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Across Coveted Lands by Arnold Henry Savage Landor

Twins and triplets are unknown in Sistan


Lunacy

is also scarcely ever met with in Sistan in any violent form, but cases of hypochondria are not unusual, produced principally by indigestion--at least, judging by the symptoms shown.

The women are much healthier than the men, as they lead a more rational life, but neither possess the power of producing large families. One or two is the average number of children in healthy families. Twins and triplets are unknown in Sistan, or so I was assured.

The mode of life of Sistan men of the better classes is not conducive to large families, the men not returning to their wives till midnight or later, having spent the greater part of the day in orgies with their friends, when, what with opium smoking and what with being stuffed with food and saturated with gallons of tea, they are dead tired.

Abortion seldom occurs naturally, and is never artificially procured, owing to the local laws. Women do not experience any difficulty during labour and operations are unheard of.

The umbilicus of children, here, too, as in Western Persia, is tied at birth in two or three places with a common string, and the remainder cut with a pair of scissors or a knife. A mid-wife, called _daya_, is requested to perform this operation. Abnormalities of any kind are extremely uncommon.

CHAPTER XX

justify;"> Laid up with fever--Christmas Day--A visit to the Amir--Hashmat-ul-Mulk--An ancient city over eighty miles long--Extreme civility of Persian officials--An unusual compliment--Prisoners--Personal revenge--"An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth"--Punishments and crime--Fines--Bastinado--Disfigurement--Imprisonment--Blowing criminals from a gun--Strangling and decapitation.

It was my intention to remain in Sistan only four or five days, but unluckily my fever got so bad--temperature above 104 deg.--that, notwithstanding my desire to continue the journey, Major Benn most kindly would not allow me. I was placed in bed where, covered up with every available blanket, I remained close upon three weeks. The tender care of Major and Mrs. Benn, to whom my gratitude cannot be expressed in words, the skilful treatment of Dr. Golam Jelami, the Consulate doctor,--not to speak of the unstinted doses of quinine, phenacetin, castor-oil, and other such delightful fare, to which may also be added some gallons of the really delicious water of the Halmund river,--at last told upon me and eventually, after twenty-one days of sweating I began to pull up again and was able to get up.

The fever was shaken off altogether, but strange to say, whether it was that I was unaccustomed to medicine, or whether it was due to the counter-effects of the violent fever, my temperature suddenly went down and remained for several months varying from two to three degrees below normal. Medical men tell me that this should mean physical collapse, but on this point I can only say that I have never in my life felt stronger nor better.

I was just out of bed on Christmas Day, when the Consulate was decorated with flags, and Major Benn in his uniform had his escort of Bombay Lancers on parade. There was an official Christmas dinner in good old English style, with a fine plum pudding and real sixpences in it, followed by fire-crackers; while illuminations were burning bright on the Consulate wall and roofs. Official visitors were received, the doctor of the Russian Vice-Consulate and the Belgian Customs Officer forming the whole European community of Sher-i-Nasrya.

Sadek, who was great on charity, especially when it went to my account, in order to thank Providence for my recovery sacrificed two sheep, and their meat was distributed to the clamouring poor. Such an expedient was necessary, Sadek said, or I should certainly get fever again!


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