The Silken East v
We begin at the forge, where a motor pants in a side room, and blacksmiths are at work on bars of red-hot iron ; and from here pass on to a derrick where another American, in a large mushroom hat that helps to keep off the oil-drippings, is at work on the boring of a well.
The boring implement is a gigantic crow-bar, which bores its way down by force of its own weight as it falls. A steel cylinder with a simple valve scoops into itself the slush and clay in the tube made by the drill, and disgorges these outside the well. A big windlass wound with rope works the drill, lifting it up and letting it fall ; and it is itself worked by an engine in a neighbouring shed. The oil spouts up from time to time in a jet which reaches high above the mouth of the well, and covers the derrick with an evil-smelling filthy coat, which drips long after the jet has ceased, turning all the surrounding area into a puddle of mud and oil. In this environment the coolies work, and the overseer stands, an elfish man, covered with dripping oil. The coolies wear small basket hats, and little besides.
This process continues till the full depth of the well, some seventeen hundred feet, is reached.
The oil is pumped out by steam engines, or it comes up of itself driven by the pressure of gas below. In the latter case, when the stop-cock at the wells mouth is turned on, the gas rushes out with a roaring, grinding sound and is quickly followed by a stream of yellow brown oil, which foams out of the pipe into an iron