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Across Coveted Lands by Arnold Henry Savage Landor

Four farsakhs beyond Sar i Yezd


The "farsakh"--the most elastic measure ever invented--decreases here to just above three miles, whereas further north it averaged four miles.

In a strong wind we rode on, first on sand, then on gravelly soil, ever through dreary, desolate country. The villages, Taghiabad, Zehnawat, etc., get smaller and poorer and further apart, and some eight farsakhs from Yezd we eventually reach the small town of Sar-i-Yezd. From Namadawat the country was an absolutely flat gravel plain with no water.

[Illustration: Interior of Old Caravanserai with Central Water Tank.]

At Sar-i-Yezd (altitude 4,980 feet) we were detained some time. The highest official in the place had received orders from the Governor of Yezd not to let me proceed without a strong guard to accompany me. This was rather a nuisance than otherwise, for, although the country between Sar-i-Yezd and Anar was reported infested by robbers, we really should have been able to hold our own against them even without the rabble that was sent to accompany us.

After a delay of some hours five soldiers--as picturesque as they would have been useless in case of danger--put in an appearance. They had old long muzzle loaders, which must have been more dangerous to the person firing them than to the ones fired at, and they wore elaborate leather belts with two ample pouches for lead bullets, two gunpowder flasks made of desiccated sheep testicles, a leather bag for small shot, and a large iron ring with small clips for caps. Horses could not be procured for these men, so they had to follow my baggage on foot, which caused a further delay.

We left shortly before sunset as I intended marching the whole night. There was a great discussion among these soldiers about crossing over into Kerman territory, four farsakhs beyond Sar-i-Yezd, and just at the point where the robbers are supposed to attack caravans the guard, whether through fear or otherwise, declined to come on. Sadek remonstrated most bitterly, but three of them left us, while two said they had been entrusted with orders to see me and my luggage safely to the place where another guard could be obtained and would continue. I tried to persuade them to go back too, but they would not.

It appears that between Sar-i-Yezd and Zen-u-din there is an expanse of waste land near the boundary of the Yezd, Kerman and Farsistan (Shiraz) provinces, the possession of which is declared by the Governors of all these provinces not to belong to them, the boundary having never been properly defined. So robbers can carry on their evil deeds with comparative immunity, as they do not come under the jurisdiction of any of the three Governors in question. Moreover, if chased by Yezd soldiers, they escape into Shiraz or Kerman territory, and if pursued by Kerman troops they escape into either of the neighbouring provinces, while the Governor of Shiraz, being the furthest and least interested in that distant corner of his province, really never knows and probably does not care to learn what takes place in so remote and barren a spot. In any case he will not be held responsible for anything happening there. It would certainly involve him in too great expense and difficulty to send soldiers to live so far into the desert, and unless in great force they could be of little assistance to caravans; so that, as things stand, robber bands have it all their own way.


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