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IN some parts of the East, and especially
in the Island of Ceylon, there are many old
customs which the progress of civilisation has
not as yet cast away; and happily so, for
they serve to keep up a kind and friendly
feeling between the different classes and
races of those countries. One of these time-
honoured customs is the presence of European
or burgher employers at the weddings or
family festivals of their Cingalese servants;
who never omit inviting their masters and
families on such occasions. Being a guest of
an old resident of Colombo, I received an
invitation to be present at the nuptials of his
head cook, a Cingalese of good ancestry, who
it appeared was to be united to the ayah or
waiting-maid of a neighbour. They were both
Catholics; and, as such, were to be married
at one of the churches with which the native
section of the town abounds. From some
cause, my host could not attend on the eventful
day. I was, therefore, left to make my
way alone to the happy scene, which I learnt
lay at some distance from our bungalow, at
the further end of the long straggling

Noon was the appointed time; the Church
of Saint Nicholas the place; and in order
that I might examine the locality I was about
to visit, and which was entirely new to me,
I left my quarters soon after our breakfast
of rice and curry. It was a truly tropical
day: the sea-breeze had not commenced to
blow, and the cool land-wind had been fairly
done up an hour since. In mercy to the
horse and the runner by his side, I ordered
the man to drive slowly. The sky seemed hot
and copperytoo warm to look blue; and the
great orb of light and heat had a sort of
lacquered hue that was oppressive in the
extreme. Round the Great Lake, past the
dry, stagnant, putrid fort-ditch, into that part
of the Black Town known as Sea Street. How
different from the quiet, broad Dutch streets,
or the cool shady lanes and their fine old
burgher mansions! Here all was dust, and
dirt, and heat. A dense crowd of people, of
almost all the nations of the East, was passing
to and fro, not, as with us, along the
pavementfor there was no footwaybut horses,
bullocks, carriages, donkeys, and human
beings all hurried along pell-mell: Arabs,
Moormen, Chinese, Parawas, Cingalese,
Kandyans, Malays, Chitties, Parsees, and many
others, were jostling each other in strange
confusion. I shuddered as I beheld a brace
of overheated bullocks, in an empty cart, rush
madly past me into the midst of a whole host
of men, women, and children; but, strange
to tell, no one seemed any the worse: there
was, to be sure, a little rubbing of shins, and
a good deal of Oriental swearing on the
occasion, but no more. A vicious horse
broke away from his Arab leader, and dashed
across the street, and down a narrow turning,
where women and children seemed to be
literally paving the way; the furious animal
bounded over and amongst the living
pavement, knocking down children of tender
years, and scattering elderly females right
and left, but still harmlessly. I felt puzzled
at this, but concluded that they were "used
to it."

The thronged street, along which I was
slowly travelling, appeared to be the only
thoroughfare of any length, shape, or breadth.
From it diverged, on all sides, hundreds of
dwarf carriage-waysturnings that had been
lanes in their younger days. They were like
the Maze at Hampton Court, done in mud and
masonry. I have often heard of crack skaters
cutting out their names upon the frozen
Serpentine; and, as I peeped up some of these
curious zigzag places, it seemed as though the
builders had been actuated by a similar desire,
and had managed to work their names and
pedigrees in huts, and verandahs, and dwarf-
walls. Into these strange quarters few, if any,
Europeans ever care to venture; the sights
and the effluvia are such as they prefer
avoiding, with the thermometer standing at
boiling-point in the sun. Curiosity, however,
got the better of my caution; and, descending
from my vehicle, I leisurely strolled up one of
those densely-packed neighbourhoods, much
to the annoyance of my horsekeeper, who tried
hard, in broken English, to dissuade me from
the excursion. Whether it be that the native
families multiply here more rapidly, in dark
and foul places, I know not; but never had I
seen so many thrown together in so small a
space. Boys and girls abounded in every
corner. As I passed up this hot, dusty, crooked
lane of huts, the first burst of the cool sea-