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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 268 pages of information about Across India.

Another set a lot of small swords circling in the air, till he had ten of them buzzing about his head.  At the same time a sleight-of-hand man was doing a variety of tricks very skilfully, and acrobats were mounting on each other’s shoulders, and pitching themselves about very promiscuously.  While the party were wondering at the skill of the performers, though many of them had seen most of the tricks at home, a boy about eight years old came into the room with a good-sized basket in his hands, which he placed on the floor as the men spread out into a semicircle.  The child stepped into the basket, which did not seem to be big enough to hold him, even when reduced to his smallest dimensions.

The drummer played a new tune, and sang in a low tone.  The boy seemed to have a fit, and writhed as though he were in convulsions, finally dropping down into the basket very slowly.  Mrs. Blossom was sure the basket was not big enough to contain him, and wondered what had become of him.  Then the performers threw themselves on the basket, closed the lid, and began to punch it in every direction with long and wicked-looking knives.  The ladies were appalled at the sight; but they were assured that it was all right.

The Hindus finally crushed down the basket till it was almost flat, and it did not look as though there was any space in it for a kitten, much less an eight-year-old boy.  Then the men formed a circle around the basket, and began a sort of chant.  Something like a voice seemed to be sounding in at the open windows.  It continued to come nearer, and at last appeared to proceed from the basket, which began to be distended, till it was restored to its full size.  Then the lid was removed, and the child sprang out, to the great relief of Mrs. Blossom.

Then one of the jugglers set a top to whirling, placed the point on the end of a stick, and balanced it on his nose.  So far it was no new thing; but one of the spectators was asked to say stop at any time he pleased.  Captain Ringgold gave this command; and when he did so, the top ceased to whirl, though, upsetting the bicycle theory, it kept its place on the stick.  “Go!” added the commander, prompted by Sir Modava; and the plaything began to whirl again, as though its gyrations had not been interrupted.  It was stopped and started again several times, till the spectators were satisfied.

The stick and the top were critically examined by the whole party, but not one of them could suggest an explanation of the trick.  The last two acts were the most surprising; and the rest of the performance, though skilfully done, did not amount to much.  His lordship gave the chief juggler a handful of silver, and they left the hotel with a profusion of salaams; for they did not often make in a month what they got for an hour, the Hindu gentleman said.

CHAPTER XXII

A MERE STATEMENT ABOUT BUDDHISM

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