Chapter 52512981

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Chapter NumberVIII
Chapter TitleIN THE DOLDRUMS.
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article52512981
Full Date1896-07-11
Page Number3
Corrections0
Word Count2430
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleMorning Bulletin (Rockhampton, Qld. : 1878 - 1954)
Trove TitleHalf Round the World to Find a Husband. A Comedy of Errors
article text

CUAITKB VIII.-IN THE DOLDRUMS.

Tlic morning after ber moonlight intcrvie with Bryan, Ann rose heavy-hearted. On more as often before, Bhc gazed afar roand tl glorious ring of foam-Socked blue water sn rounding this moving ark, in which a beter geneous human family was eating, and drinl ing, und sleeping ; but no ; not tnarryin nor giving in marriage ; he said, he was not uiarryiug man.

Why did she not admire the seascape i usual, with thc Bky like a vaulted blue dom soft ly covering thc watery waste ; with tl " Yarrow " for sole moviug object therci

yet ever remaining in the centre of the circle

All that day, Bryan Burely avoided heit near thc girl of all girls on board, who hitherto he had tactfully beseiged with his ii tentions. Ann at first could not believe tin of her friend, und invented excuses for him I her other self, which was inclined to be hui and indignunt. " Uc is playing cricke {with an improvised bat, and a ball tied to string). Ho is wanted by everybody." Ff once or twice, passing by, Bryan called out i a slightly forced, boisterous tone.

11 How arc you enjoying yourself, Mis Montague! I «rn getting up a Christ Minstrel concert for you benefit, and that < 'he other ladies, and we are going to ba« sports an board. I >m organising sn eutei tainment committee. Oh ! we shall all li very lively Boon."

"Very lively." YeB, ho was the life an soul of thu ship-but not a marrying mat Ann took a siesta in her cabin afterward! pleading thc heal ; hut does heat make pcjpl cry gently to themselves with sobs muffled i their pillow s ?

" I am wicked, wicked, wicked !" wept An to herself in sudden revulsion of feeling

" How could 1 have been so happy thee last few daye, forgetting the dreadful thin I did ¡ indeed never rightly realising it til last night."

For liryun's shocked voice had revealed t her thc depths of a cuilt, hitherto unguessei

ut.

We was evidently horrified, that Ann hal allowed herself to take part in a sacrament o marriage. As if it were a mockery ; only i silly Behool girl masquerading, yet perhap guilty thereby of deadly sin.

Now the next cabin to that of our beroim was occupied by a venerable yet good humoured Fiench -priest sent to visit tin inisüiouuricB to thc Chilian Indians. Severn times I he Beauty of the ship bad reserved hin some words and smiles out of those which wen eagerly watched for by Bryan and varions ad mirers. This evening Père Courdoux ap preached his young neighbour when she re appeared on deck,heavy-eyed, and eomewhai pale. No doubt she suffered from the heat, remarked the good curé sympathetically. Would it tire her to talk ? In general she wai surrounded by tbo-e of h«r own ago, so thal

an old man hesitated to intrude.

" Hut I like talking to people much olde]

than myself. They have so much experience,

and have seen the world and life- came ir

impulsive answer from the girl's lips. Then she stopped dead and blushed painfully.

" My child," said the priest in a low voice, " if my experience or counsel can help you, they are at .your service. You have some trouble on your mind, I fear."

The girl raised amazed dark-brown eyes, tc the round kiudly visage regarding her with fatherly pity ; then in a Sash understood that partition walls on board ship arc slight, and ne too might have been indulging in a siesta. What she replied she hardly knew, yet little by little, found herself gently drawn to hint herself,

"Oh, nothing. Some mere joke," said Ann, with a fine air of carelessness. But she had winced sharply, as the priest's eyes

noticed.

"Should you wish to speak to me later, remember that I am always free from four to six," he murmured, then glidod away.

Mrs. Bellamy's implied sneer, for such it I really was, wounded Ann more than she could have thought possible, on this day o'f already deep humiliation for it made the girl feel doubly a fool ; and this was the reason thereof. Ever since leaving Liverpool M ¡SB Montague's position in life had greatly puzz'ed her in- quisitive neighbour. A girl who wnre hand- some gowns befitting a wealthy bride, yet who was shy of playing cards for money, ss she prettily confessed ; who was treated with deference by the captain, yet waB apparently

without friends.

For Ant, had owned to not knowing those who expected her in Chili. Further than which, being naturally of a reserved turn, eho had uot given any confidence. It was only yesterday, that Ann felt weary of fencing with lier new friend's questions. Perhaps thc heat was to blame for that, as also for the softening trustfulness of heart, which induced a trusting generosity of confidence.

With eager ears Mrs. Bellamy learnt, that Ann was au orphan; poor; her handsome dresses the gift of a schoolfellow who had fitted her out for going to Chili.

" Sick in heart, and sick in head, And with doubts discomforted."

Then, just as the penitent was going further to stir up the trouble which made turbid the waters of her mind, four bells struck.

"Time to dress for dinner," said a young mother, driving three reluctant infants bed wards. These instantly sprang upon Miss Montague with joyful outcries of reprieve, for she was a favourite play-fellow.

" What is to he -popular among small people 1" remarked Mrs. Bellamy, who was passing just then in company of Lord Thanet. She always explained to everybody that it was necessary far his health to take some exercise, but the poor man bad to be per- suaded into doing what was good for him.

" Practising with the pupils beforehand-I

see."

"What does that woman mean T" inquired the young mother, gazing with frauk dislike at the retreating lady.

" Exactly so. JuBt as my aunts, in the good old days, were eent out to India, with an outfit and wedding gown all ready for the first man who proposed/' sharply commented thc confidante, with a matter 'of fact air, though her face fell, for she had imagined Ann to bc a valuable acquaintance that might prove an acquisition to herself.

"Of course you mean to get married out

there. I Bee."

" Not at all ; indeed, if there is sn opening I have an idea of becoming a governess. English governesses ure well paid in Chili, so my friend Anita said, and I could always earn enough to bring me home if I did not like tho oountry."

"Oh I-a-governess." The words formed three icicles on Mrs. Bellamy's lips.

Presently, Bitting upright on a wicker lounge with a brisk air, the lady added a poBtcript while turning her back and beating up her cushions, " Dear me I lt's most creditable, I am sure, (pat, pat. How courageous of you ! Your little story has

interested me vory much, my dear, and 1 hope ; you will get on well, I assure you."

Which brief effusiveness was tile only

sympathy she gave then or thereafter, to the i orphan's life story. ^

lu the dawn of next morning, Ann put a weary sleepy face through the open port, see- ing a wide grey semi-circle of ruffled water, heaving gently lo Ibo horizon. Where sea met sky, lay a band of golden orange, crossed by bars of violet grey clouds. The gold-spread Blow ly upwards, the girl in The cabin dropped languidly back on tim sofa beneath, and curled herself for yet a few minutes more of repose. All through the night, she had hardly slept. When Ann roused again, the silvery shining sun was lazily piercing his beams through veiling clouds. Again it was a hot day, and again , the same actor on dock performed the same

part aa yesterday, but with thia string cr difference-'that he now bad gone over to Mrs Bellamy. All the afternoon, Bryan sprawled on 'his chair beside the mature eyren on bet wicker sofa, while Ann,-Bitting proudly aloof, could not hear syllable of her oager chat, ot his deep-toned brief rrpliee, though bursts ol mingled laughter were borne to her loathing

ears.

lt was hotter than ever, and Nan folt almost ill, what between vexation and the weather. When uight oauie ehe fancied as if all on board must read tho talc of ber desertion written plain in her own languid face, and Mrs. Bellamy's triumphant expression. But this was not so, for Billy Wood had cleverly given a different reading to the actor's parte, when some gossiping souls noticed thc change of tho semi'detached couples. " They ure only playiug a game of general post," he explained " The Beauty has got tired of'Malter, you tec, and token up with Miud." For, on this day, Cord Thuuet hud openly renounced Mrs. Bellamy, in spite of her lastwoek'e adoration, und transferred his allegiance markedly lo Miss Montague. Perhaps thc latter did not rightly appreciate thc compliment, being young; and foolish where Bryan wus con- cerned. Lord Thanet was very kind, but rather learned, and kept discoursing on the megatheriums and mastodons of the pampas in South America, till his hearer's mind grew drowsy and it workod somewhat after this

fashion.

" He doesn't care for me any longer ! thc extinct monster-Mrs. Bellamy-a gigantic mammal, «Hied to sloths-I do trust nobody notices what I am feeling-Thc South American ostrich has three toeR, instead ol two owned by the South African ouc, popularly supposed to hide its head in thc sand.

By eveuing time poor Ann could bear the ten- don of her nerves no longer ; feeliug guilty among all these happy innocent people around ; scorned by her late lover on learning the de- ception to which she had stooped, the band ol of shame seemed stamped upou her forehead.

With' a sudden resolve, Nan went toelow, and knocked timidly at u spare cabin far aft, which was understood to be used by Father Cccurdoux as a kind of chapel.

" dh, wilà !" said thc old man, opening j the door, "I expected you, my child. Sit

down."

"Oh, father 1 If you please, may I confess to you, I don't quite belong to .your church you know, but my mother did, sho was an Irishwoman. I hardly remember her, bot I feel as if it would be the greatest relief to tell you something dreadful that is weighing upon my conscience."

" What says an Enlisb proverb. Honest confession fsgO'id tor tire soul," quoted Père Cccurdoux. " Well, my daughter, your secret is oafe with the church, so tell me all about

it."

Thus encouraged, the .penitout began tbs talo which wc already know so well but this time confessing with thrice deepened feelii>gs, since she had made her guilt known lo Captain

Goodman and her late lover.

At last she fairly burst out crying, "bit a dreadful sin, plea.Be, father ! Iudeed ! in- deed ! I am very miserable, but I did not forget Anita's name. Montague looked just like MacTague." Raising her bowed head and streaming eyes, thc sinner sought the priest's face but it was averted. Père ap-, parently stifled sobs-or-could it bc

I laugh ter f

" See how the extremes ot emotions meet.'

I said the father, turning a jolly, reddened

visage, and wiping h'n eyes. "I ara truly touohed by your corrow, for the weakliest that led you astray, and has Bent you out alone,« young girl, in to thc wilderness so te »peak. Nevertheless it is alaooomic that your friend received this proposal of marriage in- side an empty orange, sud wrapped her corres Esúdenos round cigarettes pushed through thc

ey-hole of « stable door. "

Then, although Ann was not of his creed, and that he was indisposed to treat het con- fidence as if uttered in the confessional, the kind old man gave her some excellent advice. " You did not err through selfishness," said he ; " that, perhaps, is not your temptation, but you seem to have strong affections, and I fear that you may «How them to sway you in life, against your better judgement. Ro inoniber, that in too willingly sacrificing your- self to save others sorrows, you m»y bel roster- ing thoir selfishness, and withholding from them what might be a wholesome cure for their besetting sins. But he comforted, Tbis rian of mind you have endured lately will be,

trust, a sufficient lesson without further punishment ; still, if 3 ou wish inc too advise n penance (thc priest's eyes slyly twinkled), I should recommend a course of serious study, that will occupy ¿'our thought", and give you a goal to strive for. Take up Spanish, for in- stance. You path in life is now directed, per- haps overruled by Providence towards e strange country. Look upon it es your duty to fit yourself 10 your utmost capability, for the task which lies ahead ; possible of self Bupport, certainly of trying toearn the forgive- ness and good opinions of thc strangers, who will meet you ut your journey's end.

It was a chastened but far happier Ann Montague, who for thc next day or two was never seen on deck without ber Spanish grammur ; alone in her cabin she hugged it, exclaiming : " You dear thing: I feel quite for f;iven now." Yet her smiles were gone awhile

iko the sunshine ; for rain squalls had succeeded the late heat, when crossing the

linc,

" All in the doldrums, Miss," chanted Billy Wood, standing over Ann's chair, and grinning at the page of irregular verbs she was conscien- tiously conning.

" What do you mean Î" said she, flashing up

a hurt glance.

"Mean? Why, that we are between the trades." In nautical parlance, 'In the

doldrums.' What's the matter ?"

" Why do you call me Miss, as if you were a servant or a shopman ?"

" That's just why," quoth he. *'I am your very bumble servant ; I would work for you till I was black in 1 he face ; ergo, I am your nigger slave. Q. E. I), which noboby can deny ; so I mean to call you, Miss, always in

future."

And he did.