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
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.