The next morning after breakfast the carriages bespoken were at the door. The party seated themselves in the vehicles, which were English, and quite commodious, according to their own fancies; and it need only be said that the commander was in the one with Mrs. Belgrave, and Louis with Miss Blanche. The viscount directed the driver of his carriage to pass through Cruikshank Road to the Parsees’ Bazaar, which is just north of the Fort. Most of the Parsees and Bhorahs who do business here reside in the same section; and there were many fine houses there, though they are abundantly able to live at Breach Candy and Malabar Hill, the abode of the elite. The vehicles stopped at an attractive point, and the party alighted. They went into several shops, and were treated with the utmost politeness and attention.
In one of them they were invited into a small rear saloon, magnificently furnished, where they were presented by Lord Tremlyn to a Parsee gentleman. He was dignity and grace united. He was dressed in white throughout, except his cap, or turban, which was of darker material. He wore trousers, with white socks and slippers. His shirt appeared to be outside of his trousers, like the Russians, with a sort of vest over it. He wore a long coat, shaped like a dressing-gown, reaching nearly to the floor.
He was kind enough to call in his wife and little daughter. Both of them had pleasing faces. The lady wore a rich dress and a magnificent shawl, with a head-dress of gold and diamonds. The little girl had on bagging trousers like the Turkish women, and a heavily embroidered tunic, and both of them wore Indian slippers, with the toes turned up.
The ladies of the party were presented to the lady. She spoke English correctly and fluently, and the interview between them was exceedingly interesting to both sides. The Americans did not meddle with forbidden topics, as they had been cautioned not to do, such as their religion and burial rites; but they could not help thinking of this elegant lady’s comely form being torn to pieces by the crows and vultures in the Tower of Silence with absolute horror.
From the Bazaar the carriages proceeded through the Fort, and the public buildings were pointed out to them. At the Cotton-Green they got out; for the place was now alive with Parsees and other merchants, with plenty of coolies, some of whom were moving bales, and others sorting cotton. From this locality they rode through Colaba, and saw some native dwellings, as well as some fine European residences, with beautiful gardens around them. They alighted near the most southern point, and inspected a “bungalow,” which they were politely invited to enter. It was fitted up with a view to comfort rather than elegance, and the interior appeared as though it might be delightfully cool in the heat of summer.
“What do you call that house?” asked Mrs. Belgrave, as they returned to the road, which they call them all over the city, and not streets.