Page:Views in India, chiefly among the Himalaya Mountains.djvu/72

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seemed a quiet harmless race, happy in the enjoyment of the few necessaries which formed the sum total of their wants. The natives of these districts are good-natured and obliging, and may be easily managed by kindness, by those who endeavour rather to humour than to force them out of their prejudices; a practice to which the scornful European is rather too strongly addicted. The women were particularly civil and kind-hearted; and indeed, from our earliest occupation of these hills, they have manifested a very amiable attention to the comfort of those white strangers who have invaded the most remote districts. At first the apprehension of danger from persons of so extraordinary a colour, rendered them anxious to conceal themselves, but speedily discovering that in reality they had nothing to dread, they dismissed their fears, and came forward with all the little services which their limited means enabled them to offer. In passing through a village, the women will frequently bring out, unasked, milk and fruit for the refreshment of the travellers; and although, according to the custom of all semi-barbarous countries, they are looked upon with great contempt by the other sex, we found them generally more intelligent, as well as more communicative, than the men; and they are certainly quite as industrious, taking their full share, or even a greater proportion, of the manual labours of the field. A love of flowers seemed to be the most elegant taste manifested by the people of these hill-districts; they were fond of adorning themselves with the wild garlands which grew profusely around. They did not appear to regard with any deep feeling of admiration those splendid prospects so eagerly sought by the lovers of the picturesque; and beyond those local attachments which render the inhabitants of hill-districts more unwilling to quit the homes of their children than any other race of people, they seemed to take little interest in scenery which threw us into raptures. Contrast is perhaps necessary for enjoyment of any kind, and it was impossible to make them comprehend the motives that induce Englishmen to wander through strange lands for the mere purpose of seeing the country, and admiring the prospects.

In every part of the Himalaya which we visited, we were surprised by the abundance of fruit trees, and berries of every description. In some places the strawberries completely carpet the ground, which appears crimson with the multitudinous offspring of this prolific plant. The neighbourhood of every village absolutely teemed with the almond, the peach, the apricot, the plum, and the cherry; in some places we found walnuts and chesnuts in great quantities. Many deserted villages are now only indicated by the apricot trees which still remain to shew "where once a garden smiled," and it is said that in consequence of their great abundance all over the country, scientific men find it difficult to ascertain whether they are indigenous to the soil, or have thriven so luxuriantly in consequence of transplantation to so congenial a clime. The natives of the Himalaya frequently feed their cattle with apricots, and obtain an oil from the kernels which is highly esteemed throughout India. In Caubool, a country much farther advanced in civilization and refinement, where the apricot also abounds, it is said to be preserved in fourteen different ways; the finest of these preparations finding a ready sale in distant kingdoms. In India, particularly, the preserved apricot, having an almond substituted for the stone, is reckoned a great delicacy, and always figures at the banquets of rich natives. The cherry requires cultivation to render it an acceptable guest at the dessert, but it makes excellent cherry brandy; and upon the first occupation of the hills by the servants of the Company, their friends in the plains were agreeably surprised by presents of apricot jam, cherry brandy, and sacks of walnuts.

Some of our party, though unprepared to imitate the native hunters in their pursuit of the musk deer, took their guns in search of smaller game, following through an