|Chapter Title||DULL DAYS IN WINTRY JUNE.|
|Newspaper Title||Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton, Qld. : 1878 - 1954)|
|Trove Title||Half Round the World to Find a Husband. A Comedy of Errors|
TALES AND SICHTOHES.
Half Round the World > to Eind a
A COMEDY OP ERRORS.
By MAY OKOMMKLIN,
Author of " Bay Ronuld," " A Jewel of a Girl," " Goblin Gold," "Dead Men's Dollars," " Mr. und Mrs. Morrice," &c.
CiiAi'iKii XXIII.-HULL DAVS IN WINTRY
Aunt Ines carried oui her plana with much self satibfuclion during tho following fort- night. She look Ann daily to inspect her own new hobby, a Behool on the estai*', consulting the vUitor'u opiuiou on tho children's sums and «owing, and thu schoolmistress's capaci- ties. As thu lutter was hardly equal to any Knglishstandaid. it ended in Aun making a generous offer to instruct thetcachcriu higher arithmetic, and the timi rules how lo cul out useful garments and then sow thom np. In6s, fired with gratitude, tin rou nm liega».giving Anti tetsoiis in ¡Spanish beiAveon t mu-, while in the ov-euiiigs they both lead alternately
French c esMcx or Italian.
" Humph 1 It OVUMS lo mo that I have come beak to a ladies'seminary," grunted old Mr. Palmer, on milking Ilia reappearance. Hut beyond pishes'*nd pshaws, he attempted no remonstrance, and after eating his diuner with a slightly loosened utnouut of jokes, he wenttoslcip hy-.i 'llre lu Ibe big hall, nail snored in his armchair with both hands clasped over his paumth. Atm «hid 'herself tor privately agreeing with his observations. Really it had beeu livelier under thc roof of thc venerable Mir-scu Ward and Wide.
" Von must trudi nie -all you know of surgery and physicking, too, dear," dcclured the indefatigable I:.é-;. "Wo will go round the Ubuurers1 cabiiiBou thecstate. Thereare 'several sick children."
This tliuy accordingly did, and the English igirl gained poldcn opinions from I he peasants tor her readiness to give the expected hands 'shakes and to taste the national chicha, a kind of.grape or apple ciilcr. (Sometimes it is of maize, but as to how it is then made let us keep silence. Travellers to the South'Sea Islands may vuess the horrid truth.)
But Ann crowued all by a happy inspiration when, on visiting the better cottage of a head herdsman, the wife of the caps tu 7. cheerfully
cried " Whackeon I whackeen I"
Inés lookod puzzled, but Nan cried out, " Wbat good English you speak. Walkin !" and was patted aud called " very sympathetic
i and easy " (to get on with), highest praise a Chilian peasant cnn give ta the gentry. 'I hen the copper-skinned girls, with coarse black hair and high cheek-bones, played th» native harp, and Illumined tho guitar fjr ber, crooning love-ditties hp If-sad, half-gay.
" How melancholy they look, but then so wildly excitable," exclaimed the visitor. "And ure nil these eougs improvised, <io you nay?"
" Not the idea, bul often the words. I have tried fl take them down, hut uever could get either the words or notes twice alike. Yes, we are a very ti.usici&l people, we Chilians," Baid Inés, sedately.
In this way almost a month passed, and though it wdB a late winter, (-till the loaves fell and the rains too, and the big house was very chill and somewhat, dreary. vVbat was Don Rei doing ? Letters came from him, but for some reason inexplicable to herself, neither
his father nor aunt mentioned their contents
to Ann. And yet he was her best friend, the girl Indignantly told herself. Perhaps borne thing more-but they could not guess that. No doubt bis fathers proposal fi ist opened the sou's eyes to the state of hi* own heart; and like an honourable mun he .it once left.
Non found herself often putting creen parrrq'ii t tlmse days, which usid i'> call '* Rex ! R:-x !" in au injured tone, f"r it was very fond of him. Then it wouhl mid in a gabble, "Lorito
'" A lory green Aa ever seen."
"That bird drives me crazy Sometimes,"
" I am ao fond of it," pleaded'Nan.
The weather grew oold, and there were but three fireplaces in the great house, 'l here was no mure riding, no billiards or company : «io anything without Rex. Ann became dull, then palo add dispirited.
Ono'morning there was a nursery scare. Little Cordita, or Patty, was ill, and her doting graud-father insisted instantly on the child and must of the household being Hans-' (erred to Santiago that afternoon, within reach of (lectors. He hiuisolf basiled thither beforehand to prepare the town house, and see the nureory warmed. The small Invalid followed in a closed brougham nursed on Ann's lap, and wrapped in blankets. She had pushed away Inés with infantile peevishness, although her aunt tried the most coaxing en- dearments towards " her sweet We-wn (the Chilian tt-rni for baby) " her doarcst, wce-cst
" How she has taken to you 1" suddenly exclaimed thc elder woman, after fitting lung silent in tho carriage. Then in oracular utterance : " After all, I was wrong. It i* a great pity."
That evening the little one was in high fever, end the doctor looked grave, Ts'txt day he pronounced it might be a prolonged illness, and would require careful nursing. As ho esme out of the sick room his eyes fell on Ann wsltiug in the saloon with apprehension and trouble clearly stamped on her sweet features. A letter bearing a Valparaiso postmark was clenched tight in her hand.
" Ha ! You are an English young lady, I bear, and very clever in sickness. The children's old nurse begs me to leave the Utile patient in her care and yours, instead ol sending for a sister of charity. Can I count on you to stay with this child.
Ann bit her red lip nervously, keeping silent for a few moments. Then she answered
" You may. I must stay."
When stone she re-read for the fourth time the note in her hand. It. was brief : " Darling, -Can you come at once! I am herc al Valparaiso, but start bi three days.-Youl loving Patrick."
" There ! I've done it now," uttered Nat to herself, after sending a hasty epistle tc pnsr, telling Kryan to resolve to Blay hy tin sick child iiiBteed of sailing northward will himself. She »mothered the pill in sugared eager apologies ; assurances that she wouh
follow. Rut still
" Well, it is my duty. If he is a good mat be won't mind ! ' So she summed up tIx matter desperately in her own heart a dozei times in the quiet night hours, as she Bat b; little Goidita's cot. Once it struck, th welcher that had t:ex Palmer been the love in question she would have said once for all " Ho is a good man I"
Frightened, Ann poshed the thought dec dowu into the recesses of the mind where i was not needful to pry often. But it wa there, and she remained aware of it. Perhap Bryan might be irrevocably offended. Wha
Act on the best relief when tormented b; useless thinking. And after tho fourth nigh of anxious sitting up Nan was become to entirely the sink nurse to give much heed t
her own affairs.
Next day came a second and longer episll from her affianced lover, far more ardent am insistent than the first. He was terribly die appointed. .She must take her own way, o course, wilful durling ! But if she knew hot he had oonnted on her sweet society for th voyage to Peru, her conscience most smile het He thought of staying a month at Lima to ic spect the sugar estates and their mills. Wa there any chance of Nan coming by that tim to con linne the voyage under bis loving oare All hope was pretty well knocked eut nf hit by now; so he would not count, on anything
As Bryan had already started, it was in possible lo send him any answer till the nex mall left. A month in 'Peru-4bat gave An breathing time. And he waa not morrell
offended. He kept her to her promise ; that disponed of all doubts, and left uer miud clear tovattond to poor little Gordlto. It was well. Asd tAou sighed.
Meantime, the doctor having wished the other children removed from the house, their grandfather was obliged to take them him- self to the Foxes' Dell once more. lue« re- mained in supposed charge of the town house; bul nuly proved the old proverb true, that misfortunes never come singly. Hardly had old Don Kdoardo loft l hau a Heavy cold against which the poor woman vainly strug led, proved tn bo influeusa. She was isolated across the courtyard, sud taken iu oharge by sisters of mercy. Ann waa left practically alone, as head of thc big house ; the frightened servants referring continuously to her for
orders upon tho most trivial mattere, yet ul which she was profoundly ignoran*, us * foreigner to the customs of the country, sad one still unversed in its language. Worst ol ail, the Chilian nurse, au old wonun, showell signs of breaking down. Yet she kept bravely tohcr post, Mjualting on a low stool b»' thc sick child, toothing it, but hardly stirring. Once silo rose for tome medic ne, limping so painfully that Nan insisted ou knowing what
" Nothing," grinned the old woman, "only that "-and shu coolly displayed a terribly bad leg, with the imperturbability of lier race.
Then came the worst night-that of thc crisis. All day Gordita -kept tossing fitfully, and -moaning in unrest, ber dear little heuil never quiet on itt} pillow. Thc doctor looked crave ; he caine late, and stayed till midnight. " Now, I have given a sleeping draught, he said leaving .inn on duty. "If the eli lld sleeps till morning-well I 1 f not, you can de
And four o'clock «aw 'Anti «lone in the darkened muk roora,'that was chill with the wintry dawn. Sha was on her knees, praying -pmying with All her heart. .'A while JUC the little onediadstirred and moaned. Uh lil she might sleep ou, sleep and live. Pour long hours Anu h»dnot taken her eyes off that Binall flushed face, with its clustered curls, and now the tension seemed growing unbear- able. What if this child died whilst she was slung in charge of it 1
As Bhe knelt a stealthy step, a creak of the door made Ann start violently, her over- wrought ue-vns giving way to unreasonable terror. Turning her head to see the midnight
intruder there stood Don Rex.
Auu raised ber head iu warning. Palmer »tole forward, dropped OJI one knee beside the Bick infant, gazing earnestly j then turned a deep melanchujy.glsnce ou the girl who had nut yet risen. She explained io a low whisper how the crisis was not yet past. " But if she sleeps even another hour-"
1'ho man nodded in comprehension ; sat down in AM ann chair. Ann silent ly did the same. Five o'clock etru ok.: an hour.ponied. Six o'elouk I As the 'Strokes .ended, .little Gordita awoke, looked rouiid and «ni.ed. " Paplta 1" she ssid molding nut her .baby
A little later, Ann, weary-eyed, but glad to her very heart's core, stood with pale smiles .uoceediug each other like dawn streamers on her face looking at Rex Palmer. He did not
" Rest now ; reit well," he said heavily. " I am shocked to think of all you have under- gone for us. It is an obligation wc can never repay ; the deepest one-that of a life. It will always weigh on my mind."
Ann felt dismayed ; the smiles fled from her face, and a chill crept into her heart. She
" I did it out of affection-so gladly."
" 1 know. You always loved Gordita."
Ann turned away, choking. She would have given-worlds to cry out, "I did it ter your sake. Yours-yours V
Instead of which Bhe went silently to hw room, and there hid her head in her hands and rocked heraetf to and fro.
" Uh I why, why do things turn out so differently, so disappointingly from what one has imagined them ? I thought'be would be so glad. . . that he would hold my hands and look in my eyes, and thank me ! . . . And now lie feels it-au obligation 1"