“Hind, or Hindustan, is the territory near the Jumna and Ganges Rivers, of which more will be said later,” as he pointed out these great watercourses, and then drew his pointer around Sind, now called Sinde, on the border of Beloochistan.
“How do you spell Hindustan, Sir Modava?” inquired Mrs. Belgrave. “We used to write it Hindoostan when I went to school.”
“I think the orthography of the word is a matter of fashion, for the letter u in most European and Asiatic languages is pronounced like the English oo; but it is now almost universally spelled with a u. It is now almost generally absorbed in the name of India, and the application of the term to the whole of the peninsula is entirely erroneous; and English authorities usually pronounce it so.
“The name India is now given to the peninsula lying to the eastward of the Bay of Bengal. Siam and Tongking are in native possession, or under the protection of France, while Burma is a part of the British Indian Empire. It was only last year that the French had a brush with Siam, and materially strengthened their position there; and it will not be a calamity when all these half-civilized nations are subjected to the progressive influences which prevail in India proper, in spite of all that is said about the greed for power on the part of the great nations of the world.
“But I am wandering from my subject. India is about 1,900 miles in extent from north to south, and 1,600 in breadth in latitude 25 deg. north. The boundaries of this vast country, established by nature for the most part, are the Bay of Bengal (now called a sea in the southern portion) on the south-east, and the Arabian Sea on the south-west. On the north the Himalaya Mountains separate it from China, Thibet, and Turkestan; but some of these countries are called by various names, as Chinese Tartary, Mongolia, Eastern Turkestan, and so on. On the west are Beloochistan and Afghanistan, and on the east Siam and China, though the boundaries were somewhat disturbed last summer in the former.”
“We used to pronounce the name of your great northern range of mountains Hi-ma-lay’-a; you do not call it so, Sir Modava,” said the commander.
“I have always called it Hi-mal’-a-ya, the a after the accented syllable being very slightly sounded; this is the pronunciation of all the Indian officials,” replied the speaker, with his pleasant smile. “These mountains consist of a number of ranges; they extend 1,500 miles east and west, and are the sources of the Indus, Ganges, and Brahmaputra. The highest is Mount Everest, the loftiest mountain in the world, 29,002 feet; and I could mention several other peaks which overtop any of the Andes. Himalaya means ‘the abode of snow,’ and the foot-hills are the resorts of the wealthy to obtain a cool climate in the summer.