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Across Coveted Lands by Arnold Henry Savage Landor

Numerous photographs of the Shah


There was nothing in the furniture to appeal to one, the chairs and tables being of cheap bamboo of the familiar folding pattern such as are commonly characteristic of superior boarding-houses. In the way of art there was a large figure of a woman resting under a palm tree, a photographic enlargement of the Shah's portrait, and on the Shah's writing-desk two handsome portraits of the Emperor and Empress of Russia, the Emperor occupying the highest place of honour. Two smaller photographs of the Czar and Czarina were to be seen also in shilling plush frames on another writing-desk, by the side of an electric clock and night-light.

The eye was attracted by three terrestrial globes and an astronomical one with constellations standing on a table. A number of very tawdry articles were lying about on the other pieces of furniture; such were a metal dog holding a ten-shilling watch, paper frames, cheap imitation leather articles, numerous photographs of the Shah, a copy of the _Petit Journal_ framed, and containing a representation of the attempt on the Shah's life, an amber service, and last, but not least, the nut-cracker and the empty nutshells, the contents of which the Shah was in process of eating when I had an audience of him some days before, still lying undisturbed upon a small desk. The Shah's special chair was embroidered in red and blue.

All this was reflected myriads of times in the diamond-shaped mirror ceiling and walls, and the effect was somewhat dazzling. The room had a partition, and on the other side was an ample couch for his Majesty to rest upon. In each reception room is to be seen a splendid grand piano, the music of which, when good, the Shah is said passionately to enjoy. One of his aides de camp--a European--is an excellent pianist and composer.

We now come to the world-renowned "Jewelled-Globe" room, and of course one makes at once for the priceless globe enclosed in a glass case in the centre of the room. The frame of the large globe is said to be of solid gold and so is the tripod stand, set in rubies and diamonds. The Globe, to do justice to its name, is covered all over with precious stones, the sea being represented by green emeralds, and the continents by rubies. The Equator line is set in diamonds and also the whole area of Persian territory.

There is nothing else of great artistic interest here, and it depressed one to find that, although the portraits in oil and photographs of the Emperors of Russia and Austria occupied prominent places of honour in the Shah's apartments, the only image of our Queen Victoria was a wretched faded cabinet photograph in a twopenny paper frame, thrown carelessly among empty envelopes and writing paper in a corner of his Majesty's writing desk. Princess Beatrice's photograph was near it, and towering above them in the most prominent place was another picture of the Emperor of Russia. We, ourselves, may attach little meaning to these trifling details, but significant are the inferences drawn by the natives themselves.

In this room, as in most of the others, there is Bohemian glass in great profusion, and a "one year chronometer" of great precision. A really beautiful inlaid ivory table is disfigured by a menagerie of coloured miniature leaden cats, lions, lizards, dogs, a children's kaleidoscope, and some badly-stuffed birds, singing automatically. On another table were more glass vases and a variety of articles made of cockle shells on pasteboard, cycle watches, and brass rings with imitation stones.

Adjoining this room is a small boudoir, possessing the latest appliances of civilisation. It contains another grand piano, a large apparatus for projecting moving pictures on a screen, and an ice-cream soda fountain with four taps, of the type one admires--but does not wish to possess--in the New York chemists' shops!! The Shah's, however, lacks three things,--the soda, the ice, and the syrups!


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