The Path of a Star eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 334 pages of information about The Path of a Star.

“Oh, you mustn’t depend on me,” she said.  “But why are you going?  Don’t go.  Stay and have another cup of tea.”


The fact that Stephen Arnold and Duff Lindsay had spent the same terms at New College, and now found themselves again together in the social poverty of the Indian capital, would not necessarily explain their walking in company through the early dusk of a December evening in Bentinck Street.  It seems desirable to supply a reason why anyone should be walking there, to begin with, anyone, at all events, not a Chinaman, or a coolie, a dealer in second-hand furniture, or an able-bodied seaman luxuriously fingering wages in both trouser pockets, and describing an erratic line of doubtful temper toward the nearest glass of country spirits.  Or, to be quite comprehensive, a draggled person with a Bulgarian, a Levantine, or a Japanese smile, who no longer possessed a carriage, to whom the able-bodied seaman represented the whole port.  The cramped twisting thoroughfare was full of people like this; they overflowed from the single narrow border of pavement to the left, and walked indifferently upon the road among the straw-scatterings and the dung-droppings; and when the tramcar swept through and past with prodigious whistlings and ringings, they swerved as little as possible aside.  Three parts of the tide of them were neither white nor black, but many shades of brown, written down in the census as “of mixed Mood,” and wearing still, through the degenerating centuries, an eyebrow, a nostril of the first Englishmen who came to conjugal ties of Hindustan.  The place sent up to the stars a vast noise of argument and anger and laughter, of the rattling of hoofs and wheels; but the babel was ordered in its exaggeration, the red turban of a policeman here and there denoted little more than a unit in the crowd.  There were gas-lamps, and they sent a ripple of light like a sword-thrust along the gutter beside the banquette, where a pariah dog nosed a dead rat and was silhouetted.  They picked out, too, the occasional pair of Corinthian columns, built into the squalid stucco sheer with the road that made history for Bentinck Street, and explained that whatever might be the present colour of the little squat houses and the tall lean ones that loafed together into the fog round the first bend, they were once agreeably pink and yellow, with the magenta cornice, the blue capital, that fancy dictated.  There where the way narrowed with an out-jutting balcony high up, and the fog thickened and the lights grew vague, the multitude of heads passed into the blur beyond with an effect of mystery, pictorial, remote; but where Arnold and Lindsay walked the squalor was warm, human, practical.  A torch flamed this way and that, stuck in the wall over the head of a squatting bundle and his tray of three-cornered leaf-parcels of betel, and an oiled rag in a tin pot sent up an unsteady little flame, blue and yellow,

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The Path of a Star from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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