“I have also the pleasure to inform you that Lord Tremlyn and Dr. Ferrolan have indulgently permitted me to call upon them for the instruction in regard to India which they are so abundantly competent to give us,” continued the commander with a very pleasant smile upon his dignified countenance. “Their subjects have been arranged, and I congratulate you and myself upon the satisfaction with which we shall all listen to these able exponents of the present condition of this interesting country. Sir Modava Rao, ladies and gentlemen.”
The Hindu gentleman was again received with vigorous and long-continued applause. His handsome face, the expression of which was intensified by the fascinating smile that played upon his black eyes and around his finely moulded mouth, was not wasted upon the ladies, or even upon the gentlemen; and it was a considerable time before the plaudits of the company permitted him to speak; and he stood upon the rostrum bowing so sweetly that he was irresistible to the assembly.
“Mr. Commander, ladies and gentlemen,” he began, “I have no claim upon you for the exceeding warmth of the reception you have given me, and I thank you with all my heart for all your kindness to me, a shipwrecked stranger on board of your ship. I shall give you as briefly and clearly as I can what I know about the geography of India. I understand that this was the subject to be treated by Captain Ringgold; and I am confident that he could have done it quite as well as I can, though I am ‘to the manner born.’ But I will proceed with the subject, without wasting any more of your valuable time.
“India is a vast territory, forming the southern peninsula of Asia, with a population, including the native states, of very nearly two hundred and fifty-four million people,” continued the speaker, taking a paper from his pocket. “I have received a hint from your worthy commander that I ought to give a comparison of my figures with those of the United States, and our population is about four times as great as that of your country.
“The area in square miles is more than a million and a half, enough larger than your country to cover the State of Georgia;” and the speaker indulged in a cheerful smile. “I did not know what I am saying now till this morning; for I have been studying the ‘Statesman’s Year-Book,’ in order to comply with the commander’s request.
“The name of India came originally from the Persians, and was first applied to the territory about the Sindhu River, its Sanscrit name, the early literary language of India. A slight change, and the river was called the Hind, which is still the language of the natives, while the country around it is Hind, from which comes Hindu, and Hindustan; but these designations really belong to a province, though they are now given very generally to the whole peninsula,” continued Sir Modava, turning to the enormous map which had been painted by Mr. Gaskette and his assistants.