Chapter 52514023

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Chapter NumberXIV. (Continued.)
Chapter Title
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article52514023
Full Date1896-08-08
Page Number3
Corrections0
Word Count2320
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

(CUl'YniUllT.)

CiUi'Tint XIV. {Coutiuuetl.)

lilli tin' pour' iii.jllu i V eyes were ut least met with genuine tears, as she effusively Infect! Ann for' frome news ol her erring daughter.

" Dearest Anita ! lVilro will not allow me

to talle :ih"ut her, you know, Inés, ho is so aivry ; hu' after all ulie is my chihl, and it ia dreadful lo think of her being man iud tu a Htrniiti-r, ami that we shall ncvir BIT (KT liny mon1."

YVhci-ciipnn -h" cried, di'.bbine; her eyes with H hiclily ¡H-cnted handkerchief, uml was only cutitf,ii'ied tm Ann's explicit ile.-cri:itiniia (ff Wn'iti-'.i personal appearance uni nita's dieoii'iii tn lier yumiii lnwliand. Whieli indeed was ¡I d.l'c.i'le ..ul'jccl incl' whic'.i \»n was oliligi'd to skate as if on thin ice, fm- IncV lips were contemptuously pursed, and she sat hy chun and unsympathetic.

"Sninehnwl in afraid I hat Anita has lint

got a happy future listore her," hurst out Ann ni girlish cuniidence when tiley two hud left the limine, " Dh 1 pieuse don't say 'serve her righi,' foi' after nil I could not help being very fond of her. You see, at school the oilier girls laughed ut her careless habits, and many a lime lier desk would ha.'o been untidy or she hilo for ICSSOIIH hut for me. Then once I Iii y in to I.ike her part against thc real, iniiiiimly I had lo slick to il."

" I Bee," assented Inés shrewdly.

.' I'liey declared that 1 befriended her moro out nf uhsiinucy limn from real liking. Poor Anim. How shu did hate u cold-water hath."

As they «citied nguiu into their hired glass coché, and thc di iver started his three horses with loud whip-cracks. Inés resumed the same subject that was plainly on her mind.

" We have had a great escape if Anita is addicted lu untidiness. My brother Edoardo dislikes it very much, but oddly, thouu'h quite English, he ca t be more indulgent than Rex, who simply cannot bear it. His wife rather vexed him by laziness, though of course he was very fond of her."

" Is that why he has never married since !" asked Ann, artlessly.

There was a moment's pause. Without knçn'iu.: exiictly why the speaker grew un-

comfortable.

" ell,ye», answered" Inôs, dryly,"hu was very melancholy after her death; his nature is so deep. Besides he has given up his whole mind and soul lo working for the welfare au J fut ure of -his country ; lie has had no leisure to reek »lit the society of girls. I do not think my it, phvw is a man who would fall violently in love willi any woman ; Chili is Iiis passion! Hut he nan bc affectionate, even devoted in his duties 1: wards his family, and wc arc proud of him."

So saying her eyes rested on Ann's face with a scrutinising glance, which that inaiden'smind instsnilyresen*cd as odd, that is uncalled for. A sudden flush leapt to the girl's cheeks dying them wit li u v arm wave, all the warmer that she was furiously angry with herself for blushing. What hud moved her to such idintiu utterly uncalled for emo- tion ; except, indeed, that Ines seemed to

think she took undue interest in Don Rex.

"My proposed stepson ; it Bcems quie in-

delicate. What a horrid creature she must

think me," was the girl's agonised feeling.

If luis had thought so, apparently she change.I her mimi, Ann's thoughts being so easy tn pad ; mid she soon became quite affection ;, ngdin inwards her young friend. Univ w !i,-i m pnew caine near 1he la''er, btr*4inn ¡li.ie.eil arnuad them, hu to speak, ölten i .? venin;: without fleeming tn tio so. She pla\ ,1 meium, indeed, so airily Hut the girl felt, lather than knew, herself thc object

of a solicitude thal if officious, was yet maier- , nal.

At dinner time some guests were generally

inviteil ; later on neighbours dropped in to { billiards from thc neighbouring villas. Indeed, as her old host never scrupled to say before Ann's face, with his usual breezy candour,

"The young men keep thronging t<i this ] linnie in u never«n-.Hng troop, once they li--ar

of the new pretty girl who has arrived, tili ! ' it is quite nu event, 1 assure yon."

Girls, Ino, celled in eager groups, hinno quite English, others half Chilian, ul tract ed

nut of curiosity to see their new rival's -.rolly ; face and sm irt dresses, the fame of Imth of

which ww quickly noised abroad imo";' Ibo | surrounding hills ; und many who called ut j first frmi. curiosity, returned soon ont. of

friendly feeling. Fur Ann became quiu'.ly ( {lopulin- herc, as elsewheic, with her bcx ;

icsidc, hospitality is u chief virtue uuiniig thu warm-heat ted Wen-canisters. It was only in the evenings, befnre dinner, therefore, that Ann had u few inmutes' opportunity of carry- ing out her notable resolve to conquer thu

approval of her one persistent cri ic. '

T.ten tl..- children gailioiini: round their 1 fal li r wiih ciireHses, would repeat » !! t eeir dear Anii.i, as they insisted on callinu her,

had taught them thal morning. Oficn Don ¡ Rex gravely thanked Nan for her kindness to his " dear children," with u long intent glance accompanying thc words.

" He is thinking of their mother. What a good man he seems, and very just. If he dis- approves of me in the end I shall believe he is right. Perhaps after all he only disapproves of his futhcr's late intentions," our heroine reflected, " and oucc bc sees I do not share them he will respect mc." The respect of Don Rex seemed, indeed, what more people than one thought having.

One evening, when they had gone early to thc billiard room, Don Rex began to teach bis Î;uest billiards, being himself a fine player,

tut this was only when by themselves : for on tho arrival of neighbours he instantly with- drew from her side, aud became at once the second host, Iiis father's right hand ; laking moro pains, indeed, than Don Edoardo, to sec the amusement of every one, especially those who might bc otherwise neglected.

" How do you like Rex Palmer, Miss Montagus?"asked a nice English boy fresh from Winchester. "Awfully grave isu't he? \Vc call him Don Peuscroso; I Bhould think you don't gel much talk out of him, hut he is a tine fellow all lite same, and will be u great mau in lilis country sonic day; pei haps President, who knows?"

Said several girls gathered like a cluster of pigeons to gossip on thc bench under thc big bohío tree, nut of sight of their mothers on the vcraudah. " Do tell us how you get on willi thc son of the house? He is >-o dis- tinguished, isu't he, but a trifle ularmiiig?"

" 1'or my part," cried one, " I would rather marry his falher of the two men. They say 1 hat Inés never allowed the old Don to look out for a scened wife all these years. But she has relaxed her vigilance since she has had Dun Rex to guard also. Now is your chance for thc falher, Miss Montague," and a chorus of girlish luughler startled thc humming-birds that were quarrelling overhead, muong the golden blossoms of un urbtitilon. Ann laughed aloud like tho rest ; laughed, too, in her heart to think how near they all were to thc truth. And just then the girlish council was broken up by a group of men strolling down from tho linnhe led by Don Rex. Next moment Ann fell his oyes turned on herself warching always watching.

"I wonder what you were a'l laughing about just now," he ashed brightly in his courteous voice that was vibrant willi sympathy.

Ann felt inclined to doubt that it could bc

genuine. A

" Oh I nothing that muid interest you, so grave a signor, always engaged in your politics aud frontier questions," she prcttisbly replied, half vexed without reason to show.

Don Rex smiled at her childishness. "My politics and frontier questions," he repeated

willi a delightful laugh. "So you think ! can have no room in my mind for other une inore ugroenhlo subjeots. Rut you are quiti mistaken, I assure you."

Wliy was lie always weighing her ever] word when shu spoke? Ann almost iudig nant ly asked herself (she would have liked ti ask him had she dared). The unnnyhig thiii{ was tliut his grave attention could not he re seiited. If her step-sou had made him-clf hei jude;c in her own mind, ho was a good mai and would be just, even chivalrous. Vet Am felt convinced he was terribly fastidious, am this made her diffident und doubtful of bei powers of pleading.

lt was thu latter end of April, and all tin English colony was agog with excitement fihnul their approaching holidaj- on Muy Day. It was explained lo Ann lltal the Vulparuisi r.ipcrchusc Club would hold one of their ht meets that morning.

" Yon see," said Ann's boyish admirer, before mentioned, "all of us gringoes, thal it Knglish or German, you know, are in bushiest here nf smile, kind or other, mid our noses art kept much closer to thc grindstone th in in ole England. Wc begin work ut nine, strike of at six, and gc no yearly holidayy except tin big Spanish feast days, when all ollices an closed. Three days al Kastor, und a week ot thc tamiius I Mi li of September-that's Mtier a: inn Day. Haven't you heard about out p ' pet cluses ?"

" Why. of course." Ann had heard frun: her old host himself, who was us curer us ti boy on thc subject.

" Ah, yes ! Old John Udward made hi' money in business first, before he married II rich Chilian lady, so he sympathises willi all of us ; but I dist not. know his son was tot great a swell to care," grumbled thc hoy.

Upon thia several bystanders expressed rebuke. Surely young Eduardo Palmer was us forward a rider asauyoue ; as good a fellow

as ever breathed.

" I kunw lie ¡a. It was the finest eicjit I ever saw, seeing him tackling thc big bull at Vergara's last rodeo," Ihe boy replied. "That's jest why it riled mc to think for u minute he was not in with all of us, heart and soul. He always was before they talked of running him us Minister for tho Interior, and one values thu countenance of a man like him, you know."

It «-us now eagerly discussed whether Ann should venlurn to ride on the great feast day.

Hilf a dozen ponies were placed nt her dis- posal by as many admirers ; for iu this happy country every lad who only drew clerk's pay in u counling-houso could well alford u nag. And a Chilian horse, if well-treated aud fed must bc bad indeed not to be a fair mount.

Had Miss M tntaguc brought a habit ? WaB she UBcd to hunling at home?

"No, indeed!" Ann's lips curved in amusement, thinking of Aunt Barbara and her awn holidays in the smoky Bitling-room. She ouly replied that in childhood her father used always to keep her a pony, and take her out riding with himself. She did not add that he had been a well-known Master of Hounds, and that his pretty little daughter's miniature hunters had cost u small fortune ; nor that she still regretted those bappy days, oh ! so bitterly. Not liking to accept without tho permission of Aunt Inés, her caretaker, Ann allowed the subject to drop. But that even- ing it was renewed by Uon Rex himself.

" The young fellows are all telling me that you ought to ride on May day," said he, kindly, at dinner. " Only I should not advise you lo accopt any of Ibeir horses without advice. I have one ot two on which a lady can safely bc Irustcd, and I will gladly take care of you myself, if you wish to go."

His father and aunt stared at him aghast.

" Bless my soul. Rex !" spluttered the old don in dismay. "Do you think it is safe? Remember ibis young creature has not ridden since she wen' to school, and she under our care. Upon my word, it makes mc quite up- set to think of it, tor accidents so easily happen."

"But Soldado is so safe, father; he has never made a mistake yet, as you know," smiled ihe son, respectfully,

" Soldado ! Your best horse," cried out luca, willi increasing dismay, " My dear," turning to Anu, "you should be flattered, for that is a first prize hunter. He has been imported from England, and cost a fortune. Only suppose if from inexperience anything happened to him?" .

"t'h, I should never forgive myself," answered Ann, promptly ; iustantly longing with all her hidden hean to ride Soldado. " Thank you very much, sefior, ull thc same.

She did uot like to usc his pct name of Itcx, that had been playfully bestowed upon him by his inolher in childhood asher king, thc crown

of her life.

" Von can practice ou Vulcan, my quiet hack, till next paperchasc day, in a mouth oreo," added the old don. " What is thal you say, Rex ? Sure to raiu in June ; or if not ihe ground is too hurd to bc safe going. Well then, on May day next year. That's a bargain."

May day next year, indeed ; where should she be then ? Aun wandered in her heart.