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note sung below it is repeated as if by an angelic choir, dying away in the faintest faroff trill.
The building of the Taj occupied twenty thousand workmen twenty-two years, and cost three millions sterling, even in the age when there were no trades unions and no possibility of strikes. Some details are preserved in a Persian manuscript of contemporary date. The yellow marble cost £4 per square yard; the black marble cost £9; the crystal £57; the lapis lazuli £115. Whatever might have been the wages of the workmen, the masters of art were paid on an imperial scale considering the value of money at that date. The overseer was paid at the rate of £100 a month, a similar wage being allotted to the chief illuminator and the master mason.
It is perhaps interesting to add that the platform of red sandstone on which the Taj stands measures 964 by 329 feet; that the terrace of white marble built on this platform and from which the beautiful structure rises is 313 feet square; that the roof is uplifted 70 feet from the terrace; that the domem 70 feet in diameter-is 120 feet high; and that the gilt crescent which surmounts the dome is 260 feet from the ground. The perfection of the architect's art is told in the fact that one looking upon the building does not think whether it is large or small or of any geometrical shape. It is simply perfect, something to be seen not once but a hundred times in all the varied aspects of weather and hour. It is a chameleon among architectural works. In the early morning whilst dawn is breaking it seems coloured a light blue. Rose-tinted beneath the rising sun, dazzling white at noon-tide, violet colour before an impending storm, crimson at sunset, pearly white under the moonlight, always a thing of beauty, a joy for ever.
WAITING for the train at Agra, hanging with Hindoos and Moslems on the bridge, I saw a sight doubtless familiar enough in this ancient stronghold of the Mahomedan faith, but fresh and marvellous to Western eyes. As the train drew up there poured from it the incessant stream of third-class passengers which, coming and going, is the fount of the wealth of Indian railways. When the stream began to fail, four men, carrying two kangos chairs, approached the end compartment of a third-class carriage, out of which was projected the head of a grim old man, becomingly attired in white turban and flowing robe of bright pea-green.
The old gentleman got out when the coolies came up, and a great white sheet was produced. This was carefully elevated so as to touch the top of the carriage, the lower end draping the chairs and hiding them from view. The old gentleman, who had been hovering around the group cackling like an old hen whose chickens were giving her trouble, now disappeared behind the sheet, which was violently agitated from within.
There was certainly some one there, and underneath the lowest fold of the sheet I caught sight of a bare foot which was a great deal too small to belong to the old gentleman. After the space of a moment the sheet was withdrawn, and presto! there was no one there but the old gentleman, looking heated and flurried. Whilst I was watching this native conjurer, the coolies picked up the two kangos, which were jealously closed in with red cloth, and rapidly moved off, the old gentleman hitching up his pea-green gown and hobbling after them, the furrows on his face visibly deepening as he made his way through the crowd, his eyes fixed upon the coolies and their presumably precious burdens. When he had seen them clear out of the station, the indefatigable old gentleman trotted back to the carriage, and, getting in, shut the door after him.
The compartment was hidden from the view of other occupants of the carriage by means of a black cloth fastened across the open
iron-work that divides third-class
carriages on the Indian railways. But I caught a glimpse of him from the outside, and noticed that he seemed to be occupied in making up a parcel of clothing. He had one of the large bed-quilts without which no native travels in this winter weather, and was hurriedly tying it around something. He opened the door and the bed-clothes began to move, clumsily making the descent from the carriage to the platform. Then it was clear enough that the bundle was a womanpossibly a young woman, certainly not a small
With the bed-quilt pulled over her face and her body bent nearly double, she ambled off by the side of the old gentleman, disappearing up the staircase, where doubtless a kango awaited her. In the haste of covering her up, too much of the bed-quilt had been appropriated to her head, and as she bent forward there was disclosed a vista of loosely made trousers draggling down to the heel. I wish the old gentleman could have been made aware of this. I should like to have seen his expressive countenance when he made the discovery. But he was too much occupied in getting a third wife out of a crowded station and went on a little ahead, all unknowing.