小镇大未来:东莞长安镇的制造业变迁

After dinner, with the dessert, the head orderly of the mess marched in with the decanters. He set them on the table, and then stood immovable at his post behind the colonel's chair, shouldering his gun till everybody had done, when he carried off the bottles with the same air of being on parade. The maiden was placed on a very high pile of saplings and dry crackling boughs. Her father fetched the sacred fire, and then, with the same ceremonials and prayers, set light to the wood, which flashed up in a golden glow with a sweet odour. The flame rose clear against the sky for a long time before the smell of her burnt flesh mingled with that of the poor woman, whose limbs, under the action of the heat, seemed to stretch to an inordinate length. One arm, sticking out from the fire, seemed to clench its fist, which was bright yellow, as if it would clutch at something; and then all was consumedthe wood pile fell in, the skull cracking with a dull snap, and nothing was left but a heap of embers, into which the attendants raked the cinders that rolled down the sloping bank.

Another mausoleum is of lace-like carving in marble, the roof painted with Persian ornament; and the whole thing is uninjured, as fresh as if it had been wrought yesterday, under the broad shade of theobromas and cedars that have grown up among the ruins.

As we approached the Afghan frontier, camp followed camp, clustering round the railway stations that lie closer together on the line. In the morning and towards evening there was a constant hum round the train, of bagpipes, bugles, and drums, and the red or grey ranks were to be seen of soldiers at drill. The drill sergeant shouts the word of command in wonderful Englishlept, meaning left. Before us the road lay pink in colour, with purple lines where the pebbles were as yet un-crushed; it was hedged with blossoming thorn-bushes, and among the yellow and violet flowers parrots were flitting, and screaming minahs, large black birds with russet-brown wings, gleaming in the sun like burnished metal.

As soon as the last customer's beard was trimmed, the barber took down the cage and carried the bird to another spot whence we could hear its scream. This morning, at Peshawur, down come the police on my houseboatthree of themand their leader explains matters. Abibulla interprets.

The baboo who has lost caste and been half-civilized in the Anglo-Indian colleges, is always the middleman between the Government and the poor; and he, barefaced and with no pretence of concealment, took twenty per cent. of the wages he was supposed to pay the labourers. And there were none but baboos to superintend the poorhouses and the famine-camps. It is said that during the previous famine some made fortunes of six to eight lacs of rupees (the lac is 10,000).

This Dilbar was a boy with a more woolly wig than the others, and to emphasize her sex wore a monstrous display of trinkets round her neck and arms, in her ears and nose.

Dewani Khas, the great hall of audience, on columns open on all sides to the sky and landscape, overlooks a pit about thirty paces away where tigers and elephants fought to divert the sultan and his court. At the threshold is a large block of black marblethe throne of Akbar the Great. At the time of the incursion of the Jats, who drove the emperor from his palace, as soon as the usurper took his seat, the stone, the legend tells, split and shed blood; the iridescent stain remains to this day.

From the broad steps on the shore other narrower flights lead to archways and porticoes, or zigzag up to the lanes that make a gap of distant blackness in the light-hued mass of palaces and embankments.

[Pg 157]

A large building of red and white stone, with spacious arcades and a central dome, as vast as a cathedral, stands at the angle of two avenuesthe[Pg 6] railway terminus; and a great market of iron and glassCrawford Market. Here are mountains of fruit, greenery, and vegetables of every colour and every shade of lustre; and a flower garden divides the various market sheds, where little bronze coolies, in white, scarcely clad, sell oranges and limes.

In the twilight of the great galleries the gods are assembled in groups, standing or sitting, rigid or contorted into epileptic attitudes, and thin bodies of human aspect end in legs or arms resembling serpents or huge fins, rather than natural limbs: Kali, the eight-armed goddess, leaping in the midst of daggers, performing a straddling dance while she holds up a tiny corpse on the point of the short sword she brandishes; impassible Sivas wearing a tall mitre; Krishna playing the flute to the thousand virgins who are in love with him, and who fade into perspective on the panel. And every divinity has eyes of jade, or of white plaster, hideously visible against the pale grey stone softly polished by time.