A tank here is deep below ground, down three flights of galleries. Quite at the bottom is a little stagnant water, into which children leap from the top of the structure, a plunge of twenty metres, ending in a great splash of green mud that smells of water-lilies and grease.Then, another day, the air was leaden, too heavy to breathe. The mountains of the gem-like hues had lost their glory; they were of one flat tone of dusky grey, and further away were lost to view, invisible in the dead monotony of the colourless sky. The silence was oppressive; there was not a bird in the air, and a strange uneasiness scared the beasts, all seeking a shady refuge.The little princess had made her way between the seats, close up to us; she was wrapped in dark-coloured gauze, with woven gold borders, so light! scarcely less light than the diaphanous material of the dress. And as I admired this wonderful silk, the Rajah had some bayadères' dresses brought out for me to see: twelve or fifteen skirts, one above another, pleated and spangled with gold, yet, hanging to one finger, scarcely the weight of a straw.
When the gate to the platform was opened there was a stampede, a fearful rush to the train; then the cars, once filled, were immediately shut on the noisy glee of those who were going.
Two days after, the people would burn in great state, on an enormous wood pile, an image of Time, to ensure the return next year of the festival of colours.
At Jané the pagodas are of red stone. The largest, conical in shape, covers with its ponderous roof, overloaded with sculptured figures of gods and animals, a very small passage, at the end of which two lights burning hardly reveal a white idol standing amid a perfect carpet of flowers. Round the sacred tank that lies at the base of the[Pg 45] temple, full of stagnant greenish-white water, are flights of steps in purple-hued stone; at the angles, twelve little conical kiosks, also of red stone and highly decorated, shelter twelve similar idols, but black. And between the temples, among the few huts that compose the village of Jané, stand Moslem mausoleums and tombs. Verses from the Koran are carved on the stones, now scarcelyl visible amid the spreading briars and garlands of creepers hanging from the tall trees that are pushing their roots between the flagstones that cover the dead.
Every house in the town was shuttered, not a soul was to be seen in the baked streets; only here and there in a shady corner a beggar might be seen asleep. A chigram only was slowly moving along at the slow pace of two draught oxen, carrying the women of a zenana, and their constant chatter[Pg 300] within the curtains of the clumsy vehicle sounded formidably loud and discordant in the silence, the death-like exhaustion of noon. A foxy smell came up from everything that the sun was baking, and towards the end of the day it had become intolerable, corpse-like. It died away, however, after sunset.
Here, a white marble mosque with three flights of open arcades, with white domes to roof it, is paved with rectangular flags, each bordered with a fillet of black marble ending in an arch-like point, immovable prayer-carpets turned towards Mecca. Behind the marble lattices that form one wall of this mosque, the women of the zenana come to hear the moollah recite prayer.
Entering by one of the fourteen gates in the ramparts of stone blocks scarcely hewn into shape, the city of palaces and mosques is found in ruins, matching the fortifications, without any decoration,[Pg 225] and all of the same cold grey hue, like a city of prisons.A smart affair altogether is this carriage! two very high wheels, no springs, a tiny cotton awning[Pg 269] supported on four sticks lacquered red, and sheltering the seat which has three ropes by way of a back to it. Portmanteaus and nosebags are hung all round, and even a kettle swings from the near shaft, adding the clatter of its cymbal to the Indian symphony of creaking wheels, the cracking whips, the driver's cries of "Cello, cello," and Abibulla's repeated "Djaldi," all intended to hurry the horse's pace.详情
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