Stories of Great Americans for Little Americans - Edward Eggleston

Franklin Asks the Sunshine Something

One day Franklin was eating dinner at the house of a friend. The lady of the house, when she poured out the coffee, found that it was not hot.

She said, "I am sorry that the coffee is cold. It is because the servant forgot to scour the coffee-pot. Coffee gets cold more quickly when the coffee-pot is not bright."

This set Franklin to thinking. He thought that a black or dull thing would cool more quickly that a white or bright one. That made him think that a black thing would take in heat more quickly than a white one.

He wanted to find out if this were true or not. There was nobody who knew, so there was nobody to ask. But Franklin thought that he would ask the sunshine. Maybe the sunshine would tell him whether a black thing would heat more quickly than a white thing.

But how could he ask the sunshine?

There was snow on the ground. Franklin spread a white cloth on the snow. Then he spread a black cloth on the snow near the white one. When he came to look at them, he saw that the snow under the black cloth melted away much sooner than that under the white cloth.

That is the way that the sunshine told him that black would take in heat more quickly than white. After he had found this out, many people got white hats to wear in the summer time. A white hat is cooler than a black one.

Some time when there is snow on the ground, you can take a white and a black cloth and ask the sunshine the same question.