| Stories of Great Americans for Little Americans|
|by Edward Eggleston|
|Very simply told stories of warriors, statesmen, explorers, scientists, inventors, men and women of letters, and others. Featured are Marquette in Iowa, Penn and the Indians, Thomas Smith and the beginning of rice culture in South Carolina, Franklin and the ants, Putnam and the wolf, and dozens of other stories. Ages 7-9 |
FRANKLIN AND THE KITE
WHEN Franklin wanted to know whether the ants could
talk or not, he asked the ants, and they told him. When
he wanted to know something else, he asked the sunshine
about it, as you have read in another story. That is
the way that Franklin came to know so many things. He
knew how to ask questions of everything.
Once he asked the lightning a question. And the
lightning gave him an answer.
Before the time of Franklin, people did not know what
lightning was. They did not know what made the
thunder. Franklin thought much about it. At last he
proved what it was. He asked the lightning a question,
and made it tell what it was.
 To tell you this story, I shall have to use one big
word. Maybe it is too big for some of my little friends
that will read this book. Let us divide it into parts.
Then you will not be afraid of it. The big word is
Those of you who live in towns have seen the streets
lighted by electricity. But in Franklin's time
there were no such lights. People knew very little
about this strange thing with a big name.
But Franklin found out many things about it that nobody
had ever known before. He began to think that the
little sparks he got from electricity were small
flashes of lighting. He thought that the little
cracking sound of these sparks was a kind of baby
So he thought that he would try to catch a little bit
of lightning. Perhaps he could put it into one of the
little bottles used to hold electricity . Then if it
behaved like electricity, he would know what it
was. But catching lightning is not easy. How do you
think he did it?
First he made a kite. It was not a kite just like a
boy's kite. He wanted a kite that would fly when it
rained. Rain would spoil a paper kite in a minute. So
Franklin used a silk handkerchief to cover his kite,
instead of paper.
He put a little sharp-pointed wire at the top of
kite. This was a kind of lightning rod to draw the
lightning into the kite. His kite string was a common
hemp string. To this he tied a key, because lightning
will follow metal.
The end of the string that he held in his hand was a
silk ribbon, which was tied to the hemp string of the
kite. Electricity will not follow silk.
One night when there was a storm coming, he went out
with his son. They stood under a cow shed, and he sent
his kite up in the air.
After a while he held his knuckle to the key. A tiny spark flashed
between the key and his knuckle. It was a little flash of lightning.
Then he took his little bottle fixed to hold
He filled it with the
electricity that came from the key. He carried home a bottle of
lightning. So he found out what made it thunder and
After that he used to bring the lightning into his
house on rods and wires. He made the lightning ring
bells and do many other strange things.
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