|Chapter Title||MISS OR MADAM|
|Newspaper Title||Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton, Qld. : 1878 - 1954)|
|Trove Title||Half Round the World to Find a Husband. A Comedy of Errors|
CHAPTER IV.-MISS OB MADAM?
"Have, you seen anything of Mrs. Finn?" inquired Anu of thc waiter on returning to the hustling caravunacrui where she was a number, uotan individual, or BO she supposed. Hut brides wedded l>v proxy aro uot every day guests; so Ibo man inspected this one with interested curiosity und recngniiion OB he promptly replied : "Not that! know of miss-I beg pardou madam. Hut perhaps elie may have gone straiglit|upstiirs to your room."
Then he called to to un unseen individual in un office: "Any one been to see Mrs I Palmer ?"
i Ann had turned uway and was goiug up-
stairs, when it struck her for the first time 1 thai she herself was being spoken of as Mrs.
I " ls that thc name ! Why, I thought it was Pulluler" elie mentally remarked slightly fiuzr.ed. " Wcll.Ican'tbc very much married,
f Idon't know my own name.
Hut true enough " Palmer" wai the name painted os ft new trunk in her room. Binging
for I lie chambermaid the proxy bride or more inquired, anxiously : " Hus thc you lady been herc ; my friend, Mrs. Finu y
11 Ko, miss-I beg pardon madam. N I liai I know of," was tho reply, given will
The sorvaule evidently thought ¡I rather joke lo hesitate between miss and madam,
Ann notiood with a slight sense nf irritai ie .Still tho ina lain, always finally decided i with nomo omphasis, impressed her mind tu a melancholy eense that she really w
"And nobody need envy me, for of all I miserable honeymoons cvur spout, I expc mine would take the prize." Whereupon t! brido wpariedly sallied forth once more, ll lime in search of thc perfidious Anita, , last, feeling exhausted with fatigue and il appointment after a fruitless teuruh ul linn hotels, Ann lit upon fresh truces of lier fail
less friends. At u small lintel she learnt that Mr. and Mrs. Finn had stayed there la night, and only left an hour ago for Loudon
"An hour ugo. Just my luck," lament Nan, believing for the moment, like many us, that she was always doled ont larger «lie of misfortune thun any other neighbours, t assumption which every one else is gcueral reidy to dispute, ^fter nil, what gm would it do lo see Anita ? That young la« was not likely to sail to Chili and face li parent hand in hand with thc fnir-huirc Weellie, so Ann. growu more reasonable noi reflected. Nevertheless, it would have bet a rel.ef to tell Anita what she. Nan, thong] of that young-woman's treacherous conduct.
Whereupon our heroine was iiware of
bodily sense of vacuum, which had bee steadily growing for «OHIO lime past, and nc amounted to positive hunger. So. si entered thc first. 8.nail restaurant si could find-u very mean one ; thuukful for chair and a greasy chop, washed down I
black lea that must bavo stewed for hout So matter ! economy was strictly uecessar indeed it had al way B beeu so; but with th dtcudful voyage uhcad, poor Nun'« lieu quailed as to how tho slender contents of in purse could possibly be eked out to fu lil thc culls which might be made upon i owner us a first-class pass, liger. Vagi memories appall d her ofnita's icminUceiici of her voyage lo England, ann careless mcnl i( of «hip-board experiences, in which cvet passcuger WUB expected lo join, uudcr pcuall
of being considered mean.
Now Ann wo« painfully punctilious perha) just because sile was poor herself, to pay In way aud share j much moro so, than the ric Anita, lo whom a few more shillings more i less mal tereil so little, that it uever struck in they could matter to lier companions.
Slowly returning to tho hotel willi laggir footsteps, Ann was startled to feel .a touc laid upon ber urpi.
.' lt bat have I done since morning to be ct so unkindly ?" asked Captain Goodman cheery voice, thal had a peculiarly plcsatit ii tona'ion. " Why did yuo not dine with t all ut the tabb' d' bote ? I kept a place besid myself for you. What I dined out alone, yo say? Tut ! tut! that is very cxtravogai when Don Pedro MacTaguc has to pay a lu days' hotel bill here for his daughters el penses. Did you noL know that ?"
Captain Goodman waa a shrewd individu! and kindhearted ; so now pitying.Nan's tire lace and white look, said to himself that b must really look ofter thia poor child i
" Well, you have been a fool I" So MU Montague sharply addressed herself on gainin her room, and catching sight of her ow rcuVcli-.u in the lookiug-glass. " Anybod would say you were icu years older sine yesterday," and visions rose ruefully'befor the gazer'« mind of various courses «he ha missed ; of soup, and fish, and sweets. Fo her hunger was stayed, but not BaliBÜed.
Bul now what was the chief duty that la; among thc several near her hand. A fet motrcnts' reflection ; then Nan plumped dowi on ber knees with swift energy contrastin, strangely with the frequent repose of herlarg hated above all other labour bul all noccesslrie restful figure. Packing this young womat for six weeks' voyage must be crammed thi night into a small compass as possible that much she knew without being un ex pc-rienced traveller. So for on hour or twi thc prospective passenger kepi on bravcb filutiging her head inside trunks, one of wbicl
iud a lively trick of continually dropping it lid on the back of ber neck, as if anxious lt chop nfl her head.
"Oh ! if only I knew «onie bad word thal I could say with a good conscience," meutall] ejaculated MiasMflutuguc,shukingherclenchc! fist at thc offending object. It wus a wan she hud long.left, this of briefly expnesi, ( any sentiment of just auger or disgust, in i forcibly womanly manner. The Irish ex filetive " Bother 1" was good in its ,wuy, bul
iiBufhcien! ! strong Saxon she would no mort have thought of using than of wearing iiiau't clothes ; but a rightful relief of her angered soul, wus she felt, oue of the yet unfulfilled wants of an Englishwoman.
" Don Edoardo ought to see mc now wit! curvature of the spine, and a broken ueck-ol pretty nearly," biB proxy wife commented, standing ut last upright, and ruefully «treten jug her armB high above her bead. Thee suddenly glancing at Anita's new trunk stand ing by, a gleum of pleasant curiosity (hoi through its uew owner's tired- mind, "lt ii very late, and I ought to be in bed, bull musl juBt look," she murmured to herself, feeling that in common fairness, after so miserable s day, she ought allow herself some recreation. The key waB in her pocket, on a bunch with several others belougingto thc heavier luggage already in the «hip's hold. Anita, in hei character of bridesmaid, had ostentatiously pressed this upon the bride's attention in Mist Ward's presence, bidding her not forget her keys, und this showed a premeditation, Nan now reflected, on her friend's part, in which she had hitherto been loath to believe.
Did Anita then really suppose ber substi- tute was married, and thal she must deck out thc unconscious victim for e life sacrifice with due garlands aud fillets ? So it seemed. Aud this indeed was the case, for Mrs. Finn, os «he may be now called, being fully de- termined togo out to Chili herself, was not one to stick at trifles,- for knowing Captain Goodman's character, elie hud a terrified con- viction that thecommodore would carry out bis contract, to duliver the bride to Don Edoardo real or false, giantess or dwarf, fair or mis- shapen.
"Oh! How lovely?" Ann drew in her breath with delight, as, lifting layers after layers of tissue paper, she glanced at the treasures beneath, lu choosing her trousseau Anita had fully meant to iudemnify herself for the wrong inflioled upon her by her father, in Îoking her tor life to old 1 >on Edoardo. Don
'edro MacTaguc was rich, and did not grudge biB daughicr an ample allowance while at school ; as to her wedding-finery she hud practically been given " cat tc blanche." (This generosity noed not be so much wondered at owiug to the fact thal her clothes and her face were to be thc young woman's fortune.)
" I do a thing handsomely," had said Don Pedro, or the equivant of that speech in Spanish. " But aa Don Edoardo is not the man to stand out for getting money with his bride, why, it would be a pity to waste it on him, that's all ; and Anita's younger sisters may not find such easy-going husbands."
So thu evening dresses caine from the Ruede la Paix, in Puris, and thc morning ones from Bond-street, and-und thc only wonder was Anita had not run away «iib the whole lot herself. Truly she must have been very much in love with Weelie, or-or che-horrid thought ! she knew the price waB none too great to pay for freedom and happiness, for deliverance from a dreadful existence with an aged inonBler of iniquity. For thus in an excited mood, on Ann's return from Huye's Hall, Anita had painted her then supposed future husband in imagination.
" But I am not really married to him ! 1 can't be ; and I won't be ; and there's au end of it I" With which declaration Ann somehow put off her clothes and fell into bed, for if she bad stayed any longer she must have fallen asleep standing or sitting, out of pure weariness of mind and body. But a faint «mile like moon
light onto sunlight compared with her usually beaming one, lay on the sleeper's lips. For the truth was than even in her deep misery Nan was almost reconciled to the sentence of
bur exile hy the. wedding garments nf sheeny silks, the old rote, aaaVivory hues and silver u'id gold textures! on which her eyes had rested. She I ked preening herself as much as any bird does in spring lime, and all the school allowed that she wore her clothes hotter, that ¡B, with a superior air and style, to any of thc other girls.
" How do you manage it ?'' asked Molly UuyeB once, iu despairing admiration, who had u figure "like two flat wwnh n hoards back and front," BO Anita, thu plump, dis- paragingly used to remark.
" I can't tell," Nan lind replied with simplicity, trying to think, for shu was really always willing and anxious To help everyone to look as nice os possible. " First of ull I take all thc paius I possibly can and then I don't think any more about myself."
"Ah I That's it," murmured Molly under her breath, COUBCÍOUS that she herself did precisely thc contrary.
It was this gift of not thinking ubout her- self which mad Ann so popular. if tiny girl eaid to her, " Whata pretty libbm you have got," "How well that hunch of flowers looks in your button-bole," Ann »mild fay, "Do have il," and insist on adorning thc other with a truthfnl gluilucss that "now her friend would look just- os nice. Which the
latter seldom or never did."
( To he amtivw th )