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A Holiday in the Happy Valley with Pen and Pencil

Knowing that only ten passes were to be given for Astor


Travellers

are only permitted to remain for twenty-four hours if the rooms are wanted, each person paying one rupee (1s. 4d.) for a night, or half that amount for a mere day halt.

The khansamah would appear to be the only functionary in residence until the hour of departure draws near, when a whole party of underlings--chowkidars, bheesties, and sweepers--appear from nowhere in particular; and the lordly traveller, having presented them with about twopence apiece, rolls off along the dusty white road, leaving the khansamah and his myrmidons salaaming on the verandah.

We made the mistake of over-tipping at first in India, not realising that a couple of annas out here go as far as a shilling at home; but it is a mistake which should be rectified as soon as possible, for you get no credit for lavishness, but are merely regarded as a first-class idiot. No sane man would ever expend two annas where one would do!

On leaving Haripur the road began to ascend a little, and at the village of Sultanpur we entered a valley, through which a shrunken stream ran, and which we crossed more than once.

Then a long ascent of about eleven miles brought us near our destination.

It had been threatening rain all the afternoon, and now the weather made its threat good, and the rain fell in earnest. It grew dark, too; and, finally, not having

had any reply to my telegram to General Woon, we did not know whether we were expected or not.

Sabz Ali, however, had no doubts on the matter. We were approaching his own particular country, and whether "Gen'l 'Oon Sahib" was there to entertain us or not, _he_ was; and so it was "alright."

Our poor horses were done to a turn, a heavy landau with five people in it, as well as a fair amount of luggage, being no trifle to drag up so long and steep a hill. So we had to walk up the last rise to the General's house in the dark and rain, mildly cheered, however, by finding the two ekkas just arrived with the baggage.

A most hearty greeting from my old friend and his charming wife awaited us, and after a hasty toilet and an excellent dinner we felt at peace with all the world.

Both yesterday (Saturday) and to-day it has been cold and disagreeable. The past winter, I am told, has been a very severe one, and the melancholy brown skeletons of all the eucalyptus trees in the place show the dismal results of the frost.

This forenoon the day darkened, and a very severe thunderstorm broke. So dark was it at lunch that candles had to be lighted in haste, and even now (4 P.M.) I can barely see to write.

_Thursday, March_ 30.--Monday was showery, and Tuesday decidedly wet; but, in spite of the hospitable blandishments of our kind hosts, we were most anxious to get on, as, having arranged with the Smithsons to go into the Astor district to shoot, it was most important to reach Srinagar before the first of April--the day upon which the shooting passes were to be issued to sportsmen in rotation of application. Knowing that only ten passes were to be given for Astor, and that several men were ahead of me, I felt that we were running it somewhat fine to leave only three days for the journey.


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