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- Diary of a Pedestrian in Cashmere and Thibet - 4/42 -
endurance was, under the circumstances quite as worthy of praise as the more active virtues displayed by those who were the cause of our sufferings. After the first good breakfast I had eaten for three months, we pulled up arrears of sleep till four P.M. and found, on awaking, that our much expected letters had arrived from the post, and among them the necessary permission from the Punjab Government to travel in Cashmere, and instructions for our guidance while in the territory. From among the routes laid down in the latter we chose No. 1. The direct line across the mountains from Simla would have entailed additional delay and permission, and as time was precious we decided upon descending again to the plains and making our way through Lahore, not, however, without a severe pang at leaving so soon the terrestrial paradise of which we had got a glimpse. After arranging our movements with the "authorities," we sallied out to see fashionable Simla airing itself, which, as far as dress is concerned, it appeared to do very much in the fashionable watering-place style at home. The jhampans, palkies, dandies, &c. which took up the entire road, however, loudly proclaimed India, Simla being much too dainty to touch the ground with its pretty feet, and too lazy to use its own legs for purposes of out-door locomotion. The station seems a curious combination of many styles and places; the scenery and houses, Swiss; the people Anglo Indians, Affghans, Cashmeeries, &c.; the conveyances, Inquisito-Spanish; and the bazaars, in their native dirt, pure Indian.
MAY 31. -- After making our leave secure, we made up our minds for a plunge into the plains again and a forced march to Lahore, being rather expedited in the determination by hearing that several travellers had been recalled from leave in consequence of there being a scarcity of officers with their regiments.
With a fine moonlight night in our favour we again took the road; and practice slightly assuaging our sufferings, we got on smoothly enough till within a few hours from Hureepore Bungalow, when my machine again broke with a crash, and the nature of the fracture being compound, I walked on and left the executioners to repair the instrument at their leisure.
JUNE 1. -- Reached Hureepore at four A.M., and found the place in possession of a crowd of monkeys of all sorts and sizes, taking an early breakfast. Here, chicken and eggs being again written in our destiny, we halted for an hour or two, and at eleven again took the road with our cast-iron bearers, and hurried along in the noonday sun, up hill and down dale, through Kussowlie, and on and on till we were once more fairly deposited at the feet of "Mrs. Charybdis." A slight dinner here, and at 8.30 P.M. we were again in train, shuffling along through several feet of dust, which the bearers, and torch-carriers, and the rest of our numerous train, kicked up about us, in clouds nearly dense enough to cause suffocation.
JUNE 2. -- At 8.30 A.M. we arrived again at Umballa, and with nothing to comfort us in our dusty and worried condition but the reflection that our start from Simla was a magnificent triumph of stern determination over present enjoyment and unwonted luxury, we again resumed our forced march. At six P.M. we took our departure, in a very magnificent coach, but in an "unpropitious moment," for the horse was unusually averse to an advance of any sort, and when we did get clear of the station his opinions were borne out by a terrific storm of dust, with a thunder, lightning, and rain accompaniment, which effectually put a stop to all further progress. The horse for once had his wish, and was brought to a regular stand. The wind howled about us, and the dusty atmosphere assumed a dull red appearance, such as I had only once before seen at Cawnpore, and the like of which might possibly have prevailed during the last days of Pompeii. After getting through the worst of the storm, we pushed along, and had reached the twentieth mile-stone, when, catching a flavour of burning wood, I looked out and found the wheel at an angle of some 30 degrees, and rubbing against the side preparatory to taking its leave altogether. Here was another effect of starting in an unpropitious moment. The interruption in the great forced march preyed heavily upon our minds, but, on the principle of doing as "Rome does," we took a lesson from the religion of "Islam," and concurring in the views expressed by our attendant blacks, viz. that "whatever is written in a man's destiny that will be accomplished," we ejaculated "Kismut" with the rest, and resignedly adapted ourselves to the writings in our own particular page of fate. Having sent back to Umballa the news of our distress, a new conveyance in a few hours made its appearance; and hauling it alongside the wreck, we unshipped the stores, reloaded, and eventually reached "Thikanmajura" at eight A.M.
JUNE 3. -- Starting at about three o'clock P.M., we found the unpropitious moment still hanging over us: first a violent dust-storm, and then a refractory horse, which bolted completely off the road, and nearly upset us down a steep bank, proved to demonstration that our star was still obscured.
About midnight we reached the river "Sutlej," and exchanged our horse for four fat and humpy bullocks, who managed, with very great labour and difficulty, to drag us through the heavy sands of the river-bed down to the edge of the water. Here we were shipped on board a flat-bottomed boat, with a high peaked bow; and, after an immensity of hauling and grunting, we were fairly launched into the stream, and poled across to the opposite shore. The water appeared quite shallow, and the coolies were most of the time in the water; but its width, including the sands forming its bed, could not have been less than two miles and a half. It was altogether a wild and dreary-looking scene, as we paddled along -- the wild ducks and jackals, &c. keeping up a concert on their own account, and the patient old bullocks ruminating quietly on their prospects at our feet.
On arriving at what appeared to be the opposite bank, we were taken out, and again pulled and hauled through the deep sand, only to be reshipped again on what seemed a respectable river in its own right; and here, getting out of patience with a stream that had no opposite bank, I fell asleep, and left the bullocks to their sorrows and their destiny.
JUNE 4. -- Arrived at Jullundur, where we had to share the bungalow with another traveller and a rising family, who kept us alive by howling vigorously all day. The road from this being "Kucha," literally UNCOOKED, but here meant to express "unmetalled," we had yet another form of conveyance to make acquaintance with. It was a palkee, rudely strapped upon the body of a worn-out "Dak garee;" and although a more unpromising-looking locomotive perhaps never was placed upon wheels, the actual reality proved even worse than the appearance foreboded.
Anybody who has happened to have been run away with in a dust-cart through Fenchurch Street, or some other London pavement, the gas pipes being up at the time, might form some idea of our sensations as we pounded along, at full gallop, over some thirty miles of uneven, UNCOOKED road; but to anybody who has not had this advantage, description would be impossible. About half way, it appeared that it was written in my miserable destiny that the off fore-wheel of my shay was to come off, and off it came accordingly; so that once more I became an involuntary disciple of Islam, and went to sleep among the ruins, with rather a feeling of gratitude for the respite than otherwise. On awaking, I found myself again under way; and effecting a junction with my companion, we had a light supper off half a water-melon; and, after crossing the River Beas by a bridge of boats, and being lugged through another waste of sand by bullocks, we once again reached a "cooked" road, and arrived at "Umritsur" at six A.M.
JUNE 5. -- Found the heat so great here that we were unable to stir out.
As a consolation, we received a visit from four "Sikh Padres," who rushed in and squatted themselves down without ceremony, previously placing a small ball of candied sugar on the table as a votive and suggestive offering. The spokesman, a lively little rascal, with a black beard tied up under his red turban, immediately opened fire, by hurling at us all the names of all the officers he had ever met or read of. The volley was in this style: First, the number of the regiment, then Brown Sahib, Jones Sahib, Robinson Sahib, Smith Sahib, Tomkins Sahib, Green Sahib, and so on, regiment after regiment and name after name, his brother Padres occasionally chiming in in corroboration of their friend's veracity and in admiration of his vast stock of military information. After much trouble, we got rid of the pack, at the price of one rupee, which was cheap for the amount of relief afforded by their departure.
JUNE 6. -- Reached Lahore at ten P.M. and had a night in bed, for the third time only since leaving Cawnpore. The Q.M.G. being at once set to work to make the necessary arrangements for our final start for Cashmere, we paid a hurried visit to the Tomb of Runjeet Singh and the Fort and City of Lahore. These were worth seeing, but they abounded in sights and perfumes, which rendered the operation rather a trying one, considering the very high temperature of the weather.
JUNE 7. -- Drove out in a dilapidated buggy, and with an incorrigible horse, to Mean Meer, the cantonments of Lahore. The place looked burnt up and glaring like its fellows, and a fierce hot wind swept over it, which made us glad enough to turn our backs on it and hurry home again as fast as our obstinate animal would take us. The Q.M.G., we found, had collected our staff of servants together, and was otherwise pushing on our preparations as fast as the dignity and importance of the undertaking would admit.
The staff consisted of khidmutgar, bawurchie, bhistie, dhobie, and mihtar; or, in plain English, butler, cook, water-carrier, washerman, and sweeper.
Of these, the washing department only brought with it its insignia and badge of office. This was an enormous smoothing-iron, highly ornamented with brass, decorated with Gothic apertures, and made to contain an amount of charcoal that would have kept an entire family warm in the coldest depths of winter. Being of great weight, we rather objected to such an addition to our stores -- the more so as our linen was not likely to require much GETTING-UP. The DHOBIE, however, declared himself unable to get on without it, and it accordingly had to be engaged with its master.
JUNE 8. -- To-day Rajoo is still hard at work laying in stores from the bazaars and arranging means of transport for them; the weather hot beyond measure; and as neither our food nor quarters are very good, we begin to forget our lessons of resignation, more especially as the mosquitoes begin to form a very aggravating item in our destiny.
JUNE 9. -- About four P.M. the Q.M.G. came in triumphantly with about sixteen tall baskets covered with leather, which he called "khiltas;" and having ranged them about the room like the oil-jars of "Ali Baba," he proceeded to cram them with potatoes, tea, clothes, brandy, and the whole stock of our earthly goods, in a marvellous and miscellaneous manner, very trying to contemplate, and suggestive of their entire separation from us and our heirs for ever.
Coolies not being procurable in sufficient numbers to carry away all our stores together, F. and I agreed to start in the morning, leaving the head of affairs with the rearguard to follow at his leisure. Got away at last in two "palkees," with four "banghy wallahs," or baggage-bearers, carrying our immediate possessions, guns, &c. Spent the night wretchedly enough, the roads being of the
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