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almost imperceptible gradients and blackbirds, and above, the to the summit of the range. great shoulder of the mountain. There is hardly a hill to be It was hard to believe that we seen up which a horseman could were still at war, and only a not ride, while all is bare open week or two before had been moorland.
roasting in the July heat of On the south-west side of the plains of Iraq. Even the the range, however, the hills birds conspired in producing drop steeply in great rocky the illusion of home. For here cliffs to the bottom of deep you will hardly see
a bird valleys. At the bottom, in- that you would be surprised stead of a bleak moorland, you to meet beside a Scottish or a drop into a land of fatness, of Devonshire stream. fruit - pomegranates, peaches, The road lay for some miles nectarines, and beautiful grapes. down this wonderful valley, Never have I seen fruit growing in places 80 overgrown with in such luxuriance. A penny the low boughs of the fruitis sufficient to buy a great trees that there was hardly tray of lovely blushing peaches, room for a horseman to pass. dozens of them, all fat and ripe Presently it turned the corner and juicy, delicious at the end of a ridge, and we found ourof a long and thirsty march. selves in the open valley of the Another twopence will provide Kara Su. At first, but for cream and honey, and what the brilliant sunshine and the better food can one want than bareness of the distant hills, peaches shredded with honey we might have been in Engin a plate of cream. Most things land-fields of ripening corn, in the East are disappointing. meadows of lush riverside hay, One hears great tales, but and in the middle of the valley reality never approaches them. the Kara Su itself, clear, ripAll up the road we had heard pling, and swift, the very model of the beauty of Persian Kurdi- of an English trout-stream. stan and of its fruit. For once Only when we crossed the we were not disappointed, for quaint old bridge and found, reality surpassed anything in the midst of all this plenty, which we could possibly have a woman newly dead from imagined
hunger, did we realise that we I do not think any of us will were still in Persia. ever forget our first halt after Sennah itself lies up a side descending the pass. We lay valley some three miles from for an hour or more and rested the river. It is a curious town, on a grassy bank beside a a wonderful mixture of the running stream, all around filthy hovels of the poor and us deep green boughs, laden the palaces of the rich. Here with red and golden fruit ripe you will see women and old for the plucking, the cooing of men dying of hunger at the doves, the song of thrushes gates of the rich man's man.
sion. Within is all the luxury together on his doorstep. Not of the garden of the thousand so the rich Persian. He is nights; without is squalor and made of sterner stuff, and no filth undescribable.
amount of human suffering Never shall we forget the will make him forgo one penny scenes which greeted us On
of his profits. our first arrival. Most of the Obviously the first thing to way up to Persia we had do was to cope with the famine marched through a country situation. Not only from the stricken with famine. We had humanitarian point of view, seen children like skeletons, and that, God knows, was urtoo weak to move, lying beside gent enough,-but for purely the road, while their parents military reasons. We expected begged for a morsel of bread. in the near future a considerable
Thank God we are free from influx of troops. These had to that,” we had said as we sur- be fed, and at the same time veyed this fertile and prosper- kept in health. Neither of these ous-looking land. And here would be possible while the we now were in Sennah, with town was in such a state. luxuriant crops all round, while Fortunately a very enerthe poor died at the rate of getic Political Officer had joined several hundred a day from the force. He soon had men sheer starvation, and died sepa- on to ferret out stocks of grain rated only by a few feet in the town, and to discover of stone wall from granaries their owners. A short visit stocked to overflowing. Men was paid to each of these, and and women were actually being the matter soon righted itself. eaten by dogs in the streets, The most important of these all in order that a few rich grain - hoarders said, God men might treble their capital knows I love the poor. I would by a corner in wheat. And sell my grain below the market that is how they tried to ex- rate for their benefit if I could cuse themselves when we dis- only bring it into the town covered the situation and sought through the tribes." Well, we to put things right. The Ameri- happened by that time to know cans, one of the most highly that this particular gentleman civilised nations in the world, was actually subsidising certain made vast sums in corners. sections of the tribes to keep Why should not they? They the roads unsafe, and so prehad, however, improved on vent importations until his last American business methods. year's stocks had been sold at For even the German-Ameri- a vast profit. Fortunately, he can-Jew has certain human added, “I am a wretched man feelings. | Even
he would with no influence, and if any weaken in his blood-and-iron contractor would buy my grain methods if he daily found one on the spot at a cheap rate I or two famine corpses huddled would sell it to him, but no
one will buy it for fear of the bribery or some underhand tribes on the road,” well know- method he believes. What he ing that his arrangement with is told in good faith he will not the tribes was quite sufficient believe. As soon as one realises to keep any contractors away. this fact, he becomes a much “Well,” we said, we have easier person to deal with. the British Government behind Soon we had two or three us. You sell it to the British official bakeries running in the Government at the price you town supplying bread at cheap name, and we will see that it rates to the genuine poor. It comes into the town, tribes or shows the wonderful hypocrisy no tribes, This line of action, of the Persian that the most coupled with a few stern but prominent supporters of those probably quite illegal threats, bakeries were now the same soon put matters right. We landowners who previously had only once had to make an been in the wheat ring and had actual import of grain, and been coining thousands out of that quite a small one, and the starvation
the starvation of the poor. yet a month or two later, even They knew it, and they knew when we were feeding over a that we knew it, yet they were thousand troops on the place, neither ashamed nor abashed. the price of grain was some Although bread was 70 per cent lower than when available at reasonable rates, we arrived. If the price showed we found that the poor had signs of rising, we had only no money and no means of to send a telegram over the earning money to pay for it, Persian telegraph-line to the even at the low rates at which Supply people at Hamadan it was obtainable. We had asking them to prepare a con- therefore to start paid relief voy for
and down came the works of various kinds. There price again. I suppose the was, however, a great deal of mere fact that the contents of urgent work in connection with our telegrams were obtained the improvement of communifrom the Persian operators by cations and the preparation of bribery was sufficient to make winter billets for the troops, them appear genuine. It was
It was all of which were genuine milinot realised that all important tary necessities. On to these communications, including or- we turned large numbers of ders countermanding these con- starving women, and we paid voys, were sent out by wireless, them in good hard cash, as or, for that matter, that the well as giving them permits to Supply people in Hamadan buy bread from our bakeries. were in such difficulties them- At one time we had nearly selves that they could not have two thousand of these poor spared us one ounce of grain. creatures at work, and a very That is the Persian all over. wretched sight they were to Such information as he gets by begin with.
Personnel to supervise this put on a bit more flesh since Es was, of course, a great diffi- one was last round. And yet
culty, as to be of any value the good old thing resented it » it could not be entrusted to not a bit from Monsieur Ridge13 Persian officials. At last the way, whom they all adored. I ä right man for the job was dis- asked him how he managed to 11 covered, one Private Ridge- get them all to look as clean I way, of the 14th Hussars. Mon- as they did, for cleanliness is
sieur Ridgeway, as all the local not normally one of the virtues 6 people called him, was one of of the Persian poor. “Oh,” 1 the most singular products of he said, “I learned them to
the British Army. He had wash in the river, and a rare knocked about the world a difficult job it was too. The good deal during his service, first time I took them down to had acquired an unusual fluency the stream not one of them
in soldier French and soldier would touch water, so I jumps EL | Hindustani, and was now learn- in myself and shows them how.
ing soldier Persian very rapidly. It weren't long before they folHe was a tiny man, a thorough lowed me, and now we all does Cockney, with the true Cockney it first thing every morning.” mental agility, while with it I always meant to attend one all he obviously had strongly of Ridgeway's bathing parades, developed paternal instincts, but somehow I could never for certainly he was a father to summon up the necessary nerve. these poor wretches. In a few Nothing like that ever troubled days there was nothing he did Ridgeway, however, and I am not know about his thousand sure he owed a great deal of odd Amazons. He could tell his influence among them to you all about their morals— his complete lack of anything which were keeping straight, approaching self-consciousness. which were likely to get into The great difficulty with these
trouble, and which were so
"a women, as I think it always is bit flighty, but with no real in famine time, was to prevent harm in them. He knew young girls selling themselves which were beginning to re- or being sold to the rich men
spond to better feeding and of the town. I am sure Ridge1
put on a bit of flesh, and he way in his quiet way prevented took it almost as a personal a good deal of this. I know insult if any dared not to look that on more than one occasion better after she had been for a formal complaint was lodged a few days under his charge. by prominent townsmen of their It was really embarrassing at having received, to say the an inspection of the labour least of it, scant courtesy at
, corps to be asked to poke a Ridgeway's hands. He would respectable-looking old lady in come smelling round these here the ribs, and to be asked if girls of mine," was his reply one did not think that she had when a protesting son of a rich
banker in the town was dis- jects over and above what he playing some useful bruises has to send to Teheran in the said to have been received at form of revenue. GovernorRidgeway's hands. Well, I ships are rated according to suppose he has got his little what a reasonably active and bit of a shop now, somewhere unscrupulous man
unscrupulous man can make within the sound of Bow Bells. out of the people during the I am sure he will not enjoy his two three years he is evening cigarette any the worse likely to hold the appointfor the way he looked after ment. Kurdistan, I believe, is and cared for these poor girls. reckoned as a second-grade For he was one of nature's province, and the governorgentlemen if ever there was one. ship is said to be worth some
Sennah is one of the great thing like £250,000 sterling centres of the carpet-making clear profit. Not only does industry in Persia, and before this amount come straight out long we managed, by advances of the pockets of the inhabiof
money and some gentle tants in addition to revenue pushing, to get this going again sent to Teheran, but an enorto a certain extent, and so mous retinue and quite a useful employment for them was standing army are also kept up, gradually obtained as our mili- neither of which costs the govtary works were completed. ernor or the Central GovernThe price of bread, too, soon ment a single penny. Practibegan to approach normal, and cally the whole of this comes it actually went on falling all out of the pockets of the the time we were there in spite poorer classes, the small farmers, of a large influx of troops. and the small traders, for obvi
One of the chief difficulties ously it would be bad policy with which we had to contend to alienate the sympathies of in dealing with the local situa- the more wealthy and more tion was the fact that there powerful leaders who might
no actual governor in either be able to offer direct Sennah, although two were
were opposition locally, or be rich said to be on the way there. enough to obtain the ear of The post of governor of a the higher authorities in Teheprovince such as Kurdistan is ran. The burden thus placed usually much sought after. The on the local populace and the governor of a Persian province corruption which accompanies does not, I believe, draw any it are almost unbelievable, unpay, but he is given certain less one has previous experience troops by the Central Govern- of government of Orientals by ment, and these he has to sup- Orientals.
, port out of his own pocket. While we were in Sennah a His stipend depends entirely governor had actually been on how much he can wring appointed, and had come as out of his unfortunate sub- far as Kermanshah. Here he