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Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 4, 1893.djvu/268

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260
Folk-lore Miscellanea.

suit of game I penetrated far up the gorge of the Ambrawutty river It was a wild jungle country, overgrown with a thick thorn-jungle of mimosa-bushes, close-grown, painful and difficult to thread. Far up in the valley where it began to narrow, and the great mountain-slopes on either side to approach, I saw in the centre a rocky hill, rising solitary 400 or 500 feet above the jungle, and showing some indications of building's on the top. The people with me said it was an old hill-fort of the Polygar days before Clive, where the robber chief took refuge alike from the wrath of native rajah and, later, from European invaders. With difficulty I made way through the jungle to the foot of the hill: the briar-rose growth that guarded the approach to the enchanted castle of the Sleeping Princess was slight and trivial compared to the thorns of that forest. The hill stood quite solitary, rising steeply all round to the summit: for two-thirds of the ascent covered with scrub jungle and masses of rock, then rising in a cone of sheer bare rock, precipitous all round, except at one point where a narrow cleft or rift ran down, by which it was possible to climb with difficulty. Using hands and feet, by this I climbed and reached the top, where I found a small area with a rough wall running round the rim, and heaps of large stones piled long ago, especially where the rift came out on the top, evidently to roll down on any assailants, but now overgrown with bushes and rank herbage. There were also some ruined buildings, a miniature tank to retain water, and a small temple, long since deserted and mostly fallen. The almost perpendicular rocky sides of the peak seemed to render the low wall encircling the summit unnecessary; indeed, it was but about four feet high, built of loose lumps of rock, without mortar, and had crumbled and toppled over at three or four points. Close, however, above the rift of access, it rose to a height of eight or ten feet, and a kind of rounded buttress projected from it, built more compactly with mortar. On this a good-sized banyan-tree had taken root and split and displaced the masonry, showing that the buttress was hollow within. The natives with me then said that it had long been a tradition that when the fort was constructed a living girl had been built into the wall to render the Droog impregnable. In looking into the fissure caused by the roots it could be seen that the buttress contained a hollow large enough to hold a small human being, and I have no doubt that it once did, but had no time or means to pull down and open out the death-chamber and ascertain whether it contained any vestiges.

Another instance of girl-sacrifice is recorded in a curious chronicle named The Wars of the Rajahs, written in the Telugu language, translated by the late C. P. Brown. The story contains graphic details of an incident very characteristic of Hindu life and thought, and probably not unfrequent in village history in the little-known past