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Chapter 2

_Removed from My First Home_


That mysterious individual referred to in the first chapter as an
object of terror among the inhabitants of our little cabin, under
the ominous title of "old master," was really a man of some
consequence. He owned several farms in Tuckahoe; was the chief
clerk and butler on the home plantation of Col. Edward Lloyd; had
overseers on his own farms; and gave directions to overseers on
the farms belonging to Col. Lloyd. This plantation is situated
on Wye river--the river receiving its name, doubtless, from
Wales, where the Lloyds originated. They (the Lloyds) are an old
and honored family in Maryland, exceedingly wealthy. The home
plantation, where they have resided, perhaps for a century or
more, is one of the largest, most fertile, and best appointed, in
the state.

About this plantation, and about that queer old master--who must
be something more than a man, and something worse than an angel--
the reader will easily imagine that I was not only curious, but
eager, to know all that could be known. Unhappily for me,
however, all the information I could get concerning him increased
my great dread of being carried thither--of being <34>separated
from and deprived of the protection of my grandmother and
grandfather. It was, evidently, a great thing to go to Col.
Lloyd's; and I was not without a little curiosity to see the
place; but no amount of coaxing could induce in me the wish to
remain there. The fact is, such was my dread of leaving the
little cabin, that I wished to remain little forever, for I knew
the taller I grew the shorter my stay. The old cabin, with its
rail floor and rail bedsteads upstairs, and its clay floor
downstairs, and its dirt chimney, and windowless sides, and that
most curious piece of workmanship dug in front of the fireplace,
beneath which grandmammy placed the sweet potatoes to keep them
from the frost, was MY HOME--the only home I ever had; and I
loved it, and all connected with it. The old fences around it,
and the stumps in the edge of the woods near it, and the
squirrels that ran, skipped, and played upon them, were objects
of interest and affection. There, too, right at the side of the
hut, stood the old well, with its stately and skyward-pointing
beam, so aptly placed between the limbs of what had once been a
tree, and so nicely balanced that I could move it up and down
with only one hand, and could get a drink myself without calling
for help. Where else in the world could such a well be found,
and where could such another home be met with? Nor were these
all the attractions of the place. Down in a little valley, not
far from grandmammy's cabin, stood Mr. Lee's mill, where the
people came often in large numbers to get their corn ground. It
was a watermill; and I never shall be able to tell the many
things thought and felt, while I sat on the bank and watched that
mill, and the turning of that ponderous wheel. The mill-pond,
too, had its charms; and with my pinhook, and thread line, I
could get _nibbles_, if I could catch no fish. But, in all my
sports and plays, and in spite of them, there would,
occasionally, come the painful foreboding that I was not long to
remain there, and that I must soon be called away to the home of
old master.

I was A SLAVE--born a slave and though the fact was in <35
DEPARTURE FROM TUCKAHOE>comprehensible to me, it conveyed to my
mind a sense of my entire dependence on the will of _somebody_ I
had never seen; and, from some cause or other, I had been made to
fear this somebody above all else on earth. Born for another's
benefit, as the _firstling_ of the cabin flock I was soon to be
selected as a meet offering to the fearful and inexorable
_demigod_, whose huge image on so many occasions haunted my
childhood's imagination. When the time of my departure was
decided upon, my grandmother, knowing my fears, and in pity for
them, kindly kept me ignorant of the dreaded event about to
transpire. Up to the morning (a beautiful summer morning) when
we were to start, and, indeed, during the whole journey--a
journey which, child as I was, I remember as well as if it were
yesterday--she kept the sad fact hidden from me. This reserve
was necessary; for, could I have known all, I should have given
grandmother some trouble in getting me started. As it was, I was
helpless, and she--dear woman!--led me along by the hand,
resisting, with the reserve and solemnity of a priestess, all my
inquiring looks to the last.

The distance from Tuckahoe to Wye river--where my old master
lived--was full twelve miles, and the walk was quite a severe
test of the endurance of my young legs. The journey would have
proved too severe for me, but that my dear old grandmother--
blessings on her memory!--afforded occasional relief by "toting"
me (as Marylanders have it) on her shoulder. My grandmother,
though advanced in years--as was evident from more than one gray
hair, which peeped from between the ample and graceful folds of
her newly-ironed bandana turban--was yet a woman of power and
spirit. She was marvelously straight in figure, elastic, and
muscular. I seemed hardly to be a burden to her. She would have
"toted" me farther, but that I felt myself too much of a man to
allow it, and insisted on walking. Releasing dear grandmamma
from carrying me, did not make me altogether independent of her,
when we happened to pass through portions of the somber woods
which lay between Tuckahoe and <36>Wye river. She often found me
increasing the energy of my grip, and holding her clothing, lest
something should come out of the woods and eat me up. Several
old logs and stumps imposed upon me, and got themselves taken for
wild beasts. I could see their legs, eyes, and ears, or I could
see something like eyes, legs, and ears, till I got close enough
to them to see that the eyes were knots, washed white with rain,
and the legs were broken limbs, and the ears, only ears owing to
the point from which they were seen. Thus early I learned that
the point from which a thing is viewed is of some importance.

As the day advanced the heat increased; and it was not until the
afternoon that we reached the much dreaded end of the journey. I
found myself in the midst of a group of children of many colors;
black, brown, copper colored, and nearly white. I had not seen
so many children before. Great houses loomed up in different
directions, and a great many men and women were at work in the
fields. All this hurry, noise, and singing was very different
from the stillness of Tuckahoe. As a new comer, I was an object
of special interest; and, after laughing and yelling around me,
and playing all sorts of wild tricks, they (the children) asked
me to go out and play with them. This I refused to do,
preferring to stay with grandmamma. I could not help feeling
that our being there boded no good to me. Grandmamma looked sad.
She was soon to lose another object of affection, as she had lost
many before. I knew she was unhappy, and the shadow fell from
her brow on me, though I knew not the cause.

All suspense, however, must have an end; and the end of mine, in
this instance, was at hand. Affectionately patting me on the
head, and exhorting me to be a good boy, grandmamma told me to go
and play with the little children. "They are kin to you," said
she; "go and play with them." Among a number of cousins were
Phil, Tom, Steve, and Jerry, Nance and Betty.

Grandmother pointed out my brother PERRY, my sister SARAH, and my
sister ELIZA, who stood in the group. I had never seen <37
BROTHERS AND SISTERS>my brother nor my sisters before; and,
though I had sometimes heard of them, and felt a curious interest
in them, I really did not understand what they were to me, or I
to them. We were brothers and sisters, but what of that? Why
should they be attached to me, or I to them? Brothers and
sisters we were by blood; but _slavery_ had made us strangers. I
heard the words brother and sisters, and knew they must mean
something; but slavery had robbed these terms of their true
meaning. The experience through which I was passing, they had
passed through before. They had already been initiated into the
mysteries of old master's domicile, and they seemed to look upon
me with a certain degree of compassion; but my heart clave to my
grandmother. Think it not strange, dear reader, that so little
sympathy of feeling existed between us. The conditions of
brotherly and sisterly feeling were wanting--we had never nestled
and played together. My poor mother, like many other slave-
women, had many _children_, but NO FAMILY! The domestic hearth,
with its holy lessons and precious endearments, is abolished in
the case of a slave-mother and her children. "Little children,
love one another," are words seldom heard in a slave cabin.

I really wanted to play with my brother and sisters, but they
were strangers to me, and I was full of fear that grandmother
might leave without taking me with her. Entreated to do so,
however, and that, too, by my dear grandmother, I went to the
back part of the house, to play with them and the other children.
_Play_, however, I did not, but stood with my back against the
wall, witnessing the playing of the others. At last, while
standing there, one of the children, who had been in the kitchen,
ran up to me, in a sort of roguish glee, exclaiming, "Fed, Fed!
grandmammy gone! grandmammy gone!" I could not believe it; yet,
fearing the worst, I ran into the kitchen, to see for myself, and
found it even so. Grandmammy had indeed gone, and was now far
away, "clean" out of sight. I need not tell all that happened
now. Almost heart-broken at the discovery, I fell upon the
ground, and <38>wept a boy's bitter tears, refusing to be
comforted. My brother and sisters came around me, and said,
"Don't cry," and gave me peaches and pears, but I flung them
away, and refused all their kindly advances. I had never been
deceived before; and I felt not only grieved at parting--as I
supposed forever--with my grandmother, but indignant that a trick
had been played upon me in a matter so serious.

It was now late in the afternoon. The day had been an exciting
and wearisome one, and I knew not how or where, but I suppose I
sobbed myself to sleep. There is a healing in the angel wing of
sleep, even for the slave-boy; and its balm was never more
welcome to any wounded soul than it was to mine, the first night
I spent at the domicile of old master. The reader may be
surprised that I narrate so minutely an incident apparently so
trivial, and which must have occurred when I was not more than
seven years old; but as I wish to give a faithful history of my
experience in slavery, I cannot withhold a circumstance which, at
the time, affected me so deeply. Besides, this was, in fact, my
first introduction to the realities of slavery.

Frederick Douglass

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