I don't remember the name of the first family who took me in, but then I wouldn't want to remember anything about them. The husband and wife had children of their own and I think I was just a slave to them. I would be given a small breakfast every morning before being sent out to milk the cows or clean out the barn and stables or do menial chores around the house. One night, the family went out and I was left behind alone when a thunderstorm blew in. I had just turned 9 a few months before and didn't like thunderstorms, but this one I will never forget. I was laying in my bedroom when there was a blinding flash of light followed by a boom of thunder so loud I thought something had exploded and heard the farm horse screaming. I looked out the small window next to my bed. The stable was on fire! Scrambling out of bed, I flew down the stairs and ran out to the stable, struggling to open the doors. Running inside, I grabbed an old blanket and a rope and carefully approached the horse so I wouldn't get trampled. Slipping the rope over the poor beasts head, I threw the blanket over its head as well before leading it outside towards the house and tied it to the porch rail. There was nothing I could do to save the stable and it was raining heavily so it wasn't completely destroyed, but I caught hell from the farmer and his wife when they returned for letting it burn. It wasn't until later that I realized I had been barefoot.

I also went to school and lost myself in learning everything I could. I was so happy to be at school because I got to see my sisters there and we would spend as much time together as possible. We wrote letters to each other, of course, but being together was particularly important one day. Grace had been sent a letter from a man called Reverend Mr. Jones about our brother John. He wrote her to say John had died and that there had been a service for him with the Psalm 39:12 read as it was most fitting. My sisters and I were heartbroken as John had made plans to take care of us once he was able; plans to reunite us as a family once more. It was the worst possible news.

One day after school in August, I arrived back at the farm to find a man I had never seen before. He told me he had been waiting for me and that I was going to be leaving with him to a new home that day. Then he told me that I would go live with my sister Grace and the family that had taken her. I was so excited and happy and relieved that I would be leaving this farm of horrors as just the other day, the man of the house had beaten that old blind horse I'd saved from the fire and then turned on me when I tried to stop him. Yes, I couldn't wait to leave. I packed my meager belongings in an old sack and I skipped down that dirt path away from the farmhouse to the truck that was waiting to take me to Grace.

It wasn't a very long ride, but it could have been a lifetime for me. I was going to live with Grace and as we rounded the bend in the road, I could see her standing out front of the house with the couple who owned it and I knew when she saw me because she started jumping and waving. Before the truck even came to a stop, she was running down the grass towards it and tore the door open, pulling me out and into her arms and laughing and crying at the same time she was so happy. I remember her words as she held me, I'll never forget them. "You're with me now, Bessie," she whispered. "You're with me and we'll never be parted again." And she was right.