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In some sections of the country, when there is no spring near the house, the farmer, with much labor and pains, brings one from some uplying field or wood. Pine and poplar logs are bored and laid in a trench, and the spring practically moved to the desired spot. The ancient Persians had a law that whoever thus conveyed the water of a spring to a spot not watered before should enjoy many immunities under the state, not granted to others.

Hilly and mountainous countries do not always abound in good springs. When the stratum is vertical, or has too great a dip, the water is not collected in large veins, but is rather held as it falls, and oozes out slowly at the surface over the top of the rock. On this account one of the most famous grass and dairy sections of New York is poorly supplied with springs. Every creek starts in a bog or marsh, and good water can be had only by excavating.

What a charm lurks about those springs that are found near the tops of mountains, so small that they get lost amid the rocks and debris and never reach the valley, and so cold that they make the throat ache! Every hunter and mountain-climber can tell you of such, usually on the last rise before the summit is cleared. It is eminently the hunter’s spring. I do not know whether or not the foxes and other wild creatures lap at it, but their pursuers are quite apt to pause there to take breath or to eat their lunch. The mountain-climbers in summer hail it with a shout. It is always a surprise, and raises the spirits of the dullest. Then it seems to be born of wildness and remoteness, and to savor of some special benefit or good fortune. A spring in the valley is an idyl, but a spring on the mountain is a genuine lyrical touch. It imparts a mild thrill; and if one were to call any springs “miracles,” as the natives of Cashmere are said to regard their fountains, it would be such as these.

What secret attraction draws one in his summer walk to touch at all the springs on his route, and to pause a moment at each, as if what he was in quest of would be likely to turn up there? I can seldom pass a spring without doing homage to it. It is the shrine at which I oftenest worship. If I find one fouled with leaves or trodden full by cattle, I take as much pleasure in cleaning it out as a devotee in setting up the broken image of his saint. Though I chance not to want to drink there, I like to behold a clear fountain, and I may want to drink next time I pass, or some traveler, or heifer, or milch cow may. Leaves have a strange fatality for the spring. They come from afar to get into it. In a grove or in the woods they drift into it and cover it up like snow. Late in November, in clearing one out, I brought forth a frog from his hibernacle in the leaves at the bottom. He was very black, and he rushed about in a bewildered manner like one suddenly aroused from his sleep.

There is no place more suitable for statuary than about a spring or fountain, especially in parks or improved fields. Here one seems to expect to see figures and bending forms. “Where a spring rises or a river flows,” says Seneca, “there should we build altars and offer sacrifices.”

I have spoken of the hunter’s spring. The traveler’s spring is a little cup or saucer shaped fountain set in the bank by the roadside. The harvester’s spring is beneath a widespreading tree in the fields. The lover’s spring is down a lane under a hill. There is a good screen of rocks and bushes. The hermit’s spring is on the margin of a lake in the woods. The fisherman’s spring is by the river. The miner finds his spring in the bowels of the mountain. The soldier’s spring is wherever he can fill his canteen. The spring where schoolboys go to fill the pail is a long way up or down a hill, and has just been roiled by a frog or muskrat, and the boys have to wait till it settles. There is yet the milkman’s spring that never dries, the water of which is milky and opaque. Sometimes it flows out of a chalk cliff. This last is a hard spring: all the others are soft.