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Across Coveted Lands by Arnold Henry Savage Landor

With vertical quadrangular columns


Affectionate

mothers carefully searched the hair of the heads of their children--to remove therefrom all superfluous animal life,--but to my dismay I discovered that their good-nature went so far as not to destroy the captured brutes, which were merely picked up most gently, so as not to injure them, and flung down from the castle-village wall, on the top of which this operation took place. As there were other people sitting quite unconcerned down below, no doubt this provided a good deal of perpetual occupation to the women of the castle, and the parasites were provided with a constant change of abode.

Probably what astonished me most was to see a young damsel climb up a tall tree in the best monkey fashion, with successively superposed arms and legs stiff and straight, not round the tree, mind you, and using her toes for the purpose with almost equal ease as her fingers.

The foot-gear of the men was interesting. They wore wooden-soled clogs, held fast to the foot by a string between the big toe and the next, and another band half way across the foot. Some of the men, however, wore common shoes with wooden soles.

CHAPTER III

An abandoned caravanserai--Fantastic hill tops--No water--A most impressive mountain--Sediments of salt--A dry river bed--Curious imprints in the rock--A row--Intense heat--Accident

to our supply of eggs--The end of a meeting--Misleading maps--Haoz Panch--The camel-man's bread--Lawah.

Again we left camp shortly before midnight, and ascended continually between mountains until we reached a pass 7,250 ft. above the sea, after which we came upon the abandoned caravanserai of Abid (pronounced Obit). On descending, the way was between high vertical rocks, and then we found ourselves among hills of most peculiar formation. The sun was about to rise, and the fantastic hill-tops, in some places not unlike sharp teeth of a gigantic saw, in others recalled Stonehenge and the pillar-like remains of temples of Druids. In this case they were, of course, entirely of natural formation. Although there was no water in the valley into which we had descended, we camped here owing to the camels being very tired, and I took the opportunity of climbing to a neighbouring hill (6,300 ft.) in order to obtain a panoramic view of the surrounding country.

To the South-East, whence we had come, were low and comparatively well-rounded mountains with two narrow valleys separated by a flat-topped, tortuous hill range. To the north-east of my camp was a high and most impressive mountain, the upper portion of which appeared at first almost of a basaltic formation, with vertical quadrangular columns, while the lower portion of the mountain, evidently accumulated at a later period, and slanting at an angle of 45 deg., displayed distinct strata of light brown, a deep band of grey, then dark brown, light brown, a thin layer of grey, and then a gradation of beautiful warm burnt sienna colour, getting richer and richer in tone towards the base. Here at the bottom, all round the mountain, and in appearance not unlike the waves of a choppy sea in shallow water, rose hundreds of broken-up, pointed hillocks, the point of each hillock being invariably turned in a direction away from the mountain, and these were formed not of sand, but by a much broken-up stratum of black, burnt slate, at an angle of 20 deg. in relation to an imaginary horizontal plane.

[Illustration: Author's Caravan and Others Halting in the Desert.]


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