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<- Previous | Table of Contents | Next -> Digital Library-Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass


I had left Master Thomas's house, and went to live
with Mr. Covey, on the 1st of January, 1833. I was
now, for the first time in my life, a field hand. In
my new employment, I found myself even more
awkward than a country boy appeared to be in a
large city. I had been at my new home but one
week before Mr. Covey gave me a very severe whip-
ping, cutting my back, causing the blood to run,
and raising ridges on my flesh as large as my little finger.
The details of this affair are as follows: Mr. Covey
sent me, very early in the morning of one of our
coldest days in the month of January, to the woods,
to get a load of wood. He gave me a team of un-
broken oxen. He told me which was the in-hand ox,
and which the off-hand one. He then tied the end
of a large rope around the horns of the in-hand ox,
and gave me the other end of it, and told me, if
the oxen started to run, that I must hold on upon
the rope. I had never driven oxen before, and of
course I was very awkward. I, however, succeeded in
getting to the edge of the woods with little diffi-
culty; but I had got a very few rods into the woods,
when the oxen took fright, and started full tilt, carry-
ing the cart against trees, and over stumps, in the
most frightful manner. I expected every moment
that my brains would be dashed out against the
trees. After running thus for a considerable dis-
tance, they finally upset the cart, dashing it with
great force against a tree, and threw themselves into
a dense thicket. How I escaped death, I do not
know. There I was, entirely alone, in a thick wood,
in a place new to me. My cart was upset and shat-
tered, my oxen were entangled among the young
trees, and there was none to help me. After a long
spell of effort, I succeeded in getting my cart righted,
my oxen disentangled, and again yoked to the cart.

I now proceeded with my team to the place where
I had, the day before, been chopping wood, and
loaded my cart pretty heavily, thinking in this way
to tame my oxen. I then proceeded on my way
home. I had now consumed one half of the day. I
got out of the woods safely, and now felt out of
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