Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 42.djvu/12

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

social privileges rest very much upon this opinion. She and her family live in a small, flat-roofed, "cutcha"-built habitation, much stained and faded, standing flush with one of the many narrow streets that creep and wind among all Calcutta's tall houses, even to the skirts of the stately residence of the "Burra lord sahib" himself. It is very hot, stifling, in those crooked little streets; the pleasant south wind does not always blow through to sweeten them, and they bear much need of sweetening. They cause Calcutta's Municipal Council more anxious hours than is the province of thoroughfares, on account of the prosperity of bacilli in their midst; and though the Municipal Council conspired all day, and sat up all night, taking measures of reprisal, the bacilli would still be glad and the inhabitants would still decrease. Not appreciably, however; there are far too many of them. Such numbers of little open shops, uninviting little shops, where rice and dall and sticky brown sweetmeats are piled up in earthen bowls to catch all the uncleanness of the roads! Such numbers of proprietors to each little shop, who sit on their dusty thresholds, as often as not with their glistening bare backs turned to custom, gossiping about the monsoon, taking turns at the gurgling cocoanut of the hubble-bubble! And then the comers and the goers, turbaned and bareheaded, dressed in the flowing robes of the Prophet or the simple dhoty of the coolie-lok, all upon the various interminable little businesses by which they gain leave to live—to say nothing of Mrs. De Souza's own family, which is large, or of her social connection, which stretches, interspersed by the little shops, all the way down the street. But I must deny myself the pleasure of referring to Mrs. De Souza further in this personal strain. It is, after all, contrary to the ethics of good neighborhood that I should take any great advantage of an upper window, in spite of the generous publicity of my neighbor's domestic arrangements, which seem to invite both inspection and report. I must hurry unflinchingly on to say that Mrs. De Souza inhabits another world than the little Anglo-Indian one, a world with mysterious affinities and attractions, however, both for ours and for the great dusky tropical swinging sphere of the pure "native." Nobody knows it very well that I have heard of; indeed, it would require some courage to profess familiar acquaintance there; but it is quite within reach of astronomical observation, which is not compromising. Eurasia has no boundaries. It lies, a varying social fact, all over India, thick in the great cities, thickest in Calcutta, where the conditions of climate and bread-winning are most suitable; where, moreover, Eurasian charities are most numerous. Wherever Europeans have come and gone, these people have sprung up in weedy testimony of them—these people who do not go, who have received somewhat in the feeble inheritance of their