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Across Coveted Lands by Arnold Henry Savage Landor

It seemed heavenly to be ambling along at a fairly good pace


The

water at Passangun was extremely bad. There were two tanks of rain water drained from the hillside along a dirty channel filled with animal refuse. The wells were below the ground level, and were walled and domed over to prevent too rapid an evaporation by the sun's rays. The water was pestilential. It had a nasty green look about it, and patches of putrid matter decomposing visibly on its surface. The stench from it when stirred was sickening. Yet the natives drank it and found it all right! There is no accounting for people's taste, not even in Persia.

At last, from this point, the positive torture of driving in carriages was over, and _Chappar_ horses were to be obtained. The saddles were got ready, and with five horses we made a start that same evening for Sin Sin. After the wretched bumping and thumping and being thrown about in the wheeled conveyance on the badly-kept road, it seemed heavenly to be ambling along at a fairly good pace, even on these poor, half-starved animals, which could not in all honesty be considered to afford perfect riding. Indeed, if there ever was a society for the prevention of cruelty to animals, it should have begun its work along the Persian postal roads. The poor brutes--one can hardly call them horses--are bony and starved, with sore backs, chests and legs, with a bleeding tongue almost cut in two and pitifully swollen by cruelly-shaped bits, and endowed with stinking digestive organs and other nauseous odours

of uncared-for sores heated by the friction of never-removed, clumsy, heavy pads under the saddles. It requires a pretty strong stomach, I can tell you, to ride them at all. Yet the poor devils canter along, when they do not amble, and occasionally gallop clumsily on their unsteady, skeleton-like legs. So that, notwithstanding everything, one generally manages to go at the rate of six or seven miles an hour.

If the horses at the various post-stations have just returned from conveying the post-bags, an extra sorry time is in store for the traveller. The poor animals are then so tired that they occasionally collapse on the road. I invariably used all the kindness I could to these wretches, but it was necessary for me to get on, as I intended to proceed in the greatest haste over the better known parts of Persia.

It is important to see the horses fed before starting from all the post-houses, but on many occasions no food whatever could be procured for them, when, of course, they had to go without it.

Changing horses about every 20 to 28 miles, and being on the saddle from fourteen to twenty hours out of the twenty-four, I was able to cover long distances, and kept up an average of from 80 to 120 miles daily. One can, of course, cover much greater distances than these in one day, if one is fortunate enough to get good and fresh horses at the various stations, and if one does not have to keep it up for a long period of time as I had to do.

From Sin Sin we go due south along a flat trail of salt and mud. We have a barrier of mountains to the south-west and higher mountains to the south. To the south-east also a low ridge with another higher behind it. To the north we leave behind low hills.


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