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  • 1863
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water. While making a short cut back to breakfast up a precipitous face of concrete stone, I very nearly finished my wanderings in Thibet with an unpleasantly abrupt full stop. I had nearly reached the top, which was higher than I had imagined, when the treacherous lumps of stone to which I was clinging, came away in my hands, and, with a tremendous crash, down I came in a perfect storm of dirt, dust, and stones, very much to the fright and astonishment of F. and the mate, who were quietly finishing their toilet below. A broken bone in such a place as Egnemo would have been a serious misfortune, and it was therefore a matter of considerable satisfaction to find that, although half-stunned and doing but little credit in appearance to my recent washing, I had escaped with no worse injuries than torn hands and what the doctors would call abrasions of the side and elbow.

AUGUST 24. — Marched as usual, and reached Nurila about noon. From the hilliness of the road and the laziness of the coolies combined, they did not arrive until two P.M., so that we breakfasted at three o’clock. To occupy the time, however, we took advantage of the products of the country, and set to work upon a quantity of apples, and having both thirst and hunger to assuage, I think we got through about sixteen each before the kitchen appeared. While bathing we were suddenly caught in a pouring shower of rain, which obliged us to snatch up our only garments and beat a hasty and not to say dignified retreat into a little den of a water-mill, where we crouched until it was over. After the rain had stopped, a curious fall of stones and rocks took place down the precipitous face of mountain which bounded the opposite side of the Indus to our camp. The noise and the commotion the stones made in their descent, reminded one exactly of volleys of grape, and to any traveller unfortunate enough to get in their way, the results would probably have been quite as disastrous.

Our larder having been low of late, we effected the purchase of a sheep here, for which we paid two shillings.

AUGUST 25. — Left for Lamieroo. The khitmutgar, having reported himself sick to-day, we mounted him on a pony, the efficiency of that branch of the service being of vital importance to the future prospects of the expedition. Having discovered, by yesterday’s experience, that nature abhors a vacuum, and no apples being forthcoming at Lamieroo, we halted for breakfast at the village of Kulchee.

Here I tried hard to purchase a curiously contrived praying-wheel from an old Lama, but without success. My old acquaintance, the gopa, however, brought me one for sale, but it was in such a dilapidated state, and so highly valued as church property, that I let him keep his shaky religious curiosity at his own price. Leaving Kulchee, we crossed the Indus at a mud fort, and bid the roaring, dirty river a final good-bye. Near this the bhistie and khitmutgar, journeying together, lost the path, and found themselves well on the road to Iscardo before discovering their mistake. The road to-day, like all our return journeys, appeared twice the length it did on first acquaintance. The hills, too, were very severe on the coolies, and it was fortunate we halted for breakfast on the road.

At Lamieroo, we found a great change in the temperature; a strong cold breeze blowing, and a general winteriness prevailing, which affected our retainers considerably more than it did ourselves. The Q.M.G. in particular, not having entirely recovered his health, and being low in the article of tobacco, still believed himself to be dying, and was most unusually low-spirited and down in the mouth. As it threatened rain, we pitched our camp close to an old serai, in order to allow our servants to ensconce themselves under a roof, and to derive the full benefit of their wood fire, which they lost no time in kindling.

AUGUST 26. — Exactly a mouth to-day since leaving Sirinugger. The live stock begin to show signs of time on their constitutions; the four surviving ducks wandering about, with a melancholy sort of consciousness that the mysterious fate that has overtaken their late companions is also hanging over themselves, and appearing entirely changed in consequence from the joyous birds they used to be on first starting for their Thibetian travels. To-day being Sunday, we all enjoyed a rest; and the feeling on waking at dawn, and remembering that we were not to be rudely turned out of bed, was quite a delightful and novel sensation. The wind, too, was unusually chill, and as it made nothing of the trifling obstacle presented by the walls of our tent, we were some time before we finally emerged from among the bed-clothes. The people here we found employed in PULLING their corn crops, and stacking them upon the roofs of their houses. At Suspul, although much hotter than here, they had hardly begun to take in their crops, and at Ladak, the harvest was untouched when we left.

In the afternoon, while rambling about the crow’s nests of Lamieroo, I discovered by chance a very curious temple in course of construction, and a number of Lamas and Zemindars superintending the proceedings. The principal decorative work was being carried on by a Chinese-looking, pig-tailed artist, evidently not a local celebrity, who was embellishing the walls most profusely with scenes, portrayed in the purest style of pre-Raphaelite colouring. The figures in these had only been furnished with flesh-coloured spots where their faces were to be, and the foreign “pigtail” was employed, seated on a high platform, in furnishing them with features and casts of expression in accordance with the spirit of the scenes which they helped to compose. This he did certainly with very great skill, and the operation was a most interesting one to watch. The floor was covered with pigments, and materials of all kinds, and the little community, in the midst of the surrounding apparent solitude, were working away like a hive of bees. They appeared to have a hive-like dislike also of the approach of a stranger, and one old Lama, with a twisted mat of hair erected on the top of his head — a drone of the hive — took a particular dislike to me, and scowled savagely as I quietly examined the curious designs upon the walls.

The eternal “Um mani panee” formed a very large part of the decoration, being painted over the walls in every variety of coloured letters. In the inner part of the temple was a large coloured statue, with eight arms, and two-and-twenty heads.

The heads were placed in threes, looking every way, in the shape of a pyramid, a single head crowning the whole.[29] One of the hands held a bow, but the implements contained in the others were entirely Buddhist in character, and to me unknown.

Behind this figure was a star, with innumerable radiating arms from the centre, while from the points of the fingers were five other rows of hands, continuing the star-like circle. These were in half relief on the wall, the figure itself standing out some feet, as if to receive and appropriate the offerings of corn, flowers, oil, &c., which already began to be laid at its feet. Among the litter I remarked several tame partridges and “chickore” walking about, probably sacred to the newly installed divinities.

The whole scene was a very curious one, and not the less so from being entirely unexpected, and occurring in such an apparently deserted spot. One might have explored the place a dozen times without hitting upon the hive of workmen, and, even when discovered, the excellence of the designs and workmanship in so uncivilized a region, was in itself remarkable.

Some of the paintings were of rather startling a character to find occupying places in the order of church decoration, or indeed any other, but they were not perhaps more unsuitable than many I have seen in more avowedly civilized temples of worship.

AUGUST 27. — We found it very hard, in spite of our day of rest, to turn out early again this morning. The wind was sharp and cold, and the temperature altogether decidedly changed from that we had been having. The head of the cooking department being still sick, proceeded on a pony, and, having a certain air of the Sepoy about him, very grand and imposing he looked. The road being long and up hill, we breakfasted at a tomb in the pass of Fotoola, reaching Khurboo about three P.M.

In the evening, the comptroller of the household made his appearance upon the cook’s pony, having from want of tobacco, and other causes, become done up on the road. The bhistie alone holds out, and seems, as far as servants go, the only hope of the expedition. To-day’s march has again spoiled F.’s and my own lately amending complexions, the icy wind and the burning sun together completely blistering our faces. In the evening we enjoyed a lovely sunset, which tinted the magnificent range of mountains we had crossed with the most beautiful hues imaginable.

AUGUST 28. — Another bitterly cold morning. Got away well considering, and arrived at Waka in time for a late breakfast in the little native serai, where we had before halted. Mr. Rajoo and the cook came in with an air of great magnificence. They were each mounted, and each pony was provided with a well-grown foal, so that the two departments may be said to have performed their march with four horses.

AUGUST 29. — Descended the Waka Valley, leaving Shergol to our left, and thereby saving about a kos and a half of already explored road.

Breakfasted under a shady grove of pollards, at the little village of Lotzum, a cold refreshing bathe in a snow torrent enabling us to do full justice to our cook’s very excellent performances in this line. That dignitary was upon his legs again to-day, and Rajoo convalescent once more. Arriving about three P.M. at our old ground at Pushkoom, we found the peaceful, quiet-looking little spot we had left, a scene of the greatest noise and bustle imaginable. We were now received in due form by the Kardar, and Thanadar of Kurgil, not to mention the Wuzeer, or Vizier of Pushkoom. This dignitary had formerly been its Rajah, but during Gulab Singh’s time was reduced to the post of Vizier, or Prime Minister to nobody in particular, with a salary of some thirty rupees per annum. Where our last camp was pitched, we found a circle of natives congregated, some standing, some sitting on their haunches, but all accompanying to the full extent of their voices — at the same time clapping time with their hands — the efforts of a band of six or seven artists on the pipe and tabor, who kept up a quavering strain of what they doubtless believed to be music. To the united melody thus produced, a string of a dozen or so of ladies, in their full war paint, were decorously going through the monotonous evolutions of a popular dance, waving their arms about, gesticulating, and at the same time lingering, as it were, over the ground, and comporting themselves in that staid, yet fitfully lively way, which seems to be the general style of Eastern dancing. They were attired most picturesquely, and evidently in their very fullest ball costume, so that we were fortunate in hitting upon such a good opportunity of seeing their gala manners and customs. They all wore caps of some kind, either of a small, close-fitting pattern, like a fez, or in the shape of a large, and very ultra Scotch cap, black, and very baggy; these were hung round with little silver ornaments, something in the shape of wine labels for decanters, but studded with turquoises; some of them, also, wore brooches, generally formed of three cornelians, or turquoises, in a row. The broad bands of turquoise, worn usually on the forehead, were for the time disrated from their post of honour, and were suspended instead from the nape of the neck, over a square piece of stiff cloth, embroidered with strings of red beads. Round the shoulders, and hanging low, in order to show off the turquoises, lumps of amber, and other family jewels, were the sheepskin cloaks, inseparable from Thibetian female costume; they were, however, of larger size than those of every day life, and were gorgeously decorated outside in red and blue, the FUR merely appearing at the edges. Below this, everything merged in some mysterious way into the variegated sheepskin boots of the country, also decorated with red, blue, and yellow cloth patterns on the instep. These bore a very conspicuous position in the dance, as the ladies, contrary to the principles of modern art, were continually regarding and showing forth the aforesaid boots, as they glided about, and pattered the time to the well-marked music. The dance was altogether much more pleasing than the Indian nach, and the ladies, in spite of their savage jewellery, and rude manner, were much more womanly and respectable than their gauzy, be-ringed and bare-footed southern rivals.

After the dance was over, there was a general move to a large, open space of ground, where the male part of the community were to show off their prowess in the native games. To my astonishment, some fifty or sixty Thibetians here assembled, each provided with a veritable hockey stick, not on foot, however, but each man mounted on his own little mountain pony, and prepared to play a downright game of hockey on horseback. In the centre of the battle-field, between the two “sides,” the pipes and tabors forming THE BAND took their station, and each time the wooden ball of contention was struck off, set up a flourish to animate the players. The Thibetians, however, required no such artificial excitement, but set to work with an energy and spirit, quite refreshing to behold, and the scene soon became most animated and amusing. The Thibetians, unlike Englishmen under similar circumstances, appeared to think the more clothes they had on the better, and in their long woollen coats and trowsers, and their huge sheepskin boots, they quite overshadowed the wiry little horses they bestrode. Besides having to carry all this weight, the ponies, most unfairly, came in also for all the SHINNING; but in spite of these disadvantages, they performed their parts to admiration, dashing about in the most reckless manner, at the instigation of their riders, and jostling and knocking against one another in a way that would have disgusted any other pony in the world. Conspicuous among the crowd of riders, was the thirty-rupee Prime Minister, who on a most diminutive little animal, charged about in a way he never could have condescended to do, had he had the misfortune to have still remained a Rajah. Each time that the ball was sent into the goal, the striker, picking it up dexterously, without dismounting, came again at full speed down the course, the band struck up, and throwing the ball into the air, he endeavoured to strike it as far as possible in the direction of the adverse party. Behind him, at best pace, came his own side, and a desperate collision appeared the inevitable result; however, not a single man was unhorsed during the entire struggle, nor were there any violent concussions, or accidents of any kind on either side.

The men rode very short, and their clumsy boots, stuck through the heavy stirrup-irons, gave them a ludicrous appearance, which was little indicative of the firm seat and active part they displayed in the games. After seeing the last of the hockey we pitched our camp under a grove of trees, and had an audience of the Kardar, with a view to obtaining information as to our new line of march, which here branches off from the old route. He, however, was unable to afford us much intelligence, and we were glad to get rid of him again, with a present of fifteen bullets, which were the objects he appeared, at the time, to covet most in the world.

To-day a charge was brought against our immaculate bhistie, by the Q.M.G., of secreting about half-a-pound of precious white sugar in his sheepskin bag. On being confronted with the Bench he confessed the crime, improving on it, like most natives, by declaring that it was for medicine for his little boy at home, who had sore eyes! The cook, being taken up with the festivities and the turquoises, gave us our dinner at an unusually fashionable hour.

AUGUST 30. — Started for a fresh line of exploration, not without some difficulty and opposition, in consequence of a desire on the part of the Sipahee and the servants to revisit Kurgil, with a view to the tobacco supplies supposed to exist there.

The consequence was that they obtained all sorts of information for us as to the badness of our proposed road, and the insuperable obstacles to be overcome from unbridged rivers, snow, &c. Persevering in our plans, however, we were rewarded by finding a great improvement in the scenery, and, from the novelty of the day’s work, a corresponding benefit to the spirits of the entire expedition. Passing through a little village called Menzies, we halted for breakfast within view of the northern face of an entire new range of snow-capped mountains. Everything gave promise of fine scenery in advance, and about four P.M. we reached Thambis, a lovely piece of cultivation, surrounded on all sides by monster rocks, and overlooked by a peak of pure white virgin snow, and here we pitched our little camp. Entering the village suddenly from the rocky mountain-pass, the little place looked inexpressibly green and refreshing, and we were soon under the shade of a row of pleasant pollards, which lined the bank of a stream near which we halted. As at Pushkoom, the second crops were down, and the people employed in thrashing and grinding their corn. The new crop consisted principally of pulse of various kinds, radishes, and a few fields of tobacco, and nestled in pleasant nooks and corners there were occasional gardens of melons.

Here we got two fine sheep for one rupee ten annas, or 3S. 3D., and one of them formed a sumptuous repast for the coolies and retainers, who held a most convivial banquet round their camp-fires in the evening. The primitive inhabitants seemed quite unaccustomed to the sight of strangers, and we found on this account, better and more plentiful supplies procurable, while the assembling of the entire village to behold the wonderful arrival, formed a pleasant excitement after the day’s march.

To-day we had the choice of two roads, one on either side of the torrent; that on the right bank was reported bad, and we accordingly decided upon the other, but an unexpected obstacle then presented itself in the shape of a bridge of rope of a very considerable length, crossing the torrent. It was formed of the twigs of trees, and being in an unpleasantly dilapidated condition, the passage was a matter of some difficulty if not danger. To save the direct strain a number of the villagers took up their position to distend the side ropes, and having to get over the outstretched legs of these officious aids, made the affair a very much more nervous proceeding than it would otherwise have been. The lowness of the side-ropes, and the oscillation of the ricketty structure rendered the feat altogether a rather more amusing performance to the looker on than to the actual performer, and I was not to reach the opposite shore. On the arrival of the coolies, they all hung back, and regarded the machine with utter astonishment, and when one of them did essay the passage, his coat caught in one of the twigs, about half way across, and not having the use of his hands, he was completely caught as in a trap, and unable either to advance or retire. In endeavouring to turn, his load nearly upset him, and there he remained until extricated by one of the villagers. A few of the coolies afterwards got across, and also the servants, with great trepidation, but the greater number, with the main body of the baggage, including, alas! all the cooking department, except one load, were afraid to essay the passage, and had to take to the bad road in despair. The fraction of the commissariat stores which did reach our side of the water turned out to be plates, knives, forks, and kettles, so that we had before us no prospect of breakfast until we arrived at a village some ten kos off, where a more respectable bridge was to re-unite us with our goods and chattels.

As promised, the path on our side was pretty good, and led us through several peaceful little villages, overhung by giant rocks, and dotted with enormous blocks of stone, which had descended to disturb the harmony of the scene during some convulsion or commotion in the interior economy of the mountains. Some of these were taken advantage of by the natives to serve as canvas for their designs, and were carved with effigies of four-armed divinities, and other SACRED subjects. With the exception of these, we saw few traces of Buddhism about us here. Passing through one of the villages, I bought a medicine-book, or charm, from one of the natives. It was in Arabic, and was rolled and swathed like a mummy, and worn round his arm. He told me that he had inherited it from his father, and appeared by no means happy when it was gone.

Arriving at Sankoo, we found it a well-wooded thinly-inhabited valley, about a kos and a half in length. Here we had a new specimen of bridge architecture to pass. It was formed simply enough of two crooked trunks of trees, and, considering the torrent below, it required a considerable amount of confidence to enable one to traverse it successfully. From the scarcity of the population, I had great difficulty in finding anybody to procure me a drink of milk, and when I at last discovered a woman and two children, she was so thunderstruck that, catching up one of her offspring in her arms and shrieking to another to follow her, like a hen and chickens swooped at by a hawk, away they went as fast as their legs would carry them. As this was no satisfaction to me, however productive it might be of milk to the baby, I began to make signs of bringing down the family mansion that short distance required to raze it to the ground, and thus succeeded in calling forth from its interior a half-naked old gentleman out of his study to my assistance.

He, however, in an abject way informed me that he had no milk himself, but would introduce me to a friend who had. I accordingly followed him, “at the point of the stick,” until we reached another mud hovel, where we found the lady of the house sitting in her porch working, and a supercilious-looking gentleman reclining at her side.

Neither of them, however, seemed to pay the slightest attention to my wants, and savage with thirst, I charged the whole trio, saluting the gentleman at the same time with an application of my stick. Instead of his jumping up, however, as I expected, I found that the unfortunate man was kept in his recumbent position by rheumatism, or some such ailment, and that, in my ignorance of Thibetian, and want of milk and patience combined, I had committed an atrocious and unwarrantable assault upon an invalid. Meantime, however, the lady was off like a shot, and soon returned from the dairy bearing both milk and flour, wherewith to appease the ferocity of her visitor. Having nearly choked myself with the meal and brought myself round again with the milk, I gave the invalid full compensation and satisfaction as far as I was able, for my attack, and again took to the road in search of the bridge which was to re-unite us with our baggage and our breakfast. Before reaching it, however, I was the unfortunate cause of the entire abandonment of some half-dozen houses, by merely halting to sit down for a few minutes under a tree in their vicinity. Whether the inhabitants — who appeared to be all women — thought that I was going to open trenches and beleaguer them or not I don’t know, but, after a few minutes, I used to see one of them dart out from behind a mud wall and scuttle away like a rabbit; then another lady would steal out, carefully lock the door, and with a child on her back and a couple of olive branches in rear, crawl over the housetop and out at the back garden, there taking to her heels, and vanishing with her convoy suddenly from sight. This operation being repeated in other tenements, I found myself at last left in full and uninterrupted possession of the entire settlement I happened to be in the vicinity of, including the cocks, hens, firewood, dwelling, places, and messuages, &c. thereunto appertaining and belonging. When they re-occupied the evacuated premises I don’t know, but Rajoo, I ascertained, wished them all no future happiness when, on coming up some time afterwards, he knocked at every door and looked down every sky-light and chimney in the village without being able to procure as much as a light to ignite the tobacco in his “hubble bubble.” The coolies having found the path on the right bank of the torrent quite as bad as prognosticated, we got our breakfast shortly before sunset. From the proximity of a high rocky mountain, towards the westward of our camp, however, this was considerably earlier than might be imagined.

SEPTEMBER 1. — Commenced our last month but one of leave, by a fine march of some sixteen miles from Sankoo to Tesroo, or Sooroo, at the foot of the grandest snowy range we had yet encountered. The path led us over a gigantic fall of rocks, evidently the deposits formed by successive and destructive avalanches.

In some parts the traces were quite fresh, the rocks being rent and uptorn in a wonderful way; and, in one place, we passed the ground where two villages had been entirely overwhelmed by an avalanche, the entire population of twenty-five having been killed in the ruins.

After walking about five or six kos, in the finest and freshest of morning air, we suddenly opened upon a noble mountain of pure unbroken snow, rearing its head proudly into the blue sky among a train of courtiers, not so noble, nor so purely, whitely, clad as itself, but still arrayed in robes of glistening snow. Here the path emerged from the side of the rugged mountain torrent, and brought us about two kos over fine turfy grass to within some three miles of Sooroo; and here we halted, under a grove of trees, for breakfast. After this, we had another rope bridge to pass, which was so little to the taste of the coolies, that they were glad to get the natives to carry over their loads for them. On crossing we found the Thanadar, a fine old black-muzzled Cashmeeree, with his Moonshee, and a train of eight Sipahees waiting to receive us, and were conducted in due form to our camping ground. Here the breeze, as it whistled over our tent, savoured strongly of the snow, and reminded us of the vicinity of the chilly mountain Grandees we had seen on our road, and which still presided over us.

The natives even appeared to feel the cold, though in the winter months they are entirely snowed up, and ought to be pretty well inured to it by this time.

The entire valley is, in winter, totally submerged in snow, and a stranger might then pass over it without knowing there were villages beneath his feet. The bridges are annually swept away, and so suddenly does the hard weather make its appearance, that even now the inhabitants were in fear and trembling lest the snows should come down on them before their crops of wheat and barley were carried for the winter’s use.

Numbers of fields of corn are still within a week or so of ripening, and, should they be lost, the chance of winter’s subsistence would be small indeed.

The appearance of a Thibetian settlement here, as one looks down upon it from a height, is very much that of an ant-hill. The huts are built on the top of each other, and generally on mounds, and the people, like ants, are busily and laboriously employed in laying up their winter store, not only of grain, but also of firewood, and anything capable of serving in its place, to enable them to struggle through their dreary mouths of captivity.

Huge loads of corn and stacks are to be seen moving about, apparently spontaneously, disappearing through queer holes and corners of the earth, and again appearing on the housetops, where they are stacked and stored. The bundles of fire-wood being placed with the branches outside, and neatly ranged, they give the peaceful settlement quite a bristling and warlike appearance, as if defended by CHEVAUX DE FRISE. The Zemindars here pay but two rupees a year to the Maharajah, but it seems a hard case that such hardly-subsisting people should have to pay anything whatever in such a sterile dreary territory as they possess.

To-day we came across one solitary mound of the inscribed stones, probably the last, as we now cross the mountains into Cashmerian territory again.

To the south of our camp, the road from Ladak through Zanskar joins the valley, and we half regretted not having risked the chances of that road; however, it was uncertain whether it was passable, and, as time was valuable, we had but little option in the matter.

SEPTEMBER 2. — Being Sunday, we had a regular rest, explored the country, and made the acquaintance of the few Thibetians who inhabited the villages.

Everywhere there were signs of the invasion of Gulab Singh, some twenty years ago. Houses in ruins, and forts reduced to dust and rubbish. To replace these latter, a new fort had been constructed by Rumbeer Singh, in what appears about the worst possible position in the entire valley to render it of any use whatever.

The people were busily employed in their fields, pulling and carrying corn, and treading it out with oxen. A team of six I saw, most uncomfortably performing this work. They were tied together by the noses, and so small a piece of ground had they to revolve upon, that the innermost animal had to go backward continually, while the centre ones were regularly jammed together by the outsiders. Two deformed natives were employed in driving this unhappy thrashing machine.

In the evening, the Thanadar’s Moonshee came to beg a “razee nama,” or “letter of satisfaction,” which we gave him, together with a “bukshish,” with which he seemed well pleased.

SEPTEMBER 3. — Got up this morning with a peculiarly cold feel, and started with a fine piercing breeze in our teeth, blowing directly off the snows.

Our force was augmented to-day by three goats, as portable dairy, and a party of natives, with three days’ supplies, also a guide, for our path lay over ground neither much frequented nor well known. To-day’s has been the grandest scene of the panorama yet unfolded to us. From the last halt, no inconsiderable height in itself, we mounted continually towards the huge white masses of snow, which so lately towered above us in the distance. Passing the remains of mighty avalanches firmly fixed across the foaming torrent, we ascended the snow valley by the side of a perfect mountain of ice and snow, the accumulations of, possibly, as many years as the world has existed, which had formed itself immoveably between the mighty mountain’s sides. The terrific force, with which the masses of snow had come down each season, to repair the ravages in the frozen monster’s constitution caused by the melting away of his lower extremities, could be seen by the enormous blocks of stone which rested on its surface in all directions. In some places fantastic arches of snow were thus formed, with blocks of rock resting on their summits, and such a distance were these central accumulations of rocks, and snow, and ice, from the cradles in which they were reared, that it was impossible to conceive, without the occurrence of an earthquake, how they could ever have reached their present positions.

One begins now faintly to understand how it is that the enormous number of torrents dashing about are kept supplied with icy life. The vast quantities of snow wedged into solid masses, which must have existed since all time among these mighty mountains, would serve to feed rivers innumerable, and the supply, as long as rivers and mountains exist, would appear to be inexhaustible.

Our path, if path it could be called, was very bad in parts, and so difficult for the coolies that we were fortunate in getting our breakfast at two P.M., and, when we did get it, a snowstorm which came down upon us rather hurried our procedings in discussing it.

The entire afternoon it continued snowing, and the mountain-tops soon hid themselves and sulked away among the leaden mists. Our tent was pitched among a low sort of scrub, the only apology for fire-wood procurable, and here we soon had a fine carpet of fresh snow, which put the unfortunate coolies, and the servants, and the three goats and the four ducks, and, in fact, everybody but F. and myself, who now begin to feel thoroughly AT HOME, to considerable discomfort and inconvenience.

About a hundred yards from us rises the central mountain of consolidated old snow; while the monarchs of the place, whose hospitality we have been enjoying, overtopped our diminutive little worn canvas dwelling with proud and gloomy magnificence, or hid themselves from us in their ermine mantles, with aristocratic frigidity.[30] Before us, the path continues towards the clouds, hemmed in, to all appearance, by a mighty glacier, which it would seem impossible to avoid in our tomorrow’s route. To-day we again find the society of the little shrieking marmots, who seemed more than over astonished at what could bring so strange and motley a group of creatures to disturb the universal quiet of their solitude. Of all our party the cook, perhaps, here fares the worst. The only things growing about us are a few plants of rhubarb and the miserable scrub, which he is obliged to use with all faith as firewood! this being thoroughly wet requires much coaxing to ignite, and what with the difficulties of his profession, the cold, the falling snow, and the increased appetites of the SAHIBS, the unfortunate head of the cooking department becomes for the time the most intensely miserable being, black or white, upon the whole face of the globe.

SEPTEMBER 4. — Awoke this morning to find the encampment, and its vicinity, covered with snow, and every prospect of a snow-stormy march before us. The coolies and servants were in a deplorable state of frozen discomfort, but all kept up their spirits by laughing at each other’s woes. Just as the sun appeared above the mountains for a few minutes only, we got under weigh; the tent, however, took some time to disencumber of its load of frozen snow, and to pack, and all the baggage required excavating previous to becoming capable of removal.

The path up to the great glacier above us was wild and barren, it lay over a little plain watered by branching streams, and covered over with ice and newly fallen snow. Crossing one of these streams, I flushed a solitary woodcock, the only inhabitant of the wild, and shortly afterwards, our guide, an uncouth bundle of sheep-skins, slipped over a frozen stone, and came down in the freezing water with a splash, which, at that hour of the morning, made one shudder all over involuntarily. The snow-shoes which F. and myself had donned, alone saved us several times from a similar, uncomfortable fate. Our path, properly speaking, should have led over the very centre of the glacier; but, in consequence of the numerous crevasses and the early appearance of the new snow, our guide steadily refused to take us over the pass by that route. To have taken it without a guide would have been simply impossible; so we diverged to one side, and, after a sharp ascent of two hours over the snow, reached a sort of upper basin among the very mountain-tops. Here the scene which opened on us was wild beyond description. We were now about 18,000 feet above the sea, and in every direction around us snow hemmed in our view. Under our feet was a plain of pure white snow; the mountain-tops were snowy HILLOCKS, standing white against the leaden sky; and from above the fleecy snow-flakes fell around us thickly as we trudged along. The ground was most treacherous, and required great care m traversing, and in one place, being ahead of the guide, the snow and ice suddenly gave way beneath me, and with a most unpleasant sensation of uncertainty as to where I might be going, I found myself standing up to my waist in snow and to my knees in freezing water.

The guide, almost at the same moment, came to the same end, and it was not without much floundering and blundering that we both extricated ourselves from our difficulties. Shortly after this we crossed the highest point of the pass, and here the guide said his prayers to the presiding “peer,” or divinity of the place, previous to asking for bukshish; after which he and the sepoy proceeded to smoke a pipe of peace and tranquillity together. The most trying part of our day’s work we found to be waiting for breakfast, the coolies being much retarded both by the road and the state of the weather. We stopped at a sort of temporary abode, where some slight protection from rain and snow was obtained by the piling up of stones against an eligible rock, and here, after a long and dreary wait, we breakfasted in a little smoke-dried, draught-inviting den, the snow all the time coming down in a way not altogether adapted for the enjoyment of such AL FRESCO entertainments. Descending from this, we came to a grassy slope at last, and so by a most precipitous path to the valley on the southern side of the mountains, down which a formidable torrent rolled along, dividing itself into a number of channels not very promising as to our prospects of reaching the opposite side. Here we saw an enormous flock of sheep grazing on the mountain-side, seeming, as they moved to and fro in search of pasture, like a floating cloud against the hill. There must have been several thousands, though accurate computation was out of the question. They made, however, all the other mountain-flocks we had met, appear as nothing in point of numbers.

Arriving at the many-branching river, I was for some time quite at a loss for a ford, until a native, seeing the dilemma I was in, crossed to my assistance. Finding me stripping to the work, he insisted on my mounting upon his back, and in an evil moment I consented. The consequence was that, after passing safely a couple of the streams, in the deepest spot of the whole torrent, he tottered and fell, and down we both came, he in the most ungraceful position in which man can fall, and I, luckily, upon my feet. The sensation, however, on suddenly finding the water rushing past, and one’s feet slipping about among the clinking stones, was anything but pleasant, and it was with difficulty that I collected myself together and completed the uncomfortable passage. The tent being luckily pitched about a mile farther on, the loss of dignity in the eyes of the bystanders was the only evil result of the misfortune. Towards night it came on again to snow, and the coolies and retainers had another hard bivouac of it, while F. and I were obliged to keep all hands at the pumps, or, in other words, to fasten all available rags and wraps under our canvas, to keep out the soaking wet.

The cold was very great, and everything gave token of coming winter, and testified to what the Himalayas can do in the snow and ice line of business when their full time shall arrive.

SEPTEMBER 5. — After a damp night’s bivouac, we awoke to find “A MIXTURE AS BEFORE” falling — a mixture of rain, sleet, and snow — anything but promising for the comfort of our day’s march. To avoid having to wait in the wet for breakfast, we sent on the kitchen and the cook, and, after some time, followed leisurely ourselves.

An overhanging ledge of rock afforded us some shelter for our meal, and, after warming and drying ourselves to some extent in this smoke-blackened and not very commodious little Himalayan hotel, we again pressed on. This was our third day away from either villages or regular shelter of any sort, and the retainers were naturally anxious to reach some settlement where they could, for a time at least, protect themselves from the rain and snow which still continued to fall. The consequence was, they pressed on some sixteen miles farther at a good pace, to reach a little wooden village at the head of the Wurdwan valley, and we saw nothing of them on the road. On reaching our halting-place, however, lo and behold, our unfortunate cook was absent, and nobody seemed to know anything whatever about him! The cooking things and the larder were all present, and dinner-hour was at hand; but, alas! the pots and kettles were without a lord, and the question of where was our dinner began to give way in point of interest to where was our cook. At the time F. and I left the “cave-hotel,” the whole of the coolies, Rajoo, the three goats, and the two sheep, had all gone on ahead, as also the “Invincible One,” the sepoy.

The bhistie and the missing cook had therefore only remained behind. The road, soon after leaving, entered a wooded gorge, and, as the valley narrowed, the torrent began to get considerably more rapid and boisterous, as it took to leaping down the giant rocks, which bound it in between their iron grasp and formed its only bed.

The path was wet and sloppy, and led in parts along the tops of rather dangerous precipices. Passing cautiously over these, and through wooded paths lined with mosses and wild flowers, whose perfume scented the entire air, we came upon a curious bridge of well-packed snow, which spanned the torrent. A treacherous-looking specimen it was, and after taking its likeness in my pocket-book, I was passing it as a matter of course, when I suddenly heard a shout, and perceived F. and the mate at the other side of the torrent beckoning me to cross the snow. I accordingly, with no very good grace and some astonishment, essayed the passage. The snow I found hard as ice, and not liking the look of its treacherous convex sides, I held my course straight up the centre, and then descended with great care and deliberation along the junction of the snow and the mountain. So slippery was the passage, that without grass shoes I should have been sorry to have attempted it, and, as I halted to regard the curious structure from a distance, I could not help thinking what a likely spot it was for a traveller to lose his life without anybody being the wiser, and what a small chance he would have in the deep and rapid torrent below if he should happen to slip into its remorseless clutches. The path from this continued its perilous character, in one place traversing a precipitous face of rock only passable on all fours, beneath which a thick cover of long grass and weeds hung over the deep, treacherous-looking pools of the torrent. Having on a pair of grass shoes which had already done one day’s work, I had broken down about half way, and was now nearly bare-footed. I consequently did not arrive till nearly the last of the party, and found the tent pitched and fires lit under a group of large trees, in the wooden village of about a dozen houses, called Sucknez. It was then getting dusk, and after waiting a reasonable time, we sent out a party from the village to make search for our missing man, while F. and I, lighting a fire almost in the tent door, proceeded to cook our own dinner.

The materials consisted of an unlimited supply of eggs and a box of sardines, hitherto neglected, and despised among the artistic productions of our lost professor. F. superintended the frying of the eggs, and produced a conglomeration of some eight of them, which we pronounced unusually delicious, while I laid the table and looked after the kettle, for we thought it better, under our bereaved circumstances, to knock tea and dinner into one meal. Although we had made a longish march, we managed, with the aid of the kettle and the brandy, to sit up by the light of a roaring pine fire until late, in the hopes of some news arriving of our searching party. None however came, and we went to bed HOPING that the man had lost his way, and FEARING that he had fallen either over the slippery snow-bridge or down one of the many precipices into the torrent.

SEPTEMBER 6. — Morning came, but neither news of our cook nor of the party who went out in his search, and, after breakfast, donning a pair of grass shoes, and provided with some matches and a small bottle of cherry-brandy, I sallied out with the mate on a voyage of discovery. Outside the village I met the searching party, who had been out all through the bitter night, but had found no traces of the object of their search.

Sending a note to F. to dispatch all the coolies to search, I pressed on to the most dangerous precipice of our yesterday’s route, and, descending to the torrent, searched about the grass and weeds at the bottom, but without finding any traces. About this place I met three lonely travellers, laden with meal, who had come along the entire path, but had seen no sign of a human creature anywhere. I now gave up our man as lost, but still held on, in a pouring mixture of sleet and snow, which added considerably to the gloom of the scene. Every now and then the old mate, who was in very low spirits, would raise a lugubrious wail at the top of his voice of “Ai Khansaman Jee! Ai Khansaman Jee?” “Oh, cook of my soul! oh, cook of my soul, where art thou?” at the same time apparently apostrophizing the deepest whirlpools of the torrent, while the roar of the waters effectually prevented his magnificent voice from reaching more than a dozen yards from the spot where he stood. Arriving at the snow-bridge, we examined it closely for signs of footmarks; it was, however, so hard that it baffled all our efforts.

At the other side I explored the path which I myself had followed in the first instance. It, however, only led to a small shelter among the rocks and trees, where the natives had evidently been in the habit of lighting their fires and halting for the night. After continuing the search to another snow-bridge above, we returned to our camp, and made the sepoy issue a notice that twenty rupees reward would be given for the recovery of our cook, dead or alive, and also that a reward would be given to any person who should bring us any reliable information about him. At the same time we sent the notice to the villages below, and spread it as much as possible; but though twenty rupees would be a small fortune to one of these people, they took but little interest in the matter, and looked upon the whole thing as “Kismut,” or destiny. “If it was the will of God that the body should be found, it would be found, if not, where was the use of looking for it;” and so they took no steps whatever in the matter.

To add to the probabilities of the snow-bridge having been the cause of our loss, it appeared that a short time before, a coolie carrying Pushmeena &c. had fallen there, and had never since been heard of; while another, who had also fallen into the torrent, was only discovered six days afterwards miles and miles below.

Having now despatched several searching parties, and received no tidings, we decided upon retreating to the next village down the valley, and halting there for a few days, in order to do all we could for our unfortunate man.

SEPTEMBER 7. — Started on our march again in heavy sleet and rain, which, higher up the mountains, took the form of downright snow. The valley descended by a slight incline, through fir and other forest trees, and about four kos down, we reached another little wooden city, where, being wet through and through, we were glad to halt, and getting a good fire lit in one of the log-houses, we set to work to dry our clothes. The house was reached by a most primitive ladder, made of half the trunk of a tree, hollowed out into holes for the feet; and, as for the shelter afforded by the tenement, it certainly kept off the rain, but was not intended to keep out the wind, for the trees which composed the walls were so far apart, that we could see the face of nature between them, and, in spite of the open windows, which the architect had thought necessary to provide the building with, the breeze whistled through the chinks in a way that might be very pleasant in hot weather, but was not so cheery when snow and rain was the order of the day. The roofs were the most novel structures I had ever seen. They consisted merely of rudely split blocks of wood, some five or six feet long, through the upper ends of which stout pegs had been driven, and, thus suspended, these weighty wooden tiles overlapped each other, and formed a rude covering, which, unpromising as it was to outward appearance, answered its purpose sufficiently well, and was at least quite in keeping with the remainder of the wooden mansion. The people here were something like the Cashmeerees in appearance, and as we descend into civilization, fowls, and other hitherto foreign animals begin to show themselves once more. The entire substitution of wood for mud and stones effectually marks the difference between the Cashmerian and Thibetian sides of the snowy range we had just crossed. About eight kos from Sucknez we reached Bragnion, where we found the camp pitched in a most promising position, having a fine view of the valley below, and the distant ranges of mountains. The torrent here spread itself into several channels, and the valley, widening to allow it fuller liberty to pursue its joyful existence, descended in a succession of wooded slopes, one beyond the other, while the eternal snows again bounded the view in the distance.

The small portions of comparatively level ground in sight were covered with crops of the richest colours. One in particular, which the people called “gunhar,” was of the hue of beetroot, and grew upon its stalk in heavy, gorgeous masses, which added considerably to the richness of the landscape. The seed of this consists of myriads of little semi-transparent white grains, very like ant’s eggs, and the taste is something similar to that of wheat. Above our camp, in a ravine of the hills, is the place where an officer had been killed by the fall of an avalanche, while out on a shooting expedition. His companion, a noted sportsman, was saved, by making a tremendous jump; but he himself, and three shikarees, were swept away, their bodies not being recovered for two months afterwards.

SEPTEMBER 8. — After a cold night, during which I dreamt of our lost cook, we were awoke by a shout of “Jeeta hy!” — “He is living!” then, “Rusta bhool gya!” — “He lost his way!” and gradually it dawned upon us that the man we had fancied floating down the torrent a mangled corpse was still actually in the land of the living.

It appeared that he had been discovered, sitting helplessly upon the mountain side, by a chance and solitary traveller from Thibet. He had lost his way at the snow-bridge, and, in trying to retrace his steps, completely got off the only track existing, and had consequently wandered about among the wood and cover as long as his strength enabled him.

The accounts of his movements amid the general excitement were rather conflicting, but this being the fourth day since his disappearance, and the weather having been very bad all that time, he must have had a very narrow escape of his life, from the combined effects of cold and hunger. By the man’s account who found him, he was so weak, that he was unable to eat the chupatties thrown across to him; and, his rescuer accordingly leaving with him some meal, and means to make a fire, came on to Sucknez, and from thence sent out a party to carry him in. Sending a horse and some supplies for him, we looked forward with some interest to his own account of his most unsought-for adventures.

The villagers here, we found, were in the habit of making regular expeditions among their crops at night, to keep off the bears who prowl about in search of food. Armed with torches, they keep up a tremendous shouting all through the dark hours, during the time their grain is ripening; and thinking to get a daylight view of the robbers, I started up the mountain with a native guide and a rifle. My “sportsman,” however, in spite of many promises, failed in showing me anything more savage than a preserve of wild raspberry-trees, on which I regaled with much satisfaction.

A curious custom in the valley is that of hanging quantities of hay up among the branches of trees, and its object puzzled me immensely, till my guide informed me that in the winter the snow lies five and six yards in depth, and that the supplies of hay, which now look only meant for camel-leopards, are then easily reached by the flocks of sheep which abound in the valley. At present these were all collected among the mountains, to be out of the way of the harvest, and this accounts for the enormous herd we had seen while descending from the pass.

SEPTEMBER 9. — Found the sun brightly shining again this morning, and everything looking fresh and beautiful after the rain. The man who had gone with supplies to the cook returned with news that he was ill from the effects of cold and fasting, and not able to come on to us. While at breakfast, my yesterday’s guide brought us in a bowl of raspberries, which gave pleasant token of the change from the desolate country we had recently passed through, to the land of plenty we had reached. We also got about eleven seers (22 lbs.) of virgin honey, for which we paid three rupees. While trying it for breakfast, a dense swarm of the original proprietors came looking for their stores, and the noise they made buzzing about, made one fancy they contemplated walking off bodily with the jars. In the evening our long-lost cook again returned to the bosom of his family. The poor creature looked regularly worn out. From the combined effects of snow and fire he was quite lame; his turban, most of his clothes, and all his small possessions, had vanished while struggling through the thick cover, and he himself had subsisted for two nights and three days, unsheltered and alone, upon nothing but tobacco and snow! On losing his way, not thinking of crossing the snow-bridge, he struck right up the mountain side, in search, first of the path, and afterwards of some hut or shelter. He then gradually got into thick and almost impervious cover; not a habitation of any sort was within miles of him, and thus he wandered about for two days and nights. On the third day he descended again towards the torrent, and, falling and stumbling, reached a rock on its bank, and there seating himself, was, by the merest chance, seen by the passing traveller from the other side of the torrent. Making signs that he was starving, this man threw him some chupatties, and these, wonderful to relate, the cook put in his pocket without touching. Supposing him to be either too weak, or else, even while starving, too strict a Hindoo to eat cooked food, his rescuer then threw him across some meal in his turban, and went off for assistance. The poor creature was rather proud, I think, to find himself the centre of attraction, as well as of being valued at twenty rupees; and, as he falteringly related his sorrows and escape from death, the coolies and the rest of the forces gathered round him, listening with wide open mouths to the wonderful narrative of his adventures.

SEPTEMBER 10. — Took another day’s rest to give our unfortunate cook a little time to recover his energies. In the evening, the villagers produced us a couple of hives of honey, which we packed away in earthen jars for transport to the plains. The amount was 391/2 seers, or 79 lbs. for which we paid ten rupees.

The unwillingness of the people to produce their honey the “Invincible One” accounted for by saying that they were afraid of OUR not paying them. On inquiry, however, the real cause turned out to be, that the Sepoy himself was in the habit of exacting a heavy tax on all purchases on our part, and fear of him, not us, was the true difficulty.

In the evening, we took a tour through the village, and DISCOURSED, as well as we could, a native Zemindar, whom we found with his household around him, gathering in his crop of grain, which had been partially destroyed by the early snow. His land appeared to be about four acres in extent, and for this, he told us, he paid twelve rupees per annum to the Maharajah of Cashmere. He failed signally, however, in explaining how he produced that amount by his little farm. The produce of his land sufficed only to feed himself and his family, and the proceeds of the sale of wool, belonging to his twelve sheep, he estimated at only two rupees. Besides these, he possessed a few cows, and appeared as cheery and contented a landholder as I ever met, in spite of his losses by the snows, and his inability to make out, even by description, his ten rupees of ground-rent to the Maharajah.

The crops around consisted chiefly of bearded wheat (kanuk), barley (jow), anik, tronba, and gunhar, all otherwise nameless; and also a small quantity of tobacco, turnips, and radishes.

SEPTEMBER 11. — Having with some difficulty procured a pony for the cook, we started again for Cashmere, and, after a very steep ascent, through woods of magnificent pine-trees, with every now-and-then a glorious peep of distant snow-peaks towering in the skies, we reached the summit of the peer, which separates the territory called Kushtwar from that of Cashmere. According to the “Invincible” authority, this territory belonged, some sixty years ago, to an independent Rajah, and, on his death without heirs or successors, it fell into the clutches of Gulab Singh.[31]

The entire revenue, he stated, was 3,000 rupees. From the heights along our path, we could see the great glaciers of Dutchen, with its mountain peak of 25,000 feet, which we had been bound for when the misadventure of our cook interfered with our plans, and left us not sufficient time to carry out our explorations.

The summit of the pass we found evidently not long freed from the old snow, while the new supply lay about in masses all over the mountain.

Passing over a wild and marshy plain at the summit, we began to descend a lovely pine-clad valley once more into veritable Cashmere, and, about four P.M. encamped in a forest-clearing, which, in a very short space of time, was illuminated by no less than seven roaring campfires. Our own formed the centre, and was formed of a couple of entire pine-trunks, while the others were ranged about wherever a dry and prostrate tree presented a favourable basis for a conflagration. In the evening we enjoyed the warmth of our fires considerably, and discussed hot brandy and water seated on the very trees which formed our fuel. We were all the more inclined to appreciate our position, as we felt that we were nearly out of our cold latitudes, and rapidly descending to the land of dog days once again.

SEPTEMBER 12. — Continued our march down the valley, through continued wooded grassy scenes, and attended by a not too noisy torrent. About a kos from our halting place, we began again to see the wooden houses, and came to a halt at the picturesque little village of Nowbogh, where there were two roads branching off to Islamabad.

Here we had a long wait for breakfast, the servants being overcome by the unaccustomed civilization and tobacco they met on the road. We accordingly set to work at our own kitchen fire, and breakfasted without further assistance off fried eggs, rice, and honey.

In the evening we found alas! that a fire at our tent door, as we had had hitherto, was rather too hot to be pleasant. We were here visited by the local prodigy, a rustic carpenter, who insisted upon making something for us with his rather primitive-looking turning lathe. His shop I found completely AL FRESCO, between a couple of cows in the centre of a farm-yard, and here he set to work at a walnut cup, which he turned out creditably enough. The only thing against it was, that his lathe bored a hole right through the bottom of it, which spoiled the utensil a good deal for drinking out of. However, not at all taken aback, he plugged it up with a piece of stick, and at once requested the bukshish, which was the chief part of the performance. Like most of the Cashmeeries, he complained bitterly of the exactions of the Maharajah’s government, and stated his own rent to amount to sixteen Huree Singh’s rupees ([pound sterling]l) per annum. Not seeing how he could accumulate that sum, by even an entire year of work such as his, I took the liberty of disbelieving his assertion.

SEPTEMBER 13. — Started for Kukunath. Our path lay over a finely-wooded hill, from which we had a full view of the Peer Punjal range, now divested considerably of the snows which lay upon it at the time we started for Thibet.

Gradually descending into the valley proper, we soon found ourselves once more among the waving rice-fields and apple-orchards, while the wooden tenements again gave way to mud and stone, and thatched erections. At a village called Sopru, we found some iron mines in working order, and passing Kundunath, a pretty little spot adorned with gardens of melons, pumpkins, sunflowers, &c., we shortly after reached Kukunath. Here we encamped close to a collection of bubbling crystal springs, which, bursting out of the hill side, and spreading into a dozen separate streams, took their course down to the innumerable fields of rice which they watered in their passage through the valley. To-day our little camp assumes quite a lively appearance again, three sheep and several fowls having been added to the farm-yard; these, together with three surviving ducks of the real original stock, and a wonderful white Thibetian cock, who owes his life entirely to his highly-cultivated vocal powers, strut about in front of the tent, and give an air of unwonted respectability to the scene. Two marches more take us to Islamabad, and it seems altogether about time that the present expedition should draw to a close. Supplies appear alarmingly low. Sugar out some days, brandy ditto, European boots worn out long ago, and both F. and myself living in grass shoes; clothes generally dilapidated, and decidedly dirty; servants very anxious for more tobacco and society, and everything, in fact, requiring rest and renovation after our seven weeks’ wanderings.

SEPTEMBER 14. — Reached the picturesque little baraduree of Atchabull once more, after a pleasant march from Kukunath. Shortly after taking possession, a fresh arrival of Sahib’s possessions and servants came in, the latter rather astonished to find the house occupied by such early birds. The owners turned out to be a colonel of the Bengal Artillery and a brother officer. These were almost our first acquaintances since starting, so that we were glad enough to fraternize and hear what was going on in the world. Two of our former boat’s crew here also appeared, and gave us tidings of our rearguard and baggage. The latter had been ejected from its lodgings, and taken out for an airing on the river, having been visited by a flood caused by the melting of the snows shortly after our departure. The weather here began to be unpleasantly hot again; the disappearance of the snow from the mountains having removed the principal cause of the usual coolness in the valley.

Dined with the white men under the spreading sycamores, and enjoyed the luxuries of bread, beer, and sugar in our tea, to all of which we had now been long unaccustomed.

SEPTEMBER 15. — A short march brought us to Islamabad, which we found unusually lively from the assembling of a host of pilgrims, who had come from far and wide for a religious fair at Mutton. The groups of different nations, and their manners and customs while bivouacking, were most picturesque, and served to amuse and interest us for the entire day.

SEPTEMBER 16. — Started early by boat, in the fond expectation of reaching Sirinugger in the evening. Dusk, however, found us no farther than the ruins of Wentipore, and we only reached the capital at daylight in the morning. Finding our old quarters vacant, we were soon located once more under a roof; and, fifty days having elapsed since we had seen either letter or paper, we lost no time in applying to the postal authorities for our expected accumulations and arrears of correspondence. This resulted in the production of twenty-seven epistles and eleven papers, which we carried home triumphantly in our boat, and proceeded forthwith to devour in that ravenous fashion only known and appreciated by such as have ever undergone a similar literary fast.

Last Days of Travel.

SEPTEMBER 30. — For the last fifteen days we have been living once more the life of OTIUM CUM DIGNITATE common to the travelling Englishman in Cashmere. Basking in the sun, taking the daily row upon the river, eating fruit, and buying trash in the city, have been our principal occupations and amusements.

About the 20th of the month an English general officer arrived, and was received with all honours, including a salute of heavy ordnance, which was happily unattended with loss of life or limb. A dance and grand review were also given in his honour; so that the arrival made quite a stir, and came fairly under the head of AN EVENT in the valley. At the review the Maharajah was decorated with unusual grandeur, and as he and his guest rode down the line together — the latter in a plain blue frock, and the other in all his cloth of gold and jewelled splendour — never were simplicity and display more strikingly placed in contrast.

The general’s medals and crosses, however, appeared to have a greater interest and importance in the Maharajah’s eyes than their intrinsic value could have commanded for them, and, during the marching past of “The Army,” he kept continually poking his finger at them, and pointing them out to the courtiers who were gathered about his chair. The general, at the same time, was employed in explaining how many thousands the British Army consisted of, and how vastly superior it was to all other armies whatever, not even making an exception (as I thought he might fairly have done) in favour of the “Invincible Forces,” then and there manfully throwing out their feet before him to the martial strains of “Home, sweet Home!” After the last of the army had marched past, the general, with an energy little appreciated by his friends in cloth of gold, jumped up, and, begging permission to manoeuvre the troops himself, went off to throw the unfortunate colonel commanding into a state of extreme consternation, and to frighten the few English words of command he was possessed of, fairly out of his head.

In the early mornings my chief amusement had been to watch the colonel in question preparing both himself and his troops for the approaching spectacle, and very sensibly he went through the performance. He was arrayed on these occasions in the full dress of a green velvet dressing-gown, worn in the style affected by the FEROCIOUS RUFFIAN in small theatres, and, in place of a bugler, was accompanied by a pipe-bearer. This aide followed him over the battle-field, wherever the exigencies of the service required, and supplied him with whiffs of the fragrant weed to compose his nerves at intervals during the action. Their united efforts, however, although slightly irregular in appearance, were attended with full success, for, with the help of ten rounds of ammunition, the troops, even when handed over to the tender mercies of the “Foreign General” got through their ordeal very creditably; and, as they shot nobody, and did nothing more irregular than losing their shoes upon the field, the event passed off smoothly and pleasantly, and to the satisfaction of all concerned.

Here we met an old Sikh acquaintance of the road, who informed me that he had taken service under the Maharajah. Next day he paid us a visit, by appointment, and expressed himself highly delighted with his entertainment; smoking and drinking, however, not being lawful in society to the Sikhs, we could do but little in the character of hosts, beyond letting him talk away to his heart’s content, and with as little interruption as possible. He told us his entire life and history, in the worst of English, and we affected to understand the whole of the narration, which, perhaps, was as much as any host could have been called upon to do under the circumstances. The old gentleman’s dress was extremely gorgeous, and contrasted rather strongly with our own woollen shooting-jackets and general exterior. He wore a turban of purest white, entwined in endless folds round a light green skull-cap; his waistcoat was of green velvet, embroidered, and richly bordered with gold. His pyjamas — striped silk of the brightest hue — fitted his little legs as tightly as needle and thread could make them, and his lady-like feet were encased in cotton socks and gold embroidered slippers. Over all this he wore a green and gold silk scarf of voluminous proportions, and of that comprehensive character which an Eastern scarf, and in Eastern hands, alone is capable of assuming. Round his wrists were massive gold bracelets, but of other trinkets he had few; and the enormous ear-rings, so usually worn by his race, were not among them. His long grey beard and almost white moustache were, perhaps, the only ornaments his fine old head required. The last time I had seen him, he was arrayed entirely in scarlet and gold, and he had, no doubt, a large reserve of dresses and jewellery; but, in spite of his tinsel and gilding, he appeared a perfect little Eastern gentleman, and the only one I had met as yet in our travels. After expressing a great desire to open a correspondence with us, which, considering the small number of topics we possessed in common, was rather a strange wish, the old gentleman and his retinue took their leave, and we had seen the last of Beer Singh Bahadur and his glorious apparel.

OCTOBER 1. — Busily employed to-day in packing away our possessions, and making final arrangements for again taking the road.

Paid a visit to Saifula Baba, the shawl merchant, whose dignity was considerably upset by a cold in his head, and bought a few specimens of his trade, though not sufficient to raise his spirits entirely above the influenza. The approaching winter, and the evacuation of the territory by the principal rupee-spending community, seemed a source of great unhappiness to the sun and silver-loving natives.

Their houses seem but badly adapted to keep out cold, and their efforts at heating them are frequently attended by the burning down of a whole nest of their wooden habitations.

Their chief means of artificial warmth seems to be an earthenware jar covered with basket-work, which each native possesses and carries about with him wherever he goes.

This, which is called a Kangree, is filled with charcoal, and, as the Cashmeerians squat down upon the ground, they tuck it under their long clothes, where, until they again rise, it remains hidden from sight, and forms a hot-air chamber under their garments.[32] Among other artists I discovered a native painter, rather an uncommon trade in these parts, from whom I obtained some original designs, illustrating, with uncommon brilliancy, the very common ceremonies of Hindoo and Mahomedan Shadees, or marriage processions, and other manners and customs of native life.

After getting together everything we required for the road, and clearing out the whole of our possessions, much to the inconvenience of several large standing armies of fleas, we finally took our departure in two boats, manned by twelve boatmen, and started for Baramoula, on the road to Muree and the plains.

OCTOBER 2. — After making but little progress during the night, we discovered in the morning that our boats were rather too large for the river, in its present weakly and reduced state. Every ten minutes we found ourselves aground upon the sand and mud, and the cooking boat behind us followed our example, while the river ahead showed no prospect whatever of deepening. The Manjees, under the circumstances performed wonders in the nautical manoeuvring line. Jumping overboard incessantly, they called upon Peer Dustgeer, their favourite patron saint, to aid them in their difficulties, and shrieked and screamed till the whole place resounded with their cries.

Sometimes the saints were stony-hearted, probably not being in a humour to be shouted at, and then the entire body of silky-skinned darkies would set to work, laughing and shouting, to clear away the bar of sand. Their paddles forming in this operation, very effective substitutes for spades and shovels, with much difficulty we reached the lake, and about nine o’clock arrived at Baramoula.

Here the river ceases to be navigable, and abandons itself for a short time to irregular and wanton habits, before finally sowing its wild mountain oats, and becoming the staid and sedate Jhelum of the Plains. Unlike some rivers, the Jhelum contains more water in the middle of summer than at other times. Its principal resources are the snows, and these mighty masses are so wrapped up in their own frigid magnificence that it requires a good deal of warm persuasion from the sun to melt their icy hearts to tears.

OCTOBER 3. — Took the road once more, and started for Muree. Our train was increased by a couple of volunteer native travellers, who were glad of our society in order that they might get clear of the Maharajah’s dominions with as little questioning as possible. Our coolies numbered twenty-six, so that altogether our forces now reached to thirty-eight. After a fine march, we halted at Nowshera, where the dashing river afforded us an exciting swim before breakfast. Coming out of the water, however, I had the ill luck to slip upon a treacherous rock, and, falling heavily on my side, and so over into the rapid stream, had some difficulty in fishing myself out again, and was very near taking an unpleasantly short cut to the Plains. In the evening, when the cook came to inspect the larder for dinner, it was discovered, that, with an unusual want of presence of mind, a newly-killed sheep had been left by mistake in the boats for the benefit of the already overpaid boatmen. This was the third animal we had lost, from various causes, during our travels, and the mishap most seriously affected the success of our dinner arrangements for the day.

OCTOBER 4. — Found great difficulty in getting up this morning after my fall, and still more in walking three miles, which I had to do before finding a pony. The view was beautiful the whole way; but we had been so gorged with scenery of all sorts and kinds, that rugged passes, shady dells, waterfalls, &c., however precious they may become in future recollection, were almost thrown away upon us for the time being. Breakfasted under the pine trees, near an ancient temple, and halted at Uree, where there was a baraduree for travellers. Except, however, to very dirty travellers indeed, it would be of little use. While descending a very steep part of the road, my saddle suddenly slipped over the pony’s round little carcase on to his neck, and, NOLENS VOLENS, I came to the ground, the pony remaining in a position very nearly perpendicular, with his tail towards the heavens and his head between my legs, in which predicament he luckily remained perfectly quiet, until the bhistie, coming up behind, set us both on our proper extremities once more.

OCTOBER 5. — Started for Chukothee, and thinking, in an evil moment, to walk off the effects of my late mishap, I essayed the fifteen miles on foot.

Long before reaching half way, however, I began to look about for anything in the shape of a pony, that might appear in sight; but, none being forthcoming, I was obliged to finish as I had begun, and at last reached our destination, a snug little village, buried in fields of yellow rice upon the hill-side. On the way, I fell in with a fine old Mussulman Zemindar, trudging along on his return to Delhi, from paying a visit to Sirinugger.

Being an unusually talkative old gentleman, we fraternized by the way, and he told me that he had been to see the civil commissioner of his district, now acting as commissioner in the valley, to make his salaam, relative to a “jageer,” or Government grant of certain villages to the amount of some three thousand rupees per annum, which he had succeeded in obtaining on account of his loyalty during the recent mutiny.

Of this three thousand rupees, it appeared that only one thousand would come into his own pocket, the remainder being payable as rent, &c. to Government.

His son had also a jageer of twelve thousand rupees, so that both he and his family were loyal and well to do in the world. His ideas of Cashmere were rather amusing. He appeared to think it a miserable spot enough, compared to his own land, and the only advantage he could hit upon, was, in my estimation, quite the reverse, viz: THAT SIRINUGGER WAS VERY HOT IN THE MIDDLE OF SUMMER.

The rice he had a supreme contempt for. It was not to be compared with the Indian rice, and the Cashmeeries he pooh-poohed, as being no judges whatever of its qualities, and, in fact; not fit to eat rice at all. He seemed quite unable to understand my walking when I could ride; or, indeed, why I should leave such a charming country as India to be uncomfortable in Cashmere, without even having any jageer business to transact as an excuse.

Our coolies, being an unusually miserable crew, we got breakfast about two P.M. To-day our tent lamp finished its erratic life, according to the Dhobie’s account, by self-destruction! That good for nothing piece of charcoal had, however, doubtless dashed the solid cut-glass globe, which formed the chief glory of the instrument, against a rock, while thinking of his hubble bubble, and his little blackamoors at home.

The lamp had got over all the difficulties of the road from Lahore to Ladak and back, and had been quite a peep-show to half the natives of Thibet, who were never tired of regarding their multiplied countenances in the numerous cut circles of the glass shade, so that we felt quite grieved at its melancholy loss. Our water bottle also to-day finished its existence, and the table came into camp a bundle of sticks; so that everything seemed to betoken the approaching dissolution of the expedition. The farm-yard consists of five ducks, all strangers, and a pet sheep, and the khiltas look haggard and dilapidated in the extreme. The musical cock, alone, of old friends still survives, but he appears in weak health, and his constitution is evidently undermined by the changes of climate it has undergone. We were here worried by a party of strolling mountebanks from the Punjab, who persisted in horrifying us by making two young girls and three boys, all apparently entirely destitute of bones, stand upon their heads, and go through similar performances on the grass. The girl actually pattered a measure with her feet upon the back of her head, and the proprietors seemed utterly unable to account for our apathetic disregard of so extremely talented and interesting a performance.

OCTOBER 6. — Left for Hutteian, about fifteen miles off. Ponies being scarce, I had to walk part of the way; but the sepoy, pitching by chance upon our friends, the Punjabees, triumphantly carried off a stout little animal of theirs for my use. Before mounting, however, I was mobbed by the tumbling family, EN MASSE, who went on their knees in their solicitations to be exempt from the seizure of their property. Finding me obdurate in retaining the pony at a fair valuation, with “the army” to bear me out, they proceeded to diplomatic measures to gain their end. First, a very small child, choosing a stony place in the path, suddenly stood upon her head, and proceeded to form black knots with her body. Finding that this only caused me to threaten her father with a stick, they produced a blind girl, who threw herself half naked at my feet and cried by order. The poor creature had lost her sight by the small-pox, and I had remarked her the day before patiently toiling over rocks and broken paths with one little child in her arms, and another half leading, half obstructing her, endeavouring to guide her footsteps down the rocks. She, however, got no immediate benefit from the pony of contention; so, giving her some money to console her in her forced misery, I still remained inexorable. After this, the encampment broke up, with all its pots and pans, cows and fowl, &c. and took to the road, leaving me in undisturbed possession of my new conveyance. The weather began to astonish us a little to-day, by a renewed accession of October heat. Still the climate was delightful. Morning and evenings always cool, and sometimes cold, and a bright cheery blue invariably over head, while a refreshing breeze made music through the pine trees, and waved the golden ears of rice.

Encamped under a spreading sycamore, at the junction of two mountain streams. To-day a new order of bridge appeared, consisting merely of a single rope, the passengers being tugged across in a basket. From its appearance it was rather a matter of congratulation that we were not called upon to cross it.

OCTOBER 7. — Being Sunday, we made a halt, and enjoyed a refreshing bathe in the stream, and a rest from the toils of the road.

OCTOBER 8. — Left “Hutteian,” and, winding along the valley, arrived, by a steep ascent, at Chukar, a little village boasting a fort and a small nest of Sepoys. It also owned a curiously DIRTY, and consequently SAINTLY Fukeer, whom we found sitting bolt upright, newly decorated with ashes, and with an extremely florid collection of bulls, demons, &c. painted about the den he occupied. On the road I again picked up the old Mussulman, who seemed delighted to chat, and gave me an account of the part he had played in the mutiny.

He appeared frequently to have warned his Commissioner that an outbreak was about to take place, but without his crediting the story; and when it actually did occur, the latter fled from his station at Lahore, and took shelter with a friendly Risaldar until the storm should blow over. From thence he sent for the old gentleman, my informant, and “Imam Buksh” forthwith mounted his camel and came with five and twenty armed followers to his assistance. While here, a party of rebels came searching for English, and Mr. Buksh narrated how he went forth to meet them, and proclaimed, that they might kill the Englishman if they would, but must first dispose not only of himself, but also of his five and twenty followers. Upon this they abused him, and asked him, “What sort of a Mussulman he called himself?” and denounced him as a “Feringee,” or foreigner.

The rebels, however, finally went off, and the Commissioner and his family, by Imam Buksh’s further assistance, succeeded in escaping all the dangers of the times. For this service it was that the old gentleman had just received his jageer of two villages, now some years after the occurrence of the events.

He appeared to think very little of the Maharajah’s rule, and was of opinion that the people were miserably oppressed, paying, by his account, two thirds of the produce of their lands to the Government. This was in kind, but, where the revenue was taken in coin, a produce of about fourteen pounds of grain was subject to a tax of two rupees. On the subject of the cause of the mutiny in India, he said that greased cartridges certainly had nothing to do with it; for the rest, why, “It was the will of God, and so it happened.” To induce him to argue on the POSSIBILITY of the mutiny having been successful, I found to be out of the question. “It was the power of God which had prevented the rebels from gaining over us, and, in the name of the Holy Prophet and the twelve Imams, how then could it have been otherwise?” As to the probability, however, of there being another mutiny, he admitted that he thought there would be one, but that, as long as we maintained justice, no other power could hold the country against us. On my asking him if we did not maintain justice in the land, he said no, and adduced the fact that in every case brought before the courts an enormous amount of bribery goes on among the Rishtidars, and other understrappers, whereby the man with most money wins his cause. No Englishman, he thought, could take a bribe, but he seemed to be under the impression that those in authority were aware of the system being carried on by those beneath them. He admitted that he knew of one native who would not take a bribe! and dwelt largely on the subject, as if it were a wonderful fact, which I have no doubt it was.

In the evening we presented Mr. Imam Buksh with some of our sheep, which delighted his heart immensely, and he spent the entire evening in cooking and eating it, together with a perfect mountain of chupatties, which he manufactured with great care and deliberation.

OCTOBER 9. — Left our camp very early, and had a sharp ascent up the mountains. A considerable descent again, brought us to the village of Mehra, where we pitched our tents, once more within sight of the territories of India.

OCTOBER 10. — Marched into Dunna, our last halting-place in Cashmere. It is situated nearly at the summit of the frontier range of hills, and commanded a most extensive view of the mountains of Cashmere and Cabul, besides those on the Indian side.

OCTOBER 11. — Took a last fond glance towards “the valley,” and descended by a very steep and difficult path to the river Jhelum, which forms the boundary between the two territories. Here a couple of queerly-shaped, rudely-constructed boats, with two huge oars apiece, one astern and one at the side, formed the traveller’s flying bridge. Into one of these the whole of our possessions and coolies, &c. were stowed, and we commenced the passage of the stream.

This we managed by, in the first instance, coasting up the bank for several hundred yards, and then striking boldly into the current; and it was amusing to see our well-crammed boat suddenly drawn into the rapid stream and whisked and whirled about like a straw, while a nice calculation on the part of the skipper, and a good deal of rowing and shouting on that of the sailors, enabled us to touch the opposite shore not very far below the point from which we had started. One last lingering look at Cashmerian ground, a step over the side, and we were once more standing upon the territories of Queen Victoria, and in the burning land of India — happily, however, still six days’ journey from the Plains.

OCTOBER 12. — Marched up the spur of the Muree Hill to Dewul, where we found a room in a mud fort converted into a halting-place for travellers, reached by a series of break-neck ladders, and looking very much like a cell in a prison, with its two chairs and clumsy wooden table. Here we found a little amusement in the arrival of the Chota Sahib, or “small gentleman,” — otherwise the Assistant Civil Commissioner of the district, — to review the fort and its dependencies. On the first tidings of his approach, the Thanadar immediately turned out the entire garrison, consisting of twelve military policemen, called “Burqundaz,” or “Flashers of lightning!” These soon appeared in their full dress of crimson turbans and yellow tights, and, shouldering their “flint-locks,” proceeded to perform a series of intricate evolutions, by way of practice for the rapidly-approaching inspection. When the great little man did arrive, there was, we thought, a good deal of irregularity among the troops, such as laughing in the ranks and treading on toes, &c. However, the only point the inspecting officer dwelt upon was the absence of uniformity in dress, caused by the deficiency of two pairs of yellow tights among the lightning flashers, otherwise he appeared perfectly satisfied, and all went off well. After his review he invited himself to our dinner-party, and honoured our repast with the further addition of a kid stew. He turned out to be one of the ex-Company’s officers, a subaltern of eighteen years’ service, FIFTEEN of which had been spent away from his regiment on the staff. He was with his corps, however, when it mutinied, and escaped without much difficulty. The unfortunate colonel of the regiment, finding that none of his men would shoot him, had done so with his own hand. He gave it as his opinion that the cartridges WERE the cause of the mutiny; but allowed that his regiment was in a bad state of discipline some time before, and that all the native corps were known to be disaffected years before the event occurred, both by the officers present and those absent upon staff employ. Altogether, after the Chota Sahib had thoroughly discussed both the mutiny and the dinner, we were left under the impression that there was quite sufficient cause for the disaffection of the Bengal army without ever arriving at the vexed question of greased cartridges at all.

OCTOBER 13. — Marched early into the Hill Station of Muree. Not being yet quite in walking trim, I had pressed a mule into the service, who carried me in good style as far as the entrance to the town. Here, however, he seemed suddenly to remember that we had each a character to support, and, stopping short, he utterly refused to budge another step. Not being willing even to be led, I finally abandoned him to his own devices, and walked on to the Commandant’s bungalow, where I found my companion already hospitably received, and comfortably seated at breakfast, discussing kidneys and beefsteaks, and such like unwonted delicacies of the Muree season.

After getting somewhat over the novelty and discomfort of being again in a house with doors and glass windows, and other inconveniences, we sallied out to inspect the station.

Like its CONFRERES of the Hills — Simla, Kussowlie, &c. Muree was a prettily-situated little settlement, with houses scattered about entirely according to the freaks and fancies of the owners, and with utter disregard of all system whatever. The Mall was a fine one, and its gaily-dressed frequenters, in jhampans and palkees, &c. were of the unmistakeable stamp of Anglo India in the Hills. Two or three of the ladies, however, were bold enough to walk, and looked none the worse for being divorced from their almost inseparable vehicles, and unattended by their motley crowd of red, and green, and variegated bearers.

OCTOBER 14. — Spent a quiet day among the hospitalities of Muree, and became gradually accustomed to CITY LIFE. Going to church seemed rather a strange process, and the building itself was but a bad exchange for the grander temples which we had frequented for so many Sundays.

OCTOBER 15. — Laid our dak by doolie to Lahore, and, with our hospitable entertainer to guide us, started at five P.M. by a short cut, to meet our new conveyances.

Reaching the main road, we once more packed ourselves away in our boxes, and, the sun soon setting his last for us upon the Cashmere mountains, left us to make our way down to the miserable plains as fast as the flaring and spluttering light of a couple of pine torches would allow our bearers to patter along.

From this, until we reach Lahore, we are accompanied by an incessant shuffle shuffle of naked feet through the dusty road; jabbering and shouting of blacks, flickering of torches, bumping of patched and straining doolies against mounds of earth, glimpses of shining naked bodies, streaming with perspiration, as they flit about, and the whole enveloped in dense and suffocating clouds of dust, which penetrate everything and everywhere, and soon become, in fact, a part of one’s living breathing existence; occasionally, outstripping our procession, a vision passes, like the glimmer of a white strip of linen, a stick, and a black and polished body, it rushes by like the wind, and disappears in the gloom of dust and night, and, in a second, her Majesty’s mail has passed us on the road! As we near the plains this vision undergoes a slight change, and takes the form of an apparition of two wild horses tearing away with a red and almost body-less cart; this also goes by like a flash, but gives more notice of its coming, and our torches, for a second, light up the figure of a wild huntsman, with red and streaming turban, who sits behind the steeds and blows a defiant blast at us as he also vanishes into the darkness. About seven miles from Muree, we halted for dinner, and made renewed acquaintance with that interesting object — the Indian roadside chicken.

OCTOBER 16. — Arrived early at Rawul Pindee, and breakfasted at seven, apparently off guttapercha and extract of sloe leaves. On again immediately, and reached Gugerkhan bungalow at seven P.M. hot, apoplectic, and saturated with dust.

The room smells thoroughly of the plains; an odour, as it were, of punkhas, mosquitoes, and mustiness, not to be found elsewhere, and entirely unexplainable to uninitiated sufferers.

The chicken, whose “fate had been accomplished,” died as we entered the yard, and was on the table in the fashion of a warm SPREAD EAGLE in fifteen minutes! After this delicacy is duly discussed, the doolies are emptied of dust, the bedding laid down, and jolt, jolt, creak, creak, grunt, grunt, on we go again, until sleep good-naturedly comes to make us oblivious of all things. The kahars, or bearers, however, take a different view of life, and at every relief a crowd of sniggering darkies assemble, on both sides, with applications for bukshish. At first one hears, “Sahib, Sahib!” in a deprecating tone of voice, mindful of sudden wakings of former Sahibs, sticks, and consequent sore backs, then piu forte, “Sahib!” crescendo, “Sahib, Sahib!” and then at last, in a burst of harmony, “Sahib purana Baira kutch bukshish mil jawe?”[33] and the miserable doolie traveller, who has been, probably, feigning sleep in sulky savageness for the last ten minutes, makes a sudden dive through the curtains with a stick, an exclamation is heard very like swearing, only in a foreign language, and the troop of applicants vanish like a shot, keeping up, however, a yelping of Sahibs, and Purana Bairas, and Bukshishs, until the new bearers get fairly under weigh, and have carried their loads beyond hearing. None but those who have been woken up in this manner from a comfortable state of unconsciousness, to the full realities of doolie travelling in Indian heat and dust, can form an idea of the trial it is to one’s temper; and, from my own feelings, together with the sounds I hear from my companion’s direction, I can testify as to the relief that the use of foreign expletives affords under the affliction.

OCTOBER 17. — Arrived at Jhelum about eight A.M. to all intents and purposes dust inside and out. Flesh and blood can stand no more for the present, and we resolve to halt here for the day. The weather appears quite as hot as when we started, and the wind comes in, hot and dry, and makes one feel like a herring of the reddest; while an infernal punkha is creaking its monotonous tune, as it flaps to and fro in the next room, making one again realize to the full, “the pleasures of the plains.” We begin, in fact, to discover that the thorns which were not forthcoming on the Cashmere roses are too surely to be found elsewhere.

OCTOBER 18. — Reached Goojerat at cock-crow; thus completing a distinct circle of travel through Bimber, Sirinugger, Ladak, Kushtwar, Muree, and back to our present halting-place, from whence we had originally branched off.

OCTOBER 19. — A dusty night’s work brought us at two A.M. to Goojerwala. Here we found that there was no bungalow between us and Lahore, and, consequently, no chance of either a wash or breakfast should we go on; we therefore chose loss of time in preference to loss of breakfast, with the addition of a day under a broiling sun, and halted until the authorities should awake to feed us.

OCTOBER 20. — Reached Lahore before sunrise, and got our letters and papers from the post once more. Afterwards we laid our dak for Cawnpore, and made all arrangements for a start in the evening.

OCTOBER 21. — Arrived at Umritsur about three A.M., and remained in our coaches until sunrise, when we set off for a stroll through the city. This we found the cleanest, if not the only clean, town we had seen since landing in India. The streets were well drained and built, and were guarded by a force of yellow-legged, red-turbaned Punjabee policemen, who were provided, like their brother blue-bottles at home, with staves and rattles instead of the more usual insignia of sword and shield. The houses were almost all decorated, outside and in, with grotesque mythological and other paintings, such as Vishnu annihilating Rakshus, or demons of various kinds, or wonderful battle-pieces, wherein pale-faced, unhealthy-looking people, in tailed coats and cocked hats, might be seen performing prodigies of valour, assisted by bearded and invincible Sikh warriors of ferocious exterior. The shops were built with verandahs, and the piazza character of some of the streets, in conjunction with the unusual cleanliness, gave one a very agreeable impression of Umritsur and its municipal corporation, whoever that body may be. The inhabitants are principally Sikhs, fine-looking men generally, with long beards turned up at either side of their faces, and knotted with their hair under the voluminous folds of their turbans.

OCTOBER 22. — Out at four A.M. to explore the great durbar, or head-quarters of the Sikh religion in the Punjab. Entering through a highly decorated archway in the kotwalee, or police station, we came upon an enormous tank, with steps descending into the water on all sides, and planted around with large and shady trees. In the centre of this rose the temple of the Sikhs, a light-looking, richly-gilt edifice, the lower part of which was constructed of inlaid stones upon white marble. From this to one side of the tank, a broad causeway led, decorated with handsome railings, and lamps of gilt-work upon marble pedestals. Along this, crowds of people were passing to and fro, arrayed in every possible variety of costume and colour. Sikhs, Hindoos, Mussulmen — men, women, and children, crowded together like bees in a hive. Round the edges of the tank were handsome buildings, minarets, &c. with trees and gardens attached to them; and that, towards the causeway, was divided in two by a fine and richly-decorated archway, in the upper part of which a party of patriarchal old Sikhs were squatted on their haunches, discoursing the affairs of the nation. This whole scene opened upon our view at a glance. The sun had as yet scarcely appeared over the horizon, and the reflection of its light shone faintly upon the gold-work and ornaments of the central building, tipping it and the lofty minarets with rosy light, whilst the rest of the buildings remained shrouded in the morning haze. With the incessant bustle of the thronging, brightly-vestured crowd, and the accompaniment of the wild discordant tom-toming of a band of turbaned musicians, it formed a scene which almost persuaded one to put once more confidence in the brightly-coloured descriptions of the “Arabian Nights.” While waiting for sun-rise, we ascended one of the minarets, from which we had a curious bird’s-eye view of the tank and surrounding city at our feet, while the plains lay stretching away before us; the horizon level and unbroken, as if it bounded in the ocean. From this we had also a private view of the manners and customs of the natives. Just below us was an early morning scene in the life of a Sikh gentleman. He was sitting up in his “four-leg,” on the open court of an upper story, which formed his bed-room, while his attendants were offering him his morning cup of coffee, and otherwise attending to his wants. In one corner, another Sikh gentleman, with one arm, was having a brass vessel of water poured over him, and a number of similar vessels stood upon a sort of rack, ready for the master of the house to have his bath.

Scattered about the foot of the bed, which had a grandly decorated canopy, was a deputation of white-robed Sikhs paying their morning visit, or having an audience upon some matter of business. These by degrees got up and went out, each making a profound salaam as he passed the bed. One of them only, the old man called back, and with him, as he sat upon the “four-leg,” he had a long and confidential talk. This evidently was the medical adviser, and, judging by the dumb-show of the interview which ensued, the Sikh, as evidently, was the victim of a cold in his fine old nose, which he had doubtless caught from sleeping in the open air. After this we repaired to the kotwallee again, and, getting a pair of slippers in exchange for our boots, descended to the durbar and mingled with the crowd.

Although we were inadmissible in boots, no objection whatever appeared to be made to the entrance of Brahminee bulls; for we found a number of them walking about the mosaic pavement with as much confidence and impunity as if the place belonged to them.

In the building we found a collection of Sikh padres, or “gooroos,” sitting behind a massive volume richly cased in cloth of gold and silver, while squatted around under a canopy, were the Sikh faithful, offering their presents of cowries, chupatties, balls of sweetmeats, and showers of yellow and white necklaces of flowers. The book was the original law of Gooroo Gurunth Sahib, which they had just finished reading, and, as we entered, they were commencing to cover it up again, which they did, with great pomp and ceremony, in a number of cloths of various patterns, after which they distributed the votive offerings among themselves and the people present, and held a sort of banquet over the sweets and flowers. In the midst of the proceedings, a very fine specimen of the race of Fukeer came in, and presenting an offering of the smallest, laid his head upon the ground before the book, and, without a word, took himself off again. He was girt round the loins with a yellowish-red cloth; his body, from head to foot, was covered with ashes. The hair of his head was matted together in strips, like the tail of an uncared cow, and reached to his waist. A shallow earthen pot was his hat, and over his shoulders hung two large gourds, suspended by a cord, while in his hand he carried a long staff, covered over with stuff of the same kind as that round his waist. Such was the figure which entered among the gaily-dressed multitude in the saintly durbar; and, although to the assembled people there appeared nothing whatever either strange or unusual in the arrival, to us, who were looking on, the contrast between the unclad dirty mendicant, and the pure white vestments of the Sikhs around, rendered it a most striking and remarkable apparition.

On entering, he had removed the earthen pot which formed his hat, and, one of the two gourds which were round his shoulders having fallen to the ground in the act, it was amusing to see him pause for a second, and anxiously examine whether any compound fracture had taken place in the precious article of his very limited dinner service. One extremity of the building we found was occupied for Hindoo worship; so that fraternity and equality, worthy of imitation seems to be the order of the day among the religions of Umritsur. The interior was richly decorated with gilding and mirrors, &c., but was little worthy of remark in comparison with the richness of the exterior effect. Presenting a “bukshish” to the expectant padres who guarded the sacred book, we left them to their devotions, and betook ourselves once more to our bungalow.

OCTOBER 23. — Travelling all night, we reached Jullunder at six A.M., and, after breakfast, again started for Loodianah, where we dined. We here again crossed the Sutlej, but, the water being low, boat navigation was dispensed with, and a shaky bridge, and about two miles of sandy river-bed, completed the passage.

At Loodianah we were stormed by a host of merchants, with pushmeena and other soft matters, who were rather disappointed at finding we had come from the birth-place of such like manufactures. Some of the local shawls, however, or “Rampore chudders,” were beautifully fine and delicate, and seemed worthy of inspection.

OCTOBER 24. — Reached Umballa at eight A.M., and started again shortly after. Our horses to-day were most miserable caricatures, and it was with difficulty we managed to progress at all. The last stage was accomplished at a walk; and what with this and the delay caused by a couple of sandy river-beds, we only reached Kurnaul at ten P.M. The miserable condition of the horses was accounted for by the enormously high price of grain and the absence of grass, in consequence of the want of rain. The general topic, in fact, is now the failure of the rains, and consequent apprehensions of a famine throughout the land. “Atar” is here eight seers the rupee, or in other words, flour sells at one shilling and ninepence a stone — an enormous price in these parts.

OCTOBER 25. — Sunrise found us still half-way to Delhi, and we stopped to breakfast at the little bungalow of Ghureekulla. Here we found a fine old Khansaman, who gave us an account of the incidents of the Mutiny which came under his notice. He had received a flying party of two hundred men, women, and children, who arrived at dead of night, some on horses, some on foot, and all worn and haggard by their march from Delhi, from which they had escaped. These he took care of, and supplied with food until the following day, when they departed, without, by his own account, giving him anything, either as pay or reward. He afterwards assisted others also, and received about one hundred and twenty rupees, one way or another, for his services. At present he receives six rupees a month, with whatever he can pick up from travellers; not a very large amount in the out-of-the-way little jungle station of Ghureekulla.

OCTOBER 26. — Passed through Delhi by moonlight, and reached the bungalow at one A.M. At gun-fire we emerged from our locomotives, and went to explore the king’s palace. In spite of the late lesson on the subject of sepoys, we found the gates of the fort held entirely by native guards, and a very small body of Europeans located within the walls. After rambling through the place, and discovering that its only beauty lay at present in its exterior, we went to the Jama Musjid, a fine mosque of red granite, inlaid in parts with white marble. The cupolas, of great size, were entirely marble, and the minarets, also of marble, were closely inlaid. The place had been only recently handed over to the Moslems after its late seizure, and was not as yet used for worship. Ascending one of the minarets, we had a fine view of the city of the Great Mogul dynasty, with its minarets and ornamented streets; and in the distance we could discern the positions occupied by our besieging force, when the last of the kings was brought so rudely to the termination of his reign.

OCTOBER 27. — Reached Koel, or Allyghur, at eight A.M. Started again at five, stopping on the way to inspect the Jama Musjid, and a very fine old tower, probably of Buddhist or Jain origin, which was covered over with ancient inscriptions. Just as the Muezzin was calling to evening prayer, we again resumed our monotonous order of travel, and branched off towards Agra to visit the famous Taj Mahul.

OCTOBER 28. — Reached Agra at two A.M., and finding the bungalow full, had to go to the hotel. At sunrise we drove out to the Taj, and here, I think, for the first time, we were not disappointed in the difference between reality and description. The entrance to the gardens in which the Taj is situated was beautiful in itself, but one sight of the main building left no room for admiration of anything besides.

It is situated on the banks of the Jumna, with a fine view of the magnificent fort, with its mosque and minarets, and is entirely of pure white marble, inlaid with stones into shapes of flowers and arabesques, &c. At each corner rises a white marble minaret, like a pillar of snow, beautifully decorated and carved, but unsullied by a single line of any other colour whatever. The interior is profusely inlaid with minute stones of considerable value, and is lit by carved marble windows of the most beautiful design imaginable. In the centre, surrounding the tomb of Mumtaz and her lord, is a marvellous white marble screen, in the form of a polygon, carved like perforated ivory, and also inlaid with minute stones of every shape and colour.[34] The queen, in whose honour the tomb was built, occupies the very centre of the enclosure, Shah Jehan’s tomb being on one side of it, and larger in size, which rather spoils the symmetry of the space.

Exactly underneath the tombs, in the main body of the building, one descends to a marble vault, where there are two others precisely similar in shape, but without any inscription or ornament whatever, and under these latter the mortal remains of the famous Shah Jehan and Mumtaz repose in peace. Over the queen’s tomb, in the very centre of the interior, a single ostrich egg was suspended by an almost invisible thread, probably to shadow forth something of the meaning of the “Resurgam” affixed to monuments elsewhere. On either side, without the mausoleum, are two buildings facing inwards, one of which is a mosque, built in red granite and white marble; and the whole are profusely ornamented with carvings in marble, which would take an age to examine thoroughly, and which produce an effect quite incapable of being adequately portrayed by either pen or pencil.

In one of these edifices, among the inlaid work and arabesques, and not far from the mortal remains of the departed King and Queen, we found a curious and interesting inscription, which seems to have been hitherto unmentioned by the many travellers who have visited the sacred spot. It was prominently placed and easily decipherable, being in unusually large letters, and in that character which might be called the “UNEIFORM,” of which so many valuable specimens exist in all parts of the known globe.

It ran thus : —


The sentence appeared unfinished, and one or two words were probably required to complete the sense, but from similar existing records there could be no difficulty in filling in the missing syllables.

It was curious, however, to reflect what the feeling could have been that stayed the writer’s hand, and prevented him from finishing his graceful tribute to the mighty dead.

Mumtaz, from whose name the word “Taj” is derived (the letter “z” being incapable of being pronounced by many natives except as a “j”),was the daughter of the famous Noor Jehan’s brother Asoph Khan. Shah Jehan followed his queen in A.D. 1665, and was laid in the building which he had himself originally designed in her honour alone.

With Noor Jehan and Jehangeer the case was reversed. The conqueror of the world ended his career in A.D. 1627, and the partner of all his Cashmerian wanderings, and many adventures, who wore no colour but white after his death, finally rejoined him in a tomb which she had raised to his memory at Lahore.

Having paid due homage to the beauty of the far-famed mausoleum, we went to the Fort, and, after visiting the Ram Bagh, the Ikmam Dowlah, and the various palaces built by Akbar Shah, once more took the road, and were soon again galloping through the dust, morning bringing us to the bungalow of Bewah. From this we again made for Ghoorsahagunge and Cawnpore, and by rail to Allahabad, there completing a circuit of travel extending to between two and three thousand miles:

“In heat and cold
We’d roved o’er many a hill and many a dale, Through many a wood and many an open ground, In sunshine and in shade, in wet and fair, Thoughtful or blithe of heart as might befall Our best companions, now the driving winds, And now the trotting brooks and whispering trees, And now the music of our own quick steps With many a short-lived thought that passed between And disappeared.”

And now but one day more remains of our six months’ leave. The 31st of October sees us again fairly in the hands of the authorities. Brothers in arms, who during our absence have been having “all work and no play,” receive us with warm and disinterested welcome. The Q.M.G. is hauled away in triumph by a swarm of fellow black-legs to glad the squaw-like partner of his sooty bosom. The last remnants of the expedition are fairly broken up, and already the days when we went gipsying have passed away “a long time ago.”


Cawnpore 120
Ghoorsahagunge 72
Etawah 73
Kurga 72
Delhi 51
Kurnaul 73
Umballa 45
Kalka 40
Kussowlie 9
Simla 40
Hureepore 20
Kalka 29
Umballa 40
Thikanmajura 36
Jullundur 61
Umritsur 59
Lahore 35
Gugerwalla 39
Goojerat 30
Bimber 27
Serai Saidabad 12
Nowshera 11
Chungas 11
Rajaori 12
Thanna 12
Burrumgulla 11
Poshana 6
Peer Punjal 9
Poshana 9
Aliabad 11
Heerpore 13
Shupayon 6
Ramoon 9
Sirinugger 14
Wuler by water
Islamabad ,,
Atchabull 6
Vernagh 11
Islamabad 15
Sirinugger by water
Gunberbull ,,
Kungur 11
Gundisursing 12
Soonamurg 14
Foot of the Hills 9
Pandras 24
Dras 8
Tusgam 14
Chungun 12
Pushkoom 10
Waka 13
Khurboo 10
Lamieroo 12
Nurila 16
Suspul 14
Egnemo 10
Ladak 18
Chunga 18
Hemis 2
Ladak 20
Pitok 4
Egnemo 14
Suspul 10
Nurila 14
Lamieroo 16
Khurboo 12
Waka 10
Pushkoom 13
Thambis 14
Sankoo 16
Sooroo 12
Among the Mountains 11
Ditto 14
Sucknez 11
Bragnion 14
Peer 16
Nowbogh 9
Kukunath 10
Atchabull 8
Islamabad 6
Sirinugger by water
Baramoula ,,
Nowshera 8
Uree 15
Chukothee 15
Hutteian 14
Chukar 9
Mehra 6
Dunna 6
Puttun 6
Dewul 9
Muree 11
Rawul Pindee 37
Gugerkhan 30
Jhelum 37
Goojerat 31
Gugerwalla 30
Lahore 39
Umritsur 35
Jullundur 59
Loodiana 32
Umballa 71