UNCLE ROBERT'S VISIT
BY FRANCIS W. PARKER AND NELLIE LATHROP HELM
PREFACE BY THE EDITOR OF THE HOME-READING BOOKS.
The publishers take pleasure in offering to the public, in their Home-Reading Series, some books relating to the farm and other aspects of country life as the center of interest, written by Colonel Francis W. Parker, the President of the famous Cook County Normal School, in Chicago. For many years the teachers of the common schools of the country have been benefited by the inventions of Colonel Parker in the way of methods of teaching in the schoolroom. His enthusiasm has led him to consider the best means of arousing the interest of the child and of promoting his self-activity for reasonable purposes.
The Pestalozzian movement in the history of education is justly famed for its effort to connect in a proper manner the daily experience of the child with the school course of study. The branches of learning taught to the child by the schoolmaster are necessarily dry and juiceless if they are not thus brought into relation with the child's world of experience. Almost all of the school reforms that have been proposed in the past one hundred years have moved in this line. The effort to seize upon the child's interest and make it the agency for progress has formed the essential feature in each. In this reform movement Colonel Parker has made himself one of the chief influences.
The rural school has held a low rank among educational institutions on account of the inferior methods of instruction which have prevailed by reason of the fact that the children were too few and their qualifications too various to permit the forming of classes. Children in various degrees of advancement from ABC's to higher arithmetic, and yet numbering only ten, twenty, or thirty in all, are enrolled under one teacher. Most branches of study could muster only one or two pupils in each class: Five to ten minutes a day is all that can be allowed in such cases for a recitation. No thoroughness of instruction on the part of the teacher is possible, nor is there much improvement to be expected in the method of instruction where classes can not be formed. The benefactor of the country school therefore looks to other devices than class instruction, and the author of this book has shown in what ways the teacher of one of these small schools may extend his influence into the families of his district, encourage home study initiate practical experiments.
It is expected that the teacher, besides his daily register in which he records the names and attendance of his own pupils, will keep a list of the youth of the district who have been in attendance on the school but have left to take up the work of the farm, and that he will endeavor by proper means to persuade them to enter upon well-planned courses of reading. Occasional meetings in the evening at central places, or on some afternoons of the week at the schoolhouse itself, will furnish occasions for the discussion of the contents of the books that have been read, and experiments will be suggested in the way of verifying the theories advanced in them.
Not only can the mind of the country youth be broadened and enlarged in the direction of literature and art, and of science and history, but it can be made more practical by focusing it upon the problems connected with the agriculture and manufactures of the district.
This indicates a career of usefulness for the ambitious teacher of a rural school. There is a large field for the discipline of the directive power open even for the humblest of teachers in the land.
These books of Colonel Parker, if read by the school children, and especially by the elder youth who have left school, will suggest a great variety of ways in which real mental growth and increase of practical power may be obtained. The ideal of education in the United States is that the child in school shall be furnished with a knowledge of the printed page and rendered able to get out of books the experience of his fellow-men, and at the same time be taught how to verify and extend his book knowledge by investigations on his environment. This having been achieved by the school, nothing except his indolence, or, to give it a better name, want of enterprise, prevents the individual citizen from growing intellectually and practically throughout his whole life.
W. T. HARRIS.
WASHINGTON, D.C., August 12, 1897.
Fortunate are the children whose early years are spent in the country in close contact with the boundless riches which Nature bestows.
Amid these environments instinct and spontaneity do a marvelous work in the growing minds of children, arousing and sustaining varied and various interests, enhancing mental activities, and furnishing an educative outlet for lively energies.
Most fortunate are they to whom, at the moment when the unconscious teachings of Nature need to be supplemented by thoughtful suggestion, wise leadings, and judicious instruction, there comes one with a deep and loving sympathy with child life, an active interest in all that interests them, and a profound respect for all that children do well and for all that they know.
Such an one is Uncle Robert. He comes to the children at just the right moment. He directs the sweet strong streams of their lives onward into a channel of earnest inquiry and exalted labor, which is ever broadening and deepening.
Uncle Robert's aim in education is to fill each day with acts which make home better, the community better, mankind better; to take from God's bounteous and boundless store of truth and convert it into human life by using it. His method is simple and direct, founded upon the firm rock, Common Sense. It may be briefly stated as follows:
1. A strong belief in the sacredness of work—that work which inspires thought, strengthens the body as well as the mind, and develops the feeling of usefulness.
2. The images the children have acquired and the inferences they have made are used as stepping stones to higher and broader views.
3. So far as it is possible, each child is to discover facts for himself and make original inferences.
4. He understands the limits of children's power to observe and the demand on their part for glimpses into, to them, the great unknown. So he tells them stories of those things which lie beyond their horizon, in order to excite their wonder, intensify their love for the objects that surround them, and make them more careful observers. In this way a hunger and thirst for books is created.
5. He watches carefully the interests of each child, adapting his teachings to the differences in age and personality.
6. Some questions are left unanswered in order to stimulate that healthy curiosity which can be satisfied only by persistent study—the study that begets courage and confidence.
7. He makes farm work and farm life full of intensely interesting problems, ever keeping in mind that the things of which the common environments of common lives are made up are as well worthy of study as are those which lie beyond.
Uncle Robert's enthusiasm has for its prime impulse a boundless faith in human progress, brought about by a knowledge of childhood and its possibilities.
He believes that every normal child, under wise and loving guidance, may become useful to his fellows, moral in character, strong in intellect, with a body which is an efficient instrument of the soul; in other words, truly educated.
Those who read Uncle Robert's Visit should read through the eyes of Susie, Donald, and Frank. The reading, so far as possible, should be accompanied by personal observation, investigation, and experiment.
FRANCIS W. PARKER.
CHICAGO NORMAL SCHOOL, August 31, 1897.
I. UNCLE ROBERT'S COMING
II. FRANK DRAWS A MAP OF THE FARM
III. THE NEW THERMOMETER
IV. WITH THE ANIMALS
V. IN THE FLOWER GARDEN
VI. SUNLIGHT AND SHADOW
VII. THE BAROMETER
VIII. A WALK IN THE WOODS
IX. THE BIRDS AND THE FLOWERS
X. THE THUNDERSHOWER
XI. THE VILLAGE
XII. A DAY ON THE RIVER
XIII. A RAINY DAY
XIV. THE WALK AFTER THE RAIN
XV. THE BIG BOOK
TOPICAL ANALYSIS OF UNCLE ROBERT'S VISIT.
NOTE.—The direct study of earth, air, and water involves the study of plant, animal, and human life. Popular opinion has given the name of geography to these correlated subjects.
CHAPTER I.—UNCLE ROBERT'S COMING.
The value of the children's knowledge of the farm is warmly recognized by Uncle Robert. The children feel his sympathy for their work, and through it are led to closer study and investigation. The feeling that everything they may see and do is of importance, exalts their daily life.
Encourage children to describe the farms on which they live. In such descriptions should come plant and animal life, and the means and processes of farm work. Extend these descriptions to other farms and to any landscapes which the children have observed.
CHAPTER II.—FRANK DRAWS A MAP OF THE FARM.
All children love to draw, and they will draw with great confidence and boldness unless their critical faculty outruns their skill. Modeling and painting may be very profitably introduced at an early age. Frank's efforts in drawing strengthened his images of the landscape.
Arithmetic has a very important place in farm life. It may be used in many ways in forming habits of accuracy and exactness.
CHAPTER III.—THE NEW THERMOMETER.
The children have their first lesson on the agent of all physical movement and change in organic and inorganic matter. The simple experiments suggested should be continued and enlarged, thus beginning a life study of a subject which is practically unlimited in its importance to man.
CHAPTER IV.—WITH THE ANIMALS.
Children look upon animals as their particular friends and acquaintances. They talk to them and believe that the animals understand them. A desire to know the habits and habitats of animals is among their strongest interests. By a little wise direction, this interest may be so enhanced as to form a substantial beginning of the study of zoology.
CHAPTER V.—IN THE FLOWER GARDEN.
Children worship flowers. Probably there are no objects on earth so universally loved by little folks as buds and flowers. Children seek eagerly for flowers by the roadside, in the pastures, fields, and woods. This love, like all instincts, should be carefully cultivated.
Children may easily be led to study the forms, colors, and habits of plants. They will always take the keenest interest in the mystery of seeds and shoots, of roots and growing leaves, if there is a teacher to direct them.
CHAPTER VI.—SUNLIGHT AND SHADOW.
We have heat again, and now as an elementary lesson in the distribution of sunshine. Children love to observe continual changes. The shadow is an object of interest. It has an element of mystery about it which borders upon the supernatural. Children observe spontaneously the long shadows of morning and the lengthening shadows of the descending sun. Most farm boys can tell the moment of noon by their shadows.
These are all steps in the more difficult problems of lengthening and shortening shadows that mark the changing seasons, and that lead to the theories of the earth's rotation and revolution. Day by day children should note the changes of slant upon the shadow stick which they can easily make for themselves.
CHAPTER VII.—THE BAROMETER.
Our little friends have their first lesson concerning one of the three great envelopes of the earth-the atmosphere. The knowledge that air has weight does not often come by unaided intuition. The initial experiments may be made very interesting and profitable. The United States Weather Reports are an excellent means for the home study of geography.
CHAPTER VIII.—A WALK IN THE WOODS.
"There is pleasure in the pathless woods" and "The groves were God's first temples" are lines which appeal strongly to those who have spent hours in the shadows and flickering sunlight of the forest. Trees well arranged make many farmhouses beautiful. Trees by the roadside add much beauty to the landscape and afford places of rest to the traveler.
Forests mean moisture to the soil. Their leaves and roots make the best reservoirs for water, to be given out when needed by the growing crops. The forests are full of lessons for the children and the experienced scientist.
CHAPTER IX.—THE BIRDS AND THE FLOWERS.
The knowledge of a farm child is quite extensive, and generally neither the child nor the parent has any suspicion that such knowledge is of any appreciable value in education. It is clearly within the bounds of possibility for every farm boy and girl to know every bird that lives on the farm in summer or winter, and those who rest there in their migrating flight; to know also the names, the plumage, the habits of all the birds; and to know the nests and nesting places of those who make the farm their summer home.
All this study cultivates the child's sense of the beautiful. There is no better color study in the world than that which springs from discriminating love of flowers and of the plumage of birds. Such study creates a kindly feeling toward both animals and plants on the part of the child. It exercises a strong moral power over him.
CHAPTER X.—THE THUNDERSHOWER.
A thundershower is always a phenomenon of interest and often of fear on the part of children. The clouds of the cumulus form, the rolling of thunder, the lightning flashes, the rushing wind, and the pouring rain are full of important lessons. Fear vanishes as knowledge comes. In the thundershower is the question of the distribution of moisture over the earth's surface, the question of the nature and use of clouds, the movement of the air and wind, the condensation of vapor, and the marvelous powers of electricity.
CHAPTER XI.—THE VILLAGE.
Geography should ever be in the closest touch with the human side. Nature does a marvelous work, but Nature without society is like a vast storehouse of treasure without a demand for its use. The one weak point in farm life is the lack of opportunity for contact with society.
CHAPTER XII.—A DAY ON THE RIVER.
A river, creek, lake—in fact, any body of water—is a source of perpetual delight to children. Frank, Donald, and Susie have had the river and creek before them all their lives. Now, under Uncle Robert's teaching, the river will mean very much more to them. They take their first lessons in the work of streams in carving and shaping the earth's surface. The pebbles on the beach and the large, rounded stones will soon have stories of the distant past to tell them. The "Big Book" is opened to them, and they read the stories directly from its pages.
CHAPTER XIII.—A RAINY DAY.
The children get closer to the question of moisture, its use, and distribution. The rain gauge helps them to measure the rainfall. Then comes the problem of where the water goes after it reaches the ground. "How far down does some of it go?" "When and where does it come out of the ground?"
Arithmetic is brought in in measuring the rainfall and its distribution.
CHAPTER XIV.—THE WALK AFTER THE RAIN.
The problems in Chapter XIII move toward their solution, and new questions are opened. The gully tells of the wearing of the water, and foretells a river valley. The spring helps in the question of underground water. The flowing river quickens the imagination in the direction of the great ocean.
CHAPTER XV.—THE BIG BOOK.
This chapter should be read by parents to the children, as many sentences need expansion and explanation. Hints are given of great things which lie beyond the child's horizon. Discoveries that have changed mankind are referred to.
Children's permanent interests are the keynotes of instruction and the infallible guides of the teacher. To continue and sustain their spontaneous observation and desire for investigation leads directly to the study of the best books, and lays the basis for a thorough and profound study of God's universe.
UNCLE ROBERT'S COMING.
Uncle Robert was coming. His letter, telling when they should expect him, had been received a week before. Every day since had been full of talks and plans for his visit, and now the day was come. Everything was ready.
Frank and Donald had harnessed Nell, the old white horse, to the little spring wagon, and had driven to the village to meet the train which was to bring Uncle Robert from New York.
Susie, in her prettiest white apron, ran out of the house every few minutes, to be the first to see them when they should come along the road.
Mrs. Leonard was putting finishing touches here and there. She went into the kitchen to give Jane a last direction about the supper. Then she went to the east room upstairs, Uncle Robert's room, to be sure that everything was just as she knew he would like it.
Susie followed her mother, to see if the violets in the glass on his table were still bright and fresh. She had gathered them herself in the woods that morning.
"There they come!" she cried. "I hear the wagon crossing the bridge at the creek!"
She ran quickly downstairs and out upon the piazza. A moment more, and the wagon turned in at the gate.
"Mother, mother," called Susie, "they're here!"
But Mrs. Leonard was already beside her. Her pleasant face glowed with a happy smile as Frank drew rein before the door.
Then such a time!
Uncle Robert sprang from the seat beside Frank, hugged Mrs. Leonard, then Susie, then both together.
Donald, who was seated in the back of the wagon on Uncle Robert's trunk, turned a handspring, landed on his feet somehow or other, and stood grinning at Susie.
Mr. Leonard had also heard the sound of the wheels. He hurried from the barn, calling Peter to come and help him carry Uncle Robert's trunk upstairs.
Jane came to the door of the dining-room, eager to see the Uncle Robert of whom she had heard so much. Then, with a nod of her head, she ran back, slipped the pan of biscuits into the oven, and put the kettle on to boil.
Uncle Robert had come! Everybody was happy. No one more so than Uncle Robert himself.
"Now, this is good," he said, when at length they were seated around the supper table. "I feel at home already. Susie, did those violets on my table grow in your garden?"
"Oh, no," replied Susie. "I found them in the woods by the creek. And the buttercups, didn't you see them in the glass, too?"
"Buttercups so early ?" asked Uncle Robert. "Oh, yes, the low ones do come early. You must take me down where they grow some day."
"We'll go to-morrow," said Susie.
Uncle Robert smiled at the eager little face, and, turning to Mr. Leonard, said:
"Frank tells me the farm is looking well this spring."
"Yes, it looks fairly well," replied Mr. Leonard. "The seed is all in but the corn. That is a little late. The water on the bottom land stayed longer than usual this year."
"Peter thinks we can start the planting to-morrow," said Frank.
"Yes," replied his father, "I think so, too."
When supper was over they all went out on the side porch. The sun was setting. The air was soft and spring-like. The lilacs along the fence filled the air with fragrance.
"Don't you want to see Susie's garden, Robert?" asked Mrs. Leonard,
"Yes, indeed," said Uncle Robert. "Susie wrote me some nice little letters about that garden."
As they walked along the narrow paths Susie showed him where the seeds were already planted, and told him what she thought she would have in the other beds.
"This is phlox," said Susie, leading Uncle Robert by the hand; "and marigolds are here, and sweet peas over there by the fence. That place between mother's garden and mine is filled with rosebushes, syringas, and hollyhocks."
"I still call the vegetable garden mine, but the boys do most of the work," said Mrs. Leonard. "That big bush at the end of the row is an elder."
"This is to be my pansy bed," said Susie. "The pansies are not set out yet. They are growing in a box in the kitchen window. I love them best of all. Don't they look like funny little faces in bonnets?"
"That is what the Germans think, Susie," said Uncle Robert, laughing. "They call them 'little stepmothers.'"
"I think it will be safe to put them out soon, Susie," said Mrs. Leonard.
"Mother," called Donald from the vegetable garden, "the lettuce and radishes are growing finely, and here's a bean. Oh, there are lots of them just putting their heads through!"
They all went over to look at the beans, and then walked down to the end of the garden where the currant and gooseberry bushes grew.
"Oh, uncle," exclaimed Susie, "I wish you had come in time to see the trees in blossom! They were all pink and white. It was just lovely! only the flowers stayed such a little while."
"I think Susie lived in the orchard those days," said Mrs. Leonard, smiling. "If I wanted her I was very sure to find her there."
"I don't blame Susie," said Uncle Robert. "I would have stayed, too. There is nothing sweeter than apple blossoms. But you have other fruits besides apples, haven't you?"
"Oh, yes," said Frank, who had just come from the barn, where he had gone after supper with his father. "There are pears and cherries and a few peach trees. But peaches don't do well here."
"The blossoms are lovely," said Susie.
"I believe Susie cares more for the flowers than she does for the fruit," said Donald. "I don't. I like the fruit, and plenty of it."
"How many kinds of apples have you?" asked Uncle Robert.
"About ten," replied Frank. "But father budded quite a number last year. The twigs came from Kansas."
"They have fine apples in Kansas some years," said Uncle Robert. "I wonder if the budding is done as it was when I was a boy on the farm in New England."
"This is the way father did it," said Frank. "First he cut a little piece of the bark off the twig with the bud on it. He had to do it very carefully with a sharp knife. Then he cut the bark on the branch of the tree like the letter T. He laid it back, and slipped the piece of bark with the bud on under it. Then he bound it all up with soft cotton, and left it to take care of itself."
"Did it?" asked Uncle Robert.
"Yes," answered Donald. "In a few weeks we took the binding off, and the bark had all grown together around the little bud."
"There were ever so many of them," said Susie, "and they were all alike."
"I wish they would hurry up and have some apples on them," said Donald. "If they're better than some we had last year, they'll be pretty good.
"Come, children," said Mrs. Leonard. "It is getting damp. I think we'd better go in now."
FRANK DRAWS A MAP OF THE FARM.
After the lamps were lighted and they were all gathered in the sitting-room Uncle Robert began asking the children about the farm.
"What do you raise besides corn?" he asked.
"Wheat, oats, rye, and potatoes," said Frank. "Then we have the hay fields and the pasture. The woods we drove through coming from town belong to us too."
"The house faces east, doesn't it?" said Uncle Robert. "That would make the woods north. Where are all these other fields?"
"Back of the barn and the other side of the orchard," said Donald.
"Can't some one show me on paper how it is?" asked Uncle Robert. "I don't mean make a picture, but just a plan of it."
"Well, I can try," said Frank. "I know just how it is really, but I don't know that I can get it right."
Frank found paper and pencil and set to work, while the rest gathered eagerly around and looked on.
"This is the river," he said. "There's a big curve in it along our farm. The road runs along the top of the slope, and this is where the house is."
"What lies between the house and the river?" asked Uncle Robert.
"The big cornfield," said Frank. "That's where we are going to plant to-morrow if it is a pleasant day. And right here, in the corner by the woods, is the spring."
"The water comes right out of the ground," said Susie; "and it is as cold as ice."
"Here," said Frank, "is the wood. You know we drove through it this afternoon. The woods are on both sides of the creek."
"See the crooked line he makes for the creek," said Donald.
"That is where the violets and buttercups grow, uncle," said Susie, pointing to the map.
"Where does the creek come from?" asked Uncle Robert.
"There's a pond away back in the woods," said Donald. "It comes from that; but it is a swamp part of the year."
"The cat-tails grow there," said Susie.
"Well," said Uncle Robert, "the house, the cornfield, and the woods—is that all of the farm?"
"Oh, no!" said Frank. "It is low along the river, but back of the cornfield it gets higher, and that's where the grapes are. On this side of the road is the orchard; and here, between the orchard and the woods, come in the yard and garden."
"Don't leave out the barnyard," said Donald.
"What's back of the barn?" asked Uncle Robert.
"The field of timothy; and next to it is the clover field. That is as far as the farm goes that way."
"The wheat field is on the other side of the timothy, Frank," said Donald, "and the oats between that and the road, beside the orchard."
"Put in the potatoes along the road," said Susie.
"Now all we have left is the rye field over in the corner," said Donald.
"That is the way it is this year," said Mr. Leonard, who sat with his paper in his hand. But the paper was unread. He found the group around the table much more interesting.
"Now it is all done," said Susie, hopping about on one foot. "Isn't it fun? Let's draw the garden. I can do it."
"All right," said Uncle Robert, "you shall; but I think we'd better finish the farm first. Who can tell how many acres there are in each of these lots?"
"I know there are twenty in the timothy meadow," said Donald, "because father always calls it the twenty-acre lot."
"Write it down on the map, Frank," said Uncle Robert. "How much in the clover field?"
"It seems about half as large as the timothy meadow," said Frank.
"That's right," said Mr. Leonard; "it is."
"There are twenty acres in the wood lot, aren't there, father?" asked Frank. "It isn't quite so wide, but it is longer than the timothy meadow."
"Yes," said Mr. Leonard, "there are twenty acres there; and it is as fine woodland as any I know."
"There are ten acres in the orchard," said Frank; "and the cornfield is the largest of all."
"That must be thirty acres," said Donald. "I remember when father made the pasture smaller, so that we could have more corn."
"Yes," said Frank; "and that left ten in the pasture. I remember. And there are fifteen acres each in oats, wheat, and rye; but I don't know how large the potato field is. It is smaller than the others, though—it must be about ten."
"Right again," said Mr. Leonard.
"Now we have it all but the yard and garden," said Uncle Robert. "Does any one know how much land they cover?"
The father and mother looked on smiling, but said nothing.
"It's all the rest of the farm, anyhow," said Susie.
"Oh, I know how to find out," said Frank. "We know the whole farm is one hundred and sixty acres. We can add all these figures, and the difference between that and one hundred and sixty will be what's in the yard and garden."
So he added all the numbers together and found them to be one hundred and fifty-five.
"Yes," exclaimed Donald; "and five more would make it one hundred and sixty."
"Then there must be five acres in the yard and garden." said Susie, "Write it down. Frank."
"There," said Frank, looking at his work with some pride. "It's all in. Now shall I draw it again and make the lines straighter?"
"Oh, no; this tells the story very well," said Uncle Robert. "The next time we will measure it off, and make it more carefully."
"Not so bad," said Mr. Leonard, as Frank showed him the drawing.
"I think it is very good for a first time," said Mrs. Leonard, with an encouraging smile. "With a little practice, my boy, I believe you would draw well."
"Mother always believes we can do things," said Frank, laughing.
"Tell me more about the river," said Uncle Robert.
"Our side is bottom land," said Frank; "but across the river the bank is high and steep. Farther down it is just the other way. The steep bank is on this side, and the low land is opposite."
"The river bends the other way down there," said Donald.
"I see," said Uncle Robert. "How high is the bank?"
"I don't know," answered Frank. "How high is it, father?"
"About twenty feet," said Mr. Leonard.
"Do you go on the river much?" asked Uncle Robert.
"Oh, yes," said Donald. "We have an old boat, and we have been miles on it."
"That is, downstream," said Frank. "We have never taken the boat up the river beyond the village, on account of the milldam."
"There's an island in the river," said Susie, "between here and the village. We have been there."
"How large an island is it?" asked Uncle Robert—"large enough to have a picnic there while I am here?"
"Oh, yes," said Susie. "It's just the loveliest place for a picnic! There are trees all over it, and all kinds of wild flowers."
"Can't you extend your map, Frank, so as to put in the river to the village, showing the milldam and the island?" suggested Uncle Robert.
"You might draw it this way, too," said Donald, "and show how the river bends the other way down here."
"Now I want to draw my garden," said Susie, when Frank had finished.
Just then the clock on the kitchen shelf struck loudly.
"It's bedtime now, dear," said Mrs. Leonard. "Can't you draw your garden to-morrow?"
"We'll plant those pansies to-morrow," said Uncle Robert, "and see what can be put in all the other beds. Then we'll draw it, and tell just where everything is."
So Susie went to bed happy, and Frank and Donald soon followed. And all were glad that Uncle Robert was really come.
THE NEW THERMOMETER.
The next morning as they left the breakfast table Donald said:
"It's going to be warmer to-day."
"I think not," said Frank. "When I went to the barn it seemed quite cool."
"What do you think, Susie?" asked Uncle Robert.
"It was cool under the trees when I went to the spring for a pitcher of water," said Susie, "but it seemed rather warm in the sun. I think it is a lovely morning."
"What makes it warm?" asked Uncle Robert.
"Why, the sun," replied Donald, looking rather surprised at such a question.
"But does the sun make it warm in the winter?" asked Uncle Robert.
"The sun is nearer the earth in spring and summer," said Frank confidently.
"You are mistaken," said Uncle Robert. "The sun is farther from us in summer than it is in winter."
"But it's almost over our heads in summer," said Frank. "How can it be farther away?"
"The story of the warmth that the sun gives us is not told by distance," said Uncle Robert, "but by the length of the shadows at noon."
"How is that?" asked Donald.
"When is your shadow the longest?" asked Uncle Robert.
"In the evening," said Donald.
"In the morning," said Susie.
"When is your shadow the shortest?"
"At noon!" they all shouted.
"When is it coolest?"
"Morning," they replied together.
"When is it warmest?"
"Noon," said Susie quickly.
"Now you are wrong," said Frank. "It is often warmer at one or two o'clock."
"Frank is right," said Uncle Robert. "How can we tell just how warm it is at any time?"
"If we had a thermometer," said Donald, "that would tell, but we haven't."
"There's one at the post office," said Frank, "but I never saw any one look at it unless it was very cold or very hot."
"Perhaps we can find one nearer than the post office," said Uncle Robert. "Susie, would you know one if you saw it?"
Susie shook her head.
"I would," said Donald.
"Well," said Uncle Robert, "please go to my room, and if you find a thermometer bring it to me."
Donald soon returned, and when Susie saw what he had in his hand she exclaimed:
"Is that a thermometer? I never saw anything like that at the post office."
"Well, I should think not," said Donald. "This isn't much like the old thing they have up there."
"What does it say?" asked Uncle Robert.
"Sixty-eight degrees above zero," said Frank, taking the thermometer in his hand.
"That isn't cold, is it, uncle?" asked Donald.
"That's just right for the house," said Uncle Robert. "How is it out of doors?"
"Let's take it out and see," said Frank.
Out on the porch they went and eagerly watched the thermometer.
"It's moving—it's going down!" cried Donald.
"I'll hang it on this nail," said Frank.
"When they looked again Donald said:
"It's fifty-six now."
"How much colder is it than it was in the house?" asked Uncle Robert.
"Twelve degrees," said Frank, counting up the column.
"Oh, let's take it in by the stove," said Susie, "and see how far it will go up."
"What makes you think it will go up by the stove?" asked Uncle Robert.
"Well," answered Susie, "if it goes down when it is cold I should think it would go up when it is warm."
Susie took the little instrument, and, going into the kitchen, held it close to the stove.
"Come," she called, "it is going up already. See!"
"How fast it moves!" said Donald. "Hold it close to the stove, Susie. Maybe it will go to the very top."
"Let us put it in cold water," said Frank. "It won't hurt the thermometer, will it?"
"Not at all," was the reply. "Try it."
So they held it in the bucket of cold spring water.
"How fast it goes down now!" said Susie. "I wonder if it will go lower than it did out on the porch. It's down to forty-eight."
"Why does Jane set the kettle of cold water on the stove?" asked Uncle Robert, pointing to it.
"To boil the water," answered Susie.
"What makes the water boil?"
"Why, the fire, of course."
"How long will the stove stay hot?"
"As long as there is fire in it."
"Longer than that," said Donald. "It doesn't grow cold the minute the fire is out."
"What becomes of all the heat?" asked Uncle Robert.
"Oh, it goes all round the room."
"Let's put the thermometer in the hot water," said Susie.
"Oh, see it go up!" said Donald. "It is one hundred and fifteen already."
"What is the difference in degrees between the cold and the hot water?" asked Uncle Robert.
"Sixty-seven degrees," said Frank.
"What makes the difference in degrees?"
"The difference in the heat," said Frank.
"If the water was boiling and the thermometer large enough," said Uncle Robert, "it would go to two hundred and twelve."
"That would be ninety-seven degrees higher," said Frank.
"Wouldn't that be a big thermometer!" exclaimed Susie.
"Now put the thermometer on the floor," said Uncle Robert.
"It's seventy-two degrees now," said Donald in a few minutes.
"Let's put it on the broom," said Susie, "and hold it up to the ceiling."
"It's warmer up there," said Frank, looking at the little gray cylinder when they brought it down. "It is six degrees higher than it was on the floor."
"Why?" asked Uncle Robert.
"The heat must go up there," said Donald.
"It goes into the next room when the door is open," said Frank.
"Does it go outdoors?" asked Uncle Robert.
"Let's open the window and see," said Susie.
Frank opened the window, but, instead of feeling the warm air going out, he felt the cool air coming in.
"Uncle," asked Donald, "isn't the room full of air already?"
"Yes," answered Uncle Robert.
"Then I don't see how any more can come in at the window."
"Are you sure none goes out?"
"I could feel it coming in," said Frank.
"Jane," asked Uncle Robert, "have you a candle?"
"Here is one, sir," said Jane, taking a candlestick from beside the clock on the shelf.
Uncle Robert lighted it and held it near the window, just below the sill. The flame flickered as the air from the window struck it, and then turned straight into the room. He raised it just above the opening. Instantly the flame pointed toward the window, but it did not flicker as it had when held below the sill.
"The air must be going out up there," said Frank, "but it doesn't blow so strongly as the air coming in."
"The air that comes in is cooler than the air that goes out," said Donald.
"What makes the water boil?" asked Uncle Robert, turning to the kettle on the stove, which had now begun to sing.
"Why, the heat, of course," said Donald.
"What raises the lid?" asked Uncle Robert.
"The kettle is too full," said Frank. "It is going to boil over."
"Why didn't the water run over when it was cold?" asked Uncle Robert. "The kettle didn't seem full then."
"Somehow it seems to get more than full when it boils," said Donald. "See, it is boiling over."
Just then Jane took a pan of apples out of the oven. Each one looked like a small volcano.
"What happens to the apples when they bake?" asked Uncle Robert.
"They just swell up so big their jackets won't hold them," said Donald, laughing.
"It is heat that makes the bread rise, isn't it?" asked Frank.
"Of course," said Susie. "Don't you know sometimes if the bread doesn't rise, mother says it is because it is too cold?"
"There is something besides heat that makes the bread rise," said Uncle Robert.
"Yes," replied Susie, "the yeast; but it must be warm—I know it must."
"It seems as though everything is bigger when it is hot than when it is cold," said Frank. "And now I believe I understand something that happened not long ago."
"What was it?" asked Uncle Robert.
"Peter and I were driving to town," began Frank, "and the tire of one of the wagon wheels slipped right off. We managed to get to the blacksmith's shop, and he put the tire in the fire until it was hot. Then he put it on the wheel, but it was still loose. We couldn't have gone a step without its coming off again. He brought cold water and poured over it, and soon it was as tight as could be. I thought the water made the wood of the wheel swell up—you know water does that to the pails and tubs when they leak; but now I believe the fire made the tire larger, and then the cold water made it small again. That is just what happened."
"But air can't grow bigger, can it?" asked Donald.
"If you can find an empty bottle, Donald," said Uncle Robert, "perhaps we can soon find out about it."
Uncle Robert took a piece of thin rubber out of his pocket and tied it tightly over the mouth of the bottle."
"By the way," he said, "is there anything in this bottle?
"No," said Susie, looking through the glass.
"Oh, yes," said Donald, "there is air in it."
"Well," replied Uncle Robert, "please get a pan of hot water, Frank."
Frank brought the water, and as Uncle Robert began to put the bottle into it they all exclaimed:
"Be careful; you'll break the bottle!"
"What will make it break?" asked Uncle Robert, pausing.
"Why, the hot water," said Susie.
"It always breaks glass if you put it in too quickly," said Donald.
"Well, we'll warm it a little first," holding the bottle close to the water. "I think I can try it now."
As he spoke he lowered the bottle into the water, and the rubber tied over the neck began to bulge out.
"See!" cried Susie. "What makes it do that?"
"Try the cold now," said Uncle Robert. "Here, Donald, hold the bottle in this pail of cold water."
"The rubber is going down," said Donald in a moment. "It is going right into the bottle."
"Does the air in the bottle pull the rubber in with it?" asked Susie.
"But, Uncle Robert," said Donald, "what if wagon tires, apples, and air do swell up when they are hot? I don't see what all that has to do with the thermometer."
"I think I see," said Frank. "Why wouldn't this gray stuff in the thermometer get bigger when it's hot, if everything else does?"
"What is it that moves up and down in the thermometer?" asked Susie.
"It is mercury," answered Uncle Robert, "which is sometimes called quicksilver."
"It looks like silver," said Susie, examining it closely.
"Perhaps you can see this better," said Uncle Robert, taking a small bottle of mercury from his pocket and pouring a little into Donald's hand.
"How heavy it is!" exclaimed he, letting it roll about. "It feels just like lead."
"It is almost twice as heavy as lead," replied Uncle Robert.
"Put it in my hand, Donald," said Susie. "There, you've spilled it on the floor! Just see it run around!"
"Is it always soft like this?" asked Frank.
"No, it becomes hard when it is very, very cold."
"How cold, uncle?" asked Donald, looking at the thermometer.
"Thirty-nine or forty degrees below zero," was the reply. "In the coldest of countries alcohol thermometers are used. It must be much colder than that to freeze alcohol."
"Why is mercury used, uncle?" asked Frank.
"Because it takes a very great heat to make it boil." said Uncle Robert. "Then you have seen how quickly it shows a change of temperature. When it is warm we call it a high temperature, and when it is cold it is called a low temperature."
"That is because the mercury goes up when it is hot, and down when it is cold, isn't it?" said Donald. "I wonder how it would feel if it was forty degrees below zero. See, it is away down to there!"
"Do you remember that day last winter when Peter froze his ears driving to town?" asked Frank. "Well, it was twenty below that day at the post office. I saw it. But father is calling me; I must go."
WITH THE ANIMALS.
"Don't forget to set that hen, Donald," called Mr. Leonard, as he and Frank went away together. "I think there are enough of those Plymouth Rock eggs for one more setting."
"You ought to see our little chickens, Uncle Robert," said Susie. "They are just too cunning for anything."
"When you go to set the hen, Donald," said Uncle Robert, "I will go with you. Then you can show me everything about the barn."
Donald went to the storeroom and soon came back with the eggs.
"There are thirteen," he said, as he joined Uncle Robert in the porch, "but I think she can take care of them. She's one of the largest hens we have."
Then together they went to the henhouse, which stood next to the barn. The chickens, seeing the basket in Donald's hand, ran toward him.
"You needn't think I am going to feed you again so soon," he said. "You have had one breakfast this morning."
Donald always talked to all the animals as though they could understand him.
The mother hens paid no attention. With quiet dignity they walked about, their broods of fluffy little chicks looking like balls of gold in the sunshine. With a "Cluck! cluck!" each anxious mother called her children to her as her sharp eyes discovered some new dainty. Then the greedy little yellow things ran as fast as their short legs could carry them to be the first to take the good things from the self-sacrificing mother.
"How many little chickens are there?" asked Uncle Robert as they stopped to watch them.
"There are forty-six hatched," said Donald. "Three hens are setting, and this one will make four."
"I see you have some fine turkeys, too," said Uncle Robert.
The big turkey cock spread his tail and strutted about before them as if he understood how much he was admired.
"Mother thinks a great deal of her turkeys," said Donald. "They are much harder to raise than the chickens. But mother knows just how to do it. We don't lose many."
"Have you ducks and geese, too?" asked Uncle Robert.
"Yes," said Donald, "but I don't see any of them about. They must have gone to the creek. There they are," and Donald pointed toward the pasture where a line of white could be seen moving slowly along under the trees.
"They march pretty well, don't they?" said Uncle Robert. "Do they always go that way?"
"Not always," said Donald, "but very often. When that old drake wants to take a swim, he starts and the rest follow. You'd never catch him walking behind."
"As the head of the family I suppose he thinks it is his place to lead," said Uncle Robert, smiling.
Donald laughed. "Wouldn't it he funny," he said, "if father made us follow him that way?"
They found the hen to whom they were carrying the eggs on an empty nest. Donald drove her off that he might put in the eggs, but she was very cross with him for disturbing her. She walked about with her feathers ruffled up, clucking angrily, but eagerly went back to her nest as soon as they were gone. She moved the eggs about with her feet, placed them to suit herself, and contentedly settled down.
Donald then led Uncle Robert into the barn, where old white Nell stood in her stall. Besides Nell there were three strong Normandies in other stalls, and two stalls that were empty.
Mr. Leonard had a very large barn. There was the main floor, running through from the two big rolling doors at either end. The great hay mows on both sides, reached by short ladders, held some of last year's cutting. Under the mows were the stalls for the horses and the stanchions for the cattle. A machine for cutting hay stood on the barn floor.
Under the barn was a deep, roomy cellar, in one corner of which was the sheep pen, lighted by large windows.
Near the barn was a tool house, in which all the tools and machinery were housed during the winter.
"It pays to have a nice warm barn and a good place to keep the tools from rusting," said Uncle Robert. "Do you always keep the horses in the barn when they are not in use?"
"Oh, no," said Donald. "Sometimes they run in the pasture along the creek. The cows and sheep are there now. After the timothy and clover are cut we'll put them in those fields."
"Do you keep many cows?"
"We have six cows and two calves," replied Donald. "Father gave one calf to Frank and one to me. They're beauties. All our cows are Jerseys. Frank and I are going to keep ours until they're grown. Then if they give as much milk as the other cows do—and I'm sure they will—we are going to take it to the creamery and sell it. There's a creamery not far from here."
"Does your father sell the milk there now?" asked Uncle Robert.
"Not now," said Donald. "Mother likes to make the butter herself."
"That's why it is so good," said Uncle Robert.
"Has Susie a calf too?"
Susie, tired of waiting for them to return, had come to see what they were doing. So she answered for herself.
"No, uncle," she said, "but I have the prettiest little lambs you ever saw. They always run to me when they see me coming. Please come out to the lot and see them."
"How many have you?" asked Uncle Robert.
"Two," replied Susie. "They're twins, and are just alike. Their mother is dead. It was cold when they were born. There was snow on the ground. Father brought them into the kitchen in a basket to keep them warm. Mother and I taught them to drink milk, so father gave them to me. I'm going to keep them always."
"Father likes us to have our own things to take care of," said Donald. "I think it's ever so much more fun, don't you, uncle?"
"Yes, indeed," said Uncle Robert. "But you help take care of all the animals, don't you?"
"Oh, yes," replied Donald, "and I like them all; but my calf seems just a little nicer than the rest. I know it isn't any better, really, but I like to think it is my very own."
They stopped to watch the pigeons circling about the pigeon house.
"I love to watch the pigeons," said Susie. "See all the pretty colors in their feathers!"
"Are they very wild?" asked Uncle Robert.
"Oh, no," said Susie, "they're very tame. When we throw grain to them they come down all around us."
"Come and see my pigs!" shouted Donald, who had run ahead and was looking into the pen.
Four white, fat Berkshire pigs lay in the straw, lazily rolling their little eyes toward their friend and feeder. A succession of grunts served for conversation.
"I put in fresh straw every day," said Donald, "so my pigs can keep themselves clean. And they have a patent trough to eat out of."
"I thought farmers in the West let their pigs run in the woods," said Uncle Robert.
"We had a lot of razorbacks for a while, but they didn't pay," said Donald. "Our Berkshires make nice pork."
"How warm the sun is getting!" said Uncle Robert as they turned away from the pigpen.
"The wind is from the southwest," said Donald, looking at the weather vane on top of the barn. "It always gets warmer when the wind is from that direction."
"Uncle," said Susie, "before we begin to plant the seeds let's go and see my lambs."
"You go ahead, and I'll get some salt for the sheep," said Donald. "They always run to me when they see me coming with a pan. They know what that means."
Donald soon joined them with the pan of salt.
"Mother says she can't work in the garden until afternoon," he said, "so we needn't hurry back."
As they entered the pasture the sheep were quietly grazing on the slope of the hill, where the grass was nibbled very short. A few lambs were frisking together at the foot of the hill.
"See the lambs playing, uncle," said Susie. "The two little ones with long tails and black noses are mine. Aren't they cunning? They'll see me in a minute. Then how they will run!"
The quick ears of the sheep caught the sound of their voices. They raised their heads. Donald held out the pan of salt, shaking it gently. In a moment one of the flock started slowly toward them. Donald stopped under one of the large oak trees that grew on the top of the hill. Uncle Robert and Susie stood beside him. The old sheep came nearer. One by one the rest of the flock began to follow. The lambs stopped playing. Susie held out her hand and called softly, "Come, Sally! Come, Billy!"
The two little lambs switched their tails and started up the hill. Donald sprinkled a little of the salt on the ground. Then the whole flock broke into a run, and the sheep were soon eagerly licking up the salt as Donald scattered it about for them.
Susie's lambs came straight to her side and began to lick her hands and sniff about her dress.
"They think I have something for them," she said. "Let me have some salt, please, Donald."
Filling each of her hands with salt, she held them out, and the lambs eagerly licked it from the little round palms.
"The cows are down by the creek, uncle," said Donald. "Shall we go to see them? You must see my calf."
"Come on," cried Susie, and began to run as fast as she could go.
The little lambs, always ready for a play, skipped about her. How merrily Susie did laugh as they ran ahead and then turned around with their noses to the ground and their tails in the air, waiting for her to come and catch them!
"They always want me to play with them," she said, quite out of breath, when Uncle Robert and Donald caught up.
"What beautiful cows!" exclaimed Uncle Robert as the little Jerseys lifted their shy faces from the grass to look at them. "I never saw finer ones."
"That is my calf," said Donald, pointing it out with much pride, "and that one over there is Frank's. The only way we can tell them apart is that Frank's has more black on its face than mine has."
"Toot-toot-t-o-o-t!" The sound came from the house.
"There's the horn!" exclaimed Susie. "It must be dinner time."
"So soon?" said Uncle Robert. "How quickly the morning has gone!"
"I tell you I'm hungry," said Donald. "I didn't think of it before, but I'm almost starving."
IN THE FLOWER GARDEN.
In the afternoon they all went into the garden. Donald and Mrs. Leonard began at once to set out the tomato plants that had been started in a box. Susie and Uncle Robert walked about, planning where the flower seeds should be planted.
"The verbenas are in this bed," said Susie. "I had them last year. I wish they would begin to come up. Don't you think, uncle, it will be nice to have the mignonette in with them?"
"Yes," replied Uncle Robert, "but where are your nasturtiums?"
"I haven't any nasturtiums," said Susie. "I wish I had. Jennie Wilson's mother had them last year. They bloomed all summer."
"We can send for some seeds and get them in time to plant," said Uncle Robert.
"Oh, thank you, uncle," exclaimed Susie. "How nice! I'll save this big bed for nasturtiums, and the bachelor's buttons can go over there."
"The nasturtiums would do better by the fence and the porch," said Uncle Robert. "They like to climb."
"All right," said Susie; "then we can have this bed for something else."
"Have you any poppies?" asked Uncle Robert, smiling. "Poppies are my favorite flowers."
"Are they, uncle? Then we'll have poppies in this bed."
"Thank you, dear," replied Uncle Robert, taking out his notebook. "We'll send for the poppy seeds, too."
"I think that finishes the beds," said Susie. "Let me see," and, walking down the path, she pointed out where each kind of flower was to grow.
"You might draw it now," said Uncle Robert; "then we'll make no mistake."
"Oh, goody!" cried Susie. "That's what I'll do. Wait until I get a pencil and paper."
"Here is a pencil," said Uncle Robert, taking one from his pocket, "and perhaps this old envelope will do to draw it on."
But Susie thought not. "It's too small," she said. "I'll get a nice piece of paper in a minute."
Away she ran to the house, and soon came back with a large sheet of fresh white letter paper in one hand and Frank's geography in the other.
"I'm going to draw my garden," she called to Donald and her mother, holding up the paper for them to see.
"I'll make the paths first," she said, laying the paper on the geography, and taking the pencil from Uncle Robert. "Then I can put in the beds afterward."
When the paths were drawn, Susie named the beds and marked them off on the paper.
"Please write the names for me, Uncle Robert," she said. "I can't spell all the big words."
"I will write them on this paper," said Uncle Robert, "and when you see how they look you can write them on your plan."
"Oh, yes," said Susie, "that will be the nicest way."
"See, mother," cried Susie, running to her, "this is my garden. Now I know just what is to be in every bed."
"Where are you going to get poppies?" asked Donald, looking at the plan on the paper.
"Uncle Robert is going to send for the seed," answered Susie. "He likes poppies best of all the flowers. We are going to have nasturtiums, too. They are to grow by the porch and the fence."
"That will be fine, dear," said Mrs. Leonard. "What a beautiful garden we shall have!"
"I can hardly wait," cried Susie, dancing along the walk. "Come, uncle, let's plant what seeds we have now."
"Do we need to do anything to the ground," asked Uncle Robert, "before the seeds are put in?"
"Only rake over the top a little," said Susie, taking up her rake and going to work. "It has been spaded. See how light and fine it is underneath! Ugh! I wish the old worms would keep out!"
"Don't be too hard on the worms," said Uncle Robert. "They are your best helpers."
"I don't see how that is, uncle," said Susie, looking up in surprise.
"You just said the soil was light and fine," said Uncle Robert. "Don't you know you have to thank the worms for keeping it so?"
"Are you sure, uncle?" asked Susie. "I thought the worms ate the plants."
"The earthworms never eat the plants," said Uncle Robert. "They eat the soil, and so keep it worked over. It is the cutworm that eats the plants."
Just then Donald came over from the vegetable garden.
"Why, you've only just begun," he said. "We're all through. Don't those tomato plants look nice?"
"Well," said Susie, "you didn't draw your garden. That took a long time, didn't it, uncle? You rake those beds for me, Don, while I put the seeds in."
"I'd just as soon," said Donald, taking the rake. "What goes here?"
"Mignonette," said Susie. "When any one wants to know about my garden now, they can look at the drawing."
Uncle Robert smiled.
"What makes you think you'll have mignonette there?" he asked, as Susie marked a little furrow with a stick in the soft, warm soil.
"Why, these are mignonette seeds," she replied. "I gathered them myself. Don't you think they'll grow, uncle?"
"Certainly I do," replied Uncle Robert.
"It would be a pretty dead seed," said Donald, "that wouldn't grow in this soil."
"Are seeds alive?" asked Uncle Robert, smiling.
"Why, I—I don't know," said Donald, looking puzzled. "I never thought about it. I just said that. They don't look like it, that's a fact, but they surely wouldn't grow if they were dead, would they?"
"Do all seeds grow in the same way?" asked Uncle Robert.
"I never thought about it," said Donald.
"Neither did I," said Susie. "I just know if I plant mignonette, mignonette will grow; and if I plant sweet peas, sweet peas will grow. That's all I ever thought about it."
"Would you like to know?" asked Uncle Robert.
"Oh, yes," said Susie.
"How can we?" asked Donald. "The seeds are in the ground, and we can't see them."
"If Susie is willing to dig up one of her sweet peas," said Uncle Robert, "perhaps it will tell us what it has been doing since she planted it last week."
"Oh, yes," said Susie. "See if you can find one, Don. I put lots in."
Down on their knees went Susie and Donald, and began digging in the soil.
"Here is one," said Donald, "just ready to come up, and another close to it. The tip of it must have been through. See, it is green."
"Wouldn't it be green in the ground?" asked Susie, looking closely at the tiny plant.
"Why, no," said Donald. "Things are never green when they're covered up. It's light that makes things green. Don't you know how yellow the grass gets if a board lies on it, and what yellow stalks the potatoes have when they sprout in the cellar? It must be the light that makes them green."
"Oh, yes," said Susie. "But see how big that pea is! It's about twice as big as it was when I planted it."
"See," said Donald, "the roots grow from the same place that the stem does. I should think it would be better if one came from one side of the pea, and one from the other."
"What becomes of the rest of the seed?" asked Uncle Robert.
"I don't know," said Susie. "Is it of any use?"
"It is of the greatest use," replied Uncle Robert. "The little pea plant couldn't live without it. It is its food that the mother sweet pea gathered last summer from the soil and air, and stored away in the little round ball for her baby to feed on until it should be big enough to get its own food."
"Do you really mean, uncle," cried Susie, with shining eyes, "that the sweet peas I have planted in that bed are the children of those I had last year?"
"Why not?" asked Uncle Robert, with a smile.
"I never thought of it before," said Susie, looking at the tiny plant in her hand; "but I like it. It seems just like a family."
"And that's what it is," said Uncle Robert.
"Don't you think this baby had better go back to bed?" said Susie, making a deep hole in the ground.
"Wait a moment, Susie," said Uncle Robert.
"Suppose we take it for a visit to the beans, and see if they grow like it."
So they went to the vegetable garden, where they found a great many plants, each with two strong, thick leaves sticking through the soil. Some were quite green and showed a tiny shoot between them. Others were yellow, with only the tips turned green.
"Dig one up, Don," said Susie, "and let's see if it is like the baby pea."
Donald pulled one up, but no bean was to be seen. The stem grew straight into the ground, ending with a little bunch of roots.
"Where's the bean?" asked Susie.
"These two leaves must be the bean," said Donald. "Don't they look like it?" He took a bean from his pocket and held it close to the little plant.
"Well, I never!" cried Susie. "If those two leaves aren't just the bean split open! Are they any good that way, uncle?"
"Yes, indeed," said Uncle Robert, smiling.
"They feed the little bean just as the pea does. But they do even more. What do you think they will do when the sun goes down and the air gets cool?"
"Oh, I know." said Donald. "I've seen them lots of times. They just shut together tight." "And that keeps the little bud you see in there as warm as you are in your bed."
"Isn't that wonderful?" said Susie. "Why, uncle, it's just as if they could think!"
"The leaves drop off after a while," said Donald. "I often see them lying on the ground."
"Yes," said Uncle Robert. "When the plant is strong enough to take care of itself, their work is done."
"Are there any other plants that make leaves out of the seeds, uncle?" asked Donald.
"Oh? yes," replied Uncle Robert. "Squashes and pumpkins do, and many others. Some have more perfect leaves than these. Let us look at the morning glories by the porch."
"They come up every year by themselves," said Susie.
She ran to her garden, saying, "I'm going to put this pea-baby to bed again. Do you think it will grow, uncle?"
"It may, but it is not good for it to be out of bed too long."
"I'll put a stick by it," said Susie, "so I can watch it. Good-by, baby," giving the ground a little pat; "go to sleep."
Then she ran after Uncle Robert and Donald.
"How thick the morning glories are!" said Donald. "Some of them have several leaves on, but here is one with only two."
"They don't look as the bean leaves do," said Susie. "The beans are so thick! These have real leaves."
"Yes," said Uncle Robert, "and if you could see them in the seed, you would see these leaves all curled up in their hard coat."
"This one is just putting its head through the ground," said Susie, "and it has part of the shell on it yet."
"It looks as the little chickens do sometimes," laughed Donald, "when they come out of the nest with a piece of the shell sticking to their backs."
"That hard shell is a great protection to the tender plant as it works its way up through the soil," said Uncle Robert.
"If these seed leaves are real leaves, uncle," asked Donald, "what feeds the baby morning glories?"
"There is plenty of food in the seed around the leaves," said Uncle Robert. "When the seed gets moist in the ground, it becomes so soft that the plant can use it. Have you ever noticed when you were eating corn the little hard bud that grows in each grain close to the cob?"
"Yes, uncle," answered Susie. "That is the sweetest part of the corn."
"That is the part," said Uncle Robert, "from which the new plant grows, and all the rest of the grain is the food stored up for it."
"I wish we had some corn," said Susie, "so we could see it."
"I'll go and get some," said Donald.
"Oh, do, Don," said Susie, "and while he's gone, Uncle Robert, I can plant the rest of my seeds. I have only a few left."
So Donald ran to the cornfield and Susie went to the garden. When he came back she had finished, and they joined Uncle Robert on the piazza.
"The corn grows out of the side of the seed," said Donald. "See what a big root it has for such a little plant!"
"How pretty those leaves are!" said Susie. "They look like two little green feathers." "Some one else had the same thought, Susie," said Uncle Robert. "Did you ever hear the story the poet Longfellow tells about how the corn came to the Indians? You know it is called 'Indian corn.'"
"No, uncle," said Susie. "Do tell us."
So as they sat beside him on the piazza. Uncle Robert told the story of Hiawatha and Mondamin.
"Hiawatha was a brave young Indian chief," began Uncle Robert, "who wanted to help his people. He knew that there were times when they had no food. In the winter the birds flew away. The 'big sea water,' as they called the great lake, was frozen over, and they could catch no fish. There were no wild berries in the woods.
"'Master of Life,' he cried,'must our lives depend on these things?'
"He was very unhappy. He could not eat. He lay in his wigwam, fasting and praying for some good to come to his people.
"One evening as he lay watching the setting sun he saw a youth coming toward him. His dress was green and yellow, and over his yellow hair he wore a bright green plume.
"'The Master of Life has sent me,' said the youth. 'I am Mondamin. It is only by hard labor Hiawatha, that you can gain the answer to your prayer. Rise now, and wrestle with me.'
"Hiawatha was weak from fasting, but he did as Mondamin commanded. Until the sun had set they wrestled together. Then Mondamin went away as silently as he had come.
"A second time he came, and a third. Then he said: "'You have fought bravely, Hiawatha. I shall come once more. You will conquer me. Then you must take off my dress of green and yellow and my nodding plumes. Make a bed in the soft warm earth for me to lie in. Let nothing come to disturb me as I slumber. Only let the sunshine and the rain fall upon me. You must watch beside me, Hiawatha, until my sleep is over.'
"Then he was gone.
"When they wrestled the next night it was as Mondamin had said. He was conquered. Then, day after day, Hiawatha came and watched,
"'Till at length a small green feather From the earth shot slowly upward.'"
"There it is," whispered Susie.
"Sh!" said Donald.
"Then another and another," continued Uncle Robert, "and before long the corn was waving its long, green foliage in the sunshine.
"'It is Mondamin!' cried Hiawatha,'the friend of man, Mondamin!'"
"What a lovely story!" cried Susie as Uncle Robert finished. "I wish Frank could have heard it."
"We'll find it in your mother's book of Longfellow's poems and let Frank read it," said Uncle Robert.
"Let's tell him about the seeds first," said Donald. "He'll like it better then."
SUNLIGHT AND SHADOW.
It was a busy time on the farm. Only when the day's work was over and they were gathered in the sitting-room was there time for the long talks with Uncle Robert that they all enjoyed so much.
"It's wonderful," said Mr. Leonard one evening, looking up from his paper, "how fast the corn is growing. Even the late planting is coming on."
"That's because the weather is so warm," said Donald.
"I wonder what makes it warm?" said Uncle Robert.
"Why, Uncle Robert," exclaimed Susie, "it's spring! That's what makes it warm."
"But what makes it spring, little girl?" asked Uncle Robert.
"Why, it is always spring in May," said Susie.
"I know of a country where it is spring in September," replied Uncle Robert.
"How can it be?" asked Susie. "I thought springtime always came in May."
"What makes us know that it is spring?" asked Uncle Robert.
"Oh, it gets warmer all the time. The birds come, things begin to grow, and the flowers bloom."
"But what makes all this happen just now?"
"It's the sun," answered Donald from the floor, where he was playing with his great St. Bernard dog, Barri. "You know it rises earlier and sets later every day now than it did a while ago. It's hotter too."
"It goes higher at noon," said Frank. "In the middle of summer it is almost straight over our heads, and in the winter it seems ever so much farther to the south. I've often noticed that."
"So have I," said Donald. "And in the winter the shadows are longer than they are in summer. It must be because the sun isn't so high up."
"Aren't shadows funny?" said Susie. "One day when I was coming in to dinner, just for fun I tried to walk on my shadow, and I could step on my head."
"I've done that lots of times," said Donald. "But it's a strange thing. Sometimes I can step clear over my head—I mean in the shadow—and then again I have to step on it."
"And when you jump," said Susie, "it spoils it. The shadow always jumps too."
"What kind of weather was it when you had to jump to it?" asked Uncle Robert.
"I don't remember," said Donald. "Would the weather make any difference?"
"I remember," said Susie, "because one time when I was jumping that way I fell down and was almost buried in the snow.
"Then it was winter, wasn't it?" asked Uncle Robert.
"It must have been," said Frank.
"And since you told us that the shadows at noon tell why it is warmer in summer than in winter I've been watching them. They get shorter all the time." "How would you like to measure the shadows every day," said Uncle Robert, "and see if you can find out when they are shortest and when they are longest?"
"How can we?" asked Susie. "Shadows are so queer."
"Yes," said Uncle Robert, "shadows are queer, but, if we take one that doesn't jump as yours does, don't you think we can measure it?"
"Of course we can," said Frank. "We can use the house. That always stands still."
"The house might do," said Uncle Robert; "but wouldn't it be better to have a shadow stick?"
"Where can we get one?" asked Donald.
"What is it made of?" asked Frank.
"It is like this," said Uncle Robert, taking paper and pencil from his pocket. "There is one long piece of board, and one short one nailed to the end—so," drawing it on the paper.
"Oh, that's easy enough made," said Donald. "We can do it ourselves right here in the tool house."
"Let's make it to-morrow, Don," said Frank.
"It must be set up some place with the upright end turned toward the south, so that just at noon the shadow of the short piece may fall straight on the board. By drawing a line across the board at the top of the shadow and marking the date on it, we can tell how the length of the shadow changes."
"Uncle," asked Donald, "when it is winter here, is it summer in some other part of the world?"
"Yes," was the reply, "and now that our summer is coming, the people there are beginning to have winter."
"Then," said Frank, "when it gets cooler here in the fall it is growing warmer there, and that would make their spring come in September, wouldn't it? Do you see, Susie?"
"Yes," answered Susie, "but it seems all mixed up. I thought it was the same as it is here all over the world."
"Oh, I didn't," said Donald. "I've read about countries where it is summer all the time, and is so hot that the people don't do anything but lie under the trees and sleep. And there are other countries where it is winter all the time, and the people dress in furs and make their houses of snow and ice. I read all about it in a book once, but it didn't tell why it was so. I knew, of course, the sun had something to do with it."
"Why, you know, Don," said Frank, "we learned all that in our geography at school."
"Yes," said Donald, "but I never thought about that in the geography as meaning any real country."
"What did you think it meant?" asked Uncle Robert.
"Oh," said Donald, "just a lesson in the book."
"Well," said Frank, "I always thought it was some country, but I never knew where. I didn't think much about it after I said the lesson."
"I should think not," said Uncle Robert, not sorry that the teacher had gone away and the school had been closed.
"I wish when books tell things they'd tell why they're so," said Frank.
"Perhaps if we think about these things," said Uncle Robert, "we may be able to answer some of the 'whys' for ourselves."
"We can tell by the thermometer just how warm it is every day," said Susie, "but it won't tell us why."
"The shadow stick may help us there," said Uncle Robert.
"I am afraid I shall forget," said Donald.
"I have some little notebooks in my trunk," said Uncle Robert. "Suppose I give you each one and let you write down what the thermometer and the shadow stick say every day."
"What fun that'll be!" cried Susie. "When may we begin?"
"To-morrow morning, if you like," replied her uncle. "I will get the books for you now."
He went away to his room, and soon returned with the notebooks.
"I'll tell you, uncle," said Frank as he thanked Uncle Robert for his book, "how would it do for each of us to look at the thermometer at a different time of the day?"
"The very thing!" replied Uncle Robert, well pleased. "You are always up early, Frank, so suppose you look at six in the morning, Susie at twelve o'clock, and Donald at six in the evening. How will that do? Then we shall have the record for the whole day."
"I think it will be such fun!" said Susie. "I wonder if our books will be very different."
"What makes you think they will be different?" asked Uncle Robert.
"It's always hotter at noon than it is at night or in the morning," said Susie.
"Do you know," said Uncle Robert, "there are places all over the United States where such records are kept? They are published, and I am to have them sent to me every week."
"I wonder if ours will be like them," said Donald, turning over the pages of his notebook.
"Even if they should be different." said Uncle Robert, "they may be just as true."
"We'll get up early and start the shadow stick the first thing in the morning," said Frank, "so as to have it ready by noon."
"How do you know when it is noon?" asked Uncle Robert.
"We look at the clock," said Susie.
"But noon by the clock is not always noon by the sun," replied Uncle Robert.
"How can that be?" asked Donald.
"It is noon somewhere on the globe every minute of the twenty-four hours," said Uncle Robert. "The sun is always setting and always rising somewhere."
The children were puzzled.
"I don't see how that is," said Donald.
"Let us see if we can find out," said Uncle Robert. "Frank, you stand at the east end of the room, Donald at the west, and Susie in the middle. Now, we'll play that Frank is in New York, Susie here at home in Illinois, and Donald in Denver. I'll take the lamp and be the sun. You are shadow sticks, you know. Now watch the shadows, and see when they point directly north."
Uncle Robert took the lamp and walked slowly from the east side of the room.
"My shadow points north," said Frank as Uncle Robert passed him.
"Now mine does," said Susie.
"And mine last of all," said Donald.
Uncle Robert took out his watch. It was ten minutes past eight.
"That is Susie's time," he said. "Would it be the same in New York, Frank?"
"I think it would be past that," said Frank, "but I don't know how much."
"It is ten minutes past nine by the watch in New York," said Uncle Robert.
"When would it be that time in Denver?" asked Donald.
"In an hour by the watch," said Uncle Robert, "but it would not be the same by the sun."
"Then the watches don't tell the true time, do they?" said Frank.
"The sun's shadows give us the true time," said Uncle Robert. "We will study the shadows, and by and by may learn how the watches and clocks are regulated. But how do you think people told the time before they had clocks?"
"It must have been by the sun," replied Frank.
"I can tell by the sun when it is noon," said Donald, "but I don't see how any one can tell any other hour that way."
"How do you know when it is noon?"
"Why, the sun is highest at noon." said Donald. "and the shadows point straight toward the north."
"Early in the morning they point to the west," said Frank, "and in the evening they point to the east."
"The people who lived in the world many hundred years ago observed the same thing," said Uncle Robert. "There was nothing so strange to them as the rising and setting of the sun. They loved the light that came with it. They feared the darkness that followed its going away. They told many interesting stories to explain this continued appearance and disappearance. Some thought the sun was a king riding through the sky in a golden chariot. Others looked upon it as a god and worshiped it.
"They soon learned that when it went away it was sure to come again, and as they saw how regularly it moved, they felt there must be some power back of it to guide it. Through this they were led to a belief in a Being that controlled all things.
"They watched the shadows, too, and saw them change just as you see them every day. They learned that the shadow is shortest when the day is half gone, and they called that time midday. So, by studying the length and direction of the shadows, they soon became able to judge the time of day.
"Then some one thought to set up a rod and mark the places where the shadow fell at sunrise, at sunset, and at midday. The space in between was divided for the hours. This was called a sun dial and was the first instrument ever made for telling time."
"When was the first one made?" asked Frank.
"That is not known," replied Uncle Robert, "but we read in the Bible of the sun dial of King Ahaz, who lived about eight hundred years before the time of Christ. That is the first record we have of one."
"How was it made?" asked Donald.
"I do not know how the one King Ahaz used was made," said Uncle Robert, "but I can show you how one looked that I saw in an old garden in England. This," drawing a half circle, "is the dial on which the hours were marked. Around this dial there was a border, much cracked, and crumbling away, but I could read the words, 'The sun guides me, the shadow you.' The rod, or gnomon, as it is sometimes called, stood just halfway between the ends. Where would the noon shadow fall, Susie?"
"In the middle, wouldn't it?" answered Susie.
"And the morning shadow would fall on the west and the evening shadow on the east side," said Frank.
"Now we'll put in the shadow stick," said Uncle Robert, drawing a triangle on the paper.
"Why don't you make it stand up straight?" asked Donald.
"The shadow does not tell the truth," said Uncle Robert, "unless it points in the same way that the north pole does, and that, we know, points to the north star. I will explain this some other time."
"Couldn't we make a sun dial?" asked Donald. "I don't believe it would be very hard."
"You could make one easily," answered Uncle Robert.
"But let's have the shadow stick first," said Frank.
Susie went to the window and looked out at the clear star-lighted sky.
"Uncle," she said, "the stars all look alike to me, only some are little and some are big. How can people know them by their names?"
"Just as anything else is known, dear," replied Uncle Robert, "by close and careful study."
"I wish we could study the stars," said Frank.
"We will some time," replied Uncle Robert. "Come out on the piazza now, and I will show you the north star. That will be a good beginning."
One day when it was Donald's turn to go for the mail he found among Uncle Robert's letters a small paper. On the wrapper he read "United States Weather Report."
It had come. There was already quite a line of figures in each of their notebooks. Now they could see what this other record was like. As he left the post office he stopped to look at the old thermometer beside the door. Then he mounted Nell and rode down the village street and out into the pleasant country road.
Uncle Robert was waiting for him on the porch, and as Donald rode away to the barn, after giving him the mail, he heard him say:
"Here, Frank, is the Weather Report. Open it and look at it while I read my letters."
Donald took off the saddle and gave the horse her supper. Then he hurried back to see what Frank had found on the inside of the important-looking wrapper. It proved to be a map with queer, crooked lines all over it, but it did not look at all interesting.
"Here it says temperature," said Frank, pointing to a list of figures in the corner. "Perhaps this is what we want."
"I don't see any numbers there like mine," said Donald, taking his notebook from his pocket.
"Let me help you," said Uncle Robert, laying aside his letters and coming to where they sat on the steps.
They made room for him, and, as he took the map, he explained:
"This, you see, is a map of the United States. These dotted lines tell about the temperature. For instance, look at this one which is marked fifty degrees. At every place in the country that is touched by this line on the map the thermometer stood at fifty degrees at the time the map was made."
"See," said Susie, "how crooked the line is. Why isn't it straight, uncle?"
"Because," was the reply, "as I told you, it goes wherever the temperature was fifty degrees. You remember, the first day we had our thermometer, we found that there are many things which affect the temperature. At some places along this line there are prairies, at others forests, at others lakes, and here," pointing to the map, "there are high mountains. All of these things affect the temperature, and that, of course, changes the direction of the line."
"You say Chicago is the nearest station to us, uncle," said Frank, looking down the temperature column. "My record for that day is not so very different from the one given here for Chicago."
"Which shows that yours is probably as nearly correct as this is," said Uncle Robert, with an encouraging smile.
"But I haven't one number in my book like that," said Susie, looking disappointed. "I don't see why."
"I do," replied Uncle Robert. "You make your record at noon, and of course, it is warmer then. That is what your book says, does it not?"
"Yes," said Susie, "every number in my book is more than that one."
"That is right," was the reply, "for this record was made at eight o'clock in the morning, which is nearer Frank's hour than it is yours. So we would expect his to be nearer like this than yours, wouldn't we?"
"It isn't like mine either," said Donald.
"We may have one some time that will be more like yours," said Uncle Robert, "for these records are made at eight in the evening as well as in the morning."
"Uncle," said Frank, looking closely at the map, "here it says 'High,' and there it says 'Low.' What does that mean?"
"It means," said Uncle Robert, "that here there is a low barometer, and there the barometer is high."
"Barometer," said Donald. "What is a barometer, uncle? Is it like a thermometer?"
"Well, not exactly," was the reply. "With the thermometer, you know, we tell the temperature of the air, and with the barometer we tell how heavy it is."
"How heavy the air is!" exclaimed Susie. "How funny! Why, uncle, air doesn't weigh anything, does it?"
"More than you think, little girl," said Uncle Robert, smiling. "But perhaps we can prove whether it does or not. Frank, will you get a pail of water? Donald, see if you can find a cork some place; and Susie, run in and get a tumbler."
When all was ready Uncle Robert asked Frank to fill the pan with water, and Donald to put the cork into it.
"There," said Donald, as the cork floated about on the pan of water.
"But I want the cork on the bottom of the pan," said Uncle Robert, "not on the top of the water."
"It won't stay there," declared Donald, pushing it into the water again and again with his finger. "It is too light. Corks always float."
"How can we make it go to the bottom?"
No one could tell. The children looked puzzled.
"Let us see what this will do," and, taking the glass from Susie's hand, Uncle Robert turned it over the cork, pressed it down into the water as far as it would go, and held it there. Looking through the glass, they could see the cork lying on the bottom of the pan.