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Across Coveted Lands by Arnold Henry Savage Landor

So the Yezd horses had been taken on


etiquette is observed between Governors of provinces and their subordinates, and an encroachment on one's neighbour's territory would be considered a most outrageous breach of good manners and respective rights.

Still travelling quite fast across sand, and with no brigands in sight, we went on, pleasantly entertained by the astounding yarns of the two remaining soldiers. We were told how, twenty years ago, a foreign doctor--nationality unknown--being attacked by a band of thirty robbers, produced a small bottle of foreign medicine--presumably a most highly concentrated essence of chloroform--from his waistcoat pocket and, having removed the cork, the thirty brigands immediately fell on all sides in a deep sleep. The doctor and his party then continued their journey quietly, and returned several days later with a number of soldiers, who had no trouble in despatching the robbers from a temporary into an eternal sleep, without their waking up at all!

On being asked how it was that the doctor himself remained awake when such a powerful narcotic was administered, the narrator did not lose his presence of mind nor his absence of conscience, and said the doctor had, during the operation, held his nose tight with his two fingers. The doctor had since been offered thousands of tomans for the precious bottle, but would not part with it.

The soldiers told us a great many more stories

of this type, and they recounted them with such an _aplomb_ and seriousness that they nearly made one fall off one's saddle with laughter. Every now and then they insisted on firing off their rifles, which I requested them to do some distance away from my horses. There were no mishaps.

At Sar-i-Yezd I had not been able to obtain fresh horses, so the Yezd horses had been taken on, with an additional donkey. They had gone splendidly, and we arrived at Zen-u-din shortly after ten o'clock at night.

Solitary, in the middle of the desert, and by the side of a salt water well, stands Zen-u-din (Alt. 5,170 feet). There is a chappar station, and a tumbling-down, circular caravanserai with massively built watch-towers. These appeared much battered as if from the result of repeated attacks.

We left our soldier protectors behind here, and two more military persons, in rags and with obsolete guns, insisted on accompanying us, but as they were on foot and would have delayed us considerably I paid them off, a hundred yards from Zen-u-din, and sent them back.

There are mountains extending from the north-east to the south-east, the Serde Kuh range, and to the south-east they are quite close to the track and show low passes a mile or so apart by which the range could easily be crossed. To the west also we have high hills, some three or four miles apart from the mountains to the north-east, and to the north an open desert as far as Yezd. We notice here again the curious accumulations of sand high up on the south mountain side, and also to the south-west of the mountain range east of us.

[Illustration: Typical Caravanserai and Mud Fort in the Desert between Yezd and Kerman.]

[Illustration: A Trade Caravanserai, Kerman.]

At ten in the morning, after a dreary ride through desolate country, we reached the small village of Kermanshah (5,300 feet), where a post station and caravanserai were to be found, a few trees and, above all, some good drinking water. From Zen-u-din to Kermanshah, a distance of sixteen miles (five farsakhs), we had seen only one solitary tree to the south-west of the track.

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