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Many refugees returned to Louvain that morning simply driven by hunger. I myself lived still on the breakfast I had at Maastricht on the previous day, and badly wanted something to eat, but still more a cup of hot coffee, to warm my chilled body. I was able to get the coffeewithout milk or sugarfrom a peasant along the road, but food was out of the question. Most of the people had nothing left, others saved a piece of bread as hard as a brick for the moment when hunger might drive them to extreme distress. Whatever sums I offered, nothing could be had before I came to Tirlemont, where I was able to buy three eggs.Far up the hill, and for a long time, the clanging brass and sharp cries followed me on my way all through the afternoon, and I could picture the dancing women, the Lama under his gleaming brass hat, turning his praying-wheel beneath his bower of branches and papers fluttering in the wind; and[Pg 150] not till dark did the whole party break up and go back to Darjeeling; the poorer women, on foot, all a little tipsy, danced a descending scale that ended occasionally in the ditch; the richer ladies, in thin dark satin robes with wide sleeves all embroidered in silk and gold, and their hair falling in plaits from beneath a fillet of red wood studded with large glass beads, fitting tightly to the head, rode astride on queer little horses, mostly of a dirty yellow colour, that carried them at a brisk amble. Their husbands, extremely attentive, escorted the dames, some of whom gave noisy evidence of the degree of intoxication they had reached. The least blessed had but one husband, or perhaps two; but the more fortunate had a following of as many as six eager attendants, whom they tormented with incessant scolding.
The hand of Charlotte Corday had sent Marat to his own place; Danton and Camille Desmoulins, beginning to have some slight glimmerings of mercy and humanity, had been denounced and executed; Robespierre was still triumphant, with his friends and satellites, Couthon, St.-Just and David. With them and Foulquir-Tinville, Paris was like hell upon earth. Long lists of victims, numbers of whom were women, went every day to the guillotine; the populace were getting weary of blood and slaughter. Again Tallien  made an attempt to get the release of Trzia, even suggesting that it was time to stop the murder of women. Even David agreed; but Robespierre was inexorable.
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.CHAPTER III
Presently M. L was announced, and Mme. Le Brun having hidden herself behind the curtains, Mme. de Strogonoff ordered him to be shown in, and said to him
The Greatest Names in FranceThe Marchale de NoaillesStrange proceedingsDeath of the DauphinOf the DauphineOf the QueenThe Children of FranceLouis XIV. and Louis XV.And as they went home at nightfall enormous bats came out and flew across above the tall trees in heavy, steady, straight flight. Without a sound they made for the last gleam on the horizon, where[Pg 98] the vanished sun had left a crimson line; and what an insistent image of death and oblivion were those great black fowl, slowly flapping their five-fingered wings spread out round their bodies, headless as they would seem, so small is the head, and so close-set on the neck. One might fancy that they were bearing away the day, gliding noiseless and innumerable towards the west, where already the last gleam is dead.