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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 248 pages of information about Elbow-Room.

Then the Dorcas passed a resolution declaring that it would, perhaps, be better to let the heathen go naked and give the clothes to the poor at home.  Maybe that is the better way.

CHAPTER IX.

JUDGE TWIDDLER’S COW.

For several months previous to last summer Judge Twiddler’s family obtained milk from Mr. Biles, the most prominent milk-dealer in the village.  The prevailing impression among the Twiddlers was that Mr. Biles supplied an exceedingly thin and watery fluid; and one day when the judge stepped over to pay his quarterly bill he determined to make complaint.  He found Mr. Biles in the yard mending the valve of his pump; and when the judge made a jocular remark to the effect that the dairy must be in a bad way when the pump was out of order, Mr. Biles, rising with his hammer in his hand, said,

“Oh, I ain’t going to deny that we water the milk.  I don’t mind the joking about it.  But all I say is that when people say we do it from mercenary motives they slander the profession.  No, sir; when I put water in the milk, I do it out of kindness for the people who drink it.  I do it because I’m philanthropic—­because I’m sensitive and can’t bear to see folks suffer.  Now, s’pos’n a cow is bilious or something, and it makes her milk unwholesome.  I give it a dash or two of water, and up it comes to the usual level.  Water’s the only thing that’ll do it.  Or s’pos’n that cow eats a pison vine in the woods; am I going to let my innocent customers be killed by it for the sake of saving a little labor at the pump?  No, sir; I slush in a few quarts of water, neutralize the pison, and there she is as right as a trivet.

“But you take the best milk that ever was, and it ain’t fit for the human stomach as it comes from the cow.  It has too much caseine in it.  Prof.  Huxley says that millions of poor ignorant men and women are murdered every year by loading down weak stomachs with caseine.  It sucks up the gastric juice, he says, and gets daubed all around over the membranes until the pores are choked, and then the first thing you know the man suddenly curls all up and dies.  He says that out yer in Asia, where the milkmen are not as conscientious as we are, there are whole cemeteries chock full of people that have died of caseine, and that before long all that country will be one vast burying-ground if they don’t ameliorate the milk.  When I think of the responsibility resting on me, is it singular that I look at this old pump and wonder that people don’t come and silver plate it and put my statue on it?  I tell you, sir, that that humble pump with the cast-iron handle is the only thing that stands betwixt you and sudden death.

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