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[92] such conspicuousness. In this part of Virginia, a very common tree is the persimmon, whose wood and foliage resemble the wild black cherry, but whose double-stoned fruit bears a close exterior likeness to the red horse-plums which abound in northern New England. These persimmon plums, when ripe before the frost, are red, sweet, puckery, and unpleasant to the taste, suggesting choke cherries. But after the frost, the outer skin has a bluish cast, and they are delicious; no fig or date can equal them. On this forenoon in question, the persimmon trees in the fields lying over the brow of the range of hills about Belle Plain, hung full of fruit, looking at a little distance like nut-trees with a wealth of nuts ungathered. It is said, ‘the longest pole rakes the persimmon,’ but the boys, having no poles at hand, climbed the trees and shook a shower of plums into the snow; there was a general feast of them. Hearing cries as of lamentation in a hut which we were passing on our way to the camp, we peeped in and found a dejected-looking, gray-haired old negro, and a mulatto girl perhaps eighteen years old, who were bewailing the loss of bedding and other household indispensables which some miscreant in the absence of the inmates had stolen. ‘Oh, dear! what will de old woman done, when she find de bed gone? I dunno!’ The fireplace was empty, but for a few cold ashes; the bare walls, which were of logs chinked with clay, looked dreary enough. ‘I never saw such a picture of extreme poverty,’ said Comrade L., and surely the scene was calculated to impress one with the force of the adage, ‘One half of the world knows not how the other half lives.’ Try to conceive of a log hut, perhaps fifteen by eighteen, with a diminutive L or wing built of the same material, and plastered with clay for a fireplace and a chimney; the cracks between the logs pointed with clay; the floor, if there be any, of the loft between the gables and under the roof, of poles or logs; a scuttle in this floor reached by a rude ladder; the log roof of the cabin thatched with a coarse grass; and you have an approximate notion of an abode of a free negro or a buckrah in ante bellum days in those sections where either genus was indigenous.

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