on the pics for full size.
Two years have gone
by since Maria was sent back to the farm.
Then something happened which made her feel differently about her
"You asked for it yourself, stupid whore.
For me you are worth more dead than alive!"
The reward for stopping a runaway was 100 $. This was a large
amount of money for a mere guard. It sometimes happened that a guard
would fix up a false escape attempt to earn extra income,
and to get revenge on some poor girl who might have offended him.
None of these incidents were ever investigated.
"All of you,
girls! Look at this dumb wench!
She thought she could get away and be a free woman again! I
promise you none of you are ever going to be free from those
chains again! If any of you tries to, you will end up just like
this one. Understand?!"
If she didnīt know it before, Maria is now convinced, that she will
never leave the chain gangs again alive.
Her future life will be as a field slave and she has to adapt
herself to this life, if she wants to survive the years to come.
Leg irons. Now they are a part of my body. As time has gone
by, I have got accustomed to my noisy steps. I can bear the
pain in my ankles, without showing it on my face. Maybe it was
destiny that put me in these clothes and chains.
If my former comrades from the newspaper could see me now.
They are surely still trying to undermine the government in every
article. When I was there my mind was not free. Now my
ankles are chained but my mind has been freed from believing in
their flowery phrases.
I am much better for being here and smelling of sweat, than being
perfumed and with my mind filled with lies.
I have become a good
worker. I often am several steps ahead of the other girls when
hoeing the fields.
I feel the overseers
are beginning to trust me. Even though they still beat me daily,
they sometimes let me lead the horses and cart back to the nearby
small town unattended.
During the first years I
used to cry to sleep every night, in despair over my hopeless
Then one night I woke
up early. I looked around and saw the wooden walls, earthen
floor and my own chained feet with new eyes. I asked myself:
Maybe this is my genuine world? For years I had wanted to
return to freedom, but maybe I was born to be here?
One of the guards, Edward, is not as bad as the others. The other
guards wake us up by kicking us, or beating us with the lash.
Edward is different. He wakes us ten minutes before time, by
pushing us with his boot. He gives us time to wake up, before we
have to line up for the morning roll-call. Of course during
the day, he punishes us with his whip if we are lazy.
But that is only his job.
A rumor says, that his own wife and daughter are prisoners on a
chain gang on another farm.
Today I talked to a young negress called Harriet about my thoughts.
She is a Catholic, and during the short breaks she told me about her
faith. She told me that our sufferings were determined by
faith, and only belief can lighten our terrible life.
"Donīt be angry with these men, we must pity them!"
"They will go to hell of course!"
This made me think about things in a new way.
Maybe there is a purpose in why I am here.
I believe I have
finally found myself.
I have once read, that in cloisters nuns wear heavy chains as a
penance, so they can suffer for humanity.
I have begun feeling the same. I pray every night, even though
I am very tired, that I shall stay in chains forever. I know I
will never live without them