I shall have to stop writing, though lecturing you is a fascinating pastime, for the day is almost done, and Boggley will soon be home.
Autolycus, looking very worried, is busied with the task of preparing the evening meal. One of the chuprassis, his gaudy uniform laid aside, and clad in a fragment of cotton, is sluicing himself with water and praying audibly. The dhobi is beating our clothes white on stones in the tank. In the village the women are grinding corn; the oxen are drawing water from the well. The wood-smoke hangs in wisps on the hot air, and the song of the boys bringing home the cattle comes to me distinctly in the stillness. The sunset colours are fading into the deep blue of the Indian night, and the faithful are being called to prayer.
At home they are burning the whins on the hillsides, and the Loch o’ the Lowes lies steel-grey under the March sky.
THE LAND OF REGRETS
Calcutta, April 1 (Monday).
... The flesh-pots of Calcutta are wonderfully pleasant after jungly fare, and there is something rather nice about a big airy bedroom with a bathroom to correspond, hot water at will, and an ayah to look after one’s clothes, after the cramped space of a tent, a zinc bath wiggling on an uneven floor, and Autolycus fumbling vaguely among one’s belongings. I am staying with G. in her sister’s, Mrs. Townley’s, very charming house. Boggley had to go off at once on another short tour, and I was only too pleased to come to this most comfortable habitation. It is nice to be with G. again, and she has lots to tell me about her doings—dances, garden-parties, picnics—all of which she has enjoyed thoroughly. All the same, I would rather have had my jungle experiences. She and her sister and brother-in-law laugh greatly at my tales. They regard me as an immense joke, I don’t know why. I think myself I am rather a sensible, serious sort of person.
Mrs. Townley is the kindest woman. She has such a delightful way of making you feel that you are doing her the greatest favour by accepting her hospitality. I am not the only guest. A member of a nursing sisterhood—Sister Anna Margaret—is resting here for a few days. She wears clothes quite like a nun, but she is the cheeriest soul, with such contented eyes. She might be a girl, from the interest she takes in our doings and the way she laughs at our well-meant but not very witty fun.
Calcutta is very hot. The punkahs go all day—not the flapping kind of Mofussil punkahs, but things like bits of windmills fastened to poles. I never like to sit or sleep exactly underneath one, they look so insecure; besides, they make one so untidy. At a dinner-party it is really dreadful to have the things flap-flapping above one’s carefully done hair. My hair needs no encouragement to get untidy, and I have quite an Ophelia-like air before we get