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    Chapter 44

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    Chapter 45
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    The old saw says, "Let a sleeping dog lie." Right.... Still, when there
    is much at stake it is better to get a newspaper to do it.
    --Pudd'nhead Wilson's New Calendar.

    FROM DIARY:

    January 28. I learned of an official Thug-book the other day. I was
    not aware before that there was such a thing. I am allowed the temporary
    use of it. We are making preparations for travel. Mainly the
    preparations are purchases of bedding. This is to be used in sleeping
    berths in the trains; in private houses sometimes; and in nine-tenths of
    the hotels. It is not realizable; and yet it is true. It is a survival;
    an apparently unnecessary thing which in some strange way has outlived
    the conditions which once made it necessary. It comes down from a time
    when the railway and the hotel did not exist; when the occasional white
    traveler went horseback or by bullock-cart, and stopped over night in the
    small dak-bungalow provided at easy distances by the government--a
    shelter, merely, and nothing more. He had to carry bedding along, or do
    without. The dwellings of the English residents are spacious and
    comfortable and commodiously furnished, and surely it must be an odd
    sight to see half a dozen guests come filing into such a place and
    dumping blankets and pillows here and there and everywhere. But custom
    makes incongruous things congruous.

    One buys the bedding, with waterproof hold-all for it at almost any shop
    --there is no difficulty about it.

    January 30. What a spectacle the railway station was, at train-time! It
    was a very large station, yet when we arrived it seemed as if the whole
    world was present--half of it inside, the other half outside, and both
    halves, bearing mountainous head-loads of bedding and other freight,
    trying simultaneously to pass each other, in opposing floods, in one
    narrow door. These opposing floods were patient, gentle, long-suffering
    natives, with whites scattered among them at rare intervals; and wherever
    a white man's native servant appeared, that native seemed to have put
    aside his natural gentleness for the time and invested himself with the
    white man's privilege of making a way for himself by promptly shoving all
    intervening black things out of it. In these exhibitions of authority
    Satan was scandalous. He was probably a Thug in one of his former
    incarnations.

    Inside the great station, tides upon tides of rainbow-costumed natives
    swept along, this way and that, in massed and bewildering confusion,
    eager, anxious, belated, distressed; and washed up to the long trains and
    flowed into them with their packs and bundles, and disappeared, followed
    at once by the next wash, the next wave. And here and there, in the
    midst of this hurly-burly, and seemingly undisturbed by it, sat great
    groups of natives on the bare stone floor,--young, slender brown women,
    old, gray wrinkled women, little soft brown babies, old men, young men,
    boys; all poor people, but all the females among them, both big and
    little, bejeweled with cheap and showy nose-rings, toe-rings, leglets,
    and armlets, these things constituting all their wealth, no doubt. These
    silent crowds sat there with their humble bundles and baskets and small
    household gear about them, and patiently waited--for what? A train that
    was to start at some time or other during the day or night! They hadn't
    timed themselves well, but that was no matter--the thing had been so
    ordered from on high, therefore why worry? There was plenty of time,
    hours and hours of it, and the thing that was to happen would happen
    --there was no hurrying it.

    The natives traveled third class, and at marvelously cheap rates. They
    were packed and crammed into cars that held each about fifty; and it was
    said that often a Brahmin of the highest caste was thus brought into
    personal touch, and consequent defilement, with persons of the lowest
    castes--no doubt a very shocking thing if a body could understand it and
    properly appreciate it. Yes, a Brahmin who didn't own a rupee and
    couldn't borrow one, might have to touch elbows with a rich hereditary
    lord of inferior caste, inheritor of an ancient title a couple of yards
    long, and he would just have to stand it; for if either of the two was
    allowed to go in the cars where the sacred white people were, it probably
    wouldn't be the august poor Brahmin. There was an immense string of
    those third-class cars, for the natives travel by hordes; and a weary
    hard night of it the occupants would have, no doubt.

    When we reached our car, Satan and Barney had already arrived there with
    their train of porters carrying bedding and parasols and cigar boxes, and
    were at work. We named him Barney for short; we couldn't use his real
    name, there wasn't time.

    It was a car that promised comfort; indeed, luxury. Yet the cost of it
    --well, economy could no further go; even in France; not even in Italy. It
    was built of the plainest and cheapest partially-smoothed boards, with a
    coating of dull paint on them, and there was nowhere a thought of
    decoration. The floor was bare, but would not long remain so when the
    dust should begin to fly. Across one end of the compartment ran a
    netting for the accommodation of hand-baggage; at the other end was a
    door which would shut, upon compulsion, but wouldn't stay shut; it opened
    into a narrow little closet which had a wash-bowl in one end of it, and a
    place to put a towel, in case you had one with you--and you would be sure
    to have towels, because you buy them with the bedding, knowing that the
    railway doesn't furnish them. On each side of the car, and running fore
    and aft, was a broad leather-covered sofa to sit on in the day and sleep
    on at night. Over each sofa hung, by straps, a wide, flat,
    leather-covered shelf--to sleep on. In the daytime you can hitch it up
    against the wall, out of the way--and then you have a big unencumbered
    and most comfortable room to spread out in. No car in any country is
    quite its equal for comfort (and privacy) I think. For usually there are
    but two persons in it; and even when there are four there is but little
    sense of impaired privacy. Our own cars at home can surpass the railway
    world in all details but that one: they have no cosiness; there are too
    many people together.

    At the foot of each sofa was a side-door, for entrance and exit.
    Along the whole length of the sofa on each side of the car ran a row of
    large single-plate windows, of a blue tint-blue to soften the bitter
    glare of the sun and protect one's eyes from torture. These could be let
    down out of the way when one wanted the breeze. In the roof were two oil
    lamps which gave a light strong enough to read by; each had a green-cloth
    attachment by which it could be covered when the light should be no
    longer needed.

    While we talked outside with friends, Barney and Satan placed the
    hand-baggage, books, fruits, and soda-bottles in the racks, and the
    hold-alls and heavy baggage in the closet, hung the overcoats and
    sun-helmets and towels on the hooks, hoisted the two bed-shelves up out
    of the way, then shouldered their bedding and retired to the third class.

    Now then, you see what a handsome, spacious, light, airy, homelike place
    it was, wherein to walk up and down, or sit and write, or stretch out and
    read and smoke. A central door in the forward end of the compartment
    opened into a similar compartment. It was occupied by my wife and
    daughter. About nine in the evening, while we halted a while at a
    station, Barney and Satan came and undid the clumsy big hold-alls, and
    spread the bedding on the sofas in both compartments--mattresses, sheets,
    gay coverlets, pillows, all complete; there are no chambermaids in India
    --apparently it was an office that was never heard of. Then they
    closed the communicating door, nimbly tidied up our place, put the
    night-clothing on the beds and the slippers under them, then returned
    to their own quarters.

    January 31. It was novel and pleasant, and I stayed awake as long as I
    could, to enjoy it, and to read about those strange people the Thugs. In
    my sleep they remained with me, and tried to strangle me. The leader of
    the gang was that giant Hindoo who was such a picture in the strong light
    when we were leaving those Hindoo betrothal festivities at two o'clock in
    the morning--Rao Bahadur Baskirao Balinkanje Pitale, Vakeel to the
    Gaikwar of Baroda. It was he that brought me the invitation from his
    master to go to Baroda and lecture to that prince--and now he was
    misbehaving in my dreams. But all things can happen in dreams. It is
    indeed as the Sweet Singer of Michigan says--irrelevantly, of course, for
    the one and unfailing great quality which distinguishes her poetry from
    Shakespeare's and makes it precious to us is its stern and simple
    irrelevancy:

    My heart was gay and happy,
    This was ever in my mind,
    There is better times a coming,
    And I hope some day to find
    Myself capable of composing,
    It was my heart's delight
    To compose on a sentimental subject
    If it came in my mind just right.

    --["The Sentimental Song Book," p. 49; theme, "The Author's Early Life,"
    19th stanza.]

    Barroda. Arrived at 7 this morning. The dawn was just beginning to
    show. It was forlorn to have to turn out in a strange place at such a
    time, and the blinking lights in the station made it seem night still.
    But the gentlemen who had come to receive us were there with their
    servants, and they make quick work; there was no lost time. We were soon
    outside and moving swiftly through the soft gray light, and presently
    were comfortably housed--with more servants to help than we were used to,
    and with rather embarassingly important officials to direct them. But it
    was custom; they spoke Ballarat English, their bearing was charming and
    hospitable, and so all went well.

    Breakfast was a satisfaction. Across the lawns was visible in the
    distance through the open window an Indian well, with two oxen tramping
    leisurely up and down long inclines, drawing water; and out of the
    stillness came the suffering screech of the machinery--not quite musical,
    and yet soothingly melancholy and dreamy and reposeful--a wail of lost
    spirits, one might imagine. And commemorative and reminiscent, perhaps;
    for of course the Thugs used to throw people down that well when they
    were done with them.

    After breakfast the day began, a sufficiently busy one. We were driven
    by winding roads through a vast park, with noble forests of great trees,
    and with tangles and jungles of lovely growths of a humbler sort; and at
    one place three large gray apes came out and pranced across the road--a
    good deal of a surprise and an unpleasant one, for such creatures belong
    in the menagerie, and they look artificial and out of place in a
    wilderness.

    We came to the city, by and by, and drove all through it. Intensely
    Indian, it was, and crumbly, and mouldering, and immemorially old, to all
    appearance. And the houses--oh, indescribably quaint and curious they
    were, with their fronts an elaborate lace-work of intricate and beautiful
    wood-carving, and now and then further adorned with rude pictures of
    elephants and princes and gods done in shouting colors; and all the
    ground floors along these cramped and narrow lanes occupied as shops
    --shops unbelievably small and impossibly packed with merchantable rubbish,
    and with nine-tenths-naked natives squatting at their work of hammering,
    pounding, brazing, soldering, sewing, designing, cooking, measuring out
    grain, grinding it, repairing idols--and then the swarm of ragged and
    noisy humanity under the horses' feet and everywhere, and the pervading
    reek and fume and smell! It was all wonderful and delightful.

    Imagine a file of elephants marching through such a crevice of a street
    and scraping the paint off both sides of it with their hides. How big
    they must look, and how little they must make the houses look; and when
    the elephants are in their glittering court costume, what a contrast they
    must make with the humble and sordid surroundings. And when a mad
    elephant goes raging through, belting right and left with his trunk, how
    do these swarms of people get out of the way? I suppose it is a thing
    which happens now and then in the mad season (for elephants have a mad
    season).

    I wonder how old the town is. There are patches of building--massive
    structures, monuments, apparently--that are so battered and worn, and
    seemingly so tired and so burdened with the weight of age, and so dulled
    and stupefied with trying to remember things they forgot before history
    began, that they give one the feeling that they must have been a part of
    original Creation. This is indeed one of the oldest of the princedoms of
    India, and has always been celebrated for its barbaric pomps and
    splendors, and for the wealth of its princes.
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