Chapter 52515280

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Chapter NumberXXVI
Chapter TitleTO PART AND LIVE; THERE, THERE'S THE TORMENT.
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article52515280
Full Date1896-09-12
Page Number3
Corrections0
Word Count2295
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

CHAPTEK XXVI.-"To VAUT AND LIVE;

THEKE, THEIIK'S TBE ToBUEKT."

So it was ever. Ann's visit to Chili, that sadden, dreaded event, so utterly unex- pected, which bad given her four glad months of life, would be over and done within a few

minutes.

The late Norther had ceased to blow. The big Epglisk eteamers whioh, at Brat breath of its coming, got up their steam and put out in haste to seek safely io the ocean, had yester- day crept back cautiously into the bay, then appioaohed the dreaded shore. . It was a cloudy evening as a boat, laden with Ann, her luggage, and all the gro»n members of the Palmer family, made for the Pacific mail bound northward for Panama. The boat rose so high, and dipped so low in the heavy swell

still left that neither lues nor Ann felt com- fortable ; also their hearts were sore. Only Don l-doardo kept up a feeble cracking of jokes, but his son eat'silent and impassive aa

an Indian.

There followed tho climb on deck ; the crowd and usual buatle. Ann was well used to it, but felt a new helplessness and a sink- ing of heart far worse than when uloue and unfriended Bhe left England. Yet now she au object of care and attention, would be treated to the last as a personage of im- portance, and bidden farewell with affectionate

regrets.

" Herc is the cabin I chose you myself last week ; the best on board," cried old Palmer, fussily, trotting ahead to] show the way. " And now I'm off to find the captain, and to place you under his special charge. Capital fellow the captain ; you won't be lonely."

A lump came in Nan's throat, and two big tears, rose in her eyes at the words. Turning her head, she met Rex's gaze fixed on her ina sad, intense glance of renunciation.

"Checrup,"he whispered low,stepping close to Ann's sine, but seeming to look seawards. " It sceniB hard sometimes to do one's duty,

but it will bc a vi tory in the end-that is, if I you arc quite sure it is your duty."

" I believe so. How can I doubt it, after giving my promise to no back f"

" What I mean ie, you must not allow your telt to doubt it, or you will IOOBC heart. Re- member that." Thou turning, he Baid aloud, in his usual voice of quiet consideration, " And now, Inés, let us inspect MÍBB Anu'e cabin. Ab I It is umidships with a porthole. I see; a good thing when you get north, in thc hot weather you eau have a breeze all uight. Now the first thing to do on board these Pacific boats is to get a cabiu key-the second, never to forget it. Here is yours."

Anu bad au impression of dollars passing from her fricud's band to the palm of the stewerd. Next Rex fastened thc key on a silver belt chain she wore. It was pleasaut to her that his fingers touched it ; that chain henceforth became a part of herself. He went on giving prccauliouB for the safety of her property.

" Now, see tliiB opposite window opening on tile alley. Remember to keep your wooden shutters alwayB down, so-bolted inside. Promise mc, will you?" He did not say " dear," but he looked it 1

Then tho bull rang for those hound shore wards to leave. No very private good-byes, could be uttered in the throng, but father and eon wrung Aun's fingere till the ringa entered into her flesh. And Ines fell upon ber neck with huggings till Rex drew his relative away softly weeping. Then Ann leant over the ship's Bide, watchiug tho boat Btarting, bobbing, receding'; shu. aud Ines waviue their kerchiefs till ut last-Rex took off Iiis hat and held it up long.

Farewell 1 It was over. What ? Just a pleasant visit to friends who would never more be seen. That waa all. Whereupon Aun went heavy-hearted to fix ber cabin Btraiglit, and later to take her place ut tea dinner on the captain's right-hand-an honour reserved to her SB a friend of tho influential Palmer family.

Opposite Nan noticed with surprise, a stout middle-aged, well-dressed lady-but, of colour. There wore few passengers, and those mostly Chiliaus, who sat in family groups at side tables. Ann's neighbour looked often

sympathetically at the pale, silent girl. To- wards the end of the dinner she suddenly spoke

" It's hard to leave friends, isn't it !"

" Yes," gulped Ann, «hu in the silence of the meal felt wretched. The Captain, who entered late, after taking bis ship out of port, had hardly yet addressed her.

" But it's worse when they leave you, dear." " I don't see any difference," replied Ann, testily.

" Well, well," sighed thc oracle, mysteriously. " You are not one that thc men would run away from."

" No they would be more likely to run after her," laughed the bearded captain, brusquely joining iu. He threw a quick, significant glance at the fair apparition beside him, suggesting pitying amusement roused by bis brown passengor. Thc fat lady softly groaucd.

Aun wondered a little at thc latter ; then, impatient of riddles, went early to her berth, feeling discretion beat, considering the long, slow swell that began to rock even the big

steamer.

Next morning the sun shone brightly on a blue and rippling sea, and a panorama of

coast mountains--«orne two miles distant. In

th sc temperate regions thc heights were still green with bushwood after thc late raino, though soon they would become arid SB a stony desert. Their topi were hidden in layers of cloud, yet now and again, piercing high above these,, rose a dazzling snowy peak of the

Andes.

At breakfast thc captaiu and Ann alone appeared at his end of the central table.

"So, Mrs. Murphy was coutiding iu you last night," Baid :ic smiling " Poor BOUI she is spending her time and money io pursuiug a runaway husband. A good creature, but a a trifle cracked over her grievance ; and no wouder I It's hard PO be a wife and a mother, and then be deserted by thc man who should take care of bar. Well, I am sorry that there is no better specimen of au Englishwoman ou board as a companion to you."

"English I Why shes black," carelessly observed Ann.

" EXCUBC me, brown ; a great difference. A black woman, a brown lady, that's the pro- verb. You are prejudiced. Miss Montague, I am afraid. Mrs. Murphy is really only a quadroon."

Ann resolved to conquer what she owned was an unworthy sentiment. So she showed herself friendly when at mid-day Mrs. Murphy waddled up on deck and sank into her chair. A few words were interchanged ; the stout lady, who seemed a woman of worldly as of fleshly substance, imparting in quiet gasps

that Bhe never rose till the nurse had dressed her children and could dress her. Also when once mounted to the upper deck she never

stirred but for meals. Then she subsided iuto

silence, with fat hands crossed in her lap, while Ann buried herself in Prescott's " History of Peru." Half an hour passed thus, when Mrs. Murphy aoftly began to speak as might an animated feather bed. By intuition shu seemed to foreknow that ber young companion would close the atory of Pizarro and the Incas to listen with gentle sympathy. A few pre- liminary remarks, and very soon Mrs. Murphy, as she would have eaid, "opened ber heart."

" My old man has left me, my dear ; that's what brings me voyaging like this. Dear, dear I To think after his being a steady married man for some years that he should take such a roving turn. Those are his children playing over there. I wonder he bad the heart to leave them, though he did leave

me."

" His children ! Are those yours ?" Ann looked iu secret surprise at two children Bhe had supposed to be little Peruvians. She now saw that the sturdy little boy of some four years owned a squat nose and full-lipped mouth, while a seven-year-old pretty girl, though with frizzy golden hair and grey eyes, was also unmistakably a " white nigger."

" Ah, you think me rather old-looking, may be, but those are my youngest," replied Mrs. Murphy with quiet complacency. "My eldest boy is nineteen, going on for twenty."

Ann felt more indignant than ahe liked to Bay that a man of the runaway Murphy's years could be so unkind aud light-minded, and in

the silence which followed she reflected that

uo word of reproach had escaped his help- mate's lips, who " seemed as good as bread," to quote the French saying. Again half sn hour passed, when Mrs. Murphy once more uplifted her voice and spoke.

" Yes, I have lived in Jamaica all my life till now ; then we went to Florida for a trip, and there my old Nick gave me the slip. Dear, dear I and I was alone in a strange connery too. So I went back to Jamaica aud put my son in charge of the plantation aud took these

two children with me. News came that

Nicholas was likely to go to Brazil, so I cut down there thinking to estell my gentle- man but all I caught «vas a fever. There wa; fighting begun at Monte Video, I heard, ai d he always loved a scrimmage, so I started off there. But be was not in it I After that I just made up my mind to come round all thu way home. . . . Yes, said 1 to myself, if he's enjoying himself he will nut come back, that's pretty certain ; but if he's Bhort of money he will come to my arms, that's sure as death." .

Ann smiled behind her palmetto fan.

" It was a long voyage," she Baid gently. She was thinking of something else. " What did you do all the lime ?"

" Well, I sat still," replied Mrs. Murphy, placidly. And alie looked now round the horizon with a complaceut calm that might have outdone the old KygptianB whose strength lay, SB saith Scripture, in this same passive state.

A faltering question rose to Ann's lips ; it had been struggling to find expression for the last few seconds, though she thrust it back os Shakspere'B good wile did the live eels boiling in the pot, tapping them on the head with her ladle. Yet after all, why not ask ?

" You come from Jamaica," observed the young passenger with a fine air of indifference. " Do you happen to know there a friend of mine by any chance ? He is a sugar planter, and rich, I fancy. Mr. Patrick Bryan is Iiis

name."

" Bryan. I don't seem to know the Hame," mused Mrs. Murphy slowly, as if chewing the cud of the question. "I know most of the first families myself, at least, by name. . . . What pariah docs he live in, now ? Do you happen to know that ?"

" What parish ?" Ann bunt out laughing. "Indeed 1 dou't know. What a funny idea I"

"Ab, but we have juBt a few big paiishes in the island, like English counties, dearie. If hu happens to belong to Saint Anne's I might know him myself.

Saint Anne's. Ann searched her puzzled memory. She rather thought Mr. Bryan had

mentioned that name.

" Then I don't know him. I have a large estate there myself and it is as fine a pen us anyone oise has," decided the Jamaican squircss, finally ; whereupon she lolled buck iu her chair, contemplating ncr plump feet, cased in well-made boots, but their ten buttoiiB all

loose.

The English girl contemplated this spec- tacle of luzy well-being with scornful im- patience. What un idiot she had been to inquire. Was it likely, indeed, that this fat female should know Patrick Bryan, except perhaps, by sight, seeing both must move in a very, very different circle of even limited island society. The captain had misled Ann by speaking of M TB. Murphy as a passenger of some importance when at home. Probabily Bhe bad wealth ; and according to Hood's fnmouB lines, it had entered into her blood till

she

" As yellow as any guinea grew,

Making the common phrase seem true,

About a rich complexion."

At this moment a strange figura of fun ap- peared on deck. This was a negress black as night dressed in a snowy muslin gowu,

trimmed with lace, and adornod with green ribbons. Over her turbaned head was tied askew a hat adorned with two ostrich feathers which the damp of the Straits had shrunk to the resemblance of cleanly picked herringback bones. She carried a faded pink parasol, and

her feet were encased in bronze ball slippers 1

down at heel. Like mistreat, like maid. Thia waa tha lady who condescended to act io the capacity of nurse to Mrs. Murphy's children. Not knowing which, Ann gave way

to natural merriment.

" What a funny spectacle I I mean," apologetically, "a person of her appearance looks odd wearing such light colours."

" Poor Clarisse. Yes, she is rather sable, murmured Mrs. Murphy, in troubled depreca- tion. She likes to wear my cast-off dresses. Whereat Ann shivered, beling that shu had nearly floundered iuto a quagmire of speech, and Bhe quickly ohanged the subject.

( To be continued.)