You know I loves to tell me a good story. But dis is one I don’t care to tell often. It was a long time ago when I first learned to read and write.
c128I found some old copy books that had already been wrote over. But even still, I learned it from writin’ the letters down in the spaces between the lines. At first I was learnin’ from my massus’ wife but one day he catched her and me writin’. She tell’d ‘im I threatened er into helpin’ me.
After that I got a bad whippin and a promise that if I ever even looked at my mistress agin massa would shoot me. From then I ain’t business with the mistress no mo. Even when she dropped off ol’ copy books for me to practice wit. I wuz so scared of what massa might do if he caught me,I jus burnt the books right up in the fire. Some my friends took up writin in secret. They practiced in the dirt so it could hide better. But I just couldn’t do it. I ain’t never trust anotha white woman ‘til I met Miss Annie. Even when I met ‘er I want to sure if I could be around ‘er. But truth be tol she a good woman.
Anyway I got to talkin’ to Miss Annie one day about my readin’ an writin’. I tell ‘er I ain’t practice in a while. I ain’t have nun to practice wit an I ain’t know where to get ‘em. So ya know wut she did? She done wen out and got me a brand new copy book! All for me. Den she sat me down on the porch and practiced it wit me.
“Just trace over the letter first, and then write it in the margin.”
“Lik dis Miss Annie?”
“Yes Uncle Julius, just like that.”
I never know why Miss Annie always be so nice to me. Whatever it is I sure do appreciates it. Almost makes me feel bad for trickin ‘er. Almost.