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.
of cheer even in the cheeling of the kites where they sat huddled on the roof-cornices or circled against the high blue sky.  It was enjoyable to be abroad, in the brushing fellowship of the pavements, in touch with brown humility half-clad and going afoot, since even brown humility seemed well affected toward the world, alert and content.  The air was full of the comfortable flavour of food-stuffs and spiced luxuries, and the incense of wayside trees; it was as if the sun laid a bland compelling hand upon the city, bidding strange flowers bloom and strange fruits increase.  Brokers’ gharries rattled past, each holding a pale young man preoccupied with a notebook; where the bullock-carts gathered themselves together and blocked the road the pale young men put excited heads out of the gharry windows and used remarkable imprecations.  One of them, as Hilda turned into the compound of the Calcutta Chronicle, leaned out to take off his hat, and sent her up to the office of that journal in the pleasant reflection of his infinite interest in life.  “Upon my word,” she said to herself as she ascended the stairs behind the lean legs of a Mussulman servant in a dirty shirt and an embroidered cap, “he’s so lighthearted, so genial, that one doubts the very tremendous effect even of a failure like the one he contemplates.”

She sent her card in to the manager-sahib by the lean Mussulman, and followed it past the desks of two or three Bengali clerks, who hardly lifted their well-oiled heads from their account-books to look at her—­so many mem sahibs to whose enterprises the Chronicle gave prominence came to see the manager-sahib, and they were so much alike.  At all events they carried a passport to indifference in the fact that they all wanted something, and it was clear to the meanest intelligence that they appeared to be more magnificent than they were, visions in dazzling complexions and long kid gloves, rattling up in third-class ticca-gharries, with a wisp of fodder clinging to their skirts.  It was less interesting still when they belonged to the other class, the shabby ladies, nearly always in black, with husbands in the Small Cause Court, or sons before the police magistrate, who came to get it, if possible, “kept out of the paper.”  Successful or not these always wept on their way out, and nothing could be more depressing.  The only gleam of entertainment to be got out of a lady visitor to the manager-sahib occurred when the female form enshrined the majestic personality of a boarding-house madam, whose asylum for respectable young men in leading Calcutta firms had been maliciously traduced in the local columns of the Chronicle—­a lady who had never known what a bailiff looked like in the lifetime of her first husband, or her second either.  Then at the sound of a pudgy blow upon a table, or high abusive accents in the rapid elaborate cadences of the domiciled East Indian tongue, Hari Babu would glance at Gobind Babu with a careful smile, for the manager-sahib who dispensed so much galli* was now receiving the same, and defenceless.

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