WATER SCARCITY IN THE AMERICAN DESERT.
In a vivid sketchlet written for The Atlantic by Mary Austin there is a graphic description of the horrors of the American desert, in which occurs the following illustration as to how the birds alone cling to it through grievous suffering, for very often the eggs in the nest have to be kept cool, not warm:
“One hot. stifling spring in the Little Antelope (she writes) I had occasion to pass and repass frequently the nest of a pair of meadow larks, located unhappily in the shelter of a very slender weed. I never caught them setting except near night, but at midday they stood, or drooped, above it, half fainting with pitifully parted bills, between their treasure and the sun. Sometimes both of them together, with wings spread and half lifted, continued a spot of shade in a temperature that constrained me at last in a fellow feeling to spare them a bit of canvas for permanent shelter. There was a fence in that country shutting in a cattle range, and along its fifteen miles of posts one could he sure of finding a bird or two in every strip of shadow; sometimes the sparrow and the hawk, with wings trailed and beaks parted, drooping in the white truce of noon.” Yet drinkable water lies quite near the surface in parts of the desert, but men, beasts, and birds die on the very spot, because, through the ignorance of the men, they do not know that the means of rescue are close at hand. Mrs. Austin writes: “It is related that the final breakdown of that hapless party that gave Death Valley its forbidding name occurred in a locality where shallow wells would have saved them. But how were they to know that?”
The Philippi, W. Va., Water and Light company has been incorporated; capital, $40,000. A waterworks and an electric light plant will be built.