The Magic Egg and Other Stories
My Well And What Came Out Of It
Early in my married life I bought a small country estate which my wife and I looked upon
as a paradise. After enjoying its delight for a little more than a year our souls were
saddened by the discovery that our Eden contained a serpent. This was an insufficient
It had been a rainy season when we first went there, and for a long time our cisterns gave
us full aqueous satisfaction, but early this year a drought had set in, and we were obliged
to be exceedingly careful of our water.
It was quite natural that the scarcity of water for domestic purposes should affect my wife
much more than it did me, and perceiving the discontent which was growing in her mind,
I determined to dig a well. The very next day I began to look for a well-digger. Such an
individual was not easy to find, for in the region in which I lived wells had become
unfashionable; but I determined to persevere in my search, and in about a week I found a
He was a man of somewhat rough exterior, but of an ingratiating turn of mind. It was
easy to see that it was his earnest desire to serve me.
"And now, then," said he, when we had had a little conversation about terms, "the first
thing to do is to find out where there is water. Have you a peach-tree on the place?" We
walked to such a tree, and he cut therefrom a forked twig.
"I thought," said I, "that divining-rods were always of hazel wood."
"A peach twig will do quite as well," said he, and I have since found that he was right.
Divining-rods of peach will turn and find water quite as well as those of hazel or any
other kind of wood.
He took an end of the twig in each hand, and, with the point projecting in front of him, he
slowly walked along over the grass in my little orchard. Presently the point of the twig
seemed to bend itself downward toward the ground.
"There," said he, stopping, "you will find water here."
"I do not want a well here," said I. "This is at the bottom of a hill, and my barn-yard is at
the top. Besides, it is too far from the house."
"Very good," said he. "We will try somewhere else."
His rod turned at several other places, but I had objections to all of them. A sanitary
engineer had once visited me, and he had given me a great deal of advice about drainage,
and I knew what to avoid.