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Full Date1896-09-26
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Word Count4582
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Newspaper TitleThe Capricornian (Rockhampton, Qld. : 1875 - 1929)
Trove TitleHalf Round the World to Find a Husband. A Comedy of Errors
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Stabs mi ^hflfhrs.

Half Round the World to Find a Husband. A COMEDY OF ERRORS.

By MAT CROMMELIN, Author of ' Bay Ronald,' '* A Jewel of a Girl,' ' Gob\in Gold,' ?? Dead Men's Dollars,' ' Mr. and Mrs. Berries,' &c


As it ia a rule for all mail steamers to stop three days at Callao, and the exception when any passengers do not avail themselves of the holiday on shore,. Ann knew that her absence would provoke no comment, while her stay would have been voted a nuisance by the cook and stewards. It is true she was under the captain's charge ; but later on, she would exnlain matters. Meantime, as she rowed

ashore, she was surprised at the squalid landing to which Bryan ordered the negro Chinese boatman to take them, the latter offering objections oddly enough. Stumbling over uneven ground, throngh a low quarter, they picked their steps by a back way towards the train. Here in the Custom House shed, Bryan left his charge seated on a dirty wooden bench among storing officials, while he went to make inquiries concerning the train to town. Minutes passed, ten, fifteen, twenty, and as the damp drizzle still fell outside, while barefooted, ragged specimens of the seashore population, came in to keep themselves dry, and to gape, Ann once more began to feel extremely uncomfort able, not to say wretched. Whin t That was a tain, bnt coming in from Lima, not going oat ; so the official ex plained, with courteous reerets that the lady should be forced to wait in so disgraceful an ?bode for such beauty. He was too courteous by far, and once more indignation made Ann's heart hot. Next minute a troop of train passengers poured in. '* Dearie, is this you ? What are yon wait ing for?' This from Mrs. Murphy, who, with all the energy died oat of her gait, waddled in, mopping herself limply with a handkerchief. Behind her the two children dragged each other on a hand of their none, *? HeV not here ; I have made all inquiries ; so we are going back to the ship and on to Panama,' volunteered the weary wife. Two voices ioterrupted her, reclaiming in astonishment, MIsit possible?' and ?'Here ve are again, by all that'B lovely.' The speakers were Lord Thanet and Billy Wood. 'I am so gtad to see you both.' Next minute Ana was shaking their hands, between laughing and crying, again and again ; while eager congratulations on their own lock in thus meeting, were showered upon her. *' Which of them is it, dearie ? Do tell me? I am just dying to know,' whispered Mrs. Murphy, nudging her fellow-passenger. ' Be looks a jolly fellow,' nodding in Billy's direction. ' Bat, my ! the other does some thing resemble the one down at Valparaiso ! What ! not either of these two?' in disappoint ment. Well, yon will show him to me later, promise now won't you?' and Ann eagerly promised not once but twice, delighted to get rid of her importunate confidante, who re luctantly disappeared, looking over her shoulder as long as she could. ' Yes I'm here. My visit to Chili is over, nod, I am sorry, very sorry? They were dear people all ; bnt I was obliged to tear myself away,' went on Aim in the sadden excitement of her sudden gladness. 'I heard yon were in Lima from Mr. Bryan, who came on board to meet me ; and he says we are all going to Panama together, by the Coya, next week.' 11 What ! He knew you were arriving to day, and never told us ! What a beastly shame V came from Billy Wood. ' We saw him yesterday, and be never said a word about iL' ** There most be some mistake. No, I told Mr. Bryan quite distinctly, I thought, that ?we were going by the next English steamer. The Coys, is a Chilian one,' said Lord Thanet, in more reserved accents ; then diplomatically uttering deep regrets for the mistake, be proceeded to inquire into the circumstances. ** Wfcere do yon propose to stay ? You ha.?e fnemi* 4ere, no doubt, or letters of introduc tion tnm Valparaiso. ' No. [ bravght none. You see, I thought of going *Wighfr on to Jamaica until Mr. Bryan ff^w an board this morning. He B&id lie has business — ^~Wf t yon were both coming ilater — and it did *eem a pity to miss seeing something of Per*,*' {altered Ann, feeling -OTxscioas that she wasfolBsfaing, and blushing the hotter because she blasted. ' He rays 1 can pat Dp at the Southern Gross HoteL' ' What '. £h !n The two men looked at each other with what, had Nan kcown it, was secret consternation. ' Yoa can't go there,' blurted oat Billy, in his candid way. *' Perhaps Mr. Bryan does not know the Southern Cross very well. He has been stay ing himself, throughout his visit, with young fellows, who make up what is called a bachelors* mess,' volunteered Lord Thanet, in a bland, bat markedly cool tone. ' Bat I nr.denstood be knew it quite well, that the landlady was French, and very agreeable. Indeed, he said so. Why, isn't it ell right ? Oh, do tell me !' broke oat poor Nan, staring from one to the other of the two - men's civilly impassive faces. ' Please advise . me, Lord Thanet. I told him, Mr. Bryan, I . could only stay because yoa and Mr. Wood were here — that made it seem, proper. He tknew I was going to ask yoar advice.' ' In that case let me accept the responei 'bility with pleasure,' answered Thanet, briskly. 'In the first place we are dead

against the hotel ; and next, perhaps the best plan, will be to take counsel of Mrs. Grey, that lady you see waiting over there. We are going to lunch at her house.' So saying he approached a pleasant-looking young Englishwoman who was watching the interview with smiling cariosity. A few minutes of talk passed between them, then ehe eagerly came up to toe stranger, and, on Tnanet's introduction, invited Aon to be her guest. 'Indeed, yoa will find it lonely, besides being disagreeable, for a young lady alone to stay at the hotel. Miss Montague. And I pm askin-ip you, not only on your account, but 'oar own. It is a real pleasure oat here to meet someone from home ; and it is more than a sufficient introduction that we have both each pleasant mutual friends as Lord Thanet and Mr. Wood.' Ann. could make bat a faint disclaimer. The famous hospitality of the West Coast would be disgraced by refusal, she was assured. Both her men friends begged her, in eager murmurs, to accept. So in a few minutes all was settled, and only each details as the disposal of her loficage were still being dis cussed, when Bryan, hot and harried as a bomb-shell, bunt into the middle of the little ' It's all right Here I am at last Hallo ? ' He stopped short ; vexation, almost dismay, written on his face. '* Tableau 1' murmured Thanet to himself. '* Hallo ! you're a nice fellow, leaving a lovely young lady alone in a howling desert like this,' jeered Billy Wood. fWe have cut yoa out Mrs. Grey has carried off the distressed damsel, while you were * stravagu ing* round Peru this last- half-hour for sport Ho I ho ! Look how black he is.' It was true. 'I have nude all yoar arrangements — ' began Bryan, turning to Ann, after a very deep bow to Mrs. Grey, whom he only knew by bight. The latter interfered, seeing a storm brewing, with a quick tact and sweet ip*ttnpr. which called forth Ann's gratitude at once, and smoothed Bryan's lowering brow. It was delightful to have been on the spot, and secured «o charminc* a guest*. Her husband knew Mr. Bryan, she believed, and they would be happy to see him at their little place. Only a small rancbo, or she would be glad to pat him ap also ; bat then, of course, he was one of the Bachelor's Mess, Would be come *nd dine with them to-night ? He must come often, and visit Miss Montague. The ground was cut from under Bryan's feet. He had been secretly vexed cot to know Mrs. Grey hitherto, for she was con sidered the leader of the small English society ia Lima. What between her flattery, the dis approving looks at himself of his man friends, and Ann's ?fdi^gr face, be could only stammer and give way. That afternoon saw Ann established in one of the prettiest villas of & pretty suburb of Pizarro's city. Once more she said to herself, ' What a lacky girl lam!' And besides Lord Thanet and Billy Wood came Bryan also to dinner ; well dressed this time, for his black suit bad known little ose in ihe wilds. He looked more like his old handsome self again, thought Ann, with re turning aariaiaction ; or was she growing used to his appearance ? That evening there was no time for any private talk between the en gaged young people. Only Bryan murmured as he left, ** I 8^**^1 come and see yoa to Next day he came ; and Mrs. Grey finding tactfully that the Chinese cook required her supervision in his garden-kitchen left the yoong people alone together. Afterwards Ann had a bewildered feeling that a sodden skirmish of words with her betrothed waxed to a mighty battle. It was all very well staying with Mrs. Grey till the Coya Bailed, but Bryan urged impassionately that Ann should then leave Peru with him. To this she answered with all the objections gleaned from both Lord and the --reys. The Coya was an inferior vessel ; the weather would be cooler northward, the longer they delayed ; her hostess wished her to see some thing of Pern and its life ; besides Lord Thanet, ' Oh, Thanet ! always Lord Thanet who comes between of,' buret oat Bryan, from between bis eet teeth. Somehow, in what wordB Ann did not try afterwards to remember she found him accus ing her of wishing to ' catch the coronet,' as he expressed it. At that Ann's indignation flashed into flame ; Ehe was angry, furious, at so false ftod mean an accusation. As ber wrath kindled, Bryan's felL ' There, there ! Murder and tarf, as the Irish say, yoa have a fine eptrit of your own,' Bflid he, good-hn mo u redly. ** Bat how pleudid you look when yoa are in a passion ; a man would risk his soul for such a girl. I beliere yoa would rather have me than Thanet, for all his title. Come ! kiss and be friends and say you will come on the Coya with me.'* Hut Aon was inexorable ; she would do neither. At last Bryan gave in, thinking ha'f a loaf better than no bread. He agreed that all the party should travel together. But Ann, also, must meet him half-way, by a kiss now, which she did, with anxious eyes watching the veraodab, ears strained, and a shamed relief when his hot embrace was over. ' Please not again,' ehe urged* striving to free ber bands. ' They don't know that we are engaged, dear ; what would they think ?' ** Look here !' ?Bryan stood still, but held | ber hands fast ' Promise me one thing. Don't mention it to any of your friends here. Thanet and Wood are pood fellows enough. I am not jealous, dnckie, bnt men don't Uke to have their private affairs discussed by other chaps, yoa see ; promise me,' And be was so Chapter XXIX.— os Tire Tpack of the Pirates. So once more Ann Montague and the Brotherhood found themselves on shipboard together.

It was still drizzling as the shores of Peru receded. 'Not raining; no, it never rams here, were almost Mrs. Grey's last words, waving* cordial farewell to her guest, for it is & pro verb in Peru that no rain tills, nor »xe um brellas needed, however wetting the mist and mnddy the pavement In spite of its wintry donds, oar travellers yet took away sheaves of pleasing memories from the Land of the Son ; of warm hospi tality from strangers, of happy rides on pacing ponies thiongh. leagues of sog&rcane fields, of Spanish chnrches in the town and Inca moonds in the brown conn try. So the lowland faded, and five bells rang for dinner ' Just Uke oar old trip out to Monte Video, except for Mrs. Bellamy,' remarked Billy Wood, genially. Not quite the same, thought Ann, for her rosy visions had vanished in the sober light of day. Nevertheless, but for that disillusion ising first impression at Galloa, it mast be said that Bryan was as pleasant on land as of old, eren rollicking gay. He had won the Grey's liking, re-established his old intimacy with BDly Wood, and done his best to recover lost ground in Ann's esteem. Oa board ship he was morose for a day or eo, grumbling aside to Ann that it was jost as he expected. 'With those other fellows always about, there ia no chance of having a- cosy little chat to ourselves.' Bat she was patient, and soon rewarded by his increased good humour and better manners. In truth Bryan was flattered that the girl, whose beauty was a matter of daflr admiring comment', should choose him openly as her appointed sqoire, Ann sat beside the Captain, bat Bryan sat on ber other side, JTiw chair was beside ber'a on deck as amatter of right. Ann talked to him most, leaving the rest in order to walk with him, saying to herself, ' It is best to do eo ? it is So the trip north promised pleasantly, and its monotony was broken by some varied if small incidents. The first evening came a joke at dinner-time when Billy Wood called for a wine-list. The Chilian stewards put their heads together, evidently disconcerted. Then one came forward, explaining in bland dejection. ' Very sorry, sir, bat we can not find wine-list, and he most be loast. There is one other bat him is rtickia' on de wall and is fast. Bat de barkeeper say he will make one ready in an hoar.' One morning Billy Wood knocked at Ann's cabin door, calling ont, 'There are some whales knocking abont, I thought you might like to see them. Harry up !' Ann flew on deck, and there fonud the captain waiting on the bridge with, the offer of his glasses. '* There's a real picture got op for your express benefit, Miss Montague, See the whaling vessel vooder and her two boats out. The far one has harpooned Us whale ; watch it blowing ! There it goes !' And far over the little waves could just be described a dark speck rising and falling on the Pacific swell. That was the boat holding Borne six human beings, whose lives might be dashed out of them any moment. Near it a white mass of foam was rising from the water — there was a whale. Here, there, everywhere, indeed, over the sea rose more foam sports ; a whole school of whales waa about. Eo our passengers watched till the speck faded oat of their sight, though die schooner's manoeuvres plainly showed she was following her boat like a hen some daring chick. Another day Ann, gazing idly overboard, saw a dark mass appear a moment in the witter close by. ' It was a swordfish,' said the sailors, as the eager passengers crowded to ehare the eight. One such will brighten the calm — or, to some folks' minds, the monotony of a long afternoon on the Pacific. Then next a turtle wocld come floating by fast asleep ; showing a beantifal chestnut brown shell, jast under the almost olive green water. Again there were devil fiah to be seen and water snakes ; besides islands where the old pirates used te land and bury their treijsnre. .Let us name one great mau among them, in a fresh breath, for he was Francis Drake. Ann loved to talk of such old English sea heroes as he, who passed up and down this very coast, watching for the Spanish galleons. She and Thanet were never weary of discass iog Pizarra, and the Iucas, besides Amvat Lee and his merry men who sailed Westward Ho ; while the captain contributed legends of And Bryan would chime ia with blood curdling tales of Jamaican pirates, some English, to their shatnc be it said, who made Port Royal an earthly hell, till itn famous earthquake engulfed them and the town under the seemingly quiet waters of the Lagoon, one hot summer's day. So all went well till the vessel reached pretty Guayaquil, pawing up its long river fringed with palms, where the alligators lay like dead logB aloug the banks, while at night the fireflies lit up the ship's cabins. It was a hot morning, as it should be seeing that the name of Ecuador signifies the position of the country crossed by the At breakfast time delicious fruits appeared oa the table, causing sntne merriment ; for as Aon, eyeing some water melon which Bryan and Billy Wood greedily wished to transfer to their own pUtee anri persona, accepted a gener ous offer of a big slice from her affianced, the sepulchral voice of the horrified steward uttered this dreadful warning in Peruvian English : ' When she h ia the stomach ehe turns to vinegar !' But at last the captain I persuaded his pet prssenger to indulge in half I of the nost delicious palta or alligator pear, I which ever grew ; as melting as cream cheese, and unaproach&ble in nutlike flavour. ' What a perfect day in the tropics !' our friends exclained, as they strolled up on deck, where it was hot, but with a fresh brwze blowing ; the son bazing traely, bat not blinding. Then a fat and fair haired German woman, the wife of % commercial traveller, called

eagerly to Nan and Bryan, as they leant apart over the railing ?'Come here, quick, quick ! There is one sach carious eight. She led diem to the other side of the ship, where two men who seemed earring in mahogany, naked to their waists, were pushing a flat-bottomed boat to die main-hatch, «rith six fat bullocks three on either side, tied op haadfi and tails to poles projecting from the fraO craft. The poor beasts looked misenbly frifihtened, their Eg bodies seemed painfully inflated as they lay broadside on the water, every now and then giving a naeles, convulsive heave. *? What a cruel Bight 1 I*t us come away, arced Ann, laying her band on Bryans sleeve, ' If thay ase going to be bauld on board by their horns, fastened to the winch, I hate seeing ' They wont euffer.any the less because one looks, pigged Frau Schmidt, giving Bryan a paleulne glanDb, in which danced a little devil of naughtiness. 'Dont go away, Meester Bryan. I like to watch what happens so canyon. Ha, ha ! Yes, well stay. You are too squeamish, laughed Patrick loudly looking from the Teutonic charmer to Ann, But he only saw that yooug woman vanishing back as she mounted to die upper deck, carelesfis of his indifference, and merely indignant because of the sufferings of the bomb bruitea. A little later, Bryan found her soothed, and delicately sniffing tiie fragrance of ao unknown tropical fruit, which Thanet had jast bought from some Indian natives. ' Yoa are coming ashore JUtb me and the Schmidts I have just settled it with tbera. Well be a nice little party of four. 'IBat we have already promised to go on shore with the others ; with Lord Thanet and Mr. Wood,' expostulated Ann, in rising vexa ation. 'I hardly know the Schmidts. I don't care to talk with them.' For in the twinkling ot her mind's-eye, she foresaw the German traveller trotting by her aide, with his black bag fall' of samples for the shops ; whilst his spouse and the fickle Patrick dallied behind. An altercation ensued, Patrick being -obstinate, having just been twitted teasingly by Fran Schmidt con cerning Ann and his supposed rivals. Bat bis Udy love stood firm, expecting, it mast be owned, that be would give away. To her surprise the hot-headed Jamaican whisked off in high dungeon, and ten minutes later she saw bun rowed ashore with the Schmidt couple, the little woman evidently in high glee over her victory. Miss Montague bit her lip, and it was with stately step that she entered the captain's gig, and was escorted on shore by himself, and the two still faithful brothers. It was hot here, 'hong oat on the line,' as Billy Wood remarked. And what a busy thriving little town this was ; the most bustling of any seaport on the coast. The Guayaquil ' monkeys,' £s they are called, are truly a lively, dapper, little race. Mistress Ann was pleased to announce her appreciation of them. So oar party wandered nnder shady arcades, and bought carved Indian figures, and hollow iTory-nots, full of pretty minia ture toys. They admired some gorgeous Indian gala costumes of parrot's feathers ; so rich in shades of reds and y ellowx, one thought of Ayacanora'fl leather dress, ooee more re calling Westward, Ho 1 Billy yearned to buy the bead gear, and wear it in Hyde Park on a Sunday, for it was & real top hat in. shape, he declared, only made of brightest plnmage,' with a fringe of lovely hamming birds A. from the brim. The rest of the attire, it may be added, consisted mainly x& necklaces of monkeys' teeth and parrots' beaks : besides a square apron quite fit for the Garden of Eden. But Ann refused to see the greatest curiosity of all, shown the others with secrecy was a dried humane head, the Bize of an orange, with its features easy recognisable to any friend of the family. The tribes in the interior thus preserved their enemies* heads — some say those of their mothers-in-law — by some process of extracting the bones. So wandering farther by gaiir coloured rfaree Btoreyed houses, mimicking marble palaces, and wood-paved shaded 'portales' with glimpses of richly wooded country at the street ends, oar friends stopped by a small restaurant. Two men were showing off a young jaguar cab there, & pretty little beast, no bigger than a tiger cat. Just round the house corner were set benches and tables. The sightseers strolled oo a few steps and they cune fn'.l upon Bryan and Frau Schmidt, seated there drinking beer. l)id Ann dream that his arm was suddenly with drawn from being locked in that cf his neighbour. Certainly if so Billy Wood knew it, for be was ahead, and had given what might or might not, have been a warning ' ffillo !' But Ann was too proud, of course, to ask him, which was jnst as well considering that he wo old certainly not have told her. * For a minute the situation was disagreeable. Ana shivered, and drew into herself ; bat Bryan's bronzed skin took a redder tinge, as he welcomed them boisterously. The German Jexebel, as Ann mentally termed the creature in scorn, drained her glass with an impudent innocence of air. Both culptito invited the ^uiet tones Ann excused herself, and celled onward**, as the captain expressed it. like a brig under fall canvas, convoyed by her escorts three. Returning towards the vessel, hey passed Herr Schmidt three streets away, with his bUck bag wide open, busily inviting orders for his wares from a fat shopkeeper. It was late whea these three individuals re turned to the vessel ; so late that tbe captain waa n-orth, for he was eren obliged to sound the steam whistle to recall them wishing to go down the river by daylight. As they got under way, Aim iound herself seated on deck alone with Lord ThaneL Rnd presently, as the swift tropical gloom settled down, blotting out the low shores of the widening river, theee two glided into confidential talk. She

knew not how it came about ; perhaps he ' The man was saying. 'Do yon mind telling me if yon think of going straight home, or do you propose staying in Janudca f ' 'Ifaopetoataya while, to see how things turn out. Maybe there will be some opening for me then,' said the girl'e voice, wearily, knowing it was a lame reply; bnt abe could give none better. ' As a governess ! Surely it was not to be one in Jamaica that you left your pleasant post in Chili?*1 ** No, no ! Please don't ask. I would tell you in a moment ; indeed, I should like to consult you. Bnt— bat I have promised ? ' 'Child, take care.' Thanet'a voice sounded more than earnest, alarmed, in the gathering darkness. '* I should tremble to see a sister of mine wandering alone through the world as yon are doing. Innocence, purity, are a defence yet, asin the days of Uno, bat they can not be reckoned on as a safeguard, when joined to inexperience of the world; to ignorance of iu dangers.'' ' What can I do? Most one not always keep one's word f* (Ann voice sounded as if its owner were on the verge of weeping. ) ' Not if that promise is wrongly extorted ; not if it bongs tumble to one's self; sorrow to friends, k May I speak frankly as yonr friend, Miss Montague ? Ton are plainly under ad engagement of marriage to Mr. Bryan. Nay ! I 4o not wish to presume for a moment to force yoor confidence : but that is the prevail ing impression made npon the minds of yonr fellow passengers. Why such an engagement fchould tie secret seems strange to those friends, like myself who take a troe interest in yon.' An embarrassed silence followed. 'Then Ann spoke email and parrot'like. 'Men do not like their private affairs discussed by strangers do they r? 'Men are not all of one type. I ehoold not endnre the least donbt of the honour of my motives to exist in die minds of onlookers,' said Thinet low bnt firmly. Ann was aghast at what his words implied. ' Promiee me this,' he went on eagerly, ?* that you wfll allow both Billy Wood ami myself to watch over yon like brothers ; that we may see yon either, I hope* happily married or else pot you on board ship for England.' And Aon promised. There was no more to be said; and then as Bryan's tall figure loomed blackly against the background of darkness, the girl rose, and glided down to her cabin for the night. To be eoT&baKd.