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A Holiday in the Happy Valley with Pen and Pencil

With our hand luggage and bedding all of a heap


It

may be argued that the hotels, if bad, are cheap, and that one cannot reasonably expect much in return for five or six rupees per day; it seems, however, that in a country where food and labour cost next to nothing, a good landlord should be able to "do" his customers well upon five rupees, and make a substantial profit into the bargain.

Probably, as the facilities for travel are rapidly increasing, and India is now as easy to reach as Italy was in days not so long by, the hotels will soon improve. Hospitality, which is still to-day greater in the East than in our more selfish Western regions, and which has, until quite recently, obviated for strangers and pilgrims the necessity for hotels, is now unable to cope with the increasing flood of visitors and wanderers; as the need becomes more pressing, so will the supply, consequent upon the demand, improve both in quality and quantity; and we have already heard of the new Taj Mahal Hotel at Bombay, the fame of which has been trumpeted through India, and which is said to rival in luxury the palaces of Ritz!

The real and serious difficulty, and one which at present seems insurmountable, is to secure cleanliness and safety in that Augean stable--the cook-house. Until the native can be brought to understand the inadvisability of using tainted water and unclean utensils, and of permitting the ubiquitous fly to pervade the larder--until, I say, that millennium can be

attained, the danger of enteric and other ills will always be very great in Indian hotels.

_Friday, October_ 13.--Lunch with Dr. Munro, who surprised us somewhat by having married a wife since we played golf and bridge together at Gulmarg only a few weeks ago. Tea, a farewell repast with our invalid--who goes before a medical board in a few days, and who will then be doubtless sent home on long sick leave--and the despatch of our heavy luggage direct to Bombay, occupied us pretty fully for the day; and in the evening, after dinner, we took up our residence in a carriage drawn up in a siding to be attached to the 6.30 mail in the morning. Our last recollection of Pindi was a vision of the faithful Ayata, paid, tipped, and provided with a flaming "chit," flapping along the road in the bright moonlight, with all his worldly possessions, _en route_ for Abbotabad and home.

_Saturday, October_ 14.--A prodigious amount of banging, whistling, and yelling seemed to be necessary before we could be coupled up to the early train, and sent flying towards Lahore. It was impossible to sleep, and I was peacefully watching the landscape as it slid past, first in the pink flush of early dawn, and gradually losing colour as the sun, gaining in strength, reduced everything to a white hot glow, when, scraping and bumping into a wayside station, we were suddenly informed that, owing to hot bearings or heated axles or something, we must quit our carriage at once, and so, half dressed and wholly wrathful, we were shot out on a hot and exceedingly gritty platform, with our hand luggage and bedding all of a heap, and with the whole length of the train to traverse to attain our new carriage. Sabz Ali being curled up asleep in an "intermediate," was all unwitting of this upheaval. The officials were impatient, and so Jane and I were in a thoroughly unchristian frame of mind by the time we were stowed, hot and greatly fussed, into a stifling compartment, whose dust-begrimed windows long withstood all endeavours to open them.


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