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Surely they were not going to eat the candle,
or the crocuses, or the gunpowder. Yet those
strange appliances could hardly be wanted to
observe the phenomena of an eclipse with.
Not liking to show my ignorance too soon,
I suppressed inquiry for the present.

By dint of packing this medley underneath
the seats, and overhead in the nettings, the
professor eventually found a seat for himself
while we were passing Hanwell.

" We must now distribute our parts," he
said when fairly settled. " There are so many
phenomena to note, and so little time to note
them in, that each of us must undertake to
observe one, or one class of them. What
will your friend be responsible for? " he
asked of MacAliquot. " The time of occultation,
the barometer, or Bailey's beads?"

I blushed to the ears; for the day-stars
beamed an effulgent curiosity upon me; but
The Count interrupted, to my great relief,
with " We had better leave him out: he is
not scientific."

" Not scientific! " exclaimed the bright
particular star gleefully. " I am so glad!
There will be somebody to sympathise with
my own ignorance.

I should not like to describeeven if I
couldthe effect of this little remark upon
my sensations. Fortunately, I kept them
so strictly to myself, that I did not do
anything ridiculous. "The sun is to be
darkened," she continued, glancing charitably
at me, " I know. But I really do not know
how, or why."

The Professor seemed delighted to have,
or to pretend to have, somebody to teach.
In a minute he had out two pocket handkerchiefs;
one white, the other snuff-colour.
He rolled them up into balls, tight enough
to play at tennis with. He suspended one
between each finger and thumb. He declared
that the globular lamp in the roof
of the carriage was the sun, that the bandana
handkerchief was the earth, and the
cambric one the moon. He then imitated
an orrery, with the earth moving round the
sun (as far as the roof of the carriage would
permit), and the moon revolving round the
earth. " That being so," he always addressed
me, " a time comes when the three spheres
must, for a few moments travel into one
line; the moon getting between the earth
and the sun, thus: you don't see the sun
now, " he continued, as if speaking to his
daughter, but still looking my way.

" How can I, while you put your linen
moon between it and my eyes? " said the
young lady. " But I can see part of it."

" Of course; the moon, being smaller than
the sun, and nearer to you, " was the reply.
"You see the outer rim of the lamp in the
form of a ring, don't you? Well, that's an
annular eclipse."

" From annulus, a ring, " whispered Sidery
Tertius, popping in a quotation from his Latin

" May I ask " (I thought I was bound not
to be absolutely dumb), " why it is that the
moon, being the smaller body, as you say,
will obscure so much of the sun, as to leave,
when the eclipse is at its height, no more
than a narrow rim of the latter visible?"

Mr. Sidery and MacAliquot were both
eager to let off an answer upon me; but Sidery
conquered, by generously offering to lend
me a fourpenny piece. " Place it before one
eye; shut the other, and look at the sunno,
not the lamp, but the real sun; which is now
just enough obscured by thin clouds not to
blind you. That very small disc completely
obscures the sun, does it not?"


" Hold it further from your eye, at arm's
length. Does it still hide the sun from you?"

"It does."

" Ay; but if held nearer to the sun by
three or four yards, your little silver moon
would cover no more of it than would produce
an annular eclipse."

The Count could hold out no longer. " The
distance of the sun from the fourpenny piece,
when close to the eye, is about ninety-five
millions of miles, and the eclipse is total;
but, reduce the distance to ninety-five millions
of miles, less half a dozen yards, and
the eclipse becomes annular so long as you
keep your eye and the two bodies in a straight
line with one another. Now, the moon—"

" Very true, " interrupted the lecturer,
who could hold out no longer, " the further
you remove the coin from your eye, the less
of the sun will be eclipsed. You see, now,
how it is that a small body can eclipse a large

" Therefore " (MacAliquot was not to
be beaten); " the moon, although one quarter
the size of the sun, being also only a
four-hundredth part of his distance from the
earth, naturally eclipses a large portion of that
luminary when it passes between him and us."

" Bless me, here's Reading! " exclaimed
the Professor, "and we have not appointed
our observing officers yet. As, ladies, " he
continued, addressing his daughter with the
mild rudiments of a joke twinkling in his
eye, " are said to be particularly astute where-ever
rings are concerned; you shall watch
the annulus. It will be perfect at two
minutes past one o'clock, when it will be half
a digit broad."

" But I don't know what a digit is, papa,"
murmured Bright-Eyes, looking down. " Is
it the ring-finger?"

Everybody laughed except MacAliquot;
who gravely informed us that a digit is the
twelfth part of the circumference of the sun
or moon. His friend the scientific stage-manager
went on casting the parts:

" You, Charles," (his eldest son,) " will fix
your attention on Bailey's beads. Bailey's
beads, my dear," he looked at Stella, but he
meant the enlightenment he was going to
administer for me, " are curious and