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March, the colder months, when conditions compel it to take on a thick skin for warm covering. The sap then runs less freely through the tree, and the sun's rays are not sufficiently ardent fully to distil the sugar in the fruit, hence the fruit is comparatively dry and flavorless. On the other hand, in Florida, the fruit, ripening in November and December, has the full benefit of maturing during the summer's ardent sun, the sap flows far more freely, and the orange wears its thinnest clothing; hence is it the sweetest, thinnest-skinned, highest flavored, and juiciest orange in the world. Cuban, Porto Rican, Bahaman, and Mexican oranges have lately been quoted and somewhat feared as competitors, and if some of the advice so freely given by the wise experts recently sent to Cuba and Porto Rico by enterprising magazines is taken, Florida and California would soon be depopulated of its fruit-growers, who, upon reaching those West Indian paradises so glowingly described by the aforesaid wise men, would proceed to raise unsurpassed oranges by saying "Presto," or by some such easy process, — certainly not by irrigation or by the sweat of their brows.
The fact of the matter is that the stock in those countries has not been highly cultivated, and it will take years to bring it up to anywhere near the Florida standard. The further north oranges can be grown the higher is the flavor and better the stock, yet when grown above the twenty-eighth parallel — the frost-line already mentioned — they are liable to absolute ruin of crop and trees, while in the West Indies they are exposed to the ravages of the frequently recurring hurricanes of those latitudes. These facts, therefore, fully justify the claim that not
only are the oranges from about the Manatee district the best in the world, but that there is also every reason to believe that that superiority will continue.
Lemon culture in this district is still in an experimental stage. Trees are grown from Sicilian cuttings, and, the conditions being most favorable, some of the stock is superior even to the very fine parent Sicilian lemons. While it is in its infancy, so much care and study has been given to this culture that it cannot fail to become, in the course of a very few years, a most important source of revenue.
The pomelo, or grape-fruit (an original East Indian fruit introduced into the West Indies from China by Capt. Shaddock early in the eighteenth century, and thence carried up into Florida about twenty-five years ago), is growing in favor with our Northern markets, and rightly too, for to one who has learned how to eat it no more delicious, succulent, pleasing fruit was ever placed upon our tables, a food fit for the gods, wholesome and rich in medicinal qualities, an essentially tropical fruit, yet grown to perfection in this region. It is also a prolific tree, yielding, after ten and twelve years, as many as a thousand fine pomelos.
In driving through the district there may be seen strange shed-like structures, some eight feet high, and roofed over with slats about three inches wide and as far apart. These are imitation forests built to cover and delude pineapples into believing they are still in the shelter of their great native forests. Exposed to the direct rays of a hot sun this fruit becomes woody and shrivels up, but these sheds partially protect it from the sun while allowing free passage for air, dew, and light. The pineapple is a native of the South and Central
Americas and has been grown successfully grow — some of them — to eight, ten, and in Florida for the past ten years. It is now even nineteen pounds of deliciousness. a staple, though in first cost a most costly Two years ago a company was organized culture; but it is immensely profitable. which issued stock to the amount of It must be constantly watched to keep it $15,000, $10,000 of which was paid in. free from sand, bugs, and ants, and care Forty acres were put into pineapples and must be taken in cultivating it, “slipping” vegetables, and last year, as a result, the it, and removing the “suckers” or lower stockholders had $10,000 to portion off as a shoots for the next season's planting. One dividend, although not a pineapple had patch that cost its owner, for original been sold, full ripening not having taken plants, preparing the soil, and building place, the bulk of the returns being from
the slat sheds, $1,500 for one acre, may be cited as an instance of the profit in pineapples. Eighteen months -- it is a slow grower -- from the time of planting he sold $2,300 of fruit from that acre and had three “shoots from each parent plant ready and growing for the next crop on that and adjacent acres, valued at $2,500 more!
Naturally there are failures in this as in all ventures, but one cannot help wondering sometimes why people persist in investing in all kinds of wild-cat schemes that promise — but never yield — dividends of ten and fifteen per cent, when good old mother earth, for a little persuading, stands ever ready to make such bountiful returns, at least in some of her favored spots.
With another illustration of pineapple profits we may leave them in peace to
the sale of the “suckers ” or lower shoots, and the “slips” or “rattoons” from their superior pine-stock, and, of course, from the sale of their vegetables.
Other patches of land may be seen corered with cheese-cloth, a highly scientific style of farming. On the acres under these cloth coverings tobacco is being raised. Large quantities are also raised in the open, but that grown under shelter from the intense heat of the sun, from caterpillars, worms, dust, and rain, is particularly fine, a leaf without blemish, long, of splendid silky texture, equal to the finest Cuban stock. The leaf is pole-curedCuban fashion - and is specially adapted for fine “wrappers.” A thousand pounds to the acre is the yield, worth, cured and ready for market, all the way from 50 cents to $2.40 a pound.
The productiveness of this district is charges of being a boomer” and a gross well illustrated by one acre — an agricul- exaggerater. Yet if the doubting ones tural curiosity - belonging to an industri- would but make a winter trip of investigaous man who literally works the earth tion through that really wonderful country for all there is in it.” On that one-acre the charges would be changed to those of patch, and all in thrifty, splendid condi- blindness or of wilfully withholding facts. tion, he had 2,375 pineapple plants, 19 All these products find their way first orange-trees, 22 of grape-fruit, 2 lemon, to Tampa, the distributing point to the 28 guava, 5 lime, 2 royal poinciana, i Aus- markets for all that country. It is a most tralian oak, 48 bananas, 8 egg-plants, 31 interesting town of 30,000 people, nearly yams, 12 rose-bushes, 2 beds of chrysan- 7,000 of whom are Cubans, einployed themums, 4 beds of geraniums, 1 bed of mostly in its cigar factories. A busy port tube-roses, I century-plant, a sisal hemp, and enterprising town, it experienced a a cactus, and an oleander!
serious falling-off in its usually heavy imThe district is also rich in fishing grounds. port commerce during the war; but this The mullet, red-snapper, pompano, oys- loss, however, was largely made up in ters, and clams from about Sarasota Bay profits from the government, the soldiers, are all very fine, and between 3,000,000 and the visitors to the great military and 4,000,000 pounds of fish are annually camps. Essentially a commercial town shipped. The prairies also graze nearly and comparatively new, it lays no claim 75,000 head of cattle, and nearly half a to beauty, though some of its suburbs are million crates of vegetables are shipped very fine; beautiful shade-trees abound, every year, besides oranges and other and handsome residences are fast being fruits and numbers of hogs, chickens, and added to what natural charms it poseggs. In round figures the exports amount to nearly a million dollars a year, and that The waters and country all about this with a population of barely 7,000 people metropolis of southern Florida are tropic
fish from their bedroom windows and take a nap in bed between bites. But the naps will be short, though possibly sweet, for the Spanish mackerel, the trout, and the bass seem to like the hotel fare too, judging by their numbers. Ducks and pelicans are to be seen in large flocks, but these you
may not molest. You may feed them, but you must not shoot them. Think of a sportsman feeding wild ducks!
Once in a while may be seen a Seminole — and he must
not be shot at either - who
drifts into town to sell his hides and take back shirts and such thingstohis Everglade haunts. One can judge of his
wealth and A FIVE-SHIRTED SEMINOLE
among his own people by the number of shirts he wears, and they are always worn outside of his unmentionables Chinaman fashion. The Seminole Indian rigged out with
five shirts, as shown in the sketch, is a very Rockefeller in his tribe.
The “keys” or coral islands along the coast add much to the attractiveness of the picture. Egmont Key, with its lighthouse marking the entrance to Tampa Bay, is one of the principal islands, but its charms may only be viewed from a distance; it takes a special permit to enable one to land there. The government is building important fortifications and offers no welcome to visitors.
Just north of Tampa are the great phosphate grounds, and Fort Tampa is the shipping point of all that is sent away from the southern end of those grounds. At any time forty or fifty cars of phosphate may be seen on the tracks awaiting shipment, and English, German, Italian, Spanish, and even Japanese vessels are being loaded from the great bins on the docks. Tampa is the principal port of entry for the Havana line of steamers, as also for the packet-lines to New Orleans, Mobile, and Central American ports. It is a busy enterprising place—the heart, as it were, furnishing life to a healthy, thrifty young country about, whose soil, climate, and possibilities are most attractive to the casual tourist and a source of wonder to the student, and whose charms — the highest test a country can be subjected to — have not palled upon its oldest inhabitant.
AN ENVOY'S WIFE ON JAPAN*
EVER, it may safely be said, has the empire of the Mikados been more
delightfully and sympathetically written of than in the pages of the two attractive volumes from the pen of Mrs. Hugh Fraser, wife of the late British Envoy to Japan. In the book-review department of SELF CULTURE for September last we had occasion to comment on a series of tales (« The Custom of the Country”) from the same source as these Letters, which not only exhibited Mrs. Fraser's fine literary art, but her intimate acquaintance with the island empire and her hearty delight in and appreciation of its
interesting people. The collection of Letters extends over a period of three years, dating from the spring of 1889, when the author (who, by the way, is a sister of Marion Crawford, the novelist) arrived in Japan and took up her residence at the British Embassy at Tokyo. Mrs. Fraser's correspondence, in the main, leaves native politics, and even local history, out of account and is confined to descriptions of Japanese scenery and to charming narratives dealing with the character and customs of the people among whom she lived or whom she met with in the social relations of an Envoy's
** Letters from Japan: A Record of Modern Life in the Island Empire." By Mrs. Hugh Fraser, author of « Palladia,” « The Custom of the Country. Two volumes, 8vo. Illustrated. London and New York: The Macmillan Co., 1899.
wife. The delight of the volumes is great, particularly in the revelations we are permitted to get of Japanese home life and of the thoroughly human traits of a simple, artless people who, despite centuries of conservatism, but yesterday took on, and with curious eagerness have in part assimilated, Western ideas, customs, and manners. The emergence of Japan into the modern world of the Occident is, as all know, so recent that contact with European civilization has not, as yet, infected more than a small section of the empire - the section that is immediately influenced by Western commerce and diplomacy. There is therefore much left for the stranger to see and take note of in regard to the primitive manners and customs of the islanders, as well as to their characteristic occupations, habits of thought, and modes of living. Mrs. Fraser was fortunate in having unique opportunities for the varied study
« MY LITTLE Hostess "-(See page 361) of her subject, and she is happy in possessing keen powers of observation and rare gifts which enable her to describe what she saw and felt during her residence in the far East.
In her letters, no motive, the writer tells us, was followed beyond that suggested by the interests and the fancy of the moment. It is in this unstudied, vagrant mood that Mrs. Fraser depicts the "toy country and its fairy-like inhabitants, who, as she says, have set the doors of their secret shrines ajar and enabled the sympathetic foreigner to become aware of the many-sided and complex character of the people — “simple to frankness, yet full of unexpected reserves, of hidden strength, and dignities of power never flaunted before the eyes of the world. It is the mood, happily, which best suits a writer, gifted with poetic feeling and endowed with fine literary qualities, in portraying character and presenting with great vividness the play of human life, in its wondrous natural setting, which she sees about her during her three years' residence in the country. Hence the effectiveness of her prose sketches of Japan and its people and the charm which she throws over the
land, and particularly the human interest which she imparts to Japanese women in the home, where she comes sympathetically in touch with them alike
in their joys and in their griefs. The letters, we are told, came to a sudden end in the early summer of 1894, when the writer of them returned to Europe, in the shadow