“The outskirts of the town contain a hundred and fifty thousand inhabitants, far more than the city itself,” said the Hindu gentleman. “The streets are very narrow here, and the houses are nearly all of wood; but they are different from any you have seen before, for they are peculiar to Goojerat, the state of which Baroda is the capital. You see at about all the crossings pagodas and idols, with banners flying over them. It is an unhealthy region, the ground is so low; and yonder you see a stately hospital, built by the Guicowar, as the maharajah is called.”
The tourists had all they could do to see the strange things that were pointed out to them, and while thus employed the train stopped at the station. Looking out the windows again, they saw several elephants, all handsomely caparisoned, and with howdahs on their backs. A band of native musicians was playing near them, and the party wondered what this display could mean; but Sir Modava was unable to inform them. They got out of the carriages, and found themselves in a handsome square.
A company of cavalry was drawn up near the elephants, at the head of which, surrounded by a numerous staff of officers, sat on a prancing horse, caparisoned with exceeding richness, a person who could be no other than the maharajah. He was dressed in the most magnificent robes of India, covered with jewels in ornamental profusion.
“That is the Guicowar,” said the Hindu guide.
“He is doing us great honor in coming out in this manner to welcome us.”
As soon as he discovered the party, the ruler dismounted nimbly from his noble steed, and, attended by some high officers, advanced to meet them. A sort of procession was hastily formed with Lord Tremlyn at the head of it; for he was the most distinguished person, and in some sense the representative of the British home government. The Italian band of the general, as soon as the native band ceased, struck up “Hail, to the chief!”
The party encountered the king, who rushed up to the viscount, and seized him by the hand, as not all kings are in the habit of doing. They talked together for a few moments, when his Highness happened to see Sir Modava, and rushed to him, seizing him in a semi-embrace, clasping the Hindu with his right hand while the left encircled his shoulder. The potentate was profuse in his congratulations to the two gentlemen on their escape from death in the shipwreck, and this afforded Lord Tremlyn an opportunity to present Captain Ringgold as the commander of the steamer that had saved them.
“He is my friend, then,” said the Maharajah, as he gave him no equivocal shake of the hand.
Then Louis and his mother were presented and described, and received an equally warm welcome. But the prince decided to receive the rest of the party at the palace, and they were requested to mount the elephants. The ladies were timid about it; but Louis told his mother that she must get up into the howdah as though she had been riding elephants all her life, and she did so, the others following her example. Louis assisted his mother first, and then Miss Blanche.