S. M. Edwardes

About half a mile westward of the town of Junnar there rises from the plain a colossal hill, the lower portion whereof consists of steep slopes covered with rough grass and a few trees, and the upper part of two nearly perpendicular tiers of scarped rock, surmounted by an undulating and triangular-shaped summit. The upper tier commences at a height of six hundred feet from the level of the plain and, rising another 200 feet, extends dark and repellant round the entire circumference of the hill.

The scene of her earliest memories was a small room with spotless floor-cloth, the windows whereof looked out upon the foliage of "ber" and tamarind. During the day a black-bearded man would recline upon the cushions, idly fondling her and calling her "Piyari" ( dearest); and at night a pretty young woman would place her in a brightly-painted "jhula" (swinging-cot) and sing her to sleep. Then the scene changes. He of the black beard is away, and the form of the beloved lies stark beneath a white sheet while mysterious women folk go to and fro within the house.

It was quite evident that something was seriously wrong with Abdulla the Dhobi. His features had lost their former placidity and wore an aspect of troubled wonder; the clothes which he erstwhiles washed and returned to their owners with such regularity were now brought back long after the proper date and occasionally were not returned at all; and the easy good temper which once characterized his conversation had yielded place to sudden outbursts of anger or protracted spells of sulkiness.

Wander down one of the greatest arteries of the city and you will perhaps notice on the east side of the street a double-storied house bearing all the appearance of prolonged neglect and decay. Enter the low door and take a sharp turn to the right and you will find yourself at length on an ill- smelling landing with a creaking ladder-like staircase in one corner, enveloped from top to bottom in darkness so profound that one can almost conjure up visions of sudden death from the assassin's dagger.

Fifty-six miles to the north of Poona lies the old town of Junner, which owing to its proximity to the historic Nana Ghat was in the earliest times an important centre of trade. As early as 100 years before the birth of Christ, the Nana Pass was one of the chief highways of trade between Aparantaka or the Northern Konkan and the Deccan; and although the steep and slippery nature of the ascent must have prevented cart-traffic, the number of pack-bullocks and ponies that were annually driven upwards towards the cooler atmosphere and richer soil of Junner must have been considerable.

Nearly all the Mahomedan inhabitants of Bombay observe as a general picnic day the last Wednesday of the month of 'Safar' which is known as 'Akhiri Char Shamba' or 'Chela Budh'; for on this day the Prophet, convalescent after a severe illness, hied him to a pleasance on the outskirts of Mecca.

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