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Across Coveted Lands by Arnold Henry Savage Landor

The other accommodated the three postal sawars riders


Nearly

each house has its own outer oven, but the one I was near seemed to be used by several families, judging by a string of clamouring women who impatiently--and did they not let the others know how impatiently!--waited with all necessaries in hand to bake bread for their men. The respective husbands and sons squatted around on their heels, languidly smoking their pipes and urging their women to be quick. A deal of good-natured chaff seemed to take place during this daily operation, but the women were quite in earnest and took themselves and the process very seriously. They seemed much concerned if one piece got too much burnt or another not enough.

To the east by south-east of Warmal, about a mile and a half off, were four semi-spherical sand mounts standing prominent against the sky-line, and a great number of sand hills of confused formation. The several sand-banks which I had observed in the morning on our march to this place extended to a great length towards the east, and were a great protection to Warmal against the periodic northerly winds of the summer. Hence the lack here of the familiar wind-catchers and wind-protectors, found further north, the sight of which one missed on the roof tops after having become accustomed to Sher-i-Nasrya and adjoining villages where no roof was without one. Here there were only one or two wind-catchers visible on the roofs of the few two-storeyed houses of the richer folks.

[Illustration:

Sher-i-Rustam. (Rustam's City.)]

[Illustration: The Stable of Rustam's Legendary Horse.]

Another characteristic of dwellings in Warmal was that over each front door there was a neat little fowl-house, subdivided into a number of square compartments. The place was simply swarming with chickens.

CHAPTER XXVI

Sand accumulations--A round tower--Mahommed Raza Chah--A burial ground--Rustam's city--An ancient canal--Rustam's house--The Persian hero's favourite room--A store room--Reception hall--The city wall--Where Rustam's son was impaled--The stable of Rustam's gigantic horse--More dry canals--An immense graveyard--Sand and its ways--A probable buried city--A land-mark--Sadek's ways--A glorious sunset--Girdi--Beluch greeting.

Warmal (altitude 2,100 feet) was left at 8 a.m. on the 12th. We skirted extensive sand accumulations, high to the north, lower towards the south. The under portion of these deposits had become semi-petrified up to a height varying from 20 feet to 50 feet in proportion to the loftiness of the hills themselves. We were travelling in a south-east direction along these sand banks cut abruptly vertically, and when we left them and turned due south across a flat bay in the desert there were sand-hills to the east and west about one mile apart.

At the most northern end of the western range a round tower could be seen on the summit of a hillock. Having crossed over the low hill range before us we descended into a long, flat, sandy stretch with tamarisk shrubs in abundance. In an arc of a circle from north to south there extended sand accumulations in various guises, the highest being some lofty conical hills due east of our course. To the west in the distance we were encircled by the Patang Kuh and the Mukh Surk ranges, which also extended from north to south.

[Illustration: The Gate of Rustam's City, as seen from Rustam's House.]

Two farsakhs (eight miles) brought us to the British Consular Postal Station of Mahommed Raza Chah, a mud structure of two rooms and an ante-room between. One room was full of provisions, the other accommodated the three postal _sawars_ (riders). Twelve holes had been dug in search of water, but only two had been successful. One of the sawars, a Beluch, on a _jumbaz_ camel, was just coming in with the post, and he was a very picturesque figure in his white flowing robes and turban over the curly long hair hanging upon his shoulders. One mile off, six or seven more deep holes had been bored for water, but with no success. Tamarisk was plentiful.


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