Page images
PDF
EPUB

its well chosen position, which unites, by a commercial chain, Persia and Afghanistan with India, Peshour has become an important mart, and the residence of wealthy merchants; especially of the shaul dealers, many of whom disliking the dangerous and tedious route of Kashmire, are here enabled to make their purchases at a moderate advance on the first cost. I found a small society of Jews at Peshour, living at their ease, and in the enjoyment of an unreserved protection.

The heat of Peshour seemed to me more intense, than that of any country I have visited in the upper parts of India. Other places may be warm; hot winds blowing over tracts of sand, may drive us under the shelter of a wetted skreen; but at Peshour, the atmosphere, in the summer solstice, becomes almost inflammable. Yet it must be noticed, in favour of its salubrity, even in this torrid state, that the people enjoy uncommonly good health, and are little subject to epidemical disorders. The markets are abundantly supplied with provisions of an excellent kind, particularly the mutton, which is the flesh of the large tailed sheep, said to have been first discovered in South America. Though the city is to much frequented by merchants and travellers, it has no karavan*era; and I thought myself fortunate in procuring

admittance into an old mosque, where I continued for many days to dissolve in an unremitting state of perspiration, the mention of which leads me to an occurrence, that involved me in great perplexity. AT Kashmire, a part of my property had been converted into a bill of five hundred rupees, on Kabul, which was lodged in a canvas belt, that served me as a girdle; on examining the condition of the bill at Peshour, I found the writing so much obliterated by perspiration, that no one could read, or even conjecture its subject; from beginning to end, it had literally a black appearance. The apprehension of the evident difficulties which would attend my want of money, in a country where the most sanguine hope could promise no assistance, and the necessity of mixing in societies, void of every good or rational principle, occasionally operated in depressing my spirits. But the desire which had originally impelled the journey, and the zeal which had hitherto maintained its pursuit, at length dissipated these gloomy impressions, and in gay colours, described a various scene of future pleasure. BEING informed that a kafilah was immediately procceding to Kabul, I hired a mule, and went to the adjacent village of Tackal, the usual rendezvouz of travellers, going to the westward. On

my arrival there, I learned, that the great kafilah still contiuued at Peshour, and that only some horsemen, confiding in their speed and arms, had

moved early in the morning towards Kabul. A

reflection on the predicament in which I then stood, the slow pace of my mule, which had more the appearance of an ass, and the representation of the muleteer, whose fears prompted innumerable falsitics, slackened my strong inclination to escape from the heats of Peshour, and after making a fruitless attempt to overtake the horsemen, I returned to my lodging in the mosque. Sauntering one day in the bazar, the common resort of idle, as well as busy people, I saw a person, with whom I had travelled from Muzzufferabad to Enayet Serau. We agreed, as our road was the same, to travel together, and in the mean time to share the same fare. So cordial is the pleasure resulting from society, so naturally do wc cling on each other, whether for support or amusement, that I immediately looked on this man as an approved friend, and felt a confidence from the connection, which set my mind at perfect case. On enquiry into the finance of my associate, whose name was Noor Mahomed, I discovered, that he possessed in cash, one rupee, on which himself, a boy and a horse were to be subsisted, until his arrival at Kabul, a journey of twelve or fourteen days; I perceived also, that on the expenditure of this sum, he would seek an aid from me. Fully apprized of the danger, as well as inconveniency of disclosing the amount of my . property, I gravely told Noor Mahomed, that I had then no more than three rupees, which, with his single one, should be placed in a joint fund, and that on it and providence, we must trust until our arrival at the capital. The Mahometan, with a countenance brightening with faith and zeal, exhorted me to be of good cheer; for that true believers were never deserted in the hour of need. ON the 25th of July, accompanying a large kafilah, in which a portion of the Kashmire tribute, invested in shauls, was conveyed, we proceeded to the village of Tackal, three cosses, where we laid in a provision for three days journey, the ensuing tract of country, for that distance, being thinly inhabited. ON the 26th, at Timrood, four cosses, a fortified small village, situate on the south side of a range of rocky mountains, which reflected a scorching heat on the plain beneath. The inhabitants of this village, genuine Afghans, have little respect, though residing so near Peshour, for either the person of Timur Shah, or his government, which was in some degree evinced

during our halt. The governor of Kashmire had sent with our kafilah, for the use of the prince, four large dogs of Thibet, which were carried in litters, and attended with much care. The keepers had led them to drink at a pond, where an Afghan woman was filling her pitcher, but, on seeing these animals, which the Mahometans hold unclean, she put it down, and by a shower of stones, and abuse, drove the whole party from the place, loudly calling at the same time on the villagers to her assistance, which she little needed. The Afghans immediately assembled and completed the rout of the dogs and their keepers, bestowing on the Shah, also, very contemptuous language ; nor were they suffered to return to the pond, until escorted by the kafilah guard. On the 27th, at Dickah, eighteen cosses, a small village, standing on the southern bank of the Kabul, or Attock river, which here runs to the right, or eastward. At the distance of about two miles from Timrood, we entered a narrow defile, which intersects the chain of mountains lying to the north of the village. At the entrance of the pass, the Afghans stopped the kafilah, and, excepting some troops of the Shah, levied a small contribution on all the passengers; they receive, also, an annual sum from the government of Peshour, for permitting travellers to pass unmol

« PreviousContinue »