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Across Coveted Lands by Arnold Henry Savage Landor

While Sadek was busy with his culinary work


At

this particular place there were altogether some fifteen of these pits, and in one of them we lighted a big fire with some shrubs we collected, and rested for some three hours to give Sadek time to cook my breakfast.

The difference in the temperature between the interior of these pits and the open ground was extraordinary. They were comfortably warm, even when it was unpleasantly cold as one peeped out of them.

While Sadek was busy with his culinary work, and the camel man chewed dried pieces of bread and _keshk_ cheese, I proceeded to find our right way. It lay about one mile to the east of the pits.

On resuming our march, five farsakhs (twenty miles) from Golandeh, we reached Sahlabad, an unimportant village. South there was to be seen an extensive white salt deposit, which at first had all the appearance of a large lake, and a stream of salt water flowed across the large valley and through the village from north-east to south-west.

To the east there was a long range of multi-coloured mountains, all with high sand accumulations at their base; greys in several beautiful tones, were prevalent, and there were stretches of black, brown, burnt sienna, and a pale cadmium yellow. To the north-west, whence we had come, low hills were visible, and to the south-west fairly high ones.

Sahlabad was a depressing place.

The natives were in abject poverty and their habitations dismal, to say the least. The huts were partly underground, and the top aperture of the domed roof was screened by a hood with an opening to the north-east. No firewood was obtainable at this place, and the only water the natives had to drink was the salt water from the stream. At Sahlabad we had descended to an elevation of 5,050 ft., which made a considerable change in the temperature.

We encountered here a large caravan in charge of Beluch drivers, and among other curious articles one of the camels carried a beautiful new enamelled iron bedstead. The reader may suppose that, after several months of sleeping on the ground, I wished it had been mine,--but I did not. On the contrary, I was particularly struck on that occasion by what an elaborate, clumsy, useless thing it seemed, although, as bedsteads go, it was one of the best!

To the south stood a high mountain, very closely resembling in shape the world-renowned Fujiama of Japan, only this one had a somewhat wider angle. Beyond the white expanse of salt to the south-east there was low, flattish country, but to the west, north-west and south-west, rose fairly high hills. The valley itself in which we were was some two and a half miles broad, and covered with grey sand.

In the centre of the village in the neighbourhood of which we camped was a tumbled-down circular tower, and an octangular tower in two tiers, also partly ruined. The latter stood at the corner of an enclosure which at one time must have been the beginning of the village wall.

CHAPTER XIV

Suspicious characters--A trap--Held up--No water--The haunt of robbers--Fierce daily winds--Volcanic formation--A crater--Wall-like barriers--A salt stream--A caravan from Quetta.

We remained at Sahlabad the whole afternoon, and we were visited in camp by a number of suspicious-looking people, who were most inquisitive to know what I possessed and how much money I carried, and other such pertinent questions which they put to Sadek and my camel man. Also a peculiar lot of fellows, with very ugly countenances and armed to their teeth, passed by. They were mounted on fine horses with gaudy saddles, and on coming suddenly and unexpectedly upon us seemed quite upset. Instead of salaaming us, as had been usual with the few well-to-do people we had so far met, they whipped their horses and galloped away.


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