“All these dresses got to be folded and packed. The master and mistress are taking a train to somewhere called Oregon and we are going with them.” Mary quickly followed her mother’s orders. Her mother stopped folding for a moment and sat down on the wooden stepstool beside the bed. “Your Pa says when we get to this Oregon, the Master promised he would free us,” her mother nearly whispered. “Free us?” Mary repeated. “How?“
“Saturday mornings Mary’s job was to dust the books in the Holmes’ library. She began by standing in the middle of the room and staring in awe at all the books around her. It was more than the fact that Mary loved reading. It was the idea of owning that many books, that many anything, that thrilled her.
Mary wondered how it would feel to own something of her own. Everything she had ever cleaned, cooked or cared for belonged to someone else. Even her parents. Even herself. It was 1854 and Mary was a slave on the Holmes’ plantation in Louisiana. She was nine years old.”