Mark Twain

Of late the water with which this town is supplied by the Virginia and Gold Hill Water Company has been quite muddy owing to a cave having occurred in a tunnel which is their principal source of supply. The water did not look well nor taste well. This being the case, people were easily led to believe the story which yesterday got started and spread like wild-fire through the town that the dead and partially decomposed body of an Indian had been discovered in one of the large water tanks or reservoirs high up on the side of the mountain in the western suburbs of the town.

More than half of those who heard the report firmly believed it, and those who did not took delight in spreading the story, just for the fun of sickening their acquaintances. As the story traveled it grew, and at last it was said that in another tank two rotten dogs had been found. As these stories spread there was much vomiting throughout the town, particularly among the ladies. Not a few men also, if the truth is told, threw up thier breakfasts. In some houses the woman folks almost famished of thirst, while in others they procured ice and melted it for cooking and drinking purposes. To say water to a man was to see him turn up his nose and make a wry face. All the breweries and saloons did a land office business and the Dashaways and Good Templars looked as though they would not be able to stand firm much longer.

The Piutes heard that a red brother had been found drowned in one of the tanks, and about fifty of them charged up the mountain in search of the body. During their raid they tore the covers off the several tanks in spite of the remonstrances of Mr. Cody, foreman of the Water Company, and would not be satisfied till they had thoroughly prospected them, when they said: "White man heap tell um d-- n lies." After the red men left Mr. Cody had to go to work and repair damages by nailing down the planks forming the covers of the tanks, the openings into which are always kept locked. In short, the town was in a regular uproar, and the women and everybody that could get sight of Mr. Cody gave him particular fits. It was no use for him to deny the story. All knew they had been drinking dead Indian for the last ten days. They had tasted him and could not be fooled. Others had seen dog hair in the water and had tasted dog. Several had for some days observed floating on the water a peculiar scum and had been unable to account for it, but knew what it was now--it was Indian fat. Thus ran the talk throughout the city, and no wonder that the women vomited.

The fact is that all the tanks are kept tightly covered and locked and nothing at all has been found in the tanks, or has entered them, worse than the muddy water from one of the water tunnels. The muddieness of the water is caused by a cave in this tunnel, as we have said. To attempt to clear the tunnel of the dirt caved down would render the water almost thick with mud for a week or more, and water is now so scarce that they dare not undertake this, as it would leave no water for the town. The only remedy for this state of affairs is to use as much ice in the water comsumed as it can be made to melt.

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