The Parsees kept their religious affairs to themselves, and the party were not to “assist” at the ceremony, which would have been an extra inducement to attend. Promptly at the hour named the carriages set the tourists and their volunteer guides down at the magnificent mansion of the father of the young man who was to enter the marriage state that evening.
The street in the vicinity of the house was brilliantly illuminated, and it was covered over with an awning, from which no end of ornamental lamps were suspended. Behind a mass of flowers—cartloads of them—a foreign orchestra was placed. As the carriages stopped at the door, the band began a military march, whose inspiring strains seemed to give an additional lustre to the elaborate decorations. It was easy for the guests to believe that they had been introduced into the midst of a fairy scene. Sahib Perbut appeared at the door as soon as the vehicles stopped, and took his lordship by the hand, and each of the guests were presented to him as they alighted. The host was not an old man, as the strangers expected to find him, since he had a son who was old enough to get married.
He was very richly dressed, and he was a gentleman of unbounded suavity. Taking Mrs. Belgrave by the hand, he conducted her into the house, the rest of the party forming a procession behind them. The Americans had been obliged to make a trip to the Guardian-Mother, to obtain garments suitable for such a “swell” occasion, and they were all dressed in their Sunday clothes.
If the exterior of the splendid mansion had challenged the admiration of the guests, the interior presented a scene of Oriental magnificence which might have astonished even the Count of Monte Cristo. The party were conducted to the grand and lofty apartment where the Nautch was to be given. Immense mirrors reflected the brilliancy of a thousand lights; the floor was covered with the richest of carpets, the luxurious divans and sofas were overspread with the cloths of Cashmere; the elaborate richness of the costumes of the Oriental guests, and the army of servants manipulating punkas, or fans, formed a scene not unlike, while it out-rivalled, the grand denoument of a fairy spectacle on the stage.
The procession of foreign guests were all seated in the most conspicuous divans; for if Lord Tremlyn had been the Prince of Wales, he and his friends could hardly have been treated with greater distinction, as he was the unofficial representative of the predominating influence in the affairs of India near the throne of the United Kingdom and the Empire. The party were immediately beset with servants offering them fruit and sherbets, and they were sprinkled with rose-water from silver flagons.
The Nautch girls were not the same the tourists had seen earlier in the day. There were more of them, and they were of a finer grain; in fact, the gentlemen, who were judges, declared that most of them were really pretty. They were seated on the floor in native fashion. They had great black eyes; their complexion was only the least tawny, and was paler than it would have been if they had lived on a more invigorating diet than rice and fruits.