I will not dwell on this uncomfortable period, further than to tell you that we considered the complaint to have had its origin in a malaria, arising from a cellar below the kitchen. When the snow melted, this cellar became half full of water, either from the moisture draining through the spongy earth, or from the rising of a spring beneath the house; be it as it may, the heat of the cooking and Franklin stoves in the kitchen and parlour, caused a fermentation to take place in the stagnant fluid before it could be emptied; the effluvia arising from this mass of putrifying water affected us all. The female servant, who was the most exposed to its baneful influence, was the first of our household that fell sick, after which, we each in turn became unable to assist each other. I think I suffer an additional portion of the malady from seeing the sufferings of my dear husband and my beloved child.
I lost the ague in a fortnight’s time,—thanks to calomel and quinine; so did my babe and his nurse: it has, however, hung on my husband during the whole of the summer, and thrown a damp upon his exertions and gloom upon his spirits. This is the certain effect of ague, it causes the same sort of depression on the spirits as a nervous fever. My dear child has not been well ever since he had the ague, and looks very pale and spiritless.
We should have been in a most miserable condition, being unable to procure a female servant, a nurse, or any one to attend upon us, and totally unable to help ourselves; but for the prompt assistance of Mary on one side, and Susannah on the other, I know not what would have become of us in our sore trouble.
This summer has been excessively hot and dry; the waters in the lakes and rivers being lower than they had been known for many years; scarcely a drop of rain fell for several weeks. This extreme drought rendered the potatoe-crop a decided failure. Our Indian-corn was very fine; so were the pumpkins. We had some fine vegetables in the garden, especially the peas and melons; the latter were very large and fine. The cultivation of the melon is very simple: you first draw the surrounding earth together with a broad hoe into a heap; the middle of this heap is then slightly hollowed out, so as to form a basin, the mould being raised round the edges; into this hollow you insert several melon-seeds, and leave the rest to the summer heat; if you water the plants from time to time, it is well for them; the soil should be fine black mould; and if your hills are inclining to a hollow part of your ground, so as to retain the moisture, so much the finer will be your fruit. It is the opinion of practical persons who have bought wisdom by some years’ experience of the country, that in laying out and planting a garden, the beds should not be raised, as is the usual custom; and give us a reason, that the sun having such great power draws the moisture more readily from the earth where the beds are elevated above the level, and, in consequence of the dryness of the ground, the plants wither away.