Rollo's Experiments by Jacob Abbott
Rollo's Experiments by Jacob Abbott 1803-1879
JONAS AN ASTRONOMER
THE GREAT BEETLE AND WEDGE
THE LITTLE BEETLE AND WEDGE
JONAS AN ASTRONOMER.
One day, when Rollo was about seven years old, he was sitting upon the
steps of the door, and he heard a noise in the street, as of some sort
of carriage approaching. A moment afterwards, a carryall came in sight.
It drove up to the front gate, and stopped. Rollo's father and mother
and his little brother Nathan got out. His father fastened the horse to
the post, and came in.
When Rollo first heard the noise of the carryall, he was sitting still
upon the steps of the door, thinking. He was thinking of something that
Jonas, his father's hired boy, had told him about the sun's shining in
at the barn door. There was a very large double door to Rollo's father's
barn, and as this door opened towards the south, the sun used to shine
in very warm, upon the barn floor, in the middle of the day.
Rollo and Jonas had been sitting there husking some corn,- -for it was in
the fall of the year;- -and as it was rather a cool autumnal day, Rollo
said it was lucky that the sun shone in, for it kept them warm.
"Yes," said Jonas; "and what is remarkable, it always shines in farther
in the winter than it does in the summer."
"Does it?" said Rollo.
"Yes," said Jonas.
"And what is the reason?" asked Rollo.
"I don't know," said Jonas, "unless it is because we want it in the barn
more in the winter than we do in the summer."
"Ho!" said Rollo; "I don't believe that is the reason."
"Why not?" said Jonas.
"O, I don't believe the sun moves about in the heavens, to different
places, only just to shine into barn doors."
"Why, it keeps a great many farmers' boys more comfortable," said Jonas.
"Is it so in all barns?" asked Rollo.
"I suppose so," said Jonas.
After some further conversation on the subject, the boys determined to
watch the reflection of the sun's beams upon the barn floor for a good
many days, and to mark the place that it came in to, at noon every day,
with a piece of chalk. It was only a few minutes before the carryall
came up, that they had determined upon this, and had marked the place
for that day; and then Rollo had come out of the barn, and was sitting
upon the door step, thinking of the subject, when his reflections were
interrupted in the manner already described.
So, when Rollo saw his father getting out of the carryall, he ran to
meet him, and called out to him, talking very loud and rapidly,
"Father, Jonas says that the sun shines farther in, upon the barn floor,
in winter than in summer;- -does it, do you think?"
But this was not a proper time for Rollo to bring up his philosophical
question. His father had a carpet bag and several packages in his hands,
and he was also conducting Rollo's mother in, and thinking about the
horse and carryall. So he told Rollo that he must not speak to him then,
for he could not attend to him.
Rollo then walked along back into the yard, and began to think of the
subject of the sun's shining in at the south door. He looked up towards
the sun, and began to consider what sort of a change in its place, at
noon, on different days, would be necessary in order to account for its
shining in more at south doors and windows, on some days, than on
others. He reflected that if the sun were exactly overhead, at noon, it
could not shine in at any doors at all; for the rays would then strike
perpendicularly down the sides of the houses. While he was standing
thus, lost in thought, looking up to the sun, with his arm across his
forehead, to shelter his eyes a little from the dazzling rays, he
suddenly felt the pressure of two soft hands upon his ears, as of
somebody who had come up behind him. He turned round, and found his
cousin Lucy standing there.
Lucy asked him what he was thinking of, and he told her. He then took
Lucy into the barn, and showed her the chalk mark upon the floor. She
looked on with a good deal of interest, and said she thought it was an
excellent plan; and she wished there was a great barn with a south
floor at _their_ house. Lucy knew more about the subject than Rollo did,
and she gave him some explanations about it. "You see," said she, "that
the sun rises in the east every morning, and comes up higher and higher,
every hour, till noon; and then it begins to go down again, and at last
it sets in the west. But, at some times in the year, it comes up higher
at noon than it does at other times, and so it does not shine so much
into the door."
"It shines _more_, you mean," said Rollo.
"No," said Lucy; "not so much. In the winter the sun moves around by the
south, and keeps pretty low all day, and of course shines farther into
doors and windows."
Then, after a moment's pause, she added,
"If we should mark the place on the floor all the year round, we should
find what time the sun is farthest to the south."
"So we should," said Rollo.
"It would be in the winter," said Lucy.
"Yes," said Rollo; "in the middle of the winter exactly."
"Yes," said Lucy; "and in the middle of the summer it would be nearest
"Jonas and I will try it," said Rollo.
"I can try it in the house," said Lucy, "where the sun shines in at my
"O no," said Rollo; "that won't do."
"Why not?" said Lucy.
"Because the window does not come down to the floor, and so does not let
the sun in enough."
"O, that makes no difference," said Lucy; "we have nothing to do with
the bottom of the door; you only mark where it shines in the farthest,
and that place is made by the top of the door, for it shines in farthest
by the top of the door."
"Well," said Rollo, "I don't know but that the house will do; but then
you can't chalk on the carpet."
This ebook is in PDF format and is viewable on most computers. All you need is Adobe Reader which is available for free and already on most computers.