Water—A Scrimmage and Timotheus—The
Wigglers—Pure Water and Philosophy—Archaeology and Muggins—Mrs.
Thomas and Marjorie—Dromore—Rawdon’s Insolence and Checks—On the
Road and Tramp’s Song—Maguffin and the Pole-cart.
“Ere’s this beastly ’ole of a Peskiwanchow,” said Mr. Rawdon as the pedestrians came to a rather larger clearing than usual, prominent in which was the traditional country tavern.
“Is it clean?” asked Wilkinson.
“Well, there hain’t hany pestilence that walketh hin darkness there, not to my knowledge; though they say hif you keep your lamp lit hall night, they won’t come near you; but then, the blessed lamp brings the mosquitoes, don’t you see?”
Mr. Wilkinson did see, but was glad of the information, as the look of the hotel was not reassuring.
“Ullo, Matt!” cried his new friend to the coatless landlord. “I’m back, you see, hand ’ave brought you a couple of guests. Look sharp with supper, for we’re hall ’ungry as ’awks.”
The ham which they partook of, with accompanying eggs and lukewarm potatoes, was very salt, so that in spite of his three cups of tea Wilkinson was thirsty. He went to the bar, situated in the only common room, except the dining-room, in the house, and asked for a glass of water. A thick, greenish fluid was handed to him, at which, as he held it to the light, he looked aghast. Adjusting his eye-glass, he looked again, and saw not only vegetable and minute animal organisms, but also unmistakable hairs.
“Where do you get this water?” he asked in a very serious tone.
“Out of the well,” was the answer.
“Are you aware that it is one mass of animal and vegetable impurities, and that you are liable to typhoid and every other kind of disease as the natural effect of drinking such filth?”
The landlord stared, and then stammered that he would have the well cleaned out in the morning, not knowing what sort of a health officer was before him. But the crowd at the bar said it was good enough for them, as long as the critters were well killed off with a good drop of rye or malt. Wilkinson asked for a glass of beer, which came out sour and flat. “See me put a head on that,” said the landlord, dropping a pinch of soda into the glass and stirring it in with a spoon. The schoolmaster tried to drink the mixture, but in vain; it did not quench the thirst, but produced a sickening effect. He felt like a man in a strange land, like a wanderer in the desert, a shipwrecked mariner. Oh, to be on the Susan Thomas, with miles of pure water all round! Or even at home, where the turning of a tap brought all Lake Ontario to one’s necessities.
“Is there no other water than this about?” he asked in despair.
“Wy, yees,” answered Matt; “thay’s the crick a ways down the track, but it’s that black and masshy I guess you wouldn’t like it no better.”