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Across Coveted Lands by Arnold Henry Savage Landor

Allah is more right than compass


I

having for curiosity's sake complied with his request, he gravely examined the discarded stones.

"Yes, Sahib, your compass speaks truth! Allah says yours is the right road!"

On requesting an explanation of this novel method of locating positions, Sadek looked very solemn, and with a pause, as if he were about to pour forth words of great wisdom, and disregarding altogether the fact that my efforts solely and simply were responsible for discovering the track, "You see, my master," he said, "one stone I called _good road_, the other I called _no road_. Whichever stone you throw first is Allah's wish. Allah is more right than compass."

At any rate the method was simple enough, and it fortunately happened that Allah and my compass seemed in agreement on that occasion; so adding these circumstances to the more substantial fact that we could see the track plainly before us, we gaily descended from our lofty pinnacle, and with renewed vigour climbed the lower and last hill range, the last obstacle before us.

In the trough between the two ranges, however, the fine sand was extremely nasty, almost as bad as quicksand, and we had some trouble in extricating ourselves. We sank into it almost up to the waist. We then crossed the broad plain in a diagonal for nearly four miles, and at last, after some seven hours of anxiety, not to speak of hunger and

thirst, we struck the road again.

Sadek, who, notwithstanding Allah's patent method, my compass bearings, and our combined eyesight, was not at all certain in his own heart that we should find the road that day, was so overcome with joy when he actually recognised my camel's footprints upon the sand, where not obliterated by the wind, that he collapsed upon the ground from fatigue and strain, and slept snoring sonorously for nearly two hours.

As luck would have it, a Beluch horseman travelling towards Mushki-Chah had overtaken my camels, and much to Mahommed's astonishment, informed him that he had not seen the Sahib on the road, so Mahommed, fearing that something had happened, had the sense to turn back with two camels to try and find us. We were very glad of a lift when he arrived, and even more glad to partake of a hearty lunch, and a long, long drink of water, which although brackish tasted quite delicious, from one of the skins.

The track was like a whitish streak on a sombre grey valley, with black hills scattered here and there, and a most peculiar dome-like hill on our left (10 deg. b.m.) towards the north. Eastwards we could see a long flat high table mountain, not unlike Kuh-i-Kwajah of Sistan. On our right were low, much broken-up hills; to the west, low sand hillocks, and facing us, north-east-east (80 deg. b.m.) a low black hill range standing in front of some high and very pointed peaks. To the south-east there was an open space.

We made a diagonal crossing over several sand dunes that stood from 50 to 80 feet high, and extended to a great length southwards. Then we approached the curious-domed hill. It was of a warm reddish-brown colour, with a yellow belt of sand at its base, and half-a-dozen sugar-loaf sand hills to the west of it. To the east of it rose the flat-topped plateau, yellowish at the two extremities, as one looked at it from this point, and black in the centre. On the north-east (at 70 deg. b.m.) was a pointed peak, perfectly conical.


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