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Across Coveted Lands by Arnold Henry Savage Landor

The husband riding the lame donkey


Curiously

enough, there was a sudden change in the temperature, and the thermometer in the sun only registered 105 deg., which made us feel quite chilly after the 140 deg. and 150 deg. of previous days. Our camp was at an altitude of 3,810 ft. (at the foot of the Naiband Mountain).

Sadek took the opportunity of the delay to set everything tidy, and we had a great washing day. He sent for a barber in the village to trim his hair and beard. The Naiband Figaro was an extraordinary creature, a most bare-faced rascal, who had plenty to say for himself, and whose peculiar ways and roaming eyes made us conceal away out of his sight all small articles, for fear that he should walk away with them. He carried all the tools of his trade around his waist in a belt, and ground his razor first on a stone which he licked with his tongue, then using his bare arms and legs for stropping purposes, as snapshotted in the accompanying photograph.

The camel men--on whom he was first requested to experiment--he shaved, splashing their faces with salt water during the process, but Sadek, the next victim, produced a cake of soap with which he luxuriously lathered his own face, and which the barber scraped gradually from the chin and cheeks and every now and then deposited the razor's wipings on his patient's head.

We were able to buy some fresh water skins, and this time they were really water tight. The natives,

naturally, took every advantage of us in the bargains, but we were able to purchase a lot of fresh provisions, which we needed badly, and men and beasts felt none the worse for our compulsory halt.

In the middle of the second night we were waked up by some distant grunts, and the camel men jumped up in great glee as they had recognised the beloved voices of some of their strayed camels. A few minutes later, in fact, the whole eleven were brought back by the two men who had gone in search of them. They had found them some twenty miles off.

From Lawah to Naiband we had come practically due north, but from this camp to Birjand the way lay due east for the first portion of the journey. At 160 deg. b.m. (S.S.E.) in the desert rose a high mountain.

We had everything ready for our departure, but the camel men were in a dreadful state as some villager had told them that the news had spread that the strong boxes which the _ferenghi_ had were full of silver and gold--as a matter of fact there was hardly any left of either--and that a raid was being arranged for that night to kill us and rob our baggage when we were starting. The camel men spent the whole day polishing up the old rifles they possessed and, much to my concern for their safety, loaded them.

To allay their fears we made a sudden start at 5 p.m. instead of at the hour of 10 p.m. which had been previously arranged.

One mile beyond Naiband a track branches to the north-east for Meshed, and here we bade good-bye to a Persian husband and wife--he aged twenty-eight, she aged twelve--who in the company of a donkey, were on a pilgrimage from Yezd to the Sacred Shrine. We had picked them up in a sorry plight in the desert, the husband riding the lame donkey, the girl on foot and shoving both from behind. I could not help admiring their enterprise. All the provisions they had carried were a few cucumbers, figs, and a load of bread, nearly all of which were exhausted when we found them. On remonstrating with the strapping youth for riding the donkey while he made his poor wife walk, he replied that they had been newly married and it would not do for a man to show consideration for a wife so soon!


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