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Frank. Sir, you always speak as if you never rode except on horses, mules, or donkeys. Did you not ride sometimes in your carriage ?
Uncle Oliver. No. I had no carriage ; and if I had it would have been of no use to me. And now you put it in my mind, I think we cannot do better this evening than talk about the animals used in travelling, and the roads through which they have to travel.
Jane. What! are not all the roads in the world alike?
Henry. No, to be sure, Jane. In Russia roads are made with the trunks of trees.
U. O. Never mind what the roads in Russia are made with, Henry; but travel with me in the roads of Persia. In England, you know, the roads are laid with broken stones, and made level ; and sometimes there are, for many miles, nice footpaths by the side. When there is a hill, over which the horses could not easily drag a carriage, the road is cut down through it, so as to make it easier for them; and if there is a place near a road where a person might fall over a cliff, or down a hill, or into a ditch, then there is sure to be a fence of some kind or other to prevent accidents; and, indeed, the common roads are always fenced on both sides, either with a wall or a pretty green hedge.
J. With blackberries, and blossoms, and big daisies, and roses in it.
H. Dog-roses !
U. O. A dog-rose is better than no rose. I may describe a Persian road to you by saying that it has none of the things which belong to an English road.
II. Then, how are they made, Sir?
U. 0. That is the thing; they are not made at all. When one comes to a plain he sees no road, but a number of tracks which have been worn by the feet of the cattle, like the footpaths in a field, and the traveller may follow them or not as he pleases. In rainy weather, and in marshy grounds, the want of stones sometimes renders the ground so soft, that it is very difficult and tedious to get along. My horse has sometimes sunk so deep, that it could not be got out
again without much difficulty. In some places, where the road is very narrow and rocky, so that the cattle always walk in the same track, I have seen the path full of deep holes, worn in the solid rock by the action of their feet; and as their feet always slip into those holes if they do not put them in of their own accord, the poor beasts suffer much fatigue in continually lifting them out of the holes, and their feet are also much hurt by being knocked and pressed against the hard edges of these pits, which might be filled up with a little trouble; but nobody takes the trouble.
You know Persia is full of mountains; and these mountains must be passed over, not only by travellers on horseback, but by cattle with very heavy loads upon their backs. The paths over the mountains are called passes ; and some of them are very frightful to go over ; but nothing is done to make them safer or better. First one has to go over and among great rocks, where the horse is continually stumbling and slipping; then he has to go up a place so steep, that he must get off his horse and walk up; and then he must go down another place so steep, that he must get off to walk down; or if he