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Jane Marcet

Removal to Ash Grove

Part II

J OHN now came in to say that the carriage was ready. Willy was so impatient to set out, that he was down stairs in a moment; and forgot his hat, so that he was obliged to go up again to fetch it. They then got into the carriage; and the coachman drove off for Ash Grove. Willy amused himself with thinking how pleased he should be to see all the pretty flowers in the garden; and Alpin; and, above all, Johnny Barton, who had promised to teach him how to sow seeds, and hoe, and rake, and take care of his garden. After some time he began to grow impatient, and think they would never arrive. He often asked his Mamma when they should get to Ash Grove; till she was weary of answering the same question, and desired him to ask it no more. Willy then amused himself with looking at the wheels of the carriage as they turned round. "The wheels," said he, "go on just like my hoop when I trundle it: but what makes them go round, Mamma; for nobody trundles them?"

"No," said his Mother; "but what is it that makes the carriage go on?"

"Oh, the horses, to be sure. The horses pull the carriage, and that makes the wheels go round. I know it is very easy to make them go round; for, one day, when the coachman was washing the wheels, he let me turn one of them, and I could do it all alone."

"Because," said his Mamma, "the wheel was lifted off the ground for the coachman to be able to turn it easily, that he might wash it all round; and a wheel is much easier to turn when it is raised off the ground than when it is resting on it. But it is the most difficult to turn when there is a heavy carriage to draw along, as there is now; neither you nor the coachman would be strong enough to do it; and therefore we get horses to do it, for they are stronger than men."

"But, Mamma, when I turned the wheel round, the coachman said it was very easy, because he had been greasing the wheels."

"Grease is a very slippery thing," said his Mamma; "and by putting the grease to that part of the wheel that fastens it to the carriage, it makes the wheel slide round the axle more easily."

"What is the axle, Mamma?"

"It is the piece of wood which goes through the middle of the wheel, and fastens it to the carriage."

"Oh, yes, I know," said Willy; "it is what the coachman put the grease on—the wheel turns round upon it, and the axle stands still."

"The axle does not turn round like the wheel," said his Mother; "but, when the carriage goes on, the axle must go on with it: so it does not stand still, but moves straight on."

"To be sure," said Willy, laughing, "the axle cannot stay behind when the carriage goes on, or else the carriage would be all broken. But the axle stood quite still when I turned the wheel round, Mamma."

"Certainly," replied she; "because the carriage stood still."

She then leaned out at the carriage window, to show him the axle.

"And what are those pieces of wood that stick out from the axle all round, and are fastened to the great hoop?"

"They are called the spokes of the wheel; and you see they fasten the axle and the hoop together. If they were taken away, the hoop would fall down directly, and could not roll on the carriage."

"Just as my hoop fell down, Mamma, when I did not know how to trundle it."

The wheels turned round and round, till Willy was tired of looking at them; but still they did not reach Ash Grove. He again became impatient; when, fortunately for his amusement, several flies of different sorts flew into the carriage.—"Look, Mamma," said Willy, "at those little animals—no, insects I mean; that is the name you told me."

"Yes," replied his Mother; "but you must remember that insects are animals also."

"Oh! there is a beautiful large blue one crawling up the window outside: it is larger than a fly, and has such long thin wings, I can see quite through them. I can see its head and its tiny mouth, Mamma. Is it a gnat?"

"No, my dear: it is called a dragon fly."

"But it is called an insect, too, Mamma, is it not?"

"Certainly," replied she.

"Then, what a great number of names it has; for it is an animal, and an insect, and a dragon fly: one, two, three names, for such a little thing!"

"Suppose, Willy, you were to come to me and say,—'Mamma, when I was out walking, I saw an animal'—how could I guess what sort of an animal you had seen?"

"Oh, but I should tell you whether it was an insect, or a bird, or a fish, or a great animal with four legs."

"You could not, if it had no other name than animal."

"No," replied Willy; "I know it must have another name besides animal."

"Well, then, suppose you told me that it was an insect you had seen; I should ask you what sort of insect it was."

"Then, Mamma, if I said a dragon fly, you would know all about it?"

"I should know, at least, what insect you had seen."

"And have all insects three names, Mamma, as well as the dragon fly?"

"Yes: first, they are all animals; then they are all of them insects; then they have each different names to distinguish the different sorts of insects. One is a dragon fly, another is a bee, another a butterfly: but I should never have finished, were I to name them all, there are so many; indeed, I do not know the names of half of them."

"Not you, Mamma?" exclaimed Willy, with surprise.

"No, my dear; there are a great many things I do not know."

"And have birds three names, too, Mamma?"

"Yes; but try to find them out yourself. What are the three names of the little bird you fed with crumbs of bread last winter?"

"First, it was an animal," said he, thoughtfully; "that I am sure of: then it was a bird, because it flew——"

"Stop!" said his Mother; "are there not some animals that fly, that are not birds?"

"No, Mamma; horses, and cows, and those sort of animals, do not fly."

"But, Willy, have you already forgotten the insects we have been talking about so long?"

"Oh dear; to be sure, insects fly—they are always flying about: but I forget they are animals, because they are so little."

"Then," said his Mother, "if birds fly, and insects fly, how can you tell one from the other?"

"Oh, it is very easy to know a bird from an insect," said Willy; "a bird is so much larger."

"In some countries," said his Mother, "there are birds so small, and insects so large, that you could not distinguish them one from the other by their size."

"Then, how do the people there know birds from insects?"

"A bird," replied his Mother, "has feathers, and no other sort of animal has. Well, now, tell me the third name of the bird, Willy."

"Oh, I remember, Mamma, it was a sparrow.

"And have not great large animals, like cows and horses, three names, as well as birds and insects?"

"Yes," replied his Mother; "but one of their names is very difficult—I am afraid you will hardly be able to remember it. They are called quadrupeds."

"What an odd name!" exclaimed Willy: "and what does it mean?"

"It means an animal with four feet."

"Then dogs, and cats, and rats, and mice, are quadrupeds, as well as cows and horses?"

"Certainly," replied his Mother.

"Look, Mamma," cried Willy; "there are a great number of quadrupeds in that field."

"What are they?"

"Why, first, they are animals, Mamma; then they are quadrupeds; and, besides that, they are sheep."

"Well, now you see, Willy, that four-legged animals have three names as well as birds and insects."

As they were talking, time had passed on so quickly, that Willy was quite surprised when they came within sight of the house.—"There it is, Mamma!" exclaimed he: "not the little tiny house that we saw from the hill; but great Ash Grove, as large as it really is."