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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 122 pages of information about Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass.
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 difficulty; but I had got a very few rods into the woods, when the oxen took fright, and started full tilt, carrying 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 distance, 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 shattered, 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 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 ordered 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 pocketknife, 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 offences.

I lived with Mr. Covey one year.  During the first six months, of that year, scarce a week passed without his whipping me.  I was seldom free from a sore back.  My awkwardness was almost always his excuse 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 ploughing 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.

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