“That looks like a cemetery,” said Mr. Woolridge, as the steamer approached the point. “There is the lighthouse.”
The commander had left his party as the steamer approached the entrance to the harbor, and had gone forward. The ship had slowed down, and the captain spoke to the pilot about a convenient anchorage. The harbor was large enough to accommodate all the navies of the world, and there was no difficulty on this account. Lord Tremlyn had left his party to look at what was to be seen by themselves, and came forward to the pilot-house. The anchorage was settled.
“Captain Ringgold, if you please, we will now exchange places,” said the viscount. “Up to the present time we have been your guests; now I will become the host, and you and your party will be my guests. I beg you will raise no objections, my dear sir, and I shall feel very much wounded if you do not accept the hospitality I tender to you. You are at home on the sea as I am in Bombay.”
“You have put it in such a way that I cannot refuse to accept,” replied the commander, laughing at the corner in which he was placed. “For the present we are your guests, and we place ourselves entirely under your direction.”
“I am extremely happy to take you all under my protection; but I cannot submit to the proviso which you have added to my offer, though I will be satisfied to have you ‘for the present’ as my guests, and we will leave the future to take care of itself. But in whatever capacity we travel over India, or such portion of it as you may elect, it is rather necessary that we fix upon a plan for our operations.”
“I am quite agreed that we had better draw up a programme, and I shall depend upon your counsel in the matter,” replied the captain. “For the present, will you excuse me until the ship comes to anchor?”
“Here is the custom-house boat, and I suppose I must attend to that.”
“Leave that to me, if you please.”
In another half-hour the Guardian-Mother was at anchor off the Apollo Bunder, the wharf, or landing-place. The custom-house officers came on board; and, as the ship was not one of any regular line, a high official came off with them. As soon as he reached the deck he discovered his lordship, and rushed to him, bowed profusely, and addressed him in the most deferential manner.
“This is a very unexpected visit, my Lord, and in a steamer flying the American flag,” said he, as the viscount gave him his hand, a piece of condescension he appeared to appreciate very highly. “What has become of the Travancore?”
“She was wrecked in the Arabian Sea in a collision, and went to the bottom after holding us up for a few hours. We were rescued from certain death by this steamer, and we have been treated with the utmost kindness and consideration,” said his lordship quite hurriedly. “Sir Modava Rao and Dr. Ferrolan are on board. I am entirely devoted to those to whom we owe our lives, and I am in their service as long as they will stay in India. What is your business on board, Mr. Windham?”