|Chapter Title||HARE AND HOUNDS.|
|Newspaper Title||Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton, Qld. : 1878 - 1954)|
|Trove Title||Half Round the World to Find a Husband. A Comedy of Errors|
CHAJTEK XVII.-HARK AND Hmisns.
Al last thc cocí»1 pulled up near «herc same nt her country vehicle" were waiting anil the hoy announced in Spanish that here the nohle cavaliers and ladies were expected to
to halt for lunch.
" i es, yes ! This ia thc "Check," echoed old linn lidnardo lustily. " tat us get out and wail for them. Now Miss Ann, is nor Hiis.-i lovely wein:*"
ll wan to indeed. Ann's eyes si rayed down the wide level road, narrowing in HB pcr Hpeoiive, limier a splendid avenue of poplar*, their green leaves just tinged with autumn gold : between their liuee a dazzling vista of Minsky. The green lane was more like a woodland ride thalia mad, so thick was it with fallen leaven, -.nd gleaming willi raiu pools, while beneath tlieapiie lil.ctallertiees, grand Cunt willows d moped their branches in uploiidid Lowery contrast. Here was a high gateway, below which laya tell-tale "scent" ot \vhiUj imper. Wire fencing strotclied on eil lier Bide ; thc riders muBt take thc bare, or lillie them down. Calf a dozen vehicles b^ 1 uging lo Chilian small gentry or larmers waited near ; did also a group of ragged ridem, peones, or farm labourers, wearing h'raw hull wide us carriage wheels, brown nuil eriitiiiiii ftriped ponchos, while they rode in higVpeaki d caddies from which dangled heavily c irved wooden stirrups Presently shrieks of glee came from three ragged urchins who had perched themselves behind thc Palmer's carriage. They were clad in shirts thrown wide open, showing their mahogany
kins, ami with nether garments composed of "has been" stuff and patches.
"Miré I Miré!" They espied riders alar, and came paddling through thc pools, barefoot, In gc-at the coveted post near the gale.
"Take, care, lake care, my dear child. Here, lin' s let ns go out of thewuy," cried thc old don liaekingintoa hedge. lu hiBexcitcmcnt he drew Ann's arm within his own patting it affect innately while giving Iiis other orin to Inés ; und in this ridiculous attitude our heroine looked up, and saw Rex flushed gallant and coining riding dow it thc road, close beside
Sn ri t i Cruz.
Pound 1 Pound ! Their horses galloped past, over thc wet ground. How spleudid the clitsluut Soldado was going ns, held in by his'rider, he kept stride for stride with Sarita's brown hunter. A jealous rider forged past them, wheeled and charged* tho bars ; his llorac refused.
" Hravo ! Bruvissinia !" shouted the old Don Edurdo, as a few seconds .later Rex .lopped over in spleudid style, Soldado just- ifying his fame of being the first of his class in Chili, .-'arila followed safely, her horses hoofs striking the topmost har heavily, but nothing more. Ann who had been watching thc both riders with all her eyes, felt a great sente of relief. 4"They arc high, it would have been dreadful if Sarita had been hurt," said she aloud, as if in self-justifcation.
Next, other riders tried bars : tried, but in vain ; for all their hprses refused1, some ten or more running. At last one man crammed in IIÍB spurs and went at it with resolve ; his horse rose indeed, but did not clear thc top- most rail. Both went down-down in u muss on the ground beyond, and the rider waa caught a moment or so iu his stirrups, then scraiubled off wulkiug some few steps on all fours monkey fashion. He was one of the English colony, a junior ponier in a rich old established merchant house, likewise he was one of Miss Montague's foremost flatters. Alas I -A lin's sense of mirth was tickled BO
exquisitely by thc sight of his plantigrade mode of progress that she felt it impossible
ever after to look st her suitor without re-
membering it and laughed low to herself with intence enjoyment.
" How unkind ! It is strange that even tho most gentle of your sex become cruel where their admirers arc concerned," said an amused voice in her car. Rex Palmor had
approached unheard, over thc thick carpet of autumn leaven. Although his words were those of chiding, why did he look so wonder ous pleased Î Was it thal Sarita Cruz followed
close behind him I
" Now then, wc arc all going to lunch," alic cried. " I ain us hungry as a hunter ; that is good English, is it not ? Dear Miss Montague-I may call you Anita may I not ? You look a little grave to-day. Ah ! perhaps you would like to be riding with us young folks ; is thut it ? Although, really, thc way you have been flirting with a certain old gentleman will sci everybody talking," tIIÍB with an arch looked at Rex. " Well, you cannot cut your cake and have it, my dear. There is a another English proverb for you, besides you know that he, your pct he, is ouc of thc hares, Bo you two would have been parted in any case"
As if Ann cared two straws about riding Vulentiuc lirown. Our heroine turned away quite indignant at thc suggestion, but it was only tn be met by that youth himself, who came Bplashcd up to the knots with mud, one shoulder begrimed, in evidence of a fall in some ditch, and his boyish face scratched und
" Where you all going lo lunch ? Oh, these arc cushions out of your carriage. May I not join you!" begged the boy, who had the happy knack of always feeling sure of IIÍB welcome ; which Rex Palmer at once hospitably gave with that cheerfulness which is biblically enjoined.
Val -helped to unpack the lunch baskets with much zeal, then squatting on a rug, like a tailor, he edged HS close to his divinity as possible, and whispered, " I say, what a shame it is t hat old Don Edoardo keeps you to himself like this. Dear old chap, he's awfully gone on you, isn't he ? Ha ! ha ! ha! one would thick he wanted to marry you himself."
Ann turned upon the luckless youth in wrathful rebuke ; then left him to his Bausage rolls and bottled beer. Around other parties were picnicing merrily, while riding their morning run over again ; recounting its inci- dents, and offering thc contents of their lun cheon baskets to everyone else with equal asst. Near at hand, old Don Edoardo was profuse in Iiis attentions to all the ladies, but showered them especially upon Ann. His Bon was listening with admirable courtesy to old Mrs. Cruz, who was dilating on her grievance as a widow with the charge of a large estate.
" Five hundred cows that wretched adminis- trator stole from inc by rive and six at a time in the lust two years, 1 assure you," mourned the old lady. " How is anyone to watch over such trifles as a cow or twoi Then he falsified thc accounts, (iii ! our Chilians arc sad thieves, and tell such fibs. Is it not true ! Give me un Englishman for truth and honesty. Two thorough- bred English horses disappeared totally. I paid their passage ont here only fifteen months ago."
" My niainma-iu-law is really too aggravat- ing," murmured Sarita, in confidential familiarity tn Ann, as both Bat close togcthor, sharing i lie gralefu.l blinde of a bramble tangle " How alic must he boring our poor Palmer, only he has euch perfect. munnerB, ono would never guess it. Certainly hq is one of thc most delightful of men."
" YOB, indeed," Ann cordially agreed, but in a voice w'hich she Haltered herself waB entirely devoid of the faintest shade of en- thusiasm. In her jealous heart sha was vexed that Sarita should speak of Don Rex as "Palmer," though she guessed rightly that this w-as only u Spanish form of speech. Jealous ! Was it possible that she, Ann Mon- tague, was really jcalouB of this good-natured, bandeóme womuu at hor side, who seemed only anxious to show herself special kindness. It was hateful ; it waa humiliating. But above all tbingB, she muBt not show it. Better dis- semble, play thc hypocrite. Then, with a flash, it struck Ann that it were better than hypoarisy to strive with all her heart to like Sarita, be willing to take thc second place, and see her elder preferred. Sarita was so much older, quite twenty-eight or thirty. But then surely she would be a more fitting match
for Hie old don than Ann lierflelf, whose nine- teen summers hud shown her so little of the
happy big world, and the enjoyments of her oge. Nan felt unreasonably as sorry for her- self as if she were really going to marry her host. She smothered a sigh.
Calls for comic songs now rose on every Bide, and tho name of Valentino Brown was clamouroiialy reiterated. The youth rose with conscious pride, swallowing a last morsel of the best pic, which he had appropriated to his sole uso, assuring thc ol her prc! enders that it was us tough UB charqui, otherwise jerked 'beef. He solemnly announced that ho could only sing in tho «addle, BO slowly swinging himself upon his pony he rode into thc circle. Being very fat for his ti nder age the effect w as irresistibly funny us he strolled forth a comic ditty, bowed, and backed out.
Sarita gave Ann a friendly pinch. "He looked so like a baby. If you ga engaged lo him I will give you a wedding present of some slulf to'make his mouitaclic grow."
The hares now slipped out of thc assembly. More songs followed ; then the hounds them- selves rose from basking in thc sunshine. ll was almost too hot as they mounted their horses, rode through the bars which had been broken down before the check, and were soon hidden hy fringing willows near thc river. Once more old Palmer helped Inès and Ann into the coclié, though with lees spirit than in lliemorniag. Dowu tho long avenue they drove with a crowd of other vehicles, splashing iuto the shallow river, where the horses willi one accord slopped to drink. On again through the more open and hilly country, fellow ing u lovely landscape. In frout stretched a pano- rama of distant hills, all with «hurply defined outlines, yet bathed iu such rosy tender hues, as no mountain raugc in Kuropu ever hoaßts "Does our damp climate give thc blues of distance or do thc barren aides of thc mountains themselves in this dry'air produce their exquisite colouring, t-o warm yet light in tone ?" waa what Ann asked of her com- panions. Hut they had no answer to give. Hex could tell her ; he would kuow all about
Now caine the clatter of galloping horses. Some twenty pr thirty ragaiuuflius were rac- ing at their favourite fm ¡oin pace ; their ponchos were streaming picturesquely iu thc breeze, us the riders worked arms uud bridles us if finishing a race. They meant to ssc tho fun of the day, as well os the foreign gringocs, though jumping fences somewhat mislikcd them. Vet these native centaurs wcro moro at homo on horseback than on their own feet.
Both riders and carriages now pulled up on high ground, almost as white as desert sands after the autumn drought, save where powdered thickly SB with gold by the small blossoms of the partridge flower. Some tall bushes, too, looked like blossoming while heath, and a resinous fragrance was percept- ible in the sweet air. This country was still fie Cruz estate, which tor all its wilderness in this region was yet divided by long miles of wire fencing that no paper-chase hunters, foreign maniacs though they seemed, wera likely to attempt as a jump.
" Hurrah !" Beyond some, tall bushes of quisco, some fifteen feet high, or candle cactus as it is called from a supposed resemblance to pictures of tho Jews' holy candlesticks, more bars and fluttering paper fragments on the ground were descried And now, above thc bushes in yonder hollow, human heads grew visible, moving quickly. A dull thud of galloping hoofs could bc heard, and old Don Ëdoardo grumbled at the ground being so dry ; up here on the heights the horses' legs would bc knocked to pieces. Now the field emerged in sight, having been biddon by thc high Ecrub. As before a jealous rider or two made the running. Bul Rex and Sarita, who were best inouutcd of all, once .more showed thc way over the bars.
" Well done 1 Well done I" cried , the old don, and Ann thought the same. Oh ! Why was she not riding herself, even on Vulcan, her host's pct hack ; on a mule, a donkey, anything that would jump.
Herc came her merchant admirer, so luck- less that ir.oruiug ; and see ! his horse a vicious animal, choosing to bo angry because kept back by thc crowd ahead, now reared wildly almost hanging ila rider like Absalom ia the sharp fork oí a giant cactui, with grot- esque effect. One or two falls followed ; then the chase swept out of sight into thc broken ground beyond. After that the carriage»
drove up and down the roads vainly looking | out for something to Bee ; the disappointed spectators were Sagging and dispirited-at j least one of them was-when at last a crowd j of riders was perceived grouped on a hill j
"There, that's thc roll call. They arc counting over Ihe parly to see that no one is missing, perhaps lying in a ditch," yawned old Palmer. " Dear nie ! how fatiguiug a long day's pleasure is. Kb, M ¡BS Ann, you look Íiale and tired too. Inés is brighter than
loth of us Now we'll drive on to thc quinta,