“Do you want to carry those snakes back to the palace?” asked Khayrat.
“What snakes?” asked Scott.
“I’ll be most happy to introjuce you to four uv ’em I killed,” added Felix; and Scott was convinced against his will, and the dead serpents were put on the wagon.
In another hour they reached the palace, and the game was exhibited to a wondering audience. The officers explained how so many of the cobras happened to be together; but Felix had reached a correct conclusion before. Mrs. Blossom scolded him for not running away when he saw the first one; but he declared he had to prove that a boy with Kilkenny blood in his veins was not afraid of snakes.
THE MAGNIFICENT PROCESSION OF THE SOWARI
Felix had to repeat his story, and he was regarded as quite a hero by the Americans, though Sir Modava and other natives thought but little of it. Mrs. Blossom continued to scold at him for not running away from the serpents.
“How could I run away when I was surrounded by the snakes?” demanded Felix, when the worthy lady’s discipline became somewhat monotonous to him. “If I had done what you say I should certainly have been bitten. I did better: I climbed the tree, and bagged the whole four at my leisure.”
“But snakes can climb trees,” persisted the excellent woman.
“I suppose they can, but they don’t always; and I knew the one nearest me wouldn’t do much climbing with a hole through his head. Besides, they say the cobra does not come at you unless you meddle with him, like the rattlesnake. I suppose I disturbed them, and they hoisted the flags to let me know they were in town. I wanted to reduce the number of the varmints a little.”
“But why did Khayrat tell me I ought not to have shot a monkey?” asked Morris.
“Because monkeys are harmless, and the Hindus consider them sacred. Before you get to Calcutta you will find them housed in temples. Besides, the natives are very tender of all animals,” replied Sir Modava.
“In the hospital for lame ducks and superannuated bullfrogs we visited in Bombay, do they take in sick cobras?” asked Felix. “Do they nurse lame tigers?”
“They do not; it would not be quite safe to do so. Morris, the monkey you shot will be decently buried,” said the Hindu gentleman.
“I am willing; for, though they eat them in some countries, I don’t hanker after any monkey-flesh,” replied the young hunter. “I met a man at my father’s house who had lived for years in Africa, and he said they ate the boa-constrictor there,—the natives did, not the white people.”
“So I have heard; but many Hindus never eat meat at all,” added Sir Modava, as the party retired to dress for dinner.
The party were to dine at the palace with the Guicowar, and it was to be a state dinner. Though contrary to Hindu etiquette, the ladies were all invited, and they were treated with “distinguished consideration.” It was a very elaborate occasion, and a few speeches were made at the last of it. The principal one was by the king himself, who enlarged upon his relations with Lord Tremlyn and Sir Modava, whom he regarded as two of his best friends.