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of improving, it became worse and worse. At first it tasted badly, but it soon smelt unendurably. There was a great deal of house-cleaning and washing to do, but the women finally rebelled, and flatly refused to use the odoriferous stuff any longer, even for such base purposes, and it had been from the first utterly undrinkable. Weeville had always boasted of the purity of the water-bed that underlay this entire tract of land, and in his comparisons had placed it a long way ahead of the Croton. Of course he was called in. “It was useless to tell him any thing against the water; he was not going to believe any visionary stories originated by Irish servant-girls—he must taste it.” This he did not do, however; the smell was enough. “Pheugh s” he burst forth as it approached his nose. “I will tell you what is the matter—the well has never been cleaned out; that infernal well-digger has taken advantage of you, and left the pieces of dirt and rubbish that fall in-old bits of dinner, fragments of meat and cheese, perhaps—and which must always be removed, or they will decay, and spoil the water for a long time.” I immediately went after the well-digger in an intense state of wrath, and rated him soundly for his conduct; but he not only swore by all that was truthful that he had cleaned out the well, but called up the man that did it. A severe cross-examination having convinced me that they both told the truth, I returned home wondering how long it would take to learn to like stinking, as the Mississippians have learned to like dirty, water. I have always had a weakness for water. Whisky is the natural Ameri. can drink; lager bier is admirably suited to the Teutonic mistinesss of intellect; the frothy Champagne is adapted to the volatile Frenchman, and the thick ale to the muddled Englishman. Brandy is suitable for men, if we are to believe high authority. Gin, in the shape of Schnapps, was the daily potation of our respectable Dutch ancestors. Both are irreproachable liquors, and rum deserves a better reputation; but pure, cold, transparent spring or well water, fresh from its bubbling fountain, or drawn from the cold recesses of its deep receptacle, has always been very attractive to me, and for washing purposes it has no equal. The prospect, therefore, of doing without water was unpleasant. Cows, and horses, and pigs have not learned to appreciate strong drinks; they prefer the native element; and to draw for half a mile from the nearest good pump as much as a cow and a horse can swallow would require pretty nearly the entire time of the latter.
In the midst of our troubles, the rope broke—not the golden cord, fortunately, of any member of the household, but the cord that was fastened to the pail. Here was a dilemma To fish up a bucket out of forty feet of darkness was difficult; to use another pail till the first was removed was impossible. I began to think it would be necessary to dig a new well, when I was informed that a man could climb down the present one. This seemed to me a feat worthy of Hanlon; but I was prepared for the last extremities, even death itself—provided it was not my own—and simply said, “Let him do it,” as though seeing men cling to a slippery wall of stones, like a fly on a pane of glass, had been the commonest experience of my life. How he managed I did not care to see; but that he did go to the bottom was proved by what he brought up, which was, not the pail, but—a dead cat!
Cats are a singular and unreliable race; they never possess the intelligence of dogs, and are given to strange vagaries. They roam about continually, and
wander no one knows whither; but what should take a cat to the bottom of my well I can not understand. They are graceful creatures, and old maids and little children think them handsome; but, after they have been in water for three weeks, and become
much puffed up with their position, they are not handsome. Still, I was very glad to see that cat. The well-water visibly improved, and the pump was finally completed. To be sure, the maker could not spare time to put it up, but other men were readily engaged, and one evening, on my return from the city, I found it duly installed in its place, looking very attractive. It was a neat and appropriate pump, and, remembering the inconveniences and dangers of drawing water with a pail, I joyfully seized the handle and commenced to pump. I worked away right manfully for a few moments, but did not manage to bring up any water. When I stopped for an instant, a long sigh seemed to express the thing's regret that it could not accommodate me, or the suf. ferings to which my exertions put it. I recom. menced, and appeared to gain for a little distance, to judge by the effort required, but at a certain point success deserted me; the pump evidently was not equal to the occasion. I worked away on that hot August afternoon till the perspiration ran freely, if the water did not; and, when entirely convinced, if not satisfied, I indulged in as little strong language as the circumstances would admit, and sent for the pump-maker.
His bill had not been paid, and he came at once. When informed of the difficulty, he seized the pumphandle with amusing alacrity, but a few strokes changed his confidence to doubt. When he paused, the same appalling sigh that had greeted me announced a similar result, and I smiled amid my misery to see his manner change as he recommenced. After two or three attempts, he stopped suddenly and inquired,
“How deep is your well ?”