|Newspaper Title||Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton, Qld. : 1878 - 1954)|
|Trove Title||Half Round the World to Find a Husband. A Comedy of Errors|
TALES AND SKETCHES.
Half Round the World to Find a
A COMEDY OF ERRORS.
By MAY CROM M KLIN,
Author of "Hay Ronald," "A Jewel of a Girl," " Goblin Gold," " »ead Men's Dollars," " Mr. and Mrs. Herries," Ac.
As it is a rule for all mail steamers to stop three days at Callao, and the exception when any passengers do »ot avail themselves of the holiday ou shore, Ann knew that her absence would provoke no comment, while her stay would have been voted a uuisancoby the cook and stewards. ft is true she was under thc captain's charge ; but later on, she would explain matters. Meantime, SB she rowed ashore, shu was surprised at the tqualid landing ta which Bryan ordere! the negro Chinese boatman to take them, tho latter offering objections oddly enough.
Stumbling over uneven ground, through a low quarter, they picked their steps by a back way towards tho train. Here in the Custom House r hed, Bryan left h¡B charge seated on a dirty wooden bench among Btaring officia^ while lie went to make inquiries concet ning the, train to town. Minutes passed, ten,
fifteen, twenty, and es thc dump drizzle still fell outside, while barefooted, ragged specimens of the seashore population came in to keep them-elves dry, and to gape, Ann once more began to feel extremely uucomf irt able, not to say wretched.
Whizz I That was a train, but coming in from Lima, not going out ; so the official ex- plained, with courteous regrets that the lady should be forced to wait in so disgraceful an abode for such beauty. He was too courteous by far, and once more indignation made Ana's heart hot. Next minute a troop of train passengers poured in. .
*' Dearie, is thiB you T What are you wait- ing for?" This from Mrs. Murphy, who, vi ith all the energy died out of her gait, waddled in, mopping herself limply wMi a handkerchief. Bi hind her the two children dragged each other on a hand of their uuree,
tired and cross.
"He's not herc ; I hare made all inquiries ; so we are going back to the ship and on to Panama," volunteered the weary wife.
Two voices interrupted ber, exclaiming in astonishment, " Is it possible ?" and " Here we are again, by all that's lovely." The speakers were Lord Thanet and Billy Wood.
" I am so glad to see you both. " .
Next minute Ann was shaking their hands, between laughing and crying, again and again ; while eager congratulations on their own luck in thus meetfug, «ere showered upon her.
" Which of them is it, dearie? Do tell,rae? I am just dying to know," whispered Mrs. Murphy, dodgingherfellow-passenger. "He looks a jolly fellow," nodding in Billy's direction. " But, my I the other does some- thing resemble the one down at Valparaiso ! M. hat 1 not either of these two ?" in disappoint- ment. Well, you will show him to me later, promise now won't you?" and Ann eagerly promised not once but twice, delighted to get rid of her importunate confidante, who re- luctantly' disappeared, looking over her shoulder as long as she could.
" Ves I'm here. My visit to Chili is over, and, I am sorry,' very sorry ? They were dear people all ; but I was ? obliged to tear myself away," went on Ann in tho sudden excitement of her euddengladness. "I beard you were in Lima from Mr. Bryan, who came on board to meet me ; and he says we are all going to Panama together, by the Coys, next
" What 1 He knew you were arriving to- day, and never told us! What a busily shame 1" came from Billy Wood. " We saw him yesterday, end he never said a word
" There must be some mistake. No, I tole'. Mr. Bryan quite distinctly, I thought, that we were going by the next English steamer. The Coya is a Chilian one," said Lord Thanet, in more reserved accents ; then diplomatically uttering deep regrets for the mistake, he proceeded to inquire into the circumstances. " Where do you propose to stay? You have friends here, no doubt, or letters of introduc- tion from Valparaiso.
"No, I brought none. You see, I thought of going -straight on to Jamaica until Mr. Bryan came on board this morning. He said he has business-that you were both coming later-and it did Brem a pity to miss seeing something of Peru," faltered Ann, feeling conscious that Bhe was blushing, and blushing the hotter because she blushed. " He says I can put up at thc Southern Cross Hotel."
" What I Eh !" The two men looked at each other with what, had Nan known it, was
" You can't go there," blurted out Billy, in his oindid way.
" Perhaps Mr. Bryan does not know thc Southern Cross very well. He has been stay- ing himself, throughout bis visit, with sr.me young fellows, who make up what is called a bachelors' mess," volunteered Lord Thanet, in a bland, but markedly cool tone.
" But I understood he knew it quite well, that thc laudlady was Frenoh, and very agreeable. Indeed, he said so. Why, isn't it all right ? Oh, do tell me !" broke out poor Nan, Blaring from one to the other of the two men's civilly impassivefaces. " Please advise me, Lord Thanet. I told him, Mr. Bryan, I could only stay because you and Mr. Wood were here-that made it seem proper. He knew I was g ing to ask your advice."
" In that case let mn accept the responsi- bility with pleasure," Bnsweied Thanet, briskly. " In the first place we are dead against the hotel ; and next, perhaps the best plan, will be to take counsel of Mrs. Grey, that lady you see waiting over there. We are going to lunch at her house."
So maying he approached a pleasant-looking young Englishwoman who was watching thc interview with smiling ouriosity. A few minutes of talk passed between them, then she eagerly came up to the stranger, and, on Thanet's introduction, invited Ann to be her guest.
"Indeed, you will find it lonely, besides being disagreeable, for a young lady alone to slay at thu hotel, Miss Montague. An 1 I am askiucr you, notouly on your account, but^our own. It is a real pleasure out here to meet someone from home ; and it is more than a sufficient introduction that we have both such
pleasant inutuul friends as Lord Thanet and Mr. Wood."
Ann could make but a faint disclaimer. The famous hospitality of the West Coast would be disgraced by refusal, Bhe was assured. Both ber men friends begged her, in eager murmurs, to accept. So in u, few minutes all was settled, and only such details as tho disposai nf her luggage were still being dis- cussed, when Bryan, hot and hurried as a limul) shell, burst into the middle of the little
" It'B all right. Here I am at last. Hallo -" He »topped short ; vexation, almoBt dismay, written on his face.
" Tableau 1" murmured Thanet to himself. " Hullo ! you're a nice fellow, leaving a lovely young lady alone in a howling desert like this," jeered Billy Wood. " We have cut you out. Mrs. Grey has carried off the distressed damsel, white you were ' stravagu ing' round Peru this last half-hour for sport. Ho 1 bo ! Look how blsck he is,"
It waa true.
" I have made all your arrangements-" began Bryan, turning to Ann, after a very deep bow to Mrs. Grey, whom be only knew by sieht. The latter interfered, seeing s al or m brewing, with a quick tact and sweet manner, willoh called forth Ann's gratitude at once, and smoothed Bryan's lowering brow. It was delightful to have been on the spot, and scoured so charming a guest. Her husband knew Mr. Bryan, she believed, and they would be happy to sse bim at their little place. Only a small rancho, or she would be
glad to pat htm up also ; but then, of course
c was one of the Basbelor's Mess. Woul he come and dine with them to-night 1 H must come often, and visit Miss Montague.
Th« ground waa out from under Bryan' feet. Ho had been secretly vexed not t know Mrs. Grey hitherto, for she was cor sidered the leader of the small English societ; in Lima, What between her Battery, thedii approving looke at himself of his men frien IE and Ann's radiant face, he could only stamme and give way.
: That afternoon saw Ann established iu on of the prettiest villas of a pretty suburb o Pizarro's oily. Once moro she said to hersell " What a lucky girl I am I"
And besides Lord Thanet and Billy Woo came liryan also to diouer ; weil dressed thi limo, for his black suit had known little ns in tho wilds. He looked more like his oh handsome self again, thought Ann, with re turning satisfaction ; or was she growing uset to Ids appearance ? That, evening there wa no time for any private talk between the cn gaged young people. Only Bryan murmurei as he left, " 1 shall come and Bee you to
Next day he came ; aud Mrs. Grey tiudin) tactfully that the Chinese cook required lie supervision in his garden-kitchen left tin young people alone together. Afterward! Ann had a bewildered feeling that a suddei skirmish of wordB with her betrothed waxei lo a mighty battle. It was sll very wei staying with Mrs. Grey till the Coya sailed but Bryan urged impassiouately that Am should then leave Peru with him. To thi she answered with all the objections gleauei from both Lori Thanet and thc (-reys. Tin Coya was an inferior vessel ; the weatliei would be cooler oort h ward, tho longer the) delayed ; her hostess wished her to Bee some thiug of Peru and its life ; besides Lord Thanet
" Oh, Thanet 1 always Lord Thanet wh< comes betweeu UB," burst out Bryan, frorr
between Ilia set teeth.
Somehow, iu what words Ann did not trj afterwards to remember she found him accuB ing her of wishing to " catch the coronet," ai he expressed it. At that Ann's indignatiot flashed into flame ; she was angry, furious, al
so fslse and mean an stccuBation. As het wrath kindled, Bryan's fell.
" There, there I Murder and turf, as tlx Irish say, you have a fine spirit of your own,' said he, good-humouredly. " But ho« pleudid you look when you ere in a passion a mau would risk his soul for such a girl. 1 believe you would rather have me than Thanet, for all his title. Come ! kiss and bi friends aud say you will come on the Coy«
But Ann was inexorable ; she would d<
At last Bryan gave in, thinking half a lodi better than no bread. He agreed that all tlx party should travel together. But Ann, also, must meet him half-way, by a kiss now, which she did, with anxious eyes watching the verandah, ears strainod, and a ehamed relief when his bot embrace was over.
" Please not again," she urged, striving tc free her hands. "They don't know that wc arc engaged, deir ; what would they think ?'
" Look here 1" Bryan stood still, but held her haods fast. "Promise me one thing. Don't mention it to any of your .friends here. Thanet and Wood «re good fellows enough. I am not jealous, duckie, but men don't like tc have their private affairs discussed by othet chaps, you see ; promise me." And he wss eo urgent that Ann promised.
CHAPTER XXIX-ON THE THACK OP THE
So once more Ann Montague and the Brotherhood found themselves on shipboard together.
It was Btill drizzling as 'the shores of Peru
"Not raining; no, it never rains here,' were almost Mrs. Grey's last words, waving a cordial farewell to her guest, for it is a pro- verb in Peru that no rain falls, nor are um- brellas needed, however wetting the mist and muddy the pavement.
In spito of its wintry clouds, our travellers yet took away sheaves of pleasing memories from the Land of the Sun ; of warm hospi- tality from strangers, of happy rides on pacing ponies through leagues of sugarcane fields, of Spanish churches in the town and Inca mounds in the brown country.
So the lowland faded, and five bells rang
"Just like our old trip out to Monte Video, except for Mrs. Bellamy," remarked Billy Wood, genially.
Not quite the same, thought Ann, for her rosy visions had vanished in the sober light of day. Nevertheless, but for that disillusion- ising first impression at Callos, it must be said that Brysn was aa pleasant on land as of old, even rollicking gay. He had won the Grey's liking, re-established his old intimacy with Billy Wood, and done his best to recover lost ground in Ann's esteem. On board ship be was morose for a day or so, grumbling aside to Aun that il was just as he expected.. " With those other fellows always about, there is no chance of having a cosy little chat
But she was patient, and soon rewarded by his increased good humour and better manners. In trntb Bryan waB flattered that the girl, whose beauty was a matter of daily admiring comment, should choose him openly as her appointed squire, Anu sat beside the Captain, out Bryan sat on her other side.
His chair was beside lier's on deck as amatter of right. Ann talked to him most, leaving the rest in order to walk with bim, saying to herself, " It is best to do so.It is right 1"
So the trip north promised pleasantly, and its monotony was broken by some varied if small incidents. The first evening came a joke at dinner-time when Billy Wood called for a wine-list. The Chilian stewards put their headB together, evidently disconcerted. Then one oame forward, explaining in bland dejection. '" Very sorry, sir, but we can not find wine-list, and he must be loast. There ÍB ouc other but him is stickin' on de wall and is fast. But de barkeeper say he will make one resdy in an hour."
One morning Billy Wood knocked at Ann's cabin door, calling out, "There are some whales kuocking about, I thought you might like to see them. Hurry up I"
Ann flew on deck, and there fonud tbe captain waiting on the bridge with thc offer of hts glasses. " There's a real picture got up for your express benefit, Miss Montague. See the whaling vessel youder and ber two boats out. The far one has harpooned its whale ; watch it blowing I There it goes I"
And far over the little waves could just be described a dark Bpeck rising and falling on the Pacific swell. That was the boat holding some six human beings, whose lives might be dashed out nf them any moment. Near it a white mass of foam was rising from the water-there was a whale. Here, there, everywhere, indeed, over tho sea rose more foam spurts ; a whole school of whales was about. So our passengers watched lill the speck faded out of their sight, though the schooner's manouvres plainly showed ene was following her boat like a hen some dariog
Another day Ann,gaziogidlyoverboard, saw a dark moss appear a moment in the water close by. "Il was a swordfish," said the sailors, as the cager passengers crowded lo share the eight. One such will brighten the j calm-or, to some folks' minds, the monotony of a long afternoon on the Pacific. Then next a turtle would come floating by fast asleep ;
showing a beautiful chestnut brown shell, j just under the almost olive green water. Again lhere were devil fish to. ? be Been and water suakes ; besides islands where the old pirates used te laud and bury their treasure. Let us name oue great mau among them, in a fresh breath, for he was Francis Drake. Ann loved to talk of such old English sea heroes as he, who passed up and down tbÍB very coast, watching for the Spanish galleons. She and Thanet were never weary ofdiscuBS ing Pisarro, and the IncaB, besides A my as Lee abd his merry men who ssiled Westward Ho ; while the captain contributed legends cf later bucoanneers round Panama.
I And Bryan would chime in with bl<
curdling tales of Jamaican pirates, si English, to their shaine bs it said, who on Pori Royal an earthly hell, till its fan earthquake engulfed them and the town un tho seemingly quiet waters of the Lsgooo, hot summer's day. So all went well till
vessel reached pretty Guayaquil, passing its long river fringed with palms, where
alligators lay like dead logs ulong thc bar while at uight the fireflies lit up the sh cabins. It was a hot morning, as it shouh seeing that the name of Ecuador signifies position of the country crossed by
At breakfast time delicious fruits appea on the table, causiug some merriment ; foi Ann, eyeing some water melon which lîrj end Dilly Wood greedily wished to trans'ei their own plates and poi-sons, sccepti'd a gen ous offer of a big Bliae from her affianced,
sepulchral voice of the horrified ele wi uttered this dreadful warning in Pvruv English : " When she is in tile Bloinauh i turua to vinegar !" Bul ut lust the capl
persuaded his pct prsscnger to indulge in li of the nost delicious palta or alligator pe which ever grew ; as twiting HS cream chee and uoaproachable in nutlike Savour.
" What a perfect day iu the tropics !" < friends exclaincit, aa they strolled upon dei where it was hot, but willi a fresli brei blowing ; the suu basing truely, but ? blinding.
Then a fat and fair haired German wornt thc wife of a commercial traveller, call
eagerly to Nan and Bryan, as they leant api over thc railing .' l.'ume here, quick, quiu There is one such curious siglu." She ] them to the other side of the ship, where t men who seemed carviug in mahogany, nak to their waists, were pushing a fUt-boHnm boat to the main hutch, with six fat bulloc three ou either side, lied up heads ami taila poles projecting from the fr-dl craft. I poor beasts looked miecsbly frightened, tin big bodies seemed painfully inflated us th lay broadside on thc waler, evury uow ai then giving a úseles, convulsive heave.
" What a cruel sight 1 Let us come awe urged Ann, lay iug lier band on Bryana aloa« " ll thsy ase going to be bauld on board I their hornB, fastened to the wiucb, I hate seei
" They wont suffer any the less because o looks, gigged frau Schmidt, giving Bryan palehlue glauoh, in which nanoed a lill devil of naughtiness. "Bout go awa Mecster Bryan. Hike to watch whit happe
so can you.
Ha, ha I Yes, well stay. You are t squeamish, laughed Patrick loudly lookii from the Teutonic charmer to Ann, But
only saw that young woman vanishing bat as she mounted to the upper deck, oarelesss his indifference, and merely iudignaut beaau of the sufferings of the bunib bruites.
A little later, Bryan found her soothed, ai delicately sniffing the fragrance of an unknov tropical fruit, which Thanet had just bougl
from some Indian uativee.
" You are coming ashore atith me and tl Schmidts I have just settled it with then Well be a nice little party of four.
" But we bave already promised to go i shore with the others ; witli Lord Thanet ac Mr. Wood," expostulated Ann, io rising vex ation. "I hardly know the Schmidts,
don't care to talk with- them." For in tl twinkling ot her mind's eye, she foresaw tl German traveller trotting by her side, wil his black bag full of samples for tho shops whilst his spouse and the fickle Patric dallied behind. An altercation ensue!
Patrick being obstinate, having just bee twitted teasingly by Frau Schmidt coi earning Ann and his supposed rjvals. Bi his lady love stood firm, expecting, it mm be owned, that he would give away. To he surprise the hot-headed Jamaicau whisked o ? in high dungeon, and ten minutes later sb saw him rowed ashore with the Schmid I couple, the little woman evidently io hig
fjlee over her victoty. Miss Montague bit he
ip, and it was with stately step that sh entered the captain's gig, and was escorted o shore by himself, and the two still fafthfu brothers. It was bot here, " hung out ou th line," aa Billy Wood remarked. And what i busy thriving little town this was ; the mos bustling of any seaport on the coast. Thi Guayaquil " monkeys,'' os they are called, an truly a lively, dapper, little race. Mistres Ann was pleased to announce her appreciate
So our party wandered under shad] arcades, and bought carved Indian figures and hollow ivory-nuts, full of pretty minia ture toys. They admired some gorgeoui Indian gala costumes of parrot's feathers ; si rich in shades of reds and yellows, cue though of Ayacanors's feather dress, once more re calling Westward, Ho 1 Billy yearned to buj the bead gear, and wear it in Hyde Park on . Sunday, for it was a real top hat in shape, he declared, only made of brightest plumage, with a friuge of lovely humming birdt dangling from the brim. The rest of th< attire, it may be added, consisted mainly ol -necklaces of monkeys' teeth and parrots beákB : besides a square apron quite fit for tb«
Garden of Eden.
But Ann refused to see the greatest curiosity of all, shown the others with seen cy by the curio dealer in an inntr room. Thu was a dried humane head, the size of ac orange, with its features easy recognisable tc any friend of the family. The iribes in thc iuterior thus preserved their enemies' heads some say those of their mothers-in-law-by some process of extracting the boues. So wandering further by gaily coloured three storeyed houses, mimicking maride palaces, and wood-paved shaded "portales with glimpses of richly wooded country at the street ends, our friends Btopped by a small restaurant. Two men were showing off a young jaguar cub there, a pretty little beast, no bigger than a tiger cat. Jost round the house comer were set benches and tables. The sightseers strolled oo a few steps and they came full upon Bryau and Frau Schmidt, seated there drinking beer. Did Ann dream that his arm was suddenly with- drawn from being locked in that of his neighbour. Certainly if so Billy Wood knew it, for he was ahead, and had given what might or might not, have been a warning " Hillo !" But Ann was too proud, of course, to ask bim, which was just as well considering that be would certainly not
have told h»r.
For a minute the situation was disagreeable. Ann shivered, and drew into herself ; but Bryan's bronzed skin took a redder tinge, as he welcomed them boisterously. The Geruian Jexebel, as Ann mentally termed tho creature in scorn, drained her glass with an impudent innocence of air. Both culptite invited che others to Bhare their convivality, but in cool, quiet tones Ann excused herself, and sailed onwards, aa the captain expressed it. like a brig under full canvas, convoyed by her I escorts three. Returning towards the vessel, I they passed Herr Schmidt three streets away, with his bUok bag wide open, busily inviting orders for bis wares from a fat shopkeeper. It was late whea these three individuals re- turned to the vessel ; so late that the captain was worth, for he was even obliged to sound the steam whistle to recall them wishing to go down ibe river by daylight. AB ihey got under way, Ann fouod herself seated ou deck alone with Lord Thanet. Hud presently, as the swift tropical gloom settled down, Won iug out thc low shore) of the wideniug liver, these two glided into confidential talk. She knew not how it came about ; perhaps he
The msn was saying. "Do you mind telling me if you think of going straight home, or do you propose staying in Jamaica !"
"I hope to stay a while to see how things turn out. Maybe there will be some opening for me there," said the girl's voice, wearily, knowing it was a lame reply ; but she could
give none better.
" As a governess 1 Surely it was not to be ono in Jamaica that you left your pleasant post in Chili 1"
" No, no I Please don't ask. I would tell you in a moment; indeed, I should like to consult you. But-but I have promised - "
"Child, take care." Thanot's voice sounded more than earnest, alarmed, in the gathering
darkness. " I should tremble to soe s sister of mine wandering aloneUbrougli the world as you are doing. Innooenoe, purity, are a defence yot.asinlhe days of Uno, but theyoan not be reckoned .on as a safeguard, w ben joined to inexperience of the world ; to ignorance of ils dangers."
" What can Idol Must one not always keop one's word ?" . (Ann voice sounded as if its owner were on the verge ol weeping )
" Kot if ihat promise' is wrongly extorted ; not if it brings trouble to one's self ; aorro »' to friends. May I speak frankly aa your friend, Miss Montague ? You are plainly under an engagement of marriage to Mr. Bryan Nay 1 I do not whit to presumo for a moment to force your confidence : but that ÍB the prevsil iog impression made upon tho minds of your fellow pssseugsrs. Why such HU engagement should be secret seems strange lo those friends, like myself who Uko a true interest in you "
An embarrassed silence followed. I lieu
Ann spoke small and parrot like. "Men do not like their ptfvate affairs discussed by strangers do they ?"
"Meuare not all of one type. 1 should not endure the least doubt of t hu honour of my inotivi:a lo exist in the minds of onlooker*," said Thanet low but firmly
Anu was aghast at what his words implied. " IYombe me Ibis," he went on eagerly, ?"that you will allow holli Billy Wood and myself to watch over you like brothers ; that we may see you either, I hopo, Imppily married or else put you on board ship fur England."
And Ann promised. There was no innre lo he Buid ; and then UB Bryan's tall figure loomed blackly against the background of durkncss, the girl rose, and glided down to her cabiu or the night.
To be continued.