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Across Coveted Lands by Arnold Henry Savage Landor

Twelve miles from Mahommed Raza


A

number of Beluch were encamped here in their little black tents, hardly five feet high, and with one side of the tent raised up on two sticks. The interior of the tents seemed to be a mass of rags and dirt, among which some primitive implements, such as a wooden pestle and mortar, for pounding wheat, and a bowl or two, could be detected. Otherwise they were most miserable. The tents seemed mostly in the possession of women, children and decrepit old men, the younger folks seeking a livelier life further afield. It is often in the most humble places, however, that one finds unexpected charms.

On the alarm being given that an intruding stranger was at hand the women hastily shut up all the tents, and a picturesque old fellow stalked me about, seeming to become extremely anxious when I was photographing, a proceeding which he did not quite understand. A young man on a camel was coming towards us singing, and inside one of the tents I heard a great commotion evidently caused by the approaching voice. An old woman, in fact, peeped out from a fissure and gave a powerful squeak. She leapt out excitedly, nearly tearing down the whole tent in the process, and, crying bitter tears, rushed with extended arms towards the camel man.

The young fellow having hastily dismounted, a most touching scene of motherly affection ensued, for, as the old man explained to me, he was her son. The poor shrivelled creature threw her arms

around his neck and kissed him fondly, first on one cheek and then upon the other, after which, having affectionately taken his face between her hands, she impressed another long, long kiss in the middle of his forehead. She caressed him to her heart's content, the boy looking quite pathetically graceful and reverent under the circumstances. A similar treatment was meted out to him by his sisters, and they all shed tears of delight at seeing one another. Family affection, as well as affection among tribesmen, is indeed extraordinarily effusive and genuine among Beluch of all classes.

The women I saw at this camp wore a sort of long shirt with a sash, and had broad bead and shell bracelets round their wrists.

Mahommed Raza-chah was 3,820 feet above sea level, and the track from this point went south east (to 110 deg. bearings magnetic). There was a _duffadar_ in charge of two stations with four _sawars_ and four camels. It was all one could do upon this road to find anything of some interest, barring the geological formation of the country and the movement of the sand, which rather began to pall upon one after months of nothing else, and when one came across a patch of tamarisk trees a little taller than usual one could not take one's eyes off them, they seemed such interesting objects in the monotonous marches.

Twelve miles from Mahommed Raza, tamarisks seemed to flourish, for water was to be found some twenty feet below the surface. A well had been bored for the use of caravans, and the water was quite good. The track was somewhat undulating in this portion of the journey, rising, however, to no greater elevation than 100 feet, but quite steep enough for camels.

About eleven miles from Mahommed Raza-chah, a track diverged to Mirjawa. One noticed on the mountains to our right (south-west) a superabundance of tamarisk, the cause of this abnormal vegetation being undoubtedly long streaks of moisture filtering through the sand. No actual water, however, was visible flowing, not even along a deep channel which bore the marks of having been cut by it, and in which salt deposits were to be seen on the surface soil.


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