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


danger. I stopped my oxen to open the woods gate;
and just as I did so, before I could get hold of my
ox-rope, the oxen again started, rushed through the
gate, catching it between the wheel and the body of
the cart, tearing it to pieces, and coming within a
few inches of crushing me against the gate-post. Thus
twice, in one short day, I escaped death by the
merest chance. On my return, I told Mr. Covey
what had happened, and how it happened. He or-
dered me to return to the woods again immediately.

I did so, and he followed on after me. Just as I got
into the woods, he came up and told me to stop my
cart, and that he would teach me how to trifle away
my time, and break gates. He then went to a large
gum-tree, and with his axe cut three large switches,
and, after trimming them up neatly with his pocket-
knife, he ordered me to take off my clothes. I made
him no answer, but stood with my clothes on. He
repeated his order. I still made him no answer, nor
did I move to strip myself. Upon this he rushed
at me with the fierceness of a tiger, tore off my
clothes, and lashed me till he had worn out his
switches, cutting me so savagely as to leave the marks
visible for a long time after. This whipping was the
first of a number just like it, and for similar of-
fences.

I lived with Mr. Covey one year. During the first
six months, of that year, scarce a week passed with-
out his whipping me. I was seldom free from a sore
back. My awkwardness was almost always his ex-
cuse for whipping me. We were worked fully up
to the point of endurance. Long before day we were
up, our horses fed, and by the first approach of day
we were off to the field with our hoes and plough-
ing teams. Mr. Covey gave us enough to eat, but
scarce time to eat it. We were often less than five
minutes taking our meals. We were often in the field
from the first approach of day till its last lingering
ray had left us; and at saving-fodder time, midnight
often caught us in the field binding blades.

Covey would be out with us. The way he used to
stand it, was this. He would spend the most of his
afternoons in bed. He would then come out fresh
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PinkMonkey.com Digital Library-Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass



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