Setting-out day sees a procession of three water-carriers going Indian file up one side of the knoll and down the other. Bart declares that by the time his vacation is over he will be sufficiently trained to become captain of the local fire company, which consists of an antique engine, of about the capacity of one water-barrel, and a bucket brigade.
This profuse use of water, upon the principle of imitation, has brought about another demand for it on the premises. The state of particularly clay-and-leaf-mouldy perspiration in which Bart finds himself these days cries aloud for a shower-bath, nor is he or his boots and clothing in a suitable condition for tramping through the house and turning the family bath-tub into a trough wherein one would think flowerpots had been washed.
With the aid of Amos Opie an oil-barrel has been trussed up like a miniature windmill tank in the end of the camp barn, one end of which rests on the ground, and being cellarless has an earth floor. Around the supports of this tank is fastened an unbleached cotton curtain, and when standing within and pulling a cord attached to an improvised spray, the contents of the barrel descend upon Bart's person with hygienic thoroughness, the only drawback being that twelve pails of water have to be carried up the short ladder that leads from floor to barrel top each time the shower is used. Bart, however, seems to enjoy the process immensely, and Larry, by the way in which he lingers about the place and grins, evidently has a secret desire to experiment with it himself.
Larry has been a great comfort up to now, but we both have an undefined idea that one of his periods of "rest" is approaching. He works with feverish haste, alternating with times of sitting and looking at the ground, that I fear bodes no good. He also seems to take a diabolic pleasure in tormenting Amos Opie as regards the general make-up and pedigree of his beloved hound David.
David has human intelligence in a setting that it would be difficult to classify for a dog-show; a melancholy bloodhound strain certainly percolates thoroughly through him, and his long ears, dewlaps, and front legs, tending to bow, separate him from the fox "'ounds" of Larry's experience. To Amos Opie David is the only type of hound worthy of the name; consequently there has been no little language upon the subject. That is, Larry has done the talking, punctuated by contemptuous "huhs" and sniffs from Amos, until day before yesterday. On this day David went on a hunting trip extending from five o'clock in the afternoon until the next morning, during which his voice, blending with two immature cries, told that he was ranging miles of country in company with a pair of thoroughbred fox-hound pups, owned by the postmaster, the training of which Amos Opie was superintending, and owing to an attack of rheumatism had delegated to David, whose reliability for this purpose could not be overestimated according to his master's way of thinking. For a place in some ways so near to civilization, the hills beyond the river woods abound in fox holes, and David has conducted some good runs on his own account, it seems; but this time alack! alack! he came limping slowly home, footsore and bedraggled, followed by his pupils and bearing a huge dead cat of the half-wild tribe that, born in a barn and having no owner, takes to a prowling life in the woods.
I cannot quite appreciate the enormity of the offence, but doubtless Dr. Russell and your husband can, as they live in a fox-hunting country. It seems that a rabbit would have been bad enough, something however, to be condoned, - but not a cat! Instantly Amos fixed upon Larry as the responsible cause of the calamity, - Larry, who is so soaked in a species of folk-lore, blended of tradition, imagination, and high spirits that, after hearing him talk, it is easy to believe that he deals in magic by the aid of a black cat, and unfortunately the cat brought in by David was of this colour!
Then Amos spoke, for David's honour was as his own, and Larry heard a pronounced Yankee's opinion, not only of all the inhabitants of the Emerald Isle, but of one in particular! After freeing his mind, he threatened to free his house of Larry as a lodger, this being particularly unfortunate considering the near approach of one of that gentleman's times of retirement.
Last night I thought the sky had again cleared, for Amos discovered that the postmaster did not suspect the cat episode, and as Larry had no friends in the village through which it might leak out, the old man seemed much relieved; also, Larry apparently is not a harbourer of grievances. Within an hour, however, a second episode has further strained the relationship of lodger and host, and it has snapped.
Though still quite stiff in the joints, Amos came over this morning to do some little tinkering in the barn camp, especially in strengthening the stays of the shower-bath tank, when, as he was on his knees fastening a brace to a post, in some inexplicable manner the string was pulled and the contents of the entire barrel of cold well-water were released, the first sprinkle so astonishing and bewildering poor Amos that he remained where he was, and so received a complete drenching.
Bart and Larry were up in the woods getting the day's load of hemlocks, and I, hearing the spluttering and groans, went to Amos's rescue as well as I could, and together with Maria Maxwell got him to the kitchen, where hot tea and dry clothes should have completely revived him in spite of age. As, however, to-day, it seems, is the anniversary of a famous illness he acquired back in '64, on his return from the Civil War, the peculiarities of which he has not yet ceased proclaiming, he is evidently determined to celebrate it forthwith, so he has taken to his bed, groaning with a stitch in his side. The doctor has been telephoned, and Maria Maxwell, as usual bursting with energy, which on this occasion takes a form between that of a dutiful daughter and a genuine country neighbour, has gone over to Opal Farm to tidy up a bit until the doctor gives his decision and some native woman, agreeable to Amos's taste, can be found to look after the interesting yet aggravating crank.