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THE TRANSIT OF 



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THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 



THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 



THE NEW YORK 1 



ASTflR. LKNUX AND 

TILUtN FOUNHATIuNS 

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THE 
TRANSIT OF VENUS 



BY 



JOHN PHILIP ^OUSA 

Author of "The Fifth String," "Pipetown Sandy," 
'Through the Year with Sousa" 



ILLUSTRATED BY 

HELEN BELL 




ry ri> 



BOSTON 
SMALL, MAYNARD & COMPANY 

PUBLISHERS 



THE SEW YORK 

PUBLIC LlP,:iARY 

A:.':;:!7. LKNOX AND 
TiLL/L.!* 1 i)i..\UA'i^UNS 



Copyright, 1920, 

By small, MAYNARD k COMPANY 
(ixcobpokatxd) 



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THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 



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THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 

CHAPTER I 

"Now what I want is a dinner and dance that 
will make little old New York sit up and take 
notice/' and young Stoneman, in the manner 
of cigarette-smokers, blew encircling wreaths 
around the last syllable. 

"Everything will be in keeping with your 
desires/' said the hotel manager. "Menu, 
flowers, decorations, music and service shall be 
of the best, — ^leave it to me." 

"The' dinner will be for twenty, and there 
will be twenty-five couples at the dance that 
follows," the young man explained, consult- 
ing a carefully prepared list, made in the bold 
chirography of the affected feminine of latter- 
day society. The manager noted the number 
of people for each function and the date, 
January fifteenth. 



■^ ■» •* J ■» -' -t 

J w 4 -• ■» 



2 THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 

"Of course, there is to be a limit to the ex- 
pense. Can you give me an idea as to the 
cost?'' 

Exhibiting one of his most engaging smiles, 
the manager, that compendium of discern^ 
ment, diplomacy, commerce and sentiment, 
contemplated the young man approvingly, and 
said, with negative assurance and dexterous 
ambiguity, that he had every reason to be- 
lieve, in fact he was confident, that the bill 
would be satisfactory to Mr. Stoneman, know- 
ing as he did the gentleman's reputation as a 
host. 

"Very well, I leave it to you. Don't forget 
the date, and by all means let the papers know 
all about it. It's to be a birthday dinner and 
dance in honor of Miss Nancy Burroughs ; and, 
by the way, you had better get at least a dozen 
photographs of the young lady for the society 
reporters. You can get them at Brown's 
Studio; the one where she is singing ^Ah, fors 
e lui' is a hummer !" 

As soon as Stoneman departed, the hotel 



, " • V » » % 

*"• * • • • • 



THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 3 

manager went to his inner office, took from a 
shelf a confidential guide, turned to the letter 
"S" and read, "Stoneman, Edward (Mem- 
phis), son of John Stoneman, millionaire lum- 
berman. E. S. is a member of the New York 
Stock Exchange, but is never seen on the floor 
or in Wall Street. Has an office but no busi- 
ness. No income except what his father al- 
lows. Father and son not friendly. Some 
times very slow pay, but has always met his 
bills." 

In the various forms of theatrical entertain- 
ment, especially that listed under the head of 
vaudeville, there are combinations of per- 
formers known as "sister acts" or "brother 
acts," and sometimes we see displayed an an- 
nouncement that the "World-famed Pyramid 
Family of Grand and Lofty Tumblers will 
appear for a limited number of nights." As 
a matter of fact, speaking confidentially and 
not for publication, the beautiful Fluflfy Sisters 
are sisters only spiritually — not parentally; 
the famous Paragon Brothers are respectively 



4 THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 

of the Hebraic and the Celtic t)rpe, and the 

« 

Pyramids are gathered from the four quarters 
of the globe. It's a harmless deception and 
lends itself to perfection of entertainment, for 
talent is the desideratum, not consanguinity. 
It is probably done for advertising purposes, 
for there is sentiment, admiration and curiosity 
surrounding a "sister,'' "brother" or "family" 
combination. 

There is one combination in the world of 
"words and music" that is always genuine — 
the mother-and-daughter team. Wherever 
art, society and wealth congregate, there you 
will find this duo. It is made up of a 
"heavenly endowed" daughter, studying vocal 
art, and a wonderfully practical mother, watch- 
ful and positive. This maternal chaperone 
can be humbugged only in two directions — 
daughter's abilities and teachers' mandates. 

Mrs. James Le Grand Burroughs and her 
daughter Nancy were of this type. They had 
been in New York five years. The "heavenly 
endowed" was preparing herself for an 



THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 5 

operatic career, to quote the mother, "and 
daughter needs the sea air in the summer, so 
it has been impossible for us to visit home for 
the past five years. You know a great singer's 
career is so trying and self-sacrificing!'' 
Nancy was thirty, looked nearer twenty; 
mother was fifty, but would easily pass for 
forty. And father, who was fifty, appeared 
as sixty-five, and lived and slaved so that the 
votaries of art might applaud the "heavenly 
endowed" in the years after he had departed 
this life. 

Just why husband and wife should be sepa- 
rated in this too lonely world, because daughter 
has a "heavenly endowed" voice that can be 
developed in New York and Milan, Paris or 
Berlin only, is one of the cruel enigmas of the 
age. It is difficult to realize why father and 
mother, who in the first years of their married 
life felt the keenness of a separation of 
twenty-four hours, should live apart in the 
middle age of their existence, so that their 
daughter may make a success as a singer. Is 



6 THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 

it worth the sacrifice? If the shattered hopes 
and the dead ambitions of the unsuccessful are 
paralleled with those whom fame acclaims, it 
will be as a hundred to one. Father butchered 
to make a primadonnic star, hermitized in the 
complexities of solitaire — ^an offering on the 
Altar of Art! 

If it should be so willed that all mothers 
must take their first-born and step out of the 
family circle, until the child had accomplished 
the maternal ambitions, there never would be a 
second-born. The Malthusian doctrine would 
become automatic, and the theory of mathe- 
matical and geometrical progression would 
not be necessary to apply to population and 
subsistence. The Biblical injunction "to mul- 
tiply on the face of the earth" would be a dead 
letter. War with its manifold means of de- 
struction has made futile attempts to annihilate 
the peoples of the earth from the days of the 
ancients onward; but Art, forming a trium- 
virate with an ambitious mother and a 
"heavenly endowed" daughter, could accom- 



V 



JHE TRANSIT OF VENUS ^ 

plish the extinction of the human family so 
successfully that in a century or two the long- 
armed gorilla would be rated the superman of 
this earth. 

Nancy Burroughs' mission, according to 
Mother Burroughs, was to electrify the world 
with the radiance of her voice and her being. 
She was deep-chested and ample of hip, ex- 
cellent qualifications for a singer or a swim- 
mer. Originally a wholesome, good-natured, 
attractive girl, she had grown into a shrewd, 
carping and argumentative woman. All the 
womanly traits in her nature were gradually 
becoming brittle, and the curves of her thoughts 
were changing to the angularity of pessimism. 
She had come to New York with the belief that 
in two years at most she would be a prima 
donna at the Metropolitan and, in three, the 
prima donna. 

Alas! Five years had passed and she still 
remained a student. Of course, the vocal stu- 
dent should see all the operas and attend all 
the song recitals, should go to as many plays 



8 THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 

as possible to study examples of histrionic 
achievement, and should attend bridge parties, 
for they furnish an excellent medium for the 
study of human weaknesses, not forgetting 
lunches, teas, dinners and suppers, where gas- 
tronomical and conversational characteristics 
of Society are ever in evidence. These were 
the instructions of Nancy's singing master, and 
with a fidelity worthy of the cause, mother and 
daughter blindly followed them. How Nancy, 
with all these duties and recreations, had time 
to raise her voice even in a diatonic gamut was 
a mystery. 

Edward Stoneman was "rushing" Nancy, — 
to copy the vernacular of his and her most in- 
timate friends — and the dinner and dance on 
the fifteenth of January were to be given in her 
honor. Necessarily the gossips believed that 
no young man could give a party in honor of a 
young lady without being deeply in love with 
her. 

Mother Burroughs was fond of young 
Stoneman. He always, she would say, invited 



THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 9 

her to the opera, the theater, or to dinner 
whenever he asked Nancy. Then she would 
add, "So different from some men who think 
they own a girl if they buy her an ice-cream 
soda. Besides," the voluble lady would con- 
tinue, "he hasn't any of those mean, con- 
temptible, suspicious feelings that some men 
have because a girl is alone with her mother in 
New York, and he doesn't bother Nancy or 
interfere with her studies by making love. 
Therefore, he is very welcome.'' 

Of course, down in her heart. Mother Bur- 
roughs would have liked nothing better than 
that Nancy should marry Stoneman, for, she 
argued, the heir to thirty millions is not to be 
sneezed at, especially when there are so many 
instances of singers becoming greater in their 
art as matrons than as maids. 

The fifteenth of January came, and with it 
one of the most brilliant social affairs of the 
season. Edward and Nancy were declared the 
luckiest people in the world, and one bibulous 
guest hoped that the next party would be a 



lo THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 

wedding. Edward had never thought of that, 
— in fact, he never thought of anything except 
having a good time — ^but it gave him an idea. 

"Why not?" said he to himself. "She is a 
nice girl." So, when he left mother and 
daughter at their apartments, at three a. m., 
he asked, "May I come and see you Thursday 
evening?" 

"You are always welcome," was the mother's 
reply, "but I must get Nancy to bed now. She 
has a lesson at ten. Good night." 



• I 



CHAPTER II 

At nine the next morning, Edward Stone- 
man was awakened by the ringing of the tele- 
phone. 

"Telegram for Mr. Stoneman; shall I send 
it up r 

"Open it and tell me who sent it." 

"It is signed John Stoneman." 

"Send it up." 

It read, "Will arrive about ten to-morrow 
morning." Its date was January fifteenth. 

At ten the father came. The son was at 
breakfast in his apartments. 

"Read the papers this morning while coming 
into town. That was some party you had last 
night !" volunteered the senior, after father and 
son had greeted each other. 

"Yes ; it was a very nice affair," yawned the 

other. "Sorry you weren't here, governor, to 

II 



12 THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 

have taken it in. You would have enjoyed the 
company, I'm sure/' 

"No doubt/' the father rejoined laconically. 
"Who is Miss Burroughs ?" 

"Oh, a very sweet and talented girl from the 
West, studying voice culture. Going to be a 
great prima donna one of these days, wedded 
to her art — " 

"But willing to commit bigamy, if a desirable 
happens along, eh?" added the father, sar- 
donically. 

"If you mean me as a desirable, you're 
clean off." 

"She wouldn't turn down a handsome chap 
of twenty-six, with pleasant prospects, would 
she?" 

"How do I know? You'd better ask her." 

"Then you are not engaged to her ?" 

"Certainly not," snapped Edward. 

"Are you in love?" 

"Well, frankly, the dinner-party I gave last 
night might lead to an engagement. I rather 
fancy Miss Burroughs. I wouldn't say I love 



THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 13 

her, but it would not take a great deal of urging 
to bring about that condition/' the son an- 
swered, in the most commonplace manner. 

"Oh, I see — ^by the way, what did this affair 
cost you ?'* 

"Haven't got the bill yet, but the hotel man- 
ager felt sure it would be perfectly satisfactory 
— ^but it was no 'dollar a head' affair, you may 
rest assured. When I give a party, I give a 
party that does credit to my family, and you 
cannot take the whole floor of the best hotel in 
the world and have flowers and favors and 
suppers and orchestra for nothing." 

"Very true. Who is to pay for it ?" 

"You, of course. I telegraphed you for ten 
thousand last Monday, as I have run beyond 
my allowance during the past month." 

"You say, 'you of course.' Well, I, of 
course, will not pay for it; that's why I'm 
here," and the elder quickly vacated one chair 
only to throw himself vehemently into another. 

"What's the use of your grumbling, gov- 
ernor ? You can't take your money away with 



14 THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 

you when you die/' retorted the son. "There 
are no pockets in a shroud." 

"No, there are no pockets in a shroud, but 
there are holes in pockets ; one must be on the 
lookout all the time. Only last week it cost me 
three hundred dollars in repairs, and one hun- 
dred and fifty in lawyers' fees, owing to the 
stupidity of an insurance broker in making out 
an accident policy for my naphtha launch." 

"How was that ?" asked the son. 

"He insured against any one running into 
me, but not against my running into the other 
fellow. We had a collision, and the court de- 
cided I was the runner-in." 

"How deplorable — ^how awful!" Sarcasm 
clothed each word, as the son spoke. "Five 
hundred and fifty cold dollars, a sum truly 
colossal to a man quoted at thirty millions! 
You are to be pitied, to be condoled with, to be 
helped. I will start a subscription at once and 
have you reimbursed for your great loss. 
You see that dollar bill on the breakfast table ? 
I intended it for the waiter, but I think Til take 



THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 15 

it back and start a fund for your financial re- 
lief/' 

"Persiflage and satire have no effect on me/' 
said the father, dryly. 

'^No, but common sense should/' retorted the 
son. "Do you remember when you lost five 
million in one day on a lumber slump ?" 

"Yes, I do recall that, but it was in the line 
of business, — ^business is one thing, but being 
buncoed by an insurance broker or milked dry 
by a thriftless son is another." 

"Sidestepping the rudeness of your remark, 
let me inform you, my dear father, that, if I 
have done nothing else, I have made a study 
of you — " 

"Indeed, I feel honored." 

"And I find that you are so constituted that 
you are incapable of comprehending large 
figures. It is beyond you to realize the bigness 
of five million, but, when a hundred dollar bill 
is in jeopardy, you rise and emit a yell that is 
heard in the intervening space between the 
Atlantic and Pacific, and the St. Lawrence and 



i6 THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 

the Gulf Stream." The young man rather 
prided himself on this outburst of oratory. 

"Go ahead; I am much interested," said the 
father, with an inflection which pretended that 
he knew his son was simply juggling words, 
and thereby saving g^ay matter to make 
thoughts. 

"Yes, I will go ahead. I beg in the inter- 
est of peace and tranquillity that you change 
the amount of my allowance. You now allow 
me the enormous sum of two-fifty per week." 

"Two hundred and fifty dollars per week," 
replied the father, dwelling on each syllable. 

"That's what I said, — two-fifty per week. 
Instead of that, make it ten hundred thousand 
for fifty-two weeks or three hundred and sixty- 
five days. As you are unable to grasp big fig- 
ures, it will never dawn on you that it means a 
million a year ; pennies count with you, not dol- 
lars. I'm not ragging you, father, I am just 
giving you solid facts, which I think it my duty 
to tell you." 

"Well, whether it is your duty to tell me or 



THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 17 

not, I have come all the way from Memphis to 
tell you, if you want to play the grand gentle- 
man and multi-millionaire, supply your own 
multi-millions. I am resolved not to be a party 
to your extravagance." 

"See here, father, I am sick and tired of the 
restrictions you place upon me. In the five 
years since I left college, every time you send 
either my allowance or what I have needed 
above it, you enclose a ten-page letter and a the- 
sis on my filial duty. I am sick of it all and I 
won't stand for it." The young man paced 
the floor with suppressed nervousness. 

"You won't stand for it? You will have to 
stand for it!" The father arose, put on his 
hat, but the son intercepted him. 

"Please sit down, governor," this, persua- 
sively. "I want you to listen to me." The 
father resumed his chair. "I have thought all 
about the relation between a father and a son." 

"And your conclusion is ?" 

"I am your son because you wanted me, but 
you are not my father because I wanted you." 



i8 THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 

"Proceed r 

"You are responsible for my being on earth 
— I didn't ask you to be my father. Had I 
been consulted, I would have remained un- 
born." 

"It might have been to our several advan- 
tages had Nature provided a means to consult 
you," sarcastically added the father, although 
amused at his son's angle of reasoning. 

"Let's look conditions in the face. A man 
and a woman marry; no more than married 
they begin talking of the happy moment when 
there will come into their lives a little stranger. 
The little stranger is to look like father, 
mother, grandfather or grandmother ; the little 
stranger is to be a great man like George 
Washington. If it's a girl, it will bear in im- 
agination a lifelike resemblance to a distant but 
opulent aunt." 

"Practical, at least," offered the elder. 

"The little stranger comes, indifferent to 
its surroimdings ; has ears that look best if 



THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 19 

pinned back, eyes like gimlet-holes and yells 
like a Comanche/' 

''And father and mother are delighted with 
it." 

''Yes, but baby doesn't give a continental 
about his progenitors; papa and mamma 
wanted baby; papa and mamma own baby; 
papa and mamma blow about baby; baby isn't 
blowing about papa and mamma." 

"What is sweeter and purer and more un- 
selfish than a mother's vigil over her off- 
spring?" asked the father gravely. 

"That's born of proprietorship," rejoined 
the son. 

"Do you not believe in maternal instinct?" 

"It's nothing but habit, which, when it 
reaches its highest development, we think of 
such great importance and mystery that we 
give it a new name — instinct." 

".That may be, but the female has it in a 
larger degree than the male." 

"Granted," continued the son. "That comes 



20 THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 

from the circumscribed life of the woman ; the 
fewer the digressions and employment of the 
brain, the stronger the habit or instinct." 

''Women are wonderfully self-sacrificing, es- 
pecially mothers," parried the father. 

"They are all right till the question of own- 
ership comes into play. Let a scrawny, yell- 
ing, sour-smelling bit of a brat be placed in 
jeopardy of its life in company with the sweet- 
est and most beautiful infant in the world. 
The brat's mother will save her child, even 
though the other babe must perish thereby." 

"That's Nature — it dates from the days of 
Adam, for did he not say, 'bone of my bones, 
flesh of my flesh' ?" the father replied. 

"No doubt he did. Suppose these babies 
had been changed in their cradles and the beau- 
tiful one was none other than the offspring of 
the supposed mother of the brat, would the ma- 
ternal instinct know it?" 

"How could she ?" asked the parent. 

"That's it, and that's where intuition and in- 
stinct take a tumble. Those supposedly myste- 



THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 21 

rious waves that enter into the female brain, 
labeled instinct and intuition, if chased to 
cover, are simply the effect of habit and the 
outcome of guessing!'' emphatically exclaimed 
the son. 

*'How do you arrive at that conclusion?" 

"By observation. If feminine intuition were 
worth a feather in Hades, there never would be 
a betrayed woman, for woman is by nature 
moral and refined." 

"I am glad to hear you say that !" exclaimed 
the older man. "That has always been my 
view of the sex." 

"Now, let's examine the processes of intui- 
tion," said the son, in the manner of a legal ex- 
ponent. "She meets a man, handsome, subtle, 
chivalric in his flatteries, winning in personal- 
ity, splendid in companionship." 

"Fine qualities indeed," observed the father. 

"Her unerring intuition starts to work im- 
mediately. Can he be trusted ? No ! says In- 
tuition. And out of her life he goes. Again 
she meets a man, with pretty much the same 



22 THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 

qualities as the rejected one, but he is better 
groomed, wears his necktie more in the mode 
than the other fellow, his gloves proclaim the 
fashionable color. Unerring intuition again 
presents the question. Can he be trusted? 
Yes ! And the man proves himself the biggest 
scamp in town. Everybody knows it but Miss 
Intuition. She finds it out later ; sometimes, I 
fear, too late.'* 

"In your opinion, instinct and intuition are 
unreliable, and selfishness and love of owner- 
ship are universal?" 

"I would not say absolutely universal, but the 
belief in ownership blinds judgment/^ said the 



son. 
it 



An example ?'* 
"When a country is at war, a father mag- 
nanimously oflFers his son to his country. Son 
does something and gets his name in the dis- 
patches. Who is the first to brag about it? 
Father! Who goes about with an account of 
the glorious deed in his hand, crying, ^ust read 
what my son did!' Father! And his cry is 



THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 23 

always the cry of the owner. My son — my 
son — fhy son !" 

"Isn't that paternal pride ?'* 

''I think it's ownership. The father talks 
usually as if the son's only reason for having 
done anything out of the ordinary is that he is 
his son.*' 

"Blood will tell/' replied the elder. 

"That's all rot— blood doesn't tell. When 
the son does something that brings disgrace on 
his family, father doesn't shout, 'He's my son.' 
No, he abjures the relationship." 

"Then he only desires to be master when the 
prospect pleases him." 

"That's it." 

"We have only experience, intuition and rea- 
son to guide us. What would you suggest as 
the equitable attitude between father and son?" 

"That both should carefully weigh the rela- 
tionship and the causes." 

"The fact of my being your father is the 
cause of your being my son." 

"Yes, and the fact of my being your son 



24 THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 

is the cause of your being my father ; therefore, 
the relationship is of absolute equality. It 
comes under the head of the aforesaid 'bone 
of my bones, flesh of my flesh' idea." 

"And how are the conditions to be equalized 
by this equality ?" 

"By each sharing what he possesses ifl ai 
greater degree." 

"To elucidate?" 

"I have a well of affection. I give it to you 
freely — ^you have a mint of money, you give 
freely." 

"A sort of fifty-fifty arrangement." 

"A sort of host and guest arrangement — 
you as a host invite me on earth — I as your 
guest accept your invitation." 

"In perpetuity ?" 

"Just so. You would not give less of the 
good things of life to your guest than you have 
yourself." And the son sat back contemplat- 
ing the effect of his argument. 

"With slight variations, your specious argu- 
ments are the usual ones offered by the sons of 



THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 25 

rich men. Sons without one tittle of affection 
in their hearts squander thousands of their 
fathers' money, and, when they can't get the 
ready cash, give a promise-to-pay after their 
parents' demise. The fault lies not with the 
son but with the parent." 

"Thank Heaven! That's an admission, at 
least." 

"Listen!" And the elder Stoneman stood 
erect. "Your grandfather, my father, was op- 
posed to my marriage with your mother. She 
came of a family that had been at loggerheads 
with his people for years. In a scene between 
my father and me he threatened to disown and 
disinherit me, if I married against his wishes. 
My reply was that he had married, — why 
shouldn't I ? His father had given him money, 
why should not mine? He was responsible 
for my being here, and, if I had inherited a de- 
sire to marry and live in luxury, he was respon- 
sible for it." 

"You had him there, governor," chuckled the 
younger. 



26 THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 

"Yes, apparently I had him, and he weakly 
gave in. I married your now sainted mother, 
and you were the fruit of that union.'' 

"Naturally you won out." 

''I did, but both my father and myself made 
the mistake of not considering the future." 

*Tn what way?" 

"How my offspring would act, how he would 
insist he was brought into the world without 
his consent, would view life and its responsibil- 
ities." 

"And now I am at variance with you," so- 
berly and slowly spoke the son. 

"But," continued the father, "there is a rem- 
edy for the future — a remedy to correct the er- 
rors of my father and your father." 

"And that is ?" 

"Had my father said to me, when I insisted 
on marrying your mother, 'The responsibility 
for your act rests with you — we are forever 
apart, you go your way, I shall go mine.' " 

"That would have been cruel." 

"Cruel or not, it would have brought me to 



THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 27 

a realization of my position. It might have 
drawn from within me traits of practical inde- 
pendence — not theoretical. It might have 
awakened dormant faculties for my better- 
ment. It might have shown me how helpless 
I was to provide the comforts and luxuries to 
which my fiancee was accustomed. It might 
have come to me that she should not be sacri- 
ficed on the Altar of Love." 

"And r 

''I never might have married. But my fa- 
ther melted under my diaphanous arguments, 
delivered with sledge-hammer force, through 
puerile reasoning." 

"A proper father," said the son. 

"A proper father, perhaps, but a blinded and 
weak grandfather. The consequence of his 
timidity was the coming of you." 

"And you think I have inherited all of your 
bad traits ?" asked the younger. 

"All of which might have been obliterated, 
had I been thrown on my own resources." 



28 THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 

"You believe you can change your disposi- 
tion, just as you would your coat ?" 

"The world contains many men who have 
crushed the bad in them, and many others who 
have crushed the good/' 

"I do not believe any argument or experience 
would change my views of your responsibility 
for me/' 

"Then I must accept your theory of host and 
guest,'' quickly replied the father. 

"And deduce?" 

"The following, as the law and order of my 
house. Guests are unwelcome, when they do 
not follow the tenets of good breeding. Guests 
are banished, when they violate the hospitality 
of the host. You as my guest must avoid the 
sorrows and disappointments, the humiliations 
suffered by my father and myself. You must 
avoid the possibility of being held responsible 
for another's coming on earth. Do you under- 
stand?" 

"I do." 

"This is done to spare you the curses, the 



THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 29 

contempt and the weak arguments of a pos- 
sible future son." 

"And if I refuse r 

"Then as an undesirable guest, I must show 
you the door." 

"Come in" — this in answer to a sharp knock. 
The bellboy handed an envelope to the young 
man; he opened it. It contained the bill for 
the dinner and dancing party of the night be- 
fore. "Seven thousand and eighty dollars," 
he read, then handed the bill to his father. 
"That's the cpst of my party," he said. 

"Some party, my son !" Turning to the bell- 
boy, the older man said, "Wait a moment, 
young man." He took from his satchel a 
blank check, filled in the amount of the bill, and 
after signing it, put both in an envelope. 
Handing it to the waiting boy, he said, "Bring 
back the receipt." 

In a few moments the manager made his ap- 
pearance and with many assurances of his most 
distinguished consideration, said, "I simply 



30 THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 

sent the bill to enlighten Mr. Stoneman as to 
the cost, and not for collection." 

'That's all right/' said the father with 
great affability. 'In these days of poor serv- 
ice and indifferent regard for the comfort of a 
guest, the least irritating moment in a hotel is 
when one is paying his bill.'* 

''We can not always govern our retinue of 
help," explained the manager, apologetically. 

"Why, I've been told," maliciously continued 
the lumber magnate, "that a waiter in this es- 
tablishment jeopardizes his social position, 
should he, even by accident, thank a guest for 
a tip." 

"There is no authentic case where they ever 
did," said the son, laughing. 

"That's all right," said the father. " 'Pay 
as you go' is my motto." 

When the manager had departed, the son, 
melting visibly, came to the side of his father 
and said, "I thank you, dad, for helping me out. 
I know these people have got my number. 
Every bill is sent me on the minute. They 



THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 31 

know Fm depending on you for every dollar I 
spend and are taking no chances." 

"Reverting to our argument. As you are 
my guest, of course I advance the cash for all 
packages that may be addressed you. You set- 
tle later/' the father explained. 

"Do you think I can fill the requirements of 
an honored guest?" falteringly spoke the son. 

"You can try. You know the reward or the 
penalty. If you are not equal to the sacrifice, 
your argument will be your son's argument 
twenty-five years hence — and your humiliation, 
but— 

"So nigh is grandeur to our dust 
So near is God to man, 
When duty whispers, low, 'Thou must,' 
The youth replies, 'I can.' " 

"That is a splendid sentiment — a sentiment 
of a brave heart — it points out duty." 

"Every cause," said the father, "must have 
a martyr." 

"I'm fearful," continued the son, "that I am 
not cast in the martyrdorp mold." 



32 THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 

"One never can tell/' 

The son went to the window, gazed absent- 
mindedly at the passing throng, then turned 
towards his father and spoke slowly. "I do 
not quite catch what I must do to conform to 
your wishes, father." 

"Remedy the mistake of your grandfather 
and your father. Don't marry." 



CHAPTER III 

Man's predilection to make laws is only 
equaled by his capacity to break them. 
Forms, ceremonies, rules, regulations and stat- 
utes are jumbled together in a sort of legal 
grab-bag, and whatever the occasion you can 
extract a precedent that bears on it. 

A man invents something of absolute value 
to the world — it may be a new kind of vehicle, 
it may be a new kind of gun or a new kind of 
steamboat; immediately there come into exist- 
ence statutes bearing on the new invention — 
some of practical value, some merely of repres- 
sion or oppression. Laws, good, bad or indif- 
ferent, grow out of man's all-absorbing pas- 
sion for meddling. 

The customs and laws concerning matri- 
mony are enormous in number and take cog- 
nizance of every point from breach of promise 

33 



34 THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 

to annulment. All the various ramifications 
surrounding the joining of two in the holy 
bonds of wedlock are carefully provided for, 
save one. By some strange oversight man's 
officiousness has not found play in enacting a 
law for enforcing a form of action or proced- 
ure attending a proposal or promise of mar- 
riage. The breaking of a heart is taken care 
of by statute, but the questioning of that most 
important organ is left to the fancy, the in- 
genuity, the duplicity, or the simplicity, of man. 
Perhaps some day there will be an enactment 
of how a man should propose and a woman 
accept. Novelists and funny men, cartoonists 
and dramatists, have put on exhibition, or have 
read into the record, their own formulae, but 
it is believed they are the offspring of imagina- 
tion rather than of experience. 

What sensation so perplexing and yet so 
thrilling as the form you'll adopt when on your 
way to propose ! One rehearses just what one 
is to say to the charming recipient and what 
her answer will be when the momentous instant 



THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 35 

arrives. Alas ! It never works out that way, 
— ^that is, if veterans of the game are to be be- 
lieved. The dramatist's down-on-your-mar- 
row-and-a-wild-burst-of-oratory is said to be a 
figment of romance. The old-time novelist's 
**May I do myself the inestimable honor of beg- 
ging your hand in marriage?" is a bold bid for 
future serfdom. Therefore, we must conclude 
that man does not consider proposing of suf- 
ficient importance to enact rules and regula- 
tions for its government. All of which is 
strange, for man has insisted on the manner in 
which he must indulge in soup, man has even 
said he must not convey peas on a knife, man is 
subject to censure, if he engages in conversa- 
tion with his mouth crammed with food, but 
not one line, suggestion, or information for the 
illumination of the wayfarer entering the road 
that leads to matrimony ! 

Edward Stoneman's request that he might 
call on Nancy on a particular evening started a 
train of thought in the brain of Mrs. Bur- 
roughs. Stoneman had been in the habit of 



36 THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 

dropping in at all sorts of hours, and now to 
pick out a day and time was unusual, and, 
therefore, a matter for cogitation. The young 
man had given Nancy a party that blase New 
York had spoken of for a day. Men do not 
give expensive parties without reason; there- 
fore, Mrs. Burroughs conjectured that Stone- 
man was in love and was coming to propose. 

"It's worth the risk," said the practical 
mother. 

** What's worth the risk, dearie ?" came from 
a voice at the piano. 

"The rejection of one rich man for the pos- 
sible chance of marrying a richer one." 

"It will break Curlip's heart, if I throw him 
down," said the daughter, striking the intro- 
duction to "Good-by, Sweetheart, Good-by." 

"Don't bother about his heart. It's mallea- 
ble. It may change its shape every day, but 
it won't break." 

"Still, I prefer Curlip to Stoneman," said the 
daughter. "Curlip's forty-five, Stoneman's 
twenty-five, and I am thirty. I'd rather be an 



THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 37 

old man's darling than a young man's left-at- 
home and sit-by-the-fire after a few years." 

"But there is no necessity for that. Your 
Art in its infancy requires position; position 
requires money; money and marriage will put 
you on Easy Street, and it's a short cut to the 
Boulevard of Success, promenading as a ma- 
tron with the Malibrans, Pattis, Grisi and 
others. You know they are the very words of 
your dear professor," which settled it, in moth- 
er's and daughter's minds. 

" As you will," said the younger, resignedly. 
She accepted the mother's dictum, although she 
cared for Eben Curlip, man-about-town, fairly 
well-to-do, with a reputation of having been 
three times divorced, but known as a good fel- 
low. 

Nancy excused his triple entanglements as 
the outcome of romantic ebullitions rather than 
infractions of the moral code. A girl of thirty 
always listens to mother's advice — girls of 
twenty are the obstinate ones — so Nancy 
rejected the astonished and astounded Cur- 



38 THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 

Up, when he brought the engagement ring. 
All the milk of human kindness in his soul 
turned to a vinegary liquid. All women were 
beneath contempt, in his opinion, and he went 
forth with a perpetual anti-female chip on his 
shoulder and a grouch in his soul. 

When young Stoneman was announced, he 
was greeted with every sign of cordiality. 

"Mother says your party was the finest she 
has ever attended, and just why a little mouse 
like me should be given sttch an honor, I have 
been trying all week to guess," said the happy 
Nancy. 

"Daughter was so wrought up over the 
splendor of the evening that she could not sleep 
a wink. It was the happiest event in her entire 
young life, but Tm not going to allow her to 
attend another party for at least two weeks, — 
that is, to be out as late as three a. m., for you 
know one must carefully watch thfese song- 
birds. They are sent on earth to gladden our 
hearts," and the voluble lady paused. 

"Had a most unexpected visitor," said the 



THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 39 

young man, removing his overcoat and seating 
himself. 

"Friend or nuisance/' asked Mother Bur- 
roughs. 

"None less than my governor.'* 

"I beg pardon — I didn't mean to be rude — 
your father — '' 

"You must have been delighted at his com- 
ing/' said Nancy. 

"Not so much as I was at his going." 

"Why didn't you bring him here? We 
should have been so pleased to meet him 1" ex- 
claimed Mrs. Burroughs. 

"I don't think you would have — if he contin- 
ued his conversational style of the past two 
<lays/' gloomily replied young Stoneman. 

"Why ! Was he cross with you ?" asked the 
singer. 

"Cross? Why before he got through with 
me, my mentality was beaten into such a pulp, 
you could have squeezed it into a peanut 
shell." 

"We have understood he has been very sue- 



40 THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 

cessful in business/' said the mother, with in- 
tention. 

*1 should say so! He can make a million 
and not turn a hair, but he is so used to being 
on the winning side that the loss of a couple of 
hundred dollars will worry him for a week." 

"He must have an excellent brain," said 
Nancy. 

"Oh, the governor's got a high-grade dome. 
His ideas do not always fit in with those fellows 
that write of the wrongs of man and suggest 
dividing all wealth equally, and then, when it's 
all spent, dividing up again." 

"How interesting!" said the mother. "He 
must have made a deep study of social eco- 



nomics." 



"I don't know about that, but I do know he 
is not biassed; most economists are. Father 
says many rich men becotne rich in spite of 
themselves, but no beggar became a beggar for 
the same reason. He says that if a man had 
the same repugnance to accepting help or char- 
ity as he has to being boiled in oil, charitable or- 



THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 41 

ganizations, soup-houses and poorf arms would 
be as rare as the Dodo." 

"How quaintly funny !" interjected Nancy. 

"His view of capital and labor is that they 
take themselves too seriously, that money and 
muscle are only valuable to the world when the 
inventor gives them a boost. When invention 
tarries, the world tarries, — the inventor gives 
life to the rich man's money and the poor man's 
muscle. Five hundred years ago the possible 
occupations of man and the working power of 
money were very limited, but the brains of the 
inventor have opened thousand of avenues of 
human endeavor." 

"Does any one agree with your father ?" the 
mother asked. 

"Of course, they must!" Nancy exclaimed. 
"Only the other night I read in a book that 
whoever could make two ears of corn or two 
blades of grass to grow where only one grew 
before would deserve better of mankind and 
do more essential service to the world than all 
the politicians put together. The man that 



42 THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 

does that is a creator, I should think/' Nancy 
was proud of her memory and her deduction. 

''And father says, if nature had constituted 
man so he would have to supply his own suste- 
nance, just as he must supply the force to keep 
his heart going, a lot of fool ideas would never 
be thought of, for if a man is cast away on a 
desert island, he doesn't hunt around to find 
pen and paper to write a thesis on the world's 
owing him a living, but hunts for something 
to eat." 

" You said he was cross with you ?" the 
mother spoke. 

" Oh, about my mode of life. He convinced 
me I had no right to spend his money unless I 
also shared his views. He believes I have in- 
herited certain tendencies common to him in 
his youth, and I should not perpetuate them in 
a future generation." 

"You certainly would not allow him to inter- 
fere in your life's happiness?" asked the 
mother, hastily. 



THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 43 

*T intend to do so. I am turning over a new 
leaf and adopting my father's creed of life." 

*Tn what way," came from the anxious Mrs. 
Burroughs. 

"By never marrying, falling in love, or be- 
coming engaged." 

''Jiist hear him !" and Nancy laughed boister- 
ously. 

*T shall travel my life's path, lonely and 
alone; I shall preach this gospel: — Let those 
marry who are free from the theory that all ca- 
lamities are placed on man by his fellow man. 
Let those love who acknowledge themselves 
masters of their own fate." 

"Did your father make it compulsory that 
you must follow his demands ?" questioned the 
mother. 

"No, not at all, but I rather suspect if I 
should depart from my decision, he would hold 
me in such utter contempt that every relation 
between us would be severed." 

"Your father has another guess coming! 



44 THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 

The whole idea is silly!" she cried — ^the vision 
of a lost son-in-law and thirty millions vanish- 
ing. 

"Why silly?'' said the son drawing himself 
up proudly. "I have never earned a dollar in 
my life. Silly? I have given up my life to 
pleasure, all of which has been financed by an 
indulgent parent — the silly one is I." 

When young Stoneman had departed, the 
mother clenched her hands and cried, "I would 
not have believed a man could be so foolish ! I 
am greatly disappointed in Edward Stone- 
man !" 

"I am too, mother, for he's the cause of my 
losing the man I preferred." 



CHAPTER IV 

Baxter and Higgins, brokers, members of 
the New York Stock Exchange, had been 
among the most successful firms in Wall Street. 

After the death of Baxter, the good will, 
firm name and the seat on the Exchange were 
sold to the elder Stoneman, who, immediately- 
after Edward's graduation, established him in 
business, the firm name becoming Baxter, Hig- 
gins and Stoneman. It boasted the most ex- 
pensive and best appointed offices in the finan- 
cial district, a high-salaried manager, an at- 
tractive stenographer and a talkative office boy. 

The principal signs of activity about the 
place were the coming and going of these indis- 
pensable adjuncts to a properly constituted 
brokerage establishment. 

The office boy was brought into the arena of 
physical and mental exertion oftener than his 
two colleagues, for at times a customer of the 

45 



9} 



46 THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 

original firm called on matters of business, and 
this kind of dialogue would take place, 

''Is Mr. Baxter in?'' 

''No, sir." 

"When do you expect him?*' 

"Not expecting him, sir." 

"Why not?" 

"He's dead, sir." 

"Oh!" Then, after a long pause, "Can I 
see Mr. Higgins?' 

"Not very well, sir.' 

"Why not?" 

" 'Cause he's been buried for six years." 

"Oh!" — sympathetically, another pause — ^"I 
notice a new name, Mr. Stoneman." 

"Yes, sir, he's the whole shooting-match — 
he's the box of tricks of this firm." 

"Is he in?" 

"No, sir, not just now." 

"When do you expect him?" 

"About next March. He has gone South 
for the winter ; he left on his yacht last Novem- 
ber." 



THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 47 

Here the effervescent stenographer put in 
her oar by stating that last week's Town Topics 
had a splendid account of the grand ball Mr. 
Stoneman gave at St. Augustine. 

"Thank you very much for the information." 

"It was some ball, believe me." 

"No doubt!" And the would-be customer, 
after another pause, would depart; the office 
would resume its semi-somnolent state, — that 
is, the manager would twirl his thumb eccen- 
trically, centrif ugally, cylindrically, outwardly, 
inwardly, upwardly, and downwardly, repeat- 
ing with rhythmic regularity ; the stenographer 
would continue her inspection of the spring 
fashion plates and the offifce boy would become 
once more engrossed in the thrilling adven- 
tures of "Thumbless Tom" or the "Cattle 
King's Daughter." 

All things must have an end, however; one 
morning the telephone bell rang and the start- 
ling information came that Mr. Edward Stone- 
man would be down in an hour. The office boy 
polished up the gold lettering of the firm name 



48 THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 

and carefully brushed his employer's unused 
desk and chair. 

The coming was an event. 

"Hello, everybody!" Stoneman was in the 
office. 

"Good morning," said the trio, in voices that 
in a musical score would have been labeled so- 
prano, tenor, and bass. 

"I apologize," this with a gracious sweep of 
his left hand, "for giving you such short notice 
of my coming, but from this time on you will 
see lots of me." 

The trio looked at Stoneman with open- 
mouthed incredulity and conflicting emotions. 

"Mr. Brownley, kindly call up Green and 
Sanderson and say that I accept their offer for 
the stock farm at Oldenboro. Miss Smith, 
write a letter to Captain Bradley, Astronom- 
ical Club. Say I am ready to close the deal 
for my yacht, and you, son, run over to B rein- 
berg, Maiden Lane, and inform him that, after 
he has ascertained the value of the diamonds I 
left with him, he is to send his appraisal here 



THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 49 

and not to my hotel. I have an impatient 
buyer who wants them as soon as possible." 

Activity reigned. Going to the newspaper 
rack, he selected the "Stock Quotation Sheet" 
scanned every issue of the past fortnight, then 
called to his manager. 

"Brownley, look up the date of the incor- 
poration and the amount of common stock of 
the San Martino Borax Company." 

In a few minutes Brownley reported, "San 
Martino Borax Company, organized in State of 
Nevada ; common stock, one million ; preferred, 
five hundred thousand, par value one hundred." 

"I see it is quoted at forty-eight with no buy- 
ing during the past weeks. Do you know any- 
thing about the Company?" 

"Nothing of value. It has a good property 
according to Moody's, but the stock has been in 
a moribund condition since the company's or- 
ganization." 

"Buy five hundred shares at once." 

"Don't you think I'd better investigate first?" 

"No, just buy! I shall do the rest." 



50 THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 

"Very well/' 

"And, by the way, give me the volume con- 
taining the statistics of the White Star Enamel 
Company, of New Jersey, Thanks! White 
Star Enamel Company/ " said Stoneman, read- 
ing from the book, " 'Common Stock, 30,000 
shares — par value one hundred dollars; Pre- 
ferred, 10,000 shares.' What's the quota- 
tion for White Star Enamel Company?" 

"Fifty-three for common." 

"Buy five hundred shares." 

"I would prefer, Mr. Stoneman, to investi- 
gate the material possibilities of these com- 
panies before we plunge into speculative activi- 
ties." 

"Haven't time for investigation — ^just buy 
and we'll look into the companies later." 

"As you desire," said the perplexed man- 
ager. 

The stock reports the next day showed five 
hundred shares of San Martino and five hun- 
dred of White Star bought at forty-eight and 
fifty-three respectively. The week ended with 



THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 51 

two' thousand shares of each stock showing in 
the sales, and White Star was up six points and 
San Martino ten. 

The following Monday morning Stoneman 
was at his office when it opened. He called 
Brownley for consultation and instructions. 
"Mr. Brownley," he began, "I spent yesterday 
looking into the merits of the San Martino and 
White Star concerns. I found out enough to 
justify our manipulation of the stock, above the 
speculative chances. These companies have a 
tangible and economic reason for existence and 
their stock must, by every business law, become 
valuable. The utility of their product cannot 
be gainsaid. I find a man has discovered a 
new process of enameling, known as the flex- 
ing of borax with a number of other ingred- 
ients. The White Star outfit has secured the 
rights in that patent, and control the output of 
the San Martino Company. You know what 
oil and steel has done; watch borax. These 
companies have tripled their surplus since their 
last statement. We'll change the motto of this 



52 THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 

joint; instead of The weary are at rest/ it will 
be, 'Onward, onward, onward.' Go to it/' 

The results were most gratifying, for each 
stock soared above par and before very long 
the young broker was becoming famous and 
wealthy. 

To some men sub-titles are as inevitable as 
"touches" are to an easy-mark. In a short 
time Stoneman had schooled himself to listen 
with equanimity and reserve to such enthusias- 
tic appellations as, "The Wizard of Wall 
Street," "The Napoleon of Finance," or "The 
Man Who Made Borax Famous." 

One day Mrs. Burroughs and Nancy breezed 
in. Edward greeted them quietly, much too 
quietly to please mother, for she still hoped. 
After discussing the proper investing of a few 
thousand left her by a decently distant and re- 
cently deceased second cousin, she asked, 
"Have you dropped those foolish ideas you ex- 
pounded so eloquently the last time we saw 
you?" 

"No, of course not. I am more than ever 



THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 53 

convinced of the necessity of following my 
father's wishes." 

"Your father's wishes are tommyrot/' vig- 
orously contended the mother. 

"Perhaps so. I won't argue that point," 
Stoneman spoke wearily. 

"Does your father know of your splendid 
success, and how you are admired?" asked 
Nancy. 

"Oh, I imagine he knows I'm getting on. 
He has written once or twice asking why I 
haven't drawn my allowance and why he hadn't 
received the bills for this office's expenditures." 

"Perhaps he thinks you've reneged on your 
promise," offered Mrs. Burroughs as a solu- 
tion. 

"No, I don't think so. All of us are the crea- 
tures of habit, and my not writing for money 
continually has left an aching void in the dear 
old fellow's life." The young man winked and 
laughed outright. 

"Well," Mother Burroughs adapted the de- 
bating club style of her youth, "on the same 



54 THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 

line of reasoning advanced by your father, that 
heredity absorbs the bad traits of a race, now 
that you have shown the world you have a gen- 
ius for finance, do you not think it foolish to 
let that genius die with you ?*' 

"Admitting your ingenious tribute to my al- 
leged genius, I cannot agree with you." 

"Pray, why?'' 

"Nature does not transmit genius from 
father to son. Dryden gives it in this manner : 
'Genius is the gift of nature.' Tt depends on 
the influence of the stars,' says the astrologer. 
'On the organs of the body,' says the natural- 
ist. 'It is the particular gift of Heaven,' says 
the divine." 

"Then, why does Nature transmit the meaner 
traits?" asked Nancy. 

"Ask Nature. She is prone to standardize 
physical resemblances, but .seldom mental. In 
a family of six children you not infrequently 
find extremes of intellect." 

"And sometimes common family traits." 

"But not genius. Of course, any one can be 



THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 55 

a mechanic in literature, art, finance, but the 
creative faculty is what makes a Shakespeare, 
a Richard Wagner, a John Pierpont Morgan. 
They are the keystones of the arch between Na- 
ture and man/' 

'^You mean they had something more than 
mere education?" asked the mother. 

^'Unquestionably, and none of them inher- 
ited their genius. Let us take your profession, 
Nancy. Let us observe what heredity does for 
the most universal language and its interpret- 



ers. 



"I didn't know you knew anything about 
music and musicians.'' Stoneman assumed a 
new interest in the singer's eyes. 

"I don't know much, but I do happen to re- 
member from a course I took on the history of 
music in college that Beethoven's father was a 
drunken tenor singer, whose name appeared 
oftener on the police blotter than on musical 
programs. Berlioz's father was a physician; 
Chopin's, a captain of the National Guard; 
Gluck's, a gun-bearer to the Prince of Savoy; 



56 THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 

Gounod's, a painter; Handel's, a barber; Hay- 
dn's, a wheelwright; Mendelssohn's, a banker, 
and also Meyerbeer's ; Mozart's, a lawyer ; Ros- 
sini's, an inspector of slaughter-houses; Schu- 
bert's, a schoolmaster; Schumann's, a book- 
seller; Verdi's, a grocer; Wagner's, a govern- 
ment clerk. The only exception in the array 
of musical geniuses are the Bachs and the 
Webers. Their families were musical, but lots 
of them lived in the reflected glory of the one 
great genius of the name. In the case of these 
great men, who in turn became fathers, their 
progeny showed no greater sign of musical 
greatness than their progenitors." 

"I see, though faintly," laughingly exclaimed 
the vivacious Nancy, "some hope that I may 
become a great singer." 

"By what process?" Edward asked, with 
mock-doubting deliberation. 

"By the non-genius ancestral route. My 
father, when he vocalizes in the "Battle of 
Bunker Hill," emits a rhythmic procession of 
squawks that would make a peacock die of 



THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 57 

envy, and, when mother dear raises her voice 
in melody, Patti's high E gets off its pedestal 
and hides its diminished head." And Nancy 
gave an imitation that amused the office force. 

"That will do," said the mother, severely, as 
they departed. 

Young Stoneman resumed the duties of his 
office. The passion of his life was absolutely 
in Wall Street. He talked stocks, walked 
stocks, dreamed stocks — stocks and their ma- 
nipulations were the all in all of his existence. 
Most men banish ''shop" when away from their 
offices. Young Stoneman made it the subject 
of every conversation. In four years he was 
listed at five millions, and heavy-eyed and fev- 
erish he was working for more, when a halt 
was called by that inexorable sentry — Nature ! 

''Who goes there?" 

"A friend." 

Advance and give the countersign!" 
'Money." 

"You're under arrest! Corporal of the 
guard!" calls the sentry. 






<<T>. 



58 THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 

I've forgotten the password/' meekly ex- 
plains the prisoner. 

"It's 'Health,' you fool," thunders Martinet 
Nature. Whereupon Stoneman took his first 
vacation. He secured passage on his former 
yacht, the Southern Cross, now being fitted 
out for an astronomical expedition to observe 
the transit of Venus. 



CHAPTER V 

The wandering poet who penned "Be it ever 
so humble, there's no place like home," doubt- 
lessly allowed his imagination full play and pic- 
tured that abode as a nook in Paradise. With 
an attractive wife, loving and beloved; sunny- 
faced children, obedient and confiding ; a house- 
keeper, resourceful without a suggestion of 
the martinet; a cook, versatile and inviting; a 
gardener, sweat-seeking and free from rheu- 
matism; a groom, scorning John Barleycorn 
and loving the equines; a valet, who lets you 
wear low-cut russet shoes with a dinner coat, 
even if it isn't fashionable, then, "Be it ever so 
humble, there's no place like home/' 

Poets, like doctors, sometimes disagree, for 
we find another poet who in a moment of en- 
thusiasm scribbled on the window of an inn : 

59 



6o THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 

Whoe'er has travelled life's dull round 
Where'er his stages may have been, 
May sigh to think he still has found 
His warmest welcome at an inn. 

And has not the Boswell-trailed Johnson re- 
corded in substance that nothing has been con- 
trived by man by which so much happiness has 
been produced as by a good inn ? Strong lan- 
guage, contemplative and assertive, worthy of 
thought and investigation but ordinary and 
prosaic, when compared with the couplets of 
our own beloved Longfellow : 

A region of repose it seems, 

A place of slumber and of dreams. 

Here you have your famous men advancing ar- 
guments in favor of the great blessings vouch- 
safed humanity by home and inn. It would 
be obviously unfair to the unsuspecting and the 
novitiate to dismiss the subject of man's habita- 
tion, shelter, food and company without consid- 
ering their possible disadvantages. 

First, let us make a manifest of home as it 
might be: The husband must assume the en- 



THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 6i 

tire cost of keeping it on the map, though it 
may be shared by an obnoxious mother-in-law, 
an asthmatic aunt, a garrulous sister-in-law, a 
trombone-blowing son, a piano-thumping 
daughter, to say nothing of an hysterical and 
nagging wife. 

We will now picture the seamy side of the 
inn. One may be disturbed at the midnight 
hour by the convivial dissonances of an all- 
agreeing party vociferating that * Ve won't go 
home until morning,'' or, being fastidious, one 
may be made unhappy on noticing one's oppo- 
site at the breakfast table drawing breath and 
coffee from a saucer, or one may lose his love 
for pure melody by hearing from the next table 
its occupant vocalizing his consomme, or, hor- 
ror of horrors, one may shake and shudder at 
the spectacle of the very stout man, who wears 
his napkin as a lung protector, picking his teeth 
with a fork, while waiting for the third help- 
ing of plum pudding. 

With these disagreeable possibilities in evi- 
dence, where, oh where, can man turn ? 



62 THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 

To a club of course ! 

A home at the best is a penalty of marriage ; 
an inn the penalty of not having a home, a club 
man's offering to man. From A, B, C to X, Y, 
Z the infinite combinations of the alphabet 
have been employed to supply titles for well- 
loved institutions. A community of interest 
brings men together to discuss, to console, to 
elevate, to consult, to agree. Hence the popu- 
larity of clubs. No member owns the club and 
no member financially profits through his mem- 
bership. 

Aldrich, the pundit and romancer, writes, 
^'If it came to a matter of gossip, I would back 
our club against the Sorosis or any woman's 
club in existence. Whenever you see in our 
drawing-room four or five young fellows 
lounging in easy chairs, cigar in hand, and now 
and then bringing their heads together over the 
small round Japanese table which is always the 
pivot of these social circles, you may be sure 
they are discussing Tom's engagement, or 
Dick's extravagance, -or Harry's hopeless pas- 



THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 63 

sion for the young Miss Flendelys. Why not ? 
If Tom is so blinded he cannot see the ad- 
vantages of single blessedness, or Dick's sense 
of the value of money is deadened, or Harry so 
far forgets himself as to nurse a hopeless pas- 
sion, why should not loving and discerning 
friends discuss the ways and means of rescue 
for these unfortunates ?'' 

The banner of brotherhood waves over every 
clubhouse. 

Similarity of appearance is the open sesame 
to the Bald-head Club. 'The Double-Bass 
Violin Club" came into being to avoid the 
street-urchins' shouts of "stag de man wid de 
dog house," or "look at de guy wid de bull- 
fiddle," — in the crowded thoroughfares of the 
metropolis. A thoughtful member of the guild 
that supplies the foundation to the architecture 
of music organized the club, and in every dance 
or concert hall reposes a double-bass violin sub- 
ject to the key of a member of the club. 

What could make a stronger appeal to a life- 
tired man than a membership in a club organ- 



64 THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 

ized to determine the date of shuffling off of this 
mortal coil. All men know the method of their 
birth ; to none is vouchsafed the manner of their 
demise. An organization was created for this 
purpose, amid great enthusiasm and with Teu- 
tonic efficiency — The Suicide Club. How sim- 
ple its rules! "Lots shall be drawn for the 
privilege of committing suicide, one on every 
succeeding Easter. Candidates discovered us- 
ing dishonorable methods to secure election to 
the office of suicide shall appear before the 
board of governors, and, if found guilty, shall 
lose their privilege, and be suspended for a pe- 
riod of one year. Playing politics not permit- 
ted. Every man a candidate, and may the 
best man win." 

How simple the rules of The Fat-Men's 
Club! How scrupulously careful the require- 
ments for membership were drawn! Their 
clubroom had two entrances — one a door of 
ample size, the other a pair of folding doors. 
The candidate blackballed himself if he could 
pass through the first door, but, if his dimen- 



THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 65 

sions were greater than the aperture, he was 
led to the folding doors, and, if he was less than 
ei^ht feet broad, he passed through and was 
saluted by the waiting members as a brother. 
America is under obligations to the famous 
Anacreontic of London for the music of our 
national anthem. The original words and 
music were written and composed by members 
for a club song. The first words sung to what 
we now know as ^The Star Spangled Banner'* 
are: 

To Anacreon, in heav'n 

Where he sat in full glee 

A few songs of harmony sent a petition, 

That he, therefore, inspirer and patron would be ; 

When this answer arrived from the jolly old Grecian; 

Voice, fiddle and flute 

No longer be mute 

I'll lend you my name and inspire ye to boot, 

And besides, I'll instruct ye, like me, to entwine, 

The Myrtle of Venus with Bacchus's vine. 

Statistics, those squelchers of argument, 
those firebrands of assumption, tell us that di- 
vorces are increasing in our land, that from a 



66 THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 

sporadic condition divorce is growing to the 
dignity of numbers. What then should be 
more natural than that Eben Curlip, three 
times divorced, should, in the need of the hour, 
send invitations to sundry gentlemen to fore- 
gather and organize a club? The response 
was most gratifying, and thus the Alimony 
Club was ushered into existence. Its constitu- 
tion read as follows : 

Article I 

It is the duty of every member to familiarize him- 
self with the rules and intents of the club. 

Article II 

The name of this association is The Alimony Club 
of the United States of America. 

Article III 
Its motto: "Woman, Nature's blunder, 

She could be heaven, but elects to be 
hell." 

Article IV 

No applicant for membership is eligible who has not 
been divorced and pays alimony. 

Article V 
An applicant having more than one divorce or pay- 



THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 67 

ing more than one alimony, is allowed ten per cent de- 
crease in his initiation fee. 

Article VI 
Members are dropped when alimony ceases. 

Article VII 

Once in every four years members must take them- 
selves, for a period of two months, beyond the sight of 
woman or her presence. 

Among other rules and regulations were 
ones pledging the members to speak freely 
and unreservedly about the abuses of divorce 
and alimony, and to point out, as propaganda, 
the follies, foibles and sins of omission and 
commission of the weaker sex; and demand- 
ing women should be treated as members 
of the human race and not cajoled, petted, 
praised or lied to, because they were women. 
On the fourth anniversary of the club, its 
membership had grown to fifteen hundred, 
with a large waiting list in evidence. The 
time for its original and charter members to 
go beyond the sight of woman for the two 
months' duration was approaching, and, as 



68 THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 

luck would have it, Eben Curlip, the presi- 
dent, discovered that an expedition to the 
Kerguelen Islands was fitting out, and that no 
women were to be permitted. Curlip imme- 
diately opened correspondence with the captain 
of the expedition and obtained passage for the 
five charter members, with a legally drawn con- 
tract stating that five thousand dollars were to 
be forfeited by the captain of the yacht, if, 
through any reason whatever, a woman should 
be with the expedition, and, in turn, the five 
were to pay one thousand dollars each per week 
for passage money. There were to be but 
six passengers, the one beside the club being 
Edward Stoneman. 

On the morning of the departure of the char- 
ter members the entire Alimony Club, except 
those in New Jersey or the Ludlow Street Jail, 
headed by a big brass band, marched proudly 
down Fifth Avenue, wheeled into West Twen- 
ty-third Street, and halted at the dock of the 
Southern Cross. The voyagers, with heads 
erect, mounted the gangway. As the yacht 



THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 69 

slowly glided from her moorings, such inspir- 
ing compositions as, ''With a sense of deep 
emotion I approach this painful case," well 
known as the plaintiff's plea in the ''Trial by 
Jury," or "The time IVe lost in Wooing," or 
"This life is all chequered" filled the air. As 
the yacht was in midstream, her nose pointing 
towards the vasty deep, there came softly over 
the water, "The Girl I Left Behind Me." 



CHAPTER VI 

The Southern Cross was standing well out to 
sea. It was nearing dusk of the first day. 
The six passengers had spent their time profit- 
ably by putting their respective cabins in or- 
der, emptying trunks and placing all kinds of 
clothes for all kinds of conditions that might 
arise during the voyage. 

Six bells sounded, immediately followed by 
the yacht's bugler blowing the mess call — 2l 
signal that projects itself farther and takes 
upon itself a linked sweetness more long drawn 
out than that of any other combination of inter- 
vals — alike aflfecting to the soldier, the sailor, 
the marine or the civilian. It is the only call 
that is accepted at its true worth by the con- 
scientious objector and the unpatriotic slacker. 
There may be in the realm of music measures 

that to the esthetic listener take on more of the 

70 



THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 71 

quality of creative genius ; there may be bugle 
blasts that inspire warriors to rush to battle, 
returning with victory emblazoned on their 
banners; there may be trumpet sounds whose 
soporific intoning lull the tired soldiers to 
slumber deep and pleasant dreams, but, be it 
symphonic poem, descriptive fantasy or orches- 
tral ballad, where is there a prologue that con- 
veys its meaning so clearly, so truthfully, so 
completely, as that tripping, ripping, gripping 
twelve bars of divine melody — the Mess Call ? 

Everybody was hungry after the strenuous 
work of the day. The passengers hurried to 
the wardroom where the captain was already in 
his seat at the round table. The Alimony 
Club's contingent took seats, three on the right 
and two on the left of the captain, and young 
Stoneman occupied a seat almost opposite the 
captain. The first man on the right was An- 
derson, a bibulous member of the Club; next 
him was Barstars, a cold-blooded wretch, who, 
if he had been wounded, would probably have 
trailed more sawdust than blood ; to the left of 



72 THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 

the captain was the scheming Scroggins, who 
had two divorces to his credit. Outside of a 
sepulchral voice, a morose disposition and a 
never-ending carping, he was a negligible 
quantity and harmless. Skaggs, the next ali- 
monist, had had two trials in the divorce court ; 
between Skaggs and Stoneman sat Curlip, 
All these men, save Stoneman, regarded them- 
selves as traduced and unjustly treated crea- 
tures, and were savage in their attacks on the 
justice of the divorce trial judges. Some of 
them had undergone imprisonment rather than 
pay the alimony the courts had assessed them, 
and all bemoaned the fact that woman was a 
heartless, brutal, ever-deceptive member of the 
human family, too sharp, too scheming, too un- 
scrupulous for poor man. Consequently, they 
themselves were victims of woman's duplicity. 
They pretended to hate all women, and at all 
times criticized woman to her disadvantage. 

As the steward brought in the hors d'ceuvres 
the captain spoke. 

"Gentlemen,'' he said, "as we proceed with 



THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 73 

our dinner, I have an explanation to make and 
I trust you will accept it in the proper spirit." 

^'Shoot !'' said Stoneman. 

''There is a woman aboard/* 

"What !'' shouted the six. 

"A woman, gentlemen, and it is on her ac- 
count that I am making this explanation and 
apology.*' 

"Oh, Lord!'' groaned Curlip. "Are we 
never to get away from the sight of a female ?" 

Scroggins protested with upraised arms. 

"Softly, gentlemen, allow me to proceed." 

"And the worst is yet to come," mumbled 
Skaggs. 

"Two days ago," continued the captain, "the 
scientist, a most eminent astronomer, who has 
accompanied me on various tours of explora- 
tion and research and whom I had selected as 
my assistant in the work of recording the re- 
sults of this expedition, became suddenly 
stricken and passed away." 

"How regretful!" said Anderson, sympa- 
thetically. 



74 THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 

"I was/' continued the captain, "absolutely 
at my wits' end to secure another man with 
sufficient knowledge to do the work. While 
pondering over my dilemma, my niece, the 
daughter of my late brother, who, as you know, 
was a famous scientist, came and offered her 



services." 



"Your niece?" asked Barstars, incredu- 
lously. 

"My niece. She had often helped her father 
in his astronomical work and is thoroughly 
equipped as a scientist." 

"How lucky !" Skaggs interjected, sarcastic- 
ally. 

"She knew the importance of this expedi- 
tion and offered her services." The captain 
spoke apologetically. 

"Well!" questioned Skaggs. 

"I told her of my agreement with you, that 
under no circumstances was a woman to be 
allowed aboard, that should a woman come 
aboard I would forfeit five thousand dollars. 
^But,' she said, 'these gentlemen will realize the 



THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 75 

exigencies of the case and, under the circum- 
stances, cannot conscientiously object to my as- 
suming the position/ " 

"But we do !" exclaimed Curlip. 

"We do," bellowed the others in rising anger. 

"Hear me out, gentlemen. She said, 'Surely 
the young men who have come aboard as pas- 
sengers will not have any cause for irritation, 
if I keep entirely away from them during the 
voyage.' " 

Skaggs shook his head in disgust. "What's 
her age, Cap ? That's the kind of guff the old- 
timers hand you." 

"She is not so old as a grandmother, nor so 
young as an infant," said the captain, laugh- 
ing. 

"That means she won't crack under the 
wings, I suppose," said Skaggs. 

I assure you," said the captain seriously, 
she is a quiet, well-behaved woman, caring 
nothing for men's society, engrossed in her 
studies and her work." 

"Nothing coquettish or fluffy about her? 



it 



76 THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 

Some of the old ones, you know, are very kit- 
tenish,*' said Skaggs sardonically, 

''She is not kittenish and she is not coquet- 
tish,'* said the captain, 

"Well, if she is not going to show herself 
and intrude her presence, perhaps we can stand 
it," said Scroggins, in a slightly conciliatory 
mood. 

"That's the rub, gentlemen, and that's what 
I want you to settle. It is painful to me to be 
compelled to banish her from this table. She 
is my brother's daughter, and, while she would 
never utter a word of complaint, I feel that she 
should be allowed to have the run of the ship 
and not be confined to the second cabin and that 
part of the yacht given over to the under offi- 
cers and crew." 

"Why didn't you tell us this before we 
sailed?" growled Curlip. 

"Because I did not know it. She smuggled 
herself aboard and we didn't detect her pres- 
ence until an hour ago." 

"She must be an old hand in the gentle art 



THE TRANSIT OF VENUS ^^ 

of butting in/' offered the sepulchral Scrog- 
gins. 

"I expostulated with her," explained the cap- 
tain. '1 had cabled the president of the Royal 
Astronomical Society at Greenwich and fully 
expect he will send me a capable man. She 
said she didn't intend I should be caught nap- 
ping, and, if I secured an assistant, she would 
leave at the first port." 

"And if you do not secure an assistant?" 
queried Curlip. 

"But I will, gentlemen. I'll go, if necessary, 
to London and find some sort of man." The 
captain, completing his dinner, arose and said, 
"I do not wish to embarrass you, gentlemen, so 
I will leave and allow you to decide whether 
my niece is to be a guest at this table and per- 
mitted the freedom of the boat or remain in the 
forecastle among the crew." 

"Now, gentlemen," said Curlip, when the 
captain had left them, "let us proceed to form 
ourselves into a committee of six and dispose 
of this most disagreeable subject. As tem- 



78 THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 

porary chairman I now call the meeting to or- 
der." 

"Excuse me, gentlemen," said young Stone- 
man, smiling, "if this is an Alimony Club affair, 
I am not eligible." 

"Have you never been divorced?" asked 
Scroggins. 

"Not even married," explained the broker. 

"Well, as man to man, why did you concur 
in insisting on no females aboard ?" 

"It's a long story, gentlemen, but, suffice to 
say, I am not interested in women and never 
intend to marry." 

"Lucky fellow !" chirped Skaggs. "We who 
have suffered and lost congratulate you." 

"As you know," said Curlip, "we are all 
divorced men. To comply with a rule of our 
club, we took passage on this ship, on which we 
expected to be free from the pain of gazing 
on heartless woman. We paid big money for 
this inestimable blessing, and now all our plans 
will go to pot unless we act with decision and 
courage." 




THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 79 

"I move, first of all/' Barstars spoke, "that 
we inform the captain that he has forfeited the 
five thousand dollars/' 

"You've heard the motion, gentlemen. It 
is seconded and carried. The next motion. Is 
this woman to be allowed to sit at our table and 
have the run of the promenkde deck?" 

"Now, Mr. Chairman, before you put the 
question, allow me a word." Stoneman ad- 
dressed his remarks with great earnestness. 
"We should arrive in Plymouth in twelve or 
fourteen days. To banish this woman to the 
forecastle would be an affront to Captain Brad- 
ley." 

"She brought it on herself!" retorted 
Skaggs. 

"Granted, Mr. Skaggs, but I intended to add, 
it's a duty we owe to future generations." 

"How?" * 

"This expedition is for the express purpose 
of giving the world full information regarding 
the transit of Venus. If Venus made a daily, 
weekly, monthly or yearly transit, it would not 



8o THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 

make much difference if an inadequate record 
of one of the events were made ; a few years at 
most would rectify errors/' 

"Are you interested in science ?'' asked Bar- 
stars. 

"Only as an amateur, but, gentlemen, it is 
wise to remember that the next transit after 
the one we hope to view will not take place until 
the year 2004." 

"Then you think we should make a virtue of 
the sacrifice of our comfort, pleasure arid 
money so that science can get the benefit of the 
experience of this miserable blue-stocking?'' 
With a gesture of contempt, Curlip sank back 
in his chair. 

"It is for future generations I speak. If the 
results of this expedition prove more accurate, 
painstaking and efficient than those of any 
other nation, America will hold a higher place 
in the scientific world — " 

"And, I suppose, elect this dame president," 
growled Skaggs. 



K 



THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 8i 

"Have you seen this woman?'' asked Cur lip, 
suspiciously, addressing Stoneman. 

"No, I haven't." 

"You seem almost too much interested for a 
man posing as a women-shunner." 

"That's bosh!" warmly replied Stoneman. 
"If I were interested in women, I certainly 
would not go on this trip." 

"There's something in that," came from An- 
derson conciliatingly. 

"If this expedition fails of its purpose 
through Bradley not having a congenial assist- 
ant, the world loses," continued Stoneman. 

"What's your motion?" Curlip's tone was 
irritable and rasping. 

"It is, that this woman, in the interest of sci- 
ence, and, as the niece of the captain, be al- 
lowed all the privileges accorded us." 

"I am not in favor of that, and it strikes me 
as foolish," Skaggs shouted. 

"One moment," commanded Stoneman. 
"And when we reach Plymouth, if Bradley can- 



82 THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 

not secure a satisfactory assistant, we, under- 
stand, we, leave the yacht and hold Bradley re- 
sponsible for a breach of contract." 

"Our outing will be spoiled through this 
woman," lamented Scroggins. 

"It will be spoiled anyway, if she remain on 
board after the ship leaves Plymouth." 

"Right you are !" exclaimed Anderson. 

"Will you, Mr. Skaggs," asked the chair- 
man, "withdraw your motion and allow me to 
submit Mr. Stoneman's ?" 

Skaggs nodded assent. 

"Gentlemen, you have heard the motion ; is it 
seconded?" 

I second it," came from Anderson. 
All in favor, say 'aye.' " 

"Aye !" came unanimously. 

"Now, I move," said Skaggs, "that the chair- 
man inform the captain of the sense of this 
meeting; of our irrevocable resolve to leave at 
Plymouth if this female remain aboard." 

"It will make him see stars without the use 
of a telescope," Scroggins spoke grimly. 



a- 



THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 83 

"Gentlemen," said Curlip as they arose, "re- 
member the words of the wise old poet, the 
closing line of our ritual, 

"What mighty ills have not been done by woman ! 
Who was't betrayed the Capitol ? — a woman ! 
Who lost Mark Antony the world? — A woman ! 
Who was the cause of a long ten years' war 
And laid at last old Troy in ashes ? — Woman ! 
Destructive, damnable, deceitful woman!" 



CHAPTER VII 

The second day at sea found the five disgrun- 
tled ones airing their grouches in the smoking- 
room. Curiosity had led Curlip to question the 
steward as to the female aboard. Had he seen 
her? The steward had seen a woman, whom 
the captain had yanked out of the hold ; she was 
all bundled up in a red-riding cloak and hood, 
but she might have been the Queen of Sheba 
so far as he could tell. "Female stowaways 
are not unusual going across,'^ he said, "but 
they are apt to disguise themselves as men. 
Many want to go home when they are very old 
so that they can die in the land of their birth." 

"But this woman is a niece of the captain," 
said Curlip. 

"New one on me! Didn't know he had a 
niece," and the steward winked knowingly. 

"Do you think there's something rotten in 

Denmark?" Skaggs whispered. 

84 



THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 85 

"I ain't saying anything one way or the 
other, but sailor men, even when they are cap- 
tains, are uncommonly fond of the petticoats/' 

"But this woman is old." 

"Well, so is the captain !" 

"Is the captain a moral mutineer?" asked 
Anderson, mysteriously. 

"I don't know just the meaning of that, but 
if you mean is he married sub-rosa, I don't say 
he is. But I do know lots of captains are, 
sometimes in four or five different places at 
once. They have one wife that gets the insur- 
ance and the furniture but the rest join in the 
weeping when he goes to Davy Joneses locker. 
There's one real one ; the others are sub-rosas, 
but they don't know it." And the garrulous 
steward continued in this strain while he tid- 
ied up the room. 

"If he has run his wife in on us. Heaven 
help him!" said Curlip. "Here I have been 
dreaming that for three months I could feel 
this is a man's world, with no giggling school 
girls, no designing maids, no simpering spin- 



86 THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 

sters, no caustic old women to remind me I'm 
paying two hundred and twenty-five cold plunks 
a week, because I fell for three of them, t6 say 
nothing of that fourth one I intended making 
Mrs. Curlip, when she threw me down for gold 
—gold— gold!'' 

The bugle-call for dinner sounded, and the 
six passengers entered the wardroom. Cap- 
tain Bradley had been officially informed that 
the woman scientist, due to the fact that she 
was his niece, would be allowed to have her 
meals at the guest table and have the run of 
the ship, but either she or the guests were to 
leave at Plymouth. The captain had accepted 
the inevitable. The sextette, unlike the one in 
"Lucia," was in unison and not given to con- 
flicting emotions. 

"She must go," was the verdict, unanimous 
and without appeal, "or we must go," — that 
was as plain as a pikestaff. 

They stood and talked idle chatter, wait- 
ing for the captain and the intruding fe- 
male. They noted the extra chair at the ta- 



THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 87 

ble, and Skaggs exclaimed, "Good-by, Boccac- 
cio! Good-by, Rabelais! Good-by, Scarron! 
Good-by, spice and repartee ! Good-by, linked 
profanity! Enter, Tass the butter!' *May 
I have the salt?' — silence, gloom, and 
WOMAN." 

"Sunday School stories will be in fashion at 
this table, and the chances are we shall be asked 
not to smoke! Damn women in general, and 
this one in particular," said Barstars. 

The thought of it angered him so, he bit 
his cigarette in two and choked on the tobacco. 

The captain appeared. 

"Gentlemen, will you be seated? My niece 
will be with you in a moment. Before she 
comes I desire to say that I have informed her 
of the conditions, on which you have gra- 
ciously extended an invitation to her to dine at 
your table." 

"Not graciously," said the unforgiving Cur- 
lip. "We have made a virtue of what seems a 
necessity." 

"My niece is aware of that, and, gentlemen. 



88 THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 

should any disagreeable episode arise, such as 
a satirical difference of opinion, hasty or un- 
called-for words, or any action savoring of pre- 
tense, domination, or contempt, a disregard or 
a hysterical outburst of temper on the part of 
your lady guest, I beg of you to overlook it 
and bear in mind that in a week or more we 
shall be at Plymouth." 

"He is paving the way for a holy terror," 
whispered Skaggs to Curlip. 

"Just as soon as we reach Plymouth, I shall 
run up to London, and, as I have friends in the 
Royal Astronomical Society, no doubt I shall be 
able to get a competent assistant and thereby 
not interfere with your plans, gentlemen. I 
want my expedition to be successful. The 
English, French and other nations are sending 
out parties, and naturally, there is a spirit of 
competition. I had hoped that ours would be 
thoroughly and completely American. Every 
human being now on this boat is an American. 
When we send this woman-scientist ashore and 
take on an Englishman in her place, we, of 



Ik 



THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 89 

course, shall lose the chance to say it is an ab- 
solutely American enterprise." 

"That doesn't cut any ice with me/' said Cur- 
lip impatiently. "I'd rather have thugs, pi- 
rates and buccaneers on board than an old 
parchment-dried woman." 

A step was heard at the door. 

"Gentlemen," Captain Bradley waved his 
hand in the direction of the door, "my niece, 
Miranda Bradley." The men arose and faced 
towards her. There stood a young girl, not 
over twenty-two, beautiful in the pose of her 
head, the set of her shoulders; beautiful in the 
chestnut glint of her hair and the quiet gray 
in her eyes; beautiful in the loveliness of her 
complexion, her nose, her mouth, her slender 
figure, her dainty hands and feet. 

The sextette stood popeyed. 

"Very much like a scrawny-necked spinster 
or a battle-ax matron, I'm a-thinking," whis- 
pered the case-hardened Curlip to Skaggs. 
All hands were still popeyed. 

She bowed. 



90 THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 

"She'll A^ant to run the ship, see if she 
won't," continued Curlip, in an undertone to 
Skaggs. "I know the breed!" But still he 
was popeyed. 

"Miranda, sit in that chair." The uncle 
pointed to the one between Curlip and Stone- 
man. Both men made an effort to do the usual 
cavalier courtesies in the manipulation of the 
chair, but the young woman placed herself in 
such a position that Stoneman could not reach 
the chair and the older man very gallantly 
seated the newcomer, forgetting his grouch for 
the moment. 

The dinner proceeded in silence so intense 
that Curlip began to yearn for the sound of 
his own voice. Woman and her ways were 
always a subject of attack for him. He opened 
the conversation with a hope that his machine- 
gun-firing intellect and superior brains would 
settle any hope of friendship or adulation on 
the part of the young thing beside him. Clear- 
ing his throat he said, addressing Miss Brad- 
ley, 



THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 91 

"If a fellow live long enough, he is bound 
to find out all about women, although she likes 
to parade as an enigma." 

"Right you are!" clarionized Anderson, the 
always agreeable. 

"A case in point," continued Curlip, "came 
very forcibly to me. Two years ago I became 
very much worried over the condition of my 
hearing; it suddenly became defective and I 
hastened to an aurist ; he made a thorough ex- 
amination and informed me he could find noth- 
ing amiss in either ear. 

" 'Strange,* I said. 'I know there is some- 
thing wrong.' 

" There may be something wrong,' said the 
doctor, 'but the remedy, perhaps, lies with you. 
Are you married?' 

"I replied that I had been a year previous, 
but that I was now divorced. 

When at home, did you ever find your ear 
growing weary while your wife was talking ?' 

" 'Yes, but not during the last year of our 
married life/ I answered. 



IS r 



it t 



it 
it V 



n 
u i* 



92 THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 

Correct/ said the doctor, 'after the first 
year of your marriage, you suffered from auri- 
cular fatigue, a common ailment with married 
men after the first, fifth and tenth years of 
married life/ 

'I certainly suffered,* I added. 
Then the symptom disappeared?' said the 
eminent practitioner. 

'It did, indeed!" I truthfully replied. 
Then came a period when you found you 
had lost your ability to hear your wife. Is my 
diagnosis correct ?' 
" 'Absolutely.' 

" 'You have a very common affliction.' 
" 'What's the cause of it, doctor ?' I im- 
plored. 

" 'It is superinduced by the limited vocabu- 
lary of your wife.' 

" 'Why, doctor, she could out-talk a parrot !' 
I hastily replied. 

" 'I admit it. She was a woman of few 
words but kept repeating them incessantly. 
Am I right?' 



i( t' 



THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 93 

^Your conclusions are justified by my ex- 
perience/ I cried. The dawn was breaking; 
the light began to come to me. 

" 'Can you remember bits of conversation be- 
fore you went to your office, or on any evening 
previous to your retiring ?' the doctor asked. 

"'Yes, I can recall, "Listen!'^—'! won't 
stand for it !"— "Brute !''— "Why did I marry 
you?'' — "God forgive me!" and a few others of 
that kind.' 

" 'Yes, and after a while they grew fainter 
and you ceased hearing them ?' 

"That's it!' I exclaimed. T recall that 
"That coward!" and "Why don't you answer?" 
lost their insulting force very soon after my 
marriage.' 

" 'You are suffering from lack of concentra- 
tion/ the doctor continued. 'Knowing what 
the moment would bring forth, you didn't allow 
your mind to concentrate on your ears during 
the time your wife talked. I could give you 
the technical term for it, but it isn't neces- 
sary.' " 



94 THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 

''Do you believe that the doctor's views were 
correct?" said Curlip, maliciously addressing 
Miss Bradley. 

"Without a question," answered the young 
lady quietly, and much to Curlip's astonish- 
ment, as he wanted to get a rise out of her. "I 
have been told," she continued, "that a boiler- 
maker becomes oblivious to the sound of his 
riveter ; a denizen of the elevated railroad dis- 
trict has the power to banish the noise. Lack 
of concentration is the analgesic which elimi- 
nates the noises of the world." 

"And a nagging woman is the worst of all, 
isn't she?" asked Curlip, hoping she would 
contradict. 

"Oh, say," said young Stoneman, angrily, 
to Curlip, "it isn't fair to the young lady to 
place her in an embarrassing position. You 
know as well as I do that men are bigger 
babblers than women." 

"I prefer to accept Mr. Curlip's view." 

"Simply because Curlip's doctor put forth 
such nonsense — that all the ills Of mankind 




THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 95 

should be attributed to the gentler sex/' Stone- 
man spoke excitedly. 

'1 do not admit of such a thing as the 
'gentler sex/ " very softly and sweetly. "And 
in this I must again agree with Mr. Curlip. 
Your Lucretia Borgia, your Lady Macbeth, 
your thousands of females with anything but 
gentleness, who have shot, stabbed, poisoned 
their husbands, rivals, lovers make the ad- 
jective *gentle' sound ridiculous." 

"She has a man's mind," said Curlip to 
Skaggs, sotto voce. 

"I know — " expostulated Stoneman. 

"But do you?" came back in icy tones from 
the young lady. 

"Hear me !" said the exasperated Stoneman, 
now suddenly champion of womankind. 
"What do these men know about women? 
All of them have a number of divorces to their 
discredit." 

"Well," said Curlip, "while 'familiarity 
breeds contempt,' 'experience brings knowl- 
edge.' We have loved, suffered and lost. 



96 THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 

You, by your own admission, have never 
loved, have never suffered and have never 
lost." 

"And,'' added Miss Bradley, "a man, by his 
very act of marrying once, twice or even three 
times, shows an appreciation, a r^ard, an af- 
fection, a great love for womankind. This is 
more evident to an observer than the sincerity 
of a man who confesses he never was in love 
and never was engaged, and yet pretends to be 
a champion of womankind." 

Stoneman was speechless for the moment. 

"Your views are rather sensible," said Cur- 
lip, patronizingly, "and show the influence of 
the company of your late father. Captain 
Bradley tells us you were the constant com- 
panion of your father during his lifetime." 

"My father was a very just man and didn't 
defend or condemn anything simply because it 
was expedient or flattering to do so." 

"You must excuse Mr. Stoneman," said 
Skaggs. "He takes the common view that 



THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 97 

woman must have adulation or praise even 
when she is not worthy of the one or merits the 
other." 

"That's one thing that men should learn," 
continued Miss Bradley. "Your silly, kitten- 
ish, doll-faced giggler is ready to swallow bait, 

* 

line, hook and sinker whenever anything is said 
in praise, however untrue or absurd it may be, 
but sensible women — " 

'Are there any?" shouted Skaggs. 
^Of course, there are!" answered Stone- 
man, regaining his speech. 

"That decision might be left to each individ- 
ual," suggested Miss Bradley. 

"Well, now," broke in Anderson, the 
bibulous, "when I married, my wife was the 
most sensible woman one could imagine." 

"Of course she changed," said Stoneman, 
surveying Anderson contemptuously. 

"That's what I was going to say. At first 
we called our home a 'bower of bliss' — " 

"Yes, yes, we know the story," said the im- 



it 



98 THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 

patient Curlip, checking the efforts of Ander- 
son to tell the oft-repeated and threadbare 
narrative of his marital troubles. 

**Very well/' mushily, but with dignity, said 
the bibulous one, gulping the last of his sixth 
highball. 

"I trust I may have the pleasure, at some 
future date, to hear your narrative." Miranda 
smiled in the direction of Anderson. 

"It's a sad, sad story, but worth hearing," 
he added with great effort, at the same time 
beckoning for another highball. 

"I am sure I shall be much interested. Per- 
sonal reminiscences are always of moment/' 
she replied encouragingly. 

"It always seemed to me," said the woman- 
hater Bar stars, "that the female (pardon the 
freedom of the term) is more antagonistic to 
either her own sex or the male, than the. latter 
exhibits to his or the other." 

"Your view cannot be safely controverted," 
said the lady. 

"Why, I know some married women who 



THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 99 

delight in getting the husbands of their friends 
'in Dutch/ " the gloomy Scroggins interposed. 

"Have you ever been duck-hunting?" asked 
Barstars of Miss Bradley. 

"Many, many times !'' 

"Well, then, you have observed the frantic 
joy, the fiendish delight of the female duck de- 
coying to death and destruction her kith and 
kin." 

"I have," answered Miranda. "The ear- 
piercing quack-quack-quack of the female de- 
coy calling down from the air the food-hunting 
ducks is very pronounced — " 

"And the very opposite to the almost in- 
audible quick-quick-quick of the drake," added 
Barstars. 

"The great distance the call of the female is 
heard in contradiction to the soft-spoken drake 
is known to all duck-hunters," said this Diana 
of the marshes. 

"Maybe," protested Stoneman, "the drake 
does not call loudly, because he wants no other 
drake to come down and visit his lady friends. 



100 THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 

You know males of all species are great 
monopolizers/' 

"Mr. Barstars talks from experience,*' said 
Miss Bradley. "He is not conjuring up ideas 
of his own, but gives us the benefit of his ob- 
servations — ^patent to any one who has shot 
ducks over decoys." 

"I'll bet drakes are polygamous," said Ed- 
ward, defiantly. 

"Not so much so as ducks are polyandric," 
retorted Barstars. 

The steward offered cigars. 

Miss Bradley arose. "I will leave you 
gentlemen to your cigars and discussions. I 
thank you for a very pleasant hour. Good 
night." 

"Good night," they answered. 

The captain left almost immediately and the 
six passengers had the dining-room to them- 
selves. 

"Pretty level-headed girl that," said Curlip. 
"She has not been smirched with the baleful 
influence of gossipy, brainless women." 



THE TRANSIT OF VENUS loi 

"That's it! If a woman never met a 
woman, she'd be acceptable!" Skaggs inter- 
jected. 

"It's women that spoil women," added 
Scroggins. 

"You fellows make me tired," retorted 
Stoneman. "I have no doubt that a lot of you 
were married to earthly angels, but you didn't 
know how to treat them. Slavery was their 
lot !" 

"Hear him," said Skaggs sarcastically. 
"This very girl who has just left us agreed 
with us in every particular ; this wise man, this 
Solomon, comes and tells us that we, who have 
been married nine times collectively — that we 
do not know woman." 

"Bah ! I snap my fingers at your champion- 
ship of the so-called 'gentler sex,' " spoke up 
Curlip. 

"Miss Bradley didn't agree with yo" and 
that is good evidence that she, as a sensible 
girl, takes no stock in your opinions." 

"Perhaps not," said Stoneman, shaking his 



102 THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 

head dubiously as they arose and left the 
wardroom for a promenade on the deck. 

"Boys, why did all of us jump to the con- 
clusion that the niece was an old frump?" 
Curlip asked. 

"Because the captain misled us when he said, 
'Gentlemen, there is a woman aboard/ " said 
Stoneman. 

"Was it design?" asked Skaggs. 

"Undoubtedly," Stoneman replied. "It was 
like telling a child you were going to force him 
to take a dose of castor oil and give him a plate 
of ice cream instead." 

The older men left for a game of poker. 
Stoneman paced up and down for an hour. 
Miss Bradley came up the companionway. 
His heart gave a thump — a brand-new, never- 
experienced-bef ore thump. He raised his cap. 

"May I walk with you ?" he asked. 

"I am just about to turn in. Good night!" 
And she was gone. The thumping continued. 



CHAPTER VIII 

The hyphen is the marriage license of 
punctuation. Without it, names, titles and 
conditions lose grandeur, awe or distinction. 
Mrs. John James Gregar-Gregory sounds; 
Captain-General William Charles Jones-Smith 
sounds ; pleuro-pneumonia sounds. 

Historically paved avenues of the Past show 
vistas of its illuminating use. For 

"When Britain first at Heaven's command 
Arose from out the azure main," 

the gentle inhabitant of that tight little island 
was a Briton, pure and simple. Immigration 
anfl the hyphen obtruded and we find Roman- 
Britons, Norman-Britons, Anglo-Britons, 
Jute-Britons, Saxon-Britons; but Time has 
swallowed adjective and hyphen, and to-day 

from John o' Groat's to Land's End, a subject 

J03 



104 THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 

of the realm in England and Scotland is a 
Briton. 

So with Spain, with its Iberians, its Sara- 
cens, its Andalusians, its Biscayans of yester- 
day ; the native of that land of romance, when 
he speaks of himself and his nationality, says, 
*'I am a Spaniard/' The hyphen gradually 
outlived its use in the Old World, but has be- 
come much in evidence in our land of the free 
and home of the brave. 

That compendium of useful knowledge, the 
telephone directory, tells us that in our midst 
we have German-Americans, Irish-Americans, 
Italian-Americans, and so on ad infinitum. 
Of course, we know the term is a figment of 
the imagination. It suggests, "One could be 
happy with either were t'other dear charmer 
away," an impracticable dual patriotism, a 
hidebound grouping — and a fable: 

Once upon a time the Lions set up a republic 
and invited the oppressed of other lands to 
come and make it their home. And the Fox, 
and the Tiger, and the Lynx, and the Elephant, 



THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 105 

and the Rabbit, and the Mouse and other ani- 
mals came. Some came for one whim, some 
for another, but, all to improve their condition, 
and as they never returned to the land of their 
birth, it is reasonable to suppose that they ac- 
complished their hearts' desire. When they 
arrived the Lions said, "Of course, you want 
to be absorbed and digested by us?" "I'd 
rather not," said the Fox. "I understand poli- 
tics is your national game, and I'm a politician 
and there are many of my race coming here, 
therefore, I prefer to be known as a Fox-Lion." 
"And for the same reason, I as a Tiger-Lion." 
"And I as a Rabbit-Lion." "And I as a 
Mouse-Lion." "And I as an Elephant-Lion." 
And so it was. And they prospered in the 
land of liberty, married and begat. 

And it came to pass that Fox-Lion became 
politically dead, and he said to his children, 
"Remember you are of the Fox-breed." And 
his children raised their voices as one and 
shouted, "Not on your life! We are Lions." 
And so spoke the sons and daughters of the 



io6 THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 

Tiger-Lions and Elephant-Lions and the rest. 
And the hyphen passed from the land never to 
return, and they lived happy ever afterwards. 
The hyphen, apart from mixing up in 
national affairs, is also an internationalist, and 
assumes a fatherly interest in that universal 
object — Self. The hyphen has wedded to 
those four letters more vocables than Solomon 
had wives. It is gratifying to have one's judg- 
ment confirmed, and, therefore, a view and 
definition from another is acceptable. "In 
order to be able to enjoy all the happiness of 
which his present state is capable," expounds 
the philosopher, "the sensitive part of man 
needs to be combined with another, which, 
upon a comparison of the present with the 
future, shall impel him towards that mode 
either of gratification or of self-denial which 
shall most promote his happiness upon the 
whole. Such is self-love. We give this name 
to that part of our constitution by which we 
are incited to do or to forbear, to gratify or 
deny our desires, simply on the ground of ob- 



THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 107 

taining the greatest amount of happiness for 
ourselves, taking into view a limited future or 
else our entire future existence. When we act 
from simple respect to present gratifications, 
we act from passion. When we act from a 
respect to our whole individual happiness, with- 
out regard to the present, only as a part of the 
whole, and without any regard to the happi- 
ness of others, only as it will contribute to 
our own, we are then said to act from self- 
love." 

Curlip was saturated with self-love. There- 
fore, nothing could withstand his blandish- 
ments, and he believed any and every woman 
was only too anxious to confide heart and hand 
into his keeping. He believed that he was ir- 
resistible and all-conquering ; all this was ever- 
patent to him. 

Miranda had made a deep impression on this 
much-married would-be wooer. She had 
flattered his vanity by acquiescence in all his 
views, had fed his ego by snubbing the young 
man of the party, inflated his pomp by dis- 



io8 THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 

criminating interest in his utterances. "She 
was made to woo," he said, "therefore she 
must be won." 

Curlip was impulsive in devising methods, 
cautious in consummation. Most men of 
fifty are. They are apt to live in anticipation 
and prolong the realization of their dreams. 
Much like a boy with his first cigar, he wants 
it, but hesitates to light it, not knowing whether 
it will 'give him joy or cause him nausea. 

Like all adepts he formulated plans: first, 
to establish congeniality, then sympathy, then 
pity, then love, then victory. 

At six he was up; at seven on deck; as he 
promenaded, his eyes ever and anon sought the 
companionway. At every turn he invoked the 
favor of the gods. At last he was rewarded. 

"Good morning," said the suddenly gallant 
Curlip. 

"Good morning," came the cheerful re- 
sponse. 

"I came on deck earlier than was my inten- 
tion," said the man, "because I desire to make 




THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 109 

an explanation regarding our conversation 
last night/' 

"About what?'' 

"My attitude towards women." 

"Oh, I think your attitude is justified by ex- 
perience." 

"Yes, no doubt it is, but the rules and regula- 
tions of the Alimony Club, of which you no 
doubt have heard, make it imperative that we 
should discuss women/' this most apologetic- 
ally. 

"Oh, yes, uncle told me about it — ^that you 
were their honored president; that you, poor 
man, had been divorced four times." 

"Three," he quickly corrected. 

"I beg pardon, I thought uncle said four, 
but, whatever the number, I have no doubt 
you were justified in the course you pur- 
sued." 

"Undoubtedly. What I wish to impress on 
your mind is that there is no rule in the Ali- 
mony Club preventing any member from 
marrying again." 



no THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 

"Does any member ever take advantage of 
that rule ?" Miranda asked, innocently. 

"Oh, yes, when they meet a woman like — *' 

"I am surprised," she interrupted, with a 
vigorous shake of her head. "I should as soon 
expect a condemned prisoner, after escaping 
one gallows, rushing to another and putting his 
head in the noose.'* 

"Some women make you forget the short- 
comings of others of their sex. I scarcely 
slept last night perturbed with the thought 
that maybe you had imbibed the idea that I 
am a woman-hater, and saw no virtue in the 



sex." 



"On the contrary, the man who marries three 
times must have an unlimited reservoir of love 
in his make-up, and a faith in womankind, 
overwhelming in its simplicity. 

"That's it. IVe never heard it so well ex- 
pressed, but that's the idea." 

"Don't you think we had better go to break- 
fast? I have lots of work," said Miranda, 
walking towards the companionway. ' 



THE TRANSIT OF VENUS in 

"May I see you often ?" he asked. 

"On deck any morning at seven and any 
evening at six, if you like," and together they 
entered the breakfast-room. 

As they concluded their meal, Stoneman en- 
tered. "What hour do you usually break- 
fast?'' he asked Miss Bradley. 

"Seven-thirty. That's my intention while 
on this voyage." 

"That's a fine hour for breakfast ! I believe 
I will adopt that time myself." 

Curlip scowled. 

"I am sure Mr. Curlip and myself will enjoy 
your company." 

"Yes, Miss Bradley and myself have con- 
cluded seven-thirty is the proper hour for 
breakfast." 

"Besides, Mr. Curlip and myself are fond of 
discussing matters of both public and private 
interest — " 

"Which," said Curlip, with a sneer, "I opine 

Hi 

will riot be of interest to you." 

"Oh; I don't know! An intellectual giant 



112 THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 

like yourself would be highly entertaining and 
instructive to a young man yearning for the 
light/' 

"He's slightly sarcastic, don't you think, 
Mr. Curlip?" 

"Forget it. These seekers for the light are 
naturally in the dark and grope for rejoinders," 
said Curlip, contemptuously. 

"If he fails to keep his temper, we can banish 
him from the table," proposed Miranda, laugh- 
ingly. 

I shall behave, don't fear," said Stoneman. 
Breakfast is an important meal with me, and, 
coupled with Curlip's wisdom, will become ab- 
solutely fascinating." 

Miss Bradley and Curlip arose. As they 
departed, Scroggins, Skaggs, Anderson and 
Barstars appeared, and ordered breakfast. 

Evidently they had observed Curlip's atten- 
tion to Miranda and showed signs of jealousy. 

"For a president of the Alimony Club, Cur- 
lip's rather rushing things, don't you think?" 
Scroggins questioned. 






THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 113 

"It's absolutely indecent. Scarcely beyond 
the portals of the clubhouse, he ignores the pur- 
pose of his presence on this expedition, throws 
to the winds his high resolves and sets a per- 
nicious example to his fellow-clubmen/' ex- 
pounded the observant Barstars. 

"And/' continued the vacillating Anderson, 
"to keep us steadfast in our resolutions we 
need the guiding mind of one not harboring a 
weakness for the cajoleries of womankind." 

"Cajoleries of women, be hanged," exclaimed 
Stoneman. "I'll wager my existence Curlip 
pesters Miss Bradley with his intentions." 

"If that be true our president's conduct is 
alike reprehensible and disgusting," and the 
sepulchral Scroggins gravely shook his head. 

"You fellows make me tired," said Stone- 
man. "You rant and roar about woman, but 
I'll bet every kiss you ever got you had to steal 
or buy." 

"Sir, you're insulting!" exclaimed Scrog- 
gins. 

"No, I'm not, I'm only truthful. My experi- 



114 THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 

ence has been that the fellow who rails against 
woman, indulges in the cry of sour grapes." 

"Hear him, oh, Lord, hear him!" groaned 
Skaggs, assuming an attitude of supplication. 

"The actions of your president give you 
away. The condition of the head of a fish 
presages that of the body.'' 

"That means we are malodorous?" 

"It means, according to my view, that you 
and your president are a bunch of self-elected 
Irresistibles, and notwithstanding your sup- 
posed indifference to woman, you are so eager 
to be with them, that you can locate the sound 
of a rustling petticoat, at midnight, with no 
moon in the sky." 

"Strong language, brother," said Barstars. 

"Miss Bradley agreed with you last night 
at dinner because she believed you in earnest." 
Stoneman looked at them and snapped his 
fingers in derision. 

"We are," shouted the four. 

"Rot!" said Stoneman, as he left the table. 



CHAPTER IX' 

Miss Bradley sat in her uncle's chair at the 
table. After the five ex-husbands sat down, 
she explained that her uncle was checking up 
names from the membership booking of the 
Royal Astronomical Society, getting a line on 
a scientist to take her place, and, therefore, 
would not be at dinner. 

"Captain Bradley has asked me to act as 
hostess, gentlemen, and therefore I am usurp- 
ing his chair. If I become naughty, send me 
to the nursery.'' 

"Where's Stoneman?'' asked Curlip. 

"Oh, he's helping uncle, and they're going to 
have a 'snack' in the pilot-house when they get 
through their work." 

"I think we shall not miss him so much ; his 
absence will not cause any heartaches," volun- 
teered Curlip. 

"He is certainly not in accord with your 

IIS 



ii6 THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 

opinions of women. He seems to know little 
or nothing about the sex in comparison with 
the great experience you gentlemen have had/' 
said Miranda, with a faint smile. 

"Oh, the young fellow means well, but he 
doesn't know,'' and Scroggins dismissed the 
subject with a wave of his hand. 

"Of course, gentlemen, we must either live 
and learn or read and ponder. You have lived, 
learned, and no doubt suffered. You can im- 
agine how interesting it must be to one who 
has not tasted either the sweets or the bitters 
of matrimony to hear your vivifying stories of 
that most earnest event — " 

"Events, begging your pardon," said Skaggs. 
"The five of us have a total of nine.'* 

"Which is going it some!" said Curlip 
proudly. "As you know," he continued, "I 
have been married three times — " 

"A glutton for punishment," interposed 
Scroggins. 

"I have often thought how interesting must 
be the story of the divorced, — interesting to 



THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 117 

know when came the first rift in the lute/' said 
Miranda. 

"It usually starts/' said Scroggins, shaking 
his head sorrowfully, "with harping on a thou- 
sand strings." 

"And here you are, gentlemen, five men with 
nine divorces to your credit. Suppose you be 
the story-telling Scheherazade.'' 

"And I'll be the listening Schahriar, and 
we'll call it an Atlantic Day's Entertainment." 

"Are you agreed, gentlemen ?" asked Curlip, 
who would rather talk about himself than eat. 
We are !" loudly responded the others. 
Now, gentlemen, I am all ears and sym- 
pathy. Who opens the entertainment ?" 

"Curlip/' said Skaggs and Scroggins. 

"Oh, splendid, splendid !" Miranda clapped 
her hands in girlish glee. 

"You start the ball, Curlip, but don't make it 
a thousand and one nights' tale, as the rest of 
us want to get a chance before the trip's over," 
and Scroggins settled himself to hear the presi- 
dent's oft-repeated matrimonial experiences. 






ii8 THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 

'^Understand, this story is for private circu- 
lation only," and this self-satisfied man of 
fifty, double-chinned, of florid complexion, 
straggling blonde hair, heavy-eyed, stood, look- 
ing about, much as a conductor of an orchestra 
just before launching it into sound. All were 
attention. 

"Even as a little boy," he began, "I showed 
that love and sympathy for the female that has 
been so conspicuous in my character, although 
sadly shaken lately. When I was not above 
ten, I recall a visit to neighbors. The lady in- 
structed her little daughter to get some apples. 
The child returned from the pantry, bearing 
on a plate a solitary one, and said to her 
mother, while eyeing the fruit with great in- 
terest, 'Mamma, there's but one apple/ which I 
immediately took, whereupon she cried as if 
her heart would break. All in sympathy, I 
went to her and said, 'There, little girl, don't 
cry ! rU try to get along with one until I get 
home.' The poor little dear's heart was break- 
ing, doubtless because there was but one apple 



^ 



THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 119 

to offer me. Her tears were most pitiful to 
behold. 

"In my school days how well I remember my 
consideration for those who had no umbrellas ! 
I always carried one to school. Whenever it 
rained, I did not show a parsimonious spirit by 
using it alone, or a spirit of favoritism by se- 
lecting some one school girl to share it with 
me, but, in the goodness of my heart, I would 
invite two girls to partake of its shelter, and I, 
walking between them, would carry the um- 
brella. It is true the girls would get soaked, 
but that was owing to the lack of circumfer- 
ence of the umbrella and not through any fault 
of the girls. 

"Later on I became a great patron of the 
drama, and would often take a young lady with 
me to witness the play. As distance lends en- 
chantment to the view, I always bought seats 
in the gallery, and, of course, brought my 
opera glasses. I knew how fatiguing it was to 
hold glasses to your eyes for any length of 
time, and so, to save my lovely companion, I 



120 THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 

always retained them, looking through them 
and explaining just how every one and every- 
thing looked on the stage. I can even now re- 
member how my fair escort would offer to 
share the burden of my efforts and how I 
would save her the trouble. I never sent a 
collar or shirt or pair of pajamas back to the 
laundress on account of not being properly 
washed but my heart bled for the poor working 
woman who would have to wash them without 
compensation, all on account of a miserable 
quality of soap, or water. It saddens me even 
now to contemplate it. Finally, I married. In 
the first days, even if I had suggested it, I 
doubt if ny wife would have allowed me to 
bring up the coal from the cellar or the kindling 
wood, or lock out the cat, or ventilate the room, 
or turn off the light, or the thousand and one 
little things which she so gladly did. I am 
sorry now I didn't offer to do these things, just 
to see how she would act. I recall on an oc- 
casion after she had finished the autumn house* 



THE TRA'NSIX OF VENUS 121 

cleaning, had put up enough preserves for the 
winter, had mended my linen, I, returning 
hungry and tired from a baseball game, found 
her on her knees praying and caught a fervent 
'Oh, Lord, how long, how long?' I tiptoed out 
of the room unobserved. No doubt she was 
unhappy at my absence and was invoking Di- 
vine interposition. The thought was consoling 
to me, for, to paraphrase. This matron she 
lived with no other thought than to love and be 
loved by me.' 

"But the serpent came. One night at a 
party she rushed to me, and with pride beaming 
from her beautiful eyes, and exultation in her 
voice, she said, 'Eben, I've got a trade-last for 
you.' 

" 'Yes,' I said; 'dear, let me hear it' 
" 'Did you notice that magnificent blonde that 
sat next to me at the supper?' I assented. 
'She says that to her you are the grandest man 
she has ever seen, and I'm so proud of you, 
Eben, more so because it comes from such a 



122 THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 

beautiful girl as Molly Donnelly. It confirms 
my judgment of you, Eben, even if I am just a 
plain little woman/ 

"Well, a fellow would be mighty small if he 
didn't hunt up the young lady and thank her 
for her compliments. She certainly was a 
good-looker and I was touched immediately. I 
found myself, as I believed, the first time really 
in love. The fairest and most proper thing 
for a man to do under those conditions is im- 
mediately to go to his wife and tell her of his 
passion. She, poor thing, at my suggestion 
returned to her father's home, and he being an 
unfeeling wretch engaged a lawyer, entered 
suit against me for cruel and unusual anguish 
of mind and I am now paying Number One fifty 
dollars per week. My only solace at the time 
was that I married Molly. The trouble with 
Molly was that she had the fifty-fifty bee in her 
bonnet. If I stayed out until five in the morn- 
ing, Molly would stay out until five the next 
morning. If I carried on a harmless little 
flirtation, she immediately would start one 



THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 123 

equally harmless, but exceedingly disquieting 
to me. In fact, in all her actions she tried to 
imitate me. She admired my methods, even 
though I didn't approve of hers, but one day I 
met my soul's idol. She was diminutive, 
sparkling and a brunette. She was wonder- 
fully attractive, an entirely different style from 
Molly, who was built more on the Venus de 
Milo order, and I found myself, as I believed 
before, for the first time really in love. I im- 
mediately, as I am the fairest sort of a man, 
communicated that most portentous fact to my 
wife, who said. Tunny, but IVe got some one 
on the string too.' 

** 'Horrors !' I exclaimed, burning with in- 
dignation. 

" 'You weary me !' she replied. The best 
way to settle this,' said this cold-blooded blonde, 
'is for you to pay my carfare to that oasis in 
the Western desert where the thirsty are re- 
freshed into single blessedness.' 

" 'What charge can you make against me ?' 
I asked. 



124 THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 



(( ti 



'Oh, rU just take your usual family charge 
of cruel and unusual anguish of mind/ 

"She got a divorce and seventy-five dollars 
per week. I wasn't much concerned at the 
moment over the size of the alimony because I 
expected she would marry immediately and 
thereby lose it — ^but I am constrained to believe 
that she hasn't found a man yet worth the 
sacrifice of seventy-five per week; therefore, 
she is still single. The one I felt was my 
soul's idol was a lallapaloosa, if there ever was 
one. She loved me with a devotion that was 
beautiful in its single-heartedness, but it wolild 
assert itself in the strangest ways. If I hap- 
pened to say that money was filthy lucre, she 
would go out and spend it like a drunken sailor, 
and then, when I would expostulate, she would 
put her beautiful arms about my neck and say, 
'Honey dear, we don't want anything filthy 
around us, not even lucre.' She was the most 
impracticable woman I ever met, and finally I 
could stand it no longer. One evening we 
went to a recital given by a new singer. When 



THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 125 

she appeared and sang *Ah fors e lui' I was 
enthralled; for days after I could not banish 
my thoughts of her. My wife noticed my 
absent-mindedness and asked the reason. I, 
truthful to a fault, told her. 

" 'You mean that broad-beamed girl' — ^ray 
wife came of a nautical family — 'that acted like 
a turkey on a griddle when she sang ?' 

"While I wouldn't admit the description, I 
felt that she remembered the party. 

" 'If you want her/ continued my wife, 'she'll 
just cost you a hundred and twenty-five plunks 
per week. Just as soon as you make up your 
mind, let me know,' and out of the room she 
flounced, sought a lawyer and in a more than 
reasonable time she got her hundred and 
twenty-five on the ground of cruel and unusual 
anguish of mind. I sought out the fair singer. 
Her interest in me grew with the day. I asked 
her hand. She referred me to her mother. 
Her mother said, 'Yes, Nancy will marry you, 
but reserves the right to change her mind.' 
Knowing how impossible it is for any woman to 



126 THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 

alter her loving intention towards me, I ac- 
quiesced. Five nights later, I called with the 
engagement ring. I was met by the mother 
who said her daughter had a sick headache and 
could not be seen that night, but she left the 
matter in her hands, and she regretted exceed- 
ingly that Nancy would have to be released 
from her engagement. Of course, I could do 
naught but agree, and heaped execrations on 
the heartless mother, who no doubt bull-dozed 
the unhappy daughter into rejecting me." 

**What did you do with the engagement 
ring ?" asked the practical Skaggs. 

"I carry it ever with me as a reminder of 
the deceit and duplicity of women — that is, one 
woman," hastily corrected Curlip. 

**Wise old guy !" Skaggs murmured. 

"Next!" And Miranda turned to Ander- 
son. 

"Now, comrade, tell your story, confine it to 
short chapters and shorter words," Skaggs 
admonished. 

"Let me think," came from the bibulous one. 



THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 127 

"That process, if successful, presages 
novelty," maliciously came from Curlip. 

"May I ask, Mr. Anderson, how many times 
you have been married and divorced?'* 

"Only once married and once too often 
divorced," and Anderson spoke sorrowfully. 

"Was she tall or petite, blonde or brunette ?" 
asked Miranda with much interest. 

"She was a beauty — a long-suffering beauty. 
She was made to love. Her only fault lay in 
her inability to distinguish." 

"Was she color blind?" asked Miranda. 

"No, she was, as her lawyer explained at the 
trial, inefficiently equipped to perceive the 
various odoriferous effluvia." 
'Come again," shouted Barstars. 
To elucidate, her sense of smell was unre- 
liable. I shall never forget the scene that 
sounded the death knell of our happiness," and 
Anderson brushed away a tear. 

"Go on, I am deeply concerned," Miranda 
pleaded. 

"I came home. It was about four a. m. I 



"I 



12S THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 

had attended a party, a convivial party. I 
might say, in all truth, a very convivial party." 

"There's nothing extraordinary in that, Tm 
told," said the young lady. 

"No; but she was waiting for me." 

"As good wives do," Miranda added approv- 
ingly. 

"But she was angry. Looking at me with 
scorn in her eyes, she exclaimed, *I am dis- 
gusted with you !' 

I said, 'Softly, my darling!' 
I don't believe you have drawn a sober 
breath since you were born !' she cried. 

" 'Softly, my darling,' I said. 

" 'Ugh !' she said as I approached her. 'Go 
away, you smell like a brewery.' 

" 'Stop !' I commanded, drawing myself erect 
and grasping the bed post to make my words 
more impressive. 'Stop ! I repeat. Woman, I 
will not be insulted. I do not smell like a 
brewery. Charge me with the odors of the 
distillery, if it pleases, or the bouquet of the 
wine press, but withdraw the brewery.' 









THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 129 

TU withdraw nothing!' she cried. 
^You will withdraw the brewery/ I said 
slowly, *or withdraw yourself/ I was deter- 
mined to be master in my own house. Being 
self-opinionated, she left me. The lawyer 
claimed she was driven from home and I have 
been miserable ever since the divorce.*' 

*'Your divorce shows the need of higher edu- 
cation of women,'' said Miranda, with a smile. 
'*Had she known the difference between the 
aromas of the brewery, the pungency of the 
distillery, or the bouquet of the wine press, 
mayhap you never would have parted. 
Gentlemen, I leave you to your cordials and 
cigars." 

As they arose and she was preparing to 
leave, she turned to Mr. Skaggs and said, 
**May I have the pleasure of a promenade with 
you and a recital of your marital experiences ?" 

"When would you like to hear me ?" he asked. 

"To-morrow morning at seven." 

"He'll be there with bells on," assured 
Curlip. 



CHAPTER X 

The visionary gentlemen of the old school 
who contended *'that the days were for rest 
and the nights for sleep" advanced a theorem, 
which is exceedingly difficult of attainment ex- 
cept by the idle rich and the equally idle poor, 
and presents a picture of calmness and inertia 
grateful to a tired world. Multi-millionaires 
and hoboes — mostly the latter — ^are the only 
ones who can indulge themselves in such a 
motto. The ability to rest is almost universal 
— the ability to sleep exceptional. One might 
wonder whether sleep is a natural condition of 
man; one might ask if in the first days man 
knew aught of "Nature's sweet restorer, balmy 
sleep." One might fittingly repeat Sancho 
Panza's prayer, "Now blessings light on him 
that first invented this same sleep." In the be- 
ginning eternal vigilance was the price of 

liberty and life, and relaxation must have been 

13b 



THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 131 

indulged in a sort of Cyclopean attitude. A 
careless caveman, wandering about brandishing 
a stone shillalah, would not consider that day 
lost, if he tapped a cranium or two, and the 
constant proximity of the various members of 
the mastodonic family would keep the minds 
of the original dwellers of our globe in a state 
of apprehension, to say the least. 

As time proceeded some one must have in- 
vented unconscious repose and from the inven- 
tion of the one, it became the habit of the many, 
and from the habit of the many, it became the 
instinct of all. It is too much to say that sleep 
is an original demand of Nature; if Nature 
really did start it, she should have, with equal 
consideration for the animal species, given 
hours of rest also to the heart and other organs 
of the body, which, as we know, she keeps per- 
petually on the job from birth to death. 

The historians of the Bible are very minute 
and painstaking in their enumerations of what 
God did at the beginning, but the first mention 
of sleep, is "And the Lord God caused a deep 



132 THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 

sleep to fall upon Adam and he slept/* Adam 
must have grown to manhood before the ex- 
traction of the rib and it may have been that 
the Lord gave him an anaesthetic which after 
all is but a forced sleep. If it had been left to 
Adam, he might have objected to losing a rib to 
make a woman. 

Montaigne, in one of his essays, advances the 
thought, "Peradventure the faculty of sleeping 
would seem useless and contrary to nature be- 
ing it deprived us of attraction and sense," but 
he thinks it was given us to acquaint us with 
death. I fail to see why a smiling beneficent 
God should put us on earth to remind us daily 
that we are to die. He does not insist on our 
daily remembering our coming; why then, 
should we remember our going ? 

It would seem that the instinct of sleep 
weakens with age — the sixteen hours of the 
infant becomes the six hours of the average 
adult. Environment again enters into the pro- 
cess. It has been said that the country lad re- 
quires more sleep than a boy of the city. Many 



THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 133 

notable characters considered six hours of sleep 
unnecessary. The hero of Waterloo bore the 
reputation of never turning in bed except to 
arise, and our own Edison takes but four hours 
of repose, it is said. A famous Civil War gen- 
eral is credited with the statement that "in 
actions, demanding loss of sleep on the part 
of the soldier, city men are preferred to country 
men; for the city man, living in an environ- 
ment of irregular life, is better able to cope 
with unusual conditions than the more set-by- 
rule man from the farm." 

Still, conscience, pride, business, have much 
to do with the habit. How we remember, on 
returning from a late supper, finding ourselves 
tossing about sleepless and unhappy, all because 
we could not banish the remembrance of an 
asinine utterance, which we were sure would 
be circulated to our everlasting damnation. 

Skaggs, who prided himself on his judicial 
acumen on any subject under the sun, made it a 
rule to prepare a "paper" in the manner of a 
law school student, so instead of invoking the 



134 THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 

companionship of Morpheus, he had sat up the 
greater part of the night preparing the story 
of his matrimonial experiences. He was wide 
awake when he joined Miranda on the 
promenade deck. He bowed with the gravity 
of that kind of gentleman whose politeness be- 
gins when he takes off his hat and ends when 
he puts it on. He had rehearsed his opening 
sentence, and therefore, placing his hand and 
his hat over his heart, he began, "Madame, 
Alonzo Skaggs, age forty-nine, strong-jawed, 
hair iron-gray, rather high cheek bones, small 
nose, fairly tall,, at your service." 

Miranda, falling into the by-play, made a 
deep curtsey and intoned, "Sir, Miranda 
Bradley, age twenty-two, anticipating much 
pleasure and instruction from your narrative, 
am yours to command." 

"Of my first marriage there is little to say. 
The woman eloped and I secured a divorce and 
she went rapidly out of my life. My second 
marriage was the one that made me eligible for 
the Alimony Club. 



THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 135 

"I married one of twin sisters of a family in 
very ordinary circumstances, the father earn- 
ing a most precarious living, the family plug- 
ging along in genteel poverty. One sister mar- 
ried a young laborer, who, after a year or so of 
married life, took very ardently to drink, which 
in turn made him quarrelsome and pugnacious 
and, on coming home at any hour of the night, 
he would proceed, after a few words, to blows, 
and in consequence his wife often sported a 
pair of blackened eyes. She refused to stand 
this abuse and finally applied for a divorce 
which was granted and she received as alimony 
eight dollars per week, a sum greater than that 
she received in food, clothing, and lodging 
while she was a single girl at her father's 
house. Under these conditions she was really 
better off than she had been as a single girl or 
a married woman. I married the sister. I 
was the important banker of the town where 
we married. Our union had not been blessed 
with children and my wife, having lots of time 
on her hands, cultivated ideas of extravagance, 



136 THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 

which first brought mild protests from me, and 
finally grew to violent scenes between us. In 
one of these scenes, my wife taunted me to 
desperation, telling me that sh,e hated and de- 
spised me and only married me for my money. 
In a paroxysm of anger I grabbed her arm, 
which caused her to scream and leave the house 
hurriedly. She sued me for inhuman and 
brutal treatment, was granted her freedom and 
alimony of one hundred dollars per week. 
While I did not object to the divorce, I did 
object to the size of the alimony, but the learned 
judge who sat on the case repeated an old saw, 



<« « 



No man e'er felt the halter draw 
With good opinion of the law.' 

"To which in disgust I answered in the words 
of Macklin, 



« i' 



The law is a sort of hocus-pocus science that 
smiles in your face while it picks your pocket.' 

"As I was my own counsel, I said to the 
court, T consider the findings absurd,' and the 
only satisfaction I got f rgm the judge was that 



THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 137 

I should be glad my ex-wife hadn't been given 
a larger amount of alimony. Now to me the 
absurdity is this. Here were two sisters, 
twins, both born in the same environment, both 
with the same education, both with the same 
disposition. One married and divorced, re- 
ceiving eight dollars per week, the other mar- 
ried and divorced, receiving one hundred dol- 
lars per week. The court evidently made the 
ruling according to the value of the husband, 
instead of the value of the wife. Either both 
wives should have received eight dollars per 
week or one hundred dollars per week. Both 
these girls came from a family where it was 
only possible to spend on themselves eight dol- 
lars or less per week. I cannot see why one 
should receive ninety-two dollars more than the 
other, When both were in the same capacity — 



wives." 



As Skaggs finished, Scroggins joined them 
and the three went in to breakfast. They had 
the table to themselves. 

I've just heard Mr. Skaggs' thesis on the 



«T». 



138 THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 

value of women as wives. It would appear 
that if the future woman wants to marry at all, 
she will have to unionize herself/' 

"And be insured according to her original 
standing in society/' said Skaggs, growling to 
himself. 

Scroggins rapped for attention and said, 
"This is where I tell my heart stories." 

"No better time than the present," said the 
amiable young lady. 

"Well, if you insist, I will give the narrative 
without any varnish." He struck an attitude. 
This man, fully six feet two, lean as a lath, 
with hair and mustache of an indefinable color, 
with stooping shoulders, blinking eyes, long 
arms and an Adam's apple that seemed to work 
on a ball-bearing action, bent forward and 
rested his elbows on the table. His voice came 
from his boots. 

"As a business man," he began, "I will say 
in all modesty that I have been very successful. 
On a visit to Dallas, I met a woman who be- 
came my first and second wife, and the experi- 



THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 139 

ences of my married life started there. My 
work was such that I was forced to be away 
from her much of the time after we were 
married." 

"Most trying for both of you, I should im- 
agine/* Miranda suggested. 

"I was interested in a number of oil fields in 
the Southwest, and my success financially was 
very great, and placed me, in a comparatively 
short time, on Easy Street. My wife re- 
ligiously read the Sunday New York letter in 
the local paper and began to dream of that fairy 
land, bordering on the curbstones of Broad- 
way, an4 finally persuaded me to move to the 
metropolis, where we secured a small but at- 
tractive house on Riverside Drive. What with 
theaters, operas, dinners and a hundred and 
one kinds of amusements one finds in New 
York, life took on a roseate hue. 

"One day we received letters from our re- 
spective mothers intimating it would please 
them if we should extend an invitation to visit 
us. As they had never met, the prospect of 



140 THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 

having both at the house at the same time 
seemed so pleasant that we telegraphed our 
pleasure if they would join us immediately." 

"Fatal mistake/' growled Curlip. 

"Yes, fatal and foolish.'* 

"When the ladies arrived, happiness flew out 
of the window," hazarded Curlip. 

"My mother, a lady of determination and 
experience, asstmied charge of the house." 

"A kindly action, I should think, when it is 
considered how extremely difficult it is to se- 
cure efficient housekeepers in these days," sym- 
pathetically added Miss Bradley. 

"My mother knew the dishes I was fond of 
and prepared her first dinner entirely in keep- 
ing with that knowledge." 

"And then ?" asked the lady. 

"Our troubles began. The first dish served 
was a thick soup of which I am inordinately 
fond. My wife's mother said, 'Excuse me, 
dear, but you do not intend to devour that 
stuff? It is not within the province of a 






THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 141 

gentleman to busy himself with a thick soup/ 
Why not?' snapped back my parent. 
Why, a gentleman's soup is always thin/ 
said my mother-in-law. 

"My son is a gentleman/ retorted my mother, 
her anger rising. 

" 1 hope so/ cried my mother-in-law, *but it 
would be difficult to prove it, if he were seen by 
a gentleman at the present moment.' 

" 1 had finished the plate by this time and 
offered it for a second helping.' 

"My mother-in-law spoke again. The 
province of soup is to stimulate the gastric 
juices and prepare the stomach for the solid 
food that follows. It is the act of a gourmand, 
if you will excuse me, to ask for a second help- 
ing of soup; a gourmet would never dream of 
doing such a thing.' 

" *I am not conversant with either gour- 
mands or gourmets,' said my mother, in her 
firmest manner, 'but if my son wants ten help- 
ings of soup, that's his affair and not yours.' 



142 THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 

" ^Ah, very well/ said my mother-in-law. 
'I am simply telling you the usages of good 
society/ 

"The situation was growing tense. The 
next course was pig jowl, boiled with cabbage. 
Its flavor, as it was brought in, was delightful 
and filled the dining room to the exclusion of 
everything else. 

" 'Beg pardon,* said my mother-in-law ; then, 
to the maid, 'Maria, open all the windows be- 
fore I suffocate.* The windows were opened 
only to be closed again immediately as my 
mother could not stand the icy blasts. 

*' 'How any one could eat pig jowl and cab- 
bage is beyond me,* my wife's mother said, 
holding her handkerchief to her nose, and look- 
ing unutterables. 

" 'Well, I can eat it and so can my son !* ex- 
claimed my now irate mother. Until this time 
both my wife and I had maintained absolute 
silence. 

"The culmination of this disastrous repast 
came when the salad was served. A French 



THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 143 

dressing was brought on, which I refused and, 
instead, sprinkled sugar on the lettuce. My 
mother-in-law with tragic emphasis and melo- 
dramatic gesture, arose, and said, *I have 
been compelled to witness the degradation 
of the dinner in this horrible mess you have 
placed on the table, and which you and your 
son apparently enjoy. My daughter was edu- 
cated to follow the precept ^eat to live, not 
live to eat.* I have lectured before anti- 
fat societies and physical culture classes on 
the evils of food, and here I am in the house of 
my daughter's husband, forced to witness a 
man and a woman devour a thick soup, enjoy 
pigs' jowls and boiled cabbage, and gloat over 
lettuce covered with sugar. You'll excuse me, 
I must go to my room or I'll faint,' and she 
left the table. My wife remained motionless 
as marble. 

" 'Do you agree with your mother ?' asked 
my mother, slowly and pointedly. 

" *My mind is as my mother's,' said my wife, 
calmly. 



144 THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 



« t 



Then you are not fit to bear my son's 



name. 



Fit ! why, I degraded myself when I mar- 
ried into your family/ answered my wife. 

" *My family ? Let me tell you, my great- 
grandfather fought in the battle of Brandy- 
wine.' 

" 'And probably did because the name at- 
tracted him,' retorted my wife. 

" *Ah, this is too much !' shouted my mother, 
rising from the table and smashing her coffee 
cup on the floor. 

*' 'Tell that woman to leave our house,' 
shouted my wife. 

" 'I will leave with her,' I said, my temper 
getting the best of me. 

" Then you desert me ?' cried my wife. 

" 'I will never come in this house again until 
that hell-cat gets out of it,' said my abused 
parent." 

''Strong language!" said Miss Bradley. 

" 'My mother will remain to protect me from 
the insults of such as you,* and my wife left 



ii- 



THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 145 

the room. I hurriedly gathered a few things 
of my own and my mother's, and left." 
'And then T' asked the young lady. 
^My wife with her mother went west and 
got a divorce and alimony.'* 

"I hope your next experience was better." 

"No, — worse," and Scroggins slowly shook 
his head. 

"In what manner ?" 

"After Mrs. Scroggins went west, secured a 
legal residence and eventually obtained a 
divorce, I went back to the oil fields. During 
one of my visits to San Antonio I was invited 
to a dinner and, whom should I meet, but my 
former wife." 

"Accidental, of course," ventured Miranda. 

"I think it was a put-up job. She carried 
her forty-five years with ease and was growing 
old gracefully." 

"Your love was rekindled — " 
Yes, and in three days we were married 
again, 

'How charming I^ 



i(TT _1 1 Vf 



146 THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 

"How horrible, I found." 

"Why?" 

"Letitia, from the time she had left me to the 
moment she went visiting in San Antonio, had 
been constantly with her mother, and had im- 
bibed all that ancient dame's faculties for dis- 
cussion, argument, positiveness and never be- 
ing in the right." 

"How unfortunate." 

"Most unfortunate. We went back to New 
York to live. If Letitia read a headline in the 
paper, say, for instance: 'The President re- 
fuses to take sides in the controversy between 
England and Ireland regarding Home Rule,* 
she would immediately scornfully criticize the 
President, and, if I expostulated, she would 
turn on me and, before her tongue could be 
stopped, by devious ways of reasoning, it would 
be apparent that the President, England, and 
Ireland, were all brought to a dreadful stress 
owing to my persistency and pig-headedness." 

"Wouldn't it have been better, if you had 
not offered your views ?" 



THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 147 

"Perhaps! Still, I remember reading a 
would-be funny cablegram that stated it was 
believed that the famous Ahkoond of Swat, 
lately deceased, had no doubt been put away 
through the connivance of King Jim-jam of the 
Jou-Jous, who feared the Ahkoond would be- 
come Christianized, and, therefore, an apostate 
from the Mohammedan religion. She ranted 
over an attack on our church, and, when I of- 
fered no word, she turned and said savagely, 
^I believe at heart you are a Turk and I will 
not live a moment longer with such an accursed 
infidel,' and flounced out of the house/' 

*'A case of nerves, I should say," said 
Miranda. 

"Yes, and the nerves carried her to a law- 
yer's office and to a divorce court, where I was 
charged with having described myself as a 
Christian when my attitude was that of a Turk. 
I accepted the charge, did not defend the suit 
and I am now paying her for vilifying me, at 
the rate of a cool ten thousand dollars a year." 

Bar stars had joined the table and at the con- 



148 THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 

elusion of Scroggins' story, he broke in, 
"Miss Bradley, I can give you my experience 
in a few words. 

"My marriage was a regular knock-down 
and throw-out affair. But I will say one thing 
in favor of my former spouse : she never hit me 
with a rolling-pin when my back was turned." 



CHAPTER XI 

It would be supposed that five men, princi- 
pals in nine divorce cases, would desire to 
avoid the female for all time to come; but not 
so with the delectable quintet on the Southern 
Cross. Each was pursuing the fair Miranda 
and each believed himself the final victor. 
The strange part was that the only ^*fly in the 
ointment" was Stoneman. It was true that the 
object of their conquest, we will not say af- 
fection, had treated the young man with the 
utmost indifference, squelching his opinions 
and showing a decided preference for their 
company and their views. But women were 
uncertain, each confessed to himself. On each 
occasion, when the opportunity presented itself, 
they would give the young man a knock. 

"Don't you think,'* said Curlip, who wore a 

number twelve shoe, "that Stoneman's feet are 

149 



ISO THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 

too small for a man five feet nine in height?" 

The young lady had not observed. 

"I don't see anything attractive in dark blue 
eyes and very black hair in men/' Skaggs whis- 
pered, watching the effect. 

"The first time I find the opportunity I am 
going to compare Mr. Stoneman's eyes and hair 
with yours, but up to date I haven't noted them 
carefully when you have been together," the 
young lady volunteered. 

"I imagine Stoneman believes with his strong 
arms and powerful chest he is the only athletic- 
ally built man on the bcjat/' and Barstars 
crooked his arms, showed his muscular de- 
velopment and swelled out his chest, all of 
which Miranda admired in Barstars and had 
not noticed in the young man. 

The trip to Plymouth was drawing to a 
close ; the captain expected to reach the harbor 
in twenty-four hours. After luncheon the 
next afternoon they were met by the pilot-boat. 
A telegram was handed Captain Bradley. It 
read: 



THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 151 

"London — September 12th. — Have engaged James 
Leland, the eminent scientist, to accompany you. He 
will be at the dock when you arrive. 

"Preston, Astronomical Society." 

^^Gentlemen/' said the captain, flashing the 
telegram, '1 have excellent news for you. 
An assistant has been secured, so we can dis- 
pose of my niece's services and send her home 
from here.'* 

"What!'' came from five throats simultane- 
ously. 

"I am sure, gentlemen, my presence now is 
of no consequence. My uncle will have a bet- 
ter assistant than I could hope to be,*' said Miss 
Bradley, quietly. 

"No, no, — it will never do. Here you have 
been working ever since we left New York on 
matters concerning the observation, and to rob 
you of your reward for your work now is most 
unfair.'' Curlip's tone was impressive. 

"That's what we say, — ^most unfair," echoed 
the others. 

"It is not unfair, gentlemen; in fact, it must 



152 THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 

be done. Mr. Leland, no doubt, has either re- 
signed or secured leave from the authorities at 
Greenwich to make this trip, and I cannot turn 
him down now without serious loss to him." 

"We will take care of that — it isn't fair to 
Miss Bradley to turn her down after she had 
set her heart on going." 

"But, gentlemen, I had not set my heart on 
going. I know my uncle forfeited five thou- 
sand dollars because I abused our relation and 
hid myself on board this boat and my only 
reason was to take care of a possible contin- 
gency. That contingency has disappeared in 
the engaging of Mr. Leland." 

"One question," said young Stoneman. "Is 
Leland an Englishman?" 

"He is," said Captain Bradley, "and as fine 
a fellow and thorough scientist as you will find 
anywhere." 

"Then, I forbid his coming on board." 

The Alimony Club clutched at the words of 
Stoneman as a drowning man would take to a 
straw. 



THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 153 

"By what right do you forbid ?" asked Miss 
Bradley. 

"Yes, — ^by what right?" demanded the cap- 
tain. 

"By the right of an American, proud of his 
country, proud of its achievements. You, 
yourself. Captain Bradley, stated your desire 
was to have this expedition entirely American." 

"Yes, yes, American," Curlip hastened to 
say. 

"You used that argument, Captain Bradley, 
when you explained the presence of your niece 
with this expedition. It seemed to us that your 
great desire was to have this expedition abso- 
lutely an American one." 

'That's very true," replied the captain. 
'Ah! you remember that, captain," said 
Scroggins. "And you are not going back on 
it now," came from Anderson. 

"I have no desire to go back on it, but I can- 
not see my way clear to let Leland out." 

"I can, and Leland can. He is no doubt a 
patriotic Englishman, nearly all Englishmen 



it 



154 THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 

are. Explain to him the circumstances and 
I am sure he will withdraw. Englishmen be- 
lieve in patriotic impulses and therefore will 
understand your desire to have this expedition 
purely American." 

"That's true, but I cannot allow him to suffer 
personal loss/' 

"We will take care of that," simultaneously 
shouted the Alimony Club. 

"Is it agreeable to you, Miranda ?" asked the 
captain. 

"Of course, from a patriotic standpoint it is 
my duty, but I fear I might interfere with the 
pleasure and freedom of these gentlemen, all 
of whom came on board to escape the eternal 
female." 

"We are actuated entirely in the interests of 
patriotism. Future generations, reading the 
wonderful achievements of this expedition, 
will know it was American to the core," gran- 
diloquently orated Stoneman. 

Three days later the Southern Cross left 
Plymouth and all on board were Americans. 



CHAPTER XII 

Miss Bradley^s diary from the time of leav- 
ing Plymouth to Teneriffe reads : — 

"Friday, Sept. 15th. — ^Left Plymouth three 
p. M. Departure, from Eddy stone Lighthouse 
five P. M. Mr. Curlip joined me on deck at six 
p. M. His conversation as usual drifted to the 
eternal female, but in praise, instead of cen- 
sure. I remonstrated saying: — 

" 'Do you know, Mr. Curlip, that you are 
sadly departing from your position regarding 
women ?' 

" 'My mind is clearing/ he said. 

" 'When I first met you, you were so charm- 
ingly frank, so clear-brained in your estimate 
of our sex, that I was impressed, but now — ^ 

" 'But my views have changed, yoii under- 
stand,' pressing my arm slightly, but with evi- 
dent intention. 

155 



156 THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 

"Apparently paying no attention to the 
pressure,. I said, 'No, I cannot understand such 
a change in a short two weeks; it doesn't add 
to your credit as a man of discernment and 
purpose to be so fickle/ 

" 'Well, you have changed my views/ 

" 'I !' I exclaimed. 'You cannot point to one 
instance in our talks where I have disagreed 
with you, when you have spoken of woman as 
foolish, frivolous and capable of every form of 
deception/ 

" 'No, that's true, but don't you see* — this, 
with another pressure of my arm, just a little 
stronger. 

" 'No, I don't see, and never will. If I had 
opposed your arguments I could well under- 
stand that you, in the goodness of your heart 
and a desire that my feelings should not be 
rufHed, would be content not to talk of women 
at all. I enjoyed your tirades and now you 
are departing from your brilliant conceptions, 
your overpowering onslaughts on the specious 
arguments of Mir. Stoneman. It is not becom- 



THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 157 

ing the president of a famous club, pledged to 
speak the truth at all fimes about women/ 

" 'Oh, I have lost interest in that club/ 
wearily said Mr. Curlip. 

" 'Exactly,' I added; 'I shouldn't be surprised 
to see you the undisputed defender of my sex/ 

" 'Not me' ! 

" 'And why not you ? If, in two weeks you 
can discover in the sex virtues you never met 
before, by the time this voyage is over, you will 
champion us as paragons of perfection. I am 
sorry we must come to the parting of the ways.' 

" 'But can't you divine ?' His mind was 
wool-gathering. 

" 'Again I say no. When you berate my 
sex, you are grandly eloquent. As one who 
praises, you are unconvincing and impotent.' 

"I left him standing on the deck. He is a 
shrewd man, and like men of fifty, he com- 
bines the emotions of youth with the experience 
of age. Had he been a young man, he prob- 
ably would have blurted out what was in his 
mind, but the foxy old fellow elected to live in 



158 THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 

anticipation until he was absolutely sure of his 
quarry. 

"Sept. 1 6th — Light air — fine weather. 
Yacht's run to 12 noon — miles 251. Joined by 
Mr. Barstars 7.30. This man has one re- 
deeming quality. He loves birds and trees. 
When he talks of shotguns, rifles, powders, 
loads, velocity of vision, ducks, pheasants, deer, 
he is entertaining; otherwise, he is uninterest- 
ing. He is making a horrible effort to be senti- 
mental, which is as out of place as Chopin's 
'minute-waltz' would be at an elephant's ball. 
He told this experience : 

" 'I was down in Virginia, hunting quail. I 
wish you had been with me. I was in a large 
field of stubble and was gradually working my 
way to the edge of the woods beyond. I'm sure 
you would have enjoyed it. Just as I climbed 
the fence, I came upon a covey of young quail 
feeding with their mother. She immediately 
seemed to realize, if she and her chicks at- 
tempted to fly, they would be destroyed. Eye- 
ing me closely and defiantly she dropped one 



THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 159 

of her wings, dragging it along the ground as 
if it were broken. The brood immediately 
sought the shelter and protection of it and the 
mother and chicks moved slowly towards a 
brook and with lightning rapidity disappeared 
beneath a ledge. It was a beautiful exhibition. 
The day would have been just great if you had 
been there, just you and me and of course the 
dogs, and that's why Tm telling you this story. 
Don't you wish you and I could be together 
always, hunting? I — I — I guess you know 
what I mean?' 

"If I did, I went to breakfast without say- 
ing so. 

"Sept. 17th. Off Cape Ortegai — fresh 
breezes — fine weather — miles 301. It was Mr. 
Anderson the weak sister's turn, last evening. 

"As he joined me, his steps were slightly 
lurching, although the sea was calm. I have 
observed that on ship-board, physical evidence 
of 'looking upon the wine when it is red' is very 
difficult to determine, because the sober and the 
others are alike subject to the caprices of 



i6o THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 

angry, choppy, rolling or billowy seas. There- 
fore the bracing of oneself does not necessarily 
mean alcoholic uncertainty. 

"Anderson said with greater bravery than 
discretion, 'Do you know, I have liked 
you from the start. You remind me so much 
of my lost Arabella.' At this point it became 
necessary to choke him off, which Mr. Cur lip, 
who was with us, immediately proceeded to do. 

" 'Why, Miss Bradley, these men of our club 
do not take any interest in poker, pinochle, auc- 
tion pitch, seven-up or anything else,' said Mr. 
Anderson vehemently. 'They just sit around 
and wait for eleven bells and four bells all the 
time, and you know what happens at eleven and 
four bells. That's when you come out. They 
call themselves women-haters, — I don't think, 
— ^not that I'm blaming them, for if I could for- 
get my lost Arabella — ' 

" 'Oh, drop Arabella, — we know,' broke in 
Mr. Curlip. 

'Well, as I was saying, women are like 



(( r 



THE TRANSIT OF VENUS i6i 

Kentucky whiskies, — some are better than 
others, but all are good/ 

"Sept. i8th. Off Cape St. Vincent. — Fresh 
breezes — fine weather — miles 298. The delec- 
table Mr. Skaggs and delightful Mr. Stoneman 
were my companions through the promenade. 
I like Mr. Stoneman — sometimes I think — 
Miranda, don't get foolish. Remember your 
mission on earth is to study the stars — and yet 
his eyes have a starlit expression — Miranda, 
stop it, Miranda, I say. 

"The seven a. m. and six p. m. promenades 
have organized themselves into schools of 
Courtship, where the faculty is lecturing on 
Love, Ambition, Dreams and Marriage. As 
an omnivorous student I absorbed all, and not 
to create dissensions apparently accepted every 
statement made as gospel truth or wisdom. 

"Mr. Stoneman is the one truant ; he seldom 
attends. I am beginning to be a believer in 
the survival of the fittest. Some economist 
said that if five men were brought together, 



i62 THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 

each given an equal sum of money and an equal 
chance in business, within a comparative short 
time, one will have all the money, another all 
the experience, and the other three become de- 
pendents on the two. I am fully convinced that 
man, when forced to work out his own salva- 
tion, very quickly abandons the belief that all 
men are born free and equal. It matters not 
if disappointment, chagrin, indignation or ego 
takes possession of a man's brains, he con- 
sciously shoves himself into the place in the 
ranks of mankind where he knows he belongs. 
He may use to the world sophistry, self-decep- 
tion or fallacious reasoning, and try to make 
the world believe he is superior, but he doesn*t 
fool himself for any length of time, and 
gradually accepts his real worth and position. 

"The world is continually on the lookout for 
cleverness, and it has often stupidity thrust 
upon it, and in either case the location is 
pointed out by the clever or the stupid. 

"These five would-be wooers for my heart 
and hand. Heaven help me, started two days 



THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 163 

after we sailed. The race has settled down to 
anything but a gruelling contest. The various 
characteristics of the would-be wooers are in 
evidence, and one can note that Mr. Curlip 
never lets go an aggressive spirit and is un- 
tiring to remain as a supposed favorite. Mr. 
Skaggs, ambitious and vindictive, is running 
second in a cold-blooded fashion. Mr. Scrog- 
gins is near the leaders, and hopes that he will 
come under the wire first, through accident to 
the leaders. The zigzagging Mr. Anderson is 
left at the barrier, and Mr. Barstars doesn't 
know how to get started. 

"Sept. 1 8th — Fresh breeze — fine weather—- 
miles 294. Mr. Scroggins' heart is troubling 
him — not an affection caused by affection, for 
he really is an ill man. He is in the sick-bay, 
so nothing doing in the talk line to-day, thank 
the Lord. 

"Arrived Sept. i8th in the harbor of Santa 
Cruz, Teneriffe, went ashore at the Mole, then 
to the Hotel Quisisana to remain a few days. 
To port 277 miles. 



i64 THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 

"A cable was received by Mr. Curlip from 
the Acting-President of the Alimony Club an- 
nouncing the triple wedding of Curlip's three 
ex-wives and informing this gentleman that 
automatically the alimonies and his member- 
ship in the club had ceased. The club regretted 
the loss of such a distinguished member and 
trusted he would be eligible, soon again. 

''Mr. Curlip was overjoyed, much to the dis- 
gust of Mr. Skaggs, who groaned at the un- 
seemly mirth of the ex-president, complaining 
that his action was not in keeping with the 
dignity of a high official. Ignoring the cen- 
sure, Mr. Curlip, with a burst of generosity 
and geniality, insisted that the next dinner was 
to be on him, and that, to express his own 
words, 'joy should be unconfined.' When the 
wine was served he arose and offered a toast — 
'To the lady.' Of course, I bowed. 

"Mr. Skaggs, holding his glass on high, said, 
'I subscribe to the toast with sorrow — ^not be- 
cause the lady does not deserve it, but because 
he, who was our leader, our mentor, our ex- 



THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 165 

ample, has outlived his usefulness; I have not 
heard him say a truthful thing about woman 
for the past two weeks. I drink — ' 

" 'You mean, sir,' and Mr. Stoneman arose, 
'you haven't heard him utter a derogatory — ' 

" 'Well, that's the same thing,' said the im- 
placable Mr. Skaggs. 'He has been straddling. 
One minute, as president of our club, he leans 
to the right, and the next, as a hanger-around 
a bit of femininity, he leans to the wrong; by 
his actions he nullifies himself completely — * 

" 'Therefore, I draw the deduction,' I ex- 
plained, 'that his attitude is that of a Demo- 
cratic President elected by the Republicans, or 
a Republican President elected by the Demo- 
crats — he is no good for either party.' 

" 'Come, now,' protested Mr. Curlip, 'I've 
lost my taste for knocking the gentler sex.' 

" 'That^s where you lose out,' I interjected. 
'When you were condemning our follies, frivo- 
lities and frailties, I knew just where I stood. 
Now I don't know myself as others know me.' 

" 'But every man has a right to change his 






i66 THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 

mind about politics, religion or women/ pleaded 
the unhappy Mr. Curlip. 

" Toor fish/ sneered Mr. Skaggs. 
'^Af ter dinner we wandered into the garden. 
Various colored lanterns were hung about and 
the decorations suggested a picture of fairy- 
land. Skaggs immediately appropriated me 
and we finally sat down in what might be called 
a lovers' retreat. 

^Have you enjoyed the voyage?' he asked. 
I never can be sufficiently thankful, espe- 
cially to you, Mr. Skaggs for allowing me to 
remain aboard,' I exclaimed, with enthusiasm. 
" 'If I had insisted on your leaving the ship, 
it would have been a great disappointment to 
you, would it not?' This was said with the 
directness of a prosecuting attorney. 

" 'Oh, I'm sure, it would have broken my 
heart. I should have carried my disappoint- 
ment to my grave/ I replied. 

'Do you believe in reciprocity?' 
'Undoubtedly,' I responded. 
Then marry me/ he commanded. 






THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 167 

" 'But you don't love me/ I said, as if a pro- 
posal was the most natural thing to expect from 
him at that moment. 

" 'No, I don't love you, but I want you,' he 
replied slowly. T am incapable of loving, but 
sometimes, during the past two weeks, I have 
thought that if any woman could awaken a 
feeling of love in me, you could.' 

" 'Oh, I hope, dear Mr. Skaggs, I haven't 
been indiscreet,' I said in a mock-modest 
manner. 

" 'Not in the least, but all of us have our 
ambitions. Mine is to lead, to be spoken of, to 
be pointed out as a somebody. When I was a 
lad, I dreamt that one day a steamboat, a race- 
horse, or a tally-ho coach would be named for 
me, or that I would be president oi a baseball 
club or a volunteer fire-company or of the 
county fair association. Now I want to run 
for president of the Alimony Club. The presi- 
dency of that club is a stepping-stone to greater 
honors.' 

" 'But where do I come in ?' I queried. 



i68 THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 



€( C 



In return for my not objecting to your re- 
maining on board the yacht, you must now con- 
sent to marry me. After a matrimonial ex- 
perience of a few weeks, I will desert you, or 
swear at you, or perform one of the many 
matrimonial infelicities not allowed under the 
statutes of our territorial laws, and you sue for 
divorce and alimony. We'll agree on the sum 
beforehand. Then I'll become the logical can- 
didate for president of the club, — three mar- 
riages and two alimonies. That will make me 
talked of all over the country, and one must be 
talked about to become famous. From there 
my career starts upward.' 

" 'But/ I said, in mock expostulation, 'you 
would be running an awful risk in marrying 



me. 



I scarcely believe I should,' said he, with a 
leer in his ugly face. 

" 'Suppose,' I continued, 'after we are mar- 
ried, I should become madly infatuated with 
you?' 



(( ii 



THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 169 

Oh, that's impossible/ he said; '1 don't in- 
spire feminine affection/ 

" 'No, no,' passionately, I cried, 'not impos- 
sible, — very probable. I am not as other girls. 
I am one of the clinging type. You don't 
know me, Mr. Skaggs, you do not realize be- 
neath this serene exterior beats a heart that 
could love or hate with an impetuosity — an im- 
placability-^' 

" 'Why, I thought you were a nice, quiet, 
easy-going girl.' 

"'Me? Easy-going? Why, if you were 
my husband and I felt you wished to rid your- 
self of me, even for a great ambition, I would' 
— Here I clutched my hands and pantomimed 
^ dagger thrust. 

" 'Bless my soul, you surprise me,' — edging 
away with some alarm. 

" 'Do not delude yourself into the belief that 
you could get rid of me. Husbands rich and 
healthy are scarce ; poor working-girls must be 
taken care of — ' 



€€ (' 



it r 



it r 



170 THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 

That's true/ he mused, as if in great 
thought. 

" 'I have a plan/ I suddenly exclaimed, jump- 
ing up from my seat and standing before him. 
" 'Name it/ 
Mr. Curlip was elected on the platform of 
three alimonies—' 
" 'Yes.' 
Why not present yourself on a more novel 
platform ?' 

I'm listening.* 

^As a candidate who pays the largest ali- 
mony.' 

" 'But I don't. I only pay $5,200 a year/ 
'' 'I have been told that defendants petition 
courts to re-open their cases for the purpose 
of reducing alimonies. Why not petition the 
court to re-open your case to increase your 
wife's alimony ?' 

On what grounds ?' he said dubiously. 
'On the discovery of new evidence/ I an- 
swered. 

" 'But I have no new evidence.' 



ii t 






it (• 



THE TRANSIT OF VENUS. • 171 

" 'Nonsense ; you have/ I protested. 'You 
have told me that at times it dawns upon you 
that the former Mrs. Skaggs had some virtues 
that escaped you during your married life. 
Why not be a man, petition the court to re-open 
the case and grant the plaintiff a sum commen- 
surate with these manifold but overlooked ac- 
complishments ; I feel confident you will find no 
objection from the lady.* 

^But that will cost money.' 

» 

'Not so much, Mr. Skaggs, as getting into 
an entangling alliance with me.' I spoke 
coldly and with great deliberation. 

" 'I will think it over,' he said, as we rejoined 
the party. 

'The next few days we spent in touring the 
Island. We visited the famous Pico-de-Teyde, 
that beacon of the sea, volcanic and lofty, so 
well-known to the followers of the deep. The 
Cueva del Yelo was an object of interest, a 
natural ice-house, of which the inhabitants of 
the island take advantage. We inspected Cue- 
val de las Reyes, the ancient sepulchral grotto 



172 THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 

of the Gaunches, the aborigines of the Ca- 
naries. Here we learned that Columbus, on 
his several voyages to our continent, stopped 
at these islands, and took to the western land 
what we now know as bronchos, mustangs and 
cayuses, also cattle, goats, sheep, hogs, and do- 
mestic fowls, together with the seeds of the 
orange, lemon, melons and other fruits. It is 
believed by some geologists that Teneriffe is a 
part of the lost Atlantis. 

"At our farewell dinner, Mr. Skaggs, with 
that perpetual persistency of his, brought up 
for the twentieth time the subject of his imme- 
diate return to America, to put himself in line 
as a candidate for the presidency of his club. 

"The unchanging avidity and unanimity in 
which the four comrades endorsed the project 
would have made a less vain man than Mr. 
Skaggs suspicious. * 

"Mr. Curlip was particularly enthusiastic. 
'It's a great idea, old man,* said he, slapping 
the doubtful one on the back. 'Napoleon's di- 



THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 173 

vorce case made him just as famous as his 
many battles. Lots and lots of kings added to 
their reputation by having the wedding-knot 
cut early and often. There was one of the 
Henrys that even beat my record.' 

" Then/ said Mr. Scroggins, 'think of the 
advertising you'll get. Papers will say, "Club 
man petitions court to increase his ex-wife's 
alimony.'' What an endorsement for office! 
Every woman in the land will campaign for 
you, the name of Skaggs will be on every 
tongue, babies will be named for you, to say 
nothing of steamboats and Pullman cars. The 
stepping-stone to the presidency of the United 
States has followed the tow-path of the raging 
canal; the wagon-road of the lumber camp; 
why not the aisle of the divorce court or the 
gavel of the Alimony Club ?' 

"Two days later, a homeward-bound steamer 
coming into port, Mr. Skaggs transferred his 
baggage and himself to it, and sailed for New 
York. 



174 THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 

" 'Oh, vaulting ambitions, what fools you 
make of us!' My earnest prayer is that he 
may be elected, and remain at the head of his 
club unto his dying day. Ugh — the brute." 



CHAPTER XIII 

Summer, but a month past, was returning to 
greet the voyagers. Sunlit days and breeze- 
kissed nights prevailed. Final hours of 
springtime were passing in the tropics. It was 
the middle of October and "by night those soft 
lascivious stars leered from those velvet skies.'' 
From these tropical heavens looked down that 
glorious, revered and beautiful constellation, 
the Southern Cross, dearest of all clusters to 
the Christian, dear to the one who heard from 
mother's lips the story of the Christ, the story 
of the Cross, — the story of the lost, lone star 
that led the wise men from the East to Jeru- 
salem, saying, "Where is he that is born King 
of the Jews, for we have seen his star in the 
East and are coming to worship him." 

If Dante named the Crux 'the Southern 
Cross' he builded better than he knew; for it 

175 



176 THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 

has linked minds without number in commun- 
ion with the Omnipotent. From the days when 
the stars of the morning sang, the brilliants 
of the heavens have ever been mysterious and 
wonderful, and nowhere are the heavens so vel- 
vety nor the stars so bright as in the south- 
ern skies. 

The older passengers, each under the sopo- 
rific spell of the returning warmth, retired. 

Miranda, clad in white, a lace shawl thrown 
over her shoulders, sat on the upper deck. She 
was approached by Stoneman, who had come 
from his cabin to smoke a last cigarette and 
gaze on the beauties of the soft night. 

"Good evening,'' he said. "I hardly ex- 
pected to find you here ! I imagined Td be alone 
at this hour,'' apologizing for his intrusion. 

Won't you sit down ?" she replied, coaxingly. 

With pleasure." It was the first time in 
the weeks he had been aboard that she had 
said anything that implied the slightest inter- 
est in him. 

"I am here on deck, star-gazing," she said. 






THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 177 

"renewing my acquaintance with that beautiful 
constellation." She pointed in the direction 
of the Southern Cross. 

''You have seen it before?" he asked. 

"This is the third trip I have made to this 
part of the world. When I was fourteen I 
went to Australia with my father, and four 
years ago, when I was eighteen, we spent sev- 
eral months in Tasmania, and now I'm with 
this expedition." 

"You're certainly a great traveler, aren't 
you ?" 

"I was my father's constant companion and 
no doubt you have heard of his many dis- 
coveries and researches, and his many-sided 
scientific pursuits." 

Stoneman had not, but he said, "Of course."* 
Then he went on, "What do you see so beau- 
tiful in the Southern Cross as opposed to, say, 
the Pleiades, the Dipper and other constella- 
tions?" 

"The romantic attractiveness of it. The 
Lord of the Heavens has dotted it with a clus- 



178 THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 

ter of ruby-reds, emerald-greens, sapphire- 
blues, and, besides," she said, with great ear- 
nestness, "it is the heavenly banner of Chris- 
tianity — Christianity, a religion that has the 
most fascinating figure of history/' 

"You must be a great church-goer,** admir- 
ingly spoke the young man. For know ye, 
men of all creeds and sects, nothing is met with 
greater approval from you than that your 
women follow the tenets of your religion! 

"It doesn't necessarily follow,'' soberly came 
from Miranda, "that Fm a church-goer. I 
draw my deductions from historical events and 
observations rather than faith and sectarian 
partisanship." 

"Well, haven't other religions, such as the 
Buddhist, the Brahmin, the Mosaic, the Mo- 
hammedan, great central figures also — " 

"Undoubtedly, or they would not obtain on 
this earth, but there is something so gloriously 
beautiful, so satisfying, so simple, in the teach- 
ing of the Christ that to me it makes the strong- 
est appeal. Who can deny the universal ac- 



THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 179 

ceptance . of the Golden Rule : There are 
things whatsoever you would that men should 
do to you, do you even so to them, for this is 
the law of the prophets' ?" 

'That's playing the game fair." 

*Then there's another side that appeals to 
me. In Christ's teachings we know God as a 
loving father, a loyal friend, a smiling teacher, 
a reassuring leader. What can be more reas- 
suring than this: *Be of good cheer; it is I; 
be not afraid'?" 

"That sounds good." 

"What friend could offer more than 'Ask 
and it shall be given you; seek and ye shall 
find ; knock and it shall be opened unto you' ?" 

"A fellow could not offer more to his best 
pal, I am thinking," said Stoneman. 

"And see the reward for the toil of years: 
'Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many 
years; take thine ease, eat, drink and be 
merry.' " 

"That does give a fellow something to look 
forward to." 



i8o THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 

"And how fine is 'Glory to God in the highest 
and on earth peace and good will towards 
men/ '' 

*There*s no knock-down and drag out in 
those teachings, and I think when I get back 
to New York I'm going to join a church/' 

"It will probably be of great benefit to you/' 
said Miranda, slyly. 

"What church do you attend?" asked the 
young man, with sudden inspiration. 

"Oh, all of them. I go where there's a 
preacher who doesn't talk to you as if you 
were a driveling idiot and doesn't work for his 
salary as if he were the barker for the only 
show on earth. 

"Knocking the other fellow's show isn't con- 
sidered good business in the theatrical world; 
boosting your own is the proper caper, these 
days." 

"Exactly. Churches are like trolley lines — 
if fifty ran from New York to Boston, the 
destination of all would be Boston ; so it is with 
the churches. Their terminal is Heaven." 



THE TRANSIT OF VENUS i8i 

''But don't you think some churches offer an 
extra coupon to join?" 

"Maybe. Our faith, if we possess any, usu- 
ally starts from the time we are at our mothers' 
knees. I've often heard even cold-blooded 
atheists defend a certain sect because that was 
their mother's church. Tor,' said a philoso- 
pher, 'as the health and strength or weakness 
of our bodies is very much owing to the 
methods of treating us when we were young, 
so the soundness or folly of our minds is not 
less owing to our first tempers and ways of 
thinking which we eagerly received from the 
love, tenderness and authority, and constant 
conversation of our mothers.' " 

"Yes, even song-writers know the value of 
mother. Father, although he pays the bills 
and bears the brunt, doesn't get much show 
from the sentimentalist," Stoneman continued. 
"The poets and musicians, of course, play on 
the heart-strings of the world ; love and mother 
are perennial subjects; the publishers with an 



i82 THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 

eye on the commercial side, do all they can to 
boost love and boost mother." 

"Father is ever with us, also," said Miranda. 
"But father is as hard to fashion into a ro- 
mantic character as a poem of the vanquished 
has to become popular," said Stoneman. 

"How about The Charge of the Light Brig- 
ade?' " asked Miranda. 

" Tis true. It is a poem of the vanquished, 
but English historians say ^never victory was 
more glorious to the devoted men than this use- 
less charge.' " 

"And somebody said it was magnificent, but 
it wasn't war," continued Miranda. 

"Of course, that's balderdash." 

"What is war? Goldsmith states it fairly: 
'On whatever side we regard the history of 
Europe, we shall perceive it to be a tissue of 
crimes, follies and misfortunes, of politics 
without design, and wars without conse- 
quence.' " 

"Then you think war is a tissue of crimes, 
follies and misfortunes?" Stoneman asked. 



THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 183 

"Yes. Still, it proves one thing, Down in 
the heart of real man there is a patriotic fervor 
that war brings violently to the surface and 
shows the best attributes man can possess — 
love of country, which has its inception in love 
of mother and love of God." 

"Then you do not think that patriotism and 
atheism blend?" Stoneman said. 

"Certainly not. Men, loving their country, 
glory in its achievements; its institutions to 
live must be based on justice, truth and moral- 
ity. Disregard of law and order cannot be ac- 
cepted as a truth or as a moral force." Mi- 
randa spoke with conviction. 

"Of course not. It isn't a difficult matter to 
believe in God." 

"I am interested to have you tell me why it 
is not." 

"Purely from a standpoint of reasoning. I 
know you are sitting there, you know Fm sit- 
ting here, both know that this about us is the 
ocean, that we are being conveyed in a ship, 
that above us is the sky." 



i84 THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 

"Yes; these things imply an intelligence," 
she added. 

"Exactly. Now we are the products of na- 
ture. We are intelligent. It is most reason- 
able to infer, we who are intelligent could not 
be created by a chaotic body." 

"And, as we are intelligent, the God that 
created us must be intelligent, too. I suppose 
that's your contention," continued Miranda. 

"It is. Therefore, we know law and order 
as best for the world and for its progress. 
And to quote Froude, — 'The moral law is writ- 
ten on the tablet of eternity. For every false 
word or unrighteous deed, for cruelty and op- 
pression, for lust or vanity, the price has to be 
paid at last' " 

"Then you take no stock in the theories of 
the atheist?" 

"None whatever," answered Stoneman. 
"Whatever atheism is, its basic principle is 
wrong; the atheist robs you of your faith and 
offers nothing in return." 

"Much as a starving man invites you to leave 



THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 185 

your dinner untouched and come out and starve 
with him," was Miranda's deduction. 

"I do not believe you can find atheists in the 
ranks of real composers or loving mothers." 

"Why?" 

"The real composer knows the mysterious 
process of inspiration. He feels there's some- 
thing beyond and above himself that has 
given him the themes that are to make a world 
happier, and the loving mother must believe 

that she is selected by a higher power to bring 

» 

into the world one made in the image of his 
God." 

"But there are a lot of miserable creatures in 
the world." 

"And a lot of rotten music. In either case 
neither inspiration nor love was the basilar 
source." 

"Well, we have touched on a lot of subjects 
so I shall say good night to the stars and to 
the ramble." She extended her hand, and he 
walked with her to the companionway. He lit 
a cigarette and looked far out into the track- 



i86 THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 

less waste of waters, and then to his cabin 
to sleep. His dreams were a procession of 
"Southern Crosses," Charges of the Light 
Brigades, and smiling mothers, and over them 
all floated an angel of beauty whose general 
makeup suggested Miranda Bradley. 



CHAPTER XIV 

The expedition was nearing the Equator, 
that imaginary line which is the delight of the 
old sailor, the fear of the young salt, for here 
from time immemorial the ceremony of "cross- 
ing the line" has lifted the seaman from the 
novice class to that of the real Jack Tar. 

Captain Bradley called the crew on deck the 
day before the ship was to cross the line. 

"Men," he said, "to-morrow we reach the 
Equator; to those who have never sailed so 
far south before, I will read you the form of 
ceremony known and practiced in the olden 
days of the sailing vessel. I am reading from 
Captain Marryat's famous book, 'Frank Mild- 
may.' As you know, there is no novelist who 
has written more knowingly of the sea than 
Marryat, and many of the customs of the sail- 
ors of England and Arnerica have been handed 

187 



i88 THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 

down through this observing and faithful 
author. He represents the ship as being hailed 
from the supposed depths of the sea the even- 
ing before the line is to be reached, and the 
captain is given the compliments of Neptune 
and asked to muster his novices for the sea- 
lord's inspection. The next day the ship is 
'hove to' at the proper moment, and Neptune, 
with his dear Amphitrite and suite, comes on 
board. Neptune appears, preceded by a young 
man plainly dressed in tights and riding on a 
car made of a gun-carriage drawn by six nearly 
naked blacks spotted with yellow paint. He 
has a long beard of oakum, an iron crown on 
his head, and of course carries a trident with a 
small dolphin between the prongs. His at- 
tendants consist of a secretary with quills from 
a sea-fowl ; a surgeon with lancet and pill-box ; 
a barber with a huge wooden razor, its blade 
made of an iron hoop; and a barber's mate, 
with a tub for a shaving-box. Amphitrite, 
wearing a woman's night-cap with harpoon, 
carries a ship's boy in her lap as a baby, with 



THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 189 

a marlin-spike to cut his teeth on. She is at- 
tended by three men dressed as nymphs, witli 
curry-combs, mirror and pots of paint. The 
sheep-pen, lined with canvas and filled with 
water, has already been prepared. The vic- 
tim, seated on a platform laid over it, is blind- 
folded, then shaved by the barber and finally 
plunged backward into the water. That is the 
traditional manner of the ceremony. We will 
change it to-morrow. You select your Nep- 
tune, who will make a proclamation welcoming 
the new-comers into the Southern sea, select 
your Amphitrite, who is to distribute largess to 
the men who have crossed, and after that we 
will have a concert and a supper. The exig- 
encies of travel by steam makes it necessary to 
switch from the olden ceremony to those more 
modern and better fitted to the present expedi- 
tion." 

The occasion was one of hilarity. Neptune 
was a great success, and Miranda as Amphi- 
trite won all hearts. The officers and passen- 
gers followed the traditions of gift-giving, and 



IQO JHE TRANSIT OF VENUS 

the crew were richer and happier over the 
event. Cape Town was reached and the 
Southern Cross lay at anchor under famous 
Table Mountain, and passengers and crew saw 
the fleecy waitresses of the clouds set the cloth 
on the mountain for a banquet of the gods of 
the air. 

Scroggins was a very ill man, so it was 
thought best to send him ashore to a hospital as 
a further stay on board might prove serious. 

On the morning after the yacht arrived at 
Cape Town, Anderson received a cable, which 
read: "Dearest Algy, come back. I'm lonely 
without you, as you are so far away. All is 
forgiven. I was mistaken. I now know it 
was the bouquet of the wine-press. Your con- 
trite Arabella." 

"My poor Arabella," said Anderson; "I 
must hasten back." 

He and Scroggins sailed two days later. 



CHAPTER XV 

The expedition anchored in Christmas Har- 
bor and began preparation for their stay. 
Kerguelen Islands were discovered by Kergue- 
len Tremaric, a native of Brittany, in 1772. 
Discoverers have made mistakes and it is not 
to be wondered at. Columbus thought Amer- 
ica was the Indies, and Kerguelen believed that 
the land he had found was the long thought-of 
Southern Continent, rich in natural resources 
and possibilities. Columbus went to his grave 
with his belief unchanged, but, in the case of 
Kerguelen, the disillusionment came very 
quickly, for the discoverer, on revisiting the 
group in 1774, found that the islands were bar- 
ren and unproductive. In his chagrin he re- 
named them Desolation Land. 

The crew of the Southern Cross almost im- 
mediately set to work building huts and an ob- 

191 



192 THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 

servatory, and arranging all astronomical ap- 
pliances to be ready for the coming transit. 

Miranda, to use Stoneman's admiring com- 
ment, was "as busy as a one-armed paper 
hanger." Curlip, Barstars and Stoneman 
were helping. Stoneman was adjusting the 
plates for the cameras, large and small, and 
the other men doing anything to be useful. 

Stoneman had rowed out to the yacht to get 
some needed things, leaving Curlip and Mi- 
randa alone. Barstars was off looking for 
game. 

"Do you believe in love at first sight, Miss 
Bradley?" asked Curlip. 

"Well," she spoke slowly, "I suppose if some 
thoroughly reliable person told me such a thing 
existed I would not affirm to the contrary." 

"Then you have never experienced it ?" 

"Of course not, but I reiterate in the manner 
of the Quaker who in argument with an unbe- 
liever was told that there is no God. 

^And why thinkest thou so?' said the 
Quaker. 



H i 



(( r 



a f 



THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 193 

'Because I do not believe in anything no 
one has ever seen/ 

Then, friend/ concluded the Quaker, 'dost 
thou believe thou hast brains ?' " 

"That's all right, but there are well-authen- 
ticated cases of people becoming infatuated at 
sight," argued Curlip. 

''Well, what do you want to prove?" 

"That the very first time I saw you, I — " 

"Yes, I know. Let me tell you a story — " 

"To prove my point?" 

"To prove that first-sight love has a romantic 
rather than a lasting interest/' 

"Just as one remembers one's first kiss. It 
might be the poorest kiss one ever received but 
you remember it, because it was the first/' And 
the veteran smacked his lips. 

"Your experience no doubt makes you a cap- 
able judge on that point," Miranda said, laugh- 
ingly. 

"Let's have the story." 

"It's a Hindoo tale with variations. Once 



194 THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 

there was a beautiftil princess — " Miranda 
began. 

''How novel!" 

"Whose eyes met the eyes of a very, very 
handsome youth." 

"The novelty continues/' said Curlip. 

"These two had concealed in their souls an 
imponderable something, akin to electricity; 
these two concealments responded to the same 
spark." 

"And of course formed the positive and neg- 
ative," added Curlip. 

"When they met, the switch was turned on, 
the effect an illumination of their respective 
souls, the cause, love at first sight, the conse- 
quence, they both fell in a swoon." 

"Short-circuited, evidently," offered Curlip. 

"No, really, please, this story is too sad to 
be treated with levity." And Miranda as- 
sumed a sorrowful countenance. "In due time 
they recovered their respective senses." 

"And the lady said 'Where am I ?' " offered 
the man. 



THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 195 

"No, she knew where she was," corrected 
Miranda, "having a largely developed bump of 
location. She asked no unnecessary questions, 
but suggested to the object of her love that they 
consult their favorite doctors, which they im- 
mediately did, each submitting to a diagnosis/' 

"And the diagnosis discovered — ?*' 

"Their complaint was of the soul, not of the 
body/' 

"And then T' said the man quickly. 

"The young man being of a very supersti- 
tious nature and believing in the potency of the 
palmist, the clairvoyant, the fortune-teller, and 
the wizard, immediately consulted one of the 
latter and explained his symptoms/' 

"And the wizard said?" 

"That his case demanded serious contempla- 
tion and study, and after pocketing his fee, told 
the unhappy youth to call again to-morrow." 

"Which he did." 

"He did. The wizard taking from his in- 
side pocket a pill said, 'Place this in your 
mouth. You will be changed to a young girl. 



196 THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 

When you want to get back to your present 
sex and shape take it out of your mouth/ " 

"Suppose he swallowed it?" 

''Wait, please. Don't interrupt. 'And/ 
said the wizard, 'call upon the father of the 
princess, tell him you would like to remain at 
his house until your fiance returns from the 
war. The old man is a great patriot and some- 
thing of a profiteer, and will no doubt, for the 
advertising it would give him, consent. If he 
does not, come back and I will give you further 
instructions.' The young man, metamor- 
phosed into a beautiful young maiden, called on 
the father who was delighted at the prospect of 
having a cheerful companion for his drooping, 
love-sick daughter. Turning to the princess 
he said, 'My child, I put under your guardian- 
ship this beautiful little stranger; guard her 
well,' and left them together. The guest, no- 
ticing a shadow of sorrow on the face of the 
princess, said, 'Why so pensive?' And they, 
like all girls, sat down and the princess con- 
fided, how much she loved a handsome 



THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 197 

stranger; if she did not see him shortly, she 
certainly would go broken-hearted to her grave 
and die there. 'What will you give me/ said 
the pseudo-girl, 'if I show you your beloved 
this moment ?' '* 

"I suppose gold and precious jewels, and a 
little mountain home," interrupted Curlip. 

"No, no, you're wrong!" exclaimed Miranda. 
"The princess threw her arms about the other 
and said, T will be your abject slave.* 

"Presto-change! The maid removed the 
pill from her mouth, taking care to conceal it 
carefully and was immediately transformed 
back to a young man. 

"How about her wearing apparel?" queried 
Curlip. 

"Oh, that was all right. She was dressed as 
a farmerette." 

"Excuse my interruption," apologized the 
listener. 

"Then they sat down and considered which 
form of marriage they would have solemnized. 
They selected the Gardhava-lagan, which be- 



198 THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 

ing translated means a marriage by mutual 
consent, but at the same time they concluded it 
best to keep the nuptials a secret. 

"Of course they lived happy ever after," 
again interrupted the listener. 

"I regret to say, no. For a few months 
things went along splendidly, and then the 
princess wanted to go out. She doted on cab- 
arets, five-o'clock teas, dances, vaudeville and 
musical comedies. But he said, 'No, you know 
very well it would be fatal to me if I went out 
as a man. What your father wouldn't do to 
me, wouldn't be worth printing. And if I went 
as a girl somebody would get stuck on me and 
that's where you would get in the game.' But 
the princess was persistent and kept hammer- 
ing away, and from tender lovers, they did 
nothing but quarrel. As he was under the 
guardianship of the princess, her father would 
not allow them to be separated even for an 
hour. 

"One day in desperation, after the princess 
was bemoaning her fate, he said, 'Very well. 



THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 199 

I will go out with you, but as a girl and the con- 
sequence be yours/ 'Oh! 'fraid cat!' she 
snapped. 'You're not so pretty that you need 
have any fear that any one will run away with 
you.' So out they went, taking in everything, 
but returning before the hour grew too late. 
"One evening, they attended a magnificent 
ball given in honor of a visiting prince. The 
very moment he cast his eyes on the wizard 
made beauty, his soul kindled with love — love 
at first sight. You will note this is the third 
case of that sensation in this story. He man- 
aged to slip a billet-doux into the pseudo- 
maiden's hand ; it was a request for a meeting, 
and an invitation to a little supper afterwards. 
In the spirit of adventure and a desire to get 
away from the princess, if only for a few min- 
utes, because they were at daggers' points con- 
tinually, the invitation was accepted. She met 
the prince, and they repaired to a quiet little 
restaurant, and, as both were very hungry, the 
prince ordered immediately. While waiting 
for the food, he gazed with love and infatua- 



200 THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 

tion at the beautiful creature at his side. The 
prince was an exceedingly impulsive young 
man. Suddenly and unexpectedly, he threw 
out his arms, drew her to him, and pressed her 
to his heart. The wild impetuosity of his ac- 
tion caused the pseudo-maid to gasp for breath, 
and she accidentally swallowed the pill, — ** 

''And then?" said Curlip. 

"And immediately became a man. Forget- 
ting all about his love at first sight and sur- 
prised and angered at the deception, the prince 
drew his sword to slay the defenseless one, but, 
being a first-class sprinter, the latter out-dis- 
tanced the prince, to say nothing of the princess 
and the father who entered in pursuit.'* 

"Then you don't think that love at first sight 
is lasting?" 

"I know nothing about it except this little 
story. It might have lasted if the 'maid' had 
not swallowed the pill." 

"Well, that doesn't prove anything," said 
Curlip, trying to bring the conversation back 
to the sentimental. 



THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 201 

"The maid became a man — " 

"And there was the devil to pay/* added 
Curlip. 

"The moral is don't fall in love at first sight 
unless you know what you are loving." 

"But this is only a fairy story/' persisted 
Curlip. 

"Not more so, than false hair, enameled com- 
plexions, strapped-in waist-lines, store-teeth, 
unbridled temper, and mercenary dispositions 
are fairy tales. The pill in the deceiver's 
mouth makes these invisible to him who loves 
at first sight; later the pill is swallowed and 
first love disappears," laughingly said Miranda. 

"Your sermonizing does not fit all cases," 
Curlip looked intently and critically at the per- 
fection of the object of his attention. 

"Certainly not ! But it is better that ninety- 
nine should not fall in love at first sight, than 
that one should be deceived." 

"I don't agree with you. Now if you had all 
these imperfections, I would — " 

"Pity me, scorn me, despise me, for our two 



202 THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 

souls would have but a single thought, and 
our two hearts would beat as one/' — 

"And love at first sight would* be vindicated," 
continued Curlip. 

"Nothing of the kind ; both of us know that 
false hair, made-up complexion and so forth, 
do not inspire love at first, second or third 
sight, when both are conscious of the fact, and 
two souls would have but a single thought — " 

"And that would be?" 

"When both are aware of the deception." 
'Don't you believe in love, at all ?" 
'Certainly I do, not first impression. I am 
told when two hearts are possessed with it, 
though they may be separated by the acquired 
knowledge of false hair, made-up complexion, 
temper, or any other cause, they are like quick- 
silver in a saucer, — sooner or later they mingle 
and remain as one until eternity." 

"Although you say that, I believe you are de- 
void of sentiment." Curlip seated himself 
close to Miranda, who with apparent uncon- 
sciousness moved across to another bench. 






THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 203 

"What do you call sentiment ? Do you mean 
gratitude ?'' questioned the girl. 

"No, no, no,'' he expostulated. "Gratitude 
is said to be a lively sense of future favors." 

"Then what?" she said, focussing her cam- 
era on the floundering man. 

"Why, sentiment is when a girl fellow lets 
a man fellow tell her what is in his mind, and 
doesn't squirm out of it like a wrestler out of 
a half -Nelson." 

"Oh, I see — ah, here comes Mr. Stoneman; 
ril ask his definition of sentiment." 

"Please don't," whispered the disappointed 
Curlip, "I beg of you." And of course she 
didn't. 

"I've brought your rifle and hunting jacket 
from the yacht," said Stoneman as he ap- 
proached. He offered them to Miranda. 
"As you see I'm all togged up to go down to 
the crags and get a glimpse of the sea-ele- 
phants." 

"That's it. I'll get ready at once and per- 
haps we shall be lucky enough to get some 



204 THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 

photographs of those huge beasts. I don't sup- 
pose, Mr. Curlip, you want to go, so you'll ex- 
cuse us, won't you ?" 

"Certainly," said the frowning Curlip, and 
then, in an incredulous manner, added, ''Where 
are the sea-elephants, Stoneman?" 

"The sailors aboard saw a small herd of 
them 'hauled up' on the beach just south of 
here an hour ago/' 

"Well, bring me home one for a parlor pet," 
sneered the elder man as he disappeared in the 
hut. 

In a few minutes Miranda and Edward were 
oflF, he with a camera to get pictures of these 
monsters of the deep, she with a protecting 
Winchester on her shoulder. 

Authorities agree that the sea-elephant is 
considerably larger than the land variety, some 
of them being more than twenty feet in leng^ 
with a circumference of twelve feet or more at 
the chest. The bulls at times are very vicious ; 
they have a proboscis about a foot in length. 
While apparently unwieldy, they are capable 



THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 205 

of going over the beaches with surprising 
speed, advancing both flippers at a time and 
using them like crutches. 

In a half hour the two young people were in 
the vicinity of the coast. They approached 
cautiously, crawling on all fours and hiding be- 
hind crags and boulders, and saw in front of 
them a herd of perhaps six or seven "hauled 
up" for rest on the beach. Stoneman slowly 
climbed over some rather high rocks, moist and 
slippery, and finally got into position to take 
the photographs. He adjusted the camera 
carefully, poised himself, when suddenly the 
rock under him gave way and with a cry he 
crashed by the crags, falling heavily in a "wal- 
low" at the bottom. There was a terrible 
growl as if from the throats of a pack of giant 
dogs, the herd raised their heads to locate the 
noise and the one nearest continued his barking. 
Motionless and senseless Stoneman lay out- 
stretched within ten feet of this monster. 

Barstars suddenly appeared on the cliff some 
fifty yards away. He realized the danger to 



I 



2o6 THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 

Stoneman and fired at this animal, but the shot 
was not a fatal one, and the monster, filled 
with rage, made direct for the helpless figure 
before him. Miranda stood almost paralyzed 
with fear at the suddenness of the accident. 

Stoneman's chances were one in a million 
As the monster drew near he struck with his 
flipper and broke the arm of the prostrate man, 
then closed his teeth on the hood of the over- 
coat Stoneman was wearing. Nerved to des- 
peration Miranda raised her rifle, pressed it to 
her shoulder, aimed as if the target were but 
an inch in diameter, and fired. The monster 
gave one convulsive shudder and fell dead. 
The rest of the herd, frightened by the noise 
of the rifle, stampeded and glided into the sea. 
Miranda moved forward noiselessly and found, 
when she reached Stoneman and the dead 
elephant, that the man was mauled and bleed- 
ing. She raised him in her arms, felt his heart 
— it was still beating — and called to Barstars. 
Together they carried the wounded victim 
some yards nearer the camp. Slowly the 






THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 207 

young man opened his eyes. His effort to col- 
lect his thoughts were futile ; he was delirious. 
Are you hurt ?'' she cried. 
Funny," he muttered. 

"Tell me, tell me, are you hurt?" 

"This is going to be a great pic." He 
attempted to raise his left arm, but it fell help- 
less at his side. 

"Can you stand, dear?" she whispered. 

"Funny," he laughed. "I bet it's a good 
picture." 

Barstars placed a little brandy and water to 
the wounded man^s lips and helped him into a 
sitting position, and as he did so Stoneman 
looked around quizzically, with a smile on hi§ 
face. 

rU bet this is a fine picture," he said. 
Golly, Fm glad I got it." 

She sat by his side and gently drew his head 
to her breast, much as a mother with her in- 
jured child. 

"What are you glad you have ?" She spoke 
soothingly and her eyes filled with tears. 






2o8 THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 

"The picture. Fd do anything for you, you 
know I would. You wanted a picture and I 
got it for you, because there is nobody in the 
world I would rather get a picture for than 
you, you know that, don't you?" He spoke 
slowly and with painful effort. 

"Yes, I know it and appreciate it*' The 
gray eyes were almost blinded with tears. 

They carried him back to the hut, his mind 
still wandering and again and again he mur- 
mured : 

"You — know, — don't — ^you, — Fd — do — ^any- 
thing — in — the — world — for — ^you." 

And then she knew ! 



CHAPTER XVI 

The yacht's surgeon and the hospital steward 
came, dressed the sufferer's wounds and set 
his broken arm. The doctor considered the 
fall and the mauling from the infuriated 
animal most serious. The bruises and lacera- 
tions the young man had received as his body 
hurtled along the rocky cliff were painful in 
the extreme. To ease his suffering the physi- 
cian administered an opiate, and in a short 
while young Stoneman fell into a restless sleep. 
He woke in the morning, the soreness of his 
body almost unbearable. It required the 
greatest effort on his part to move at all. 
After the surgeon and his aides had dressed 
his wounds and made him as comfortable as 
conditions permitted, he was given a cup of tea 
and a slice of toast. 

While he was at breakfast Barstars came, 

apologizing for causing the mishap and 

209 



2IO THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 

blaming himself for not taking a better aim at 
the sea-elephant. "The monster was so near, 
I feared he would attack you and believed if I 
shot him, even if woimded, he would seek the 
ocean, but instead I simply set him crazy and 
he made that awful onslaught. Miss Bradley 
is to be congratulated on the magnificent shot 
she made. It is true that it was not a long 
distance shot/' he said, "but it was wonderfully 
effective, for it curled up the beast almost in- 
stantly.'' 

As Barstars departed from the sufferer's 
room Miranda entered. She sat beside 
Stoneman, sympathetically stroked his fore- 
head and asked how he felt. 

"Oh, I am all right," he said, pretending 
cheerfulness, "only I want you to know that 
the heaviest thing I have tried to move is this 
head of mine. Sap-head, pin-head, feather- 
brain, bone-head, wooden-head, are not the 
names for my dome." 

"You have never given me the impression 
of being light-headed," she said, smilingly. 



THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 211 

*'I don't believe a ton of pig iron weighs 
more than my head. It took me an hour to 
pry myself from my right side to my left/' 

''I can realize that. You must try to lie in 
one position as long as possible." 

"I will try, but you know uneasy lies the 
head that goes bumpety-bump down a young 
mountain-side." 

"It was an awful experience. If I was one 
of the hysterical kind I know I would have 
fainted or done something equally idiotic," said 
Miranda. 

"Barstars says you were wonderfully cool. 
Are you glad you saved me?" 

"You poor mauled-up sick man, — if you 
were well I'd scold you. Glad to save you? 
I am glad to save any one of the human 
family," 

"I do not want to be saved just because I 
am one of the human family," said Stoneman, 
pettishly. 

"Well, what would you like?" she ques- 
tioned. 



212 THE TRANSIT OF VENUS. 



(C 



1 would like to think you saved my life 
because it was my life.'* 

"You would not want me to be so heartless, 
would you, as to save a life only because it 
was yours ?" 

"I don't mean you would not under the con- 
ditions save any or all kinds of lives, but I 
would like to feel that you really went out of 
your way to save mine/' 

"But I didn't. The only thing out of the 
ordinary in the entire proceeding was that we 
started out together without a chaperon, and 
only one time before have we been alone." 

"And that was—" 

He knew, but he wanted to hear her say 
it— 

"When we sat under the stars." 

He mused, "When we sat under the stars. 
Do you know from that night stars have be- 
come a part of my life? I am a zealot, a 
heathen in my worship of the stars, because 
the first time we were alone, we sat under the 
stars." 



THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 213 

"That would delight the soothsayers and 
astronomers/' 

"Don't you believe in the stars," he asked, 
"as a medium of telling the future?" 

" I never decry what I cannot prove to be 
false, so I am in the position of the 'gentleman 
from Missouri/ " 

"Well, lots of people claim to have been 
shown." 

"And therefore derive a pleasure in culti- 
vating an acquaintance with the heavenly 
bodies. Unfortunately, that pleasure is denied 
me. My study has been in following the 
course, the formation, the distance, the compo- 
sition of the planets, the comets and the other 
phenomena 'of the heavens. I have neither the 
time nor the inclination to bother about their in- 
fluence on individual men, whatever they may 
have on our planet." 

"But Napoleon and other great men believed 
in the science of the stars as applied to the 
individual." 

"True, if it pleased them. Their reward for 



214 THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 

their belief was sufficient. We have reason to 
assert if Mars and Venus, Mercury and the 
others have the power to tell us our individual 
story, our individual destiny, our individual 
voyage through life, it is just as reasonable to 
suppose that our planet must tell their dwellers 
their destiny, their course, their life, their for- 
tune/' 

"A sort of favor for favors received," he 
said. 

''Yes; suppose a Martian about to read the 
riddle of his life takes his astrolabe, and be- 
gins his divination from our planet." 

"I am following you." 

"He gets in touch, we will say, with that part 
of our globe we call the New York Stock Ex- 
change." 

"What then?" 

"I leave you to ponder in your mind what 
the answer would be. Then suppose he fixes 
his telescope on Maine, prohibition Maine, the 
answer would probably be 'Look not on the 
wine when it is red, nor on the whiskey when 



THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 215 
it IS Rye, Irish or Scotch, if you would sit in 



9 99 



the councils of the greatJ 

'Then you think astrology is a very uncer- 
tain process ?" 

"This, I do believe : at the beginning, the re- 
ligion of man was guided by fear, a fear born 
of ignorance; as his senses multiplied there 
came a divine revelation which showed a bene- 
volent God, not a tyrannical destroying one, 
and the change was from fear to courage, and 
from terror to love, and from despair to hope." 

'Then superstition finds no lodgment in 
your mind?'* 

"Well, I think it is bad luck to kill a cat/' 

"You dor 

"Yes, for the cat. Still," Miranda added, 
"there are a lot of superstitions that are really 
beneficial to the human race." 

"Such as—" 

"When I was a tiny tot if I went outdoors to 
play and immediately came running back, hav- 
ing forgotten something, my mother made me 
sit down and repeat a prayer. It didn't make 



2i6 THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 

any difference what the prayer was about, I 
had to repeat it slowly and reverentially/' 

"What was the intention?" 

"To make me thoughtful so I would not lose 
the precious moments of play with my com- 
panions, which if it grew into a habit would 
make me lose many precious moments during 
life/' 

"I think it was Lord Bacon who said : 'Man 
observes when things hit and not when they 
miss/ They remember the first and forget 
the other/' 

"Now be a good patient and obedient young 
man and go to sleep/' 

"If I do will you come back again ?" 

"Yes, this afternoon/' 

"And please don't let any one else come with 
you/' 

"Oh, you are like the Irishman who said he 
loved to be alone/' 

"I do not love to be alone, but I love to be 
alone—" 

— As I was saying, like the Irishman 



(( 



THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 217 

who loved to be alone — with his sweetheart." 
And she raised a finger in a questioning way. 

"That's it, his sweetheart," he said. But 
she was gone. 

As the days prolonged into weeks she read 
poetry, romance, history, mathematics, as- 
tronomy and much else to him. If perchance 
there occurred a sentence containing the word 
"sweetheart," he would interrupt and say, 
"You remember, you said that word to me the 
first day I was sick." 

And she remembered and knew it was about 
an Irishman, and she would again tell the story, 
and would laughingly rejoin "Irishmen do say 
awfully witty things, don't you think?" 

"Don't you know some other stories Vith 
sweetheart' in them to-day ?" 

"My mental catalogue of love stories is very 
limited," she answered, "and I have read you 
all the novels we have." 

"Can't you make up a story about a young 
girl like you, and a down and out fellow like 
me, and an old blatherskite like Curlip ?" 



2i8 THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 

"Why, Mr. Curlip was very much interested 
in your condition, and when we were down 
among the crags looking for skau's eggs he 
said he was sorry you were so reckless and in 
consequence got knocked out/' 

"Did you take him with you ?" asked the in- 
valid, impetuously. 

"I invited him.'* 

"I do not think it is right for you to go hunt- 
ing skau's eggs without a chaperon.'* 

"But by the same token I went sea-elephant 
hunting with you without a chaperon.'* 

"But I am different, you see;*' — then, sud- 
denly, "Did he get the eggs ?" 

"No, indeed; FU tell you something about 
them.'* She held his hand and stroked it. "A 
skau looks very much like a buzzard-hawk, only 
when you get near him, he is web-footed and 
yet, strange to say, avoids water and preys 
upon other birds like the eagle and the hawk. 
He will fight a man if an attempt is made to 
rob his nest, and is very dangerous. His beak 
is his weapon and can be very formidable." 



THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 219 

"Did Curlip get the eggs?'' asked the in- 
valid, peevishly. 

"No, indeed; we were very much like the 
preacher who sent his hat around the congrega- 
tion for contributions, and when it was re- 
turned he found it just as empty as when it 
started on its travels, and immediately offered 
a prayer of thanksgiving for the return of his 
head-gear. We were delighted to escape with 
our eyes; the vicious birds swooped down and 
tried to strike and blind us." 

"You mustn't take such chances. How did 
you get away?" 

"Just as Mr. Curlip found a nest in the grass 
the skaus came. I had a cane and defended 
myself from them, while both of us ran for 
our lives, he shouting at the birds and waving 
his arms over me all the time." 

"Was it necessary for him to wave his arms 
over you?" said Stoneman, very seriously. 

"He thought so." 

"Well, I don't. He should have let you run 



\ 



220 THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 

ahead and he should have fought the skaus 
alone/' 

"I think both of us thought discretion was 
the better part of valor.'* 

"Wait until I get well. I will get the eggs 
for you." 

"Now, my dear man," said Miranda, ''you 
will do nothing of the sort. They are not 
worth the risk. These birds put up a fight for 
their nests as vicious as a she-bear will for her 
cubs." 

"I suppose Curlip is blowing about how he 
saved your life." 

"I haven't heard him say anything, but if 
you wish I will ask him to come and give you 
an unabridged version of his adventure," said 
Miranda, mischievously. 

"I don't want to hear it," said the young 
man. 

"Well, then, be a good little boy and go to 
sleep." And after smoothing out his pillow 
and tucking the blankets snugly about him she 
tip-toed from the room. 



THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 221 

The day of days for the expedition arrived. 
The observation of the transit was a superb 
success. The sky was clear, the sun shone 
brightly, and the little black disc we call Venus, 
situated between our planet and the sun, be- 
haved like a real lady, and photographs and 
data of value were obtained. 

A week after the transit, everything was in 
readiness to depart. The photographic plates 
were carefully sealed and placed in a large 
portfolio. As Miranda had done this most 
valuable work, she was given charge of the 
plates and placed them in the steamer trunk in 
her cabin. Anchor was weighed and the 
Southern Cross started homeward, up through 
that sunless, rainy, hailing, snowy part of the 
world, known to the sailorman as "No Man's 
Land." They came into the sunshine of the 
Indian Ocean, then sailed along the east coast 
of Africa and cast anchor at Zanzibar, the 
capital of the island of that name. 



CHAPTER XVII 

During the three days required to take on 
coal and provisions, the party went sigfhtseeing. 
Young Stoneman had completely recovered 
from his wounds and was gradually regaining 
his strength. There was an English hunting 
expedition fitting out for a trip into the in- 
terior of Africa, and Barstars became greatly 
interested. On the morning of the day the 
yacht was to sail north he came aboard and 
announced his intention of going with the ex- 
pedition. He had received an invitation from 
an old acquaintance with whom he had hunted 
in the Rocky Mountains year before. Bar- 
stars' baggage was taken ashore, and of the 
original five only Curlip now remained. At 
four the Southern Cross steamed for Alexan- 
dria. The trip was uneventful, save for a per- 
sistent attempt at the wooing of Miranda by 
Curlip. 

222 [ 



ii' 



THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 223 

"You know/' he said, one evening while they 
were promenading the deck, "your views re- 
garding a man who has had three wives struck 
me as very sensible." 

'And what were they? Fve forgotten." 
That a man must be a regular reservoir of 
love when he can woo three women successfully 
and bring them to the altar." 

"Well, that goes on the theory that such a 
man is always in love. The object may change 
but he remains faithful to the emotion." 

"Well, then, I have been in love ever since I 
came aboard this yacht." 
'How astonishing!" 
'And you are the object of that affection." 

"No, not I. You surely don't mean it," 
Miranda exclaimed. 

"I do, and pour out to you the full measure 
of my heart's adoration, and I crave just a little 
of your love in return." 

"One moment. Let me ask you a question. 
Was your first wife your first love?" 

"Undoubtedly." 






224 THE TRANSIT OF VENUS. 

"And your second wife your second love?'* 

"Unquestionably." 

"And your third wife your third love ?'* 

"I admit it." 

"Who's your fourth wife?" 

"I never had a fourth." 

"Who was your fourth love?" 

"She deceived me." 

"How?" 

"She refused to marry me after I secured my 
third divorce." 

Why did she refuse ?" 
1 am led to believe a richer man than myself 
came in sight." 

^Did she marry him ?" 

^No, he got some funny wheels in his head 
about not perpetuating his faults and possibly 
carrying them into later generations, and there- 
fore dropped out of the picture." 

"Now, my dear Mr. Curlip, I can clearly see 
your duty and you must see it. You must not 
marry any other woman until you have dis- 
posed of this fourth love." 






(r 



THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 225 

"But she refused me/' 

"True, but she may not the next time. It's 
her turn, and no other woman's. Let me quote 
you a few axioms to hearten you. Tersever- 
ance is irresistible," says Sertorius. Mont- 
gomery wouldn't have given in as you want to, 
for his words are 'Hope against hope, and ask 
till you receive.' Richard Monckton Milnes 
puts it this way, The virtue lies in the struggle, 
not the prize,' So, you see, she should be the 
object of your striving." 

"But I want you as the prize. I don't want 
to struggle for a girl I haven't seen for three 
years." 

"Nay, nay, Mr. Curlip, I could not, even if I 
loved you with all the heart I have, be happy 
in the thought that maybe your mind would 
stray at times to her. Besides that, no man or 
woman with any sense of honor would usurp 
a place belonging to another." 

"But I told you she dropped me for another 
fellow." 

"It is not for you to use that against her. 



226 THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 

Remember, if you do not succeed, try, try 
again." 

"Please think over my proposal, M — M — 
Miss Bradley." 

'T will, rest assured, but I'm not of any 
value as a second violin, and that lady it seems 
to me should be the first violin in your orchestra 
of life." 

After arriving at Alexandria, the captain, 
Curlip, Stoneman and Miranda made a trip to 
Cairo. Of course they visited all the places of 
interest. They saw the Pyramids, they had a 
boat ride on the Nile, a trip to the mosques 
and the tombs, a lunch at the observatory, a 
view of the island where Moses was supposed 
to have been found by Pharoah's daughter; 
they took donkey rides, they made a pilgrimage 
to the Coptic monks at Malarit to gaze upon 
the *' Virgin Tree" where the Holy Family is 
supposed to have rested in the flight to Egypt, 
they visited the ostrich farms and they went to 
the opera. 



^. 



THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 227 

The advertisement of the opera read — "First 
appearance in Cairo of Signorina Annetta 
,Borroi in Verdi's masterpiece Aida!' Stone- 
man engaged a box. Aida was one of his 
favorite operas. As they took their seats, the 
house already presented a brilliant scene, with 
the official life of the city, European women 
vying with their Egyptian sisters in richness of 
apparel and the worth of their jewels. 

The members of the orchestra filed in to their 
places and the prelude of the opera softly fell 
on listening ears. The scene opened in the 
Hall of the King's Palace at Memphis. 
Radames and Ramfis conversed regarding the 
rumored invasion of the King of Ethiop. Then 
followed, Radames' Romance, "Celeste Aida," 
then the duet of Amneris and Radames, and 
then Aida appeared upon the scene. Stone- 
man and Curlip showed unusual interest and 
gazed with great intensity at the entrance of 
the singer, and both exclaimed : 

"Why, it's Nancy Burroughs !" 



-? 



228 THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 



Curlip added, "It's Nancy, sure as taxes." 

"You gentlemen evidently know the lady," 
whispered Miranda. 

"Know her!" said Curlip. "She's the 
'fourth one' I told you about." 

"I have known Miss Burroughs quite well," 
Stoneman spoke quietly. 

At the end of the act he sent in his card to- 
gether with Curlip's to the lady. The answer 
came back that she would be delighted to see 
them at the close of the performance. As the 
curtain descended on the last scene of the play, 
a scene ranking among the most effective in the 
entire range of tragic opera, beautiful in the 
simplicity of its melody, its dramatic construc- 
tion and marvelous appeal, the applause was 
long and persistent ; the principals came forth 
to bow their acknowledgment, Radames, 
Amneris and Aida, then Radames and Aida, 
and then Aida, alone. Nancy Burroughs had 
made a triumph. 

Curlip and his party found their way to 



THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 229 

Nancy's dressing-room. She was waiting for 
them, and after introductions she said : 

*'Well, the world is pretty small. Who 
would have thought that here in distant Egypt 
I should meet my two beaux of my student 
days/' — She extended a hand to each of the 
two men. 

Curlip looked at Stoneman with some sur- 
prise and muttered, "So you were the fellow 
that tried to cut me out." 

"You are certainly good for sore eyes," said 
Nancy. "I am dying to know what you have 
been doing since I saw you last," — 

"And I am dying to know what you have 
been doing, Nancy. You surely have made 
good and I am proud of you." This enthu- 
siasm of Curlip was genuine. 

"Do you sing to-morrow?" asked Miranda. 

"No; that is my day off. I have days off 
just like any other hired girl," she said. 

"Well then, what do you say to a dinner 
party to-morrow evening," suggested Miranda. 

"That suits me." 



230 THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 

Time and place settled, they started out and 
Stoneman said, "Please remember, we dine at 
six." 

We speak of institutions, events and func- 
tions, but how completely a dinner can be listed 
under these three heads. A diplomatic dinner 
may change the destiny of a nation, — that is an 
event; as an institution it is as necessary for 
the cannibal who asks for a second helping of 
missionary as the Emperor who asks for a 
second helping of mutton; as a function, it 
brings congenial souls together and is the dis- 
tributing center of one-half of all the stories 
of the world, besides exercising the inventive 
skill of the chef. Well does Byron say : — 

"All human history attests, 

That happiness for man — ^the hunger served. 

Since Eve ate apples, much depends on dinner." 

When the dinner-hour came there gathered 
together in the private dining-room at Shep- 
herd's, Nancy and Miranda, Curlip and Stone- 
man. Captain Bradley was forced to go back 
to Alexandria on business. 



THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 231 

*'Well, Nancy, tell us about yourself," said 
Curlip. 

"Well, to begin at the beginning/' said 
Nancy, "just after I last saw you, — that is now 
more nearly four years, I lost my father.*' 
"How sad!" said Miranda, sympathetically. 
Three years ago I lost my mother." 
Tour mother dead !" exclaimed Curlip. 
^No, not dead — but married again." 



at 
it' 
if 

"Oh !" came from the listeners. 

"Mother felt I was old enough to take care 



of myself." 

"In my opinion, no girl is too young to take 
care of herself — if she cares for herself," said 
the experienced Curlip. 

"Very true, but mother guided my baby foot- 
steps until I was past thirty and you know I am 
now thirty-four." 

"Nonsense, — ^you don't look twenty- four," 
said the gallant Stoneman. 

"Eddie, don't wrench your conscience by 
saying that. I am five years your senior. I 
was afraid on one occasion you were going to 



232 THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 

propose to me, and while I would have married 
you for mother's sake, I did not relish having a 
husband younger than myself." 

"I can appreciate that. A woman of 
seventy — sixty — ^fifty or even forty, to marry a 
man just out of his teens, can glory in it, even 
if fun is poked at her afterwards. I suppose 
the mothering instinct grows with age. A 
woman of thirty wants her own babies, not 
adopted ones in the shape of a husband," said 
Miranda. 

"To continue," said the vivacious Nancy, 
"funds were getting low, so I got a position in 
the choir of one of the most fashionable 
churches in New York, and one day after the 
services at which I sang, an old lady stopped 
me on leaving the church and invited me to 
dinner. She evinced great interest in my 
voice and asked what was my ambition. I said 
to go to Italy and study for the operatic stage. 
The chances for appearance in opera in 
America, without European reputation are 
slight. 'Why don't you go ?' she asked. 'Be- 



THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 233 

cause I haven't the means/ I replied. 'I will 
arrange for that/ she said, and three years ago 
I arrived in Italy, six months ago I made my 
debut in Milan and here I am in Cairo." 

"That sounds like a fairy tale," said young 
Stoneman. 

"Now, Eddie, tell me all about yourself. 
Have you still got those wheels in your head 
about your race dying with you ?" 

"Oh, tell me all about it," eagerly exclaimed 
Miranda. Stoneman for the first time in his life 
blushed, which is never becoming in a man even 
if it be considered attractive in the gentler 
sex. 

"Well," said the voluble Nancy, "Eddie here 
gave me a party — oh, such a party! the whole 
town talked about it." 

"And my father came on to see what it was 
all about," Stoneman added. 

"And before his paternal ancestor completed 
the investigation he had persuaded this dear 
little boy here that he was a potential pirate, 
murderer, thief, second-story man and mid- 



234 THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 

night assassin/* said Nancy with a melodra- 
matic air. 

"And, therefore," interjected Miranda, "all 
these defects in his make-up should die with 
him and — " 

"Forbade him to marry and perpetuate the 
criminal within him." 

"You don't look it, old chap" said Curlip, but 
added mysteriously, "one never can tell." 

"And that's why he never has married," the 
young singer announced, with mischief lurking 
in her eyes. 

"Far be it from me to contradict a lady," said 
Stoneman with much gravity. "My grand- 
mother always impressed on my youthful mind 
that the proper conduct of life was never to 
contradict a lady, but if I never had had that 
advice I certainly would say that Miss Bur- 
roughs is slightly mistaken." 

"Oh, Eddie, you know you told me you never 
would marry." 

"Yes, but"— 

"But what"— 



THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 235 

"Oh, I do not think it is necessary to make a 
distinction between reasons," said Miranda. 
"It is enough that you never will marry, — a 
particular reason is of no avail." 

"It is of avail. Miss Bradley," said Stone- 
man warmly, and then without the minutest 
sense of humor he continued, "if I was for- 
bidden to marry because I was a potential 
pirate and murderer, there would be no hope 
for me. Ever-present would be the desire to 
become these objects of hate, fear and con- 
tempt, but the argument between my father 
and myself was one of responsibility." 

"You remember, Eddie, you threw the re- 
sponsibility for your coming on earth on your 
poor old dad, and he admitted it with the deduc- 
tion that the family name should die with you. 
Now admit it," and Nancy raised her forefinger 
coquettishly. 

"That practically covers it, but I'm getting a 
change of heart." 

"By what influence?" 

"No influence — experience. I cannot get 



236 THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 

I 

away from the fact that I am very fond of 
life. As one fellow puts it, you're dead a 
long time. I want to live a long time. When 
we were at Kerguelen, I met with an accident 
and had it not been for Miss Bradley no doubt 
it would have ended fatally for me." 

"Well, what has that to do with your case,'* 
said Curlip. 

"I thought, what a wonderful thing it was 
that Miss Bradley's parents met each other, 
fell in love and brought into the world a brave 
girl who, in the moment of danger, saved my 
life and—" 

"And, by that system of reasoning," inter- 
rupted Miranda, "if my parents never had mar- 
ried a tragedy would have been enacted at 
Kerguelen Island." 

"That's it," answered Stoneman. 

"Thank you for the information, now I know 
my mission in life. I was predestined to go to 
the farthest ends of the earth to save a young 
man from being mauled to death by ferocious 
sea-elephants." 



THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 237 

"Oh, tell me all about it," begged Nancy. 

"Mr. Curlip can tell you the story better than 
Mr. Stoneman or I and when you lunch with 
him to-morrow"— 

"But, I haven't heard anything about 
lunch." 

"But you will; I can see the unmistakable in- 
vitation protruding from his countenance. 
Can't I, Mr. Curlip ?" And Miranda looked at 
the older man with twinkling eyes. 

"Yes, yes. How did you guess it?" 

"How did I guess it? Why, a wooden In- 
dian would jump to the conclusion that here 
were two, a man and a woman, beau and 
beauty. Strangers nearly always become 
friends in foreign climes, friends become lovers 
and lovers become" — 

"What time is the luncheon?" Nancy asked 
Curlip. 

"Make it one," he promptly replied, "but of 
course Miss Bradley and Mr, Stoneman will 
join us." 

"Of course we won't," Miranda said, posi- 



238 THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 

tively. "I am going to invite Mr. Stoneman 
to lunch with me. Will you accept my invita- 
tion.'' She turned toward him and the light in 
her quiet eyes was a beacon of hope. 

Curlip read the look, and knew then there 
was but one man that interested Miranda, and 
that man was not himself. He looked at 
Nancy admiringly and concluded that a rose 
was dearer to his heart than a lily. Therefore 
both luncheons were successes as luncheons go, 
one of them unusually so, for the bringing of 
two separated hearts together. If a fellow 
kisses a willing girl, say, when he is twenty and 
she is eighteen, if there is no impediment, the 
chances are more than equal, should they again 
meet when he is forty, they will kiss again as a 
matter of custom. 

Therefore, Nancy and Curlip started where 
they had left off four years before. With 
wonderful foresight Curlip had the engage- 
ment ring in his pocket and, with many pretty 
compliments, placed it on the willing finger of 
the fair singer. From that episode a trip to a 



THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 239 

jeweler's for the selection of a wedding ring 
was a matter of minutes and the next day they 
were married. 

Curlip telegraphed the yacht for his bag- 
gage, and he remained at Cairo with his bride 
until the close of t^ie season. Nancy's next 
engagement was to bring her to the Metro- 
politan Opera House in New York, 



CHAPTER XVIII 

''Have just said farewell to Nancy and Mr. 
Curlip/' wrote Miranda, in her diary. ''If she 
doesn't make a man out of that egotistical 
brute, my discernment is of no value. He will 
be Miss Burroughs's husband and she will have 
him in a month's time eating out of her hand ! 

"Every time a member of the 'delectable 
five' left us, the boat seemed to grow larger 
and the air purer, and now that the last one has 
departed, the yacht seems five times roomier 
than before/ 

"I don't know how I am ever to tell Mr. 

Stoneman what an abject fraud I have been. 

From the first day I met the Alimony Club men, 

with malice prepense, I have acquiesced in all 

their more or less idiotic views about women. 

Not one of them, if I can except Mr. Anderson, 

has the remotest idea on the subject. They 

240 



THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 241 

draw their deductions from their own narrow 
point of view, and dismiss the entire sex with 
their supposed knowledge of one. There is 
nothing more unfair than that, for men do not 
judge men by the carload, but by the individual, 
and these brutes want to place their strictures 
on the whole sex very much as horses for sale 
in a corral are disposed of by numbers instead 
of breed or disposition. 

"Of course, I had to feed their vanity or 
they would not have allowed me to remain on 
board, and I knew one of the ways was to snub 
the young man of the party. I wonder if 
Edward Stoneman realizes !" 

Ponta Delgada, in the Azores, provided the 
next stopping-place for the Southern Cross. 
As soon as the yacht was at anchor, she was 
boarded by several newspaper correspondents, 
seeking information from the captain on the 
result of his expedition and the success of his 
observations. Captain Bradley's party was 
the first of the expeditions to return from the 
Orient and there was keen rivalry among the 



242 THE TILWSIT OF \XXUS 

corresprmdcnts of the newspapers of America 
and Europe to get a "scoop.^ Captain Brad- 
ley, Miramla and Stoneman received the party 
in the library of the yacht, and the captain gave 
a full account of the expedition, its work and 
its triumphs. 

f)nc individual, calling himself Von Stuef en, 
asked whether it was possible to see the n^;a- 
tivcs of the photographs of the Transit 

''No/' replied the captain. "They are securely 
Irxrked in a box and are kept in Miss Bradlejr's 
stateroom. She is largely responsible for the 
success of the expedition, and the photographic 
plates have been entrusted to her care." 

"My paper/' said the German, "is anxious to 
secure pictures of the event before the other 
expeditions arrive in Europe, and will pay 
handsomely for the privilege/' 

"I regret/' said the captain, "it isn't a mat- 
ter of monej^, but purely one of patriotism. 
The first publicity of the fruits of our voyage 
is to be made in America. After that the 
world is welcome to them." 



THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 243 

"Very well/' replied Von Stuefen. I will 
wait until the German Expedition arrives/* 

At the request of Von Stuefen, the captain 
took his passengers on a tour of inspection of 
the yacht. The German asked more questions 
about the boat than all the rest combined, and 
was particularly interested in the staterooms. 
He did not fail to single out Miranda's, by the 
telltale articles of feminine use — curling- 
irons, powder-puffs, high-heeled shoes and 
long silk stockings. The captain opened the 
trunk in Miranda's room, and said, "There re- 
pose the fruits of our voyage and observa- 
tion." 

All of this Von Stuefen noted with extreme 
care. 

In the afternoon, liberty was given the crew 
and only the lookout watch was left aboard, 
and Miranda, the captain and Stoneman also 
went ashore on a sightseeing visit. 

At ten they returned. The captain and 
Stoneman went to the former's room to have a 
nightcap and a cigar. Miranda, tired and 



244 THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 

sleepy after an unusually strenuous day, bade 
them good night and retired. 

Except for the occasional sweep of the oars 
of some passing boat or the **kick" of a launch, 
absolute silence prevailed in the harbor. 

A small rowboat silently reached the stem 
of the Southern Cross, then glided along the 
side of the vessel to the landing-bridge, and 
two men, cautiously and noiselessly, ascended 
the steps, keeping well within the shadow of 
the boat. They reached the top of the gang- 
way, crouching and tiptoeing, and then passed 
along the promenade-deck outside the upper 
staterooms. Suddenly the one in advance 
touched the other on the arm and took from his 
pocket a bottle and a handkerchief. They 
were under the window of Miranda's state- 
room. The window was open and the regular 
breathing of a sleeper could be heard. The 
leader — ^Von Stuefen — whispered to his con- 
federate, telTing him to creep around the com- 
panionway and hide himself in front of 
stateroom No. 7. "When I touch the door 



THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 245 

with a gentle rap, you open it, and, at the left 
of the door you will find a trunk ; lift the lid and 
you will find at the top a large black portfolio. 
Hand it to me through the window and get 
back to the rowboat as soon as possible. Wait 
for me there." 

Saturating the handkerchief with chloro- 
form, he wound it about the ferrule of his cane 
and, following the sound of the sleeper's steady 
breathing, he extended the handkerchief into the 
window and pressed it against the mouth and 
nose of the sleeping girl. After holding it 
there for some time, he withdrew the cane and 
rapped softly on the door, at the same time 
turning on a flashlight. The sleeper was un- 
conscious. The door opened, the confederate 
crept in, raised the lid of the trunk and took the 
portfolio out, handing it to Von Stuef en. The 
man immediately withdrew, closing the door 
noiselessly. He crept along the narrow prom- 
enade and disappeared. Picking up the port- 
folio, Von Stuefen walked towards the gang- 
way, when suddenly he bumped into a figure 



246 THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 

coming from the opposite direction. It was 
Stoneman. 

"Hello! Who's this?" asked Stoneman, at 
the same moment striking a light. 

"Oh, it's only I," said the man, "I have just 
left the captain." 

"You' ve done what ?" 

"I've just left the captain." 

"You're a liar," said Stoneman, and he 
wrenched the up-raised cane from the other's 
hands. "Throw up your hands before I shoot 
you." 

The frightened Von Stuefen put down the 
portfolio and raised his arms in supplication, 
as Stoneman's revolver was poked in his face. 

"Watch ahoy," shouted the young man. 

The watch came. 

"Call the captain." The captain was there 
in a moment. At the same time, the sound of 
a boat, hastily rowed, was heard to leeward. 

Stoneman carried the portfolio of plates, the 
watch held Von Stuefen firmly in arrest, and 
the captain led the way into the messroom. 



THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 247 

The captain recognized the intruder. "You 
were the man that wanted to buy these plates 
this morning and when you found you couldn't 
get them, you came here to steal them and, in 
that way, have us return to America with our 
labor for our pains." 

The man was silent. 

"Did you notice the flag we are flying?" said 
the captain. 

"Yes," he mumbled. "It's the Stars and 
Stripes." 

"Exactly, the Stars and Stripes mean 
America. So, master-at-arms, lock this man 
up, and when we get to New York, we'll find 
out what he means by trespassing on American 
property." 

The man was taken away to the brig, while 
the captain took the plates and locked them in 
his own iron-bound chest, to remain there 
until the yacht reached Amercia. 

"Wait till I see if Miranda is awake," said 
the captain suddenly, and tiptoed to her cabin. 
He rapped; there was no answer. He 



248 THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 

rapped louder; still no answer. Then he 
opened the door softly; the strong odor of 
chloroform filled the air. He turned on the 
light, and called to her. She did not answer. 
Horrified at the thought that she might be 
dead, he shook her, then shouted, "For God*s 
sake, tell Dr. Kayder to come. 

The telltale handkerchief had fallen from 
her face. The doctor came quickly and put 
his head to her heart. It was beating with 
all the strength of youth and health. 

• When Miranda was restored to conscious- 
ness she was told of the attempted robbery. 

"And the plates ?" she asked. 

"Safe in my iron chest, thanks to Stoneman's 
quickness in getting the thief before he could 
get away." 

She held out both hands to her uncle and 
said, "Please tell Mr. Stoneman I will thank 
him when I see him to-morrow.*' 

Stoneman was on the other side of the door 
and heard her. His heart began to thump. It is 
strange how easily some hearts start thumping. 



THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 249 

The next morning they were on -their way 
again. 

One evening, as they were coming within 
hailing distance of "God's own country," the 
two were standing near the bow, looking wist- 
fully westward towards the home of their 
hearts, the haven of their hopes. 

"IVe been thinking," said Miranda, "what a 
wonderful event it was when your father and 
mother were born !" 

Why?" 

Because they married each other." 

"And?" 

"God gave them you for a son." 

He looked at her curiously. 

"If we had lost the pictures of Venus, my 
heart would have been broken, but, of course, 
you saved them and — saved my heart." 

"And you think it was a wise provision of 
Nature, that brought me on earth ?" 

"I do," she whispered. 

"And I think it was a wise provision of 
Nature, that brought you on earth," he said. 






250 THE TRANSIT OF VEXUS 

And then — if the Statue of Liberty had 
shaded her eves she would not have witnessed 
a long dravk-n kiss of lo^-e. 

Two days later Mr. John Stonexnan received 
this letter from his son : 

^'Dear Dad: 

**Ju&t got back from long trip. Mj views about re- 



sponsibility are rotten. Yours about hereditjr eqnaDy 
so. My bookkeeper tells me I have drawn from jron 
to date $484*767.52 for which find my dieck enclosed. 
**She is the sweetest thing on earth. Her name is 
Miranda Bradley. And the wedding takes phce next 
Tuesday. Come.*' 



THE END 



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