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A Holiday in the Happy Valley with Pen and Pencil

Society in Gulmarg is particularly cheery


_Tuesday,

August_ 1.--Society in Gulmarg is particularly cheery, as indeed might be expected where two or three hundred English men and women are gathered together to amuse themselves and lay in a fresh store of health and energy before returning to the routine of duty in the plains.

There have been many picnics lately, the little glades or margs, which are frequent in the forest slopes, being ideal places of rendezvous for merrymakers on horse or foot. Picnics of all sorts and sizes, from the little impromptu gatherings of half-a-dozen congenial young souls (always an even number, please), who ride off into the romantic shades to nibble biscuits and make tea, to the dainty repasts provided by a hospitable lady, whose official hut overlooks the Ferozepore Nullah, and who, in turn, overlooks her cook, to the great gratification of her guests.

How small a thing will upset the best-laid plans of hospitality! It is said that a most carefully planned picnic, where all the little tables, set for two, were discreetly screened apart among the bushes, was entirely ruined by a piratical damsel undertaking a cutting-out expedition for the capture of the hostess' best young man.

Our evenings are by no means dull. On many a starlit night has Jane mounted the noble steed which, through the kindness of the Resident, we have hired from the "State," and ridden across the marg attended by her slaves (her

husband and the ancient shikari, to wit), to dine and play bridge in some hospitable hut, or dance or see theatricals at Nedou's Hotel.

Last week we tore ourselves away from our daily golf, and joined the Smithsons in a futile expedition to the foot of the Ferozepore Nullah for bear. Three days we spent in vain endeavour to find "baloo," and on the fourth we wended our toilsome way up the hill again to Gulmarg.

_Monday, August_ 27.--There are drawbacks as well as advantages in being perched, as it were, just above the bazaar. Its proximity enables our good Sabz Ali to sally forth each morning and secure the earliest consignment of "butter and eggs and a pound of cheese," which has come up from Srinagar, and select the best of the fruit and vegetables. It affords also an interesting promenade for the geese, who solemnly march down the main street daily for recreation and such stray articles of food as may be found in the heterogeneous rubbish-heaps.

It possesses, however, a superabundance of pi-dogs, who gather together on the slope in front of our hut in the watches of the night, and serenade us to a maddening extent.

The natives, too, have a sinful habit of chattering and shouting at an hour when all well-conducted persons should be steeped in their beauty sleep.

A few nights ago this culminated in what Keats would have called a "purple riot." The sweeper and his friends were holding a meeting for the purpose of conversation and the consumption of apple brandy.

Having fruitlessly sent the shikari to try and stop the insufferable noise, I was fain to sally forth myself to investigate matters.

Then to a happy and light-hearted party seated chattering round a blazing fire there came suddenly the unwelcome apparition of an exceedingly irate sahib, in evening dress and pumps, brandishing a khudstick.

A wild scurry, in which the bonfire was scattered, a few remarks in forcible English, a whack which just missed the hindmost reveller, and the place became a deserted village.


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