【图说】山西网上群众工作:有件必办  留言必回

Many hapless creatures here suffer from elephantiasis, and even quite little children are to be seen with an ankle stiffened, or perhaps both the joints ossified; and the whole limb will by-and-by be swollen by the disease, a monstrous mass dreadfully heavy to drag about. Other forms of lupus affect the face, and almost always, amid a crowd watching[Pg 138] some amusing performance, a head suddenly appears of ivory whiteness, the skin clinging to the bone or disfigured by bleeding sores. The bearer of Kali walked into the sacred river up to his knees, and then dropped the idol. The[Pg 143] Hindoos who had followed him fell prostrate in fervent prayer, hiding their face in their hands, and then flung after the goddess, now lost in the waters, all the baskets, jars, and flowers, to be carried down the stream. For a moment the silver paper crown which had floated up spun on the water that was spangled by the moon, and then it sank in an eddy.

In one tent there was a display of innumerable gilt images, very suggestive of Jesuit influencemincing, chubby angels, martyrs carrying palm-branches, and ecstatic virgins with clasped hands, all serving to decorate the shrine in which the god was to be carried back to the temple. Coloured fires lighted the workmen, and in the background the temple was darkly visible, with only a few dim lamps shrouded in incense, and burning before Rama, whose festival was being kept.

The Prince of Morvi came before sunrise to take us to the temples of Satrunji. On the way we outstripped carts packed full of women and children in light shimmering muslins. They were all making a pilgrimage to the sacred hill, singing shrill chants in time to the jolting of their springless vehicles,[Pg 70] and broken by oaths and imprecations at the stoppages occasioned by our expedition. Evening fell, purple and orange tinging the princes' muslins to delicate hues; then very quickly all was dark. Deep melancholy came over us; we all sat without speaking a word, while from afar came the clatter of tom-toms from the temple, sometimes drowning the music, which droned on in a minor key, a maundering strain without a close but constantly repeating itself.

All the guests press forward, ceasing their conversation, which has sometimes drowned the voice of the dastour, to ask which of the two threw the rice firsta very important question it would seem.

Our boat stole slowly past the palaces, where there were no lights, through the haze rising from the river, and all things assumed a dissolving appearance as though they were about to vanish; all was shrouded and dim with mystery. "I shall pay as much as I can myself, and by-and-by my son will earn money, and we shall pay between us."