The hills about Akrob[=a]d are so situated as to form a funnel for all the winds of the snowy range, rendering the temperature of the little table-land bitterly cold both in summer and winter—so much so in winter, that the Huz[=a]reh inhabitants desert the fort in autumn for some more sheltered locality, and return again with the spring.
We now entered Toorkisth[=a]n, the pass of Akrob[=a]d dividing it from Affghanist[=a]n. Should the traveller form his opinion of the country beyond by the specimen now before us, he would be loth indeed to proceed, for a more dismal corner can hardly be conceived. The outline of the adjacent mountains was dreary and uninviting, with very little cultivation in the valley, which also bore a most desolate aspect—it was barren and unpromising, without participating in the wild and grand features which generally characterize these regions. Fuel was with difficulty procured, and our camp was but scantily furnished with even the most necessary supplies.
On the 1st of July we left this sad region, and pitched our tents some five miles further onwards, in a pleasant meadow, where we met a brother of Dost Mahommed, the well-known Sird[=a]r Jubber Kh[=a]n, who arrived in the course of the day from the interior of Toorkist[=a]n, and encamped close to us. He was then on his way to Cabul, having in charge the women and children belonging to the seraglio of the ex-king. He invited us to pay him a visit, which we did in uniform, and found him an agreeable old gentleman, with manners far more polished than the generality of his countrymen, who, though not deficient in a certain national savage grace, frequently shock our European notions of propriety by their open disregard of what we are accustomed to consider the decencies of society; but Jubber Kh[=a]n seemed to have all the good qualities and few of the vices so prevalent in the Affgh[=a]n character. No doubt that superior polish of manner was derived from his more extensive intercourse with Europeans. During our visit he presented us each with a small silver Mahommedan coin, saying at the same time with peculiar grace and dignity that he was now a poor man, and entirely dependent on the generosity of the British; that the coin was of no intrinsic value, but still he hoped we would remember the donor. Much as we respected the character of our host, I could not but regret that he had not yet picked up the English habit of sitting on a chair; for what with tight pantaloons and a stiff uniform, I got so numbed by sitting cross-legged like a tailor, that when the interview was over I could not rise from my cramped position without assistance, much to the amusement of Jubber Kh[=a]n, whose oriental gravity was entirely upset.