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Across India by Oliver Optic

200 feet the temperature is an average of 58 deg


suppose you Americans have been accustomed to regard India as an exceedingly hot country; and this is quite true of a considerable portion of it. In a region extending from the almost tropical island of Ceylon, nearly 2,000 miles to the snow-capped summits of the highest mountains in the world, there must necessarily be a great variety of climate. India has three well-defined seasons,--the cool, the hot, and the rainy. The cool months are November, December, January, and a part of February.

"The rainy season comes in the middle of the summer, earlier or later, and ends in September. Winter is the pleasantest season of the year; but autumn, unlike England, is hot, moist, and unhealthy. Monsoon comes from an Arabian or Persian word, meaning a season; and you have learned something about it by this time. It is applied to the south-west winds of the Indian Ocean, changing to the north or north-east in the winter. This wind produces rain, and when they infrequently fail, portions of the country are subjected to famines.

"At an elevation of 7,200 feet the temperature is an average of 58 deg. Fahrenheit, as I shall give all readings of the thermometer. At Madras, on the south-east coast, it is 83 deg.; at Bombay, 84 deg.; Calcutta, 79 deg.; and in Delhi, in latitude 29 deg. (about the same as the northern part of Florida), it is 72 deg.. These annual average temperatures will not seem high to you; but I beg you not

to form a wrong impression, for the heat of summer is generally oppressive, and the average temperature is considerably reduced by the coolness of the winter months. In Delhi, quoted at 72 deg., the glass often indicates over 100 deg..

"The rain varies greatly in different regions. In the north-east it exceeds 75 inches, and in one remarkable year 600 inches fell at an observatory in north-east Bengal. In some of the western parts it is only 30 inches, while it is hardly 15 on the southern shores of the Indus. I think I must have sufficiently wearied you, ladies and gentlemen."

"No! No! No!" almost shouted the company with one voice; and perhaps there was something so fascinating in the manner of the distinguished Hindu which exorcised all weariness from their minds and bodies.

"Thank you with all my heart; but really you must permit me to retire, for I am somewhat fatigued, if you are not, and I shall be happy to contribute to your entertainment at another time," replied the speaker; and he retired from the platform.

"I shall next call upon Mr. Woolridge, who will speak to you of the fauna of India," said the commander.

The magnate of the Fifth Avenue, not much accustomed to speaking in public, was somewhat diffident about addressing the company in the presence of those who were so well versed in Indian lore; but he conquered his modesty, and took his place on the stand. In expressing his appreciation of the last speaker, he mentioned that he occupied a difficult position in the presence of those who knew India as they knew their alphabet, and begged them to consider his talk as addressed only to the Americans of the party. The guests declared that they should be very glad to hear him; and he bowed, smiled, and proceeded with his remarks:--

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