There was a notable wedding at Baroda, the capital of one of the Native States of the same name, while we were in India, and the Gaikwar, as the ruling prince is called, expressed a desire for us to be present. He has a becoming respect for and appreciation of the influence and usefulness of the press, and it was a pleasure to find so sensible a man among the native rulers. But, owing to circumstances over which we had no control, we had to deny ourselves the gratification of witnessing an event which few foreigners have ever been allowed to see. It is a pity winter is so short in the East, for there are so many countries one cannot comfortably visit any other time of year.

Baroda is a non-tributary, independent native state of the first rank, lying directly north of the province of Bombay, and its ruler is called a "gaikwar," which signifies "cowherd," and the present possessor of that title is one of the biggest men in the empire, one of the richest and one of the greatest swells. He is entitled to a salute of twenty-one guns, an honor conferred upon only two other native princes, the Maharajah of Mysore and the Nizam of Hyderabad. He is one of the ablest and one of the most progressive of the native princes. His family trace their descent back to the gods of mythology, but he is entirely human himself, and a handsome man of middle age. When we saw him for the first time he had half a dozen garlands of flowers hanging around his neck, and three or four big bouquets in his hand, which, according to the custom of the country, had been presented to him by affectionate friends. It was he who presented to the City of Bombay the beautiful statue of Queen Victoria which ornaments the principal public square. It is one of the finest monuments to be seen anywhere, and expressed his admiration of his empress, who had shown particular interest in his career. The present gaikwar was placed upon the throne in 1874 by Lord Northbrook, when he was Viceroy of India, to succeed Malhar Rao, one of those fantastic persons we read about in fairy stories but seldom find in real life. For extravagant phantasies and barbaric splendors he beat the world. He surpassed even those old spendthrifts of the Roman Empire, Nero, Caligula and Tiberius. He spent a million of rupees to celebrate the marriage ceremonies of a favorite pigeon of his aviary, which was mated with one belonging to his prime minister. But the most remarkable of his extravagant freaks was a rug and two pillow covers of pearls, probably the greatest marvel of all fabrics that were ever woven since the world was made.

The carpet, ten feet six inches by six feet in size, is woven entirely of strings of perfect pearls. A border eleven inches wide and a center ornament are worked out in diamonds. The pillow covers are three feet by two feet six inches in size. For three years the jewel merchants of India, and they are many, were searching for the material for this extraordinary affair. It cost several millions of dollars and was intended as a present for a Mohammedan lady of doubtful reputation, who had fascinated His Highness. The British Resident at his capital intervened and prohibited the gift on the ground that the State of Baroda could not afford to indulge its ruler in such generosity, and that the scandal would reflect upon the administration of the Indian Empire. The carpet still belongs to the State and may be seen by visitors upon a permit from one of the higher authorities. It is kept at Baroda in a safe place with the rest of the state jewels, which are the richest in India and probably the most costly belonging to any government in the world.

The regalia of the gaikwar intended for state occasions, which was worn by him at the wedding, is valued at $15,000,000. He appeared in it at the Delhi durbar in 1903. It consists of a collar and shoulder pieces made of 500 diamonds, some of them as large as walnuts. The smallest would be considered a treasure by any lady in the land. The border of this collar is made of three bands of emeralds, of graduated sizes, the outer row consisting of jewels nearly an inch square. From the collar, as a pendant, hangs one of the largest and most famous diamonds in the world, known as the "Star of the Deccan." Its history may be found in any work on jewels. There is an aigrette to match the collar, which His Highness wears in his turban.

This is only one of several sets to be found in the collection, which altogether would make as brave a show as you can find at Tiffany's. There are strings of pearls as large as marbles, and a rope of pearls nearly four feet long braided of four strands. Every pearl is said to be perfect and the size of a pea. The rope is about an inch in diameter. Besides these are necklaces, bracelets, brooches, rings and every conceivable ornament set with jewels of every variety, which have been handed down from generation to generation in this princely family for several hundred years. One of the most interesting of the necklaces is made of uncut rubies said to have been found in India. It has been worn for more than a thousand years. These jewels are kept in a treasure-room in the heart of the Nazar Bgah Palace, guarded night and day by a battalion of soldiers. At night when the palace is closed half a dozen huge cheetahs, savage beasts of the leopard family, are released in the corridors, and, as you may imagine, they are efficient watchmen. They would make a burglar very unhappy. During the daytime they are allowed to wander about the palace grounds, but are carefully muzzled.

Malhar Rao built a superb palace at a cost of $1,500,000 which is considered the most perfect and beautiful example of the Hindu-Saracenic order of architecture in existence, and its interior finish and decoration are wonderful for their artistic beauty, detail and variety. In front of the main entrance are two guns of solid gold, weighing two hundred and eighty pounds each, and the carriages, ammunition wagons and other accoutrements are made of solid silver. The present Maharajah is said to have decided to melt them down and have them coined into good money, with which he desires to endow a technical school.

Behind the palace is a great walled arena in which previous rulers of Baroda have had fights between elephants, tigers, lions and other wild beasts for the amusement of their court and the population generally. And they remind you of those we read about in the Colosseum in the time of Nero and other Roman emperors. Baroda has one of the finest zoological gardens in the world, but most of the animals are native to India. It is surrounded by a botanical garden, in which the late gaikwar, who was passionately fond of plants and flowers, took a great deal of interest and spent a great deal of money.

He built a temple at Dakar, a few miles from Baroda, which cost an enormous sum of money, in honor of an ancient image of the Hindu god, Krishna. It has been the resort of pilgrims for hundreds of years, and is considered one of the most sacred idols of India. In addition to the temple he constructed hospices for the shelter and entertainment of pilgrims, who come nowadays in larger numbers than ever, sometimes as many as a hundred thousand in a year, and are all fed and cared for, furnished comfortable clothing and medical attendance, bathed, healed and comforted at the expense of His Highness, whose generosity and hospitality are not limited to his own subjects. The throne of the idol Krishna in that temple is a masterpiece of wood carving and bears $60,000 worth of gold ornaments. Artists say that this temple, although entirely modern, surpasses in the beauty of its detail, both in design and workmanship, any of the old temples in India which people corne thousands of miles to see.

Fate at last overtook the strange man who did all these things and he came to grief. Indignant at Colonel Phayre, the British Resident, for interfering with his wishes in regard to the pearl carpet and some other little fancies, he attempted to poison him in an imperial manner. He caused a lot of diamonds to be ground up into powder and dropped into a cup of pomolo juice, which he tried to induce his prudent adviser to drink. Ordinary drug store poison was beneath him. When Malhar Rao committed a crime he did it, as he did everything else, with royal splendor. He had tried the same trick successfully upon his brother and predecessor, Gaikwar Khande Rao, the man who built a beautiful sailors' home at Bombay in 1870 to commemorate the visit of the Duke of Edinburgh to India. Colonel Phayre suspected something wrong, and declined to drink the toast His Highness offered. The plot was soon afterward discovered and Viceroy Lord Northbrook, who had tolerated his tyranny and fantastic performances as long as possible, made an investigation and ordered him before a court over which the chief justice of Bengal presided. The evidence disclosed a most scandalous condition of affairs throughout the entire province. Public offices were sold to the highest bidder; demands for blackmail were enforced by torture; the wives and daughters of his subjects were seized at his will and carried to his palace whenever their beauty attracted his attention. The condition of the people was desperate. In one district there was open rebellion; discontent prevailed everywhere and the methods of administration were infamous. It was shown that a previous prime minister had been poisoned by direct orders of his chief and that with his own hands the gaikwar had beaten one of his own servants to death. Two Hindu judges of the court voted for acquittal, but the remainder found him guilty. As the judgment was not unanimous, Mahal Rao escaped the death penalty which he deserved, and would have suffered but for the sympathy of his judicial co-religionists. He was deposed and sent to prison, and when an investigation of his finances was made, it was found that during the last year of his reign he had wasted $3,500,000 in gifts to his favorites, in gratifying his whims and fancies, and for personal pleasures. All of which was wrung from the people by taxation.

After his conviction the widow of his brother and predecessor, Khande Rao, whom he had poisoned, was allowed to exercise the right of adoption, and her choice fell upon the present gaikwar, then a lad of eleven, belonging to a collateral branch of the family. He was provided with English tutors and afterward sent to England to complete his education. He proved a brilliant scholar, an industrious, earnest, practical man, and, as I have said, Queen Victoria took a great personal interest in him. When he came to the throne in 1874, he immediately applied himself with energy and intelligence to the administration of the government and surrounded himself with the best English advisers he could get. Since his accession the condition of Baroda has entirely changed and is in striking contrast with that which existed under his predecessors. Many taxes have been abolished and more have been reduced. Public works have been constructed everywhere; schools, colleges, hospitals, asylums, markets, water works, electric lighting plants, manufactories and sanitary improvements have been introduced, competent courts have been established and the province has become one of the most prosperous in India.

Baroda is called "The Garden of India." It occupies a fine plain with rich alluvial soil, well watered, and almost entirely under cultivation. It produces luxurious crops of grain, cotton, sugar, tobacco and other staples, and the greater part of them are turned from raw material into the finished product in factories scattered through the state. We were advised that Baroda is the best place in India to study the native arts and fabrics. The manufacturing is chiefly controlled by Parsees, descendants of Persian fugitives who fled to India and settled in Baroda more than a thousand years ago, and in their temple at Navasari, a thriving manufacturing town, the sacred fire has been burning uninterruptedly for five hundred years. The City of Baroda has about 125,000 population. The principal streets are lined with houses of teakwood, whose fronts are elaborately carved. Their like cannot be seen elsewhere. The maharajah keeps up the elephant stables of his predecessor in which are bred and kept the finest animals in India. He also breeds the best oxen in the empire.

Through the good offices of Mr. Fee, our consul at Bombay, we received invitations to a Hindu wedding in high life. The groom was a young widower, a merchant of wealth and important commercial connections, a graduate of Elphinstone College, speaks English fluently, and is a favorite with the foreign colony. The bride was the daughter of a widow whose late husband was similarly situated, a partner in a rich mercantile and commission house, well known and respected. The family ate liberal in their views, and the daughter has been educated at one of the American mission schools, although they still adhere to Hinduism, their ancestral religion. The groom's family are equally liberal, but, like many prominent families of educated natives, do not have the moral courage or the independence to renounce the faith in which they were born. The inhabitants of India are the most conservative of all peoples, and while an educated and progressive Hindu will tell you freely that he does not believe in the gods and superstitions of his fathers, and will denounce the Brahmins as ignorant impostors, respect for public opinion will not permit him to make an open declaration of his loss of faith. These two families are examples, and when their sons and daughters are married, or when they die, observe all the social and religious customs of their race and preserve the family traditions unbroken.

The home of the bridegroom's family is an immense wooden house in the native quarter, and when we reached it we had to pass through a crowd of coolies that filled the street. The gate and outside walls were gayly decorated with bunting and Japanese lanterns, all ready to be lighted as soon as the sun went down. A native orchestra was playing doleful music in one of the courts, and a brass band of twenty pieces in military uniforms from the barracks was waiting its turn. A hallway which leads to a large drawing-room in the rear of the house was spread with scarlet matting, the walls were hung with gay prints, and Japanese lanterns were suspended from the ceiling at intervals of three or four feet. The first room was filled with women and children eating ices and sweetmeats. Men guests were not allowed to join them. It was then half past four, and we were told that they had been enjoying themselves in that innocent way since noon, and would remain until late in the evening, for it was the only share they could have in the wedding ceremonies. Hindu women and men cannot mingle even on such occasions.

The men folks were in the large drawing-room, seated in rows of chairs facing each other, with an aisle four or five feet wide in the center. There were all sorts and conditions of men, for the groom has a wide acquaintance and intimate friends among Mohammedans, Jains, Parsees, Roman Catholics, Protestants and all the many other religious in Bombay, and he invited them to his marriage. Several foreign ladies were given seats in the place of honor at the head of the room around a large gilt chair or throne which stood in the center with a wreath of flowers carelessly thrown over the back. There were two American missionaries and their wives, a Jesuit priest and several English women.

Soon after we were seated there was a stir on the outside and the groom appeared arrayed in the whitest of white linen robes, a turban of white and gold silk, an exquisite cashmere shawl over his shoulders, and a string of diamonds around his neck that were worth a rajah's ransom. His hands were adorned with several handsome rings, including one great emerald set in diamonds, so big that you could see it across the room. Around his neck was a garland of marigolds that fell to his waist, and he carried a big bridal bouquet in his hand. As soon as he was seated a group of nautch dancers, accompanied by a native orchestra, appeared and performed one of their melancholy dances. The nautches may be very wicked, but they certainly are not attractive in appearance. Their dances are very much like an exercise in the Delsarte method of elocution, being done with the arms more than with the legs, and consisting of slow, graceful gesticulations such as a dreamy poet might use when he soliloquizes to the stars. There is nothing sensuous or suggestive in them. The movements are no more immodest than knitting or quilting a comfortable - and are just about as exciting. Each dance is supposed to be a poem expressed by gesture and posturing - the poetry of motion - a sentimental pantomime, and imaginative Hindus claim to be able to follow the story. The orchestra, playing several queer looking fiddles, drums, clarinets and other instruments, is employed to assist in the interpretation, and produces the most dreary and monotonous sounds without the slightest trace of theme or melody or rhythm. While I don't want to be irreverent, they reminded me of a slang phrase you hear in the country about "the tune the old cow died of." Hindu music is worse than that you hear in China or Japan, because it is so awfully solemn and slow. The Chinese and Japanese give you a lot of noise if they lack harmony, but when a Hindu band reaches a fortissimo passage it sounds exactly as if some child were trying to play a bagpipe for the first time.

When I made an observation concerning the apparent innocence and unattractiveness of the nautch girls to a missionary lady who sat in the next seat, she looked horrified, and admonished me in a whisper that, while there was nothing immodest in the performance, they were depraved, deceitful and dissolute creatures, arrayed in gorgeous raiment for the purpose of enticing men. And it is certainly true that they were clad in the most dazzling costumes of gold brocades and gauzy stuffs that floated like clouds around their heads and shoulders, and their ears, noses, arms, ankles, necks, fingers and toes were all loaded with jewelry.

But their costumes were not half as gay as those worn by some of the gentlemen guests. The Parsees wore black or white with closely buttoned frocks and caps that look like fly-traps; the Mohammedans wore flowing robes of white, and the Hindus silks of the liveliest patterns and the most vivid colors. No ballroom belle ever was enveloped by brighter tinted fabrics than the silks, satins, brocades and velvets that were worn by the dignified Hindu gentlemen at this wedding, and their jewels were such as our richest women wear. A Hindu gentleman in full dress must have a necklace, an aigrette of diamonds, a sunburst in front of his turban, and two or three brooches upon his shoulders or breast. And all this over bare legs and bare feet. They wear slippers or sandals out of doors, but leave them in the hallway or in the vestibule, and cross the threshold of the house in naked feet. The bridegroom was bare legged, but had a pair of embroidered slippers on his feet, because he was soon to take a long walk and could not very well stop to put them on without sacrificing appearances.

They brought us trays of native refreshments, while the nautch girls danced, handed each guest a nosegay and placed a pair of cocoanuts at his feet, which had some deep significance - I could not quite understand what. The groom did not appear to be enjoying himself. He looked very unhappy. He evidently did not like to sit up in a gilded chair so that everybody could stare and make remarks about him, for that is exactly what his guests were doing, criticising his bare legs, commenting upon his jewels and guessing how much his diamond necklace cost. He was quite relieved when a couple of gentlemen, who seemed to be acting as masters of ceremonies, placed a second garland of flowers around his neck - which one of them whispered to me had just come from the bride, the first one having been the gift of his mother - and led him out of the room like a lamb to the slaughter.

When we reached the street a procession of the guests of honor was formed, while policemen drove the crowd back. First came the military band, then the masters of ceremonies - each having a cane in his hand, with which he motioned back the crowd that lined the road on both sides six or eight tiers deep. Then the groom marched all alone with a dejected look on his face, and his hands clasped before him. After him came the foreign guests, two and two, as long as they were able to keep the formation, but after going a hundred feet the crowd became so great and were so anxious to see all that was going on, that they broke the line and mixed up with the wedding party, and even surrounded the solitary groom like a bodyguard, so that we who were coming directly after could scarcely see him. The noisy music of the band had aroused the entire neighborhood, and in the march to the residence of the bride's family we passed between thousands of spectators. The groom was exceedingly nervous. Although night had fallen and the temperature was quite cool, the perspiration was rolling down his face in torrents, and he was relieved when we entered a narrow passage which bad been cleared by the policemen.

The bride's house was decorated in the same manner as the groom's, and upon a tray in the middle of a big room a small slow fire of perfumed wood was burning. The groom was led to the side of it, and stood there, while the guests were seated around him - hooded Hindu women on one side and men and foreign ladies on the other. Then his trainers made him sit down on the floor, cross-legged, like a tailor. Hindus seldom use chairs, or even cushions. Very soon four Brahmins, or priests, appeared from somewhere in the background and seated themselves on the opposite side of the fire. They wore no robes, and were only half dressed. Two were naked to the waist, as well as barefooted and barelegged. One, who had his head shaved like a prize fighter and seemed to be the officiating clergyman, had on what looked like a red flannel shirt. He brought his tools with him, and conducted a mysterious ceremony, which I cannot describe, because it was too long and complicated, and I could not make any notes. A gentleman who had been requested to look after me attempted to explain what it meant, as the ceremony proceeded, but his English was very imperfect, and I lost a good deal of the show trying to clear up his meaning. While the chief priest was going through a ritual his deputies chanted mournful and monotonous strains in a minor key - repetitions of the same lines over and over again. They were praying for the favor of the gods, and their approval of the marriage.

After the groom had endured it alone for a while the bride was brought in by her brother-in-law, who, since the death of her father, has been the head of the household. He was clad in a white gauze undershirt, with short sleeves, and the ordinary Hindu robe wrapped around his waist, and hanging down to his bare knees. The bride had a big bunch of pearls hanging from her upper lip, gold and silver rings and anklets upon her bare feet, and her head was so concealed under wrappings of shawls that she would have smothered in the hot room had not one of her playmates gone up and removed the coverings from her face. This playmate was a lively matron of 14 years, a fellow pupil at the missionary school, who had been married at the age of 9, so she knew all about it, and had adopted foreign manners and customs sufficiently to permit her to go about among the guests, chatting with both gentlemen and ladies with perfect self-possession. She told us all about the bride, who was her dearest friend, received and passed around the presents as they arrived, and took charge of the proceedings.

The bride sat down on the floor beside the husband that had been chosen for her and timidly clasped his hand while the priests continued chanting, stopping now and then to breathe or to anoint the foreheads of the couple, or to throw something on the fire. There were bowls of several kinds of food, each having its significance, and several kinds of plants and flowers, and incense, which was thrown into the flames. At one time the chief priest arose from the floor, stretched his legs and read a long passage from a book, which my escort said was the sacred writing in Sanskrit laying down rules and regulations for the government of Hindu wives. But the bride and groom paid very little attention to the priests or to the ceremony. After the first embarrassment was over they chatted familiarly with their friends, both foreign and native, who came and squatted down beside them. The bride's mother came quietly into the circle after a while and sat down beside her son-in-law - a slight woman, whose face was entirely concealed. When the performance had been going on for about an hour four more priests appeared and took seats in the background. When I asked my guardian their object, he replied, sarcastically, that it was money, that they were present as witnesses, and each of them would expect a big fee as well as a good supper.

"Poor people get married with one priest," he added, "but rich people have to have many. It costs a lot of money to get married."

Every now and then parcels were brought in by servants, and handed to the bride, who opened them with the same eagerness that American girls show about their wedding presents, but before she had been given half a chance to examine them they were snatched away from her and passed around. There were enough jewels to set the groom up in business, for all the relatives on both sides are rich, several beautifully embroidered shawls, a copy of Tennyson's poems, a full set of Ruskin's works, a flexible covered Bible from the bride's school teacher, and other gifts too numerous to mention. The ceremony soon became tedious and the crowded room was hot and stuffy. It was an ordeal for us to stay as long as we did, and we endured it for a couple of hours, but it was ten times worse for the bride and groom, for they had to sit on the floor over the fire, and couldn't even stretch their legs. They told us that it would take four hours more to finish the ritual. So we asked our hosts to excuse us, offered our sympathy and congratulations to the happy couple, who laughed and joked with us in English, while the priests continued to sing and pray.