chapter  XII
Pages 14

OUR tropical winter at length draws to a close, and spring, with its lovely bloom, its verdure, and perfumed breath, begins to shed a reviving influence over the cheerless face of nature. 'I'he woods and groves, so long dismal with melancholy sounds, re-echo to the cheerful melodies of birds, and the tender songs of the herdsmen. The overflowing rivers, the graves of many a flock, retire to their deep-worn rocky beds; the rain-saturated fields put forth hopeful signs of an abundant harvest; the valleys are clad in a dazzling garb of tender grasses; and everything, above and beneath, is radiant with the sunshine of happiness, love, and peace. The natives, who had been for some months in a state of torpor and physical stagnation, now shake off their slothful dulness, and in a round of holidays and festive commemorations inaugurate the budding season of the year. Mary, the foremost in rank among the celestial nobility, and the most honoured of all saints, had the first of these

aUSpICIOUS days dedicated to the memory of her assumption, T.he ceremonies of the celebration commenced at early dawn, when everyone, clad in his best shama, and shining in an exuberant profusion of rank butter, repaired to church to hear the legends of the Virgin, and to pray at her shrine. On the return from service, all 0111" people who could boast of a knife or sword assisted in the meritorious work of dissecting a cow, which we had given them in honour of the f~te. The scent of meat attracted several devout adorers of the Madonna to the hill at Gaffat,- and, notwithstanding our well-known disregard of saints and canonized celebrities, the gory joints were considered by those arrant gluttons as incontestable proof of our good taste, sound divinity, and superior devotion.