|Newspaper Title||The Queenslander (Brisbane, Qld. : 1866 - 1939)|
|Trove Title||Astera-kesphoros; The Star of Healing|
Astera-kesphoros; The Star of Healing. BY MARY HANNAY FOOTT.
[WRITTEN FOR THE QUEENSLANDER.]
Next morning Erica came again to the tent, and she and Ken played together all day, and in the evening they listened together to Fran's pretty stories until Erica's nurse, with a ser
vant-boy carrying a lantern, came at bedtime to take the little girl home. The day after Erica repeated her visit, but on this occasion her father arrived in the course of the morn ing, and asked the tent party to return with him to the Observatory. They accepted the invitation, and when they got there they found that they were expected to lunch, and that there were all sorts of good things pre pared for them. After lunch Eric Brightstone took them all into his top room where the great telescope was and let them look through it at the sky. By-and-by they went downstairs once more and had tea. While they were having it a messenger came with letters, and one of the letters was from the King to Eric, who was his friend as well as his astronomer. Enclosed in it was a letter from the King's aunt the Grand Duchess to Fran. Eric and she both read their letters, and when they had read them they laughed very much. The King's letter to Eric said: Dear Stargazer,—Another Princess has refused to marry me. This makes forty-eight Royal girls who have said "No". My heart is not broken, and I have taken it into my head that the forty-ninth time I offer half the Crown of this Realm to any lady it will be accepted. My aunt asks me to en close a note from her to a lady who is staying for a few weeks, she tells me, at Mountain Crown. Philibert. The Grand Duchess's letter to Fran said: "The Grand Duchess Nancie has seen some lace designed and made by Miss Kenrick and likes it, Miss Kenrick will please to set to work at once to design a Royal bridal veil for the Consort of his Majesty the King. Two of the corners are to contain the royal arms, and one the arms of the Grand Duchess, whose gift to the Queen the veil will be. The fourth corner must be left un finished, both in lace and design, until the King has decided what Princess is to have the honour of becoming his Queen." "You seem to be pleased with your letter," said Eric to Fran. "I am very much pleased indeed," Fran replied. "Since I came here I have got an idea for a most charming border for a bridal veil (if only I could think of a centre to go with it), and now—in this very letter—l have an order from the Grand Duchess to make one for the King's bride." Eric smiled. "I am very glad indeed," said Eric, "but when you write to the Grand Duchess to accept her commission I think it would be well to say that you will expect to be allowed to send the veil home as soon as it is made without waiting for the marriage." "Thank you," said Fran, "I will." "May I ask what the design for the border is that you have thought of?" inquired Eric. "Certainly," replied Fran. "It is made of orchid blossoms of different kinds, interwoven with the flowers of the silver-star orchid, which grows so luxuriantly on the lofty trees near our tent that in places it quite borders great lakes of sky." "And what is the silver-star to frame in on your veil?" inquired Eric. "l am sorry to say," replied Fran, "that I do not know. If the sky had any pattern I
should use it for the centre of the veil, because it is always the sky that the silver-star orchids fringe as I see them when I look up to the trees where they grow. But the sky, as you know, has no pattern, nothing even one could make a pattern of." "What of the stars?" said Eric. "I love them," said Fran, "but they would make a poor figure in lace. They would look like so many big and little dots set about in the most careless way." The astronomer smiled. "Should you mind mounting the stairs again?" he said, "there is a lens my grand father made which I fancy you might like to look with." "Thank you so much," said Fran, and they all went upstairs again to the lookout. The astronomer unlocked a drawer and took from it a large circular metal box. The children thought it was made of a dull sort of silver, but in reality it was made of platinum. Eric unscrewed the lid of the box and took out of it a lens of immense thickness, and of a brilliance like that of a diamond of the first water, and fitted it to the telescope. "Now," he said, and Erica and Ken came forward to take possession. "Oh, no," he said, "you have had your turn. I put this in for Miss Kenrick." Fran advanced. As she took her place the astronomer said in a low voice, with a glance towards the children: "Make no remark, please." Fran looked through the telescope and turned pale; flushed; paled again; caught her breath; gazed and gazed as if entranced. ln a minute or two the astronomer said softly to Ken and Erica: "Take hold of Miss Kenrick's hands, children, and ask her to take you down stairs." They obeyed, and Fran went with them, looking like one in a dream. Eric Brightstone, who had stayed to put away his grandfather's lens in its box and drawer, over took them as they reached the ground floor, and as Ken and Erica set off for one last race together round the garden before the good-byes were said, Fran asked the astronomer: "Is it real? Or is it only the lens?" Eric smiled, but all he said was: "What of the design for your veil?" "I had quite forgotten the veil," Fran replied. "May I use what you showed me for the centre?" "It is as much yours and every one else's as it is mine," said Eric. "Then I will," said Fran,"though I shall never be able to do it justice." Afterwards, however, when the veil was finished and sent to the Grand Duchess she exclaimed: "It is the most beautiful veil in all the world! A fairy might wear it on her wedding day!" [TO BE CONTINUED NEXT WEEK.]