hidden river; a heap of notes.
“The pumps,” said the major, “have been going for four months, while twentieth-century ingenuity — that boasted mastery of physical forces — has been puttering over ways and means to conquer that little hidden river that has had its secret bared at last. Of course it has been proceeding quietly about its business, ‘running somewhere safe to sea.’ 98 / 147 “It is begun. I’ve made a heap of notes.” ¶ This was what I contrived to say, and the saying sounded rather flat. To fling yourself into the vortex of life (this was the way I used to fancy it) and to emerge after so little flinging, with so shadowy a sense of vortex, and to submit as the fruit of your puttering a banal report of progress and announcement of “a heap of notes,” was grotesque to the grinning-point. 147 / 229 She has been diagramming for me the bandages and compresses. There is one bandage with five tails to it. . . . This puttering will not keep her very long. She argues, why not do this by machinery. Surely not merely days, but minutes must count. And there must be bigger things women can do and do at once. 229 / 370 “I should have done it sooner . . . ” she was saying in a moment. ¶ “Have done what?” ¶ “I should be over there . . . instead of puttering here. But they are preparing hospitals on this side — a lot of them. I’m going to register. That will be something real. Laura has done it.” ¶ “Laura?” ¶ “She began last week.”
Alexander Black (1859-1940), wikipedia : link
many books; see his online books page : link
Black lectured on the Lyceum circuit; his magic lantern shows led to story-telling by dissolving slides.
See his “Photography in Fiction, ‘Miss Jerry,’ The First Picture Play.” Scribner’s Magazine 18:3 (September 1895) : 348-360 : link
... There are blazing wonders that drop into the heart like a meteor, and that like a sidereal spark seem to have traversed infinity before plunging through the insignifcant shell of ourselves. We may putter over the concrete sign, but the splendor of the portent fills us with a feeling of particular awe.
pp 384-385 : link