sixteen              

            Las' night... Las'... Las' night Massah Zach'ry, him comes to my room! I hears 'im stompin' 'roun', makin' lots o' noise an' aw kine o' clatter, 'til I begins to won'er mayhap it robbers. Hardly soun' like Massah's voice at aw. It him, dough, talkin' to hisse'f, real odd like, sayin' thin's ovah an' ovah. "MY PROP'TY" him keeps hollerin', "MY PROP'TY", den him head up de stairs. Not walkin' right; I can tell. I scairt. Dey's nuffin' I can do 'cep' pull up de sheet, covers my nekidness. Don' knock o' nuffin', jus' barge on in an' BAM—concuss dat fo'ehead 'count him too drunk ta duck. Dat stun 'im some. Him stan' dere s'if 'is senses playin' Maypo'e, den wide-eye tries ta spy me, but it dark an' Massah ain't brung him no lamp. I spy him, dough. Den him say real mean-like "Prop'ty, where you at? Come ta git my money's worf," what make my face turn' wet; I guess I's cryin'—'cep' not out loud. I prayin' him won' fine me. Nev'theless him do. Gots him a match. Strikes it; Lawd, him see me! It go out, so him strikes anot'er. Den him fumble wiff 'is belt 'sif plannin' to gimme a whuppin'. Don' take it outten de hoops, dough, jus' undo de buckle; drops 'is britches. I try inchin' backwar' but ain't no place ta inch. Him say, "Come on outten dat sheet, niggah," den snatch up de hem, give it a pow'ful yank, gettin' mad 'coun' I won' leave go. Den him takes a step an' awmos' faw 'cause dem draw's roun' 'is ankles. "KNEEL BEFO'E YO' LOR' AN' MASSAH," de ordah him give nex'. I do like I's tol'; climbs out de bed an' kneel. "WIFOUT DAT BLAS'ED SHEET," him shout; I drops it. Den him grab my hair, makin' sho' my face turn' 'way cain't see whilst him come snug behine—pantin'; I smells liquor on his breaf.  Den, wiff me ben' ovah, him aw o' sudden slump. I guess him not able. I's cryin' den fo' true so him leave go my hair. Out de co'ner o' my eye can see dat him right wobbly; has to use de wall fo' to he'p hisse'f to stan'. "Gots to keep you niggahs in yo' place" him fine'ly mumble. It no less dark, but by den us can make each ot'er out. Seems him not so prou' 'bout what him at. Make him one las' soun', 'mos' like a sob what trap' insi'e de ches'—nev' done hear de like—den off him staggah.

            Cain't sleep... wiff my body shakin' so, an' my mine a mess. Seem it awmos' dawn an' I keeps wond'rin' why him start den stop—keeps won'rin' what I do iffen him start again.