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Full text of "Mercia, the astronomer royal : a romance,"

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DUKE UNIVERSITY 



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The Glenn Negley Collection 
of Utopian Literature 



Digitized by the Internet Archive 
in 2010 with funding from 
Duke University Libraries 



http://www.archive.org/details/merciaastronomerOOmear 



MERCIA, 

THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 



% Fiomaiut. 



BY 

A. GARLAND MEAES, 

AUTHOR OF 

'idylls, legends, and lyrics,' the story of A TRUST. 

' TALES OF OUR TOWS,' ETC. 



LONDON: 

SIMPKIN. MARSHALL, HAMILTON, KENT & CO. Ltd. 

4 STATIONERS'- HALL COURT. 

1895. 

All rights reserved. 



PRINTED BY 

SPOTTISWOODE AND CO., NEW-STREET SQUARE 

LONDON 



OTZ)?/A 
M4#3W 



MEECIA 

THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL. 



' Whoever knows the origin, the entrance, the locality, 
and the five-fold power of life enjoys immortality.' 

From The Pbasna, in Bibliotheca Indica. 



CONTENTS 



PART 
I. 

II. 

III. 



PROLOGUE. 



i 



23 
31 



MEECIA, THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL. 



CHAPTER 
I. 

ii. : 

in. 

IV. 

v. 

VI. 

VII. 

VIII- 

IX. 

X. 

XI. 

XII. 

XIII. 



41 
73 
85 
103 
127 
132 
L58 
184 
230 
264 

2sr 

295 
34 I 



PEOLOGUE 



PAET I 

The year of grace, 2002, had arrived and the 
world had seen many changes. The kingdoms 
of the earth had gone through great ex- 
periences. Nations had risen and fallen ; the 
boundaries of Empires had been modified ; 
for a serious redistribution of territory had 
taken place. 

Petty sovereignties had now become 
merged into greater ones, having fallen a 
prey to the strong ; for the dominant Power- 
had divided the spoil by agreement. 

Nevertheless, on the whole, peace and con- 
tentment reigned ; for advanced knowledge, 
not only taught the inutility, gross inhumanity, 
and waste of war, but science had made such 
wonderful progress in the arts of warfare 
n V b 



2 MERC1A 

throughout the whole world, that a battle 
actually meant the complete annihilation of 
both sides ; thus a victory for either became 
an impossibility. 

Along with this enforced peace-keeping 
the wave of civilisation had spread every- 
where carrying its mind-culture, its arts, and 
handicrafts to the uttermost parts of the earth ; 
until the world had become a huge beehive 
of active industry, although not necessarily a 
severe muscle- wearing one. 

Through all the generations dating from 
the close of the nineteenth century the social 
question relative to the status of woman had 
been ever uppermost, having been kept to 
the front by the intense longiug of the sex for 
a wider walk of life, a more extended field of 
action. 

They demanded a great reformation, a 
complete recast of social economics. 

The leading features of their programme 
being a higher education, which should be 
recognised by the Universities, Law, and 
Medical Corporations, in order that more 
honourable, lucrative, and responsible em- 
ployments might be opened to them. 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 

They demanded also, political, social, and 
marital equality between the sexes ; for they 
averred that women were being cramped and 
crippled by old-time conventionalities, the out- 
come of the customs and prejudices of mediaeval 
ignorance and tyranny, which had invariably 
relegated their sex to a lower platform of 
liberty. 

As citizens it placed them in the position 
of minors and lunatics, they averred, and as 
wives it gave them but little more authority 
than what their children possessed from a legal 
point of view, however talented and cultivated 
they might be. 

Loud and bitter were the railings of the 
dominant sex against the movement. Men 
scoffed and derided ' the new woman,' as they 
mockingly termed her. 

She became the subject of epigram, pun. 
and pleasantry generally ; the butt of every 
shallow humorist, and dubbed 'the new dam 
on the old bluestocking,' whatever that mighi 
mean. She was told that her aspirations were 
bold and offensive in the extreme ; that they 
' unsexed ' her. 

Nor was she spared by her own sex. If 



4 MERCIA 

a lady novelist had the courage to make a 
stand for social purity the critics would pounce 
upon her, condemning her work as ' improper.' 

Mostly those following this calling were 
males ; but there were to be found feminine 
monstrosities among writers, who to curry 
favour with the multitude, stooped to the un- 
worthiness of writing down those devoted 
champions of liberty for their own sex. 

It was a long battle and a hard, this 
struggle for equality. Man's dominance and 
woman's subjugation had not been a healthy 
influence throughout the ages, for either sex. 

Society taught, and the laws of the realm 
favoured the theory, that the code of morality 
for the man was widely different to that which 
should guide the woman. 

But the new woman saw whence this in- 
congruity sprang, and showed that it had its 
birth and continued existence in the coarser 
instincts of the male, whose desires it tended 
to foster and encourage. 

' Truly,' she exclaimed, ' the arrogance 
and selfishness of man is not difficult to dis- 
cover, although veiled by the hypocritical 
excuse of keeping intact the sweet delicacy 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 5 

and spirituality of woman. Men demand that 
we should continue to repose a child-like 
confidence in their goodness ; well, we shall 
be only too ready to grant it as soon as we 
are assured that they have made themselves 
worthy of our trust.' 

Education and experience had now opened 
her eyes : impelled by necessity she shook off 
the bonds that had bound her so long and 
utilised the talents that had for ages lain 
dormant, turning them into worthier and more 
useful channels. 

How their first steps in the ways of liberty 
were derided ! Nevertheless, there came for- 
ward high-souled men who held out a helping 
hand to these struggling children, who were 
laboriously and anxiously stretching and 
straining to reach the longed-for goal. 

The crowning joy came at last. Slowly, 
and by almost imperceptible degrees, she won 
one concession, and then another, until by the 
time the second millenary was reached her 
great ambition was attained. 

Like all wise reforms it benefited equally 
its adversaries as supporters ; and man, who 
at the outset bitterly opposed the movement, 



6 MERCIA 

reaped the advantage derived therefrom, to 
his own comfort and content. 

Woman's position was now assured, and 
she took her place alongside man on equal 
terms. If a post of honour, or high emolu- 
ment were vacant, sex was not taken into 
consideration in the choice of a candidate, for 
the person best suited for the position was 
selected according to his or her proved ability, 
or past experience. 

It frequently happened that a young fellow 
earning but 100/. a year would woo success- 
fully a young lady filling a position of im- 
portance that yielded her 500/. per annum. 
For it might chance that she had enjoyed the 
advantage over him of a superior training, or 
inherited abler ability for that particular em- 
ployment ; and these combined with perhaps, 
superior family influence exerted on her 
behalf had given her the better start. 

In such a case as this, with their united 
incomes, the young couple were in a position 
to set up housekeeping in a fairly respectable 
style ; the bridegroom's good luck might be 
envied by his companions, but no one thought 
the worse of either. 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 7 

Moreover it worked beneficially for the 
male in other ways. If accident, or sickness 
deprived a man of the capability of following 
his employment, he and his family, were not 
reduced to want, for the wife became the 
bread-winner, leaving him in charge of the 
housekeeping. 

This arrangement was considered no hard- 
ship by the wife ; for she was relieved of 
domestic cares, and control of domestic ser- 
vants, which, as a rule, the husband dis- 
charged with great success. It was frequently 
found that a master obtained readier obedience 
and more faithful service than a mistress. 
Whether this was owing to his requirements 
being less exacting than those of a mistress, 
or to that indefiDable influence which one sex 
holds over the other, cannot be determined ; 
doubtless it was a combination of the two 
that gave the man greater empire over the 
woman-servant. 

It is not to be supposed that a domestic 
servant occupied the humble position she 
held in previous times ; for a well-appointed 
household requiring at least four servants, in 
the nineteenth century would at this period 



8 MERCJA 

need but one. The vast amount of mechanical 
contrivances worked by electricity minimised 
labour to such an extent that it raised the 
position of a domestic servant to that of a 
Avorking electrician of the nineteenth century ; 
which period saw the birth of the practical 
use of electric energy. In fact, a thoroughly 
good domestic servant who knew her work, 
that is to say, a woman who understood, and 
successfully conducted the various machines, 
keeping them in working order, could readily 
command her two pounds a week, and run a 
home, husband, and children on her own 
account. 

The social economy of this time was 
entirely different to that of any previous 
period. Marriage in no way incapacitated a 
woman-servant from keeping her situation. 
Indeed, it had a contrary effect ; most people 
preferring a steady-going married woman 
with responsibilities, to a flirty inexperienced 
maiden who might use her position in the 
household to wile away a heedless son, or a 
somewhat lonesome husband. As a rule, 
however, such an occurrence happened rarely ; 
the marriage state was mostly a very happy 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL g 

one, and faithfully kept on both sides, for a 
high standard of morality ruled supreme. 

Other factors supported this beneficent 
condition ; for all being equal as bread- 
winners, and the number of the sexes equally 
balanced, a man deemed himself fortunate 
when he secured a good wife and did his 
utmost to please her. 

On her side affection alone prompted her 
to marry ; the unworthy motive of making 
marriage the means of obtaining a home of 
her own, no longer existed, as every parent 
trained his daughter equally as his son to 
hold a position of independence, by giving her 
a trade, or profession to follow. 

Both humble and high-born possessed 
more or less practical knowledge of physi- 
ology ; especially those branches dealing 
directly with health, and the functions of 
reproduction, which enabled women to fill 
more intelligently the positions of wife and 
mother. 

It w r as appointed by Government that all 
persons should be taught the more important 
branches of this science in the public schools, 
as soon as they reached the age of twelve 



io MERC I A 

years together with the principles of social 
economy. It was considered a gross im- 
morality on the part of parents to bring into 
existence a large family of children, whom 
they could not possibly rear with comfort to 
themselves, or with any degree of justice to 
their offspring. 

But over and above the personal incon- 
venience of poor people being overburdened 
with children, the disadvantage of giving 
birth to large families was recognised by all 
from an economic point of view : for the 
world was becoming so thickly populated 
that it appeared obvious a difficulty would 
arise in providing foodstuffs for so many 
millions of human beings, notwithstanding 
the very material assistance the science of 
chemistry afforded in feeding the multitude. 

All persons, therefore recognised the ne- 
cessity of supporting legislative authority on 
this point, for being an intellectual people 
they saw it worked to their advantage from 
every point of view. 

Inordinate reproduction interfered with a 
wife's ability to supplement her husband's in- 
come by following her own profession, and 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL u 

thereby making a very narrow income into an 
easy one. 

In bygone clays if the mistress of a public 
school entered the marriage state she entered 
the schoolroom no more ; custom decreed that 
with marriage all bread winning ceased on her 
side, and her husband's small income must 
suffice. 

Of course the raison d'etre of this custom 
was not far to seek, for her child-bearing 
duties, to which no limit was placed, would 
considerably interfere with those of her situa- 
tion. 

But at this advanced period public opinion 
decreed that such a course was the outcome 
of brute ignorance ; for physiological and 
psychological science taught that the position 
of parent was the most responsible in all 
creation, and to bring any number of children 
into the world until Nature refused to do 
more, was a condition of life in its wildest 
state ; for man in every other form of life 
controls the exuberance of Nature, for wise 
purposes. 

As soon as a wife decided on becoming a 
mother, — and most women looked forward to 



1 2 MERCIA 

that position with keen interest, for the love 
of children is ever paramount in the female 
breast, — she would brace herself to the ful- 
filment of the duties of this great respon- 
sibility. 

She realised that on herself alone rested, 
not only the building up of the physical 
frame of her unborn child, but also the for- 
mation of the pre-natal mind, with all its 
mental and moral capacities. 

She knew that every thought, impulse, 
and action of hers would leave their im- 
press upon the brain of her child ; for a 
stimulus would be given to the development 
of the faculties in those directions, accord- 
ing to the degree in which she exercised her 
own. 

In order, therefore to ensure herself the 
possession of a child perfect in physique, and 
intellect ; and endowed with such faculties of 
mind as formed her beau ideal of a beautiful 
character, she underwent a course of self- 
denial and watchfulness throughout the whole 
period of pregnancy. 

During this important period, the greatest 
in her life, she took heed that no emotion, 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 13 

thought, or action was indulged in on her 
part that she would object to seeing repro- 
duced in her child, however modified these 
might be by the new individuality. 

To ensure this she followed a system of 
wholesome and healthy employment, which 
served the two-fold purpose of keeping her 
mind pure, and her muscle-power in practice. 
By experience it was found that the most 
beautiful characters had been given to the 
world by parents noted for their industry, 
morality and unselfishness. 

Then there were the intellectual powers of 
the child's mind to consider, for it was not 
left to chance the arrangement of his talents, 
or capabilities for a profession. 

Expectant parents took time by the fore- 
lock, for instead of waiting for the period 
when their son's schooling would be completed 
for the choice of a profession, they carefully 
considered the question long before he put in 
an appearance, and made their plans regard- 
ing his future with twentieth-century fore- 
thought. 

If it so happened that the ambition of a 
couple was to see their son a professor of 



14 MERC I A 

music then the mother-that-was-to-be took 
her rule accordingly. 

During this interesting time she would 
devote herself almost exclusively to the pur- 
suit of music ; daily practising on the instru- 
ments she wished him to excel in ; studying 
the theory of music, attending high-class 
musical entertainments ; encouraging lovers 
of music at her house, and in fact, neglectim: 
nothing that lay in her power to foster and 
encourage the growth of that group of facul- 
ties, whose possession makes the perfect 
musician. 

Indeed, the friends of a lady enceinte 
would suspect her condition, not from seeing 
her lying about on the couch, or other indo- 
lent indulgences, but from her increased 
activities in a regular and definite direction. 

'It's easy to see,' a neighbour would re- 
mark in fireside parlance, ' that Mistress 
Woodward is expecting a son ; evidently they 
are going to make him a civil engineer. 

DO D 

Mark, how she is slaving over mathematics 

and reading up every work on engineering 
she can lay her hands on. Why, her boudoir 
is filled with mechanical drawings : you would 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 15 

think she was about building all the sus- 
pension bridges, and electrometers in the 
Empire. It is a son, you may be sure ; she 
would hardly put a daughter to such a pro- 
fession, seeing that when one conies she will 
be an heiress. Yes, the grandmother left all 
her propert} T to the granddaughter, when sh >, 
arrives. I suppose they will have one ; it 
goes without saying that they will, under the 
circumstances' 

Or this might be the gossip. 

' It's coming off at last ! They're going to 
give themselves a baby — poor things ! 'Twas 
a silly love match, thou remembers, and their 
united incomes were as nothing compared with 
their ideas, brought up as they were in every 
luxury. However, the wife got a good 
appointment last October owing to the in- 
fluence of her friends ; result — she is going to 
have a baby — a girl, I am told. It is plain 
enough to see what trade the child is to 
follow, for the expectant mother is now run- 
ning a laboratory and slaves in it nightly, 
besides attending the Government lectures on 
chemistry held weekly in the large hall of the 
Science Schools. Well, it is a useful pro- 



1 6 MERCIA 

fession, and will do equally well for a boy ; 
it's just possible they may have made a mis- 
take and the baby will prove to be a boy 
after all. I never thought either of them 
over intelligent — they are sure to blunder — 
but what matters it ? They can have a girl 
next time. Of course they will treat them- 
selves to two children — they can now afford it.' 

Still another sample of twentieth century 
table talk. 

Mr. Brown. ' Hast thou seen Smithers 
lately ? It is a long time since I set eyes on 
liim ; what is he doing ? ' 

Mr. Wliite. ' Oh, all his spare time is 
taken up showing Mistress Smithers how to 
manufacture flying machines. He takes her 
into his workshop daily, explaining the uses 
of this, that and the other. She has a lathe 
of her own, run by electricity, and she makes 
the parts and fits them together. Of course 
as soon as the baby is born she will drop it, 
for Smithers is well off now ; capital business 
that flying machine one, especially with that 
new patent of his — it almost goes like the 
wind, and a lot steadier.' 

Mr. Brown. ' Bless my life ! why she 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 17 

went through all that fag four years ago, I 
remember very well I could never get a minute 
with him. As soon as ever his workmen 
were gone, in went the wife for her lessons, 
and mighty quick she was too, in taking it 
all in. Are they going to have two sons ? ' 

Mr. White. ' Not if they know it ! They 
made a mistake last time ; it appears 'twas an 
order for a daughter that went, while they 
thought it was for a son, so Mistress Smithers 
has to go through all her exercises de novo ; 
it is to be hoped they have made no blunder 
this time, for it is no joke after all, for the 
poor woman.' 

Mr. Brown. ' The boy should be a genius 
when he comes, seeing that both parents are 
adepts in the business. Occasionally we have 
freaks of nature, — now, haven't we? Remem- 
berest thou those Percys, they were going to 
have a poet, forsooth ! but, ha, ha, ha, he 
turned out a simpleton ! ! He now takes the 
pence for the man who lends out his flying 
machine to boys. So much for manufacturing 
poets beforehand.' 

Mr. White. ' It was a maxim of the 
ancients that poets must be born not made, 

c 



1 8 MERCIA 

and it still holds good in these days of light : 
for a great poet only comes once in an epoch. 
He is an intellectual giant, as it were, and the 
conditions under which he is formed are not 
yet fathomed. It is comparatively easy for 
a woman to take up any ordinary employment 
with a view of giving a certain bias to the 
child's faculties, but how in the name of 
goodness can a person all at once simulate 
the poet, and expect her child to come into 
the world a ready-made bard — why it is pre- 
posterous ! ' 

Mr. Brown. ' We cannot limit the possi- 
bilities of the future : only a hundred years 
ago the possibility of arranging the sex of 
a child was laughed at as a simple absurdity. 
Now we arrange not only the number of our 
children but their sex also ; and very properly 
too, for we can do greater justice to our 
progeny when we know what we are about, 
than if they came by blind chance, merely.' 

Mr. White. ' We are twenty -first century 
people, now — let us remember that fact, two 
thousand and two ! Yea, verily, the world is 
growing very old and that blessed millennium 
hasn't come yet ! ' 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 19 

Mr. Brown. ' This is the millennium. We 
shall get no better. Is not the prophecy ful- 
filled of the ancient poets — " The wolf and 
the lamb shall he down together ? " Where is 
war ? It has ceased to exist. Civilisation and 
science have worked out the miracle, and 
given to war its quietus.' 

It is necessary to explain that by this 
time such a perfect knowledge of physiology 
was attained that the sex of the desired off- 
spring could be regulated by parents. As 
soon as the discovery was made, and fully 
and completely tested, it was not locked up 
as a professional secret, but was given to the 
people by order of the Government in a hand- 
book of health that was issued yearly at a 
nominal cost, which contained up-to-date 
information on hygiene, or general manage- 
ment of Health, and Home. By this means 
at least two-thirds of the children born were 
males, which kept the balance fairly even of 
the sexes. For notwithstanding the fact that 
Nature had at all times given the predomi- 
nance of number to the masculine sex, yet 
owing to the numerous accidents that befell 
men while in the pursuit of their calling ; and 

c 2 



20 MERCIA 

also to the severer strain on their constitution 
as the breadwinners, the mortality was con- 
sequently greater. From these causes mainly 
the nations found themselves mostly, with a 
redundance of adult females. 

But a complete metamorphosis had now 
set in, for the people had eagerly taken 
advantage of the information afforded them, 
availing themselves of it to such an extent 
that the succeeding generation of males found 
themselves with a very inadequate supply of 
wives. 

This awkward dilemma was, however, 
remedied in course of time, and eventually 
a fairly even number of the sexes was 
obtained. 

But there was still another factor that 
assisted in maintaining the balance — the 
opening of trades and professions to women, 
which custom had kept so long closed against 
them, causing parents to hesitate in sending 
their daughters to learn trades and profes- 
sions. ' Better have no daughters at all,' 
thought many susceptible ones, 'if they must 
toil for their living like men.' But time 
works wonders : the day came when a 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 21 

daughter brought as much honour and credit 
to her family as ever a son could possibly 
have achieved. 

What men in the first instance regarded 
as an invasion of their rights, proved in the 
end an inestimable blessing. A wife ceased 
to be a kind of encumbrance upon a struggling 
man, and became a helpmate in a very sub- 
stantial sense ; for marriage no longer in- 
capacitating a woman from continuing her 
employment, the income of a couple was 
doubled : by this means the two were enabled 
to live in greater comfort and with less strain 
and worry to the husband. Thus the 
longevity of the male was increased by the 
more equal distribution of labour between 
the sexes, for the wear and tear to the 
nervous system in the battle of life being 
reduced, had its share in prolonging mascu- 
line life and sustaining an equality of number 
of the sexes. 

As every person loved his profession, or 
trade, ' being born to it,' in a most literal 
sense, his enthusiasm and interest in it never 
slackened, consequently, no woman deemed 
it a hardship to follow the calling her parents 



22 MERC I A 

had designed for her, even when marriage 
made it no longer a necessity. When the 
duties of her situation were discharged each 
day, supposing she filled one, for few women 
ever thought of throwing up a good post on 
account of getting married — she would return 
to her home, whose appointments denoted 
the presence of the greatest refinement and 
comfort, and finish the day, for the hours 
of labour were short, in the society of her 
husband and children, varied by the enjoy- 
ment of social pleasures, or intellectual 
pursuits. 



23 



PART II 

For over a hundred years woman had been 
gradually developing in strength and stature, 
and had by this time attained as great a 
height as man formerly possessed. ' Woman's 
weakness ' was an unknown term, except from 
ancient literature, for owing to the various 
athletic exercises which for generations had 
been the universal custom for girls and 
women to engage in, and also to the increased 
physical strength attained by abstemiousness 
from much child-bearing, they had almost 
overtaken the males in vigour, and endurance. 
Courage being the accompaniment of bodily 
strength the myth of a woman running away 
from a mouse was regarded as a silly inven- 
tion of their ancestors for the purpose of 
pleasantry, or a playful manner of showing 
up the difference of the organisation of the 
sexes. But there were cynics to be found 
who averred that the comic papers of the 
nineteenth century in their skits on society 



24 MERC I A 

gave as true a reflection of its condition, from 
one point of view, as the most veracious and 
trustworthy historian could have afforded. 

It appeared, indeed, utterly absurd to the 
twentieth -century mind, when they turned 
over the leaves of some ancient copy of Punch 
to see the joke portraying the bald-headed 
pater looking aghast when the monthly nurse 
presents him with the twelfth consignment, 
which are twins ! 

' Why the man ought to be dandling his 
grandchildren at his time of life, he is actually 
bald, and babies coming still ! ' the reader 
of those ancient cynicisms would exclaim. 

They could not understand the imprudence 
of parents bringing children into the world 
for almost the whole of their natural lives. 
Leaving themselves without leisure or ease to 
enjoy the fruits of their industry in middle 
age, while yet youthful enough to appreciate 
the pleasures of life. 

The nursery story — most artistically illus- 
trated, of course, — descriptive of the condi- 
tion of their ancestors formed a curious 
revelation to twentieth-century children. 

' This is the man who toiled all day to fill 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 25 

the mouths of seven hungry children that 
didn't get enough. 

* This is the woman all worn with care, who 
was wife to the man that toiled all day, to fill 
the mouths of seven hungry children that 
didn't get enough. 

* This is the strap the woman used, all 
worn with care, who was wife to the man that 
toiled all day to fill the mouths of seven 
hungry children that didn't get enough. 

' This is the pup that eat up the strap the 
woman used, all worn with care, who was 
wife to the man that toiled all day to fill the 
mouths of seven hungry children that didn't 
get enough. 

' This is the cat that clawed the pup, that 
eat up the strap, the woman used, all worn 
with care, who was wife to the man that 
toiled all day to fill the mouths of seven 
hungry children that didn't get enough. 

' This is the tank that drowned the cat, that 
clawed the pup, that eat up the strap the 
woman used, all worn with care, who was 
wife to the man that toiled all day to fill the 
mouths of seven hungry children that didn't 
get enough.' 



26 MERCIA 

This melancholy record of the fortunes of 
the nineteenth century representative peasant, 
was doubtless a variation of the legend of the 
old woman that lived in a shoe. Nevertheless 
it amused the little tots of twenty-first century 
time. For the extraordinary picture of seven 
little children inhabiting one poor little cot- 
tage appeared utterly absurd to their ad- 
vanced minds, which could scarcely compre- 
hend the folly of a poor man possessing more 
mouths to fill than was possible. ' What did 
he want with all those P ' they innocently 
inquired. 

But their nurse could only reply — ' She 
didn't quite know : it was a way they had in 
nineteenth-century times.' 

The laws of health were so strictly taught 
in all schools that no individual could possibly 
grow up ignorant on those points ; and every 
man, mostly, knew how to take charge of his 
own body. 

Nevertheless professors of medicine still 
flourished on the face of the earth ; but the 
masculine sex had for generations past lost 
the monopoly of the profession. 

As a rule, however, the lady doctor was 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 27 

in no greater demand than her male rival, 
men still holding their own to some extent ; 
for the world will ever see those women who 
prefer men to dance attendance on them. 

The profession was, indeed, pretty equally 
divided between the sexes ; most mothers 
preferring females to prescribe for their chil- 
dren in times of dangerous sickness, believing 
that they were more successful in their treat- 
ment of the troubles of childhood. Besides, 
it followed as a natural consequence that as 
the lady accoucheur brought the child into 
the world, which was the invariable custom, 
it was only fair that she should have the 
medical care of the little one afterwards. 

The serious infant mortality which pre- 
vailed among the lower orders up to the close 
of the nineteenth century, was now so reduced, 
that parents, as a rule, succeeded in rearing 
their families intact. 

Greater enlightenment in the methods of 
their upbringing, together with superior sani- 
tary arrangements of the domicile, no doubt 
tended largely towards effecting this change. 

Small families being the rule, instead of 
the exception, it must be admitted that with 



28 MERCIA 

a lesser number to provide for, greater care 
and comfort could be bestowed upon their 
offspring ; so that the reduction of the birth- 
rate had the effect of reducing the death-rate ; 
this fact combined with increased longevity 
of the adult, quite doubled the average of 
human life. 

The difference in dress between men and 
women was not great ; the sexes were mostly 
distinguishable by the method of dressing 
their hair. 

Men had ceased cutting their hair closely, 
for it was found that this practice materially 
injured its growth, and finally ended in making 
all the males bald before they were twenty 
years of age. 

Specialists averred that the cause of the 
trouble arose from two sources. By con- 
stantly cropping the hair an unnatural 
stimulus was imparted to its growth, which 
quickly impoverished the hair follicles, and 
so brought about their early decay. Also, 
the scalp being unduly deprived of its natural 
covering of long hair was left an easy prey to 
every germ, or fungus that chose to make its 
home there. For these reasons men decided 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 29 

to wear their hair long, and usually kept it 
from six to twelve inches in length, in curls 
about their neck, which had the effect of 
giving them a very romantic appearance. 

Women allowed their hair its full natural 
length, arranging it in coils and plaits, pretty 
much in the manner of the ancients. 

At this time there were persons with fads 
who affected high art in gastronomical matters ; 
preferring to patronise the food-chemist rather 
than the butcher and baker. Chemical food- 
stuffs for the supply of the waste of the various 
tissues of the body were arranged in pills and 
tabloids, the quantity allowed for a meal being 
printed on the label. 

This practice however, failed to meet with 
anything approaching popular favour, for 
mankind still loved too well the pleasures of 
the table to give up a good dinner for a pill. 
For who would prefer a nitrogenous tabloid 
to the delicacies of the banquet, which form 
the necessary concomitants of the soul-in- 
spiring nectars usually quaffed by the appre- 
ciative Teuton on every available occasion ? 

Indeed, to him the loss of the sensations 
of that comfort and satisfaction which follow 



30 MERCIA 

a good meal was tantamount to bidding adieu 
to the most substantial pleasure of life. 

Besides, their internal arrangements had 
something to say in the matter ; and their 
utter collapse for want of some substance to 
keep them in position proved a warning to 
the daring experimenter. 

Notwithstanding all the arguments of ad- 
vanced scientists, the food-chemists failed in 
disestablishing the old-fashioned system of 
eating and drinking. 

Moreover there were physiologists who 
declared that it was an impossibility as man 
is constituted, to sustain life by means of 
elemental substances being introduced into 
the system unless a complete reconstruction of 
the organisation could be effected. 

For the various organs that acted together, 
forming a laboratory for the change of food- 
stuffs into vital force, having no occupation 
must necessarily languish, and get out of gear 
through sheer inanition. 

Thus the revolution in animal economy 
was perforce left over for the people of a 
more advanced period to deal with. 



3* 



PART III 

The nineteenth century saw the development 
of natural science to such a gigantic extent 
that the people could only exclaim — ' It is 
like reading a fairy tale of double-distilled 
enchantment ; Aladdin's lamp is as nothing 
compared with it ! ' 

Great as was the civilisation of the 
aucients their genius had never attained to 
such heights as were reached by the scientists 
of that epoch. 

Electricity was impounded into the service 
of man, and put to every possible purpose. 

Experiment and research continued to be 
the order of the day ; and the great glow of 
enthusiasm that fired the votaries of science 
never abated until all that was possible to 
be learnt concerning the adaptations of 
electric energy were known far and wide. 
Before the dawn of the twentieth centurv 



32 MERCIA 

every country on the face of the earth was 
bound together by a network of electrical 
energy. 

Scientific knowledge had therefore made 
such vast progress all over the world, and 
the uses to which electric force could be 
applied had become so widely known that 
nations found they must settle their differences 
by some method other than warfare. 

By the use of electric lightning, as it was 
named, to distinguish it from cloud lightning, 
whole armies could be annihilated by a couple 
of electricians. And as skilful workmen of 
this class were in full force in every country, 
and at the word of command were ready to 
apply this deadly instrument of destruction 
with instantaneous effect, the powers of war- 
fare were pretty equally balanced. 

In course of time, on this account, stand- 
ing armies were abolished, for obviously, 
they were absolutely useless for the defence 
of a nation, and in their stead a supreme 
( lourt of Justice was set up, entitled The 
World's Tribunal. 

This was composed of delegates, or repre- 
sentatives from every nation, each being 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 

entitled to send two persons who were usually 
chosen from the ministry. 

It is needless to explain that such a position 
of responsibility was given only to men of 
excellent wisdom and proved ability, who had 
already won the confidence of their country. 
As a rule, the decisions of this unique Court 
were abided by, but if a judgment gave 
general dissatisfaction, then a return to an 
extremely primitive method of warfare was 
permitted, under certain modified conditions. 

A company of picked men, famous in 
athletic exercises were selected by the countries 
in dispute and pitted against each other, 
armed with electrically-charged lances, very 
short, and silvered over to give them a more 
imposing appearance. 

The object of each combatant was not to 
take life, or give serious injury to his adversary, 
but simply to temporarily paralyse his right 
arm, the combat being conducted according 
to certain stringent regulations and conditions. 

At one time females offered themselves for 
the trial, and gave good proof of their prowess 
and ability ; but this ambition did not obtain 
for long, and their desire of emulation in 

D 



34 MERCIA 

merely muscular exercises grew into disfavour; 
for woman considered it incumbent upon her 
to keep in advance of man in intellectual and 
philanthropical pursuits. 

Social history had taught her that man 
must possess an ideal for his guidance, and 
where was that to be found if not in woman ? 
It was her influence, and her example which 
had advanced him to his present high morality, 
his present plane of purity. 

Sometimes several generations would pass 
away before an occasion arose for the Great 
Test Tournament to take place, so that when 
an engagement of this kind came off, it formed, 
in truth, a world's fete. Kings and commoners 
flocked from all parts to witness this unusual 
spectacle : for the old love of combativeness 
was still dominant in the human mind, although 
mainly kept under excellent restraint. 

The opportunity therefore, of seeing such 
an important contest, the result of which 
bore such serious issues, was eagerly sought 
by all classes, in every country. Indeed, it 
was patronised to such an extent that it was 
found necessary to restrict the number of 
sightseers to one million. For it was found 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 35 

most inconvenient to entertain and provide 
accommodation for more, there being no 
room for such a heavy addition to their 
numbers in the already well-filled city. All 
cities were pretty nearly alike, in this respect, 
the world being very thickly populated. 

The Great Test Tournament formed, in 
truth, a grand and imposing spectacle. What 
an exciting scene would then present itself! 

Flying machines impelled by electric 
energy darkened the air. Sumptuous car- 
riages set in motion by the same force, and 
filled with gaily costumed men and women 
eager to witness the scene, whirled aloner 
the roads formed of cement as smooth as 
glass, and hard as adamant. 

Horsemen elegantly attired, cantered 
briskly along the side road, which was devoted 
specially to their use, for that designed for 
general purposes was too smooth for the 
equestrian. 

Horses, indeed, were trotted out more for 
display than absolute use, by the wealthy, for 
the means of locomotion was accessible to all. 

The poorest person, almost, could conve- 
niently run his own electric car ; for the expense 

D 2 



36 MERCIA 

of construction was light, and by a simple pro- 
cess of the conservation of energy the supply 
of electric force was sustained at a small cost. 

By this time the concentration and con- 
servation of solar energy was in general 
practice; usually large manufactories favoured 
its use, for the storage of the sun's rays had 
become practicable and was superseding elec- 
tricity to some extent. The ocean was no 
impediment to personal locomotion, for seas 
were skimmed over by means of electrical 
flying machines ; while ships impelled by the 
same force were used chiefly for the transport 
of cargo. 

Nevertheless, there was still a large per- 
centage of persons who preferred riding the 
wave on an electric, or solar energy impelled 
vessel, to floating through the air in a flying 
machine, for nerves were not yet out of 
fashion. 

Notwithstanding all the dreams of nine- 
teenth-century political reformers England 
had still retained its old institutions, for the 
Empire continued to be ruled by a monar- 
chical form of government diluted somewhat 
with the constitutional. So far from beinsf a 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 37 

great Eepublic by this time the tendency 
went the other way, for new conditions 
sprang up which gave the Sovereign a degree 
of absolutism which the fondest hopes of 
the Eoyalist could never have conjured up. 
By reason of marriages and intermarriages 
between the Eoyal Houses of Great Britain 
and Germany the two families became so 
intermixed that in consequence of the sudden 
death of the heir-apparent to the German 
crown, followed immediately by the death of 
the Emperor, the Sovereign of England woke 
up one morning to find himself the direct 
successor to the throne of the Fatherland. 

It happened in this way. A great war 
broke out between Germany and France in 
the year 1930, and in the midst of a fierce 
contest, where the great field pieces were 
charged with missiles which emitted volleys 
of electric lightning into the German ranks, 
a French electrician sent an electric bolt at 
the Emperor and his son, killing the younger 
royal warrior instantly, and severely injuring 
the elder. The following day the Emperor 
succumbed to his injuries, to the intense grief 
of all his subjects. 



3« MERCIA 

This coup failed to give the French nation 
the victory, but it gave the German crown to 
the Sovereign of England, who was the only 
successor. This was the last battle Europe 
ever saw ; public opinion decreed that such 
cruel slaughter should be discontinued for all 
time. As a matter of course there was much 
opposition at the outset to the Sovereign of 
another country swaying the sceptre of their 
beloved fatherland, albeit he was in reality 
more German than English. 

Long speeches were made in the Eeichstag, 
and ancient laws raked up to show its utter 
unconstitutional character. But when it was 
pointed out by their favourite minister, an old 
man full of wisdom and experience, what a 
splendid gain it would prove to their country 
in having such a powerful nation as the Eng- 
lish merged into theirs ; for united the two 
could defy the world independently of any 
alliance with other great Powers. To this unan- 
swerable argument the opposition succumbed, 
and gracefully gave way to the inevitable. 

The two countries set apart a whole week 
for national rejoicings at this glorious union 
of two great nations in a manner unparalleled 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 59 

in all history. It was poetically entitled the 
marriage of the beautiful Sea-Girt Isle with the 
strong and Ever-Enduring Fatherland. This 
euphemism took away the bitterness of the 
pill that most of the Germans were mouthing, 
for they were not altogether satisfied at seeing 
their country come under the dominance of 
another Power, albeit the ties of consanguinity 
and policy bound both together. But the 
strongest factor in producing satisfaction was 
the intense pleasure they felt in arousing the 
ire and deep indignation of the French nation, 
who saw at a glance her utter incapacity to 
cope with a rival whose dominions would now 
all but encircle her, and whose power and pos- 
sessions extended to every part of the globe. 

Thus it came to pass that Albert Felicitas, 
King of Great Britain and Ireland, and 
Emperor of India and Africa, was crowned 
Emperor of Germany, which now held the 
small sovereignties of Denmark and Sweden. 

Henceforward this great portion of Euro- 
pean territory was named The Teutonic 
Empire, which comprising the Germanic and 
British Empires united the scattered Teutons 
into one solid bodv. 



MERCIA, THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL. 

A ROMANCE. 

CHAPTER I 

Long before this period the women of England 
had become celebrated for their mental at- 
tainments, splendid physique, and exceeding 
beauty ; but chiefest of all was the lovely and 
accomplished Mercia. 

Owing to her superior attainments in 
natural science, but especially that branch 
dealing with astronomy she was appointed the 
position of Astronomer Royal to the Emperor, 
Albert Felicitas, Supreme Ruler of the Teu- 
tonic Empire. 

Mercia was acknowledged by all to be as 
beautiful as she was talented ; and the fame 
of her learning and genius was known 
throughout the Empire. 



42 MERCIA 

She was now thirty years of age, being 
still in the first bloom of womanhood ; for 
woman was not fully developed until she 
attained the age of twenty-five, as the term of 
human life was augmented. 

Man commonly reached his anticipated 
century of years ; and it was no extraordinary 
occurrence to see a hoary-haired veteran of 
one hundred and twenty-five years surrounded 
by five or six generations of descendants 
who had assembled to do him honour on his 
birthday. 

In former times Mercia would have been 
considered too tall for the ideal of womanly 
beauty, for she was five feet, ten inches, in 
height. Indeed, many women attained six 
feet in these days, but as they were perfectly 
proportioned, and graceful in movement, their 
great height gave no idea of awkwardness. 
Mercia's form was perfectly moulded, her 
limbs reminding the beholder of some chaste 
sculpture of the ancient Greeks, for her 
flowing robes partially disclosed their contour. 
Beneath the close-fitting sleeves of her tunic 
might be seen the fully developed muscles of 
her arms, which were exquisitely shaped ; the 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 43 

firm wrist was small and round, the fore arm 
tapering upwards until the well-developed 
muscle of the upper arm was reached. This 
was not unduly prominent, but was softened 
and rounded beneath the clear skin, which, 
creamy white on the inner side, disclosed a 
faint pink shade on the outer, denoting the 
presence of perfect health. Her hands were 
moderately small, but perfect in shape ; the 
fingers were long and tapered, with deep, 
filbert-shaped nails ; indicating the intellectual 
cast of mind. The palm was tinged with a 
shell pink, while the back was of transparent, 
pearly whiteness, and fine as softest satin. 

She was not brilliantly fair in completion, 
but her skin was beautifully clear ; and the 
soft roses that tinted her oval cheeks paled, 
or deepened with her varying emotions. 

Her beautiful starlike eyes were of an 
indefinable shade, being neither deep blue, nor 
brown decidedly. In the sunlight they beamed 
with a tint borrowed from the deep azure of 
the heavens just before sunset, in the shade 
they appeared a lovely, unfathomable brown. 

Her nut-brown hair was long, fine, and 
silky, showing the menial temperament by 



44 MERCIA 

its delicate texture. The head was fairly 
large, but well-shaped. The forehead, the 
seat of intellect, was high, broad, and full. 
Her e} T ebrows were well-arched, and curved 
in fair proportion ; but the space between the 
eyes was great, indicating very considerable 
development of the perceptive faculties. 

It needed no brain-specialist to discover 
at the first glance that Mercia was born to 
her profession, for her powers of observation 
and reflection were mapped upon her brow. 

Her long brown hair was arranged in 
glossy coils at the back of the head, in ancient 
classic style, showing its perfect contour ; 
while the curls near the forehead fluttering 
like flossy silk, and shimmering in the sun 
with a golden tint, softened the height of her 
broad and lofty brow. 

Her breadth of chest indicated also that 
the physical part of her training had reached 
the fullest perfection. The open collar of 
her tunic partially disclosed her neck, Juno- 
shaped, and fine as cream-white satin. 

In working hours she dressed in tunic, 
and trousers, made of dark, fine cloth, while 
her evening, or reception toilette vs r as com- 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 45 

posed of flowing robes of bright, soft silk, 
which hung in graceful folds from her shapely 
bust, and down her well-formed limbs. 

In her was seen personified modesty itself 
— not that of mere ignorance and shyness — 
but the modesty born of nobility of mind, 
wisdom, and purity. 

Mercia was devoted to her profession ; 
and so great was her enthusiasm that for fully 
six months in each year she made her obser- 
vations of the heavens all night long, snatch- 
ing only an hour or two in the daytime for 
sleep. 

She had discovered with the aid of the 
powerful instrument that Geometrus, her 
chief assistant astronomer had invented, the 
existence of a number of new planets which 
revolved around one of the principal suns, 
hitherto unknown. The largest of these planets 
she named Mercia, after herself; to its sun 
she gave the title of Geometrus, in honour of 
the man she secretly loved, but dared not own 
it, not even to herself. 

It was a law, or rather, a regulation which 
was strictly enforced that no Astronomer to 
the Emperor might marry. When a candi- 



46 MERCIA 

date for the post, which was deemed as 
honourable as that of prime minister, was 
successful, he was aware of the conditions his 
acceptance entailed. He was required to take 
a solemn oath to give up all thought of love, 
or matrimony, and devote the whole of his 
time, thought, and talent to the fulfilment of 
his duties, and the furtherance of the science 
of Astronomy, generally. 

Astronomy, and Meteorology were con- 
sidered by the nation such important branches 
of natural science, requiring in their pursuit 
so much self-denial that it was deemed an 
absolute necessity that whoever filled this 
important post should not be trammelled by 
the entanglements of love, nor ties of wedlock. 
For it was considered the uxoriousness of an 
affectionate husband, or wife, would while 
away the hours which otherwise would have 
been devoted to his, or her duties, these en- 
tailing long and severe rounds of night watch- 
ings. 

It is true Mercia possessed the power to 
give up her post and marry ; but to break 
the solemn oath she had given her Sovereign 
and country, to her pure and honourable 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 47 

mind appeared monstrous. Besides, such 
a course would have been attended with 
serious consequences, for to a certainty 
almost, Geometrus would be requested to 
resign his position, and thus both would lose, 
not only lucrative and honourable appoint- 
ments, but employment which each enthusias- 
tically loved for its own sake. 

Geometrus was a tall, well-formed man of 
about thirty-five years ; he stood in his soft- 
leather shoes, which were formed exactly to 
the shape of the foot, at least six feet, two 
inches. 

His complexion was somewhat similar to 
that of Mercia, for his hair and whiskers were 
of a bright brown ; his eyes were dark and 
deep set : his nose was large and straight, but 
that was the prevailing characteristic of this 
time ; for the nose being indicative of charac- 
ter, developed greatly, keeping pace with the 
growth of brain-power of which it is the 
sign, and outward index. 

The mouth was firm, the lips being com- 
pressed, while the chin was prominent and 
broad. 

In his face the brain specialist could easily 



4 8 MERC1A 

read his character, and judge correctly his 
special turn of mind. 

Although he possessed, to some extent, 
the same powers of observation, reflection, 
and calculation as Mercia, still, his most 
prominent faculty was mechanics. In con- 
sequence of the excellent training he had 
received at the public schools of Astronomy, 
the bent of his genius was turned in this 
direction. 

For this reason he made an admirable 
assistant to the Chief Astronomer, in so much, 
that he was always constructing wonderful 
instruments set with peculiarly formed lenses 
of his own invention, by means of which 
Mercia prosecuted with greater success her 
astronomical observations. 

In truth, the two were made for each 
other ; not only as co-workers, but also in 
disposition ; for where there was a tendency 
towards an excess of fiery energy on the one 
side, it was met with the calm serenity of 
strict discipline on the other. 

Mercia was of calm and even tempera- 
ment, being wonderfully patient and enduring : 
the sweetness of her disposition was seldom 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 49 

ruffled, even under the most trying circum- 
stances. Although mild in manner, and in 
speech, nevertheless she was by no means 
apathetic or easy going, for her life was one 
constant round of industry. 

This rare combination of calmness and 
energy had been transmitted to her by her 
mother, a lady of great learning and talent, 
who filled the appointment of Chief Inspector 
of Public Schools under Government. 

This lady realising fully the immense re- 
sponsibility she was about to undertake when 
becoming a mother, took all the precautions, 
both physical and mental, to ensure having 
for her offspring as perfect a human being as 
was possible to obtain. 

The effect of this regime on the part of 
the mother, benefited herself equally as her 
offspring ; for when the hour of accouchement 
arrived the pains of child-birth were so light, 
and every muscle and organ of her body in 
such perfect condition, that in the space of a 
week she was fully restored and able to re- 
sume her social, household, or profession al 
duties, as if nothing had happened. 

There was no suckling of infants in these 

E 



5o MERCIA 

■ lavs, except by the very lowest orders ; 
women having by degrees lost that property 
for some considerable time. As far back as 
the close of tin* nineteenth century this power 
had commenced to fail them. 

Either through weakness engendered by 
much child-bearing, or the demands of society 
upon the time of the women belonging to the 
upper and middle classes, the habit of arti- 
licial suckling was resorted to, and eventually 
adopted by all classes about that period, with 
the result that in course of time Xature alto- 
gether refused to give any supply; for she 
ever accommodates herself to the conditions 
under which she is placed. 

Thus it came to pass that the mother was 
equally free as the father in the matter of 
nursing, if she elected so to be ; all the same, 
the child was still most carefully and skilfully 
tended. 

The post of nurse was only filled by fully- 
trained, certificated women, who thoroughly 
understood the management of children, and 
who were competent to take them through 
any sickness without a doctor's assistance. 

By this time the English language had 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 51 

gained considerably by the introduction of 
words from all nations, who on their side 
returned the compliment by making it a 
speciality in their public schools, for English 
was the commercial language of the whole 
world. 

But it became more than a commercial 
language to the Germans, for they dropping 
their own tongue with its uncouth gutturals, 
adopted the English, which was essentially 
their own, cultivated and enlarged, and made 
more musical. 

Moreover another change was effected. 

The ancient and primitive style was re- 
verted to in the matter of the personal pro- 
noun ; for the substitution of the plural 
' you ' for its singular ' thou ' was considered 
ungrammatical, and therefore its use was 
deemed improper to continue. 

This departure was imitated by the French 
who had been the original authors of the 
anomaly in the early centuries. However, 
among the lower orders, and in the fireside 
parlance the plural number was frequently 
retained. 

At this period the Emperor Albert Feli- 

B 2 



52 MERC . 

citaa reigned most peacefully over the Teutonic 
Empire. He possessed a palace in each capi- 
tal, dividing his time among his various king- 
doms with strict impartiality : not that it 
mattered much where he resided, as the 
means of locomotion had arrived at such per- 
fection that a few hours' journey sufficed to 
bring him to any part of his European Empire. 

He wintered in Berlin in order to take 
advantage of the fine frosts, and enjoy the 
exercise of sleighing. He summered in ro- 
mantic Norway and Sweden ; utilising the 
early spring months in travelling through his 
Eastern and African Empires alternately, and 
spent the beautiful autumn in England. 

In his European dominions each country 
retained its House of Parliament, which 
possessed powers to make laws dealing with 
domestic politics only ; these being after- 
wards sanctioned by the Emperor and his 
Cabinet. This was formed of four ministers. 
of each nationality, who were elected by 
their country every seven years. 

But a cloud was hanging over the fair 
horizon "1' this happy Empire ; a deep dispute 
had been growing for upwards of a century 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 53 

between India and her rulers, formerly the 
British, but now the Teutonic Empire. 

Western civilisation, or rather Western 
ideas, and education had brought the natives 
of the Eastern Empire to such a degree of 
culture and enlightenment that the subju- 
gated ones realised that they had become the 
equal of their masters long before the dawn 
of the twenty-first century. 

In point of fact, the close of the nineteentli 
century saw India supplied, not only with 
elementary schools, but ' High Schools,' and 
colleges of the first order, where the subjects 
taught met every want. They consisted of 
civil engineering, mathematics, experimental 
physics, mining, metallurgy, chemistry, archi- 
tecture, forestry, farming, veterinary surgery, 
&c. In the College of Science, Poona, at 
this period all the foregoing subjects were 
taken. There was a farm of 150 acres in 
connection with this college which had been 
transferred by Government to the Agricultural 
Department ; there were also a veterinary 
hospital where lectures were delivered ; 
mechanical, physical and chemical labora- 
tories, workshops, and foundries. A more 



54 MERCIA 

complete arrangement for the training of 
young India could not have been devised. 
Here students of various nationalities, but 
chielly Hindoos, studied and worked with the 
greatest enthusiasm. 

Thus for a considerable period the natives 
had been availing themselves of the means of 
education afforded them so benevolently by 
the English Government, whose motto was 
' Educate your subjects and they will better 
obey you ; ' whereas it should have been — 
' Educate your servants and you make them 
your equals ; ' for knowledge gives power, or 
to define it more accurately in this case, 
knowledge gave insight, and discovered to 
its votaries the glories and delights of an 
enlightened liberty. 

Notwithstanding the hindrances caused 
by religious superstitions they made excel- 
lent progress ; gradually emerging from the 
shackles of their ancient beliefs which acted 
as chains to keep them in the slavery of 
ignorance, they eventually became almost the 
equal of their rulers in manufactures, art, 
science, and literature. 

Under these conditions they had become 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 55 

a powerful people, and consequently were 
greatly dissatisfied with their position of 
dependence. 

There had long been a growing feeling of 
dislike to the government of their country 
being consigned to the charge of a mere 
representative of the Teutonic Empire. 

They considered that the time had arrived 
that such a vast and important Empire as 
theirs should be ruled by one supreme 
monarch, whose Court would suitably repre- 
sent their country's wealth, power, and in- 
telligence. 

Once in the enjoyment of a Monarchical 
Government, tempered by the restrictions of 
a Constitutional, they felt they would be no 
longer handicapped as they had hitherto 
found themselves, for native gentlemen who 
had benefited their country to a marked 
degree, as well as men of acknowledged 
ability and genius, had, with rare exceptions, 
no titled honours conferred upon them as 
tokens of recognition of their worth. This 
omission they assigned to the jealousy of 
their rulers, coupled with their overweening 
opinion of Western superiority. 



56 MERCIA 

Thus to this very sensitive people it be- 
aiiie a crying calamity that they had no 
Court of their own wherein they could create 
dukes, lords, and baronets ad lib. and set up a 
nobility and monarchy on their own account; 
on the same lines of government favoured by 
their Teutonic rulers. 

Although India was universal in its desire 
for ' Home Government,' nevertheless, there 
were two great political parties in the country ; 
one was conservative and desired a Monar- 
chical, the other preferred a democratic or 
Republican form of government. 

Of course the Press was the expression of 
these opinions, which the English and Ger- 
mans eagerly perused, so that whenever a 
petition arrived at the Teutonic Court praying 
for freedom these opposing opinions were 
brought forward as an excuse for refusing 
their request. 

' Why ask for powers of self-government ' 
they retorted, ' when you are unable to agree 
upon what form it shall take ? You are 
happier and better as you are for you know 
not how to govern yourselves; you are our 
children ; we have educated you, and brought 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 57 

you up, as it were ; why desire to leave the 
parental control when it is only exercised for 
your good ? ' 

But the oppressed ones did not see it : 
they felt that they were only step-children, 
who were kept out of the benefits accorded 
the offspring of their rulers ; for all posts 
of honour and handsome remuneration had 
long been taken up by the overflowings of 
aristocratic Germanic and English families. 

Even when in positions where natives were 
permitted the privilege of filling alongside 
the Englishman, as far back as the nineteenth 
century and upwards, natives were not re- 
munerated with anything approaching the 
same rate of income as their more favoured 
colleagues ; although performing identical 
duties in the hospitals. 

A reliable historian of the nineteenth cen- 
tury in treating this subject says : — ' One seri- 
ous obstacle in the way of increasing the 
supply of medical men, (natives) seems to me 
the unfair and invidious difference made in 
the remuneration of native as compared with 
English professional men employed in our 
service, and the same it may be added, applies 



53 MERC I A 

to legal, and other departments of the State. 
Take Delhi, for example, where the civil 
surgeon, a military man, is paid 1,150 rupees 
per month, whilst his two native assistants 
receive only 150 each. In Lahore the Eng- 
lish civil surgeon gets 1,050 rupees, the 
native assistants 150 each. Indeed, through- 
out India the proportion is everywhere as 
seven or eight for the English, to one for the 
native official.' 

Is it to be wondered at that the dissatis- 
faction felt at the ' plums ' being everywhere 
reserved for the British should begin to find 
utterance in the native Press, and in the 
National Congress? 

So far as the medical department is con- 
cerned it cannot possibly be urged, as it is in 
the legal administration, that the moral quali- 
ties which are requisite demand a greatly 
increased scale of remuneration for the 
Englishman. If the services of an English 
civil surgeon be worth 1,380/. per annum, 
surely those of his chief assistants, if they be 
of any value whatever, must be rated low at 
180/., no matter to what nationality they 
belong. 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 59 

This does not apply, however, to the 
medical colleges and schools. For example, 
at the Campbell Medical School and Hospital, 
Calcutta, the superintendent, and English 
surgeon-major receive 550 rupees per month; 
and there are eight professors and demon- 
strators, all natives, most of whom get from 
300 to 350 rupees, and a number of native 
assistants who receive 100 to 150 rupees. 

' Can anything prove more conclusively 
that it is not the incapacity of the natives, 
but favouritism of the dominant race which 
awards disproportionately high salaries to the 
English officials ? ' 

' Similar inequalities existed in most of 
the departments of the State, which were of 
vital importance to the political relations of 
the governors and the governed.' 

Such were the outspoken sentiments of an 
Englishman whose high attainments and wide 
experience of Indian administration made his 
utterances worthy of the deepest considera- 
tion. 

Side by side with Western culture grew the 
desire to imitate the Western system of home 
government. The initiatory movement in this 



60 MERCIA 

direction took the form of an infant 'National 
Congress ' which had its birth in the year of 
grace 1885, at Bombay, ' where seventy-two 
native gentlemen from all parts of India met 
together.' There were representatives from 
Karachi, Surat, Poona, Calcutta, Agra, 
Benares, Lucknow, Lahore, Allahabad, Ah- 
medabad, Bombay, Madras, Tanjore, and 
several other important places in India. 
Thus was constituted the nucleus of a greater 
and more important organisation, which ulti- 
mately developed with the growth of Western 
culture, for every educated Hindoo was as 
well acquainted with the social and political 
history of Great Britain and Ireland as any 
Englishman could possibly be. At this first 
Congress ' they spent three days in the dis- 
cussion of questions affecting the interests of 
the native community, and in passing resolu- 
tions thereon.' The first resolution, which 
was supported by gentlemen of unquestioned 
standing, asked for a fulfilment of the ' pro- 
mised inquiry' into the 'working of Indian 
administration, and suggested the appoint- 
ment of a Eoyal Commission, the people of 
India being adequately represented thereon, 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 61 

and evidence taken both in India and Eng- 
land.' 

' An expansion of the supreme and local 
legislative councils by the admission of a 
considerable number of elected members,' 
was another reform which was considered 
essential. 

' Indirectly,' said the first report, ' this 
Conference will form the germ of a native 
parliament, and if properly conducted will 
constitute in a few years an unanswerable 
reply to the assertion that India is still 
wholly unfit for any form of representative 
institutions.' 

The answer to these aspirations and 
desires on the part of the educated natives 
given by the governing classes in India prac- 
tically were — 'That the only government 
possible for India both in the interest of the 
British as well as of the natives, and as a 
protection against Russia, is a despotism.' 

'That any concessions to native opinion 
will interfere with that despotism.' 

' That the authority and domination of the 
officials must not be interfered with.' 

'That if such concessions are made tliev 



62 MERC1A 

will only serve as an opening for further 
demands, the object being ultimately to over- 
throw the Government, and that the leading 
natives have that end in view.' 

The prophets were correct : one hundred 
years later saw India with a fully fledged 
Parliament, enacting laws for her own govern- 
ment and finishing by demanding full control 
of Imperial politics, till finally the control of 
the conqueror, however mild, was sought to 
be banished completely. 

There were those who were foolish enough 
to hint at extinguishing the Viceroy and all 
his court by means of electric lightning, but 
that course woidd have been idiotic in the 
extreme, for their rulers in turn could have 
annihilated the whole nation by the same 
process, so that to endeavour to settle the 
question by main force was simply impossible. 
Their grievance had by this time attained 
such magnitude that an immense requisition 
signed by millions of the inhabitants, or 
rather the natives, of India, was sent to the 
Worlds Tribunal for consideration. 

What a tumult this action put the whole 
world into ! Thousands of books and pam- 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 63 

phlets were issued on the subject in every 
country. Throughout the globe newspapers 
and monthly journals eagerly discussed the 
question in their columns, and took sides 
according to their trade or political relation- 
ships with the countries in dispute, for self 
ever predominates in the decisions of nations 
as in those of individuals. 

Notwithstanding all this literary energy 
the ' Supreme Law of Nations ' took its course. 
Delegates from every Government were sum- 
moned to appear on May 1 in the year 2002 to 
consider the secession of the Indian, from the 
control of the Teutonic Empire, and all the 
world wondered how it would end. 

In due course a sub-committee was formed 
from the delegates with powers to choose the 
place in which the World's Tribunal should 
be held. It was finally decided that Paris 
should be thus exalted, for this charming city 
still held its own in the representation of the 
science and art of the world. 

The Chamber of Deputies for this un- 
paralleled occasion was newly-decorated with 
the greatest lavishness. Exquisitely up- 
holstered chairs, resembling thrones in their 



64 MERCIA 

sumptuousness were provided for the occasion. 
The walls of the chief chamber in which the 
Court was to be held were beautifully de- 
corated and made to appear like fine ivory, 
set in square slabs edged with gold : on each 
of the squares paintings of exquisite work- 
manship relieved the coldness of the pure 
cream-coloured ivory ground, while silken 
draperies skilfully embroidered with gold, in 
richest designs hung in graceful folds from 
windows and doorways. On the wall imme- 
diately behind the President's chair were 
suspended valuable paintings, the frames of 
which were composed of solid gold, whose 
corners were set with gems of great value. 

Although much was done to please the 
eye in this temple of luxury, nevertheless, 
there was naught provided to tempt the 
palate. 

The imagination of the ministers might 
revel in richest surroundings, but only the 
plainest fare was provided in the anterooms 
ibr their entertainment. 

With these regulations, we may be sure, 
that the matter under consideration was not 
drawn out undulv, for who would remain in 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 65 

a place where the pleasures of the table were 
so scantily considered ? No time being lost 
in gastronomical or bibulous gratifications the 
delegates were enabled to bestow assiduous 
attention upon their duties, and listened care- 
fully to the charges brought by the Easterners 
against their governors. 

They denounced emphatically the system 
of vice-government which was rife with 
abuses, and explained that from the very 
commencement they regarded this foreign 
intrusion as a degradation to their nation. 
They pointed out that they were an ancient 
people, possessing all the prestige of ages of 
civilisation, who could not forget the glories 
of bygone centuries ; for thousands of years 
they had been governed by their own rulers, 
in true Eastern magnificence ; at a period so 
remote that their present rulers were then 
mere barbarians, unknown to the civilised 
world. With such a past as theirs ; their 
country possessing such classic associations, 
standing proofs of which they had everywhere : 
in the perfect architecture ; in their ancient 
literature, all of which reminded them oi 
their former prestige and splendour. The 



66 MERCIA 

time had arrived that they could no longer 
ignore the duty that lay before them, namely. 
to demand the restoration of their natural 
rights which had been filched away from 
them by fraud and deceit without their con- 
sent or desire. ' Yes ! ' continued the speaker, 
' every inch of our territory has been sur- 
veyed and measured by the foreign intruder, 
and the products of our labour taxed heavily 
to uphold in luxury the children of the in- 
vader.' 

It was the chief minister, Sir John Pun- 
jaub a leading Hindoo, who made this daring 
speech. He 1 was a man advanced in years 
and full of learning, with ever so many letters 
after his name, indicating his membership of 
various scientific societies in England, Ger- 
many and India. 

His countrymen adored him, for he had 
expended his vast wealth for their betterment, 
by the establishment of various philanthropic 
and educational institutions: but they loved 
him chiefest of all for his active enthusiasm 
in the promotion of their country's political 
welfare, and his kindly and ready sympathy 
in private life. 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 67 

It was said of him that never in his life 
had he turned away from a tale of woe ; 
' Better,' he would say, ' give ten times to the 
unworthy, than once turn a deaf ear to the 
needy.' 

The struggling youth who found the world 
too much for him in his first start in life 
would take heart of hope and whisper to 
himself — ' I will go to Sir John, he will tell 
me what to do, and how I am to gain my 
goal : he sends no one away, he gives comfort 
and information ; and if need be, funds to the 
honest worker who seeks his aid.' 

Thus like the god of day, this dear old 
man imparted life and joy, and blessings 
wherever his influence reached, and the 
people in return reverenced and loved him 
greatly. 

In the Eastern St. Stephen's he held the 
position of Prime Minister, and as a matter of 
course, upon him devolved the duty of stating 
the case of the Indian Empire before the 
World's Tribunal. 

He spoke in English of the purest diction, 
and pronunciation as perfect as that of a 



68 MERCIA 

polished Englishman ; his great experience as 
a politician, his gift of eloquence and his 
profound wisdom, all combined to make him 
a unique interpreter of the feeling of India at 
this vitally important crisis. 

The delegates listened in wrapt attention 
to every argument brought forward, giving 
assiduous attention to their duties throughout, 
and making notes of every point of any 
importance, on either side, all being done 
without the smallest loss of time. The result 
of such industry was that in fourteen days 
the whole of the evidence was gone through, 
after which the members of the Tribunal made 
their speeches, expressing their opinions upon 
the various points of the case in a clear and 
succinct manner. 

This refraining from flowery oratory 
proved a capital saver of time, and brought 
the matter to a close much earlier than if 
all had disported themselves in high-flown 
rhetoric, or windy word-making. 

By this time the expression of language 
had attained such perfection ; or rather, the 
gift of eloquence had become so general that 
almost everybody was able to express him- 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 69 

self in well-chosen language with little or no 
preparation. 

The result of this tongue-culture was a 
disfavour towards unnecessarily drawn out 
speeches. Indeed, the rule adopted mostly 
by legislative and other assemblies was timed 
speeches, generally from thirty to sixty 
minutes' duration ; but very rarely was this 
latter period taken except in cases of extra- 
ordinary importance. 

It would astonish a nineteenth-century 
parliamentarian if he could have heard a 
thirty minutes' speech at this time. Every 
sentence uttered expressed a thought ; not a 
superfluous word was used throughout; yet 
every idea was enunciated fully and perfectly, 
for it was concentrated thought projected in 
concentrated language. 

For several previous generations this 
power of precis had been put in general 
practice. Both parents and teachers making 
it a point to impress upon children the vul- 
garity of verbosity ; both in writing and 
speaking an artistic method was inculcated 
that expressed every shade of thought in the 
least possible number of words. 



7 o MERC I A 

Each day's proceedings at the World's 
Tribunal was known in every country upon 
the same day. In a couple of hours from the 
close of the chamber, the speeches appeared 
word for word, in the leading newspapers of 
every country, including the most distant 
parts of Africa. 

Although eagerly perused by all, the con- 
tents were exceptionally interesting to India. 
Millions of dark eyes daily scanned the 
pages that brought them hope and fear 
alternately. 

At length the day arrived upon which the 
decision was to be formally announced — it 
was the twenty-eighth from the commence- 
ment. Alas, the bright hopes of this gentle 
people were cruelly blasted, for the verdict 
of the Great Tribunal, was against them. 

At first overwhelmed with disappointment 
they were perfectly paralysed. A deep, dead 
silence reigned amidst that vast concourse of 
people while it was being read out to them ; 
for both high and low had assembled in 
immense crowds in some open space of each 
great city of India. This was followed by a 
sudden and furious anger that burst from the 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 71 

heart of the multitude and found vent in the 
loud cries of — ' A trial by combat ! A trial 
by combat ! ' 

The same day the Indian Press declared 
that the decision was unjust to a degree, nay, 
iniquitous ; and the people of India should 
refuse to accept it. Immediately America 
took up the strain and declared she had never 
approved of it, but having been in the minority 
when put to the vote their opinion had gone 
for nothing. 

Then Eussia had another word to say in 
the matter, and encouraged America, until 
eventually it was conceded that India should 
be accorded the benefit of the final test, 
and the great question decided by personal 
prowess. 

To this arrangement the Teutonic Empire 
made no objection, for the natural confidence 
and conceit of the English caused them to 
regard with disdain an engagement where 
physical strength gave the victory. 

Thus the most primitive method of settling 
a dispute was resorted to, when the verdict of 
experienced politicians failed. Muscle-power 
was to prevail over mental even with the 



72 MERC I A 

highly cultured people of this advanced 
period. The fact was, that however well- 
intentioned a conclave of politicians at the 
outset might be, there are so many influences 
at work, and so many international interests 
to consider, that to mete out justice with a 
Solomon-like impartiality proved more 'than 
human nature was capable of. 



73 



CHAPTER II 

THE BATTLE 

Now, as stated previously, the method of 
combat was entirely different from any prac- 
tised in previous times, for the antagonist's 
life was not sought in any case, but disable- 
ment only. Victory was secured by rendering 
useless the right arm of the foe by giving it 
a blow with a short lance, or instrument elec- 
trically charged. 

The peculiarity of this weapon was that it 
did not give an electric shock sufficient to 
kill a man, its effect being merely to paralyse 
the part it touched, and as the rule was to 
strike only at the right arm, no greater injury 
than the paralysis of that limb could take 
place. 

Occasionally it happened that the arm 
was permanently paralysed ; but mostly, only 



74 MERCIA 

temporarily disabled, for clever electro phy- 
sicians could commonly restore the limb by 
cunning administration of counter shocks 
which occasionally required several weeks, 
and even months, to effect a thorough cure. 

Quack doctors had an evil time of it in 
these days ; if any one took upon himself to 
publicly prescribe, or vend medicines without 
having obtained a proper diploma, he was 
arraigned and condemned to hard labour for a 
term of years. The employment he was put 
to usually consisted of the construction of 
public works, or something strictly useful, and 
sufficiently profitable to cover the expenses of 
his detention. 

This too, was the reign of the specialist. In 
every trade, or profession such perfect know- 
ledge was requisite that it was customary to 
take up but one branch and adhere to it solely. 

For instance, a person with a nervous 
complaint would not dream of consulting a 
surgeon ; the bone-setter never interfered with 
the fever patient ; nor the aurist with the 
oculist ; the child-doctor and accoucheuse 
kept strictly to her own department, except 
in rural districts, where there would not have 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 75 

been sufficient employment for each branch of 
medicine to be represented. 

The solicitor never appeared in a police 
case ; for another branch of the profession 
called ' petty pleaders,' conducted these, the 
study of which possessed its own separate 
course, and examinations. The food-chemist's 
diploma was not identical with that of the 
ordinary pharmaceutical chemist ; indeed, all 
the various branches of chemistry of which 
there was a great number, were separately 
chosen and studied with one definite end in 
view, everyone keeping to one thing, and doing 
that perfectly. 

The country in which the contest should 
take place was decided by lot. The question 
was — India or England. And the lot fell on 
England. But it was indeed a difficult matter 
to discover a place sufficiently great in this 
thickly populated country which would be 
suitable for this immense tournament. Even- 
tually, a space of sufficient area was fixed 
upon, which consisted of a number of fields of 
sweet-smelling flowers that were being culti- 
vated for the manufacture of perfumes ; for 
the wealthy still affected the natural perfume 



76 MERCIA 

of distilled flowers, to the manufactured odours 
of the perfume -chemist. 

These meadows formed a space of about 
two hundred acres, and being only a hundred 
miles from the metropolis proved most con- 
venient for the purpose. 

For several weeks previous to the day a 
large number of carpenters and upholsterers 
were busily engaged making the necessary 
preparations. 

Tiers of seats to accommodate some thou- 
sands of persons were reared all round the 
field of combat, covered with crimson and gold 
cloth ; while overhead were awnings of glit- 
tering silk composed of the finest drawn 
threads of glass, which shone brilliantly in the 
summer's sun. Indeed, robes of silk formed 
of this material were common enough, for 
the cocoon of the silkworm was insuffi- 
cient to meet the demand for this favourite 
fabric. 

But the throne, or seat of the Sovereign 
outshone all in magnificence. It was formed 
of beautifully carved coromandel wood, the 
natural markings of which presented the 
appearance of myriads of heads in countless 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 77 

variety of form. Therein could be seen the 
human face in every style of shape and ex- 
pression ; together with the heads of animals 
of every description. 

This beautifully marked wood was relieved 
by inlayings of ivory, edged with gold. 

The awning overhead which protected the 
monarch and his suite from the heat of the noon- 
day sun, or summer's shower, was also made of 
glass silk, the colours of which were artfully 
blended to represent the brilliant hues of the 
rainbow. 

The dais arranged for the accommodation 
uf the umpires was also handsomely decorated ; 
and when the field was filled with the richly- 
dressed knights of the silver lance, mounted 
on graceful steeds of surpassing elegance 
of form, it looked, indeed, like fairyland 
itself. 

And now, behold, the day and hour have 
arrived for the great tournament, which has 
to decide the fate of the two contending Em- 
pires. Five hundred mounted, and an equal 
number of unmounted warriors on either side 
take their allotted positions, each armed with 
what appears to be a glittering silver lance, 



78 MERC I A 

but is in reality an electrically-charged weapon 
whose only mission is to paralyse one parti- 
cular limb of the adversary. 

Dressed in crimson tunic, and steel-grey 
breeches, which displayed the well-formed 
proportions of the lower limbs, the lines of 
English combatants presented a most imposing- 
appearance. Five hundred horsemen bril- 
liantly attired, with silver helmets glittering 
in the sunshine, and mounted on well-trained 
steeds, awaited the signal to commence, while 
the same number of athletes on foot stood with 
eager looks in perfect readiness also. 

The Indian athletes formed also a glitter- 
ing galaxy of imposing splendour. Attired 
throughout in white and gold, their dark com- 
plexions set off by cream and gold helmets 
which shone bravely in the sunshine, they 
looked, indeed worthy antagonists for the bold 
and hardy Northerner. With lances drawn 
the combatants at the given signal now rush 
towards each other. Every man singles out 
his adversary, when a masterly piece of parry- 
ing takes place. With great skill and display 
of well- trained muscle-power the Eastern par- 
ries the Northern's stroke, which is unlike all 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 79 

hitherto known, it being allowable only on 
the right arm. If in the heat of battle an 
athlete should inadvertently hit his adversary 
in a vital part, and thereby cause his death, 
the unlucky contestant must himself pay a 
heavy money penalty to the family of the 
slaughtered man : this rule acted most bene- 
ficially, and formed on the whole a very safe 
life-insurance for each combatant. 

The richly decorated galleries surrounding 
the scene of action are now filled with the 
elite of the whole world. Emperors, kings, 
czars, princes, and potentates of high position 
accompanied by their ladies beautifully attired 
make a tout ensemble that once beheld could 
never be forgotten. 

Such a variety too, of costume as was 
never before seen grouped together, dazzled 
the beholder ; for the Eastern style differed 
from the West as greatly at this time as in 
any previous period, but in a contrary way. 
During the lapse of many generations the 
Eastern had been gradually adopting the 
Parisian or Western mode of aress ; and the 
Western the^ flowing Eastern robes, until by 
this time the two modes were reversed ; or, 



8o MERCIA 

at least as much as our northerly climate 
would admit. 

Thus it came to pass that a fair-haired 
English maiden would be attired in a flowing 
yellow silk robe, confined at the waist by a 
golden girdle, and at her side her mother 
stood draped in rich velvet that hung in 
graceful, flowing ripples from her shoulders ; 
while the native of Turkey rejoiced in a tight- 
fitting bodice, with skirt beflounced and be- 
frilled in nineteenth-century Western style. 

By this time the emancipation of Turkish 
women from their conventional imprisonment 
had taken place to their intense satisfaction. 
It was a long and hard battle this struggle for 
independence, and natural freedom, and was 
only gained eventually through the inter- 
vention of the chief women of the Teutonic 
Empire. 

These were composed of lady members of 
Parliament together with the wives of the 
peers and nobles who in one great body went 
to the various potentates who had sliced up 
the country amongst them, to beseech them to 
advocate personal liberty to the female sex, 
in whatever degree or position in society they 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 8,1 

moved, and further exhorted them to use 
their influence with the people generally, to 
bring about this necessary reformation. 

So the French, Russian, and Teutonic Em- 
pires graciously complied with the request of 
the fair delegates, and what is more, kept 
their royal promise to the best of their ability. 

This was accomplished in part by the 
issuing of edicts to the people, who were first 
set the good example by the nobles whose 
interest it was to co-operate with their con- 
querors, or rulers : thus by degrees the women 
of the Teutonic race accomplished the eman- 
cipation of their sex in the lazy and luxurious 
East. 

Never before was seen such a dazzling 
pageant as that viewed from the flying- 
machines which hung suspended in the air 
immediately above the scene of action. Seated 
in these aerial carriages their occupants could 
not fail to enjoy themselves, for they possessed 
the advantage of freedom to eat, drink and be 
merry, while they watched the fortunes of war 
as they developed in the field below without 
being hampered by conventionalities, or incon- 
venient onlookers. 

G 



82 MERCIA 

At one moment they would see the Eng- 
lishman parry the stroke of the Indian who 
was making a furious attack on his adversary. 
The Indian was indeed, struggling for dear 
liberty, and under this inspiration his natu- 
rally calm and placid countenance, whose 
expression betokened his gentle disposition, 
was fired with an enthusiasm that only a 
mighty occasion could call forth. 

Ages of submission had given him a dis- 
position to yield, for heredity is all-power- 
ful, nevertheless, he fought against his nature, 
as it were, in order to obtain the benefits of 
that glorious liberty, of which the Briton 
himself boasted so constantly. 

With this high resolve before his eyes, he 
set aside his natural instincts, and becoming 
another man, excelled himself, and fought the 
foeman bravely. 

Thrust and parry ; thrust and parry, went 
on for hours, until at last the sun was sinking 
in the horizon, and still the contest hung in 
even balance. Scores of men fell from the 
ranks on either side with one arm hanging 
helplessly at their side, while physicians with 
galvanic batteries stood in their tents outside 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 83 

the enclosure ready to render them needful 
service. 

Time was up at six o'clock, and not too 
soon, for fighting had commenced at ten 
o'clock in the morning, and all were ready to 
drop with fatigue. Then the signal was given 
to cease, when the whole, or uninjured men 
were counted on each side ; and to the intense 
disgust of the English who were ever proud 
of their prowess, and the great and exceeding 
joy of the unhappy Eastern the latter had 
won by just three men. Thus the patient and 
persevering Eastern worsted for once the bold 
and hardy Northerner. Then a ringing cheer 
burst forth from the thousand Indian athletes, 
and their friends ; which was caught up by 
the people suspended above, filling the whole 
air with its shout of glad triumph. After 
all, Eight had overcome Might in this great 
struggle, which finally settled the dispute of 
many generations. 

Among the two thousand contestants only 
twelve casualties occurred ; in other words, 
twelve men lost their lives in the encounter. 
Of these seven were Hindus ; but they died 
in a glorious cause and their names were 

g2 



84 MERC1A 

handed down to posterity by the erection of 
a splendid malachite column on which was 
inscribed their names and a graceful tribute 
of their countrymen's gratitude in verse. 
This was composed by their beloved minister, 
whose splendid appeal at the Great Tribunal 
had failed to move the hearts of their judges ; 
but the little verse, noble in its simplicity and 
tender pathos, brought the unconscious tear 
to the eyes, not only of the admiring Native, 
but also to the Briton himself, who no longer 
grudged the Eastern his well-deserved victory. 



85 



CHAPTER III 

' Of queenly mien, of loveliest form, and eyes 
Like gems set in translucent skies. 
And all the beauty of the Court was dimmed 
By fair Igerna : to Uther's eyes she seemed 
To stand a peerless pearl ; a diamond divine ; 
Beyond all price, and fitted most to shine 
In kingly coronet of the great on earth, 
A prizeful jewel of unbounded worth. 
.... All women she outvies 
In every gentle grace. Her voice now thrilled 
With soft delight his ravished ears, and filled 
His listening soul with music's harmony, 
Sweet as the rippling water's melody.' 

Idylls, Legends and Lyrics. 

The Royal Observatory was a stately building 
of great height erected close to the old build- 
ing in Greenwich Park, which latter was kept 
as a show place, and used also as a lecture 
hall for students of Astronomy. The lower 
apartments of the new building were occupied 
byMercia and her household, while the upper 
rooms were devoted to the purposes of her 
profession. A suite of rooms on the left wing 



86 MERCIA 

were set apart as workshops for Geometrus, 
whose spare time was always taken up with 
planning or perfecting some wonderful astro- 
nomical instrument more powerful than the 
world had hitherto seen. 

In a spacious apartment on the third floor 
which contained two powerful telescopes, con- 
structed on principles of entirely modern 
invention, being capable of revealing the 
distant suns to an extent never before dreamt 
of, was Mercia surrounded by curious astro- 
scopes, stellar-spectroscopes, and wonderfully 
constructed cameras, which delineated in an 
instant the starry heights, the glory of which 
has been the ambition of astronomers in all 
ages to fathom. 

She was seated at her desk making some 
mathematical calculations of the celestial 
depths, and was so completely engrossed in 
her labours that the entrance of her fellow- 
worker, Geometrus, went unheeded. At 
length, coming to a close, she raised her head, 
when instantly a flush of pleasure brought 
the rose more vividly into her cheeks. 

' Ah, Geometrus, is it thou ? ' she ex- 
claimed, ' I have finished the measurement of 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 87 

thy namesake, the fixed star, and am happy 
at last. His system of planets are now all 
perfect before me : I must write a treatise on 
this new addition to science so that posterity 
may know what we have attained.' 

' Why use the word " we," my mistress,' 
replied the young man, ' it is thou alone who 
hast done the work ? ' 

1 It is true that I have made the observa- 
tions and calculations, Geometrus, but it was 
thy cunning which formed the instrument. 
Take thy due, my friend, and be not over 
modest ; some base imitator may some day 
defraud thee of thine invention, unless thou 
wilt consent to acknowledge it openly.' 

' I would that I might acknowledge openly 
the one deep thought of my heart,' he an- 
swered with a sigh as he turned to leave the 
apartment. 

' Stay a little while, Geometrus, I would 
have some converse with thee. I am buried 
so deeply in my work that I know not how 
the world is wagging. What about the great 
dispute that is coming before the World's 
Tribunal ? Is it a righteous cause this of the 
Eastern, thinkest thou ? ' 



S8 MERCIA 

* Nay, mistress, that is not for me to settle : 
judge for thyself. India desires to regain her 
ancient freedom. The Government reins of 
the foreigner however lightly held, gall her. 
She does not deny having received great 
benefits from the invader, as great as the 
Romans conferred upon the early Britons : 
nevertheless, she would prefer a measure of 
mismanagement under a native ruler, than the 
most perfect arrangements from the stranger.' 

' But it is folly in these enlightened times 
to imagine that India, once our rule were 
withdrawn, would revert to the old order of 
things. Ignorance and superstition, Eastern 
despotism and tyranny can never again find 
a home in that beautiful country,' remarked 
Mercia thoughtfully. 

' Oh, we are all well aware of that : but 
it suits our purpose to make these assertions : 
we must invent a raison d'etre when we take 
upon ourselves the government of a country 
that in no way belongs to us. It is pro re 
natd — for a special business — that we aver 
they can't get along without us. We have 
edged in little by little until we have brought 
the whole Empire under our dominion. To 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 89 

give up India now, would be as tantalising to 
us, as it would be to the victorious soldier if 
asked to give up his loot ; for in the good old 
times pillage was the perquisite of the warrior. 
America evidently sympathises with India in 
her desire for a monarchy. That country 
pretty well understands where the shoe 
pinches for she has gone through experiences.' 

' I have read in books,' observed Mercia 
smiling, ' how American women made wealthy 
by their parents' success in trade, came hither 
to mate with titled men ; for there was no 
nobility in their own country. I suppose 
possessing all the world could give save high 
rank they sought in the parent country for 
that which their own lacked.' 

' They lacked not long,' returned Geome- 
trus laughingly, ' for over fifty years they 
have been in the enjoyment of a monarchy 
and all its concomitant honours. The image 
and superscription of King Jonathan, the 
First, that adorns the almighty dollar im- 
presses one painfully with their pinchbeck 
royalty.' 

' We shall get used to it in time,' observed 
Mercia gently. ' A young republic cannot 



90 MERCIA 

make an old monarchy. After all, there was 
a spice of modesty in Jonathan when he 
elected a king, for he might have made him 
an emperor while doing it.' 

' It wasn't modesty at ail — it was selfish 
prudence ; they wanted to follow the lines of 
a constitutional monarchy and considered it 
was the safest thing to call their Figure Head 
a king.' 

' If India obtains her desire I wonder 
whom she will chose for Emperor. Doubtless 
the people will want that dear old Prime 
Minister of theirs ; they could not have a 
worthier monarch.' 

* But he is old,' replied Geometrus quickly, 
' and he is childless, what is to become of the 
succession when he dies ? There will arise 
tumults and internal quarrels as to his suc- 
cessor : better choose a younger man, and one 
likely to found a lasting royal line. Eemem- 
ber the fate of Germany. Had there been a 
goodly half-dozen of sons to fall back upon 
an English prince would never have had the 
chance of their crown.' 

' All's well that ends well, Geometrus. 
Now is England invincible to the whole world : 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 91 

in her position as a united Empire her power 
is paramount everywhere.' 

No sooner had Mercia made this observa- 
tion than she heard the sound of some un- 
usual noise going on outside, and stepping to 
the window she saw several gentlemen as- 
sembled near the Observatory, among whom 
she discerned no other personage than the 
Emperor Felicitas himself. 

' Here's a pretty surprise for thee, Mistress 
Mercia,' exclaimed Geometrus excitedly; ' none 
other than the Emperor ! It is not I he seeks, 
but thou, Mistress Mercia, I will then away.' 

' Stay, Geometrus ! ' exclaimed Mercia 
quickly, ' I would prefer thy company when 
I receive the Emperor. I will now retire and 
change my dress for a more suitable habit in 
which to receive so honourable a visitor.' 

But before she could leave the room a 
messenger was at the door desiring an audi- 
ence for his royal master. 

Mercia silently bowed her assent ; and a 
moment later the monarch entered her studio. 
As he did so she rose from her seat at the 
large table, which was covered with charts 
and maps of the celestial regions, all of her 



9 2 MERCIA 

own making, but the Emperor quickly stepping 
forward observed gallantly, ' Stay, lady, keep 
thy seat, for it is meet that m on arch s should 
serve thee, who art so full of knowledge and 
wisdom.' 

' Thou art my master,' she answered in a 
grave tone. 

* Thy Sovereign, yet thy servant,' he re- 
plied with a deep bow. 

* What is thy wish, Sire, wherefore am I 
honoured by this visit ? ' 

1 1 would know, fair Mercia, the cause of 
this change of temperature, not only in my 
dominions, but from all accounts I hear it 
is general throughout the world. For three 
successive years an extreme cold has prevailed 
each season. I fain would learn the reason.' 

* Some serious internal changes are taking 
place within the body of our sun. Great 
caverns, about one-fourth of the sun's dia- 
meter have discovered themselves in his centre. 
We are not the only planet-dwellers suffering 
from cold at this time, for a difference will 
be experienced throughout the whole of the 
solar system. But it is only a temporary 
inconvenience ; from close observation I find 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 93 

that our sun is absorbing numerous meteoric 
bodies, of which there are billions wandering 
in interstellar space, that have been projected 
from the innumerable suns still called stars by 
the people, and for the sake of convenience 
the title is retained by physicists. I con- 
clude therefore that there is no cause for 
alarm. Our sun has indeed sent out of him- 
self great projectiles into space, but he is ever 
capturing wandering bodies that happen to 
come within his influence. In this way the 
hydrogen of the fixed stars is pressed into our 
sun's service and a constant heat sustained, 
which may last for thousands of years to 
come.' 

' Of all the stars thou studiest nightly to 
such excellent purpose, thou art the brightest, 
Mercia. Thou art truly the wisest of women ; 
and as fair as thou art far-seeing. Thy words 
give comfort to the world, and thy beauty 
brings thy Sovereign much delight.' 

While Felicitas was uttering these plea- 
sant gallantries, he was gradually edging his 
chair nearer and nearer to that of Mercia. 

Mercia's countenance at once assumed a 
more serious expression ; hastily glancing 



94 MERCIA 

towards that part of the room where Geome- 
trus was seated she found he had slipped out 
unobserved, doubtless with the intention of 
leaving them quietly to their discussion on 
the sun's condition. 

' Truly, it is most kind of thee, Sire, to 
show such appreciation ; but I seek no 
flatteries, or compliments — nay — I will have 
none of them,' she answered with downcast 
eyes. 

' Why, what harm is there in speaking a 
truth, Mercia ? I do affirm that thy beauty 
only exceeds thy knowledge, or thy know- 
ledge thy beauty, I know not which.' 

' Be it so, then, Sire. It is nothing to my 
credit if I be beautiful ; I had no part in the 
making ; and as to my knowledge, it is a 
necessity to possess it, for it is my livelihood 
— my very bread.' 

' Ah, Mercia, why spoil those eyes more 
beautiful than the brightest star in gazing 
into unknown regions day and night ; year 
in, year out? Thou knowest no enjoyment — 
thou hast no pleasure of life, as other women ; 
thine existence is lonely — colourless. Drink 
of the draught of love as nature wills it, and 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 95 

let the study of the stars stand over for a 
space.' 

The voice of Felicitas as he uttered these 
words was low, but full of passion ; but 
Mercia, owing to the confusion that covered 
her, did not notice the change of tone. The 
king's words had indeed evoked emotions in 
her breast that for years she had kept in strict 
abeyance : now, these throbbed and pulsated 
through her frame with such force that she 
became dumb, tongue-tied ; at this inoppor- 
tune moment a knock was heard at the door, 
and the Emperor himself touched the electric 
button, when the door opened of itself and 
gave admittance to another visitor. 

It was only Geometrus who had returned 
for a part of an instrument he was making, 
which he had inadvertently left behind ; his 
entrance, however, put a prompt stoppage to 
the Emperor's love making ; and Mercia, hardly 
knowing what she was doing rose from her 
seat and turned to leave the apartment ; ob- 
serving her intention the Emperor concluded 
that it was time to withdraw. 

' Farewell, mistress,' he said lightly, as he 
made her a bow, ' I will come again, ere loiiL r 



96 MERCIA 

and learn of thee the sun's condition which is 
so necessary to be acquainted with.' 

It was the fashion at this time to call a 
woman ' Mistress,' whether married or single. 
The abbreviation 'Mrs.' was discarded, as was 
also ' Madam ' borrowed from the French, and 
the old English style resumed in their stead ; 
while ' Miss ' was applied only to children. 
The married woman was distinguished from 
the unmarried by the possession of two sur- 
names, — her father's and husband's, while the 
single woman was known by her father's name 
only. 

Mercia, in order to escape from observa- 
tion quickly made her way into her most 
private apartment, and shutting herself safely 
within she sank upon the silken couch, and 
gave way to the tumult of feelings that over- 
whelmed her. 

What did the Emperor mean by coun- 
selling her to relax in her duties and give 
way to the passion of love ? she asked herself. 
Was he putting her probity to the test, 
merely to ascertain of what stuff she was 
made ? or was it only a random shot on his 
part, made for mere amusement, but which had 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 97 

unwittingly touched her deepest feelings ? 
Did he suspect her affection for Geometrus ? — 
but that was impossible ; not a living soul 
knew that she loved this man, not even Geo- 
metrus himself. Had Geometrus betrayed him- 
self in any way ? Was it possible that in some 
unguarded moment he had spoken of his pas- 
sion for her to some friend who had afterwards 
betrayed him to the Emperor ? No, that was 
impossible. Geometrus would not dare to 
speak of that which he was prohibited from 
even hinting at to herself. Had some person, 
envious of her position, invented some tale, 
and carried it to Felicitas with a view of 
bringing about her downfall? If so, who 
could it be? Was it Heinrich, the German, 
who longed for her post, and had he done 
this dishonourable thing to obtain it ? 

Then the thought crossed her mind of the 
possibility that the Emperor might have been 
saying something for himself, of which the 
bare idea brought the crimson to her cheeks : 
but this solution of the question she endea- 
voured promptly to dismiss, for Felicitas was 
already married, and to offer her, Mercia, an 

n 



n MERCIA 

illicit love would be an unparalleled presump- 
tion, even from an Emperor. 

L What can have put this abominable 
thought into my head?' she again asked her- 
self. Then she rose from her seat and paced 
up and down her chamber with perturbed 
motions and flushed face. 

She felt that the whole thing was mystify- 
ing to a degree. At length, after much cogita- 
tion she concluded to take no further notice 
of the matter, for it would be undignified to 
seek explanations either of Geometrus or the 
Emperor. 

' Let me take up a position of inactivity,' 
she murmured to herself, ' I will await de- 
velopments as they unfold, and shape my 
course accordingly.' 

Did the Emperor dream of success in his 
endeavour to corrupt the faultless Mercia? 
It was, indeed, a bold step for him to take 
with one so high-minded, so self-controlled as 
she. But her very unattainability made her 
all the more desirable in his eyes : the more 
he dwelt on the futility of his wish the more 
violently his passion raged within him. 

1 1 must have Mercia ! ' he exclaimed to 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 99 

himself as nightly he lay awake dwelling on 
her beauty, her goodness, and her extra- 
ordinary abilities. 

' She must be mine, I cannot live without 
her ! I will go to her again — I will risk all, 
and tell her of my love. If need be, I will 
break down that barrier that divides us ; I 
will not be baulked of Mercia. If she refuse 
to become mine secretly, I will wed her openly, 
and get rid of that flat-faced Eussian woman 
whom my ministers talked me into marrying.' 

Now Felicitas spoke wildly when he gave 
way to these thoughts, for it was impossible 
to put away the Empress, he having no ade- 
quate cause given him to justify such an 
attempt. Russia would indignantly resent 
such treatment of their Princess, and none of 
the foreign Powers would stand by him in his 
demand. 

From nineteenth-century immorality co- 
vered by the thick cloak of religion, a change 
had gradually taken place for the better in 
matters matrimonial. In fact, a high standard 
of morality in all things had taken the place 
of religious superstitions ; consequently, the 
teachings of common sense were adopted in 



ioo MERC I A 

the remodelling of divorce laws, which for 
ages had contained serious blemishes. This, 
in part, was owing to the absurd restrictions 
of the clergy of those times, the upper mem- 
bers of which body holding the position of 
chief legislators together with the peers of the 
realm. 

These insisted on the indissolubility of the 
marriage tie, as far as ever it was possible to 
make it, quoting ancient Mosaical laws in 
support of their views, as if those old-time , 
regulations which were probably suitable 
enough in their day for the primitive people 
for whom they were framed, should continue 
as a guide for all ages. 

But long before Felicitas' time a great re- 
volution had taken place in laws matrimonial, 
which benefited society very materially. These 
were now framed on more equitable principles, 
for the truest benevolence pervaded their spirit, 
the punishment of the guilty one being not the 
only object sought, as in nineteenth-century 
law, which forbade the divorce, if it was dis- 
covered the two were agreed for it, but rather 
the happiness of both. Marriage was now re- 
garded as a serious civil contract which could 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL joi 

not easily be violated, but relief from its yoke 
was allowed under certain conditions, without 
either party having been conjugally unfaithful. 
If a couple living a notoriously unhappy life, 
and finding they were totally unadapted for 
each other, finally agreed to separate, it was 
possible to get the marriage contract annulled, 
and the two set at liberty again. 

The children of the marriage, if any, would 
be equally divided between them, or some 
amicable arrangement arrived at. 

This severance did not relieve the husband 
of the responsibility of her maintenance, except 
in cases where the wife possessed sufficient 
means of her own to live upon, or in the event 
of her marrying again, when of course, all 
responsibility on his part ceased. 

It may be imagined that the Divorce 
Courts were kept pretty lively by these inno- 
vations ; it certainly had this effect for some 
little time ; but gradually as education and 
the higher morality advanced the number of 
annulled marriages decreased. 

As soon as the social plane for woman was 
raised she became more exacting in her re- 
quirements, prefeiTing to remain single rather 



io2 MERC I A 

than mate with the morally weak, or otherwise 
unsuitable person. 

To a man marriage was not the easy matter 
it had been to the nineteenth-century bachelor, 
when numbers of unemployed, or, — owing to 
their absurd training — hopelessly incompetent 
young women were to be had for the asking. 
But this was all changed now ; a desirable wife 
had become as difficult to obtain as a desirable 
husband in previous generations ; and when 
a man's suit proved successful, and he had 
gained the object of his choice, he usually 
behaved in such a way towards her as gave 
her considerable satisfaction. 

On her side too, rested a responsibility 
which she realised to the utmost ; and wil- 
lingly yielded to the man she had elected the 
devotion of a high minded, unselfish affection. 

Love, in its purest form was woman's ideal, 
for the heart as well as the intellect was culti- 
vated. 



io3 



CHAPTER IV 

' Your wondrous, rare description, noble Earl, 
Of beauteous Margaret hath astonished me. 
Her virtues graced with external gifts, 
Do breed love's settled passions in my heart ; 
And like as rigour of tempestuous gusts 
Provokes the mightiest hulk against the tide, 
So am I driven, by breath of her renown 
Either to suffer shipwreck, or arrive 
Where I may have fruition of her love.' 

King Henry VI., sc. v. 

We left Mercia somewhat settled in her mind 
regarding the course she ought to take with 
the Emperor. 

If Felicitas should chance not to make 
mention of the subject of love, which was a 
forbidden one to her, owing to her position, 
she made up her mind to forbear making in- 
quiries concerning his motive for introducing 
it. 

She waited and watched each day for his 
coming with a vague hope in her heart that 
he would look favourably upon Geometrus' 



104 MERCIA 

love, in the event of his having knowledge of 
it. In any case, it could only be a suspicion, 
seeing it was as yet undeclared on his part. 

Although she said nothing to Geometrus, 
nevertheless, he felt there was something in 
the air. Often he would look at her wistfully 
and try to probe her thoughts ; for he saw 
most distinctly the preoccupation of her mind 
as she strove to make her usual mathematical 
calculations. Still he forbore questioning her, 
for the one subject he was desirous of discuss- 
ing with her, was entirely forbidden. Only 
his eyes told of the love that filled his heart, 

Eeason reminded him that it was indeed 
a hopeless affection, for he felt assured that 
Mercia's mind was so bound up in her vocation 
that she could never be induced to abandon it 
in order to wed one who had so little to offer 
her in return. Moreover, he too, would be 
sent adrift as soon as the matter oozed out, 
for the same prohibition from marriage was 
placed upon him. 

Numerous, indeed, were the plans he 
formed daily in his mind of what he would do 
for a competent livelihood in the event of his 
acceptance by Mercia. He knew it was use- 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 105 

]ess to make her an offer unless he could see 
his way clear to maintain her, when to accept 
him she must abandon a highly lucrative and 
honourable position. 

' But would she indeed make such a sacri- 
fice for him ? ' he asked himself, ' Would it 
not be selfish on his part to prefer such a 
request? True — true; he would not — dare 
not make it. It was selfish, utterly selfish to 
dream of it for one moment. No, he would 
lock up his feelings ; he would carefully keep 
his heart-secret ; he would not ruin her life 
by asking her to share his comparatively 
humble position, supposing she was willing to 
listen to him.' 

Thus did Geometrus torment himself with 
many doubts and fears. At one moment 
making bright plans for the future, wherein 
he saw himself distinguished before the world 
for his wonderful instruments, the like of 
which he knew had never been produced 
before, and probably would be at no time 
beaten. These had been planned and invented 
in the first instance for Mercia alone, yet for 
Mercia's sake they should be given to the 
world, so that he might become more worthy 



£o6 MERC I A 

of her ; a more honourable mate for the peer- 
less Mercia. 

Ah, Love, Love, how much thou hast to 
answer for ! How many human hearts hast 
thou set wildly beating for fame that would 
otherwise have remained in quiet seclusion ? 
How many mighty minds hast thou set daily 
and nightly throbbing with pain by reason of 
thine unreasonable attraction ? Thou seekest 
thine affinity where it is forbidden thee to 
enter, ever regardless of the restrictions and 
barriers invented by mankind for their pro- 
tection. 

Thou only dost behold the object of thy 
search ; invisible to thine eyes the barricades 
. of worldly conventions. 

Quite alone, and unattended by any 
member of his suite, Felicitas set off to pa} 7 
Mercia his promised visit ; who on her side 
gladly gave him a pleasant welcome. In her 
heart she fondly hoped that the interpretation 
of his words would prove favourable to herself 
and Geometrus ; and in some way yet to be 
discovered, the monarch might benefit them. 

For could he not influence his ministers to 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 107 

do away with this absurd marriage objection ? 
Yes, Felicitas had power to help them, if he 
could be induced to put it into operation. 
This was the one thing needful ; the monarch's 
goodwill, and all would then be plain sailing. 

Their marriage need not hinder their work ; 
they two could labour together, she thought, 
and side by side discharge conscientiously 
their allotted duties, to their country's satis- 
faction and their own perfect content. 

It so happened that Geometrus on that 
day had business in the city, which detained 
him several hours, and as the Emperor was 
being driven in a carriage drawn by horses — 
for this was the custom of royalty, that it 
should be distinguished from the commonalty, 
who used electric force for cheapness as for 
swiftness — he saw Geometrus enter a machine 
warehouse, or shop, where electrical household 
machines were vended. 

' Ah,' thought the Emperor, ' thou art 
there, my friend : pray make no hurry on my 
account ; thou wast truly de trap on the last 
occasion I called on mine astronomer ; I could 
well have spared thy presence.' 

Thus the Emperor felicitated himself upon 



io8 MERC I A 

his good fortune, in being secured against a 
like interruption on this occasion. When 
arrived at his destination, which was not very 
soon, owing to the slowness of the journe) T — 
for the speed of the horse was not comparable 
with that of electric energy — the Emperor 
entered the Observatory with a firm resolution 
to make good use of the opportunity with 
which fortune had favoured him. Now, Mercia, 
with the same motive in her mind, received 
him very cordially, for she desired to make a 
favourable impression, with a view of obtain- 
ing his royal clemency in the matter of matri- 
mony, albeit, it appeared on further reflection, 
but a bare possibility that she would at any 
time change her present condition. 

'Ah, Mistress Mercia,' he exclaimed play- 
fully, ' what cheerful looks thou dost carry 
to-day, methinks thy face betokens much con- 
tent — hast thou taken my words to heart, fair 
lady, 'twas truly excellent advice ? ' 

' Sire, thou saidst something concerning 
the sun — thou didst talk of coming to learn 
more of his condition, I believe,' answered 
Mercia evasively. 

'True,' he replied with a laugh, 'I fain 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 109 

would know more of the sun's late vagaries : 
but it would please me infinitely better to 
learn something of thyself, dost thou never 
feel lonely ? ' 

' Often enough, Sire ; the hours speed away 
at times very quickly when I am hard at work, 
but when it is time to rest then the feeling of 
solitude overwhelms me : I get appalled at the 
silence that surrounds me, and a melancholy 
seizes me so severely that I rise unable to cope 
with my duties.' 

' Art thou then tired of this occupation ? 
It is indeed, too much for thee. Eest a 
while, sweet Mercia, and let the stars take 
care of themselves for a season.' 

' Oh, that would spoil all my calculations ; 
the work of years would be as naught were I 
to stay my hand now. No, I will wait until 
my treatise on the stars is complete ; then I will 
take some little change for my health's sake.' 

' Health, and Love, sweet Mercia, go hand 
in hand together. Let thine heart melt to its 
influence, and all will go well with thee. Thy 
melancholies will disappear ; thy solitude 
lightened ; for thou wilt have a new theory to 
analyse — a new and a better one.' 



no MERCIA 

' Yes, thou canst love, dear Mercia, I know 
it ; for thine eyes were made for the conquest 
of man's heart, rather than star-gazing. Cease 
to disregard the designs of Nature when she 
formed thee, and yield thyself to the pleasure 
of love.' 

Mercia essayed to answer him, but her 
tongue refused her utterance, so great was her 
confusion. She blushed violently, and at last 
stammered out — 

' Sire, I know not what answer to give in 
this matter — I am yet unprepared, — perplexed 
with this reasoning of thine.' 

' Hast thou not felt the want of companion- 
ship, dear Mercia? Here penned in this soli- 
tude only fit for a greybeard thou dost pine, 
yet knoweth not what it is ails thee. It is 
srood to be loved, fair one, to realise how much 
thy womanhood means : hast thou never felt 
its joys — its pains ? ' 

' But my bond, Sire, I cannot break my 
bond, signed by my own hand, to forswear 
love and marriage : no one but thyself can re- 
lieve me of this obligation,' exclaimed Mercia 
excitedly. 

' I heartily relieve thee, then, my good 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL in 

Mercia. I care not for the bond one iota, if 
that be all that's in thy way. Keep thy post 
as thou likest thy work so well, and enjoy the 
delights of love at the same time,' replied the 
delighted monarch, who found it most difficult 
to conceal his fancied triumph. 

Mercia uttered a low cry of joy, and in her 
gratitude threw herself at his feet, then taking 
his willing hand in hers, she pressed it to her 
lips in silence, for her heart was too full for 
speech. 

When the matter had arrived thus far. the 
Emperor forgetting the caution and self- 
restraint he had been hitherto exercising, was 
no longer able to contain himself; stooping 
down towards the kneeling girl he caught her 
in his arms, and in a perfect frenzy of rapture 
commenced to shower hot kisses on her brow, 
her cheeks, her lips. 

Mercia was so completely taken aback by 
this unexpected raid, that her brain fairly 
reeled for a moment ; then recover ins her 
senses she quickly wrenched herself out of his 
arms, and gazing on him with blanched face, 
she cried in a voice gasping with pain and 
indignation — 



ii2 MERCIA 

' What means the Emperor by this unheard 
of liberty ? What have I done that I should 
be treated as a courtesan by my Sovereign ? ' 

' A courtesan ! ' he repeated. ' Why Mercia, 
I would give thee a crown if I could ! Thy 
queenly brow was truly made for one ; and by 
the stars, thou shalt have it yet ! Yes, Mercia 
thou shalt share my throne and rule me, my 
sweet, together with mine Empire/ 

' Share thy throne and rule thine Empire ! 
Surely, Sire, thou hast gone mad ! ' 

' Yes, truly, I am mad — mad with love for 
thee, and thou knovvest it, Mercia, else wouldst 
thou have kissed my hand in acknowledgment, 
of it?' 

' In acknowledgment of thv love ! ' she an- 
swered in strong indignant tones, ' it was not 
so — thy love never entered my thought.' 

' Whose then ? ' questioned Felicitas 
shortly. 

' Geometrus,' she acknowledged bravely. 
But the next moment she felt she had given 
away both herself and him. 

' Geometrus ! ' he scoffingly repeated. 'And 
dost thou place that poltroon before me ? Am 
I to be flouted for him ? ' 



ThE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 113 

1 His love is honourable, and thine is not ; 
therein lies the difference, my Sire,' she an- 
swered soothingly, with a view of bringing 
him to reason. 

'But my love shall be made honourable, 
Mercia. I will get a divorce, and thou shalt 
fill the Empress's place — aye, and fill it far 
away better than she has ever done ! I hate 
her — curse her ! ' And he ground his teeth 
in rage at the thought of his wretched in- 
ability to accomplish what he was so loudly 
boasting of. 

' But I cannot rob another woman of her 
husband : I would not defraud the meanest in 
thy realm, much less thine Empire's highest 
lady.' 

' It is not robbery, Mercia, she doth not 
own my heart, and never did ! I was cozened 
into that marriage by my cousin Osbert — 
curse him — curse him for a meddling fool ! ' 

' He, doubtless, did it for the best. The 
whole of thy Cabinet approved, so did the 
nation. It is a new thing for me to learn that 
our Emperor lives unhappily with his spouse 
— I cannot understand it.' 

' I never felt the chains gall till now. 



1 14 MERC I A 

Mercia. A quiet indifference kept me con- 
tent until thy beauty set my heart abeating 
with a new joy. I knew not love till mine 
eyes dwelt upon thy loveliness, and mine ears 
listened to the words that flowed from thy lip* 
like a sweet, rippling fountain, whose waters 
gave forth a pure, clear, lifegiving stream. Yes, 
I have drunk therein, and am filled with new 
emotions — new joys — new hopes — new life ! ' 
He clasped his hands in an ecstasy of happi- 
ness, as at that supreme moment he gave rein 
to the powerful impulses that swayed him. 

' Now is my beauty an evil thing, and a 
curse to me ! ' cried Mercia, at the moment 
bowing her head in deep dejection, and hiding 
her face in her hands. 

' Would I had never been born, or that 
nature had shaped me uncomely, for then this 
misfortune could not have overtaken me ! Two 
men desire me, and I may not have either. I 
must live in a world filled, like a garden with 
flowers — flowers and blossoms of love ; yet I 
may not touch them ; their fragrance is not for 
me ; not one may I wear on my breast ! Yet, 
they nod and beckon me to pluck them : they 
offer me the incense of their being, and would 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 115 

fain spend their full fragrance upon me ; for 
their desire is to nestle on rny bosom, and give 
me the joy of their beauty and love.' 

She spoke as one entranced, who ignoring 
all listeners felt naught of the presence of 
another. For the moment her anguish was 
her only companion, which the presence of 
Felicitas could not restrain. It was the burst- 
ing wail of a heart kept long in subjection and 
unnatural restriction, which now claimed its 
rights. Thus did the longing for love bring 
sorrow to Mercia, such sorrow as she had never 
before tasted. 

As Felicitas gazed upon the beautiful 
woman standing before him in an attitude of 
grief and despair, her head bowed down, her 
arms outstretched, showing the contour of her 
perfect form, he felt as one in a dream —a 
ravishing dream that inspired every sense with 
adeliciousnesshehad never before experienced. 

On his enraptured ears her words fell like 
the music of a poem, for the full, rich, melo- 
dious timbre of her voice lent to them a pecu- 
liar charm : their pathos melted him ; their 
sweetness enchained him. 

Seized anew with the intoxication of his 

1 2 



ii 6 MERC I A 

passion he sank on his knees before her ; his 
whole frame quivered with emotion, while the 
varying tones of his voice testified how greatly 
the torrent of his passion swept through his 
soul. 

' Mercia, Mercia, give me thy love ! ' he 
cried impetuously ; ' take me, my beloved, 
spurn me no longer, for without thee I am as 
one dead ! As a world without sun, having 
no life, nor warmth, I shall go on my way 
darkened for ever. Take me into the sun- 
shine of thy love ; give me new life, dearest. 
Eesuscitate and refresh me with the joy of thy 
beauty ; and let us drink of the wine of love's 
pleasures for ever. Then shall we two learn 
how good it is to love ; how sweet it is to 
be together ; how delightful the blending of 
two souls made satisfied with their own com- 
panionship.' 

As one in a dream Mercia listened to his 
passionate outpourings ; she drank in his 
words as gratefully as the parched earth a 
summer's shower ; but her mind was with 
Geometrus. In imagination she was with him, 
listening to the pent-up eloquence that his soft 
dark eyes daily expressed. 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 117 

' It is Geoinetrus who speaks ! ' she mur- 
mured absently ; ' Geometrus has opened his 
heart to me at last ! ' 

' Geometrus ! ' shouted the Emperor, almost 
out of his head with rage and jealousy ; ' it is 
not Geometrus — it is I, Felicitas — Felicitas 
thine Emperor who abjectly offers thee his 
love, and his crown, and sues thee, Mercia — 
his subject — his servant ! ' 

Then Mercia, awakening from her love- 
dream began to realise her true position. 
For an instant she paused, and passed her hand 
across her brow, as if to recover her senses ; 
then she said in a deliberate and dignified 
voice — 

' Felicitas, the Emperor hath no crown 
to offer his subject, Mercia, for it sits already 
on the brow of his royal spouse ; neither 
has he love to offer his servant, Mercia, 
for it is sworn to his Empress for ever. It is 
an insult to me, Mercia, thine offer of illicit 
love, and I refuse to longer remain in thy 
service.' 

Upon hearing these words the heat of his 
temper suddenly cooled ; he saw he had not 
only ruined his cause with the lady, but he 



uS MERC I A 

was bringing upon himself public dishonour ; 
for the reason of the resignation of their gifted 
and enthusiastic astronomer would be de- 
manded by both ministers and nation alike. 
As she turned to leave the apartment, for she 
disdained having further converse with him. 
he forcibly caught her by the dress, with a 
view of detaining her. 

4 Stay, Mercia, stay, and listen to me ! Listen 
to one word more, I beseech thee. Thou 
shalt, for indeed I will not let thee go ! ' He 
shouted fiercely, for she was wrenching her- 
self out of his grasp. 

4 Touch me not ! ' she exclaimed exci- 
tedly, 4 or I will kill thee as thou standest ! ' 
and from her girdle she took a small ebony 
stick, electrically charged, which she wore as 
a kind of life-preserver, in accordance with 
the custom of ladies, who worked, or walked 
out a good deal alone. 

She had reached the door, and opened it, 
when who should rush upon the scene but 
Geometrus accompanied by the Emperor's 
cousin, Prince Osbert, who had been seeking 
him for some time past. 

; Mercia insulted, and by the Emperor ! 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 119 

What is the meaning of this ? ' inquired 
Geometrus, at the same time facing Felicitas 
with eyes of fire. 

'lam not insulting her,' coolly rejoined 
the Emperor, ' she has disobeyed my com- 
mands respecting some important astronomi- 
cal information I required, and is endeavour- 
ing to shield her own shortcomings by getting 
into a rage : 'tis woman's way, but I'll have 
none of it.' 

Then Mercia drawing herself up to her 
full height, exclaimed in indignant voice — 
' Liar, and traitor, I despise thee ! Bid thine 
Empress come hither, I have somewhat to 
tell her. As for me, I shall never receive thee 
here again, thou woman-betrayer ! Get some 
other to fill my place, for I shall quit it forth- 
with.' 

Then she turned away with haughty mien 
and left the apartment. 

1 What's all the row ? ' inquired the Em- 
peror's cousin, who affected vulgarity of speech 
when with his intimates. 

' Explain this, Sire,' demanded Geometrus, 
who was bursting with surprise equally as 
indignation. 



120 MERC I A 

' Bah, it is naught — it is much ado about 
nothing,' replied the Emperor shrugging his 
shoulders. 

' I do not believe it,' promptly answered 
Geometrus ; ' my mistress is too gentle, too 
self-restrained, and too honourable to make 
an unjust accusation against anyone ; least of 
all, her royal master. This matter shall be 
looked into, Sire. Though thou art an Em- 
peror thy conduct shall be examined, and the 
light of the noonday sun thrown upon it ; for 
it is meet that those filling high places be 
honourable men.' 

' If Mistress Mercia sees fit to give up her 
post, thou Geometrus canst worthily fill it,' 
observed Felicitas in an insinuating manner, 
hoping to mollify him by offering to place him 
in a more exalted position. 

' By all that's good, I take not my mis- 
tress's place because thou hast made it in- 
tolerable for her ! No, Sire, that shall not be. 
But certainly thou shalt answer for this clay's 
work, I warn thee.' 

' Thou hast no proof at all, fellow, that I 
have done aught amiss, save her lying tale : 
it is all a woman's hysterical nonsense, and I 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 12 r 

am sick of the pother made of it,' observed 
the Emperor, affecting great scorn. 

' Let's be off! ' cried Prince Osbert 
lightly ; ' we have had enough of this now. 
Let the woman wiseacres in Parliament settle 
this little matter among themselves : it will 
afford them much satisfaction, I'll warrant.' 

' Parliament ! ' echoed the Emperor, while 
his face turned very white. ' Surely not : 
this trifle is unworthy serious consideration. 
It would ill become our wise Senate if it 
occupied itself with the consideration of a 
woman's silly nonsense. I will, myself, settle 
this matter with Mistress Mercia. I promise 
that, gentlemen, so do not trouble yourselves 
further about it.' 

' It shall not end in this way ; ' returned 
Geometrus firmly ; ' I shall see that this matter 
is not hushed up.' 

' So shall I ! ' came from a voice from be- 
hind a screen in the room ; when therefrom 
emerged an old man named Sadbag, a lead- 
ing Piadical politician, who was dead against 
Royalty, and affected reform, advocating 
strongly a Republican form of Government. 

' The Emperor's conduct is a disgrace to 



122 MERC/A 

our civilisation," he continued, ' I have seen 
the beginning and end of the whole affair ; 
for I was seated reading in that corner 
yonder, awaiting an audience of Mistress 
Mercia, when the Emperor was ushered in 
unnoticed by me; I continued reading until I 
dropped asleep and was aroused by the Em- 
peror's passionate tones when making his 
love-appeals to the obdurate Mistress Mercia. 
She scorned him, and he got furious. I saw 
it all ! I will never forget the scene if I live 
to the age of Methuselah ! ' 

' My stars, but Kate will make it hot for 
thee ! She will have good cause for her 
jealousy this time, old man ! I wouldn't be in 
thy shoes for a kingdom ; fancy, the virtuous 
Felicitas caught corrupting his astronomer ! 
Oh, my, this is funny ! ' cried the light- 
minded prince, who laughed heartily, at the 
thought of the scrape his cousin had got into. 

' Funny isn't the word for it — it is atro- 
cious — abominable ! It hath been ever the 
custom of idle monarchs to fill up their time 
with seducing good women. The hunting is 
more keen when the lady is virtuous, and 
thereby the game made all the more de- 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 123 

lightful. Let's do away with such good-for- 
naughts — they are a disgrace to our country ! ' 
cried the old man excitedly addressing Geo- 
metrus. 

' So then, wouldst thou trump up a story 
to lose me my crown in order to establish 
thine own political absurdities ? Thou, and 
the woman Mercia are in league against me ! 
You twain have hatched this conspiracy to 
work my disgrace. But I will scatter it to 
the winds — I will prove its utter falsity. I 
will show how futile are your plans to bring 
about a revolution : Mercia and thou shall die 
for your crimes ; for it is nothing short of 
high treason.' 

' High bunkum, thy Majesty talkest ! ' 
retorted Sadbag sarcastically ; ' thy blunder- 
ing only equals thy blustering. Thy cousin, 
the prince, and Geometrus are witnesses of the 
truth of my statement, for they saw for them- 
selves the fag end of the affair ; they caught 
thee forcibly detaining the lady, and heard her 
threaten to kill thee.' 

' That of itself makes high treason ! To 
threaten the life of the Sovereign is enough — 
the law still holds good in my realms to 



1 24 MERCIA 

punish such crime with death. This one 
charge alone against Mercia is sufficient ! She 
must die the death of a felon, and pay for her 
temerity,' returned Felicitas, who thus inter- 
preted the law with much assumption of 
dignity, to suit his own convenience. 

' The nation will not see Mercia die for 
such a dastard as thou ! ' exclaimed Georne- 
trus, suddenly awakening from the stupor of 
surprise that had overtaken him, as the 
matter developed itself. ' I saw thee last 
week philandering around her, but at that 
time I understood not its meaning ; neither 
did she ; otherwise she would have taken 
more precaution in receiving thee. Even then, 
she requested me to remain in the room when 
she gave thee an audience. She surely had 
some instinct that thou wert not to be trusted 
— ah — now I see it all ! ' 

' A trusty witness truly ! She and thou 
have spent the time philandering yourselves, 
and this is why thou measureth me a peck out 
of thine own bushel. Thou shalt be indicted, 
Geometrus, for breaking the oath of thine 
engagement. Thou hast been spending the 
nation's time love-making, and hatching high 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 125 

treason, — all three of you shall repent your 
little games.' 

' Blacking the character of another will not 
clear thine own. These wholesale indictment? 
of thine will not serve thee. Thy case is a 
poor one, and thou hadst better own thy fault, 
rather than invent outrageous charges against 
thine accusers ; ' urged the old man with 
"reater calmness than he had hitherto dis- 

c 

played. 

' Mercia made the admission herself,' re- 
plied Felicitas. ' She said she loved Geome- 
trus and fain would marry him if she might.' 

At this Geometrus started, and went very 
red in the face ; being totally unprepared for 
this avowal of the Emperor ; which gave him 
a sudden pleasure he was unable to conceal. 

' There is proof abundant, if more be 
wanting, of the nature of the Emperor's 
business with Mercia,' observed Sadbag reflec- 
tively, then turning to the Emperor, he de- 
manded — ' What happened that this matter of 
Geometrus's love was discussed between you ? ' 

' She desired me to use my influence with 
my Cabinet to get the custom changed which 
hath been so long observed, so that she might 



1 26 MERCIA 

retain her post and take a husband at the 
same time.' 

' And thou, in thy great benevolence and 
generosity didst promise, and finish by trying 
to make her pay for the boon by accommo- 
dating thy desire ? ' suggested Sadbag, follow- 
ing up the clue the Emperor's admissions had 
given him. 

' I will answer no more of thy questions, 
fellow,' responded Felicitas, who looking very 
uncomfortable made for the door. 

'I think this business is getting too hot 
for thy Majesty ; thy capers are costing too 
dearly. What folly to count on a strong- 
minded woman like thine astronomer ! Why 
didst thou not make advances to some idle 
lady of thy court where such favours are 
dispensed more readily ? ' 

' I will have thee indicted for a revolu- 
tionist and a maker of mischief in my realms, 
and pay thee well for all these insults,' re- 
torted the Emperor as he left the Observatory. 

1 Bounce and boast help no one for long ; 
not even an Emperor!' called out Sadbag 
after him. 



127 



CHAPTER V 

The discussion then terminated, but not the 
dispute. Each went his own way with the 
determination to work out the discomfiture 
of his adversary, to the best of his ability. 
Sadbag made his way at once to his club, the 
headquarters of the Eadical Association, and 
related the disgraceful occurrence to its lead- 
ing members ; who realising the gravity of 
the situation convened a special meeting ; so 
that measures might be promptly taken to 
get first in the field in the exposure of the 
Emperor, and thereby nullify his evil inten- 
tions. 

So perfect was the system of communication 
throughout the globe that the same evening, 
not only had the Radical newspapers the 
whole story set in type, but this society titbit 
appeared next morning on the breakfast tables 
of the people throughout the whole of the 



128 MERCIA 

Empire. As a matter of fact, two hours later 
the news was in every part of the world. It 
gave a splendid impetus to the trade, for each 
printing office turned out at least three times 
its usual quantity of newspapers for the first 
week, and double the number for every suc- 
ceeding one the case lasted. 

The subject for long enough furnished 
matter for light little articles in the monthlies, 
and heavy discourses in the quarterlies. It 
supplied the novelist with material for his 
plots, and the delighted dramatist for his 
plays. An Emperor on his knees to a subject 
was not an every day situation, while the 
scene where she threatens his life was quite 
too tragical to be neglected. It gave the 
libretto to the composer, great and small, of 
comic opera, and in serious opera it was 
thrilling. Mercia in a state of ecstatic bliss 
warbling sweetest love songs to the enchanted 
Emperor, formed a delicious scene that was 
irresistibly charming to all beholders. When 
the proper time arrived the fearless Sadbag 
sent a full description of the affair to every 
journal throughout the world. He even 
wrote it out, and telephoned the minutest 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 129 

details to India, and every country in com- 
munication telephonically, with the Teutonic 
Empire. 

Therein the love scene was graphically 
described, in Sadbag's humorous vein, but 
with due regard to Mercia's sensitive feelings 

For the first time her personal character 
was given to the world, but such a halo of 
purity and modesty was drawn round it that 
it evoked everywhere the most enthusiastic 
admiration for her character. 

The description of the Emperor's duplicity 
and contemptible meanness was given with 
ruthless vividness, when at the moment lie 
was surprised, he endeavoured to turn the 
tables on the high-minded lady, who having 
proved invulnerable to all his blandishments 
he accused of having committed the capital 
offence of high treason. 

From the commoner, to the crowned head 
of every country, almost, the story of the 
Emperor of the Teutonic Empire and his 
astronomer was discussed. In the cottage, the 
castle, the street corner, the court and the 
club, it became at once the leading subject of 
conversation. 



130 MERCIA 

'Ah, well ! ' observed one of the viceroys 
of Turkey — for that country had been long 
before divided between Russia, France and 
England — ' this comes of giving women too 
much freedom : had it been a man that was 
filling the post of astronomer this could never 
have happened.' 

' But it might to his wife ! ' answered one, 

1 With a different result,' added another ; 

' Is then a married woman more compliant 
than a single ? ' queried a third. 

• It all depends upon the sort of woman,' 
observed a fourth. 

' The danger is lessened when the lady 
already runs a nursery,' remarked his neigh- 
bour cynically. 

' Science meets that difficulty,' interpolated 
another of the party. 

' A husband's jealousy is the greatest of 
all dangers,' retorted his neighbour. 

' Cease these pleasantries, gentlemen, and 
discuss the matter seriously,' exclaimed an 
elderly minister with dignity, ' England is 
to be indeed congratulated on having women 
of such stamp as the peerless and incorrup- 
tible Mercia. Search the world through and 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 131 

we shall be unable to find any to compare 
with them in physique, or mental attainments. 
They are indeed, Nature's queens, and in 
every way fit to grace a coronet.' 

' Talking of coronets reminds one of 
crowns : there's a pretty hubbub going on 
just now; India expects to win her freedom 
and is casting about for an Emperor,' re- 
marked another ; 

' Why not give it to Mercia, she's as good 
as a man ? ' suggested his neighbour. 

' Better, I should say,' rejoined another of 
the group, 'judging from results.' 

' The natives would never stand it : every 
nabob wants it for himself.' 

' All cannot have it, that is very clear," 
remarked one of the party. 

' Better settle the matter by giving it to 
none of them, and choose a good stock from 
the country that ruled them, and made them 
what they are ; and thus establish a Royal 
Line which will do them credit for all time," 
suggested the elderly minister, who was a 
Frenchman and a believer in women, and 
especially a believer in the beautiful Mercia. 



K 2 



132 MERCIA 



CHAPTER VI 

We must leave these gentlemen in the far 
East, and come back to Greenwich. 

While the Emperor was returning to 
London he cast about in his mind for some 
way out of his difficulty. 

He felt it was little use seeking the assist- 
ance of his royal consort, Catherine, daughter 
of Nicholas of Russia. 

She would have little sympathy with him 
in his trouble, unless he could persuade her of 
his innocence of the charges that were being 
made against him. 

Taking into consideration, too, that on 
that very morning he had quarrelled with her, 
and brutally told her that he heartily wished 
himself rid of her, it was at present, scarcely 
wisdom to seek her advice. 

While his mind was thus filled with gloomy 
thoughts, the silence was broken by Prince 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 133 

Osbert who was accompanying him to the 
palace. 

' Here's a pretty pickle, to be sure ! ' ex- 
claimed the prince, ' a nice position for a 
royal Emperor to be found interfering with 
his lady astronomer, and she threatening his 
life to make him release her. What thou 
canst do to re-establish thy reputation is about 
as clear as mud to me, for by my conscience, 
I cannot see a way at all ! ' 

' What a prating fool thou art, Osbert ! I 
can plainly see unless thy tongue is kept from 
wagging thou wilt ruin me by thy talk. Say 
nothing at all about the lady having been 
detained by me. I don't mean to own to that 
part of it. Let us declare that she deliberately 
turned upon me when I expostulated with 
her upon her idleness ; that will give the 
matter a better appearance.' 

'Aye, truly, a better one for thee! But 
thinkest thou, cousin, that the House will 
believe thee ? I guess, they will sooner take 
Mercia's word: remember its lady members, 
how bravely they defend their sex at all 
times. I wouldn't give a sixpence for thy 
reputation after they have handled thy case.' 



i 3 4 MERC I A 

' What care I for the good opinion of a 
handful of women ? What are they in my 
vast dominions ? Nothing, truly, nothing ! 
Nevertheless, a monarch's virtue, should be, 
like Caesar's wife, above suspicion : so Osbert, 
good cousin, thou must help me in this matter. 
and swear to all I tell thee.' 

' Commit perjury ! No thanks, not if I 
know it. I cannot tell a lie — I'm another 
Juvenile Washington. Besides, Felicitas, it 
goes against the grain to do a dirty trick to 
any lady, least of all, our peerless Mercia. 

' She is a lady of untarnished reputation, 
with whom I would strongly recommend thee 
to make thy peace. Indeed, the ways of 
Emperors with their lady-subjects are quite too 
much for me — I cannot comprehend them.' 

' Heartless, thou ever wert, Osbert, pray 
try to realise rny situation, and give up thy 
attitudes and play-acting proclivities. Now, 
remember, I had no hold on her person, when 
you two dropped upon us — I was merely 
expostulating with her.' 

' I'll have nothing to do with the matter at 
all, I shall say I was seized with sudden blind- 
ness at that moment and saw nothing.' 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 155 

' Idiot, wilt thou keep to that ? ' inquired 
Felicitas gloomily. 

' Yes, I will stick to that, wild horses shall 
not drag; other from me.' 

' No one will believe thee.' 

' No one would believe the other thingr, 
so it comes to the same for thee,' returned 
Osbert lightly. 

' What other thing ? ' inquired Felicitas. 

' Thy statement that she was idle, and 
thou wert reproving her for it. Her work 
proves her industry : she has any amount to 
show in defence of thy charge. Look at her 
maps ; her writings ; her daily announce- 
ments ; her daily registrations of her obser- 
vations. The charge of idleness, I fear me, 
will not help thy cause.' 

' It was not idleness in general, but some 
information in particular that she failed to 
supply me with.' 

' Think it over, cousin, of what this par- 
ticular information consisted. I bet my 
garters it was somewhat thou canst not 
explain publicly.' 

' Cease thy chatter, and stick to thy resolve 
of having turned blind that very moment ; 



1 36 MERCIA 

'tis the best thou canst do for me, I see very 
plainly.' 

' So I see, too, and as we two see alike 
we cannot come to any difference. Adieu, 
cousin, I hope Kate will not chide thee for 
having eyes for other women ! That is my 
best wish for thee, this fine day.' 

' I don't think that fellow could think 
seriously for five minutes if he had to be 
hanged for it,' the Emperor muttered to him- 
self, using the old expression ' hanged ' for it 
was still retained, although that form of exe- 
cution had been given up long before. 

As the Emperor was being driven back to 
the city, Prince Osbert who cared little for 
his company at this moment, alighted from 
the carriage, leaving him to the management 
of his own affairs. Felicitas, then promptly 
decided upon driving to the official residence 
of his prime minister, Mr. Stonesack, for he 
was anxious to confer with him concerning 
the dilemma in which he was placed. More- 
over, he desired to intimate to his minister 
that steps must be taken at once for the 
arrest of Sadbag and Geometrus. Neither 
could Mercia be left out of the indictment, 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 137 

for according to his story, she was the prin- 
cipal aggressor. He was not so lost to all 
good feeling that he experienced no pangs 
of self-reproach for the part he was taking 
against the innocent girl ; but he could see 
only two ways out of the difficulty ; either 
the impeachment of Mercia and her friends, 
or a full confession of his own conduct. 

This latter would have been intolerable. 
The deliberate exposure of himself to the 
public, and a big public it was, by this time, 
for it embraced the whole world, after having 
so long played the part of Simon Pure to 
popular opinion, was out of the question. 
He would certainly shield himself, he thought, 
and if the worst came to Mercia he could 
exercise his royal clemency on her behalf, 
and set her at liberty again. 

By this course he would get rid of the 
detestable Sadbag for good, and Geometrus at 
the same time. Who knows, thought Felicitas 
with a faint smile, but Mercia may still prove 
kind to me, if that fellow were only put out 
of reach. 

Then followed in his mind bright visions 
of a lovely dwelling, situated in some distant 



138 MERCIA 

part of his dominions, with Mercia for its 
mistress, and himself its secret owner, and 
constant visitor. How delightful ! It should 
be fitted up like fairyland itself, with every 
luxury, and every appliance for her comfort. 
Little children might play about his knees, of 
which there was poor prospect of ever seeing 
in his royal palace ; for so far, the Empress 
had proved barren. Then he awoke from his 
dream to the provoking reality of his true 
situation. 

This pleasing reverie created, to some ex- 
tent, a reaction in his mind. As his temper 
cooled so did his courage to make this 
heinous charge against innocent persons : but 
he supported himself with the reflection that 
at most the unfortunate men could receive no 
greater punishment than a term of imprison- 
ment. 

By the time his carriage reached the 
prime minister's residence he had decided 
what to say, for he had succeeded in invent- 
ing an excellent excuse for his visit to the 
Observatory. 

He realised that it was necessary to have 
his statement ready as to the precise nature 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 139 

of the work lie bad requested his astronomer 
to prepare for him, which through her neglect 
had caused the extraordinary scene of which 
the prince had been an accidental witness. 

After much cogitation he evolved the 
feasible explanation that he had requested 
her to make calculations of each perturbation 
of the sun's centre ; and also to discover to 
what extent the additions of meteoric matter 
to his body would affect solar heat. He de- 
sired this information in the interests of all 
his subjects, but especially in those of agri- 
culturists, and fruitculturists, whose crops had 
been ruined by the continuous cold seasons. 

Under ordinary circumstances the Em- 
peror would have obtained the attendance of 
any of his ministers without leaving his apart- 
ment ; in one instant the summons would 
have reached him, had the minister been 
there to receive it. 

Here was the difficulty, however, for delay 
increased the danger, and allowed the enemy 
an advantage ; accordingly the Emperor chose 
the less dignified but safer course of calling 
in person on his minister. 

While Felicitas was relating his extraor- 



Mo MERC I A 

dinary account of the conduct of their astro- 
nomer and the subsequent treatment he had 
received from her friends, Stonesack's coun- 
tenance was a study to behold. At first he 
appeared profoundly astonished ; this gave 
way to so many varying emotions that it was 
impossible to say what was going on in his 
mind, or guess what opinion he had formed 
of the affair. However, he listened very 
gravely to the story, in which the Emperor's 
powers of imagination had been considerably 
called upon. And when the minister was 
pressed for an answer as to the best method 
of dealing with the delinquents, he hesitated 
considerably, coughed ; looked very red ; blew 
his nose, and finished by saying he didn't 
know. 

' At all events,' urged the Emperor, ' this 
revolutionary Sadbag, ought to be indicted 
for wickedly conspiring to undermine my 
reputation, and thereby bring me into my 
people's disfavour.' 

1 What about thy two astronomers, does 
thy Majesty desire to include them in the 
indictment ? ' 

' Certainly,' replied the Emperor, ' did not 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 141 

Mistress Mercia threaten my life with her 
ebony life-preserver, and hath not Geometrus 
taken her part ? ' 

' Hath thy Majesty fully considered the 
merits of the case, that it be a sound one ; 
otherwise it had better not be gone into pub- 
licly at all. Would it not be far wiser to 
administer correction to these foolish persons 
by requiring them to make an apology for 
their ill-behaviour ? ' 

' That they will never do, I am assured ! 
Their looks and language betrayed their evil 
designs towards me. Get a warrant sent 
quickly, and put them in prison without de- 
lay — even now they may be working me 
infinite mischief.' 

' It will come to a trial in that case. What 
will the nation say? Will the people take 
thy word in preference to that of Mercia ? ' 

'I care not what the people think! I 
know my own mind : I promised those sedi- 
tious ones what to expect, and they shall not 
be disappointed,' returned the Emperor hotly. 

' As thy Majesty wills it : the warrant 
shall be made out and served to-morrow. Tt 
cannot be done more quickly. In the mean- 



M2 MERCIA 

time thy Majesty will have opportunity to 
sleep upon thy purpose, and if thy mind be 
changed by morning send a message to that 
effect, I will keep in readiness for it.' 

* ( 'mint not upon that ! There is no other 
way of dealing with those wretched conspira- 
tors,' replied Felicitas moodily. 

While Felicitas was making his plans with 
the Prime Minister another member of the 
( Jabinet was listening with astonishment to 
Geometrus' story ; for Geometrus having tra- 
velled to the city in his own electric car made 
up for lost time by beating the Emperor's 
horses in rapidity. Consequently, he arrived 
at the official residence of the Chancellor of 
the Exchequer, or Minister of Finance, about 
the same moment as Felicitas at the Prime 
Minister's. 

But Geometrus was not as well prepared 
with his statement as the Emperor. More- 
over, he was unaccustomed at seeking audi- 
ence of great people, and when he was ushered 
into the reception-hall of Lord Divesdale he 
felt exceedingly shy, scarcely knowing how to 
state his errand. 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 143 

1 My lord,' said he, and then stopped 
short, and blushed violently. 

' Pray be seated,' said the minister in a 
kindly tone, for he was well acquainted with 
Geometrus, and had an excellent opinion of 
him. 

1 I have somewhat to tell thy lordship,' he 
commenced anew. 

' What is it ? ' inquired Divesdale as he 
sank back in his armchair, in easy attitude. 

' It concerns Mistress Mercia, the Astro- 
nomer Royal,' he managed to utter. 

' Ah, whatever concerns Mistress Mercia 
interests me ; for she holds my good opinion,' 
observed the minister smiling, and giving 
Geometrus a nod of encouragement to pro- 
ceed. 

'I am heartily glad to learn that,' rejoined 
Geometrus, recovering himself, ' for she stands 
in need of good assistance at this moment.' 

'What is the matter — has she met with 
;iny serious accident?' inquired the minister 
in alarm. 

' She has met with that which is infinitely 
harder to bear to one of her pure mind, than 
any physical injury.' 



144 MERCIA 

' Thou speakest in riddles — pray explain 
thyself? ' returned his lordship a little sharply. 
for he was getting impatient. 

' My mistress has been grossly insulted 
by one who has taken advantage of his high 
position,' Geometrus proceeded to say, but 
evidently with much reluctance. 

' By whom — Prince Osbert ? ' queried his 
lordship hastily. 

' No, my lord, the Emperor himself,' an- 
swered Geometrus in a low voice, but lirm ; 
the tones of which betrayed also the pain it 
cost him to make the disclosure. 

' The Emperor ! ' repeated Lord Divesdale 
in profound amazement. 

' The same,' Geometrus replied laconically. 

' How — in what manner ? Pray tell me 
in a reasonable way what thou knowest of it?' 
exclaimed Divesdale impatiently. 

' The Emperor has been coming much of 
late to the Observatory. Last week he made 
a journey thither ostensibly to talk astronomy 
with Mistress Mercia. Yet I saw he looked 
annoyed at my entrance, and as if I had been 
an interruption to him. However, this day 
he came again, and as I was in the city 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 145 

at the time, he obtained good opportunity to 
say all he desired, presumably, for it finished 
with Mercia tearing herself out of his grasp 
and threatening to take his life if he detained 
her further. 

; Prince Osbert, who had followed the Em- 
peror to the Observatory for some purpose, 
entered the building at the same moment as 
myself, and we two suddenly came upon the 
scene just as Mercia had opened the door of 
the apartment to leave him. I looked into 
her face and saw it expressed the utmost 
scorn and indignation. " What is the mean- 
ing of this ? " I asked, turning to the Em- 
peror. " Oh, nothing,'' he replied ; " she has 
forgotten a duty, and I am upbraiding her."' 
" Liar ! " exclaimed Mercia, " ask thine Empress 
to come hither, I have somewhat to tell her. 
and as for thee — find some other to fill my 
post, for I am thine astronomer no longer." 

' Notwithstanding Mercia's indignant refu- 
tation the Emperor persisted with his charge 
against her of idleness, and disobedience to 
his command ; when I told him plainly that 
the matter should be made subject of a 
public inquiry ; for Mercia was too honour- 



146 MERC I A 

able and pure-minded to invent a foul charge 
against anyone, least of all her royal master. 

'At this critical moment who should 
emerge from a corner of the apartment but 
Sadbae, the leading Radical member of Par- 
liament ? "I too, will take care that this be 
seen into ! " he exclaimed. At this, the Em- 
peror fumed furiously, and declared that it 
was all a plot against him, and lie would have 
the three of us arrested for conspiring to 
defame his character ; and finished by calling 
it high treason.' 

' How utterly absurd of him ! But how 
did Sadbag come to be there so conveniently!-' 
it is as good as a comedy, by Jove ! ' 

' He explained that he was first in Mercia's 
reception-room awaiting an audience of her, 
and by chance taking up a book he became 
so interested in it that he finished by falling 
asleep over it, so that the entrance of the 
Emperor, and a moment later of Mercia, he 
was quite unconscious of ; a screen stood 
between him and them, consequently his pre- 
sence was unperceived : and he only became 
aware of theirs when the Emperor in impas- 
sioned tones pleaded his love suit with Mercia, 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 147 

who disdained it. By that time Sadbag 
deemed it prudent to keep quiet, for he was 
getting more than he bargained, when he 
ensconced himself in the huge easy chair near 
the screen.' 

' What a shocking old man to spy at a 
love scene ! I wonder how he contained him- 
self so long ! ' exclaimed Divesdale, who was 
bursting with merriment, for he ever saw the 
comic side of a thing, however grave it might 
be. ' The Emperor must apologise to fair 
Mercia, and to thee, too, Geometrus. Throw 
aside thy dignity, et cetera, and help to square 
this piece of business ; it's no earthly use 
making a hue and cry over it. No lady 
cares to see herself a town talk ! But this 
Sadbag — what are we to do with him ? He 
truly is a sad bag of cranks ! A piece of 
positive electricity, seeking its own level, 
not considering consequences ; or a Hash of 
forked lightning ready to put one on toast ; 
or a match in a powder-box ready to pop 
— the man is in fact, too dangerous for any- 
thing.' 

4 He's the right man for the times! I'm 
not going to put the stopper on him. The 

L 'I 



148 MERC I A 

Emperor must be made an example of,' re- 
turned Geometrus fiercely. 

' I hope not, by Jove ! the peace of the 
community would be permanently spoilt, if 
we all followed his example,' observed his 
lordship drily. 

' I mean that the Emperor should be 
made a warning to all light-minded persons, 
in general, and monarchs in particular.' 

' Quite so : the Emperor by our endea- 
vours shall be made more particular, especially 
in his treatment of the ladies.' 

' And Sadbag is the right man to do it ! ' 
shouted Geometrus, who was getting quite 
warm with the discussion. 

' He's a right man in the wrong hole ! I 
mean he's got the Emperor in a queer hole, 
and he won't let him out of it ! The position 
doth wholly delight him. He'll take a holy 
joy in " taking it out of him," or " putting 
him up a tree," or making him eat humble 
pie, or what thou likest ! Oh, he's a sad dog 
or sadbag, I know not which, and no mis- 
take ! But we must circumvent him.' 

' I have no desire to circumvent him ; I 
would infinitely prefer to help him. I do not 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 149 

regard this affair in the same light as thou, 
and could have hushed it up without the aid 
of a Cabinet minister, for the Emperor desired 
the same on the spot, offering me promotion, 
but I refused it on such terms,' interposed 
Geometrus with much spirit. 

4 1 would that all men were as thou art, 
my friend, for then there would be neither 
place-maker nor place-seeker. What a per- 
fect Government we should have ; everyone 
seeking his neighbour's good to the detriment 
of his own ! The world indeed, would be too 
perfect for anything ! ' 

' No fear of that as long as there are those 
who strive to cover up ill-doing. I will seek 
Mr. Sadbag and get counsel of him, for it is 
very plain I can obtain no good advice from 
thee,' said Geometrus, who was altogether 
disgusted at the minister's light raillery, and 
rose from his seat to go away. 

' Stay, I hear familiar footsteps ! One 
seeks admission whom I would see before thou 
leavest me,' exclaimed the minister, who 
despite all his playful talk, knew how to act 
most wisely. 

• The Emperor ! Sire, thy visit is well- 



1 50 MERC I A 

timed ; one moment, in private, I beg,' and 
Divesdale conducted Felicitas into an inner 
apartment. 

' I require thy help and advice in a most 
painful matter,' quoth the Emperor, turning 
very red in the face, but his speech was in- 
terrupted by the minister in a very offhand 
manner. 

' Sire, not another word, I have heard the 
whole story — 'tis a frightful hobble, I must 
say. Truly a most diverting drama ! Beats 
broad burlesque to bits ! If society should 
get hold of this precious piece of scandal thy 
prestige will be ruined ! An Emperor is a 
god, or at least, a demigod, who should appear 
perfect before his people, whether he be or 
no. But, now, he must step down from his 
pedestal, and apologise, just to straighten 
tilings comfortably. Nay, it cannot be hard 
to kneel to a deity, for Mercia is no less ! All 
beautiful women are goddesses, let down from 
the skies for our adoration : 'tis very plain 
they were created for man's worship: away, 
then, and fall down upon thy knees and 
implore her mercy.' 

' But she will not hear me,' cried the 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 151 

Emperor taken aback by this unexpected 
harangue ; ' she is proud, haughty, and obdu- 
rate — ah, thou knowest not Mercia ! ' 

' The woman never breathed who could 
turn a deaf ear to the man who entreated her 
properly. Only kneel metaphorically, but 
talk to her prettily, and gaze into her eyes 
with tenderest pathos, and she will melt with 
pure pity for thy condition.' 

' I've done it all ! ' blurted the Emperor 
unwittingly. ' I mean it's no use, she is quite 
too hard-hearted to help me.' 

' I was sure of it, Sire, thou hast done too 
much already,' exclaimed Divesdale, with the 
audacity that is engendered of close intimacy. 
I will myself entreat her to overlook thy 
naughty conduct, and thy charges against 
the two men must be withdrawn. By taking 
conciliatory measures the thing may blow 
over ; but otherwise it may prove very un- 
pleasant for thy Majesty.' 

Thus with his raillery, for the Emperor 
and he were familiar friends, Divesdale had 
discovered the truth ; and now knew for 
certain what the other minister only guessed 
at. 



J 52 MERC I A 

• Conciliatory measures ! ' repeated the 
Emperor, who had by this time recovered 
himself, and who knew that he had already 
gone too far to be able to retract with any 
show of respectability, ' impossible ! She 
threatened my life, and my prime minister 
has commanded that a warrant be issued for 
her detention.' 

' Surely thy Majesty cannot be in earnest ? ' 

' I never was more so,' the Emperor 
answered with an assumption of haughti- 
ness. 

' What about Sadbag and Geometrus ? ' 

' They too will get served with the same 
sauce,' replied Felicitas, with true autocratic 
audacity. 

' Has the prime minister really advised 
this measure ? ' inquired Divesdale gravely. 

1 1 have commanded it,' returned the 
Emperor sharply. 

k On what grounds ? ' 

' Conspiracy ; the three had conspired to 
scandalise me, and take away my character.' 

' And they'll do it too ! ' cried Divesdale, 
with his characteristic impulsiveness. 

' They shall have the opportunity of 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 153 

publicly doing what they were bent on 
privately.' 

' He has turned dotty, I'm sure of it,' 
thought Divesdale, ' in a monarch a little mad- 
ness is a great danger. Well,' said he aloud, 
' thy Majesty hath chosen thine own course and 
must abide by it, for I will wash my hands of 
the affair.' 

1 Oh, wash away ! ' said Felicitas testily. 

' Thine action against the two men is 
illegal : no warrant for their imprisonment 
can be issued : their fault is merely libel, and 
all Sovereigns are used to that ! ' interposed 
the minister drily. 

' Thou makest a mistake there, friend,' 
answered the Emperor with a wise look, 
' remember my royal mother, Victoria the 
Second, who led such a virtuous life and was 
so proud thereof, that when the " Times " 
newspaper published a paragraph announcing 
that she was about to marry her late hus- 
band's father she was so scandalised thereby 
that she caused an Act to be passed decreeing 
that anyone who uttered a serious scandal 
against the reigning Sovereign should be 
indicted for high treason, for she held that 



154 MERC I A 

the good name of the Sovereign should be 
considered as sacred as their person ; under 
this Act, therefore, are these two scandal- 
mongers to be arrested.' 

' Ah, yes, I had forgotten it ! .But that 
trifle would not be scandal now. Only twelve 
months ago thy hand signed an Act permitting 
thy subjects to marry whom they will, save 
those in the first degree of consanguinity. A 
man may marry his grandmother now, if he 
choose ! ' 

' Of course,' admitted the Emperor, ' only 
he does not choose, as a rule.' 

' It is inadvisable from every point of view : 
nowadays one's grandmother attains such 
longevity that to marry her for her fortune, 
is like turning monk for a livelihood : a man's 
freedom arrives when 'tis not worth the 
having, for she goes on living until he be- 
comes grey-headed.' 

' True ! But this is not my business ! ' 
broke in the Emperor impatiently, ' let us 
discuss what more nearly concerns me. Can 
I count on thy good service in this matter, or 
no ? ' 

' Call a Cabinet Council,' suggested Dives- 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 155 

dale, 'in the multitude of councillors we shall 
get wisdom,' he added, quoting from very 
ancient history. 

The Emperor made a gesture of impatience 
at this sally, for he felt the minister was 
drawing him, and took his departure forth- 
with. 

The thought instantly crossed the minis- 
ter's mind that the affair would make a very 
interesting plot for his next novel ; for he was 
a favourite novelist whose works were wel- 
comed by the people for their merit, and not 
because they were written by a popular 
minister of the State. 

' If we could only put the actual occur- 
rences of life as they appear before our eyes 
into our works what rattling good stories we 
could write ! ' laughed Divesdale, as he threw 
himself into his easy chair for a smoke and a 
soliloquy. 

Ideals of art and literature are as subject 
to change and remodelling as are theories of 
natural science, which are bound to give way 
as the light of knowledge reveals little by 
little the true conditions of the mysteries of 
life and its environments. Accordingly lite- 



156 MERC I A 

rature-making had its fashions ; a reaction 
had taken place, and from the field of novel 
writing which had been in the past almost 
entirely filled by lady writers, these were now 
self-eliminated ; women having successfully 
taken up the positions of historians, mathe- 
maticians, political economists, and expounders 
of natural and mental philosophies. So suc- 
cessful was the female in the writing of books 
designed for instruction that no male had a 
chance in this walk of literature, unless he 
assumed a feminine pen-name, and by this 
harmless subterfuge gain a reputation in spite 
of his sex. 

Science as applied to manufactures had 
reached such perfection that the stones for 
building purposes were now manufactured, 
the stone quarries, as a matter of course, 
having almost given out. By a cunning ad- 
mixture of chemically prepared material whose 
chief substance was composed of silicious sand 
brought from the pathless deserts by electric 
motive power, at a comparatively small ex- 
pense, this granular quartz, or flint under cer- 
tain conditions was reconverted into beautiful 
slabs of stone, of hard and enduring quality. 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 157 

It was no uncommon sight to see whole 
streets, or terraces of handsome houses built 
apparently of blocks of glittering granite 
which sparkled bravely in the sunlight : nor 
were these imitations confined to one sort, for 
various marbles were so closely imitated, and 
withal so hard and enduring that the villas 
of the middle classes bore the appearance of 
veritable marble halls. Inside the walls were 
not papered, but finished with a dressing of 
apparently beautiful marble, while a wainscot- 
ing of richly embroidered silk velvet im- 
parted an air of comfort to the rooms ; a by 
no means unwelcome addition, for the climate 
of England, like the poor, is always with us. 



i=8 MERCIA 



CHAPTER VII 

When Mercia retired to her private apart- 
ment she hardly knew whither she was going. 
At iirst she entered her usual sitting-room, 
then suddenly she made a turn and rushed 
into her bedchamber where making sure there 
could be no interruption she gave vent to the 
sorrow and indignation that tilled her breast, 
in a passionate flood of tears. For even 
the twentieth-century woman was not illachry- 
mable, being in this respect pretty much the 
same as the most remote of her feminine 
ancestors. 

In a few moments, however, she recovered 
herself, and began to consider her situation, 
or rather her loss of situation, for she had 
inconsiderately thrown it up in the heat of 
her anger with the Emperor. Not for an 
instant did the thought cross her mind of 
withdrawing her resignation, or of making any 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 159 

attempt at reconciliation with the monarch, 
whose utterly heartless and cowardly conduct 
filled her with intense contempt, and disgust. 
As soon as the tumult of her feelings had 
subsided she returned to her sitting-room and 
wrote out her letter of resignation, wherein 
she explained in modest yet dignified terms 
her reasons for taking this step ; expressing 
at the same time the terrible sacrifice it was 
costing her in thus throwing up a position 
which was so specially adapted to her sym- 
pathies and pursuits, and of which there was 
no hope of obtaining an adequate substitute 
elsewhere. 

When the letter was completed she re- 
membered Geometrus and wishful to satisfy 
him by making him fully acquainted with her 
movements she put it through the copying 
press with a view of showing him its contents ; 
then ringing for a messenger it was de- 
spatched through the post without delay, that 
it might be received in due order by the head 
of the governmental department. 

Having gone thus far she began to feA 
more settled in her mind, satisfied insomuch 
that she felt she had done the right thine in 



160 MERC I A 

resigning a position which exposed her to the 
importunities of a patron who had proved 
as unprincipled in purpose as he was sensual 
in inclinations. Then she began to torment 
herself with the reflection that she had not 
proved such an icewoman as she had pre- 
viously imagined herself to be. ' Yes,' she 
owned to herself, ' there was a moment when 
the power of his passion moved me, and I 
could have yielded to the seduction of the 
senses, pictured by him as the essence of love, 
until I remembered there was a barrier that 
micht not be moved ; no, not for the allure- 
ments of a century of deliciousness would I 
defraud another of one iota of the affection 
which was sworn for all time to be hers. 

' I have refused, perhaps, the crown of an 
Empress to take the lowly condition of a poor 
scholar out of place ; but I have remained 
true to myself, and to my sex, and before all 
things have kept my heart and hands clean : 
I have earned the approval of my conscience, 
and my night-pillow is not made restless with 
the self-torture of knowing I had indicted an 
endless misery on another, and that other 
made like unto myself; with all the capacities 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 161 

of su fieri ng, having to drink daily of life's 
bitterest mortifications. 

'But what a deadly traitor I have nar- 
rowly escaped — what a contemptible monster 
lie has proved himself, to thus turn on me 
like an adder !' 

His threat of having her indicted for high 
treason gave her, however, no uneasiness, for 
it only inspired her with the utmost scorn. 
She dismissed it from her mind as having 
been on his part merely the outcome of 
ungovernable anger at being exposed before 
his enemy, as Sadbag undauntedly owned 
himself to be. How a man could express the 
most profound attachment for her at one 
moment, and seek her destruction at the next, 
seemed to her pure mind so monstrous and 
wholly unnatural that its possibility in her 
case was altogether out of the question. 

That Felicitas would actually go the 
lengths of formally making such an infamous 
accusation she could not bring herself to 
believe. Thus she sat deeply pondering over 
the situation for at least two hours, unheeding 
the passage of time in which startling doings 
were taking place in the outside world, when 

M 



1 62 MERCIA 

she was interrupted by a double announce- 
ment, dinner, and the advent of Sadbag. 

1 In a brown study, I see!' exclaimed the 
old man as he entered the apartment, ' can 
I be of any use to thee?' 

' Thrice welcome,' she answered quickly ; 
' this solitude is unbearable : I was longing 
for some sympathising friend in whose ears I 
could pour forth my trouble.' 

' Thou art in a queer quandary, certainly,' 
quoth Sadbag in gentle tones, which were not 
wanting in sly humour, ' nevertheless, there 
will be somebody in a bigger by to-morrow 
morning.' 

' To whom dost thou refer?' 

' To Felicitas of course : the Emperor shall 
learn ere another twenty-four hours the opinion 
of the nation anent profligacy.' 

' What hast thou done in this matter, 
Master Sadbag,' said Mercia anxiously, ' pray 
tell me, for only an hour ago I sent in my 
resignation ? ' 

' Sent thy resignation ! ' repeated Sadbag, 
' why Mistress Mercia, there's no occasion for 
that ! It is the Figure Head Felicitas who 
should resign ; for having no worthy occu- 
pation to fill his time he must needs get into 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 163 

mischief; in much the same manner as those 
empty-headed puppies who dawdle about the 
squares feasting their eyes on every comely 
woman who is on her way home from her 
office, or business. Down with the monarchy. 
I say, if this be all it is good for ! Indeed, we 
have had enough of it. Look at the centuries 
of oppression that Russia has gone through ! 
The country knew no real freedom until she 
shook off the thraldom of despotism and all 
its concomitant tyrannies.' 

' Yes,' replied Mercia earnestly, ' Eussia 
lias attained the joys of a Constitutional 
Monarchy through rivers of human blood ; 
devastating floods of fire, and seas of darkest 
misery : is it indeed worth the cost of such 
terrible sacrifices ? ' 

' Xo great victory has ever been achieved 
save at infinite sacrifice. True, it was a 
mighty one, but the result is worthy of it. 
The struggle was long and severe ; but greater 
severities have been put an end to — the cruel- 
ties of oppression wrought upon millions of 
helpless beings, which were accentuated bv 
the conditions of civilisation and enlighten- 

c 

ment that surrounded them.' 

M 2 



1 64 MERC I A 

' Civilisation and enlightenment are of no 
avail unless the heart be true, and the con- 
science good. If the moral nature be at 
fault what avails the enlightenment of ages ? ' 
observed Mercia thoughtfully. 

' The occurrences of to-day is a case in 
point,' continued Sadbag ; ' in all history have 
we a parallel instance of meanness, cruelty, 
and downright dishonesty as this experience 
with the Emperor ? But I have come to give 
thee good tidings — I think I have settled him. 
To-morrow the whole world will ring of his 
doings. His hypocrisy, his deceit, and his 
cowardice will make him the object of detes- 
tation to all. The four quarters of the earth 
have got the stor}^ word for word, and we 
shall see what comes of it.' 

' Sadbag, what hast thou done ? ' demanded 
Mercia with eyes of fire and cheek of flame. 

' Fear nothing, sweet lady, thy fair fame 
hath been kept guarded and unsullied by me. 
Xot a word is given of which thou needest be 
ashamed. In this recital thou art truly pic- 
tured ; gentle, modest, and unsuspecting up 
to the point where knowledge is forced upon 
thee, and the deceiver shows his hand. Then, 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 165 

the art of the seducer utterly fails in its pur- 
pose, for thine irreproachable virtue shielded 
thee as a coat of armour ; thy sense of honour 
to thy fellow-woman was as a wall of defence 
to thy shoulders, for thou didst refuse the 
most tempting blandishments rather than 
blight the happiness of a wife ; albeit thou 
wert offered the crown of an Empress as the 
reward of thy dishonour. But what of tin- 
letter of resignation ; I wish I had seen it 
beforehand ; for the Emperor makes a bitter 
enemy, and will revile thee soundly to his 
ministers ? ' 

' I think I have made myself pretty clear,' 
replied Mercia, who had considerably calmed 
down by this time ; ' here is a copy of my 
letter ; read it.' 

' Good ! ' exclaimed Sadbag as soon as he 
had finished perusing the document ; ' this is 
fine ! Canst thou trust it with me for one 
night and I will return it to-morrow morning 
without fail ? ' 

' Seeing thou hast done so much already.* 
returned Mercia in a weary tone of voice, 
' there can be no harm in giving it thee to 
make what use thou mayest choose. But, 



166 MERCIA 

listen, here comes Geometrus — I will invite 
him to dine with us, and we three will discuss 
the matter together.' 

At the next moment Geometrus had entered 
the apartment, and startled the two with the 
look of painful concern on his countenance. 

' Why so glum, my friend ? ' cried Sadbag 
cheerily ; ' this is but a passing cloud which 
will be carried away presently by the fair 
breezes of public opinion. No one can hurt 
thee, or Mercia : I cannot say so much for 
myself, for indeed I have meddled considerably 
in this business, and nobody knows how it 
will turn out for me. But ye twain are inno- 
cent victims, and have naught to fear in this 
advanced period of the world's history. Truth 
and justice should prevail in the dawn of the 
twenty-first century, if ever it is to prevail at 
all on this earth. Ah, I wonder if anything 
approaching perfection can ever be reached 
here ! ' 

' Our present day litterateurs,' observed 
Mercia, ' felicitate themselves that we are in 
the enjoyment of such an advanced civilisation 
as the world has never seen in the past, or 
possible to attain in the future. But thou, 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 167 

Sad bag, seest much to improve in the political 
arena, and I see much to be discovered in 
the world of Nature. We have still to learn 
how to rule the elements. As yet, the winds 
and the storms, and the waters, are our 
masters. The time will arrive when these 
shall be our servants to come and go at our 
will. The rains it is true now water the earth 
at our desire, but soon the winds shall be 
dispersed by our art, and the heaving waves 
of the ocean shall be made subservient to our 
will ; not by the wand of the sorcerer, but by 
the hand of that more wonderful magician — 
Science. When man lias made Nature to obey 
his behests then that extraordinary time shall 
have arrived that the prophets dreamed of in 
the far-off ages, which they symbolised by the 
metaphor of the lion and the lamb lying side 
by side. This, indeed, is the true millennium 
for which all may ardently pray ; for it is 
the earth-glory awaiting the planet-dwellers 
of our sun's system, yea, of every star system 
throughout the whole of the vast uni- 
verse.' 

Mercia paused, and looked at her friends, 
as if inquiring if she might proceed. 



1 63 MERC I A 

' Go on,' said Sadbag, ' we delight to listen 
to thee.' 

' Ah, it is all very wonderful ! The field 
of science possesses still untrodden paths : 
mystery upon mystery are yet to be made 
clear ; the hidden secrets of psychology are 
still in darkness; we know not of what stuff 
we are made. What is soul — what is mind? 
We cannot definitely define them : we know 
only the manner in which these express them- 
selves to our physical nature : the spiritual is 
wrapped in impenetrable mystery. How is it 
that one man utters the truths of a prophet, 
and another can hardly be made to under- 
stand what is going on before his eyes ? Of 
course it is a difference in brain-power, the 
physiologist tells us, but how is it that a more 
or less quantity of grey brain-substance can 
give inspiration, knowledge, genius, power, 
imagination, and even prescience ? Who can 
answer that? When this question is solved 
then is the chief millennium reached.' 

' Let me have a word now,' said Sadbag, 
whose eyes glistened with the enthusiasm that 
inspired him for the moment ; ' when the 
insignia of Eoyalty is done away with ; when 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 169 

kings are a luxury of the past, and Emperors 
are persons of bygone history; when liberty 
and equality are recognised everywhere ; when 
exorbitant taxes are no longer levied on the 
poor ; when society recognises the duty of 
honesty and purity towards each other, and 
the golden rule is abided by, then is the 
millennium ! Each of us has his goal, his ideal ; 
this is my ideal, and this is the religion I 
would have preached by the expounders of 
faiths, and of doctrines. Scientific discoveries 
are being made step by step, first this experi- 
ment, and then that. One man finds a glint 
of light, and theorises on it, and he passes 
away, and another takes it up and examines 
it further, and presently discovers a wider 
field of vision, and he has dreams of its utili- 
sation, but they end there ; and a third, 
having had an excellent foundation to start 
with, finishes by discovering how to apply the 
knowledge to useful purposes, and gains the 
reward ; for the first sowed, and the last 
reaped ; and he will give his name to the 
invention, and will be hailed as the great 
genius, the true discoverer.' 

' Yes,' observed Mercia in reply to her 



170 MERCIA 

guest, as seated at table she dispensed her 
hospitalities with thoughtful care, ' they are 
all links in one great chain, one following the 
other in due order, displaying a complete 
system, which is governed by fixed laws, that 
may not be transgressed without penalty. 
But, say, Geometrus,' uttered Mercia anxiously, 
' how has it fared with thee — why art thou so 
melancholy ? ' 

' I cannot help it,' he answered, sighing 
deeply the while ; ' a great misfortune is over- 
shadowing the three of us.' 

Mercia regarded him earnestly. ' What is 
it ? ' she asked. 

' The Emperor's threat, I'll be bound ! ' 
growled out Sadbag. 

' The same,' answered Geometrus gloomily ; 
4 1 have just come from Divesdale, the Minister 
of Finance, who was having converse with the 
Emperor upon the subject, and he tells me 
Felicitas is bent upon punishing us, yea, the 
whole three — even Mercia is not to be spared.' 

* Yea, rather he is working the punishment 
that's to fall on his own pate ! ' laughed Sad- 
bag contemptuously. ' When the proper time 
comes I possess indisputable proof to show in 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 171 

open court of the truth of my statement, which 
will place that of Mercia beyond doubt also ; 
and thou, Geometrus, being only an accessory 
in the affair, and not a chief actor, when we 
are cleared thou wilt be also. Be assured this 
bogus prosecution will be promptly stopped 
unless we insist on its full development.' 

' And where wilt thou obtain all this con- 
vincing evidence ? There's naught but our 
bare word to support our statements : the 
highest potentate of the realm and the police- 
man can never swear falsely ? ' remarked 
Mercia, cynically, who was awakening to the 
gravity of the situation. 

' We shall be arrested to-morrow, at latest,' 
interpolated the young man, ' the warrants are 
being made out at this moment.' 

' Capital ! ' shouted the elder man, slapping 
his knee exultingly, ' I wouldn't miss the scene 
at the trial for a kingdom ! ' 

■ Oh, Sadbag, thou art horrid ! ' cried 
Mercia deprecatingly, ' I shall never survive 
the disgrace of it ! ' 

' Say, rather, thou wilt be too shy to sur- 
vive the honour of it ! Mercia, mark me, 
the day of thy trial will be the dawn of thy 



172 MERC I A 

glory. Truth will triumph this time, not- 
withstanding the world's wickedness. The 
words of our ancient Solomon shall be veri- 
fied — " A virtuous woman is as a crown to 
her husband," et cetera ; ' and Sadbag looked 
slily at Geometrus, for an irrepressible humour 
was ever bubbling up within him. 

' But I haven't a husband,' murmured 
Mercia, blushingly, ' so how can I thus adorn 
him?' 

' The man and the opportunity are await- 
ing thee : the one at thy elbow, the other 
looming near,' explained Sadbag archly. 

It was Geometrus's turn to blush now, 
which he did most becomingly, — ' If Sadbag 
means me,' he faltered out, ' I would fain be 
the man, I confess ; but where is the oppor- 
tunity ? It seems to me that it was never 
so distant as at present, and it was at all 
times too far to give hope.' 

'Modesty doth well become youth, but it 
is ill-placed in cases of the heart. He that is 
daring gains the goal, but the fainthearted 
gives up the race. It is true ye twain are in 
a predicament, having lost your appointments, 
but you are no worse off than if this mis- 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 173 

fortune had never befallen you, for marriage 
would have brought a like result. I propose,' 
Sadbag proceeded to say, ' that thou Geo- 
metrus shalt ask Divesdale for the appointment 
of Head of the Eoyal College of Natural 
Science, where thou wilt have pcwer to ap- 
point all its various professors., and lecturers. 
As astronomy is one of the principal subjects 
taught, give Mercia the post of Chief Astro- 
nomical Lecturer, which carries no bar to 
marriage. Now isn't that plan most excel- 
lent ! I flatter myself it is a capital thought!' 

' It's splendid, yet it possesses a fault ! " 
exclaimed Geometrus, whose spirits began to 
rise at the bright prospect held before him ; 
' could not Mercia ask Divesdale for the ap- 
pointment of Principal, and give me the sub- 
ordinate position of Professor ? ' 

'Whichever way you two choose to put 
it,' replied Sadbag merrily ; ' after all, when I 
come to consider it I believe Mercia would 
stand the better chance with the minister : 
the nation at large, too, would be more satis- 
fied, as she hath renown and much goodwill 
of the people.' 

'I feel as if I were already installed, and 



174 MERCIA 

am longing to award places of honour to all 
my friends,' broke in Mercia sweetly. ' What 
post, dear Sadbag, can I give thee ? Political 
Expounder, or Professor of Ecouomics ? Name 
the article and it shall be forthcoming ; for I 
fain would testify my gratitude for the honest 
jroodwill thou dost show me.' 

' I want naught for myself,' replied the old 
man with a comic shake of the head, ' but I 
have a grand-daughter ready to leave school 
whom I would wish to enter the said College 
as a student. It would much oblige me if 
thou wouldst examine her and judge for which 
science she is best fitted. She must select 
one subject and bottom it thoroughly ; I think 
chemistry to be the most preferable.' 

' Chemistry ! ' repeated Mercia smiling, 
' why my dear sir, that's a very big order, 
for it possesses several important branches, 
each one a study of itself. One should be 
selected, and then there's a possibility of 
imparting something useful to thy grand- 
daughter. Nowadays no one has a chance 
of success if he attempt too much — this is 
the day of the Specialist ! ' 

' It isn't every day one has a chance of a 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 175 

good talk with a lady of such renown as thee, 
so I will benefit myself by taking the oppor- 
tunity,' remarked Sadbag in a tone of great 
content ; ' I have a grandson also, what shall 
I do with him ? ' 

'How old is he?' inquired Geometrus, 
who thought it was time to put in an oar. 

' Sixteen, and as comely a youth as ever 
was seen. But he has no liking for abstruse 
studies, and it is little use sending him to 
college with his sister. Can you suggest 
something that is likely to prove agreeable 
to his cast of mind ? ' 

'Article him to a marble manufacturer,' 
replied Geometrus eagerly ; ' it is the grandest 
trade going. We want marbles and granites 
for every building, nowadays; we cannot 
obtain enough of them. There is plenty of 
scope for further invention, for instance, por- 
phyry has not yet been successfully imitated 
but in appearance only, for it is too brittle 
for any purpose necessitating strength and 
durability. A new " Stone Age " is dawning, 
for not a brick will be used save in the cottage 
of the poorest. Our large towns and cities 
will present greater beauty than classic Italy 



176 MERC I A 

saw in its best days ; fur they will be filled 
with splendid halls and residences built ap- 
parently of various rare and costly marbles, 
designed in high artistic form and stately 
structure. What a wonderful age we are 
coming to, when the distant sands of Sahara 
are brought to our shores and reconverted to 
their original solidity ! It is like a fairy tale 
of ancient days this transformation of the 
crumbled rock of ages to the original com- 
pactness of solid blocks of glittering stone. 
Who is the sorcerer of the modern time ? 
The Geological-Chemist. 

' Diamond making is as nothing compared 
with this useful manufacture, for it converts 
the ugliness of cheap brick buildings into the 
beauties of palaces. Even the sea sand on 
our own shores are cleansed and united with 
chemically prepared material, and made to 
form a hard and impenetrable silicious stone, 
more enduring than what it was in its pristine 
solidity.' 

Sadbag looked serious as Geometrus di- 
lated on the usefulness of Geologic-chemistry ; 
then he remarked — 'I imagined that chemis- 
try had attained its limits, and further im- 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 177 

provements in manufactures impossible, al- 
most, but I see with your eyes, Geometrus. 
and quite understand that the world is still in 
its infancy, although it believes it is acquainted 
with everything already.' 

' So they thought a hundred years ago ! ' 
observed Geometrus laughingly ; ' the people 
of that time actually imagined they had 
scaled the extreme heights of knowledge ami 
there was nothing left to learn. But hark ! ' 
he exclaimed in an excited undertone, ' there's 
a ring at the great door — who comes at this 
hour ? Is it the warrants, I wonder ! It is. 
There are the police,' continued he as he rose 
and looked through the window, ' and the 
police-van ready to accommodate us! Oh, 
Mercia is it possible that thou must suffer 
this degradation ? ' 

' She shall not ! ' exclaimed Sad bag 
vehemently,. ' as long as there's a breath left 
in this body of mine. My first thought was 
to fly,' he continued hurriedly, ' on account of 
this copy of her letter which I was about 
sending to the Press for publication ; but 1 
will hide it in this vase instead, and get my 

N 



i ;8 MERCIA 

solicitor to fetch it away afterwards ; for I will 
now stand my ground for Mercia's sake. She 
shall be conveyed to prison in her own car- 
riage, or not at all, there's no law to hinder 
that, I warrant. We three shall all go to- 
gether, but I would have preferred my liberty 
a little longer for I have much to do before 
getting my incarceration.' 

k Hide behind the screen again ! ' whispered 
Mercia, ' no one knows thou art here ; it 
is easy enough to do ; and thou canst report 
upon the manner in which I am treated, it" 
need be — dost understand ? ' 

' Perfectly, I will do it, and come out if I 
see necessary,' agreed the old man with a 
roguish beam in his eyes, while he slipped be- 
hind in a twinkle. He had no sooner dis- 
appeared than the constables entered the 
apartment, which they did in a somewhat 
hesitating manner. Evidently, they did not at 
all relish their work, for the inmates of the 
Observatory, as well as the place itself inspired 
them with respect. 

* Why this intrusion on a lady in her 
private apartment?' demanded Geometrus 
haughtily ; for he considered they ought to 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 179 

have remained in the entrance hall, until their 
errand was explained. 

'What is your wish ?' inquired Mercia in 
quiet tones. 

' Mistress, I have brought with me a docu- 
ment, an ugly document, truly, to show a 
lady, and to such a one as thou it is indeed 
vexatious to have the handling of it. Never- 
theless, it has been entrusted to me, and obedi- 
ence is the first great principle of all order. 
Therefore, very unwillingly, I confess, I call 
upon thee in the Emperor's name to surrender 
thyself — here is my authority,' and he held 
out the warrant for her perusal, still keeping 
las hold of it. When she had finished, she 
stood for a moment thinking, whereupon he 
stepped forward to lead her away, when 
Mercia falling back a little, drew herself up 
haughtily, and exclaimed — 'Touch me not, 
fellow, I will leave this house of mine own 
accord when 1 am fully prepared for mv 
journey, for I must attire myself suitably be- 
fore going into the night air, also my carriage 
must be made ready for me.' 

' We have brought the ordinary police- 
van by special order of the Emperor, we dare 



1S0 MEKCIA 

not let any other be used,' interpolated 
another officer, for there were three of them. 

' The police-van for me ! ' repeated Mercia 
indignantly, ' and by the Emperor's orders 
too ! What has the Emperor to do with the 
administration of the law ? I refuse to obey 
such an order.' 

'And rightly so,' interjected Geometrus 
hotly, then turning with furious face upon the 
constables, he added — ' This lady goes with 
you in her own carriage, or not at all.' 

' What is that to thee ? ' returned the 
sergeant of police sharply, ' a pretty person 
to lay down conditions to us, and dictate how 
we are to perform our duty, seeing thou art 
in the same boat thyself. Here is the warrant 
for thy apprehension ; and get thee ready 
quickly.' 

'If you touch her, any of you, against her 
will, I will strike him dead with my electric 
dagger!' shouted Geometrus, who was beside 
himself with anger. 

* There are more daggers than thine, 
young man,' exclaimed one of the men 
roughly, as he rushed towards Geometrus 
with his handcuffs opened ready to clasp them 



THE ASTROAOMER ROYAL 18] 

iii an instant; but Geometrus was too quick 
for him, and tripping the constable with his 
foot, the latter staggered to the ground awk- 
wardly, while the handcuffs were dashed out 
of his grasp with a deft blow from Geometrus. 
Then the other two constables springing t > 
the aid of their fellow took hold of Geometrus. 
one at either side, and a desperate struggle 
was about to commence, but at this juncture 
out rushed Sadbag from his hiding place ex- 
claiming — ' Why all this bubbery, ye idiots, 
what matters it what sort of vehicle you use 
for their conveyance so that you get your 
prisoners safe in quod ? That is enough for 
you! Let the lady go as she will, and no 
more nonsense about it, otherwise I will make 
it pretty hot, both for you and your masters, 
afterwards.' 

• Now this is mighty convenient !' said the 
sergeant dryly, for he held the warrant for 
Sadbag as well ; ' we want thee also, my good 
fellow, and thou hast saved us much trouble 
by popping out to lecture us ; thou couldst 
not repress thy speechifying instincts, even to 
save thy liberty ! I arrest thee, Joseph Sad- 

:. in the name of the Emperor Felicitas 1 



1 82 MERCIA 

Here is my authority,' and he pulled out of 
his side pocket the document for Sadbag'a 
perusal. 

1 Oh, I know all about it,' answered the 
old man testily, 'I am willing enough to 
become thy prisoner only let it be done 
quietly and decently, for the Emperor will 
have sufficient to answer for without adding 
further insult to this lady. He has already 
done that which will disgust every decent 
minded person in his realms.' 

' Let him take charge of his own business ; 
'tis his affair, and I will perform mine,' replied 
the sergeant doggedly. 

'You might come to a compromise.' 
pleaded Sadbag in insinuating tones, 'I have 
saved you heaps of labour, trouble and 
exertion in lying in wait, and watching for 
me all over London by unexpectedly dropping 
myself into your hands. Show your gra- 
titude, my friends, by letting Mistress Mercia 
take her seat in her own carriage, and one of 
your constables may accompany her, while 
this gentleman and myself will go in the 
police-van, with the remaining two of you, 
and we will pass our word of honour not to 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 183 

overpower you, and seek to escape. Xow are 
you satisfied ? ' 

1 Very well,' agreed the sergeant gruffly, 
' we will take the offer — only make haste !' 

' It is quite dark outside, Geometrus,' 
observed the old man, 'no one will be any the 
wiser as to who are the occupants of the van : 
I don't much matter it myself — nevertheless, 
I will sue the Government for damage to my 
reputation, for this act will accentuate the 
situation.' 

' I care not for myself one whit,' returned 
the younger man in a pained tone ; ' but I am 
heartily glad thou hast succeeded in saving 
Mercia such an unnecessary disgrace.' 

'I hope we shan't be kept a month of 
Sundays in our cells, for I am simply dying 
to make my denouement in court,' whispered 
Sadbag to his friend, as he nimbly tripped 
down the broad staircase that led to the 
entrance hall, with the policemen following at 
their heels. 

' For the life of me I can't imagine what 
thou art driving at — what the deuce is thy 
denouement?' inquired Geometrus impatiently. 

' Qui vivra verra ! ' laughed Sadbag lightly ; 



1 84 MERCIA 

4 " He that lives longest sees most ;" I mean to 
create a diversion in court.' 

'A diversion!' repeated the young ma 
in dismay. 

'Well, maybe that's not exactly the word 
for it ; I am not a flowery phraser : I mean 
to create an impression that may prove a 
diversion, or a lesson, an example, a warning, 
a farce, a terror, a maxim, a moral, a proverb, 
a motto ; a subject for comic cuts, for high 
art paintings ; for pulpit sermons, stump 
orators, parsons, preachers, and petticoats to 
moralise on; 'twill be a lesson to perjurers, 
profligates, and hypocrites, generally; and at 
the finish each will say to his neighbour — 
AVI 1 at a capital dodge, I wonder no one ever 
thought of doing that before ! ' and the old 
fellow rubbed his hands in high glee, at the 
thought of his plan, the success of which he 
felt would amply repay him for all the in- 
conveniences of his most inopportune con- 
finement. 

By this time Mercia's carriage was in 
readiness, for it only required a few minutes' 
attention to put it in working order, and soon 
the quartette, each under the influence of his 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 1S5 

own emotions, watched the light barouche 
roll quickly along the smooth macadamised 
roadway, for only heavy trams and waggons 
used the rails with which the principal streets 
and roads were provided, lighter vehicles not 
requiring such aids to locomotion. 

' Farewell, my Mercia,' the young man 
had whispered in her ear, just before turning 
on the force ; for the driver had taken the 
steering gear ; ' be strong and of good hope, 
Sadbag is our saviour, we have nought to 
fear with his clear head and true heart to 
help us.' 

' Surely the gods will help their own 
sister ! ' exclaimed Sadbag gallantly, as he 
raised his hat in making a last adieu. ' Wait 
till the lucky bag is presented thee for a dip, 
and thou wilt see what a prize comes to thy 
hand ! ' 



i 36 MERC I A 



CHAPTER VIII 

( As atom unto atom firmly lies, 
Obeying blindly that great law which makes 
Subservient even lifeless matter; wakes 
An energy, a force, whose hidden ties 
Bind animate or inanimate in wise 

True, order. . . . Thus are we twain commingled. . .' 
Idylls, Legends and Lyrics. 

Peeiiaps the most wonderful of all the dis- 
coveries of this period was that of psycho- 
magnetic sympathy, or psychic-energy, which 
was found to pervade the nerve-centres of all 
human beings, in a greater or lesser degree. 
In all ages the unseen bond that linked man- 
kind together, with more or less hidden force, 
had baffled the researches of psychologists, 
and physiologists to such a degree, that at 
length the pursuit was abandoned, and left 
for Charlatans to play with. 

Each epoch of the world's history saw the 
development of some absurdity ; but these 
were in reality the fructification of the seed- 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 187 

ling ; or infant gropings after that higher 
knowledge which evidence the spiritual aspi- 
rations of the human soul. 

In the very early stages of man's history 
we find him in full belief of fairies, gnomes, 
and hobgoblins, which eventually ripened into 
a literature and folklore dealing with their 
doings, of quite ample dimensions. And after 
all, who would like to make away with those 
delightful stories that inspired his imagination 
in childhood's days, filling his mind with awe 
and wonder, while yet it was all receptive, 
and when credulity was paramount ? 

Then followed the belief in the wizards, 
witch, and magician, who were held to have 
gotten their supernatural powers from the 
arch-magician, Satan, himself: and every ill 
that nature sent humanity was ascribed to the 
infernal agency of witchcraft. 

In these days handsome incomes were 
occasionally realised by courtly magicians who 
unfolded the future to the high-born ladies 
that invoked their aid. Did not Anne Boleyn 
see her future husband in the magician's 
mirror, when quite a girl, and as yet she 
knew nothing 1 of him? The scene of a masked 



1 88 MERCIA 

ball iii which King Henry the Eighth was the 
central figure, and all the people paying him 
courtly homage, was found reflected in the 
magic mirror, and the monarch pointed out 
as her future husband. Still time went roll- 
ing onwards bringing its developments of 
man's highest aspirations — the desire to fathom 
that mystery of which he caught but a glim- 
mering. 

Then followed Mesmer's discovery to which 
was attributed certain psychological develop- 
ments ; these the Charlatan utilised to his 
own advantage by claiming the power of 
second sight for some fair sleeper whom he 
always took care to be provided with. 

Side by side with mesmerism grew ano- 
ther new idea which went infinitely further 
than the mesmerised thought-reader. It was 
named Spiritualism, the votaries of which 
professed to call up at will the departed 
spirits of friends, enemies, and even of persons 
unknown to them in life. 

This new faith, for it developed into a 
religion seeing that once a person got 
thoroughly soaked with it he wanted no 
church to teach him the way to Heaven, he 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 189 

believing he had found a more direct passage 
than what all the parsons in Christendom 
could show him. 

Revelations from Spirit-land were sought 
not only by the lower, and partially educated 
classes, but also by the educated members of 
societ} T ; practical business men being found 
in considerable numbers attending spirit- 
rapping circles. Even the editor of the 
Times newspaper in 1880 was claimed by the 
Spiritualists to be one of them. 

Eventually, Spiritualism becoming un- 
popular by reason of its adoption by the 
ignorant, together with the numerous ex- 
posures of fraud on the part of its leading 
exponents, a new belief was found necessary 
for the intellectual and cultured ones of the 
nineteenth century. 

This was borrowed from the East, the 
beliefs of Ancient India being pressed into 
service and made to appear under a new 
form and given the title of Theosophy. 

The whole series of superstitions under 
whatever name they might appear — witch- 
craft, fortune-telling, mesmerism, spirit rap- 
ping, Mahatma power, or the new-fangled 



i 9 o MERCIA 

faith of Tlieosophy, were in reality the deep 
workings of the human mind, striving to 
fathom the secrets of nature. 

The physiology and psychology of the 
twenty-first century explained it. It was 
indeed, simple enough, for everything is easy 
when you know it. 

It was found that a subtle fluid somewhat 
of the nature of electricity, which was alto- 
gether imperceptible to sight, but whose 
presence was indicated by a very delicate 
gauge called a psychometer pervaded the 
nerve centres of all human beings. It im- 
parted to them such a highly sensitive condi- 
tion that wherever the fluid was in great 
abundance it gave to its possessor a corre- 
sponding amount of attraction, or influence 
over others. 

The influence of this essence was not 
limited to a short distance, for propinquity 
was not altogether necessary for its action ; 
for a highly endowed person could throw out 
an invisible stream of psycho-magnetic sym- 
pathy that Avould find its way for hundreds 
of miles till it reached the corresponding 
fluid of the person desired, causing such a 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 191 

disturbance in his nerve-centres that imme- 
diately he would commence thinking of his 
friend, mistress, or acquaintance, as the case 
might be. 

From this cause came into beingr that 
well known saying — ' Talk of the Devil and 
he's sure to show himself.' 

The poet in every age, although knowing 
nothing of physiology, being endowed with a 
superabundance of this wonderful essence, 
divined its existence, calling it the unseen 
chains that bound humanity together. 

In fact, this was the source from which 
the true poet, novelist, orator, and thought- 
reader derived his power. All these were 
endowed bountifully with this subtle energy, 
putting it to the use for which their indi- 
vidual talents led them. 

The actress who nightly enchained her 
auditory by 7 her clever impersonation of some 
ideal character, did not owe her triumph 
solely to the influence of her splendid rhe- 
toric, or histrionic art, but mainly to this 
force which she unconsciously scattered 
broadcast around her, the waves of which 
being caught up by the innumerable nerve- 



1 92 MERCIA 

centres, which responded with ready recep- 
tivity. 

The same force, but of a higher order, 
and more spiritual essence fired the imagina- 
tion of the poet, giving him burning words. 
and tender sympathies that found their way 
into every heart. 

It inspired him also with prophetic in- 
sight : giving him the power of seeing into 
the very heart of things, whether of the past, 
present, or future. The ancients saw this 
and averred that poets are born not made ; 
for it was owing to the highly sensitive 
quality of this psychic energy that he pos- 
sessed his gift of poesy. 

It comes into the life of a few to meet 
with some exquisitely charming woman who 
excites love and admiration wherever she 
turns. All who come in contact with her 
unite in declaring her to be the sweetest 
woman that ever lived. No one can de- 
finitely tell you why she exercises so much 
charm over him ; she is admittedly not more 
beautiful, nor more talented than others ; 
nevertheless, she casts some indefinable, yet 
irresistible spell over all around her. Some- 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 193 

thing unfathomable, unknowable dwells in 
her countenance, giving it an expression 
that haunts you. She sees into your very 
heart, as it were ; she knows exactly what 
to say, and what to do to please and gratify 
you. 

She utters your thought for you, express- 
ing it so beautifully and perfectly that you 
are delighted with yourself, for she throws 
such a glamour over you that you imagine 
you have given the happy expression to the 
idea. What is this power she wields with 
such fascinating force? It is the subtle fluid 
that is unconsciously emanating from her. 
This secret, unseen energy profoundly stirs 
every nerve within you, sending thrills of 
pleasure through your frame, and imparting 
warmth and life, and love to all who come 
within its influence. 

Little children love her, and nestle in her 
skirts; not only the animals of her own house- 
hold, but the strange dog and cat look at her 
with longing eyes, wishful for the pat, and 
kind word that will certainly be granted. 
Each living thing feels the subtle influence 
and acknowledges it unhesitatingly. Sicklier 





i 9 4 MERCIA 

and suffering can hardly diminish it, for only- 
death itself can annihilate it. 

The orator holds his audience spell bound 
apparently, by his splendid eloquence ; the 
whole audience which may consist of several 
thousands are moved by one great emotion. 
Every pulse beats as one ; only one feeling 
pervades that vast assembly — perfect union of 
thought with the speaker. He is exercising a 
spell over the multitude powerful as that of 
the magician. 

The following day the speech appears in 
cold print, and strange to say, there is nothing 
very remarkable about it. What was it that 
produced such deep emotions in the breast 
of that great concourse of people ? 

It was the wonderful influence of the 
speaker's personality ; it was the abundant 
psychic-energy that spread itself in thought- 
waves all through the multitude, making their 
hearts glow and swell with happiness. 

Such are the men who win great battles, 
for their soldiers are ready to rush into any 
danger under the influence of their leader's 
powerful soul-energy. Mark how these great 
warriors attract women. He who fights well, 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 195 

loves well, all chroniclers know that fact, and 
the unseen mind-force with which Nature has 
so lavishly endowed him, gives him the suc- 
cessful conquest of women's hearts, equally as 
of men's. 

At this time thought-reading was a per- 
fected science, and only those endowed with an 
extraordinary gift of psychic energy could 
pose with any measure of success as a pro- 
fessional. 

So great was the perfection reached in 
this branch of science that a professor of 
thought-reading was expected to describe not 
only the thought of the inquirer, but also 
reveal the thoughts and motives of the person 
who formed the subject of the inquiry. No- 
thing less than this could satisfy the soul of 
the twenty-first century individual. 

Once the Professor was placed en rapport 
with the person to be analysed and reported 
upon, he was expected to give every par- 
ticular of his life, habits, attainments, thoughts 
and actions. In point of fact, he had to keep 
a mental diary of the watched man's doings. 
Woe betide the silly swain who tried to run 
two sweethearts ; if one of them grew jealous 



196 MERC I A 

she had but to tell her case to the thought- 
reader, and with a good fee set his brain 
agoing, when soon she would be in possession 
of every particular of her lover's perfidy. 

As soon as the presence of this essence in 
all persons was clearly demonstrated and esta- 
blished, it became the ambition of the food- 
chemist to discover some phosphate that 
Avould increase the supply that nature had 
given already. Numerous were the nostrums 
proposed for which were claimed the power 
of imparting an augmented supply to man. 

The newspapers teemed with advertise- 
ments of these tabloids, some of which were 
frequently headed with the legend ' Ye are 
not men but Gods ! ' And indeed, if the vir- 
tues of these chemical preparations attained 
only half what was claimed for them, men 
would have been nearly gods by this time. 
For the inherent desire of man to obtain 
power, by whatever name it might be known, 
prompts him to accept any theories that pro- 
mise this desirable gift. 

For a time large fortunes were accumu- 
lated by the manufacture of psychic-energy 
tabloids ; enterprising chemists rivalling each 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 197 

other in the production of the most excellent. 
Notwithstanding all these deserving efforts 
on the part of mankind to raise himself, lie 
remained pretty much the same as nature 
formed him, save by the slower processes of 
evolution. 

Of all the persons who laid claim to the gift 
of thought-reading there was none so highly 
sensitive as the great Anglo- Indian, Dayanand 
Swami. It was said of him that he almost 
lived upon a wonderful elixir of his own 
manufacture, the preparation of which had 
been handed down to him from his Mahatma 
forefather some generations back. 

In the solitude of the Indian jungle a 
hundred years previously his fore-elder had 
discovered this wonderful plant, which not 
only physically sustained him to a great ex- 
tent, but furnished him with an extraordinary 
supply of the mystic fluid. 

This ancient Mahatma was literally satu- 
rated with wisdom, without going through 
the painful processes that men of that class 
are usually compelled in the attainment of 
their ascetic ambition. By the agency of this 
psychic gift he could unfold, without having 



198 MERCIA 

read its history, the glories of India in its 
ancient days ; describing the magnificence of 
its rulers ; their pomp ; their immense retinues, 
which were on such a scale that the passage 
through his dominion by their Sovereign 
caused a famine in the parts traversed. Only 
two classes existed in those good old times, 
the very rich and the very poor. 

He could conjure up pictures of the work- 
men dropping down dead from hunger and 
exhaustion who were engaged upon the erec- 
tion of the loveliest mausoleum that the 
world has ever seen ; more like an exquisite 
marble palace of fairy land than a resting 
place for the dead. Art had indeed attained 
its hightest perfection in those far off days, 
the monuments of which the Eastern still 
gazes upon with pride and affection. 

Or he could project his thought till it 
reached the mind of ministers in England, 
when he could produce a mental negative, so 
to speak, of the thought of the ministers re- 
specting the policy they intended carrying 
out which would affect India ; for it was 
only on the occasion of some great national 
question stirring the mind of the people 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 199 

that he cared to put out his thought in this 
direction. 

Moreover, he possessed the power of 
seeing into futurity, for he foretold that in 
one hundred years India would have her own 
supreme Sovereign, one who would be of their 
own unbiassed choice, who lived among them, 
and studied the happiness of her people. One 
who was loved and reverenced throughout 
the vorld. Whose rule would bring honour, 
dignity and renown to their beautiful and 
beloved India ; and this unrivalled potentate 
would be a woman, young, beautiful and 
talented. 

New, this prophecy of the old Mahatma 
could not refer to Victoria, the first English 
Empress of India, for she was gathered to 
her forefathers at that time, and King Albert, 
the First, reigned in her stead. 

The descendant of this wonderful Mahatma 
resided in London, his father having been 
appointed by Government to the post of Col 
lector, a position of some importance in the 
Civil Service. But the son elected to follow 
a profession that was more in accordance 
with the traditions of his ancestors, and at 



2oo MERCIA 

the same time would supply a want in his 
own generation, that was called into existence 
by the exigencies of the times. 

The worn-out theories of Theosophy which 
deemed nirvana the highest attainable condi- 
tion of the human soul, had no attraction for 
him ; but he regarded it with some amount 
of reverence, inspired by the traditions cf an 
ancient religion, which cannot fail to cast a 
halo round it, even when discarded by the 
more advanced modern. 

Dayanand Swami surrounded himself with 
the gorgeous luxuries of an Eastern prince, 
although dwelling in the English metropolis, 
and displayed his Eastern descent, by follow- 
ing Eastern customs as far as English con- 
ventionalities would permit. Nevertheless, he 
kept in touch with the times, accommodating 
himself to the requirements of the people 
among whom he had made his home. 

The carriages of titled ladies might have 
been seen daily at his door ; for love troubles, 
and court troubles disturbed the peace of 
great dames even in the twenty-first century. 

Native servants waited obsequiously on 
these noble visitors who formed chiefly his 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 201 

clientele, and whose rich fees sustained the 
splendours of his household. 

Upon the arrival of a visitor the great 
door would be folded back, revealing a court- 
yard arranged in a style of true Eastern mag- 
nificence. The floor was formed of mosaics 
of elegant design cut from costly marbles. 
Shrubs, flowers, and trees of exotic birth 
filled convenient parterres, while a fountain 
played its crystal waters in feathery spray, 
giving the scene a refreshing sense of coolness. 
Birds of beautiful plumage disported themselves 
amongst the trees, adding colour, as well as 
life to the picture. The tiny humming-bird, 
like a moving flower- bud hung on the 
branches of beautiful shrubs, or basked in the 
sunshine of this artificial Eastern clime ; for 
the whole was covered with a high dome of 
glass of considerable area, which was sup- 
ported by graceful pillars of manufactured 
marbles erected in regular succession. The 
tropical temperature obtained by the conser- 
vation of solar heat, being evenly sustained 
the year through, independently of the 
changes of weather. 

The apartments within were arranged in 



202 MERCIA 

similarly luxurious style. The walls were 
hung with crimson satin, embroidered richly 
in gold, but the colours were varied according 
to the character of the apartments. 

While the wall draperies of one room were 
composed of crimson satin, those of another 
were pale blue, another yellow, and so on, all 
of which were embroidered in richest hues, 
intermingled with gold. The couches and 
curiously carved stools were upholstered in 
rich materials that were in character with the 
decorations of the walls, and window dra- 
peries ; while Persian carpets of the softest 
velvet pile sank like turf beneath the tread. 

Costly ornaments of Eastern manufacture 
adorned the side tables, or were arranged on 
beautifully carved ivory brackets ; while 
native Japanese paintings, encased in richest 
frames gave the tout ensemble a decidedly 
oriental appearance. The picturesque delinea- 
tions of the Jap, whose ideas of art were 
totally different from those of the Western 
world, made their paintings real curiosities to 
the English mind. These represented lovers 
in nearly all stages of the gr ancle passion seated 
in Japanese teahouses, or holding loving con- 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 203 

verse beneath the shade of luxurious trees, 
whose branches seemed to reach the deep 
blue skies. In another apartment portraits 
of great Eastern potentates, celebrated Hindus, 
and venerable Mahatmas gave the English 
visitor an idea of the former prestige of the 
Indian Empire. 

In the lady's withdrawing-room containing 
the Japanese pictures, strains of sweetest music 
were set agoing at will, given apparently by a 
stringed band of automatic performers, made 
to imitate an orchestra of little men ; who 
looked excruciatingly comic, as they moved 
their arms up and down, and waved about 
their funny little heads. The whole arrange- 
ment was set in motion by the same energy 
that gave heat to the apartments, conserva- 
tory, and cooking apparatus. 

In his ' room of contemplation,' or studio, 
was daily seated at stated hours the highly 
gifted Swami, surrounded by his ' silent ser- 
vants ' — Ins books of Eastern lore. Tier upon 
tier of carved framework contained works 
from the most remote antiquity, dating back- 
wards nearly four thousand years ; and so on, 
through all the centuries, till quite up-to-date 



204 MERC/A 

literature of the various epochs was repre- 
sented. Rare manuscripts of the ancient Rig 
Veda, with plays, love stories, and fables, 
together with works on medicine, philosophy, 
mathematics, astronomy, and magic arts, all 
of very ancient date, filled the shelves of the 
library. While gorgeously-bound volumes of 
poetry, part of which were in the original 
Sanskrit, and part translated into English, 
were strewed on the elegantly designed coffee- 
tables, or stands, with which the drawing- 
room was furnished. 

Here is a graphic description of the drought 
in an Indian summer, taken from a poem by 
K&lidh&sa, of great antiquity, entitled — 

The Ritu-Sanhara, or, The Seasons. ] 

' Now the burning summer sun 
Hath unchallenged empire won ; 
And the scorching winds blow free 
Blighting every herb and tree. 
Should the longing exile try, 
Watching with a lover's eye 
"Well-remembered scenes to trace — 
Vainly would he scan the place, 
For the dust with shrouding veil 
Wraps it in a mantle pale. 

1 Translated by Griffiths. 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 205 

Lo, the lion, — forest king — 
Through the wood is wandering ; 
By the maddening thirst opprest 
Ceaseless heaves his panting chest. 
Though the elephant pass hy 
Scarcely turns his languid eye 
Bleeding mouth and failing limb, 
"What is now his prey to him ? 

Where the sparkling lake before 
Filled its bed from shore to shore, 
Boots and twisting fibres wind, 
Dying fish in nets to bind ; 
There the cranes in anguish seek 
Water with the thirsty beak. 

Elephants all mad with thirst 

From the woods in fury burst : 

From their mountain-caverns see 

Butt' aloes rush furiously. 

With hanging tongue and foam-fleck'd hide, 

Tossing high their nostrils wide, 

Eager still their sides to cool 

In the thick and shrunken pool.' 

Here is an equally graphic description of 
rain, from the same poem : — 

' Who is this that driveth near, 
Heralded by sounds of fear ? 
Bed his flag the lightning's glare 
Flashing through the murky air. 
Pealing thunder for his drums — 
Boyally the monarch cornea. 
See ! he rides amid the crowd, 
On his elephant of cloud 
Marshalling his kingly train : 
Welcome, oh, thou lord of rain. 
Gathered clouds, as black as night 
Hide the face of heaven from sight : 



206 MERCIA 

Sailing on their airy road 
Sinking with their watery load. 
See, the peacocks hail the rain, 
Spreading wide their jewelled train, 
They will revel, dance and play 
In their wildest joy to-day.' 

Coming down to a period as late as the 
twelfth century of our era were works repre- 
sentative of the Hindu poet of that time. 
Here is a translation of a poem, a pastoral 
drama, by Jayadeva, of which it is said ; the 
exquisite melody of the verse can only be 
appreciated by those who can enjoy the 
original Sanskrit.' 

Krishna, the herdsman, loves Eadha, the 
shepherdess, but has wandered from her to 
amuse himself with other maidens. Nanda, 
Krishna's foster father, gives her warning, 
saying : — 

' Go, gentle Radha, seek thy wand'ring love ; 
Dusk are the woodlands, — black the sky above. 
Bring thy dear wanderer home, and bid him rest 
His weary head upon thy faithful breast.' 

Then Eadha makes anxious search for 
him, pressing through forest and tangled 
bushes, until a friend tells her in sheer pity 
that Krishna will not be found in lonely forest 
shades, and thus sings to her : — 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 207 

' In this love-tide of spring, when the amorous hreeze 
Has kissed itself sweet on the beautiful trees, 
And the humming of numberless bees, as they throng 
To the blossoming shrubs swells the kokila's song : — 

' In this lovetide of spring when the spirit is glad, 
And the parted, yes, only the parted, are sad ; 
Thy lover, thy Krishna is dancing in glee 
With troops of young maidens forgetful of thee. 
Dispensing rich odours the sweet madhavi 
With its lover-like wreathings encircles the tree ; 
And oh, e'en a hermit must yield to the power — 
The ravishing scent of the malika flower. 

' Saffron robes his body grace ; 

Flowery wreaths his limbs entwine ; 

There's a smile upon his face, 

And his ears with jewels shine. 

In that youthful company, 
Amorous felon ! revels he ; 
False to all — most false to thee.' 

In the end Krishna, although faithless for 
a time, discovers the vanity of all other loves, 
and returns with sorrow and longing to his 
own darling Eadha. 

In Swami's library were books containing 
collections of Hindu stories that had been 
handed down for hundreds of years, and re- 
peated orally by each generation until at 
length various collections were made by 
native litterateurs, which sometimes were 
o-iven very fanciful titles. Indeed, Hindu 
literature supplied the whole world with its 



2oS MERCIA 

stories, even the Persians stole from it con- 
siderably. 

The following is an ancient Sanskrit love 
story by an author of repute, of the name of 
Subandhu. The chief beauties of this tale 
lie in its alliterations, double meaning of 
phrases, and puns, which bristle everywhere, 
all of which are of necessity lost in the trans- 
lation. The plot is peculiar. 

A king who lived somewhere on the 
Ganges, was a follower of Siva, and ruled his 
kingdom so admirably that impiety was un- 
known, proof by ordeal never needed, and 
violence never practised. 

This king had a son, who was the delight 
of all who sought his protection, his sagacity 
always securing him from deception. His 
religious feeling was shown by marked devo- 
tion to cows, and to Brahmans ; and being 
comely as the god of love, (who by the way 
is furnished with his bow and arrows, show- 
ing that the idea may have been borrowed by 
the ancient Greeks,) he was admired by all 
maidens, far and near. The extraordinary 
fact, was however, that the maiden with 
whom alone he fell in love, was one thai 
appeared to him in a dream. 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 209 

He longed to dream again, but the fervour 
of his emotion prevented sleep. 

He shut himself up in solitude, and re- 
fused nourishment. Then a faithful friend 
persuaded him that travelling might bring 
relief. They pursued their way to the 
Vindhya Hills ; the sun was about to set as 
they entered a wilderness. 

The friend collected roots and fruits, and 
the young prince fell asleep on a couch, 
made up of branches from the trees ; but 
not for long. For he was awakened by the 
conversation of two birds who nestled in the 
jambu tree above him. 

The female bird was reproaching the male 
for coming home so late, fearing that he 
must have been dangling after some other 
■sarikd. The male bird replies solemnly that 
he has been attending to a transaction most 
unprecedented. 

He then relates that in the city of 
Kusumapura, (probably Patna) there is a 
lovely princess, named, Vasavadatta. Beimr 
of full age, the king, her father, invited ' the 
highborn heirs of many principalities,' that 
she might choose a husband. 



210 MERC I A 

The suitors came, and the damsel took her 
place upon a dais to survey them ; but no one 
pleased her, and she and they withdrew in dis- 
appointment, 

At night, the young prince who had 
fallen in love with her in a dream, appeared 
to her in a vision ; and she felt at once that 
he was her destined husband. 

The vision made known his name, which 
was Kandarpaketu ; but she suffers torments 
of love and grief from not knowing how to 
meet with him. 

Under these circumstances her confidante 
volunteers to go in search for him, and says 
the bird, she arrived here when I did, and is 
at this moment beneath our tree. 

The lovesick prince no sooner heard this 
welcome intelligence than he introduced 
himself to the confidante, talked with her 
for twenty-four hours, (much too long, one 
would think) and then went with her to 
Kusumapura. 

Here he found the lovely Vasavadatta in 
a garden-house of ivory. On seeing each 
other they faint for joy, and afterward* 
rehearse their past sufferings. 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 211 

The confidante speaks for the princess, 
and says that 'if the heavens were a tablet, 
the sea an inkstand, the longevous Brahma 
an amanuensis, and the king of serpents the 
narrator, only a trifling part of those agonies 
could be told.' 

They next resolve on what we should call 
a ' runaway match ; ' and this they effect 
by mounting a magic steed which carries 
them to the Vindhya forests in the twinkling 
of an eye. They sleep soundly in a bower 
of flowery creepers, but when the sun is at 
meridian height the prince awakes, and finds 
Vasavadatta missing. He bitterly laments 
and wonders what can have caused so 
dreadful an affliction. Poor Vasavadatta 
having been the first to awaken, and seeing 
her bridegroom looking pale and emaciated, 
for the sickness of love had greatly reduced 
him, hastened away to gather fruits and food 
to restore him. In the midst of this loving 
occupation she was surprised by huntsmen 
and so frightened that eventually she lost 
her way, and found herself unable to return 
to her sorrowing bridegroom. After many 
dangers and difficulties were gone through 

p 2 



212 MERCIA 

the prince at length discovers her ; she is 
conducted back to his father's palace, and 
they live in the greatest love and happiness 
ever after. 

Carved upon the oak panels that lined 
the walls of Dayanand Swami's ' room of 
contemplation ' were Sanskrit texts taken 
from The Eig Veda, the ancient Hindu 
Scriptures ; 

The portions selected had reference chiefly 
to the sun ; the light of day being considered 
typical of the light of learning. The follow- 
ing are the English rendering of these short 

o Cr O 

quotations from four thousand years old 
poems. 

' His coursers bear on high the divine, all knowing 
Sun that he mat be seen bt all worlds ' 

; At the approach of the all illuminating Sun the 
constellations depart with the night, like thieves.' 

'his illuminating rats behold men in succession 
like blazing fires.' 

' Thou outstrippest all in speed ; thou art visible 
to all ; thou art the source of light ; thou shinest 
throughout the entire firmament.' 

' The divine Savitri displays his banner on HIGH, 
diffusing light through all worlds.' 

• Contemplating all things, the Sun has filled 
heaven and earth and the firmament with his rats.' 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 213 

'The tremulous eats of the Sun throw off the 
darkness, which is spread like a skin over the 
firmament.' 

' Oh, divine Sun, thou proceedest with most power- 
ful HORSES, SPREADING THY WEB OF RAYS AND CUTTING 
DOWN THE BLACK ABODE OF NIGHT ! ' 

These texts being carved in the original 
tongue — Sanskrit — Swaini's English visitors 
were very little the wiser for having gazed 
upon them. Indeed, many persons imagined 
them to convey some deep mystic meaning 
that the great man would have been most 
unwilling to reveal. After all, if they could 
have looked over his shoulder and have seen 
how he spent his moments of relaxation, they 
would have discovered him perusing sundry 
very harmless works in his native language, 
for even collections of fables and fairy tales, 
which was a favourite form of literature in 
the East, served occasionally to relieve the 
weariness of his tired brain. 

Here is a story of a Jaina ascetic, taken 
from a work named ' The Panchatantra,' a 
collection of fables and tales that long ago 
found their way into Persia. Niishirvan, the 
King of Persia sent a physician to India in 
search of medical knowledge and books ; the 



2i4 MERC I A 

physician not only brought back medical 
books, but collections of fables also, which, 
being translated into Pehlevi went forth to 
the world as the fables of Pilpay. 

The book opens by stating that a certain 
king was concerned at finding that his sons 
were growing up without knowledge. He 
called a council at which the necessity of 
acquiring knowledge was discussed, and also 
the length of time required for the acquisition 
of such kinds of knowledge that was con- 
sidered indispensable. 

The conclusion at which the councillors 
arrived was that the king must be advised 
to entrust his sons to a Brahman named 
Vishnusarman, who undertook to teach them 
niti in six months. This being arranged, 
Vishnusarman took the young princes to his 
house, and composed for their benefit a series 
of fables — the ' Panchatantra,' so called from 
• pancha,' five, and ' tantra,' section — namely, 
five narratives. They are stories within 
stories, woven most intricately one within the 
other ; here is a short one, treating of the 
cunning ascetic. 

A certain king who reigned in Ayodhya, 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 215 

the capital of Kosala, sent his minister to 
subdue a rebellion among some of the Rajahs 
in the hills. Whilst the minister was absent 
a religious mendicant came to Kosala, who 
by his skill in divination, his knowledge of 
hours, omens, aspects, and ascensions ; his 
dexterity in solving numbers, answering 
questions, and detecting things covertly con- 
cealed, and his proficiency in all similar 
branches of knowledge, acquired such fame 
and influence that it might be said he had 
purchased the country, and it was his 
own. 

The fame of this man at last reached the 
king, who sent for him, and found his con- 
versation so agreeable that he wanted him 
constantly beside him. One day, however, 
the mendicant did not appear, and when he 
next came, he accounted for his absence by 
stating that he had been upon a visit to 
Paradise, and that the deities sent their com- 
pliments to the king. The king was simple 
enough to believe him and was filled with 
astonishment and delight. 

His admiration of this marvellous faculty 
so engrossed his thought, that the duties of 



216 MERC I A 

his state and the pleasures of his palace, were 
equally neglected. 

But after awhile his minister returned, 
having subdued the king's enemies in the 
hills, and is amazed and disgusted to find his 
king in close conference with a naked mendi- 
cant, instead of occupying himself as formerly 
with his appointed duties. 

He quickly ascertains the pretensions of 
the ascetic, and asked the king if what he 
had heard of the mendicant's celestial visit 
was true. 

The king assured him that it was, and the 
ascetic offered to satisfy the general's apparent 
scepticism, by departing for Swarga in his 
presence. 

With this intent the king and his courtiers 
accompanied the Sramanaka to his cell, which 
he entered, and closed the door. 

After some delay, the general asked the 
king when they would see him again. The 
king answered, 'Have patience, on these 
occasions the sage quits his earthly body 
and assumes an ethereal form in which alone 
he can enter Indra's heaven.' 

' If this be the case,' said the general, ' let 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 217 

us burn his cell, and thus prevent his re- 
assuming his earthly body ; your majesty will 
then have constantly an angelic person in 
your presence.' 

To reconcile the king to this mode of 
proceeding the general tells him a story 
which has reference to the serpent, or Naga 
tribes of ancient India. 

' A Brahman named Devasarman had no 
child, which denial made his wife miserable. 
At length, however, owing to some mystic 
words, a son is promised, but what was the 
surprise of the mother, and the horror of the 
attendants, when the child so eagerly desired 
proved to be a snake. 

' The assistants wished to destroy the 
monster, but maternal affection prevailed, and 
the snake was reared with all possible care 
and affection. 

' At the proper age the mother entreated 
her husband to provide a suitable wife for 
their son. He said he would if he could gain 
admission to Patala, where Vasuki, the Ser- 
pent King, reigns over the Nagas, and might 
grant such a request. 

' But his wife was so distressed that to 



2iS MERCIA 

divert her thoughts he consented to travel. 
After some months they arrived at a city in 
which a Brahman offered his own beautiful 
daughter as a wife for the serpent. 

' The girl consented to the marriage and 
performed her duties admirably. After a 
time her serpent-husband changed one night 
into a man, intending in the morning to re- 
assume his serpent form : but the girl's father 
discovering that the snake body was aban- 
doned, seized the deserted skin and threw it 
into the fire. 

1 The consequence of which was, that his 
son-in law ever remained in the figure of a 
man, to the pride of his parents, and the 
happiness of his wife.' 

After hearing this narrative the king no 
longer hesitated. The mendicant's cell was 
set on fire ; the mendicant perished in the 
flames, and the king was as his general 
desired, released from the thraldom of a 
cunning ascetic. 1 

When Swami was a boy, his youthful 
imagination was fired by these ancient Hindu 
stories, but the one which tended most 

1 From ' Ancient and Mediaeval India.' — Manning. 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 219 

directly in forming his ambition, giving him 
the desire to become a mind-reader, was the 
following, taken from the ' Yetala-Pancha- 
vinasati ; ' or, ' Twenty-five Tales told by a 
Vetal.' A Vetal may be the spirit of a 
deceased person, or that of a living person 
who enters the body of another, leaving its 
own, and taking possession of that of a 
corpse. 

A certain Brahman, named Shan til, gave 
np the world and lived in the woods as a 
hermit, or ascetic. He had already become 
a magician by Yogi-practice. But ordinary 
magic did not meet his full ambition. He 
coveted universal superhuman power ; and 
for this he required the co-operation of an 
able pupil, carefully instructed, who should 
be qualified to assist in the sacrifice of a 
specially indicated human being. 

Whilst Shantil pursued his ascetic prac- 
tice, and sat cross-legged, Yogi-fashion, in his 
forest dwelling, a severe famine occurred in 
the district of Delhi, or near Hastinapura. 
The distressed inhabitants dispersed in search 
of food, and a Brahman, whose wife had died 
of hunger, wandered with his two sons, who 



22o MERC I A 

had not yet attained manhood, into what is 
called a foreign country. 

Afar off they perceived a ' forest sur- 
rounded by various trees, loaded with ripe 
fruits ; the symmetry, the neatness, and the 
admirable order of the trees, and the abun- 
dance and diversity of a thousand sorts of 
fruits,' proved most captivating to the hungry 
men. 

Presently they found themselves in front 
of an edifice, stately as a palace, although 
built with common materials. Within sat the 
dreadful magician Shantil. 

To the weary wanderers he merely ap- 
peared as a holy ascetic ; seated on the 
customary sacred darbha grass, and holding 
in his hand the usual string of holy beads, 
which consists of one hundred and eight of 
the beautifully carved nuts, or seed vessels 
of the Eleocarpus, here called in Sanskrit 
Rudraksha. The travellers approached pros- 
trating themselves, and showing all imagin- 
able reverence. 

Shantil returned their salutation, and in- 
quired the object of their journey. Having 
heard their story he turned to the father and 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 221 

said: 'Oh, Brahman, be not afraid: I will 
take care of your sons until the famine is 
over : but on one condition, that you give 
me one of your boys, whichever you 
like.' 

The father, feeling lie had no alternative, 
consented to the arrangement, and after 
feasting on dainties for three days, he em- 
braced his sons with many tears, and departed. 
Shantil was a magician skilled in all arts and 
sciences : nothing, indeed, was unknown to 
him. 

He lost no time in setting the boys tasks 
to exercise their faculties, and prepare them 
also for the acquisition of magic. 

He soon ascertained that the younger boy 
had the higher capacity, and of him he 
determined to possess himself: he never, 
therefore, allowed him to go out of his sight. 
He taught him grammar, divinity, law, 
astronomy, philosophy, physiognomy, al- 
chemy, geography, the power of transferring 
the soul to a dead body ; the giving it anima- 
tion, and several other arts, amongst which 
was included astrology, or the art of fore- 
telling future events. In short, the law which 



222 MERC I A 

prescribes that a preceptor shall teach all 
that he knows to his pupil, if he be wise, and 
desirous of knowledge, was fully obeyed. 

In this case, the diligent and accomplished 
preceptor, was striving to secure an accomplice 
in a pupil. But, cunning as he was, he out- 
witted himself; for wishing that the father 
should prefer the elder lad, he fed him plenti- 
fully, and clothed him handsomely, whilst he 
kept his younger and more promising pupil 
half starved, and poorly clad. 

As might be expected, the younger pupil 
became in consequence anxious to escape, and 
being already master of the science which 
prognosticates future events, he perceived that 
the famine had ceased, and that his father 
was coming to claim one of his sons and carry 
him home. 

He knew also, that his father would be 
most attracted by his elder brother, who 
looked fat, and was covered with jewels. 
Making use, therefore, of his power of trans- 
porting himself to distant places, he went to 
his father, and revealed to him the wicked 
character and intentions of the Yogin, and 
obtained a solemn promise that his father 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 223 

would choose him, and not his decorated 
brother, as the son to be taken home. 

The father duly arrived at the hermitage, 
and though he experienced much difficulty 
he at length induced the Yogin to part with 
his gifted pupil, and with him he went away. 

But the father and son had not proceeded 
far before the son felt certain that his tyrant 
was in pursuit, and for protection he felt it 
necessary to change himself into a horse. At 
the same time, he charged his father to 
sell him at a neighbouring fair ; but for no 
consideration to part with him to anyone in 
whose presence he should neigh, or paw the 
ground. 

As the young man apprehended, so it 
happened. Shantil, the Yogin, tracked them, 
and discovering the disguise presented himself 
at the fair, and offered so large a sum that the 
father, dazzled by the sight of an enormous 
heap of gold, sold hi? son to his dreaded 
enemy. 

In vain the poor horse had neighed, over 
and over, and pawed the ground to show his 
displeasure at the sale, but this only confirmed 
Shantil in his desire to have him, so that the 



224 MERCIA 

money-loving father was prevailed upon to 
sell him. 

Shantil then rides his captive back to his 
hermitage keeping him under severe restraint : 
but after a few days the imprisoned horse is 
able to make himself known to his brother, 
who loosens his bonds, when he bounds 
away. 

Again Shantil pursues, and again the 
fugitive escapes. On this occasion assuming 
the form of a pigeon, he flies in at the open 
window of the king's palace and is protected 
and concealed for a time by a lovely princess. 

But Shantil was his master in the arts 
of magic, and every disguise was discovered. 
Upon his father he could not depend, for his 
father had sold him for gold. One refuge 
alone remained ; Shantil had no power over 
Vetals — the spirits which animate dead bodies, 
and despairing of other refuge, the young 
Brahman Yogin rushed into a corpse which 
was hanging on a tree in a public cemetery. 

This obliged Shantil to seek for a man 
with sufficient nerve and resolution to go 
alone to the cemetery at night, cut down the 
body which contained the Vetal into which 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 225 

his pupil had entered, and bring corpse and 
Vetfil to an appointed shrine, at which he 
would await them. 

The man of dauntless courage and resolu- 
tion was found in King Vikrama. Now, we 
do not know which Vikrama is meant, he of 
Ougein,A.D. 65,orHarsha Vikrama, ofA.D. 500, 
but it does not signify, but the city is called 
Dhara, to the south of the river Godavery. 

In Hindu poetry and fiction Vikrama 
continually figures as the representative of 
victorious courage. In this work he is de- 
scribed as handsome as the god of love, a 
devotee in religious worship, deferential to 
priests, hermits, and persons who disgusted 
with wordliness and contumely of relatives, 
had given themselves up to think of God. 

He was skilled in sacred sciences ; warlike, 
though merciful ; a cherisher of the poor, 
and a comforter of his subjects ; whom he 
loved as if they were his children. 

The palace of King Vikrama was large 
and magnificent. It contained the most 
splendid and costly articles : it was constantly 
sprinkled with aloes water, and every article 
of furniture was adorned by precious stones. 

Q 



226 MERCIA 

One day whilst Vikrama sat as usual on 
his throne, Shantil, the Yogin, presented him- 
self, and so holy did he appear that the king 
received him with the utmost reverence, and 
coming down from his throne entreated his 
guest to take his seat. He then stood with 
clasped hands and paid him adoration. 

Shantil presented an artificial fruit which 
he had brought, gave the benediction and 
went away. For several successive days the 
same thing was repeated, until on one occasion 
the king happened to drop the fruit which 
had been presented to him, a pet monkey 
broke it open, and a splendid ruby was seen 
within. 

Thereupon the king desired to have all 
the other fruits which the holy man had pre- 
sented, brought into his presence, and each 
fruit, when opened was found to contain 
rubies. The jewels were of the utmost rarity. 
Indeed, the smallest were of such value, that 
the largest could only be considered as beyond 
all price. 

' Hermit,' said the king, ' witli what inten- 
tion didst thou present me with such treasures ; 
hast thou anything to ask of me ? ' 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 227 

Shantil did not at once acknowledge what 
it was he wanted, but gradually revealed that 
he was engaged in rites for obtaining super- 
human faculties, and that for their completion 
he required the personal assistance of the 
king. 

He had travelled over the greater part of 
the world, he said, vainly seeking such a 
person as would suit his ' enterprise. ' At 
length,' he continued, 'I came to your court. 
and have found in your Majesty the physio- 
gnomy of a person fitted to act as assistant in 
the intended sacrifice.' 

The king did not give him time to say 
more, but eagerly promised to do whatever 
was required. 

Shantil then explained that a certain Vetal 
must be captured and given into his pos- 
session. 

1 On the 14th of Aswin,' said he, ' at mid- 
night, your Majesty must go alone to the 
cemetery on the banks of the Godavery, beyond 
the town : you must be clothed in black and 
bear in your hand a naked sword.' 

When the appointed day arrived a certain 
tree was pointed out from which he was to 

Q 2 



228 MERCIA 

cut down the required corpse, and having 
thrown it across his shoulders carry it in per- 
fect silence to Shantil. 

Vikrama went and found this burial-ground 
filled with smoke from burning corpses, and 
resounding with piercing cries of devils, which 
were coming from all regions. 

At length King Vikrama found the tree, 
and climbing into it, he cut the cord by which 
the corpse was suspended and threw it on the 
ground ; but just as he put out his hands to 
capture the Vetal it jumped up, and suspended 
itself as before, high up in the tree. 1 

This happened more than once, until the 
king discovered that he must bind the corpse 
across his back before he came down. 

And now the king encountered another 
difficulty ; for the wily Vetal within the 
corpse which he carried began telling stories, 
to beguile the fatigue of the journey he said, 
but in truth, because he wanted to escape ; 
and Vikrama could only hold him on condition 
of his being absolutely silent. 

The Vetal's plan was therefore, to put the 

1 Certain trees are considered the true home of the Vetal : 
he is then said ' to live in his own bouse.' 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 229 

king off his guard, and just when his interest 
was excited to ask some pointed question. 
Five-and-twenty times did this succeed. As 
soon as the king spoke the Vetal flew back to 
his tree, and the whole process had to be re- 
peated. The five-and-twenty stories called 
' Vetalapanchavinsati,' are a record of the tales 
related on these occasions, which Crustnath 
Cassinathjee, a modern Hindu, translated 
recently into English. 

What ultimately became of the persecuted 
Vetal we will leave to the reader who delights 
to revel in Eastern fairy lore, as did Swami 
from his boyhood upwards. 

Magic and mystery possessed a charm for 
him that he could not overcome, the result 
being that he too desired superhuman power. 
which should astonish even the advanced 
scientists of the twenty-first century. 



230 MERCIA 



CHAPTEE IX 

' I know the wealth of every urn 
In which unnumbered rubies burn, 
Beneath the pillars of Chilrninar ; 
I know where the isles of perfume are, 
Many a fathom down in the sea, 
To the south of sun-bright Araby ; 
I know too, where the Genii hid 
The jewelled cup of their King Jamshid, 
AVith life's elixir sparkling high.' 

Lalla Rookh. 

Swami being in the possession of all the accu- 
mulated knowledge of successive generations 
of Yogins, and having grown up as it were at 
the feet of Gamaliel, in the person of his 
father — to whom had been imparted the 
secrets of the ascetics of previous genera- 
tions — was filled with wonderful wisdom. 

Moreover, his powers were considerably 
perfected and strengthened by reason of his 
advanced culture, aided by his natural gift of 
psychic-energy ; which latter was considerably 
augmented by the soul-sustaining elixir upon 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 231 

which, it was said, he was chiefly nourished. 
Eich and poor flocked to him in their emer- 
gencies ; and it must be recounted of him 
that although he knew very well that the 
latter could in no wise adequately reward 
him, nevertheless, he gave the needy as much 
of his valuable time as he could well afford ; 
for his rich customers kept him so fully occu- 
pied that he had hardly an hour in the day 
to call his own. 

It goes without saying that most of the 
difficulties upon which he was consulted 
proceeded from that arch mischief-maker — 
Jealousy, whose wiles with the human heart 
have cost mankind no end of trouble, in all 
ages. It was no uncommon occurrence for a 
fair Duchess to come and seek his aid by 
informing her how and where her noble hus- 
band was spending his evenings. But the 
Duke guessing full well that she would be 
making tender inquiries respecting him, would 
beforehand endeavour to bribe the hiffh- 
minded Eastern to keep his tongue from 
telling. 

Or an over- anxious wife would worry her- 
self concerning the safety of her husband who 



23 MERCIA 

had taken his monthly journey across the 
Atlantic in his flying machine, of which she 
was most nervous. 

Or a young man striving to obtain a 
Government appointment, sought to learn if 
his lady friend, of whom he was in mortal 
fear, would bowl him out in the coming 
examination. 

Or an intending disputant in a law case 
would consult the all-knowing-one as to the 
issue of his suit, if he engaged in it. Those 
foolhardy enough to disregard his warnings, 
invariably proved unfortunate ; so that in the 
end, the great mind -reader got as many of 
these clients as the most popular barrister ; 
but bearing different results. No matter of 
what the difficulty consisted this Anglo- 
Eastern sage solved it satisfactorily. 

There was a time when the female portion 
of his clientele harried him unfairly, by dis- 
regarding his professional hours, and coming 
to consult him late in the evening. This grew 
so distressing to the gentle Eastern that in 
the end he made a stand for liberty, by closing 
his doors against them at a certain hour. It 
was not their desire to harass their favourite 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 233 

fortune-teller, but they objected to being seen 
making him their visits ; for the raillery of 
their acquaintances gave these anxious fair 
ones excruciating agonies. 

So Swami commanded his servants to ad- 
mit no one after nine o'clock ; for listening to 
the recital of his client's case was but a 
moiety of the labour to be expended over it. 

Swami was a man of moderate height, 
that is to say, moderate for the twenty-first 
century, when everybody nearly, attained a 
Great stature. His shoulders did not measure 
the breadth of the Teuton's, nevertheless, he 
knew no chest-weakness, for his daily athletic 
exercises from the age of six gave him a con- 
stitution that bore the changes of the English 
climate admirably. 

He had the beautifully soft, and peculiarly 
shaped eyes of his race, that looked dark, 
dreamy and unfathomable. 

His black silken hair hung in natural ring- 
lets around his neck, which was smooth and 
of a deep cream colour : his complexion was 
the same, but was relieved by the dark silky 
moustache which partially concealed his well- 
cut lips. 



234 MERCIA 

His nose was straight, coming in a line 
almost from the forehead, while his chin was 
prominent and broad, indicating resolution of 
character. 

The forehead was high and full ; while the 
whole expression of his countenance gave the 
impression of his being a thinker, rather than 
a man of action. Although he was averse to 
much speech nevertheless, his natural fluency 
of language gave him such choice of words 
that he always expressed himself with great 
grace and dignity. 

Notwithstanding all his wisdom and deep 
learning there was such an indescribable air 
of simplicity and naturalness about him, that 
people were inspired more with feelings of 
trust and affection for him, rather than those 
of awe and wonder. 

If you endeavoured to guess his profession 
by his appearance you might have said he 
was a poet, philosopher, or scholar, but never 
a builder, architect, or civil engineer ; for in 
truth, he was a dreamer only, and took no 
interest in practical pursuits. Nevertheless 
the nature of his occupation prevented him 
from spending his time in mere contemplation, 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 235 

where he could live in a world of his own 
creation ; for his mind being daily taken up 
with the affairs of others, forced him into the 
outside world, although only in spirit. Seated 
in his ' room of contemplation,' — as his Eastern 
servants named it, — where he was surrounded 
with his books and instruments of magic, and 
attired in a robe of rich yellow silk that 
floated down his figure in ample folds, with 
turban of the same hue, half concealing his 
dark silky hair, he looked indeed, a perfect 
picture of Eastern beauty. 

He was a bachelor, so that the disturbing 
influence to the exercise of genius of which 
our eighteenth-century artist 1 complained, did 
not interfere with his occupations. The halo 
that surrounds the unappropriated man had 
spread its lustre over him, making the pulse 
of many a maiden quicken beneath the soft 
glance of those beautiful Eastern eyes of his. 

Even the noblest dame would hardly have 
hesitated to mate with a man who was so 
universally admired and reverenced. Indeed, 
rumour averred, that offers of marriage were 

1 Sir Joshua Reynolds maintained that a 'wife and children 
spoilt an artist's genius. 



236 MERC I A 

by no means a rare occurrence with him, for 
woman's privileges extended to this departure 
from ancient usage by this time. 

But Swami resisted the tender advances of 
his fair customers, for his life was so entirely 
devoted to the profession he loved that mari- 
tal cares had no charm for him. 

Moreover, he had never met with the 
woman who could hold empire over him ; 
whose soul- energy, could mingle with his, and 
fill his whole being with rapturous emotion, 
giving his life new charms, new hopes, and 
new aspirations. Until that being came into 
his life he was determined to live secluded 
and solitary, for, making no intimates of his 
customers, the pleasures of friendship were 
unknown to him. 

One soft spring afternoon a few days, pre- 
vious to that appointed for the Great Test 
Tournament, there came rolling up to his resi- 
dence the royal carriage, drawn by prancing 
horses, and who should alight therefrom but 
the Emperor Felicitas himself. The dark 
servants trembled at the approach of such a 
mighty potentate, for Eastern ideas of the 
power of princes are not easily overcome, 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 237 

but Swami himself received the monarch with 
that easy and gentle courtesy, he extended to 
everybody. 

' What doth the Emperor of so many 
dominions require of me ? ' he asked, with a 
touch of his native Eastern politeness. 

' Indeed,' cried the Emperor impetuously, 
' I wish my crown anywhere but on my head ! 
What good is power if it leave one craving 
for that which he most desires ? ' 

' I want that, Swami, which I am denied, 
and which my heart is bursting for — the love 
of a woman — there ! If thou hast magic 
power, as I am told thou possessest greatly, 
tell me how I can attain this ? ' 

' Is she so perverse ? ' asked Swami quietly. 

' Perverse isn't the word for it — she is ice, 
adamant — immovable as a rock ! Yes,' re- 
turned the Emperor despondently, ' she is as 
cold as she is beautiful ; and I have put her 
in prison ! And, oh, I am utterly miserable. 
Believe me, Swami, I cannot sleep, eat, or 
work, for I am intensely, hopelessly miserable.' 

' I am truly sorry to see thy Majesty in 
such a plight,' remarked Swami kindly. But 
why didst thou place the lady thou lovest in a 



238 MERCIA 

prison? It seems a high-handed way of 
dealing with a subject ; truly a mighty strange 
method of inducing her love ? ' 

' I was put in a quandary,' replied Felicitas 
candidly, for he knew there was no good 
gained by attempting to deceive the thought- 
reader ; ' I was suddenly surprised by visitors 
as I was attempting to detain her, when a 
craven spirit entered me, and I denounced 
her as a would-be murderer.' 

' Did she endeavour to harm thee ? ' in- 
quired Swami eagerly. 

' Yes, truly she raised her ebony life-pre- 
server to strike me if I touched her.' 

' But she did it in self-defence, evidently,' 
retorted Swami, while a bright light illumined 
his usually dreamy eyes. 

' Besides, those ebony trifles that ladies 
sometimes carry do not kill, they do but 
temporarily paralyse the part they touch.' 

' Oh, it matters little now, what they do — 
I wish she had killed me outright — anything 
but this dreadful torture of doubt to go 
through. This frightful fear nearly drives me 
mad — I wish it were all over.' 

' What ? ' inquired Swami, wishful to 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 239 

obtain a clear command from the king in so 
many words, for his thoughts were in a state 
of the wildest confusion. 

' The trial — the trial — I dread it. I 
heartily wish I had never sent that warrant. 
The Crown Prosecutor has got the case in 
hand, and, Swami, I am heartily ashamed of 
it. Help me, I pray thee, and tell me how it 
will all end, and I will well reward thee.' 

The Emperor looked like one distraught ; 
his blue eyes gleamed with feverish excite- 
ment : his lips twitched uneasily, and he 
clasped his hands together with the agony of 
his mind, over which fear more than repent- 
ance predominated. 

Swami soon perceived wherein the Em- 
peror's chief trouble lay. ' I see by the brain- 
waves emanating from thee that the woman 
thou lovest is in confinement in the first-class 
misdemeanants' quarters, in the Metropolitan 
Prison. Now that will do; I know enough. 
Let thy Majesty come at this hour to-morrow, 
and I will show thee what thou desirest to 
learn.' 

Then the Emperor remembering that the 
real object of his visit was not yet accom- 



240 MERC I A 

plished, blurted out — ' I desire to learn the 
issue of the trial, that is my chief care at 
present.' 

' Of that I am aware, Sire,' replied Swami 
courteously. 'Thou desirest to learn the issue 
of the trial on thine own account. I perfectly 
understand it. In the meantime I would 
advise that the lady be allowed her libert} T , 
subject to her own recognisances. It will be 
more advisable from every point of view, lest 
thy subjects deem thee harsh and unjust 
towards her. Whichever way the trial goes 
it is wise to show a merciful bearing, so that 
thou mayest retain thy subjects' good opinion. 
It cannot hurt the case for the lady will not 
flee, be well assured of that. She will prefer 
to face her case in open court, for by all 
accounts that have reached me of her 
character, Mercia isn't made of stuff to shirk 
a duty.' 

' Ha, Sorcerer, thou knowest her name ! 
Who told it thee ? ' exclaimed Felicitas in 
much surprise. 

' Thyself,' replied the Soul-Eeader, ' I read 
it on thy brain. Moreover, fear, more than 
love, predominates within thy bosom. Thy 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 241 

Majesty doth dread the testimony of the 
witnesses arrayed against thee.' 

'I do not deny it,' returned Felicitas 
meekly, for he was completely subdued by the 
two-fold influence of anxiety concerning the 
impending case, and awe of the Soul-reader's 
power to divine his thought. 

' I do not indeed, deny it,' he continued, 
' for I certainly dread that awful Sadbag, who 
with villainous guile hid behind the screen, 
and heard me plead my cause with the 
beauteous Mercia. But I must own it gives 
me more uneasiness the testimony of Mercia 
herself, for none will doubt her word.' 

' Then, let me advise thy Majesty to with 
draw the charge and set the lady at liberty 
forthwith. A king's cause should be just, 
and beyond suspicion : himself the personifi- 
cation of integrity, truth, and righteousness. 
He should rather suffer a slight, than in 
revenge work a great injury. The way of a 
king should be perfect.' 

Felicitas looking ill at ease endeavoured to 
take this rebuke lightly. ' The law still holds 
good that " a king can do no wrong." But. 
Swami,' he continued earnestly, and in a 

B 



242 MERCIA 

pleading tone, ' thine advice is good if my 
way be not : tell me first what the issue of 
the trial will be, and I will then accommodate 
myself to circumstances.' 

' Be it so,' answered Swami courteously. 
' Come at this hour to-morrow and I will be 
prepared.' 

When the Emperor arrived on the follow- 
ing day at the Soul-reader's dwelling, he was 
met at the door by Swami himself, who 
conducted him into his library. From thence 
he led him into an inner room, which having 
no window was in a state of complete 
darkness. 

' It has cost me many hours of labour to 
obtain this result,' explained Swami to his 
visitor, ' but it is, I believe, perfect. Presently, 
I will illumine the sensitive plate on which 
the scene is projected from my brain, and 
show to thy Majesty three pictures of the 
scenes which will certainly be enacted at the 
court, during the coming trial. For I find 
that the case will come off independently 
of thy action. I can only now advise what 
course thy Majesty can best take concern- 
ing it.' 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 243 

Then Swami, having all the results in 
readiness of his wonderful instrument — the 
psycho-register — touched a spring, and forth- 
with an immense illuminated picture, filling 
one side of the room and representing a scene 
in the Great Hall, of the Court, almost daz- 
zling in its brilliancy of colouring, instantane- 
ously appeared. So complete was the surprise 
of Felicitas that he started back, for the 
strange vividness, no less than the suddenness 
of the scene made him somewhat nervous : 
but Swami, accustomed to finding his visitors 
startled, kindly re-assured him. 

' Sire,' said he gently, ' be not alarmed, 
there is nothing to hurt thy Majesty.' 

It proved, in truth, a most wonderful and 
striking picture of the Great Justice Hall in 
the Metropolitan Court. Tiers of seats con- 
taining the elite of Great Britain, and Ireland, 
Berlin, Paris, and most of the European Con- 
tinent, were filled to overflowing ; for nobles 
and great dames, and even several crowned 
heads, had assembled from all parts to see 
the cause celebre. 

In the dock was seated Mercia, looking 
calm, beautiful, and self-possessed. She was 

B 2 



: 4 4 MERCIA 

arrayed in a flowing crimson velvet gown that 
cast a warm glow over her face which had 
paled considerably either through anxiety, or 
prison confinement. 

Innumerable opera glasses were being 
levelled at her by both sexes; while busy 
barristers in their black gowns and white 
wigs scanned their note-books. The place set 
apart for newspaper reporters was filled with 
representatives of the press setting in order 
their respective phonographs, which were to 
register the whole proceedings of the case. 
Where the distance was not great as soon as 
the court closed each day, the phonograph 
containing the evidence of the witnesses, 
speeches of the barristers, and in fact every- 
thing that was said at the trial, was packed off 
forthwith to the editor of each newspaper, by 
the quickest conveyance possible, who cut 
down the report as lie thought fit, to suit the 
dimensions of his space in the newspaper, and 
the fastidiousness of his readers ; for the 
frailties of human nature as delineated in a 
court of justice do not form at all times an 
edifying spectacle for the young, or the 
modest. 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 245 

On his feet stood the Crown Prosecutor, 
evidently stating his case, while Geometrus 
and Sadbag were seated at one side ; but no 
Emperor Felicitas could be discovered any- 
where : he indeed, was conspicuous by his 
absence, seeing he was the only witness in his 
own case. 

Felicitas gazed in amazement at the im- 
mense group photographed there ; ejaculat- 
ing from time to time, as he recognised each 
member of the nobility with whom he was 
acquainted, pictured before him. 

' By Jove ! ' he exclaimed, ' there is Nicholas 
of Russia, and his fat Empress ! How interested 
she looks — see she has got her ear-trumpet 
in use, endeavouring to miss nothing. And 
Louis of France, forsooth ; the new Louis 
Twentieth, not at all a bad looking fellow ! 
And Osbert my cousin, who averred he'd be 
dumb, but evidently intends to be neither 
blind, nor deaf. 

'And there's the Duke of Northumber- 
land, with his skinny spouse seated beside 
him ; whose skin is just like a piece of crinkled 
yellow leather. And Lord Lennox and his 
pretty bride ! Well, I must say, they're all 



246 MERCIA 

most excellent likenesses — they look indeed, 
like living pictures. What a treat they are 
getting ! An Emperor in a witness-box isn't 
an every-day occurrence, to be sure ! And, 
oh, there's Mercia, how pale, how beautiful, 
how sad she appears ! Ah, Swami, I have 
no heart to go on with this prosecution. I 
love her — I would die for her — canst thou 
not exercise thy magic and make her love 
me? ' 

'I possess no power over the human 
heart,' returned Swami coldly. ' My work is 
to make known futurity to a slight extent ; 
which will serve as a guidance to the inquirer 
in matters of difficulty. Besides,' added the 
Thought-reader lightly, ' thy Majesty is no 
longer in the matrimonial market. Why 
trouble then the lady when thou hast nothing 
to offer her but disgrace ? ' he inquired after 
a pause. 

1 1 would make her mine Empress,' cried 
Felicitas passionately. ' I would obtain a 
divorce and free myself from my intolerable 
fetters ! ' 

' Impossible ! ' urged Swami, as it seemed 
defiantly. ' Thy Majesty hath no just cause 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 247 

for putting away thine Empress : she is a 
model of marital purity, by all accounts.' 

* My plea would be on the ground of in- 
compatibility of temper : we do not agree in 
any way, and I shall never know happiness 
while I live with her. Besides, what is to 
become of the Succession, with a barren 
woman for Empress?' demanded Felicitas 
with a look of triumph in his face, for he 
imagined this would prove an unanswerable 
argument with the country. 

' The Succession,' returned Swami smiling, 
' can take no harm whatever, with the 
numerous cousins thy Majesty is favoured 
with. Moreover, it behoves me to remind 
thy Majesty that the Empress and thyself 
lived in perfect harmony up to the time that 
th} T mind wandered to the fair astronomer. 
Curb thy desires : keep thy way pure, and 
engage thyself in the affairs of the nation, 
taking good heed of thine high position, 
and Mercia will soon pass out of thy life. 
Thus all will in time go well with thee.' 

' How fine thou preachest, good Swami ! 
Surely thou hast mistaken thy vocation — 
for the gown of a priest would better befit 



248 MERCIA 

thee. Dost thou advise all thy customers 

in this strain ? ' exclaimed the monarch 

angrily. 

' I counsel each one who seeks my aid to 

the best of my ability. All who come hither 
do so of their own free will. I invite no one 
— I press no one. Let him who is dissatisfied 
with my forewarnings go his own way : I. 
will not quarrel with him for following his 
own council. For I find all men in the end 
carry out their own designs, even if the wis- 
dom of a Solomon, double-distilled, were to 
warn them of their folly.' 

' Swami, forgive me ! ' returned Felicitas 
humbly, ' I meant no offence ; but I was net- 
tled by being made to listen to good advice, 
to which I am treated daily. The Empress 
bestows uninvited this article so generously 
tli at in truth I want no more from anybody. 
Now, I pray, let us talk of Mercia ; would she 
marry me if 1 were free ? ' 

' She is destined for another, far beneath 
thy Majesty in social position ; but who can 
give her a heart wholly devoted to her : one 
who has never desired the love of woman till 
his eyes gazed upon her beauty — the beauty 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 249 

of her soul,' replied Swami, with a counte- 
nance irradiated with his own emotions. 

' To look at thee, Swami, and to hear thy 
speech,' cried the Emperor excitedly, ' one 
could only conclude that thou wert in love 
with her thyself! Her beauty of person is 
good enough for me : I know naught of soul- 
beauty ! Few men do, I opine, save sor- 
cerers ; and they need no femininities to com- 
fort them, being above such frailties, I 
presume. However, I am aware that Mercia 
is in love already. That fellow Geometrus 
desires her, and she loves him : at all events 
she told me as much. I suppose thy pro- 
phecy refers to him ; for he is one also who 
troubles little about the affairs of women ; for 
he slaves all day making astronomical in- 
struments for Mercia to do her star-gazing 
with. He is her devoted servant, and she ap- 
preciates him accordingly,' observed Felicitas 
cynically. 

' But will she marry him ? ' remarked 
Swami musingly. 

' Exercise thy soul- reading powers and 
discover for thyself,' answered the Emperor 
lightly. ' Turn on the next scene, if it be 



250 MERCIA 

ready, for I would learn all with as great a 
speed as possible,' he added. 

Upon hearing this request Swami pressed 
another button, and immediately the room 
was enveloped in darkness, and the picture 
vanished altogether from sight. The next 
picture which appeared upon the crystal 
plate, portrayed the court with the same 
visitors in similar order as before, but with 
this difference. The serious expression which 
the countenances of all present wore in the 
first instance was now changed to that of 
intense excitement in some, while the greater 
part of the audience seemed bursting with 
merriment. 

Sadbag, who was the centre of all eyes, 
was in the witness-box manipulating a phono- 
graph of the newest design, the boxed-up 
talk of which was being apparently reeled 
out for the benefit of the court ; the nature 
of its revelations proving irresistibly comic to 
the assembly's point of view, while the old 
man's air of triumph most graphically seemed 
to- say, 'What do you think of that my 
friends?' as he smirked with an 'I-told-you- 
so,' sort of expression on his face. 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 251 

Mercia on her part was blushing violently, 
Geometrus was scowling darkly, while all the 
barristers were endeavouring to conceal their 
merriment by fluttering their pocket-handker- 
chiefs under the pretence of blowing their 
noses. Prince Osbert was actually holding 
his sides ; while his face, puckered with merri- 
ment, seemed to say — ' Now isn't this ex- 
cruciatingly funny ? ' 

Mercia's counsel wore an air of happy 
triumph, which appeared to indicate complete 
satisfaction with his own good management 
of the case. Felicitas was absent, as before, 
but his Empress was among the audience, 
looking as flushed and angered as an injured 
wife might well be. 

' What the deuce is everybody laughing 
at ? ' queried the Emperor, while a deep 
frown crossed his face, — ' I cannot understand 
it!' 

Swami remained silent ; he knew full 
well what the phonograph was saying, but 
did not deem it wise to give the irascible 
monarch too much information. 

' Canst not thy Majesty comprehend the 
situation ? ' he demanded suavely. 



252 MERC I A 

1 No, I do not,' answered Felicitas hotly. 
' tell me the meaning of it all.' 

' Time alone will show the full develop- 
ment. There is sufficient pictured to give 
thy Majesty ample warning.' 

' It is easy enough to see that I shall be 
made a pretty laughing-stock for the whole 
world. That villain Sadbag has worked some 
vile trick upon me — that is very evident. 
Strange that thou art unable to explain what 
the beast is up to ! ' muttered Felicitas to 
himself, for he was bursting with rage at the 
very thought of the whole proceeding. 

' We have had enough of this,' observed 
Swami quietly, as he prudently pressed the 
extinguishing button, producing perfect dark- 
ness. 'We will now show the closing scene 
and dismiss the matter for to-night.' 

' I am weary of it all,' remarked the 
monarch disgusted with the portrayals of the 
magic crystal, ' I would I had never seen this 
sorcery, I shall not get a wink of sleep this 
night.' 

' Nor to-morrow night either,' said Swami 
coolly, as he switched on the light revealing 
the third and last of the wonderful pictures. 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 253 

' What meanest thou by that ? ' inquired 
Felicitas curtly. 

' The real trial commences to-morrow,' 
replied the Soul-reader calmly, ' a messenger 
is at this moment awaiting thy Majesty's 
return to remind thee of the date.' 

• To-morrow ! ' repeated the Emperor, 
' impossible ! This cannot be the date ! ' 

' It is truly,' said Swami compassionately, 
1 thine hour of trial is at hand. But see, here 
is Mercia's hour of triumph, mark how every- 
body is showing her honour, and offering their 
congratulations.' 

However striking these photo-crystal pic- 
tures had appeared, this last, without doubt, 
displayed the most stirring scene. It repre- 
sented the intense joy of a great multitude, 
who were offering their congratulations, and 
testifying their admiration of one who had 
gone through a severe ordeal, out of which 
she had come victorious. 

The whole populace were paying her their 
sincerest homage in honest English fashion. 
Some were waving their hats and cheering 
vociferously. While a number had removed 
from their shafts the four bay horses that 



254 MERCIA 

drew her chariot. This latter was standing 
near the gates of the law courts, and the men 
in warm enthusiasm, had commenced pulling 
the carriage themselves. 

Others were casting wreaths of bay leaves 
into her lap ; so numerous were they that a 
great pile was being formed in the centre of 
her carriage. These were intermixed with 
bouquets of the loveliest flowers, one of which 
was composed of the most cunningly-wrought 
blossoms, the leaves of which were studded 
with costly emeralds, and their buds bedewed 
with diamonds of immense value. This 
beautiful and generous gift was being offered 
by a gentleman whose face being turned aside, 
made the Emperor unable to discover the 
features. 

Mercia looked perfectly radiant with 
pleasure, as she bowed her numerous acknow- 
ledgments to the enthusiastic crowd that sur- 
rounded her. 

' By Jove ! ' exclaimed the Emperor ex- 
citedly, as he critically scanned the mysterious 
figure, 'I could swear those were thy dark 
curls clustering round thine ears ! ' 

' Curls are common enough, Sire, and dark 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 255 

hair is no rarity in thy realms,' replied Swami 
evasively, who seemed a little put out at the 
king's speech. 

Felicitas gazed with feelings of wonder 
and envy, intermingled with regret, upon the 
picture which glowed with resplendent colour- 
ing ; every figure in which presented such an 
apparent natural roundness that it was diffi- 
cult to imagine they were not endowed with 
life and motion. The lineaments of those 
with whom he was acquainted were so exactly 
dehneated, and the natural pose and bearing 
of each individual so vividly represented that 
he was impelled to put out his hand to touch 
one of them. 

' Hold ! ' exclaimed Swami quickly, ' touch 
it not, or thou art a dead man ! The shock 
would kill thee instantly, for these psycho- 
developments are wrought and illumined by 
strong frictional electricity of the deadliest 
kind ; the current of which is so powerful 
that it infinitely exceeds that of forked 
lightning.' 

' Ha ! ' ejaculated Felicitas paling, ' it is 
certainly foolhardy to meddle with such 
trickery ; but, in truth, I had forgotten myself 



236 MERC I A 

completely. It is without doubt the most 
beautiful creation I have ever seen ! How 
wonderfully art thou endowed, Swami, I 
would I were only half as gifted as thou art.' 
Then, the Emperor fixing his gaze upon the 
beauteous face of Mercia, who formed the 
central figure in the scene, and whose coun- 
tenance expressed the sweetest grace and 
modesty ; commenced to thus apostrophise 
her — ' This then is the end and issue of my 
suit ' 

' Which suit, thy lovesuit, or thy lawsuit ? ' 
interrupted Swami lightly ; for the Emperor's 
love-raptures for some reason annoyed him. 

' Which suit? ' repeated Felicitas dreamily. 

'Both suits, I suppose,' added Swami 
laughingly. 

' Ah truly,' sighed the Emperor, ' the twain 
have proved an utter failure. I thought to 
bring her low — to humiliate her — to place 
her in such a position as would force her to 
accept my royal clemency and bounty ; but 
alas, I have only brought about a public 
triumph for her, and public dishonour to 
myself! Oh, Swami let not this be the 
finishing scene ; thou art all-powerful, make 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 257 

another wherein Mercia is my bride, the 
crowned Empress of the Teutonic Empire.' 

' Be it so, Sire, a fourth picture shall 
appear wherein the completion of her triumph 
shall be projected. Retire a few moments, 
and I will conjure it presently.' 

In less than ten minutes, Felicitas was 
summoned into the dark room, and on the 
wonderful crystal there appeared the most 
beautiful vision of womanly loveliness that 
art had ever created. Mercia looking radiant 
with happiness, whose beauty was heightened 
and enhanced by the most costly draperies 
and diamonds that wealth could produce, 
was seated on a throne, surrounded by the 
imposing pageantry of a coronation ceremony. 
A crown composed of magnificent diamonds 
and various precious stones of immense value 
graced her well-shaped head, while brilliant 
gems sparkled in the rich embroidery of her 
magnificent robes. 

Eastern potentates, and native princes of 
the various Eastern possessions were paying 
her homage. Their Oriental costumes, rich 
with jewels and resplendent with vivid colour- 
ing lent a charm to the most magnificent scene 

s 



258 MERC I A 

of Oriental splendour that it was possible to 
conceive. 

' What an entrancing sight ! What per- 
fect loveliness ! ' murmured the Emperor, a3 
he gazed with rapture on the beautiful picture 
before him. 

* Mercia, dearest Mercia, how beautiful 
thou art ! Did I not divine thou wert made 
to grace a throne ? Oh, thou sweet Mercia, 
listen to me. What bliss to dwell with thee 
always ; to listen to the divine melody of that 
sweet voice ; to clasp in mine that beautiful 
hand ; to drink of the nectar of those ruby 
lips ; to know that thou wert all mine own ! 

' Oh, that I might share my crown, my 
realms, my all with thee ! Thou Queen of 
my heart, thou Light of my life ! 

c Art thou indeed to grace my throne ? Is 
this thy Bridal Day foreshown ? Swami,' con- 
tinued he, turning to the Soul-reader, ' is all 
that Eastern pageantry to lend its lustre to my 
second nuptials ? ' 

' Surely not,' answered Swami proudly, 
' does not thy Majesty perceive that it is alto- 
gether an Oriental picture ? ' 

' But I am the Emperor of India,' said 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 259 

Felicitas with much dignity, 'how then can 
Mercia be Empress unless / place the consort 
crown on her head ? ' 

'The days are numbered that see thee 
supreme Euler of my country : a week hence 
and India will have accomplished her free- 
dom.' 

'Has fate decreed that the Hindu shall 
exceed the English in physical strength ? If 
this be thy divination then I believe nothing 
of it.' 

' All the worse for thee, Sire. Believe that 
which yields thee most comfort, and forget 
my harmless prophecies. To-morrow attend 
the Law Courts, and see all things reversed, 
as thy heart desireth. Perhaps, like dreams, 
which are said to prove the contrary of what 
they picture, the reality will come out the 
opposite of all thou hast seen this day 
portrayed. It may be that Mercia, instead 
of being crowned an Empress, shall to- 
morrow be consigned to execution, or life 
imprisonment ? ' 

' I would sooner see her die than wedded 
to another,' murmured the Emperor moodily. 

' Thy Majesty is merciful as wise ! ' re- 

s 2 



260 MERCIA 

sponded Swami cynically, as he pressed the 
extinguisher for the last time, and set the 
room in darkness ; obliterating for the moment 
the entrancing portrait of the woman he was 
learning to love through the medium of soul- 
sympathy ; for he was as yet personally un- 
acquainted with Mercia. 

' I would I had never seen either thyself 
or thy psychical pictures,' said Felicitas bit- 
terly. ' What good is it looking into futurity ? 
It does but make one miserable beforehand. 
I cannot control the current of events ; all 
will take place exactly the same as if I had 
known nothing. To look into the future is 
but to anticipate life's troubles. 

* What earthly use to learn the issue of 
the trial to day, to-morrow would have been 
soon enough to know my ill-fortune.' 

' Balak-like thou wouldst have me curse, 
when I can only bless,' returned Swami. ' It 
is true that thy Majesty must reap as thou 
hast sown. We all live under this unalterable 
law. As the husbandman sows seed expecting 
its like to be reproduced, so we must be satis- 
fied to gather the fruit of our own actions. 
If we plant the crab, can we look for the 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 261 

apricot ? If we work dishonourable actions, 
can we reap honour thereby ? 

' The priest promises Heaven as the reward 
of a good life, but the only Heaven assigned 
to man is that of his own creation — the delight 
that pervades his soul in the knowledge that 
he has not lived in vain ; that he has been 
the source of comfort and happiness to others ; 
that he has kept the golden rule. Six little 
words, in fact, define it, — that he loves and is 
beloved — for human love, in all its various 
sections, is Heaven — no other Paradise exists.' 

* 'Tis the want of this, that's brought my 
trouble,' murmured Felicitas. ' If I had 
Mercia's love thenwouldst thou see how pious 
I could be.' 

'Is a child contented wholly when one 
desire is satisfied ? No, he cries hourly for 
new toys and new delights. Thy Majesty 
would weary in course of time with the 
beauteous Mercia, as thou hast wearied of thy 
spouse. Physical charms delight the eye for 
a season ; but if there be no union of psycho- 
magnetic sympathy there is no possibility of an 
enduring affection. Sire, be content ; as thou 
hast made thy bed, so must thou lie upon it.' 



262 MERCIA 

' That reminds me of my suit to-morrow,' 
interrupted Felicitas impatiently. ' What 
wouldst thou advise in this dilemma ? ' 

' The case is surrounded with difficulties,' 
answered Swami reflectively. ' If thou with- 
draw the prosecution, the defenders would 
persist in its being gone through. Sad bag, 
and Mercia's counsel would not miss giving 
the evidence they have in store, under any 
consideration. Her counsel has decidedly 
made up his mind that nothing shall induce 
him to let the case collapse. He will plead, 
if thou withdraw, that his client's character is 
at stake, and must be cleared by suitable in- 
vestigation of the charge. Besides, the charge 
is thine no longer : it is in the hands of the 
Public Prosecutor.' 

' I will be no witness for him,' cried Feli- 
citas, a new idea having crossed his mind. 
' This night urgent affairs of state shall sum- 
mon me to Berlin. Good-bye, Swami, for the 
present. We shall see whether thy soul- 
reading crystal plate has discovered to us the 
false or the true.' 

'Will thy Majesty be absent from the 
Great Test Trial next Tuesday ? ' inquired 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 263 

Swami, with a view of reminding him of the 
date of that event.' 

' By all above us, no,' emphatically ejacu- 
lated Felicitas, whose ideas and recollections 
were in a decided jumble. The Emperor, if 
he be alive, must without doubt, be present at 
the Tournament. 

' I do not see how it could legally take 
place without me ; for the king, whose 
realms are in dispute, is ever deemed the 
chiefest witness of the contest. 

' I have ample time ; for by to-morrow 
night Mercia's cause will have been heard and 
fully disposed of; there are still a few days 
left for the scandal to blow over, before the 
1st of May, when I will appear in my proper 
place, and fulfil the duties that belong to my 
royal state.' 

' How convenient to be a king, and know 
naught of the penalties of wrong-doing. A 
meaner mortal would be punished for perjury 
in such a case ! But here 'twill be glossed 
over, and the Emperor's clemency enlarged 
upon by his counsel,' thought Swami, as he 
conducted the monarch to the great doors, 
outside which his carriage stood in readiness. 



264 MERC1A 



CHAPTER X 

' Whence all this strange attraction ? 'Tis Nature's law, 
Which irresistibly impels and leads 
With forces so unutterably strong, 
And yet so hid — so wrapped in joy — concealed — 
That whence it conies we nothing know, nor why — 
We only know it is that Power called Love.' 

Idylls, Legends and Lyrics. 

As soon as Swami got rid of his visitor, he 
quickly made his way to the dark chamber, 
where he had been thirsting to rush for some 
time past, and turning on the force brought 
to view the psycho-development of the 
coronation scene, wherein the portrait of the 
beautiful astronomer was the centre-piece. 
He had in reality prepared this mental feast 
for himself, but was induced at the request of 
Felicitas to reveal its charms to that monarch. 
As she sat upon her golden throne sur- 
rounded by the Maharajahs, and Heads of the 
various Principalities of the Eastern Empire, 
decked in their glittering robes, their crowns, 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 265 

and other courtly splendours, heightened 
with all the attendant pomp of Eastern cere- 
monial, Swami saw only the person of the 
matchless Mercia ; for the rest possessed little 
interest for him at this moment. 

As his gaze dwelt upon her sweet face, he 
looked into her eyes with rapturous emotion, 
and clasping his hands together, knelt before 
this lovely delineation of his secret adoration, 
uttering in tenderest accents a passionate 
apostrophe. 

' 0, divine Mercia, I love thee ! Thou hast 
brought into my life a new element — a new 
force, as mysterious, as it is powerful. A 
new joy has come into my heart hitherto 
unknown. A new hope is imparted to my 
lonely life, irradiating its darkness, and giving 
the sweetest comfort known to the human soul. 
I read the magic mirror of thine eyes, and 
see thy soul all perfect, all pure, and unsullied. 

' I mentally see thy thought, and mapped 
out before me read the loveliness of thy mind ; 
for by the motions of thy brain I am acquainted 
with the rich treasures of thy cultured mind. 

' Thou wert made to inspire the deepest 
emotions in the human heart ; for the mighty 



266 MERCIA 

gift of soul-sympathy that pervades thy whole 
being, exercises such power over every mind 
that all bow to thy magic influence, deeming 
it a happiness to be near thee, however 
short the moment. 

' The lowliest feel thy charm, and draw 
comfort therefrom, while I, dearest Mercia, 
am inspired with ineffable delight ; for who 
could know thee and not be fired with the 
noblest aims — the highest aspirations ? 

1 Come then, sweet girl, come hither, and 
let mine eyes gaze upon the casket that 
contains such a rich jewel — the form that 
contains such a perfect soul ! ' 

Then Swami, raising himself from his 
kneeling posture, and standing erect, closed 
his eyes, and projecting from his nerve-centres 
a powerful stream of psychic-energy, which, 
rushing in waves through the air, almost 
instantly found its way to the fair prisoner. 

Immediately, without knowing the cause, 
she commenced thinking of the great Soul- 
reader, experiencing a strong desire to go and 
see him. 

Now, in consequence of Swami's advice 
the day previous, the Emperor had, at the 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 267 

proper quarters intimated his desire to bestow 
the royal pardon on the fair culprit ; which 
command being as quickly carried out as 
officialism would admit, Mercia was made 
acquainted with her position with little delay. 
When the governor of the prison read the 
document to Mercia which contained the 
so-called 'pardon,' an indignant flush rose 
instantly to her cheeks. 

1 Ah ! ' she disdainfully cried, ' the Emperor 
generously sends me a pardon before it is 
solicited, for a crime I have never committed ! 
His clemency oppresses me — it is really more 
than I can accept.' 

' It is certainly most unparalleled in prison 
records,' remarked the governor, who looked 
mystified. ' I don't know of a similar instance 
in all my experience. The pardon should be 
accorded after the sentence is passed, should 
the prisoner be found guilty. I understand 
that his Gracious Majesty being himself the 
prosecutor, departs from the ordinary routine 
observed in such matters. He desires to set 
thee at liberty without further delay.' 

'I cannot accept his Majesty's clemency 
without consulting my counsel,' replied Mercia 



268 MERCIA 

after a pause : ' the case is in readiness, he 
informs me, and witnesses are fully prepared 
to establish my innocence. I will therefore 
remain here until I have had a consultation 
with him. Be good enough to send for 
him at once, and we two will consider the 
matter.' 

While the governor of the prison was 
despatching his messenger to the barrister, 
Swami's brain-wave had in the meantime 
reached Mercia ; causing her to upset her 
plans somewhat ; for she found herself being 
impelled by a strong desire to regain her 
freedom without delay. 

Intimating her change of design to the 
governor, she took her departure from the 
prison ; and hiring a cab from the nearest 
public stand, — for electricity did not do 
away with the Jehu, it only altered the 
motive-power of his chariot — she instinc- 
tively gave orders to drive to the great 
Soul-reader, and ere long found herself at 
his door. 

' Why have I come hither ? ' she asked 
herself, as she was being led through the 
beautiful conservatory, which was brilliantly 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 269 

illumined by electricity, for the sun had gone 
down by this time. 

4 What has brought me here ? ' she mur- 
mured again to herself. 

' What brings everybody hither ? ' whis- 
pered Eeason in her ear. 

' Yes, yes,' she replied mentally to her 
prompter, ' of course I have come to consult 
the great man in my difficulty. I seek his 
advice and forewarning concerning the course 
I ought to pursue to-morrow. This is a great 
emergency. No barrister can determine how 
the trial will end ; for Justice hath so many 
ways of turning that the most righteous 
cause runs great risks in a law court. My 
case is not an ordinary one ; my counsel has 
had no experience in opposing the suit of an 
Emperor, for his own Sovereign is his oppo- 
nent ! The whole thing bristles with diffi- 
culties throughout.' 

A few seconds sufficed for these reflec- 
tions, for the motions of the brain are in- 
tensely rapid : she had only proceeded a few 
steps when Swami, who had come out to 
meet her, greeted her with the most profound 
respect. 



270 MERCIA 

His whole deportment displayed the deepest 
reverence of her, while his countenance was 
irradiated with the light of a great joy. 

1 Welcome, sweet Lady ! ' he murmured 
softly, ' wilt thou graciously come hither ? ' 
Saying which he conducted her into his 
library, displaying the utmost deference 
towards her, the while ; then leading her to 
the softest couch he begged her to be seated. 

* Thou art Dayanand Swami, the great 
Soul-reader, and I am Mercia Montgomery, 
the late Astronomer Royal,' she faltered out, 
hardly knowing what to say, she felt so 
singularly disturbed in her mind. 

' I have heard great accounts of thine 
attainments,' replied Swami, endeavouring to 
check his excitement, 'I have long desired 
the opportunity of meeting with England's 
rarest lady.' 

Mercia looked at him earnestly for a 
moment ; then blushed, and an instant later 
recovering herself, she smiled archly — 

'Ah ! ' she exclaimed, 'it seems to me that 
all men are given to flattery, I imagined that 
the illustrious Swami would have been an 
exception.' 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 271 

' Because all men say the same that proves 
it is no flattery,' said Swami deprecatingly ; 
' nevertheless it is not meet that one should 
give expression to his opinion while yet he is 
a stranger. Pardon me, Mistress Mercia, for 
the liberty taken. But let me entreat of thee 
to raise thy veil; otherwise I shall be at a 
disadvantage when reading thy destiny, which 
I presume, is the object of thy visit,' he added 
artfully. 

' Certainly,' answered Mercia innocently ; 
while another bright smile lit up her face 
with a singular radiance, as she threw back 
the dark veil with which she had been care- 
ful to conceal herself while coming from 
the prison. ' I do not use these things 
always,' she added, ' it was the disgrace of 
being seen come out of a prison that induced 
me to wear it at all.' 

' The disgrace is his who sent thither the 
innocent. The noon of another day shall 
place the dishonour where it is due. Lady, 
I am acquainted with thy design in coming 
here, it is to learn the issue of thy trial. 
Kest assured, all is well ; the arrangements 
are perfect that thy friends have made.' 



272 MERCIA 

' Even so my counsel tells me : he says 
the evidence of Sadbag who was in the room 
during the time that the Emperor accuses me 
of attempting his life is most convincing. 
Nevertheless, as the old man himself is 
accused of conspiring with me against his 
Majesty, the Emperor, I have my fears anent 
the trial's issue ; for such evidence will not be 
credited the same as if he were an indepen- 
dent witness. But now the matter has taken 
another aspect. This day a pardon has come, 
unsolicited by me, from the Emperor, and I am 
fully released without a trial, without condem- 
nation, I am 'pardoned I Unfold to me this 
mystery, I pray, and give me thy good counsel.' 

All this time the Soul-reader was gazing 
upon the beautiful face turned towards him 
in anxious appeal : knowing full well of the 
certainty of her position, his mind was not 
disturbed with the perplexities of the situa- 
tion. Nevertheless, he deemed it impolitic to 
explain everything fully : such information 
could not turn the current of affairs, he 
argued to himself; it would only have the 
effect of increasing her reluctance to appear 
in court at all. 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 273 

' Let thine anxieties be dispersed at once,' 
he urged gently, ' there is no cause at all 
for alarm : only trust thy good friend Sad- 
bag ; he will make it pretty warm for the 
Emperor.' 

' How so ? ' inquired Mercia, with great 
curiosity. 

' By his evidence, of course,' replied 
Swami, who hesitated to recount the full 
extent of Sadbag's revelations, which could 
only increase her embarrassment. 

' Is this all then, that the great Soul-reader 
can show me ? ' exclaimed Mercia in a dis- 
appointed tone of voice ; ' I hoped to have 
seen the wonderful mind-reflecting mirror 
that all the world speaks of. Is there nothing 
at all in my future that is worthy of trans- 
mission to the plate ? If nothing better, then 
show me my future husband ; ' she demanded, 
while a roguish smile dimpled her face. 

' Show thee thy future husband ! ' re- 
peated Swami nervously, ' I cannot, because 
I dare not,' he added in evident excitement. 

' But I desire it,' persisted Mercia, ' I fain 
would learn if there be such an individual in 
store for me.' 

T 



274 MERCIA 

'I will tell thee whom thou shalt not 
marry, if that will suit,' returned Swami 
earnestly ; with a view of evading the inquiry. 

'That is indeed a negative method of 
satisfying a lady's curiosity,' laughed Mercia 
gaily. ' Well, then whom shall I not marry F 

* Neither Felicitas, nor Geometrus,' replied 
he emphatically. 

Mercia coloured violently upon hearing 
Geometrus' name thus mentioned, then trying 
to regard it lightly, she observed — ' Who is it, 
show me his reflection ? ' 

' Not to-night. Come again, dear lady, 
and the portrait shall be in readiness for 
thee.' 

'Ah, Swami,' returned Mercia sweetly; 
' I perceive that thou art only playing with me. 
Thou knowest full well, that neither love nor 
marriage is for me. If I win my case, I return 
to my post. My work is my bridegroom ; 
I am bound to no other ; for therein is centred 
my every thought — my whole life-work.' 

' The observation of the heavenly bodies 
shall be thy life-work no longer ; thou art 
called to do work even more glorious than 
the study of the great universe ; for thou art 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 275 

destined to rule millions of human beings, 
whose happiness depends upon thy wisdom, 
whose well-being is assured by thy just ad- 
ministration. Princes shall pay thee homage : 
the great ones of the earth shall be proud of 
thy friendship. All nations shall vie with 
each other in showing thee honour ; and thine 
own people shall love and adore thee.' 

The Soul-reader uttered his prophecy as 
one in a dream. With his hands clasped 
together, and quivering with the violence of 
his emotion, he seemed insensible to his 
surroundings. His great dark eyes were 
filled with a wonderful light, whose luminous 
rays seemed to possess the power of reaching 
into futurity. Unconsciously to himself, the 
waves of soul-sympathy filled the air, and 
entering Mercia's system set her heart beating 
wildly with an ecstatic pleasure, that was an 
entirely new experience. 

Trembling with delight she awaited the 
moment when the fever of his excitement 
should have subsided ; and searched his 
countenance for the first sign, that she might 
question him further. 

' Oh, Swami,' she exclaimed, at length ; 

T 2 



276 MERCIA 

for she could wait no longer — ' whose kingdom 
shall I govern, and where are my dominions ? 
Is it well that one so ignorant of State 
affairs as I should be advanced to such 
immense responsibility — such power — such 
glory? Thou hast indeed painted a picture 
glowing with bright colour. Should not thy 
psychic power point to some experienced 
potentate, more worthy than I ? Is not this 
a word-blunder — some curious coincidence of 
name that hath upset thy calculations? It 
is not I, Mercia, the astronomer, who is 
destined for this brilliant future; this most 
glorious career ? ' 

' It is thou, Mercia, and no other,' re- 
sponded Swami impressively — ' there is no 
king, or high potentate better fitted for this 
proud position. If thou art filled with doubts, 
see the proof, and banish thy scepticism forth- 
with. Come hither, and look upon thy 
portrait, brain-painted upon the sensitive 
plate beneath the crystal.' 

Taking her hand he led her, all quivering 
witli emotion, into the dark chamber, when 
turning on the energy he dispJa} T ed the glitter- 
ing picture, ablaze with brilliant colouring ; 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 277 

every figure presenting that aspect of round- 
ness, which seemed to endow it almost with 
life. 

' Oh ! It is myself — my very self ! ' she 
exclaimed excitedly, her face lit up with the 
intensity of her varying sensations. ' How 
beautiful ! Is it possible that I shall ever 
look like that ? What splendid jewelled 
robes ! What a magnificent crown, all ablaze 
with costly diamonds, sapphires, emeralds, and 
rubies ! How rich the Indian gold appears of 
which the throne is composed, set in contrast 
with the white marble of the floor ! 

' What a glorious assemblage of Eastern 
princes, paying homage to their Empress, and 
arrayed in all their courtly splendour ! This 
is, truly, a scene from some ancient Eastern 
fairy tale, told thousands of years ago by the 
imaginative Asiatic, and thou, Swami, hast 
made my portrait its centrepiece. Is it not 
so ? ' she inquired ; for her inherent modesty 
made her doubt again. 

Then, Swami, his dark, speaking eyes 
filling with tears, and his heart swelling with 
deep disappointment at seeing her doubt his 
integrity, for a moment turned upon her a 



278 MERCIA 

sad, reproachful gaze ; when immediately, a 
sudden passion seized him, forcing him pre- 
maturely, and against his judgment, to give it 
utterance. 

' Mercia, dost thou doubt me ? Would I 
deceive the one being for whom my heart 
yearns ? I love thee — I love thee, thou gifted 
one ! Thou art, indeed, soul of my soul, life 
of my life ! Thou art the true living elixir ; 
the true soul-energy which can for all time 
support my spirit. Thou dost inspire a new 
energy into my being — a new goal for my 
aspirations ! Thy life-essence can alone mingle 
with mine, for only thy soul can hold com- 
munion with mine. 

' Physically, I have never before seen thee. 
These material, and natural mirrors of the 
human brain have never until now reflected 
thine image on their surface ; nevertheless, I 
have crazed on thee through the medium of 
my soul-sight, and have drank in the delight 
of thy beauty. 

' I have looked into thy very soul, and read 
its inmost workings — thy beautiful unsullied 
soul, clear as the limpid waters. 

' Thy thought is no longer thine own ; it is 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 279 

mine, by the gift of divine love ! Yea, thou 
art mine, and I am thine ! ' Swami gave utter- 
ance to his passionate ecstasy as one in a dream, 
where the faculties being highly exalted create 
sensations of the most delightful character. 

His face, beautiful in feature, and spiritual 
in expression at all times, was now irradiated 
with the glowing fire of love. 

This new emotion filled him with a subtle 
rapture, imparting to him a new fervour that 
lent a charm to every look and motion. 

His dreamy eyes had turned intensely 
brilliant, their excitement spreading to every 
muscle of the face, imparted over all his 
countenance a delicious softness, that instantly 
set every nerve in Mercia's frame a-throbbing. 

To her, as to him, it was indeed, a supreme 
moment, making her dumb by reason of its 
intensuy, as of its suddeness and power. Her 
countenance was overspread with the warm 
glow of the unseen, mystic force, while her 
bosom heaved with tumultuous emotions. 
Speechless she sat, with downcast eyes, lost 
in a silent joy, while delicious sensations that 
were entirely new to her, thrilled her whole 
frame. 



28o MERCIA 

' Is this then Love ! ' she exclaimed at 
length ; while a tone of ineffable tenderness 
pervaded her utterance, making her voice 
low, soft, and melodious. 

' Am I then too, a victim to this conqueror 
of the world — a prisoner bound in sweet 
captivity, with not the faintest wish to cast 
away my fetters? Is this that strange and 
subtle power that guides and shapes the 
destinies of the whole world ; whose dominion 
the strongest bow to, whose sceptre sways 
over prince and peasant ? ' 

' Even so, sweet Mercia, this is love. This 
is that which the Gods gave to sweeten the 
labours of mankind : for who could bear the 
burden of life from birth to death without this 
gracious comfort to sustain him?' answered 
Swami, as moving nearer to her side he took 
her hand in his, and covered it with passionate 
kisses. 

' I had thought,' she murmured in a low 
voice ' that love was not for me ; that my life 
should be devoted to my work. That the 
honour attained by the close fulfilment of my 
duties would be ample reward. 

' My ambition was to endeavour to be the 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 281 

best astronomer the world has ever seen. 
But now this dream has passed away, I am 
even as other women, who love and are 
beloved, and seek no more.' 

' My beloved, this is the sum of life's 
happiness. Without love life is a mere 
wilderness. He who goes through life unloved 
and unloving has wasted his existence. 

' The ascetic hopes for great reward when 
he reaches the Heaven of his desires ; but 
man may make or mar his own Paradise by 
his own hand. His own course of life shapes 
it.' 

'To me, Swami,' whispered Mercia ear- 
nestly, ' it is happiness supreme to know that 
thou art near. The world may shower its 
favours, or award its indifference : it is all the 
same to me. I am satisfied with the know- 
ledge of thy love.' 

' And I am mad with joy ! ' cried Swami 
passionately, as he covered her face with 
ardent kisses ; the first he had ever bestowed 
on woman ; the first she had ever received 
from man, 

' Once I thought,' she resumed, ' that the 
tender regard in which I held Geometrus was 



2S2 MERC 7 A 

known by this name. But now mine eyes 
are opened. I see that Friendship, not Love, 
inspired my affection. This new emotion 
hath another birth ; a different force behind 
it : for notwithstanding what has happened 
this night I feel the same sincere regard for 
him. His love for me never gave birth to 
the feeling that thine hath done : for I 
deliberately disregarded it, deeming my work 
of greater importance. But for thee, Swami, 
there is nothing I would not do — even to die ; 
for life without thy love would be a living 
death.' 

' Geometrus ! ' exclaimed Swami, starting 
at the name : 4 In my own great joy I had 
forgotten his disappointment. His loss is my 
great gain. I would I could comfort him by 
making him acquainted with the honourable 
future that is in store for him. For he will 
distinguish himself above all in his profession, 
and the whole world shall honour him.' 

' Dear, dear Geometrus, thou dost indeed 
deserve it ! ' cried she enthusiastically, for 
her heart pained at the thought of what his 
sorrow would be in losing her. ' But tell me, 
Swami, of my coming glory. Where is this 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 2S3 

Empire that I am destined to govern, and 
how can such a wonderful event be brought 
about ? ' 

' It is the Empire of India, my sweet one : 
it is the home of my fathers — my own 
beautiful country ! ' he exclaimed rapturously. 
' Thou wilt be chosen by the vote of the 
nation as their first Empress To thee is 
given the honour of establishing the Royal 
Line for India! Thou and I, Mercia ; our 
children, and children's children shall hold 
the reins of Government through all genera- 
tions. 

'Then will be re-established the sove 
reignty of my forefathers, who reigned in 
India five hundred years ago. When thy 
coronation takes place will be fulfilled the 
prophecy of my father's father who predicted 
that in one hundred years a woman, young, 
beautiful, and talented, should reign over his 
country, dwelling with her people in happi- 
ness and peace.' 

' How can these things be ? ' mused 
Mercia, as she clasped her hands together 
oppressed with this vision of greatness. 

'The Great Test Tournament is the first 



284 MERC I A 

step towards its attainment. In a few days 
it is here ; victory will be ours, and India 
will be free to choose her own Ruler. Leave 
the rest to God, for thou hast no part in its 
arrangement. The honour will be awarded, 
unsought by thee.' 

' I have still all to learn concerning the 
Administration of this great country,' said she 
reflectively. ' It is true I am acquainted with 
its history from a scholar's point of view, but 
practically I know nothing. 

' To rule a people successfully, we should 
be in perfect sympathy with them ; under- 
standing their mode of thought, customs, and 
prejudices ; actually knowing their inner life. 

' It is impossible to rule a people justly, 
and legislate to meet their wants fully and 
completely, except we be in touch with them 
throughout.' 

' I will teach thee, Mercia, all this,' said 
Swami eagerly. ' I will be ever at thy side to 
tell thee all that thou wouldst know. See,' 
said he, pointing to his noble tiers of books, 
for now they were in his library, ' we two 
will read and study them together, and from 
those silent teachers of every age gain the 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 28; 

piled-up wisdom of numerous generations, in 
a short space.' 

' What a treasury of ancient lore ! ' ex- 
claimed Mercia, as rising from her seat, she 
went from tier to tier examining their con- 
tents. 'I shall have a continual feast — a 
daily enjoyment of wonderful Oriental litera- 
ture, as soon as I have mastered the necessary 
knowledge of up-to-date administration, which 
of course, shall have my first attention.' 

'And by marking the mistakes of the 
present Administration, correct thine own,' 
added Swami, as he gazed lovingly upon her 
every movement. 

Thus conversing far into the night, on 
this most absorbing topic ; to the one, newly- 
born, and deeply interesting, by reason of its 
approaching associations; to the other, for 
its memories of the past; its unsatisfactory 

present, — from a patriot's point of view, 

and its promise of a glorious future, the 
hours sped away unconsciously ; till at length, 
Mercia felt a languor stealing over her ; 

which Swami perceiving suddenly exclaimed 

' Dearest, thou art wearied. It is not meet 
to go forth at this hour. Be my truest to- 



286 MERC J A 

night, and to-morrow we two will attend the 
trial, for now thou art my especial care.' 
Then summoning his attendants he bade 
them bring in certain refreshments of jellies, 
and light wines ; after partaking of which, 
the servants conducted her to a richly fur- 
nished sleeping-chamber. Amidst the pearly- 
tinted silken sheets, and richly embroidered 
coverlet, all delicately perfumed, Mercia sank 
into a sound and refreshing slumber, giving 
no thought to the trial on the morrow, or the 
difficulties her case would present now that 
she had practically accepted the king's 
pardon, without her counsel's consent. 



287 



CHAPTER XI, 

The next morning when Mercia awoke and 
found herself in this luxurious bed-chamber, 
surrounded by every comfort that modern in- 
vention could bestow ; for every article of 
utility represented some rare work of art; 
and every imaginable want was supplied by 
the most ingenious arrangements ; it seemed 
to her that she had gone through a series of 
delightful scenes in a dream of wonderful 
vividness. 

The recollection of the previous evening, 
in which so much was seen, and so much 
experienced, made it difficult to believe that 
it possessed any greater solidity than the 
pictures in some stereoscopic arrangement. 
But the great fact that a new and supreme 
joy reigned in her bosom — that she loved, 
and was beloved — proved convincing evidence 
of its reality. For the first time in her life 



288 MERCIA 

she felt the supreme happiness — the unutter- 
able joy of this unique exaltation that comes 
once, or perhaps twice, in a lifetime to every 
human being. 

When she had descended the magnificently 
carved staircase that led into the reception 
rooms, she was met by Swami himself, who 
conducted her into the breakfast-room where 
an inviting meal was awaiting her. The 
most nourishing dishes, where the palate and 
the digestion were equally considered being 
placed on the table by native servants, as 
soon as she had put in an appearance, to 
which she paid fair justice. 

She was in excellent spirits ; notwithstand- 
ing the thought of the ordeal that lay before 
her ; for nothing could damp, or depress them 
while under the influence of the present bliss, 
and future dignities promised her. 

Swami, too, looked supremely happy. A 
quiet, suppressed joy beamed in his deep, 
dreamy eyes, which shed its light over his 
expressive countenance. His voice too, had 
a special softness in its tone, that was pecu- 
liarly charming to Mercia's sensitive ear. 

It was, in truth, the most delightful meal 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 289 

for these two beings that had been their lot 
to partake of ; the lives of both having been 
hitherto solitary, laborious, and even ascetic 
to some extent. 

'Now, isn't this delightful!' laughed 
Mercia, gaily. ' How nice everything tastes 
when one has good company ! King Solomon 
knew what he was talking about when he 
uttered oracularly — " Better a dinner of herbs 
where love is, than the stalled ox," et cetera ; 
but in our case we score heavily, having the 
enjoyment of both commodities.' 

6 The proverb holds good all the same ; ' 
replied Swami ; ' with thee, my Life, the 
dinner of herbs would be a banquet, for thy 
face is a continual feast for me ; thy presence 
would sweeten the coarsest fare.' 

1 When I enter my kingdom, Swami — but 
there — I cannot realise my future glory — I 
feel that this is greatness thrust upon me ! I 
cannot conceive why the people of India 
should think of me — me — a poor astronomer ! 
I have no regal blood in my veins — no 
glorious ancestry to boast of. 

' It is true my mother accomplished some 
good for the women of India, devoting a 

u 



iqo MERCIA 

great part of her life in the promotion of their 
welfare ; but that can scarcely bring any 
weight to the balance in my favour, in such a 
case as this : the whole matter to my mind is 
inexplicable,' said she reflectively. 

Swami smiled, as he watched the puzzled 
look upon her face, for of course it was all 
clear enough to him why the people of India 
had picked her out as the representative of 
their country's eminence and glory ; after a 
pause, he thought it no harm to tell her some- 
what of the situation. 

' There are but two topics talked of just 
now, not only throughout this Empire but 
the whole world. They form subject for con- 
versation everywhere. The Court ; the spirit 
cafe, the theatre, the club, the dinner-table ; 
the street corner, the race-course, wherever 
men congregate, or women either, the chief 
food for talk is The Great Test Tournament, 
and the impeachment for high treason, of 
Mercia, the Astronomer Eoyal, and her two 
friends — Geometrus,the Assistant Astronomer, 
and Sadbag the Politician. 

1 It is well-known how the case stands, for 
Sadbag gave it to the whole world immediately 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 291 

before his imprisonment. Everyone believes 
in thine innocence, and the Emperor's guilt. 
They say he ought to be indicted for perjury — 
but from his position that is impossible. There 
are even now hundreds of letters in thy 
counsel's keeping expressive of the sympathy 
of every country. France offers thee a similar 
position in her Empire as that thou hast 
resigned here, Russia does the same, even 
before they know the issue of the trial ; but 
when thine innocence is proved beyond dis- 
pute, every country will vie with each other 
in showing thee honour ; the only method 
open to them of displaying their contempt 
of Felicitas' unworthy conduct. A two-fold 
motive will inspire India to top them all in 
glorifying thee. One is sincere admiration for 
thy character and attainments, the other is the 
punishment of their country's tyrant, by the 
promotion of one he sought to ruin ; for it was 
Felicitas' influence which made the Worlds 
Tribunal Trial of no account for India. 

' For this reason they do not bless him — 
they curse him by electing thee — his enemy 
— an enemy of his own making — for of all 
men thou shouldst despise him utterly.' 

IT 2 



2Q2 MERC I A 

' I clo heartily despise him — he's the 
meanest cur I know,' remarked Mercia 
excitedly ; ' he is capable of saying anything 
to save his own skin : he had scarcely 
finished protesting how much he loved me, 
when to suit the situation he turned round 
and made a false charge against me, and 
my two friends who were witnesses of my 
innocence.' 

' That matches my experience of him to a 
tee,' returned Swami, who was growing quite 
communicative with Mercia. ' He came yester- 
day to have his fortune told ; he wished to 
learn the issue of the trial, hoping all would 
go well with him. I showed him the principal 
phases of the trial, projected on the psychic- 
plate beneath the stereoscopic crystal, the 
sight of which made him boil with anger — he 
was vexed beyond description, and for my 
pains in bringing out these splendid psycho- 
developments I only got his growlings to the 
effect that he wished he had never troubled 
himself at all to seek my aid. " Thou wouldst 
have me curse, when I can only bless," said I, 
and gave him good counsel, at which he fumed 
impatiently. But of all vacillating hounds, I 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 293 

think he takes the cake. One moment love, 
or rather desire, then fear, envy, revenge, 
swayed him by turns : he changed about like 
a weathercock moved by every wind. 

' However, fear was uppermost in his mind, 
all through, and reached its climax when he 
beheld the pictures, so finally he decided to 
take his flight to Berlin where he intends 
remaining until the trial be well over, and all 
its attendant gossip grown stale, as he hopes. 

' But the 1st of May will bring him back ; 
he cannot miss the Great Test Tournament 
which quickly follows to-day's event. Both 
will end disastrously for him, and none will 
say " he's sorry." ' 

'I'm sorry I can't feel sorry either,' re- 
marked Mercia laughingly. ' But Swami, I 
must away now, and explain to my counsel 
this new aspect of affairs. He must be 
prepared for the changes that have taken 
place last night — the Emperor's withdrawal 
of the suit ; his flight, and my discharge from 
prison. It is necessary that he be made 
acquainted with these altered conditions, and 
shape his course accordingly.' 

'My carriage is in readiness for thee, 



294 MERC1A 

Mercia, at any moment thou art ready to 
depart. Shall I accompany thee, or no ? ' 

' I would prefer seeing him alone, dear 
Swami, I am not prepared to make my 
lawyer my confessor, as would be almost 
necessary if I were in thy company at such a 
time. But I count upon thy presence near 
me at the trial, for few are my friends. I 
have led the life of a recluse almost, so great 
has been my devotion to my work, and this is 
how that ingrate has rewarded me. Farewell, 
dearest, for one hour only — in that time I 
will see thee at the court.' And Mercia 
stepping into the well-appointed carriage 
belonging to Swami was driven away to the 
barrister's. 



295 



CHAPTER XII 

The Great Justice Hall, as it was named, was 
of such dimensions that it afforded accommo- 
dation for several thousands of persons, who 
on this occasion of unprecedented interest 
availed themselves of it without delay. A 
long line of carriages containing the elite of 
society awaited the opening of the great 
door with that admirable spirit of patience 
which the aristocracy display on great occa- 
sions. A few of these vehicles were drawn 
by horses, but most were impelled by electric 
motive force. 

A queue of persons who kept no ' carriage 
steerer,' doing their own driving usually, had 
come on foot, and had taken their places in 
the order of their arrival, for the indecent 
rioting and pushing for priority of places at 
the doors of public buildings was put down 
by this time, a lady member of Parliament 



296 MERCIA 

having brought a bill to make this unruly 
behaviour punishable as street- brawling. 

By the time the Court was opened every 
available seat was filled, not only by the 
elite of the Empire, but by members of the 
Continental aristocracy also ; including two 
Crowned Heads among their number. On 
all great occasions, when a crush was ex- 
pected, the public were admitted by ticket, 
which could be obtained by application to the 
Usher, who issued no greater number than 
the accommodation afforded. 

The Emperor Nicholas, the Fourth, of 
Eussia, accompanied by his Empress ; the 
newly-crowned Emperor, Louis XX., of France, 
occupied seats set apart for the creme de la 
creme of the aristocracy. 

It was, in point of fact, attended by a 
crowd of great personages, whose importance 
could not admit of their presence at any 
ordinary affair, however swift the means of 
locomotion lessened the inconvenience of 
travel. 

It was not every day that an Emperor 
appeared in the witness box, and on such 
an unparalleled occasion it was necessary to 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 297 

make an effort and not miss such a rare 
treat. 

Then Mercia, herself, had occupied such 
a high position in everybody's estima- 
tion that the charge against her of High 
Treason, by her threatened assault on the 
sacred person of his Majesty, gave a piquancy 
to the affair which no vulgar assassin could 
have afforded. Besides, those ' in the know,' 
expected to hear evidence so deliciously spicy 
that to miss it would have been barbarity. 
Foreign journals having given strong hints of 
the situation in their gossiping columns, in- 
spired by Sadbag's telegrams to the secretaries 
of clubs in various cities, including several 
continental clubs among their number. 

Of course the newspapers circulating in 
the Teutonic Empire were much too circum- 
spect to hint at the true aspect of the affair. 
To have anticipated evidence ; or to have 
expressed an opinion on a case still pending 
would have led to serious difficulties, proving 
most embarrassing to the proprietors. Con- 
sequently, a distracting shade of mystery 
surrounded the coming trial, making it par- 
ticularly attractive to everybody. 



293 MERCIA 

Whilst awaiting the proceedings, the 
anxious auditory amused themselves by giving 
expression to their private opinions, which 
no law of libel at any period of social history 
has been found powerful enough to repress. 

' What glorious fun ! ' cried the young 
sprig of nobility, ' Felicitas falling out with 
his lady Astronomer. I wouldn't miss it for 
worlds ! ' 

' What a disgraceful episode in the annals 
of Royalty ! ' remarked the elderly prude, 
who was evidently as anxious as the fastest 
of swell-ocracy to listen to the forthcoming 
details. 

4 1 wouldn't be Mercia for millions ! It is 
altogether frightful to have such dealings with 
a man ! ' exclaimed the serious young lady ; 
who showed her abhorrence of such indecency 
by bringing her opera glasses to scan the 
scene more critically. 

' The Emperor has done quite right, to 
make a stand against the machinations of 
rabid Republicans ; ' remarked a staunch 
Royalist. 'We won't know where we are 
if this kind of thing goes unpunished. It is 
evident on the face of it that it is a conspiracy 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 299 

to lower the Imperial prestige, so as to pave 
the way for a Eepublic, when the government 
of the Empire would become a hotbed of 
office seekers, rivalling America of a hundred 
years ago, whose motto was, — "National 
good go hang, we'll feather our nest while we 
may." ' 

' This comes of the preposterous advance- 
ment of women : had the Astronomer Eoyal 
been a man such a scene could not have 
occurred,' observed an acidulated Science- 
failure of the male sex, whose ill-success at 
competitive exams, had rendered vicious. 

* If it be a political intrigue, as the 
Royalist journals aver, how can sex affect 
her loyalty ? The same might have happened 
with a variation, had the Astronomer Eoyal 
been of the male sex,' returned his neighbour. 

4 It is a love-intrigue, ending with the 
usual quarrel,' whispered an elderly Solomon, 
wise in the knowledge of the world's weakness. 

'I thought Mercia incapable of love- 
intrigues, or any other, being a perfect model 
of all the virtues,' answered his neighbour. 

' All women are " perfect " till they're 
tried,' uttered the same cynic dryly. 



3O0 MERCIA 

' Which means that Mercia is no better 
than she should be,' laughed another. 

'Perhaps she was too good,' remarked a 
third. 

' Which way ? ' inquired his friend, poking 
him with his elbow. 

' That the evidence must show,' replied 
another of the coterie. 

* Was there ever a case where the honest, 
downright truth was given on either side ? 
I never knew one,' emphatically declared 
another of the group. 'It has been the 
same through all time,' he added after a 
pause, ' for an eminent judge of the nine- 
teenth century averred that throughout the 
whole course of his long experience on the 
woolsack he had never come across a case 
where the evidence was not, in more or less 
degree, suppressed.' 

' The world's stage keeps pretty much the 
same all through the piece ; humanity is very 
human yet ; ' sighed a white-haired old gen- 
tleman, with a very sweet expression on his 
countenance. 

i It will be sinfully disappointing if the 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 30 r 

case is hushed up,' whispered one man to his 
neighbour, in another part of the Hall. i The 
Emperor is non est : he has bunked ! ' 

'What! Has he fled ? Impossible! He 
dare not do so. He threw the gauntlet, and 
must abide the issue. He cannot run away,' 
returned his friend who was bewildered with 
amazement. 

1 All the same, he is off, gone to Berlin on 
important State affairs, leaving word that the 
trial could be abandoned altogether, or take 
its chance without him.' 

' I hope it won't be permitted to fall 
through,' cried the other man excitedly ; ' it 
would be monstrous after all this fuss, and 
preparation.' 

' I cannot find an adjective in our lan- 
guage strong enough to express my dis- 
appointment if it collapse. I want to see 
Mercia righted ; she is honour and probity 
itself, and the opportunity of clearing her 
character should not be denied her, notwith- 
standing the absence of her accuser.' 

' See,' said his friend, ' the Empress is 
taking her seat near Nicholas of Russia, that 



3 02 MERCIA 

looks healthy — she is doubtless expecting a 
denouement of which she wishes to be the 
witness.' 

' But there is no Felicitas to escort her, 
that proves the account of his flight to be 
trustworthy.' 

' I wish her joy of the situation,' remarked 
an all-knowing one ; ' she'll wish a thousand 
times over she had kept away.' 

Just before the great clock pointed at 
half-past ten, disengaged barristers, who came 
to see and hear for the sake of gaining ex- 
perience, took their appointed seats, for this 
custom was formally recognised. 

Counsel engaged in the case, arrayed in 
gown and wig, appeared also, whose capabili- 
ties were freely discussed by the onlookers. 

But, when Mercia, escorted by the re- 
nowned Swami entered the Hall, so universal 
was the feeling in her favour, that a great 
burst of applause greeted her appearance. 

It was as spontaneous as it was unusual, 
for that great mass appeared to be moved by 
one emotion, which could only find utterance 
by an intense roar of hand-clapping ; signify- 
ing as plainly as if delivered in so many 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 303 

words — ' Mercia, we believe in thee : before 
we hear thy defence we feel in our hearts 
that thine is a just cause, and thou art good 
and true to the core ! ' 

Mercia raised her eyes, and looking round 
at the assembled people, smiled sweetly, and 
bowed her head in acknowledgment of the 
sympathy accorded her ; while attendant 
ushers vainly called for silence, deeming it 
their duty to put down all demonstrations of 
approval. 

She was attired in a rich crimson velvet 
gown that fell in graceful folds from her 
shapely shoulders ; the hue of which lent a 
deeper rose-tint to her cheeks, whose colour 
had somewhat paled during her incarceration. 

But what appeared most inexplicable to 
the multitude was the expression of serene 
sweetness that overspread her countenance. 
It was indeed an indefinable expression, in- 
dicating a variety of emotions. Joy, content, 
intense happiness, and possession, all united 
in imparting to her face a look of subdued 
and silent triumph ; but he who could gaze 
beneath the surface might have read that 
Love, all conquering Love had made his home 



304 MERCIA 

in her bosom, and through her brilliant eyes, 
illumined with a divine radiance those windows 
of her soul. 

All bent their gaze upon her. The noble 
stature ; the perfectly moulded form ; the 
well-shaped head ; the exquisite beauty of 
every feature, lighted by that divine expres- 
sion which shone from out her star-like eyes, 
brought a murmur of admiration, and sup- 
pressed enthusiasm from every side. 

All through the Hall it spread itself; and 
Swami perceived that in those millions of 
brain-waves floating round him, admiration 
for the woman who held his soul was the one 
prevailing emotion. 

After the first burst of enthusiasm had 
subsided Swami himself came in for notice. 

' Dayanand Swami ! The great thought- 
reader ! ' exclaimed different persons sotto 
voce, as each one recognised him. 

' Whoever saw the Eastern Hermit in a 
public place before ? What means this strange 
innovation ? ' 

' Now this is getting mysterious,' observed 
Prince Osbert gaily to his neighbour, Louis, of 
France, ' our great Magician escorting our fair 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 305 

Astronomer — what in the name of goodness is 
going to happen ? ' 

' Beauty holds Magic, all the world over, 
and star-gazing and thought-reading complete 
the full magician,' answered the French 
monarch gallantly. 

'I bet she's been to get her fortune told, 
and Swami, like the rest of us, has succumbed. 
But no fellow has the shadow of a chance 
with her ; she's gone on Geometrus, that 
melancholy being sitting yonder. He's the 
cause of all the row,' whispered Osbert 
oracularly, ' but for him our cousin Felicitas 
might not have fared so badly. However, 
'tis better so ; 'tis time his wings were clipped.' 

' All the world avers,' returned Louis 
earnestly, ' that this beauteous being is a 
slave to Duty. Day and night, year in, year 
out, she's ever at her post, and gives no 
thought to love, the essence of existence.' 

While these observations were going on, 
the three Judges, attired as in days of old, 
took their seats with suitable solemnity, when 
the Court opened with the same formularies 
as had been in use for hundreds of years : 
for the Courts of Law more than any other 

x 



3 o6 MERCIA 

institution cling to the ancient order of things 
with tenacity. 

Even the old-fashioned blunder of saying 
' you ' for ' thee ' was still adhered to in the 
Law Courts, verbal innovations being equally 
discountenanced. 

After a short delay the auditory was 
startled by hearing the charge delivered, of 
which the following is the substance. 

' Mercia Montgomery, you are charged 
with feloniously attempting the life of His 
Imperial Majesty, Albert Felicitas, Supreme 
Ruler and Governor of Great Britain and Ire- 
land, Emperor of the Teutonic, Indian, and 
African Empires, which murderous attempt is 
accounted High Treason by the law of these 
Realms. Do you plead Guilty or not Guilty ? ' 

Before the accused could possibly have 
time to give her answer, the Public Prosecutor 
interfered. 

' I am empowered to convey to the prisoner 
the favour of his Imperial Majesty's clemency. 
Taking into consideration the prisoner's long 
and valuable service rendered to her country, 
also the great loyalty she has ever evinced 
towards her Sovereign during that period of 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 307 

faithful service, the Emperor has decided to 
overlook the sudden outburst of passion made 
by his otherwise faithful subject, and illustrious 
Astronomer, and has therefore conveyed to 
her his Eoyal Pardon, in proper form, forth- 
with. 

' The prisoner has been already made 
acquainted with this fact and was in the 
enjoyment of her freedom last evening,' he 
added, regarding Mercia with a glance full of 
meaning. 

Then Mercia, motioning her counsel to 
keep his seat a moment longer, and rising to 
her full height, replied in low but emphatic 
tones — ' Being altogether innocent of the 
crime of which I am charged, I am unable 
to accept the clemency offered by his Most 
Gracious Majesty. 

' It will be soon enough to pray for pardon 
when I am proved guilty. If the Court will 
permit, I beg that the trial proceed, and my 
character for ever cleared from all unworthy 
imputations. 

' I, Mercia, the Astronomer, must leave this 
Court with my name pure, unsullied, and 



3 o8 MERCIA 

honourable ; or hide my head in shame for 
ever.' 

' Long live Mercia ! Long live Mercia ! ' 
resounded in mighty force throughout that 
great Hall. The whole multitude was with 
her in one intense wave of sympathy ; for she 
had given utterance to their own feeling. 
They desired to bottom the whole business, 
and place their beloved Astronomer on the 
proud pedestal she had formerly occupied. 

Besides, the Englishman's love of justice 
was another factor in the case, and no matter 
what the issue, they desired to see fair play 
throughout. 

Swami looked radiant with happiness as 
he pressed towards her side eager to render 
her whatever trifling service possible at such 
a moment. 

Geometrus wore a serious and downcast 
aspect, as if he believed that nothing would 
eo right. Sadbagr sitting near him, with a 
mysterious parcel by his side, seemed the 
picture of suppressed satisfaction. 

When everybody had quieted down 
Mercia's counsel got upon his legs, and re- 
quested that the Public Prosecutor should 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 309 

state his case, to which demand the Judges 
agreed. Thereupon, the Emperor's counsel 
made his charge according to the manner in 
which he had been instructed, but having no 
witnesses to produce, save Prince Osbert, who 
averred he saw nothing, from which testimony- 
no amount of questioning could make him 
depart, the Defence was commenced without 
delay. 

Eising to his feet Mercia's counsel pro- 
ceeded with his speech. 

' To-day I am placed in a position as painful 
to me as a subject, as it is unique in the annals 
of a Law Court. Painful, insomuch as it is 
necessary for the ends of justice that I shall 
have to accuse my Sovereign of conduct so 
base that the meanest subject of his Piealms 
would blush to be found guilty of the like. 

' I am in a position to show that the 
Emperor's visits to his Astronomer were not 
made either in the interests of science, or 
those of his subjects : no such justifiable, or 
worthy motives prompted his course of action. 
On the contrary, these interviews were made 
with the intention of corrupting her pure 
mind, and of guiling her away from her duty. 



310 MERCIA 

1 By his artful insinuations he endeavoured 
to gradually lead her on to disregard her vows 
of abstention from Love, or Marriage, with a 
view of paving the way for his own purposes. 
He dwelt upon the folly of continuing a course 
of asceticism, whose only effect would be 
ultimately, a serious injury to her health and 
happiness ; and she in the perfect innocence 
of her pure mind, accepted it at the moment, 
as a piece of fatherly advice that should not 
be disregarded. 

' Like the Eastern fable of Eve and the 
Serpent, she listened to the voice of the 
Tempter not knowing he was planning her 
downfall. But luckier than our First Mother, 
Mercia discovered her mistake before touching 
the forbidden fruit. 

' From the evidence you will learn that the 
Tempter used every argument he could think 
of, offering the possible and the impossible 
to induce her to comply. At length, with a 
heart bursting with mortification and indigna- 
tion she essayed to leave him, when he 
endeavoured to forcibly detain her ; upon 
which she raised her ebony life-preserver to 
warn him from trespassing on her person. 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 311 

At this juncture lie was surprised by the 
entrance of the Prince and Geometrus, who 
were amazed at a scene so unexpected. 
Mortified at being caught at such a moment 
he tried to explain away the difficulty, and 
coolly turned the tables upon the lady, by 
accusing her of some failure in duty ; at this 
moment who should emerge from a corner of 
the apartment, which was partially concealed 
by a large screen, but Mr. Sadbag, whose 
presence it will be my duty to explain. 

' It appears that this gentleman having just 
purchased a phonograph, constructed on a 
new principle, and being wishful to present it 
to one of his grand-children, as a scientific 
plaything, he carried it to Mistress Mercia 
with a view of obtaining a record of her 
conversation, which he expected would prove 
equally instructive, as interesting to his grand- 
children. 

' It was his intention to ask this favour, as 
soon as she made her appearance, and in 
order that her time, usually so valuable, 
should not be unduly taken up, he opened 
out his instrument, making it ready for the 
reception of the sound-waves. Finding, at 



3:2 MERCIA 

length, that he would have to wait some 
little time before seeing her, he took up a 
book and commenced reading, and finished 
by dozing off into a light slumber, according 
to the manner of elderly folk with nothing to 
occupy their attention. 

' He was awakened from his sleep by the 
sound of voices, — that of the Emperor, and 
the fair Astronomer ; both evidently in a state 
of unusual excitement. 

* To his utter annoyance he discovered that 
the nature of the conversation to which he 
was being made an unwilling listener, was of 
a character wholly unsuitable for the presence 
of a third person. The situation became 
more and more distressing to him ; he knew 
not what to do. It was impossible to leave 
the apartment without discovery ; it was 
equally objectionable to reveal his presence 
at such a moment. With many conflicting 
thoughts, he finally decided to stay where 
he was until the termination of the interview, 
when he would leave the room comfortably ; 
at the same time forming a resolution to keep 
the affair a dead secret within his own bosom, 
and let it rest there for ever. 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 313 

' This merciful intention on his part towards 
the Emperor, he was compelled to abandon, 
on account of the false charge that monarch 
had so quickly and ingeniously invented 
against Mercia, whereby he hoped to cover 
his guilt. 

' I will now call upon Mr. Sadbag to open 
his instrument, and give us the dialogue that 
was so unintentionally recorded therein ; but 
which I am afraid will prove more interesting 
to the company present, than edifying or in- 
structive to that gentleman's progeny.' 

Mr. Sadbag immediately sprang to his 
feet, and taking up the mysterious parcel pro- 
ceeded to the witness box, when he requested 
a few moments' grace to adjust the mechanism 
of his unique witness ; after which was heard 
in the most natural tones the voice of the 
Emperor in lively mood saying — ' Ah, Mis- 
tress Mercia, what cheerful looks thou dost 
carry to-day ! Methinks thy face betokens 
much content : hast thou taken my words 
to heart, fair lady, 'twas truly excellent ad- 
vice ? ' 

Then followed Mercia's musical voice, in 
this wise — ' Sire, thou saidst something con- 



3i 4 MERCIA 

cerning the sun. Thou didst talk of coming 
to learn more of his condition, I believe.' 

Then followed a little laugh, half satirical, 
half good-humoured from Felicitas, after 
which the machine said — * I fain would 
know more of the sun's late vagaries : but 
it would please me infinitely better to learn 
something of thyself. Dost thou never feel 
lonely ? ' 

Here a suppressed titter went round the 
Court, but the machine heeded it not. 

' Often enough, Sire,' it said in Mercia's 
sweet tones, * the hours speed away at times 
very quickly when I am hard at work ; but 
when it is time to rest then the feeling of 
solitude overwhelms me. I get appalled at 
the silence that surrounds me, and a melan- 
choly seizes me so severely, that I rise unable 
to cope with my duties.' 

' Art thou then tired of this occupation ? 
It is indeed too much for thee. Eest a while, 
sweet Mercia, and let the stars take care of 
themselves for a season.' 

The voice of the machine grew quite 
pathetic here : evidently Felicitas was grow- 
ing sympathetic. 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 315 

' Oh, that would spoil all my calculations,' 
said the machine, very sweetly, ' the work of 
years would be as nought were I to stay my 
hand now. No, I will wait until my treatise 
on the stars is complete ; then I will take 
some little change for my health's sake.' 

' Health and love, sweet Mercia, go hand 
in hand together,' the machine sang out in 
melting tones, ' let thine heart soften to its 
influence, and all will go well with thee. 
Thy melancholies will disappear ; thy solitude 
lightened, for thou wilt have a new theory to 
analyse — a new and a better one. Yes, thou 
canst love, Mercia, I know it ; for thine eyes 
were made for the conquest of man's heart, 
rather than star-gazing. Cease to disregard 
the designs of Nature when she formed thee, 
and give thyself unto the pleasure of love.' 

' Sire,' answered Mercia's sweet voice, 
which now had a strange, startled tone — ' I 
know not what answer to give in this matter 
— I am yet unprepared — perplexed with this 
reasoning of thine.' 

' Hast thou not felt the want of com- 
panionship, dear Mercia ? Here penned in 
this solitude only fit for a greybeard thou 



3i 6 MERCIA 

dost pine, yet knoweth not what it is ails 
thee. It is good to be loved, fair one, to 
realise how much thy womanhood means. 
Hast thou never felt its joys — its pains?' 
asked the voice in a coaxing sort of tone. 

' But my bond, Sire, I cannot break my 
bond, signed by my own hand, to forswear 
love and marriage : no one but thyself can 
relieve me of this obligation,' replied Mercia's 
voice excitedly. 

' I heartily relieve thee, then, my good 
Mercia : I care not for the bond one iota, if 
that be all that's in thy way. Keep thy post, 
as thou likest thy work so well, and enjoy the 
delights of love at the same time,' reeled out 
the machine in the Emperor's most insinuat- 
ing tones. 

Then followed a low cry of joy, in 
Mercia's voice, and the sound of a kiss ; 
listening ladies blushed, smart young men 
sniggered, and elderly men looked as if things 
were getting serious. 

' Isn't that machine playing it low on the 
lady ? ' whispered Prince Osbert to Louis, his 
neighbour. 

' Hush,' returned the French Emperor — 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 317 

' listen, there's a volley of kisses going off — be 
quiet, pray ! ' 

' It's getting beyond a joke — it really is ! 
Just look at the Empress, she's gone green in 
the face ! Mercia's looking pretty pink, and 
altogether the matter is too blue for my 
modesty ! ' exclaimed the Prince, while burst- 
ing with suppressed mirth. 

All eyes regarded the beautiful culprit 
seated in the witness box with increased 
interest. ' Oh, thou guilty creature — think 
shame to thyself ! ' the ladies' looks said as 
plainly as possible. 

' He's having a good time of it ! ' whispered 
one to his neighbour. 

' She's no better than she should be, after 
all ! ' muttered another. 

' Such pretty lips were made for kissing ! ' 
remarked another jocularly. 

' So it seems ! ' answered his neighbour 
dryly. 

' Felicitas hasn't bad taste ! ' cried another. 

1 He knows how to do it ! ' was the re- 
joinder. 

'Most entertaining, truly,' remarked a 
lady sarcastically. 



318 MERCIA 

' Entertaining isn't the word for it — 'tis 
scrumptious ! ' returned her husband. ' One 
hears the kisses, and sees the lady ; 'tis a 
treat for the gods ! ' 

1 Oh, the hussy ! Don't look at her. 
What a cheek, to face it out like this ! ' 

These various remarks, and many more 
besides, occupied but a few seconds for 
delivery, for the Usher calling out silence, 
on hearing the low murmur of voices, the 
machine began talking again. 

' What means the Emperor by this un- 
heard-of liberty ? What have I done that I 
should be treated as a courtesan by my 
Sovereign ? ' cried the machine, in a voice 
choked with pain and indignation. 

' A courtesan ! ' repeated the Emperor's 
voice, ' I would give thee a crown if I could ! 
Thy queenly brow was truly made for one. 
And by the stars, thou shalt have it yet ! 
Yes, dear Mercia, thou shalt share my throne, 
and rule me, my sweet, together with mine 
Empire.' 

' Share thy throne and rule thine Empire ! 
Surely, Sire, thou hast gone mad ! ' 

' Yes, truly, I am mad — mad with love 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 319 

for thee, and thou knowest it, Mercia, else 
wouldst thou have kissed my hand in ac- 
knowledgment of it ? ' 

' In acknowledgment of thy love ! ' cried 
the machine scornfully. ' It was not so — thy 
love never entered my thought.' 

' Whose then ? ' 

' Geometrus,' said the instrument, in 
Mercia's soft voice. 

' Geometrus ! ' scoffed the machine in the 
Emperor's tones. ' And dost thou place that 
poltroon before me ? Am I to be flouted for 
him ? ' 

' His love is honourable, and thine is not ; 
therein lies the difference, my Sire,' the voice 
of Mercia replied in a propitiating tone ; as if 
to win the monarch over to give consent to 
her marriage with Geometrus. 

' But my love shall be made honourable, 
Mercia, I will get a divorce, and thou shalt 
till the Empress' place. Aye, and fill it far 
away better than she has ever done ! 1 hate 
her — curse her ! ' Then followed a grating 
noise as if the Emperor were grinding his 
teeth in fury at the thought of his marriage 
fetters. A painful feeling spread itself 



32o MERCIA 

through the Court ; the Empress became the 
cynosure of all eyes : her face turned deathly 
white ; a minute later she had fainted, and 
was carried away from the scene that 
jealousy had prompted her to witness. 

' But I cannot rob another woman of her 
husband : I would not defraud the meanest 
in thy realms, still less thine Empire's highest 
lady ! ' uttered the machine in pure clear tones. 

A suppressed murmur of applause greeted 
this avoAval, but the machine went on heed- 
less of interruption. 

' It is not robbery, Mercia, she doth not 
own my heart, and never did ! I was cozened 
into the marriage by my cousin Osbert — curse 
him, for a meddling fool ! ' 

' He did it, doubtless, for the best. The 
whole of thy Cabinet approved, so did the 
nation. It is a new thing for me to learn that 
our Emperor lives unhappily with his spouse 
— I cannot understand it.' 

' She's trying to reason him out of his folly,' 
remarked Louis, of France, ' good little girl ! ' 

' I never felt the chains gall till now, 
Mercia,' the machine confessed with relentless 
veracity. ' A quiet indifference kept me con- 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 321 

tent until thy beauty set my heart a-beating 
with a new joy. I knew not love till mine 
eyes dwelt upon thy loveliness, and mine ears 
listened to the words that flowed from thy lips 
like a sweet rippling fountain ; whose waters 
gave forth a pure, clear, life-giving stream. 

' Yes, I have drunk therein, and am filled 
with new emotions — new joys — new hopes — 
new life ! ' The phonograph here made a 
pause, when it recommenced with a sobbing 
sound. 

' Now is my beauty an evil thing, and a 
curse to me ! ' cried Mercia's voice, in soft, 
pathetic sweetness. ' Would I had never 
been born, or that Nature had shaped me 
uncomely, for then this misfortune could not 
have overtaken me ! Two men desire me, 
and I may not have either. I must live iu a, 
world filled like a garden with flowers — 
flowers and blossoms of love. Yet, I may not 
touch them ; their fragrance is not for me ; 
not one may I wear on my breast ! 

* Yet, they nod and beckon me to pluck 
them. They offer me the incense of their 
being, and would fain spend their full fragrance 
upon me ; for their desire is to nestle on my 

Y 



322 MERC I A 

bosom, and give me the joy of their beauty 
and love.' 

As the instrument gave utterance to this 
sweet rhapsody, delivered in a low, clear, 
plaintive voice, that fell like music on the 
ear of the enraptured auditory, who listened 
breathlessly to every word that fell from her 
lips, as it were ; for in imagination they saw 
her with bowed head, and clasped hands 
breathing the poetry of that moment of divine 
exaltation. 

The human desire for human love was 
linding expression : the longing of the soul 
for companionship was shaping itself into 
language so intensely irresistible, that it 
went to every heart with the fleetness of the 
lightning's flash. 

Only one feeling prevailed throughout that 
great assembly — admiration for the noble 
character of the beautiful woman sitting there 
before them, whose flushed cheek and lowered 
eyelids, evidenced the modesty of her woman- 
hood. 

As soon as a pause was reached by the 
instrument, the enthusiasm of the people could 
be restrained no longer. Men testified their 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 323 

approval in true English fashion by the 
heartiest round of applause as was never 
before heard in that soberly-conducted Justice 
Hall. When the excitement had somewhat 
subsided, Mercia rose to her feet, and turning 
her gaze with an air of modest dignity upon 
the people, she addressed them. — 

' Dear friends — until this moment, I knew 
not I possessed so many ' 

Another round of applause. 

' Dear friends,' she continued sweetly, 
' accept my warmest thanks for your generosity 
in believing in me while yet I remained un- 
heard. My lords,' and she turned to the 
presiding Judges, ' it is true that this instru- 
ment,' she pointed then to the phonograph — 
' has been signally instrumental in rendering 
undeniable testimony of the value of the 
evidence placed before you. Nevertheless, I 
knew not when I came hither that I was to 
encounter my own words uttered without 
thought, or preparation, in a moment of 
excitement ; for probably, had I been aware 
that such was my friend, Mr. Sad bag's 
intention, my place at this justice bar would 
never have been rilled. 

T 2 



324 MERCIA 

• Holding his Majesty's " pardon " as I do, 
I was under no necessity to appear before 
you, and plead the justice of my cause. 
Nevertheless, I do not regret the exposure, 
for after all, it has given the opportunity, to 
you, dear people, of showing the good feeling 
you entertain for me. 

' I felt in my heart when I elected to go 
forward with my defence that the people of 
this great Empire would render me justice 
and see me safely through this trying ordeal.' 

4 Good people,' exclaimed Mr. Sadbag, 
smiling good-humouredly, ' pray don't ap- 
plaud any more ; I can't get along with my 
talking-machine ; and until I finish the Court 
is unable to arrive at a decision. 'Tis a pity 
to hinder the Emperor's pretty speeches, just 
listen to this, and see how poetical he is : the 
tender passion makes even kings grow quite 
tragical.' 

' Mercia, Mercia, give me thy love ! Take 
me, my beloved, spurn me no longer, for 
without thee I am as one dead. As a world 
without sun, without life, without warmth I 
shall go on my way darkened for ever. 

' Take me into the sunshine of thy love ; 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 325 

give rue new life, dearest ; resuscitate and 
refresh me with the joy of thy beauty, and 
let us drink of the wine of Love's pleasures 
for ever. 

' Then shall we two learn how good it is 
to love ; how sweet it is to be together ! 
How delightful the blending of two souls 
made satisfied with their own companion- 
ship ! ' 

4 It is Geometrus who speaks,' came the 
soft dreamy tones of Mercia, ' Geometrus has 
opened his heart to me at last ! ' 

' Geometrus ! ' shouted the machine in the 
angry tones of the Emperor, ' it is not 
Geometrus ; it is I — Felicitas — Felicitas thine 
Emperor, who abjectly offers thee his love ; 
his crown, and sues thee, Mercia, his servant 
— his astronomer.' 

Then Mercia awakening, evidently, from 
her love-dream, and realising her true posi- 
tion exclaimed with great dignity, ' Felicitas, 
the Emperor, hath no crown to offer his 
subject, Mercia, for it sits already on the 
brow of his Eoyal Spouse. Neither has he 
love to offer his astronomer, for it is sworn 
to his Empress for ever. It is an insult to 



326 MERC I A 

me, Mercia, thine offer of illicit love and I 
refuse to longer remain in thy service.' 

' That will do, Mr. Sadbag,' interrupted 
the senior Judge, ' we have heard quite 
sufficient to enable us to arrive at a decision. 
The prisoner — I mean the accused, is found 
Not Guilty of the charge against her. The 
lady and her friends may now leave the 
Court without a stain on their character. 
It is unnecessary to go into the charges 
brought against these gentlemen, as the 
clearing of the principal defender establishes 
the innocence of the whole three. This case 
ought never to have come before the Court 
at all.' 

' Good ! ' exclaimed Sadbag to his trusty 
phonograph, ' thy testimony is worth more 
than a score of witnesses, or a Court full of 
lawyers ; thou hast served us well, little one ; 
thanks to Edison, or whoever it was invented 
thee ! ' 

' Three cheers, three times over for Mercia, 
the Astronomer Eoyal ! ' shouted a stentorian 
voice, and the tremendous volume of sound 
was caught up by the thousands who were 
awaiting the verdict in the streets, and all 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 327 

the city shouted — ' Hurrah ! Hurrah ! Hur- 
rah ! ' nine times in succession, and women 
wept for joy, and wreaths were showered 
upon her, and all the homage due to a great 
hero was rendered her, just as Felicitas had 
seen pictured in the psycho-development the 
day before. 

Swami had prepared the carriage and 
horses for her use, which now stood in 
readiness. But the climax of the ovation 
was reached when the people, not knowing 
what to do to show her honour, removed the 
prancing steeds, which were startled by the 
clamour, and drew the chariot themselves. 

Publicly, in presence of the crowd, and 
of her intimate friends, Swami stepped up 
to the carriage, already piled with laurel 
wreaths intermixed with flowers of rare 
beauty, and presented her with his wonderful 
crown of precious jewels. It represented a 
wreath of glittering blossoms intertwined 
witli bay leaves ; which sparkled with a 
thousand rays in the bright sunshine ; plac- 
ing this brilliant trophy of that day's triumph 
on her head he took his seat beside her. 

A deeper flush of pleasure came into 



328 MERCIA 

Mercia's radiant face, for her happiness was 
now complete in having him near. 

' Three cheers for Swami our great thought- 
reader and Mercia's friend ! ' cried one of the 
crowd, who had seen Swami escort her into 
the Court, and thereby deduced that he was 
her most trusty friend. 

The people willingly accorded him the 
acclamation, giving a share also to Geo- 
metrus, and the intrepid Sadbag. 

But before all this took place, when she 
was about to leave the Court, crowds of those 
present gathered round, and gave her their 
sincere congratulations. 

Among these were the Emperor Nicholas 
of Russia, and the newly-crowned Emperor 
of France, for that country having grown 
tired of a republic, imitated America in this 
respect. 

Even Prince Osbert, the cousin of Felicitas, 
offered Mercia his congratulations ; but not 
an atom of sympathy was expressed for the 
absent Emperor, though many sincerely pitied 
his wife. 

The Empress of Eussia, not satisfied with 
mere hand-shaking, kissed Mercia warmly, as 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 329 

she exclaimed — 'Noble Mercia, then thou 
wouldst not accept the offer of Felicitas, and 
discrown my dear daughter — thou wearest 
already the brightest crown, that of pure 
virtue. May God ever bless, and reward 
thee.' 

' I'll make Felicitas pay for this ! ' muttered 
the Emperor Nicholas to himself, 'his con- 
duct both as an Emperor and husband is 
disgraceful.' 

' There is no occasion for thy Majesty to 
trouble further in the matter,' observed 
Swami, ' thy son-in-law hath received his 
lesson, and will prove, in time, a model hus- 
band. Parental responsibilities will make 
him the most virtuous of monarchs living.' 

' Then my daughter will have children ? ' 
inquired the Empress eagerly. 

4 Even so,' answered Swami, smiling, as 
he turned to lead Mercia away to her carriage. 

All along the drive to Greenwich the 
people took up the glad shout of triumph ; 
but upon Mercia's arrival there, who was 
accompanied by Swami and Geometrus only, 
for Sadbag had been carried off by his own 
political and personal friends, she found that 



330 MERCIA 

handsome triumphal arches had been erected 
to do her honour, in loyal anticipation of her 
victory. 

Mercia's eyes filled at this warm tribute 
of the people's affection ; while Swami pressed 
her hand and whispered that this was as nothing 
compared with what awaited her in the very 
near future. Geometrus, in the meantime, 
overhearing what was said, looked perfectly 
petrified with astonishment, as each feature 
of the situation was developed. 

As the events of the day unfolded them- 
selves his. mind became almost a whirligig of 
wonder and excitement. He could not under- 
stand the presence of Swami at all, at the 
trial ; for he knew that up to then Mercia 
was entirely unacquainted with him. But 
what appeared to him as misplaced as it was 
unwelcome, was the part Swami was taking 
in the ovation, by whose personality he felt 
himself completely overshadowed. 

i Who is this Anglo-Indian that I should 
have to play second fiddle to him ? ' thought 
Geometrus to himself, ' why does Mercia 
occupy herself with him ? ' 

From the talking-machine he had learnt 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 331 

to his infinite joy, of Mercia's love for him ; 
it was the first intimation he had received 
of her affection, but before he could drink in 
the delight of his unexpected bliss, it was 
melting away like a dream. 

All her attention was engrossed by this 
Swami. When she was not engaged giving 
her graceful acknowledgments to the enthusi- 
astic crowd, her eyes were looking into his 
with that soul-worship, which women accord, 
when they have met their ideal. 

' She never gazed into my face with that 
fervour,' he thought, ' she loves him, else how 
could she be so devoted ? I have loved her 
for years, and this is the reward of my 
constancy ; in one day a stranger has ousted 
me. This comes of over-cautiousness ; had 
I been reckless of consequences, Mercia would 
have been mine by this time, made safe by 
bonds of wedlock. But I hesitated, believing 
her position had greater charms for her than 
matrimony. And now — well, no one can 
bottom a woman's heart, or gather its mean- 
ing. I imagined I was consulting her best 
interests when I refrained from declaring my 
love, leaving over the matter for time to 



332 MERCIA 

put things right. And this is the result ; a 
stranger has accomplished more in one day 
than I with all my years of opportunity. It is 
inexplicable. 

1 However, I'll wait no longer, this night 
shall conclude the matter. Ere another 
day elapses I will have asked her to share 
my poor fortunes ; surely we two can meet 
with appointments as teachers of astronomy 
and make a respectable livelihood between us. 
It isn't a very brilliant position to offer, but 
she will then be mine legally, and no man can 
take her from me. My prudence has made 
me play the fool, so far, but this night shall 
I learn my fate. I will delay no longer. 
Mercia has told the whole world of her 
preference for me, how then can she have the 
face to refuse me ? ' 

As these thoughts passed through Geo- 
metrus' mind whilst seated near Swami, the 
latter looked into his face and remarked im- 
pressively — 

* The chances and changes of this mortal 
life are never ending. They bring sorrow to 
one, and joy to another. Strange arrange- 
ment this of Fortune ; one moment bestowing 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL m 

good, the next evil. If thou shouldst regard 
thyself illused to-day, learn that a morrow 
will come when thou shalt be made content ; 
but not in the manner that is in thine heart 
at this moment.' 

' There is nothing that can bring me con- 
tent, Swami,' replied Geometrus bitterly, ' but 
that which thou seekest to deprive me of.' 

Mercia at this moment was oblivious of 
the nature of their conversation, her attention 
having been engaged by the arrival of friends 
to congratulate her. 

When the party reached the Observatory 
Swami expressed his intention of returning ; 
and as soon as he had assisted Mercia to 
alight, he conducted her to her sitting-room. 

' Take a rest, my beloved,' he whispered 
softly, ' it will refresh thee ; to-morrow I will 
come and stay awhile beside thee ; when I 
trust thy friend Geometrus will not favour us 
with his presence. Evidently, by his dark 
looks he would fain annihilate me, if that were 
possible.' 

'Ah, yes,' returned Mercia, with a sigh 
and a smile intermixed ; ' we two must have 
explanations. That talking-machine has made 



334 MERCIA 

things awkward for me. But for that tell-tale 
instrument I owed him no apologies, seeing 
that the nature of our friendship had never 
been discussed between us. Since then I have 
learnt that which the concentrated wisdom 
of all the schools could not impart by theory ; 
for it is the realisation and knowledge of what 
the poets of all ages have made their uni- 
versal theme ; but experience only can reveal 
the reality.' 

' And it is as fresh to us as if utterly un- 
known hitherto ! It is our new discovery ! ' 
cried Swami in a rapture as he caught her in 
his arms. 

' But we can't take out a patent for it ! • 
Mercia was in the act of replying, when her 
words were smothered by the warm kisses 
pressed upon her lips. 

' And must we really part ? ' exclaimed she, 
while playfully holding his hands prisoners. 

' It will seem an eternity till the morrow,' 
he murmured, making no effort to escape. 

'When I sleep I shall dream of thee, 
Swami,' and her liquid eyes looked softly into 
his. 

' My day dream shuts out the visions of 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 335 

the night ; for my happiness is too great for 
the waters of Lethe to cover. With thee to 
concentre my thought upon, I ask no other 
refreshment,' uttered Swami softly. 

When fame is won, leisure is lost, Mercia 
quickly discovered ; for no sooner had Swami 
left than she found herself surrounded by 
crowds of persons who had come to offer 
their congratulations. Of course the sincerity 
of those demonstrative ones was not to be 
doubted, nevertheless the visits of a goodly 
percentage were prompted more by curiosity 
to see the woman who might have displaced 
their Empress, had she been so minded, and 
the Divorce Courts sufficiently obliging, than 
anything else. Consequently, Mercia had a 
livelier time of it for several hours than she 
was prepared for. People to whom she was 
a perfect stranger poured in upon her, until 
at length fairly wearied out with the strain 
she gave orders to admit no more. 

As soon as the apartments were fairly 
cleared of their visitors she sank down on a 
sofa exhausted ; and was in the act of utter- 
ing an exclamation of thankfulness when 
Geometrus put in an appearance. 



336 MERCIA 

' May I have a word with thee ? ' he asked 
hesitatingly. 

' To-morrow, Geometrus, won't it keep till 
then ? ' she said sweetly. 

' No, Mercia, I must know my fate to- 
night, I cannot wait another day. My mind 
is in such a state of perplexity, that to dream 
of getting sleep is a folly : I come therefore 
to sue thee for a good night's rest, and to be 
made happy for all time ; ' saying which he 
took a seat in front of her. 

' And how can I make thee comfortable, 
Geometrus ? ' laughed Mercia gaily. ' Better 
take a nerve-soothing tabloid instead of sup- 
per, I'll warrant that will give thy mind more 
rest than anything that I can tell thee.' 

1 Perhaps it might,' answered he gloomily 

' All the same, I would prefer a hearing 
if thou wilt grant the favour.' 

' Certainly,' she answered with an assumed 
airiness of manner, for she guessed she was 
about to go through a bad quarter of an hour, 
* now be reasonable, and I will give this matter 
my best attention,' she added. 

' I know I am trespassing upon thy time 
at an awkward moment,' he went on to say 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 3# 

with a certain bitterness in his voice, ' but for 
all that we will have it out now. What is 
the meaning of this fortune-telling fellow 
hanging round thee? What does he want 
dangling after thee ? ' 

' That is my business,' answered Mercia, 
suddenly freezing in her manner and turning 
quite haughty, ' I was not aw r are that I was 
answerable to thee in the choice of my 
friends.' 

At this reproof he reddened, and stam- 
mered out — 

1 1 did not mean to put it that way, — but 
I want to know what is this Swami to thee 
that he should interest himself so greatly in 
thy affairs ? ' 

' He is my intended husband, Geometrus,' 
replied Mercia in a low but firm voice. ' I 
mean to give up my post and marry. He is 
the only man for whom I could make this 
sacrifice, as I love my profession greatly. 
But I love Swami better, and intend to share 
my fortunes with him whatever they be.' 

' And what is to become of me ? ' inquired 
Geometrus while his face turned deathly 

J 

white ; ' I thought the phonograph said thou 

z 



338 MERCIA 

didst love me. What am I to think ? Was 
it Swami that filled thy thought when Felicitas 
asked the same question ? ' 

' Of course not,' rejoined Mercia candidly, 
• I was unacquainted with him when the 
Emperor sought me. But I will endeavour 
to explain it ; otherwise thou mightest arrive 
at false conclusions. 

' I formed a sincere regard for thee, Geo- 
metrus, in the course of these five years that 
we have worked together ; and this regard, 
owing partly to thy devotion to me, and 
partly from a sense of loneliness, the result of 
my necessarily solitary mode of life, grew into 
such a tender affection that I imagined it was 
what people call love. Consequently, the 
notion came into my head that at some time 
or other — some day in the distant future, I 
would marry thee if such continued to be 
thy desire. But now all those ideas have 
been dissipated ; my heart has gone through 
a complete revolution, for I have met with 
the man for whom I would willingly give up 
everything. 

' I love him better than all the stars in the 
wide universe ! Much as I delighted to gaze 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 339 

into the Heavens and study with intense 
interest the wonders of the Celestial depths, 
yet he is above them all ! He is more to me 
than thousands of worlds ! He is nearer and 
dearer than millions of suns ! ' cried Mercia 
with clasped hands, and eyes alight with 
warm enthusiasm. 

' He is certainly nearer if propinquity 
counts for anything ; ' rejoined Geometrus 
dryly ; ' of course, then, I am to understand 
that the man who has bowled out the whole 
Universe, has played it low on me : in other 
words, I am nowhere now ? ' 

c That is so,' said Mercia, ' I now know 
what love is, for he has taught me, where 
thou didst fail. Thou hadst no power to 
impart this knowledge to my understanding. 
When I look back, I see that Friendship only 
inspired my thought for thee. I should have 
continued all my life searching the Heavens, 
and worrying out the secrets of Nature had I 
not met my Marrow, my Ideal, my Fate ! ' 

' All three represented in the person of 
Swami ? ' added Geometrus cynically. 

'Even so,' answered Mercia, taking no 
notice of his derisive tone. ' In a few days I 

z 2 



34o MERCIA 

leave this place, and thou Geometrus canst 
worthily fill it, and make thy name illustrious 
for ever.' 

' And this is to be the end of my dream ! ' 
he burst out in a voice choking with feeling. 

' The end of one, and the beginning of 
another,' returned Mercia, ' thou wilt yet be 
a great man, whom all men will honour. I 
leave thee a fair field and a free hand to 
accomplish this noble ambition.' 



34i 



CHAPTER XIII 

' The providence that's in a watchful state 
Knows almost every grain of Pluto's gold ; 
Finds bottom in the uncomprehensive deeps ; 
Keeps pace with thought, and almost like the Gods, 
Does thoughts unveil in their dumb cradles.' 

Troilus and Cressida. 

As soon as the trial was concluded, — if the 
series of extraordinary scenes that took place 
in the court, could be so designated — the 
reporters rushed out en masse to send their 
respective phonographs to the editors of the 
various journals they represented. 

Never before had they such a titbit to 
offer their employers as was now their good 
luck to possess. A love scene between their 
Emperor and his astronomer, delivered in a 
dialogue wherein the actual voices were re- 
produced was a treat not to be met with 
every day. 

At least a hundred delicate voice-recorders 
had caught the sound-waves from Sadbag's 



342 MERCIA 

phonograph, and borrowing the tones of 
Felicitas and Mercia in their never-to-be- 
forgotten colloquy, gave them a value un- 
precedented in all time. As soon as it got 
abroad that their proprietors were in posses- 
sion of these treasures, hundreds of speculators 
offered enormous prices for their purchase, 
with a view of reeling out their contents to 
admiring and appreciative audiences through- 
out the globe. 

These offers proved, indeed, too tempting 
to be resisted, so that in the course of a week 
or two, India, together with many distant 
parts, was in the enjoyment of the actual 
love scene that took place at Greenwich 
Observatory, the most unlikely of all places 
for such an incident to happen in. 

The Great Test Tournament had been 
fought and won by the Easterners. Their 
freedom now achieved, there remained only 
the nomination and coronation of a Supreme 
Euler to go through, the responsibility of 
which weighed heavily upon the mind of the 
Indian Parliamentarians. 

It was ultimately decided however, that 
their first Monarch should be elected by the 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 343 

vote of the whole nation, independently of 
all claims of royal descent made by members 
of the native aristocracy. 

The interesting news of Felicitas' unsuc- 
cessful love suit having been brought to the 
ears of the people so graphically through the 
medium of the voice-recorders, created an in- 
tense excitement in their mind, at all times 
so sensitive to every emotion. 

It brought out Mercia's character in such 
vivid colours that she appeared to them men- 
tally projected on a living reflector. In their 
intense imagination, they saw her before them 
uttering in her melodious dream-like voice 
her now famous rhapsody ; the tenderness of 
which appealing to their hearts, stirred up 
their deepest emotions. 

But when they arrived at her indignant 
refusal of the Emperor's offer to put away 
his wife, and give her the crown of his Con- 
sort, the climax was reached, and the enthu- 
siasm of the people found vent in loud cries 
of — ' Mercia for ever ! Long live Mercia, 
our Empress ! ' 

And so the cry spreading itself through 
every quarter of that vast Empire was caught 



344 MERCIA 

up in wild delight — Long live Mercia, our 
Empress, being echoed from every part, by 
people of every caste and every creed. But 
when the intelligence reached this impression- 
able people that Mercia, the greatest Astro- 
nomer, and noblest woman the world had 
ever seen, was about to enter into a matri- 
monial alliance with Dayanand Swami, the 
actual lineal descendant of The Great Mogul 
Dynasty, which governed India from the early 
centuries downwards, that settled the ques- 
tion. 

In the course of the discussion upon the 
subject, which took place in the House of 
Parliament at Calcutta, Sir John Punjaub 
their well-beloved minister said — ' Now is this 
matter settled to our utmost satisfaction and 
content. In Dayanand Swami we have the 
direct descendant of India's greatest, wisest, 
and most beneficent Euler, the renowned 
Abkar, who was the son of Humayun, who 
was the son of Baber, the founder of the 
Great Royal Dynasty in the fifteenth cen- 
tury. 

' In Dayanand we shall have a second 
Abkar, for the mantle of his great Ancestor 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 345 

hath fallen on him. In him the people of this 
great Empire will have a kind Father, a wise 
Teacher, a just Euler, and a lover and pro- 
moter of learning. 

' By the union of Mercia and Dayanand 
we shall have restored to us the lost Eoyal 
Line : in beauteous Mercia, perfect in face, 
and form, in soul and mind, we have found 
the true representative of what a monarch 
ought to be. 

' Herein is crystallised the talent, wisdom, 
and virtue of all generations. In her person 
we shall have the embodiment of our coun- 
try's dignity and honour. She shall become 
the Great Mother of India. The Founder of 
our Royal Line, and her name shall shine as 
the stars for ever and ever.' 

In the presence of the greatest and most 
brilliant assemblage India had ever seen since 
the days of her ancient splendour ; consisting 
of Princes and Potentates richly attired in 
court dress and coronet, representative of 
their respective positions of Peishwar, Raja 
and Maharajah the coronation took place a 
month later. 

By dint of working day and night the pre- 



346 MERCIA 

parations for the grand Imperial Procession 
to be followed by the Crowning Function, 
were completed in that period. 

One thousand elephants, richly caparisoned 
in cloth of gold and various embroideries ; 
their heads ornamented with fine filagree 
work in gold or silver, interspersed with 
gems, according to the wealth of their re- 
spective owners, carried the howdahs con- 
tainino; the wives and daughters of the 
dignitaries of the Realm. For Mercia had 
issued a mandate beforehand that the ladies 
of the Chiefs of the Empire would be ex- 
pected to take part in the Function, veiled, 
or unveiled, according to their respective 
ideas of propriety. In obedience to which 
every Ameer, Maharajah, Rajah, Nawab, 
Sirdar, Dewan, and Nazim had the ladies of 
his family carried in howdahs, where they 
enjoyed a splendid view of the situation, 
owing to their elevated position, and at the 
same time added an Eastern air of gorgeous- 
ness to the procession, most impressive to the 
eye of the beholder. 

The Princes, and native dignitaries them-, 
selves followed in carriages drawn by horses, 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 347 

in the order of their rank the splendidly- 
appointed Imperial Chariot, containing 
1 Mercia, The Peerless,' as she was now 
named, and by her side was seated her 
Imperial Consort, ' Dayanand, The Wise.' 

Long lines of body-guards composed of 
the finest physiqued men in the realms, 
attired in a rich uniform of pale blue and 
gold bearing silver lances, and mounted on 
high-mettled steeds, preceded and followed 
the royal chariot, the sight of which drew 
forth the wildest acclamations of joy from 
the people. 

The ceremony took place neither in 
Christian nor Hindu temple, but in the 
great hall of their Parliament House, the 
most stately building in Calcutta. 

A3 soon as the Coronation Oath was 
taken by Mercia, in accordance with the 
custom of their most remote ancestry, she 
was sprinkled with water from the Ganges, 
which was contained in a golden bowl glitter- 
ing with precious jewels. After which, the 
grand Imperial Crown was placed upon her 
head by the venerable Prime Minister, who 
officiated as high priest of the ceremony. 



348 MERCIA 

' Now,' said the old man, * I will finish by 
quoting a counsel from a part of the most 
ancient of India's literature, — the Dasakuma- 
racharita, or ' Stories of Ten Princes.' 

' Government is an arduous matter ; it has 
three principles ; Council, Authority, and Ac- 
tivity. These mutually assisting each other 
dispatch all affairs. Council determines ob- 
jects, Authority commences, and Activity 
effects their attainment. Policy is a tree of 
which Council is the root, Authority the 
stem, and Activity the main branch. The 
seventy-two Prakritis are the leaves ; the six 
qualities of Eoyalty the blossoms ; power and 
success the flowers and the fruit. Let this 
shade protect our Gracious Empress for ever. 

' And as at the birth of the Great Abkar, 
which happened at a time when his father's 
fortunes were fallen so low that he possessed 
neither crown, nor kingdom, nor even the 
wherewithal to make the necessary gifts to 
his friends and followers when a son was born 
unto him, he took a musk-pod, and breaking 
it divided it amongst them, uttering the wish 
that proved a prophecy ; so may thy name, 
most noble Mercia, and thy virtues spread in 



THE ASTRONOMER ROYAL 349 

waves of perfume throughout thy wide do- 
mains, making glad the hearts of thy faithful 
subjects, and filling them with joy, and peace 
and love. 

' May the blessing of the Eternal Father 
rest upon thee and thine for ever and for 
ever.' 



THE EXD 



(3P0TTISW00DE AND CO., NEW-STRKET SQUARE 
LONDON 



IDYLLS, LEGENDS, AND 
LYRICS. 

By A. GARLAND MEARS. 

Portrait. Superfine paper. Cloth, gold lettered. Price 6s. 



NEWCASTLE CHRONICLE.—' As an Alpine traveller might 
pluck the eidelweiss in some unexpected cranny, so we open the 
pages of a volume of Idylls, Legends, and Lybics. It is the 
work of a poet of Nature. . . . Mrs. Mears strikes her harp with 
power and grace, and breathes life and poetry into the dry bones of 
history. Interest will be aroused in them, not only by their poetic 
treatment, but also by the erudition displayed by the author. 

' The legends of her volume are enhanced by notes betraying 
considerable research. . . . Mrs. Mears may be indeed described as 
the poet of love. . . . She is a close observer of human passion. 
Never before have we seen such a complete analysis of the tender 
passion as that given in the series of eighteen sonnets under the 
title of Honoeia's Love. . . . Idylls, Legends, and Lyrics 
go into the world with the stamp of approval, and, in winning 
credit for their author, they reflect honour upon the town that saw 
their birth.' 

MANCHESTER CO URIER.— 1 Considerable variety of style 
and sentiment are illustrated in these interesting verses. The 
dramatic Idyll Ilamea; Honoeia's Love, and other Sonnets; 
Edain, an Ancient Legend of Ireland; Poems in Bl^nk 
Veese ; Cedmon, an Early English Idyll, together with Songs 
and Lybical Poems, are all samples of composition which indicate 
that the author is no novice in such work. In Honoeia's Leva 
are depicted the several emotions of the mind when under the 
influence of love, each sonnet expressing a separate phase of that 
passion which is admitted to be the strongest of all human passions 
Owing to the form of the verse these eighteen sonnets are less a 
love story, perhaps, than an exposition of the emotions. The 



IDYLLS, LEGENDS, AND LYBICS. 



following is a specimen of them. . . . With one other quotation we 
will close this admirable book. 

•LOVE, THE UNIVERSAL LAW. 

' As atom unto atom firmly lies 
Obeying blindly that great law which makes 
Subservient even lifeless matter ; wakes 
An energy, a force whose hidden ties 
Bind animate, or inanimate in wise 
True order. See, the silver cloudlet breaks, 
With others interweaves ; thus changed forsakes 
An individual existence, dies. 

' Wave follows wave in rhythmic lines, and one 
By one they lose themselves in close embrace ; 
Thus are we twain commingled : our lives run 
In closest sympathy ; we interlace 
Our mind's emotions : now, there hath begun 
Creation new, to which past life gives place.' 

OXFORD CHRONICLE.— 1 This is an 8vo. volume, printed in 
clear type, on thick paper ; cloth, gilt lettered. Its pages are 
laden with the music of the love song and old-time love story. 
The aim of the author, not only to reach the reasoning faculties, 
but to appeal to the imagination and emotions; and to yield that 
pleasure to the mind which is the design of poetry as of music, 
has been gained. True poetry, it has been said, portrays, with 
terrible energy, the excesses of the passions ; but they are passions 
which show a mighty nature ; which are full of power ; which 
command awe, and excite a deep though shuddering sympathy. 
Its great tendency and power is to carry the mind above and 
beyond the beaten, dusty, and weary walks of ordinary life: to 
lift it into a purer element, and to breathe into it a more profound 
and generous emotion. This consummation has been obtained by 
the dramatic Idyll lLAMEA, with which Part I. opens. Its 
sublimity and elegance of style entitle it to rank as one of the 
finest classics ever written on love.' 

NORTHERN ECHO.— 'Idylls, Legends, and Lyrics bespeak 
the true poetic vein ; the light phantasy of romantic thought ; 
and the faculty of expressing all in rhythmic verse. A Dramatic 
Idyll, Ilamea, is, perhaps, the happiest in the volume It dwells, as 



IDYIiLS, LEGENDS, AND LYKICS. 



really does the whole book, on the immortal theme of love ; and an 
argumentative colloquy between two persons, the Count and Ilamea, 
reveals a flow of language and beautifully balanced metre that 
make it a pleasure to read or recite.' 

DAILY TELEGRAPH. — 'This work is principally composed 
of old-time love stories in verse, which the author claims have 
never before formed subject of treatment by the poet. They 
present a picture, though only a legendary one, of the days of our 
ancestors, and are interesting on that account. A bouquet of love 
sonnets are treated with no little skill and originality. An ancient 
legend of Ireland is very cleverly and sympathetically rendered 
in Edain ; (Ledmon, an Early English Idyll, is also noteworthy. 
It is something to be reminded of the " peasant poet who, a 
thousand years before Milton, sang the epic of the Creation ; 
vividly depicting the War in Heaven, the Fall of Satan, and 
his Counsellings in Hell." The author has produced a collection 
of poems which exhibit true poetic instinct ; and the work makes 
a goodly and acceptable volume.' 

THE GRAPHIC. — 'The love song and love story form the 
staple of Mrs. Garland Mears' Idylls, Legends, and Lyrics. 
She possesses much fluency of expression, and is not troubled 
in her theme by any melancholy transcendentalism. In her view 
the object of poetry is to yield pleasure to the mind, and it should 
appeal either to the imagination or to the emotions. " Its true 
object," she observes, " is not obtained when it becomes chiefly 
the vehicle for philosophical or metaphysical instruction reaching 
only the reasoning faculties." Some of the poems have a simple 
love tale for their basis, as in Ilamea, Cedmon, and The Love 
op Uthee, the British King, for Igerna, with the resultant birth 
of Arthur. In HONOEIA'S LOVE we have a series of eighteen 
sonnets ; from the first of these we quote the eight opening lines 
dealing with " Love's Entrance." 

' " Oh, kingly Love, when first thou didst enthral 
My soul in thy sweet bonds I hardly knew 
Thy presence : filled with joy, what could I do 
But gaze upon thy face, and at thy call 
Give willing ear 1 Then straight before thee fall, 
In meekness yielding loving homage, true. 
What sum of bliss wrapped up in moments few , 
Life's sweetest mystery is made my all ! " ' 

A A 



IDYLLS, LEGENDS, AND LYRICS. 



Extracts from Letters containing Criticisms by the 
Chairmen and Secretaries of Public Libraries : — 

• The librarian has handed to me the volume of Idylls, 
Legends, and Lyrics. I have had time to read the dramatic 
Idyll Ilamea, and am greatly pleased with its sweetness and 
high-souled tone. 

' It makes one feel better and stronger for its impressive lesson, 
so vividly, and pathetically, and sympathetically told. Ilamea is 
worth the price of the whole volume. 

' I will devote the earliest opportunity to go through its pages, 
feeling sure that they will add much pleasure to my life, as well 
as intensify my attachment to poetry. The work is placed in the 
library of this borough. 

1 B. P. WRIGHT, J.P., 

' Chairman of Committee, Free Public 
' Library, Stafford.' 



1 The Mayoe of Sligo has requested that a second copy of 
Idylls, Legends, and Lyrics be purchased. The verses are very 
sweet. They do not stir the spirit like the strong lines of Byron : 
but they come over us with a bewitching softness that in certain 
moods is still more delightful, and soothe the troubled spirits with 
a refreshing sense of truth, purity, and elegance. 

' They are pensive rather than passionate, and more full of 
wisdom and tenderness than nights of fancy, or overwhelming 
bursts of emotion ; while they are moulded into grace, at least as 
much by the effect of the moral beauties they disclose as by the 
t;iste and judgment with which they are constructed. 

'DAVID SAULTRY. 

' Chief Librarian, Free Public Library, 
' Sligo, Ireland.' 



IDYLLS, LEGENDS, AND LYRICS. 



' I have read the first poem, Ilamea, in this interesting volume 
of verse, and can bear my testimony as to its beauty of conception 
and true poetic merit. I like the poetry exceedingly, and feel quite 
confident that the work only requires to be better known to secure 
it a very wide circulation. 



'ALFRED LANCASTER, 

' Chief Librarian, Free Public Library, 
' St. Helens? 



'I am very glad to see in Idylls, Legends, and Lyrics a 
poem on Caedmon. I am particularly interested in old-time litera- 
ture myself, and am giving special attention to such subjects as 
" Csedmon " and " Beowulf." 

' I shall be very glad to have another copy, as it is the first work 
I have seen for a long time which is so exactly suited to my taste. 

'FRED TURNER, 

' Free Public Library, Brentford.'' 



' This work is an exceptionally good one, and I thank you for 
calling my attention to a volume of poems of such merit as these 



' I have told my committee that, as far as I am a judge of poetry, 
1 considered that this work was entitled to a place on our shelves. 

'Our public here are quick to form fairly accurate opinions as to 
the value of works of this class. I shall be only too glad to find 
my own judgment endorsed by that large body I have the pleasure 
to serve. 

'WILLIAM MAY, 

' Chief Librarian, Free Public Library, 
* Birkenhead.' 



THE STOEY OF A TEUST 

By the same Author. 
PORTRAIT AND BIOGRAPHICAL NOTICE. 

Crown 8vo. 300 pp. cloth, gilt lettered, price 2s. 6d. 



OXFORD CHRONICLE.—' The authoress has been designated 
" the Poet of Love, and Nature," one who deserves the thanks of 
every student of early English literature for reviving one's interest 
in old-time literature. Her claim to the eulogy is fully justified . . . 
this latest production of her pen is thoroughly realistic, and con- 
tains word-pictures graphically descriptive of English country life. 
. . . Margaret is a gem, a perfect type of womanhood, calling forth 
love and admiration. The chapter containing the tragedy is ably 
written, and will commend itself to the approval of lovers of the 
dramatic; while the chapter on " Sorrow " appeals powerfully to 
the emotions.' 

NEWCASTLE CHRONICLE.— 'Deserves a hearty welcome at 
the hands of the general public, and especially of North-country 
people. . . . Mrs. Garland Mears' style is fluent and forcible; she 
avoids all prevalent errors of latter-day writers, and depending 
entirely on her own thoughts, which she expresses in good English.' 

SHEFFIELD DAILY TELEGRAPH— 'The tale is most 
interesting and graphically written. . . . Mrs. Garland Mears has 
creditably added both in prose and poetry to the literature of the 
period.' 

BRADFORD MERCURY. -' The narrative is vividly told, and 
is interspersed with many historical references to Bradford. Mrs. 
Mears is a charming writer, and all her tales are graphically 
written.' 

BRADFORD OBSER VER.—' Considerable dramatic interest 
in the stories, and their relation to the West Riding of Yorkshire, 
will give them special interest in this neighbourhood.' 

MANCHESTER EXAMINER. — ' The book is interesting 
throughout. The historical chapters dealing with York City and 
Hartlepool are admirable.' 

YORKSHIRE POST— 'The tone of the book is always 
admirable.'