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Across Coveted Lands by Arnold Henry Savage Landor

Most unlike the gentlemanly Beluch


[Illustration:

In Afghanistan. Who are you?]

[Illustration: In the Afghan Desert. Afghan Caravan Men.]

The Zirreh seemed just like a great stretch of country under snow, the thick salt sediment was so beautifully white. It formed a deep depression in the centre. The second deposits to the east of the Zirreh were of a similar shape, with salt extremely thick, but not quite so extensive as in the Zirreh. Near the edge of both dry lakes there was absolutely no vegetation, but most beautifully coloured stones could be found, such as red and brown jasper and agatescent quartz, chalcedony, white and brown limestone.

As I was returning towards the Beluchistan boundary among the sand hills I came upon about a dozen Afghans, who looked as suspiciously at me as I did at them. At first I thought they were soldiers, and as I did not much care to be caught by them and have my goods confiscated--no Englishmen being allowed in their territory--I requested them to stop some way off and explain what they wanted, while I was snapshotting them. They had a great big white fluffy dog with them who seemed very anxious to have a go at the Sahib. One man was asked to come forward alone, which he did with his turban right over his eyes, while the others formed a line behind and appeared most puzzled as to what was going to happen. He said they were glad to see me in their country and that they were "good people,"

and would not injure nor trouble me in any way; so I gave them a small present, which seemed to please them much, and they became quite friendly. They seemed to have some coarse humour about them and were rather boisterous. Their faces, however, did not quite appeal to me.

The Afghan invariably has a slippery, treacherous look about his countenance which he cannot disguise, and which, personally, I do not much admire. He seldom looks at one straight in the face, can be very sullen when he is not boisterous, and I should think would easily seek cause of offence and pick a quarrel with any one weaker than himself in order to have a fight. These fellows were, for instance, most unlike the gentlemanly Beluch. They shouted at the top of their voices when they spoke, and were uncouth in speech and manner. I was rather glad when they departed.

Further on I came upon more people and animals, but they, too, were quite peaceful.

Having accomplished my object I again crossed over into Beluchistan.

CHAPTER XXXI

Saindak--Beluch prisoners--Thana and Bungalow--Beluch bread--The Saindak mountain and its mineral resources--The Daftan volcano--_Surmah_ and lead--Mukak and its strong man--A sick camel--Gypsum--_Regheth_--Where the track will deviate in future--Difficulty in obtaining drinkable water--Wells made attractive--Sahib chah--A well ventilated rest-house.

Saindak had an imposing _thana_, the elaborate gateway of which was decorated with heads of wild sheep and _dumbahs_. There were nine rooms--some boasting of wooden doors--at the end of the large court, but all were occupied by the seven _sawars_, the postal _moonshee_, the three _kassildars_ and the _havildar_, one _duffadar_, and one _jemadar_.


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