« PreviousContinue »
things, so they gire then the go hy. That's how they manage it. Pne 113 show all these writer chaps np, some of these adil durs. You cockners may think what you like abeul romig hilig is, mod I know that I used to faner I went throngh great hardships when I happened to be canght in a shuiset of rain in Epping Foresi and had to slay all vight in ihe bearest publie-bouse with nothing but cold meat and country beer. But a shores of raiu in Epping Forest is vol to be mentioned after the monsoon in the Backwonds of Ceylon. Authors are clever chaps al description, but, believe me, toughing it in a book is one ining and rvu.hing it in reality is an iber.
I hare heard of a writer who used to travel and give an account of his vos aging without ever stirring from his house. He would go regularly round his study and give a chapter no prors article he came to. Non sbs shouldn't I do the same, as
I've not been further than the kitchen and the lines, and give an account of my discoveries ?
As I told you before, our house is made o! branches of trees twisted together. At first the leaves filled up the spaces beloween the sticks and kept out the wind and raio, but now that they are all dead and fallen off, there is some rery estensire open. work about ibe walls, not a little eularged by our confounded monkes who prefers going out by any way but the door. I have found it necessary to hans up all our dresses, my wife's sarsnets and my giunea ducks iucluded, along the eides of our huvgalow to keep out a little of the wel and cold, and I assure you they give it the appearance of the inside of a soyal Persian Tent, although Mrs. Brown, who always will destroy my poetical and historical associations, declares it bears more resemblance 10 a clothier's shop in Houndsditch. One corner of abont four square feet is parted off by boxes and porinianties for the children's pursery and my wife's dressing room, which is really necessary, for Mr. Trunk and the coolies walk slap into our place whenever ibey choose, without so inuch as kuocking at the door.
It has been dreadiul work getting the children's clothes dried these rains, and as yet we're no one to do oor washing : Inice a week there's a terrible assemblage of small articles of dress of various shapes, strung up along the soom, like reams of paper in a printer's office, and really it requires all my presence of mind to duuge between them without getting a wel face. The things would never dry were fit not for the help of sundry bottles of hot Fater and my sleeping on them at night, which latter has given me a few twitches of rheumatism. But my wife's everlasting inonkey causes me more frouble ihan everything else put together. I'm obliged to tie bim op in a bug ou washing days, or he'd play Thomas with the clothes, and then ont of spile he amuses us all with a quiel, subdued yell. I was but the other day he scoured off with one of my open razors jo bis paws, but he sus puuisbed for his pains, for as he was fourishing it about on the roof It took of the tip of one of his ears. The rascal bas been quieter since, and scampers off whenever he sees me guing to shave.
My desk is in a corner near the door, where I transact all my estate bu. siness and give a daily audience to Mr. Trunk, who details to me the transac. tions of the past day, the state of the coulies, ditto of weather and the operations that should be pursued. On my first interview of this kind he detailed at full length the necessaries of a good estate, amongst them he said a good nursery was the most important and should be began immediately. Thinking that he was alluding to some building for my children I thanked him for considering their confort, but said I meant to make shift with a corner of my bungalow, ren and int could not describe anything like Trunk's look on liearing this; I found out after beating about a litue, that he alluded to a nursery of coffee plants. His talking about the lines for coolies also bothered me a bit at first, for I could not imagine that lines was the name of their dwellings, and only thought of lines to dry their clothes on. How ever, I expect I am now pretty well up to all these things, and am likely to tum vut a first rale planter, at least so says Mr. Truok, and he must know a good planter from a bad one.
By great perseferovce 1 lave succeeded in pelling in, with a gang of 60 coolies, about fiftien thousand seedlings. Ouly fancy, cousin, fifteen thousand ! Wby, if they was growo big, and all in a row they'd go right from Crutched Friars in the London Docks. I've been culculating how much Coffee they'll give me at three pounds a tree and I find its a good lot. Twice have I been out in the pouring rain see my young plants aud they certainly do grow a bit. I had a chair tied upon poles and was carried by six men, with another to hold a talipot leaf over my head, for I dont care a dump bow I expose myself, if it's only for example's sake. My telescope was slung bs my side, and in my pocket along with memorandum book, knife, string and compass, has a flat green bottle well corked and certainly as well filled. I fancy there are very few Planters wbo would have sallied forth in that way, and in that weather, but as I said I do not mind difficulties. In a few huurs I did about a couple of days work. I first measured the prin. cipal plants and noted down their height with the day of the month, for these are things that demand precision: I then counted the whole of them to see if any had been stolen, knowing what shocking thieves the patires are, but found them all right. After this I made a general inspection of mr coolies and their tools, under cover, and then trying to catch a glimpse of the dis. tant mountains through the mizzling rain, I proceeded to the “Lines" apd had A regular survey of them.
I don't think I can give you a better idea of Malahar lines than likening them to the roof of a long English barn taken off and placed on the grounde Deuce a bit of wall is there to them, and as for doors, windows and chimblians they wouldn't have them if it was to save their lives. They get in and out at the ends, and the smoke oozes out wherever the snakes and ibe rats make holes for it in the roof. When I first saw my lives I thought to be sure they were built ander grouod and that only a part of the roof was visible above the earth. I managed to scramble in on my hands and buees and when inside, Oh! what a hoyn assailed my nose. A dozen lanpers, glus. makers and soap.boilers would have been perfumers' shops in comparison. I must confess I was shocked at the idwa of human beings herding together in such a state of ilth and discomfort, aud immediately determined to build large and commodious houses for them as soon as the rains were gode. The floor was of mud of course, and the oudy visible contents of the little crils were a roll of matting in one corner for a bed, three stones for a fireplaca, #basket hanging from the roof with a few fruits and regetables in ii, ipop which lay a child fast asleep, some parthen vessels for cooking and drinking, and a fat and a round stone for grinding up their curry stuffs. Two or three vaked children roumd the fire in addition to the one in the basket, the wife atirring the curry pot wib her fingers, and a little tiny fux nosed, wire tailed, suarling cur at the entrance completed the Tout Assembly, and a precious dirty, romantic, stinking, indian assembly it was, too. Glad enough was I i3 creep out of these wretched abodes, jump into my chuir and turo homeward, Tbe risit, however, did ine some good, for it made me feel quite in elysium in my own comfortable hut. How little do we know, cousin, wben we complain of our owu discomforis and annoyances, of what thousands of our fellor.
unólergoing of. I would advise all yrumbling and discontented persons to take a stroll through the world and just compare their own loi Fith that of many of their brother pilgrims of life, and depend upon it they'll go home again with quite a new rig-out of feeliugs.
I know when I re. turned home after my visit to the lines, and found myself inside of Epping Bungalow I made sure I had got into Buckingham Palace by mistake.
By the next morning I had a plan for a new and improved set of build. ings for my laborers, laid out on a large sheet of cartridge paper, and a rery pretty place it seemed to be, although my wife did say that it looked like the inside of a work-hox. There was to be no stint of room: every man was to have a sitting and sleeping room to himself, and there was one general kitchen to the whole lot, The rooins were to be foored, with good stout walls, lofty, and strongly roofed : in short I meant them to be nice little bits of places something like the fishmongers alms-houses in Shoreditch. But when I caine to show the thing to my man Friday he actually laughed at me and declared that if I built such a place I should not get a single cooly to sleep in it.
I could Searcely credit this, but he assured me it was a faol. Why, said be, if they
don't sleep close to where they cook, they'd perish with cold, and what Malabar do you ibink would ever live in a room that he could stand upright" in. Then again you've mado all tbe rooms ten feet square. Now our Malabar's arerage fire feet teo inches and if their places exceed six feet in length they would not stay in them. It would be no ase giving thein twenty dollars á month, if when they lie down they cannot touch one wall with their feet and another with their head. Your roonis, too, are hoarded and how could they throw all their slops and messes
on the floor?
No, no, continued Trunk, that plau will never do. If you build such A place as that, your coolies would not stay
a month witb you. I was obliged to give up my liberal scheme, and have since been enoub to convince me that he was right in his advice. What a precious set of black mortals they are to be sure !
I forgot to tell you that we are without servants. My Appo came to me A few days ago with a face as long as from here to the Lines, and begged to be allowed a holiday to go and see his mother, for that she was plenty sick" and he was her only son. The request seemed moderate enough and I gave him permissiou for a week, together with his month's pay and a little more in advance. A day or two afterwards master cookey wanted to go to some ontlandish place or other, to see his sister married: but that would not do at all and I had to decline compliance. He wheeded me out of his month's pay however, which he said he wanted to send as a present to his sister, and Mrs. Brown added something out of her own pocket, besides a little finery for the girl to wear. The next morning, breakfast did not make it's appearance at the usual time, and I sang out for cookey, but no 'cookey replied; I called to Mr. Trunk, he was out in the "nursery” with all the corlies, There was nothing left for me but to walk over to our kitchen, which I found as desolate and deserted as Robinson Crusoe's island. No cook, no fire, no nothing. All gone but the pots, and they were so black I couldn't see them. Here was a dreadful state of things! All of us ready for break. fast, and the children in particular. I broke the news to Mrs. B. as gently as I could, and we agrend that there was no help for it, but to light a fire, and do something for ourselves. But when it came to the do I found I could no more get a light than I could borrow one from the man in the
With a box of good Lucifers the thing's simple enough: its just a rub and a phiz and the fire's alight, but when your matcbes are all wel with rain, when flint and steel are unknown, and there's not a bit of sun to use a burning glass by, its another pair of shoes. At last I thought of my gun and in & -minute I had a light, but the fire was deuce of a job. The rascally cook bad left all bis fire wood outsiile, and it has been raining a series of rivers all night long. There no alternative but breaking up a deal clothes box and some of the walking-sticks with which # the oud of an hour I made about a pint of water luke-waim! It was
wretched tiine, what with burning my fingers, spilling the victuals, cracking ibe eartben pots, and diriying a pair of my whitest durks! Iluw | anarbe. mized the cook I leave you to guess : I can only say that is a lenit part of my wishes respecting the prosperity of him and his family bad bero sulfled not one of the tribe should ever have cooked again iv. ibis world, but base tasted a curry botter than capsicum or chillie could pake it.
We have since had our meals cooked by two of our Malabars Fires bat not liking our food smoked daily I am writing to my frienil in Columbo lo send up a cook and boy without delas. See if they bumbug us! not if they each have a duzen mothers on the point of death, and liteniy sisters
about to marry.
The messenger is waiting for this so I will conclude by assuring you of our well.doing in the words of Mrs. Squeers.—“The Pigs is well, and ibe Boy's is bobbish."
Ever your Cousin,
When Meara and Sullivan kad separated, the latter returned slowly in the direction of his uncle's house, revolving in his mind the prudence of acquainting him at once with what we had seen. On arriving at the house bowever, he found all dark outside, and apprehensive that an untimely visit might prove more prejudicial than advantageous to his intentions he deleired his interview until the foliowing day. In the meantime Meara had reaclied lois dwelling full of plans 10 averi the storm wbich be clearly discerned in the manner and conduct of Shane Buie. Lale as it was he went in search of a poor idiot boy called poor Jem-residing in Glynis, who possessed a suflicient degree of sense to enable lım to proti boy ihe very impression which his folly made upon others. wbat is called in Ireland a · Hult Nurural, and having been, as is usually the case among the poor, lelt 'by his family to follow the bent of his own inclinationis, be had often altended the marauders during the preceding winter, and received from Edmund Meara many little kindnesses at different times. To this boy Meara went, and having directed him to call on him early on iko following morning he returned home. - When ihe boy wrived at