|Newspaper Title||The Queenslander (Brisbane, Qld. : 1866 - 1939)|
|Trove Title||Astera-kesphoros; The Star of Healing|
Astera-kesphores; The Star of Healing. BY MARY HANNAY FOOTT.
[WRITTEN FOR THE QUEENSLANDER.] CHAPTER II.
Kenrick's mother did as her sister had advised her. She wrote to the King and told him that they would esteem it an honour to have his aunt the Grand Duchess as their tenant, and
that they should be able to let her people have possession at any time she might direct. They must, however, beg, she said, to be excused from remaining as the Grand Duchess's suite because one of their reasons for letting the cottage was that they might go away for change of air. She wrote also to the landlady of the hotel at Pebble Beach asking her to have a small room ready for her in a week's time, and to send to meet her at the village where the coach stopped, a mile or so away. Then she packed Kenrick's box and locked it, and gave him the key to wear on the lanyard he had round his neck with his whistle. As soon as Mollie's letter to the King was ready Fran went off with it, so that no time might be lost in its delivery, and took it to the palace. Just as she was about to drop it into the letter-box in the palace door the King himself drove up in his carriage, and Fran was so taken by surprise that she stood still holding the letter as if inviting some one to take it. The King as he stepped out of the carriage noticed her standing in this way, and a glance at the letter showed him that it was for himself. He fancied that it must be a petition of some sort, brought thus to his door by a lady, and as he was a very kind young man he felt anxious to attend to it at once. So, with a very respectful air, his hat in his left hand and his right extended for the letter, he went towards Fran, saying in a friendly tone: "Allow me to relieve you of the letter." "Thank you, sir," said Fran with a graceful curtsey, handing him the letter. "If you will kindly come indoors while I read your letter," said the King, "I may be able to give you a reply at once." "Thank you, sir," said Fran once more, and the King took her right hand in his and led her into the palace and handed her a chair. When he had read the letter he said: "My aunt will be here in a week's time. Her people are to arrive to-morrow. If you could allow them to go to the cottage as soon as they come it would be a great convenience to me." "I think we could, sir," replied Fran,"but I shall have to ask my sister before I can say. I will go home and tell her what you have said, and return with the answer." The King went with her to the door and handed her down the steps, and as he did so he found that it had begun to rain. When he went indoors he had forgotten to tell the coachman that he should not want the carriage again, and it was still standing in front of the porch. He asked Fran to let him send her home in the carriage, and as a royal request is the same thing as a command she did not know how to refuse, although she felt that she was by no means well enough dressed or a person of sufficient importance to go in such state. As soon as she had Mollie's consent—in a neat little note—to the Grand Duchess's people coming the next day to the cottage she fitted herself out with a pair of stout leather boots, a weather-beaten ulster, and a huge alpaca umbrella, took the note to the palace and dropped it into the letter-box. Next morning the King's chief page came to the cottage to await the expected arrivals; Mollie went off, a week before her time, to Pebble Beach; and Fran and Kenrick took themselves off with all their belongings in a battered old spring-cart to Mountain Crown.
Chapter III. Mountain Crown is a great circular mountain summit which rises on all sides sheer from its base like a lofty wall of solid rock with but a single break. In this one break a rough way has been hewn by which people may go to and from the Crown. The entrance to the way is beneath a low arch and through a narrow tunnel of rock, and is guarded by a soldier. At the top of the Crown stands the observatory which was built by the grandfather of the King of whom mention has been made for a very great astronomer. The astronomer who had charge of the observatory when Fran and her nephew went to the Crown was Eric Brightstone, the grandson of the man for whom it was built. His father had likewise been a famous astronomer, and he himself, it was thought, was greater than either father or grandfather. They in their days used to write books about their discoveries, but Eric had never written anything for other people to read. It was believed by some learned men that the two elder Brightstones had learned much more about the star-worlds than they had ever taught
to any one but Eric. All that they had known, however, it was thought he knew, and many things besides which had been made plain to him because of what they had told him and left written down for him In the books no other eyes than theirs and his had ever seen. Eric Brightstone's wife was not at all strong, and she was not able to live on Mountain Crown, but had to travel about the world. She was too delicate even to take care of her little daughter Erica, and had to leave her with her father, who, though he loved her dearly, used now and then to forget that there was such a person in the world. As Kenrick and his aunt, followed by a man carrying their tent and some of their other things, arrived at the archway where the soldier stood on guard, little Erica Brightstone came towards them, dancing down the rough-hewn way, her yellow hair flying in the mountain wind, and her gay small figure and babyish pretty face full of happy frolic. "Let me out, soldier man!" she called to the sentry. "You'll have to let me out!" "Now, now, missy," said the sentry, "go and gather me some pretty flowers to take home to my little girl. I dussen't let you out, my dear, you'd get lost and strayed." "I've gathered heaps of flowers for your little girl," replied Erica, "and now I want to go out and gather some children to come and play." "Here's a little boy, missy," said the sentry, "a good little boy that wants to come in, not to go out," he added as he read the order of admittance Fran had just handed him, and stood aside to let her and Ken and the porter pass within. Fran's permit said, "Admit to Mountain Crown Miss Frances Kenrick, artist lacemaker, aged 18, and Mr. Kenrick Boone, aged 7." The porter had a pass of his own, and was often in and out with parcels for the observatory, so that he and the sentry knew each other quite well.
As the three entered Fran held out her hand to Erica. "Come with us,'* she said, "will you not? This is Kenrick Boone; l am his aunt; we shall be glad if you will come every day to play with us." Erica took Fran's hand, nodded to Ken in a friendly way, and walked with them to the place where the porter, who had gone on quickly, awaited their arrival. Here she helped to choose a good place for the tent, and when the porter had pitched it and had gone away to fetch the rest of the things, which had been left by the roadside at the foot of the mountain, she made herself busy in a number of ways, doing her best to be useful. When everything that had [already] come was neatly arranged within the tent and for the time then was no more work to be done, she sat with her new-found friends on the bank of a little spring close by and shared their picnic lunch of biscuits and apples. By the time they had done the porter had returned with the remainder of their parcels, and Erica wished still to stay and help to put things in order. Fran was afraid, however, that the astronomer would begin to fancy his little girl was lost, so she and Ken set off with her for the observatory. After seeing her through the timber that lay betwixt the patch of open ground where the tent was pitched and the wide, park-like clearing, in the midst of which stood her home, they returned to their camp and finished setting it to rights. Then Fran took out her lace-making things and set to work, whilst Ken fell fast asleep on the grass by her side. At sunset, when he awoke, they lit a good fire on a fiat rock near, made tea and toast, and were trying to open a tin of sardines, when a little white-gowned figure with shining long hair came dancing out of the timber and across the grass, and joined them where they sat. "Oh, Erica!" said Fran. "Ken says you tell him stories at night," said Erica, "so I've came." After tea Erica sat wrapped in a cloak on Fran's lap and listened to stories with Ken. By-and-by lights began to flit about among the trees, and voices were to be heard calling "Erica! Erica!" Then Fran replied with "Here! here!" and very soon the astronomer himself, a tall man with kindly eyes, appeared at the head of a lanterned squad, and with shyly spoken apologies to Fran for his daughter's intrusion, and a mild reproof to the runaway, he took his departure once more at the head of the procession, carrying Erica, half-asleep, in his arms. [TO BE CONTINUED NEXT WEEK.]
II is gratifying to learn that, although Mr. Robert Louis Stevenson is dead, the world has several works from his pen yet in store for them. Not only has he left his memoirs, but also a complete but as yet unpublished story, entitled "Northern Lights." Besides this there are two unfinished novels called, respec tively, "St. Ives" and "The Lord Justice Clerk."