Across India eBook

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

“Which, your honor?” asked Bargate blankly.

“I mean the bit of a basin you see nearly abreast of the ship,” the new leader explained, pointing out the locality.

The cockswain shoved off the stern of the boat, the oars dropped into the water, and the men gave way.  It was a pull of but a few minutes, and the barge shot into the basin, and came to a convenient landing-place.  On the shore they found Mr. Windham, one of the chief officials of the custom-house, who had been on board of the ship.  He was surrounded by a small mob of young Hindus, neatly dressed in the native garments of white cotton.  The ladies were assisted to the shore first.  All of the party carried small valises or satchels containing the needed articles for a few days’ stay at a hotel; and these natives took possession of them as they landed.

“What is this man, Sir Modava?” asked Mrs. Belgrave, as one of them relieved her of the bag she carried.

“He is your Khidmutgar, madam,” replied the Hindu knight, with a smile on his handsome face.

“My what?” demanded the lady.  “And must I pronounce that word?”

“Not unless you wish to do so.  This man is your servant, your waiter.”

“But what are we to do with such a lot of them?” inquired Mrs. Belgrave, as she looked upon the group of Hindus.

“There is only one for each person of the company; for every one must have his servant.  We are going to the Victoria Hotel, and this Khidmutgar will attend upon you at the table, and do anything you require.”

“I don’t think I shall need him all the time,” added the lady, who thought he would be a nuisance to her.

The young Hindus presented themselves to all the passengers as they landed, taking their small baggage, canes, and umbrellas.  Some of them had heard Sir Modava’s explanation, and Lord Tremlyn repeated it to others.  Most of them had decided to take things as they came, and accepted the custom of the country without any friction.  Mrs. Blossom looked rather wildly at the satellite who was to attend to her wants; but her good friend told her to say nothing, and she submitted without a word.

“Captain Ringgold,” said the viscount, as he brought forward a rather stout man, with spectacles on his nose, and an odd-looking cap or turban on his head, “this is Pallonjee Pestonjee, the proprietor of the Victoria Hotel.”

“I am happy to know you, sir,” replied the commander, as he took the hand of the gentleman, who was a Parsee, though he did not attempt to pronounce the name.

“We have half a dozen shigrams here,” continued his lordship.

“What are we to do with them, my Lord?” asked the captain.

“They are two-horse carriages; and, if you please, we will ride to the hotel in them,” laughed the distinguished guide.

The party seated themselves in the vehicles, which were of English pattern; and they saw cabs and omnibuses in the vicinity.  Taking Rampart Row, they passed the university, the court-house, and other public buildings, into Esplanade Road, leading to their destination, about a mile from the landing.

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Across India from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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