Following the Equator: A Journey around the World - Vol. 2

By Mark Twain | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER VI

Each person is born to one possession which outvalues all his others--his last breath.-- Pudd'nhead Wilson New Calendar.

T OWARD midnight, that night, there was another function. This was a Hindu wedding--no, I think it was a betrothal ceremony. Always before, we had driven through streets that were multitudinous and tumultuous with picturesque native life, but now there was nothing of that. We seemed to move through a city of the dead. There was hardly a suggestion of life in those still and vacant streets. Even the crows were silent. But everywhere on the ground lay sleeping natives--hundreds and hundreds. They lay stretched at full length and tightly wrapped in blankets, heads and all. Their attitude and their rigidity counterfeited death. The plague was not in Bombay then, but it is devastating the city now. The shops are deserted, now, half of the people have fled, and of the remainder the smitten perish by shoals every day. No doubt the city looks now in the daytime as it looked then at night. When we had pierced deep into the native quarter and were threading its narrow dim lanes, we had to go carefully, for men were stretched asleep all about, and there was hardly room to drive between them. And every now and then a swarm of rats

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