Beck Center English Dept. University Libraries Emory University
Emory Women Writers Resource Project Collections:
Women's Genre Fiction Project

Fairy Book, an electronic edition

by Sophie May [Clarke, Rebecca Sophia, 1833-1906]

date: 1865
source publisher: Lee and Shephard; Lee, Shephard & Dillingham
collection: Genre Fiction

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| | 53

THE VESPER STAR.

ONCE upon a time, the new moon was shining like a silver bow in the heavens, and the stars glittered and trembled as if they were afraid.

"What frightens you?" said the placid Moon; "be calm, like me."

"I am freezing," answered the North Star; "that is why I shake."

"We are dancing," said the Seven Sisters; "and, watch as closely as you please, you can never get a fair peep at our golden sandals, our feet twinkle so."

"I am sleepy," grumbled the Great Bear; "I am trying to keep my eyes open. Perhaps that is the reason I wink so much."

| | 54

Thus, with one accord, they made excuses to the pale Moon, who is their guardian,--all but the sweet Vesper Star: she was silent; and when a white cloud floated by, she was glad of an excuse to hide her face.

"Let the North Star shiver, and the Seven Sisters dance, and all the golden stars hold a revel," thought she; "as for me, I am sad."

For you must know that the Vesper Star has a task to perform, and is not allowed to sleep. She keeps vigil over the Earth, by night; and never ceases her watch till the world is up in the morning. For the sick and sad, who cannot sleep, she feels an unutterable pity, so that her heart is always throbbing with sorrow.

The Moon looked at the Vesper Star, and said, "Dream on, sweet sister; for you, the noblest of all, have told me no falsehood."

This the Moon said because she knew that | | 55 none of the stars had given a true reason for twinkling so gayly that night. The truth was, they were filled with envy, and were trying to be as brilliant as possible, to compete with a flaming Comet which had just appeared in the sky.

It is not for man to know how long and how peacefully the gentle stars had traveled together, doing the work which God has appointed, without a murmur. But now that this distinguished stranger had arrived, the whole firmament was in dismay. How proudly he strode the heavens! how his blaze illumined the sky! The Stars whispered one to another, and cast angry eyes on the shining wonder.

"Make way for me," he said, sweeping after him a glorious train of light.

"Not I," muttered the fiery Mars.

"Not I," quoth the majestic Jupiter; "I do not move an inch."

| | 56

The Comet flashed with a lofty disdain.

"Puny Stars," said he, "keep your places, give out all your light,--nobody heeds you; the place of honor is always by the Vesper Star; here I make my throne."

The Vesper Star smiled sadly, but without a twinge of envy.

"Welcome, shining one! Warm me with your fires; let us work together."

"Work!" cried the Comet, throwing out sparkles of scorn; "I was not born to work, but to shine!"

"Indeed!" said the Vesper Star; "you have come into strange company, then; for here we all work with a good will." "He does not burn with the true fire," thought the good Star; and she wrapped herself about with a soft cloud, and said no more.

"Oh that I could be set on fire like the Comet!" thought the cold North Star. "I | | 57 would gladly burn to death if I could astonish the world with my blaze!"

"Let us die!" said the Seven Sisters; "let us die together; we have ceased to be noticed."

"Ah, hum!" growled the Great Bear; "so many years as I have kept watch in this sky; and now to be set one side by this upstart of a foreigner! I've a great mind to go to sleep and never wake up!"

"Hush!" whispered the Vesper Star gently; "do your duty, and trust God for the rest."

And lo! that very night there was an end of the Comet's splendor.

"Adieu, my dull friends," said he; "I am tired of a quiet life: a little more, and I should fade out entirely!"

Then, with a blaze and a whiz, and a dizzy wheel, he flashed out of the sky; and no one | | 58 knew whither he went, or whence he came, any more than the path of the quick lightning.

The stars were ashamed of their envy, and went to their old work with a stronger will and a steadier purpose: but to the Vesper Star was given a brighter and sweeter light than to any other, because she had done her work without envy and without repining.

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