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Across Coveted Lands by Arnold Henry Savage Landor

Fresh horses were obtained at the Chappar Khana


The

Persian post-horse is a most wonderful animal. His endurance and powers of recovery are simply extraordinary. Having been properly fed, and enjoyed the few hours' rest, the animals, notwithstanding their wretched condition and the bad road, went fairly well.

On nearing Kohrut one is agreeably surprised to find among these barren mountains healthy patches of agriculture and beautiful groves of fruit-trees. The fruit is excellent here,--apples, plums, apricots, walnuts, and the Kohrut potatoes are said (by the people of Kohrut) to be the best in the world. The most remarkable thing about these patches of cultivation is that the soil in which they occur has been brought there--the mountain itself being rocky--and the imported earth is supported by means of strong stone walls forming long terraces. This speaks very highly for the industry of the natives, who are extremely hardworking. We go through these delightful groves for nearly one mile, when suddenly we find ourselves in front of Kohrut village, most picturesquely perched on the steep slope of the mountain.

The houses are of an absolutely different type from the characteristically domed Persian hovels one has so far come across. They have several storeys, two or even three--an extremely rare occurrence in Persian habitations. The lower windows are very small, like slits in the wall, but the top windows are large and square, usually with some lattice woodwork

in front of them. The domed roofs have been discarded, owing to the quantity of wood obtainable here, and the roofs are flat and thatched, supported on long projecting beams and rafters. Just before entering the village a great number of ancient graves can be seen dotted on the mountain-side, and along the road. The view of the place, with its beautiful background of weird mountains, and the positions of the houses, the door of one on the level with the roof of the underlying one, against the face of the rock, are most striking.

[Illustration: The Interior of Chappar Khana at Kohrut.]

The inhabitants of this village are quite polite and friendly, and lack the usual aggressiveness so common at all the halting places in Persia.

Fresh horses were obtained at the Chappar Khana, and I proceeded on my journey at once. We still wound our way among mountains going higher and higher, until we got over the Kuh-i-buhlan (the pass). From the highest point a lovely view of the valley over which we had come from the north-west displayed itself in dark brown tints, and to the east we had a mass of barren mountains.

CHAPTER XXVI

Crossing the Pass--Held up by robbers--Amusing courtesy--Brigands to protect from brigands--Parting friends--Soh--Biddeshk--Copper and iron--Robber tribes--An Englishman robbed--A feature of Persian mountains--A military escort--How compensation is paid by the Persian Government--Murchikhar--Robbers and the guards--Ghiez--Distances from Teheran to Isfahan.

It was not till after sunset that we crossed the Pass, and, the horses being tired, my men and I were walking down the incline on the other side to give the animals a rest. It was getting quite dark, and as the chappar boy had warned me that there were brigands about the neighbourhood I walked close to my horse, my revolver being slung to the saddle. The place seemed absolutely deserted, and I was just thinking how still and reposeful the evening seemed, the noise of the horses' hoofs being the only disturbing element amid quiescent nature, when suddenly from behind innocent-looking rocks and boulders leapt up, on both sides of the road, about a dozen well-armed robbers, who attempted to seize the horses. Before they had time to put up their rifles they found themselves covered by my revolver and requested to drop their weapons or I would shoot them. They hastily complied with my request, and instead of ransacking my baggage, as they had evidently designed to do, had to confine themselves to polite remarks.


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