|Chapter Title||A PROXY WEDDING.|
|Newspaper Title||Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton, Qld. : 1878 - 1954)|
|Trove Title||Half Round the World to Find a Husband. A Comedy of Errors|
CHAPTER II.-A PROXY WEDDING.
The hours flew by that winter day with breathless quickness.
Before she could realise that she was chief actor in a fraud, Kan found herself dressed in a new blue silk gown, belonging to Anita, with a thick lace mantilla thrown over her head and face, after the fashion of an English bride. Being a right-minded girl, Bhc had tried to realise the situation ; but only the old retrain chimed in her cars : " Something new, some- thing blue-"
What was tho third thing of the rhyme ! It worried Nan among, other and important thoughts that Bhe could not remember it.
Miss MacTague, who was dressing the bride, giggled.
" I can't sec your nose even. It ¡B lucky that I chose this blue dress, for white would attract more attention, und it is better after all to keep this little wedding quiet. Now, people will only think you are a young lady going to the theatre. How I wish I could see tho fun, too."
" It is too bad of you to hack out of being bridesmaid," expostulated Nan, frightened at lier fellow conspirator's desertion in the hour
" Indeed, dear, I am so sorry," lamented Anita, though with sparkling eyes, "but otherwise it would 4>e too great a risk. If we stood together the difference might be noticed in our figures. Even ' the Bishop ' might see.
Hush 1 , . . Herc she comes,"
Miss Ward entered at that moment, peering before ber blindly as usual. The lady, indeed. i for she wore a remarkably Bbort and skimped
looked not unlike a dignil
of the Church,
dark skirt, high black gaiters, and a «
" Nov, my dear Misa MaoTaguo, it is t to start for thc ceremony. Are you qi ready ? Miss Montague, I regret to hear your severe headache."
Anita had prostrated herself with prom tude on the bed, sud luid her hsndkercl over her eycB.
" She ts steel cel,"murmurcd Nan, blush at lier own first frightful attempt at decepti and tiembling io lier blue satin Bhoes. ".
us not belate."
A quarter of an hour later, the false hr and her caretaker entered thc hotel eitti room, where a little group awaited thc Captain Goodman, of the s.e. Yarrow, ca forward with a fatherly air.
" And how ure you, Senorita. I am prc to be commissioned hy my old friend, £ Pedro, your father, to give you away fir and then to take cure of you lill I hand y over to the safe Itnepiug of Don Kdoari
He added apologetically, " AB to the pro husband, my own officers arc all eo busy, y eec, and enjoying themselves ou shore w their friendB. 1 incaut to ask thc doctor OJ steady married man; but he has thrown i over, so at tile lust moment I have got passenger, a very uicc fellow. He I promised not to say a word, as you do t wish to travel as a married lady. Mr. liryc let me introduce you."
Nan bowed, and through her thick v distinguished a pair of eager eyes, tryi vainly to dart their gaze through the mes! of the SpaniBb lace.
"If I may have the honour, I hope It enough of a gentleman to keep a lady's secrcl said the passenger in a u'eep-chested voie that echoed from the furniture around.
Tho thought flashed through Nan's ca fused brain, that it was like the sound pi duced by tapping on a druin with the tips one's fingers ; elie also had an impression th hor proxy husband was a tall supple youl mau, never quiet a second, but continual smiling, turtling, bowing, or shooting glanc at the bystanders.
Then the priest came forward, and son kind of ceremony began. To her dying di Ann Montague could not remember a word those that pattered aguiust her ears like ha though the sente never reached her brui How terribly cold it was 1 She quaked fro head to foot, and felt rather sick. Then hi icy hand was taken in a wann clasp, and hi fingers were, yes, surely squeezed. Tl pseudo bride blushed hotly uuder her sbeltc lng veil, and modestly tried to withdraw fro tile touch, which she was ashamedly coi scions produced a pleasing sense iu h<
Kow came the last and worst moment of tl
" Senorita, will you piense sign your nani hers 7" said Captain Goodman, in a ringin voice, which being used to make itself hear among winds and waves, was audible throug the Btorin battling in Anu's soul.
" Why, how your baud is trembling. Th last a in your name Anna, might be nothin but a twist, and the Mac looks very queel There, there 1 Never mind ; it will do ;"
stifled sob was audible from the veiled bride ("Ob ! my goodness, is it a forgery !" thc ur happy Nan was asking herself in bitter dismay Well, «he had really written Ann Montague her own name ; and not Anna MacTague.)
Then followed some congratulations; ai awkwardly playful attempt on Miss Ward' part to raise the bride's veil, which the latte firmly resisted ; a kind hand-shake from th I Captain ; a longer respectful pressure of he fingers by thc passenger. Mr. Biyan-and i
Miss Ward, having conducted her charge up stairs, tc a handsome hotel bedroom, embrace! the supposed Chilian damsel with a Beere sense of deliverance, wished her farewell, i good voyage, and much happiness ; uttering a quasi Episcopal blessing.
Ann was left alone ; but not for long. Thi door opened and Anita danced in gaily.
" Bless you 1 bless you 1" Bhe cried, kissinf her friend on either cheek, and folding ber ii a delighted hug. *' Oh ! I havo such a secret to tell you. Can you guess! I have just beei
" Married, but how could you I Why, yoi
told me that to-morrow-"
" Yes ! yes I but we could not wait. Weellie and I thought it would be such fun, se we have just got married tooat the Registrar'! Office, tie is waiting for me outside ; ] thought I must just come iu and say good-bye to my dear Nanicita, and tn bless you. Only taney our both being married at the same time." Anita executed a caper,
"Both of us married ! But I am not !" "Yes 1 yes ! you are. When yon see Don. Edoardo, please tell him to blesB me for giving him a better wife than 1 should have been.
"lam not going to Chili I Aud I shall not see Don Edoardo I and"-with a cry of entreaty and apprehension-"and what do
yon mean ?"
" Listen, my dear Ann," said Anita, suddenly composing herself to an air of intense earnestness. " I am going to speak to you seriously, like youl beBt friend. You are handsome, even handsomer thsn I am, and sympathetic ; but poor, and too gentle to get oniulifc, unlessyouare well taken care of. You think to return to your aunt's house, who will tyrannise over you, and starve you. And you will never meet anyone in that dull country life, but a fat farmer, or a hungry curate, so that you will wither away. Now I tell you that a rich hus- band is far better ; and I, I, I have got you one, besides getting a handsome young one for my- self." (Anitaflipped out her handkerchief and waved itwbile executing some steps, forgetting gravity,) " Your passage ie paid to Chili, and there arc the dressesB 1 I will make you a handsome gift of all of them, except thc white satin, dearest, and that duck ofafesther bonnet. Do not thank me, it is not much considering what you have done for me, besides they are made with high necks, and I want mine low cut for the Indies. The boxes are going on board, all markod with your new name. Farewell I Senorjta Pallmer."
Anita gaily blew a kiss, and rushed to the
"But wait-listen-Anita ! Anita !" Nan, recovering from a dazed state of astonishment, sprang wtldlyaftertheretreatingfiguie. But the door closed in her face, and the key turned
in the look outside.
Then Anita's laughing voice sounded in a whisper through the key-hole.
" Adieu, dearest ! So sorry to leave you