April 23rd, 1866.—Father is looking better than he has for a year past. After the negroes left us in January, he concluded not to plant a crop of any kind but simply use his broad acres for pasture. He has a very large herd of cattle and a vast number of hogs, and these continue to increase. Though the number is often cut down by the freedmen, who lose no opportunity to help themselves, there are enough left to make quite a show. When the year 1865 ended Sergeant Cornell and Private Hibell were recalled by General Foster and I rather dreaded for Father, in his state of health, to have to struggle with plantation life. I see now I need not have feared for him.
Once having made up his mind as to the best course to pursue he is perfectly content; he has always been a student and he finds great pleasure in study. He also likes us to listen, in his leisure hours, while he tells us of his researches. This is very improving and, what I like even better, are the arguments carried on in his library. When men of bright minds get together it is a treat to listen. We go to ride every morning in Father’s big, old-fashioned buggy. He taught me to drive long ago and I enjoy it.
Colonel Wyatt Aiken was here a few days ago and he drove over all three plantations with Father. He is preparing to bring out a new farming magazine, “The Rural Carolinian,” and is gathering all available material. I wish he had been here when Dr. Caldwell spent the night with us. I learned from hearing him talking to Father what causes the difference between the white and the black races. Father, being a physician, knew it but he had not thought best to tell me. I am no longer a child, however, and while I have not exactly “laid aside childish things,” I take a deep interest in scientific investigation. I came near going to sleep over some statistics Colonel Wyatt gave us relating to soils and fertilizers.