AQUASCO & MONONO
These tickets were given each day to such as deserved them. They were collected every Saturday, and proper credit given for the amount of labor performed during the week. The effect was magical. The day after the adoption of our ticket system our number of sick was reduced one-half, and we had no further trouble with pretended patients. Colburn and myself, in our new character of “doctors,” found our practice greatly diminished in consequence of our innovations. Occasionally it would happen that one who was not really able to work, would go to the field through a fear of diminished wages.
One Saturday night, a negro whom we had suspected of thievish propensities, presented eight full-day tickets as the representative of his week’s work.
“Did you earn all these this week?” I asked.
“Yes, sir,” was the reply; “Mr. Owen gave them to me. I worked every day, straight along.”
“Can you tell me on which days he gave you each ticket?”
“Oh, yes. I knows every one of them,” said the negro, his countenance expressing full belief in his ability to locate each ticket.
As I held the tickets in my hand, the negro picked them out. “Mr. Owen gave me this one Monday, this one Tuesday,” and so on, toward the end of the week. As he reached Friday, and saw three tickets remaining, when there was only another day to be accounted for, his face suddenly fell. I pretended not to notice his embarrassment.
“Which one did he give you to-day?”
There was a stammer, a hesitation, a slight attempt to explain, and then the truth came out. He had stolen the extra tickets from two fellow-laborers only a few minutes before, and had not reflected upon the difficulties of the situation. I gave him some good advice, required him to restore the stolen tickets, and promise he would not steal any more. I think he kept the promise during the remainder of his stay on the plantation, but am by no means certain.
Every day, when the weather was favorable, our work was pushed. Every mule that could be found was put at once into service, and by the 15th of April we had upward of five hundred acres plowed and ready for planting. We had planted about eighty acres of corn during the first week of April, and arranged to commence planting cotton on Monday, the 18th of the month. On the Saturday previous, the overseer on each plantation organized his planting-gangs, and placed every thing in readiness for active work.
The ground, when plowed for cotton, is thrown into a series of ridges by a process technically known as “four-furrowing.” Two furrows are turned in one direction and two in another, thus making a ridge four or five feet wide. Along the top of this ridge a “planter,” or “bull-tongue,” is drawn by a single mule, making a channel two or three inches in depth. A person carrying a bag of cotton seed follows the planter and scatters the seed into the channel. A small harrow follows, covering the seed, and the work of planting is complete.