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At our feet were the two walls, the outer wall enclosing the palace, the gardens, the arena, where fights were given between elephants and tigers; the inner wall, ten metres high, built round the zenanathe women's palaceof which even the foundations have almost disappeared under the overwhelming vegetation. Deeply graven in the stone of one of the walls is the giant hand of Ali the Conqueror, the terrible, who came from the land of the Arabs, killing all on his way who refused to be converted to Islam. And he died in the desolate Khyber, where all who pass do him honour, and entreat his protection on their way. A native judge is sitting cross-legged on a little mat in his house. A petitioner appears of the lowest caste, a Sudra. The judge, quite motionless, watches the man unfasten his sandals, rush up to him, and with a profound bow touch his feet in sign of submission. For a man of higher caste, a Vaysiya, the ceremonial is the same, only instead of running forward the visitor walks up to the judge and merely pretends to touch his slippers. Then comes a kshatriya advancing very slowly; the judge rises to meet him half-way, and they both bow.

[Pg 38] They were all flying from the plague, which was spreading, and emptying the bazaars and workshops. The Exchange being closed, trade was at a standstill, and the poor creatures who were spared by the pestilence were in danger of dying of hunger.

Further away, in another quite small temple, a young Brahmin robed in white, and very handsome, was reading the Ramayana to two women; the three quite filled the little building. The entrance was screened by a curtain composed of jasmine flowers threaded on fine string, and behind this veil of flowers the three figures looked like the creatures of a legend. Outside the sanctuary, seated on the steps and flagstones and obstructing the street, were a score or so of women redolent of lemon and[Pg 178] sandal-wood, and listening to the scripture distinctly chanted out by the young priest. As we returned, vistas of unreal definiteness showed us endless valleys lost in the distance, and vast spaces cultivated in green and russet stripesthe tea plantations that spread below the now vanished splendour of the snows. At a turning in the road stands a cross, erected there in memory of an epidemic of suicide that broke out among the soldiers of the English forta small structure of stone with an iron roof that faces the heaven-scaling range. He, with his four sons, goes to pay a call on Tazulmulook, whom he does not recognize in his palace, when suddenly Dilbar arrives to claim her prisoners. The fifth son then relates to the king the deeds of his elder brothers, and in proof of his words points to the mark each of them bears on his neck. The king anathematizes the princes, and sends them to prison, but loads Tazulmulook with honours and affection.

We went into the observatory, where the servants were sleeping in the open air on camp beds, lying across each other and blocking the entrance.[Pg 177] I went to gaze at the north star, looking very small, a tiny spangle of blue in the blue velvet sky, visible at the top of a crazy flight of steps that goes up to nowhere in the air from the topmost terrace.