人民日报看湖南--湖南频道--人民网

When at last the boy was allowed to return to his place in a corner he sat quite still, his eyes staring stupidly and shedding large tears, though not a muscle of his face moved.

A few officers, a few clergy only, had organized some distribution of relief; the administration,[Pg 197] wholly indifferent, was drawing double pay in consideration of the increase of work in famine time.

Between the large parasols are thousands of little pagodas, formed of four columns and a roof, and sheltering idols wreathed with flowers, to whom the faithful pray and bring offerings. Garlands are for ever floating down-stream, jasmine and Indian pinks, and patches of scattered rose petals; and on the banks of the river, where the sand forms little bays, flowers lie in a hem of delicate colours. On the tomb, in elegant black letters, is this inscription: Is a long row of bungalows in their own gardens, on each side of an avenue of thick trees that meet above the road. We crossed the bed of a dry torrent and came to the native village, a labyrinth of clay huts and narrow alleys through which goats and cows wandered, finding their way home to their own stables. On a raised terrace[Pg 47] three Parsees, bowing to the sun with clasped hands, prostrated themselves in adoration, and watched the crimson globe descend wrapped in golden haze; and as soon as the disc had vanished, leaving a line of fiery light in the sky, all three rose, touched each other's hands, passed their fingers lightly over their faces, and resumed their conversation.

There was not a living thing in the silence and overheated airnot a bird, not a fly; and beyond the houses lay the plain once more, a monotonous stretch of dead whiteness, the unspeakable desolation of murderous nature, henceforth for ever barren.