The song of birds in the mitigated atmosphere of the dying day came in from outside, for a moment almost drowning the pleader's weariful tones as he poured forth his statement, emphasized by sweeping gestures.
Over the gate and the door of the house light garlands, made of single flowers threaded like beads, swing in the breeze and scent the air.At the end of the day one of the beasts could do no more. A shiver ran through the limbs of the poor thing, which, as soon as it was released from the shafts, lay down, a stream of blood staining the[Pg 274] pale sand; and in an instant, with a deep sigh, it was stiff in death.Round a village well, enclosed by walls with heavy doors that are always shut at night, a perfect flower-bed of young women had gathered, slender figures wrapped in robes of bright, light colours, drawing water in copper jars. The sunbeams, dropping between the leaves of a baobab tree that spread its immense expanse of boughs over the well, sparkled on their trinkets and the copper pots, dappling the gaudy hues of their raiment with flickering gold.
At the polo-match in the evening the band played, and three ladies were present; in sign of the spring having come, a basket was hung to the branch of a tree, full of straw kept constantly wet by the coolies, and containing sundry bottles of soda-water.The ripe rice, in golden ears, is cut with sickles; a row of women in red gather it into sheaves, which men carry on their back, at once, to the next village, and there it is threshed out forthwith on floors but just swept.
On the shore, on the steps in front of the temples and round the holy images, in short, everywhere on this day, red powder was sprinkled to inaugurate[Pg 179] the month just beginning; a beggar, to secure the favour of the gods, had smeared his head and hands with it.The coachman we engaged at the station was a giant, with an olive skin and a huge, pale pink turban. He was clad in stuffs so thin that on his box, against the light, we could see the shape of his body through the thickness of five or six tunics that he wore one over another.
A very large temple, with its walls pierced in Persian patterns, contains fifty-two chapels behind pointed arches. In each chapel are four gods, all alike, of white plaster, all decked with the same jewels. In an angle of the vaulting a female figure, carved in the stone and wearing a tiara, holds an infant in her arms; this statue, with its long face and the rigid folds of the drapery, might have been transferred here from a gothic building.And to close the procession came more soldiers.
The view spread to the horizon of mauve-pink sky, very faintly streaked with green. We could see the white mass of Secunderabad, a town of English barracks, at the foot of chaotic red-brown rocks, looking like the heaped-up ruins of some city of the Titans; and among trees shrouded in blue smoke, Hyderabad, conspicuous for its two mosques—the tomb of the Empress and the Jumna Musjid, the mausoleum of the Nizams.
Here, once more, is the spectre of the mutiny that broke out in the Residency, of which the ruins may be seen in the middle of a park intersected by watercourses, the English flag still proudly waving over them.Another sanctuary holds an idol made of seven metals mingled to a pale golden hue. The statue is loaded with jewellery of silver and precious stones. On its head is a fan-shaped diadem starred with rubies. The walls and columns, of a dull purple, are decorated with gaudy mosaic of scraps of looking-glass set in brass along the lines of the mouldings.An interpreter translated to the accused the questions put by the judge, who understood the replies, though he was not allowed to speak excepting in English.
We set out from Srinagar in an ekka, drawn at a trot by our only horse. The driver, perched on the shaft almost by his steed's side, dressed in green with an enormous pink pugaree, flogged and shouted incessantly. The monotonous landscape went on and on between the poplars that border the road, extending as far as the blue circle of distant Himalayas. The valley was green with the first growth of spring; as yet there were no flowers. And till evening fell, the same horizon shut us in with mountains that seemed to recede from us.
Along the line were hedges of glaucous aloes, of[Pg 106] gynerium all plumed with white, and over every plant an inextricable tangle of baja, its pink flowers hanging in bunches.Down in the streets the houses looked ghostly blue in the moonlight, the cross roads, lighted with the warmer glow of a few lamps in red paper shades, alternating with the black darkness, in which it was just possible to discern cows and goats lying on the ground.
A New Year's dinner this evening at the Guest Bungalow. The prince, forbidden by his religion to eat with men who are not of his own caste, was represented by Mr. S——, the English engineer at Bhawnagar.详情
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