The general replied to all of them at the close of the entertainment. He was a pleasant speaker, and his handsome face added a great deal to his words. The affair was declared to be a great success for a dinner-party at sea, and the commander of the Guardian-Mother invited all their hosts to assist him in a similar one on board his ship, the signal for which was to be the American Union Jack when the weather was suitable.
The party returned to their ocean home; and the commander spent the rest of the evening in telling his guests the story of General Noury, and especially of his wonderful reformation.
“Then Captain Sharp really saved his life?” added Lord Tremlyn.
“No doubt of it. The two ruffians in a street of Messina had disabled the general, and would certainly have finished him if the captain had not wounded one with his revolver, and tackled the other. He owes his life to Sharp without a doubt. Mrs. Sharp took care of him for quite a time while he was recovering from his wound, and she made a deep impression upon him. He is a Mohammedan, and he sticks to his religion; but even that is capable of making a better man of him than he was before.”
“I was much pleased with Mrs. Sharp, not because she is an English woman, but because she is a very worthy person,” added his lordship.
“You are quite right, my lord, and she has had a romantic history;” and before they retired he had told the whole of it.
At the usual time the next day the company were assembled in Conference Hall; and when the commander announced that Lord Tremlyn would address them on the general subject, “The People of India,” they manifested their interest by a liberal salvo of applause.
THE POPULATION AND PEOPLE OF INDIA
“Ladies and gentlemen, I am happy to appear before you, and to look you all in the face,” his lordship began as the applause subsided. “The task befaw me is to put a gallon of fluid into a pint pot. It cawn’t be done. I shall not attempt to do what is quite impossible. I can only put in what the vessel will hold. I cawn’t say all there is to be said about the people of India in an hour, or even two or three hours.”
The noble gentleman was an easy, pleasant, and fluent speaker, evidently quite accustomed to addressing public assemblies; but he had certain peculiarities of speech, a very few of them, which sounded just a little odd to the Americans, as doubtless some of their pronunciation did to the Britons. But there is hardly a perceptible difference in the pronunciation of highly trained speakers of one nation and the other. It is not necessary to indicate any farther the slightly peculiar speech of the accomplished gentleman.
“I can only select from the mass of material before me what I think will be most interesting and useful to you; for I have been warned that I must not talk all day,” continued the viscount.