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Across Coveted Lands by Arnold Henry Savage Landor

Answered the boisterous brigand


"You

are very late on the road, sahib?" said one brigand, in a voice of assumed kindness and softness.

"Please put back your revolver. We will not harm you," said suavely and persuasively another, who displayed a most gaudy waistcoat which he evidently did not want perforated.

Sadek was in a great state of excitement, and entreated me not to shoot. "Persian robbers," he assured me, with a logic of his own, "do not kill the master until the servant has been killed, because it is the servant who is in charge of the luggage. . . . . They would not steal anything now, but I must be kind to these fellows."

As is usual with persons accustomed to stalk other persons, I did not fail to notice that, while trying to attract my attention by conversation, my interlocutors were endeavouring to surround us. But I checked them in this, and warned them that I had met many brigands before, and was well acquainted with their ways. I hoped they would not compel me to shoot, which I would most certainly do if they attempted any tricks. They well understood that it was risky to try their luck, so they changed tactics altogether. The conversation that ensued was amusing.

"Sahib," shouted a boisterous robber, very gaily attired, and with cartridges in profusion in his belt, "there are lots of brigands near here and we want to protect you."

"Yes,

I know there are brigands not far from here," I assented.

"We will escort you, for you are our friend, and if we lead you safely out of the mountains, maybe, sahib, you will give us backshish."

I felt certain that I could have no better protection against brigands than the brigands themselves, and preferred to have them under my own supervision rather than give them a chance of attacking us unexpectedly again some miles further on. Anyhow, I resolved to let them come as far as the next pass we had to cross, from which point the country would be more open and a sudden surprise impossible. So I accepted their offer with a politely expressed condition that every man must keep in front of me and not raise his rifle above his waist or I would send a bullet through him.

In the middle of the night we parted on the summit of the pass, and I gave them a good backshish--not so much for the service they had rendered me as for relieving for a few hours the monotony of the journey. They were grateful, and were the most civil brigands I have ever encountered.

While resting on the pass we had an amicable conversation, and I asked them where they got their beautiful clothes and the profusion of gold and silver watch-chains.

"It is not everybody we meet, sahib, that has a formidable revolver like yours," answered the boisterous brigand, with a fit of sarcastic merriment, echoed by all of us.

"Yes," I retorted in the same sarcastic spirit, "if it had not been for the revolver, possibly next time I came along this road I might meet the company dressed up like sahibs, in my clothes!"

I advised them to put up a white flag of truce next time they sprang out from behind rocks with the intention of holding up another Englishman, or surely some day or other there would be an accident.


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