At the end of the garden, in a little temple, is a statue of the holy man of the size of life, in his favourite attitude, sitting on his crossed legs. Round the image were the most absurd toysand a photograph of the German Emperor! As I was leaving, the fakir called me back, asked me to think of him sometimes, and gave me one of the splendid yellow roses that hung about him like a glory.

At the very top of the incline, the enclosing wall, black with age but bright with yellow velvet moss, rises precipitously above the plain, and three light balconies, with columns as slight as flower-stems,[Pg 77] crowned with pointed roofs recurved at the angles, overhang the abyss. By the roadside came two figures tottering along, and then, turning to look at me, showed me the horror of their shrivelled bodies, their dimmed eyesall that seemed alive in those drawn faces of skin and bonethe jaw stiffened in a skull-like grimace; victims of the famine, who had come from the Central Provinces where there had been no rain for two years, and where everything was dying. This couple were making their way to a poorhouse hard by. They had come from a village in Bundelkund, whence all the inhabitants had fledthemselves the sole survivors of a family of eighteen souls. First the children died, then the very old folks. These two had kept themselves alive on what had been given them on the way, but immigrants soon were too many in the districts unvisited by famine, and ere long they could get nothing; then they fed on roots, on what they[Pg 191] could steal from fields or garden-plots, or found left to rot, scorned even by the beasts.

As we approached Jhansi we passed a village whence all the inhabitants had fled. The houses, the little temples, the gods on their pedestals by the dried-up tankseverything was thickly coated with white dust. Under the archway by which we entered a cow crossed our path, her head decked with a tiara of peacock's feathers, and went her way alone for a[Pg 200] walk at an easy pace. Within the palace is a maze of corridors, and pierced carving round every room fretting the daylight. An inner court is decorated with earthenware panels set in scroll-work of stone. A slender colonnade in white marble is relieved against the yellow walls, and below the roof, in the subdued light of the deeper angles, the stone, the marble, the porcelain, take hues of sapphire, topaz, and enamel, reflections as of gold and mother-of-pearl. In a pavilion is a little divan within three walls, all pierced and carved; it suggests a hollow pearl with its sides covered with embroidery that dimly shows against the sheeny smoothness of the marble. The effect is so exquisitely soft, so indescribably harmonious, that the idea of size is lost, and the very materials seem transfigured into unknown substances. One has a sense as of being in some fairy palace, enclosed in a gem excavated by gnomesa crystal of silk and frost, as it were, bright with its own light.

Near a temple some bells and tom-toms animated the silence with their clang and clatter. Worshippers stole in noiselessly, barefoot on the stones, and entered the sanctuary, within which tapers were burning.

[Pg 40]

The dinner-table was covered with flowersMarchal Niel and Gloire de Dijon rosesbut enormous, as big as saucers, and of such a texture, such a colour! a tissue of frost and light; and round the table, which was loaded with silver plate, were grey and red uniforms. Strains of music were wafted in through the open windows from the regimental band playing slow waltz-tunes a little way off.

Really the prison this time! in the midst of a large enclosure with high walls; a building on a star-shaped plan, with large windows to admit air and daylight. The prisoners, in a white uniform, with chains on their feet, were manufacturing various articles in basket-work, and in a shed with a cotton awning a hundred or so of convicts were weaving carpets. The brilliancy of colour was indescribable; the vividness of the medley of worsted piled by the side of the gorgeous looms, the light hues of the dresses, the faded turbans touched with light, the glitter of the steel chains, the bronze skins, glorified to gold in the quivering sunshine, which, scarcely subdued by the awning, bathed the[Pg 87] scene in a glow so intense that it seemed to proceed from the objects themselves. Behind each loom sat a warder, with the pattern of the carpet on his knees, dictating the colours to the weavers, chanting out his weariful litany of numbers and shades in a monotonous voice.

In the middle of the station groups of women and children squatted on the flagstones, their little bundles about them of red and white rags, and copper pots looking like gold; a huddled heap of misery, in this enormous hall of palatial proportions, handsomely decorated with sculptured marble.

"Then twenty-eight?"