|Chapter Number||XII. (Continued.)|
|Newspaper Title||The Capricornian (Rockhampton, Qld. : 1875 - 1929)|
|Trove Title||Half Round the World to Find a Husband. A Comedy of Errors|
iatos and f feetcfces.
Half Bound the World to Find a Husband. A COMEDY OF ERRORS.
By MAV CKOMUeUN. Author of ' Bay Ronald,' 'A Jewel of a ? Girl,' ?? Goblin Gold,' ' Dead Men's Dollars,' ' Mr. and Mrs, Berries, 'to.
(COFYBIGHT.) Chatik XLL (Cmtiwud.)
But Ann's laugh broke off short, like a suddenly arrested mountain thread of falling water. The rest looked in mrpriac at her parted lips and eyes turned to the drawing rootn window. Inside it by the curtain, a man was gazing at her with an expression of
«neh intense grave surprise, that she felt transfixed, and suddenly all her mirth changed to shyness. Captain Goodman was behind the stranger in the background, having just arrived for dinner, and his lips were (juried in a s&X nt whistle. 'Ah, Bex; there yon are,' said old Don Edoardo, with slight embarrassment. ' Miss Ann Montague, allow me to present yon my son, and now— may I take yon in to dinner?' During the social meal that followed, Ann still remained' slightly subdued, and found herself .testing furtrn- glances st the last comer. Once or twice the detected Don Bex looking likewise, when b -th instantly avoided «ach other's eyes quickly ; with some hnmfla tion on the girl's part, butchivalroos courtesy on that of toe man. For he guessed by sympathetic insight that his appearance made Ann suddenly realise that she Was a arranger thrust upon the family against her own will or thein ; an unexpected, uninvited visitor. ' The old Don's son ! Hoar astonished he was to see me laughing just now, and no wonder.' So thoughts flitte-1 through Ann's brain. ' Perhaps he disapproved of bo young a stepmother as Anita — be would. 1 hen he sees an F.ngH«h adventnreas in her place. That is what I most appear in all their eyes ; a sHly creature, who has no proper sense of her past wild conduct, nor of the present kindness of these good people in overlooking lay behaviour and receiving me into their hone' Bex, as everyone called hire, seemed a.gr-ve teamed, man, whose age might be' thirty- four. He an* fair-haired and grey-eyed, having Mb father's open brow, yet with hand somer features, being also taller and more symmetrical in buHou , 'Ann'cnuld not but notice u all talked and laughed together. Captain Goodman, who was an old friend of the family^ addressed the son of the boose. with a deference.diat was tfneonscioas, and a leaped for ' his' bptnibhs- 'openly 'expressed. The others did tie same ; even Pere Ceurdoux ?who after asking the old host some questions concerning Chilian finance, turned to the son, inviting his opinion as one of greater weight iTfHdin|r a slight aigument thst bad ?'***' Don Bex was not disposed to play Sir Oracle, however : be chaffed with Captain Goodman io a quiet bnmorous way, t»llring principally to him, althongh treating both tiie strangers with much politeness. Ann begsn wondering to herself how it was that he spoke ? nglub with such a pure accent and an ease that was almost languid, remind-, ing her presently of her friend, Lord ThaneU Then in surprise she woke np with the «onadonsnes8 that the tatter's name was mentioned bv the captain, and eagerly echoed by tbe son of the house. *? What 1 Thanet was a passenger of yours ? 'Way, we wete at Eum together,' said Rex with a sndden pleasure kindling bis hitherto somewhat impassive features. 'So he is travelling through the Argentine, you say. WhatarShis plans r* Captain Goodman explained that bis late passengers bad meant to sse some estancias, and take a hurried look at Paraguay prior to crossing the Cordilleras into Chili, if the snow should not have begun to falL In the latter case they would retract their steps, and probably go ronnd the Straits, only touching at Valparaiso on their voyage northwards to Panama. Don Rex seemed stirred by this news, and began discussing with great interest the 'l«tir« of a letter inviting his former school-fellow to muss soon and pay them a visit before the Cnmbre, or summit, was blocked They spoke of hill-passes, inns, towns with Spanish mrni^1, of mountain rail* ways and mule tracks, all of which was so much meaningless jargon as yet to Ann in her ignorance of the country. A diversion was ?created by the three children bursting in o tbe room in gleeful .excitement. 'Paps, papa !' they cried, rushing to Don ^ex and smothering him with kbses and caresses. 'What do you think? Gness! rhe cat has caught a partridge, and here she is, see. Come. Dinah ! Oh, she is bringing it straight to you.' Tme enough, through tbe open window the cat came, followed by her two kittens, re spectively christened Dynamite and Dynamo. She was dragging a partridge which she had caught napping in the myrtle scrub on the bill and now gravely la-d her prize at 'Don Rex's feet, plainly considering him her master, and purring as with a gentle touzb he stroked her arched back. ' Are these his children,' whispered Ann to Captain Goodman, her neighbour, in sudden surprise, looking at Gordita, who bad clambered on the knee of her '* Little Papa,' as her baby lips called hi«n, while Koala's sunny cnrls were pressed aeainst Don Rex's besd, and Antonio was exclaiming in voluble Spanish upon the merits of Dinah as a hnnt ing quadrnped. 'Uf course,' returned the Captain, in broad surprise. ' Why ! whose did yon think they were ; not old * doardo's, eh !' 'How should I know? He might have bad a daughter,' faltered Add, ashamed to confess her own stupidity.
' So he has, but she is only Istely married, and lives in the country. She is Don Edoardo's ?? Don Edoardo's sister ? Why ! voo said sh: was his daughter?' objected Ann, floundering deeper in bewilderment. 'Don Juan Edoardo's daughter. Both father and ton have the same name, but this one is always oiled Rex.' After dinner enffee was served outside, as they sat in tbe porch, under the clusters of purple and white flowered creepers. Suddenly Ann was slightly startled on finding herself addressed by Don Bex, who ires standing beside her in tbe shadow. ' Yoti were ridiculing my sex rather un mercifully when I came in this evening, were yon not ? Tour words reminded me of a hymn that my P-n^Hal, governess used to teach me when 1 was a little lad : ' Where every prospect pleases. And only man is vile.1 At that age I remember my. boyish mind rising in revolt against her assertion of feminine superiority. Now, see how one changes^ X did not dream of disputing your Ann felt rmbarrased, tongue tied: and could only Gnd some feeble words of repartee. Then she broke out witli undisguised surprise. 'Please tell me how it is that you speak Ifpgftfth so perfectly welL I understand now that your father was an Englishman born, bat I did not know voa were one, too.1* ' I am a Chilian — « Chilian to 'he marrow of my bones.' Don Rex h«d been standing coffee enp in hand, keeping] J aloof politely, as not wishing to engross the attention of the only girl in the party. Now he dropned on a chair, and hia eyes sought hers intently through the outdoor gloom. ' We are a young country ; a new people ; and y-u are so thoroughly tngliab that you will think less of me for what I have said. Ah ! Yon English are a great nation, bnt so prond that you would all prefer to be even among tbe meanest of yonr own countrymen than one of the first in a. foreign land.' ' Not that ; I am hardly so prejudiced. At least I hope that with travel my mind is enlarging a little,' returned Ann in a email voice of depredation, she was embarrassed with the * **iw* consciousness that ahe was dis appointed. Her companion bad guessed aright ; she woold have liked him better to be an Englishman. It was a relief that Dons lues rose just then at Captain Goodman'a mgent iniristjincp, and began to play the harp in the drawing-room. She was a fine musi cisn, and a iielifhtJul silence fell npon all her listeners till the last strains died away. Then new voices sounded in tbe garden ; two Eng lish neighbours bsd strolled in from an adjoining villa, and were waiting in the dark ness, not to disturb the harpist. Ann. feeling shy of meeting more strangers retreate i to Dona I..eV side, with a feint of being tired. Whereupon she was invited to retire early, while the men settled down to cards, that u Spanish whist or rocorobola, which is said to resemble tbe old English game of quadrille. Upstairs, after extinguishing her light, Ann nt on her bedside alone and quiet, looking at the big hill outlined against the dark night sky. Uow good ! bow very good all in this bouse had been to ber this aay. She could bardly feel cbaabfol enough to heaven for baving brought to her such kind people. She would try to show ber gratitude to them telves, and yet — there was one crnniDled rose leaf that disturbed her rest What a pity that she ha * slightly forfeited the good esteem of the sou of tbe house by ber ill-timed mirth. First impressions are so hard to get rid of, 'and he is just the one person who dis approves of me,*' she murmured alond. He was just the one person whose respect she wished for. For to tuwe a pseudo stepson disapproving of one as a light-minded school girl was distinctly annoyintf. Tbia damped our young woman's natural rebound to joy after late trouble and sorrow of mind. StQl the old don was on her tide. But, of course, he woold naturally champion an unprotected damsel He — he perhaps hoped she might be prmnan1 rd 'Ob. there ! He is a dear old gentleman. I will simply tell him all about it, and he »H1 quite understand and be sure to let me go home,' thought Ann at last. Whereupon in sleepy satisfaction ahe curled herself in bed.