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By Colson Whitehead

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Extra resources for The Underground Railroad

Sample text

Pups like that, it didn’t take much salesmanship. Cora moved her mouth in silent thanks. The cabin walls pressed on her. Up in the loft one of the other women—Rida by the stench—rummaged and banged. Nag rubbed out the knots in Cora’s hands. “I don’t know what’s worse,” she said. ” The prospect of his visit depleted Cora. James Randall was bedridden. He’d fallen ill after a trip to New Orleans to negotiate with a delegation of trading agents from Liverpool and to visit his disgraceful haven. He fainted in his buggy on his return and had been out of sight since.

Regardless of perspective, what was important was the message imparted by one through posture and expression and interpreted by the other: You may get the better of me, but it will cost you. They stood a few moments until Alice sounded the bell for breakfast. Nobody was going to forgo their mash. When they came in from the fields, Cora cleaned up the mess that had been made of her plot. She rolled over the block of sugar maple, a castoff from someone’s construction project, and it became her perch whenever she had a spare moment.

Take it out on each other if you cannot take it out on the ones who deserve it. The children peeked between their elders, making bets they had nothing to back up with. They pulled weeds and worked in trash gangs now, but one day the field work would make them as big as the men grappling and pinning each other to the grass. Get him, get that boy, teach him what he needs to learn. When the music started and the dancing commenced, they appreciated the extent of their gratitude for Jockey. Once again he picked the right day for a birthday.

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