2021-04-17 01:54:03

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ENGLISH

CHAPTER II

Lisette and her friend used to stay there all day, taking their dinner in a basket, and had an especial weakness for certain slices of excellent b?uf la mode which they bought of the concierge of one of the doors of the Louvre. Lisette always declared in after life that she could never get any so good.In one tent there was a display of innumerable gilt images, very suggestive of Jesuit influencemincing, chubby angels, martyrs carrying palm-branches, and ecstatic virgins with clasped hands, all serving to decorate the shrine in which the god was to be carried back to the temple. Coloured fires lighted the workmen, and in the background the temple was darkly visible, with only a few dim lamps shrouded in incense, and burning before Rama, whose festival was being kept.

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Then all went out, died gently away; the tom-toms and pipe attending the god's progress alone were audible in the silence; till in the distance a great blaze of light flashed out, showing a crowd of bright turbans and the glittering splendour of the shrine going up the steps to the temple where, till next year, Rama would remainthe exiled god, worshipped for his wisdom which enabled him to discover the secrets, to find the true path, and win the forgiveness of his father.In the close-shut room the air, loaded with scent and smoke, was quite unbreathable; musicians playing behind a partition added to the irritating effect of all this perfume and noise.The dishonourable nature of this transaction does not seem to have occurred either to her mother or to Lisette herself. She was rather glad to keep her own name a little longer, but not at all pleased when, it being rumoured that she was engaged to M. Le Brun, everybody began to warn her on no account to marry him.

At a short distance from Toglackabad, on a solitary rock, stands a square building of massive architecture, sober in outline, and crowned by a stone dome. It dwells alone, surrounded by walls; the mausoleum of Toglack, containing his tomb with that of his wife and his son, Mohammed the Cruel.Birds, green, red, black, and gold-colour, fluttered gaily among the palms, the bamboos as tall as pine trees, the baobabs and mango trees; butterflies with rigid tails and large wings beating in uncertain flight, floated over the bright verdure flecked with sunshine. Round one pagoda, towering over a wretched village that lay huddled in the shade of its consecrated walls, a proud procession of stone bulls stood out against the sky, visible at a great distance in clear outline through the heated, quivering air.

A vision of Europe. Cottages surrounded by lawns under the shade of tall trees, and against the green the scarlet coats of English soldiers walking about. And close about the houses, as if dropped there by chance, tombs covered with flagstones and enclosed by railings, and on all the same date, June or July, 1857. Further away, under the trees, are heaps of stones and bricks, the ruins of mosques and forts, hardly visible now amid the roots and briars that look like the flowery thickets of a park, varied by knolls to break the monotony of the level sward. In the native town that has grown up on the site of the palace of Nana Sahib, built indeed of the[Pg 186] ruins of its departed splendour, dwell a swarm of pariahs, who dry their rags and hang out clothes and reed screens over every opening, living there without either doors or windows, in utter indifference to the passer-by.

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The sweepers, the saises, the bearers, the whole tribe of noisy, idle servantsmen, women, and childrenall sleep out of doors in the hotter weather. And all day long the camp-bed, the two mats, and half a dozen pots, which constitute the[Pg 285] whole furniture of a family, move round the house with the shade, only settling down after dark.Tu seras peintre, mon enfant, ou jamais il nen sera. [9]In the train to Delhi the windows were screened with cuscus mats constantly sprinkled with water, and so long as the train was in motion the air came in cool, fragrant, and breathable. But whenever we stopped in the desert which this country becomes just before the monsoon, melted lead seemed to scorch up the atmosphere and shut the train in between walls of fire.

The subterranean passage leading from the empress's rooms to the mosque, has in the roof a thick flagstone that admits a subdued glimmer as through amber or honey, lighting up all one end of the dark corridor.Middle-aged men and women had seen Louis XIV., Louis le Grand, le Roi Soleil, as an old man; old people could remember him in the prime of his life, the most magnificent King with the most stately court in Christendom. The Cardinal de Luynes, the [4] Marchal de Croz, the Duc de Richelieu and other grands seigneurs who preserved the manners and traditions of that time, were looked upon as models of courtly manners and high-breeding by those who complained that in the reaction and licence of the regency and court of Louis XV., vice and corruption were far more unrestrained, more scandalous, less disguised and altogether more indecorous than under the ceremonious and stately rule of his great-grandfather. [3]

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Apr-17 01:54:03