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Uncle Oliver. I have described to you the general appearance of Persian cities, and shall hereafter describe separately the parts of which they are composed—the palaces, houses, churches, shops and inns. But, in considering the villages, it will be best to say at once, all that is to be said ; as there is nothing about them which it would be worth while to consider separately.
I think upon the whole, that a stranger is not so much disappointed about the villages as about the cities of Persia.
Frank. How strange that villages should be better than cities !
U. O. I am sure I did not say that they were.
Henry. I suppose, Sir, my brother thinks that the villages are better than the cities, after allowing for the difference of size and importance.
F. (looking grateful) Yes, Henry.
U. O. That would not be very strange. But the difference of feeling in this matter is not
because the villages have anything very attractive about them, but because the stranger has not been led to expect such extraordinary things in them as in the cities. He sees that the villages are poor places in every respect; and he is not much disappointed : he still can look forward to the splendour and wealth of the cities; but when he comes to them, and finds that they also are poor places, he is disappointed indeed.
When a village is seen at a distance, its appearance is just the same as that of a city, except in respect of size. It is similarly planted with trees, and like that, offers to the first view a high wall enclosing the orchards and gardens which surround the place. These walls look very well when they are new; but when the village and its wall are new, the trees are, of course, small; and by the time the trees are grown to their full size, the walls and buildings get old and ruinous. When you enter the village, the difference which you find between its streets and those of a town, are that the walls are lower,—that you do not now and then come to the large entrances of public buildings as in the towns, and that you do not meet with welldressed people in the streets.
H. But surely there is a difference also in the houses ?
U. O. Certainly; but the difference does not much appear to a stranger in the streets; because the houses are separated from the street by walls, both in the villages and towns. The difference, therefore, does not seem so strong to a stranger as it does to a person who, though he does not see the houses either in villages or towns, yet knows the great difference there is between them.
F. I understand. In England the cottages in a village look different from the houses in a town. And so it would be in Persia, too, only the walls will not let you see either the cottages in a village, or the houses in a town. So the difference between a village and a town does not seem so great there as it does here.
U. O. Very well explained.
H. I understood your explanation quite as well, Sir.
Jane. And so did I.
U. O. I am glad to hear it; but Frank's explanation is the plainest for all that, and I thank him for it. But now let us see in what sort of cottages the inhabitants of these villages live.