Mr. Perkes was becoming an expensive man: a most sagacious and tractable elephant was now added to his list of victims; and he had the satisfaction of knowing that he was one of the few men in the world who had ridden an elephant to death.
That afternoon, Mr. Perkes was being wheeled about the bazaar in a wheelbarrow, insensibly drunk, by a brother emigrant, who was also considerably elevated. Perkes had at some former time lost an eye by the kick of a horse, and to conceal the disfigurement he wore a black patch, which gave him very much the expression of a bull terrier with a similar mark. Notwithstanding this disadvantage in appearance, he was perpetually making successful love to the maidservants, and he was altogether the most incorrigible scamp that I ever met with, although I must do him the justice to say he was thoroughly honest and industrious.
I shortly experienced great trouble with the emigrants; they could not agree with the bailiff, and openly defied his authority. I was obliged to send two of them to jail as an example to the others. This produced the desired effect, and we shortly got regularly to work.
There were now about a hundred and fifty natives employed in the tedious process of exterminating jungle and forest, not felling, but regularly digging out every tree and root, then piling, and burning the mass, and leveling the cleared land in a state to receive the plough. This was very expensive work, amounting to about thirty pounds per acre. The root of a large tree would frequently occupy three men a couple of days in its extraction, which, at the rate of wages, at one shilling per diem, was very costly. The land thus cleared was a light sandy loam, about eighteen inches in depth with a gravel subsoil, and was considered to be far superior to the patina (or natural grass-land) soil, which was, in appearance, black loam on the higher ground and of a peaty nature in the swamps.
The bailiff (Mr. Fowler) was of opinion that the patina soil was the best; therefore, while the large native force was engaged in sweeping the forest from the surface, operations were commenced according to agricultural rules upon the patinas.
A tract of land known as the "Moon Plains," comprising about two hundred acres, was immediately commenced upon. As some persons considered the settlement at Newera Ellia the idea of a lunatic, the "Moon Plain" was an appropriate spot for the experiment. A tolerably level field of twenty acres was fenced in, and the work begun by firing the patina and burning off all the grass. Then came three teams, as follows:
Lord Ducie's patent cultivator, drawn by an elephant; a skim, drawn by another elephant, and a long wood plough, drawn by eight bullocks.
The field being divided into three sections, was thus quickly pared of the turf, the patent cultivator working admirably, and easily drawn by the elephant.