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Across Coveted Lands by Arnold Henry Savage Landor

Were the queries which Sadek had to answer


A

large ice store-house is met with at the end of the village, which testifies to the intense cold that can be experienced here in the winter months.

An official residing in the place sent word that he would call upon me, and we made a grand display of all the carpets we possessed to receive him. He arrived with a number of servants, and we had a very pleasant interview, with great consumption of tea. He was extremely civil; inquired whether he could be of any assistance, which was politely declined, and showed intense interest in my firearms and scientific instruments. He and his people were amazed when I told them that their village stood at an elevation of 4,620 ft. above sea level, and explained to them how I had measured the height by means of aneroids and the hypsometrical apparatus.

"These are wonderful!" he said, with a salaam, as he handed me back the instruments which had been eagerly examined by all present. "And," he added, "can you also measure the length of cloth with them?"

A compass, too, he had never set eyes upon; and he at first thought that it was constructed to point towards Mecca! Had not one long ago got accustomed to similar questions often asked one by London people, the innocence of the Persian official might have taken one's breath away, but this was nothing to what happened later.

The Persians showed great curiosity

to learn everything in connection with whatever foreign articles I possessed and the respective prices I had paid for them. Then Sadek was closely examined as to the amount of food I ate every day, the salary I paid him, and why I had come across the desert. Was I a Russian or an Englishman? The officer had never seen either, but heard both well spoken of. He had understood that all Englishmen had yellow hair; why had I dark hair? London, he, like most Persians, believed to be a suburb of Bombay, connected with Russia by means of a "machine road,"--a railway!

Why on earth did the _ferenghi_ want to know how high mountains were? Did the _ferenghi_ know how to find gold in the earth? and so on, were the queries which Sadek had to answer.

With repeated salaams, preceded by a thousand other questions, the official departed; but Sadek, who was much excited, was still bent on a highly scientific conversation to the following effect:--

"Sahib," he said, "you have travelled in many countries, have you not?"

"Yes."

"Sahib, have you been to the country where the sun 'goes to sleep' in a hole in the earth every evening?"

That was Sadek's idea of a sunset! His idea of a sunrise was that a brand-new sun was sent up every day, and this explained how it was that it rose from the opposite side to that on which it had "gone to sleep."

Ali Murat, looking somewhat washed out and absent minded, came back to camp at noon, garbed in a very handsome new coat which his wife had woven and embroidered for him during his absence. He was very proud of it.


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