告别“万能章” 为基层减负增效

The attendants threw water on the pauper's pyre, and then with their long bamboos pushed the mass of burnt wood and flesh into the Ganges, where it looked like some enormous black frog with a white patch for the head.

Pilgrims crowd the courts and the temples. All, when they speak, hold a hand or a corner of their[Pg 76] robe before their lips to avoid swallowing the tiniest insect, which would avert the favour of the gods. They bring offerings of rice or gram in little bags of faded silk, pale pink, or green, and gold thread; the poorest have bags of red and white beads.

The song of birds in the mitigated atmosphere of the dying day came in from outside, for a moment almost drowning the pleader's weariful tones as he poured forth his statement, emphasized by sweeping gestures.

I proposed to go in without the soldiers. Impossible, it was not etiquette! I was the Rajah's guest. The Prince of Morvi and I could not mingle with the crowd, our escort was necessary to isolate us. Well, then, the soldiers must take off their shoes, and leave their belts and guns at the door! Again impossible. Where would the prestige of the uniform be? In the afternoon the soldiers tilted on horseback, four on a side. They tried to unhorse each other; two or three would attack one, succeeding at last in rolling him off under his charger, while they in their turn were attacked by others, ending in a mle, where the victors and the vanquished left fragments of their thin shirts.

Then starting to his feet, and stretching out his arm to point at me, he poured forth invective in sharp, rapid speech. The words flowed without pause: We could see the procession coming straight up a hollow ravine from the valley to the Dokma, a path that none but Parsees are allowed to tread;[Pg 31] eight bearers in white, the bier also covered with white, and, far behind, the relations and friends of the dead, all robed in white, two and two, each pair holding between them a square of white stuff in sign of union. They came very slowly up the steps of the steep ascent with a measured chant, in muffled tones, on long-drawn vowels. And from the surrounding trees, from far and near, with a great flutter of wings, the vultures flew to meet the corpse, darkening the sky for a moment.

Inside the building, under a silken Persian rug, stretched like an awning, there were piles of coin on a cloth spread on the ground, with flowers, rice, and sweetmeats offered there. In a recess was a band of musicianstom-toms and fiddlesscarcely audible in the turmoil of shouted prayers and the chatter of the faithful.

Further yet lay the artificial lake of Meer Alam, reflecting the palace of Baradari and the russet plain, infinite as far as the eye could reach towards the north, where other superb mausoleums were visible in their whiteness.

A salesman of whom I had bought several things, wishing to do me a civility, called a tom-tom player, who was to escort me home rapping on his ass's[Pg 215] skin; and when I declined very positively, the poor man murmured with a piteous, crushed look:

At the end of the garden, in a little temple, is a statue of the holy man of the size of life, in his favourite attitude, sitting on his crossed legs. Round the image were the most absurd toysand a photograph of the German Emperor! As I was leaving, the fakir called me back, asked me to think of him sometimes, and gave me one of the splendid yellow roses that hung about him like a glory.

Near the statues, which are placed in a row close to the wall, other statues, finer, slenderer, and more graceful, stood before the pedestals, anointing the stone with some oil which in time soaks in and blackens it, or else hanging lanterns up over the divinities. These were the temple servants, wearing nothing but the langouti tied round their loins; they either shuffle about barefoot, or remain motionless in rapt ecstasy before the little niches where the idols grin or scowl among branches of roses and amaryllis.