Page images


Charles.-How I should like to have a sail in that boat! but there are only two men in it, and it is covered with heaps of white stuff. What is it?

Aunt.—Look down before you.

Lewis-Oh! how steep! there is the river and one or two of those beautiful boats-and now something comes out from just below here, a little cart that moves of itself, full of the lumps of white stuff which they empty into the boat—and now comes another!

Charles.—Do let us go down, Aunt, and see how they do it.

Aunt.-Gently-come a little further; see, here is a path, step carefully, and we shall soon be near them.

Now, to their great delight, they found themselves close to the river, and were so absorbed in watching the loading of the boats that they quite forgot what they came in quest of.

Charles.-Oh Aunt ! look how nicely the waggons run along this little baby railway.

Aunt. --This is called a tram-road, and instead of being the baby it is the father of the great rail-roads ; and it was used many years before railways were invented.

Charles.—Where do the waggons come from, Aunt? Do they bring these white blocks from some great mine or cave ?

Aunt. We will go and see—now creep along under this rock; now you see we are in a large round space that has already been dug out or excavated.

Lewis.-- How steep the sides are, and so white, I can hardly bear to look at them!

Charles.- Why, Aunt, I always thought that under the earth it was all black mould, such as we dig in our garden.

Aunt. It is well to look beneath the surface sometimes, Charley!

Now they passed through another narrow gorge, and found themselves in another opening larger than the first, the walls steeper and higher, and workmen, by tens and twenties, were working hard in the blazing sun; some with pickaxes were detaching large blocks of the stone, others were loading the little waggons, that

Do they

without any fatigue ran merrily down the inclined plane, and seemed really to enjoy their part of the work.

Charles.—How hot those poor men are ! work so hard all day? and what is the use of this white earth?

Aunt::- It makes mortar, and many more useful things.

Lewis.— I remember when the men were building our house, they had heaps of it, and stirred it about with hot water, for 1 saw it smoke.

Aunt. There again your eyes were not quite to be trusted—but I must tell you about that another time, for here comes the gentleman who owns the quarry. A gentleman with a coat as white as his workmen's now came up, to shake hands with the Aunt; and after talking to her a little while, said, kindly smiling at the two boys, “ walk this way, ma'am, and I will see whether we have anything to show you." They followed him to a remote corner of the quarry, where the stone was not pure white, but streaked and mottled.

66 Now Baines," said the gentleman, to the one man who was working, “ have you found anything curious to-day ?"

Well, master, I've lit upon summut, I should say, it is uncommon hard to the pick.” After a few dexterous strokes, a large mass rolled to their feet amidst a cloud of dust. " Here is a very fine specimen;" and he showed to the asto hed boys some shells as perfect as any they had picked up on the sea-shore. *Oh! the shells ! the shells ! I'd quite forgotten, hadn't you ? burst from the boys, while they almost danced for joy.

I like to see young people take an interest in these things,” said the kind gentleman; “ and if you like, my boys, you may take home as much as you can carry from this heap, or that yonder; but now I must wish you good morning." " Thank you ! thank you !" and “ how kind !” was echoed after him as he quickly disappeared, and the boys pounced on their treasures, and began rummaging with the greatest delight. Look, look, Aunt! what I have got here, why, its a beautiful sea-hedgehog, just like those you have in your cabinet, only that it is so brittle I hardly dare touch it, and this is hard as stone,-how very odd ! and this large round

stone, all coiled up, and marked so prettily, what a splendid centre for our rockery !"

Aunt.—That is a “Cornu Ammonis," – Jupiter's horn. But what a heap you have collected ! do you mean to borrow one of the little waggons to carry them home? “ Ah! I wish we could ! but we must throw

away all these ugly flints." “ No, not at all,” said their Aunt;

we may find something beautiful inside." “O how can we carry them home; havn't

you something of a basket, dear Aunt ?”

Aunt Mary now produced from under her cloak, a black sack that had often accompanied similar expedie tions, and was always welcome on account of the stores of cake and bread and butter it contained. Sit. ting down, they enjoyed the contents thoroughly, but did not forget to give a slice of cake to their friend Baines. They had the pleasure, too, of seeing that the men had left off their work, and were sitting in a shady nook of the quarry, passing round the beer can, and chatting merrily. And now Aunt gave the warning that they must return homewards, and having filled basket, pockets, and handkerchiefs, with the best selection they could make of the treasures before them, they soon reached the mouth of the quarry, and experienced a new sensation of pleasure in feeling the fresh air and mounting the steep hill-side.

Charles.--O how pleasant it is here! I should not like to be working all day in that quarry, even with the chance of turning up something curious.

Lewis.—But, Aunt, I do wonder how it is that shells could get to be at the top of a hill.

Aunt. — That has puzzled wiser heads than yours or mine.

Charles.-But, does the white chalk always lie under the black mould ?

Aunt.-Not always. Within a very short distance you would find yellow rock, called sandstone. When you have a little more knowledge you will see how beautifully and conveniently the surface of the earth is covered by the hand of our kind Heavenly Father. The

various rocks and minerals are arranged in layers, or strata, as they are called. Nearest the centre of the earth lie the hardest rocks, such as granite, of which our bridge is built, and these are called primary; near to these rocks, the precious metals, gold and silver, are found. Above these, marble, like our chimney-piece, and softer stones, coal and chalk ; these are called secondary. Last of all come clay, such as we make bricks of, and mould in which grow our seeds and plants. This is called tertiary, like the ball I lately

You know I took a bard ball and put layers of leather over it; then wrapped it round with list, and on these strata I worked a cover of different. coloured worsteds, to make it gay and pretty. And look, what an embroidery covers the ball we live on. Look at these lovely little flowers that grow best on the chalk, the eye-bright and the sweet wild thyme, and on this white bank, a bee-orchis, I declare !

made for you.

[merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

Charles. — We'll dig it up, and plant it in your garden, Aunt.

Aunt.No thank you, dear- let us leave them al} to the bees, who seem so happy amongst them allthey would only die in our black mould. Now to return to our geology. Can you remember those three words? They mean, first, second, third. Lewis.—

Yes, primary, secondary, tertiary- but do they go right to the middle of the earth? I have often wondered what is just in the middle.

Aunt.—That is still a puzzle to the wisest men. But the rocks I have named are several miles in thickness.

Charles. What! rocks a mile thick! Do you know,

Aunt, when I was a very little boy, I thought if I dug a hole very deep I should come out at New Zealand. But I only made myself very hot, wasn't I a silly fellow?

Lewis.- I wonder how they dug up the granite for the bridge, as there are miles of rock above it.

Aunt. —You may well wonder at that-human beings would never have been able to use the harder and deeper rocks, and might never have suspected their existence. But, by the kind providence and wonderful arrangement of our Heavenly Father, these very rocks are the means of turning up to the surface the countless treasures that would otherwise have been hidden from our eyes. These hardest rocks, the “ adamantine bands” of the earth, as they may be called, have, by some enormous force, been upheaved through the strata above them, and stand now the loftiest mountains in the world! The Alps, the Andes, and all mountain chains, are formed of granite. Do you remember the hymn,

“I sing the Almighty power of God

Which made the mountains rise." Granite peaks may be known at once by their grand pointed outlines, very different indeed from the round chalk hills that lie before us.

Charles.-0 Aunt, how I should like to see a real mountain, and climb to the very top.

Aunt.—I hope you will have that pleasure when you are a man, but remember you will have no real enjoy. ment unless your eyes are first opened to the wonders that lie around you at home.

Lewis. I think those high mountains look cold and gloomy in pictures, always white with snow. I had rather remain in the beautiful valleys below.

Aunt.-Those beautiful valleys are prepared for man, by the up-heaving of the mountains. The marble, the coal, the chalk, the clay, are brought to view by the mountain, as it were, rending them asunder; I will make this clearer by a little sketch when we reach home.

Lewis.—And if we could climb to the tops of the highest mountains, should we find shells there too ?

« PreviousContinue »