|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.]
All her life, from the time when first she was able to run about alone, little Erica Bright stone had been fond of going off by herself into the wild places on Mountain Crown. At first
she had been content to amuse herself gather ing flowers and gay berries and snailshells, and as soon as she had got together a little hoard of such treasures in her basket or pina fore would return home and play with them for hours at a time. When she grew older she found the dull loneliness of the Observatory clearing every day more irksome and became more daring in her explorations among the woods and rooks beyond. She discovered for herself the rough-hewn way to the outer world and the sentry-guarded portal in the rock, and many a time had done her best to pass it, but in vain. When the soldier refused, as he always did, to let her go by, she used to rush off to one or other of the places known to her, steep cliffs or lofty trees, whence a glimpse was to be had of the King's white- built city, of farm and vineyard-covered plain, of gleaming river and far gray sea, and there she would sit for hours at a time gazing into the forbidden distances. For the first few days after Ken arrived with his aunt Erica was satisfied to play about near the tent with her new companion, the first friend of her own age she had ever known. After a little while, however, she tired of all the amuse ments to be had there—excepting Fran's delightful stories. These were not due until
the evening, so there was nothing to be lost by spending the day in the old gipsy fashion, and more pleasantly than ever before now that she had a playmate. As for Ken, he entered into the spirit of the thing with the utmost eagerness. Even at the cottage, where the chances of adventure were very few, and with his mother and aunt to ward off even these, he had managed to snatch one or two and most thoroughly to enjoy them. At Mountain Crown, with Erica to lead the way, he learned as if by magic to scale rocks and climb trees, to pull himself up anywhere and let himself down by the llanos (a sort of strong creeper) and supplejack, hand over hand, to cross boggy ground barefoot on a fallen log slippery with water-moss, and to fling himself over a gully with a bamboo jumping-pole. At first when the children took to going away together Fran used to miss them in a few minutes, make after them, and either stay with them or bring them back at once. By-and-by she got used to their disappearing for a time, and when she had begun making the design for the centre of the bridal veil the Grand Duchess had ordered she ceased to miss them when they went, and sometimes fancied they had been gone only an hour or so when they had not been near her for half the day. The astronomer, all this while, was busy with his stars; busier than ever he had been before in all his life; busier than his father and grandfather had ever been.
For a certain discovery for which his grand father and his father had prepared the way Erie Brightstone had now at last, he believed, succeeded in making. It had been neces sary to repeat all his experiments a number of times, so as to make sure that there was no mistake, and, so far, it seemed as if there could be none. He had now resolved to go through the whole thing once more and to ask the King to be present whilst he did so. Next to himself the King knew more about the science of astronomy than did any one else in the kingdom, and his help and advice in making the experiments afresh would be most valuable. It was to the King and his father and grandfather, moreover, that the world was indebted for the Observatory, and therefore for the discovery. The world—because the dis covery once it was proved would be the most wonderful, the greatest, the blessedest, the best ever made in the starry heavens by mortal man. The King had promised to come, and another guest was likewise expected— a guest, but as the swallow is a guest who spends what space of life she may while summer lasts in her unforgotten home—Erica's mother, called by the great Under-sea Wire from the other side of the world. What was being done in the Observatory and at the tent was being done, more than for any one else, for the sake of the children. Fran's veil that she was working so hard at would pay for better schooling for Ken, and help to make a man of him. Eric Brightstone's discovery would give Erica back her mother. Yet the morning that the expected visitors arrived, the King riding his beautiful bay horse beside the palanquin in which Erica's mother was carried by eight brown Burmese, nobody, as it hap pened, once thought of the children until Erica came flying out of the timber, pallid, with streaming hair and outstretched bleeding hands, shrieking aloud, "Fran! Father! Fran!" Fran flung down her lace-work and rushed towards the Observatory clearing. As she reached it she saw in a glance the King dis mounting, the sick woman in her palanquin, the astronomer hastening forward from the doorway, and all gazing at Erica aghast. "Erica! oh, Erica!" cried Fran across the space. "Where—where is Ken?" "He failed off the Crown," said Erica. "I falled a little way and he got me. And he failed hisself. And I fink he's smashed to bits." [TO BE CONTINUED NEXT WEEK.]
BABY'S CROCHET CAP. [See "Work-table."