For the health and prosperity of every country rain and sunshine are equally necessary. No place in the world is so miserably situated as to be deprived of sunshine all the year round. The only country which flourishes without any rain is Egypt. But even that strange land, although it is rarely visited with a shower, nevertheless depends on rain for its prosperity. Its peculiarity is that, instead of being watered by its own showers, it derives fertility from the heavy rains falling in Central Africa, which roll down to Egypt in the broad stream of the Nile.
In those lands in which rain predominates, the value of sunshine is more gratefully recognized owing to its rarity. Thus is England a favorite agricultural proverb says that `a peak of dust in March is worth a king’s ransom.’ On the contrary, in climes of almost continual sunshine immense value is attached to rain. Once upon a time a Persian king, having built a beautiful palace, asked a dervish to guess what it had cost. The holy ma replied that its cost must have bee a day’s rain, this being in his eyes the most natural way to express immense value.
In India the showers of the whole year are concentrated into a few short months, and for the greater part of the year the unclouded sun shines on the land from morning till evening. After eight months of almost unbroken sunshine it is no wonder that the weary people long for the blessed rain to come and revivify the parched earth. If the burst of the monsoon is delayed long after the usual date, all nature, animate and inanimate, droops and pines. The heat becomes so intense that man and beast have little energy for ay kind of work. Owing to the heat and the want of sufficient water, fever and cholera become more frequent. The best wells fail, and no water flows in the beds of the rivers, cattle and sheep begin to die of thirst, all agricultural work is suspended, the price of grain rises rapidly, and every one begins to discuss the melancholy prospect of a famine.