The Seasons: Winter  by Jane Marcet

The Sun

"Mamma," said Willy, "did not you say that the snowball would not melt if I left it out in the air?"

"I did, indeed, Willy; but I forgot the sun, and forgot to tell you that you should have placed it in a window on which the sun did not shine in the morning; for the sun's rays are so warm, that they will melt the snow, more or less, though it freezes very hard."

"But," replied Willy, "the sun shines on all the windows, Mamma."

"On all that are on this side the house; but run into the dining-room, and see whether it shines in at the windows there."

Willy set off as fast as he could go, for he was always fond of a scamper; and when he reached the dining-room, there was no sun shining in at the windows; and he went and looked out through every one of them, but could not see the sun up in the sky. "I wonder what is become of it," thought he to himself; "for there are no clouds to hide it."

Then his Mamma showed him that the sun could not be on both sides of the house at once. "But it will move round to the other side of the house, and shine in at the dining-room windows in the afternoon," continued she; "so that the room will be warm by dinner-time."

"It is very cold now," said Willy, "though there is a fire: much colder than this room."

"We have here not only a fire, my dear, but the sun shining in at the windows; so no wonder that it is warmer here. This room looks towards the east."

"The east—what is that, Mamma?"

"The east is where the sun rises in the morning; and the west is where it sets in the evening. Can you remember that?"

"I will try, Mamma."

So, in order to get it by heart, he began singing—"East and west, east and west."

"Oh!" cried Mamma, "if you make a song of it, you must turn it into rhyme."

"I don't know how, Mamma: will you make a song of it for me?"

So Mamma reflected for a minute or two, and then she said to Willy, "My song asks a question of the sun,—

"The east or the west—which like you the best?"

Then the sun answers—

"The east when I rise, when I'm setting the west."

"But that is all make-believe, Mamma; for the sun cannot hear what you say, and it cannot answer you."

"Oh yes, my dear; there is a great deal of make-believe in verses."

"But how does the sun set, Mamma?—what does that mean?"

"I will show you from the windows of the dining-room, this evening, my dear."

In the afternoon, while Willy was playing in the nursery, his Mamma called to him to come and see the sun shining in at the dining-room windows.

"Oh, oh, Mr. Sun!" cried Willy; "you are coming to pay a visit in this room now, are you?"

Then Willy slipped away in a hurry; and his Mamma wondered what he was gone for. Willy was gone to see whether the sun still shone in at the drawing-room windows as it did in the morning; but he found it was not to be seen there. So he came back, and told his Mamma he understood how the sun had moved in the sky, and come over to the other side of the house. "How red it looks, Mamma!—What is the matter with you, Mr. Sun? I hope you are not in a passion."

"No," said Mamma, laughing at Willy's fun; "but he often looks red when he is going to set."

"Why, Mamma?"

"That would be too difficult to explain to you, my dear, till you are much older than you are now."

"Oh, now, pray do, Mamma," cried Willy, coaxingly: "you know I always understand what you explain to me."

But Mamma gently shook her head. So he added, "almost always."

"That is true," said his Mamma; "but it is because I do not explain to you what is too difficult for you to understand. Look, Willy, at those beautiful red clouds: it is the sun shining on them which makes them look so red."

"They look, Mamma, almost as if they were on fire, burning."

"No," replied she; "they are made of water, just like the black clouds which hid the sun this morning."

"Were you ever up in the clouds, Mamma, to see what they are made of?"

"No, my dear; but sometimes the clouds come down to us. The first time they do, I will call you to see them."

"Oh! I shall like that very much, Mamma: but are you sure they will not fall upon my head, and hurt me?"

"Yes, my dear," said Mamma, smiling; "I should not call you to see any thing that would hurt you.—Now the sun is just going to set, Willy. Look! it is going down behind the hill yonder."

"In the west, Mamma: I don't forget that when the sun sets it is in the west. And is it gone to bed there?"

"No," replied she: "people say sometimes that the sun is gone to bed; but that is make-believe, or fun."

"Then, where is it gone, Mamma?"

"It is gone to make daylight in other countries a great way off: it would not be fair if it always staid with us, and left other places in the dark."

"No, indeed," cried Willy; "besides, we do not want its light when we are asleep at night: so we can spare it then very easily."

"Yes," said Mamma; "we will let it go to make daylight in other countries while we are asleep."

Willy thought for a moment, and then exclaimed,—"How funny, Mamma! Then the sun makes it daylight in those other countries when it is dark here?"

"Yes," said she: "the sun cannot be here and there at the same time: so when it is daylight here, it is dark-night there; and when night comes here, it is because the sun is setting,—that is, going to shine in another country."

"There! it is going, Mamma. Good night, Sun! Oh, no; I must not say good night, Sun, for it is never night to the sun, but always day; for, wherever he shines he makes it daylight.—Then, Mamma," said Willy, "the little boys in the country where the sun is now going are not going to bed, I suppose?"

"No, my dear; they are just getting up; they are just beginning to see the sun. And what do you say when you are beginning to see the sun?"

"Ann showed it to me the other day; and she said, 'Jump out of bed, Willy, and come and see the sun, it is just rising.' "

"Well, then," continued Mamma, "now that it is set to us, the little boys in the country it is gone to see it just rising; and perhaps their nurses may call to them to jump up and look at it. But, Willy; you must be off to bed now; and, perhaps, you may awake to-morrow morning early enough to see the sun rise, when it returns to us."

"Oh yes, Mamma; and then the little boys in the country it leaves will be going to bed! How funny that is!"

Then he sprang on his Mamma's lap to kiss her, and ran up to bed.