Zest Of Rice


India as well as in China, rice forms an important article of diet. It is eaten by rich and poor alike. Rice is a native of India, and is found growing wild in some parts of Bengal. 

It is a child of the water, but in India it is grown on every variety of soil, high on the mountainside as well as on low, marshy grounds. 

When raised at a high altitude, it requires less water than when grown in the plains, as the heat is less fierce. 

Wherever a stream trickles down the mountainside, its waters are hemmed in by embankments, thus forming little ponds or lakes. The hillsides below are terraced, and along the edge of each terrace a ledge of earth is constructed to retain the water when it is turned upon it. Through an opening in the ledge the water is conducted to the terrace below, and by this means there are often fresh, green spots on the hillsides when all around is dry and barren.

Great quantities of rice are sent from India to England, but the best Indian rice is considered inferior to the rice grown in America. Rice is said to have been first introduced into America by a bag of East Indian rice sent as a present to a Carolina merchant.

The cultivation of rice is a very simple process. Before the time for seedsowing, the ground is plowed, but only to a slight depth. It is then divided into little beds, or squares, by throwing up dykes of earth one or two feet in height. When the ground has been thus prepared, it is "flowed," and water to the depth of four or five inches is allowed to stand on the ground. The rice used as seed is kept in the husk. It is put into a bag, and the whole immersed in water until the seed swells and shows signs of sprouting. The sower then, walking through the inundated fields, scatters the seed with his hand, and it immediately sinks into the mire. In India, on low lands, the first sowing takes place between the end of March and the latter part of May. The seed quickly springs up, and the fields are soon covered with a mantle of fresh green. The spring crop ripens in about ninety days. When sown later in the season, it requires a longer time to reach maturity. Sometimes the seed is sown broadcast, and is allowed to remain where it falls. At other times it is sown thickly in beds, and transplanted when the shoots are about six inches high. Holding the seedlings in one hand, the laborer wades through the fields, sticking five or six shoots into the mud at every step. This work is usually performed by men, but I have seen women transplanting rice. Rice requires no care in weeding; for water, which is necessary to the rice, kills the grass and weeds which spring up, if the water drawn off for a time. When such enemies appear, the rice-fields are submerged; and while the rice grows on, the beautiful tall grasses that so closely resemble the rice-plant as to deceive the planter, one by one fall down and die.

When the rice ripens, it turns to a golden hue, and its rich, full heads nod to the touch of every passing breeze. A field of rice, when ready for the sickle, looks not unlike a field 

of barley. Rice is very productive, and yields sometimes sixty bushels to the acre.

When the grain is ripe, the water is turned off and the crop is cut down with sickles. It is then either stacked or trodden out by cattle, and is after- ward preserved in pits or wells lined with rice-straw. "Paddy" is the name given to rice before it is separated from the husk. Rice will keep fresh much longer when left in the husk, and in this condition it is shipped to England. Between the husk and the grain is a thick, mealy coating, which makes excellent food for animals. 

The rice-straw is used for fodder, and the hard, brittle chaff is not without its uses.

The husk of the rice adheres very closely to the grain. In America the work of separating the grain from the husk is performed by machinery, but in India it is done by manual labor. 

The very poor buy the paddy and themselves prepare it for use.

In Cashmere, when traveling on the lakes or rivers, whenever the boat stopped for the night or for a few hours during the day, the women improved the time in preparing their rice. The paddy was thrown into a large wooden vessel like a huge mortar, and the husk and grain were separated by being beaten with heavy wooden pestles. Two women usually stood opposite each other, each with a wooden pestle in her hand and the mortar between them. Though the work was evidently very laborious, it was always cheerfully done, and the tedium, of the toil relieved by lively chat or snatches of song. 

Helen H. Holcomb.


I HAVE heard that in the deserts, when the caravans are in want of water, they are accustomed to send on a camel, with his rider, some distance in advance; then, after a little space, Follows another. As soon as the first man finds water, almost before he stoops down to drink, he shouts aloud, 'Come!" The next one, hearing the voice, repeats the word, "Come!" while the nearest again takes up the cry, "Come!" until the whole wilderness echoes with the word "Come;" 

So in that verse, the Spirit and the bride say, first of all, "Come!" and then let him that heareth say, "Come!" And whosoever is athirst, let him come, and take of the water of life freely.