内蒙古通报千年辽塔修缮滞后情况:下月完成修缮方案

In the town, at a spot where several alleys meet, stood a mob of people holding out the ends of their sarees or dhotis to catch handfuls of grain which a kshatriya was throwing to them from a[Pg 170] window, though he looked almost as ragged as the beggars collected in front of the house. One of the largest buildings once slid into the river during an earthquake, and stands there complete and unbroken, its magnificence surviving under water. Some minarets only rise above the surface like kiosks, and form a landing-stage, invaded by[Pg 159] the bathers, who wash themselves with much gesticulation, flourishing their long sarongs and white loin-cloths, which they spread out to dry on the steps.

In the evening at Byculla, in the street of the disreputable, in front of a house hermetically closed, and painted with a round red spot for each person who had died there, a fire of sulphur was burning with a livid glow. Only one gambling-house tried to tempt customers with a great noise of harmonium and tom-toms; and from a side street came a response of muffled tambourines and castanets. First the dead, wrapped in red stuff and tied to a bamboo, and then the procession turned into the lighted street. White shapes crowded by, vanishing at once, and the harmonium again rose above the silence with its skipping tunes, and the tom-toms beating out of timeand attracted no one.

Another templecarved and pierced, and loaded and overloaded with ornament. In the crypt was a bas-relief representing the ceremony of marriage: the procession, the couple in front of the altar, the relations sitting round, all alike in the same crouching attitude, like toys set out by a little child. Then the model of a very famous temple elsewhere in India: columns, gateways, statues of the gods, all reproduced with microscopic exactitude down to the minutest details; and surrounding this tiny model a bas-relief of the most bewildering perspectivea plan of Satrunji with its fifty-two principal temples, its trees and sacred tanks; and as a pendant to this representation, a circular carving giving a bird's-eye view of the crowd, the same little doll-like figures[Pg 79] repeated again and again, coming to worship with arms and legs spread out, grovelling, as if they were swimming.

The game had begun. The prince's cousins, dressed in light white muslin, seemed to fly as they ran after the ball in the fluttering of the diaphanous stuff. Near a temple some bells and tom-toms animated the silence with their clang and clatter. Worshippers stole in noiselessly, barefoot on the stones, and entered the sanctuary, within which tapers were burning.

Not far from the great hospital, in huts of bamboo and matting, some Hindoos were isolated, who refused to be attended by any but native doctors, or to take anything but simples. An old man lay there who had a sort of stiff white paste applied to the swellings under his arms. He, too, was delirious, and watched us go by with a vague, stupefied glareeyes that were already dead. In one of the alleys by the outer wall was a little house with a door in carved panels framing[Pg 243] inlaid work as delicate as woven damask. A crowd surrounding it could not be persuaded by Abibulla's eloquence to make way for me, a suspicious-looking stranger. The Rajah being absent we were allowed to see everything. On the upper floor is the Ranee's dressing-room. All round the large room were glass wardrobes, in which could be seen bodices in the latest Paris fashion, and ugly enough; and then a perfect rainbow of tender opaline hues: light silks as fine as cobwebs, shawls of every dye in Cashmere wool with woven patterns, and[Pg 53] gauze of that delicate rose-colour and of the yellow that looks like gold with the light shining through, which are only to be seen in Indiaroyal fabrics, dream-colours, carefully laid up in sandal-wood and stored behind glass and thick curtains, which were dropped over them as soon as we had looked. And crowding every table and bracket were the most childish thingsscreens, cups and boxes in imitation bronze, set with false stonesthe playthings of a little barbarian. A coloured photograph stood on the toilet-table between brushes and pomatum-pots; it represented the mistress of this abode, a slender doll without brains, her eyes fixed on vacancy.

And the figures go down after long discussions, till at last the question as to whether I know the worth of pashmina begins all over againendless.