The railways of India are many and long and useful, but still very primitive in their appointments, having been built for utility and convenience, and not for comfort. The day will come, I suppose, when modern improvements will be introduced, and the long journeys which are necessary to reach any part of the vast empire will be made as pleasant and luxurious as transcontinental trips in the United States. Just now, however, the equipment is on a military basis of simplicity and severity. Passengers are furnished with what they need, and no more. They are hauled from one place to another at reasonable rates of speed; they are given shelter from the sun and the storms en route; a place to sit in the daytime and to lie down during the night; and at proper intervals the trains stop for refreshments - not very good nor very bad, but "fair to middling," as the Yankees say, in quality and quantity. If a traveler wants anything more he must provide it himself. People who live in India and are accustomed to these things are perfectly satisfied with them, although the tourist who has just arrived is apt to criticise and condemn for the first few days.

Every European resident of India who is accustomed to traveling by train has an outfit always ready similar to the kit of a soldier or a naval officer. It is as necessary as a trunk or a bag, an overcoat or umbrella, and consists of a roll of bedding, with sheets, blankets and pillows, protected by a canvas cover securely strapped and arranged so that when he wants to retire he need only unbuckle the straps and unroll the blankets on the bunk in the railway carriage. He also has a "tiffin basket," with a tea pot, an alcohol lamp, a tea caddy, plates and cups of granite ware, spoons, knives and forks, a box of sugar, a tin of jam, a tin of biscuits or crackers, and other concomitants for his interior department in case of an emergency; and, never having had anything better, he thinks the present arrangement good enough and wonders why Americans are dissatisfied. Persons of ordinary common sense and patience can get used to almost anything, and after a day or two travelers trained to the luxury of Pullman sleepers and dining cars adjust themselves to the primitive facilities of India without loss of sleep or temper, excepting always one condition: You are never sure "where you are at," so to speak. You never know what sort of accommodations you are going to have. There is always an exasperating uncertainty as to what will be left for you when the train reaches your place of embarkation.

Sleeping berths, such as they are, go free with first and second class tickets and every traveler is entitled to one bunk, but passengers at intermediate points cannot make definite arrangements until the train rolls in, no matter whether it is noonday or 2 o'clock in the morning. You can go down and appeal to the station master a day or two in advance and advise him of your wants and wishes, and he will put your name down on a list. If you are so fortunate as to be at the starting place of the train he will assign you a bunk and slip a card with your name written upon it into a little slot made for the purpose; the other bunks in the compartment will be allotted to Tom, Dick and Harry in the same manner. There are apartments reserved for ladies, too, but if you and your wife or family want one to yourselves you must be a major general, or a lieutenant governor, or a rajah, or a lord high commissioner of something or other to attain that desire. If they insist upon being exclusive, ordinary people are compelled to show as many tickets as there are bunks in a compartment, and the first that come have the pick, as is perfectly natural. The fellow who enters the train later in the day must be satisfied with Mr. Hobson's choice, and take what is left, even if it doesn't fit him. It the train is full, if every bunk is occupied, another car is hitched on, and he gets a lower, but this will not be done as long as a single upper is vacant. And the passengers are packed away as closely as possible because the trains are heavy and the engines are light, and the schedules must be kept in the running. A growler will tell you that he never gets a lower berth, that he is always crowded into a compartment that is already three-fourths occupied with passengers who are trying to sleep, but he forgets that they have more than he to complain of, and if he is a malicious man he can find deep consolation in the thought and make as great a nuisance of himself as possible. I do not know how the gentler sex behave under such circumstances, but I have heard stories that I am too polite to repeat.

There is no means of ventilation in the ceiling, but there is a frieze of blinds under it, along both sides of the car, with slats that can be turned to let the air in directly upon the body of the occupant of the upper berth, who is at liberty to elect whether he dies of pneumonia or suffocation. The gentleman in the lower berth has a row of windows along his back, which never fit closely but rattle like a snare drum, and have wide gaps that admit a forced draught of air if the night is damp or chilly. If it is hot the windows swell and stick so that you cannot open them, and during the daytime they rattle so loud that conversation is impossible unless the passengers have throats of brass like the statues of Siva. In India, during the winter season, there is a wide variation in the temperature, sometimes as much as thirty or forty degrees. At night you will need a couple of thick blankets; at noonday it is necessary to wear a pith helmet or carry an umbrella to protect the head from the sun, and as people do their traveling in the dry season chiefly, the dust is dreadful. Everything in the car wears a soft gray coating before the train has been in motion half an hour.

The bunks are too narrow for beds and too wide for seats. The act of rolling over in the night is attended with some danger and more anxiety, especially by the occupants of the upper berths. In the daytime you can sit on the edge like an embarrassed boy, with nothing to support your spine, or you can curl up like a Buddha on his lotus flower, with your legs under you; but that is not dignified, nor is it a comfortable posture for a fat man. Slender girls can do it all right; but it is impracticable for ladies who have passed the thirty-third degree, or have acquired embonpoint with their other graces. Or you can shove back against the windows and let your feet stick out straight toward the infinite. It isn't the fault of a railway corporation or the master mechanic of a car factory if they don't reach the floor. It is a defect for which nature is responsible. President Lincoln once said every man's legs ought to be long enough to reach the ground.

The cars are divided into two, three, or four compartments for first-class passengers, with a narrow little pen for their servants at the end which is absolutely necessary, because nobody in India travels without an attendant to wait upon him. His comfort as well as his social position requires it, and few have the moral courage to disregard the rule. To make it a little clearer I will give you a diagram sketched by your special artist on the spot.

This is an excellent representation of a first-class railway carriage in India without meretricious embellishments.

The second-class compartments, for which two-thirds of the first-class rates are charged, have six narrow bunks instead of four, the two extras being in the middle supported by iron rods fastened to the floor and the ceiling. The woodwork of all cars, first, second, and third class, is plain matched lumber, like our flooring, painted or stained and varnished. The floor is bare, without carpet or matting, and around on the wall, wherever there is room for them, enormous hooks are screwed on. Over the doors are racks of netting. The bunks are plain wooden benches, covered with leather cushions stuffed with straw and packed as hard as tombstones by the weight of previous passengers. The ceiling is of boards pierced with a hole for a glass globe, which prevents the oil dripping upon your bald spot from a feeble and dejected lamp. It is too dim to read by and scarcely bright enough to enable you to distinguish the expression upon the lineaments of your fellow passengers. A scoop net of green cloth on a wire springs back over the light to cover it when you want to sleep: Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. The toilet room is Spartan in its simplicity, and the amount of water in the tanks depends upon the conscientiousness of a naked heathen of the lowest caste, who walks over the roofs of the cars and is supposed to fill them from a pig skin suspended on his back. You furnish your own towel and the most untidy stranger in the compartment usually wants to borrow it, having forgotten to bring one himself. You acquire merit in heaven, as the Buddhists say, by loaning it to him, but it is a better plan to carry two towels, in order to be prepared for such an emergency.

As we were about starting upon a tour that required several thousand miles of railway travel and several weeks of time, the brilliant idea of avoiding an risks and anxiety by securing a private car was suggested, and negotiations were opened to that purpose, but were not concluded because of numerous considerations and contingencies which arose at every interview with the railway officials. They are not accustomed to such innovations and could not decide upon their own terms or ascertain, during the period before departure, what the connecting lines would charge us. There are private cars fitted up luxuriously for railway managers and high officials of the government, but they couldn't spare one of them for so long a time as we would need it. Finally somebody suggested a car that was fitted out for the Duke and Duchess of Connaught when they came over to the Durbar at Delhi. It had two compartments, with a bathroom, a kitchen and servants' quarters, but only three bunks. They kindly offered to let us use it provided we purchased six first-class tickets, and were too obtuse to comprehend why we objected to paying six fares for a car that could not possibly admit more than three people. But that was only the first of several issues. At the next interview they decided to charge us demurrage at the rate of 16 cents an hour for all the time the car was not in motion, and, finally, at the third interview, the traffic manager said it would be necessary for us to buy six first-class tickets in order to get the empty car back to Bombay, its starting point, at the end of our journey. This brought the charges up to a total as large as would be necessary to transport a circus or an opera company, and we decided to take our chances in the regular way.

We bought some sheets and pillow cases, pillows and old-fashioned comfortables and blankets, and bespoke a compartment on the train leaving Bombay that night. Two hours before the time for starting we sent Thagorayas, our "bearer", down to make up the beds, which, being accustomed to that sort of business, he did in an artistic manner, and by allowing him to take command of the expedition we succeeded in making the journey comfortably and with full satisfaction. The ladies of our party were assigned to one compartment and the gentlemen to another, where the latter had the company of an engineer engaged upon the Bombay harbor improvements, and a very intelligent and polite Englishman who acts as "adviser" to a native prince in the administration of an interior province.

On the same train and next to our compartment was the private coach of the Gaikwar of Baroda, who was attended by a dozen or more servants, and came to the train escorted by a multitude of friends, who hung garlands of marigold about his neck until his eyes and the bridge of his nose were the only features visible. The first-class passengers came down with car loads of trunks and bags and bundles, which, to avoid the charge for extra luggage, they endeavored to stowaway in their compartments. The third-class carriages were packed like sardines with natives, and up to the limit allowed by law, for, painted in big white letters, where every passenger and every observer can read it, is a notice giving the number of people that can be jammed into that particular compartment in the summer and in the winter. We found similar inscriptions on nearly all freight cars which are used to transport natives during the fairs and festivals that occur frequently - allowing fifteen in summer and twenty-three in winter in some of the cars, and in the larger ones thirty-four in winter and twenty-six in summer, to avoid homicide by suffocation.

The Gaikwar of Baroda in his luxurious chariot did not sleep any better than the innocent and humble mortals that occupied our beds. We woke up in the morning at Ahmedabad, got a good breakfast at the station, and went out to see the wonderful temples and palaces and bazaars that are described in the next chapter.

There are now nearly 28,000 miles of railway lines in India. On Jan. 1, 1903, the exact mileage under operation was 26,563, with 1,190 miles under construction. The latter was more than half completed during the year, and before the close of 1905, unless something occurs to prevent, the total will pass the thirty thousand mark. The increase has been quite rapid during the last five years, owing to the experience of the last famine, when it was demonstrated that facilities for rapid transportation of food supplies from one part of the country to another were an absolute necessity. It is usually the case that when the inhabitants of one province are dying of starvation those of another are blessed with abundant crops, and the most effective remedy for famine is the means of distributing the food supply where it is needed. Before the great mutiny of 1857 there were few railroads in India, and the lesson taught by that experience was of incalculable value. If re-enforcements could have been sent by rail to the beleaguered garrisons, instead of making the long marches, the massacres might have been prevented and thousands of precious lives might have been saved. In 1880 the system amounted to less than 10,000 miles. In 1896 it had been doubled; in 1901 it had passed the 25,000 mile mark, and now the existing lines are being extended, and branches and feeders are being built for military as well as famine emergencies. All the principal districts and cities are connected by rail. All of the important strategical points and military cantonments can be reached promptly, as necessity requires, and in case of a rebellion troops could be poured into any particular point from the farthermost limits of India within three or four days.

As I have already reminded you several times, India is a very big country, and it requires many miles of rails to furnish even necessary transportation facilities. The time between Bombay and Calcutta is forty-five hours by ordinary trains and thirty-eight hours by a fast train, with limited passenger accommodation, which starts from the docks of Bombay immediately after the arrival of steamers with the European mails. From Madras, the most important city of southern India, to Delhi, the most important in the north, sixty-six hours of travel are required. From Peshawur, the extreme frontier post in the north, which commands the Kyber Pass, leading into, Afganistan, to Tuticorin, the southern terminus of the system, it is 3,400 miles by the regular railway route, via Calcutta, and seven days and night will be necessary to make the journey under ordinary circumstances. Troops could be hurried through more rapidly.

Nearly all the railways of India have either been built by the government or have been assisted with guarantees of the payment of from 3 to 5 per cent dividends. The government itself owns 19,126 miles and has guaranteed 3,866 miles, while 3,242 miles have been constructed by the native states. Of the government lines 13,441 miles have been leased to private companies for operation; 5,125 miles are operated by the government itself. Nearly three-fourths of the lines owned by native states have been leased for operation.

The total capital invested in railway property, to the end of 1902, amounted to $1,025,000,000, and during that year the average net earnings of the entire mileage amounted to 5.10 per cent of that amount. The surplus earnings, after the payment of all fixed charges and guarantees and interest upon bonds amounted to $4,233,080.

The number of passengers carried in 1,902 was 197,749,567, an increase of 6,614,211 over the previous year. The aggregate freight hauled was 44,142,672 tons, an increase of 2,104,425 tons over previous year, which shows a healthy condition. During the last ten years the gross earnings of all the railways in India increased at the rate of 41 per cent.

Of the gross earnings 59 per cent. were derived from freight and the balance from passengers.

There is now no town of importance in India without a telegraph station. The telephone is not much used, but the telegraph lines, which belong to the government, more than pay expenses. There has been an enormous increase in the number of messages sent in the last few years by natives, which indicates that they are learning the value of modern improvements.

The government telegraph lines are run in connection with the mails and in the smaller towns the postmasters are telegraph operators also. In the large cities the telegraph offices are situated in the branch postoffices and served by the same men, so that it is difficult to divide the cost of maintenance. According to the present system the telegraph department maintains the lines, supplies all the telegraphic requirements of the offices and pays one-half of the salaries of operators, who also attend to duties connected with the postoffice. There were 68,084 miles of wire and 15,686 offices on January 1, 1904. The rate of charges for ordinary telegrams is 33 cents for eight words, and 4 cents for each additional word. Telegrams marked "urgent" are given the right of way over all other business and are charged double the ordinary rates. Telegrams marked "deferred" are sent at the convenience of the operator, generally during the night, at half of the ordinary rates. As a matter of convenience telegrams may be paid for by sticking postage stamps upon the blanks.

There are 38,479 postoffices in India and in 1902 545,364,313 letters were handled, which was an increase of 24,000,000 over the previous year and of 100,000,000 since 1896. The total revenues of the postoffice department were $6,785,880, while the expenditures were $6,111,070.