Although not written for children, this humorous precursor to Nichols' children's books shows the blend of story and science also found in her series fiction.
The Meridian Line
(Letter from a charming, though unscientific, friend in Washington, D.C.)
"I know I have owed you a letter
A shockingly, heartless long time,
And now, I can't do any better
Than frankly acknowledge my crime.
My excuse, you will find, is a good one,
Containing both reason and rhyme,
It is -- that in Washington City
One never has any spare time!
Indeed, it is something alarming
The way that one's life slips away,
Why, the hours seem no bigger than minutes,
And a week is no more than a day!
I am sure when I lived in New England
I always had 'something to show
For my time,' as Papa would express it,
But here, it is not at all so!
To be sure, I go some to receptions,
To Congress, and lunches, and balls,
And am forced by Papa's high position,
To make and receive many calls.
But all this don't fully explain it,
And here comes that reason of mine,
'Tis because (you can look at your atlas,)
I am on the Meridian line!
For longitude's reckoned from here, dear,
We are marked on the map with a nought,
And I'm sure that's what shortens the hours,
They don't seem as long as they ought!
You know the book tells about 'minutes,'
And minutes, of course must make hours,
Tho' (between us) that longitude chapter
Has always exceeded my powers.
I know I was stupid at school, dear,
In my lessons was always behind,
For I haven't the least taste for science,
Nor a clear mathematical mind;
But e'en dunces may stumble on truths, dear,
(Like that Indian discovering the mine,)
So don't laught at my theory startling
About this meridian line!
But consult with the savans, I pray you,
For, something must really be done,
And surely the same men could do it,
Who arranged the eclipse of the sun?"
-- Laura D. Nichols
[New Hampshire] Daily Patriot, December 1871
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