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for the night. The moment that the budgerow is securely moored, a very active and animated scene commences : the domestics, whose services are not required on board, and all the crew, immediately disembark ; fires are kindled for the various messes; those who are anxious for quiet and seclusion light up their faggots at a considerable distance from the boat. The rich background of dark trees, the blazing fires, the picturesque groups assembled round them, and the tranquil river below, its crystal surface crimson with the red glow of an Indian sunset, or the fleeting tint fading away, and leaving only the bright broad river,-molten silver, or polished steel, as the dark shadows of the night advance,- form an evening landscape always pleasing, and varying with the varying scenery of the ever-changing bank. While the cloth is laying in the cabin for dinner, the Europeans of the party usually walk along the sands of the river, or penetrate a short distance into the interior, sometimes passing through fields of indigo, or plantations of cotton, whose bursting pods strew the pathways; at others pausing to admire the feathery appearance of a beautiful species of grain, which resembles the snowy plumes of the ostrich, and, rising to the height of several feet, produces a magnificent effect as it is undulated by the passing breeze. The cultivated places are watched by vigilant guardians, whose duty it is to protect them from the incursions and depredations of men and beasts. At night, these persons frequently nestle like birds in the branches of the trees, some of the more luxurious having their charpoys (bedsteads) fastened on convenient boughs; in the day time, they are either perched up in a small wooden watch-tower, which, as they always sit, or rather squat, looks like the upper half of a sentry-box, raised upon a scaffold of bamboo; or, mounted on a broken-down tattoo, and armed with a long lance, they ride round their employer's territories, very much in the style of Don Quixote or a cossack.
It is curious to observe how very little accommodation is necessary to seeure the comfort of a native in these happy climes; while Europeans are expiring with heat, the enjoyment of the Indian is unalloyed; he lives in the open air, cooks his simple meal of pulse and vegetables under a tree, and sleeps in a hut of straw scarcely large enough to contain his body. The pedestrian frequently comes upon one of these wigwams, for they are nothing more, and they seem to be favourite abodes, since gardeners in European families,
, who might be much better lodged, are fond of making a lair for themselves in some sequestered spot in the scene of their daily labours. A few branches are wattled together over-head, a screen of reeds placed in the direction of the wind, the earth is swept scrupulously clean, and the bed, a simple frame-work of bamboo laced together in a very ingenious manner with cord, does not look uninviting. If the heat of the day could be borne with impunity, this kind of sylvan life, realizing the romantic notions of early youth, the forest wanderings so often indulged in fancy, would be very delightful, especially where rich and nutritious fruits, some produced without cultivation and others by the lightest labour, hang temptingly within reach.
Night, always beautiful in India, assumes a still more lovely aspect when it spreads its soft veil over the voyagers on a river; the stars, which
come shining forth along the deep blue sky, inlay the waters beneath with glittering ingots; the flowers give out their most delicious odours, and rock and tree, but and temple, are invested with a double charm. Sleep does not often deign to light upon the lids of those who voyage up the river in a budgerow. The roof is crowded with two-legged and four-footed animals, whose stamping, barking, snoring, and coughing, continue without intermission through the night. The nasal power of the natives is very extraordinary: a story is related of an officer, who, irritated to madness by the midnight serenades of his hard-breathing brethren, rushed in his robe de chambre, sword in hand, to the deck, and scattered the party by forcing them to betake to the water to avoid his murderous weapon.
But though these enemies of repose were put to flight, others equally formidable remained; troops of jackalls approach to the river's brink and pierce the air with their yells, which continue untillong after midnight; doleful birds utter strange and savage cries, which come in startling loudness on the ear.
The scrambling of rats up the venetians, which they use as ladders, and their races over the bed, if not provided with musquito-curtains, though not so uproarious, do not less effectually disturb the slumbers, and the stings of insects, which even the musquito-curtains fail to keep out, render the couch any thing but a place of rest. In fact, an eastern night is more pleasing to the eye than to the other senses, and as its enjoyments are-almost wholly confined to the open air, it is wonderful that Anglo-Indians have not adopted. the custom of sleeping through the day (which is comparatively quiet), in rooms cooled and darkened, and employing the less sultry but more noisy hours of the night, in the pursuit of business or amusement.
Hitherto, we have only contemplated the Ganges under its most favourable aspect; there is, unfortunately, a reverse to the picture. One of the least misfortunes, which the navigators may be doomed to suffer, is that of sticking on a sand-bank in the centre of the stream; when rain is added to the disaster, the day thus spent is dreary indeed, as there is nothing except the venetians to keep out the pelting of the pitiless storm; and as these blinds, though shutting tolerably closely, present numerous crevices, the weather side of the cabin cannot by any possibility be kept dry. The cook-boat is probably in the same predicament, but at too great a distance to render the khansemah's toils available, consequently the party must be content to relinquish the hopes of a repast, to which the writer recollects having looked for with great relish, in consequence of a scanty tiffin. As misfortunes come in troops there may be (for painful experience has suggested the possibility) no charcoal on board, and the tea and coffee must depend upon the chance of procuring wood from the boatmen, who seldoın lay in much stock, unless they happen to have stolen in the course of a day's tracking more than has sufficed for the day's consumption. Those who contemplate a voyage will do well to remember always to have one goat at least on board, a handsome supply of charcoal, and no lack of flour, for upon these things the comfort of a party will often depend. The poor starving crew are objects of great pity; it is not until they have been working hard for hours, nearly up to their necks in water, that they aban
don the vain endeavour to get the boat off'; they are thoroughly wet, and have still less means of satisfying their hunger than the passenger, the religion of the greater part not permitting them to prepare their meals on board. Few, in these extreme cases, refuse a little brandy, under the name of medicine, which, as they object to drink out of a glass which has been used by an European, is poured into the palms of their hands. The rain, though disagreeable, offers the prospect of a speedier release than would be effected without the change it produces in the height of the river. The stream, swollen by torrents, floats the vessel, and, proceeding on her course, the sand-bank is left behind. The faithful domestics in the cooking-boat make incredible efforts to supply their employers with a meal which shall banish the remembrance of the late fast : the instant they espy their master's vessel, they strive, by all sorts of contrivances, to gain it; should the place which they have reached be too shallow for sailing, they will wade for nearly a mile with the dishes held above their heads; and never can that duck be forgotten, which, destined to figure as the principal roast at a table curtailed of its animal viands by a tedious progress from the last bazaar, was considerately hashed the next day by the presiding genius of the kitchen, and made its appearance hot after a long abstinence from the good things of this world.
The occurrence of those squalls, denominated north-westers, forms another serious drawback to the pleasures of river navigation; they come on so suddenly, and with so little previous intimation, that if many boats should be assembled together, it is seldom that they sweep across the broad estuaries formed by the Ganges during the floods, without bringing death in their train. On one memorable day, when the whole surface of the sparkling waters was covered with budgerows and country craft, which had put out with a favourable breeze from Monghyr, and had rounded the projecting walls of its fortress in safety, these summer barks were surprised by a tornado; the sky was obscured, the whole surface of the water became-dark and troubled, the vessels, tossed to and fro upon the rushing waves, rocked and reeled, but the danger was only momentary; those who possessed expert navigators pulled down their sails and ran under the shore, while others, less fortunate, left to the mercy of the winds, were driven at random into the whirlpool; some were swamped and others were seen carried down by the current, the thatched awning or chopper, as it is called, of the patlalahs being only visible (the crews clinging to the top) above the water. The storm passing away as quickly as it had approached, the river subsided with equal rapidity ; but no fleet was now visible, it had been dispersed in all directions, and the ravages of this brief hurricane were made known by masts, rudders, and the more ghastly forms of drowned men, floating down the stream. These traces of the late fearful turbulence speedily vanished; vessels, which had escaped the danger, hoisted their sails to gentle zephyrs, which wafted them over seas of glass scarcely agitated by the slightest ruffle. The sudden changes of the wind, which take place during the rainy season, are still more dangerous when a gale has been blowing steadily for several days up the river, forcing the waters back; should it
veer round in a moment, which too frequently happens, the chained billows break loose, rising to a mountainous height; wave follows upon wave, each more tremendous than the last ; the Ganges assumes the appearance of a mighty ocean lashed into fury by the winds of a thousand caves ; whole vil. Jages are overwhelmed; lofty cliffs, undermined by the swelling surges, fall in with horrid crashes, and the scene of devastation produced by this wild warfare of the elements is beyond description frightful. Often, when moored during the heavy gales to the shore, the boats pull against the ropes, which are fastened to stakes fixed into the ground, in the most alarming manner; should the cables give way, destruction is almost certain ; away go the vessels (sometimes upset in the melée) into the middle of the stream; darkness increases the danger, and the greater part of those who are not so fortunate as to reach the shore on the first alarm must inevitably perish. «
Another disagreeable but not dangerous casualty, which sometimes occurs in proceeding up the river, is the detention from contrary winds in some place, where a bluff promontory, rising perpendicularly from the water, will not admit of a towing-path. There is no alternative but to await a change of weather; oars and sweeps are alike useless in contending against the force of the current; and light boats, manned by four and twenty stout rowers, are baffled and driven back in attempting to stem the tide, which comes rushing round a protruding point. The influx of waters at Buxar is tremendous; even the propelling power of steam seems to be set at nought by the giant strength of the Ganges when putting forth all its energies. At Jungheera, a bold and picturesque rock rising from the centre of the river, the current seems to concentrate its power, darting like an arrow from a bow, and driving onwards with the impetuosity of a race-horse; boats are engulphed in the fearful vortex formed by the raging waters, and when the river is full, it is only a strong wind which can enable vessels to struggle successfully against the overpowering vehemence of the torrent. It requires no inconsiderable share of patience to endure the annoyance of being wind-bound, especially when this circumstance occurs at such a place as Peer Pointee, which, though favoured by nature with very picturesque scenery, is peculiarly destitute of the means of supporting life. The frugal Hindoos, inhabitants of the districts at the foot of the Rajmahl Hills, have little to offer beyond rice and vegetables; fowls are to them objects of veneration, and there is difficulty in procuring a few eggs from persons who are content to live entirely without animal food. Sportsmen may recruit the larder with game, though at a season in which the waters are out in every direction, and the tanks and jheels are the haunts of alligators, it is by no means desirable to roam the jungles in search of a dinner.
A ten days' sojourn at Peer Pointee sufficed to give the writer a thorough acquaintance with all the delectabilities of being stationary at an obscure village on the banks of the Ganges. The scenery was beautiful, and the legends connected with the Moosulmanee tombs erected on the summits of the neighbouring eminences, were sufficiently romántic to interest travellers delighting in such lore. The early history of the saintly soldiers, who propagated the creed of their prophet with fire and sword through the uttermost
parts of Bengal, has been obscured by the various revolutions which succeeded the triumphs of the Moghuls under their ancient leaders. We learn the names of few of those tenants of the grave, whose mausoleums alone remain to shew the extent of their conquests; their proselytes have relapsed into idolatry, and the care of those stately tombs, which have survived the lapse of years, has been left to a miserable remnant of the faithful, vagrant faqueers, who prosess to divide their guardianship with that of tigers, which, according to their account, every Thursday night, stand sentinel over the remains of the mighty dead. The monuments at Sicligully and the neighbouring hills have a fort-like appearance; they are surrounded by bastioned walls, and arise on spots cleared of wood on the summits of these eminences; they command fine prospects, and form of themselves no small addition to the grandeur and interest of the scene. Objects of veneration to all the followers of Mohammed, wandering pilgrims from the remote parts of Hindoostan toil their painful way to perform their orisons at these sacred spots; but the devotees are too poor to keep up the ceremonials usually observed at the tombs of great men; lamps, which in the upper provinces burn upon the last resting places of the humblest servants of the prophet, have long ceased to stream their beacon lights from these solitudes; yet the care with which all that could litter or pollute the sacred precincts is continually removed, shews that some pious though humble hand assists the savage genii of the scene, whose office in Bengal seems to be limited to the security of the dead from intrusion. At Secundermallee, in the Carnatie, the royal animal is said to shew still greater veneration for the mouldering remains of the conquerors of the world. The natives of India rejoice in the supposition that they are possessed of the body of Alexander the Great, whose tomb on the top of a mountain is reported to be regularly swept by tigers with their tails.
During the continuance of storms, which at some periods, more especially the breaking-up of the rains, last for several days, boats are fain to seek the shelter of some friendly creek, there to await the return of more favourable weather. The patience of the natives in these predicaments is inexhaustible; they, it is true, have more resources at hand than the unfortunate Europeans, who see no prospect of procuring fresh supplies; the bazaar, though it may be of the meanest description, furnishes them with food and gossip. To lounge in the corners of the market-places, discussing the prices of grain and ghee, seems to be the acmé of felicity to an Indian. It is quite as easy to persuade the boat’s-crew of a man of war to quit the delights of the tap-room, as to induce the people belonging to a budgerow to leave the scene of their greatest enjoyment. Often, when a favourable wind springs up, a delay of several hours takes place before the servants and boatmen can be collected together. To impetuous dispositions it is exceedingly irritating to see how imperturbably calm they will sit, perched upon the driest bits of ground, smoking their hubble-bubbles, or discoursing upon some such interesting topic as that before-mentioned, while the halfdistracted European, their master, is fretting and chafing at the inexorable elements. Should this fiery temperament be too frequently permitted to