All round the post-office there is invariably a crowd of natives scribbling in pencil on post-cards held in their left hands. Their correspondence is lengthy, minute, and interminable; in spite of their concentration and look of reflection I could never bring myself to take them seriously, or feel that they were fully responsible for their thoughts and actsmachines only, wound up by school teaching, some going out of order and relapsing into savages and brutes.

As we went down to the shore a whole swarm of little dark boys wanted to sell scarabs, rattans, birds' nests shaped like pockets, and dream-flowers, gathered from the creepers on the temples; large almond-scented lilies, and hanging bunches of the ebony-tree flowers, so fragile in texture and already faded in the sun, but exhaling till evening a faint perfume of verbena and lemon.

The gardens are overgrown with exuberant tropical vegetation: orchids, daturas hung with their scented purple bells, gardenias and creepers; and yet what the brother of a London friend, on whom I am calling, shows me with the greatest pride, are a few precious geraniums, two real violets, and a tiny patch of thickly-grown lawn of emerald hue. Before us the road lay pink in colour, with purple lines where the pebbles were as yet un-crushed; it was hedged with blossoming thorn-bushes, and among the yellow and violet flowers parrots were flitting, and screaming minahs, large black birds with russet-brown wings, gleaming in the sun like burnished metal.

MADURA

In a little alley of booths was a shop with no front show, and behind it a sort of studio full of carvers and artists working on sandal-wood boxes, ivory fans as fine as gauze, and wooden lattices with elaborate flower patterns, used to screen the zenana windows. And in little recesses workmen dressed in white, with small copper pots about them in which they had brought rice for their meals, were chasing and embossing metal with little taps of their primitive tools, never making a mistake, working as their fancy might suggest, without any pattern, and quite at home in the maze of interlacing ornament. In the silence of a moonless night nine o'clock struck from the great tower of the Law Courtsa pretty set of chimes, reminding me of Bruges or Antwerp; and when the peal had died away a bugle in the sepoys' quarters took up the strain of the chimes, only infinitely softer, saddened to a minor key and to a slower measure; while in the distance[Pg 32] an English trumpet, loud and clear, sounded the recall in counterpart. The sweepers, the saises, the bearers, the whole tribe of noisy, idle servantsmen, women, and childrenall sleep out of doors in the hotter weather. And all day long the camp-bed, the two mats, and half a dozen pots, which constitute the[Pg 285] whole furniture of a family, move round the house with the shade, only settling down after dark.

As we returned to Lahore the palace rose before us among trees, a strip of wall, uninjured, covered with sapphire and emerald tiles; a fragile minaret crowning a tower bowered in flowering shrubsand then the vision was past. The carriage drove on for[Pg 238] a long way by ruins and vestiges of beauty, and re-entered the town, where lanterns were being lighted over the throng that pushed and hustled about the fair.

Then, under a portico in front of us, a man began to undress. He threw off his dhoti and his sarong, keeping on his loin-cloth only. With outstretched arms he placed a heavy copper pot full of water on the ground, took it up between[Pg 171] his teeth, and without using his hands tilted his head back till the water poured all over him in a shower, which splashed up from the pavement, sprinkling the spectators in the front row. Next he tied his dhoti round the jar, which he refilled, and fastened the end to his long hair. Then, simply by turning his head, he spun the heavy pot round him. It looked as if it must pull his head off, but he flung it faster and faster till he presently stopped.

On the very summit of the hill, all over the ravine which divided it from another, and which has been filled up at an enormous cost, and then on the top of that other hill beyond, temples are piled up, shining against the too-blue sky, with pointed roofs of stone, scorched by the sun or stained by the rain, and patterned with pale-hued lichens. Above each a spear stands up, impaling a metal ball. In infinite variety, differing in materials, style, and proportions, some quite small, as if they had sprouted round the base of others that are gigantic, there are here five thousand temples built by the faithful, who are incessantly erecting more, devoting great fortunes to the vanity of leaving a chapel that bears their name.

Back to the station, where we lived in our carriage, far more comfortable than a hotel [Pg 58]bedroom. T., my travelling companion in Gujerat, received a visit from a gentleman badly dressed in the European fashion, and followed by black servants outrageously bedizened. When this personage departed in his landau, rather shabby but drawn by magnificent horses, T. was obliged to tell me he was a rajahthe Rajah of Suratquite a genuine rajah, and even very rich, which is somewhat rare in these days among Indian princes.