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Across Coveted Lands by Arnold Henry Savage Landor

Illustration Chapparing the Author's Post Horses


all laughed heartily, and parted with repeated salaams--and my luggage intact.

In the moonlight I took the precaution to see them well out of sight on one side of the pass before we began to descend on the other, and then we proceeded down the steep and rocky incline.

We reached Soh (8,000 feet) early in the morning, and went on to the Chappar house at Biddeshk. Here one abandons the region of the Kehriz Kohrud and Kale Karf mountains, west and east of the road respectively, and travels over a flat sandy country devoid of vegetation and water.

Copper and iron are to be found at several places in the mountains between Kashan and Soh, for instance near Gudjar, at Dainum, and at Kohrut.

October is the month when the Backhtiari tribes are somewhat troublesome previous to their return to winter quarters. A great many caravans are attacked and robbed on this road, unless escorted by soldiers. Daring attempts have even been made to seize caravans of silver bullion for the Bank of Persia. Only a few days before I went through, an English gentleman travelling from Isfahan was robbed between Soh and Murchikhar of all his baggage, money, and clothes.

The country lends itself to brigandage. One can see a flat plain for several miles to the north and south, but to the west and east are most intricate mountain masses where

the robber bands find suitable hiding places for themselves and their booty. To the north-west we have flat open country, but to the west from Biddeshk there are as many as three different ranges of mountains. To the east rises the peak Kehriz Natenz. A great many low hill ranges lie between the main backbone of the high and important range extending from north-west to south-east, and the route we follow, and it is curious to notice, not only here but all over the parts of Persia I visited, that the great majority of sand dunes, and of hill and mountain ranges face north or north-east. In other words, they extend either from north-west to south-east, or roughly from west to east; very seldom from north to south.

From Biddeshk two soldiers insisted on escorting my luggage. I was advised to take them, for in default, one cannot claim compensation from the Persian Government should the luggage be stolen. In the case of _bona fide_ European travellers, robbed on the road, the Persian Government is extremely punctual in making good the damage sustained and paying ample compensation.

The method employed by the local Governor, responsible for the safety of travellers on the road, is to inflict heavy fines on all the natives of the district in which the robbery has occurred,--a very simple and apparently effective way, it would seem, of stopping brigandage, but one which, in fact, increases it, because, in order to find the money to pay the fines, the natives are driven to the road, each successive larceny going towards part payment of the previous one.

[Illustration: Chapparing--the Author's Post Horses.]

[Illustration: Persian Escort firing at Brigands.]

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