174 SLAVE LIFE IN GEORGIA.
what are called the "baulks," or hard ground,
between the drills, as the ground must be kept
open to admit moisture and air, without which
the young plants would shrivel up and die.
The cotton plant does not begin to grow very
fast until the roots strike the sub-soil, which they
do in about three weeks or a month. Meanwhile,
all hands—men, women, and children—have to
thin out the plants by hand-picking, a most
painful process, because of the constant stooping.
They are compelled to go across a thirty, forty, or
fifty acre field without straightening themselves
one minute, and with the burning sun striking
their head and back, and the heat reflected upwards
from the soil into their faces. It will take a good
hand, from an hour to an hour and a half, to hand-
pick such a row. The next thing done is to hoe
up the ground close to the roots, and hoe out the
grass and weeds. The overseer, or " nigger-
driver," or the master himself sometimes, goes
round to see that this is properly done; and for
every sprig of grass or stray weed that has been
left in the row which has been thus "dressed,"
the slave who has left it gets a flogging more or
less severe. The hands usually go into the field
at five in the morning, and work till twelve,