I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

Maya Angelou
Quotes

Chapters 11–15

Quotes Chapters 11–15
Could I tell her now? The terrible pain assured me that I couldn’t. What he did to me, and what I allowed, must have been very bad if already God let me hurt so much.
I couldn’t say yes and tell them how he had loved me once for a few minutes and how he had held me close before he thought I peed in my bed. My uncles would kill me and Grandmother Baxter would stop speaking, as she often did when she was angry. And all those people in the court would stone me as they had stoned the harlot in the Bible. And Mother, who thought I was such a good girl, would be so disappointed. But most important, there was Bailey. I had kept a big secret from him.
In those moments I decided that although Bailey loved me he couldn’t help. I had sold myself to the Devil and there could be no escape. The only thing I could do was to stop talking to people other than Bailey. Instinctively, or somehow, I knew that because I loved him so much I’d never hurt him, but if I talked to anyone else that person might die too.
For nearly a year, I sopped around the house, the Store, the school and the church, like an old biscuit, dirty and inedible. Then I met, or rather got to know, the lady who threw me my first life line.
Now no one is going to make you talk—possibly no one can. But bear in mind, language is man’s way of communicating with his fellow man and it is language alone which separates him from the lower animals.