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Across India by Oliver Optic

She soon entered the Tapti River


just occurs to me, Captain Sharp," said the commander of the Guardian-Mother, as the former was about to leave, "that there is no reason for your going to Surat, for we can take the general, Dr. Henderson, and the band along with us. You have a voyage of two thousand miles before you."

"Which I can make in seven or eight days without hurrying," replied the captain of the Blanche. "I could get to Calcutta before you do if I sailed two weeks hence."

"Just as you please."

But General Noury seemed to like the idea of getting on board of the Guardian-Mother even for a day, and adopted the suggestion of Captain Ringgold.

"There is next to nothing to be seen at Surat, and we shall go from there immediately to Baroda, on our way to Lahore," interposed Lord Tremlyn. "The Maharajah of Gwalior is an old friend of Sir Modava, and I am well acquainted with him. I have no doubt we shall be very hospitably treated there, and that you will be introduced to many things that will interest you. If Captain Sharp desires to see some Indian sports, he can go with us to Baroda, stay a week, and then return to his ship here by railway."

"I like that idea, as my wife wishes to see a little more of India on shore, though she does not wish to take the long journey you are to make," added Captain Sharp.


plan was accepted, and the party separated. The next morning the carriages conveyed them to the Apollo Bunder, and at seven o'clock the Guardian-Mother was under way. The band was playing on the promenade, and the party were taking their last view of Bombay and its surroundings. Captain Sharp and his wife were on board. The three doctors formed a trio by themselves, and were discussing jungle fever, which existed in the low lands beyond Byculla.

The sea outside was smooth; and at four o'clock in the afternoon the steamer was among the Malacca shoals, in the Gulf of Cambay, with a pilot on board. She soon entered the Tapti River, fifteen miles from its mouth. The band had scattered after the noonday concert, and the party took the chairs in Conference Hall.

"I suppose you wish to know something about the places you visit, ladies and gentlemen," said Lord Tremlyn, rising before them, and bowing at the applause with which he was heartily greeted. "This is Surat, a hundred and sixty miles north of Bombay, on the Tapti River, which you may spell with a double _e_ at the end if you prefer. It has a population of a hundred and ten thousand. It extends about a mile along this river, with the government buildings in the centre.

"The streets are well paved, and the houses are packed very closely together. There are four very handsome Mohammedan mosques here, so our friend the general will have a place to go to on our Friday." The Mussulman bowed, and gave the speaker one of his prettiest smiles. "The Parsees, of whom a few families own half the place, are prominent in business, as in Bombay; and they supply the most skilful mechanics, the liveliest clerks, and the quickest boys in the schools. They have two fire-temples here. The Hindus, especially the Buniahs and the Jains, are as prominent as in Bombay. The city was founded before 1512; for then it was burned by the Portuguese, who did it again eighteen years later.

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