Next came a long file of carts, conveying cases of goods "made in Manchester," or loaded, in unstable equilibrium, with dry yellow fodder like couch grass, eaten by the horses here; and they struggled along the road which, crossing the limitless plain, appeared to lead nowhere.Last year he and his brother had gone into the mausoleum of a Moslem saint with their shoes on; both had gone mad. The other brother died in a madhouse, where he was cared for; this one, incurable but harmless, went about the highways, followed by the dogs.
Two old women had a quarrel, and all the neighbourhood came out to look on.
Under the cool shade of evening, the softening[Pg 44] touch of twilight, all this sculptured magnificence assumes an air of supreme grandeur, and calls up a world of legends and beliefs till the temples seem to recede, fading into the vapour of the blue night.At last the bridegroom goes up the steps. The mother-in-law repeats the circular wave of welcome over the young man's head with rice and sugar and an egg and a coco-nut; then she takes the garland, already somewhat faded, from his neck, and replaces it by another twined of gold thread and jasmine flowers, with roses at regular intervals. She also changes his bouquet, and receives the coco-nut her son-in-law has carried in his hand.
Asses followed, oxen and more camels, loaded beyond their strength with old iron, tin pannikins, a whole cargo of goods in cases from Manchester and Sheffield—so badly packed that things came clattering down as the beasts pushed each other amid oaths and blows.
Presently three beggar-women came up to sing from door to door. In their arms, like babies at the breast, they carried shapeless idols painted red, bedizened with spangles and gilt paper. They wailed out a ditty repeated again and again, knocked perseveringly at the doors, insisting on alms; and[Pg 96] then, when they had received it, they touched the threshold with their blood-coloured puppets and departed.
One of my sepoys was lying asleep in the [Pg 82]verandah of the bungalow. A variety of articles hung from his belt: an antelope's horn made into a powder-flask, several tassels of red and green silk threaded in a row, a triple chain of copper serving to hang up lamps in front of the sacred images, a small damascened knife in a crimson velvet sheath, and a tiny yellow earthenware bottle containing kohl.One after another I made my salaam to Siva, seated on a peacock; to Ganesa, looking calm and knowing; to Parvati, riding a bull; to Siva again, this time pinning a dragon to the ground with a fork, a writhing reptile with gaping jaws and outspread wings; the same god again, with a child in[Pg 121] his arms; and again, holding his leg like a musket up against his shoulder with one of his four hands, the other three lifting a bull, a sceptre, and a trophy of weapons above his head.
As we stood up there the caravan for Cabul came in sight on the road below, and slowly disappeared wrapped in dust, with mechanical steadiness and[Pg 250] without a sound. After that came the other train of travellers from Peshawur, singing to the accompaniment of mule-bells, every sound swelled by the echo. Children's laughter came up to our ears, the scream of an elephant angry at being stopped—even at a distance we could still hear them a little—and then silence fell again under the flight of the eagles soaring in circles further and further away as they followed the caravan.
THE ENDAs I was leaving, the fakir rose amid the cries of all the people, who clamoured for his blessing. He[Pg 246] silenced them by a sign, then laying one hand on my shoulder, after looking at my medal—A desolate strand, all the vegetation burnt by the sun and the sea-breeze. The pearl-oyster, which made the fortune of the district, disappeared four years since, and has migrated to other parts. The fisheries no longer pay, and the boats are dropping to pieces on the beach, while the divers beg, decimated by want.
At the end of the garden are the bird sellers, their little cages packed full of parrots, minahs, and bulbuls; and tiny finches, scarcely larger than butterflies, hang on the boughs of ebony trees and daturas in bloom.Spread before us in the iridescent atmosphere, the view extends over Palitana under its blue veil of light smoke, over the verdant plain chequered with plots of brown earth, and the winding ribbon of the Satrunji, a river as sacred to the Ja?ns as the Ganges is to the Brahmins. And far away, vague in the distance, a light shimmering more brightly where all is bright, lies the luminous breadth of the sea.There was nobody in the garden of the mausoleums, not even the usual obsequious and mendicant attendant. Only by the tomb of Purvez a moollah was kneeling in prayer, motionless, and wrapped in some very light white material, which the wind gently stirred and blew up. All the time I was examining the mausoleums he prayed on, prostrate, immovable; and even from afar, from the road, I could see him still, like a stone among the marble work, at the feet of the hero who sleeps his last in mid-air.详情
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