Across India eBook

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

“On our right is Byculla, one of the divisions of the city, and a business quarter, where you will find the retail shops, though they are not all here,” said the viscount.  “This locality is generally called the Fort; for though its walls have been removed, it retains the old name.  Just below the Apollo Bunder, where we landed, are the Grant buildings, or warehouses.  Perhaps you saw them from the deck of the ship.  Below these, at the extremity of the point, is Colaba, the native town, which is largely occupied by commercial buildings.  But we shall ride over this ground again, and you will have the opportunity to see the various structures in detail.”

But the tourists were not very much interested in the buildings; for they wanted to see India, its manners and customs, and for the last year they had been seeing edifices as noted as any in the world, though they had yet to be introduced to the temples and palaces of this country, which were different from anything they had seen before.

They soon arrived at the Victoria Hotel; and the khidmutgars, carrying the light baggage, were not behind them, though they had run all the way from the bunder.  The landlord had come in a carriage.  Felix McGavonty, who was the captain’s clerk, had made out several lists of the passengers, at the request of Lord Tremlyn; and one of them had been sent to the hotel, so that their rooms were already assigned to them.  Their servants appeared to be familiar with the Victoria, and they were taken to their apartments at once.

“What the dickens do we want of all these fellows?” asked Scott when they had been conducted to a room with four beds in it.  “They will be a nuisance to us.”

“We don’t need all you fellows,” added Louis Belgrave, turning to his servant.  “We are accustomed to wait on ourselves.  One of you is enough for all of us.”

“No, Sahib; no khidmutgar waits on more than one gentleman,” replied Louis’s man, with a cheerful smile, displaying a wealth of white teeth which would have been creditable to an Alabama negro.

“That’s what’s the matter, is it?” added Scott.  “I have learned that no Hindu will do more than one kind of work, take care of more than one person; and no groom will take care of more than one horse.  If you have six horses, you must have six hostlers.  That is what Sir Modava told me.”

“Custom is law here, and we must follow the fashions,” replied Louis.  “What is your name, my boy?” he continued, turning to his servant.

“Sayad, sahib,” answered he.

Scott’s was Moro, Morris’s was Mobarak, and Felix’s was Balaya; but the last two were speedily abbreviated into “Mobby” and “Bally,” to which the young Hindus offered no objection.  They were all under twenty years of age, and spoke English passably well.

“Here, Sayad! black my shoes,” said Louis, determined to make use of his servant.

“I don’t clean the shoes,” replied the fellow, shaking his head.  “I call the porter;” and he did so.

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Across India from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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