Chapter 52514541

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Chapter NumberXIX
Chapter TitleSOMETHING LIKE A COUNTRY HOUSE.
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article52514541
Full Date1896-08-22
Page Number3
Corrections0
Word Count4473
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 Bound the World to Find a

Husband.

A COMEDY OF Eli BOBS.

By MAY CROMMELIN,

Aulhorof " Bay lîuuald," "A Jewel of a)

Girl," " Goblin Gold," " Dead Men's Dollars,", " Mr. and Mrs. Herlies," &c.

(coriruiGUT.)

CHAITER XIX -SOMETHING; LIKE A

CuUÜTHY llOCSK.

Within three day» after thc letter announc- ing their coining, Lord Thanet and Hilly Wood appeared ut thu Dell of Foxes in high spirits nt having crossed thc Cordilleras before tho snow fell, and full of glee over what smull but merry adventures they had met with in thc mountain inns, (tex had travelled

up BB far as the Chilian frontier tn meet them. It was tgiiilc a pleasure lo see him and his former school fellow Thanet, on I he i vcuiug of their arrival, talkiug of old happy days together, smiling like liny;, bulli ueiiiiiig

yours younger.

Oni-e after discussing "in: f iiiums Fourth of June, when both Iud rowed ia I lie 6ume bunt Ann overheard the Chilian gentlemen saying in a regretful lone tn his English gu st:

" Thc one thinp I miss out here is having no friend who can rociill these old days, no one to whom one can say about our hoyhood's years, 1 Do you remember !' When Tony goes to England I have got ilie promise of two neigh hours that their boys shall be sent to thc same school. Then he will not feel so isolated as myself when he returns to his

native laud."

Thc new comers gave themselves un respvcdly into Don Kex'scharge, they declared, from the moment of their crossing thc Chilian

frontier. Three weeks or a month at n:ost

they uould spend in Chili ; non , where should they go, H hat must they see?

Rex Palmer announced that the best plan in his opinion would bc for the whole party, ladies and children, as well as the mankind, to move forthwith to his own country house, near Santiago.

" My father agrees with me that his ac- commodation herc must be rather too cramped for your comfort; besides, lhere is little to sec," he said, with that deferential mauner towards the old man which was in Ann's eyes a never-failing charm.

" Yoe, yes ! indeed, there is not room to turn," assented old Don Edoardo, as theguesls eagerly broke into assurance that they bad never been housed more comfortably.

" We'll see if we cannot show you some Chilian sights up at my home," went on the younger Palmor. "Now I propose starting to-morrow, so to have the house und servants ready; and I will take tho children, father, to sparc our friends tho infiicliou of travell- ing with a nursery. "

" Mitt leave me one ul least, my dear boy," protested the old don aghast. " Remember how often accidents occur with these trains. That dreadful collision only a fortnight ago with half a hundred people killed on th¡8 very line 1 Dou't run (he chance of loaring rae childless at my age."

" Very well, you shall have Tony," replied his son, with a sweetness of manner that hardly betrayed a flicker of amusement, except that he lightly stroked his moustache.

So, Don Rex having gone fi rot, the rest of the party followed one morning later, starting by an eight o'cluck express while the sunshine was not yet too warm.

As far as Limachc, Aon already knew the country, but beyond that was unprepared for the green meadows of the garden of Chili, through which the line of railway passed. Later still, towards eleven o'clock, came the mountains ; and as the train slowly olimhed high and yet higher, past deep valleys, over frail bridges across chasms, now and then looking down on a foaming river, il was easy to imagine how round these curves or down so steep an incline a catastrophe migbi easily oc- cur. All thc English visitors ugreed that it was a most diversified a id picturesque sueno ; but when At lust, having crossed the top nf the hills, the line descending showed them the famous piain of funiiago, Billy Wood enthu- siastically declared ho had never seen a finer sight. Thanet, more travelled perhaps, or less eager, yet allowed it to rank with most if not all the best be had ever seen in Europe ; whilst Ann, fresh from her British school, was overwhelmed with delight. Over the flat, wide plain rose st irregular intervals small conical hills, like fortresses. The town itself, spread over a wide area, almoBt nestled under the magnifiicent range nf the Andes, only a few miles distant, their barren bides shimmer- ing through a tender, rose-coloured haze of

heat.

" Those are our mountains. That is my home, our home, your home," shriek Tony, in infantile vestacy, nearly flinging himself out of the window, but that Ann grasped him by one toe and tho belt of his sailor breeches, while he clutched lier round the neck by way of variety. " Here is my father," as the traiu steamed into thc station. " Papita, you told me to tike care of Anita, and here alie is quite safe. See I I brought her."

Don Rex met them looking so fresh and spotless in attire that all declared they felt the dustier by contrast.

" There are rooms waiting for you ut thc hotel, and lunch," said he, smiling. " Sere are hired cochee : never mind your luggage. My French servant here will see to all that.

So along the lovely alamena, with ita green trees and rushing water, they drove ; on through narrow, noisy streets that yet were full of life and local colour, to a hotel, where the national disb of casúela or boiled chicken .in soup soon refreshed their bodies-their minds they said were already full of fresh and striking impressions.

" But not too full to enjoy driving out this evening to my couutrv house, I hope," Bsid their young host. " Like Goldsmith's lady, and thc venison pasty, you must all keep a corner for that."

"How well you know our English litera- ture," observed Thanet. " Yet you can find few kindred souls herc, surely, who can cap your quotations. And lo be understood when one begins au allusion, is to my mind one of thc keenest pleasures in daily conversation."

There are more Chilians than you think who not only speak English but read it and love its literature," rejoined his friend. "As to myself I have lately had the very great pleasure of Miss Montague's society, you must remember, and we agree in liking Goldsmith, I believe, as wc do also on some other points,"

Ann smiled, as was plainly expected of her, both Thanet and his school chum looking at her for confirmation ; but it was a gravo smile, and her eyes did not answer their own.

She and Bex Palmer bad hardly met since the evening of the paper chase ; yes I and that had immediately followed their walk over thc hills, besides their st i ll more memorable mid- night meeting during thc earthquake. She

remembered it all so well-tried to remember

too, that since thou Patrick Bryan's lotter had come ; sud that Don Hex could be nothing more to her than a very kind host, even in his own mind-unless he considered himself her step-son.

After luncheon they strolled out to seo some of the near sights of thc town.

On their return a wagonette was wailing to take them nut to the country ; no ramshackle coclni this, but a well-built carriage drawn by a splendid pair of English bays. Truly thc pavement was terribly rough, over which they joli ed sud clattered for half on hour, till ut last they found themselves roIliDg along a country road in clouds of dust.

" If we could," cried Don Rex gaily, "we would have water carts playing all the way in honour of your arrival. The autumn rains should have been ordered in due lime."

"Andthose autumn rains must have fallen in snow on the high mountains nod blocked the pass by which we crossed over to see you,"

remarked Thanet,

What most struck Ann was the rushing water filling the ditches beside the roads ana' foaming past tall beds of wild cane ; that and

tho quaint huta mode of woven branohea i mud, thatched with bulrushes, and hav only the esrth for flooring. They were 1 Indian wigwams.

Don Rex was roused by lier keen inter into explaining all she noticed, with bri) approbation. Thc running water WSB mel «now rushing from thc hills, and diverted fr the ancient river bed iuto larger canals a smaller ones, sprunding all over the couotr a perfect system of irrigation. Then the hi were indeed soini-lnriiau lodges. " COIIBH how thc basis of Chilian population is Indiai said he. " It is true that three hundred yei ago Ibo Spanish invaders larpoly intermingl with the native population ; but still the < traits remain, especially among these poor peones, whose black hair, broad faces, via ay ! and virtues too, all proclaim th ancestry."

The flat country was much burnt after t long summer and dry autumn, yet herc wi vineyards turning golden, sud » ide meado of bright green lucerne, that refreshed I

eye

Presently thc carriage entered a wood, a they found themselves driviug up a liol uveuue of trees a milo long and perfeel

ftraight.

" Here we are al home, at home I"shriek Tony, Then craning his body perilously c of tho waggonette, "Father, father, herc i the hornes all out, taking their exercise.

Bee Willem, the Englishman. Hullo, Willcc how do you do? 1 can apeak English now.11

To the surprise of the others, they now si a long file of horscB moving noiselessly on t turf that bordered I he carriage drive. Tw and twos they were stepping daintry ; Engli thoroughbreds, all coming hack stablewarc after their evening canter, four and twenty number. An English stud grouin, ridii a Chilian pony beside his string

chargoR, now raised his cap respectfully auswer to Tony's greeting.

" Yes, these aro all mine," answered tl youoger Palmer to thc inquiries of bis friend "They arc the young racehorses, most two-year olds. How many have 1 in traininj Well 1 hardly know, some thirty or fort 1 believe. Then there arc the brood mar and foals. Y CB, you shall see them all glad nnd I have one or two English grooms wi will be ouly too happy lo hear their uatii tongue attain. Señorita," this to Ann, " yt look ut the horses as if you loved them."

" So I do. They remind me of my chili hood. My fa (her used lo breed thoroughfare! too, dowu in Huntingshire."

"What! Not Mr. Montague who used I bc Master of the Brush Hounds?" inquire Thanet and Rex, in a breath.

" Yes; he lost all his money afterwards, said Ann, briefly, the subject beiug a painft

réminiscence.

" I had no idea you were his daughter,

remember he had an only little one," sai Thanet kindly. " We were neighbours i olden days, you must know. Your fatut used to be very kind to mc when I was a bo) and Uex, here, used to spend most of hi holidays ut home, Uplands."

"AU of them, I tniuk, and many a day' happy hunting have I hud with that sam pack," added Rex, with even more sympath;

in his voice. Then in a lower lone, "Yo will tell us more about your childhood Bom other day ?"

Now the carriage swept through a shrub bery, and round to the front of a Urge house

It was so noble a mansion compared witl the small, if pretty, villas they had hitherto seen in Chili, tlmt all the English gave ex clatnations nf admiring surprise.

" Hoorooeh I" exclaimed Billy Wood " Why, this is something like a country

house."

" Come, there are plenty of places in ever; English couoty as fine or finer," declared ihi old don ; proud of his son's home, it is true yet prouder still of his native land.

"lt ia not much when compared witt Uplands, though I am fond of my own home, ' said Rex, deprecatingly, to his old school

fellow.

Now UplandB was one of the show places o Huntingshire.

Thc house was irregular, somewhat like ( French chateau ; it stood on a raised terrace approached by a double flight of\ steps Beyond the main buildings given up to re ceptinn rooms, stretched two lower galleries leading to wings on either tide, where wen sleeping apartments. Both the little girli were waiting on tho terrace, uttering outcrici nf greeting : while some pet Chilian plover, flapping their wings aud raising their lou¡ feathered ere»ts, kept shrieking in auger al the appearance of strangers. Their alaru roused two lazier walch dogs, noble blood hounds, who came gambolling to greet theil

master.

Rex led thc way through an outer hall into i large inner one, so splendid, even baronial, with its lofty wuiuscotted walls and polished floor of inlaid Chilian woods, that its sight

called forth fresh outbursts of admiration from the visitors. Filling the whole width ol the house, its partly stained windows com. manded thc Santiago plain, on the one side ; while, opposite, lofty glass doors tremed a view of orange trees, palms, flower parterres and blossoming shrubs outside, beyond which the mountains rose, seeiug so near in the evening light that the peasants' huts on their lower slopes could be distinctly seen.

" Ay I You like the hall, Lord Thanet," said the old don with a gratified air. "Well, my boy there designed it all ; he did. What's that, 'Rex, had an architect, do you say? Bah 1 You gave him the idea's, the brains ; you spent the best part of one year of your life overlooking the building JD! this house, so you have a right to be proud of it. It was my gift on his ooming of age, Mr. Wood ;

this was his mother's estate when I married

her, so her only son had the best right to it in my opinion." Then, grasping Ann by one elbow, his pet attitude, the dear old man trotted her round to admire the two high, stone-fireplaceB, differently designed by bis j sou. Also the carved doorways, handsome [Spanish furniture, covered with Cordovan

leather, tables of roano antico, bronzes and

J ivories from Italy, all collected by Rex when

on e tour in Europe.

" Come, father, you did better than that ! I must play showman to your Murillo: and two del Sarto's that you bought in Italy from the monks. My father was lucky enough to be travelling there at a time when many of the monaatcries were glad to sell their

treasures. But now tea is laid in the little English drawing room. This way please." So saying thc master of tho house showed t hem into a small room furnished simply in thc beBt Chippendale style, and with old (pshiuned chintz hangings. Small but ex- quisite water-colours hy well-known English artists bung on the walls; some large china bowls «ere tilled with roscB.

" Ah ! This is like being in England indeed," breathed Aun in delight! Boniebow tho room brought back to her memories of her childhood's home. Thia is so like a morning room in which, years ago, I can just remem- ber my mother sining."

Don Rex passed his hand over his brow as if trying to recall somo half-vanished

association.

"Strange 1 I remember now having copied thia room from one I saw in Huntingshire ; it was at a neighbouring house to Uplands. Yes, and the tall dark-haired lady of the house spoke most sweetly to me, shy school- boy that I was, of her own SpauiBh ancestry.

But that could net have been-"

" Yes, indeed ! It must have been my mother, she was of Spanish origin. There is a family legend about it," interrupted Ann, all her face flashing into sunshine.

" You must tell us all about that," cried the others eagerly. But Rex interposed. " First you shall all have some tea. So inter- esting a tale ought not to bo interrupted. Auut Inès, will you play hostess for me ?"

"AB you please. Bat wby not ask Anni In un English room, the English boBtess seemsfitling," rejoined Ines, goodhumouredly. " I ehould like to repose myself on this visit, and be only a guest like the rest."

" An excellent idea, Then will yon do rae this honour as a daily one ?" and Rex installed Ann at the tea table with an alacrity showing that tho idea was a pleasing one. Then he

ad led in a persuasive undertone. " Anc dare ask. a second favour, would you - have heard Knglish ladies say-"pull tfaef tum about?" Thanot's sister, Lady Ñ used doto thatalwsysou wot days, at tiple and I helped her. Somehow only a womal (¡ive the few right touches that make a I

larmonious. This one is dedicated to special usc, and I have tried to prepare it self for your reception ; but it has a still li

it is u Chilian still."

Ann could not but bc flattered hy such siderato attention. Thanking him,

promised to do lier best, jealously woudc in her own miu'l, whether Lady Mary fair or dark, fascinating or commo .-pl also resolving that to-morrow would see room re-touched to a surpassing euci Which it was -at least so she thought,

so thought its master, as he assured her i delighted and delightful admiration.

I was growing too near dinner timi inspect more of i lie hons« this evening I some adjoining sitting-rooms. These we fair-sized library, a billiard room and a sn' n French style. Thc guests' bedrooms » in one wing: I lioso ot the family in

opposite one. To this side Rex escorted . Montague, assuming a stately air of cour as befitting his position, while Inés ru« her silk skirts after them in duenna fuBli yet keeping so discreetly in the hackgro as to show that she felt her nephew

master under this roof.

"It have given you my mother's sui rooms," said thc latter, in a lowed voice Iiis young gueBt. " lt was the grca pleasure to plun them for lier use, but, a she only passed one summer hore. \\ they cannot always remain shut up, an know no one whose pretence will grace tl opening more filly. See, this is a I boudoir ; iicre is a bedroom, with a dicssi ? oom beyoud. How do yuu like them ?"

" Like them ? They are far too beaut

for inc."

And this Ann's eyes widened as she ga round silken hung walla, that made a pi blue casket, well fatted to contain the liv jewel of a loved and beautiful woman. N « came tbe bedroom, which was a rosc-colou

nest, lined with white muBliu aod t Valenciennes lace. As to the dresstug-rcx it wan a fairy-like grotto of crystal and bea

silver.

" Some of furniture is said to have belonj to Marie Antoinette ; tho room is copied fr hers at the Trianon, if you dislike }'< washing utensils, which ure of silver, ac common in most old Chilian families, tl shall be changed," went on her entertain with the same anxious courtesy. "Nc Auut Ines, let me see to your welfare in tur,

Ann, left alone, glanced round the room ever increasing surprise. Tho fireirons, fend doorhaudles and, even the bell-knob, wi all of massive silver ; us to the silken curta of her bed, the best of Anita's gowns v poor brocade in comparison .with their ri glory. . Perhaps for this reason it was tl our heroine hastily unpacked her most I twitching costume that night for dinner.

" 'Pon my word, you look like a picton cried old Don Edoardo, us Ann entered t twilight ball, a Bhlning vision, clad in sbeci white satin and filmy gossamer draperii " Quite like a bride-and a charming one to Eh, is the old man the only one to pay yi any complimente, my dear ? What is tl pbiloBophing boy of mine thinking of ?"

" Thoughts too deep for words," murmur Don Rex, so low that only Ann heard bini

he placed her a chair. Aloud, he replfi lightly. " The gown, I own, is a drei maker's happy dream, but its wearer is al wa; herself. Copnetua's beggar-maid did not nei royal robes lo be hailed os a queen.

CHAPTER XX_AK AUTUMN MAT UOBSINI

Nan was up with the grey dawn ne: uioroiug. It must be owned that the loi sun was beginning to rise late now thi wintery June was approaching. Her bedroo was BO exquisite a nest it seemed a pity I forsake il ; yet the dressing-room was sti more tempting, as a sun-shaft struck i marble floor and glinted in prismatic hues c the crystal and silver fittings, that made like a glittering fairy-like grotto.

The girls hastened their toilet, thinkin of the view of the mountains yesterevenlnj She must see the morning sunshine on tl near Andes ; it should be enchanting. It w;

so.

As Ann stood outside on the house terrât shading her eyes from tbe dazzling low sui shine she drank in the loveliness of a fres autumn morning, warm with a keen exhilarai ing air, so dry, so light it cheered the lung like wine. There full in front towered th great mountains, raising their peaks sharp int the cloudless «ky ; drawing the gazer's t bought upwards, likewise, to sublime heights, wher earthly things seemed small, the daily din fa below, und the joys and BorrowB of humai beings of as small account, as those of ante Slowly after a while the brown eyes gszinj j upwards from the terrace travelled down th I great slopes of barren reddish scree ; over tb

broad cliff-faces herc coloured pale yellow j perhaps by some invisible lichen, thore grey 'again a faint violet ; down, down lo the broai bases of the great hill set deep iu the heart o mother earth. After all, Ann was the humai ant herself ; and the lower earth was pleasant Here in the garden al her feet a peon wai busily playing bose, watering the near semi circle of grass that looked as green aa Englisl sward in gratitude; otherwise it must him been scorched and coarse as stubble. Bright flowers filled thc garden beds; tall pslmi outlined their crooned heads against I he eunlil atmosphere, still slightly hazy aafrom linger ing shades of night. The shrubberies were gorgeous with masses of blue plumbago, burning poinsettias, golden acacia, and hall a hundred more blossoms of fragrant kind,

The tramp of a horse sounded softly on thc Bandy path below, but Nan hardly heeded, though itstopped. She had already seen some dozen peones riding by, cowherds and shepherds, errand boys and such like ; everyone was mounted in Chili. This ridei sat still in his saddle,looking up at tbe girls figure on (be terrace. He was dressed like s Chilian gentleman farmer, wearing a large fell hat, a black velveteen suit, and crimson sash, now hidden by a pale grey ponoho over his shoulders. Ann turned, and meeting hei surprised eyes the man swung hiiiiBelf to thc ground, and threw his bridle to a lad who wac loitering nearthe steps awaiting this task.

" What ! it is you, Don Rex ? I-I did not recognise you for a moment in this

costume."

"Yet you have seen me once before in it, I believe. You were even good enough to give it some few words of praise."

The man's grey eyes laughed, meeting the girl's shy brown one's. Then the latter were swiftly veiled by down drooped lldB, fringed with long lashes; soft fingers were quietly withdrawn from a clasp that seemed wishful to restrain them. Ann did not speak, though her heart was mutely crying aloud. " Of course 1 It was he whom I Baw that very first day, on our way to tho ZorraB. No wonder I admired him 1 And his father told him afterwards. What a shame 1"

"How early you are. Tell me did you sleep well?" went on Palmer, changing his tone of happy banter to one of eager solicitude for his guest's welfare.

" Yes, indeed I I only rose early outof pure pleasure in these new delightful sights and scents. But you are still earlier. You aro back from your ride."

"Thc patron's eye is a great spur to thc labourer. Also I wished to try this little horse of mine, to be couvinced that he went well enough to carry B lady. He and I are at your service ia the cool of the evening."

" How kind you are ! You always Beera thinking of what yon can do for mc-and for other people too."

" Well if you wish to please me in return, come and take your first walk round my country home with nie," said Palmer in the winning manner but gentle voice Ann knew so well since the first ovening on which alie Iliad beenstrnok by thc musical tones of this man's voice. But now what she noticed more wat the roused gaiety noticable In him for some time past. It waa aa when a smoulder

I i Dg fir* braakl- ont into small unexpected [ flames, beautifying it» glow with bright play

of fitful gleams..

As she did not answer immediately, her host added, without the least infleulion be- traying a slight inner disappointment, " Perhaps you would like the children to come too. I was just going to propose calling Tony

and Rosita,"

So they presently went, a morry party, through the garden and down a long trellised path or "parrón" with bunches of purple grapes hung in bacehanalian profusion. Next a walk led them by a walnut orchard to a Sind that mirrowed its embosoming trees.

ere was a boat-house Bet iu tall native grass,

such as grows on the pampas ; and tho ohildren iu high glee persuaded their father, who was ss willing for fun as themselves, to push out a flat-bottomed skiff. Soon they were a merry quartette among the water flowers, watching for gold fish, for water insects, laughing, chattering-when voters hailed them

from the bank.

( To ht continued. )