Chapter 70631753

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Chapter NumberIII.-(Continued).
Chapter Title
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article70631753
Full Date1896-06-27
Page Number8
Corrections0
Word Count2558
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleThe Capricornian (Rockhampton, Qld. : 1875 - 1929)
Trove TitleHalf Round the World to Find a Husband. A Comedy of Errors
article text

Chapter 1IL — {Continued).

?? Why did yon play as this trick r repeated Captain Goodman, *' Indeed, indeed, it was. Anita !' and to her own shame and the captain's dismay Ann ?broke down io a storm of sobbing. It needed ?come minutes, a glass of water, and pitying

jiattings on her shoulder by the captain, ?before the false bride coold stammer forth the whole tale, which she gave without the least gloss or attempt &t concealment. For a few moments (they seemed hoars to Kan) Captain Goodman sat and considered. Then he burst oat into one of the joltiest injections laugh* that ever rang through a room, echoing from the ceiling and four walls. ** What » handful of a. girL My old friend Xdoardo has a tacky escape. .... But bless my soul ! What about yon, my poor child ? . . . Now see here, the passage is paid, and yoox heavy luggage, or hers, or whoever's yon like to call it, is on board by thiB time* and— well, I bare promised to bring yon oat, or her out, or whoever on earth was married by proxy, st all events. I am fairly mixed, that is certain ; and the parser wants me, and the ?directors are coming on board immediately, .and I most be there to receive them. My -dear girl, the long and short of the matter is itbis— yon had better sail with me, to-morrow, taad there will be lota of time on board to talk. tthe matter orer. Don Edaardo has a right to be considered, most of aU, and ought to hear the story from yoor own lips. Yes, yes ! No ?ionbt he will be jolly glad to be rid of the little soinx, snd I will stand by you and bring yon back to England safely. That I promise — if yoo. want to come.' Captain Goodman's eyes twinkled like Anita's. He plainly thought it was a capital opening for a pretty hat impecunious nuiHin. Nan felt like a straw drifting down a stream; bat made a last effort to cling to shore. [Patting on her hat and jacket she hurried to -«&tch. a trail] which she knew would be start ing in half an hoar, and look a ticket for the tcoutry station nearest to her aunt's home, some twenty miles distant. Theee she got out, and prepared to walk ?Img the road that she had so often triad with reliicraDt«tcpft from childhood. It was depresauigly ugly, and led to a gloomy tea&uldy of a cottage, set in a damp vegetable gacden beside the road. Already is her mind's eye Nan saw two aanesaway, and loathed this sparrow 'b nest 4b* jnore as her hastening footsteps ap tprottdbed. Tev% it ffu more a homing instinct like tHutt-of a pigeon or cat, rather than a result of hfcc seasoning faculties, which now made Ann Montague fctften as if for ref age to her aunt's house. All the way down in the train, and now when plodding along through the mud the frightened girL eaald not rightly te said to think. Her brain was too tired with its use less efforts ail through the hours of the past night ; and like a jaded horse, could hardlv be Hugged by the will to any fresh effort. ' And if I thought for a week, it would be no good,' said Aon alond to the black wintry hedges on either hand. No good because she felt herself like a feather, blown a boot by winds from every ?quarter ; by Anita's caprice and selfishness ; ?by the captain's advice. la this plight Ann Montague imagined herself, as others have .deme before her, the sport and plaything of the hlind goddess of fortune. Again, if it ?were true that one's life was really mapped by -destiny, could she alter hers ? She could only .strive to know whether Providence, or was it fate she ought to say, really did mean her to -vralk in & certain road ; if so, ahe must submit. Sate might show its meaning by closing the gates U- all other paths. Now, bow to put the utMtion of this mysterious power to the teat* ' I will see if Aunt Barbara wants me to stay,** repeated Ana to herself. 'She is my only living relation, and has a right to my devotion. Poor lonely soul, if she died in my absence, with ne «ne to naree her, or see her buried ! Yes, whatever Captain Goodman may say, I will not go abroad if she winhes me to stay and tike care of her.' {It moat be confessed that, taking care of Aunt Barbara through that lady's life was even a more ap palling prospect than the former one of Beeiag her decently buried. But Ana would have irecoQed with righteous horror had anyone told her this was how ehe inwardly felt.) Ann Montague w&a a deceptive young -woman as to her face, which led one to believe tier resolute ; while her large, weU-dereJoped jfigure and already fine presence at first sight impressed bystanders into awaiting quite

respectfully her least utterance, as one of weight. Whereas, in truth, several of her school-mates, like chattering sparows around % yoang dove, knew much more of the world and of their own small minds and little wants. Gentle by nature, she had not yet learnt to decide for herself, and was still appalled at the thought of doing so. At thin moment Ann was like a child just released from leading strings, from whom its caretakers have ail withdrawn, leaving it to try and run alone. Unable to see any friendly outstretched finger towards which to rush, she wanted to stand still, feeling a unit in the middle of the round world. Hitherto she had always been ready to follow the comm&admentB of those who were set over her. ?? It is my duty to obey Aunt Barbara ; it is right to do one's duty ; £ will do what is right,' murmured Nannie, as sbe walked on, feeling overwhelmed. Now the house came in sight, looking even smaller and even more unlovely than its former inmate reuiembered it. Unlatching the garden gate. Nan knocked at the door, not feeling enough at home to walk straight iu. ?' Oh, it's you, Miss Ann, is itt' waa-the greeting of Che ancient maid -of -all work, who hfrd known Nan from childhood, bat had never been known to give her or anyone else a smile or kindly word. '* Your a unt is in her bedroom. She is not ill, bat she has got a cold. Well, I need not show you upstairs, I suppose. I've got some thing else to do, and plenty of it,' with which Mary Anae disappeared into the kitchen, banging the door behind her. Knocking at her Anot*d door, Ann found the latter looking np with an alert air, having overheard the late conversation. Aunt Barbara was sitting on one side of & small fire, with a shawl over her shoalders, and a rug across her knees. She was not so much austere in face, as that she had a nipped appearance. All the kindly emotions she might have felt in youth had been frost-bitten one might say. Now she held op a wanung forefinger. ** £ am reading my coming psalms, so £ can't be interrupted to speak to yon till thej are finished,' was the only greeting which passed her lips, as Ann kissed her relative's impassive cheek. So for some minutes the girl sat still on the edge of a bedroom chair. It was fairly maddening ! The train— the only rnin to Liverpool would be gone within an hour aod a quarter, and, with panting breath, Ami reckoned that it would take her over half-au-faoar to walk back to the station. Surely Aunt Barbara might see that there was something out of the common aini*^ 1 It could cot be sinful to finish her psalms later, and listen now to the appeal for advice and help, to the eager words that were crowding to her niece's lips. ' £ believe she is reading slower on par pose,' Nan almost cried to herself, watching Aunt Barbara's lips making soundless words, and tbe old lady's dall eyes travelling from right to left of the printed page with deliberate slowness. The room was very cold, and Nan's feet were colder ; by the time the reader had finished the girl's heart was the coldest of the three. At last the book closed with a snap, and Aunt Barbara turned round. ' ** £ am ratting in ray bedroom because I have a cold, and needed a fire to dress myself by. So, as two fires are a waste, I would not have the sitting-room one lighted,' were her first words. It flashed across Nan's mind that were ahe staying in the house, no fire would be her portion on this winter's day, ** I never expected yon till to-morrow. I understood you were going to pay a visit to your Chilian friend in Liverpool,' went on Aunt Barbara, in an even voice, raising her head deprecatingly, as Nan strove to interpose an explanation. ' Well, all £ have to Bay is that now yon are coming to live with me you must go up stairs into Mary Ann's old attic, as sbe is very pat ont at having another person ie the boose to wait upon ; bo to pacify her I have promised her the spare room opposite this, which yon used to have u a child— but that was only for a short time daring holidays. I can't afford to part with Mary Ann.' This last was said with marked asperity. 11 No, no ! Of coarse yoa can't, Aunt Barbara. No one coold expect it. I am sare I would not,' stammered Nan, trying to langh while feeling much inclined to cry. ' Bat perhaps yon can afford to part with me?' ' What do yon mean, Ann ? Have you got a place as governess, or any other situation ? Do not keep me waiting. I hate these ecbool girl ways of making mysteries and coming suddenly at inconvenient seasons.' ' I beg your pardon. Aunt Barbara, indeed ; bat I am asked to go to Sooth America by my friend Anita MacTagoe, to stay with her friends ; and the ship sails to-morrow ; and my train to Liverpool goes in three-quarters of an hoar from the station here. So I have run dow n to ask if you will allow me to go to Chili.' *' What on earth do they want with yon oot there ? How long .shall yon stay ?' rapped oat tbe old lady, without the least sign of disappointment or BurprUe on ber expression less visage. ' I c\n't say how long I may be expected tu stay. . . . Anita says I am sure to get m — married,' blnrted out Nan, red as a rose. ?? H'm ! Well, I think you bad better go. Yes, I should certainly advise you to go by all means, and stay as long as you can.' ' Mary Ann *' Mies Montague rapped the floor with the poker, and the kitchen being underneath, her domestic presently appeared, having ap parently toiled up the short staircase. ' Mary Ann, Miss Ann Montague is not coming to stay to-day. She is oot coming back here at all — at least for a long time.' ?? That'a good news anyway, 'muttered the vinegar faced old woman, who stood in the half open door, wiping her hands.

' Miss Ann must go back to catch the next train ; £t would not do for her to mias it,' went on the old lady with uu usual briskness in her voice, 'so yoa might leave her in the dining-room what was left of the rabbit I had yesterday for dinner.' 'There's none left- I had it foe sapper myself. There is only your dinner cooking, and it is not cooked yet- Sbe can have noine bread and cheese, and there is some cold 'Mary Ann might heat it, and make a rasher and eggs, only ehe is socross,' muttered A«.nt Barbara, showing slight vexation as her domestic's retreating footsteps sounded down the stairs, with the flap, flap, of a shoe down at heel. Then louder, 'lam eorry yoa will fare badly Ann, but I can't help it. In olden days, before yoar father lost his fortune and my little money Dearly all went in tbe same crash. I would have given you a better Inncb. Well, well I I am not blaming him. poor man. Perhaps it was ordered by Pro vidence.' Now, Nan's father had been a very rich man till within a few weeks of his death, brought about by a broken heart at the sudden business reverses which overwhelmed him. Till sbe was twelve years old Nan's own re collection were those of a luxurious house, of fine rooms and fine frocks ; of many servants, carriages and horses. With tbe elasticity of yontb, the girl did not so much regret her own reverses, except when Aunt Barbara harped upon the subject declaring that ahe did not blame her bro.htr, but still *' She knows it was not his fault,' resented tbe dead nun's daughter hotly in ber heart. ** Aunt Barbara's money was made out of the business, as bis was; why should she not suffer in its downfall as he did ? After all she enjoyed being rich for over fifty years, which is a longer good time to look back on than I In making this reflection. Nan quite forgot that she herself had a future to look forward to, with all its bright possibilities. She only foresawherBelfasgrowingold joyously, passing dall patient years in the cottage attic and the sitting-room, that only possessed one armchair — her aunt's. And even now this poor haven of a borne was denied the orphan. Sue felt 'nerstdf driven forth as one alone in a boat, her face set to the wide ocean. ' You are sore you do not want me to stay; a pathetic wistfulneas of gaze, lost upon her aunt, who was taking up the stitches in her knitting. 'Certainly not,' returned the latter. ' I am not used to having visitors in the house, you know ; indeed, it rather pat me our, and Mary Ann too.*' With whi.th farewell in ber ears, Ann walked once more back along the flat straight road to the train. She was crying a little, and by wayVif making her feel more miserable, a shower mingled its drops with the February wind now blowing over the open land. Abo had never felt more desolate and orphaned in her life. Tbe world seemed aU rain, and wind, and winter cold around her now and in the future. '* I duu't much care what happens me, and nobody else cares, that's certain, 'sbe thought to herself, not bitterly, bat as a sad fact that bad cot to be endured, and so, like one pushed forward by Fate, Nan returned to her hotel at HverpooL