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Across Coveted Lands by Arnold Henry Savage Landor

And after an anxious hour Sadek


I

had ridden ahead, and after an anxious hour Sadek, with all the luggage, and the second camel man arrived, and we decided to leave the track and try our luck among the mountains to the west.

Now, to find a little mud house, hidden in some sheltered spot among rocks and hills, on a dark night is not the easiest of matters. The camels stumbled among the big boulders when once we had got off the track, and we had to dismount and walk. As luck would have it, after going about half an hour we came to a nice spring of water, of which in the stillness of the night we could plainly hear the gurgling. Guided by it, and a few feet above it in a sheltered position, we struck the post-house.

The post-house has, of course, been built here (one mile away from the high track) because of this spring. There is a direct track to it which branches off the main track, about 3 miles north, but we had missed this.

The night was a very cold one--we were at 3,380 feet above sea level--and we lighted a big fire in the middle of the small mud room. As there was no outlet for the smoke except the door, in a few minutes the place got unbearably hot, and I had to clear out, but Sadek and my camel men, who were regular salamanders, seemed to enjoy it and found it quite comfortable.

There were two rooms, one occupied by the four postal _sawars_, the other by five Persian

Customs employees. The two camels and two horses for the postal service were kept in the mud walled enclosure.

Hormak, when the sun rose, proved to be one of the most picturesquely situated stations on the entire route between Sher-i-Nasrya and Nushki. It stood on a hill of sand and gravel in the centre of a basin of high reddish-brown mountains which screened it all round. There was an opening to the east which gave a glimpse of the desert extending into Afghanistan, this station being not far from the border.

Our track was to the south-west, and wound round between handsome mountains. A strange high pyramid of rock stood on our way, and the sides of the mountains, where cut by the water, showed the interesting process of petrification in its various stages in the strata of the mountains. In hills of conical formation the centre was the first to become solidified, and where subsequent rain storms had washed away the coating around that had not yet become petrified curious rocky pillars were left standing bare on the landscape.

We altered our course to due south along a river bed, and had high sand hills to our right. Now that we were approaching Beluchistan the track was well defined, and about 16 feet broad, with sides marked by a row of stones. To the west of the track were a series of high sand walls (facing west) 300 feet high, and some most peculiar red, pointed, conical hills rose above them on the east side of these walls. It was after reaching these peculiarly coloured hills that the track began a gradual descent. The highest point on the track was 3,670 feet.


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