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THE CHIMNEY CORNER., Ashburton Guardian, Volume 2, Issue 259, 3 February 1881
THE CHIMNEY CORNER.
ON THE VOYAGE OUT-
They had been married three weeks, and were now in London, making preparations for a long voyage out to India, via the Cape. We are speaking of twenty years ago, when the overland route to India; was an expensive luxury not always within the means of a young couple who had to live on their pay, as the saying goes. Dick Munro was a young Indian civilian, who had come home on a year’s sick leave, and had fallen in love three months before its expiration, with Annie Moveton, whom he riia'rried on the shortest wooing and wedding that a man in his senses could well risk. But he had no misgivings, for love is proverbially so full of faith that at no time of his life is a man such a true believer as when he flings himself into matrimony, allured thither by his affections.
And this had been the case with Dick and Annie, who loved at first sight, and pursued their impressions with such hot haste that they found themselves married before they had qiiite realised that they had met. Of course, in his wife’s eyes, Dick was the finest, handsomest, noblest creature the universe could produce. He was something of all these, but not to the extent of his young wife’s imaginings. Dick, on the other hand, was not quite so carried away by his ideas about his wife, for he knew that the world contained far prettier women; but none, he felt, were kinder or truer than she. And so this reckless pair had better grounds than the’majority for taking the future on trust, and chancing happiness.
Dinner was laid, and Annie was was watching for her husband’s return from a window of a first-floor apartment in a street off Bakei street. She had not long to wait; presently a fine, manlylooking fellow, with open countenance, and soft expressive eyes, came bounding up the stairs, at the top of which he was met by a very adoring little wife. “it’s all square, little woman,” he exclaimed, kissing her. “ I have secured a capital cabin on the upper deck, off the cuddy. There are very few names down as yet, so I had my pick —No. io. And now let me have something to eat, for I am as hungry as a hunter.” Saying this he disappeared toiprepare for dinner, while his wife rang to have it served quickly. “It’s one of Green’s best ships,” said . Dick,' after they had been seated at table some little time, and his hunger allowed him to talk. “ I wish I could have taken you overland; but I never bargained for getting married; when I came.home; so the first few months j went ahead extravagantly, and spent such lot of money that it is just a chance I had funds 'enough too carry us back 1 round the Cape even,” “I am content,” said Annie. “So long as I arp with you I- don’t pare where I am ;” for the good, little soul was full of admiration, arid gratitude tO’ Dick for the happiness he had bestowed ripoti her, a periniless girl,‘by’falling in love and marrying her.
“ I should like to have taken you overland,” reiterated Dick ; “ the trip is so much jollier, so much more life going on and places to be seen. But there is no use regretting; and a voyage round the Cape is hot so bad after all, if you have a good ship and nice people on board.”
“ Of course it isn’t,” said Annie, prepared to find everything delightful. “ The cabin is only ten feet square. I say, little woman, it will be a good test of affection to live together in such close quarters for four months,” remarked Dick, with a smile.” Annie smiled back, saying; “ I think we shall stand it.” “ There’s only a plank between us and the next cabin ; we shall have to remember this, and keep our voices down to whispering pitch.” “ The better to hear what our neighbors are saying,” cried Annie, making light of the last disadvantage that her husband had to offer. As soon as dinner was over, smoking began ; for Annie, like Sarah of old, called her husband lord, and forbade him nothing. In fact, if ever a man was in danger of becoming spoiled it was Dick Munro. Only he was a good fellow, and knew when he was well off. He felt supremely so at that moment, sitting in a comfortable easy chair, smoking an unlimited number of cigarettes, with a dear little wife sitting on a low stool very near, chatting and laughing in her brightest vein to amuse him. Presently they grew confidential They had married in such a hurry that they had everything to learn of each other except the cardinal fact of their mutual fondness. But now they could take matters easily, and tell each other interesting reminiscences of their past lives. “And tell me, Dick,” Annie lowering her voice, and drawing nearer as she spoke. “ Were you ever in love before you saw me ? ” Dick took the cigarette from his lips and puffed aside a cloud of smoke without replying, as though he wanted to evade the enquiry. But Annie was persistent, and demanded an answer. “ What do you want to know for ? You should no be inquisitive, Mrs. Annie,” was his reply, as he smiled. “ Inquisitive ! Why, Dick, I feel as If I’d like to know every day of your life since you were born. That’s because I love you.” She looked up in his face with such ender pleading that Dick—softestearted of men where a woman was in u estion—could not resist her.
“ Why, Annie, Samson must have given in to you, you know so well how to coax. What is it, then, you want to find out ?” “ If you were ever in love, you know, before you saw me ? ” “ Yes ; scores of times, with every pretty girl I met.” “ That is not what I mean. I know you are a flirt, you need not tell 'me that; but were you ever engaged—to be married* so that—Oh, Dick, I might have lost you. Answer me seriously, yes or no ? ” “Seriously, then, yes,” “Ah ! who to ? ” she cried, a pang of jealousy shooting through her heart, and, unconcealed, showing itself in her eyes. “ There; now, lam a fool. I ought not to have told you,!’ cried Dick; who had read in her face, what she was feeling. 1 Dick thought that he would rather say nothing more, ; but Annie kept pleading, and although he would rather have left, the story of his first love untold, knowing that his affections were now wholly placed on the woman at his side, he at last yielded to her entreaties, but his common sense told him such old stories are better left undisturbed in their graves. Any dragging up of the old dead bones is sure to cover us with unpleasant dust Dick felt all this, but Annie’s influence overcame everything, and he told her. “ Well, and what was she like, Dick ? I must know.” “ She was a beautiful creature —tall, thin, with glorious eyes and dark hair.” “ And how was it you did not marry her ?” came more faintly from Ahnid, and she contrasted her own fancied homeliness with the picture he had drawn.
Dick, puffing away at his cigarette, his mind busy raking- up the ashes of a dead love to amuse -the living, did not mark the rapid changes on his wife’s face, nor did he see how every word he let fall Was being gathered and garnered in her heart and memory. • “Why didn’t I marry her ?” answered Dick. “For a very goodvreason. I couldn’t.” :* “ Why, hadn’t you money enough ?” “ It was not a question of money at all. We were engaged for a year, and then —” “ And then—?” asked Annie eagerly. “It was broken off,” said Dick slowly, with face averted, and an abstract air that appeared to watch the career of each puff of smoke. “ Were you sorry ? Did you part loving her, loving each other ? Answer me, Dick, darling, Dick !” “ Yes, Annie; it was an awful time. There, I don’t want to remember anything more about it. It is all over now, and I am married to the best-little woman in the word —and, Annie, I
wouldn’t change her if I could.” With this assurance, Dick flung away the end of his cigarette, and put his arm round Annie, who nestled close to his side. “ And where is she, Dick ?” she continued, by no means satisfied until she had heard everything. “ In England, I believe. She came home for her health.” *' Had she a pretty name ?” “ Nov, now, Mrs. Inquisitive,.you are wanting to know too much.” “ But you will tell me, darling Dick,” she cried, bribing him with several kisses. “ Well, I suppose there is no great harm in your knowing her name,” he said carelessly. “ Then tell it to me.” “ You darling inquisitive torment 1 It is too bad of you to rifle a man of all his secrets in this undefended way. Her name, then, if you must/know it, was Adelaide Braind. J and she was; the 1 daughter of the Judge, mychief.” . A fortnight later, Dick and his wife j had wished their friends good-by, and | were on board the Magnolia 1 , ■ whose j was flying to announce tflaV j she was gutting jtyay. jtp sail that; evening. ‘ ‘ : 'j'
Annie was 'pleased with her cabin # and its arrangements, which were all | that an outfitter’s ingenuity could de- | vise to promote space and comfort | under extreme difficulties. On deck all was confusion. Groups n of friends gathered here and there to see the last of each other for many years, were talking eagerly. The Doctor of the ship came up to Annie and Dick, and introduced himself by offer- , ing her his field glasses. Dick and the Doctor entered intoconversationjwhite Annie amused herself by watclfing the novel scene before her.- Passengers coming—some - • being-.-hoisted=r.up«on board* from the boats in a. barreLwhjch hrd been converted into a chair, while others made use of. the r ladder at., the ship’s side. The vesselNvis toWil at 7 o’clock that evening. The Captain and pilot were both oil board. The chief was trying the wind by a feather pehnant. The second officer was Jiving orders about ropes here and sails there’. Everyone seemed alive with interest. The afternoon wore on, aiid the' ship was to sail in an hour’s time, Dick and Annie had gone down to the cuddy, where most of the passengers, some with friends,!/had assembled for a cup of tea. The Doctpy had attached himself to them, arid’wtfe amusing Annie by telling her the names of those fellow passengers he,knew. ' “That’s Mrs. Blundell, wife of Col. . Blundell, and her two girls, andthe | other lady is Mrs Macpherson—and i her two daughters,” said the doctor in a ■ whisper,- MT-vi j. “ Indeed,” said- Annie* rwho fining her tea flavorless, was glad to take a [ survey of the six Wutinan beings scaled j opposite. ’ L In the meantime.a commotion was \ going on patsid&V'.'litoro j were evidently, ' | on board. ..iffulmiflinA. “It’s No. 9 and No. 11 cabinsat last,” said the steward. L : -'Jf “ Each -side" Of ouls,* whispered . | Annie to Dick- “I’m see who they are.” She would liked |o have risen, but she was sitting .wjttt ;»gr back to the cuddy door, and did not j feel sufficiently: at so many strangers' to leave Dick’s side. So she waited, keeping, hep, attention j alive until they should pass inta their cabin. , • (To de.continued.) *T
THE CHIMNEY CORNER., Ashburton Guardian, Volume 2, Issue 259, 3 February 1881
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