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was large and square with windows growing helpless at the sight of Rebectoo high for purposes of outlook, and ca's calm and sane proceedings,-the closely barred against all use as venti- matter of fact feeliug of the pulse, the lators. On the floor was a gaudy unceremonious lift of the eye-lid, the Western carpet, stamped, literally as business-like production of tablet and well as intrinsically, as cheap German pencil for the composition of a suitable merchandise. In the centre of the tonic-it dawned on her that a comroom stood a high silver bedstead, municating tongue
what she hung with opaque curtains, which were wanted; and she darted out to secure evidently not intended as security old Prubhu Das, the domestic secreagainst mosquitoes, for those musical tary, and the one male, save the Racreatures buzzed among the heavy jah, who was allowed access to this end folds with appreciative contentment. of the palace. Prubhu Das was just beOn the floor sat women of varying hind the door, watching, and ages, some shaven, and without orna- therefore soon produced. He was a ment, others caparisoned gaily enough; spare, fleshless Hindu, clad in flowing all in the rich dark reds and blues of robes over which he wore a long white the Kathiawad saree. They were mov- coat. On his head was a slight black ing their bodies to and fro to a monot- cap, from out of which had escaped onous Gregorian wail, which ceased the wiry grey top-knot, the sign ocnot for the entrance of the intruder. cipital of his Brahminism; and as he l'arbathi pointed to the bed, and Rebec
bowed and genuflected to the lady, this ca approached, being constrained to odd little termination bobbed in the submit for lack of language, else her most ludicrous way against the rest of initiatory activities would certainly his clean-shaven head. For you must have been devoted to the extrusion of know that Brahmins grow a capillary the noise and the introduction of some oasis there alone, where most Western. fresh air.
ers are innutritive in old age. When her eyes had adapted them- "Your honor," he said, "your Monselves to the want of light, what she strosity, your Magniloquence, learned saw in no way alarmed her medical in
in the English Æsculapianisms! in this stincts. Among tumbled bed-clothes, poor house we, prince of the people, rich silks, and cheap cotton sheets. lay. are your dusty slaves!" Here he paused, fully dressed and bejewelled, a smug, to leer deprecatingly and express fasleek, decently-featured Indian lady. cially his grovelling obsequiousness. Her skin was beautifully smooth, and "Humph!” said Rebecca "you know under her lashes were the accustomed English I suppose? Well then, this artificial shadows, the material absit lady has nothing the matter with her omen of the nation. One plump hand which cannot be cured by bestirring lay lazily across the clothes, and you herself. She is bilious,-that is allsaw that the nails were well-kept and the rest is imagination. Here is a tondyed with the brilliant mendhi; the oth- ic, and I have also noted directions as er hand was coiled pettishly round the to diet, air, and exercise. These winshort thick neck.
dows ought to be open, and all these "Bilious," said Rebecca. Parbathi did lowling women turned out.
Do you not understand, but she saw that the hear?" doctor was not impressed by the hein- Průbhu Das was the most delightful ousness of the disease, and she poured . pantomime possible. There he stood, out volleys of jargon, waving her slightly inclining forward, his hands hands in wild gesticulation. Then, clasped in agonized supplication, his
eyes blinking twenty to the second, taken of this concoction, and of the and at every few words spoken he equal absurdity of connecting the Thejerked his head towards the doctor, krani with any such deep-laid scheme. opening his mouth in a gape which But the perspicuity of her arguments was meant to convey a combination of appealed not to the Durbar. There was assent and astonishment. Then he poison in the food, so much was cerspoke; the occasion was serious, and tain; therefore the old Thekrani (who his speech matched it.
had not even the most remote connec"Lady not diagnosticate good, right tion with the royal kitchen) must be way. Ranee Sahib not bile; Ranee Sa- treated as a criminal at the domestic hib poison. You see old Mother tribunal. Thekrani wear widow's cloth. She cobra-ininded, breeze in her brain. She wake poison ready. Cook sweetmeats, in sweetmeats hide poison. Ranee eat Not far from Gower Street station, sweetmeat, now sick, tomorrow die. in a comparatively quiet corner of the Rajah Sahib carry her on litter, make city of London, stands a great block of her ashes. Mother Thekrani too much modern red brick. You are back again wicked. Doctor Lady give certificate, in the haunts of civilization now, and write Ranee Sahib die poison." He you press the button to summon the gasped, exhausted with such direct accustomed porter. He comes promptspeaking, for his mind was tortuous ly, and you follow him up a flight of and abhorred a straight line.
steps, which beam upon you in the un"Nonsense!" was the retort. "The mistakable cleanliness of English soap lady is no more poisoned than I am and water. “Miss Marion Mainwaring? when I eat too much dinner.” But This way, No. 17," says the stout cusPrubhu Das's next move was more todian of the Women Students' Champractical The doctor was presented bers, Chenies Street; and he retires with a quantity of food alleged to have with a salute, leaving you to your own been eaten by the Ranee, neatly bottled resources. and sealed in accordance with local po- It looks like a student's room, and a lice-instructions on the subject-what woman's. Prints of Rubens and Nicolo an amount of study those rules had Poussin, of Cuyp and William Hunt, cost the old man!-and, albeit denying of Burne-Jones and Rossetti Madonnas any connection between the food and and bachannal orgies, Dutch sunsets the royal lady, Rebecca promised to and beggar-boys, hang, in impartial investigate and report the next day. selection and appropriate setting, She chuckled gleefully as she carried against the Morris-papered walls. One off her prize; poisons were her special end of the room is lined with deepsubject, and she had hardly dared to browed tomes, of a scientific and medhope that an introduction to the Indian ical aspect; a writing-table in the spatype would be so soon afforded her. cious bow-window betrays an air of The report she wrote before she slept, recent requisition; softly-cushioned in the large chandelier-lighted drawing lounges invite to unstudious repose; room of the guest-house. It was brief within easy reach are picture-papers enough; the food contained poison suffi- and the latest poem. The mantel-piece cient to have extinguished instantly the is laden with the pretty yellow jonquil; entire nine lives of the most vital cat. and a copper kettle is just beginning to She added an unsolicited rider on the im- simmer on the pleasantly crackling fire, possibility of the Ranee's having par- beside which sits the tall, dark, strong
featured owner of these varied tastes. er liked seeing the small sparely-clad She reads sheets of closely written :or- children (wearing nought but their eign paper, and you,-you creep behind hair, you know,), helping their mothers her and look over her shoulder.
pick cotton under the bright Indian
skies. But the cotton factories, with I.
their tall unpicturesque chimneys, are Kathiawad, November, 1896. an unpleasantly civilized suggestion. Well, Marion,
Among the arrangements planned for For all brainless, unjust atrocities my amusement was a play by a strollcommend me to sleek, globulous Rajalis ing company. The palace has a theatre, of Indian principalities! You will re. but the night was so sultry that the member the story of the poisoned com- performance transferred itself to an fits, and how excited I was at the rose impromptu stage out in the open. sibility of investigating an Indian poi- 'Twas a strange unforgetable sight, son so early in my life here? ! had lighted as it was by flaming torches, such visions of collecting useful dala burning weirdly under the glowering for the old Octopian in the dear la::ora. sky. In the foreground sat the Rajah on tory round which my affections still bis gemmed throne, richly jewelled and hover. But, alack, my pride is turnel Faily robed; behind was a throng of to remorse! The immediate result of fierce black-mustachioed attendants, my report is that they suspect a poor and closing up round the royal personold widowed ex-Queen of an attempt age impenetrable guard. Even to poison one of her grandson's wives, among his own people he is not safe. and she is expelled the palace, bereft They say that at night he sleeps, literof all that might, by any possibility, ally, under drawn swords, two particuhelp her to keep herself in fairly decent larly trusty servitors keeping guard, comfort elsewhere. I expect the fact like angels with extended wings, at was that the young Ranees disliked the head of his bed. the old one, and plotted this device for The stage arrangements were rough ridding themselves of her supervision. enough, and the play in parts, I am They tell me she has taken refuge in told, quite impossible; but ignorance of the house of a former maid, and I mean the language stood me in stead of an to go and see her, and hear more ct expurgated edition. 'Twas a pantoher history.
mimic skit on the administration of jusNo! I have not plagued myself with tice by the young civilian. A florid vain regrets, as you'd have done; not, Englishman (the mask was really good) at least, after a quiet sane considera- sits at a camp table, holding his mition of the matter. Why should I gratory court upon a criminal charged prick my fingers with the thorns which with murdering his wife. As he does other people gather? You will know, not yet know the language, he works however, that I did not omit my best through an interpreter. persuasions with the Prince, useless as Magistrate. How old was your wife? I could not help feeling that they were
Criminal. Ten years. at the time.
Interpreter. (Knowing the minority of Meanwhile, to me personally the Ra- the victim will heighten the heniousness jah has been kindness itself. This is of the crime to a civilized mind.) He only a moderately sized State, and is says, Sir, she was an old woman of rot very remarkable for natural or ar- some sixty-five years. tificial charms. The country round Magistrate. An old woman! Where's about is cotton-picking and flat. I rath- the corpse?
Interpreter. Now burnt, some twelve vise. Then the chief torch-bearer lights months since your Honor's last visit the lamps in the entrance-ball, till to this Zillah. Prisoner keeping in gaol which is done not a single spark must all the time. But ashes in Prisoner's relieve the darkness of the palace. wallet. Your Honor inspect?
Should there a Prince living in his Magistrate. How old is the Prisoner? own separate palace, the ceremony is Criminal. Twenty-five years.
repeated for him. It was all so strange Interpreter. (Interpreting again to fit and oriental, I think it is one of my his own ideas of what is best.) Prisoner nicest memories of this place. same age as late corpse, your Honor, I hear I may visit the old Thekrani but looking very young. Vishnu God, to morrow, so you shall have news of salt preserve his life.
her when next I write. Magistrate. (Whose eyes are opened P. S. What do the ladies do all day, by this blatant falsehood.) Hang the
Quarrel? No, they are too man,-to morrow, five A.M.!
lethargic for any such activity. Most The moral of it all seems to be, when of them turn over and fondle their loveyou do stoop to lying, take care that ly jewels and silk garments. One the lies have at least some semblance Ranee has taken a violent passion for of plausibility.
the concertina. She has about a hunThe second half of the evening was dred of them in all sizes, and by all devoted to conjuring tricks, at which makers, but refuses to be taught how local jugglers are really unsurpassable. to handle the instrument in the convenI hear that these jugglers are a caste tional way.' As she is energetic about by themselves, and are a. most inter- playing, you can imagine the conseesting people, clannish and unapproach- quence. I no longer wonder that about able. To their own caste they are ex- half a mile divides the King's apartceedingly kind. A juggler's portionless ments from the zenana. widow becomes the care of the whole community; his daughters are married
II. at their joint expense, and his sons are taught the trade by the cleverest jug
Kathiawad, December, 1896. gler among them. As a result a woman Oh, my dear Marion, is oftenest in best case when widowed. Such a hovel it is which houses the Is it not strange that this should happen poor old Thekrani! A great gateway, in the country where widowhood bas built for offence and defence does inalways been shown us in the saddest deed frown threateningly at the public colors? Truly is this a land of an- road, and is officered by a custodian omalies!
equally forbidding and imposing. But, But to return,-a custom you would oh the sordid poverty behind the have enjoyed was the evening lamp- wicket! Two small rooms are all the lighting. When the sun drops, the house contains. In one live the maid torch-bearers congregate at the palace- and her family, all devoted to the gates, and run in a body, bearing flam- Thekrani and counting themselves ing pines in their hands, to salute, at happy to be serving her; the other is the chief entrance to the palace, the at the Thekrani's own disposal, but she reigning King. He is called by all the lives mostly on the little veranda. Here titles which his country and the Em- I found her dressed in a spotless white press bestow upon him, and by all the cloth, seated on the floor, poring, with high-sounding flatteries which the East- the bedimmed vision of her eighty-four ern tongue and loyal subjects can de- years, over an illumined Sanskrit text.
The little gray squirrels ran about her have been picturesque. It was intendunabashed, hiding in the folds of hered that this should be a final transladraperies, and perching on her shoul- tion; and to this end, with some show der,-a striking contrast. But, ugh!- of an attempt at reconciliation, was sent the mice ran about too, equally priv- her the loveliest of garments. But the ileged, and you will understand how old maid, skilled in the poisons of naapprehensive these made me feel. In tive States, warned her, only just in the yard just beyond are tethered the time, that to wear it would be to pregreat unsightly buffaloes, and the pare her body against cremation. I dwarfed Indian cows, which provide have a piece of it now, a valued posnot only the chief food, but also the session. Failing fraud, they had reonly income of the small household. course to force. Imagine it all! The The incarnate pathos of it rises to your breathless, dark night; the swift mind as you look at the old woman! stealthy steps of the harridan, as she I wish one could help her. She takes comes to bind her victim, preventing things with a large equanimity, how all possible outcry by a tent-peg wedged ever, saying, as they all say in this in between the poor, toothless jaws; country, “It is my fate!"
the noiseless race (tyranny against Her jewels have long since been helplessness!) through the deserted transmuted into coin, one beautiful un- streets; the secretive palanquin revealcut diamond alone remaining. Should ing nothing concerning its burden-and, nothing else happen to help her, she finally the ruthless desertion outside will use this to accomplish the final the city gates! Here she would have journey of her life. It is such an odd fared very badly indeed, but thata kindidea. When she feels death near (her hearted palanquin-bearer had given up horoscope will date the feeling), she his place at the poles to the ubiquitous will start, however feeble, on a pil- maid, who took her to the house where grimage to the sacred Ganges, which, I found her. . . . And to think that all you must know, is, many hundred iniles this time the Rajah was entertaining distant from this place. She will take me, to lull my suspicions and keep me with her the ashes of her son and off enquiry! I am an oaf, and could daughter, having vowed that these weep with vexation! should mingle with the sacred fluid.
III. "If I reach the Ganges," she explained, "after throwing in these two little bags
Kathiawad, May, 1897. and saying the necessary prayers, I will Do you remember the old Thekrani, lay me down on the bank and die. Su- and her pitiful story? I have just bibree, my faithful maid, will see that heard that a few months after I said all that is necessary is done for my good-bye to her, she felt the death-call poor frame. This alone is now my care and went her pilgrimage. Her vitality in life."
lasted the distance of the sacred river, Of the Rajah she speaks with diffi- and she omitted nothing of all she culty. Yet she did tell me how he had vowed. But that was a week ago, wrested from her all her possessions, and she lies in a trance now on the and indeed he still withholds her allow- treeless sand-banks, responsive to ance, month by month as it falls due, neither the fierce sun by day, nor the but she is quite sure that with the gods brilliant stars by night. Can't you see there will be retribution for him, and it all? And the eternal river flows by, she wastes no human vengeance. cold, majestic, unheeding! Her ejection from the palace must
Cornelia Sorabji. Macmillan's Magazine.