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Across India by Oliver Optic

Addressing the officer from the Blanche


hands all went up; and the party seemed to be greatly amused at the operation of voting. The presiding officer declared that it was a unanimous vote, and the invitation was accepted.

"Not quite unanimous, Mr. Commander," interposed Louis Belgrave. "Mr. Scott did not vote."

"You wish to vote in the negative, Mr. Scott?" inquired the captain.

"I do not intend to vote at all, Captain," replied the third officer. "It would be a little cheeky for me to vote to leave the ship without the permission of the captain or of the first officer."

"'In colleges and halls in ancient times there dwelt a sage called Discipline;' and a very good old fellow he was to have about, and quite as good on board ship as in institutions of learning. Do you wish to accept the invitation, Mr. Scott?" asked the commander.

"I should be exceedingly happy to do so."

"Then ask Mr. Boulong's permission."

"Granted!" shouted the first officer, who stood within hearing.

"Mr. Bland, give my compliments to Captain Sharp, and inform him that his invitation is unanimously accepted by both passengers and guests, and we will be on board at five o'clock," said Captain Ringgold, addressing the officer from the Blanche; and he went over the side into

his boat.

"You don't give us much time to get ready, Mr. Commander," said Mrs. Belgrave, as all the ladies hurried away to the cabin to prepare for the grand occasion that had so suddenly dawned upon them.

"Elaborate toilets are hardly expected at sea, out of sight of land. Claw-hammer coats are not imperative, gentlemen," said the captain.

Though the two steamers were not in a hurry, both of them resumed their course as soon as the Blanche's boat was hoisted up to the davits; for it is part of the shipmaster's gospel to "keep moving" under all possible circumstances, and to lose no time in arriving at his destined port. All the passengers went below to prepare for the dinner. The Blanche had come within fifty yards of her consort, as the sea was quite smooth.

"Where is that music, Mr. Boulong?" asked the captain, opening the door from his cabin to the pilothouse.

"From the Blanche, Captain."

"But it seems to be a band. Is it an orchestrion?"

"Not at all; there are eight pieces of music on the promenade deck. It seems that His Highness has a small band on board, though I have not heard it before," added the first officer.

The commander thought the music was very fine, and he concluded that Captain Sharp was running near the Guardian-Mother for the purpose of giving the band an introduction to the consort. Besides the ship's company, there was no one on board of the Blanche but the general and Mrs. Sharp; and the Pacha, accustomed as he was to merriment and revelry, must have been rather lonesome. But it was already proved that he was a reformed man, and had entirely changed his manner of life.

The barge, which was a large eight-oar boat, had been made ready to lower into the water, and the gangway had been rigged out. Though it was winter, the ship was in 18 deg. north latitude, and the weather was as mild and pleasant as in midsummer. There was no spray, and the ladies could go to the Blanche as comfortably as in a carriage on shore.

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