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Across Coveted Lands by Arnold Henry Savage Landor

And the sky was also whitish and promising real snow


One farsakh before reaching camp we had passed the camping ground of Angiloh, where a tiny drip of fresh water exists. We happily found here a quantity of wood, abandoned by the Clemenson caravan, which we put on our camels and carried further down into the plain, where, having found a depression in the ground affording some shelter from the fearful wind, we halted to wait until the moon rose.

My fever seized me violently on that night, and I experienced intense pain in my spine, my legs and arms, more especially in places where I had received wounds on previous journeys.

We left again in the middle of the night at 3 a.m., and a great effort it was, too, to get out of one's warm blankets and scramble on the camel, aching as I was all over, and with the indescribable exhaustion that fever of the desert brings on. Luckily, with the rising of the moon, the wind had somewhat abated, but the electricity in the air was as unpleasant as it was extraordinary. One was absolutely saturated with it, and discharged sparks from one's finger-tips when one touched anything that was a good conductor.

In the morning at the foot of the mountains we passed a large fortress where, they told me, twenty soldiers had been stationed the previous year in order to suppress brigandage that had been rampant here. Both Afghan and Sistan robbers seemed to be most partial to this spot, probably because it is that at which all the caravans from Birjand and Meshed converge on their way to Sistan.

We actually perceived some trees in the distance, and at last we arrived at Zemahlabad, a quadrangular fort, with two such peculiar structures at the sides that I really could not at first guess what they were. Sadek, called upon to explain, was no wiser, and we had to find a solution to our speculation from one of the local authorities. They were windmills, and most ingenious and simple they were, too, when once one had grasped the mechanism of them. Only in their case the large opening to the east and west, to let in and out the wind, had been screened with elaborate wood-work, and it was not easy to understand the principle of the device until one visited the interior. We shall come later in our journey to some quite superior ones, which I will endeavour to describe.

There were many palm trees at this place and some few patches of vegetation. A great many mat-sheds had been erected, and hundreds of cows were to be seen; the land, being marshy, provided fair pasturages. (Altitude 2,700 ft.)

To the extreme east of the long valley we had traversed the Bandan mountains, converged into an acute angle with those on the opposite side of the valley, and on the north-east side we had again the same formation of rock in horizontal strata with some contortions at its western end. A salt stream flowed here through a narrow gorge, between the picturesque, wall-like barrier to the north and the handsome hills to the south-west. A great number of palm trees gave quite a tropical appearance to this gorge, although the whitish sand mixed with salt impressed one like dirty snow, and the sky was also whitish and promising real snow. It was none too hot--thermometer 34 deg..


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