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Across Coveted Lands by Arnold Henry Savage Landor

The lady was a Suni and Kalantar Mir Abbas was a Shia


Mahommed Hussein's absence rumour says that Kalantar Mir-Abbas had an intrigue with the lady, and on receipt of her husband's letter from Meshed he forcibly removed her from Bunjar and compelled her to marry him, Mir-Abbas, at Iskil.

Unluckily, the lady was a Suni and Kalantar Mir-Abbas was a Shia, which made it difficult to overcome certain religious obstacles. Such a union would anyhow be greatly resented by relations on both sides. In fact, about a year ago, 1900, the lady's brother, a native of Girisk, near Kandahar, enraged at his sister marrying a man who was not an Afghan, and of a different persuasion, came to Iskil with characteristically treacherous Afghan ways and sought service with the Kalantar, assuring him of the great affection and devotion he entertained towards him. The good-hearted Kalantar immediately gave him employment and treated him most generously.

On the night of September 19th, 1901, the Kalantar had been entertaining some friends in the Durbar building opposite his residence, among whom was the Afghan, who left the room before Mir-Abbas and went to conceal himself in the darkness at the entrance. When the Kalantar was joyfully descending the steps after the pleasant night assembly, the treacherous Afghan attacked him and, placing his rifle to Mir-Abbas' head, shot him dead. The assassin then endeavoured to enter the Andarun to kill his sister, but the lady, having her suspicions,

had barricaded herself in, and an alarm being given he had to make his escape across the Afghan frontier only a few miles distant from Iskil.

It was rumoured that the murderer had been sheltered by the Afghan Governor of the Chikansur district, who goes by the grand name of _Akhunzada_, or "The great man of a high family." The Governor of Sistan, angered at the infamous deed, demanded the extradition of the assassin, but it was refused, with the result that the Afghan official was next accused of screening the murderer. There was much interchange of furious correspondence and threats between the Persian and Afghan Governors, and their relations became so strained that a fight seemed imminent.

The shrewd Afghan then offered to allow five Persian soldiers, accompanied by twenty Afghans, to search his district--an offer which was very prudently declined. Persian and Afghan soldiers were posted in some force on both sides of the river--forming the frontier--and devoted their time to insulting one another; but when I left Sistan in January, 1902, although the relations were still much strained, the affair of the Kalantar, which seemed at one time likely to turn into a national quarrel, was gradually being settled on somewhat less martial lines.

The death of such a good, honest man has been much regretted in Sistan, and great hopes are now built on his son and successor, a young fellow much resembling his father both in personal appearance and kindliness towards his neighbours.

We next came to a second and smaller village four miles further on--after having waded through numberless water-channels, ponds and pools and our horses having performed some feats of balancing on bridges two feet wide or even less. Some of these structures were so shaky that the horses were not inclined to go over them except after considerable urging.

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