In "In the Midst of Alarms" (1894) by Robert Barr, the author is describing a young boy in a Canadian village, who was smoking:
Young Hiram’s devotion to the Goddess Nicotine had never reached the altitude of a cigar. He had surreptitiously smoked a pipe in a secluded corner behind the barn in days when his father was away. He feared both his father and his mother, and so was in an even more embarrassing situation than old Hiram himself. He had worked gradually up to tobacco by smoking cigarettes of cane made from abandoned hoop-skirts. Crinoline was fashionable, even in the country, in those days, and ribs of cane were used before the metallic distenders of dresses came in. One hoop-skirt, whose usefulness as an article of adornment was gone, would furnish delight and smoking material for a company of boys for a month. The cane smoke made the tongue rather raw, but the wickedness was undeniable. Yates’ wink seemed to recognize young Hiram as a comrade worthy to offer incense at the shrine, and the boy was a firm friend of Yates from the moment the eyelid of the latter drooped.
- How could the cane be used instead of tobacco in cigarettes? And did the author mean "sugarcane" or "bamboo"?
- And what's meant by "ribs of cane", are they "the outer crust of cane"?
- What could be meant by "made the tongue rather raw"? and what's the contradiction in this statement, that made the author use "but"?