“The hotel is not in this direction,” replied the horseman with much suavity. But at this moment the driver had something to say, and delivered himself with energy. “He says you engaged him to take you to Mavalipoor,” the rider explained. Louis stated their position, that when the cartman said “Mavalipoor” they had assented, without knowing what he meant.
“You can make it all right with the man by giving him a rupee when he leaves you at your hotel,” replied the gentleman, laughing heartily at the mistake, and then informed them that there were some Hindu temples at Mavalipoor, more than thirty miles distant, that were visited by strangers. He then ordered the driver to convey his fare to the Royal Hotel, in a very peremptory manner, and the man obeyed. Thanking the gentleman for his kindness, they parted. The cartman was in a hurry now, and he urged his humpbacked bullocks into a lively trot.
At the door the boys gave the driver two rupees, and the fellow salaamed as though he had received a guinea. There are plenty of landaus in Madras at three rupees a day; and the dak, as the cart is called, and palanquins are becoming things of the past. Tiffin was ready; and a line of carriages was at the door waiting for the tourists when they had disposed of the lunch, and they seated themselves for a drive.
“I warn you,” said Sir Modava, as the carriages drove off, “that you will find little here to interest you, after visiting, as you have, the principal cities of India.”
“We are about tired of sight-seeing,” added Mrs. Belgrave rather languidly; and this was about the situation of most of the party.
They passed the People’s Park, an inviting enclosure, with ponds and pleasant walks, to the Black Town, which contains the homes of the natives, though there are plenty of shops; and it is crossed by several good avenues. They came to a street like that called The Strand in Calcutta, and they drove the whole length of it. They passed into Fort St. George, which seemed to be a city of itself. Leaving it, they crossed the little river that meanders through the town, and flows into the ocean at this point.
On this shore road were the principal public buildings of the city, and near the end of it was St. Thomas’s Cathedral. This is said to be the site where the apostle of this name, “Doubting Thomas,” was martyred. Early tradition buried him in Edessa, in Mesopotamia, but a later account sent him to India; but this is something for learned doctors to discuss. At St. George’s Cathedral the party entered to see the statue, made by Chantrey, of Bishop Heber, who looks gently and tenderly upon a native convert at his feet.
They rode all over the town, and found several ponds, called tanks; and the great fort is washed on one side by the river. The second day the party were driven into the suburbs. At a rocky point on the river they found a party of half-naked men washing sheets and pillow-cases. The ladies were interested, and the carriages stopped to enable them to see the operation. They had something like washboards, laid on the bank of the stream, which they were hammering with all their might with the sheets, standing in the shallow water as they did so. Mrs. Blossom declared they must tear them all to pieces, and she was quite indignant at the way it was done.