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But Despair, if Giotto be correct, is the chief of sins. So has he depicted her in the fresco of the Arena in Padua. No sin, that, of ours! After searching all that Friday night, we slept all Saturday (sleeping after sweeping). We all came to the Chapel, Sunday, kept awake there, and taught our Sunday classes special lessons on Perseverance. On Monday we began again, and that week we calculated sixty-seven more orbits. I am sure I do not know why we stopped at sixty-seven. All of these were on the supposition that the revolution of the Brick Moon, or Io-Phoebe, was so fast that it would require either fifteen days to complete its orbit, or sixteen days, or seventeen days, and so on up to eighty-one days. And, with these orbits, on the next Friday we waited for the darkness. As we sat at tea, I asked if I should begin observing at the smallest or at the largest orbit. And there was a great clamor of diverse opinions. But little Bertha said, "Begin in the middle."
"And what is the middle?" said George, chaffing the little girl.
But she was not to be dismayed. She had been in and out all the week, and knew that the first orbit was of fifteen days and the last of eighty-one; and, with true Lincoln School precision, she said, "The mean of the smallest orbit and the largest orbit is forty-eight days."
"Amen!" said I, as we all laughed. "On forty-eight days we will begin."
Alice ran to the sheets, turned up that number, and read, "R. A. 27@ 11'. South declination 34@ 49'."
"Convenient place," said George; "good omen, Bertha, my darling! If we find her there, Alice and Bertha and Clara shall all have new dolls."
It was the first word of pleasantry that had been spoken about the horrid thing since Spoonwood Hill!
Night came at last. We trained the glass on the fated spot. I bade Polly take the eye-glass. She did so, shook her head uneasily, screwed the tube northward herself a moment, and then screamed, "It is there! it is there,--a clear disk,--gibbous shape,--and very sharp on the upper edge. Look! look! as big again as Jupiter!"
Polly was right! The Brick Moon was found!
Now we had found it, we never lost it. Zitta and Gmelin, I suppose, had had foggy nights and stormy weather often. But we had some one at the eye-glass all that night, and before morning had very respectable elements, good measurements of angular distance when we got one, from another star in the field of our lowest power. For we could see her even with a good French opera-glass I had, and with a night-glass which I used to carry on the South Atlantic Station. It certainly was an extraordinary illustration of Orcutt's engineering ability, that, flying off as she did, without leave or license, she should have gained so nearly the orbit of our original plan,--nine thousand miles from the earth's centre, five thousand from the surface. He had always stuck to the hope of this, and on his very last tests of the Flies he had said they, were almost up to it. But for this accuracy of his, I can hardly suppose we should have found her to this hour, since she had failed, by what cause I then did not know, to take her intended place on the meridian of No. 9. At five thousand miles the MOON appeared as large as the largest satellite of Jupiter appears. And Polly was right in that first observation, when she said she got a good disk with that admirable glass of Mrs. Bowdoin.
The orbit was not on the meridian of No. 9, nor did it remain on any meridian. But it was very nearly South and North,--an enormous motion in declination with a very slight RETROGRADE motion in Right Ascension. At five thousand miles the MOON showed as large as a circle two miles and a third in diameter would have shown on old Thornbush, as we always called her older sister. We longed for an eclipse of Thornbush by B. M., but no such lucky chance is on the cards in any place accessible to us for many years. Of course, with a MOON so near us the terrestrial parallax is enormous.
Now, you know, dear reader, that the gigantic reflector of Lord Rosse, and the exquisite fifteen- inch refractors of the modern observatories, eliminate from the chaotic rubbish-heap of the surface of old Thornbush much smaller objects than such a circle as I have named. If you have read Mr. Locke's amusing Moon Hoax as often as I have, you have those details fresh in your memory. As John Farrar taught us when all this began,--and as I have said already,--if there were a State House in Thornbush two hundred feet long, the first Herschel would have seen it. His magnifying power was 6450; that would have brought this deaf and dumb State House within some forty miles. Go up on Mt. Washington and see white sails eighty miles away, beyond Portland, with your naked eye, and you will find how well he would have seen that State House with his reflector. Lord Rosse's statement is, that with his reflector he can see objects on old Thornbush two hundred and fifty-two feet long. If he can do that he can see on our B. M. objects which are five feet long; and, of course, we were beside ourselves to get control of some instrument which had some approach to such power. Haliburton was for at once building a reflector at No. 9; and perhaps he will do it yet, for Haliburton has been successful in his paper- making and lumbering. But I went to work more promptly.
I remembered, not an apothecary, but an observatory, which had been dormant, as we say of volcanoes, now for ten or a dozen years,--no matter why! The trustees had quarrelled with the director, or the funds had given out, or the director had been shot at the head of his division,--one of those accidents had happened which will happen even in observatories which have fifteen-inch equatorials; and so the equatorial here had been left as useless as a cannon whose metal has been strained or its reputation stained in an experiment. The observatory at Tamworth, dedicated with such enthusiasm,--"another light-house in the skies," had been, so long as I have said, worthless to the world. To Tamworth, therefore, I travelled. In the neighborhood of the observatory I took lodgings. To the church where worshipped the family which lived in the observatory buildings I repaired; after two Sundays I established acquaintance with John Donald, the head of this family. On the evening of the third, I made acquaintance with his wife in a visit to them. Before three Sundays more he had recommended me to the surviving trustees as his successor as janitor to the buildings. He himself had accepted promotion, and gone, with his household, to keep a store for Haliburton in North Ovid. I sent for Polly and the children, to establish them in the janitor's rooms; and, after writing to her, with trembling eye I waited for the Brick Moon to pass over the field of the fifteen-inch equatorial.
Night came. I was "sole alone"! B. M. came, more than filled the field of vision, of course! but for that I was ready. Heavens! how changed. Red no longer, but green as a meadow in the spring. Still I could see-- black on the green--the large twenty-foot circles which I remembered so well, which broke the concave of the dome; and, on the upper edge--were these palm-trees? They were. No, they were hemlocks, by their shape, and among them were moving to and fro---------- flies? Of course, I cannot see flies! But something is moving,-- coming, going. One, two, three, ten; there are more than thirty in all! They are men and women and their children!
Could it be possible? It was possible! Orcutt and Brannan and the rest of them had survived that giddy flight through the ether, and were going and coming on the surface of their own little world, bound to it by its own attraction and living by its own laws!
As I watched, I saw one of them leap from that surface. He passed wholly out of my field of vision, but in a minute, more or less, returned. Why not! Of course the attraction of his world must be very small, while he retained the same power of muscle he had when he was here. They must be horribly crowded, I thought. No. They had three acres of surface, and there were but thirty-seven of them. Not so much crowded as people are in Roxbury, not nearly so much as in Boston; and, besides, these people are living underground, and have the whole of their surface for their exercise.
I watched their every movement as they approached the edge and as they left it. Often they passed beyond it, so that I could see them no more. Often they sheltered themselves from that tropical sun beneath the trees. Think of living on a world where from the vertical heat of the hottest noon of the equator to the twilight of the poles is a walk of only fifty paces! What atmosphere they had, to temper and diffuse those rays, I could not then conjecture.
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The Brick Moon and Other Stories -by- Edward Everett Hale