They had but one child, Adela, who when the Nourmahal sailed from Madras was about eighteen years of age, and she, with her mother, had accompanied her father on his last and fateful voyage. In England the missing seaman had but one relative, a nephew named Francis Channing, who was a lieutenant in the Marines.
The cunning commissionnaires contrived to keep their places and make a living by sending his Majesty, now and then, a piquant photograph of some British Nourmahal of the period, freshly caught, and duly shipped, in good order for the harem; but the goods never arrived. Had the king's tastes been Gallic, his requisition might have been filled.
His Highness the Maharajah having invited us to a luncheon given by him in honour of Colonel Pears, the new Resident, we prepared to cross the famous Dal Lake to the Nishat Bagh, the scene of the present feast, which we fondly hoped might recall the glorious days of the Moguls when Jehangir dallied in the historic Shalimar with the fair Nourmahal.
Moonshee, her husband, ignorant alike of the topography, the language, and the rules of the place, had by mistake intruded in the sacred penetralia where lounged the favorite of the harem, to the lively horror of that shrinking Nourmahal, and the general wrath of the old women on guard, two of whom, the ugliest, fiercest, and most muscular, had dragged him, daft and trembling, to summary inquisition.
Nearly eighty years ago, when the news of Napoleon's downfall at Waterloo had not yet reached England's colonies in the Far East, a country ship named the Nourmahal sailed from Madras for the Island of Singapore.
And many other gorgeous tables, too, "Fishing vessels at New York," for one, listing the "trips" brought into this port by the Stranger, the Sarah O'Neal, the Nourmahal, a farrago of charming sounds, and a valuable tale of facts. Finest of all, as reporter, to go where the fish reporter goes.
The shrewd Moslem broker, turning a longing eye upon the precious stores of the royal warehouses, employs his wife, or a trusty slave, to approach this Nourmahal or that Rose-in-bloom with presents, and promises of generous premium to her whose influence shall procure for the bidder the acceptance of his proposal.
But the presents destined for the Rajahs never reached them; for from the day that she sailed from Madras roadstead the Nourmahal was never heard of nor seen again; and a year later no one but the relatives of the few Europeans on board thought any more about her. She had, it was conjectured, foundered in a typhoon, or been captured by pirates on her way through the Straits of Malacca.