“There are plenty of deer to furnish a dainty and healthy diet for the meat-eating wild animals, including the lion, which is not much of a king of beasts here, the hyena, the lynx, and the wolf. All of these last take a back seat compared with the tiger. Game and other birds would make a hunter’s paradise if it were not for the snakes and tigers, which are unpleasant to an American when his piece is loaded with only birdshot.
“In the towns on the sea the fish are excellent, and an important industry is curing and smoking them for the markets. In the mountain streams the fishing is very good; but in the warm waters of the streams on the plains, as in Egypt, the fish are soft, and neither palatable nor healthy. Leaving the snakes to the tender mercies of the gentleman from Travancore, I will make my bow,” which he did, and stepped down.
He was politely applauded, and the strangers seemed to enjoy his discourse more than the rest of the party.
The Flora and the snakes of India
The middle of the day was devoted to recreation. It was a very pleasant day after the storm, and the ship had again struck into the north-east monsoon. While most of the company were planking the promenade deck, it was observed that Lord Tremlyn and Dr. Ferrolan had retired to the library; for though they were very familiar with India and its people, they desired to freshen their memory among the books.
Miss Blanche was walking the deck with Louis on one side of her, and Sir Modava on the other. All the ladies had declared over and over again that the latter was a very fascinating man; but he was a person of discernment, and he could not very well help seeing that the young millionaire had a special interest in the beautiful young lady.
Like a small boy, the young couple ate sugar because they liked it, and not to swell the saccharine importance of the article, and probably never gave a thought to the natural results of their daily intimacy. It is absolutely certain that they had never indulged in any actual “spooning;” for Louis had never proceeded far enough to call the fair maiden by her given name, without “Miss” before it, precisely as everybody else in the cabin did. They were entirely respectful to each other, and she invariably addressed him as Mr. Belgrave.
[Illustration: “Miss Blanche was walking the deck with Louis and Sir Modava.”—Page 90.]
They were not as familiar as brother and sister, and doubtless neither of them reasoned over the situation, or considered to what it might lead. Though Miss Blanche was with Louis most of the time when they were on deck, and walked and rode with him when they were on shore, she was just as kind and pleasant with all the members of the “Big Four;” and when Louis was engaged in a special study, as when he was preparing his “talk for the conference,” Scott or Felix found a chance for a promenade with her. But everybody else on board understood the situation better than those the most intimately concerned. But no one had any objection, not even Mrs. Belgrave or the parents of Miss Blanche.