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Across Coveted Lands by Arnold Henry Savage Landor

And the photograph of Sahib Chah shelter duly taken


The

rest-house could not be called luxurious; the reader is referred to the photograph I took of it facing page 332. It was roofless--which, personally, I did not mind--and the walls just high enough to screen one from the wind and sand. It was in two compartments, the wall of one being 41/2 feet high, and of the other about 7 feet high, while 15 feet by 8 feet, and 10 feet by 8 feet were the respective dimensions of each section.

The place lies in the middle of a valley amid hills of chalk or gypsum and deep soft sand, and is screened by a low hill range to the north-east and north, while a low flat-topped sand dune protects it on the south-west. The new track, I believe, will go north of the north-east range.

CHAPTER XXXII

Sick men and camels--What came of photographing Sahib Chah--Losing the track--Divided opinions--Allah _versus_ the compass--Sadek's way of locating positions--Picked up hungry and thirsty by sensible Mahommed who had come in search--Curious scenery--Trouble at Mirjawa--Mythical Perso-Beluch frontier--Gypsum and limestone--Mushki Chah.

As all my camels as well as my men had been very sick during the night; as we had a long march before us the following day, and as I wished to take a photograph of the place, I resolved not to leave until the sun had risen, and

in order to avoid delay I despatched all the camels and loads, except my camera, at four o'clock in the morning, meaning to walk some ten or fifteen miles, and thus give my own camel a rest. Sadek, who said it was not right for a servant to ride when his master walked, refused to go on with the caravan and insisted on remaining with me.

When the camels left--there was a cutting northerly wind blowing raising clouds of sand--I retreated to the shelter to wait for the sun to rise, and had a few hours' sleep in a solitary blanket I had retained. The track had so far been so well defined that I never thought of asking Mahommed which way it led out of these hills.

The sun having risen, and the photograph of Sahib Chah shelter duly taken, we proceeded to catch up the camels, but a few yards from the shelter all signs of the track ceased, and even the footprints of my camels had been absolutely obliterated by the high wind of the morning. To the east-south-east were rather high rocky hills and two passes, one going round to the north-north-east (which apparently would take us away from our direction), and another east-south-east, which seemed more likely to be the right one. To mislead us more we saw what we believed to be faint camel tracks smothered in sand in this direction, so on we went, sinking in fine sand, which kept filling our shoes and made walking most uncomfortable.

I climbed to the top of the rocky hill to reconnoitre, but higher hills stood all round barring the view, and I was none the wiser. On we went--certain that we were going wrong, but unable to find where the track was. Among hundreds of sand hills, dunes, and high parallel hill ranges it was not easy to discover it.

There were flat stretches of sand and parallel dunes several hundred feet high stretching from north by north-west to south by south-east, and as I knew the way must be east we had to go over them, down on the other side, only to be confronted with others before us like the waves of a stormy sea.


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