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to be completed, and the dry season, or time for drawing down the logs from the place of their growth, begins.
This process can only be carried on in the months of April or May, the ground during all the rest of the year being too soft to admit of a heavily laden truck to pass over without sinking ; and although the rains usually terminate about February, yet from the ground being so soaked with rain, the roads are seldom firm enough for use till the first of April. The Mahogany-cutter's harvest
may be said to commence at this time, as the result of his season's work depends upon a continuance of the dry weather, for a single shower of rain would materially injure his roads. It is, therefore, necessary that not a moment should be lost in drawing out the wood to the river. The number of trucks worked is in proportion to the strength of the gang, and the distance commonly from six to ten miles. We will, for example, take a gang of forty men, capable of working six trucks, each of which requires seven pairs of oxen, and two drivers ; sixteen to cut food for the cattle, and twelve to load or put the logs on the carriage. The latter usually take up a temporary residence somewhere near the main body of the wood, it being too far to go and return each day to the river side, or chief establishment. From the intense heat of the sun the cattle are unable to work during its influence, consequently they are obliged to use the night-time instead of the day. The loaders, as before-mentioned, being at their, station in the forest, the trucks set off about six o'clock in the evening, and arrive at their different places of loading about eleven or twelve at night.
When the loaders, who are then asleep, are warned of the approach of the trucks by the cracking of whips carried by the cattle drivers, which are heard at a considerable distance, they arise and commence placing the logs upon the truck, which is done by means of a temporary platform laid from the edge of the truck, to a sufficient distance from the ground, so as to make an inclined plane, upon which the log is gradually pushed up from each end alternately. Having completed their work of loading all the trucks, which may be done in three hours, they again retire to rest till about nine o'clock the next morning. The drivers now set out on their return;
but this progress is greatly retarded by their lading, and although well provided with torchlight, they are frequently impeded by small stumps that remain in the road, and which could be easily avoided in the day-time; they, however, in general, are all out at the river side by eleven o'clock next morning, where, after throwing the logs into the river, having previously marked them on each end with the owner's initials, the cattle are fed, they breakfast, and retire to rest until about sunset, when they feed the cattle a second time, and yoke again.
Thus goes on the routine of trucking during the season, the loaders being employed in the interim for the return of the trucks. The process of trucking, or drawing down the Mahogany to the river, presents a most extraordinary spectacle. The six trucks often occupy an extent of road of a quarter of a mile in length; the great number of oxen, the half naked drivers (clothes being inconvenient from the heat of the weather and the clouds of dust), and each bearing a lighted torch, the wildness of the forest scenery, the rattling of chains, the sound of the whip echoing through the woods--and all this at the hour of midnight-make a singular and striking appearance.
About the end of May the periodical rain again commences; the roads are impracticable in the course of a few hours, when all the trucking ceases, the cattle are turned into pasture, and he trucks' gear, tools, &c., are housed.
The rain now pours down incessantly till about the middle of June, when the rivers swell to an immense height. The logs then float down a distance of two hundred miles, being followed by the gang in pitpans (a kind of canoe), to disengage them from the branches of the overhanging trees, until they are stopped by a boom placed in some situation convenient to the mouth of the river. Each gang then separates its own cutting by the marks on the ends of the logs, and forms them into large rafts, in which state they are drawn down to the wharves of the proprietors, where they are taken out of the water, and undergo a second process
with the axe to make the surface smooth, The ends, which are frequently split and rent by being dashed against rocks in the river, are also sawed off, when they are then ready for shipping.
The average expense of Mahogany cutting is
usually estimated at about 701. sterling per annum, each labourer, independently of the capital sunk in the purchase of the works, cattle, trucks, tools, &c.
Khaya senegalensis is the tree yielding African Mahogany, which is brought to us from Sierra Leone. The timber, though hard, is liable to warp, but it is employed where a hard and cheap wood of large size is required, as for mangles, &c. The negroes employ an infusion of the bark of this tree, which is very bitter, as a febrifuge.
Chloroxylon tabularis is a native of the mountainous parts of the Circars in the East Indies, and much larger than the American tree. It yields the beautiful East Indian satin-wood, which is of a deep yellow colour, close-grained, heavy, and durable, much resembling that of the Boxtree, The natives call it Billoo.
Chikrassia tabularis is another Indian tree, greatly admired for its beautiful wood, which is very pale-coloured, close-grained, and elegantly grained, much employed for furniture and cabinet work. The most important species, however, and that which now nearly alone constitutes the genus, is Swietenia Mahogani. The Mahogany tree is one