Piles of stones, rubbish, sand, boughs, trunks and roots of trees, old crockery, ashes, the debris of our own and other people's places, it "swallows them all without any remorse," till the top of the fence along the road has nearly disappeared from view, and still it calls for more, and continues to subside.
Across the street our neighbors have tried the experiment before us, so that we are aware that it is unsafe to put soil on this gravel until after it has had a chance to settle for a year or two, otherwise a high tide is liable to come and wash away all the loam out to sea.
As the surface rises the fresh water runs off less easily, so that the enterprise gains in magnitude as it goes along, and the space covered promises to turn out a whole acre instead of half a one, before the job is fairly completed.
Still, time and the hill will fill even this capacious maw, and, though at present in a transition state, the meadow gives promise of a beautiful grass field, which, it is to be hoped, will repay all the labor of its construction.
The tradition goes that the building of the street behind us across his meadow-lot was too much for the gentleman who owned the place at the time it was made, and that he never recovered from the shock of having his estate thus divided and his house-lot spoiled. The enterprise was a formidable one, for it involved the construction of a great stone arch across the stream that drains the meadow, and the laying down of heavy plank rafts for the piers of the stone bridge to stand upon. For years the road would be built up to a good height every summer, and then would subside under the influence of the high tides in the autumn and spring, till it seemed as if it would never hold its own, and keep its head above water all the year round.
But constant renewals of the layers of gravel have at length made of it so substantial a causeway, that nothing but the very highest of spring-tides prevails against it, and such water as finds itself on our side forces itself rather under than over it.
Those of our neighbors who have reclaimed land from the main meadow on the other side of the road, have done so by first building a kind of rough dam of stones and clay, and then gradually filling in behind this dam with rubbish and stones and sand until they reach the level of the street. When properly covered with loam, after having had plenty of time to settle, this well-watered foundation affords excellent soil for grass, which grows upon it with great luxuriance.
As the road acts still further for a dam between us and the meadow, our task becomes simpler, and we can reclaim our piece of land with far less trouble than our neighbors have had with theirs, and we are encouraged to look for equally good results.
But it is distressing to see the surface of the hill, which we would fain see rolling in graceful slopes to the swale, waving with the forest of our imagination, still vexed by the presence of carts and horses, and torn by the torturing spade.