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Across Coveted Lands by Arnold Henry Savage Landor

A high mountain lay to 170 deg


The

path to the village was very steep, tortuous and narrow. The village extended from south-west to north-east on the top of the mountain, and the separate quadrangular tower occupied a prominent position to its eastern extremity. There were palm trees and fields both to the south and east at the foot of the rocky mountain on which the village stood, and to the W.N.W. (300 deg. bearings magnetic) of it towered the majestic Naiband Mountain mass, very high, one of the great landmarks of the Dasht-i-Lut, the Salt Desert.

Directly above the village of Naiband was a peak from which, although of no great altitude--4,500 ft.--one got a beautiful bird's-eye view both of the village and the surrounding country. An immense stretch of desert spread below us, uninterrupted from north-east to south except by a small cluster of hillocks directly under us, and by the continuation towards the south-west of the Naiband mountainous mass; a high mountain lay to (170 deg. bearings magnetic) S.S.E. The highest peak of the Naiband was to the north of the village, and the mountainous region extended also in a direction further north beyond the mountain that gives its name to the whole mass. S.S.E. (150 deg. b.m.) of the village down in the plain rose an island of hills and also a few more to the east.

The desert was rather more undulating in the eastern portion, but absolutely flat towards the south-west and to the south, while north-east

of the village stood a weird collection of picturesquely confused brown-red and whitish mountains.

Most of the cultivation--only a few patches--was visible to the S.W. and E.N.E. of the village. Palm trees were numerous. A spring of fresh water ran down the mountain side, through the main street of the village, and down into the fields, in the irrigation of which it lost itself.

CHAPTER VIII

A visit to the eight-towered village--A hostile demonstration--Quaint houses--Stoned--Brigand villagers--A device--Peculiar characteristics of natives--Picturesque features--Constant intermarriage and its effects--Nature's freaks--Children--Elongating influence of the desert--Violent women--Beasts of burden--Photography under difficulty--Admirable teeth of the natives--Men's weak chests--Clothing--A farewell demonstration--Fired at.

I climbed up to the village, accompanied by one of my camel men, but our friend the giant had preceded us and given the warning that a _ferenghi_ had arrived, and we were met on the road by a number of boys and men who were running down the hill to see the new arrival. The people were not particularly respectful, and freely passed remarks, not always complimentary--in fact, most offensive; but as I was bent on seeing all that there was to be seen, I paid no heed and continued to go up.

[Illustration: The Village of Naiband, and Rock Dwellings in the Cliff.]

The camel man, who was getting quite alarmed--especially when a stone or two were flung at us--begged me to return to camp, but I would not, and as I had my rifle with me I thought I could hold my own, and certainly did not wish the natives to think that an Englishman feared them.

It appears that a European had visited this spot some time previously, and they had some grievance against him, but although it seemed rather hard that I should come in for the punishment which should have been meted to my predecessor, I well knew that the only way out of the scrape was to face the music. To run away would have been fatal.


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