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The Coconut Grower Philippine Islands 244

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THE COCONUT GROWER (PHILIPPINE ISLANDS) 244. Work in the coconut grove.— Thump-thump-thump, thump! It was the sound of coconuts. big and heavy, falling from the palm trees. All night they fell, as the storm wind blew. Emilio was glad he was not out there under his trees, for a falling coconut sometimes kills a man.

Emilio lives on the island of Luzon, one of the Philippine Islands, in the west ern part of the Pacific Ocean near Asia. (See Figs. 40 and 251.) He is a Malay, a brown man. His hair is straight and black. He speaks a little Spanish and he has a Spanish name, because the Spanish people once ruled his island. For a month before the storm, Emilio had done nothing but swim, fish, paddle about in his canoe, and swing in a hammock. Maria, his wife, had been keeping the weeds away from their twenty banana plants, and from the sweet potatoes, peppers, and climbing beans that grew in their little garden. She also kept tight the stick fence around the garden, so that the pigs couldn't get in and root up the potatoes. The pigs had to hunt in the woods to get their meals of roots, worms, and nuts. Maria fed them just enough to keep them in the habit of coming back home, else they would have become wild pigs of the forest.

The morning after the storm, Emilio and Maria called the boys, Juan and Garcia, aged fifteen and thirteen, and their sister Isabel, and the family went to work pick ing up coconuts. Some of the coco nuts had lain in the grass for a month, ever since the last storm; but they were still good; coconuts have thick husks and hard shells that pro tect the inside of the fruit. Work began at dawn and stopped at eight o'clock in the morning, for it is hot in the Philippine Islands.

Then came a big breakfast of fish and sweet potatoes; after wards everybody took a long nap. At four o'clock, after a lunch of bananas, they went to work again. By dusk there were two thousand coconuts in a pile by a shed in the middle of the grove.

The next day the coconuts were husked and split open with a long, sharp, heavy knife, and the meat was pulled out—two pieces from each nut. These pieces Isabel spread out on wooden trays in the hot sun to dry. In the evening the trays were

carried into the shed to keep the dew from the nuts. Each morning they were put out in the sun again. One day it rained suddenly, and there was a great scramble to get the coconut meats into the shed so that they would not get wet. At the end of a week they were dry, and ready to sell under the trade name of copra.

245. Going to one day Emilio and Juan pushed a wooden canoe out of the bushes on the bank of the creek, put into it two hundred pounds of copra, and paddled down stream. In two hours they reached the mouth of the creek, which flowed into a safe little bay. Into this little bay, sea-going beats can easily come. Once a month there comes to this bay a little steamboat, on its way from Manila to Iloilo. It anchors near the mouth of the creek, and all day long row-boats and canoes are busily carrying things back and forth between the steamer and the little town upon the shore. Boxes, bundles, and sacks go ashore to the stores of the Chinese merchants, who do all the trading in the town. Some of these boxes, bundles, and sacks come from England and France, some come from India and Japan, many of them come from the United States. If we could open those packages and read the names on the boxes and cans, we should see many American names that we know— names of southern cities that make cotton cloth, and of New England cities that make knives, needles, and thread.

Canoes carry to the steamer many sacks of copra, and also bundles of manila hemp. This hemp is a long, strong fiber that is made into the best of rope at factories in Chicago, Philadelphia, and Boston.

One of Emilio's neighbors, Romulo, grows hemp to sell. He takes the long, pithy stalks of a plant that looks like the banana plant, and scrapes them with a knife. He takes off the soft pith and skin, and leaves the hard, strong fibers. (Fig. 264.) In addition to the copra and hemp which were to go by the steamer to Manila, were a few bundles of tobacco and four fat water buffaloes for the meat market. These big animals are the Philippine cattle.

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