THE LITTLE ONES IN BULIKA 247
going as fast as the elephants. Others were mounted on different kinds of deer, and would have been racing all the way had I not prevented it. Those atop of the hay on the elephants, unable to see the animals below them, would keep talking to them as long as they were awake. Once, when we had halted to feed, I heard a little fellow, as he drew out the hay to give him, commune thus with his ' darling beast' :
' Nosy dear, I am digging you out of the mountain, and shall soon get down to you : be patient; I'm a coming ! Very soon now you'll send up your nose to look for me, and then we'll kiss like good elephants, we will! '
The same night there burst out such a tumult of elephant-trumpeting, horse-neighing, and child-imitation, ringing far over the silent levels, that, uncertain how near the city might not be, I quickly stilled the uproar lest it should give warning of our approach.
Suddenly, one morning, the sun and the city rose, as it seemed, together. To the children the walls appeared only a great mass of rock, but when I told them the inside was full of nests of stone, I saw apprehension and dislike at once invade their hearts : for the first time in their lives, I believe—many of them long little lives—they knew fear. The place looked to them bad : how were they to find mothers in such a place ? But they went on bravely, for they had confidence in Lona —and in me too, little as I deserved it.
We rode through the sounding archway. Sure never had such a drumming of hoofs, such a padding of paws and feet been heard on its old pavement! The horses started and looked scared at the echo of their own steps; some halted a moment, some plunged wildly