“The idols in the temple are hideous-looking objects, with enormous eyes and crescent-shaped mouths, the horns pointing upwards. But they are very richly ornamented; for the idol has an income of over L30,000 from lands and religious houses. It used to be currently reported and believed that fanatical, crazy devotees cast themselves under the wheels of the car, and were crushed to death, immolating themselves as an offering to the god. But these statements have been strictly investigated, and branded as the calumnies of English writers. Two distinguished savants have declared that self-immolation is utterly contrary to the worship of Juggernaut, the very unusual deaths at the car-festival being almost invariably accidental.”
“It is a great pity that these horrible stories were ever poured into the minds of children, and I am thankful that the libraries contain nothing of the kind now,” added Uncle Moses.
The company breakfasted with excellent appetites after the exercises of the morning; and then Lord Tremlyn conducted them to the large saloon where the Nautch had been given, and they were astonished to find that one end of it was occupied by no less than fourteen men, not one of whom was more than half clothed, though the tom-tom player had on a pair of short trousers. This fellow began to beat his instrument with frantic energy, moaning and howling at the same time as though he was in great agony.
“Oh, dear!” exclaimed Mrs. Belgrave, putting her fingers into her ears. “Can’t you stop that hideous noise, Sir Modava?”
“No more howling!” protested he in Hindu.
The chief juggler declared that they could not go on, and Uncle Moses suggested that they had to overwhelm the senses of the audience to enable the jugglers to deceive them. Their Hindu guide talked with them, and then ordered them to leave the hotel. The performers were not willing to forego the rich reward expected; and a compromise was effected by which the tom-tom was to be used, but the howling was to cease. Lord Tremlyn had announced the nature of the entertainment as they entered the apartment, and most of the tourists had heard of the wonderful skill of Indian jugglers.
A couple of the performers produced two swords twenty-six inches long, and pushed them down their throats to the hilt, and then asked Dr. Hawkes to feel the point in their stomachs. Another put a stone in his mouth, and then began to blow out smoke and a cloud of sparks from his nose as well as his mouth. Turning a somerset, he cast the stone on the floor. One took an iron hoop from a pile of them, and set it to spinning on a pole in the air. He continued to add others, one at a time, till he had eighteen of them whirling above his head.