Page:Life and Times of Frederick Douglass (1892).djvu/239

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CHAPTER XXI.

ESCAPE FROM SLAVERY.

Closing incidents in my "Life as a Slave"—Discontent—Suspicions—Master's generosity—Difficulties in the way of escape—Plan to obtain money—Allowed to hire my time—A gleam of hope—Attend camp-meeting—Anger of Master Hugh—The result—Plans of Escape—Day for departure fixed—Harrassing doubts and fears—Painful thoughts of separation from friends.

MY condition during the year of my escape (1838) was comparatively a free and easy one, so far, at least, as the wants of the physical man were concerned; but the reader will bear in mind that my troubles from the beginning had been less physical than mental, and he will thus be prepared to find that slave life was adding nothing to its charms for me as I grew older, and became more and more acquainted with it. The practice of openly robbing me, from week to week, of all my earnings, kept the nature and character of slavery constantly before me. I could be robbed by indirection, but this was too open and barefaced to be endured. I could see no reason why I should, at the end of each week, pour the reward of my honest toil into the purse of my master. My obligation to do this vexed me, and the manner in which Master Hugh received my wages vexed me yet more. Carefully counting the money, and rolling it out dollar by dollar, he would look me in the face, as if he would search my heart as well as my pocket, and reproachfully ask me, "Is that all?"—implying that I had perhaps kept back part of my wages; or, if not so, the demand was made possibly to make me feel that after all, I was an "unprofitable servant." Draining me of the last cent