Even more than the assembly of their relatives and friends, the prisoners at the bar maintained the impassive mien of men who attach no disgrace to a sentence pronounced by a conquering race; they would take the penalty without a murmur, as one of the inevitable incidents of this life, which to them is but a stage, a passage to a higher existence.
Cymbals and kettle-drums formed the orchestra, reinforced by the shrill cries and strident laughter of the spectators.
A humble poet, more venerated than the kings whose superb mausoleums are crumbling to dust in subjugated India, who, though she forgets her past, is still true to her dreams. At night, when the fog had at last cleared off, a column of fire was piled up on the engine; it shone[Pg 154] on the smooth trunks of the "flame of the forest," which looked like the pillars of a cathedral, on the sparkling water-springs all hung about with prayer-strips, on the veronica shrubs covered with flowers and as tall as trees, and the sheaves of bamboo and fern; or it lighted up the hanging screen of creepers, the impenetrable jungle growth that shut in the silence of the sleeping forest.
Then follow more trays with tufts of jasmine stuck into the heart of a pink rose; and as the guest takes one of these bouquets the servant sprinkles first the flowers and then him with rose-water. A tonga arrived just as we drove up, bringing an English official, travelling in his own carriage; gaiters, shooting jacket, a switch in his hand. He seated himself outside the bungalow in a cane chair, close by mine. Out of a case that was brought before him a hatchet and a pistol were unpacked, documentary evidence of the crime into which he was to inquire. When the gate to the platform was opened there was a stampede, a fearful rush to the train; then the cars, once filled, were immediately shut on the noisy glee of those who were going.