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Title: From Edinburgh to India & Burmah
Author: Burn Murdoch, W. G. (William Gordon), 1862-1939
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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                            FROM EDINBURGH
                         TO INDIA AND BURMAH


[Illustration: Ayah and Child]


                            FROM EDINBURGH TO
                             INDIA & BURMAH



                                   BY
                           W. G. BURN MURDOCH

                                Author of
         "From Edinburgh to the Antarctic," "A Procession of the
                        Kings of Scotland," etc.



           _WITH TWENTY-FOUR FULL-PAGE ILLUSTRATIONS IN COLOUR
                     FROM PAINTINGS BY THE AUTHOR_

                                 LONDON
                      GEORGE ROUTLEDGE & SONS, LTD.
                       NEW YORK: E. P. DUTTON & CO.


                                  _TO_
                                 ST. C.
                                   C.



                                Contents


                                 CHAP. I

                      Introducing these Digressions.
                          Point of Departure.
                        Edinburgh Street Scenes.
                    Flying Impressions from the Train
                                   to
                                 LONDON.

           Street Scenes there -- The Park and Regent Street.
                       The People in the Streets.
               Our Royalties gone, and Loyalty -- going.
             Piccadilly Circus by Night, and Mount Street.       pp. 1-8

                                CHAP. II

        London to Tilbury, and the Platform at Victoria Station.
                    The Embarkation on a P. & O.
                              A Bugle Call.
                      The luxury of being at sea.
                             The Bay, and
                          "Spun Yarns" on to                        9-18

                                CHAP. III

                        Down the Portugese Coast.
                       High Art in the Engine-Room.
                          Our People going East.
               A Blustery Day, and the Straits of Gibraltar.
                     Gib and Spain, and "Poor Barbara."            19-26

                                CHAP. IV

                  A Blue Day at Sea, and Castles in Spain.
                     A Fire Alarm, and A Dummy Dinner.
                       The Beautiful French Lady.
                   Marseilles and the Crowd on the Wharf.
              _Bouillabaisses_, and Réjane, and Cyrano, etc.,
                  and the head of a Serang for a tail-piece.       27-34

                                CHAP. V

          About the Crowd on Board, and the discomfort of a voyage
                 first class -- British types -- Reflections
                     on the Deck and on the Sea -- of
                Sky, and People, and of things in general.
                  A P. & O. yarn, Old Junk, or Chestnut.
                         Respectability and Art.
                   It gets warm -- The Punkah Infliction.
                    Egypt in Sight, and the Nile Water.

  Port Said and its Inhabitants -- Jock Furgusson and Ors.
    Corsica, Sardinia, Lipari Islands, Stromboli, Crete,
    and The Acts of the Apostles.                                  35-45

                                CHAP. VI

  The saddest thing in Egypt -- Dancing in the Canal, and
    the Search-light on the Desert -- The fizzling hot blue
    Red Sea, and digressions about rose-red Italian wine, &
    Ulysses, and Callum Bhouie, and Uisquebaugh.                   46-53

                                CHAP. VII

  Is still about the Red Sea -- "The Barren Rocks of Aden,"
    and small talk about small events on board -- a fancy
    dress dance, and sports, and so on to BOMBAY.                  54-62

                                CHAP. VIII

  Is -- without apologies -- of first impressions of India;
    and about the landing and entertainments of their Royal
    Highnesses the Prince and Princess of Wales -- Great
    people and little people, and their affairs; Royal
    Receptions to snake-charmers -- Illuminations,
    Gun-firing, and the Bands playing God save the King --
    Edward the --?                                                 63-74

                                CHAP. IX

  This chapter continues to deal with splendid Royal Shows,
    and there is the precis of a dream of a Prince and an
    A.D.C., who correct the Abuses of the Privileges of the
    Royal Academies.                                               75-84

                                CHAP. X

  And this is about the arrival of Lord Minto, and the
    departure of Lord Curzon, and the Tomasha connected
    therewith; Vice-regal Receptions, and Processions, and
    more band playing, and gun-firing.                            85-101

                                CHAP. XI

  Chronicles small beer -- things about books and little
    Indian beasts and natives, and there is another
    digression to the subject of "English _v._ British
    Union, and the Imperial Idea," and a sail over the Bay
    with a piratical (looking) crew, to the caves of
    Elephanta.                                                   102-111

                                CHAP. XII

  Is a somewhat lengthy drawn-out chapter about a train
    journey from Bombay up the Western Ghats, and down south
    on the Deccan (Dekkan) Tableland to Dharwar -- Rather a
    "carpet-bag chapter," to quote Professor Masson.             112-122

                                CHAP. XIII

                                Dharwar.
                         My Brother's Bungalow.
                        Life in a small Station.
                               The Club.
                            Duck-shooting                        123-135

                               CHAP. XIV

         A letter on the subject of DUCK -- And a Cholera Goddess.
                                                                 136-144
                               CHAP. XV

  Last evening at Dharwar, then notes in the train south to
    Bangalore.                                                   145-149

                               CHAP. XVI

  Is of notes and sketches about things you see in
    Bangalore.                                                   150-156

                               CHAP. XVII

  Is of a long journey for a small shoot -- Life on the
    Railway Line, and a letter about SNIPE.

  Our day's shoot is cut in two by the Royal Procession, and
    we go to the Embassy, then to jail, and make a picture
    of the Bazaar by lamplight, and discourse on the subject
    of music with the Maharajah of Mysore.                       157-173

                               CHAP. XVIII

  Is about the Maharajah's Palace at Mysore -- To
    Seringapatam in Trollies -- Remarks about the Siege,
    mosquitoes, and landscape -- Back to Mysore, and Dinner
    on the Track.                                                174-185

                               CHAP. XIX

  Channapatna Village, and a free tip to artists -- Our Camp
    in a railway siding in "beechen green, and shadows
    numberless" -- Thoughts of Madras and the Ocean again --
    How we rule India, and _ghosts_ on the railway track --
    A Bank in India, and about cooking, and the Indian
    squirrel or Chip-monk -- The Maharajah -- Red
    Chupprassies -- The Museum, and Ants, etc., etc.             186-196

                               CHAP. XX

  _En route_ for Madras -- A plague inspection in the grey
    of the morning -- Madras and blue southern ocean,
    through Tamarisks, and the silvery Cooum and fishermen
    seine-netting on the strand -- The Race-course -- The
    Old Fort of the Company -- Dinner at the Fort, and the
    people we saw there; and of those we remembered who once
    lived there -- A Digression from Crows to ancient Naval
    Architecture, and the new Order of Precedence.               197-209

                              CHAP. XXI

  A delightful Fishing Day -- Surf Rafts. -- Making Calls --
    Boating on the Adyar River -- A Sunday in Madras
    Churches, and on a Surf Raft -- End of the Year.             210-220

                              CHAP. XXII

  1st JAN. 1906. -- Call at Government House -- The Fort
    again -- More about Surf Rafts -- Lord Ampthill's
    Government House Reception -- Nabobs and nobodies. --
    Fireworks and pretty dresses, and the band playing.          221-226

                              CHAP. XXIII

  Out of Madras, and on the blue sea again, bound West to
    Burmah -- Packed with Natives -- An unsavoury Passage
    Ruskin's English and Native Essayists.                       227-231

                              CHAP. XXIV

  GOLDEN BURMAH, and the Golden Pagoda -- a gymkhana dance
    -- Sketching at the Pagoda entrance -- Various races --
    Bachelor's quarters -- The Shan Camp -- Princesses and
    Chieftains, and their followings -- Mr Bertram Carey,
    C.I.E. -- The peace of the platform of The Shwey Dagon
    Pagoda.                                                      232-244

                              CHAP. XXV

  "The Blairin' trumpet sounded far," and the Prince comes
    over the sea, and lands at Rangoon -- Receptions and
    processions; pandols, shamianas; and Royal Tomasha --
    Illuminations at night on the Lake, and the Royal Barges
    -- Song about Our King Emperor -- We start for Mandalay
    by river-boat up the IRRAWADDY.                              245-250

                             CHAP. XXVI

  The Flotilla Co. -- Bassein-Creek mosquitoes --
    Searchlight fantasies fairy-like scenes on the river by
    night and day -- Up stream on a perfect yacht -- Past
    perfectly lovely villages and scenes -- The Nile nowhere
    -- Mr Fielding Hall -- Riverside delights -- Prome --
    Pagodas -- The Prince comes down the river.                  251-263

                             CHAP. XXVII

  THAYET MYO, 20th Jany. -- It gets cooler -- Thoughts of
    big game -- Watteau trees -- Sweet pea dresses --
    Country scenes -- Popa Mountain -- The Fanes of Pagan --
    A little about shooting and geese -- and the pleasures
    of the river life to end of chapter.                         264-275

                             CHAP. XXVIII

  The shore at Mandalay -- The Queen's (Supayalat) golden
    Kioung or Monastery -- Street scenes -- THE ARRAKAN
    PAGODA, and scenes for a Rubens or Rembrandt -- The
    Mecca of this Eastern Asia -- Burmese women bathing -- A
    Burmese harper -- The Phryne in hunting green kirtle --
    Mingun and the pagoda that was to have been the biggest
    in the world, and the 90-ton bell -- Mr Graham's house
    -- Life on S.S. "Mandalay" at the Mandalay shore -- King
    Thebaw's Palace.                                             276-293

                              CHAP. XXIX

                             Away to Bhamo!

  Off again -- In a cargo steamer up river to the end of the
    Empire this way -- The markets on board and Burmese life
    -- Changing views, flowers, sunlight and swirling river
    -- Fishing -- Geese -- Painting -- Cascades of beautiful
    people, Snipe-shooting, and more fishing.                    294-302

                               CHAP. XXX

  Anchor up -- Mist on the river -- "Stop her" -- Pagodas
    and cane villages -- Fishing with fly; A 35-lber -- The
    Elephant Kedar Camp -- Animal life on the river banks --
    We go aground -- The crew strike work -- We get away
    again -- Kalone to Katha.                                    303-313

                               CHAP. XXXI

  Sunshine and haar -- Children of Cleutha -- Moda -- Girls
    and old ladies of Upper Burmah -- We meet a Punitive
    Expedition, Sikhs and Ghurkas under a Gunner-Officer
    returning from Chin hills to Bhamo -- Fog banks and the
    second Defiles -- Jungle scenery -- Shans and Kachins at
    Sinkan -- We go shopping on an elephant at BHAMO --
    China Street -- A Chinese gentleman's house -- The Joss
    House -- Painting in a Chinese crowd -- Marooned.            314-327

                              CHAP. XXXII

  The D.-C. Bungalow -- Roses, orchids, and "The Mystery."       328-330

                              CHAP. XXXIII

  Many pages, lengthy, descriptive, of an expedition in
    canoes, and on elephant back through pucca jungle to
    shoot snipe, and of our entertainment in the evening at
    the Military Police Fort, with Kachin dances in
    moonlight -- A Review of Kachin native police.               331-342

                              CHAP. XXXIV

  Preparations for our pilgrimage into China -- Our
    servants, ponies, and live stock -- On the Road -- From
    Bhamo to the back parts of China -- The first
    Rest-House.                                                  343-347

                              CHAP. XXXV

  Kalychet -- A mid-day halt and Mahseer fishing -- Views in
    the Kachin Highland Forests -- Rivers -- "Seven bens and
    seven glens" -- Caravans on the track -- The Taiping
    river -- A Spate -- Fishing                                  348-357

                              CHAP. XXXVI

  "On the Water" continued -- Nampoung -- The edge of the
    Empire -- Six to seven thousand feet up, and cold at
    night.                                                       358-362

                              CHAP. XXXVII

  Nampoung river -- A fish in the bag, a cup, and a pipe, by
    the river side -- We wade into China -- Meet the Chinese
    army and wade back -- Another cast in the Taiping -- "G"
    collects many orchids -- From Kalychet to Momouk --
    Riding in the sun in the morning and back to the plains
    alas! A pleasant evening with the Military Police. A
    study of a Kachin beauty, and of an average type of
    Upper Burmese girl -- Good-bye Bhamo -- Paddling down
    the Irrawaddy -- More river-side notes -- A.1. shooting,
    to the writer's mind -- The Luxury of a Cargo Boat of
    the Flotilla Company -- Deep Sea Chanties, and Mandalay
    again.                                                       363-379

                             CHAP. XXXVIII

  We drop from the comfort of the Cargo Steamer to the
    comparative discomfort of the train at Rangoon --
    Another plaguey inspection -- Another joyous embarkation
    on another B.I. Boat -- Calcutta -- Benares and its
    Ghats; after the Golden Beauty of Burmah! -- Street
    scenes and riverside horrors -- A muddle of indecencies
    and religions -- A superior Fakir's portrait --
    333,000,000 gods -- An artist's private deductions --
    _Les Indes sans le British_ -- Delhi and Agra.               380-391

                              CHAP. XXXIX

  India generally speaking, as a preamble to several pages
    about Black Buck shooting.

  The Taj Mahal not described -- Sha Jehans portrait.            392-401



                    LIST OF COLOURED ILLUSTRATIONS
                                   BY
                             AUTHOR AND "G."


                              _By Author_

  Ayah and Child                                          _Frontispiece_
  A Glimpse of the North Sea                         _to face page_    4
  Piccadilly Circus, by Night                                          8
  A Spanish Woman                                                     26
  A Café, Port Said                                                   44
  Aden, and Fan-sellers                                               58
  Waiting for Carriages after Reception at                            79
      Government House, Bombay
  Lord Minto's Landing in India                                       92
  A Reception in Government House, Bombay.                            98
  Sailing from Elephanta                                             111
  An Indian Tank                                                     151
  A Street Corner, Bangalore                                         171
  Entrance to the Shwey Dagon Pagoda, Rangoon                        237
  H.R.H. Prince and Princess of Wales                                249
      landing at the Boat Club, Rangoon
  A Burmese Harpist                                                  284
  A Priests' Bathing Pool                                            302
  A Chinese Joss House                                               324
  A Kachin Girl                                                      370
  A Girl of Upper Burmah                                             372
  A Fakir at Benares                                                 387
  A Delhi Street Scene                                               390

                           _Illustrations by "G_."

  A Sacred Lake near Rangoon                                         244
  Sunset on the Irrawaddy                                            251
  Mid-day on the Irrawaddy, distant Ruby Mountains                   298



CHAPTER I

[Illustration]

Some time ago I wrote a book about a voyage in a whaler to the far
south, to a white, silent land where the sun shines all day and night
and it is quiet as the grave and beautiful as heaven--when it is not
blowing and black as--the other place! A number of people said they
liked it, and asked me to write again; therefore these notes and
sketches on a Journey to India and Burmah. They may not be so
interesting as notes about Antarctic adventure and jolly old Shell Backs
and South Spainers on a whaler; but one journal ought at least, to be a
contrast to the other. The first, a voyage on a tiny wooden ship with a
menu of salt beef, biscuit, and penguin, to unsailed seas and
uninhabited ice-bound lands; the other, in a floating hotel, with
complicated meals, and crowds of passengers, to a hot land with
innumerable inhabitants.

I trust that the sketches I make on the way will help out my notes when
they are not quite King's-English, and that the notes will help to
explain the sketches if they are not sufficiently academical for the
general reader, and moreover, I fondly believe that any journal written
in the East in these years of grace 1905-6, must catch a little
reflected interest from the historic visit of their Royal Highnesses the
Prince and Princess of Wales to India and Burmah.

Edinburgh is our point of departure; the date 13th Oct. and the hour 10
P.M. All journeys seem to me to begin in Edinburgh, from the moment my
baggage is on the dickey and the word "Waverley" is given to the cabby.
On this occasion we have three cabs, and a pile of baggage, for six
months clothing for hot and cold places, and sketching, shooting, and
fishing things take space. I trundle down to the station in advance with
the luggage, and leave G. and her maid to follow, and thus miss the
tearful parting with domestics in our marble halls.... Good-bye Auld
Reekie, good-bye. Parting with you is not all sorrow; yet before we
cross the Old Town I begin to wonder why I leave you to paint abroad;
for I am positive your streets are just as picturesque and as dirty and
as paintable as any to be found in the world. Perhaps the very fact of
our going away intensifies last impressions.... There is a street corner
I passed often last year; two girls are gazing up at the glory of colour
of dresses and ribbons and laces in electric light, and a workman reads
his evening paper beside the window--it is a subject for a
Velasquez--all the same I will have a shot at it, and work it up on
board ship; it will make an initial letter for this first page of my
journal.

Across the Old Town we meet the North Sea mist blowing up The Bridges,
fighting high up with the tall arc lights. What variety of colour there
is and movement; the lights of the shops flood the lower part of the
street and buildings with a warm orange, there are emerald, ruby, and
yellow lights in the apothecary's windows, primary colours and
complementary, direct and reflected from the wet pavements; the clothes
of passing people run from blue-black to brown and dull red against the
glow, and there's a girl's scarlet hat and an emerald green
signboard--choice of tints and no mistake--we will take the lot for a
first illustration, and in London perhaps, we will get another street
scene or two, and so on; as we go south and east we will pick up
pictures along the road--from Edinburgh to Mandalay with coloured
pictures all the way, notes of the outside of things only, no inner
meanings guaranteed--the reflections on the shop windows as it
were--anyone can see the things inside.

[Illustration: A Glimpse of the North Sea]

An old friend met us at the station; he had just heard of our exodus and
came to wish us good-bye as we used to do in school-days, when we
considered a journey to England was rather an event. He spoke of
"Tigers;" India and tigers are bracketed in his mind, and I am certain
he would get tiger-shooting somehow or other if he were to go East; he
looked a little surprised and sad when I affirmed that I went rather to
paint and see things than to shoot. Shooting and other sports we can
have at home, and after all, is not trying to see things and depict them
the most exciting form of sport? I am sure it is as interesting; and
that more skill and quickness of hand and eye is required to catch with
brush or pen point a flying impression from a cab window or the train
than in potting stripes in a jungle.

Look you--this I call sport! To catch this nocturne in the train, the
exact tint of the blue-black night, framed in the window of our lamp-lit
carriage; or the soft night effect on field and cliff and sea as we
pass. No academical pot shot this, for we are swinging south down the
east coast past Cockburnspath (Coppath, the natives call it) at sixty
miles the hour, so we must be quick to get any part of the night firmly
impressed. There is faint moonlight through low clouds (the night for
flighting duck), the land blurred, and you can hardly see the farmer's
handiwork on the stubbles; there are trees and a homestead massed in
shadow, with a lamp-lit window, lemon yellow against the calm
lead-coloured sea, and a soft broad band of white shows straight down
the coast where the surf tumbles, each breaker catches a touch of
silvery moonlight. The foam looks soft as wool, but I know two nights
ago, an iron ship was torn to bits on the red rocks it covers.... I must
get this down in colour to-morrow in my attic under the tiles of the
Coburg. Who knows--some day it may be worth a tiger's skin (with the
frame included).... There is the light now on the Farnes, and Holy
Island we can dimly make out.

To the right we look to see if the bison at Haggerston are showing their
great heads above the low mists on the fields.... The night is cold,
there is the first touch of winter in the air. It is time to knock out
my pipe and turn in, to dream of India's coral strand, as we roll away
south across the level fields of England.

[Illustration: A Glimpse of the North Sea]

In London town we arrive very early; an early Sunday morning in
autumn in the East of London is not the most delightful time to be
there. It is smelly and sordid, and the streets are almost empty of
people, but I notice two tall young men in rags, beating up either side
of a street, their hands deep in their pockets as if they were cold;
they are looking for cigarette ends, I expect, and scraps of food; and
we are driving along very comfortably to our hotel and breakfast. An
hour or two later we are in the park at church-parade; a little pale sun
comes through the smoky air, and a chilly breeze brings the yellow
leaves streaming to the ground. There are gorgeous hats on the lines of
sparrows nests, and manifold draperies and corduroys and ermines and
purple things, with presumably good-looking women inside. We men run to
purple ties this year, quite a plucky contrast to our regulation
toppers, black coats and sober tweed trousers. And one unto the other
says, "Hillo--you here again! Who'd have expected to see you, dear
fellow! What sort of bag did you get; good sport, eh?" "Oh,
good--good--awfully good! Such a good year all round, you know, and
partridges, they say, are splendid; hasn't been such a good season for
years; awfully sorry to miss 'em. And when do you go back?--On the
_Egypt_!--Oh, by Jove! won't there be a crowd! Horrid bore, you
know--'pon my word everyone is goin' East now; you can't get away from
people anywhere! It's the Prince's visit you know; what I mean is, it's
such a draw, don't you know."

Monday morning in Regent Street.--Sauntering with St C., looking at the
crowd and incubators and buying things we could probably get just as
well in Bombay; but Indian ink and colours, and these really important
things we dare not leave behind. What a pleasant street it is to saunter
in once or twice in a year or so; what a variety of nationalities and
pretty faces there are to see. The air is fresh and autumnal, and
overhead a northerly breeze blows wisps of white cloud across a bright
blue sky, and just floats out the French Tricolours and the Union Jacks
with which the street is decorated. The houses on one side are in quite
hot sun; the other side of the street is in cold bluey shade, which
extends more than half across the road. A cart crawls up the shaded
side, leaving a track of yellow sand in its wake; someone is coming, and
the crowd waits patiently.... Now mounted police appear in the distant
haze and come trotting towards us, and the guards with glittering
breastplates are rattling past and away in a breath! Then outriders and
a carriage, and a brown face, moustached and bearded, and the Prince
goes by, and the crowd cheers--and I pray we may both get a tiger. Then
the King passes with Lord Minto, I think. We have come to London for
something!

Possibly in the fulness of time we may see kings in our Northern Capital
oftener than we do now. We need ceremonies, a little sand on the street
occasionally, and a parade or two--ceremonies are the expression of
inward feelings; without occasion for the expression of the sentiment of
loyalty, the sense must go ... the loyalty of a second northern
people--going--going--for a little sand and bunting--and--NO OFFER?

[Illustration]

There is no chance of ennui in the week in London before a voyage; you
have packing, shopping, insuring, and buying tickets and general
bustling round--what charming occupations for the contemplative mind!
Then you throw in visits to friends, and acquaintances call on you, all
in the concentrated week; you breakfast late, lunch heavily, rush off to
a hurried dinner somewhere, then rush off to a play or some function or
other, supper somewhere else and then home, too late for half a pipe;
engagements about clothes, hats, dresses, guns, lunches, dinners,
theatres, you have all in your mind, awake and asleep, and as you run
about attending to essentials and superfluities, you jostle with the
collarless man in the street, and note the hungry look, and reflect how
thin is the ice that bears you and how easy it is to go through, just a
step, and you are over the neck--collar gone and the crease out of the
trousers. A friend of mine went through the other day and no one knew;
he lived on brown bread and water for ever so long, but stuck to his
evening clothes, and now he sits in the seats of the mighty. What "a
Variorem" it all is--tragedy and comedy written in the lines of faces
and the cut of clothes. But I confess; what interests me in London more
than types or individuals, are the street scenes and figures seen
collectively. What pictures there are at every turning, and yet how
seldom we see them painted. With the utmost modesty in the world I will
have a try in passing at Piccadilly Circus. Is there a street scene so
fascinating as that centre for colour and movement?--say on a May night,
with people going to the theatres, the sky steely blue and ruddy over
the house-tops, the Pavilion and Criterion lights orange and green
glinting on the polished road and flickering on the flying hansom
wheels--or The Circus in a wet night, a whirlpool of moving lights and
shadows and wavering reflections! What a contrast to the quiet effects
in some side street; for example this street seen half in moonlight,
beneath my window in the Coburg; the only sound the click clack of the
busy horse's feet on the wood pavement, as hansoms and carriages flit
round from Berkeley Square--there's a levee to night, and their yellow
lamps string up Mount Street and divide beneath me into Carlos Place.

... My tailor has sent me such an excellent cardboard box to paint on,
so I will use it for this effect in Muzii colours; it will make a drop
scene or tail piece to this first chapter of these "Digressions."

[Illustration]

[Illustration: Piccadilly Circus, by Night.]



CHAPTER II


LONDON TO TILBURY.--If I am to write notes about a journey to the Far
East, I must not miss out the exciting part between Grosvenor Square and
Liverpool Street Station. The excitement comes in as you watch the
policeman's hand at the block in the city and wonder if it will stop
your journey; down it comes though, and we are in time, and have a
minute to spare to rejoice on the platform with our cousin and niece who
are going out with us, or rather with whom we home people are going out
to India.

There were those on the platform not so happy as we were; an old lady I
saw held the hand of a young soldier in pathetic silence, and the smiles
on the faces of those left at home were not particularly cheerful, and
the grey set expression of men leaving wives and children is hard to
forget. A younger lady I saw on the platform smiling, and straight as a
soldier, threw herself into her sister's arms as the train moved off in
a perfect abandonment of grief, and the wrinkles in the old lady's face
as we passed were full of tears--two to one against her seeing the young
man, son, or grandson, on this side. But I suppose that is India all
over--many partings, a few tears shed, and enough kept back to float a
fleet.

Our 'guid brither'[1] and his wife have come in the train with us to
Tilbury to see us on board, so we are all very jolly and the sun shines
bright on the river and white cumulous clouds, and the brown sails of
the barges are swelling with a brisk north-east breeze as they come up
on the top of the flood. The "Egypt" lies in mid-stream, and all the
passengers of our train go off to it in tenders, along with hundreds of
friends who have come to see them off--there is a crowd! Passengers only
bring hand baggage with them, the rest went on board yesterday; the
embarkation is beautifully managed and orderly, there is an astonishing
repression of excitement and show of out of place feeling. To compare
this embarkation with that on a foreign liner; I have seen the whole
business of taking passengers and luggage on board an Italian liner
stopped for minutes by one Egyptian with a tin of milk on the gangway,
holding forth on his grievances to the world at large, whilst handsome
officers on deck smiled futilely, their white-gloved hands behind their
backs. I suppose it is this military precision that gives the P. & O.
their name and their passengers a sense of security; but there are
people so hard to please that they ask for less pipeclay, less crowded
cabins, and better service and more deck space, and these carpers will
never be content, so long as they see other lines, such as the Japanese,
giving all they clamour for, comfortable bath-rooms, beds, and a laundry
at moderate rates.

[1] Brother-in-law.

A touch of militarism that I rather fancy on the P. & O. is the bugle
call going round the ship before meals; it is such a jolly cheery sound
to awaken to. It comes from far along the ship in the morning, at first
faintly in the distance, when you are half-awake trying to account for
the faint sound of machinery and the running reflections on your white
roof, dimly conscious of the ever delightful feeling that you are
sailing south across the widest and most level of all plains. Louder and
louder it comes along the alley-way, till outside your cabin door it
fairly makes you jump! A jolly, cheery sound it is, almost nothing in
the world so stirring excepting the pipes. There's a laughing brazen
defiance in it, and gentleness too, as it dies away--most masculine
music! What associations it must have for soldiers; even to the man of
peace it suggests plate armour, the listed field and battles long
ago.... Did you ever hear it in Edinburgh? up in the empty, windy castle
esplanade--empty of all but memories--You see no bugler, but the wide
grey walls and sky are filled with its golden notes. It echoes for a
moment, and then there is quietness, till the noise of the town comes up
again. And at night have you heard it? from the _Far Side_ of Princes
Street, the ethereal notes between you and the stars, long drawn notes
of the last post, from an invisible bugler in the loom of the rock and
the rolling clouds.

G. murmurs, "It is abominable--but after all, going to sea is all a
matter of endurance." What a difference there is in the point of
view--G., I must say, had a hair mattress last night, and it was not
properly blanketted and entailed a certain amount of endurance; on the
other hand she is extremely fortunate in having such glorious pink roses
and beautiful hangings for nicknacks, touching parting gifts from
friends, so her cabin already looks fairly homely; and then, on the
walls, there is the most perfect round picture, framed in the bright
brass of the porthole--a sailing ship hull down on the horizon, her
sails shining like gold in the morning sun, on a sea of mother of
pearl.... There is just the faintest rise and fall, and the air is full
of the steady silky rushing sound; what is there like it, which you hear
in fine weather when the sea makes way to let you pass.

Painted at a sketch to-day of people coming on board the "Egypt" from
the tender, no great thing in colour, less in a black and white
reproduction, for eye and hand were a little taken up with luggage--a
note of lascars in blue dungarees and red turbans--East meeting
West--the Indies in mauve and lilac hats and white veils; for shades of
purple are all the fashion this year.

   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .

[Illustration]

I have found a corner in the waist between first and second class,
where one can draw or paint without being very much overlooked; you can
get under the sky there, elsewhere you can't, and only see the horizon,
for our first class deck is under the officers' deck, and the second
class is covered with awnings, a very poor arrangement I think for you
only get light on your toes. A sailing ship's deck is ever so much
nicer, for you have a reasonable bulwark to keep wind and water off your
body instead of an open rail. You can look over a bulwark comfortably,
your eyes sheltered from the glare off the sea; on these steam-liners it
comes slanting up to your eyes under eyebrows and eyelashes--no wonder
people take to blue spectacles! In the sailing ship too you can look up
and watch the bends of white canvas and the spars-and cordage swinging
to and fro across the infinite blue, an endless delight! Here you have a
floor and blistered paint a few inches above you, on which you know the
officers promenade with the full sweep of the horizon round them and the
arc of the sky above. Still another advantage of the sailing ship is,
that you are not just one of a crowd, ticketed No. so and so, bedded,
fed, and checked off by a numeral; and you can generally count on a
barometer, and learn the names of lights and lands you pass; possibly
there may even be a thermometer, and certainly a compass. On this
"Egypt," barring a small scale Mercator's projection of the world on
which the ship's position is marked daily, there is no means of getting
the information that can make a sea voyage so infinitely interesting. I
would suggest large sized charts showing landmarks, ship's position, and
barometrical readings. What is more interesting at sea than the charts
of ocean depths, currents, winds, salinity, and temperature! If you go
too fast to touch on Plankton, Nekton, and Benthos, at least let the
poor first class passengers have a compass, if not a barograph and a
thermometer, to eke out conversations on the weather, the day's run, and
bridge.

   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .

"THE BAY"--the Great Bay, calm as a mill pond--there's a jolly sense of
rest and peace on board; I suppose everyone knows that feeling who has
gone East. For weeks you have been doing things, shopping, packing,
keeping appointments, then you get out of the bustle of town, breathe
again clear air, and rest, on the level sea, that lovely water cushion,
the most soothing of all beds.

Everyone is soporific and very restful. We begin to distinguish
individuals amongst the many passengers, but so far no one seems
particularly conspicuous. They are rather good-looking as a crowd, and
one or two children are like angels--at least we hope so.

It is darker ahead now and to the east, the shadow of the World on
Nothing, I suppose! possibly an October breeze coming--low banks of
cirri-cumuli above the horizon--clear overhead with streaks of rusty red
cloud fine as hair--the evening is cold, here is an attempt at it with a
brush. And we had music in the place for music on deck; an Irish lady
played the fiddle and played so well with a piano accompaniment to an
audience of six--if the Bay keeps quite the audience ought to increase.
After the sunset, dinner--what a tedious business it is; the waiting is
perfectly planned, but the waiters themselves have to wait ages at the
two service hatches, where they get all jammed together, so the time
between the courses seems interminable; you almost forget you are at a
meal at all. To-night dinner and conversation both hang fire at our end
of the table, and I overhear from the other end where my cousin sits
interesting scraps about India, which is distinctly annoying; R. is
relating some of his experiences there that set his neighbours and my
niece and Mrs Deputy-Commissioner all chuckling.

[Illustration]

I gather that R. converted a certain Swiss. They lived near each other,
a lonely life on the "Black Cotton Soil," whatever that is. R. says it
blows about like snow. The Swiss lived in a little corrugated-iron house
with some hens, and no books, and he loved books, and hated his house
and hens, and the British Empire. R. had a nice bungalow and lots of
books, and he lent these to the Swiss, on condition that he would read
our newspapers! with the result that the Swiss ceased to believe in
British "methods of barbarism," said he admired the Empire, and got
quite to like his tin house and the black soil,--even his hens!

It is so quiet in the smoking-room to-night--not even bridge going on
yet, which perhaps accounts for the discursiveness of these rambling
notes on a quiet Saturday night at sea.

Now comes Sunday. "Come day go day, God send Sunday," as the
discontented sailor growls before the mast. The day of the month
unknown--I do not think it matters, in such notes as these, dates are
rather like ruled lines on sketching paper, only distracting.... We have
had such a pleasant time so far, that a Presbyterian lady was quite
surprised when at breakfast I told her the day of the week, as she had
not heard any clanging and clashing of bells, and as everybody seemed
quite cheerful and there were no black clothes, she could not realise it
was Sunday. But this afternoon it is not joyful for all! There is a
solemn grey sky sweeping over us from Spain, with a grandeur and breadth
that one only associates with Spanish skies, and there is a fresh
breeze, but warm from the land, and this big tub moves a little, enough
to make one realise the Sea is alive, her bosom heaves us along
slightly, a delightful motion for some of us, and intensely soothing,
but alas! there are empty places at our board. What a penance it is this
sea-sickness. In the words of Burns,

    "It is a dizziness,
    That will not let a body gang
    About his business"

at all, at all.... I was a pale-faced student, a week out from Leith to
Antwerp, when I first felt this rudeness: we struck a fog-bank off St.
Abb's Head to begin with, and a sand-bank off Middlesborough, and
listened there to the cocks crowing on shore without seeing a foot ahead
for the thickness of the grey, wet mist. We cheered ourselves with
bagpipes, and the captain had a case of the very best brandy, the first
I think I ever tasted; and he could play some tunes on the practise
chanter. "Dinna think bonnie lassie, I'm goin' to leave you," I remember
was his best; it is a strathspey tune; I learned it from him. The
trouble came when it blew up hard off the Scheldt; but even when coming
over the bar, the "romance" of the sea qualified its pains a little. I
can feel the cold in my hands to-day of the barrels of the Winchesters
at the side of the couch, and to which I clung in my hour of trial, and
remembered they had been used in the steamer's very last trip against
_Real Pirates_ in the China Seas! And certainly there was the "romance"
of the sea in the change from the gale and black night outside the bar,
to the quiet morning on the wide river with the cathedral spire, violet
against the sunrise, dropping its silvery music "from heaven like dew;"
"Madame Angot," was the tune I think, with a note missing here and
there.

We saw a number of sea birds to-day, and two at least were skuas, black
looking thieves among their white cousins. I saw one try to make a gull
disgorge, driving up at it from below, to the gull's loudly-expressed
disgust. It is a strange arrangement of nature, and I can't understand
why a few gulls don't combine to defend themselves. I am sure each of
them must hate to give up the little meal they have earned with so much
tiring flight. There were shore birds too; we shipped some as
passengers, they were going south like ourselves, but by instinct not by
the card. I suppose they were on the road all right, and just needed to
rest their wings a little; two large black birds were on the bridge last
night, possibly crows, and we have starlings to-day, and I saw some
finches of sorts. At least one of these fragile boarders was eaten by
the ship's cat--I found its delicate remains, a few tiny feathers and a
dainty wing and its poor head.

The land is very faint on the horizon and the breeze is just going
down, such as it was; it's a momentary interest at the end of a somewhat
dull, grey day to most passengers.

R. and his wife, since one A.M., have had rather a poor time; their
cabin is far forward, and so they feel any motion more than we do
amidships; what with a little sea-sickness and the anchor chain loose in
its pipe, banging against their bunks, they had a disturbed night. We
raked out the bo'sun from his afternoon nap, and he and a withered old
lascar jammed a hemp fender between the chain and woodwork, so their
slumbers ought to be more peaceful; now they are getting a temporary
change to a berth amidship, which is unoccupied as far as Marseilles; in
it they will hardly feel the motion.

It was really considerate of the captain making a break in a dull, damp
Sunday afternoon--the horn went booming, and up we all jumped in the
smoking-room with some idea that someone had gone overboard, and up on
deck came the lascars grinning, a jolly string of colour, and away
forward they trotted and climbed into the forward life-boats from the
deck above us. It was very smartly done, but I would like to have seen
if their feet could reach the stretchers or their hands the oars; the
boats were not swung out, but everything seemed ready. I think my friend
the bo'sun must have had an inkling they were needed for he was working
about the davits and falls earlier in the afternoon. In the words of the
poet, Gilbert,

            "It is little I know,
    Of the ways of men of the sea,
    But I'll eat my hand if I (don't) understand"

this part of their business; practice on a whaler tends to perfection at
getting away in the boats, and at getting on board again too, if you are
hungry--and faith if it isn't snowing it is fun!

To night the air is damp and warm from the S.E., and we smell
Spain--true bill--several of us noticed the aromatic smell. Scents at
sea carry great distances. "I know a man" who smelt burning wood or
heather, 250 nautical miles from land, and said so and was laughed at;
but he laughed last, for two or three days after his vessel beat up to
some islands, from which towered a vast column of brown and white smoke
from burning peat, and this floated south on a frosty northerly breeze,
and the chart showed the smoke was dead to windward at the time he
spoke.



CHAPTER III


MONDAY--a rolling tumbling sea, soft grey and white, and misty-wet decks
with shimmering reflections--a day when even a great liner such as this
feels a little shut off from the outside world, for the mist comes down
on the edge of the horizon and hedges us in. If I ever paint Orpheus or
the Sirens, I will use such a grey wet effect. I think of these old
navigators in their small vessels, getting the thick and the thin, just
as we do to-day in our own sailing craft; getting well dusted at times,
with the salt thick on their cheeks and decks. Taking it all round, the
sea is rather a minor chord; so that these Burlington House pictures of
the Argo and The Heroes, in orange and rose on a wine-red sea are not
convincing. When my patron comes home I will humbly suggest Orpheus
singing at the stem, a following wind, a great bellying sail behind, and
all around wet air and splashing grey sea, the stem ploughing it up
silver and white and green, and away aft under the bend of the sail
there would be Jason and the steersman, possibly Medea, with the curl
out of her hair, and perhaps just a touch of the golden fleece, just a
fleck of pale yellow to enliven the minor tints! Round the bows there
would be men listening to the song, watching the stem pound into the
green hollows--now, I remember! I have seen this--I'd forgotten. But the
Orpheus was in faded blue dungarees, and played a fiddle, and leaned
against a rusty, red capstan--saw it from the jib-boom of the
Mjolna[2]--fishing bonita--looked back, and there they all were, the
same to-day as they were in olden days, I expect, men and boys, salt
and sun-bitten sea-farers, lolling on the cat-heads and anchors. A joy
of the World, that is--from your perch out on the jib-boom to watch a
ship with its cloud of white sails surging after you.

[2] Norse for Thors hammer.

[Illustration]

The Sirens too would paint in this weather; they look quite dry in
pictures, they would look better wet--I'd have them glittering wet and
joyous, and a fit carvel built boat and crew, and brown sloping sails,
three reefs down, making a fine passage clear on to them, just as the
steersman might wish with no bindings or wax in ears at all, but all at
the Sirens' service.

St. Vincent light is now in sight--the swell from the south-west, and
our course, as far as a passenger may guess, will soon be south by east;
so we ought to have a fair roll on soon, and I feel glad our sea-sick
friends are mostly asleep. To-morrow we hope to be in early at
Gibraltar, then they will have a rest--it will be all smooth sailing.
"They say so--and they hope so," as the "Old Horse" Chantie puts it. Is
there not a wind, however, called the Mistral, in the Gulf of Lyons,
and a Euroclydon further east, mentioned by St Paul?

We passed some rather interesting land scenery this afternoon, before we
came to the mouth of the Tagus; you could see houses, comfortably
nestled up the sides of the hills. At the foot of the red cliffs there
is a line of green water and white bursts of foam--made a pochade of a
bit of this coast--a castle perched on blue peaks, a rolling sky and
rugged mountains, and nearer, a rolling, leaden-coloured swell.

[Illustration]

From the well or waist where I paint, I noticed a rather black,
white-man stood and watched me out of the engine room. He looked
interested, and I spoke to him later. He said he "did a bit" himself in
unmistakeable West Country accent, and he took me to his cabin to show
me his art work. Though not very high up in the working part of this
show--boiler maker or artificer, I think, he had a very nice cabin. His
art work was decorative. He applied various cigar and tobacco labels
with gum to Eastern wine jars of unmistakeably Greek design, also
Masonic, and P. & O. symbols, with crosses, and rising suns in red and
gold; the interspaces of these geometric designs he filled up with blue
and gold enamel paint; and the general effect was very bright. It was
odd though to see a vase of historic shape done over with such brand new
labels. He had done this work for some years in spare time, so he had
acquired considerable proficiency.

I would fain be able to describe some of the human interest, on such a
vessel as this; there is enough for many novelists to study for many a
day. Of each class at home we know individuals, soldiers and civilians,
and their women folk, and they are interesting as others or more so; but
when you see them like this on board their ship in their numbers, going
East to their various duties, the interest becomes quite a big thing.
There is the girl going to her future husband in a native regiment, not
to return for years, and there is a couple sitting beside us to-night in
the smoking-room--a white-haired Colonel and his young protégé, a
budding soldier--they talk of mother at home, and cousins and aunts.
Then there's The-most-beautiful-girl-in-the-ship, but she is not
typical, and I think she goes farther East than India: she has chummed
already with the best set-up man on board, so that's as it should
be--and what an occasion it is for chumming! I'd like to know what is
the average number of engagements made and broken on these P. & O.'s per
voyage. R. tells me of one made in his last trip home; I forget on what
line. The passengers were eleven young men and one lady, and she
favoured one of them, so there were ten disappointed suitors. They found
He and She could sing a little, so one of the ten played accompaniments,
and the others encouraged the devoted pair to sing tender ditties, which
they did and for all they were worth. He sang, "I want you, my Honey,"
and put his back into it, as R. says, very slangily I think, and the
suitors thought they had great subject for much mirth when they retired
to the smoking-room--I think it was almost profane.... But it is time
for one pipe on deck and a last look at the somewhat uncongenial sea,
then to a bed, three or four inches too narrow.

[Illustration]

These two ladies here depicted are the sole survivors of their sex this
morning at breakfast, for it blows hard outside; but it's an ill wind
that blows nobody good, so these two young things, fresh as roses, made
each other's acquaintance at the empty table. They have been an hour on
deck, and like the movement, and the breakfast; and possibly their
irrepressible joyous sense of superiority is flavoured with pity for
their sisters lying low and pale. You see, the fiddles are on the table,
and even with these you have to hang on to your cup occasionally. The
fiddle makes such a comfortable rest for my elbows, so I scribble this
on the back of the breakfast menu (no one wants it) without being seen.
I remember that neither the position nor the occupation were allowed in
the nursery, and I hear of people to-day in quite good society so dead
to art that they will not allow you to draw on the table cloth! I
sometimes think how many lovely ideas must have been lost by this! It
was the Correggio brothers, was it not? who used to draw during
meal-time; they were very enthusiastic, but they died--possibly of
indigestion!

We are getting into the Straits of Gibraltar--a nice blustery day, the
black tramps coming out of the Mediterranean bury their noses deep in
foam, and roll up and show all the beauty of steamers' lines! To
starboard we get a glimpse of the serrated African mountains above
Tangiers and the Atlas Mountains beyond. They are green in spring, but
now they are brown. I used to think the African Coast was flat and
sandy; I wonder if school boys do so still. It is a pleasant surprise at
first sight to find it so like our own mountainous country. Both the
African hills and the Spanish hills are veiled at times with passing
rain columns that sweep in from the Atlantic.

Here is a little finger-nail jotting of Gibraltar; you see the parts
where the masts are--that is the harbour. The Rock or Mountain, 1,200
feet high, is to the south and right; all its side is bristling with
guns; to the left of the ships a long spit of land joins the rock to
Spain proper. If the cumulous clouds to the north and east, in the
direction of Granada, would lift a little we would see the white tops of
the Sierra Nevada.

   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .

[Illustration]

This has been a most splendid day! We have been on Spanish soil--I
suppose I may call it Spanish soil though it is held by Britain--have
seen fair Spanish women, had sun, wind, rain, wet decks, and dry decks,
and the bustle and interest of dropping anchor in Port, with all the
movement of tugs and boats and people going and coming to and from
shore--the roadstead blustery and fluttering with flags, and everything
afloat bobbing and moving, excepting the great grey men-of-war.

We got away in the first shore boat. How it rained--G.'s hat ruined--but
anything to be in Spain once more. The launch rolls and umbrellas drip,
and we have hundreds of yards along splashing wet pier, G. balancing on
timbers and wire cables to keep a little out of the mud--one umbrella
for the two. Then a jog up the town in a funny little victoria with
yellow oiled canvas curtains, past little gardens with great red flowers
on one tree, and trumpet-shaped white flowers hanging on the next, past
soldiers in khaki, and turbaned Moors huddled in their draperies. The
Moors look so out of place in Europe; they seem to have aimed at being
picturesque and have failed, and know it and stick to it. The Spaniards
you pass are pure joy to the artist; the women have such nice ivory
colouring with the faintest tint of pink, and such eyes, brown and dark,
and kind, and such eye-lashes--it's easy colour to paint too in Henner's
way, Prussian blue, bitumen and ochre and a breath of rose! Look at the
bloom on their hair, blue as the light on raven's wing, and the flour on
their faces, hanging thick on their black eyebrows. I think they must
have a little of the Indian in them. There's a far-away kinship in the
expression of the Ayahs on board and the Spaniards on shore, a queer
penetrating look, and kindly. The mens' expressions are also pleasant
enough, I think--very quiet--but they have your eye and your measure
before you realise, with a glance quick as the glint that a pointer
gives you from the corner of his eye as he ranges past.... Here is a
jotting of one of the natives, perhaps a little heavy in expression, but
fairly typical Spanish face. She is my cousin's cook; he is an R. E. and
lives in quite a big house for Gibraltar; you can stand upright in any
room and stretch yourself in the drawing-room, which has a balcony; I
painted her as she stood in it. My cousin's wife had discharged her, but
there was no ill-feeling, so she came to pay a complimentary call, in
black lace mantilla and pink blouse. She was called Barbara, and loved a
baker over the way, and when she should have been regarding the soup,
she was throwing glances to the baker in his shop, so she had to go!
"Poor Barbara"--and lucky baker, to receive such cordite glances!

A dainty lady of Saxon type, with face like china, hair fine gold, and
eyes of Neapolitan violet, looked over my shoulder whilst I sketched.
She is just out, and is enjoying Gibraltar hugely. But I should not have
said violet eyes, for one was black as a thunder-cloud; she hunted
yesterday and got dragged poor thing, and was bruised all over, but she
was going about and hunts again in two or three days.

[Illustration: A Spanish Woman.]



CHAPTER IV


[Illustration: Sunday parade of Lascars.]

Our first day with a blue sky at sea--my word it is blue, impossibly
blue, and the sun is beaming! We have had a quiet night, so everyone is
very contented. On our left the Spanish coast is very mountainous, and
little cloudlets are throwing shadows over the mountain sides. G. and I
study our Spanish grammar; but perhaps "study" is hardly the word, dream
over it would be more exact, and wonder at the blueness of the sea and
the blue reflected lights on the hurricane deck above us. We have
managed to get our chairs into a patch of sun; we rather court its rays
just now, by the time we come home again I daresay we will take the
shady side of the street. So close are we to the coast that, looking
through the glasses, we can see into the glens and make out cottages
where we know the people are speaking Spanish; and we plan a voyage
through these hills some day; therefore our Spanish exercises. What a
country it is both for castles and voyages, and how many ways there are
to travel in it. In the train or on horseback, or with mules or a
donkey, or a coach and four, as did Theophile Gautier. But not on foot
for choice, that would be so undignified as to be barely safe in Spain.
We arrange to have mules--for there is such a distinguished and
aristocratic appearance about a train of mules, and an air of romance
about them and their gay caparisons. We will trek over these mountains,
and through the cork woods and brackens in the glens, live on figs and
Vino Riojo carried in black skins on our sumpter mules, and camp at
night on the dry ground under the brown trunks of the cork
trees--another book, _mes amis_, and pictures, I vow! It will be in the
South of Spain, this voyage of ours, amongst the elegant, fiery
Andalusians, and we might combine the treking with a little coasting to
Cadiz and Malaga, then inland by the Rhonda Valley, where travelling on
mules would be almost rapid compared with the train. There are such
lovely villages there, embowered in foliage and flowers at the bottom of
rocky glens, and such pleasant peasants, with quiet, gentle manners.
Just this last word before we lose sight of Spain. Why do women at home
not adopt Spanish dancing? I am quite sure it is the secret of the
Andalusian's poise and walk.

[Illustration]

There is a very distinct swell, and people say it will blow in the Gulf
of Lyons, and think they had better have gone overland to Marseilles. We
pass the Balearic Isles, and at the distance they much resemble other
islands.

Before lunch we saw an extraordinary marine effect. Along the coast the
blue sea appeared to be covered with a veil or mist of grass green
colour, the green of a duck pond; beyond it the coast was distinct,
distant I should say about eighteen miles. We could see upper-top-sails
and the peaks of lateen sails beyond the flat bank of green, which
seemed to begin a few miles from the shore and spread over the sea's
surface several miles west and east. What made me think it was an effect
of colour above water, not in it, was that with glasses I could
distinctly see the blue backs of the swell coming through it. No one I
have met has ever seen the like, but one of the officers was asked what
it was, and he said "Water."

In the afternoon we had two interesting shows on board. A bell rang, and
a waiter who was bringing us tea turned tail and fled--it was a fire
alarm! It was pretty the way every man in the ship's company jumped to
fire-stations; hose pipes were down and connected, and pumps manned very
quickly, and bar a little talk amongst the lascars, which was
immediately stopped, everything was done in silence--bravo, British
discipline! All the iron doors were shut and bolted, the inspection
followed, and that done, away went everyone, quickly and silently, to
boat-stations. All this rehearsal only took about half-an-hour or less,
then the tea came.

Another entertainment followed--a dummy dinner. Fifty waiters, all young
men, about half white and half Indian, took their posts at the tables up
the side of the saloon and down the middle. A tap on a gong and away
they all streamed to the entrances to the saloon, to port and starboard
service tables at the kitchen, where they pretended to get courses of
dinner, and then went and stood at their tables whilst the two pursers
and head steward went round the whole of them, patiently asking each
separately his duties: "What have you to do?" and each man answered as
well as he could, and corrections were made. This inspection took fully
an hour, then they went through the coffee, cream, and sugar and tea
drill. All this dinner and fire drill is very thorough, I must admit,
and the management of a big crowd of people on a ship begins to impress
me--but the tea--is horrid!

[Illustration]

We are now going north-east towards Marseilles. The sun shines, and it
blows a gentle half gale. The sea is blue where it isn't white, and the
wind is strong enough to keep us lying steadily over to starboard decks
of course all wet, with rainbows at the bow, and bursting spray over all
occasionally--people rather subdued, only a small muster at breakfast.

Place aux dames! I forgot to mention that a very beautiful French lady
came on board at Gibraltar; she looked like one of Van Beers' pictures
as she came down the quay steps in a most exquisite dress, dreamlike
petticoats, and open-work stockings on Diana's extremities, and she had
a little parasol, and held her skirts high--a Frenchwoman hates mud--and
the rain poured, in sheets! She gave a brave farewell to her friends and
fiancé, and came on board with an air, notwithstanding the drenching
rain. She was beautiful--hair like night, eyes brown, and features most
perfectly Greek, and white as marble with a rose reflected on it! A
doctor beside me whispered "anæmic," the red-haired ass! She leaves us
at Marseilles, and will never travel by sea again. G. befriended her and
interpreted for her; she was so helpless and alone in a cabin meant for
three, with a pile of boxes miles bigger than the regulation size. With
feminine courage she fought sea-sickness, fainted in the barber's chair,
but appeared at dinner in another most exquisite toilet, and then--even
in the paroxysm of sickness, preserved perfect grace of movement of hand
and eye and draperies! What heroic courage! But enough of the tea rose
in our bean field; let us get to more material things, and to
Marseilles, and the coals rattling down the iron shoot beneath our heads
as we try to sleep in air thick with coal dust.

[Illustration]

This morning the racket is like nothing else in the world. It is a
combination of the babel of the East and West, of Europe and Africa.
There are four groups of musicians alongside, harpists, singers and
fiddlers, all within the ship's length on the quay, and others in boats
alongside.

We have two gangways reaching to the wharf, where are hundreds of
porters, ship waiters and stewards bringing vegetables on board, and
ships officers and hundreds of newly arrived passengers, all talking
more or less over the music, and passing to and fro across the gangways
in the sun. The ship feels too full to move in now. The new arrivals
look a little pale and tired after their overland journey by Paris, but
we weather-worn people with The Bay behind us, enjoy the whole scene
with the calm of experienced mariners! Behind the sunlit groups of
passengers with their baggage, the dock labourers in the sheds pile
grain sacks on to waggons, and strings of stout horses stand resting
beside them. On the edge of the quay are flower girls in black, selling
big bunches of violets, and a Strong-man in pink tights and sky-blue
knickerbockers--a festive piece of colour taken with his two white
chairs and bright carpet. He plays with silver balls and does balancing
feats with his little girl, and puts his arms round her and strokes her
hair after each turn, in a delicate appeal to the sympathies of
passengers who lean over the rail and take it all in somewhat sleepily.

... The post has brought me an Orient-Pacific guide-book which I wish I
had had coming down channel and along the Portuguese coast. I would
recommend it to anyone going this journey. It has a most interesting
collection of facts both about sea and land on the route.

... We met the beautiful French lady again last night at the Hotel de
Louvre, where everyone meets everyone else up town. I think she is
Gascon, and the very opposite of the fair Saxon type we ought to admire
at home. You hardly expect a perfectly beautiful woman to talk well, but
this perfection could both talk and dress; her personality was not "sunk
in her hat." She knew Scottish history, all about the good Lord James,
and about Mary Stuart, and what pleased us greatly was that she told us
words and hummed the airs of children's songs reputed to have been
written by Queen Mary, and which she said are sung to-day by French
children. The Hotel de Louvre soon filled, so we got away from the crowd
in a victoria and drove along the town to a café for supper, and it was
cold and dark too!

The café, Basso and Bregaillon, has a "vue splendide" (in the daytime),
so the bill says. What you see at night is a well lit quay with the café
lights shining out across the dark water in the dock on to some white
steam yachts. After getting rid of a uniformed interpreter, whose one
idea was to give us an "Engleesh dinner, very good, very sheep," we made
up our own order. Of course bouillabaisse et soupe de poissons was the
first item. I am not sure how to eat this, with a spoon or fork--two
dishes are set down at once, one with half an inch of saffron-coloured
soup, made of, I think, shell-fish, and with great slices of bread in
it--certainly a spoon is not very suitable; the other dish has a perfect
aquarium of little fish and bits of bigger fish beautifully arranged in
a pyramid with similar soup round it--there are bits of red mullet,
crab, green fish, and white fish, and all sorts of odds and ends. Why do
we not make dishes like this at home? I get just such oddities any time
I lift my trammel net, but they are thrown away as "trash." But the
French are artists in every line of life, in cooking, in dress, and I
believe they put art into the way they heave the coal on board. We feel
much inclined to stay here a little and see more of these Southern
French. I love their jolly abandon of manner, their kindness and
"honesty," and their gasconade. So here's to you Cyrano and Daudet,
D'Artagnan and Tartarin, not forgetting M. le Président.

Who do you think sat beside us within arm's length but Réjane! There
were only six or seven people in the café and none of them were aware of
the presence of their distinguished compatriot till we whispered her
name to the waiter, and he whispered it to them and their eyes opened! I
came to G.'s side of the table so that I might see the great actress in
mufti, and I would have liked to have made a sketch of her as she talked
to her companion, but it would have been too obvious--you know the way
she speaks, a little out of the corner of her eye and mouth, with hand
on hip. She is great! We saw her only a year ago with Coquelin in "La
Mantansier."

This is the head of the Serang; I took it when he was not looking. He
runs the lascars on board; acts pretty much as bo'sun. This face is
brown and beard died rusty red, and he wears a lovely boatswains silver
whistle on a silver chain, and has an air of command and the appearance
of deepest intelligence.

[Illustration]



CHAPTER V


[Illustration]

There is a frightful crush on board. It would take years to consider all
the faces. Numbers of ladies are going out to join their husbands after
having taken their children home in spring. By the afternoon all the new
comers look much refreshed; they have washed off the travel stains of
that dusty journey across France, have tidied up, eaten, and slept a
little, and have perhaps met friends of the road. You hear,
"Hillo--hillo--you here again! met in Simla last, didn't we--wasn't it
cold last night?" "By Jingo it was--rummy spell of cold--coming over all
western Europe so suddenly," and they talk of "Cold weathers," and
"Rains," and "Monsoons," and places you think you heard about in school
days and have forgotten; and you realise something of what there is
ahead to learn.

Meantime I watch the lascars taking off the effect of the coaling last
night; how blue and sharp the reflections of the sky are on the wet deck
and their dark feet. It is my business to paint things, not to write,
about them, still, both occupations dissipate the time wonderfully. They
are scrubbing down the waist, washing the decks with brushes and
squeejees and lashins of blue Mediterranean; they wear dungaree tunics,
and trousers of dark blue and faded pale blues, with red cloth round
their straw skull-caps, and are all in shadow--that colourful, melting,
warm shade you have in the South in the afternoon.

27th Evening.--To what shall I liken this evening on deck? You know a
railway carriage on Bank Holiday, and you have heard perhaps of a
Newfoundland sealing ship, the crew head and tail and three deep in the
bunks, and all about the deck and along the bulwarks for want of
room--well, it's worse here, at the price! In the smoking-room there is
not an inch to sit on; men lean against the pillars, others against the
side of the bar or against each other. A few have got seats for bridge,
others sit on sofas round the side, the rest have to stand. There were
more passengers when we left Tilbury than allowed any free movement on
deck; we made light of that. Now, people are jammed beside each other
all the way up the side of the deck that is sheltered from the sweep of
the wind, others sit on the rail; those who want to move have to pick a
devious and careful course between the lines of chairs. And this is to
be to-night, and to-morrow, till we get to India! And it will yet be
worse than it is just now, for many passengers from Marseilles are still
below, waiting for baths and arranging their crowded cabins.

I have to write letters and sketch on a dining-saloon table amongst
waiters clearing dishes. There are four small tables on deck in what I
think is called the music room, and they are fully occupied with ladies
writing and bridge players, and round them every seat in the room is
occupied. It is a crowd of people of the most gentle manners and
breeding, or it would be horrible beyond words.

[Illustration]

28th.--I suppose there were not more than fifty men in the smoking-room
late last night when it became sufficiently empty to allow me to see
separate faces. There were civilians, judges, and one or two men of
business, but the majority were soldiers of middle age. I confess I am
much impressed by the general type and the expression of quiet strength
and capability of these men of the Indian Services. They have finely
modelled heads on powerful figures, better, I think, than any type of
the ancients. Their manners are cheery and kindly, but always in repose
the lines show strongly across the brow; faces and lines seem to me to
spell D-U-T-Y emphatically. For a _nouveau_ it is difficult to follow
their talk, it changes so quickly from the man to his horse, to his seat
and powers as cavalry leader or the like, perhaps to his family, his
marriage, or his death, and whenever the family interest comes in, there
is a note of genuine kindness as if brothers were telling or asking
about other brothers and their wives and belongings. They speak rather
quickly and cheerily, and then in repose the lines come again, not that
they look over-worn; on the contrary they look fit, tremendously and are
very abstemious. One speaks near me--"You knew so and so? Good
horseman--wasn't he? Curious seat--do you remember the way he rode with
his toes out?" "Yes, yes--ha, ha!--it was funny! He led a column with me
at Abu Lassin. Very sad his death, poor fellow--never got over the last
war--heart always suffered--nice wife." "Yes, yes--gave him pretty bad
time though--oughtn't to have married. Where is his boy--Sandhurst? No,
he's left--he's coming out next month in a troop ship, I hear." These
are the older soldiers, and there are also many young officers, and two
judges of the High Courts, one with nimble tongue and expression, the
other the reverse. And there are business men with concentrated and
perhaps rather narrower expressions than the others--Irish, Scots, and
English. As they are all in the same black and white kit in the evening
it is easier then to compare the various faces; in the daytime the
variety of costume, flannels, and coloured ties and tweeds prevent one
doing it so easily; I'd like to make a sketch of each, and superimpose
these, and get the average, the type of the thousands who follow this
road year after year.

... As usual, these Bayards, in dressing gowns of various cuts and
colours, stood outside the bathrooms this morning and waited their turn,
and if the atmosphere was not murky with swear words, it was not to the
P. & O.'s credit. To most men tub time is the jolliest in the day; here
it is one of evil temper, for after you have waited say twenty minutes
in a passage for your chance, you get into a little wet steamy place
over the engines, with possibly no port and poorly ventilated, and have
your tub in a hurry for you know other fellows are waiting outside, and
instead of gaily carolling your morning song you feel angry and cuss
cusses, not loud, but profound as Tuscarora Deep. "Oh! Mummie, do come
and see all the men waiting for their baths," said a little angel this
morning, as she pointed at the solemn row of bare-footed men holding on
to their towels and sponge-bags and tempers--we actually grinned. Like
some others I give up the attempt to get a morning tub, and trust to
sneak one in during the day; better to have no bath than to start the
day cross--"better to smash your damned clubs than to lose your damned
temper," as the golfer in a bunker was overheard muttering as he broke
each club across his knee. The ladies, some hundreds, have I think five
baths between them, and they wait for these a great part of the day. If
you pass their waiting-room you get a glimpse of wonderful morning
toilettes of every tint, muslins, laces, a black boy with red turbash
bustling about to get the bath ready makes rather a good note of colour.

... Notwithstanding all the above grievance we hadn't such a bad day
yesterday; it was calm and not too cold, with a soft pigeon grey sea and
sky.... Put in a long day's painting in the corner of the after-well,
and overhauling sketches done so far on the road--they are mounting up
now, and I feel fortunate in having my apology for existence in such a
handy shape as a paint box.

But how dull this log-writing becomes! How on earth can I find an
incident to pad up this journal; what is there to write about in a route
so monotonously first class! Here is absolutely the most risque exciting
story I have heard for days; I must say the lady who told it has such an
infectious laugh, that at the time I really thought it was very amusing.

You know the cabins on the P. & O. steamers are all exactly like each
other, except the number above each door. So once upon a time she
related, a certain lady tripped along to her cabin as she thought, to
hurry up her husband for dinner and found him pulling on a shirt; she
plumped into a seat, saying, "John, John, you are always too late for
dinner, and there's no use trying to struggle into your shirt with the
studs fastened?" Whereon the neck stud flew and revealed an astonished
face--and it was not "John's." After lunch I told this to my barrister
acquaintance; he smiled gently and said he had always thought it such an
amusing story.

   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .

How I wish I was back at sea again on a whaler, with a swinging hammock,
a tow net, and microscope, and opportunities any day to study the fairy
beauties in drops of sea water, and with human interest too, so much
more varied than on this P. & O. Hotel; there, would be all kinds of
men, jolly, devil-may-care fellows, and even disreputable characters,
mixed with canny, pawky, canting Scotties, and talk of all the corners
of the world; ranting rollicking Balzacian yarns, rich in language, in
poetry, and tenderness; any minute in the day amongst such people you
might strike a yarn that would bear publication; the picturesque
interest of life does not seem to be on the high plains, or low levels,
but as it were between wind and water, where plain meets mountain, the
poor the rich, between happiness and sorrow, and light and shade; and
the fun of painting between one colour and the next. It is all very
respectably drab here, and we talk of intellectual and proper things.
For an hour to-day--no, two hours I am sure--I laboured at Indian
sociology and history and Vedas and things, with the barrister, and I
was tired! The barrister knows many books on these subjects, and
recommends me to read Sir W. W. Hunter's "History of India" in its
abridged form of only 700 pages; I suppose I must!--told my cousin I'd
been trying to talk Indian sociology and he shouted: said he knew a man
who had lived in India and studied the native life for twenty-eight
years, and confessed he knew as little about it at the end as at the
beginning; but R. admitted that whenever he had a knotty question of
native affairs to settle he always went to this man, and the decision
was invariably right. R. has qualified admiration for the Indians
honesty. Once, he said, he had to leave his house at a moment's notice,
to take home a sick relation, and left all standing, and on coming back
months after found every single stick of furniture just as he left it,
and not a single article stolen, except one door-mat; his night watchman
had taken it with him to another situation, leaving a humble message to
the effect that he had got so accustomed to it that he couldn't sleep
without it! Their honesty must run in grooves for R. gave a heavy
overcoat to one of his men in a cold station, and when he and his
servants went to a very hot station, he noticed this man still wearing
the thick coat and sweating like anything, so he asked him why he did
so, and the man replied that he dared not put it off for a minute or it
would be stolen.

[Illustration]

We had quite an audience for the fiddles this Saturday--there are two
lady violinists now, both very good players--but we had only a short
spell of music in the music room on account of a choir practise, for
to-morrow; the parson came and took our musicians down to the
dining-room to sing over hymns and psalms, verse by verse. I heard the
wheeze of the harmonium, and got back to my own chest-lid (sailor term
for my own business)--"Every man to his own chest-lid and the cook to
the foresheet," is it not a suggestive saying? To every man his
prerogative, his chest-lid, and his duties, and the same for the cook
and the least bit more! It is now getting passably mild, and we can sit
out on deck at night. It was supposed to be hot enough for the punkahs
in the saloon; one is hung over the length of each of the five tables,
to port and starboard, and there are others the whole length of the
table that runs up the middle of the saloon. I have long wished to see a
punkah, now I wish I may never see another! On this ship they are narrow
velvet rugs hung on edge from horizontal bars, this is swung by two
ropes from the roof, and they are all guyed together with cords, so that
one pull, from a lascar outside the cabin, sets them all into violent
commotion. They hit your face when you stand, and sitting, their lowest
edge stirs up your hair. These velvet rugs have white cotton covers on
them now that they are being used, so the general effect at dinner-time
is of a huge laundry in a gale, with beautiful laundresses in low
dresses sitting at table under a world of wildly flapping linen; with
the lamps lit, and our black coats for a foil, the colours are really
extremely pretty, though the discomfort is great. Men and women are all
getting a little brown with the sea air, and the ladies have a little of
the blush of spring now, instead of the pallor of winter with which they
came on board.

[Illustration]

Egypt in sight, and this morning we tubbed in the water of the river
that floated Moses, and that has been bathed in and drunk since by such
a number of people we know, or have read about. Sea and Nile are
meeting in blue, and green, and brownish stripes, blending to a general
absinthe colour as we get closer to the flat delta; little level rows of
cloud throw purple shadows across the crisp small waves, and over the
horizon there's a flight of white lateen sails.

What a bustle there is on board to-day; people running up and down
stairs with letters hurriedly finished, addressed and stamped to the
children at home. No use writing to the man who waits out there, for we
carry the mail. It is touching, the wife looking forward and back at the
same time--the bull must pass--and the young girl too, leaving the old
life for the new married life in a new country; it must take courage.

My notes at Port Said seem to have disappeared, possibly I did not write
any. I remember that there was so much to see in the morning; and the
change of colour in the water, the absinthe colour of the Nile with pale
blue reflections winding in currents in distinct streams into the sea,
would, with the blue ocean, need very subtile painting. I remember the
fearful jabber, which I suppose has gone on and always will, since Port
Said was invented. I got a glimpse of Lesseps's statue at lunch through
the port-hole; he points with right hand twice life size up the harbour
with a heroic expression, and seems to say to the steamers that come in
from the sea, "Higher up there S.V.P.--try a little higher up." We
watched the often described black men coaling in black dust, singing and
working, the sun's rays making shafts of light stream through the clouds
of black coal dust; and the same pandemonium at night in the flare of
lights, when the scene is generally admitted to be like the nether
regions.

I know we went ashore somehow or other, and that we could hardly see for
the shouting and yelling! We felt fortunate in having a Mrs
Deputy-Commissioner for a companion, for she was bubbling over with
humour and anecdote. She and G. promptly began shopping, and certainly
succeeded in getting two rather becoming topees, flatter and prettier
than any I have yet seen--you might call them Romney topees; one may
appear in sketches further on. I sketched of course--always keep
"screeb, screeb, screebling all day long," as an irate German lady once
put it to me, "screebled" a café scene; on the left you see a native,
who calls himself Jock Furgusson, trying to pass off a "Genuine Egyptian
Scarab" to a tourist. Jock Furgusson is infinitely more wonderful and
artistic to me than the pyramids, for he can imitate accents so as to
make you gasp; he spots anyone's nationality instantaneously--before you
have opened your lips he knows your county! I believe he can distinguish
between the English of a Lowland Scot and a Highlander, which is more
than '_Punch_' does after all these years of practice. "Ah'm, Jock
Furgusson frae Auchtermurrchty and Achterlony, longest maun in the forty
twa," he begins--but somebody help me--I've forgotten how he goes on, a
long rigmarole in broadest Doric; the words and intonation so perfect,
you can so little believe your eyes that you are landed with a scarab or
a string of beads before you have recovered, and he is off to another
passenger, clippin' 'is g's and r's and puttin' in h's to some
Englishmen.

The inhabitants of Port Said, we are told, represent the scourings of
the Levant; too bad for Cairo, and black-balled for Hell. All the same
G. and I went ashore by ourselves after dinner, rather proud of our
courage, for several passengers said it wasn't safe. It used not to be
safe, I know, but I asked the Chief-Engineer what he thought, and he
took his right hand in his left, all but the very tip of the little
finger which he measured off with his left thumb nail, and said, "a
black maun's heart's no as big as that." So we went ashore and had no
adventures at all, but sat in a balcony and listened to pretty good
music, and noted the few drowsy figures in the side streets, the glow of
lamp or brazier on their heavy draperies, contrasting with the starlight
and the deep velvety shadows--moth-like colouring, and intense
repose, after the glittering, howling day.

[Illustration: A Café, Port Said]

Looking back over these notes, and the Orient and Pacific Guide Book,
and the Acts of the Apostles, I observe that I have made no note about
Corsica and Sardinia, Lipari Islands, and Stromboli, or of the Straits
of Messina and Etna--have barely mentioned Crete! In the Lipari Islands
we saw lights ashore, and down the Straits of Messina; and Stromboli we
discovered easily enough by the glow of hot red up in the sky, and a
sloping line of red that went glittering downwards. It was too dark to
distinguish anything more.

We saw Crete, enough to swear by, the white top of Mount Ida, and
realized where Fair Haven and Phenice and Clauda must lie, and that we
were actually in the seas where the Apostle Paul was caught in the
Euroclydon. By the way what is a Euroclydon; is it a Levanter?

Was there ever a voyage so vividly described, in more concentrated and
pithy words? In eight verses you have a complete dramatic account of a
tragedy at sea, from a passenger's point of view. It would be curious
and interesting to learn what the owner thought, and said, when the
prisoner suggested that he, and his sailing master, and the Centurion,
were all wrong in a question of navigation; and how it came about that
shortly after this difference of opinion the prisoner was master of the
commissariat, and how, after heavy weather and fasting fourteen days on
a rocky coast, 276 souls were saved on bits of wreckage without the loss
of one life! The Board of Trade and Life Saving Societies might enquire
into this, and report.



CHAPTER VI


[Illustration]

The Canal.--If I had not seen Mr Talbot Kelly's book on Egypt I could
hardly have believed it possible that the delicate schemes of colour we
see in the desert as we pass through the canal could be painted and
reproduced in colour in a book. He has got the very bloom of the desert,
and the beauty of Egypt without its ugliness; the heat and sparkle and
brightness in his pictures are so vivid one can almost breathe the
exhilarating desert air--and smell the Bazaars! But Egypt is ugly a
pin's prick beneath its beauty. It is so old and covered with bones and
decayed ideas. The Nile is associated with Moses, and it is long it is
true, but it is also very narrow and shallow, and its banks are
monotonous to a degree; a mile or so of green crop on either side, then
stones, sand, bits of crockery, human bones and rags, then desert
sand--a cross between a cemetery and a kitchen garden. The ruins are
_awfully_ ugly! "Think of their age!" people say, and you look at the
exquisite spirals of shells in the lime stones with which these heaps
are made! But the saddest thing in Egypt is the fine art debased in the
temples, in these ponderous monuments of their officialism; for here and
there in them you see exquisite bits of low relief carving, that a Greek
would have been proud of, hidden away in interminable hieroglyphic
histories spread indiscriminately over grotesque pillars and vast walls,
as regardlessly of decorative effect as advertisements in a newspaper's
columns. The open desert is the best of Egypt, and this thread of blue
canal strung with lakes through its sand is very pretty and interesting
all the way. We come to a swing bridge. It is open and our modern hotel
and modern people slowly steam right through the middle of a Biblical
caravan of Arabs on camels; some have crossed into the Egyptian side,
the remainder are waiting on the Arabian side, their camels are feeding
on the grey-green bushes. The passengers just give them a glance and go
on with their books. Have we not seen it all long ago in nursery books
on Sundays. But, in the nursery in our Sunday books we did not see or
feel the glitter and heat of the day, some of which, children to-day can
get in Mr Kelly's book.

I dared not sketch the desert scenes; it was in too high a key for me,
but I made so bold as to do this sketch of a scene on deck at night: an
effect I have not heard described, though it must be familiar to those
who go this road. I am sorry it is not reproduced here in colour.

[Illustration]

The searchlight on the bow plays on the sandbanks and desert beyond, and
makes the land like a snow-field, and the slow movement of the white
light intensifies the darkness and silence of the desert. In contrast to
the cold blue light and snow-white sand, is the group of figures on
deck in bright dresses, dancing. It made quite an _evident_ subject. The
figure leaning on the rail is not ill. It is only a little Japanese maid
thinking of home perhaps.

Suez was a few lights in the darkness over the glow of our pipes, then
bed, and in the morning we were sailing down the top, west branch, of
the Red Sea, otherwise the Gulf of Suez, with a fresh north wind behind
us.

It is extremely charming and refreshing, as I've already remarked, to
look out of a port in the morning and see the glittering, tumbling, blue
sea alongside. On this occasion the blue is capped with many soft white
horses chasing south, and the serrated barren hills of Egypt are
slipping away north. They are coloured various tints of pale, faded
leather, light buff, and light red, and the sun glares brilliantly over
all, "drying up the blue Red Sea at the rate of twenty three feet per
year," this from the Orient-Pacific Guide; you can yourself almost fancy
you hear the sea fizzling with the heat. The Arabian shore is almost the
same as the Egyptian, with a larger margin of swelling stretches of sand
between the sea and the foot of the hills.

    "Gaunt and dreary run the mountains,
    With black gorges up the land
    Up to where the lonely desert
    Spreads her burning, dreary sand."

There are occasions when circumstances make it really a pleasure to be
an artist, to-day for example; the air is so full of colour, the sea
deepest turquoise, with emerald showing when the crests burst white and
mix with the blue, and there is a glint of reddish colour reflected from
the Arabian sand, and the shadows in the clefts in the sand-hills to the
north are as blue as the sea. I was trying to put this down when my
friend from the West Country, who helps the engines, told me he had got
me one of these exquisite classic earthenware vases from Port Said,
which he decorates with cigar labels and blue and gold enamel. I had a
chat with him in his rather nice cabin--made a study of the flagon,
_i.e._ drew its cork. It was full of deep purple Italian wine, like
Lacrima Christie or Episcopio Rosso; the wine was good enough, but its
deep rose colour with the bright blue reflected on it through the port
was splendid. He didn't like it himself, said "it drew his mouth," and
he gave me both the bottle and the wine as a present because of our love
for Dalriada, and I have to give him a "wee bit sketch" for his cabin.

I will smuggle the jar under our table--G. and I both like Italian
wine--and we will use it as a water bottle afterwards, for we have only
one decanter at our table amongst eleven thirsty people.

It was just such dark red wine as this, I suppose, that Ulysses and his
friends in these seas took in skinfuls to wash down venison, an
excellent menu I must say, but it would have been more seamanlike if
they had slept off the effects on board, instead of lying out all night
on the beach; then, when Morning the rosy-fingered turned up, they'd
have been quicker getting under way, and would have got home sooner in
the end. How much superior were the Fingalian heroes; they would sail
and fight all day and pass round the uisquebaugh in the evening at the
feast of shells, and never get fuddled and never feared anything under
water or above land, and were beholden to neither Gods nor men.

But I did once know a descendant of theirs, in their own country who was
overcome by red wine. "It was perfectly excusable," he said, for he had
never tasted it before--or since! He was a fine, tall man called Callum
Bhouie, from his yellow hair when he was a youth; he was old when I knew
him--six feet two and thin as a rake and strong, with the face of
Wellington and an eye like a hawk. He and his friend were going home to
his croft from their occupations one morning early, round the little
Carsaig Bay opposite Jura, where he had a still up a little burn there,
and they fell in with a cask on the sand and there was red wine in it,
port or Burgundy, I do not know. Callum said he knew all about it and it
was but weak stuff, so they took bowls and saucers and drank the weak
stuff more and more. I think it must have been port; and they lay where
they were on the sand and slept till the morning after. When dawn, the
rosy-fingered, found them she must have thought them quite Hellenic; and
the minister followed later, and I would not think it right to repeat
what he thought it right to say. The sands and the bay and the burn are
there to-day, and, as they say in the old tales, if Callum were not dead
he would be alive to prove the truth of the story. The still I've never
seen, but Callum I knew, and his croft; alas the roof of it fell in a
few years ago; and it was the last inhabited house of a Carsaig clachan.
You see the land is "improved" now, for sheep, and it's all in one big
farm instead of small crofts, and little greasy, black-faced sheep climb
the loose stone walls and nibble the green grass short as a carpet where
Callum and his wife lived so long.

May I go on to the end of Callum's story; though it is rather a far cry
from this hot Red Sea to the cool Sound of Jura?

He and his wife were to be taken to the poor house in winter, and on the
long drive across Kintyre they were told that they would be separated,
and there was then and there such a crying and fighting on the road that
they were both driven back to the croft--and I was not surprised, for
where Callum Bhouie was fighting there would not be a stronger man of
his age. So they lived on in the but-and-ben, with the lonely, tall ash
standing over it, and the view of Jura, the sweetest I know, in front,
and he died very old indeed, and his wife followed him in two or three
days, so they were not separated even by death for long.

... Now to my log rolling. It has already been explained by travellers
of repute that the Red Sea does not take its name from its colour; this
statement, I believe, is now generally accepted as being something more
than the mere "traveller's tale." It is not, however, so generally known
that this Sea is peculiarly blue, so blue, in fact, that were you to dip
a white dress into it it would come out blue, or at least it looks as if
it would. It reminds me of a splendid blue silk with filmy white lace
spread over it. Against this the figures on the shady side of the ship
look very pretty; ladies and children and menkind all in such various
bright, summery colours, lying in long chairs or grouped round green
card tables. "The Ladies' Gulf," it should be called now. That used to
be the name for the sea off the N. W. of Africa where you pick up the
North East trades as you sail south. Times have changed and sea routes,
so the name should be passed east to this Gulf of Suez, where ladies and
parasols look at their best and the appearance of a man in oilskins
would be positively alarming.

The Indian judge with the Italian name and myself, are, as far as I can
see, the only passengers who are not engaged doing something. Perhaps
the judge's Italian name and my Vino Tinto respectively account for our
contemplative attitudes. He has pulled his chair well forward to be out
of the crowd, and makes a perfect picture of happy repose; he wears a
dark blue yachting suit, and his hands are deep in his pockets. His face
is ruddy, and his eyes are blue and seem to sparkle with the pleasure of
watching the tumbling blue seas, and the bursting white and green
crests. Just now a rope grummet, thrown by an elderly youth at a tub,
rolled under his legs, and the judge handed it back most politely, and
resumed contemplation. In two minutes another quoit clattered under his
chair, this he likewise returned very politely; at the third, however,
he sighed and gave up his study of the blue and sauntered aft to the
smoking-room--such is life on a P. & O.

The above picture is intended to represent ladies in afternoon dress,
the colours of the intermediate tints of the rainbow--expressions
celestial. It is the witching hour before changing from one costume to
the other, after afternoon tea and just before dressing for dinner. To
the right you may observe an Ayah spoiling some young Britons.[3] You
see in the background a golden sunset on a wine red sea, and our lady
artist, a pupil from Juliens; she is gazing out at the departing
glory.... After sundown the decks are empty, for the people are below
dressing and at dinner; towards nightfall they become alive again with
ladies in evening dresses with delicate scarves and laces, promenading
to and fro--a difficult thing to do in such a crowd. One moment they are
dark shadowy forms against the southern night sky, then they are all
aglow in the lights from the music-room windows and the ports of the
deck cabins.

[3] Make it Anglo Saxons, if you like!

[Illustration]

"The-most-beautiful-lady-in-the-ship," in dark muslin, and the
stalwart-man stand near us to-night; they are in half-light, leaning
against the rail, looking out into the darkness. I wished Whistler
might have seen them; he alone could have caught the soft night
colours--the black so velvety and colourful, blurred into the dark blue
of the night sky, with never the suggestion of an outline, and just one
touch of subdued warm colour on the bend of her neck. Sometimes her
scarf floats lightly across his sleeve and rests, and floats away again.
I suppose they talk of--the weather, and repeat themselves in the dear
old set terms. That is why nature is more interesting than man, it never
repeats itself or displays an effect for more than a minute. Five men
out of any six on board, I believe, would make a fair copy of the
conversation of these two, but only one man who has lived in our times
could have made a fist at that effect of faint lamp-light and fainter
moonlight on the black of the coat against the deep blue-black of the
star spangled southern sky. Only the "Master" could have got the
delicacy and movement of the faintly sea-green veil that sometimes lifts
on the warm breeze and floats an instant across the sky and the
broadcloth; he would have got the innermost delicacy of colour form
purely and simply, without an inch, of conventional paint or catch-penny
sentiment.



CHAPTER VII


I believe this is the 5th. These 'chits' help one to remember dates;
they are little cards presented you when you order soda water or wine,
or are solicited for subscriptions to sports or sweepstakes. They have
the date marked on them, and you add your name, and number of berth, and
away goes your steward to the bar or wine man, and you get what you
ordered; it may be ages afterwards, when you have almost forgotten what
it was you ordered, but punctually at the end of the week, you get them
in a bundle and pay up. "I find," to quote Carlyle again, "I have a
considerable feeling of astonishment at the unexpected size of the
bundles. It's a most excellent system, and if there wasn't such a crowd
it would work out all right here."

It is uncomfortably warm now and damp. Last night we on the main deck
had to sleep with ports closed, so we had to live with very little air;
I do not know what the temperature was, not having a thermometer with
us, as we are almost amidship and near the engine, it must have been
considerable.

... The Red Sea does not grow in my affections; as we go south there is
too much of the sensation of being slowly stewed. At Babel Mandeb I
believe the temperature of the sea rises to 100° F.

The islands we pass on the shore to the east, distant about fifteen
miles as I write, are interesting enough. I suppose the inhabitants are
somewhat irresponsible, and were we to land there in the boats unarmed,
might find us full occupation for the rest of our lives as slaves in
the interior. There was a ship wrecked on this coast some years ago,
and her boat's crew landed, and were either killed or are up country
slaving. R. tells me the wife of one of them lives beside his people in
Fife, which makes us feel almost in touch with the sandy shore. What an
anomaly--a modern steamship packed with western civilisation reeling off
twenty knots an hour--past a desert land of lawless nomadic Arab tribes.

[Illustration]

As we get south nearer Aden the sand spits tail out south and slope off
inland like wide glaciers, through which appear dark coloured rocky
islets.

... We had rather bad luck yesterday and to-day; the iron wind catcher
put out at our port to make a draught caught a sea, and threw it all
over our cabin. G.'s maid had just opened my overland trunk to give the
contents an airing, and now my collars are pulp and rose pink from the
lining of the collar box, so I must call on the barber who runs a shop
on board. We had the carpet taken up and our clothes hung up to dry, but
they won't, for the air is so hot and damp--with the least exertion you
steam! Imagine the joy of having to dress for dinner in such cramped
space and heat--you drop a stud and a year of your life in finding it! I
think most people realise that their feelings under these circumstances
cannot be exactly described in decorous language, so they set their
teeth in grim silence; and after all there is something laughable about
all the trouble--we needn't go in for white shirts and black coats and
trousers in the tropics unless we like. Everyone feels them horribly
uncomfortable and unsuitable, but no one dares to be so utterly radical
as come to dinner in anything else. If a flannel shirt and shorts were
the fashion, if only for the Red Sea and Indian Ocean, how many valued
lives would be prolonged. The penance in India is not so bad; there your
_Boy_ hunts your stud whilst you sit and cool.

A number of passengers sleep on deck now; I suppose three and four in a
cabin is intolerable. They have their mattresses brought up on deck by
their cabin steward, and he chalks their number on the deck at their
feet; you can thus sleep in a strong wet draught under the officers'
deck. There is a great deal of pleasure in sleeping in the open, but you
should have nothing but stars overhead and a shelter to windward, if it
is only a swelling in the ground or a sod or two. The ladies have a part
of the deck reserved, and the floor of the music room round the well
that opens into the dining-saloon below. Their part of the deck is
defended at night by a zereba of deck chairs, piled three or four feet
high; it suggests privacy!

We had our port open last night again--my fault--and just as G. came to
my end of the cabin to tell me the waves were getting near the port, in
one came! So we spent the small hot hours rearranging things, shut the
port and slept the sleep of the weary, and awakened more dead than alive
from too little air and too much water.

Yesterday the ship went on fire. It started on the woodwork of the
companion way, where there was a place for stationery; there was a
mighty mess of water and smell of smoke and a panel or two burned, and
no great damage done, as far as I can hear. I am surprised we don't go
on fire every day with so many smokers chucking cigarette ends
overboard. The wind-catchers sticking out of the ports of course catch
these, and they blow into the berths. Yesterday, however, to prevent
this, two or three buckets with sand in them were put down on deck in
which cigarette ends are to be buried and pipes knocked out, so there's
a chance for us all yet!

This morning I made a water-colour for my engineer friend, as a return
for the wine vase he gave me. I thought he'd like a sketch of a Highland
burn in spate--thought it would be cooling. How it came about I cannot
explain, but I did him a recollection of a burn within five to seven
miles, by sea, of his birthplace in Jura! I'd put him down as coming
from the Clyde.

The biggest event for me in this day's reckoning was the discovery that
the distinguished judge I observed contemplating the blue waves for some
minutes, was an artist before he took to Law! You might have knocked me
down with a feather--five years in Lauren's studio in Paris, and three
pictures on the line the year he was called to the bar and two of them
sold! We had a great talk about art and all the rest of it. He and
Jacomb Hood and others were fellow students, and he and Jacomb Hood and
this writer, and various artists and newspaper men are to meet at his
board in Calcutta and have a right good Bohemian evening as in days of
yore.

Is it not curiously sanguine this belief, to which I've seen quite old
men clinging--that you can repeat a good time. It is possible we will
have a good evening, and talk lots of shop, for we all know far more
about it now, than we did then; but it was what we did not know, that
gave the charm to student days.

We talk art and technique pretty hard, but I can't quite get over the
shock--an artist--become a judge--A Quartier Latin Art Student--a Judge
of the High Court--with a fixed income, and on his way to Calcutta,
perhaps to hang folk!

We had sports to-day and a sing-song in the evening. The sports were
very amusing; the bolster fight on a spar doesn't sound interesting, but
it was; it got quite exciting towards the end as the wiry cavalry
colonel, hero of many a stricken field, knocked out all comers, young or
old. Egg and spoon races and threading needles were a little stupid, but
what tableaux the groups of fair women made, with the bright dresses
and complexions, and the jolly brown young men, all in the soft light
that was filtering through the awning and blazing up from under its edge
from the sea.

[Illustration]

Sunday--at Aden--loafed all morning--vowed I'd not paint--bustle and
movement too great--painted hard in afternoon--horribly difficult--too
many people--ladies skirt in palette--man's hoof in water tin--chucked
it.

[Illustration: Aden, and Fan-sellers]

This is verbatim from my log and expresses a very little of one's
feelings; everyone is so jolly and polite too, you just have to stop, or
go on and show temper. Two or three of the passengers tried to paint
effects, each formed a centre of a group of people, who looked over
their shoulders, the onlookers one after another remarking with
ingratiating smiles, "You don't mind my looking, do you?" Why on earth
do people look over the shoulders of persons painting, when they would
never dream of looking over the shoulder of any one writing?
Notwithstanding the crowd and polite requests to be "allowed to look,"
and the untenable effort required to give soft answers, I did manage to
make a sketch or two at Aden--one of stony hills and government houses
in the background, and in the front green water and the vendors of fans
and beads, and curious brown, naked, active fellows in sharp stemmed
light coloured boats, which they could row! Some of them had turbans,
pink or lemon yellow, or white skull caps, and there were also
Egyptian officials and soldiers in white uniform and red turbash, in
white launches that raced about through the green water, cutting a great
dash of white with their bows; there was colour enough, and movement and
sun galore.

[Illustration]

I suppose these "ragged rocks and flinty spires" are the rocks that
inspired the Pipe-Major with the cheery farewell to "The Barren Rocks of
Aden"--here they are the rocks you see from Aden--everyone knows the
tune.

7th October.--The lady artist and I compared sketches. We both worship
Whistler, and various writers we agree about, but I fear we are only in
sympathy so far. I gathered from her to-night that I ought to study
native character in India, for our countrymen in India had no
picturesqueness, no art about them, and to associate with them one had
better be at home. I felt saddened and went on deck and saw the people
she called "Anglo-Indians" (more than two-thirds Scots, Irish, Cornish,
and Welsh, with a negligible fraction of possible Angles) all lying
like dead men in rows, with no side or show about them as they lay; some
in contorted positions, with here and there a powerful limb or well
rounded northern head showing in the half dark. Rulers of the Indian
Empire, by Odin! or Jove! damp and hot, and in the dark, in a strong
draught, without a pick of gold lace, prostrate, sweating uncomfortably,
sleeping; and travelling as their innumerable predecessors have ever
travelled, from the North to rule the South.

[Illustration]

They may be inartistic, but they look mighty touching, pathetic, and
wonderful, not only the individual whose legs you step over but that
almighty race combine--whatever you call it[4]--which he represents....
Ladies were stealing to their lairs in the zereba on deck, and in the
music room; they look quite Eastern, all muffled up in tea gowns and
gauzy draperies. The music room has only recently been reserved for them
at night; a mere man who had camped there with wife and child did not
know of the change; and Mrs Deputy-Commissioner told us they were all
lying out there in the dark when the man entered in pyjamas and had
stepped over a dozen prostrate forms when Mrs D.-C. said incisively, "We
are all ladies here," and he murmured "Good Lord," and his retreat was
rapid--what a scare he had!

[4] British or English.

   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .

[Illustration]

Only one more day's dull reckoning and we will be ashore. I expect
everyone is getting rather sick of the crowded life. A fancy dress ball
pulled through last night. Most ingenious dresses were made up, and
prizes were given to the best. All those in fancy dress formed up and
walked past the judges in single file. There were pretty much the usual
stock costumes, and nothing original amongst the ladies. The very
black-eyed belle with red cheeks wore a mantilla of course, and gripped
a fan and had a camellia in her hair, and was called Andalusian,
but her walk and expression were "made in England"--a Spanish
girl's expression and walk can't be got up in a day or two.
The-most-beautiful-lady-in-the-ship was--upon my word, I don't know what
her dress was called, something of the "Incroyable" period; whatever it
was called, she carried it well and could walk, the rest merely toddled.
She is Australian, still, I'd have given her First Prize. The lady who
did get it, was really very pretty, and dressed as a white Watteau or
Dresden shepherdess. Amongst the men "The British Tourist" was
perfection--answered all requirements, and suggested the tourist of old
and the tourist of to-day; he had check trousers, chop whiskers, a sun
hat, umbrella, blue spectacles, and the dash of red Bædeker for colour.
Then an Assistant-Commissioner, an Irishman, was splendidly got up. I'd
noticed he had been out of sight a good deal lately--he had been sewing
his own clothes, and they were really well made! "An Eastern Potentate"
he called himself, or a Khedive, and ran to riot in a jumble of orders
and jewellery and gold chains. Trousers and jacket were pale cinnamon
with scarlet facings and a red turbash, and how well the clothes fitted!
clever Mr B.; he knows so much about many subjects, and can sew! He and
my Judge acquaintance were arguing last night. The Judge is a
Cornishman. When you get a highly educated Cornishman and an Irishman
together, however long they have been in England, and they begin to
talk, it's worth while sitting out. B. explained in soft and winning
words to the Judge that his life was a giddy round of society, long
leave, and high pay, whilst he in the far North led a lonely life of
continuous hard work and no pay to speak of; and the Judge, with equal
if not greater fluency, described B.'s up-country life as perpetual
leave on full pay, a long delightful picnic, and so on and so forth. My
sympathy went with the Judge; I think his life is the least pleasant,
but one had to allow for his greater rapidity of speech and practice in
courts before juries, besides his art studies in Paris. Later R. joined;
he is an advocate in Calcutta and hails from the Hebrides. Then came a
Welsh Major, a gunner. That made a party of an Irishman, two Scots (one
of them anglicised), a Welsh, and a Cornishman, and they discussed
everything under the sun except the Celtic Renaissance: for they spend
their days on the confines of the Empire, and the brain takes time to
make the tail wag.



CHAPTER VIII


[Illustration: B]

Bombay.--I've travelled these three weeks with people who have lived in
India, and I have been brought up on Indian books and Indian home
letters, and in one way and another have picked up an idea of what the
people and the features of nature are like, but I have received only a
very faint idea of its real light and colour. I thought Egypt had given
me a fair idea of what India might be, but nothing in Egypt can touch
what I've seen in these two half days.

Our first view of Bombay from where we lay at anchor a mile off shore
was very disappointing. All there is to see is a low shore and a
monotonous line of trees and houses; the air was warm and damp and hazy,
and the smoke from two or three tall chimneys hung in thin wreaths over
land and water. In our immediate neighbourhood steamers were coaling,
and their dust did not add any beauty to the picture, and the actual
landing is not very interesting; you get off the ship to the wharf in a
big launch, a slow process but quietly and well-managed, and on shore
have a little trouble about your luggage, even though it may be in the
hands of an agent. I'd two or three cab voyages, "gharry," I should have
said, before I got the best part of ours to the Taj Hotel. There a
friend had booked us our rooms before we sailed, and on the morning of
our arrival had very thoughtfully secured them with lock and key, so
that no unscrupulous Occidental could play on Oriental weakness and bag
them before our arrival.

The journeys in the gharry were not entirely successful, and I didn't
get all our baggage till next day, but they presented me with one
astounding series of beautiful pictures, so that my head fairly reeled
with the continuous effort to grasp the way of things and their forms
and colours, things in the street, themselves perhaps of no great
interest but for the intense colourful light.--There is a water carrier;
the sun shines blue on the back of his brown bare legs and back, and
blazes like electric sparks on the pairs of brass water pots he carries
slung across his shoulders. He is jogging along fast, his "shoulder knot
a-creaking," and the water that splashes on to the hot dust intensifies
the feeling of heat and light. Then you catch the flash of silver rings
in the dust on a woman's toes as she strides along, and have the
unfamiliar pleasure of seeing the human form, God's image in brown, and
note the rounded limbs and bust, and the movement of hip and swinging
arm through white draperies, which the sun makes a golden transparency.
What thousands of figures, and all in different costumes or bare skin.

[Illustration]

Their Royal Highnesses the Prince and Princess of Wales arrived the day
before we did, so the air vibrates with the salutes from guns, and is
full of heat and curdling smoke, and colour. "The Prince" is distinctly
in the air, and we feel glad in consequence that we have arrived in
time to have seen the town at its brightest: from morning to night there
is one scene after another of continually shifting figures and colours,
perfectly fascinating to us new comers.

... Guns again from the war ships, aimed right at our windows!
Everything jingles, the air is quivering with the sound and light. The
ships in the bay are ablaze with flags, and the sides of the Apollo
Bundar (the landing place of the Prince) are a mass of decorations and
flags. Below our windows in the shadow of our hotel on the embankment,
the crowd of natives in their best behaviour and best clothes move to
and fro making holiday, watching the ships and any ceremony that may
come off in their neighbourhood, for like our own natives they love a
tamasha. They wear flimsy clothes of varied colours, lemon-yellow and
pale rose, white and pale green, and the Southern light softens all
these by making each reflect a little on to the other.

... There they go again! banging away--good thing there's no glass in
our hotel windows! You can hardly see the shipping now, the smoke hangs
low on the turquoise blue of the bay, and you can just see the yellow
gleam of the flash and feel the concussion and the roar that follows.

Interjectory this journal must be, even my sketches are running into
meaningless strokes with so many subjects following one on the top of
the other. In the pauses that follow the passing of troops and
gun-firing, the crowds in the streets below our hotel watch snake
charmers, jugglers, and monkey trainers who play up to us at our
balconies.

What a delight!--there they are, all the figures we knew as dusty
coloured models as children, now all alive and moving and real. The
snake charmer, a north countryman, I think, sits on his heels on the
road and grins up at us and chatters softly and continuously, holding up
his hands full of emerald green slow moving snakes; a crowd of holiday
townspeople stand round him at a little distance and watch closely. He
stows the green snakes away into a basket, and his hands are as lithe as
his snakes but quicker, then pipes to nasty cobras, the colour of the
dusty road; they raise their heads and blow out their hoods and sway to
and fro as he plays. Then the mongoose man shows how his beast eats a
snake's head--no trick about this! And always between the turns of the
performances the performers look up and show their white teeth and talk
softly to us, but we can't hear what they say the windows are so high
up. Then bang go the guns again, and we shut our blinds and try to read
of the show of the day, the opening of Princes Street, when the Prince
drove through "millions of happy and prettily dressed subjects." As we
read there comes a knock and a message with an invitation card to see
the Prince open a museum, and we read on; another knock comes just as
I'd begun to draw the Prince as we saw him last night in a swirl of
dust, outriders, and cavalry, blurred in night and dust and heat--it is
another card! To meet their Royal Highnesses, the Prince and Princess of
Wales to-night at Government House! Surely this is the veritable land of
the tales of the Arabian Nights! It comes as a shock to live all your
life in your own country and never to see the shadow of Royalty, then
suddenly to be asked twice in one day to view them as they pass--I am
quite overcome--It will be a novel experience, and won't it be warm! It
means top hat, frock coat and an extra high collar for the afternoon,
and in the evening a hard, hot, stiff shirt and black hot clothes, and a
crush and the thermometer at pucca hot-weather temperature, and damp at
that, but who cares, if we actually see Royalty--twice in one day!

   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .

I am determined not to go out to-day, not on any account. I will sit in
this tower room of this palace and write and draw, and will shut these
jalousies that open west and south and north-east, and offer
distracting views, and I will contemplate the distempered walls in the
shade till I have recalled all I saw yesterday. If I go to the window,
or outside, there will be too many new things to see. I maintain that
for one day of new sights, a day is needed to arrange them in the
tablets of memory.... But is it possible I saw all these things in one
day! From a tiny wedding in the Kirk in the morning to the Royal
Reception at Government House at night; from dawn till late night one
splendid line of pictures of Oriental and Occidental pageantry, of which
I have heard and read of so much and realised so little compared with
reality.

[Illustration]

We started the day with a wedding of a lady we knew on board, to a young
Scottish officer, the day after her arrival. We directed our "boy" to
tell our driver to go to the Free Church. But apparently neither of
these benighted heathens could distinguish between the "Free" and the
"Wee Free," or the "U. P." or the "Established" and took us to the
English Church. We had such a hunt for the particular branch of the
Church of Scotland. It was quite a small kirk, and our numbers were in
proportion. We arrived a little hot and angry at being so misled, but
the best man, a brother officer of the bridegroom, had not turned up, so
we waited a little and chatted and joked a little, and felt in our
hearts we would wish to see the bride and bridegroom's friends and
relations about them. The best man came soon, and the bridegroom's
colonel, and made an audience of four, not counting the minister; and
the somewhat lonely pair stood before him, with the punkah above them,
and the sun streamed through latticed windows and a modest bit of
stained glass, and they were joined for better and no worse I am sure.
Then the minister opened a little paste board box someone had sent from
home, and out came a little rice, and we four got a little each and
threw it very carefully, two or three grains at a time so as not to
miss. The bride had a dainty sprig of white heather in a brooch of a
lion's collar bone, and was dressed in white and had a very becoming
rose from home, and the sea, on her cheeks. As we prayed I made a sketch
of them for her sister at home. Then they and the witnesses signed their
names, and where their hands and wrists touched the vestry table there
was a tiny puddle, and yet this is what they call "cold weather" here!

We met the bride and bridegroom later at lunch, and we drank to each
other's health in pegs of lemon squash after the latest fashion East of
Suez.

    "It was a wee, wee waddin'
    In a far, far toon,"

and it's far awayness from friends and relatives and their own country
was rather pathetic, even though the pair looked so handsome and happy.

We drove back more leisurely and marvelled at the innumerable lovely
groups in streets and by-ways, the flicker of light through banyan trees
on white-robed figures, the little carts with big wooden wheels and
small oxen and sharp big shadows, and we stopped to watch a splendid
group of men washing clothes, a dozen or more naked brown statues
against a white low wall, water splashing over them and round them,
flecks of sun and shadows coming through the leaves--I suppose these
were natives from the north as they had good legs. I must try and put
that down this afternoon if I can, and bring in the hedge of convolvulus
with lilac blooms behind and the hoody crows dancing round; then past
lines of pretty horses and tents and officers and ladies at lunch. At
our lunch at the Taj we bade good-bye to five friends, R. and D. for
Bangalore, Mrs D. C. for the north, and our newly-married pair for
Baroda. So G. and I and Mr and Mrs H. remain out of our table on board
ship; the H.'s stay for a time at the Taj and tell us so much about
Bombay, its people, and their ways, that a guide book would feel very
dry reading.

By the afternoon we have received I think five invitations on yellow
cards to various royal functions! Now indeed we are in the marvellous
East, in the land to which Scot and Irish should travel to see their
prince or king. So you, my dear friends, artists and professional men,
who have chosen to live as I have done, in or near the capital of your
native land, and whose most thrilling pageant in the whole year is the
line of our worthy bailies and the provost in hired coaches going up the
High Street to open a meeting of ministers, if you would experience the
feeling that stirred the blood of your ancestors so hotly, the feeling
of personal loyalty to prince or king, the sense that is becoming as
dormant as the muscles behind our ears, all you have to do is to leave
your native shores and your professional duties, and home ties, and
travel to some outlying part of the Empire; say to Bombay--there and
back will cost you about _£_200 by P. & O., but you will realise then
that the old nerves may still vibrate. You, my friends, who can't
afford this luxury, you must just stay at home and be as loyal as you
can under the circumstances, and try not to think of our departed
glories, and Home Rule, or Separation--and you can read, about these
yellow tickets to royal shows and such far off things, in traveller's
tales.

The first of these functions was the laying of the foundation of a
museum of science and art; it sounds prosaic, but it was a pageant of
pageantry and pucca tomasha too; the greater part, I daresay, just the
ordinary gorgeousness of this country, fevered with stirring loyalty.
The ceremony was in the centre of an open space of grass, surrounded by
town buildings of half Oriental and half Western design, and blocks of
private flats, each flat with a deep verandah and all bedecked with
flags, and gay figures on the roofs and in the verandahs. In the centre
of the grass were shears with a stone hanging from them on block and
tackle. To our left was a raised dais with red and yellow striped tent
roof supported on pillars topped with spears and flags and the three
golden feathers of the Prince of Wales. In front of the circle of chairs
opposite this and to our right sat the Indian princes; they had rather
handsome brown faces and fat figures, and wore coats of delicate silks
and satins, patent leather shoes and loose socks, big silver bangles and
anklets; their turbans and swords sparkled with jewels, and the air in
their neighbourhood was laden with the scents of Araby.

Behind us sat the Parsees and their women-folk, soberly clad in European
dress; they are intelligent looking people with pleasant cheery manners,
I would like to see more of them. Their fire-worship interests me, for
it was till lately our own religion, and I even to-day know of an old
lady in an out-of-the-way corner of our West Highlands who, till quite
recently, went through various genuflexions every morning--old forms of
fire-worship--as the sun rose; and in the Outer Isles we have still
many remains of our fore-fathers' worship woven into the untruthful
jingling rhymes of the monks.[5]

[5] See "Carmina Gadelica, the Treasure House, Hymns and Incantations of
Highlands and Islands," collected by Alexander Carmichael, 1900, and
there also the pre-Christian game and fishing laws of Alba.

Through the pillars of the Shamiana we could see lines of white helmets
of troops, and beyond them the crowds of natives in bright dresses,
banked against the houses and in groups in the trees, a kaleidoscope of
colour. Past this came a whirl of Indian cavalry with glittering sabres,
and the Prince and Princess came on to the dais--more brightly dressed
than they were in Oxford Street three weeks ago, the Prince in a white
naval uniform with a little gold and a white helmet, an uncommonly
becoming dress though so simple; the Princess in the palest pink with a
suggestion of darker pink showing through, and a deep rose between hat
and hair. A tubby native in frock coat and brown face and little pink
turban held a mushroom golden umbrella near the Prince and Princess, not
over them, it really was not needed for there were clouds, and the light
was just pleasant. The Prince then "laid" the stone--that is, some
natives slackened the tackle, and it came down all square--and he and
the Princess talked to the Personages in attendance and various City
Dignitaries. First, I should have said, the Prince read a speech which
seemed to me to cover the ground admirably. I forget what he said now,
but you could hear every word. He had notes, but I think he spoke by
heart. I made a careful picture of it all; red decorations, green grass,
Prince and Princess, and the golden umbrella, but it is gone, lost--gone
where pins go, I suppose.

You should have heard the people cheering, and seen the running to and
fro of crowds to catch a glimpse of the great Raj as he drove away! In a
minute the great place was all on the move, Rajahs getting into their
carriages and dashing off with their guards riding before and behind,
and smaller Rajahs with seedier carriages and only bare-footed footmen
jumping up behind.

Everyone was happy and interested, and what a bustle and movement there
was! The banging of the guns on the men-of-war began again as the
motley, fascinatingly interesting crowd, cavalry outriders, Sikhs,
Parsees, Gourkas, Hindoos, and Mussulmen, sped away down to the Apollo
Bundar to see the Prince go off to the flagship. H. and I went with the
tide, a jolly cheery medley of coloured races, waddling, trotting,
running, the whole crowd cut in two by the Royal Scots marching through
them, their pipers playing the "Glendaruil Highlanders." Sandies and
Donalds and natives of India, but all subjects of the great Raj: and all
got down together to the Bundar to see the Royal embarkation. Next we
met G. and Mrs H. driving as fast as possible through the crowd to still
another function, at the Town Hall, where the British Princess met the
women of all India in their splendour, and woman's world met woman's
world for the world's good. I'd fain have seen the tall, fair, Saxon
surrounded by devoted Eastern subjects! All I did see was some of the
preparations--red cloth being laid in acres up to a stately
Parthenon--but from various accounts I have heard from ladies who were
present, this must have been one of the most extraordinary and gorgeous
functions the world has ever seen.

The Princess, in robes and creations that chilled words, walked
ankle-deep in white flower petals and golden clippings, pearls rained,
and on all sides were grouped the most beautiful Eastern ladies in most
exquisite silks of every tint of the rainbow, with diamonds, pearls, and
emeralds and trailing draperies, skirts, and soft veils, and silken
trousers; sweet scents and sounds there were too, in this Oriental dream
of heaven, and everything showed to the utmost advantage in the mellow
trembling light that fell from two thousand five hundred candles, and
one hundred and ninety-nine glittering and bejewelled candelabra. And in
the middle, there was a golden throne of bejewelled peacocks, and
punkahs and umbrellas of gold and rose--a dream of beauty--and not one
man in the whole show!

The Apollo Bundar, as everyone who has been in India knows, is a
projecting part of the esplanade below the Taj Hotel. Here Royalties are
in the habit of landing and embarking. On the centre has been built
something in the nature of a triumphal arch with eastern arches and
minarets at its four corners with golden domes. It is all white, and
between it and the pavilion at the landing stairs a great awning, or
Shamiana is stretched, of broad red and white striped cloth. Everywhere
are waving flags from golden spears, and little palms and shrubs in
green tubs are arranged on either side of the Shamiana; and the effect
is quite pretty; but considering the historic importance of the occasion
and the natural suitability of the surroundings for a Royal landing, the
conception and arrangement of spectacular effect was astoundingly
poor--and it must be admitted it is a mistake to hide the principal
actors at the most telling point of a momentous event with bunting and
shrubs in pots, or both! The actual landing, the stepping on shore,
should have been pictorial and visible to the thousands of spectators.
Instead of this, the Royal personages, the moment they stepped ashore,
were conducted into this tent, to listen to written speeches! What an
occasion for a great spectacular effect lost for ever!

When we got down to the Bundar the Sikh cavalry had dismounted and stood
at their horses' heads; their dark blue and dark rose uniforms and
turbans made a foil to the brilliant dresses of the crowd.

After witnessing the departure of the Prince, we sat a breathing space
on the lawn at the Yacht Club and watched the day fading, "Evening
falling, shadows rising," and the ladies dresses growing faint in
colour, as the background of the Bay and the white men-of-war became
less distinct; the golden evening light crept up the lateen sails in
front of us and left them all grey, and the moon rose beyond the Bay,
and the club lamps were lit, and the guns began to play--vivid flashes
of flame; and a roar round the fleet, straight in our faces, and again
far over to Elephanta, yellow flashes in the violet twilight, and the
Prince came ashore.

The cavalry and their lances at once follow his carriage; they are
silhouetted against the last of gold in the west, flicker across the
lamps of the Bundar, and rattle away into the shadows of the streets.
There is the noise of many horses feet and harness, and the last of the
guns from the fleet. Then the night is quiet again and hot as ever, and
there's nothing left of the glare and noise of the day, only the glowing
lamps on some of the buildings, and the subdued hum of the talk of the
moving thousands, and the whispering sound of their bare feet in the
dust. The Eastern crowd is distinctly impressed and very much
compressed; they will now spend the rest of the evening gazing at the
Bombay public buildings that are being lit all over with little oil
lamps.

And this was but a small part of the day for us, the best was to come in
the damp, hot night.



CHAPTER IX


[Illustration: (With apologies to the Indian Surveys.)]

Dined at our hostlerie; in every direction vistas of uniforms, ladies'
dresses, maharajahs, rajahs, turbans, and jewels, the marble pillars and
the arches of blue night over the bay for background.

Then we got away in a bustle of hundreds of other carriages and
gharries, all bound for Government House. We started a little late; you
may have observed that with ladies you are apt to be late for social
functions, but rarely miss a train! H. and I drove ahead with soothing
cigars, and the ladies came close behind.

On our left we passed the R.H. Artillery Camp, rows of tents frosted
with moonlight against the southern sea, some had lamps glowing inside;
and further on we passed their lines of picketted horses, with silent
native syces squatted on the sand at their feet.

... The dust hangs heavily from the gharries in front of us as we drive
north round the Back Bay, which we are told is very beautiful, and like
the Bay of Naples in the daytime; what we see on this warm night is a
smooth, dark sea, which gives an infrequent soft surge on the shore, a
few boats lie up on the moonlit sand and figures lie asleep in their
shadows, and others sit round little fires. Dark palm stems and banyan
trees are between us and the sea, and to our right are fern-clad rocks
and trees in night green shade, rising steeply to where we can
distinguish white walls and lights of villas of the wealthy Bombay
natives.

We pass the Parsis' Towers of Silence, where vultures entomb the dead,
and inhale for a long part of the road the smoke of burning wood and
Hindoos--an outrageous experience. The road rises gradually and gets
narrower as we leave the shore, and the procession of carriages goes
slower. On either side are low white walls and villas and heavy foliage.
Coloured lamps are hung in every direction, and their mellow lights
blend pleasantly with the moonlight and shadows, and shine through the
flags that hang without movement, and light up ropes of flowers and
ribands with gold inscriptions of welcome, that stretch from tree to
tree across the road. You read on them in golden letters, "Tell papa how
happy we are under British Rule," and on the walls, sitting or lying at
length, and in the trees are bronze-coloured natives in white clothes,
or in the buff, silently watching the procession of carriages, and they
do look as contented as can be; and so would we be too, if we had to get
into their evening undress instead of hard shirts and broad cloth on
such a damp, hot night. It is November and ought to be cool, but this
year everyone says it is just October as regards temperature and
moisture, and October, they say, is the beastliest month in the twelve.
The drive of four or five miles takes over an hour, and looking south we
see the lights shining across the bay from where we started. We climb
slowly up Malabar Hill in the dusky shade of the heavy foliage and come
to a stop amongst crowds of other carriages opposite Government House.

I'd like to stop and paint this scene, it would suit the stage--the
marquee on the right, pale moonlight on its ridge, and warm light and
colour showing through its entrance as ladies go in to put off their
cloaks; its guy ropes are fast to branches and air roots of a banyan
tree; and to the left there is another graceful tree, with wandering
branches, hung with many red and yellow paper lamps, the branches like
copper in the light and in shadow black against the dark blue sky. In
front is part of Government House, dim white with trellis work and
creepers round a classic verandah, and lamplight coming through the open
jalousies. Leading up to the verandah are wide steps in shadow; and on
these, a light catching now and then on a jewel or scabbard, are groups
of Indian Princes. Beside us on the lawn are people in all kinds of
dresses, soldiers in uniform and the gold dull in the shadows, ladies in
fairy-coloured ball dresses, and Parsi men in frock-coats and shiny
black hats, their women in most delicate veils over European dresses.
The figures move quietly and speak softly, and the air is full of the
rattle of crickets or cicadas and a pleasant scent of night flowers, and
cheroot smoke, with a whiff of old ocean.

We wait and chat outside with acquaintances, and some ladies practise
curtseys whilst the natives are being received--the coloured man first,
the white man and his womenfolk when they may! Then we all go up the
steps and into the brilliant interior, which is Georgian in style, and
light and prettily coloured. It is distinctly a sensation, to come from
semi-darkness into full light and such an extraordinary variety of
people and colour and costumes. The figures in the half light outside
were interesting, in the full blaze of hundreds of candles from many
chandeliers the effect is just as brilliant as anything one could
imagine. The strong colours of the natives' turbans, silk coats, sashes,
and jewels enrich the scene, and their copper colour helps to set off
the splendid beauty of our women with their dazzling skins and
delicately coloured dresses. Positively these princes were inches deep
in emeralds, diamonds, and pearls.

[Illustration]

Then comes the tableau of the evening, the Prince and Princess walking
with aides-de-camp through their Eastern and Western subjects, with an
introduction made here and there. The Prince walks in front and the
Princess a few steps behind. She seems very pleased and interested, and
still, I think, looks under her eye lest she should fail to recognise
some one she would wish to notice, and the Prince's expression is so
pleasant, quiet, and possessed in repose, and with a very ingratiating
smile. He stops and speaks to right and left, to one of our officers, or
a native prince. One, a tall grizzled old fellow with gorgeous turban
and the eye and air of a hunter, bends very low over the offered
hand, and talks a moment, possibly tells how he shot with the King when
he was Prince, and how there are tigers and devoted subjects waiting in
the north in his state all at the service of the son of the Great White
Raj, and as the Prince goes past, the old man follows him with a very
kindly expression. I must say that these people's jewels interest me
more than their expressions; but this one man's face was exceptional,
and he was lean! You see the thing above these people, that is the
punkah; when it waggles about it makes a cold draught and you get hot
with annoyance.

[Illustration: Waiting for Carriages after Reception at Government House,
  Bombay]

Immediately the Prince passed, the crowd pressed towards a side room for
champagne and iced drinks, the native Princes gallantly leading the
charge. At the start we were all pretty level, but we Britons made a bad
finish, and the native waiters and champagne were somewhat exhausted
when we came in, but for what we did receive we are truly thankful, for
it was sorely needed.

How we got home again now seems like a dream. I have just a vague
recollection of hours and hours in the warm dusk, and crowds of people
in evening dress waiting till their carriages came up. Perhaps the
arrangements could not have been better? Some of us dozed, some smoked
Government House cheroots, which were good, and the time passed. All
conversation gradually stopped, and you only heard the number of the
gharry or carriage shouted out with a rich brogue and sometimes a little
stifled joke and a "Chelo!" which seems to stand for "All right," "Go
ahead," "Look sharp," or "Go on and be damned to you," according to
intonation and person addressed. I do not quite understand how it took
such hours to get everyone away, and I do not understand how we ever
managed to get up that vast square staircase up the enormous central
tower of the Taj Hotel, for G. was deadly tired, so of course the lift
wasn't working--it looked so big and grey, and silent in the cold light
of morning.

Then to sleep, and tired dreams of the whole day and evening; I dreamt I
was in a Government House and the guests had gone and I met a dream
Prince and a dream of an A.D.C. in exquisite uniform who said, "quai
hai," and in an instant there were dream drinks, and cheroots such as
one used to be able to get long ago, and we planned ways to remedy
abuses, and the greatest was the abuse of the Royal Academical
privileges; and at such length we went into this, that this morning I
wrote out the whole indictment and it covered six of these pages, and so
it is too long to insert here. And our remedy as it was in a dream was
at once effective--sculpture and painting became as free and as strong
an influence in our national life in Britain as literature is at this
moment--then came a frightful explosion! and I awoke, and the sun was
blazing out of a blue sky through the open windows--then it came again,
a terrific bang! and the jalousies rattled and the whole of the Taj
Hotel shook for the war ships were saluting The Prince of Wales, and he
and his aides-de-camp and all the officials in his train had been up for
hours, "doing their best to serve their country and their King," whilst
we private people slumbered.

But whither have I strayed in this discourse? Am I not rather wandering
from the point, as the cook remarked to the eel, telling dreams instead
of making notes on a cold weather tour as I proposed; so I will stop
here, and tell what, by travel and conference, I have observed about
Royal functions.

The day has passed to the accompaniment of "God bless the Prince of
Wales," and gun firing, and "God save the King," on brass bands, and
more gun firing. Somehow or other "God save the King" in India, where
you are surrounded by millions of black people, sounds a good deal more
impressive than it does at home--perhaps there's more of the feeling of
God save us all out here.

I find it impossible to remember nearly all I have seen and heard in
one of these bustling days; I should think that even a resident, long
familiar with all these everyday common sights that are so new and
interesting to us, could barely remember the ceremonies of one day in
connection with the Royal Visit.

[Illustration]

I remember a dock was opened to-day, and we were favoured with tickets
which gave us an admirable view. Again there were shears, at the bottom
of a place like a Greek theatre, very large shears this time, and a
stone suspended from them. The Prince and Princess came down a wide
flight of steps to a platform with two thrones on it. Behind them at the
top of the steps were splendid Ionic pillars and a pediment swagged with
great wreaths of green. The Prince was followed by officers and ladies
and leading Bombay citizens mixed with only a few Indian princes. Sir
Walter Hughes of the Harbour Trust presented a magnificent piece of
silver in the shape of a barque of the time of Charles II., with high
stem and forecastle and billowy sails, guns, ports, standing rigging,
and running gear complete, including waves and mermaids, and all made in
the School of Art here to Mr Burns' instructions. We sat opposite, in
half circles of white uniforms and gay parasols and dresses and dreams
of hats. Behind us and all around and outside the enclosure were
thousands of natives in thousands of colours. There were speeches, of
course, and the Prince touched a button and the stone descended into the
bowels of the earth and made the beginning of the new dock.

Then everyone got their carriages, gharries, bicycles, pony carts, dog
carts or whatever they came in, as best they could, and we all went
trotting, cantering, jambing, galloping, go-as-you-please down the
central thoroughfare between high houses of semi-European design, with
verandahs and balconies full of natives. The crowds on the pavement
stood four or five deep all the way, and hung in bunches on the trees,
some in gay dresses, others naked, brown and glistening against the
dusty fig trees, stems, and branches. You saw all types and colours, one
or two seedy Europeans amongst them, and Eurasians of all degrees of
colour, one, a beautiful girl of about twelve I saw for a second as we
passed; she had curling yellow hair and white skin, might have sat for
one of Millais pictures, and she looked out from the black people with
very wide blue eyes, at the passing life of her fathers. Most of us made
for the Yacht Club for tea on the lawn; for the Prince, it had been
said, was to visit it informally, so all the seats and tables on the
lawn were booked days before!

It was rather pretty there; I should not wonder that Watteau never
actually saw anything so beautiful. There were, such elegant ladies and
costumes, and such an exquisite background, the low wall and the soft
colour of the water beyond; the colour calm water takes when you look to
the East and the sun is setting behind you, the colour of a fish's
silver. And the lawn itself was fresh green; trees stood over the far
end of the Club House, and under these the band played. When the lights
began to glow along the sea wall and in the Club, and under the trees
to light the music, the Prince and the Princess, with Lady Ampthill and
Lord Lamington, came and walked up and down and spoke to people, and all
the ladies stood up from their tea tables as they passed, and I tell you
it was good; such soft glowing evening colours and gracious figures,
such groups there were to paint--my apologies for the hasty attempt
herewith. The Prince you may discover in grey frock-coat speaking to the
Bandmaster of the 10th Hussars, the Princess and Lady Ampthill near.

[Illustration]

I've worked at Saturday's pictures and Sunday's and written my journal,
and seen Royal sights all day till now, and _opus terrat_ and it is late
and hot, and the mosquitos tune up--the beast that is least eating the
beast that is biggest; the beast that is biggest to sleep if it may.



CHAPTER X


... Went this morning with Krishnaswami of Madras--Krishna is my "Boy,"
and is aged about forty--to Army and Navy Stores for clothes. The
thinnest I could get at home feel very thick and hot here in this hot
November. I'd also to get photograph films, and guitar strings, and
blankets for the Boy against the cold weather--just now the mere thought
of a blanket grills one's mind--also to book shops to get books about
India, which I am pretty sure never to have time to read. In my
innocence tried to get my return tickets on P. & O. changed to another
line, and signally failed to do so. Then drew a little and loafed a good
deal on the Bundar watching the lateen-rigged boats. These boats take
passengers to Elephanta or go off to the ships in the Bay with cargoes
of brightly coloured fruits. The scene always reminds me of that
beautiful painting by Tiepolo of the landing of Queen Elizabeth in our
National Gallery--I daresay one or two Edinburgh people may know it. The
boats are about twenty feet long with narrow beam. Figures in rich
colours sit under the little awnings spread over the stern; the sailors
are naked and brown, and pole the boats to their moorings with long,
glistening bamboos, which they drive into the bottom and make fast at
stem and stern. It is pleasant to watch the play of muscle, and
attitudes, and the flicker of the reflected blue sky on their brown
perspiring backs as they swarm up the sloping yards and cotton sails to
brail up. No need for anatomy here, or at home for that matter; if an
artist can't remember the reflected blue on warm damp flesh, he does not
better matters by telling us what he has learned of the machinery
inside--that is, of course, where Michael Angelo did not quite pull it
off.

As I sat on the parapet a beautiful emerald fish some four feet long
came sailing beneath my feet in the yellowish water; a little boy
shouted with glee, and a brown naked boatman tried to gaff it, then a
brilliant butterfly, velvet black and blue, fluttered through the little
fleet; and with the colours of the draperies, of peaceful but piratical
looking men, the lateen sails, and sunlight and heat, it all felt "truly
Oriental." To bring in a touch of the West, one of the "Renown's" white
and green launches with brass funnels rushed up and emptied a perfect
cargo of young Eastern princes in white muslins, and pink, orange, and
green turbans with floating tails to them. They clambered up the stone
slip with their bear leader and got into carriages with uniformed
drivers, six or more into each carriage quite easily; the basket trick
seems nothing to me now--they were such slips of lads--but what colour!

At lunch we talked with Miss M. She gave us the latest ship news about
our late fellow passengers--the mutual interest has not quite evaporated
yet--gave us news of the ladies who had come out to be married. She had
asked one of these as they came off the ship into the tender what it was
she carried so carefully, and the reply was, "My wedding cake," and of a
poor man, she told us, who came on at Marseilles bringing out his
fiancee's trousseau, and who found on his arrival here, he had utterly
lost it! What would the latter end of that man be; would she forgive?
Could she forget? It was said that another lady, finding the natives
were in the habit of going about without clothes, booked a return
passage by the next ship.

Here is a jotting at this same landing place of the Prince and Princess
going off to the Guard Ship, but I am so sorry it is not reproduced in
colour. They were to have gone to the Caves of Elephanta across the bay,
but had not time. They apparently go on and on, without any "eight
hour" pause, through the procession of engagements--it must be
dreadfully fatiguing.

You see three Eurasians in foreground of the sketch, one of them with
almost white hair and white skin, and freckles and blue eyes, he might
be Irish or York shire. The two younger boys are, I think, his
brothers--they have taken more after their mother. All three are nervous
and excited watching for the Prince. They are neatly dressed in thin
clothes, through which their slightly angular figures show, and have
nervous movements of hand to mouth, and quick gentle voices, slightly
staccato, what is called "chee chee," I believe.

[Illustration]

Beyond the boys you see a Parsi woman looking round. They are
conspicuous people in Bombay by their look of intense harmlessness. The
men are very tidy and wear what they probably would describe as European
clothes, trousers and long cutaway coats and white turndown collars.
Some have grey pot hats, with a round moulding instead of a brim, but
their ordinary hat is something like a mitre in black lacquer, and it
does suggest heat! They all have very brainy-looking heads from the
youth upwards, and wear glasses over eyes that have no quickness--as if
they could count but couldn't see--and they constantly move their long,
weakly hands in somewhat purposeless angular fashion; the women with
similar movements frequently pat their front hair which is plastered
down off their foreheads, and shade their eyes with their hands at a
right angle to their wrists.

I suppose they and the Bengalis are the backbone of Indian mercantile
business. Yet in "India," by Sir Thomas Holdich, I read that out of the
population of 287,000,000 the Parsis do not number even one-tenth of a
million. It seems to me that we have the Parsi woman's type at home in
some of our old families, as we have remains of their Zoroastrian
fire-worship. I've seen one or two really beautiful and highly cultured,
but the average is just a little high-shouldered and floppy, and their
noses answer too closely to Gainsborough's description of Mrs Siddons'.
Mrs Siddons is just the Parsi type glorified.

We went to the ladies gymkana to-day more for the sake of the drive, I
think, than for anything else--with the utmost deference to ladies, they
can be seen at home--a few people played Badminton by lamplight; it was
dusky, damp, and warm, and heavy matting hung round the courts. Outside
an orange sunset shone through palm stems, and flying foxes as big as
fox terriers passed moth-like within arms length. From the height we
were on we looked down over the Back Bay, and far below in the twilight
we could make out the lights from a few boats on the sand, and
fishermen's lamps flickered across the mud flats, and from far out in
the west a light kept flashing from an island that was the haunt of
pirates the other day. Two more lights we saw were glowing to the
south-east in Bombay itself--one, the light of the native fair, and a
slight glow from the remains of the Bombay and Baroda Railway Offices, a
great domed building that burned up last night after the illuminations.
It was madness to cover public buildings with open oil lamps and leave
them to be looked after by natives--this huge Taj hotel, dry as tinder
outside, a complexity of dry wooden jalousies and balconies, was covered
with these lights and floating flags--how it didn't go off like a squib
was a miracle. I saw one flag gently float into a lamp, burn up and fall
in flaming shreds and no one was the wiser or the worse. The faintest
breath of air one way or the other and the other flags would have caught
fire, and in a second it would have run everywhere.

... After the Ladies Club, pegs and billiards inside the Yacht Club, the
Bombay ladies outside on the green lawn at tea, gossip, hats, local
affairs, and Imperialism, and beyond them the ships of the fleet picked
out with electric lights along the lines of their hulls and up masts and
funnels like children's slate drawings.

It was interesting to come from the street and the crowds of Parsis and
natives all so slenderly built and watch the British youth in shirt
sleeves and thin tweeds playing billiards--they were not above the
average physique of their class, mostly young fellows who had already
been through campaigns--and you noted the muscles showing through their
thin clothes and compared them with native figures, and it did not seem
surprising that one of them could keep in order quite a number of such
wisps as the billiard markers for example. But up north they say the
natives are stronger and bigger than here.

Every now and then a boy passed round bags of chalk on hot water
enamelled plates to dry the players' hands and cues, which gives one an
idea of the damp heat of Bombay.

... Now my friend says he's off to dress, and we go into the
dressing-room--that is a sight for a nouveau! Dozens of dark men in
white linen clothes and turbans are waiting on these little chaps from
home, as they drop in. They are tubbed and towelled, shirts studded and
put on, and are fitted without hardly lifting a hand themselves till
they put the finishing touch to hair and moustache at the glasses and
dressing-tables that are fixed round the pillars--sounds like
effeminacy, but it is not, for it is far more tiring for a man to be
dressed here by two skilful servants than it is to dash into his clothes
at home by himself. If you were to dress here without help you might as
well have dropped into your bath all standing, you would be so wet and
uncomfortable; but all the same I think it is stupid the way we people
cling to a particular style of evening dress regardless of
circumstances.

Then home to the Taj in the dusk through a crowd of natives jammed tight
on the Bundar, all looking one way breathlessly at the fleet's fireworks
and search-lights. You touch them on the shoulder and say, "With your
leave," and they make way most politely, and you wonder if it is because
you are British or because they have bare toes.

I went to the theatre in the evening, a native Theatre Royal. None of my
relations or friends seemed interested, so I availed myself of the kind
offer of guidance given me by a fellow artist, an amateur painter, but a
professional cutter of clothes. I expected something rather picturesque,
possibly rather squalid, but found it intensely interesting and
characteristic and very clean, a cross-between a little French theatre,
say in Monte Parnasse, and one of the lesser London theatres. The acting
was French in style and expressive, and full of humour and frankness,
and there was a quaint decorative style in all the tableaux and in the
actors' movements that made me think rather of Persian figures in
decorations than of India. There was a parterre and a wide gallery, in
which we got back seats; the audience were all men and well-dressed, and
laughed heartily at the points. These I was fortunate enough to have
most patiently described to me by a Syrian who sat beside me,
apple-faced and beaming, pleased with the play and himself as
interpreter. Besides his valued assistance, I had from the doorkeeper a
résumé of the plot printed in English; my acquaintance was less
fortunate, for, owing to the house being full, we had to separate to
get seats, and I fear he lost a good deal of the interest. The Syrian
gave me the strong points of the different actors, and told me that he
himself was an importer of gold leaf and thread; he had, I think, one of
the jolliest faces I have ever seen. The most simple and telling effect
was when the Prime Minister found his young master sickened of love for
a beautiful lady, and sent to the bazaar for musicians and dancers; they
came and arranged themselves facing the audience in the front of the
stage in a perfectly decorative arrangement, struck in a moment. Every
turn of hand and poise of body and arrangement of colour suggested the
smiling figures you see on Persian illuminations. I forgot the effect on
the Prince--I wonder he didn't die before we left; he had been acting
hours before we came, and we only saw a portion of the play--left at
twelve, and must have been there three hours! As we drove home the
bazaars were still busy. One street struck me as peculiarly quiet. There
were Japs at balconies of low two-storied doll-houses, silhouetted
against lamplight which shone through their red fans and pink kimonos,
and other shabby houses with spindle-shanked darker natives, in white
draperies, also some larger people dimly seen, on long chairs, who my
friend said, were probably French--European at least. One or two groups
of rather orderly sailors, and a soldier or two, were all the people on
the street, and the only sound was "Come eer', come eer'" from the
balconies in various accents. The Edinburgh café I noticed, loomed large
and dark and very respectable looking in the middle of the street. I
suppose you could get drinks there on week days; my companion, the
cutter, did not take any drinks, so I think he must be thinking of
marriage. He was very interested in Art--what a bond that is, wider than
freemasonry, what good fellows artists are to each other the world
over--till they become Associates. This tailor was turned out of London
by the aliens; he spoke gently and pathetically of the way the
unscrupulous and insinuating foreigner works out the home-bred honest
man from London. "If all was known," he said, "aliens would be
restricted;" and Blessed are the meek, I thought, for they shall inherit
the earth--if they only live long enough.

[Illustration: Lord Minto's Landing in India.]



CHAPTER XA


17th.--Everyone on the Apollo Bundar and in Bombay waited for the guns
to announce the arrival of the new Viceroy, and for The Mail; to mothers
and fathers just out, letters from little ones by the mail was perhaps
the more important event. Maharajahs, aide-de-camps, generals, and hosts
of officials were all trying to keep cool, to speed the parting Viceroy,
and welcome his successor with all proper ceremony. To understand and
describe how this was done is beyond my powers, therefore I must content
myself with a note here and there. It struck me as improper that the
cheers which welcomed the new Viceroy had practically to do duty for the
departure of Lord Curzon. They say, "Le roi est mort, vive le Roi," but
in this case, "Le Roi" wasn't dead, but on the contrary must have been
painfully alive to the sounds of cannons booming and cheers ringing to
welcome his successor. I'd have had three or four days decent calm for
the Empire to note the departure of so great an actor in its history.
Then, after silence and fasting; fresh paint and flags for the new
arrival!

Monday afternoon.--Guns fire, and the new Viceroy on the P. & O. steamer
arrives in the bay. As she steams through the fleet, the hot air
resounds with thunder of guns, and smoke accumulates. Now she is passing
the _Renown_ and _Terrible_, and the smoke hangs so thick that the hills
and ships are almost hidden, and you can only see the yellow flashes
through the banks of grey smoke.

As Lord Minto landed at the Bundar, the sun was setting and the lamps
were lit, and a soft breeze offshore floated out the flags against the
glow of the sunset.

18th.--Made a jotting of the departure of Lord Curzon from the Apollo
Bundar. It was a very brilliant affair; any number of white uniforms
sparkling with gold, and ladies in exquisite dresses, and with cameras
with which they shot the departing couple from the stone buttresses.
Lady Curzon was in soft silk and muslin crêpe-de-chine, I think, a
colour between pale green and violet, possibly a little of both. It was
a very pretty dress and with a parasol to match. They went down the
steps and the red carpet to the cheers of people on the pier. This
effective carpet with the white edge has figured a good deal lately in
various ceremonies; the Prince and Princess went up and down it, and
Viceroys and Vicereines, and many Generals and Maharajahs. It ought to
be preserved by the municipality.

I thought I'd condescend just for once to try a photo on this occasion,
as Lord Curzon went down the steps to the tender, and I believe I lost
in consequence, by the fraction of a second, a mental picture that I'd
have treasured for the rest of my days and have possibly reduced to
paint. Just as the whole scene was coming to a point when the least
movement on the part of the principal figures one way or the other would
take away from the effect; when Lord Curzon turned on the landing in the
middle of the steps to say farewell, I had to look down at my pesky
little camera to pull the trigger! So my mind is left blank just where I
know there should be a telling arrangement, just such a moment as that
painted in "The Spears," the Breda picture, where the principal actors
and the others are caught in the very nick of time--the camera will now
rest on the shelf beside a rhyming dictionary and the Encyclopædia
Britannica.

Lord Curzon said a few words to the people near him before going down
the last steps into the launch, and it in the meantime gently and
perseveringly smoked the ticket-holders on the buttress of the pier
opposite us; and we ticket-holders and G. P. on our buttress smiled at
their pained expressions--our time was to come. It stopped smoking, held
its breath as it were, and came slowly under us, and Lady Curzon looked
up from under the awning in the stern with a charming smile, and all our
topees came off or white gloved hands went up in salute to beautiful
white helmets--and our turn came!--the launch gave a snort, and we felt
a pleasant, cool rain from condensed steam, and thought it refreshing as
it fell on our faces. Then we grinned as we looked at our neighbours;
and then realized that we too were black as sweeps, topees, white
helmets, and uniforms all covered with a fine black oily rain. I've a
new topee to charge against one or other of the Viceroys or
Government--General Pretyman hardly looked his name--and during the rest
of the function of the return from the Bundar of Lord Minto and his
retainers, you could tell by his grey speckled side what position in the
preceding function a spectator had occupied. A Parsi, in neat black
frock-coat and Brunswick black hat, and dark face, remarked to me with a
smile, "You see the advantage of a little colour,"--bit of a wag I
thought!

Altogether it was a very A.1. sight the colour Veronesque; the troops,
rajahs, beautiful ladies in exquisite latest dresses, and the variety of
type, European and native, made a splendid subject for a historical
picture.

Then the new Viceroy left the Shamiana on the Bundar after making a
speech, which I was sorry I did not hear, for I was so engaged looking
at things, and longing to have some method of putting down colours
without looking at one's hand, as you can touch notes on a musical
instrument. Can no inventor make something to do this--something to lie
in the palm and bring all colours and divisions of colour ready made to
the finger tips so that you might put them down in a revelry of colour
as unconsciously and freely as the improvisator can use the notes on the
piano to express his feeling.

There is more cheering and more gun firing and carriages dash up to the
front of the Shamiana and its white Eastern arches that have done so
much service this week, and Lord Minto drives off. It is most
interesting seeing the Borderer who is to be Warden of the Indian
Peninsula for the next five years. Lady Minto follows, with her
daughters behind her. They stand in the full light, white pillars on
either side and red light filtering through hangings behind. White
uniformed brown-faced officers follow in attendance with glitter of gold
and waving white and red feathers. Lady Minto wears a very big wide hat,
blue and white ostrich feathers under the brim--her daughters are in
bright summery colours; the three drive off in an open carriage with an
honoured soldier.

Then soldier after soldier in gay uniforms with floating white and
scarlet cock feathers drove off in carriages, dog carts, and motors,
followed by city officials, Port trustees, doctors, lawyers, and smaller
wigs till vanishing point might have been marked, I suppose, by the
official artist did the Empire run to such an extravagance. Then more
carriages glittering in gold came up, and old, and fat, young, and thin,
genial, and haughty Indian princes, covered with gold and jewellery, got
in or were helped in, and footmen in gorgeous clothes and bare feet
jumped up in front and behind, and off they went, the big princes
leading with horsemen and drawn swords behind them. Smaller carriages
followed till you come down to victorias with perhaps just one syce.
Then the Poona Horse, beautifully mounted, in dark blue, red, and gold,
with drawn swords rode past at a very quick trot, now and then breaking
into a canter with a fine jingle and dust that made almost the best part
of the show.

   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .

I can't say I enjoy this damp warm weather here. It feels all right in
the sun out of doors, but indoors after dark and in draughts from
punkahs it is horrid. I'd now give a considerable sum for one whole day
of twenty-four hours clear Arctic or Antarctic sunny air and snow; one
would feel dry then, and lose the cold and fever that sticks to one
here. The Turkish bath is the only place you can get really dry in; at
one hundred and fifty in the hot room you feel more comfortable than
outside at eighty-two. The Turkish bath in the hotel is very nicely
fitted up, but the native masseur wasn't a pleasing experience, his weak
chocolate-coloured hands gave me the sensation of the touch of a
middling strong eel; his lean, lithe figure and the charms round his
neck, and grey hair died brick-red I expect to see again in dreams--a
crease in his teeth and venom in his evil eye.

It is curious that though you do not see any sign of this dampness in
the air either by day or night, whenever the search lights from the war
ships are turned on; you see what appear to be clouds of vapour drifting
across the path of light.

At night we drove to Malabar Hill to the new Viceroy's reception, and it
was all pretty much the same as going to the reception given by their
Royal Highnesses. The air damp, hot, and dusty, and for a long way heavy
with the smell of roasting bodies, and this time inscriptions across the
lamplit road were changed to "God bless our new Viceroy;" but we had the
same waiting outside Government House, met the same people and heard
much the same talk about Lord Curzon's Byculla speech and about this one
and the other. "So and so is looking well isn't he?" "Yes, yes--ha,
ha--laying it on a bit, isn't he! Must be a stone heavier since his
leave--takes his fences though they say like a man. Oh! excellent
speech. They must be tired--poor people--hear they were very pleased
with our decorations. Well, you know they weren't bad, were they?" Of
course the "excellent speech" was Lord Curzon's farewell, and "They"
stands for their Royal Highnesses.

I noticed some Parsi ladies rather better looking than I had already
seen. One was really beautiful, allowing a decimal point off her nose.
This beauty moved briskly and firmly and had eyes to see and be seen.
Many of them have slightly hen-like expressions and wear glasses and
carry their shoulders too high. As they are the only native women who
appear in public they naturally draw your attention. The Hindoos and
Mohammedans shut their women up at home and glower on yours; but the
Parsi goes about with his wife and daughters with him in public, and
therefore enlists your sympathy. These Parsis were driven from Persia in
pre-Mohammedan times by religious persecution. I suppose their belief
was akin to our old religion which the masterful Columba rang out of
Iona. I don't think I have seen any men on apparently such friendly
relations with their women and children. You see them everywhere in
Bombay, often in family groups, their expressions beyond being clever,
perhaps shrewd, are essentially those of gentlemen and gentlewomen.[6]
The only other native women I have seen have their mouths so horribly
red with betel nut and red saliva that you dare not look at them twice,
so perhaps it is as well that their absence is so conspicuous.

[6] The strength of intellectual capacity added to the material wealth
which is possessed by this community have given it abnormal prominence,
the measure of which may be estimated by the fact that out of a total of
287,000,000 inhabitants of India, the Parsis do not number even
one-tenth of a million. _See_ Sir Thomas Holdich's "India."

I need hardly say that Mrs H. and G. were the most beautifully dressed
ladies in the crowd, and made the most perfect curtseys, and H. and I
the most elegant bows to the Viceroy and Vicereine. They stood on a
dais, and as we passed in file we were introduced, and the Viceroy
bobbed and Lady Minto looked and smiled a little, just as if she knew
your name and about you and saw more than men as trees walking, and we
bowed and went on, thinking it nice to see people in so great and
responsible a position attending to the little details so well, not
forgetting that many littles make a mickle, and that those two servants
of the Empire have been standing doing this for half an hour, and will
still have to go on for an hour at least in this very tiring Bombay heat
and crowd, and after a P. & O. voyage and landing! Their total effort
for all the ceremonies of the day before, and years to come, rather
appalled me to think of. Bravo! Public Servants, who work for honour and
the Empire; how will the Socialist fill your places when he is on top.
As before, gorgeously apparelled scarlet turbaned waiters gave us
champagne, and native princes hemmed the tables for it, and chocolates.
Here is a little picture of what I remember--you may suppose some of the
figures represent our party after getting over the bow and into the
straight for the cup. We then wandered about, and admired the uniforms
of the governor's body guard, tall native soldiers standing round about
the passages with huge turbans and beards, blue tunics, white breeches,
and tall black boots, all straight and stiff as their lances, and
barring their roving black eyes, as motionless. From a verandah opposite
the Viceroy, we watched the new comers making their bows; ladies,
soldiers, sailors, civilians, single or married passed, and never were
two bows or curtseys absolutely alike, nor were two walks, but the
Viceroy's bow and Lady Minto's pleasant smile and half look of
recognition were equally cordial to all.

[Illustration: A Reception in Government House, Bombay.]

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.



CHAPTER XI


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 Bædeker-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."

[Illustration]

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.[7]

[7] To each fool agreeable is his folly; and, the bag of the pipes is
made of sheep-skin you see.

[Illustration]

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.

[Illustration]

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!"

[Illustration: Sailing from 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 _tourtmenté_
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.



CHAPTER XII


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[8], 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!

[8] 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
     _£_600,000."

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.[9]
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.

[9] 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.[10]

[10] 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.

[Illustration]

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.

[Illustration]

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.



CHAPTER XIII

DHARWAR


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.

   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .

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.

[Illustration]

... 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.[11] 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."

[11] 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.

   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .

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,[12] 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.

[12] 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.

   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .

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.

   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .

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.

[Illustration: The above painted by Allan Betty Iris and Uncle Gordon.]



CHAPTER XIV

_Copy letter on subject of "Duck."_


[Illustration]

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!

[Illustration]

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.

[Illustration]

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?

[Illustration]

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.

[Illustration]

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!

[Illustration]

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.

[Illustration]

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.

[Illustration]

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.



CHAPTER XV


[Illustration]

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.

[Illustration]

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!

[Illustration]

   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .

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.

   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .

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."[13]

[13] Josephus.



CHAPTER XVI

BANGALORE


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.

[Illustration: An Indian Tank.]

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,[14] 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!

[14] 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.

[Illustration]

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.

[Illustration]

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.



CHAPTER XVII


[Illustration]

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.

   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .

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.

[Illustration]

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.

Now we draw up near a village, and women and children watch our train.
I wish they'd keep some one portion of their limbs and draperies still
an instant to let me see and draw, but they won't. Two women lean
against the wire fence near us, one a tall, small-headed and long-limbed
matron in dullish green sari with gold or yellow round its edges in thin
and broad lines, and a bodice of orange and crimson. Her neighbour leans
and talks, incessantly moving; she is wrapped in vivid crimson, edged
with a broad band of poppy blue. Behind them the village is hazy in half
tone against the light; across the space between, there flits a fairy in
lemon-yellow or orange drapery slightly blown out so that the sun makes
it a transparent blaze of yellow--a dainty Tanagra Figurine come to life
and colour again!

... ARSIKERE.--We have our carriage gently shunted at a siding here, and
stop under a banyan tree, and have our meal in the moonlight--such
moonlight and such a meal! I've heard so much of Indian cooking, of the
everlasting chicken and curries, but out of our two tiny kitchens we get
a dinner worthy of a moderately good French café, fish and beef, and
game, and variety of vegetables.--Indian beef is not half bad in my
humble opinion, and the Vino Tinto is straight from Lisbon, by Goa, the
Portuguese port on this west coast, what better could a man desire?

A hitch in our arrangements occurred here. Our plans were to tie on to a
north-going train at two in the morning, and cut off again at a tank
some miles up the line where the duck-shooting is sublime. But my host
got a wire from the head engineer of the whole line about matters
connected with the royal visit to Mysore, and he must now go down south,
to stamp on the bridges and see that the line is all firm and safe, so
the wanderer from home again realises that there is a Prince in the
land! And we feel loyally resigned, especially as there happens to be
good snipe ground where we are, and we can't return before midday
to-morrow, and so can have a long half-day's shooting before we hitch
on to the south mail train.

[Illustration]

As we sit at table on the side of the track, the village dogs steal into
the moonlight and come gradually nearer us; masterless dogs of any
colour betwixt the collie and fox-terrier. No one feeds them or owns
them, so there's plenty of appetite and unclaimed affection going. One
old lady takes her position beside us for the night, and its poor bony
sides are filled for once, and its brown eyes in the morning look
grateful and eager for more. R. says he thinks the most miserable are
those with fox-terrier blood; and they do not outlive their second
litters. It lay on the sand a little way off the greater part of the
night, the shyer dogs still farther off, scarcely seen in the darkness.
Perhaps these half-breds have inherited thoughts of former better days,
which brings me back to that freckled, sandy-haired Eurasian boy at the
Bundar, with his black eyelashes, and the blue-eyed, curly-haired girl
in the native throng.

[Illustration]

Now we are coming to the snipe, "little by little," our nurse used to
say, "as the lawyers get to Heaven," and I put in notes about them here
from a letter written to my friend W. B., but not yet posted.

     "MY DEAR W. B.,--You ask me about sport, and if I've got near a
     tiger? So far as I am aware I have not been in the immediate
     proximity of a tiger, though I have been in what is, at times, a
     tiger country--about Dharwar, and where I'd very probably have got
     one if I'd taken many men and months and much money to secure it.
     But to-day I've had funnier shooting than I've ever had--fancy
     snipe, my dear man, amongst palm trees! tall cocoa-nut palms, betel
     nuts, and toddy palms, and banana trees--big snipe, and decently
     tame. Fancy them dodging like woodcock at home, from a blaze of sun
     into the deep shadows of subtropical palm groves!

     [Illustration]

     "We trollied to our shooting ground, R. and I and four trolley
     men--such a nice way of getting along--with palms on either side of
     the track, some of them covered with creepers from their very tops
     to the ground in cascades--Niagaras, I mean, of green leaves and
     lilac blossoms; and through this jungle the sun streamed across the
     yellow quartz track and glittered on the lines. Two men at a time
     ran barefooted behind, one on each rail, and shoved the trolley and
     jumped on going down hill. We went at just a nice rate, which gave
     us time to note the birds and flowers along the side of the line.

     [Illustration]

     "About two miles down the line we struck off to the east on foot,
     and crossed rice stubbles with clear rills of water running through
     them, the first clear water we have seen here so far--any we have
     seen has been red or yellow with mud. Then we came to woods of all
     sorts of palms, mostly low growing on white sand, and here and
     there pools and marshes over which the palms stood and were
     reflected and threw sharp shadows across the blue reflection from
     the sky. Fancy shooting common snipe in such a botanical garden!
     The last I shot were with S. in Ayrshire in cold, and wind and wet
     and a grey light on high moorland, about the 1st of last October.

     [Illustration]

     "We spread out, R. and I and his merry men, and waded; his butler
     and cook apparently as keen about shikar as cooking, and promptly
     three snipe got up, jolly slow flyers, in front of me, and I let
     off and hit one of the palm tree trunks and the snipe disappeared
     in the gloom of their shade. I saw R. on my right out in the full
     blaze of the sun get one of the three, then wisp after wisp got up
     and we began to bag them and to fear our cartridges would run out.
     But imagine the difficulty of hitting even those slow waterfowl
     with an eagle or vulture or a group of them, huge fellows, looking
     at you from fifteen to twenty yards off from the top of a low palm,
     or a kingfisher of vivid cerulean quivering in front of your nose,
     so fixed in its poise and so dazzling in colour that you saw a pink
     spot for minutes after, and so got in to your waist. And there were
     many kinds of doves and pigeons, which almost fanned our faces as
     they swooped past, and hanging weaver birds' nests, that I tried
     not to look at, and a roller bird I'd defy anyone not to look
     at--the size of a jay, irridescent pale blue and green all over,
     with just a touch of brown to set off the blues. I'd fain have shot
     one but for the bother of skinning and curing. You can imagine how
     distracting at first was this free run in a natural aviary and
     botanical garden combined, and how difficult to concentrate on the
     'commoner' garden snipe.

     [Illustration]

     "Very soon each of the men had a bundle of snipe and we had to
     return; but we had not many cartridges left, which consoled us. We
     went back pretty wet all over, for it was piping hot and airless
     under the palms, but on the fields outside the air was delicious
     and dry. We crossed the line to a beautiful lake with level grassy
     banks and found it alive with thousands of duck. They were very
     wary though, and kept far out of range and wouldn't rise. We had
     not time for rafting or boating, so got on to the trolly again, and
     back to our home on the siding; and some snipe were plucked before
     I'd found my pencil. You should see how neat these servants are
     with their fingers. Here is a jotting of the operation--I think
     I've got the movement of their rather weak-looking hands. They are
     sitting on the track beside the kitchen part of the carriage.

     "I wish very much both R. and I could spare a little more time for
     this pastime, "but one canna dae a' thing," as they say at St.
     Abbs, and R. has to attend to Royal preparations south--thus has
     the honour and glory of serving his country and his King--I am
     trying to see where my Ego scores, but don't--I miss a half-day's
     shooting. But the little we had, was astonishingly interesting
     though it wasn't very long. Now we have a day and a night home
     again--a hundred miles to a snipe shoot, my longest journey in
     proportion to the size of the shoot; but no distance at all
     compared with its novelty and interest.

     ... Drew most of the way home, cows, aloes, trees, women's figures,
     men's ditto, dogs, goats, palms, etc., etc. It passes the time and
     does no harm that I wot of.

        All pleasures but the Artist's bring
        "I' th' tail repentance like a sting."

     "Home to Bangalore and the rehearsal of our adventures to our
     better halves, and talk--well into the night, which means here
     about 11.30! Then to bed at once, for R. has to start early with
     his Chief in the morning, he is coming from the Central Office at
     Dharwar; to test bridges and things in Mysore, to see they are
     strong enough, for they say there are twenty English valets coming
     in the Royal train!"

It rained heavily all night, and this morning the sky was overcast, and
already we, who have been in India only a few weeks, feel almost vexed
that it is not sunny. In the morning we went to the Residency to call--a
strange hour to call at, one of the things in India nobody can
understand--as reasonable as top hats and frock coats in Calcutta. It is
a very fine Embassy indeed--palace, perhaps, you might almost call it,
with a nice air of official dignity that comes from the Lion and the
Unicorn in the front of the house above the entrance, and the little
khaki clad native soldiers, mounted orderlies, and Red Chuprassis in
groups about the grounds.

Mrs Fraser, wife of the Resident, was at home, and wore a very pretty
dress of soft grey and black muslin(?) with touches of dull rose
bows--but how can you describe a dress of the present period, they are
such subtle things; a Romney or a Reynolds dress would be easy
enough--something white hitched up here or there would be near enough,
but nowadays the colours of various materials tell through each other so
delicately and the shapes suggest faintly so many periods that I
question if it is in the power of words to describe a modern frock.

Our hostess, I gathered, is deeply engrossed in making the bundabast[15]
for the entertainment of the Prince and his retainers--If twenty valets
require so many napkins, for so many days, how many cups and saucers
will be needed for a Royal Procession for a week, and so on?

[15] I think the context explains the meaning of Bundabast--an
invaluable word. I take it, it is used correctly as above. You can make
"bundabast" for a campaign, I believe, or for a picnic; _i.e._, order
the carriages, food, and things, and the right people, and generally
take all responsibilities therefor.

15th. Dec.--This ought to be a date to remember in our lives. My neice
and I went to jail to-day, both for the first time, and I am not anxious
to go again. It is immediately across the road from Locksley Hall. We
passed through a double archway, guarded inside by native soldiers.
Facing us as we entered, the walls were decorated with trophies of
chains and fetters, which the man in the street might see as he passed.

The Governor very kindly went round with us, and we saw a distinctly
stronger type of man than those outside; here and there a trifle too
much cheek bone and queer eyes, mostly murderers, many with faces one
would pick for choice as manly men. Famine times account for some of the
murders, and overstocking I should say; it's done everywhere, in trout
ponds, deer forests, and sheep runs. India, I expect, is over preserved;
a bad season comes, and famine, and one starving fellow chips in with
another, and knocks a third party on the head because he has a meal on
him, and the first parties' children are crying for food--and by the
prophets, we'd each try to do the same under similar circumstances, and
the result would be the survival of the fittest. Government now catches
the would-be "fittest" and sets him hanging to a piece of rope, or makes
him wear beautiful bright chains and weave beautiful carpets, as they do
here, in all the colours of Joseph's coat, in silk or cotton; with
everything he wants except liberty and the sun on the road outside--and
the children and wife. The carpets are exquisitely made in hand-looms.
The men sit in a sort of rifle pit and weave on an upright hand-loom,
and the patterns on great carpets or the finest of silk rugs grow out of
their wicked brains only; there's no pattern in front of them to copy
from; they do it by heart. You know a "Lifer" from a "Timer" by the
colour of their skull caps; one is white, the other brown--I think the
brown is the "Lifer." All is beautifully kept, and the men look at you
when ordered to do so, also when they are not ordered and your back is
turned. They give their names too when ordered, and crimes, and terms of
imprisonment, so gently. Oh! how I'd love to kick the blessed wall all
down and let the lot out! then I'd have to sit up all night, I suppose,
with a gun, looking after our silver-plated spoons.

The principal individual who caused most trouble in the prison was a
"Lifer," I think, a most remarkably long, thin man, actually eel-like.
He had escaped three times. The last hole he escaped by he made with a
nail, and it had just been bricked up and plastered over. He was not
allowed to work, merely stood bolt upright, a head and shoulder higher
than his two, armed jailers, who were chained to him. He was motionless
as a statue, but I never saw such unrest as there was in his eyes; there
was the look of the eye of a bird in the hand, one simple concentrated
expression of watchfulness for a chance to escape. He is a bit of a wag,
I am told. Once when he escaped he borrowed a carriage and livery and
engaged himself to the services of a lady in Bangalore, and actually
drove the lady to prison to call on the Governor. But when he gathered
the Governor was coming to return the call, he thought it time to go; I
don't know how he was captured again, and I wonder very much if he will
escape once more. His four companions who stood beside him in the blaze
of joyous sun were just going to be released in half an hour from all
their joys and troubles. Two of them looked very murderous specimens,
two looked good, I don't know why, but one felt curiously shy about
looking at them. One or two of the murderers' faces wore a quiet
half-smiling expression, barely human, and that seemed to me to spell
"killing" quite distinctly and without any evil intent, like the
expression on a Greek head I have only once seen, a youthful
combatant--a cheery unintrospective look, a tough round neck, raised
chin, oblique eyes, and the least smile on lips just parted. One young
woman had that kind of face too; the rest were just as good in
expression as outsiders. They were employed grinding millets in hand
quirns, hard work, I'd think; the top stone they turn round, weighs two
stone and they put it round fairly quickly. I'd so much have liked to
have drawn this particular woman's face. I think it is the only
handsomely shaped face I've seen in India so far, and yet that queer
inhuman look ought to have prevented a child closing its eyes near her.
She had killed a child for its bangle and dropped it into a well, and in
prison nearly killed another for another bangle. She was fourteen and
had a look of complete ignorance of good or evil. This good-looking girl
they tell me is to go into a nunnery--by my Hostie! I'd like to hear the
end of the story.

We came back from the jail and found a tableau arranged on our verandah.
It was well done, whether by accident or design. The two principal
actors sat in the middle of the verandah with neat bundles arranged
round them, and behind them sat their two slaves or henchmen in garments
of complimentary tints. The Memsahibs came and were salaamed, and sat in
front of the traders. Then the bundles were opened and blossomed into
colours and fabrics. Within ten minutes the verandah was covered with
silks of every hue, gorgeous colours and the delicate colours of
moonlight, so that the matting was completely covered with a veritable
riot of colours and textures--a much more wonderful effect than any
tricks with baskets or mangoes grown under sheets. I tried to put this
down in colour, and here is a pen and ink jotting of the subject.

[Illustration]

Sunday.--Walked round the outside of the prison grounds amongst little
patches of highly-cultivated market gardens and clumps of palms, and
these long pumps like the ancient catapult with bronze men sweating at
them pulling down the long arm of the balanced yard to let the bucket
down the well, then tipping the water out into gutters of mud to
irrigate. They do it pretty much the same way up the Nile. The cottages
have low mud walls, and are thatched with dried palm leaves and scraps
of corrugated iron, and the naked children, with their coal-black mops
of hair, play about in the dust with the hens, and seem to have a good
time. They are chubby and jolly, and don't quarrel so much, or speak so
harshly as school board children in our Bonnie Lowlands. Here and there
are quaint little temples, stone built, under the palms between the
patches of cultivated ground. There are prickly pears, and hedges of
different thorny creepers with flowers of pink, cinnamon, deep orange,
and violet. I pass a group of goats feeding on one of these hedges,
black, white, and brown--a pleasant motley of moving colour. The piece
of hedge near me has pink flowers, and behind it you see a little
lapis-lazuli sky. The black goat's coat is almost blue with reflected
sky. Near me a boy stands in the shadow of a tree herding a cow. The
leaves throw deep shadows on the rusty red path and a tracery of leaf
shadows, on the cow's back and sides--deeper in colour than the velvety
black of the hide itself.

[Illustration]

[Illustration: A Street Corner, Bangalore]

   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .

In the evening my hostess drives me to another part of the bazaar, and
we scribble, and try hard to remember a street corner and prevent other
scenes obliterating our impressions and come straight home to get it
down.

The lamplight conflict with daylight is to me as interesting here as at
home. The best minutes in the day, I think, for colour, are when the
shadows from figures passing the lamps just become visible, when they
still hold the blue of day in them, and so contrast pleasantly with the
yellow lights of oil and electric lamps.

Outside many of the booths chandeliers of cut crystal are hung, and
give, what I consider, a charming effect.

In the evening there was a dinner party at the Residency, to which Mrs
Fraser very kindly invited us, and there was pleasant talk about Burmah
and princely pageants, elephant kedar camps, and the right royal
entertainments to be held at Mysore; and of how the twenty valets and
the hundreds of guests are to be provided for; to quote the Tales of
the Highlands, "there will be music in the place of hearing, meat in the
place of eating, smooth drinks and rough drinks, and drinks for the
laying down of slumber, mirth raised and lament laid down, and a right
joyful hearty plying of the feast and Royal Company"--but how it is all
to be done is past my comprehension! Noah, the Raven said, did them
really well in the Ark; but a Royal Retinue must be much more difficult
to provide for, must need a bigger "bunda-bust"--I believe I've used
this word rightly again!

[Illustration]

The Maharajah of Mysore came after dinner. He was dressed in a pale
turquoise silk coat, with dark blue and white and gold turban with
diamond aigrette, and white trousers, patent leather shoes, and a long
necklace of very large diamonds. He is twenty-one and good-looking, with
pleasant expression and a quiet possessed manner. I am almost glad I did
not know that he is building such a wonderful palace, or I would have
felt oppressed. This palace at Mysore is to be the finest in the world,
so people here say, but of it anon. We spoke of music; he plays a great
number of instruments (I think thirteen). I asked which music he liked
best, Eastern or Western, and he replied, "When I hear Western music, I
think surely nothing could be better. Then when I hear our own Eastern
music, again I think nothing could be better." He understands the
various kinds of our Highland music, and argued that if you understand
the folk music of one race you can understand that of others. To me it
seems a loss to music that these early forms of various races are not
more often studied by modern musicians. Writers and painters set an
example in this way; painters and sculptors especially, for they study
the art of all times and peoples, ancient Greek, Egyptian, Japanese,
etc., but what does the ordinary musician know of these ancient Greek,
Egyptian, or Celtic tunes that are fast being forgotten, or of Japanese,
Indian, or Burmese intricacies? Sir Arthur Sullivan did study Burmese
music, but was not that quite exceptional? Writers too, generally have a
smattering of some dead languages, and even advocate the study to-day,
of Sanskrit, and Gaelic.

[Illustration]



CHAPTER XVIII


[Illustration]

    Before the phantom of false morning died,
    Our boy outside the carriage cried,
    When all the breakfast is prepared without,
    Why nods the drowsy Sahib still inside?

    and

    Wake for the sun has scattered into flight
    The stars before it from the field of night;
    Drives night along with it, and strikes
    The Rajah's palace with a shaft of light--

as above, but possibly it is just a Government building, a post office,
perhaps! Our two carriages are in a siding at this Mysore station, and
the servants are outside with breakfast. The robes of the natives coming
towards the station in the twilight under said shaft of light are
greenish in contrast; they are wrapped up in their white mantles to keep
off what they appear to think dangerous morning air. Only a few of them
are astir, and the dew runs steadily from the roof of our carriage and
makes a hole in the sandy track, and an early crow is round for anything
that may be going. The cook comes past with a comforting glow from
charcoal in a frying pan, so we know our _chota hazri_ will be before
us in no time, after which we intend to trolly back on the line to
Seringapatam.

We came here yesterday afternoon from Bangalore, R. and D. with their
carriage, and self and G. in one the Railway Co. let us have--for a
consideration! A very good plan this--you pay for three fares and have
your carriage overnight, so at places where there are no hotels you are
more comfortable than if there were!

Coming here from Bangalore to Mysore, the line is interesting all the
way, the scenes change constantly--I have very distinct recollections of
at first "garden scenery," then jungle and bushy woods running into
rocky gorges, barren sand wastes and rich rolling corn lands alternating
in the few hours run, yet in my journal I have not a line of pen or
scrape of pencil of these scenes; I daresay the reader has noticed this,
that scenes taken unconsciously on the tablets of memory--unconscious
impressions--are more lasting than those taken down consciously and
deliberately.

Mysore town is a place of wide roads and trees, fields intended to be
parks some day, and light and air. Many houses of European origin,
somewhat suggestive of Italian or Spanish villas, are shuttered and
closed in, so as to give a sense of their being deserted. You drive past
these silent houses and their gardens and come to the native town, which
is anything but silent or deserted, and then to the new palace; the
modern sight of southern India. It is brimming with life; it looks like
a Gothic cathedral in course of construction. Two towers, each at a
guess, 150 feet high, with a wing between them, bristle with bamboo
scaffolding so warped and twisted out of the perpendicular that the
uprights are like old fishing rods. The extraordinary intricacy is quite
fascinating, but at present it partially prevents one seeing the general
proportions and effect of the building. As we see it, in the afternoon,
the great mass of building is grey against the western light; thousands
of men, women, boys, and children are scattered over its face on these
fragile perches, and though not in sunlight, their many-coloured
draperies reflect on the variously coloured stones at which they are
carving. Around us, on the ground, are other thousands doing similar
work, hewing, sawing, and carving marbles and granite--such intricate
carving--in reddish and grey-green granite. As to the general
architectural effect it would be unwise to venture an opinion at
present; but the details are simply marvellous. I believe it is intended
to be the finest palace in the world, and if a great many exquisite
fancies put together, will form one great conception, then certainly
this expression in architecture must be a magnificent work of art. The
people to-day and the generations to come must owe this Prince great
gratitude for the encouragement of so many skilled craftsmen, and for
the preservation of Indian arts and crafts. There were four hundred
fine-wood carvers, and four hundred fine-stone carvers, carving filigree
ornaments, chains, and foliage of the most astonishing realism in these
materials. Fancy, actual chains in granite, pendants from elephants'
heads! Most of the skilled masons and joiners of India, I am told, have
been collected here. The masons must be in thousands; they are
wonderfully skilled in work at granite, their very lightness of hand
seems to let them feel just the weight of iron needed to flake off the
right amount from the granite blocks. A very much extended description
of the Temple of Solomon might give to one who had time to read an idea
of the richness of the materials employed, and the variety of the
subjects of the decorations. There is marble--work and wood--work,
silver doors, ivory doors, and rooms, halls, and passages of these
materials, all carved with Indian minuteness and delicacy, with telling
scenes from the stories of Hindoo deities; and in the middle of these
Eastern marvels are alas! cast-iron pillars from Glasgow. They form a
central group from base to top of the great tower; between them at each
flat they are encircled with cast-iron perforated balconies. They are
made to imitate Hindoo pillars with all their taperings and swellings,
and are painted vermilion and curry-colour. Opening on to these
cast-iron balconies are the silver and ivory rooms and floors of
exquisite marble inlay.

We saw inside on many floors, modellers with their clay, modelling
groups for the stone-carvers, in high or low relief, with utmost
rapidity, freedom, finish, and appreciation of light and shade. The
different methods of craftsmen in different countries is always
interesting. Here the modeller works on the floor seated on his heels;
he runs up acanthus leaves, geometric designs, or groups of figures and
animals with a rapidity that would give our niggling Academy teachers at
home considerable food for thought--and yet the work is fine, and the
figures are full of expression. The area of a workman's studio you might
cover with a napkin, or say, a small table-cloth. The carver takes the
model and whacks it out in _granite_ without any pointing or other help
than his hand and eye and a pointed iron chisel and hammer, and he loses
very little indeed of the character of the model, in fact, as little as
some well paid Italian workers.

The wood-carving, as far as technical skill in cutting goes, was out and
away beyond anything we could almost dream of at home, and all at 1s.
4d. a day, which is good pay here. One man cut with consummate skill
geometrical ornaments on lintels to be supported by architraves covered
with woodland scenes, with elephants foreshortened and ivory tusks
looking out from amongst tree-trunks, and most naturalistic monkeys,
peacocks, fruit, and foliage. All this we saw rapidly dug out in the
hard brown teak with delightful vigour, spontaneity, and finish. One
might fear that a geometrically carved lintel would not be quite in
keeping with a florid jamb, but why carp, we should look at the best
side of things. I think these same craftsmen working to the design of
one artist, or artist and architect in one, might make a record. The
ability to carry out the design is here, and at such a price! But where
is the thought, the conception for a Parthenon--a nation must first
worship beauty before it can produce it.

I think the native town and streets here as good as can be for painting
pictures; a man would have to come young and get up early to do the
subjects you see in an hour or two. Here there is more style, wider
surfaces, and character in the native houses than in Bombay.

   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .

We went to Seringapatam yesterday on trollies, nine miles back on the
line by which we came from Bangalore to Mysore city. We had two
trollies, R. and G. in front with workmen examining the line as we went,
an extremely pleasant mode of procedure, with a certain dignity about it
that is absent in a railway carriage. We sit in front on comfortable
seats, a red flag on a bamboo overhead, a fat stationmaster and two
natives behind, and two on the rails to shove, the shadow of the whole
show running along beside us outlined on the ballast and sunny cactus
hedge.

[Illustration]

The first miles were over somewhat sandy, gravelly ground, then through
groves of palms, and mostly down hill. At this comfortable rate we had
time to look at the field workers in the rice crops, the palms with
their skirts of creepers, and flowering thornbrakes, and the "bits" of
the yellow corn and hedges and flat fields, that one might have seen on
any summer's day in England. The reapers were in groups and lines in the
greenish corn, the men bronze and bare to the waistcloths, the women in
many-coloured draperies, Ruths and reapers and Boazes by the dozen, with
the women's bangles gleaming, and the men's sickles glittering in the
cheerful sunlight.

Seringapatam is on an island three miles long, in the Cauvery River;
outside it we were met by a victoria and drove about the island. It is a
pleasant place to spend a day; the marks of our forefathers' gunnery on
the walls gives quite a homely feeling. You see where they camped and
the river they looked at--a gentle-running, sapphire stream with
yellow-grey stones showing across it, not much more than a hundred yards
across when we saw it--and the big double masonry wall beyond it which
they battered and scaled. Barring the trees and bushes that have grown
on the walls, the battering looks as if it had only been done yesterday.
We spent the morning going over the walls, without a guide or
guide-book, trying to pick up the hang of the situation from what we had
heard and read of the siege. There is pleasant park-land inside the
walls, with beautiful tall trees, but the view that fascinates is from
the walls across the river towards the points where the British guns
were fired from, and from which the assault was made. Later in the day
the stationmaster, Bubbaraya Moodeliar, gave us a copy of a guide he has
written, such an excellent, concise description of the place and its
history. It was pleasant to find so many of our countrymen's names on
the first pages, and at the risk of being tedious, my friends, they are
here; the names as they occur in this "Short History of the Siege and
Assault," by an Indian native--Wellesley, Kelly, Sir David Baird,
Captain Prescott, Lt. C. Dunlop, Baillie, Bell, Lt.-Colonel Gardiner,
Dalrymple, General Stuart, Wallace, Sherbrooke, Douse, Hart, Lalor--all
well-known Scottish and Irish names, except two or perhaps three that
may be English, but the Native puts them all, down as "English!" So does
the editor of Murray's "Guide to India"--describes those who fought
under Duff, Grant, and Ford as an "English Force." So foolish writers
are filching our good name by ignoring the Terms of Union, and
deliberately or unconsciously are working up another scrap on the banks
of the Bannock--well, so be it, the times are a little dull; and we need
a little national stiffening north of Tweed.

The Water-gate, where Tippoo Sultan got his _coup de grace_ in the
general flight of his people, is just the quiet and peaceful place in
which to doze and dream for a summer day on the green sward under the
park-like trees. The Gate is an arched passage through thick walls
leading to a walled-in space with trees hanging over it; through a
tumbled down bit of this wall you come on to the river. It was
delightful there, no one about, excepting two or three women washing
clothes on the stones in the clear running water, with the sunshine and
flickering shadows from the trees falling over them. But it must have
been bustling enough on the 4th of May, 1799, when Tippoo tried to pass,
with Baird's troops behind! What would one not give to have seen that
last tableau: the British soldier in the crowd of natives going for the
wounded Sultan's jewelled sword belt, the jam and press, and the heat
and danger! The Sultan objected and wounded the soldier, so the soldier
put a bullet through the Sultan's head--and what became of our northern
robber, and the belt? What heaps of jewels Tippoo had collected; he used
to spend days in his treasure-house inventorying his stores of diamonds
and pearls, and to-day you may see some of the strings of pearls if you
dine out in Edinburgh. After the assault, during the night, a soldier
found his way into the treasury, and by morning a handful of diamonds
was the price offered and asked for a bottle of Arrack. These
international looting scenes seem to me peculiarly fascinating; I think
a little prize-money won that way must feel worth fortunes earned in
business. How our soldier of to-day swears at being deprived of such
perquisites, and how he wishes he had been "in the civil" at Mandalay or
Pekin.

We drove through the native town and bazaar. It seemed half empty; a
native villa there might be had for one line of an old song. The Plague
had been knocking at many doors a little while ago, and now they swing
loosely on the hinges and the roofs are fallen in, or have been pulled
down rather, by the sahibs, to let the sun in and the evil plague spirit
out.

We came to the high mosque, Allah Musjid one of the most beautiful
buildings I have ever seen; its proportions are so big and simple. It
was the favourite place of worship of Hyder Ali Khan and his son,
Tippoo. You go up to it through porticoes, and up a rough white stair,
with innumerable swallows in nests of feathers protruding from a level
line of holes in, the hot, sun-lit wall just above your head on the
right hand; and past little rest rooms for worshippers on the left, of
plain whitewashed stone, and earth floors, all in shadow. Up the steps
you come on a paved court with a balcony of white stone, and in front
there is the moorish arcade of the mosque, and at either end a very high
minaret, built possibly of stone white-washed, but much like weathered
marble. The design is big and simple, finer in conception than anything
we have seen so far. You have to lean your head very far back to follow
up the minarets with your eyes to the top; each is octagonal and tapers
slightly to two balconies. Pigeon-holes follow the slightly sloping
sides in a spiral direction, and under each hole there is a little
carved ledge, and on these and hovering near are many pigeons. There is
colour--marble-white, weathered to yellow, dazzling in the sun and cool
violet in shade, blue rock pigeons everywhere, and at the very top of
each spire a golden ball burns against the unfathomable blue.

The hot air is slightly scented with incense and sandalwood, and there
is a musical droning from a few worshippers who repeat verses from the
Koran in the cool white interior mingled with the cooing of innumerable
pigeons, and the faint "kiree, kiree" of a kite a mile above, in the
blue zenith.

We may not enter the mosque with boots on, and will not enter with them
off, so we admire from the outside the half Indian, half Saracenic
plaster-work in the interior of the arcade--the stalactite domes,
diapers, groins, modellings _in situ_, and wish the authority on plaster
work, Mr William Millar, was here to enjoy the skill and beauty of the
work.

Next show--the summer palace of Tippoo Sultan. If you have been at
Granada you can picture this as rather a thin Hindoo edition of
Generalife Villa. It is moresque in style, but small in structural
forms, smaller still in geometrical ornament, and without breadth or
much harmony of colour schemes. Some small rooms were passable in gold
and silver and primary colours, but the principal halls and galleries
were extremely crude. To be seen properly there should be people in
proportion, little Hindoo beauties sitting primly at the balconies that
open on to the inner court, and playing beside the long formal tanks
that extend far amongst shrubs and trees of the surrounding gardens.
There are mural paintings on the verandah walls, which are spoken of as
attractions and things to be seen; they are slightly funny. They
represent the defeat of our troops by Hyder Ali and the French, but they
are of no great count, except as records of costume. But enough about
this place: our interest lay in the battered walls and the cells behind
them where our Highland and Lowland soldiers were imprisoned so long.

We passed the Water-gate on our way back, then under a grove of
cocoa-nut palms, with many cocoa-nuts and monkeys in their tops; and we
threw stones up, but never a cocoa-nut did the monkeys throw back at us!
So we bought some at a price, a very small price indeed, and I for one
enjoyed seeing them in their green fresh state; when we got home to our
railway carriages, that had come on for us from Mysore to Seringapatam,
we had their tops slashed off with an axe: then put a long tumbler,
mouth down over the hole and upset the two, and so got the tumbler
filled with the water from the inside and drank it. We'd have drunk
anything we were so thirsty: so I will not offer an opinion as to its
quality, more than that it was distinctly refreshing. The shells and
husks were then split open, and we scraped the creamy white off the
inside of the soft shell with a piece of the rough green husk and ate it
and made believe it was delicious!

[Illustration]

As the sun is setting we cross the Cauvery River again, leaving
Seringapatam because it is said to be so malarial that it is unwise to
spend the night there.... The river is golden, the rocks violet, and the
sky above purple and vermilion; herons' scraik and duck are on the move,
almost invisible against the dark palms and bushes and shadowy banks--I
am not superstitious, but I think there were ghosts about, sturdy
fellows in old-fashioned uniforms; I should like to have held converse
with them.


MYSORE.--We got back to Mysore after dark.

Our two homes are gently shoved into a siding, and before you can say
knife, our servants are spreading the table beside the carriage on the
sand by lamplight; there are flowers on the table, silver, linen, and
brass fingerbowls for four--the dinner prepared between Seringapatam and
here _en route_! R. having made final arrangements with his people for a
long hot day's work to-morrow, we fall to; needless to say we do not get
into regulation evening kit, but the regulation warm bath before dinner
was there all in order, even in such limited space!

We left all windows open on the road here, so to-night hope we have got
rid of all the malarial infecting mosquitoes of Seringapatam--those here
are bad enough.

[Illustration]

... Work done, one sketch as above--catalogue misleader, "Dinner on the
Line;" or would a "Meal on the Track" be less descriptive?--Mind
stuffed with those "erroneous, hazy, distorted first impressions,"
which, according to, and with the approval of Mr Aberich Mackay, the
"Anglo-Indian" hastens to throw away; and which I, not being in the
least Anglo-anything, wish most sincerely I could keep!



CHAPTER XIX

TO ARTISTS


[Illustration]

Channapatna.--This is the third station south of Bangalore. It is just
the place for an artist to come to to paint, and a mere step from
Bombay. There's a Dak bungalow where he could put up, a charming place
in a compound, with a servant in attendance. He'd just have to pack his
sticks, take a second or third-class ticket on say the Massagerie--for
an artist to be honest must be frugal--pick up a _Boy_ in Bombay at
twenty to thirty rupees a month, and once out here there's little to
spend money on but the bare cost of living.

Almost no one comes this way to stop, so he could probably have the
bungalow almost as long as he liked, personally I'd have a tent so as
to be absolutely independent. Then for subjects, there's a wealth within
arm's reach; village bazaar pictures every ten yards, and round about
cattle and ruins, temples, moresque and Hindoo, palms and jungle trees,
graceful figures of women and men. Not particularly nice people, I
should say, but certainly picturesque and polite, with some lovely
children. The little ones are nude, prettily shaped and brown and dusty
as the bloom on fruit, and with such black eyes and wavy hair, the
blackest black, with a polish, and very long eyelashes over dark eyes.
Their faces seem refined and well shaped till they laugh or shout, when
the lizard throat and regular monkey teeth show a little.

From daybreak, after _chota hazri_, the brother-of-the-brush would paint
till eleven, then have breakfast proper, a read and loaf--possibly a
little closing of the eyes to sleep would be more profitable--and paint
again in the afternoon and evening. And if he didn't use all his stock
of paints, water-colour, and oils before he left I'd be surprised. A
great attraction would be the absence of distractions such as you'd have
in larger centres, and very important, is the pleasant air here.

Arsikerry, a little further north the line, is better in this last
respect, but I was not through the bazaar there, merely saw the place
was fairly good for snipe, as previously remarked in these notes.

We put in here--Channapatna--yesterday afternoon. The sun was glowing on
the rain-trees that shelter the station, and we selected a spot shaded
by their foliage on a siding midst "beechen green and shadows
numberless." In a minute the servants were out on the sand track blowing
up the fire for tea, which R. had well-earned, as he'd been trollying
since daybreak looking at bridges, viaducts, station-buildings, and the
line, generally and practically, down to the stationmasters' gardens.
Tiring work both for eyes and mind, for whilst trollying you are quite
unsheltered, so the heat in the cuttings, and the glare from the quartz
and lines, has to be felt and seen to be believed, and of course the
track is the thing that has to be constantly regarded, so blue
spectacles are absolutely necessary, but only a partial protection to
the eyesight. No wonder R. takes such care to plant trees round
stations and to encourage the stationmasters to grow flowers! Apropos,
there were once prizes given to stationmasters with the best gardens.
Water being a consideration, the prize was allotted to the best garden
in _inverse ratio_ to its distance from a water supply. The
stationmaster who got first prize was five miles from a supply, and his
exhibit was one, almost dead flower, in a pot of dried earth; so that
"system" was shelved.

We walked round the village after tea and came to the above conclusions,
that may possibly be useful to some brother artist. About the passage
out, just one word more; I met a colonel here who had tried third-class
home on a Massagerie boat, and said it wasn't half bad! He was fortunate
in finding an uncrowded cabin.

Outside the little town were charming country scenes, and the village
streets, busy on either side with all sorts of trades, were positively
fascinating. In Bombay you have all the trades of one kind together, the
brass-workers in one street, and another trade occupies the whole of the
next street, and the houses are tall. Here are all sorts of trades side
by side, and two-storied and one-storied houses, with the palms leaning
over them. We bought for a penny or two an armful of curious grey-black
pottery with a silver sheen on its coarse surface. The designs were
classic and familiar; the cruisie, for instance, I saw in use the other
day in Kintyre, shining on a string of fresh herring, and you see it in
museums amongst Greek and Assyrian remains. At one booth were people
engaged making garlands of flowers, petals of roses, and marigolds sewn
together, and heavy with added perfume; at the next were a hundred and
one kinds of grain in tiny bowls, and at a third vegetables, beans, and
fruit.

As we come back to our carriages we pass a rest house or temple, I don't
know which, perhaps both; steps lead up to it, and it is made of square
hewn-stone, all dull-white against an orange sky. It forms as it were a
triptych. As we pass we look into its shadowy porch; in the middle
panel are two oxen, one black the other white, lying down, and a man
standing beyond them, just distinguishable by a little fire-light that
comes from the left panel. In it, there is a man sitting with his arms
over his knees fanning a little fire. In the right panel another native
sits on his heels cooking a meal; a bamboo slopes across the cell behind
him, and supports a poor ragged cloth, a purda, I suppose, and behind,
are just discernible his wife and child. These wayfarers make me at once
think of a new and original treatment for a holy family, but hold! These
passages of light and colour, form fading into nothingness, are they not
worth understanding alone, are they not more pure art without being
nailed to some tale from the past?

[Illustration]

Our table looked very pretty in the evening, with our lamp lighting up
my companions' faces, and the branches of the trees above us, with warm
brown against the night blue sky.

... Now we are off again to Bangalore, loath to leave our leafy siding
and the gentle faces at Channapatna, but R. has to be about business in
the south again, so we go back planning our next move, and we think we
will decide on Madras! We have been a long way and a long time from the
sea, and would like to get a glimpse of it again; the thought of it is
refreshing, even though it is but a tepid eastern sea which we will have
to cross if we decide on going to Burmah or the Straits.

   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .

BANGALORE, 20th December.--Back to "Locksley Hall" and big rooms,
chairs, verandahs, everything feeling spacious and ample after our
quarters in the train. The three days on the line feels like weeks, so
much and so constantly have we been looking at interesting figures and
scenes.

To-night, when cheroots were going, we talked of railway matters, big
things and little things. A little thing was a dispute amongst natives
on the line, settled satisfactorily the other day. Persons involved;
gatekeepers, police, native carters and witnesses galore. The
gatekeeper, long resident in a hut of railway sleepers roofed with red
soil, surrounded by aloes, heated by the sun, and watered by nothing.
Behold his portrait in day dress; at night he envelopes his noble form
in ample, even voluminous draperies.

[Illustration]

One night, he said, two carters lifted his level-crossing gates and took
them away. Mysore State police investigate.--Report to R.; no witnesses
could be got to bear out gatekeeper's statement, and suggest gatekeeper
had been demanding toll, _i.e._ blackmail, to put into his own pocket!

_R_. asks _G.-K._!--"Why didn't you stop them taking the gates?" _G.-K._
replies, "We did!"

_R._--"Who was 'we'?"

_G.-K._--"Me and my friends and my cousins and my aunts; certainly we
stopped them--and we drubbed them too, and took them to the police
station!"

British justice makes further inquiry--finds possibly sixty rupees were
expended somewhere, to produce the "No witnesses." Action
taken--gatekeeper removed to more important trust--honesty established.

From strength of girders, cement _v_. lime, foundations of piers and
curves of lines, we come to ghosts at night! These too, the engineer has
to consider in his day's work. Only yesterday a ghost was reported on
the line! And R. told me he came down the line in a trolley in the grey
of morning lately, he vouched for this, and found on the line a
patroller's lamp and no one holding it, then a turban, then top cloth,
then a waist cloth, and finally the owner at station, collapsed,
palpitating. R. asked him what he had seen. "It was a ghost" came after
him. "What was it like," said R.; "had it arms?" "No;" "Legs?" "No."
"How did it get along?" He couldn't tell. It was _a shape_ came after
him. So these ghosts are positive facts here to be dealt with by
superintendents and workman between them.

_R._--Spoke as follows:--

"Now, my man, what I have to tell you about ghosts is this--you must
remember, it is very important. These ghosts you see here that frighten
you and your friends, as they have frightened you this morning, cannot
so much as touch you, or even be seen by you at all _if you walk between
the railway lines_! The _iron_ on each side of you prevents their having
the least influence over you; I will not say this about tigers or bears,
but ghosts--on the word of the Sahib, they cannot touch you between the
rails!" So they go away and believe in the Sahib's magic, just as they
believe his magic turns out the cholera devil when he pulls their tiles
down and disinfects their houses. Also they stick between the lines and
consequently to their patrol work, and don't go smoking pipes by little
cosy fires beside the aloes. I think R.'s prescription was fairly
shrewd. Many men would merely have laughed at the men's fears, and would
neither have shaken their beliefs nor given them something new to think
of. That was the way the great Columba scored off the Druids and Picts.
"I don't know about your astronomy or your fine music, or tales of
ancestors and heroes, but I'm telling you, old Baal himself, with all
his thunder and lightning, will not be so much as touching the least
hair on your head if you were just to hold up this trifle of two sticks
of wood. And if you do not believe me you will be burning for ever, and
for evermore!"

Saturday, 23rd.--Wrote to a friend in Madras to engage rooms and walked
to the European Stores; they are excellent, you can get pretty nearly
everything--I even found sketch books to my taste. The roads are the
things to be remembered, their breadth and splendid trees are
delightful, but their length is terrible. Not again will I take a long
walk in cantonments! "The 'ard 'igh road" in the west is bad enough, but
when it's glaring sun on this red, hard soil, however bright and light
the air, you soon get fatigued on foot.

Met D. and G. at shops, they were shopping on their own account and I on
mine, for I've never found men's shopping and ladies' go well together,
though for two ladies together shopping seems to be pure joy. We went to
the bank to change a cheque into something suitable for travel. You have
choice in India of silver rupees, value 1s. 4d., a few of which weigh
about a ton, or notes. The notes are like those we get in Scotland, if
you can believe me! I held out for gold, so there was a call for the
Bank Manager, and a procession to the safe; of self, Manager and keys, a
clerk, and three or four "velvet-footed" white-robed natives. I wish
some home bankers I know could have seen the classic bungalow Bank, with
its Pompeian pillars, and the waiting customers seated in the verandah,
and trailing, flowery, heavy-leaved creepers with blooms of orange and
white dangling from the capitals of the pillars. One of the customers
waiting in the verandah was a bearded priest, with black bombazine frock
and white topee; a Celt for certain by his hand and eye; and by his
polite manners and intelligent expression a Jesuit, I would guess; and
there were two ladies--spinsters and country bred I'd say, and poor, to
judge by pale, lined faces and the look of wear about their pith hats
and sun-faded dresses. Inside were white-robed figures just
distinguishable at desks, their faces invisible in the deep shadow. And
there was heat! and a continual "chink, chink" of counted rupees, and
outside in the sun, two impatient ladies waiting in a victoria. At last
we got the coin, and were faint with heat and hunger by the time we got
home to lunch,--this to show the climate of Bangalore; but perhaps my
readings of the temperature make it out to be hotter than it is.

... I do not write much about cooking, and the table, in these notes, do
I? so just one word here, allow me.... Do not waste pity on dear friends
and relatives out here on the score of food. Truly the climatic
conditions are not such as so give great appetite but the food itself is
excellent, beef, _par example_; I'd never seen better beef than the hump
you get here, and the fish would be considered quite good in London, and
there are various vegetables and fruits; even strawberries you can get
occasionally from the hills, and then the curries are just as good as
they are said to be. The best way to make them is--but space forbids!...
I think the reason they are cracked up so much is because they are
almost half vegetable so they suit the climate; being suitable, they
have been so long practised that their making is an art that only an
amateur might imitate at home.

[Illustration]

... That squirrel--to change the subject--on a branch outside the
verandah, is cheeping so that one can barely think, or even write! It is
as like a rat as a squirrel, with two yellowish stripes down the length
of each side; its tail is carried in the same way as our squirrel's at
home, but it is not half so bushy, and thank Heaven our squirrel has not
a brain-piercing note like this little beast. It runs about every
bungalow's verandah and the compound trees, and its note is like a
creaking wheel-barrow going along slowly, then it gets faster till it is
like the blackbird's scream when frightened out of the gooseberries. It
makes many people grow quite bald--this, another piece of information, I
have gathered from my cousin Robert! He also tells me they take wool out
of his drawing-room cushions to line their nest. For further information
of this kind the reader may care to refer to the writings of Mark Twain;
he writes a great deal about this squirrel--says it is the same as the
"chip munk" in his "erroneous, hazy, first impressions of India."

We have just been asked to a Christmas Tree over the way at twelve
o'clock mid-day, but we think it will be rather too hot for us to go
then. My often quoted informant tells me that seeing there are no fir
trees here they use instead a tamarisk branch, and its feathery,
pine-like needles look almost as well as our fir trees at home, and go
on fire in much the same way. We do not have a Christmas Tree or a dance
for the Servants' Hall, but R. and D. have sent them a notice and they
appear tidied up till their black hair shines again. R. has some
difficulty in remembering the names of the second and third generations,
but makes a good attempt. I am certain I couldn't remember, or care for,
even the senior male servants' names. They each get a small sum of
money, which is received with beaming smiles. One little mite comes
guilelessly round for a second payment and is told she must not. It is
in vain you try to sketch them as they stand naturally; they see the
corner of your eye with their's even though you are pretending to read
the "Pioneer," and once they know you look they pull themselves
together, if they are sitting they rise, and if they are standing they
run, or go on salaaming.

To-day I'd such a sell in this respect--went to the Maharajah's Palace,
a miniature Abbotsford, to leave cards, and just as were passing a
neighbouring compound, there appeared under the trees a glorious covey
of red chupprassies seated in a circle on the ground, their scarlet and
gold and white uniforms glaring in the sunbeams that shot through the
foliage--such purple shadows--such a suggestion of colour, and gossip,
or tales of the East! We pulled up a hundred and fifty yards off, I am
sure, with a hedge between us, and only looked sideways at them to make
notes, but in two seconds they were all up and at attention, and two
came running forward for Sahib's orders and cards, so I drove away
lamenting. The Red Chupprassies, by the way, or "corrupt lictors," are
official messengers wearing red Imperial livery, who are attached to all
civil officers in India. _See_ Mr Aberich-Mackay on the subject in
"Twenty-one Days in India."

... Packing to go to Madras, and very sorry to leave Bangalore and its
wide compounds and parks and bazaars, and our very kind hosts. I have
not mentioned the military element in Bangalore, nor the Gymkhana, nor
the Club, for, to my sorrow, I've seen nothing of them! The museum I did
see--went to it twice; I believe few people stationed here have seen it
once! There is a collection of stuffed Indian birds which interested and
finally appalled me by its numbers; and models of Indian fish, also very
interesting.

My packing brought me more natural history interest--my packing and R.'s
unpacking. R., in his office on one side of the house, opened some
bundles of papers and so dispersed a colony of small black ants; they
apparently thought my dressing-room would be restful, and trekked
across the matting of three rooms and settled in my pile of
correspondence--thought they'd be undisturbed poor things,--they had had
to climb to the top of a desk to settle in these papers. When I moved
these one or two thousand ants, and white cocoons, were scattered on the
matting, where they quickly collected themselves again under some
sketches and a folio on the floor. Then I took up another paper, and in
vexation shook ants and cocoons into a bowl of painting water which was
on the floor, and the poor little devils who were able to swim, after
their first surprise, began pulling the cocoons together in the centre
of the bowl and piled one on the top of the other in a heap till the
lowest became submerged. So I said, "here is honest endeavour, and help
those who help themselves"--and dropped them a raft in shape of an inch
of paper, and on to it the survivors went, and hauled in one whitey-blue
chrysalis after another. Then an ant went up to the side of the bowl by
the handle of the painting brush and shouted or signalled for help to
another fellow below on the matting, and it went and got hundreds of
willing helpers. Now they are saving the remainder, and wiring to their
friends, I've no doubt.

I leant over the bowl like a minor clumsy Providence and watched the
V.C. sort of action for quite a long time,--and suppressed cheers,--but
Burmah called, and the Boy waited, so I had to leave them to Pucca
Providence for a little. In half an hour by the clock all were
rescued--(five hundred ants and almost as many cocoons!) Even the ants
that had got under water, which I thought were drowned, were pulled out,
and revived. Then they formed a new colony under my water colour, "The
Landing of Lord Minto at the Appolo Bundar."

I have had an entertaining half-hour with them, but they will be glad we
are gone. Here comes Krishna, the deft handed, to pack sketches and all;
I must supervise him, and see that he does not pack my cousin's soap,
matches, and pieces of string along with his increasing collection of
these articles in a corner of my kit bag.



CHAPTER XX

BANGALORE TO MADRAS


This is the broad gauge Madras line. The cars run as smoothly as oil on
water--I can write perfectly well, or as well us usual to be exact,--and
there is gas, electric light, fairly soft cushions to sleep on, and nice
wide berths. The fares are moderate and the arrangements for food, etc.,
are good; how can I say more, than that they are as well done as on the
line we have just left--the Southern Maharatta Railway.[16]

[16] The mileage in 1901 of Indian Railways was 25,373. This mileage is
somewhat larger than that of France and of the Austro-Hungarian Empire,
and two and a half times that of Italy, and the development is
phenomenal.--MURRAY.

Our views on the road were a breadth of night-blue sky and stars, and a
sweep of obscure plain, and the glimmer of the carriage lights on the
hedge of aloes alongside, and crowds at stations with dark faces against
white lamp-lit walls, the natives running about heaped with sheets to
keep them warm--the temperature at 70°.

I must make a note here _en route_ to Madras that before we left Krishna
brought his wife and her sister and their children to pay their respects
to us before we left Bangalore; he has placed them there while he takes
the world for his pillow and follows our fortunes. They were mighty
superior looking Hindoos, elegantly draped in yellow striped with red,
with light yellow flowers in their smooth black hair and their faces
were quite comely, but you couldn't look at them as they spoke for the
pink in their mouths from chewing betel. The raw pink is such an ugly
contrast to their rather pretty brown complexions. If I'd had the
designing of these people I'd have made their nails and the soles of
their feet dark too, also the inside of their mouths, like well bred
terriers. They gave G. and myself each a lime and a very tidy bouquet of
roses and ferns. You think nothing of being garlanded in this country
with wreaths of flowers. My host and hostess had collars of flowers to
the eyes the other day for some reason or other. I suppose that because
the white man won't take "presents" he must take flowers and limes. On
our part we gave each of these good people a small token in silver, with
which return compliment they seemed highly pleased, and Krishna
addressed us: standing straight he puckered his little face, so dark
against his white turban, and wept, saying, "Father and Mother and all
that I have I leave to follow Massa" or "my sahib"--I can never make out
which he says, and in reply I murmured something about "absence making
the heart grow fonder"--and felt quite touched; but R. tells me that
this weeping can be turned on by natives at any time, so when he
transacts business with weepy people, he says very gently, "Will you
please wait a little and weep later," and they stop at once and smile
and begin again just at the polite moment. I am convinced this is the
case, though it seems to us almost a physical impossibility, that a man
grown-up can turn on tears without heroics in a book or a novel or play
to start them; "the gentle Hindoo" seems even a more fitting term than
I'd have thought it was!... The people grew more noisy as we got south,
the racket they make along this line at night at stations qualifies the
comfortable berths and well-hung carriages.

A good deal, if not all, of the charm of travel went, about midnight. I
awoke in the dark and just distinguished a native stealing into our
carriage, whereon I showed a leg, and half rose, with intent to kill, or
throw out. He advanced stealthily and held out his hand in a way I
knew, and whispered, "plague inspection," and I meekly gave him my wrist
to feel; he touched my arm somewhere for an indivisible point of time
and withdrew into the night! Then a dark lady in dark dress and straw
hat, became faintly visibly for a second, and felt G.'s wrist. By that
time we were both half awake to the fact that it was a plague
inspection; in a minute or two a third person came in, but I was too
sleepy to notice what he said--but I am quite certain I did not pray for
any of them.

In the grey of the morning, in a most comfortable, restful sleep, we
were awakened again, and were asked for plague passports--and hadn't
any. I believe the third intruder may have called to give me one; at any
rate, I had to hunt about on a platform crowded with natives and other
poor Britishers in pyjamas, in the same plight as myself and looking
mighty cross, and finally got two pieces of paper, each with all sorts
of horrible instructions and threats thereon, and un-understandable
orders to show ourselves somewhere for examination for the next ten
days. Each pass was prepared in triplicate, "original to be retained for
record, the duplicate to be delivered to the traveller and the
triplicate sent _without delay_ to the officer who has to examine him
for ten days," etc., etc., and the traveller is warned any breach of
terms will entail prosecution with imprisonment for a term up to six
months, or fine up to Rs. 1000, "or both!" And the passport officer,
amongst a hundred and one other things, has to ascertain whether there
is any sickness or death in your _house_, or if you exhibit any symptoms
of plague or deadly sickness--this for us, the poor cold-weather
tourists, with never a house or home but our portmanteaux! Your father's
name and your caste and your occupation are also demanded, and your
district, _tulluq_, village, and street. An income-tax paper is plain
sailing to this complicated nightmare of the early morning--you vow and
swear you will never come to Madras again.

It is wonderful how breakfast clears the air, and the drive from the
station through the town helped to cheer us up. Madras smells rather,
and though there are open ditches and swampy places that make one think
of fever; they say it's healthy. I suppose the sea, and the surf in the
air, are disinfectants. The people in the street are not a patch on
Bangalore people in looks or dress. I had to drive from our hotel soon
after our arrival some three miles to the docks, and of the thousands of
people I passed, there was not one woman with draperies arranged in the
classic folds we saw in Bangalore; their worn bundles of dirty white
drapery seemed just to be thrown on anyhow, and their type of face was
much more elementary than that of the natives, even so little to the
north as Mysore--Apologies for such rude sketches.

[Illustration: Madras Bangalore]

I'd just begun to vote Madras a sell when a line of thin-stemmed trees
came in sight--tamarisks, I think--with feathery grey-green pine-like
foliage and deep shadows, and figures under them on white sand, and
through the trunks a great sweep of blue ocean, real southern blue--and
I thought of turtles and the early traders, and John Company, and forgot
about the ugly figures and the smells in the town. A little farther on,
I came on the harbour with a few ocean-going crafts, and the _Renown_,
waiting for the Prince, conspicuous in brilliant white and green on her
water-line.

We had by this time decided to go to Burmah, so I'd come to the docks to
Binney & Co. to see about berths. An article I read by an engineer--my
thanks for it--called, "Fourteen days leave from India," in _T. P.'s
Weekly_, and Mr Fielding Hall's "Soul of the People," helped to decide
our going farther east. The article described vividly the change to the
better in regard to the colouring and people in coming from India to
Burmah. If India then seemed to me picturesque, it was surely worth the
effort to cross the little bit of sea to Rangoon. It was difficult to
leave the harbour and the Masulah boats; they are thoroughly ugly yet
perfectly well-fitted for their work! They are almost like the shape of
children's paper boats, high out of the water, over four feet freeboard
and seven feet beam, and I'd say about twenty-five to thirty feet over
all, with practically flat bottoms. Six or seven rowers perch on bamboo
thwarts, level with top of the gunwale, and row with bamboos with flat
round blades tied to their ends. They come stem on through the low surf
on the harbour strand, then just as they are touching the shore, are
swung broadside on, the natives spring out into the shoal water, and out
comes the lading, piece by piece, on their shoulders sacks, bales,
boxes, etc., and all the time the boat is bumping up the sloping sand
sideways and unharmed apparently by the seas bursting on its outside.
Ugly is no word for them, but fit they were, though Ruskin's "Beauty of
Fitness" did not appear. They have but few timbers, but these are heavy,
and they have only three planks on either side and two on the bottom,
heavy teak planks sewn together! This coarse sewing with cocoa-nut fibre
cord laces a straw rope against the inside of the seam, and this
apparently swells when wet and gives elasticity and play, and keeps out
a considerable amount of water. But I see there's a good deal of baling
done, and the baggage, with the water in bilge and spray over all, must
get wet outside at least--Fixed up about cabins for Rangoon, lunched at
our hotel, the Connemara, then hired a gharry or victoria--I'm not sure
which the conveyance we hired by the week should be called--and drove
to the racecourse, an A.1. course, and met several friends there. I was
particularly impressed by the general appearance of beauty and
refinement of our country-women in Madras, and by the fashionableness of
their attire. I thought there was a sensation--I will only whisper
this--of a slightly rarified official atmosphere at this meeting, I saw
no one caper. But it must be borne in mind that most of the people there
were officials and wives of officials, serving a great empire, so
perhaps it might be unbecoming for such to laugh and play; and I take it
there is even a limit to the degree of a smile when you are on the
official ladder, that it is then seemly, even expedient, to walk with a
certain dignity of pace--so you show the sweep of the modern skirt to
great advantage. As a foil were one or two blooming girls, "just out,"
and bound to have a "good time." Their exuberant buoyancy will be toned
down, I am told, after two seasons here (I'd have thought one would have
been enough), and up north people are more gay, the atmosphere here is
considerd to be very damping.

The native life spread round three sides of the course, six deep. The
horses were mostly small, uncommonly nice-looking beasts, with a good
deal of Arab blood. Of course G. and I selected winners and had nothing
on; but I have known of others who have met with similar misfortune at
meetings nearer home.

Back to the Connemara, through a moving population of native men
returning from the races. They mostly wore Delhi caps (like "smoking
caps"), long hair in a knot and long light tweed coats, round their thin
bare legs, floppy linen shaded from white to rose-red, at the lower edge
a bad red and a dirty white; there was red dust in the air, and a hot
sunset in front--rather sickening colour. The whole population seems to
have had a holiday to see the Sahibs run some fifteen to twenty horses.
They seem rather an unmanly looking crowd. The pink that predominates
is what you see in an unfortunate hybrid white and red poppy, an analine
colour, as unpleasant as that of red ink--Give me back--give me back
Bangalore and its colour, our life on the line, a quiet siding beneath
the bough, the table laid on the track, and the moon looking down
through the branches.

28th December.--There is a thing I cannot understand how the farther we
wander from home the more people we meet whom we know or know about, or
who know us or our kith and kin. And how do we so often run up against
people we met on the ship coming out? You'd have thought India big
enough to swallow up a shipload of passengers for ever and aye, without
their ever meeting again, but even since yesterday we have met quite a
number of the passengers of the _Egypt_--three regular "pied poudré"
wanderers, as the French called the Scots long ago, and a lady just out,
full of interest in everything. She actually wants to see native bazaars
and museums! to the horror of her hosts, who have been out here for long
and whose thoughts are only of the tented field, and pay, and going
home.

... A long trail to shipping people again--former visit resulted only in
a protracted interview with a polite native clerk, so the toil had to be
done twice! Then to the post office at the docks; borrowed a rusty pen
there from another native clerk and did a home letter. What a fine
building it is, and what a motley slack lot of people you see there!
Near me a group of half-naked natives were concocting and scratching off
a wire between them, others squatted on the floor and beat up their
friends black hair for small game. One man made netting attached to the
rail round the ticket office, seated of course, another knitted, and
everyone chewed betel nut. The walls of this very handsome building were
encrusted with dried red expectoration, and scored with splashes of lime
from fingers--the lime is chewed with the betel nut. These nasty sort of
natives might be improved or got rid of, and say, Burmese introduced.
What is the good of having a country or a forest if you don't breed a
good stock, be it either deer or people?

Changed to airier rooms on our second evening here; got everything
shifted in pretty short time. We thus lost a pretty view and, the smell
of the river, "the Silvery Cooum."

It was warm and damp last night, and many mosquitoes were inside our
curtains--didn't feel up to painting much, but took out a sketch book
and our hired victoria; the horse jibbed and tied itself and the traces
and the victoria into a knot and kicked up a racket generally in the
hotel porch, and we got it extracted in time, then it insisted on taking
the victoria along the pavement till I was glad G. was not with me--a
fool would have stayed in it--I found I needed a shave, and left as it
pranced past a barber's shop. The barber, an Italian, spoke six
languages; I should think he felt Madras deadly dull.

After the breakdown of my prancing steed--rickshawed from the barber's
to the Marina. The Marina is only an empty sweep of sand, and beyond
that a strip of blue sea and a pale blue sky and a few fleecy clouds,
simple enough material for a picture; but by my faith! could I only have
put down the colour of that mid-day glow from the sand, and the feeling
of space, and the two blues, of the sea and sky, and the flick of colour
from a scrap or two of drapery on sunny brown figures tailing on to the
long ropes of a Seine net! Out beyond the surf mere dots in the blue
swell, were more figures swimming about the ends of the net splashing to
keep in the fish, and in the edge of the white surf the fishermen's
children were sporting--in with a header through the glassy curve of a
wave, and out again on their feet on the sand and away with a scamper.
Some matrons sat near me, and the smallest naked kids played round me as
I sketched, and two, really pretty girls, the first I've seen in India,
with short skirts and their black hair still wringing wet, came up from
the sea and looked on. Barring these fisher-people, the miles of beach
were empty as could be. What light and heat there was, a crow passing
cast a darker shadow on the sand than its own sunlit back, and a pale
pink convolvulus that grew here and there on the inner sand cast a
shadow of deepest purple. The brown naked men, sweating at every pore,
pulled the drag rope of the net very slowly up the soft dry sand step by
step, their damp, brown muscles sparkling with vivid blue lights. I
think this was the best bit of India I had seen so far, and after a
stuffy night in town to get into the blaze of light and watch these
fellows fishing on the wide blue ocean from such a southern strand was
worth a month on Loch Leven or an hour with a fifty pounder. I think the
nets must be over a hundred fathoms; they were being pulled in for two
hours after I came, and must have been hauled for hours before that,
seven men to each rope! As the ends came near shore, the boys plunged in
and joined their seniors, and all looked like a herd of seals
gambolling. I saw a father drubbing his boy beyond the surf; the boy had
evidently gone out too soon, and got exhausted coming back. It must have
relieved the father's feelings, each thump sent the lad under water. As
the bag of the net came towards the hard sand the silver fish showed;
very few I thought for all the trouble and hands employed; not more than
twenty lbs. weight I'd think, all silvery and sky blue and emerald
green; bream and sand-launces and silver fish like whitebait and
herring, all fresh and shining from the beautiful sea mint--the colour
beyond words--green breakers, white surf, blue swell beyond, and brown
figures with red and variously coloured turbans; young and old, all with
such deep shadows on the sand, a scene Sarolea, the Spaniard, might make
a show of painting. A few outsiders, men with clothes, two policemen and
a satellite appeared as the bag came ashore. Scenting plunder they
sailed down and nailed four of the biggest and best fish--horrid shame,
I thought it, these miserable imps in uniform of our Government, to
steal from my naked fisher friends. I hope someone in authority will
read this and have them tied heel and neck.

... In the afternoon G. and I went again to the Marina; I don't think
anything more unfashionable could have been dreamed of. It was again
exquisite--all changed to evening colours, and the wide drive along the
shore had a few promenaders, and a few carriages were drawn up at the
side with ladies and children eating the air. They appeared to be
unofficial people, white traders, I'd fancy, the rest Eurasians and a
few Europeanised natives. There are pretty drives to the Marina, through
park-like roads beautifully bordered with flowering trees, such a
pleasing place that I wonder the official class does not drive there.

Through the outskirts home; the light fading and forms becoming blurred
in the warm evening twilight, past lines of neat little houses, mostly
open towards the street, belonging to Eurasians. In one a children's
party--pretty children in white, girls with great tails of dark
hair--they were pulling crackers and all wore coloured paper hats--next
door in a room with chintz covered European furniture and photographs, a
pretty girl--just a little dark, played a concertina to an immaculately
dressed youth, who twirled the latest thing in straw hats.

Then to dinner at The Fort to dine with Major B. C.--a tiresome long
drive in the dark with a slow horse; at the end of it we crossed a
drawbridge over a moat--full of water we could see, from the faint
reflection of a white angle of a bastion on the dark surface--rumbled
through subterranean arches, white-washed and lamplit, and felt as we
came into the square that we had left modern India outside in the
darkness and had got back to the old India of the Company days. A pale
crescent moon lit up part of a building here and there, old formal
Georgian buildings and old-fashioned gun-embrasures and a church like
St. Martin in the Fields. One half expected to meet someone in knee
breeches and wig, perhaps a Governor, Elihu Yale, or M'Crae, the seaman,
Clive, or Hastings coming round some dusky corner or across the moonlit
square. There were a few soldiers here and there, taking their rest with
grey shirt-sleeves rolled up. We had to mark time a little, as we had
started half-an-hour too soon, so I went on to the parapet and looked
from the flagstaff east into the night, and heard the Bay of Bengal surf
pounding on the sands. I spoke for a little to two soldiers lounging
there on the parapet edge; they told me they were Suffolks and felt it
warm. What interesting talks one could have had with these men, as a
stranger, and with no impending dinner and no white waistcoat. I am not
surprised Kipling made some of his best tales about privates; they are
of the interesting mean in life, between the rulers and the ruled. These
private soldiers, or fishermen and sailors can tell you stories better
than any other class of men, but you must not show the least sign of
gold braid if you would draw them out. I remember one night, I went
round the dockyard bars at a northern seaport with a retired naval
officer to get first hand information about a trip we planned to Davis
Straits for musk oxen--with the artist's modest manner and the
suggestion of a drink thrown in, I'd have got any number of yarns from
them till "Eleven o'clock, Gentlemen, and the Police outside!" But my
friend in mufti was spotted at once; for he marched up to the middle of
the bar, looked right and left and snapped out his order; but before he
opened his mouth the whaling men were shouldering into little
tongue-tied groups--the quarter deck air came in like a draught and took
them all slightly aback, and we got never a bit of information.

There was a Canon at dinner, and two engineers and ladies. We talked of
India and home, and these kind people's children over seas, and we
talked art too. One engineer and his wife were both excellent artists;
and we talked of the Burmese and the religion of Buddah, not very loud,
of course, considering the company, and, of course, of the "Soul of the
People," a book at least three of the party had read and I had just
dipped into; and we arranged to go and see the church and the records
and plate therein, dating from the Company days, and amongst other
interesting things the record of Clive's marriage, with Wellesley's
signature as witness appended. The house we dined in is supposed to be
that in which Clive twice attempted his own life, and twice his pistol
misfired. Then we tore ourselves away, with belated sympathy for our
host and his next day's work.

I have mentioned preparations for the Prince in Bangalore; here, too our
host had many arrangements to make, to forward the Imperial train north
to Mysore after their return from Burmah.

As we leave the house the lamplight from the windows shines on purple
blooms of creepers on the fort wall a few yards from the front door, and
over it comes the low boom of the surf and the scent of the sea and
flowers--Through the sleeping soldier town, the Syce running in front
gives some pass-word to the sentry as we rattle over the cobbles under
the archway and rumble over the drawbridge; and we are out into the
dusty darkness again. And so home, to bed and mosquito curtains in the
Connemara.

Sleep we would fain have till later than the time of rising for the
crows, and sparrows, and hotel servants, but to sleep after sunrise is
almost impossible; these abominable hoody crows and sparrows sit on the
jalousies and verandah and caw and chirp most harshly. "If I were
viceroy," I'd put forth a word to have the whole lot exterminated. It
could be done in two seasons, then the harmless, and game birds, would
have a chance. It was once done in our country in the reign of James the
IV. The tree in which a crow built for three successive years was
forfeited to the Crown, and went of course to our Fleet, _Eh Mihi_; We
had a proper fleet in those days before the great Union, and proper
Commanders--read Pitscottie's description of the ships, _e.g._ _The
Yellow Carvel_, _The Lion_, and _The Great Michael_, the envy of Europe,
for which the forests of Fife were depleted, which carried "thirty-five
guns and three hundred smaller artillery, culverins, batter-falcons,
myands, double-dogs, hagbuts, and three hundred sailors, a hundred and
twenty gunners, and one thousand soldiers besides officers"--and of the
sea fights with the Portuguese and English. Our coasts were defended
then! James IV. could _put 120,000 mounted troops in the field in nine
days_, and every able-bodied man learned the use of arms; this was
before The Union with our so often successfully invaded neighbour--now,
we have left to defend ourselves, one regiment of cavalry!

   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .

_P.S._--As this goes to print the Scots Greys follow our kings to
England; and we are left with _one mounted soldier_ in our capital, in
bronze, in Princes Street: and to add to our glorious portion in this
Union, it has lately been tactfully decreed that in future English
nobility will take precedence of Scottish nobility IN SCOTLAND! It will
be curious to observe what the populace will say to this when they come
to hear of it. I wonder if our nobility will take it lying down--and if
I may be forgiven, this extra wide digression?



CHAPTER XXI


I have had a delightful fishing day; at an early hour found myself again
at the shore, nominally to paint, but in truth because it was hot and
stuffy in town, and the thought of the surf and clear air made the beach
irresistible. A rickshaw man used his legs to take me to the sands edge;
and they were empty as yesterday of all but the few fishermen and their
families. The colour effect, however, was not so brilliant, but was
pleasant enough--the sky soft grey and the water grey too, but
colourful--the heat enough to cook one!

[Illustration]

I watched the young idea learning surf rafting--a study fascinating
enough for a whole day--a tiny imp with a great pointed log, and the
white breakers for playthings. He sat on its stern, his knees and toes
on the sand, and held its stem seawards till the inrush of shallow
white-laced water was deep enough to float it and take his little
anatomy a voyage of a few yards on the sloping outrush, then he jumped
off and waited till the surf brought his black ship back. With what
quickness he noted the exact moment to run in and catch its stem, and
slew it round so that it would broach ashore on its side, and how neatly
he avoided being caught between it and the sand. The fishermen's boats,
or catamarans as they are called here, though they have no resemblance
to the Colombo catamaran, are made of four of these pointed logs tied
side by side. I suppose this little chap was playing at his future work.
He had made a little collection on the dry sand of two or three
shell-fish and beasts that burrow in the sand, and whenever he went to
sea, three crows stalked up to these, when he would leave the log and
scamper after them, then run back all over dry sand and tumble into the
surf again, to come up laughing and wet and shining like copper--I
should say it was nicer than being at school.

[Illustration]

Two of his clothless seniors came in, as I sketched, from the deep swell
outside the surf, through the breakers slanting-wise. It was a treat to
see them paddling their four logs, almost side on to the breaking surf,
where our boats could not safely venture; one knelt behind on the thick
ends of the two prolonged middle logs, the other amidship--their heads
only showed above a breaker, the next moment they were on its crest, the
surf foaming over their knees--down again into another hollow, then up,
and with a surge the lumber drove its nose on the sand, the stern threw
up, and the two nipped into the water at either end; another surge swung
the stern round, and shoved the raft broadside on far up the sand, and
they were landing their nets--all done as easily as you could pull up a
dog-cart and step out! Of course they are not inconvenienced with
clothes, and the water and sands are both comfortably warm; the little
difficulty must be to jump at the right time and place, so as to avoid
being thrown off, and getting rolled under the logs. Bow seemed to hop
off in front and to the outside a little, just before she touched, and
Stroke a half a second later, but the manoeuvre was too quick for me
to follow more than one of the men's actions exactly.

Whilst I watched this extremely rapid landing, my acquaintances of
yesterday were pulling at the long ropes from either end of the Seine
net, which was extended very far out at sea. When the ends were within
fifty yards of the shore the knowing old seniors went tumbling through
the surf, and kept swimming and splashing to frighten the fish from the
mouth of the V shape into the bag in the middle; the women folk and
children tailed on to the ropes along with the men, joking and laughing,
for their men out in the water told them there were lots of fish! You
did not need to know Tamil or Telugu to learn this, the delight was so
evident--It was evidently to be the catch of the season! The excitement
and movement grew splendid as the bag, still a few yards from shore, was
throttled in some way under water. First a small outer bag was pulled
ashore, then a bigger one holding the day's catch, a Scotch cartload of
fish--a bumper bag. They were all so pleased and jolly, and were puffing
and panting and wet with the last struggle to get the fine-meshed bag
through the surf. When it was opened like a great brown purse, there lay
the wealth of the Bay of Bengal! in silver and blue and rose and
yellow. About half the fish were pure silver, the rest violet, emerald
green, pure blue, and some red like mullet, with lemon yellow fins, and
the colour of the brown men and the women's faded draperies round the
glittering haul was delicious. The wrangling, not Billingsgate at
all--milder even than Parliamentary--was loud enough, and continuous. I
left them taking away the fish in baskets, and freshly minted money
never looked so beautiful. How they divided I couldn't tell; it seemed
as if each helped himself or herself as each thought fit.

I must note the afternoon of this delightful day, though noting these
"first impressions" of India seems rather a big order; for each day
seems so full of delightfully new experience, and fascinating sights,
that I am sure you see in one day here--at least a _nouveau_ does--more
interesting things than one could in a week in Europe.

... Our civil servant friend, who paints like Sam Bough, asked us to see
his bungalow on the Adyar River, also to look at sketches. We drove
three miles on a broad road under banyan trees and palms with patches of
corn and native huts, and an occasional bright dress and brass bowl of a
woman showing between the dark stems, and pulled up at half-a-dozen
bungalows by mistake, and left cards at others, to the owners of which
we had introductions, and after a considerable hunt turned up at the
bungalow we aimed at. Here were open views, in front the Adyar River and
the many-arched Elphinston Bridge, and palm groves, and down the river
to the left, the sand bar across its mouth, and to the right views of
the river's many windings in palm groves. Such a place, with the feeling
of the sea being within reach, would make me, I think, tolerate living
in Madras for a little. We had a great causerie over pictures of home
scenes, and of many places in India. Then we got into a double-scull
Thames boat and slipped away down towards the bar with wind and
current--extremely delightful, I thought it, getting into such a
well-appointed boat on such a pretty piece of river. As we sailed fish
played round us; some, like bream or silvery perch, skipped out of the
water in a series of leaps like miniature penguins! The wind fell and we
rowed, down to the sand spit and heard the surf on the other side and
got out and felt that we were at last actually on "India's Coral
Strand." There were pretty delicately coloured shells, and here and
there a pale pink convolvulus growing low, with grey-green leaves. The
river just managed to cut its way through the sand-bar into the surf;
beyond it, three or four miles to the north, we could see the two spires
in Madras above the palms, St Thomé's and St Mary's in the Fort; to the
south-west, the sand and palms and the line of surf stretched in
perspective till they faded together on the horizon.

[Illustration]

As the sun got low the sky became gorgeous red--what tropical colour
there was--the hard sand flushed and paled, yellow to brown in a long
waving ribband at the edge of the receeding wave, then turned lavender
laced with dull foam, as the first of the following breakers came
running up, wetting the sand again to renew the golden glow. The outer
sea and the horizon were purple and the white of the surf seemed almost
green against the orange and red of the sky. Our friends told me they
often came to this beach; and as they are artists, that is not to be
wondered at: and I suppose some Madras people occasionally come down the
river from the boat club a mile or two above, to picnic. I saw two men
in flannels and two ladies--very fair ladies they were too--in the
flattering twilight; when a white dress turns the colour of a violet
shell, and muslins die like a dream into the soft colours of the sand,
and pale faces flush with the golden glow of the setting sun. We lost no
pity on those exiles and their wandering on this foreign strand. A
native or two passed; nice and easy it is for them getting along the
coast to Madras! They just walked up the river a few yards and walked
in, swam across and down stream, waded out on the far side, and never as
much as shook themselves.

We shoved off again when the sky was positively burning with colour,
hoisted our sail, and with a light sea breeze went up river towards the
darkening groves of palms, guiding ourselves by the afterglow and the
glint of a new moon, and lights from the few bungalows on shore.

As we sail we plan to return some day and do up one of these old Arabian
Night bungalows. They look almost palatial with their terraces and
flight of steps from the river and white pillars showing in the pale
moonlight with dark palms and trees over them. They at the same time
suggest something of Venice, and of the Far East. They would need
repair, but rents are low.

It gets darker and we have difficulty in picking up marks--first the
rock on our right from which we go dead across stream, to the high palm
just visible against the night sky; then up stream a bit, and across to
avoid shoals. We row, for the wind has fallen away. Every now and then
our blades touch gravel, and twice we go right aground and have to
shove off. Fish jump round us; two come in forward, pretty little
silvery fellows with a potent smell of herring, one big fellow surges
nearly ashore. As the boat-house and club lights appear we go hard and
fast on to a bank, and a native wayfarer fording the river in the dark,
whom we mistake for a Club servant expecting us, is ordered to shove us
off, which he does and goes on his way without a word--"the gentle
Hindoo" again.

The Club boat-house is a perfect treat! By the lamplight I am sure I saw
a score of double sculls, sixes, and possibly eights, and skiffs and
punts--all sorts of river boats, and as far as I could see, all in
order; the men who have both such a Club and boat-house are to be
envied. The Club-house was a dream of white Georgian architecture,
veiled in moonlight amongst great trees and palms. There were high
silvery white pillars (Madras is famous for its marble white stucco) and
terraces and wide steps and yellow light coming from tall open jalousies
under verandahs. Winding paths led up to it, and along one of these we
followed a native, who swung a lamp near the ground in case of snakes.
In the Club were rooms for dining, reading, and dancing, all in the same
perfect Georgian style.

I would have liked to stay, to see the dance that was going to begin,
but it was late, and we were in flannels, and were three miles from
home. The ball-room was entirely to my taste, an oval, with white
pillars round it reflected in a light-coloured polished floor, overhead
a domed roof with chrystal chandeliers, and smaller crystal lights round
the sides.

On the road home we met motors, dog-carts, and men and ladies going to
the dance; the motor dust here is twenty times thicker than at home; for
half-a-mile after you pass a motor you see nothing--can't open your eyes
in fact--then came a series of Rembrandts, in wayside lamplit stalls,
and home to mosquitoes and late dinner.

31st December, Sunday.--Spent forenoon writing letters and working up
sketches, and to make all smooth went to two churches and two temples in
the afternoon; a fairly good ending to the year. The first temple, a
pile of architecture of debased wedding-cake style, thick with
innumerable elastic-legged, goggled-eyed, beastly, indecent Hindoo
divinities. Thence to a Roman Catholic church in St Thomé, the old
Portuguese quarter--very pretty and simple in appearance. The half near
the altar full of veiled European nuns in white and buff dresses. Nearer
the door, where we sat, were native women and children, mostly in red, a
few of them with antique European black bonnets and clothes; and in
their withered old faces you could imagine a strain of the early
Portuguese settlers. The altar was, as usual, in colours to suit the
simple mind; the Madonna in blue and white and gold with a sweet
expression of youth and maternity, her cheeks were like china, and she
dandled the sweetest little red-haired baby in a nest of gold rays, all
against a rocky background. How telling the fair Viking type of baby
must be to these little black-eyed, wondering worshippers, far more
fascinating and wonderful, I am sure, than their miraculous six-armed
gods. There were real roses too, such numbers of them, and altogether a
good deal of somewhat gim-crack effect, but the whole appealed to me,
for at least the idea of material beauty was recognised, and for a
minute I forgot all the ugliness (= Evil) that our churches have caused,
and the good (= Beauty) they have destroyed, and bowed and crossed
myself like my neighbours. Then we drove to another church near the sea,
St Thomés. The bones of St Thomas of the New Testament are said to be
buried here. We only looked into it; it was finely built, and inside at
the moment was almost as empty as a Protestant church on a week-day.
There was but one devotee, a black woman, confessing to a half-black
man. We shuddered and escaped, and drove a few yards and saw "The seas
that mourn, in flowing purple of their Lord forlorn,"--the wide long
stretch north and south of white sand, and the log surf rafts, and the
dark fishermen going up and down on the blue swell--and didn't we draw a
breath of relief of God's pure air.

There was a log craft at the surf edge, with a kid playing beside it,
his reflection perfect in the long backwash. His father talked in a
strange tongue to me, and I looked at the swell and considered, and saw
black men out beyond the surf, and none of them apparently drowned, or
in fear of sharks, so I left shoes and socks with G. and our coachman to
look after her, and the syce to look after the carriage, and tucked up
trousers and away we went together, my heart in my mouth! What joy--bang
into and over the first breaker. I'd nearly to stand upright to keep my
waist dry, and down and up again--the movement quick and exhilarating;
over two other breakers and we were away on the open rollers, and able
to look round to the distant shore, where G. sat with my sketch-book and
a gallery of brown figures. We paddled along to another craft out at sea
that had pulled up its net. Two men were in it, and we made fast to it
till they cleared the fish out of the net, and we took them in a matting
bag on to our raft, where the water washed over them, and we took them
ashore. It was curious to see how neatly and ably these men could haul a
net and clear it of fish on four submerged logs--they could move about,
stand and walk from one end of the logs to the other with freedom. With
the net on board the logs were almost entirely submerged. Running ashore
is the most sporting part of the procedure; we paddled along slanting
towards the beach, waiting for the ninth wave to pass, then went
straight for the sand for all we were worth, and got in in great style;
I must say I nearly lost my balance landing, there were so many natives
wading out to bear a hand that my eye wandered--but what a craft for
the purpose! I vow no boat I ever saw of the size could come on to hard
sand with such a surf behind and not break and throw you out. It is
really a sport with a capital S, though, as far as I can hear, white
people don't go in for it, perhaps because it is said--on what authority
I do not know--that the sharks prefer white people to the natives! The
natives who swim in the surf apparently are not touched by them, yet you
see no Europeans bathing on what I should think would be a delightful
shore for bathing once you had got accustomed to diving through the
surf. If I go surf-logging again I will take a change of trousers--Got
on shoes, the natives standing three deep to see the Sahib get sand off
his feet, extremely curious but quite polite. The rupee I gave my man
pleased him very much, and the others all wanted to take me out again,
or at least to have a rupee too. They were a nicer, bolder-looking lot
of men than those in the town by a very long chalk.

We then went to another temple that was also worth seeing. There is a
tank near it that would be beautiful, but for a monumentally ugly iron
railing that has recently been put round it. It is distinctly
British--who on earth did it? We were fortunate, for just before coming
to the tank and temple, a christening party of Hindoos in their best
clothes, with yellow flowers in black hair, and priests with long
chanters and tom-toms playing, came out of some houses as we were
passing. In a loosely formed procession they proceeded very slowly to
the temple, the principals in a closed brougham in the middle. It was
just like one of Tadema's pictures on the move--barring the brougham!
The players led the way in white, with the dark wood chanters mounted
with silver bells and mouthpieces, and made music with a little of the
twang of our pipe chanter, but without the continuity and lift or crisp
grace-notes. Young girls, with their faces tinted yellow with saffron,
followed in dull red dresses. Behind the procession were
classical-looking houses, and over these appeared palms and banyan
trees; but in the middle was the prosaic old Waler, and the hired
brougham, which was very distressing, for otherwise the subject was
evidently "artistic," and combined just the proportions of sentiment and
positive colour, which would have insured for its faithful depiction, a
warm reception at any of our Royal Academical Exhibitions--the man in
the street could see that!

[Illustration]

Then home by the wide Marina, and the promenading Eurasians, and
well-to-do traders in carriages. The official people _must_ all be at
the Club and Gymkhana, or at Church. For choice I like the beach in the
morning, the wide sweep of ocean, the full sun on the endless sandy
shores, and the solitude.

This is a jotting, reduced by reproduction, of a native fishing in the
surf--all that I have "creeled" to-day.

... By Jove--it's ten minutes to the New Year--time to think of our
friends and relations, who will be sitting down to lunch and thinking of
us; and toasting us for a certainty. So, in the words of the song, of
which these are all I know--

    "Here's another kind love,
    Here's another kind love,
    Here's a health to everybody."

But first we must toast "Relations and Friends," and then "The Memory of
the Dead and the Health of the Living," which being done, properly and
in order, we may go to the window to hear the bells of St Giles and the
cheering at the Cross.... Ah! but it is too far.



CHAPTER XXII

1ST JANUARY 1906


[Illustration]

We have "seen the New Year in," in a way, perhaps not quite so jollily
as at home, but well enough however. And as we went to sleep, we did
hear a little cheering, some jovial north country soldiers, I suppose;
and the dogs were howling, and the moon shining, and the mosquitoes
singing. They got their fill last night--came through a hole in the
mosquito curtains, and our raid on them in the morning ended eight of
their lives; but we were desperately wounded! G. got eight bites on one
hand, which is serious, and means poulticing.

[Illustration]

Various natives hung about this morning, and gave us each a lime and
many salaams, and we are supposed to return the compliment in coin. It
is rather an ingenious plan, and it is a dainty little yellow present,
and costs them nothing, and flatters you; at least it does if you are a
newcomer, and a very small tip pleases them.

Called at Government House on this first day of A.D. 1906, and signed
Lord and Lady Ampthill's great new visitors' volumes. Then we prowled
round the Fort, and the Canon of St Mary's kindly left his work and
showed us records and plate of the Company days, dated 1698, and some of
which was given to the Church by the Governor Yale, afterwards the
benefactor of Yale College of the United States of America. We saw
Clive's marriage in the church records, with Wellesley's signature, and
on the walls of St Mary's church saw the names of many Scots and English
and Irish whose bones lie here and there in Indian soil, all lauded for
"courage, devotion, and care of their men." Truly, "warlike, manly
courage and devotion to duty" seem the flowers that flourish hereaway.
We saw the old colours of the Madras Fusiliers, now the Royal Dublin
Fusiliers, the first British regiment of the East Indian Company, and in
which Sir John Malcolm, Sir Harry Close, and Lord Clive served.

[Illustration]

In afternoon went a long rickshaw ride through Blacktown to the North
Beach. There saw a number of well dressed Eurasians, boys and girls,
paddling so timidly, they let the water come over their toes and no
more; also saw a net lifted outside the surf, full of fish like spent
herring. What a scramble there was for them on the beach by all
classes--what fun and laughter, each one robbing the other. The fish
were out of condition and not of market value. I saw one blow struck but
it was not returned, the man hit merely looked dreadfully offended, and
the jabbering and laughing went on in a second. What a pity it is the
railway spoils the north shore--it is the same in Bombay, Dundee,
Edinburgh, and Madras, the best parts of our towns sacrificed. I believe
if we owned Naples we would put a railway round the Bay.

I had the satisfaction of seeing the surf log-rafts at work again, and
also saw one put together. When not in use the logs lie apart, to dry I
suppose, and acquire buoyancy. It took not more than eight minutes to
pull the four legs into position and string them together. The roping
was done with a thin one-inch coir rope quickly and neatly, not so tight
as to make all quite rigid. The actual roping took about two minutes.
Here is a jotting of the way they are made. The logs at longest are
about seventeen feet. It is as well to take note of these sort of
things; you never know when your turn at the desert island may come, and
young relations have desert islands at home. Or again, such a craft
might come in handily in some out-of-the-way Highland or Norwegian loch,
with one boat on it, and the trout rising in the middle.

[Illustration]

1st January--_continued_.--This is a terribly long yarn for one day and
it is not done yet! We went to the Government House reception in the
evening in our best war paint. It is a yearly reception, I believe,
given to all and sundry to keep them loyal, the very thing to do it too!
and I know another country, north and west, where such shows might have
this effect--if it is not too late--Drove there in our hired victoria in
the hot dusk, and dust, in a rout of carriages, gharries, rickshaws,
dog-carts, and every sort of wheeled craft imaginable; nabobs and
nobodies, spry young soldiers in uniform, minus hats, driving ladies in
chiffons and laces, natives, civilians, eurasians, now one ahead then
the other, till we met in a grand block at the great gates, and then
strung out orderly-wise and went on at a walk.

As we drove up the park we saw through great trees with dark foliage,
the white banqueting hall with its very wide flights of steps and tall
Ionic pillars bathed in moonlight, and closer, found there were two
lines of native lancers, in dull red and blue, lined up the centre of
the steps. The carriages pulled up three at a time, and the guests went
flocking up the steps in the greenish silvery light to the top, where
the warm yellow light met them from the interior, also an aide-de-camp
as friend and guide to strangers, such as ourselves. Inside all was
highly entertaining and splendid, and Western with a good deal of the
Orient thrown in--I don't suppose any other country in the world could
give a show a patch on this--not even Egypt; the banqueting hall is
splendidly large and well proportioned;[17] with white pillars down the
sides supporting galleries. At the far end there is a raised dais with
red satin and gold couches and chairs, and mirrors and palms; above
these, white walls, and the King's portrait in red and blue and framed
in gold: and round the sides, under the pillars, are more full-length
portraits of Governors and their wives, Lord Elphinstone, Lady Munro,
The Marchioness of Tweedale, Wellesley, Napier, and Ettrick, Grant Duff,
Connemara, and others. Excepting the King's they all looked rather dark
against so much marble-white wall space. Overhead, I am told, there was
once a line of crystal chandeliers, which must have given a perfect
finish to the room; but these have been improved away for rather
insignificant modern lights, and all over the roof are these hideous
whirling electric fans which spoil the whole effect of the classic
Georgian style--the swinging punkah can at least be good to look at,
and even tolerable, if it is far enough off.

[17] 80 feet long, 60 feet broad. Built to commemorate the fall of
Seringapatan.

But here is a sketch of what I remember; the guests divided up the room,
blacks on one side, whites on the other, whether by accident or by
design I know not, I should think and hope by intention. (So sorry this
is not reproduced in colour.)

[Illustration]

Lord and Lady Ampthill then came in, and preceeded by aides-de-camp in
various uniforms, four abreast and at arm's length, marched up the
length of the room to the dais, with measured steps, not too short and
not too slow--a very effectively carried out piece of ceremony, for the
principals suited their parts well. Lord Ampthill is exceptionally tall,
he wore a blue Court coat, well set-off by the white knee-breeches and
stockings; and Lady Ampthill is taller than other ladies and is very
gracious. Perhaps you can make out in my sketch Lord Ampthill on the
dais talking to some of the house party, and the tall lady on the right,
talking to some of our party may stand for Lady Ampthill, escorted by
Major Campbell.

The fireworks after the reception were, in my humble opinion, very fine
indeed, but I confess my experience of these displays is extremely
limited. The effect was enhanced by the soft colourfulness of the
Eastern night, framed by great white arches round the verandah, and the
groups beneath these, of ladies, fair, and dark, in soft raiment.

As we came away the wide steps were covered with groups of ladies,
officers, and natives, standing and sitting, with arms and jewels, white
gloves, silks and laces glittering in moonlight or lost in shadow; above
on the terrace the glow of lamps from the hall shone on the last
departing guests, and the tall moonlit pillars led the eye up to the
blue night sky. I daresay five men out of six would have found the whole
show a bore, possibly even more tiresome than this account of it, but
our friend and his wife enjoyed it all, for they paint, and see things,
which makes all the difference.

2nd January.--Drove to Binney's for last time, and secured tickets to
Rangoon. The berths are not allocated till you get on board, a cheerful
arrangement: and they _are_ dear! Loafed about harbour watching many
cargoes and many people; tried in Blacktown to get women's draperies
such as I'd seen in Bangalore and Dharwar, but all we saw were more
crude in colour and overdone with patterns--couldn't get the simple
blues or reds with yellow or blue margins. Not an eventful day, but in
the afternoon we drove again to the sands at the mouth of the Adyar to
collect shells and we saw more than we could carry away in memory,
watched the crabs scuttling over the sands like mice, and into regular
burrows in the sand, collected seeds from various trailing plants, and
saw a glorious sunset--someone told me Indian sunsets were poor things!
and made a jotting or two, too hasty to be of use to the world in
general.

3rd.--Painted, and wrote these notes in spite of mosquitoes and these
three times cursed crows.



CHAPTER XXIII


4th.--Half-an-hour's drive across the town brought us to the harbour,
and then we had a hot walk to the end of the wharf. Such a struggle
there was at the slip down to the small boats; four or five boats were
trying to land natives, and at the same time as many were trying to take
passengers and natives off. It would have been impossible for a single
lady. The native police in neighbourhood were of no use. I'd have
thought British port authorities would have done something better. We
rowed out to the steamer in the middle of harbour, our four rowers
bucking in for a place, and scrambled on to the ship's gangway, without
any attention from anyone on board. Other boats with native passengers
trying to scramble over us required a shove and a heave or two on my
part to keep them off. I'd made a great effort to secure berths clearly
and distinctly at the British India S. S. Agency, made various
expeditions to the agents to see that all was right, but when we got to
our cabin some young men were also allotted berths in it. They were most
polite, but all the same it was uncomfortable for them and for us to
have all their belongings moved.

... Four was the hour to sail. Now it is six and no sign of up anchor.
But why hurry? There is life enough to study for weeks, the main deck a
solid mass of natives, all sitting close as penguins or guillemots, each
family party on a tiny portion of deck, with their mats and tins and
brass pots beside them, and what a babble! and pungent smell of South
Indian humanity.

The sun goes down and Madras resolves itself into a low coast line,
purple against streaks of orange and vermilion: some palms and a few
chimney stalks break the level of houses and lower trees. The _Renown_
lies near us waiting to go for the Prince to convoy him to Rangoon; its
white hull looks green against the orange sunset.

[Illustration]

There was nothing but necessity made the old settlers drop anchor here;
a bend of the Silvery Cooum[18] gave them slight protection inland, but
there was nothing in the way of roads or shelter. The sandy coast is
dead straight. They did not know the qualities of the surf at first. Two
experienced men were sent ashore from the "Globe" in 1611, and were
promptly swamped and one nearly drowned; that was further up this
Coromandel coast, when the Company was only beginning to try to find
footing here. It was not till 1639 that they bought the land where
Madras stands to-day, for the Company. These old fellows coming back
to-day from the sea would not see any great change in the appearance of
the land; the trail of smoke going levelly south-west from a tall smoke
stalk would be the most conspicuous change.

[18] The Cooum is silvery to look at, but it is by its smell that people
remember it.

Two steamers lie near us, just heaving perceptibly, as if breathing
before taking the high road. Outside it blows a very little, a warm,
damp wind; there will be a roll in the Bay of Bengal and we will head
into it, and the natives' jollity will change to moans. I should think
the ship's boats in emergency could hold a sixth of them. I hear there
are some 2500, the three decks are choked with them fore and aft. Our
tiny saloon and cabins are right astern and to port and starboard, and
forward of it, are these natives; we are only separated from them by a
board or two with a port-holes in it, and, the difference of fare! We
pay ninety rupees each to Rangoon and they pay one each; if we open our
port we might as well be all together, except that they get the first of
the air. Unless we keep the blind pulled, night and day, we are
subjected to "their incorrigible stare," which the Portuguese pioneers
found so remarkable; their odour and noise is intolerable. For my _Boy_
I've paid twelve rupees, and he has the same deck space as the other
natives, that is, barely sufficient room to lie down in. The only deck
space we first class passengers have, is above the saloon, where the
second class deck is, on the P. & O., a nice enough place if it wasn't
overlooked by the natives amidship, and over-smelt by the whole 2500
coolies. Fortunately to-day, the 6th, there's a lovely north-east breeze
which takes away some of the monkey-house smell and noise. We count that
there are forty natives in each of the two alleyways on either side of
our cabins, so eighty rupees (a rupee is 1s. 4d.), less profit to the
Company, and we could all have been decently comfortable. But even
without moving them, one A.B. told off to keep them quiet would have
allowed us to sleep at night.

Sunday morning.--All night, all day, whiffs of pure north-east air, and
solid native; alternating, and all the time rising and falling,
shouting, singing, arguing, quarrelling.

Heaven be thanked we have a pleasant enough company among ourselves, and
the natives don't intrude more than parts of their bodies into the
saloon doors and ports when the squeeze at the outside gets very strong,
but they gaze stolidly on us at meals through the ports and doors!

It is pleasant enough on deck this Sunday afternoon under the awning. We
have a piano in the middle of the deck, and a Captain in the East Yorks
is playing--he was one of the men who so politely, in fact anxiously,
vacated the cabin he found occupied by a married couple; four men play
bridge near us, and as we are not a large company we have all got to
know each other--the common infliction of the native crowd makes a bond
of sympathy.

A young Englishman beside me is overhauling Madras B. A. Exam, papers,
and works hard, so that he may have a clear holiday in Burmah. He hands
me some of the papers to read, essays on Edwin Harrison's "Life of
Ruskin." They are both funny and pathetic; we laughed at the absurd
jumble of ideas in some, and felt sorry that natives should have to
study the thoughts and sayings of a man, who, after all, did not himself
understand the very simple beauties of a Whistler. Then I dropped on an
essay, eight pages foolscap, in scholarly handwriting, with perfect
grasp of subject, and concentrated, pithy expression. I could with
difficulty accept the assurance that it was written by a Madrassee and
not by some famous essayist! So, perhaps, if one Eastern can grasp
Ruskin's best thoughts it may be worth the effort of trying to teach
thousands who can't? Is it not folly, this anglicising of the Indians,
Irish, and Scots by the English schoolmaster, who knows as little of
Sanscrit as of Erse Scottis or gaelic; calls England an island! and
wishes to teach everyone "The ode to a Skylark," "Silas Marner,"[19] and
"Tom Browne's Schooldays." (My own dear countrymen you will not be taken
in by this chaff for ever, will you?) Why not study Campbells tales in
gaelic, or Sir David Lindsay, or the Psalms by Waddell or Barbeurs
Bruce.

[19] Prescribed by Indian university curriculum.

Just to make the groups on deck complete we ought to have children
playing, but there are none with us, their route lies always westwards;
they would be a pretty foil to the serious restfulness of the deck
scene. Now a lady sings "Douglas tender and true," and sings it so well,
we could weep were we not so near port; a group in the stern beside the
wheel watches a glorious sunset, which fills the space we sit in under
the awning with a dull red and across the light a missionary paces,
aloof and alone; a melancholy stooping silhouette against the glorious
afterglow--to and fro--to and fro--a lanky, long-haired youth, his hands
behind his back, looking into his particular future, a life devoted to
convert the gracious, charitable followers of Gautauma Buddha to--his
reading of Christ's simple teaching.



CHAPTER XXIV

RANGOON GYMKHANA


[Illustration]

January 7th.--We danced--I danced with ladies in Gainsborough hats,
their feathers tickling my eye, in pork pie hats, and Watteaus, and
picture hats like sparrows' nests; and there were little dumpy ladies
and tall, stately, Junos, _i.e._, compared with Eastern women. And it
was so funny to see men in suits of blue serge, tweeds, or tussore silk,
whirling round with ladies in muslins of every lovely colour. If the men
had only worn bowlers and smoked cigars, how it would have taken me back
to student days in Antwerp at Carnival time, not so jolly of course, but
very different from anything at home. And how stately are the
club-rooms--really they are well off these relations of ours "Out
East"--don't believe their groans altogether! it is hot now, they say,
but look at the fun they have, especially ladies. There are ladies'
billiard-rooms, card-rooms, music-rooms, reading-rooms inside, and
outside, lawns and flowers and attendants to fetch and carry, and swains
to admire them, and they have latest dresses, dances, balls, riding,
tennis all the time, and Royalties and Viceroys at intervals. Compare
this to the humdrum life of our women in Scotland with their brothers
and cousins, "A wede awa" to the uttermost ends of the Empire, and never
a Viceroy or Royalty of any description to show above their level
horizon--that is intolerable.

Then home to dinner, very full of interest and wonder at the sights of
the day, and scribbled the above dance scene, and dressed and walked
over the way in the soft dust in the soft moonlight and dined with
friends and relations, and talked in the dark teak-wood bungalow of
other friends and relations and home things, and looked at curios and
sketches; and little lizards looked out at us from the walls, and a huge
piebald fellow up in the shadows of the wooden roof, a foot and a half
long if an inch, a _Chuck-Tu_, didn't frighten our hosts in the least!
Then across the strip of moonlit, to sleep my lone, under the hospitable
teak roof-trees of "a Binning!"

Here there seems to be a hiatus in these notes of mine--it is rather a
jump from the British India steamer to a Gymkhana dance? But such a
break gives relief to the mind, and has sometimes even a dramatic
effect. I have twice observed such breaks in journals; the first in
Edinburgh, in the journal of the City Clerk. The break occurs when the
Provost and Clerk lay cold on Floddon Field, and the entries are taken
up in a new hand with a minute which begins--"Owing to a rumour of a
disaster in the south." The second break, I saw the other day in the
Madras records. It occured when the French called at Fort George in
1746. The break in my journal is simply the result of yesterday being so
full of interest that I did not write up till this forenoon, after a
pause for rest and refreshment.

So to hark back. The landing at Rangoon and coming up the river was the
best part of the journey from Madras. For descriptions of coming up the
Rangoon river see other writers. G. and I had been kept awake for
several nights by the natives[20] and finally had to shut our port and
snatched an hour or two of sleep without air so as to be without
noise,--this after various expeditions to try and quiet the beasts
outside, but nothing but drowning would have stopped their horrid
exuberance.

[20] Native in Burmah stands for native of India, not a Burman.

The peace that you feel in Iona seemed to lie over the country as we
came up the Rangoon river.

The Golden Pagoda stands up very simply and beautifully above the flat
country, and beneath it palms and ship's masts look very lowly things
indeed. It seems a perfect conductor of thought from earth to sky; the
gentle concave curves of its sides are more natural lines of repose than
those of our challenging spires. I had been prepared for
little--pictures and photographs have dwarfed the thing--they do not
give the firmness and delicacy in form and the sentiment that it
inspires. It is like the Burmans religion; there's a sense of happiness
in the way its wide gold base amongst nestling green palms and foliage
of trees gradually contracts till the point rises quietly against the
blue and fleecy clouds, where the glint of gold and flash from jewels
seems to unite heaven and earth.

The spire is 372 feet, two feet higher than St Paul's, but the terrace
from which it rises is 166 feet from the level of the ground, and as
lower Burmah is very flat, it is visible twenty-two miles from Rangoon.

It was unmitigatedly hot when we got from the tender to the wharf.
Relatives who met us said it was their hottest weather, so we hugged the
shade. But this was unseasonable, it ought to be fairly cool at the time
of year. We drove in gharries a mile or two to the bungalow, through
crowds of _natives_ of India--how ugly they look compared with the
Burmese! Though why one should compare them at all is beyond reason, for
the Burman is to an Indian as a Frenchman to a Hottentot.

After dividing ourselves and baggage between two bungalows on either
side of Tank Road, we drove with Mrs E. to see the lake and her
favourite views of the Pagoda; and--I was about to contradict myself!
Have I not said India was the most perfectly fascinating country for
picturesque scenes of people and streets, and trees and parks and
colour! Now, I withdraw; for Burmah puts India quite in the shade!

So you, my artist friends, who have no Academical leanings (you are
few), come here, right away, though you have to work your passage on a
B.I., or have even to travel first on that line as we did! You can come
direct by the Henderson line for £36, sailing from Glasgow or
Liverpool--£36 for a month on the blue sea, on a comfortable ship with
lots of deck-room. This line gives specially reduced fares for
_bona-fide_ missionaries, so artists _should_ be taken free--over page
is one of their liners.

In Madras I saw Mr Talbot Kellie's book on Burmah and thought Burmah had
been "done," and it was futile for other artists to try to paint
anything new there. But thanks be, we are each given our own way of
seeing things, though perhaps not the same patience to put them down; so
when I saw the wide stairs and the arcades up to the Pagoda, and the
terrace or platform from which it rises, it was new as could be to me,
and as if it had never been painted or described before.

Here follow notes I see about painting--much talk and little done, owing
to the novelty and variety of sights, and the relaxing damp warmth of
the climate. The mean temperature yesterday was 90° with damp air and a
stuffy, thunderous feeling and the dust hanging in the air under bilious
looking clouds, which made people talk of earthquakes--we perspire, we
melt--we run away in rivers, and our own particular temperature is 100°.
How annoying to feel unfit to paint when there is so much to do at
hand.... Started fairly early this morning for the Pagoda, and sat
outside it in a gharry pulled up opposite the entrance porch and steps.
It takes courage to attempt to sketch such a scene of shifting beauty!
These architectural details, carvings in gold and colour, ought to be
ground at till the whole is got by heart--then brush and colour let go,
with a prayer to the saints.

[Illustration]

The "gharry" makes an excellent perambulating studio--it is a small,
high, wooden cab, with little lattice shutters instead of glass which
pull up all round so that you can let down those you need for view, aft
or forward, or at either side, and pull up the others and thus have
privacy and light and air, and you need no stove or hot pipes, for you
could roast a partridge inside!

A "native" policeman ("a native," be it clearly understood, in Burmah
stands for a native of India) hovered round as if he thought my stopping
in mid-street opposite the Pagoda porch might be his affair, but my Boy
explained on this occasion that I was a "Collector," why, I do not know;
however it had the desired effect, but it seemed to me rather a drop
from his usual title of Chief Justice to a mere Collector.

[Illustration: Entrance to the Shwey Dagon Pagoda, Rangoon.]

It grew so hot! and then hotter, and the picturesque flower sellers on
the eleven white steps outside put their white torch cheroots into their
mouths--you could see neither red ash nor smoke in such light--folded
their parasols and took their roses and baskets and went up the steps
and sat themselves down in the porch in the shade and were as pretty as
ever--Tadema's best pictures on the move!

Through the Arabesque wood carvings of the arcade roof, away up the
flight of steps, shafts of light came through brown fretted teak-wood
and fell on gold or lacquered vermilion pillars and touched the
stall-holders and their bright wares in the shadows on either side of
the steps, and lit up groups of figures that went slowly up and down the
irregular steep stairs, their sandals in one hand and cheroot in the
other. Some carried flowers and dainty tokens in coloured papers, others
little bundles of gold leaf, or small bundles of red and yellow twisted
candles to burn. Their clothes were of silks and white linen, the
colours of sweet peas in sun and in shadow, and the air was scented with
incense and roses and the very mild tobacco in the white cheroots.

It was hot in the gharry!

To my surprise an English Buddhist lady I know, pulled up in front of me
and got out of her carriage with a large paint box, took off her very
neat brown shoes at the foot of the steps and went up in brown open-work
stocking soles, and began to paint higher up the flights of steps, and a
little crowd of polite Burman children gathered behind her. And a
Britisher, a Scot, I think, came down, a little dazed-looking and
delighted, and melting, and spoke to me, a stranger, out of sheer wonder
and _per fervidum_ at the charm of colour, and of course we agreed that
it all "beggared description." I must have seen people of many races and
religions going up the steps, Chinese, Shans, Kachins, Mohammedans,
Hindoos, Americans, French, and British. I think in the space of two or
three hours one of almost every nation must go up; not that there is any
crowd at all, but the people are wonderfully varied, the greater number
being, of course, exquisitely clothed Burmese.

To lunch at 10 o'clock, which is considered late here, in my bachelor
friends' quarters--poor bachelors so far from home and home comforts!
_Figurez-vous_, a princely hall, princely bedrooms, splendid teak floors
and walls hung with many trophies, heads of tiger, of buffalo, sambhur,
gaur, tsine boar, etc., etc., and in the long dining-room a sideboard
gleaming with silver, white damask, white roses, and red lilies, perfect
waiters and a perfect chef behind the scene--upstairs, verandahs spread
with lounges and long chairs, tables with latest papers and latest
books, and if this is not enough, they have every sort of social
function within arm's length.--They are not to be only pitied, for all
their punkahs, and the damp heat.

Rangoon, 8th January.--The Shan Camp.

To this we were invited by Mr B. S. Carey, C.I.E. He dined with us at
the E.'s bungalow and told us much of interest of the people he had
brought from these states that lie between Burmah and China. As
Acting-Superintendent in place of Sir George Scott,[21] he has brought
these people's representatives to meet their Royal Highnesses The Prince
and Princess of Wales. Mr Carey's brother, and Mr Fielding Hall were
also at dinner, and my bachelor host A. Binning, so between these people
and G.'s host and hostess, Mr and Mrs E., information about Burmah and
its dependencies, its social, commercial, or political prospects was
available at first hand and to any extent.

[21] Author of "The Burman, his Life and Notions--a delightful
description of Burmah, Shway Yoe."

But to the Shan Camp, in our best array, the ladies in toilets most
pleasing to Western ladies, if not to Shan Princesses--we drove a mile
or so into the country, turned off the high road by a new cutting into
the jungle, and came on a clearing of perhaps two acres surrounded by
bamboos and trees, and in the twinkling of an eye we were transported
from European Rangoon to tribal life in jungle land. A village of pretty
cane houses had been built, and there were Princes and Princesses, and
Chieftains with their followings; I think there were thirteen different
tribes represented, and there were twenty times thirteen different
costumes. We were presented first to the Chiefs; they were in the most
magnificent, shimmering brown silk robes of state, all over gold and
precious stones, and had pointed seven-roofed pagoda crowns of gold.
There were three Princesses, willowy figures, one in an emerald-green
tight-fitting jacket of silk and clinging skirt, and a spray of jewels
and flowers in her black hair; she was pretty, by Jove she was, and at
anyrate uncommonly capable and shrewd looking. She had come about six
hundred miles to see their Royal Highnessess, had ridden three hundred
miles to Mr Carey's rendezvous up north-east, missed the party there,
rode on here post haste, other two hundred miles, and looked as if
another thousand wouldn't turn a hair--said hair was black and glossy
and dressed in a top knot, set off with a spray of diamonds and rubies!
I think she was considered the great lady of the day, as the country her
husband rules is in Chinese territory. The other ladies of the Shan
States were also beautifully dressed. Never in my life have I seen such
delicate blending of silks and faces and jewellery and flowers. I did
not know which was the more interesting, the gorgeousness and fantastic
form of the Princes' garments, or the exquisite harmonies and simplicity
of shape of the Princesses. The willowy emerald-green Princess, who
came from Fairyland, I am sure, shook hands with us and gave us tea and
sugar and cream and a buttonhole, heavily scented, likewise a cigar, and
if I hadn't had fever and could have spoken her language I'd have been
enchanted. But first I should have described the wonderful umbrellas
that ornamented the camp. When we got out of our carriage our ladies and
ourselves were escorted to the clearing, each by one of these potentates
with a liveried servant holding up one of these orange or white and
crimson umbrellas over us. The Princesses walked with the ladies and I
walked with an elderly Prince, with a jolly and kindly wrinkled face--it
felt so very odd to be walking in Western modern garments beside this
very old-world costume; his wings touched my shoulder, and the vane of
his pagoda-spired crown or hat waggled above my head.

Round the centre of the dealing, in a circle round us, were arranged
many retainers in tribal costumes; some of them held golden umbrellas,
others silver-mounted swords, spears, crossbows, and flags. The
arrangements and effect was so picturesque that it is to be hoped the
Prince and Princess will see these people in the same situation.

The various tribes danced each their characteristic dance; there were
too many to remember each distinctly. A bamboo instrument[22] with the
softest bell-like notes pleased me, and gentle but abrupt gong notes
were frequently struck. In some dances the dancers stood close together
in rows, hand in hand, and moved their feet and bowed their heads in
time to very sad music, which I was told was to represent marriage!
Another was full of movement and suggested a war dance, the dancers
whirled swords and postured; all the movements were silent and the music
low, with only occasional loud notes on gong and hollow bamboo, and so
were much in harmony with forest stillness and the shades of jungle
round the camp.

[22] Yang lam.

The most extraordinary dress was worn by the Padaung women, a kilt and
putties of dark cloth, with round the hips and upper part of kilt, many
rings of thin black lacquered cane; round the neck were so many brass
curtain-rings of graduated circumference, narrowing from the chest to
the ear, and so many of them that the neck had become so elongated that
the head either actually was dwarfed or seemed to be so small as to be
quite out of proportion to the body. Of course the proud wearer could
not move her head in the very least, and wore an expression like that of
a hen drinking.

Ten chiefs were present; I wrote down their names, but it is difficult
to decipher them now. There was the Sawbwa of Keng-tung, forty days'
journey from his capital east and south of Mandalay, and north of Siam;
the Sawbwa of Yawnghwe; the Sawbwa of Lawksak; and the Myosa of this
state, and the Myosa of that, and their wives. The Princess with the
green jacket was Sao Nang Wen Tip, wife of the ruler of the Chinese
state Keng-hung, and half-sister of the Sawbwa of Keng-tung; her journey
to Rangoon took fifty days; and she is well-known in western China and
our Shan States as a states-woman and woman of business. Her neat,
small, well-set on head, with pretty face and slightly oblique eyes, one
could not forget quickly--it was feline and feminine, and through and
through as a _poignarde ecossaise_. Her sister, Sao Nang Tip Htila, was
the only lady who rode on an elephant at the Delhi Durbar Procession.
She is also known as a clever business woman; at present she rules the
state of Keng Kham during the minority of her son. She lost her jewels
in the Hoogley on the road to Delhi Durbar, and thought that as nothing
to put against the satisfaction of having "shaken hands with the
King-Emperor's brother," the Duke of Connaught, the memory of whose
graciousness is treasured by the Shans to-day.

... G. and I went to the Pagoda and admired. It is the richest colour
I've seen in the world, and, please heaven, let me come back. Otherwise
Rangoon is not so very interesting; there are wide macadamised roads in
the European parts, with large, two-storied villas in dark-brown teak
wood on either side, with handsome trees in their compounds, thousands
of nasty raucous crows, and Indian servants everywhere, and a very few
Burmans. But the Pagoda is almost purely Burmese; a group of
sinister-looking southern Indian natives sometimes passes up or down the
steps in their dirty white draperies, and seem to bring an evil
atmosphere with them, and a band of our clean, sturdy red-necked
soldiers in khaki may go up, flesh and fire-eating sons of Odin, with
fixed glittering bayonets and iron heels clinking on the stone
steps--Gautama forgive us!--but they don't break the picture nearly so
much as the "natives," their frank expression is more akin to the
Burman's, they have not got the keen hungry look of the Indian; or the
challenging expression of some of our own upper classes.

Who can describe the soft beauty of the Pagoda platform--the sun-lit
square at top of the long covered stairway--with its central golden
spire supporting the blue vault of sky, surrounded at its base with
serene golden Buddhas in little temples of intricate carving, in gilded
teak and red lacquer, and coloured glass mosaic, with candles smoking
before them and flowers dying. The square is paved, and round the
outside against graceful trees and palms are more shrines and more
golden-marble Buddhas facing into the square, and some big bells hang on
carved beams, and children strike them occasionally with deers' horns,
half in play, half as a notice to the good spirits that they and their
seniors have been there to worship. They have a very soft, sweet tone,
and the crown of the sambhur's horn seems suited to bring it out. On the
pavement are some favoured chickens and some children and a dog or two,
and here and there devout people in silks, kneeling on the flags with
folded hands repeating the precepts of the Perfect Law of Gautama
Buddha. To overcome hatred with love, to subdue anger, to control the
mind, and to be kind to all living things, and to be calm. That this is
the greatest happiness, to subdue the selfish thought of I. That it is
better to laugh than to weep, better to share than to possess, better to
have nothing and be free of care than to have wealth and bend under its
burdens.

Such teachings we have at home; but the Buddhist believes too, what the
West forgets, what the old druid Murdoch, before he died, taught to
Columba on Iona: That all life in nature is divine, and that there is no
death, only change from one form to another. So they reverence trees and
flowers and birds and beasts, and each other, and believe that,

    "He prayeth best who loveth best
    All things both great and small."

therefore their happiness and calm and the look of peace on the faces of
the very old people, and their great kindness to each other and to
animals, and the little offerings you see to the spirits of trees.

It is very peaceful, for the repetitions of the worshippers in the open
air are not disturbing; and from far overhead comes a little tinkling
from the light Æolian bells moved by the breeze high up on the Hte. If
you look up you see the Hte against the blue. It is an elaborate piece
of metal work on the tip top of the pagoda; you cannot make out its
details but you can see it is made of diminishing hoops with little
pendant bells hung from these, that the wind rings sometimes; and you
are told that one little bell may be so bejewelled that it may be worth
£70, and the whole Hte that looks so light and delicate is really of
heavy golden hoops encrusted with jewels; for which a king of Upper
Burmah gave £27,000, and the Burmese people £20,000 more in voluntary
subscriptions and labour. This was since our occupation of Lower Burmah.

The priests in their yellow robes, draped like Roman Togas, come and go
just like other people; they are greatly reverenced, they teach all the
boys of the nation their faith, reading, writing and simple arithmetic,
but they do not proselytise or assume spiritual powers, nor do they act
in civil affairs, and they "judge not;" they live, or try to live a good
life, and to work out each his own salvation, and you may follow their
example if you please, but they won't burn you if you do differently or
think differently.... If any one wants to have the wrinkles rolled out
of his soul--let him _go_ and rest in the quiet, and sun, and simple
beauty of the Shwey Dagon Pagoda, with its tapering golden spire and the
blue sky above.

[Illustration]

[Illustration: A Sacred Lake near Rangoon.]



CHAPTER XXV

    "The blairin' trumpet sounded far,
    And horsemen rode weel graith'd for war."

_The Battle of Preston_.


The horsemen were mostly civilians such as two of our friends in these
bachelor quarters, and very smart they looked in their neat white
uniforms and white helmets with a glitter of gold lace. Another
attraction this for the young man from home; he may be only in commerce,
say in Rice, and yet may be of some official service on high days and
holidays, and prance on a charger with a sword like any belted knight.
The reason of the stir was, of course, the Prince's arrival.

Rangoon is all bedecked--_pandals_ at every turning--these are triumphal
arches with seats inside erected by the Burmese, Chinese, Indians,
Parsees, and children of Rangoon. They are all very brilliant and almost
as beautiful as boxes of crackers, and through these and the decorated
streets for days, have been driven rehearsals of the Prince and
Princess's procession. Only those behind the scenes can compute the work
that making these arrangements gave to the already overworked officials
in this trying climate. Yesterday they had the last rehearsal, when a
young member of the Lieutenant Governor's staff filled the part of the
Prince in the great reception tent or Shamiana. Various city dignitaries
were presented to him and made their bows, and to each of them in turn
he addressed gracious and suitable words, such as the following to Mr
Smith, known in Rangoon for his thriftiness: "Very pleased indeed to
meet you, Mr Smith. Allow me on behalf of my Royal Father, to thank
you, for the very excellent decorations you have made on your house and
compound in honour of our visit." And Mr Smith got quite red, for he had
not made any at all!

... The Prince and Princess came up the river early and landed at a
wharf and were led through a narrow canvas tunnel into a wide low
tent--so all danger of hats being spoiled by a shower or a squall was
avoided, also all spectacular effect. Perhaps it is idiocyncrasy, but I
can't help feeling that the crucial point of the Prince's tour was his
landing on his foreign possessions, say at Bombay or Rangoon; that the
landing should have been made magnificent and historic. Here was an
opportunity just such as there was at Bombay; all the material at hand
for a splendid spectacle, light, water, sky, ships, masts, boats,
wharfs, the most beautifully dressed crowds and people of every
nationality for background. A fraction of fancy was all that was
necessary to have set up the most magnificient composition,--something
to go down in the history of the country. But the Prince and Princess
were ushered through the canvas alley-way into a dim tent, full of damp
exhausted air, hired American chairs, and people in stiff Western
clothes, and sat on two high-backed chairs with their backs to the
little light and listened to speeches. It was a Royal pageant arranged
as we do these things at home by men of T square and double entry,
energy and goodwill. What is needed for such shows, in the first place,
is a knowledge of historical precedents, and imagination, then
organisation and reckless regard for weather, with say an artist, a
historian, a general, and a cashier, for working Committee.

There was a beautiful thing in the reception Shamiana, but you had to
have your eye lifting to note it. As you entered this tent from the town
side, there were on either side three tiers of Burmese ladies sitting
one above the other, their faces becomingly powdered with yellowish
powder, and their eyebrows strongly pencilled, and they each had a
yellow orchid in their black hair, and their dresses were of silks of
infinite variety of tint--primrose, rose, and delicate white--"soft as
puff, and puff, of grated orris root" and they glittered with diamonds
and emeralds, and each held a silver bowl marvellously embossed, filled
with petals of flowers and gold leaf. Their attitudes were studied to
their finger tips, and as the Prince and Princess went out they stood
and dropped a shower of petals before them.

The arrangements for the procession through the streets were perfect,
and the crowds in the streets were great! and best of all were the
groups of Burmese country people coming in to town in their bullock
carts, the rough dry wood of the wheels and arched sun-bitten covers in
such contrast to the family parties tucked up inside, in their short
white jackets and skirts and kilts of brightly coloured silks. How happy
they are, old and young--you begin to wish you had been born a Burman
when you hear their laughter and jollity. But I fear we will soon change
all that with our Progress and Law of orderly grab and necessary
ugliness. Everyone is on the move but the priests, for they do not take
part in worldly affairs.

There was a garden party at Government House in the afternoon. G. and
her hosts went. I was told I positively must not go without a frock-coat
and top hat, so I stayed at home. It is pretty far East here, so
frock-coats and toppers are necessary, at Bombay they are still worn
occasionally; there you might have seen Royalty at a garden party
actually chatting to men in pith helmets and tussore silks--gone at the
knee at that!

In the evening the park and lake were beautifully lit up, and a local
shower of rain came, just in time to put out half the lamps on the
trees, so there was not too much light, as I am sure there would have
been had some not been extinguished; but everyone moaned--said it was
"so sad" and "you should have seen it last time." There must have been
a vast concourse of people. We were in the Boat Club grounds, and it was
damp and hot. We waited about the lawn at the water's edge, and people
chatted and smoked away the evening. Everyone seemed very jolly, and to
know everybody else, and we were given the names of many people and the
letters after their names; they all had them, but one would need to live
in official circles for a long time to learn their meanings.

I thought of Whistler's "Cremorne Gardens" and his "Valparaiso," for
this was such a night effect as he could have painted, and so I thought
of The M'Nab's saying, "The night is the night if the men were the
men."--someone, a Neish perhaps, may see the connection of ideas here, I
admit it is slight.

[Illustration]

The Prince and Princess were floated across the calm water of the lake
in a fairy galley all over lamps. I made a jotting from recollection, so
I will put it in here. It had three spires and each spire had seven
roofs tapering to a Hte, and two great heads of paper geese were at the
bow, and hundreds of glowing lamps lit the Royal suite on board. Besides
the great state barge there were many boats fancifully decorated with
glowing arrangements of lamps and flowers. The prettiest, I thought,
a great water lily with a dainty little Burmese girl in green ("The
jewel in the lotus") in its petals, posturing and singing. The heavy
white petals in lamplight and rosy lights in the reddish buds and leaves
against the dark water were charming, and the Burman in charge, with the
usual red strip of cloth round his black hair, brown face, and white
jacket, caught a little of the warm light and so blended into the
picture. Burmese crews in dug-out war canoes, towed the Royal barge
across the lake, and as each canoe crossed the paths of light reflected
from the illuminated boats, the figures paddling stood out clearly and
were then lost in darkness. They sang in full chorus with a reed piping
between each line, liquid quiet music; who was it said--like the sound
of grass growing? For a moment the charm was broken by the brass band
behind us beginning, but mercifully some one stopped it, and the Royal
passengers landed to gentle native music.

[Illustration: H.R.H. Prince and Princess of Wales landing at the
  Boat Club, Rangoon]

Here is, as nearly as possible, in colour, what I remembered of the
Prince and Princess landing on the lawn, and neither more nor less, I
hope--but one is so apt to put in more from careless habits of
accuracy--to count the spokes of the moving wheel.

The words the crews sang were of "Our King Emperor, who is of the
lineage of World Emperors (Mandat), and who on the lustrous throne of
Britain was crowned." They compare our King to the resplendent Indian
sun; "Our King Emperor" begins each stanza with the catch of the stroke,
or rather, the dig of the paddle. "Our King Emperor, who enjoys his
Imperial pleasures in the golden palace[23] in London, and with
especially distinguished intellectual powers rules over a kingdom whose
inhabitants are like the Nimmanarati Gods delighting in self created
pleasures.... The illustrious Royal couple come from the palace of
flowers over distant seas in the _Renown_ surrounded on all sides by the
blue expanse of wave after wave, through the Indian Empire escorted by
Guards of honour, and amidst echoes of the Royal salute from the
Artillery.... For long life extending over a hundred years for our
sovereign's heir-apparent and for his Royal consort, the Princess of
Wales, who is like a wreath of the much prized Tazin (orchid) flowers on
a bed of roses...." It is pretty in bits, I think, the blue expanse,
wave after wave, and the wreath of Tazin on a bed of roses quite take my
fancy.

[23] All the Burmese royal residencies were and are still covered with
gilding. Shwey or gold, is also a Burmese term for royalty.

The illuminations, like the reedy music, went out slowly, and the brass
band had its turn and pom-pomed away finely, as the Prince and Princess
stood a little, on a knoll under the Club trees, in a glow of hundreds
of lamps. Their coming down the winding path from the knoll was
picturesque. I've a thumb-nail jotting of it, our people's faces on
either side were so enthusiastic, and the Prince looked so pleased and
the Princess looked so handsome and queenly, and the cheering--each man
seemed to think depended on himself alone. It was really very pretty,
the ladies' dresses, and uniforms and many black coats and the lamps on
the trees made a gay piece of colour. We do shine on occasions, we
people of the Occident, but the Burmese shine all the time.

   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .

17th.--Now we are moving on, up the river, by the Irrawaddy Flotilla Co.
paddle boat, instead of going to Mandalay by train and down by boat as
is more customary, this for the reason that all the comfortable bogie
carriages are away north with the Prince's following, and night in an
old carriage is not to our tastes.

We go south down this Rangoon River a little way, then about sixty miles
from the sea, cut across the Delta west by the Bassein Creek, and get
into the navigable Irrawaddy, spending a night on the way tied up in the
creek at a place where, I am told, we will probably be attacked by a
very powerful tribe of mosquitoes, then next day higher up we will,
according to Messrs Cook, see mountains again!

[Illustration: Sunset on the Irrawaddy]



CHAPTER XXVI


17th January.--On the Irrawaddy Flotilla Company's S.S. "Java"--after
our British India S.S. experience it is delightful, the quiet utterly
soothing. It is hot it is true--hot as in the hot weather they say, but
the air is clean on the river.

We are now on the Bassein Creek, twenty-five miles long, going across
the Delta west from Rangoon River to the Irrawaddy to steam up it for
five days, tying up at night. It is better even than we were told!

This steamer is long, low, and wide decked, with a nice saloon forward
on the upper deck, eight cosy cabins on either side, and a promenade in
front of them, on the fo'csle head as it were. Aft, divided from us by
the pantry and a wire partition, there is a long stretch of deck going
right to the stern, all covered by a roof; on this deck sit and lie
Burmans, singly or in family groups, in pretty silks, on neat mats and
mattresses and pillows with tidy little bundles of luggage beside them.

We do not stop steaming to-night, for we have barely enough of the flood
to take us over the shallow midway part of the creek, where the east and
west tides meet, so as the sun went below the flat shore and reeds, and
it grew dark, the search-light on the lower deck was turned on.

Now we have wonderful theatrical pictures continually
changing--bluey-green round pictures framed by the night, first on one
bank then on the other, as the light sweeps from side to side, and
always down its rays a continuous shower of golden insects seems to come
rushing towards us. In the dark behind the lantern, the deck below is
crawling with them. The trees we light up on the banks have the green of
lime-lit trees on the stage, and the same cut out appearance. Fantastic
boats suddenly appear out of the velvet darkness. They have high sterns
elaborately carved, and the red teak wood and the brown bodies of the
rowers pushing long oars glow in the halo of soft light; other figures
resting on their decks are wrapped up in rose and white and green
draperies, and each soft colour is reflected quivering in the ripple
from the oars.

By the way, as we slept the Bassein mosquitoes did come on board, and
answered their description--they do raise lumps! Horses have to be kept
in meat safes on shore, and they say you can tell a man who has lived in
the district years afterwards, by the way he slips into a room sideways,
and closes the door after him. Two or three bites make a whole limb
swell; therefore travellers, bring mosquito curtains if you travel here
for pleasure.

18th.--Fresh--cool--sun--and this is a wide river in Fairyland, for the
colours of foliage, water, and sky are too delicate and bright for any
real country I have ever seen. Where, in reality, do you see at one
glance, delicate spires in gold and white rising from green foliage, and
dainty bamboo cottages of matting and teak; and women in colours as gay
as butterflies, coming from them into the morning sun; and fishermen in
hollowed logs with classic stems and sterns, their clothing of the
colour of China asters, their faces coppery gold, and their hair black
as a raven's wing, drawing nets of rusty red, of the tint of birch twigs
in winter, out of muddy water enamelled with cerulean.

Every now and then you meet with an extra big bit of fairyland coming
down stream in the shape of a native ship with high crescent stern and a
mat house near its low bow; all in various tints of a warm brown teak.
The crew stand and row long oars and sing as they swing, and you think
of Vikings, Pirates, and Argosies.... But down in the lower deck beside
Denny's engines it feels quite homely, as if you were going "doon the
water" in sunny June--the engines running as smoothly and quietly as if
they were muscles and bones instead of hard steel and 900
H.-P.--engineers, engines, and hull all frae Glasgie, all from banks of
old Cleutha.

... Now the river widens to nearly a mile, and the tops of ranges of
hills appear over the plains. What variety you have in the course of two
half days--yesterday amongst crowds and houses and ocean going craft,
to-day the calm of the open country with fresh, balmy air, and only
river boats.... Here comes difficult navigation though the river is so
wide; and we ship a pilot who comes off from a spit of sand in a dug-out
canoe.... We surge round hard aport then astarboard, following the
channel, through overfalls and eddies like the Dorris More or Corrie
Bhriechan in good humour, and there are a few sea swallows to keep us in
mind of the sea. It is pleasant to hear the rush, and the calm, of tide
race, alternating.

[Illustration]

We stop at a village on the river side, and there's a pageant of little
boats, a little like Norwegian prams, perhaps sampans is the nearest
name for them; they are brightly coloured. The only passenger besides
ourselves, Mr Fielding Hall,[24] leaves our steamer here, which we
greatly regret; he has told us a little about Burmah, and something of a
book he has now in the press, "A Nation at School," and we would very
willingly hear more. I gather that its purport is that the Burmans under
our rule are really going forward, and that our organisations,
hospitals, and factories in Rangoon are proofs of this, though they
appear, at the first glance, to be the opposite and that "_toute est
pour le mieux_...." I am painting now in the cabin he vacated, and ought
to be inspired! This Java makes a perfect yacht--granted a cabin
apiece--but even with two in a cabin it is very A.1.

[24] The author of "The Soul of a People," an exquisite description of
Burmese life.

The colouring and sandbanks this first day are undoubtedly suggestive of
the Nile, but the Irrawaddy is wider; the sand edge falls in the same
kind of chunks; the Nile is silvery and blue, with colourless shadows,
here everywhere rainbow tints spread out most delicately, and here
instead of Egyptians in floppy robes you have refined people exquisitely
dressed. As the river is low, we do not see much beyond the edge of the
banks. They are topped with high grass and reeds and low palm ferns, and
over these appear cane matting roofs of cottages and fine trees.

Paints feel poor things, and a camera can't get these wide effects, at
least mine won't--a cinematograph would be the thing. Every five minutes
a new river scene unrolls itself. At present, as I look from my large
cabin-window, I see a belt of feathery grass, and then the blue sky. A
flight of white herons rise, and the sand throws yellow reflected light
under their wings; a long, dug-out canoe passes down with a load of
colour, red earthenware pots forward, a copper-faced man amidship, in
white jacket and indian-red kilt. He is paddling, behind him are green
bananas, and in the stern a lady sits in pink petticoat and white
jacket. The clothes of men and women are somewhat similar; the man's
coloured "putsoe," or kilt, often of tartan, is tied in a knot in front
of his waist, and comes down to the middle of his calf. The woman tucks
her longer skirt or "tamaine," above her bosom, as you might hitch a
bath-towel, and it falls rather tightly to her ankles, and both men and
women wear a loose white cotton jacket, which just comes to their waist,
with wide sleeves that come below the waist. The men wear their hair
long, tied up with a bright silk scarf, and the women wear theirs coiled
on the top of their heads with a white crescent comb in it, and often a
bunch of yellow orchids. I've heard Europeans say there is little to
distinguish the men from the women in figure or dress: but, to me, their
figures and faces seem very prettily distinguished.

[Illustration]

We stop the night at Henzada, and dine on deck, shut off from the night
by a glass partition. The captain tells us how in 1863 the Company was
formed to take over from the Government four river steamers previously
used for carrying troops and stores; and how the fleet has steadily
grown with the development of the province until it now consists of 360
vessels, of all sorts and sizes.

Captain Terndrup also tells us of the occupation of Upper Burmah. He
brought down the last of the Europeans before we attacked Upper Burmah,
and took up the Staff of our army. Government hired these Flotilla ships
for the purpose. He also had to do with the beginning of these gold
dredgings in Northern tributaries of the Irrawaddy, which are to make
mountains of gold!

A new passenger joins here, a Woods and Forest man. He is full of
interesting information about both Lower and Upper Burmah, the Mergui
Archipelago and natural history.

We are lying one hundred yards off the shore. From the jungle comes the
sound of Burmese music. A Pwé is being held--a theatrical entertainment
given by someone to someone in particular, and to anyone else who likes
to attend; generally, in the open air, they go on a whole moonlight
night.

20th February.--Almost afraid to get up--the last two days so full of
beautiful scenes--positively fear a surfeit--sounds nonsense but it is
true to the letter.

Cool and sunny in the morning, the river violet, and the sun faint
yellow through wisps of rising mist. We are coming to a village on the
bank, palms and trees behind it, and a white pagoda spire rising from
them, and one in gold above the village. The cottage roofs are of
shingle, buff-coloured and grey, with a silvery sheen. People are coming
down the dried mud-bank and across the sand to meet us, red lacquered
trays of fruit and vegetables on their heads, and some with their
baggage on their heads--their clothes of most joyous colours--

    "The world is so full of such beautiful things,
    I am sure we should all be as happy as kings."

to quote Robert Louis Stevenson, and so these cheery villagers, with
their flowers and pretty garments, seem to think. Here is one nation in
the world that has attained peace if not happiness: that has preserved
the happy belief of the Druids and all primitive peoples, of the
relationship of the inorganic to the organic, which scientists now
accept and divines begin to consider. Mr Fielding Hall[25] said the
other evening "their ideal is untenable in a world of strenuous
endeavour and capitalism"--they, of course, do not believe in strenuous
endeavour or capitalism, and laugh at "work for work's sake." But we
have brought the great "law of necessity" to them, and they must come
out of their untenable happiness and fall in line with the advance of
civilisation, and give up flowers and silks and simple beauty and
cultivate smoke stacks. Our occupation of Burmah really does these
people good; witness the hospitals in Rangoon, and the veil of soot from
its factories!

[25] But see this author's latest book "The Inward Light"--a most
exquisite description of what the Burman believes is the teaching of
Buddha.

Within a hundred years I can see a few odd Burmans going about with hair
long and some little suggestion of the old times, a red silk tie
perhaps, and a low collar. Foolish fellows, with quaint ideas about
simplicity of life, fraternity, and jollity, and old world ideals of
beauty. They will be called artists, or Bohemians, men without any firm
belief in the doctrine of necessity, or of the beauty of work for work's
sake; men who, when they get to heaven, will say, "First rate, for any
sake don't spoil it--don't make it strenuous at any price!"

   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .

We go ashore, the Captain and I, and Mr Buchanan, the Woods and Forest
man. The air is brisk and the sun hot--such a change from Rangoon. We
climb the clay steps and walk along the tiny village to the native
(Indian) store, to buy a famous headache medicine for G. It is the
principal thing they sell. The owner of the store got the recipe from a
British Medico, and sells it now all over Burmah, to the tune of 1,300
rupees profit per month--if I may believe my informant! Burmese suffer
a great deal from headaches; the sun is strong, and they don't wear
hats. There were six native clerks occupied with the sale of this
nostrum. I deposited my half rupee for six doses--I'd have taken a ton
with hope some years ago.

Then Mr B. showed us his teak logs tethered alongside the banks, waiting
for high water to take them on their road south. Some logs are said to
take nine years to come down from the upper reaches to Rangoon. Then he
rode away on a pretty white pony, first asking me to come and stay in
the jungle with him, and don't I wish I could. You feel inclined to stop
at Henzada for ever, it is so picturesque and fresh, and the walks by
the river under the high trees are very pretty, and there's no dustiness
or towniness.

I am sorry Mr Buchanan went; there's much to ask, about what he knew; of
trees and beasts and people, or of the geology of these mountains that
are beginning to appear to our left and right: to the west, the southern
spine of the Arrakan Mountains, and to the east, the ranges of the Shan
Highlands, which divide the Irrawaddy valley from the valley of the
Salwin river.[26]

[26] For short concentrated descriptions of Burmah and Shan States,
_see_ Holdich's "India."

I ought to be painting these boats that pass--but there's
breakfast-bell--boats my friends, with the colours of Loch Fyne skiffs,
as to their sails and woodwork, a little deeper in colour, perhaps, and
set off with brighter figures, with here and there a rose pink turban or
white jacket. The hulls have a quaint dignity about them, and the
carvings on their sterns are as rich as the woodwork in a Belgian
cathedral.

Prome.--The sandbanks withdraw, and the wooded ranges of blue hills show
more firmly in the background. It is as if we were at the beginning of a
very wide Norwegian valley. Fishermen's mat shelters break the monotony
of some long sandbanks--isolated signs of life, each on its sharply-cast
purple shadow; a naked boy and his sister run along the freshly broken
edge of a sandbank, and wave to us.

Round, bend after bend, each a splendid delight to the eye--till two
o'clock we look, and look, loath to leave the deck, though our eyes are
sore and appetites keen--then lunch, watching the passing scenes--and
Prome.

[Illustration]

Looking out of our windows, to our left across the river, the scenery
reminds me of loch Suinnart or loch Swene in Argyll: there are knolly
hills, with woodcock scrub, and terns, or sea-swallows, dipping in the
current. To the right the shore is flat, then rises steeply to the road
on the bundar, above which we see the tops of brown teak bungalows, set
amongst rich green trees like planes, and beyond these again, stand grey
stemmed teak trees, and over all, the deep blue sky, and the Shwe Sandaw
Pagoda spire glittering with gold, with lower spires of marble
whiteness.

Pagoda spires are all along the river side every mile or two, but they
do not bespeak a population; most of them are in ruins, they are simply
built with sun-dried bricks, some are white-washed, others gilt, only
the famous pagodas are ever repaired, for a Burman obtains more evident
merit by building a new one. To judge by their number, one might think
there must be so many people that game could not abound, but this is not
the case at all.

We go ashore by the gangways (two broad planks) past Indian coolies and
Burmese laden with bales and boxes slung from either end of bamboos
balanced across their shoulders, through ramparts of bales and sacks
piled on the sand and gravel shore. On either side of the path there are
women sitting with snacks of Burmese food to sell to travellers,
sugar-cane, sweet cakes, cheroots, soda-water, and ngapi; this is a
great Burmese delicacy and has a peculiar smell! It is composed of
pounded putrid fish--as unpleasant to us as a lively old Stilton-cheese
would be to a Burman.

Up the bank some forty feet we find we are again in the track of the
Royal Procession! There are tiny decorations going up amongst the trees.
A triumphal arch, quite twenty feet high, is being covered with coloured
paper and tinsel, and a line of flags and freshly cut palm leaves leads
to the little siding on the line that goes to Rangoon. The place is so
pretty that you feel it is a pity that its natural features should be
disturbed by ornament however well intentioned.

We go to the pagoda and climb slowly up the steps, for they are high and
steep, and at every flight there are exquisite views out over the jungle
of trees, palms, and bamboo, and knolly "Argyll hills," and looking up
or down the stairs are more pictures; on both sides are double rows of
red and gold pillars, supporting an elaborately panelled teak roof, with
carvings in teak picked out with gold and colour. Groups of people with
sweet expressions, priests, men, women, and children pass up and down.
On the platform there is heat and a feeling of great peace, the subdued
chant of one or two people praying, the cluck of a hen, the fragrance of
incense, and now and then the deep soft throb of one of the great bells,
touched by a passing worshipper with the crown of a stag's horn. There
are spaces of intense light, and cool shadows and shrines of glass
mosaic, inside them Buddhas in marble or bronze--the bronzes are
beautiful pieces of _cire perdu_ castings--flowers droop before them,
and candles are melting, their flame almost invisible in the sunlight,
and two little children play with the guttering wax.

[Illustration]

As we come down the stairs we meet khaki-clad Indian soldiers, with high
khaki turbans, and indecently thin shanks in blue putties. They do not
fit their uniforms or boots, or the surroundings, and only the sergeants
seem to feel their rifles less than a burden. They are told off to posts
in the jungle at each stage of the ascent, and we feel our retreat is
menaced, but it is only a rehearsal for the Royal Visit to-morrow.
Little Prome is all agog! for the Prince comes down the river and is to
land here and train to Rangoon.

Before we go aboard we walk through the marketplace by the side of the
river; it is lit with a yellow sunset from over the river, the umbrellas
stand out brown against the sky, and the burning tobacco of the girls
white cheroots begins to show red, and the oranges have a very deep
colour, the blue smoke hangs in level wisps in the warm dusty air--and
you could lean up against the smell of the ngapi. It is in heaps, and of
finest quality they say. Here is a jotting from a sketch in colour; I
made also one in line to immortalise the Prome triumphal arch.

[Illustration]

There are more than a dozen flags on it now, and you see two natives
putting up two lamps; and the governor, you can imagine--he is training
his pair of carriage ponies to stand this unusual display. They go up
and down the mile of high road on the bundar in such a lather, one
nearly out of its skin with excitement. What would be better than an
arch, and would please every one, would be to collect all the Burmese
residents in the district in their best dresses, and allow them to group
themselves as their artistic minds would suggest; their grouping and
posing would be something to remember. Burmese woman study movement
from childhood, and nothing more beautiful could be conceived than their
colour schemes; I've seen arrangement of colours to-day in dresses,
delicate as harmonies in Polar ice, and others rich and strong as the
colours of a tropical sunset.

But one line more about the town.--Before the Christian era, Prome was
within six miles east of being one of Burmah's many ancient capitals; it
marked the ancient boundary between Ava and Pegu, otherwise Upper and
Lower Burmah. It is seventy five miles above Rangoon, and has 27,000
inhabitants, and has streets here, and a law court there, and an
Anglican church, so it is moving--one way or the other.



CHAPTER XXVII


Thayet Myo, January 20th.--After leaving Prome we have a good long wait
here; we have the Prince's mails on board. Their Royal Highnesses are
coming down river from Mandalay, so we wait their steamer. As we lunch
on deck we watch the villagers collecting, coming in bullock carts and
canoes.

The Flotilla Company have painted their steamer for the Prince all
white--given her a buff funnel, and she flies the Royal Standard with
the quarterings wrong, as usual, and looks mighty big and fine as she
surges south over the silky, mirror-like surface of the river. There is
a blaze of sun, and three dug-out canoes, with men in pink and white,
flying bannerets, go out to meet her. With their gay colours, the white
steamer, and the gleam of brass-work, you have a subject for a picture
after the style of Van Beers--if there was only time! I just make a
modest grab at it with an inky pen.

[Illustration]

Burmans come streaming along the yellow sandy shore in rainbow tints,
and two of our soldiers in khaki, almost invisible but for the boots and
red necks, sweat along the loose sand with them. Up the bank are seated
groups of girls and women, quietly filling their souls with the joy of
gazing at the white ship that contains the Imperial Ti.

... Put in the night at Minhla.--After dropping anchor, our new
passengers, Mrs Jacobs and daughter, and their guests and ourselves sit
round the deck-table and talk of the celebrations in Rangoon, and we all
turn in at ten, for we grudge an hour taken off these days of light.
They got off at Yenangyat further up the river, a place where there are
oil springs and works.

21st.--We get up early these days, because the country is so beautiful,
and because it is a little chilly out of the sun, and morning tub begins
to have attractions again; it is so cold and exhilarating, and you feel
fifty times more energetic up here than in Rangoon; you feel you must
not miss any of the river's features, so tumble out betimes. Possibly
the anchor coming up at daybreak awakened you, and if that did not, a
dear little Burmese boy's cock and hen must have done so; the cock sends
out such clarion challenges to all the cocks ashore before daybreak. The
boy in green silk kilt with touch of pink, holding his two white pets
with their red combs, makes a most fetching piece of colour.

We begin to think thicker clothing would not be amiss--but a quick walk
on shore makes one's blood go merrily. We decided to come here again
with some sort of a house on a keel of our own, and stop and shoot here
and there, and paint; perhaps drift down river from Bhamo through the
defiles, with sport wherever one wanted it--four kinds of deer,
elephant, jungle fowl, francolin, snipe, geese, duck, possibly leopard
or tiger, and a few miles inland there are rhino and gaur--there's a
choice!--and I'd have a net too--four weeks out, by "Henderson" or
"Bibby," four here, and four back--I wonder if my presence could be
spared at home.

MIMBU.--Here are splendid trees, like those in Watteau's pictures, on
the top of the banks, their foliage drooping over cottages. These are
very neatly built on teak-wood legs. You can see into some of them
through the bamboo walls and floors, and see touches of rich colour in
their brown interiors--ladies in emerald silk and powdered faces, jet
black hair and white torch cheroot, and, perhaps, the goodman coming in,
in green cloth jacket, pink round his hair, and say, a crushed
strawberry _putsoe_ down to the middle of his sturdy brown calves.

A number of Burmese get off here. Up the sandy bank are collected about
fifty carts. The bullocks in them are finely bred, and are coloured like
fallow deer, and look fat and well-cared for. The carts are
sand-coloured and sun-bleached, with great thick wheels, and the
contrast of the dainty passengers--women and children with neat
packages--getting into these is very pleasant. The men busy themselves
yoking the oxen; they are dressed in bright silks and cottons, several
have M'Pherson tartan _putsoes_. A mother lifts her butterfly-coloured
children into the clean straw and gets in herself, and the eldest
daughter, with white jacket and prettily-dressed hair, steps in
demurely, tucks up her knees in her exquisite plum-coloured silk skirt,
and away they go in dust and sun and jollity--verily, I do believe, that
Solomon in his very Sunday best was not a patch to one of these daintly
dressed figures....

I walk along the country road and have a glimpse of the white and gold
of a pagoda, and a glimpse of the river through tree trunks in shadow,
and wish the steamer's horn for recall would not sound for many days.

21st January.--Past Mimbu--sands wide and whitey-grey. There are white
cirri on blue--sky and sand repeated on the river's surface. At the ends
of the sand-spits are waders--oyster catchers I vow--one might be at
Arisaig in a splendid June instead of the Irrawaddy in January.... Long
rafts of teak logs pass us occasionally, drifting slowly down with the
current. The three or four oarsmen, when they see us, run about over the
round logs and give a pull here and a pull there at long oars, and try
to get the unwieldy length up and down stream; they wear only a waist
cloth, and look so sun-bitten; there is but one tiny patch of shadow in
the middle of their island under a lean-to cottage of matting, with a
burgee on a tall bamboo flying over it. Our wash sends their dug-out
canoe bobbling alongside their raft, and splashes over and between the
logs, and the raftsmen have to bustle to keep their herd together, and
we pass, and they go and dream, of--well I don't know what; that's the
worst of being only a visitor in a country--without the language, you
can only guess what the people think by their expressions.

We drop anchor off Yenangyaung. There are sandy cliffs here, riddled
with holes made by blue rock-pigeons (?)--more shooting going a-begging!
And there is a bungalow on a sandy bluff, and picturesque native craft
lie along the sandy shore, altogether rather a sandy place. The oil
works don't show from the river very much[27]. The Jacobs' party get off
here. Mr Jacobs manages this particular source of Burmah's wealth. They
go ashore in a smart white launch.

[27] Crude oil production of Burmah in 1904--116 million gallons, of
which 73 million came from Yenangyaung. In 1902 the Burmese oil fields
yielded nearly 55 million gallons, valued at the rate of 250 gallons for
a sovereign--Del Mar's "Romantic East."

There is the wreck of a river steamer on a sandbank off Yenangyaung, its
black ribs lie about like the bones of disintegrated whale; it is not
pleasant to look at. She went on fire, and about 200 Burmans were
drowned, and no one would save them, though there were many canoes and
people within three hundred yards. A Scotsman could only get one boat's
crew to go off, and they saved the captain and others, the rest jumped
overboard and were drowned. Burmese are said to be good swimmers, but I
have not so far seen a Burman swim more than two or three strokes,
though I see hundreds bathing every day. The Chittagong Indians who form
our crew swim ashore with a line every time we tie up, and they are
about the worst swimmers I have ever seen; they jump in on all fours and
swim like dogs or cattle. In this case of the drowning people, the
lookers on would say it was not their affair, just as they would, with
the utmost politeness, if you chose to worship in a way different from
them; a _reductio ad absurdum_, from the point of view of those in the
water, of a very charming trait. The Burman is naturally brave, but his
philosophy is that of the Christian Socialist, it is not his creed to be
heroic, or to take life, or thought for the morrow; and if a man smites
him on the cheek, though he may not actually turn the other, he doesn't
counter quick enough in our opinion--doesn't know our working
creed--"Twice blest is he whose cause is just, but three times blest
whose blow's in first;" so we took his country--and make it pay by the
sweat of our brows--poor devils.

We are steaming now north by east, a very winding course, for the water
is shallow though the river is wide. At high water season I'd think
there must be too much water for appearance sake--it must feel too wide
for a river and too narrow for the sea.

We stop at another village. Popa mountain detaches itself from
surroundings, thirty or forty miles to the east; it is faint violet and
rises from a slightly undulating wooded plain. It is a great place for
game and nats. Most powerful nats or spirits live there, and if you go
shooting you get nothing, unless you offer some of your breakfast as a
peace-offering to these spirits in the morning. This has been found to
be true over and over again by those who have shot there.

The day closes, the Arrakan Mountains far away in the west are violet.
The river here is wide as a fine lake and so smooth it reflects the most
delicate tints of cloud-land. In front of us a low promontory stretches
out from the east bank; we have to spend the night there. It is heavily
clad with trees, delicate pagoda spires, white and gold, rise from the
dark foliage and gleam with warm sunset light against the cool grey sky
in the north. Trees and spires, sands, cliffs, cottages, and the canoes
with bright-coloured paddlers, are all reflected in the smooth water.

As we get within ten yards of the shore six of our Chittagong crew
plunge into the glittering water with a light rope, and are ashore in a
minute and are hauling in our wire hawser; the setting sun striking
their wet bodies, makes them almost like ruddy gold, and their black
trousers cling to their legs. It seems an elementary way of taking a
line ashore; I think that with a little practise two men in a dinghy
would be quicker and would look more seamanlike--but probably it was the
way in the Ark, so the custom remains.

The Burmese villagers gather in groups and sit on the top of the bank in
the growing dusk. We can just see a suggestion of their gay colours and
the gleam of their cheroots. G. and I go ashore and stumble along a
deep, sandy road; on either side are little and big trees with open
cottages behind them, made of neatly woven bamboo matting, lit with oil
crusies. We come to a pagoda, and tall white griffins at its entrance
staring up into the sky, strange, grotesque beasts--the white-wash they
are covered with looks violet in the fading light.

At dinner, yarns on the fore-deck, big beetles humming out of the night
against our lamp, and the Captain telling us deep-sea yarns--how he
signed articles as a cabin boy, and of the times before the annexation
of Upper Burmah, when the white man skipper was of necessity something
of a diplomatist and a soldier. Some sailors can't spin yarns, but those
who can--how well they do it!

As we were at coffee there was a gurgling and groaning came from the
people aft, so we took our cigars, and went to see the row, and order
restored. There was a little crowd struggling and rolling in a ball, and
it turned out there was a long Sikh in the middle of it in grips with a
diminutive Chinaman, who might have been a wizened little old woman from
his appearance. It was the big Sikh who had done the horrible gurgling;
the silly ass had joined in with several Chinese, professional gamblers,
and of course lost, and unlike a Burman or a Chinaman, the native of
India can't lose stolidly. He vowed he'd been set on from behind, and
had been robbed of fifty-four rupees. The Captain assessed probable loss
at two rupees, and the first officer took him down the companion to the
lower deck, the Sikh standing two feet higher than the little Scot.
Later, the long black man went hunting the shrimp of a Chinaman round
the native part of the ship, and caught him again and asked the Captain
for justice, and looked at me as he spoke, which made me uncomfortable,
for I could not understand, but guessed he expected the Sahib to stick
up for a Sikh against any damn Chinee. I would have liked to photograph
the two--they were such a contrast as they sat on their heels beside
each other, the wizened little expressionless, beady-eyed Chinaman with
his thread of a pigtail, and his arm in the grasp of the long Sikh, with
black beard and long hair wound untidily round his head.

[Illustration]

22nd January.--Another very distinctive charm about this river is that
the two sides are generally quite different in character. On one side
this morning, the sun is rising over a wilderness of level sandbank,
buff-coloured against the sun, over this there is a low range of
distant mountains, with Popa by itself, lonely and pink; and looking out
on the other side from our cabin window we find we are steaming close
under steep, sunny banks, overhung with luxuriant foliage.

Where there is a break in the bank we look up sandy corries that come
down from hills, clad with park-like trees and scrub--the very place for
deer! There are no inhabitants on the river side, though we pass every
mile or two a ruined pagoda spire.

Passing Pagan we see the tops of some of its nine hundred and
ninety-nine pagodas. Many of them are different in shape from the
bell-shaped type we have seen so far. At breakfast we watch them as we
pass. The Flotilla Company does not give an opportunity of landing to
see these "Fanes of Pagan," which is very disappointing. So this ancient
city, one of the world's, wonders, is seldom seen by Europeans. There
are nine miles of the ruined city; "as numerous as the Pagodas of Pagan"
is, in Burmah, a term for a number that cannot be counted. Mrs Ernest
Hart, in "Picturesque Burmah," describes them in a most interesting
chapter. The authorities on Indian architecture, Fergusson, Colonel
Yule, and Marco Polo, all agree that they are of the wonders of the
world. Mrs Hart compares them in their historical interest to the
Pyramids, and in their architecture to the cathedrals of the Middle
Ages. She says of Gaudapalin Temple, which is the first temple seen on
approaching Pagan, that the central spire, which is 180 feet, recalls
Milan Cathedral. It was built about the year 1160 A.D. Colonel Yule says
that in these temples "there is an actual sublimity of architectural
effect which excites wonder, almost awe, and takes hold of the
imagination." Mr Fergusson is inclined to think this form of fane was
derived from Babylonia, and probably reached Burmah, via Thibet, by some
route now unknown. They have pointed arches to roof passages and halls,
and to span doorways and porticoes; and as no Buddhist arch is known in
India, except in the reign of Akbar, and hardly an arch in any Hindoo
temple, this disposes of the idea that the Burmese of the eleventh and
twelfth centuries derived their architecture from India. There are
besides temples and fanes, many solid bell-shaped pagodas of the Shwey
Dagon type. The Ananda Temple is the oldest. It is built in the form of
a Greek cross, the outer corridors are a hundred feet. The interior,
from descriptions I've read, must be splendidly effective and
impressive.

We stop at oil works, Yenangyat. The people come on and off in boat
loads of bright colours, and women come and sit on the sand beside the
ship. Each woman has an assortment of lacquered ware, orange and red,
delicately patterned cylindrical boxes, with neatly fitting trays and
lids, and bowls, trays, and priests' luncheon baskets--large bowls with
trays and smaller bowls inside each other, rising to a point with a cup
over the top. This ware is made of finely woven cane, and some of woven
horse-hair, alternately coated with a tree varnish, ash, and clay,
polished in laths and covered with faintly raised designs and colours
between, and brought to a polished surface. The best is so elastic that
one side of a tumbler or box can be pressed to meet the other without
cracking the colour inlay. They seem to cost a good deal, but when you
examine them, the intricacies of the designs of figures and foliage
account for the price. The groups of sellers on the shore were
interesting, but there was altogether loo much orange vermilion for my
particular taste--a little of that colour goes far, in nature or art.
The women wore rose red tamiens or skirts, and these, plus the red
lacquer work and reddish sand, made an effect as hot as if you had
swallowed a chili!

After Pagan, the traveller may snatch a rest for wearied eyes. The
sandbanks and distance are so level that the views are less interesting
than they were below, but, after all, appearances depend so much on the
weather effect. To-day, sky, water, and sand are so alike in colour,
that the effect is almost monotonous.

At the next village every one seemed jolly and busy, men and women
humping parcels, sacks, and boxes ashore, up the soft, hot sands into
bullock-carts. Now, after our lunch and their day's work, the men are
coming down the banks to bathe--social, cheery fellows, they all go in
together, wading with nothing on but their kilts tucked round their
hips, showing the tattooed designs, that all grown Burmans have over
their thighs. They give a plunge or two, and soap down, and gleam like
copper. Then they put on the dry kilt they have taken out with them,
slipping it on as they came out, modestly and neatly. The women pass
close by and exchange the day's news, and walk in with their skirts on
too, and also change into their dry garments as they come out with equal
propriety. No towelling is needed, for the air is so hot and still--but
the water is pretty cold--I know!

Another entertainment we have at lunch; on a sandbank a little to our
right, a long net; some 200 fathoms, is being drawn ashore, and people
in canoes are splashing the water outside and at the ends to keep in the
fish. There must be twenty men, boys, and women, working at it; beyond
them, there is a rolling distance of woodland, and with solitary Popa in
the distance--this mountain begins to grow on one, it is so constantly
the view from so many places.

Two new passengers, a Captain in R. A., I think, and his wife, came on
board here--came riding out of the greenery and along the shore on two
pretty arabs, through the bustling crowd of Burmans and natives.

He tells me he got with another gun, 60 couple of snipe yesterday, which
is a little unsettling for me. However, my gun is in Rangoon, and I will
leave it there, and hang on to my pencil! I find our fellow passenger,
who is somewhat deaf, is an artist, studied in Paris, and draws little
character figures in most excellent style; so he and G. and I draw all
day! one encourages the other.

[Illustration]

At Myingyan we tie up for the night, and we all go ashore together, that
is, Captain Terndrup, G., and I and the artist and his friend and walk
on the flat on the top of the sandy banks, and here is the view down the
river from where we landed, a yellow and violet sunset. Bullock carts go
slowly creaking past us; the dust they raise hangs in yellow clouds in
the sunset light. There are crops here, a little like potatoes, which
suggest partridges. I am told there are quail; some day I must come back
to see for myself.[28] There are deer about, for two heads came on
board, like our red deer, but with only a brow antler, and a well-curved
single switch above that--some fellow sending them to be set up for
home? I begin to feel awfully sorry I did not bring up gun and rifles
and fishing tackle, especially as there's any amount of space on board
for stowing luggage.

[28] Since return have seen Messrs Colonel Pollock and Thorn's book on
Sport in Burmah, Upper and Lower, and wish I had read it before going
out.

28th January.--The air gets more and more exhilarating as we get
North,--there's a Strathspey in the air now in the morning when you
waken; but what poor rags we felt only a few days ago down at Rangoon!
It is said that men in the Woods and Forests with fever come from the
jungle to the river, get on board a Flotilla steamer, and recover
immediately.

This is our last day's journey on this boat, but we are to stay on board
her to-night at Mandalay, and perhaps to-morrow night, till we get on
board the upper river cargo boat, which is slightly smaller than this
mail boat. The cargo boats go slower than the mails, for they stop
oftener, and tow _two_ flats or barges, one on each side. After
Mandalay, Bhamo will be our objective; it is the most northerly British
cantonment in Burmah, and is near the Chinese frontier. All the way
there trade is carried on at the stopping places between the traders'
booths on the flats and the riverside villagers. We expect to find this
trade mightily interesting, as we shall see men and women of the wild
mountain tribes. I hope to see the Shan sword-makers particularly; they
make splendid blades by the light of the moon, for secrecy, I am told,
like Ferrara, and also because they can then see the fluctuating colour
of the tempering better than in daylight--and perhaps because it is
cooler at night!



CHAPTER XXVIII


Seven hundred and eight miles we have come to-day from the sea, a
regular Argo trip, yet we are far from wearied, and, allowed a day to
stop here and there, would willingly proceed in the same manner to the
Arctic circle. The farther we go, the more are we impressed with the
apparent wealth of this country; the soil is fertile to a degree, the
climate is better than Egypt; there's coal, oil, minerals, precious
stones, gold, marble, alabaster, and such a magnificent waterway. Had I
a hundred years to live I'd scrape capital together to put into this
recently "acquired" land; as it is perhaps it would be cheaper and
better to stay here now, and learn Burmese philosophy, and make capital
out of the flowers that blow.

... That settles the matter--I get my gun sent up from Rangoon, or go
down for it myself--over 200 splendid geese along a sandbank! Within 200
yards! I could count their feathers with my glass. The Captain tells me
you just need to drift down in a native canoe and make a bag with ease.
Rather a shame, you say; for the Burmans are not supposed to take life,
so the geese are not afraid of a dug-out canoe. But a Burman is
delighted to eat what others kill, and besides, I have been so often
outwitted by geese at home, that I'd just like to have one chance, to
retrieve past misfortunes. Between Mandalay and Bhamo, the Captain says,
they are even more numerous than here. Beyond Bhamo, he describes the
river water as so clear you can count the pebbles thirty feet below its
surface, and describes the whacking big Mahseer, the gold dredging, and
the game alongside--peacocks--leopards--buffaloes!

As we were talking, the Rock pilot came alongside in a launch and handed
aboard a bunch of geese, the same as those we had seen;[29] he is out of
shot and powder, and I believe we have no cartridges on board. The geese
weighed five and a half pounds each, but they put on some three pounds
before the end of the season, before they go north, possibly to some
lake in the Himilayas or Western China, to breed.

[29] Barhead and grey lag geese are the two kinds commonly seen.

At Saigang we fairly draw a breath with astonishment at the beauty of
the panorama that opens before us. The river widens to two miles, and
comes to us in a grand curve from the north and east. Mandalay is at the
bend, some nine miles up. It is like a beautiful lake edged with a
thread of sand--a lake that Turner might have dreamed of. Above Saigang
on our left are green woods, capped with white and gold minarets, with
white stairs and terraces leading up to them. To the north one or two
canoes, with bright sails, and distant mountains with purple corries,
and fleecy clouds, are mirrored on the tranquil river: these distant
hills are of very delicate warm violet tints, on their shoulders we can
just make out the forms of forests, and heavy white cumuli hang above
them in a hazy blue. The white Saigang pagodas on our left in the
distance look like Scottish-baronial or French chateaux, embowered in
foliage. Across the swelling river ("swelling" is the right word, I am
sure, for the river's surface _seems_ to be convex) and to our right the
country is flat, and in the green woods are the overgrown ruins of the
once splendid city of Ava. Certainly, of my most pleasant recollections,
this wide landscape, and all its light tints of mother-of-pearl, will
remain one of the most delightful.

Mandalay is at the upper end of this lake-like part of the Irrawaddy; it
lies back and behind the river bank or _bunda_, so it is not visible
from the river.

Our steamer pulls up against a flat that lies against the sandy shore,
exposed, at this time of year, by the lowness of the river. There are no
wharfs as I had expected, only two or three floating sheds, and two or
three steamers like our own. The sandy shore slopes up some thirty feet
to the bundar, and over that we see palms and trees.

Up and along the sandy shore we drove in a gharry, a man on either side
to prevent it upsetting in the ruts, and if it had not been for the
honour of the thing I would as soon have walked! On the top of the
bundar we struck a macadamised road and rattled gaily along to see the
town. It is almost pure Burmah here, and the native of India is
beautifully scarce; but Chinese abound, and are uncommonly nice-looking
people. We drive a mile or so with rather dingy teak and matting houses
on trestle legs on either side of the road, overhung with palms and
trees, and see the domestic arrangements through open verandahs--women
and children winding yellow silk in skeins and cooking, the vivid
colours of the silks in sudden contrast to the sombre dusty red and
brown wood of the houses.

We stop at a wooden building with gilded pillars in a clear space of dry
foot-trodden mud, surrounded with tall palms and some teak trees with
grey-green leaves big as plates. The short lower wooden pillars support
a gallery, and this again has other gilded pillars supporting one roof
above another in most fantastic complication; green glass balustrades
and seven-roofed spires wrought with marvellous intricacies of gilded
teak-wood carving. Indian red underlies the gilding, and the weather has
left some parts gold and some half gold and red, and other bits
weather-worn silvery teak. The pillars and doors from the gallery into
the interior shrines were all gold of varying colours of weather stain.
Shaven priests, with cotton robes of many shades of orange, draped like
Roman senators, moved about quietly; they had just stopped teaching a
class of boys to read from long papyrus leaves--the boys were still
there, and seemed to have half possession of the place. Overhead green
paroquets screamed, flying to and fro between carved teak foliage and
the green palm tops. The interior of the building was all gilded wood--a
marvel of carpentry; there were lofty golden teak tree pillars and
gilded door panels with gilded figures in relief, and yellow buff cane
mats on the floor. Light only came in through doorways and chinks in the
woodwork in long shafts, but such light! golden afternoon sun into a
temple of gold, you can imagine the effect when it struck gilding--how
it flamed, burned, and lit up remote corners of the shadowy interior
with subdued yellows! As we looked in, a kneeling priest near us waved
to us to enter, and went on with his devotions, his old wrinkled,
kindly, brown face and neck and close cropped head, and deep orange
drapery all in half tone against a placque of vivid lemon yellow gold in
sunlight. These priests, or phungyis, in their old gold cotton robes
form one of the most distinctive features of Burmese life in town and
country. They are greatly respected by the people for their simplicity
of life. They teach all the boys in the country reading, writing, and
simple arithmetic, and how to try to follow the example of the life of
their great Gautama. Theoretically they do this for love alone, or to
"earn merit." What alms they receive is not in payment--gifts are
accepted but not asked for. The people do not pay taxes for their
clergy, nor do these literally free kirk ministers perambulate the
country, and ask children for their Saturday pennies for a Sustentation
Fund. One of the most interesting sights here is to see their young
novitiate priests in the morning going round the bazaars and the boats
and the stalls on the strand in their yellow robes, bowl in hand,
silently waiting for a dole of boiled rice or fruit, and passing on if
it is not quite ready, to come another day.

All Burmese men are priests for a certain time, even though it be but
for a few months; for that time they must wear the simple yellow dress
and renounce all worldly desires[30]. So it was in the earliest Scottish
Church; the Culdee clergy were teachers as well as preachers, and
taught arts and crafts as well as their faith.

[30] For exhaustive and interesting accounts of life and education in
the Monastery, _see_ "Picturesque Burmah," by Mrs Ernest Hart.

The observances of the phungyis are almost austere, but the teaching
that Gautama Buddha passed to the laity was less so. The Burman says,
"Life is a vale of tears, so be happy as possible and make others happy
and you will be good"--the religion of the actor and the artist--the
rose and to-morrow fade, and "loves sweet manuscript must close," but do
what you may, as beautifully as you can--be it a pastel or a matinée.

This monastery is called the Queen's golden Kyoung; it was erected by
Thebaw's queen, Supayalat, in the early eighties--and now king Thebaw
and his queen are in durance near Bombay.

Though it was getting late we drove on to another place, the Arrakan
Pagoda. We had heard of it pretty much as a Burman coming to Europe
might hear of a place called St Peter's.

It was a long, fatiguing, jolting drive in the rattling gharry,
fatiguing physically and mentally, for along both sides of the road were
such interesting things, Chinese cafés lighting up, huge paper lanterns
outside, and stalls of every kind, makers of golden umbrellas and
Burmese harness-makers, almost every stall showing some pretty colour
and Rembrandtesque lamplight effect.

The entrance was like that of other pagodas, two white griffins looking
up at the sky, with busy modern life at their feet. There was a long
approach of shallow steps between double rows of red pillars with much
wood-carving overhead, and panels of poor fresco; but it was rather dark
to see details, and the stall-holders from either side were departing,
and we could see little but the flare of these ladies cheroots. As we
got up towards the centre of the temple, a light or two appeared, and
worshippers came in from the shadowy outside. As the candle light
increased it showed that we were under gilded Italian renaissance
arches, and in the centre, where the four arcades met, were lofty
elaborate ornate iron gates round a centre of great light.

Before the gates were curious umbrellas of pink and white silk, and
pendant chrystals and ornate vases of china and lacquer with peacocks
feathers in them; and a golden chest and huge silver bowl (full of
flower-petals) were in shadow to one side.

More and more candles and hanging glass lamps from green-coloured beams
were lit, and gradually worshippers collected and knelt before the great
gates facing the strong light with the blue evening shadows behind them.
They brought with them strange tokens in shapes like marriage cakes but
in brilliant colours, gold, emerald, pink, and vermilion; these they
placed on the pavement in front of them. There were dark-robed people,
men and women from somewhere towards China, some of them old and
tottering, and Chinese, Burmese, Shans, Kachins, Karens, and people of
Asia that I could not place, all kneeling, sitting, and bowing in the
warm glow of light that comes from the great golden Buddha behind the
gates. Amongst them were golden and red lacquered boxes and bowls and a
mélée of effects and things, that suggested a curiosity shop, yet withal
a _bigness_ in the golden arches and a simplicity of worship that was
simply grand. Ghost of Rembrandt!--could you have but seen this and
depicted it in your most reverend and inspired moment! Or Rubens--he
would have caught the grandeur of effect, but would he also have caught
the meekness and the piety of the old women's and men's faces.

There was a dog and a Chinese boy beside the peacock feathers, in a blue
silk shirt and trousers edged with black; a Burmese woman sweeping; two
little brown half naked children--a boy and girl playing on the stone
pavement with the guttering wax of candles at the side of the arches;
and the kneeling youths and seniors bowing and repeating their sonorous
prayers, all within a few yards of each other, without one disturbing or
apparently distracting the other. Only I felt out of place, a long
standing Western figure from the Western world in topee and flannels
with a sketch book, scribbling: but a boy kindly held half of some
worshipper's candle to light my sketch book; priests in yellow robes
stood behind looking on, and made no remark.

[Illustration]

I fear an Occidental must look uncouth in such an Oriental setting; you
feel you ought at least not to stand up in a place like that; I mean for
æsthetic reasons--you overbalance the composition.

How great and unexpected was the change from the morning on the river in
the sun and clear air to the evening and the glow of lamps and colour
and the chanted, prayers in this centre of Buddhism, the Mecca of this
far East!

We came out and caught a tram-car home, _i.e._ to the "Java"--an
electric car made in London--Ye gods--the short circuit of ideas!

24th January.--This morning I have to try to paint the groups in the
Arrakan Pagoda, but in the bright daylight it is difficult to take one's
attention from these Phrynes, who come down to bathe beside our
steamer--Phrynes, as to figure I mean. One of the two nearest has a
little white jacket and a tight hunting green cloth skirt and black
velvet sandals; her movements are deliberate, almost languid, and she is
fairly tall, very well proportioned, and when her white jacket comes
off, the colour of her shoulders is very pretty in contrast to the jet
black hair and undergarment of blue. This garment, with its white band
tight across her bust, remains on when the green kirtle drops to her
feet. Her friend is dressed in the same way in different colours. They
walk in and swim a few strokes--if you may call it swimming--with other
women already in the water. Then they wash themselves very carefully
with soap, and when the first comes out in her blue tight garment, she
slips the green kirtle over her head and the blue dress drops off
underneath it. There is no drying--the sun does that, and they are
hardy. A yard or two on this side of them, two men tuck their waist
clothes round their hips and go in with their oxen; both the
yellowy-brown men and the oxen seem to enjoy it, and come out with the
sun in high lights on their tautened muscles.

Immediately at hand a native (Indian) woman, a Madrassee, with her brass
chatty, wades into the water all standing--dirty white canopies and
all--and futilely washes, without soap, and rubs her teeth with a
finger, spits and makes ugly noises and faces, looking now and then
critically at the Burmese women farther up the bank, as if she would
fain copy their more graceful ways and movements. Then she polishes her
brass chatty religiously with mud, and fills it with water where she has
been dabbling, and goes ashore and up the sand, a bedraggled-looking
creature, and conceited at that! Next comes a Burmese mother and her two
young daughters, their bathing dress a smile and a Christmas orchid in
the hair. The eldest is a thing of beauty, with lines to delight a
Phidias. Alas! why must we hide all beauty of form except that of
animals--hide fearfully God's image? Men, women, and children here all
seem fit and fairly well shaped; you rarely see a deformity, except at
show places such as the big temples. It would be the same with us were
we to pay more attention to form, and proportion, than to dress.

I intended to paint at the Arrakan Pagoda to-day, but a pleasant looking
man came on board with a chitsaya harp; I had to try and make a jotting
of him. G. and Captain Turndrup brought him. He sat and played tunes for
hours--epic tunes, which I'd have given anything to remember. His
boat-shaped harp of thirteen strings was tuned in minor thirds, so you
could readily pick out Celtic tunes on it. I am told Sir Arthur Sullivan
came here and listened to his music and made many notes. The harp
belonged to Prince Dabai, Thebaw's step-brother, and I confess I bought
it; but I will restore it if it is required for any National Burmese
Museum or Palace.

Whilst I painted him, the phungyi boys in yellow robes came along the
shore to collect food from the people on the river boats alongside the
sand, and from one or two stalls on the shore. They stood silently with
the big black lacquer bowls in their arms against their waists,
looking humbly down, and a stall holder placed large handfuls of the
rice she was cooking into a bowl. Then the close-cropped bare-headed lad
came to the fifty foot dug-out canoe beside us, but the food there was
only being cooked so he moved on without a word.

[Illustration: A Burmese Harpist]

Half an hour's gharry to the pagoda, an hour there sketching and trying
to remember things, and half an hour's rattle back in the dark, wound up
my day's study.

[Illustration]

The Mandalay gharry, a "dog kennel on wheels," is a frightfully
ramshackle thing; doesn't the very name suggest a rickety, rattling sort
of a machine? They are of hard wood, loosely built, with wooden seats,
iron tyres, loose wooden blinds, and springs of iron--I doubt if there
are any! and it is hauled by a tiny Burmese pony, licked by a native of
India.

... 25th.--A faint mist lifting off the shore. The sun is hardly risen,
but already the bullock carts with heavy wooden wheels are squeaking
and groaning along the sand. There is just enough mercantile life to be
comprehensible and picturesque; some four or five Irrawaddy Flotilla
steamers are fast to the bank, and between them are some sixty native
canoes with round mat houses on them. The cargoes of the steamers are
piled on the sand in bales, so you see the whole process of its being
discharged and loaded on the carts and taken away. As the sun rises the
dust does the same, and so do the voices of the people, old and young,
and the geese and the children join in, but the babel is not unpleasant,
it is not too loud; there are pleasant low notes and laughter all the
time. The general tone of the voices is not unlike that of a French
crowd in good humour.

We have received a kind invitation to go and stay with people on shore,
but we resisted the temptation for the meantime. For here on the "Java,"
we see such interesting scenes; and our up-river boat ought to be here
immediately, and to shift our belongings along the shore some thirty
yards on to her, will be much less trouble than flitting to our friends'
bungalow; so we go on drawing here.

The Phryne in hunting green is down again, languorously dropping her
green kirtle. It has an orange vermilion band round the top that clips
the green above her breast. She isn't a swell swimmer; all the women do
in that way is with their hands and they raise their heels out of the
water, and smack down their shins and toes together and just get along,
this possibly on account of the tightness of the lungye or tamien. The
men have various strokes, mostly sort of dog strokes, and get along but
slowly. I have not seen either a man or woman dive.

We have gone up the bank now a few yards to the cargo boat and installed
ourselves in it with our luggage--a very easy "flitting"--and we find
the cargo steamer just as perfectly comfortable as the mail boat we
have left--cabins, mess table, promenade on the upper deck in the bows.
There are curtains round the bows to drop if there is too much draught,
and thick handsome carpets on deck. To compare price, comfort, and
beauty of scenery with a Nile trip would be hard luck on Old Nile and
its steamers. I should say this is a third cheaper and six times more
comfortable, and many times more interesting. With regard to mosquitoes
there are more at this present moment of writing than I have had the
misfortune of meeting elsewhere, but it isn't so all the road. I still
think, however, that those mosquitoes of the Bassein Creek are
incomparable.

We (that is merely "I" this time) went to-day with a very European party
of Mandalay residents up and across the river to Mingun in a sort of
large picnic on a Government launch. We went to see the second biggest
bell in the world and a pagoda that would have been one of the biggest
buildings, if it had ever been finished! Both are great _draws_, and
neither is of any account. The view of the winding river from the top of
the ruins of the pagoda is certainly exquisite, and for ever to be
remembered. But it's a pretty stiff climb to get there, and you should
let your enemy go behind, for the loose bricks sometimes go down through
the shrubs like bolting rabbits.

The trees too are splendid, and the distant ruby mountains are very
exquisite, but as for dancing on a Government boat's deck, and tea and
small talk--such things may be had at home, and brass bands too--_mo
thruaigh_!

The big bell weighs about ninety tons; it is hung on modern girders, far
enough off the ground to let you crawl inside, and it has a poor tone.
The diameter of the lip is sixteen feet. The masonry, otherwise the base
for the proposed pagoda, contains 8,000,000 cubic feet, is 165 feet high
and 230 feet square, and is cracked through the middle and tumbling to
pieces owing, some say, to an earthquake and thunderbolts--I think from
bad building and the natural inclination of loose bricks to find their
angle of repose.

To-night we gharried to the Grahams to dinner, over the ups and downs
and deep sand and ruts of the shore, over cables and round timber heads
and teak logs till we got to the hard, a man on each side holding up the
conveyance, and two men with lanterns.

[Illustration]

There were splendid roses on the dinner-table and strawberries down from
the Shan Highlands, as fine as any I have seen. Then after dinner we saw
collections of the most recherché Burmese and Chinese art, in which Mr
Graham evidently has a very critical taste. There was exquisite silver
work and brass, gold, and amber carvings, dahs or swords in silver and
velvet sheaths with ivory handles, long shaped books of papyrus with the
heavy black print on lacquered gilded leaves, and Buddhas in gold and
marble, and a little Chinese box carved in root amber, which I
coveted--it suggested a picture by Monticelli--besides wonders of
Burmese carvings in wood and ivory: then music, and good voices, and
the piano sounding so well in the large teak drawing-room--and home
again, rattling in the gharry over the hard macadam and the soft ups and
downs and ruts along the sand, as here depicted in black and white, to
our new quarters on the shores of Mandalay where the big mosquitoes play
and sing us to sleep--"only a temporary plague," they say here, and we
hope so! G. invented a plan of slaying them. When you are under the net,
you can't bang them against the swaying muslin--this plan obviated that
difficulty, and is effective, only it needs a candle and matches inside
the net, and might, at any moment, set the ship and Mandalay in a blaze:
I mentioned this dire possibility, and G. said she would not do it if I
were not near!

[Illustration]

26th, Friday.--Still aboard the S.S. "Mandalay," turned out bright and
early--a delicious morning, dew lying on the short grass above the
shore. Went to the bazaar with my native boy--wish I had a Burmese
servant, as neither of us can speak a word of Burmese. I'd advise any
tourist to try and get a Burmese servant for guide and councillor. It is
horrid being tongue-tied amongst such kindly-looking people. There does
not seem to be much love lost between the Burmans and the natives of
India, and I think the foolish Indian natives actually fancy themselves
superior!

I have never seen, no, not in India, so much paintable "stuff" in so
small a space. The stalls were sheltered by tall umbrellas made of
sun-bleached sacks, over them the blue sky, and under them masses of
colour in light and shade, heaps of oranges, green bananas, red
chillies, and the girls and women sitting selling them, puffing blue
smoke from white cheroots big as Roman candles, or moving about from
shade to light like the brightest of flowers, no hurry, no bustle; a
chatter of happy voices, nothing raucous in sound or colour, and all the
faces good and kind to look at, except when a foxy Indian came across
the scene. There is also near this open-air bazaar an immense market
under cover. The light is not so picturesque in it, but the women are of
a better class. There's much colour at the stalls where they sell silks,
and talk to the passer-by, and brush their black hair, and powder their
faces between times. If you could talk to them it would be fun, for they
are as jolly and witty as can be. I understand Burmese girls of almost
all families keep stalls at the bazaars when they "come out," which
accounts for the Burmese women's great intelligence in business affairs.

Then to the Arrakan Pagoda, and felt inclined to stay all day listening
to the sonorous recitations of the kneeling people.

Back in a tram-car, an excellent place to sketch faces, your topee over
your eyes, and sketch book behind a newspaper--no one knows you are
drawing. The following tram-car notes are of Burmese faces, except the
face behind, with a look of cankered care on it; he is some kind of an
Indian.

After lunch to the palace--a longish drive inland from the river. Thebaw
not at home, and Supayalat out too, so we called on the Britishers,
resting on long deck chairs in the golden rooms now used as a club. What
a rude contrast Western chairs and tables and newspapers were to the
surroundings! I believe Lord Curzon has arranged that this æsthetic
immorality shall be put right, and a proper place appointed for the
Club, and Divine service.

[Illustration]

I'd like to have been here at the looting of this particular palace, you
hear such fascinating descriptions of Thebaw's barrels of
jewels--emeralds and rubies to be had by the handful. How angry the
soldier man is when you speak of it. He will explain to you, with the
deepest feeling, that military men were put on their parole not to bag
anything, and they did not; but the men in the Civils came on ponies,
and went away with carts.

The palace grounds are surrounded by four crenellated walls, each a mile
long; each wall has three seven-roofed gates in it, and each gate has a
bridge across the wide moat. The palace rooms are nearly splendid; they
are supported on many teak pillars, low at the sides of the rooms, and
up to sixty feet in the middle. These are all gilt, and show
"architectural refinements," for the teak trees they are made of are not
absolutely straight, and they have an entasis that is quite natural
where they taper away into the golden gloom of the sloping timber roofs.
The rooms are lofty, and all on one floor, because the Burmese do not
like to live in rooms with people above. There are infinite intricacies
of gilded teak carving, and some rooms glitter like herring shoals with
silvery glass mosaics and mirrors and crystals. How delightful it must
have been to see these courts, and gardens, and palaces, and
throne-rooms in their full brilliancy before our "occupation," but I
suppose one would have had to crawl on all fours or lose one's head at
the nod of Supayalat. She and Thebaw and their parents were very much
in-bred, and, though she was otherwise particularly charming, she had a
strongly-developed homicidal mania. However, the people wept when they
saw their king and queen being so unexpectedly hurried away in a gharry
to go "Doon the Water" in Denny's steamer, in November 1885. They had
far more fun, they say, before we came; a rupee went farther, and so on;
and I quite believe it--we did not grab the country to amuse them!

27th.--Painted till 2 from 8 in half-hearted way. To the Grahams, then
to the Arrakan Pagoda again, too tired and mosquito-bitten to do much
after getting there--a nostalgia of colour these last few days--but saw
the golden Buddha. The florid iron gates were open, and an immense light
shone on the seated and kneeling worshippers in front. It is the most
effective scene in the world for the amount of staging. A glare of
golden light from unseen lamps--electric, I believe--gleams all over the
calm golden figure. It is raised so that the arch in front just allows
you to see up to the top of the statue; it is over twelve feet high, and
the base is about six feet off the ground.

I must come back; on this journey I have already seen so much on the way
here--some day I will come out direct and paint this one scene, and
perhaps one or two in the Shwey Dagon Pagoda--"if I'm spaired," as they
say in the lowlands, instead of knocking under the table.

... On board to-night; Burmans and natives are making up their booths
and stalls on the flats alongside, and on the after-decks of this boat,
so there is a good deal of hammering during dinner-time. Afterwards we
sit round the table on the fore-deck and tolerate the mosquitoes, and
tell yarns, and I turn in with a picture in my mind, from a story of the
captain's, of an East African coast, and a tramp steamer on a bar, the
surf coming over her stern, and the shore lined with drunk niggers, and
green boxes of square-faced Dutch gin--at four shillings and sixpence
the dozen, box included.



CHAPTER XXIX

    "Away to Bhamo,
      Then fare ye well
      You Mandalay girl
      We're away----
    To the Bhamo Strand."

_New verse to old Chantie_.


[Illustration]

Sunday, 28th.--The steamer blows a second time, and the friends and
relations of our traders, sisters, cousins, and aunts get ashore across
the flat or barge alongside, and the crowd of gharries, ox-carts, and
fruit and food sellers begins to disperse up the sandbank. I see the
tall beauty in green kirtle get a friend to raise her flat basket of
oranges on plaintain leaves on to her head, a slow elegant movement she
may have learned in dancing. Here, when the women dance, there is
little movement of the feet, but the angular movements of the body,
arms, and hands and fingers are very subtle and studied, and are done
very slowly; they have time!--in fact, they have to look forward to so
many re-incarnations before they even become men, that they must feel
entirely superior to Time!

We had a quieter night, leastwise quieter than we expected. A child
cried, and a Burman built his booth a little aft of our cabin, with box
lids and French nails, and the hammering went on till about two. Then
all was quiet, and traders and passengers and their families were
asleep, stretched round the deck aft of our portion--Burmans, Phunghis,
Shans, Karens, Chinese, Sikhs, wrapped in various coloured sheets, in
lines fore and aft and from side to side, dimly lit from above by
lamps--the same in the two decks of the flat which we are to take up the
river with us alongside.

These cargo steamers usually take up two flats,[31] one on each side,
and the amount of trade done on these each voyage up and down, I am
told, is considerable, and must annually give great profit to the
countries whose goods we carry; two-thirds of these goods are
Continental--German, Swiss, Austrian, Italian, and some are Japanese.
The deduction to be drawn from this will be equally clear to
Protectionist or Free Trader.

[31] I am told this steamer is 250 feet, beam 48, flats 96, beam 24, and
the mail steamer was 325, beam 62.

We made a false start; the mail steamer from the south we had been
waiting for appeared just as we had cleared off the shore. She had been
delayed by fog, so we anchored for an hour or so to tranship the mails
and Burmese passengers. Meantime I took a spell of painting, then
Krishna and I hunted up a bamboo, got out snake-rings, fishing book, and
reel, and had a rod fixed up in no time. What with gun, cartridges,[32]
and painting things, my cabin looks quite interesting--to my mind. We
have but one other passenger, so we may utilise two cabins, one as
sleeping-room, the other as sitting-room, gun-room, and studio combined.
As such it might be even bigger with advantage, but for situation it
would be impossible to beat--for changing views from the window or
swirling tide and passing boats with people in them, like bunches of
flowers flaring in the sun, and then all soft and delicate as they float
past in our shadow. The priests in these boats, with their yellow robes
and round palm leaf fans have a decorative effect of repetition, and we
are told these fans keep their thoughts from wandering from
righteousness to pretty girls. Palm leaves, robes, and their bare right
shoulders and arms are all in harmonious browns and yellows; the water
is bluish mother-of-pearl. The men row their boats as all Southerners
do, Italians, and the rest, standing and backing them like gondolas;
only the Burman uses two oars.

[32] Telegraphed to Cook, Rangoon, who sent them to Mandalay by train.

But to the fishing rod and line; we started with bait and did underhand
casting from lower deck up and down the ship's side. The rod was
excellent, a split new cane, if not exactly the "Hardy split," and it
did not lie wholly between two points--it meandered a little, but I've
got salmon on worse. We got nothing, and yet I saw a Burman in a dug-out
log, with a no whit better rod, pull up a beauty like a sea trout of two
pounds, as he drifted past; so next stopping place I hope you will hear
of fish "grassed" or "creeled," as they say in the papers.

We pass Mingun, half-an-hour up the river from Mandalay. I've mentioned
this place before and its bell. The bell is big, so the traveller is
expected to make every effort to see it. To me, the size of a bell is
not very interesting, and one heap of stone (pyramids included) seems as
interesting as another. It's the design that counts.

The Flotilla steamer does not always stop at Mingun; we went steaming
past it on our left. The reflections of the trees and ruin in the
smoothly running stream were crossed by rippling bands of lavender,
where a breeze touched the water: and sea swallows poised and dipped,
screaming and flashing after each other. On the far side of the river
were level white sands, green sward, and distant blue mountains.

[Illustration]

There's a pleasant sense of swelling fullness about the river; it may be
an optical delusion, but I am inclined to believe it is a fact that the
surface is slightly convex, like an old-fashioned mirror, perhaps an
inch or two higher in the middle than at the sides. There is not much
depth to spare, already we have touched bottom. It was a curious and
almost incredible statement made to me that we draw four and a half
feet, and can go over sand bars only covered four feet. It is true,
however; the steamer after touching is backed astern a yard or two, and
when her own following swell comes up to her, she goes ahead over the
bar, on the swell.

At lunch we pass a great number of geese on the edge of a sandbank--our
table is right in the bows, and we have a clear view of the banks on
either side as we go along, even at meal times we have the field-glasses
handy to pry into the scenes of animal life on river side--the captain,
who generally has his gun handy, said, "Yes, certainly we must have a
shot at them," and for a moment I hoped he would drop anchor, and that
we would go off in a boat and stalk them, but I gathered sadly the
"shot" was to be underway at 150 yards--and I'd rather not--another lost
opportunity!

Now we pass a regular regiment of birds I do not know--cranes, I
think--some four feet high, the colour of oyster catchers, long red
bills and legs, and black and white plumage.

The Irrawaddy valley is here a little like the valley of the Forth.
There is a centre hill for a Wallace monument, and the distant hills are
like those in Perthshire, but both the valley and the river are wider;
and the delicious summery sun and air are too ideal--we only had such
summer weather when we were children.

Painted all afternoon, passing scenes. G. did a broad daylight effect of
blue sky and distance, and the blue Ruby mountains and flecks of white
cumuli and calm water, an effect in much too high a key for me to
attempt; and I did a Punghis' bathing pool, in lower tones, a more
getatable effect for my brush....

We have to drop anchor at sunset in mid-stream, somewhere below
Kyonkmyoung, to wait for the mail, and because we have no searchlight we
cannot go on at night. The mountains are closer now, and towards evening
they are reflected in voilet and rose in the wide river.

... The lights go on, and I assure you our open air saloon, with its
table set for dinner with silver, white waxy champak flowers, and white
roses in silver bowls are delightful against the blue night outside. The
scent of the champak would be too heavy, but for a pleasant air from
up-stream, which we hope will help to clear out the piratical longshore
crew of Mandalay mosquitoes which we brought with us. We are only a few
miles short of our proper destination for the night, but no matter, _we_
are not in a hurry; the Burmans up-stream, waiting for their market,
are not either, they will just have to camp out for the night.

[Illustration: Mid-day on the Irrawaddy, distant Ruby Mountains]

Before bedtime, G. and I and Miss Blunt, the only other passenger, go
round the booths and make small purchases, and try to make ourselves
understood by the jolly Burmese shopkeepers: the Indian shopkeepers
speak English. A little later the family groups go to sleep in their
stalls, their merchandise round them. A father and mother and child I
saw, in pretty colours under a lamp, curled up in the space a European
could barely sit on. And near our cabins there is a couple asleep on the
deck, a dainty Burmese woman, her figure so neat, with narrow waist and
rounded hip, and her hand and cheek on a dainty pillow, her husband lies
opposite, and between them, also asleep, on the deck their mite of a
child. Almost touching them is a priest still sitting up, his thoughts
his company--possibly they are of Paternity. They all keep pretty quiet,
they are not like those beasts on the B.I. boat; I daresay the quiet
here is also due to better management. Now as I write the electric light
goes out, and we light our candles--the ship is quiet fore and aft, the
only sound the rippling of the Irrawaddy against our anchor chain and
plates.

29th.--Second day from Mandalay. We have stopped three times at the
river-side to-day. At each place a cascade of elegant people in heavenly
colours came smiling down to our gangway planks, and when these were
fixed, trooped on board; to buy purple velvet sandals, strips of silk,
seeds, German hardware, American cigarettes, and goodness knows what
else. I suppose I shall forget all these groups--and, colours, and
expressions, in time--that is the gall and the wormwood of seeing
beauty; I'd fain remember them longer and more vividly than I do.

At the first place we stopped two hours, so I went on shore, got a
Burman as guide, and in a half-hour's run, got seven snipe and twelve
pigeon. Pigeons, I was told, would help the larder; they were very
tame, otherwise I'd hardly have cared to have let off at them.

[Illustration]

Sabendigo for the night. In afternoon, stopped painting with reluctance,
and if I'd stopped sooner might have beaten my small records at snipe.

The ladies elected to walk with me on shore, so, to give a sense of
security, I took my gun! and as we went across the gangway, picked up a
Burman, who I was told knew where there was game of some description,
and the captain sent one of the Chittangong crew, and other two Burmans
joined unofficially, so we made quite a party. The ladies shortly began
to collect flowers, and not being so keen about sauntering as the second
Charles, I set off at a mighty quick walk, the Burmans following at a
dog-trot, whither, I'd no idea; but it was nice going, through lanes at
first, past an occasional transparent house of cane and matting, past
cow-byres and cattle feeding, then into a sandy track through jungle of
tall trees and thick undergrowth. Then the bamboo clumps got thicker and
met overhead, and the afternoon sun came through in golden threads and
patches on the whitey-grey sand of the path. We hoped to see jungle-fowl
in some of the more open places, and for an hour we dog-trotted, till we
got a trifle warm--but never a sign of any really open snipe ground, and
I almost turned back; but my Burmans pointed on and we soon turned to
the left, crawled under thick bamboos and came on a clearing with water
and paddy fields, and hope revived. But we walked round the edges of two
or three fields without seeing anything, then just as the sun went down,
the first snipe got up and flew straight at a Burman behind me, so it
got away, and in five minutes--no, one minute--we were in ground
absolutely alive with snipe, thick as midges and about as visible. I saw
faintly a wisp get up, fired at one and it dropped somewhere, and heard
the old familiar scraik, scraik on all sides as snipe got up at the
shot, but it was hopelessly dark. It was a horrid sell, barring the
satisfaction there always is in finding your game--I am not sure that
killing it adds much--then we dog-trotted home to the river, along the
soft sand track; it was very dark under the bamboos, but a new moon
helped in the more open land. It was pretty going, all afternoon, with
scenes like pictures by Rousseau and Daubigny, and twice, in the shadows
of bamboo groves I saw veritable Monticelli's, when we met people and ox
carts labouring through the sand; when forms and colours were all soft
and blended, and the glow of day changed to night--Art is consoling when
the bag is empty, even the purse sometimes!

Had a cast before we left with fly in the morning; fish were rising, had
one on for a moment--saw a fish taken from a balance net on shore,
seemed about seven to ten pounds, bright and silvery as a salmon, with a
rather forked tail, should think said fish might be taken on a blue
phantom or Devon. I have both here, and, granted a stay of any time,
will try harling.

The shores of the river now are closer together, wooded and steep,
showing here and there boulders through the sand rather like the lower
reaches of Namsen in Norway, which perhaps only describes the appearance
to rather a restricted number of fortunates.

We saw two elephants grazing by the river-side; I believe they were
wild.

[Illustration: A Priests' Bathing Pool]



CHAPTER XXX


30th January 1906.--Fog--6 o'clock A.M.--half daylight, and the anchor
chain comes clanking on board--a cheery sound, the steady clink clank of
the pall-pin in the winch--a comforting sound, and bit of machinery to
anyone who has hauled in anchor overhand--what say you Baldy--or
Mclntyre, do you remember Rue Breichnich or Lowlandman's Bay, before we
got a winch, and the last three fathoms out of green mud?--and the kink
in the back before breakfast, and the feeling you'd never stand straight
again in your life?

We barely have the anchor up and fast and have steamed less than ten
minutes when we run into a fog bank set cunningly across the stream by
some river Nat. The bell rings, "Stop her"--and plunge goes the anchor
with the chain rattling out behind it, and we lie still again in the
silence of the fog. Sea swallows come out of the mist and give their
gentle call and flit out of sight, they give a regular flavour of the
sea; the mist hangs on our clothes and drips from the corrugated iron
roof of the flat, and our iron lower decks are shining wet.

9 o'clock.--The mist very gently rises off the river and wanders away in
the tree-tops and climbs the distant mountains slowly, and the warm sun
comes out to dry everything. The anchor is up again and its "paddle and
go,"--the leadsman is at his chant again. All the way up from Rangoon to
Mandalay and from Mandalay here, two of the crew, one on either side of
the bows, takes sounding with a bamboo, alternately singing out the feet
in a sing-song melancholy cadence that briskens and changes a little
when the water suddenly shoals.

[Illustration]

We draw four feet, and yesterday went over a bar covered by three feet
nine inches only,--went towards it, backed, and went over it on our own
following wave!

Kyankyet--We take on more wood faggots here to fill our bunkers. The
wood smoke gives rather a pleasant scent in the air--pretty much like
last halting place, same sunny dusty banks, plus a few rocks, and
similar village of dainty cottages and of weather-bleached cane and teak
showing out of green jungle. Above the place we stop at, a spit of sand
runs into the river with a hillock and on it, there is a little golden
pagoda amongst a few trees and palms: a flight of narrow white steps
leads up to it, and below in the swirl of the stream are wavering
reflections of gold, and white, and green foliage. And as usual there
are figures coming to the ship along the shore, each a harmony of
colours, each with a sharp shadow on the sand.

Whilst the wood goes on board we wander through the village and look at
people weaving fringes of grass for thatch, much as grooms weave straw
for the edges of stalls; then to the pagoda on the hillock, and up the
narrow flight of steps. It is not in very first-class repair, the river
is eating away its base. To obtain merit the Burman prefers to build
anew rather than to restore, and this one has done its turn. We saw
several bronze and marble Buddhas under a carved teak shed; some fading
orchids lay before them. Two men were making wood carvings very freely
and easily in teak. Miss B. and G. coveted a little piece of furniture
in brown teak, covered with lozenges of greeny-blue stone. It looked
like a half-grown bedstead, the colour very pretty. If we had had an
interpreter, we might have saved it from the ruin. What I carried away
was a memory of the blue above, the gliding river below, hot sun and
stillness, and the hum of a large, irridescent black beetle that went
blundering through scarlet poinsettia leaves into the white, scented
blossoms of a leafless, grey-stemmed champak tree.

I am told there are barking deer and jungle fowl within an hour of the
ship, elephant, rhinoceros, sambhur, and much big game within thirty
miles, but we are on the move again, and my heart bleeds.--I cannot try
for these for I have neither battery, guides, nor camp equipment.

At Tagaung, stopping-place for the ruby mines, we tie up for the
night--a charmingly wooded country.

In "Wild Sports of Burmah and Assam," by Col. Pollock and W. S. Thom,
published in 1900, you read that "some of the best big game shooting in
the world, with the least possible trouble and expenditure, can be had
in Upper Burmah," and this is the place to set out for it--from
Mandalay, some seventy-seven miles. Mercifully, I did not read this till
after we had left Burmah, or I'd have felt frightfully unhappy passing
it all. Even now, as I read their descriptions, I feel vexed, to a
degree, that I did not know more about the possibilities of sport in
Upper Burmah before starting North. The above book must be invaluable to
any keen sportsman who goes to Burmah; but keen he must be, and prepared
to _hunt_ for his quarry; game is not driven up to him, the jungle is
too dense.

I will now proceed to write about fish. As the sun set they were rising
beside us, making rings in the golden flood, and the reflected woods of
the far side of the river, so I put on a Loch Leven fly cast, and got a
beauty right away, of about one pound; a shimmering, silvery fish,
between a sea-trout and a whiting as to colour, and I missed other
rises. A Woods and Forests' man on board told me he had recently caught
a similar fish on a small fly rod; it weighed five pounds and leapt like
a sea-trout, but no one apparently knows much about the possibilities of
fishing here with rod and modern tackle. We then got a hand-line and a
cod-hook from the engineer, and baited with squeezed bread, the size of
a pigeon's egg, and fished on the bottom, and almost at once had on a
heavy fish. It pulled tremendously and got a lot of line out, and
wandered up and down the middle of the river; on a salmon rod it would
have played long and heavily. We got it hand over hand alongside, aft
the paddle-box, and a Burman in a canoe hitched a noose over its tail,
and we hoisted it on board. I couldn't see the beast very clearly, as it
was growing dusk, and all hands crowded round us to give advice. It
looked rather like a cod, and weighed thirty-five lbs. I'd have guessed
it to be eighteen lbs., but its weight was quite out of proportion to
its measurements. Shortly after we got another--twenty lbs. They have
red firm flesh, and to eat are like sturgeon, they say. The sporting
silvery fish was called Mein and Butter fish, and they are said to be
very good to eat, but they have a beard, which doesn't answer to my
standard of a game fish. I got about a dozen of these smaller fellows of
about one lb. each, not a bad way of putting in an hour or so, when the
time does not allow of gunning ashore.

31st--Tegine.--This morning we passed on our right the elephant Kedar
Camp, where natives are preparing to rope in wild elephants as they do
in Mysore. The bank was steep, about level with the top of our funnel.
The low jungle had been cleared, and we saw screens and houses of green
thatch and palm leaves. A very brown Britisher came out of his tent as
we passed, his face half white with soap lather, and his shirt sleeves
rolled up; he did unintelligible semaphore signalling with both arms, a
razor in one hand, paper in the other. He likewise spoke to us in words
that were barely audible for the sound of the rush of the water. When we
pieced together what each had heard, it came to "what the blankety blank
has come over your--tut tut-down-stream cargo boat? She was to bring me
tea and sugar! And I've no whiskey, and--" but there was a stiff turning
just at this part of the river, and the skipper and pilot and everyone
on board gave it all their attention, or we'd have been ashore. Soon
after we met the dilatory down-river cargo boat, and waited where the
channel was wide and she passed, its master shouting to us that the
channel somewhere further up was "only four feet six, and very
difficult." She had stranded somewhere for twenty-four hours or so.
There were apparently only two passengers on board! I don't think these
good days for passengers can last, the crowd is bound to come.

[Illustration]

Next small item in to-day's entertainment. An otter, rather larger than
any I've seen at home, performed to us on a sandbank, danced, and rolled
over its own shadow, or possibly a fish, in apparent exuberance of
spirit. It was a very pretty sight through the glass, and I think I
could have got him with a rifle, but it was rather far to risk a shot
and wounding with my Browning's colt pistol--the Woods and Forest man,
by the way, had a Browning colt, and rather fancied himself as a shot.
He told me his terrier puts up otters pretty often in the streams in the
jungle, in family parties, greatly to the amusement of the otters. So
there's another heading for a game book here; that might begin with
elephant and finish up with mouse-deer and button-quail. What a list of
water-fowl there would be, and where would turtle go?--under Game or
Fish? They lay their eggs on the sandbanks in numbers, and these fetch
quite a big price, four annas each. I'd willingly sacrifice a night's
sleep to see one come out of the water up the sand, and to "turn it"
would make me feel at the Ultima Thule of the world abroad.

[Illustration]

All the way along the edge of the river, where there are not trees,
there is Kaing or elephant grass--grass that waves some eighteen feet
high and runs far inland, and here and there are bits of tree jungle.
Every now and then we see some bird or beast which we have not seen
before outside of a Zoo; a grand eagle is in sight just now, no vulture
this fellow; he looks twice the size of our golden eagle, and sits
motionless on a piece of driftwood in the middle of a sandbank. I can
only just make out his or her mate soaring against the woods on the
hills behind. On a bank to our right there's a whole crowd of large
birds--as we get closer I can count their feathers with my glasses; they
are not beauties--vultures of some kind, and gorged at that, to judge
from their lazy movements; their plumage is a grey, chocolate colour;
their lean bare neck and heads are black or deep plum colour. On the
very edge of the sandbank there's a string of white sea-swallows,
sitting each on its own reflection. There are several kinds, and they
rise as we pass, and I see, for the first time, the Roseate Tern, a
sea-swallow with deep lavender and black feathers, rather telling with
its scarlet bill. To complete this menagerie's inventory we pass four
elephants bathing; two on the bank are dry, and blow sand over
themselves from their trunks, and are the same dry khaki colour as the
banks; the other two lie in the water, their great tubby sides, big as a
whale's back, are black as sloes. Through the glass we see them rise
slowly and stalk up the bank, getting their little feet all sandy again.

We went aground about five or six P.M., and are aground, and will
probably take root here. The Chittagong crew are _talking_ and working
like niggers to kedge her off, and she won't budge. I'm sorry for the
Captain; it seems running things rather fine to expect him to take his
ship drawing four feet, over a bar only covered three feet.

In the pause, with the glasses I spy geese on a distant point, so with
the steward as interpreter, engage a dug-out that came alongside to
trade to take me in pursuit, but as I get out the gun, a Burman's boat
comes down and passes within a few yards of them and they shift. The
boatman tells me there are deer about--points to woods and jungle within
a mile on the river's right bank, but time will not allow us to go after
them. So we make a shooting engagement for the "morn's morn" if we are
still on the sandbank.

The crew struck work and singing at ten and left things to Providence;
the captain didn't believe in this; he remarked "All things come to
those who wait, but I know a plan much slicker; for he who bustles for
what he wants, gets things a d----d sight quicker!"--and called on them
in their quarters--he had a whole stick when he went in--and they got to
work again. He believes that if the river was buoyed by a white man
instead of a native we wouldn't be fast now. I should think it is just
the sort of work that would need a European, but I rather think after
watching the soundings we made, that there was no deeper channel over
the sand anywhere--at any rate none could be found from our small boat.
They kept at this kedging till midnight, and later, dropping the anchor
ahead from the small boat, then hauling the ship up to it by the chain
and steam windlass--with the variations splendid exercise for all hands.

At first the flat, as it drew less than we did, was left behind a
little, and our ship did this fighting with sand and water alone. They
started again to the work early in the morning and by breakfast time, by
constant steaming ahead and backing, had burrowed a channel in the sand;
then went back and clawed on to the flat and steamed away for Chittagong
distant a mile or two. As we went the anchor chains were unshackled and
overhauled to get the twists out of them; and both anchors and chains
were bright as silver from their rude polishing in the sand.

It is perishingly cold at Chittagong, _i.e._, in shade in the early
morning, but it is bracing, A.1. weather for doing things. Last night I
had three blankets and two sleeping suits and felt cold at that. The
sides and windows of our cabin being made of open lattice woodwork we
fix up some newspapers and a mat or two we have over these, which makes
all the difference.

We had only half-an-hour for the bazaar at Chittagong. By the way I
can't vouch for the spelling of this or any other names of places en
route, but this is the way our First Mate spells it. We have no good map
on board to give the names, but there are a number of books, and a
piano, and many other comforts that one would hardly expect on a cargo
steamer, so I think the Company, having done so well for their
passengers, might run to a framed map of Upper and Lower Burmah.

At Kalone the people stood in splendid groups at the jungle edge
waiting for the arrival of the market. It was absolutely a Fête
Champêtre, but more brilliant and classic than Watteau ever can have
seen. There were no houses visible, just the steep sandy bank with roots
dangling out of it, and splendid trees above like sycamores and ash,
some with creepers pouring from their highest branches. Against the
green depths were these groups of happy people in delightful colours,
some sitting and others standing, some in the full sunlight, others
further in the jungle amongst the shadowy trunks and fern palms.

[Illustration]

My Conscience pricked me and said "draw," but I said, "I'm bothered if I
do, let's get into the jungle, if it's only for an hour, and see more
new things, close," so we did, got a guide, and arranged to return at
first blast of the steamer's horn, and away we went _ventre à terre_ to
a jheel said to be near, and had not more than enjoyed a glance at this
pretty watery opening in the woods when up got a snipe with its old
sweet song, and along with the snipe were any number of other
waders--what a place for a naturalist! The first wisp went straight
towards some paddy workers so I only got one flanker, and just as I was
in the middle of them, beginning a record bag the horn sounded--the
vexation of it! We turned and hoofed it back; under shadows of grand
trees, over brown fallen leaves, past sunbeam lit girls in velvet
sandals, coming from the ship, with bundles of purchases poised on their
heads, and on board by the last plank of the gangway, muddy and hot and
desperately annoyed at having to cut short a good morning's shooting.
Some of the snipe were larger and deeper in colour than those I am
familiar with--Painted snipe I believe.

A delightful country this would be for a holiday in a native river boat.
What a pity it is so far from home; with a party and a boat I believe
one could have a splendid time drifting down, there would be fishing,
walks, rowing, sailing, shooting, sketching, and all in a delicious
climate, and all the sport bar elephants free, and amongst courteous
people with all the supplies of "the saut market" at arm's length from
the Flotilla Company's steamers. Why not charter a big native dug-out up
the river at Bhamo--sink it for a day or two--for reasons--then drift
and row down. You could get up to Bhamo in a week or less, or in two or
three days shortly, when there's a railway, and take, say three weeks
down to Mandalay.

Kalone to Katha is interesting all the way. At Katha the mountains on
the west come closer to the river. There is a short railway branch from
this place to the line to Mandalay. I hardly like to mention a railway
up here, it sounds so prosaic and so unassociated with any of the wild
surroundings; but there--it's a solid fact, you can come up here from
Rangoon in next to no time and see nothing on the way, by train. We walk
past the little station, the first piece of blackened ground we have
seen for many a day--a ballast truck, ashes, and coals--impossible! From
the wire fence round the station-house and from its wooden eaves hang
numbers of orchids, nameless and priceless--impossible again!

It is a pleasant country round Katha, once you get away from the line.
There is low ground cleared for crops then knolly wooded hills within
easy reach, and higher hills beyond. The air was still and wisps of
wood-smoke from distant village fires hung in level bands above the
plain. Miss B. and G. went to see the pagoda, I did the same, and also
took my gun in case of a wet place and snipe. They saw a procession to a
priest's funeral--one of the regular shows of Burmah, I only saw jungle,
and brakes of white roses with rather larger blossoms than our sweet
briar, growing to about twenty feet high. These grew many feet below the
level of the river in the wet season, so I gather they spend several
months in the rains under water: I also saw vultures, eagles, hawks, and
a big kind of lapwing and snipe; but the snipe here were cunning, and
got up wild and flew far, so I only got a small bag. But putting the
afternoon's stravaig and the morning's ramble together made quite a
decent day's exercise; and I believe the two or three hours in the
jungle with its strange sights and sounds, flowers, birds, and beasts,
were as interesting as a Phoungies' funerals.



CHAPTER XXXI


2nd February.--There was a river mist this morning, the sun shining
through, and we "slept in" for there was no engine to awaken us. When we
did awaken, it was to the tune of reed instruments like our pipe
chanters. These headed a single and double file procession to the pagoda
along the top of the river bank. The arrangement might have been taken
from the procession of the Parthenon. Most of the people were women,
some carried offerings in lacquer bowls on their heads, others carried
between them pagodas and pyramids in wicker-work hung with new pots and
pans and, odd bits of pretty colours and flowers. Others carried round
palm leaf fans, the whole effect through the sunny morning mist was
exquisite in colour and perfectly decorative. I think it was part of the
Phoungie funeral of last night. We got fairly cold looking at it from
the deck in dressing-gowns.

... It gets cold truly--morning tub makes one gasp, but the Burmans are
bathing and soaping themselves this morning alongside, apparently
enjoying the cold water as much as they do down south.

The fog lifts and we swing out and into the current at eight o'clock;
the mail boat that came up last night just ahead of us, and we go
surging up in her wake, two mighty fine children of the great Cleutha;
Glasgow owned, Clyde built and engineered--900 horse-power has this
Mandalay, and she has twenty years behind her, and the engines run as
smoothly as if she were new: and the whole ship fore and aft is so well
kept, she might have come from the makers yesterday! I don't say that
the mail boat in front exactly adds to the beauty of the scenery but it
gives a big sense of successful enterprise. How gratifying it must be to
Germans and other foreigners to have the use of such a fine line of
steamers for their goods.

The cottages on your left after Katha are rather pretty. They are on
piles of course, on account of the floods in the monsoon, not "because
of ye tygers which here be very plentifull," as the old travellers had
it. Their silvery weather-worn teak or cane showing here and there, is a
pleasant contrast to the rich green foliage. We pass so close to the
bank that we can see the bright colours of the women's tamaines inside
them and through the trees we get glimpses of the blue hills to the
west-- d---- we are aground again--and my snipe shooting at Moda won't
come off--horrid sell! No--I believe she's over. No, she's stuck!

... But we got off--and have arrived at Moda; and I think the show of
native beauty crowding down the white sand here is even more effective
and exquisite than any village crowds we have seen so far on either of
the two sides of the river.

The girls are pictures; one has a yellow orchid between her golden
coloured cheek and jet black hair, another a Marechal Niel rose above
her forehead. There are old and young; Shans, Burmans, Chinese,
Kachins--the young Burmese beauties vastly set off by the various
northern tribes. Up the sand I see, for example, a group of three, an
old lady and two young things sitting under a pink parasol, each with
knees tucked up in a red purple and lemon yellow silk tamaine or tight
skirt. Imagine the soft rose light from the parasol over the white
jackets and silk and the sharp shadows on the sand. How graceful the
owner of the parasol was when she stood up! I think it was her duenna
who toppled off the edge of the gangway with one of the Chittagong crew
in the push to come aboard. The old lady's face puckered as she went
over, but she was out in a second, and came aboard with the jolly
crowd, smiling like the rest. The pretty girls drop their red and blue
velvet sandals with a clatter on to our iron deck when they come up the
gangway, shuffle their toes into them and waddle off to the stalls with
an air. No--waddle is not the word, its a little body twist rather like
that of our French cousins, and their frank look is Spanish, but with
less langour and a little more lift in it for fun! Leaving all this
grace and colour behind, we marched away with a gun and two men, a
native and a Burman, which surely proves the vandalism of our
upbringing.

But I may have scored by not staying and painting, granted I may never
forget the charm of the mid-day stillness behind the village, and the
walk through half jungle, half cultivated country with everything asleep
in the quiet and warmth, and never a chance of game unless I trod on it.
Through the village palms and trees I came on a lakelet with short grass
and tall white briar rose bushes round its edge. It was almost covered
with a water plant with leaves like a strawberry, which made a dull rose
tracery across the reflected blue sky. There were three white ibis,
distant dark blue hills and trees, and jungle grass and their
reflections; a cormorant and sea swallow were fishing, and a little
pagoda, with gleaming golden Hti hung its reflection in the mirror. It
was so still and the air so sweet that I felt perfectly happy with never
a thing to fire at but an occasional dove, or curiously coloured
lapwing. The only thing I actually did fire at was a swagger bluebird
whose plumage I did covet. It let me have five shots, at from seventy to
eighty yards but never closer, and went off flaunting its green and blue
plumage derisively, and I hurried home at top speed long after the
second whistle, rather glad I'd done no damage to anything.

At Shewgee in the afternoon we pulled out of the sunlight on the river
into the shadow of a steep bank with some sixty black-tarred wooden
steps up it. Creepers and foliage hung in masses over the edge and on
the top were the usual groups of brightly dressed people and palms and
trees in half tone, against a warm sky; and a pagoda too, of course, in
white and gold, with a banner staff in white glass mosaic. The dainty
figures came trooping down the long black steps and surged on board,
first of all politely making way to let us go ashore.

We wandered through, I think, the neatest village we have seen, each
dainty mat house had a tiny compound with palms, trees, and roses and
other flowers round it. We heard "The Potter thumping his wet clay" and
stopped and watched. He, or she, sat on the ground with feet out in
front and modelled bowls round the left hand, thumping and patting the
stiff clay with a little wooden spade, and without any further appliance
made complicated forms perfectly symmetrical. I'd no idea such symmetry
could be attained without the use of the wheel.

As we came back the darkness was falling and there were fires in most of
the houses on trays of earth and the light shone through the bamboo
walls, and we could see figures sitting beside them, either for warmth
or possibly to get away from mosquitoes.

We met a gold prospector here, a lean, brown, blue-eyed man in khaki
shirt and well-cut, and well-worn tweed continuations. I think all
prospectors must be somewhat alike. The last I saw was a similar
type--drinking beer in "The First and Last,"--Port Stanley--he was just
back from "the Coast," and his rig, and particularly, his expression
were much the same, but the man from Terra del had found gold, "like
melon seeds--G--D--two inches deep!"--this one hadn't.

Dinner talk suddenly interesting--the new passenger, Captain Kirke, R.
A., commandant of the military police is just in from the hills on the
west, where he has been on a punitive expedition. His three hundred
Sikhs and Ghurkas and ponies are on a small government steamer which we
have passed and repassed lately, so we have the latest news of our
neighbours to the west, the "partially subdued" Chins. The expedition
was, I understand, to settle some family grievances of these people. One
chief had taken some of a neighbouring chief's people when he wasn't at
home, and had them tied to trees and little arrows fired into them, one
by one, so that in the end they died. The cruel chief's wives were said
to be the instigators of this "most bloody business" and the leading
lady's photograph warranted the assertion. Her face was tattooed and was
curiously like a Red Indian's. I have read in a book that the Chins
tattoo their wives' faces to prevent them being stolen for their beauty!
I gather this punitive expedition that we have come across unexpectedly,
was carried out without a shot being fired, so it won't be in the
papers. The wicked chief and his wives awoke one morning to find their
village being looked at severely by two mountain guns, and a camera, and
encircled with rifles, so they came along quietly-some ten chiefs all
told. I think Captain Kirke was naturally a little pleased at the
persuasive effect of his pet guns, and gratified that he had managed to
bring them over the difficult country, and civil objections--but if I
had run that show I'd have felt much inclined to have fired just one
shot, for the sake of a medal and newspaper laurels.

We really begin to feel at the Empire's frontier now, when we have
pointed out to us to the northward, the mountain tops where the military
police, _i.e._, native troops and lonely British officers keep watch and
ward over our furthest marches--heliographing between times to Bhamo for
"news from Town."

3rd February.--We got away early this morning, and were stopped by a fog
bank, so I saw the Defiles. The Defiles are considered the thing to see;
and they are interesting enough; we passed the Third Defile down the
river somewhere. At this the Second the river narrows and the mountains
rise pretty steeply on either side, and are clothed with grand trees
and jungle. It is less distinctive scenery than that of the wider
valleys of the Irrawaddy; you might see similar features in many other
rivers. At full flood the force of water down this narrow gorge must be
rather tremendous, it is said to be forty fathoms deep then, and the
captain told me, that when steaming up at fourteen knots, they could
sometimes barely make way! Coming down must be kittle steering, I'd
think. It is a good country for elephants. I am told.

After the Defiles we stop at Sinkan on the left bank, where the river
spreads out again into the more usual style of Irrawaddy scenery, the
valley very wide, the sandy river's edge capped with a jungle of waving
kaing, or elephant grass, eighteen feet high, and over and beyond
bluey-green tree-clad mountains, not very high, but high enough to be
interesting and to raise hope.

[Illustration]

I made a sketch of cottages at Sinkan. The blue and black of the Shans,
and light blue colours of the Chinese dresses, begins to tell more
distinctly among the tulip colours of the Burmans. The men here are
armed with swords. The Shan's blade is slightly curved and pointed,
with no guard, the hilt sometimes of ivory and the scabbard richly
ornamented with silver, and the shoulder belt is of red or green velvet
rope; the Kachins' swords that I have seen are more simply made as
regards their scabbards and are square across the end of the blade.

Only you who fish can understand what great restraint I was obliged to
exercise here; as I painted on the fore-deck a grand fish rose in the
stream that comes in beside us, within casting distance of our bow, and
with the surge of a thirty pound salmon! And yet I went on painting! I
confess I very nearly did not.

At Bhamo the river broadens into a lake again, something like what it is
between Saigang and Mandalay--beautiful enough to travel a long way to
see.

There is a little desert of sand between the water's edge and Bhamo,
across it were trekking in single file Burmans, Shans, and Chinese, to
and from our steamer with lines of ponies, with bales of merchandise on
their pack saddles.

We look at the distant mountains beyond Bhamo that bound the
horizon--they tempt us and we wonder if we should not venture further
north; and take the caravan route into China--rather a big affair for
peaceful tourists. Captain Kirke came in strongly here, said, "Go, of
course--I will show you how to do it, give you ponies, and find you
guide and servants." So we have taken our courage in both hands and
decided to go. One of his men in the meantime, had gone and brought an
elephant, an enormous beast, over the sand; I am sure it was twice the
height of any I've seen in Zoos. It went down on its knees and elbows,
bales of cotton were piled alongside, and Miss B. and G. climbed up
these on to the pad, and I got up by its tail and the crupper. Then up
it heaved, and on we held, to ropes, and went off for half a mile over
the hot, soft sand; Captain Kirke riding a pretty Arab pony. I'd never
been on an elephant before, to my knowledge, nor had I ever experienced
the sensation of the black hair pricking through thin trousers, or the
besom of a tail whacking my boots--I consider we entered Bhamo with a
good deal of éclat.

[Illustration]

4th February.--We all went shopping on the elephant, Captain Kirke
kindly showing us round. He and his pony might have passed under our
steed's girth. It made a pretty fair block in the traffic of China
Street, but the style of shopping seemed to take the popular taste; and
from our point of view we could study at ease the various types of
people. The old ladies in tall blue serge turbans and tunics and putties
of the same colour rather struck me--they are Shans from the East--with
little shrewd twinkling black eyes, short noses and a gentle expression,
and that break in the eyebrow, which I think characteristic of a certain
dark Celtic type.

The above sketch represents a corner of the market; in the centre a
Kachin fairly characteristic but too tall, beside him his sturdy kilted
wife, with the usual basket on her back; other figures, a Burmese girl,
a Chinese woman, Sikhs, and distant Shan woman.

China Street, the principal street in Bhamo, is only about two hundred
yards long, but it is fairly wide and crammed full of interest to the
newcomer; it is so purely Chinese, you only see a Burman, a Burmese
woman rather, here and there, the wife of some Chinese trader. Burmese
women they say, incline to marry either Indians or Chinese, for though
these men are not exactly beautiful they are great workers, whilst the
Burman is a pleasure-loving gentleman of the golden age. The Burmese and
Indian cross is a sad sight.

We stopped at a leading citizen's house with whom Captain K. conversed
in Chinese, and why or how I don't know, but we found ourselves sitting
in his saloon, beyond his outer court, and it was just as if I'd dropped
into an old Holbein interior, it was all so subdued and harmonious and
perfect in finish. There was lacquer work-and ivory-coloured panels on
the walls, brown beams above, and orange vermilion paper labels with
black lettering hanging from them in rows, each purporting the titles of
our host; he wore a loose black silk waistcoat with buff sleeves, buff
shorts, black silk skull-cap, and a weedy black moustache which he
touched every now and then with little pocket comb; the colouring of his
dress, and complexion, and background, all in perfect harmony. He had
gentle clever overhung eyes and was quite the great gentleman,
entertaining us intruders with calm smiling affability. In a court
which he showed us, he had a raised octagonal fish pond, and in his
porch his people were unlading ponies of bales of merchandise. Both the
persons and the surroundings of his establishment seemed to date away
back to the happy and cruel Middle Ages.

At a shop over the way our elephant stood in the sun, the Burman on its
head with his white jacket and light red scarf round his hair, calmly
smoking a cheroot, a welcome contrast to the busy keen Chinese life;
above him hung large orange-red paper lanterns with large Chinese
inscriptions. At the young merchant's shop over the way, we bought
finely cut Chinese tobacco, and a number of Chinese silk satchels, note
books, and other things at trifling prices. The young owner I'd like to
be able to describe; I don't think I have ever seen such perfection of
finish of dress, and even form; his complexion was palest coffee-colour,
teeth perfectly white and symmetrical, cap and jacket of the most
delicate finish, silk shoes and white socks, and baggy trousers, all as
if split new and of perfection of workmanship, and he totted up his
accounts and did all the business with a polished self-possessed manner!
I must say my first impression of the heathen Chinee at Bhamo was
tremendously in his favour; in many ways even the coolies, or Chinese
porters, struck me favourably, by their simple kit, blue tunic and
shorts, and their sturdy limbs and absence of any roughness of manner.

A few yards along the road brought us to the Joss House. It would take
many drawings, to describe the many arrangements of courts and steps and
quaintly curved roofs, and the foliage and flickering shadows. In the
interior were Chinese and some Burmese, and all the pastime of their
lives seemed to go on there, prayers, feeding, gambling and theatricals,
at the same or at different times without hurry. We patronised the
gambling corner--gave the principal high priest who did the honours of
the place to us five rupees to gamble with for us--he was a fine big
man with a potent expression--he lost and won a good deal, then lost the
lot and two or three more rupees, and went on playing with his own
money. It was delightful to see the hearty way these gamblers laughed
when they lost, and chuckled when they won: I got a respect for gambling
that I'd never previously had. I've generally seen people get a little
white when they lose--and--well--I do not care for their subdued
expressions when they win--but there was a boyish hilarity and hardihood
about this gambling that made it almost attractive.

Here is one view of the Joss House. The Chinamen were intensely
interested, as I painted, and crowded round. They were perfectly polite
and well-intentioned as also are the Burmese, but I think the Chinaman's
interest in the technique is so great that he cannot keep at any
distance, so it was an enormous effort to concentrate on the subject and
not just to draw the nearest heads. Here is one, however, a boy with fur
cap, his complexion was like fine China and showed great finish of form.
I noticed they were all very clean indeed, their clothes spotless, and
the scent of their tobacco quite good.

[Illustration]

I had sent my Boy round to find a place where we might stay, and on our
return to the steamer he told me the Dak bungalow was occupied, likewise
the circuit house, so we were stranded and homeless on the banks of the
Irrawaddy. We then went up to the club, and there found to our relief
our Boy was ... mistaken, and that the Dak bungalow was available. A
member of the club kindly introduced himself and entertained us whilst
we waited for our host, we noticed his hands were both in bandages, but
of this more anon. From the club we went back in the starlight to our
home on the ship for one more night, our minds at rest and bodies
refreshed. The ladies drove in a bullock cart, the writer walked
behind--the sand and track were too rough for The Bhamo gharry, and
truly we considered our cart was more picturesque and comfortable. The
grey wood of the cart and the ladies' white hats and dresses, and the
natives' white robes and the grey white sand and white oxen, all blended
into a very pretty moth-like harmony; and overhead the sky was mat blue
with many solemn stars twinkling. As we crossed the little desert of
sand we passed the camp and fires of the Northern peoples, beside their
scores of ponies, and bales of cotton, and pack saddles; everything
uncovered and open on the dry sand, no need here at this season for
shelter excepting from the sun at mid-day.

[Illustration: A Chinese Joss House]

Miss B. leaves us here, going south by what is called the Ferry Boat, a
most excellent little steamer, with roomy, comfortable cabins. It goes
down to Katha, thence she goes by train to Mandalay, and straight on to
Rangoon, and her R.E. brother in India. We decide to stick to steamers
in Burmah as long as we can, the extra time spent on steamers is well
balanced by their comfort as against the dust and racket of a train.

[Illustration]

The morning fog gave us a little respite--let us have an extra
half-hour on board before landing our goods and chattels--but the horn
was let off pretty often before we got our luggage up the loose sand on
to the level. Chinese coolies in blue dungaree tunics, wide straw hats
and ditto shorts carried it in baskets slung from either end of bamboo
poles balanced over their shoulders. They are sturdy, cheery fellows,
with well-shaped calves and muscular short feet. When the steamer
cleared off we were fairly marooned on the sandbank.

[Illustration]

No bullock-carts had come, so G. and I sat on her saddle-box and
sketched a departing caravan of mules and ponies, each laden with two
bales of cotton,--a Chinaman to every four ponies. There were
eighty-four ponies, and they filed away, jingling into the morning mist
that hung low on the sand flat. It was a little cold, but we got warmer
as the sun rose over the Bhamo trees, and pagoda, and Joss House. At
first the coolies stood round us, and our baggage, and took stock of us,
but gradually the interest flagged, and they sat down, and we drew them,
and G. made this sketch of Bhamo, and the sunrise over China.

... A Burmese woman came to the sand's edge with her baby, and built a
shelter with a few bamboos, and some matting for roof, and the baby
played in the patch of shadow. As it got hotter we grew wearied of
waiting. At last our _Boy_ got the two errant bullock-carts, and we went
off in procession, a big bullock-cart with our luggage in front, a
Burman youth on top with long black hair escaping from a wisp of pink
silk, a Macpherson tartan putsoe round his legs, a placid expression,
and a cheroot, of course. G. and her maid came behind with recent
fragile purchases; pottery, in another bullock-cart, with an older
Burman whose face was a delight--so wrinkled, and wreathed with smiles.
I tailed behind and sketched as per margin, as we went through the
sand--shockingly unacademical wasn't it, to draw walking?

[Illustration]

   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .

Our first Dak bungalow experience was short. We had just settled down
when word came we were to occupy the Deputy-Commissioner's bungalow
which is apparently empty, so we only had tiffin in the Dak bungalow.



CHAPTER XXXII


The D. C. Bungalow is certainly very nice, bar _The Mystery_. The roses
are splendid, in masses; and orchids hang everywhere. I suppose the
interest in them at home accounts for their being hung here on every
cottage. We had almost a deck load of them on board this morning; roots
that may cost a great price in Britain may be bought here for a few
pence. They say the road over to China is festooned with orchids, and
jungle-fowl sit amongst them and crow. G. intends to get some, and take
them home, which means more glass, of course: and I hope to pot the
jungle-fowl, so we both feel we have an object in life, and an apology
for our itinerance.

But first, a word about THE MYSTERY. It was very delightful being asked
to put up in such a charming bungalow--the invitation came by heliograph
from a little fort up in the woods on the mountains, many miles away to
the north-west, where the Deputy-Commisioner, Mr Levison, was going his
rounds.

There was a silence and a stillness about the house that was almost
eerie; the impress on a cushion, the cigarette ash, and torn letters on
the verandah looked as if the house was in use; but a second glance
showed that fine dust lay over all, and made the house feel deserted.
The old Burmese man-servant disappeared when we arrived, so G. and I
went through the house alone, to fix on our room. We had done this, and
I had gone downstairs when G. called me. She had turned over a mattress,
and on it was a great space of _congealed blood_ just where a man's
throat might have been! I only gathered afterwards how much alarmed she
was, and she only gathered afterwards how much alarmed I was. When G.
went downstairs I made an exhaustive inspection; the blood was barely a
day old! and on the floor I found spots, then gouts, and then marks of
naked, gory feet leading to, and from the little bathroom--it looked
horribly like "withered murder!" Had the silent bare-footed Burman...?
And what had been done with the.... Yes! there was a streak along the
foot of the door--it had been dragged out!--Or was it floor varnish?
Should I question the servant--would he, or could he, explain? No--I
decided it was too late to do anything. So we both pretended we thought
little of the matter, turned over the mattress, put our own on top,
bolted the doors, put two Colt-Browning repeaters under our pillows, and
went asleep, and in the morning were so pleased to find our throats were
not slit.

When Captain Kirke and Lieutenant Carter came round later, I had to
thank them for their Bundabust, and casually inquired if the last
resident in the bungalow was known to be still alive; for the bedroom
was so bloody! "Why--Baines!" they said, "of course; he was here two
nights! you saw him yesterday at the Club--the man with his hands
bandaged; that's Baines; he's always getting into pickles--he nearly
bled to death! We had a farewell evening at the Club, and in the night
he got up for soda water, the bottle burst and cut his hands, then he
cut his feet on the broken glass going to the bathroom to bandage his
hands, got into bed, and the bandages came off in the night, and in the
morning he was found in a faint--therefore the blood on the mattress."
_The mystery_ was explained--And there had nearly been a tragedy.

These deputy hosts of the Deputy-Commissioner, after so kindly relieving
our minds, drove us to the polo grounds in their brake, behind unbroken
ponies, along a half-made road, which was highly exhilarating--but we
feared nothing after our late escape--were we not each a neck to the
good?

The Maidan was pretty--a pleasant plain of green grass, beautifully
framed with distant jungle and mountains. G. and I made the audience at
first, with two or three dozen Burmans and Sikhs. Then General Macleod
and Mrs Macleod came, and his aide-de-camp (the General is on an
inspection round, of the military police stations), and Mr and Mrs Algy
of the Civil Police, a man whose name I can't remember, and that was all
the gallery, so there was little to take away from the interest of the
game, which was fast, and the turf perfection.

In the evening a delightful dinner-party, the above two deputies
entertaining the aforesaid company in the Fort.



CHAPTER XXXIII


7th February.--To-day a young soldier and an artist conclude that they
both had their fill of exercise yesterday.

We started at break of day and didn't get home till after sunset and
then had to dine at the old Fort and witness a Kachin Pwé in the
moonlight till the small hours.

I confess I was tired after the day's shoot, but so was Carter and he
was in the pink of condition, which consoled me. It was a memorable day
amongst my sporting days, because of the novelty of surroundings, not on
account of the bag of snipe.

We turned out before daybreak, which was neither novel nor pleasant; it
was cold and very uncomfortable getting from warm blankets into the
chilly morning in the draughty bungalow, and reminded me of the way we
are turned out in winter starts for Black Game, and woodcock in
Morven--being routed out half awake in the dark by a certain energetic
sportsman, hurricane lamp in hand.

I had to meet Carter at the Fort where we were to take canoes, and an
elephant, across the Irrawaddy to a jheel, five miles through jungle.

The sun came up splendidly, hot and yellow over China, and warmed me
comfortably as I drove to the Fort, and the mist off the plain rose and
became sunlit cumuli to lie for the rest of the day on the shoulders of
the Kachin Highlands.

Carter, I found in the midst of impedimenta; servants, Burmese, Kachins
and natives, lunch boxes, cartridges, guns and a Mauser rifle; for
though we were going for snipe the country we were to go through holds
all sorts of big game, though the chance of our seeing any was remote
as the jungle is dense and covers great areas.

[Illustration]

A quarter of a mile across the exposed sand of the river bed brought us
to the canoes in which we were to cross. Our elephant swam, or waded,
across higher up. We divided our party into two, and we crossed in the
dugouts. These are graceful long canoes, cut from a teak tree trunk,
with a fine smooth surface and with a suggestion about them of being
easy to roll over; bamboos lashed alongside steadied them, and allowed
our Kachin and Burman to walk along the side when poling. We made use of
a slack water on our side, and another behind a sandy reed-covered
island half-way across to make up our leeway. Silvery fish were jumping,
pursued by some larger fish, and C. and I laid plans to try harling for
them after the Shannon or Namsen fashion. On the far side we got all our
baggage made fast to the sides of the pad--a sort of mattress on the
elephant's back--as it knelt on the shore, and on the top of the pad we
stretched ourselves and held on to the ropes as the elephant heaved up.
Quite a string of men tailed out behind us over the sands with cartridge
bags, and gun cases on their shoulders. On the bank we found a Burman
guide at a little village beside a small white pagoda. There were
yellow-robed priests walking in the groves of trees and palms, and they
noticed us I daresay, but made no sign that to their way of thinking we
were doing harm to ourselves by going to kill snipe--the Phoungyi does
not judge.

We then entered the kaing grass of which we had seen so much from the
steamer and realised the difficulty of getting at game in this country.
For miles we rode along a narrow path and these reeds were high over our
heads, and as we sat we were about ten or eleven feet from the
ground![33] Tiger, gaur, deer, elephant and many other kinds of big game
were all in this jungly country which extends for miles, so getting a
shot at any of them is a good deal a matter of luck, or time. I expect
it was lucky that we did not see anything but the tracks of these
beasts, for I think my companion would have tried his small bore at
anything. We had a certain anxiety about Gaur, miscalled Bison, for our
steed had been badly gored by one--its hind quarters showed the
scars--and it was warranted to bolt when it winded them, in which event
we would probably have got left, as the reeds and branches would have
cleared us off the pad. For five miles we followed the lane in the
grass, and passed two Burmans, midway, carrying fruit; they dodged into
the reed stems and let us pass and laughingly admitted they were afraid.
Here and there we came to a place where we could see over the top of the
savannah for a mile or two and expected to spot deer or elephant in the
park-like scenery, till we remembered the depth of the grass.

[33] Col. Pollock says the grass of these savannahs runs from ten to
thirty feet high--"Wild Sports of Burmah and Assam."

The slow action of our steed made me think we were getting only slowly
over the ground, but I noticed the men behind had pretty hard walking to
keep up with us. After an hour or so, we turned off the path and trod
down a road for ourselves through the reeds, and came to jungle of trees
and undergrowth, with heavy foliaged creepers growing up the trees and
from branch to branch, and air roots hanging from aloft, straight as
bell ropes--up and down--into creeks, below undergrowth and out into the
open again; the elephant being judge of where the ground would bear us,
gingerly putting out its great tender feet, sinking deep into mud,
making us cling on to the back stays of the pad, then dragging its feet
out of the soft mud with a loud sucking sound, leaving great holes
slowly filling up with black water. When a tree stump came in our path
he would very deliberately crush it down with a rending sound, or if a
big branch barred our way, up came the great trunk and slowly folded
round it, and down it came with a crash, and was bent under foot.
Sometimes a branch was too thick and strong: then the mahout drew his
dah, gave three or four chops within the width of an inch--the elephant
waiting meantime--when up would come the trunk again, and down went the
timber. These Kachin dahs must be well tempered[34] and have a fine
edge, for our mahout cut filmy creepers hanging lightly as a hair, as
easily as thick branches.

[34] I noticed later they were not ground to an edge, but shaved with
steel spoke-shave.

About ten we got to the jheel; a swamp in an open space of about sixty
acres, of water and grass; of a fresh green, surrounded by low woods.
Fresh tracks of sambhur and other deer were round it and signs of tiger;
so much big game had passed that there were deeply worn paths. I've no
doubt that by waiting there, one could have had a shot at big game
before long. It made me wish, with all my heart, for time and my 450
cordite express, and I half decided to send for it to Rangoon. Snipe was
our hope in the meantime, so we got off some clothes and plunged into
the marsh and up got snipe at our first step, and we brought down three,
and thought we were in for a great bag. But there was rather too much
water; as we went on it came well over our knees, and every now and then
up the tops of our thighs so there was too little holding ground for us
or snipe. We walked in line, laboriously, halting every now and then to
wait for one or the other to flounder out of a deep place; and when the
sun got up the glare from the water made me think of sunstroke; however,
we persevered and managed to get fourteen couple before lunch time, and
I found my American five-shooter the very thing for the work.

How I wish I had known of there being such good snipe shooting at
Mandalay, I would certainly have had a go at it there: I think 120
couple was a recent bag to one gun in twenty-four hours.

It was very odd having the elephant walking after us, it seemed so much
at home; with his length and number of legs, it could walk slowly but
comfortably where we bipeds had to struggle. As it went it twisted its
trunk round bunches of the water grass, tore them out of the water and
swished the mud off the roots by beating it to and fro across its
forelegs till it was clean, and then she stowed it down her mouth, bunch
after bunch--what an enormous quantity of food they must swallow! The
mahout on its back was in a good place to mark down dead birds; if it
had been taught to point and retrieve, it would have been even more
useful.

[Illustration]

The walking was very tiring, one leg on firm ground and the other up to
the top of the thigh in mud and water for one second, and vice versa the
next; and the trees kept any breeze there was off the jheel, so we
streamed from the tops of our heads. I don't think I ever in my life
felt so hot when shooting--or a bottle of lager at lunch so
delicious!--even the rough native cheroot came in as a pure joy!

The elephant stood beside us as we lunched, under the trees, flapping
its ears in the shade, and occasionally adding a branch of a tree to its
morning meal. The sunlight and patches of shadow on its grey skin made
its great bulk blend into the background of stems and deep shadows, so
that I understood what hunters say about the difficulty of seeing them
in heavy jungle: it was as hard to see as an elk in pines. I wondered
why it did not join its wild companions in the neighbourhood; for it was
once wild, and there was nothing to prevent it going off if it pleased.

After lunch we decided to try for duck; that turned out a failure, but
not for anything would I have missed the experience of wandering through
jungle, where, without an elephant, we could not have moved. I am glad I
am not yet very keen about orchids, or how my teeth would have watered!
for they clothed the branches above us; they seemed generally to grow on
branches about twenty or thirty feet from the ground, towards the light
and air; some trees were literally covered with them at that height.

Our men we had to leave behind, as there was no track, and the Burman
guide climbed up the crupper beside us, and we wandered away to some
pools he knew, where there might be duck. I think we dozed a little--it
was so hot and silent in the forest. There was a feeling of being lost,
for there were no landmarks in the interminable beauty of tall trees and
undergrowth. It was a puzzle for the mahout and elephant to find
openings wide enough to take us and the side boxes on the pad through
the tangle. Often a wrong direction was taken, and a circuit had to be
made to get round a tree, a mass of creepers, or a deep pool. Both the
Burman and the elephant seemed to calculate, to a hair's breadth, the
height and width of all it carried. I think the corner of one box only
once touched a branch, and when we lay low no branches touched our
heads; either the Burman's dah or the elephant's trunk cleared them off
us.

The first pool was lit by a golden shaft of light through the greenery,
rising fish were breaking its smooth weedy surface, but duck there were
none; so we plunged on in the silence in another direction, came out
into the kaing grass again, left the comparatively open forest behind
us, and entered a trackless sea of reeds, which closed round us thickly
on all sides.

[Illustration]

The elephant surged through this steadily, waving its trunk in front,
then pressing the reeds to right and left, or raising it high, and
pulling down masses that threatened to sweep us off the pad. The dust
and the heat of the sun overhead, and the monotony of the surging sound
was a little oppressive.--It reminded me of moments long ago, in smaller
reeds, and a small boy hunting duck round a loch in Perthshire; the
stuffy, closed-in feeling, the crashing of the reeds, and the silence
when you stopped to listen. Here we paused too, now and again, and the
Burman stood up on the pad and tried to get our bearings. We got pretty
well lost, I believe. Then on we went, the huge beast crushing through
the endless savannahs, as at home in its reeds as a liner surging
through pathless seas. The motion and sound kept going all night in my
dreams, the slow rolling of vast bones and muscles under the pad, and
the crash of the reeds giving way, and the swish as they closed behind
us. Here, as in the jungle, pretty blue convolvuli twisted up dead reeds
nearly to our level, and peeped up at the sun. When we finally struck
the long-sought for pools there were no duck, leastwise, but two, and
some snake-birds, as they call a cormorant here that has a neck like an
S. Round the edges the grass had been regularly grazed, so I'd bet on a
shot there for one who could wait, but, apart from the shot, what would
one not give for the pleasure of watching some of Burmah's beasts in
their natural state. We were both a little tired by the time we got back
in the afternoon to the path to the river, and an hour or two after,
when we crossed the sands, and slid off our elephant's back at the
river's edge, we had to take kinks out of our lower extremities, and
even our elephant seemed very exhausted as it stood in the shallows, and
slowly lifted water in its trunk and squirted it into its mouth. She and
her mahout lodged the night on the far side.

As we crossed the river in our canoes, the sun was setting, and Carter
said, "Isn't this like the West Highlands?" I had been thinking the
same, almost admitting to myself that this country is perhaps as
beautiful--certainly to the sportsman who neither rents nor owns lands
at home, it must be out and away better. The view from his window in the
Fort to the west was splendid. The Military Police Bungalow is on the
top of the river bank, and beneath us stretched the sands, and the river
reflecting violet and gold from the after-glow; then the rolling woods
and the distant Chin hills, in purple and red, against the sunset, with
one tall rain-column, very slowly passing across the yellow sky. Swing a
branch of a heavy-leaved tree across the top of the wide window in
Japanesque arrangement, put two men, two pipes, and two pegs in the
foreground, the rising bubbles sparkling yellow in the level sunset
rays, and the pipe's incense ascending in blue perpendiculars, and you
have a suggestion of the perfect peace and entire absence of bustle
which we associate with a certain Valley of Pong.

[Illustration]

It made "trop de chose," to quote the great Carolus, to go out to dinner
after such a full day, but the occasion was somewhat important; General
Macleod and Mrs Macleod and his staff were to be entertained at the
Military Police Mess.

The dinner was beautifully done, flowers and menu could not have
possibly been better, though the party was not large, only our two hosts
of the Military Police, the General and his wife, and his aide-de-camp,
and G. and myself. I learned afterwards the A.D.C. had charmed G. with
tales of the dangers of crossing into China without escort and permits.

We had a great entertainment or Pwé after. We took out cigars and chairs
outside, and sat in a half circle in moonlight and shadow. In front of
us was a space of silvery grey sand, the stage we will call it; at the
back of the scene was a sentinel's box on the stage right, to the left
the lower part of a tree, and, between these, a low breastwork of earth,
all in shadow against a moonlit distance of mist, and woods and
mountains. Enter left (spectators right), the supers from shade of
trees, carrying lamps, they are Indian soldiers, Sikhs possibly, in
mufti, you cannot distinguish them easily, they sit in shadow, two deep
round the back of the stage on the ground and low breastwork, the lamps
at intervals on the ground throw up a little warm light on their faces:
the hubble-bubble is lit, and goes round from hand to hand, and the
smoke of the tobacco hangs a little.

Enter left, dancers and musicians slowly, with shuffling steps. The
quiet is broken by a note on a gong, struck softly, and there is an
almost inaudible flute melody on reeds, and liquid notes struck on empty
bamboos. These dusky figures are Kachin men, with red turbans, and
short, white, very loose kilts and bolero jackets. Some of the reflected
light from the sand shows their curious, serious, boyish faces. They are
short, but well-knit; they dance in a slow figure in a line, hand in
hand, the bare feet shuffling with a little sound in the dust. The music
is very faint, but you long to be able to remember the uncommon air that
seems to have caught the quiet of the hills, and the depths of the
bamboo woods.

These Kachin players are natives of the mountains here, and to the
north. They are being brought into order, and indeed, a number are
enlisting in the Military Police. Till recently, they were free, wild
mountaineers, doing a little farming and raiding and vendetta business.

They went off, and came back from the deep shadows of the trees with
glittering swords and more strident music, and louder beating on gongs,
and harsher notes on chanters, and a loud booming sound on a narrow,
six-foot-six drum with bell-shaped mouth; and the figures danced
quickly, going backwards, in circles, and breaking into groups, the
swords whirling and flickering beautifully in the moonlight, and the
audience clapped hands gently in time, and there was an occasional
heugh! as used to be the way in our Highland Reel, before the invention
of the--lowlander, the screaming "eightsome."

I wish I remembered more of the Pwé--how I wish I could see it over and
over again, till I could remember part of one of these quiet reedy
tunes, so that I could recall this scene and the charm of Burmah
whenever I pleased--for me, not even a scent, or colour, or form, can
recall past scenes so vividly as a few notes of an air, the rhythm of
some folk-song--a few minor notes, an Alla--Allah, and you breathe the
hot air of desert, and feel the monotony of black men, and sand, and
sun--Thrum--thrum--thrum, and you are in the soft, busy night, in Spain,
and again a few minor notes, strung together, perhaps, by Greig, in the
Saeter, and you feel the scent of the pines in the valley rising to the
snow--a concertina takes me back to warm golden sunsets in the dog
watches in the Doldrums!--guess, I am fortunate receiving sweet
suggestions from a concertina!

8th February.--Up in the morning very early, and went with the Algys to
witness the Review of Captain Kirke's Kachin and Native Military Police
before the General. Mrs Algy looked on from the Fort, and General
Macleod and Captain Kirke stood at the saluting base, Mrs Macleod on a
white pony behind, and Mr Algy of the Civil Police, and myself
represented the B.P. The newly-recruited Kachins' marching and drill was
perfection. Their rifles and bayonets they handled with precision, and
as if they loved them. They are small men, but well shaped, not quite so
bombé, but even more lithe-looking than Ghurkas, Captain K. says they
are as good for hill-work; in fact, if it is possible, they are better!
They stormed a village after the march past, which was a charming sight
to see. The people in the village used black powder, so you could tell
from what parts of the brown, sun-dried cane houses the shots came from.
They took cover wonderfully, considering it was only sham fight, ran in
in sections, generally aimed at something, and fired without flinching,
though they wore boots, which must have been a new and painful
experience. I felt quite martial myself, and felt how excellent it must
be to go fighting with some hundreds or thousands of lives to stake on
an issue, and, so reflecting, my admiration increased for those private
gentlemen at home, and in the Colonies, who went with only their own
lives to Africa, for somebody else to stake.

In the evening the Officers came to the D.-C. Bungalow, and we had
music, and drank to the health of our unknown host who is still in the
hills, and Captain Kirke pencilled a route map for our ride into China.



CHAPTER XXXIV


Yesterday afternoon we did a little preparation for our trek into China.
Mr Kohn, the storekeeper in Bhamo, imports to the East, the essentials
of western civilization (in my opinion claret and cut Virginian) and the
etceteras; Cross and Blackwell things. And the West, he supplies with
Shan swords and orchids, Kachin bags, ornaments in jade, gold and
silver, and all sorts of curios. So we got bread from him for seven
days, and tinned butter, milk, coffee, and a supply of the dried leaves
of a certain aromatic shrub, for an infusion called Tea, also his
Uisquebagh, and live ducks and hens in baskets, and six Chinese ponies,
and three Chinamen--quite an extensive piece of shopping which took two
hours at least.

... It is really very pleasant to feel we are actually going with our
own mule train into the wilds, where even Cook's tickets and Empires
peter out; there is almost the same exciting feeling as of sailing into
uncharted seas, and seeing new lands.

Our mule train cannot exactly be called interminable; but we have four
riding ponies to add to the live stock already mentioned, making a
caravan of ten beasts. Besides the three Chinese men, there is our
Madrassee boy, an Indian cook, in black top-coat and black Delhi cap; he
has a plain but honest face, and a stutter and a few words of English,
and there is a youthful Burman to help him, and three Indian soldiers,
Sowars, to ride behind our illustrious selves! Quite an interesting
crowd when you come to think of it, for its size and babel of tongues!
but, my certie! I'd nearly left out the cook's charming and stately
Burmese wife! She is the most decorative part of the show; with a yellow
orchid in her black hair, coppery-brown lungy, green-jacket and pink
scarf floating from her shoulders; she carries a black gingham umbrella
in one hand, and in the other, of course, a big white cheroot, and
behind her toddles her dog, liver and white, half terrier, half
daschhound.

We got our packages fast on the pack saddles, and the procession on the
road only three hours after the time we had aimed at, which we thought
not bad for beginners, and G. and I followed, in a pony trap, with the
four ponies and two Sowars, her maid being left in the care of the
American missionary's wife.

Out of Bhamo for some miles, the road is macadamised, broad level and
straight, with grand columnar trees on either side, and leaves on its
surface. Every mile or so you meet or pass groups of Kachins, Chinese or
Shans, or people you can't quite place. They walk in Indian file as they
are accustomed to in narrow hill and jungle paths. The Chinese men are
without women and carry burdens, the Kachins carry their swords slung
under the left arm, and their women carry their burdens. Some tribesmen
have bows and arrows as well as swords. The Kachin woman's costume is of
a pretty colour, a little dark velvet jacket with short sleeves, a kilt
to the knee, and dark putties, both of woven colours like tartan, in
diced and in herringbone and running patterns. She carries the load in a
narrow, finely-woven basket on her back, and her black hair is dressed
after the fashion in Whitechapel. She is short with very strong calves.
Her jaunty husband comes behind, with his red bonnet or turban cocked on
one side, the sword and red tasselled bag hung from his left shoulder.
The square Kachin bag or satchel is a pure joy of bright threads and
patches and wonderful needlework, and is a little suggestive of a
magnificent sporran. His expression is said to be sly, but I don't think
so. His head is held straight on a longish neck for his size, his dark,
slightly oblique eyes are wide open and mildly startled looking--ditto
his mouth, he is neater in figure than the Chinese, and does not look so
heavy and potent. The top of his head is wide, his nose short and jaw
and chin square but not deep.

As we drove through the fallen leaves and the shade on this fine road,
the sun setting behind us lit up the tallest trees and branches in front
of us in gold and green against the violet hills in the East. I
scribbled figures in sketch-book and G. drove, and the syce sat behind
with my gun handy. I also kept a corner of an eye lifting for jungle
fowl, and by Jove! we were not two miles out when a hen ran across the
road a hundred yards ahead and the sketches flew, and out came the gun;
but instead of driving on and getting down when past as I ought--we
stopped, and I went on, and when I came up to the place saw a cock
scurrying along, and fired just as it got behind a bamboo clump, and I
said--"tut, tut," and was very disappointed; as have been many men
before me, by the same trifling miscarriage. It seemed a handsome little
bird, a glowing bit of orange red colour. It's as fascinating as novel,
the sensation of driving through country where you may see game at any
time, and which all belongs to you and is gamekeepered by Government for
you--it makes you feel a share of the county actually belongs to you.

I have read that you should get your terrier into the trap about this
part of the road; the leopards have demonstrated this by collaring those
that have followed the few white men's carriages that have driven along
it. You may, see big game from it--I only saw pigs; they crossed the
road, grey and bristly fellows, I'd swear they were wild, but I met
Shans driving others in leash so like that now I am not quite sure.

It gets cold and dark as we get to the end of our drive, and we are glad
to get down and into a rest-house of bamboo, built on trestles; it is
like a pretty little shooting-box in the midst of shooting of
measureless extent. The moon shines on its thatch, and the lamp lit
inside tells us our caravan has arrived before us. The country is flat
here, with fields and little jungle. We see the woods rising to the
hills which we will reach to-morrow, and wisps of pungent smoke from a
village near hang low across the fields. A few minutes walk brings us to
where a smith works under a tall solitary tree; the smith, as usual, is
brawny, and sparks fly up and bellows blow, and children blink at the
glow just as they do elsewhere. The apprentice works the bellows, and at
a nod from the smith pulls out the glowing metal, and the two thump away
at it cheerily, and shove it back and heap up the charcoal, the bellows
go again, and the smith has three whiffs at his pipe; it is a dah, or
sword, they are making, welding one bit of iron after another into one
piece.

[Illustration]

We dine by candle light, and the moonlight comes through the hanging
screen window and through the spaces between the planks of the floor,
and our music is the distant ringing of the anvil, and the intermittent
liquid notes of a Burmese reed instrument in the village.

After dinner, the mail, which we had not time to read yesterday, and our
home news from the cold North-West. Two letters are from "The Grey
City," both from authors, one with a word picture of that most dreary
sight, our empty High Street on a Sunday morning, the poor people in
their dens and the better class in St Giles; the other tells us that the
"Boyhood of R. L. S." does well, as of course we knew it would; so we
pass the evening pleasantly enough with thoughts of East and West, and
friends here and there--even though that jungle fowl did get clean
away.



CHAPTER XXXV


Kalychet, 10th February.--It seems quite a long time since we were last
night in the plains, in mist and haze and moonlight. It rained, and was
very damp indeed during the night. Our slumbers were disturbed by a
groaning, creaking, wooden-wheeled lowland train of carts, that seemed
to suffer agony for ages--it went so slowly past and out of hearing;
perhaps it was the squeaking of the wheels that set all the cocks
a-crowing. The more the wheels creak the better, for the Burman believes
this creaking and whistling keeps away the "Nats" or spirits of things.
The night seemed long and unrefreshing, and in the grey of the morning
we found our blankets were wet with fog. But that was down below, now we
are up on higher ground, and the air is drier and pleasant.

In early morning we drove in the pony cart half the way from Momouk to
this Kalychet, the sowars riding behind with the four ponies. The road
lay through green aisles of bamboo that met overhead, and it was cold
and wet under them for some hours.

At mid-day we stopped and the syce went back with the pony cart, and I
unpacked some fishing tackle to have a try for Mahseer on a river some
distance beyond our halting place. I selected a rod from the million of
bamboos round us, one of decent growth, not the longest, they ran to
ninty feet at a guess, and fastened snake rings on with adhesive plaster
from our medical stores, the stuff you get in rolls, an adaptation of a
valuable tip from _The Field_;[35] the tip was for mending rods, but it
does as well, or better, for putting on temporary rings.

[35] An improvement on the splendid tip is to use the gummy tape used
for insulating electric wire.

It was a grand river, what I'd call a small salmon river, tumbling into
pools over great water-worn boulders, with a tangle of reeds and bamboos
above flood mark. It was piping hot fishing, and the water seemed rather
clear for the phantom I tried. I had two on for a second, and had a
number of touches from small Mahseer that I saw following the minnow,
but failed to land anything, so alas!--I can't swear I've caught a
Mahseer yet or killed a jungle fowl--my two small ambitions just now. G.
collected seeds and roots of wild plants to send home, so she had a
better bag than I had. We rode back to our halting place to lunch--or
tiffen, or whatever it's called in these parts--a sort of solid
breakfast at one o'clock,--on the side of the pony track; the Chinese
pack-ponies wandered round eating bamboo leaves and tough looking reeds.
Along the road we passed many groups of Kachins, all with swords and
mild wondering eyes. This halt was rather a business I thought,--all the
packages unladened, pots and pans and fires, and a complicated lunch. I
incline to our home fashion when living out of doors, of a crust and a
drink at mid-day and a square meal after the day's outing.

As we were getting our cavalcade started, along came Captain Kirke and
Carter in shirt-sleeves, riding back hard to Headquarters. They are hard
as nails but looked just the least thing tired, having ridden a great
distance since yesterday on an inspecting tour from some hill village.
They hoped to get to Bhamo by night _if_ their steeds held out.

For the rest of the day we rode, at first with our whole crew, latterly
by ourselves and the two Sepoys:--cantered a hundred yards or so and
jog-trotted, ambled, walked, cantered again and climbed slowly up
hillside paths; through damp hollows, between brakes of high reeds with
beautiful fluffy seeds, under tall trees festooned with creepers with
lilac flowers, and over hard sunny bits of the path with butterflies
floating up against us, and overhead, orchids and pendant air roots and
wild fruits. I suppose it was the beautiful surroundings that made the
ride so enjoyable, and the change from the plain to the hill air.

[Illustration]

Towards evening we rode up a saddle ridge that crossed the valley along
which we had been riding, and came out of trees and bamboos into the
open. Here we found another pretty public-work's dak bungalow of dark
teak uprights and cross beams, with white-washed cane matting between
and neat grass thatch laid over bamboos, with wide views up and down the
valley of rolling woods and distant hills. To the north-east a distant
range of blue hills cut across the valley, touches of sunlight showed
they were covered with forest; below us the path led zigzagging into the
yellow and green bamboos. Looking back to the south down the valley we
had come up, the Chin hills bounded the horizon, but between us and them
lay miles and miles of rolling woods, and a haze at the foot of the
hills over the plain of the Irrawaddy. The air was delicious, the views
enthralling, the lodging comfortable, the country we might call our own,
with no one about, except the native Durwan, or caretaker, and his
Kachin women folk, only in the distance on a hillside were two Kachins
clearing a patch of jungle--otherwise solitude and peace. Our ponies and
baggage arrived all right but some time after us; it ought to have been
looted if what recent writers say about the Kachins is right--that "they
do no honest labour, but live by lifting cattle, looting caravans, and
stealing anything upon which they can lay their hands." Krishna and all
the others set at once to unpack and get ready our meal, which felt
rather late--I should have timed them to arrive before us. It grew
chilly in the evening, and our red blankets soon seemed uncommonly
attractive.

Sunday forenoon.--You might, if of a contemplative mind, and not
harassed by desire for sport, or movement, or travel, stay for many
hours, even days, with great content at this Kalychet bungalow, looking
out over forest and glen, inhaling the pure air, and even run to poetry
were you of the age.

    "Watching shadows, shadows chasing,"

--over the forest-clad mountains which have only cleared patches here
and there, where Kachins have cut the bamboos, taken a crop or two and
then moved on, leaving the ground to lie fallow and grow over weeds
again. On the hillside there are two of these clearings across the track
above us, some two acres or so in extent, with the bamboos cut and
stumps of trees projecting, and in the middle of one of these there is a
native hut, like a fragile boat-house, projecting from the slope of the
hill. Narrow footpaths through the bamboos lead from our cleared space
up to them. Two little Kachin women are climbing up these paths, their
cattle in front of them; each has a basket on her back, and she spins as
she goes--now they are followed by a sprightly boy and his sister, the
boy straight as a dart, with a sword slung across his back, and his gay
red-tasselled satchel on his left side; both have bare feet, and neither
of them seem to heed the thorns. The girl has a loose bundle of thin
hoops of brass and black cane round her hips, under her short black
jacket, and two great silver torques round her neck and breast; her
clothes are dark blue, black, and red.

[Illustration]

... There is the quiet of the mountains; only slightly broken at
intervals of an hour or so when a caravan passes, but sometimes these
pass perfectly silently without stopping; barefooted carriers with their
merchandise slung across the shoulder on bamboos, and sometimes with
ponies, and bells jingling cheerily. Just now, one has come from the
China frontier, some ten carriers wearing pointed straw hats several
feet wide. They unlimber and drink a little water from a spring that
spouts out of the side of a hill through a bamboo; they are quiet
people--their voices and the gurgling of the spring just reach us. Then
from Burmah side come women carriers, Shans, I think, old and young, in
dark blue clothes, short petticoats and tall turbans; they come sturdily
up the hill and joke with the Chinese coolies as they pass without
stopping down the zigzag path into the bamboos, by the path our ponies
and people have already followed. But here is movement! and a cheery
jingling!--a whole string of Chinese pack ponies, eighty at least,
coming up from Bhamo, each laden with bales, a Chinaman to every three
ponies. At the end stalks a lean Indian. I suppose he owns the show--his
wife follows, a very black thing, a Madrassee, to judge by her not very
white and inelegant hangings. They drink and spit at the spring, and he
sees us and salaams, and looks in to see the durwan, who is one of his
countrymen.

[Illustration]

But now we must be jogging too, though it is pleasant here. We leave one
sowar behind, in pain he says, but I doubt if he's very ill. So we get
on to our rather big polo ponies, one black, the other white, and go
down the valley on the path to China--said bridle path quite dry now
excepting under bamboo clumps, though it rained hard in the night.

7 P.M.--Kulong Cha--"There's no place like home" they say, and I thought
so; now I think there is, perhaps even better. Our own highlands must
have been like this before General Wade and Sir Walter Scott opened them
to the tourist; the Pass of Leny or where Bran meets Tay, when there was
more forest, and only bridle tracks, and men going armed, must have been
like this, even to the free fishing and shooting.

We are in a cup-shaped wooden glen, our rest-house eighty feet up the
hillside above the track, and a brawling burn that meets the Taiping a
few hundred yards beyond our halting place. The burn suggests good
fishing, and the Taiping looks like a magnificent salmon river. It is 7
P.M. and Krishna busy setting dinner, and your servant writing these
notes to the sound of many waters and by a candle dimly burning, for the
sun has gone below the wooded hills and left us in a soft gloom. Several
camp fires begin to twinkle along the road where the caravans we
overtook, and others from the east, are preparing for the night. Our
Chinese coolies too have their fires going near us, the smoke helping to
soften the already blurred evening effect. We have had, for us, a long
afternoon's ride--a little tiring and hot in the bottom of the valley
when the path came down to the Taiping river,--a winding and twisting
path, round little glens to cross foaming burns, level enough for a
hundred yards canter, then down, and up, hill sides in zigzags, here and
there wet and muddy with uncertain footing, through groves of bamboos
and under splendid forest trees, some creepers hanging a hundred feet
straight as plumb lines, others twisted like wrecked ships' cables, and
flowering trees, with delicious scent every hundred yards or so. We felt
inclined to stop and look, and sketch vistas of sunlit foliage through
shadowy aisles of feathery bamboos, or splendid open forest views with
mighty trees, and the river and its great salmon pools. There were
splendid butterflies, some large and black as velvet, with a patch of
vivid ultramarine, others yellow with cerulean, and another deep fig
green with a blazing spot of primrose, and pigeons, and of course jungle
fowl, because I had not my gun!

[Illustration]

Our caravan arriving here was picturesque. They came round the corner
over the burn bridge, walking briskly, the sick sowar riding in the
rear, the cook and his Burmese wife leading--she so neat, with a pink
scarf, green jacket, and plum-coloured silk skirt, her belongings in a
handkerchief slung over her shoulder from a black cotton parasol, and in
her left hand, carried straight as a saint's lilies, a branch of white
flowers for G.; then came the Burman youth, also with some bright
colour, a red scarf round his black hair and tartan kilt; he carried my
gun, and the Chinamen in weather-worn blue dungarees, loose tunics and
shorts, and wide yellow umbrella hats slung on their backs, with their
shaggy brown and white ponies. We arrived at five, the mules and baggage
at six, and already dinner is almost cooked, our belongings in place,
beds made, mosquito curtains up,--and this day's journal done!

... Wish somebody would write this day's log for me--I must fish! The
burn in front is in grand spate, so is the Taiping river, roaring down
discoloured. If I know aught of Highland spates, they will both be down
in the hour and fishable. The glen is full of sun from behind us, and
the mist is rising in lumps. It rained in the night; when we turned in,
the mist had come down in ridges on us, and it felt stuffy and warm
under blankets, and the sound of the waters was muffled by the mist. I
awoke with a world of vivid white light in my eyes, the glen was
quivering with lightning, and the gods played awful bowls overhead!
Green trees up the hillsides and contorted mist wreaths showed as in
daylight, and then were buried in blackness and thunder. Then the rain
came! to put it intil Scottis--a snell showir' dirlin' on the thatch.
There was the bleezin cairn, and the craig that lowped and dinnled i'
the dead-mirk dail, the burn in spate and the rowin flood o' the Taiping
dinging their looves thegither at their tryst i' the glen--ane gran' an'
awesome melee. But I don't like these effects, so I buried myself in red
blankets, and as the rain thundered down, thought of our coolies; I
expect they got from under their hats and went below the floor of our
bungalow. The atmosphere, after an hour, grew suddenly pleasant and
cool--a breeze rose--there was light in the left, and the glint of many
stars--and I pulled on another blanket and slept at last refreshingly.
What a night the Chinese up the road must have had. No jungle however
thick could have kept out that rain, and it is thin where they are, for
many campers have cut down the branches and bamboos for fodder and
firewood. They sleep with only a piece of matting over their bodies, the
wide straw hat over their head and shoulders; and their fires, of
course, were extinguished. The sort of thing our Volunteers enjoyed in
S.A., and for which they got rheumatism and experience, and a medal, and
no opportunity to wear it.

One of the sepoys has cut me a bamboo, so it's time to be off to put on
snake-rings, and get out tackle and try somehow to hang on to one of
these Mahseer that I have heard of so much and of which I know so
little. Local information there is none, but I have spoons and phantoms,
and so--who knows!



CHAPTER XXXVI

[Illustration]

The above notes and remarks, full of hope, were written with a little
impatience to be "on the water." Now, after two hours scrambling through
jungle to and from the river, I've less hope and an empty basket. It was
hot and still down in the glen, like the vale wherein sat grey-haired
Saturn, and--

    "Forest on forest hung about his head
    Like cloud on cloud. No stir of air was there,
    Not so much life as on a summer's day
    Robs not one light seed from the feathered grass,
    But where the dead leaf fell, there did it rest."

and fruit and flowers too lay sodden under foot. It was tough work
getting through the few hundred yards of jungle of creeper thorns and
boulders to the river's edge. I fished two or three sheltered runs, and
came back soaking from within and without from the heat and wet foliage,
scratched by thorns, with ears drumming from the noise of many waters,
and no basket, and the river not down two inches and muddy as could be!

We must be off again now--or at least let the pack ponies and servants
go.

12th, Monday.--Nampoung, after two hours on our little gees, two hours
that seemed days! Hot and stuffy down in the glens in the din and roar
of the Taiping in spate, climbing up for a thousand feet, a hundred
yards on the level, twisting round corries--such fascinating corries,
stuffed with every sort of tropic growth, like the pictures one saw in
stories of Jules Verne, but in such rich varied colouring! I vow I saw
creepers of two hundred feet, wild plantains with fruit, and great
ferns, heavy-leaved dark foliage and feathery bamboos, the leaves yellow
and dropping and covering our path with a crisp brown carpet.

[Illustration]

We rode generally in single file, our right sides against rocks or
cuttings in the yellow earth bank, and every here and there were views
through the foliage, sometimes almost straight down below us a thousand
feet, where we could catch a glimpse of foaming river and hear its roar
coming up to us.

[Illustration]

The sowars cut branches for us to hold over our shoulders to keep the
heat of the afternoon sun off neck and back--Birnam woods _a deux_, and
Nampoung fort instead of Macbeth's castle.

Nampoung--the edge of the Empire!--We are now well into the Kachin
Highlands, 6000 to 7000 feet above the sea, and the air is delicious.
The last part of our ride here was very steep. G. and her pony were only
just able to scrape up together. I and the sepoys had to walk. Almost in
the steepest part some sixty Chinese mules and ponies came down, and we
pulled aside at a bit of the path where two could barely pass. It was a
cheery sight, the long line of ponies and the blue coats and mushroom
hats, jogging, slipping, and jangling down the zigzag path, with an
occasional cheery shout to the beasts as they disappeared round
corners, appeared again, and finally showed a mile below, when only the
sound of their bells came up to us faintly from the tropic woods in the
bottom of the Nampoung Valley.

I am not sure that having reached a point within pistol-shot of the back
of China fills one with any enormous sense of accomplished endeavour.
What strikes me mildly is the feeling of being at the present extremity
of British possessions, and we speculate where the March may be in years
to come--East or West? The tiny little frontier fort we have arrived at
is on a saddle-back hill, and overlooks the angle of China between two
valleys, that of the Taiping and its tributary, the Nampoung. As we
passed through the wire entanglements on the summit, after our climb up,
the Indian sentinel facing China across the glen struck me as being
rather a suggestive figure, so here he is.

[Illustration]

"Capin Kurruk" was our effective password. Kirke I suppose, had
heliographed our arrival, and the Subadar and the native doctor met us.
The Subadar, a Sikh, I think, had almost the only Indian face I have
seen so far that I liked--big, potent, and with the appearance of a
sportsman and gentleman. The doctor was of rather an opposite type,
though clever-looking, and spoke a little English.

The dark bungalow was a few hundred yards down the hill from the fort
looking down the valley we had come up into the sunset. On these higher
hills I see more Kachin clearings, and with the glass make out their
sturdy little figures in the tracks leading from one clearing to the
other, interminable bamboo jungle above and below them. They certainly
have a splendid country to hold. They are said to have come into Burmah
with the great Mogul invasion; and when the Northerners retreated, the
Kachins stayed and took up their quarters in the hill tops, and have
raided the low countries since.

The cut of their women's dress resembles the reindeer skin dress of the
Laps in north of Norway, and the geometric ornaments are similar, and
the torque or heavy penanular necklet of silver has ends like the
druidical serpents head.

12th February.--Down at Kulong Cha the night was warm and stuffy! last
night up here at Nampoung it was precious cold. We could hardly sleep,
though we had on our whole wardrobe. The weak point was our having only
two thin quilts underneath on the charpoys. As these bungalows are all
made after one design on the principle of a meat-safe, to keep you cool
in the low hot levels, they are only too effective up here. So we turned
out very early to find a spot where the sun shone hot on the Empire's
wall. In an hour or two we will be down to the Nampoung River, and it
will be hot there as an oven.



CHAPTER XXXVII


Lives there a man who has sat by the riverside at mid-day in the glen,
with a pipe and a cup, and a fish in the bag, the air hot and full of
the sound of running waters, and the sun laughing in the spirals of the
mountain dew, who has not felt that beautiful life could offer nothing
better than another fish? (I'd have brought a "man or woman" into this
already involved interrogatory sentence, but for the pipe!) So we feel,
as we rest by the side of Nampoung River, between China and Upper
Burmah, after a morning's ride and an hour's fishing. There is a
delicious blend of wood, and hill, and running water, and we have a good
Mahseer in the bag--or pot rather--a perfect beauty, though not quite up
to the record weights we read of; but it played handsomely, and it comes
in handily for lunch. I got it at the tail of a lovely clear running
pool,[36] just above the ford where the caravans cross from China. The
river must be much netted by the coolies who camp for the night here; as
I wound up before lunch one of these, a Chinaman, with a boy came and
cast a circular net with great skill over half the pool in which I'd
landed the Mahseer, but they didn't get anything, as I expect I'd driven
the Mahseer into the rough water at the top of the pool. Down the river
where it meets the Taiping I am told there is splendid fishing, but I
must content myself with the hope that "a time will come." It is
pleasant in the meantime; there are sweet scents in the air, and
pleasant colours. Our little camp kitchen, one hundred yards down the
river, wreaths the trees with wisps of blue smoke. The Burmese girl and
her brother wear bright red and white, and near us there are wild
capsicums and lemon trees dangling all over with yellow fruit and
sweet-scented blossoms. The fruit has rather a coarse skin, but the
juice is pleasant enough under the circumstances.

[36] Fresh food a treat, as larder is becoming "tinny."

How good the Mahseer was fried, with a touch of lemon! I daresay if it
had been big enough to feed all hands it would not have had such a
delicate flavour; it was rather like fresh herring. If our servants
hadn't much fish, I at least, helped their larder to a crow from a
swaying bough above us some forty odd yards--brought it down with a
four-inch barrelled Browning's colt. It and its comrades made a racket
above us, and disturbed a nap G. and I were having on the bank up the
river from our camp, so I drew as I lay and fired, and was fairly well
pleased with the shot; but the smiles and astonishment of some Chinese
and Kachins, who had gathered from I don't know where, and were very
unexpectedly showing their heads round us, were truly delightful, and
the feathers were off in a twinkling. I liked these aborigines'
expressions after the shot a good deal better than before.

   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .

Then we got up and went on to China, G. on her white pony, the writer on
foot, and when we came to the ford the pony wouldn't face the stream for
love or a stick, so I'd to carry G. pick-a-back, and it took me to the
thick of the thigh and G. well over her ankles. We walked three steps on
Chinese ground and stopped, and looked at the Chinese riffraff soldiery
that turned out from a cane house, and they likewise looked at us. As
they offered no signs of welcome, we began our homeward journey, took a
breath, said a prayer, and "hold tight," and waded back. These guards, I
am told, lose their heads if they allow anyone to pass without a permit;
we did not have one, so I can quite well understand their expressions.
G. knew this before we crossed, but I did not, so I reflect. I do not
suppose we could have forded sooner as the river was falling; a few
hours later, it could have been crossed with less difficulty.

   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .

So we got back to our ponies again, and followed our baggage jogging
back down from China, in and out, and up and down the valleys; and it
was just as nice as jogging up: we were glad to see the scenes of wood
and valley and foaming rivers over again from new points of view.

At Kulong Cha, we stopped the night in the Glen of the Sound of Many
Waters. A leopard called on us in the night--came into the back verandah
with a velvety thud, and so we each turned out with our Browning
revolvers, and when we met with candles dimly burning, each said we
"heard a rat!" It probably was in search of the terrier of the Burmese
wife of our native cook; but it did not succeed in the quest. Terriers'
lives here are short and full of sport, and leopards love them. What an
adventuresome day--Bag one crow--one Mahseer.

The desperate play of the Mahseer and our adventure into China had tired
us, so that we left Kulong Cha late, after a "European breakfast"; which
is to say, a breakfast at or about nine, and rode with much pleasure
till lunch time. Then fell in with our servants, camped in flickering
shadows under bamboos beside the yellow surging Taiping, the fire going
and the air redolent with an appetising smell of roast duck; our last
dear duck, whose fellow ducks and hens had accompanied us in the baskets
at either end of a pole across a coolie's back from Bhamo.

In less than fifteen minutes by the watch, we had a rod cut, salmon reel
attached and rings put on with the invaluable plaster, and all ready for
underhand casting. I fished the most magnificent-looking salmon pool;
there were fresh leopard tracks on a bank of sand beside it, and G. and
the Burmese woman made a great collection of orchids and bulbs, and ants
and stinging beasts as they climbed the trees. But alas, I got only one
fish, and it was no beauty! I rather think the Taiping water is too
discoloured and sandy for Mahseer.

If the ride in the morning was pleasant, that in the afternoon and
evening was even more so. As we came down the glens to Kalychet,--the
gold of the evening faded in front of us, and left us in soft
sweetly-scented darkness. The fire-flies lit up, and their little golden
lamps flickering alongside through the intricacies of the dark bamboo
stems helped to show us the track.

[Illustration]

... How tired we were when we at last reached the rest-house: tired of
the delight of the day and the difficulty of riding in the dark. It blew
a little during the night and grew cold, but we thought of the heat of
the day and made belief that we were very snug, though the wind did play
freely through the open floor and cane walls.

   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .

From Kalychet to Momouk in the sun in the morning was perhaps our most
enjoyable ride, such heat, and light, and exhilarating air, the air of
Norway with southern colour. Butterflies, huge black fellows with
dazzling blue patches, fluttered off the sandy bits of road, their
shadows blacker than themselves, the ponies' feet crackled the great
hard teak leaves. Out of forest and creepers into bamboo thickets; then
into glades with flowering kaing grass and wild fruit, redder than
tomatoes, hanging from creeping plants; across slender wooden bridges,
over roaring streams, always getting lower till the path came out on the
plains again on the wide macadamised road.

... It was rather sad getting on to the plain again. We left our hearts
in the Kachin Highlands, and thought, with a little melancholy, how long
it would be before we breathed clean hill air again.

Our train got a little disorganised getting into Momouk, the
pack-ponies' backs were the worse of wear, and our Boy had fallen out
with sore feet--the poor fellow had been working up to his collar. He
crept in hours after the others and collapsed, his bare soles cracked
and legs in pain. Silly fellow won't wear shoes for some caste or
religious superstition; he is more fitted for his clerks work than for
tramping. I held his pulse and tried to look as if I knew what to do
with a sick Hindoo, tucked him up in his blanket under the bungalow and
left him in charge of the native Durwan, and arranged to send out a
conveyance for him on the morrow from Bhamo.

Then we took the hard high road again in the pony cart, and it felt very
hum-drum trundling along on wheels on the straight level road across the
plain. Groups of Kachins passed us going homewards to the high ground we
had left, and we envied them; for hills are elevating and plains
depressing, whatever Shopenhaur or the Fleet Street philosopher may have
said to the contrary.

As the evening came on, we passed the Mission House, and the cemetery,
and the Dak bungalow and the Club, pretty nearly all there is of
European interest in Bhamo, excepting the Fort, and pulled up at the
Deputy-Commissioner's Bungalow. The D.C., Mr Leveson, was at home this
time, and gave us a very hospitable welcome.

... The military police officers to dinner. The conversation mostly on
sport; what constitutes a "good snipe shot," what may be called a "good
bag of snipe," and the many ramifications of these subjects. Then
music, our host singing, "When Sparrows Build," and Kirke sang and
played his own "Farewell to Burmah," of which both music and words
expressed the very essence of the charm of this country, and a little of
the sweet sadness there is in glens and rivers, and of the peace of
evening when the kaing grass is still and the white ibis and crows
flight home across the broad river into the sunset. You who know the
song of Dierdre of Naoise, fairest of the sons of Uisneach, and the
charms of each glen she sings of in Alba--you will know the quality I
mean....

    "Beloved, the water o'er pure sand,
    Oh, that I might not part from the East,
    But that I go with my Beloved."

[Illustration]

I think Percy Smith was strongest at coon songs, and Trail sang all
sorts, and G. and Kirke played accompaniments, whilst the writer picked
out his own to a chantie respecting the procedure to be taken with an
inebriated mariner--such a merry evening!--the best of which, to me,
was the jolly rattle of witty talk of these youthful administrators, the
oldest, if you please, well under thirty, talking of the other soldier
men as boys. We finished our concert at one, and the young soldiers had
to get home, and start up the river before daybreak for warlike
manoeuvres--(or polo?) at Myitkyna, 140 miles north-west of Bhamo;
there will be a jolly reunion I gather, of men who have been for long
months keeping watch and ward from their lonely mountain eyries o'er the
furthest marches of the British Empire!

[Illustration]

17th February.--I vow that there is this morning, at the same time, a
suggestion in the air of both spring and autumn. There is a touch of
autumn grey, and the plants in the garden droop a little as they do at
home before or after frost. A level line of cloud rests half-way up the
steel blue hills, it has hung there motionless for hours since the sun
rose, and the air is very pure, with a sweet scent of stephanotis and
wood-smoke and roses. Possibly it is the stephanotis and the wood-smoke
combined that makes me think of spring--spring in Paris; but more
probably Paris is brought to my mind this morning by the interview we
had yesterday with M. Ava about our berths on the cargo boat down to
Mandalay; he is the Bhamo Agent for the Flotilla Company. M. Ava left
Paris at the time of the birth of the Prince Imperial, and came to
Burmah with his own yacht, and has stayed here ever since. I wish he
would write a book on the changes of life he has seen; about the court
life of the Empire, and his semi-official yachting tour, and of his long
residence with Thebaw and his queens, of the intrigue and ceremonies in
their golden palaces, the thrilling episodes of which he was witness,
and of the many changes of fortune he has himself experienced.

... Someone said last night, "How interesting it would be if an artist
were to paint the various types of the tribes here," and my conscience
smote me for not seizing the occasion. So to-day I got my Boy to ask the
native cook, to ask his Burmese wife, to ask her Kachin female assistant
to pose for me, and here she is. Isn't she sweet?--and seventeen, she
says, and she is so shy!--and has a queer, queer look in the back of her
narrow eyes that I'd fain be able to translate; perhaps there's a little
pride of race, and perhaps a little of the timidity of a wild thing from
the jungle--perhaps all the histories of old Mongol invasions and
retreats if we could but read! Her dress is rather rich, jacket black
velvet, edged with red, tall turban of blue frieze cloth, and kilt and
putties of the colours of low-toned tartan made of hand-woven cloth, in
diced and herring-boned patterns. She has a silver torque round her neck
of the druidical shape, the ends of the circle almost meeting, and bent
back with two shapes like flat serpents' heads. In her ears are silver
ornaments the size and shape of Manilla cheroots, enamelled and
tasselled with red silk. As I drew her, the rest of Mr Leveson's
domestics, Burmese and native, sat round on the lawn and helped by
looking on, and were greatly delighted in seeing the buxom beauty
reproduced in colour on paper.

[Illustration: A Kachin Girl]

A Burmese matron then came along with her daughter to sell two silver
swords with ivory handles, and I got the swords, and a sitting of a few
minutes from the daughter, and here she is: a fairly average Burmese
girl, but not nearly one of the prettiest. The green broadcloth jacket
you see up here frequently, but further south the girls all wore thin
white jackets. As I painted, G. and the servants packed orchids, box
after box--I must be at my packing too; leopards' skins, and Kachin and
silver-mounted Shan dahs are my most interesting trophies.

Dined with the Algys of the Civil Police force--Captain Massey there, a
pleasant bungalow, a wealth of roses on the table, heavy red curtains
against white and pale blue plastered walls; a wood fire and lots of
open air and music, and talk of sport and big game. I am asked to a
great drive of geese, sambhur, and syn, but cannot accept for want of
time--was there ever anything more annoying!

   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .

19th February.--Good-bye, sweet Bhamo. You weep, and we weep; but we go
with a hope we may return.

How it pours! The Chinese ponies on the sandbank huddle together. A
Burmese lady goes up the bank to loosen the painter of her canoe; she
wears a pink silk skirt and white jacket, and carries a yellow paper
umbrella and apparently thinks little of the downpour. I've noticed
heaps of these pretty oiled paper umbrellas in the bazaars, I suppose
being prepared for this kind of weather. Even in pouring wet, Bhamo is
beautiful. Good-bye again; we will tell our friends at home that there
is such a desirable quiet country on this side of Heaven, where the
mansions truly are few, but the hosts are very kind.

Now we let go our wire rope from the red and black timber head in the
sand, slip away quietly into the current and leave the sandbank to the
Chinese ponies and a few bales of cotton, all in the dripping rain.

The kaing grass is drooping with the downpour, but it will be dry as
tinder in an hour or two, dry on the top at least.

Now, great Irrawaddy--take us safely down your length, and preserve us
from sandbanks and let us spend some more hours on your lovely banks;
and we will go down with your rafts of bamboos, and teak, and pottery,
and canoes, and we will avoid all trains till you fraternise with old
ocean again in Rangoon river. Then we will bid you good-bye, it may be
for years, but we hope not for ever.

... At Katha again. The wet pigeon-grey sky lifting, the river the
colour of the Seine. The decorative fig and cotton trees have leaves
just budding, and through the grey stems of the leafless Champaks with
wax white flowers we see groups of figures in dainty colours in the
quiet light, and of course there is the glint of white and gold of a
pagoda.

... In the morning we woke early and drank in the beauty of the clouds
lifting off the river and floating up the corries in the distant hills.
We did not awake early intentionally; the wet mist in the night tautened
the cord of the fog horn, and when the steam pressure rose, off it went
loud and long enough to waken seventy sleepers.

... We pass villages quickly on our way down. We have a flat on either
side, but there is only a half-hearted bazaar in one, and the other is
empty, so we can use it as our promenade.

By lunch time the sky had all cleared into a froth of sunshine and blue
and white clouds. The sand and distant forest and hills became well nigh
invisible in the bright light, and the river seemed a shield of some
fine metal, that took all the sky and smoothed it and reflected it with
concentrated glitter. For our foreground we have the white table on deck
in shade, with a heap of roses and white orchids in a silver bowl;
the fallen petals blend into the half-tone of the table cloth, and
there's peace and quiet and sleep, to the pulsation of the paddles and
the hissing of the foaming water passing astern.

[Illustration: A Girl of Upper Burmah]

   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .

At Tayoung in the evening we swing round, head up stream, and lie along
the shore--too late to go shooting, so we put on a cast of flies and
cast over rising fish, and get a dozen very pretty fish in half-an-hour.
I confess I put a tiny piece of meat on each fly, but hardly enough to
call it bait fishing. These were all silvery, "butter fish," excepting
one, which was rather like a herring. Meantime we had the heavy sunk
line baited with dough, and by and bye it began to go out into the
stream, and we paid out line rapidly, and then suddenly hauled taut and
were fast to a "big un." It was pull devil, pull baker for about five to
ten minutes, when the big fish came alongside, and we got a noose round
its tail and hauled it on board. It weighed twenty-eight lbs!

... The 22nd.--I think, but who can tell?--for each glorious hot day is
as monotonously beautiful as the day before; all bright and shining, the
blue and white sky reflected in the endless silky riband of the river
down which we steadily paddle, between silver strands and bowery woods,
stopping only for the night, and possibly for an hour or two in the day,
when we go ashore to sketch, or sometimes to shoot.

I have been trying to make up my mind which of two perfect days'
shooting was the best. This afternoon's shoot and tramp through the
jungle--Bag, my first brace francolin, to my own gun, or a day last year
in stubble and turnips, and twenty-five brace partridges to my own gun
and black pointer. I think the jungle day has it, though the bag was so
small, by virtue of its beauty, as against the trim fields of the
Lothians.

We started together, G. and her maid to collect seeds and roots and
orchids, and I wandered on to shoot with a Burmese guide.

Some of the tall trees have shed their leaves, and are now a mass of
blossom. One high tree had dropped a mat of purple flowers, as large as
tulips, across the dried grass and brown leaves at its foot. Another
tree with silvery bark had every leafless branch ablaze with orange
vermilion flowers. "Fire of the Forest," or "Flame of Forest," I heard
it called in India,--its colour so dazzling, you see everything grey for
seconds after looking at it. Then there were brakes of flowering shrubs
like tobacco plants with star like white flowers, and the scent of
orange blossom; and others with velvety petals of heliotrope tint, and
masses of creepers with flowers like myrtle, and a fresh scent of
violets and daisies--the air so pure and pleasant that each scent came
to one separately; and, as the most of the foliage is dry and thin just
now, these flowers and green bushes were the more effective. Certainly
the surroundings were more beautiful than those we have in low ground
shooting at home, and the smallness of the bag was balanced by this, and
the delightfully unfamiliar sensation of both shooting and right-of-way,
being free to you or your neighbour.

With a shade of luck, I'd have had quite a decent bag; but you know how
some days things just miss the bag--you can't exactly tell why--so it
was this afternoon; there should have been two hares, and two quail, and
two birds that seemed very like pheasants. One fell in impenetrable
thorns, and we could not get nearer than about ten yards, and I missed
another sitting. To restore my reputation with the Burmese boy, I had to
claw down some high pigeons from untold heights on their way home to
roost. After this, as I was loading, a partridge got up from some
stubbly grass in a clearing, with an astonishingly familiar whirr, and
went clear away, and I'd barely loaded when a Button quail whipped over
some bushes, and it dropped, but in impenetrable thorns! I'd not heard
of Burmese partridges, but the flight and whirr were unmistakeable,
though the bird was larger than those at home. So we went on, longing
for the company of my silky, black-coated pointer Flo, and a couple of
hardy mongrel spaniels--together we would soon have filled the bag!...
It is such fun going through new country, without a ghost of an idea
which direction to take or what method to pursue, or what game to
expect.

At the next cleared space we came to, two birds, mightily like
pheasants, were feeding on some ground that had once been tilled, so, by
signs to the Burmese boy (he cleans the knives on board) I easily made
him understand he was to drive them over me, and we each made a circuit,
he round the open, the gun behind a brake of dog roses and plantains,
and the birds came over with rather too uncertain flight for pheasants.
I got one, and the other fell far into thorns, but they were, after all,
only a large kind of magpie, but with regular gamey-brown wings,
blue-black heads, and long tails that gave them on the ground a passing
resemblance to pheasants. The next open space seemed absolutely suited
for partridges, and, as we walked into the middle, up got two and came
down to quite a conventional right and left, and our glee was unbounded
when we found them in the dried grass. The colours of their plumage was
handsome, not quite so sober as that of our partridge at home, and their
size and shape was almost between that of a grouse and a partridge;
Francolin,[37] I've since heard they were. Two hares I just got a
glimpse of, greyish in colour, and very thin-looking beasts. Then the
sun got low, and we heard deer barking in knolly ground, and would fain
have sat the evening out quietly, and waited, and watched the night life
of the jungle.

[37] There is not a specimen quite like them in S. Kensington.

It was dark when we made for the river and the soft, dusty track through
the green grass at its edge. Big beetles passed us humming, and we met
some children with lamps swinging, and they sang as they went, to keep
away the Nats or spirits of things.

Our steamer looked pleasantly homelike, lying a yard from the shore. The
purdahs were up and showed the lamp-lit table on deck, set for dinner,
and flowers, books and chairs, a cosy picture. The light was reflected
in the grey river, and waved slightly in the ripple of the current from
the anchor chain. A cargo steamer, forsooth! a private yacht is the
feeling it gave.

There are only two passengers besides ourselves, a Mr and Mrs S. With
the master and mate we make six at dinner, and the concert after, in
which the first mate plays piano accompaniments to all the chanties we
can scrape together--"Stormy Long,"--"Run, let the Bulgine Run,"--"Away
Rio:" cheerful chanties like "The Anchor's Weighed," with its "Fare ye
well, Polly, and farewell Sue," and sad, sad songs of ocean's distress,
like "Leave her, Johnnie; Its time to leave her." Neither the master nor
mate have seen salt water for many a day, but I know their hearts yearn
for the wide ocean and tall ships a-sailing; for all the beauties of all
the rivers in the world pale beside the tower of white canvas above you,
and the surge and send of a ship across the wide sea.

... 23rd February.--Kyonkmyoung--not pronounced as spelt, and spelling
not guaranteed. We spent the night at above village. Now we are passing
a wooded shore, and two remarkable pagodas side by side, like two
Italian villas, with flat roofs and windows of western design, each has
a white terrace in front with a small pagoda spire, and in the trees
there are many white terraces and steps up to them from the river's
edge.

... The up-river mail has passed us, it had been delayed on a sandbank;
we ship an American family party from it. Having lost some hours on the
sandbank, they cannot now proceed up the river to Bhamo, as they had
intended, so they returned with us to Mandalay. The first gangway plank
was hardly down when they were ashore and away like a bullet, with a
ricochet and a twang behind; a Silver king, they say, and a future
president!--How rapidly Americans travel, and assimilate facts, and
what extraordinary conclusions some of them make.

[Illustration]

We slow-going Scots hang on at Mandalay for a little. We have not half
seen the place, and wish to spend hours and hours at the pagoda,
watching the worshippers there, and trying, if possible, to remember
enough expressions and forms and colours to use at home. Our fellow
passengers, Mr and Mrs S., elect to stay on board. They have some days
to spare, waiting for a down-river steamboat, wisely preferring that, to
the bustle through to Rangoon in the train.

... Mr S. is playing the piano, G. and I are painting, Mrs S. sewing,
and all the morning, from the lower deck, there comes the continual
chink of silver rupees, where Captain Robinson and his mate are settling
the trade accounts of the trip, blessing the Burmese clerk for having
half a rupee too much; funny work for men brought up to "handle reef and
steer."

Three steamers, similar to our own, with flats, lie alongside the
sandbank, all in black and white, with black and red funnels and
corrugated iron roofs, and "Glasgow" painted astern. Bullock-carts bump
along the shore in clouds of dust, and the bales come and go, and trade
here is still really picturesque; there are no ugly warehouses or
stores, and everything is open and above board--just, I suppose, as
trade went on in the days of Adam or Solomon.

Went to the railway station, we were obliged to do so. We must leave the
river to get down to Rangoon and Western India, to catch our return P. &
O. from Bombay. We have decided to return by the north of India, and not
by Ceylon, though we are drawn both ways. Ceylon route by steamer all
the way, seems so much easier for tired travellers, than going overland
in trains; but what would friends at home say if we missed Benares,
Agra, and Delhi.

[Illustration]

... A native stationmaster, in a perfunctory manner, points out the kind
of 1st class carriage we have to travel in. It is not inviting, and we
get back to the river, and make a jotting of our steamer and the shore
against the evening sky, and the bullock-carts slowly stirring the dust
into a golden haze.... Then we go to live on shore with friends for a
day or two.

I despair of making anything, in the meantime, of the Arrakan Pagoda,
and the great golden Buddha with the wonderful light on it, and the
kneeling tribesmen and women from over Asia. It is one of the finest, if
not _the_ finest, subject for painting I have ever seen, and yet I can't
see one telling composition. Looking at the people kneeling, from the
side, you can't see the Buddha, and, looking at the Buddha, you only see
the peoples' backs.



CHAPTER XXXVIII


From the train to Rangoon, you see very little of the country: we felt
rather unhappy in it after the comfort of the steamer. A native
stationmaster lost half our luggage for us--vowed he'd put it on board.
I knew that he knew that he had not done so, but I could do nothing. It
was glaringly hot at the station; several Europeans wore black
spectacles, and I had to do the same, for needle like pains ran through
my eyes since the day on the snipe jheel at Bhamo.

The first part of the journey was smooth enough, but bless me! they
brought up the Royal train from Rangoon at ten miles an hour faster than
we travel down! How uneasily must have lain a head that is to wear a
crown.

We couldn't sleep at night for the carriage seemed to be going in every
direction at once--waggled about like a basket, and we shook so much we
laughed at a mosquito that aimed at a particular feature. But in the
early morning we did actually sleep for a little, and about 4 or 5 A.M.
were awakened, for tea, and plague inspection at 6 A.M., about two hours
before getting into Rangoon!--a plague on tea and inspectors at that
hour of the morning!

It wasn't pure joy that journey. Ah! and it was sad too, getting to the
cultivated plains round Rangoon--eternal rice fields and toiling
Indians--uglier and uglier as we neared civilisation. The saddest sight
of all, the half-bred Burman and Indian woman or man--the woman the
worst; with, perhaps, a face of Burmese cast, over-shadowed with the
hungry expression of the Indian, and a black thin shank and flat foot
showing under the lungy, where should be rounded calf and clean cut
foot. We may be great colonists we Britons, but I fear our stocking
Burmah with scourings from India is only great as an evil.

Now I will pass Rangoon in my journal. We stayed a day or two at a
lodging in a detached teak villa in a compound which contained native
servants, and crows _ad nauseum_--it was dull, stupid and dear, and we
were sorry we had not gone to the hotel, and our greatest pleasure was
visiting the Shwey Pagoda again, and the greatest unpleasantness was
getting on board the British India boat the "Lunka" for Calcutta. We
were literally bundled pell mell on board, some twenty passengers and
baggage, and some five hundred native troops all in a heap in the waist
on top of us--what a miserable muddle. The French passengers smiled
derisively at the inefficacy or rather total absence of any system of
embarkation of passengers, and the Americans opened their eyes! Always
they repeat on board--"Why, you first class passengers don't pay us." On
the Irrawaddy river boats they say this too, but they make you jolly
comfortable for all that.

It was six hours of struggle, mostly in the sun, before I got our things
into our cabin, and half our luggage lay on deck for the night with
natives camping on it! The officers on board were very pleasant and
agreeable, as they were on board the last British India boat we were on,
but the want of method in getting passengers and their baggage off the
wharf and into boats and on board was almost incredible....[38] There
was a vein of amusement, I remember, when I can get my mind off the
annoying parts of our "Embarkation." I got a chanter from a Chinese
pedlar in the street in the morning--heard the unmistakeable reedy notes
coming along the street as I did business in the the cool office of
Messrs Cook & Co., and leaving papers and monies went and met the
smiling Chinese pedlar of sweetmeats who sold me his chanter. The
position of the notes is the same as on our chanter, and the fingering
is the same; afterwards on board when I played a few notes on it the
beady black eyes of the Ghurkas in the waist sparkled, and they pulled
out their practice chanters from their kit at once--and there we
were!--and the long-legged, almond-eyed Sikhs on their baggage looked on
in languid wonder.

[38] Getting off at Calcutta was indescribable--if possible worse than
the embarkation--_a sauve qui peut_.

Would you like a description of Calcutta? I wish I could give it. It was
a little different from what I expected, smaller, and yet with ever so
much more life and bustle on the river than I'd expected. Commerce
doesn't go slow on account of heat, and here, as in Burmah, I was
surprised to see so much picturesque lading and unlading of cargoes
going on by the river banks, and the green grass and trees running from
the banks into the town. But we will jump Calcutta, I think, it is too
big an order; but before going on may I say that the architecture is, to
my mind, better than it is said to be. In Holdich's "India" it is
unfavourably compared with that in Bombay, but do you know, I almost
prefer the classic style of Calcutta to the scientific rococco Bombay
architecture, but I offer this opinion with the greatest diffidence, for
I know the author of "India" is an artist--still--"I know what I like,"
as the burglar said when he took the spoons.

   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .

BENARES.--One evening we took train from Calcutta to Benares. Flat
fields of white poppies were on either side, and English park-like
scenes, without the mansions, and we thanked our stars we had not to
live in what the Norse call "Eng" or meadow land.

The things of interest in Benares are in order--first the Ghats, then a
river called the Ganges, and the monkey temple; of course there are a
great many natives, but from a cursory impression of the faces in the
crowds, I think they rank after the monkeys.

We arrived on a feast day with the golden beauty of Burmah and its
people fresh in our minds, and found these natives were painting the
town red. They slopped a liquid the colour of red ink over their
neighbours' more or less white clothes, and threw handfuls of vermilion
powder over each other--an abominable shade of vermilion--so roads and
people and sides of houses were all stained with these ugly colours; in
fact, at the Ghats or terraces at the river side, where many thousands
were congregated, the air was thick with the vermilion dust. From the
water's edge up the steps to the palaces and temples and houses at the
top, the terraces swarmed with thousands of people, and the talk and
mirthless laughter rose and fell like the continuous clamour from a
guillemot rookery.

The scenes we met in the streets were only to be described in language
of the Elizabethan period. If to-day at home we pass obscurantism for
morality, the Indian does the reverse; he tears the last shreds from our
ideas of what Phallic worship might once have been.

I think the Ghats are the most nauseating place in the world; there, is
Idolatry, in capital letters--the most terrible vision that a mind
diseased could picture in horrible nightmare! for you see thousands of
inferior specimens of men and women dabbling in the water's edge, _doing
all and every particular of the toilet in the same place almost touching
each other_, and right amongst them are dead people in pink or white
winding sheets being burned, and the ashes and half-burned limbs being
shoved into the water--and I forgot--there's a main sewer comes into the
middle of this.

We got on to a boat with a cabin on it, and sat on its roof on decrepit
cane chairs, and the rowers below with makeshift oars gradually pulled
us up and down the face of the Ghats--what oars, and what a ramshackle
tub of a boat--too old and tumble-down for a fisherman's hen run at
home.

Holy Gunga! What a crowd of men and women line the edge of these steps
knee deep in the water, and babble and jabber and pray, day after day,
and pretend to wash themselves, without soap! Only one man of the
thousands I saw was proportionably shaped; and one woman was white, an
Albino, I wish I could forget her bluey whiteness! and I saw boys doing
Sandow exercises, evidently trying to bring up their biceps--poor little
devils--how can they? They haven't time--they will be married and
reproducing other little fragilities like themselves, before they are
out of their teens!

The monkey temple is full of monkeys, and they have less apish
expressions than the priests. The Prince of Wales saw it the patron told
me, and added, "Princess give handsome presents--also Maharajahs--from
100 rupees to 50." So I gave one, very willingly, to get out, and
thought it cheap at the price. Besides the nastiness of the monkeys,
there was much blood of sacrifices drying on the ground and altars, and
this was covered with flies; there are some abominable rites in this
temple, but they are now _not supposed_ to sacrifice children.

Perhaps it was because I was tired with sight-seeing, perhaps because
the Ghats are really so terrible that I felt their picturesqueness was
lost on me, so I told my guide to direct my rowers' little energy
towards the far side of the river where there are no houses, and there
is quiet and clean river sand.

[Illustration]

On the sands we found a fakir had established his camp--quite a low
church fellow, I suppose, to the Brahmin mind. He sat over against this
sacred Benares, and told those freethinkers, who came across at times,
that his was the only one and true religion, and that the Phallic
saturnalia on the opposite shore was damned, and the Ganges water was of
no use whatever in the way of religion.

His camp covered an acre of sand and was fenced with cane, and he had
camels and cows and many followers, and though they had only one yellow
waist-cloth between them all, which he wore, he must have been well
enough off to provide the loaves and fishes for so many. He sat all the
time with his legs crossed, and read Sanskrit in a low, very well
modulated voice, whilst people from far and near came and bowed, and
sometimes, if they were worthy, touched his feet, and he would give them
a little look from his quiet intense eyes, and the least inclination of
his head, a movement and look a king might have envied, it was at the
same time so reserved and yet graciously beneficent. His hair and beard
were long and slightly curling and tawny at the ends, and his face was
dusted with grey ash which emphasised his rather potent eyes. His
features in profile were pure Greek, and on his low forehead there was a
touch of gold. His particular followers or disciples had the silly
expression of a mesmerist's subjects; they sat in the dust stark naked
and unashamed, and looked happy and exceedingly foolish.

The way this fakir made money I was told, is simplicity itself; he
merely gives a pass with his hand above his head, and lo there is a
sovereign in his palm, or he makes a pass at his toe and there is
another!

My Mohammedan guide, who told me about this fakir, was rather a fine
specimen and had read much; and though he did not belong to the same
church as the fakir, he held him in great respect, and he told me very
seriously--that he could raise the dead--he knew a man who knew another
man who had actually seen it done!

The fakir sat on a little dais in front of a hut with an awning over
him. He passed word to a satellite in a cloak that he would be pleased
were I to land, and I told my guide to tell him I would be pleased to
alight from my ramshackle tub and make his portrait, and he gently
inclined his head, so I descended from my barge roof, and stood opposite
him on the sand and drew, and after half-an-hour or so he saw that I was
tired standing and sent for a seat, but I of course could not change my
point of view, and no doubt his followers wondered why I bothered
standing in the sun when I might have easily sat in the shade and done
nothing. Next day I went on the river and stopped in passing his place
and showed him the coloured portrait, of which he gently expressed his
approval and signified that he would be pleased to accept a copy. So I
made one, and it is now glazed and framed and worshipped by his
disciples. He gave me his blessing in exchange--he did not make any
passes for sovereigns--but he gave me a seed or two to eat for a
particular purpose, and there is no result so far--and though he did not
convert me I left him with a certain respect for his great dignity of
manner, and for his evident desire and ability to obtain power over
men's minds. Perhaps with all his study and knowledge he still wonders
why a man should stand some hours in the heat playing with pencil and
paper and water colours. I am told he believes in only one god,
unfortunately I forget which; but there are 333,000,000 gods in India,
so perhaps it's a matter of no great consequence to them, or the Deity,
or us.

   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .

One is conscious at Benares just now of a pervading effort to
proselytise. There is this fakir on one side of the river with his
troop, covering their nakedness with a little dust and ashes, and
priests of all kinds and the populace painting themselves red on the
other side; then there is Mrs Besant running some new sort of Hindooism
or "damned charlatanism," as Lafcadio Hearn would have put it. And there
are various Scottish and English Church Missions making special efforts
to secure converts, but they pay far more than my fakir does per
head--soul I mean. The fakir has secured two hundred recognised converts
and disciples in his own camp; he, however, has the advantage over other
missionaries in his method, which I have described, of obtaining
supplies. Each disciple costs him only one rupee per day, so my guide
tells me, and he says he is absolutely reliable; so they must do
themselves well. If I stayed a few days longer I'd start some new
philosophy myself, or revive an old one. And now I think of it, I
believe mine once floated would knock all the others endways--to begin
with I'd have my Benares or Mecca in some art bohemia, and I'd raise a
blue banner inscribed with the word BEAUTY in gold, and that would be
the watchword.... No one to enroll who could not make, say a decent
rendering of the Milo in sculpture or drawing--or write or play....

[Illustration: A Fakir at Benares]

Our places of study would be the churches that are empty during the
week--we surely could not be refused the use of them for the five or six
days they are not used! the last half of the sixth day would give us
time to remove all our beautiful things, so they would be the same as
usual on Sundays--nothing like detail in going in for a scheme of this
kind. And he or she who could produce something beautiful in either
sculpture, colour, music, or being, or even making a hat, would be high
in the priesthood, and might receive offerings of food and raiment in
return for instruction given (like the Burmese Phoungies from the
general public), so the general public would obtain merit, and men like
Sargent (if they could drop their academical degrees), La Touche,
Anglada Camarassa, Sarolea, Sidannier would be very high in the
priesthood; and we'd have Velasquez and Whistler, Montecelli and the
like for saints and--I see I have left no place for scientists and
musicians. But we'd have heaps of room for them, of course.

This isn't all nonsense you know!--in fact it is possibly all sense. I'd
like to see the philosophy carried out experimentally say for three
years in a bad district, such as between Edinburgh Castle and Holyrood.
I believe the people would look handsomer and happier than they are at
present after the second year. Given Beauty for our standard and first
goal, Goodness, Mercy, Courage, Manliness, and Womanliness, and good
looks, would surely follow, and the Creator might be trusted for the
rest.

I am positively anxious, in the present condition of things, about what
will happen when some of us come to the gates of Heaven.--I very much
doubt if a knowledge of the ten Commandments will pass us in--and even
if we do get in, and secure a mansion, and it is really as beautiful as
described, how uncomfortable many of us will feel who have not been made
familiar with the subject of beauty below! I fear there may be awkward
questions put about what we have learned besides the ten Commandments;
we may be asked what we have observed of God's works. For example, "What
is the colour of wood smoke across a blue sky," or "the colour of white
marble against a yellow sunset." Perhaps you may be passed in with even
a solfeggio, but just think!--suppose you are asked to "describe the
most expressive movement in the action of a man throwing a stone," or
"how many heads there are in the Milo!"...

Such philosophising is quite the thing here at Benares--everyone does.

But to go back to the people and the Ghats I must--for my own
protection--for some one who reads these notes may have also waded
through the exquisite writing of Pierre Loti on the subject, and may
conclude I am untruthful. He says, he saw on the steps bathing, people
"à la fois sveltes et athlétiques," and lovely women, dead and alive,
with clinging draperies that resemble the "Victoire aptére,"--well, I
vow!--I've studied the human form for about twenty-five years and I
repeat that what I say is true, that of the hundreds of men I saw
distinctly of the thousands bathing, I only saw one man passably well
made. I saw very finely built Sikhs from northern India in Burmah, and
others at Madras, but all the people on the banks of the Ganges had
very poor muscular development. And these lovely women whom Pierre Loti
sees in such numbers--they have no calves--whoever saw beauty without
the rudiments of a calf! But perhaps Pierre Loti does; if he can write
about India, sans les Anglais--(he means British[39]) he may fancy
Hamlet without the Prince, or Venus with an Indian shank. But we forgive
him; for that picture, off Iceland, "the stuffy brown lamplit cabin in
the fishing lugger, the tobacco smoke and the Madonna in the corner, and
outside on deck the silvery daylight and the pure air of the Arctic
midnight."

[39] "L'Inde sans les Anglais."

   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .

I think military life in Benares must be slow, the soldier seems to have
so much routine work in India when there is no frontier campaign going
on. It must be irksome for anyone fond of fighting. My cousin here (a
Captain) is Cantonment Magistrate, which means he has to turn his sword
into a foot rule and do Government's factory work--lets you a plot of
land for your house and sees your neighbour hangs out his washing in
proper order--then will hang a man for murder or fine another for
selling you goat instead of mutton, and so on and so forth. Multifarious
little things on to many of which might hang a history--for instance
taking a stray bull across the river with the respect due to such a
sacred encumbrance and without hurting the religious feelings of the
Emperor's Hindoo subjects.

   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .

Another soldier host we had in India in Delhi--a Fettesian by the way;
in his palace we studied the Red Chuprassie and received an inkling of
how States are governed, and how the hot-bed of Mohammedan and Hindoo
revolution is kept in order. Five to five were his office hours, you
advocates of eight hour bills! In the rest of the twenty-four hours he
was on the alert for sudden duty calls, yet he painted with me after
five, with more keenness than professional artists I know at home.

So within a few months out here I have met more men of arms, art, and
manners than I meet in as many years at home. It is a very sad part this
of our extended Empire--the good men taken from home to the frontiers,
and I don't know that we can afford it. Personally I'd rather have our
little country as it was in the time of James IV.--well defended--with
our good men at home, a chivalrous Court, and the best fleet of the
time, than to be as at present without a name or Court--a milch cow to
the Empire.

I had the pleasure of seeing this host engaged in a congenial duty--that
of raising the statue to Nicholson. We were taken to the spot where he
fell, and saw where Roberts stood, and heard tales of many other great
"Englishmen"--be--dad!

   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .

We lived almost on the Ridge and its russet-coloured boulders, and
looked slightly down to Delhi (I'd always pictured the besiegers looking
up at the walls). How astonishingly fresh it all is; the living deadly
interest. Gracious--the stones on the wall haven't yet rolled into the
ditch from the bombarding--you can almost smell the powder smoke in the
air--and it is still hot!

   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .

It was very hot going to Agra. I've a recollection of the journey which
seems funny now; "When pleasure is, what past pain was." We had been
saving a thirst all morning, and at a junction went absolutely parched
with heat and fatigue for ice and soda, and perhaps a little
mountain-dew, for we were very faint. And there was no soda water!--and
there was no ice!--but there was whisky--and warm lemonade! I'd to
sprint along the metals to our carriage in the white heat, and there got
two bottles of hot soda. So we finally had a little tepid toddy, and sat
and grimly studied our countrymen's expressions as they came into the
restaurant hot and tired, from different trains, and asked for the drink
of our country. You'd have thought they would have sworn, but they did
not, which gives you an idea of the climate; they mostly looked too
tired; at mid-day on an Indian railway one has barely sufficient energy
left to say tut-tut!

[Illustration: A Delhi Street Scene]

Getting near Agra from the plains was very pleasant!--the ground rises a
little and becomes sandier and less cultivated, so the air is clean and
refreshing.

We saw the Taj at first in distance over this almost white sandy soil
and grey ferash bushes--saw it slightly blurred by the quivering heat
off the ground, and against a pale, hot, blue sky, and through thin hot
brown smoke from our engine, and its general outline in the distance was
that of a cruet stand--and as we came within a mile it seemed to be made
of brick, white-washed!

Then we whirled into the station and came out amongst solid Mogul
architecture of dull, red, sandstone--splendidly massive and
simple--what a surprise! Then we visited the Taj Mahal, and ever hence,
I hope the vision of white marble and greenery will be ours!



CHAPTER XXXIX


AGRA.--I find India generally speaking is a little vexatious, and think
that perhaps the youth who stays at home may after all score over the
youth who is sent to roam. There is a little feeling all the time which
you felt as a child on seeing all sorts of delights arranged for dinner
guests, and you had toast and eggs in the nursery. Here we have just
time to see what sport there is; jolly social functions, pig-sticking,
picnics, shooting of all kinds, riding, splendid things to paint, and
subjects to study, pleasant people to meet--and have to cut up our time
between trains and guides and sights.

I think if I were to come to India again, I'd spend the cold weather in
one place, get to know the white people and the surrounding districts,
and merely listen to tales of fair Cashmere.

This preamble leads to notes of a somewhat qualified day at Black Buck:
two day's dip into sport against time. I got one buck the first day, and
could have taken more, they were literally in hundreds: this is how the
story unrolls itself.

Got away at 6.30 A.M., before dawn, in a two-horse open carriage, a
shikari on the box, a syce behind, and interpreter on the front seat,
and beside me a regular Indian luncheon basket big enough for an army,
and a great double 450 cordite express that would have done for the
Burmese Gaur.

The roads and mud huts were all the one warm clay-colour, and the light
was becoming violet, with a faint pink in the sky. In the country the
roads and fields were almost milk-colour, and trees with yellow flowers
were on either side. We met white donkeys with their burdens, and white
oxen drawing heavy wooden-wheeled carts all dust coloured, and the only
black in the soft colouring was that of the early crows.

... On the plains to either side there are patches of green crop, and
away to our right the minarets of the burial place of Akbar. Doves,
pigeons, starlings, kites, green parrots sit or flutter overhead as we
pass, all as tame as hens. Gradually the trees throw long shadows, and
old Sol comes up behind us, and grins at our overcoats.

From the eighth milestone I see a doe, and the shikari spots it at the
same instant; and two adjutant cranes, silvery grey with dark heads like
ostriches--about six feet high, and a pair of horn-bills pass
overhead--lots to interest one every mile of the drive. At ten miles out
I spotted three does, and we got out to see if there wasn't a buck
somewhere, and a few minutes after I found him (first, being some inches
taller than the shikari). There was only a chance of getting within
range by a barefaced walk-round and then a crawl behind a knoll of old
clay wall--this we did, and I let off at about fifty yards and went over
the buck's shoulder and couldn't get in a second. Truth to tell I wasn't
quite sure whether I wasn't dreaming, the whole proceeding was so
unexpected and unfamiliar--ten miles out from a town, at eight in the
morning and to have a shot at a deer with no one to say you nay, I could
hardly believe it. And besides, to add to the unfamiliarity of this kind
of deer shooting, there were native cultivators all round, within every
half mile or so, in groups of two or three.

I was very sad. The shikari said nothing, but counted it out at seventy
yards. Looking over the top of the dyke I'd thought it a hundred and
probably took too full a foresight; anyway it was an abominably easy
shot to miss. I wished very much I'd taken a few practice shots with the
cumbersome weapon.

... We wander many a mile and it begins to get warm. We rest in the
shade of a group of mangrove trees on the hard, dry earth, and beside us
waves a patch of green corn. I am very sad indeed--I have missed two
beautiful black buck, or worse, the last I fired at, a lying down shot
(on thorns), after a run and a stalk to about 140 yards, was a trifle
too end-on, and I hit the poor beggar in the jaw I believe, and we
followed it for miles. Then my heart rejoiced, for a native said it had
fallen behind some bushes, but another said he'd seen it going on, very
slowly, and on we went after it; meantime we saw many other buck and
does, but we did our best and failed to pick up the one fired at.

So at ten we rest and I sit like Gautama Buddha under a tree and think
life is all a misery, and my followers bring food and drink and I refuse
almost all, but smoke a little and swear a lot. Overhead a pigeon tries
to coo to the end of its sentence and loses the word at the end every
time, and a green parrot fights with a crow and finally drives it into
another tree, and flies eat my lunch, or breakfast rather, and ants eat
me, and I gnaw my pipe with vexation.

I go over all excuses--new rifle--far too heavy--accustomed to single
barrel--unaccustomed to blaze of light,--Really, at the first shot, the
rising sun on backsight and foresight made them sparkle like diamonds,
and the buck in shadow was a ghost--and being out of condition with
travel--and so on and so on--and say fool at the end.--We get up after
half-an-hour, but my belief in my luck is shaken; we walk into the heat
again and dazzling light and white hard sandy soil and come to bushes
and patches of corn here and there, and natives lifting water for them
from wells.

   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .

I've had a grand day's exercise, and feel much more human and fit again.
I've sent a soul into the invisible so my man tells me--shot a buck at
full split--shot it aft a bit. As its gore dyed the hard hot earth and
its exquisite side, I asked my tall Mohammedan guide, when it was dead,
where its soul had gone. "To God," he said shortly--"And where will mine
go?" "To Hell," he replied quite politely but firmly, but he added to
qualify the statement, something about some Mohammedans believing in
reincarnation. I suppose I am damned in his opinion because I am not a
follower of the prophet, not because I have taken life, but damned or
not it wasn't a bad shot; it was the fourth time too, I spotted deer
before my shikari, and pulled him back in time, and so in a way I felt
comforted for bad shooting.

Five does and no buck were visible, but we trusted the buck was hidden
by some of the soft feathery green ferash bushes they were feeding in.
We made a circuit and came close to a group of natives and oxen drawing
water, and for some reason or another, possibly the guide I'd left
behind alarmed the deer, they came galloping past and a buck with a very
good head in the middle; a doe beyond, passing to the front made me hit
him a little far back in lumbar region, instead of behind the shoulder.
It restored my faith in hand and eye a little, and yet the killing
qualified the day's enjoyment. I suppose we will never quite understand
whether we should or should not kill. I suppose killing this buck will
save a little of the natives' corn, and they will have some meat and I
shall have a head to show.

To see these exquisitely graceful deer galloping across the plains is a
sight never to be forgotten: it is the nearest thing to flying. The
bucks with their twisted black horns and blackish brown coats and white
underneath, the does cream-coloured and white, almost invisible against
the soil in the glare of light. All spring into the air with their feet
tucked up at the same spot, with a spurt of dust as if a bullet had
struck the soil beneath their feet. You see poor sheep trying to do the
same thing.

Some natives carry the dead buck. We have about five miles to tramp,
partly over waste ground, partly, along almost unshaded road. After
three miles the deer carriers sit down and "light up" under a tree, so
we follow their example, and send a message on for the carriage.

The men are joined by various native wayfarers who stop and pass the
time of day: they light a little smouldering fire of leaves and twigs to
keep the sociable pipe going. It is a little earthen cup without a stem;
they hold this in the points of their fingers and suck the smoke between
their thumbs so the pipe touches no one's lips, and they have a drink
from a well, poured from a bowl into the palms of their hands. My Hindoo
shikari I find will take a nip with pleasure from my flask in his little
brass bowl, but he would loose caste if he took soda water in the same
way, so he tramps to the well and at great trouble draws a cup. The tall
snub-nosed Mohammedan looks on with scorn at the inconsistency and
touches neither water nor spirit.

We have a longish wait, but there's lots to look at, still new to me.
The girls and boys at the well, and weeding the barley, a vulture and
its ugly mate on household affairs bent, in a tree, and green parrots
and squirrels all busy. It seems to me the squirrels are rooting out the
white ants from their earthy works up the tree trunks above me. Possibly
they are just doing it to put dust in my eyes.

Then we drive homewards, the buck on the splashboard, and pass a
splendid group of peacocks and peahens under two small trees, nearly a
dozen of them within seventy yards, and I handle my big rifle, then my
Browning Colt, and nearly fire, for I'd fain add a peacock to my
pistol-bag, but they look so tremendously domestic that I haven't the
heart, and besides, they are sacred I am told, and possibly it would be
unlucky to shoot them. My men say "shoot," but not encouragingly, and
its my unlucky day; I'd possibly miss, and hit a native beyond. How you
manage to fire a bullet in this country without killing a black buck or
a native is a wonder. Coming near Agra, I passed a group of young
officers in khaki riding out; they and their mounts looked as hard as
nails; they were going pig-sticking, they were to be envied.

   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .

9th March.--The choice lay between an early rise to see the Taj by
moonlight, and an early rise to drive fifteen miles to a place where
black buck do abound. My primeval instinct prevails against the perhaps
better suggestion of my better half. At 5 A.M. the carriage has not yet
come so I have twenty minutes to make a lamplit study and reflections
generally--Have rifle ready, some soda water, tobacco, and a new stock
of hope and faith in my aim.

... Here come my men at last, with stealthy steps so as not to disturb
the sleeping travellers in our caravansary. The shikari has covered his
everyday dress of old Harris tweeds with a white sheet, and might be
anyone, and my long Mohammedan guide and interpreter is also in white
this day. We get all on board very quietly, and rumble away along the
dark dusty road.

We go along at a good rate, with two good horses, and two further on
waiting to change; our landau runs smoothly, though it must date to
before the Mutiny. Its springs are good, and the road we follow, which
Akbar made, is smooth of surface. There is pale moonlight, and the air
is fragrant. The hours before dawn dreamily pass, and we nod, and look
up now and then to see clay walls and trees dusky against the night sky,
and our thoughts go back to the grand old buildings we leave behind us
to the north in Agra. The red stone Fort, and Palace, and Taj, and the
marble courts seem to become again alive, and full of people and colour
and movement, a gallant array, and the fountains bubble, and Akbar plays
living chess with his lovely wives, in colour and jewels, on his marble
courts.

... And we dream on; and we are on the dusty road in the moonlight,
riding along, dusky figures at our side, knee to knee; the dust hangs
on their mail, and dulls the moon's sparkle on the basinets. We are
jogging south on Akbar's road with Akbar's men on a foray, or is it a
great invasion? Then there comes a shout, from in front, and an order
and we awake--and it is only some bullock-carts in the way, all dusty:
and on we go again. And Akbar's soldiers go back to the pale land of
memory, and the light comes up, and I see my Mohammedan guide's strong
face, and the driver, and the little Hindoo shikari in his wrappings on
the box, and the light gets brighter, and, what was vague and
mysterious, dust and moonlight becomes prosaic flat barley-fields, with
white-clad figures picking weeds, and people at the roadside cottages
going about with lights, looking after domestic matters, and men sit
huddled round tiny fires and pass the morning pipe around--they,
apparently feel it chilly.

The very hot morning we spent wandering after elusive herds of black
buck, one of which I missed. A grand black fellow, with horns I could
see through the glass, beat all record, missed at 200 yards, both
barrels, couldn't get nearer, and anyone may have this double 450
cordite express and all its patents for price of old iron. I could have
smitten a bunnie both times at home at the distance--I'm sure this thing
throws inches high.

However, the weariness and the fret of the hot morning ends in a
delicious grove of trees that might be limes, plane and ash, and in the
middle of this bosky knoll there is a pool and a little temple,
picturesque to a degree at fifty yards, hideous close. The light filters
through the branches and falls on the dried mud and leaves.

As my man lays down my bag and useless weapon at the foot of the central
tree, there's a crash in the leaves above, and down and away goes a
glorious peacock. I try to calculate at which end of it I would fire had
I a gun. It's tail is so gorgeous you couldn't fire at it, and its neck
is also too beautifully blue to touch with shot; a minute after another
sails down, and goes off like a running pheasant. Doves come and
flutter and coo above us, and a pariah dog prowls round timidly. It
looks as if it had never wagged its tail in all its sad life, and it
swallows a chunk of my chicken at a gulp, and its tail never moves, poor
beast. The hot winds sough through the branches, and my men murmer away
to each other under a neighbouring tree, possibly about the Sahib, who
is such a poor shot, and, as our language is limited, I can't brag about
swagger shots in other days. One needs a friend to shoot with, alone you
lose half the charm. If you get hipped with a miss you can then growl
out loud to a sympathetic ear, and blow smoke over the day together.
There's only the pariah dog to talk to here, so I eat lunch and smoke
"my lone,"--"here, old Bicky, you can wolf the rest of the lunch,"--you
haven't much appetite the time the bag is empty.

   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .

An hour or two over burning sand, and I spot a doe and a fawn amongst
the grey-green thorn bushes, and away they go, skipping and jumping as
if anyone thought of interfering with their gentle lives!... Two or
three more hours tramp without a shot, and we come to the by-road again,
distinguished from the rest of the dry land by wheel-ruts, and the pad
of bare feet. We have six miles to walk to our carriage--my kingdom for
a pony! but we must trudge along--the guide, shikari, and syce trailing
away behind. They are rather tired, and the writer rather despondent.

A lift of the eye to the left, and a thousand yards off, I see faint
forms of does, then I spot a buck!--question, can we spare the time?
four miles to walk, fifteen to drive, and the night train to catch at
seven. We risk the time, and Fortune smiles, for we have not gone 500
yards off the path, when another lot grows out of the ground to my left,
and again a beautiful buck with splendid horns in their midst--a quick
standing shot got him through the heart, and no pain or death struggle.

Then more trudging--it is hot, and the sand deep, and the thirst the
worst I've had--so dry we were, that we could hardly speak--but no
matter, we have succeeded, and there is a bottle of soda water four
miles ahead; it will be warm though. The dust rises along the horizon
and moves along in gentle whirlwinds, and the few trees there are, are
close cropped of both branches and foliage, to feed the natives' goats
and sheep. It is a famished, parched land, with far too many people.
Driving to Agra, we came across another herd of deer, and got the best
buck almost within a hundred yards of the trunk road.

   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .

7.30 we are in the train again--Pullman car restaurant train--electric
light and cool air, and a sweep of blue moonlit plain and sky passing
the windows, a change from the heat and the baked white plain of the
day. It is the smoothest going carriage we have been in, in India, and
there are waiters in white to bring iced drinks, and an excellent dinner
... And we think of lunch again, in the grove by the Temple, and the
peacocks bustling their grandeur out of the verdure.

If I could invent stories, I'd come and live at Agra, and write about
the Moguls, as Irving wrote the tales of the Alhambra, poor little
Alhambra, it has its own charm, and it is rather a shame to drag it in
beside the buildings of Northern India; how little it seems, its
architecture, and ornament, and its stories, compared with these Mogul
palaces, forts, and gardens, and the love and war associated with them.
I see I have page after page in my journal of attempts to describe the
Taj Mahal and its gardens, and now I find them very difficult to
understand; so I think it would not be wise to try to put them down
here, at the end of rather a rag-tag journal--to try to describe perhaps
the most perfectly beautiful thing in the world. No--it is too
beautiful, to be treated of in the last pages of a journal.

... If I were asked what three scenes in the world pleased me most,
they would all be white.--A ring, miles wide, of square-topped icebergs
in the Antarctic, rose pink in the midnight sun, refracted and reflected
in a calm, lavender sea--the white marble court and white domes of the
Pearl Mosque of Agra, and the blue overhead in stillness of hot mid-day,
and the Taj Mahal in late afternoon, with its marble growing grey, and
the flowers in the gardens closing to sleep.

[Illustration: SHA JEHAN,

Builder of the Taj Mahal.]



Glossary

  ACADEMICAL PRIVILEGES, 80
  Academy teachers, 177
  Aden, 58
  Aden, Barren Rocks of, 59
  Adyar River, 213
  Æolian bells, 243
  African coast, 24
  Agra, 392
  Akbar, 397
  Alhambra, 400
  Ampthill, Lady, 84
  Apollo Bundar, 65
  Ananda Temple, 272
  Antarctic, 97
  Ants, 195
  Arctic, 97
  Argo, 19
  Ariakan Mountains, 268
  Arsikere, 160, 187
  Art, 46
  Atlas Mountains, 24
  Auld Reekie, 2

  BADMINTON, 133
  Balearic Isles, 29
  Bangalore, 150, 166
  Bank manager, 192
  Barbara, 26
  Bassein, 251
  Belgaum, 118
  Benares, 382
  Bhamo, 320
  Black Buck, 392
  Bombay, 63
  Bonita, 19
  Bugle call, 10

  CAFÉ BASSO, 33
  Callum Bhouie, 49
  Cargo steamers, 295
  Carlos Place, 8
  Carmichael, Alex, 71
  Carmina Gadelica, 71
  Catamaran, 211
  Cauvery River, 179
  Cavalry, 209
  Caves of Elephanta, 86
  Channapatna, 186
  China, 361
  China Street, 322
  Chins, 318
  Chittagong, 310
  Club, 133
  Club boat-house, 216
  Coburg, 4, 8
  Cocoa-nuts, 182
  Cockburnspath, 4
  Colaba, 100
  Columba, 192
  Coquelin, 34
  Corregio, 23
  Crete, 45
  Criterion, 7
  Crawford market, 103
  Crow, 105
  Curzon, Lord, 93
  Cyrano, 33

  DAGON PAGODA, 244
  Dak bungalow, 186, 350
  Dancing, 133
  D'Artagnan, 33
  Daudet, 33
  Defiles, 318
  Delhi, 389
  Dharwar, 116, 123, 145
  Dogs, 161
  Druids, 192
  "Duck," 136
  Duck-shooting, 134
  Dumbie, 173

  EDINBURGH, 2
  Egypt, 42, 46
  E. H. A., 105, 108
  Elephants, 319
  England, 61
  Eurasians, 82, 87, 222
  Euroclydon, 21, 45

  FANES OF PAGAN, 271
  Fergusson, 271
  Fire-worship, 70
  First impressions, 185
  Fishing, 220, 301, 306, 373
  Fishing rod, 296
  Flotilla Company, 256
  Francolin, 373, 375
  Fraser, 166
  Frenchwoman, 31
  Furgusson, Jock, 44

  GAELIC, 173
  Gairsoppa, 152
  Ghat, 113
  Granada, 24
  Ghosts, 191
  Government House, 221
  "Green Hills of Tyrol," 107
  Gautier, 28
  Gulf of Lyons, 21, 29

  HALL, FIELDING, 257
  Hart, Ernest, 271
  Henner, 25
  Henzada, 258
  History of India, 40
  Holdich, 102, 382
  Hunter, Sir, W. W., 40

  JAMES IV., 209
  Jungle fowl, 345
  Jura, 49

  KALONE, 310
  Kandala, 115
  Kalychet, 348, 351
  Katha, 313, 372
  Kedar Camp, 306
  Kelly, Talbot, 46
  Kintyre, 50
  Kirkee, 117
  Kulong Cha, 354, 365
  Kyankyet, 304
  Kyonkmyoung, 298, 376

  LACQUER, 272
  Lamington, Lord, 84
  Levanter, 45
  Lipari Islands, 45
  "Little England," 103
  Log-rafts, 223
  London, 4

  MACKAY, ABERICH, 129
  Madras, 197
  Mahseer, 348, 349, 365
  Malabar Hill, 77, 97
  Marco Polo, 271
  Marina, 204
  Marseilles, 30
  Mediterranean, 24
  Mimbu, 266
  Minto, Lord, 93
  Mistral, 21
  Moda, 315
  Modellers, 177
  Moguls, 400
  Momouk, 348, 367
  Monkeys, 121
  Monticelli, 301
  Moors, 25
  Mount Street, 8
  Mutiny, 103
  Muzii colours, 8
  Myitkyna, 369
  Mysore, 172, 175

  NAMPOUNG, 358
  Ngapi, 262
  Nile, 43, 46
  North Sea, 2

  ORCHIDS, 336
  Orient-Pacific guide-book, 32
  Orpheus, 19
  Otter, 307
  Outer Isles, 70

  PADAUNG, 241
  Pagan, 271
  Painted snipe, 312
  Parsees, 70, 97
  Parsi, 88
  Partridge, 374
  Pavilion, 7
  Piccadilly Circus, 7
  Plague inspection, 199
  Poona, 117
  Popa Mountain, 268, 271
  Port Said, 43
  Precedence, 209
  Prome, 258
  Punitive expedition, 318
  Punkah, 42, 79

  QUEEN MARY, 33

  RECEPTION, 97, 223
  Reception at Government House, 67
  Red Chupprassies, 195
  Red Sea, 48
  Regent Street, 5
  Réjane, 33
  _Renown_, 228
  Roseate Tern, 309
  Royal Dublin Fusiliers, 222
  Russell viper, 129

  SABENDIGO, 300
  Sailing ship, 12
  St Abb's Head, 15
  St Thomé, 217
  St Vincent, 20
  Sanskrit, 173
  Scents at sea, 17
  Scottish nobility, 209
  Sea-swallows, 309
  Seine net, 204
  Serang, 34
  Seringapatam, 178
  Shan States, 239
  Shewgee, 316
  Siddons, Mrs, 88
  Sinkan, 319
  Sirens, 19
  Skuas, 16
  Snake charmer, 65
  Snake-rings, 295
  Snipe, 162, 299, 301, 312, 335
  Southern Maharatta Railway, 119, 197
  Spanish women, 24
  Spaniards, 25
  Spanish coast, 27
  Spanish dancing, 29
  Squirrel, 193
  Straits of Gibraltar, 24
  Stromboli, 45
  Suez, 48
  Surf rafting, 210.
  Surf rafts, 218
  Swords, 320

  TAGAUNG, 305
  Tagus, 21
  Taiping River, 356
  Taj Hotel, 63
  Taj Mahal, 400
  Tangiers, 24
  Tartarin, 33
  Tayoung, 373
  Teak, 257
  Teak logs, 266
  Terms of Union, 180
  Theatre, 90
  "The Bay," 13
  The Canal. 46
  The Heroes, 19
  "The Mail," 107
  Thayet Myo, 264
  "The Prince," 64
  The Princess, 72
  The Rock, 24
  The Taj, 391
  "The Union," 209
  Tilbury, 9
  Tip Htila, 241
  Tippoo Sultan, 180
  Trollies, 178

  ULYSSES, 49

  VAN BEERS, 30, 264
  Viceroy, 93
  Vino Riojo, 28

  WATER-GATE, 182
  Wen Tip, 241
  Whaler, 17
  Whistler, 53, 100
  "Wild Sports of Burmah," 305
  Wood-carving, 177

  YACHT CLUB, 73, 82, 104
  Yale, Elihu, 209
  Yenangyat, 265, 272
  Yenangyaung, 267
  Yule, 271



            PRINTED AT THE MERCAT PRESS, EDINBURGH


                             A PROCESSION
                                 OF THE
                           KINGS OF SCOTLAND

                                  FROM
                            Duncan and Macbeth

                                   TO
                 George II. and Prince Charles Stewart

              WITH THE PRINCIPAL HISTORICAL CHARACTERS IN
                              THEIR PROPER

                           ARMS AND COSTUMES
              FROM SEALS, COINS, AND CONTEMPORARY PORTRAITS

                                   BY
               W. G. BURN MURDOCH, F.S.A. SCOT., F.R.S.G.S.

[Illustration]

The above Illustration is a reproduction on a reduced scale of a part of
the Procession, the actual size of which is 140 inches long by 8 inches
deep (exclusive of roller). The design is primed in black and white on
tough Japanese paper, with Names and Dates of the Kings and People
printed in gold underneath. With the roll there is a book (43 pages)
which describes the figures, and forms a brief History of Scotland, and
of the changes of Arms and Costumes. The Scroll rolls up on a gold
crowned roller, and may be had either in soft brown leather binding, or
in Royal Stewart tartan binding.

This design is being utilised in American Schools, so it may be found to
be useful in Scottish Schools and Homes, when our children begin to be
taught the history of their own country.

The sole agents are--

Messrs. DOUGLAS & FOULIS, Castle Street, EDINBURGH.


                             _Price 21s._



Transcriber's Notes:


Some words are apparently spelled to reflect the Scottish dialect.

Page vi:
[Bands p aying God save the King--Edward the--?    63-74]
Typo: p aying changed to playing.

Page 14:
[there that set his neighbours and my neice and]
Typo: neice changed to niece.

Page 66:
[card! To meet their Royal Hignesses, the Prince and]
Typo: Hignesses changed to Highnesses.

Page 115:
[old trail--the Midlands to Indiar, and Indiar to the Midlands,
with bwidge between.]
Possible typo: 'bwidge'. I believe it was intentional. Unchanged.

Page 121:
[have, between a thoroughbred's and a man's. They were
yellowish beards and black faces and black ends to their]
Typo: Changed were to wore.

Page 145:
[and rather monkeyish in apperance; still, some were not]
Typo: Changed apperance to appearance.

Page 158:
[lean out and see our little narrow guage train crawling]
Typo: Changed guage to gauge.

Page 171:
[pageants, elephant kedar camps, and the right royal enterments]
Typo: Changed enterments to entertainments.

Page 173:
[that these early forms of various races are not mor often]
Typo: Changed mor to more.

Page 199:
[house, or if you exhibit any symptons of plauge or deadly]
Typo: plauge changed to plague.
Typo: symptons changed to symptoms.

Page 201:
[about twenty-five to thirty feet over all, with pratically flat]
Typo: Changed pratically to practically.

Page 202:
[here is considerd to be very damping.]
Possible typo: 'considerd'. Unchanged as the author uses this form
reasonably often.

Page 213:
[bar across its mouth, and to to the right views of the]
Double word: 'to to' changed to single 'to'.

Page 214:
[edge of the receeding wave, then turned lavender laced]
Possible typo: 'receeding'. Unchanged.

Page 216:
[floor, overhead a domed roof with chrystal chandeliers,
and smaller crystal lights round the sides.]
Typo: Chrystal left unchanged as it is used elsewhere.

Page 219:
[three deep to see the Sahib get sand of his feet, extremely]
Typo: Changed of to off.

Page 223:
[some out-of-the-way Highland or Norwegian loch, with on
boat on it, and the trout rising in the middle.]
Typo: Changed on to one.

Page 256:
[jungle comes the sound of Burmese music. A Pwe is]
Changed Pwe to Pwé for consistency.

Page 268:
[them; a _reductio ad absuurdum_, from the point of view of]
Typo: Changed absuurdum to absurdum.

Page 273:
[it on as they came out, modesly and neatly. The women]
Typo: Changed modesly to modestly.

Page 277:
[As we were talking, the Rock pilot came alonside in a]
Typo: Changed alonside to alongside.

Page 279:
[wordly desires[1]. So it was in the earliest Scottish Church;]
Typo: Changed wordly to worldly.

Page 307:
[with elephant and finish up with mouse-deer and button-quail.]
Typo: Changed qauil to quail.

Page 314:
[along the top of the river bank. The arrangemant might]
Typo: Changed arrangemant to arrangement.

Page 327:
[another bullock-cart, with an older Burman whose face
was a delight--so wrinked, and wreathed with smiles. I]
Typo: Changed wrinked to wrinkled.

Page 328:
[on it was a great space of _eongealed blood_ just where]
Typo: Changed eongealed to congealed.

Page 341:
[vividly as a few notes of an air, the rythm of some folk-song--a]
Typo: Changed rythm to rhythm.

Page 348:
[to ninty feet at a guess, and fastened snake rings on with]
Possible typo: Ninty may have been an old spelling for ninety.
Unchanged.

Page 358:
[But where the dead leaf fell, their did it rest."]
Incorrect use of their. Changed to there.

Various:
Some a.m. are small capped, others are not.
Changed all to A.M. to be consistent.

Hyphenation--words occur both ways in the original. Unchanged.
afterglow/after-glow
barefooted/bare-footed
bathrooms/bath-rooms
dreamlike/dream-like
eyelashes/eye-lashes
forefathers/fore-fathers
humdrum/hum-drum
lamplight/lamp-light
lamplit/lamp-lit
midday/mid-day
password/pass-word
pothole/pot-hole
riverside/river-side
sandbank/sand-bank
searchlight/search-light
splashboard/splash-board
sunlit/sun-lit
waterfowl/water-fowl
womenfolk/women-folk

Words spelled 2 ways.
crusies/cruisies
crystal/chrystal
pandal/pandol
paroquet/parroquet
Phoungie/Phunghi/Phoungyi





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