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Across Coveted Lands by Arnold Henry Savage Landor

On payment of several hundred tomans


[Illustration:

Persian Soldiers--The Band.]

[Illustration: Recruits Learning Music.]

I was most anxious to see the troops at drill, and asked a very high military officer when I might see them.

"We do not drill in summer," was the reply, "it is too hot!"

"Do you drill in winter?"

"No, it is too cold."

"Are the troops then only drilled in the autumn and spring?"

"Sometimes. They are principally drilled a few days before the Shah's birthday, so that they may look well on the parade before his Majesty."

"I suppose they are also only dressed and shod on the Shah's birthday?"

"Yes."

"What type and calibre rifle is used in the Persian army?"

"Make it plural, as plural as you can. They have every type under the sun. But," added the high military officer, "we use of course 'bullet rifles' (_fusils a balle_) not 'small shot guns'!"

This "highly technical explanation" about finished me up.

As luck or ill-luck would have it, I had an accident which detained me some four weeks in Teheran. While at the Resht hotel, it may be remembered how, walking barefooted

on the matting of my room, an invisible germ bored its way into the sole of my foot, and I could not get it out again. One day, in attempting to make its life as lively as the brute made my foot, I proceeded to pour some drops of concentrated carbolic acid upon the home of my invisible tenant. Unluckily, in the operation my arm caught in the blankets of my bed, and in the jerk the whole contents of the bottle flowed out, severely burning all my toes and the lower and upper part of my foot, upon which the acid had quickly dripped between the toes.

With the intense heat of Teheran, this became a very bad sore, and I was unable to stand up for several days. Some ten days later, having gone for a drive to get a little air, a carriage coming full gallop from a side street ran into mine, turning it over, and I was thrown, injuring my leg very badly again; so with all these accidents I was detained in Teheran long enough to witness the Shah's birthday, and with it, for a few days previous, the "actual drilling of the troops."

I have heard it said, but will not be responsible for the statement, that the troops are nearer their full complement on such an auspicious occasion than at any other time of the year, so as to make a "show" before his Majesty. Very likely this is true. When I was in Teheran a great commotion took place, which shows how things are occasionally done in the land of Iran. The ex-Minister of War, Kawam-ed-douleh, who had previously been several times Governor of Teheran, was arrested, by order of the Shah, for embezzling a half year's pay of the whole Persian army. Soldiers were sent to his country residence and the old man, tied on a white mule, was dragged into Teheran. His cap having been knocked off--it is a disgrace to be seen in public without a hat--his relations asked that he should be given a cap, which concession was granted, on payment of several hundred tomans. A meal of rice is said to have cost the prisoner a few more hundred tomans, and so much salt had purposely been mixed with it that the thirsty ex-Minister had to ask for copious libations of water, each tumbler at hundreds of tomans.


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