18th May 1862

My dear Mother

It is with pleasure I again sit down to write to you although I did not keep my word in writing last Mail; it was not laziness. I have been working night and day for sometime as it has been the close of the Official Year and there only being myself here, I have had a great deal to do in taking an account of my Stock. But I have got over it now, which is good job.

Well I received your letter the day before yesterday, and was happy to find you were well, although you mentioned you had been poorly. I also received the Scale of Prices that you got from Mr Boyd, and they are so useful, you must give my best thanks to Mr Boyd for taking the trouble.

I was not at home when it arrived. We had three days holiday, and I went to a place called Hurdwar (editors note: Haridwar). It is at the foot of the hills, just where the river Ganges leaves the hills, and is considered a holy place by the Hindoos. The head priest, or fakeer, lives there on the top of a hill. The people come from all parts of India to this place to bathe in one particular spot, men and women indiscriminately.  It is the strangest sight one could behold; they would drown themselves (and  so be sure of heaven) if the authorities were not to be very careful. There were Millions of people there, the whole country round as far as the eye could reach was one mass of human beings. The roads leading up to the Ghat or place where they bathed, is about the length of Leith Walk, and that was packed closer than ever you saw anything packed in your life. But they are so excited they care not what comes over them so long as they get to this place. I should never have got there only I was on an Elephant and he made a way for himself; and to hear the poor Devils screeching when he squeezed them over tight. But without it would be a good thing if professing Christians was only half as zealous as they are.

Fancy a man passed through here sometimes before the fair; he had come from the Bombay Presidency and I suppose has been travelling for the last two or three years. He had travelled all the way measuring his length on the ground. He would lay down at full length on his face, make a mark at the top pf his head, rise up and walk up to that mark, put his toes to it and lay down again, and so on. I am afraid it would tire the patience of the greatest Christian going; and if you only saw all that they travel, thousands of miles, for it would astonish you only a couple of dips in the river at that particular spot. But it has a miraculous virtue attached to it. After the dip they are free of any sin they committed previously, so it is very handy in one way-they can commence afresh again with a clean sheet.

I was given to understand that you could purchase all sorts of Indian curiosities, but I saw none. I certainly saw some beautiful shawls from Cashmere (Kashmir), but a fearful price 500 and 1000 rupees (£50 and £100) each, which was above my mark. I was heartily sick of it before I got back.

We have had strange weather this year. No hot winds at all. We have had a good deal of rain and the other day we had a hail storm such as no one had ever seen the like of-it was not hail as you see it but balls of ice, some that I picked up on the Verandah after they had fell on the ground. And it must have been broken with the force they came down was not less one inch and one and a half before they broke on the roof which is flat brick. One, it was like a brigade of infantry at independent firing from flanks to centre.

I am happy to say little Jamie is all right, as lively as a bee and old Jim is quite very dull and lonely. Jamie has such a fine ear for Music. You would be amused to hear him sing with me, he taking the air and I the Bass and as we pass our nights, some times. I have sent nothing as yet but do not think it will not come. It is very hard to get things here, only now and then, when they are passing to or from the hills.

Trusting this finds all well. You mentioned about papers I never received one. Little Jamie is now at “Dance Matchmen Dance”.

Bye Bye

I remain your affectionate Son

James Johnston