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Chapter NumberIV
Chapter TitleMISS OR MADAM
Chapter Url
Full Date1896-06-27
Page Number8
Word Count1934
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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Chatter IV.— Miss or Madam ?

'Have you seen anything of Mrs. Finn?' inquired Ann of tbe waiter on returning to the bustling caravanserai where she was a number, not an individual, or so she supposed. But brides wedded by proxy are not every day Guests; so the man inspected this one

with interested cariosity and recognition as he promptly replied : 'Not that! know of miss — I beg pardon madam. Bnt perhaps she may have gone straightfupstiirs to your room.' Then he called to to an unseen individual in an office : ' Any one been to see Mrs Palmer *' Ann bad turned away and was going up stairs, when it struck her for the first time that she herself was being spoken of as Mrs. Palmer. ' I& that the name ? Why, I thought it was Pallmer' ehe mentally remarked slightly puzzed. *' Well, lean 'tbe very mncb married, if Idou't kno*r my own, nume.' Bat tree enough *l Palmer' was ihe Dame tor the chambermaid the proxy bride ouce more inquired, anxiously : ** Has tbe yoang lady been l.ere ; my friend, Mrs. Finn you know?' *' No, mise— I beg pardon m&du.m. Not that I know of,' was the reply, given with a smirk. The servant b evidently thought it rather a joke to hesitate between miss and madnm. so Ann noticed with a slight Bense of irritation. Still the madam, always finally decided on with some emphasis, impressed bee mind with a melancholy sense that she really was married. ?* And nobody need enry me, for of all the miserable honey moons ever spent, I expect mine would take th* prize.' Whereapon the bride weariedly sallied forth once more, this time in search of the perfidious Anita. At last, feeling exhausted with fatigue and dis appointment after a fruitless search at many hotels, Ann lit upon fresh traces of her faith less friendB. At a small hotel she learned that Mr. and Mrs. Finn had staved there last night, and only left an hour ego for London. 'An hour ago. Just my luck,' lamented Nan, believing for the moment, like many of ub, that she was always doled oat larger Blices of misfortune than any other neighbours, an assumption which every one elee is generally ready to dispute. After all, what good would it do to see Anita ? That young Udy was not likely to sail to Chili and face her parent hand in hand with the fair-haired Weellie, so Ann, grown more reasonable now.

reflected. Nevertheless, it would have been a relief to tell Anita wh*t she. Nan, thought of that yoang woman's treacherous conduct. Whereapoa our heroine was. aware of a bodily sense of vacaum, which had been steadily growing for some time past, and now uniountsd to positive hunger, bo ene entered the first small restaurant ahe could find -a very mean one ; thankful for a chair and a greaay chop, wash^. down by black tea. that must have stewed for nonre No matter ! economy was strictly necessary, indeed it had always been ao; but with dm dreadful voyage ahead, poor Nans heart quail-d as to how the slender contents of her purse could possibly be eked out to ful fil the calls which might be made upon rta owner as a first-clats passenger. Vague memories appaU«d ber of Anita's reminiscences of her voyage to England, and careless mention of shipboard experiences, in which every passenger was expected to join, under penalty of being considered mean. Now Ann was painfully pnnctilloas perhaps just because she was poor herself, u- pay her way and share ; much more eo, than the rich Anita, to whom a few more shillings more or less mattered eo little, that it never struck her they could matter to her companions. Slowly retnmiug to tbe hotel with Ugging footsteps, Ann was startled to feel a touch laid upon her arm. ** What have I done since morning to be cnt so unkindly ?' asked Captain Goodman n cheery voice, that bad a peculiarly plesant in tonation. ' Why did yuo not dine with us all at the table d' bote ? 1 kept a place beside myself for you. What ! dined out alone, yoa say? Tnt ! tat! that is very extravagant when Don Pedro MacTague has to pay a two days' hotel bill here for bis daughters ex penses. Did yon not know that V1 Captain Goodman was a shrewd individual andkindhearted ; so now pitying Nan's tired iace and white look, said to himself tbs.t he moat really look after this poor child in future. ' Well, yon have been a fool !' So Miss Montague sharply addressed herself on gaining her room, aod catching sight of her own reflection in the looking-glass. 'Anybody would say yon were ten years older since yesterday,' snd visions rose ruefully before the gazer's mind of various courses the had missed ; of soap, and fish, and sweets. For her hanger was stayed, but not satisfied. But new what was the chief dnty that lay among the several near her hand. A few momenu' reflection ; then Nan plumped down on her knees with swift energy contrasting strangely with the frequent teposeof her large hated above all other labour but all neccesstries restful figure. Packing this young woman for six weeks' voyage most be crammed this night into a *rn^1l compass as possible ; that znoch sbe knew without being an ex perienced traveller. So for an hour or two the prospective passenger kept oa bravely plaoging her head ineide trunks, one of which had a lively trick of continually dropping its lid on tbe back of her neck, as if anxious to chop ofi her head. 'Oh I if only I knew some bad word that I could say with a good conscience,' mentally pj*«Ua^i-H MiftftMoTMngW»|^ngln'r'ol-t»ft»e-i fist at the offending object. It was a want she had long left, this of briefly expressing any sentiment of just anger or disgust, in a forcibly womanly manner. The Irish ex pletive ** Bother !' was good in its away, bat insufficient I strong Saxun she would no more have thought of u&ug than of wearing diul's clothes ; but a rightful relief of her angered soul, was she felt, one of tbe yet unfulfilled ' Don Edoardo ought to aee me bow with curvature of the Bpiue, and a broken neck — or pretty nearly,' his proxy wife commented, siauding at last upright, and roefolly stretch ing her arms high above her head. Then suddenly glancing at Anita's new trunk stand* ing by, a gleam of pleasant cariosity tbot through its new owner's tired mind. '* It ta very late, and I ought to be in bed, batl mast just look,' she murmured to faeruelf, feeling ths-t in common fairness, after so miserable a day, she ought allow herself some recreation. Ihe key was in her pocket, on a bunch with several others belonging to the heavier luggage already in the ship's bold. Anita, in her character of bridesmaid, had ostentatiously pressed thiB apou the bride's attention in Mids Ward's presence, bidding ber not forget ber keya, aod i bis showed a premeditation. Nan now reflected, oa her friend's part, iu which she bad hitherto been loath to believe. Did Anita then really suppose her substi tute was married, and that sbe must deck out the unconscious victim for a life sacrifice with dne garlands and fillets? So it seemed. And this indeed was the case, for Mrs. Finn, as ehe may be now called, being fully de termined to go oat to Chili herself, was not one to stick at trifles ; for knowing Captain Goodman's character, she had a terrified con viction that thecommodore would carry ont bis contract, to deliver the bride to Don Edoardo real or false, giantess or dwarf, fair or mis Bbapen. ' Oh ! How lovely *' Ann drcv in her breath with delight, as, lifting layers after layers of tissue paper, she glanced at the treasures beneath. In choosing ber troas&eau Anita bad 1 uVly meani to indemnify herself for the wrong inflicted upon her by her father in yoking her for life to old Don Edoardo. Don Pedro MacTague was rich, and did not grudge his daughter an ample allowance while at school ; as to her wedding-finery she bad practically been given ?' carte blanche.' (This generosity need not be so ranch wondered at on ing to Ihe fact that ber clothes and her face were to be the young woman's fortune.) 'I do a thing handsomely,' bad said Don Pedro, or the tqmvant of that speech in Spanish. 'Bnt as Don Edoardo is not tbe man to stand out for setting money with hia bride, why, it would be a pity to waste it on him, that's all ; and Anita's younger eUters may uot find such easy-going hnjbands,' So tbe evening dresses came from tbe Bue de la Paiz, in Paris, and the morning ones {rob

Bond-street, and— and the only wonder was Anita bad not mo away with the whole lot herself. Truly she moat have been very much in love with Weelie, or— or ebe— horrid thought ! she knew the price was none too great to p&y (or freedom and happiness, for \ .deliverance from a dreadful existence with an j aged monster of iniquity. For thus iu an excited mood, on Ann's return from Haye's Hall, Anita had painted ber then supposed future husband in *'Tt*pntttj'-n- ' Bat I am not really married to him ? J can't be ; and I won't be ; and there's an end of it !' With which declaration Ann somehow put off ber clothes and fell into bed, for if she had stayed any longer she must have fallen asleep standing or sitting, oat of pare weariness of mind and body. But a faint smile like moon light unto sunlight compared with her usually hevnmg one, lay on the sleeper's lips. For the troth was *'hi*n even in ber deep misery Nan was almost reconciled to the sentence of ber exile by the wedding garments of sheeny silks, the old rose, and ivory hues and silver and gold textures, on which her eyes had rested. She liked preening herself as much as any bird does in spring time, and all the school allowed that she wore her clothes better, that is, with a superior air and style, to any of the other girls. 'How do you manage it?' asked Molly Hayes once, in despairing admiration, who had a figure 'like two fiat wooden boards back and front,' so Anita, the plamp, dis paragingly used to remark. *' I can't tell,' Nan had replied with simplicity, trying to think, for she wan really always willing and anxious to help everyone to look as nice as possible. ' First of all I take all the pain* I possibly *-*n and then I don't think any more about myself.' 'Ah ! That's it,' murmured Molly under her breath, conscious that she herself did precisely the contrary. It was this gift of not thinking about her self which mad Ann so popular. If any girl said to her, ' What a pretty ribbon you have got,' 'How well that bunch of flower* looks in your button-hole,** ftnn would say 'Do faave it,' and insist on adorning the other with a truthful gladness that 'now her friend would look just as nice. Which the latter 6eldom or never did.'