|Chapter Title||A SUNGOD AND A SUNFLOWER.|
|Newspaper Title||Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton, Qld. : 1878 - 1954)|
|Trove Title||Half Round the World to Find a Husband. A Comedy of Errors|
CHAPTER. XXIV.-A SONOOD AND A SUN
It was no wonder that " Miag Ann "Bhould take influenza too, aaid the Chilian ladies who presently thronged to see Ines on ber at-home day. So sympathetic and devoted, she waa worn oat nursing the others, therefore she naturally fell a victim in her turn.
Then they patted and pitied the pale but all the lovelier girl, declaring she used to be an English red rose, while now she was a sweet tea-rose. Northey would noe allow her to weary herself dispensing'weaktea, Ices, and sugared clotted milk ; «he muet rest. Meanwhile Inés told how Ann was inter- ested in schools and the education of the people.
"Dear Ines, how energetic and intelligent
Bite SB I What a wonderful brain «he has and how she keeps on instructing it I" «aid the plump and pretty Chilenas And they raised hands and eyes in admiring wander, tnt secret thankfulness that nature bad made
themselves of a more easy-going type. For though gifted with sweet tempers, warm hcartB, and bright minds, often most musical and artistic, they wera as happily lazy as lazy
Ann, who had begun to pride herself, in her heart on her nursing powers, did not privately agree with the visitors on the true cause of having taken ill.
"Yes, I was low-but in mind not in body," so her thuoghts mutely retorted reproachfully when Rex Palmer or ines spoke of her with gratitude. " What is the UBe of his praising n e to others in that serious dispassionate tonel Just one look with the love-ligbt that used to burn in his eyes, one little word of thanks
in the dear voice of old that thrilled all through me, and I need not have.vexed my- self ill. Oh, wicked that I am !" Then the fair dreamer would rouse herself in self-in dfgnat ion against thc traitors in tho citadel of her heart. Why should her thoughts be so engaged with another man, she who was promised to Patrick Bryan, who must hasten to get well and join him ? Why ask herself a
thousand times the reaaon of Rex's altered attitude since she had refused to be his father's wife } Was it that he Bhould not vex the old man? But now the latter seemed
not to care: besides be, Rex, did love her bt fore-he did And now he supposed her free ; not guessing her secret engagement.
Where was the usoof thinkingf Ann vowed she must urn her thoughts from her hero and his altered manner, distress herself no more
ia tho dark night-hours and wipe away the unexpected big bitter tears of which she WSB ushained, although only her pillow knew of their disgraceful I ridding.
But it was not so easy to ccaBe thinking of a man whose fine qualities, patriotism,- and political career were tho themo that most roused admiration in the minds of many friends of the Palmer Family. When Rex entered the room, which he did much more rarely than of old, how both men «nd women listened attentively to bis lightest utterances on the topics of importance which Inés flattered herself were usually discussed in her
But, indeed, to Ann'seurprise,tbeyliatencd with only a little less deference to their hostess. It was a fact that the. political opinions of Doña Ines, as of a few other great ludies, were inquired and quoted by the loading men lu .this, the best, Chilian society.
.'That ls more than could be «aid in Eng- land," observed the girl to her elder friend.
"We are a young na ion and have, un- fortunately, only two centuries of civilisation behind us. instead of tho many your nation can boast," returned -Ines, modestly. "But still like all children, .we can naturally catch the chief keynotes of the age."
?So soon as both Inés .iand .Ann were sufficiently recovered the dootonwUhed.them to have sea air .far change,.so they returned once more to the Foxes Dall, ?whither Don Rex with little Gordita had already/preceded them some days before. It would boiall the more convenient for lier departure, remarked Ann, with forced cheerfulness. At which
Ines save a mysterious ahem 1 and on replied, " If you really think you must g But there 1 Why discuss what ls unpleass before thc time? One never knows what mt happen."
A ot alone Inés, but other friends, «greed tabooing the subject that was now uppe most In Ann's mind. She still hoped faint! that Rex would give her the chance of e: plaiuiug-for in «pite pf his late deep resert aud withdrawal from her society, Ann dur to tho belief he was yet her best friend. SI was sick in soul with USUIOBS wondering wit he shunned her. He never rode or walke alone with her and the children now ; nevi showed her special attention in society. Ri his kindness to -he young stranger under li father's roof, if mute, was still unceasing. ] w,.s Dou Rex who kept constantly inviting stream of merry young people to the hou*e t amuse " Miss Ann '' He got up largo ridin parlies, even persuaded lrés into giving nc only dinners, but inpromptu small dances.
" Why Bhould wc ?" remonstrated hts BJ noarantly astonished aunt. " You do iii really care for those frivilous ainueetncntB unc can sec that by your serious face."
" Wu must think also of what other peupl like. That ¡B a duty," was the nephew gentle reply. And Inés obeyed without
I "It is all douc for you, dear Anita," erie Sarita Cruz, etTectiouately caresing Am , Vi hom she called almost daily to see. " Ah why do you go away ? Many unother woul I give a fortune-if she had it~to be in yot
" '< our are q.nite mistaken, indeed," áu would cinphaliclly reiterate, but still falliu to shake ."Minta's smiling certainty thong truly the emile uftcn faded into Badnesi Ouce or twice, to Ann's diBinay, there wet even tears in the tender dark eyes, whfc were usually as round.mirthful as those of merry child. O, it was only a memory of he own past happiness that overcame her, thu was all I Sarita would cry. But Ann knei this was a fib. Or else, having been liapp once, barita longed to be happy twice.
" I will not be a dog-in-the-mangt r. As sm engaged to Patrick Bryan, why should wish Don Rex to caie for me? And if h does still care-well he does uut wish to di sn, that is very plain. No ; Sarita loves him Be generous, *nn, throw them together," s
our beroiue exhortud herself.
In pursuance of wticb resolve, Ann -wit secret bitterness of self-denial avoided Rex' society more than he hers. With forcei gaiety she encouraged her beardless admirer young Valentine Brown, to be her constan squire ; raising him, fond youth, to aeeventl heaven of happiness.
" What rot to talk of going by the stearne after next» We won't let you lesve us. Tel her BO, Señora," cried thc boy, appealing ti Sa:ita, for help. And the latter, sweet 1; sympathising with sighs and head-shakes always mourned, but
"But she is glad J am going. 'She think -and quitely fairly too-that thefield-wlllbi left clear for herself." So Ann told herself ont day, with a sudden flash of insight. She wai furious a moment at Sarita's hypocrisy ; thei in revision of feeling pitied the poor woman, Ves, truly ; any woman who loves a man, and cannot,gain even an affectionate glance ir return, is to be pitied-that she knew. "Thal is, so she guessed-A nu corrected herself.
Rex, for his, part, was very friendly with Sarita. Often, thanks to Ann's clever manceuveriug, these two would spend hours in interested chat and Ann tare, beard snatches about " the children." Always that -his and hers. "It will be a bund of ?sym- pathy" thought the listener, and sighed.
More than ever, Karita was'feverishly gay ¡ and her mood even infected the young Palmer to such an extent that one eveniun; when she challenged him to dance a "cueca," (the Chilian national dance), he sprang up und bowed in acceptance.
" Watch them 1 Doña Sarita is the most graceful dancer o! a cueca in all Chili, they say." exclaimed young Valentine, eagerly to Ann. And Sarita overhearing, gave her flatterer a passing smile so brilliant that Nan drawing her self up, secretly wondered " Does she wsnt him also ?" But Sarita did not hear thc j outh's fatuous conclusion.
" Do watch them well. You can beat her, I know 1 And though young Kdoardo Palmer is a Chili by birth, I'll see if I can cut bim out, too. Wewill try together afterwards.1'
It was a sporting offer. Val. felt tba* Miss Montague need not have answered with absolutely overwhelming dignity.
"I should not dream of nuking such a perfectly ridiculous atttempt. Sarita moves as if tile music was a part of herself ; it is beautiful to see lier. And though you may dance as well as Don Rex-you know best still he is so near perfection that one doubtB anyone else being better."
Truly enough, all the spectators were watch- ing the couple with delighted admiration, and clapping in time to the music with an en- thusiasm which justified Ann's lavish praise.
With what grace the dancers moved opposite each other, waving their handker- chiefs overhead ; the man with courting gestures and eager well executed steps, while the fair partner, with a bewitching air of coy- ness, kept retreating and crossing always as be seemed to pursue. Rex suddenly changed. He had thrown off his seriousness-, even his years of manhood ; and Ann, with eyes that followed and hardly left him, thought in ad- miration he bad never done anything that
became bim better.
" lt makes one think of the days of Queen BlizBbetb, when Sir Christopher Hatton danced with her," she said out of the fullness of her heart, turning with a sigh of satisfied Dleaeure to her comuaniou, when the last notes
of the harp and guitar on -which Inés and another friend accompanied the dancers, died
"Why? I don't see it," asked Brown, rather glumly.
"Because a well known leader-a states- man-must be a really great man nowadays to dare indulge in what is a mere pastime of youth, - and yet surpass everyone else," ex- plained Ann, confident of having rightly ex- pressed herself.
"Oh, leay ["returned the boy.
But what he exactly meant Ann neither knew nor cared jost then.
" Will you come out for some sir on the verandah. It ia a glorious moonlight-I am simply choking," said the hoy. He wds ; yet it was not too wann in the pr tty saloon. Ann good-naturedly, so elie considered, humoured
A few moments later, and the damsel learnt what her admirer's late exclamation had signified, and was unreasonably,unrighteously indignant.
Of all beings-on earth, Valentine-Val, if you please, her pot ted page, the mere boy was stammering forth an incoherent stream of jealousy-jealousy of Rex Palmer, reproaches against Nan herself. How dared he ; how
Next minute the unhappy lad, changing his mood, implored the pardon of his offended divinity. He burst iuto passionate declara- tions of love, moving appeals, vivid descrip- tions of IIÍB misery oflatciutcriniogledwithmad hope-his went of sleep, of appetite, in- différence even as tu whether he won the coming cross country race ; to everything and everyouo but her adored self. He appeared on the verge of tears.
" Don't-oh don't look like that I" was all Ann could gasp. For tho luukless boy was doing his best unwittingly to offend bis fastidious fsir. Not only had he slandered Don Rex by calling him "old " and a"swell" but now ho was hanging his bead on one sido with lovesick debasement. Nan yearned to slap IIÍB face.
At that moment Ann, facing tho taloon windows in an agony of humiliation at the Billi nese(to her mind)«f thescene, spied Sarita'sface pressed to the panes. The pretty "widow was vainly striving to peer into the outside gloom.
" Why you will pertistin treatintrmeaa ahoy ? I am older than .you are 1" Val was repeating not giving heed to Ann's kindly warning. " Do marry me."
" Von are not old enough. If you were ten years older I might not think the idea so funny I"
Ann waa seiced 'with uncontrollable hyeterioal ! laughter. Valentine gasped in furious wrath. Then both started, for'Hex was standing beside them.
"I'don't see itianynthere," he said raising his voice and turning hie. hoad towards the French window ,n here Sarita's figure appeared. Then 'to the-abashr-H courue, in a tone of veiled contrition. " Wtifii Sarita has insisted tltat I must como iou* hero to eearob for her fan. And I tell her it is much too dark to see anything."
AB eli three renamed lo the lighted room, Sarita exclaimed « thousand apologies ; there lay her fan just under the daily " Diario," closo by.
" Pray do not think I followed you just now of my own accord," said Rex low to Ann. It was the .first time for weoka, he had privately addressed .her, and the girl looked up with eager eyes to -sec the finely chiselled face that wore always a angularly sweet and uoblccxprcssion now «live with curious puzzled
" Indeed, I was not aware that anyone was
" What docwit «p»Wer? Except that you must have thought the whole thing flo absurd t A boy like that-"
" A boy I And others «re too old ! Well, »ell, any stick will serve lu beal a dug willi."
Tho speaker gave a queir twist to his mouth, plainly meant/for a smile. But Ann cried out in self reproach, although not aware of wrong-doing beyod the instinct that her paragon, her ideal, was dissatisfied in some in- comprehensible manner.
"0 ! If only J might explain matters to you nut LO anyone else,"
" Certainly. You trialled once befo; e to tell tue something. I did not forget, but Yes ; Lam only too «lad tn gratilyuuy wishes of yours that lie in my small power. "
".Before I so «way. That will be very soon, now," Ann^uiped down withaaigh. -
" Very -soon I '
And Edoardo Palmer bowed with »a
courteous friendliness, Just tinged with the due amount ot regret .«tithe prospect,of toe- ing «. pleasiqg>gueat, Üolbiug more.
Ann bit her cherry under-lip ; she olenched her hands as he turned away till .thu pink nails cur ber palm».
"And yet I,am-I .am beautiful 1" Nan suddenly -whispered to herself that night, gazing.anxiously, critically, at herr.Section in tile glass. It<was truly a -.lovely face.that gazeil back : far lovelier titan thal.ofeven three short months «go. Why? The rippling dark-brown iiair, -with its Titian red .gleams was the same ; so .waa the complexion of lilies
But the brilliant eyes were deepened, softened, shadowed-childhood's mere bright wonder at joyous life had changed to a woman's knowlerlgo 'in part of the "great mystery ibl life, that -el loving. And a faint droop of the .exquisitely curved mouth : a pathetic suggestion of sadness, like a'fleeting impression, elusive but liauuting, waa a charm so-irresistible -in tits -mete appeal, that it sst men's-pulses-beating, and possessed "their minds with longing to comfort her.
"Anil-Ann waB-saying new'to herself'for the
" What have I-»aid 7 'What have I done to make bim so different -towards me ?"
?( To ts nonlimmd. )