Page images

was shaped as curiously, and arranged with as much art as our own eyes.

Charles.- I am sure his teeth were as sharp as any crocodile's. Do you think they used to fight and tear each other to pieces ?

Aunt.—That I cannot say. As they were most of them herbaceous, or feeding on herbs, I would fain hope that they lived in peace and concord; but yet in the stomach of this creature you see the remains of a fish he has been devouring; this shows that animals lived upon each other as they do now.

Lewis.-How is it that these bones are imbedded in stone ?

Aunt.-Because the mud they were buried in has gradually turned to stone, like the chalk which I told you was once water. All the wonderful changes that have taken place on the face of the earth, have been caused by the action of water or fire. Those I have shown you are the effect of water; now I will show you some of the wonders of fire, and like the rest of the world


will no doubt say, he is the greater magician of the two.

Charles.-Look, look! Here's a real piece of gold from Australia.

Fanny.-And a real diamond ! and such lovely stones! These are worth coming to see !

Lewis.-And were these beautiful things made by fire? And where did the fire come from?

Aunt.–Do you recollect that I told you there were three kinds of rocks, Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary? Now these brilliant substances are found chiefly between the Primary and the Secondary, and we infer from their appearance that they have been partly melted by some intense heat, and that the precious metal has found its way into the veins of the rock nearest to it. Look at this vein of gold, running through a piece of quart: rock, that could only be broken by the blow of a hammer.

Charles. — I have read about quartz-crushing in Australia. That is to get the gold out of the rock, I suppose.

Aunt—Yes ; sometimes it is found in a large lump, and called a nugget, and often in such a shape that it is evident it must have been molten some time or other. As to where the fire came from I could not venture to say. All we know about it is that the lower we dig into the earth the hotter it is; and has not the earth huge fires, that are lighted up occasionally?

Fanny.-0 yes ! I know. Volcanoes you mean !

Aunt.-Yes; and they remind us that beneath us there must be a vast magazine of fiery substances, which find vent in volcanoes and earthquakes.

Charles.That's not at all a comfortable thought ! for it might break through any day.

Aunt.—Certainly. But hitherto we have been spared in this our favoured little Island ; while in Italy, only last year, thousands of persons were killed by earthquakes. Remember we live by God's assistance every moment, and our lives are in His hand. He holds in check those mighty powers that we call “ the elements.” They can destroy us at any moment, though we are permitted to control them in some degree.

Charles.-If I had been Uncle C- I would have had that gold made into sovereigns.

Aunt.-Then we should not have had the pleasure of seeing it. I hope, when you are older you will, like him, think less of gold, and more of the good use you may make of it.

Lewis.--But he might have given it to some charity, you know,

Aunt. Aunt.—True, and it is indeed putting gold to a good use to provide for the necessities of others; but it is still better perhaps, to provide for the instruction and amusement of their minds.

Charles.—But looking at a museum would never make a poor man less hungry.

Aunt.--I don't know that! Many a poor man who has left England to dig for gold, would have got on much better if he had looked at a museum, and found out where he was most likely to find the gold he was going to seek. It was superior knowledge that enabled à geologist in England to point out the spot where gold was most likely to be found in Australia, and which in. duced people to look for it. So you see knowledge is better than gold.

Lewis.- Is it wrong to like gold so much as people do?

Aunt.No; because it is one of God's good gifts, and very beautiful in itself. But to run after it, and coret it, and ruin body and soul for it, as people have done in all ages, is a sort of madness, particularly when we remember we must leave every grain of it behind us when we die.

Lewis.—But, Aunt, don't you think there will be gold and precious stones in Heaven? In that chapter of Revelations I am so fond of reading about, “the great white throne,” and the New Jerusalem, it says,

that the foundations are all of precious stones, and the streets of pure gold, and the gates of pearl.

Aunt.--My dear child, no human being can say whether that grand description is figurative, that is to say, means something far better than outward splendour, or whether it is literal. But I see no reason to doubt that the things which are so lovely and precious to us here, will be found hereafter in infinitely greater purity and brightness. We are on the outskirts of God's Creation in this world.

The beautiful things we see here, as dear old Dr.

Watts says:

“ They are but porches to Thy courts

And paintings on Thy walls.” And if the outer courts are so splendid, what must the Temple be! Therefore, do not let us be content with looking in at the gate and longing to be there, but let us strive boldly to “enter in,” and it will most certainly not be in vain.

M. J. T.

A RAINY EVENING. “OH DEAR, how it rains !” cried little Sophy Braithwaite running to the window, “it's going, I'm sure, to be quite a wet evening; how tiresome not to be able to get out, for we have nothing to amuse ourselves here as we have at home. I'd rather be at home again than by the sea-side, if it's going to be wet.”

“Nay,” said Miss Morrison approaching her, “I won't have the weather abused; what should we do, I


wonder, without rain ? It's one of our greatest blessings. But why won't you look at me, my dear?—not in tears surely? come let me see.” And taking hold of her niece's head with both her hands, she turned it playfully towards her.

“It's raining indoors as well as out now,” said Sophy's brother, looking up from his book.

Arthur's so unkind,” sobbed Sophy, “I shouldn't have minded about the rain so much only he had just been teasing me, and saying what I told him wasn't true.”

Indeed? come here Arthur, and let's know the rights of the case.”

Arthur put down “The Amyott's Home,” with some very natural unwillingness, and joined his aunt and sister at the window.

"Sophy maintains she saw a star fall,” said be, " and I say she could not, because stars never fall; they are all fixed, like our sun.”

But surely, Arthur,” said his aunt, "you have heard of those curious appearances called falling stars, haven't you?” It so happened that Arthur had never heard of them, and, fancying there was something to be ashamed of in the circumstance, he avoided the question by asking another. Stars never do really fall though, do they ? "

“No, but these appearances are called falling or shooting stars, because they look exactly like stars falling down from, or shooting across, the sky. a falling star no doubt which Sophy saw last night, they may often be seen at this time of year,-in the autumn, I mean, but I'm afraid it is beyond me to explain what they really are, as astronomers have never yet, I believe, been exactly able to ascertain their Cause."

“I knew they couldn't be really stars falling down to the ground,” said Arthur triumphantly, "I knew the stars were fixed in the sky."

“What do you mean by fixed in the sky, Arthur? You do not think of the sky as a solid arch, do you, and of the stars as so many candles fastened in it?” Arthur considered a minute, and then said, “No, I don't think

It was

that, for once when I asked papa how high the sky was, he said that the sky was nothing but space, and the stars were suns that stood in it."

“ The stars suns !” cried Sophy, “I thought there was only one sun, which we see rise and set every day."

“Oh but the stars are supposed to be suns too, only they look small because they're such an immense way off,--astrologers say so at least;” said Arthur, rather grandly. Astronomers you mean, my dear, not astrologers,said Miss Morrison. “Why aunt, doesn't one word do as well as the other? I know an astronomer means a person who studies the stars, and I thought an astrologer meant the same.”

“You are so far right; yet the two words have a different meaning: An astrologer means one who studies the stars for the sake of telling fortunes by them.”

• Telling fortunes! what, in the same sort of way that the gipsy woman wanted to tell your fortune, by looking at your hand ? how silly !"

"All astrologers were not silly people, though, Arthur; some of the wisest men of ancient times were astrologers, and perhaps I can explain to you how this may have happened. When the sun set, and darkness stole on, and the stars came out one by one, just as they do now, thoughtful men gazed up at them, admiring their beauty no doubt, but wondering much for what purpose they were placed in the sky; they were too far off, these men perceived, to give much light to the earth, but they might possibly serve as signs, to tell man what in the future would happen to him, and whether his life would be happy or miserable."

Well, that was a funny notion too, aunt, Sophy. “But when did men first begin to think that stars were suns?

Perhaps the first time such an idea entered into their heads was, when it was discovered that the earth is not the centre of the universe, but only a very small portion of it.”

“ Universe! I don't understand what that is at all: astronomy is so very difficult," sighed Sophy.

Oh, I think I know what the universe means," cried her brother, “it means the sun, and moon, and

y said

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


« PreviousContinue »