“We kep’ summer boarders the past season,” said Orlando McCusick, of East Kortright, to me as we sat in the springhouse and drank cold milk from a large yellow bowl with white stripes around it; “we kep’ boarders from town all summer in the Catskills, and that is why I don’t figger on doing of it this year. You fellers that writes the pieces and makes the pictures of us folks what keeps the boarders has got the laugh on us as a general thing, but I would like to be interviewed a little for the press, so’s that I can be set right before the American people.”
“Well, if you will state the case fairly and honestly, I will try to give you a chance.”
“In the first place,” said Orlando, taking off his boot and removing his jack-knife which had worked its way through his pocket and down his leg, then squinting along the new “tap” with one eye to see how it was wearing before he put it on, “I did not know how healthy it was here until I read in a railroad pamphlet, I guess you call it, where it says that the relation of temperature to oxygen in a certain quantity of air is of the highest importance. ‘In a cubic foot,’ it says, ‘of air at 3,000 feet elevation, with a temperature of 32 degrees, there is as much oxygen as in a like amount of air at sea level with a temperature of 65 degrees. Another important fact that should not be lost sight of,’ this able feller says, ‘by those affected by pulmonary diseases, is that three or four times as much oxygen is consumed in activity as in repose.’ (Hence the hornet’s nests introduced by me last season.) ‘Then in climates made stimulating by increased electric tension and cold, activity must be followed by an increased endosmose of oxygen.”
“So you decided to select and furnish endosmose of oxygen to sufferers?”
“Yes. I went into it with no notions of making a pile of money, but I argued that these folks would give anything for health. We folks are apt to argy that people from town are all well off and liberal, and that if they can come out and get all the buttermilk and straw rides they want, and a little flush of color and a wood-tick on the back of their necks, they don’t reck a pesky reck what it costs. This is only occasionly so. Ask any doctor you know of if the average man won’t give anything to save his life, and then when it’s saved put his propity into his womern’s name. That’s human. You know the good book says a pure man from New York is the noblest work of God.”
“Well, when did this desire to endosmose your fellow-man first break out on you?”
“About a year and a half ago it began to rankle in my mind. I read up everything I could get hold of regarding the longevity and such things to be had here. In the winter I sent in a fair, honest, advertisement regarding my place, and, Judas H. Priest! before I could say ‘scat’ in the spring, here came letters by the dozen, mostly from school-teachers at first, that had a good command of language, but did not come. I afterwards learned that these letters was frequently wrote by folks that was not able to go into the country, so wrote these letters for mental improvement, hoping also that some one in the country might want them for the refinement they would engender in the family.
“I took one young woman from town once, and allowed her 25 per cent. off for her refining influence. Her name was Etiquette McCracken. She knew very little in the first place, and had added to it a good deal by storing up in her mind a lot of membranous theories and damaged facts that ought to ben looked over and disinfected. She was the most hopeless case I ever saw, Mr. Nye. She was a metropolitan ass. You know that a town greenhorn is the greenest greenhorn in the world, because he can’t be showed anything. He knows it all. Well, Etiquette McCracken very nigh paralyzed what few manners my children had. She pointed at things at table, and said she wanted some o’ that, and she had a sort of a starved way of eating, and short breath, and seemed all the time apprehensive. She probably et off the top of a flour barrel at home. She came and stayed all summer at our house, with a wardrobe which was in a shawl-strap wrapped up in a programme of one of them big theaters on Bowery street. I guess she led a gay life in the city. She said she did. She said if her set was at our house they would make it ring with laughter. I said if they did I’d wring their cussed necks with laughter. ‘Why,’ she says, ‘don’t you like merriment?’ ‘Yes,’ I says, ‘I like merriment well enough, but the cackle of a vacant mind rattling around in a big farmhouse makes me a fiend, and unmans me, and I gnaw up two or three people a day till I get over it,’ I says.”