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wastes of salt and sand and poisoned water, through forests and glaciers that prop the sky, into valleys the wildest and most secret of the earth, that journey which no man of the West could make alone or undisguised and come alive into the uplands of China. And if he did, no man of all he met could understand the reason of his coming. They have no curiosity about us, the lands we live in, the things we live for. Why have we so continuing a curiosity about them? Is it that in those distant and silent places we would not once hear a factory whistle or see a railroad track? Is it the lure of their jealous seclusion? Of their cloudy antiquity? Is it a simple astonishment that men can be content with so little, find the sight of the sun enough, and the sound of known voices? Who knows but there might be in it some vague ancestral stirring of nostalgia or a secret question of our own unrest? What if, after all, they of the East see the end from the beginning, and live a life more intense than we? But even there whistles begin to sound. Nearer and nearer creep the rails that thread the ends of the world. And what then? I could never tell all I see in the desert at night.
In the daytime I am more concerned with what passes between our garden wall and the crumpled rim of the horizon. There is no great passing on that tawny slope save of light and shadow, for the highways all march out of the town in other directions. Runnels of
water flash in the sun at their seasons. In
Silence is so much the note of the place
more fantastically because of the
By H. G. DWIGHT
Author of "Stamboul Nights," "Like Michael," etc.
Illustrations by Wilfred Jones
With my own eyes I saw in the desert That the deliberate man outstripped him who had hurried on. The wind-footed steed is broken down in his course,
bare and pointed like a cone, pricks the horizon. Beyond it lies an invisible hollow, the farther edge of which marks the limit of my visible world.
Of the sights to be seen from the four sides of our house this view offers least. Yet because it is mine I like it, and because it is so open and solitary, and because the faithful Persian sun rarely disappoints me there of his morning miracle, and because at night stars hang there of a brilliancy I have never seen, and so low that I can watch them from my bed. And I am new enough from the West never to forget that those windows look into Asia. Beyond that uneven rim of the east lies Kum. Beyond Kum is the lut, that great desert which has small reason to be less renowned than Gobi and the Sahara. Beyond the lut are Afghanistan, and Kashmir, and Tibet.
In the morning the sun looks strange to me, because he is fresh from Tibet and Kashmir and Afghanistan. At night the stars make me wonder what other watchers see them-what riders of camels, what prowlers of the dark, what sitters by red embers. How many times have I made in imagination that journey eastward from my window,
water flash in the sun at their seasons. In the autumn and in the spring oxen tickle the earth with the little wooden plow of Asia. There is a time when I watch the rippling of wheat like a lake. That is also the time when I may hear, heightened by distance, a melancholy singing. Peasants. occasionally pass, with russet rags flapping about bare knees. A rare horseman gallops afar, his dark mantle eddying behind him. Mules and donkeys are less rare, tinkling from nowhere to nowhere.
wastes of salt and sand and poisoned
In the daytime I am more concerned
Silence is so much the note of the place that I was astonished one winter afternoon to hear a new sound, a jingle-jangle that grew louder as I listened. I was the more astonished because snow was deep on the ground, and passers had been fewer than ever. I went to the window to look. Camels! Out of the crack between Musalla and the town they came, the dark line of them lengthening obliquely across the snow till it reached the corner of the garden above ours. I am a child about camels. I shall never see enough of them. It is not only their strangeness, however, which for us of the West makes them the symbol of Asia. They are immensely decorative in themselves, though they are so much the color of the lands they live in that they have a curious power of invisibility, for creatures so large, unless you catch them against the sky. But the snow brought out the silhouettes of these the
more fantastically because of the loads lashed on each side of their humps. I caught glimpses of sad
dle-cloths and big saddle-bags woven like by its retainers. You the precious rugs of the country. Neck- of the effete West are laces of bright beads made another touch wont to the soft minof color, or dangling plaques of beads, istrations of the eterwith much blue in them to ward off nal feminine.
To us the evil eye. And the camels wore al- of Ecbatana is permitmost as many bells as beads. Some car- ted no such luxury. ried them around their necks in strings. I may note, however, A few beasts, bigger than the rest, had the exceptional case of one great copper bell slung from the sad
firengis with young dle, which rang out a slow ding-dong children. A lady of amid the general jingle-jangle. It made the land may then risk me think of Charpentier's "Impressions her reputation by end'Italie," and the way he suggests the tering the presence of tinkling of mule-bells. But this was some- corrupt Christian men. thing deeper and wilder, and evoked the She does so barefooted, endless marches of the desert.
in full trousers of a figThere were more camels in that cara- ured red print, loosely van than I had ever seen before. It did swathed in a length of not occur to me to count them until many black or white cloth of them were out of sight; then I counted covering her head and nearly three hundred. They marched in held for decency's sake single file in groups of six or seven, each in front of her mouth. group roped together like barges in a tow Custom, of course, will and led by a man. Many of the men had make her less metican odd Mongolian look in their little, ulous; but when a round fur caps, with the skin outside. stranger is present and The eyes
of almost all of them were in- her duties require the flamed from the glare of the sun on the use of both her hands, snow. Where had they come from? it is astonishing how Where were they going? I had no tongue ingenious she is in holdto ask, nor could I have understood if ing her veil in her teeth they told me. They disappeared at last and in keeping her back among the bare gardens. But that strange, on the quarter of peril. complicated music, punctuated by the deep There is another exceptional case to be notes of the big copper bells, sounded so noted of a country where laundresses are long in the thin winter air that I could more than likely to have smallpox in their not be sure when it ceased to sound. In- houses. They answer to the most romandeed, I often hear it now at night when I tic names: Deer, Sugar, Angel, Peacock, look at the low stars of the desert, ånd Parrot. To you, however, they are gethink of Afghanistan and Kashmir and nerically known as Sister. They carry Tibet.
on their operations in big blue-glazed bowls, preferably set on the ground near the clothes-lines, beside which they squat on their heels. I remember one of them who sent us one week a substitute. Inquiring into the matter, the khanum (that is, the mistress of the house) was told:
"She makes a petition: she will have a BELOW-STAIRS
child. But she will come next week.” THE most characteristic color of our And she did. house, to my inquisitive eye, is imparted The milking of a cow is one more ex
ignoble for man.
ceptional case, since such duties are too end of the stable, with a fireplace of
Here again a blue- their own, and rugs to cover the mud glazed bowl comes into use, being held floor. That is why there are so many between the knees of the operator. I rugs in Persia, the mud floors. And might add that for the complete success there is another good reason why so many of the operation it is considered necessary rugs are a little more or a little less than for the calf to be tied in sight of the cow. six feet long. A do-zar (two yards) is Otherwise the sacred fount infallibly goes all that your Persian needs in the way of dry. We had the greatest trouble to in- a bed, and if you have such a rug that is duce our underlings even to try the ex- not brand-new, you may
be sure that some periment of milking when no calf was in very picturesque-looking customer has sight.
That, I suppose, is why the Per- dreamed upon it the dreams of Asia. I
so unwilling to sell or to kill a fear that the dreams of our dependents calf, and why they are so tender of the are sometimes interrupted, for the roof little creatures. The first time the stork over their heads is a mud one, and being visited our stable, a small animal wrapped new, it is leaky. After a rain or a thaw, up against the cold in green felt was therefore, we hire the youth of the neighbrought blinking into the dining-room for borhood to play tag on it in order to pack us to admire. And we learned that the the mud the harder with their bare feet. calf spent its first night with the
The sahib— to my unpractised servants in their quarters.
ear that classic word sounds more These, I hasten to add, are not
like sah'b-complains that he never in the house. While there are,
knows how many servants we have. especially in Persia, very solid
One of his diversions is to ask the advantages in having servants out
klucen um how many more she has taken on. Persia follows the rest of
Asia in this regard, though as a matdisadvan
ter of fact we are not so dreadfully
attended as most of our neighbors. pear most plainly
Servants work for longer hours with ona winter morn
fewer outings than in America, but
each one does much less. The only We then have the choice
one of ours who makes us feel that a long way
he earns every shahi of his somewhat through the snow to
sketchy stipend is a youngster whose bang on the stable door
voice just begins to crack, a laborior of waiting for break
ous, quick-witted, and picturesque Their own break
infant named Abbas, after the uncle fast, and all their other
of the prophet. None of them is meals, the servants are
much more than a boy, for that matsupposed to provide for
It surprises me to see how themselves, primarily because
quickly they pick up our ways, which a firengi is an impure being,
to them must seem capricious and whose food and dishes are de
inexplicable beyond reason. I often filement to those of the faith,
wish I knew what their comments and secondarily because a fi
are. We sometimes catch rumors, rengi eats meats too strange
however, through confidences made for the palate of a Persian.
to the masters of other servants. We have reason to believe, however, that
When we go out to dinner our cook, at least in our house the Persians are our butler, or both, usually go, too, not too fastidious about our purity or to help in the kitchen or the dining-room. our menu. They have quarters at one
In fact, it is not good form for a person of
of the house at night, there are also tages, as will ap
ing after a party: