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