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One temple to Buddha only, on an elongated plan, ends in a vault forming a bulb-shaped cupola supported on massive columns, quite Byzantine in character and wholly unexpected. The dim light, coming in only through a low door and two small windows filled in with pierced carving, enhances the impression of being in some ancient European fane, and the Buddha on the high altar has a look of suffering and emaciation that suggests a work of the fourteenth century.

"We give rice to the sick, who all have dysentery, instead of the daily cake."

Finally, in a third mosque, lies Shah Alam's brother. On the stone that covers him a sheet of lead bears the print of two gigantic feet, intended to perpetuate to all ages the remembrance of his enormous height. In an alley of the bazaar girls were lounging in hammocks hung to nails outside the windows, smoking and spitting down on the world below.

Under the cool shade of evening, the softening[Pg 44] touch of twilight, all this sculptured magnificence assumes an air of supreme grandeur, and calls up a world of legends and beliefs till the temples seem to recede, fading into the vapour of the blue night. In the streets, swarming with people, every woman who is not a pariah, walks veiled in all the mystery of her unrevealed features, her long, dreamy eyes alone visible.

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. One of the servants of the place, sitting in the shade of the arcade, was painting, after a strange method. He sprinkled powdered colour on the surface of some water in a tub, outlining the colour with black; then, with a feather, he massed and arranged the colours, taking some off and replacing it in infinitesimal quantities. Finally the result was a representation of Siva and Ourasi, robed in blue and violet, against a background of crude red. When they were quite finished he jerked the bowl, giving the figures a curtseying motion, and stood a little way off to contemplate the general effect;[Pg 158] and then, quite satisfied, stirred the whole thing up and began again, the same picture, with the same precise care.

The pile of the girl with marigold wreaths and the shroud stained crimson and purple flung her ashes to the winds, reduced to mere atoms of bone and light cinder, and the servants of the place drowned a few still glowing sticks in the river;[Pg 169] the family and friends slowly went up the yellow stone steps and disappeared through a gateway leading into the town.