At the top, facing two immense rocks that look like couchant lions, there was another palace; one[Pg 100] wall alone is left standing; on the creamy marble a peacock spreads its tail, carved into very delicate sprays and flowers.
The temples were already closed, but my servant, Abibulla, diverted the attention of the gatekeeper, and I stole unseen into the outer precincts.From the broad steps on the shore other narrower flights lead to archways and porticoes, or zigzag up to the lanes that make a gap of distant blackness in the light-hued mass of palaces and embankments.
In the shops the salesmen, to weigh their merchandise, had a strange collection of curious weights—dumps, rings, balls of copper, iron, or lead, stamped or inlaid with symbols and flowers; fragments of spoons to make up too light a weight, even pieces of wood; and they used them all with perfect readiness and never made a mistake.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.In the evening to the theatre—a Parsee theatre; a large tent, reserved for women on one side by a hanging of mats. The public were English soldiers and baboos with their children, and in the cheapest places a packed crowd of coolies.
[Pg 119][Pg 94]
"Yes, I know. How much?"The fourteen hundred and fifty-two gods of the Ja?n paradise are represented on a sculptured pyramid under a pagoda: little tadpoles of white stone crowded together, two black dots showing for eyes in the middle of the round featureless faces; on one side a more important god, sitting alone, has a rather less elementary countenance.The four sons of the king presently come to a town. They ring at the door of a house inhabited by a woman who, as the little English translation tells us, carries on a foul trade, and Dilbar the dancing-girl appears.
All the men carry fighting quails in little cages made of a net stretched over a wooden tray and cone-shaped at top. Towards evening, in the shade of the houses, at the street corners, in the courtyards—everywhere, there is a group betting on the chances of a fight. The birds taken out of the cages at first turn slowly round each other, their beaks close together. Then a spring, a flutter of wings and flying feathers; the quails strike and peck, aiming at the head, and then suddenly they seem quite indifferent and turn round and round again, picking up grain from the ground. When a[Pg 284] bird is killed at the end of a battle, its eyes blinded and its breast torn open, it is considered a fine, a noble spectacle, and amateurs will talk of it for a long time. As a rule, after a few rounds one of the birds tries to get away. Then its owner pricks its neck with a knife, and the gasping creature dies slowly in the dust, the blood oozing drop by drop.
And from every stone, and in the rifts in the rocks, hung stalactites, like glittering icicles, and these too were of salt.Further away, in another quite small temple, a young Brahmin robed in white, and very handsome, was reading the Ramayana to two women; the three quite filled the little building. The entrance was screened by a curtain composed of jasmine flowers threaded on fine string, and behind this veil of flowers the three figures looked like the creatures of a legend. Outside the sanctuary, seated on the steps and flagstones and obstructing the street, were a score or so of women redolent of lemon and[Pg 178] sandal-wood, and listening to the scripture distinctly chanted out by the young priest.
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 toys—and 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.The old king is at once cured; he embraces his sons again and again. After this emotion the first thing he remarks is the new palace that has sprung from the ground exactly opposite his own.
Next morning—so far, so high on the horizon! I saw a pink spot; then, as day broke, the rose colour spread—broader, lower, turned paler, then to white, and the Himalayas lay before me in blinding glory of size and light. Kinchinjunga, at a measureless distance, looked in the clear air as if it were quite close; and round the sovereign giant other giants rent their wrappings of cloud, an amphitheatre of peaks of dazzling whiteness lost against the sky, and almost insensibly fading away behind the vapour that rolled up from the abysses, grew[Pg 148] thicker, and settled into a compact mass over the lost summits, hiding the nearer heights and shrouding Darjeeling in opaque white fog.
A plain of dried mud, dull grey, with scarcely a tinge of yellow in places; all round the horizon softly undulating hills which looked transparent, here a tender blue, there delicately pink, in flower-like hues. One of them, rising above all the eastern chain, might be a fortress, its towers alone left standing amid the general wreck. To the west the highest summits were lost in the blue of the sky, identically the same, but that the peaks were faintly outlined with a delicate line of snow.On quitting Hyderabad, to the right and left of the iron road, the landscape was for a long way the same; rocks, that looked as if they had been piled up and then rolled over, lay in russet heaps among peaceful little blue lakes without number, breaking the monotony of the wide, scorched fields, a sheet of pure gold. At one of the stations a beggar was rattling his castanets furiously, and singing something very lively and joyous. At the end of each verse he shouted an unexpected "Ohé!" just like the cry of a Paris ragamuffin.详情
Copyright © 2020