Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 19.djvu/748

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poor old pastures on a sparsely wooded slope of the Ardennes. Of this pasture-land he bought some ten or twelve acres, including a hilltop with a few shade-trees and a fine view toward the valley of the Sarabre. At the first opportunity one of Pierre's garden-chairs was sent up to the lookout point, but rain and rough usage soon reduced it to its component elements—scrap-iron and loose cudgels. Pierre volunteered to repair it, and was supplied with such a variety of material and tools that he made two more chairs, and while he was about it also a rustic round-table with a center-hole, corresponding to the diameter of one of the shade-trees. The hill was only two miles from town, and soon became a favorite evening resort of the G—— family; but the road was rather steep, and Mrs. G—— appealed to the ingenuity of her constructive nephew: could he not try and make a winding trail by knocking some of the rocks and bushes out of the way? Pierre tried, and his success, the uncle declared, proved him and intuitive engineer, the peer of Haussmann and Brunei. That new road had so increased the value of the old pasture that it would be worth while to put up a pavilion and make it a regular hill-top resort. The only drawback upon the advantage of its situation was the want of good drinking-water; but there was a sort of a spring in an adjoining pasture on the opposite slope of the ridge: would Pierre make an estimate of the number of bricks requisite to wall it up and keep the cattle from muddling it? The requisition proved an under-estimate, but Pierre made up the deficiency by collecting a lot of passably square stones. The water now became drinkable, and somehow the rumor got abroad that Pierre had discovered the spring, whereupon his uncle's neighbor urged him to exercise his talent for the benefit of his valley-meadow, in all but the want of water the best pasture in the parish. Pierre selected a spot where a lot of day-laborers were set to work and actually struck water by digging deep enough. The gratitude of the farmer was almost too demonstrative for the modest lad, who, however, agreed with his uncle that a talent of that sort might make its possessor a public benefactor, and ought to be cultivated. Would Pierre undertake to locate a well on his uncle's hill-pasture, a little nearer to the lookout point? The brick-spring was too far down, and it would be so convenient to have water on one's own premises! Judging from analogies, the young hydrologist fixed upon a spot at the junction of two ravines, but too near the upper boundary of arboreal vegetation, and after digging down to a stratum of dry sandstone detritus, the workmen gave up the job in disgust. But Pierre himself would not yield his point, and offered to dig the well alone if they would give him time, and a boy to turn the windlass of the sand bucket. His wish was granted, and before he had been a week at work, his asthma had left him, his digestion improved, and his appetite became ravenous. The well-project had finally to be relinquished, but his uncle consoled him by purchasing the adjoining lot and letting him