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Across India by Oliver Optic

Sir Modava retired from the stand


"Colombo

is the capital of Ceylon. It is about seventy miles from Point de Galle, on the south-west coast of the island. It has a population of almost 127,000, which has been increased at the expense of Galle, as we generally call it to economize our breath. It is located on a peninsula, with the sea on three sides of it, with a lake and moat on the land side. By the way, Mr. Woolridge, do you happen to remember the Italian name of Christopher Columbus, whose discovery of America you are to celebrate at Chicago this year?"

"Cristoforo Colombo," replied Morris promptly. "I read it on his monument at Genoa last summer."

"Quite right, my young friend; and that is where the capital of Ceylon obtained its name, which the Portuguese gave it, in honor of the great discoverer, only twenty-five years after the great event of his life. The buildings are about the same as you will observe in all British colonial towns, and I need not mention them. You will ride out to Lake Colombo, and visit the cinnamon gardens there. The breakwater, which has been the making of the city, cost L600,000; for it is an entirely safe harbor, with every facility for landing and embarking passengers and goods. I believe nothing is left to you but to see what his lordship and I have described."

Sir Modava retired from the stand; and the band started into an overture, which was hardly finished before the bell for lunch

sounded. Before the collation was finished the ship had taken a pilot, and in due time the Guardian-Mother came to anchor at her last port in India proper. As the ship came into the harbor she passed abreast of the Blanche, and was greeted with three cheers, which were promptly and vigorously returned.

Accommodations had been bespoken by Lord Tremlyn, and early in the afternoon the party were quartered in the Elphinstone. Carriages were obtained, and before night they had visited the principal parts of the town, and even the cinnamon gardens, in which they were greatly interested; and some of the ladies told what it was good for, both as a spice and a medicine.

"I suppose you know all about cinnamon, Mrs. Belgrave," said Sir Modava, as they were looking at the trees.

"I only know enough about it to put it in my apple-pies when I make them."

"This island produces the finest article in the world. It is a very old spice, mentioned in the Old Testament, though I forget the name by which it is there called," added the Indian gentleman.

"But I did not suppose it grew on a tree; I had an idea it was a root."

"No; it is the inner bark of the trees before you. They are from twenty to thirty feet high, and are sometimes a foot and a half through. But the cultivated plant is not allowed to grow more than ten feet high. The leaves average five inches long, and taste more like cloves than cinnamon. There are two crops a year in Ceylon, the first in March, the last in November. The bark is taken off with considerable labor and care, and when it dries it curls up as you find your stick cinnamon."


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