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Across Coveted Lands by Arnold Henry Savage Landor

When crossing the broiling plains of Arabistan


Twenty

miles from Lawah, mud-hills covering underlying rock were reached, and closed us in on either side. Two miles further, when it got too hot to proceed--thermometer 148 deg. in the sun and not a thread of shade--we halted on a white salt deposit of considerable extent. There was no water and no fuel, and the heat was well-nigh unbearable in the middle of the day. It was useless to pitch my tent, for in such stifling heat it is not possible to remain under it, nor could one breathe at all if one tried to get a little shade by screening one's self against a wall of loads which impeded the air moving.

My camel men showed me a device which by the ignorant may be ridiculed, but to the sensible is a great blessing when exposed to abnormally high temperatures. The only way to protect one's self against the broiling air is to cover one's self, head and all, leaving space to breathe, with one or two thick blankets of wool or thick felt, of a white or light colour preferably, white being a non-absorbent of the hot sun's rays. The thickness of the cloth keeps the body at an enveloping temperature slightly above the temperature of the body itself (even when with high fever seldom more than 104 deg.), and therefore a cooler temperature than outside the blankets, when it is frequently 148 deg. sometimes 150 deg. and even more. By contrast this seems quite cool. It is, in other words, a similar process to that used by us in summer to maintain ice from melting.

style="text-align: justify;">In Morocco, Algeria, Egypt, Arabia, the people who are much exposed to the rays of the hot sun in deserts always wear extremely thick woollen clothing, or bernouses; and in Persia the camel men of the desert, as we have seen, possess thick white felt coats in which they wrap themselves, head and all, during the hot hours of the day. The Italians, too, seem to have been fully aware of this, for in Naples and Southern Italy they have an ancient proverb in the Neapolitan dialect:--_Quel che para lo freddo para lo caldo_--"What is protection against cold is protection against heat."

I know one Englishman in Southern Persia who, when crossing the broiling plains of Arabistan, wears a thick overcoat and plenty of woollen underwear--a method which he learnt from the nomad tribes of Arabistan--but he is generally laughed at by his countrymen who do not know any better. This cooling device, naturally, only applies to tropical climates when the temperature of the air is greatly above the actual temperature of the blood.

I had arranged with the caravan that accompanied mine to carry fodder for my camels, as there was no grazing for the animals here. Large cloths were spread on which straw and cotton-seeds were mixed together, and then the camels were made to kneel round and have a meal.

On this occasion I was much struck by the really marvellous intelligence of cats. We hear a lot about dogs finding their way home from long distances by using their sense of scent (how far this explanation is correct we have no time to discuss), but of cats the general belief is that if they are taken away from home they seldom find their way back. This may be the case with cats that have always been shut up in some particular house, but it is not that they do not possess the intellect to do so in their natural state. Here is an instance.


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