“The Mohammedans here are an important class of people, and some of them are very wealthy, and are honest and upright merchants. They are very strict in the observance of their religion, and not one of them would eat pork or drink wine or liquors. If it were the beginning of their year, which is different from ours, you might witness a celebration of the day. It is called the Mohurrum, and takes place on the shore of the Back Bay. They construct a great number of temples of gilt paper, and after marching with them in procession through the city, they cast them into the sea. I do not quite understand what it means; but the first month is usually a time of mourning and fasting in commemoration of the sufferings of the two nephews of the Prophet. The ceremony at the water is very ancient.”
“The wives of Mussulmans here have more liberty than in most Eastern countries. They go about the streets with their faces uncovered, and are clothed for the most part like the Hindu women. As they appear in the street they are not so neat as the other native females, who spend much time in bathing, and are always clean and tidy. I have nothing more to say at present.”
“I have an announcement to make,” said Captain Ringgold. “To-morrow forenoon we shall return to the Guardian-Mother, and sail for Surat.”
The party spent the rest of the day in excursions about Bombay in three parties, each under the direction of one of the hosts.
THE UNEXAMPLED LIBERALITY OF THE HOSTS
The Blanche, the elegant white steam-yacht of General Noury, which had sailed in company with the Guardian-Mother from Aden, and which had assisted in the rescue of the crew of the Travancore, had come into the harbor of Bombay, and lay at anchor not half a mile from her consort. The owner was a Moor of the highest rank, and a Mohammedan; and he had friends in Bombay, though he had never been there before. He had written to them of his intended visit, and they had taken possession of him on his arrival.
The general had been invited, with Captain and Mrs. Sharp, to join the party of her consort in the business of sight-seeing; and Lord Tremlyn and Sir Modava had united with Captain Ringgold in the invitation. The commander of the Blanche had visited the party on shore; but he was engaged in making some changes on board of his ship which required his attention. The Mohammedan magnates had kept the general very busy, night and day, and feted him like a king.
Lord Tremlyn had taken care of the engineers and other people of the wrecked steam-yacht, and had treated everybody in a subordinate capacity with princely liberality. He and his Indian associate were both multi-millionaires, with fortunes inherited from their ancestors and other relatives; and unitedly they had placed a large sum of money in the hands of the captains of the two steamers, to be equitably distributed among their ships’ companies. Captain Ringgold remonstrated against this lavish gift to his own people.