|Chapter Title||I'LL JUMP WITH YOU OVERBOARD.|
|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 CROMMELIN,
Author of " Bay Ronald," " A Jewel of a Girl," " Goblin Gold," " Dead Men's Dollars," " Mr. and Mrs. Herries," tc.
CHAPTKK XXX.-" I'LL Jour- Wrm Yoo
Aua had retired for tho night, as she thought ; bul five minutes later came a smart authoritative knocking at her door. On unlocking it, to her surprise, Bryan himself
"It's loo carly to go to bed. Come out again, Ann, won't yon. Come out, I want to sp?ak to you."
"Can you not speak in thc morning!" returned the girl, reluctantly, standing on her threshold and on her dignity.
He »as trying to pusses* himself of her hand. " Come out, darling, I must speak to you to-night. I have not Been you all day," coaxed Bryan in «arm uceen ts. Then auddeuly changiug to an angered teue. "I'll stay here all night if you don't. I will stand outside in the passage. I swear I will."
Ann Buffered herself to be persuaded out- side and dovvu thc alley, where waB a secluded spot among the hen coops. Woman-like she yearned for au apology, which would come as balm to her wounded pride. After all he was ashamed of his M-behaviour ; how resist the honeyed murmurs of love, his sugared flatteries
in her ear !
But what was this ? Suddenly, as it seemed, her lover became violent in his protestations of passion and jealousy. He was urging his sweetheart to leave the ship at Panama-to go northward to California with
Ann'« breath left her " Wbyl why f" wa« all she could gasp, amazed.
" Why I Curse it all 1 Because of what you yourself once called my little difficulty, my own girl. Ob, lord 1 my little difficulty. A big black one I call it, hung round my neck like a clog. I cannot get away from it, I have tried and tried, but it drags me back !"
"Pat, my poor Pall What is thist Tell me the truth, oh, tell me the truth 1" reiterated Nan, clasping her head with both hands. " Do you mean debts f"
" Ves, that s about it. You have hit it ; debts of several kinds too ; of money, and honour, and heaven knows what not ! Let us cut clear of it all, uni be happy together, No, we won't go back to that beastly island. You do love me, or you would not have been a little fool, and thrown over the old boy in Chili ; you know I love you."
" You make me doubt it," panted Ann, struggling iu his strong arms, his hot breath
on her face. " You vexed me for the sake of that German woman to-day. "
" German jade 1 She rouses al! my worst self," scoffed Bryan hotly. "Sweet Ann, you are my good angel. Save me. Let us make a straight run up to San Francisco."
" No. It is impossible for many reasons. Listen I For one thing you have no money. If you canuot pay your debts, you have
" Bah I Enough to get so far. Besides for your passage you can sell your new ring in Pauoma, and go second-class for my sake. You don't mind that, darling V
"I'd go third-class if it did you any real food but this would be disgraceful. No, no I
will stand 'by you in all your difficulties, help you in every honourable way, but not this. Go back, go back home, my poor, dear Patrick, and face the worst. I will go too. You witt find me always at your side ; I will irait for you."
Patrick wound his arms round Ann's slim bodv in tile erip of a boa constrictor. A big oath burst from his lips, for the man was
"I will jump overboard now, unless you promise to come with me to 'Frisco. But I will take you, I swear, into the next world
He tried to lift Ann despite her struggles. For a miuute or so they swayed and wrestled together. Ann bad no breath, no strength to scream. Then the man prevailed, lifti d ber in hie urms, and a Bharp cry escaped the terrified girl as he made some steps towards
the vessel's Bide.
Ann's eyes stared wildly into the blackuess brooding over the deep water. No moon ; not a star. The only light was some phosphorescent flashes down yonder,.as a big fish played. Then a blowing sound, and a brilliant foam spurt showed »Tiere a porpoise was rolling. Oh, mercy I The vastness and silence were like a great hall of eternity. Was she going in there T Now I so young ;
this moment I
"Hello! What game is up hero!" The quick step of the officer on watch came towards the pair. HI'B voice rang out sharp. In truth he had heard the Bounds of alterca- tion, but hesitated to come forward till now.
"A joke ! a mere joke 1" stammered Bryan,
trying to bluster. " What brings you rouud j here, old mao 1 Counting the chickens, eh f |
Why the deuce arc you so suspicious? lam not peaching in yonr poultry yard."
And Ann was ashamed, and weakly wondered, when safe once more in her cabin, whether she bad really escaped the peril of
The ship was lying off Panama. About seven o'clock, our heroine was roused by the rattling of the anchor going down, and came ont of the Turkish bath atmosphere of her cabin £o see blue, glittering water around, studded with wooded islands, gloriously green. She had not made two steps before she met Billy Wood. Trnly enough, according to tbeir offer, then two last days he and Thanet hud hardly left her side. They relieved each other ou guard, indeed, as might two sentries. Even though Ann was less experienced in life than many girls of ber age, she felt these two were always to be counted on, and was grateful.
"Look hore, miss," said Billy, "the heat will be terrible on shore, and tiey say the hotels are awful. Our Consul has just come to see Thanet, and he offers to put you up at his own house for two nights. His wife will be delighted. Then we'll all cross the Isthmus together."
"How kind, how very kind you always ure in thinking of my welfare," said Ann, presently, with deep gratitude to Thanet, after gladly accepting the invitation.
" Do not thank me," was the invalid's rather melancholy reply. " There is so little I can do to help my fellow beings, owing to my poor health. It is a duty besides being a freat pleasure, to do what one can for others,
erhupa my position in life gives me more opportunities than some other men, that's
Afterwards, Ann hung a picture in her gallery of pleasant memories, at which ehe often liked lo look-that of a little bouBe in a garden, where papaw trees grew among palms, and black and yellow butterflies whirred all day. Beyond was a picturesque plata, green with tropical shrubs, a church spire encrusted with pearl shells; further still the hospital hill, with pretty bungalows and winding drives, through mangoes and jungle. Mean- while, English figures and pleasant voices, moro pleasing and kindlier by far to tbeir fellow-countrymen in this far-off land than they would have been at home, filled the fore- ground.
for two days Ann never saw Patrick Bryan. Mie would have been uneasy but for Billy
" Ho's all right, missy, I am keeping my eye upon him. You look after Thanet for me, and I will mount guard over our other charge. Sounds as if we were two nursemaids, looking after u couple of babies, doesn't itt"
His cheery voice was a great consolation to Ann. Only afterwards she learnt that Bryan, who was staying at the same hotel with the Sohmidts', had pasted the time playing
heavily tu a gambling olnb. In truth he hoped to nuke enough money to take her and himself lo California ; their passages once paid, surely he could overcome her scruples, Not knowing this, Ann enjoyed her day siestas and evening drives, with a lighter heart than she had borne for some time past.