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first, even at the risk of telling stale news, | a morsel of toast which was brought by I must give a few facts.
British Guiana is a very large country, of which very little is known and only a narrow fringe on the coast and a little way in the bank of the rivers is cultivated. It is divided into three counties named after its principal rivers, Essequibo, Demerara, and Berbice. The port is the River Demerara, on the east bank of which is the capital Georgetown, so that the whole country is often called Demerara. There is one monotonous road up each river-bank. The estates have private roads at right angles to this road. There is a railway which runs from the capital Georgetown up the east coast for a few miles (24) and stops at the Mahaica Creek (as all small rivers are called). The country is naturally as flat as a table; the only elevations are artificial embankments called dams, made by the earth thrown up in digging the numerous canals and drains with which the country is scored in every direction.
A great depth is not required for this purpose, and the country is just about on a level with mean tides, and a front dam is necessary to keep out the sea at high water. Just as the land is only just above sea level, so the bottom of the sea is only just below. And miles from the shore the water is only about six or seven feet deep. As the country is so flat the rivers are tidal for a very great distance, generally until the first high land is met, down from which the rivers fall in rapids or cat
The bottom of the sea is (as is also the land) a fine alluvial mud deposited by the gigantic rivers of South America; not a pebble is to be seen, nothing but mud more or less hard, from the coffee-andmilk colored sea water to the burnt earth with which the roads are made.
The sugar estates have not only the sea water in front to keep out, but also the bush water at the back (bush, like jungle in India, means any shrub or wooded land), and if isolated they must protect their flanks also, and so the term front dam or sea dam, back dam, and sideline dam mark the confines of the cultivation. When an English farmer would talk of a ride to look at his fields, a Demerara planter would say that "he is going aback."
Well, let us start on our trip. We must get up betimes, for the train leaves at seven o'clock A. M., but as every one, or at least every man, rises at sunrise, that is no hardship. We take a hasty bath, and while dressing sip a cup of coffee and eat
the dark, good-natured butler who roused us. This is equivalent to the chhotee hasiri of the East. When we come to the verandah, or galley as it is called here, we find our host already smoking a matutinal pipe and looking at the paper, for we have two daily papers in Georgetown, though what the editors find to make them of, I do not know. Making ropes out of sand would be, I should think, a comparatively easy task. The buggy (or wagon as it is named) comes round, and we start, the slanting sun already hot, down the prettiest street of the prettiest West Indian town; the houses (white, with green blinds), each detached and embowered in lovely gardens, with all sorts of palms and wonderfully leaved shrubs, for the tropics are marvellously rich in plants, the leaves of which vie with the petals of the flowers of a less favored chime. In the centre of the street is a canal full of the large leaves and lovely blossoms of the queen of water lilies, the Victoria Regia, and on the banks are oleander-trees. Down the side street are small shops exhaling the peculiar odor of salt fish, and any amount of black women with their heads tied in gaudy handkerchiefs are going to do their marketing.
We soon reach the station and are much amused with watching the motley throng. Here is the merchant, there the Portuguese shopkeeper, the planter with his brick-red face, the Chinese with pig-tail, the negro, the lissom and elegantly made chocolate-colored coolie, the mulatto and all shades of color are there. Pale boys and girls who look as though the sun had never been allowed to see them, are talking to a large sun-burnt Scot who looks as though he were saturated with sunshine. The train is all ready to start, an engine, three cars, and a luggage van. The cars are somewhat American in appearance, being more like tram-cars than railway carriages, with seats on the top as well as inside. It is pleasant in the air, so I and my host Mr. Bustle climb to the roof, Mr. Bustle warning me not to let a tiny cinder from the funnel get in my eye nor to lose my hat, which last is an enormous felt umbrella with a church steeple in the middle, a real planter's hat. As the wind is always easterly and we are going to the east, this caution is useful. From my seat I see the buildings of Georgetown, the cathedral spire higher than all, with the statue of Mary the Immaculate looking down on the tropical city and the busy river, and the market spire made of slate
colored iron, and all the various buildings | are marked by the tall slim chimneys of of a city of over forty thousand inhab- the factory and clumps of cabbage and itants. Mr. Bustle says, as though in a coacoanut palms, all looking one way, reverie: "All built out of the sugar hogs-blown by the constant north-east breeze. head. The sugar is all we have except The conductor of the train walks all its by-products rum and molasses, just a through it and collects tickets, and asks trifle of timber, a few thousand barrels of where passengers wish to be put down; charcoal, and at most a million cocoanuts. he is a most obliging gentleman, and will These make up the exports of this coun- stop the train almost anywhere one try; the last bale of cotton went away in pleases if notice is given at the preceding 1843, the last pound of coffee in 1846. station. The line is a single one, and as Since then King Sugar has had no rival. the train runs from one end to the other And we all have our fingers in the hogs- and back again three times a day, time is head, the whole town is sugar, we either not such a very great object and this ar export sugar or import the materials used rangement is most convenient. The time for sugar, or articles required by those taken for the entire journey from George. who grow sugar. There is nothing else. town to Mahaica, the two termini, is one When sugar is up and rain comes down, hour and twenty minutes, the fares are there is not a more cheery or careless one dollar first, fifty-six cents second, and place than this; when sugar goes down forty cents third class. So there is no and the weather is unfavorable we all get great hurry as the distance is only twentythe blues. Yes, all of us, for we live by four miles. sugar, every man and every woman too. Only one industry for this country; all our eggs in one basket, and a colony that could grow so much is almost driven to producing sugar alone. Labor is so scarce and dear that few of the laboring classes work four days in the week, none more than five, and sugar alone can stand it because we are so peculiarly adapted for growing sugar. The sugarcane after all is a reed, and reeds love drained marshes, and what else is this land but a drained marsh?" Well, I say nothing to these ruminations, and by this time the whistle has given its farewell shriek and we are off. Out of the town past the enormous estate Bel Ari, past acres of land abandoned to such grass as grows self-sown, grazed by the coolie's cattle. We are well in sight of the dirty-looking sea. As it is high tide we can see the waves breaking on the stone wall which defends the sea dam at this part, and see the sheer mud thrown in the air. Between us and the sea is the road with a long file of carts carrying goods up the coast. I wonder how they can compete with the rail, perhaps the reason is that the stations are not very conveniently situated.
On the other side of the railway is a great level expanse of acres upon acres of waving green canes looking like wheat in May, the only difference in appearance being that cane looks like a very large kind of wheat. The monotony is broken by the lines of the estates' dams, which are marked by the stately cabbage palm, the picturesque dishevelled Cocoanut palm, or the graceful feather bamboo. The sites of the buildings and dwellings VOL LX, 3107
Mr. Bustle requests the polite conductor to put us down at the middle walk of Nonsuch, and here I notice another peculiar custom, borrowed, I suppose, from the United States. Everybody is always shaking everybody else's hand. If one goes into a store, as big shops are called, and knows the clerk who serves, there is a shake of the hand first, business after. Hands are thrust through little doors in the gauze partitions over the counters of public offices to be shaken before the object of one's visit is entertained, and the operation is religiously repeated before leaving. It is usual to shake hands with a person on being introduced, and on passing an acquaintance where handshaking is impossible, the hand is shaken at the acquaintance. A man driving in the streets and seeing a friend walking past, instead of nodding or touching his hat, shakes his hand and says "So long," a corruption, I suppose, of the Eastern salutation salaam. Well, we religiously shake hands with the pleasant conductor, who mutters some remark about the weather. For here, as in England, the state of the weather opens conversation, though without the same excuse, for the weather is most unchangeable, wet seasons with sunny days (or at least parts of the days sunny), in between, and dry seasons with showers.
In Demerara the weather knows its work and does it. No misty days, no drizzling rain. Either the sun shines with all its might, or it rains like a shower bath. Rain which records a fall of an inch an hour, and sunshine which sends up the mercury to all sorts of heights are the rule.
way to the sea. At the beginning of the wet seasons these front lands become a huge shallow lake, the level of which gets higher and higher till the pressure is sufficient to force away the mud, which is loosened in front of the koker by a gang of men who stand in it up to their waists and stir it up with their shovels. When one considers that an inch of rain means about one hundred tons of water to the acre, that the average yearly rainfall of the country is about eighty inches, and that the area to be drained of an estate is from one to two thousand acres or more, one can realize the enormous weight of water to be lifted. It is raised from six to eight feet.
The heat in the shade is nearly always the | are not cultivated, from whence it finds its same, the strong sea breeze keeping it very equable, day and night. July and January show only about eight or nine degrees of difference. In the house the thermometer is always within a few degrees one side or the other of 80°, and as for the barometer, it varies so little that it is never consulted. A cool day means when the breeze is strong, a hot day means a little breeze. Sometimes in the hot season, July, August, and September, there are days or parts of days when there is no breeze, and its absence is very much felt. The train stops at Nonsuch middle walk, as the centre road or dam of an estate is called, and here is the manager's wagon" (the universally used American buggy), waiting, with a small crecle horse groomed to the last pitch, and a natty, handsome coolie groom, with brilliant teeth and bright beady eyes. Here again let me digress to correct the common idea of the meaning of the word "creole." In Demerara it simply means anything born in the colony; there are creole Chinese, creole coolies, creole whites, creole blacks, creole sheep, creole cabbages, creole horses, and creole anything else.
Mr. Bustle and I get into the wagon, and the groom perches himself on a small tray attached behind, and off we go.
We soon come to a small building with a chimney, apparently a young relation of the tall one in the distance at the factory, it looks as though it had not done growing, and Mr. Bustle asks me if I would like to look at the draining engine. On our way he explains that, on account of the lowness of the land, drainage is only possible at low water, a sluice door, called a koker, being opened when the sea is low to allow the drainage to escape, and closed at high water to prevent the sea water from entering the estate. As the sea is so shallow, channels have to be kept open to let the water pass.
We go into the shed and see a powerful engine, two boilers, a quantity of coal in a shed, and a well with a perpendicular shaft in it. This shaft has a disk at the bottom, which, when rotated, lifts the water from the bottom of the well till it overflows at. the top. The bottom is connected to a large trench which acts as a reservoir, receiving the drainage of the whole estate. Sometimes these pumps have to work incessantly night and day for weeks at a stretch, especially in December, when the rains are as a rule very heavy. Some estates have scoop-wheel draining-pumps, which look like the paddle-wheel of an enormous steamer. have a Gwynne's pump. They are all very expensive and all require a very large quantity of fuel.
The quantity of fuel consumed on an estate is very great. For every ton of sugar which leaves the colony about a ton of coal is imported, and the amount of trees felled for fuel is also very great.
We leave the drainage engine and drive between the cane-fields. These on the east coast near the sea, or in front, are not very productive. In former days manure was but little used, and I was astonished In many parts of the colony, and more to hear that some land has gone on giving particularly on the east coast, the tides crops of canes year after year and nothing silt up these channels with drifty mud, at all returned to the soil. Mr. Bustle especially in dry weather, when there is says that no investment of capital pays no water to force them open. The crops better than manure: "Lime and manure, used to suffer much from bad drainage at my dear sir, never fear for them." It is the beginning of the wet season, and a true that in very dry seasons manure does great deal of labor and money was ex-positive harm, but just take ten years' pended in forcing drainage, that is in cleaning the channel of the mud, which work, moreover, could only be done at low tide.
The consequence is that many estates pump every drop of their drainage from the cultivation into the front lands which
crop on an estate which manures heavily, and compare it with one that does not. Artificial manures are used. Labor is so dear that it does not pay to apply manure except in a highly concentrated form.
A ton of sugar requires roughly about fifteen tons of cane. I know an estate
which averages three tons of sugar per acre, forty-five tons of cane from every acre, and there is no rotation of crop, always cane.
tate's hospital is an adjunct of immigration necessary by law. Every estate that applies for immigrants to be allotted to it, must have a hospital certified by the head doctor of the Immigration Department to hold at least five per cent. of its indentured population. They are generally large buildings on high brick pillars, built north-west and north-east so as to be at right angles to the prevailing north east wind, and situated to windward of all other buildings. They are mostly built on one plan, introduced by Dr. Shier, and their arrangements are very similar.
Under the hospital among the long pil. lars are a few rooms; one is the deadhouse, where bodies lie awaiting interment and where also the doctor makes post mortem examination of those who die suddenly and on whom an inquest is necessary. Next is a bath-room, and a short distance off are two rooms together inhabited by the dispenser. There are two staircases leading to the hospital, one in front for general use and one at the back leading to the kitchen.
We now come to the " 'negro yard," a term which has come down from slavery times. This is the collection of cottages where the laborers, mostly coolies, live. The greater part of the men have gone to their work, and many doors are shut and locked, but many graceful coolie women are walking about and talking incessantly in very loud voices. They are prettily dressed in brightly colored jackets, whitebraided skirts, and each has a long kerchief falling like a veil from the head; this last is a wonderful piece of dress, of fine texture brightly dyed, and with a curious border of horses mounted by circus riders following each other in long procession, or elephants and castles, bullfights or portions of playing-cards, according to the changing fashion of the year or the taste of the wearer Beyond the huts of these Hindu coolies, we come to the cottages of the Chinese laborers, men who seem to carry a bit of China with them We walk up the first and find ourselves wherever they go, so tenacious are they in a long gallery the whole length of the of their own customs and ways. Further building, a projection at one end being paron still is the estate shop, kept by a Por-titioned off as a dispensary; the gallery tuguese. Beyond this shop is the "Afri- goes round the end of the building and can range of huts. Their owners are communicates with the kitchen. The laborers born in Africa, not creoles of wards open to the front gallery, and there African descent. They are commonly called Congos or Kroomans. They are physically a fine race, much disfigured with tatoos. They are just like great children in their disposition, with a great liking for drink. They are immensely strong but very lazy, and their delight is to lie full-length under the direct rays of a tropical sun all day, and dance to the melodious music of monotonous songs and clapping of hands all night. They are splendid cane-cutters, and do all work well that requires much strength and little intelligence. To show how false is the idea that the black race is incapable of improvement, one has only to compare the African cane-cutter with the creole pan-boiler or engineer foreman, and this change is effected in very few generations.
There are then several semi-detached cottages inhabited by the head men, the carpenters, the blacksmiths, the coopers, etc., mostly creoles or Barbadians, but this class has been so often and so well described that I shall pass them by and say nothing about them.
We next come to the estate's hospital and will take a peep inside it. The es
is also a back gallery. There are three wards, one at one end for female patients and the other for male; the middle ward is generally empty, it is kept for cases that are feared to be catching, and is also used for white sailors, or any patients that, from any reason, are wished to be kept separate.
The low beds are ranged in rows, and all the patients are clad in a sort of uniform which gives them somewhat the look of prisoners. The attending these hospitals must be very monotonous work. Most of the patients suffer from the same thing, malarial intermittent fever, which though very lowering and annoying is rarely fatal. The health of an estate is chiefly dependent on its geographical position; where the wind passes from the sea over well-drained land to the dwellings the estate is healthy, particularly if the sea is washing away the shore. Where the sea is depositing mud it is not so healthy, the mud, rich in vegetable matter, giving off unhealthy exhalations at low tide.
The most unhealthy estates are those up the rivers, far from the sea, where the trade wind has to pass over large tracts of
undrained swamp, bringing agues, mala-"after our drive," but he evidently does rial fevers, and liver complaints with it. Near the sea there is very little land breeze as a rule; a season with much land breeze is always unhealthy, as it passes over the undrained savannahs at the back of the cultivated fringe.
Leaving the hospital we drive through the gates of the manager's house, which is surrounded with a very pretty garden, part of which is laid out as a lawn for tennis, surrounded with flower-beds. The house itself is a large airy building.
not expect us to say yes. In this hot country one is always offered a drink as soon as the first salutations are over. On our declining any refreshment, the manager says "that the morning is slipping away and that we had better be starting. We will ride aback," says he, "in the morning while it is cool, and after breakfast we can do the buildings." The buildings mean the factory. He touches the button of an electric bell, and as the bell sounds, a shriek of "Yes sir,” is heard. Mr. Macgregor smiles and says, "I only had these bells put up last year, and the boy answers the bell as he used to answer my shout." The boy comes in all servants are boys here, except the cook and the maître d'hôtel, who is called the butler- he is a smart coolie youngster of about fourteen, clad in brown drill, his jacket like the uniform of a policeman, buttoned up to his throat. "Tell Ram
Built, as are all dwellings for Europeans, on high brick pillars, under the house are rooms inhabited by servants. At the back is a stable with six stalls, above which are four good rooms. There is also a cow-house, a fowl-house, and a large pigeon-house in the yard at the back. The house itself is two stories high, the lower one being one large room screened off into drawing and dining room, and the gallery, part of which is shut off as a bed-deen to bring round the mules," says his room, and part of the back gallery is the office of the manager, full of papers and bottles full of samples of sugar in various stages of discoloration, from the bright primrose hue of yesterday's sample to the faded dirty white of that of the year before last. There are also generally a few sample papers open with sugar spread to view, and ants are there in thousands sucking the color off, at which ants are very clever: they will bleach the darkest sugar in a very short time.
master, "and bring spurs." The manager, who is dressed in blue serge trousers and white drill jacket, has his heels already provided. The boy not only brings the spurs but puts them on, and gives us each a light stick made of a tough sort of climbing plant called a "supple Jack." We mount our mules and set off. On each side of the middle-walk dam down which we rode were canes-nothing else -some ready for the cutters, long and lying down, some just starting, some be On the second floor are three large, ing cut. Between us and the canes on airy bed-rooms and a bath-room with a each side was a trench or canal, about shower bath, the water of which is pumped twenty feet wide, full of black water, up dirty. We mount up the front stairs which shone in the sun like a lookingand are received at the top by Mr. Mac-glass. At distances of about one hungregor, the manager, a tall, strong man dred and twenty yards were cross canals, with deep-red face and light-blue eyes, trenches about twelve feet wide which the whites of which are very bloodshot separate the fields. The fields are di from exposure to the strong glare. He vided into beds about twelve yards wide; shakes hands with Mr. Bustle, who the beds are separated by small drains, at once introduces me; he immediately little trenches, which run parallel with the shakes hands with me and says he is glad cross canals and carry the drainage to the to see me, and then we walk into the gal- side-line trench, which is connected to the lery. This is all windows and jalousie reservoir trench at the drainage engine. blinds, which admit the wind while ex-Thus there are two distinct systems of cluding the glare. Lounging-chairs of canals on each estate, one called the navevery description suggest luxurious "cool-igation system, which is kept full for outs." The windiest corner is taken up with a chair with arms so long that the feet can rest on them; close handy is a smoking-table and a round table covered with newspapers; this is obviously the manager's favorite nook. Two dogs lie on the floor and only acknowledge our arrival by a lazy wink. Mr. Macgregor immediately offers us something to drink
floating the punts, which transport everything, canes from the field to the factory, manure from the factory to the field, coals from the railway to the factory, and produce from the factory to the railway. The supply of water to this system is one of the troubles of an estate. The other system is that of drainage, and the getting rid of the water from this system is an