IN September and early October, when thousands of men and women and boys and girls are busy gathering the ripened clusters of flowers, nothing can be more beautiful than a Kentish hop-ground.

The hop-vine has a great many enemies-- There is the "hop fly," and the "hop flea," "and the "red spider," and the "otter moth," and great green long-winged flies, and the "honey dew," and the "mold;" and any of these uninvited guests may any day sit down and make a feast on these delicate plants that will cost the Kentish hop- growers more than a million of pounds sterling!

From the first planting to the gathering in of this beautiful and valuable crop, it needs a constant watch-care.

Hops are trained on ash poles, which stand in groups of three or four about six or seven feet apart; but the young stems, or bines, as they are called, do not take at first very readily to the poles; so they have to be tied to them with dried rushes until they are four or five feet in height; then they cling to the tall poles and curl around them and run up so rapidly that they sometimes grow an inch in less than an hour!

Soon the lovely leaves and bines and tendrils are at the top of the twenty-foot poles, and looping and festooning themselves from pole to pole until acres and acres of these luxuriant hop-gardens are a perfect bower of beauty.

When September comes, it is a pretty sight to see the men and women, boys and girls, of all ages, factory girls and fishermen's boys, everybody out of employment, thronging the roads to the hop-gardens.

These merry pickers may be heard laughing, singing, and chatting, in the green arbors and narrow lanes of the gardens, while their fingers are busy picking the flowers from the bines which the hop-cutter with his "hop-dog" (an instrument with a knife on one side and a hook on the other) has cut down and hooked up-pole and all and laid across the canvas bin, holding many bushels, stretched upon a wooden frame, into which the flowers are dropped.

After picking, the hops are taken to the "oast-houses" to be dried. These drying places are generally built of brick, fourteen or fifteen feet high, perfectly circular in for in, looking like a little round tower; on the top of this is a cone, and on top of that a cowled chimney, which people who have been to Egypt say looks just like the "air-fans" that they have on their houses in that far-off country.

In the lower part of the oast-hquse, in the middle of the small round chamber, is the furnace, in which burns a bright fire of coke and charcoal; and into this, every little while, rolls of brimstone are thrown; this is to give a livelier color to the hops.

Over the furnace, on a circular floor of strong wire netting, and covered with coarse hair-cloth, through which the warm air comes up, the hop flowers lie two or three feet in depth; and here a man watches them day and night, turning them over and burying his arms in them every now and then, and when he feels them to be just dry enough, and not too dry, they are shoveled on to the cooling floor close by, and here the hops are tightly pressed into "pockets," coarse or fine, according to their quality.

Then the excise officer comes and weighs and numbers and marks each pocket, and last of all makes a black cross upon the seam at the mouth of the pocket.

This is called "sealing" the pocket; and then comes the "duty" to be paid on this precious crop, which has had constant care and watching from February till October.  Near Maidstone is the pretty little village of East Farleigh, where many years ago lived James Ellie, who, I think, might be called the "King of Hop Growers," for his hop-poles alone were worth £70,000! 

Youth's Companion.

We do not want to use the hops for making alcoholic drinks but when the hops are freshly picked they make a good healthful tea.