Chapter 52513499

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Chapter NumberXI
Chapter TitleTHE DREADFUL DON.
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article52513499
Full Date1896-07-25
Page Number3
Corrections0
Word Count4292
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

TALES AND SKETCHES,

Half Round the World to Find a

Husband.

A COMEDY OF ERUOKS.

By MAY CROMMELIN,

Author of " Hay Ronald," " A Jouel of a Girl," "Ooblin Cold,"" Dead Men's Dollars," " Mr. and Mrs. Herries," ¿tc.

(c'OrYBJRJJT.)

CiiAPTKK XI.-TUR DREADFI'I, DON.

ItwnBwithlhcfeelingof n prisoner whoso eve of trial Ima come, ¡if 1er some weeks of dread- ful anticipation, that Nan sleep calmly aa those oil thc night before execution, and dressed herself next momma;, palcfnccd and resolute, Sie rose horribly early, and s'ood on thc deck, that was still wet from washing, feeling as if enduring thia double disagree ability, was a somewhat vin nona action. Then thc " yarrow" uasscd a long headland ¡ the Bun uprose, and Valparaiso Hay hy spread in a deep horseshoe ringed by reddish hills.

Tile steamer neared ibo low town hy the water's edgo; the passengers could we tim high clilfs mattered with villa», und the still steeper lieichts above burnt rod by summer droughts. Ann's heart was beating hard.

Soon boats surrounded thc ship, laden with cager friends. These scr.itnblcd np the gang- way ; embraced and hurried away their dear ones. The thronged decks at first were encumbered with luggage, hut in half au hour wore empty. All hail gone A painful silence reigned by contrast, and Ann Montague, the criminal, seemed left alone of all the passengers on the ship.

Father Ca-nrdoux lias sought her out at breakfast time, but despite his friendly exhorta'ions, she could only gulp down a cup of coffee, and now felt u general hiukiiig of body, except for a riaing swelling in her

throat.

At last, tho captain's boy came pattering along thc promenade deck towards the lonely figure. " Cap'n's compliments, please Mam, and would you kindly step up on the bridge

to his cabin !" Such nu invitation was a rare honour as a rulo, but not now-not now. Climbing the iron lädier, the reluctant guest was helped up tho last steps hy Captain Good-

man himself.

"Thc old 'cfror is in my cabin. Ho has been waiting here about un hour, waiting till he could talk this matter over with me privately."

"Which Señor. Anita's father, or-the other one ?" in trembling accents.

" I mean Don ' Whan ' Edoardo." "Don what?"

"Don ' Whan' Edoardo. Thai's the pro- per pronunciation. You say Juan in English. Come along, child, and get it over," with rough kindliness. "I declare you are quite cold and quaking." Not giving Ann a moment more to think, the warder drew his charge to the cabin threshold, over which she stumbled, and then raised her frightened

eyes.

A stout old gentleman stood before her; erect, short ; his hat clapped tight to his Bide, as lie politely bowe l. Iiis brow was broad, his rosy lace clean shaven ; its grey eyes were intently scrutinising the abasbod girlish figure before him, while his mouth though shut tight as an oyster shell, had kindly curves. A sprinkling of snow white hair completed his

appearance.

In tho silence that followed, Ann found her- self speaking first in a piteous tone.

"Seilor, can you forgive a deception, which indeed I never meant should be carried so far? Captain (Joodman will toll you I hive come all this way hy MB wish to apologise-and I will go home."

Then the cabin floor heaved, the lockers, thc photos, boohs, all began to swim around. Ann just became aware that nor cold hands were seized, while a voice repeated in authoritativcaccents. " stopa miuute ! Stop a minute ! tînoduian, a chair, gel n chair? This poor girl is piing to faint. father Courrloux, look in here a moment, will you? You're a bit of a doctor, eh ?"

Why the dreaded Don was simply an old English gentleman 1

" I am much better, thank you, I never really fainted in all my life," gaBped Ann, ashamed of herself bul sweetly smiling.

" You were quite near enough doing t-o," responded three masculine' voices, us lather Courdoux's black soutane appeared at the cabin door. Now what was hu doing on tile bridge at that critical juncture?

" A soothing tisane, advised the priest.

"A rousing cock-tail," recommended thc captain.

"A judicious mixture," decided thc old Don. " Then I'll take over her luggago and things, and she must come to stay at my house. Of course! Ot coarse? She can't go to thc MacTagues. Hon i'edro is as mad aa a a boll at H rodeo. Now don't object my dear child.. Stop a minute; ash your friends' advice here, while I brew you a dose of my own," and away ho trotted with stiff but energetic steps. Ann's attempted remon- strances wore soon over-boroc by her counsellors.

"What! Stay alone at an bole), and try to give lessons in English ? She was too young and friendless just at first. 1'reBcntly ehe could seo about it. Hospitality was the rule in South America, and Don Edoardo'e offer simply made circumstances correct, while not committing Nan in the least.

" Consider yourself under my care, I am to bc his guest also," smiled Eather Cusur doux. "Why did I not tell yon before? Because I had only a letter nf introduction ; now I have accepted bis kind invitation, partly to make matters easier for you. When I leave his bouse, I promise that you shall leave too, if you wish it."

Hack reappeared thc little Don, bearing a nauseous concoction, which yet comforted Ann as she slowly sipped it.

" That's right ! That's right ! Hear thc decision of thc othors ; then I will see after your luggage and we will all go on shore." Ann attempted to intervene once moro, lo ask pardon, for indeed she felt overwhelmed at the matter of her false impersonation being so generously overlooked.

"Stop a minuto I Stop a minute ! Wc will talk about that later," retorted the genial old gentleman, waving his hand. "Dy all accounts you have had a terrible time of it. A poor young creature all alone, coming out these tlioumiids of miles with u weight on your mind."

Ho repeat^ d his pity as they rowed ushoru in stale in Hie captain's gig. " Travelling all this way alone-without a maid. Why 1 I have not gone back to Europe.myself these twelve years ; it seems auch au undertaking. What courage you must have. 'Pon my soul ; very lonely ?'

"Certainly-but we all did our best," slyly put in the priest and Captain Gondvnuu, with twinkling side smiles, while Ann, in her sudden revulsion of feeling, could hardly forbear laughing out-right. And in thin manner tho wicked ono was tullen aa a prisohcr on shore, sud carried off to the house of bondage tu a carriage waiting on thu

quay.

" Von will cs cufie n hired coach, codie as wo call it here," exclaimed Senor Palmer. " In Santiago, cur capital, you kuoir, I could offer you a Loudon brougham, but the¿e Valparaiso roads arc too bad. Wu caine down herc lately to pot sea air after the bot Bummer. We are Btuyiug in a lin le villa that belonged to my dear wife." So saying, he gallantly hclpol Ann into tho crnziesl looking vehicle her eyes had overseen ; mostly framed of ancient glasB windows, held together with rotten leather, while a hood like, a poke bonnet sheltered thc driver'sacat. Totbisthrec lean horses were harnessed abreast, theit traces knotted in several parts with cord. Away, they rattled along one ill-paved but level street, which ran between tho height! and tho «ca. Mr. Palmer pointing out all the new sights to his guests.

" These aro pepper trees along tho streets, and see, we have very decent shops, while the Chilian townsfolk live in tho flats above them,

. . . , English merchants there? Deni

mc, lio ! They all go up to the hill vii) Look, Miss Montague, there's a poultry I riding. Kverybody rides herc." And An wide opening eager eyes saw an urchin of 1 sitting hare hacked sideways on a lanky mi behind square boxes with wire ncttii through which ducks and fowls poked tb heads in noisy protestation. Next, a brci boy willi legs dangling over his na shoulders, riding between two huge pannl

covered with calf hide».

"Is the broad clean ?" hazarded the ne coiner, for thc baskets trudy did not prom appetising contents.

" lih, uti 1 We all have io swallow a po of dirt in our lives," replied the old gellem with chet, rf ul complacency.

" Many of us are thankful for werai smiled ¡'ere Ca'urdoux, who «as thinking thc missionaries among tho Indians, whom

was about to visit.

Tlic coach soon rallied und bumped in really picturesque euhutbs. Ano gazed wi astonished pleasure at dirty hut delightful crazy wooden ranchos. "Oh, what sketch ono could make if one hud lime here," s utícix'd, at seeing through open door-wa pilca of green or goldeu plmnpUins, groups of men i iding hy willi enormous straw bul ponchos, or t-qiiare cloaks that were real bioivu and low striped rugs with a whole fi the i.ead. Thc ridcis used carved woodi

stirrups like emull dog-Kennela. Then 01 could epy melons oiil-uoured on mud floor willi heaps nf scarlet chilis drying in Ihc sui Indian-looking women squalled nu thc grouti outside, washing in wooden troughs ; otiici were cooking ot thu doora over braziers fille willi hot charcoal. And here by the roadie thronged a group of brawuUh-skiuned childrc bettor dressed than any poor English ul chins of the tum : class. Two «mall girls wit pink colton frocks wore their long huir-plail neatly ti-.'d with gay ribbon und u toddling il faut in white they guirdcd was wavin ii leaf of wild castor oil. (Nan had sec the plant trying to grow in English drawing

rooms. )

" Oh, look !" exclaimed thc girl, potntin lo a hovel perched on the very cliff edge hf «ide the rising ro.ul. 't was made of o! boards laid together and covered with li sheets like squashed biscuit boxes;"

"Kerosene tin cans ho .ten flat, that's wha t>ey are," chuckled the merry Don. " Yes Yes ! You'll see lots of them ; serve to kee| thc rain out. You see. Miss Ann, we don' have love ia a cottage herc, but lovo in koro

Bene tin !"

" Arc tho people so very poor then !"

" Nota bit of it 1 Nota bit of it! Perfcc climate ! Plenty tocal ! Good wages. Why those children you admire just Dow belongec to thnt very rancho."

Now tho coach dimed tho steep moontah road sharply, that overhung a stream enc ravine, dusty treeless, but striking. The} turned the corners sharp, and the near horst a young one, shied perilously near tho eût edge. They had almost run into the leadiui. couple of an eight-ox team, yoked into a bugi cart. Old Don Edoardo thrust out his head, in a stream of fluent and apparently forcihlt Spanish expletives. " Look at him asleep or the shaft 1 Tho fool ! The madman !" lu

cried, truly enough thc ox-driver only then raised a heavy head from indulging in a noon- day nap. " All's well that cuds well. But those deuced oxen might have pushed ut right aver thc roadside. They would not care," grumbled thc Briton, comfortable rc. lapsing into his scat and native speech once

more.

Ann noticed as one among the many strange sigh's and sounds surrounding her, tho ease with which her spouse-elect slid from one languuge into tho other.

A lillie later, just asalte recovered from thc momeniury flutter into which this incident lnt'1 thrown her, they came to where the road forked apart.

"Oh, soe, how picturesque 1" cried out the girl, gazing at a rider ahead of them. Efe was dressed in black velveteen, with a red silk sash just showing at the waist ; his high saddle peaked before and behind shone bright with silver ornaments, while hts spurs were as big and bristling as old pictures of the sun's face, sci in sharp rays. HÍB face was hardly visible, for on hearing tho carriage wheels Hie rider slightly turned his head, then instantly cantered out of Bight round thc bend of th?

road.

" What a pity !" said Nan, dissappointcd. " I wish wo could have seen him near. He reminded mc of a Velasquez, excepting for those queer wooden Blirrups, like old-fashioned

coal scuttles."

" There ! Now you have seen a true Chilian gentleman, dressed to go round h¡B farm," said old Don Edoardo, looking fixedly at thc charming youthful face opposite him. ^nn felt that Iiis words implied more than he said. Evidently he was pleased at her native admiration of thia stranger, a countryman of Ilia adopiiun.

" Perhaps you may bee that individual again, but in different costume. He would not show himself to a young Knglish lady like you, dressed as a farmer. Those stirrups, by tho way, aro useful enough. They servo to keep the mud off one's feet in winter."

Their road now turned away from that taken by the rider, and became a private track cut in ihc hill side, with a deep fall into the valley beneath, but never a stick or stone of parapet. Even Father Ccourdoux looked slightly disturbed. What if the horses bolted? They never do, was the reassuring reply.

Across the golly a brick kiln was built against the dill aide, and a peascut was draw- ing water from the stream below by means of a bucket and ropes in primitive fashion, A bunch nf wild calceolaria clung to the wall. More sketches for Ann, " if one had time to do them." as she unthinkingly repeated aloud.

" Time. Why should yon not have lots of time?" asked her host with a frank air. Whereat Nan hung her head ; for bow could she tell tho thought in ber mind, that very soon she must forego his hospitality and support herself, una then-Boon after she would sail away northwards.

" And now you come to what we call the ' Valley of Foxes,'" went on old Don Eduardo waving bis bend towards high hills covered with brushwood and rocks, where he told them quail and partridge abounded. Thc road descended iuto a wooded dell, through which a stream wound, and the roofs of one or two houses showed, embosomed in trees, and smothered in mosecB of flowers. Now the track changed itself into a lane under giant willows, fringing a sandy river bed. And what a strange but lovely mixture of vegeta- tion ! Brambles were thick all the way, mingled with aloes and tall prickly cacti; buahea of wild myrtle whitened tho heights with blossom. Soon thc codie, slopped in a dingle filled with noontide sunahine. Across the mountain stream stood a row of giant poplars that were beginning to change from summer's green to autumn livery of gold ; their topmost broughs brightened by clusters of a scarlet parasite flower. The scene waB that of a little Eden, shrined in the wild hills' heart ; and Ann drew in her breath with delight, sniffing the scented air aud feasting her sea-tired eyes on the straugo beauties of

nature around.

Clrse by was a wooden gate set in a high scarlet hedge of blossoming geraniums. Herc they alighted, and passing th rough approached a many-gabled villa, painted fawn below and ii reddish-brown higher up, picked out with I urquoisc-coloured doors and window sashes. A mass of oranged-bued creepers covered one cud, contrasting with the blue of- tall plum- bago bushes; but thc environing garden offered a hundred other striking combinations. A succession of flowering terraces led down to Ihc valley brook and its high overshadow- ing tree*. There wcro all thc finest kinds of English roses, and Japanese Chrysanthemums, mingled with tuberoses, heliotrope, and common cleanders. Red and creamy lapigeria blossoms that grow wild in the southern woods were wreathed among acacia brandies, while oranges bung golden and lemons green in luxuriant profusion.

Feeling as in a dream, Ann gazed around, It was surely a vision of enchantment.

ClIAl'TKR XII.-A GARDEN OF EDE> " Welcome Ki my house," said the owne thU garden of Eden, gallantly helping Ant alight. " It is a poor place compared H your iáuglísli ideas of comfort and loxu Imfconeiilcr everything in it, including y humble servant, 'atyour orders'-aB Chilians Bay."

'I hrough a cool entrance hall lie lcd the v to tho drawing-room, opening by Frei windows on lil« garden. Mere it waB aim dark, for the olinda were drawn dow», ant deep verandah, wreathed willi climbing plan I hrew a grateful ahad.iw ; for though it v only autumn «cather, still tho noonday i was strong. At tito first glance Aun tliouj tho drawing-room charming ; it was so bi ig coloured and full of p.etty things, butonclo inspection il had rather a Sunday purh

look.

Tho door opeucd, and from the boud carno a comely lady of middle ugo. Ii buxom figure was tightly encased in a d.i silk Parisian gown of irreproachable mak und us she held out a plump, jewelled har lier linc presence was undeniable.

"Thin is tlic lady of thu house, my sisti Aunt Inés," said »iflir Palmer, presentí Ann, whom he patted on .the shoulder apprc bigly, to tho hostess. "Come, yuu un; please bc kimi to her, lin's. She ia very «ort you know ; very Börry. Not her faull, not bit of il. There! There! We'll say no nm uhout it, but let's have some breakfast . .

Very late, I know I I know ! Well, give us tl broken meat from the rightful meal, ut i

even ti."

" A scramble breakfast," as lie termed i was laid out in a likewise cool und shanie small riining-rooiii ; only some cutlet H ai claret, grapes and pouches ; but as Doña li,. explained, tshe bud not known whether to expect her brother back or no.

Ann thought li> r hostess charming ; sosof voiced and gcntleitianncred, with justa tout of dignified reserve ; though indeed towan Father Caiurdonx this changed lo ewe effusiveness-hut theu he was a priest.

" Why, where ure tho treasures of tl house?" cried ont the don, suddenly pausin with knife «nd fork in mid-air. " Inés, whet arc my children 'i I waut to show them 1

our friends."

" I do not know, brother ; they were hoi twa or three minutes ago," replied Aunt Ind looking round In the pauBC that follou'e

stifled Bounds »ere audible from behind

bulging curtain, on which thc old gcnLlcmai jumping up, trotted across the room uud drei out two small girls from their biding pluce.

"This is Rosita," he said, caressing a eight-year-old little maid, whose rosy face an gulden hair seemed sunshine incarnatt "And this little one wc call Fatly, or Gordit in spanish," tickling a »maller cherub, wh somewhat gravely chuckled.

Next Ann, being suppoaed tired, wasleduj stairs to rest for the afternoon, her hoBt acconi panying her part of thc way to point out hoi ¡ic himself had designed the stair-case like ai old Knglish one. It was broad-ledged uni heavily-balustered, made of seasoned nativ wood, dark us old oak. "You see, we hav an upper story in this house. That is rare fo these old Chilian quintas, but I found flier »as enough sparc room under the big roof t< make a bedroom or two and a bath-room, so ! hope you will be comfortable."

" Yes, yes, Ines," as his sister-in-lav iSBurcd him she would sec to bis guest'; wants. " But, you see, you have never beet in England, my dear. Comfort lhere is i necessity to everyone, and a fine art t< many."

When left alone in her airy bedroom, witt its window and balcony looking out on th' garden. Ann raised her hands to clasp bet brown rippling locks. " Can this be I ?" sin said aloud. "I, poor Ann Montague, win sxpected to lire out this year in Aunt Bar nara's attic, with cold rabbit for luncheon, tt cannot be ! I feel myself Anita ; this ii none of I." Then she lay down for the after noon, enjoying the luxury of a real bed, bul feeling as it the sea were still moving undci her, while birds' songs and flower scents wert wafted iu on a light breeze from the sunlighi autsidc, and the hills and garden, into thc

shadow of her chamber,

borne hours later our sleeper was awakened by a maid, who was chattering in unintellig- ible Spanish, of which two words alone sounded familiar, lé and kaky. A small ten bray to which she pointed, placed by the bed- side, was an appetising key to Ibis exercise in a foreign tongue. Much refreshed and freshly dressed, Nan presently adventured herself iowostairs, but found the drawing-room deserted. Guided by children's voices, she came upon a pretty group in the verandah : the two little girls aud a bigger boy in a sailor suit. " How do you do ?" she said, sweetly advancing towards the latter, who politely shook hands, and at once offered her a cane rocking chair.

" I um Antonio," said he. Then with emphasis "And I do not speak much Knglish I am a I bilian." This was rather a

defiant, flourish.

" Hut what if I teach you?" suggested Ann, pleased with the boy's frank brow and fearless grey eyes. " would you like that ?"

"No ! I hate learning, but I might like you," was tho candid reply. " How long a c you going to slay?" While Ann sought to parry this unexpected query, the boy went on, " "Do yon like riding? I will take you out if you like. But it's not much fun here. We ure going soon lo stay in my father's dust. Oh ! we have such a bee-utiful dust in the country."

A dust? What could thc boy mean. Ann was gazing in blank incompréhension when Rosita burst out in gurgling laughter like a comic nightingale.

" He means tierra, our father's country you know, a house in thc country," she ex- plained, bubbling over with mirth ; then over- came with shyness, she suddenly subsided under a tablo, pulling down its cover, and therewith an avalanche of books, to shield her blushing face. At this disaster, thc baby, who was scated on a hassock, roused herself to dimple with fat smiles.

" And can you speak English ?" coaxed Nan bending down, but only tn elicit a grave head shake. Moro coaxing, presently a forcible

nod of the cherubic head. At last Gordita's

coral lips slowly .unclosed, to let forth one treasured word,

" Stoopid !"

They were delightful children, but Ann waB amazed to find Hiern BO young. Surely their mother must havo been a girl in comparison to Auut Inca. Thut might explain why llie old don wished for so youthful a partner as one of Nan's own years lo share his latter life. Presently hts voice was heard in the distance. " Stop a minute ! Stop a minute ! I will show you round the garden with pleasure, only my young lady might like to come loo. Here she is, looking ss frcBh SB Hobe. Now, Miss Ann, will you uko an evening stroll round thc premises of this little country box!"

First tho garden was tobe admired, sloping down to tlic lune and shaded stream beyond Herc were masses of purple bougainvillea, clusters of yellow bigonia, wdiilc roundscarlct hibiscus and yellow urbutilonx shrubs whirred green Iiumiug-birds, quarrelling and chatter- ing in shrill tquawks. Herc, uleo, European flowers throve luxuriantly among native prickly pcarB and cacti, while the slender stems and noble fronts of different palms rose above thc blossoming thicket s below. Willi eager interest thc priest and Ann accompanied their bouts through thc precincts of thc dell ; by lennis grounds on tlic level, and straw- berry beda and fowl-yards niched in higher coigns of vantage. All round thc ground rose Btccply covered with wild scrub, where ground i game abounded, while higher still Ihc selling I sun lay golden on thc bill tops.

" Ood has indeed made a beautiful earth," said Father Cccrdoux, standing with a seraphic smile before dinner outside the drawing-room window. He apoko to Ann.

" Yes, iudeod I" said thc latter. " I am so grateful now that fate forced me to 'leave England, and see with my owu eyes the wonders of tho world. What a pily that men orly should so often spoil it." (She was think- ing of the suburbs of our great manufacturing towns; thc tall chimneys smoking everlast- ingly! as seen from Aunt Barbara's windows).

" flo I ha ! ba ! Come, that's hard upon us: eh, FatherCcourdjux? There, there! You blush charmingly : quite a picture, upnu my honour," exclaimed Don Edoardo, looking with hearty pleasure at thc nymphlikc form standing by the verauduh pillar that was wreathed with stcplianot is. Its masses of white flowers made a background to Ann's crown of dark brown hair warmly shot wit'

red golden lights. She was laughing, and the expression of joyousness well became her face, with itB milk und roso complexion, brilliant eyes, and slightly voluptuous fcatui cs to which a nubia form udded a chat m of maidenly dignity.

(To be continued.)