Chapter 70631749

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Chapter NumberV
Chapter Url
Full Date1896-06-27
Page Number9
Word Count1884
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleThe Capricornian (Rockhampton, Qld. : 1875 - 1929)
Trove TitleHalf Round the World to Find a Husband. A Comedy of Errors
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Chapcee V.— Oveb The Sea Akp Fab Away.

Tired out. our heroine sink into a deep sleep, as a Bione Sails p&ntnb into the ocean 00 tbat obe could hardly rouse her self in the morning, although knowing the passengers must hurry to go early on board bhip. As in a waking dream, she dressed and left the hotel, all tlie

while feeling as if eomebody else was inside her body, who paid the bill with an experienced air, was deferentially addressed as Mrs. Palmer, leaving unid a snn-ll ovation of good wishes from the servants, whom she bad some what lavishly tipped, considering this gene rosity due to Don Pedro, who was paying bis daughter's hotel expenses It seemed to be somebody, else who in the bustle on the quay was torn with anxieties concerning Anita's, no Anne's, faatbox, with which a too officious porter momentarily disappeared ; and it waa a traveller with surely dim idcadof some similar former experiences, who went op the gangway with dazed bewilderment, and there stood in the alley tH! rescued by the chief steward, who had especial orders to that effect from the captain. Plunging after this guide down one stairway and then another, and following him along what looked like a compressed hotel corridor,smellingofnewpaint, Ann was shown her cabin. The luggage followed close at her heel. Thenthechiefstewaidvanished, and the passenger gazed at the little crib, with its round window, wondering bow on earth 6be could ever find space to hang up her dresses and pat out all the boots and shoes and brashes and bottles she supposed necessary. Kext minute the old steward again put his head in at the do t. ** I forgot to say, madam, that you are to have this cabin yourself. Tbe other ladies wanted to come in, as it is amidships, bat that has been arranged. So yon have quite a little palace of your own.** 'Two other ladies ! A palace of my own ! Evidently I must dwarf my ideas when coming on ship board,' though Nan, aghast. ' Yes, there are three basins, and that which I thought a sofa must be a berth. Well, well ! I am grateful, indeed, now that I know what I bave to be grateful for.' As Kan was hastily unpacking a dinner gown and toilet fittings the stewardess glanced in on her round of making acquaintance with all her new ladies for this voysge. She smiled an experienced smile, and remarked, 'I would oot trouble much, mis, about your nice dresses just yet. You, will hardly need them till after we are through the Bay of Biscay.' (meaningly), ' Why not ?' ' Well, you see, none of the ladies dress mnch the first few nights ; it U so cold for one thing, and they are hardly settled down yet. Bat do go to lunch now, it is more cheerful for you than being here all alone, or I would bring you whatever you would like.' Taking this counsel, Ann went ' upstairs into the dining-room,' as she mentally phrased it, bat almost shrank back from the babel of voices, tbe chatter of knives and forks, the popping of champagne corks, and bustle of harrying btewards, and crowded tables. Swindon railway station was a trifle to tbe haste and confusion of it ; indeed bat for tbe chief steward, who dived upon her with the eve of a hawk, she might haveshrunk away from the terrible loneliness of being alone in the busy throng. Following bim, a. seat whs found for her ar a side table, beside some yellow skinued Peruvians, who talked amiuz each other a language she did not understand. She was offered cold meats, salads, and cheese, ' because there is not hot lunch, when we are starting,' explained the steward, confidentially in her ear. ' What would you like?' ' Oh ! anything ! anything ! — nothing, I think, thank you/ stammered Nan, for just

at that moment a dreadful thing happened. | One of the Pernvians expectorated on ihe : carpet, at her very feet. That made her feel as if it. were impossible to touch any food at alL She tried to tmrallow a little, bat pre sently foand that Bhe was gulping down more tears than nourishment, for a sense of quiet sickening loneliness swept over her souL All round the English people were clapping each other on the back, and drinking each other's health. It was 'Good-byeold chap,' and ** Bless you, dear ; now you will be sure to write,' iu farewell, to lads who were going out to try their fortunes, to brides whose new pomes awaited them overseas. Everybody seemed to have somebody to say adieu to to be grieved at parting with them, except herself —except herself, Jf« rose aud fled down stairs to her cabin, where she sat and sobbed upon her berth, till her eyea were scarlet, and ber nose was pink. At last scolding herself pound ly, she dribbled sume water into ber basin, and after a hasty bathing, pulled dowu her thick veil, and went on deck, fortified with good resolutions. ' I must see tbe vessel leave,' she said to herself, with a pretence at briskness. Every body says that is a thing to see.' So ho ! for new experiences. But what a hurrying bostle all likewise seemed on deck. There was hardly a bench with b square corner to perch upon. Women were standiug in groups, grave, or furtively sobbing. Men were down at the bar drinking, children were funning loose, and nurse-maids pursuing them. Bare-footed sailors were scurrying to aud fro, doing strange things with thick ropes. ' How horrible, if it is to be like this for weeks and weeks,' sighed 1I15 inexperienced one. ** Where shall I ever find a quiet epot to sit and think !' Presently a signal came ; kissings, caress ing-, and filial leave-takings followed ; then two-thirds of the people on deck streamed down the gangway, men calling back, would be boiFteroos farewells ; wet-eyed women waving encouraging hnndg to those on deck. Suddenly a great throb awoke under foot, as if the ship's heart was beginning to beat, And a screaming, hissing sound of escaping eteam followed. Presently the pier and tbe town, and the land all began to glide back wards, recede and diminiah.

' We are off,' thought Nan, gazing over the rail, feeling much like a convict sent out on penal servitude for lite, as in tbe old days. She was watching England's shores with all ber eyes, as if she might never never mote see them again ; she who was bound for an un known distant shore, a kind of desert in her imagination, where a gloomy, black-browed Don, a kiud of Spanish inquisitor, awaited ber on the beach ; and but for trusting Captain (yooduuuf's cheery assurances of help goodness only knew ! — Ann certainly did not know — what might by the law of the laud be the end of it all. '* Whew !' A ruin squall swept over the sea, and drove titca shivering under the lee of the deck-house, whence a cold wind presently routed ber again from this inhospitable shelter to strive and warm herself by walking staggeringly np and down, as others were doing. Men in twos, men in threes, ann in *rm, were tramping to and fro, backward #nd forward, with an air of buckling down to duty at once. Heogh ! the wet and slippery d*tck was aU down at an angle now on one aide; next iu-tautou the other. No, it was too shaky under foot to preserve one's balance with any digni.y, and Ann wished to avoid being disagreeably noticed as aeugglLng vaiuly to preserve her balance. *' I will look at the sea,' was ber iiext heroic resolve. Brown, tumbling hillocks of water were apparently racing by the ahip, Vffcicb last was &b apparently standing still bat for its throbs throb, tbrobing ; and as minutes passed by bigger hillocks, now topped by foam-wash, Faced past and past, and ever past ; and out in the grey blurred beyond were only mist snd watery sky, and darker grey land banks, fading in the distance. It was dreary, rnonotonous, full of disquiet. 'How can people say they like a sea. voyage 1 It mast be for tbe pure pleasure of bragging. Perhaps they like going to a dentist or enjoy & eick headache.' Nan's tears were gathering once more, ber head felt queer, her beart chill and faint, her feet frozen ; and she herself, apart from htr body, was surely the most solitarv and friendless girl on die round world that day. 'Seikoiiti! May I at least claim ac close by where a passenger halted. ' Surely I do uot make any mistake. Did we not meet at a very private little ceremony lately, although your face was carefully concealed from view?' The speaker was a tall, broad-shouldered loan, warmly dressed in a long, sea-going coat, with cap pulled close over curling black hair, and bands thrust deep in his pockets. He neither offered to remove the cap nor to bhdke hands ; but he moved his body with a deferentially boning gesture, inclining this way and that, which had the douMe ad vantage of showing the suppleness of his figure, ana the easy-going friendliness of his Nan would have known him by that alone, even had uot bis eyes bnen talking quicker than bis tongue, as they gazed at hers, with all manner of quickly following feelings con veyed by those expressive glances— interest, aorpri&etl admiration, good-natared pity. 'Yes, yes! I was there. I was— ouly please don't say a word about it,' glancing nervously round. ?' Not a word ; it's between our two selves, and the captain, eh?' And Air. By ran per mitted himself a somewhat tender glance ; but then tbe bride's eyes were plainly wet, and his otv*n throat had lately been so with two or three glasses of good champagne. He went on with cay gallantry of manner. 'I thought I could not be wrong, judging by the figure, and by the way I noticed yon bad of holding up yoar head. I say, what a beastly day it is tc go oat to sen in.'

' Is it? I am so glad. I mean it is not always like thie, then ?' should hope nor, or else yon wonld not catch me crossing the old herring pond so often. Why, look at the pale there is already, and this dirty water. We shall have a time of it in the Bay, 1 expect.' Then he pursuaded Ann to tike his arm, and walk up and down a little so as to get used to sea legs,' he assured her- It only needed somebody to give her an «rm, and she would be as right as a trivet. So, grateful far his kindness. Nan struggled once or twice up and down the deck, bat 10 uo avail. She only felt colder aod greener, till Brvau himself, with experienced pity, vwVii\Uer be helped her, and ibfcn searched for the stewardess. ( To be continued J