184 SLAVE LIFE IN GEORGIA.
thumb. If the leaf breaks, it is ripe, and then
comes gathering time.
The plant is now7 slit down the stalk, close to
the ground, with a long knife, fashioned like a
chase-knife, and then cut off. It is then set butt
upwards, and left to wither, when it is picked up,
thrown across the arm, carried to a pile, and
laid flat. Here it remains until it has heated.
It is next shaken and hung on a tobacco-scaffold-
This is formed of sticks about eight feet long,
driven into the ground. The upper end of them is
crotched, or forked, and smaller sticks are laid in
them. Across these the tobacco i« hung, the cleft
in the plant keeping it fast, and the leaves hang¬
ing downwards, the tips of them being about five
feet from the ground. When the plant is first
gathered it is as green as a cabbage, and has to be
left on the scaffold until it turns brow7n. Should
it "cure green," afire is made underneath the
scaffold, which is kept burning until the leaves
dry, and are ready to crumble to pieces when
touched. As soon as any signs of damp appear
an the atmosphere, the tobacco is gathered and
put into barns. Here all the slaves set to—chil¬
dren and all—pulling the leaves off the stalks,
and tying them up into bundles, called " hands,''