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This site © John Chapman, The Pedlar Press, 2008

The Author

An Excerpt from Chapter Ten - “Caravan to Quetta”:

“Then they were hit by a sand-storm. Without warning a gale-force wind took them from the side, almost overturning the van and shrouding them in dust. Hardly able to see, they inched forward into the shelter of a slight ridge, turned the vehicle rear-on to the wind, and sat there in the cab for what seemed like hours, waiting for the storm to blow itself out.

“When at last the wind dropped, they emerged and went round to check their living quarters. Everything was thickly covered in sand. They cleared up the worst of it, then decided to drive on. It looked as though the petrol was going to last out; but then, with just seventeen miles to go, the engine spluttered and died. There was nothing for it but to sit tight and wait for someone to come by.

“As they busied themselves cleaning more sand out of the van, they heard voices. They looked out – “and there stood four of the most brigandish-looking ruffians we ever saw. They were armed to the teeth with rifles, daggers and long knives. We were both frightened to death, but we put on a welcoming smile and they grinned back.”

“Guy knew a little Urdu, but the men spoke only Pushtu. With signs and much pointing, however, the problem was finally explained. Guy wrote a letter, addressed to the District Officer in Loralai, and gave it to the old man who was obviously the leader of the group. He in turn gave it to a younger man, with voluble instructions and much gesticulating. The young man jumped on a horse and galloped off towards the town. Peggie brewed tea, in a bucket, which the remaining men drank appreciatively. In return they produced some rather damp chappatis and some rancid hard-boiled eggs, which they insisted on sharing with a reluctant Peggie and Guy.

“It was now growing dark. Peggie signed that they would like to sleep, and she and Guy went into the caravan. The men curled up on the ground. They all slept.”

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