|Chapter Title||WORDS OF WISDOM ON THE WATERS.|
|Newspaper Title||Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton, Qld. : 1878 - 1954)|
|Trove Title||Half Round the World to Find a Husband. A Comedy of Errors|
CHAPTER XXXI.-WORDS OF WISDOM ON
On the third morning of our passengers' stay at Panama, it waB a relief*o Ann's mind to find Bryan awaiting them at the train, which was to take them across the iBthmus. Whether Thanet and Wood felt equally grateful is another matter. What a green dream that run was, through the tropical jungle. It was like rushing through miles of Kew hot- houses, lu a steaming, eun-pierced atmos- phere. Nought but palms, mangoes, ferne and tropical creepers m lavish gorgeousness, heightened by yellow alamandaa and lilac water flowers. Then thc thatched huts raised on piles above the warm swamp, the quuiut Ïiictures of negro life at every little station.
lut, alaa 1 also the long lines of rotting railway carriages once destined for thc great plojected canal ; a ruin like unto that of the tower of Habel.
Then came Colon, and the fresh waiting Bteamer ; the bustle of. starting again, of settling down ¡uto new cabins and making acquaintance wi. ll a differeut deck. Towards evening they were olf, and Ann was almost glad to feel thc throbbing of the screw once more, and feel the sea breeze. For now-now Patrick Bryun was safe ou board ! Her be- trothed was going houie ; surely witii no door open for escape she could persuade lier big school-boyish Pat to bc good, settle down, pay his debts, and work.
Än'iutervtew bad taken place in thc empty music saloon that afternoon, when oilier passengers were nailing up their cabin bags. Bryan waa quiet to gentleness ; penitent
almost to tears.
" Can you forgive me, Ann, my poor child ? Don't be afraid of my wanting to jump over board with you now-the game is up. I am stone broke, dear, so I must go home like a good boy. That's all aboutit." And Bryan heaved a deep, deep sigh, looking a woe- begone picture of melancholy.
"It is better so. In'leed, indeed it is," Ann cousuled him, stroking his haud.
Bryan shrank under the touch, aa if her cool finger tips burnt bim. " I was mad that night off Guayaquil; but perhaps with the heat and all, I bud taken a whisky and soda too much. I would do a crime for your sake, I love you so much. Is that such a great Bin in your eyes ?"
Thinking over his words and manner after- wards, Ann felt inclined to condone the offence. What girl is not equally ready to be
Îiartial when she herself is tbe cause of a over's wtong-doing?
Sitting on deck after dinner that night, in thc tropical gloom, only faintly lit by the ship's electric lights, Nan mused'Within her- self, and ber future resolvi-fl'its probable events into two opposite columns, easy to be reckoned by one versed in bookkeeping. On the ene side, here sat Ann Montagne ; an orphan, penniless. She might go back to England and land there-three weeks hence at Southampton. Then she must needs return humbly bo Aunt Barbara'« attic keeling, her- self even there unwelconied. Afterwards she would hungrily ewell the waiting crowd of girU craving for work ; perhaps be one of the many who are turned away again and again disappointed.
.This was one side of the future ; look at the
Ann Montague was under an engagement to Patrick Bryan ; the most solemn, short of marriage, which a woman can undertake. Was she not bound tofcim, not only by honour but by liking, for she liked him well, liked his person, his good-humour, and wildly rollicking spirits. Also it was sweet to know her power over this men ; for Ann loved to be loved. Alas, she had learned too late that she had never really loved Patrick Bryan. Love now meant to Ann the deepest, passionate devotion, the most perfect trust in another being ; a tove of body and mind and spirit. How completely she and Bex had understood each other ; how their thoughts were inter- mingled sweetly inconverse, that always raised her standard of right, beautified her ideals ; happiness as exquisite in its purity, as the rlesiónate pleasure she had felt when his Uses sealed hit lips.
Ah I Nb more I She must forget that So Ann sat brooding in the dark, till a gentle voice told of Thanet's presence, though its
tone did not betray that its owner felt wearied and ill. Her heart was so near her lips this night, that presently the lonely girl spoke falteringly.
The captain happened to have ioquired this evening was she going on to England in his ship ; it would stay for three days at Kingston. But perhaps it would be better for her to wait a fortnight for the following steamer. She could see how things turned out.
" I know, I understand 1" murmured her
guide, philosopher and friend, whose . sympathy, which was almoBtfeminine, divined, the subject was too delicate for frank speech. Then with a long sigh, straightening himself and pasing into darkness, Thanet began to speak in a general way of women ; their hard part in Jife, the pity, the deeurespect and admiration he felt for them aslKch. " And the best are so often married to eome man un- worthy of them ; just hecause the best women often make the great mistake of self sacrifice. Either they may win the man to lead a better life, and so, as they hope, save his soul, or else they have been persuaded into some hasty promise, and keep it-perhaps to the destruction of happiness for both."
" Of happiness for both ?" echoed Ann, low, but with a Bharp note of anxiety, "Yet surely self-sacrifices must nearly always be right f"
" Nut so. It is often an easy alternative to a women than to take a decided action."
" Is not a promise sacred ? Ought not a girl, for instance, to keep one at whatever
cost to herself?"
"If she truly loves a man, perhaps, yes. She might be miserably married to a drunkard for instance, yet think herself more miserable away from him ; and a great lave, if it may not redeem a man, will at least lighten a woman's burden. But, yet, no ; no 1 Such love cannot last without respect. It would only change to pity. Believame, little friend, once the first passion of love,ia over, what both man and woman want is a companion suited to their needs. Shs should.marry a man she can look up to, upon whom she can lean."
" Yet-yet some women have the stronger minds . . . . they are the grey mares, Î'ou know, in life." Ann weakly attempted a augh,a poor laugh.
"True; but you for instance, are not one of them. You are a very womanly woman, unless you yourself are aware of inward fountains of strength, hidden rivers of patience and long-Buffering, that are not seen hy the passers' eye. If a vine tries to make itself the
support of another's weak trailing plant what
ia the consequence 1 'If the blind lead the blind, shall they not both fall into the ditch ?' "
" But would you have a woman abandon another being who may grow the worse feeling deserted ? ls that not selfish, even wicked ? If she cannot support the weaker being she can at least sympathise."
" Sympathise with what I With his weak- ness and failings, till he grows more tender to himself, more selfish possibly more corrupt ? A coarser-grained woman might indeed save him ; it is a chance. A Xantippe, a grey mare, might do more real good by well-meant Moldings then all the gentleness of a meeker sister. ... Is that you, Billy? What are our friends doing ?'
Billy Wood hemmed and slowly curled down into his deck chair, with thc satisfaction of a squirrel finding its nest. " Let-me - see ? Bryan is playing poker with Borne new fellows he has found on board ; and the Schmidts-well, they are looking on, if you want to know their doings."
No one did. And Ann rose soon afterwards sorest heart, and went below. Only this af ter noou Bryan willingly promised her he would play no more ; he Ead enough of lt. She felt
convinocd that up on deok her two caretaker! were now saying to each other, " If he doe! these thing« in a green tree, what will he de io the dry T And she was vexed with them at the thought ; more vexed with hersolf for being irratiooal, and moat of all soroly hurt by Bryan, which, altogether, caused poor Ann to Bleep ill that night, and the heat being still f[rester no wonder that all next day she ate
¡tile and feigned ta dose.
Curiously enough, however, none of thc other passengers seemed well, although it might have ueen supposed that the voyage
from Peru would have seasoned them. The
great heat of Panama had exhausted poor Thanel's small stook of vitality ; but even Billy owned to feeling queer, and vowed, the Caribbean Sea would be a fine place for trippera-they would have such splendid appe- tites afterwards on laud. AB to Bryan, ho lay like a log upon thc round skylight ; whether really sleeping or not il was hard t > Bay. Only towards evening lie was roused ny Herr Scmidt twitching his coat lappet familiarly and whispering some intimation, at which the li. tie Frau giggllcd, her arm hooked in that of her husband. Bryan only grunted. When further roused he growled, " Can't you leave a fellow alone 1 I am not going to play any moro" dowu went his bead again on hiB
Ann, sitting by, felt righteously de- lighted.
Then Fr.u Schmidt came in J cat-like
fashion circling up to the girl, purring and trying to make frieuds. But Misa Montague refused to stroke her, purr she never sq ni> ely. Ch, it was a lone hot day, with not a sight of a bird or fish lo break its monotony. Hut now Ann, although feeling dulled like all the rest by the pitching inoiion and heat, eat pleaB- d in her heart, like a guardian angel, watching Bryan's slumber, PO pleased indeed that she confided'to Billy Wood how thc per tidious German tempters had failed to shake the good resolve of the weakeBt brother in thc
'* Ho, bo, ho I" laughed Billy, loudly ; "because he's cleaned ou" ; he has nota rap. Did you ever hear thc proverb- «
' The devil was Bick :
The devil a saint would be. The dei il got well;
The devil a saint was he.' "
"I think you are a peifectly horrid cynic, returned Ano in a liuB. But Billy did mind ; he knew it was about the last accusa ation which could be truthfully brought agaiiiBl him. And indeed Aun knew that too.
Thanet chimed in-"At any rate, you aro not at all friendly to-day Billy. Why should you be feeling fairly well when all the rest of us are out ot eons sud dismal. It is un- sympathetic. What is all that cheap li ter lure you loaded yourself with at Panama ! You have not had a word to throw to anyone
" It's a lovely series of 'Happy Half-hours for a Half-penny,' returned Billy, lonkinz over the edge of thc cheap magazine, in which he liad beeu hurried. This one is called "A Honeymoon in Hell." Icau land you another beauty, ali about a poor soldier chan, who lost both, his legs, aud sn was defeated, don't you see. I mean in marrying tbe girl he wanted. But he gets a rich widow instead, who pushes him in a bath chair for the reit of hie life, in the height of society. I wish I could find her equal."