"In the Jaws of the Wolf"
I sit in my new bedchamber and sigh from exhaustion. I am here. I am safe. I had passed.
Thad's sister, Jane had welcomed me with open arms. She never once thought that I had passed. As I came to her home, she rushed up to the carriage and hugged me. She said, "Oh Elizabeth, I know we shall be fast friends! I am so sorry to hear about your family, Thad has told me all about it. But he has also told me not to talk about it, so I shall not breach the subject. Please come inside, you must be exhausted!"
This was how much of the afternoon went. I found Jane to be a very nice person, though she does talk quite a lot. What annoyed me the most was how she continued to call me Elizabeth. I do not think I shall ever grow used to that name—Elizabeth Lackland.
I am not Elizabeth Lackland, the white woman who died along with her family! I am Harriet Hemings, a nigra girl, only passing for white.
Oh what would Mama say if she saw me doing this? What would she say if she could see me going against my heritage?
I know what she would say. She would say, "Go ahead Harriet, live your new life. You are Elizabeth Lackland forevermore. Don't mess it all up."
I am a little scared that I will mess this all up. I am afraid that someone will find out I am not Elizabeth… that I am Harriet—a slave.
Thad came today. I shall say it again—I am in love with him. I don't know if he has much regard for me, but it may be because we were in front of his sister and her husband the entire time.
Jane has told me all about what she does at the Orphan Asylum. She says the need is great there and would appreciate my going with her tomorrow. I said I would though I would rather sit at home.
Home. That is the first time I've call it that. I now miss Mama dreadfully. I think of the all the days that will go by with no Mama. No Eston. No Madison. No Beverly. No Mister Jefferson.
I call him Mister Jefferson now. Ever since Thad told me to—and since I am not a slave anymore—I call him this. I miss everything about Monticello. I don't know how I shall ever grow used to this life in Washington City. It is so foreign so strange.
Mama I miss you so.
I went to the asylum. I almost enjoyed it. The children were darling, and I think I have decided to take Thad's advice about teaching. I love children, so it seems a worthwhile profession.
I have not talked to Thad about it yet though. I don't think he wants to tell me many things. He wants me to make my own decisions, which is… I suppose a little scary. It is so different then at Monticello, though I suppose freedom is ruling your own life.
As a slave decisions were all made for me—well except for the decision to pass—that was all my decision.
I have come to realize that people treat me with much more respect. Today, no man looked at me as if he was having improper thoughts about my body. Everyone was nice and polite… because everyone thinks I am white.
What would they do if they knew I was a nigra? What would Jane and her husband do? Would they throw me out? Would they turn me in and I could be sold, since I don't have free papers?
Oh Lordy, I am scared. I wish I was back home right now—in Monticello.