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are the means of rendering intermediate agents needful. The very ransom of captives taken in chappows, requires their services : even the traffic which arises between us, in spite of mutual enmity, must be carried on by these means; for strange as it may appear to you, these very *Toorkomans who watch to take us captive, are perfectly disposed to deal with us as merchants, fairly and honestly, and they readily pay for all the articles which they require from us with the produce of these aouls, or camps in the desert. This Solymaun Yoorkeh is one of these privileged agents among us, as your servant is among the tribes to which he belongs; such is the history of our friendship.”
“So, one good turn deserves another, and receives it, no doubt,” observed I; “ and this same Toorkoman broker, or merchant, I presume, when not engaged in these more peaceful callings, takes his turn as a robber, and chappows a village, or plunders a caravan, to keep his hand in ?”
“Truly, Sir,” replied the old man, “Solymaun Yoorkeh is not the man to be idle, and no doubt would rather be employed in the way you mention, than let his horse grow fat and himself lazy, for want of work. Many a chappow and plundering match has he had a share in, and even the cattle of this very village, driven off by his own hand, with the rest of his comrades, has he brought in a week afterwards to sell us again, along with other plunder, or to exchange with us for some
prisoner of his aoul. But there are rules known and acknowledged among us, which neither he nor any other dulail (broker) dare infringe, on pain not only of forfeiting the advantages he enjoys from the trade, but of losing his life if taken. This is well known to Solymaun, who shapes his conduct accordingly. Beside, he is not a bad fellow at bottom ;, he has a conscience; and, although a Toorkoman, it must be allowed he possesses some goodness of heart.”
“ Indeed!” said I; “ that does seem strange; much ill have I heard of these Toorkomans, but never, before this, any good, and methinks I would fain know more of so rare a character. You have fairly interested me in the man, and if you remember any anecdote creditable to him, I shall be much obliged by your relating it.”
“ I would humbly represent, then, for your service, Sir, that I could tell much good of Solymaun Yoorkeh ; but not to be over tedious, I will, if it please you, relate a single trait of his honesty and generosity, which will not occupy much time.”
My friend the Reish Saffeed, after this proemium, was about to seat himself on the ground before me, but desirous to encourage a communicativeness which promised some amusement, I insisted upon his occupying an edge of my own carpet, gave him a few whiffs out of my own calloon, and having thus established a more comfortable and familiar footing between us, I intimated my desire for the promised story, which the old man commenced as follows:--
. “ The village of Sultaunabad, situated behind the Great Jugghetaée mountain, which you may see yonder, has, from its position, been at all times much exposed to the attacks of marauding Toorkoman parties; and although it does maintain with these enemies a degree of the same sort of understanding as that which I have described to exist between ourselves and them, the inhabitants have, like ourselves, found, that a good lookout and high walls have at all times been a better protection for their lives and property, than any reliance on the good faith of these slippery dwellers of the desert. Even in spite of all such precautions, there are few families who have not lost some of their members by the sudden attacks of these robbers, whose blows, like the course of the Simoom, are rapid, inevitable, and fatal.
“ Notwithstanding these aggressions, which were at all times stoutly resisted, and often turned with effect upon the assailants, there was not wanting a degree of kindly intercourse between individuals of these villages and their desert foes; and among the rest, this Solymaun Yoorkeh had formed a more than ordinary friendship with one Noor Allee, a young man, son of a principal inhabitant of the village. It happened on a certain occasion, while Solymaun, engaged in some trading negociation, was actually residing at Sultaunabad, and in the house of Noor Allee's father, that a chappowing party of the same tribe, but from a different aoul, on their return in ill-humour from some expedition where they had met with more loss than plunder, by way of indemnifying themselves for their disappointment, drove away some of the cattle belonging to the village, together with two of the people who were watching them. This was a clear infraction of the acknowledged though tacit understanding subsisting between the villagers and neighbouring tribes, which implied a suspension of all hostilities during such negociations; and the aggrieved party, bitterly enraged at the outrage, swore vengeance against Solymaun, though he was innocent of all part in it. In the first burst of their fury, they threatened him with death, and swore at all events he should not be delivered up without heavy ransom. But the young Noor Allee stood forward manfully in his friend's behalf,- vowed that not one of them should lay a finger upon the guest of his father, nor should subject him, innocent as he was, to either hurt or inconvenience, for the fault of others. Not content with this, mistrusting the evil intentions of his fellow-villagers, he contrived to let down his guest from the walls, and supply him with the means of escape, before the next morning, incurring no small risk himself by a step so bold, and so much at variance with the intentions of his kindred and friends.
“But it was a benefit of which Solymaun was neither insensible nor forgetful. He swore by the grave of his father and by his own soul, that some day or other, requite it he would; and before two years had passed, an opportunity of so doing presented itself.
“ There is a village named Iulana, about five fursungs to the west of Sultaunabad, but divided from it by a branch of the same salt desert, which you, Aga, crossed last night. Between these two villages there subsists a small trade in corn and straw, and other articles of consumption; and, from similarity of position, being both situated in a desert, far from other human abodes, a close connexion, cemented by ties of intermarriage, has constantly been maintained between the inhabitants.
“ In the progress of this intercourse, it happened that a niutual attachment took place between Noor Allee and a young maiden named Neilah, the daughter of an old man in Iulana, and as the parties were suitable in age and condition, no objections were made by the parents on either side ; so that the young people were duly and regularly betrothed to each other. Their happiness would now have been complete, and the time intervening between the betrothment and the marriage would have passed as delightfully as such periods generally do with young and fond lovers, had it not been for the difficulty attending on their frequent meetings. But it happened at this very time, that the Toorkomans were more than usually active in planning and executing plundering expeditions ; and not only the tract of salt desert which separated the villages, but the rocky hills on either side, swarmed with fierce bands of these robbers ; so that the chances of being captured and carried off in crossing this tract were greater than those of