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When young Douglass left Baltimore to go back to the plantation, he was about sixteen years of age—strong, healthy, and fully capable of the hard work of a field hand. But this was not the most difficult task he now had to face. Conditions that he met there were to test his character as it had never been tested before, and the trials he endured during this period profoundly influenced all his future life. For the first time in many years, he was to feel the "pitiless pinchings of hunger." Having found a principle upon which he could justify, against the precepts of morality, the practice of stealing from his own master, in order to get enough to eat, it was not difficult to go farther and discover a warrant based on grounds quite as logical, for the habit of stealing from others beside his master, when the same necessity seemed to justify it.