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across the road, the laughter of the birds in the eaves, the laughter of the leaves as they rustled together! He remembered it all—the trembling lips, the breathless eagerness, the burning face, the steps on the gravel, the ring at the bell, the opening door, the suffocating joy.
“My God! it was your sister I meant.”
Oh! it was terrible, terrible, not to be borne, and yet it must be borne; that was the sting of it. The tears rained down his face. Remember? Could such a thing ever be forgotten? The new-created earth fell in atoms, the new heavens vanished far out of reach; nothing was left but a little ugly woman, smiling with white lips lest the world should make a mock of her, that such as she had dared to dream of love !
And the days that followed, the long days that followed, they were so burnt into his memory that he doubted if he could forget, even in the ages of eternity, the hourly pain, and the shame of it all. The agony of watching the happy love of sister and lover, the fuss of preparation for the wedding, to sit and sew at wedding-clothes that shrouded her own love, to see her lover pouring out his love upon that careless brighi girl, who had many lovers, who had not thought of him till now, to hear his friendly praise of herself as “such a sensible girl," take his careless greeting and go from the room that the happy lovers might be left together.
And the thoughtless wounding of curious friends. “Well, my dear, I must say I think you behaved very well about it. And so you gave him up ? All a mistake, you say ; dear! dear! what a pity! And you don't mind ? Now, that's so brave of you."
So brave? yes, but to the weak courage is anguish.
Oh, the longing to end it all—to cry out “Give me one kiss, and then let me die !"
But pride forbade death, for to die was to confess her unsought love to the world, and the world always says that a woman's disappointment is her shame.
There was no choice but to endure, endure, endure—always endure.
And the dreariness of it, after the sharp agony of parting, the long pain of loneliness, the days without comfort, the years without hope, the daily death of youih-youth that should die in childbed, bringing forth to time accomplished hopes, but her youth died sterile.
And the long dull days of life at home, the drudgery of duty uncrowned by love, the thankless service to parents who cared so
much less for her unselfish devotion than for the beauty and success of their more fortunate child, even when they died, more moved by the brief shallow sorrow of the happy wife than by the long patient watchfulness of the ugly daughter.
And the bitterness of dependence in the house of that fortunate sister, the careless, tolerant pity of the man she had loved- to feel her love die in contempt, and be more desolate for the loss of it-to look on the great sorrow of her life as a thing of shame, of scorn, food for mirth rather than tears, cruel mirth : the tears were less bitter.
The shame of living where she was not wanted, a superfluity in a full life, a discredit, with her plain face and dowdy figure, in a pleasant home!
And the futile efforts to earn her own living, the bitterness of seeing the way made so easy for the young and bright and hopeful, but so hard for her ; of seeing the stronger push past her, the fairer chosen before her. The tragic pain of the past was almost sweet, compared with the squalid misery of the present.
There is something in great agony that in itself strengthens us t endurance, but who can endure contempt? In the past she had been so wounded and crushed, that now every touch was agony; and no one spared her: why should they? What graces had she that should win tenderness, a little faded ugly woman, a mark for the mirth of the young and thoughtless, the dislike of the sensuous, the impatience of the strong ? Nothing left her but patience, and she had grown so very weary of patience. Life would have been easier if she could have been angry, but she had no just cause for anger. What right had she to expect life to be other than bitter ? the world loves beauty and youth and happiness, and she was old and sad and ugly.
The world was full of love, but not for her. The world lives on hope, and she was hopeless; the world is very beautiful, and she was a stain upon it.
“Oh God! to be a woman, and old, and ugly!”
It broke his heart; the pain was too great to be borne, he cried out aloud, and started in his seat.
The little brown-faced woman at the farther end of the carriage started too, and shrank into herself; ne stared at her, bewildered.
It was so tragic, the gentle pathos of her face, as if she would beg forgiveness for her very existence; as if she would cry out to him not to crush her, as insects are crushed by the strong because they are unsightly.
He passed his hand across his eyes as if to clear his sight, and looked at her, puzzled.
“May I express my deep sympathy with the very sad story you have told me?” he said.
“My story? I have told you no story. I hope I do not disturb yo!. I have no right here, I know ; mine is a third-class ticket, but the guard put me in here last time we stopped because the people in the carriage where I was were so noisy.”
“I am amazed, bewildered,” he stammered ; “certainly you told me your story.”
The little woman had pride ; she set her lips firmly, and spoke coldly.
“I do not speak of my affairs to strangers,” she said ; “even if they were of any interest I should not.” · Her pride touched him more than all, it was so impotent, so gentle. He moved along the seat till he was opposite her, looking straight into the patient, proud, pathetic face ; he spoke tenderly, gently, and with infinite reverence.
"I am sure, though you have not told me your story, that the story which has in some strange way come within my knowledge is your story, and I want to hear the end. Do you mind telling me where you are going now? ”
“I am going to be a drudge among strangers. What is it to you?”
What, indeed? A little plain, faded woman, what did it mean that he, a man in the prime of life, handsome, rich, overburdened with friends, felt the tears rise in his eyes, and a great ache in his heart? She might well look at him in wonder. He stretched out his hands towards her, he could scarcely speak
“I know it all," he said, “I have felt it all. You have suffered so much. You shall not suffer any more. I will make your life so bright to you if you will let me.”
“I don't understand,” she faltered.
“Neither do I,” he cried, “neither do I, not how I know so much, or why I love you. I only know that I must take you right into my heart and keep you warm there, for I do love you!”
“Oh no! me, impossible !”
But looking in his eyes she saw it was possible, and true, and she held out her hands, trembling, wondering, questioning. He answered the question with words that seemed to come through him, as if they were a message, and not only his own thought.
“Every human soul is lovable ; we could not hold back from loving every soul on earth, could we once see it. But we cannot. Beauty hides the soul equally with deformity. To-day God has been good to me: I have seen the soul of a woman--and loved it.”
THE SUN AMONG HIS PEERS.
'HE Sun is a star, and the stars are suns. This fact has been
a familiar one to astronomers for many years, and is probably known to most of my readers. That the stars shine by their own inherent light, and not by light reflected from another body, like the planets of the solar system, may be easily proved. That many of them at least are very similar to our own sun is clearly shown by several considerations. I will mention three facts which prove this conclusively. First, their great intrinsic brilliancy compared with their small apparent diameter, a diameter so small that the highest powers of the largest telescopes fail to show them as anything but mere points of light without measurable magnitude. Second, their vast distance from the earth, a distance so great that the diameter of the earth's orbit dwindles almost to a point in comparison. This accounts satisfactorily for the first fact. Third, the spectroscope—that unerring instrument of modern research-shows that the light emitted by many of them is very similar to that radiated by the sun. Their chemical and physical constitution is, therefore, probably analogous to that of our central luminary. The red stars certainly show spectra differing considerably from the solar spectrum, but these objects are comparatively rare, and may perhaps be considered as forming exceptions to the general rule.
The stellar spectra have been divided into four types or classes. The first class includes stars like Sirius, in which the strong development of the hydrogen lines seems to indicate the preponderance of this gaseous metal in the fiery envelopes of these distant suns. The second class includes stars in which the spectrum closely resembles the solar spectrum. The third and fourth types include those which show a banded spectrum, the rainbow-tinted streak being crossed by a number of dark bands or shadings, in striking contrast to the solar spectrum, in which fine lines only are visible. These are mostly of an orange or red colour of various degrees of intensity, and many of them are variable in their light. There is some reason to suppose that stars of the first type are probably the
hottest and intrinsically the brightest of all, and are not, therefore, fairly comparable with our sun. In considering, therefore, the sun's rank in size and brightness among the stellar hosts, we should compare it with stars which show a similar spectrum.
But how are we to compare the sun with any star? It is clear that the first thing we require to know is the star's distance from the earth. The apparent size and brightness of an object depends on its distance from the eye. A candle placed a few feet from us will look larger and give more light than a brilliant electric lamp several miles away. Venus is, at its brightest, considerably brighter than Jupiter, although the former is a much smaller planet than the latter. Unfortunately the distance of but few of the fixed stars has been ascertained with any approach to accuracy. Failure in the attempt to measure the distance of a star implies, of course, that it lies at a vast distance from the earth. In several cases, however, the efforts of astronomers have been rewarded with success, although the result found for some stars is still open to much uncertainty. In addition to their distance we also require to know the apparent brightness of the sun with reference to the star with which it is to be compared. Owing to the excessive brilliancy of the sun compared with even the brightest stars, this is a matter of no small difficulty. Photometric measures, made with the aid of the moon as a “medium,” have, however, yielded a fairly reliable result, and it is now generally assumed by astronomers that on the scale of stellar magnitudes which represents the brightest stars as of the first magnitude, and those near the limit of ordinary eyesight as sixth magnitude, the sun's light may be expressed as about 26} magnitudes brighter than an average star of the first magnitude, such as Altair or Spica. This may seem to some rather a surprising result. It may be asked, if there is a difference of five magnitudes between a sixth magnitude star and one of the first magnitude, should not the difference between a first magnitude star and the sun be much more than 26. magnitudes? At first sight the number representing the sun's stellar magnitude certainly does seem small, but a little consideration will soon dispel this feeling of surprise. The explanation of the apparent difficulty is a simple one, and will be easily understood by those fanıiliar with the rules of arithmetic. The numbers denoting star magnitudes really form a geometrical series. Thus a star of the fifth magnitude is about two and a half times (more correctly 2'512 times) brighter than a star of the sixth magnitude ; a star of the fourth two and a half times brighter than one of the fifth, and so on. This series increases very rapidly, like the question of the nails in a horse's shoe in books