Chapter 11: Hop Picking in Kent
Now I heard from the Tramps that if I went to Kent, I would get a chance of Hop Picking. So I wended my way Southward, through Hampshire and Wiltshire, and so got to Farnham in Surrey, where I got my first Job at Hop picking . When I was done there, I went to Tunbridge and another Job.
There, at Hop picking, I got rid of my Lame Foot, for, in standing on the Moist Ground all Day, the Wound in my Heel Healed up. Now, I will relate how I fared on the Hop field. The Price for picking the hops was, where I worked three Half Pence for what they called a Measure, which was a Half hundred wt Spelt Basket , that is, it would hold half cwt of Coals, which would be measured out for you out of your Bring at Night. For every Measure you would get a Brass Cheek, for which you would get Paid at night, for Hop pickers cannot give Credit. When we got our pay, we would go to the Village Shop and buy potatoes, Salt, and Pepper (that is, my Chum and myself, for you work in Pairs, one at each side of the Bring). When we got back to the Field we would Boil our Potatoes and , as a rule with us two, we would snatch a Turnip or two out of the Field and Boil them also and mash Turnips and potatoes together with Salt and Pepper. That, and a piece of Bread, would make our Supper. And then to Bed.
Our Bed Room was a Barn in which the Farmer allowed us to Sleep and lent us a sack apiece to Cover us. My manner of going to Bed was to strip entirely Naked, jump into the Sack and so go to sleep. If it was a bit cold, I was not troubled with insects during the Night. When Hop picking was over I had saved enough money to buy a Pair of second-hand Shoes, thinking to return to Chatham something like decent when Hop picking was over. In going through Maidstone I bought the aforesaid shoes and stockings. When I got away from Maidstone, which was about 7 miles from Chatham, where I was going I thought:
"Now you have got a pair of shoes and stockings to make yourself as decent as you can." So, going along I spied out a Clear running Stream where I could have a good wash. First, I pulled off my shirt and washed that and hanged it on a tree, then my Trousers, and hanged them also on a Tree. Then I went into the Water and washed myself all over. I rubbed myself all over with some blue Unction, which I had bought at Maidstone to drive away the animals out of my Jacket. I had to sit about and walk about Naked till my shirt and trousers were dry as nearly dry. Then I put on my Clothes and felt rather Funny with shoes and stockings on.