Chapter 37814648

See chapter in newspaper

Chapter NumberII
Chapter Title
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article37814648
Full Date1908-12-19
Page Number71
Corrections0
Word Count1109
IllustratedY
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleWestern Mail (Perth, WA : 1885 - 1954)
Trove TitleThe Honeymoon
article text

CHAPTER II.

A fortnight later Charles Vernon Ashley turned the key in his private diawer and said good-bye to his fellow clerks, preparatory to a fortnight's

leave of absence

He had made his plans carefully and, he thought, secretly, and was at a lose to know why his departure for his an- nual holiday should be productive of so much suppressed merriment in the

office.

As a matter ot fact, young Davis, the junior, had been benighted during the previous Sunday at the "Mountain Hut," a hostelry buried in the moun- tains, at which Charlie had arranged for the pie-marital honeymoon to be-

gin.

Young Davis had punctured a tyre and broken the chain of his bicycle in a fruitless endeavour to reach the city by express speed, and. as there was no Sunday train, lie bad spent the hours of an inclement and rain-soaked day m playing dominoes and interrogating his host as to past, present, and possible

visitors.

There he learnt of the projected visit of the young couple, and when he re

ported the matter to his fellow-clerks on Monday morning, they all agreed that the thing was capable of but one interpretation -Ashley was getting mar- ried on the sly.

On the strength of this discovery they decided among themselves that under the circumstances it would be quite permissible not to go tue expense of giving him a wedding pre- sent, and they liked him all the more for this loop- hole of escape, for they had contributed to three wedding presents in less than a month, and pay- day was still a long way

off.

The first episode in the honeymoon occurred when Charlie opened his bag in the railway carriage and found its legitimate con- tents rifled. In place of the supply of clean linen, etc., which he had placed therein, nothing but an excess of old newspapers, with the addition of a few half-bricks in the way of ballast, appeared.

Charlie swore under his breath at the practical joke, but just then the train drew into the station at which he wa* to meet May, so he shut the empty bag with a snap, tossed it on to the rack, and kicked the rubbish out of his way.

May was waiting for him. She had been half inclined at the last minute to back out of her part of the contract, but then she would have to face Char- lie's "I knew you wouldn't have the courage," and that provoking smile of his that was worse than words.

If only some of her people were near. Really, the arrangement was too ori- ginal to be comfortable.

He helped her into the carriage, and she sat down breathlessly, and surveyed the debris on the floor with an appre- hensive eye.

"My wearing apparel," said Charlie, loftily, waving his hand over the balk

numbers of "Punch."

May coloured nervously and wonder- ed that she had never made inquiries as to Charlie's antecedents. It was possible that insanity might be in his

family.

Throughout the remainder of the journey the conversation was confined solely to casual remarks as to the wea- ther. Charlie said it might rain to- morrow, though, on the whole, he thought it would be fine.

May reminded him that it rained yes- terday.

He hoped it would not be wet on Sunday, and she gave it as her opinion that it was unlikely at this time of the year that there would be two wet Sun- days in succession.

In this manner time passed pleasant- ly, until the last station came spinning into sight, and they got out.

A vehicle was waiting for thom out- side the station, and the drive to the "Mountain Hut" was found to be little less embarrassing than the previous journey, in spite of the presence of a third party, in the person of the driver. This gentleman was found to have a very unpleasant habit of grinning face- tiously, and ogled Miss May in a man- ner which annoyed her excessively.

She complained to Charlie, who shrugged his shoulders.

"Takes us for a newly-married couple." he said, nonchalantly.

"But you ought to have explained." protested May, hotly.

"I did, but they think we're bluffing

them,"

"I look to you to set matters right, Charlie." 6aid May, reproachfully.

"I shall do that at the earliest pos- sible moment," he responded, warmly.

When they arrived at the "Mountain Hut" a small boy standing in the door- way whistled the "Wedding Mai cb,'

and gazed innocently beyond them down the winding white road that merged into the dusk of evening.

Later, vvhen May came to examine her luggage she discovered among it a large parcel, addressed to "Mrs. Char

Monnop in Corroborée Costume.

les Vernon Ashley." She opened it hastily, and found it to contain Char- lie's missing wardrobe, which had been foi warded by the same train in which they had travelled.

She decided that "Mrs." had been written by mistake, and noted that Charlie used violet powder, which she had always suspected, but he had den-

ied.

There was a half-sbeet of note paper with "Hearty Congratulations" written across it. the meaning of which was un- known to her. She tied the parcel up again and deposited it outside Char- lie's door, overlooking the fact that the individual who had carried up the lug- gage had, for purposes of convenience, lightly tied a smaller parcel addressed to herself, to the cord of the larger pac-

ket.

Charlie, stumbling over the obstruc- tion at bis doorway, carried it in. and opened the small packet first. It con- tained six pairs of openwork hosiery lo the order of Miss May Rolf, from a firm of city drapers. He wrapped them up again reverently, and hung the parcel on May's door-handle.

At dinner, which followed shortly after. May found that a fellow-boarder was to share their table. Charlie, who had been hungrily prancing around for some time, had aheady made her ac- quaintance. She was a charmingly pretty girl, and he eyed her apprecia- tively when he introduced her to May,

She was making a short stay in the mountains, she said, in company with her aunt, who was in delicate health, and was forced to take her meals in her own room. She was delighted with the prospect of their company, looking archly at Charlie, and suggested seve

ral excursions to beautv-spots in the neighbourhood, which Charlie eageily agreed to.

He was a little too eager, May thought, and she was thoughtful all the evening, while Charlie and their new acquaintance sang duets together, and thoroughly enjoyed thenibelves.