Page:Views in India, chiefly among the Himalaya Mountains.djvu/120

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Ardennes, while thus living under the greenwood tree—thus enjoying the contemplation of nature in her wildest and most magnificent solitudes. The winter and rough weather which we encounter occasionally in our progress, only serve to heighten the enjoyment of the heavenly serenity which we so frequently experience, while the necessity, sometimes existing, of depending upon our guns for the supply of the table, gives a new interest to the day's march.

Our Mohammedan attendants take care that the most and the best shall be made of every thing; for in our case certainly his satanic majesty has not provided the cooks. No sooner have they arrived on the encamping-ground, and they do not loiter idly on the road contemplating the scenery, than they set earnestly to work. A fire is kindled in a hole in the earth, and a sort of oven, or hot-hearth, constructed, with which the most delicate operations of the cuisine may be accomplished. If we have no charcoal to roast withal, our birds are braised; if milk is obtainable, it is speedily converted into butter; and these thrifty fellows, foreseeing the difficulties of procuring the materiel for a fry, will, when they get a sheep, carefully preserve the suet for future consumption.

If time and opportunity permit, we may find our cold partridges at breakfast embedded in savoury jelly, formed of the head and feet of the animal that feasted ourselves and our followers the day before; wherever there are eggs, there are omelettes; our soup is flavoured with fresh herbs and roots; and sometimes, when our spirits have failed at the too strong chance of being obliged to rest content with a cake of meal for breakfast we have been most agreeably surprised by a broiled jungle-fowl appearing on the table almost by magic. These jungle- fowls, which are the domestic poultry in their wild state, are excellent eating, finer and of a better flavour, perhaps, than any game bird, with the exception of the florikin. They are shy, and run very swiftly through the bushes, so that it is difficult to procure them, even where they abound; but we had a shikaree (native hunter) in our suite, who was always successful where success was possible. There is one great advantage in having Indian servants; the better class, and it is useless to employ any other, thoroughly understand their business, and set about it with an earnestness that nothing but the most adverse circumstances can damp. It is their duty to get a dinner for their master, and they consider their honour concerned to make it the best that the nature of affairs will admit. Every kind of spice and condiment which may be wanted in a long journey, is carefully provided for the occasion; and whenever it is possible, a feast is spread, and little luxuries produced, as unexpected as they are welcome. In fact, travelling in the Himalaya combines all the pleasures of savage life, and all the conveniences of the highest state of civilization, subject, of course, to the accidents and mutations which journeying over so rough a road must necessarily produce.

One of the least agreeable vicissitudes of a mountain tour consists of a continued succession of rain, in which event the spirit and energy of our followers are literally drenched out of them; wet to the skin, the tents wet, and every thing wretchedly damp and uncomfortable around, they have little or no vigour left to meet the exigencies of the case. Happy to find a dry cavern, or the shelter of some overhanging rock, they cower round a miserable fire of wet sticks, looking the very pictures of wo. Our friend who had traced the course of the Baspa in Kannowar, had suffered exceedingly from the frequent duckings and deluges to which the party had been subjected, and narrated with glee the joyful change which took place when he and his people, dripping and disconsolate, were accommodated by some friendly villagers with lodgings in an old temple. The shelter of a dry roof, and a good floor, after damp ground and wet canvass, can only be fully appreciated by those who have enjoyed them. Fires were kindled, garments dried;