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Across Coveted Lands by Arnold Henry Savage Landor

In the basin was a solitary hut


rise higher and higher in zig-zag through rugged country, and we then go across an intensely interesting large basin, which must at a previous date have been the interior of an exploded and now collapsed volcano. This place forcibly reminded me of a similar sight on a grander scale,--the site of the ex-Bandaisan Mountain on the main island of Nippon in Japan, after that enormous mountain was blown to atoms and disappeared some few years ago. A huge basin was left, like the bottom part of a gigantic cauldron, the edges of which bore ample testimony to the terrific heat that must have been inside before the explosion took place. In the Persian scene before us, of a much older date, the basin, corroded as it evidently was by substances heated to a very high temperature and by the action of forming gases, had been to a certain extent obliterated by the softening actions of time and exposure to air. The impression was not so violent and marked as the one received at Bandaisan, which I visited only a few days after the explosion, but the various characteristics were similar.

In the basin was a solitary hut, which rejoiced in the name of Kort. These great commotions of nature are interesting, but to any one given to sound reflection they are almost too big for the human mind to grasp. They impress one, they almost frighten one, but give no reposeful, real pleasure in gazing upon them such as less disturbed scenery does. The contrasts in colour and shape

are too violent, too crude to please the eye: the freaks too numerous to be comprehensible at a glance. Here we have a ditch with sides perfectly black-baked, evidently by lava or some other hot substance which has flowed through; further on big splashes of violent red and a great variety of warm browns. The eye roams from one spot to the other, trying to understand exactly what has taken place--a job which occupies a good deal of one's time and attention as one drives through, and which would occupy a longer time and study than a gallop through in a post landau can afford.

At Agha Baba we were again on the old track, quite flat now, and during the night we galloped easily on a broad road through uninteresting country till we reached Kasvin, 185 _versts_ from Resht.

Kasvin, in the province of Irak, is a very ancient city, which has seen better days, has gone through a period of misfortune, and will in future probably attain again a certain amount of prosperity. It is situated at an altitude of 4,094 feet (at the Indo-European telegraph office), an elevation which gives it a very hot but dry, healthy climate with comparatively cool nights. The town is handsome, square in form, enclosed in a wall with towers.

The governor's palace is quite impressive, with a fine broad avenue of green trees leading from it to the spacious Kasvin rest-house. This is by far the best rest-house on the road to the Persian capital, with large rooms, clean enough for Persia, and with every convenience for cooking one's food. Above the doorway the Persian lion, with the sun rising above his back, has been elaborately painted, and a picturesque pool of stagnant water at the bottom of the steps is no doubt the breeding spot of mosquitoes and flies, of which there are swarms, to make one's life a misery.

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