Our departure—hours to wait again for our carriage. H. stood-by in front, waiting for our number to be shouted; fortune drove me wandering up the drive with a Government House cheroot, too fagged to speak to people, and lo and behold! our carriage driver and syce, asleep in a by-way. So I brought it along and sung out 658! 658! and away we all got hours sooner than might have been.
The road is full of carriages, gharries, and dog carts. Occupants—officers, sailors, and soldiers in batches, alone or with ladies; white shirts and skirts gleam green in the moonlight—the road—dusty, stuffy, and the pace go-as-you-please; past a lamplit bungalow in the shadows of trees and out into the open again and moonlight and dust—past a motor by the roadside, its owner, in court dress, sweating at its works—dust, moonlight, and black silk—a Whistler by Jove! Now we pass a slow going gharry, and now two young hatless soldiers in a high dog cart pass us under the trees, downhill at a canter, an inch between us, and half an inch between their off wheel and the edge of the road, and the sea ten feet beneath. Then along the lines of tents, with their curtains open and occupants going to bed.... We too must experience that tent life, but not in town if we can help it.
By all that's lucky the lift works still! That grand stairway is a climb, in the sma' hours—a pipe and a chat and this line in this journal, and under the mosquito curtains to sleep—I hope till past time for church; all the common prey of the grey mosquito, viceroy, public servant, private gentleman alike.
Yesterday being Sunday we had a day of rest and did no manner of work—only painted and wrote up my journal, and in the late afternoon G. and I drove down to Colaba, the point south of Bombay. This took us through the cantonments and past officers' houses on the low ground, amongst barracks, and soldiers in khaki and rolled up shirt sleeves, smoking their pipes under palms and tropic trees; with the lap of Indian Ocean on the shore to the west, and Bombay on the left and east. This is not the healthiest or most fashionable quarter. Our officers cannot afford to take the best bungalows and situations which are towards Malabar Hill, for the Hindoos and Parsis, who owe their wealth to our military protection, can buy them out easily. I'd put that right "If I were king!" So our officials and officers have to live where their pay will let them, in low lying bungalows and expensive flats, or in hotels. Though not fashionable, it was a pleasant enough drive for us. A glimpse of the open ocean with the setting sun makes you feel that it is possible to up anchor and go, sooner or later—somewhere.
Here beginneth another week of observations. To begin with, I purchased E. H. A.'s "Tribes on my Frontier," feeling that a groundwork of study in this writer's popular books was necessary before leaving Bombay's coral strand and adventuring to the interior of this interesting peninsula. My library increases, you observe. I purchased Holdich's "India," and I now admit I own a red Baedeker-looking book published by Murray. With these three I consider I have enough reading matter to make me pretty "tired" in the next three or four months. At home I have only read bits of "The Tribes on my Frontier," out here everyone has read it; it is all about bugs and beasts and nature studies, the common beasts you see here, that no one notices after a time. To-day I timidly approached one of the ferocious looking animals he writes about. It was spread out on a window pane in the back premises of the Yacht Club. No one was looking or I would not have dared to exhibit an interest in such a common object. It was like this, a dream-like beast, with a golden eye and still as could be, except that its throat moved (the window and lizard, are reduced to about one-fifth of life size), and its eye meditated evil. I ventured to put the end of my stick near it, and it went off with such alarming speed that I hastily withdrew my stick. It had vanished into a crack, I'd never have dreamed a small crevice in a window sash could hold such an extraordinary creature! I must look him up in "E. H. A."
Colonel Sir Thomas Holdich's "India," in my humble opinion, is an absolutely perfect book of reference, of concentrated information on populations, their origin and characteristics; geology, meterology, distribution plants with excellent maps printed by Bartholomew; it might be called scientific, but for the charm of the touches of colour the whole way through.
The Murrays' book is very useful, but so dry that you hardly care to open it except in emergency. It has many references to the times of the Conquest of India and the Mutiny, and the editor, an Englishman or Anglicised Scot, frequently gives the names of individuals, soldiers and private people, who distinguished themselves in these times. For example, at the Siege of Seringapatam, where he mentions such well-known names as Baillie, Baird, Campbell, and M'Donald, two-thirds the names of my countrymen, and he calls them "English!" which makes me think of Neil Munro's skipper of "The Vital Spark" and his remark about his Mate, "He wass a perfect shentleman, he would neffer hurt your feelings unless he was trying." Writers in the days of the Mutiny wrote of the feats of the "British troops," their gallantry, and all the rest of it; look up The Illustrated London News of that time, and you will see this is true. Why—confound them all—do they talk of "English" to-day, when they refer to Scots, Irish, and Englishmen, and the people of our Colonies; is it merely casual, or a deliberate breaking of the terms of Union of 1707? Eitherway the effect tends to dis-union, it is ante-Imperial and for Home Rule for "A Little England." Ahem—may that pass as a "digression?"—Now for more nature studies. I saw in the Crawford market this afternoon fresh fish, and dried and unfresh, and the vendors thereof. There were many kinds of so-called fresh fish, but the most were dried, to mere skin and bone, sharks and sprats, piled in baskets or hanging in bundles. Diminutive wrinkled women sat on little bits of wet mat in rows, and chopped the "fresh" fish into little morsels with little choppers by the light of little cruisie oil lamps, that flickered and smoked beside them, and lit up their puckered little chocolate faces, glinted on their teeth and gums scarlet with betel, and threw warm lights on the customers faces, who leant forward to close range and haggled, and, I daresay, said the fish wasn't fresh—and if they had asked me, I'd have entirely agreed with them. Respectable looking Parsi men in tight broad cloth coats and shiny black pointed pot hats did this marketing—not their wives—peered through their spectacles very carefully, down their long noses at each little chunk. I hoped they could smell no better than they could see; and the grotesque little women slipped the minute coppers they secured under the damp mat on the wet stones between their feet. That was all very poor and small and sordid, but the grain sellers were pleasant to look at. They sat in nice clean booths, with around them an endless variety of neat sacks and bowls displaying all kinds of rice and corn and lentils and baskets of bright chillies and many other dried fruits for curries.
To chronicle some more small beer, I may put down here that we dined last night at the Yacht Club. The Yacht Club has little to do with yachting. There are models of one or two native-built boats in the passages and rooms; these have deep stems and shallow sterns, evidently meant to wear, rather than to go about. We did not hear of any yachting going on, why I do not quite know, as I'd have thought The Bay a perfect place for racing, and with its inlets a rather pleasant cruising ground, but perhaps the sun makes sailing uncomfortable. There are both lady and men members. You can live, dress, bath, and entertain your friends, or be entertained by them, hear music, read papers, write, talk, and walk about in pretty grounds, all pleasantly, decently, and in order, for it is all very open and above board. I do wish we could have such clubs at home, I mean in Edinburgh, instead of our huge dismal men's clubs where never a lady enters, and food, drink, and politics are the only recognised interests.
Here you have talk on everything, and music (of a kind), and see pretty dresses and faces, and when you wish to be lonely, you may be so from choice, not from necessity. To a good club, two rooms I think are essential, a gymnasium and a music room; and where out of France can you find them! The talk, I must say, is principally about one's neighbour, which is quite right; it is a most enviable trait, that of being interested in your neighbour and his affairs. Here, too, when you are tired of people, you can study beasts, they cannot bore you. I think E. H. A. is of this opinion. I have been reading more of his researches into animal life, and find that he says he has fathomed the intellect of a toad; but verily, I cannot believe that! Several of E. H. A.'s acquaintances have come round me as I scribble here in the verandah. A brute, a grey crow perched this moment on the jalousies, and let out that bitter raucous caw, that would waken the Seven Sleepers or any respectable gamekeeper within a mile; abominable, thieving, cruel brutes they are, with rooks they should be exterminated by law. Once they were, in the reign of James the Fourth, I think, for he needed timber for his fleet. The law was then that if a crow built for three successive years in a tree, the tree became the property of the Crown. This has not been rescinded, so Field please note and agitate in your country and save your beloved partridges and the eggs of our grouse. Now two green parroquets have gone shrieking joyfully past. I suppose I must believe they are wild, but it takes faith to believe they have not just escaped from a cage; they are uncommonly pretty colour, at any rate, against the blue and white sky; they have taken the same flight at the same time these last three days, and a dove is cooing near, a deliciously soothing sound. Persians say it cannot remember the last part of its lost lover's name, so that is why it always stops in the middle of the co-coo, co—
As it grew to twilight I went over to the Bundar and studied reflections in the calm, lapping water at the steps where so many dignitaries have arrived and departed, and made notes of the colours of the dark stone work and pier lamps against the evening glow and the reflections of boats' lights waggling in the smooth water.
... A launch bustles in from the Renown and brings up quickly—a white light between her two brass funnels and green and red side lights. The red light glows on the bare arm of the jack tar at the bow with the boat-hook, and just touches the white draperies of the native passenger as he gets out awkwardly and goes up the steps—a person of importance with attendants, I see, as they come up into the full acetylene light on the quay head, someone very princely to judge by his turban and waist—but a native's waist measurement sometimes only indicates his financial position.
There is considerable variety of type and nationality amongst the few people who sit taking the air on the stone parapet of the Bundar. On my right are two soldiers—one an Argyll and Sutherland, with red and white diced hose and tasselled sporran, a native of Fife to judge by his accent; next him there is a Yorkshire Light Infantry man. They chat in subdued voices, people all do here, I suppose it's something in the sea warm air—have you ever noticed how softly they talk in the Scilly Isles at night? It is the same cause I expect—the soft warm atmosphere. They smoke Occidental (American) cigarettes after the manner of all the wise men of the East of to-day. A yard or so along is a bearded turbaned native; he is from up North I think. He sits on the parapet with knees under his chin, and a fierceness of expression that is quite refreshing after the monotonous negatively gentle expression of the Bombay natives; then beyond him are two Eurasian girls in straw hats and white frocks, and they do look so proper. Further over the Parsi men in almost European kit with their women folk sit in lines of victorias and broughams, and they are silhouetted against the glow of lamps on the lawn of the Yacht Club, under which the white women from the far North-West listen to music and have tea and iced drinks through straws. And the local Parsis seem quite content eating the air in the dusk—one or two of their menkind pay visits on foot from carriage to carriage—they have at least a share in the pom pom of the brass band—and welcome.
By the way, my piper friends who may read this, you will be amused to hear some natives of Sassun objected to having the pipes on the lawn in the afternoon at the Yacht Club—said they "couldn't hear any music in them"—so Queen Victoria's favourite, "The Green Hills of Tyroll" was turned on, in parts, and they were quite happy!
Now dinner, for there goes the Hotel brass band down below—a cada necio agrada su porrada—to me the pipes, the brass band to the Southerner, but for us all dinner—"both meat and music," as the fox said when it ate the bagpipes.
 To each fool agreeable is his folly; and, the bag of the pipes is made of sheep-skin you see.
We have home letters to-night; "The Mail" they speak of over the Indian Peninsula has arrived. G.'s maid has a letter from St Abbs from her mother, who is anxious about her, for she says, "There's an awfu' heavy sea running at the Head." Even at this distance of time and sea miles, we find home news takes a new importance, and are already grateful for home letters with details of what is going on there from day to day; trifles there, are interesting to read about here, there's the enchantment of distance about them, and they become important by their isolation.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Nov. 22nd.—We conclude, that considering packing, calling on Cook, and a complete absence of any Royal function or Tomasha of any sort, that we have put in a most excellent day, in fact the best day we have had since we landed—and it was spent at sea!—at least the best of it was. I visited the Sailors' Home in the morning, which is a palace here where a sailor man who has the money, and doesn't mind the loneliness and ennui, can live like a prince for a rupee a day, and as comfortably or more so than we can in the Taj for heaps of rupees. Perhaps it was the suggestion of being at anchor in that refuge that made G. and me go off to sea this afternoon, and we are glad we did so. We looked at a steam launch opposite the Hotel which was full of white passengers seated shoulder to shoulder round the stern like soldiers; they were bound for Elephanta and the caves there, and we decided to go too; but they seemed so awfully hot even in shadow of an awning, and so packed and formal that we elected to take time and sail, in a boat of our own, with our own particular piratical crew, and lateen sails, and white awning. We were warned we might have to stay out till late at night! As it is said to be seven miles, I thought with a crew of four men, Krishna, and myself, we might by an effort even row home in time for dinner though it did fall calm!
So we chartered the craft for seven rupees there and back—which was two rupees above proper rate—left our packing undone, and sailed for Elephanta. It was altogether delightful being on the water again the first time for many months—of course being on board a P. & O. steamer doesn't count, as that hardly conveys even the feeling of being afloat. The breeze was light and southerly, so at first we rowed, and the cheery dark faces of the crew beamed and sweated. These coast men are nicer to look at than the natives on shore. They did buck in with their funny bamboo oars, long things like bakers' bread shovels, with square or round blades tied with string to the end of a bamboo, which worked in a hemp grummet on a single wooden thole pin.
What a study they make! Bow, Two and Three, have skull-caps of lemon yellow and dull gold thread, and blue dungaree jackets faded and threadbare. They are young lusty fellows, and Stroke, who is a tough-looking, middle-aged man, with a wiry beard, has a skull-cap between rose and brown, and round it a salmon-coloured wisp of a turban—over them there is the arch of the frogged foot of the lateen sail. All but Bow are in full sunlight, sweating at their oars, he is in the shadow the sail casts on our bow. We recline, to quote our upholsterer, in "cairless elegance" on the floor of the stern, on Turkey red cushions under the shadow of the awning, and I feel sorry we have spent so much time on shore.
We pass under the high stern of a lumbering native craft; its grey sun-bitten woodwork is loosely put together: on a collection of dried palm leaves and coir ropes on the stern, sit the naked, brown crew feeding off a bunch of green bananas. One has a pink skull-cap, and at a porthole below the counter the red glass of a side-light catches the sun and glows a fine ruby red; a pleasant contrast to the grey, sun-dried woodwork. Just as we clear our eyes off her, from seaward behind us comes an Arab dhow, a ship from the past, surging along finely! An out-and-out pirate, you can tell at a glance, even though she does fly a square red flag astern with a white edge. Her bows are viking or saucer-shaped, prettier than the usual fiddle-bow we see here, and her high bulwarks on her long sloping quarter deck you feel must conceal brass guns. From beyond her the afternoon sun sends the shadows of her mast and stays in fine curves down the bend of her sail, the jib-boom is inboard and the jib flat against the lee of the main sail. She brings up the breeze with her, and our bamboo oars are pulled in and we go slipping across the water in silence, only the bows talking to the small waves. Now, how sorry we feel for those other globe trotters on the launch, birring along behind a hot, bubbling, puffing, steam kettle—and so crowded, and in this heat too, whilst we extend at our ease in a white and sky-blue boat, with pink cushions, and dreamily listen to the silky frou frou of the southern sea. The crew rest; and one brings out the hubble-bubble from the peak, with a burning coal on the bowl; it is passed round and each of them takes three or four long inhalations through his hands over the mouth-piece, to avoid touching it with his lips, and the smell of the tobacco is not unpleasant, diluted as it is with the tropical sea air. Now it is brought aft to the oldest of our crew, the master I suppose, a grizzled old fellow, who sits on his heels on a scrap of plank out at our stern and steers. He takes four deep inhalations and the mutual pipe is put away forward again. Our elderly "Boy" is a Madrassee, tidy and clerk-like, and a contrast to the pirates; and he does not understand them very well, but he pats the pipe condescendingly as it is passed forward, and puts questions about it with a condescending little smile.
Elephanta comes closer and we see the undergrowth on the hills, and it does not seem very unfamiliar; it is considerate the way in which Nature leads you from one scene to another without any change sudden enough to shock you; in the most out-of-the-way corners of the world I believe, you may find features that remind you of places you have known. Here the few palms on the sky-line of the low hills, almost accidental features you might say, are all there is to distinguish the general aspect from some loch side at home. Our Stroke points ashore and grins, and says, "Elephanta," and we say, "Are you sure, is it not an island on Loch Katrine?" and he grins again and bobs and says, "Yes, yes Elephanta!"
I thought I'd written a remarkably expressive description of the carvings in the caves; if I did I can't find it, so the reader is spared. But I must say, before jogging on, that they are well worth taking far greater trouble to see than the little trouble that is required. I had heard them often spoken of lightly, but in my opinion they are great works of a debased art. The sculptured groups would be received any day hors concours in the Salons for their technique only. There are figures in grand repose, as solemn and dignified as the best in early Egyptian sculpture, others show astonishing vigour, and fantastic freedom of movement and of light and shade. They are cut in the rock in situ, hard, blackish serpentine, which is a soft grey colour on the exposed surfaces. In some parts the carving is as modern in style and free in movement and composition as some tourtmente modern French sculpture. But here, as in Europe and Egypt, marvellous talent has been used in the name of religion to express imaginings of the supernatural and inhuman, instead of being humbly devoted to the study of the beauty presented in nature.
Going home we sailed into the sunset, and it certainly was pretty late when we got back to dinner; in fact half of our little voyage was in the dark, in heavy dew and with red and green lights passing across our course rather swiftly; we had one white light, and the glow in the men's big pipe. We were pleased with our crew and they were pleased with us for an extra rupee, and altogether we felt very superior having gone in so much better style than other poor people, so down on the bedrock for time that they cannot spare a half-hour here and there.
I don't know very well how we did all our packing and got away from the Taj Hotel to the train, but we did it somehow; and possibly may become inured to the effort after six or seven more months travelling. Now we are reaping the reward of our exertions. Within less than half an hour from Bombay we are right into jungle! I thought of and looked for tigers, and saw in a glade of palms and thorns where there should have been tigers, hoardings with "The Western Indian Army-Equipment Factory" and the like in big letters; so I had just to imagine the tigers, and make studies from life of the Parsis as they wandered up and down the corridor; I can see some point in their women wearing Saris, these graceful veils hanging from the back of their hair, but why do they and Mohammedan men wear their shirt tails outside their petticoats and trousers?—I must look up "Murray."
To right and left we come on open country divided like an irregular draught-board into little fields of less than an acre each, with dykes a few inches high round them; paddy fields, I suppose—the place for snipe and rice. Round those that have water on them are grey birds like small herons, with white showing in their wings when they fly—paddy birds; have I not heard and read of them from my youth up, and of the griffins' bag of them. I have also read and heard of the Western Ghats, these mountain slopes we have to climb up east of Bombay, that run right south and which we are now approaching, but I had no idea they were so fantastically like Norman ramparts and buttresses on mountain tops, neither had I an idea that the trees and fields at their feet and up their sides were so green. We rattle along at say fifty miles an hour, not very comfortably, for there is heat and dust; but all along the line are interesting groups of figures to look at. Here is a string of women in red shawls against golden sunlit grass above a strip of blue water, and there again, a man just stopped work sitting at the door of a dusty hut of palm leaves and dry clay. He shades his eyes with his hand as he watches the train pass; how his deep copper-coloured skin gleaming with moisture, contrasts with the grey parched earth; then a group of children bathing and paddling, at this distance they are perfectly lovely. The young people are far more fairly formed than I expected them to be—famine photographs probably account for this; they are black but comely, though possibly closer inspection would dissolve the charm—here are people, men and women, stacking corn or hay round a homestead, a scene I have not heard described or read of in home letters or books about India; how the pictures unfold themselves all hot and new to me, and coloured, and at fifty to sixty miles an hour! Won't mental indigestion wait on good appetite!
 Sanskrit "Gati" a way or path—Scottish "gate" is a way or path too.
We are going south-east now; Bombay away to our right over the bay, and the Ghat we saw to the south in extended battlements and towers, now shows in profile as one tower, on high and steep escarpments. We are still in the low country. May I liken it to the Carse of Forth extended, with the Kippens on either side, with the features and heat considerably increased. I am told I should not compare homely places I know with places unfamiliar, as it limits the reader's imagination; the Romans did so—said, "Lo! The Tiber!" when they saw the Tay; I must try not to do the same.
And as at home, the people at the stations become lustier and have clearer eyes and are more powerfully built, as we get further from town; that is not saying much here, for the strongest look as if a breeze would blow them over; however, they may have their own particular kind of strength. I know my boy surprised me last night when he started to pack my various belongings; the way he sat down on his heels beside each box and went through the work showed if not strength, its equivalent in agility, and a method entirely his own. He told me, "Yes, Sa, I do same whole camp one night, saddles, horses, bridles, whole lot camp outfit while you sleep." He has been butler to two distinguished generals, so I feel it must be rather a drop for him to valet a mere cold-weather tourist, but he does not show it, which is a point in his favour. It was a little awkward though the other day when he began to beat up to find my profession; I forget what he said exactly. It was something like, "Sahib General?" and I said, "No, no," as if Generals were rather small fry in my estimation, and racked my brains how to index myself. I've read you must "buck" in the East—isn't that the expression?—so a happy inspiration came, and I said with solemnity, "I am a J.P.,—a Justice of the Peace, you understand?" and I could see he was greatly relieved, for unless you have some official position in India you are no one. He went on packing perfectly satisfied, murmuring, "Yes Sahib, I know, Sahib Lord Chief Justice, I know." Ought I to have corrected him? Ought I to have told him seriously that I am an artist!—a professional painter from choice, and necessity? He would have left my ignoble service on the spot; why, even in Britain, Art is reckoned after the Church, and in Belgium, though respectable, it is still only a trade—Peter Paul notwithstanding.
After two or three hours in the train through this sunlit country, we conclude it is worth coming to see; for the last hours have unfolded the most interesting show that I have ever seen from a train in the time. Outside all is new, and inside the train much is familiar; some English people near us sit with their backs to the window and take no notice of the outside world. What high head notes they speak with, and what familiar ground they go over. "Oh! you know Bown, do you—such a good fellah—good thot, I mean—went mad about golf—such a good gaime, you know—what I mean is—you know it's," etc. Quite "good people" too, probably keen on ridin' and shootin' though they may never have shot a foxth or a goo'th, or have even seen a golden eagle. But they seem almost happy, in a jog trot sort of a way, along the old trail—the Midlands to Indiar, and Indiar to the Midlands, with bwidge between.
We swing round a curve south-westerly and into a tunnel and out again and up from the plain—up and up—high rocky hills on either side with bushes and trees growing amongst rocks; another Pass of Lennie, I'd like to call it, on a larger scale. Out of the tunnel, we look down a long valley to our right with little dried up fields all over the bottom of it, fading into distant haze. Then another black tunnel opening into grey rock, and on coming slowly out—we are climbing all the time one foot in forty-two—we again look down a valley miles away to our left, and we can see the station Karjat, from which we began this climb up the Bore Ghat.
The aspect of this country makes me think of sport; the rocky hills, dry grass, pools, and cover suggest stalking or waiting for game, but perhaps there is still too much evidence of people—however, I must get the glasses out and see what they will show up.
Kandala station—a white spot, the guard points out to us far above us—then into a tunnel, and out, and we are there. To our right are ridge beyond ridge of hill tops, stretching away into the sunset.
Reader, please draw a breath before this next paragraph.
"The length of the ascent is nearly 16 miles over which there are 26 tunnels with a length of 2,500 yards, eight viaducts, many smaller bridges. The actual height accomplished by the ascent is 1,850 feet, and the cost of constructing the line was nearly L600,000."
Fairly concentrated mental food, is it not? and only eight lines from one page of "Murray," and there are one hundred and six lines in a page, and six hundred and thirty nine pages in the book!!
The sun sets on our right beyond a plain of stubble fields and young crops and distant hills, and in the sky a rich band of gold, veined with vermillion, lies above a belt of violet, and higher still a star or two begin to glitter in the cold blue. To us newcomers, this first sunset we have seen in India in the open over the high plains filled us with new and almost solemn interest. But why the feeling was new or strange would be hard to say; sunsets the world over are alike in many ways, but the feelings stirred are as different as the lands and the people over which they set.
A little later we (I should say I, in this case) had quite an adventure at a dusky siding in this tableland of the Dekkan. As I hastened to our carriage a beautiful lady bowed to me, a stranger in a far land! And I bowed too, and said, "How do you do, we met on the Egypt of course!" and she said, "You are not Mr Browning!" When I agreed it was only "me"—she expressed some surprise, for she is shortly to visit my brother down the line at Dharwar, and her chaperone had just been staying there. One of us possibly remarked the world is small. Later we all foregathered in an excellent little dining-car on the S. M. R. line, and discussed family histories, and the incident made us feel quite at home. Everyone seems to know everyone else out here, and if they don't they very soon do, and all seem sworn to make the best of each other, and make things "go." It is so admirable; even though you may feel as a newcomer, a little uncomfortable crawling out of the shell of reserve you have brought all the way from home.
 Southern Maharatta Railway.
The air is much lighter up here than down in Bombay; even after a bustling day getting into train, travelling, and seeing a hundred miles of utterly new sights, we feel far less tired than after doing nothing in particular all day on the coast. We stop at a station, Kirkee, three and a half miles from Poona. Here, there is a glove left on the line by the editor of "Murray's Guide," to be picked up by some Scot or Irishman; I have not time just now. He says that Kirkee is interesting as being the scene of a splendid victory over Baji Rao II; his account is concentrated and interesting. The names of the officers mentioned in the paragraph referring to the victory are Scottish and Irish, and he calls it English, instead of British—a little more sand in the machinery of the great Imperial idea.
 First condition Treaty of Union 1707:—
"I. That the two Kingdoms of England and Scotland shall, upon the first of May next ensuing the date hereof and for ever after, be united into one Kingdom by the name of Great Britain...."
Mais en voiture!—This narrow gauge on which we now are, is not half bad. We have a fore and aft carriage, the seats on either side we can turn into beds, and there is a third folding up berth above one of these. After the custom of the country, we have brought razais or thin mattresses, and blankets—an excellent custom, for it is much nicer turning into your own bedclothes at night in a train or hotel than into unfamiliar properties.
... How pleasant it is in this morning light after the night journey to look out on the rolling country. There are low trees, twelve to twenty feet high, with scrub between, and the varied foliage shows an autumnal touch of the dry season. Now we pass an open space with a small whitewashed temple in the middle of a green patch of corn; a goatherd walks on the sand between us and it with his black and white flock; he is well wrapped up, head and all in cotton draperies, as if there was a chill in the morning air, but it looks and feels very comfortable to us in our carriage: the sky is dove coloured, streaked with pale blue. Now some women show in the crops, the corn stands high over them, and from this distance they are things of beauty. Their draperies are purple or deep blue, and their skins rich brown, set off by white teeth and the glint of silver bangles and brass pots. They have pretty naked children beside them. Every hundred yards or so there is something fascinatingly beautiful, so the early morning hours go past quickly.
Just before Belgaum Station, our delight in watching these new scenes is brought to a fine point by the arrival of a boy with tea and toast, all hot! Positively it is difficult to take it, for here comes a fort we must look at—miles of sloping coppery-coloured crenellated stone wall of moresque design. Graceful trees grow inside, and over its walls you see an occasional turbaned native's head, one is vivid yellow another rose; we pass so close we almost cross the moat, and the women stop washing clothes and look up. More park scenes follow, then market gardens and native cottages of dried mud, and we can see right into their simple domestic arrangements.
At Belgaum our friends of last night get off with their camp equipment, and I make a dive into a brand new suit in haste to bid them good-bye and au revoir, and as I make finishing touches, we steam away and the farewell is unsaid! These three lone ladies have gone to see jungle life; the eldest only recently lost her husband in the jungle—killed and eaten, by a tiger.
The soil in the railway cuttings gets gradually a deeper bronze colour as we go south, about Bombay it was grey or light yellow. Now it is from yellow ochre to red ochre, with a coppery sheen where it is weather-worn. The trees become higher and the glades more like Watteau or Corot scenes, but neither Watteau nor Corot ever saw more naturally beautiful tinted figures; their many coloured draperies are so faded and blended in the strong sun that it is difficult to tell where one coloured cloth begins and another ends.
At Londa we stop half-an-hour or so, and our Boy rolls up our blankets, and rugs, and we endeavour to concentrate attention on a dainty breakfast in a neat little restaurant car of which we are sole occupants. The car is made for two tables, each for four people, and a man and a boy, both very neatly dressed, cook and serve, so you see the line is not yet overrun, and it is still cheap, and comfortable. If I might be so bold as to criticise what you, my Elder Brother, may be responsible for, I'd suggest that the place to sleep on might be made a shade softer.—Yes, we are becoming effeminate, I know—we were becoming so alas, as far back as "the 45," when The M'Lean found his son with a snowball for a pillow; still, we must go with the times, and even if the berths must be hard, at least let them be level. Please note, all soldier men who run railways in India, and receive my blessing in advance.
Our little waiter is a delightful study with his big turban and red band across it with the Southern Maharatta Railway initials in gold, white tunic, and trousers, and red sash and bare feet; and can't he wait neatly and quickly! We have figures to draw everywhere.—Here, within arm's length, at a station, are women porteresses, each a fascinating study of pose and drapery, and from a third class carriage just pulled up, out gushes a whole family, the kids naked from the waist up, and the men almost the same from the waist down. The women are in waspish yellow and deep reds, and they group and chatter in the sun, then heave their baggage, great soft baskets, on their heads—the women do this, the men have turbans, so they can't, and away they all go smiling. But better still, in the shade, there's a group of men and women seated, putting in time eating from heaps of emerald green bananas and sanguine pomegranates—how I wish I could stay for hours to paint!
Out of Londa the trees get finer and taller, and you see real live bamboos in great masses of soft grey-green, their foliage a little like willows at a distance. One cannot but think of big game; surely this is the place for sambhur if not for tiger: and there are trees like Spanish chestnuts with larger leaves and elms, and between the tall trunks are breaks of under cover, over which we get a glimpse now and then of rolling distant jungle and indigo blue hills against a soft grey sky.
Nacargali—Tavargatti—little stations one after the other all the way, a station about every six miles—still through bamboo forest—I think the bamboos must be 70 to 90 feet high. Now and then we pass glades with water. At one pool little naked boys and girls are herding cattle, white and cream coloured cows, and black hairless buffaloes, whose skins reflect the blue sky. The mud banks are brown and the water yellow, and there's bright green grass between the red mud and the soft green of the bamboos. Put in the little brown-skinned herds, one with a pink rag on his black hair, and that is as near as I can get it with the A.B.C., and there is not time nor sufficient stillness for paint.
With pencil in my journal I have little hasty scribbles—one half done and the other begun. There is a group of women, with waistcloths only, standing on a half-submerged tree trunk in greenish water washing clothes, one stands the others squat, and beyond are cattle and bamboos. Along the side of the track there are wild flowers, creepers, and thorns with little violet flowers, and others of orange vermilion, and every here and there are ant hills, three or four feet high, of reddish soil shaped like rugged Gothic spires or Norman towers. On the telegraph wire are butcher birds, hoopoos, kingfishers, and a vivid blue bird a little like a jay, the roller bird I believe. The king crow I am sure of—I saw and read about him in Bombay; he is the most independent and plucky little bird in India, fears nothing with wings! He is black, between the size of a swift and a blackbird, with a long drooping tail turned out like a black cock's at the end. I don't think he troubles anyone unless they trouble him and his wife, then he goes for them head first, and the wife isn't very far behind and gets a dig in too. There are doves and pigeons galore, and just before we came to Dharwar across a clear space there cantered a whole family circle of large monkeys! What a lovely action they have, between a thoroughbred's and a man's. They wore yellowish beards and black faces and black ends to their tails, which they carry high with a droop at the end.
Alnaver.—We pass iron trucks with native occupants—not bad looking—paler in colour I think than the natives at Bombay. Acres of cut dry timber, long bits and short bits, are here for the engine's fuel. The smoke of it makes a pleasant scent in the hot dry air. The country becomes a little more open and not quite so interesting perhaps. Kambarganvi—flatter and less picturesque—nullahs, open ground and cattle, thin jungle on rolling ground extending to a distant edge of table land. We pass a pool full of buffalo, only their heads are visible above the muddy green water; on the shores and on their backs are little brown nude girls with yellow flowers round their necks; then Dharwar and the Elder Brother on the platform, and we heave a sigh of relief at the end of the first chapter of our Pilgrimage in India.
Dharwar Station is not so unlike one we know within two and a half miles of the centre of Scotland. It is almost the same size but there is no village. Though not imposing, I understand it is the nerve centre of some 1,500 miles of The Southern Maharatta Railway.
As we pull up my brother, Colonel and Agent on the platform, remarks, "Well, here you are, you're looking well—have you any luggage?" and in a twinkling we are driving away, leaving the "little pick" of luggage to the boy to bring up leisurely. G.'s maid drives off in a princely padded ox cart or dumbie, and we get into a new modern victoria. I am not sure which is the most distinguished, perhaps the dumbie; it is at any rate more Oriental, and its bright red and blue linings, white hood, and two thoroughbred white oxen make a very gay turn-out.
The Agent's bungalow is wide-spreading, flat-roofed, with deep verandah supported on white-washed classic pillars, and surrounded by a park. There are borders of blooming chrysanthemums and China asters, and trees with quaint foliage, and flowering creepers about the house. The flower borders seem to tail away into dry grass and bushes and trees of the park, and that changes imperceptibly into dry rolling country with scattered trees and bushes.
Lunch is served by waiters in white clothes and bare feet, "velvet footed waiters" to be conventional, and there is a blessed peace and quietness about our new surroundings. For weeks past we have ever heard our fellows' voices all the day long; what a contrast is this quiet and elbow room to the crowd on the P. & O. and the gun firing and babel of Bombay.
... It is overcast and still; away to the east over the rolling bushy country are heavy showers, but at this spot trees and crops faint for water. We doze in the verandah and wake and doze again, and wonder how this silence—can be real, even the birds seem subdued. We notice E.H.A.'s friends are here in numbers, Mina birds, the Seven Sisters, King Crows, and one of his (E.H.A.'s) enemies comes in as I write, a yellow-eyed frog; he hops in on the matting and looks and looks—I like the unfathomable philosophy in its golden eye. And my brother stops reading Indian politics and calls me outside to see a Horn Bill—all beak, and little head or body to speak of, he sways on a leafless tree and scraiks anxiously for his friends; they are generally in companies of three or four. A little later, as I write beside a reading lamp in G.'s room, a lizard takes a position on the window, and out of the outer darkness comes a moth and lights on to the outside of the pane, and the lizard pecks at it—neither the moth nor the lizard understand glass—peck, peck, every now and then—trying to get through to the moth—how delightfully human—the perpetual endeavour to get Beyond, without the will or power to see the infinite reflections of the Inside.
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As we speculate to-night as to where some of our neighbours on the "Egypt" may have got to by this time, the post comes in with letters from this one and the other. One is from Mrs Deputy-Commissioner. A few days ago we were altogether in Bombay, melting in the heat, and now we are towards the south of this Peninsula, and she writes from its farthest north: we are in a hot parched country, whilst she and the D.-C. are in camp, sitting over a huge fire of logs in a pine forest. She writes, "To-morrow we enter a valley where five bears have recently been seen and pheasants abound," and the day after "we shall be at the top of the pass, 9,000 feet. Rosy snows and golden mists far below us melt into purple depths."... So this day's journal closes with pleasant thoughts of relatives and pleasant friends in many distant parts of this wide land.
... Sunday.—We arrived here on Friday—the silence is almost oppressive. Great grey clouds roll up from the east all day till evening, when they form solid bluish ranks; each cloud threatens rain which never falls. The stillness in the bungalow is only broken by the occasional cheep, cheep, cheep of the house lizard, a tiny little fellow that lives behind picture frames and in unused jugs and corners. His body is only about an inch and a half long, but his clear voice fills the large rooms and emphasies the silence. Outside it is as quiet; there is the chink—chink of the copper-smith bird, like a drop of water at regular intervals into a metal bowl.
The Colonel and G. rode at 8 A.M., and I biked. It is not such interesting country here as what we came through in the train—rolling, stoney, with friable red soil, and hard to ride on. Many dusty roads meet at all angles; along these you meet herds of buffalo and cows driven leisurely by boys or men. Some cows, of errant natures, have logs dangling by a rope from their necks amongst their feet; they can't go off very fast or far with the encumbrance. They stir up the dust as they go along, and it falls and lies on the children till their dark skins have a bloom like sloe-berries. There are all sorts of birds to look at—kites, crows, vultures, hawks, eagles; with these you can't expect to see game birds, though it looks an ideal country, though perhaps a little waterless, for pheasants and partridges. When I stop I see the side of the road swarms with insect life, ants of various, kinds, black and red, small and big, pegging along the level, and up and down trees, as if the world depended on each individual's particular bustling. There are white ant hills like ragged heaps of raw chocolate—very hard and strong. I don't know what they are built for—I must consider the matter like the sluggard some day, if I have time, or read about them if that is not a bigger order. What strikes you at first about the white ant is that you never see it unless you lay its works open. His hard-sun-baked protections run up the tree stems or wherever he goes and conceals and protects his soft, white, fleshy body, and if you prise this casing open you may see him getting away as fast as his little legs will take him; really he is a termite you know, like a "wood louse or worm," and not an ant. A wonder of the world is how he gets the liquid secretion to fasten the grains of sand together to make his earthen tunnels. If he goes to the top of a house to remove furniture or the like, he builds his tunnel all the way up; and in a thirsty land the top storey of a sun-bitten house does not seem the place to get water: but I must leave this subject to the disquisitions of men of more leisure and greater abilities, and proceed to make some observations on, and jottings of, the figures on the road. Here are women bringing up great round earthenware vases on their heads and little round brass bowls in their hands, going and coming from a muddy pool in the centre of a waste of dried mud. They go slowly, the walking is rough for bare feet, for the clay is hard and baked and pitted with cows' feet marks. They drink and wash their bowls in the dregs in the pond, the water already so dirty that a self-respecting duck would not swim in it, and wade about stirring up the mud, then fill their bowls and march away with it for domestic uses—this sounds bad, but it looks a great deal worse. The figures though are charming, with balanced bowl on head, and draperies blown into such folds as a Greek would have loved to model.... But their faces!—Phew! when you see them closely, are frightful!
It is difficult to catch their movement; they are so restless. All people who wear loose draperies seem to be so; witness Spanish women, and the Spanish type of women in our Highlands and Ireland, how they keep constantly shifting their shawls.
... The Club in evening—a tiny club, quite nice after a quiet day in the bungalow. I was introduced to the five men there, who put me through my paces very gently; I just passed I think, and no more. "Play bridge?—No. Billiards?—Not much." I began to feel anxious and feared they'd try cricket. "Tennis?—Yes, dote on tennis!" That smoothed things, and then we got on to shooting, and all went off at a canter. One of my inquisitors, Mr Huddleston, had been in Lumsden's Horse (the Indian contingent in S. Africa), and said he had helped a young brother of mine out of action at Thaban' Chu. Lumsden's Horse got left there and lost heavily. I knew this brother had been ridden off the stricken field on Captain P. Chamney's back under heavy fire, one of these V.C. doings that were discounted in S. Africa, and knew that two other fellows rode on either side to steady the sanguinary burden. So here was one of the two, and I asked who the other was, and he said, "Trooper Ducat, but Powell mended your brother's head; didn't you meet him in the Taj Hotel in Bombay?" And I laughed, for I remembered the doctor of the Taj, a rather retiring man, who generally sat alone at a table in the middle of the great dining-room; and that whenever he had friends dining with him, and I looked up, I was safe to find either he or his friends looking across in my direction, why I couldn't make out. Now it was explained! He remembered mending a man's forehead that had been broken by a piece of shell, and concluded from the surname in the Hotel Book, and possibly family likeness, that I was the man, and naturally he would say to his friends, "Look you at that man over there—wouldn't think he had lost half his head with a pom-pom shell would you? but he did, and I mended it!—It's pretty well done, isn't it? You can hardly see a mark."
 At Battle of Houtneck.
... Then evening service in a tiny church, a quiet, monotonous, gently murmured lesson, and a few verses from the Old Testament about sanguinary battles long ago and exemplary Hebrew warriors—how soothing! Doors and windows are wide open, and moths fly in and round the lamps from the blue night outside. The air is full of the rattle of the cicada, which is like the sound of a loud cricket, or the 'r—r' of a corncraik's note going on for ever and ever; and the house lizard in the church goes cheep—cheep—cheep every now and then. No one pays any attention to its loud sweet note. Rather pretty Eurasian girls play the organ and sing, and look through their fingers as they pray.
Then we are dismissed, and find ourselves out in the dark, and the longed for rain falling very lightly. The white dressed native servants are there with lamps and bring up the bullock carts, and ladies go off in them with the harness bells aringing. We have "The Victoria" of the station—and faith, barring the exercise, I'd as soon not walk! Did not Mr H. kill a great Russell viper at the club steps last night, and was not bitten, and so is alive to tell the tale to-day and to-morrow, and to show the skin, three feet long with a chain pattern down the back; the beast!—it won't get out of your path; lies to be trodden on, then turns and bites you, and you're dead in three minutes by the clock.
... To-day, Tuesday—could read a little—temperature down. Found it an entertainment listening to the voices of various callers in the centre hall of the bungalow, of which one half forms the drawing-room, the other half the dining-room. The bedroom doors open into this, and these doors are a foot off the ground, and fail to meet the top of the arches above them by about other two feet. The advantage of this I fail to see, further than that a convalescent or any other person who can't be bothered talking, can if he pleases, listen to others conversing; if, however, he prefers to sleep, he can't!
I got a glimpse of the gaily dressed callers through the transparent purdahs that separate my room on the outside from the verandah. They drove in white dumbies with white bullocks; the carts and harness glistened with vermilion, sky blue, and gold details; the driver, black of course, in livery, with a boy carrying a white yak's tail in black-buck's horn to brush away flies. I was sorry to miss seeing these kind people, but hope to get over the effect of sun, plus cold baths, and return their calls, and so increase my stock of first impressions of Indian life. "Erroneous, hazy, distorted first impressions," Mr Aberich Mackay calls them in his "Twenty-one days in India," that most amusing Indian classic. "What is it these travelling people put on paper?" he adds. "Let me put it in the form of a conundrum. Q. What is it that the travelling M.P. treasures up and what the Anglo-Indian hastens to throw away? A. Erroneous, hazy, distorted first impressions. Before the eyes of the griffin, India steams in poetical mists, illusive, fantastic, and subjective." Crushing to the new comer, is it not. And he adds that his victim, the M.P., "is an object at once pitiable and ludicrous, and this ludicrous old Shrovetide cock, whose ignorance and information leave two broad streaks of laughter in his wake, is turned loose upon the reading public." This is as funny as Crosland at his best, say his round arm hit at Burns, the "incontinent and libidinous ploughman with a turn for verse"—a sublime bladder whack! But listen also to the poor victim, Mr Wilfred Blunt, M.P., and what he has to say in the "Contemporary Review."
"I became acquainted in a few weeks with what the majority of our civilian officers spend their lives in only half suspecting. My experience has been that of a tourist, but I have returned satisfied that it is quite possible to see, hear, and understand all that vitally concerns our rule in India in six months' time."
After all, who may write about India? Major Jones said to me the other day, "Why on earth is Smith writing about India—what does he know? he is just out; why! I've been here over ten years and have just learned I know nothing."
Then I said, "What about General Sir A. B. Blank's writings?" Blank is going home after about forty years in India. "Oh! good gracious," he said, "Blank's ideas are hopeless—utterly antiquated!" Therefore no one may write about India; Smith is too inexperienced, Jones has only learned he knows nothing, and General Blank is too antiquated.
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This day we spent calling round the station. The owners of the two first bungalows were out; at the third the hostess carried wreaths of flowers, which she was on her way to place on her native butler's grave; he had died of plague. The next house was full of madonnas and maids worshipping the latest arrival in the station, a chubby boy of six months. The father had retired to a quiet corner, but seeing another mere man, he came out with certain alacrity and suggested a peg and cheroot. The next house was the doctor's, and the Mrs Doctor and I were just getting warm over Ireland, and had got to Athlone, Galway, and Connemara, when the ten minutes, that seem law here, were up, and G. rose to go, and I'd to leave recollections of potheen, and wet, and peat reek, and "green beyond green"—such refreshing things even to think of in this Eastern land, especially for us who are on the wander and know we will be home soon. But it must be a different feeling for those people at their posts, tied down by duty, year after year, with the considerable chance of staying in the little bit of a cemetery with others who failed to get home. But we must not touch on this aspect of our peoples life out here, it is too deeply pathetic. At the next house I did actually get a peg, and it was a pleasing change after buffalo milk and quinine for days: and mine host, who had been on the "West Coast," told me his experience of pegs in Africa. "The men," he said, "who didn't take pegs there at all, all died for certain, and men who took nips and pegs in excess died too; a few, however, who took them in moderation survived."
Then we drove towards the sunset and rolling hills, and were overwhelmed with the volume of colour. Bosky trees lined the road, and the orange light came through the fretwork of their leaves and branches, and made the dust rising from the cattle and the people on the red roads and the deep shadows all aglow with warm, sombre colour; I would I could remember it exactly. One figure I can still see—there is an open space, green grass, and Corot like trees on either side reflected in water, and a girl carrying a black water-pot on her head, crosses the grass in the rays of the setting sun—a splash of transparent rosy draperies round a slight brown figure.
Friday.—Rode in morning with the Brother, painted and drove with G. in the afternoon, tennis and badminton at club, and people to dinner; that is not such a bad programme, is it? Not exciting, but healthy, bar the excessive number of meals between events, and tiresome in regard to the inevitable number of changes of clothes. The ride we start after an early cup of tea. It begins pleasantly cool, but in an hour you feel the sun hot, and are glad to get in and change to dry clothes, and have breakfast proper about 9 A.M. The Brother then goes to office, which is a building like an extensive hydropathic, on an eminence to which on various roads, at certain hours of the day, streams of tidy native clerks may be seen going and coming. Of what they do when they get there, or where they go when they leave I have no idea; the country all round seems just red, rolling, gritty soil, with thorny bushes and scattered trees! But there is a native town; possibly these men go there, though their costumes are too trim to suggest native quarters.
There is such silence up here on the tableland at mid-day—only a light soughing of the soft, hot wind, otherwise not even the cheep of a lizard. A little later in the afternoon begins the note of a bird, like a regular drop of water into a metal pot, very soft and liquid, and when the gardener waters the flowers, more birds come round to drink. The house too is absolutely still; the servants drowse in their quarters in the compound; G. and her maid in a back room are quiet as mice; they got a sewing machine, which was a very clever thing to do, but it was a tartar, it wouldn't work—that was "Indian" I expect—so they have had a most happy morning pulling it to bits, and putting it together again—I wonder if they will make it go.
 Specially laid on for our benefit.
The most social part of the day here is the meeting at the club after the business day is done. I have not heard Indian club life described, but this club, though small, is, I think, fairly typical. Half the station turns up at it every evening before dinner; I should think there are generally about twenty ladies and men. You bike down, or drive, and play tennis on hard clay courts, a very fast game; then play badminton inside when it gets dark, and the lamps are lit.—I'd never played it before. What a good game it is; but how difficult it is to see the shuttle-cock in the half light as it crosses the lamp's rays—A.1. practice for grouse driving, and a good middle-aged man's game; for reach and quick eye and hand come in, and the player doesn't require to be so nimble on his pins as at tennis. To-night the little station band of little native men played outside the club under the trees, with two or three hurricane lamps lighting their music and serious dark faces, and the flying foxes hawked above them. Inside there was the feeling of a jolly family circle—rather a big family of "grown-ups"—or a country house party.
Dancing was beginning as we came away; men had changed from flannels to evening dress, and ladies had dumbied home and back, and a bridge tournament was being arranged. Think of the variety of costume this means, and grouping and lights. The brother and G. had come in from riding, G. in grey riding-skirt and white jacket, and the brother in riding-breeches and leggings, and two men and a lady came in with clubs from golf. Other men were in flannels, and some had already got into evening kit, and it was the same with ladies—what a queer mixture. Everyone seems perfectly independent of everyone else, except one or two matrons who have the interests of the youths at heart, and bustle their "dear boys" out of draughts, where "they will sit, after getting hot at Badminton, and won't get ready for dancing or bridge." One cannot but admire the brotherly and sisterly relationship that seems to exist between these kindly exiles, the way they make the best of things and stand by each other, such a little group of white people, possibly thirty all told, in the midst of a countless world of blacks.
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Let us now discourse on duck-shooting for a change, and because it is a safe subject, and like fishing, "has no sting in the tail of it." One of the "dear boys" at the club asked if I'd care to go duck-shooting on Sunday. This "youth" is country-bred, and for length and breadth and colour and accent, you'd think he had just come out from the Isle of Skye, the land of his people, where you know they run pretty big and fit.
It was very kind of these fellows I think, asking me to join them. A doubtful bag doesn't matter—it's a new country and I feel as keen as a cockney on his first 12th—so I unpack my American automatic five shooter, beside which all last year's single-trigger double-barrel hammer-less ejectors are as flintlocks! "Murderous weapon, and bloodthirsty shooter"—some old-fashioned gunners of to-day will say, just as our grandfathers spoke when breechloaders came in, and that delightful pastime with ramrod and wads, powder flask and shot belt went out. So it ever has been! Since the day some horrid fellow used a bronze sword instead of a stone on a stick, and since Richard of the Lion Heart took to that "infernal instrument," the cross bow, because of its "dreadful power," and so earned from Providence and Pope Innocent II. "heavenly retribution," and was shot by one of its bolts.
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As I write these somewhat discursive notes, there is a very old-world figure passing our verandah every now and then; he is our night watchman, called a Chowkidar or Ramoosee. He is heavily draped with dark cloak of many vague folds, and carries a staff and lantern; he belongs to a caste of robbers, and did he not receive his pittance, he and his friends would loot the place—and possibly get shot trying to do so. He flashes his lantern through your blinds as you try to sleep. Then if he wakens you by his snoring, you steal out and pour water gently down his neck.
A hyaena or jackal has started laughing outside—phew!—what an eerie laugh—mad as can be—what horrid humour! I have mentioned a lady's husband was taken away from her and eaten by a tiger lately, somewhere about this country, so we begin to feel quite in medias res, though far from the madding town.
To-morrow we drive to our shoot—start at six! To drive in dumbies, about eight miles. But what does distance matter; it's our first day's shooting in India—duck to-day, black-buck to-morrow, then sambhur, perhaps, and who knows, the royal procession may not account for all the tigers! and I begin to have a feeling that if one came within a fair distance, and did not look very fierce, I'd be inclined to lowse off my great heavy double-barrelled 450 cordite express and see if anything happened.
Copy letter on subject of "Duck."
Dear B,—There are still a few minutes before old Sol gets his face under cover, so I am going to let you know of my first great day's Indian Shikar! It was A.1. from start to finish, though an old resident here might laugh at its being given such a fine term. I know that it would have been as interesting to you as it was to me; it was so different from anything we have at home.
I met a man at the club who said, "Won't you come with us to-morrow (Sunday) and have a try for duck?" and I jumped—haven't had anything in way of exercise, bar a little mild riding and tennis for weeks. These fellows are so busy all the week they put in the Sunday out of doors shooting. Don't you wish we could too? You know everyone shoots here, it is free—one of the reasons so many of our best young fellows come out—men who haven't got ancestral or rented acres to shoot over.
Quarter past six, mon ami, was the hour fixed—I shudderd! By the way, most of these men were dancing yesterday afternoon till 7-45—at tennis previously, and at bridge till the small hours. Isn't that a rum way of doing things—the ladies dancing till after 7 o'clock, then dashing home to dress, and here at this bungalow to dinner at little after eight.
Turned out at a quarter to six—fifteen minutes later than I intended—fault of my "Boy"—tumbled into sort of shooting kit, and partly dressed as I scooted along the avenue through the park—compound I believe it should be called—the night watchman legging it along with my bag and gun. I believe a jackal slunk past; it was getting light—first jackal I've seen outside a menagerie—an event for persons like us? When I got to the avenue gate where these other heroes were to meet me, the deuce a shadow of one was there—only a native with something on his head. So I did more dressing and cussing because I was ten minutes behind time and thought they must have gone on.
Gradually the light increased. Dawn spread her rosy fingers over the pepal fig trees that lined the road; the fruit-eating flying-foxes sought their fragrant nests or roosts, and noiselessly folded their membraneous wings till next time. And the native turned out to have a luncheon basket on his head so my heart rose, and by and bye a big fellow in khaki stravaiged out of the shades—a jovial, burly Britisher called "Boots,"—told me he was hunting up the other fellows, and that they had got home late last night—this about half an hour after time fixed—so much for Indian punctuality hereaway! After some time another shooter arrived behind two white oxen, taking both sides of the road in a sort of big governess cart. Then Boots, who had hunted out a man Monteith, came up in a third dumbie, as their ox carts are called here. These go like anything if you can keep them in the straight, but the oxen are dead set on bolting right or left up any road or compound avenue. Boots told me: going to dine one night, he had been taken up to three bungalows willy nilly before he got to the right one. The reins go through bullocks' noses, so by Scripture that should guide them. We went off at a canter, and hadn't got a mile when Boots and Monteith's dumbie dashed at right angles across a bridge to the cemetery; we followed, missing the edge of the bridge by an inch,—pulled round and went off on the straight again—seven miles in the cool of the morning, grey sky, soft light, new birds, new trees, new country, no mistake it was pleasant. Here is a sketch (much reduced) the dumbie following us. As we went at a canter it was not very easy to do!
At the tank or loch we disembarked amongst a motley crowd of natives—got men to carry cartridge bags, and then we surrounded the tank, a place about three-quarters of a mile long by a quarter broad.
M. got into a portable, square, flat-bottomed canvas boat he had sent the day before, and his heathen boatman, who swore he could row, cut branches to hide both of them from the duck. This arrangement looked like a fair sized table decoration, a conspicuous man in a topee with a gun at one end, and a black white-turbaned native at the other. Away they went, left oar, right oar! I watched these simple manoeuvres from the far side, where, like the other guns, I was posted at the water's edge, in full view of the duck which were swimming about in mid water, chuckling at us I am sure. The native's rowing was a sight! first one oar high in the air, then the other. I saw Monteith had to change and did both rowing and shooting, probably the native had never seen a boat in his life! When M. began firing at the duck at long range, they got up the usual way, straight up, and then flew round and round, high up. I didn't know whether to watch the duck or enjoy looking at the village scene opposite, for it was at once delightfully new and delightfully familiar. There were mud-built cottages among feathery-foliaged trees with wide roofs of thatch of a silver grey colour, and above them were two or three palms against the sky. Biblical looking ladies went to and fro between lake and village, and each carried on her head a large, black, earthenware bowl steadied by one hand, and a smaller brass pot swinging in the other. Blue-black buffaloes and white and yellow cows sauntered on the sloping banks, watched by men in white clothes and turbans—it was all very sweet and peaceful in the soft morning light.
The ducks flew high of course, just out of range, but we banged away merrily at anything inside ninety yards! M. in the boat got within range of some confiding pochard, and we on shore got a few by flukes. They kept circling round for a long time as the other tanks in neighbourhood were almost dried up. Then it got very hot and I for one was glad to get my back against an aloe for a little shade and concealment, and sketched, and fired occasionally to be sociable, as a duck came within say eighty yards. See sketch and the futility of concealment. I thought it very delightful—the shooting was not too engrossing, the landscape was charming, and the village life interesting, and the simplicity of the whole proceeding distinctly amusing. F., one of our party, on the other side from me kept potting away regularly. He was surrounded with natives; his ideas as to what was "in shot" were great! Still, he told me the natives always swore he hit. The duck out here don't seem to mind small shot at a hundred or two hundred yards more than they do at home! Pretty white herons sailed round occasionally without fear, and sometimes I could positively hardly see for grey-green dragon flies hovering in front; there was one tern, or sea swallow—my favourite bird; but how came it do you think, so far from the sea?
Most of the duck had cleared off to other tanks by ten o'clock, so the fusilade stopped and we returned to the shade of a many-stemmed and rooted banyan tree where the desert met the sown, and had lunch and felt quite the old Indian, eating fearfully hot curry pasties and spiced sandwiches, as per sketch.
My five shooter is quite a novelty here, so I had to take it to bits and show how it worked, or rather, I began to show how it worked, did something wrong, and had to take it all to bits on this inauspicious occasion.
We shot on languidly till about one, that is, sat in the heat and occasionally let off a shot at a very wide duck, and another member of our party took his turn in the boat with a professed oarsmen from the village who was worse than the first, so we gave up, one by one and dawdled up to the village, picking up some dead duck on the way. Here is a jotting of our retriever—a native who slung a bundle of dry pithy sticks under one arm, waded out, and swam along somehow, with an overhand stroke, not elegant but fairly effective.—I also made jottings of buffaloes in the water, all but submerged, water lilies, little white herons, and women in bright colours washing clothes in reflections! What subjects for pictures—rather shoppy this for you? The buffaloes walked sometimes entirely under water for some two or three yards—and then they came up and blew like seals!—by all the saints, isn't this just the Kelpie we have heard of from Sandy and Donald and Padruigh—and how "It" comes up from the dark water and the lilies in the dusk, like a great black cow, with staring eyes and dripping weeds hanging from its mouth and shoulders!
I found the party under the shade of pepal trees beside the inverted boat, and the lunch basket, surrounded by the villagers of all ages. In front on the dust, in sunlight, a brown woman danced and whipped her bare flesh with a cord like a serpent, and another woman in soft, hanging, Madonna-like draperies, with a kid astride her hip and asleep on her breast, beat a tom-tom vigorously. The dancing woman's steps were the first of our sword dance—you see them round the world; she had ragged black hair, dusty brown skin, with various bits of coloured clothes twisted round her hips. Of the violent light and shade, and hot reflected light from the sandy red ground, and restless movements, I could only make this ghost of a sketch. Behind the women was a box, open on the side next us, fitted up as a shrine; in it sat an Indian goddess in vermilion and gold, with minor deities round her, all very fearsome. I was told it was a cholera goddess, and the dancing was to propitiate her and drive cholera out of the village. I'd fain remember the light and shade and colour, but it is difficult to do these unfamiliar scenes from memory; of scenes at home one can grasp more in the time, for many forms are familiar and others one can reason from these—that they must be so—this last a risky business—and query: is it Art or Fake?—forgive shop again, awfully sorry.
The drive home in mid-day sun with no shade was pretty considerably hot, through miles of unsheltered, hot, dusty road, but with regular tiger jungle on either side! Some of us slept—for me there was too much heat and too much to see for that.
I think we got fourteen duck. There were pochard and pintail and one like a mallard. The pochard are good to eat here.
To-morrow we go South—both sorry and glad to go—sorry to leave the little social circle and glad to be on the road again. Again we have had a glimpse of how quickly friends are made here. I suppose the extreme isolation makes one white man realise his dependence on the next white man, so that they naturally make the best of each other and become friends quickly.
Krishna bustles round packing things—bustles is hardly the word though, for his barefooted, silent effectiveness. And snoring hardly the word for the noise that son of a thief, the watchman, makes outside.
Good-bye to Dharwar, we are on the move again, the comparatively cold-weather tourists take the road south to Bangalore. We jog along at a respectable rate, not too fast and not too slow, say forty-five miles an hour top speed, and twenty-five mean, which allows us to see things to-day and remember what we saw yesterday.
Before leaving, biked down to the Native Town of Dharwar, a place full of interest, picturesque scenes, and somewhat sinister looking people—tried to make a picture of women and men at a well-head, a magnificent subject, but too difficult to do in a few minutes. There were men pulling up kerosene tins over a wheel, hand over hand, from the cool looking depths of the wide red sandstone well and filling goats' skins to sling on cows' backs, and women in sombre reds and blue wrappings, old and young, and rather monkeyish in appearance; still, some were not altogether bad looking. One old woman had almost Savonarola features, and the strip of blue from the sky on her brown back was telling as she and a young woman leant and pulled hand over hand at the rope. The water splashed on to the pavement round the well, reflected the rich colours of cloth and limb and patches of cobalt from the sky. The women seem to consider this is not a bad part of their day's work; to come to the well-head and chat with their neighbours and show off their jewellery, and probably wouldn't thank you for a modern engine to pump up the water in half the time. They are dirty little pigs; can you make out a little beast to the right, comparatively a superior, extra well-dressed beauty, with very polished black hair and a flower in it? No, I am afraid not; the reduction, or reproduction, obscures her charm completely. She looks round about her and rubs a family water pot with a little mud and water off the road, yet by her religion it would be defiled if my shadow fell on it.
I came away almost sick with the feeling of inability to remember all the movements of draperies and colours; this country needs a Philip and a Velasquez in one, to do it justice.
On the way home I pass a tank with two wide nights of steps down to it, banyan trees hang over it, and monkeys gambol on the ground, and about the dusty trunks. Up and down the steps women are passing with stately steps and slow, they loiter at the water's edge and gossip, then fill their dark earthenware bowls, lift them on to their heads with the help of a neighbour, and come slowly up the steps. The little brass bowls they carry on hip or at arm's length glitter with lights that hit the eye like electric sparks. One figure alone would make an artist's study for days. The colour from the red soil reflects under their raised arms and under their cheeks and into the classic folds of their draperies, strong blue, and deep red, in their shadows and throw up rich reflections to the undersides of the wet earthenware bowls; the water laps over their brims, and the sky reflects like sapphire on their upper surfaces.... Who will say, that colour is not the most beautiful thing in the world—the very flower of love and light and fire; the sign of preponderant katabolism or anabolism as the naturalist might possibly put it, to be perfectly explicit!
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People dined with us, and inside we had music of the masters by a mistress of music; and outside, some of us discussed names of stars; and dogs and jackals were stirred to the depths of their feelings by the moon: one especially at the end of the compound howled as if it was in a steel trap. At the side of the bungalow the guests' white cattle slept unyoked in the deep shadows of the trees, beside their white covered dumbies, all soft and blurred in silvery haze except where the light fell on a splash-board and shone like a jewel. And in front of us Eucharist lilies and China asters drooped their heads and slept.
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Though this is an express train we stop at lots of stations, which, of course, is just what we want, for there are fascinating groups to study all the way, and the slight changes in the character of the country are interesting. We go through first, what I take to be the black cotton soil, and later red soil again.
At one little station a Government official gets out of the train, a Deputy-Commissioner possibly, a dapper, fair man and a lady, a nurse, a fair child, and a fox terrier; in the shadow of some trees I see an escort of lancers and some foot soldiers waiting. We wonder who they can be, getting out in such a measureless, monotonous tract of level country. They seem so fair and isolated in this vast country of dark people.
... The afternoon passes, and as the sun goes down the shadows of our carriages spread wider over the plain. The sky becomes faint rose in the zenith, over the cerulean above the horizon, and the white clothes of the shepherds become golden, and the reds, yellows, and blues of the women's draperies become very vivid. We pass herds of cattle as finely bred as antelopes, all blurred into the glow of the late afternoon and the red soil. Then comes almost desert, flat as water, red gravel with bushes with few green leaves, and here and there a tree with its white stem gleaming against a long-drawn shadow. Over the horizon two hill tops show purple and red, then for ten minutes all flushes ruddy, burning gold, and vermilion, and the light goes out; and there follows a cold blackish violet that almost chills us, till the moon comes in full strength and glorifies the desert with its frosted silvery illumination. Little fires begin to burn alongside the railway, and we see groups of shepherds warming themselves and cooking. The third class passengers at the stations are tucking their chins between their knees and pulling their draperies, most of them scarlet, over their heads, and with the lamplight from above and the smoke of the hubble-bubble that floats over them they make very warm, soft masses of colour.
We stiffer people spread ourselves out over a space ten natives could sit in, and get under our blankets and feel uncommonly comfortable, take one more look at the blurr of moonlight on the silent waste, and address ourselves to sleep, fondly hoping we will remember a little of the beauty of the night 'gainst the "dark days made for our searching."
... The night passes, hour after hour—jogging south; at times we hear a voice calling in the wilderness the name of a station, which we do not know, and do not care to know; and there's a whiff perhaps of burning, a little like peat, from the fuel they burn here, which at home the farmers spread on their fields to make them "bring forth unnatural fruit."
There was a knocking and a calling "What ho—within there!" and I got up in the grey dawn and found my cousins outside our carriage, looking rather chilled. A native stationmaster had promised to wire to them for me, to tell them we would finish our eight hours sleep at the Bangalore siding. But here they were and had received no wire! Therefore, put not your faith in native stationmasters.
Our hosts have a lovely bungalow, I use the adjective advisedly and in its fullest sense as applied to the beauties of domestic architecture and surroundings. The white Doric pillars that support the semi-circular verandah are tall and well-proportioned, and support a pleasantly pitched tile roof. The tiles are of many weather-worn tints; above these are high trees with white stems and exquisitely delicate foliage, through which you see patches of blue sky. Down some of the pillars hang creepers, one is heavy with dark green leaves and deep orange flowers, another is covered with trumpet-shaped flowers of fleshy white; and a tall tree close to the verandah is covered with creeper that forms a perfect cascade of dark green leaves and mauve flowers.
The appearance of the bungalow, the lightness of the sunny air, and our kind welcome made us feel anything but way-worn travellers. Still; the above circumstances seemed uncommonly conducive to sleep on our first day at Bangalore.
What splendid rooms we have. Our bedrooms and dressing-rooms would make a chapel. And the style of construction is in charming taste—great simple spaces of distempered wall and matted floor and timbered ceiling, the structural features showing wherever they may be sightly, with breadth of spaces such as you see in Spanish houses; the furnishings simple, everything necessary, and little besides, a pleasant sense of room for growth.
Bangalore as a city is not at all compactly built together. The compounds round bungalows are really parks, and the roads are so wide and long that it takes hours to call on the nearest neighbour. R. had been stationed here some time, but his wife is a new arrival, so we found her engaged in making a round of first calls—the newcomer calls on the residents in India—seventeen in one day was her record I believe—possibly a Bangalore record—it would have killed any man.
We drove round the tanks and pretty avenues and parks after lunch, and through the native town. It positively takes one's breath away with its crowds of picturesque scenes—pictures every yard in the mile! Fortunately for us our host and hostess are as fond as we are of looking at things and trying to remember them, and delight in showing us places they have remarked for their picturesque interest. Of one of these characteristic tanks I have made a jotting in colour. Soft foliaged trees along a road on the top of a green enbankment were reflected in the calm water; at its edge, on stone steps and amongst the reeds, little copper-coloured women in rich colours stooped and washed brightly coloured clothes. The surface of the water was speckled with wild duck, which splashed and swam about making silvery ripples break into the warm reflection, and a faint smoke from the village softened the whole effect. White draped figures passed to and fro on the bund under the trees, sometimes aglow with rays that shot between the tree trunks, or again silhouetted violet against golden light—for "white is never white," as the drawing-master has it.
We were a very happy party of four at dinner, with many pleasant subjects to discuss—the journey out, and our friends on the Egypt, and the various people "we knew to speak to;" then we had to retail the most recent gossip from Dharwar, in which place R. was quartered for some years, and he told us old amusing stories about that station and its doings. Then there were questions of dress to be discussed by the Memsahibs, and we men had problems from home to solve—as to rearing of fish and game, and what we had done, and what we would like to do! and besides, what was serious, we had plans for future movements to make. There are so many sights to see here, and in front of us, and so many, it appears, we ought to have stopped to see between Bombay and here; however we realise that unless American born we can only assimilate what an American would consider to be a very little in a very long time, so we are going along slowly. We should properly go to see the Cauvery Falls, the water of which drives the dynamos there for the Kolar gold fields, sending the current that equals 11,000 horse power ninety-three miles by wire to Kolar, and fifty-seven to this place, to light the streets. Four hundred feet the water falls, in pipes, and drives the turbines; so in this, the dry season, there is little water to be seen. I can almost fancy I see this, and I may read about the engineering at home!
 See graphic description Cauvery Falls Power Station, Kolar Gold Fields, in "Vision of India:" by Sidney Low (Smith, Elder & Co.).
The Falls of Gairsoppa, it is decided in our evening confab, we must see, and we smoke various cheroots over them. So far we go in train, I understand, towards the coast and the wild west, then we get into tongas and creep down and under jungle day after day, an immensity of trees towering above till the wholesome light of the sky is shut out and you breathe in the damp depths of the primeval jungle, and see huge mosquitoes and diminutive aboriginal men with bows and arrows hiding from you like the beasts in the field that perish. So you travel day in day out, spending nights in Dak bungalows with nothing to eat but tins. I said, "It seems a damned long, dark, boggy, dangerous road," and D. was shocked, till I reminded her I was only quoting Tony Lumpkin. The explanation being doubtfully accepted, D. expatiated on the delight of coming out of the gloom to find all the stir and movement and light in the great opening where there was 829 feet of water tumbling into a cauldron full twenty fathoms deep, blue sky overhead, foam everywhere, rainbows, and more falls below, and glittering wet rocks and waving foliage all round. A hard place to fish, I thought. And believe I will just fancy I see this place too; it sounds rather a "circumbendibus" for us this journey.
And why leave Bangalore at all? Why fatigue ourselves seeing more places and sights than these we have near us? We feel inclined to pitch our tents here for a prolonged stay, the light is so brilliant and air sunny and refreshing, and there are subjects for pictures on all sides of all kinds; of village life, people, beasts and foliage—such exquisite Corot foliage—and reflections in reedy pools.
As I write, within a stone throw of my dressing-room, there appears a queenly figure, draped in crimson edged with gold, from the shadows of the trees. She stands in full sun, beside grey boulders under green foliage; cattle finely bred, like deer, feed on either side of her, and the sapling stems draw shadows on their fawn and white hides, and across the withered, short, dry grass. She belongs to R.'s establishment, I suppose—wife of a Sweeper perhaps, but at this distance she might be a Grecian goddess for she is too far off to distinguish features. The golden brown of her face and the blue-black of the hair under the crimson and gold in full afternoon sun are splendid against the depths of green shadow. Her contemplative attitude suggests at once repose and calm expectancy.
This afternoon I made another jotting of a woman herding a cow in a dell at the side of the road shaded from the rays of the afternoon sun. Her dress was metallic-blue, in folds as severely classical as those of a Muse of Herculaneum, and it was edged with lines of pale gold. On her brown arms were silver bangles, and a band of dull rose round the short sleeves of the bodice. She led a white cow and its calf, and they browsed on the leaves of oleander; the pink geranium coloured flowers and grey-green leaves harmonised with the white skins of her beasts. The black touch in the picture was her smooth black hair and painted eyebrows.
Here follows a pen scribble in my journal of what happens in this household once a week I understand. Before dinner mine host and hostess give some signal and the servants line up on the verandah and their wages are paid. Such a lot of ground is covered and so very quickly. R. knows apparently all about each servant, how many children this man has, and whether they are married or single, and what he owes the money-lender, what part of the country he comes from, etc., etc. Mrs B. checks off everything paid out. So from bridge making and railway contracts in the early morning to annas and pice for servants in the evening has been R.'s day's work; half-an-hour at this minor business and we are free for dinner, host and hostess, at any rate, conscious of a day's work done.
We were enjoying our cheroots to-night in the warm dusk in the verandah, when there was a shout that there was a thief in the house—we jumped! R. into one entrance, I into another, and we scurried round the big, dark drawing-room trying to catch him; someone passed me and I "held him low"—it was R. and I felt small! The thief had got out between us, and had jumped a pretty high balcony, and we followed with a View Haloo or something to that effect in Tamil from R. I never saw the thief, but R. said he disappeared under a road bridge which led to a donga and jungle and native huts. He dodged a neighbour's butler who was brought out by the shouts, and got away. He had only just got into the house, for there were only some small silver things taken. It was like a scene from a comic opera when we got back, as our host and hostess with old fashioned lamps went along their line of white-robed servants. These were all dying to speak at once, but had each to wait his turn and give his account of how the thief had come in, how he was seen, and what he was doing when the alarm was given.
With this veracious account of an inglorious adventure I will draw another day's journal to its close, and if the reader is not asleep, we will now proceed to consider the subject of snipe shooting.
December ...—We left "Locksley Hall" at 7.30, and D. came to station to see us off and to give last instructions to the servants about catering for us. We have to train all night till two in the morning, then shoot duck and snipe at an out of the way tank, get back to train at twelve, and then home after another day and night in train. A long journey for a small shoot, but for R. the shoot is only a minor consideration. All along the road he stops at stations and gets reports front contractors and workers on the line, and generally sees that the line is in working order. His assistant engineer comes with his own carriage. R., as senior, can take the tail of train with our carriage so that he can watch the track as we jog along. It's a nice slow train, and you think you could walk beside it up the hills, but in reality you have to go at a gentle trot.
Bangalore Station was a sight for a tenderfoot—brim full of colour and types. Half in shadow half in light, as if several theatrical companies were on tour in their costumes—a company, say of The Merchant of Venice, another of The Cingalee, and a Variety Show or two. There were sellers of green bananas and soda water and native sweet cakes in all the colours you can think of, and British soldiers in khaki and pith helmets, and everyone running about with properties and luggage on their heads and in their hands.
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This is, to my mind, a luxurious way of travelling. Both carriages have berths, bathroom, and kitchen, all very diminutive except the berths. Our kitchen would hardly hold one European, but holds at least three natives. At five and a half miles an hour you can do all sorts of things, paint or snooze, or, as I prefer to do on this day, sit in a comfortable arm-chair with feet in the sun on the after platform and watch the line running away behind into the vanishing point.
R.'s assistant, H., is in our carriage, and these two pull out all sorts of documents and papers flooded with figures and go into their work, and talk of cement, sleepers, measurements, curve stresses and strains generally, and of the particular bits of business on hand; but occasionally they have a minute or two off and we find ourselves talking of duck and snipe and overhauling decoys, R. and H. discussing the chances of the season at this tank or the other. Then they get to business again, about a native contractor perhaps—is he all right, or is he not?—and every now and then we disembark and have a brief chat with a stationmaster, and look at points or trees and buildings; these matters are gone through pretty quickly, and we get on to the tail of our train again as it slowly moves off.
We are going now through a gravelly red soil, the sun blazing hot. We go so comfortably slowly that we can lean out and see our little narrow gauge train crawling along like a silver grey caterpillar, for the passenger cars and goods cars are round topped like Saratoga trunks, and their French grey colour harmonises with the hedge of grey-green cactus leaves on the side of the line. Beyond the train we see the lines like curves of blue riband on the yellow and white quartz ballast of the track. Our little engine puffs up little rags of white against the blue sky. Add a touch of bright colour, a flutter of pink drapery, and a brown shoulder, a finely modelled arm and bangle at a carriage window, catching the cool draught, and you have, I think, quite a pleasant colour scheme. The track is so tidy that there are white quartz stones arranged along each side of the yellow quartz ballast, and where there is sand ballast it is patted down as neatly as a pie crust. R. says it is difficult to prevent the native navvy making geometric designs with the coloured quartz.
By the afternoon we are in a wide-spreading country, only broken with clumps of palms at great distances. The soil is dull red, almost magenta at the edge of cuttings, and above on the plains it is yellow ochre with scrub bushes and many lemon-yellow blossoms. As the sun sets we pass flocks of sheep and goats collecting for protection within tall zerebas of thorn and palm leaves. The dust they raise catches the sun and hangs over them in a golden mist. Far out on the horizon there is one streak of warm violet where some low hills appear—a simple enough landscape, with not many features, but with the charm that belongs to scenes at sea or in the desert, where there are but two elements to hold the thoughts.