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Across Coveted Lands by Arnold Henry Savage Landor

It was an almost spherical tumour


A few hundred yards from this well-preserved rock carving, a round tower 90 or 100 feet in height has been erected. Its diameter inside is about 40 feet and the thickness of the wall about 20 feet. It has two large yellow doors. Why this purposeless structure was put up, nobody seems to know for certain. One gets a beautiful view from the top of the wall--Teheran in the distance on one side; the Shah-Abdul-Azim mosque on the other. Mountains are close by to the east, and a patch of cultivation and a garden all round down below. Near the mosque--as is the case with all pilgrimage places in Persia--we find a bazaar crammed with beggars, black bag-like women riding astride on donkeys or mules, depraved-looking men, and stolid-looking Mullahs. There were old men, blind men, lame men, deaf men, armless men, men with enormous tumours, others minus the nose or lower jaw--the result of cancer. Millions of flies were buzzing about.

One of the most ghastly deformities I have ever seen was a tumour under a Mullah's foot. It was an almost spherical tumour, some three inches in diameter, with skin drawn tight and shining over its surface. It had patches of red on the otherwise whitish-yellow skin, and gave the impression of the man resting his foot on an unripe water-melon with the toes half dug into the tumour.

Non-Mussulmans are, of course, forbidden to enter the mosque, so I had to be content with the outside view of it--nothing very grand--and must take my reader again along the flat, uninteresting country towards Kum.

The usual troubles of semi-civilised Persia are not lacking even at the very first stage. There are no relays of horses, and those just unharnessed are too tired to proceed. They are very hungry, too, and there is nothing for them to eat. Several hours are wasted, and Sadek employs them in cooking my dinner and also in giving exhibitions of his temper to the stable people. Then follow endless discussions at the top of their voices, in which I do not take part, for I am old and wise enough not to discuss anything with anybody.

The prospects of a backshish, the entreaties and prayers being of no avail, Sadek flies into a fury, rushes to the yard, seizes the horses and harness, gives the coachman a hammering (and the post master very nearly another), and so we are able to start peacefully again at three a.m., and leave Chah-herizek behind.

But the horses are tired and hungry. They drag and stumble along in a most tiresome manner. There is moonlight, that ought to add poetry to the scenery--but in Persia there is no poetry about anything. There are a great many caravans on the road--they all travel at night to save the animals from the great heat of the day--long strings of camels with their monotonous bells, and dozens of donkeys or mules, some with the covered double litters--the _kerjawa_. These _kerjawas_ are comfortable enough for people not accustomed to ride, or for women who can sleep comfortably while in motion inside the small panier. The _kerjawa_ is slung over the saddle like two large hampers with a roof of bent bands of wood. A cloth covering is made to turn the _kerjawa_ into a small private room, an exact duplicate of which is slung on the opposite side of the saddle. Two persons balancing each other are required by this double arrangement, or one person on one side and an equivalent quantity of luggage on the other so as to establish a complete balance--a most important point to consider if serious accidents are to be avoided.


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