The houses the tourists passed were all of Indian style, and there were always towers and pagodas in sight. The region as they passed out of the city was rural; and finally they came to the great gates of the palace, which they entered. The grounds were covered with great trees and gardens, in the midst of which was a palace, where they found the cavalry drawn up and presenting arms. The elephants were made to kneel down as when the party mounted them, and they descended by means of ladders.
A host of servants ushered them into the palace, which Lord Tremlyn said had been appropriated to their use. Their luggage had already been sent to their apartments; and an hour later the company assembled in the grand salon, dressed to receive the Guicowar. His Highness did not “put on any style this time,” and was as sociable as any common person. He saluted the commander and Mrs. Belgrave; and then all the rest of the party were presented to him by the viscount, and Mrs. Blossom had nearly shaken herself to pieces during the ceremony.
A bountiful collation was then served in another apartment, at which the Maharajah presided. He spoke English as fluently as any person present, and was very affable to all. The Italian band played during the repast, and the Guicowar declared that it was the finest music he had ever heard. General Noury had been placed on his right as the one highest in rank of any present.
The king proved himself to be exceedingly well informed in regard to the United States, and was even able to talk intelligently with the gentlemen about Morocco. Though he had a wife, a mother, and a young daughter, they were never presented to the gentlemen of the party, though the ladies were permitted to make their acquaintance, and learned more from them about Hindu domestic life than they could have obtained from any others.
“To-morrow will be a great day in Baroda,” said Sir Modava to the commander. “It is the great Sowari, a procession such as none of your people ever saw, I will venture to say; and his Highness has provided places for all of you where you can see the whole of it in detail.”
The king announced this great state occasion himself before the lunch was finished, and gave the visitors a cordial invitation to witness the procession. The “Big Four,” a term of which the viscount and Sir Modava had already learned the meaning, were very impatient to do some hunting. They had brought their guns with them, and Louis informed the Hindu gentleman of their desire.
“Is there any place near the palace where we could find any game?” he inquired.
“Not in the palace grounds, but within a few miles of it a very rugged region may be reached, and a road-wagon will be provided for you. I will speak to the Guicowar about it,” replied Sir Modava; and he broached the subject at once.