CHAPTER XVI. CONTINUATION OF JOURNEY AND SOJOURN.
It was the month in which the Hindoos prefer to celebrate their marriages, and we met in several streets merry processions of that kind. The bridegroom is enveloped in a purple mantle, his turban dressed out with gold tinsel, tresses, ribbons, and tassels, so that from a distance it appears like a rich crown. The depending ribbons and tassels nearly cover the whole face. He is seated upon a horse; relatives, friends, and guests surround him on foot. When he reaches the house of the bride, the doors and windows of which are securely closed, he seats himself quietly and patiently on the threshold. The female relations and friends also gather together here, without conversing much with the bridegroom and the other men. This scene continues unchanged until nightfall. The bridegroom then departs with his friends; a closely covered waggon, which has been held in readiness, is drawn up to the door; the females slip into the house, bring out the thickly-veiled bride, push her into the waggon, and follow her with the melodious music of the tam-tam. The bride does not start until the bridegroom has been gone a quarter of an hour. The women then accompany her into the bridegroom's house, which, however, they leave soon afterwards. The music is kept up in front of the house until late in the night. It is only the marriages of the lower classes that are celebrated in this manner.
There is a road leading from Puna to Pannwell, a distance of seventy miles, and travellers can post all the way. From Pannwell to Bombay the journey is made by water. I adhered to the cheaper baili, and Mr. Brown was so obliging as to procure one for me, and to lend me a servant.
On the 15th of March I again set out, and on the same day arrived at Woodgown, a village with one of the dirtiest bungalows in which I ever made up my bed.
16th March. Cumpuily. The country between this place and Woodgown is the most beautiful that I saw in India; the view from a mountain some miles on this side of Kundalla, was particularly striking. The spectator stands here in the midst of an extensive mountainous district: peaks of the most diversified forms are piled in numerous rows above and alongside of each other, presenting the most beautiful and variegated outlines.
There are, also, enormous terraces of rock, flattened cones of peaks, with battlements and pinnacles, which at first sight might be taken for ruins and fortresses. In one place the lofty roof of a majestic building presents itself - in another, a gigantic Gothic tower rises aloft. The volcanic form of the Tumel mountain is the most uncommon object which meets the eye. Beyond the mountains extends a wide plain, at the extremity of which lies the polished surface of the long wished-for ocean. The greater part of the mountains is covered with beautiful green woods. I was so much delighted with the extreme beauty of the prospect, that I congratulated myself for the first time on the slow pace of my sleepy oxen.
The village of Karly lies between Woodgown and Kundalla; it is famous on account of its temples, which are about two miles distant. I did not visit them, because I was assured that they were not half so interesting as those at Adjunta and Elora.
Kundalla lies upon a mountain plateau. There are several pretty country-houses here, to which many European families, from the neighbourhood of Bombay, resort during the hot weather.
In the Deccan, and the province of Bombay, I found the natives were less handsome than in Bengal and Hindostan; their features were much coarser, and not so open and amiable.
For several days we have again met very large trains of oxen, some of the drivers of which had their families with them. The females of these people were very ragged and dirty, and at the same time loaded with finery. The whole body was covered with coloured woollen borderings and fringes, the arms with bracelets of metal, bone, and glass beads; even to the ears large woollen tassels were hung, in addition to the usual ornaments, and the feet were loaded with heavy rings and chains. Thus bedecked, the beauties sat on the backs of the oxen, or walked by the side of the animals.
17th March. Since the attack of the negroes in Brazil, I had not been in such a fright as I was today. My driver had appeared to me, during the whole journey, somewhat odd in his manner, or rather foolish: sometimes abusing his oxen, sometimes caressing them, shouting to the passers-by, or turning round and staring at me for some minutes together. However, as I had a servant with me who always walked by the baili, I paid little attention to him. But this morning my servant had gone on, without my consent, to the next station, and I found myself alone with this foolish driver, and on a rather secluded road. After some time he got down from the waggon, and went close behind it. The bailis are only covered over at the sides with straw matting, and are open at the front and back; I could therefore observe what he was doing, but I would not turn round, as I did not wish to make him think that I suspected him. I, however, moved my head gradually on one side to enable me to watch his proceedings. He soon came in front again, and, to my terror, took from the waggon the hatchet which every driver carries with him, and again retired behind. I now thought nothing less than that he had evil intentions, but I could not fly from him, and dare not, of course, evince any fear. I very gently and unobserved drew my mantle towards me, rolled it together, so that I might, at least, protect my head with it, in case he made a blow at me with the hatchet.