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No sooner was this done than the little
canoe bounded off as swiftly and noiselessly as
a deer ; the breeze was fair, and the water
smooth as a mirror. If anything can transport
one in imagination to fairy land, it is to
be wafted along in a Cingalese canoe, with
its beautifully-transparent tall sail, floating
jauntily amongst groves of wild, strange-
looking trees, which nearly always fringe the
banks of tropical rivers ; and, catch
occasionally the gorgeous rays of the sun amidst
the dark, clustering foliage. The canal
or river is as winding as a serpent, and in
many places so narrow, that the bamboo
mast gave a passing greeting to clusters of
flowering shrubs that blossomed on the cool

The Lake of Negombo, a fine sheet of
water, was soon crossed, and landing at a
little tope of cocoa-nut trees, I procured
one of the common bullock-hackeries of the
country, and made the best of my way to the

A first glance at the cinnamon plantations
at Kaderani showed that drainage had been
well seen to. This is a very important
matter; for, although heat and moisture
are both essential to the full development
of the spice, stagnant water injures its
flavour. The natives pay but little attention
to this, nor to removing the young
sticks before the bark thickens too much;
hence the marked inferiority of all native-
grown cinnamon.

Arrived at the superintendent's bungalow,
a breakfast of fish, eggs, and curry was soon
served up, and finished, with a bottle of Allsop's
Pale Ale; for be it known that the dirty thick
liquid served out as coffee by the Cingalese,
is not drinkable by one European in a
dozen; although it might have been expected
that the island which produces the berry in
such abundance should also furnish the
beverage of fair quality. Breakfast over, I
proceeded, with niy host, to inspect the
"works," or "peeling-houses."

In former days, both under the Dutch and
English Governments, the cultivation, as well
as the after preparation of the spice, was
exclusively carried on by one particular caste of
Cingalese, called " Chalias," who had head-
men, or petty chiefs, of various grades placed
over them, belonging to their own body. This
system is now partly changed, and the
preparation of the bark is alone carried on by
the " Chalias." This being their hereditary
occupation, they are, as might be expected,
remarkably expert in their operations. Having
spent two days amongst these Peelers, I was
enabled to watch the whole process of
cropping, in the various stages, from the green
stick to the beautifully yellow pipe of
prepared spice.

The " Chalias " are assembled at break of
day in gangs of thirty, with a " Canghan," or
native overseer of field work, over each. All
are armed with a sharp, light bill-hook, or
" cattie," and a stout cord to tie up the sticks
when cut. The European superintendent,
having seen each gang properly equipped,
accompanies them to the spot appointed for
the day's cutting, to which they march in
good order: each party is then placed, and,
at a signal from the superintendent, the men,
to the number of perhaps two hundred, rush
amongst the bushes, " cattie " in hand, with
loud shouts and cheers, and the work of
destruction commences in good earnest. The
peelers are paid according to the quantity of
spice they prepare, and it may, therefore, be
imagined how anxious each one is to secure a
good bundle of sticks. A stranger seeing this
large number of men rushing madly into the
plantation, flourishing their sharp, shining
weapons above their heads, with their long
black hair floating over their shoulders,
might easily fancy they were in pursuit of
wild animals, or about to attack some hidden
enemy. Very soon, however, the shouting
ceases; not a sound is heard, save the sharp
click of the " catties " against the tender
green sticks, which may be seen toppling over
in all directions. By ten or eleven o'clock
the peelers had cut sufficient cinnamon to
occupy them, in the barking process for the
remainder of the day; and, having collected
all their sticks in bundles, they proceeded to
the " peeling-house." Arrived there, not a
moment was lost: the heavy bundle is flung
upon the floor of the veranda, and the
"Chalias," having hastily drank off the milky
juice of a cocoa-nut, and wiped the perspiration
from their foreheads, seated themselves
cross-legged on a rush mat; and, with a
curiously-shaped little knife, proceeded to strip
the tender bark. It is scarcely to be believed
how rapidly barking is performed. The little
knife is first run down the stick on two
opposite sides, from end to end, and then, by
inserting the instrument at the thick part,
between the bark and the stick, and running
it quickly along, with a twisting motion, the
long slip of fine bark falls off, without a slit
or blemish, an object very desirable if the
quality be in other respects fine. When the
sticks are all stripped they are of no further

On the morning of the second day the scene
was of a more lively character. The wives
and children of the peelers again flocked to the
peeling-house; and, seated in rows, commenced
scraping off the green cuticle from the heaps
of bark slips, which are brought to them by
the younger children, who also remove the
scraped spice to the men. These begin by
assorting them into three qualities, according
to thinness of bark and brightness of colour:
the shorter pieces of each kind are set aside,
to be placed in the interior of the pipe, whilst
the longest are placed outside. The piping,
or quilling, then commences, and by dexterous
management, the peeler so selects the bark,
that very little cutting at the ends is required
to form them into the proper length. The