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and give them, as sailors say, "a wide offing."
There are floating legends among them, reckless
as they are, of broken limbs and loss of life from
such accidents, and they avoid them habitually
as veteran soldiers dodge spent balls. The
hooks tearing at the sacking make a peculiar
ripping noise, which one soon learns to associate
with a Mississippi cotton landing.

Sometimes the men, when the landing is
precipitous, drag the bales to a low part of the cliff,
and then tumble them over with a crash and a
smoky cloud of frightened dust. In other cases,
when the banks slope more gradually up from
the river towards the cotton plantations, they
stick in their hooks, and jolt them over and over
down to the landing-planks, where the mate and
others of the crew wait to receive them.

It is wonderful to see the agility and dexterity
with which the older hands steer the cotton
bales with their hooks, even when leaping and
trotting at their highest speed. They hold on,
running, twitching them alternately right and
left, taking advantage of every inch of
advantageous ground. Sometimes they get a fall, but
generally hold on and drive the bale straight to
its destination with half the trouble that the
other men exert.

The greener hands take quite twice as much
out of themselves, to use the trainer's language,
and with only half the result. The bales won't
lift with them, and, when they do lift, exert
a ponderous conservative vis inertiæ, or go
tearing away into some mud-pool quite in the
wrong direction, or vexatiously, as out of sheer
spite, precipitate themselves headlong into the
water, amid the laughter of the older hands,
and the vociferous curses of the superintending

Now, having watched the cascade of jostling
bales leap and fly down the banks long enough,
I go up higher, with my kind friend, Dr. Bonus
of Ticonderoga, who is anxious to show me a
cotton plantation in full bloom. I had already
seen cotton in Greecethe great plains of
Bœotia, when I rode through them, were snowy
white with cottonso I had in Asia Minor;
so I had already in America, in Kentucky and
Tennessee; but that was far north for cotton,
and the plants grew there pinched and stunted,
and were dwindled to mere currant-bushes.

But here I am, almost in Louisiana, and the
sun burns over our heads with African violence;
so that the very blue of the sky has a fiery
blankness about it, and seems to the dazzled
eye almost of a neutral colour. The cotton
plants are here some six or seven feet high,
richly luxurious, the leaves are of a lavish size,
and as large almost as those of a fig-tree, but of
a finer and frailer texture. I feel like the spy
at Eshcol as I pick a great stem on which flower,
seed, bud, and cotton are all living together in
perfect harmony. The flower is large and bell-
like, of a delicate pale yellow, paler than our
evening primrose, and with a fine tropical dark
eye. Its smell is evanescent, yet not without
a suspicion of fragrance. The buds are hard,
green, and of a serrated oval form, larger in
circumference than thrushes' eggs. The cotton
hangs on the cruciform dry sections of the seed-
pods in white fluffy bunches, as much as a
man's fingers can pinch at one time.
Beautifully white and pure and useful this wonderful
fibre looks, as it hangs in snow-flakes from the
dry crackling cones.

And, as I pick and admire the tall cotton-
trees from which great ropes of wild grapevines
hang like rigging, I hear a cry, and,
looking round, see a negro boy, with bare black
legs, mounted on a huge chesnut stallion, crying
out, that "if massa doesn't make tracks he'll be
too late for de stim-boat."

The steam-boat shrieked for me at that
moment as if I were her lost child; and I was with
her in two minutes.


WITH an order from the War-office to attend
the course of musketry instruction there, I went
to Hythe. I arrived on a day of this last cold
bone-chilling month of December. I enjoyed
my drill during the fortnight before Christmas,
coming back home to the domestic roast beef
and plum-pudding.

I believe that no artist was ever mad enough
to paint a picture of Hythe. There is a ruined
castle in a wood somewhere near, which I dare
say somebody has painted. Sandgate and
Folkestone and the hills, when one is on the top of
them, are undeniable, but of Hythe there is
nothing to be said but that it is Hythe, a place as
dull as my account of what I did there may turn
out to be. For, if there were anything to paint
whether in oils or ink, I couldn't be its painter.
I am a volunteer who cares only to seize facts,
and has a fancy for exhibiting their skeletons.
Would anybody like to see the Skeleton of a
Fortnightthe skeleton of the fortnight that
I spent in attendance on the course of musketry
drill at Hythe?

Many volunteers went down together. One of
us had on his right arm the badge of a first-class
marksman, a silver rifle with three stars. There
were not carriages enough at Westerhanger to
convey us: some of us were carted in, therefore,
by a waggoner whom we impressed into our
service, among his corn sacks. We stopped the
waggon at the barracks to report ourselves, and
then entered the little town in state to spend a
pleasant evening together at the Swan Hotel.

Next day was Wednesday; and, at half-past
nine we went off to parade, where ninety-seven
were in the muster of our volunteers. So many
never were at Hythe before. We were parted
into a right wing and a left wing. The right
wing was commanded by Captain Coles and
Lieutenant Walker. Captain Bostock headed
the left wing. We were all subdivided into
five sections, the number in each section being
nine or ten, and every section under a staff-

What did my section learn? Rifle and lock;
afterwards being catechised thereon. Then we