A Story Of An Evening Star
A Greek Legend
"Every night, mother, I see a beautiful star in the sky so different from the others. It comes first and shines so bright that it seems as if it were the loveliest star in the whole sky. Won't you watch for it to-night with me?"
The mother smiled, for she thought she knew which one of the stars Mamie would point out. Sure enough, that night as they both sat in the hammock watching the sunset, out came the very star she expected. In a moment Mamie saw it and nearly fell out of the hammock as she screamed and clapped her hands.
"There it is, mamma! There it is! I know it because it looks straight at me. It knows me, I believe, for it never trembles a bit, like the other stars! Did you ever see such a lovely one?"
Her mother smiled an odd little smile.
"What makes you laugh at me, mother? I know you are laughing, by the corners of your mouth; they go up so queerly. Tell me."
"Why, Mamie, that is Venus you are watching. I have watched her every year since I first found her long ago."
"Venus? Who is Venus, mother? And what makes you call a star her? I didn't know a star could have a name. Who named her? Did you, mother? What made you call her Venus?"
"Seems to me you ask a great many questions, little girl. Which one shall I answer first?"
"Did you name my star yourself?"
"No, Mamie, it was named hundreds of years ago when many stars had names given them. You know people have watched and studied the stars almost since the world began."
"And was Venus a little girl or a woman? I know she must have been lovely or they would never have given her name to my star."
"Your star, as you call it, Mamie, is at present the evening star. By and by it will be the morning star. I will tell you where it got its name.
"Venus was a lovely woman, but she never was a little girl. The old, old story books say that one day as some people were walking by the sea they saw a rose-tinted shell rise on the crest of the wave. This great shell opened, and beautiful Venus, clothed in raiment like sea-foam when the sun shines on it, stepped out upon the waters. The people watching were not surprised when they saw a sunset cloud sail down and take her to the edge of the western sky, where the ruby gates opened and she passed through to the world of the gods. That was her home. Whenever she wished to return to earth she came in a silver chariot drawn by snow-white swans. Her head was always wreathed with roses and myrtles. White doves carried her messages. Her dress is of the finest silk, the color of the pink sea-shell."
"Why, mamma, you say is! Do you mean Venus is still alive?"
"No, dear, she never was alive. It is only one of the many beautiful myths that people used to believe two thousand years ago. But artists love to paint pictures as beautiful as Venus was thought to be, and there are many lovely statues of her. Sometimes it almost seems as if she must have been alive. When we go to the art gallery, see if you can find a Venus.
"But say good-night to your star, for it is late. Some time you will miss her and find another in her place. Tell me, dear, when the new star comes."
"Oh, I am going to watch every night, mamma. Will the new one have a name?"
"Yes, but I'm not going to tell you its name or its story till it comes."
Sources And Further Reading
Project Gutenberg Classic Myths Retold by Mary Catherine Judd with drawings entirely from classic sources