Why doesn’t it surprise me to learn that Donald Rumsfeld summers in an estate called Mount Misery and that it is the same estate where Frederick Douglass was beaten, before escaping?

The houses have names. Mr. Rumsfeld’s is Mount Misery and is just across Rolles Creek from a house called Mount Pleasant. On four acres, with four bathrooms, five bedrooms and five fireplaces, built in 1804, the Rumsfeld house is just barely visible at the end of a gravel drive…

…But there is some historical gravity to the name, too. By 1833, Mount Misery’s owner was Edward Covey, a farmer notorious for breaking unruly slaves for other farmers. One who wouldn’t be broken was Frederick Douglass, then 16 and later the abolitionist orator. Covey assaulted him, so Douglass beat him up and escaped.

That seems to fit Rumsfeld’s personality quite well. Cheney’s estate, which is about two miles from Rumsfeld’s, is called Ballintober. I’m not sure what to make of that name. It seems Tolkienesque. Or it has something to do with balls, toes, and potatoes. Or something. In any case, it’s evil. If you try to approach it large black creatures come at you from out of the woods.

“The last time I went up Fuller Road,” Katie Edmonds, an agent at Meredith Real Estate, said, “S.U.V.’s came out of the woods at me.”

Their neighbors seem to be generally happy to have the Patrons of Death in town. But Cassandra Harrison, “a mother of two who waits tables and cleans houses” is a bit more perceptive.

She is grateful that the air space above the Cheneys’ house is blocked. “It’s a no-fly zone, and that’s good,” she said. “But I’m not happy. I don’t think society’s liking them so much.” Ms. Harrison, 23, voted for the first time in 2004, she said, “just because I did not want him. I don’t think that they tell us the truth.”

They don’t tell the truth, but Ms. Harrison should watch out. There should soon be an influx of buzzards and vultures on the Eastern Shore of Maryland.

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