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A Busy Year at the Old Squire's by C. A. Stephens

For the kegs came back to be refilled


spring was nearly a mile from the farmhouse; and at a little distance below it we built a shed and set up a large kettle for boiling water to scald out the kegs and barrels that came back from customers and dealers to be refilled. We were careful not only to rinse them but also to soak them before we cleaned them with scalding water. As the business of sending off the water grew, the old Squire kept a hired man at the spring and the shed to look after the kegs and to draw the water. His name was James Doane. He had been with the old Squire six years and as a rule was a trustworthy man and a good worker. He had one failing: occasionally, although not very often, he would get drunk.

So firm was the old Squire's faith in the water that we drew a supply of it to the house every second morning. Addison fitted up a little "water room" in the farmhouse L, and we kept water there in large bottles, cooled, for drinking. The water seemed to do us good, for we were all unusually healthy that summer. "Here's the true elixir of health," the old Squire often said as he drew a glass of it and sat down in the pleasant, cool "water room" to enjoy it.

Addison and he had fixed the price of the water at twenty-five cents a gallon, although we made our neighbors and fellow townsmen welcome to all they cared to come and get. We first advertised the water in June, and sales increased slowly throughout the summer and fall. Apparently

the water gave good satisfaction, for the kegs came back to be refilled. By the following May the success of the venture seemed assured. Those who were using the water spoke well of it, and the demand was growing. In April we received orders for more than nine hundred gallons, and in May for more than thirteen hundred gallons.

The old Squire was very happy over the success of the enterprise. "It's a fine, clean business," he said. "That water has done us good, and it will do others good; and if they drink that, they will drink less whiskey."

Addison spent the evenings in making out bills and attending to the correspondence; for there were other matters that had to be attended to besides the Rose-Quartz Spring. Besides the farm work we had to look after the hardwood flooring mill that summer and the white-birch dowel mill. For several days toward the end of June we did not even have time to go up to the spring for our usual supply of water. But we kept Jim Doane there under instructions to attend carefully to the putting up of the water. It was his sole business, and he seemed to be attending to it properly. He was at the spring every day and boarded at the house of a neighbor, named Murch, who lived nearer to Nubble Hill than we did. Every day, too, we noticed the smoke of the fire under the kettle in which he heated water for scalding out the casks.

The first hint we had that things were going wrong was when Willis Murch told Addison that Doane had been on a spree, and that for several days he had been so badly under the influence of liquor that he did not know what he was about.

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