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Across Coveted Lands by Arnold Henry Savage Landor

Illustration Rock Habitations

We had only risen about 100 feet to 4,520 feet from our last camp, and we steered N.N.E. for the high Naiband Mountain.

The camel men, taking advantage of my being ill, were very troublesome and attempted some of their tricks; but although I was absolutely at their mercy I screwed up what little strength I had and brought them back to their senses. The camels, they said, were very ill, and we could not possibly go on. We certainly could not stop where we were, and I most decidedly would not go back, so, when night came, on we went leaving camp at 10 p.m. and travelling first over a great flat stretch, then among low hills and through several ravines cut by water. We travelled some ten hours at a good pace, and when nearing the Naiband Mountain the country became quite undulating.

On November 16th we arrived in a small oasis of high palm trees, with a streamlet of salt water forming a pool or two, dirty to a degree owing to the bad habits of camels when drinking. Our camels, who had drunk nothing for several days, on perceiving these pools made a dash for them and sucked to their hearts' content gallons of water of a ghastly reddish-green tint, almost as thick as syrup with mud and organic matter, but which they seemed to enjoy all the same.

There was here a much battered tower, attributed, to Beluch, who are said to have fought here most bravely in times gone by, but more probably of Afghan origin--or at least erected during the time of the Afghan invasion. It is said to be some centuries old, but here again it is well to have one's doubts upon the matter.

As I was examining the tower, which has undoubtedly seen some terrific fighting, a giant man emerged from the palm trees and came towards us. He was some 6 feet 6 inches in height, and being slender, with a small head, appeared to be even taller than he really was. He strode disjointedly towards us and was somewhat peculiar in manner and speech. He examined us very closely and then ran away up to the village--a quaint old place perched high on the mountain side and with eight picturesque towers. Most of these towers were round, but a large quadrangular one stood apart on a separate hill.

There were innumerable holes in the rock, which were at one time habitations, but are used now as stables mostly for donkeys, of which there were a great number in the place. The rock on which the village stood is very rugged and difficult of access, as can be seen by the photograph which I took, and the architecture of the buildings had a character peculiar to itself and differed very considerably from any other houses we had met in Persia. They were flat-roofed, with very high walls, and four circular apertures to answer the purpose of windows about half-way up the wall. The roof was plastered and made a kind of verandah, where the natives spread fruit and vegetables to dry and the women had their small weaving looms. On one side of the rock, where the greater number of habitations were to be found, they actually appeared one on the top of the other, the front door of one being on the level with the roof of the underlying one.

[Illustration: Author's Caravan Descending into River Bed near Darband.]

[Illustration: Rock Habitations, Naiband.]

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