Chapter 52516585

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Chapter NumberXXXIV
Chapter TitleHOMEWARD BOUND
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article52516585
Full Date1896-10-17
Page Number3
Corrections0
Word Count2446
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

TALES AND SKETCHES.

Half Round the World to Find s

Husband.

A COMEDY OF ERRORS. j

By MAY CROMMELIN,

Author of " Hay Ronald," " A Jewel of a Girl," " Goblin Gold," " Dead Mon'sDollars," " Mr. and Mrs. Herries," &c.

(corvBionT.)

CHAPTER XXXIV.-HOMEWARD BODND.

And go next day Ann did. A guie liad Binung up, and tlie palm trees fringing the snore «ore bonding their crowned heads, as if in Hue. So at least n marked the captain, in IL passing poetical mood, welcoming the re- turned dove to his ark, with unfeigned

satisfaction.

" I ou look pale, Miss Montague. It lins been loo hot on shore for you. Quite right to come back willi us to England ; nothing like a sea breeze to make roses bloom an ladies' checks. "

Anita, of course, dime on board with thc

depariiug visitor ; and Wecllic, although delayed hy a sub-lieutenant's duties, had eagerly promised that he Would try and gallop his pony down at the last minute, to say good- bye t o Iii» deur lit tlc wife's school fi ¡end ; and lo escort Anil i home, he dutifully added.

A nu « ¿ia glnd of lier companion's presence, yet her eyes »lill wandered to the Bhore, for she hud sent a note over night to the King's House; hm-without getting ii reply. There was barely time, she told herself; her friends would not have forgotten, but, as the Governor's gULSts, engagements might bc in adc

for them.

" There is the Governor's carraigc driving down," exclaim'il Anita in surprise, "and hero ure two gcutlcmcu hurrying on board. Aro they your friends, dear? Mind you iutroduce mc. Ann, if they ure Btaying here »ll winter ; it will he so nice to know ihetn."

Tho new-coiners «ere indeed the still faith- ful remaining members of the Brotherhood, who did not, like too many folk, forget their shipboard friends as soon as they set foot on lund. Leaving Billy Wood to flirt willi .\uilu, a pastime which both seemed equally ready to engage in ut u moment's notice, un moved apart by silent mutual understanding with Thanet. Had she not found bim the most true friend and trusty councilor of all men on earth?-excepting always, one.

Bruised as the girl was in spirit, elie « ¡need from even thc sympathy of most people ; hut she must ju>l tell him.

" So you have settled to go. Perhaps, after ell, it is for tlie best," began Thanet, seeing that the words of expected confidence were trembling on his companion's Hps, yet could not 6nd utterance u-ithoul encouragement,

"li is best. You may bc surprised when vou hear why," murmured Ano unsteadily. Then out came ihe whole story with a rush.

" Married I How abominable'! - How in- famously bailly men will sometimes treat Women." Thunet never raised his Voice ; no one near could have overhead a ey Ho bio ; yet his nun tone of scorn was withering, his look of pity as deep as the sea. He went on in pure wonder. " And he ec med so pleasant j wu all thought him euch a good hearted agreeable sort of chap. How one may be taken

in !"

Dear Thanet I Ann quite loved him, and feit consoled. To her hurt vanity and pride, his words were soothing balm. He did not say, " I never much liked him," or " I always thought there WEB something queer about tne fellow," as many another might have done ; yet Ann very well knew that he alone had never becu as heartily warm to Bryan as thc latter, as even she herself in former days could have wished. But then Thanet was so considerate of others' feelings ; no one else had ruell perfect tact, chivalrous courtesy ; on one, hut one ether whom Ann privately thought to be a true 19th century knight.

Then thc bell rang for departures ; there followed hurried hand-Bhakes, kisses ; a vision of VYecllic, pink-faced and mobil, racing up the gangway ut the very last moment hut one ; stretching out one hand to Ann in farewell grasp and seizing Anita with the oilier.

They were all gone, they were waving handkerchiefs from the quay. The ship was gliding away. .... Farewell.

The sea was rough even io port ; rougher outside ; more so that night. To doze and remain dinnerless was all of which jenn's diminished stock of valour was capable. Next morning when she unclosed her eyes it was in Jacniel Harbour.

"Do dress quick, m'm, and look at Hay ti Island," said a pleasant Btew&rdeBB, rouBingly. " There are such spicy smells from the

mountains here."

Ann no longer seemed to care much about sights or sceutB ; yet, striving to spur her own Signing energies, did betake herself, though with unsteady feet, on deck. Around lay a fair panurma, the green mountains of the Black Man's republic, an island much bigger and even more fertile than fair Jamaica, yet losl to progress sud civilisation.

" This is where they are said u> e»t babies -and il seems pretty well an established fact that i hey sometimes do. And they prac- tice Voodoo, likewise," said a meditative voice in Ann's ear. It was that of the wise and well informed Viking skipper, who had many years railed those seas. This was Ann's sole impression of Hayti. Then fortwod^ys io UB smooth as sea and sunshiny weather as heart could wish-the October warmth being even too great for most folks' comfort those nights, with even but one sheet for covering, and the ports open-onwards, thc vessel steamed towards BsrbadoeB.

Here came greeu shores, a low ¡Bland, thickly scattered with houses, and trans- parently blue water lying between the ship and an insignificant looking town.

" Try some fried flying ash, Miss." was the steward's bland suggestion at beakfaet. Such were Ann's first impressions of the oldest English Colony in thc West Indies. Her next was when some new passengers, all compara- tively strangers, urged her to go on Bhore with them, and seo Bridgetown. Afterwards she could not remember there had been any- thing to see in the blinding small BtreetB, where dust and glare prevailed. A grinning nigger boy immediately rushed forward, on Ann's lauding, with a cordial welcome to hor surprise.

" Missus, you 'member me. I brought you

anhöre la-ast time." Then to Ann's

compauion, a bachelor of juvenile appearance who was a friend of Willie Finn's, by the way. " Ssh, sah ! I took you and your wife to de ship before. You know me."

Thc young mau smiled a sardonic smile.

The joys of »bore being So few, it was better to return to the ship, and watch for an hour or so half a dozen black imps, diving for Jamuicau nickel pennies that look like shillings. Almost nake l, like hronzcB dug up from Herculaneum, how the urchins watched grinning-then flashed into the blue water, down 1 down ! out of Bight. Simple Ann wonld even begin to think of Bharks, and entcrtaiu fears for their safoly, when hey 1 up would come a smiling black face holding tho coin tight in its glistening teeth. Then the urchin* would hoist themselves as lightly ou tho side of their crazy tub, as on thu arm of au easy chair. Ann noi iced one especially who seemed an Albino, being lfght-complextoncd, with altnnst white hair growing in a straight shock and apparently trimmed by help of thc pro- verbial bowl, Not a nigger ; yet not a Creole

cither.

" There are a good many queer specimens Uko that boy round this island, and their origin puzzles everyone," threw in the captain passing by as Ann questioned him with her usual thirst for knowledge. "Some people think they must be descended from Irish con- victs, who werejonco seht ont here. They are looked down upon as outcasts, poor creatures, even by the negroes. "

He went on, and Ann fell into a reverie , again, as she leant, musing and eolitary, over I the ship's side. She often foltjhcrselt keenly a dual being, and now become aware that one-1

half bf her waa trying to amine the other half-whioh latter orossly replied, " It ii only

a make-belief 1"

" l)o try and take a little Interest in these strange sights," urged Ann the wise. " No matter how unhappy you may be, these help to divert the mind from useless brooding ! they are curious details, however small. Most probably you will never see the like again. When old and grey you can remember Bridgetowu Harbour, and still tee the black boys diving."

Weary of this inward fight, the visible Ann Montague, such as sho seemed to others' eyes, now tried to choose a middle path. She niupped out a course of study for the next fortnight, «lieu uo land would lie in sight. She would rub her school loro bright, lier small ttouk of languages, of history, geog- raphy. (Ob, how pleaaant to leam that last, by the caBy road of travel). Truly as a teacher, henceforth, she would need these

all.

I'his plan thc futuro governess partly carried out, even under shipboard difficulties thal all travellers know so well. Rough water one day ; a breeze thc ni xl, ruffling tilc lcavcH of books, scattering papers ; interrup- tions from all passing idle persons. Ann liked most of the passengers well enough; hut alie «as weary of making nc» acquaintances, sud only cared now to be left alone tn read. Anil so, though some " married bachelors," travellers for pleasure or on business, whose wives were at home, tried persistently to eu groas thc attention of this handsome lonely girl, iu thc end they lett her to herself.

And of what did she think 1 Of whom rather? Of Rex, Rex, Rex Palmer-recalling Ilia sunshiny smile, his kind musical voice, his well-knit figurt and stately heiring ; beyond all these outward advantages thc strong sense of duty, thc superior gifts of mi.id joined to a soul tender as any woman's which made the man superior to other men. And he had loved her-Ami Montague would feel proud of that should she live to be a hundred yearB old. . . . ti, dare she write to himt Tell him she was free 1 . . . But weeks must elapse before a letter could reach him. He i might have changed his mind-be engaged to

Sarita.

The figures of all those she had met this last year passed in mental review before Ann's inner vision. Mrs. Bellamy- ah 1 a Bash of memory brought back her whilom rival's last words illumining Ann'» mind. " Some day you will kuow I WBB uot your enemy." She knew thc eo-called Patrick Bryan was

married.

From Jamaica home, it was fifteen days' run, and eleven of these passed by with fairly good weather, aa thc ship travelling on its heaving road skirted the edge of the Sargasso, or Weedy Sea, which is ao full of floating sea- weed that theories cluan as to the why. Ouce more our heroiuo sought information of the skipper, who thereupon explained itB peculiar position. Quoth he. "This sea is bounded below by the north equatorial current, passing westward : and above by the Oulf Stream, starting ou the east from thc Gulf of Mofeo, and flowing northward: between which it forms thc centre of a whirlpool, so to speak. Throw Borne chips into a basin and stir it rouud the edge with your finger ; all thu chips gather in thc middle. Well, the Sargasso Sea and ita weed represent the basin and cliipB."

It is seldom rough passing by thc edge of

this calm mid-ocean sea tract. But the Azores arc the crux of the home trip. Early one ¡Saturday morning the ship passed this group, the nearest island rising like a dark

mass to starboard.

" We will try to have a good service to- morrow, captain, if you can lend us your harmonium, said Ano at breakfast time to her neighbour, striving to please him as she knew such an offer gouerally did. To -ber surprise the tough mariner shook his head. " Without wishing to damp your zeal, Miss Montague, to-moxrow may be too rough for much music. If we manage service al all it may be a case of sitting tight." The predic- tion of this weather-wise seaman proved true. That night the wind rose, the next day it blew a gale.

" Please don't get up, MÍBB Montagve," en- treated thc stewardess, holding thc edge of Ann's door in an affectionate clasp, and stand- ing at an extraoidinary angle, as if this highly respectable matron was aping a ballet dancer. " Some of the ladies will rUeand are tumbling about tu their cabins gettiug hurt, and then that does give trouble. Hark to that !" as a

wave broke with thc sound of a cannon over the deck. "You don't often hear thc like. That is worse than I have ever known it these four years I have been at sea,"

So lying still, obedience being easy to her nature, Ann fell into a Btupefield state, what with the noises overhead, thc runuing past of sailors, the cries and calls and a loud roaring made by the racing of t he STOW, which seemed more ofien out of water than in it, besides thc Illowa from heavy waveB. At times she felt usaif lying head downwards into an abyss, then rising as thc ship heaved over, she seemed gliding feet foremost into an opposite chaHii. And it was in this helpless plight that our heroine neared England's wintry shores. On thc third day, dressing under the difficulty of being pitched about like a shuttlecock, Aun staggered up through the day-gloom, all sky- lights being covered over, to the music saloon, where " dead lights" were equally uninspirit ing. There she met some other passengers, all sadly tired and aching from holding on in their berths. They laughed, though feebly ; after all it was a queer Bight to watch the wild tottering gait of each new comer, who clasped rails and pillars in frantic embrace, or looked as if climbing the Alps at an angle of goodness knows how many degrees when crossing the Baloon floor. ThuB it happened

after all-what she could never have other-

wise believed-that Aun Moutague was glad with «ll her heart to step once more on borne

soil.