+ ~ -
Please report pronunciation problems here. Select and sample other voices. Options Pause Play
Report an Error

solemn business of our good-bye; and when
the horsewhich, like the vehicle, was rather
strong than elegantwas quite ready to drag
me from the sight of household faces, I
ascended to my lair upon the cushions, over
which some kind packer had thrown a royai
or coloured quilt, and which was further
furnished with a set of carefully adjusted
pillows. More last words and the horse had
started; but there was a brief stoppage
a little mouth, that never kept a secret, rose
above a port-hole, to announce to me the
name of the maker of a mysterious and
magnificent crotchet nightcap that was spread
out in all its glory on the shelf. It was too
splendid to be wornas somebody perhaps
thought, when he stole it near the journey's

Really off; out of sight of the old house,
and traversing familiar streets. Down the
broad, busy thoroughfare that traverses the
native town, or the iron bridge, out of
Calcutta, and upon the Barrackpore road, with
its fifteen miles of noble avenue. The first
milestone;—and the calculation was exceedingly comforting that I had got over a thousandth
part of my journey; at the second
milestone I had finished a five-hundredth,
and that sounded like progress: almost like
having got half-way. At the fifth milestone
we had turned the thousandth into a two-
hundredth part of the whole distance. My
courage rose. Here was quick progresswe
should soon be at the journey's end.

It was needful that my courage should rise
rapidly, for I had work to do that called for
all my energies. Calcutta streets I had
heard much abused, and of the Barrackpore
Road there were incessant laudations in the
town. Now, I began to prefer a bad street
to a good road. All had gone smoothly with
me in the city; but, upon the road; affairs
within the Dawk assumed a troubled aspect.
Bottles began to clash together, a violent
assault was made upon the tea-things by a
heavy canister of biscuits, and I felt in my
domain like an Emperor within whose realms
a revolution had sprung up. There was
need that I should devote my whole mind,
and my whole physical force, to its suppression.
I re-adjusted, re-arranged, marshalled,
imprisoned, and bound the elements of all the
strife, and restored order by giving a new
constitution to the rebels, carefully removing
any articles that were a cause of
strife, and substituting others. The refractory
biscuit could be subjugated only by
keeping it firm under foot, and I found it
requisite to lay a heavy hand upon other
causes of contention; until, by the course of
time and the decrease of disturbing cause, as
the road proved better than its early promise,
there was an end put to the jarring and
confusion. The first horse completed his stage
of six miles and a fraction very conscientiously;
but then he was the show-horse of
the hundred and fifty I was yet destined to
be drawn by. He was the horse upon whom
the Dawk Company relied for the maintenance
of its respectability before the eyes of
the Calcutta public. Horse number two was
a very different looking quadruped. He
made considerable difficulty about starting,
but once off, he went well. I recorded him
in my note book as slow and sure; but his
pace was six miles an hour, and before my
journey was at an end, I learnt to put down
the same rate of travel as in the highest
degree rapid and satisfactory.

So we trotted along the Barrackpore Road
against a pretty steady stream of men, cattle
and carriages setting in towards Calcutta.
We also passed a few stragglers outward-
bound;—some making for the cantonments,
others with forage elephants so laden with
leafy boughs that they looked like sublime
Jacks in the Green. A third horse brought
us to the bank of the Hooghly, which we
crossed upon a clumsy ferry-boat. That was
a work of time. The first four or five rivers
which intersect the path of the Grand Trunk
Road have not yet been bridged.

My journey was made at the beginning of
the rainy season, and my clothes were on the
roof of the Dawk, duly protected in a couple
of pitarrahs. A pitarrah is a deep, square,
tin box, commonly painted green, with a
pyramidal lid, from which rain runs off
instantly, and standing like a haystack on
a wooden frame, with wooden legs. No
conscientious artist will make a pitarrah of any
other than the shape and pattern sanctioned
by long custom. The tin box is jacketed in
yellow wax cloth. Changes of clothes, to
suit all changes of weather, I had ready
within the Dawk, with a variety of hats
and caps varying between a Fez night-cap
or a wide-awake, and the best beaver which
was to be worn on state occasions when I got
to Delhi. There were also Delhi boots, old
road shoes, and Dawk slippers. There were,
within my dominions, books, pens, ink, sketch
books, a note book, sardines, biscuits, brandy,
ginger-bread nuts, tea, sugar, water bottles,
lozenges, lucifers, pistols (presented by a
nervous friend), a telescope, a lamp, a knife,
a hammer, a riding-whip, and a bag of coin
forming a help yet more likely to make the
mare to go.

Over the Hooghly, and for several stages
on. We crossed the creek of the Muggra
by means of a ricketty wooden bridge, a
disgrace to the Government. My attention was
particularly called to it by the fact that I
paid there a toll of one rupee, the only toll
upon the line.

I had expected rain according to the
season, though the day was glorious; and
having spent some time in the fortification
of my ark, looked forward as anxiously to
the first downpour, as a young mariner who
has read up his law of storms looks for a trial
of his skill in predicting from the barometer
the first hurricane. The storm came just as