鹤壁市浚县--河南频道--人民网

Next morningso far, so high on the horizon! I saw a pink spot; then, as day broke, the rose colour spreadbroader, 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. In the sacred tank, where Vishnu bathes when[Pg 165] he comes on earth, an old woman was standing pouring the stagnant green water over her body, while others of the faithful, seated on the steps, were piously drinking the stuff from a coco-nut that they handed round. In one corner of this pool was an exquisite bower of floating wreathsyellow, white, and violeta splash of bright colour on the squalid water.

In order that I might be far from the noise of the street the merchant had the objects I wished to see brought to me in a little room over the shop. Everything was spread before me on a white sheet, in the middle of which I sat. Refreshments were[Pg 227] brought, fruits and sweetmeats, while a coolie waved a large fan over my heada huge palm-leaf stitched with bright-hued silks. After an hour's passage we reached the island, which is thickly planted with fine large trees.

One morning a quantity of dead rats were found lying on the ground; next some pigeons and fowls. Then a man died of a strange maladyan unknown disease, and then others, before it was known that they were even ill. A little fever, a little swelling under the arm, or in the throat, or on the groinand in forty-eight hours the patient was dead. The mysterious disease spread and increased; every day the victims were more and more numerous; an occult and treacherous evil, come none knew whence. At first it was attributed to some dates imported from Syria, to some corn brought from up-country; the dates were destroyed, the corn thrown into the sea, but the scourge went on and increased, heralded by terror and woe.

Turning out of this high street blazing with lamps, were dens of prostitution, and dark, cut-throat alleys.

Further away was one of the famine-campsestablished all over Indiato afford the means of earning a living to those whom the scourge had driven from their native provinces.

In the Begum's tomb the sarcophagus is on the ground, surrounded by a pale-tinted mosaic pavement. The windows, screened by pierced stone, admit a rosy light, and the walls are painted to imitate Persian tiles, with tall Cyprus trees in blue and green. Incense was burning in one corner, the[Pg 182] perfume mingling with that of the flowers, wafted in at every opening. Doors of massive cedar, carved with the patience of a bygone time, rattle on their hinges as the wind slams them to, but still endure, uninjured by ages.