SKETCHES BY THE WAY
I T was a big river, below Memphis; banks brimming full, everywhere, and very frequently more than full, the waters pouring out over the land, flooding the woods and fields for miles into the interior; and in places to a depth of fifteen feet; signs all about of men's hard work gone to ruin, and all to be done over again, with straitened means and a weakened courage. A melancholy picture, and a continuous one; hundreds of miles of it. Sometimes the beacon lights stood in water three feet deep, in the edge of dense forests which extended for miles Without farm, wood-yard, clearing, or break of any kind; which meant that the keeper of the light must come in a skiff a great distance to discharge his trust --and often in desperate weather. Yet I was told that the work is faithfully performed, in all weathers; and not always by men--sometimes by women, if the man is sick or absent. The government furnishes oil, and pays ten or fifteen dollars a month for the lighting and tending. A government boat distributes oil and pays wages once a month.
The Ship Island region was as woodsy and tenantless as ever. The island has ceased to be an island; has joined itself compactly to the main shore, and