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Across Coveted Lands by Arnold Henry Savage Landor

And thus his English vocabulary was very much curtailed


I left Shemsh two hours later, at 4.30, and we travelled over slightly undulating country on sandy ground with occasional tracts of stones and gravel. If possible, this part was even more desolate than the scenery we had found before reaching here, and not a vestige of vegetation or animal life could be detected anywhere. When night descended upon us we had glorious moonlight to brighten our way, and we marched on gaily--this time without the nuisance of an escort--until we arrived at Anar at 9.30 p.m.--seven farsakhs (about 22 miles) from Shemsh.

From what one could see during our short stay in the night there appeared to be a large village, mostly in ruins, with a few trees and a mud fort. We had gradually descended here to 4,800 feet. The water was quite good. We only allowed ourselves three hours to have our dinner and sleep, and I ordered the horses to be ready shortly after midnight.

And here, whatever other faults they may have, a word of commendation must be put in for the endurance of Persian servants. It is all very well for one's self to do with little sleep, but servants who will go days and days without any at all, and without a word of complaint or sign of collapse, are retainers not easily found and not to be despised. Certainly, one seldom obtains such qualities in European servants. After doing fifty or sixty miles on the saddle we would get off, and I rested awhile, writing up my notes or,

if at night, changing plates in my cameras, but Sadek never had any rest at all. No sooner had we jumped off our horses than he had to undo the saddles and unpack the baggage and kill fowls and cook my meals, which all took him some little time; then he had to wash or clean up everything and repack, and run about the villages to purchase provisions, and all this kept him well employed until the hour of departure; so that, even when I could put in a couple of hours' sleep of a night, he never had time to sleep at all. Sleeping on the saddle, of course, was usual when we travelled by caravan, but was impossible when chapparing. So that he had to go several days at a time without a moment's wink.

The remarkable facility with which, under these trying circumstances, he got most excellent meals ready at all hours of the day or night and in the most outlandish places, and the magic way in which he could produce fuel and make a fire out of the most unlikely materials, was really extraordinary. True, he took himself and his work most seriously and his pride lay principally in having no reproach about the cooking.

He had a smattering of English that was very quaint. Everything above ground he called "upstairs"; anything on the ground or below was "downstairs." Thus, to mount and dismount a horse was laconically expressed "horse upstairs," "horse downstairs." Similarly, to lie down was "downstairs," to get up "upstairs." Anything involving violent motion was "shoot," by which single word to fall, to kick, to bite, to drop, to jump, to throw away, were defined. He possessed a good vocabulary of swear words--which he had learnt from sailors at Bushire--and these served him well when anything went wrong; but I forbade him to use them in my presence as I wished to have the monopoly myself, and thus his English vocabulary was very much curtailed. The remainder of his English conversation applied entirely to cooking chickens.


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