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


hearted woman; and in the simplicity of her soul she
commenced, when I first went to live with her, to
treat me as she supposed one human being ought
to treat another. In entering upon the duties of a
slaveholder, she did not seem to perceive that I sus-
tained to her the relation of a mere chattel, and
that for her to treat me as a human being was not
only wrong, but dangerously so. Slavery proved as
injurious to her as it did to me. When I went there,
she was a pious, warm, and tender-hearted woman.
There was no sorrow or suffering for which she had
not a tear. She had bread for the hungry, clothes for
the naked, and comfort for every mourner that came
within her reach. Slavery soon proved its ability to
divest her of these heavenly qualities. Under its in-
fluence, the tender heart became stone, and the
lamblike disposition gave way to one of tiger-like
fierceness. The first step in her downward course was
in her ceasing to instruct me. She now commenced
to practise her husband's precepts. She finally be-
came even more violent in her opposition than her
husband himself. She was not satisfied with simply
doing as well as he had commanded; she seemed
anxious to do better. Nothing seemed to make her
more angry than to see me with a newspaper. She
seemed to think that here lay the danger. I have had
her rush at me with a face made all up of fury, and
snatch from me a newspaper, in a manner that fully
revealed her apprehension. She was an apt woman;
and a little experience soon demonstrated, to her
satisfaction, that education and slavery were incom-
patible with each other.

From this time I was most narrowly watched. If I
was in a separate room any considerable length of
time, I was sure to be suspected of having a book,
and was at once called to give an account of myself.
All this, however, was too late. The first step had
been taken. Mistress, in teaching me the alphabet,
had given me the ~inch,~ and no precaution could pre-
vent me from taking the ~ell.~

The plan which I adopted, and the one by which
I was most successful, was that of making friends of
all the little white boys whom I met in the street.
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PinkMonkey.com Digital Library-Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass



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