Twenty-One Days in India; and, the Teapot Series eBook

George Robert Aberigh-Mackay
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 153 pages of information about Twenty-One Days in India; and, the Teapot Series.

The amiable chief in whose house I am staying to-day is exceedingly simple in his habits.  At an early hour he issues from the zenana and joins two or three of his thakores, or barons, who are on duty at Court, in the morning draught of opium.  They sit in a circle, and a servant in the centre goes round and pours the kasumbha[D] out of a brass bowl and through a woollen cloth into their hands, out of which they lap it up.  Then a cardamum to take away the acrid after-taste.  One hums drowsily two or three bars of an old-world song; another clears his throat and spits; the Chief yawns, and all snap their fingers, to prevent evil spirits skipping into his throat; a late riser joins the circle, and all, except the Chief, give him tazim—­that is, rise and salaam; a coarse jest or two, and the party disperses.  A crowd of servants swarm round the Chief as he shuffles slowly away.  Three or four mace-bearers walk in front shouting, “Raja, Maharaja salaamat ho; niga rakhiyo!” ("Please take notice; to the King, the great King, let there be salutation!”) A confidential servant continually leans forward and whispers in his ear; another remains close at hand with a silver tea-pot containing water and wrapped up in a wet cloth to keep it cool; a third constantly whisks a yak’s tail over the King’s head; a fourth carries my Lord’s sword; a fifth his handkerchief; and so on.  Where is he going?  He dawdles up a narrow staircase, through a dark corridor, down half-a-dozen steep steps, across a courtyard overgrown with weeds, up another staircase, along another passage, and so to a range of heavy quilted red screens that conceal doors leading into the female penetralia.  Here we must leave him.  Two servants disappear behind the parda with their master, the others promptly lie down where they are, draw the sheets or blankets which they have been wearing over their faces and feet, and sleep.  About noon we see the King again.  He is dressed in white flowing robes with a heavy carcanet of emeralds round his neck.  His red turban is tied with strings of seed pearls and set off with an aigrette springing from a diamond brooch.  He sits on the Royal mattress, the gaddi.[E] A big bolster covered with green velvet supports his back; his sword and shield are gracefully disposed before him.  At the corner of the gaddi sits a little representation of himself in miniature, complete even to the sword and shield.  This is his adopted son and heir.  For all the queens and all the grand duchesses are childless, and a little kinsman had to be transplanted from a mud village among the cornfields to this dreamland palace to perpetuate the line.  On the corners of the carpet on which the gaddi rests sit thakores of the Royal house, other thakores sit below, right and left, forming two parallel lines, dwindling into sardars, palace officers, and others of lower rank as they recede from the gaddi.  Behind the Chief stand the servants with the emblems of royalty—­the

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Twenty-One Days in India; and, the Teapot Series from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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