2021-04-17 01:25:34

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ENGLISH The sorcerer hesitated, and only after much persuasion said slowly and gravely

Inside, the walls are panelled with mosaic of carnelian and chalcedony, representing poppies and funkias, so fragile-looking, so delicate, that they seem real flowers blooming in front of the marble. And marble screens, carved into lace-work, filling the high doorways and the windows, admit a tender amber-toned light.

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 "Oh!" just like the cry of a Paris ragamuffin.At night, when the fog had at last cleared off, a column of fire was piled up on the engine; it shone[Pg 154] on the smooth trunks of the "flame of the forest," which looked like the pillars of a cathedral, on the sparkling water-springs all hung about with prayer-strips, on the veronica shrubs covered with flowers and as tall as trees, and the sheaves of bamboo and fern; or it lighted up the hanging screen of creepers, the impenetrable jungle growth that shut in the silence of the sleeping forest.Past the buildings, and palaces with gardens enclosed behind pierced stonework, and then across fresh green fields full of flowers, under the shade of banyans and palm trees, we reached the temple of the monkeys. This temple, dedicated to the fierce and bloodthirsty goddess Durga, is painted all over of a vivid red colour, blazing in the sunshine with intolerable brightness. Inside the sanctuary a black image of the goddess may be seen, mounted on her lion, and flowers are arranged about her in radiating lines mingled with gold thread, and producing very much the effect of a theatrical sun. In the [Pg 162]forecourt, on the carvings and the roof of the temple monkeys swarm, rushing after each other, fighting for the grains of maize that are thrown to them, and tormenting the wretched mangy dogs that seek refuge in the temple precincts, where they, too, are kept alive by the faithful.

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All round the Rajah's palace crowds a town of palaces, mosques, and temples dedicated to Vishnu; and outside the walls, on a plain lying between the hills of Amber, is another town, still thick with ruins amid the forest of encroaching trees. And it is all dead, deserted, dust-coloured, unspeakably sad, with the sadness of destruction and desertion in the midst of a landscape gorgeous with flowers and groves. In the palace of Amber, guides make a good[Pg 216] business of showing us the public rooms, baths, and bedrooms, all restored with an eye to the tourist. In the gardens, heavy with perfume, the trees display swinging balls of baked earth full of holes, which protect the ripening fruit from the monkeys; a whole tribe of them scampered off at our approach, and went to torment the peacocks that were solemnly promenading a path, and that presently flew away.Here, even more than at Lucknow, are the memories of 1857columns and tombs; and on the spot where the last victims who had trusted him were murdered by the orders of the Indian prince, stands the "Memorial," an arcade [Pg 190]surrounding the figure of an angel, which in its Christmas-card sentimentality suggests the apotheosis of a fairy drama, and has the arid lack of feeling that characterizes a monochrome figure in vulgar decoration, almost counteracting the pity we experience in the presence of the simpler tombsall bearing the same date, June, 1857.

Perpetually proclaiming her religious principles [xi] and loyalty to the throne, she was suspected of being concerned in the disgraceful libels and attacks upon the Queen, was on terms of friendship with some of the worst of the revolutionists, rejoiced in the earliest outbreaks of the beginning of the Revolution, and while she educated the Orlans children with a pompous parade of virtue and strictness, was generally and probably rightly looked upon as the mistress of their father.A Catholic church flanking the Jesuit college persistently sent up to us the shrill tinkle of a little bell, rattling out its quick, harsh strokes like a factory bell for workmen.

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.Women porters came on foot, hidden under bales, nets full of crocks, faggots, and trusses of hay.[Pg 248] Children, and women in sareesfine ladieshad nothing to carry; some were wrapped in yashmacks, shrouding them from head to foot with a little veil of transparent muslin over their eyes.

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In the harbour, where there was a light breeze blowing, the little outrigged canoes had hoisted large sails, white edged with black, and vanished into the distance, skimming like winged things over the intensely blue water.Outside the palace is a large garden, devoid of shade, with pools of water bowered in flowers and shrubs that shelter myriads of singing birds. At the end of the park is a tank full of crocodiles. A keeper called the brutes, and they came up facing us in a row, their jaws open to catch the food which the Rajah amuses himself by throwing to them.

Towards evening came a storm of hail and snow, from which we took refuge in a government bungalow, where none but officials have a right to restbut we stayed there all the same. The wind was quite a tornado, sweeping the flowers before it, and the pink and yellow blossoms were mingled with the snowflakes and the tender green leaves, scarcely[Pg 272] unfolded. Birds were carried past, helpless and screaming with terror. We could hear the beasts in a stable close by bellowing and struggling; and then, while the thunder never ceased, repeated by innumerable echoes, darkness fell, opaque and terrific, slashed by the constant flare of lightning, and the earth shook under the blast."You know it is pashmina?"

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Apr-17 01:25:34