ENGLISH ´óÇÅÎ´¾ÃÓÕ»óThen follows a long discussion in Hindi with the bystanders, who always escort a foreigner in a mob, ending in the questionIN the histories of the four women whose lives are here related, I have tried, as far as is possible in the limited space, to give an idea of the various ways in which the Revolutionary tempest at the close of the eighteenth century and the eventful years which preceded and followed it, affected, and were regarded by, persons of the different parties and classes to which they belonged.The Marquis de Choiseul had just married a very pretty American of sixteen years old, which did not prevent his entertaining a violent passion for Lisette, and trying to make love to her on all possible occasions, but greatly increased her indignation at his doing so.
Lisette at first wished to refuse this offer. She did not at all dislike M. Le Brun, but she was by no means in love with him, and as she could make plenty of money by her profession, she had no anxiety about the future and no occasion to make a mariage de convenance. But her mother, who seems to have had the talent for doing always the wrong thing, and who fancied that M. Le Brun was very rich, did not cease to persecute her by constant representations and entreaties not to refuse such an excellent parti, and she was still more influenced by the desire to escape from her step-father, who, now that he had no occupation, was more at home and more intolerable than ever."Yes, I know. How much?"
Lisette rejoiced at this announcement, for she fancied she would like to live in the country, at any rate for a part of the year.DERWAL
The Duchesse dAremberg, Mme. de Canillac, and Mme. de Souza, then Ambassadress to Portugal, all young and pretty, all friends of Lisettes, came to warn her not to marry the man whose wife she had already been for a fortnight.Abibulla delivered a long harangue through the closed door; at last a wicket was opened, framing an eye. I was invited to approach, and then, after examination, the wicket in the polished door was abruptly closed!
A marble balustrade, of flowing design and astounding delicacy, exquisitely harmonious and artistic, encloses the white sarcophagus, which is inlaid with mindi and basilic flowers in costly agate, linked by inscriptions looking like lacings of narrow black braid. This balustrade alone, in the Taj, under the marble pile which forms the tomb of the empress, and on which 20,000 craftsmen laboured for twenty years, would, in its indescribable beauty of workmanship, have amply fulfilled Shah Jehan's vow.In the plain the sowars were performing an[Pg 280] Indian fantasia. Charging at a gallop, their wide sleeves flying behind them, they swept past like a whirlwind, aiming with their lances at a peg of wood stuck into the ground. Whenever it was speared there were frantic shouts and applause from a crowd of spectators, packed in the best places. In a cloud of dust, growing steadily thicker and hanging motionless over the riders, the performance went on, its centre always this same peg of wood, replaced again and again, exciting the enthusiasm of connoisseurs till the last ray of light died away.
But this suburb is now no more than a heap of huts and hovels. The tombs, ruined and overthrown, are few and far apart, heaped with sand, and showing as arid hillocks amid the level of withered grass. The plain beyond, laid out in rice-fields of a tender green, furrowed with silver streamlets, spreads unbroken to the foot of a huge wall of the hue of red gold enclosing a hill; and on[Pg 99] entering the precincts, behold, in the bays of the thickness of the wall, a whole village where dwell the families of the soldiers who guard this citadel.Some native lancers were man?uvring; they charged at top speed in a swirl of golden dust, which transfigured their movements, making them look as though they did not touch the earth, but were riding on the clouds. They swept lightly past, almost diaphanous, the colour of their yellow khaki uniforms mingling with the ochre sand; and then, not ten yards off, they stopped short, with astonishing precision, like an apparition. Their lances quivered for an instant, a flash of steel sparks against the skya salute to the Maharajahand then they were as motionless as statues.
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On the sloping bank to the river stood a large wooden mosque falling into ruins. In front of this building was a plot full of tombstones, some overthrown, some still standing on the declivity.A giant rock and natural fortress command the plain, towering above the garden-land. Two roads, hewn in the stone, lead by easy ascents to the top. All along the rock wall bas-reliefs are carved, warriors riding on elephants, and Kalis in graceful attitudes. There are openings to the green depths of reservoirs, small temples, arcades sheltering idols bowered in fresh flowers. Arches in the Ja?n style of architecture span the road, and at the summit, beyond the inevitable drawbridge, stands Mandir, the palace of King Pal, a dazzling structure of yellow stone, looking as if it had grown on the hill-rock that it crowns with beauty. Towers carrying domed lanterns spring skywards above the massive walls. The decoration is playfully light, carvings alternating with inlaid tiles; and all round the lordly and solemn edifice wheels a procession of blue ducks on a yellow ground in earthenware."Can you suppose I should have insulted you by coming here without asking you some favour?"
There was at the top of the temple a sarcophagus in a shrine, on which were masses of impalpable silk gauze embroidered with gold, which looked like a peacock's breast, so subtle were the transparent colours lying one above anothergreen, blue, and yellow predominating, gauze so light that the slightest breath set it floating in glistening and changing hues; and on the snowy white pavement of the floor was strewn a carpet of very pale lilac lilies and mindi flowers.Monsieur le Comte, your husband, will lose his head on the scaffold; you will leave France to live without resources in a foreign land; you will work for your living, but after long years of exile you will return to France. You will marry an ambassador, but you will have other vicissitudes.Colombo again; and again the jewellers and their blue stonesan intoxicating, living blue.
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