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Across Coveted Lands by Arnold Henry Savage Landor

And we rode on to Bayas five farsakhs


Shortly

after midnight we moved out of the Chappar khana, and, barring some slight cultivation in the immediate neighbourhood of the village, we soon entered again upon the flat, sandy desert. We had a lovely full moon over us, which added to the pleasure of travelling, and we rode on to Bayas (five farsakhs), some seventeen or eighteen miles, where we arrived at five in the morning. The altitude of this place was exactly the same as that of Anar, 4,800 feet.

Bayas is a tiny village with a few mulberry trees and a small stream of water. It has a fair caravanserai. We rested the horses for a couple of hours, while I had breakfast, and by 7.30 a.m. we were again in our saddles.

To the south-west and north-east by east we again perceived the familiar high sand deposits, all along the base of the mountain ranges, and they reached up to two-thirds of the height of the mountains, forming a smooth, inclined plane rising very gently from the flat desert on which we were travelling. To the north-east by east the sand-banks rose nearly to the summit of the hill range.

Sadek and the chappar boy pointed out to me a village to the north-east of the track, and informed me that all its inhabitants were robbers and murderers. In fact upon the road, we came across a poor boy crying, and bruised all over. We asked him what was the matter. He pointed to three men in the distance who were running away,

and said they had beaten him and stolen his money, two krans, and two pomegranates. Sure enough, when we galloped to the men and stopped them they did not wait to be accused but handed me at once both fruit and money to be returned to their rightful owner.

These folks had very brutal faces, framed in flowing locks of shaggy hair. They were garbed in long thick coats of white felt, made entirely of one piece, and quite stiff, with sleeves sticking out at the sides, into which the arms were never to be inserted. There were two red and blue small circular ornamentations at the bottom of the coat in front, and one in the centre of the back, as on Japanese kimonos.

We began to see more habitations now, and about one mile north-east of the track we perceived the villages of Esmalawat, Aliabad, and Sher-i-fabad,--the latter quite a large place. We still went on over sand and white salt deposits.

Poor Sadek was so tired and sleepy that he fell off his horse a couple of times. The soil got very stony on getting near Kushkuhyeh (altitude 4,900 feet), where we entered the Chappar khana exactly at noon.

The contractor of the postal service lived at this village, and he was extremely civil. As many as eight horses were in his stable, and he ordered that the best should be given me. He entertained me to tea and took the keenest interest in my rifles. He also possessed one of the familiar discarded British Martini military rifles, specially decorated for the Persian market--a rifle worth at its most a pound sterling, or two, but for which he had paid no less than 100 tomans (about L20). The smugglers of firearms must have made huge profits on the sale of these antiquated weapons, for firearms are among the few articles for which large sums of ready money can be obtained in Persia.

This particular man now took a great fancy to my .256 Mannlicher, and jokingly said he would not let me proceed until I had sold it to him. He produced large sums in solid silver to tempt me, about four times the value of the rifle, and was greatly upset when I assured him that I would not part with the rifle at all.


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