Stories of Great Americans for Little Americans - Edward Eggleston

One Little Bag of Rice

The first white people that came to this country hardly knew how to get their living here. They did not know what would grow best in this country.

Many of the white people learned to hunt. All the land was covered with trees. In the woods were many animals whose flesh was good to eat.

There were deer, and bears, and great shaggy buffaloes. There were rabbits and squirrels. And there were many kinds of birds. The hunters shot wild ducks, wild turkeys, wild geese, and pigeons. The people also caught many fishes out of the rivers.

Then there were animals with fur on their backs. The people killed these and sold their skins. In this way many made their living.

Other people spent their time in cutting down the trees. They sawed the trees into timbers and boards. Some of it they split into staves to make barrels. They sent the staves and other sorts of timber to other countries to be sold. In South Carolina men made tar and pitch out of the pine trees.

But there was a wise man in South Carolina. He was one of those men that find out better ways of doing. His name was Thomas Smith.

Thomas Smith had once lived in a large island thousands of miles away from South Carolina. In that island he had seen the people raising rice. He saw that it was planted in wet ground. He said that he would like to try it in South Carolina. But he could not get any seed rice to plant. The rice that people eat is not fit to sow.

One day a ship came to Charleston, where Thomas Smith lived. It had been driven there by storms. The ship came from the large island where Smith had seen rice grow. The captain of this ship was an old friend of Smith.

The two old friends met once more. Thomas Smith told the captain that he wanted some rice for seed. The captain called the cook of his ship, and asked him if he had any. The cook had one little bag of seed rice. The captain gave this to his friend.

There was some wet ground at the back of Smith's garden. In this wet ground he sowed some of the rice. It grew finely.

He gathered a good deal of rice in his garden that year. He gave part of this to his friends. They all sowed it. The next year there was a great deal of rice.

After a while the wet land in South Carolina was turned to rice fields. Every year many thousands of barrels of rice were sent away to be sold.

All this came from one little bag of rice and one wise man.

[Illustration] from Great Americans by Edward Eggleston

Rice Plant