I liked the hush, the gloom, the quaintness of these retreats in the day; but I by no means coveted a night’s repose on one of those wide and heavy beds: shut in, some of them, with doors of oak; shaded, others, with wrought old English hangings crusted with thick work, portraying effigies of strange flowers, and stranger birds, and strangest human beings, — all which would have looked strange, indeed, by the pallid gleam of moonlight.
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And yet with all the lights on and the music and the silhouetted figures behind the curtains moving around dancing, there was a strange festivity to the warm autumn air, as if the place were the site of a favorite seasonal fete, as in those old English novels of Sunny’s that I would glance at from time to time.
Chang-rae Lee -- A Gesture Life
In the middle of the 19th century, a 17-year-old English officer was ordered to organize the building of a road from Colombo to Kandy.