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food. For whoever heard of a nigger that could build a fire without light-wood ? It would be more foolish to think of such a thing, than for a virgin to trim her lamp without oil.
I have been upon the rock-bound leeward shore, and have heard the breakers roll in thrilling tones of death—I've lashed myself to drifting wrecks, and all night long the death-cry heard—I've lain beside the hunter's fire, and till morning dawned the panther's yell rang in my ears, above the lake's wild surge of storm-lashed Michigan—I've closed my eyes in Gotham's halls, in hopes to woo a morning nap in Gotham city, when not a sound of organ-grinder filled the air with mis-named music; but just when Morpheus burst the charm, and all the earth to me was hushed and still, there, there beneath the window rose a female voice, in alto key,
“ I'm bound for Sacramento,
With my wash-bowl on my knee;"
my great regret being that she was not already in that washing town of her ambition; and failing that, that she might be washed into the most convenient horse-pond that would accommodate herself and washbowl, together with her dirty monkey, man and music.
But, still among all these horrid sounds, there is none so deathly chilling as “De light-wood am done gone, sah.”
There is no place like home, has been several times sung in this world. The chap that wrote that had never been at Sambo's home when “de light-wood am done gone,” or he would alter a line or two of that ditty to suit the times—the light of the times.
Who that has ever partaken of a sumptuous supper in the Georgia pine woods, with a thousand-dollar ebony candlestick six feet high at each corner of the table, shedding light from four light-wood candles upon the feast, that will not let his light shine upon the luxury of light-wood ? Who that has ever luxuriated around the camp fire of such a hunt as you have read of by “ Cour de Chasse,” that is not ready to swear that light-wood is one of the actual necessaries of life?
Talk to a Georgia cracker about the fertile soil of the west, or the rich gold mines of California, and the fortunes awaiting him there, and he interrupts you with an unanswerable question as an argumentative clincher why he does not emigrate, “Stranger, is light-wood tolerable handy ?". which being answered in the negative, decides the case of his emigration for ever.
• It is an historical fact that the greatest objection the Seminole Indians had against leaving Florida, was that in the Arkansas country they would find no light-wood.
You may whip, or starve, or chain a niggeror even kick his shins; but, oh! deprive him not of his light-wood, or you kill him outright.
“Long live the 'possums” might be said,
The 'coon unhunted show his head,
Why, no one that has everenjoyed the comforts, ay, the luxuries of the article.
"And what is light-wood ?" I hear whispered by some untravelled reader, who knoweth not it is a name given to the old dry wood of the long-leaf pine, which abounds in the lower part of all the southern
states, and is so full of pitch that a splinter of it will burn like a candle—rather a smoky one it is true. A more appropriate name would be torch-wood, as it is the best article for that purpose that ever grew.
It is equally valuable, and is considered, in regions where it abounds, as indispensable for kindling wood; to set a negro to build a fire when the light-wood “am done gone,” is an act of oppression almost equal to those old-time taskmasters that ordered the bricks made without straw.
You have, perhaps, seen the reason given by the “Cracker” why he located upon a certain spot, but it will bear repetition, and is an apt illustration of the love of lightwood.
A traveller came one day upon a most desolate-looking location in the sandy pine woods of Georgia, the prominent features of which were, a small field of excessively small corn, over which a thousand trunks of deadened pine trees stood sentry—a very black log cabin, with about half a chimney, doorless, floorless, windowless--the very picture of discomfort. Thrusting their long noses through a surrounding rail fence, stood half a dozen miserable long-nosed, land-pike breed of pigs, looking anxiously upon an
equal number of half-starved, half-hound curs, that were looking enviously at an equal number of white-headed, white-faced children, who were disputing over a half supply of half-roasted sweet potatoes; while “ Lord of all I survey” sat the owner upon the fence, loking the very picture of happy contentment.
Journeying in the pursuit of knowledge, the traveller thought here was a favourable opportunity to obtain that at least which would enable him to discover what could induce a human being to locate himself in such a region of desolation
He therefore accosted him politely with“Stranger, I'll thank you for a gourd of water.”
“Got none-spring's dry. Hogs been in the brook.”
“Why, I don't know how you live without water."
“ All in use. Roast taters better'n bild one—have one, stranger ?”
“No, I thank you. You have poor land here. Your corn is very small."
“Yes. Not worth planting."