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PinkMonkey.com Digital Library-Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass


with festering sores, caused by the lash of her cruel
mistress. I do not know that her master ever whipped
her, but I have been an eye-witness to the cruelty of
Mrs. Hamilton. I used to be in Mr. Hamilton's house
nearly every day. Mrs. Hamilton used to sit in a large
chair in the middle of the room, with a heavy cow-
skin always by her side, and scarce an hour passed
during the day but was marked by the blood of one
of these slaves. The girls seldom passed her without
her saying, "Move faster, you ~black gip!~" at the same
time giving them a blow with the cowskin over the
head or shoulders, often drawing the blood. She
would then say, "Take that, you ~black gip!~" con-
tinuing, "If you don't move faster, I'll move you!"
Added to the cruel lashings to which these slaves
were subjected, they were kept nearly half-starved.
They seldom knew what it was to eat a full meal.

I have seen Mary contending with the pigs for the
offal thrown into the street. So much was Mary
kicked and cut to pieces, that she was oftener called
"~pecked~" than by her name.

CHAPTER VII

I lived in Master Hugh's family about seven years.
During this time, I succeeded in learning to read and
write. In accomplishing this, I was compelled to re-
sort to various stratagems. I had no regular teacher.
My mistress, who had kindly commenced to instruct
me, had, in compliance with the advice and direc-
tion of her husband, not only ceased to instruct, but
had set her face against my being instructed by any
one else. It is due, however, to my mistress to say
of her, that she did not adopt this course of treat-
ment immediately. She at first lacked the depravity
indispensable to shutting me up in mental darkness.
It was at least necessary for her to have some training
in the exercise of irresponsible power, to make her
equal to the task of treating me as though I were
a brute.

My mistress was, as I have said, a kind and tender-
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PinkMonkey.com Digital Library-Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass



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