Latter Articles Were Made Of The Thick Strong Leaves Of The Butea
Larger dishes of several leaves pinned together with
thorns, plates and saucers of one leaf with its borders turned up.
All the courses of the supper were already arranged on each square;
we counted forty-eight dishes, containing about a mouthful of
forty-eight different dainties.
The materials of which they were
composed were mostly terra incognita to us, but some of them tasted
very nice. All this was vegetarian food. Of meat, fowl, eggs
and fish there appeared no traces. There were chutneys, fruit
and vegetables preserved in vinegar and honey, panchamrits, a
mixture of pampello-berries, tamarinds, cocoa milk, treacle and
olive oil, and kushmer, made of radishes, honey and flour; there
were also burning hot pickles and spices. All this was crowned
with a mountain of exquisitely cooked rice and another mountain
of chapatis, which are something like brown pancakes. The dishes
stood in four rows, each row containing twelve dishes; and between
the rows burned three aromatic sticks of the size of a small church
taper. Our part of the hall was brightly lit with green and red
candles. The chandeliers which held these candles were of a very
queer shape. They each represented the trunk of a tree with a
seven-headed cobra wound round it. From each of the seven mouths
rose a red or a green wax candle of spiral form like a corkscrew.
Draughts blowing from behind every pillar fluttered the yellow
flames, filling the roomy refectory with fantastic moving shadows,
and causing both our lightly-clad gentlemen to sneeze very frequently.
Leaving the dark silhouettes of the Hindus in comparative obscurity,
this unsteady light made the two white figures still more conspicuous,
as if making a masquerade of them and laughing at them.
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