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类型:奇幻地区:Ϲ发布:2020-10-28 04:53:16

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At the end of the garden, in a little temple, is a statue of the holy man of the size of life, in his favourite attitude, sitting on his crossed legs. Round the image were the most absurd toysand a photograph of the German Emperor! As I was leaving, the fakir called me back, asked me to think of him sometimes, and gave me one of the splendid yellow roses that hung about him like a glory.At the bottom of the steps, almost in the street, was another school at the entrance to a temple. The children, in piercing tones, were all spelling together under the echoing vault, a terrible noise which seemed to trouble nobody.All the architectural details are effaced; parasites and creepers have overgrown the old-world carvings.

Colombo again; and again the jewellers and their blue stonesan intoxicating, living blue.And of all the victims of the disaster those I had just seen were not the most to be pitied. It was on families of high caste, men who might not work and whose wives must be kept in seclusion, that the famine weighed most cruelly. At first they borrowed money (and the rate of interest recognized and tolerated here is seventy-five per cent.), then they sold all they could sell. Bereft of every resource, unable to earn anything in any way, regarding the famine as an inevitable infliction by the incensed gods, they let themselves starve to death in sullen pride, shut up in their houses with their womankind. Thus they were the most difficult to rescue. Their unassailable dignity made them refuse what they would have regarded as charity, even to save the life of those dearest to them, and it needed the angelic craft of the women of the Zenana Mission to induce the kshatriyas to accept the smallest sum to keep themselves alive.A muffled sound of instruments, mingling in confusion in the myriad echoes, came dying on my ear, hardly audible. A gleam of light flashed in the corridor and then went out. Then some lights seemed to be coming towards me, and again all was gloom. An orchestra of bagpipes, of kemanches and darboukhas sounded close by me, and then was lost in the distance, and the phantasmagoria of lights still went on. At last, at the further end of the arcade where I was standing, two men raised green-flamed torches at the end of long poles, followed by two drummers and musicians playing on bagpipes and viols. Children squatting on the ground lighted coloured fire that[Pg 118] made a bright blaze, and died out in stifling smoke, shrouding the priestsa cloud hardly tinted by the torches.

Over the rice-fields, in the darkness, danced a maze of fire-flies, quite tiny, but extraordinarily bright; they whirled in endless streaks of flame, intangible, so fine that they seemed part of the air itself, crossing in a ceaseless tangle, faster and faster, and then dying out in diamond sparks, very softly twinkling little stars turning to silver in the moonlight.A funeral came pushing past me in the silence of this sleeping district: the body, wrapped in red, hung from a bamboo that rested on the bearers' shoulders. No one followed him, and the group disappeared at once in the deep gloom of the narrow alley.

By the side of the road, in the town, the walls are still standing, all that remains of a great hall in the palace of Secundra Bagh, in which, after the suppression of the Mutiny in 1857, two thousand sepoys who refused to surrender were put to death.From Lahore hither is an almost uninterrupted series of encampmentsEnglish and native regiments established in huts in the open fields far from every town, close only to the railway line. At one station a detachment of Indian guards were drawn up, and Abibulla declared from the number of men that they must be expecting a general at least; but nothing was discharged from the train but some cases of rupees, checked off by two English officers, and then carried to the barracks under the escort of sepoys.

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.

Flocks of almost tame partridges and wood-pigeons occupying the road did not fly till they were almost under the horses' feet, and all the way as we went, we saw, scampering from tree to tree, the scared little squirrels, grey with black stripes and straight-up bushy tails.[Pg 57]

A spell seemed to linger over this little bazaar, to slacken every movement and give the people an indolent grace. They spoke languidly in the shade of the awnings spread by the flower-sellers and the jewellers, who, with little ringing taps, were [Pg 95]hammering out minute patterns on silver anklets and necklaces.

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Inside, after going through a long array of rooms filled with sham European furniturehandsome chairs and sofas covered with plush, Brussels carpets with red and yellow flowers on a green groundwe came to the throne-room, an enormous, preposterous hall, which, with its rows of cane chairs and its machine-made Gothic woodwork, was very like the waiting-room or dining-room of an American hotel.Near her was another woman, gone mad, dancing, her skeleton limbs contorted in a caricature of[Pg 193] grace; and a child of some few months, like an undeveloped abortion, of the colour of a new penny, with a large head rolling on a neck reduced to the thickness of the vertebr?, and arms and legs no larger than knitting-pins, but, in a sort of mockery, the swollen belly of the fever-stricken. The eyes blinked in the little wrinkled face, seeking something in vacancy; it tried to cry, but the only sound was a feeble croak.

In the distance we heard a sound of pipes, and the merchant hastened out to call the nautch-girls, who began to dance in the street just below us, among the vehicles and foot-passengers. There were two of them; one in a black skirt spangled with silver trinkets, the other in orange and red with a head-dress and necklace of jasmine. They danced with a gliding step, and then drew themselves up with a sudden jerk that made all their frippery tinkle. Then the girl in black, laying her right hand on her breast, stood still, with only a measured swaying movement of her whole body, while the dancer in yellow circled round, spinning as she went. Next the black one performed a sort of goose-step with her feet on one spot, yelling a so-called tune, and clacking her anklets one against the other. Then, after a few high leaps that set her saree flying, the dance was ended; she drew a black veil over her head, and turned with her face to the wall. The other boldly asked for backsheesh, held up her hands, and after getting her money, begged for cakes and sugar.On entering the park the cocked turbans of the bodyguard again reminded us of the hats of the French Guards.

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