Page:The Story of Mexico.djvu/250

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the floods which invaded the city, and it was evident that some vigorous measure must be taken. There was question, once more, of removing the whole city to the solid ground of Tacubaya; but this plan was open to great objections.

The engineer Enrico Martinez offered a plan for the rescue of the city which was accepted. It was to reduce the highest of the several lakes belonging to the network in the valley of Mexico, by diverting its waters elsewhere, and thus prevent its overflow. Work was begun in 1607. Fifteen thousand Indians were set to sinking shafts at intervals in order to bore a tunnel, to lead off the water, more than four miles long, and eleven feet wide by thirteen in height. It was completed in eleven months, and the event was celebrated by the presence of the viceroy himself with great pomp, who gave the first stroke with his spade. Mass was said, and there were great rejoicings. This cut was call the desaguë of Huehuetoca, a small village near the hills of Nochistongo.

The canal proved too small, and several schemes were tried for enlarging and strengthening it, with varying and moderate success. The novelty of the enterprise having worn out, people began to think, during a series of dry years, that the peril from the lakes after all was not so great. The engineer Adrian Boot was sent from Spain to visit the canal of Huehuetoca; having done so, he qualified it as insufficient, in which he shared the opinion of those who had not come so far. He failed in making it more efficacious, for, in 1629, came another inunda-