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Across Coveted Lands by Arnold Henry Savage Landor

The British Consul General in Isfahan


One

or two domed reservoirs of rain-water are found by the road-side, but the water is very bad.

The soldiers, laden with cartridges, ran along by the side of my horses and pretended to keep a sharp look-out for robbers. Every now and then they got much excited, loaded their rifles, and fired away shot after shot at phantom brigands, whom, they said, they perceived peeping above sand hills a long way off.

At Murchikhar there is nothing to be seen. The post-horses were very good here and I was able to go through this uninteresting part of the road at a good speed of from six to seven miles an hour. To the west the mountains were getting quite close, and, in fact, we had hills all round except to the south-east. Murchikhar is at a fairly high altitude, 5,600 ft.

One still heard much about brigands. Soldiers, armed to the teeth, insisted on accompanying my luggage. This, of course, involved endless backshish, but had to be put up with, as it is one of the perquisites of the guards stationed at the various stages. I have heard it stated that if one does not require their services it is often these protectors themselves who turn into robbers. There is a guard-house on the road, and the two soldiers stationed there told us that a large band of thirty robbers had visited them during the early hours of the morning, and had stolen from them all their provisions, money and tobacco!

style="text-align: justify;">We were not troubled in any way, and, with the exception of some suspicious horsemen a long way off making for the mountains, we hardly met a soul on the road.

A curious accident happened to one of my luggage horses. For some reason of his own he bolted, and galloped to the top of one of the _kanat_ cones, when getting frightened at the deep hole before him he jumped it. His fore-legs having given way on the steep incline on the other side, he fell on his head and turned a complete somersault, landing flat on his back, where, owing to the packs, he remained with his legs up in the air until we came to his aid and freed him of the loads.

On nearing Ghiez the track is over undulating country, but after that the road to Isfahan is good and flat, but very sandy and dusty. I got to Ghiez in the evening but proceeded at once to Isfahan. We galloped on the twelve miles, and in less than two hours I was most hospitably received in the house of Mr. Preece, the British Consul-General in Isfahan.

The distances from Teheran are as follows:--

From Teheran to Kum 24 farsakhs 96 miles. " Kum to Kashan 17 " 68 " " Kashan to Kohrut 7 " 28 " " Kohrut to Biddeshk 6 " 24 " " Biddeshk to Murchikhar 6 " 24 " " Murchikhar to Ghiez 6 " 24 " " Ghiez to Isfahan 3 " 12 " -- -- Total 69 farsakhs or 276 miles.

The time occupied in covering the whole distance, including halts and delays, was somewhat less than four days.


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