Next came a whole row of very small shops, where there was an endless variety of trifles for sale, toys made of wood painted red and green; and finally, on the ground floor of houses ornamented with carvings and slender colonnades, in a cool and shady and silent street, were the sellers of silk and cloth. Under an arcade, lightly tinted with faded colours, and supporting a heavy stone roof elaborately carved, a marble bull stands facing the well which Vishnu touched when he came down from heaven. This is the Court or Well of Wisdom. A crowd of servants in red came down the flight of steps to the landing-place, and stood on each side, while at the top the Maharajah stood to receive me, in a tunic of yellow brocaded with silver, and silk trousers of various shades of violet and gold tissue; his turban was quite small, with an aigrette and a spray of diamonds.
And then seeing that I did not go, that on wakening again from his dream I was still there, he fixed his eyes on me and caught sight of a medal that I wear. "She is the mother of Christ, you say? You are a stranger, and you cannot know all the mischief they do us in the name of her Son."
This Rawal Pindi is an English town of cottages surrounded by lawns and shrubberies; about two streets of bazaar, and red uniforms everywhere, Highland soldiers in kilts, white helmets, and the officers' and sergeants' wives airing their Sunday finery in their buggies. The ladies drive themselves, under the shelter of a sunshade on an all[Pg 239] too short stick, painfully held by a hapless native servant clinging to the back of the carriage in a dislocating monkey-like attitude.
The temples were already closed, but my servant, Abibulla, diverted the attention of the gatekeeper, and I stole unseen into the outer precincts.