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