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Jane Marcet

The Wind and the Weathercock

"M AMMA," cried Willy, on coming into his Mother's room, "what a great wind there is to-day! I do think it will blow down some of the trees. I should like to see them torn up by the roots."

"Oh, the poor trees!" exclaimed his Mother.

"You know they cannot feel, Mamma," replied he.

"No: but look what a beautiful thing a large tree is, now that the leaves are out! and if it was blown down, you know all the leaves, and the tree itself, would die; would not that be a pity?"

"Well, but let us go out and see."

"Not to-day, my dear; this strong East wind would blow us away."

"What does East wind mean, Mamma?"

"It means that the wind blows from the East; you know whereabouts the East is?"

"There," said Willy, pointing to a hill, "that is the East, because the sun rises just at the top of that hill."

"Look at that weathercock on the stables, Willy; do you not see four great letters round it? tell me what they are."

"Oh, I can read them very well, they are so large.—First, there is a great E; it points to the hill where the sun rises."

"It is to tell you that is the East," said his Mother.

"But I know it already, Mamma."

"It is not only to tell you,  but every body who looks at it; and some people may not know which is the East. Suppose you were at Ash Grove, Willy, and could not see that hill; you would not know which was the East, unless you could see a weathercock."

"Oh yes, I could, Mamma. I should get up very, very early in the morning, and see the sun rise, and then I should know which side was the East."

"A very good way," replied she; "but a weathercock is still better; for you may see which is the East all day long without rising so very early. Then the weathercock shows you also which is the West; can you find out that, Willy?"

"Oh yes; West begins with a W. I see the great W pointing to the place where the sun sets. And what do the two other letters mean?"

"N means North, and on that side the sun never goes. S means South, and on that side you will see the sun in the middle of the day."

"Is it the middle of the day now, Mamma? for the great S points to the sun, I think."

"Not quite," said his Mother; "twelve o'clock is reckoned the middle of the day, and it is now only ten. But the weathercock shows you something else besides East, West, North, and South; do you see that little thing in the shape of a cock, which points now to the East?"

"What, that thing at the top, Mamma, which moves about so much: look, now it moves on this side,—now it is gone round to the other; how funnily it does jump about!"

"This cock points to the place from which the wind comes."

"Then, Mamma, if I got a ladder, and turned the cock round to the W, it would point to the West, and then the wind would blow from the West. I should like to do that, Mamma; because when this East wind was over, you said that you would take me out."

His Mother began to laugh;—"Why, Willy," said she, "do you think it is the weathercock that makes the wind blow, or the wind that makes the weathercock blow about?" Willy looked puzzled. The truth is, he fancied that the weathercock somehow or other made the wind blow; but when he saw his Mamma smile, and he thought more about it, it seemed to him that such a little thing as a weathercock could not move the wind.

"Come," said his Mother, "let us try to make a weathercock, and then you will understand it better." She then took a card, and began by cutting it square, so that the four sides should be of the same length; then she cut it into the shape of a cross, and at the four points of the cross she left a square piece of card; and then she took a pen and ink, and on these four points she wrote in large letters, E, W, N, S. "Now, Willy," said she, "what shall we do for a stick to fasten our weathercock upon?"

Willy offered the stick of his drum, but his Mamma said that it was a great deal too thick. They looked about some time to find a stick that would be thin enough: at last his Mamma found a piece of wire, which was strong and straight, and she fastened her card weathercock on it. She pushed the wire through the middle of the cross, and then tied it on so that it could not move.

"Mamma, if you tie it so tight it will not blow about, to show which way the wind comes."

"It must not blow about, my dear; look at the weathercock yonder; the letters do not move; it is only the cock which moves."

"Oh, the cock," cried Willy; "I had quite forgotten the cock. If it had been a real live cock, Mamma, it would have cried 'Cock-a-doodle-doo!' and then I should not have forgotten it; but it looks very little like a cock, does not it?"

"Very little indeed," replied she; "but as it is not made to crow, but to point out which way the wind blows, it is much better it should be a make-believe cock, that is, a weathercock, than a real one. It is called weathercock because it shows you when the weather is stormy and windy."

"But it cannot show you that the sun shines, or that it rains," said Willy.

"No," replied his Mother, "it shows you only which way the wind blows."

"Then," said Willy, "I think it ought to be called a windcock, not a weathercock. But, Mamma, you must make the cock."

His Mamma took a pair of scissors and a small piece of card, and cut it into the shape of a cock; and she stuck it on the top of the wire."

"Now you must not tie that fast, Mamma; it must move about with the wind; but if you don't tie it, will it not fall off?"

"No," replied she; "the hole through which the wire passes is so small that the cock will keep on, and yet be able to move round."

When it was finished his Mamma held it up, and Willy was so much pleased that he jumped about for joy.

"Oh, what a pretty weathercock! and can you make wind, Mamma, to blow it about?"

"Suppose you try to blow it with your mouth, as you blow your milk when it is too hot?"

Willy began blowing as hard as he could, and was delighted to see the cock move; first he blew on one side of the weathercock, then on the other. "The cock always turns its head towards my mouth, Mamma, which ever side I blow from."

His Mamma then showed him that the body and tail of the cock were much larger than the head and neck; so that, when he blew against the cock, much more of the wind from his mouth went against the body and head, and pushed it round.

"But it does not go quite round, Mamma; when it has got to the other side it stops."

"Yes," replied she; "it cannot go further without coming round to meet the wind you blow, and it cannot move against the wind. Now," said she, "Willy, which wind will you be? East, West, North, or South?"

"I will be the East wind, just as the real wind blows now."

His Mamma held the weathercock up to him, with the letter E next to his mouth. Willy blowed as hard as ever he could, to imitate the strong East wind; and his breath went against the body of the cock, and pushed it half round, and the head was turned towards Willy's mouth. Afterwards Willy made believe to be the West wind, and then the North and the South wind; till at last he was quite tired of blowing so hard. "Oh dear! how I am out of breath!" said he, gasping for breath. "Pray, Mamma, open the window, and let the real wind blow it."

"The wind is so strong, that, perhaps, it might blow your weathercock out of your hand quite away; so you had better take it into the nursery, and see whether Ann cannot help you to blow."

Willy ran off to Ann; he was always desirous of showing her any thing he had new, or of telling her any thing he had learnt. He now held up the weathercock in great glee, and then told her how he was the winds—all the four winds that blow from the North, and the South, and the East, and the West.

"But now, Ann, I am so tired of blowing, that you must help me; do, pray, leave off working and blow."

"I think," said Ann, "there is something in this room that will blow better than you or I, Willy, and that will never be tired. Cannot you guess?" said Ann; "think a little;" and she turned her eyes slyly to the corner of the chimney.

"Oh yes, I can guess," said Willy; "it is the bellows; to be sure, the bellows can blow the weathercock, it blows the fire so well: "so he ran to fetch the bellows, and Ann held them and blowed, while Willy held the weathercock opposite to the mouth of the bellows, and the bellows blowed much better than either Willy, or even Ann; but, after Ann had blown all the four winds, she said she must leave off and return to her work, for she had no more time to spare.

Then Willy put his weathercock by, in a closet in which he kept his toys; and said he should play with it again another day.