And all this time I have not said a word about how, while the great forests lay under pressure for millions of years, the oils that were in the growing plants (just as oils are in many growing plants now) were pressed out, and flowed into underground reservoirs, lying hidden there, until one day not many years ago a man accidentally bored into one. Up came the oil, spouting and running over, gushing out and streaming down to a little river that ran near by. As it floated on the surface of the water (for oil and water will not mix, you know), the boys, for mischief, set fire to it, and a stream of fire rolled along down the river; proving to everybody who saw it, that a new light, as good as gas, had come from the coal. Now those of us who have kerosene lamps may thank the oil-wells that were prepared for us so many years ago.
When your hands or lips are cracked and rough from the cold, does your mother ever put on glycerin to heal them? If she does, you are indebted again to the coal oil, for of that it is partly made.
And now let me tell you that almost all the uses for coal have been found out since I was a child; and, by the time you are men and women, you may be sure that as many more will be discovered, if not from that storehouse, certainly from some of the many others that our good Father has prepared for us, and hidden among the mountains or in the deserts, or perhaps under your very feet to-day; for thousands of people walked over those hills of coal, before one saw the treasures that lay hidden there. I have only told you enough to teach you how to look for yourselves; a peep, you know, is all I promised you. Sometime we may open another door together.
THE HIDDEN LIGHT
There were plenty of gold-green beetles in the forest. Their violet-colored cousins also held royal state there; and scarlet or yellow with black trimmings was the uniform of many a gay troop that careered in splendor through the vine-hung aisles of the hot, damp woods. But clinging to the gray bark of some tree, or lying concealed among the damp leaves in a swamp, was the gayest and fairest of them all, if the truth be told.
A little blackish-brown bug, dingy and hairy, not pleasant to look upon, you will say; surely not related to such winged splendors as play in the sunlight. Yet he is true first cousin to the green and gold, or to the royal violet; has as fair a title to a place in your regard, and will prove it, if you will only wait his time. He is like those plain people whom we pass every day without notice, until some great trial or difficulty calls out a hidden power within them, and they flash into greatness in some noble action, and prove their kinship to God.
We need not wait long; for as soon as the sun has set, our dull, blackish bug unfolds his wings and reveals his latent glory. He becomes a star, a spark from the sun’s very self. If you can prevail upon him to condescend to attend you, you may read or write by his light alone.