|Chapter Title||THE DREADFUL DON.|
|Newspaper Title||The Capricornian (Rockhampton, Qld. : 1875 - 1929)|
|Trove Title||Half Round the World to Find a Husband. A Comedy of Errors|
Sato and fetches*
F«-if Round the World to Find a Husband. A COMEDY OF ERRORS.
By HAY CROMMEUN, Author of ?* Bay Ronald,' ' A Jewel of a tGiri,' ' Goblio Gold,' ' Dead Men's Dollar*, H ' Mr. and Mm. Herries,' &c
(COPTKIGHT.J Chafxeb XL— The Dreadful Dos. Itwaawidithefeelingof a prisoner whose eve ?of dial has come, after some weeks of dread - fnl anticipation, that Nan sleep calmly as those on the night before execution, and dressed herself next morning, pale-faced and resolute. She rose horribly early, and sTood on the deck, that was still wet from washing, feeling as if enduring this doable disagree abQity, was a somewhat virtuous action. Then the '* farrow ' passed a long headland ; the sun uprose, and Valparaiso Bay l*y spread in a deep horseshoe ringed by reddish hills. The steamer neared the low town by the -water's edge; tfae passengers coald see the high diffa scattered with villas, and the still steeper heights above burnt red by summer ?droughts. Ann's heart was beating hard. Soon boats surrounded the ship, laden with ?eager friends. These scrambled np the gang way ; embraced and hurried away their dear ? ones. The thronged decks at first were -encumbered with luggage, bat in half an hoar -were empty. All had gone. A painful :flflence reigned by contrast, and Ann .'Montague, the criminal, seemed left alone of all tfae passengers on the ship. father Coeardoax has sought her ont at breakfast time, bat despite his friendly cArtations, she could only gulp down a cop of cdEee, and now felt a general sinking of bofcy. except for a rising swelling in her threat. At fnflt the captain's boy came pattering Along tfaegromenade deck towards the lonely .'figure. '(Cap'n's compliments, please Mam, i*nd wool&tyeu kindly step np on the bridge 'to his cabin?* Sach an invitation was a rare honour as a vole, bat not now — not now. Climbing the won ladder, the reluctant gaest waa helped npdfce last steps by Captain Good - 'Tbe old ce∨ is in my cabin. He has 'been wahiagaere about an hoar, waiting till ?be could Calk this matter over with me privately.' 'Which Sefior. Anita's father, or— the -other one t' in trembling accents. ' I mean Don ? Whan* Edoardo.' ' Don what V ' Don ' Whan * Edoardo. That's tfae pro -per pronunciation. Von say Joan in English. Come along, child, and get it over,' with rough kindliness. ' I declare yon are quite cold and quaking. ' Not giving Ann a ; moment more to think, the warder drew his ? charge to die cabin threshold, over which she : stumbled, and then raised her frightened wyes. A atoot dU gentleman stood before her; -erect, short ; W* bat clapped tight to his side, as be politely bowed. His brow wae broad, ? hit rosy face clea& .shaven ; its grey eyes were i intently scrutinisingttae abashed girlish figure before him, while bis mouth though shut tight as an oyster shell, had kindly corves. A sprinkling of snow white hair completed his In the silence that followed, Ann found ber . self speaking first in a piteous tone. ' Sefior. can yoa forgive a deception, which -Hnoeed I never meant should be carried so far? Captain Coodman will tell yoa I have come all this way by bis wish to apologue— and I will go home.' Then the cabin floor heaved, the lockers, the photo*, boohs, ail began to swim around. Ann just became aware that her cold bands were seized, while a voice repeated in autboritativeaccenta. ** Stop a minute ! Stop a minute ! Goodman, a chair, get a chair? This poor girl is going to faint. Father Oeardoux, look in here a moment, will you ? Why the dreaded Don was simply an old English gentlem n ! *' I am much better, thank yoa, I never really feinted in all my life,' gasped Ann, ashamed of herself bat sweetly smiling. '* Yoa were quite near enough doing so,' responded three masculine voices, as Father - Cffiardoux'd black Boutane appeared at the ? ctbin door. Now what was he doing on the .bridge at that critical janctore? ' A soothing tisjne,' advised the priesL ** A rousing cock-tail,' recommended the 'A judicious mixture.' decided the old Don. ' Then III take over her luggage and thine*, and she most come to stay at my house. Of coarse ! Ot coarse ? She can't go to the Maelagues. Don Pedro is as mad as a .a bull at a radeo. Now don't object my dear ?child Stop * m id ate ; ask your frieods' ?advice here, while I brew yon a dose of my town,' and away b« trotted with stiff bat '* What ! Stay alone at an hotel, and try to give lessons in English ? She waa too young and friendless just at first. Presently 4he could see about it. Hospitality waa the ?rale in South America, and Don Edoardo'e ?offer simply made circumstances correct, twhfle not committing Nan in the least. ' Consider yourself auder my care. I am to be his guest also,' smiled Father C-ear- -door. ' Why did I not tell yon before ? Because I had oaly a letter of introduction ; now I have accepted his kind invitation, -partly to make matters easier for you. When Z leave his bouse, I promise that yoa shall leave too, if yon wish iL' Back reappeared the little Don, bearing a
nauseous concoction, which yet comfocted Ann as she slowly sipped it. ' That's right ! That's right ! Hear the decision of the others ; then I will see after your luggage and we will all go on shore.' Aon attempted to intervene ooce more, to ask pardon, for indeed she felt overwhelmed at the matter of her false impersonation being so generously overlooked. 'Stop a minute ! Stop a minute ! We will talk about that later,' retorted the genial old gentleman, waving his hand. ' By all accounts you have had a terrible time of it. A poor young creature all alone, coming out these thousands of miles with a weight on your mind. ' He repeated his pity as they rowed ashore in state in the captain's gig. *' Travelling all this way alone — without a maid. Why ! I have not gone bicfc to Europe myself tbe^e What courage yoa must have. 'Pod my soul j very lonely !' 'Certainly— but we all did our best,' slyly put in Lhe priest and Captain Goodman, with twinkling side smiles, while Ann, in her sadden revulsion of feeling, could hardly forbear laughing oat-right. And in this manner the wicked one was taken as a prisoner on shore, and carried off to the house of bondage in a carriage waiting on the *' Con will excuse a hired coach, coch€ as we call it here,' exclaimed Senor Palmer. ' In Santiago, cor capital, you know, I could offer yoa a London brougham, bat these Valparaiso roads are too bad. We come down here lately to get oea air after the hot summer. We are staying in a little villa that belonged to my dear wife.' So saying, be gallantly helpel Ann into the craziest looking vehicle her eyes bad ever seen ; mostly framed of ancient glass windows, held together with rotten leather, while a hood like a poke bonnetabelteredthedrirer'sseat. To this three lean horses were harnessed abreast, their traces knotted in several parts with cord. Away they rattled along one ill-paved bat level street, which ran between the heights and the sea, Mr. Palmer pointing oat all the new eights to his guests. ?* These are pepper trees along the streets, and Bee, we hare very decent shops, while the Chilian townsfolk live in the fiats above them. . . . . English merchants there? Dear me, no ! They all go np to the hill villas. Look, Misa Montague, tLere'e & poaltry boy riding. Everybody rides here.' And Ann's wide opening eager eyes saw an urchin of ten sitting bare backed sideways on a lanky mare behind square boxes with wire netting, through which docks and fowls poked their heads in noisy protestation. Next, a bread boy with legs dangling over his nag's shoulders, riding between two huge panniers covered with calf hides. 41 Is the bread clean ?** hazarded the new comer, for the baskets traely did not promise appetising coo teats. ' Eh, eh ! We all have to swallow a peck of dirt in our lives,' replied the old getleman with chetrf ol complacency. '* Many of as are thankful for worse,' smiled Pere Coeurdoux, who was chinking of the missionaries among the Indians, whom he The coach soon rattled and bamped into really picturesque suburbs. Ann gazed with astonished pleasure at dirty bat delightfully crazy wooden ranchos. 'Oh, what eketcbes one could make if one had time here,' she uttered, at seeing through open door-ways piles of green or golden plumpkins, groups of of men riding by with enormous str&w hats, ponchos, or eqnare cloaks that were really brown and rose-striped rugs with a whole for the head. The riders used carved waoden stirrups like small dog-kennels. Then one could spy melons out-poared on mad floors, with heaps of scarlet chilis drying in the nun. Indian -looking women squatted on the ground outside, washing in wooden troughs ; others were cooking at the doors over braziers filled with hot charcoal. And here by the roadside thronged a group of brownish-skiuned children better dressed than any poor English ur chins of tbe same class. Tno small girls with pink cotton frocks wore their long hair-plaits neatly tied with gay ribbon and a. toddling in fant in white they gn trded was waving a leaf of wild c*ator oil. (Van had aeeu the plant trying to grow in English drawing *? Oh, look !' exclaimed tbe girl, pointing to a hovel perched on the very cliff edge be eide the rising road. U was made of old boards laid together and covered with tin sheets like squashed bisciit boxes ;' ** Kerosene tio franq be .ten flat, that's what t*»ey are.' chuckled the merry Don. ** Yes ! Yes ! You'll ere hits of them ; serve to keep have love in a cottage here, but love in kero sene tin !' '? Are the people so very poor then !' 'Notabitofit ! Not a bit of it 1 Perfect climate I Plenty to eat ! Good wages. Why ! those children yoa admire just now belonged to that very ranclio.' Now the coach climed the steep mountain rotd Bbarply, that overhung a stream and ravine, dubty treeless, but striking. They turned the corners sharp, and the near horse a young one, shied perilously near the ciiff edge. They had almost ran into the leading couple of aa eight-ox team, yoked into a huge cart. Old Don Edoardo throat out his head, in a stream of fluent and apparently forcible Spanish expletives. ' Look at him asleep on the shaft ! The fool ! The raadmin !' he cried, truly enough the ox-driver only then raised a heavy head from indulging in a noon day nap ' All's well that ends well. Bat those deuced oxen might hare poshed as right over the roadside. They would not care,'1 grumbled the Briton, comfortable re lapsing into his seat and native speech once Ann noticed as one among the many strange sights and sounds surrounding her, the ease with which her spouse-elect slid from one language into the other.
| A little later, just as she recovered from the I momentary flatter into which this incident hai thrown her, they came to where the road forked apart. 'Oh see, how pictnresqae !' cned ont the girl, gazing at a rider ahead of them. He was dressed in black velveteen, with a red silk sash just showing at the waist ; his high saddle peaked before and behind shone bright with silver ornaments, while his spars were as big and bristling as old pictures of the sun's face, set in sharp rays. His face was hardly visible, for on hearing the carriage wheels tne rider slightly turned his head, then instantly cantered out of sight round tbe bend of th? road. ?* What a pity V said Nan, dissappointed. ** I wish we could have Been him uear. He reminded me of a Velasquez, excepting for those queer wooden stirrups, like old-fashioned coal scat ties.' 'There! Now yoa have seen a true Chilian gentleman, dressed to go round his farm,' said old Don Edoardo, looking fixedly at the charming youthful face opposite him. A *in felt that bis words implied more than he said. Evidently he was pleased at her native admiration of this stranger, a countryman of bis adoption. 'Perhaps yoa may see that individual fg^in, bat in different costume. He would not show himself to a young English lady like you, dressed as a farmer. Those stirrups, by the way, are useful enough. They serve to keep the mnd off one's feet in winter.' Their road now turned away from that taken by the rider, and became a private track cut in the hill side, with a deep fall into the valley beneath, bat never a stack or stone of parapet. Even Father Coeardonx looked slightly disturbed. What if the horses bolted ? They never do, was the reassuring reply. Across the gully a brick kiln was built against tfae cliff side, and a peasent was draw ing water from the stream below by means of a backet and ropes in primitive fashion. A bunch nf wild calceolaria dung to tfae walL More sketches for Ann, ' if one had time to do them.' as she unthinkingly repeated aloud. ' Time. Why should you not have lots of time?' asked her host with a frank air. Whereat Kan hung her head ; for bow could she tell tbe thought in her mind, that very soon she must forego his hospitality and support herself, and then — soon after she would sail away northwards. ' And now yoa come to what we call tbe * Valley of Foxes,'' went oo old Don Edoardo raving bis band towards high hills covered with brushwood and rock*, where be told them quail and partridge abounded. The road descended into a wooded dell, through which a stream wonnd, and the roofs of one or two bouses showed, embosomed in trees, and smothered in masses of flowers. Now the willows, fringing a sandy river bed. And what a strange bat lovely mixture of vegeta tion ! Brambles were thick all the way, mingled with aloes and tall prickly cacti ; bushed of wild myrtle whitened the heights with blossom. Soon the cocfae stopped in a dingle filled with noontide sunshine. Across tfae mountain stream stood a row of giant poplars that were beginning to change from summer's green to aoramn livery- of gold ; their topmost brougbs brightened by clusters of a scarlet parasite flower. The scene was that of a little Eden, ehrined in the wild fail*' heart ; and Ann drew in her breath wUb delight, sniffing the scented air and feasting her sea-tired eyes on the BLrange beauties of Clcse by was a wooden gate set in a high scarlet hedge of blossoming g&raniams. Here they alighted, and passing through approached a many-gabled villa, painted fawn below and a reddish-broii n higher ap, picked out with turquoise-coloured doors and window sashes. A mass of oranged-haed creepers covered one end, contrasting with the blue of tall plant bago bashes ; bat tbe environing garden offered a hundred other RtrUriug corabinntions. A succession of flowering terraces led down to the valley brook and its high overshadow ing tree*!. There were all the finest biods of English roses, and Japanese chrysanthemums, mingled with tuberoses, heliotrope, and common eltanders. K^d and creamy lapigeria blossoms that grow wild id the sou! hern woods were wreathed among acacia brunches, while oranges uuag golden and lemons green in luxuriant profusion Feeling as in a dream, Ann g*z±d arouud. It was surely a vision of enchantment.