In that district the pavements are clean and dry, there is neither mud nor water in the gutters, grass grows in the chinks of the walls. The most heedless passer-by feels the depressing influences of a place where the sound of wheels creates a sensation; there is a grim look about the houses, a suggestion of a jail about those high garden walls.
Duterque had already made preparations in case the town should be bombarded. Her house, like most of the old houses in Arras, had a great cellar, with a vaulted roof, almost as strong as a castle dungeon.
The children knew everything in Okshitgon; they knew the roads and the houses and the people, and they recognised the clothes they used to wear in a former life; there was no doubt about it. One of them, the younger, remembered, too, how she had borrowed two rupees once of a woman, Ma Thet, unknown to her husband, and left the debt unpaid.
Many of the houses were empty, their owners having been killed on their own thresholds, or carried off to be shot, or sent to work at the fortifications of Cartagena or other places on the coast. I saw here a larger number of slaves negroes and negresses than at any other place we had passed through. The latter were dressed in blue petticoats, without any other garments.
"Their houses," says the missionary account, "are full of fleas, which harbour in the floor, and are very troublesome, though the natives are much less affected by them than we are; they say they were brought to them by the Europeans.
They are now building good houses, planting orchards of various kinds of fruit, raising stock, etc.; they have horses and carriages. Artificial wants the very pillars of civilization are increasing upon them.
"So it can under ordinary circumstances," answered Mr Battiscombe, "but there may be interruptions, and we may have to tarry at the houses of friends; but I will talk to you more about that matter when we are on the road."
The boy had come to one of the big cathedral towns, which are so common on the uplands, but can hardly be seen at all down in the plain. The houses were of wood, and very prettily constructed. Most of them had gables and fronts, edged with carved mouldings, and glass doors, with here and there a coloured pane, opening on verandas.
The prince introduced me to his handsome sister, and to several palatins and starosts. I did not fail to call on all these great personages, so in the course of a fortnight I found myself a welcome guest in all the best houses.