216 FROM GALEHDAR TO BUSHIRE [Chap. VIII
as Gabr-khcznahâ, the `houses of Gabrs ( Zoroastrians )', and probably of some antiquity. Ruined cisterns were said to exist among the fields. A gentle ascent, in places over bare rock, then brought us to the watershed situated on a broad ridge at an elevation of approximately 2,900 feet, and about 2 miles distant from camp.
The descent was easy at first, leading down the open head of a valley where a ruined dwelling known as Mirzabtin was to be seen to the west. Then a very steep track led down over step-like layers of limestone into the narrow winding gorge of Tang-i-bedû. Large stone blocks placed to form a kind of parapet along parts of the narrow track marked its use as an old caravan route. From the point where the bottom of the gorge was gained, about 2 miles beyond the watershed, going between precipitous rock walls on either side was very rough. A small grove of date-palms was passed below a little spring, and in places where bare water-worn rock makes the passage down the narrow flood-bed of the gorge particularly difficult, there were to be seen traces of an old road carried on walls along the foot of the cliffs. At last, after having followed the gorge for close on 4 miles, we emerged on more open ground and from a low ridge, overlooking the date grove of Tawakali and bearing much-decayed remains of roughly built dwellings, gained our first sight of the wide Galehdar valley.
The remaining portion of the march took us past shallow troughs where marshy streamlets feed reed beds and small scattered plantations of date palms. Remains of ruined aqueducts showed where this precious water had been carried, at a time not very distant, to cultivation now wholly abandoned lower down in the main valley. Finally we crossed a wide scrubby plain to the north-east interspersed with grassy patches bearing little flowers, signs of a modest Primavera, and after having covered altogether some 12 miles reached `Abbas Khan's fortified residence at the hamlet of Nauba.
The welcome offered by the young Shaikh was warm, and his wish to make himself useful obviously genuine. But it did not take us long to realize that his ability to give effect to this good intention was greatly limited. His father, `Ali Akbar Khan, who as the chief landowner of the Galehdar tract had exercised recognized local authority, had a year or two before on the passage of troops from Shiraz been removed to Tehran. Such nominal control as `Abbas Khan was entrusted with in his stead had been greatly impaired by the general unrest which the reported rising of `Ali Khan, brother of Saulat-ud-dauleh, the late Tlkhani, or chief, of all the Qashqai tribes, had produced. The valleys to the north and north-east formed part of the regular winter grazing-grounds of Qashqai tribal sections, and as the late ilkhani when in power had acquired a good deal of landed property both in Galehdar and in the adjoining tracts to the