[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]

other of the troubles. How Mr. Mac- have stayed with Mr. Bustle. The canes gregor told one field from another I could are planted in rows about six feet apart; not tell (they are all exact parallelo- the space between is called the bank ; grams, and look as like as peas in a pod), each alternate bank had had a gutter cut but he did, and talked learnedly to Mr. through it about two feet wide and a foot Bustle about each, — what No. 46 gave and a half deep called a drill, on the other last year, what it was expected to give was a heap of dead leaves and dry grass this, the manure used, the wo done, and called a trash bank. The canes were like how a “gall”. or barren part had been snakes crawling and matted all over the treated with lime and the results. The surface. They were full-grown and about fields have no names — they are all num- twelve feet long, the leafy end being fully bered. I heard of drills and forking banks, seven feet high above the ground. Mr. and I know not what else. All the culti. Macgregor walked on most coolly, sepavation is by hand. Agricultural imple rating the canes with his stick and always ments cannot be reconciled with the open stepping over the trash banks and drills. drains. Many attempts have been made I floundered after, treading on the slipto introduce subsoil drainage and steam pery canes, and falling in the drills, which cultivation, but though a few estates still seemed specially designed to trip me up. keep to it as a rule it has not been a suc- 1 dreaded stepping into these trash banks

- every story I had ever heard of gigantic We rode three miles along the dam, snakes, ferocious alligators, and venomous passing the various gangs at work. Here insects rising to my mind. Mr. Macgregor were a lot of coolie women and the weaker told me that I had nothing to fear, that men weeding; they seemed very merry, the fields were far too often worked to and all shouted a " salaam " and a remark harbor any vermin more dangerous than a that there was “too much grass. Irat, but I had my own opinion. The sun thought of the sun blazing then, what poured down and not a breath of wind would it be at noon! Mr. Bustle told me penetrated the jungle. The unwonted exthat he had never heard a coolie complain ercise made me perspire at every pore, of heat, but that in wet weather they all and in spite of my firm resolve not to give complain of cold. Most of the coolies in, I soon was obliged to stop and suggest come from the plains of India, and though that Mr. Bustle would be tired of waiting. there the nights are cooler, especially in I scrambled back and could hear every the cool season, than in Demerara, the pulse beating in my ears. I felt hot and sun is very much hotter and there is not thirsty and would have given very much the same strong breeze to temper the heat for a glass of rain water clear and iced.

We pass a field of “high canes," and a I had on my way noticed that the people gang of black women are stripping off the drank the black water of the canal, a dead cane leaves, technically called thrash- tumbler of which looks like weak brandy ing. Now,”


Mr. Macgregor, "if and water or tea, and I had wondered how you want to feel that you are in the tropics, they could swallow it. Somehow it did come with me. We dismount and give not seem so impossible now and I asked our mules in charge of a water-carrier, a if it were wholesome. Mr. Bustle said boy, and cross the canal in a float. Mr. that it was slightly laxative to those unacBustle declines to accompany us and customed to its use, that the color was says he will wait till we return. We due to vegetable matter, and the end was climb up a slippery bank, and I, to save that I took a long delicious draught from myself from falling, lay hold of a cane, the skillet of the water-carrier, and never and find that the edges of the leaves are have I tasted any wine more like nectar serrated and that I have given my hand than was the draught of lukewarm and not à long cut just through the skin which too clean water. smarts atrociously; but worse than that, We remounted our steeds and passed the part of the leaf which is attached to more fields ; in some black men were cutthe cane is covered with a sort of fur, ting canes, dressed as a rule in singlet and the ends quite sharp, and my fingers are trousers. No laborers ever wear covercovered. Mr. Macgregor only laughs, ing to their feet while at work. Some of and

says I want the knack of walking these singlets were in such utter tatters through high canes. He cuts a piece of that I wondered whether they were worn cane and advises me to rub my fingers for warmth, decency, or ornament.

In with the damp end, saying that nothing other fields were the coolie shovel-men is better for extracting .cane pimpler.' digging those same abominable drills, I then start, and find that I had better further on some were forking the banks,

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

on which by.and-by the “trash” would have their choice either to stop grinding be laid, forking it just as a gardener does just when the canes are ripe and the a potato-patch in an English kitchen gar- weather favorable or to take sea water den. We passed few saddled mules on into the trenches, which injures the cultithe dam, the riders of which were the vation and damages the boilers and ma. overseers at that time in the fields either chinery. seeing that the work was honestly per- I never before realized the absurd fears formed in accordance with the orders of the possible over-population of this given, or entering the names of each la- globe, at least for very very long. Here borer and the amount of work done. I were we three men. To the north was a was astonished when I heard that many thin line of cottages between us and the an overseer has to walk about two miles ocean, to the south was the whole enor. through those odious high canes and take mous interior of South America, almost down all the work before breakfast. “It uninhabited; just a few huts sprinkled is very unpleasant in wet weather," says sparsely on the banks of the rivers, the Mr. Macgregor, “ the land is so slippery land between river and river empty. and clings to one's boots, and the wet I had expected to see all sorts of life in softens the skin and renders it liable to be this savannah; I had often heard of the cut by the cane-blades.” The name is teeming animal life of the tropics. But appropriate, and I quite believe Mr. Mac- if there was any animal life, it managed gregor's statement. At length we reach most successfully to hide itself. I saw the back dam and find a watch-house sur- nothing except a very few small birds. rounded by cocoanut trees, at which I, A great green plain, with here and there a again thirsty, cast longing eyes. The clump of wild palms, and on the far hori. manager calls the watchman, who brings zon a line of low bushi that is what I me a green nut_full of the cool, clear saw. We rode along the back dam till we water, which the English call, from some came to the side-line dam, which divides unknown reason, cocoanut milk. There Nonsuch from the neighboring village of is no flesh in these young unripe nuts, Wilberforce, so called in gratitude to the only a little jelly lining; all the inside is great abolitionist. Down this we rode, full of this water. I notice that neither seeing on one side the same cane-fields of my companions appears either hot or highly cultivated, neat and orderly, on thirsty, and am told that drinking is the other a miserable sight, a few plan. merely a matter of habit. “Drinking be- tain-trees struggling with the choking fore breakfast destroys the appetite," says grass, a few fruit-trees half strangled with

Mr. Bustle. I wished it would destroy parasitic vines, neglect, laziness, and want mine. Here we were, at about 10 A. M., of thrift visible throughout. About halfmiles from a house, and I was ravenous. way along the dam was much wider, and I I had eaten nothing but a small biscuit was told that when the estates were first since my dinner at 7 P.M. on the previous laid out, the dams dividing them were evening. I had been a drive, a railway very wide, so that if a second row of journey, a drive and a ride, besides a estates should be established, the dams scramble among those delicious high would serve as roads, and also enable canes, and I should have liked breakfast trenches to be dug to drain the “second at my usual hour, 9 A.M. It never seemed depth ” estates. to enter the heads of my companions that On this dam a lot of “free,” or unindenwe were late. The back dam is a wall of tured, coolies had squatted. They are earth raised to the height of about ten great hands at building houses or huts, feet above mean tide level; on one side is which grow up like the palace of Aladdin, the estate, on the other a great savannah in a single night. By the way, it seemed growing rank “razor grass,” a sort of first so strange to see real people with “ Ara. cousin to the cane, a coarse sort of fern, bian Nights

To have Aladdin and that is all. At the time I speak of it|(here pronounced Al-a-deen) as groom, was covered with water about two feet and Saladin (Sal-a-deen) as driver; with deep. This water seems a great trouble. Mohammeds and Ismaels all about, like a It is a source of danger in wet weather. mixture of fairy tales and the Old TestaIf the back dam burst the whole cultiva- ment. These houses are made of spars tion would be in danger of being swainped. put close together, the walls and floor are In dry weather it disappears, and then the daubed with a mixture of mud and cowestates are at their wits' end to know how dung, laid on like cement, which is said to to get sufficient water to fill their naviga. keep away insects, they are thatched with tion trenches, and in very dry years they the leaves of palm-trees, and are preferred

[ocr errors]


to the neat white pine-board cottages, out for about a hundred yards at right an. with shingled roofs, provided by the es- gles to the dam; outside the dam is also tates. The coolies like them because they packed a quantity of bush. But these are said to be warm at night and cool in precautions cost a frightful amount of the day, but I fancy the real reason is, money and trouble, and a rough high because their native huts in India are very spring tide would often in a few hours demuch the same. They have a room nearly stroy and carry away any amount of work. in darkness, lighted by a window that is The waves rocked the groynes till the an opening with a wooden flap; a door timbers, driven deep in the mud, rocked on the leeward side opens into the gal- like gigantic loose teeth, and the water lery, the eaves of which descend to within carried away the mud thus stirred up. All three feet of the ground, and the coolies other means being ineffectual, it was restoop on entering or leaving, till they look solved to protect the dam with stone. like foxes coming from a hole. In these This may be done in two ways; either by galleries were women, some engaged in facing the dam with stone, or by running fanning rice, or in pouring rice from one a stone dam outside of and parallel to straw shovel to another, the wind carrying the earth dam. All the stone has to away the dust. Some were cooking, some be imported either from other lands or nursing their children, some engaged from the penal settlement up the River openly in certain mysteries of the toilette Mazzaruni. In either case it is very exwhich in more civilized countries would pensive, and Mazzaruni stone being grannot be performed in public. The children ite, and very heavy, a great many tons were everywhere, and all set up a shout make a very little show. At first the of Miming, miming! like a sort of chant. stone was just tumbled out of the vessels They were engaged in caning a toy tad- (generally fat-bottomed square punts, with jah, and playing at the Hosein feast. One one mast), but it sank in the mud, and had carried the pagoda, made of mud, the rest to find or make a foundation, so that more beat old paraffin oil-tins as drums, and stone was below the mud than above. two little chubby rascals were playing at Then the stone was put on bush matsword-exercise with sticks.

tresses, and this plan has been found most We rode past these huts, and came to economical and effective. the breezy pasture, low Bahama grass By this time it was after eleven, and we dotted with cattle, the line of the railway turned homewards and rode up the midembankment (or dam) in front, and behind dle-walk dam at a rattling canter to the that the sea-dam, marked by a dense bush manager's house. When we arrived I of cunida, a sort of mangrove. This bush could scarcely crawl up the steps, I was failed towards the east, and Mr. Mac- so stiff. gregor informed us that he wanted us to “Swizzles, sharp!” cries Mr. Macinspect his sea-defences, and we cantered gregor, “and ring the breakfast bell.” briskly down to the sea-dam. This is a The boy soon brought in three small broad' embankment of earth running the tumblers full of a pink liquid with a foamwhole façade of the estate. On the innering head, iced perfectly. The swizzle side is a large trench, from which the proved to be a most delicious drink. earth was dug to make the dam, on the We had hardly finished it when the other a flat glistening plain of mud, cov- overseers came up, the stairs, five strong ered only at high water. Where we were young men, all sunburnt and healthy-lookthe sea had made encroachments, and had ing, the palest being the overseer in charge dug channels and holes in the mud, and a of the buildings. Introductions and handlot of money had been spent on the sea- shakings having been duly performed, we defences. The dam had been paled off went into the dining-room and sat down to

that is, protected on the seaward side a Demerara breakfast. The breakfast by posts of green heart.and planks driven consisted of salt cod-fish with egg sauce, deep, and braced with piles on the land potatoes, cassava, and plantains, followed side, and cross timbers. Mr. Macgregor by curried fowl, cold salt beef, and a stew, told me how groynes had been run out, and ending with tea, bread and butter, that is, a sort of wooden wall made of this last being I suppose a kind of compiles and planks driven into the mud so memoration of the English breakfast. as to break the force of the waves and Breakfast is the chief meal of the day with protect the dam. Some are made of bush, the planters. After having done thorough that is, mattresses of black logs or guava justice to it, we all went out for a smoke bushes are made and pinned down with in the cool gallery or verandah. Cool as it spars and posts. These groynes are run was in the shade, there was a terrible glare

[ocr errors]

of sunshine out in front of us, and loung- naces. We next went to the clarifier-loft, ing and smoking in my easy chair I felt in which were boxes constructed to hold a pleasant dreaminess, and thought that I seven hundred and fifty gallons each. The never before understood as I did then the juice is pumped into them through a juice. poem of “ The Lotos-eaters ” and the land heater, which last is a cylinder full of where it was always afternoon. There we steam, through tubes in which the juice sat smoking and chatting, some of us even passes. In the clarifiers the juice is treated dozing a little, till near two o'clock, when with the lime necessary to counteract its Mr. Macgregor called the boy, who acidity. The lime is quicklime mixed with brought us three tumblers of iced lemon. water to the consistency of cream. Many ade, made of lime-juice, sugar, and water, attempts have been made to defecate the one of the nicest drinks for a hot climate cane-juice by galvanic action, which, it that have ever been devised, fresh limes was hoped, would supersede lime, and have a bouquet that no lemon has, still although partial success has attended labless does preserved lime-juice give any oratory experiments, yet lime is still uni. idea of it. Then we walked off to take a versally used in factories. The cane-juice turn through the buildings. On reaching enters the clarifiers a turbid stream, but them the first thing I noticed was the row on being treated with lime and subsided, of cane punts in the water-way — long, it leaves the clarifiers quite clear-looking, narrow, flat-bottomed boats, holding about something like beer. It is then sub. three tons each, with plenty of water (that jected to the fumes of burning sulphur, is, about three feet); a mule will tow four which bleach out the natural green tint of of these at the rate of about a mile an the juice. It then enters a battery, or hour. These punts lie alongside the cane- several vessels heated with steam, where carrier, which is two endless chains with it is quickly boiled. This is done to cowooden slats fastened on them. Men inagulate the albumen which rises as scum, the punts throw the canes into the carrier, and supersedes the old-fashioned copper which moves by machinery, carrying the wall. The men doing these various op. canes on it into the buildings. It takes erations were mostly coolies, with a few about fifteen tons of cane to make a ton of black supervisors. I was told that men sugar, and about one man is allowed for educated in European sugar refineries are each ton made a day, so that each man lifts not a great success; they never seem to about fifteen tons of cane breast high every learn that they have not a mixture of sugar day. The canes are carried to the mill, and water to deal with, as at home, but which has three rollers, two below and one the juice of a plant which consists of suabove, which grind them. The mangled gar, water, and many other component canes are called megass. At Nonsuch parts. this megass falls into another carrier, Besides, Europeans out in Demerara which carries it to another mill alongside are as it were exotics, and have to be of the first. This second mill has also a treated as such, and exotics are always cane-carrier, so that in case of any acci- expensive. dent to the first this can grind canes. The On old-fashioned estates, instead of a megass is automatically spread on the steam battery a copper wall is used, heated rollers of this mill, which is as powerful by the flames of burning megass. This, as as the first, and this again squeezes it. I already stated, is a row of caldrons with a was told that on many estates the megass fue below. On very old-fashioned estates is steamed and sprinkled with hot water and in the West Indian Islands the whole on its way from the first to the second process is finished on this wall, the juice mill (a process called maceration, intro- being boiled to a thick, treacle-like fuid, duced by Mr. Russell, of Leonora). I which on cooling crystallizes. At Nonwas also told that the first mill expressed such the juice is only boiled in the open on an average sixty-eight per cent. of the for a short time till it ceases to throw up weight of the canes, and the second mill scum, it then passes into certain vessels seven per cent. more, making a total of where it is allowed to subside, and after seventy-five per cent. The megass, after that enters the triple effet, a complicated this second crushing, falls on another car. arrangement of three large vessels which rier, which conveys it direct to the fur- are heated by steam. There is an engine naces where it is burnt at once.

attached which produces a vacuum in Formerly, and still on many estates, vessel No. 3, the steam from the juice this megass used to be packed in large boiling in the vessel being condensed in buildings called logies to dry, whence it a separate vessel, with a jet of cold water was carried on women's heads to the fur which is removed by pumps. The steam of the juice boiling in No. 2 is the steam / which were returned up a similar plank which boils the juice in No. 3, and the with one good shove. This plan has ansteam of the juice boiling in No. I is the swered so well that no more scientific one steam that boils No. 2. The clear juice, has ever been substituted. now called liquor, is admitted to No. 1, The molasses from this sugar is treated after boiling a time it is passed to No. 2, according to the markets. When deep then to No.3, from which it passes to the yellow sugar is in fashion, a certain vacuum pan. The triple effet is not emp- amount is reboiled to color the syrup tied, it is always being filled up, and the sugar. When low sugar is selling well, it juice as it were passes through it. The is boiled into a second sugar, called movacuum pan is slightly different, the vac- lasses sugar, which is something like the uum is very high and it is charged from old Muscovado sugar. When sugar is low time to time with the syrup from the triple and rum sells well, the whole is sent to effet till it is full of sugar, then it is emp- the distillery. All the skimmings, subsidtied or half-emptied. The vacuum is pro-ings, etc., are collected in a vessel, where duced by the aid of a condenser, into they are boiled up with steam and then which a jet of water is thrown which is forced by a pump into a filter press; the removed by powerful pumps. The object filtered juice comes away quite clear, the of boiling in vacuum is to evaporate with dirt is left, when the press is opened, dry the lowest possible heat, and also to pro- and hard, like oil-meal cake, and even that duce the largest possible crystal, when is sometimes washed by having water large-grained sugar is in request. When passed through the filter presses after the in the vacuuin pan the sugar is colored. subsidings. Even this is not wasted, Some estates use sulphuric acid, but as being mixed with lime and sent as manure that destroys a certain amount of sugar to the field. The molasses is mixed with many use a dye called bloomer, the exact water, and pumped into large vats in the composition of which is kept secret by “liquor loft,” where, after it has duly ferthe patentees. This colors the sugar yel- mented, it is distilled into rum. low.

Rum and molasses are called the "offal The vacuum pan is emptied into cool- crop,” and it is not a feather in a maners, from whence the masse cuite, as it is ager's cap to make much of it. When called, is carried to the centrifugals. As low-class sugars sell well, and the molasses the names show, many of these appara. is reboiled, but very little is made, and the tuses were invented by the French. advocates of galvanism predict that the

Nonsuch has six centrifugals; three are use of that agent instead of lime will one Weston's patent hanging centrifugals, and day still further reduce it. The presence three are old-fashioned ones. The first of the ferment in cane-juice, and the cliare used for the first sugar, the latter for mate, always favoring fermentation, are molasses sugar.

difficulties that attend the making of cane It was a pleasure to see the rapid way sugar as compared with beet; beet is in which the Chinese worked at curing treated in a colder climate, and is naturally sugar. The Weston's machines spin at less disposed to fermentation. Another an enormous speed, and, the molasses in trouble is, that canes will not keep well driven by centrifugal force through the after they are cut, and this makes any holes in the lining of the baskets, in a few accident in the factory result in great loss, seconds leave the sugar dry and ready for the reserve of canes cut always deterioratthe broker's sample-table and the grocer's ing rapidly, and if the accident takes long counter.

to repair, the canes are liable to be utterly Mr. Macgregor said that when these spoilt. centrifugals were first erected, there was The Nonsuch buildings are about the much attention given to the best way of best in Demerara. About two years pregetting the masse cuite from the pan to vious to my visit, a thief, attempting to the centrifugals, or rather to the pug-mill steal rum from the rum store, set fire by which stirs up the masse cuite before it carelessness to the rum, and the whole flows to the centrifugals.

of the buildings were utterly destroyed. Neither he nor Mr. Spofforth had | This was regarded at the time as a great thought of a good way, and in the mean misfortune, but now Nonsuch has a fine time they expected that the Chinese would set of works, beautifully arranged, anc carry it. As soon as the Chinese came, worked with very few hands, instead of they rigged up a slippery green-heart as is unfortunately too often the case with plank, with ridges at the edges, and down West Indian factories, a mass of machin this slid the buckets full of masse cuite, Iery heaped together on no plan, one part

« ElőzőTovább »