“Before the mutiny, one British soldier to six Sepoys was about the proportion between them in numbers. The small discontents clustered around this grand error, and broke out in the mutiny. After its suppression, one of the first reforms of the government was to change the proportion of the soldiers; and now they are as one European to two natives. The government is liberal in the introduction of improvements. Now all the strategetic points are under the control of our own soldiers; and at present they constitute nearly the whole of the artillery force of the country. Peace and order have reigned since 1858, and it is not now believed that a rebellion is possible. I expect and hope to be with you for some time to come, and my companions and myself will do our best to inform you in regard to everything in which you may feel an interest.”
The viscount bowed very politely to his audience, and was hailed with all the enthusiasm which could be gathered up by a baker’s dozen Americans. All of them testified that they had been exceedingly interested in his address, especially that part relating to the mutiny.
“We shall be exceedingly happy in your company, my Lord, as long as you are pleased to remain with us,” added the commander. “I have done something towards preparing a route through India; and I should be glad to have the advice of such counsellors as we were so fortunate as to pick up in the midst of the rage of the stormy ocean.”
“The time of our party is at your disposal for as long a period as we can be of service to you. We do not wish to force ourselves upon you. We owe our lives to you, and we believe we may contribute to your pleasure and instruction; for we are at home here.”
“We did only our duty when we found you on the wreck; and anything in the nature of a recompense for the service which every sailor owes to his fellow-men, or to those who sail on the seas, would be repugnant to me, as it would be to my officers,” replied Captain Ringgold.
“I beg you will not regard my proposition as anything in the shape of a recompense; for all our fortunes and all our time for years to come would not be an adequate return for the immeasurable service you have rendered to us,” protested the viscount. “We have all been delighted with the manner in which we have been entertained on board of the Guardian-Mother; and without regard to our rescue from the very jaws of death, I declare, upon my honor as a gentleman, that you have won our hearts,—you, Mr. Commander, and all connected with you on board.”
“Amen!” shouted Dr. Ferrolan in a burst of enthusiasm.
“So say we all of us!” cried Sir Modava.
“Now permit me to say in all sincerity, that if our acquaintance had begun when we set foot on the deck of your ship, and the noble conduct of the ship’s company were entirely obliterated from our memories, we should feel as we do now,” said Lord Tremlyn.