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Mark Seaworth by William Henry Giles Kingston

A baggage boat is always in attendance on a budgerow


During

our long journey, we were compelled to halt several times for a day or two, to refresh the weary frames of the men and cattle, toiling under the burthen of the camp equipage. The camp on those days used to present even a more busy scene than usual. The _dobies_ were employed in washing and ironing their master's clothes, while the other servants and camp-followers were mending, making, and repairing garments, saddles, and harness, and tackle of all descriptions.

Part of our journey was performed by water down the Ganges, on hoard a _budgerow_. The name of this boat is a native corruption of the word _barge_. It is somewhat in appearance like an overgrown gondola--very picturesque, and not altogether inelegant. The interior is fitted up with sleeping apartments and a sitting-room, with an enclosed verandah in front, which serves to keep off the sun; the cabin is on all sides surrounded by venetians, which serve to keep off his burning rays by day, and to let in the air at night. On a small deck, left free at the bows, the boatmen stand, urging on the boat with long sweeps; while the roof of the cabin, or upper deck, as it might be called, is the chief resort of the servants and the rest of the crew. The helmsman is posted on a high platform at the stern, guiding the boat with a huge rudder; and the _goleer_, stationed at the bow, ascertains with a long pole the depth of the water. When the wind is fair, two large square sails are hoisted;

and as the vessel draws but little water, they send her rapidly along. A baggage boat is always in attendance on a _budgerow_; she also carries the provisions and the servants, and the cooking apparatus. Besides these two boats, a smaller one, called a _dinghee_, is used to communicate between the two, or to send messages on shore. When the wind is contrary, or when there is none, and the banks of the river will allow it, the boats are towed along by sixteen or more men, dragging at a rope fastened to the mast-head.

I remember being particularly struck with the number and beauty of the lotus, floating on the waters of the Ganges, as also with other flowers, of scarlet, yellow, and white hues; while numberless others, of every tint, garnished either bank of the stream.

A remarkable feature of the Ganges is the fine Ghauts, or landing-places, one of which is to be found leading from the water even to the smallest village. They consist of five flights of steps, either of stone or _chunam_ highly polished; and have, besides being most useful, a very handsome appearance. On either side are stone balustrades, and sometimes beautiful temples, mosques, or pagodas, according to the creed of the founders. At every time of the day, on the Ghauts, may be seen groups of bathers; while graceful female forms are continually passing and re-passing, loaded with water-pots, which are balanced with the nicest precision on their heads.

As we proceed down the river an infinite variety of scenes meets our sight--now overhanging cliffs, crowned by some beautiful Oriental edifice; then green woods and fields, with quiet villages seen among them; next a herd of buffaloes wallowing in the mud, their horns and the tips of their noses alone out of the water, or, perhaps, their keepers are about to drive them across the stream, for though fierce in appearance, they are as tame as oxen. The herdsmen mount on the necks of the strongest, and thus fearlessly stem the current, almost completely immersed in the water. We saw wide pastures covered with innumerable herds; forests, with their eternal shade; and indigo plantations, in charge of Europeans. Sometimes a gigantic elephant was observed under the shade of a tree, fanning off the flies with a branch of palm; others were pacing along, decked in gaudy trappings, and hearing their masters in howdahs through the fields or plantations.


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