My Story: Slave Girl by Patricia C. McKissack

By Patricia C. McKissack

Within the slave quarters of Virginia's cotton plantations, humans pray for freedom. Everybody's brain is on freedom. but if will it come?

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It’s not as though I need the fish in any case. I’ll be filling up with pork tonight! The bird landed heavily on a log a little way ahead. Quite a large log, in fact. As he drew nearer Mau saw that it was a whole tree, even with its roots, although a lot of its branches had been torn off. He saw the axe, tangled, rising out of the water. But part of him already knew he was going to see it. The sight of it raced towards his eyes and became, just for a moment, the centre of the turning world. The grandfather bird, having juggled the fish so that it could swallow it whole, took off in its gloomy is-thisreally-worth-it way and flapped away with its big, slow wings nearly touching the scummy water.

Take one strip of the vine lengthwise and yes, it needs the strength of two men to pull it apart. But weave five strands of it into a rope and a hundred men can’t break it. The more they pull, the more it binds together and the stronger it becomes. ’ They used to laugh at him behind his back because of his wobbling walk, and didn’t pay much attention to him, because what could a man with a twisted leg know about anything important? But they made sure that when they laughed they were well behind his back, because Nawi always had a faint little smile and an expression that said he already knew far more about you than you could possibly guess.

Yes, that was it! It made sense! He was dead! And his spirit had come back home, but he couldn’t see out of the spirit world! He was a ghost. His body was on the Boys’ Island, yes! And the wave had not been real, it had been Locaha, coming for him. It all made sense. He’d died on land with no one to put him into the dark water, and he was a ghost, a wandering thing, and the people were all around him, in the land of the living. 42 Nation 26/6/08 16:43 Page 43 THE NEW WORLD It seemed to Mau that this was not too bad.

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