Story type: Essay
I have just been over to the Falls of Minnehaha. In fact I have been quite a tourist and summer resorter this season, having saturated my system with nineteen different styles of mineral water in Wisconsin alone, and tried to win the attention of nineteen different styles of head waiters at these summer hotels. I may add in passing that the summer hotels of Wisconsin and Minnesota have been crowded full the past season and more room will have to be added before another season comes around.
The motto of the summer hotel seems to be, “Unless ye shall have feed the waiter, behold ye shall in no wise be fed.” Many waiters at these places, by a judicious system of blackmail and starvation, have reduced the guest to a sad state.
The mineral water of Wisconsin ranks high as a beverage. Many persons are using it during the entire summer in place of rum.
The water of Waukesha does not appear to taste of any mineral, although an analysis shows the presence of several kinds of groceries in solution. The water at Palmyra Springs also tastes like any other pure water, but at Kankanna, on the Fox River, they have a style of mineral water which is different. Almost as soon as you taste it you discover that it is extremely different. Colonel Watrous, of the Milwaukee Sunday Telegraph, took some of it. I saw him afterward. He looked depressed, and told me that he had been deceived. Several Kankanna people had told him that this was living water, He had discovered otherwise. He hated to place his confidence in people and then find it misplaced.
A favorite style of Kankanna revenge is to drink a quart of this water, and then, on meeting an enemy, to breathe on him and wither him. One breath produces syncope and blind staggers. Two breaths induce coma and metallic casket for one.
Minnehaha is not mineral water. It is just plain water, giving itself away day after day like a fresh young man in society. If you want pure water you get it at the spring near the foot of the fall, and if you want it flavored, with something that will leave a blazed road the whole length of your alimentary canal, you go to the “blind pig,” a few rods away from the falls.
The blind pig draws many people toward the falls through sympathy. To be blind must indeed be a sad plight. Let us pause and reflect on this proposition.
By good fortune I have had a chance to watch the rum problem in all its phases this summer. Beginning in Maine, where the most ingenious methods of whipping the devil around the stump are adopted, then going through northern Iowa and tasting her exhilarating pop, and at last paying ten cents to see the blind pig at Minnehaha, I feel like one who has wrestled with the temperance problem in a practical way, and I have about decided that a high license is about the only way to make the sale of whisky odious. Prohibition is too abrupt in its methods, and one generation can hardly wipe out the appetite for liquor that has been planted and fostered by fifty preceding generations.
For fear that a few of my lady readers do not know what the Minnehaha blind pig looks like, and that they may be curious about it, I will just say that it is a method of evading the law, and consists of a dumb waiter, wherein, if you pay ten cents, you get a glass of stimulants without the annoyance of conversation. Many ladies who visit the falls, and who have heard incidentally about the blind pig, express a desire to see the poor little thing, but their husbands generally persuade them to refrain.
Minnehaha is a beautiful waterfall. It is not so frightfully large and grand as Niagara, but it is very fine, and if the State of Minnesota would catch the man who nails his signs on the trees around there, and choke him to death near the falls on a pleasant day, a large audience wold attend with much pleasure, I believe that the fence-board advertiser is not only, as a rule, wicked, but he also lacks common sense. Who ever bought a liver pad or a corset because he read about it on a high board fence? No one. Who ever purchased a certain kind of pill or poultice because the name of that pill or poultice was nailed on a tree to disfigure a beautiful landscape? I do not believe that any sane human being ever did so. If everyone feels as I do about it, people would rather starve to death for pills and freeze to death in a perfect wilderness of liver pads than buy of the man who daubs the fair face of nature with names of his alleged goods.
I saw a squaw who seemed to belong in the picture of the poetic little waterfall. I did not learn her name. It was one of these long, corduroy Sioux names, that hang together with hyphens like a lot of sausage. The salaried humorist of the party said he never sausage a name before.
Translated into our tongue it meant The-swift-daughter-of-the-prairie-blizzard-that-gathers-the-huckleberry-on -the-run-and-don’t-you-forget-it.
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