Outside the night is moonless, deep blue. Venus seems quite close to us, shining with intense brightness, and the jasmines scent the air, softly lighted by the lanterns which burn out one by one.Near this tomb is a stele with the dish on the top of it in which the Koh-i-noor was found. In the crypt of the mosque, at the end of a passage, is a vaulted room lined with stucco and devoid of ornament, and here is the burial place of Akbar, a mound covered with lime. The sarcophagus above, at the foot of which the Koh-i-noor once blazed, is but the replica of this.
Above Darjeeling—a modern and fashionable health-resort, a town of villas, for the most part with corrugated iron roofs—hangs a dense mist, cutting off the horizon at a distance of a few miles; and through the dull substance of this fleece, at an impossible height, there was a reflection—a mirage, an illusion, a brighter gleam, a bluer shadow, which might be the top of a mountain; but so high up, so far away, and above all so transient, that it failed to fix itself on the memory, blotted out at once by the pallid wall that shut[Pg 147] in the scene. But at sunset one thickness of the haze melted away, unveiling, leagues on leagues away, a chain of giant mountains, not yet the snowy peaks, but bright-hued cliffs on which gold and purple mingled in symphonies before dying into violet, turning to blue in the moonlight; and the mists fell once more—a shroud at our feet, an abyss of shadows, in which the tea-planters' lamps twinkled through the darkness.After passing through the town, all flowery with green gardens, at the end of a long, white, dusty road, where legions of beggars followed me, calling me "Papa" and "Bab," that is to say father and mother, I arrived at the residence of the Gaekwar, the Rajah of Baroda. At the gate we met the palace sentries released from duty. Eight men in long blue pugarees and an uniform of yellow khakee (a cotton stuff), like that of the sepoys, with their guns on their shoulders, looked as if they were taking a walk, marching in very fantastic step. One of them had a bird hopping about in a little round cage that hung from the stock of his gun. Three camels brought up the rear, loaded with bedding in blue cotton bundles.
Down the middle of the Ganges a white bundle is being borne, and on it a crow pecking the body of a child wrapped in its winding-sheet.In the heart of Agra towards evening people were busy in the square of the Jumna Musjid stretching pieces of stuff over rather low poles to form a tent. Then in long file came the labourers from a famine-camp, with their sleep-walking gait, their glassy eyes, their teeth showing like those of a grinning skull. Rags in a thousand holes scarcely covered the horrors of their fleshless bodies.
At Jané the pagodas are of red stone. The largest, conical in shape, covers with its ponderous roof, overloaded with sculptured figures of gods and animals, a very small passage, at the end of which two lights burning hardly reveal a white idol standing amid a perfect carpet of flowers. Round the sacred tank that lies at the base of the[Pg 45] temple, full of stagnant greenish-white water, are flights of steps in purple-hued stone; at the angles, twelve little conical kiosks, also of red stone and highly decorated, shelter twelve similar idols, but black. And between the temples, among the few huts that compose the village of Jané, stand Moslem mausoleums and tombs. Verses from the Koran are carved on the stones, now scarcelyl visible amid the spreading briars and garlands of creepers hanging from the tall trees that are pushing their roots between the flagstones that cover the dead.Here in southern India the women wear hardly any trinkets, and their garb consists of sarongs and sarees, so thin that their shape is visible through the light stuff. In their hair, which is knotted low on the neck, they stick flowers, and occasionally light trailing sprays fall down on the throat. They all have gold studs screwed into the two upper front teeth; hideous are these two red-gold teeth among the others, sound and white under young lips!
Huge vultures were prowling about the place.[Pg 222] At our approach they flapped a little away, and then perching on a heap of stones preened their feathers with clumsy, ungraceful movements.Beyond the temples is the merchants' quarter: a few very modest shops, the goods covered with dust; and in the middle of this bazaar, a cord stretched across cut off a part of the town where cholera was raging.
The young prince then goes on his way in search of the magical flower. He is about to rest awhile in a cavern, but at the moment when he lies down on a stone it is transformed into a monster made of bladder, which rears itself enraged in the air with a trumpet-cry. By good luck the king's son calls upon the aid of the prophet Suleiman, whom the dragon also reveres, and the pacified monster conveys Tazulmulook to the garden of Bakaoli, and, moreover, gives him a ring which will be a talisman in danger.
"Ah, your Kali, then?"
Music in the evening, in the gardens which surround the library, the chapel, and the tennis[Pg 286] courts. The ladies' dresses and the uniforms were lustrous in the moonlight. First we had the regimental band, and then songs to a banjo accompaniment; and all about us in the tall trees, the minahs and parrots shrieking as if it were broad daylight, finished the concert by themselves. A huge creeper, swaying between two branches, hung like a curtain of yellow flowers embroidered, as it seemed, on the airy tangle of leaves.
A tea plantation—a garden of large shrubs pruned[Pg 293] in such a way as to secure the greatest possible growth of young shoots, and above the delicate tea plants a shady hedge of fan palms and taller trees. The leaves are gathered by day, spread in the evening on hurdles and left for the night in open sheds. On the morrow they are first thrown into a sort of bottomless square funnel which revolves on a board; rolled and broken in this machine they are ready for drying. The tea passes through twenty grades of increasing temperature, and in drying it gives out the most delightful aroma—a mixture of sweetbriar, seaweed, and violets, with a scent of tea too. The leaves are finally sifted, which sorts them in four sizes into boxes containing the different qualities.
GWALIORAt the bazaar we were positively hunted as customers; the clamour was harassing, and everything was displayed for sale in the open street, while the owner and his family crowded round us and hindered us from going a single step further.详情
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