Rainy Day



NEVER were there more anxious watchers of the weather than were in the Burnham household that midsummer morning. It was the day set for the Sunday-school picnic, and the children had looked forward to it, and talked of nothing else, for several days. And now it looked like rain! They were all, Edna, Chrissy, and Katrine, with Carl and Fritz, out in the yard looking at the sky, and holding up their hands to see if they could feel a sprinkle.

"It does rain!" said Edna, with a wail in her voice; and when two or three great drops fell on Chrissy's face, and she echoed the words of her eldest sister, they all turned and went into the house. Very sober faces they wore.

"If it were anything but a picnic, we could put on our waterproofs and go," said Edna; "but rain spoils a picnic, anyway."

Presently the rain fell heavily, and the children knew that they were shut in for the day. Katrine hugged her large rubber doll, while Fritz bounded his ball lightly. Edna took a piece of paper, and began to draw a picture. Now and then she erased a false line with the head of her pencil. Chrissy, while brushing her hair, began coaxing her mother for a circle comb.

"What good would it do you? You would break it in almost no time," replied Mrs. Burnham.

"Oh, no! They don't break easily! You know they are made of rubber, and are ever so limber!"

"Dear me!" said Carl; "I'd like to know what isn't made of rubber! There are our overshoes, our coats, our hats, and grandpa says his eye glass bows are made of rubber; and mother's clothes-wringer is made of rubber, at least the rollers are, and my suspenders are made of rubber, and ever so many other things, like hairpins and jewelry!"

"My dolly is made of rubber, too," said Katrine,

"But it isn't black like a comb."

"But they are made of the same thing, anyway!" affirmed Carl; "I know, for I read about it in a book." Here Grandpa Burnham, seeing trouble ahead, came to the front. While he had appeared to be otherwise absorbed, he had not lost a word of the children's talk.

"Carl is right, little one," he said, patting Katrine's head lovingly. "They all come from the same thing, all these different articles you have named, and many more; and a very useful substance it is, too. What would Edna's picture look like if she had to leave all her mistakes in it? Or how would Carl, here, get over to the post-office tonight after my paper without his boots and coat? And yet when I was a boy, we had none of these things."

The children opened their eyes in astonishment.

"And you can remember when India rubber was first invented, or discovered!" said Edna.

"Yes; I remember very well the first pair of rubber overshoes I had; I think you would laugh at them. They were of solid rubber, the sole and heel as thick as my finger, and the upper part as thick as a piece of very heavy leather. Pencil erasers were not common then, and when a pair of overshoes was worn out, we used to cut what was left into small pieces, and use them as erasers. That was about the year 1828, though I believe India rubber was in use for erasing pencil marks one hundred years ago; and I read somewhere that a piece an inch square cost thirty or forty cents."

"But, grandpa, please tell us what it is made of," said Chrissy.

"And who discovered it," said Edna.

"And I want to know why some of it is black like my shoes, and some white like my dolly," added Katrine.

"I know what it is made of," said Carl; "it comes from a tree. The tree grows in the tropics β€”or the trees, for there are several kinds that produce the gum. They tap the trees, not just as we do for making maple sugar, but they cut out a chip with an axe as high up the trunk as a man can reach, and the sap or juice that runs out is what the rubber is made of."

"Edna wants to know who discovered it," said grandpa. " The use of the pure gum, which was just the juice of the tree dried either in the sun or over a fire, was known to the natives of the tropical regions where the tree grows, long ago; and it began to be used in France and England about the beginning of the present century. But it was not until 1844 that a man named Goodyear made some important scientific discoveries in regard to it, and patented his invention for using it in a variety of forms. The difference in color is owing to the difference in the manner of preparing it for use."

"I suppose that man Goodyear made a great deal of money out of his inventions?" said Carl.

"I presume he did at last; but he was very poor while he was studying the subject, and making his experiments. It is said that he was so poor that his bed was sold to pay his debts; and that his credit was so low he could not buy a farthing's worth of anything. Often there was neither food nor fuel in the house, and still he worked on, not for a little while, but for ten long years! It took so long to find out how to make something very useful out of what was once an almost useless gum.  There is a lesson of patience and perseverance for you, Carl."

"I was just thinking," said Edna, "how many things God has given us that we have to study about, and find out, by thinking how to use them."

"Yes," said grandpa. Then a far-away look came into his eyes, and presently he said:β€”

"But Himself we cannot find out even by searching. 'Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!'"β€”




Faye Huntington.