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As I swallowed the last couple of bites, I managed a less than enthusiastic answer: “How many horses will we need room for, Miss Maureen? Do you have a count?”


Miss Maureen didn’t seem to notice my frustration. But then I was fairly sure that not much bothered Miss Maureen. She was in charge of the kitchen and anything else she wanted to put her hand to, and she made sure no one forgot it. “No, not yet. Mr. Madison has come alone. Miss Mary expects that several of the others will bring servants with them. So we may need another ten stable spaces in the next week or two.”


Servants? Or slaves? I silently compared the two words as I walked to the stables. They are certainly not the same thing! I am a servant. My contract will end in a few years, and I will be a free man. Most of the servants they bring from Virginia will not have that to look forward to. I sometimes pondered whether slavery made sense to me, but it was a concept I didn’t like to think about. As an indentured servant, I often felt treated no better than a slave; but seeing these slaves generally reminded me that my life was really not so bad. Besides, I smiled to myself. My contract might end much sooner than I had originally thought. In exchange for some important information about the comings and goings of some of the key Americans here in Philadelphia, I had been promised that my contract would be ended in much less than the seven years I had come to America expecting!

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