Page:Shivaji and His Times.djvu/24

This page needs to be proofread.


In such a soil rice cultivation is impossible, and wheat and barley grow in very small quantities. The staple crop of most of this region is the hardy millet,—jawari, bajra and ragi or maize. But even these cannot always be depended upon. One year the rain would fail, the sprouting plants would be scorched by the sun or the young heads of grain would shrink and wither before they can grow to fulness and ripen, and there would be famine throughout the length and breadth of the land. The soil, covered with bare rock at places and with only a thin layer of mould at others, would be baked to a brown dust, not a green blade would be seen anywhere, and in addition to the human victims the cattle would perish by tens of thousand.

§2. Isolation of the People.

The broken rocky nature of the country and its abundance of forests, while it kept the population down, also made travelling difficult and unprofitable. There were no rich courts, populous cities or thriving marts to attract merchants. Nor were there regular occasions for the march of large bodies of soldiers, as from one province of a compact and mighty empire to another. The country was cut up by

of certain and heavy rainfall, with rice for the predominant crop, "and along the sea-coast, wherever there is any soil... a fringe of palms, mango-gTOves and plaintain orchards add to the beauty of the landscape and the wealth of the inhabitants, Thana and Kanara are forest-clad districts." (Ibid.)