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Across Coveted Lands by Arnold Henry Savage Landor

The duffadar at Chah Sandan was an Afghan


The

desert was here absolutely flat, with some grazing for camels (_kirri_). We were going north-east-east (70 deg. b.m.) amid low sand hillocks and sand banks, and the Sultan Mountain still on our left in all its glory. To the north-east (55 deg. b.m.) we had another mountain mass lower than the Sultan and not nearly so picturesque, and before us, on going over a gentle incline some 35 ft. above the level of the plain (about 13 miles from Tretoh), three long rows of bright yellow, flat-topped, crescent-shaped sand-hills stretching for several miles from north to south were disclosed. These three rows of barchans were parallel, and at intervals of about from 300 yards to 500 yards from one another. The barchans averaged from 50 ft. to 100 ft. in height. Another row of them stretched along the foot of the mountain range to the north and extended from north-west to south-east.

The cause of these extensive parallel rows of barchans was to be found in gaps in the hills to the north between the Sultan, the next range, and two intervening obstacles in the shape of a low mound and a great rock, the sand being blown through the interstices and gradually accumulating in the plain on the south.

On that march we saw a most extraordinary effect of mirage. To the east (100 deg. b.m.) the peculiar flat-topped Gat (or Gut) Mountain, which looked like a gigantic lamp-shade, could be seen apparently suspended in the air. The illusion

was perfect, and most startling to any one with teetotal habits. Of course the optical illusion was caused by the different temperatures in the layers of air directly over the earth's surface and the one above it. Where the two layers met they deviated at an angle, or practically interrupted what would, under ordinary circumstances, be direct rays of vision. (The same effect, in other words, as produced by placing a stick vertically in water.) The real horizon was obliterated, as well as the lower part of the mountain, by the white haze caused by the warm lower layer of air.

Some nineteen miles from Tretoh, where the hill range to the north became low, a few sand hills were to be seen, then where another gap existed in the range yet another long row of barchans stretched southwards. A mile or so beyond this spot a long sand and gravel bank stretched across the plain from north-north-east to south-south-west and near Chah Sandan another similar bank existed, fifty feet high, parallel to the first.

At Chah Sandan (altitude 3,380 ft.) we were most enthusiastically received by the _duffadar_, who was politeness itself. The Beluch salutation is somewhat lengthy. In the Ba-roh-iya or Brahui language, as spoken in north Beluchistan where I was travelling, it sounds thus:--"_Shar joroz druakha joroz haire meretus me murev huaja khana_," after which the persons greeting seize each other's hands and raise them to the forehead, bowing low. Inquiries follow about the _mulk_ or countries one has crossed on one's journey, and whether the people have treated one kindly.

The _duffadar_ at Chah Sandan was an Afghan, Belind Khan by name, and had the following good points about him. He was a most sportsmanlike fellow; was very bright, civil and intelligent, and owned chickens that laid delicious eggs. He possessed a beautiful dog to which he was passionately attached, and he and his brother had a greater capacity for tea than almost any men I have known. Above all, Belind Khan had intense admiration for the British and what they did, and as for Captain Webb-Ware, his superior officer, he pronounced him to be the greatest "Bahadur" that ever lived. "Even in my own country (Afghanistan)," he exclaimed, raising his right hand in the air, "there is no 'Bahadur' like him!"


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