That the Marquis de Cubi¨¨res was present proved to be fortunate, as the King, vexed by the reports he heard of the enormous expense of this supper, spoke to him about it and was promptly undeceived.
The elephant of ceremony, covered with a velvet cloth embroidered with gold, on which was placed a massive silver howdah edged with gold, was in waiting to take me for a ride. Round the beast's neck hung a huge necklace of balls as large as apples and long pendants from his ears, all of silver, tinkling as he moved and glittering in the sun. The mahout rested a ladder against the elephant's head for me to mount by, and we set out, following the Rajah and escorted by sowars, to the very modern tennis club of Palitana.
The fort of Allahabad, the fort of the mutiny of 1857, is a complete citadel where, in the thickness of the walls, behind screens of acacia trees, lurk doors into palaces. Among the gardens there are clearings full of guns and ambulance waggons, and enormous barracks and huts for native soldiers. Then on the ponderous stonework of the ramparts rise little kiosks in the light Hindoo-Mussulman style, elaborate and slender, built by Akbar the [Pg 183]conqueror, who took Prayag and razed it, to build on the site a city dedicated to Allah. And now modern architecture is slowly invading it, adding to the flat walls which hide under their monotony the gems of stonework with their elegant decoration.
Down the middle of the Ganges a white bundle is being borne, and on it a crow pecking the body of a child wrapped in its winding-sheet.
From this time began her brilliant career. Essentially a woman of the world, delighting in society and amusement, though always praising the pleasures of solitude and retirement, she entered the household of the Duchesse d¡¯Orl¨¦ans, wife of the infamous Philippe-¨¦galit¨¦, and while constantly declaiming against ambition managed to get all her relations lucrative posts at the Palais Royal, and married one if not both her daughters to rich men of rank with notoriously bad reputations.
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