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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 54.djvu/504

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

willingness to enter into a contract are sent down to Calcutta at the expense of the colony.

On arrival in Calcutta they are provided with free food and quarters at the emigration depot until such time as a sufficient number, are assembled to form a full passenger list for a transport. During the period of waiting, which may extend to several weeks, a careful medical inspection of the laborers is made, and all those who may be deemed unfit for the work of the estates are sent back to their homes at the expense of the colony. Prior to embarkation the coolies are called up in batches of fifteen or twenty, and the emigration agent or a local magistrate reads over to them in their own language the terms of the indenture. Each one is then given an indenture ticket on which the terms of indenture are printed in three dialects. The agent general affixes his signature to each ticket; and a special provision in the laws of British Guiana makes his signature binding on the planters who employ the coolies. The ticket thus constitutes a contract valid as against either party in the courts of the colony.

The coolies have the right to carry with them any children they may wish, and those under twelve years of age are exempt from indenture. The transportation is effected in sailing vessels, which are for the time being Government transports. The reason why steamers are not employed is that sailing vessels are found to be much healthier, and that the long sea voyage has an excellent effect on the immigrants. The regulations governing the voyage are very strict. As far as the coolies are concerned, the ship is in charge of a medical officer. The captain of the ship, the officers, and the crew are all under the command of the doctor, except in so far as the actual sailing of the vessel is in question. The vessel has ample hospital accommodation, a complete dispensary in charge of a qualified dispenser, and all the arrangements must be passed by a Government inspector before the ship is given her clearance. The food to be furnished during the voyage is specified by law. The bill of fare consists chiefly of bread, butter, rice, curry, sago, condensed milk, and fresh mutton, a number of sheep being carried on the ship.

Every morning and evening the doctor makes an inspection of the vessel, and enters in his log-book all essential details, such as births, deaths, cases treated in the hospital, and so forth.

On arrival in the colony the coolies are allotted to the different estates. The coolie is bound to remain for five years on the plantation to which he is allotted, and to work during that time five days a week, the day's work being seven hours. In return for this the planter must furnish him with a house free of rent, and built in such a way as to meet the requirements of the inspector of immi-