|Chapter Title||A PAPER CHASE IS CHILL|
|Newspaper Title||The Capricornian (Rockhampton, Qld. : 1875 - 1929)|
|Trove Title||Half Round the World to Find a Husband. A Comedy of Errors|
Waits mA tffteirbttu
Half Round the World to Find a Husband. A COMEDY OF ERRORS.
By MAY CROMMEUN, Aathor of ' Bay Ronald,' ' A Jewel of a ?Girl,' *? Goblin Gold,' ' Dead Men's Dollars,' 'Mr. and Mrs. Berries,' &c fcoprfiicHT.)
'Chafteh XVL— A Papkr-Chase Is Chtll
Xtie sunshine was hut next morning, at half ^paat eight, as oar party arrived at the railway station. There they were joyously greeted by a small jrronp of yonng men, dressed in
uunnng attire with scarlet waistcoat, and ^silver horse-shoe badges. Some twenty girls and yonng married women meant to ride that day, also a young widow among them, Santa 'Crux, who had lately shown herself especially -friendly to the stranger. Miss Montague. She now singled oat Ann, taking her affectionately -by the arm. ' Let us gee into the Pullman 'car, and ait near each other. We will make *quite a pleasant little party together. So Rex -Palmer is coming ont with as, 1 see ; he looks =so well on horseback- He is a splendid ?»»???*? IDear me 1 1 hope he did not overhear. One wogfct not to say all one thinks ; ought one ?' After some waiting, all the horses were got into -the special train and away it Breamed, past Hbe sea and the pretty villas of Vina suburbs, and the yet prettier because more wooded valley of Salto, from which little ravines ran up among the hills, fall of nooka, where maiden-hair fern grew wild in deep beds. Next, Quilpne, a townlet shaped by yellow acacias, on the verge of a minature sandy desert speckled witb thorny scrub. Soon afterwards the train plunged into a long tunnel ; with a defunt shriek rushed on, and —stopped short in otter darkness. ' Keep your seats,*' called ont Rex's voice close to Ann, and bis shout was authorita tively echoed by the voices of several English Committee men, themselves rushing along the corridors, to see what accident had happened. ** The early train from Valparaiso will run in on as,' shrieked Santa Cruz, in piteous ? dismay. 'There will be a collision. We : shall all be smashed. ' ' No, no ! They hare sent men and a red (flag down the line behind towards Valparaiso — the rail? are clear in front,' answered Rex's nroioe cheerfully. ** Here— shall I strike a match or two to light the scene ? Cheer up.' Slhere followed the scratch and flame spurt of a «uca, dose to Ann's face ! she saw Bex's eye* a Moment speaking encouragement to hero** ' H'oW it » little this way, please. Oh - I am so LTgbtfiMd,' implored Santa, who began sobbing **O. Don Edoaxdo, I wish yon could — take me hutot.** Rex lit a/wtfeer match, and sat on Sarita'a further side, trymg to reassure her. Ann's ear caught 6*vbfatng moral uts in reply, that Sarita was thin'Mog not of herself, bat of her little hoy, her Catfaerleai child. He wonld understand.; he, too, had the sole care of little children. Ann bit her under Up in the gloom, till it hurt ; she twined ber fioger* together bard — she felt f urioua. Tbeo old Don Edoirdo began patting her arm with soothing exhortations. It was all Ann could do not to writhe under the good old man's affectionate touch. (Was Rex, too, patting Santa's arm beyond there ?) ** It's all pnt straight,' cried various speakers, each like human fireflies boUiog a lncifer match. ' The brake's gone wrong as usual ; but the engine driver is an Englishman, so he's all right.' Then with shouts and call op and down the line, the train moved once more ; sped ou ; and with thankful feelings all found them selves once more in the sunlight, approaching the pleasant little town called Liraache. Here the paperchase parly gaily alighted 5 the horses followed, and aoon the riders were ?mounting and being mounted in various .groups. ' Mow, my dear, I will take charge of you for the day,' cried Don Edoardo, gallantly -footing it beside Ann, alongaiane, ankle deep in May dust. ** How hot the aunsbine is. ?Upon my word, I am very glad I persuaded you not to ride to-day, partly ont of regard ior that lovely complexion. Sarita Cruz there, who « so proud of herself because she 5s -as white and red as an Englishwoman, will 'I like beiii^Mitfbornt,' returned Ann, in pure perversity, glancing towards a tree where Sarita, was ^ost being mounted on ber horse, by Rex himself. There ! His own £oldado was being led up close by. He swung him self into the saddle. Plainly he meant to be Santa's cavalier for the day, or she meant it. Inwardly shivering with vexation, our jea'ons heroine hardly knew how she con trolled herself to be smiling and civil, as with the elders she mounted the steps of a pretty quinta, belonging to old Mrs. Croz, the mother-in-law of Santa. In front of the piazza, ail the riders were now aeaeenbing, and formed np in line saluting the old lady of the %ouse, who was to be their hostess for the evening tea, which wonld follow the day's ' Hi ! Hi ! There go the hares.' Two young fellows on smart ponies dashed away, ?with big leather bags of paper slang on their ? backs. One was Valentine Brown, Ann's boy ish admirer ; the other a yoong Cruz, for they were riding that day through hi? mother's ?estate, and he knew every yard of the ground. A rather impatient delay followed ; then the president of the club rode down the line ?counting the riders, who uuwered to some .fifty names ?? Are you ready ? Off 1' Round they all wheeled, and breaking into ^groups the cavalcade went galloping down the wide road, bordered witb a tree regiment of «nighly poplars.
'Now lapies, Ann, Ines I Here is our carriage: come quick,' cried old Don Edoardo, fussily. They jumped into a covered '? shandrydan,' to which three horses were harnessed abreast, driven by a lad of thirteen clad in rags and the usual enormous straw hat. With a joyous grin and and cracking his whip with delight this young sportsman started his three lean beasts at a gallop down the wide road, where the flying wheels soon raised clouds of dust. Throngh this Ann bravely blinked, with her head oat of the window of the crazy coche till oh, disappoint meat ! all the riders ahead jumped a low wattled fence into a pasture beyond. Across this they streamed towards a copse, but the ground beyond dipped and they were lost to sight. ' Never mind, we will find them quite &oon enough, quite soon enough,' cried old Don Edoardo, encouragingly. ' Now look at the beauties of the landscape, Miss Ann ; yon may think yourself on a highway here, but let me tell you this is only a private farm-road of four miles through the Cruz property. Ob, a very pretty estate, sot so Urge as eome, bat still nice, very nice.' It was a big farm indeed. Past long walls of houses, where stood five hundred milch kine, the shaded road skirted pretty farm cottages and big meadow after meadow, each with its name painted white on the gate, and all well fenced with mud walls, or wattle. For three miles in narrowing perspective it stretched bordered by splendid lines of pop lars, while underneath grew blackberry bramble in glorious thickets. During half an hoar that followed Ann strained her eyes towards the fields, hoping against hope to see something of the riders, longing with all her heart to be among them. Useless. She gave up the attempt at last, and leant back in the stuffy, frowsy carriage feeling resigned, and suddenly very old. Ines was smiting quite contentedly beside her, while the old don opposite was garroualy admiring the valuable crop of lucerne belonging to Sefiora Cruz. 'Altogether this is a fine hacienda, and Santa's little boy will inherit the property some day. A good match for our Host t a or Gordita, eh, Ines ?' said the dear old man, slyly. ' Don c try to make marriages aoy more, brother. Believe me, it is a mistake/' said Ines, somewhat stiffly. At which the old man coughed ; Ann felt uncomfortable ; and silence reigned, only dis turbed by the rattling of the coche for half an hoar as their jehn drove them at his own wild will down this side lane or that sandy track, eager as an Irish gossoon to see the rport.