Across India eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 268 pages of information about Across India.

At quarter before five the gong was sounded in the cabin and on deck to call the party together in the boudoir, where they were to assemble.  The ship stopped at the mandate of the captain, and the barge was lowered, and brought to the gangway.  The boat was as handsome as anything that ever floated, and the stern-sheets were luxurious enough for a fairy craft.  The crew of nine were all dressed in their white uniforms, and sat with their oars tossed, except the cockswain, who stood bolt upright abaft the back-board.

There were sixteen in the party, and the “Big Four” made their way to the fore-sheets; the ladies were handed into the stern by the three guests, and the barge shoved off.  The Blanche had taken a position on the beam of the Guardian-Mother, her band playing for all they were worth.  Captain Sharp was on the platform of the gangway, and took every lady by the hand as he assisted her to disembark.  At the head of the gangway on deck stood General Noury, who received the ladies, all of whom he had met before; and the distinguished guests were presented to him, after which he shook hands with every other member of the party.  He was especially respectful, and even reverential, to the commander of the Guardian-Mother, who had forgiven so much in his past conduct.

Mrs. Sharp came in for a large share of the consideration of the visitors.  An hour was spent in the drawing-room, as they called the deck cabin, which was as large as the boudoir and music-room of the Guardian-Mother.  The band had laid aside their brass instruments, and organized as an orchestra, stationed in a sort of recess in the forward part of the cabin.  The general conversed with every person in the party; and when Scott addressed him as “Your Highness,” he protested that he did not wish to hear the expression again.

He talked French with Louis, Italian with Sir Modava, and Spanish with Lord Tremlyn; for it was understood that he spoke at least half a dozen languages besides his own, and the guests found he was equally fluent in all they knew.  To Miss Blanche he was very polite; but he did not give a moment more to her than to the other ladies, much to the satisfaction of her parents.

The dinner was fully equal to Mr. Sage’s best efforts, and the occasion was as hilarious and as pleasant as it could be.  Possibly the English guests missed their wine on such an occasion.  Lord Tremlyn declared that he seldom drank it at all, and Dr. Ferrolan said the same; and Sir Modava was the strictest sort of a teetotaler, having been engaged in preaching this doctrine among the Sepoys as opportunity offered.  The captain of the Blanche informed the commander of the Guardian-Mother that the general had never touched wine since he came on board.

After dinner several of the gentlemen sang songs, and the general gave one in Moroccan, which amused the party, though they could not understand a word of it.  Later in the evening Captain Ringgold made a speech complimentary to General Noury, and wished him many happy returns of the occasion they celebrated.  He was followed by Dr. Hawkes, Uncle Moses, Professor Giroud, and then by the three distinguished guests from the Travancore.

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Across India from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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