|Chapter Title||OVER THE SEA AND FAR AWAY.|
|Newspaper Title||Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton, Qld. : 1878 - 1954)|
|Trove Title||Half Round the World to Find a Husband. A Comedy of Errors|
TALES AND SKETCHES.
Half Round the World to Find a
A COMEDY OF ERRORS.
By MAY OKOMMKLIN,
Author nf " Bay Rons ld," "A Jewel of a Girl," " Goblin Gold," " Dead Min's Dollars," " Mr. and MrB. Herries," &c.
UiAjTEE V.-OVER THE SEA AND FAB
Tired out, ourhcroiue ? ink into a deep sleep, as a clune full« plumb into the ocean, so. flint oho could hardly louse herself in tim morning, ultliough knowing the passengers must hurry to go curly on linard bliip. As in u waking dream, i-he dressed and left the hotel, all thu while feeling as if homebody clee was inside ber body, who paid the hill with an experienced uir, wau deferentially addressed as Mr**. Palmer, leaving amid a small ovation of good wibhes from thc servants, whom she hud some- what lavishly tipped, considering this gene rosily due tu Do.. Pedro, who was paying IIÍB daughter's hotel expenses. It seemed to he somebody else who in tile bustle on tho quay was torn with anxietiescnuoernitig Anita's, no Anne's, hatbnx. willi which a too officious porter momentarily disappeared ; and it wan a traveller with surely dim idcasof some similar former experience?, who went up thc gangway with dazed bewilderment, und there atood in tho alley till rescued by thc chi f steward, who had especial orders to that effect from the captain Plunging after this guide down one stairway und then another, and following him along what looked like a compressed hotiil corridor, smelliugnf new paint, Ami was shown bur cabin. The luggage followed closest her heel. Then tliB chief stewai d vanished, and th passenger gazed at the little crib, with its round window, wondering bow on earth »lie could ever find spate to hang up her. dresses und put out all the hoots and shoes and brunîtes and bottles she supposed necessary. Next minute thc old steward agiin put hi&
head in at the do r.
"I forgot to say, madam, that you are to have 1 lits cabin yourself. The other ladies wanted tn come in, as it. is amidships, but that lian been arranged. So you have quite a little palace of your own."
"Two other ladies I A palace of my own ! Evidently I must dwarf my ideas when coming on ship board," though Nan, aghast. " Yes, there are three basins, and that which I thought a sofa must be u berth Well, well ! 1 am grateful, indned, now that I knowwbal I have to be grateful for.*1 _A». %an was hastily unpacking a dinner gowlf and toilet fittings the stewardess glanoed in on hor lound of making acquaintance with all her new ladies for this voyage Sh«' smiled' an experienced smile, aud remarked, " I would not trouble much, miss, about your nice dresses just yet. You will hardly need them till after we are through the Bay-of BiBcav." (meaningly).
" Why not t*
" Well, you Ree, none of the Indien dress much the Bret few nights t it is eo cold for one thing, and they are hardly settled down yet. But do go to lunoli now, it is mote cheerful for you than being' here nil alone, or I would bring you whatever you would like."
Taking this counsel, Ann went " upstairs into the dining-room," us she mentally phrased it, but ulmoat shrank back from thc label of voices, the chatter of knives and forks, the popping of champagne corks) and bustle of hurrying atewards. and crowded tables. Swindon railway station was a trifle to the haste und confusion of it ; indeed nut for the chief steward, wlio dived upon ber with t he eye of a hawk, she micht haveshrunk away from the terrible loneliness of beiug alone in the busy throng. Following him, a seat was found for her at a sido table, beside some yellow skinned Peruvians» who talked am mg each other a language ehe did not understand. She was offered «old meats, salads, aird cheese, " because tlierVhr- not bot luuch, when we are starting," explained the steward, confidentially in her car. " What would yon like ?"
" Oh ! anything ! anything I-nothing, I think, thank you," stammered Nun, for just at that moment a dreadlul thing happened. One of the Peruviana expectorated on the cai pet, ut her very feet. That made her feel as if it were impossible to touch any food at all. She tried to swallow a little, but pre- sently found that she was gulping down more tears than nourishment, for a sense of quiet sickening lontlinesB swept over her soul.
All round the English people were clapping each other on the back, and drinking each other's health. It was " Good-bye old chap," and " Bless you, dear ; now you will be sure to write," in farewell, to lads who were going out to try their fortunes, to brides whose new homes awaited them oversea«, Everybody Beeined to have somebody to say adieu to, to be grieved at parting with them, except herself - except herself. Nan rose and fled down- stairs to her cabin, where she sat and sobbed upon her berth, till her eyes were scarlet, and her nose was pink. At last scolding herself sounnly, she dribbled some water into her basin, and after a hasty bathing, pulled down ber thick veil, and went on deck, fortified with good, resolutions.
" I must see the vessel leave," she said to herself, with a pretence at briskness. Every- body says that is a thing to see."
So ho ! for new experiences. But what a hurrying bustle all likewise seemed on deck. There was hardly a bench with & sqnare corner to perch upon. Women were standing in groups, grave, or furtively sobbing. Men were down at thc bar drinking, children were running loose, aud nurse-maids pursuing them. Barc-fo ited sailors were scurrying to and fro, doing strange thingB wi th thick ropes.
" How horrible, if it is to he like this for weeks and weekB," sighed the inexperienced one. " Where »hall I ever fiud a quiet spot
t«, *it »nd think ?"
Presently a signal carno ; kissings, caress- ing-, sud final leave-takings followed ; then two-thirds of thc people on deck streamed down the gangway, men calling back would bo boisterous farewells ; wet-eyed womeu waving encouraging hands to those on deck. Suddenly a great throb awoke under foot, us if the ahips hesrt was beginning to beat,, and a screaming, biasing sound of escaping steam followed. Presently Ilia' pier and the town, and the land all began u> glide back- wards, recede and diminish,
" We are off," thought Nan, gazing over the rail, feeling much linc a convict sent out on penal servitude for lite, as in the old days. She was wutching Kngluuri's shores with al) her eyes, as if she might never, never more see them again ; she who waa bound for an un- known distant shore, a kind of desert in her imagination, where a gloomy, bluck-browed Don, a kind of Spanish inquisitor, awaited her on thc bcacli ; and but for trusting Captain Goodman's cheery usHurances of help, goodness only knew !-Ann certainly did not know what might by the law of tho land be the end
of it all.
" When-1" A rain squall swept over the sea, and drove Nan ahiveiing under the lee of thu deck-house, whence a cold wind presently routed her again from thia inhospitable shelter to strive and warm herself by walking staggeringly up and down, os others «vere doing. Men in twos, IUBO in threes, arm in arm, were tramping lo and fro, backward aud forward, with an air of buckling down to duly at once. Hough ! thc wet and slippery deck was all down ut au angle now on one side; next in taut on the other. No, it was too slinky under foot to preserve one's balance with any tligni y, and Ann wished to avoid beiug disagreeably noticed as smuggling vainly to preserve her balance. " I will look at tho sea," was her next heroic resolve.
Brown, tumbling hillocks of water were apparently racing by the ship, which last was as apparently standing still but for it« throbs throb, throbing ; aud as minutes passed by bigger hillocks, now topped by foam-wash, raced past and post, una ever psst ; and out
iu the grey blurred boyond were only mist '
and watery eky, and darker grey land baulrtj, fading in th« distance. Ic was dreary, monotonous, full of disquiet,
"How can people say they like a sea voyage? ft must be for thc pure pleasure nf bragging. Perhaps they like going io a dentist or enjoy a sick headache." Nan's tears were gathering mice more, lier head foll queer, her heart chill and faint, lipr fuot f[o&;u ; and she herself, apart from lier l>Dily, wus surely the most military und frioiidloss girl un the round world that duy,
"SeCoiita ! May I at leust claim ac- quaintance!" said a strong, masculine voice cluse by where a passenger halted. " surely I do mil make any mistake. Did we nut meet al a very prioste little ceremony lutely, although your face was carefully concealed
from view ?"
The speaker was a tall, broad-shnuldered man, warmly dressed in a long, sea-going coat, with cap pulled close over curling black bur, and hands thrust deep iu his pockets, lie-neither olFored o remove tile cap nor to shake hands ; hut lie moved his body with a . lefereuiially bowing gesture, inclining this way und that, which had the double ad- vantage of' showing the nupplcncKB of his figure, una the easy-going friendliiicas of his
Nan would have known him by that alone, even had not his eyes beeu talking quk-kcr th.n his tongue, as they gazed ul hers, with all manner uf quickly following iroliuus con- veyed by those expressive glances-interest, ?surprised admiration, good-natured pity.
" Yes, yes I I was lhere. 1 was-only please don't say a word about it," glancing nervously round.
'* Not a word ¡ it's between our two selves, and thc captain, ch?" And Mr. Byran per- mitted himself a somewhat tender glance ; but then the bride's ryes were plainly wet, and his own throat had lately buen so with Í wo or three glasses ot good champagne. He went on with gay gullantry ol muiiuer.
''J thought X could not be wrung, judging by the figure, and Oy the way I noticed you had of holding up your head. I say, what a beastly day it is to go out to sea in."
"is it! I am so glad. I mean il is not always like thia, then! "
"'?taemus, goodness, heavens ulive, n? ! I should hope nut, or else you would noe catch me crossing lbs old berring pond so cf ten. Why, look at the gale there is already, und tili dirty water. Wc shall have a time of it in thu Hay, I expect."
Then be pursuaded Ann to take his arm, and
walk up and down a little so as to get used to j the motion. She-"would soon find her -ea legs/' IIB assured lier. It only needed soinebndy to give her an arm, and she would bc as right as a trivet.
So, grateful for bis kindness, Nan struggled - once-or. twice up and dow n the deck, btu to no avail. She only felt colder and-greener, lill lilyan himself, with experienced pity, urged his companion to lie dunn in her cabin, whither he helped ber, and then .curdled for
the ete ward ess.
( To be continued )