But it is time to take leave of this interesting country, with its snowy mountains and sunny valleys—its ignorant people and enlightened Minister—its bloodstained past and hopeful future. I had already mentally whispered my adieu, as, riding behind my companion on the rawboned pony, I crossed the boundary stream; and pleased and interested as we had been with our short stay in Nepaul, still we could not help regretting that it had not fallen to our lot to discover new wonders—to encamp on the shores of the great lake situated in the distant province of Malebum, the existence of which was vaguely hinted at by my friend Colonel Dhere Shum Shere—to explore unvisited mountains, and to luxuriate in the magnificent scenery which they must contain; the enjoyment heightened by the feeling that we were the first Europeans who had penetrated their inhospitable recesses.
Journey to Lucknow—Nocturnal disasters—View of the Himalayas—Wild-beast fights—Banquet given by the King of Oudh—Grand display of fireworks—Our return to cantonments.
Unquestionably the pleasures of travelling cannot be said to be altogether unalloyed—a consideration which the journey from Segowly to Lucknow irresistibly forced upon our minds, how determined soever we might be to adhere to the traveller’s first principle of making the best of everything. We left the station about dusk, upon a night in which the elements seemed to have combined to cause us as much discomfort as possible, and the violence of the storm about midnight compelled us to take shelter in every tope of trees we came to, or, as it appeared to me, wherever the bearers thought we stood a good chance of being struck by the lightning which was vividly flashing in most unpleasant proximity. The deluge of rain soon made the path so slippery that our progress was much retarded, which would not have signified had it not happened that every now and then my slumbers were most disagreeably disturbed by a crash which flattened my nose against the side of the palanquin, or produced a violent shock to every part of my body, the effect of a slip of some unhappy bearer who was himself on the broad of his back, and had brought down the palanquin, bearers and all, in his tumble.
This occurred to me no less than five times in one night, and the consequence was that my palanquin was in even a worse condition than my body; it did not possess a single uncracked panel, nor were there any means of keeping the doors in, far less closed, and the cooling influence of the rain which pelted upon me was only counteracted by the feverish anxiety I experienced from the momentary expectation of feeling the bottom give way, which would have inevitably landed me in the mud in a most deplorable condition—as had been the case with every book or other loose article about me.