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CANDLES OR RUSHLIGHTS
TO provide lights for ourselves, now that the evenings
were grown longer, was a much more difficult task than to
cook without proper conveniences, for it cost considerable
labor. We had our choice between the candle-wood, as the
pitch pine is called, or rushlights, which last are made by
stripping the outer bark from common rushes, thus leaving the
pith bare; then dipping these in tallow, or grease, and
allowing them to harden.
In such manner did we get makeshifts
for candles, neither pleasing to the eye nor affording very
much in the way of light; yet they served in a certain degree
to dispel the darkness when by reason of storm we were shut in
the dwellings, and made the inside of the house very nearly
cheerful in appearance.
To get the tallow or grease with which to make these
we saved the fat of the deer, or the bear, or even a portion of
the grease from turkeys, and, having gathered sufficient for
the candle making, mixed them all in one pot for melting.
The task of gathering the candle-wood was more pleasing, and
yet oftentimes had in it more of work, for it was the knots
of the trees which gave the better light, and we might readily
fasten them upon an iron skewer, or rod, which was driven into
the side of the house for such purpose.
Some of our people, who were too lazy to search for knots,
split the wood into small sticks, each about the size of a
goose quill, and, standing three or four in a vessel filled
with sand, gained as much in the way of light as might be had
from one pine knot.
Of course, those who were overly particular, would find fault
with the smoke from this candle-wood, and complain of the tar
which oozed from it; but one who lives in the wilderness must
not expect to have all the luxuries that can be procured in London.