"Princes shall come out of Egypt; Ethiopia shall soon stretch out her hands unto God."
THE HINDERED HAND:
THE REIGN OF THE REPRESSIONIST.
BY SUTTON E. GRIGGS.
AMS PRESS NEW YORK
Reprinted from a copy in the New York Public Library Schomburg Collection
From the edition of 1905, Nashville First AMS EDITION published 1969 Manufactured in the United States of America
Library of Congress Catalogue Card Number: 77-100533
AMS PRESS, INC. New York, N.Y. 10003
To a devoted father, of rugged strength of character, and, withal, pre-eminently a man of peace, and to a loving mother, ever tender and serene of soul— To these twin moulders of the hearthside, who have ever been anxious that their children should contribute naught but what is good to the world, this volume is most affectionately dedicated by their son,
Upon a matter of such tremendous importance to the American people as is the subject herein treated, it is perhaps due our readers to let them know how much of fact disports itself through these pages in the garb of fiction.
We beg to say that in no part of the book has the author consciously done violence to conditions as he has been permitted to view them, amid which conditions he has spent his whole life, up to the present hour, as an intensely absorbed observer.
If in any of these pages the reader comes across that which puts him in a mood to chide, may the author not hope that the wrath aroused be not wasted upon the inconsequential painter, but directed toward the landscape that forced the brush into his hand, stretched the canvas, and shouted in irresistible tones: "Write!"
Very respectfully, SUTTON E. GRIGGS.
Nashville, Tenn., May, 1905.
BY ROBERT E. BELL.
Pages. "The young woman looked into his face" 20-21
"Her pretty brown eyes nestling" 24-25
"Name me as I was named" 40-41
"The rock battle was now on" 54-55
"What do they take me to be" 86-87
"Yer air jes' a plain, orternary liah" 114-115
"Poor Bud, her helpless husband" 134-135
"To and fro the two men swayed" 164-165
"Is it a crime for me?" 174-175
"I have tellerphoned 'round the world" 184-185
"She made a flag of truce" 188-189
"Don't circumscribe the able, noble souls" 234-235
"We machine men in the South" 258-259
"Ensal bent forward and kissed Tiara" 290-291
PAGE. CHAPTER I. OCCURRENCES THAT PUZZLE 11
CHAPTER II. HIS FACE WAS HER GUIDE 19
CHAPTER III. WHEREIN FORESTA FIRST APPEARS 24
CHAPTER IV. THE WAYS OF A SEEKER AFTER FAME 30
CHAPTER V. RATHER LATE IN LIFE TO BE STILL NAMELESS 36
CHAPTER VI. FRIENDLY ENEMIES 46
CHAPTER VII. OFFICERS OF THE LAW 53
CHAPTER VIII. A MESSENGER THAT HESITATES 62
CHAPTER IX. A PLOTTER IS HE 67
CHAPTER X. ARABELLE SEABRIGHT 72
CHAPTER XI. UNUSUAL FOR A MAN 77
CHAPTER XII. A HONEYMOON OUT OF THE USUAL ORDER 82
CHAPTER XIII. SHREWD MRS. CRAWFORD 88
CHAPTER XIV. ALENE AND RAMON 94
CHAPTER XV. UNEXPECTED DEVELOPMENTS 99
CHAPTER XVI. AN EAGER SEARCHER 108
CHAPTER XVII. PECULIAR DIVORCE PROCEEDINGS 113
CHAPTER XVIII. MISTS THAT VANISH 117
CHAPTER XIX. THE FUGITIVES FLEE AGAIN 122
CHAPTER XX. THE BLAZE 129
CHAPTER XXI. PLANNING TO ACT 138
CHAPTER XXII. THE TWO PATHWAYS 142
CHAPTER XXIII. THEY GRAPPLE 162
CHAPTER XXIV. OUT OF JOINT WITH HIS TIMES 167
CHAPTER XXV. A JOYFUL FAREWELL 178
CHAPTER XXVI. GUS MARTIN 182
CHAPTER XXVII. TIARA MYSTIFIES US 187
CHAPTER XXVIII. POOR FELLOW! 191
CHAPTER XXIX. A REVELATION 195
CHAPTER XXX. MR. A. HOSTILITY 201
CHAPTER XXXI. TWO OF A KIND 206
CHAPTER XXXII. WORKING AND WAITING 214
CHAPTER XXXIII. BACK IN ALMAVILLE 220
CHAPTER XXXIV. A GREAT DAY IN COURT 224
CHAPTER XXXV. EUNICE! EUNICE! 240
CHAPTER XXXVI. ENTHUSIASTIC JOHN BLUE 252
CHAPTER XXXVII. POSTPONING HIS SHOUT OF TRIUMPH 265
CHAPTER XXXVIII. HE CANNOT, BUT HE DOES! 269
CHAPTER XXXIX. A SON OF THE NEW SOUTH 276
CHAPTER XL. SORROW AND GLADNESS 289
TUNING THE LYRE.
In the long ago when the earth was in process of formation, it must have been that those forces of nature most expert in the fashioning of the beautiful were ordered to come together as collaborators and give to the world Almaville!
Journeying toward the designated spot, they halted on the outskirts of the site of the contemplated city, and tossed up a series of engirdling hills, whose slopes and crests covered with verdure might afford in the days to come a beautiful sight to the inhabitants when riding forth to get a whiff of country air. These same forces of nature, evidently in love with their work, arranged, it seems, for all the beautiful clouds with their varying hues to pass in daily review over the head of the city to be born.
In all that appertains to physical excellence Almaville was made attractive, and somewhere, perhaps behind yon hills, the forces rested until man set his foot upon the soil and prepared to build. They so charged the air and all the environments with the spirit of the beautiful, that the men who later wrought in building the city found themselves the surprised and happy creators of a lovely habitation.
On an eminence crowning the center of the area whereon the city is planted, the State has builded its capitol, and from the tower thereof one can see the engaging network of streets, contemplate the splendid architecture of the buildings, and gaze upon the noble trees that boldly line the sidewalks, and thus testify that they are not afraid of civilization.
Even in the matter of climate Almaville is highly favored, it would seem. Her summers are not too hot nor her winters too cold, and many a fevered brow finds solace in her balmy breezes.
The war gods saw and admired her, and decreed that one of the famous battles of the Civil War should be fought within her environs, that their memory might ever be cherished here.
Philanthropy, it seems, singled out Almaville for special attention, granting unto her opportunities for learning that well might cause proud Athens to touch her crown to see that it was still there and had not been lifted by her modern rival.
A murky river runs through Almaville and a dark stream flows through the lives of all of us who dwell upon its banks. But yonder! yonder! is the ocean! Where?
THE HINDERED HAND.
Occurrences That Puzzle.
To the pagan yet remaining in man it would seem that yon railroad train plunging toward the Southland is somehow conscious of the fact that it is playing a part in events of tremendous import, for observe how it pierces the darkness with its one wild eye, cleaves the air with its steely front and causes wars and thunders to creep into the dreams of the people by whose homes it makes its midnight rush.
Well, this train now moving toward Almaville, queen city of the South, measured by the results that developed from that night's journey, is fully entitled to all its fretting and fuming, brag and bluster of steam and smoke, and to its wearisome jangle of clanging bell and shrieking whistle and rumbling wheel.
It was summer time. A Negro porter passing through a coach set apart for white passengers noted the fixedness with which a young woman with a pretty face and a pair of beautiful blue eyes was regarding him. Her head was inclined to one side, her hand so supporting her face that a prettily shaped ear peeped out from between her fingers. In the look of her eye there was a slight suggestion of immaturity, which, however, was contradicted by the firm outlines of her face. As the porter drew near her seat she significantly directed her look to a certain spot on the car floor, thence to the eyes of the porter.
Having in mind the well understood dictum of the white man of the South that the Negro man and the white woman are to be utterly oblivious of the existence of each other, this Negro porter was loth to believe that the young woman was trying surreptitiously to attract his attention, and he passed out of the coach hurriedly. In a short while he returned and again noted how intently the young woman regarded him. This time he observed that she had evidently been weeping and that there was a look of hopeless sorrow in her eyes. Again the young woman looked at him, then upon the floor and up at him once more. The porter looked down upon the spot indicated by her look, saw a note, stooped and picked it up. He returned to the coach or rather to the end of a coach, set apart for Negroes, took a rear seat and surveyed the car preparatory to reading the note which the young woman plainly indicated was for him.
"I don't want white girls passing me notes," thought the Negro, clutching the note tightly and continuing to glance about the coach in a half-frightened manner. He arose to hoist the window by which he sat, intending to utilize it to be rid of the note in case the occasion should demand it. His fears had begun to suggest to him that perhaps some white man had noticed his taking cognizance of the young woman's efforts to attract his attention.
As the Negro section of the coach was the forward section and next to the baggage car, any person coming from the section set apart for the whites would be to the back of the Negro passengers. The porter therefore changed his seat, going forward and taking a position where he would be facing any one coming from the coach for whites. He raised the window by which he sat and his eye wandered out into the darkness amid the sombre trees that went speeding along, and there arose to haunt him mental visions of a sea of angry white faces closing around some one dark face, perhaps guilty and perhaps innocent; and as he thought thereon he shuddered. He felt sorely tempted to toss the note out of the window unread, but remembering the pleading look on the face of the young woman he did not follow the promptings of his fear.
"In case of trouble, this crew in here couldn't help a fellow much," said the porter, moving his eyes about slowly again, taking note one by one of those in the section with him. There was the conductor, who though a white man, seemed always to prefer to sit in the section set apart for the Negroes. There was the newsboy, also white, taking up two seats with his wares.
"As well as they know me they would go with the other gang. A white man is a white man, and don't you forget it," mused the porter.
There were two male passengers sitting together, Negroes, one of whom was so light of complexion that he could easily have passed for white, while the other was of a dark brown hue.
"A fine looking fellow," thought the porter concerning the dark young man.
Across the aisle from the two young men mentioned, and a seat or so in advance of them, sat a young woman whose face was covered with a very thick veil. The perfect mould of her shoulders, the attractiveness of her wealth of black hair massed at the back of her head—these things were demanding, the porter noticed, many an admiring glance from the darker of the two young men.
The porter seemed about to forget his note in observing with what regularity the young man's eyes would wander off and straightway return to rest upon the beautiful form of the young woman, but an incident occurred that brought his mind back very forcibly to the note. The door from the section for the whites opened and two white men entered.
The porter's hand in which the note was held cautiously crept toward the open window, while he eyed the two white men whom he feared had come to accuse him of an attempted flirtation with a young white woman. One of the men reached behind to his hip pocket and the porter half arose in his seat, throwing up his hands in alarm, expecting a pistol to appear to cover him. The white man was simply drawing out a flask of whiskey to offer his companion a drink.
Ensal Ellwood, the dark young man, looking around to see if the parties who had entered had closed the door behind them (for the adjoining section was the white people's smoking apartment, and care had to be exercised to keep smoke and tobacco fumes out), saw the two white men about to take a drink. He arose quickly and advancing to the two men, said quietly, urbanely and yet with an air of firmness,
"Gentlemen, the law prescribes that this coach shall be used exclusively by Negro passengers and we must ask that you do not make our first-class apartment a drinking room for the whites."
The two men stared at Ensal and he looked them frankly in the face that they might see that in a dignified manner he would insist to the last upon the rights of the Negro passengers. The justness of Ensal's request, his unostentatious, manly bearing had the desired effect. The two men quietly turned about and left the car.
The porter who had been standing during this little scene now sat down, opened the note and read as follows:
"MR. PORTER: When this train is within a fifteen minutes' run of Almaville please pass through this coach and so announce. Then stand on the platform leading from this coach to the coach in which the Negroes have their section.
"FROM THE GIRL THAT LOOKED AT YOU."
The first part of this request the porter concluded to comply with, but he registered all sorts of vows to the effect that he would never be found waiting on any platform for any white girl. He murmered to himself.
"My young lady, you may sign yourself, 'From the girl that looked at you;' but with all due respect my signature is 'The boy that wasn't there.'"
Again he looked out of the window at the same sombre trees and into the gloom of their shadows, and he put his hand in his collar as though it was already too tight.
"No, my God!" he said softly. Tearing the note to shreds, he fed it to the winds, lowered the window and began to whistle.
When the train was in the designated distance of Almaville the porter entered the coach for whites in which sat the young woman who wrote the note. "Fifteen minutes and the train pulls into Almaville," he exclaimed, as he walked the aisle in an opposite direction to that desired by the young woman. She at once understood and saw that she must depend upon herself.
The fragile, beautiful creature arose and by holding to the ends of the various seats staggered to the door. She opened it and by tenacious clinging to the iron railings on the platform managed to pull herself across to the adjoining coach. Passing through the smoker for the white men she entered the Negro section. With a half stifled sob she threw herself into the lap of the Negro girl and nestled her face on her shoulder.
The young woman from the coach for the whites now tossed back the veil of the Negro girl and the two girls kissed, looking each other in the eyes, pledging in that kiss and in that look, the unswerving, eternal devotion of heart to heart whatever the future might bring. The young woman now slowly turned away and went toward the coach whence she came, assisted by the wondering conductor.
From large dark eyes whose great native beauty was heightened by that tender look of the soul that they harbored, the Negro girl stood watching her visitor depart. The grace of her form that was somewhat taller and somewhat larger than that of the average girl, stamped her as a creature that could be truthfully called sublimely beautiful, thought Ensal. Whatever complexion on general principles Ensal thought to be the most attractive, he was now ready to concede that the delicate light brown color of this girl could not be surpassed in beauty.
If, incredulous as to the accuracy of the estimate of her beauty forced upon one at the first glance, an effort was made to analyze that face and study its parts separately, each feature was seen to have a beauty all its own.
"So sweet and beautiful a face and so lovely a form could only have been handed to a soul of whom they are not even worthy," thought Ensal.
A sober look was in Ensal's eye and some kind of a mad gallop was in his heart. There was more than soberness in the blue eyes of Earl Bluefield, Ensal's companion. When Ensal looked around at his friend he was astonished at the terribly bitter look on his face.
The train emptied a number of its passengers and rushed on and on and on, as if fleeing from the results to be anticipated from its deposit of new and strange forces into the life of Almaville.
His Face Was Her Guide.
"This is a rich man's war and a poor man's fight." Such is said to have been the character of the sentiment that was widespread in the ranks of the Confederate army during the late Civil War.
Be that as it may, it is very evident that the highest interest of the "poor whites" who bore the brunt of the fighting was to be conserved by the collapse rather than the triumph of the cause for which they fought with unsurpassed gallantry. For, with the downfall of the system of enforced labor, the work of the world became an open market, and the dignity of labor being restored, the "poor whites" had both a better opportunity and a more congenial atmosphere to begin their rise. Thus the stars in their courses fought for the "poor whites" in fighting bitterly against them.
At one time the Negroes of the cities of the South had almost a monopoly of the work of transferring passengers and baggage to and from the depots, but white men organized transfer companies, placed white agents on the incoming trains to solicit patronage, employed white men to drive the transfer wagons and thus largely wrested the business from the hands of the Negroes. But the Negroes would yet drive up to the station, hoping for some measure of success in the spirited contests that would arise in attempts to capture such gleanings as the advance agents of the transfer companies had left behind.
So, when the train on which we rode into Almaville poured its stream of passengers upon the platform of the car shed and they had ascended the steps to the depot platform, they were greeted with a series of shouts from the Negro hackmen and expressmen standing at the edge of the platform, the preponderance of the chances against them lending color to their cries.
Ensal Ellwood and Earl Bluefield boarded a street car, while the Negro girl who had occupied the coach with them, not knowing anything about the city, went in the direction of the clamoring hackmen, hoping that some one of them might tell her where she could find proper entertainment for the night. As she drew near, the line of hackmen bent forward, with hands outstretched for traveling bags, each man eyeing her intently as if hoping that the character of the look bestowed upon her might influence her choice. One man pulled off his hat, hoping to impress her with a mark of respect not exhibited by the others. The remainder of the hackmen quickly pulled off their hats, determined that no one should have the advantage. The young woman tossed back her veil that she might see the better.
A young man better dressed than the hackmen was standing behind them. The moment he caught sight of the young woman's astonishingly beautiful face he pushed through the crowd, walked rapidly to her side, gently took hold of her satchel, and said quietly, "You will go with me. I will see you properly cared for."
The young woman looked into his face and recoiled. His tone was respectful and there was nothing affronting in his look or demeanor, yet the young woman felt utterly repelled.
"That's right, lady. Don't go with him. Go with any of the rest of these men in preference to him," said a genial faced young man, slightly below medium height, rather corpulent and very dark.
The young woman looked in his direction and was favorably impressed with his open, frank expression.
"I'll trust myself to your care," said she, pulling away from the well dressed young man.
Leroy Crutcher, for such was his name, cast a look of malignant hatred at Bud Harper, the successful hackman and muttered something under his breath. He also scowled at the young woman whose utter disdain of him had cut him to the quick.
"I will get even with the pair of them, if it takes me the balance of my life," said Leroy Crutcher to the group of hackmen, after Bud Harper and the young woman had driven away.
The men looked at him in sullen, contemptuous silence, loathing and yet dreading him more than they did a serpent, for he conducted a house of ill-repute for the exclusive use of white men and Negro girls, and, being diligent in endeavoring to bring to his home any and all Negro girls to whom his white patrons might take a fancy, had great influence with this element of whites.
Noting the indisposition of the men to talk to him, and rightly interpreting their contemptuous silence, Crutcher drew from his pocket a wallet full of greenbacks. Taking out as many one dollar bills as there were hackmen, he threw them on the platform and said, "I am a gentleman, myself. Money talks these days. Help yourselves, gentlemen."
The men did not look at the money. Each one returned to his vehicle and journeyed to his humble home, leaving Crutcher alone upon the platform. If the hackmen had taken his money it would have served as proof to him that they were no better than he, that they were not in a business like his simply because they lacked his skill and finesse.
The action of the hackmen intensified his resentment at the treatment accorded him by Bud Harper and the young woman, and, meditating vengeance, he now walked toward his den of infamy where his mother had reigned in her day and where he was born of a white father.
The human race has not thus far even approached the point of constructing such habitations as would render mankind indifferent to rumblings underground, nor has society such secure foundation that it can think lightly of its lower elements.
In the long run the LeRoy Crutchers will be heard from. It is inevitable.
Wherein Foresta First Appears.
When the young woman who had committed herself to Bud Harper's care awoke the next morning she saw standing near her a tall, slender, Negro girl, of a dark brown complexion.
"My name is Foresta," said the girl, showing the tips of her beautiful white teeth. Her lips were thin, her nose prettily chiseled, her skin smooth, her brow high, her head covered with an ample supply of jet black hair. "Excuse me, please," said Foresta, "but mama told me to tell you that breakfast would soon be ready."
Foresta having delivered her message, for which she was thanked, did not at once turn to leave. Her pretty brown eyes nestling under equally pretty eyebrows, looked lovingly into the stranger's face. Without saying more, however, Foresta left the room. A little later she brought the young woman's breakfast, clearing the center table to make room for it.
"We eat in the kitchen. It is mighty warm in there, though, in the summer time with fire in the stove. We thought we would do a little better by you than that," said Foresta apologetically. She sat down to keep the young woman's company while the latter was eating.
"That was Bud Harper that brought you here last night," said Foresta, unable to repress a smile over some pleasing thought that was passing through her mind.
The young woman looked up from her breakfast. "My!" she said, "Your eyes are pretty. They are such a lovely brown."
"I'll swap hair with you," said Foresta, feeling of her own hair and looking admiringly at the wealth of beautiful black hair on the young woman's head.
"You would cheat yourself. Your hair isn't as long as mine, but it is so black and lovely," said the young woman.
Looking at Foresta from head to foot, plainly but neatly dressed, the young woman remarked, "You are a pretty girl, Foresta—and a good girl," pausing between the former and the latter complimentary reference.
Foresta's kindly face lighted up with joy at the compliment. For some time she had felt, without knowing what it was that she felt, the need of a confidante—some one with a fellow-feeling to whom she could talk.
"Something funny happened once about Bud Harper and——"
"Yourself," said the young woman, with a sweet, knowing look.
"Yes," admitted Foresta with a light laugh, pleased that the young woman was entering so readily into the spirit of the recital. "Bud had a brother Dave that looked just like him," said Foresta. "Almost, I mean," she added, remembering that nobody was to be put on a level with Bud. "Poor Dave is dead now," she said in sad tones, looking the young woman fully in the face as if making a further study of her.
Satisfied with the result of the inspection, Foresta now said in a confidential tone: "Dave died in the penitentiary. He and a white man got in a fight. Dave killed him in self-defense. Dave could have come clear, but it wouldn't have done any good. He would have been lynched. His lawyers advised him to take a twenty years' sentence to satisfy the clamor, and said they were sure they could get him a pardon. All of Dave's friends thought it was better to take his chances with a good governor rather than a mob."
Foresta's eyes now filled with tears. "It did hurt poor Dave so to go to the penitentiary. He was such a good-hearted boy. He died there in about a year and a half. It may be he's better off." Foresta now paused an instant. Shaking off the spell of sadness she said, "But that's not what I started out to tell you."
"I know it isn't," said the young woman, smiling sadly.
"Don't be too sure you know what I have to tell," said Foresta, laughing. "It is really something funny."
"I am listening," said the young woman.
"One night Bud went to church with me. You know our church is called the 'high falutin' church,' and a good many of the poorer and plain people don't like to go there. Well, Bud isn't a highly educated boy and he doesn't like our church for anything. He likes the preacher all right. He will hardly ever go in and sit with me. He walks about out doors till church is out, then comes back home with me. You are tired listening to my foolishness, aren't you?" asked Foresta.
"Not at all. I am interested," said the young woman reassuringly.
"Well, Bud is a sort of a bashful boy. Dave was just the opposite. Dave was full of nerve. Bud kept a 'hemming and hawing' trying to, trying to er——"
"Well, just say that he was trying to," said the young woman, and the two laughed heartily.
"Dave kept after Bud to speak out, but Bud was afraid that he would spoil matters," resumed Foresta. "They rigged up a scheme to find out where I stood without Bud's risking too much. Now, remember, Bud and Dave looked just alike, almost. Many a time I have taken one for the other. When little they often got scolded and beaten for one another. Their father never could tell them apart. Bud came to church with me one night, and he and Dave agreed that Dave was to carry me home without my knowing it was Dave. Dave was to make out that he was Bud and make a dash of some sort to find out how Bud stood with me. On our way home Dave didn't talk much. That helped to fool me, because Bud and I have gone along not saying a word; only looking at each other now and then. But that night Dave, whom I was taking to be Bud, was unusually quiet. And I thought then that he was meditating something. When Dave got home with me, he stood between me and the gate and said, 'You must pay toll to get in.' I knew he was asking me to kiss him. 'If you don't let me by I will call mama,' I said, mostly for fun, for I knew that Bud thought mama was against him. You ought to have seen Dave stepping aside to let me in. I didn't say another word, but walked into the yard and upon the porch. I knocked. Mama came and unlocked the door and went back. 'Good night,' said I. But Dave wouldn't move. He was so afraid that he had spoiled things for Bud. I stood there and thought a while. It came to me that it might not be wise to treat Bud's first attempt to say what I was willing for him to say, too coolly. And yet I didn't want to appear too anxious. You know what I mean," said Foresta appealingly.
"I understand you, perfectly, though my time hasn't come yet," said the young woman.
"So I stood on the porch," continued Foresta, "looking away from Dave, thinking and thinking how I could save myself and not hurt Bud too much. Womanlike, I suppose, I decided to make a sacrifice of myself. I opened my door a little. Quick as a flash, but so he could plainly see what I was doing, I threw a kiss and darted in the house. Dave fairly flew to where Bud was waiting for him. Dave told Bud all about it and the two boys liked to have hugged each other to death. Dave having opened the way, Bud grew bolder very fast. After everything was understood between us and the time set, Bud told me all about the trick. And I boxed his ears for him. If you are here I want you to come to my and Bud's wedding."
Foresta now arose to go. Holding up a finger of warning, she said, "We haven't told the old folks yet."
The Ways of A Seeker After Fame.
This world of ours, thought of in comparison with man the individual, is so very, very large; its sons and daughters departed, now on hand and yet to come, form such an innumerable host; the ever-increasing needs of the living are so varied and urgent; the advance cry of the future bidding us to prepare for its coming is so insistent; the contest for supremacy, raging everywhere, must be fought out among so many souls of power—these accumulated considerations so operate that it is given unto but a few of those who come upon the earth to obtain a look of recognition from the universal eye; and fewer still are they who, by virtue of inherited capacity, proper bent, necessary environment and the happy conjunction of the deed and the hour, so labor as to move to admiration, sympathy or reverence the universal heart, an achievement, apart from which no man, however talented, may hope to sit among the earth's immortals.
The fact that enduring world prominence is an achievement rarely and with great difficulty attained operates upon different individuals in different ways. Some grow weary of the strenuous strife, give up the contest with a sigh and retire, as it were, to the shade of the trees and with more or less of yearning await the coming of the deeper shades of the evening eternal. Others, fully conscious that they have been entrusted with a world message, confront a mountain with as much courage as they do a sand dune, and press onward, whether the stars are in a guiding or a hiding mood.
Mrs. Arabelle Seabright, aspirant for world honors, sat in a rocking-chair in her room in the Domain Hotel, Almaville, the stopping place of the wealthiest and most aristocratic visitors. Her small well shaped hands were lying one upon the other, resting on the back of an open book which was in her lap, face downward. Slowly she rocked backward and forward, tapping first one foot and then the other upon the floor. It was very evident that she was thinking, but a glance at the face was all that was needed to tell one that this thinking was not due to irresolution or uncertainty of purpose.
Nothing was ever more plainly written upon the human countenance than that this woman knew her own mind and knew the course which she was to pursue. Her thinking now is with a view to making travel along the elected course as agreeable as possible. The door to her room opened and there entered a young man of medium height with delicate, almost feminine features. His face was covered with a full beard that was so black as to appear almost uncanny, and it seemed so much out of place on one so young, the wearer not being over twenty-five at most.
"You have come to say 'yes,' my boy," said Mrs. Seabright, rising to meet her son.
The young man had really come to say "no," but that firm, unyielding look in his mother's eyes halted him. Instead of the determined stand which he had resolved to take, in the presence of his mother's imperious will, all he could say was, "Mother, I—I—I—had hoped otherwise."
His mother shook her head and looked him directly in the eyes. She wanted him to see the determination written in her own eyes.
He saw and collapsed. "I will go, mother," said he. "Be seated, mother," he requested.
Mrs. Seabright, directing a look of inquiry at her son, sat down.
He now dropped on his knees and rested his head upon her lap. "Mother, say to me the prayer that you taught me in my childhood—days when you were not this way. Lead me back there once more, for something within tells me that life is never more to be life to me."
Mrs. Seabright did not at all relish the sentimental turn of her son's mind, but she began in as tender tones as she could summon:
"Now I lay me down to sleep."
"Now I lay me down to sleep," repeated the young man.
"I pray the Lord my soul to keep," his mother continued.
"I pray the Lord my soul to keep," said he.
"If I should die before I wake," the mother said.
"If I should die before I wake," said the son.
"I pray the Lord my soul to take," concluded the mother.
"I pray the Lord my soul to take," the son repeated lingeringly.
"Mother, truly I am laying me down to sleep. I am putting my life, my soul away. When I awake from this sleep into which your influence as a mother has lulled me, I shall awake to look into the face of my Creator."
The young man now arose and turning upon his mother, he said out of a burning heart: "Oh, mother! May your soul meet God. As I leave you, let me tell you it takes that to reach your case!"
"You are not the son of your mother," quietly said she.
The young man now rushed from the room to get out of the presence of one who, though his mother, possessed nothing in common with his own soul. In spite of the manner of his leaving, Mrs. Seabright knew full well that he would perform unto the utmost all that she had exacted of him.
Mrs. Seabright resumed her seat and rocked to and fro complacently for a few moments. Arising, she went to a rolling door, leading to a room adjoining her own. There, coiled upon the bed, lay the beautiful young woman whom we first saw endeavoring to attract the attention of the Negro porter to a note. Her hair lay wildly about her pretty brow, there were tear stains upon her cheeks and her eyelids were closed. A fear seized Mrs. Seabright that her daughter might be dead. Rushing to the bedside, she called, "Eunice! Eunice!"
The young woman opened her blue eyes into her mother's, sat up and began to sob violently. The mother put her arms around the young woman, but the latter jumped from the bed and pulled herself away.
"Now, Eunice, don't act in that way. You can't see how bright a future I have mapped out for you. If you only knew!"
The young woman shook her head in rejection of all that the mother might offer.
"I will let you see her as often as you choose, Eunice!"
"Will you?" almost shrieked the young woman, stamping her foot upon the floor, a wild look of joy leaping into her eye.
"If you will let me plan your future I will not interfere with your relations with her whatever."
"Mother, mother," said the young woman rushing to Mrs. Seabright and throwing her arms about her neck. Between sobs she said, "Mother, mother, do with me what you will, just so you allow me to be with her when I choose. Oh, mother, how I wish you were now what you were before the adder bit you."
Mrs. Seabright, unmoved by this outburst, gently released herself from her daughter's grasp and returned to her rocking chair.
"I shall yet harness to my cause the two forces that are the most potent yet revealed in shaping the course of human society," said she. Going to her window, she looked out into the skies and whispered in confidence to the stars:
"I shall be remembered as long as you shall shine."
Hard by the house of fame sits the home of infamy. Those who offer too strange a price for the former are given the latter.
Rather Late In Life To Be Still Nameless.
On the morrow following our ride into Almaville on the passenger train, toward twilight Ensal Ellwood sat upon the front porch of his pretty little home, a sober look in his firm, kindly eyes. By his side sat his aged mother, whose sweet dark face of regular features was crowned with hair that was now white from the combined efforts of time and sorrow. Her usually placid countenance wore a look of positive alarm. She had just been a listener to a conversation between her son and Gus Martin.
Gus Martin was a Negro of brownish hue, whose high cheek bones, keen eyes, coarse black hair and erect carriage told plainly of the Indian blood in his veins. Gus was a great admirer of both Ensal and Earl Bluefield and the three had gone to the Spanish-American war together, Ensal, who was a minister, as chaplain, Gus and Earl as soldiers. These three were present at the battle of San Juan Hill, and Gus, who was himself notoriously brave, scarcely knew which to admire the more, Ensal's searching words that inspired the men for that world-famous dash or Earl's enthusiastic, infectious daring on the actual scene of conflict.
Gus could read and write in a fashion, but was by no means as well educated as either Ensal or Earl, his friends, and consequently looked to them largely for guidance.
Earl had made efforts to secure promotion upon the record of his services in battle, but had failed, because, according to common opinion, of the disinclination of the South to have Negro officers in the army. Gus Martin took Earl's failure to secure promotion more to heart than did Earl himself. Gus was a follower but not a member of the church of which Ensal was pastor, and he had come to pour forth his sentiments to Ensal anent the failure of his friend Earl to be rewarded. Ordinarily the well-known tractability of the Negro seemed uppermost in him, but this evening all of his Indian hot blood seemed to come to the fore. His voice was husky with passion and his black eyes flashed defiance. He questioned the existence of God, and, begging pardon, asserted that the Gospel was the Negro's greatest curse in that it unmanned the race. As for the United States government, he said, "The flag aint any more to me than any other dirty rag. I fit fur it. My blood run out o' three holes on the groun' to keep it floatin', and whut will it do fur me? Now jes' tell me whut?"
Ensal endeavored to show that the spirit of the national government was very correct and that the lesser governments within the government caused the weakness. He held that in the course of time the national government would mould the inner circles of government to its way of thinking.
"Excuse me, Elder; but that kind o' talk makes me sick. You are a good Christian man, I really think; but like most cullud people you are too jam full o' patience an' hope. I'll be blessed if I don't b'lieve Job was a cullud man. I ganny, I got Indian blood in me and if they pester this kid they are goin' to hear sump'in' drap."
It was to this conversation that Ensal's mother had listened with disturbed feelings. She believed firmly in God and her only remedies for all the ills of earth were prayer and time. Therefore it ruffled her beyond measure to have a new spirit appearing in the race.
"Ensal, there isn't any good in that Gus Martin," said she, in earnest, tremulous tones, nodding her head in the direction of the departing Gus. "I may be dead, my son, but you will see that the devil will be to pay this side of hearing the last of him," she continued.
Ensal did not look in his mother's direction, but stole one of her thin worn hands and placed it between his own. He felt that his mother's prediction with regard to Gus Martin was only too likely to be fulfilled.
At this juncture two young women appeared at the gate and entered. They were Foresta Crump and the young woman whom we saw taken to Foresta's home on the preceding evening. Being informed that the stranger desired a conference with him, Ensal retired to his study, lighted the room and invited her to enter. Foresta remained upon the porch and entertained Mrs. Ellwood, with whom she was a favorite, because of her peculiarly lovable disposition and her attention to the aged.
When the young woman was seated, Ensal took a seat and looked in her direction, saying, "Consider me at your service, please." There was an air of unnatural calm about the young woman. She now removed her hat from her head and Ensal noted that her hair was so arranged as to allow her face to fully stand as nature gave it to her, unrelieved. He also noticed that her attire was of a simple order throughout, though good taste and ample means were needed to produce the results attained by her dress. The light of the train that had told Ensal that she was beautiful, had only hinted at the attractiveness of form and feature as disclosed upon closer inspection.
The young woman seemed in no haste to begin the conversation about the matter that had brought her there, and chatted with Ensal in a desultory manner. She was studying Ensal and was affording him an opportunity to study her. Ensal had been so highly spoken of to her, and in her present state of mind she was so anxious to meet such a person as he was represented to be that she was calling into requisition all the powers of intuition of which her soul was capable.
At length an instant of quiet on the part of his visitor told Ensal that she was now to approach the matter that had given rise to her call.
"Mr. Ellwood," began the young woman, "it sometimes happens in the course of human life that we are compelled to appeal to the faith that people have in us. Life is more or less a matter of faith anyway, but ordinarily there is some sort of buttress for our faith in surrounding circumstances. To-night, I bring not one shred of circumstance, not one bit of history from my past life, and yet I appeal to you for faith in me, absolute unquestioning faith."
Her earnest tones and the pleading look in her beautiful eyes and the trembling of her form burned those words into Ensal's memory:
"I have the necessary faith," said Ensal, earnestly and quietly.
"I have come to Almaville to begin life anew. This has become necessary through no act of my own. This is all I care to say on that point, and I do not promise to ever break the seal of silence with regard to the past. I wish to find a name and I wish to find friends among the really good people of Almaville, the good Negroes. I am lately from New York and I am your friend. With these facts and only these, can you name me, can you place me in touch with your friends?" said the young woman.
"Name you?" enquired Ensal.
"Name me as I was named when a babe. The name that I have borne shall know me no more," replied the young woman.
As pastor of a Negro church at a period when almost the entire leadership of the race was centered in that functionary, Ensal was accustomed to having all sorts of matters placed before him, but the present requirement was rather unique in all of his experience as a pastor. He arose from the chair and began to walk slowly to and fro across the room, having asked the indulgence of the young woman for resorting to his favorite method of procedure when engaged in serious reflection. If we must tell the truth of this young man, the question which he was debating most was somewhat at variance with those raised by her requests.
Ensal had come to the conclusion many years previous that marriage was not for him, and hitherto woman had had no entrance into the inner chambers of his thoughts. And this beautiful stranger, nameless and homeless, had almost wrested the door of his heart from its hinges, without even an attempt thereat, and the young man was trying to grapple with the new experiences born into his consciousness.
Finding that he lost ground by trying to reason with his heart, Ensal let the wilful member alone and engaged in the more honest task of naming his visitor. Turning toward the young woman, glad that he had something to say, so that he might look into her beautiful face again, he said:
"I name you Tiara."
Ensal assigned the name with so much warmth that Tiara dropped her eyes, and the faintest symptoms of a smile appeared on her face.
"You have forgotten the latter part of my name," she remarked.
Ensal resumed his walking. Happening to look up at the top of his desk he caught sight of a sculptured bust of Frederick Douglass. He paused, and pointing to the bust, said:
"Behold one whose distinctive mission in the world was to serve as a harbinger for his race! A star of the first magnitude, he rose in the night of American slavery, attracted the admiring gaze of the civilized world, and so thrilled the hearts of men that they broke the chains of all his kind in the hope of further enriching the firmament of lofty human endeavor with stars like unto him. I name you Tiara Douglass."
Ensal turned to Tiara, his face enkindled with enthusiasm. He stepped back, threw up his hands, and plainly showed in his eyes the unbounded surprise which he felt at the way in which Tiara had received his suggestion for a surname. There Tiara sat, tears evidently long pent-up freely flowing and her body shaking with, emotion.
To find a word expressive of Ensal's bewildered state of mind is a problem to be handed over to the type of man engaged in the search for perpetual motion and does not come within the purview of a simple author. Man who tames the lion, harnesses the winds, makes a whimperer of steam and cowers the lightning—this same vainglorious, triumphant man is simply helpless in the presence of a woman's tears! Ensal stole quietly to his seat and sat there in a state of amazement.
Tiara looked up through her tears, a few pretty locks of hair having now fallen in beautiful disorder across her brow.
"Mr. Ellwood, I cannot endure the name Douglass and I cannot explain," said she.
Ensal now perceived that this name Douglass had somehow made the girl's thoughts touch upon the very core of her life's troubles.
"Douglass, Douglass, Douglass; no not Douglass," repeated Tiara in passionate tones, evidently trying to accept the name for Ensal's sake and yet being unable to do so.
"Your name shall be Tiara Merlow," said Ensal.
"Merlow—Merlow. I like that," said Tiara.
"I will arrange for you to stop with Mrs. Helen Crawford," said Ensal.
"Thank you," said Tiara.
Tiara now arose to go, but it was evident that there was something yet unspoken. As she reached the door of the room she turned around and looked Ensal directly in the face. Ensal had been following her to the door, and the two now stood near each other.
"She is just tall and large enough to be grand in appearance, which, coupled with her beauty of face and symmetry of form, make her fit to set a new standard of loveliness in woman," mentally observed Ensal.
"Mr. Ellwood," said Tiara, "I perceive that you are an admirer of Frederick Douglass. Do you approve of his marriage to a white woman?"
Ensal was about to answer, when something in Tiara's look told him that he was somehow about to pass final judgment upon himself. He looked at Tiara to see if he could glean from her countenance a hint of her leaning, but her countenance was purposely a blank. He now tried to recall the tone in which she asked the question, but as he remembered it, that, too, was noncommittal. He was not seeking to divine Tiara's opinion with a view to shaping his own accordingly. If it was apparent that he and she agreed, he was of course ready to answer. If they were to differ, he preferred to postpone answering until such a time as he might be able to accompany his answer with his reason for the same.
Ensal now said smilingly, "Practice suspension of judgment in my case. In some way I may let you know my views on the matter later on."
"All right," said Tiara, slowly turning to leave.
It was evident to Ensal that further progress in her favor was largely contingent upon his answer, and the marriage of Frederick Douglass to a white woman became an exceedingly live question with him. He accompanied Tiara and Foresta home and the moonlight and starlight never before appeared so glorious to him or nature so benign.
After all the heart makes its world.
It has always been a mooted question with Ensal as to whether he did or did not sleep the night of Tiara's call at his residence. But he has ever stood ready to take oath or affirmation that, whether waking or sleeping, Tiara was constantly in his thoughts that night. And when turning his face toward the window the following morning he saw streaks of golden sunshine stretched across the floor, and realized that there was a nameless something within him which that sunlight could not match, he knew that the crisis in his life had come.
After a frugal meal with his mother, and the planting of a kiss of unusual warmth upon her cheek, Ensal stepped forth for his day's duties. As he went out of his gate he noticed a white man across the street acting as though he was sketching his (Ensal's) home. Feeling that he was warranted in having as much interest in the man as the man seemed to have in that which pertained to him, Ensal walked somewhat obliquely across the street, coming near enough to the man to receive an explanation, if the man desired to give one, or, at any rate, near enough to have a good view of the sketch taken.
The white man took advantage of the opportunity to get a full look at Ensal, who felt a little uneasiness at the intense interest which the man's whole countenance showed that he had in him. The man's eyes had an earnest, pained expression. His cheeks were hollow and seemed to indicate that he was just going into or emerging from a hard spell of sickness. His hat was a faded brown derby and his suit of clothes was of a tough, coarse fibre and much worn. Standing by him on the sidewalk was what appeared to be a much battered drummer's case to which the man's eye would revert oftener than the utmost caution would seem to have rendered necessary. Ensal passed on, but somehow this strange white man came into his mind and demanded a share in the thoughts which would otherwise have gone undividedly to Tiara.
Ensal called at the home of Mrs. Crawford and made it possible for Tiara to arrange for a home with her, an alliance which would at once afford Tiara an entrance into the social life of the best Negro circles. This much accomplished, Ensal started in the direction of the Crump's to apprise Tiara of the arrangements.
"Why so much haste?"
Ensal turned and looked into the face of his friend, Earl Bluefield.
"Was I walking fast?" asked Ensal.
"Fast!" exclaimed Earl. "If you can induce the saints in your church to give the devil half as much trouble to catch them as you have given me, why they will be saved all right. Really a person who didn't know would have thought that your mother-in-law had died and that you were hurrying to make arrangements for her funeral," said Earl.
"By the way," said Ensal, "I am glad that I met you. A-a friend of mine from New York, a Miss Merlow, Tiara Merlow, is in the city. I wish you to pay her a call with me to-morrow evening. May I make the engagement?"
Earl dropped his head in meditation. His brain was exceedingly active. Beneath this apparently simple proposal of Ensal's lay hidden many possibilities.
Ensal and Earl represented two types in the Negro race, the conservative and the radical. They both stood for the ultimate recognition of the rights of the Negro as an American citizen, but their methods were opposite. They intuitively assumed, it seemed, opposite sides on every question that arose pertaining to the race, and championed their respective sides with much warmth and vigor. Yet they remained friends, were great admirers of each other, and lived each in the hope of converting the other to his way of thinking.
On the question of racial connection Ensal was really proud of the fact that he was a Negro, and felt that had he been entrusted with the determining of his racial affinity he would have chosen membership in the Negro race. Earl accepted the fact of his connection with the Negro race as a matter of course, had no desire to alter the relationship, and felt neither dejection nor elation on account thereof.
Ensal felt that the acceptance of slavery on the part of the Negro in preference to extermination was evidence of adaptability to conditions that assured the presence of the Negro on the earth in the final wind up of things, in full possession of all the advantages that time and progress promise. Earl rather admired the Indian and felt that the dead Indian refusing to be enslaved was a richer heritage to the world than the yielding and thriving Negro.
Ensal held that the course of the Negro during the Civil War in caring for the wives and children of the men fighting for their enslavement was a tribute to their humanity and would prove an invaluable asset in all future reckonings. While thoroughly approving of the Negro's protection of the women and children of the whites from violence, Earl was sorry that the thousand torches which Grady said would have disbanded the Southern armies were not lighted. Ensal deprecated all talk and thought of the sword as the final arbiter of the troubles between the races. Earl had his dreams—and his plans as well.
The procuring of the full recognition of the rights of the Negro was such a passion with Ensal that Earl relied upon it to finally bring him from the ranks of the conservatives to the radicals. Earl was fully convinced within himself that all of Ensal's hopes of a satisfactory, peaceful adjustment of matters were to be dashed to the ground, and knowing how thoroughly Ensal's soul was committed to the advancement of the race, he really expected Ensal to develop into the leader of the radicals. But this looming into view of a young woman, a friend of Ensal's, was liable, Earl thought, to complicate matters.
Earl had all along rejoiced in Ensal's determination to remain unmarried, fearing that family life might add to his conservatism. This accounts for the fact that Ensal's simple invitation to call on a Miss Tiara Merlow on the following evening so deeply affected Earl.
"Yes, yes, I'll go," said Earl slowly, almost as much to himself as to Ensal.
Ensal knew Earl so well that he could have told him the character of his (Earl's) thoughts.
On the following evening as Ensal and Earl sat in the parlor of the Crawford's chatting, Tiara parted the curtains shutting off an adjoining room, and stepped in. Her hair was arranged in two rich black braids tied up so as to extend only to her shoulders. The hair on the front part of her head was allowed to come forward, but not enough to forbid glimpses of a well rounded, beautiful forehead. As she stood there, symmetrical in form, just large and tall enough to be commanding in appearance, Ensal again inwardly declared that she was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen, heard of or dreamed about. Her eyes would have made a face of less regular features appear beautiful. As for Tiara, they made her beauty simply dazzling.
When Earl's wits, swept away by Tiara's beauty, slowly returned, it dawned upon him to his great astonishment that he was face to face with the young woman who had ridden into Almaville with Ensal and himself.
"If she was Ensal's friend, why did he not make himself known to her on the train?" asked Earl of himself. But this query was soon dislodged from his mind by one of far more interest to him, to wit: "Is it not likely that I may utilize this young woman as a means of bringing to me a second glimpse of that girl that paid us a visit from the coach for whites?"
Earl was introduced in due form and joined in the conversation now and then; but it was evident to Ensal that he was, for some cause, ill at ease. Tiara and Ensal, however, enjoyed the evening, each intently weighing the remarks of the other.
They say that Cupid is blind. This may be true of him at some stage of the proceedings, but when he is looking for a spot at which to let fly an arrow, he could play schoolmaster to Argus, of the many eyes.
Ensal and Earl departed, Ensal going home to live the evening over through the night, while Earl called upon Leroy Crutcher and engaged him to use Tiara Merlow as a clue to trace the unknown young woman.
"Is this honorable, this forming an alliance with Leroy Crutcher, this placing of a surveillance, as it were, on the movements of my friend's friend?"
These questions came to Earl more than once that night and the answer of the hot blood of his soul was: "Conditions have made me an outlaw among my kind. Rubbish aside, am I not as much of an Anglo-Saxon as any of them? Does not my soul respond to those things and those things only to which their souls respond? He that is without the law shall be judged without the law."
Judged! That is a solemn and sometimes an awful affair with nature.
Officers Of The Law.
"Hold on, there!" said one of a group of white boys on their way to school. The command was addressed to a Negro lad fourteen years of age. "Where are you going?" asked the self-appointed spokesman of the white boys. The Negro lad looked sullenly at the white boy.
"No need of clouding up; you can't rain," said the white boy. "Don't you know the law? The school board said for you niggers to get to school a half hour before we white children. What do you mean by hanging around and going to school on our time?"
"It is none of your business," said the Negro.
"I guess you had better skip, Mr. Coon," said the white boy. The group now sat down on the curbing, while the Negro walked away. The white boys gathered stones preparatory for battle.
The race problem had at last reached the childhood of the two races. In former days the children of the whites and the Negroes had played together, and ties of friendship were formed that often survived the changes of later years when one playmate became a master and his fellow became his servant. But that friendly commingling of other days was practically all gone now, and clashes between the white and Negro children became so frequent that the school authorities had decreed separate hours for the opening and closing of the schools of the two races, so as to lessen the friction as much as possible.
"Fly, you black face nigger, you," shouted a white boy.
"My face ain't near as black as your heart," rejoined the Negro, adroitly dodging the stones thrown by the white boys. The Negro threw his books to the sidewalk and soon had a handful of missiles. The rock battle was now on in earnest, the white boys feeling sure that their superior numbers would soon put the lone warrior to flight. The Negro entered into the battle with his whole soul, and was vigorous and alert. It was his idea that the injuring of one or two of his opponents would bring the battle to a close. A policeman rounded a corner leading to the street in which the rock battle was raging. The Negro's back was to the policeman, while the other boys were facing him. They dropped their stones and assumed a pacific and frightened attitude in time to impress the policeman that they were being needlessly assaulted by the Negro.
The Negro who did not see the policeman, ascribed the capitulation of his opponents to his own vigorous campaign, and now picked up his books, a look of exultation on his face. When he turned he found himself in the arms of the policeman. One of the boys, it developed, had been slightly bruised by one of the Negro's rocks. The Negro was put under arrest and locked up in the station house for the night.
The next morning as Tiara was perusing the paper, she noticed that a Negro boy, Henry Crump, had been arrested on a charge of assault and battery.
"Henry Crump—Henry Crump—Crump—Crump! That name is familiar to me," said Tiara, laying aside the paper to see if she could recall why the name sounded so familiarly to her. "I have it," said she, springing to her feet. "Why, I stayed with the Crumps the first night that I was in Almaville. And it is their little Henry in trouble. I'll help the little fellow out," said she.
Tiara observed that little Henry's case was set for ten o'clock that morning and it was then nine. She dispatched a note to Ensal, who immediately responded in person to accompany her to the place of the trial.
"This," said Ensal, "is but a symptom of a growing disease. In the days before the war the young master and the Negro boys played together and there was undoubtedly a strong tie of personal friendship between the slaveholding class and the Negroes on their plantation. But all is changed now. Rarely do you find white and Negro children playing together, and the feeling of estrangement grows apace with the years."
"What is pending?" earnestly asked Tiara, turning her large, anxious eyes on Ensal.
"Heaven alone knows," replied Ensal. "Just think! In order to have peace here between the children of the two races, the school authorities provide that there shall be a difference of an half hour between the respective hours of going to and coming from school," continued Ensal.
They were soon at the police station. Climbing the flight of stairs they entered a room crowded with Negroes from the lower stratum. The great majority of the women, it could be seen, had made some effort at respectability in attire. Some of the occupants of the room were there as witnesses in cases, others because of interest in parties to be tried, while the majority were there to pass judgment on the judge and learn as best they might the ways of the court and the law. Here and there was a sprinkling of respectable people who had by means of some mischance been caught in the drift.
One by one parties charged with offenses were called forward, fined and ordered released or passed back. At length the case of Henry Crump was called, and he came forward at a rather brisk pace, looking confidently at his mother and Foresta who had come prepared to lift him out of his trouble. On the same seat with Foresta and her mother sat Tiara and Ensal and their presence somehow gave added assurance to Henry.
Henry made his statements, the witnesses were examined and in the monotone with which the police judge went through with all of the cases, he said, "Fined twenty dollars and costs."
Foresta half arose, shocked at the amount, and Mrs. Crump crouched back in her seat in despair. Foresta had in her hand a crisp ten dollar bill which the family had raised, not dreaming that the fine would go above that amount.
"Pass him back," said the judge. Henry cast an inquiring look at Foresta and his mother. Tears were in Foresta's eyes and Henry knew that they were helpless. It simply meant that he was to have a pick on his leg and work the streets of Almaville. He dropped his head disconsolately, nervously fumbled his hat, and tears appeared in his eyes. The sting went deep into his boyish soul as he walked away.
"Wait a minute!" rang out Tiara's voice, and going up to the judge's desk, she put down a fifty-dollar-bill, saying, "Take the amount of the fine and costs out of this."
The judge looked up somewhat surprised. Tiara's act, born purely out of sympathy for the youthfulness of Henry and of sentimental regard for the first family that harbored her in Almaville, was totally misunderstood by the court officials. They fancied they scented a race contest in the matter and felt that Tiara was simply trying to show that it was all right for a Negro boy to stand up against white boys. They now decided to punish Henry to the limit of the law.
"Release the prisoner," said the judge.
Henry was released and Foresta and her frail looking mother rushed to Tiara to thank her. While they were doing this the deputy sheriff stepped up and rearrested Henry.
"Pardon me," said Ensal, interrupting the felicitations of the ladies. "We are not through yet. I see they are taking the boy over to the County Court."
"That isn't right," cried Foresta, as she followed the group.
The Criminal Court was then in session, and Henry's case was not long in being called. The deputy sheriff was seen to whisper a few words aside to the judge. The jury brought in a verdict of guilty and the judge assessed his punishment at ten months on the county farm.
Henry was now placed on the bench, where sat the row of convicted prisoners awaiting the pleasure of the sheriff, whose duty it was to deliver them to the places assigned them. As the boy took his seat on this bench to await the issue of other trials, when the sheriff would carry all the prisoners over together, there began to crowd to his mind all that he knew of Negroes on the county farm. He had heard of the indecent manner of whipping Negro women practiced out there. He saw one woman whose eye had been knocked out by an overseer. He had seen a petition emanating from the colored people containing sworn allegations setting forth a multitude of horrors.
Henry remembered having seen one boy return whose foot was frost-bitten and had to be amputated as the result of exposure at the farm. It was summer now, but ten months would carry him fully through the winter at the farm. The thoughts of a stay there was too much for him. Arising quickly he sprang up into the court house window. An officer rushed toward him to intercept him, but it was too late. Out of the window he jumped, dropping to the pavement below. He dashed out of the side gate of the court house yard and ran southward across the square, in the center of which the court house stood. Coming to the street which led to the bridge over the river that intersected the city, he turned eastward and started across the bridge with all the speed at his command.
The court officials were now in hot pursuit of the fleeing lad, one officer seizing a buggy, another jumping upon a street car and ordering the motorman to proceed at his utmost speed.
Henry had almost covered the full length of the bridge when the cry of the officers, caught up from one to another, had about come up with him. When he had all but reached the farther end of the bridge, in order to avoid an officer whom he saw standing awaiting him with a drawn pistol, he leaped over the railing and dropped about twenty feet, striking the embankment reared up for a resting place for the end of the bridge.
This officer of the law saw Henry leap and ran to the steps which were not far from the spot whence he had jumped. The officer reached the steps in time to see Henry sliding toward the water's edge. The officer began running down the steps, shooting as he ran. The people on the bridge crowded to the side over which Henry had leaped and witnessed the race between Henry and the shooting officer. Henry fell and it was thought that he was hit, but he arose and continued his running. He turned under the bridge and ran along parallel with the waters of the river. After passing fully under the bridge, Henry plunged into the stream and ran somewhat diagonally toward the center of the river until he was up to his neck in water.
"Move a step further out and I will kill you," said a bareheaded officer, who had at last reached the river bank, brandishing his pistol as he spoke.
By this time hundreds, perhaps a thousand or so, of people had gathered on the bridge. Henry stood in the water tossing his arms up and down. He feared to come ashore and was equally afraid to try to swim further out, feeling that he would be killed in any event. Some one on the bridge lifted a revolver to the railing, leveled it at Henry's head and fired.
"Shame! Shame! Shame!" was the word passed from lip to lip, as the noise of the shot was heard. Henry threw up his hands and fell, his arms upstretched above his head as he disappeared beneath the surface of the water. No one of the thousands stirred. In breathless silence they watched the spot where the lad had sunk out of sight. Some felt that Henry had simply dived and in due time would rise. Second after second passed, on the brief moments of time flew, while the eager eyes of the multitude were fastened on the murky waters of the river. Henry did not rise. He was dead. When it was known that life must be extinct, officers of the law rowed out to where he was last seen and fished his body out.
Ensal who had followed the chase now returned to the court house. Tiara, Foresta and Foresta's mother had heard the shooting and formed an awe-struck group, fearing that something had happened and yet hoping against hope. Ensal's sad countenance told them that their worst fears were realized.
"Henry is dead, mama," moaned Foresta, as she threw her arms about her frail mama's neck. "He is dead, mama; let's go home," wailed Foresta again.
Ensal and Tiara returned to Mrs. Crawford's.
A Messenger That Hesitates.
Mrs. Crump sat in her room, her elbows propped up on her knees and her cheeks resting on her hands. The death of Henry, her only boy, was indeed a severe blow to her, but at this particular moment she was bearing up well under it, reserving her strength by a supreme effort of her will to the end that she might comfort her husband when he became aware of the tragedy.
Foresta had gone for her father with the understanding that she was not to tell him what had occurred, but was to allow her mother to break the news to him upon his arrival home.
Every step that Foresta took on her sorrowful journey was accompanied by a rain of tears. As she drew near the place where her father was at work, she stopped and tried to remove all traces of sorrow. She wiped and wiped her eyes, but the tears persisted in flowing. Her father was at work in a quarry as a rock breaker.
The city was using small stones as a sort of pavement for the streets, and aged Negro men were given the work of breaking rocks into fragments to be used in that way. The occupation was not an ideal one, as employment was of a fluctuating character, and the sitting on the ground, often damp, was not conducive to health. The amount earned in proportion to the labor performed was very small. But aged men unable to move about very much found this to be about all that they could do. So, the rock pile grew to be the accepted goal of all the Negro men who wore themselves out in other service without laying aside a competence or establishing themselves permanently in the good graces of their employees.
There were many who did thus establish themselves, and Ford Crump would have been such a one but for the following chain of circumstances, to which account you may give heed while waiting on Foresta to feel self-possessed enough to approach her father.
Soon after the Civil War Mr. Arthur Daleman came to Almaville and entered business. Ford Crump, Foresta's father, then a young man, was his first Negro employee. The business grew until Mr. Daleman was rightly classed as a very rich man.
For several years after Mr. Arthur Daleman's marriage, no children had come to bless their home. Early one morning, as Mr. Daleman was crossing the bridge, he saw a young white girl acting rather suspiciously, peering up and down the bridge. Drawing near, he found that she had an infant wrapped in a bundle. Fully believing that it was the intention of the girl to drown the babe, he asked that she give him the child. This the young woman very gladly did. As the child grew, Mrs. Daleman's heart warmed to it and after several years of anxious thought and observation of the child the couple decided to adopt it as their son. Within a year after this was done a beautiful little girl, whom they called Alene, was born to them.
When Mr. Daleman grew wealthy, he decided to travel through the North and induce capital to invest in the South. He felt that the commercial tie between the sections would be of the greatest possible value and it was said of him that he brought more outside capital into the South than any other one man. He turned his business over to his adopted son, Arthur Daleman, Jr.
Arthur Daleman, Jr., did not like Negroes, and though Ford Crump had been with the business from its infancy, his presence was not desired by the new manager. When Ford Crump got so that he was not as active as was desired, he was summarily dismissed and his place given to a young white man. Arthur Daleman, Sr., whose interests were now immense, never came near the store, and, as a consequence, did not know the fate that had overtaken his faithful employee.
Ford Crump did not appeal to Mr. Daleman, Sr., in the matter, partly through pride and partly because he could not bear the irritating tone of the younger Daleman, which was in such striking contrast to the kindly manner of the elder Daleman. He had saved his earnings and bought a little home, and he was now willing to take his chances in the world even at his advanced age. It was thus that he found his way to the rock pile.
We now return to our messenger. Foresta sees that she is not going to be able to appear before her father free from signs of sorrow, and she decides on another course. Picking up a stone she rubbed it violently on the back of her hand, tearing the skin and causing blood to flow. She now hurried to the spot where her father sat, and said,
"Papa, mama wants you!"
The tone of Foresta's voice caused her father to look up quickly and anxiously.
"What are you crying about, my dear?" asked Mr. Crump.
Foresta made no reply, but held out her hand so that her father could see it.
"Poor thing; how did you hurt it?" he asked.
"Don't think about that. Mama wants you. Come on!" said Foresta, averting her face.
The father and daughter trudged along home, the father trying to say comforting things to Foresta and she weeping the more bitterly the while. At length it occurred to Mr. Crump that Foresta was more deeply touched than would have been the case if her trouble had been merely that of a bruised hand. Stopping, he said,
"Say, now, Foresta, is your mama hurt?"
"O no, papa! Mama is not hurt. Come on!"
Foresta perceived the coming question, and ran to avoid it. They were now near home. Foresta rushed in and threw her arms around her mother. Hearing her father's footsteps, she ran into the kitchen, leaving her mother to break the news.
"Ford, we haven't any little Henry now!" said Mrs. Crump in sad, soothing tones.
Ford Crump whirled away from his wife and walked rapidly out of the room through the kitchen into the back yard. Little Henry's chief task was attending to the chickens, and Mr. Crump stood at the fence running across the yard to form an enclosure for the fowl.
"Chicks, your best friend is gone," said he.
"My head! my head!" he cried.
Foresta and her mother heard his cry and reached him just in time to break the force of the fall, but not in time to prevent his answering the final summons.
A Plotter Is He.
Neighbors came and took charge of the body of Ford Crump. The body of Henry was brought home and received the same kindly attention. Foresta and her mother now set forth to make arrangements for the burial. The undertakers asked for a lien on their place as a guarantee of the payment of the debt.
Upon investigation it transpired that the place had been purchased by Arthur Daleman, Sr., in his own name. Mr. Crump had paid him in full for the place but the proper transfer had never been made. Mr. Daleman was not in the city and Arthur Daleman, Jr., refused to have anything to do with the matter. He also intimated that unless Mrs. Crump could show a clear title to the place, she would be charged rent.
This intimation did not worry Mrs. Crump, for she knew Arthur Daleman, Sr., to be the soul of honor and knew that he would do what was right, title or no title. But her personal confidence in Mr. Daleman could not be converted into cash, and she had to look elsewhere for money.
There infested Almaville scores of loan companies that charged exorbitant rates of interest and had their contracts so arranged that a failure to pay put them in possession of the household goods of the party in debt. It was also held to be a criminal offense punishable by a term in the penitentiary for a person to borrow money from more than one company on the same items of furniture.
Little Henry had always asserted that he was going to be a merchant when he became a man, and made it a custom to pick up and preserve such business cards as were thrown into his yard. From his pile of cards stacked in a corner Mrs. Crump learned the location of these loan companies and decided to resort to them for the money needed. Getting a small sum from each, she had borrowed from fifteen companies when she at last got the amount demanded by the undertaker.
Arthur Daleman, Jr., was not making money as fast as he desired in the business turned over to him by his father, so he had resorted to the loan business. Knowing that people would often borrow from more than one loan company in spite of the regulations forbidding it, and reasoning that such borrowers would be even more sure than others to pay, because of fear of the penitentiary, he had ten loan companies of his own operating in different buildings under various names.
It happened that on the evening that Foresta and her mother made the rounds borrowing money, he was on an inspecting tour of his loan companies. Mrs. Crump borrowed money from five of Arthur Daleman's companies without, of course, knowing it. Arthur Daleman, Jr., himself was present in two places when she was borrowing the money. On each of these occasions he had taken more than a passing interest in Foresta. Her beauty was by no means diminished by the mourning attire, and Arthur Daleman, Jr., found himself admiring her, notwithstanding his hatred of her race. When the papers were signed in the second loan transaction which he witnessed, he said to himself with a feeling of satisfaction: "My way is tolerably clear."
With the money procured from the various loan companies little Henry and his father were given what the people called a nice burial. Within a week after the interment Arthur Daleman, Jr., made his appearance at Mrs. Crump's home. Foresta was at school when he called, and when she reached home she found her mother standing, facing him, with an angry and excited look in her eyes. Foresta read in her mother's countenance that she was angry and that the advantage in whatever matter it was, was not altogether on her side.
"What is it, mama?" asked Foresta.
"This man wants you to hire out in his family after you graduate."
Foresta looked at the man in surprise. The thought of going into the service of the whites was utterly foreign to her ambition.
"You may take your choice," said Arthur Daleman, Jr., sure of his ground.
"What choice?" asked Foresta, alarmed by the man's tone of assurance.
"It is this way. Negro servants are not up to what they used to be. They are getting squeamish, and you have to be so careful how you speak to them or they will leave you. We are kept always on the lookout for a servant girl."
"What on earth have I to do with that?" asked Foresta, her eyes widening with astonishment.
"This much—I am going to have a measure of stability in my family service somehow. Your mother here is in a tight box. All I have to do is to speak the word and to the penitentiary she goes!" said Daleman.
Foresta grew weak, her lips slightly parted and she backed to the wall for support.
Arthur Daleman, Jr., continued: "Borrowing money from loan companies takes the form of a sale, as you can see by reading any of the contracts. Now you can't sell a thing to two different people at the same time. The law does not allow such. It is a penitentiary offense. See?"
Foresta rushed to her mother and threw her arms about her and sobbed bitterly.
Mrs. Crump said, "I'll go to the pen. Come after me when you get ready! but Fores' shall never work for you."
"Take your choice," said Arthur Daleman, Jr., and walked from the room.
Foresta tore herself from her mother's arms and rushed out of the room after him. "Mister! Wait!" she called. "Don't do anything to mama. I'll come and do the work faithfully," said Foresta trying to smile.
"All right," said Daleman, smiling, "Be a good girl and you won't have a better friend than I am," said he, in a significant tone, trying to awaken Foresta to the real situation.
If she understood it her impassive countenance did not reveal the fact.
The world at large has heard that the problem of the South is the protection of the white woman. There is another woman in the South.
"Arabelle, I am not going to have a thing to do with this whole matter. Suppose the bottom falls out and we are detected. Just imagine my fate."
"Detected?" hissed Mrs. Arabelle Seabright, turning a scornful gaze upon her husband. "You talk as though we have committed or are about to commit some crime. You just stay in your place, please, and leave matters to me."
"Do you mean to tell me that I need not meet the man?" asked Mr. Seabright eagerly.
"Yes!" replied Mrs. Seabright.
He leaped out of his chair and waltzed across the room, kissed his wife and darted through the door.
"Fool!" she muttered between her teeth.
Mrs. Arabelle Seabright in her room in the Domain Hotel was now awaiting the arrival of a newspaper reporter, the next victim to be bent to her will. It had been on her programme to have her daughter Eunice and her husband present during a part of the interview with the reporter, but as they were not entering enthusiastically into her plans she was rather glad that they had declined to be present.
It was not long before a Mr. Gilman, reporter for the "Daily Columbian," was ushered into Mrs. Seabright's room.
"Let us understand each other at the outset, if possible," said Mrs. Seabright, with a smile, directing a kindly gaze in the direction of the young man. Mr. Gilman bowed deferentially, but said nothing.
"I am ambitious." said Mrs. Seabright.
"Ambitious people are the ones that carry the world forward," ventured the young man modestly.
"I have an unbounded ambition,—an ambition to live in history as long as a record of human affairs is kept. Oh! I hate death!" said Mrs. Seabright with a shudder, stamping a foot upon the floor for emphasis. "I have money with which to further my ambitions. I am aware of the traditions of your paper, the 'Columbian.' I shall not ask you to violate them. But if you will put your heart in your labor and be an incessant worker in my interest, your ambitions will be gratified. A fair exchange is no robbery. You put me on the way to attain my ends and I shall do the like for you. Is it a bargain?"
"Whatever I may be able to do consistently, I shall certainly do, and shall be duly appreciative of whatever may result in my favor in consequence of work worthily done," said the young man with so much fervor that Mrs. Seabright knew that she was well fortified in that direction.
Bit by bit the Almaville public was educated as to the Seabrights. They were descendants of sires that took a prominent part in the affairs of the Colonies during and succeeding the period of the American Revolution. Mr. Seabright inherited a large fortune which a keen business sense had enabled him to increase very materially. He had now moved to Almaville to found one of the largest furniture manufacturing establishments in the country. He was so absorbed in business pursuits that he did not relish social affairs much, but his charming wife was such a dispenser of hospitality that she made up for his deficiency.
Eunice, reputed to be the sole heir to the Seabright millions, was a girl of great beauty, highly accomplished, and the center of attraction of any group of which she formed a part.
A valuable tract of land had already been purchased for the manufacturing establishment and a contract for the construction of the plant had been let. As soon as a suitable location could be found, Mr. Seabright was going to erect a mansion in Almaville that would be the pride of the South. An option had been taken on a piece of property in the West End that about measured up to the requirements, and the likelihood was that the residence would be constructed there.
The mere prospect had caused the prices of the property in that vicinity, already valuable, to soar much higher.
The public soon perceived that the conservative, the reliable "Columbian," the paper of the Southern aristocracy, was favorably impressed with the Seabrights as a valuable addition to the commercial and social life of Almaville, and even the most exclusive circles prepared to make room for the newcomers.
The Hon. H. G. Volrees sat in his law office with his chair tilted back, his chestnut brown hair much rumpled upon his large Daniel Webster looking head. Here was one of the most astute legal minds of the state and the real head of the Democratic party of the state. He was now forty-five years old and unmarried. He had never held public office but was seriously considering entering the race for United States Senator. A venerable senator was to retire within about three years and the position could be his if he but indicated a willingness to accept.
The Hon. H. G. Volrees had large ambitions. He was anxious to restore the old time prestige of the South in the councils of the nation. He was a well-to-do man but did not have the money to gain an assured social position at the nation's capital. He fancied he detected the flavor of ambition in those flattering notices concerning the Seabrights.
"It may be that my hour has come," said Mr. Volrees, picking up the paper and looking again at the published picture of Eunice. He closed his desk and went to his hotel.
Mrs. Arabelle Seabright's net had caught its fish. And what had the fish caught? Now that is the vital question.
Unusual For A Man.
Never in all of human history was an ambitious woman more satisfied with the progress of her plans than was Mrs. Arabelle Seabright. In due time the Hon. H. G. Volrees had formed her acquaintance and it was not long before they had come to an understanding. Eunice demurred not in the least when it was made known to her that she was to be Mrs. H. G. Volrees.
At an opportune time the Hon. H. G. Volrees announced his willingness to accept a seat in the United States Senate and long before the time of the election party leaders vied with each other in declaring in his favor. When the success of his candidacy was assured he approached Mrs. Seabright with a view to laying claim to his bride. The announcement of the engagement was made, the date of the marriage was set and preparations for the great event went on apace. Eunice appeared to enter heartily into all the plannings, and was seemingly happy to an unusual degree.
The "Daily Columbian" did its share in stimulating interest in the forthcoming marriage. Almaville as a whole seemed to be particularly well pleased with the proposed wedding, involving, as it did, a union of the wealth and beauty of the North with the brain and chivalry of the South.
As for Mr. Seabright, the more his family attracted social attention the more uneasy he grew. At first he did make out to accompany his wife to church and to theaters; but he had such a way of staring at the ceiling, avoiding the gaze of people, and hurrying away to escape introductions, that finally she was glad to leave him at home. Many brilliant social functions were given at his home, but he was always absent.
A Mrs. Marsh, in whom curiosity was more strongly developed than even in the rest of her kind, was determined to find out something about this eccentric Mr. Seabright. She managed to get on intimate terms with Mrs. Seabright, and was very free in moving to and fro in the Seabright residence. Her intentions were not however hidden from Mrs. Seabright. She knew that Mrs. Marsh was planning to get closer to her husband as a matter of curiosity, and she was glad of the experiment, hoping that Mrs. Marsh would eventually succeed in making him at home in the social circle.