CHAPTER XIII. BEY BAZAAR, ANGORA, AND EASTWARD.
Continuing on my way I am next halted by a young man of the better class, who, together with the zaptieh, endeavors to prevail upon me to stop, going through the pantomime of writing and reading, to express some idea that our mutual ignorance of each other's language prevents being expressed in words. The result is a rather curious intermezzo. Thinking they want to examine my teskeri merely to gratify their idle curiosity, I refuse to be thus bothered, and, dismissing them quite brusquely, hurry along over the rough cobble-stones in hopes of reaching ridable ground and escaping from the place ere the inevitable "madding crowd" become generally aware of my arrival. The young man disappears, while the zaptieh trots smilingly but determinedly by my side, several times endeavoring to coax me into making a halt; which is, however, promptly interpreted by myself into a paternal plea on behalf of the villagers - a desire to have me stop until they could be generally notified and collected - the very thing I am hurrying along to avoid, I am already clear of the village and trundling up the inevitable acclivity, the zaptieh and a small gathering still doggedly hanging on, when the young man reappears, hurriedly approaching from the rear, followed by half the village. The zaptieh pats me on the shoulder and points back with a triumphant smile; thinking he is referring to the rabble, I am rather inclined to be angry with him and chide him for dogging my footsteps, when I observe the young man waving aloft a letter, and at once understand that I have been guilty of an ungenerous misinterpretation of their determined attentions. The letter is from Mr. Binns, an English gentleman at Angora, engaged in the exportation of mohair, and contains an invitation to become his guest while at Angora. A well-deserved backsheesh to the good-natured zaptieh and a penitential shake of the young man's hand silence the self-accusations of a guilty conscience, and, after riding a short distance down the hill for the satisfaction of the people, I continue on my way, trundling up the varying gradations of a general acclivity for two miles. Away up the road ahead I now observe a number of queer, shapeless objects, moving about on the roadway, apparently descending the hill, and resembling nothing so much as animated clumps of brushwood. Upon a closer approach they turn out to be not so very far removed from this conception; they are a company of poor Ayash peasant-women, each carrying a bundle of camel-thorn shrubs several times larger than herself, which they have been scouring the neighboring hills all morning to obtain for fuel. This camel-thorn is a light, spriggy shrub, so that the size of their burthens is large in proportion to its weight. Instead of being borne on the head, they are carried in a way that forms a complete bushy background, against which the shrouded form of the woman is undistinguishable a few hundred yards away. Instead of keeping a straightforward course, the women seem to be doing an unnecessary amount of erratic wandering about over the road, which, until quite near, gives them the queer appearance of animated clumps of brush dodging about among each other. I ask them whether there is water ahead; they look frightened and hurry along faster, but one brave soul turns partly round and points mutely in the direction I am going. Two miles of good, ridable road now brings me to the spring, which is situated near a two-acre swamp of rank sword-grass and bulrushes six feet high and of almost inpenetrable thickness, which looks decidedly refreshing in its setting of barren, gray hills; and I eat my noon-tide meal of bread and pears to the cheery music of a thousand swamp-frog bands which commence croaking at my approach, and never cease for a moment to twang their tuneful lyre until I depart. The tortuous windings of the chemin de fer finally bring me to a cul-de-sac in the hills, terminating on the summit of a ridge overlooking a broad plain; and a horseman I meet informs me that I am now mid way between Bey Bazaar and Angora. While ascending this ridge I become thoroughly convinced of what has frequently occurred to me between here and Nalikhan - that if the road I am traversing is, as the people keep calling it, a chemin de fer, then the engineer who graded it must have been a youth of tender age, and inexperienced in railway matters, to imagine that trains can ever round his curve or climb his grades. There is something about this broad, artificial highway, and the tremendous amount of labor that has been expended upon it, when compared with the glaring poverty of the country it traverses, together with the wellnigh total absence of wheeled vehicles, that seem to preclude the possibility of its having been made for a wagon-road; and yet, notwithstanding the belief of the natives, it is evident that it can never be the road-bed of a railway. We must inquire about it at Angora.