle. In the same way that monkeys are regarded
and worshipped as the representatives of the great mythological
monkey-king Hanumiin, who assisted Kama, in his war with Havana for the
possession of Sita, so is the peacock revered and held sacred as the bird
upon which rode Kartikeya the god of war and commander-in-chief of the
armies of the Puranic gods. Thus do both these denizens of the jungle
obtain immunity from harm at the hands of the natives, by reason of
mythological association. English sportsmen shoot them, however, except
in certain specified districts where the government has made their
killing prohibitory, in deference to the religious prejudices of the
Hindoos. The Rajput warriors of Ulwar used to march to battle with a
peacock's feather in their turbans; they believe that the reason why this
fine-plumaged bird screams so loudly when it thunders is because it
mistakes the noise for the roll of war-drums. Large, two-storied
passenger-vans, drawn sometimes by one camel and sometimes two, are now
frequently encountered; they are regular two-storied cages, with iron
bars, like the animal-vans in a menagerie. The passengers squat on the
floors, and when travelling at night, or through wild districts, are
locked in between stages to guard against surprise and robbery.



CHAPTER XV.

DELHI AND AGRA.

From the police-thana of Rai, where the night is spent, to Delhi, the
character of the road changes to a mixture of clay and rock, altogether
inferior to kunkah. The twenty-one miles are covered, however, by 8.30
a.m., that hour finding me wheeling down the broad suburban road to the
Lahore Gate amid throngs of country people carrying baskets of mangoes,
plantains, pomegranates, and other indigenous products into the markets
of the old Mogul capital. Massive archways, ruined forts and serais,
placid water-tanks, lovely gardens, feathery toddy-palms,
plantain-hedges, and throngs of picturesque people make the approach to
historic Delhi a scene long to be remembered.

Entering the Lahore Gate, suitable accommodation is found at Northbrook
Hotel, a comfortable hostelry under native management near the Moree
Gate, and overlooking from its roof the scenes of the most memorable
events connected with the siege of Delhi in 1857. Letters are found at
the post-office apprising me of a bicycle-camera and paper negatives
awaiting my orders at the American Consulate at Calcutta, and it behooves
me to linger here for a few days until its arrival in reply to a
telegram. No more charming spot could possibly be found to linger in than
the old Mogul capital, with its wondrous wealth of historical
associations, both remotely antique and comparatively modern, its
glorious monuments of imperial Oriental splendor and its reminiscences of
heroic deeds in battle.

A letter of introduction to an English gentleman, brought from Kurnaul,
secures me friends and attention at once; in the cool of the evening we
drive out together in his pony-phaeton along the historic granite ridge
that formed the site of the British camp during the siege. The operations
against the city were conducted mostly from this ridge and the
intervening ground; on the ridge itself is erected a beautiful red
granite monument memorial, bearing the names of prominent officers and
the numbers of men killed, the names of the regiments, etc., engaged in
the siege and assault. Here, also, is Hindoo Rao's house, and ancient
obelisks.

East of the Moree Gate is the world-famed Cashmere Gate--world-famed
in connection with the brilliant exploit of the little forlorn hope that,
on the morning of September 14, 1857, succeeded, in the face of a deadly
fusillade from the, walls and the wicket gates, in carrying bags of
gunpowder and blowing it up. Through the opening thus effected poured the
eager troops that rescued the city from ten times their own number of
mutineers and turned the beams of the scale in which the fate of the
whole British Indian Empire was at the moment balanced. Perhaps in all
the world's battles no more heroic achievement was ever attempted or
carried out than the blowing up of the Cashmere Gate. "Salkeld laid his
bags of powder, in the face of a deadly fire from the open wicket not ten
feet distant; he was instantly shot through the arm and leg, and fell
back on the bridge, handing the port-fire to Sergeant Burgess, bidding
him light the fuse. Burgess was instantly shot dead in the attempt.
Sergeant Carmichael then advanced, took up the port-fire, and succeeded
in firing the fuse, but immediately fell, mortally wounded. Sergeant
Smith, seeing him fall, advanced at a run, but finding that the fuse was
already burning, flung himself into the ditch."

Difficult, indeed, would it be to crowd more heroism into the same number
of words that I have here quoted from Colonel Medley, an eye-witness of
the affair. Between the double archways of the gate is a red-sandstone
memorial tablet, placed there by Lord Napier of Magdala, upon which is
inscribed the names, rank, and regiment of those who took part in the
forlorn hope. All is now peaceful and lovely enough, but the stone
bastions and parapets still remain pretty much as when the British
batteries ceased their plunging rain of shot and shell thirty years ago.

Not far from the Moree Gate is the tomb of General Nicholson, one of the
most conspicuous and heroic characters of that trying period, and
generally regarded as the saviour of Delhi. Enshrined in the hearts of
the brave Sikhs no less than in the hearts of his own countrymen, his
tomb has become a regular place of pilgrimage for the old Sikh warriors
who fought side by side with the English against the mutineers.

It has been my good fortune, I find, to arrive at the old Mogul capital
the day before the commencement of an annual merrymaking, picnicking, and
general holiday at the celebrated Kootub Minar. The Kootub Minar is about
eleven miles out of Delhi, situated amid the ruins of ancient Dilli
(Delhi), the old Hindoo city from which the more modern city takes its
name. It is conceded to be the most beautiful minar-monument in the
world, and ranks with the Taj Mahal at Agra as one of the beautiful
architectural triumphs peculiar to the splendid era of Mohammedan rule in
India, and which are not to be matched elsewhere. The day following my
arrival I conclude to take a spin out on my bicycle as far as the Kootub,
and see something of it, the ruins amid which it stands, and the Hindoos
in holiday attire. I choose the comparative coolness of early morning for
the ride out; but early though it be, the road thither is already
swarming with gayly dressed people bent on holiday-making. The road is a
worthy offshoot of the Grand Trunk, not a whit less smooth of surface,
nor less lovely in its wealth of sacred shade-trees. Moreover, it passes
through a veritable wilderness of ruined cities, mosques, tombs, and
forts the whole distance, and leads right through the magnificent remains
of the ancient Hindoo city itself.

The Kootub Minar is found to be a beautifully fluted column, two hundred
and forty feet high, and it soars grandly above the mournful ruins of old
Dilli, its hoary wealth of crumbled idol temples, tombs, and forts. The
minar is supposed to have been erected in the latter part of the twelfth
century to celebrate the victory of the Mohammedans over the Hindoos of
Dilli. The general effect of the tall, stately Mohammedan monument among
the Hindoo ruins is that of a proud gladiator standing erect and
triumphant amid fallen foes. At least, that is how it looks to me, as I
view it in connection with the ruins at its base and ponder upon its
history. A spiral stairway of three hundred and seventy-five steps leads
to the summit. A group of natives are already up there, enjoying the cool
breezes and the prospect below. In the comprehensive view from the summit
one can read an instructive sermon of centuries of stirring Indian
history in the gray stone-work of ruined mosques and tombs and fortresses
and pagan temples that dot the valley of the Jumna hereabout almost as
thickly as the trees.

Strange crowds have congregated on this rare old historic camping-ground
in ages past. It was a strange crowd, gathered here for a strange
purpose, on that traditional occasion, when Rajah Pithora, in the fourth
century of the Christian era, had the celebrated iron shaft dug up to
satisfy his curiosity as to whether it had transfixed the subterranean
snake-god Vishay. There is a strange crowd gathered here to-day, too; I
can hear their shouting and their tom-toming come floating up from among
the ruins and the dark-green foliage as I look down from my beautiful
eyrie on top of the Kootub upon their pygmy forms, thronging the walks
and roads, brown and busy as swarms of ants.

It is a vast concourse of people, characteristic of teeming India; but
they are not, on this occasion, congregated to witness pagan rites and
ceremonies, nor to encourage iconoclastic Moolahs in smashing Hindoo gods
and chipping offensive Hindoo carvings off their temples; they are a
mixed crowd of Hindoos, Sikhs, and Mohammedans, who, having to some
extent buried the hatchet of race and religious animosities under the
just and tolerant rule of a Christian government, have gathered here amid
the ruins and relics of their respective past histories to enjoy
themselves in innocent recreation.

Descending from the Kootub Minar, I am resting beneath the shade of the
dak bungalow hard by, when a gray-bearded Hindoo approaches, salaams, and
hands me a paper. The paper is a certificate, certifying that the bearer,
Chunee Lai, had performed before Captain Somebody of the Fusileers, and
had afforded that officer excellent amusement. Before I have quite
grasped the situation, or comprehended the purport of the tendered
missive, several men and boys deposit a miscellaneous assortment of boxes
and baskets before me and range themselves in a semicircle behind them.
The old fellow with the certificate picks out a small box and raises the
lid; a huge cobra thrusts out its hideous head and puffs its hooded neck
to the size of a man's hand. It then dawns upon me that the gray-bearded
Hindoo is a conjurer; and being curious to see something of Indian
prestidigitation, I allow him to proceed.

Many of the tricks are quite commonplace and transparent even to a
novice. For example, he mixes red, yellow, and white powders together in
a tumbler of water and swallows the mixture, making, of course, a wry
face, as though taking a dose of bitter medicine. He then calls a boy
from among the by-standers and blows first red powder, then yellow, then
white into the youngster's face. I judge he had small bags of dry powder
stowed away in his cheek. He performs his tricks on the bare ground,
without any such invaluable adjunct as the table of his European rival,
and some of them, viewed in the light of this disadvantage, are indeed
puzzling. For instance, he fills an ordinary tin pot nearly full of
water, puts in a handful of yellow sand and a handful of red powder, and
thoroughly stirs them up; he then thrusts his naked hand into the water
and brings forth a handful of each kind, dry as when he put them in. A
simple enough trick, no doubt, to the initiated; but the old conjurer's
arm is bared, and the tin is, as far as I can discover, but an ordinary
vessel, and the trick is performed without any cover, table, or cloth.
After this he expectorates a number of glass marbles, and ends with a
couple of solid iron jingal balls that he can scarce get out of his
mouth. There is no mistake about their being of solid iron, and the old
conjurer opens his mouth and lets me see them emerging from his throat.
From what I see him do as the final act, and which there is no deception
about, I am inclined to think the old fellow has actually acquired the
power of swallowing these jingal balls and reproducing them at pleasure.

After a number of tricks too familiar to justify mentioning here he
covers his head with a cloth for a minute, and then reappears with brass
eyeballs, with a small hole bored in the centre of each to represent the
pupils; and his mouth is rendered hideous with a set of teeth belonging
to some animal. In this horrible make-up the old Hindoo tom-toms on a
small oblong drum, while one of his assistants sings in broken English
"Buffalo Gals." He then openly removes the false teeth, and taking out
the brass eyeballs, he casts them jingling on the gravel at my feet. They
are simply hemispheres of sheet-brass, and fitted closely over the
eyeballs, beneath the lids. The conjurer's eyes water visibly after the
brass covers are removed; and well enough they might; there is no
sleight-of-hand about this--it is purely an act of self-torture.

In most of the conjuring tricks the conjurer would purposely make a
partial failure in the first attempt; an assistant would then impart the
necessary power by muttering cabalistic words over a monkey's skull.

A mongoose had been tethered to a stake at the beginning of the
performance, and the little ferret-like enemy of the snake family kept
tugging at his tether and sniffing suspiciously about whenever snakes
appeared in the conjurer's manipulations. He bad promised me a fight
between the mongoose and a snake, and before presenting his little brass
bowl for backsheesh he holds out a four-foot snake toward the eager
little animal at the stake. The snake writhes and struggles to get away,
evidently badly scared at the prospect of an encounter with the mongoose;
but the man succeeds in depositing him within his adversary's reach. The
mongoose nabs him by the neck in an instant, and would no doubt soon have
finished him; but the assistants part them with wire crooks, putting the
snake in a basket with several others and the mongoose in another.

While watching the interesting performances of the Hindoo, conjurers I
have left the bicycle at a little dak bungalow near the old
entrance-gate. From the commanding height of the Kootub-one could see
that the Delhi road is a solid mass of vehicles and pedestrians (how the
people in teeming India do swarm on these festive occasions!). It looks
impossible to make one's way with a bicycle against that winding stream
of human beings, and so, after wandering about a while among the striking
and peculiar colonnades of the ancient pagan temples, paying the
regulation tribute of curiosity to the enigmatic iron column, and doing
the place in general, I return to the bungalow, thinking of starting back
to Delhi, when I find that my "cycle of strange experiences" has
attracted to itself a no less interesting gathering than a troupe of
Nautch girls and their chaperone. The troupe numbers about a dozen girls,
and they have come to the merry-making at the Kootub to gather honest
shekels by giving exhibitions of their terpsichorean talents in the
Nautch dance.

I had been wondering whether an opportunity to see this famous dance
would occur during my trip through India; and so when four or five of the
prettiest of these dusky damsels gather about me, smile at me winsomely
ogle me with their big black eyes, smile again, smile separately, smile
unanimously, smile all over their semi-mahogany but nevertheless not
unhandsome faces, and every time displaying sets of pearly teeth, what
could I do, what could anyone have done, but smile in return?

There is no language more eloquent or more easily understood than the
language of facial expression. No verbal question or answer is necessary.
I interpret the winsome smiles of the Nautchnees aright, and they
interpret very quickly the permission to go ahead that reveals itself in
the smile they force from me. Eight of the twelve are commonplace girls
of from fourteen to eighteen, and the other four are "dark but
comely"--quite handsome, as handsomeness goes among the Hindoos.
Their arms are bare of everything save an abundance of bracelets, and the
upper portion of the body is rather scantily draped, after the manner and
custom of all Hindoo females; but an ample skirt of red calico reaches to
the ankle. Rings are worn on every toe, and massive silver anklets with
tiny bells attached make music when they walk of dance. They wear a
profusion of bracelets, necklaces of rupees, head-ornaments, ear-rings,
and pendent charms, and a massive gold or brass ring in the left nostril.
The nostril is relieved of its burden by a string that descends from a
head-ornament and takes up the weight.

The Nautch girls arrange themselves into a half-circle, their scarlet
costumes forming a bright crescent, terminating in a mass of spectators,
whose half-naked bodies, varying in color from pale olive to mahogany,
are arrayed in costumes scarcely less showy than the dancers. The
chaperone and eight outside girls tom-tom an appropriate Nautch
accompaniment on drums with their fingers, the four prettiest girls
advance, and favoring me with sundry smiles, and coquettish glances from
their bright black eyes, they commence to dance.

An idea seems to prevail in many Occidental minds that the Nautch dance
is a very naughty thing; but nothing is further from the truth. Of course
it can be made naughty, and no doubt often is; but then so can many
another form of innocent amusement. The Nautch dance is a decorous and
artistic performance when properly danced; the graceful motions and
elegant proportions of the human form, as revealed by lithe and graceful
dancers, are to be viewed with an eye as purely artistic and critical as
that with which one regards a Venus or other production of the sculptor's
studio.

The four dancers take the lower hem of their red garment daintily between
the thumb and finger of the right hand, spreading its ample folds into
the figure of an opened fan, by bringing the outstretched arm almost on a
level with the shoulder. A mantle of transparent muslin, fringed with
silver spangles, is worn about the head and shoulders in the same
indescribably graceful manner as the mantilla of the Spanish senorita.
Raising a portion of this aloft in the left hand, and keeping the "fan"
intact with the right, the dancers twirl around and change positions with
one another, their supple figures meanwhile assuming a variety of
graceful motions and postures from time to time. Now they imitate the
spiral movement of a serpent climbing around and upward on an imaginary
pole; again they assume an attitude of gracefulness, their dusky
countenances half hidden in seeming coquetry behind the muslin mantle,
the large red fan waving gently to and fro, the feet unmoving, but the
undulating motions of the body and the tremor of the limbs sufficing to
jingle the tiny ankle-bells. On the whole, the Nautch dance would be
disappointing to most people witnessing it; its fame leads one to expect
more than it really amounts to.

Before starting back to Delhi, I take a stroll through the adjacent
village of Kootub, a place named after the minar, I suppose. The crooked
main street of the village of Kootub itself presents to-day a scene of
gayety and confusion that beggars description. Bunting floats gayly from
every window and balcony, in honor of the festival, and is strung across
the street from house to house. Thousands of globular colored lanterns
are hanging about, ready to be lighted up at night. The streets are
thronged with people in the gayest of costumes, and with vehicles the
gilt and paint and glitter of which equal the glittering wagons and
chariots of a circus parade at home.

The balconies above the shops are curtained with blue gauze, behind which
are seen numbers of ladies, chatting, eating fruits and sweetmeats, and
peeping down through the semi-transparent screens upon the animated scene
in the streets. On the stalls, choice edibles are piled up by the bushel,
and busy venders are hawking fruits, sweets, toddy, and all imaginable
refreshments about among the crowds. Vacant lots are occupied by the
tents of visiting peasants, and in out-of-the-way corners acrobatics,
jugglery, and Nautch-dancing attract curious crowds.

The incoming tide of human life is at its flood as I start back to Delhi
by the same road I came. Here one gets a glimpse of the real gorgeousness
of India without seeking for it at the pageants of princes and rajahs.
Small zemindars from outlying villages are bringing their wives and
daughters to the festivities at the Kootub in circusy-looking
bullock-chariots covered with gilt and carvings, and draped and twined
with parti-colored ribbons. Some of these gaudy turn-outs are drawn by
richly caparisoned, milk-white oxen, with gilded horns. Cymbals and
sleigh-bells galore keep up a merry jingle, and tom-toming parties make
their noisy presence known all along the line.

Still more gorgeous and interesting than the gilded ox-gharries of the
ordinary zemindars are miniature chariots drawn by pairs of well-matched,
undersized oxen covered with richly spangled trappings, and with horns
curiously gilded and tipped with tiny bells. These are the vehicles of
petted young nabobs in charge of attendants: tiny oxen with gorgeous
trappings, tiny chariots richly gilded and carved and painted, tiny
occupants richly dressed and jewelled. Troupes of Nautchnees add their
picturesque appearance to the brilliant throngs, and here and there is
encountered a holy fakir, unkempt and unwashed, having, perchance,
registered a vow years ago never more to apply water to his skin, his
only clothing a dirty waist-cloth and the yellow clay plastered on his
body. Long strings of less pretentious bullock-gharries almost block the
roadway, and people constantly dodging out from behind them in front of
my wheel make it extremely difficult to ride.

Several days are passed at Delhi, waiting the arrival of a small
bicycle-camera from Calcutta, which has been forwarded from America. Most
of this time is spent in the pleasant occupation of reclining in an
arm-chair beneath the punkah, the only comfortable situation in Delhi at
this season of the year. Nevertheless, I manage to spin around the city
mornings and evenings, and visit the famous fort and palace of Shah
Jehan.

In the magnificent--magnificent even in the decline of its grandeur
--fort-palace of the Mogul Emperor named, British soldiers now find
comfortable quarters. This fort, together with modern Delhi (the real
Indian name of Delhi is Shahjehanabad, after the emperor Shah Jehan, who
had it built), is but about two hundred and fifty years old, the entire
affair having been built to gratify the Mogul ambition for founding new
capitals.

Although so modern compared with other cities near by, both city and
palace have gone through strangely stirring and tragic experiences, and
events have happened in the latter that, although sometimes trivial in
themselves, have led to momentous results.

In this palace, in 1716, was given permission, by the Emperor Furrokh
Seeur, to the Scotch physician, Gabriel Hamilton, the privileges that
have gradually led up to the British conquest of the whole peninsula. As
a reward for professional services rendered, permission to establish
factories on the Hooghly was given; the Presidency of Fort William sprung
therefrom, and at length the British Indian Empire. Twenty years after
this, the terrible Nadir Shah, from Persia, occupied the palace, and held
high jinks within while his army slaughtered over a hundred thousand of
the inhabitants in the streets. When this red-handed marauder took his
departure he carried away with him booty to the value of eighty millions
sterling in the value of that time. Among the plunder was the famous
Peacock Throne, alone reputed to be worth six million pounds. This
remarkable piece of kingly furniture is said to be in the possession of
the Shah of Persia at the present time. It is very probable, however,
that only some unique portion of the throne is preserved, as it could
hardly have been carried back to Persia by Nadir intact. This throne is
thus described by a writer: "The throne was six feet long and four broad,
composed of solid gold inlaid with precious stones. It was surmounted by
a canopy of gold, supported on twelve pillars of the same material.
Around the canopy hung a fringe of pearls; on each side of the throne
stood two chattahs, or umbrellas, symbols of royalty, formed of crimson
velvet richly embroidered with gold thread and pearls, and with handles
of solid gold, eight feet long, studded with diamonds. The back of the
throne was a representation of the expanded tail of a peacock, the
natural colors of which were imitated by sapphires, rubies, emeralds, and
other gems." This Peacock Throne was the envy and admiration of every
contemporary monarch who heard of it, and was undoubtedly one of the
chief elements in exciting the cupidity of the outer world that finally
ended in the dissolution of the Mogul Empire.

Less than ten years after the departure of Nadir Shah, Ahmud Khan
advanced with an army from Cabool, and took pretty much everything of
value that the Khorassani freebooter had overlooked, besides committing
more atrocities upon the population. At the end of another decade an army
of Mahrattas took possession, and completed the spoilation by ripping the
silver filigree-work off the ceiling of the Throne-room. Not long after
this, yet another adventurer took a hand in the work of destruction,
tortured the members of the imperial family, and put out the eyes of the
helpless old emperor, Shah Alum. Here Lord Lake's cavalcade arrived, too,
in 1803, and found the blinded chief of the royal house of Timour and his
magnificent successors, who built Delhi and Agra, seated beneath the
tattered remnants of a little canopy, a mockery of royalty, with every
external appearance of misery and helplessness And lastly, here, in May,
1857, the last representative of the great Moguls, a not unwilling tool
in the hands of the East India Company's mutinous soldiery, presided over
the butchery of helpless English women and children.

It is difficult to realize that Delhi has been the theatre of such a
stirring and eventful history, as nowadays one strolls down the Chandni
Chouk and notes the air of peace and contentment that pervades the whole
city. It seems quite true, as Edwin Arnold says in his "India Revisited,"
that Derby is now not more contentedly British than is Delhi. Whatever
may be the faults of British rule in India, no impartial critic can say
that the people are not in better hands than they have ever been before.
One of the most interesting objects in the city is the Jama Mesjid, the
largest mosque in India, and the second-largest in all Islam, ranking
next to St. Sophia at Constantinople. Broad flights of red sandstone
steps lead up to handsome gateways surmounted by rows of small milk-white
marble domes or cupolas. Inside is a large quadrangular court, paved with
broad slabs of sandstone; occupying the centre of this is a white marble
reservoir of water. The mosque proper is situated on the west side of the
quadrangle, an oblong structure two hundred feet long by half that many
in width, ornamented and embellished by Arabic inscriptions and three
shapely white marble domes. Very elegant indeed is the pattern and
composition of the floor, each square slab of white marble having a
narrow black border running round it, like the border of a mourning
envelope. Very charming, also, are the two graceful minarets at either
end, one hundred and thirty feet high, alternate strips of white marble
and red sandstone producing a very pretty and striking effect.

In the northeastern corner of the quadrangle is a small cabinet
containing the inevitable relics of the Prophet. Three separate guides
have accumulated at my heels since entering the gate, and now a fourth,
ancient and hopeful, appears to unravel, for the Sahib's benefit, the
mysteries of the little cabinet. Unlocking the door, he steps out of his
slippers into the entrance, stooping beneath an iron rail that further
bars the entrance.

From an inner receptacle he first produces some ancient manuscript, which
he explains was written by the same scribes who copied the Koran for
Mohammed's grandson. Putting these carefully away, the Ancient and
Hopeful then unwraps, very mysteriously, a handkerchief, and reveals a
small oblong tin box with a glass face. The casket contains what upon
casual observation appears to be a piece of bark curling up at the edges;
this, I am informed, however, is nothing less than the sole of one of
Mohammed's sandals. Putting away this venerable relic of the great
founder of Islam, the old Mussulman assumes a look of profound importance
and mystery. One would think, from his expression and manners, that he
was about to reveal to the sacrilegious gaze of an infidel nothing less
than the Prophet's fifth rib or the parings from his pet corn. Instead of
these he exhibits a flat piece of rock bearing marks resembling the shape
of a man's foot--the imprint of Mohammed's foot, miraculously made.
To one whose soulful gaze has been enraptured with an imprint of the
first Sultan's hand on the wall of St. Sophia, and the mosaic figure of
the Virgin Mary persistently refusing to be painted out of sight on the
dome of the same mosque, this piece of rock would scarcely seem to
justify the vast display of reverence that is evidently expected of all
visitors by the Ancient and Hopeful.

But perhaps it is on account of the place of honor it occupies
immediately preceding what is undoubtedly a very precious relic indeed, a
relic that fills the worthy custodian with mystery and importance. Or,
perchance, mystery and importance have been found, during his long and
varied experience with the unsophisticated tourist, excellent things to
increase the volume of importance attached to the exhibited articles, and
the volume of "pice" in his exchequer. At any rate, the Ancient and
Hopeful assumes more mystery and importance than ever as he uncovers a
second tin casket with a glass front. Glued to the glass, inside, is a
single coarse yellow hair about two inches long; the precious relic,
which has a suspicious resemblance to a bristle, is considered the gem of
the collection, being nothing less than a hair from the Prophet's
venerable mustache. Mohammedans swear by the beard of the Prophet, just
as good Christians swear by "the great horned spoon," or by "great
Caesar's ghost," so that the possession of even this one poor little
hair, surrounded as it is by a blue halo of suspicion as to its
authenticity, sheds a ray of glory upon the great Jama Mesjid scarcely
surpassed by its importance as the second-largest mosque in the world.
The two-inch yellow hair is considered the piece de resistance of the
collection, and the Ancient and Hopeful stows it away with all due
reverence, strokes his henna-stained beard with the air of a man who has
got successfully through a very important task, steps into his slippers,
and presents himself for "pice."

Pice is duly administered to him and his three salaaming associates,
when, lo! a fifth candidate mysteriously appears, also smiling and
salaaming expectantly. Although I haven't had the pleasure of a previous
acquaintance with this gentleman, the easiest way to escape gracefully
from the sacred edifice is to backsheesh him along with the others. These
backsheesh considerations are, of course, small and immaterial matters,
and one ought to feel extremely grateful to all concerned for the happy
privilege of feasting one's soul with ever so brief a contemplation of
the things in the cabinet, and more especially on the bristle-like yellow
hair. These joy-inspiring objects, ramshackled from the storehouse of the
musty past, fulfil the double mission of keeping alive the reverence of
devout Mussulmans who visit the mosque, and keeping the Ancient and
Hopeful well supplied with goodakoo.

My camera having duly arrived, together with a package of letters, which
are always doubly welcome to a wanderer in distant lands, I prepare to
resume my southward journey. The few days' rest has enabled me to recover
from the wilting effects of riding in the terrific heat, and I have seen
something of one of the most interesting points in all Asia. Delhi is
sometimes called the "Home of Asia," which, it seems to me, is a very
appropriate name to give it.

Neatly clad and modest-looking females, native converts to Christianity,
are walking in orderly procession to church, testaments in hand, as I
wheel through the streets of Delhi on Sunday morning toward the Agra
road. Very interesting is it to see these dusky daughters of heathendom
arrayed in modest white muslin gowns, their lithe and graceful forms
freed from the barbarous jewellery that distinguishes the persons of
their unconverted sisters. Very charming do they look in their
Christianized simplicity and self-contained demeanor as they walk
quietly, and at a becoming Sabbath-day pace, two by two, down the Chandni
Chouk. They present an instructive comparison to the straggling groups of
heathen damsels who watch them curiously as they walk past and then
proceed to chant idolatrous songs, apparently in a spirit of wanton
raillery at the Christian maidens and their simple, un-ornamented attire.
The fair heathens of Delhi have a sort of naughty, Parisian reputation
throughout the surrounding country, and so there is nothing surprising in
this exhibition of wanton hilarity directed at these more strait-laced
converts to the religion of the Ferenghis. The heathen damsels, arrayed
in very worldly costumes, consisting of flaring red, yellow, and blue
garments, the whole barbaric and ostentatious array of nose-rings,
ear-rings, armlets, anklets, rupee necklaces, and pendents, and the
multifarious gewgaws of Hindoo womankind, look surpassingly wicked and
saucy in comparison with their converted sisters. The gentle converts try
hard to regard their heathen songs with indifference, and to show by
their very correct deportment the superiority of meekness, virtue, and
Christianity over gaudy clothes, vulgar silver jewellery, and heathenism.
The whole scene reminds one very forcibly of a gang of wicked street-boys
at home, poking fun at a Sunday-school procession or a platoon of
Salvation Army soldiers parading the streets.

Past the Queen's Gardens and the fort, down a long street of native
shops, and out of the Delhi gate I wheel, past the grim battlements of
Firozabad, along a rather flinty road that extends for ten miles, after
which commences again the splendid kunkah. Villages are numerous, and the
country populous; tombs and the ruins of cities dot the landscape,
pahnee-chowkees, where yellow Brahmans dispense water to thirsty
wayfarers, line the road, and at one point three splendid, massive
archways, marking some place that has lost its former importance, span my
road.

Hindoos are now the prevailing race, and their religion finds frequent
expression in idol temples and shrines beneath little roadside groves.
The night is spent on the porch of a dak bungalow just outside the walls
of Pullwal, a typical Hindoo city, with all its curious display of
hideous idols, idolatrous paintings, and beautiful carved temples with
gilded spires. The groves about the bungalow are literally swarming with
green parrots; in big flocks they sweep past near my charpoy, producing a
great wh-r-r-r-ring commotion with their wings. A flock of parrots may be
so far aloft as to be well-nigh beyond the range of human vision in the
ethery depths, but the noise of their wings will be plainly audible.

A two hours' terrific downpour delays me at the village of Hodell next
day, and affords an opportunity to inspect an ordinary little Hindoo
village temple. The captain of the police-thana sends a tall Sikh
policeman to show me in. The temple is only a small tapering marble
edifice about thirty feet high, surmounted by a gilded crescent, and
resting on a hollow plinth, the hollow of which provides quarters for the
priest. One is expected to remove his foot-gear before going inside, the
same as in a Mohammedan mosque. A taper is burning in a niche of the
wall; mural paintings of snakes, many-handed gods, bulls, monsters, and
mythical deities create a cheap and garish impression. In the centre of
the floor is a marble linga, and grouped around it a miniature man,
woman, and elephant; before these are laid offerings of flowers. The
interior of the temple is not more than eight feet square, a mere cell in
which the deities are housed; the worshippers mostly perform their
prostrations on the plinth outside. The villagers gather in a crowd about
the temple and watch every movement of my brief inspection; they seem
pleased at the sight of a Sahib honoring their religion by removing his
shoes and carefully respecting their feelings. When I descend from the
plinth they fall back and greet me with smiles and salaams.

The rain clears up and I forge ahead, finding the kunkah road-bed none
the worse for the drenching it has just received. Hour by hour one gets
more surprised at the multitudes of pedestrians on the road; neither rain
nor sun seems to affect their number. Some of the costumes observed are
quite startling in their ingenuity and effect. One garment much affected
by the Rajput women are yellowish shawls or mantles, phool-karis, in
which, are set numerous small circular mirrors about the circumference of
a silver half-dollar; the effect of these in the bright Indian sun, as
the wearer trudges along in the distance, is as though she were all
ablaze with gems. Whenever I wheel past a group of Rajput females, they
either stand with averted faces or cover up their heads with their
shawls.

The road-inspector's bungalow at Chattee affords me shelter, and an
intelligent native gentleman, who speaks a misleading quality of English,
supplies me with a supper of curried rice and fowl. Hard by is a Hindoo
temple, whence at sunset issue the sweetest chimes imaginable from a peal
of silver-toned bells. My charpoy is placed on the porch facing the east,
and soon the rotund face of the rising moon floats above the trees, and
the silvery tinkle of the bells is followed by a chorus of jackals paying
their noisy compliments to its loveliness. My slumbers can hardly be said
to be unbroken to-night, three pariah dogs have taken a fancy to my
quarters; two of them sit on their haunches and howl dismally in response
to the jackals, while number three reclines sociably beneath my charpoy
and growls at the others as though constituting himself my protector.
Some Indian Romeo is serenading his dusky Juliet in the neighboring town;
flocks of roysteriug parrots go whirring past at all hours of the night,
and a too liberal indulgence in red-hot curry keeps me on the verge of a
nightmare almost till the silvery tinkle-tinkle of the Brahman bells
announces the break of day.

Cynics have sometimes denounced Christians as worse than the heathens, in
requiring loud church-bells to summon them to worship. Such, it appears,
are putting the case rather thoughtlessly. Mohammedans have their
muezzins, while both Christians and idolaters have their chiming bells.
Neither Christians, nor Mohammedans, nor heathens need these agencies to
summon them to their respective worldly enjoyments, so that, taken all in
all, we are pretty much alike--cynics, notwithstanding, to the contrary,
we are little or no worse than the heathens.

A loudly wailing woman with her head covered up, and supported between
two companions who are vainly trying to console her, and a party
conveying two cassowaries, a pair of white peacocks, and a kangaroo from
Calcutta to some rajah's menagerie up country, are among the curiosities
encountered on the road the following day. Spending the afternoon and
night in the quarters of the Third Dragoon Guards at Muttra Cantonment, I
resume my journey early in the morning, dodging from shelter to shelter
to avoid frequent heavy showers.

It is but thirty-five miles from Muttra to Agra, and notwithstanding
showers and heat, the distance is covered by half-past ten. Wheeling at
this pace, however, is an indiscretion, and the completion of the stretch
is signalized by a determination to seek shade and quiet for the
remainder of the day. Once again the sociable officers of the garrison
tender me the hospitality of their quarters, and the ensuing day is spent
in visiting that wonder of the world, the Taj Mahal, Akbar's fort, and
other wonderful monuments of the palmy days of the Mogul Empire.

Finer and more imposing in appearance even than the fort at Delhi, is
that at Agra. Walls of red sandstone, seventy feet high, and a mile and a
half in circuit, picturesquely crenellated, and with imposing gateways
and a deep, broad moat, Complete a work of stupendous dimensions. One is
overcome with a sense of grandeur upon first beholding these Indian
palace-forts, after seeing nothing more imposing than mud walls in Persia
and Afghanistan; they are magnificent looking structures. The contrast,
too, of the red sandstone walls and gates and ramparts, with the white
marble buildings of the royal quarters, is very striking. The domes of
the latter, seen at a distance, seem like snow-white bubbles resting ever
so lightly and airily upon the darker mass; one almost expects to see
them rise up and float away on the passing zephyrs like balloons.

Passing inside over a drawbridge and through the massive Delhi Gate, we
proceed into the interior of the fort, traversing a broad ascent of
sandstone pavement. Everything around us shows evidence of unstinted
outlay in design, execution, and completion of detail in the carrying out
of a stupendous undertaking. Everywhere the spirit of Akbar the
Magnificent seems to hover amid his creations. One emerges from the
covered gateway and the walled corrugated causeway, upon the parade
ground. Crenellated walls, a park of artillery, and roomy English
barracks greet the vision. Sentinels--Sepoy sentinels in huge
turbans, and English sentinels in white sun-helmets--are pacing
their beats. But not on these does the gaze of the visitor rest. Straight
ahead of him there rises, above the red sandstone walls and the bare
parade ground, three marble domes, white as newly-fallen snow, and just
beyond are seen the gilt pinnacles of Akbar's palace.

We wander among the beautiful marble creations, gaze in wonder at the
snowy domes supported on marble pillars, mosaiced with jasper, agate,
blood-stone, lapis-lazuli, and other rare stones. We stand on the white
marble balustrades, carved so exquisitely as to resemble lace-work, and
we look out upon the yellow waters of the Jumna, flowing sluggishly along
seventy feet below. Here is where the Grand Mogul, Akbar, used to sit and
watch elephant fights and boat races. There are none of these to be seen
now; but that does not mean that the prospect is either tame or
uninteresting. The banks of the Jumna are alive with hundreds of dusky
natives engaged in washing clothes and spreading linen out in the sun to
bleach. The prospect beyond is a revelation of vegetable luxuriance and
wealth, and of historical reminiscence in the shape of ruins and tombs.

One's eyes, however, are drawn away from the contemplation of the
picturesque life below, and from the prospect of grove and garden and
crumbling tombs, by the mesmerism, of the crowning glory of all Indian
architectural triumphs, the famous Taj. This matchless mausoleum rests on
the right-hand bank of the Jumna, about a mile down stream. The Taj, with
its marvellous beauty and snowy whiteness, seems to cast a spell over the
beholder, from the first; one can no more keep his eyes off it, when it
is within one's range of vision, than he can keep from breathing. It
draws one's attention to itself as irresistibly as though its magnetism
were a living and breathing force exerted directly to that end. It is the
subtlety of its unapproachable loveliness, commanding homage from all
beholders, whether they will or no.

We turn away from it awhile, however, and find ample scope for admiration
close at hand. We tread the marble aisles of the Pearl Mosque, considered
the most perfect gem of its kind in existence. One stands in its
court-yard and finds himself in the chaste and exclusive companionship of
snowy marble and blue sky. One feels almost ill at ease, as though
conscious of being an imperfect thing, marring perfection by his
presence. "Quiet as a nun, breathless with adoration," one enthusiastic
visitor exclaims, in an effort to put his sentiments and impressions of
the Moti Mesjid into words. Like this adoring traveller, the average
visitor will rest content to be carried away by the contemplation of its
chaste beauty, without prying around for possible defects in the details
of the particular school of architecture it graces. He will have little
patience with carping critics who point to the beautiful screens, of
floriated marble tracery, and say: "Nuns should not wear collars of point
lace."

From the Moti Mesjid, we visit the Shish Mahal, or mirrored bath-rooms.
The chambers and passages here remind me of the mirrored rooms of Persia;
here, as there, thousands of tiny mirrors are used in working out various
intricate designs. My three uniformed companions at once reflect not less
than half a regiment of British soldiers therein.

From the fort we drive in a native gharri to the Taj, a mile-drive
through suburban scenery, plantain-gardens, groves, and ruins. In
approaching the garden of the Taj, one passes through a bazaar, where the
skilful Hindoo artisans are busy making beautiful inlaid tables,
inkstands, plates, and similar fancies, as well as models of the Taj, out
of white Jeypore marble. These are the hereditary descendants and
successors of the men who in the palmy days of the Mogul power spent
their lives in decorating the royal palaces and tombs with mosaics and
tracery. Nowadays their skill is expended on mere articles of virtue, to
be sold to European tourists and English officers. Some of them are
occasionally employed by the Indian Government to repair the work
desecrated by vandals during the mutiny, and under the purely commercial
government of the East India Company. One curious phase of this work is,
that the men employed to replace with imitations the original stones that
have been stolen receive several times higher pay than the men in Akbar's
time, who did such splendid work that it is not to be approached, these
days. Several months' imprisonment is now the penalty of prying out
stones from the mosaic-work of the Taj.

This lovely structure has been described so often by travellers that one
can scarce venture upon a description without seeming to repeat what has
already been said by others. One of the best descriptions of its
situation and surroundings is given by Bayard Taylor. He says: "The Taj
stands on the bank of the Jumna, rather more than a mile to the eastward
of the Fort of Agra. It is approached by a handsome road cut through the
mounds left by the ruins of ancient palaces. It stands in a large garden,
inclosed by a lofty wall of red sandstone, with arched galleries around
the interior, and entered by a superb gateway of sandstone, inlaid with
ornaments and inscriptions from the Koran in white marble. Outside this
grand portal, however, is a spacious quadrangle of solid masonry, with an
elegant structure, intended as a caravanserai, on the opposite side.
Whatever may be the visitor's impatience, he cannot help pausing to
notice the fine proportions of these structures, and the massive style of
their construction. Passing under the open demi-vault, whose arch hangs
high above you, an avenue of dark Italian cypress appears before you.
Down its centre sparkles a long row of fountains, each casting up a
single slender jet. On both sides, the palm, the banyan, and feathery
bamboo mingle their foliage; the song of birds meets your ears, and the
odor of roses and lemon-flowers sweetens the air. Down such a vista, and
over such a foreground, rises the Taj."

Of the Taj itself, fault has been found with its proportions by severe
critics, like the party who regards the Moti Mesjid "nun" as faulty
because she wears a point-lace collar; but the ordinary visitor will find
room for nothing but admiration and wonder. It is hard to believe that
there is any defect, even in its proportions, for so perfect do these
latter appear, that one is astonished to learn that it is a taller
building than the Kootub Minar. One would never guess it to be anywhere
near so tall as 243 feet. The building rests on a plinth of white marble,
eighteen feet high and a hundred yards square. At each corner of the
plinth stands a minaret, also of white marble, and 137 feet high. The
mausoleum itself occupies the central space, measuring in depth and width
186 feet. The entire affair is of white Jeypore marble, resting upon a
lower platform of sandstone: "A thing of perfect beauty and of absolute
finish in every detail, it might pass for the work of a genii, who knew
naught of the weaknesses and ills with which mankind are beset. It is not
a great national temple erected by a free and united people, it owes its
creation to the whim of an absolute ruler who was free to squander the
resources of the State in commemorating his personal sorrows or his
vanity."

Another distinguished visitor, commenting on the criticisms of those who
profess to have discovered defects, says: "The Taj is like a lovely
woman; abuse her as you please, but the moment you come into her
presence, you submit to its fascination."

"If to her share some female errors fall, Look in her face, and you'll
forget them all."

Passing beneath the vaulted gateway, we find a sign-board, telling that
the best place from which to view the Taj is from the roof of the
gateway. A flight of steps leads us to the designated vantage-point, when
the tropic garden, the fountains, the twin mosques in the far corners,
the river, the minarets, and, above all, the Taj itself lay spread out
before us for our inspection. The scene might well conjure up a vision of
Paradise itself. The glorious Taj: "So light it seems, so airy, and so
like a fabric of mist and moonbeams, with its great dome soaring up, a
silvery bubble," that it is difficult, even at a few hundred yards'
distance, to believe it a creation of human hands. While gazing on the
Taj, men let their cigars go out, and ladies drop their fans without
noticing it.

Descending the steps again, we pass inside, and again pause to survey it
from the end of the avenue. An element of the ridiculous here appears in
the person and the appeals of an old Hindoo fruit-vender. This hopeful
agent of Pomona squats beside a little tray, and, as we stand and feast
our eyes on the sublimest object in the world of architecture, he
persistently calls our attention to a dozen or two half-decayed mangoes
and custard-apples that comprise his stock in trade.

We pass down the cypress aisle, and invade the plinth. Hundreds of
natives, both male and female, are wandering about it. The dazzling
whiteness of the promenade is in striking contrast to the color of their
own bodies. As the groups of women walk about, their toe-rings and
ankle-ornaments jingle against the marble, and their particolored raiment
and barbarous gewgaws look curiously out of place here. The place seems
more appropriate to vestal virgins, robed in white, than to dusky Hindoo
females, arrayed in all the colors of the rainbow. Many of these people
are pilgrims who have come hundreds of miles to see the Taj, and to pay
tribute to the memory of Shah Jehan, and his faithful wife the Princess
Arjumund, whose mausoleum is the Taj. Two young men we see, leading an
aged female, probably their mother, down the steps to the vault, where,
side by side, the remains of this royal pair repose. The old lady is
going down there to deposit a rose or two upon Arjumund's tomb, a tender
tribute paid to-day, by thousands, to her memory.

We climb the spiral stairs of one of the miuars, and sit out on the
little pavilion at the top, watching the big ugly crocodiles float lazily
on the surface of the Jumna at our feet. Before departing, we enter the
Taj and examine the wonderful mosaics on the cenotaphs and the encircling
screen-work. This inlaid flower-work is quite in keeping with the general
magnificence of the mausoleum, many of the flowers containing not less
than twenty-five different stones, assorted shades of agate, carnelian,
jasper, blood-stone, lapis lazuli, and turquoise. Ere leaving we put to
test the celebrated echo; that beautiful echoing, that--"floats and
soars overhead in a long, delicious undulation, fading away so slowly
that you hear it after it is silent, as you see, or seem to see, a lark
you have been watching, after it is swallowed up in the blue vault of
heaven."

We leave this garden of enchantment by way of one of the mosques. An
Indian boy is licking up honey from the floor of the holy edifice with
his tongue. We look up and perceive that enough rich honey-comb to fill a
bushel measure is suspended on one of the beams, and so richly laden is
it that the honey steadily drips down. The sanctity of the place, I
suppose, prevents the people molesting the swarm of wild bees that have
selected it for their storehouse, or from relieving them of their honey.

The Taj is said to have cost about two million pounds, even though most
of the labor was performed without pay, other than rations of grain to
keep the workmen from starving. Twenty thousand men were employed upon it
for twenty-two years, and for its inlaid work "gems and precious stones
came in camel-loads from various countries."

The next morning I bid farewell to Agra, more than satisfied with my
visit to the Taj. It stands unique and distinct from anything else one
sees the whole world round. Nothing one could say about it can give the
satisfaction derived from a visit, and no word-painting can do it
justice.



CHAPTER XVI.

FROM AGRA TO SINGAPORE.

A couple of miles from the cantonment, and the broad Jumna is crossed on
a pontoon bridge, the buoys of which are tubular iron floats instead of
boats. Crocodiles are observed floating, motionless as logs, their heads
turned up-stream and their snouts protruding from the water. The road is
undulating for a few miles and then perfectly level, as, indeed, it has
been most of the way from Lahore.

Pilgrims carrying little red flags, and sometimes bits of red paper tied
to sticks, are encountered by the hundred; mayhap they have come from
distant points to gaze upon the beauties of the Taj Mahal, the fame of
which resounds to the farthermost corners of India. They can now see it
across the Jumna, resting on the opposite bank, looking more like a
specimen of the architecture of the skies than anything produced by mere
earthly agency.

A partly dilapidated Mohammedan mosque in the middle of a forty-acre
walled reservoir, overgrown with water-lilies, forms a charming subject
for the attention of my camera. The mosque is approached from an adjacent
village by a viaduct of twenty arches; a propos of its peculiar
surroundings, one might easily fancy the muezzin's call to prayer taking
the appropriate form of, "Come where the water-lilies bloom," instead of
the orthodox, "Allah-il-allah."

Villages are now rows of shops lining the road on either side, sometimes
as much as half a mile in length. The entrance is usually marked by a
shrine containing a hideous idol, painted red and finished off with
cheap-looking patches of gold or silver tinsel. In the larger towns,
evidences of English philanthropy loom conspicuously above the hut-like
shops and inferior houses of the natives in the form of large and
substantial brick buildings, prominently labelled "Ferozabad Hospital" or
"Government Free Dispensary." A discouraging head-wind blows steadily all
day, and it is near sunset when the thirty-seven miles to Sbikarabad is
covered. A mile west of the town, I am told, is the Rohilcund Railway,
the dak bungalow, and the bungalow of an English Sahib. Quite suitable
for a one-mile race-track as regards surface is this little side-stretch,
and a spin along its smooth length is rewarded by a most comfortable
night at the bungalow of Mr. S, an engineer of the Ganges Canal, a
magnificent irrigating enterprise, on the banks of which his bungalow
stands. Several school-boys from Allahabad are here spending their
vacation, shooting peafowls and fishing. Wild boars abound in the tall
tiger-grass of the Shikobabad district and the silence of the gloaming is
broken by the shouting of natives driving them out of their cane-patches,
where, if not looked after pretty sharply, they do considerable damage in
the night.

A curious illustration of native vanity and love of fame is pointed out
here in the case of a wealthy gentleman who has spent some thousands of
rupees in making and maintaining a beautiful flower-garden in the midst
of a worthless piece of sandy land, close by the railway station. Close
by is an abundance of excellent ground, where his garden might have been
easily and inexpensively maintained. Asked the reason for this strange
preference and seemingly foolish choice, he replied: "When people see
this beautiful garden in the midst of the barren sand, they will ask,
'Whose garden is this?' and thus will my name become known among men.
If, on the other hand, it were planted on good soil, nobody would see
anything extraordinary in it, and nobody would trouble themselves to ask
to whom it belongs."

Youthful Davids, perched on frail platforms that rise above the
sugar-cane, indigo, or cotton crops, shout and wield slings with
dexterous aim and vigor, to keep away vagrant crows, parrots, and wild
pigs, all along the line of my next day's ride to Mainpuri. In many
fields these young slingers and their platforms are but a couple of
hundred yards apart, the range of their weapons covering the entire
crop-area around. Sometimes I endeavor to secure one of these excellent
subjects for my camera, but the youngsters invariably clamber down from
their perch at seeing me dismount, and become invisible among the thick
cane.

To the music of loud, rolling thunder, I speed swiftly over the last few
miles, and dash beneath the porch of the post-office just in the nick of
time to escape a tremendous downpour of rain. How it pours, sometimes, in
India, converting the roads into streams and the surrounding country into
a shallow lake in the space of a few minutes. Hundreds of youths, naked
save for the redeeming breech-cloth, disport themselves in the great warm
shower-bath, chasing one another sportively about and enjoying the
downpour immensely.

The rain ceases, and, with water flinging from my wheel, I seek the civil
lines and the dak bungalow three miles farther down the road. Very good
meals are dished up by the chowkee-dar at this bungalow, who seems an
intelligent and enterprising fellow; but the lean and slippered
punkah-wallah is a far less satisfactory part of the accommodation. Twice
during the night the punkah ceases to wave and the demon of prickly heat
instantly wakes me up; and both times do I have to turn out and arouse
him from the infolding arms of Morpheus. On the second occasion the old
fellow actually growls at being disturbed. He is wide-awake and
obsequious enough, however, at backsheesh-time in the morning.

The clock at the little English station-church chimes the hour of six as
I resume my journey next morning along a glorious avenue of overarching
shade-trees to Bhogan, where my road, which from Delhi has been a branch
road, again merges into the Grand Trunk. Groves of tall toddy-palms are a
distinguishing feature of Bhogan, and a very pretty little Hindoo temple
marks the southern extremity of the town. A striking red and gilt shrine
in a secluded grove of peepuls arrests my attention a few miles out of
town, and, repairing thither, my rude intrusion fills with silent
surprise a company of gentle Brahman youths and maidens paying their
matutinal respects to the representation of Kamadeva, the Hindoo cupid
and god of love. They seem overwhelmed with embarrassment at the
appearance of a Sahib, but they say nothing. I explain that my object is
merely a "tomasha" of the exquisitely carved shrine, and a young Brahman,
with his smooth, handsome face fantastically streaked with yellow,
follows silently behind as I walk around the building. His object is
evidently to satisfy himself that nothing is touched by my unhallowed
Christian hands.

Seven miles from Bhogan is the camping ground of Bheyo, where in
December, 1869, an English soldier was assassinated in the night while
standing sentry beneath a tree. His grave, beneath the gnarled mango
where he fell, is marked by two wooden crosses, and the tree-trunk is all
covered with memorial plates nailed there, from time to time, by the
various troops who have camped here on their winter marches.

Twenty-eight miles are duly reeled off when, just outside a village, I
seek the shade of a magnificent banyan. The kindly villagers,
unaccustomed to seeing a Sahib without someone attending to his comfort,
bring me a charpoy to recline on, and they inquire anxiously, "roti?
pahni? doctor." (am I hungry, thirsty, or ill?). Nor are these people
actuated by mercenary thoughts, for not a pice will they accept on my
departure. "Nay, Sahib, nay," they reply, eagerly, smiling and shaking
their heads, "pice, nay." The narrow-gauge Rohilcuud Railway now follows
along the Grand Trunk road, being built on one edge of the broad
road-bed. Miran Serai, a station on this road, is my destination for the
day; there, however, no friendly dak bungalow awaits my coming and no
hostelry of any kind is to be found.

The native station-master advises me to go to the superintendent of
police across the way; the police-officer, in turn, suggests applying to
the station-master. The police-thana here is a large establishment, and a
number of petty prisoners are occupying railed-off enclosures beneath the
arched entrance. They accost me through the bars of their temporary,
cage-like prison with smiles, and "Sahib" spoken in coaxing tones, as
though moved by the childish hope that I might perchance take pity on
them and order the police to set them at liberty.

A small and pardonable display of "bounce" at the railway station finally
secures me the quarters reserved for the accommodation of English
officers of the road, and a Mohammedan employe about the station procures
me a supply of curried rice and meat. The station-master himself is a
high-caste Hindoo and can speak English; he politely explains the
difficulty of his position, as an extra-holy person, in being unable to
personally attend to the wants of a Sahib. Upon discovering that I have
taken up my quarters in the station, the police-superintendent comes over
and begs permission to send over my supper, as he is evidently anxious to
cultivate my good opinion, or, at all events, to make sure of giving no
offence in failing to accommodate me with sleeping quarters at the thana.
He supplements the efforts of the Mohammedan employe, by sending over a
dish of sweetened chuppaties.

On the street leading out of Miran Serai is a very handsome and
elaborately ornamented temple. Passing by early in the morning, I pay it
a brief, unceremonious visit of inspection, kneeling on the steps and
thrusting my helmeted head in to look about, not caring to go to the
trouble of removing my shoes. Inside is an ancient Brahman, engaged in
sweeping out the floral offerings of the previous day; he favors me with
the first indignant glance I have yet received in India. When I have
satisfied my curiosity and withdrawn from the door-way, he comes out
himself and shuts the beautifully chased brazen door with quite an angry
slam. The day previous was the anniversary of Krishna's birth, and the
blood of sacrificial goats and bullocks is smeared profusely about the
altar. It is, probably, the enormity of an unhallowed unbeliever in one
god, thrusting his infidel head inside the temple at this unseemly hour
of the morning, while the blood of the mighty Krishna's sacrificial
victims is scarcely dry on the walls, that arouses the righteous wrath of
the old heathen priest--as well, indeed, it might.

Passing through a village abounding in toddy-palms, I avail myself of an
opportunity to investigate the merits of a beverage that I have been
somewhat curious about since reaching India, having heard it spoken of so
often. The famous "palm-wine" is merely the sap of the toddy-palm,
collected much as is the sap from the maple-sugar groves of America,
although the palm-juice is generally, if not always, obtained from the
upper part of the trunk. When fresh, its taste resembles sweetened water;
in a day or two fermentation sets in, and it changes to a beverage that,
except for slightly alcoholic properties, might readily be mistaken for
vinegar and water.

Every little village or hamlet one passes through, south of Agra, seems
laudably determined to own a god of some sort; those whose finances fail
to justify them in sporting a nice, red-painted god with gilt trimmings,
sometimes console themselves with a humble little two-dollar soapstone
deity that looks as if he has been rudely chipped into shape by some
unskilful prentice hand. God-making is a highly respectable and lucrative
profession in India, but only those able to afford it can expect the
luxury of a nice painted and varnished deity right to their hand every
day. People cannot expect a first-class deity for a couple of rupees;
although the best of everything is generally understood to be the
cheapest in the end, it takes money to buy marble, red paint, and
gold-leaf. A bowl of pulse porridge, sweet and gluey, is prepared and
served up in a big banyan-leaf at noon by a villager. In the same village
is one of those very old and shrivelled men peculiar to India. From
appearances, he must be nearly a hundred years old; his skin resembles
the epidermis of a mummy, and hangs in wrinkles about his attenuated
frame. He spends most of his time smoking goodakoo from a neat little
cocoa-nut hookah.

The evening hour brings me into Cawnpore, down a fine broad street
divided in the centre by a canal, with flights of stone steps for banks
and a double row of trees--a street far broader and finer than the Chandni
Chouk--and into an hotel kept by a Parsee gentleman named Byramjee. Life
at this hostelry is made of more than passing interest by the familiar
manner in which frogs, lizards, and birds invade the privacy of one's
apartments. Not one of these is harmful, but one naturally grows curious
about whether a cobra or some other less desirable member of the reptile
world is not likely at any time to join their interesting company. The
lizards scale the walls and ceiling in search of flies, frogs hop
sociably about the floor, and a sparrow now and then twitters in and out.

A two weeks' drought has filled the farmers of the Cawnpore district with
grave apprehensions concerning their crops; but enough rain falls
to-night to gladden all their hearts, and also to leak badly through the
roof of my bedroom.

My punkah-wallah here is a regular automaton--he has acquired the valuable
accomplishment of pulling the punkah-string back and forth in his sleep;
he keeps it up some time after I have quitted the room in the morning,
until a comrade comes round and wakes him up.

For three days the rains continue almost without interruption, raining as
much as seven inches in one night. Slight breaks occur in the downpour,
during which it is possible to get about and take a look at the Memorial
Gardens and the native town. The Memorial Gardens and the well enclosed
therein commemorate one of the most pathetic incidents of the mutiny--the
brutal massacre by Nana Sahib of about two hundred English women and
children. This arch-fiend held supreme sway over Cawnpore from June 6,
1857, till July 15th, and in that brief period committed some of the most
atrocious deeds of treachery and deviltry that have ever been, recorded.
Backed by a horde of blood-thirsty mutineers, he committed deeds the
memory of which causes tears of pity for his victims to come unbidden
into the eyes of the English tourist thirty years after. Delicate ladies,
who from infancy had been the recipients of tender care and
consideration, were herded together in stifling rooms with the
thermometer at 120 deg. in the shade, marched through the broiling sun
for miles, subjected to heart-rending privations, and at length finally
butchered, together with their helpless children. After the treacherous
massacre of the few surviving Englishmen at the Suttee Chowra Ghaut, the
remaining women and children were reserved for further cruelties, and the
final act of Nana's fiendish vengeance. From the graphic account of this
murderous period of Cawnpore's history contained in the "Tourists' Guide
to Cawnpore" is quoted the following brief account of Nana's consummate
deed of devilment.

But the Nana's reign of terror was now drawing to a close, though not to
terminate without a stroke destined to make the civilized world shudder
from end to end. He was now to put the finishing touch to his work of
mischief. The councils of the wicked were being troubled. Danger was on
its way. Stories were brought in by scouting Sepoys of terrible bronzed
men coming up the Grand Trunk Road, before whose advance the rebel hosts
were fleeing like chaff and dust before the fan of the threshing-floor,
Futtehpore had fallen, and disaster had overtaken the rebel forces at
Aoung. Reinforcements were despatched by Nana in rapid succession, but
all was of no avail--on came Havelock and his handful of heroes,
carrying everything before them in their determination to rescue the
hapless women and children imprisoned at Cawnpore. About noon on July
15th a few troopers came in from the south and informed Nana that his
last reinforcement had met the same fate as the others, and reported that
the English were coming up the road like mad horses, caring for neither
cannon nor musketry; nor did these appear to have any effect on them. The
guilty Nana, with the blood of the recent treacherous massacre on his
hands, grew desperate at the hopelessness of the situation, and called a
council of war. What plans could they devise to keep out the English?
what steps could they adopt to stay their advance. The conclusion arrived
at in that council of human tigers could have found expression nowhere
save in the brains of Asiatics, illogical, and diabolically cruel. "We
will destroy the maims and baba logues," they said, "and inform the
English force of it; they will then be disheartened, and go back, for
they are only a handful in number!"

How the unfortunate innocents were butchered in cold blood in the
beebeegurch where they were confined, by Sepoys who gloried in trying
their skill at severing the ladies' heads from their bodies at one cut,
in splitting little children in twain, and in smearing themselves with
the blood of their helpless victims, is too harrowing a tale to dwell
upon here. On the following morning "the mangled bodies of both dead and
dying" were cast into the well over which now hovers the marble
representation of the Pitying Angel. When the victorious relieving force
scattered Nana's remaining forces and entered the city, two days later,
instead of the living forms of those they had made such heroic efforts to
save, they looked down the well and saw their ghastly remains.

In this lovely garden, where all is now so calm and peaceful, scarcely
does it seem possible that beneath the marble figure of this Pitying
Angel repose the dust of two hundred of England's gentle martyrs, whose
murdered and mutilated forms, but thirty years ago, choked up the well
into which they were tossed. While I stand and read the sorrowful
inscription it rains a gentle, soft, unpattering shower. Are these gentle
droppings the tender tribute of angels' tears. I wonder, and does it
always rain so soft and noiselessly here as it does to-day?

No natives are permitted in this garden without special permission; and
an English soldier keeps sentinel at the entrance-gate instead of the
Sepoy usually found on such duty. The memory of this tragedy seems to
hang over Cawnpore like a cloud even to this day, and to cause a feeling
of bitterness in the minds of Englishmen, who everywhere else regard the
natives about them with no other feelings than of the kindliest possible
nature. Other monuments of the mutiny exist, notably the Memorial Church,
a splendid Lombard-Gothic structure erected in memoriam of those who fell
in the mutiny here. The church is full of tablets commemorating the death
of distinguished people, and the stained-glass windows are covered with
the names of the victims of Nana Sahib's treachery, and of those who fell
in action.

Cawnpore is celebrated for the number and extensiveness of its
manufactures, and might almost be called the Manchester of India;
woollen, cotton, and jute mills abound, leather factories, and various
kindred industries, giving employment to millions of capital and
thousands of hands.

A stroll through the native quarter of any Indian city is interesting,
and Cawnpore is no exception. One sees buildings and courts the
decorations and general appearance of which leave the beholder in doubt
as to whether they are theatre or temple. Music and tom-toming would seem
rather to suggest the former, but upon entering one sees fakirs and
Hindoo devotees, streaked with clay, fanciful paintings and hideous
idols, and all the cheap pomp and pageantry of idolatrous worship.
Strolling into one of these places, an attendant, noting my curious
gazing, presents himself and points to a sign-board containing characters
as meaningless to me as Aztec hieroglyphics.

In one narrow street a crowd of young men are struggling violently for
position about a door, where an old man is flinging handfuls of yellow
powder among the crowd. The struggling men are aspirants for the honor of
having a portion of the powder alight on their persons. I inquire of a
native by-stander what it all means; the explanation is politely given,
but being in the vernacular of the country, it is wasted on the
unprofitable soil of my own lingual ignorance.

Impatient to be getting along, I misinterpret a gleam of illusory
sunshine at noon on the third day of the rain-storm and pull out, taking
a cursory glance at the Memorial Church as I go. A drenching shower
overtakes me in the native military lines, compelling me to seek shelter
for an hour beneath the portico of their barracks. The road is perfectly
level and smooth, and well rounded, so that the water drains off and
leaves it better wheeling than ever; and with alternate showers and
sunshine I have no difficulty in covering thirty-four miles before
sunset. This brings me to a caravanserai, consisting of a quadrangular
enclosure with long rows of cell-like rooms. The whole structure is much
inferior to a Persian caravanserai, but there is probably no need of the
big brick structures of Shah Abbas in a winterless country like India.

Interesting subjects are not wanting for my camera through the day; but
the greatest difficulty is experienced about changing the negatives at
night. A small lantern with a very feeble light, made still more feeble
by interposing red paper, suffices for my own purpose; but the too
attentive chowkee-dar, observing that my room is in darkness, and
fancying that my light has gone out accidentally, comes flaring in with a
torch, threatening the sensitive negatives with destruction.

The morning opens with a fine drizzle or extra-heavy mist that is
penetrating and miserable, soaking freely into one's clothes, and
threatening every minute to change into a regular rain. It is fourteen
miles to Futtehpore, and thence two miles off the straight road to the
railway-station, where I understand refreshments are to be obtained. The
reward of my four-mile detour is a cup of sloppy tea and a few
weevil-burrowed biscuits, as the best the refreshment-room can produce on
short notice. The dense mist moves across the country in big banks,
between which are patches of comparatively decent atmosphere. The country
is perfectly flat, devoted chiefly to the cultivation of rice, and the
depressions alongside the road are, of course, filled with water.

Timid youngsters, fleeing from the road at my approach, in their
scrambling haste sometimes tumble "head-over-heels" in the water; but,
beyond a little extra terror lest the dreadful object they see coming
bowling along should overtake them, it doesn't matter--they haven't
any clothes to spoil or soil. Neither rain nor heat nor dense, reeking,
foggy atmosphere seems to diminish the swarms of people on the road, nor
the groups bathing or washing clothes beneath the trees. Some of these
latter make a very interesting picture. The reader has doubtless visited
the Zoo and observed one monkey gravely absorbed in a "phrenological
examination" of another's head. With equal gravity and indifference to
the world at large, dusky humans are performing a similar office for one
another beneath the roadside shade-trees.

Roasted ears of maize and a small muskmelon form my noontide repast, and
during its consumption quite a comedy is enacted down the street between
a fat, paunchy vender of goodakoo and the shiny-skinned proprietor of a
dhal-shop. The scene opens with a wordy controversy about something;
scene two shows the fat goodakoo merchant advanced midway between his own
and his adversary's premises, capering about, gesticulating, and uttering
dire threats; scene three finds him retreating and the valorous man of
dhal held in check by his wife to prevent him following after with
hostile intent. The men seem boiling over with rage and ready to chew
each other up; but, judging from the supreme indifference of everybody
else about, nobody expects anything serious, to happen. This is
mentionable as being the first quarrel I have seen in India; as a general
thing the people are gentleness personified.

Several tattooed Hindoo devotees are observed this afternoon paying
solemn devotions to bel-trees streaked with red paint, near the road.
Many of the trees also shelter rude earthenware animals, and
hemispherical vessels, which are also objects of worship, as representing
the linga. The bel-tree is sacred to Siva the Destroyer, and the third
person in the Hindoo Triad, whom Brahma himself is said to have
worshipped, although he is regarded as the Creator. In the absence of
Siva himself, the worship of the bel-tree is supposed to be as
efficacious as worshipping the idol direct.

Soon I overtake an individual doing penance for his sins by crawling on
his stomach all the way to Benares, the Mecca of the Hindoo religion. In
addition to crawling, he is dragging a truck containing his personal
effects by a rope tied about his waist. Every fifty yards or so he stands
up and stretches himself; then he lies prostrate again and worms his
wearisome way along the road like a snake. Benares is still about a
hundred miles distant, and not unlikely this determined devotee has
already been crawling in this manner for weeks. This painful sort of
penance was formerly indulged in by Hindoo fanatics very largely; but the
English Government has now all but abolished the practice by mild methods
of discouragement. The priests of the different idols in Benares annually
send out thousands of missionaries to travel throughout the length and
breadth of India to persuade people to make pilgrimages to that city.
Each missionary proclaims the great benefits to be derived by going to
worship the particular idol he represents; in this manner are the priests
enriched by the offerings presented. Not long since one of these zealous
pilgrim-hunters persuaded a wealthy rajah into journeying five hundred
miles in the same manner as the poor wretch passed on the road to-day.
The infatuated rajah completed the task, after months of torture, on
all-fours, accompanied the whole distance by a crowd of servants and
priests, all living on his bounty.

Many people now wear wooden sandals held on the feet by a spool-like
attachment, gripped between the big and second toes. Having no straps,
the solid sole of the sandal flaps up and mildly bastinadoes the wearer
every step that is taken.

Another night in a caravanserai, where rival proprietors of rows of
little chowkees contend for the privilege of supplying me char-poy, dood,
and chowel, and where thousands of cawing rooks blacken the trees and
alight in the quadrangular serai in noisy crowds, and I enter upon the
home-stretch to Allahabad.

In proof that the cycle is making its way in India it may be mentioned
that at both Cawnpore and Allahabad the native postmen are mounted on
strong, heavy bicycles, made and supplied from the post-office workshops
at Allighur. They are rude machines, only a slight improvement upon the
honored boneshaker; but their introduction is suggestive of what may be
looked for in the future. As evidence, also, of the oft-repeated saying
that "the world is small," I here have the good fortune to meet Mr.
Wingrave, a wheelman whom I met at the Barnes Common tricycle parade when
passing through London.

There is even a small cycle club in quasi existence at Allahabad; but it
is afflicted with chronic lassitude, as a result of the enervating
climate of the Indian plains. Young men who bring with them from England
all the Englishman's love of athletics soon become averse to exercise,
and prefer a quiet "peg" beneath the punkah to wheeling or cricket.
During the brief respite from the hades-like temperature afforded by
December and January, they sometimes take club runs down the Ganges and
indulge in the pastime of shooting at alligators with small-bore rifles.

The walks in the beautiful public gardens and every other place about
Allahabad are free to wheelmen, and afford most excellent riding.

Messrs. Wingrave and Gawke, the two most enterprising wheelmen, turn out
at 6 a.m. to escort me four miles to the Ganges ferry. Some idea of the
trying nature of the climate in August may be gathered from the fact that
one of my companions arrives at the river fairly exhausted, and is
compelled to seek the assistance of a native gharri to get back home. The
exposure and exercise I am taking daily is positively dangerous, I am
everywhere told, but thus far I have managed to keep free from actual
sickness.

The sacred river is at its highest flood, and hereabout not less than a
mile and half wide. The ferry service is rude and inefficient, being
under the management of natives, who reck little of the flight of time or
modern improvements. The superintendent will bestir himself, however, in
behalf of the Sahib who is riding the Ferenghi gharri around the world:
instead of putting me aboard the big slow ferry, he will man a smaller
and swifter boat to ferry me over. The "small boat" is accordingly
produced, and turns out to be a rude flat-boat sort of craft, capable of
carrying fully twenty tons, and it is manned by eight oarsmen. Their oars
are stout bamboo poles with bits of broad board nailed or tied on the
end.

Much of the Ganges' present width is mere overflow, shallow enough for
the men to wade and tow the boat. It is tugged a considerable distance
up-stream, to take advantage of the swift current in crossing the main
channel. The oars are plied vigorously to a weird refrain of "deelah,
sahlah-deelah, sahlah!" the stroke oarsman shouting "deelah" and the
others replying "sahlah" in chorus. Two hours are consumed in crossing
the river, but once across the road is perfection itself, right from the
river's brink.

Through the valley of the sacred river, the splendid kunkah road leads
onward to Benares, the great centre of Hindoo idolatry, a city that is
more to the Hindoo than is Mecca to the Mohammedans or Jerusalem to the
early Christians. Shrines and idols multiply by the roadside, and tanks
innumerable afford bathing and purifying facilities for the far-travelled
pilgrims who swarm the road in thousands. As the heathen devotee
approaches nearer and nearer to Benares he feels more and more
devotionally inclined, and these tanks of the semi-sacred water of the
Ganges Valley happily afford him opportunity to soften up the crust of
his accumulated transgressions, preparatory to washing them away entirely
by a plunge off the Kamnagar ghaut at Benares. Many of the people are
trudging their way homeward again, happy in the possession of bottles of
sacred water obtained from the river at the holy city. Precious liquid
this, that they are carrying in earthenware bottles hundreds of weary
miles to gladden the hearts of stay-at-home friends and relations.

At every tank scores of people are bathing, washing their clothes, or
scouring out the brass drinking vessel almost everyone carries for
pulling water up from the roadside wells. They are far less particular
about the quality of the water itself than about the cleanliness of the
vessel. Many wells for purely drinking purposes abound, and Brahmans
serve out cool water from little pahnee-chowkees through window-like
openings. Wealthy Hindoos, desirous of performing some meritorious act to
perpetuate their memory when dead, frequently build a pahnee-chowkee by
the roadside and endow it with sufficient land or money to employ a
Brahman to serve out drinking-water to travellers.

Thirty miles from Allahabad, I pause at a wayside well to obtain a drink.
It is high noon, and the well is on unshaded ground. For a brief moment
my broad-brimmed helmet is removed so that a native can pour water into
my hands while I hold them to my mouth. Momentary as is the experience,
it is followed by an ominous throbbing and ringing in the ears--the voice
of the sun's insinuating power. But a very short distance is covered when
I am compelled to seek the shelter of a little road-overseer's chowkee,
the symptoms of fever making their appearance with alarming severity.

The quinine that I provided myself with at Constantinople is brought into
requisition for the first time; it is found to be ruined from not being
kept in an air-tight vessel. A burning fever keeps me wide awake till 2
a.m., and in the absence of a punkah, prickly heat prevents my slumbering
afterward. This wakeful night by the roadside enlightens me to the
interesting fact that the road is teeming with people all night as well
as all day, many preferring to sleep in the shade during the day and
travel at night.

It is fifty miles from my chowkee to Benares, and the dread of being
overtaken with serious illness away from medical assistance urges upon me
the advisability of reaching there to-day, if possible. The morning is
ushered in with a stiff head-wind, and the fever leaves me feeling
anything but equal to pedalling against it when I mount my wheel at early
daybreak. By sheer strength of will I reel off mile after mile, stopping
to rest frequently at villages and under the trees.

A troop of big government elephants are having their hoofs trimmed at a
village where a halt is made to obtain a bite of bread and milk. The
elephants enter unmistakable objections to the process in the way of
trumpeting, and act pretty much like youngsters objecting to soap and
water. But a word and a gentle tap from the mahout's stick and the
monster brutes roll over on their sides and submit to the inevitable with
a shrill protesting trumpet.

Another diversion not less interesting than the elephants is a wrestling
tournament at the police-thana, where twenty stalwart policemen, stripped
as naked as the proprieties of a country where little clothing is worn
anyhow will permit, are struggling for honor in the arena. Vigorous
tom-toming encourages the combatants to do their best, and they flop one
another over merrily, in the dampened clay, to the applause of a
delighted crowd of lookers-on. The fifty miles are happily overcome by
four o'clock, and with the fever heaping additional fuel on the already
well-nigh unbearable heat, I arrive pretty thoroughly exhausted at
Clarke's Hotel, in the European quarter of Benares.

Of all the cities of the East, Benares is perhaps the most interesting at
the present day to the European tourist. Its fourteen hundred shivalas or
idol temples, and two hundred and eighty mosques, its wonderful bathing
ghauts swarming with pilgrims washing away their sins, the burning
bodies, the sacred Ganges, the hideous idols at every corner of the
streets, and its strange idolatrous population, make up a scene that
awakens one to a keen appreciation of its novelty. One realizes fully
that here the idolatry, the "bowing down before images" that in our
Sunday-school days used to seem so unutterably wicked and perverse, so
monstrous, and so far, far away, is a tangible fact. To keep up their
outward appearance on a par with the holiness of their city, men streak
their faces and women mark the parting in their hair with red. Sacred
bulls are allowed to roam the streets at will, and the chief business of
a large proportion of the population seems to be the keeping of religious
observances and paying devotion to the multitudinous idols scattered
about the city.

The presiding deity of Benares is the great Siva--"The Great God,"
"The Glorious," "The Three-Eyed," and lord of over one thousand similarly
grandiloquent titles, and he is represented by the Bishesharnath ka
shivala, a temple whose dome shines resplendent with gold-leaf, and which
is known to Europeans as the Golden Temple. Siva is considered the king
of all the Hindoo deities in the Benares Pauch-kos, and is consequently
honored above all other idols in the number of devotees that pay homage
to him daily. His income from offerings amounts to many thousands of
rupees annually: there is a reservoir for the reception of offerings
about three feet square by half that in depth. The Maharajah Ranjit
Singh, Rajah of the Punjab, once filled this place with gold mohurs; many
wealthy Hindoos have from time to time filled it with rupees.

The old guide whom I have employed to show me about then conducts me into
the "Cow Temple," a filthy court containing a number of pampered-looking
Brahman bulls, and several youthful bovines whose great privilege it is
to roam about the court-yard and accept tid-bits from the hands of
devotees. In the same court-yard-like shivala are several red idols, and
the numerous comers and goers make the place as animated as a vegetable
market at early morning. Priests, too, are here in numbers; seated on a
central elevation they make red marks on the faces of the devotees,
dipping in the mixture with their finger; in return they receive a small
coin, or a pinch of rice or grain is thrown into a vessel placed there for
the purpose.

In many stalls are big piles of flower-petals which devotees purchase to
present as offerings. Men and women by the hundred are encountered in the
narrow streets, passing briskly along with baskets containing a supply of
these petals, a dish of rice, and a bowl of water; one would think, from
their business-like manner, that they were going, or had been, marketing.
They are going the morning round of their favorite gods, or the gods
whose particular services they happen to stand in need of at the time;
before these idols they pause for a moment, mutter their supplications,
and sprinkle them with water and flower-petals, passing from one deity to
another in a most business-like, matter-of-fact manner. Women unblessed
with children throng to the idols of Sidheswari and Sankatadevi,
bestowing offerings and making supplication for sons and daughters;
pilgrims from afar are flocking to Sakhi-Banaik, whose office it is to
testify in the next world of their pilgrimage in this. No matter how far
a pilgrim has come, and how many offerings he has bestowed since his
arrival, unless he repair to the shivala of Sakhi Banaik and duly report
his appearance, his pilgrimage will have been performed in vain.

Everywhere, in niches of the walls, under trees, on pedestals at frequent
corners, are idols, hideously ugly; red idols, idols with silver faces
and stone bodies, some with mouths from ear to ear, big idols, little
idols, the worst omnium gatherum imaginable. Sati, nothing visible but
her curious silver face, beams over a black mother-hubbard sort of gown
that conceals whatever she may possess in the way of a body; Jagaddatri,
the Mother of the World, with four arms, seated on a lion; Brahma, with
five eyes and four mouths, curiously made to supply quadruple faces.
Karn-adeva, the handsome little God of Love (the Hindoo Cupid), whom the
cruel Siva once slew with a beam from his third eye--all these and
multitudinous others greet the curious sight-seer whichever way he turns.
Hanuman, too, is not forgotten, the great Monkey King who aided Kama in
his expedition to Ceylon; outside the city proper is the monkey temple,
where thousands of the sacred anthropoids do congregate and consider
themselves at home. Then there is the fakirs' temple, the most
beautifully carved shivala in Benares; here priests distribute handfuls
of soaked grain to all mendicants who present themselves. The grain is
supplied by wealthy Hindoos, and both priests and patrons consider it a
great sin to allow a religious mendicant to go away from the temple
empty-handed.

Conspicuous above all other buildings in the city is the mosque of
Aurungzebe, with its two shapely minarets towering high above everything
else. The view from the summit of the minarets is comprehensive and
magnificently lovely; the wonderful beauty of the trees and shivalas, the
green foliage, and the gilt and red temples, so beautifully carved and
gracefully tapering; the broad, flowing Ganges, the busy people, the
moving boats, the rajahs' palaces along the water-front, make up a truly
beautiful panorama of the Sacred City of the Hindoos. From here we take a
native boat and traverse the water-front to see the celebrated bathing
ghauts and the strange, animated scene of pilgrims bathing, bodies
burning, and swarms of people ascending and descending the broad flights
of steps. How intensely eager do these dusky believers in the efficacy of
"Mother Ganga" as a purifier of sin dip themselves beneath the yellow
water, rinse out their mouths, scrape their tongues, nib, duck, splash,
and disport; they fairly revel in the sacred water; happy, thrice happy
they look, as well indeed they might, for now are they certain of future
happiness. What the "fountain filled with blood" is to the Christian, so
is the precious water of dear Ganga to the sinful Hindoo: all sins, past,
present, and future, are washed away.

Next to washing in the sacred stream during life, the Hindoo's ambition
is to yield up the ghost on its bank, and then to be burned on the
Burning Ghaut and have his ashes cast adrift on the waters. On the
Manikarnika ghaut the Hindoos burn their dead. To the unbelieving
Ferenghi tourist there seems to be a "nigger in the fence" about all
these heathen ceremonies, and in the burning of the dead the wily
priesthood has managed to obtain a valuable monopoly on firewood, by
which they have accumulated immense wealth. No Hindoo, no matter how
pious he has been through life, how many offerings he has made to the
gods, or how thoroughly he has scoured his yellow hide in the Ganges, can
ever hope to reach Baikunt (heaven) unless the wood employed at his
funeral pyre come from a domra. Domras are the lowest and most despised
caste in India, a caste which no Hindoo would, under any consideration,
allow himself to touch during life, or administer food to him even if
starving to death; but after his holier brethren have yielded up the
ghost, then the despised domra has his innings. Then it is that the
relatives of the deceased have to humble themselves before the domra to
obtain firing to burn the body. Realizing that they now have the pull,
the wily domras sometimes bleed their mournful patrons unmercifully. As
many as a thousand rupees have been paid for a fire by wealthy rajahs.
The domra who holds the monopoly at the Manikarnika ghaut is one of the
richest men in Benares.

Two or three bodies swathed in white are observed waiting their turn to
be burned, others are already burning, and in another spot is the corpse
of some wealthier person wrapped in silver tinsel. Not the least
interesting of the sights is that of men and boys here and there engaged
in dipping up mud from the bottom and washing it in pans similar to the
gold-pans of placer-miners; they make their livelihood by finding
occasional coins and ornaments, accidentally lost by bathers. A very
unique and beautifully carved edifice is the Nepaulese temple; but the
carvings are unfit for popular inspection.

The whole river-front above the ghauts is occupied by temples and the
palaces of rajahs, who spend a portion of their time here preparing
themselves for happiness hereafter, by drinking Ganges water and
propitiating the gods. On festival occasions, and particularly during an
eclipse, as many as one hundred thousand people bathe in the Ganges at
once; formerly many were drowned in the great crush to obtain the
peculiar blessings of bathing during an eclipse, but now a large force of
police is employed to regulate the movements of the people on such
occasions. Formerly, also, fights were very frequent between the
Mohammedans and Hindoos, owing to the clashing of their religious
beliefs, but under the tolerant and conciliatory system of the British
Government they now get along very well together.

A rest of two days and a few doses of quinine subdue the fever and put me
in condition to resume my journey. Twelve miles from Benares, on the East
Indian Kail way, is Mogul Serai, to which I deem it advisable to wheel in
the evening, by way of getting started without over-exertion at first.
Two English railroad engineers are stationed at Mogul Serai, and each of
them is a wheelman. They, of course, are delighted to offer me the
hospitality of their quarters for the night, and, moreover, put forth
various inducements for a longer stay; but being anxious to reach
Calcutta, I decide to pull out again next morning.

My entertainers accompany me for a few miles out. Mogul Serai is four
hundred and twelve miles from Calcutta, and at the four hundred and
fourth milestone my companions bid me hearty bon voyage and return.
Splendid as are the roads round about Mogul Serai, this eight-mile stone
is farther down the road than they have ever ridden before.

Twenty-five miles farther, and a sub-inspector of police begs my
acceptance of curried chicken and rice. He is a five-named Mohammedan,
and tells me a long story about his grandfather having been a reminder of
a hundred and fifty villages, and an officer in the East India Company's
army. On the pinions of his grandparents' virtues, his Oriental soul
soars ambitiously after present promotion; on the strength of sundry
eulogistic remarks contained in certificates already in his possession,
he wants one from myself recommending him to the powers that be for their
favorable consideration. He is the worst "certificate fiend" that I have
met.

Near Sassaram I meet a most picturesque subject for my camera, a Kajput
hill-man in all the glory of shield, spear, and gayly feathered helmet.
He is leading a pack-pony laden with his travelling kit, and mechanically
obeys when I motion for him to halt. He remains stationary, and regards
my movements with much curiosity while I arrange the camera. When the
tube is drawn out, however, and pointed at him, and I commence peeping
through to arrange the focus, he gets uneasy, and when I am about ready
to perpetuate the memory of his fantastic figure forever, he moves away.
Nor will any amount of beckoning obtain for me another "sitting," nor the
production and holding aloft of a rupee. Whether he fancied the camera in
danger of going off, or dreaded the "evil eye," can only be surmised.

The famous fleet-footed mail-carriers of Bengal are now frequently
encountered on the road; they are invariably going at a bounding trot of
eight or ten miles an hour. The letter-bag is attached to the end of a
stick carried over the shoulder, which is also provided with rings that
jingle merrily in response to the motions of the runner. The day is not
far distant when all these men will be mounted on bicycles, judging from
the beginning already made at Allahabad and Cawnpore. The village women
hereabouts wear massive brass ankle-ornaments, six inches broad, and
which are apparently pounds in weight.

A deluge of rain during the night at Dilli converts the road into
streams, and covers the low, flat land with a sheet of water. The ground
is soaked full, like a wet sponge, and can absorb no more; rivers are
overflowing, every weed, every blade of grass, and every tree-leaf is
jewelled with glistening drops. The splendid kunkah is now gradually
giving place to ordinary macadam, which is far less desirable, the heavy,
pelting rain washing away the clay and leaving the surface rough.

Not less than four hours are consumed in crossing the River Sone at Dilli
in a native punt, so swiftly runs the current and so broad is the
overflow. The frequent drenching rains, the lowering clouds, and the
persistent southern wind betoken the full vigor of the monsoons. One can
only dodge from shelter to shelter between violent showers, and pedal
vigorously against the stiff breeze. The prevailing weather is stormy,
and inky clouds gather in massy banks at all points of the compass,
culminating in violent outbursts of thunder and lightning, wind and rain.
Occasionally, by some unaccountable freak of the elements, the monsoon
veers completely around, and blowing a gale from the north, hustles me
along over the cobbly surface at great speed.

Just before reaching Shergotti, on the evening of the third day from
Benares, a glimpse is obtained of hills on the right. They are the first
relief from the dead level of the landscape all the way from Lahore;
their appearance signifies that I am approaching the Bengal Hills. From
Mogul Serai my road has been through territory not yet invaded by the
revolutionizing influence of the railway, and consequently the dak
bungalows are still kept up in form to provide travellers with
accommodation. Chowkeedar, punkah-wallah, and sweeper are in regular
attendance, and one can usually obtain curried rice, chicken, dhal, and
chuppatties. An official regulation of prices is posted conspicuously in
the bungalow: For room and charpoy, Rs 1; dinner, Rs 1-8; chota-hazari,
Rs 1, and so on through the scale. The prices are moderate enough, even
when it is considered that a dinner consists of a crow-like chicken,
curried rice, and unleavened chuppatties. The chowkeedar is usually an
old Sepoy pensioner, who obtains, in addition to his pension, a
percentage on the money charged for the rooms--a book is kept in
which travellers are required to enter their names and the amount paid.
The sweepers and punkah-wallahs are rewarded separately by the recipient
of their attentions. Sometimes, if a Mohammedan, and not prohibited by
caste obligations from performing these menial services, the old
pensioner brings water for bathing and sweeps out one's own room himself,
in which case he of course pockets the backsheesh appertaining to these
duties also.

A few miles south of Shergotti the bridge spanning a tributary of the
Sone is broken down, and no ferry is in operation. The stream, however,
is fordable, and four stalwart Bengalis carry me across on a charpoy,
hoisted on their shoulders; they stem the torrent bravely, and keep up
their strength and courage by singing a refrain. From this point the road
becomes undulating, and of indifferent surface; the macadam is badly
washed by the soaking monsoon rains, and the low, level country is
gradually merging into the jungle-covered hills of Bengal.

The character of the people has undergone a decided change since leaving
Delhi and Agra, and the Bengalis impress one decidedly unfavorably in
comparison with the more manly and warlike races of the Punjab. Abject
servility marks the demeanor of many, and utter uselessness for any
purpose whatsoever, characterizes one's intuitive opinion of a large
percentage of the population of the villages. Except for the pressing
nature of one's needs, the look of unutterable perplexity that comes over
the face of a Bengali villager, to-day, when I ask him to obtain me
something to eat, would be laughable in the extreme. "N-a-y, Sahib,
n-a-y." he replies, with a show of mental distraction as great as though
ordered to fetch me the moon. An appeal for rice, milk, dhal,
chuppatties, at several stalls results in the same failure; everybody
seems utterly bewildered at the appearance of a Sahib among them
searching for something to eat. The village policeman is on duty in the
land of dreams, a not unusual circumstance, by the way; but a youth
scuttles off and wakes him up, and notifies him of my arrival. Anxious to
atone for his shortcomings in slumbering at his post, he bestirs himself
to obtain the wherewithal to satisfy my hunger, his authoritative efforts
culminating in the appearance of a big dish of dhal.

The country becomes hillier, and the wild, jungle-covered hills and dark
ravines alongside the road are highly suggestive of royal Bengal tigers.
The striped monsters infest these jungles in plenty; during the afternoon
I pass through a village where a depredatory man-eater has been carrying
off women and children within the last few days.

The chowkeedar at Burhee, my stopping-place for the night in the hill
country, is a helpless old duffer, who replies "nay-hee, Sahib, nay-hee,"
with a decidedly woe-begone utterance in response to all queries about
refreshments. A youth capable of understanding a little English turns up
shortly, and improves the situation by agreeing to undertake the
preparation of supper. Still more hopeful is the outlook when a Eurasian
and a native school-master appear upon the scene, the former acting as
interpreter to the genial pedagogue, who is desirous of contributing to
my comfort by impressing upon my impromptu cook the importance of his
duties. They become deeply interested in my tour of the world, which the
scholarly pedagogue has learned of through the medium of the vernacular
press. The Eurasian, not being a newspaper-reader, has not heard anything
of the journey. But he has casually heard of the River Thames, and his
first wondering question is as to "how I managed to cross the Thames!"

My saturated karki clothing has been duly wrung out and hung up inside
the dak bungalow, the only place where it will not get wetter instead of
dryer, and my cook is searching the town in quest of meat, when an
English lady and gentleman drive up in a dog-cart and halt before the
bungalow. Unaware of the presence of English people in the place, I am
taken completely by surprise.

They are Mr. and Mrs. B, an internal revenue officer and his wife, who,
having heard of my arrival, have come to invite me to dinner. Of course I
am delighted, and they are equally pleased to entertain one about whose
adventures they have recently been reading. Their ayah saw me ride in,
and went and told her mistress of seeing a "wonderful Sahib on wheels,"
and already the report has spread that I have come down from Lahore in
four days!

A very agreeable evening is spent at Mr. E 's house, talking about the
incidents of my journey, Mr. E 's tiger-hunting exploits in the
neighborhood, and kindred topics. Mr. R devotes a good deal of time in
the winter season to hunting tigers in the jungle round about his
station, and numerous fine trophies of his prowess adorn the rooms of his
house. He knows of the man-eater's depredations in the village I passed
to-day, and also of another one ahead which I shall go through to-morrow;
he declares his intention of bagging them both next season.

Mrs. R arrived from Merrie England but eighteen months ago, a romantic
girl whose knowledge of royal Bengal tigers was confined to the subdued
habitues of sundry iron-barred cages in the Zoo. She is one of those dear
confiding souls that we sometimes find out whose confidence in the
omnipotent character of their husbands' ability is nothing if not
charming and sublime. Upon her arrival in the wilds of Bengal she was
fascinated with the loveliness of the country, and wanted her liege lord
to take her into the depths of the jungle and show her a "real wild
tiger." She had seen tigers in cages, but wanted to see how a real wild
one looked in his native lair. One day they were out taking horseback
exercise together, when, a short distance from the road, the horrible
roar of a tiger awoke the echoes of the jungle and reverberated through
the hills like rolling thunder. Now was the long-looked-for opportunity,
and her husband playfully invited her to ride with him toward the spot
whence came the roars. Mrs. R, however, had suddenly changed her mind.

Mrs. R was the first white lady the people of many of the outlying
villages had ever seen on horseback, or perhaps had ever seen at all, and
the timidest of them would invariably bolt into the jungle at her
appearance. When her husband or any other Englishman went among them
alone, the native women would only turn away their faces, but from the
lady herself they would hastily run and hide. Here, also, I learn that
the natives in this district are dying by the hundred with a malignant
type of fever; that the present season is an exceptionally sickly one,
all of which gives reason for congratulation at my own health being so
good.

It is all but a sub-aqueous performance pedalling along the road next
morning; the air is laden with a penetrating drizzle, the watery clouds
fairly hover on the tree-tops and roll in dark masses among the hills,
while the soaked and saturated earth reeks with steam. The road is
macadamized with white granite, and after one of those tremendous
downpourings that occur every hour or so the wheel-worn depressions on
either side become narrow streams, divided by the white central ridge.
Down the long, straight slopes these twin rivulets course right merrily,
the whirling wheels of the bicycle flinging the water up higher than my
head. The ravines are roaring, muddy torrents, but they are all well
bridged, and although the road is lumpy, an unridable spot is very rarely
encountered. For days I have not had a really dry thread of clothing,
from the impossibility of drying anything by hanging it out. Under these
trying conditions, a relapse of the fever is matter for daily and hourly
apprehension.

The driving drizzle to-day is very uncomfortable, but less warm than
usual; it is anything but acceptable to the natives; thousands are seen
along the road, shivering behind their sheltering sun-shields, from which
they dismally essay to extract a ray of comfort. These sun-shields are
umbrella-like affairs made of thin strips of bamboo and broad leaves;
they are without handles, and for protection against the sun or rain are
balanced on the head like an inverted sieve. When carried in the hand
they may readily be mistaken for shields. In addition to this, the men
carry bamboo spears with iron points as a slipshod measure of defence
against possible attacks from wild animals. When viewed from a
respectable distance these articles invest the ultra-gentle Bengali with
a suggestion of being on the war-path, a delusion that is really absurd
in connection with the meek Bengali ryot.

The houses of the villages are now heavily thatched, and mostly enclosed
with high bamboo fencing, prettily trailed with creepers; the bazaars are
merely two rows of shed-like stalls between which runs the road. In lieu
of the frequent painted idol, these jungle villagers bestow their
devotional exercises upon rude and primitive representations of
impossible men and animals made of twisted straw. These are sometimes set
up in the open air on big horseshoe-shaped frames, and sometimes they are
beneath a shed. In the privacy of their own dwellings the Bengali ryot
bows the knee and solemnly worships a bowl of rice or a cup of arrack.
The bland and childlike native of Hindostan falls down and worships
almost everything that he recognizes as being essential to his happiness
and welfare, embracing a wide range of subjects, from Brahma, who created
all things, to the denkhi with which their women hull the rice. This
denkhi is merely a log of wood fixed on a pivot and with a hammer-like
head-piece. The women manipulate it by standing on the lever end and then
stepping off, letting it fall of its own weight, the hammer striking into
a stone bowl of rice. The denkhi is said to have been blessed by Brahma's
son Narada, the god who is distinguished as having cursed his venerable
and all-creating sire and changed him from an object of worship and
adoration to a luster after forbidden things.

The country continues hilly, with the dense jungle fringing the road; all
along the way are little covered platforms erected on easily climbed
poles from twelve to twenty feet high. These are apparently places of
refuge where benighted wayfarers can seek protection from wild animals.
Occasionally are met the fleet-footed postmen, their rings jangling
merrily as they bound briskly along; perhaps the little platforms are
built expressly for their benefit, as they are not infrequently the
victims of stealthy attack, the jingle of their rings attracting Mr.
Tiger instead of repelling him.

Mount Parisnath, four thousand five hundred and thirty feet high, the
highest peak of the Bengal hills, overlooks my dak bungalow at Doomree,
and also a region of splendid tropical scenery, dark wooded ridges, deep
ravines, and rolling masses of dark-green vegetation.

During the night the weather actually grows chilly, a raw wind laden with
moisture driving me off the porch into the shelter of the bungalow. No
portion of Parisnath is visible in the morning but the base, nine-tenths
of its proportions being above the line of the cloud-masses that roll
along just above the trees. Another day through the hilly country and, a
hundred and fifty miles from Calcutta, the flourishing coal-mining
district of Asansol brings me again to the East India Railway and
semi-European society and accommodation. Instead of doughy chuppatties,
throat-blistering curry, and octogenarian chicken, I this morning
breakfast off a welcome bottle of Bass's ale, baker's bread, and American
cheese.

My experience of hotels and hotel proprietors has certainly been somewhat
wide and varied within the last two years; but it remains for Rannegunj
to produce something entirely novel in the matter of tariff even to one
of my experience. The cuisine and service of the hotel is excellent, and
well worth the charges; but the tariff is arranged so that it costs more
to stay part of a day than a whole one, and more to take two meals than
to take three. If a person remains a whole day, including room and three
meals, it is Rs 4, and he can, of course, suit himself about staying or
going if he engages or pays in advance; but should he only take dinner,
room, and chota-hazari, his bill reads: Dinner, Rs 2; room, Rs 1, 8
annas; chota-hazari, rupees 1; total, Rs 4, 8 annas, or 8 annas more than
if he had remained and taken another square meal. The subtle-minded
proprietor of this establishment should undoubtedly take out a patent on
this very unique arrangement and issue licences throughout all
Bonifacedom; there would be more "millions in it" than in anything
Colonel Sellers ever dreamed of.

And now, beyond Rannegunj, comes again the glorious kunkah road, after
nearly three hundred miles of variable surface. Level, smooth, and broad
it continues the whole sixty-five miles to Burd-wan. Notwithstanding an
adverse wind, this is covered by three o'clock. The road leads through
the marvellously fertile valley of the Dammoodah, an interesting region
where groves of cocoa-nut palms, bamboo thickets, and thatched villages
give the scenery a more decidedly tropical character than that north of
the Bengal hills. Rice is still the prevailing crop, and the overflow of
the Dammoodah is everywhere. Men and women are busily engaged among the
pools, fishing for land-crabs, mussels, and other freshwater shell-fish,
with triangular nets.

As my southward course brings me next day into the valley of the Hooghli
River, the road partakes almost of the character of a tunnel burrowing
through a mass of dense tropical vegetation. Cocoa-nut and toddy-palms
mingle their feathery foliage with the dark-green of the mango, the wild
pomolo, giant bamboo, and other vegetable exuberances characteristic of a
hot and humid climate, and giant creepers swing from tree to tree and
wind among the mass in inextricable confusion.

In this magnificent conservatory of nature big, black-faced monkeys, with
tails four feet long, romp and revel through the trees, nimbly climb the
creepers, and thoroughly enjoy the life amid the sylvan scenes about
them. It is a curious sight to see these big anthropoids, almost as large
as human beings, swing themselves deftly up among the festooned creepers
at my approach--to see their queer, impish black faces peering
cautiously out of their hiding-place, and to hear their peculiar squeak
of surprise and apprehension as they note the strange character of my
conveyance. Sometimes a gang of them will lope awkwardly along ahead of
the bicycle, looking every inch like veritable imps of darkness pursuing
their silent course through the chastened twilight of green-grown,
subterranean passageways, their ridiculously long tails raised aloft, and
their faces most of the time looking over their shoulders.

Youthful lotus-eaters, sauntering lazily about in the vicinity of some
toddy-gatherer's hamlet, hidden behind the road's impenetrable
environment of green, regard with supreme indifference the evil-looking
apes, bigger far than themselves, romping past; but at seeing me they
scurry off the road and disappear as suddenly as the burrow-like openings
in the green banks will admit.

Women are sometimes met carrying baskets of plantains or mangoes to the
village bazaars; sometimes I endeavor to purchase fruit of them, but they
shake their heads in silence, and seem anxious to hurry away. These women
are fruit-gatherers and not fruit-sellers, consequently they cannot sell
a retail quantity to me without violating their caste.

My experiences in India have been singularly free from snakes; nothing
have I seen of the dreaded cobra, and about the only reminder of Eve's
guileful tempter I encounter is on the road this morning. He is only a
two-foot specimen of his species, and is basking in a streak of sunshine
that penetrates the green arcade above. Remembering the judgment
pronounced upon him in the Garden of Eden, I attempt to acquit myself of
the duty of bruising his head, by riding over him. To avoid this
indignity his snakeship performs the astonishing feat of leaping entirely
clear of the ground, something quite extraordinary, I believe, for a
snake. The popular belief is that a snake never lifts more than
two-thirds of his length from the ground.

From the city of Hooghli southward, the road might with equal propriety
be termed a street; it follows down the west side of the Hooghli River
and links together a chain of populous towns and villages, the straggling
streets of which sometimes fairly come together. Fruit-gardens, crowded
with big golden pomolos, delicious custard, apples, and bananas abound;
in the Hooghli villages the latter can be bought for two pice a dozen.
Depots for the accumulation and shipment of cocoa-nuts, where tons and
tons of freshly gathered nuts are stacked up like measured mounds of
earth, are frequent along the river. Jute factories with thousands of
whirring spindles and the clackety-clack of bobbins fill the morning air
with the buzz and clatter of vigorous industrial life. Juggernaut cars,
huge and gorgeous, occupy central places in many of the towns passed
through. The stalls and bazaars display a variety of European beverages
very gratifying from the stand-point of a hot and thirsty wayfarer,
ranging from Dublin ginger ale to Pommery Sec. California Bartlett pears,
with seductive and appetizing labels on their tin coverings, are seen in
plenty, and shiny wrappers envelop oblong cakes of Limburger cheese.

For a few minutes my wheel turns through a district where the names of
the streets are French, and where an atmosphere of sleepy Catholic
respectability pervades the streets. This is Chandernagor, a wee bit of
territory that the French have been permitted to retain here, a rosebud
in the button-hole of la belle France's national vanity. Chanderuagor is
a bite of two thousand acres out of the rich cake of the lower Hooghli
Valley; but it is invested with all the dignity of a governor-general's
court, and is gallantly defended by a standing army of ten men. The
Governor-General of Chandernagor fully makes up in dignity what the place
lacks in size and importance; when the East India Railway was being built
he refused permission for it to pass through his territory. There is no
doubt but that the land forces of Chandernagor would resist like bantams
any wanton or arbitrary violation of its territorial prerogatives by any
mercenary railroad company, or even by perfide Albion herself, if need
be. The standing army of Chandernagor hovers over peaceful India, a
perpetual menace to the free and liberal government established by
England. Some day the military spirit of Chandernagor will break loose,
and those ten soldiers will spread death and devastation in some peaceful
neighboring meadow, or ruthlessly loot some happy, pastoral melon-garden.
Let the Indian Government be warned in time and increase its army.

By nine o'clock the bicycle is threading its way among the moving throngs
on the pontoon bridge that spans the Hooghli between Howrah and Calcutta,
and half an hour later I am enjoying a refreshing bath in Cook's Adelphi
Hotel.

I have no hesitation in saying that, except for the heat, my tour down
the Grand Trunk Road of India has been the most enjoyable part of the
whole journey, thus far. What a delightful trip a-wheel it would be, to
be sure, were the temperature only milder!

My reception in Calcutta is very gratifying. A banquet by the Dalhousie
Athletic Club is set on foot the moment my arrival is announced. With
such enthusiasm do the members respond that the banquet takes place the
very next day, and over forty applicants for cards have to be refused for
want of room. For genuine, hearty hospitality, and thoroughness in
carrying out the interpretation of the term as understood in its real
home, the East, I unhesitatingly yield the palm to Anglo-Indians. Time
and again, on my ride through India, have I experienced Anglo-Indian
hospitality broad and generous as that of an Arab chief, enriched and
rendered more acceptable by a feast of good-fellowship as well as
creature considerations.

The City of Palaces is hardly to be seen at its best in September, for
the Viceregal Court is now at Simla, and with it all the government
officials and high life. Two months later and Calcutta is more brilliant,
in at least one particular, than any city in the world. Every evening in
"the season" there is a turn-out of splendid equipages on the bund road
known as the Strand, the like of which is not to be seen elsewhere, East
or West. It is the Rotten Row of Calcutta embellished with the
gorgeousness of India. Wealthy natives display their luxuriousness in
vying with one another and with the government officials in the splendor
of their carriages, horses, and liveries.

Mr. P, a gentleman long resident in Calcutta, and a prominent member of
the Dalhousie Club, drives me in his dog-cart to the famous Botanical
Gardens, whose wealth of unique vegetation, gathered from all quarters of
the world, would take volumes to do it justice should one attempt a
description. Its magnificent banyan is justly entitled to be called one
of the wonders of the world. Not less striking, however, in their way,
are the avenues of palms; so straight, so symmetrical are these that they
look like rows of matched columns rather than works of nature. Fort
William, the original name of the city, and the foundation-stone of the
British Indian Empire, is visited with Mr. B, the American Consul, a
gentleman from Oregon. The glory of Calcutta, its magnificent Maidan, is
overlooked by the American Consulate, and one of the most conspicuous
objects in the daytime is the stars and stripes floating from the
consulate flag-staff.

On the 18th sails the opium steamer Wing-sang to Hong-Kong, aboard which
I have been intending to take passage, and whose date of departure has
somewhat influenced my speed in coming toward Calcutta. To cross overland
from India to China with a bicycle is not to be thought of. This I was
not long in finding out after reaching India. Fearful as the task would
be to reach the Chinese frontier, with at least nine chances out of ten
against being able to reach it, the difficulties would then have only
commenced.

The day before sailing, the bicycle branch of the Dalhousie Athletic Club
turns out for a club run around the Maidan, to the number of seventeen.
It is in the evening; the long rows of electric lamps stretching across
the immense square shed a moon-like light over our ride, and the smooth,
broad roads are well worthy the metropolitan terminus of the Grand Trunk.

My stay of five days in the City of Palaces has been very enjoyable, and
it is with real regret that I bid farewell to those who come down to the
shipping ghaut to see me off.

The voyage to the Andamans is characterized by fine weather enough; but
from that onward we steam through a succession of heavy rain-storms; and
down in the Strait of Malacca it can pour quite as heavily as on the
Gangetic plains. At Penang it keeps up such an incessant downpour that
the beauties of that lovely port are viewed only from beneath the ship's
awning. But it is lovely enough even as seen through the drenching rain.
Dense groves of cocoa-nut palms line the shores, seemingly hugging the
very sands of the beach. Solid cliffs of vegetation they look, almost, so
tall, dark, and straight, and withal so lovely, are these forests of
palms. Cocoa-nut palms flourish best, I am told, close to the sea, a
certain amount of salt being necessary for their healthful growth.

The weather is more propitious as we steam into Singapore, at which point
we remain for half a day, on the tenth day out from Calcutta. Singapore
is indeed a lovely port. Within a stone's-throw of where the Wing-sang
ties up to discharge freight the dark-green mangrove bushes are bathing
in the salt waves. Very seldom does one see green vegetation mingling
familiarly with the blue water of the sea--there is usually a strip of
sand or other verdureless shore--but one sees it at lovely
Singapore.

A fellow-passenger and I spend an hour or two ashore, riding in the first
jiniriksha that has come under my notice, from the wharf into town, about
half a mile. We are impressed by the commercial activity of the city; as
well as by the cosmopolitan character of its population. Chinese
predominate, and thrifty, well-conditioned citizens these Celestials
look, too, here in Singapore. "Wherever John Chinaman gets half a show,
as under the liberal and honest government of the Straits Settlements or
Hong-Kong, there you may be sure of finding him prosperous and happy."

Hindoos, Parsees, Armenians, Jews, Siamese, Klings, and all the various
Eurasian types, with Europeans of all nationalities, make up the
conglomerate population of Singapore. Here, on the streets, too, one sees
the strange cosmopolitan police force of the English Eastern ports, made
up of Chinese, Sikhs, and Englishmen.



CHAPTER XVII.

THROUGH CHINA.

Daily rains characterize our voyage from Singapore through the China
Sea--rather unseasonable weather, the captain says; and for the second
time in his long experience as a navigator of the China Sea, St. Elmo's
lights impart a weird appearance to the spars and masts of his vessel.
The rain changes into misty weather as we approach the Ladrone Islands,
and, emerging completely from the wide track of the typhoon's
moisture-laden winds on the following morning, we learn later, upon
landing at Hong-kong, that they have been without rain there for several
weeks.

It is my purpose to dwell chiefly on my own experiences, and not to write
at length upon the sights of Kong-kong and Canton; hundreds of other
travellers have described them, and to the average reader they are no
longer unique. Several days' delay is experienced in obtaining a passport
from the Viceroy of the two Quangs, and during the delay most of the
sights of the city are visited. The five-storied pagoda, the temple of
the five hundred genii, the water-clock, the criminal court--where several
poor wretches are seen almost flayed alive with bamboos-flower-boats,
silk, jade-stone, ivory-carving shops, temple of tortures, and a dozen
other interesting places are visited under the pilotage of the genial
guide and interpreter Ah Kum.

The strange boat population, numbering, according to some accounts, two
hundred thousand people, is one of the most interesting features of
Canton life. Wonderfully animated is the river scene as viewed from the
balcony of the Canton Hotel, a hostelry kept by a Portuguese on the
opposite bank of the river from Canton proper.

The consuls and others express grave doubts about the wisdom of my
undertaking in journeying alone through China, and endeavor to dissuade
me from making the attempt. Opinion, too, is freely expressed that the
Viceroy will refuse his permission, or, at all events, place obstacles in
my way. The passport is forthcoming on October 12th, however, and I lose
no time in making a start.

Thirteen miles from Canton I reach the city of Fat-shan. Five minutes
after entering the gate I am in the midst of a crowd of struggling,
pushing natives, whose aggressive curiosity renders it extremely
difficult for me to move either backward or forward, or to do aught but
stand and endeavor to protect the bicycle from the crush. They seem a
very good-natured crowd, on the whole, and withal inclined to be
courteous, but the pressure of numbers, and the utter impossibility of
doing anything, or prosecuting my search for the exit on the other side
of the city, renders the good intentions of individuals wholly
inoperative.

With perseverance I finally succeed in extricating myself and following
in the wake of an intelligent-looking young man whom I fondly fancy I
have enlightened to the fact that I am searching for the Sam-shue road.
The crowd follow at our heels as we tread the labyrinthine alleyways,
that seem as interminable as they are narrow and filthy. Every turn we
make I am expecting the welcome sight of an open gate and the green
rice-fields beyond, when, after dodging about the alleyways of what seems
to be the toughest quarter of the city, my guide halts and points to the
closed gates of a court.

It now becomes apparent that he has been mistaken from the beginning in
regard to my wants: instead of taking me to the Sam-shue gate, he has
brought me to some kind of a house. "Sam-shue, Sam-shue," I explain,
making gestures of disapproval at the house. The young man regards me
with a look of utter bewilderment, and forthwith betakes himself off to
the outer edge of the crowd, henceforth contenting himself to join the
general mass of open-eyed inquisitives. Another attempt to again enlist
his services only results in alienating his sympathies still further: he
has been grossly taken in by my assumption of intelligence. Having
discovered in me a jackass incapable of the Fat-shan pronunciation of
Sam-shue, he retires on his dignity from further interest in my affairs.

Female faces peer curiously through little barred apertures in the gate,
and grin amusedly at the sight of a Fankwae, as I stand for a few minutes
uncertain of what course to pursue. From sheer inability to conceive of
anything else I seize upon a well-dressed youngster among the crowd,
tender him a coin, and address him questioningly--"Sam-shue lo.
Sam-shue lo." The youth regards me with monkeyish curiosity for a second,
and then looks round at the crowd and giggles. Nothing is plainer than
the evidence that nobody present has the slightest conception of what I
want to do, or where I wish to go. Not that my pronunciation of Sam-shue
is unintelligible (as I afterward discover), but they cannot conceive of
a Fankwae in the streets of Fat-shan inquiring for Sam-shue; doubtless
many have never heard of that city, and perhaps not one in the crowd has
ever been there or knows anything of the road. As a matter of fact, there
is no "road," and the best anyone could do would be to point out its
direction in a general way. All this, however, comes with
after-knowledge.

Imagine a lone Chinaman who desired to learn the road to Philadelphia
surrounded by a dense crowd in the Bowery, New York, and uttering the one
word "Phaladilfi," and the reader gains a feeble conception of my own
predicament in Fat-shan, and the ludicrousness of the situation. Finally
the people immediately about me motion for me to proceed down the street.

Like a drowning man, I am willing to clutch wildly even at a straw, in
the absence of anything more satisfactory, and so follow their
directions. Passing through squalid streets occupied by loathsome
beggars, naked youngsters, slatternly women, matronly sows with Utters of
young pigs, and mangy pariahs, we emerge into the more respectable
business thoroughfares again, traversing streets that I recognize as
having passed through an hour ago. Having brought me here, the leaders in
the latest movement seem to think they have accomplished their purpose,
leaving me again to my own resources.

Yet again am I in the midst of a tightly wedged crowd, helpless to make
myself understood, and equally helpless to find my own way. Three hours
after entering the city I am following-the Fates only know whither--the
leadership of an individual who fortunately "sabes" a word or so of
pidgin English, and who really seems to have discovered my wants. First
of all he takes me inside a temple-like building and gives me a drink of
tea and a few minutes' respite from the annoying pressure of the crowds;
he then conducts me along a street that looks somewhat familiar, leads me
to the gate I first entered, and points triumphantly in the direction of
Canton!

I now know as much about the road to Sam-shue as I did before reaching
Fat-shan, and have learned a brief lesson of Chinese city experience that
is anything but encouraging for the future. The feeling of relief at
escaping from the narrow streets and the garrulous, filthy crowds,
however, overshadows all sense of disappointment. The lesson of Fat-shan
it is proposed to turn to good account by following the country paths in
a general course indicated by my map from city to city rather than to
rely on the directions given by the people, upon whom my words and
gestures seem to be entirely thrown away.

For a couple of miles I retraverse the path by which I reached Fat-shan
before encountering a divergent pathway, acceptable as, leading
distinctly toward the northwest. The inevitable Celestial is right on
hand, extracting no end of satisfaction from following, shadow-like,
close behind and watching my movements. Pointing along the divergent
northwest road, I ask him if this is the koon lo to Sam-shue; for answer
he bestows upon me an expansive but wholly expressionless grin, and
points silently toward Canton. These repeated failures to awaken the
comprehension of intelligent-looking Chinamen, or, at all events, to
obtain from them the slightest information in regard to my road, are
somewhat bewildering, to say the least. So much of this kind of
experience crowded into the first day, however, is very fortunate, as
awakening me with healthy rudeness to a realizing sense of what I am to
expect; it places me at once on my guard, and enables me to turn on the
tap of self-reliance and determination to the proper notch.

Shaking my head at the almond-eyed informant who wants me to return to
Canton, I strike off in a northwesterly course. The Chinaman grins and
chuckles humorously at my departure, as though his risibilities were
probed to their deepest depths at my perverseness in going contrary to
his directions. As plainly as though spoken in the purest English, his
chuckling laughter echoes the thought: "You'll catch it, Mr. Fankwae,
before you have gone very far in that direction; you'll wish you had
listened to me and gone back to 'Quang-tung.'"

The country is a marvellous field-garden of rice, vegetables, and
sugar-cane for some miles. The villages, with their peculiar,
characteristic Chinese architecture and groves of dark bamboo, are
striking and pretty. The paths seem to wind about regardless of any
special direction; the chief object of the road-makers would appear to
have been to utilize every little strip of inferior soil for the public
thoroughfare wherever it might be found. A scrupulous respect for
individual rights and the economy of the soil has resulted in adding many
a weary mile of pathway between one town and another. To avoid destroying
the productive capacity of a dozen square yards of alluvial soil,
hundreds of people are daily obliged to follow horseshoe bends around the
edges of graveyards that after two hundred paces bring them almost to
within jumping distance of their first divergence.

Occasionally the path winds its serpentine course between two tall
patches of sugar-cane, forming an alleyway between the dark-green walls
barely wide enough for two people to pass. Natives met in these confined
passages, as isolated from the eyes of the world as though between two
walls of brick, invariably recoil a moment with fright at the unexpected
apparition of a Fankwae; then partially recovering themselves, they
nimbly occupy as little space as possible on one side, and eye me with
suspicion and apprehension as I pass.

Great quantities of sugar-cane are chewed in China, both by children and
grown people, and these patches grown in the rich Choo-kiang Valley for
the Fat-shan, Canton, and Hong-kong markets are worth the price of a
day's journeying to see. So marvellously neat and thrifty are they, that
one would almost believe every separate stalk had been the object of
special care and supervision from day to day since its birth; every
cane-garden is fenced with neat bamboo pickets, to prevent depredation at
the hands of the thousands of sweet-toothed kleptomaniacs who file past
and eye the toothsome stalks wistfully every day.

After a few miles the hitherto dead level of the valley is broken by low
hills of reddish clay, and here the stone paths merge into well-beaten
trails that on reasonably level soil afford excellent wheeling. The
hillsides are crowded with graves, which, instead of the sugar-loaf "ant
hillocks" of the paddy-fields, assume the traditional horseshoe shape of
the Chinese ancestral grave. On the barren, gravelly hills, unfit for
cultivation, the thrifty and economical Celestial inters the remains of
his departed friends. Although in making this choice he is supposed to be
chiefly interested in securing repose for his ancestors' souls, he at the
same time secures the double advantage of a well-drained cemetery, and
the preservation of his cultivable lands intact. Everything, indeed,
would seem to be made subservient to this latter end; every foot of
productive soil seems to be held as of paramount importance in the
teeming delta of the Choo-kiang.

Beyond the first of these cemetery hills, peopled so thickly with the
dead, rise the tall pawn-towers of the large village of Chun-Kong-hoi.
The natural dirt-paths enable me to ride right up to the entrance-gate of
the main street. Good-natured crowds follow me through the street; and
outside the gate of departure I favor them with a few turns on the smooth
flags of a rice-winnowing floor. The performance is hailed with shouts of
surprise and delight, and they urge me to remain in Chun-Kong-hoi all
night.

An official in big tortoise-shell spectacles examines my passport,
reading it slowly and deliberately aloud in peculiar sing-song tones to
the crowd, who listen with all-absorbing attention. He then orders the
people to direct me to a certain inn. This inn blossoms forth upon my as
yet unaccustomed vision as a peculiarly vile and dingy little hovel,
smoke-blackened and untidy as a village smithy. Half a dozen rude benches
covered with reed mats and provided with uncomfortable wooden pillows
represent what sleeping accommodations the place affords. The place is so
forbidding that I occupy a bench outside in preference to the
evil-smelling atmosphere within.

As it grows dark the people wonder why I don't prefer the interior of the
dimly lighted hittim. My preference for the outside bench is not
unattended with hopes that, as they can no longer see my face, my
greasy-looking, half-naked audience would give me a moment's peace and
quiet. Nothing, however, is further from their thoughts; on the contrary,
they gather closer and closer about me, sticking their yellow faces close
to mine and examining my features as critically as though searching the
face of an image. By and by it grows too dark even for this, and then
some enterprising individual brings a couple of red wax tapers, placing
one on either side of me on the bench.

By the dim religious light of these two candles, hundreds of people come
and peer curiously into my face, and occasionally some ultra-inquisitive
mortal picks up one of the tapers and by its aid makes a searching
examination of my face, figure, and clothes. Mischievous youngsters, with
irreligious abandon, attempt to make the scene comical by lighting
joss-sticks and waving bits of burning paper.

The tapers on either side, and the youngsters' irreverent antics, with
the evil-spirit-dispersing joss-sticks, make my situation so ridiculously
suggestive of an idol that I am perforce compelled to smile. The crowd
have been too deeply absorbed in the contemplation of my face to notice
this side-show; but they quickly see the point, and follow my lead with a
general round of merriment. About ten o'clock I retire inside; the
irrepressible inquisitives come pouring in the door behind me, but the
hittim-keeper angrily drives them out and bars the door.

Several other lodgers occupy the room in common with myself; some are
smoking tobacco, and others are industriously "hitting the pipe." The
combined fumes of opium and tobacco are well-nigh unbearable, but thera
is no alternative. The next bench to mine is occupied by a peripatetic
vender of drugs and medicines. Most of his time is consumed in smoking
opium in dreamy oblivion to all else save the sensuous delights embodied
in that operation itself. Occasionally, however, when preparing for
another smoke, he addresses me at length in about one word of
pidgin-English to a dozen of simon-pure Cantonese. In a spirit of
friendliness he tenders me the freedom of his pipe and little box of
opium, which is, of course, "declined with thanks."

Long into the midnight hours my garrulous companions sit around and talk,
and smoke, and eat peanuts. Mosquitoes likewise contribute to the general
inducement to keep awake; and after the others have finally lain down, my
ancient next neighbor produces a small mortar and pestle and busies
himself pounding drugs. For this operation he assumes a pair of large,
round spectacles, that in the dimly lighted apartment and its nocturnal
associations are highly suggestive of owls and owlish wisdom. The old
quack works away at his mortar, regardless of the approach of daybreak,
now and then pausing to adjust the wick in his little saucer of grease,
or to indulge in the luxury of a peanut.

Such are the experiences of my first night at a Chinese village hittim;
they will not soon be forgotten.

The proprietor of the hittim seems overjoyed at my liberality as I
present him a ten-cent string of tsin for the night's lodging. Small as
it sounds, this amount is probably three or four times more than he
obtains from his Chinese guests.

The country beyond Chun-Kong-hoi is alternately level and hilly, the
former highly cultivated, and the latter occupied mostly with graves.
Peanut harvest is in progress, and men, women, and children are
everywhere about the fields. The soil of a peanut-bed to the depth of
several inches is dug up and all passed through a sieve, the meshes of
which are of the proper size to retain the nuts. The last possible grain,
nut, or particle of life-sustaining vegetable or insect life is extracted
from the soil, ducks and chickens being cooped and herded on the fields
and gardens after human ingenuity has reached its limit of research.

Big wooden pails of warm tea stand about the fields, from which everybody
helps himself when thirsty. A party of peanut-harvesters are regaling
themselves with stewed turnips and tough, underdone pieces of dried
liver. They invite me to partake, handing me a pair of chopsticks and a
bowl.

Gangs of coolies, strung in Indian file along the paths, are met,
carrying lacquer-ware from some interior town to Fat-shau and Canton.
Others are encountered with cages of kittens and puppies, which they are
conveying to the same market. These are men whose business is collecting
these table delicacies from outlying villages for the city markets, after
the manner of egg and chicken buyers in America.

My course at length brings me to the town of Si-noun, on the south bank
of the Choo-kiang. The river is here prevented from inundating the low
country adjacent by strong levees; along these are well-tramped paths
that afford much good wheeling, as well as providing a well-defined
course toward Sam-shue. After following the river for some miles,
however, I conclude that its course is altogether more southerly than
there is any necessity for me to go; so, crossing the river at a village
ferry, I strike a trail across-country in a north-westerly direction that
must sooner or later bring me to the banks of the Pi-kiang. Sam-shue is
at the junction of these two rivers, the one flowing from west to east
and the other from north to south; by striking across-country, but one
side of a triangle is traversed instead of the two formed by the rivers.
My objective point for the night is Lo-pow, the first town of any size up
the Pi-kiang.

A volunteer guide from one of the villages extricates me from a
bewildering network of trails in the afternoon, and guides me across to
the bottom-lands of the Pi-kiang. Receiving a reward, he eyes the piece
of silver a moment wistfully, puts it away, and guides me half a mile
farther. Pointing to the embankment of the Pi-kiang in the distance
ahead, he presents himself for further reward. Receiving this, he
thereupon conceives the brilliant idea of piloting me over successive
short stages, with a view of obtaining tsin at the end of each stage.

John Chinaman is no more responsible, morally, for the "dark ways and
vain tricks" accredited to him in the Western World than a crow is for
the blackness of his plumage. The desperate struggle for existence in
this crowded empire, that has no doubt been a normal condition of its
society for ages, has developed traits of character in these later
generations which are as unchangeable as the skin of the Ethiopian or the
spots of the leopard. Either of these can be whitened over, but not
readily changed; the same may be truthfully said of the moral leprosy of
the average Celestial. Here is a simple peanut-farmer's son, who knows
nothing of the outer world, yet no sooner does a stray opportunity
present than he develops immediately financial trickery worthy of a
Constantinople guide.

The paths across the Pi-kiang Valley are more walls than paths, often
rising ten feet above the paddy-fields, and presenting a width of not
more than two feet. Good riding, however, is happily found on the levees,
and a few miles up-stream brings me to Lo-pow.

The hittim at Lo-pow is somewhat superior to that of yesterday; it is a
two-storied building, and the proprietor hustles me up-stairs in short
order, and locks me in. This is to prevent any possible hostility from
the crowd that immediately swarms the place; for while I am in his house
he is in a measure held responsible for my treatment. The bicycle is kept
down-stairs, where it performs the office of a vent for the rampant
curiosity of the thousands who besiege the proprietor for a peep at me.

A little cup and a teapot of hot tea is brought me at once, and my order
taken for supper; the characters on ray limited written vocabulary
proving invaluable as an aid toward making my g-astro-nomic preferences
understood. A dish of boiled fish, pickled ginger, chicken entrees, young
onions, together with rice enough to feed a pig, form the ingredients of
a very good Chinese meal. Chop-sticks are, of course, provided; but, as
yet, my dexterity in the manipulation of these articles is decidedly of
the negative order, and so my pocket-knife performs the dual office of
knife and fork; for the rice, one can use, after a manner, the little
porcelain dipper provided for ladling an evil-smelling liquid over that
staple. Bread, there is none in China; rice is the bread of both this
country and Japan. During the night one gets a reminder of the bek-jees
of Constantinople in the performances of a night policeman, who passes by
at intervals loudly beating a drum. This, together with roystering
mosquitoes, and a too liberal indulgence in strong tea, banishes sleep
to-night almost as effectually as the pounding of the old drug-vender's
pestle did at Chun-Kong-hoi.

The rooms below are full of sleeping coolies, cat-and-dog hucksters and
travellers, when I descend at day-break to start. The first two hours are
wasted in wandering along a levee that leads up a tributary stream,
coming back again and getting ferried to the right embankment. The riding
is variable, and the zigzagging of the levee often compels me to travel
three miles for the gaining of one. My elevated path commands a good view
of the traffic on the river, and of the agricultural operations on the
adjacent lowlands.

The boating scenes on the river are animated, and peculiarly Chinese. The
northern monsoons, called typhoons in China, are blowing strongly down
stream, while the current itself is naturally strong; under the influence
of wind and current combined, junks and sampans with butterfly sails all
set are going down stream at racing speed. In striking contrast to these,
are the up-stream boats, crawling along at scarcely perceptible pace
against the current, in response to the rhythmical movements of a line of
men, women, and children harnessed one behind another to a long tow-line.

The water in the river is low, and the larger boats have to be watched
carefully to prevent grounding; sometimes, when the river is wide and the
passable channel but a narrow place in the middle, the tow-people have to
take to the water, often wading waist deep. Men and women are dressed
pretty much alike, but in addition to the broad-legged pantaloons and
blue blouse, the women are distinguished by a checked apron. Some of them
wear broad bamboo hats, while others wear nothing but nature's covering,
or perchance a handkerchief tied around their heads. The traffic on the
river is something enormous, scores of boats dotting the river at every
turn. It is no longer difficult to believe the oft-heard assertion, that
the tonnage of China's inland fleet is equal to the ocean tonnage of all
the world.

Below me on the right the scene is scarcely less animated; one would
think the whole population of the country were engaged in pumping water
over the rice-fields, by the number of tread-wheels on the go. One of the
most curious sights in China is to see people working these irrigating
machines all over the fields. Instead of the buffaloes of Egypt and
India, everything here is accomplished by the labor of man. The
tread-wheel is usually worked by two men or women, who steady themselves
by holding to a cross-bar, while their weight revolves the tread-wheel
and works a chain of water-pockets. The pockets dip water from a hole or
ditch and empty it into troughs, whence it spreads over the field. The
screeching of these wheels can be heard for miles, and the grotesque
Chinese figures stepping up, up, up in pairs, yet never ascending, the
women singing in shrill, falsetto voices, and the incessant gabble of
conversation, makes a picture of industry the like of which is to be seen
in no other part of the world.

Chin-yuen, my next halting-place, forma something of a crescent on the
west shore of the river, and is distinguished by a seven-storied pagoda
at the southern extremity of its curvature. As seen from the east bank,
the city and its background of reddish hills, two peaks of which rise to
the respectable height of, I should judge, two thousand feet, is not
without certain pretensions to beauty. Many of the houses on the river
front are built over the water on piles, and broad flights of stone steps
lead down to the water.

The usual boat population occupy a swarm of sampans anchored before the
city, while hundreds of others are moving hither and thither. The water
is intensely blue, and the broad reaches of Band are dazzlingly white; on
either bank are dark patches of feathery bamboo; the white, blue and
green, the pagoda, the city with its towering pawn-houses, and the whole
flanked by red clay hills, forms a picture that certainly is not wanting
in life and color.

The quarters assigned me at the hittim, here, are again upstairs, and my
room-companion is an attenuated opium smoker, who is apparently a
permanent lodger. This apartment is gained by a ladder, and after
submitting to much annoyance from the obtrusive crowds below invading our
quarters, my companion drives them all out with the loud lash of his
tongue, and then draws up the only avenue of communication. He is engaged
in cooking his supper and in washing dirty dishes; when the crowd below
gets too noisy and clamorous he steps to the opening and coolly treats
them to a basin of dish-water. This he repeats a number of times during
the evening, saving his dish-water for that special purpose.

The air is reeking with smoke and disagreeable odors from below, where
cooking is going on, and pigs wallow in filth in a rear apartment. The
back-room of a Chinese inn is nearly always a pigsty, and a noisome place
on general principles. Later in the evening a few privileged characters
are permitted to come up, and the room quickly changes into a regular
opium-den. A tough day's journey and two previous nights of wakefulness,
enable me to fall asleep, notwithstanding the evil smells, the presence
of the opium-smoking visitors, and the grunting pigs and talkative humans
down below.

During the day I have sprained my right knee, and it becomes painful in
the night and wakes me up. In the morning my way is made through the
waking city with a painful limp, that gives rise to much unsympathetic
giggling among the crowd at my heels. Perhaps they think all Pankwaes
thus hobble along; their giggling, however, is doubtless evidence of the
well-known pitiless disposition of the Chinese. The sentiments of pity
and consideration for the sufferings of others, are a well-nigh invisible
quality of John Chinaman's character, and as I limp slowly along, I
mentally picture myself with a broken leg or serious illness, alone among
these people. A Fankwae with his leg broken! a Fankwae lying at the point
of death! why, the whole city would want to witness such an extraordinary
sight; there would be no keeping them out; one would be the centre of a
tumultuous rabble day and night!

The river contains long reaches leading in a totally contrary direction
to what I know my general course to be. My objective point is a little
east of north, but for miles this morning I am headed considerably south
of the rising sun. There is nothing for it, however, but to keep the
foot-trail that now follows along the river bank, conforming to all its
multifarious crooks and angles. Every mile or two the path is overhung by
a big bamboo hedge, behind which is hidden a village.

The character of these little riverside villages varies from peaceful
agricultural and fishing communities, to nests of river-pirates and hard
characters generally, who covertly prey on the commerce of the Pi-kiang,
and commit depredations in the surrounding country. A glimpse of me is
generally caught by someone behind the hedge as I ride or trundle past;
shouts of "the Fankwae, the Fankwae," and screams of laughter at the
prospect of seeing one of those queer creatures, immediately follow the
discovery. The gabble and laughter and hurrying from the houses to the
hedge, the hasty scrambling through the little wicket gates, all occurs
with a flutter and noisy squabble that suggest a flock of excited geese.

A few miles above Chin-yuen the river enters a rocky gorge, and the
marvellous beauty of the scenery rivets me to the spot in wondering
contemplation for an hour. It is the same picture of rocky mountains,
blue water, junks, bridges, temples, and people, one sometimes sees on
sets of chinaware. Never was water so intensely blue, or sand so
dazzlingly white, as the Pi-kiang at the entrance to this gorge this
sunny morning; on its sky-blue bosom float junks and sampans, their
curious sails appearing and disappearing around a bend in the canon. The
brown battlemented cliffs are relieved by scattering pines, and in the
interstices by dense thickets of bamboo; temples, pagodas, and a village
complete a scene that will be long remembered as one of the loveliest
bits of scenery the whole world round. The scene is pre-eminently
characteristic, and after seeing it, one no longer misunderstands the
Chinaman who persists in thinking his country the great middle kingdom of
landscape beauty and sunshine, compared to which all others
are--"regions of mist and snow."

Across the creeks which occasionally join issue with the river, are
erected frail and wabbly bamboo foot-rails; some of these are evidently
private enterprises, as an ancient Celestial is usually on hand for the
collection of tiny toll. Narrow bridges, rude steps cut in the face of
the cliffs, trails along narrow ledges, over rocky ridges, down across
gulches, and anon through loose shale on ticklishly sloping banks,
characterize the passage through the canon. The sun is broiling hot, and
my knee swollen and painful. It is barely possible to crawl along at a
snail's pace by keeping my game leg stiff; bending the knee is attended
with agony. Frequent rests are necessary, and an examination reveals my
knee badly inflamed.

Hours are consumed in scrambling for three or four miles up and down
steps, and over the most abominable course a bicycle was ever dragged,
carried, up-ended and lugged over. At the end of that time I reach a
temple occupying a romantic position in a rocky defile, and where a
flight of steps leads down to the water's edge. All semblance of anything
in the nature of a continuous path terminates at the temple, and hailing
a sampan bound up stream, I obtain passage to the northern extremity of
the canyon.

The sampan is towed by a team of seven coolies, harnessed to a small,
strong rope made of bamboo splint. It is interesting, yet painful, to see
these men clambering like goats about the rocky cliffs, sometimes as much
as a hundred feet above the water; one of the number does nothing else
but throw the rope over protuberant points of rock. One would naturally
imagine that Chinese enterprise would be sufficient to construct
something like a decent towpath through this caiion, considering the
number of boats towed through it daily; but everything in China seems to
be done by the main strength and awkwardness of individuals.

The boatmen seem honest-hearted fellows; at noon they invite me to
participate in their frugal meal of rice and turnips. Passing sampans are
greeted by the crew of our boat with the intelligence that a Fankwae is
aboard; the news being invariably conveyed with a droll "ha-ha!" and
received with the same. Indeed, the average Chinese river-man or
agriculturist, the simple-hearted children of the water and the soil,
seem to regard the Fankwae as a creature so remarkably comical, that the
mere mention of him causes them to laugh.

Near the end of the canon the boat is moored at a village for the day,
and my knee feeling much better from the rest, I pursue my course up the
bank of the river. The bank is level in a general sense, but much cut up
with small tributary creeks.

While I am resting on the bank of one of these creeks, partly hidden
behind a clump of bamboo, a slave-woman carrying her mistress pick-a-back
appears upon the scene. Catching sight of me, the golden lily utters a
little cry of alarm and issues hurried orders to her maid. The latter
wheels round and scuttles back along the path with her frightened burden,
both maid and golden lily no doubt very thankful at finding themselves
unpursued. A few minutes after their hasty flight, three men approach my
resting-place with pitchforks. The frightened females have probably told
them of the presence of some queer-looking object lurking behind the
bushes, and like true heroes they have shouldered their pitchforks and
sallied forth to investigate. A whoop and a feint from me would either
put them to flight, or precipitate a conflict, as is readily seen from
the extreme cautiousness of their advance. As I remained perfectly still,
however, they approach by short stages, and with many stops for
consultation, until near enough to satisfy themselves of my peaceful
character. They loiter around until my departure, when they follow behind
for a few hundred yards, watching me narrowly until I am past their own
little cluster of houses.

It is almost dark when I arrive at the next village, prepared to seek
such accommodations for the night as the place affords, if any. The
people, however, seem decidedly inclined to give me the cold shoulder,
eying me suspiciously from a respectful distance, instead of clustering,
as usual, close about me. Being pretty tired and hungry, and knowing
absolutely nothing of the distance to the next place, I endeavor to
cultivate their friendship by smiles, and by addressing the nearest
youngster in polite greetings of "chin-chin."

All this proves of no avail; they seem one and all to be laboring under
the impression that my appearance is of evil portent to themselves.
Perchance some social calamity they have just been visited with, is
attributed in their superstitious minds to the fell influence of the
foreign devil, who has so suddenly bobbed up in their midst just at this
unhappy, inauspicious moment. Perad-venture some stray and highly
exaggerated bit of news in regard to Fankwae aggression in Tonquin (the
French Tonquin expedition) has happened to reach the little interior
village this very day, and the excited people see in me an emissary of
destruction, here for the diabolical purpose of spying out their country.
A dozen reasons, however, might be here advanced, and all be far wide of
the truth.

Whatever their hostility is all about is a mystery to me, the innocent
object of sundry scowls and angry gestures. One individual contemplates
me for a minute with unconcealed aversion, and then breaks out into a
torrent of angry words and excited gestures. From all appearances, it
behooves me to be clearing out, ere the pent-up feelings of the people
find vent in some aggressive manner, as a result of this person's
incitant eloquence. Greatly puzzled to account for this unpleasant
reception, I quietly take myself off.

It is now getting pretty dark, and considering the unfortunate condition
of my knee, the situation is, to say the least, annoying. It is not
without apprehensions of being followed that I leave the village; and ere
I am two hundred yards away, torches are observed moving rapidly about,
and soon loud shouts of "Fankwae, Fankwae!" tell me that a number of men
are in pursuit.

Darkness favors my retreat, and scrambling down the river bank, I shape
my course across the sand and shallow side-channels to a small island,
thickly covered with bamboo, the location of which is now barely outlined
against the lingering streaks of daylight in the western sky. Half an
hour is consumed in reaching this; but no small satisfaction is derived
from seeing the flaming torches of my pursuers continue on up the bank.
The dense bamboo thickets afford an excellent hiding-place, providing my
divergence is not suspected. A little farther up-stream, on the bank, are
the lights of another village; and as I crouch here in the darkness I can
see the torches of the pursuing party entering this village, and can hear
them making shouting inquiries of their neighbors about the foreign
devil.

The thicket is alive with ravenous mosquitoes that issue immediately
their peculiar policy of assurance against falling asleep. Unappeased
hunger, mosquitoes, and the perilousness of the situation occupy my
attention for some hours, when, seeing nothing further of the vengeful
aspirants for my gore, I drag my weary way up-stream, through sand and
shallow water. Keeping in the river-bed for several miles, I finally
regain the bank, and, although my inflamed knee treats me to a twinge of
agony at every step, I steadily persevere till morning.

An hour or two of morning light brings me to the town of Quang-shi, after
an awful tugging through sand-hills, unbridged ravines and water. Hardly
able to stand from fatigue and the pain of my knee, the desperate nature
of the road, or, more correctly, the entire absence of anything of the
kind, and the disquieting incident of the night, awaken me to a realizing
sense of my helplessness should the people of Quang-shi prove to be
hostile. Conscious of my inability to run or ride, savagely hungry, and
desperately tired, I enter Quang-shi with the spirit of a hunted animal
at bay. With revolver pulled round to the front ready to hand, and half
expecting occasion to use it in defence of my life, I grimly speculate on
the number of my cartridges and the probability of each one bagging a
sore-eyed Celestial ere my own lonely and reluctant ghost is yielded up.

All this, fortunately, is found to be superfluous speculation, for the
good people of Quang-shi prove, at least, passively friendly; a handful
of tsin divided among the youngsters, and a general spendthrift
scatterment of ten cents' worth of the same base currency among the
stall-keepers for chow-chow heightens their friendly interest in me to an
appreciable extent.

Chao-choo-foo is the next city marked on my itinerary, but as Quang-shi
is not on my map I have no means of judging whether Chao-choo-foo is four
li up-stream or forty. All attempts to obtain some idea of the distance
from the natives result in the utter bewilderment of both questioned and
querist. No amount of counting on fingers, or marking on paper, or
interrogative arching of eyebrows, or repetition of "Chao-choo-foo li"
sheds a glimmer of light on the mind of the most intelligent-looking
shopkeeper in Quang-shi concerning my wants. Yet, withal, he courteously
bears with my, to him, idiotic pantomime and barbarous pronunciation, and
repeats parrot-like after me "Chao-choo-foo li; Chao-choo-foo li" with
sundry beaming smiles and friendly smirks.

Far easier, however, is it to make them understand that I want to go to
that city by boat. The loquacious owner of a twenty-foot sampan puts in
his appearance as soon as my want is ascertained, and favors me with an
unpunctuated speech of some five minutes' duration. For fear I shouldn't
quite understand the tenor of his remarks, he insists on thrusting his
yellow Mongolian phiz within an inch or two of mine own. At the end of
five minutes I thrust my fingers in my ears out of sheer consideration
for his vocal organs, and turn away; but the next moment he is fronting
me again, and repeating himself with ever-increasing volubility. Finding
my dulness quite impenetrable, he searches out another loquacious mortal,
and by the aid of the tiny beam-scales every Chinaman carries for
weighing broken silver, they finally make it understood that for six big
rounds (dollars) he will convey me in his boat to Chao-choo-foo.
Understanding this, I promptly engage his services.

Bundles of joss-sticks, rice, fish, pork, and a jar of samshoo (rice
arrack) are taken aboard, and by ten o'clock we are underway. Two men,
named respectively Ah Sum and Yung Po, a woman, and a baby of eighteen
months comprise the company aboard. Ah Sum, being but an inconsequential
wage-worker, at once assumes the onerous duties of towman; Yung Po,
husband, father, and sole proprietor of the sampan, manipulates the
rudder, which is in front, and occasionally assists Ah Sum by poling. The
boat-wife stands at the stern and regulates the length of the tow-line;
the baby puts in the first few hours in wondering contemplation of
myself.

The strange river-life of China is all about us; small fishing-boats are
everywhere plying their calling. They are constructed with a central
chamber full of auger-holes for the free admittance of water, in which
the fish are conveyed alive to market, or imprisoned during the owner's
pleasure. Big freight sampans float past, propelled by oars if going
down-stream, and by the combined efforts of tow-line and poles if against
the current. The propelling poles are fitted with neatly carved
"crutch-trees" to fit the shoulder; the polers, sometimes numbering as
many as a dozen, walk back and forth along side-planks and encourage
themselves with cries of "ha-i, ha-i, ha-i." A peculiar and indescribable
inflection would lead one, hearing and not seeing these boatmen, to fancy
himself listening to a flight of brants in stormy weather. Yung Po,
poling by himself, gives utterance to a prolonged cry of "Atta-atta-atta
aaoo ii," every time he hustles along the side-plank.

Much of the scenery along the river is lovely in the extreme, and at dark
we cast anchor in a smooth, silent reach of the river just within the
frowning gateway of a rocky canon. Dark masses of rock tower skyward five
hundred feet in a perpendicular wall, casting a dark shadow over the
twilight shimmer of the water. In the north, the darksome prospect is
invested with a lurid glow, apparently from some large fire; the canon
immediately about our anchoring place is alive with moving torches,
representing the restless population of the river, and on the banks
clustering points of light here and there denote the locality of a
village.

The last few miles has been severe work for poor Ah Sum, clambering among
rocks fit only for the footsteps of a goat. He sticks to the tow-line
manfully to the end, but wading out to the boat when over-heated, causes
him to be seized with violent cramps all over; in his agony he rolls
about the deck and implores Yung Po to put him out of his misery
forthwith. His case is evidently urgent, and Yung Po and his wife proceed
to administer the most heroic treatment. Hot samshoo is first poured down
his throat and rubbed on his joints, then he is rolled over on his
stomach; Yung Po then industriously flagellates him in the bend of the
knees with a flat bamboo, and his wife scrapes him vigorously down the
spine with the sharp edge of a porcelain bowl. Ah Sam groans and winces
under this barbarous treatment, but with solicitous upbraidings they hold
him down until they have scraped and pounded him black and blue, almost
from head to foot. Then they turn him over on his back for a change of
programme. A thick joint of bamboo, resembling a quart measure, is
planted against his stomach; lighted paper is then inserted beneath, and
the "cup" held firmly for a moment, when it adheres of its own accord.

This latter instrument is the Chinese equivalent of our cupping-glass;
like many other inventions, it was probably in use among them ages before
anything of the kind was known to us. Its application to the stomach for
the relief of cramps would seem to indicate the possession of drawing
powers; I take it to be a substitute for mustard plasters. While the wife
attends to this, Yung Po pinches him severely all over the throat and
breast, converting all that portion of his anatomy into little blue
ridges. By the time they get through with him, his last estate seems a
good deal worse than his first, but the change may have saved his life.

Before retiring for the night lighted joss-sticks are stuck in the bow of
the sampan, and lighted paper is waved about to propitiate the spirit of
the waters and of the night; small saucers of rice, boiled turnip, and
peanut-oil are also solemnly presented to the tutelary gods, to enlist
their active sympathies as an offset against the fell designs of
mischievous spirits. Falling asleep under the soothing influence of these
extraordinary precautions for our safety and a supper of rice, ginger,
and fresh fish, I slumber peacefully until well under way next morning.
Ah Sum is stiff and sore all over, but he bravely returns to his post,
and under the combined efforts of pole and tow-line we speed along
against a swift current at a pace that is almost visible to the naked
eye.

This morning I purchase a splendid trout, weighing seven or eight pounds,
for about twenty cents; off this we make a couple of quite excellent
meals. Observing my awkward attempts to pick up pieces of fish with the
chop-sticks, the good, thoughtful boat-wife takes a bone hair-pin out of
her sleek, oily back hair, and offers it to me to use as a fork!

Before noon we emerge into a more open country; straight ahead can be
seen an eight-storied pagoda. Beaching the pagoda, we pass, on the
opposite shore, the town of Yang-tai (?). Fleets of big junks sail gayly
down stream, laden with bales and packages of merchandise from
Chao-choo-foo, Nam-hung, and other manufacturing points up the river.
Others resemble floating hay-ricks, bearing huge cargoes of coarse hay
and pine-needles down for the manufacture of paper.

Several war-junks are anchored before Yang-tai; unlike the peaceful (?)
merchantmen on the Choo-kiang, they are armed with but a single cannon.
They are, however, superior vessels compared with other craft on the
river, and are manned with crews of twenty to thirty theatrical-looking
characters; rows of muskets and boarding-pikes are observed, and
conspicuous above all else are several large and handsome flags of the
graceful triangular shape peculiar to China.

The crew of these warlike vessels are uniformed in the gayest of red, and
in the middle of their backs and breasts are displayed white "bull's
eyes" about twelve inches in diameter. The object of these big white
circular patches appears to be the presentation of a suitable place for
the conspicuous display of big characters, denoting the district or city
to which they belong; or in other words labels. The wicked and sarcastic
Fankwaes in the treaty ports, however, render a far different
explanation. They say that a Chinese soldier always misses a bull's-eye
when he shoots at it--under no circumstances does he score a bull's-eye.
Observing this, the authorities concluded that Fankwae soldiers were
tarred with the same unhappy feather. With true Asiatic astuteness, they
therefore conceived and carried out the brilliant idea of decorating all
Celestial warriors with bull's-eyes, front and rear, as a measure of
protection against the bullets of the Fankwae soldiers in battle.

Ah Sum becomes sick and weary at noon and is taken aboard, Tung Po and
his better half taking alternate turns at the line. Toward evening the
river makes a big sweep to the southeast, bringing the prevailing north
wind round to our advantage; if advantage it can be called, in blowing us
pretty well south when our destination lies north. The sail is hoisted,
and the crew confines itself to steering and poling the boat clear of
bars.

Poor Ah Sum is subjected to further clinical maltreatment this evening as
we lay at anchor before No-foo-gong; while we are eating rice and pork
and listening to the sounds of revelry aboard the big passenger junks
anchored near by, he is writhing and groaning with pain.

He is too stiff and sore and exhausted to do anything in the morning; the
woman goes out to pull, and the babe makes Rome howl, with little
intermission, till she comes back. The boat-woman seems an industrious,
wifely soul; Yung Po probably paid as high as forty dollars for her; at
that price I should say she is a decided bargain. Occasionally, when Yung
Po cruelly orders her overboard to take a hand at the tow-line, or to
help shove the sampan off a sand ridge, she enters a playful demurrer;
but an angry look, an angry word, or a cheerful suggestion of "corporeal
suasion," and she hops lightly into the water.

A few miles from No-foo-gong and a rocky precipice towers up on the west
shore, something like a thousand feet high. The crackling of
fire-crackers innumerable and the report of larger and noisier explosions
attract my attention as we gradually crawl up toward it; and coming
nearer, flocks of pigeons are observed flying uneasily in and out of
caves in the lower levels of the cliff.

In the course of time our sampan arrives opposite and reveals a curious
two-storied cave temple, with many gayly dressed people, pleasure
sampans, and bamboo rafts. This is the Kum-yam-ngan, a Chinese Buddhist
temple dedicated to the Goddess of Mercy. It is the home of flocks of
sacred pigeons, and the shrine to which many pilgrims yearly come; the
pilgrims manage to keep their feathered friends in a chronic state of
trepidation by the agency of fire-crackers and miniature bombs. Outside,
under the shelter of the towering cliffs to the' right, are more temples
or dwellings of the priests; they present a curious mixture of blue
porcelain, rock, and brick which is intensely characteristic of China.

During the day we pass, on the same side of the river, yet another
remarkable specimen of man's handiwork on the scene of one of nature's
curious rockwork conceptions. Leading from base to summit of a sloping
mountain are two perpendicular ridges of rock, looking very much like a
couple of walls. Across the summit of the mountain, from wall to wall,
some fanciful architect three hundred years ago built a massive
battlement; in the middle he left a big round hole, which presents a very
curious appearance, and materially heightens the delusion that the whole
affair, from foot to summit, is the handiwork of man. This place is known
as Tan-tsy-shan, or Bullet Mountain, and is the scene of a fight that
occurred some time during the Ming dynasty. A legend is current among the
people, that the robber Wong, a celebrated freebooter of that period,
while firing on a pursuing party of soldiers, shot this moon---like
hole through the mountain battlement with the huge musket he used to
slaughter his enemies.

Many huge rafts of pine logs are now encountered floating down stream to
the cities of the lower country; numbers of them are sometimes met,
following close behind one another. Several huts are erected on each big
raft, so that the sight not infrequently suggests a long straggling
village floating with the tide. This suggestion is very much heightened
by the score or more people engaged in poling, steering, al fresco
cooking, etc., aboard each raft.

And anon there come along men, poling with surprising swiftness
slender-built craft on which are perched several solemn and
important-looking cormorants. These are the celebrated cormorant fishers
of the Chinese rivers. Their craft is simply three or four stems of the
giant bamboo turned up at the forward end; on this the naked fisherman
stands and propels himself by means of a slender pole. His stock-in-trade
consists of from four to eight cormorants that balance themselves and
smooth their wet wings as the lightsome raft speeds along at the rate of
six miles an hour from one fishing ground to another. Arriving at some
likely spot the eager aspirant for finny prizes rests on his oars, and
allows his aquatic confederates to take to the water in search of their
natural prey, the fishes. A ring around the cormorants' necks prevents
them swallowing their captives, and previous training teaches them to
balance themselves on the propelling pole that the watchful fisherman
inserts beneath them the moment they rise to the surface with a fish;
captive and captor are then lifted aboard the raft, the cormorant robbed
of his prey and hustled quickly off again to business. The sight of these
nimble craft, skimming along with scarcely an effort, almost fills me
with a resolve to obtain one of them myself and abandon Tung Po and his
dreary lack of speed forever.

The third day of our voyage against the prevailing typhoons and the rapid
current of the Pi-kiang, comes to an end, and finds us again anchored
within the dark shadow of a towering cliff. Anchored alongside us is a
big junk freighted with bags of rice and bales of paper; the hands aboard
this boat indulge in a lively quarrel, during the evening chow-chow, and
bang one another about in the liveliest manner. The peculiar indignation
that finds expression in abusive language no doubt reaches its highest
state of perfection in the Celestial mind. No other human being is
capable of soaring to the height of the Chinaman's falsetto modulations,
as he heaps reproaches and cuss-words on his enemy's queue-adorned head.
A big boat's crew of naked Chinamen cursing and gesticulating excitedly,
advancing and retreating, chasing one another about with billets of wood,
knocking things over, and raising Cain generally, in the ghostly glimmer
of fantastic paper lanterns, is a spectacle both weird and wild.

Another weird, but this time noiseless, affair is a long string of
nocturnal cormorant fishers, each with a big, flaming torch attached to
the prow of his raft, propelling themselves along close under the dark
frowning cliff. The torches light up the black face of the precipice with
a wild glare, and streak the shimmering water with moon-like reflections.

The country through which our watery, serpentine course winds all next
day, is hilly rather than mountainous; grassy hills slope down to the
water's blue ripples at certain places, but the absence of grazing
animals is quite remarkable. Regions, which in other countries would be
covered with flocks of sheep and herds of cows and horses, are without so
much as a sign of herbivorous animals. Pigs are the prevailing
meat-producing animals of Southern China; all the way up country I have
not yet seen a single sheep, and but very few cattle; I have also yet to
see the first horse. Instead of herbivorous quadrupeds peacefully
browsing, are swarms of men, women, and children cutting, bundling, and
stacking the grass for the manufacture of paper.

Among the fleeting curiosities of the day are a crowd of sampans flying
black flags, evidently some military expedition; they are bound down
stream, and it occurs to me that they are perhaps a reinforcement of
these famous free-lances going to join the hordes of that denomination
making things so uncomfortable for the French in Tonquin and Quang-tse.
We also pass a district where the women enhance their physical charms by
the aid of broad circular hats that resemble an inverted sieve. The
edges, however, are not wood, but circular curtains of black calico; the
roof of the hat is bleached bamboo chip.

Officers board us in the evening to search the vessel for dutiable goods;
but they find nothing. The privilege of levying customs on salt and opium
is farmed out by the government to people in various cities along the
rivers. The tax on these articles from first to last of a long river
voyage is very heavy, customs being levied at various points; it is
scarcely necessary to add that under these arbitrary arrangements, the
oily, conscienceless and tsin-loving Celestial boatman has reduced the
noble art of smuggling to a science. Yung Po smiles blandly at the
officer as he searches carefully every nook and corner of the sampan,
even rooting about with a stick in the moderate amount of bilge-water
collected between the ribs, and when he is through, dismisses him with an
air of innocence and a wealth of politeness that is artfully calculated
to secure less rigorous search next time.

The poling and towing is prolonged till nearly midnight, when we cast
anchor among a lot of house-boats and miscellaneous craft before a city.
Even at this unseemly hour we are visited by an owlish pedler, whose boat
is fitted up with boxes containing various dishes toothsome to the
heathen palates of the water-men. Yung Po and Ah Sum look wistfully over
the ancient pastry-ped-ler's wares, and pick out tiny dishes of sweetened
rice gruel; this they consume with the same unutterable satisfaction that
hungry monkeys display when eating chestnuts, ending the performance by
licking the platters. Although the price is nearly a farthing a dish,
with wanton prodigality Yung Po orders dishes for the whole company,
including even his passenger!

From various indications, it is surmised, as I seek my couch, that the
city opposite is Chao-choo-foo. Inquiry to that effect, as usual, elicits
nothing but a bland grin from Yung Po. When, however, he takes the
unnecessary precaution of warning me not to venture outside the covered
sleeping quarters during the night, intimating that I should probably get
stabbed if I do, I am pretty well satisfied of our arrival. This cautious
proceeding is to be explained by the fact that I am Yung Po's debtor for
two days' diet of rice, turnips, and flabby pork, and he is suspicious
that I might creep forth in the silence and darkness of the night and
leave him in the lurch.

Yung Po now summons his entire pantomimic ability, to inform me that
Chao-choo-foo is still some distance up the river, at all events that is
my interpretation of his words and gestures. On this supposition I enter
no objections when he bids me accompany him to the market and purchase a
new supply of provisions for the remainder of the journey.

Impatient to proceed to Chao-choo-foo I now motion for them to make a
start. Yung Po points to the frowning walls of the city we have just
visited, and blandly says, "Chao-choo-foo." Having accomplished his
purpose of bamboozling me into replenishing his larder, by making me
believe our destination is yet farther upstream, he now turns round and
tells me that we have already arrived. The neat little advantage he has
just been taking of my ignorance with such brilliant results to the
larder of the boat, has visibly stimulated his cupidity, and he now
brazenly demands the payment of filthy lucre, making a circular hole with
his thumb and finger to intimate big rounds in contradistinction to mere
tsin.

The assumption of dense ignorance has not been without its advantages at
various times on my journey around the world, and regarding Yung Po's
gestures with a blankety blank stare, I order him to proceed up stream to
Chao-choo-foo. The result of my refusal to be further bamboozled by the
wily Yung Po, without knowing something of what I am doing, is that I am
shortly threading the mazy alleyways of Chao-choo-foo with Ah Sum and
Yung Po for escort. What the object of this visit may be I haven't the
remotest idea, unless we are proceeding to the quarters of some official
to have my passport seen to, or to try and enlighten my understanding in
regard to Yung Po's claims for battered Mexican dollars.

Vague apprehensions arise that, peradventure, the six dollars paid at
Quang-shi was only a small advance on the cost of my passage up, and that
Yung Po is now piloting me to an official to establish his just claims
upon pretty much all the money I have with me. Ignorant of the proper
rate of boat-hire, disquieting visions of having to retreat to Canton for
the lack of money to pay the expenses of the journey through to Kui-kiang
are flitting through my mind as I follow the pendulous motions of Yung
Po's pig-tail along the streets. The office that I have been conjuring up
in my mind is reached at last, and found to be a neat room provided with
forms and a pulpit like desk.

A pleasant-faced little Chinaman in a blue silk gown is examining a sheet
of written characters through the medium of a pair of tortoise-shell
spectacles. On the wall I am agreeably astonished to see a chromo of Her
Majesty Queen Victoria, with an inscription in Chinese characters. The
little man chin-chins (salaams) heartily, removes his spectacles and
addresses me in a musical tone of voice. Yung Po explains obsequiously
that my understanding Chinese is conspicuously unequal to the occasion, a
fact that at once becomes apparent to the man in blue silk; whereupon he
quickly substitutes written words for spoken ones and presents me the
paper. Finding me equally foggy in regard to these, he excuses my
ignorance with a courteous smile and bow, and summons a gray-queued
underling to whom he gives certain directions. This person leads the way
out and motions for me to follow. Yung Po and Ah Sum bring up behind,
keeping in order such irrepressibles as endeavor to peer too obtrusively
into my face.

Soon we arrive at a quarter with big monstrous dragons painted on the
walls, and other indications of an official residence; palanquin-bearers
in red jackets and hats with tassels of red horse-hair flit past at a
fox-trot with a covered palanquin, preceded by noisy gong-beaters and a
gayly comparisoned pony. This is evidently the yamen or mandarin's
quarter, and here we halt before a door, while our guide enters another
one, and disappears. The door before us is opened cautiously by a
Celestial who looks out and bestows upon mo a friendly smile. A curly
black dog emerges from between his legs and presents himself with much
wagging of tail and other manifestations of canine delight.

All this occurs to me as very strange; but not for a moment does it
prepare me for the agreeable surprise that now presents itself in the
appearance of a young Englishman at the door. It would be difficult to
say which of us is the most surprised at the other's appearance. Mutual
explanations follow, and then I learn that, all unsuspected by me, two
missionaries of the English Presbyterian mission are stationed at
Chao-choo.

At Canton I was told that I wouldn't see a European face nor hear an
English word between that city and Kui-kiang. On their part, they have
read in English papers of my intended tour through China, but never
expected to see me coming through Chao-choo-foo.

I am, of course, overjoyed at the opportunity presented by their
knowledge of the language to arrange for the continuation of my journey
in a manner to know something about what I am doing. They are starting
down the river for Canton to-morrow, so that I am very fortunate in
having arrived today. As their guest for the day I obtain an agreeable
change of diet from the swashy preparations aboard the sampan, and learn
much valuable information about the nature of the country ahead from
their servants. They have never been higher up the river than
Chao-choo-foo themselves, and rather surprise me by giving the distances
to Canton as two hundred and eighty miles.

By their kind offices I am able to make arrangements for a couple of
coolies to carry the bicycle over the Mae-ling Mountains as far as the
city of Nam-ngan on the head waters of the Kan-kiang, whence, if
necessary, I can descend into the Yang-tsi-kiangby river. The route leads
through a mountainous country up to the Mae-ling Pass, thence down to the
head waters of the Kan-kiang.

All is ready by eight o'clock on the morning of October 22d; the coolies
have lashed the bicycle to parallel bamboo poles, as also a tin of lunch
biscuits, a tin of salmon, and of corned beef, articles kindly presented
by the missionaries.

Nam-ngan is said to be two hundred miles distant, but subsequent
experience would lessen the distance by about fifty miles. Our way leads
first through the cemeteries of Chao-choo-foo, and along little winding
stone-ways through the fields leading, in a general sense, along the
right bank of the Pi-kiang.

The villagers in the upper districts of Quang-tung are peculiarly wanting
in facial attractiveness; in some of the villages on the Upper Pi-kiang
the entire population, from puling infants to decrepit old stagers whose
hoary cues are real pig-tails in respect to size, are hideously ugly.
They seem to be simple, primitive people, bent on satisfying their
curiosity; but in the pursuit of this they are, if anything, somewhat
more considerate or more conservative than the Persians.

Mothers hurry home and fetch their babies to see the Fankwae, pointing me
out to their notice, very much like pointing out a chimpanzee in the
Zoological gardens. In these village inns the spirit of democracy
embraces all living things; sore-eyed coolies, leprous hangers-on to the
thread of life, matronly sows and mangy dogs, come, go, and freely mingle
and associate in these filthy little kitchens. When cooking is in
progress, nothing is set off the fire on to the ground but that a hungry
pig stands and eyes it wistfully, but sundry burnings of their sensitive
snouts during the days of their youthful inexperience have made them
preternaturally cautious, so that they are not very meddlesome. The
sleeping room is really a part of the pig-sty, nothing but an open
railing separating pigs and people. A cobble-stone path now leads through
a hilly country, divided up into little rice-fields, peanut gardens, pine
copses, and cemeteries. Peanut stalls one encounters at short intervals,
where ancient dames or wrinkled old men preside over little saucers of
half-roasted nuts, peanut sweet cakes, peanut plain cakes, peanut
crullers, peanut dough, peanut candy, peanuts sprinkled with sugar,
peanuts sprinkled with salt, and peanuts fresh from the ground. The
people seem to be well-nigh living on peanuts, which unhappy diet
probably has something to do with their marvellous ugliness.

In a gathering of villagers standing about me are people with eyes that
are pitched at the most peculiar angles, varying from long, narrow eyes
that slope downward toward the cheek-bone, to others that seem almost
perpendicular. No less astonishing is the contour of their mouths; ragged
holes in their ugly faces are these for the most part, shapeless and
uncouth as anything well could be. They are the most unprepossessing
humans I have seen the whole world round.

As, on the evening of the third day from Chao-choo-foo, we approach
Nam-hung, the people and the country undergo a great change for the
better. The land is more level and better cultivated; villages are
thicker and more populous, and the people are no longer conspicuously
ill-favored. All evidence goes to prove that meagre diet and hard lines
generally, continued from generation to generation, result in the
production of an ill-conditioned and inferior race of people.

A three-storied pagoda on a prominent hill to the right marks the
approach to Nam-hung, and another of nine stories marks the entrance.
Swarms of people follow us through the streets, rushing with eager
curiosity to obtain a glimpse of my face. Sometimes the surging masses of
people, struggling and pushing and dodging, separate me from the coolies,
and the din of the shouting and laughing is so great that my shouts to
them to stop are unheard. A shout, or a wave of the hand results only in
a quickening of the people's curiosity and an increase in the volume of
their own noisiness. Thus hemmed in among a compact mass of apparently
well-meaning, but highly inflammable Chinese, hooting, calling, laughing,
and gesticulating, I follow the lead of Ching-We and Wong-Yup through a
mile of streets to the hittim.

Rich native wares are displayed in great abundance, silks, satins, and
fur-lined clothing so costly and luxurious, and in such numbers, that one
wonders where they find purchasers for them all. Side by side with these
are idol factories, where Joss may be seen in every stage of existence,
from the unhewn log of his first estate to the proud pre-eminence of his
highly finished condition, painted, gilded, and furbished. Coffin
warehouses in which burial cases are displayed in tempting array are
always conspicuous in a Chinese city. The coffins are made of curious
slabs, jointed together in imitation of a solid log; some of these are
varnished in a style calculated to make the eyes of a prospective corpse
beam with joyous anticipation; others are plainly finished, destined for
the abode of humbler and less pretentious remains.

At the hittim, with much angry expostulation and firmness of decision,
the following mob are barred entrance to our room. They are not, by any
means satisfied, however; they quickly smash in a little closed panel so
they can look in, and every crack between the boards betrays a row of
peering eyes. Ching-We is a hollow-eyed victim of the drug, and yearns
for peace and quiet so that he can pass away the evening amid the
seductive pleasures of the opium-smoker's heaven. The rattle and racket
of the determined sight-seers outside, clamorously demanding to come in
and see the Fankwae, annoy him to the verge of desperation under the
circumstances.

He patiently endeavors to forget it all, however, and to banish the whole
troublesome world from his thoughts, by producing his opium-pipe and lamp
and attempting to smoke. But just as he is getting comfortably settled
down to rolling the little knob of opium on the needle and has puckered
his lips for a good pull, a decayed turnip comes sailing through the open
panel and hits him on the back. The people looking in add insult to
injury by indulging in an audible snicker, as Ching-We springs up and
glares savagely into their faces. This indiscreet expression of their
levity at once seals their doom, for Ching-We grabs a pole and hits the
boards such a resounding whack, and advances upon them so savagely, that
only a few undaunted youngsters remain at their post; the panel is
repaired, and comparative peace and quiet restored for a short time. No
sooner, however, has Ching-We mounted to the first story of heavenly
beatitude from the effects of the first pipe of opium, than loud howls of
"Fankwae. Fankwae!" are heard outside, and a shower of stones comes
rattling against the boards. Ching-We goes to the partition door and
indulges in an angry and reproachful attack upon the unoffending head of
the establishment. The unoffending head of the establishment goes
immediately to the other door and indulges in an angry and reproachful
attack upon the shouters and stone-throwers outside. The Chinese are
peculiar in many things, and in nothing, perhaps, more than their respect
for words of reproach. Whether the long-suffering innkeeper hurled at
their heads one of the moral maxims of Confucius, or an original
production of his own brain, is outside the pale of my comprehension; but
whatever it is, there is no more disturbance outside.

It must be about midnight when I am awakened from a deep sleep by the
gabble of many people in the room. Transparent lanterns adorned with big
red characters held close to my face cause me to blink like a cat upon
opening my wondering eyes. These lanterns are held by yameni-runners in
semi-military garb, to light up my features for the inspection of an
officer wearing a rakish Tartar hat with a brass button and a red
horse-hair tassel. The yameni-runners wear the same general style of
head-dress, but with a loop instead of the brass button. The officer is
possessed of a wonderfully soft, musical voice, and holds forth at great
length concerning me, with Ching-We.

The officer takes my passport to the yamen, and ere leaving the room,
pantomimically advises me to go to sleep again. In the morning Ching-We
returns the two-foot square document with the Viceregal seal, and winks
mysteriously to signify that everything is lovely, and that the goose of
permission to go ahead to Nam-ngan hangs auspiciously high.

The morning opens up cool and cloudy, the pebble pathway is wider and
better than yesterday, for it is now the thoroughfare along which
thousands of coolies stagger daily with heavy loads of merchandise to the
commencement of river navigation at Nam-hung. The district is populous
and productive; bales of paper, bags of rice and peanuts, bales of
tobacco, bamboo ware, and all sorts of things are conveyed by muscular
coolies to Nam-hung to be sent down the river.

Gradually have we been ascending since leaving Nam-hung, and now is
presented the astonishing spectacle of a broad flight of stone steps,
certainly not less than a mile in length, leading up, up, up, to the
summit of the Mae-ling Pass. Up and down this wonderful stairway hundreds
of coolies are toiling with their burdens, scores of travellers in
holiday attire and several palanquins bearing persons of wealth or
official station. The stairway winds and zigzags up the narrow defile,
averaging in width about twenty feet. Refreshment houses are perched here
and there along the side, sometimes forming a bridge over the steps.

The stairway terminates at the summit in a broad stone archway of ancient
build, over which are several rooms; this is evidently an office for the
collection of revenue from the merchandise carried over the pass.
Standing beneath this arch one obtains a comprehensive view of the
country below to the north; a pretty picture is presented of gabled
villages and temples, green hills, and pale-gold ripening rice-fields.
The little silvery contributaries of the Kan-kiang ramify the picture
like veins in the human palm, and the brown, cobbled pathways are seen
leading from village to village, disappearing from view at short
intervals beneath a cluster of tiled houses.

Steeper but somewhat shorter steps lead down from the pass, and the
pathway follows along the bank of a tiny stream, leading through an
almost continuous string of villages to the walls of Nam-ngan.



CHAPTER XVIII.

DOWN THE KAN-KIANG VALLEY.

The country is still nothing but river and mountains, and a sampan is
engaged to float me down the Kan-kiang as far as Kan-tchou-foo, from
whence I hope to be able to resume my journey a-wheel. The water is very
low in the upper reaches of the river, and the sampan has to be abandoned
a few miles from where it started. I then get two of the boatmen to carry
the wheel, intending to employ them as far as Kan-tchou-foo.

From the stories current at Canton, the reputation of Kan-tchou-foo is
rather calculated to inspire a lone Fankwae with sundry misgivings. Some
time ago an English traveller, named Cameron, had in that city an
unpleasantly narrow escape from being burned alive. The Celestials
conceived the diabolical notion of wrapping him in cotton, saturating him
with peanut-oil, and setting him on fire. The authorities rescued him not
a moment too soon.

Ere traversing many miles of mountain-paths we emerge upon a partially
cultivated country, where the travelling is somewhat better than in
Quang-tung. The Mae-ling Pass was the boundary line between the provinces
of Quang-tung and Kiang-se; my journey from Nam-ngan will lead me through
the whole length of the latter great province, between three hundred and
four hundred miles north and south.

The paths hereabout are of dirt mostly, and although wretched roads for a
wheelman in the abstract, are nevertheless admirable in comparison with
the stone-ways of Quang-tung. Gratified at the prospect of being able to
proceed to Kui-kiang by land after all, I determine at once that, if the
country gets no worse by to-morrow, I will dismiss the boatmen and pursue
my way alone again on the bicycle. This resolve very quickly develops
into an earnest determination to rid myself of the incubus of the
snail-like movements of my new carriers, who are decidedly out of their
element when walking, as I am very quickly brought to understand by the
annoying frequency of their halts at way-side tea-houses to rest and
smoke and eat.

Ere we are five miles from the sampan these festive mariners of the
Kan-kiang have developed into shuffling, shirking gormandizers, who peer
longingly into every eating-house we pass by and evince a decided
tendency to convert their task into a picnic. Finding me uncomplaining in
footing their respective "bills of lading" at the frequent places where
they rest and indulge their appetites for tid-bits, they advance, in the
brief space of four hours, from a simple diet of peanuts and bubbles of
greasy pastry to such epicurean dishes as pickled duck, salted eggs, and
fricasseed kitten!

Fricasseed kitten is all very well for people who have been reared in the
lap of luxury, and tenderly nurtured; but neither of these half-clad
Kan-kiang navigators was born with the traditional silver spoon. From
infancy they have had to thrive the best way they could on rice,
turnip-tops, peanuts, and delusive expectations of pork and fish; their
assumption of the delicacies above mentioned betrays the possession of
bumps of assurance bigger than goose-eggs. It is equivalent to a
moneyless New York guttersnipe sailing airily into Delmonico's and
ordering porter-house steak and terrapin, because some benevolent person
volunteered to feed him for a day or two at his expense. Fearful lest
their ambitious palates should soar into the extravagant and bankrupting
realms of bird-nest soup, shark's fins, and deer-horn jelly, I firmly
resolve to dispense with their services at the first favorable
opportunity.

Many of the larger villages we pass through are walled with enormously
massive brick walls, all bearing evidence of battering at the hands of
the Tai-pings. Owing to the frequent restings of the carriers we are
overtaken toward evening by a fellow boat-passenger, Oolong, who after
our departure determined to follow our enterprising example and walk to
Kan-tchou-foo. He comes trudging briskly along with a little white
tea-pot swinging in his hand and an umbrella under his arm.

The day is disagreeably cold by reason of the chilly typhoons that blow
steadily from the north. I have considerately encased the thinnest clad
carrier in my gossamer rubbers to shield him from the wind, but Oolong is
even thinner clad than he, and he has to hustle along briskly to keep his
Celestial blood in circulation.

No sooner do we reach the hittim where it is proposed to remain over
night than poor Oolong gets into trouble by appropriating to his own use
the quilted garment of one of the employes of the place, which he finds
lying around loose. The irate owner of the garment loudly accuses Oolong
of wanting to steal it, and notwithstanding his vigorous protestations to
the contrary he is denounced as a thief and summarily ejected from the
premises.

The last I ever see of Oolong and his white tea-pot and umbrella is when
he pauses for a moment to give his accusers a bit of his mind before
vanishing into outer darkness.

The morning is quite wintry, and the people are clad in the seasonable
costumes of the country. Huge quilted garments are put on one over
another until their figures are almost of ball-like rotundity; the hands
are drawn up entirely out of sight in the long, loosely flowing sleeves,
while the head is half-hidden by being drawn, turtle-like, into their
blue-quilted shells. Like the Persians, they seem nipped and miserable in
the cold; looking at them, standing about with humped backs and pinched
faces this morning, I wonder, with the Chinaman's happy nonchalance about
committing suicide, why they don't all seek relief within the nice warm
tombs at the end of the village. Surely it can be nothing but their
rampant curiosity, urging them to live on and on in the hopes of seeing
something new and novel, that keeps them from collapsing entirely in the
winter.

My epicurean carriers indulge largely in chopped cayenne peppers this
morning, which they mis liberally with their food.

The paths at least get no worse than they were yesterday, and to-day I
meet the first passenger-wheelbarrow, with its big wheel in the centre, a
bulky female with a baby on one side, and a bale of merchandise on the
other. Sometimes our road brings us to the banks of the Kan-kiang, and
most of the time, even when a mile or two away, we can see the queer,
corrugated sails of the sampans.

Once to-day we happen upon a fleet of fourteen cormorant fishers at a
moment when the excitement of their pursuit is at its height. About
seventy or eighty cormorants are diving and chasing about among a shoal
of fish in a big silent pool, while fourteen wildly excited Chinamen,
clad in abbreviated breech-cloths, dart their bamboo rafts about hither
and thither, urging each one his own cormorants to dive by tapping them
smartly with their poles. The scene is animated in the extreme, a unique
picture of Chinese river-life not to be easily forgotten.

About two o'clock in the afternoon we arrive at a city that I flatter
myself is Kan-tchou-foo; all attempts to question the carriers or anybody
else in regard to the matter results in the hopeless bewilderment of both
them and myself. The carriers are not such ignoramuses in the art of
pantomime, however, but that they are able to announce their intention of
stopping here for the remainder of the day, and night.

The liberality of my purse for a short day and a half, with its
concomitant luxurious living, has so thoroughly demoralized the
unaccustomed river-men, that they encroach still further upon my bounty
and forbearance by revelling all night in the sensuous delights of opium,
at my expense, and turning up in the morning in anything but fit
condition for the road. Putting this and that together, I conclude that
we have not yet readied Kan-tchou-foo; but the carriers have developed
into an insufferable nuisance, a hinderance to progress, rather than a
help, so I determine to take them no farther.

I tell them nothing of my intentions until we reach a lonely spot a mile
from the city. Here I tender them suitable payment for their services and
the customary present, attach my loose effects to the bicycle and about
my person, and motion them to return. As I anticipated, they make a
clamorous demand for more money, even seizing hold of the bicycle and
shouting angrily in my face. This I had easily foreseen, and wisely
preferred to have their angry demonstrations all to myself, rather than
in a crowded city where they could perhaps have excited the mob against
me.

For the first time in China I have to appeal to my Smith & Wesson in the
interests of peace; without its terrifying possession I should on this
occasion undoubtedly have been under the necessity of "wiping up a small
section of Kiang-se" with these two worthies in self defence. In the
affairs of individuals, as of nations, it sometimes operates to the
preservation of peace to be well prepared for war. How many times has
this been the case with myself on this journey around the world!

The barometer of satisfaction at the prospect of reaching Kui-kiang
before the appearance of old age rises from zero-level to a quite
flattering height, as I find the pathways more than half ridable after
delivering myself of the dead weight of native "assistance." Twelve miles
farther and I am approaching the grim high walls of a large city that
instinctively impresses me as being Kan-tchou-foo. The confused babel of
noises within the teeming wall-encompassed city reaches my ears in the
form of an "ominous buzz," highly suggestive of a hive of bees, into the
interior of which it would be extremely ticklish work for a Fankwae to
enter. "Half an hour hence," I mentally speculate, "the pitying angels
may be weeping over the spectacle of my seal-brown roasted remains being
dragged about the streets by the ribald and exultant rag, tag, and
bobtail of Kan-tchou-foo."

Reflecting on the horrors of cotton, peanut-oil, and fire, I sit down for
half an hour at a peanut-seller's stall, eat peanuts, and meditatively
argue the situation of whether it would be better, if seized by a
murderous mob, to take the desperate chances of being, like Cameron,
rescued at the last minute from the horrors of incineration, or to take
my own life. Fourteen cartridges and a 38 Smith & Wesson is the sum total
of my armament. Emptying my revolver among the mob, and then being caught
while reloading, would mean a lingering death by the most diabolical
tortures, processes that the heathen Chinee has reduced to a refinement
of cruelty unsurpassed in the old Spanish inquisition chambers.

The saucer of peanuts eaten, I pursue my way along the cobblestone path
leading to the gate, without having come to any more definite conclusion
than to keep cool and govern my actions according to circumstances. Ten
minutes after taking this precaution I am trundling along a paved street,
somewhat wider than the average Chinese city street, in the thick of the
inevitable excited crowd.

The city probably contains two hundred thousand people, judging from the
length of this street and the wonderful quantity and richness of the
goods displayed in the shops. Along this street I see a more lavish
display of rich silks, furs, tiger-skins, and other evidences of opulence
than was shown me at Canton. The pressure of the crowds reduces me at
once to the necessity of drifting helplessly along, whithersoever the
seething human tide may lead. Sometimes I fancy the few officiously
interested persons about me, whom I endeavor to question in regard to the
hoped-for Jesuit mission, have interpreted my queries aright and are
piloting me thither; only to conclude by their actions, the next minute,
that they have not the remotest conception of my wants, beyond reaching
the other side of the city. Now and then some ruffian in the crowd, in a
spirit of wanton devilment, utters a wild, exultant whoop and raises the
cry of "Fankwae. Fankwae." The cry is taken up by others of his kind, and
the whoops and shouts of "Fankwae" swell into a tumultuous howl.

Anxious moments these; the spirit of wanton mischief fairly bristles
through the crowd, evidently needing but the merest friction to set it
ablaze and render my situation desperate. My coat-tail is jerked, the
bicycle stopped, my helmet knocked off, and other trifling indignities
offered; but to these acts I take no exceptions, merely placing my helmet
on again when it is knocked off, and maintaining a calm serenity of face
and demeanor.

A dozen times during this trying trundle of a mile along the chief
business thoroughfare of Kan-tchou-foo, the swelling whoops and yells of
"Fankwae" seem to portend the immediate bursting of the anticipated
storm, and a dozen times I breathe easier at the subsidence of its
volume. The while I am still hoping faintly for a repetition in part of
my delightful surprise at Chao-choo-foo, we arrive at a gate leading out
on to a broad paved quay of the Kan-kiang, which flows close by the
walls.

Here I first realize the presence of Imperial troops, and awaken to the
probability that I am indebted to their known proximity for the
self-restraint of the mob, and their comparatively mild behavior. These
Celestial warriors would make excellent characters on the spectacular
stage; their uniforms are such marvels of color and pattern that it is
difficult to disassociate them from things theatrical. Some are uniformed
in sky blue, and others in the gayest of scarlet gowns, blue aprons with
little green pockets, and blue turbans or Tartar hats with red tassels.
Their gowns and aprons are patterned so as to spread out to a ridiculous
width at bottom, imparting to the gay warrior an appearance not unlike an
opened fan, his head constituting the handle.

As a matter of fact, the soldiers of the Imperial army are the biggest
dandies in the country; when on the march coolies are provided to carry
their muskets and accoutrements. As seen today, beneath the walls of
Kan-tchou-foo, they impress me far more favorably as dandies than as
soldiers equal to the demand of modern warfare.

Like soldiers the whole world round, however, they seem to be a
good-natured, superior class of men; no sooner does my presence become
known than several of them interest themselves in checking the aggressive
crowding of the people about me. Some of them even accompany me down to
the ferry and order the ancient ferryman to take me across for nothing.
This worthy individual, however, enters such a wordy protestation against
this that I hand him a whole handful of the picayunish tsin. The soldiers
make him give me back the over-payment, to the last tsin. The sordid
money-making methods of the commercial world seem to be regarded with
more or less contempt by the gallant sons of Mars everywhere, not
excepting even the soldiers of the Chinese army.

The scene presented by the city and the camp from across the river is of
a most pronounced mediaeval character, as well as one of the prettiest
sights imaginable. The grim walla of the city extend for nearly a mile
along the undulating bank of the Kan-kiang, with a narrow strip of
greensward between the solid gray battlements and the blue, wind-rippled
waters of the river. Along the whole distance, rising and falling with
the undulations of the bank, are ranged a continuous row of gayly
fluttering banners-red, purple, blue, green, yellow, and all these colors
combined in others that are striped as prettily as the prettiest of
barber-poles-probably not less than five hundred flags. These
multitudinous banners flutter from long, spear-headed bamboo-staves, and
of themselves present a wonderfully pretty effect in combination with the
blue waters, the verdant bank, and the gray walls. But in addition to
these are thousands of soldiers, equally gaudy as to raiment, reclining
irregularly along the same greensward, each warrior a bright bit of
coloring on the verdant groundwork of the bank.

Over variable paths and through numerous villages and hamlets my way now
leads, my next objective point being Ki-ngan-foo. At first a country of
curious red buttes, terraced rice-fields, and reservoirs of
mountain-drift water, serving the double purpose of fish-ponds and
irrigating reservoirs, it develops later into a more mountainous region,
where the bicycle quickly degenerates into a thing more ornamental than
useful.

On a narrow mountain-trail is met a gentleman astride of a chunky
twelve-hand pony. This diminutive steed is almost concealed beneath a
wealth of gay trappings, to which are attached hundreds of jingling bells
that fill the air with music as he walks or jogs along. In his fright at
the bicycle, or me, he charges wildly up the steep mountain-slope,
unseating his rider and making for the mountain-top like the
all-possessed. His rider takes the sensible course of immediately
pursuing the pony, instead of wasting time in unprofitable fault-finding
with me.

Few people of these obscure mountain-hamlets have ever seen a Fankwae;
many, doubtless, have never even heard of the existence of such queer
beings. They gather in a crowd about me when I stay to seek refreshments;
the general query of "What is he? what is he?" passed from one to
another, sometimes elicits the laconically expressed information of"
Fankwae" from some knowing villager or traveller passing through, but
often their question remains unanswered, because among the whole assembly
there is nobody who really knows what I am.

The wonderful industry of these people is more apparent in this
mountain-country than anywhere else. The valleys are very narrow, often
little more than mere ravines between the mountains, and wherever a
square yard of productive soil is to be found it is cultivated to its
utmost capacity. In places the mountain-ravines are terraced, to their
very topmost limits, tier after tier of substantial rock wall banking up
a few square yards of soil that have been gathered with infinite labor
and patience from the ledges and crevices of the rocky hills. The
uppermost terrace is usually a pond of water, gathered by the artificial
drainage of still higher levels, and reserved for the irrigation of the
score or more descending "steps" of the rice-growing stairway beneath it.

Notwithstanding the mountainous nature of the country and the dallying
progress through Kan-tchou-foo, so lightsome does it seem to be once more
journeying along, free and unencumbered, that I judge my day's progress
to be not less than fifty miles when nightfall overtakes me in a little
mountain-village. It is the first day's progress in China with which I
have been really satisfied. Nevertheless, it has been a toilsome day,
taken altogether, and when nothing but tea and rice confronts me at
supper the reward seems so wretchedly inadequate that I rise in rebellion
at once.

Neither eggs, fish, nor meat are to be obtained, the good woman at the
little hittim explains in a high key; neither loan, ue, nor ue-ah,
nothing but ch'ung-ch'a and mai. The woman is evidently a dear,
considerate mortal, however, for she surveys my evident disgust with
sorrowful visage, and then, suddenly brightening up, motions for me to be
seated and leaves the house. Presently the good dame returns with a smile
of triumph on her face and an object in her hand that, from casual
observation, might be the hind-quarters of a rabbit. Bringing it to me in
the most matter-of-fact manner, she holds it near my face and, pointing
to it with the air of a cateress proudly conscious of having secured
something that she knows will be unusually acceptable to her guest, she
explains "me-aow, me-aow!" The woman's naivete is simply sublime, and her
sagacity in explaining the nature of the meat by imitating a kitten's cry
instead of telling me its Chinese name stamps her as superior to her
surroundings; but, for all that, I conclude to draw the line at kitten
and sup off plain rice and tea. "Me-aow, me-aow" might not be altogether
objectionable if one knew it to have been a nice healthy kitten, but my
observations of Chinese unsqueamishness about the food they eat leaves an
abundance of room for doubt about the nature of its death and its
suitableness for human consumption. I therefore resist the temptation to
indulge.

A clear morning and a white frost usher in the commencement of another
march across the mountains, over cobbled paths for the greater part of
the forenoon. The sun is warm, but the mountain-breezes are cool and
refreshing. About noon I ferry across a large tributary of the Kan-kiang,
and follow for miles a cobble-stone path that leads down its eastern
bank.

According to my map, Ki-ngan-foo should be about fifty miles south of
Kan-tchou-foo, so that I ought to have reached there by noon to-day. All
due allowance, however, must be made for the map-makers in mapping out a
country where their opportunities for accuracy must have been of the
meagerest kind. Small occasion for fault-finding under the circumstances,
I think, for in the middle of the afternoon the gray battlements, the
pagodas, and the bright coloring of military flags a few miles farther
down stream tell me that the geographers have not erred to any
considerable extent.

It is about sunset when I enter the gates and find myself within the
Manchu quarter, that portion of the city walled off for the residence of
the Manchu garrison and their families. The hittim to which the quickly
gathering crowd conduct me is found to be occupied by a rather
prepossessing female, who, however, looks frightened at my approach and
shuts the door. Nor will she consent to open it again until reassured of
my peaceful character by the lengthy explanation of the people outside,
and a searching scrutiny of my person through a crack. After opening the
door again, and receiving what I opine to be a statement of the financial
possibilities of the situation from some person who has heard fabulous
accounts of the Fankwaes' liberality, her apprehensiveness dissolves into
a smile of welcome and she motions for me to come in.

The evening is chilly, and everybody is swollen out to ridiculous
proportions by the numerous thick-quilted garments they are wearing. All
present, whether male or female, are likewise distinguished by abnormally
protruding stomachs. Being Manchus, and therefore the accredited warriors
of the country, it occurs to ine that perhaps the fashionable fad among
them is to pad out their stomachs in token of the possession of
extraordinary courage, the stomach being regarded by the Chinese as the
seat of both courage and intelligence. In the absence of large stomachs
provided by nature, perhaps these proud Manchus come to the correction of
niggardly nature with wadding, as do various hollow-chested people in the
"regions of mist and snow," the dreary, sunless land whence cometh the
genus Fankwae.

But are the females also ambitious to be regarded as warriors, Amazonian
soldiers, full of courage and warlike aspirations. As though in direct
reply to my mental queries, a woman standing by solves the problem for me
at once by producing from beneath her garments a wicker-basket containing
a jar of hot ashes; stirring the deadened coals up a little she replaces
it, evidently attaching it to her garments underneath by a little hook.

Among the hundreds of visitors that drop in to see the Fankwae and his
bicycle is an intelligent old officer who actually knows that the great
country of the Fankwaes is divided into different nationalities; either
that, or else he thinks the Fankwaes have another name, said name being
"Ying-yun" (English). Some idea of the dense ignorance of the Chinese of
the interior concerning the rest of the world may be gathered from the
fact that this officer is the first person since leaving Chao-choo-foo,
upon whom the word "Ying-yun" has not been wholly thrown away.

Scenes of more than democratic equality and fraternity are witnessed in
this Manchu hittim, where silk-robed mandarins and uncouth ragamuffins
stand side by side and enjoy the luxury of seeing me take lessons in the
use of the chop-sticks. All through China one cannot fail to be impressed
with the freedom of intercourse between people of high and low degree;
beggars with unwashed faces and disgusting sores and well-nigh naked
bodies stand and discuss my appearance and movements with mandarins of
high degree, without the least show of presumption on the one hand or
condescension on the other.

Fully under the impression that Ki-ngan-foo has now peacefully come and
peacefully gone from the pale of my experiences, I follow along awful
stone paths next morning, leading across a level, cultivated country for
several miles. Before long, however, a country of red clay hills and
limited cultivable depressions is reached, where well-worn foot-trails
over the natural soil afford more or less excellent going. In this
particular district the women are observed to be all golden lilies,
whereas the proportion of deformed feet in other rural districts has been
rather small. Seeing that deformed feet add fifty or a hundred per cent,
to the social and matrimonial value of a Chinese female, one cannot help
applauding the enterprise of the people in this district as compared to
the apathy existing on the same subject in some others. The comparative
poverty of their clayey undulations has doubtless awakened them to the
opportunities of increasing values in other directions. Hence they
convert all their female infants into golden lilies, for whom some
prospective husband will be willing to pay a hundred dollars more than if
they were possessed of vulgar extremities as provided by nature.

The people hereabout seem unusually timid and alarmed at my strange
appearance; it is both laughable and painful to see the women hobble off
across the fields, frightened almost out of their wits. At times I can
look about me and, within a radius of five hundred yards, see twenty or
thirty females, all with deformed feet, scuttling off toward the villages
with painful efforts at speed. One might well imagine them to be a colony
of crippled rabbits, alarmed at the approach of a dog, endeavoring to
hobble away from his destructive presence.

In the villages they seem equally apprehensive of danger, making it
somewhat difficult to obtain anything to eat. At one village where I halt
for refreshments the people scurry hastily into their houses at seeing me
coming, and peep timidly out again after I have passed. Leaning the
bicycle against a wall, I proceed in search of something to eat. A basket
of oranges first attracts my attention; they are setting just inside the
door of a little shop. The two women in charge look scared nearly out of
their wits as I appear at the door and point to the basket; both of them
retreat pell-mell into a rear apartment, and, holding the door ajar, peep
curiously through to see what I am going to do. While my attention is
directed for a moment to something down the street, one daring soul darts
out and bears the basket of oranges triumphantly into the back room. For
this heroic deed I beg to recommend this brave woman for the Victoria
Cross; among the golden lilies of the Celestial Empire are no doubt many
such brave souls, coequal with Grace Darling or the Maid of Saragossa.

Baffled and out-generaled by this brilliant sortie, I meander down to the
other end of the village and invade the premises of an old man engaged in
chopping up a piece of pork with a cleaver. The gallant pork-butcher
gathers up the choicest parts of his meat and carries them into a rear
room; with a wary yet determined look in his eye he then returns, and
proceeds to mince up the few remaining odds and ends. It is plainly
evident that he fancies himself in dangerous company, and is prepared to
defend himself desperately with his meat-chopper in case he gets cornered
up.

Finally I discover a really courageous individual, in the person of a man
presiding over a peanut and treacle-cake establishment; this man, while
evidently uneasy in his mind, manfully steels his nerves to the task of
attending to my wants. Presently the people begin to gather at a
respectful distance to watch me eat, and five minutes later, by a
judicious distribution of a few saucers of peanuts among the youngsters,
I gain their entire confidence.

About four o'clock in the afternoon my road once again brings me to a
ferry across the Kan-kiang. Just previous to reaching the river, I meet
on the road eight men, carrying a sedan containing a hideous black idol
about twice as large as a man. A mile back from the ferry is another
large walled city with a magnificent pagoda; this city I fondly imagine
to be Lin-kiang, next on my map and itinerary to Ki-ngan-foo, and I
mentally congratulate myself on the excellent time I have been making for
the last two days.

Across the ferry are several official sampans with a number of boys gayly
dressed in red and carrying old battle-axes; also a small squad of
soldiers with bows and arrows. No sooner does the ferryman land me than
the officer in charge of the party, with a wave of his hand in my
direction, orders a couple of soldiers to conduct me into the city; his
order is given in an off-hand manner peculiarly Chinese, as though I were
a mere unimportant cipher in the matter, whose wishes it really was not
worth while to consult. The soldiers conduct me to the city and into the
yamen or official quarter, where I am greeted with extreme courtesy by a
pleasant little officer in cloth top-boots and a pigtail that touches his
heels. He is one of the nicest little fellows I have met in China, all
smiles and bustling politeness and condescension; a trifle too much of
the latter, perhaps, were we at all on an equality; but quite excusable
under the conditions of Celestial refinement and civilization on one
side, and untutored barbarism on the other.

Having duly copied my passport (apropos of the Chinese doing almost
everything in a precisely opposite way to ourselves may be pointed out
the fact that, instead of attaching vises to the traveller's passport,
like European nations, each official copies off the entire document), the
little officer with much bowing and scraping leads the way back to the
ferry. My explanation that I am bound in the other direction elicits
sundry additional bobbings of the head and soothing utterances and
smiles, but he points reassuringly to the ferry. Arriving at the river,
the little officer is dumbfounded to discover that I have no sampan--that
I am not travelling by boat, but overland on the bicycle. Such a
possibility had never entered his head; nor is it wonderful that it
should not, considering the likelihood that nobody, in all his
experience, had ever travelled to Kui-kiang from here except by boat.
Least of all would he imagine that a stray Fankwae should be travelling
otherwise.

At the ferry we meet the officer who first ordered the soldiers to take
me in charge, and who now accompanies us back to the yamen. Evidently
desirous of unfathoming the mystery of my incomprehensible mode of
travelling through the country, these two officers spend much of the
evening with me in the hittim smoking and keeping up an animated effort
to converse. Notwithstanding my viceregal passport, the superior officer
very plainly entertains suspicions as to my motives in undertaking this
journey; his superficial politeness no more conceals his suspicions than
a glass globe conceals a fish. Before they take their departure three
yameni-runners are stationed in my room to assume the responsibility for
my safe-keeping during the night.

An hour or so is spent waiting in the yamen next morning, apparently for
the gratification of visitors continually arriving. When the yamen is
crowded with people I am provided with a boiled fish and a pair of
chop-sticks. Witnessing the consumption of this fish by the Fankwae is
the finale of the "exhibition," and candor compels me to chronicle the
fact that it fairly brings down the house.

It is a drizzly, disagreeable morning as I trundle out of the city gate
over cobble-stones, made slippery by the rain. Walking before me is a
slim young yameni-runner with a short bamboo-spear, and on his back a
white bull's-eye eighteen inches in diameter; he is bare-footed and
bare-headed and bare-legged. In the poverty of his apparel, the all-round
contempt of personal appearance and cleanliness, and the total absence of
individual ambition, this young person reminds me forcibly of our
happy-go-lucky friend Osman, in the garden at Herat.

In striking contrast to him is the dandified individual who brings up the
rear, about ten paces behind the bicycle. He likewise is a yameni-runner,
but of higher degree than his compatriot of the advance; instead of a
vulgar and rusty spear, he is armed with an oiled paper parasol, a
flaming red article ornamented with blue characters and gilt women.
Besides this gay mark of distinction and social superiority, he owns both
shoes and hat, carrying the former, however, chiefly in his hand; when
fairly away from town, he deliberately turns his red-braided jacket
inside out to prevent it getting dirty. This transformation brings about
a change from the two white bull's-eyes, to big rings of stitching by
which these distinguishing appendages are attached.

A substantial meal of yams and pork is obtained at a way-side
eating-house, after which yet another evidence of the sybaritic tastes of
the rear-guard comes to light, in the form of a beautiful jade-stone
opium pipe, with which he regales himself after chow-chow. He is, withal,
possessed of more than average intelligence; it is from questioning him
that I learn the rather startling fact that, instead of having reached
Lin-kiang, I have not yet even come to Ki-ngan-foo. Ta-ho is the name of
the city we have just left, and Ki-ngan-foo is whither we are now
directly bound.

The weather at noon becomes warm, and the luxurious personage at the rear
delivers his parasol, and shoes, and jade-stone pipe over to the slender
and lissom advance guard to carry, to spare himself the weariness of
their weight. Tea and tid-bit houses are plentiful, and stoppages for
refreshing ourselves frequent. The rear guard assumes considerable
dignity when in the presence of a crowd of sore-eyed rustics; he chides
their ill-bred giggling at my appearance and movements by telling them,
no matter how funny I appear to them here, I am a mandarin in my own
country. After hearing this the crowd regard me with even more curiosity;
but their inquisitiveness is now heavily freighted with respect.

Some of the costumes of the women in this region are very pretty and
characteristic, and many of the females are themselves not devoid of
beauty, as beauty goes among the Mongols. Particularly do I notice one
to-day, whose tiny, doll-like extremities are neatly bound with red,
blue, and green ribbon; her face is a picture of refinement, her
head-dress a marvel of neatness and skill, and her whole manner and
make-up attractive. Unlike her timid and apprehensive sisters of
yesterday, she sees nothing in me to be afraid of; on the contrary, she
comes and sits beside ine on the bench and makes herself at home with the
peanuts and sweets I purchase, and laughs merrily when I offer to give
her a ride on the bicycle.

The sun is sinking behind the mountains to the west when we approach the
city of Ki-ngan-foo, its northern extremity marked by a very ancient
pagoda now rapidly crumbling to decay. The city forms a crescent on the
west bank of the Kan-kiang, the main street running parallel with the
river for something like half a mile before terminating at the walls of
the Manchu quarter.

The fastidious gentleman at the rear has betrayed symptoms of a very
uneasy state of mind during the afternoon, and now, as he halts the
procession a moment to turn the bull's-eye side of his coat outward, and
to put on his shoes, he gives me a puzzled, sorrowful look and shakes his
head dolefully. The trickiness of former acquaintances causes me to
misinterpret this display of emotion into an hypocritical assumption of
sorrow at the near prospect of our parting company, with ulterior designs
on the nice long strings of tsin he knows to be in my leathern case. It
soon becomes evident, however, that trouble of some kind is anticipated
in Ki-ngan-foo, for he points to my revolver and then to the city and
solemnly shakes his head.

The crescent water-front, the broad blue river and white sand, the plain
dotted with smiling villages opposite, the tall pagodas, the swarms of
sampans with their quaint sails, form the composite parts of a very
pretty and striking picture, as seen from the northern tip of the
crescent.

Near the old ruined pagoda the rear-guard points in an indifferent sort
of a way to a substantial brick edifice surmounted by a plain wooden
cross. Ah! a Jesuit mission, so help me Pius IX! now shall I meet some
genial old French priest, who will make me comfortable for the night and
enlighten me in regard to my bearings, distances, and other subjects
about which I am in a very thick fog. Instead of the fifty miles from
Kan-tchou-foo to Ki-ngan-foo indicated on my map, it has proved to be
considerably over a hundred.

The sole occupant of the building, however, is found to be a fat,
monkish-looking Chinaman, who knows never a word of either French or
pidgeon English. He says he knows Latin, but for all the benefit this
worthy accomplishment is to me he might as well know nothing but his own
language. He informs me, by an expressive motion of the hand, that the
missionaries have departed; whether gone to their everlasting reward,
however, or only on a temporary flight, his pantomimic language fails to
record. Subsequently I learn that they were compelled to flee the
country, owing to the hostility aroused by the operations of the French
in Tonquin.

Instead of extending that cordial greeting and consideration one would
naturally expect from a converted Chinaman whose Fankwae accomplishments
soar to the classic altitude of Latin, the Celestial convert seems rather
anxious to get rid of me; he is evidently on pins and needles for fear my
presence should attract a mob to the place and trouble result therefrom.

As we proceed down the street my appearance seems to stir the population
up to a pitch of wild excitement. Merchants dart in and out of their
shops, people in rags, people in tags, and people in gorgeous apparel,
buzz all about me and flit hither and thither like a nest of stirred-up
wasps. If curiosity has seemed to be rampant in other cities it passes
all the limits of Occidental imagination in Ki-ngau-foo. Upon seeing me
everybody gives utterance to a peculiar spontaneous squeak of surprise,
reminding me very much of the monkeys' notes of alarm in the tree-tops
along the Grand Trunk road, India.

One might easily imagine the very lives of these people dependent upon
their success in obtaining a glimpse of my face. Well-dressed citizens
rush hastily ahead, stoop down, and peer up into my face as I trundle
past, with a determination to satisfy their curiosity that our language
is totally inadequate to describe, and which our temperament renders
equally difficult for us to understand.

By the time we are half-way along the street the whole city seems in wild
tumult. Men rush ahead, peer into my face, deliver themselves of the
above-mentioned peculiar squeak, and run hastily down some convergent
alley-way. Stall-keepers quickly gather up their wares, and shop-keepers
frantically snatch their goods inside as they hear the tumult and see the
mob coming down the street. The excitement grows apace, and the same
wanton cries of "Fank-wae. Fankwae!" that followed me through
Kan-tchou-foo are here repeated with wild whoops and exultant cries. One
would sometimes think that all the devils of Dante's "Inferno" had gotten
into the crowd and set them wild with the spirit of mischief.

By this time the yameni-runners are quaking with fear; he of the paper
parasol and jade-stone pipe walks beside me, convulsively clutching my
arm, and with whiningly anxious voice shouts out orders to his
subordinate. In response to these orders the advance-guard now and then
hurries forward and peeps around certain corners, as though expecting
some hidden assailants.

Thus far, although the symptoms of trouble have been gradually assuming
more and more alarming proportions, there has been nothing worse than
demoniacal howls. The chief reason of this, however, it now appears, has
been the absence of loose stones, for no sooner do we enter an inferior
quarter where loose stones and bricks are scattered about, than they come
whistling about our ears. The poor yameni-runners shout deprecatingly at
the mob; in return the mob loudly announce their intention of working
destruction upon my unoffending head. Fortunately for me that head is
pretty thoroughly hidden beneath the thick pith thatch-work of my Indian
solar topee, otherwise I should have succumbed to the first fusillade of
stones at the instance of a cracked pate. Stones that would have knocked
me out of time in the first round rattle harmlessly on the 3/4-inch pith
helmet, the generous proportions of which effectually protect head and
neck from harm. Once, twice, it is knocked off by a stone striking it on
the brim, but it never reaches the ground before being recovered and
jammed more firmly than ever in its place. Things begin to look pretty
desperate as we approach the gate of the Manchu quarter; an immense crowd
of people have hurried down back streets and collected at this gate;
fancying they are there for the hostile purpose of heading us off, I come
very near dodging into an open door way with a view of defending myself
till the yameni-runners could summon the authorities. There is no time
for second thought, however; precious little time, in fact, for anything
but to keep my helmet in its place and hurry along with the bicycle. The
yameni-runners repeatedly warn the crowd that I am armed with a
top-fanchee (revolver); this, doubtless, prevents them from closing in on
us, and keeps their aggressive spirit within certain limits.

A moment's respite is happily obtained at the Manchu gate; the crowd
gathered there in advance are comparatively peaceful, and the mob, for a
moment, seem to hesitate about following us inside. Making the most of
this opportunity, we hurry forward toward the yamen, which, I afterward
learn, is still two or three hundred yards distant. Ere fifty yards are
covered the mob come pouring through the gate, yelling like demons and
picking up stones as they hurry after us. "A horse, a horse, my kingdom
for a horse." or, what would suit me equally as well, a short piece of
smooth road in lieu of break-neck cobble-stones.

Again are we overtaken and bombarded vigorously; ignorant of the distance
to the yamen, I again begin looking about for some place in which to
retreat for defensive purposes, unwilling to abandon the bicycle to
destruction and seek doubtful safety in flight. At this juncture a brick
strikes the unfortunate rear-guard on the arm, injuring that member
severely, and quickening the already badly frightened yameni-runners to
the urgent necessity of bringing matters to an ending somehow.

Pointing forward, they persist in dragging me into a run. Thus far I have
been very careful to preserve outward composure, feeling sure that any
demonstration of weakness on my part would surely operate to my
disadvantage. The runners' appealing cries of "Yameni! yameni!" however,
prove that we are almost there, and for fifty or seventy-five yards we
scurry along before the vengeful storm of stones and pursuing mob.

As I anticipated, our running only increases the exultation of the mob,
and ere we get inside the yamen gate the foremost of them are upon us.
Two or three of the boldest spirits seize the bicycle, though the
majority are evidently afraid I might turn loose on them with the
top-fanchee. We are struggling to get loose from these few determined
ruffians when the officials of the yamen, hearing the tumult, come
hurrying to our rescue.

The only damage done is a couple of spokes broken out of the bicycle, a
number of trifling bruises about my body, a badly dented helmet, and the
yameni-runner's arm rather severely hurt. When fairly inside and away
from danger the pent-up feelings of the advance-guard escape in silent
tears, and his superior of the jade-stone pipe sits down and mournfully
bemoans his wounded arm. This arm is really badly hurt, probably has
sustained a slight fracture of the bone, judging from its unfortunate
owner's complaints.

The Che-hsein, as I believe the chief magistrate is titled, greets me
while running out with his subordinates, with reassuring cries of "S-s-o,
s-s-o, s-s-o, s-s-o," repeated with extraordinary rapidity between shouts
of deprecation to the mob. The mob seem half inclined to pursue us even
inside the precincts of the yamen, but the authoritative voice of the
Che-hsein restrains their aggressiveness within partly governable
measure; nevertheless, in spite of his presence, showers of stones are
hurled into the yamen so long as I remain in sight.

As quickly as possible the Che-hsein ushers me into his own office, where
he quickly proves himself a comparatively enlightened individual by
arching his eyebrows and propounding the query, "French?" "Ying-yun," I
reply, feeling the advantage of being English or American, rather than
French, more appreciably perhaps than I have ever done before or since.

This question of the Che-hsein's at once reveals a gleam of explanatory
light concerning the hostility of the people. For aught I know to the
contrary it may be but a few days ago since the Jesuit missionaries were
compelled to flee for their lives. The mob cannot be expected to
distinguish between French and English; to the average Celestial we of
the Western world are indiscriminately known as Fankwaes, or foreign
devils; even to such an enlightened individual as the Che-hsein himself
these divisions of the Fankwae race are but vaguely understood.

After satisfying himself by questioning the yameni-runners, that I am
without companions or other baggage save the bicycle, the Che-hsein
ferrets out a bottle of samshoo and tenders me a liberal allowance in a
tea-cup. This is evidently administered with the kindly intention of
quieting my nerves, which he imagines to be unstrung from the alarmingly
rough treatment at the hands of his riotous townmen.

Riotous they are, beyond a doubt, for even as the Che-hsein pours out the
samshoo the clamorous howls of "Fankwae. Fankwae." seem louder than ever
at the gates. Now and then, as the tumult outside seems to be increasing,
the Che-hsein writes big red characters on flat bamboo-staves and sends
it out by an officer to be read to the mob; and occasionally, as he sits
and listens attentively to the clamor, as though gauging the situation by
the volume of the noise, he addresses himself to me with a soothing and
reassuring "S-s-o, s-s-o, s-s-o, s-o."

Shortly after my arrival the worthy-minded Che-hsein knits his brow for a
moment in a profound study, and then, lightening up suddenly, delivers
himself of "No savvy," a choice morsel of pidgeon English that he has
somehow acquired. This is the full extent of his knowledge, however; but,
feeble glimmer of my own mother tongue though it be, it sounds quite
cheery amid the wilderness wild of Celestial gabble in the office. For
although the shackles of authority hold in check the murderous mob,
howling for my barbarian gore outside, a constant stream of officials and
their friends are admitted to see me and the bicycle.

In making an examination of the bicycle, the peculiar "Ki-ngan-foo
squeak" finds spontaneous expression at every new surprise. A man enters
the room, peers wonderingly into my face-squeak!--comes closer, and looks
again--squeak!--notices the peculiar cut of my garments--squeak!--observes
my shoes--squeak!--sees helmet on table--squeak!--sees the
bicycle--squeak!--goes and touches it--squeak!--finds out that the pedals
twirl round--squeak! and thus he continues until he has seen everything
and squeaked at everything; he then takes a lingering survey of the room
to satisfy himself that nothing has been overlooked, gives a parting
squeak, and leaves the room.

The Che-hsein provides me with a chicken, boiled whole, head included,
for supper, and consumes his own meal at the same time. The difference
between the Che-hsein, eating little prepared meatballs and rice, with
gilded chop-sticks, and myself tearing the spraggly-looking rooster
asunder and gnawing the drum-sticks greedily with my teeth, no doubt
readily appeals to the interested lookers-on as an instructive picture of
Chinese civilization and outer barbarism as depicted in our respective
modes of eating, side by side.

More than once during the evening the tumult at the gate swells into a
fierce hubbub, as though pandemonium had broken loose, and the
blood-thirsty mob were determined to fetch me out. Every minute, at these
periodical outbursts, I expect to see them come surging in through the
doorway. A sociable young man, whose chief concern is to keep me supplied
with pipes and tea, explains, with the aid of a taper, that the crowd are
desirous of burning me alive. This cheerful piece of information, the
sociable young man imparts with a characteristic Chinese chuckle of
amusement; the thought of a Fankwae squirming and sizzling in the oil-fed
flames touches the chord of his risibilities, and makes him giggle
merrily. The Che-hsein himself occasionally goes out and harangues the
excited mob, the authoritative tones of his voice being plainly heard
above the squabbling and yelling.

It must be near about midnight when the excitement has finally subsided,
and the mob disperse to their homes. Six yameni-runners then file into
the room, paper umbrellas slung at their backs in green cloth cases, and
stout bamboo quarter-staves in hand. The Che-hsein gives them their
orders and delivers a letter into the hands of the officer in charge; he
then bids me prepare to depart, bidding me farewell with much polite
bowing and scraping, and sundry memorable "chin-chins."

A closely covered palanquin is waiting outside the door; into this I am
conducted and the blinds carefully drawn. A squad of men with flaming
torches, the Che-hsein, and several officials lead the way, maintaining
great secrecy and quiet; stout carriers hoist the palanquin to their
shoulders and follow on behind; others bring up the rear carrying the
bicycle.

Back through the Manchu quarter and out of the gate again our little
cavalcade wends its way, the officials immediately about the palanquin
addressing one another in undertones; back, part way along the same
street which but a few short hours ago resounded with the hoots and yells
of the mischievous mob, down a long flight of steps, and the palanquin is
resting at the end of a gang-plank leading aboard a little
passenger-sampan. The worthy Che-hsein bows and scrapes and chin-chins me
along this gang-plank, the bicycle is brought aboard, the six
yameni-runners follow suit, and the boat is poled out into the river. The
squad of torch-bearers are seen watching our progress until we are well
out into the middle of the stream, and the officer in charge of my little
guard stands out and signals them with his lantern, notifying them, I
suppose, that all is well. One would imagine, from their actions, that
they were apprehensive of our sampan being pursued or ambushed by some
determined party. And yet the scene, as we drift noiselessly along with
the current, looks lovely and peaceful as the realms of the blest; the
crescent moon, the shimmering water--and the slowly receding lights of the
city; what danger can there possibly be in so quiet and peaceful a scene
as this?

By daylight we are anchored before another walled city, which I think is
Ki-shway, a city of considerable pretentions as to wall, but full of
social and moral rottenness and commercial decadence within, judging, at
least, from outward appearances. Few among the crowds that are permitted
free access to the yamen here do not betray, in unmistakable measure, the
sins of former generations; while, as regards trade, half the place is in
a ruinous, tumble-down condition.

The mandarin here is a fleshy, old-fashioned individual, with thick lips
and an expression of great good humor. He provides me with a substantial
breakfast of rice and pork, and fetches his wife and children in to enjoy
the exhibition of a Fankwae feeding, likewise permitting the crowd to
look in through the doors and windows. He is a phlegmatic, easy-going
Celestial, and occupies about two hours copying my passport and writing a
letter. At the end of this time he musters a squad of twelve retainers in
faded red uniforms and armed with rusty pikes, who lead the way back to
the river, followed by three yameni-runners, equipped, as usual, each
with an umbrella and a small string of tsin to buy their food. The
gentlemen with the mediaeval weapons accompany us to the river and keep
the crowd from pressing too closely upon us until I and the
yameni-runners board a Ki shway sampan that is to convey me to the next
down-stream city.

It now becomes apparent that my bicycling experiences in China are about
ending, and that the authorities have determined upon passing me down the
Kan-kiang by boat to the Yang-tsi-kiang. I am to be passed on from city
to city like a bale of merchandise, delivered and receipted for from day
to day.

A few miles down stream we overtake a fleet of some twenty war-junks,
presenting a most novel and interesting sight, crowded as each one is
with the gayest of flags and streaming pennants galore. The junks are
cumbersome enough, in all conscience, as utterly useless for purposes of
modern warfare as the same number of floating hogsheads; yet withal they
make a gallant sight, the like of which is to be seen nowhere these days
but on the inland waters of China. Each junk is propelled by a crew of
fourteen oarsmen, dressed in uniforms corresponding in color to the
triangular flags that flutter gayly in the breeze at the stern. Not the
least interesting part of the spectacle are these same oarsmen, as they
ply. their long unwieldy sweeps in admirable unison; the sleeves of their
coats are almost as broad as the body of the garment, and at every sweep
of the oar these all flap up and down together in a manner most comical
to behold.

All day long our modest little sampan keeps company with this gay fleet,
giving me an excellent opportunity of witnessing its manoeuvres. Said
manoeuvres and evolutions consist of more or less noisy greetings and
demonstrations at every town and village we pass. In the case of a small
town, a number of pikemen and officials assemble on the shore, erect a
few flags, hammer vigorously on a resonant gong, shout out some sing-song
greeting and shoot off a number of bombs and fire-crackers. The foremost
vessel of the fleet replies to these noisy compliments by a salute of its
one gun, and mayhap throws in two or three bombs, according to the
liberality of the salutation ashore.

At the larger towns the amount of gunpowder burned and noise created is
something wonderful. Bushels of fire-crackers are snapping and rattling
away, the while gongs are beating, bombs exploding by the score, and
salvoes of artillery are making the mountains echo, from every vessel in
the fleet. Beneath the walls of a town we pass soon after noon are ranged
fifteen other junks; as the fleet passes, these vessels simultaneously
discharge all their guns, while at the same instant there burst upon the
startled air detonations from hundreds of bombs, big heaps of
firecrackers, and the din of many resonant gongs. Not to be outdone, the
fleet of twenty return the compliment in kind, and with cheers from the
crews thrown in for interest.

The fifteen now join the procession, adding volume and picturesqueness
to the already wonderfully pretty scene, by their hundreds of
brilliant-hued banners, and theatrically costumed oarsmen. About four
o'clock, as we are approaching the city of Hat-kiang, our destination for
the day, there comes to meet the gallant navy a pair of twin vessels
surpassing all the others in the gorgeousness of their flags and the
picturesqueness of the costumes. Purple is the prevailing color of both
flags and crew. At their splendid appearance our yameni-runners announce
in tones of enthusiasm and admiration that these new-comers hail from
Lin-kiang, a large city down stream, that I fancied, it will be
remembered, having reached at Ta-ho.

The officials are still abed when, in the early morning of the third day,
we reach Sin-kiang, and repair to the yamen. A large crowd, however,
gather and follow us from the market-place, swelling gradually by
reenforcements to a multitude that surges in and out of the shanty-like
office in such swarms that the frail board walls bulge and crack with the
pressure. When the crowd overwhelm the place entirely, the officials
clear them out by angry gesticulations and moral suasion, sometimes
menacingly shaking the end of their own queues at them as though they
were wielding black-snake whips. Having driven them out, no further
notice is taken of them, so they immediately begin swarming in again,
until the room is again inundated, when they are again driven out.

The permitting of this ebbing and flowing of the multitude into the
official quarters is something quite incomprehensible to me; the mob is
swayed and controlled--as far as they are controlled at all--without any
organized effort of those in authority; when the officials commence
screaming angrily at them they begin moving out; when the shouting ceases
they begin swarming back. Thus in the course of an hour the room will,
perchance, be filled and emptied with angry remonstrance half a dozen
times, when, from our own stand-point, a couple of men stationed at the
door with authority to keep them out would prevent all the bother and
annoyance. Sure enough the Chinaman is "a peculiar little cuss," whether
seen at home or abroad.

If the inhabitants of Ki-shway are scrofulous, sore-eyed, and mangy, they
are at least an improvement on the disgusting state of the public health
at Sin-kiang, as revealed in the lamentable condition of the crowd at the
yamen and in the markets. Scarcely is it possible to single out a human
being of sound and healthful appearance from among them all. Everybody
has sore eyes, some have horribly diseased scalps, sores on face and
body, and all the horrible array of acquired and hereditary diseases.
One's hair stands on end almost at the thought of being among them, to
say nothing of eating in their presence, and of their own cooking. Of my
new escort from Sin-kiang all three have dreadfully sore eyes, and one
wretched mortal is as piebald as a circus pony, from head to foot, with
the leprosy. Added to these recommendations, they have the manners and
instincts of swine rather than of human beings.

The same sampan is re-engaged to convey us farther down stream; beneath
the housing of bamboo-mats, the rice-chaff leaves barely room for us to
crowd in and huddle together from the rain and cold prevailing outside.
The worst the elements can do, however, is far preferable to personal
contact with these vile creatures; and so I don my blanket and gossamer
rubbers, and sit out in the rain. The rain ceases and the chilly night
air covers everything with a coating of hoar-frost, but all this is
nothing compared with the horrible associations inside, the reeking fumes
of opium and tobacco adding yet another abomination to be remembered.

At early morn we land and pursue our way for a few miles across country
to Lin-kiang, which is situated on a big tributary stream a few miles
above its junction with the Kan-kiang. Our way loads through a rich strip
of low country, sheltered and protected from inundations by an extensive
system of dykes. Here we pass through orchards of orange-trees bristling
with the small blood-red mandarin oranges; we help ourselves freely from
the trees, for their great plenteousness makes them of very little value.
On the stalls they can be purchased six for one cent; like the people in
the great peanut producing country below Nam-hung, the cheapness and
abundance of oranges here seems an inducement for the people to almost
subsist thereon.

Everybody is either buying, stealing, selling, packing, gathering,
carrying, or eating oranges; coolies are staggering Lin-kiang-ward
beneath big baskets of newly plucked fruit, and others are conveying them
in wheelbarrows; boats are being loaded for conveyance along the river.
Every orange-tree is distinguished by white characters painted on its
trunk, big enough so that those who run may read the rightful owner's
name and take warning accordingly.

Three more wearisome but eventful days, battling against adverse winds,
and we come to anchor in a little slough, where a war-junk and several
fishing vessels are already moored for the night. While supper is
preparing I pass the time promenading back and forth along a little
foot-trail leading for a short distance round the shore. The crew of the
war-vessel are engaged in drying freshwater shrimps, tiny minnows, and
other drainings and rakings of the water to store away for future use.
One of the younger officers stalks back and forth along the same path as
myself, brusquely maintaining the road whenever we meet, evidently bent
on showing off his contempt for the boasted prowess of the Fankwaes, by
compelling me to step to one side. His demeanor is that of a bully
stalking about with the traditional chip on his shoulder, daring me to
come and knock it off. Considering the circumstances about us, this is a
wonderfully courageous performance on his part; nothing but his ignorance
of my Smith & Wesson can explain his temerity in assuming a bellicose
attitude with only one man-of-war at his back. Out of consideration for
this ignorance, I studiously avoid interfering with the chip.

At length the river-voyage comes to an end at Wu-chang, on the Poyang
Hoo, when I am permitted to proceed overland with an escort to Kui-kiang.

Spending the last night at a village inn, we pursue our way over awful
bowlder paths next morning, for several miles; over a low mountain-pass
and down the northern slope to a level plain. A towering white pagoda is
observable in the distance ahead; thia the yameni-runner says is
Kui-kiang. At a little way-side tea-house, I find Christmas numbers of
the London Graphic pasted on the walls; yet with all this, so utterly
unreliable has my information heretofore been, and so often have my hopes
and expectations turned out disappointing, that I am almost afraid to
believe the evidence of my own senses. The Graphic pictures are of the
Christmas pantomimes; the good woman of the tea-house points out to me
the tremendous noses, the ear-to-ear mouths, and the abnormal growths of
chin therein depicted, with much amusement; "Fankwae," she says, "te-he,
te-he," apparently fancying them genuine representations of certain types
of that queer, queer people.

The paths improve, and soon I see the smoke of a steamer on the Yang-tsi
than which, it is needless to say, no more welcome sight has greeted my
vision the whole world round. Only the smoke is seen, rising above the
city; it cannot be a steamer, it is too good to be possible! this isn't
Kui-kiang; this is another wretched disappointment, the smoke is some
Chinese house on fire! Not until I get near enough to distinguish flags
on the consulates, and the crosses on the mission churches, do I permit
myself fully to believe that I am at last actually looking at Kui-kiang,
the city that I have begun to think a delusion and a snare, an ignis
fatuus that was dancing away faster than I was approaching.

The sight of all these unmistakable proofs that I am at last bidding
farewell to the hardships, the horrible filth, the soul-harrowing crowds,
the abominable paths, and the ever-present danger and want of
consideration; that in a little while all these will be a dream of the
past, gives wings to my wheel wherever it can be mounted, and ridden. The
yameni-runner is left far behind, and I have already engaged a row-boat
to cross the little lake in the rear of the city, and the boatman is
already pulling me to the "Ying-yun," when the poor yameni-runner comes
hurrying up and shouts frantically for me to come back and fetch him.

Knowing that the man has to take back his receipt I yield to his request,
follow him first to the Kui-kiang yamen, and from thence proceed to the
English consulate. Captain McQuinn, of the China Steam Navigation
Company's steamer Peking, and the consulate doctor see me riding down the
smooth gravelled bund, followed by a crowd of delighted Celestials.
"Hello! are you from Canton" they sing out in chorus. "Well, well, well!
nobody expected to ever see anything of you again; and so you got through
all safe, eh?"

"What's the matter? you look bad about the eyes," says the observant
doctor, upon shaking hands; "you look haggard and fagged out."

Upon surveying myself in a mirror at the consulate I can see that the
doctor is quite justified in his apprehensions. Hair long, face unshaved
for five weeks, thin and gaunt-looking from daily hunger, worry, and hard
dues generally, I look worse than a hunted greyhound. I look far worse,
however, than I feel; a few days' rest and wholesome fare will work
wonders.

An appetizing lunch of cold duck, cheese, and Bass's ale is quickly
provided by Mr. Everard, the consul, who seems very pleased that the
affair at Ki-ngan-foo ended without serious injury to anybody.

The Peking starts for Shanghai in an hour after my arrival; a warm bath,
a shave, and a suit of clothes, kindly provided by pilot King, brings
about something of a transformation in my appearance. Bountiful meals,
clean, springy beds, and elegantly fitted cabins, form an impressive
contrast to my life aboard the sampans on the Kan-kiang. The genii of
Aladdin's lamp could scarcely execute any more marvellous change than
that from my quarters and fare and surroundings at the village hittim,
where my last night on the road from Canton was spent, and my first night
aboard the elegant and luxurious Peking, only a day later.

A pleasant run down the Yang-tsi-kiang to Shanghai, and I arrive at that
city just twenty-four hours before the Japanese steamer, Yokohama Maru,
sails for Nagasaki. Taking passage aboard it leaves me but one brief day
in the important and interesting city of Shanghai, during which time I
have to purchase a new outfit of clothes, see about money matters, and
what not.



CHAPTER XIX.

THROUGH JAPAN.

An uneventful run of two days, and the Yokohama Maru steams into the
beautiful harbor of Nagasaki. The change from the filth of a Chinese city
to Nagasaki, clean as if it had all just been newly scoured and
varnished, is something delightful. One gets a favorable impression of
the Japs right away; much more so, doubtless, by coming direct from China
than in any other way. Two days of preparation and looking about leaves
almost a pang of regret at having to depart so soon. The American consul
here, Mr. B, is a very courteous gentleman; to him and Mr. M, an American
gentleman, instructor in the Chinese navy, I am indebted for an
exhibition of the geisha dance, and many other courtesies.

Having duly supplied myself with Japanese paper-money--ten, five, and one
yen notes; fractional currency of fifty, twenty, and ten sen notes,
besides copper sen for tea and fruit at road-side teahouses, on Tuesday
morning, November 23d, I start on my journey of eight hundred miles
through lovely Nippon to Yokohama.

Captain F and Mr. B, the American consul, have come to the hotel to see
me off. A showery night has made the roads a trifle muddy. Through the
long, neat-looking streets of Nagasaki, into a winding road, past crowded
hill-side cemeteries, adorned with queer stunted trees and quaint designs
in flowers, I ride, followed by wondering eyes and a running fire of
curious comments from the Japs.

Nagasaki lies at the shoreward base of a range of hills, over a pass
called the Himi-toge, which my road climbs immediately upon leaving the
city. A good road is maintained over the pass, and an office established
there to collect toll from travellers and people bringing produce into
Nagasaki. The aged and polite toll-collector smiles and bows at me as I
trundle innocently past his sentry-box-like office up the steep incline,
hoping that I may take the hint and spare him the necessity of telling me
the nature of his duty. My inexperience of Japanese tolls and roads,
however, renders his politeness inoperative, and, after allowing me to
get past, duty compels him to issue forth and explain. A wooden ticket
containing Japanese characters is given me in exchange for a few tiny
coins. This I fancy to be a passport for another toll-place higher up.
Subsequently, however, I learn it to be a return ticket, the old
toll-keeper very naturally thinking I would return, by and by, to
Nagasaki.

Ponies and buffaloes, laden with baskets of rice, fodder, firewood, and
various agricultural products, are encountered on the pass, in charge of
Japanese rustics in broad bamboo-hats, red blankets, bare legs, and straw
sandals, who lead their charges by long halter-ropes. Both horses and
buffaloes are shod with shoes of the same unsubstantial material as the
men. When the Japanese traveller sets out on a journey, he provides
himself with a new pair of straw sandals; these last him for a tramp of
from ten to twenty miles, according to the nature of the road. When worn
out, his foot-gear may be readily renewed at any village for a mere song.
The same may be said of his horse or buffalo, although several extra
shoes are generally carried along in case of need.

The summit of the pass is distinguished by a very deep cutting through
the ridge rock of the mountain, and a series of successive sharp turns
back and forth along narrow-terraced gardens and fields bring the road
down into the valley of a clear little stream, called the Himi-gawa.
Smooth, hard roads follow along this purling rivulet, now and then
crossing it on a stone or wooden bridge. A small estuary, reaching inland
like a big bite out of a cake, is passed, and the pretty little village
of Yagami reached for dinner. The eating-house, like nearly all Japanese
eating-places, is neat and cleanly, the brown wood-work being fairly
polished bright from floor to ceiling.

Sitting down on the edge of the raised floor, I am approached by the
landlady, who kneels down and bows her forehead to the floor. Her
politeness is very charming, and her smile would no doubt be more or less
winsome were it not for the hideous blackening of the teeth. Blackened
teeth is the distinguishing mark between maid and matron in the flowery
kingdom of the Mikados. The teeth are stained black at marriage, and
henceforth a smile that heretofore displayed rows of small white ivories,
and perchance was fairly bewitching, becomes positively repulsive to the
Western mind.

Fish and rice (sakana and meshi) are the most readily obtainable things
to eat at a Japanese hotel, and often form the only bill of fare. Sake,
or rice-beer, is usually included in the Jap's own meal, but the average
European traveller at first prefers limiting his beverage to tea. The
sake is served up in big-necked bottles of cheap porcelain holding about
a pint. The bottle is set for a few minutes in boiling water to warm the
sake, the Japs preferring to drink it warm. Sake is more like spirits
than beer, an honest alcoholic production from rice that soon recommends
itself to the European palate, though rather offensive at first.

Every tea-house along the road is made doubly attractive by prettily
dressed attendants-smiling girls who come out and invite passing
travellers to rest and buy tea and refreshments. Their solicitations are
chiefly winsome smiles and polite bows and the cheerful greeting "O-ai-o"
(the Japanese "how do you do"). A tiny teapot, no larger than those the
little girls at home play at "keeping house" with, and shell-like cup to
match, is brought on a lacquered tray and placed before one, with
charming grace, if a halt is made at one of these tea-houses. Persimmons,
sweets, cakes, and various tid-bits are temptingly arrayed on the sloping
stand in front. The most trifling purchase is rewarded with an exhibition
of good-nature and politeness worth many times the money.

About sunset I roll into the smooth, clean streets of Omura, a good-sized
town, and seek the accommodation of a charming yadoya (inn) pointed out
by a youth in semi-European clothes, who seems bubbling over with
pleasure at the opportunity of rendering me this slight assistance. A
room is assigned me upstairs, a mat spread for me to recline on, by a
polite damsel, who touches her forehead to the floor both when she makes
her appearance and her exit. Having got me comfortably settled down with
the customary service of tea, sweets, little boxed brazier of live
charcoal, spittoon, etc., the proprietor, his wife, and daughter, all
come up and prostrate themselves after the most approved fashion.

After all the salaaming and deferentiality experienced in other Eastern
countries, one still cannot help being impressed with the spectacle of
several grotesque Japs bowing before one's seated figure like Hindoos
prostrating themselves before some idol With any other people than the
Japs this lowly attitude would seem offensively servile; but these
inimitable people leave not the slightest room for thinking their actions
obsequious. The Japs are a wonderful race; they seem to be the happiest
people going, always smiling and good-natured, always polite and gentle,
always bowing and scraping.

After a bountiful supper of several fishy preparations and rice, the
landlord bobs his head to the floor, sucks his breath through the teeth
after the peculiar manner of the Japs when desirous of being excessively
polite, and extends his hands for my passport. This the yadoya proprietor
is required to take and have examined at the police station, provided no
policeman calls for it at the house.

The Japanese Government, in its efforts to improve the institutions of
the country, has introduced systems of reform from various countries.
Commissions were sent to the different Western countries to examine and
report upon the methods of education, police, army, navy, postal matters,
judiciary, etc. What was believed to be the best of the various systems
was then selected as the model of Japan's new departure and adoption of
Western civilization. Thus the police service is modelled from the
French, the judiciary from the English, the schools after the American
methods, etc. Having inaugurated these improvements, the Japs seem
determined to follow their models with the same minute scrupulosity they
exhibit in copying material things. There is probably as little use for
elaborate police regulations in Japan as in any country under the sun;
but having chosen the splendid police service of France to pattern by,
they can now boast of having a service that lacks nothing in
effectiveness.

A very good road, with an avenue of fine spreading conifers of some kind,
leads out of Omura. To the left is the bay of Omura, closely skirted at
times by the road. At one place is observed an inland temple, connected
with the mainland by a causeway of rough rock. The little island is
covered with dark pines and jagged rocks, amid which the Japs have
perched their shrine and erected a temple. Both the Chinese and Japs seem
fond of selecting the most romantic spots for their worship and the
erection of religious edifices.

The day is warm, and a heavy shower during the night has made the road
heavy in places, although much of it is clean gravel that is not injured
by the rain. Over hill and down dale the ku-ruma road leads to Ureshino,
a place celebrated for its mineral springs and bath. On the way one
passes through charming little ravines, where tiny cataracts come
tumbling down the sides of moss-grown precipices, a country of pretty
thatched cottages, temples, groves, and purling rivulets.

On the streams are numerous rice-hulling machines, operated by the
ingenious manipulation of the water. In a little hut is a mortar
containing the rice. Attached to a pivot is a long beam having a pestle
at one end and a trough at the other. The pestle is made to fall upon the
rice in the mortar by the filling and automatic emptying of the trough
outside. The trough, filling with water, drops down and empties of its
own weight; this causes the opposite end to fall suddenly. This operation
repeats itself about every two seconds through the day.

The gravelly hills about Ureshino are devoted to the cultivation of tea;
the green tea-gardens, with the undulating, even rows of thick shrubs,
looking very beautiful where they slope to the foot of the bare rocky
cliffs. Ureshino and the baths are some little distance off the main road
to Shimonoseki; so, not caring particularly to go there, I continue on to
the village of Takio, where rainy weather compels a halt of several
hours. Everything is so delightfully superior, as compared with China,
that the Japanese village yadoya seems a veritable paradise during these
first days of my acquaintance with them. Life at a Chinese village hittim
for a week would well-nigh unseat the average Anglo-Saxon's reason,
whereas he might spend the same time very pleasantly in a Japanese
country inn. The region immediately around Takio is not only naturally
lovely, but is embellished by little artificial lakes, islands, grottoes,
and various landscape novelties such as the Japs alone excel in.

An eight-wire telegraph line threads the road from Takio to Ushidzu,
passing through numerous villages that almost form a continuous street
from one town to the other. As one notices such improvements, and sees
the police and telegraph officials in trim European uniforms seated in
their neat offices, an American clock invariably on the wall within, and,
moreover, notes the uniform friendliness of the people, it is difficult
to imagine that thirty years ago one would have been in more danger
travelling through here than through China. Passing through the main
streets of Ushidzu in search of the best yadoya, I am accosted by a
middle-aged woman with, "Hello! you wanchee room? wanchee chow-chow." Her
mother keeps a yadoya, she tells me, and leads the way thither, chatting
gayly in pidgeon English, all the way. She seems very pleased at the
opportunity to exercise her little stock of broken English, and tells me
she learned it at Shanghai, where she once resided for a couple of years
in an English family. Her name, she says, is O-hanna, but her English
friends used to call her Hannah, without the prefix. Understanding from
experience what I would be most likely to appreciate for supper, she
rustles around and prepares a nice fish, plenty of Ureshino tea, sugar,
sweet-cakes, and sliced pomolo; this, together with rice, is the extent
of Ushidzu's present gastronomic limits.

The following morning opens with a white frost, the road is level and
good, and the yadoya people see that I am provided with a substantial
breakfast in good season. My boots, I find, have been cleaned even. They
were cleaned with a rag, O-hanna apologizing for the absence of
shoe-brushes and blacking in pidgeon English: "Brush no have got."

In striking contrast to China, here are gangs of "cantonniers" taking
care of the road; men in regular blue uniforms with big white
"bull's-eyes," and characters like our Celestial friends the
yameni-runners. Troops of school-children are passed on the road going to
school with books and tally-boards under their arm. They sometimes range
themselves in rows alongside the road, and, as I wheel past, bob their
heads simultaneously down to the level of their knees and greet me with a
polite "O-ai-o."

The country hereabout is rich and populous, and the people seemingly
well-to-do. The tea-houses, farm-houses, and even the little ricks of
rice seem built with an eye to artistic effect. One sees here the gradual
encroachment of Western mechanical improvements. The first two-handled
plough I have seen since leaving Europe is encountered this morning; but
alongside it are men using the clumsy Japanese digging-tool of their
ancestors, and both men and women stripped to the waist, hulling rice by
pounding it in mortars with long-headed pestles. It is merely a question
of a few years, however, until the intelligent Japs will discard all
their old clumsy methods and introduce the latest agricultural
improvements of the West into their country. Passing through a mile or
more of Saga's smooth and continuously ridable streets, past big
school-houses where hundreds of children are reciting aloud in chorus,
past the big bronze Buddha for which Saga is locally famous, the road
continues through a somewhat undulating country, ridable, generally
speaking, the whole way. Long cedar or cryptomerian avenues sometimes
characterize the way. Strings of peasants are encountered, leading
pack-ponies and bullocks. The former seem to be vicious little wretches,
rather masters, on the whole, than servants of their leaders.

The Japanese horse objects to a tight girth, objects to being overloaded,
and to various other indignities that his relations of other countries
meekly endure. To suit his fastidious requirements he is allowed to
meander carelessly along at the end of a twenty-foot string, and he is
decorated all over with gay and fanciful trappings. A very peculiar trait
of his character is that of showing fight at anything he doesn't like the
looks of, instead of scaring at it after the orthodox method of
horse-flesh in other countries. This peculiarity sometimes makes it
extremely interesting for myself. Their usual manner of taking exception
to me and the bicycle is to rear up on the hind feet and squeal and paw
the air, at the same time evincing a disposition to come on and chew me
up. This necessitates continual wariness on my part when passing a
company of peasants, for the men never seem to think it worth while to
restrain their horses until the actions of the latter render it
absolutely necessary.

Jinrikishas now become quite frequent, pulled by sturdy-limbed men, who,
naked almost as the day they were born, trot along between the shafts of
their two-wheeled vehicles at the rate of six miles an hour. Men also are
met pulling heavy hand-carts, loaded with tiles, from country factories
to the city. Most of the heaviest labor seems to be performed by human
beings, though not to the same extent as in China.

In every town and village one is struck with the various imitations of
European goods. Ludicrous mistakes are everywhere met with, where this
serio-comical people have attempted to imitate name, trade-mark, and
everything complete. In one portion of the eating-house where lunch is
obtained to-day are a number of umbrella-makers manufacturing gingham
umbrellas; on every umbrella is stamped the firm-name "John Douglas,
Manchester." Cigarettes, nicely made and equal in every respect to those
of other countries, are boldly labelled "cigars:" thus do these curious
imitators make mistakes. Had Shakespeare seen the Japs one could better
understand his "All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely
players;" for most other nations life is a serious enough problem, the
Japs alone seem to be merely "playing at making a livelihood." They
always impress me as happy-go-lucky harlequins, to whom this whole
business of coming into the world and getting a living for a few years is
nothing more nor less than a huge joke.

The happiest state of affairs seems to exist among all classes and
conditions of people in Japan. One passes school-houses and sees the
classes out on the well-kept grounds, going through various exercises,
such as one would never expect to see in the East. To-day I pause a while
before the public-school in Nakabairu, watching the interesting exercises
going on. Under the supervision of teachers in black frock-coats and
Derby hats, a class of girls are ranged in two rows, throwing and
catching pillows, altogether back and forth at the word of command.
Classes of boys are manipulating wooden dumb-bells and exercising their
muscles by various systematic exercises. The youngsters are enjoying it
hugely, and the whole affair looks so thoroughly suggestive of the best
elements of Occidental school-life that it is difficult to believe the
evidence of one's own eyes. I suspect the Japanese children are about the
only children in the wide, wide world who really enjoy studying their
lessons and going to school. One of the teachers comes to the gate and
greets me with a polite bow. I address him in English, but he doesn't
know a word.

The wooden houses of Japan seem frail and temporary, but they look new
and bright mostly in the country. The government buildings,
police-offices, post-offices, schools, etc., all look new and bright and
artistic, as though but lately finished. The roads, too, are sometimes
laid out straight and trim, suggestive of an attempt to imitate the roads
of France; then, again, one traverses for miles the counterpart of the
green lanes of Merrie England--narrow, winding, and romantic. The Japanese
roads are mainly about ten or twelve feet wide, giving ample room for two
jinrikishas to pass, these being the only wheeled vehicles on the roads.
Rustic bridges frequently span lovely little babbling brooks, and
waterfalls abound this afternoon as I approach, at early eve, Futshishi.
Rain necessitates a lay-over of a day at Futshishi, but there is nothing
unendurable about it; the proprietor of the house is a blind man, who
plays the samosan, and makes the girls sing and dance the geisha for my
edification. Beef and chicken are both forthcoming at Futshishi, and the
fish, as in almost all Japanese towns, are very excellent.

The weather opens clear and frosty after the rain, and the road to
Fukuoko is most excellent wheeling; the country continues charming, and
every day the people seem to get more and more polite and agreeable. A
novel sight of the morning's ride is a big gang of convicts working the
roads. They are fastened together with light chains, wear neat brown
uniforms, and seem to regard the unconvicted world of humans outside
their own company with an expression of apology. To look in their
serio-comic faces it is difficult to imagine them capable of doing
anything wrong, except in fun: they look, in fact, as if their being
chained together and closely attended by guards was of itself anything
but a serious affair.

Cavalry officers, small, smart-looking, and soldierly, in yellow-braided
uniforms, are seen in Fukuoko, looking as un-Asiatic in make-up as the
schools, policemen, and telegraph-operators. A collision with a
jinrikisha that treats me to a header, and another with a diminutive Jap,
that bowls him over like a ninepin, and a third with a bobtailed cat,
that damages nothing but pussy's dignity, enter into my reminiscences of
Fukuoko. The numbers of jinrikishas, and the peculiar habits of the
people, necessitate lynx-eyed vigilance to prevent collisions every hour
of the day. The average Jap leaves the door of a house backward, and bows
and scrapes his way clear out into the middle of the street, in bidding
adieu to the friends he has been calling upon, or even the shopkeeper he
has been patronizing. Scarcely a village is passed through but some
person waltzes backward out of a door and right in front of the bicycle.

A curious sight one frequently sees along the road is an acre or two of
ground covered with paper parasols, set out in the sun to dry after being
pasted, glued, and painted ready for market. Umbrellas and paper lanterns
are as much a part of the Japanese traveller's outfit as his clothes.
These latter, nowadays, are sometimes a very grotesque mixture of native
and European costume. The craze for foreign innovations pervades all
ranks of society, and every village dandy aspires to some article of
European clothing. The result is that one frequently encounters men on
the road wearing a Derby hat, a red blanket, tight-fitting white drawers,
and straw sandals. The villager who sports a European hat or coat comes
around to my yadoya, wearing an amusing expression of self-satisfaction,
as though filled with an inward consciousness of inv approval of the
same. Whereas, every European traveller deprecates the change from their
native costume to our own.

Following for some distance along the bank of a large canal I reach the
village of Hakama for the night. The yadoya here is simply spotless from
top to bottom; however the Japanese hotel-keeper manages to transact
business and preserve such immaculate apartments is more of a puzzle
every day. The regulation custom at a yadoya is for the newly arrived
guest to take a scalding hot bath, and then squat beside a little brazier
of coals, and smoke and chat till supper-time. The Japanese are more
addicted to hot-water bathing than the people of any other country. They
souse themselves in water that has been heated to 140 deg. Fahr., a
temperature that is quite unbearable to the "Ingurisu-zin" or
"Amerika-zin" until he becomes gradually hardened and accustomed to it.
Both men and women bathe regularly in hot water every evening. The Japs
have not yet imbibed any great quantity of mauvaise honte from their
association with Europeans, so the sexes frequent the bath-tub
indiscriminately, taking no more notice of one another than if they were
all little children. "Venus disporting in the waves"--of a bath-tub--is a
regular feature of life at a Japanese inn. Nor can they quite understand
why the European tourist should object to the proprietor, his wife and
children, chambermaids, tea-girls, guests and visitors crowding around to
see him undress and waltz into the tub. Bless their innocent Japanese
souls! why should he object. They are only attracted out of curiosity to
see the whiteness of his skin, to note his peculiar manner of undressing,
and to satisfy a general inquisitiveness concerning his corporeal
possibilities. They have no squeamishness whatever about his watching
their own natatorial duties; why, then, should he shrink within himself
and wave them off?

The regular hotel meals consist of rice, fish in various forms, little
slices of crisp, raw turnip, pickles, and a catsup-like sauce. Meat is
rarely forthcoming, unless specially ordered, when, of course, extra
charges are made; sake also has to be purchased separately. After supper
one is supplied with a teapot of tea and a brazier of coals.

Passing the following night at Hakama, I pull out next morning for
Shimonoseki. Traversing for some miles a hilly country, covered with
pine-forest, my road brings me into Ashiyah, situated on a small estuary.
Here, at Ashiyah, I indulge in nay first simon-pure Japanese shave,
patronizing the village barber while dodging a passing shower. The
Japanese tonsorial artist shaves without the aid of soap, merely wetting
the face by dipping his fingers in a bowl of warm water. During the
operation of shaving he hones the razor frequently on an oil-stone. He
shaves the entire face and neck, not omitting even the lobes of the ear,
the forehead, and nose. If the European traveller didn't keep his senses
about him, while in the barber-chair of a Japanese village, he would find
himself with every particle of fuzz scraped off his face and neck, save,
of course, his regular whiskers or mustache, and with eye-brows
considerably curtailed.

From Ashiyah my road follows up alongside a small tidal canal to
Hakamatsu, traversing a lowland country, devoted entirely to the
cultivation of rice. Scores of coal-barges are floating along the canal,
propelled solely by the flowing of the tide. I can imagine them floating
along until the tide changes, then tying up and waiting patiently until
it ebbs and flows again; from long experience they, no doubt, have come
to calculate upon one, two, or three tides, as the case may be, floating
their barges up to certain landings or villages.

The streets of Hakamatsu present a lively and picturesque scene, swarming
with country people in the gayest of costumes; the stalls are fairly
groaning beneath big piles of tempting eatables, toys, clothing,
lanterns, tissue-paper flowers, and every imaginable Japanese thing.
Street-men are attracting small crowds about them by displaying
curiosities. One old fellow I pause awhile to look at is selling tiny
rolls of colored paper which, when cast into a bowl of water, unfold into
flowers, boats, houses, birds, or animals. In explanation of the
holiday-making, a young man in a custom-house uniform, who knows a few
words of English, explains "Japan God "-it is some religious festival
these smiling, chatting, bowing, and comical-looking crowds are keeping
with such evident relish.

Prom Hakamatsu to Kokura the country is hilly and broken; from Kokura one
can look across the narrow strait and see Shimonoseki, on the mainland of
Japan. Thus far we have been traversing the island of Kiu-shiu, separated
from the main island by a strait but a few hundred yards wide at
Shimonoseki. From Kokura the jinrikisha road leads a couple of ri farther
to Dairi; thence footpaths traverse hills and wax-tree groves for another
two miles (a ri is something over two English miles) to the village of
Moji. Here I obtain passage on a little ferry-boat across to Shimonoseki,
arriving there about two o'clock in the afternoon.

A twenty-four hours' halt is made at Shimonoseki in deference to rainy
weather. The landlady of the yadoya understands enough about European
cookery to prepare me a very decent beefsteak and a pot of coffee.
Shimonoseki is full of European goods, and clever imitations of the same;
a stroll of an hour through the streets reveals the extent of the Japs'
appreciation of foreign things. Every other shop, almost, seems devoted
to the goods that come from other countries, or their counterfeits. Not
content with merely copying an imported article, the Japanese artisan
generally endeavors to make some improvement on the original. For
instance, after making an exact imitation of a petroleum-lamp, the Jap
workman constructs a neat little lacquer cabinet to set it in when not in
use. The coffee-pot in which the coffee served at my yadoya is prepared
is an ingenious contrivance with three chambers, evidently a reproduction
of Yankee ingenuity.

A big Shinto temple occupies the crest of a little hill near by, and
flights of stone steps lead up to the entrance. At the foot of the steps,
and repeated at several stages up the slope, are the peculiar torii, or
"bird-perches," that form the distinctive mark of a Shinto temple.
Numerous shrines occupy the court-yard of the temple; the shrines are
built of wood mostly, and contain representations of the various gods to
whose particular worship they are dedicated. Before each shrine is a
barred receptacle for coins. The Japanese devotee poses for a minute
before the shrine, bowing his head and smiting together the palms of his
hands; he then tosses a diminutive coin or two into the barred treasury,
and passes on round to the next shrine he wishes to pay his respects to.
In the main building are numerous pictures, bows, arrows, swords, and
various articles, evidently votive offerings. The shrine of the deity
that presides over the destiny of fishermen is distinguished by a huge
silver-paper fish and numerous three-pronged fish-spears. Among other
queer objects whose meaning defies the penetration of the traveller
unversed in Japanese mythology is a monstrous human face, with a nose at
least three feet long, and altogether out of proportion.

Strolling about to while away a rainy forenoon I pass big school-houses
full of children reciting aloud. Their wooden clogs and paper umbrellas
are stowed away in racks, provided for the purpose, at the door. The
cheerfulness with which they shout out their exercises proves plainly
enough that they are only keeping "make-believe" school. Female vegetable
and fruit venders, neat and comely as Normandy dairy-maids, are walking
about chatting and smiling and bowing, "playing at selling vegetables."
While I pause a moment to inspect the stock of a curio-dealer, the
proprietor, seated over a brazier of coals, smoking, bows politely and
points, with a chuckle of amusement, at the fierce-looking effigy of a
daimio in armor. There is not the slightest hint of a mercenary thought
about his actions; plainly enough, he hasn't the remotest wish to sell me
anything--he merely wants to call my attention to the grotesqueness of
this particular figure. He is only playing curio-dealer; he doesn't try
to sell anything, but would do so out of the abundance of his good-nature
if requested to, no doubt. A pair of little old-fashioned fire-engines
repose carelessly against the side of a municipal building. They have
grown tired of playing at extinguishing fires and have thrown aside their
toys. I wander to the water-front and try to locate my hotel from that
point of observation. Watermen are lounging about in wistaria waterproof
coats. They want me to ride to my destination in one of their boats, very
evidently, from their manner, only for the fun of the thing. Everybody is
smiling and urbane, nobody looks serious; no careworn faces are seen, no
pinched poverty. Wonderful people! they come nearer solving the problem
of living happily than any other nation. Even the professional mendicants
seem to be amused at their own poverty, as if life to them was a mere
humorous experiment, scarcely deserving of a serious thought.

The weather clears up at noon, and in the face of a strong northern
breeze I bid farewell to Shimonoseki.

The road follows for some miles along the shore, a smooth, level road
that winds about the bases of the hills that here slope down to toy and
dally with the restless surf of the famous Inland Sea. Following the
shore in a general sense, the road now and then leads inland for a mile
or two, for the purpose of linking together the numerous towns and
villages that dot the little alluvial valleys between the hills. Passing
through one large village, my attention is attracted by the sign "English
Books," over a book-shop. Desirous of purchasing some kind of a guide for
the road to Kobe, I enter the establishment, expecting at least to find
some one capable of understanding English. The young man in charge knows
never a word of English, and his stock of "English books" consists of
primers, spelling-books, etc., for the use of school-children.

The architecture of the villages above Shimonoseki is strikingly
artistic. The quaint gabled houses are painted a snowy white, and are
roofed with brown glazed tiles of curious pattern, also rimmed with
white. About the houses are hedges grotesquely clipped and trained in
imitation of storks, animals, or fishes, miniature orange and persimmon
trees, pretty flower-gardens and little landscape vanities peculiar to
the Japanese. Circling around through little valleys, over small
promontories and along smooth, gravelly stretches of sea-shore road, for
thirty miles, brings me to anchor for the night in a good-sized village.

Among my visitors for the evening is a young gentleman arrayed in shiny
top-boots, tight-fitting corduroy trousers, and jockey cap. In his
general make-up he is the "horsiest" individual I have seen for many a
day. One could readily imagine him to be a professional jockey. The
probability is, however, that he has never mounted a horse in his life.
In all likelihood he has become infatuated with this style of Western
clothes from studying a copy of the London Graphic, has gone to great
trouble and expense to procure the garments from Yokohama, and now
blossoms forth upon the dazed provincials of his native town in a make-up
that stamps him as the swellest of the swell He affects great interest in
the bicycle--much more so than the average Jap--from which I infer
that he has actually imbibed certain notions of Western sport, and is
desirous of posing before his uninitiated and, consequently,
unappreciative, countrymen, as an exponent of athletics. Altogether the
horsey young gentleman is the most startling representative of "New
Japan" I have yet encountered.

A cold drizzle ushers in the commencement of my next day's journey. One
is loath to exchange the neat yadoya, with everything within so spotless
and so pleasant, the tiny garden, not over ten yards square, but
containing a miniature lake, grottos, quaint stone lanterns, bronze
storks, flowers, and stunted trees, for the road. Disagreeable weather
has followed me, however, from Nagasaki like an avenging Fate, bent on
preventing the consummation of my tour from being too agreeable. Even
with rain and mud and consequent delays my first few days in Japan have
seemed a very paradise after my Chinese experiences; what, then, would
have been my impressions of country and people amid sunshine and
favorable conditions of weather and road, when the novelty of it all
first burst upon my Chinese-disgusted senses?

The country round about is mountainous, snow lying upon the summits of a
few of the higher peaks. The road, though hilly at times, manages to
twist and wind its way along from one little valley to another without
any very long hills. Peasants from the mountains are met with, leading
ponies loaded with firewood and rice. Their old Japanese aboriginal
costumes of wistaria raincoats, broad bamboo-hats, and rude straw-sandals
make a conspicuous contrast to their countrymen of "New Japan," in Derby
hats or jockey suits. Notwithstanding the rapid Europeanizing of the
city-bred Japs, the government's progressive policy, the blue-coated
gendarmerie, and the general revolutionizing of the country at large,
many a day will come and go ere these mountaineers forsake the ways and
methods and grotesque costumes of their ancestors. For decades Japan will
present an interesting study of mountaineer conservatism and
ultra-liberal city life. One party will be wearing foreign clothes, aping
foreign manners, adopting foreign ways of doing everything; the other
will be clinging tenaciously to the wistaria garments, bamboo sieve-hats,
straw-sandals, and the traditions of "Old Japan."

Most farm-houses are now thatched with straw; one need hardly add that
they are prettily and neatly thatched, and that they are embellished by
various unique contrivances. Some of them, I notice, are surrounded by a
broad, thick hedge of dark-green shrubbery. The hedge is trimmed so that
the upper edge appears to be a continuation of the brown thatch, which
merely changes its color and slopes at the same steep gradient to the
ground. This device produces a very charming effect, particularly when a
few neatly trimmed young pines soar above the hedge like green sentinels
about the dwelling. One inimitable piece of "botanical architecture"
observed to-day is a thick shrub trimmed into an imitation of a mountain,
with trees growing on the slopes, and a temple standing in a grove.
Before many of the houses one sees curious tree-roots or rocks, that have
been brought many a mile down from the mountains, and preserved on
account of some fanciful resemblance to bird, reptile, or animal.
Artificial lakes, islands, waterfalls, bridges, temples, and groves
abound; and at occasional intervals a large figure of the Buddha squats
serenely on a pedestal, smiling in happy contemplation of the peace,
happiness, prosperity, and beauty of everything and everybody around.
Happy people! happy country. Are the Japs acting wisely or are they
acting foolishly in permitting European notions of life to creep in and
revolutionize it all. Who can tell. Time alone will prove. They will get
richer, more powerful, and more enterprising, because of the necessity of
waking themselves up to keep abreast of the times; but wealth and power,
and the buzz and rattle of machinery and commerce do not always mean
happiness.



CHAPTER XX.

THE HOME STRETCH.

During the afternoon the narrow kuruma road merges into a broad, newly
made macadam, as fine a piece of road as I have seen the whole world
round. Wonderful work has been done in grading it from the low-lying
rice-fields, up, up, up, by the most gentle and even gradient, to where
it seemingly terminates, far ahead between high rocky cliffs. The picture
of charming houses and beautiful terraced gardens climbing to the very
upper stories of the mountains here beggars description; one no longer
marvels at what he has seen in the way of terraced mountains in China.

New sensations of astonishment await me as the upper portion of the
smooth boulevard is reached, and I find myself at the entrance to a
tunnel about five hundred yards long and thirty feet wide. The tunnel is
lit up by means of big reflectors in the middle, shining through the
gloom as one enters, like locomotive headlights. It is difficult to
imagine the Japs going to all this trouble and expense for mere
jinrikisha and pedestrian travel; yet such is the case, for no other
vehicular traffic exists in the country. It is the only country in which
I have found a tunnel constructed for the ordinary roadway, although
there may be similar improvements that have not happened to come to my
notice or ear. One would at least expect to find a toll-keeper in such a
place, especially as a person has to be employed to maintain the lights,
but there is nothing of the kind.

A few miles beyond the tunnel the broad road terminates in a good-sized
seaport, whence I encounter some little difficulty in finding my way
along zigzag field-paths to my proper road for the north. The rain has
fallen at intervals throughout the day, but the roads have averaged good.
Fifty miles, or thereabout, must have been reeled off when, at early
eventide, I pull up at a village ya-doya. Before settling myself down,
for rest and supper, I take a stroll through the village in quest of
possible interesting things. Not far from the yadoya my attention is
arrested by a prominent sign, in italics, "uropean eating, Kameya hous."
Entertaining happy visions of beefsteak and Bass's ale for supper, I
enter the establishment and ask the young man in charge whether the place
is an hotel. He smiles, bows, and intimates his woeful ignorance of what
I am saying.

The following morning is frosty, and low, scudding clouds denote
unsettled weather, as I resume my journey. Much of the time my road
practically follows the shore, and sometimes simply follows the windings
and curvatures of the gravelly beach. Most of the low land near the shore
appears to be reclaimed from the sea--low, flat-looking mud-fields,
protected from overflow by miles and miles of stout dikes and rock-ribbed
walls. Fishing villages abound along the shore, and for long distances a
recent typhoon has driven the sea inland and washed away the road.
Thousands of men and women are engaged in repairing the damages with the
abundance of material ready to hand on the sloping granite-shale hills
around the foot of which the roadway winds.

Fish are cheaper and more plentiful here than anything else, and the old
dame at the yadoya of a fishing village cooks me a big skate for supper,
which makes first-rate eating, in spite of the black, malodorous sauce
she uses so liberally in the cooking.

In this room is a wonderful brass-bound cabinet, suggestive of
soul-satisfying household idols and comfortable private worship. During
the evening I venture to open and take a peep in this cabinet to satisfy
a pardonable curiosity as to its contents. My trespass reveals a little
wax idol seated amid a wealth of cheap tinsel ornaments, and bits of
inscribed paper. Before him sets an offering of rice, sake, and dried
fish in tiny porcelain bowls.

Clear and frosty opens the following morning; the road is good, the
country gradually improves, and by nine o'clock I am engaged in looking
at the military exercises of troops quartered in the populous city of
Hiroshima. The exercises are conducted within a large square, enclosed
with a low bank of earth and a ditch. Crowds of curious civilians are
watching the efforts of raw cavalry recruits to ride stout little horses,
that buck, kick, bite, and paw the air. Every time a soldier gets thrown
the on-lookers chuckle with delight. Both men and horses are undersized,
but look stocky and serviceable withal. The uniform of the cavalry is
blue, with yellow trimmings. The artillery looks trim and efficient, and
the horses, although rather small, are powerful and wiry, just the horses
one would select for the rough work of a campaign.

North of Hiroshima the country assumes a hilly character, the road
following up one mountain-stream and down another. In this mountainous
region one meets mail-carriers, the counterpart almost of the
fleet-footed postmen of Bengal. The Japanese postman improves upon nature
by the addition of a waist-cloth and a scant shirt of white and blue
cotton check; his letter-pouch is fastened to a bamboo-staff; as he
bounds along with springy stride he warns people to clear the way by
shouting in a musical voice, "Honk, honk." This cry resembles in a very
striking degree the utterances of an old veteran brant, or wild-goose,
when speeding northward in the spring to escape a warm wave from the
south.

Among these mountains one is filled with amazement at the tremendous work
the industrious Japs have done to secure a few acres of cultivable land.
Dikes have been thrown up to narrow the channels of the streams, so that
the remaining width of the bed may be converted into fields and gardens.
The streams have been literally turned out of their beds for the sake of
a few acres of alluvial soil. Among the mountains, chiefly between the
mountains and the shore, are level areas of a few square miles,
supporting a population that seems largely out of proportion to the size
of the land. Many of these sea-shore people however, get their livelihood
from the blue waters of the Inland Sea; fish sharing the honors with rice
in being the staple food of provincial Japan.

The weather changes to quite a disagreeable degree of cold by the time I
reach the end of to-day's ride. This introduces me promptly into the
mysteries of how the Japanese manage to keep themselves warm in their
flimsy houses of wooden ribs and semi-transparent paper in cold weather.
An opening in the floor accommodates a brazier of coals; over this stands
an open wood-work frame; quilts covered over the frame retain the heat.
The modus operandi of keeping warm is to insert the body beneath this
frame, wrapping the covering about the shoulders, snugly, to prevent the
escape of the warm air within. The advantage of this unique arrangement
is that the head can be kept cool, while, if desirable, the body can be
subjected to a regular hot-air bath.

The following day is chilly and raw, with occasional skits of snow.
People are humped up and blue-nosed, and seemingly miserable. Yet,
withal, they seem to be only humorously miserable, and not by any means
seriously displeased with the rawness and the snow. Straw wind-breaks are
set up on the windward side of the tea-houses, and there is much stopping
among pedestrians to gather around the tea-house braziers and gossip and
smoke.

Everybody in Japan smokes, both men and women. The universal pipe of the
country is a small brass tube about six inches long, with the end turned
up and widened to form the bowl. This bowl holds the merest pinch of
tobacco; a couple of whiffs, a smart rap on the edge of the brazier to
knock out the residue, and the pipe is filled again and again, until the
smoker feels satisfied. The girls that wait on one at the yadoyas and
tea-houses carry their tobacco in the capacious sleeve-pockets of their
dress, and their pipes sometimes thrust in the sash or girdle, and
sometimes stuck in the back of the hair.

Many of the Buddhas presiding over the cross-roads and village entrances
along my route to-day are provided with calico bibs, the object of which
it is impossible for me to determine, owing to my ignorance of the
vernacular. The bibs are, no doubt, significant of some particular season
of religious observance.

The important city of Okoyama provides abundant food for observation--the
clean, smooth streets, the wealth of European goods in the shops, and the
swarms of ever-interesting people, as I wheel leisurely through it on
Saturday, December 4th. No human being save Japs has so far crossed my
path since leaving Nagasaki, nor am I expecting to meet anybody here. An
agreeable surprise, however, awaits me, for at the corner of one of the
principal business thoroughfares a couple of American missionaries appear
upon the scene. Introducing themselves as Mr. Carey and Mr. Kowland, they
inform me that three families of missionaries reside together here, and
extend a cordial invitation to remain over Sunday. I am very glad indeed
to accept their hospitality for to-morrow, as well as to avail myself of
an opportunity to get my proper bearings. Nothing in the way of a
reliable map or itinerary of the road I have been traversing from
Shimonoseki was to be obtained at Nagasaki, and I have travelled with but
the vaguest idea of my whereabouts from day to day. Only from them do I
learn that the city we meet in is Okoyama, and that I am now within a
hundred miles of Kobe, north of which place "Murray's Handbook" will
prove of material assistance in guiding me aright.

The little missionary colony is charmingly situated on a pine-clad hill
overlooking the city from the east. Several lady missionaries are
visiting from other points, all Americans, making a pleasant party for
one to meet in such an unexpected manner.

On Sunday morning I accompany Mr. Carey to see his native congregation in
the nice new church which he says they have erected from their own means
at a cost of two thousand yen. This latter is a very gratifying
statement, not to say surprisingly so, for it savors of something like
sincerity on the part of the converts. In most countries the converts
seem to be brought to a knowledge of their evil ways, and to perceive the
beauties of the Christian religion through the medium of material
assistance provided from the mission. Instead of spending money
themselves for the cause they profess to embrace, they expect to receive
something from it of a tangible earthly nature. Here, however, we find
the converts themselves building their own meeting-house, and bidding
fair ere long to support the mission without outside aid. This is
encouraging from the stand-point of those who believe in converting "the
heathen" from their own religion to ours, and gratifying to the student
of Japanese character.

About five hundred people congregate in the church, seating themselves
quietly and orderly on the mat-covered floor. They embrace all classes,
from the samurai lawyer or gentleman to the humblest citizen, and from
gray-haired old men and women to shock-headed youngsters, who merely come
with their mothers. Many of these same mothers have been persuaded by the
missionaries to cease the heathenish practice of blackening their teeth,
and so appear at the meeting in even rows of becoming white ivories like
their unmarried sisters. Numbers of curious outsiders congregate about
the open doors and peep in and stand and listen to the sermon of Mr.
Carey, and the singing. The hymns are sung to the same tunes as in
America, the words being translated into Japanese. Everybody seems to
enjoy the singing, and they listen intently to the sermon.

After the sermon, several prominent members of the congregation stand up
and address their countrymen and women in convincing words and gestures.
Mr. Carey tells me that any ordinary Jap seems capable of delivering a
fluent, off-hand exposition of his views in public without special effort
or embarrassment. Altogether the Japanese Christian congregation,
gathered here in ita own church, sitting on the floor, singing,
sermonizing, and looking happy, is a novel and interesting sight to see.
One can imagine missionary life among the genial Japs as being very
pleasant.

Saturday and Sunday pass pleasantly away, and, with happy memories of the
little missionary colony, I wheel away from Oko-yama on Monday morning,
passing through a country of rich rice-fields and numerous villages for
some miles. The scene then changes into a beautiful country of small
lakes and pine-covered hills, reminding me very much of portions of the
Berkshire Hills, Mass. The weather is cool and clear, and the road
splendid, although in places somewhat hilly.

Fifty-three miles are duly scored when, at three o'clock in the
afternoon, I arrive at the city of Himeji. The yadoya here is a superior
sort of a place, and Himeji numbers among its productions European pan
(bread), steak, and bottled beer. The Japs are themselves rapidly coming
to an appreciation of this latter article, and even to manufacture it, a
big brewery being already established somewhere near Tokio. A couple of
young dandies of "New Japan" drop in during the evening, send out for
bottles of beer, and seem to take particular delight in showing off their
appreciation of the newly introduced beverage before their countrymen of
the "ancient regime."

Beyond Himeji one leaves behind the mountains, emerging upon a broad,
level, rice-producing plain, which extends eastward to Kobe and the
sea-shore. The fine level road traversing the plain passes through
numerous towns and villages, and for the latter half of the distance
skirts the shore. Old dismantled stone forts, tea-houses, eating-stalls,
fishermen's huts, house-boats, and swarms of jinrikishas and pedestrians
make their sea-shore road lively and interesting. The single artery
through which the life of all the southern tributary country ebbs and
flows to trade at the busiest treaty port in Japan, this road is
constantly swarming with people. Over the Minato-gawa Kiver by an
elevated bridge, and one finds himself in a broad street leading through
Hiogo to Kobe. These two cities are practically joined together, although
bearing different names. Like many of the rivers of Japan, the bed of the
Minato-gawa is elevated considerably above the surrounding plain.
Confined between artificial banks to prevent the flooding of the adjacent
fields in spring, the debris brought down from year to year has gradually
raised the bed, and necessitated continued raising also of the levees.
These operations have very naturally ended in raising the whole affair to
an elevation that leaves even the bottom of the stream several feet
higher than the fields around.

Kobe is one of the treaty ports of Japan, and nowadays is reputed to do
more foreign trade than any of the others. One can imagine Kobe being a
very pleasant and desirable place to live; the foreign settlement is
quite extensive, the surroundings attractive, and the climate mild and
healthful.

Pleasant days are spent at Kobe and Ozaka. Twenty-seven miles of level
road from the latter city, following the course of the Yodo-gawa, a broad
shallow stream that flows from Lake Biwa to the sea, brings me to Kioto.
From the eighth century until 1868 Kioto was the capital of the Japanese
empire, and is generally referred to as the old capital of the country.
The present population is about a quarter of a million, about half of
what it was supposed to be in the heyday of its ancient glory as the seat
of empire.

Living at Kioto is Mr. B, an American ex-naval officer, who several years
ago forsook old Neptune's service to embark in the more peaceful pursuit
of teaching the ideas of youthful Japs to shoot. The occasion was
auspicious, for the whole country was fired with enthusiasm for learning
English. English was introduced into the public schools as a regular
study. Mr. B is settled at Kioto, and now instructs a large and
interesting class of boys in the mysteries of his mother tongue. Taking a
letter of introduction he makes me comfortable for the afternoon and
night at his pleasant residence on the banks of the Yodo-gawa. Under the
pilotage of his private jinrikisha-man, I spend a portion of the
afternoon in making a flying visit to various places of interest. A party
of American tourists are unexpectedly met in the first temple we visit,
that of Nishi Hon-gwan-ji. The paintings and decorations of this temple,
one of the ladies says with something akin to enthusiasm, are quite equal
to those of the great temple at Nikko. This lady appears to be a
missionary resident, or, at all events, a person well versed in Japanese
temples and things. Her companions are fleeting tourists, who listen to
her explanations with respect, but, like myself, know nothing more when
they leave the temple than when they entered. Japanese mythology,
religion, temples, politics, history, and titles, seem to me to be the
worst mixed up and the most difficult for off-hand comprehension of
anything I have yet undertaken to peep into. The multitudinous gods of
the Hindoos, with their no less multitudinous functions, seem to me to be
easily understood in comparison with the weird legends and mazy mythology
of the Flowery Kingdom.

Near this temple is a lovely little garden that gives much more
satisfaction to the casual visitor than the temples. It is always a
pleasure to visit a Japanese garden, and, in addition to its landscape
attractions, historical interest lends to this one additional charm. The
artificial lake is stocked with tame carp, which come crowding to the
side when visitors clap their hands, in the expectation of being fed. A
pair of unhappy-looking geese are imprisoned beneath an iron grating
within the garden. They are kept there in commemoration of some
historical incident; what the incident is, however, even the
well-informed lady of the party doesn't seem to know; neither does
Murray's voluminous guide-book condescend to explain. A small palace,
with interior decorations of the usual conventional subjects--storks,
flying geese, rising moons, bamboo-shoots, etc.--together with a
small, round, thatched summer-house, where, five hundred years ago,
Ashikaga Yoshimitsu, the Shogun monk, was wont to pass the time in
meditation, form the remaining sole attractions of the garden.

The one place I have been anticipating some real pleasure in visiting is
the Shu-gaku-In gardens, one of the most famous gardens in this country
where, above all others, gardening is pursued as a fine art. This,
however, is not accessible to-day, and wearied already of temples, gods,
and shaven-pated priests, I give the jin-rikisha-coolie orders to return
home. A mile or two through the smooth and level streets and the hopeful
and sanguine "riksha" man dumps me out at another temple. Fancying that,
perchance, he might have brought me to something extraordinary, I follow
him wearily in. A graduate in the Shinto religion would no doubt find
something different about these temples, but to the ordinary, every-day
human, to see one is to see them all. My man, however, seems determined
to give me a surfeit of temples, and hurries me off to yet another one,
ere awakening to the fact that I am trying to get him to return to Mr. B
's. The third one I positively refuse to have anything to do with.

At Mr. B 's I find awaiting my coming an interesting deputation,
consisting of the assistant superintendent of the young ladies' seminary,
together with three of his most interesting pupils. They have been
reading about my tour in the native papers, and, in the assistant
superintendent's own words, "are very curious at seeing so famous a
traveller." The three young ladies stand in a row, like the veritable
"three little maids from school" in "The Mikado," and giggle their
approval of the teacher's explanation. They are three very pretty girls,
and two of them have their hair banged after the most approved American
style.

Sweetcakes and tea are indulged in by the visitors, and before they leave
an agreement is entered into by which I am to visit their school in the
morning before leaving and hear them sing "Bonny Boon" and "The
fire-fly's light," in return for riding the bicycle in the school-house
grounds. "The fire-fly's light" is sung to the tune of "Auld lang syne,"
the Japanese words of which commemorate a legend of the tea-district of
Uji near Lake Biwa. The legend states that certain learned men repaired
to a secluded spot near Uji to pursue their studies. On one occasion,
being out of oil and unable to procure the means of lighting their
apartment, myriads of fire-flies came and illumined the place with their
tiny lamps sufficient for their purpose.

My compact with the "three little maids from school" takes me down into
the city on something of a detour from my nearest road out next morning.
The detour is well repaid, however; besides the singing and organ-playing
promised, the many departments of industrial study into which the school
is divided are very interesting. Laces and embroidery for the Tokio
market, dresses for themselves and to sell, are made by the girls, the
proceeds going toward the maintenance of the institution. One of the most
curious scholarships of the place is the teaching of what is known as the
"Japanese ceremony." It seems to be a perpetuation of some old court
ceremony of making tea for the Mikado. Expressing a wish to see the
ceremony, I am conducted to a small room divided off by the usual sliding
paper panels. A class of girls are kneeling in a row, confronting a very
neat-looking old lady who sits beside a small brazier of coals. The old
lady is the teacher; when she claps her hands, one of the paper screens
slides gently aside and one of the scholars enters, bearing a small
lacquer tray with tiny teapot and cups, a canister of tea, and various
other paraphernalia. There is really very little to the "ceremony," the
graceful motions of the tea-maker being by far the more interesting part
of the performance. The tea used is finely powdered and comes from Uji,
where it is grown especially for the use of the Mikado's household. The
tea-dust is mixed with hot water by means of a curiously splintered
bamboo mixer that looks very much like a shaving-brush. The result is a
very aromatic cup of tea, delicious to the nostrils, but hardly
acceptable to the European palate.

My jinrikisha-man of yesterday precedes me through the streets, shouting
the "honk, honk, honk." of the mail-runners, to clear the way. To see him
cleave a way through the multitudes for me to follow, keeping up a
six-mile pace the while, swinging his arms like a windmill, one might
well imagine me a real dai-mio on wheels with faithful samurai-runner
ahead, warning away the common herd from my path.

At Kioto begins the Tokaido, the most famous highway of Japan, a road
that is said to have been the same great highway of travel, that it is
to-day, for many centuries. It extends from Kioto to Tokio, a distance of
three hundred and twenty-five miles.

Another road, called the Nakasendo, the "Road of the Central Mountains,"
in contradistinction to the Tokaido, the "Road of the Eastern Sea," also
connects the old capital with the new; but, besides being somewhat
longer, the Nakasendo is a hillier road, and less interesting than the
Tokaido. After leaving the city the Tokaido leads over a low pass through
the hills to Otsu, on the lovely sheet of water known as Biwa Lake.

This lake is of about the same dimensions as Lake Geneva, and fairly
rivals that Switzer gem in transcendental beauty. The Japs, with all
their keen appreciation of the beauties of nature, go into raptures over
Biwa Lake. Much talk is made of the "eight beauties of Biwa." These eight
beauties are: The Autumn Moon from Ishi-yama, the Evening Snow on
Hira-yama, the Blaze of Evening at Seta, the Evening Bell of Mii-dera,
the Boats sailing back from Yabase, a Bright Sky with a Breeze at Awadzu,
Bain by Night at Karasaki, and the Wild Geese alighting at Katada. All
the places mentioned are points about the lake. All sorts of legends and
romantic stories are associated with the waters of Lake Biwa. Its origin
is said to be due to an earthquake that took place several centuries
before the Christian era; the legend states that Fuji rose to its
majestic height from the plain of Suruga at the same moment the lake was
formed. Temples and shrines abound, and pilgrims galore come from far-off
places to worship and see its beauties.

One object of special curiosity to tourists is a remarkable pine-tree,
whose branches have been trained in horizontal courses over upright
posts, until it forms a broad shelter over several hundred square yards.
A smaller imitation of the large tree is also spreading to ambitious
proportions on the Tokaido side.

Snow has fallen and rests on the upper slopes of the mountains
overlooking the lake, little steamers and numerous sailing-craft are
plying on the smooth waters, and wild geese are flying about. With these
beauties on the left and tea-gardens on the right, the Tokaido leads
through rows of stately pines, and past numerous villages along the lake
shore.

The Nakasendo branches off to the left at the village of Kusa-tsu,
celebrated for the manufacture of riding-whips. Through Ishibe and
beyond, to where it crosses the Yokota-gawa, the Tokaido continues level
and good. Near the crossing of this stream is a curious stone monument,
displaying the carved figures of three monkeys covering up their eyes,
mouth, and ears, to indicate that they will "neither see, hear, nor say
any evil thing." All through here the country is devoted chiefly to
growing tea; very pretty the undulating ridges and rolling slopes of the
broken foot-hills look, set out in thick, bushy, well-defined rows and
clumps of dark, shiny tea-plants.

Down a very steep declivity, by sharp zigzags, the Tokaido suddenly dips
into the little valley of the Yasose-gawa. At the foot of the hill is a
curious shrine cave, containing several rude idols, a trough with tame
goldfish, and one of the crudest Buddhas I ever saw. The aim of the
ambitious sculptor of Buddhas is to produce a personification of "great
tranquillity." The figure in the Valley of Yasose-gawa is certainly
something of a masterpiece in this direction; nothing could well be more
tranquil than an oblong bowlder with the faintest chiselling of a mouth
and nose, poised on the top of an upright slab of stone rudely chipped
into a dim semblance of the human form.

A mile or two farther and my day's ride of forty-six miles terminates at
the village of Saka-no-shita. A comfortable yadoya awaits me here, no
better nor worse, however, than almost every Jap village affords; but on
the Tokaido the innkeepers are more accustomed to European guests than
they are south of Kobe. Every summer many European and American tourists
journey between Yokohama and Kobe by jinrikisha.

At this yadoya I first become acquainted with that peculiar institution
of Japan, the blind shampooer. Seated in my little room, my attention is
attracted by a man who approaches on hands and knees, and butts his
shaven pate accidentally against the corner of the open panel that forms
my door. He halts at the entrance and indulges in the pantomime of
pinching and kneading his person; his mission is to find out whether I
desire his services. For a small gratuity the blind shampooer of Japan
will rub, knead, and press one into a pleasant sensation from head to
foot. This office is relegated to sightless individuals or ugly old
women; many Japs indulge in their services after a warm bath, finding the
treatment very pleasant and beneficial, so they say.

One of the most amusing illustrations of Jap imitativeness is displayed
in the number of American clocks one sees adorning the walls of the
yadoyas in nearly every village. The amusing feature of the thing is that
the owners of these time-pieces seem to have the vaguest ideas of what
they are for. One clock on the wall of my yadoya indicates eleven
o'clock, another half-past nine, and a third seven-fifteen as I pull out
in the morning. Other clocks through the village street vary in similar
degree. Watching out for these widely varying clocks as I wheel through
the villages has come to be one of the diversions of the day's ride.

The road averages good, although somewhat hilly in places, from Saka-no
through lovely valleys and pine-clad mountains to Yokka-ichi. Yokka-ichi
is a small seaport, whence most travellers along the Tokaido take passage
to Miya in the steam passenger launches plying between these points. The
kuruma road, however, continues good to the Ku-wana, ten miles farther,
whence, to Miya, one has to traverse narrower paths through a flat
section of rice-fields, dikes, canals, and sloughs.

A ri beyond Okabe and the pass of Utsunoya necessitates a mile or two of
trundling. Here occurs a tunnel some six hundred feet in length and
twelve wide; a glimmer of sunshine or daylight is cast into the tunnel by
a system of simple reflectors at either entrance. These are merely glass
mirrors, set at an angle to reflect the rays of light into the tunnel.

Descending this little pass the Tokaido traverses a level rice-field
plain, crosses the Abe-kawa, and approaches the sea-coast at Shidzuoka, a
city of thirty thousand inhabitants. The view of Fuji, now but a short
distance ahead, is extremely beautiful; the smooth road sweeps around the
gravelly beach, almost licked by the waves. The breakers approach and
recede, keeping time to the inimitable music of the surf; vessels are
dotting the blue expanse; villages and tea-houses are seen resting along
the crescent-sweep of the shore for many a mile ahead, where Fuji slopes
so gracefully down from its majestic snow-crowned summit to the sea.

It is indeed a glorious ride around the crescent bay, through the
sea-shore villages of Okitsu, Yui, Kambara, and Iwabuchi to Yoshiwara, a
little town on the footstool of the big, gracefully sweeping cone. The
stretch of shore hereabout is celebrated in Japanese poetry as
Taga-no-ura, from the peculiarly beautiful view of Fuji obtained from it.

This remarkable mountain is the highest in Japan, and is probably the
finest specimen of a conical mountain in existence. Native legends
surround it with a halo of romance. Its origin is reputed to be
simultaneous with the formation of Biwa Lake, near Kioto, both mountain
and lake being formed in a single night--one rising from the plain
twelve thousand eight hundred feet, the other sinking till its bed
reached the level of the sea.

The summit of Fuji is a place of pilgrimage for Japanese ascetics who are
desirous of attaining "perfect peace" by imitating Shitta-Tai-shi, the
Japanese Buddha, who climbed to the summit of a mountain in search of
nirvana (calm). Orthodox Japs believe that the grains of sand brought
down on the sandals of the pilgrims ascend to the summit again of their
own accord during the night.

Tradition is furthermore responsible for the belief that snow disappears
entirely from the mountain for a few hours on the fifteenth day of the
sixth moon, and begins to fall again during the following night. Formerly
an active volcano, Fuji even now emits steam from sundry crevices near
the summit, and will some day probably fill the good people at Yoshiwara
and adjacent villages with a lively sense of its power. Fuji is the
special pride of the Japs, its loveliness appealing strongly to the
national sense of landscape beauty. Of it their poet sings:

"Great Fusiyama, tow'ring to the sky. A treasure art thou, giv'n to
mortal man, A god-protector watching o'er Japan: On thee forever let me
feast mine eye."

Fuji is passed and left behind, and sixteen miles reeled off from
Yoshiwara, when Mishima, my destination for the night, is reached. A
festival in honor of Oyama-tsumi-no-Kami, the god of "mountains in
general," is being held here; for, behold, to-day is November 15th, the
"middle day of the bird," one of the several festivals held in his honor
every year. The big temple grounds are swarming with people, and pedlers,
stalls, jugglers, and all sorts of attractions give the place the
appearance of a country fair.

Leaving the bicycle outside, I wander in and stroll about among the
crowds. Sacred ponds on either side of the footway are swarming with
sacred fish. An ancient dame is doing a roaring trade, in a small way, in
feathery bread-puffs, which the people buy and throw to the fish, for the
fun of seeing them swarm around and eat.

Interested groups are gathered around veritable fac-similes of the Yankee
"street-men," selling to credulous villagers little boxes of powder for
"coating things with silver." Others are selling song-books, attracting
customers by the novel and interesting performances of a quartette of
pretty girls, who sing song after song in succession. Here also are
little travelling peep-shows, containing photographic scenes of famous
temples and places in distant parts of the country.

Among the various shrines in this temple is one dedicated to an ancient
wood-cutter, who used to work and spend his wages on drink for his aged
father, who was now too old to earn money for the purpose himself. At his
father's demise the son was rewarded for his filial devotion by the
discovery of a "cascade of pure sake."

A gayly decorated car and a closed tumbril, that looks very much like an
old ammunition-wagon, have been wheeled out of their enclosures for the
occasion. Strings of little bells are suspended on these; mothers hold
their little ones up and allow them to strike these bells, toss a coin
into the contribution-box, and pass on. The vehicles probably contain
relics of the gods.

A wooden horse, painted red, stands in solemn and lonely state behind the
wooden bars of his stall--but I have almost registered a vow against
temples and their belongings, in Japan, so inexplicable are most of the
things to be seen. A person who has delved into the mysteries of Japanese
mythology would no doubt derive much satisfaction from a visit to the
Oyama-tsumi-uo-Kami temple, but the average reader would weary of it all
after seeing others. What to ordinary mortals signify such hideous
mythological monsters as saru-tora-hebi (monkey-tiger-serpent), or the
"Twenty-four Paragons of Filial Piety" on the architrave. Yet, of such as
these is the ornamentation of all Japanese temples. Some few there are
that are admirable as works of art, but most of them are hideous daubs
and representations more than passing rude.

Down the street near my yadoya, within a boarded enclosure, a dozen
wrestlers are giving an entertainment for a crowd of people who have paid
two sen apiece entrance-fee. The wrestlers of Japan form a distinct class
or caste, separated from the ordinary society of the country by long
custom, that prejudices them against marrying other than the daughter of
one of their own profession. As the biggest and more muscular men have
always been numbered in the ranks of the wrestlers, the result of this
exclusiveness and non-admixture with physical inferiors is a class of
people as distinct from their fellows as if of another race. The Japanese
wrestler stands head and shoulders above the average of his countrymen,
and weighs half as much more. As a class they form an interesting
illustration of what might be accomplished in the physical improvement of
mankind by certain Malthusian schemes that have been at times advocated.

Within a twelve-foot arena the sturdy athletes struggle for the mastery,
bringing to bear all their strength and skill. No "hippodroming" here:
stripped to the skin, the muscles on their brown bodies standing out in
irregular knots, they fling one another about in the liveliest manner.
The master of ceremonies, stiff and important, in a faultless gray
garment bearing a samurai crest, stands by and wields the fiddle-shaped
lacquered insignia of his high office, and utter his orders and decisions
in an authoritative voice.

The wrestlers squat around the ring and shiver, for the evening is cold,
until called out by the master of ceremonies. The two selected take a
small handful of salt from baskets of that ingredient suspended on posts,
and fling toward each other. They then advance into the arena, and
furthermore challenge and defy their opponent by stamping their bare feet
on the ground, in a manner to display their superior muscularity. Another
order from the gentleman wielding the fiddle-shaped insignia, and they
rush violently together, engage in a "catch-as-catch-can" scuffle, which,
in less than half a minute usually, results in a decisive victory for one
or the other. The master of ceremonies waves them out of the ring,
straightens himself up, assumes a very haughty expression, until he looks
like the very important personage he feels himself to be, and announces
the name of the victor to the spectators.

The one portion of the Tokaido impassable with a wheel commences at
Mishima, the famous Hakone Pass, which for sixteen miles offers a steep
surface of rough bowlder-paved paths. Coolies at Mishima make their
livelihood by carrying goods and passengers over the pass on kagoa (the
Japanese palanquin). Obtaining a couple of men to carry the bicycle, the
chilly weather proves an inducement for following them afoot, rather than
occupy a kago myself. The block road is broad enough for a wagon, being
constructed, no doubt, with a view to military transport service. The
long steep slopes are literally carpeted in places with the worn-out
straw shoes of men and horses.

The country observed from the elevation of the Hakone Pass is extremely
beautiful, the white-tipped cone of the magnificent Fuji towering over
all, like a presiding genius. Near the hamlet of Yamanaka is a famous
point, called Fuji-mi-taira (terrace for looking at Fuji). Big
cryptomerias shade the broad stony path along much of its southern slope
to Hakone village and lake.

Hakone is a very lovely and interesting region, nowadays a favorite
summer resort of the European residents of Tokio and Yokohama. From the
latter place Hakone Lake is but about fifty miles distant, and by
jinrikisha and kago may be reached in one day. The lake is a most
charming little body of water, a regular mountain-gem, reflecting in its
clear, crystal depths the pine-clad slopes that encompass it round about,
as though its surface were a mirror. Japanese mythology peopled the
region round with supernatural beings in the early days of the country's
history, when all about were impenetrable thickets and pathless woods.
Until the revolution of 1868, when all these old feudal customs were
ruthlessly swept away, the Tokaido here was obstructed with one of the
"barriers," past which nobody might go without a passport. These barriers
were established on the boundaries of feudal territories, usually at
points where the traveller had no alternate route to choose.

A magnificent avenue of cryptomeria shades the Tokaido for a short
distance out of Hakone village; on the left is passed a large government
sanitarium, one of those splendid modern-looking structures that speak so
eloquently of the present Mikado's progressive and enlightened policy.
The road then turns up the steep mountain-slopes, fringed with
impenetrable thickets of bamboo. Fuji, from here, presents a grand and
curious sight. The wind has risen, and the summit of the cone is almost
hidden behind clouds of drifting snow, which at a distance might almost
be mistaken for a steamy eruption of the volcano. Close by, too, the
spirit of the wind moves through the bamboo-brakes, rubbing the myriad
frost-dried flags together and causing a peculiar rustling noise--the
whispering of the spirits of the mountains.

The summit reached, the Tokaido now leads through glorious pine-woods,
descending toward the valley of the Sakawagawa by a series of breakneck
zigzags. The region is picturesque in the extreme; a small
mountain-stream tumbles along through a deep ravine on the left,
mountains tower aloft on the other side, and here and there give birth to
a cataract that tumbles and splashes down from a height of several
hundred feet.

By 1 p.m. Yomoto and the recommencement of the jinrikisha road is
reached; a broiled fish and a bottle of native beer are consumed for
lunch, and the kago coolies dismissed. The road from Yomoto is a gradual
descent, for four miles, to Odawara, a town of some thirteen thousand
inhabitants, on the coast. The road now becomes level and broader than
heretofore; vehicles drawn by horses mingle with the swarms of
jinrikishas and pedestrians. Both horses and drivers of the former seem
sleepy, woe-begone and careless, as though overcome with a consciousness
of being out of place.

Gangs of men are dragging stout hand-carts, loaded with material for the
construction of the Tokaido railway, now rapidly being pushed forward.
Every mile of the road is swarming with life--the strangely
interesting life of Japan. Thirty miles from Yomoto, and Totsuka provides
me a comfortable yadoya, where the people quickly show their knowledge of
the foreigner's requirements by cooking a beefsteak with onions, also in
the morning by charging the first really exorbitant price I have been
confronted with along the Tokaido. Totsuka is within the treaty limits of
Yokohama. A mile or so toward Yokohama I pass, in the morning, the "White
Horse Tavern," kept in European style as a sort of road-house for
foreigners driving out from that city or Tokio.

A fierce wind, blowing from the south, fairly wafts me along the last
eleven miles of the Tokaido, from Totsuka to Yokohama. The wind, indeed,
has been generally favorable since the rain-storm at Okabe, but it fairly
whistles this morning. It calls to mind the Kansas wheelman, who claimed
to have once spread his coat-tails to the breeze and coasted from
Lawrence to Kansas City in three hours. Unfortunately I am wearing a coat
the pattern of which does not admit of using the tails for sails
otherwise the homestretch of the tour around the world might have
provided one of the most unique incidents of the many I have encountered
on the journey.

A battery of field-artillery, the smartest seen since leaving Germany, is
encountered in the streets of Kanagawa, at which point the road to
Yokohama branches off from the Tokaido. The great Imperial highway, along
which I have travelled from the old capital almost to the new, continues
on to the latter, seventeen miles farther. Since the completion of the
railway between Tokio and Kanagawa, travellers journeying from the
capital down the Tokaido usually ride on the train to Kanagawa, so that
the jinrikisha journey proper nowadays commences at the latter city.

Kanagawa is practically a suburban part of Yokohama: one Japanese-owned
clock observed here points to the hour of eight, another to eleven, and a
third to half past-nine, but the clock at the Club Hotel, on the Yokohama
bund, is owned by an Englishman, and is just about striking ten, when the
last vault from the saddle of the bicycle that has carried me through so
many countries is made. And so the bicycle part of the tour around the
world, which was begun April 22, 1884, at San Francisco, California, ends
December 17, 1886, at Yokohama.

At this port I board the Pacific mail steamer City of Peking, which in
seventeen days lands me in San Francisco. Of the enthusiastic reception
accorded me by the San Francisco Bicycle Club, the Bay City Wheelmen, and
by various clubs throughout the United States, the daily press of the
time contains ample record. Here, I beg leave to hope that the courtesies
then so warmly extended may find an echoing response in this long record
of the adventures that had their beginning and ending at the Golden Gate.



ITINERARY:
GIVING THE NAME AND DATE OF EACH SLEEPING-POINT ON THE BICYCLE TOUR
                      AROUND THE WORLD.

VOLUME I.
UNITED STATES.
  CALIFORNIA.
    1884
    April 23 San Francisco
    23 House in the tuiles
    24 Elmira
    25 Sacramento
    26 Near Rocklin
    27-28 Clipper Gap
    29 Blue Canon
    30 Summit House
  NEVADA.
    May 1 Verdi
    2 Ranch on Truckee River
    3 Hot Springs
    4 Lovelocks
    5 Mill City
    6 Winnemucca
    7 Stone House
    8 Ranch on Humboldt
    9 Palisade
    10 Carlin
    11 Halleck
    12 C P Section House
  UTAH.
    13 Tacoma
    14 Matlin
    15 Salt House
    16 Near Corrinne
    17 Willard City
    18 Ogden
    19 Echo City
    20 Castle Rocks
  WYOMING TERRITORY.
    May 21 Evanston
    22 Hilliard
    23 In abandoned freight wagon
    24 Carter Station
    25 Near Granger
    26 Rocks Springs
    27 Ranch
    28-29 Rawlins
    30 Carbon
    31 Lookout June
    1-2 Laramie City
    3 Cheyenne
  NEBRASKA.
    4 Pine Bluffs
    5 Potter Station
    6 Lodge Pole
    7 Ranch on Platte
    8 Ogallala
    9 In a "dug-out"
    10 Brady Island
    11 Plum Creek
    12 Kearney Junction
    13 Grand Island
    14 Duncan
    15 North Bend
    16 Fremont
    17-18 Omaha
  IOWA.
    19 Farm near Nishnebotene
    20 Farm near Griswold
    June 21 Farm near Menlo
    22 Farm near De Soto
    23 Altoona
    24 Kellogg
    25 Victor
    26 Tiffin
    27 MOSCOW-ILLINOIS.
    28 Rock Island
    29 Atkinson
    30 La Moile
    July 1 Yorkville
    2 Naperville
    3 Lyons
    4-11 Chicago
  INDIANA.
    12 Miller Station
    13 Beneath a wheat shock
    14 Goshen
    15 Farm
  OHIO.
    10 Ridgeville
    17 Empire House
    18 Bellevue
    19 Village near Cleveland
    20 Madison
  PENNSYLVANIA.
    21 Roadside Hotel near
    Erie
  NEW YORK.
    22 Angola
    23 Buffalo
    24 Leroy
    25 Farm near Canandaigua
    26 Marcellns
    27 East Syracuse
    28 Erie Canal Inn
    29 Indian Castle
    80 Crane's Village
    31 Westfalls Inn
  MASSACHUSETTS.
    Aug. 1 Otis
    2 Palmer
    3 Worcester
    4 Boston
EUROPE.
  ENGLAND.
    1885 Liverpool
    May 2 Warrington
    3 Stone
    4 Coventry
    5 Fenny Stratford
    6 Great Berkhamstead
    7-8 London
    9 Croydon
    10 British Channel Steamer
  FRANCE
    Via Dieppe
    11 Elbeuf
    12 Mantes
    13-15 Paris
    16 Sezanne
    17 Bar le Duo
    18 Trouville
    19 Nancy
  GERMANY.
    20 Phalzburg Via Strasburg
    21 Oberkirch
    22 Rottenburg
    23 Blauburen
    24 Augsburg
    25-26 Munich
    27 Alt Otting
  AUSTRIA-HUNGARY.
    28 Hoag
    29 Strenberg
    80 Neu Lengbach
    31 Vienna
    June 1-3
    4 Altenburg
    5 Neszmely
    6-7 Budapest
    8 Duna Pentele
    9 Szegszard
    10 Duna Szekeso
    11-12 Eszek
    13 Sarengrad
    14 Neusatz
    15 Batauitz
  SERVIA, BULGARIA, AND TURKEY.
    16-17 Belgrade
    18 Jagodina
    19 Nisch
    June 20-31 Bela Palanka
    22 Sofia
    23 Ichtiman
    24 Near Tartar Bazardjic
    25 Cauheme
    26 Near Adrianople
    27-28 Eski Baba
    29 Small Village
    30 Tchorlu
    July 1 Camped out
    2 Constantinople

6,000 miles wheeled from San Francisco.
ASIA.
  ASIA MINOR.
    Aug. 10 Ismidt
    11 Geiveh
    12 Terekli
    13 Beyond Torbali
    14 Nalikhan
    15 Bey Bazaar
    16-17 Angora
    18 Village
    19 Camped out
    20 Koordish Camp
    21 Yuzgat
    22 Camped out
    23 Village
    24-25 Sivas
    26 Zara
    Mar. 27 Armenian Village
    28 Camp in a cave
    29 Merriserriff
    30 Erzingan
    31 Houssenbeg Khan
    Sept. 1 Village in Euphrates Valley
    2-6 Erzeroum
    7 Hassan Kaleh
    8 Dela Baba
    9 Malosman
    10 Sup Ogwanis Monastery
  PERSIA.
    11 Ovahjik
    12 Koodish Camp
    13 Peri
    14 Khoi
    15 Village near Lake Ooroomiah
    16 Village near Tabreez
    17-20 Tabreez
    21 Hadji Agha
    22 Turcomanchai
    23 Miana
    24 Koordish Camp
    25-26 Zendjan
    27 Heeya
    28 Kasveen
    29 Yeng Imam
    30 Teheran

VOLUME II.
1886
    Mar. 10 Katoum-abad
    11 Aivan-i-Kaif
    12 Aradan
    13-14-15 Lasgird
    16 Semnoon
    17 Gusheh
    18 Deh Mollah
    19-20 Shahrood
    21 Mijamid
    22 Miandasht
    23-24 Mazinan
    25 Subzowar
    26 Wayside caravanserai
    27 Shiirab
    28 Gadamgah
    Mar. 29 Wayside caravanserai
    30-Ap. 6 Meshed
    April 7 Shahriffabad
    8 Caravanserai
    9 Torbet-i-Haidorai
    10 Camp on Gounabad Desert
    11 Kakh
    12 Nukhab
    13 Small hamlet
    14 Beerjand
    15 Ali-abad
    16 Darmian
    17 Tabbas
    18 Huts on desert edge
  AFGHANISTAN.
    April 19 Camp on Desert of Despair
    20 Nomad camp
    31 Village ou Harud
    22 Ghalakua
    23 Nomad camp
    24-25 Furrali (arrested by Afghans)
    26 Nomad camp
    27 Subzowar
    28 Nomad camp
    29 Camp out
    30-May 9 Herat
    May 10 Village
    11 Roadside umbar
    12 Camp in Heri-rood jungle
  PERSIA.
    13 Karize (released by Afghans)
    14 Nomad camp
    15 Furriman
    16-18 Meshed
    19 Caravanserai
    20 Near Nishapoor
    21 Lafaram
    22 Wayside umbar
    23 Mazinan
    24 Near caravanserai
    25 Camp out
    26-27 Shahrood
    28 Camp out
    29 Asterabad
    30 Bunder Guz

Russian steamer to Baku;
rail to Batoum; steamer to Constantinople and India.
Renewed bicycle tour:

  INDIA.
    August Lahore
    1 Amritza
    2 Beas River 8 Jullunder
    4 Police chowkee
    5-6 Umballa
    7 Peepli
    8 Paniput
    9 Police chowkee
    10-14 Delhi
    15 Dak bungalow
    16 Bungalow
    17 Muttra
    Aug. 18-19 Agra
    20 Mainipoor
    21 Miran-serai
    22-26 Cawnpore
    27 Caravanserai
    28 Caravanserai
    29-30 Allahabad
    31 Roadside hut
    Sept. 1-2 Benares
    3 Mogul-serai
    4 Caravanserai
    5 Dilli
    6 Shergotti
    7 D`ak bungalow
    8 D`ak bungalow
    9 Burwah
    10 Ranuegunj
    11 Burdwan
    12 Hooghli
    13-17 Calcutta Steamer to