His sahib was proceeding to give him a lecture in rather energetic terms, when Sir Modava interposed, and explained that the servant had religious scruples, knowing that the stamp had been wet on the tongues of the senders, which made it unclean to him, and he could not touch it.
“I have heard of a young man not older than Mobarak who lost his life rather than come in contact with the saliva of a foreigner; but I doubt if many would carry their fanaticism to that extent,” he added.
The next morning the party were up at six o’clock, and after they had taken their coffee, carried up to them by their servants, went out to walk by two and threes; but they returned by seven o’clock, and were assembled in the parlor. The sights in the streets had become rather an old story by this time, and there was not much to be said about them.
“Have you recovered from the fatigues of Saturday, Mrs. Belgrave?” asked Lord Tremlyn.
“Entirely, my Lord. I am quite ready for the next item in your programme,” replied the lady.
“How did you enjoy the play, madam?” inquired Sir Modava.
“As a religious exhibition, from my point of view, it was a failure.”
“It does not convey much of an idea of even the mythology of the Hindus,” added Professor Giroud. “If Krishna was a divinity, or even an incarnation of one, he is a very bad representation of the piety and morality of the gods. The affair was well enough as a love-story, but the conclusion looked like a pleasant satire on those authors who insist that their tales and novels shall have an agreeable ending;” and the professor indulged in a hearty laugh as he recalled the manner in which Satyavama had been brought back to life by the divinity in yellow paint.
“I like that kind of a winding up of a story, and I don’t like the other kind,” added the magnate of the Fifth Avenue. “We read novels, if we read them at all, for the fun of it, with some incidental information in the right direction. When I was a young man I had a taste for the sea, as most boys have, and I read Marryat’s novels with immense pleasure. In ’The King’s Own,’ after following the young fellow in his adventures all over the world, his life terminated just as he was reaching home, and I was disgusted. I have read most of this author’s books again, but I never looked into ‘The King’s Own’ a second time.”
“I think we all like to have a story ‘end well,’ though it was a rather violent bringing up Saturday night,” said Dr. Hawkes. “But the actresses in that play were all exceedingly pretty girls, and I did not suppose so many of them could be found in all India.”
“That was just what I was saying to Govind after the performance, and he laughed as though he would choke himself to death,” interposed Lord Tremlyn, laughing rather earnestly himself. “There was not a single female on the stage; for the custom of the theatre here does not permit women to appear, any more than it did in the time of Shakespeare.”