Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 46.djvu/674

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into pieces about two inches square and laid out to dry. The drying house was made of logs so arranged as to allow free access of air without exposure to the sun, "which was very pernicious to the dye"; as indigo, if placed in the sun, "in a few hours would be burnt up to a perfect cinder" While in the drying house the indigo was carefully turned three or four times a day to prevent it from "rotting." Care was also taken to keep away flies, since "at this season of the year they are hatched in millions and infect an indigo plantation like a plague." Care was also necessary that the indigo should be sufficiently dry before being packed, lest after it was headed up in barrels it should "sweat" and so become spoiled for the market. In packing the indigo the lumps were brushed to make them look as bright as possible.

While the indigo was curing it had an offensive smell, and we read that "as the dregs of the weed are full of salts and make excellent manure they should be immediately buried underground when brought out of the 'steeper.'"

The season for making indigo in Carolina ended with the beginning of frosty weather, and the planters brought their indigo to market about the end of the year. The merchants judged of its quality by breaking it and observing the closeness of the grain and the brilliant copper or violet-blue color. The weight also showed the quality, for heavy indigo of every color was always bad. Fire afforded another test, as good indigo was almost entirely consumed, but the bad would leave a quantity of ashes.

Probably these numerous details in the process were abbreviated by many of the indigo-makers. But there were many grades of professional reputation among indigo planters, dependent on the nicety of their work.

In addition to the risks attending the manufacture of indigo, there were others connected with the growth of the crop. Du Bose writes: "The great enemy of the crop was the grasshopper, which would sometimes destroy the crop in a few days. The best remedy against this enemy was chickens. I recollect that my father was in the habit every year of sending into the swamp fields several hundred chickens. Movable coops were furnished for their accommodation by night, but no food. Nor did they require any so long as the grasshopper infested the fields. Those who could not use chickens suffered the margins of their fields to grow up to grass. The grasshoppers, driven from the fields with whipping brushes, would alight in the grass, which was then fired."

The indigo for exportation was brought into Charles-Town in wagons, and the owners received the proceeds in the form of Spanish silver coin, which composed almost the entire currency before the Bank of the State was established in 1812. It was a