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Title: Star People
Author: Dewey, Katharine Fay
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Star People" ***

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produced from images generously made available by The
Internet Archive)



[Illustration:

  STAR PEOPLE AND THE JANE ELLEN
]



                              STAR PEOPLE


                                   BY

                          KATHARINE FAY DEWEY


                         WITH ILLUSTRATIONS BY
                          FRANCES B. COMSTOCK

[Illustration]

                          BOSTON AND NEW YORK
                        HOUGHTON MIFFLIN COMPANY
                    =The Riverside Press Cambridge=
                                  1910



                COPYRIGHT, 1910, BY KATHARINE FAY DEWEY

                          ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

                        _Published October 1910_



                       TO THREE LITTLE KATHARINES


                   _Oh, Katharines three,
                   Come sail with me
               Where the ship of my Fancy flies!
                   We’ll wander free
                   Over land and sea,
               Then sail away to the skies._

                   _If I were a star,
                   So far—so far—
               From this Earth where the children dwell,
                   My twinkliest beam
                   For that ship should gleam;
               And my truest secret I’d tell
                   To the eyes that look
                   Through fancy.—No book
               Nor telescope serves so well._



                                CONTENTS


    I. THE PRINCESS AND THE OTHERS                                     1

         _Introduces some people in Garden and Sky.
         Meet them now if you like, or come back by and by._

   II. THE SAILOR’S STAR                                              11

         _Tells how the Jane Ellen sailed far o’er the sea;
         Found a rock, built a ladder, and pleased Little B._

  III. THE COMET AND THE POLE STAR                                    42

         _On the sands of the seashore you learn what befell
         A bad little Comet.—Oh, it punished him well!_

   IV. OLD SOL’S MENAGERIE                                            65

         _The cages are safe, though you can’t see the bars;
         The Zodiac Circus,—Performers all Stars!_

    V. MAJOR                                                          80

         _Here comes a great Wagon. Ahoy! Who goes there?
         Did some one say, “Dipper”? Why!—’tis you, Mr. Bear!_

   VI. THE BEE BABY                                                   98

         _Were I seeking a spot that was safe for a babe, or
         To build me a cot, and would not lose my labor,
         I would not choose Xyntli, myself, for a neighbor!_

  VII. LADY MOON’S LANTERN                                           127

         _Rise, rise, Lady Moon! Soar high,—sail over!—
         Where is Bee Baby now? Shall I discover?_

 VIII. ANDROMEDA’S BIRTHDAY                                          133

         _Meteors are ripe! A touch makes them fly.
         I suspect there’ll be doings to-night in the Sky._

   IX. A SURPRISE PARTY                                              149

         _It was all Little Bear: (though they all said they all
         knew it!)
         But for him they’d have paid no attention at all to it._

    X. TRAVELERS’ TALES                                              171

         _Tip-top o’ the hill!—There’s the fit starting-place
         For a highflier journey through direful Space!_

   XI. TORQUILLON’S LAIR                                             192

         _His spirit was selfish, his ways impolite.
         Hey! Ships and Star People! Ye made a brave fight!_

       EPILOGUE                                                      230



                             ILLUSTRATIONS


 Star People and the Jane Ellen                           _Frontispiece_

 They watched with her                                                 4

 Tom Green’s Chanty                                                   26

 Everybody watched him go up and up                                   30

 “Oh, dear Taffy, let _me_ take care of the Sailor’s
   Star”                                                              38

 Draco                                                                46

 A more rascally comet you wouldn’t care to see                       50

 Orion                                                                56

 Orion’s Dogs and Little Bear                                         64

 “Shall we not walk together, sir?”                                   70

 Cassiopeia                                                           76

 “Why, I thought you were a wagon,” he said, “but where
   are your hortheth?”                                                86

 Andromeda                                                            98

 They thought only of their flight                                   116

 His wondering eyes looked from Lady Moon’s shoulder                 124

 The small round shadow passed on across the bright
   lantern of the moon                                               130

 Three Orions couldn’t have stopped them                             146

 Little Bear stopped by the bush                                     154

 He found Merope sitting alone                                       180

 The sisters were dancing—the very prettiest and most
   twirly of the “Sailor’s Knots”                                    190

 Down the channel he came flying                                     210

 Standing lightly on the yards, high, high in the air,
   the twin brothers Castor and Pollux                               216



                              STAR PEOPLE



                                   I
                      THE PRINCESS AND THE OTHERS


So they came to the place where the Princess was. And when they looked
down there were treetops—

But that is not a proper beginning when nobody knows who they were or
anything about it.

There were four of them,—the Princess and three Others.

What the Princess’s name was isn’t to be told, and she was not a real
princess. But that made no difference to the Others. She was the most
wonderful person they knew, and everything a princess should be, and
they loved her loyally.

The Others were called Prudence, Pat, and the Kitten; but the true name
of each one of them was the true name of the Princess,—that isn’t to be
told and doesn’t matter.

Prudence was the oldest, and very wise. (That was why she was Prudence,
but more often the Princess said, “Miss Phyllis-y.”) She had brown eyes,
clear and steady, and short hair. There was a perky little lock on one
side of the middle of her forehead that reminded the Princess of a
question mark. She was small and looked years younger than she was, and
that made her funny when she was so sagacious.

Pat was the tallest and the most impatient. (So they called her
“Patience”—because she wasn’t!—and shortened it to Pat.) She talked with
her eyebrows; and sometimes they would fairly frighten you if you didn’t
know she couldn’t do it! Her hair was braided and tied tight, but
usually a good deal of it escaped and ruffled before it reached the
braids. She was over nine and Miss Phyllisy was not far from twelve, and
they considered the Kitten extremely young,—which the Kitten didn’t
deny. She was young, and she had other kitten-tricks,—like coming and
sitting on a person’s knee without being invited when she wanted to, and
other times being very independent and going her own ways; and she made
soft little songs for herself,—that didn’t begin or end any more than a
real kitten’s,—and purring sounds instead of talking when she was
pleased. But she could talk faster than countless kittens when there was
any occasion for it.


That is who they were. And any one can fancy how they were frisking
about in the garden and out,—and the nearer it grew to bedtime, the
farther they kept from the house; and how they trailed up the crooked
path on the side of the hill,—the Kitten following along, making a song
for herself,—and finally came to the farthest, high, wild lookout place,
with a railing at the edge overlooking the dark treetops. And there they
found the Princess watching pale little stars coming out in the light
sky.

The Kitten didn’t come close until she was ready, and then she
immediately cuddled up, sleepy; but the Others went straight to the
Princess. She put her arm around them and they leaned against her, but
they didn’t talk, they watched with her. And more stars came out where
they looked steadily, and others came where they didn’t look, more than
they could count, all silent, to look back at them. And the Princess was
smiling to herself.—

But that didn’t suit Pat very long, it made her uneasy. First she
puckered her eyebrows, but nobody saw her; then she sighed, but nobody
noticed; then she spoke,—“What _are_ you looking at?”

The Princess still looked, but she squeezed with her arm. “Some people I
know. Friends of a friend of mine.”

Pat didn’t understand, so she grew wary (that was one of her ways). She
twitched her shoulder, but she wouldn’t be the next to speak—unless it
were too long!

“What people, Dearie?” asked Prudence, when they had waited a minute and
the Princess didn’t speak again.

“Most illustrious, highly exalted. A king and a queen, a royal dragon,
and an indispensable little bear—wonderfolk,” ended the Princess, as if
that explained it.

“You’re looking at the stars,” said Pat-who-would-n’t-be-imposed-upon.

“Star People, Pat. Can you guess now?”

“I think I can, Dearie. But you tell,” said Prudence.

The Princess took her arm away so she could point with it, and she put
her head down beside a dreadfully scowling little girl’s, so they could
look along and off the end of the same finger. It pointed where five
stars made a zigzag in the sky. She pointed to one after another.

[Illustration:

  THEY WATCHED WITH HER
]

“Look like a ‘W,’ don’t they, Pat?—But there’s another star—very
pale—and another off here. Now, see—tipped up—so—Isn’t that a pretty
good chair? How would you like to sit there and overlook things?”

“Cassiopeia wouldn’t let her,” said Prudence. “That’s Cassiopeia’s
Chair, Pat. She doesn’t allow any one to sit in it.”

“I don’t want to.” Pat spoke in a loud whisper.

“That is where you’re mistaken, Miss Phyllisy,” said the Princess. “She
wouldn’t mind a bit. But she is sitting there herself, this minute.”

“Really, Princess? I didn’t know that!”

“Did you ever see her out of it?” (Miss Phyllisy giggled.) “There is one
of the stars on her most loftical head. Do you see it?”

“Who said it was that?” asked Pat. Her manner was a trifle threatening,
but she was ready to be friends.

“Said what?”

“Cas—what you called it. Why did you call it that?”

“Cassiopeia’s Chair? That is what it was named long and long ago.”

“Long as Ancients?” (The Princess knew all about the Ancients,—several
kinds of them. She knew everything.)

“Long as that,” she answered. “They’re the very ones who named the Star
People for us, saw the figures in the stars, and gave them the names of
their own gods and heroes, animals,—all sorts of queer things. Useful
lives they led, those Star People, ever after.”

“How were they useful?” asked Phyllisy.

“To the sailors, Beloveds, most of all, or any one who wants to find his
way where there’s nothing on Earth to guide him. In the middle of the
most vastest ocean or the most widest plain, all they have to do is to
look up and see where the Star People are; then they’ll know where they
are themselves, and where to go to be somewhere else. Of course the Star
People can’t help any one who doesn’t know them,” she added.

“We don’t. We could be lost any time,” said Pat.

“You might have been once, but not after this. There’s a whole Royal
Family right before your eyes now: Queen Cassiopeia on her throne and
King Cepheus beside her and their pretty daughter, Andromeda.—That is
one of Cepheus’ stars—and there’s another.” The Princess drew lines with
her finger from the stars of the big “W” to the ones they wanted to
find. And the Others picked them out, passing from star to star like
crossing a brook, jumping from stone to stone. There were different
colors, too, to help them. The Princess saw them plainly,—red stars and
blue and yellow, and never before had the Others seen anything but all
alike and plain shining. At first they believed it only because the
Princess said so; then they began to see it themselves, but it was still
too light to see very well. And they found a few stars of Andromeda.

“There is a beautiful young hero who belongs with them,” said the
Princess. “He’s down below the treetops now; he will come up later. He
is Perseus,—the Rescuer. He helped the Cassiopeia family out of terrible
trouble when they were all Earth People.”

“Oh!” exclaimed Phyllisy. “Perseus-and-the-Gorgon?”

“No less. A friend of yours, Miss Phyllisy?”

Miss Phyllisy nodded, and Pat twisted her eyebrow.

“Well,—she’s eleven and nine months, and I’m only nine and seven
months,” she said, just as if she were arguing something.

“I only happened to, Pat,” said Phyllisy.

“She’ll tell you some time; then you’ll know him too,” said the
Princess. “I want to show you somebody splendid. Tip your heads up. Do
you see four stars that make a long diamond,—three brighter and one not
so bright at the point? That’s Draco’s head,—the great Dragon. See his
spiky wings lifted. His tail comes down this way. Look,—a curl,—so.” She
swung her finger around. “Isn’t he fine? Keep your eye right on him and
I’ll tell you who he is. He isn’t one of your common, everyday dragons
you meet so often.—Is your eye on him, Pat?”

Pat tipped her head up, then she tipped it down and nodded. The Princess
squeezed the young Other One, who was sleepy, in the hollow of her arm,
and began in a story-telling voice: “There was once a young man named
Jason, who had a great many adventures. One of them was when he set out
to bring home the fleece of a ram. (A ram is a grown-up lamb, Kitten.”
The Kitten made a funny little bleating noise, like a mother-cat; but
she was only partly awake.) “And this was a golden fleece. And it hung
on a tree all-by-alone, where any one might have stolen it,—ONLY, it was
guarded by a great dragon that lay curly at the foot of the tree, and
never closed his eyes, watching it. And that was the very identical
Dragon you’re looking at this minute.”

“Tell us what happened then, Dearie,—when he didn’t close his eyes,”
urged Phyllisy, after they had looked again at the Dragon.

“He _did_!” the Princess closed the words off—snap!—so they were tight
shut,—and the Others giggled. “Jason gave him some magic drops that put
him to sleep, and carried off the fleece.”

“What did they do to the Dragon when they found the fleece was gone?”

“I wasn’t exactly there, Phyllisy; but you may judge by this, they made
him a Star Person to reward him because he was a good reliable dragon
until he met a Bewitchment that he couldn’t help.—And he’s very happy
there in the Sky, half surrounding the indispensable Little Bear who
carries the Sailor’s Star on the tip of his tail. He’s still guarding
something very precious, you see.”

“You haven’t told us about the indispensable little bear,” said
Phyllisy.

“Tell about little bear,” the Kitten murmured.

“Tell us,” said Pat, coaxing the Princess’s hand up and down.

The Princess didn’t answer at once. She was looking up into the twinkly
blue—very far away—as if she were forgetting the Others. At last she
spoke: “Little Bear is a very special friend and friend’s friend. I’d
rather tell you about him another time,—when he isn’t listening.”

“Can he hear?” Pat whispered it.

“Surely,—and carry messages.”

“Will he do it?”

“He did,—brought me one and took one.”

“Oh-h,—what did he say?”

The Princess laid her fingers on her lips.

“Is it secrets?” asked Phyllisy.

“Long secrets.” Her voice smiled in the dusk. “But I’ll tell you the
Word of it,—‘Faithful.’”


The Sky was dark and deep and crowded with stars. They sat very still
and mysterious while a wind came out of Beyond. They could hear it
turning back the leaves in the treetops,—saying, “H—ss-sh—” as it passed
through, and all the stars winked.—


“Wake up, Kitten!” said the Princess.

But she didn’t have to wake up entirely, for the Princess held her hand
coming back, down the rocky steps and along the paths, and her feet
walked themselves.



                                   II
                           THE SAILOR’S STAR


Quite suddenly the Princess was there, at the head of the path where
four steps came down the terrace,—all silken and wonderful and growing
up into a rose at the top, that wasn’t a rose but a hat!

The Others dropped everything and ran, and she waited until they got
there and hung on her arms. And they walked around her to look at it in
the back.

“What kind of a party was it?” asked Pat.

“They were married and lived happy ever after, and there were
bridesmaids all in a row,” said the Princess. “So there wasn’t any more
to _that_;—and if anybody wanted me to tell them about how the Pole Star
happened, I should say this was the most suitable time.”

“It is for us, very convenient,” said Miss Phyllisy. “We’ll come this
minute.”

They waited while the Princess gathered up her skirt where it
trailed,—soft outside, but fluffy under,—and threw it over her arm, to
start fair: One, two, three, and away!

The Kitten won, because she truly ran very fast and she looked straight
ahead, but Pat wanted to see behind at the same time, to know if the
others were gaining.

By the Shadow Pool, they two watched the Princess with Prudence beside
her—very companionable—walking the last bit of it—across the little
bridge below, then turning up the dark path on the edge of the ravine,
with trees arching over from the hillside. Looking out the other way
through a gap in the trees, they could see—like a picture in a frame—the
steps coming down the terrace and the path curving down by the petunias,
all in the sun, then dropping away out of sight into the trees that it
came out of to cross the bridge.

In here it was cool and deep shade, in tall woods on the steep hillsides
that opened out like a “V.” There were rocks with maidenhair and moss in
the banks behind; and in the point of the “V”—higher than any one could
reach—a thin waterfall came over the edge of the rock, and fell a little
way, and slid the rest into the still pool with goldfish in it, and
others that were the same color as shadows in water and scarcely showed
unless they darted across. The water went on over another edge that was
made for it, and ran away at the bottom of the ravine,—hunting for the
sea; but the fishes lived there for always. There were seats around the
pool in convenient places where a tree or a rock made part of it and
twisted wood the rest. But there was one broad seat with a high twisted
back against the rocks behind, and a long flat rock before it for a
footstool, that was stately for the Princess.

She pulled out long pins,—curious ones, carved at the top,—and the hat
that wasn’t a rose, but grew up as if it were part of her, came off and
left her altogether finished without it, with coils on top.

And because the Princess was willing, Miss Phyllisy put it on her own
head. The Shadow Pool was a mirror, so she could see if it looked as if
it were growing there, and Pat looked with her. But Pat looked also at
the back of Miss Phyllisy’s head. “It ought to be more hair—done up,”
she said. Phyllisy twisted her head to see in the pool, and she put up
her hand and felt down her hair behind; it ended in a point in the
middle of her neck,—the locks crossing in from the sides,—like a very
small duck’s tail, about an inch. The Kitten slipped her finger under
and turned up the lock, and it curved around the finger.

So Phyllisy took the hat off and they put it carefully where it wouldn’t
fall, and “would be all right, Dearie,”—and they settled down in their
most usual places: Phyllisy, where she could look into the pool from
across and see the Princess upside down; Pat, in the narrow seat in the
crotch between two trees,—but she would move to another pretty soon,
because she always did,—and the Kitten, sitting on her foot in the seat
next largest to the Princess’s.


“It is about the last, youngest Star Person of all; and how there came
to be the Pole Star,” said the Princess.

“We’ve told the Kitten what she didn’t hear, all she could
understand;—so you won’t have to plan about that,” said Prudence.

“I could understand before,” said the Kitten. “I heard, too,—myself.”

“Oh, Dearie,”—Prudence had “Dearies” to spare for others beside the
Princess,—“you were asleep, and you couldn’t be expected to understand
it all; you’re such a little girl—under seven.”

“I’m going to tell it most particularly to you, Kitten. Now, see if you
don’t,” said the Princess.

She leaned a little forward on the stately seat, her elbow on her knee,
and the silken folds fallen down on the broad stone. She looked for a
long moment, her eyes shining straight out. And then she began:—

“Once upon a time, so long ago that nobody can remember when, a
beautiful ship was sailing along under a spanking breeze with all sails
set. The name of the ship was the Jane Ellen, and she was named for the
Captain’s wife. At her prow was the figure of a mermaid, with long
waving hair; and the head of the mermaid was like the head of the
Captain’s wife. But that was when she was young. Now she sat at home and
knit; but to the Captain she looked just like the lovely mermaid, and he
kept the Jane Ellen spick and span from truck to keel,—the finest ship
afloat, as she was the best of wives.”

(No one could tell stories as the Princess told them. The things she
told she knew so well, it was as if she were seeing them, and words were
waiting for her and came orderly, just as she needed them to make it
plain.)

“Now, as the ship was sailing along on this fine starlight night, and
everything favorable, the Captain in his cabin felt a great jolt, then a
s-scrape, and the ship leaned away over, and everything that could slid
down to one side. The next minute it tilted the other way, and most of
them slid back again, and then the ship went on as before.

“The Captain jumped up and put his head out of the cabin window and
looked fore and aft along the deck. He saw a man coming toward him, and
called, very sharply, ‘Mr. Morganwg!’[1]

Footnote 1:

  He called it “Morgan-_ough_,” but he was particular about the
  spelling.

“It was the Mate of the Jane Ellen. He was young and big, and he had
gray eyes and black hair and heavy black eyebrows that almost met over
his eyes, and he could look very stern, but his eyes laughed; and he
could sing, and if he had had time, he could have played on a harp,
because he was a Welshman, and his name was Taffy. But he didn’t have
time, because if you are mate of a ship like the Jane Ellen, you have a
great deal to do, and have to be everywhere at once, to see that things
are done as the Captain wants them.

“‘What was that?’ asked the Captain.

“‘We struck on Porpoise Rock, sir,’ said Taffy.

“‘Who’s steering?’

“‘Nelson.’

“‘Well?—he knew the rock was there, didn’t he? It’s marked on his chart
plain enough. There’s no excuse, a bright starlight night like this.’

“‘Yes, he knew it,’ said the Mate, ‘but he says he didn’t make enough
allowance for the stars moving. He says if there were _one_ star, only,
that he could depend on to be in the same place every night, it would be
all right.’

“‘Well, there isn’t,’ said the Captain.

“‘I know it,’ answered the Mate. ‘But you know yourself, it’s confusing
to steer by them.’ Taffy spoke quite respectfully, but he often made
suggestions to the Captain when no one was listening, and the Captain
loved him like his own son.”

“Do they move?” asked Pat.

“Yes,” said Phyllisy. “Don’t you know?—rise and set.”

Pat looked at the Princess to see if that was what she meant, and she
nodded, and went on:—

“‘H’m!’ said the Captain. ‘You go and drop anchor right now. I won’t
have any more paint scraped off from this ship. Then you come here and
we’ll talk it over. Something’s got to be done.’

“‘Very well, sir,’ said Taffy, touching his cap. And a few minutes later
a great quivering and trembling went through the ship as the anchor
chains slid out; and then they lay quiet, rocking gently on the waves,
and everybody went to bed except the Lookout and the Captain and the
Mate.

“No one knows just what was said in the Captain’s cabin, or whether he
or Taffy made the suggestion, but this is what happened:—

“The next morning, just before sunrise, the Mate stepped out of his
cabin and walked for’ard. He leaned over the fo’c’s’le hatch, which
stood open, and called, ‘Bos’n!’

“‘Ay, ay, sir,’ answered the Bos’n from below. The next minute he stood
beside Taffy on the deck.

“‘Assemble ships!’ ordered the Mate.

“‘Ay, ay, sir,’ said the Bos’n again. He had a whistle hanging from a
string around his neck that he used for a signal to the sailors, but he
didn’t use that now. Instead he took from a pocket inside his shirt
another whistle. It was no larger than the first, but when he put it to
his lips and blew,—the sound was so high and clear it seemed as if it
must go all around the world! And before very long,—just as if it had
gone, and was broken up on the way, and was coming back in little
pieces,—from every direction came a faint, thin little answering
whistle.

“And then the Captain and the Mate and the second Mate and the four
Quartermasters and the Bos’n and the sailors and the cook and the cabin
boy—who were all on deck by this time—saw appearing, one by one, on the
horizon, little specks, that as they came nearer, showed themselves to
be ships of all descriptions,—schooners and brigs and barkentines and
barks and frigates and luggers and full-rigged ships. And every time one
of the little specks appeared the Lookout would call from the masthead,
‘Sail ho!’ and the Captain would say, ‘Where away?’ and the Lookout
would answer, ‘Two points on the weather-bow,’ or wherever it happened
to be.

“All the morning long, all these different kinds of ships tacked and
jibed and went about and missed stays and luffed and beat to wind’ard,
and in all these ways drew nearer and nearer, until, just as the
Quartermaster made it seven bells, the last one of them hove to, and the
Jane Ellen lay surrounded by fifty-two ships of every kind you ever
saw,—but none so fine as she!

“Then from the peak of the Jane Ellen fluttered a string of little
flags,—red and yellow and white and green,—and the little flags said to
the captains of the other ships, ‘Will you please come aboard the Jane
Ellen?’ Then from every ship a boat put out, and was rowed to the side
of the Jane Ellen, where a rope-ladder was let down to the water’s edge.
Her Captain stood on the deck by the rail, with the Mate standing by,
and shook hands with every captain as he came over the side, and said,
‘I’m glad to see you, sir!’

“When they all had come aboard and were assembled on the hurricane deck
the Captain made them a speech, while the Mate went and told the cook to
‘look alive with lunch, to have it ready when the “Old Man” gets through
with the powwow!’

“This is the Captain’s speech: ‘I suppose you wonder why I called you
together? Perhaps you noticed a big mar on the Jane Ellen’s bows, where
the good new paint is scraped off?’ All the other captains nodded. ‘That
happened last night,’ said our Captain. ‘We ran on Porpoise Rock; and my
quartermaster, Nelson, said he ran a-foul of it because he didn’t make
enough allowance for the stars moving. I’ve got as good quartermasters
as any ship afloat, but I know—you all know—that kind of thing happens
to all of us.’ The captains nodded again. ‘The trouble isn’t with the
man at the wheel, it’s just here,’—and the Captain struck the palm of
one hand with the forefinger of the other several times, and they all
looked at it to see what it was,—‘He hasn’t the right kind of stars to
steer by!’ The captains all looked up at the sky, and blinked, because
it was just noon and the sun was very bright, and then looked at one
another, and one of them said, ‘What kind of stars could we have? We’ve
got all there are.’

“‘Oh, these _stars_ are all right, but they move about so! Night after
night they go ’round and around! A man is almost too old to take his
trick at the wheel before he learns to make allowance for it. Now, we’ve
been fair and honest, and we’ve steered by these stars—and sworn by
them—as long as there have been ships and sailors, and the Star People
ought to do something to help us out. So I propose to send some one to
put it to them fairly, and see if they can’t keep one star always in the
same place. Then we could start from that, and know where we were.’

“‘How are you going to get up there?’ asked the same captain who had
spoken before.

“‘We’ll show you after lunch,’ said the Captain of the Jane Ellen. ‘That
is, if you all agree?’

“The other captain asked, ‘Do you all agree?’ and they all nodded.

“Then the other captain said, ‘Three cheers for the Skipper!’ and
fifty-_one_ captains shouted, ‘Hurrah!’ three times. So that was
settled, and they went down to the cabin for lunch.”

“What did they have?” asked the Kitten.

“Plum duff,—full of raisins,” said the Princess.

“Did they like it?” asked Pat.

“You’d have thought so if you’d seen them. Every one took a second
helping until Taffy was almost discouraged. He was in a hurry to be
through. But at last they were finished and back on the deck to hear
what the Captain had to propose.

“‘Now,’ said the Captain, ‘we shall have to borrow your masts and some
anchors.’ They nodded, and the Captain called; ‘Mr. Morganwg! You may
set to work.’

“‘At once, sir,’ said Taffy, and called, ‘Bos’n!’

“‘Ay, ay, sir,’ said the Bos’n, running up.

“‘Call the men,’ ordered the Mate.

“The Bos’n blew his ordinary whistle, and at the same time the captains
began to go over the side of the Jane Ellen to return to their own
ships. They all looked very smiling and good-natured but one man,—the
one who hadn’t cheered.

“When it came his turn to say good-by, he just humped up his shoulder
and growled, and then he turned around and said, very loud, ‘The rest of
you can do as you like, but I’m blowed if you take _my_ mainmast for any
such foolishness!’ Then he went down the side of the ship and was rowed
away.

“The captains who heard him looked perfectly disgusted, and Taffy said
to his captain, ‘Shall I attend to him, sir?’

“‘Yes!’ said the Captain, and they all nodded.

So, before they did anything else, Taffy and the Bos’n and his men went
to the rude Skipper’s ship (it was a brigantine, the Wandering Willie),
and they set all the sails, and tied the ropes in hard knots instead of
just belaying them, as every one knows is seamanlike. Then they weighed
the anchor, and got off as quickly as they could,—and off went the
Wandering Willie! And it had gone only a little way when the wind
changed, and the Skipper shouted in the roughest voice, ‘Ease ’er off!’
And when the sailors tried, they couldn’t untie the knots, and the ship
keeled over, farther and farther, until, all at once, she turned bottom
up, and every one had to swim back to the other ships! The crew were
glad of it, because they were better off; and the rude captain, who
couldn’t swim very well, had to be thankful to be pulled aboard and
allowed to ship before the mast on the Jane Ellen. And he learned in
time to be a very good sailor.”

“That was just right for him,” said Pat.

“That’s what I think,” said the Princess. “But while all this was
happening, the work was going on on all the ships. The first thing they
did, they brought twenty-four large anchors, and anchored the Jane
Ellen, twelve on a side and her own two at the bows, so she couldn’t
even wabble. Then they drew up all the other ships in a long line, one
after another, with a space between, and unstepped the mainmast of every
ship. When every ship had her mainmast lying on the deck, beginning with
the Jane Ellen, they spliced them all together, the top of one to the
bottom of the next one. It took them all that afternoon and part of the
next morning to do it.

“Meanwhile, other sailors had brought twenty mizzen-masts to the Jane
Ellen, and, one after another, they were carried up her mizzen-mast and
spliced to the top of the one below. When they were all in place some
hoisting-tackle was made fast to the top, pulley-ropes were run through
it and carried out over the other ships and fastened to the spliced
mainmasts, about a third of their length away.

“By this time it was four bells in the afternoon, and everybody was
pretty tired, so the Captain said they might rest for an hour, all
except the cook, and he had to serve out grog. So all the seamen had
their grog, and lay around on the deck and looked up at the tall
mizzen-mast and the hoisting-tackle, and thought what a good captain
they had, and that the Jane Ellen was the finest ship afloat.

“Six bells had hardly finished striking when the Mate jumped down from
the rail where he had been sitting, and called, ‘Bos’n!’

“The Bos’n sprang up and said, ‘Ay, ay, sir!’

“‘Pipe the men aft,’ ordered the Mate.

“‘Ay, ay, sir,’ said the Bos’n again, and blew his whistle.

“The seamen all jumped up nimbly and came trooping aft to the foot of
the mizzen-mast. There some of them brought a winch, and some more
arranged the pulley-ropes and passed them around the winch, and carried
them fore and aft, and arranged more tackle around the heel of the
mainmast, and did a great many things to them that I don’t know anything
about, but the Mate did, for he directed it all, without stopping even
to think. And the Captain came and looked on, and he looked as proud as
if he had done it himself!

“At last everything seemed to be done, and Taffy asked, ‘Are you all
ready, Bos’n?’

“‘Just waiting for Tom Green to sing the chanty, sir,’ said he. And in a
minute, Tom Green came.

“He wasn’t a very large sailor, but he had one blue and one brown eye,
and red and blue anchors and ships and stars and a weeping-willow
tattooed on his arms; and he wore his sleeves rolled up high to show
them. And he stood up on a water cask in the stern, and the sailors all
stood ready, in long lines, with the ropes in their hands.

“Then the Mate said, ‘Are you ready, Bos’n?’ and the Bos’n said, ‘Ay,
ay, sir!’

“‘Then, hoist away!’ ordered the Mate.

“The Bos’n blew his whistle, and Tom Green began to sing the chanty, and
this is how it began:—

               (_Tom_) “We have left our happy home,
                       On the ocean for to roam.”

           (_Sailors_) “Yeo, ho! Away we go!
                       Round the world and back again.—
                       Yeo—heave-_ho_!”

               (_Tom_) “And our wives and sweethearts dear,
                       May not see for more’n a year.”

           (_Sailors_) “Fair winds! White sails flowing free,
                       Blue water ’neath our keel,—
                       That’s the life for _me_!”

[Illustration:

            TOM GREEN’S CHANTY

  TOM.

  We have left our hap-py home,
  On the o-cean for to roam.

  REFRAIN.

  SAILORS.

  Yeo-ho! A-way we go!
  Round the world and back a-gain,
  Yeo, heave ho!

  TOM.

  And our wives and sweet-hearts dear
  May not see for more’n a year.

  SAILORS.

  Fair winds, white sails flow-ing free,
  Blue wa-ter ’neath our keel,
  That’s the life for me!
]

The Princess laughed with her eyes at the Others, while she held the
last long note until it seemed to die away in the woods, and they
laughed back, but they didn’t speak, and she went on, quite seriously:—

“I give you only one verse of it, but there were ninety-three, and it
told all about their life on the ocean wave and what they wanted to do,
and Tom Green made most of it up as he went along,—so perhaps he worked
as hard as any of them!

“Now, every time when they sung the refrain, the sailors all pulled
together on the ropes, and little by little—inch by inch, almost—the
great long mainmast rose in the air. And on all the other ships the
sailors stood watching, because they had nothing else to do, and they
all joined in the chanty, and the sound of it mounted up through the
clouds. There never was a chanty like it since the world began!

“It had been bright, sunshiny weather when the work began, but all the
afternoon the clouds had gathered until the sky was completely overcast,
like a solid roof of gray, and when the mast rose up, about one quarter
of it pierced the clouds. At last it stood, straight and tall, the heel
firmly fixed on the step above the deck of the Jane Ellen, and the top
hidden from sight in the cloud roof, and a shout went up that must have
reached the heavens! Then everybody drew a long breath, and went to
rest, and waited for it to be quite dark.”

The Princess paused. “Perhaps you, yourselves, would like to stop and
hear the rest another time?” she suggested. But they were sure they
wouldn’t. So, after only a moment, while Pat changed to another place,
she went on:—

“When it was time, and every one was on deck (the other captains had
come aboard again), the Captain of the Jane Ellen looked up at the great
tall mast, going up and up until it went out of sight in the clouds, and
he said to the other captains, ‘Whom shall I send up to talk to the Star
People?’ And the other captains said, very decidedly, ‘You’ll have to
send an able seaman.’

“So the Bos’n picked out the very best able seaman there was, and he
stepped out before the captains. He swayed his body when he walked, and
hitched up his trousers, and he could dance a hornpipe better than any
man aboard, and wrap his leg four times around a rope when he climbed.
He was just the man to climb to the top of that great tall mast.

“The Captain looked at the Able Seaman, and said, ‘You go aloft there;
and when you get to the top, you tell the Star People you want to talk
to their captain. Do you understand?’

“The Able Seaman pulled his forelock and said, ‘Ay, ay, sir,’ and the
Captain went on: ‘You tell him, we want _one star_ that we can depend
on, to steer by. We’ve steered by them ever since there were ships, and
they move about all the time, and we can’t stand it any longer! We’ve
done the fair thing by them, and now they can do the fair thing by us,
or by Jiminy! we’ll throw the whole lot of ’em over, and they’ll be out
of a job!—Do you understand?’

“The Able Seaman pulled his forelock and said, ‘Ay, ay, sir.’

“‘Then, up you go!’ and the Able Seaman turned away and came to the foot
of the great tall mast.

“There were two ropes that ran from the top to the bottom. He wound his
leg four times around one of them, and took hold of the other and began
to climb. And everybody watched him go up and up, and grow smaller and
smaller until he wasn’t nearly so large as a fly. And then he went clear
out of sight in the clouds. And they couldn’t have seen him at all, any
of the way, if they hadn’t thrown a strong light on him as he went up.

“Then—though there was nothing to see, and their necks ached—nobody
could take his eyes from the spot where he disappeared. And before very
long they saw a little speck, smaller than a fly, appear again and come
down the great tall mast,—so tall it took thirty-eight minutes to come
down from the place where it entered the cloud. The captains hardly
could wait for him to get down.

“‘What did you find?’ asked the Captain.

“‘A lot of Star People—I dunno who they was,’ answered the Able Seaman.

“‘Well,—what did they say?’

“‘They wanted to know what that singin’ was, this afternoon.’

“‘But what did they say about the _star_?’

“‘I didn’t ask ’em.’

“‘Didn’t ask them!’

“‘No. I come back to ask what to say about the singin’. You didn’t tell
me that.’

“‘_Thunder!_’ said the Captain. ‘Did you come clear down here to ask me
that? You get back, as quick as ever you can, and tell them what I said.
Of course you’re to answer a civil question!’

“‘Ay, ay, sir,’ said the Able Seaman without winking; and he climbed up
the mast again. And all the captains watched him as before, only their
necks ached a little harder.

[Illustration:

  EVERYBODY WATCHED HIM GO UP AND UP
]

“He was gone a trifle longer, and then back he came. It only took
thirty-six minutes this time, because he was more used to it (beside the
time it took to go up, of course, and the time he was above the clouds).

“‘Well?’ said the Captain.

“‘I tol’ ’em it was the chanty. And I asked to speak to the captain, an’
a big man said they hadn’t no captain,—they’re a Republic.’

“‘Then what?’ asked the Captain, as the Able Seaman paused.

“‘Then, I didn’t know who to ask for,—so I—’

“‘Thunder-_ation_!’ cried the Captain. ‘Did you come clear down here
again, to ask me _that_? You go back—quick—and don’t you come down again
till you finish your errand!’ And the Able Seaman said, ‘Ay, ay,
sir,’—and all the other captains looked at each other and said,
‘_Thunderation!_’ or some other word that meant the same thing.

“Then the Able Seaman climbed up the mast again, and nearly all of them
watched him. But some of the captains who had short necks couldn’t watch
another minute, until one of them lay down on his back on the deck; then
a good many of them did the same thing, and were more comfortable.

“And this time he was gone a long time—so long, the Captain was just
going to send up the second-best able seaman to see what was the matter,
when they saw him coming down. It took a little longer, because the leg
of his trousers caught in the third twist of the rope, and he had to
unwrap his leg and twist it around again. It took forty-one minutes this
time, and it seemed _forever_ to the captains! Three or four of them
waited at the foot of the mast, and caught at him as he slid down.

“‘What did they say?’—‘Will they do it?’—they asked eagerly.

“The Able Seaman breathed hard. ‘You wait a minute—till I get—my
breath.’

“They waited. Finally the Captain said: ‘Now?’ and the Able Seaman
pulled his forelock and said: ‘I tol’ ’em, sir,—just as you said,—an’
they all talked an’ talked—’

“‘_Who_ talked?’ asked the Captain.

“‘I dunno their names. I ain’t no navigator.—There was the big man, an’
a woman sittin’ in a chair, an’ another man, and a feller with a head in
his hand—all snakes!—an’ a big dragon kep’ pokin’ his blame head in all
the time,—an’ some more people; an’ they all talked to onc’t.’

“‘What did they say? Will they give us the star?’

“‘I can’t make out,’ said the Able Seaman. ‘I guess they was willin’,
but they didn’t seem to know what to do, and they was quarrelin’ about
who’d do it.’

“The Captain looked around. ‘Mr. Morganwg!’ he said. (The Mate was there
almost before he spoke.) ‘It’s no use. You’ll have to go.’

“‘Certainly, sir,’ said Taffy, and his eyes shone when he said it, and
he turned and walked to the foot of the mast.

“He weighed two hundred and eleven pounds, but he walked so lightly his
feet seemed hardly to touch the deck; and when he sprang into the ropes
and began to go up the mast, he made the Able Seaman look like an
apprentice! And the captains all stood and watched him, and they were so
pleased and so sure it would be all right, their necks almost forgot to
ache.”

“He wanted to go,” said Phyllisy, when the Princess paused.

“He’d better have gone before, and saved all that time,” observed Pat.

But the Princess said nothing for a moment. Then she went on with the
story: “Up and up climbed Taffy, higher and higher, until it seemed to
him a thick cloud came down and wrapped him about so he could see only a
few feet ahead of him. But he knew it didn’t come down at all. It was he
who had climbed up into the clouds. So he kept steadily on, and very
soon it began to grow thin; and as he came out of it he saw a sight that
almost took his breath away, and made him lose his hold of the rope. But
he wouldn’t even look, but kept climbing on until he reached the top of
the fifty-second mast, and with one leg wrapped easily around one rope,
and his elbow resting on the gilt ball on the top of the mast, and his
chin in his hand, he was as comfortable as a boy in an apple tree. Now
he had time to look about him,—and he could take it, for the Star People
were so busy talking among themselves they hadn’t seen him come.

“Two persons seemed to be the centre of the group. One was a tall,
splendid man with a sword on his belt and a shaggy lion’s hide hanging
carelessly over his arm. Set in his belt and on his head and in the
clasp around his knee were great blazing stars, and two dogs were at his
heels.”

“Orion,” said Phyllisy, “I used to know him ages ago.”

The Princess nodded: “Yes. Taffy knew him at once.—The person to whom he
was talking was a beautiful lady (not so very young), who sat in a
massive, star-jeweled chair, and was alternately crying and scolding,
while a man, evidently her husband, leaned over the chair and tried to
quiet her. Near by stood a young man, looking very sulky; and from his
hand swung a curious object. It was a woman’s head, with snakes instead
of hair.”

“_Snakes?_” said Pat, her voice sliding up and down on it.

“_Snakes_,” said the Princess, firmly.

“For pitysakes!”

“They had once been quite stiff and wriggly snakes, and had stood up on
end, each one of them, and squirmed, but now they were limp and raggy.
And Taffy didn’t wonder when he saw how Perseus was absent-mindedly
swinging it by one or another of the snakes, and letting it wind up and
unwind again around his finger.

“Like Orion and his dogs, these people and others who crowded near were
studded and decked with shining stars; and it was by their stars, that
he knew so well, that Taffy recognized these Star People in their
unaccustomed places.

“‘Yes, I _could_!’ the lady in the chair was saying. ‘And he isn’t the
one to say, anyway!’

“‘What’s the matter?’ asked Taffy; and they all jumped, and then all
began talking at once, so he couldn’t understand a word they said.

“‘Hus-sh!’ he said, holding up his hand. And they gradually stopped
talking, all but Orion. (And Cassiopeia kept on saying things to her
husband—but that didn’t count.)

“‘Who are you?’ asked Orion.

“‘I’m the Mate of the Jane Ellen,’ said Taffy. ‘And I want to know
what’s the trouble. It doesn’t seem much to ask for—just one star.’

“‘No,’ answered Orion, ’it doesn’t. And we’re all willing. But who is
going to hold that star?—and how are we going to know it’s always in the
same spot?’

“‘I should think you might agree about that easily enough,’ said Taffy.

“‘Well, we can’t,’ said Orion. ‘I can’t do it; I have other things to
attend to.’

“‘And you won’t let any one else!’ broke in Cassiopeia. ‘You know how I
just sit in my chair, and I’d love to hold it.’

“‘She can’t,’ said Orion. ‘Pretty thing for a woman to do!’

“‘I’m not a woman,’ observed Perseus.

“‘Don’t you say another word!’ said Cassiopeia. (‘And stop twirling that
Gorgon!—You make me nervous.) You know perfectly well, you have to keep
away the monster from my darling child.’

“Perseus said no more, but he looked sulkier than ever.

“‘No, he can’t,’ said Orion. ‘And beside that, you’re used to seeing us
move about. Now if one of us gives up his own place, it will mix you all
up.’

“‘That’s true,’ said Taffy. And just as he spoke, something rubbed
against his hand,—something that sent a little prickly shock through him
at first, and at the same time, the very softest thing he ever had felt
or imagined.

“He looked down and saw a little bear—but such a little bear! His long
fur was, in color, a beautiful blue-gray, and the tip of each hair
seemed to have been dipped in moonlight or powdered with star-dust, for
it shone and glinted in the starlight as he moved; and his eyes twinkled
like two little stars themselves; and curiously enough for a little
bear, he had a great long tail. And unlike any of the Star People, he
hadn’t a star on him anywhere.

“‘Hello, little one!’ said Taffy. ‘What are you doing here?’ And he bent
down to stroke Little Bear. Little Bear leaned against his leg; and as
his hand sank in the soft, soft fur, and again the electric tingles ran
up his arm, it was as if they took the message to his brain: ‘Oh, dear
Taffy, let _me_ take care of the Sailor’s Star!’

“It came so clearly to him, Taffy spoke again: ‘Would you really like
it?’—and the answer came, like a long, ‘Oh-h!’ of rapture.

“‘See here,’ said Taffy to the Star People. ‘Why don’t you let this
little chap have it? That would settle it.’

“‘Little Bear?’ said everybody. Then everybody looked at everybody else,
and said, ‘Why not?’—because they all loved Little Bear; and they were
glad to find a way to settle the dispute and stop talking.

“Taffy told them what to do; and Cassiopeia was the first one to take a
lovely star from the back of her dress, where it never had been seen by
the sailors and wouldn’t be missed; and they all agreed that, if she
couldn’t hold the Sailor’s Star herself, she should be the one to give
it. And they fastened that star on the very tip of Little Bear’s tail.
Then Orion and Perseus and the Big Dragon, who came and looked on, and
the rest of them gave more stars to fasten on Little Bear, and he stood
pressed against Taffy’s knee while they did it; and his fur sparkled and
shone and his two bright eyes twinkled, bright as any of the stars,
while little electric thrills of pleasure and gratitude ran to Taffy’s
heart as his hand stroked the beautiful fur that was softer than
anything in the whole World!

“‘There!’ said Orion, as he fastened the last star and pushed one of the
dogs back with his foot, while Little Bear growled, a soft small growl.
‘He’s fine as a birthday cake! Now I want to know how you are going to
be sure that star is always in the right place?’

“‘Easy enough!’ said Taffy. ‘You know where the North Pole is, don’t
you?’

[Illustration:

  “OH, DEAR TAFFY, LET _ME_ TAKE CARE OF THE SAILOR’S STAR”
]

“‘Of course we do,’ said Orion, and the other Star People echoed: ‘Of
course!’

“‘Then, all Little Bear has to do is to keep the star directly over that
Pole. And he’ll do it,’ said Taffy, laying his hand on Little Bear’s
head—and the message thrilled through it: ‘Oh, I will, dear Taffy! The
Sailor’s Star shall never wander!’

“When the Mate stepped on to the deck of the Jane Ellen it was almost
morning, and all the captains who weren’t asleep had such stiff necks
they hardly could turn their heads to look at him. And when he touched
his cap and said to the Captain of the Jane Ellen: ‘It’s all arranged,
sir,’ they were so worn out they were glad to go back to their own ships
and go to bed without asking a single question. It wouldn’t have been
any use if they had, for the Captain took Taffy straight into his own
cabin and shut the door; and that was the last any one saw of them that
night.

“The next morning every one was as busy as a bee; and they worked so
fast that before evening every mast had been put back, and the
twenty-four anchors returned to their own ships, and they were all ready
to sail.

“During the afternoon the clouds had broken up, and the sun went down in
a clear sky. As darkness fell, the crew of each ship assembled on the
deck, with every eye fixed on the Northern sky.

“Taffy stood beside the Captain of the Jane Ellen while the rose-red
faded into yellow, and palest green, and violet, and a few large stars
came out, one by one. Then,—faint at first, then, brighter and
brighter,—the stars that told Taffy Little Bear was at his post! And a
great shout went up from all the ships, that must have reached the sky!
It seemed to Taffy that the stars glowed brighter, and he could almost
feel the touch of soft fur, softer than anything in the world, and a
little thrill went to his heart, that said: ‘You see, Taffy dear, I’m
here!’

“Then the fifty-two ships set sail in every direction, and the Jane
Ellen was alone once more. And all night long, as she went on her way,
whenever Taffy looked up at the Northern sky, the Sailor’s Star hung
over the Pole. But Little Bear swung slowly, slowly around it, watching,
watching the ships that were sailing to all quarters of the world. And
on every ship the sailors said:—

“‘God bless the Little Bear!’”


As the Princess came to the end the children grew very still. When she
had spoken the last word no one stirred for a moment. Then they all
stirred at once. The Kitten slid off from her big chair and came
straight across to sit on the Princess’s silken knee, and the Others
with her, to crowd as close as they could,—to talk about it and ask all
the questions they had saved for the end, not to interrupt the story.
And they had a great deal to say, and had saved a great many questions.

“You did understand, didn’t you, Kitten?” said the Princess. “I knew you
would.”

The Kitten nodded, and wriggled on the Princess’s knee. “Could you feel
it prickle?” she asked.

“‘Little thrills,’ she means,” Phyllisy suggested.

“Um-m,” said the Kitten. “That night—you said he brought a message.”

“But you were asleep,” said the Princess.

“I heard. Would it hurt?”

“No, indeed! It was a little warm thrill that went to my heart.”

“The same as Taffy,” said Pat.

“Just the same,” said the Princess.

Then Miss Phyllisy brought her the rosy hat, and she pinned it on; for
there were long shadows across the sloping lawn and the petunia bed;
only the high steps down the terrace were still in the sun.



                                  III
                      THE COMET AND THE POLE STAR


“How did they fasten the stars on him?” asked the Kitten. She didn’t say
who “he” was, but they knew, though it was quite another time.

“With a half-hitch and another half-hitch, then belay,” said the
Princess, promptly. “Much better than sewing them, or pins. Don’t you
think so?”

“Pins would stick him,” agreed the Kitten.

“Whereabouts did they fasten them?” asked Pat.

The Princess reached out her arm and picked a narrow pointed shell out
from the hard sand. It lay broad and brown between them and the gray
sea, worrying, whiteand-green at the other edge. Out over the sea
whitish-gray fog was waiting all around in a circle. It went up and
joined the gray sky over; and a salt smell blew out of it.

She began to draw in the sand with the pointed shell, and the Others
watched it grow. She began at his head and worked back, quickly.

“Is it going to be Little Bear?” asked Pat.

“Yes,” said the Princess. “But I can’t make it really a likeness.”

“You could, Dearie, if you had a pencil and paper,” said Phyllisy.
“Nobody could, in the sand with a shell.”

“It’s like him the way the map is America,” said Pat. “More—_much_.”

“Now make the stars,” said the Kitten, when she drew his last foot.

“No,” said the Princess. “You must do that.—Who’ll give a star to Little
Bear?”

“What shall we give?” asked Pat. But the Kitten spied a clear, shiny
pebble, and she didn’t need to be told; she pounced at it quickly, and
purred when the Princess took it from her.

“‘And they fastened that star on the very tip of Little Bear’s tail,’”
quoted Phyllisy. “Now we must all give stars.”

So they scurried over the sand and brought suitable pebbles to the
Princess,—and some of them were shells,—and she showed them where to
place them, where he truly wore them; but they placed only the principal
ones, because it was a sketch, not a likeness.

“But you don’t _see_ even this—of a bear—in the sky?” said Pat,
doubtfully. It wasn’t as easy for her to make believe as it was for
Phyllisy. Phyllisy loved it. As for the Kitten, it was no trouble for
her; real or make-believe, it was all alike.

“No, indeed,” said Phyllisy, explaining to Pat, and perfectly familiar
with it. “Just the stars of him, and play the rest. When it’s night,
we’ll look, and see if we can find them ourselves.”

“You can’t when it’s cloudy,” said Pat. “And it’s cloudy to-night—will
be.”

“And the Star People will have a holiday,” said the Princess.

“Will they?” asked the Others, though she had just said it.

“Sure as sure. When it’s a cloudy night and the sailors couldn’t see
them wherever they were, they may go where they like.”

“They might go where they like in the daytime,” said the Kitten.

“So they might. But you have to sleep some time, Kit. And if you have to
stay up all night to be looked at, you’d better take a long nap in the
daytime. So, when it begins to be light, the Star People just quietly
fade away in their places, then when night comes they wake up, fresh as
daisies.”

“Suppose some time they would go off, and it was a clear night—and they
moved around?” said Pat.

“I couldn’t imagine anything so dreadful,—nor the Star People, either!
Don’t you fancy, because they haven’t any captain, that they have
nothing to obey.”

“What?”

“They have _Law_!—and that’s something every one of them obeys without a
single word, or ever stopping to argue. When anything is the Rule of the
Sky, that ends it.—Unless you’re a comet.”

“Oh, comets!” exclaimed Phyllisy.” What do they do?”

“What don’t they do?” corrected the Princess. “They’re silly. Just a
head, with the wildest, fuzziliest hair,”—she drew on the sand as she
talked,—“that never _saw_ a hairbrush—and tails!—switching and flying
and spreading over everything and curling around!—and, as if one such
tail weren’t bad enough, some of them must have two!”

The Princess stopped drawing, because the sand was filled up with
comets, as far as she could reach. “That one is like the Kitten,” said
Pat. “Yours would be, if it weren’t braided,” the Kitten answered.

“Only in looks, I’m sure,” said the Princess, politely. “The Star People
try to be charitable, and when they hear of some fresh bad thing one of
those flyaways has done, they say: ‘He doesn’t know enough to be good;’
and they don’t talk about it any more. But when any really horrid
mischief is done, it’s always when a comet or two has been around.”

“What did one do?—some mischief,” Pat suggested.

“I should think you’d all rather hear about somebody good,” said the
Princess. But the Others giggled—and wouldn’t.

“Make some more Star People while you consider, Dearie,” urged Phyllisy.

So the Princess moved along the sand (and they were glad it was a good,
gray day, not glaring), and she drew more, the same way as Little Bear.
They didn’t try to be likenesses, but you would know whom they were
meant for,—Cassiopeia and the Dragon and Orion and more,—and the Others
put in the stars. It used a great many pebbles and shells, though they
put in only the principal ones. But they ought to be pretty ones, so
they went a good way off to find them.

[Illustration:

  DRACO

  “This is the way Draco looked, guarding the Golden Fleece, except his
    expression. He had to look fierce then, but he always had a sweet
    nature.—You’ll observe that he has no teeth. He did have, but Jason
    took them. He threw the magic drops straight into Draco’s jaws when
    they were gaping open to swallow him, and the Dragon went so
    immediately to sleep that he hadn’t even time to close his mouth.
    Then Jason took, not only the fleece, but his teeth; because he
    always liked to have a few dragon’s teeth in his pocket. He had used
    them before, for a Bewitchment, and he never knew when he might need
    them.—Very few people know about this, but it’s just as true as the
    part they do know.” The Princess spoke severely, but the Others
    giggled.

  They thought Draco ought to have stars on his tail, but she said his
    wings folded back over most of it when they weren’t set up. Hercules
    gave him the small star on his nose, because he had a great many,
    and Draco needed that one to make him symmetrical.
]

When they came back from farther off, they couldn’t guess what the long
wavy line was meant for, that she was drawing beyond Orion—in deep loops
down and back.

“This is the Starland River,” she explained. “The Ancients called it the
Eridanus. That was the name of one of their own Earth rivers. Once
Phaeton tried to drive the chariot of the Sun,—the Sun God was his
father,—but he didn’t know how, and horses, chariot, and all plunged
into the river, and he was drowned for his folly, but the chariot and
horses came out shining again the next morning at sunrise. And Phaeton’s
three sisters stood on the bank of the river and mourned and mourned for
him, and wouldn’t go away. So Jupiter kindly changed them into poplar
trees;—and right here—and here—and here”—she showed the places and the
Others laid especial shells—“are the stars that mark the tall poplars on
the bank. At least, that’s what I think. You may choose others if you
like, but they are certainly there.”

The Princess surprisingly sprang up, and the pointed shell flew out of
her hand, over the hard sand, and beyond the worrying green-white edge,
into the gray sea.

“What did you do that for?” Pat remonstrated.

“Because-that-was-a-sign-that-it-wouldn’t-be-lucky-to-have-any-more-
drawing-on-the-sand-because-that-was-Enough,” said the Princess.

“Will you tell it now?” asked the Kitten.

And she would; but back under the cliff, where there were rocks—smooth
and hollowed by the ocean, long ago, and another one for a back,—and
where those crazy comets on the sand wouldn’t be looking at them.


“You hardly would believe how happy the care of the Sailor’s Star made
Little Bear,” said the Princess, when they were all comfortable,—“proud
of his responsibility, and most grateful to the Star People.”

“Because they gave him stars?” asked the Kitten.

“Yes, and allowed him to have that responsible thing to do when he
wanted it so much; and it made them happy to see his pleasure, and to
feel that they all had a share in it—because he was their own dear
Little Bear. Now, at the time this story happened, everything had been
comfortable and pleasant for a long time. Little Bear hadn’t had his
star so long he had forgotten the time before he had it; but he had
grown used to having it on the end of his tail, and could keep it over
the Pole without giving his mind to it. And nobody had seen a comet for
ever so long, so they weren’t thinking about them.

“But, very early one morning, any one of the Star People who had been
awake to look, might have seen, peeping up over the rim of the Sky, a
small, vagabond head. He shook his fuzzy hair out of his eyes and came
up a little farther, switching his long tail that had a wicked crook at
the end of it, as he danced up and down like an elf! A more rascally
Comet you wouldn’t care to see!”

The Others wriggled with appreciation, but they didn’t speak, to
interrupt.

“The Star People were in their first sleep, and not dreaming of any
harm; and what a chance for the worst, small comet in the Sky!

“What should he do? Hammer a dent in Cepheus’ crown? Tie a knot in the
Dragon’s tail? He darted here and there,—rapid, uncertain little darts;
nothing seemed quite worth while when he had such an opportunity.

“Cassiopeia stirred slightly in her chair, and the wicked imp dropped
where he was, and wound himself all up, like a porcupine, holding
himself together by the crook in his tail. You never would have guessed
that he could tuck all his wild hair and streaming tail into a little
round bunch, as quick as a flash! But she didn’t wake up, so he let
himself go, and his hair and tail sprang out like a jack-in-the-box; and
now he danced harder than ever, for rage!

“How he did hate Cassiopeia! He remembered how she had boxed his ears
when he had come that way before, and he would rather do something to
plague her than anything else. He looked about him, and saw Little Bear,
fast asleep—never dreaming of any harm,—and he stopped short in his
dance. He knew, now, what he could do; but, wicked little Comet as he
was, he was almost frightened. This was much worse than anything any of
them ever had done. But how it would plague Cassiopeia!—and set the
whole sky by the ears. He puckered up his face and stuck out his tongue
at her.”

“And she couldn’t see him,” Pat murmured.

“Then there was a whizz,—a switch of a long tail with a crook in the end
of it,—a zigzag streak of light across the morning sky—and the Comet was
gone!

“And the Star People were all sound asleep, and never dreamed he had
been there.

[Illustration:

  A MORE RASCALLY COMET YOU WOULDN’T CARE TO SEE
]

“Oh, dear! It seemed almost a pity Little Bear had to wake up at all,
with such trouble waiting for him. But the time had to come, and he
stirred a little and opened one eye, and shut it again and rolled on to
his side. There he lay for a minute; then he gave a soft sneeze that
waked him up altogether. So he opened his eyes, that twinkled like
stars, and looked about him. Every one else was still sleeping, and that
seemed like wasting time, because it was a cloudy night, which meant a
holiday. So Little Bear stood up and shook himself, and sparks seemed to
fly from his fur, and then—his heart gave a great jump, and almost
stopped beating!—The Sailor’s Star was gone!

“It was such a blow he could hardly see, and he sat down, quite dazed.

“In a few minutes Cassiopeia opened her eyes. Now, Little Bear felt as
if he couldn’t stand it to have any one know what had happened to him.
But the minute he saw Cassiopeia was awake, though it was the last thing
he meant to do, and before he knew what he was about, he had run to her
and put his head in her lap; and she knew in a second something was
wrong.

“‘Why, Little Bear, what is it?’ she began to say—then she saw—and such
an outcry! Everybody awoke, and the next minute, everybody was searching
in every possible and impossible place;—all but Little Bear. He was too
miserable to do anything but sit still, and wish the clouds would rise
up and cover him all over.”

“Poor little soul!” said Phyllisy, and the Others crooned in sympathy,
the Princess with them. Then she went on:—

“‘It’s no use. It isn’t here,’ said Cepheus, who had been down on his
hands and knees, looking, just as hard as if he hadn’t been a king. (He
tucked his sceptre under his arm while he was looking, except when he
poked with it in a corner.) As he spoke, he stood up and straightened
out the ‘crick’ in his back, and the others took it for a signal to stop
the search.

“Cassiopeia had stopped some time before, without any signal, and sat in
her chair, with Little Bear leaning against her knee again.

“‘No, I didn’t think it was any use,’ she said, significantly. ‘That
star didn’t go without hands,—or _claws_!’—and she looked straight at
Draco, who stood every night before Little Bear, to guard him, looking
very terrible, though he hadn’t a tooth in his head. But no one would
know that unless he spoke, and he had been hunting for the star as hard
as any of them.

“‘Doeth thhe mean _me_?’ he asked, in surprise. (He lisped a little, on
account of having no teeth.) Then, indignantly: ‘I thould think you’d be
athamed!—I believe you took it back yourthelf!—Indian-giver!’

“Cassiopeia’s hand flew to the back of her dress where the star had
been, and she began hotly: ‘The idea—’

“‘There, there,’ said Cepheus, soothingly, while Little Bear stirred
uneasily, ‘don’t quarrel! It’s bad enough without that.’

“‘Maybe he didn’t take it _himself_,’ said Cassiopeia. ‘But it’s a very
poor watch he kept. And this isn’t the first time something has been
lost while he was asleep!’

“‘Shame on you!’ cried Cepheus. (And it was mean in her to call up the
time when he lost the Golden Fleece.)

“‘Don’t mind her,’ said Perseus to Draco. ‘She doesn’t mean anything.’

“‘I don’t think Cathiopeia liketh me very well,’ said Draco, almost
crying. ‘I can’t thtay awake all day. I alwayth did need a great deal of
thleep.’

“‘Well, let’s not talk about it any more,’ said Cassiopeia, impatiently.
‘We’d better be doing something! It’s a good thing it’s so cloudy. I’ll
tell you what you do,’ she went on, turning to Cepheus. ‘You go straight
to Boreas, and tell him he mustn’t blow away one scrap of cloud until we
find that star.’ Boreas had a great conch shell, like a trumpet, and
when he shouted his orders through it, the clouds flew before the
sound—just as he told them to go.”

“The North Wind,” said Pat. “I’ve heard about him. He lived in a cave.”

The Princess nodded. “‘I don’t think it looks very well for me to be
running errands,’ said Cepheus.

“‘Looks or no looks, you go along,’ said Cassiopeia. ‘I’m going on one
myself.’

“When Orion waked up that night he was pleased to see the clouds,
because there was something he wanted to do. Every one knows he was a
famous hunter; and there was no animal so fierce or so wild that he
could not face it and conquer it. But that was not what he prided
himself upon. What he liked to do, more than anything, and what he
thought was his special talent, was gardening!

“He had his garden on the Milky Way, where he was forever planting
things, and digging them up again to look at the roots, and
transplanting them to see if they wouldn’t do better somewhere else, and
pruning them and training them and spraying them; and the only rest and
chance to grow those poor things had was when there was a long spell of
clear weather, and Orion had to leave them alone! And with all his care,
there wasn’t a place on the whole Milky Way that had so many bare spots
in it as Orion’s garden!”

“Like mine,” observed Pat.

“Now, he had some young meteors just coming up; so, as soon as he was
awake, he called his two dogs and set out for his garden. He was down on
his knees examining the young plants, when the dogs began to bark. He
looked up, and he was astonished to see Cassiopeia hurrying toward him.

“‘I knew where I should find you!’ she called, breathing hard. (She
wasn’t exactly thin.)

“‘What over the Sun brings you here?’ exclaimed Orion.

“‘Somebody’s stolen the Pole Star!’

“‘No!’ cried he.

“‘Yes, they have. While we were asleep. It was there, all right, when
Little Bear went to sleep, and when he waked up, it was gone.’

“Orion scowled fearfully. ‘There’s just one Star Person who would do
such a thing—’ he began.

Cassiopeia interrupted him:—

“‘Now that’s all nonsense! Just because you hate the Scorpion, is no
sign he would steal. You’d better come along with me, and we’ll have a
meeting to see what to do.’

“As Cassiopeia and Orion were coming back together, they met Cepheus,
returning from his errand.

“‘Did you see Boreas?’ called she.

“‘Yes,’ answered Cepheus, pushing up his crown. (It didn’t fit very
well, and was always slipping down.) ‘He says he’ll do the best he can;
but he can’t promise more than two days.’

“‘Oh, we’ll find it before then,’ said Orion, confidently.

“But before the two days were gone he began to feel very differently,
and so did every one else. They talked and they talked, and suggested
and consulted, and hunted, and went back and hunted again and again in
all the places they had searched before; and every one almost began to
look suspiciously at every one else.

“And it would have made any one’s heart ache, to see Little Bear. No one
blamed him, but he couldn’t help feeling that it was his fault, and he
_wanted_ his dear Star, too. So he mourned and drooped, and all the
sparkle went off from his beautiful soft fur, and out of his bright
eyes; and when Perseus offered to let him take the Gorgon’s head to play
with, he didn’t even care for that.

“Cassiopeia took him up into her chair beside her, and sang little songs
to him. The one about the fishes, that he always liked.”

“What song?” asked the Kitten, quickly.

[Illustration:

  ORION

  “Orion was a mighty hunter,” she explained. “This is the way he would
    attack a lion or any wild creature, without the slightest fear. But
    he died at last from the bite of a scorpion. The Scorpion is in the
    sky too, spread out very glittering—a lobstery-kind of a thing—but
    never at the same time as Orion, because that wouldn’t be good
    manners. So, sometimes we see Orion marching across, with his two
    dogs, Sirius and Procyon; then we see the Scorpion, but never the
    two together.”

  And she couldn’t draw the dogs near him, where they belonged, because
    the Kitten had stepped there; they had to move along to a place
    where the sand was smooth.
]

“This,” answered the Princess:—

       There are just as good fish in the sea—the sea
         As ever came out (they say);
       But the finest fish that ever were there
         Have come to the Sky to stay.

       These fishes lived in a pool—a pool,
         Where coral and seaweed grow.
       The great waves dash on the reef without,
         But here they ripple and flow.

       You’d think ’twas a place where a fish—a fish
         Would willingly live and die;
       But these two fishes were not content—
         They wanted to go to the Sky!

       The Fisherman, up above—above,
         Espied the fish from afar;
       He spun a line from a moonbeam fine,
         And baited it with a star.

       Now, these silly fish didn’t try—didn’t try
         To make the best of their home;
       They fumed and they splashed and they lashed their tails,
         Till the water was covered with foam.

       And the Fisherman, watching above—above,
         And _wanting_ to pull them in,
       Could only wait till the fish were too tired
         To move a tail, or a fin.

       Then, twice, on the face of the placid pool,
         He dropped the star from on high;
       And, one by one, drew the Fishes up,
         To shine each night in the Sky!

       And the moral’s plain, of this tale (your tail,
         If you are a bear, or a fish),
       _Don’t fume and splash and disturb your pool,—
         And you’ll probably get your wish!_

“Little Bear liked to hear it, but Cassiopeia could see that it wasn’t
really any comfort to him, and she was at her wit’s end to know what to
do.”

“They ought to have thought it was a Comet,” said Pat.

“It was stupid in them, but they never once thought of them,” said the
Princess.

“Don’t you know, it is like that sometimes,” said Phyllisy, “the most
probable thing you forget all about.”

“That was the way with them,” agreed the Princess. “They thought of
everything else, and the two days were almost gone when Boreas sent word
that he couldn’t possibly wait any longer; but he wouldn’t blow the
clouds clear off—only break them up, and send them flying about; so
perhaps it wouldn’t be noticed that the Star was gone.

“‘That won’t do at all,’ said Orion. ‘We can’t take chances like that.
But what can we do?’

“‘The next best thing,’ said Cassiopeia. ‘We must get another star as
near like it as we can find.’

“‘I have one the same color; but it’s not the right size,’ said Cepheus.

“‘Let me have it,’ said Cassiopeia. ‘I’ll try to match it.’

“She took it from him; and the Star People came, one by one, and turned
their backs to her, and she held up the star that was the right color by
those that were the right size and in a place where they wouldn’t be
missed; and you never would believe how many sizes and colors there
were! It was enough to drive one crazy, and she was ready to give up in
despair. At last she went back to one she had rejected before, on the
back of Perseus’ elbow.

“‘It isn’t right,’ she said, ‘but it’s the best there is.’

“‘Oh, that’s not so bad,’ said Orion. ‘A man on horseback wouldn’t
notice the difference!’

“‘That’s a very poor joke!’ snapped Cassiopeia—her nerves were quite
frazzled. ‘Come, Little Bear!’

“And Little Bear came to her, and they fastened the false star on his
tail; and he let them do it, quite quietly, though he felt as if his
heart would break—and so ashamed! It was almost worse than no star at
all, and seemed like trying to cheat the sailors who trusted him.

“All that night and the next and still another night, Boreas blew and
shouted through his trumpet, and the clouds swept back and forth,
whirling and tumbling, while Little Bear stood at his post, wheeling
slowly around the false star, with his head drooped low and the silver
glint all gone from his soft fur, and his heart almost breaking,
whenever, through the rifts of the racing clouds, he saw the ships
flying before the gale—sailing to all quarters of the world.

“And the other Star People were almost as unhappy as he was, because
they loved him, and because such a dreadful thing had happened, and
somebody must have been so very wicked. By the time the third night was
gone they felt that it couldn’t possibly go on that way any longer; and
every one went to sleep, perfectly worn out with trying to think what
they could do, and how they could comfort Little Bear, if nothing else
could be done.

“Orion was just in his first sound sleep, when a big, jolly voice
called: ‘Are you all asleep there? Wake up, Orion!’

“Orion turned around, and there was Old Sol himself, fairly beaming with
happiness and good humor, and—what do you think?—in his hand he held up
the lost Pole Star!

“‘Wh-why, where did you find it?’ gasped Orion.

“‘Oh, this fellow had it tucked into the crook in his tail. I caught
him, going by, and shook him up, and out it fell. So I brought it to
you.’

“Then Orion saw that Sol held in his other hand the most disreputable
little Comet that ever was seen! His hair and tail—what was left of
them—were hanging in shreds. He had struggled to escape, and Sol had
held him. Now, scarcely enough of him was left to be worth holding—just
a rag! and his head seemed positively shriveled up.

“‘For the love o’ the Law!’ exclaimed Orion, ‘what’s that? A Comet! And
we never once thought of it. Give me that star.’ He fairly snatched it
from Sol’s hand, and started, as fast as he could run, North, waking
every one as he ran, calling: ‘We’ve found the Pole Star!’

“The Comet seemed to think this was a good chance to escape, and
wriggled cautiously between Old Sol’s fingers. ‘Oh, no!’ said Sol.
‘You’ll stay with me, where you won’t do any more mischief.’ And he put
him in his pocket, and followed Orion, as fast as he could, to the
North.

“And when he came in sight, Little Bear was just awake, with everybody
crowding around him, and talking to him so fast he couldn’t understand
what it was all about. But when he saw his own Star once more—then he
knew! And Old Sol laughed to see Little Bear (who had been so patient
and uncomplaining when he was most unhappy) give his tail such a switch
and jerk that it sent the false star flying off—nobody knew where, nor
cared! They kept right on talking—all at once, and nobody listening to
anybody else—and saying how stupid it was in them not to have thought of
the Comet.”

(“And it was,” said Pat, under her breath; but Phyllisy shook her head
at her—not to interrupt.)

“Cassiopeia cried, a very little, while they fastened the Sailor’s Star
once more on Little Bear’s tail; and the good old Dragon said,
anxiously: ‘Be thure you fathen it _thtrong_!’

“And Little Bear quivered and trembled with delight, his eyes sparkling,
even in the sunshine; and then—everybody began to be so sleepy they
couldn’t hold their eyes open. So they all hurried back to their places
and faded away again; while old Sol, with the Comet in his pocket out of
harm’s way, glowed brighter and brighter with pleasure.

“But when night fell, calm and cloudless, who was so proud as Little
Bear? His eyes twinkled brighter than any stars, and his soft fur
glittered and shone, and he held up his head bravely as he swung around
the Pole Star—watching the ships; while the sailors on the ships said:
‘How bright all the stars are to-night! The rains have cleared the air.’

“The next cloudy night, Little Bear sat beside Cassiopeia, in her great
jeweled chair, and she sang songs to him once more—about the Fishes, and
the other songs he liked. Best of all, the one she couldn’t sing to him
when he was so unhappy, about his very own Sailor’s Star:—

                 “Oh, how do the ships go sailing
                 Over the starlit sea?
                     They’re sailing East,
                     And they’re sailing West,
                     And they’re sailing South,—
                 But they love the best,
                 Where the North Star shines unfailing.

                 “Oh, how do the ships go sailing
                 Over the angry sea?
                     The winds blow high,
                     And the clouds sweep low,
                     And the ship flies fast!—
                 But the sailors know
                 Their Star still shines unfailing.

                 “And still the ships go sailing
                 Forever, over the sea;
                     For the winds will drive
                     The clouds away,
                     And the stars shine forth,
                 And the sailors say,
                 _Their_ Star for aye’s unfailing!”

“‘The Sta-a-ar’s unfailing,’” sang the Kitten, after her. And they two
sang the last few lines again, together.

“Oh!” exclaimed Miss Phyllisy.

“What is it?” asked Pat.

“Orion’s leg is gone; I’ve been expecting it. A wave just went over.”

And another wave followed close, and shoved it back still higher, before
it had time to run away out.

“He doesn’t mind,” said the Kitten.

“Not a bit,” said the Princess. “It wasn’t even a likeness. And where
are the Comets?”

There wasn’t a sign of one left. And that was a sign that every one else
had better be starting!

[Illustration:

  ORION’S DOGS AND LITTLE BEAR

  The name of the big dog was Sirius, and the little one was Procyon.
    And Orion himself hadn’t so splendid a star as Sirius wore in his
    collar. Procyon’s wasn’t quite so fine, because he was smaller.

  “And they’ve just been over here to see Little Bear, and they’re
    hurrying to catch up with Orion and be in their own places,” said
    Phyllisy.
]



                                   IV
                          OLD SOL’S MENAGERIE


Because she had said she would, and they had come expressly when the
tide was out, the Princess didn’t wait to be asked; she only looked to
see what kind of an Ocean it was, while the others hunted for a pointed
shell like the one she used before—and it was a cool blue one, with
little waves running on it and cloud shadows moving across.

Then she took the shell that Miss Phyllisy brought, with the Others
following; and perhaps it was the very one that flew out of her hand!
Anyway, it was exactly like it; it could have been brought back by the
sea, and that was a sign that it was lucky to draw more Star People on
the sand.

They chose a place to begin, and the Princess drew a circle around her,
as large as she could reach from the middle; and it was surprisingly
round—when it wasn’t mechanical. Then she came to the line of it and
reached over and drew another, larger, circle just so far outside; then
she made marks—little neat ones—on the edge, to have it even, and drew
lines across to divide it into spaces; and there would be twelve. And
the Princess was inside, drawing, and the Others were outside, watching
to see what it was going to be—like a Bewitchment, with nobody speaking.
For each time Pat started to say: “Whatever is it?” Prudence said:
“Don’t speak!” and she stopped. But the Kitten lay on the sand, propped
on her elbows, watching and making a song for herself, inside, until the
Princess was ready to talk.

As she drew the last line across, that made twelve spaces, she began,
sing-song: “Walk right up, ladies and gentlemen! The greatest show in
Skyland is now ready to begin. Unrivaled aggregation of animals and
galaxy of talented artists. Old Sol’s Menagerie, in Sky-Language called
the Zodiac. Something between a zoölogical garden and a circus, and
better than both put together—” She stopped and laughed, teasing with
her eyes.

“What does it mean?” asked Pat.

“I’m going to show you. These are twelve great cages that make a
splendid ring all around the Sky—Houses, the Star People call them. They
think it sounds better; but they aren’t in the least like either cages
or houses; they’re more like a _place_; and it isn’t a flat circle like
this. It’s that way in Starland. You can’t really describe it, because
it’s so different; but we can draw it this way, and call it what we
like.” The Princess stooped down and began to draw: “In this first cage,
Sol keeps the Ram that had the Golden Fleece, that they took away from
him, to take such care of! And now that he’s a Star-Ram, he has it back
and takes care of it himself.”

“So Draco needn’t watch it any more,” observed Phyllisy.

“The Ram likes it much better this way,” said the Princess. “And here is
his name, like a doorplate on his house.” She made a funny little mark
in the corner of the space. “Wherever you see that mark, Beloveds, it’s
the Sign of the Ram; and it looks like his curving horns. Next door is a
great white Bull. One time he was grazing in a meadow where some
children were playing. He was very gentle, and let them wind garlands of
flowers around his horns. At last, one of them climbed on his back, and
away he went with her and swam over the sea. Did you ever see such
remarkable, lofty horns?” All the time she was drawing.—“Here’s the sign
of his House, and here go his stars.” The Others had stars collected,
and when they had finished the Bull, she went on: “In this House are the
Gemini Brothers, twin boys who do boxing and wrestling, and
ground-and-lofty tumbling. Wonderful singers they are, too, Castor and
Pollux, and especial friends of all sailors. They were great sailors
themselves, and once drove all the wicked pirates out of the Ægean Sea.”

“The Star ones?” asked Pat.

“No; the real ones. We want two beautiful pebbles for the stars that
they wear in their helmets. And up here”—the Princess whirled across—“in
this last House that brings it around the circle are two more twins—the
Fishes that Cassiopeia sang about to Little Bear. They can have only
small stars, because they were discontented.”

When they were done the Princess turned back to the place where she left
off.

“In this cage at the North is a Crab; and in the cage exactly opposite
is a Goat, but not a common goat. He is a Sea-Goat—like this, with a
kind of fish tail.” She left the Crab, and drew the Goat to show. “These
two were once impertinent to Old Sol; and now he has them in his
Menagerie; and I’m glad of it! Aren’t you, Kitten?”

“What did they do?” asked Phyllisy.

“It’s poetry,” said the Princess. She stopped drawing and clasped her
hands around her knees, sitting in the middle of the Zodiac to say the
poetry; and the Others sitting outside to listen.

          A kindly gentleman was Mr. Sol.
          He sallied forth one day, to take a stroll,
          Saying: “This morning I will make my goal,
            The South Pole.”

          With smiles for all he met, and greetings gay,
          He southward bent his steps,—nor would delay
          Because he saw, directly in his way,
            A Billy-Goat stood at bay!

          “Yez can’t go anny farther!” cried the Goat.
          “The language on that sign I’d have yez note:
          ‘The passage South is closed.’ Kape on yer coat!
            That’s the _Law_! Ye’d orter know’t!”

          His language rude could only cause surprise,
            And Sol advanced. Oh, who’d believe his eyes!
          With lowered head Bill rushes—and Sol lies,
            Knocked flat!—sprawly-wise!

          Old Sol arose and said: “I’d have you learn”
          (So grieved his rage had scarce begun to burn)
          “There’s still a Pole to visit; and I’ll turn
            To the North! Your Pole I spurn!”

          But as he walked and thought upon his wrong,
          His rage waxed hotter, his resolve more strong.
          “The next who thwarts me won’t be happy long!
            Just let him try!—I think he’ll change his song!”

          So striding northward, with his face ablaze,
          He overtook a Crab, who’d paused to gaze
          Where stood the Pole. His courteous amaze
            Sol’s wrath allays.

          Now, even as the Goat was set to guard
          The Southern Pole, and visitors retard,
          The task of Mr. Crab was just as hard:
            The North he barred.

          But what’s the use of knock-down argument,
          When courtesy will answer your intent?
          If with a little tact ’tis wisely blent.
            Why break a will, that may as well be _bent_?

          “Shall we not walk together, sir?” he said.
          Sol—still determined, though his rage was fled—
          Agreed, if to the Pole his friend’s path led.
            Waving his claw, the Crab said: “Straight ahead!”

[Illustration:

  “SHALL WE NOT WALK TOGETHER, SIR?”
]

         But wily Mr. Crab did not confess
         (And Sol was far too much engrossed to guess,
         So pleasant and straightforward his address),
           He _backward walked_,—like all crabs—none the less!

         They strolled together down the road awhile
         With jest and chat, that might the way beguile;
         Then bade adieu. And then Sol saw the wile
           That turned him from his purpose with a smile!

         He had not noticed that they backward walked,
         Because the Crab so pleasantly had talked.—
         Thus, twice in his ambition was he balked:
           The Goat had felled him—and the Crab had mocked!

         Since then, he’s fixed a limit for his stroll;
         He never tries to go around the Pole.
         Deceit and rudeness worry Mr. Sol
           Past his control!

“That is the poetry,” said the Princess, “and _this_ is very truly true:
Old Sol makes a visit and spends a little while every year in each of
the Houses of the Zodiac. But when he comes to the farthest North—which
is the Crab—in the Summer, he turns back and goes South until he comes
to the Goat’s House, which is the farthest South, in the Winter; then he
turns and comes back, and so forever and always.”

“Won’t they let him go?” asked the Kitten.

“He doesn’t give them a chance to prevent. Now he knows it’s a Rule of
the Sky he obeys it even before he comes to the place they say he
mustn’t pass.”

“But they might have told him politely,” said Phyllisy. “It means
something behind, doesn’t it, Dearie?—just plainly true without anything
around it?”

The Princess laughed suddenly, because Miss Phyllisy was so earnest and
so funny; but she nodded, “Yes.”

“And the ‘House’ just means that part of the sky where they are?”

The Princess nodded again.

“And Old Sol has put a Bewitchment around it so they can’t get
out—instead of bars,” Phyllisy added, going back of her own accord to
the make-believe, because she preferred it. And that was one of the ways
she was wise. What was plainly true could very well wait until she was
older and had more time to think about it.

“Here, in Mr. Crab’s House, Sol keeps a beehive.” The Princess went back
to her drawing where she had left off the Crab to draw the Goat; and the
Others found very tiny yellow shells that looked like them, for the
bees.

“Now, here is a Lion who doesn’t have to be any lion in particular
because he’s so splendid just being himself. He’s like ‘Terrible as an
army with banners,’ not because he’s terrible, but he’s like a heraldry
lion. Right next him is Mlle. Virgo, very ladylike and not a bit
afraid.”

“What is she for?” asked Pat, while the Princess was drawing her.

“She does ‘poses plastiques’—which means that she looks perfectly lovely
being all kinds of statuary on top of a pedestal, and when she doesn’t
do that she does remarkable juggling with a pair of great scales that
are carefully kept in the cage next hers, so they shan’t get out of
order.”

“Could they weigh anything?” asked the Kitten.

“Yes, indeed! The Star People may go in and be weighed on them, if Mlle.
Virgo goes with them. But the Scorpion really does the weighing—puts on
the weights for her—because she’s so ladylike. He lives next door, on
the other side, and he’s very handy with his claws.”

“The Orion one?” asked Pat.

“The Orion one,” said the Princess, beginning in the middle to draw him.
“Somebody will have to find a splendiferous red something for the star
he wears above his fiery heart.” She drew down his body into his
curled-up tail; then she put on his lobstery claws.

“And this gentleman is Mr. Sagittarius, with a head and body like a man
joined to the body of a horse; and he is a better shot with a bow and
arrow than a Red Indian. Then, there’s the Goat—we’ve done, and the
Fishes—we’ve done. And there’s just one more House I haven’t told you
about. An old man lives in it. He’s like Orion in one thing, he’s very
fond of gardening. But he hasn’t any garden, only a watering-pot. And
that’s the part of him we’ll draw, because that’s where he wears his
stars.”

“You’re making two spouts,” said the Kitten.

“Because it has. If you want to _garden_, and have no garden but a
watering-pot, you can’t have too many spouts. The Ancients said the two
streams that flowed from it watered all the gardens of the world.”

“It must have felt funny to be an Ancient,” said Pat.

“Why?” asked Phyllisy.

“With those queer ideas in them,” said Pat.

The Princess looked around the Zodiac ring, to see what was left out;
and it was all done but signs in the Fishes, and three more she had not
put in when she made them. She put them in now, in the corners of the
Houses. So it was finished; and it had taken a good while—drawing and
talking and starring them all; but, because she wasn’t tired, they moved
along a little farther and began afresh.

It was a tremendous man, with lumpy arms and legs; and that was
Hercules, the strongest person in the Sky.

“I’ve heard about him,” said Pat. “He killed lions, and strangled some
snakes when he was just a little baby in his cradle—immense ones; he
must have been always strong.”

“I suppose he inherited it,” said the Kitten—very grown-up.

“Just hear the child!” said Miss Phyllisy. “What does that mean, Kit?”

“I know,” the Kitten insisted. “He _could_ do it.”

“Course he could!” said the Princess; “and because of _that_. He came of
a very fine family—none better. He was a God of the Greeks.”

“A _God_!” exclaimed Pat. “Do _you_—_mean_—to _say_—that _Hercules_ was
a _God_?”

“I do,” said the Princess; and, “One of those Ancients, you know, Pat,”
explained Phyllisy. But Pat paid no attention.

“Well! For pitysakes! _Hercules_—a God!” she said once more.

And that was all; and nobody will ever know why it surprised her so.

“That’s what he was,” said the Princess, drawing away, very
industrious,—“a demi, to begin with, and they made him a whole one. He
was highly cultivated and accomplished, besides being so strong. But he
had a great deal of trouble, and had to work very hard; and altogether
it quite broke him down. It made him always on the lookout for
unfortunate signs. Now that he’s a Star Person, he isn’t particularly
intellectual, but he is perfectly amiable; and that is a great deal to
be thankful for, when you consider how strong he is.” And by that time
he was ready for his stars.

Miss Phyllisy suddenly thought of something.

“Oh, Dearie!” she exclaimed. “There’s somebody you never drew.”

“Who is that, Miss Phyllisy?”

“The Big Bear. You never talk about him.”

The Princess made little marks in the sand, all in a row, that didn’t
mean anything. When she spoke it was in a slow, thinking-it-out way:
“There is something curious about that Bear, that makes him _not_ do the
things the other Star People do; and this is it:”—she spoke very
impressively,—“The Great Bear doesn’t know whether he’s a bear or a
dipper!”

“Oh-h!” cried the Others.

“What _do_ you mean?” asked Phyllisy.

[Illustration:

  CASSIOPEIA

  “Of course it isn’t a _likeness_,” said the Princess, putting a quirl
    on her crown, “but you can tell something by it. And do you think
    Cassiopeia looks like the kind of person who would boast of her own
    beauty?”

  The Others looked at her critically.—“She looks to me more domestic,”
    said Phyllisy. “Did she?”

  “Some old mythologies _say_ she did, but it was truly Andromeda’s
    beauty she was so proud of. The trouble was, Cassiopeia wasn’t
    satisfied with knowing in her own heart that her child was the
    loveliest thing the sun shone on; she talked about it. And at last
    it came to the Sea Nymphs’ ears. They heard in all the waves—like
    coming out of a shell—‘Andromeda is fairer than the Sea Nymphs:
    Cassiopeia says so,’—and off they went to their father, crying:
    ‘Vengeance, Father Neptune, upon the impious Cassiopeia!’ That was
    the way they talked, only a great deal more of it. And rather than
    hear them whining and teasing he consented to punish Cassiopeia. She
    and Cepheus were obliged to chain Andromeda to a rock on the
    seacoast to be devoured by a horrible sea monster; and that would
    have been the end of her and her beauty if Perseus hadn’t come to
    the rescue.”

  Then they stopped talking about that, because it was time to put on
    Cassiopeia’s stars.
]

“He’s confused,” said the Princess. “You see, before he was a Star
Person he was a performing bear, and in one of his tricks—the best
one—he stood on his head so much it affected his brain. Now he is a Star
Person, and he’s quite harmless, but he thinks perhaps he’s a Dipper.
And, of course, when he thinks that he can’t go about or talk; and
there’s nothing for him to dip, so he doesn’t lead a very amusing life.”

“Wouldn’t the Star People let him go with them?” asked the Kitten.

“Certainly they would—be glad to. But he doesn’t want to. And they let
him have his way. They call him ‘Major’; and that pleases him when he
thinks he’s a bear, and when they see he has a ‘dipper-fit’ they don’t
talk to him at all, because he doesn’t like it.”

“I should think they’d be glad,” said Pat. “What could they talk about?”

“Nothing intelligent,” agreed the Princess, “so they let him alone, to
be happy in his own way.”

“Is Little Bear his child?” asked the Kitten.

“No, Kitten. They aren’t related; they only both happen to be bears and
neighbors. Major never goes away from his place—almost never,” she
corrected herself. Then she stopped, and began again, talking to
herself. “There was once—such a time as they had—” She shook her head,
but she did’t say any more.

“Aren’t you going to tell it?” asked Pat.

“Bimeby,” said the Princess, suddenly energetic. “I’m going to draw him
now.

“Now, my Hearties! How’s that for a bear? and just crying for stars.
Look alive! and see what you’ll see when he has them on.”

They placed his pebbles, and seven were especially large, and all the
time Pat kept saying: “I don’t see anything. What is it?”—and all the
Princess would say was, “Look at him hard,—his stars,—never mind his
legs.” And then Phyllisy saw something that made her laugh. “Oh, Dearie!
Is that what made you think of it?—The Dipper—what he thinks?”

“S-sh,” said the Princess.

“What are you laughing at? Tell me now,” said Pat.

“Don’t you see, Pat?” explained Phyllisy. “It’s the old Dipper we always
knew—part of it is. I never thought of it’s being the same.”

“Two names for it?” asked Pat, looking at the Princess.

She nodded. “I know another one.”

“Aren’t you going to tell it?”

“Bimeby,” she said again, just as she had said it before.

And that was drawing enough, and no time for a story, but much better
for a scamper on the beach, along the edge of the waves that had stopped
going out and were running all the time nearer.



                                   V
                                 MAJOR


Exactly far enough to be convenient to sit down for a while was the old
great Wreck that had been there for years and years and years.

So there was only a part of it left, pushed deep in the sand, and sand
inside, because the sea had eaten away the rest. And it was pale and
gray-bleached where it stood up toward the sky, but underneath dark and
sodden, with long seaweed weeping off into the water—back and forth—back
and forth—forever.

Going up by the rocks on the other side, some strong timbers laid over
made a bridge across into the broken place where her ribs showed. There
were pale waves churning, flat, in and out among the rocks and below the
bridge when they crossed over and came out on the old gray deck with the
old black capstan standing in the middle of it; and everywhere around
there was water. The Ocean was much larger from here than it was when
they were walking on the sand; so large that any ship in the whole wide
world _might_ have come sailing across it—and a fair wind blowing. The
Princess looked for several minutes, to see if there was coming the
finest ship afloat. And there was not; but she hadn’t expected it,
because she knew it was not there.

“Now is it a suitable time to tell it?” asked Pat.

And the Princess thought it was, while they rested, sitting on the
tilting deck, with the sea running in and out in the dark hollow place
under it.

“You know how you feel about something that is _always there_,” she
began; “a tree on the lawn, or a church steeple, or something you take
for granted and expect to see when you look for it. You don’t look the
first thing in the morning to see if it has gone away in the night.

“That was the way with Major. The Star People were so used to seeing him
in his place that they thought very little about him.

“It was rather cloudy one morning when it was time to fade away, and it
promised to be more cloudy by night. The Star People had plans for what
they wanted to do; and they waked up, quite full of their own affairs.
So, though each one of them in Major’s neighborhood had a feeling that
something was strange and lacking, they didn’t think enough about it to
realize what it was. And it wasn’t until Cepheus said suddenly: ‘Why,
where’s Major?’ that they saw that he was gone, and that was what they
missed.

“‘Now, what do you thuppoth pothethed him?’ said Draco.

“‘I’ve no idea,’ said Cassiopeia. ‘But we must find him and bring him
back. We can’t let the silly old thing go wandering about, nobody knows
where. Perseus!’ she called. ‘You and Andromeda come and help.’

“They were so interested in some scheme of their own they weren’t
noticing what was going on. But as soon as they did, they were just as
much concerned as anybody, ‘Major gone!’ they said. ‘Why, where can he
be?’

“‘I thee him!’ called Draco, excitedly. He had flown up to look about.
Now he dropped again. ‘He’th almotht to Orion’th garden, and going
Thouth ath fatht ath ever he can!’

“‘Run, Perseus. You’re young,’ said Cassiopeia; and off he started, with
Andromeda after him. She and Perseus very easily ran faster than the
other Star People who followed: Cepheus and Cassiopeia, with Draco, half
flopping his wings and half running on his short crooked legs, like a
dachshund’s, and after them Hercules and Little Bear. Hercules picked
him up and put him on his shoulder, and came after the others—all racing
down toward the Southern Sky, to find Major and bring him back home.

“Cassiopeia was not much of a runner; but Hercules came up and put his
hand under one arm, and Cepheus put his under the other, to help her
along, so they made pretty good speed; though, of course, not so good as
Perseus and Andromeda. So they weren’t surprised, when they finally came
in sight of Major, to see that the young people had caught up with him,
and they and Orion were going along by his side.

“For Major wasn’t noticing them, nor stopping to listen to their talk.
He kept straight on, lifting his great paws high and throwing them out
as he trotted—not as a bear usually runs, and not getting along so very
fast, either.

“When he was actually in sight Cassiopeia declared she couldn’t go
another step without resting. So she sat down; and Perseus, who saw
them, came racing back with Andromeda after him, of course.

“‘Guess what he thinks!’ he called, when he came within hearing
distance. ‘He thinks he’s a wagon!’ cried Andromeda, in the same breath.

“‘A _wagon_!’ said everybody.

“‘Yes, he does,’ said Andromeda. ‘Orion ran out after him when he went
by the garden, and Major made him look out for the wheels. He thinks his
legs are wheels, and he will run over any one who’s in the way.’

“‘Did you ever hear more?’ said Cepheus. ‘I’d like to know how such an
idea came into his addled old head.’

“‘I’d just like to know how to put it _out_!’ said Cassiopeia.

“‘How’ll you stop him, if you don’t?’ asked Hercules. ‘He’ll keep on
forever—now he’s started.’ And that was perfectly reasonable, certainly,
and quite observant for a person who didn’t pretend to be bright.

“‘I can thtop him,’ said Draco.

“‘How?’ asked Perseus.

“‘You wait and thee. We’ll catch up with him thoon. He doethn’t go very
fatht.’”

The Princess stopped, and looked off, over the sea. Then she looked back
at the Others, all waiting for her to go on.

“It’s terribly exciting, Dearie,” said Phyllisy.

“Then what happened?” asked the Kitten.

“By this time Cassiopeia was ready to go on, and they started once more.
They could see that Orion still talked and argued as he kept on by
Major’s side, with the two dogs running about them both; but Major never
once glanced at him or his dogs, and kept up his curious gait.

“And—do you believe?—now that they knew what his idea was, his legs did
seem to make a circular motion; and they couldn’t help thinking that he
did look a little like a great clumsy wagon; but they wouldn’t, one of
them, have owned it to the others!

“‘Now what do you think of that?’ asked Orion, stopping to let them come
up with him. ‘He’s started, and he may go forever!’

“‘That’s what _I_ say,’ observed Hercules.

“‘Draco says he can stop him,’ said Andromeda.

“‘Oh, can he?’ said Orion. ‘All right. Go ahead. It’s more than I can
do.’

“‘I’m _pretty thure_ I can,’ said Draco, as he flopped along—and they
stood aside to let him pass, he took so much room; ‘but you’ll have to
thtand by what I thay. It’ll take diplomathy.’

“Then they all followed after to see what his diplomacy was, and how he
would use it. And when he came up with Major he didn’t stop; he didn’t
even seem to notice him, but kept flopping along until all but three
coils of his tail had passed him. Then he stopped abruptly, as if he
were very much surprised. ‘Why, I thought you were a wagon,’ he said.
‘But where are your hortheth?’

“Major held one foot suspended in the air for a moment, and they thought
he might stop. But it was only an instant; then he went on.

“Draco raised his voice higher: ‘Don’t you know, you thilly, a wagon
can’t go without thomething to draw it?’

“‘Then how did he get here?’ asked Perseus.

“‘S-s-sh!’ said every one.

“‘Now he’th thpoiled everything!’ complained Draco. And he flopped right
down in the road—but Major kept straight on.

“‘No, he hasn’t,’ said Andromeda, encouragingly. ‘Don’t you mind. That
was fine! I know how to manage.’ Then she ran on until she was a little
ahead of Major. And she looked at him, very hard, and stooped down and
looked at his legs. Then she called back, over his head:—

“‘It’s running downhill; but it will stop now. It’s beginning to go up.’

[Illustration:

  “WHY, I THOUGHT YOU WERE A WAGON,” HE SAID, “BUT WHERE ARE YOUR
    HORTHETH?”
]

“Sure enough, it did begin to curve up just there; and Major lifted one
foot—and put it down, heavily; then he swung the other around wildly—and
they all crowded near, and said: ‘There! It’s stopping. It can’t run
up-hill.’ And the next minute Major sat down with a hard _thump_, not
very far from the edge of the Zodiac. And if you don’t believe he was a
tired old Bear, you try it yourself!”

The Others giggled; but they believed it without interrupting. And the
Princess went on: “When I told you about the old man in the Zodiac, I
didn’t tell you this: besides his watering-pot, he has a great
reputation for giving wise advice. So when the Star People are in any
difficulty they go and consult Aquarius. Or they would go; but when he
once begins to talk he goes on _forever_; and they are so tired with it,
and it is so impossible to stop him without being rude, that they are
rather more likely to say to some one else, ‘Why don’t you go and ask
Aquarius?’ than they are to go themselves.

“When Major sat down _hard_, he was not far from Aquarius’ House, and
the old man came to its limit to see what was going on, but the Star
People pretended they didn’t see him, because they didn’t want him to
begin talking.

“Cassiopeia was the person who discovered that they were out of one
trouble only to be in another. They had stepped aside a little, to be
out of Major’s hearing, and everybody—except Cassiopeia—was saying how
good it was he had stopped. Draco just observed complacently, for the
third time: ‘I don’t know how I happened to think of it. It theemed to
_come_ to me,’ when Cassiopeia’s voice broke in on them, very cold and
depressing: ‘It’s a pity it came so soon. Why didn’t you turn him around
first?’

“‘Turn him around?’ said Cepheus. ‘What for?’

“‘What is the first Rule of the Sky?’ asked Cassiopeia, and they all
recited in unison:—

“‘A Place for Everything; and Everything in its Place.’

“‘Yes,’ said Cassiopeia. ‘There _he_ is,’ and she pointed to Major, just
_sitting_ exactly as he dropped, ‘and _there’s_ his place!’ and she
waved her arm toward the North. ‘How are you going to get him there?’

“Then they were in a pickle! Major had always liked Andromeda, and she
tried to coax him. But he wouldn’t pay the slightest attention when she
talked.”

“He thinks he’s a Wagon, just the same, if he has stopped,” said
Phyllisy.

“Of course,” said the Princess. “So it was no use to talk to him. Then
they tried to push him and pull him around; but he shook them off, and
even growled as no one had heard him growl before. Besides that, he was
naturally an extremely large bear, and being a Dipper, with nothing to
dip, and doing absolutely nothing else, had made him grow fat. Even if
he had allowed them, they could hardly have moved him all that way. And
certainly not without Hercules’ help. All this time he had stood aside,
saying nothing, though they hadn’t noticed it, they were so busy with
Major himself. At last Orion almost suggested setting his dogs on him.
But they all said: ‘The idea! Poor, dear, old Major!’ and he said
quickly, of course he didn’t mean it. He only said they _could_. Nobody
answered him; nobody spoke at all for as much as a minute.

“Then Cassiopeia sniffed. Then she looked very hard at Hercules, and
remarked: ‘If I could do anything I wouldn’t wait to be asked.’

“‘Who could?’ asked Perseus.

“‘I don’t say _any one_ could,’ said Cassiopeia. ‘But if I were so
strong that my hands just—er—_swung_, and I saw that poor old lamb, far
from his home, and with not sense enough to go to it, I’d do the best I
could to take him there!’

“‘There aren’t stars enough in the Sky to make me touch him!’ said
Hercules. ‘And it isn’t carryin’ him I mind. Bless you, I could pick him
up like a baby. He doesn’t weigh so much.’

“‘Then why don’t you do it?’ asked Cepheus.

“‘’Tisn’t lucky,’ said Hercules. ‘He isn’t willing; and he’s an
Innocent. No good ever comes of crossing an idjit. I wouldn’t lay so
much as a finger on that loony bear—unless he was willing—for all you
could offer! No, sir-ee!’

“Then they were just about ready to give up, or take anything that
offered, so they weren’t very reluctant to see old Aquarius, who had
been beckoning to them and waving his watering-pot for some time, and
evidently had something to say. They drew near, where he could talk to
them, though they groaned when they did it, for they knew he would bore
them almost to death.

“‘I have been strangely unable to gain your notice, although I have made
considerable effort to that end,’ he began, in his prosy way. ‘I have
waved my hand—thus’ (he showed them how he had beckoned), ‘and my
watering-pot—thus’ (and he showed them how he had waved the
watering-pot, and hadn’t spilled a drop of water, although it had two
spouts), ‘but in spite of my endeavors, I have been unable to attract
your notice.’ (They looked at each other, and sighed.) ‘I have been thus
persistent,’ he went on, ‘for _your_ good; not for my own
pleasure—although conversation with congenial persons is always most
agreeable to me—’

“‘Me, too,’ said Draco. ‘I jutht love to talk to my friendth.’

“‘Er—exactly,’ said Aquarius. ‘But it was not merely to
converse—agreeable as it may be to us all—_all_,’ he repeated, waving
his watering-pot benevolently. (And they looked at each other again; and
some of them changed their weight over onto the other foot.) ‘No, I had
a purpose in calling you hither. I rarely act without a purpose—’

“‘What was it?’ asked Perseus.

“‘I was about to mention it!’—looking at Perseus reprovingly. ‘You
seemed in some perplexity concerning the removal of that misguided Bear
to his proper place. I gather that he considers himself—and wishes to be
considered—a Wagon! A most surprising hallucination. It might be
interesting to consider how it could have arisen?’ He looked at them, in
turn, to see if they were inclined to consider it, but they were not,
and stood perfectly still, without any expression in their faces, until
Hercules said: ‘You were going to tell us something.’

“‘Yes. I remember to have heard something that applies exactly to such a
case. I am sure it will be a helpful suggestion.’

“Every one looked hopeful and interested, but Aquarius stopped short.
They waited. Then, ‘I seem to have forgotten it for the moment. But
never mind—it will come—it will come—’

“‘Oh, what’s the use waiting?’ muttered Orion.

“‘It will come,’ went on Aquarius, cheerfully. ‘It is something about
wagons—and stars—I am sure it is just what is needed. Ah! I have it now:
“Hitch your wagon to a star!”—The very thing! I knew it would come,’ and
he went right on talking; but the Star People were not listening. If
that was the best he could do in the way of advice, they were completely
discouraged.

“‘I never heard such rubbish in my life!’ said Cassiopeia, under her
breath. ‘Nor I,’ said Orion. ‘I know pretty much all there is to know
about stars—and how could you hitch a wagon to one? And if you did, what
then?’ They all thought that was the very silliest advice that ever was
given; and there was old Aquarius talking and talking—and they didn’t
know how they were to escape from him, when some one said:—

“‘Look at Major!’

“They all looked—even Aquarius stopped with his mouth open—and, what do
you think? With all their trying they couldn’t move that foolish old
Bear one inch. But now, when they were worried to death, and trying to
think what to do next, and were leaving him alone—

“All at once he turned his great head and seemed to see for the first
time where he was. Then he stood up; and they held their breath to see
what he would do. He stood for a moment, swaying his huge body back and
forth; then he swung around until his nose pointed to the North, and
started off at an even trot, never looking to the right nor to the left,
just like an ordinary bear, and not in the least like a wagon or a
dipper! And he didn’t stop until he reached his very own place in the
Sky. The Star People followed him all the way on tiptoe, not daring to
speak for fear he would change his mind again before he reached home.
But I shouldn’t wonder if old Aquarius went right on talking, though
there was not a soul left to hear him; for no one thought to say
‘Good-by.’

“That was a long time ago, and Major still thinks he’s a Dipper; but he
knows it’s no use to be a Wagon without horses. So he stays in his
place, and the Star People feel pretty comfortable about him. But”—the
Princess dropped her voice, and glanced up at the sky—“just suppose he
ever finds out about Automobiles!”

“O-o-o-oh!” said the Others, politely horrified.

Then: “He won’t,” said Pat. “And I know what the other name for it is,
besides Dipper and Great Bear. You needn’t tell.”

“I know, too,” said Phyllisy.

“I’d like to tell somebody,” said the Princess. “Come close, Kitten, and
let me whisper it.”

So the Kitten came close, and she and the Princess found her ear—warm
and rosy under a great deal of troublesome hair—and the Princess
whispered in it until the Kitten laughed. “Now we all know, don’t we?”
said the Princess. And they all nodded.

The waves were running away from them, up the beach, a long way beyond
the point of the ship where the bowsprit used to be.

The Kitten knelt down and looked through a chink in the deck, at the
water under it. She curved her hands each side of her eyes to shut off
the sunlight so she could see more plainly, and to keep her hair from
falling into them. “O-oh! it’s pretty closer,” she said.

“Let me see,” said Pat. The Kitten let her have the place, and she saw
for herself. She was satisfied in a minute; then she settled back on her
heels. “It’ll come just so close; then it’ll go back—and not any more.
What makes it do that?” she said.

“The tide,” said Miss Phyllisy.

“I know that,” said Pat. “What _makes_ it?”

“It’s on account of Lady Moon going by,” said the Princess.

“That would be a different kind of Star Person. Isn’t she?” said
Phyllisy.

“Pretty different, and especially nice. This is the story of her: She is
Mother Earth’s dear daughter. Long ago her mother held her close in her
arms; then Lady Moon was called away to live in Starland, and had to
leave her mother’s side. Her dim gray robes never could be seen in that
distant sky, so she carries a glowing lantern hung on her arm; and when
the slide is open and Mother Earth sees its light, she knows where her
child is wandering among the stars. Then her heart longs for her, and
she reaches out toward her, trying always to come a little nearer. If
you listen, you’ll hear the sea sobbing, to think how far away she has
gone.” The Princess stopped talking, and tipped her head, listening.
They listened with her, to the waves running into the old ship—and they
truly seemed to grow sadder and sadder; not unhappy-sad, but romantic.

“That is beautiful, Dearie,” said Phyllisy. “It’s parable, isn’t it?”

“This is truly true,” answered the Princess. “Wherever the moon is,
there every bit of the Earth feels it, and is drawn out toward it.”

“Hard rocks and all?” asked Pat, as if she never would believe it.

“Rocks and mountains and all,” said the Princess. “But they are so stiff
they don’t give very much. But the sea yields easily, and the water
heaps up toward the moon, and pulls away from the shore behind it; then
when the moon passes on, it flattens out again. If we were down on the
sand before every bit of the hard is covered up, I could draw something
to show it plainer, in about two seconds, on the way back. But there’s
no time to waste.”

So, without wasting any time, they left the old Wreck deep in the sand
and water, with the waves running in from the Ocean and hurrying by
it—on to the land. And when they found a hard place, the Princess drew
the large round Earth with the sea humping up on the side of it toward
the small round moon. And she drew several moons on several sides, to
show how the hump would follow, and make the tide; but it was all one
moon—only gone along a little farther. And she said it was truly the
Earth that whirled in the middle, not the moon going around; but they
weren’t to bother about that—and they didn’t.



                                   VI
                              THE BEE BABY


“The pleasure of your company to drink tea with the Princess,” it said.
And the Others left all their occupations and came at once.

She was expecting them, with the little tea-table set out and ready; but
they might wash their hands in the Princess’s own bath-room, and have
verbena water out of a tall bottle on them, if they liked; and they
did—a great deal.

[Illustration:

  ANDROMEDA

  “Poor Andromeda!” said the Princess. “She must have wished she had
    been born with piggy eyes and a turned-up nose when she found what
    came of her beauty. Here she is: chained to the rock, waiting for
    the sea monster to come and devour her, but still lovely.”

  “She isn’t chained _now_?” said Pat. “In the sky?”

  “Dear me, no! Never, since Perseus happened along with Medusa’s head
    in his wallet, and turned the sea monster into a rock. But this is
    the way they stand to be looked at,—a tableau, with Perseus coming
    to the rescue, and Cassiopeia looking on, thinking what a lucky
    escape they had, and that her child is truly much lovelier than any
    Nymph whatever. But she isn’t talking about it any more.”

  “Perhaps she would have thought so, just the same, if Andromeda had
    looked piggy,” observed Phyllisy.

  “Very true, Madam Owl,” agreed the Princess. “But whether or no, she
    certainly has four undeniably beautiful stars to wear—if anybody
    will find them for her.”
]

The “tea” was in a high, cool, clinking pitcher of strange colored glass
that let the light shine through, and it was golden and yet pinky, and
tasted of fruits, but no kind any one could say. But they could have it
in a teacup if they would rather. (The teapot was there too, by
courtesy, to look on.) The Princess sat beside the table to pour it,
with wide lace hanging over her arms, and coming out from under, but not
catching when she handled the fragile cups, because she knew how—very
deftly.

Pat chose a yellow cup, with butterflies and tiny roses, and Miss
Phyllisy took one, white and very thin, with a dragon coiled around it
and a red curly handle; but the Kitten had hers in a tall glass like the
pitcher, and so did the Princess. And there were delicious little cakes,
the kind the Princess had, and never any one else. It was most
refreshing and restful to hot little girls out of a garden.

At last they said, “No, thank you, _really_,” when she asked if they
would have another cup, because the cups were so small. Then the
Princess went over to a comfortable chair near the long window, and
watched the Others wandering about the room. Outside it would still be
hot in the garden; but in the Princess’s own room it was cool and
shaded, with interesting things to see, that they loved because they had
seen them before.

“Suppose there were an Indian Squaw (_and there was_),” said the
Princess, “and she was weaving a beautiful basket.”

“Is it that basket?” asked Pat.

“That very identical basket you’re going to hand me.”

So Pat brought it to the Princess, and Phyllisy and the Kitten came too.
“And suppose, when she came near the top, she wove in this row of brown
points like the teeth of a saw”—their heads were close together,
following the Princess’s finger with their eyes. “Wouldn’t any one know
that she meant them for mountains?”

“Did she?” asked Phyllisy.

“She did,” said the Princess.

“Oh-h,” said the Others.

“Or,” said the Princess, “suppose there were an Ancient Egyptian—the
Ancientest kind—who lived on the edge of a flat desert; and could
never—alive or dead—go to a mountain without crossing miles of blazing
sand. If he happened, at the same time, to be a King (_and he did_),
with thousands of slaves to work for him, he might set them to work to
build him a mountain. And what shape would it be when it was done?”

“What?” asked the Kitten.

“I know what I think,” said Phyllisy, “maybe.”

“Say it, Miss Phyllisy. I think so, too.”

“A pyramid?”

“Would it?” asked Pat.

“_What_ shape would it?” repeated the Kitten.

The Princess didn’t answer directly. “Let’s just once more suppose.
Suppose there were a little girl, who wanted to draw the picture of a
mountain. (_And I saw the picture._)”—“M-m-mm” purred the Kitten.—“Her
pencil went up one side—so,” the Princess slanted up with her finger,
and the Kitten did the same with hers, “and down the other,”—their
fingers slid down again—“like a letter ‘A,’ very much spread out and
without any cross-piece. Now: could there well be three kinds of people
more different than an Indian Squaw, an Ancient Egyptian, and a Kitten—I
mean a little girl? And yet they agree precisely about how a mountain
ought to look. Doesn’t it seem as if they must be right?”

The Others thought it did—looking at the Pyramid picture over the glass
cabinet. Then the Princess leaned forward, with the lace all falling
away, and her voice grew more impressive:—

“There is Some One else who thinks just as they do; and she doesn’t stop
with thinking, she takes the best of care that there shall be one
perfect example of a truly symmetrical mountain.”

“Oh-h,” said Phyllisy. “Was that what it was all for? I thought it was
just conversation.”

“Not at all,” said the Princess. “It was designed to lead you gradually
up to that especial mountain.”

“Are you going to tell us?” asked Pat.

“If you don’t think it will tire you.” She said it very politely, like a
question. And they all shook their heads—one great, vigorous shake. So
the Princess began to tell it:—

“Sometimes, on her voyages, the Jane Ellen passes near a coast where
there is a long line of white surf edging the blue water; then just as
long a line of white sand; and back of both, the level forest extending
back to the line of the coast mountains. And back of this coast range—so
far away that it looks as if it were painted flat on the pale blue sky,
with paint only a shade darker—rises the great triangle that, Taffy
says, is the most satisfactory mountain in the world.

“And that is Xyntli’s mountain.”

“Did Taffy see it?” asked Pat.

“He did,” said the Princess, “from the sea. He sometimes thought he
would like to go inland and see what it was like, near at hand. But the
Jane Ellen never stopped there—there was nothing to stop for—and he
never went. And that’s all he and the Jane Ellen had to do with it.

“If he had left the ship and gone ashore to climb to the top of the
range of hills, he would have seen that they sloped down again; and far
away, over miles of green, rolling country, the great cone of the
mountain lifts its bare slope out of the forest. And on the southern
side, almost at the top, his sailor eyes might have made out the hole
(with the peak of the mountain, like a pointed hood, behind it) that
leads down into the depths where Xyntli sleeps—long naps that keep her
young and beautiful in spite of her age.

“No one can tell how beautiful she is, because she wraps herself in a
veil when she looks out; but her splendid, fiery-gold hair streams out
of it, and floats and sparkles in the wind when she stands on tiptoe
inside, to look out and see that the mountain is just as she wants it to
be,—an even slope from top to bottom; clean rocks, with no creeping
green things and trees littering up its sides.

“It must be trying to her (and she is a nervous person, too) to lie down
to peaceful slumber for a hundred years or more, leaving her mountain
the pink of perfection; and to wake and look out—only to see that the
waters that run down its sides have collected into streams, and dug
irregular channels for themselves (like scratches on the mahogany
table!), and to listen and hear the winds whispering in the leaves of
the forest:—

                         Creeping, creeping,
                         Forward stealing—
                         Up the mountain
                         Follow, follow;
                         Tiny rootlets,
                         Thrusting, feeling
                         Every crevice
                           (S-s-ssh!),
                         Silence keeping—
                         In the hollow
                         Of her mountain
                           Xyntli’s sleeping!

                         Silence keeping—
                         Soft gray mosses
                         Cover rocks,
                         And, onward creeping,
                         Claim the mountain!
                           Forward leaping,
                         Winged seeds!
                         You’ll soon be peeping
                         O’er the rim,
                         Where, in the hollow
                         Of the mountain,
                           Xyntli’s sleeping.

—and then to see that the forest actually is marching up the sides of
her own fortress! Wouldn’t that be discouraging?

“But Xyntli is not discouraged. Not she! She calls up her fiery snakes
from below, and sends them crawling down the sides of the mountain,
while she stands on the top, waving her wonderful smoky veil, and urging
them on.

“Down they glide,—filling up the channels the streams have dug, hissing
with hatred as they swallow the streams themselves, and devouring the
advancing forest.

“At last the mountain stands once more, smooth and polished—the green
army driven back to the valley.

“Then Xyntli is satisfied, and cuddles down in her hollow for another
nap.

“It was during one of these naps—after it had lasted a very long
time—that the Bee Baby was born.

“Year after year, the forest had marched steadily on; so the people who
lived in the valley seldom thought how the snakes had come down and
driven it back in the old days. The very old people occasionally shook
their heads, and said: ‘When Xyntli wakens she will have her own.’ But
the young people didn’t listen, and followed the forest, building their
curious houses fairly upon the slope of the mountain.

“They were very strange houses indeed—a good deal like willow
bird-cages. In a snowstorm they would have been about as useful for a
house as a mosquito net for an overcoat. But there came never a
snowstorm; and the house where the Bee Baby lived was built of slender
branches of trees, set in the ground, side by side, and interwoven with
palm-fibre—the light glimmered through it in little flecks. The roof
went up to a point in the middle and sloped four ways. That was woven
even closer, of the palm leaves, so the rain couldn’t come through. The
house had only one room, and nearly the whole of one side was the
doorway—with the roof extended over it a little way, like an awning.
There was no floor but the earth, and no door. So, when the Bee Baby
woke in the morning, all he had to do was to rub his big brown eyes with
his little brown fists, and trot through the open doorway, to be in the
warm sunshine, where there wasn’t a fence nor a bar between him and the
whole enchanting world.

“There was no one to watch him very closely, either, because he had no
mother. He did have a father; but he spent a great deal of his time
driving a pair of drowsy oxen in a cart with two solid, wooden wheels.
Such a queer cart!

“Of course his father knew that one of the brown babies that played and
tumbled about in the village of bird-cage huts was his. But when babies
wear only their own shining skins to cover them, it isn’t easy for a
father who spends most of his time driving an ox-cart to pick out his
particular baby.”

“Not any clothes—didn’t they wear?” asked Pat.

“Most of the little children didn’t. A few of them—who were very
fashionable—wore one garment. It was a straight piece of cloth that
covered their plump little bodies in front; the ends were gathered up in
the back, and tied in a bow between the shoulders. It looked very
stylish—but the Bee Baby was more comfortable. Stand up a minute,
Kitten, and I’ll show you how it was.”

So the Kitten came and stood before her, and she showed them how the
fashionable little children dressed, using a piece of Chinese embroidery
for the straight piece of cloth. Then they settled down once more to
listen.

“If an owl had looked through a chink in the wall, very early one
morning, he might have seen the Bee Baby’s family—his aunts and his
grandmother and four or five brown babies and children—all asleep on
flat straw mats on the ground. But nobody but an owl could have counted
exactly how many there were, it was still so dark.

“Then the first sunbeam slipped in at a chink, and put its finger on one
of the poles in the side of the hut. It felt its way slowly down, until
it touched a small, dark heap at the foot of it.

“And that was the Bee Baby.

“He sat up on his mat and looked around him at the other heaps.

“Not one of them stirred; and that was pretty stupid.

“Then he saw something interesting; his own little foot with the sunbeam
resting on it, as he sat with his toes pointing straight up at the roof.
He looked at it for a moment, and frowned as if he were anxious. Then he
leaned forward and felt of it.

“It was a perfectly good foot; and feet are made to be walked on; and it
is much more amusing to be walking than sitting on a mat in a dusky hut
like a bird-cage. That, probably, is the idea that came into the Bee
Baby’s head when he found his foot was so satisfactory; and a big dimple
came in his cheek, but he didn’t make any noise.

“To get up, he rolled over on to his face and planted his feet firmly,
only when they were quite solid, lifting his hands from the ground. And
there he was, all dressed and ready to go out. He trotted over to the
doorway and stopped a minute, looking out.

“The hut stood on the edge of a grove of tall cocoanut trees. There were
bananas growing among them; and vines with gorgeous orange and red
flowers creeping everywhere. Black and spotted pigs ran grunting through
the vines and about the huts of the little village; it all looked clean
and fresh in the early sunlight. The Bee Baby’s was the last hut of the
village, at the edge of the grove, that stretched on beyond it, up the
slope of Xyntli’s mountain.

“When one is not much over two years old, one can’t think of everything,
and the Bee Baby didn’t notice that which the older people had been
watching for a month—Xyntli was awake!

“After a sleep of two hundred years—and more—one night she had stirred
and turned herself, shaking her mountain and the village on its slope.
The next morning a thin, gray streamer floated from the top of the cone;
and the old people said: ‘Xyntli’s veil! Oh, when she sees—’ And they
shook their heads.

“Since that day the veil had floated, sometimes like a broad banner,
then again Xyntli drew it in until it was gathered down inside. But yet,
she had not looked out and seen how the forests and streams were
defacing her mountain.

“And the Bee Baby didn’t look up at the great blue triangle. The kitchen
was at the right of the house; and he had a feeling that said:
‘Breakfast.’ So those good little feet carried him over to the big stone
where the women ground corn to make the flat cakes that he liked to
nibble with his brand-new teeth. The stone oven where they were baked
was there too; and the Bee Baby found some cakes lying on the
grinding-stone. He had to stand on his tiptoes and feel over the stone,
to find them; but he knew where to feel, and where to find a banana,
too. So why should he wake the cook?

“With the flat cakes in one hand and the bitten banana in the other, he
set out, following the level sunbeams into the green grove. He knew just
where he wanted to go, and trotted straight on until he came to an old
tree.

“If it had been a _tree_ that he was looking for, it wasn’t much to see.
It hadn’t a green leaf on it, and only a few scraggly branches. But he
was not a bird, nor a squirrel; he was a Bee Baby. And considered as a
beehive, it left nothing to wish for. There was the fine hollow trunk to
store the honey; and a round knot-hole near the ground, for the bees to
pass in and out, all day long, in sunshiny weather. And that funny brown
baby never seemed tired of watching them—hurrying off, and coming back
dusty with pollen, and with masses of it in the pockets on their legs,
or laden with clear, sweet honey. Sometimes a bee lit on his finger.
Then the wise baby sat quite still, and never brushed it off; so he
didn’t find out that it carried a needle in its tail—as sharp as its
temper. (But he was careless about letting the dimple come in his cheek.
It’s a wonder the bees didn’t fly in, it was so deep and red and sweet.)

“When the baby came to the tree this morning, even he could see that
something was different. The bees were not going about the business of
the day—gathering honey—in their usual orderly fashion. No, indeed! They
were running in and out of the knot-hole, helter-skelter; and such a
humming as there was inside the tree!

“He came close to the trunk to listen, and a gray cockatoo sat on a tree
near by and watched. And it’s a pity there was no one else to see what a
quaint little figure he was, with one arm clasping the tree-trunk, as
far as it would go, with a cake still grasped in his chubby hand, and
his ear pressed against the rough bark—listening—listening—

“‘Buzz-z-z-z,’ hummed the bees; and the baby listened, with lips
apart,—serious and wondering.

“Then that soulless cockatoo ‘squawked’ as if it were the funniest thing
in the world, and swung herself, head down, around the branch where she
had been sitting; and then worked her way into the next tree, clutching
the vines with beak or claw, squawking all the way. She had neither
manners nor dignity; and she was a grandmother, too.

“Her noise startled the Bee Baby so he toppled over; but he didn’t mind,
and sat where he fell, to finish his cake and to watch.

“The buzzing in the hive was louder now, and there were very few bees
outside. Then—all at once—they began to come out in numbers, and flew
wildly about before they collected on a low branch near by. You can’t
imagine how many there were—all in a dark cluster clinging to the vine.
The baby never had seen anything like it, and his eyes were round with
amazement. He got up from the hummock, to see more plainly.

“Perhaps because he disturbed them, as he came near, the whole mass rose
together in the air, and flew up a natural path through the forest. And
straight after them went the Baby!

“But it was not a fair race; for they had wings to fly, and several
thousand eyes apiece to see where they were going; and he had only his
two small feet to carry him, and his one pair of eyes to watch the bees.
So he couldn’t look where his feet were going; and the next thing that
happened—he tripped and fell on his nose.

“It didn’t hurt him, and he picked himself up; but the bees were gone,
and he could only follow on in the direction they had flown.

“He was such a baby, it isn’t likely he even remembered what he was
looking for; but there were other things to see beside bees; and a green
forest, with birds and monkeys and all kinds of little living creatures
in it, is a fine place to be in.

“So he strayed on, amusing himself in his baby way, until he had gone
really a considerable distance from the village, and was on a ridge of
high land that ran up the mountain.

“Suddenly, something was the matter with the ground, and try as he
would, he couldn’t stand up on it—it was swaying—and the forest was full
of strange noises; and a black cloud covered the sun so that it grew
dark all in a moment. The great trees groaned and waved their branches,
as if they too were trying to balance themselves on the rocking Earth.
Those that were young and supple held their own; but a few that were old
and dry fell crashing, and carried others down in their fall.

“But though the trees cried and shrieked in their distress and
amazement,—and the monkeys and birds too,—the Bee Baby never made a
sound. He lay pressed close against the ground in the awful darkness; as
chickens cower when the mother hen sees the hawk’s shadow, and sounds
her warning to them.

“He was like a little frightened animal, too, when the rocking stopped,
and the forest gradually grew quiet around him; and he crept along the
ground, through the green tangle, to where a tree had fallen against a
cleft in the rocky ledge, carrying a mass of vines down with it, and
making a sort of den or shelter.

“The brown baby crawled into the farthest corner, and huddled down close
under the rock, to wait helplessly for whatever was to come.”

The Princess paused. “Poor little soul!” said Phyllisy. “Please go on,
Dearie.” And after a moment, she began to speak again:—

“Of course you know—though the Bee Baby didn’t—what was making all this
disturbance; and if he hadn’t left home so early that morning, before
his people were awake, they wouldn’t have forgotten all about him. But
when they were awake, they found enough to think of in watching Xyntli.

“There stood the giant cone of the mountain, with the thin gray streak
of her veil floating from the top.

“It looked very peaceful.

“Suddenly—without further warning—Xyntli stood, straight and tall, in
the top of the mountain, borne up on the servant-winds that live with
her inside!

“Her veil wrapped her from head to foot, and its loose folds were blown
upward by the breath of the winds. Her hair streamed through its topmost
folds like gleaming flames; and the blue flashes that shot forth from
the veil might have been the anger that flared in her blue eyes when she
saw the outside of her mountain!

“Now, for the snakes!

“She gave a strange, wailing cry—like the wind, or flames rushing up the
black throat of the chimney—and down in the depths of the mountain her
fiery serpents came writhing out of their caverns, obedient to her call.
The blue cone and the whole countryside shuddered with their motion; and
as their hot breath scorched the inside of the mountain, thick black
smoke arose like thunderclouds, and blotted out the sun. Then the heads
of the fiery monsters peered over the rim at the mountain’s top, and
they came crawling, gliding down its sides.

“And the very fiercest, hungriest of them all was rushing straight to
the village of bird-cage huts, nestling in the hollow upon the slope of
the mountain!

“It was a splendid sight—the mighty cone, purple in the midday darkness,
with the green forest at its base, and the serpents, like rivers of
fire, pouring down its sides. Smoke and flame rose, streaming upward,
where they passed.

“And in the midst of the murky clouds, on the mountain-top, stood
Xyntli, beautiful exceedingly, in her iridescent, gray veil, with her
glittering, red-gold hair. Swaying lightly on the shoulders of her
servant-winds, waving her arms and crying, she urged on her fiery
snakes, that were to restore her kingdom to her as she would have
it—clean, smooth, unbroken;—the pattern of a perfect mountain!

“But the people in the village saw the terror, not the beauty; and they
thought only of their flight from it.

“They huddled the babies and the old people who couldn’t walk and their
few poor possessions onto the ox-carts. Some of them tried to drive the
spotted pigs before them; and any one who has tried to drive _one_ pig
(a plain one at that) can imagine how much confusion it made when there
were dozens and dozens. And it’s not to be wondered at, that the aunts
and the grandmother didn’t count correctly. So they didn’t miss the Bee
Baby until they were far away; and the body of Xyntli’s hideous snake
lay stretched across the blackened hollow where the little huts had
stood in the green grove.

[Illustration:

  THEY THOUGHT ONLY OF THEIR FLIGHT
]

“There is a curious thing about a snake. It has a habit of slipping out
of its skin, and squirming away, leaving the old one behind, looking
quite like itself.

“Xyntli’s snakes were unusual in many ways; but in this they certainly
did something very like the rest of their tribe. When they had gone down
the mountains and filled up the hollows with their bodies, their fiery
hearts seemed to die out of them where they lay. One might think they
were asleep, or dead; but I believe it was only their cast-off skins
they left behind, while the real snakes stole back into the mountain, to
be ready when Xyntli wanted them again.”

“I believe it, too; that’s what they did,” said Pat.

“If they didn’t, they wouldn’t be there always, when she called,” agreed
Phyllisy.

“It seems so to me,” said the Princess. Then she took up the story
again: “At last Xyntli stopped her wild motion and looked down on her
mountain.

“The snakes had done their work well this time. There were no hollows
left, and no green thing but one slender spur of forest, like a finger
pointing up the slope, and that was hardly worth noticing.

“The smoke was thin now, and blue. Xyntli stood, swaying softly on the
mountain-top. Then she sank slowly, drawing her veil after her. Now she
was nearly gone; now, only a gleam of her red hair flickered against the
sky; now—she was quite gone—

“When—suddenly she shot up, straight, towering above the cone, and flung
a long fold of her veil wide over the land; and from it fell a shower of
fine powder, soft as snow, that filled all the cracks and crevices and
covered the horrid bodies of the snakes, and choked every green thing
left in its track.

“Then—as suddenly—Xyntli vanished! and in her hollow mountain, slept
once more.”

The Princess’s voice died away in a hush that lasted a long moment, as
if some one really were sleeping.

Then Pat drew a deep breath: “Well! I should say! For pitysakes! I hope
she’s done mischief enough for once!”

“She didn’t mean it for mischief. She had to make the mountain clean,
didn’t she, Dearie? She couldn’t help it if they were in the way,” said
Miss Phyllisy, with the wise little mind the Princess loved in her,
clear and fair and earnest.

“But she wouldn’t be sorry,” Pat insisted.

“No; she went straight off to sleep,” Phyllisy admitted. “And that poor
little baby!—We’re ready to go on, Dearie, whenever you’re rested.”

And after a few minutes the Princess was ready also.

“There isn’t much that goes on on Mother Earth that the Star People
don’t know about,” she began, whisking them away to Starland without any
warning. “On clear nights, when they are standing still to be looked at,
they watch—and watch. And Old Sol keeps watch by day. So there is not
much that escapes them: certainly not Xyntli and her naps, and
particularly her wakings!

“She was a tantalizing person in this way: though they might look at her
naps—that were nothing to see but a place!—as much and as long as they
liked, no sooner was she fairly awake than the clouds would gather
thick, and the Star People had to seize every chance to look through
chinks. Any one who had a good sight had to tell it over to the others,
again and again. But they did have glimpses, and Sol too; and after it
was all over they could see what had been done. So they had a pretty
clear idea of her and her actions.”

Pat nodded her head, as if she had, too; but she didn’t speak.

“When Xyntli vanished in her mountain the sky was full of heavy clouds;
so when night came the Star People stationed themselves wherever there
seemed the chance for a tiny gap, through which they might look.

“Now, Old Sol dearly loved the Bee Baby; and he had told the Zodiac
People all about the quaint little child who was so happy by himself, in
the sunshine, watching the bees. So the Star People understood just what
Andromeda meant when she exclaimed, from her chink in the cloud:—

“‘The Bee Baby is left all alone by himself in that strip of forest on
the ridge!’

“‘Are you thure? I didn’t thee him,’ said Draco, at another chink.

“‘You’re always imagining things,’ said Orion.

“‘I didn’t imagine this,’ insisted Andromeda. ‘The light from Lady
Moon’s lantern shone through for a moment, and I saw him
plainly—standing in front of a dark hole in the rock. Then he ran back,
as if he were frightened.’

“‘Well, I’d like to know what his people are made of!’ said Cassiopeia.
‘They don’t deserve to have a child, if they can’t take better care of
him than that!’

“‘Maybe they aren’t so bad,’ said Hercules. ‘I don’t believe Xyntli
asked ’em which way they’d rather be chased out. When they saw those
snakes coming they hadn’t any time to go back for stray babies! I don’t
mind snakes, myself, big or little, but I want ’em cold! They are,
too—mostly.’

“‘Too what?’ asked Perseus.

“‘Cold,’ answered Hercules; ‘toads, too.’

“‘I thought you said you’d rather have them cold?’

“‘I would. And they are—mostly.’

“‘Then why did you say they were _too_ cold?’

“‘I didn’t. I want ’em that way. And they are, too.’

“‘But you’—

“‘There’s a conundrum about that,’ interrupted Orion. (He couldn’t stand
it, to have them go on arguing.) ‘I’ve forgotten what it is; but the
answer is: Because a hot snake is better than a cold hop.’

“‘Why! that isn’t it—at _all_!’ said Andromeda.

“‘I should think you were all cold snakes and toads yourselves!’ broke
in Cassiopeia, indignantly. ‘Arguing like that, with that poor child all
alone in the middle of desolation! What do you propose to do about it?’

“‘There isn’t anything we can do,’ said Cepheus. ‘It isn’t our place.’

“‘Xyntli is the one who ought to do something. She made all the
trouble,’ said Andromeda.

“‘Don’t you be so silly,’ said Cassiopeia. ‘This is a serious matter.’

“‘I thouldn’t like her to bring up _my_ child,’ said Draco. ‘The ’th too
exthitable.’

“‘We can decide about yours when you have one!’ said Cassiopeia. ‘Now,
who is going after that baby? Because I think they’d better be
starting.’

“‘What over the sun are you talking about?’ asked Orion. ‘Going where?’

“‘We are going to adopt that Bee Baby. If some one doesn’t start at
once, I shall go myself!’

“‘_Adopt the Bee Baby!_’ cried every one in chorus. They were too much
astounded to say anything original; they could only repeat her
words—though they knew it was rude.

“‘That was what I said,’ said Cassiopeia.

“‘But you can’t,’ said Orion. ‘No one ever thought of doing such a
thing. It isn’t the Rule of the Sky.’

“‘Do you know any Rule that _says_ we can’t?’ asked Cassiopeia.

“‘No,’ answered Orion; and that disposed of him.

“‘How could you take care of him?’ asked Perseus. ‘He’d keep getting
lost; and he mightn’t like it.’

“‘It’s a pity if I can’t take care of one small child, and make him
happy!’ said Cassiopeia. ‘I’ll learn.’

“‘Wouldn’t he just love to watch Sol’s bees!’ said Andromeda. ‘It would
be a good thing to have some one to watch them; there’s always such a
fuss when they swarm.’

“‘Yeth, indeed!’ said Draco. ‘Don’t you remember latht time?—when they
got away when no one wath notithing, and every one thought they were a
comet?’

“‘Yes,’ said Cassiopeia. ‘It might have made a great deal of trouble. I
think we really need him. I’m going now. Is any one coming with me?’

“‘_No!_’ exclaimed Cepheus. ‘I forbid it! I am your husband, Cassiopeia;
and I will be obeyed!’

“Every one looked at him—startled to hear him speak like that. He stood
holding up his sceptre in a magnificent attitude, and looked absolutely
majestic. Cassiopeia was too much astonished to speak for a moment, but
Andromeda slipped her fingers into his and laid her cheek against his
shoulder; and when he bent his head to listen to her pretty coaxing in
his ear, his crown tilted a trifle, and he looked like his usual,
cloudy-night self. So no one was surprised to hear him say:—

“‘Yes, I suppose so. But your mother needn’t go.’

“‘I’ll go,’ said some one who hadn’t spoken before.

“It was Lady Moon.”

(“Oh-h,” said the Others, softly, and very glad; and the Princess smiled
back at them.)

“The moment she spoke, the Star People felt every perplexity smoothed
away, and it all became simple and plain. There wasn’t the slightest
reason in the Heavens, why they should not take that lonely little baby
for their own, to care for and to love.

“The clouds in piled-up masses lay low on Xyntli’s mountain; and it was
an easy matter for the Star People to follow Lady Moon down from level
to level. When they reached the limit of the cloud-stairway, they could
see once more; how right it was that they should wait—their blazing
glory hidden—while Lady Moon, her lantern darkened, should slip unseen
down the bare shoulder of the mountain, to the strip of forest, left
like a dark finger pointing up the slope.

“Ah, but think of a helpless, frightened little child—only two years and
a scrap over—alone in a dark cave in that awful desolation!

“How must he have felt—that little Bee Baby—when, suddenly, a soft light
shone into the cave, and he looked into the face of the loveliest of
ladies, who was holding her lantern so that it disclosed to her—huddled
into the farthest corner of the cave—a small brown heap. Only the eyes,
like a little frightened animal’s, looking out of it, showed that it was
alive.

“And the baby?

[Illustration:

  HIS WONDERING EYES LOOKED FROM LADY MOON’S SHOULDER
]

“When he looked into that pitying face, and saw the tender arms held out
to him, his own went out in answer; and then he was held close—nestled
like a young bird or a tired baby—as he was—in the shelter of that
loving breast.

“Then, what baby king had ever such a royal progress as that brown
little child?

“His wondering eyes looked from Lady Moon’s shoulder, as she carried him
up the stately stairway of mass upon mass of cloud, whose lowest step
was the mighty mountain, and whose highest led to the measureless
Heavens! And grouped along its heights were the radiant Star People,
whose splendors might have frightened him if their faces had not been so
kind with loving welcome. All those of whom we have talked, and many
more, assembled to welcome one little helpless child.

“It was worth it, to see his eyes shine and the happy dimple come in his
cheek. He clasped one arm, tight, around Lady Moon’s neck, and stretched
out the other to these new friends, without a trace of fear. Why should
he be afraid? Hadn’t he loved the shining sun, and all beautiful things,
his whole two years of life?

“So he listened to the song Lady Moon sang low to him; and as they
passed along, the Star People caught the refrain, and took it up:—

                      “The sorrow is over;
                      Thy Star life’s begun.
                      Hear the golden bees humming
                      For joy at thy coming,
                      Oh, little Bee Baby,
                      Dear child of the Sun!

“Listen!” said the Princess.

There was a sound, very small and clear and
silvery:—One—two—three—four—and _One more!_

And that was a Bewitchment! Everybody must vanish at once!



                                  VII
                          LADY MOON’S LANTERN


On the terrace there was a Pergola—that was two rows of white columns
with criss-cross bars overhead and vines growing over it. There were
built-in seats between the columns, but there were always chairs
besides.

There was no one in it. Down below, in the garden, there were Shapes
flitting about in the dusk. They came up out of it, to the Pergola, all
together; and they were the Princess and the Others.

A large spider was spinning down, with a clear yellow sky behind it, at
the far end of the Pergola. They were obliged to watch it. It dropped
and sprung, elastic, on the end of its thread—then dropped—and sprung;
and then it clawed up again, working its legs. They could see them
distinctly against the sky, though it was quite a distance away. Out at
their end, the sky was cool, with a white moon in it; so there were two
kinds of shadows: large, blurred ones from the last daylight; and in
them, moon-shadows of the vines on the long white seats and on the floor
and down one side of the Princess’s dress—sitting in a chair. The
moon-shadows were very faint, but they were a clear pattern, and the
daylight shadows had no edges; soon there would be only moon. It was
very interesting.

And the slide of Lady Moon’s lantern was about three quarters open.

“Wasn’t it lovely she took him?” said Phyllisy. “I’d rather she than
anybody else.”

“But it stopped short,” said Pat.

“That was a proper end of a story, with everybody happy,” said the
Princess. “You wouldn’t want any more than that, would you?”

“The people weren’t, with the houses and everything spoiled.”

“But they built new ones, very quickly. It doesn’t take long to build a
house like a bird-cage. They drove the loaded ox-carts only a little way
down the slope of the mountain; and before you could think, there was a
new village just like the old, and everything was just as it was before.
The brown babies and the spotted pigs ran and tumbled about, and the
women went right on grinding corn to make more and more flat cakes; but
they didn’t do much housework or sewing, and everybody slept a good deal
in the midday heat; then when the cool evening came they gathered
together to visit comfortably, while the children played about in the
moonlight.”

“Like us?” asked the Kitten.

“Like us,” said the Princess. “Only you aren’t playing about; you are
listening to more story.”

“Oh, is it more?” asked Pat.

“A tiny bit,” said the Princess. And the Others wriggled down into their
places to listen quite differently from the way they listened when it
was conversation. She began to speak in a still voice:—

“So it was one night when the full, round moon shone, silver-bright
above the treetops. One of the women sat a little apart, and watched it
soaring among the stars. And as she looked, it seemed to her it was not
quite round; a tiny slice was gone from one edge.

“‘See the moon!’ she called to the others, pointing upward.

“They gathered near; and as they watched it, the dark shadow crept
forward, across the face of the moon.

“‘What is it?’ asked the children.

“‘I know not,’ said the old grandmother. ‘It comes so at times; but
never have I seen it like this. Before, it has covered the whole moon,
or gone over one edge—like a great shadow. But this is round, like a
dark ball, and small. See, the moon shows around it.’

“It was as she said: a thin thread of light, like a silver ring, almost
surrounded the dark something that came between their eyes and the moon.

“‘It is just like the Bee Baby!’ said one of the children. ‘Don’t you
remember how round his little head was?’

“‘I wonder what became of him,’ said another.

“‘Perhaps he’s there—in the sky,’ said a third.

“But the grandmother said: ‘You are foolish children. He is dead.
Xyntli’s snakes could tell—’

“Wise children know when to stop arguing with older people about things
that only children understand. So they said no more to the grandmother,
but drew away, and talked and whispered to each other—while the small
round shadow passed on, across the bright lantern of the moon, and left
it clear once more.”

[Illustration:

  THE SMALL ROUND SHADOW PASSED ON ACROSS THE BRIGHT LANTERN OF THE MOON
]


“But it was truly the Bee Baby,” said Pat. “And now they could know what
became of him.”

“What did he do to the moon?” asked the Kitten, because she didn’t
exactly understand.

“What do you think about this?” asked the Princess. “If a little
child—so tall”—she showed, with her hand—“follows a beautiful lady with
a lantern hung on her arm, don’t you think, once in a great while, his
round little head _might_ come in the way, and interfere with its
light?”

“It did. That was it,” said the Kitten comfortably.

Then, with Lady Moon throwing leaf patterns and white light down upon
them, and the whole world very still, the Princess told them a song:—

         “Who loves to follow wherever you roam,
               Lady Moon?”
                   “Bee Baby.”
         “Is he happy in Starland?—so far from his home?”
               “He may be.

                 “Over Milky-Way meadows
                   Fly the bees, living gold;
                 There he strays, blessed Lamb,
                   Safe, with love for his fold.”

         “Who comes to nestle so close in your arm,
               Lady Moon?”
                   “Bee Baby.”
         “Is he falling asleep, to a Starland lullaby’s charm?”
               “Hush—he may be!”



                                  VIII
                          ANDROMEDA’S BIRTHDAY


                      “Nine more days,
                      And then comes a birthday,”

the Kitten sang, over and over, making different tunes each time. She
sang it softly, to herself, but it was loud enough to be heard.

“Dear-my-soul!” said the Princess. “Whatever will happen when you’re a
seven-year-longlegs, ’stead of six? Skeeters, you know.”

The Kitten stopped singing and rubbed her leg where there were lumpy
spots above her socks.

“She’ll have stockings when they get too long,” said Pat.

“And the next thing we know, she’ll begin to be a Cat! Why don’t you
have birthdays like the Star People’s?”

“What kind?” asked the Kitten.

“Steady and reliable,” said the Princess. “Everybody is exactly the
right age to begin, and then they never grow any older.”

“But they are different ages,” Pat objected.

“The right age for _them_,” the Princess explained. “Haven’t you noticed
that they were?”

The Others thought about it for a minute, and decided that they couldn’t
very well be different.

“But if they are always going along the same, perhaps they wouldn’t
notice their birthdays,” said Phyllisy.

“Indeed, they would,” said the Princess, earnestly. “They’re
particularly good about remembering dates and anniversaries and times of
the year. And they’d never think of letting a birthday go by without
noticing it.”

“Would they have a party?” asked the Kitten.

“They do usually. Do you think it would help you along a little through
one of those nine days, to hear about one of them?”

And the Kitten seemed to think it would.

“Whose birthday is it going to be?” asked Pat.

“Andromeda’s, the same year that the Sailor’s Star was stolen; and Orion
gave the party. You remember the young meteors that he had planted were
just coming up in his garden when Cassiopeia came to tell him what a
misfortune had happened? All those same young plants had kept on growing
and growing, unusually well, and Orion was as proud of them as a comet
with two tails. They promised to be ripe just in time for Andromeda’s
birthday, and he said he would like to give the party.”

“To eat them?” asked Pat.

“Never!” said the Princess. “I thought you knew about meteors: when they
are exactly ripe you give them a bit of a pinch. Pop! goes a beautiful
starlet with a trail of gold-dust behind it.”

“Fireworks,” said the Kitten.

“That’s the way a balsam seed pops,” said Phyllisy.

“Yes, it reminds me of it,” agreed the Princess. “When they are ripe one
has to be very careful not to hit them, or they go off too soon. Orion
wouldn’t even pick off a leaf or pull up a weed, he was being so careful
to save every one for the birthday celebration; and how he did have to
watch the dogs, to keep them out!

“The night before, it was partly cloudy, and Orion almost drove
Cassiopeia wild, dodging about behind the drifting clouds, making his
last arrangements. Little Bear, too. It seemed as if he were possessed,
he who was always so quiet and steady—‘The best Little Bear that ever
happened!’ Andromeda used to say, when she gave him a bear-hug, and then
rubbed his soft fur the wrong way, from his tail clear down his nose, to
feel the tingles and see the sparks fly. But no sooner had they begun to
talk about her birthday than he began to be excited; and this last night
it seemed as if he could not keep still. Whenever a cloud lay so that he
could, he would go clear to the edge of it to watch Orion. Once,
Cassiopeia could scarcely believe her eyes: there was Orion, talking to
Lady Moon behind the clouds; then she saw Little Bear crowding in
between them, looking up at them eagerly. Orion was too much engrossed
to notice him, but Cassiopeia called at the top of her voice (and it was
a very high top), ‘Come here _this minute_, Little Bear! I should think
you were crazy!’

“He heard her, and came prancing back, zigzag, as fast as he could dodge
from cloud to cloud. When he was back in his place, barely in the nick
of time, his eyes almost twinkled out of his head, and his fur shone so
that Cassiopeia could hardly see his stars. She couldn’t help laughing,
though she was annoyed. It was bad enough for Orion to dodge around like
that; but his legs were so long he could get back to his place always
before the clouds floated off.

“The next night no one could have asked for better star-weather, just
plain clouds, not a jumpy kind to keep them wondering every half-hour
what it was going to do.

“A little before midnight the Star People began to come to the party.
Orion was the first to arrive, then Hercules and Draco.”

“Not Little Bear?” asked the Kitten.

“He was there without arriving—Andromeda and Cepheus and Cassiopeia and
Perseus and Little Bear. Very soon there was such a noise and chattering
down the Sky that one might have thought a whole flock of magpies was
coming: but Orion and Draco and Cassiopeia knew better, and magpies
don’t squeal and giggle quite like that.

“‘Jutht hear thothe Pleiadeth girlth,’ said Draco. ‘I don’t thee how any
one can be tho thilly.’

“‘That’s because you never were a girl,’ said Cepheus. At that,
Andromeda began to giggle too; and the more she tried to stop, the
harder she giggled.

“‘Now, what’th the matter with _her_?’ asked Draco.

“And then Andromeda squealed, and laughed so she choked, and Perseus had
to thump her on the back, while she gasped: ‘To think of Draco’s being a
g-gu-girl!—_Oh!_’

“‘She’s one, all right,’ remarked Orion, ‘and here are the others.’

“Maybe they were silly, but the seven Misses Pleiades certainly were
pretty to look at as they came in sight. Their gowns were of thin golden
gauze, with a multitude of tiny stars woven into the underdress; their
interlacing beams made a pattern, like gold embroidery, and they
shimmered faintly through the mist-like tissue that veiled them.

“They wore no other stars but one above the forehead. The stars of six
of the sisters were very brilliant, but the seventh was puzzling. When
one gave a quick glance and looked away one could see the star quite
plainly; but when one looked directly at her it was gone! It was like
the place where a star had been. This sister’s name was Merope, and her
eyes were so sweet and gentle that the people who loved her never missed
the star from her soft brown hair.

“The tallest of the sisters, whose name was Maia, came ahead (as much as
any one could be ahead where they all walked in a bunch!), and she
called to Orion: ‘Oh, weren’t you mean! Why didn’t you wait for us?’

“‘Didn’t you hear us calling you?’ cried Taygeta.

“‘We thought we’d be late,’ said Electra (no one thought of waiting for
an answer), ‘Taygeta kept us waiting so.’

“‘I never!’ said Taygeta. ‘It was Alcyone!’ Then they all looked at each
other and giggled again, and Andromeda giggled with them, where she and
Merope stood with their arms around each other’s waists. It was a
giggling match, and Cepheus and Cassiopeia and Orion and Hercules and
Perseus and Draco and Castor and Pollux—”

“The Zodiacs?” asked Phyllisy.

“Yes, the Gemini Brothers.”

“Did Sol let them?” asked Pat.

“Of course, for a party. They came just after the Pleiades girls. They
all looked at the gigglers, and they smiled because they were young and
pretty, and _they_ seemed to know what they were laughing at, but the
others couldn’t guess what it was, to save them!”

“Weren’t they silly?” said Pat. “But we do it, too.”

“And quite big girls—much bigger than we,” added Phyllisy.

“Even worse, Miss Phyllisy. I’ve noticed it,” said the Princess.

“Finally Cepheus said: ‘You might as well go home, Orion. These girls
don’t want a party to-night.’

“‘Oh, yes, we do!’ they cried. ‘Only Taygeta—’ Then they were off again.

“‘Come, come!’ said Cassiopeia. ‘Just pretend you have a little sense!’

“‘Draco has!’ cried Andromeda. ‘_He_ never was a girl!’

“Then everybody laughed together—Draco, and all; and when they were
quieted down they were ready to begin the party.

“Andromeda and Perseus took Little Bear and went off a little way, while
Orion placed the other Star People in two lines that led up to
Cassiopeia’s Chair. She and Cepheus stood at the head of the lines, on
either side of the chair. And then they began to sing Andromeda’s
Birthday Song:—

 “The stars sang together at the little maiden’s birth;
           They watched her through the years
           Of gladness and of tears;
 And they said: ‘She’ll come to dwell with us when she shall leave the
    Earth.

 “‘She shall bring an earthly blessing in which we have no part;
           We can only shine by night,
           When the sun has sunk from sight;
 She shall bring the sunshine with her—though it’s hidden in her heart!’

 “A thousand, thousand greetings to the maiden, ever young!
           As the years the birthdays bring,
           The stars together sing
 The praise of maid the sweetest whose praise was ever sung!

“As the Star People sang, Perseus led Andromeda slowly up to them.
Little Bear walked ahead; and he was so proud and, at the same time, so
excited, that he hardly knew whether he wanted to walk in a very
dignified way, or to prance and dance. The consequence was, he did both.
Every few steps, he made a funny little skip; then he was so embarrassed
to think he had done it that he’d rub his paw over his nose, and almost
tip over, because he was walking along all the time.

“How they did laugh at him! all but Andromeda; she looked very serious
and grave, because it was a Ceremony. As she walked, with her hand in
Perseus’, between her friends to the chair where her father and mother
stood waiting for her, she was so sweet and modest and stately—like a
little queen—that no one who saw her could have helped loving her.

“There was no doubt how Cepheus and Cassiopeia felt about it, when she
stopped before them, and Perseus and Little Bear stepped back; then she
clasped her hands and recited, in her clear, fresh voice, her little
verse:—

                 “With heartfelt joy and thankfulness,
                 I come to you, that you may bless
                 Your happy child to-day.
                 You, whom I owe all reverence
                 And love and prompt obedience,
                 Accept them now, I pray!

“A father-and-mother kiss on one’s birthday isn’t the gayest part of it,
but we know it’s the best—don’t we, Kitten?—and Andromeda is the only
Star Person who can have it. That is one reason why they love to keep
her birthday; it can be so complete.

“Cassiopeia and Cepheus placed Andromeda in the great chair, and the
Star People came, one by one, and knelt and kissed her hand, then
fastened a star-daisy in her hair—they kissed her pretty pink cheek too,
when they had done it; but that was just love and extra, not part of the
ceremony; so they made her a beautiful crown, and she looked more like a
queen than ever.

“When this was over she stepped down from the chair and took Perseus’
hand, and, with Little Bear ahead once more, they went down the Sky.
Orion followed with Maia; then Castor and Taygeta, and Pollux and
Alcyone. Hercules took Merope, because she was so gentle and never
laughed at him. That left three of the Pleiades girls,—Electra, Celeno,
and Sterope,—but Draco said: ‘That’th all right. I gueth I can walk with
three girlth. I’m long enough!’ How they squealed and giggled! But that
was the way they arranged it; and Cepheus and Cassiopeia came at the end
of the procession.”

“Where was it going?” asked Pat.

“First, they were going all around the Zodiac to carry greetings to the
people who were shut up. They always did it on birthdays, and they liked
that part, but it took a good while, and this time Orion was impatient
to have it over. He wanted to have them come to his especial share of
the party.

“And at last they came in sight of his garden; and Little Bear skipped
the funniest prance yet, when he saw what was waiting for them. This was
what Orion was talking about the night before, to Lady Moon.” The
Princess stopped just long enough to let the Others wonder what it could
be.——

“A moonbow,” began the Princess, and the Others said, “Oh-h!”

“A moonbow,” she repeated, “isn’t so gayly colored as a rainbow, but it
is shinier, and the most delightful thing you can imagine, to sit on, to
see a meteor party. And kind Lady Moon stood with her lantern behind the
edge of a cloud, so that the light shouldn’t interfere with the meteors,
and held the bow steady, exactly in the best place.

“Cassiopeia declared she never could walk up; but she did—to the top,
and sat down, with Little Bear cuddled up by her side with his toes
straight out in front of him, between her and Andromeda. The others
settled themselves on either side—all except Hercules and Draco. Draco
would have taken too much room; and Hercules said:—

“‘I guess I’ll stay here. If that cloud should happen to flop around,
that thing would go out like winkin’. I’ve seen ’em do it.’

“The Pleiades girls shrieked, and pretended they were coming down; and
Draco said: ‘Never mind. I’ll catth you if it meltth.’

“‘You sit still,’ said Orion. ‘That moonbow is there to stay. Lady Moon
and I know about that.’ But they never meant to get down; they only
liked to make a fuss.—What is it, Kitten?” The Princess could tell, by
the way she wriggled, when she wanted to know something.

She held her foot tight and rocked on her tucked-under leg when she
asked it: “Was the Bee Baby too young to invite?”

“He would have been rather young for a party; but that wasn’t the reason
he didn’t come. This birthday was before there was any Bee Baby. Little
Bear was the only child they had.”

“All right,” said the Kitten. “Then what did they do?”

“At last, when they were all settled on the moonbow, Orion went into his
garden. He stooped over one of the bushes, very carefully, lest he
should rub against some of the others, and gave just the right kind of a
pinch,—then, ‘Ah-h,’ said the Star People, as a lovely meteor flew
up—up, over their heads, leaving a little trail of gold-dust behind it.

“That was the beginning; and Orion had good reason to be proud of his
garden, for each meteor seemed lovelier than the last. They couldn’t
decide whether the blue ones were prettier than the red or the green; or
those that flew in straight lines than those that flew in spirals, they
were all so beautiful.

“So it went on with hardly a mishap. Almost every meteor was just ripe,
and Orion joggled only two so that they went off too soon; and he had
come to the last two bushes. They stood side by side and were the finest
in the garden; that was why he had saved them for the last.

“‘What are those dogs after?’ asked Cepheus. Orion had left them with
Sagittarius, in the Zodiac, for fear of accidents.

“‘Where?’ called Orion, who couldn’t see from the garden, so well as
they from the moonbow.

“‘There they come,’ said Cassiopeia, and they all craned their necks to
see.

“‘Yap! yap!’ cried the dogs, and on they came; and just ahead of
them—barely out of reach—was—? A comet, of course! What else could it
be? It was only a scrap of a comet, with a stub of a tail, and how it
was scrabbling along!

“It was heading straight by, when it saw Orion standing by his meteor
bushes; and what did that bad, mischievous little comet do, but turn
square off, with a flirt of his saucy tail under the dogs’ noses, and
make directly for the two bushes! Straight after it came the dogs—and
three Orions couldn’t have stopped them, they hated a comet so—and
rip—smash! they ran right through the bushes, and thirty meteors at once
flew up in one splendid blaze!

“Orion’s first thought was that it was a misfortune, and spoiled the end
of his party. But Cassiopeia said, as soon as she could get her breath:
‘I think that was perfectly splendid! And you never would have had the
heart to send them all off at once, like that!’

“‘Yes, indeed!’ said every one else; and Orion thought so, too.”

“I’d rather,” said Pat. “Wouldn’t you?”

“Much rather,” agreed the Princess. “Who would choose deliberately to
have a party fizzle out, when it might go in

[Illustration:

  THREE ORIONS COULDN’T HAVE STOPPED THEM
]

a blaze of glory? It was time to go home, anyway; so they climbed down
from the moonbow.

“‘Oh, hasn’t this been the loveliest party we ever had?’ said Andromeda.

“‘Yes, it has,’ said Merope. ‘And I know who has enjoyed it more than
anybody.’

“‘Who?’

“‘Little Bear.’

“Andromeda turned and dropped on her knees beside him to give him a hug,
and his eyes twinkled like stars.

“‘Bless his little heart!’ said Cassiopeia. ‘I wish we could keep his
birthday, but nobody knows when it is.’

“‘But we love him just the same!’ said Andromeda, rubbing his fur the
wrong way and ending with a little shake of his nose—and the sparks flew
as if he were a garden of meteors himself. And that was really the end
of the party.”


The Kitten had something in her mind to do at once when she was
perfectly sure the party was over. For that very minute when the
Princess came to the end and Pat and Miss Phyllisy began to talk about
it, she slipped her foot out from under her to have it ready to walk on.
And the next minute, when Phyllisy looked around to see why the child
wasn’t talking too, when it was rather especially her story, she was
already starting away—and she didn’t care to tell what for.

Because they wondered, and they knew she wouldn’t mind—it was only that
she didn’t like to explain—they followed after. When she was clear away,
the Kitten began to run, so when they came to the place in the garden
where the balsams grew all in a row, she was there and had found a ripe
one.

There were very few flowers left, and a great many seedpods, and when
they pinched them at the tip—or only barely touched them—they popped
delightfully, but there didn’t any star shoot out.

But they pretended there did; and—as Miss Phyllisy remarked—you couldn’t
see actual fireworks if you set them off with the sun shining like that.



                                   IX
                            A SURPRISE PARTY


It seemed to the Others that the Princess was a _long_ time coming. And
once they had been afraid they wouldn’t be ready in time. But they
were—too soon, and it was the watching that made it seem so long. They
_flew_ when they saw her, and hurried her along.

“It’s something to surprise you,” said Miss Phyllisy.

“We did it all this morning,” added Pat.

“Thought of it and gathered them and everything,” chattered the Kitten,
walking on all sides of them.

“Don’t you tell,” warned Pat’s eyebrows.

“You couldn’t guess, could you?” asked the Kitten.

“Now stop; from here,” said Phyllisy, “shut your eyes and we’ll lead you
so you won’t see too soon.”

So the Princess shut her eyes, and Pat and Phyllisy led her and the
Kitten went ahead over the lawn until they said, “Now, open!”

Directly before them was the great wicker chair from the piazza, sitting
under a tree. But nobody would have known it was that chair at all—so
trimmed and flowery.

There were pink and purple and white ones from the garden, and tall
plumes of small feathery ones, that were wild ones, nodding on the back,
and all lovely.

“Do you notice what they are?” asked Phyllisy. “We wouldn’t have any
other kind.”

“Do you know why we had that kind?” asked Pat.

“They’re _stars_!” cried the Kitten.

“Because you said ‘asters’ meant stars,” said Phyllisy.

“And it’s Cassiopeia’s!—For you!” they all finished. “Do you like it?”

And the Princess reached around and gathered them all into one
four-sided hug, because how she loved it she couldn’t otherwise tell.
And Cassiopeia’s never had a quarter so many stars. “We didn’t leave one
in the garden,—large enough to pick,” said Pat.

“That’s where you’re going to sit to tell the story,” said the Kitten.

“And when you’re ready, we’ll lead you up to it, and make ‘salaams,’”
said Miss Phyllisy.

When she had admired more particularly the way they had done it, she was
ready, and they went off to the next tree to come back properly, Pat and
Miss Phyllisy leading the Princess, and the Kitten holding up her gown
behind.

Then the Princess turned around and stood in front of the chair, and the
Others stood facing her in a row.

“Salaam alekûm,” said the Princess, bowing very low and saluting with
her down-dropped hand from her feet, to her heart, to her forehead, in
two scallops.

“Alekûm essalaam,” replied the Others, saluting the same to her.

And to the Princess and Miss Phyllisy and the Kitten it was a kind of
game they played, but it was not play at all to Pat. Even the little
children said, “My compliments to you,” like that, where she came from.


“This story begins with Perseus and Andromeda sitting in a favorite
place of theirs, where three tall poplars grow on the bank of the
Starland River,” the Princess announced when she had taken her seat.

“The three sisters that were changed into them?” asked Phyllisy.

The Princess nodded. “Must have been.”

“Is it a real river?” asked Pat. “Like any river?”

“Like all the most beautiful rivers in the world in one, only changed
into star-meanings—fireflies winking among the reeds, and fairy trees
along the banks, with strange glowing fruit and blossoms on their
shadowy branches. The poplars carry theirs proudly on their tops, like a
crown.”

“It’s something Beyond, isn’t it, Dearie?—to understand just what it’s
like,” suggested Phyllisy, “you have to know it inside, and stop.”

“That’s the only way,” said the Princess. “It’s gone in the telling—like
fairy gold when you touch it. But the river was there in Starland, and
there were Perseus and Andromeda having a cosy talk.

“‘What do you suppose ails Little Bear, to make him act so?’ said she.

“‘How does he act?’ asked Perseus.

“‘I don’t see how you could have helped noticing him. It’s ever since my
birthday. He hops when he walks, and looks so important; and lately he
has taken to going off by himself—nobody knows where. I believe he’s
planning something.’

“‘Let’s watch him, and find out what it is.’

“‘Yes. That’s what I spoke about it for. But we mustn’t let him guess we
are watching. It would spoil his fun.’

“‘Of course not,’ said Perseus.


“A few nights later, Perseus beckoned mysteriously to Andromeda. She was
listening to old Aquarius. She often went to visit him, and it pleased
him even more than it bored her, so she liked to do it.

“But when she saw Perseus, she made her escape as quickly as she could,
and came to him.

“‘What is it?’ she whispered.

“‘Little Bear has just gone again. I saw him coming toward Orion’s
garden. Orion was there, and Little Bear pretended he was going by—not
anywhere in particular. Then Orion came out of the garden and went
toward Sagittarius’ House, and Little Bear turned in, quick as a wink,
and went through and on—down the Milky Way.’

“‘Come, quick!’ said Andromeda. ‘Are you sure you know which way he
went?’

“‘Yes. We’ll find him easily enough.’

“Orion had come back to his garden, but they were in such haste they
didn’t even see that he was there. He watched them whisk through, and as
they were going out at the farther side, he called to them: ‘Did you
come to see me?’

“‘No,’ answered Perseus. ‘What makes you think we did?’

“‘Because you are in my garden.’

“‘We aren’t now,’ said Andromeda over her shoulder—pushing Perseus ahead
of her. ‘You don’t mind, do you?’

“‘No. Only you might say good-evening.’

“‘We do,’ she called. ‘But we can’t stop now.’

“So she and Perseus ran on, and before long they caught sight of Little
Bear. They crept cautiously nearer, where they could watch him unseen.
He was hunting for something.

“‘What do you suppose it is?’ whispered Andromeda.

“‘I can’t make out—wait—there! What’s that he’s found?’

“‘It’s a meteor bush,’ said she.

“Little Bear stopped by the bush—looked at it—looked around him; then he
trotted on—hunting for something.

“They watched him find another bush—and another; and each time look back
and forth. It was very mysterious.

[Illustration:

  LITTLE BEAR STOPPED BY THE BUSH
]

“‘He is fixing the places in his mind, so that he can come back to them
again!’ exclaimed Andromeda.

“‘That’s it,’ agreed Perseus. ‘I wonder what for.’

“‘We’ll find out.—Be careful! He’s coming home.’

“They kept close until Little Bear had trotted by them and was out of
sight. Then they went themselves to examine the bushes. But that didn’t
help them to understand. They were the ordinary kind of wild meteors
that never grow very large; and they were still quite green.

“So they gave up puzzling about it, and went back to be civil to Orion.
But when he wanted to know why they were in such a hurry, they were so
mysterious he thought they had a secret; and he never guessed that the
secret was Little Bear’s, and one reason why they wouldn’t tell was
because they didn’t know it themselves!

“They began to think they never were going to know, for Little Bear
didn’t go off again and gave them no chance to find out.”

“I thought I knew, once,” said Miss Phyllisy. “But I don’t know so well
now. Can you guess, Pat?”

Pat shook her head. “No. But she’ll tell us.” And the Princess went on
to tell them, in her own way:—

“Cepheus awoke one night, the first of the Star People. As he turned his
head quickly, something bobbed against his forehead; and he could
see—out of the tail of his eye—something dangling that moved when he
did. He took off his crown and looked at it. There was a rather wilted
green meteor tucked into it. He knew he didn’t put it there himself, but
he didn’t take it out, and while he was thinking about it, Draco woke.

“He gave his wings a flap to see that the joints worked right, and
something fell out of the fold of one of them. What should it be but a
little green meteor with a very short stem!

“‘That’th funny,’ he said. Then he stuck it on one of the sharp prongs
of his wing, and came over to Cepheus.

“‘Thee what I’ve got,’ he said.

“‘So have I,’ said Cepheus. ‘Where did they come from?’

“‘Maybe it’th a joke. Do you thuppoth any one elth hath them?—I’m going
to look.’

“‘Cathiopeia hath!’ he called, in a whisper. ‘Right on the arm of her
chair bethide her.’

“Cepheus was perfectly willing to have some one else do the running
about; so he waited, and in a few minutes Draco came back to him.

“‘Every thingle perthon around here hath one,’ he said. ‘Herculeth’ ith
thtuck into the crook of hith thumb where he’th holding hith club; and
Pertheuth’ hath two thnakes twithted around it on hith Gorgon’th head.’

“But the time was gone by to discuss it quietly, for Cassiopeia was
awake. By chance, her meteor was the first thing her eye rested upon.

“‘What is that?’ she said to herself, and picked it up. ‘I’d like to
know where that came from. _See here!_’ she called to Cepheus, and her
voice began to sound excited. ‘Look at that!’

“He came toward her, and Draco followed him. ‘What is it?’ he asked,
pretending not to know.”

“To be funny?” asked Pat.

“Yes. Cepheus was a bit of a wag in his way. ‘Can’t you see?’ Cassiopeia
asked impatiently. ‘A little wilted green meteor!’

“‘What of it? It won’t hurt you.’

“‘Of course it won’t! But how did it come here?’

“‘You must have put it there yourself, to decorate.’

“‘Now you know better. Wouldn’t I know it if—Why! _You’ve got one
yourself!_’ she almost shrieked.

“‘Have I?’ asked Cepheus, innocently.

“‘There—in your crown!’ and she pointed to it. And Draco could not keep
still another second.

“‘We’ve all got them!’ he cried. Then Cassiopeia knew they had been
pretending—to make sport of her; and that was the time everybody else
had to wake up!”

“It was Little Bear put them,” said the Kitten.

“That was the very person. And Andromeda guessed it at once. But even
she couldn’t guess _why_. So she chose to wait a little before she
spoke. Perseus must have forgotten, or it took him longer to wake up;
but suddenly it occurred to him too. Andromeda pulled his elbow just as
the word was at his lips. ‘Don’t say anything,’ she whispered. ‘Look at
Little Bear!’

“Perseus looked; and it was hard not to laugh. Little Bear did laugh—in
his own way. He twinkled! He was close by Cassiopeia’s chair, and fairly
bursting with importance and excitement, but he was so little they quite
overlooked him.

“Cassiopeia went straight on talking.

“‘I want to understand it,’ she said. ‘It seems as if it must mean
something, and I can’t see one bit of sense in it,—just little green
meteors that won’t go off. What are they for?’

“‘Little Bear knows,’ said Andromeda, quickly. She was afraid his
feelings would be hurt to hear his meteors spoken of disrespectfully.

“‘Little Bear!’ cried Cassiopeia; and the Star People fell back in a
circle and left him in the centre, the twinkles running over his fur as
he laughed inside and shook with excitement.

“‘Little Bear,’ said Cassiopeia, ‘did you do it?’

“Little Bear’s eyes danced with delight; then he buried his nose in
Cassiopeia’s dress.

“‘Of course he did,’ said Perseus. ‘We saw him hunting for them.’

“‘But what is it _for_?’ she insisted.

“‘I know—I know!’ cried Draco. ‘Don’t you know what night thith ith?
It’th the night Little Bear got hith Thtar!’

“‘And he means it instead of a birthday!’ cried Cassiopeia. ‘Don’t you
remember? We said we’d keep it if we knew when it was.’

“Andromeda was on her knees beside Little Bear, her arms around him,
when Orion and the Pleiades girls arrived—each with a little green
meteor—to know what it meant. Then how they did chatter!—a regular Star
People’s chorus.

“‘Now, wasn’t that the cleverest Little Bear you ever heard of?’ said
Maia. ‘Just think of his picking them all with his little nose, for us.’

“‘And tucking them in where we’d be sure to find them,’ said Alcyone.

“‘I wish I’d seen him traveling back and forth while we were asleep,’
said Orion. ‘How many times do you suppose he went through my garden?’

“‘If we knew how many he brought at onthe, we could tell,’ said Draco.
‘Jutht count how many there are of uth.’

“It seemed as if they never would make an end of petting Little Bear and
praising his cleverness, and wondering what he thought they could do
with those silly, useless little meteors; but they were careful not to
let him hear them say they were of no use. But when they had said it all
again and again, Merope thought it was time to do something better.

“‘What shall we do for the party?’ she asked.

“They were troubled then; they would have liked to do something very
particular, and it was hard to think of anything without taking time to
plan. Cassiopeia advised them to put it off, but—to their
astonishment—Hercules objected. He wouldn’t listen to any such word.

“‘We aren’t going to do anything of the kind,’ he said. ‘After that
Little Bear has worked like that, and given something to every one of
us, he’s going to have his party the same night, and not be kept
waiting.’

“‘Very well,’ said Orion. ‘You plan it.’

“‘I will. Maybe it won’t be much; but it’ll be _now_.’

“‘It’s a surprise party, to have you plan it,’ suggested Andromeda. ‘And
they’re always fun.’

“‘What shall we do?’ asked Electra.

“‘We’ll go to the Ship,’ announced Hercules, ‘and Little Bear shall be
Captain. I guess we can have a pretty good party, if we haven’t been
thinking about it.’

“The Star-Ship was across the river; and Hercules often went there,
because it reminded him of a voyage he had taken before he was a Star
Person, but they seldom went there together. So, only to go was a
frolic.”

“Did they go in a procession?” asked the Kitten.

“Yes, just as they did on birthdays, and explained to the Zodiac People
how they were celebrating because Little Bear had his Star. He marched
at the head, and you can fancy whether he felt proud. They pretended
they were a party of adventurers setting out on a cruise, and they took
Castor and Pollux along with them.

“They crossed the river by the tall poplar trees and came to the
splendid Ship. The stern went up high in a beautiful quirl, and the
figure on the prow was the head of a woman.”

“That’s like the Jane Ellen,” said Phyllisy.

“Yes, but the ships were very different. This was the good ship Argo:
Captain Little Bear. And they made a wonderful voyage, because they were
all good sailors on the Sea of Make-Believe. There were storms and
pirates; and they stopped at a cannibal island, off the coast of Borneo,
rescued a captive damsel, who was just about to be eaten, and restored
her to her parents in Scotland in three shakes of Little Bear’s tail.
There never was a captain like him, nor such a happy Little Bear. And
when they were tired of thrilling adventures, the Pleiades girls danced,
and Castor and Pollux sang songs for them—while the Ship took care of
herself.

“On shipboard, when the sea is smooth is a proper time to spin yarns;
so, at the end of one of the dances, Maia said: ‘Now somebody must tell
a story.’

“‘Hercules,’ said Andromeda. ‘This is his party.’

“‘His surprise party,’ corrected Orion. And they never were more
surprised than to hear him say:—

“‘I will. What about?’

“‘Bears,’ said Andromeda. ‘Because it’s for Little Bear.’

“‘All right,’ agreed Hercules. ‘I’d just as soon have it that as
anything.’

“They settled themselves around him to hear the story. ‘Now go on—about
the bears,’ said Andromeda, giving Little Bear a squeeze.

“‘Before there were any Star People in the Sky, it was full of bears,’
began Hercules.

“‘Little Bears?’ asked Orion.

“‘No. Great, big, horrible bears.’

“‘Ath big ath Major?’ asked Draco.

“‘Bigger—twice over; and bad. They’d go roarin’ and fightin’ around, and
they’d eat up a girl—like Taygeta, here—as quick as they’d look at her;
but there weren’t any girls here to eat.’

“‘Were they polar bears?’ asked Perseus.

“‘No. They were—were—_China_ bears. The worst kind there is. There
weren’t any girls then, nor any Star People. There were just bears, and
not so many stars as there are now. There were just exactly one
thousand; but there were meteors—and the bears liked ’em better than
anything.’ (Little Bear gave a shiver of joy, and Hercules went on.)
‘The meteors were big, too, bigger than any you ever saw. When they were
ripe, they were bigger than a bear’s head; but sometimes they wouldn’t
go off—and that’s what made the bears do what they did.’

“‘What did they do?’ asked Perseus.

“‘That’s what I’m telling you,’ said Hercules.

“‘S—sh!’ said Cassiopeia. ‘Don’t interrupt. _When_ didn’t they go off?’

“‘For the biggest bear’s party. There was going to be a party, and the
bears all came; and not one of them would go off.’

“‘The bearth?’ asked Draco.

“‘S—sh!’ said Cassiopeia. ‘The meteors, of course.’

“‘It thounded ath if he meant the bearth,’ explained Draco; but Hercules
went on, undisturbed. It was remarkable how he could talk, now he was
started. He looked right at Little Bear while he told his story, and
Little Bear looked back at him in perfect delight.

“‘There wouldn’t one of ’em go off,’ he repeated, ‘and that made the
great big horrible bears madder than hornets—and they went tearin’
around, and they would have smashed all the meteors and eaten each other
up; but there was one bear that was a funny fellow, and he used to make
’em laugh. And they liked that sometimes, when they were tired of
fightin’.

“‘So this bear said to the others: “I’ve thought of something. Let’s
have some fun. I know what to do with these meteors.”’

“‘What?’ asked Perseus.

“‘S—sh!’ said Cassiopeia; and ‘You wait,’ said Hercules.

“‘So the other bears said: “All right. You tell us what it is.” And the
funny bear told ’em what to do, and they all went to work, and they
gnawed out the inside of the meteors. And they were bigger than the
bears’ heads—so their heads went inside; and they gnawed ’em out until
there wasn’t anything left but the thin shell; and they gnawed holes
through that in places, besides—just the way the funny bear told ’em to.
And it was a cloudy night, and those bears all worked like sixty, and
before morning they had just a thousand meteors all gnawed out.

“‘The next night began by being cloudy too; but about two hours after
dark, it all cleared off. The clouds rolled up from one side, all
together, like a curtain in front of a tableau. And the first man that
looked up at the sky fell right down in a fit, so everybody around had
to attend to him. But when he began to come out of it, the rest of them
looked up—just to see what the weather was; and every one of ’em yelled
right out!’

“Hercules stopped and looked around at his audience. They were listening
so breathlessly they couldn’t even ask questions, and he must have been
proud of his success. He paused to enjoy it, until Cassiopeia said, ‘Oh,
go on!’

“‘What do you suppose made ’em?’ he asked, looking at Little Bear,—‘made
’em yell, I mean. In that sky, there ought to have been just one
thousand stars, spread around equally; instead of that, there were one
thousand _Chinamen’s heads_, grinnin’ at ’em, over each other’s
shoulders, all on one half of the sky.’ (‘Oh!’ gasped the Star People.)
‘Those horrible bears had popped one star inside of each of those
gnawed-out meteors, and arranged ’em like that.’”

(“Like the heads on the Chinese plates,” whispered Phyllisy, and the
Princess twinkled at her with her eyes.)

“‘Made jack-o’ lanterns of them,’ said Cepheus.

“‘Yes,’said Hercules. ‘One thousand jack-o’lanterns, because that funny
bear said it would be a joke.’

“‘I should think it was,’ said Orion.

“‘Well, it _wasn’t_,’ said Hercules. ‘At least, it was the poorest joke
those bears ever tried. It did for them! Of course, people couldn’t
stand such goings on with the stars. So they said: “Those bears have got
to be cleared out; and we’ll have some Star People to take care of our
sky.” So they picked out some people they knew were good at huntin’ wild
animals and weren’t afraid; and Orion and Perseus and I—and some more of
us—came first; and we just cleared out those horrible bears that weren’t
fit to be here, and made this the right kind of a Starland for us all to
live in.’

“‘Did you drive them, every one, out?’ asked Alcyone.

“‘Yes,’ said Hercules. ‘At least—almost; but there was just one little
bit of a bear that didn’t seem at all like the others,’—Little Bear
wriggled with delight—‘and Orion said to me, “I guess we’ll keep this
little chap. He seems a pretty good kind of a bear.” And I said, “All
right. We’ll try him; but if he goes to cuttin’ up—out he’ll go, after
the others!”’

“‘But he didn’t!’ said Andromeda, squeezing him, ‘and we couldn’t live
without him! Is one single bit of that story true?’

“‘There’s Little Bear, to prove it,’ said Orion. And it was not fair to
ask; for it was an absorbing story while it lasted, and that’s more than
can be said for a great many stories,” finished the Princess.

“Not yours, Dearie,” said Miss Phyllisy. “Yours are always as good as
that—and better.”

“They interrupt just like us, don’t they?” asked Pat.

“Just as we’re interrupting now,” said Phyllisy. “What came next,
Dearie?”

She was looking off, over their heads, at the sky beyond the treetops;
she looked back quickly, smiling at the Others. “Next, Miss Phyllisy?
Not very much. When the laughter and talk about the story had died away,
every one sat quiet, a little tired and ready to be serious—and they
fell to talking about the Ship.

“‘Isn’t she beautiful?’ said Celeno. ‘Wouldn’t you love to see her
sailing?’

“‘We shall, some time,’ said Orion.

“‘Do you really believe it?’ asked Maia.

“‘Surely,’ said Castor. ‘She’s lighter now than she used to be.’

“‘A good deal,’ agreed Hercules. ‘I measure every once in a while, and
she keeps going up—every year a little.’

“‘Sing the song about it, Castor,’ said Andromeda. But he didn’t,
because Draco exclaimed suddenly: ‘It’th going to clear!’

“They had forgotten all about the weather!

“‘Goodness!’ cried Cassiopeia. ‘I do believe it is! And we’ve all that
way to go! Come this second, or we’ll be caught in it!’

“And, just as we’re going to scurry in before that big black cloud
catches us, those careless Star People had to scamper, laughing all the
way, back to their places, to be there before the clouds drifted away.
They were lucky that it cleared so late. All they lost of the party was
Castor’s song about the ship. And they knew it as well as he did.”

“But we don’t know it,” said Phyllisy.

Pat twisted her eyebrow and glanced up for an instant. “If we go now, we
can’t scurry. It won’t come soon enough. You can tell it.”

The Kitten looked up, too, weatherwise. Then she folded her hands very
comfortably in her lap. “It truly won’t,” she said. And the Princess
believed her, and leaned back once more in the flowery chair.

“I’d like to sing it to you,” she said, “because it’s such a pretty
song, and it explains what they meant by the Ship’s growing lighter.”

The wind of the shower stirred the plumes of asters behind the
Princess’s head while she sang; but even when the song was ended they
weren’t obliged to scurry. So they waited a little longer for an excuse
to scamper, because they wanted to.

THE SONG OF THE SHIP

        “I’ll build you a palace of gold, my dear,
        With diamond knobs for its doors;
            With banqueting-halls,
            And rooms to give balls,
        And thistle-down rugs on the floors.
        And other splendors untold, my dear,
        Shall be yours. When I once begin
        To build the palace, it won’t take long.”
            “Oh, when?”
              “When my ship comes in.”

        “Would you ride in an ivory chariot, my dear,
        With steeds that are swift as the wind?
            Six zebras shall stand
            To wait your command;
        Then, away!—and leave dullness behind!
        Their harness of silk all a-tinkle with bells
        Of crystal, makes musical din.
        They shall surely be yours, if you’ll say but the word.”
            “But _when_?”
              “When my ship comes in.”

        There’s a Ship that is freighted with heart’s desires;
        Fast moored ’midst the stars she must lie,
            Till the last, least weight
            Of greed or of hate
        Shall out of her cargo fly.
        When the wish of each heart is gentle and kind,
        With no taint of a selfish sin,
        Then—light as a dream—the buoyant Ship,
        The Ship from the Stars shall come in!



                                   X
                            TRAVELERS’ TALES


There came a frost one night, and it was most exciting in the morning to
see the bewitchments everywhere. Sometimes it was whole trees and rows
of trees solid gold, and sometimes it was only one tiny branch blazing
red by itself out of plain green. It was joyful surprises every minute
to walk in it. They filled their hands with leaves, more than they could
hold, gathered one by one—and each the most beautiful they had found.
The Others gave them to the Princess until her hands were brimming; then
they filled their own, but they were still for her.

Before they could believe it, they came to the hill that was the round
top of the world. It was covered with short grass, very slippery to
climb but worth while, for from it they could see World-without-end, and
Ocean. There were mountains, far away, on three sides, and on the
fourth—also far away—was the Ocean, set up on edge. The sharp top line
of it came opposite, but everything was below them, with long slopes
going wide, and they were up in the middle, directly under the deep blue
sky. And they could see frost-bewitchments over all the land.

On the face of the very blue sea were tiny white flecks that were ships.
They looked as if they were climbing up, or slipping down, on account of
the sea being set up on edge.

“Suppose this,” said Miss Phyllisy to Pat and the Kitten (the Princess
was looking off, thinking: “What if the finest ship afloat were coming?”
and the Others wouldn’t disturb her). “Suppose this: Wouldn’t it be
funny if a ship went straight up; and it climbed up until it came to the
edge, and then kept going straight on ahead—off into the air?”

“But it couldn’t,” said Pat. “It has to stick right on; and then it
keeps rounding over until it is curling under. It _does, truly_,” she
insisted, though they didn’t contradict her, “because I’ve done it—when
I came; and it goes right along and nobody would know, but still it is
curling under; and you would think it was going straight ahead,
because—I ought to know, because I’ve been clear under, halfway around;
and it’s night there now. Now that is really true. _Honestly!_”

“That is the way it is, honestly,” said the Princess, for she had heard
all they said. “You can’t get off. Straight ahead you go and seem to go
and keep going; and back you come to the place you started from—if you
go long enough, because you’re tied down to it. But it’s a beautiful old
Earth to travel on, isn’t it?—and Starland to see besides.”

“Orion could sail straight off in a Star-Ship,” said the Kitten.

“Of course the Star People could go anywhere,” agreed Phyllisy. “How far
could they go, truly straight ahead, Dearie?”

“To the other end of Nowhere, and be no nearer the end—I should say. But
they don’t go, because their Law says they are to stay in their own
Starland.”

“Then they’ll be there at night,” said the Kitten.

“Where would they go?” asked Pat.

“To other Starlands,” said the Princess. And that was a surprising
answer, because not one of them supposed there could be any others. “The
Star People say there are,” the Princess assured them, “and I should
think they ought to know.”

“But how would they know, if they never go to them?” Miss Phyllisy
objected.

“Partly by seeing. For instance, there are the Far-Away Isles—two little
filmy streaks of light away down in the Southern sky, that look like
scraps of the Milky Way. The Star People often talk about them; and from
time to time some bit of news comes trickling in about outside places,
nobody knows how—vague rumors. It made a story one time, news coming
that way,” she ended, looking very attentively at a leaf in her hand,
and turning it over to examine the back, as if she didn’t know what was
expected of her!

But the Others were immediately disposing of their leaves where they
would be safe under stones, hopping and chirping like birds in a bush,
to settle themselves on the smooth ledges of rock that came through the
hill where it was thin on top, and were toasty warm from the sun. And
the Princess watched them, smiling to herself, but not saying a word
until everybody was comfortable.

“As I told you,” she began, “there are often bits of news floating about
in Starland—a sort of impression of something, very vague, that
comes—nobody knows how,—comets, possibly. And nobody would depend on
what they said.”

The Others were very sure _they_ wouldn’t.

“Neither would I,” said the Princess. “And perhaps that isn’t the way it
comes. But it comes some way. Sometimes vaguer and other times more
distinct. This time, all at once, there sprang up a real, definite
rumor: They were to have a visitor!

“Orion was the person who first spoke of it to the Pleiades girls. They
were dancing a pretty, twisty dance when he came strolling along and
called to them:—

“‘Are you practicing to be ready for company?’

“They didn’t catch what he said, and Taygeta would have stopped, but
Maia wouldn’t let them. So Orion waited and watched while they untangled
and finished in a straight line; and he might have gone far to see
anything so pretty as they were, in their gauzy gowns all a-glimmer with
tiny stars.

“‘Now you may talk, if you like,’ said Maia. ‘Alcyone often makes a
mistake in that, so I wanted to go straight through it.’

“‘What dance was that?’ asked Orion.

“‘That’s one of the “Sailor’s Knots,”’ said Taygeta. ‘There’s such a lot
of them!’

“‘Yes,’ said Alcyone, ‘and they are a good deal alike and entirely
different. Any one might be mixed. You have to tie them up, first, and
then untangle them.’

“‘She can do it perfectly well when she wants to,’ said Maia. ‘All our
family know about ocean things; but any one can make her giggle and be
silly.’

“‘What was it you said as you came?’ asked Merope, quickly. She had tact
about changing the subject.

“‘I don’t remember. Nothing much,’ said Orion.

“‘Yes, it was,’ said Taygeta. ‘Something about company.’

“‘Oh, yes. Haven’t you heard?’

“‘Heard what?’

“‘Tell us—quick!’ They all spoke together; and they should have known
better than to let Orion see how eager they were. It gave him a chance
to tease.

“‘Why—some one. Oh, I’m sure you must have heard. You don’t want me to
tell it all over again?’

“‘Yes, we do—’

“‘No, we haven’t—’

“‘Now, don’t be so mean—’

“‘Don’t ask him,’ said Maia. ‘He’s dying to tell.’

“Then they said not another word, but stood in a lovely row, locking
arms and balancing on their toes, and looked at him; and Orion looked
back at them. Then he pushed his lion’s skin up over his shoulder and
spoke to his dogs:—

“‘Come, Sirius! We’d better go and get ready before the Stranger comes,’
and he turned to go. But there were seven girls to stop him, and they
were around him in a second.

“‘No, you shall not—’

“‘Now, Orion—’

“‘Oh, _please_—’

“‘What is it?’ they asked; and he _was_ dying to tell!

“‘I can’t tell you so very much,’ he said. ‘But they say we are to have
a visitor from the Far-Away Isles.’

“‘Who says so?’

“‘Who is coming?’

“‘When will he be here?’

“‘What is he coming for?’ They were like seven interrogation points!

“‘I don’t know,’ said Orion. ‘I don’t remember who told me—and I’m not
quite sure what. Everybody but you seems to know about it.’

“‘Did you ever know any one so tiresome?’ asked Maia. And six Pleiades
girls said they never had, and ‘We’ll have to ask some one else.’

“So, off they went to try to find out what was going to happen; and how
anybody knew about it.

“It was a curious thing, but by the time they had talked with the other
Star People, they were in the same state as Orion and all the others. No
one could tell quite where he had heard it, and no one knew exactly what
he had heard; but every one had a perfectly clear impression that a
visitor was coming from the Far-Away Isles.

“When they tried to talk a little more definitely about him, they did
not altogether agree. Still, there was a strong idea that he was young
and splendid and handsome, of course; some one very distinguished in his
own country.”

“A prince, for instance?” asked Phyllisy.

“More than likely.—

“‘What do you suppose he is coming for?’ asked Maia.

“‘Perhapth, becauth he’th going to all the Thtar-Countrieth,’ said
Draco. ‘He couldn’t do that unleth he came here.’

“‘That’s so,’ said Hercules. ‘We’re one of ’em.’

“‘You’re mistaken,’ said Cepheus. ‘He’s heard about the prettiest seven
sisters in Starland, and he wants to take his choice of them back with
him. You’ll have to polish up your stars, girls, and dance your best for
him.’ (That was his idea of a joke!)

“‘Indeed we _won’t_!’ said Electra, with her nose very high. ‘We care
nothing about him.’

“‘No,’ said Alcyone. ‘We won’t do one thing!’

“‘Now, don’t you put nonsense into their heads,’ said Cassiopeia to
Cepheus. ‘He’s just coming to be friendly, and because he can; and I
think it’s lovely. We are going to do everything possible to give him a
fine welcome; and the girls will look just as pretty as they can, to be
a credit to us all.’

“‘I wish Merope’s star were brighter,’ said Celeno. ‘Do you think there
is anything we could do about it?’

“There was one thing they could do: they could talk! And they began that
very minute. It seems hardly possible that people could talk so much
about so little! No one had thought before that Merope was not quite as
she should be. If her star was faint and vanished when one looked hard
at it, that was the way of Merope’s star, and that was all there was
about it.

“But now, with the thought of stranger eyes, they began to feel that
perhaps it was extraordinary that she should be different from her
sisters. And the more they thought and talked about it, the more
important it seemed to be.

“Every one had some suggestion to make, except poor Merope herself; she
never had given it a thought, and now she declared she didn’t care.

“‘But _we_ care,’ said Maia. ‘It isn’t creditable to our family. What
will the Stranger think, to see you different from us?’

“So they talked—and talked—”

“Why didn’t they give her a star?—like Little Bear?” asked the Kitten.

“They would have given it, gladly, but Merope wouldn’t take it; and,
what is more, none of them had a star of the right kind to give.”

“They’re terribly particular about them, aren’t they?” said Phyllisy.

“They have to be,” answered the Princess. “But not in the way they were
now. Those foolish people went on talking, and fixed their eyes and
their thoughts on the star until they quite lost their senses, and it
seemed the most calamitous thing that could happen—that the splendid
Stranger should come from the Far-Away Isles and see Merope with the
puzzling star above her forehead.

“One night, at this time, Perseus came along by the river, and there he
found Merope sitting alone. She was thinking so deeply she didn’t see
him until he was close beside her.

[Illustration:

  HE FOUND MEROPE SITTING ALONE
]

“‘Where are the rest of you?’ he asked.

“‘Dancing somewhere; I don’t know where. I came here to think.’

“That sounded pretty sad to Perseus, and he tried to say something to
cheer her.

“‘I wouldn’t worry about that star. You look all right.’

“‘I wouldn’t mind for myself,’ said Merope; ‘but I’m not going to
disgrace my family.’

“It was not long after this that the six Pleiades began to say: ‘Where
is Merope?’ and then the other Star People said: ‘Where can Merope
be?’—until the whole Sky seemed one great Question; and the nearest it
came to an answer was that Perseus had seen her sitting on the bank of
the river, quite downcast, but plainly resolved to do something.

“Cassiopeia was so worried, she lost her temper.

“‘I hope you girls are satisfied _now_’ she said. ‘Persecuting that poor
child!—and all for vanity. If anything has happened to her, I don’t know
how you’ll forgive yourselves!’

“‘You were in it, too,’ observed Perseus; and she was.

“‘I know it,’ she said, after a pause. ‘That’s how I know how they ought
to feel.’

“‘I don’t see how anything _could_ have happened to her.’ said Orion.

“‘Then where is she?’ asked Perseus. And that was what no one of them
could answer; and Starland wasn’t a happy place.”

“They could think she’d run away,” suggested the Kitten.

“Or drowned in the river,” said Miss Phyllisy in a tragic voice.

“They couldn’t bear to think it was anything serious; but it was a
mystery where she could be. They wandered from place to place, asking
one another what it could mean. And everywhere they ran across Little
Bear, roaming uneasy and disconsolate: even old Major was restless.

“‘You don’t suppose the Stranger came and carried her off to the
Far-Away Isles, do you?’ asked Andromeda.

“‘No, I do not,’ said Orion, very positively.

“‘She wouldn’t have gone! She wouldn’t have left us,’ Taygeta declared.

“‘Suppose he _took_ her?’ insisted Andromeda.

“‘_Nonsense!_’ said Cassiopeia.

“But when the night was gone without any sign of her, and a cloudless
night followed and there were only six girls in the group where there
should have been seven, what could they think? What could keep one of
the Star People from her place, unless something really had happened to
her? And when they had borne her absence for two cloudless nights, their
hearts had grown heavier and heavier, and they had almost given up any
hope of seeing their dear Merope again.”

“And they couldn’t hunt for her when it was clear,” said Phyllisy.

“No. They could only stand still and brood over it for two endless
nights.

“The third night came, cloudless still. The daylight grew dim until it
was nearly gone, and one after another, each star glimmered in its
place. When——

“Who was it?—coming—far down the Sky?

“The Star People neither spoke nor stirred while Merope came swiftly and
slipped into her place just as the last gleam of daylight faded away.
And if that didn’t show how faithful and obedient they were, what
could?”

“They had to keep all their questions in them,” said Pat.

“Yes, for a while. But about midnight thick clouds spread across the
sky; and then Merope might have answered twenty questions at once, if
she had had so many mouths.

“‘Where have you been?’ and ‘Why did you go?’

“‘Has anything hurt you?’

“‘Didn’t you know we would worry?’ That was Cassiopeia.

“‘If you’ll listen, I’ll tell you all about it,’ said Merope. ‘But you
all talk at once.’

“‘We won’t,’ said Cassiopeia. ‘Be quiet, everybody! Tell us this minute.
Who took you?’

“‘Nobody. I went myself.’

“‘That’s not the way to begin,’ said Orion. ‘Where did you go?’

“‘I went where the stars are made.’

“‘What did you do such a thing as that for?’

“Merope’s arm was around Little Bear, as he sat close beside her, and
she drooped her head until her chin touched his sharp little ear and
bent it over.

“‘I wanted a new star,’ she said very softly. ‘Wait—I’ll tell you all
about it. I thought you were ashamed of me, and I didn’t want to
disgrace you; and I thought and thought until I made up my mind to go
where they were made, and get a new one.’

“‘But how could you be gone from your place?’ asked Maia. ‘Don’t you
know it’s been clear weather?’

“‘Yes,’ said Merope. ‘But I knew my star was so dull it wasn’t likely
I’d be missed. I’m not very important.’

“‘Yes, you _are_—just as important as any of us,’ said Taygeta.

“‘And we’ve been almost crazy, missing you,’ said Cassiopeia. ‘Even
Major had the fidgets. I think our feelings ought to be considered.’

“‘I know it. I’m sorry now. I didn’t think of that.’

“‘But tell us what you did,’ said Orion. It seemed almost impossible to
keep them to the subject.

“‘I will. You know the place—off that way,’ and she pointed over the
river. ‘I knew all I had to do was to keep going straight on until I
came there. So I slipped off quietly, when you were all busy.’

“‘If I’d seen you start, you wouldn’t have gone,—unless I went too,’
said Hercules. ‘It wasn’t safe—a girl all alone.’

“‘But what happened? Did anything frighten you?’

“‘No. Only the dark, and cold.’

“‘_Dark!_ Was it really _dark_, Merope?’

“‘Well—I never heard anything like _that_!’ said Cassiopeia.

(“The reason they were so astonished is because it never is dark in
Starland. There is always the starlight.” The Princess answered the
question the Others didn’t ask, except by looks. “Oh—h!” they murmured.)

“‘Yes, it was,’ said Merope, ‘part of the time. Not at first. After I
crossed the river I went straight on for a good while; it was about like
this,’ she waved her hand. ‘It was all right until it was dark—’ Then
she stopped talking just at the most interesting place.

“‘Oh, go _on_, Merope!’ said Alcyone. ‘Where was it dark?’

“‘I don’t believe I can explain it. It came all at once—everywhere—as if
I had walked off the edge—into the sea; only there wasn’t any sea. There
wasn’t anything!’

“‘There was _you_, wasn’t there?’ asked Perseus.

“‘Yes. But I knew there wouldn’t be, long.’

“‘I wish you would explain things as you go along,’ said Cassiopeia.

“‘I’ll try,’ said Merope. ‘But it’s very perplexing. It was perfectly
dark; you never saw any dark like it—’

“‘You can’t _see_ dark, ever,’ said Orion. ‘That’s what it is.’

“‘That’s what I meant. You couldn’t see it; even my own little stars
were out’ (she glanced at her dress), ‘and it was cold—_deathly_! and
not a sound—and I didn’t know which way anything was. I was just colder
and colder, and still—and I knew, someway, I was going out.’

“‘Out where?’ asked Hercules.

“‘Nowhere,’ said Merope. ‘Like a candle.’

“‘Goodness! Weren’t you frightened?’ asked Andromeda.

“‘Yes. And I tried to think what to do, but I couldn’t. I kept growing
colder and stiller—I couldn’t move. Then I thought about all of you, and
there came a little warmth inside, and I knew the cold couldn’t reach
me.’

“‘Because love was stronger than cold or dark?’ suggested Andromeda.

“‘Yes; that was it. Nothing could put it out.’

“‘Then how did you find your way out?’ asked Cepheus, after a minute.

“‘That was easy. When I thought of you and home, something pulled me; so
I knew which way you were.’

“‘Then you came back,’ said Taygeta.

“‘No, I didn’t. I couldn’t come without the star. And I thought if I
kept going in the direction I started, I’d come to the right place. So I
kept on, the way I didn’t want to go.’

“‘Now, I call that downright clever!’ said Draco. ‘It thowth what it ith
to uthe your reathon.’

“‘Merope always was the brightest one of our family, really,’ said Maia.
‘What did you do then?’

“‘Kept on. And after I came out of the dark I was not very far from the
new stars.’

“‘Oh, tell us about them!’ said Cassiopeia. ‘How are they made? Tell us
every single thing!’

“‘I can’t,’ said Merope. ‘I’m not good at understanding such things.
There were a great many—all colors. I think they are made of something
very light—and spread out—it was like fog, in places; then, in other
places, it was whirling—I don’t know what makes it begin to whirl: then
it seemed to thicken up, when it whirled—’

“‘How, thicken up?’ asked Orion.

“‘I can’t explain; but the star-fog collected and drew together into a
ball, and that was the star. There were all sizes and kinds. Sometimes
there was one in the centre and more little stars whirling around in
rings outside it. And trails of fog—I never could describe it. You would
have to see for yourself. And they sang. Oh, it was beautiful!’ Then she
stopped again, to recall it; and that was trying to the others, because
she certainly did not make things very clear to them.

“‘Now, Merope,’ said Cassiopeia, ‘you give your mind to it, and describe
things a little better. I wish I’d gone myself. I could tell what I’d
seen and heard. What was the singing like?’

“‘It wasn’t like anything,’ said Merope. ‘That’s why I can’t tell you.
It was quite, quite beautiful. Every star—when it whirled—seemed to have
its own song—’

“‘Like tops?’ asked Perseus.

“‘Perhaps, a little—’ said Merope, doubtfully; ‘and all the songs made
one; and—I don’t know what it said, but I think—’ then she hesitated.

“‘_Go on!_’ said Maia.

“‘I think it said, they were glad they were alive.’

“‘Of course,’ said Cassiopeia. ‘Then what?’

“‘Then it was time for me to come home.’

“‘Didn’t you dread coming through the dark place again?’ asked Electra.

“‘Yes. But I knew I could get through. And it wasn’t so hard as going;
all I had to do was to come the way I wanted to. So I just came.’

“‘But, Merope,’ said Andromeda, ‘where is your new star?’

“Then every one of the Star People looked at Merope, and saw—what not
one of them had noticed before, they were so glad to have her back—her
own, strange, vanishing star still glinted above her forehead.

“‘Couldn’t you find the right kind?’ asked Taygeta.

“‘Weren’t you allowed to have it?’ asked Orion.

“‘Did you lothe it, coming back?’ asked Draco.

“‘Answer, Merope!’ said Cassiopeia.

“Merope looked confused, and she bent over Little Bear once more (he was
a very convenient Little Bear), but she had to speak.

“‘There were plenty of stars,’ she said slowly, ‘and I might have taken
one, but when I saw them—all so splendid—they didn’t seem like me; and
then I thought you all loved me, and I knew you didn’t care really, for
the star; and I liked my own best. So—I just came home.’

“‘We’re glad, Merope,’ said Andromeda. ‘We love you best like this.’

“And every one of the Star People felt the same.”

“We do too, Dearie,”said Phyllisy. “That was the best ending.”

Pat and the Kitten wriggled and nodded, and the Princess smiled at them,
but she held up her finger for them to wait for the very end.

“Then it was Merope’s turn to ask a question. But it didn’t occur to her
until a little later.

“The sisters were dancing—the very prettiest and most twirly of the
‘Sailor’s Knots’—and Merope was the centre of the twist, when she
stopped short and asked:—

[Illustration:

  THE SISTERS WERE DANCING—THE VERY PRETTIEST AND MOST TWIRLY OF THE
    “SAILOR’S KNOTS”
]

“‘When will the Stranger be here?’

“The Star People looked at each other in complete astonishment. They had
forgotten all about him.

“‘He isn’t coming,’ said Orion, after a pause.

“‘How do you know he isn’t?’ asked Hercules.

“‘The same way we knew he _was_,’ answered Orion.

“‘I’d jutht like to know who thtarted that thtory,’ said Draco. ‘I
believe it wath a comet!’

“‘So do I,’ said Cassiopeia.”


“Truly was it?” asked the Kitten.

“What do you think?” asked the Princess.

Then all the questions they had kept inside of them began to come out,
and they lasted down the hill—very jerky, on account of having to run or
slip—and most of the long way back. But there was time beside to gather
more leaves to take the place of those they had forgotten and left safe
under small stones on the hill-top!

There were thousands and thousands of them fallen, too beautiful to pass
over, so it was just as well.



                                   XI
                           TORQUILLON’S LAIR


Precisely when the clock had struck three there came three raps on the
door. (There had been shuffling, whispering noises, and a squeak like a
mouse before, very small, but different from the sound of the rain
against the windows.)

“Come in!” said the Princess; and there entered the very ones she
expected to see, because it was an appointment.

The first thing, she wanted to ask them if they didn’t think it would be
comforting to have a fire in the fireplace, to look at.

The Others instantly thought it would. Miss Phyllisy shivered her
shoulders when she thought it, and the Kitten shivered hers when she saw
Miss Phyllisy. But Pat did not shiver, because none of them was truly
chilly, only it was such a disconsolate day, with cold gray coming in at
the windows and the corners dark, and large doleful brown leaves hanging
sodden from a branch and beating back and forth in the rain.

The Princess was sure they would feel that way about the fire, and she
thought they wouldn’t mind the trouble of starting it themselves, it was
so jolly to see the first blaze. And they didn’t mind in the least; they
loved it.

It was laid ready—large logs and small pieces to kindle it, but they
were very busy for several minutes, changing the small pieces as Miss
Phyllisy wanted them, because she had a talent for fires.

When it was arranged to suit her, the Kitten struck the match and
lighted the paper—and they all stood quite still while a flame stole
around, weaving in and out, and the blackened paper drew up where it
passed. A round puffing smoke rose above and sharp red tongues flipped
out at the top—a fine crackle began to sound—then came a broad roar. The
next minute flames were wrapping around the great logs, the whole length
of them, and blazing up the chimney, and the room to the farthest corner
and across the ceiling was full of moving firelight, with little fires
winking from everything shiny in it—even the raindrops chasing down the
panes. It was surprising, the change it made. Now, the miserable day
outside only made them more cosy and contented, here by Miss Phyllisy’s
beautiful fire, where their Princess sat ready to tell them a most
especial story that she would love to have them hear. But, as Prudence
said, it wouldn’t be wise to begin while the fire needed attention, and
there was no hurry. So they watched the first blaze pass off; then the
logs settled and fell apart, and they poked them and put on one more,
and Pat set the fender in place.

The new log sputtered a minute before the blaze began to eat it. They
watched a few minutes longer, to be sure it was all right; and it was.
The Princess said she never had seen a more satisfactory fire,—and
likely to last.

So Pat and the Kitten curled up in the pillows on the broad couch in the
corner near the fireplace, and Phyllisy sat on a stool at the end of the
hearth, where she could reach the poker without interrupting, if it
should be necessary. The Princess was in her large chair, drawn up a
little way off. The rings on her clasped hands glittered, and there was
a big rosette on the toe of her slipper, pointed out toward the glow.
The firelight shone in her eyes and they looked very joyful, and her
lips were smiling before she began to speak.

“The Jane Ellen,” said the Princess softly, making the name long, as if
she liked to say it, and the Others wriggled as if they liked to
hear,—“the Jane Ellen was a very busy ship, and made important journeys,
carrying splendid cargoes from port to port; but she sailed so fast when
she was going straight on that the Captain always had time to stop on
the way to attend to any little thing that needed it, or to be obliging
and kind—like the time when they arranged about the Sailor’s Star.

“Now if you had sailed on the Jane Ellen on one of the most interesting
cruises she ever made, you would have come to a place where a long point
of land ran out for miles into the sea. The point ended in a great rock
that looked like the head and shoulders of a lion, coming out of the
forest that covered the hills back of him, and roaring because he
couldn’t get across to the point of a very large island that lay in the
sea opposite. There was another great rock that made the point of the
island (as if they were two gate posts), and this rock was the head of a
man, frowning and dark; and one would hardly know which he was angriest
with; the Lion, or any one who tried to pass through the gateway.

“Besides the large island, there were a great many smaller ones—like a
flock of ducks—and between them the water was shallow. So ships that
wanted to pass that way had either to go through the dark Gateway,
between the Roaring Lion and the Frowning Man, or else turn away to the
south and sail miles and miles out of their course, around that whole
flock of islands. And a great many ships did want to go that way; for it
led to a land where the pearls were as large as gooseberries and all
lovely tropical things grew because they couldn’t help it.

“It isn’t pleasant to have even a rock man look as if he would like to
bite off one’s bowsprit, or crowd one over into the jaws of a roaring
lion; but they were only rocks with a good passage between, and no
captain who was in the least bit of a hurry would have hesitated one
minute, or even thought of sailing around those hundreds of islands on
their account. But every captain who sailed the sea knew that, once
inside that Gateway, he would come into the haunt of Torquillon, the
Waterspout. And that was reason enough for any ship to go miles the
other way.”

(Torquillon was a stranger to the Others, but they nodded as if they
thought it was an excellent reason. The story was beginning in a way
that made them very quiet, not wanting to interrupt.)

“Now when the Jane Ellen passed that way, if the Captain were not on
deck and the Mate was commanding the ship, he liked to sail close to the
Gateway instead of taking the shortest way to go around the islands,
because he was not so old as the Captain, and he never had had so much
as a glimpse of Torquillon.

“This time that I’ve begun to tell you about, the Captain was taking a
nap, and Taffy had things his own way as they came into that part of the
ocean.

“‘How’s the wind, Quartermaster?’ he said to the man at the wheel.

“‘Sou’west-by-south, sir,’ answered the Quartermaster.

“Taffy looked up at the sails and the clouds and out over the sea—as if
he were making up his mind, instead of knowing all the time what he
meant to do! Then he said to the Quartermaster:—

“‘Keep her as she is until we reach this point,’ and he made a little
mark on the chart, right near the large island; ‘then we’ll make a long
run to the south.’

“‘Ay, ay, sir,’ said the Quartermaster. But when the Mate turned away to
walk for’ard, he drew up one side of his face so it was all bias, and
winked at the Bos’n!

“Taffy went into his own cabin, and came out again with a long spy-glass
in his hand. He walked to the foot of the foremast-shrouds and rested
the spy-glass in the ratlines to steady it, and looked toward the place
where the Gateway led into Torquillon’s Lair.

“And the Jane Ellen was sailing so fast that he hadn’t been looking long
before he saw a little gray hump on the edge of the water, that he knew
was the large island. Then he put down the glass and waited a little
while. The next time he looked, both the island and the mainland showed
plainly, with a little, little gap between.

“But he never could spend much time doing what he liked without being
interrupted, so very soon he put down the glass and went below to see
why Tom Green hadn’t polished the binnacle.

“While he was gone the Jane Ellen kept sailing on; and by the time he
came back the Gateway showed even without the glass. And when Taffy had
the glass steady once more and looked through it, he saw a dark speck on
the water, outside the Lion’s head. He looked for a moment, then he
called, ‘Bos’n!’

“‘Ay, ay, sir,’ said the Bos’n, coming up. Taffy handed him the glass.

“‘See what you make of that?’

“The Bos’n took the glass and looked carefully. Then he rubbed the small
end with a loose fold of his shirt, and looked again.

“‘It looks to me like a brig, sir. She’s hove-to; and she’s lost some of
her riggin’,’ he said.

“Taffy took the glass, and while he was looking, who should come along
but the Captain! He had just stepped out of his cabin, and was surprised
to see the island so near.

“‘Why are we here, Mr. Morganwg?’ he asked. ‘Aren’t we out of our
course?’

“‘We are, sir, a little,’ said Taffy. ‘But that’s because the wind is
sou’west-by-south. I thought we’d make better time this way.’

“‘And go by that Gateway, too,’ said the Captain; and he looked at the
Bos’n and laughed. The Bos’n laughed too, so Taffy felt a wee bit
foolish, and he thought he’d rather talk about something else. So he
said, ‘There’s a ship lying over there, in distress.’

“‘Let me see,’ said the Captain, taking the glass. ‘Sure enough! We must
go and see what is the matter.’”

“Everybody knew he wanted to go, didn’t they?” said Pat.

“Everybody,” said the Princess. “But they were all eager, now, to go to
the rescue.

“So the Jane Ellen sailed on fast, and drew nearer and nearer to the
brig; and when they were near enough to see, she was a sight!

“Some of her rigging was gone, and halyards and bowlines and braces and
all kinds of ropes and sails were trailing in the water; and a flag of
distress flip-flip-flipping in the breeze over it all.

“It was the Reindeer brig, and her captain was a friend of the captain
of the Jane Ellen. So when they were hove-to, beside the Reindeer, the
Captain—with the Mate standing by—was very glad to welcome his friend on
board.

“‘Now, tell us all about what has happened to the Reindeer,’ he said.

“The captain of the brig was a short man with bright black eyes, and he
_hated_ to wait for anything. When he wanted a thing, he wanted it that
very minute; and when he sent a man on an errand he often went after him
before he had time to come back, because it seemed so long to him. His
name was Gryller, but Skipper seemed to suit him exactly, so he was very
seldom called Captain Gryller.

“When he came aboard the Jane Ellen, he could hardly wait for the proper
greetings to be over before he began to tell his story. He spoke very
fast; the words pattered, clean, and there sounded a great many _rr_’s
in them.

“‘It’s that Waterspout!’ he said. ‘He’s played the mischief with my
rrigging!’

“‘What? Torquillon?’ asked the Captain.

“‘Certainly. Did you ever hear of any other waterspout hereabouts? I
didn’t. He took my main-to’gal’n’mast at the first whack!’

“‘But where was he?’ asked the Captain.

“‘Chasing _me_!’ said the Skipper, indignantly.

“‘Out here?’ asked the Captain, perfectly surprised. And he looked at
the Lion and the Man, to see if Torquillon were peeping out.

“‘No!’ exclaimed the Skipper, loudly. ‘Inside.’

“‘_Inside!_’ said the Captain, even louder. ‘What were you doing there?’

“‘Going through, of course!’ shouted the Skipper. ‘Do you suppose I was
trying to anchorr?’ and he almost danced on the deck, he was so
impatient.

“The Captain looked at him. Then he said in his ordinary voice:—

“‘We’re neither of us deaf, and there isn’t a gale of wind; and will you
please begin at the beginning, and tell me what you did do?’

“‘That’s just what I was trying to do; but you interrupted.’

“‘Because you began in the middle.’

“‘How could any one begin in the middle? The place where you begin _is_
the beginning!’

“‘Well, what made you go through there, anyway?’ asked the Captain. (He
wasn’t quite sure whether the beginning was the middle or the end or the
other end, he felt so tangled up.)

“‘I didn’t go through,’ insisted the Skipper. ‘Didn’t I just tell you?’

“‘Then, will you tell me what you did do?’

“‘I starrted to go.’

“‘Why?’

“‘Why does a hen run across the road?’ asked the Skipper.

“‘To get to the other side,’ answered the Captain; and, ‘Because she
can’t go ’round it,’ said Taffy.

“‘Which is it?’ asked the Captain.

“‘Both,’ said the Skipper. ‘I wanted to get to the other side, and I
didn’t want to go around all those islands. It’s ridiculous, with that
good passage through, to go miles out of the way because of that
Waterspout—and I hadn’t the time to spend.’

“‘I don’t see that you’ve saved very much,’ said the Captain.

“‘I should have—if I’d gone through. It’s all very well for you; but
every ship is not as fast as the Jane Ellen. Anyway, I made up my mind
to try, and I got halfway through before that fellow caught me. But then
he did smash me up like kingdom-come! and I had to box-haul her, and
come back.’

“‘What do you want to do now?’ asked the Captain.

“‘I hoped a ship would come along and let me have some extra spars to
make the Reindeer ship-shape; and then—I’ve got a Plan;’ and he stopped,
and looked very mysterious and important.

“‘Are you going in again?’ asked Taffy, hoping he would say Yes—and he
did.

“‘Yes, I am. And you’re going too.’

“‘I don’t know whether I am, or not,’ said the Captain. ‘What for?’

“‘I want to bottle up that Waterspout, and clear that passage so ships
can go through there safely.’

“‘You don’t want to do much!’ said the Captain. ‘Have you thought how
you could do it?’

“‘Yes, I know all about it. It’s no use to run him down; for he just
spills and comes up again; and you can’t tie him up. But I noticed,
about halfway through the passage there is a little island. It’s hardly
large enough to call an island—just a flat-topped rock, not much above
the water. In that rock there is a deep hollow. Now, I think we might
lead Torquillon such a chase that he would trip over the island and
spill into the hole. Then we could cover him over, quick, with a big
tarpaulin, and afterward roof him in solid, so he never could get out.
Don’t you think that would be worth spending a little time to do?’

“‘Yes,’ said the Captain. ‘If we could do it.’

“‘We can’t, of course, if we don’t try!’ said the Skipper. ‘Will you do
it?’

“‘One thing at a time,’ said the Captain in that sensible way that is so
annoying when one has an idea. ‘We’ll rig the Reindeer first—and
consider about it.’

“And that was all he would say, though it seemed as if the Skipper
couldn’t stand it, not to have it settled that very minute. But the
Captain lent him some extra spars and his ship’s carpenter and some men,
and they set to work; and before they knew it, almost, the Reindeer was
ship-shape again, and looked as good as new.

“Except the Jane Ellen—that was a full-rigged ship anyway—there wasn’t a
prettier little brig on the high seas. Captain Gryller had had her
painted brown, dappled with lighter spots on her sides and two large
light spots on her stern, because he meant to call her the Reindeer. And
he didn’t care whether that was like a reindeer or a moose or a stag or
a wapiti, or none of them; he liked it that way.

“While they were working, the Captain considered. And the more he
considered, the more he didn’t know whether it would be one bit of use;
but the less he wanted to go sailing away around all those islands
without trying to bottle up that waterspout and clear the passage for
all the ships that should come after.

“And Taffy never considered a minute. He didn’t know, and he didn’t much
care, whether they could bottle up anything, or not; he thought only,
some way or other, he _must_ go in at that Gateway between the Lion and
the Man, and see what was inside. So when the Captain called him into
his cabin to consult with him, I think you can guess what kind of advice
Taffy gave.”

(The children looked as if they could very easily. They would have given
the same themselves.)

“When the Skipper came aboard for his answer, he found there was no
persuasion needed; but they could begin at once to lay their plans very
carefully for what they should do when they were once inside. The
Skipper drew a chart, the way he remembered it, and they laid their
course, just how they would sail, and settled everything so that there
could be no mistake.

“At last the Captain said: ‘There! I think that’s all. And we can make a
start the first thing in the morning.’

“‘_To-morrow morning!_’ shouted the Skipper. ‘Shiver my timbers! Do you
think we can wait forever?’

“‘Nobody wants to wait so long as that,’ said the Captain. ‘But it’s too
late to go in to-day. You don’t want to be caught in there in the dark.’

“‘Who’s going to be caught?’ asked the Skipper. ‘I’m not. And we’re
going in _to-day_!’

“‘We’re going in _to-morrow_,’ said the Captain, just as firmly. The
Skipper turned huffy.

“‘I’d like to know who’s planning this,’ he said.

“‘You are,’ said the Captain. ‘And I don’t think it’s much of a
plan—whoever made it! And if you’re so set, we’ll go now,—the time may
be as good as the plan,—but it’s too late!’

“‘It’s nearly the longest days in the year,’ said the Skipper. As if
that wouldn’t have made it all the easier to wait for morning!”

“Then it was a wrong argument,” remarked Phyllisy.

“Yes; but he didn’t think long enough to see it.

“So, because he was so impatient, just after three bells of the second
watch of the afternoon had struck, the Jane Ellen and the Reindeer
weighed their anchors and made sail, and advanced side by side, like two
white swans, to the Gateway that led into Torquillon’s Lair.

“There were always clouds hanging over it; and they lowered dark over
the Frowning Man, so he scowled harder than ever as they passed out of
the sunshine that made their sails shine white as snowdrifts, into the
shadow of the cloud that suddenly turned them gray.

“But they sailed boldly by, close under his nose; and Taffy looked
curiously, to see what sort of place they had come into.

“It was a fine open stretch of sea. The mainland curved back from the
point into a great bay, so large that the point at the farther side of
it was only a distant gray streak. The flock of islands lay at the
right, and separated it from the wide ocean. High mountains rose up on
the mainland, and the islands, too, were like mountaintops; but graceful
palm trees and bananas and other lovely green things grew among the
craggy rocks.

“Now, as they passed into the shadow of the great dark cloud and sailed
under the nose of the Rock Man, a little wind, that lived in a cave on
the large island, cried:—

“‘Whoooooo-uuuuuu-eeeEEE—!’ and struck, first the Jane Ellen, then the
Reindeer, on the starboard bow, so that they heeled over to port; but
they went steadily on.

“Then another little wind, that lived in a rocky gorge on the point of
land back of the roaring Lion, began to whisper:—

“‘Wh-h-i-i-is-sssss-sh-sSH—!’ and blew the Reindeer and the Jane Ellen
along from over the stern. The sails shivered and the sailors swung the
yards; then the sails filled and the ships went right on.

“Another wind lived in a beautiful valley, where a waterfall came
tumbling down, like a white ribbon, over the edge of the cliff, and
while the first two winds were still whispering and crying, this wind
woke up and shouted:

“‘Whooooooooo-eeeeeee-ooooop!’ and came tearing over the green water,
splashing it up in white foam under his feet as he ran to meet the Jane
Ellen and the Reindeer, that were swinging on, down the wide channel.

“Then, wakened by the whispering and shouting and crying, other little
winds came racing out of their crannies on the islands and in the
mountains, and all scurried after the Reindeer and the Jane Ellen, until
they couldn’t tell, to save them, which was the lee and which the
weather shore! And these winds were little, only compared with the great
winds that travel over the whole Earth. They were large enough for this
land-locked sea; and the Jane Ellen and the Reindeer found them all they
cared to meet. But the two ships were sailed so well they rode weatherly
under storm-sails; and by continually trimming sails and bracing yards
and luffing and doing numberless other things that sailors know all
about—and you and I don’t understand a bit of—they kept on their course
down the channel, looking on every side for Torquillon, the selfish
Waterspout who claimed it for his own, and wouldn’t let any one pass
through. As if there weren’t room for him and them too!

“They had not gone far before the whistling of the winds, like barking
watch-dogs, roused Torquillon; and he raised his head to see who was
coming into his waters.

“The Captain was sailing the Jane Ellen himself, so Taffy was free to
watch; and far ahead, just under a black cloud that hung very low, he
saw the dark water rise in a mound.

“That was only for a moment, and it dropped back again. But the winds
had seen their Master; and—as if he had called them to him—they rushed
from all sides, whistling and crying and whooping, and left the Jane
Ellen and the Reindeer with sails drooping in the sudden calm, while
they circled to the spot where Torquillon’s head had pushed above the
water.

“And as they reached him he rose with one powerful leap from the waves,
and caught the dark sagging cloud, pulling it down behind his head,
swinging and twisting as the winds flung themselves upon him, and filled
the cloud that floated like a banner and served for a sail. And then he
caught sight of the two ships, and the chase began!

“Down the channel he came flying; and the Reindeer and the Jane Ellen
waited, side by side, their sails hanging idly in the dead calm, and the
sailors all standing by the braces to be ready when the winds struck
them. And now Taffy had his wish; for no one ever had a better chance to
see a monstrous Waterspout.

“As he whirled and twisted, his long trailing robes wound close about
his feet, then curved out again, smooth and black in the water, like the
curves of a lily-petal. They looked quite black to Taffy; but as the
light struck through the edges and thin folds, he saw that they were
green—like the green water under him. And following after, leaping,
snarling, jumping at the edges of his robes, the white foaming waves
joined in the chase, and came rushing, whirling down on the two
motionless ships.

“‘Wh-iiii-sss-shoooouuuuuu-eeeeEEE—!’ shrieked the winds, and the next
instant Torquillon would have had them—but just in time the sails
filled; and off flew the Jane Ellen to the right, and off darted the
Reindeer to the left, and left him hanging in the wind, because he

[Illustration:

  DOWN THE CHANNEL HE CAME FLYING
]

couldn’t chase both at once, and didn’t know which to follow first.

“But it didn’t take him long to decide. He had seen the Reindeer before;
and it made him very angry to see that she had come back as good as new.
He swung his black banner high over his head, so that it caught the wind
from the large island, and tore after the white spots on the stern of
the brown Reindeer, that showed plainly although it was beginning to be
dusk.

“The Captain had said it was too late to go in that night; and here was
their work just begun, and very little more daylight to do it in, but he
didn’t say, ‘I told you so,’ even to Taffy; but did his best to carry
out the plan.

“When Torquillon was almost within reach of the Reindeer, he glanced
aside and saw the Jane Ellen slipping along down the channel, and
seeming about to escape him altogether. With a howl of rage he turned
and flew after her instead. Then the Reindeer had her chance, and she
turned down the channel as if she were going to escape. So, crossing and
turning, the two ships dodged under the nose of that angry Waterspout,
who was in such a rage it was very easy to bewilder him.

“And always they drew him nearer and nearer to the flat little island
with the hollowed rock where they planned to seal him up forever, when
he should have tripped into it.

“The winds shrieked and screamed from all sides, and the clouds pressed
down, thick and black. But just before they reached the island, the
sunset light broke through a narrow rift in the clouds, and shone
through the gap between the Lion and the Rock Man; and all the foaming
crests of the waves and the edges of Torquillon’s robes turned to fiery
gold; and down his dark sides and in the black curves about his feet
were blood-red streaks; and the great sable banner over his head burst
into crimson flame!

“Then the Jane Ellen passed the island, and Torquillon tore after in his
crimson fury, never heeding where he went—and the rock directly in his
path. The Reindeer scudded after, the sailors on both ships standing by
to lower the boats, with the wide tarpaulin ready to cover him over. And
the Skipper fairly danced up and down on the deck in his excitement and
delight to think how near they were to success. And Torquillon was
almost on the rock!—when up went his feet, and on went the flaming
scarlet sail—with the purple hollow on the side away from the sun—and
carried him clean over, without even touching it; though the waves that
followed crashed and boiled to the very top, and covered the rock from
sight!

“Then the clouds closed in—black and heavy—and night had come almost in
a minute. And there were the Jane Ellen and the Reindeer in the middle
of an inland sea, without a star to guide them, the winds raging and
shrieking about, and a furious Waterspout at their heels!”


The Princess stopped—as if that could possibly be the end of it!

“Oh, Dearie! You can’t have the heart to leave them like that,” Phyllisy
remonstrated. “We’re so excited.”

“I’m pretty excited myself, Miss Phyllisy,” said the Princess. “I’d like
to rest a few minutes. What should you say to a few chocolates? You
might look at the box, at least, if you don’t care to eat them. It’s a
very pretty one.”

“Where is it?” asked Pat.

When she brought it to the Princess, they all crowded around her chair
and admired the outside of the box. Then she lifted the cover slowly, to
show the chocolates packed in rows of different shapes with crimpy
paper, and little tongs to pick up the kind they wanted. And the
Princess let them go down to the under layers to see if they were
different.

Still, they were very anxious to go on and find out what happened; and
when the Princess had rested and Phyllisy had attended to the fire—it
would have needed it soon any way—they went back to their old places and
the Princess began again.


“You know how Old Sol stays a little while every year in each of the
Houses of the Zodiac?

“It happened, when he glanced through the long slit in the clouds at
Torquillon and the two ships, that he was making his visit to the Gemini
Brothers; and that was very fortunate, because it gave him an idea.

“It was only a glimpse he had of that chase, but it was enough to show
him that it was going to be hard times for the Jane Ellen and the
Reindeer unless something were done for them before it was too late. And
Castor and Pollux were right at hand and able to do it, so it was the
most natural thing that he should send them.”

“And they’re specially for sailors—friends,” remarked Pat.

“Specially; Sol knew it. ‘Now’s your chance,’ he said, ‘you
ground-and-lofty tumblers. Tumble right down, or that wicked Torquillon
will have the Jane Ellen and the Reindeer made into kindling wood—if
they don’t run ashore first, in the dark.’

“The darkness came so suddenly on the ships when the clouds closed down
in the West, that it was bewildering. And they were so surprised and
disappointed that Torquillon had not fallen into the trap they had laid
for him that they hardly knew what to do.

“Fortunately, the same darkness that confused them confused him, too;
but it was not long before the chase began again. Now the ships had no
thought of anything but of how they should escape: and whether it was
better to go back or forward they didn’t know. The darkness grew blacker
and blacker, and they flew wildly back and forth—until they had no idea
where they were, nor where the entrance lay, and could only guess where
Torquillon was by the shrieking of the wild winds.

“Once he passed so close to the Reindeer that he nipped off her
flying-jib-boom. But the flying jib was not set, of course, in that
weather, so it didn’t much matter; and he carried a trysail on the Jane
Ellen out of the gaskets with a crack like a cannon. Still they were
managing to escape him, when, as the ships happened to be close
together, and Torquillon was raging down the channel some distance away,
trying to find them in the darkness, Taffy heard a sound—different from
the screeching of the winds in the rigging—and it seemed to come from
the foremast of the Jane Ellen.

“As he listened to the sound, like music, he looked up at the place from
whence it came, and above the ends of the topsail yards were two glowing
flames of pure white fire that threw a faint light on the deck, and the
music grew clearer to his ears.

“And in a moment, all the men on both ships were looking and listening.
But some could hear only the wind in the rigging and see two little
lights hovering about the mast. Some could see and hear a little more;
and Taffy,—because he was a Welshman and had a young heart,—more plainly
than all, saw, standing lightly on the yards, high, high in the air, the
twin brothers, Castor and Pollux! Young and strong, and with star-tipped
spears in their hands and helmets on their heads with the white, flaming
star streaming from the top like a plume.

“The Captain, who had a young heart, heard the music of their singing,
though he couldn’t tell the words, but he looked at Taffy—and his eyes
were shining, so the Captain knew he understood, and that the beautiful
Star People wanted to save them, and that Taffy was the one

[Illustration:

  STANDING LIGHTLY ON THE YARDS, HIGH, HIGH IN THE AIR, THE TWIN
    BROTHERS CASTOR AND POLLUX
]

to help them do it. So he said softly, ‘Mr. Morganwg, you may take
command.’

“Taffy only nodded, he was watching and listening so intently. And the
Shining Brothers were singing:—

                     “Follow through the darkness
                       Where the Lion roars,
                     Where the Rock Man, scowling,
                       Marks Torquillon’s shores;

                     “Through the Gateway flying,
                       From his fury free,—
                     Follow, Taffy, follow
                       To the open sea!

“They pointed their star-tipped spears and Taffy gave his orders: and
fast and faster sped the Jane Ellen through the black waters, the
Reindeer following, led by the gleaming flames on her topsail
yards—though the Skipper couldn’t hear a sound of the music nor see
anything more than the little lights, because he wasn’t a Welshman, and
if he had a young heart, he was too impatient to listen to what it said.

“Torquillon, too, saw the little flames of fire, and saw how fast they
flew, and he knew the ships were escaping. And with the winds howling
and shrieking (they were hoarse by this time, you may believe, for they
had had no rest for two hours), and the waves snapping at his heels, he
came tearing once more up the channel—after the Jane Ellen and the
Reindeer, that were flying for their lives!

“And when they reached the Gateway and slipped by the roaring Lion’s
jaws, Torquillon was so close he couldn’t stop himself, and dashed his
whole height against the towering rock!

“It was like the crash of a hundred great breakers at once on a rocky
beach; and he slipped and splashed down the streaming rock, into the sea
at the foot of it, while the Jane Ellen and the Reindeer passed safely
out, to the singing of the Star Brothers:—

                        “Follow, follow safely,
                          To the open sea!

“Then the two flames were gone from the topsail yards, and the ships
dropped anchor to wait for morning.


“But don’t you think the Star People were interested when Castor and
Pollux came back to their House in the Zodiac?

“They were all waiting for them, and they listened, quiet as mice, while
Pollux told them (with Castor correcting him when he didn’t tell it
straight) how they had saved the ships and escaped from Torquillon; and
what a smash and tumble he had had at the end.

“‘And that’s the end of _him_’, said Cassiopeia.

“‘Bless you, no, it isn’t!’ said Castor. ‘He doesn’t mind a spill like
that. Of course it shakes him up, but he’ll come up like a
jack-in-the-box.’

“‘Uglier than ever,’ remarked Orion.

“‘Then he ought to be ashamed of himself,’ said Cassiopeia.

“‘I don’t thuppoth he had any bringing up,’ said Draco. ‘He doethn’t
theem to have any mannerth.’

“‘Not a manner,’ said Pollux. ‘And he’s too old to learn.’

“‘But he can’t be allowed to be rude and selfish where polite ships want
to sail,’ said Castor. ‘Taffy will wait, and we are going back to-morrow
night to teach him that.’

“‘How?’ asked Perseus.

“‘We want to talk with you about that,’ answered Castor.

“So they talked and they talked, and I’m not going to tell you what they
said; but this is what happened after they had finished talking.

“Orion went striding away on his long legs, with his sword jingling at
his side and the two dogs capering before him, until he said, ‘Come to
heel, Sirius! Heel, Procyon!’ So they came to heel and the three walked
fast along the Milky Way, through the star daisies, and at last they
came to the edge of a great dark hole. It might have been a small lake,
but there was no water in it, or, if there was, it was so deep down that
it could not be seen. It seemed bottomless. No star-flowers grew around
the bleak margin; and you wouldn’t wonder if you had been with Orion and
felt the cold that came from the black emptiness which he looked into.

“He didn’t spend any time looking, but he knelt by the edge, with Sirius
and Procyon watching every motion from either side, where they stood
almost tumbling in. And they saw that Orion held in his hand two small,
curious-shaped flasks. He took from his pocket a ball of moonbeam cord,
and made a slip-noose in the end of it and put it around the neck of one
of the flasks. Then he lowered it into the depths beneath him, and he
and the dogs watched it go down—down—until it was swallowed up in the
dark: but still he lowered the fine shining cord that was like a thin
shaft of light. After a time he began to draw it up again. And when he
had the flask in his hand, it was full of liquid, clear as crystal.

“He put in the stopper—quick—and lowered the other. When that was filled
he wound up the cord, and he and the dogs came striding and capering
back to the Gemini’s House. They were looking for him, and Orion handed
them the flasks.”

“They couldn’t go themselves unless Sol told them, could they?” asked
Pat.

“Of course not, the Zodiac People,” said Phyllisy. “I’m perfectly wild
to know what’s in those flasks, but I don’t want you to tell, Dearie.”

“She will,” said Pat.

“Of course, at the right time. Please go on, Dearie.”

Then the Princess went on:—

“Very early the next morning Captain Gryller came aboard the Jane Ellen;
and you never would have guessed, to see him, that it was his plan that
had been such a failure, and that they had come so near losing the ships
and their own lives because he had insisted on going in so late. When he
stepped on deck he looked about him, and was surprised to see that they
were not making ready to sail.

“‘I’ve just come to say good-by,’ he said to the Captain. ‘We had a
narrow escape last night, didn’t we?’

“‘Yes, we did,’ said the Captain.

“‘Well—we’ll have to go around the islands after all. I’ve wasted too
much time already, and I must be off.’

“‘Not yet,’ said the Captain. ‘We’ve only half done our work—not even
that—and I’m not going to leave until that channel is clear.’

“‘But what’s the use?’ said the Skipper. ‘We’ll just risk our ships for
nothing. You saw how we failed last night!’

“‘That’s because we didn’t do it right,’ said the Captain. ‘Who helped
us last night?’

“‘The Star People.’

“‘Exactly. And they’ll help us again. And the Jane Ellen is going to
stay here to do it!’

“‘Then the Reindeer will stay, too,’ said the Skipper.

“That day the sailors and every one had a good rest, for it was very hot
and the fight with Torquillon had been hard work, and they wanted to be
fresh to begin again. So all they did was to make the Jane Ellen and the
Reindeer ship-shape, and wait for night and the Star Twins.

“When twilight came, the captain of the Reindeer saw the little flag
fluttering from the peak of the Jane Ellen that said it was time to
sail; and the two ships moved forward side by side, like soft gray birds
in the gathering darkness.

“When they reached the Lion and passed into the shadow of the clouds
that hung low and black over Torquillon’s Lair, it looked as if they
were about to enter an enormous cavern, and night fell all at once, but
not quite dark. For far as eye could see, the water was covered with a
pale greenish glow—like phantom light. The crests of the little waves
crinkled and crisped up in faint flames, and the smoke of the Sea-fire
rose where the forefoot of the ship cut through the black water and
turned it back in ripples and streams of light.

“All sailors know the phosphorescence, and Taffy had seen it often, but
never so much nor so beautiful. And over this lake of pale, floating
light the two ships sailed side by side, and the Mate of the Jane Ellen
was in command.

“As they passed fairly between the Lion and the Frowning Man, the Wind
from the Lion’s side cried: ‘Mmmmmmm-whooooo-uuuuu-eeeeEEE—!’ and rushed
out upon them. Then all the other winds awoke and soon were screaming
about them; and with their voices Taffy heard the sound of music—and
there on the topsail yard, poised light as two dragonflies, stood the
lovely Star Brothers with the streaming white flame-feathers in their
helmets.

“They pointed straight ahead with their star-tipped spears and sang
their brave song:—

       “Onward, and onward, fly fast o’er the foaming wave,
         Onward, still onward, with never a fear;
       Meet the foe boldly, heed not though the wild winds rave;
         Over the Sea-fire points on the bright spear.

       “Onward, still onward! Torquillon in all his might
         Whirling comes, swirling, hot rage in his heart!
       Vainly they fight, who ’gainst Right and the Stars fight,—
         Cold shall he be ere his rage will depart.

       “Onward, then, onward—press forward to meet him;
       Torquillon comes raging!—and coldly we’ll greet him!

“The straining ropes of the rigging hummed and sang with them as if the
ships were mighty harps; and they held their way steadily down the
channel in spite of the frantic winds, to meet Torquillon; and what they
were to do with him, they hadn’t an idea, but they were sure Castor and
Pollux would show them when the time came.


“That was a tremendous spill Torquillon had, just as he thought he had
the two ships that had defied him, where he could crush them the next
minute. So he was furiously angry when he gathered himself together at
the foot of the rock; but at least he had taught them he was not to be
trifled with! He took himself off, far down the channel; and there he
sulked and made himself perfectly miserable because he couldn’t decide
whether he would rather have the ships come back, so that he could crush
them, or have them so frightened they never would try it again, nor let
any one else.

“He had fallen into a sulky sleep when the watching winds cried,
‘WhiiiissssssshhhhhhooooouuuueeeEEE—!’ and he wakened and raised his
head as the winds from beyond him rushed by to meet the two ships.

“He gave a scream of mingled rage and joy that called the winds to him,
and, springing up, caught the floating banner that hung, always ready,
over his head, and came whirling down the channel, black and furious and
terrible to see! And the two ships came on steadily, never swerving.

“The Sea-fire ran up and down, in and out of the folds of his trailing
robes in streaks of pale light, and curled on the edges of the waves
that foamed about his feet. So they came nearer and nearer—and then they
were so close he towered above them, higher than the tops of the
masts—and the next instant it would have been too late—when Castor
darted like a dragonfly to the fore-royal yard of the Reindeer, and
pointed to the left with his spear, and at the same moment Pollux
mounted to the fore-royal yard of the Jane Ellen, and pointed to the
right with his spear, and the two ships turned to the right and the
left, and Torquillon went straight on to pass between them before he
could stop or turn himself.

“And as they swept by, the Twins raised their arms; and each held in his
hand a curious-shaped flask, filled with a liquid, clear as crystal.

“They flung it out, over Torquillon! and as it came from the mouth of
the flask, it spread and pushed and billowed, on and on, pulsing and
crowding in clouds of vapor; and the air grew cold—cold—so chill it
seemed no living thing could stand against it.

“The winds cried: ‘Ughhhhhoooouuuuughhhhhh-h—’ and fled back to their
caves. But they carried some of the cold with them, and the monkeys and
cockatoos shivered and sneezed in the trees as the frost-needles pricked
them. And some of them had bad colds the next morning.

“And as the ships swept by, almost within reach, and the vapor poured
over him, Torquillon shrieked with rage and loosed his hands from his
banner, to catch them. It floated off; and Taffy, looking back from the
Jane Ellen, and every one on the two ships saw their enemy stand, his
hands still lifted above his head, and the drapery of his robes hanging
stiff about him—shining and glittering in the calm moonlight like
diamonds and emeralds and sapphires—no longer a terrible Waterspout, but
a glorious Iceberg, frozen to his hot, angry heart!

“And all the air was full of finest diamond
frost-needles—drifting—floating—slowly settling about him and over the
two ships—until every spar and rope was coated with hoar-frost, and the
sails and decks shone like silver; but the Star Twins were gone.

“Then all the clouds drifted away, and the dark blue sky of the tropic
night arched over Torquillon’s Lair, with the throbbing stars looking
down; and the most beautiful thing they saw was that wonderful
Iceberg—all his rage gone—calm and shining in the tranquil sea.”


The Princess’s voice ceased. There was no sound, only a long-drawn
breath through the room, as if great music had just come softly to a
close.

She began again in a different voice—talking: “But the Captain knew it
never would do to leave him there; for he would melt in the hot sun and
be as bad as ever; though he was frozen harder than any ice he ever had
seen. So they didn’t wait even for morning, but fastened ropes around
him and set off to tow him North. They didn’t mind if it took a month—it
was such a good thing to do. They carried him far up toward the North
Pole, and left him frozen fast in the ice. And he will never get away!

“Now ships pass freely through the wide channel that was Torquillon’s
Lair; and since he has gone the clouds have left too, and the Rock Man
has forgotten to frown, and if the Lion roars, it is a roar of welcome.
The little winds caper and frisk around the ships until the channel
seems the pleasantest spot in the ocean, and they are sorry to leave
it.”

The Kitten had her foot already off the edge of the couch, but she
stopped, because the Princess leaned forward, with her finger up, to say
one more word, and mischief began to dance in her eyes. “And,”—said the
Princess, “if any one asks Taffy if he ever saw a Waterspout, his eyes
shine and his white teeth, and he says, ‘_Sure!_’”

Then she opened her arms and the Kitten ran into them.

“I’ll ask him,” she said. “Will he tell me? Will he come soon?” She
asked it so quickly, it was all one question, and her arm around the
Princess’s neck pulled her head forward where the glow from the
burned-down fire was on her face. It grew suddenly like a rose.

“I shouldn’t be one bit surprised if he did,” she answered.

“But, Dearie-_Dearest_,” said Phyllisy, perched on the arm of the chair
and playing with the Princess’s fingers, “I wish you’d just explain
this: You said it was so long ago—Taffy and all—nobody can remember
when. I thought it was—not exactly ‘Ancient,’ you know, but ‘Once upon a
time’?”

“That is perfectly true,” said the Princess, soberly. “But you know—”

“Yes?” prompted Miss Phyllisy.

“You know, Taffy had a young heart? It seems to me, he must have been
always.”

That kept everybody silent for a moment, thinking about it. Then Pat’s
voice came from among the pillows in the dusky corner of the couch:
“Well—I hope to goodness he’ll like us!”

“I don’t see how he could help it,” said the Princess.



                                EPILOGUE


 _Come back, Little Katharines, still for a time to our glamour-world,
 Ere our ship’s prow touches the daylight shore,
     And her sails are furled.
 The sun has gone on his way o’er the mountain’s rim;
 The mighty Earth-shadow creeps slowly up from the East,
     And the heavens grow dim.
 See, in the soft gloaming the stars steal forth into sight,
 Till over the dun Earth-plain broods the deep blue vault
     Of the jeweled night.
 They are there, dear hearts; each one of our Star Folk blest
 Faithful and motionless stands, borne on by the firmament’s
     Ceaseless roll to the West.
 They listen, they wait, expectant. For what? In the vast,
 Deep hush of the night their heart-beats throb in the stars.
     At last,—
 In the Northern heavens a gleam of wavering light
 Floats upward—dies. Then again—pulsing up, ever stronger,
     More bright._

 _With the first, faint gleam, a shadow of sound—a sigh
 As a breath over harp-strings—sets trembling the stars
     As it passes through Earth and Sky.
 (Too fine for our bodily ears, little sisters, but clear
 To the blessed to whom all beauty is one. Only look;
     You shall hear!)
 Fuller toned now, and deeper, as broadening pennons of light
 Uprush from below the horizon; the heavens are alive—
     Filled with splendor the night!_

 _What do the Star People see that is hid from our eyes,
 Where the ramparts of hills rise black in the North
     ’Gainst the flame of the skies?
 Ranks beyond ranks of radiant Spirits! They stand
 In dazzling circles;—a golden censer swinging
     From each one’s hand.
 From the Shining Ones’ censers, soft swinging, there float and ascend
 Streams of pure radiance; and one with their rhythm, the deep
     Swelling harmonies blend.
 Like music heard faintly in dreams—first afar—it draws near,
   Till the triumphant chant sweeps into the Star People’s hearts;
     Then, joyous and clear:—
 “The Heavens declare the glory—” There follows a gush,
 A bursting in spray of the sound, as it pours like a wave
     In its o’erwhelming rush!
 The splendor ineffable blinds them; their hearts fill with awe
 And reverence—they know not for what; all the Power that they know
     Is their Law.
 Yet Law is obedient to this Nameless One,
 Whose glory all Creation sings; and shall be
     While the Ages run!
 “Might, Power, Dominion—” Still the censers swing;
 The Heavens declare, in light upsurging still,
     The glory of the King._

 _May not the Star Folk, little sisters mine,
 Faint shadows though they be—and still obedient
     To Law divine—
 Declare His glory, Whom they may not know;
 And in the Northern Lights His worship see,
     As we below?_



                         =The Riverside Press=

                       CAMBRIDGE . MASSACHUSETTS

                               U . S . A

------------------------------------------------------------------------



                          TRANSCRIBER’S NOTES


 1. P. 230, added EPILOGUE heading.
 2. Silently corrected typographical errors and variations in spelling.
 3. Retained anachronistic, non-standard, and uncertain spellings as
      printed.
 4. Enclosed italics font in _underscores_.
 5. Enclosed blackletter font in =equals=.





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