From the outside the village often has the appearance of some rude fortification, the houses practically joining each other and their mud-walls having few openings. Within, narrow and tortuous lanes form the only thoroughfares, which terminate in massive wooden doors, which are closed at night and guarded by the village watchman.
He found the courtyard a rain-lashed pond alive with frogs; a torrent of yellow water ran under the gate, and a roaring wind drove the bolts of the rain like buckshot against the mud-walls. Pir Khan was shivering in his little hut by the gate, and the horse was stamping uneasily in the water. 'I have been told the sahib's order, said Pir Khan. 'It is well. This house is now desolate.
Beside a winding creek of the Lynher River, and not far from the Cornish borough of Saltash, you may find a roofless building so closely backed with cherry-orchards that the trees seem by their slow pressure to be thrusting the mud-walls down to the river's brink, there to topple and fall into the tide.
The impression of Toser made upon our tourists agrees with that of the traveller, Desfontaines, who writes of it in 1784: "The Bey pitched his tent on the right side of the city, if such can be called a mass of mud-houses." The description corresponds also with that of Dr. Shaw, who says that "the villages of the Jereed are built of mud-walls and rafters of palm-trees."
Steep barren hills rise like islands from the plain, which is divided, by straight mud-walls, into large green fields. In these scarcely a tree grows excepting a few willows, and an occasional clump of bananas and of oranges.
Forty miles away, at our back, the conical peak of Demavend peeps, white, spectral, and cold, above a bank of snow-clouds that are piled motionless against its giant sides, as though walling it completely off from the lower world. On our left lies the city, a curious conglomeration of dead mud-walls, flat-roofed houses, and poplar-peopled gardens.
What fool among you is it would drag the whole lot of you down to perdition? Would that the heavens might fall upon you! would that these houses might bury you! would that ye might turn into four-footed beasts who can do nothing but bark! Lower your heads, ye wretched creatures, and go and hide yourselves behind your mud-walls!
It may be so, but it is not paradise now, and one would be as happy outside of it as he would be likely to be within. It is so crooked and cramped and dirty that one can not realize that he is in the splendid city he saw from the hill-top. The gardens are hidden by high mud-walls, and the paradise is become a very sink of pollution and uncomeliness.
The town was surrounded with a low mud-wall and stockade to keep off wild beasts, and as a slight protection against roving freebooters. Larger towns, especially those belonging to warrior chiefs, have high mud-walls, sometimes with loopholes and bastions, and are capable of standing a siege where the enemy has neither cannon nor battering-rams.
As the flat roofs were thickly covered with mats and grass whilst, except the doorway, the openings in the mud-walls were small, they were even in the glare of noontide heat, pleasantly cool and shady. The troops found that straw huts or tukals afforded far better protection than the tents from the sun and from dust-storms.