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Across Coveted Lands by Arnold Henry Savage Landor

As the way was very bad among stones and boulders


It

was a real delight to meet countrymen of one's own after so many weeks of loneliness. These two enterprising English traders had brought over a very large caravan from Quetta, and were on their way to Meshed, having done good business in Sistan. They had with them every possible article they could think of, from tea to phonographs, lamps, razors, music boxes, magic lanterns, bedsteads, cottons, silks, cloths, chairs, glass-ware, clocks, watches, and I do not know what else. I believe that it was the largest caravan of that kind that had ever come over to Persia from Beluchistan.

After a pleasant interview of an hour or so, and what humble refreshments I could offer, they were compelled to continue their journey to the north. The kittens, having anxiously watched the departure of Mr. Clemenson's dogs, leapt back from rock to rock and down on to my carpet, all three sitting as usual in a row in front of my plate while I was having my dinner, with their greedy eyes on the meat, and occasionally also one of their paws.

We did not make a start till 2.30 a.m., when there was moonlight, as the way was very bad among stones and boulders. For a short distance we travelled between high cliffs and boulders, then between low hills much further apart. On our left we came to a most peculiar formation of rock which seemed almost like a castle, and from this point we got into a long and wide plain, most uninteresting and swarming

with a troublesome kind of small fly.

A rugged mountain to the north, being higher and more vividly coloured than the rest, attracted the eye, as one tried hard to find something to admire in the scenery; and to the south-west we saw the back view of the flat-topped plateau we had skirted the day before. To the S.S.W. lay another flat-topped high mountain like the section of a cone which we had noticed on our previous march.

We were now marching due east, and after some sixteen miles' journey from our last camp we again entered a hilly portion of country. We made a halt of three hours, from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m., to have our breakfast. Then we entered the hills by one of the usual dry channels formed by the water washing down with great force in rainy weather from the hillsides. After half a mile we emerged again into another plain, three miles long and about equally wide, with very broken, low rocky mountains to the east, and low sand hills to the south. To the south-east, in the direction we were following, stood a massive-looking mountain, which, however, possessed no very beautiful lines.

More interesting and quaint was the circular crater in a conical mountain to the north-east of the long dreary plain we were now traversing. The mouth of this large crater was much lower on the south-west side than on the north-east, thus exposing to the full view of the traveller the entire opening in the centre of the mountain, reddish-brown in colour.

Having gone some twelve miles more, we stopped, at four in the afternoon, in a bitterly penetrating cold wind, which seemed to have a most uncomfortable effect upon one's nervous system. Whether it was that the intense dryness caused an excess of electricity, or what, I do not know, but one ached all over in a frightful manner, and experienced the same tendon-contracting feeling as when exposed to an electric current.


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