Curious discoveries are frequently made in the rags. Old pockets, containing small sums of money, are occasionally found. A foreign coin valued at about $3 was found a few days ago. In the paper stock, quaint and valuable old books or pictures are found often. One of the workmen has a museum composed of curiosities found amid the rags and shreds of paper. Rev. Dr. Bolles, of Massachusetts, makes an annual pilgrimage to Mechanic Falls for the sake of the rare old pamphlets, books, and engravings that he may dig out.

Stuffed in hogsheads, the rags are lowered from this room through a hatchway, and are given a red hot lime bath. They are placed in ponderous cylinders of boiler iron, which revolve horizontally in great gears high above the floor. A mixture of lime and water, which has been prepared in large brick vats, is poured over them. An iron door, secured by huge bolts, is closed on them. The cylinder slowly turns around, and churns the rags in the lime-juice twelve hours. This process is called bleaching. When the rags come out they are far from white, however. They are of a uniform dirty brown hue. But the colors have lost their gripe. When the rags shall have been submitted to the grinding and washing in pure water, as we shall see them presently, they are easily whitened. The lime bath is the purgatory of the paper stock.

Before we go any further, we must see what becomes of those soft and lop-sided bundles which are going into the mills. These contain chemically prepared wood fiber, a certain percentage of which is used in nearly all the papers made now. It gives the paper a greater body, although its fiber is not so strong as that made of rags. The pulp comes down from Canton in soft brown sheets. These are at once bleached. The brown fiber is placed in a bath of cold water and chlorate of lime. There it quietly rests till a sediment settles at the bottom of the tank. At an opportune moment the workman pours in a copious libation of boiling water. This causes the escape of the chlorine gas, which destroys all the color in the pulp. In half an hour it comes out, a mass of smoking fibers as white as a snow heap. The drainers into which it goes are large pens with perforated tile floors. The pulp remains in the drainers till it so dry it is handled with a pitchfork.

We are now ready to look at the beating machines, which have to perform a very important part in paper making. These are large iron tanks with powerful grinders revolving in them. Barrow loads of the brown rags are dumped into them, and clear cold water is poured in. The grinders are then started. They chew the rags into fine bits. They keep the mass of rags and water circulating incessantly in the tanks. Clean water constantly flows in and dirty water as constantly flows out. In the course of six hours the rags are reduced to a perfectly white pulpy mass. There is one mill, as we have said, devoted exclusively to the reduction of rags to this white pulp. It is dried in drainers such as we saw a few moments ago filled with the wood fiber.

There are other beating machines just like these, which perform a slightly different service. Their function may be compared to that of an apothecary's mortar or a cook's mixing dish. The white rag stock and the white wood fiber are mixed in these, in the required proportions. At this stage, the pulp is adulterated with China clay, to give it substance and weight; here the sizing (composed of resin and sal soda) is put in; oil of vitriol, bluing, yellow ocher, and other chemicals are added, to whiten or to tint the paper. These beaters are much like so many soup kettles. Upon the kind, number, and proportion of the ingredients depends the nature of the product. The percentages of rag pulp, wood pulp, clay, coloring, etc., used, depend upon the quality of paper ordered.

After the final beating, the mixture descends into a large reservoir called the "stuff chest," whence it is pumped to the paper machine. The pulp is of the consistency of milk when it pours from the spout of the pumps on the paper machine. The latter is a complicated series of rollers, belts, sieves, blankets, pumps, and gears, one hundred feet long. To describe it or to understand a description of it would require the vocabulary and the knowledge of a scientist. The milky pulp first passes over a belt of fine wire cloth, through which the water partly drains. It is ingeniously made to glide over two perforated iron plates, under which pumps are constantly sucking. You can plainly see the broad sheet of pulp lose its water and gain thickness as it goes over these plates. Broad, blanket-like belts of felt take it and carry it over and between large rolling cylinders filled with hot steam. These dry and harden it into a sheet which will support itself; and without the aid of blankets it winds among iron rolls, called calenders, which squeeze it and give it surface.

It is wound upon revolving reels at the end of the machine.

If a better surface or gloss is required, it is carried to the super calendering mill, where it is steamed and subjected to a long and circuitous journey up and down tall stands of calenders upon calenders. The paper is cut by machines having long, winding knives which revolve slowly and cut, on the scissors principle--no two points of the blade bearing on the paper with equal pressure at once. Girls pack the sheets on the tables as they fall from the cutters, and throw out the damaged or dirtied sheets. A small black spot or hole or imperfection of any sort is sufficient to reject a sheet. In some orders fifty per cent. of the sheets are thrown out. There is no waste, as the damaged paper is ground into pulp again. Having been cut, the paper must be counted and folded. Then it is packed into bundles for shipment. The young lady who does the counting and folding is the wonder of the mill. Giving the sheets a twist with one hand so as to spread open the edges, she gallops the fingers of the other hand among them; and as quickly as you or I could count three, she counts twenty-four and folds the quire. She takes four sheets with a finger and goes her whole hand and one finger more; thus she gets twenty-four sheets. Long practice is required to do the counting rapidly and accurately.

Twenty-four sheets, no more and no less, are always found in her quires.

Papers of different grades are made of different stock, but by the same process. Some paper stock is used. This must be bleached in lime and soda ash. There are powerful steam engines in the mills for use when the water is low. There are large furnaces and boilers which supply the steam used in the processes.

The Messrs. Denison employ 175 hands at Mechanic Falls. Their pay roll amounts to about $5,000 per month. The mills produce 350,000 pounds of paper per month and they ship several car-loads of prepared wood-pulp, in excess of that required for their own use, weekly. The annual value of their product is not far from $300,000. They use, for sundries, each month, 300 tons of coal, 100 casks of common lime, 250 gallons of burning-oil, 28,000 pounds of chlorate of lime, 3,700 pounds of soda ash. 10,000 pounds of resin. 24,000 pounds of sal soda, 22,000 pounds of oil of vitriol, 22,000 pounds of China clay, etc.