“Lecturers!” exclaimed the distinguished guest. “Then a large number of your passengers must be scientific people.”
“Not at all, sir; the large majority of them are men and women of good education, and Professor Giroud is a learned Frenchman who has been a lecturer at various colleges and schools. Dr. Hawkes is a leading member of his profession, and is sometimes a lecturer in various medical and surgical institutions in New York. Both of these gentlemen are making this voyage to regain their health, injured by over-work.”
“You are fortunate in having such men on board,” added his lordship.
“But most of our lecturers are persons of fair education, and only three of them have been graduated from the university. We assign subjects to them some time in advance, and they prepare themselves for the occasion. This gives the unprofessional people an interest in the exercises they would not otherwise have. For example, Mr. Woolridge”—
“I beg pardon, but he is the father of the beautiful young lady who was seated at the table next to Mr. Belgrave, is he not?” interposed Lord Tremlyn.
“The same, sir. At first he considered the lectures a bore; and doubtless they were such to him, for he had been a sporting-man and a yachtsman, though he has since abandoned the races. But I gave him as a subject the horses and other animals of Egypt. He did very well with it in his peculiar way; and since that he is one of the most interested in the lectures,—or perhaps I had better call them simply talks,” added the commander.
“Then this voyage will create a new taste for him.”
“I have no doubt of it. He is a Fifth Avenue millionaire, and he is able to cultivate any taste he may acquire. Mr. Belgrave is one of our most useful speakers, for he studies his subjects very faithfully. He is a devoted student, speaks French fluently, and gets along very well with Spanish. This voyage is a college course for him.”
“Do your ladies take an interest in these lectures, Captain Ringgold?”
“All of them, though I have assigned a subject to only one of them. They all manifest their interest by asking questions. Like myself, Mrs. Belgrave and Mrs. Blossom are Methodists, while the Woolridge family are Episcopalians, though none of us are bigoted. The sisters of my church are very favorable to religious topics, such as were suggested on the Nile; and when we were near the land of Goshen and the Sinai peninsula Mrs. Belgrave spoke to us in this connection. Mrs. Blossom is one of the “salt of the earth,” a very good woman, very religious, and her studies have been confined to the Bible and her denominational newspapers. Her education was neglected, and she is rather tonguey, so that she asks curious questions; but we all esteem her very highly, though her American peculiarities may seem very odd to you.”
“I have known similar people in England, and your description of her leads me to respect the lady,” replied the titled gentleman, who appeared to be very democratic so far as homely merit was concerned.