THE WALK THROUGH THE WOODS
The boys left their basket with Daddy Hall, and set out on their return to the house. "Let us go through the woods," said Thomas, and they all walked toward a thick wood which stood not far from the hill, near which Daddy Hall's house was built. They were glad to reach its cool shade; for the sun was now getting warm. Samuel saw a number of birds among the branches, that he did not know the names of; and many bright little flowers were growing in the shade, among the roots of oak and beech trees. A little distance in the wood, they reach a small rock, near which some large stones were lying, as if they had been thrown together. Thomas stopped, and said, "Samuel, this is the place where we killed a big snake last spring. You can see his hole under this rock. John and I tried hard to move these loose stones, but we could not. I dare say there are snake nests underneath."
"Perhaps we three can move one of them," replied his cousin. They all caught hold, and at last pulled the stone from its place. There was nothing underneath, but some old nut shells; but John said he was sure they would find snakes if they could but move the other stones. After much pulling, they raised another one; and under it was a large land tortoise, with several little ones, no larger than a walnut. After examining these, they observed a hole running under another stone, into the ground. Samuel also found two or three snake skins, which his cousins told him the snakes threw off every spring, after which, a new and larger skin grew on them. They pulled hard at this third stone, but could not move it; but while they were going away, Thomas said that they could bring an iron bar someday, and easily root it up.
In the middle of the wood was a fine spring of water, which gushed from a rock, and then spread out into a little pool, so clear and quiet, that the smallest stones could be seen at the bottom. Samuel tasted the water, and found it cold and refreshing. He asked his cousin how so much water could come out of the rock.
"It does not come from the rock," replied Thomas; "but only runs through it. Father says, that spring water often comes from the hills and mountains, running under the ground through cracks and holes in the rocks, until it finds some outlet. I suppose this water runs down from the tops of the hills near the iron mine."
"But this is not rain water," said his cousin. "It neither tastes nor looks like it."
"It has become changed while passing under the ground," replied Thomas. "After a heavy shower the water soaks into the earth until it reaches the sand, or rock underneath, then it runs through every little crack down the hill, and under the ground to some place like this where it can escape. The sand and gravel, which it meets with, make it pure and the lime and other substances of the rocks, alter its taste."