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A Holiday in the Happy Valley with Pen and Pencil

Cut above Srinagar to carry off the flood water


Failing

to make anything of it, we landed and had the boat carried over into a wider channel. Three times we were obliged to get out and leave our stalwart crew to force the boat on somehow, and they did it well--hauling, paddling, and shouting invocations to various saints, particularly the one whose name sounds like "jam paws!"

The water had already fallen some four or five feet, but there was plenty left. A great break in the bund between Nusserwanjee's shop and the Punjab Bank allowed us to paddle into the flooded European quarter, past the telegraph office, standing knee-deep in muddy water, up over the main road to Nedou's Hotel, where boats lay moored outside the dining-room windows, then across the lagoon, lightly rippled by a tiny breeze, beneath which lay the polo-ground, to the Residency, where we landed to inspect damages.

The water had been all over the lower storey, but a muddy deposit on the wooden floor, and a brown slimy high-water mark on the door jambs, alone remained to show what had happened. The piano had been hoisted upon a table, carpets and curtains bundled upstairs, and everything, apparently, saved. The poor garden, with its slime-daubed shrubs, broken palings and torn creepers, trailing wisps of draggled foliage in the oozy brown pools, was a sad and pitiful sight, especially when mentally contrasted with the glowing glory of asters and zinneas which it should have been.

justify;">The flood has been nearly as bad as the great one of 1903. Fortunately the Spill Canal, cut above Srinagar to carry off the flood water, took off some of the pressure; the bund, also, is three feet higher than it was then, but it gave way in two places--one somewhere near the top, and the other just below the Bank, letting in the river to a depth of ten feet over the low-lying quarter. The stream is now falling fast, and, after doing a little shopping and visiting the post-office, which is temporarily established on the bund in the midst of an amazing litter of desks, boxes, and queer pigeon-holes admirably adapted to lose letters by the score, we spun swiftly down the rushing stream to tea and our cosy dounga.

_Monday, September_ 18.--It was impossible to get our boats up the river yesterday, so I spent the day sketching amidst the most picturesque, but horribly smelly, part of the town; much quinine in the evening seemed desirable as a counterblast to possible malaria.

The sunsets lately have been really magnificent; the poplars and chenars, darkly olive, reflected in the flooded fields against a red gold sky, in the foreground the black silhouettes of the armada.

The days are almost too hot, but the nights are cool and delicious, and the mosquitoes are only noticeable for a brief period of sinful activity about sundown, after which the wicked cease from troubling and the weary are at rest.

At half-past ten this morning we set sail; that is to say, we hired nine extra coolies and a second shikara to tow, and advanced on Srinagar. Hesketh's boat, being the lighter, kept well ahead (here let me note that "bow" in that boat is quite the prettiest girl we have seen in Kashmir, and the minx knows it!), but we had good men, and worked along slowly and steadily up the main river, the side canals being all choked by broken bridges and such like. We crept past the Amira Kadal, or first bridge, about two o'clock, and tied up for lunch, revelling in the most perfect pears, peaches, and walnuts. As a rule the Kashmir fruit is disappointing; abundant and cheap certainly, but not by any means of first-rate quality.


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