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Across Coveted Lands by Arnold Henry Savage Landor

Sadek said I was lucky that it did come so soon


[Illustration:

The Shah and his Suite.

Prime Minister. General Kossakowski.]

It speaks volumes for the young Prince's pluck that, when the car was patched up, he insisted on driving it again; but the number of excuses and sudden complaints that have since prevailed among his father's friends when asked to go for a drive with the Prince are said to be quite unprecedented.

The Prince is a great sportsman and much beloved by all for his frankness and geniality.

CHAPTER XXIII

The selection of a servant--A Persian _diligence_--Shah-Abdul-Azim mosque--Rock carving--The round tower--Beggars--The _Kerjawa_--Hasanabad--Run-away horses--Misplaced affection--Characteristics of the country--Azizawad--Salt lake of Daria-i-Nimak--Aliabad--Sunsets.

I had much difficulty in obtaining a really first-class servant, although many applied with glowing certificates. It has always been my experience that the more glowing the certificates the worse the servant. For my particular kind of travelling, too, a special type of servant has to be got, with a constitution somewhat above the average. I generally cover very great distances at a high speed without the least inconvenience to myself, but I find that those who accompany me nearly always break down.

style="text-align: justify;">After inspecting a number of applicants I fixed upon one man whose features showed firmness of character and unusual determination. He was a man of few words--one of the rarest and best qualities in a travelling servant, and--he had no relations dependent upon him--the next best quality. He could shoot straight, he could stick on a saddle, he could walk. He required little sleep. He was willing to go to any country where I chose to take him. He required a high salary, but promised by all he held most sacred that he would die before he would give me the slightest trouble. This seemed all fair, and I employed him.

Only one drawback did this man have--he was an excellent European cook. I had to modify him into a good plain cook, and then he became perfection itself. His name was Sadek.

On October 2nd I was ready to start south. My foot was still in a bad condition, but I thought that the open air cure would be the best instead of lying in stuffy rooms. Riding is my favourite way of progression, but again it was necessary to submit to another extortion and travel by carriage as far as Kum on a road made by the Bank of Persia some few years ago. The speculation was not carried on sufficiently long to become a success, and the road was eventually sold to a Persian concern. The same company runs a service of carriages with relays of horses between the two places, and if one wishes to travel fast one is compelled to hire a carriage, the horses not being let out on hire for riding purposes at any of the stations.

This time I hired a large diligence--the only vehicle in the stables that seemed strong enough to stand the journey. It was painted bright yellow outside, had no windows, and was very properly divided into two compartments, one for men and one for women. The money for the journey had to be paid in advance, and the vehicle was ordered to be at the door of the hotel on Friday, October 4th, at 5.30 a.m.

It arrived on Sunday evening, October 6th, at 6.30 o'clock. So much for Persian punctuality. Sadek said I was lucky that it did come so soon; sometimes the carriages ordered come a week later than the appointed time; occasionally they do not come at all!


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