“The beard of the holy Prophet!” he announced, with a reverent inclination of his head; and the two Mussulmans of the party followed his example.
“According to the tradition, this hair really came from the beard of Mohammed,” said Sir Modava. “I believe it, because I have inquired into its history. It is the glory of this mosque and of Delhi, for only three others exist in the world. You need not believe it is genuine if you prefer not to do so.”
They were also permitted to gaze at one of Mohammed’s old shoes, a belt, and some of the clothing of the Prophet. A number of dusty ancient manuscripts were exhibited, copies of the Koran, one in fine characters, said to have been dictated by Mohammed himself. The party returned to the carriages, filled with admiration of the magnificent structure they had visited, and were driven to the palace of the emperors, now turned into the fort.
They left the landaus at a point selected by Abbas-Meerza, from which an excellent view of the ancient structures could be obtained. It was a magnificent building, whose dimensions the Americans could hardly take in. The most prominent features from the point of observation were a couple of octagonal towers, very richly ornamented, with several small domes at the summit, supported on handsome columns.
The party entered at the principal gate, and came to the guard-house, which was filled with British soldiers wearing straw helmets and short white coats. A soldier offered his services as a guide, and they were accepted. He gave the Hindu names of the apartments. The Dewani-Am was the hall of audiences, from which they passed to the Dewani-Khas, the throne-room, both of which recalled the Alhambra, which they had visited a few months before. The pillars, arches, and ornaments were similar, though not the same.
The tourists wandered through the pavilion, the emperor’s rooms in the palace, the bath, and numerous apartments. But in transforming this magnificent palace of the emperors into barracks, much of the original beauty had been spoiled; the lapse of years had made great rents in the walls, and the visitor was compelled to exercise his imagination to some extent in filling up what it had been centuries before.
Abbas-Meerza was a very companionable person, and made the acquaintance of every one in the company. He then invited them all to dine with him that day, as he had evidently intended to do in the morning, for the dinner was all ready when they arrived at his palace. He was a magnate of the first order, and his apartments were quite as sumptuous as those of the Guicowar of Baroda. The dinner was somewhat Oriental, but it was as elegant as it was substantial.
The noble host apparently wished to show the Americans what the Mussulmans of India could do, and he crowned his magnificent hospitality by inviting the entire company to install themselves in his mansion, which was large enough for a palace; but for the reasons already set forth, the invitation was gratefully declined. The next morning the travellers visited the Mosque of Pearls, where the ancient emperors came to perform their devotions. The interior is of carved ivory.