The sun cast broad satin lights on its bay coat, already dry; the light hoofs, the pretty head with dilated nostrils gave the creature dignity—it looked like a thoroughbred, really noble in its last rest; while the vultures and kites hovered round, waiting for us to be gone.
In the third-class carriages, where the compartments are divided by wooden lattice, among the bundles, the copper jars, and the trunks painted in the gaudiest colours, sit women in showy saree and decked in all their jewels; children in little silk[Pg 59] coats braided with tinsel, and open over their little bare bodies; men with no garment whatever but a loin-cloth or dhouti. There is endless chatter, a perpetual bickering for places, the bewilderment of those who lose themselves, shouts from one end of the station to the other, and in the foreground of the hubbub the incessant cries of the water and sweetmeat sellers.Still the tonga; uphill and down, over the hilly country, with a horizon of dull, low mountains, and the horses worse and worse, impossible to start but by a storm of blows. Towards evening a particularly vicious pair ended by overturning us into a ditch full of liquid mud. The sais alone was completely immersed, and appealed loudly to Rama with shrieks of terror. Abibulla on his part, after making sure that the sahibs and baggage were all safe and sound, took off his shoes, spread his dhoti on the ground, and made the introductory salaams of thanksgiving to the Prophet, while the coolie driver returned thanks to Rama.
My friend T——, long a resident in India, and quite unmoved by the habitual turmoil of the native Hindoos, finally settled the difficulty between the cabbage of the priests and the soldiers' goat; the men would put on hemp-shoes, and we also, over our leather boots; as to the belt and gun-slings, as they only touched the soldiers themselves, they could defile nothing and might be allowed to pass.All round the sanctuary, in niches under a square cloister, are three hundred and fifty alabaster Buddhas, all alike, with the same jewel in their forehead, and on their shoulders and round their bodies[Pg 61] gold bands set with imitation gems and cut glass. An old woman, who had come thither at daybreak, had prayed to each of these Buddhas; to each she had offered up the same brief petition, she had struck the three bells on her way, and she was now in the sanctuary, calling out a prayer while beating a gong that hangs from the arch. Meanwhile other worshippers were murmuring their invocations prostrate before the jewelled Buddha.
Next day was kept as the spring festival. Every man had a rose stuck into his turban, and a shirt embroidered in gold on the shoulders and breast. The women appeared in stiff and gaudy veil cloths, bedizened with trumpery jewellery. Everybody was gay; a little excited towards evening by arrack, and dancing, and singing to the eternal tom-toms. Even the fiercest men from the hills, with black[Pg 279] turbans and enormously full calico trousers that once were white, and shirts embroidered in bright silks, had set aside their ferocious looks and stuck roses in their pugarees, smiling at those they met.
At the door of the house the sick man's wife was washing a white robe, in which he would be dressed for the grave on the morrow. The nearest relation of the dying must always wash his garment, and the woman, knowing that her husband had the plague and was doomed, as she was required by ritual to prepare for the burial while her husband was yet living, wore a look of mute and tearless resignation that terrified me.Adinath, a Ja?n temple, is roofed with huge blocks of stone. The airy architecture is a medley of balconies, of pierced panels, of arcades in squares, in lozenges, in octagons; the two stories, one above the other, are on totally different plans, and along every wall, on every column and every balustrade runs a fatiguing superfluity of ornament, figures and arabesques repeated on the stone, of which not an inch is left plain.
Along Back Bay lies the Malabar Hill, a promontory where the fashionable world resides in bungalows built in the midst of gardens. Palm trees spread their crowns above the road, and on the rocks which overhang the path ferns of many kinds are grown by constant watering. The bungalows, square houses of only one storey, surrounded by wide verandahs, and covered in with a high, pointed roof, which allows the air to circulate above the ceilings, stand amid clumps of bougainvillea and flowering jasmine, and the columnar trunks of coco-palms, date trees, baobabs and areca palms, which refresh them with shade.Very gradually the measure quickened, the pitch grew shriller, and with faster and freer movements the bayadères were almost leaping in a sort of delirium produced by the increasing noise, and the constantly growing number of lights.Elephants, freshly painted, go past begging.
Then, suddenly, there was a clatter of tom-toms, and rattling of castanets, a Hindoo funeral passing by. The dead lay stretched on a bier, his face painted and horrible, a livid grin between the dreadful scarlet cheeks, covered with wreaths of jasmine and roses. A man walking before the corpse carried a jar of burning charcoal to light the funeral pile. Friends followed the bier, each bringing a log of wood, to add to the pyre as a last homage to the dead.A station on the road—the delightful days at Bunnoo left far behind.
There was always the same torture of the horses, too small and too lean for their work, galloping the five miles of the stage and then stopping dead on the spot, incapable of moving, hustled by the fresh team that rushed off on its wild career.And then we came away from this hospital, where no sister of charity, no woman even, had brought some little consolation or the kindliness of a smile to these dying creatures, whose wandering or frantic black eyes haunted me.详情
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