Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 37.djvu/848

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able grain. The Chinese have much improved it by selection, which practice was in early years enforced by an imperial edict requiring the planting of only the largest grains. The most valuable variety grown in this country was secured by a South Carolina planter, who, upon observing some notably long grains upon a head, secured them, and so obtained the kind called the long grain. In the island of Ceylon there are one hundred and sixty-one varieties.

Various accounts are given of the introduction of rice into this country: one, that it was brought from the island of Madagascar toward the close of the seventeenth century, and planted in a garden in what is now one of the most thickly settled parts of the city of Charleston; and from this came the seed "that has made South Carolina the great rice-growing State." Another account claims that it was first grown in Virginia by Governor Berkeley, of unenviable fame, as early as 1647.

There are three varieties in the rice-growing States: 1. "White rice, valued for its earliness and for growing upon uplands, the husk cream-colored, and an ounce containing nine hundred and sixty grains. 2. The gold-seeded, with a deep-yellow husk, and large, fine white grain, eight hundred and ninety-six grains to the ounce. 3. The long grain, a sub-variety of the gold seed, having eight hundred and forty grains to the ounce; the grains are longer than any other, and it is the most valued for cultivation: for home use a long-awned variety, called the white seed, is often sown."

It is of the rice-fields of the tide-lands of the Georgia and Carolina coast, and of the adjacent islands, that we would speak. To those who have never been among them, these rice plantations would afford much that is both novel and interesting. This evergreen region, where the plaintive notes of the whippoorwill and song of the sweet-throated mocking-bird float up through the moss-covered trees; and negroes, fever and ague, rice-birds and alligators abound, would indeed seem to be a new world to our Northern brethren, and the picturesque effects charm the eye of the stranger artist. The rice-field darkey is himself a distinct type, totally different in both aspect and dialect from the negroes of the interior; and a not uninteresting sight is the force, as with song and shout they take their way along the embankment to the rice-field. Their ancestors for generations back, or, as they would tell you, "mi f arrar an' mi granfarrar," have lived and labored in these malarial regions, and they accept chill and fever and other infelicities incident to these localities as unavoidable evils, plodding on with no higher aim nor hope, careless for the future, and not over-anxious for the present. The cost of living is small, as not many nor very warm garments are considered necessary, and the rice-field darkey's ideas of a wardrobe are extremely limited,