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Life in the East is altogether so novel, so full of dramatic sights and sounds, that one's curiosity seems to grow with the abundant nourishment it finds everywhere. Now one sees a Mohammedan funeral, or the procession of gorgeous Taboots of Moslems, or gods of the Hindoos; anon the body of a Hindoo or a Parsee borne on an open bier by white-robed priests, the one to be burned, the other to be abandoned to birds of prey in their strange silent "towers of the dead." Sometimes a gay procession of dancing-girls, followed by troops of men and elephants richly caparisoned, waltzing all the way to the temple and keeping time to the pipes, cymbals, and the beating of most discordant drums; at others, a poor funeral of some low-caste person, quiet and unpretending—an open bier, on it perhaps an only child in its every-day soiled garments, followed by women wailing and beating their breasts and throwing dust on their heads. This wailing is inexpressibly mournful. One morning, as I sat at work in my room, there came floating upon the breeze toward the "Aviary" a sharp, penetrating, and very peculiar cry. While I listened there came another and another of these unearthly sounds; again they were repeated, and all at once there appeared in sight a band of half-naked men accompanied by two women and a perfectly nude little child—all so strange and weird-looking that I almost felt the victim of some illusion. They were a band of sampwallahs, or serpent-charmers, and in rather a bewildered state of mind I watched the gang approach the front of the house and take their places around the doorsteps. Having deposited their bags and baskets, they proceeded to salââm before me. I could not summon resolution to send them away, as my curiosity was gradually getting better of my fears, nor could I bring myself to witness their performance in the absence of my husband. I therefore sent a message to the one who seemed the headman of the band by my "ayah," or maid, to inquire if they would not go away now and return in the afternoon about four o'clock. "Return? Why, what is to prevent us from remaining just where we are until the master comes home?" I could see no just reason save my own fears to have them lounging around my lonely house, and in spite of these concluded to let them stay. Strange it was to see these, to me almost supernatural men and women, enjoying themselves as naturally and innocently for three or four full hours as did this company of wild serpent-charmers and jugglers. The two women of the party searched for the most delicate and polished pebbles to be found in the gravelled walks of the garden, and entertained themselves by digging holes in the sand and rolling their pebbles with great skill into these, hitting off one with another, and seeming to think it capital sport. Some of the men took some caiah, or cocoanut-fibre, out of their bags and proceeded to twist a rope out of it. Some lighted long pipes and began to smoke quietly, stroking down the cobra de capellos, who would poke their heads from under the baskets by their sides. The boy of the party had a bit of rag spread for him under an adjoining tree, and here he stretched himself at full length to sleep, with a basket of snakes for his pillow. Every now and then the upper lid of this basket seemed to open and a snake would thrust out his head, as if to survey the sleeping boy, then as suddenly withdraw. All the while the beautiful sea gleamed and sparkled and dashed against the rocks in front of the "Aviary," and completed this strange picture.

Detalhes do Produto

    • Ano de Edição: 2015
    • Ano:  2015
    • País de Produção: Canada
    • Código de Barras:  2001120989402
    • ISBN:  9781465618108

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