|Chapter Title||NEWS BY THE MOUNTAIN MAIL.|
|Newspaper Title||Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton, Qld. : 1878 - 1954)|
|Trove Title||Half Round the World to Find a Husband. A Comedy of Errors|
CHAITER XVIII.-NKWS BY THE MOUNTAIN
Tea, a much needed refreshment for Ü» thirsty hounds, was spread in a grassy wainui orchard, where a herd of calves, were fecdiui under thc flicker of sunshine and shadow. 1 was a pro!ty Bcene, and the spirits of al revived as they sat them down, while basket: of buns and steaming cups of tea were bandet round. Ann too was glad. This was almos thc best part of thc day, so she told Rei Palmer, with naive candour, as he sat dowt beside her, regretting thal Solado had not carried her instead of himself through th<
" lt was- too tautalising to sec you all en joying yourselves; is that selfish of me? Still, at least I looked on, and now I am quit« happy again."
" So am I ; to me this is the best part of tl» day, too," and stretching himself full Icngtl hy her side, Rex looked up with a bewilder ingly sympathetic smile in thc face of his step
" Because," Kan insisted, growing suddenly grave, "there is nothing or nobody left tc wish for or envy, don't you eec"
"I see." Such a happy light as flashed into the man's eyes I They looked aa if e summer's sunshine was stored in their grey depths. " Dear child, it was very trying fot you, but it shall never happen again, that 1 firomiBe. You shall ride auy day that you
ike ; every horse 1 have is at your disposal and their owner, too, most gladly, when you will tolerate me as your cavalier,"
Ann felt fluttered, almost frightened. She murmured incoherent thanks, as her troubled eyes gazed upwardB at thc sky and the walnut leaves. ! hen she thrilled os Rex spoke very low, in a tone of tender reproach,
" What is tho matter ? You are changed since yesterday. And yet you seemed so happy when we were out on thc hills together -for my part, I would not have missed that walk for anything. Toll me, Ann, did you
like it too ?"
Ann gazed in desperation at a lizard on a tree trunk ; she crumbled her bun into frag- ments, feeling intensely in thc seconds which followed, that the man beside her was wait- ing-but il may bu that her face, with i's changing colour spoke ia silente. For presently Hex rose, saying in a cheery voice betraying inner satisfaction,
" I inuBt go now. The eye of your duenna ÍB lipon ÜB. Aunt Inés is Chiliau enough to disapprove of a youug lady being mode tho object, of attentions iu public ; and I um in- clined to think sba is somewhat in thc right."
He rose but hesitated j rapidly stooped again on thc pretext of taking Ann's cup, whispered in an insistent, caressing tone, " Will you tell ino some day if you liked our walk ? Will you ?"
But Aun was spared a tremulous answer, as a sense of delicious trouble surged over her like a wave that a child dreads yet lakes pleasure in. For ul that moment came au unexpected interruption. A cowherd on horseback had just ridden into the orchard, to drive homo bis calvas fon tho- night but these refractory charges, like children who see- ing their nurse try to escape from going to bed, threw np their tails skipping round thc trees, or dashing through the picnic party in wild stampede, till rounded up at last, after a
Theten piety beok« up, the train wa« Wilt- ing. And .as-all filled thc big car« in a tired yet happy crowd talking ot the day's incidents, and riding the run once more from start to finish, no private- spoech was possible. (At least, BO all thought except various couples whose open engagement allowed them the privilege of muttored conversation). " What a pleasant day tins has been, Hut I almost
think the toa in tho orchard was 'hebest of it," imparted Sarita Crue confidentially, as she Bat besides Ann. Mow Sarita lind spent that same time iu chaffing young Valentine Brown, openly making an attack on thc youth's lender heart with drums beating and flags flying-no one doubting that this iccon naissance was incant merely as a holiday parade of ber own forces. Bul now there was a tone of languid satisfaction in thc young widow's voice, that Bel Ann wondering in I1011C8I surprise. Was Sarita dissembling? Was she too thc hypocrite, which Aim had
vowed not lo be? Did she wish to throw
dust in the stranger's eye« ? So it seemed.
It was almost dark- when thc Palmers' carriage slowly drove along thc dangerous road on thc cliff M°de. Hut Ann was no longer frightened, for on leaving Valpiraiso, her younger host remarked in a voico of quiet indidereucc. " I am going on thc box seat ladies ; and will keep u good look out over your safety,"
" What a droll idea. Why, I am never nervous on this road, wo know so well," observed Inés, sleepily, with never-failing admiration for her nephew's thoughtfulness.
As they entered tho lillie house in Foxes' Dull, two letters were lying on thc hull table under thc lamp. Now-, letters in Chili mostly arrive hy steamer ; seeing that people conduct their inland correspondence usually by tho domestic telephone. For'herself, Ann had uluiost forgotten what, it was like to receive au epistle by post, yet n Bwift presentiment seised her that imo of thesu might bc
" A letter for you, Miss Montague; it has come by the inouutain mail," said Rex l'aimer, politely handing Ann an envelope plaiuly addessed in a niasculiuo handwriting.
Then opuning the other himself, he ex- claimed after a quick, glaneo : " And this is from Lord Tlmnet. He and IiiB friend, Mr. Wood, arc leaving the Argentine in three days time, and will bc with us immediately. What capital newe 1"
Ann had notyctopened her missive. She held it tight in her closed bund, till she gained the privacy of her own room. It was from her lover, as she guessed. Only two pages, and those iu large writing. Th it was enough, of course to canse ihcquicksense of disappointment, of which Ann was conscious even before, her eyes had travelled to thesignature.
" My darling girl,
" Have you been missing me much, I have missed you awfully, but had a very jolly lime all the same, in the Argentine. I Blay ed with the Bellamys fora few days-he's a very good chap. Mind you don't let your- self be pursuaded into marrying the old gentleman ; but look out for me, like my own dear little girl, in about six weeks time after getting this."
Then followed some more protestations of affection^ endearing epithets. But thc gist of thc matter was that Bryan begged, nuy, plainly-expected, his own- beauty lo bc ready
iu six weeks to sailwith her lover northward.
Oh, fool! and fickle of heart, to repine a second at thought'iof deaving Chili and these kind friends, among - whom she bsd come as a étranger, and on false pretences. Patrick Bryan was her accepted bridegroom, and Ann had plighted him in troth-not in so many words perhaps, buf he treated ber all the same. Yea, in six weeks she-would be ready-abe must.go.
(Tb be continued. )