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Across Coveted Lands by Arnold Henry Savage Landor

We came to another Chappar khana


Sadek,

five feet two in height, and the Chappar boy, six feet two, came to words and soon after to most sonorous blows. To add to our comfort, the Chappar boy, who got the worst of the scrimmage, ran away, and it was only at sunrise that we perceived him again a long way off following us, not daring to get too near. Eventually, by dint of sending him peaceful messages by a caravan man who passed us, Sadek induced him to return, and still struggling in the sand of the desolate country all round us, and our horses sinking quite deep into it, we managed to drag men, horses, and loads into Kafter-han (Kebuter-han)--altitude 5,680 feet--at 8.30 in the morning, where we were glad to get relays of fresh steeds. We had gone about twenty-eight miles from the last station.

A few mud huts, an ice store-house, a flour mill, a high building, said to have been an arsenal, the usual caravanserai, and a dingy Chappar khana were all, quite all one could rest one's eye upon at Kafter-han. There was some cultivation, but nothing very luxuriant. The few inhabitants were quite interested in the sudden appearance of a _ferenghi_ (a foreigner). The women, who were not veiled here, were quite good-looking, one girl particularly, whose photograph I snatched before she had time to run away to hide herself--the usual effect of a camera on Persian women, quite the reverse to its effects on the European fair sex.

We left almost directly on better

animals, and proceeded south-east having lofty rugged hills to the north-east, east, and south of us, with the usual high sand accumulations upon their sides. To the south-east we could just discern the distant mountains near Kerman. The track itself, on the sandy embankment at the foot of the hillside to the south-west, is rather high up and tortuous, owing to a very long salt marsh which fills the lower portion of the valley during the rainy weather and makes progress in a straight line impossible. But now, owing to the absolute absence of rain for months and months, the marsh was perfectly dry and formed a flat white plastered stretch of clay, sand and salt, as smooth as a billiard-table, and not unlike an immense floor prepared for tennis-courts. The dried salt mud was extremely hard, our horses' hoofs leaving scarcely a mark on it. I reckoned the breadth of this flat, white expanse at one and a half miles, and its length a little over eleven miles. Two high peaks stood in front of us to the south-east, the Kuh Djupahr, forming part of a long range extending in a south-east direction.

At a distance of four farsakhs (about thirteen miles), and directly on the other side of the dried-up salt stretch, we came to another Chappar khana, at the village of Robat. There were a good many women about in front of the huge caravanserai, and they looked very ridiculous in the tiny short skirts like those of ballet girls, and not particularly clean, over tight trousers quite adhering to the legs.


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