“Next after the doctors, a school-teacher took the house, and made a few changes, for convenience apparently, for substantially it remained the same; for he, too, escaped as by the skin of his teeth. Finally, after the foreclosure of many lives, the sickness and fatality of the property became so marked, that it became unsalable. When at last sold, every sort of prediction was made as to the risk of occupancy; but, by a thorough attention to sanitary conditions, no such risks have been encountered.”
These deaths were suicides,—ignorant ones, it is true, not one stopping to think what causes lay at the bottom of such “mysterious dispensations.” But, just as surely as corn gives a crop from the seed sown, so surely typhoid fever and diphtheria follow bad drainage or the drinking of impure water.
Boiling such water destroys the germs of disease; but neither boiled water nor boiled germs are pleasant drinking.
If means are too narrow to admit of the expense attendant upon making a drain long enough and tight enough to carry off all refuse water to a safe distance from the house, then adopt another plan. Remember that to throw dirty water on the ground near a well, is as deliberate poisoning as if you threw arsenic in the well itself. Have a large tub or barrel standing on a wheelbarrow or small hand-cart; and into this pour every drop of dirty water, wheeling it away to orchard or garden, where it will enrich the soil, which will transform it, and return it to you, not in disease, but in fruit and vegetables. Also see that the well has a roof, and, if possible, a lattice-work about it, that all leaves and flying dirt may be prevented from falling into it. You do not want your water to be a solution or tincture of dead leaves, dead frogs and insects, or stray mice or kittens; and this it must be, now and again, if not covered sufficiently to exclude such chances, though not the air, which must be given free access to it.
As to hard and soft water, the latter is always most desirable, as soft water extracts the flavor of tea and coffee far better than hard, and is also better for all cooking and washing purposes. Hard water results from a superabundance of lime; and this lime “cakes” on the bottom of tea-kettles, curdles soap, and clings to every thing boiled in it, from clothes to meat and vegetables (which last are always more tender if cooked in soft water; though, if it be too soft, they are apt to boil to a porridge).
Washing-soda or borax will soften hard water, and make it better for all household purposes; but rain-water, even if not desired for drinking, will be found better than any softened by artificial means.