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Carrying parcels with their feet
And on high
In the sky,
Little thoughtful creatures sit
Little things with lovely eyes
When my eyes I once again
O dear me,
That I could be
THE FAIRYLAND OF SCIENCE
I HAVE promised to-day to introduce you to the fairyland of science.
Let us see for a moment what kinds of tales science has to tell, and how far they are equal to the old fairy tales we all know so well. Who does not remember the tale of the “Sleeping Beauty in the Wood,” and how under the spell of the angry fairy the maiden pricked herself with the spindle and slept a hundred years ? How the horses in the stall, the dogs in the courtyard, the doves on the roof, the cook who was boxing the scullery boy's ears in the kitchen, and the king and queen with all their courtiers in the hall remained spellbound, while a thick hedge grew up all round the castle and all within was still as death. But when the hundred years had passed, the valiant prince came, the thorny hedge opened before him, bearing beautiful flowers; and he, entering the castle, reached the room where the princess lay, and with one sweet kiss raised her and all around her to life again.
Can science bring any tale to match this?
Tell me, is there anything in this world more busy and active than water, as it rushes along in the swift brook, or dashes over the stones, or spouts up in the fountain, or trickles down from the roof, or shakes itself into ripples on the surface of the pond as the wind blows over it? But have you never seen this water spellbound and motionless ?
Look out of the window some cold frosty morning in winter, at the little brook, which yesterday. was flowing gently past the house, and see how still it lies, with the stones over which it was dashing now held tightly in its icy grasp. Notice the wind ripples on the pond; they have become fixed and motionless. Look up at the roof of the house. There, instead of living doves merely charmed to sleep, we have running water caught in the very act of falling and turned into transparent icicles, decorating the eaves with a beautiful crystal fringe. On every tree and bush you will catch the water drops napping in the form of tiny crystals; while the fountain looks like a tree
of glass with long, down-hanging, pointed leaves. Even the damp of your own breath lies rigid and still on the window pane, frozen into delicate patterns like fern leaves of ice.
All this water was yesterday flowing busily, or falling drop by drop, or floating invisibly in the air; now it is all caught and spellbound — by whom? By the enchantments of the frost giant, who holds it fast in his grip and will not let it go.
But wait awhile; the deliverer is coming. In a few weeks or days, or it may be in a few hours, the brave sun will shine down; the dull-gray leaden sky will melt before him, as the hedge gave way before the prince in the fairy tale, and when the sunbeam gently kisses the frozen water, it will be set free. Then the brook will flow rippling on again; the frost drops will be shaken down from the trees, the icicles fall from the roof, the moisture trickle down the window pane, and in the bright, warm sunshine all will be alive again.
Is not this a fairy tale of nature? And such as these it is which science tells us.