And side by side with history a pleasing legend tells that King Anang-Pal yearned to atone for his faults and redeem the earth from sin. So by the[Pg 220] counsels of a wise Brahmin he caused this vast iron spike to be forged by giants, to be driven into the earth and pierce the serpent Sechnaga, who upholds the world. The deed was done, but because certain disbelieving men denied that the monster was dead, the king caused the weapon to be pulled up, and at the end of it behold the stain of blood; so the iron beam was driven in again. But the spell was broken—the creature had escaped. The column remained unstable, prefiguring the end of the dynasty of Anang, and the serpent still works his wicked will.
Not far from the great hospital, in huts of bamboo and matting, some Hindoos were isolated, who refused to be attended by any but native doctors, or to take anything but simples. An old man lay there who had a sort of stiff white paste applied to the swellings under his arms. He, too, was delirious, and watched us go by with a vague, stupefied glare—eyes that were already dead.
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.Amid hanging swathes of creepers, in a fold of the hill stands another temple, of red stone, very gloomy; and, in its depths, a rigid white Buddha, with purple shadows over his eyes of glittering crystal. And so on to temples innumerable, so much alike that, seeing each for the first time, I fancied that I was retracing my steps; and endless little shrine-like recesses, sheltering each its Buddha, make blots[Pg 43] of shadow on the bright ochre-coloured stone of the cliffs. For centuries, in the rainy season, thousands of pilgrims have come, year after year, to take up their abode in these cells, spending the cold weather in prayer and then going off to beg their living and coming back for the next wet season.
Opposite a large tank, where a tall column rises from the water in memory of the victims of the Mutiny, and where a party of the votaries of Siva are performing their pious ablutions, a building stands in the Hindoo-Jesuit style of architecture. It is heavy, with white carvings above its pink paint, and with columns supporting turrets crowned with large lion-faces, the masks only, in the Indian manner, daylight showing through the jaws and eyes, and the profiles absurd, shapeless, and unmeaning. This is the college of La Martinière.[Pg 173]
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.
This Rawal Pindi is an English town of cottages surrounded by lawns and shrubberies; about two streets of bazaar, and red uniforms everywhere, Highland soldiers in kilts, white helmets, and the officers' and sergeants' wives airing their Sunday finery in their buggies. The ladies drive themselves, under the shelter of a sunshade on an all[Pg 239] too short stick, painfully held by a hapless native servant clinging to the back of the carriage in a dislocating monkey-like attitude.In a coach-house, through which we passed on our way to see the prince's favourite horses with the state carriages—quite commonplace and comfortable, and made at Palitana—was a chigram,[Pg 68] off which its silk cover was lifted; it was painted bright red and spangled with twinkling copper nails. This carriage, which is hermetically closed when the Ranee goes out in it, was lined with cloth-of-gold patterned with Gohel Sheri's initials within a horseshoe: a little hand-glass on one of the cushions, two boxes of chased silver, the curtains and hangings redolent of otto of roses.At a goldsmith's I stood to watch a native making a silver box. He had no pattern, no design drawn on the surface, but he chased it with incredible confidence, and all his tools were shapeless iron pegs that looked like nails: first a circle round the box, and then letters and flowers outlined with a firm touch that bit into the metal. He had no bench, no shop—nothing. He sat at work on the threshold of his stall, would pause to chat or to look at something, and then, still talking, went on with his business, finishing it quite simply at once without any retouching.
He interrupted me:Inside, after going through a long array of rooms filled with sham European furniture—handsome chairs and sofas covered with plush, Brussels carpets with red and yellow flowers on a green ground—we 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.Bakaoli, having returned to her own country, sends her confidante, named Hammala, with a letter to Tazulmulook, who at once follows the messenger. The prince and the queen fall in love with each other. Bakaoli's mother finds them together, and furious at the disobedience of her daughter, who is affianced to another rajah, she calls up a djinn to plunge Tazulmulook in a magic fount. The prince finds himself transformed into a devil with horns, and wanders about the jungle once more. There he meets a pariah woman with three children, who begs him to marry her. Tazulmulook in despair leaps back into the spring to die there, and to his great surprise recovers his original shape.
After dinner, with the dessert, the head orderly of the mess marched in with the decanters. He set them on the table, and then stood immovable at his post behind the colonel's chair, shouldering his gun till everybody had done, when he carried off the bottles with the same air of being on parade.
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