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3 3433 07602207 2
THE TRANSIT OF
\ J ,^J^ u I Uv\ viv\-t w C ^-■
THE TRANSIT OF VENUS
THE TRANSIT OF VENUS
THE NEW YORK 1
ASTflR. LKNUX AND
TRANSIT OF VENUS
JOHN PHILIP ^OUSA
Author of "The Fifth String," "Pipetown Sandy,"
'Through the Year with Sousa"
SMALL, MAYNARD & COMPANY
THE SEW YORK
A:.':;:!7. LKNOX AND
TiLL/L.!* 1 i)i..\UA'i^UNS
By small, MAYNARD k COMPANY
THE TRANSIT OF VENUS
THE TRANSIT OF VENUS
"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,
■^ ■» •* 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
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
"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
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"
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
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-
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
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
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
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
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
"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."
At nine the next morning, Edward Stone-
man was awakened by the ringing of the tele-
"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
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-
"If you mean me as a desirable, you're
"She wouldn't turn down a handsome chap
of twenty-six, with pleasant prospects, would
"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-
"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
"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
"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-
"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
"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
''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
"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
*'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
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
"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."
"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
"I have a well of affection. I give it to you
freely — ^you have a mint of money, you give
"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
"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
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-
"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."
''I never might have married. But my fa-
ther melted under my diaphanous arguments,
delivered with sledge-hammer force, through
"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
"Then I must accept your theory of host and
guest,'' quickly replied the father.
"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-
"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
"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,
"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
"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."
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
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
** 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-
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
"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
"Friend or nuisance/' asked Mother Bur-
"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
"Cross? Why before he got through with
me, my mentality was beaten into such a pulp,
you could have squeezed it into a peanut
"We have understood he has been very sue-
40 THE TRANSIT OF VENUS
cessful in business/' said the mother, with in-
*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
"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-
"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
"Does any one agree with your father ?" the
"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
" You said he was cross with you ?" the
" 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
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.
"By never marrying, falling in love, or be-
''Jiist hear him !" and Nancy laughed boister-
*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
"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-
"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-
"I am too, mother, for he's the cause of my
losing the man I preferred."
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
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
46 THE TRANSIT OF VENUS
original firm called on matters of business, and
this kind of dialogue would take place,
''Is Mr. Baxter in?''
"When do you expect him?*'
"Not expecting him, sir."
"He's dead, sir."
"Oh!" Then, after a long pause, "Can I
see Mr. Higgins?'
"Not very well, sir.'
" '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-
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
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
"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-
"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
"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-
"Haven't time for investigation — ^just buy
and we'll look into the companies later."
"As you desire," said the perplexed man-
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
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
"No, of course not. I am more than ever
THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 53
convinced of the necessity of following my
"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
"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-
"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
"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."
"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
"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-
"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
"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
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?"
Advance and give the countersign!"
"You're under arrest! Corporal of the
guard!" calls the sentry.
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.
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 :
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
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-
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
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'*
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 :
It is the duty of every member to familiarize him-
self with the rules and intents of the club.
The name of this association is The Alimony Club
of the United States of America.
Its motto: "Woman, Nature's blunder,
She could be heaven, but elects to be
No applicant for membership is eligible who has not
been divorced and pays alimony.
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.
Members are dropped when alimony ceases.
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
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."
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
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
"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
"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-
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
"Your niece?" asked Barstars, incredu-
"My niece. She had often helped her father
in his astronomical work and is thoroughly
equipped as a scientist."
"How lucky !" Skaggs interjected, sarcastic-
"She knew the importance of this expedi-
tion and offered her services." The captain
"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
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-
"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?
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
"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-
"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?"
"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-
"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
"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
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-
"She brought it on herself!" retorted
"Granted, Mr. Skaggs, but I intended to add,
it's a duty we owe to future generations."
"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-
"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,"
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-
"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
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.
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!"
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,"
"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.
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
"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
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-
"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
"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
"Not graciously," said the unforgiving Cur-
lip. "We have made a virtue of what seems a
"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
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
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.
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
"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 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-
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
"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-
" 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.
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
'I certainly suffered,* I added.
Then the symptom disappeared?' said the
'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 ?'
" 'You have a very common affliction.'
" 'What's the cause of it, doctor ?' I im-
" '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?'
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
" '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
" '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-
94 THE TRANSIT OF VENUS
''Do you believe that the doctor's views were
correct?" said Curlip, maliciously addressing
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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-
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
"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
"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
"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
"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-
"Not so much so as ducks are polyandric,"
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
"Good night," they answered.
The captain left almost immediately and the
six passengers had the dining-room to them-
"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-
"It's women that spoil women," added
"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
"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
"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?"
"Because the captain misled us when he said,
'Gentlemen, there is a woman aboard/ " said
"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.
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
104 THE TRANSIT OF VENUS
of the realm in England and Scotland is a
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-
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
"Good morning," came the cheerful re-
"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
"My attitude towards women."
"Oh, I think your attitude is justified by ex-
"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-
"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-
"Undoubtedly. What I wish to impress on
your mind is that there is no rule in the Ali-
mony Club preventing any member from
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
"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."
"I am sure Mr. Curlip and myself will enjoy
"Yes, Miss Bradley and myself have con-
cluded seven-thirty is the proper hour for
"Besides, Mr. Curlip and myself are fond of
discussing matters of both public and private
interest — "
"Which," said Curlip, with a sneer, "I opine
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
"He's slightly sarcastic, don't you think,
"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-
I shall behave, don't fear," said Stoneman.
Breakfast is an important meal with me, and,
coupled with Curlip's wisdom, will become ab-
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?"
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
"Sir, you're insulting!" exclaimed Scrog-
"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.
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-
"He is certainly not in accord with your
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
"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
"It usually starts/' said Scroggins, shaking
his head sorrowfully, "with harping on a thou-
"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
"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
"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
" '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-
" '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 ?'
124 THE TRANSIT OF VENUS
'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-
"Now, comrade, tell your story, confine it to
short chapters and shorter words," Skaggs
"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
"I came home. It was about four a. m. 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-
"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
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
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
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
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 —
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
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
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
"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
"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
" '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-
" '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
"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
" 'Do you agree with your mother ?' asked
my mother, slowly and pointedly.
" *My mind is as my mother's,' said my wife,
144 THE TRANSIT OF VENUS
Then you are not fit to bear my son's
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-
" '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
''Strong language!" said Miss Bradley.
" 'My mother will remain to protect me from
the insults of such as you,* and my wife left
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
"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
"Accidental, of course," ventured Miranda.
"I think it was a put-up job. She carried
her forty-five years with ease and was growing
"Your love was rekindled — "
Yes, and in three days we were married
'How charming I^
i(TT _1 1 Vf
146 THE TRANSIT OF VENUS
"How horrible, I found."
"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."
"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
"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."
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
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
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
"What!'' came from five throats simultane-
"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
"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
"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
"Then, I forbid his coming on board."
The Alimony Club clutched at the words of
Stoneman as a drowning man would take to a
THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 153
"By what right do you forbid ?" asked Miss
"Yes, — ^by what right?" demanded the cap-
"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
"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
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
"That's true, but I cannot allow him to suffer
"We will take care of that," simultaneously
shouted the Alimony Club.
"Is it agreeable to you, Miranda ?" asked the
"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
"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.
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
" '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-
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
" 'No, that's true, but don't you see* — this,
with another pressure of my arm, just a little
" '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
" '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
"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-
"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
'Well, as I was saying, women are like
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
"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
" '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
" 'But where do I come in ?' I queried.
i68 THE TRANSIT OF VENUS
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
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
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-
" 'Why, I thought you were a nice, quiet,
"'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 — '
170 THE TRANSIT OF VENUS
That's true/ he mused, as if in great
" '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
Why not present yourself on a more novel
^As a candidate who pays the largest ali-
" '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-
" 'But I have no new evidence.'
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 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
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."
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
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-
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
"You're certainly a great traveler, aren't
"I was my father's constant companion and
no doubt you have heard of his many dis-
coveries and researches, and his many-sided
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-
"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
"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
"That does give a fellow something to look
i8o THE TRANSIT OF VENUS
"And how fine is 'Glory to God in the highest
and on earth peace and good will towards
*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
"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-
"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
"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,"
"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
"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."
"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
"But there are a lot of miserable creatures in
"And a lot of rotten music. In either case
neither inspiration nor love was the basilar
"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.
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
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-
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
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-
"My poor Arabella," said Anderson; "I
must hasten back."
He and Scroggins sailed two days later.
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-
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
"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
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-
"Let's have the story."
"It's a Hindoo tale with variations. Once
194 THE TRANSIT OF VENUS
there was a beautiftil princess — " Miranda
"Whose eyes met the eyes of a very, very
"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
"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 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
"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
"Oh, that was all right. She was dressed as
"Excuse my interruption," apologized the
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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,"
"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
"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-
"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
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
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
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§
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-
"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-
"You — know, — don't — ^you, — Fd — do — ^any-
thing — in — the — world — for — ^you."
And then she knew !
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
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-
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
"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
"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
"I do not want to be saved just because I
am one of the human family," said Stoneman,
"Well, what would you like?" she ques-
212 THE TRANSIT OF VENUS.
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
"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
THE TRANSIT OF VENUS 213
"That would delight the soothsayers and
"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
"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
"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-
"A sort of favor for favors received," he
''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-
"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
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
"Well, I think it is bad luck to kill a cat/'
"Yes, for the cat. Still," Miranda added,
"there are a lot of superstitions that are really
beneficial to the human race."
"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
"I think it was Lord Bacon who said : 'Man
observes when things hit and not when they
miss/ They remember the first and forget
"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
"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
— 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-
"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-
"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
"I think both of us thought discretion was
the better part of valor.'*
"Wait until I get well. I will get the eggs
"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
"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
"I don't want to hear it," said the young
"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.
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
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."
'And you are the object of that affection."
"No, not I. You surely don't mean it,"
"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?"
224 THE TRANSIT OF VENUS.
"And your second wife your second love?'*
"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."
"She refused to marry me after I secured my
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."
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
"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
"It is not for you to use that against her.
226 THE TRANSIT OF VENUS
Remember, if you do not succeed, try, try
"Please think over my proposal, M — M —
'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
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 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,"
"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
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
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
"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."
"Oh !" came from the listeners.
"Mother felt I was old enough to take care
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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-
"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
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
"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
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,'*
"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
"And, by that system of reasoning," inter-
rupted Miranda, "if my parents never had mar-
ried a tragedy would have been enacted at
"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
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
"But, I haven't heard anything about
"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
"Make it one," he promptly replied, "but of
course Miss Bradley and Mr, Stoneman will
"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
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,
''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
"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
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
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-
All of this Von Stuefen noted with extreme
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
"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
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
"Yes," he mumbled. "It's the Stars and
"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
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
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
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 !"
Because they married each other."
"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 :
**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