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CVII. — A RILL FROM THE TOWN PUMP. [Scene - The corner of two principal Streets. The Town Pump talk
ing through its nose.]
ParT FIRST 1. Noon, by the north clock! Noon, by the east! High noon, too, by these hot sunbeams, which fall, scarcely aslope, upon my head, and almost make the water bubble and smoke in the trough53 under my nose. Truly we public characters have a tough time of it! And among all the town officers, chosen at March meeting, where is he that sustains, for a single year, the burden of such manifold duties as are imposed, in perpetuity, upon the Town Pump? The title of “ town treasurer" is right
---adian of the best treasure that the town has.
HER APPEARANCE AT SUNRISE.
At distance heard, like a spirit's song!
As if it called the ship along.
Declares that her course is run,
Up mounts the glorious sun.
Makes the vessel to sail in joy along. for, all day long, I am seen av the busiest corner, just above the market, stretching out my arms to rich and poor alike; and at night I hold a lantern over my head, both to show where I am and keep people out of the gutters.
But gently now the small waves glide
SHE STRIKES UPON A ROCK.
Are hurried o'er the deck ;
Becomes a lifeless wreck.
Her planks are torn asunder,
CVII. — A RILL FROM THE TOWN PUMP.
[Scene — The corner of two principal Streets. The Town Pump talk:
ing through its nose.]
Part FIRST 1. Noon, by the north clock! Noon, by the east! High noon, too, by these hot sunbeams, which fall, scarcely aslope, upon my head, and almost make the water bubble and smoke in the trough53 under my nose. Truly we public characters have a tough time of it! And among all the town officers, chosen at March meeting, where is he that sustains, for a single year, the burden of such manifold duties as are imposed, in perpetuity, E upon the Town Pump? The title of “ town treasurer ” is rightfully mine, as guardian of the best treasure that the town has. The overseers of the poor ought to make me their chairman, since I provide bountifully for the pauper, without expense to him that pays taxes. I am at the head of the fire department, and one of the physicians to the boarder of health.
2. As a keeper of the peace, all water-drinkers will confess me equal to the constable. I perform some of the duties of the town clerk, by promulgating public notices, when they are pasted on my front. To speak within bounds, I am the chief person of the municipality, and exhibit, moreover, an admirable pattern to my brother officers, by the cool, steady, upright, downright, and impartial discharge of my business, and the constancy with which I
stand to my post. Summer or winter, nobody seeks me in vain; ' for, all day long, I am seen at the busiest corner, just above the market, stretching out my arms to rich and poor alike; and at night I hold a lantern over my head, both to show where I am and keep people out of the gutters.
3. At this sultry noontide I am cupbearer to the parched populace, for whose benefit an iron62 goblet is chained to my waist. Like a dram-seller on the mall, at muster-day, I cry aloud to all and sundry in my plainest accents, and at the very tiptop of my voice, “ Here it is, gentlemen! Here is the good liquor! Walk up, walk up, gentlemen, walk up, walk up! Here is the superior stuff! Here is the unadulterated ale of father Adam, better than Cognac,et Hollands, Jamaica, strong beer, or wine of any price; here it is by the hogshead or the single glass, and not a cent to pay! Walk up, gentlemen, walk up, and help yourselves.”
4. It were a pity if all this outcry should draw no customers. Here they come. A hot day, gentlemen! Quaff, and away
again, so as to keep yourselves in a nice cool sweat. You, my. friend, will need another cupful, to wash the dust out of your throat, if it be as thick there as it is on your cow-hide shoes. I see that you have trudged half a score of miles to-day; and, like a wise man, have passed by the taverns, and stopped at the running brooks and well-curbs. Otherwise, betwixt heat without and fire within, you would have been burnt to a cinder, or melted down to nothing at all, in the fashion of a jelly-fish. Drink, and make room for that other fellow, who seeks my aid to quench the fiery fever of last night's potations, which he drained from no cup of mine.
5. Welcome, most ru'bicundei sir! You and I have been great strangers hitherto; nor, to express the truth, will my nose be anxious for a closer intimacy, till the fumes of your breath be a little less potent. Mercy on you, man! the water absolutely hisses down your red-hot gullet, and is converted quite to steam. Fill again, and tell me, on the word of an honest toper, did you ever, in cěllar, tavern, or any kind of a dram-shop, spend the price of your children's food for a swig half so delicious ? Now, for the first time these ten years, you know the flavor of cold water. Good-by; and, whenever you are thirsty,35 remember that I keep à constant supply at the old stand.
6. Who next? — 0, my little friend, you are let loose from school, and como hither to scrub your blooming face, and drown the memory of certain taps of the fěr'ule, and other school-boy troubles, in a draught52 from the Town Pump. Take it, pure as the current of your young life. Take it, and may your heart and tongue never be scorched with a fiercer thirst than now! There, my dear child, put down the cup, and yield your place to this elderly gentleman, who treads so tenderly over the stones that I suspect he is afraid of breaking them.
7. What! he limps by without so much as thanking me, as if my hospitable offers were meant only for people who have no wine cellars. Well, well, sir! no harm done, I hope! Go draw the cork, tip the decanter ; but when your great toe shall set you a-roaring, it will be no affair of mine. If gentlemen love the pleasant titillationer of the gout, it is all one to the Town Pump. This thirsty dog, with his red tongue lolling out, does not scorn my hospitality, but stands on his hind legs, and laps eagerly out of the trough. See how lightly he capers away again! Jowler, did your worship ever have the gout ?
8. Are you all satisfied ? Then wipe your mouths,66 my good friends; and, while my spout has a moment's lēisure, I will delight the town with a few historical reminiscences. In far antiquity, beneath a darksome shadow of venerable boughs, a spring
bubbled out of the leaf-strewn earth, in the very spot where you now behold me on the sunny pavement. The water was as bright and clear, and deemed as precious, as liquid diamonds. The Indian săg'amoresei drank of it from time immemorial, till the fearful deluge of fire-wateri burst upon the red men, and swept their whole race away from the cold fountains. Endicott and his followers came next, and often knelt down to drink, dipping their long beards in the spring. The richest goblet then was of birch bark.
9. Governor Winthrop drank here out of the hollow4 of his hand. The elder Higginson here wet his palm, and laid it on the brow of the first town-born child. For many years it was the watering-place, and, as it were, the wash-bowl of the vicinity, whither all decent folks resorted, to purify their visages and gaze at them afterwards — at least, the pretty maidens did in the mirror which it made. On Sabbath days, whenever a babe was to be baptized, the sexton filled his basin here, and placed it on the communion-table of the humble meeting-house which , partly covered the site of yonder stately brick one. Thus one generation after another was consecrated to heaven by its waters, and cast its waxing and waning shadows into its glassy bosom, and vanished from the earth as if mortal life were but a flitting image in a fountain. Finally the fountain vanished also. Cellars wero dug on all sides, and cart-loads of gravel30 flung upon its source whence oozed a turbid stream, forming a mud-puddle at the corner of two streets.
10. In the hot months, when its refreshment was most needed, the dust flew in clouds over the forgotten birthplace of the waters, Dow their grave. But, in the course of time, a Town Pump was sunk into the source of the ancient spring; and when the first decayed, another took its place, and then another, and still another, till here stand I, gentlemen and ladies, to serve you with my iron goblet. Drink, and be refreshed! The water is pure and cold as that which slaked the thirst of the red sagimore beneath the agëd boughs, though now the gem of the wilderness is treasured under these hot stones, where no shadow falls but from the brick buildings. And be it the moral of my story, that, as the wasted and long-lost fountain is now known and prized again, so shall the virtues of cold water, too little valued since your fathers' days, be recognized by all.
11. Your pardon, good people! I must interrupt my stream of eloquence, and spout forth a stream of water, to replenish the trough for this teamster and his two yoke of oxen, who have come from Topsfield, or somewhere along that way. No part of my business is pleasanter than the watering of cattle! Look! how