The play was Gul-E-Bakaoli.
A tea-party in the afternoon at the yacht club. The ladies in smart dresses, the talk all of fashionable gossip—how far away from all I had been seeing. An European atmosphere, where a touch of local colour was only suggested by the native servants. The plague, the ruling terror when I was last in Bombay, was forgotten; the only subject now was the Jubilee, and the latest news from England arrived by that day's mail.A delightful surprise was a museum of Indian art, the first I had seen, a fine collection and admirably arranged;[A] but the natives who resorted hither to enjoy the cool shelter of the galleries talked to each other from a distance, as is their universal custom, at the top of their voices, which rang doubly loud under the echoing vaults.
Amid the cool rush of a myriad streams is a garden, the loveliest in the world; the broad paths are shaded by cedars, banyans, palms, and crotons with purple and orange leaves. Under the garlands of gorgeous flowered climbers are hedges of roses of every shade, and shrubs starred with lavender and blue. In the ditches, above the water-plants strewn with petals like hoar-frost, grows a carpet of pale lilac cineraria.
This Dilbar was a boy with a more woolly wig than the others, and to emphasize her sex wore a monstrous display of trinkets round her neck and arms, in her ears and nose.And suddenly, emerging from the ruins, we came on a Moslem street with high walls, windowless, and waving plumes of banyan and palm trees rising above the houses.
Then, in a blaze of coloured fire, a fortissimo of music, and a whirlwind of drapery, they stopped exhausted in front of the idol. The lights were put out, the tom-toms were the only sound, and the procession moved on, escorting the shrine which glittered for some time yet, till it disappeared at an angle, leaving the temple in darkness just tinted blue by the moon.There was not a living thing in the silence and overheated air—not a bird, not a fly; and beyond the houses lay the plain once more, a monotonous stretch of dead whiteness, the unspeakable desolation of murderous nature, henceforth for ever barren.
Tazulmulook on his way meets a blind man, whom he restores to sight by the help of the magical flower; the man relates the story of the cure to the four brothers, who quickly follow up Tazulmulook and presently overtake him. After a short conflict they rob him of the talisman and fly. The young prince is in despair, but as he wrings his hands he rubs Bakaoli's ring and the dragon instantly appears. Tazulmulook commands him forthwith to build a palace in front of that of King Zainulmulook.
In the evening, as I again went past the Towers of Silence, the palm trees were once more crowded with sleeping birds gorged with all the food sent them by the plague. On the other side of Back Bay, above the Field of Burning, a thick column of smoke rose up, red in the last beams of the crimson sun.The people came back to the dancing, which went on till daylight. The music could be heard in the distance, drowned from time to time by the yelling of the jackals or the watchman's call, and it was not till daybreak that the drumming ceased.
After her another woman repeated the ceremony, and then they went away, still singing. This went on for part of the evening. When it was all over they went to eat rice at the bridegroom's house, and meanwhile the same ceremony had been performed with the bride, whom her neighbours had taken it by turns to anoint and perfume, in a house closed against prying eyes.A few officers, a few clergy only, had organized some distribution of relief; the administration,[Pg 197] wholly indifferent, was drawing double pay in consideration of the increase of work in famine time.High in the air, in the first mausoleum, at the head and foot of the white marble cenotaph, covered with letters that look like creepers, are tablets bearing inscriptions which record the life of the hero; and above the sarcophagus rises an almost impossibly light and airy structure—a canopy of white marble supported on columns as slender as flower-stems.详情
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