Travelling by rail is a mechanical affair. Get into the train, and off you go. The charm and poetry of travel are gone, but still a journey by rail is not so dull and uninteresting. It is certainly very convenient, and saves lot of time and worry. A third class bogey carriage crowded to suffocation furnishes a good lesson in the study of human nature. There are so many kinds of people, such a variety of dress and occupation, so much noise, and such random talk covering a multiplicity of subjects that one need not have even a single dull moment. If there is silence, you can borrow a cigarette, and break the ice. Smoking people fraternize very quickly.
The other day, I got into the train at Lahore. I was bound for Rawalpindi. We passed through an interesting country and had good company throughout. In our compartment, we had people of all castes and creed. Even the sweepers were conscious of their equality with others in the train, for had they not paid the same fare? They threw the yellow ticket in the face of everyone who objected to their sitting on the same bench with him. The railway is indeed a great traveler.
We passed many villages and cities, and a glimpse of these we had from a distance invested them with peculiar charm, fields, and gardens with a cluster of fruit trees were passed. Birds flitted across the landscape. Tongas driven by weary horses made us sensible of the advantage we had in our conveyance over those less fortunate travelers. The cattle wallowing in muddy tanks, the farmers plowing the fields, idle people sitting and smoking under the village tree, the thatched huts, and the mosques were very interesting and picturesque sights. Children made faces at us, and women and old men stared at us in wonder. Nor was the company inside less interesting. We had two or three very jolly men who entertained us with songs and witty remarks. We passed cities like Gujranwala and Gujrat which with their lofty buildings, turrets, and high chimneys appeared to be large and flourishing.
We changed at Jhelum. We found ourselves now in a different world, among people who spoke a different language and wore a different dress. The rush was very great, but we managed to make our way into a second class compartment reserved for the servants of first-class passengers. The tunnels in the hills through which we passed gave us an idea of the wonderful achievements of modern engineering science. The train was going up-hill. It rollicked on the rails on the brink of steep hills, and our hearts trembled, lest one inch this side or that might hurl us down into eternity, but the train moved on heedless of any danger, and we reached Rawalpindi which was our destination.