The sea outside was smooth; and at four o’clock in the afternoon the steamer was among the Malacca shoals, in the Gulf of Cambay, with a pilot on board. She soon entered the Tapti River, fifteen miles from its mouth. The band had scattered after the noonday concert, and the party took the chairs in Conference Hall.
“I suppose you wish to know something about the places you visit, ladies and gentlemen,” said Lord Tremlyn, rising before them, and bowing at the applause with which he was heartily greeted. “This is Surat, a hundred and sixty miles north of Bombay, on the Tapti River, which you may spell with a double e at the end if you prefer. It has a population of a hundred and ten thousand. It extends about a mile along this river, with the government buildings in the centre.
“The streets are well paved, and the houses are packed very closely together. There are four very handsome Mohammedan mosques here, so our friend the general will have a place to go to on our Friday.” The Mussulman bowed, and gave the speaker one of his prettiest smiles. “The Parsees, of whom a few families own half the place, are prominent in business, as in Bombay; and they supply the most skilful mechanics, the liveliest clerks, and the quickest boys in the schools. They have two fire-temples here. The Hindus, especially the Buniahs and the Jains, are as prominent as in Bombay. The city was founded before 1512; for then it was burned by the Portuguese, who did it again eighteen years later.
“It had a very extensive commerce in its earlier years, and flourished on its cotton trade during the American war. In 1811 it had a population of two hundred and fifty thousand; but five and thirty years later it had less than one-third of that; but has gained somewhat up to the present time. Nearly a hundred years ago it was the most populous city of India. But I do not propose to exhaust the subject, and now you may see for yourselves.”
His lordship and the Hindu gentleman, since their liberality had been whispered through the ship, were exceedingly popular, and both were warmly applauded whenever they opened their mouths. The party found enough to occupy their attention till the ship came to anchor, with its brass band in full blast, off the public buildings. A steam-launch came off for the passengers; for the hosts had written to every place they were to visit, and carriages were in readiness for them when they landed.
They rode over the town after a collation at a clubhouse, and saw all that was to be seen. They were quartered for the night at private residences, and there was almost a struggle to know who should receive them.
THE RECEPTION OF THE MAHARAJAH AT BARODA
India has nearly twenty thousand miles of railroads open and in use, and thousands more in process of construction. As in England, they are invariably called “railways.” They do not have baggage, but it is “luggage;” a baggage-car is unknown, for they call it a “van;” and the conductor is the “guard.” Our travellers had become accustomed to these terms, and many others, in England, and now used them very familiarly.