Part 4 out of 5
doubts with respect to their relationship. He found Iola, Harry, and
their mother living cosily together. Harry was teaching and was a leader
among the rising young men of the State. His Northern education and
later experience had done much toward adapting him to the work of the
new era which had dawned upon the South.
Marie was very glad to welcome Robert to her home, but it was almost
impossible to recognize her brother in that tall, handsome man, with
dark-brown eyes and wealth of chestnut-colored hair, which he readily
lifted to show the crimson spot which lay beneath it.
But as they sat together, and recalled the long-forgotten scenes of
their childhood, they concluded that they were brother and sister.
"Marie," said Robert, "how would you like to leave the South?"
"I should like to go North, but I hate to leave Harry. He's a splendid
young fellow, although I say it myself. He is so fearless and outspoken
that I am constantly anxious about him, especially at election time."
Harry then entered the room, and, being introduced to Robert, gave him a
cordial welcome. He had just returned from school.
"We were talking of you, my son," said Marie.
"What were you saying? Nothing of the absent but good?" asked Harry.
"I was telling your uncle, who wants me to come North, that I would go,
but I am afraid that you will get into trouble and be murdered, as many
others have been."
"Oh, well, mother, I shall not die till my time comes. And if I die
helping the poor and needy, I shall die at my post. Could a man choose a
better place to die?"
"Were you aware of the virulence of caste prejudice and the disabilities
which surround the colored people when you cast your lot with them?"
"Not fully," replied Harry; "but after I found out that I was colored, I
consulted the principal of the school, where I was studying, in
reference to the future. He said that if I stayed in the North, he had
friends whom he believed would give me any situation I could fill, and I
could simply take my place in the rank of workers, the same as any other
man. Then he told me of the army, and I made up my mind to enter it,
actuated by a desire to find my mother and sister; and at any rate I
wanted to avenge their wrongs. I do not feel so now. Since I have seen
the fearful ravages of war, I have learned to pity and forgive. The
principal said he thought I would be more apt to find my family if I
joined a colored regiment in the West than if I joined one of the Maine
companies. I confess at first I felt a shrinking from taking the step,
but love for my mother overcame all repugnance on my part. Now that I
have linked my fortunes to the race I intend to do all I can for its
As he spoke Robert gazed admiringly on the young face, lit up by noble
purposes and lofty enthusiasm.
"You are right, Harry. I think it would be treason, not only to the
race, but to humanity, to have you ignoring your kindred and
masquerading as a white man."
"I think so, too," said Marie.
"But, sister, I am anxious for you all to come North. If Harry feels
that the place of danger is the post of duty, let him stay, and he can
spend his vacations with us. I think both you and Iola need rest and
change. Mother longs to see you before she dies. She feels that we have
been the children of many prayers and tears, and I want to make her last
days as happy as possible. The South has not been a paradise to you all
the time, and I should think you would be willing to leave it."
"Yes, that is so. Iola needs rest and change, and she would be such a
comfort to mother. I suppose, for her sake, I will consent to have her
go back with you, at least for awhile."
In a few days, with many prayers and tears, Marie, half reluctantly,
permitted Iola to start for the North in company with Robert Johnson,
intending to follow as soon as she could settle her business and see
Harry in a good boarding place.
Very joyful was the greeting of the dear grandmother. Iola soon nestled
in her heart and lent additional sunshine to her once checkered life,
and Robert, who had so long been robbed of kith and kin, was delighted
with the new accession to his home life.
"Uncle Robert," said Iola, after she had been North several weeks, "I
have a theory that every woman ought to know how to earn her own living.
I believe that a great amount of sin and misery springs from the
weakness and inefficiency of women."
"Perhaps that's so, but what are you going to do about it?"
"I am going to join the great rank of bread-winners. Mr. Waterman has
advertised for a number of saleswomen, and I intend to make
"When he advertises for help he means white women," said Robert.
"He said nothing about color," responded Iola.
"I don't suppose he did. He doesn't expect any colored girl to apply."
"Well, I think I could fill the place. At least I should like to try.
And I do not think when I apply that I am in duty bound to tell him my
great-grandmother was a negro."
"Well, child, there is no necessity for you to go out to work. You are
perfectly welcome here, and I hope that you feel so."
"Oh, I certainly do. But still I would rather earn my own living."
That morning Iola applied for the situation, and, being prepossessing in
her appearance, she obtained it.
For awhile everything went as pleasantly as a marriage bell. But one day
a young colored lady, well-dressed and well-bred in her manner, entered
the store. It was an acquaintance which Iola had formed in the colored
church which she attended. Iola gave her a few words of cordial
greeting, and spent a few moments chatting with her. The attention of
the girls who sold at the same counter was attracted, and their
suspicion awakened. Iola was a stranger in that city. Who was she, and
who were her people? At last it was decided that one of the girls should
act as a spy, and bring what information she could concerning Iola.
The spy was successful. She found out that Iola was living in a good
neighborhood, but that none of the neighbors knew her. The man of the
house was very fair, but there was an old woman whom Iola called
"Grandma," and she was unmistakably colored. The story was sufficient.
If that were true, Iola must be colored, and she should be treated
Without knowing the cause, Iola noticed a chill in the social atmosphere
of the store, which communicated itself to the cash-boys, and they
treated her so insolently that her situation became very uncomfortable.
She saw the proprietor, resigned her position, and asked for and
obtained a letter of recommendation to another merchant who had
advertised for a saleswoman.
In applying for the place, she took the precaution to inform her
employer that she was colored. It made no difference to him; but he
"Don't say anything about it to the girls. They might not be willing to
work with you."
Iola smiled, did not promise, and accepted the situation. She entered
upon her duties, and proved quite acceptable as a saleswoman.
One day, during an interval in business, the girls began to talk of
their respective churches, and the question was put to Iola:--
"Where do you go to church?"
"I go," she replied, "to Rev. River's church, corner of Eighth and L
"Oh, no; you must be mistaken. There is no church there except a colored
"That is where I go."
"Why do you go there?"
"Because I liked it when I came here, and joined it."
"A member of a colored church? What under heaven possessed you to do
such a thing?"
"Because I wished to be with my own people."
Here the interrogator stopped, and looked surprised and pained, and
almost instinctively moved a little farther from her. After the store
was closed, the girls had an animated discussion, which resulted in the
information being sent to Mr. Cohen that Iola was a colored girl, and
that they protested against her being continued in his employ. Mr. Cohen
yielded to the pressure, and informed Iola that her services were no
When Robert came home in the evening, he found that Iola had lost her
situation, and was looking somewhat discouraged.
"Well, uncle," she said, "I feel out of heart. It seems as if the
prejudice pursues us through every avenue of life, and assigns us the
"That is so," replied Robert, thoughtfully.
"And yet I am determined," said Iola, "to win for myself a place in the
fields of labor. I have heard of a place in New England, and I mean to
try for it, even if I only stay a few months."
"Well, if you _will_ go, say nothing about your color."
"Uncle Robert, I see no necessity for proclaiming that fact on the
house-top. Yet I am resolved that nothing shall tempt me to deny it. The
best blood in my veins is African blood, and I am not ashamed of it."
"Hurrah for you!" exclaimed Robert, laughing heartily.
As Iola wished to try the world for herself, and so be prepared for any
emergency, her uncle and grandmother were content to have her go to New
England. The town to which she journeyed was only a few hours' ride from
the city of P----, and Robert, knowing that there is no teacher like
experience, was willing that Iola should have the benefit of her
Iola, on arriving in H----, sought the firm, and was informed that her
services were needed. She found it a pleasant and lucrative position.
There was only one drawback--her boarding place was too far from her
work. There was an institution conducted by professed Christian women,
which was for the special use of respectable young working girls. This
was in such a desirable location that she called at the house to engage
The matron conducted her over the house, and grew so friendly in the
interview that she put her arm around her, and seemed to look upon Iola
as a desirable accession to the home. But, just as Iola was leaving, she
said to the matron: "I must be honest with you; I am a colored woman."
Swift as light a change passed over the face of the matron. She withdrew
her arm from Iola, and said: "I must see the board of managers about
When the board met, Iola's case was put before them, but they decided
not to receive her. And these women, professors of a religion which
taught, "If ye have respect to persons ye commit sin," virtually shut
the door in her face because of the outcast blood in her veins.
Considerable feeling was aroused by the action of these women, who, to
say the least, had not put their religion in the most favorable light.
Iola continued to work for the firm until she received letters from her
mother and uncle, which informed her that her mother, having arranged
her affairs in the South, was ready to come North. She then resolved to
return, to the city of P----, to be ready to welcome her mother on her
Iola arrived in time to see that everything was in order for her
mother's reception. Her room was furnished neatly, but with those
touches of beauty that womanly hands are such adepts in giving. A few
charming pictures adorned the walls, and an easy chair stood waiting to
receive the travel-worn mother. Robert and Iola met her at the depot;
and grandma was on her feet at the first sound of the bell, opened the
door, clasped Marie to her heart, and nearly fainted for joy.
"Can it be possible dat dis is my little Marie?" she exclaimed.
It did seem almost impossible to realize that this faded woman, with
pale cheeks and prematurely whitened hair, was the rosy-cheeked child
from whom she had been parted more than thirty years.
"Well," said Robert, after the first joyous greeting was over, "love is
a very good thing, but Marie has had a long journey and needs something
that will stick by the ribs. How about dinner, mother?"
"It's all ready," said Mrs. Johnson.
After Marie had gone to her room and changed her dress, she came down
and partook of the delicious repast which her mother and Iola had
prepared for her.
In a few days Marie was settled in the home, and was well pleased with
the change. The only drawback to her happiness was the absence of her
son, and she expected him to come North after the closing of his school.
"Uncle Robert," said Iola, after her mother had been with them several
weeks, "I am tired of being idle."
"What's the matter now?" asked Robert. "You are surely not going East
again, and leave your mother?"
"Oh, I hope not," said Marie, anxiously. "I have been so long without
"No, mamma, I am not going East. I can get suitable employment here in
the city of P----."
"But, Iola," said Robert, "you have tried, and been defeated. Why
subject yourself to the same experience again?"
"Uncle Robert, I think that every woman should have some skill or art
which would insure her at least a comfortable support. I believe there
would be less unhappy marriages if labor were more honored among women."
"Well, Iola," said her mother, "what is your skill?"
"Nursing. I was very young when I went into the hospital, but I
succeeded so well that the doctor said I must have been a born nurse.
Now, I see by the papers, that a gentleman who has an invalid daughter
wants some one who can be a nurse and companion for her, and I mean to
apply for the situation. I do not think, if I do my part well in that
position, that the blood in my veins will be any bar to my success."
A troubled look stole over Marie's face. She sighed faintly, but made no
remonstrance. And so it was decided that Iola should apply for the
Iola made application, and was readily accepted. Her patient was a frail
girl of fifteen summers, who was ill with a low fever. Iola nursed her
carefully, and soon had the satisfaction of seeing her restored to
health. During her stay, Mr. Cloten, the father of the invalid, had
learned some of the particulars of Iola's Northern experience as a
bread-winner, and he resolved to give her employment in his store when
her services were no longer needed in the house. As soon as a vacancy
occurred he gave Iola a place in his store.
The morning she entered on her work he called his employes together, and
told them that Miss Iola had colored blood in her veins, but that he was
going to employ her and give her a desk. If any one objected to working
with her, he or she could step to the cashier's desk and receive what
was due. Not a man remonstrated, not a woman demurred; and Iola at last
found a place in the great army of bread-winners, which the traditions
of her blood could not affect.
"How did you succeed?" asked Mrs. Cloten of her husband, when he
returned to dinner.
"Admirably! 'Everything is lovely and the goose hangs high.' I gave my
employes to understand that they could leave if they did not wish to
work with Miss Leroy. Not one of them left, or showed any disposition
"I am very glad," said Mrs. Cloten. "I am ashamed of the way she has been
treated in our city, when seeking to do her share in the world's work. I
am glad that you were brave enough to face this cruel prejudice, and
give her a situation."
"Well, my dear, do not make me a hero for a single act. I am grateful
for the care Miss Leroy gave our Daisy. Money can buy services, but it
cannot purchase tender, loving sympathy. I was also determined to let my
employes know that I, not they, commanded my business. So, do not crown
me a hero until I have won a niche in the temple of fame. In dealing
with Southern prejudice against the negro, we Northerners could do it
with better grace if we divested ourselves of our own. We irritate the
South by our criticisms, and, while I confess that there is much that is
reprehensible in their treatment of colored people, yet if our Northern
civilization is higher than theirs we should 'criticise by creation.' We
should stamp ourselves on the South, and not let the South stamp itself
on us. When we have learned to treat men according to the complexion of
their souls, and not the color of their skins, we will have given our
best contribution towards the solution of the negro problem."
"I feel, my dear," said Mrs. Cloten, "that what you have done is a right
step in the right direction, and I hope that other merchants will do the
same. We have numbers of business men, rich enough to afford themselves
the luxury of a good conscience."
AN OLD FRIEND.
"Good-morning, Miss Leroy," said a cheery voice in tones of glad
surprise, and, intercepting her path, Dr. Gresham stood before Iola,
smiling, and reaching out his hand.
"Why, Dr. Gresham, is this you?" said Iola, lifting her eyes to that
well-remembered face. "It has been several years since we met. How have
you been all this time, and where?"
"I have been sick, and am just now recovering from malaria and nervous
prostration. I am attending a medical convention in this city, and hope
that I shall have the pleasure of seeing you again."
Iola hesitated, and then replied: "I should be pleased to have you
"It would give me great pleasure. Where shall I call?"
"My home is 1006 South Street, but I am only at home in the evenings."
They walked together a short distance till they reached Mr. Cloten's
store; then, bidding the doctor good morning, Iola left him repeating to
himself the words of his favorite poet:--
"Thou art too lovely and precious a gem
To be bound to their burdens and sullied by them."
No one noticed the deep flush on Iola's face as she entered the store,
nor the subdued, quiet manner with which she applied herself to her
tasks. She was living over again the past, with its tender, sad, and
In the evening Dr. Gresham called on Iola. She met him with a pleasant
welcome. Dr. Gresham gazed upon her with unfeigned admiration, and
thought that the years, instead of detracting from, had only
intensified, her loveliness. He had thought her very beautiful in the
hospital, in her gray dress and white collar, with her glorious wealth
of hair drawn over her ears. But now, when he saw her with that hair
artistically arranged, and her finely-proportioned form arrayed in a
dark crimson dress, relieved by a shimmer of lace and a bow of white
ribbon at her throat, he thought her superbly handsome. The lines which
care had written upon her young face had faded away. There was no
undertone of sorrow in her voice as she stood up before him in the calm
loveliness of her ripened womanhood, radiant in beauty and gifted in
intellect. Time and failing health had left their traces upon Dr.
Gresham. His step was less bounding, his cheek a trifle paler, his
manner somewhat graver than it was when he had parted from Iola in the
hospital, but his meeting with her had thrilled his heart with
unexpected pleasure. Hopes and sentiments which long had slept awoke at
the touch of her hand and the tones of her voice, and Dr. Gresham found
himself turning to the past, with its sad memories and disappointed
hopes. No other face had displaced her image in his mind; no other love
had woven itself around every tendril of his soul. His heart and hand
were just as free as they were the hour they had parted.
"To see you again," said Dr. Gresham, "is a great and unexpected
"You had not forgotten me, then?" said Iola, smiling.
"Forget you! I would just as soon forget my own existence. I do not
think that time will ever efface the impressions of those days in which
we met so often. When last we met you were intending to search for your
mother. Have you been successful?"
"More than successful," said Iola, with a joyous ring in her voice. "I
have found my mother, brother, grandmother, and uncle, and, except my
brother, we are all living together, and we are so happy. Excuse me a
few minutes," she said, and left the room. Iola soon returned, bringing
with her her mother and grandmother.
"These," said Iola, introducing her mother and grandmother, "are the
once-severed branches of our family; and this gentleman you have seen
before," continued Iola, as Robert entered the room.
Dr. Gresham looked scrutinizingly at him and said: "Your face looks
familiar, but I saw so many faces at the hospital that I cannot just now
recall your name."
"Doctor," said Robert Johnson, "I was one of your last patients, and I
was with Tom Anderson when he died."
"Oh, yes," replied Dr. Gresham; "it all comes back to me. You were
wounded at the battle of Five Forks, were you not?"
"Yes," said Robert.
"I saw you when you were recovering. You told me that you thought you
had a clue to your lost relatives, from whom you had been so long
separated. How have you succeeded?"
"Admirably! I have been fortunate in finding my mother, my sister, and
"Ah, indeed! I am delighted to hear it. Where are they?"
"They are right here. This is my mother," said Robert, bending fondly
over her, as she returned his recognition with an expression of intense
satisfaction; "and this," he continued, "is my sister, and Miss Leroy is
"Is it possible? I am very glad to hear it. It has been said that every
cloud has its silver lining, and the silver lining of our war cloud is
the redemption of a race and the reunion of severed hearts. War is a
dreadful thing; but worse than the war was the slavery which preceded
"Slavery," said Iola, "was a fearful cancer eating into the nation's
heart, sapping its vitality, and undermining its life."
"And war," said Dr. Gresham, "was the dreadful surgery by which the
disease was eradicated. The cancer has been removed, but for years to
come I fear that we will have to deal with the effects of the disease.
But I believe that we have vitality enough to outgrow those effects."
"I think, Doctor," said Iola, "that there is but one remedy by which our
nation can recover from the evil entailed upon her by slavery."
"What is that?" asked Robert.
"A fuller comprehension of the claims of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and
their application to our national life."
"Yes," said Robert; "while politicians are stumbling on the barren
mountains of fretful controversy and asking what shall we do with the
negro? I hold that Jesus answered that question nearly two thousand
years ago when he said, 'Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you,
do ye even so to them.'"
"Yes," said Dr. Gresham; "the application of that rule in dealing with
the negro would solve the whole problem."
"Slavery," said Mrs. Leroy, "is dead, but the spirit which animated it
still lives; and I think that a reckless disregard for human life is
more the outgrowth of slavery than any actual hatred of the negro."
"The problem of the nation," continued Dr. Gresham, "is not what men
will do with the negro, but what will they do with the reckless, lawless
white men who murder, lynch and burn their fellow-citizens. To me these
lynchings and burnings are perfectly alarming. Both races have reacted
on each other--men fettered the slave and cramped their own souls;
denied him knowledge, and darkened their spiritual insight; subdued him
to the pliancy of submission, and in their turn became the thralls of
public opinion. The negro came here from the heathenism of Africa; but
the young colonies could not take into their early civilization a stream
of barbaric blood without being affected by its influence and the negro,
poor and despised as he is, has laid his hands on our Southern
civilization and helped mould its character."
"Yes," said Mrs. Leroy; "the colored nurse could not nestle her master's
child in her arms, hold up his baby footsteps on their floors, and walk
with him through the impressible and formative period of his young life
without leaving upon him the impress of her hand."
"I am glad," said Robert, "for the whole nation's sake, that slavery
has been destroyed."
"And our work," said Dr. Gresham, "is to build over the desolations of
the past a better and brighter future. The great distinction between
savagery and civilization is the creation and maintenance of law.
A people cannot habitually trample on law and justice without
retrograding toward barbarism. But I am hopeful that time will bring us
changes for the better; that, as we get farther away from the war, we
will outgrow the animosities and prejudices engendered by slavery. The
short-sightedness of our fathers linked the negro's destiny to ours. We
are feeling the friction of the ligatures which bind us together, but I
hope that the time will speedily come when the best members of both
races will unite for the maintenance of law and order and the progress
and prosperity of the country, and that the intelligence and virtue of
the South will be strong to grapple effectually with its ignorance and
"I hope that time will speedily come," said Marie. "My son is in the
South, and I am always anxious for his safety. He is not only a teacher,
but a leading young man in the community where he lives."
"Yes," said Robert, "and when I see the splendid work he is doing in the
South, I am glad that, instead of trying to pass for a white man, he has
cast his lot with us."
"But," answered Dr. Gresham, "he would possess advantages as a white man
which he could not if he were known to be colored."
"Doctor," said Iola, decidedly, "he has greater advantages as a colored
"I do not understand you," said Dr. Gresham, looking somewhat puzzled.
"Doctor," continued Iola, "I do not think life's highest advantages are
those that we can see with our eyes or grasp with our hands. To whom
to-day is the world most indebted--to its millionaires or to its
"Taking it from the ideal standpoint," replied the doctor, "I should say
"To be," continued Iola, "the leader of a race to higher planes of
thought and action, to teach men clearer views of life and duty, and to
inspire their souls with loftier aims, is a far greater privilege than
it is to open the gates of material prosperity and fill every home with
"And I," said Mrs. Leroy, her face aglow with fervid feeling, "would
rather--ten thousand times rather--see Harry the friend and helper of
the poor and ignorant than the companion of men who, under the cover of
night, mask their faces and ride the country on lawless raids."
"Dr. Gresham," said Robert, "we ought to be the leading nation of the
earth, whose influence and example should give light to the world."
"Not simply," said Iola, "a nation building up a great material
prosperity, founding magnificent cities, grasping the commerce of the
world, or excelling in literature, art, and science, but a nation
wearing sobriety as a crown and righteousness as the girdle of her
Dr. Gresham gazed admiringly upon Iola. A glow of enthusiasm overspread
her beautiful, expressive face. There was a rapt and far-off look in her
eye, as if she were looking beyond the present pain to a brighter
future for the race with which she was identified, and felt the
grandeur of a divine commission to labor for its uplifting.
As Dr. Gresham was parting with Robert, he said: "This meeting has been
a very unexpected pleasure. I have spent a delightful evening. I only
regret that I had not others to share it with me. A doctor from the
South, a regular Bourbon, is stopping at the hotel. I wish he could have
been here to-night. Come down to the Concordia, Mr. Johnson, to-morrow
night. If you know any colored man who is a strong champion of equal
rights, bring him along. Good-night. I shall look for you," said the
doctor, as he left the door.
When Robert returned to the parlor he said to Iola: "Dr. Gresham has
invited me to come to his hotel to-morrow night, and to bring some
wide-awake colored man with me. There is a Southerner whom he wishes me
to meet. I suppose he wants to discuss the negro problem, as they call
it. He wants some one who can do justice to the subject. I wonder whom I
can take with me?"
"I will tell you who, I think, will be a capital one to take with you,
and I believe he would go," said Iola.
"Who?" asked Robert.
"Rev. Carmicle, your pastor."
"He is just the one," said Robert, "courteous in his manner and very
scholarly in his attainments. He is a man whom if everybody hated him no
one could despise him."
In the evening Robert and Rev. Carmicle called on Dr. Gresham, and found
Dr. Latrobe, the Southerner, and a young doctor by the name of Latimer,
already there. Dr. Gresham introduced Dr. Latrobe, but it was a new
experience to receive colored men socially. His wits, however, did not
forsake him, and he received the introduction and survived it.
"Permit me, now," said Dr. Gresham, "to introduce you to my friend, Dr.
Latimer, who is attending our convention. He expects to go South and
labor among the colored people. Don't you think that there is a large
field of usefulness before him?"
"Yes," replied Dr. Latrobe, "if he will let politics alone."
"And why let politics alone?" asked Dr. Gresham.
"Because," replied Dr. Latrobe, "we Southerners will never submit to
negro supremacy. We will never abandon our Caucasian civilization to an
"Have you any reason," inquired Rev. Carmicle, "to dread that a race
which has behind it the heathenism of Africa and the slavery of America,
with its inheritance of ignorance and poverty, will be able, in less
than one generation, to domineer over a race which has behind it ages of
dominion, freedom, education, and Christianity?"
A slight shade of vexation and astonishment passed over the face of Dr.
Latrobe. He hesitated a moment, then replied:--
"I am not afraid of the negro as he stands alone, but what I dread is
that in some closely-contested election ambitious men will use him to
hold the balance of power and make him an element of danger. He is
ignorant, poor, and clannish, and they may impact him as their policy
"Any more," asked Robert, "than the leaders of the Rebellion did the
ignorant, poor whites during our late conflict?"
"Ignorance, poverty, and clannishness," said Dr. Gresham, "are more
social than racial conditions, which may be outgrown."
"And I think," said Rev. Carmicle, "that we are outgrowing them as fast
as any other people would have done under the same conditions."
"The negro," replied Dr. Latrobe, "always has been and always will be an
element of discord in our country."
"What, then, is your remedy?" asked Dr. Gresham.
"I would eliminate him from the politics of the country."
"As disfranchisement is a punishment for crime, is it just to punish a
man before he transgresses the law?" asked Dr. Gresham.
"If," said Dr. Latimer, "the negro is ignorant, poor, and clannish, let
us remember that in part of our land it was once a crime to teach him to
read. If he is poor, for ages he was forced to bend to unrequited toil.
If he is clannish, society has segregated him to himself."
"And even," said Robert, "has given him a negro pew in your churches
and a negro seat at your communion table."
"Wisely, or unwisely," said Dr. Gresham, "the Government has put the
ballot in his hands. It is better to teach him to use that ballot aright
than to intimidate him by violence or vitiate his vote by fraud."
"To-day," said Dr. Latimer, "the negro is not plotting in beer-saloons
against the peace and order of society. His fingers are not dripping
with dynamite, neither is he spitting upon your flag, nor flaunting the
red banner of anarchy in your face."
"Power," said Dr. Gresham, "naturally gravitates into the strongest
hands. The class who have the best brain and most wealth can strike with
the heaviest hand. I have too much faith in the inherent power of the
white race to dread the competition of any other people under heaven."
"I think you Northerners fail to do us justice," said Dr. Latrobe. "The
men into whose hands you put the ballot were our slaves, and we would
rather die than submit to them. Look at the carpet-bag governments the
wicked policy of the Government inflicted upon us. It was only done to
"Oh, no!" said Dr. Gresham, flushing, and rising to his feet. "We had no
other alternative than putting the ballot in their hands."
"I will not deny," said Rev. Carmicle, "that we have made woeful
mistakes, but with our antecedents it would have been miraculous if we
had never committed any mistakes or made any blunders."
"They were allies in war," continued Dr. Gresham, "and I am sorry that
we have not done more to protect them in peace."
"Protect them in peace!" said Robert, bitterly. "What protection does
the colored man receive from the hands of the Government? I know of no
civilized country outside of America where men are still burned for real
or supposed crimes."
"Johnson," said Dr. Gresham, compassionately, "it is impossible to have
a policeman at the back of each colored man's chair, and a squad of
soldiers at each crossroad, to detect with certainty, and punish with
celerity, each invasion of his rights. We tried provisional governments
and found them a failure. It seemed like leaving our former allies to be
mocked with the name of freedom and tortured with the essence of
slavery. The ballot is our weapon of defense, and we gave it to them for
"And there," said Dr. Latrobe, emphatically, "is where you signally
failed. We are numerically stronger in Congress to-day than when we went
out. You made the law, but the administration of it is in our hands, and
we are a unit."
"But, Doctor," said Rev. Carmicle, "you cannot willfully deprive the
negro of a single right as a citizen without sending demoralization
through your own ranks."
"I think," said Dr. Latrobe, "that we are right in suppressing the
negro's vote. This is a white man's government, and a white man's
country. We own nineteen-twentieths of the land, and have about the same
ratio of intelligence. I am a white man, and, right or wrong, I go with
"But, Doctor," said Rev. Carmicle, "there are rights more sacred than
the rights of property and superior intelligence."
"What are they?" asked Dr. Latrobe.
"The rights of life and liberty," replied Rev. Carmicle.
"That is true," said Dr. Gresham; "and your Southern civilization will
be inferior until you shall have placed protection to those rights at
its base, not in theory but in fact."
"But, Dr. Gresham, we have to live with these people, and the North is
constantly irritating us by its criticisms."
"The world," said Dr. Gresham, "is fast becoming a vast whispering
gallery, and lips once sealed can now state their own grievances and
appeal to the conscience of the nation, and, as long as a sense of
justice and mercy retains a hold upon the heart of our nation, you
cannot practice violence and injustice without rousing a spirit of
remonstrance. And if it were not so I would be ashamed of my country and
of my race."
"You speak," said Dr. Latrobe, "as if we had wronged the negro by
enslaving him and being unwilling to share citizenship with him. I think
that slavery has been of incalculable value to the negro. It has lifted
him out of barbarism and fetich worship, given him a language of
civilization, and introduced him to the world's best religion. Think
what he was in Africa and what he is in America!"
"The negro," said Dr. Gresham, thoughtfully, "is not the only branch of
the human race which has been low down in the scale of civilization and
freedom, and which has outgrown the measure of his chains. Slavery,
polygamy, and human sacrifices have been practiced among Europeans in
by-gone days; and when Tyndall tells us that out of savages unable to
count to the number of their fingers and speaking only a language of
nouns and verbs, arise at length our Newtons and Shakspeares, I do not
see that the negro could not have learned our language and received our
religion without the intervention of ages of slavery."
"If," said Rev. Carmicle, "Mohammedanism, with its imperfect creed, is
successful in gathering large numbers of negroes beneath the Crescent,
could not a legitimate commerce and the teachings of a pure Christianity
have done as much to plant the standard of the Cross over the ramparts
of sin and idolatry in Africa? Surely we cannot concede that the light
of the Crescent is greater than the glory of the Cross, that there is
less constraining power in the Christ of Calvary than in the Prophet of
Arabia? I do not think that I underrate the difficulties in your way
when I say that you young men are holding in your hands golden
opportunities which it would be madness and folly to throw away. It is
your grand opportunity to help build up a new South, not on the shifting
sands of policy and expediency, but on the broad basis of equal justice
and universal freedom. Do this and you will be blessed, and will make
your life a blessing."
After Robert and Rev. Carmicle had left the hotel, Drs. Latimer,
Gresham, and Latrobe sat silent and thoughtful awhile, when Dr. Gresham
broke the silence by asking Dr. Latrobe how he had enjoyed the evening.
"Very pleasantly," he replied. "I was quite interested in that parson.
Where was he educated?"
"In Oxford, I believe. I was pleased to hear him say that he had no
white blood in his veins."
"I should think not," replied Dr. Latrobe, "from his looks. But one
swallow does not make a summer. It is the exceptions which prove the
"Don't you think," asked Dr. Gresham, "that we have been too hasty in
our judgment of the negro? He has come handicapped into life, and is now
on trial before the world. But it is not fair to subject him to the same
tests that you would a white man. I believe that there are possibilities
of growth in the race which we have never comprehended."
"The negro," said Dr. Latrobe, "is perfectly comprehensible to me. The
only way to get along with him is to let him know his place, and make
him keep it."
"I think," replied Dr. Gresham, "every man's place is the one he is best
"Why," asked Dr. Latimer, "should any place be assigned to the negro
more than to the French, Irish, or German?"
"Oh," replied Dr. Latrobe, "they are all Caucasians."
"Well," said Dr. Gresham, "is all excellence summed up in that branch of
the human race?"
"I think," said Dr. Latrobe, proudly, "that we belong to the highest
race on earth and the negro to the lowest."
"And yet," said Dr. Latimer, "you have consorted with them till you have
bleached their faces to the whiteness of your own. Your children nestle
in their bosoms; they are around you as body servants, and yet if one of
them should attempt to associate with you your bitterest scorn and
indignation would be visited upon them."
"I think," said Dr. Latrobe, "that feeling grows out of our Anglo-Saxon
regard for the marriage relation. These white negroes are of
illegitimate origin, and we would scorn to share our social life with
them. Their blood is tainted."
"Who tainted it?" asked Dr. Latimer, bitterly. "You give absolution to
the fathers, and visit the misfortunes of the mothers upon the
"But, Doctor, what kind of society would we have if we put down the bars
and admitted everybody to social equality?"
"This idea of social equality," said Dr. Latimer, "is only a bugbear
which frightens well-meaning people from dealing justly with the negro.
I know of no place on earth where there is perfect social equality, and
I doubt if there is such a thing in heaven. The sinner who repents on
his death-bed cannot be the equal of St. Paul or the Beloved Disciple."
"Doctor," said Dr. Gresham, "I sometimes think that the final solution
of this question will be the absorption of the negro into our race."
"Never! never!" exclaimed Dr. Latrobe, vehemently. "It would be a death
blow to American civilization."
"Why, Doctor," said Dr. Latimer, "you Southerners began this absorption
before the war. I understand that in one decade the mixed bloods rose
from one-ninth to one-eighth of the population, and that as early as
1663 a law was passed in Maryland to prevent English women from
intermarrying with slaves; and, even now, your laws against
miscegenation presuppose that you apprehend danger from that source."
"Doctor, it is no use talking," replied Dr. Latrobe, wearily. "There
are niggers who are as white as I am, but the taint of blood is there
and we always exclude it."
"How do you know it is there?" asked Dr. Gresham.
"Oh, there are tricks of blood which always betray them. My eyes are
more practiced than yours. I can always tell them. Now, that Johnson is
as white as any man; but I knew he was a nigger the moment I saw him. I
saw it in his eye."
Dr. Latimer smiled at Dr. Latrobe's assertion, but did not attempt to
refute it; and bade him good-night.
"I think," said Dr. Latrobe, "that our war was the great mistake of the
nineteenth century. It has left us very serious complications. We cannot
amalgamate with the negroes. We cannot expatriate them. Now, what are we
to do with them?"
"Deal justly with them," said Dr. Gresham, "and let them alone. Try to
create a moral sentiment in the nation, which will consider a wrong done
to the weakest of them as a wrong done to the whole community. Whenever
you find ministers too righteous to be faithless, cowardly, and time
serving; women too Christly to be scornful; and public men too noble to
be tricky and too honest to pander to the prejudices of the people,
stand by them and give them your moral support."
"Doctor," said Latrobe, "with your views you ought to be a preacher
striving to usher in the millennium."
"It can't come too soon," replied Dr. Gresham.
On the eve of his departure from the city of P----, Dr. Gresham called
on Iola, and found her alone. They talked awhile of reminiscences of the
war and hospital life, when Dr. Gresham, approaching Iola, said:--
"Miss Leroy, I am glad the great object of your life is accomplished,
and that you have found all your relatives. Years have passed since we
parted, years in which I have vainly tried to get a trace of you and
have been baffled, but I have found you at last!" Clasping her hand in
his, he continued, "I would it were so that I should never lose you
again! Iola, will you not grant me the privilege of holding this hand as
mine all through the future of our lives? Your search for your mother is
ended. She is well cared for. Are you not free at last to share with me
my Northern home, free to be mine as nothing else on earth is mine." Dr.
Gresham looked eagerly on Iola's face, and tried to read its varying
expression. "Iola, I learned to love you in the hospital. I have tried
to forget you, but it has been all in vain. Your image is just as deeply
engraven on my heart as it was the day we parted."
"Doctor," she replied, sadly, but firmly, as she withdrew her hand from
his, "I feel now as I felt then, that there is an insurmountable barrier
"What is it, Iola?" asked Dr. Gresham, anxiously.
"It is the public opinion which assigns me a place with the colored
"But what right has public opinion to interfere with our marriage
relations? Why should we yield to its behests?"
"Because it is stronger than we are, and we cannot run counter to it
without suffering its penalties."
"And what are they, Iola? Shadows that you merely dread?"
"No! no! the penalties of social ostracism North and South, except here
and there some grand and noble exceptions. I do not think that you fully
realize how much prejudice against colored people permeates society,
lowers the tone of our religion, and reacts upon the life of the nation.
After freedom came, mamma was living in the city of A----, and wanted to
unite with a Christian church there. She made application for
membership. She passed her examination as a candidate, and was received
as a church member. When she was about to make her first communion, she
unintentionally took her seat at the head of the column. The elder who
was administering the communion gave her the bread in the order in which
she sat, but before he gave her the wine some one touched him on the
shoulder and whispered a word in his ear. He then passed mamma by, gave
the cup to others, and then returned to her. From that rite connected
with the holiest memories of earth, my poor mother returned humiliated
"What a shame!" exclaimed Dr. Gresham, indignantly.
"I have seen," continued Iola, "the same spirit manifested in the North.
Mamma once attempted to do missionary work in this city. One day she
found an outcast colored girl, whom she wished to rescue. She took her
to an asylum for fallen women and made an application for her, but was
refused. Colored girls were not received there. Soon after mamma found
among the colored people an outcast white girl. Mamma's sympathies,
unfettered by class distinction, were aroused in her behalf, and, in
company with two white ladies, she went with the girl to that same
refuge. For her the door was freely opened and admittance readily
granted. It was as if two women were sinking in the quicksands, and on
the solid land stood other women with life-lines in their hands, seeing
the deadly sands slowly creeping up around the hapless victims. To one
they readily threw the lines of deliverance, but for the other there was
not one strand of salvation. Sometime since, to the same asylum, came a
poor fallen girl who had escaped from the clutches of a wicked woman.
For her the door would have been opened, had not the vile woman from
whom she was escaping followed her to that place of refuge and revealed
the fact that she belonged to the colored race. That fact was enough to
close the door upon her, and to send her back to sin and to suffer, and
perhaps to die as a wretched outcast. And yet in this city where a
number of charities are advertised, I do not think there is one of them
which, in appealing to the public, talks more religion than the managers
of this asylum. This prejudice against the colored race environs our
lives and mocks our aspirations."
"Iola, I see no use in your persisting that you are colored when your
eyes are as blue and complexion as white as mine."
"Doctor, were I your wife, are there not people who would caress me as
a white woman who would shrink from me in scorn if they knew I had one
drop of negro blood in my veins? When mistaken for a white woman, I
should hear things alleged against the race at which my blood would
boil. No, Doctor, I am not willing to live under a shadow of concealment
which I thoroughly hate as if the blood in my veins were an undetected
crime of my soul."
"Iola, dear, surely you paint the picture too darkly."
"Doctor, I have painted it with my heart's blood. It is easier to
outgrow the dishonor of crime than the disabilities of color. You have
created in this country an aristocracy of color wide enough to include
the South with its treason and Utah with its abominations, but too
narrow to include the best and bravest colored man who bared his breast
to the bullets of the enemy during your fratricidal strife. Is not the
most arrant Rebel to-day more acceptable to you than the most faithful
"No! no!" exclaimed Dr. Gresham, vehemently. "You are wrong. I belong to
the Grand Army of the Republic. We have no separate State Posts for the
colored people, and, were such a thing proposed, the majority of our
members, I believe, would be against it. In Congress colored men have
the same seats as white men, and the color line is slowly fading out in
our public institutions."
"But how is it in the Church?" asked Iola.
"The Church is naturally conservative. It preserves old truths, even if
it is somewhat slow in embracing new ideas. It has its social as well as
its spiritual side. Society is woman's realm. The majority of church
members are women, who are said to be the aristocratic element of our
country. I fear that one of the last strongholds of this racial
prejudice will be found beneath the shadow of some of our churches. I
think, on account of this social question, that large bodies of
Christian temperance women and other reformers, in trying to reach the
colored people even for their own good, will be quicker to form
separate associations than our National Grand Army, whose ranks are open
to black and white, liberals and conservatives, saints and agnostics.
But, Iola, we have drifted far away from the question. No one has a
right to interfere with our marriage if we do not infringe on the rights
"Doctor," she replied, gently, "I feel that our paths must diverge. My
life-work is planned. I intend spending my future among the colored
people of the South."
"My dear friend," he replied, anxiously, "I am afraid that you are
destined to sad disappointment. When the novelty wears off you will be
disillusioned, and, I fear, when the time comes that you can no longer
serve them they will forget your services and remember only your
"But, Doctor, they need me; and I am sure when I taught among them they
were very grateful for my services."
"I think," he replied, "these people are more thankful than grateful."
"I do not think so; and if I did it would not hinder me from doing all
in my power to help them. I do not expect all the finest traits of
character to spring from the hot-beds of slavery and caste. What matters
it if they do forget the singer, so they don't forget the song? No,
Doctor, I don't think that I could best serve my race by forsaking them
and marrying you."
"Iola," he exclaimed, passionately, "if you love your race, as you call
it, work for it, live for it, suffer for it, and, if need be, die for
it; but don't marry for it. Your education has unfitted you for social
life among them."
"It was," replied Iola, "through their unrequited toil that I was
educated, while they were compelled to live in ignorance. I am indebted
to them for the power I have to serve them. I wish other Southern women
felt as I do. I think they could do so much to help the colored people
at their doors if they would look at their opportunities in the light of
the face of Jesus Christ. Nor am I wholly unselfish in allying myself
with the colored people. All the rest of my family have done so. My dear
grandmother is one of the excellent of the earth, and we all love her
too much to ignore our relationship with her. I did not choose my lot in
life, and the simplest thing I can do is to accept the situation and do
the best I can."
"And is this your settled purpose?" he asked, sadly.
"It is, Doctor," she replied, tenderly but firmly. "I see no other. I
must serve the race which needs me most."
"Perhaps you are right," he replied; "but I cannot help feeling sad that
our paths, which met so pleasantly, should diverge so painfully. And
yet, not only the freedmen, but the whole country, need such helpful,
self-sacrificing teachers as you will prove; and if earnest prayers and
holy wishes can brighten your path, your lines will fall in the
As he rose to go, sympathy, love, and admiration were blended in the
parting look he gave her; but he felt it was useless to attempt to
divert her from her purpose. He knew that for the true reconstruction of
the country something more was needed than bayonets and bullets, or the
schemes of selfish politicians or plotting demagogues. He knew that the
South needed the surrender of the best brain and heart of the country to
build, above the wastes of war, more stately temples of thought and
DR. LATROBE'S MISTAKE.
On the morning previous to their departure for their respective homes,
Dr. Gresham met Dr. Latrobe in the parlor of the Concordia.
"How," asked Dr. Gresham, "did you like Dr. Latimer's paper?"
"Very much, indeed. It was excellent. He is a very talented young man.
He sits next to me at lunch and I have conversed with him several times.
He is very genial and attractive, only he seems to be rather cranky on
the negro question. I hope if he comes South that he will not make the
mistake of mixing up with the negroes. It would be throwing away his
influence and ruining his prospects. He seems to be well versed in
science and literature and would make a very delightful accession to our
"I think," replied Dr. Gresham, "that he is an honor to our profession.
He is one of the finest specimens of our young manhood."
Just then Dr. Latimer entered the room. Dr. Latrobe arose and, greeting
him cordially, said: "I was delighted with your paper; it was full of
thought and suggestion."
"Thank you," answered Dr. Latimer, "it was my aim to make it so."
"And you succeeded admirably," replied Dr. Latrobe. "I could not help
thinking how much we owe to heredity and environment."
"Yes," said Dr. Gresham. "Continental Europe yearly sends to our shores
subjects to be developed into citizens. Emancipation has given us
millions of new citizens, and to them our influence and example should
be a blessing and not a curse."
"Well," said Dr. Latimer, "I intend to go South, and help those who so
much need helpers from their own ranks."
"I hope," answered Dr. Latrobe, "that if you go South you will only
sustain business relations with the negroes, and not commit the folly of
equalizing yourself with them."
"Why not?" asked Dr. Latimer, steadily looking him in the eye.
"Because in equalizing yourself with them you drag us down; and our
social customs must be kept intact."
"You have been associating with me at the convention for several days; I
do not see that the contact has dragged you down, has it?"
"You! What has that got to do with associating with niggers?" asked Dr.
"The blood of that race is coursing through my veins. I am one of them,"
replied Dr. Latimer, proudly raising his head.
"You!" exclaimed Dr. Latrobe, with an air of profound astonishment and
"Yes;" interposed Dr. Gresham, laughing heartily at Dr. Latrobe's
discomfiture. "He belongs to that negro race both by blood and choice.
His father's mother made overtures to receive him as her grandson and
heir, but he has nobly refused to forsake his mother's people and has
cast his lot with them."
"And I," said Dr. Latimer, "would have despised myself if I had done
"Well, well," said Dr. Latrobe, rising, "I was never so deceived before.
Dr. Latrobe had thought he was clear-sighted enough to detect the
presence of negro blood when all physical traces had disappeared. But he
had associated with Dr. Latimer for several days, and admired his
talent, without suspecting for one moment his racial connection. He
could not help feeling a sense of vexation at the signal mistake he had
Dr. Frank Latimer was the natural grandson of a Southern lady, in whose
family his mother had been a slave. The blood of a proud aristocratic
ancestry was flowing through his veins, and generations of blood
admixture had effaced all trace of his negro lineage. His complexion was
blonde, his eye bright and piercing, his lips firm and well moulded; his
manner very affable; his intellect active and well stored with
information. He was a man capable of winning in life through his rich
gifts of inheritance and acquirements. When freedom came, his mother,
like Hagar of old, went out into the wide world to seek a living for
herself and child. Through years of poverty she labored to educate her
child, and saw the glad fruition of her hopes when her son graduated as
an M.D. from the University of P----.
After his graduation he met his father's mother, who recognized him by
his resemblance to her dear, departed son. All the mother love in her
lonely heart awoke, and she was willing to overlook "the missing link of
matrimony," and adopt him as her heir, if he would ignore his identity
with the colored race.
Before him loomed all the possibilities which only birth and blood can
give a white man in our Democratic country. But he was a man of too much
sterling worth of character to be willing to forsake his mother's race
for the richest advantages his grandmother could bestow.
Dr. Gresham had met Dr. Latimer at the beginning of the convention, and
had been attracted to him by his frank and genial manner. One morning,
when conversing with him, Dr. Gresham had learned some of the salient
points of his history, which, instead of repelling him, had only
deepened his admiration for the young doctor. He was much amused when he
saw the pleasant acquaintanceship between him and Dr. Latrobe, but they
agreed to be silent about his racial connection until the time came when
they were ready to divulge it; and they were hugely delighted at his
VISITORS FROM THE SOUTH.
"Mamma is not well," said Iola to Robert. "I spoke to her about sending
for a doctor, but she objected and I did not insist."
"I will ask Dr. Latimer, whom I met at the Concordia, to step in. He is
a splendid young fellow. I wish we had thousands like him."
In the evening the doctor called. Without appearing to make a
professional visit he engaged Marie in conversation, watched her
carefully, and came to the conclusion that her failing health proceeded
more from mental than physical causes.
"I am so uneasy about Harry," said Mrs. Leroy. "He is so fearless and
outspoken. I do wish the attention of the whole nation could be turned
to the cruel barbarisms which are a national disgrace. I think the term
'bloody shirt' is one of the most heartless phrases ever invented to
divert attention from cruel wrongs and dreadful outrages."
Just then Iola came in and was introduced by her uncle to Dr. Latimer,
to whom the introduction was a sudden and unexpected pleasure.
After an interchange of courtesies, Marie resumed the conversation,
saying: "Harry wrote me only last week that a young friend of his had
lost his situation because he refused to have his pupils strew flowers
on the streets through which Jefferson Davis was to pass."
"I think," said Dr. Latimer, indignantly, "that the Israelites had just
as much right to scatter flowers over the bodies of the Egyptians, when
the waves threw back their corpses on the shores of the Red Sea, as
these children had to strew the path of Jefferson Davis with flowers. We
want our boys to grow up manly citizens, and not cringing sycophants.
When do you expect your son, Mrs. Leroy?"
"Some time next week," answered Marie.
"And his presence will do you more good than all the medicine in my
"I hope, Doctor," said Mrs. Leroy, "that we will not lose sight of you,
now that your professional visit is ended; for I believe your visit was
the result of a conspiracy between Iola and her uncle."
Dr. Latimer laughed, as he answered, "Ah, Mrs. Leroy, I see you have
found us all out."
"Oh, Doctor," exclaimed Iola, with pleasing excitement, "there is a
young lady coming here to visit me next week. Her name is Miss Lucille
Delany, and she is my ideal woman. She is grand, brave, intellectual,
"Is that so? She would make some man an excellent wife," replied Dr.
"Now isn't that perfectly manlike," answered Iola, smiling. "Mamma, what
do you think of that? Did any of you gentlemen ever see a young woman of
much ability that you did not look upon as a flotsam all adrift until
some man had appropriated her?"
"I think, Miss Leroy, that the world's work, if shared, is better done
than when it is performed alone. Don't you think your life-work will be
better done if some one shares it with you?" asked Dr. Latimer, slowly,
and with a smile in his eyes.
"That would depend on the person who shared it," said Iola, faintly
"Here," said Robert, a few evenings after this conversation, as he
handed Iola a couple of letters, "is something which will please you."
Iola took the letters, and, after reading one of them, said: "Miss
Delany and Harry will be here on Wednesday; and this one is an
invitation which also adds to my enjoyment."
"What is it?" asked Marie; "an invitation to a hop or a german?"
"No; but something which I value far more. We are all invited to Mr.
Stillman's to a _conversazione_."
"What is the object?"
"His object is to gather some of the thinkers and leaders of the race to
consult on subjects of vital interest to our welfare. He has invited Dr.
Latimer, Professor Gradnor, of North Carolina, Mr. Forest, of New York,
Hon. Dugdale, Revs. Carmicle, Cantnor, Tunster, Professor Langhorne, of
Georgia, and a few ladies, Mrs. Watson, Miss Brown, and others."
"I am glad that it is neither a hop nor a german," said Iola, "but
something for which I have been longing."
"Why, Iola," asked Robert, "don't you believe in young people having a
"Oh, yes," answered Iola, seriously, "I believe in young people having
amusements and recreations; but the times are too serious for us to
attempt to make our lives a long holiday."
"Well, Iola," answered Robert, "this is the first holiday we have had
in two hundred and fifty years, and you shouldn't be too exacting."
"Yes," replied Marie, "human beings naturally crave enjoyment, and if
not furnished with good amusements they are apt to gravitate to low
"Some one," said Robert, "has said that the Indian belongs to an old
race and looks gloomily back to the past, and that the negro belongs to
a young race and looks hopefully towards the future."
"If that be so," replied Marie, "our race-life corresponds more to the
follies of youth than the faults of maturer years."
On Dr. Latimer's next visit he was much pleased to see a great change in
Marie's appearance. Her eye had grown brighter, her step more elastic,
and the anxiety had faded from her face. Harry had arrived, and with him
came Miss Delany.
"Good evening, Dr. Latimer," said Iola, cheerily, as she entered the
room with Miss Lucille Delany. "This is my friend, Miss Delany, from
Georgia. Were she not present I would say she is one of the grandest
women in America."
"I am very much pleased to meet you," said Dr. Latimer, cordially; "I
have heard Miss Leroy speak of you. We were expecting you," he added,
with a smile.
Just then Harry entered the room, and Iola presented him to Dr. Latimer,
saying, "This is my brother, about whom mamma was so anxious."
"Had you a pleasant journey?" asked Dr. Latimer, after the first
greetings were over.
"Not especially," answered Miss Delany. "Southern roads are not always
very pleasant to travel. When Mr. Leroy entered the cars at A----, where
he was known, had he taken his seat among the white people he would have
been remanded to the colored."
"But after awhile," said Harry, "as Miss Delany and myself were sitting
together, laughing and chatting, a colored man entered the car, and,
mistaking me for a white man, asked the conductor to have me removed,
and I had to insist that I was colored in order to be permitted to
remain. It would be ludicrous, if it were not vexatious, to be too white
to be black, and too black to be white."
"Caste plays such fantastic tricks in this country," said Dr. Latimer.
"I tell Mr. Leroy," said Miss Delany, "that when he returns he must put
a label on himself, saying, 'I am a colored man,' to prevent annoyance."
FRIENDS IN COUNCIL.
On the following Friday evening, Mr. Stillman's pleasant, spacious
parlors were filled to overflowing with a select company of earnest men
and women deeply interested in the welfare of the race.
Bishop Tunster had prepared a paper on "Negro Emigration." Dr. Latimer
opened the discussion by speaking favorably of some of the salient
points, but said:--
"I do not believe self-exilement is the true remedy for the wrongs of
the negro. Where should he go if he left this country?"
"Go to Africa," replied Bishop Tunster, in his bluff, hearty tones. "I
believe that Africa is to be redeemed to civilization, and that the
negro is to be gathered into the family of nations and recognized as a
man and a brother."
"Go to Africa?" repeated Professor Langhorne, of Georgia. "Does the
United States own one foot of African soil? And have we not been
investing our blood in the country for ages?"
"I am in favor of missionary efforts," said Professor Gradnor, of North
Carolina, "for the redemption of Africa, but I see no reason for
expatriating ourselves because some persons do not admire the color of
"I do not believe," said Mr. Stillman, "in emptying on the shores of
Africa a horde of ignorant, poverty-stricken people, as missionaries of
civilization or Christianity. And while I am in favor of missionary
efforts, there is need here for the best heart and brain to work in
unison for justice and righteousness."
"America," said Miss Delany, "is the best field for human development.
God has not heaped up our mountains with such grandeur, flooded our
rivers with such majesty, crowned our valleys with such fertility,
enriched our mines with such wealth, that they should only minister to
grasping greed and sensuous enjoyment."
"Climate, soil, and physical environments," said Professor Gradnor,
"have much to do with shaping national characteristics. If in Africa,
under a tropical sun, the negro has lagged behind other races in the
march of civilization, at least for once in his history he has, in this
country, the privilege of using climatic advantages and developing under
"Yes," replied Dr. Latimer, "and I do not wish our people to become
restless and unsettled before they have tried one generation of
"I am always glad," said Mr. Forest, a tall, distinguished-looking
gentleman from New York, "when I hear of people who are ill treated in
one section of the country emigrating to another. Men who are deaf to
the claims of mercy, and oblivious to the demands of justice, can feel
when money is slipping from their pockets."
"The negro," said Hon. Dugdale, "does not present to my mind the picture
of an effete and exhausted people, destined to die out before a stronger
race. Gilbert Haven once saw a statue which suggested this thought, 'I
am black, but comely; the sun has looked down upon me, but I will teach
you who despise me to feel that I am your superior.' The men who are
acquiring property and building up homes in the South show us what
energy and determination may do even in that part of the country. I
believe such men can do more to conquer prejudice than if they spent all
their lives in shouting for their rights and ignoring their duties. No!
as there are millions of us in this country, I think it best to settle
down and work out our own salvation here."
"How many of us to-day," asked Professor Langhorne, "would be teaching
in the South, if every field of labor in the North was as accessible to
us as to the whites? It has been estimated that a million young white
men have left the South since the war, and, had our chances been equal
to theirs, would we have been any more willing to stay in the South with
those who need us than they? But this prejudice, by impacting us
together, gives us a common cause and brings our intellect in contact
with the less favored of our race."
"I do not believe," said Miss Delany, "that the Southern white people
themselves desire any wholesale exodus of the colored from their labor
fields. It would be suicidal to attempt their expatriation."
"History," said Professor Langhorne, "tells that Spain was once the
place where barbarian Europe came to light her lamp. Seven hundred years
before there was a public lamp in London you might have gone through the
streets of Cordova amid ten miles of lighted lamps, and stood there on
solidly paved land, when hundreds of years afterwards, in Paris, on a
rainy day you would have sunk to your ankles in the mud. But she who
bore the name of the 'Terror of Nations,' and the 'Queen of the Ocean,'
was not strong enough to dash herself against God's law of retribution
and escape unscathed. She inaugurated a crusade of horror against a
million of her best laborers and artisans. Vainly she expected the
blessing of God to crown her work of violence. Instead of seeing the
fruition of her hopes in the increased prosperity of her land,
depression and paralysis settled on her trade and business. A fearful
blow was struck at her agriculture; decay settled on her manufactories;
money became too scarce to pay the necessary expenses of the king's
exchequer; and that once mighty empire became a fallen kingdom, pierced
by her crimes and dragged down by her transgressions."
"We did not," said Iola, "place the bounds of our habitation. And I
believe we are to be fixtures in this country. But beyond the shadows I
see the coruscation of a brighter day; and we can help usher it in, not
by answering hate with hate, or giving scorn for scorn, but by striving
to be more generous, noble, and just. It seems as if all creation
travels to respond to the song of the Herald angels, 'Peace on earth,
good-will toward men.'"
The next paper was on "Patriotism," by Rev. Cantnor. It was a paper in
which the white man was extolled as the master race, and spoke as if it
were a privilege for the colored man to be linked to his destiny and to
live beneath the shadow of his power. He asserted that the white race of
this country is the broadest, most Christian, and humane of that branch
of the human family.
Dr. Latimer took exception to his position. "Law," he said, "is the
pivot on which the whole universe turns; and obedience to law is the
gauge by which a nation's strength or weakness is tried. We have had two
evils by which our obedience to law has been tested--slavery and the
liquor traffic. How have we dealt with them both? We have been weighed
in the balance and found wanting. Millions of slaves and serfs have been
liberated during this century, but not even in semi-barbaric Russia,
heathen Japan, or Catholic Spain has slavery been abolished through such
a fearful conflict as it was in the United States. The liquor traffic
still sends its floods of ruin and shame to the habitations of men, and
no political party has been found with enough moral power and numerical
strength to stay the tide of death."
"I think," said Professor Gradnor, "that what our country needs is truth
more than flattery. I do not think that our moral life keeps pace with
our mental development and material progress. I know of no civilized
country on the globe, Catholic, Protestant, or Mohammedan, where life is
less secure than it is in the South. Nearly eighteen hundred years ago
the life of a Roman citizen in Palestine was in danger from mob
violence. That pagan government threw around him a wall of living clay,
consisting of four hundred and seventy men, when more than forty Jews
had bound themselves with an oath that they would neither eat nor drink
until they had taken the life of the Apostle Paul. Does not true
patriotism demand that citizenship should be as much protected in
Christian America as it was in heathen Rome?"
"I would have our people," said Miss Delany, "more interested in
politics. Instead of forgetting the past, I would have them hold in
everlasting remembrance our great deliverance. Hitherto we have never
had a country with tender, precious memories to fill our eyes with
tears, or glad reminiscences to thrill our hearts with pride and joy. We
have been aliens and outcasts in the land of our birth. But I want my
pupils to do all in their power to make this country worthy of their
deepest devotion and loftiest patriotism. I want them to feel that its
glory is their glory, its dishonor their shame."
"Our esteemed friend, Mrs. Watson," said Iola, "sends regrets that she
cannot come, but has kindly favored us with a poem, called the "Rallying
Cry." In her letter she says that, although she is no longer young, she
feels that in the conflict for the right there's room for young as well
as old. She hopes that we will here unite the enthusiasm of youth with
the experience of age, and that we will have a pleasant and profitable
conference. Is it your pleasure that the poem be read at this stage of
our proceedings, or later on?"
"Let us have it now," answered Harry, "and I move that Miss Delany be
chosen to lend to the poem the charm of her voice."
"I second the motion," said Iola, smiling, and handing the poem to Miss
Miss Delany took the poem and read it with fine effect. The spirit of
the poem had entered her soul.
A RALLYING CRY.
Oh, children of the tropics,
Amid our pain and wrong
Have you no other mission
Than music, dance, and song?
When through the weary ages
Our dripping tears still fall,
Is this a time to dally
With pleasure's silken thrall?
Go, muffle all your viols;
As heroes learn to stand,
With faith in God's great justice
Nerve every heart and hand.
Dream not of ease nor pleasure,
Nor honor, wealth, nor fame,
Till from the dust you've lifted
Our long-dishonored name;
And crowned that name with glory
By deeds of holy worth,
To shine with light emblazoned,
The noblest name on earth.
Count life a dismal failure,
Unblessing and unblest,
That seeks 'mid ease inglorious
For pleasure or for rest.
With courage, strength, and valor
Your lives and actions brace;
Shrink not from toil or hardship,
And dangers bravely face.
Engrave upon your banners,
In words of golden light,
That honor, truth, and justice
Are more than godless might.
Above earth's pain and sorrow
Christ's dying face I see;
I hear the cry of anguish:--
"Why hast thou forsaken me?"
In the pallor of that anguish
I see the only light,
To flood with peace and gladness
Earth's sorrow, pain, and night.
Arrayed in Christly armor
'Gainst error, crime, and sin,
The victory can't be doubtful,
For God is sure to win.
The next paper was by Miss Iola Leroy, on the "Education of Mothers."
"I agree," said Rev. Eustace, of St. Mary's parish, "with the paper. The
great need of the race is enlightened mothers."
"And enlightened fathers, too," added Miss Delany, quickly. "If there is
anything I chafe to see it is a strong, hearty man shirking his burdens,
putting them on the shoulders of his wife, and taking life easy for
"I always pity such mothers," interposed Iola, tenderly.
"I think," said Miss Delany, with a flash in her eye and a ring of
decision in her voice, "that such men ought to be drummed out of town!"
As she spoke, there was an expression which seemed to say, "And I would
like to help do it!"
Harry smiled, and gave her a quick glance of admiration.
"I do not think," said Mrs. Stillman, "that we can begin too early to
teach our boys to be manly and self-respecting, and our girls to be
useful and self-reliant."
"You know," said Mrs. Leroy, "that after the war we were thrown upon the
nation a homeless race to be gathered into homes, and a legally
unmarried race to be taught the sacredness of the marriage relation. We
must instill into our young people that the true strength of a race
means purity in women and uprightness in men; who can say, with Sir
'My strength is the strength of ten,
Because my heart is pure.'
And where this is wanting neither wealth nor culture can make up the
"There is a field of Christian endeavor which lies between the
school-house and the pulpit, which needs the hand of a woman more in
private than in public," said Miss Delany.
"Yes, I have often felt the need of such work in my own parish. We need
a union of women with the warmest hearts and clearest brains to help in
the moral education of the race," said Rev. Eustace.
"Yes," said Iola, "if we would have the prisons empty we must make the
homes more attractive."
"In civilized society," replied Dr. Latimer, "there must be restraint
either within or without. If parents fail to teach restraint within,
society has her check-reins without in the form of chain-gangs, prisons,
and the gallows."
The closing paper was on the "Moral Progress of the Race," by Hon.
Dugdale. He said: "The moral progress of the race was not all he could
desire, yet he could not help feeling that, compared with other races,
the outlook was not hopeless. I am so sorry to see, however, that in
some States there is an undue proportion of colored people in prisons."
"I think," answered Professor Langhorne, of Georgia, "that this is
owing to a partial administration of law in meting out punishment to
colored offenders. I know red-handed murderers who walk in this Republic
unwhipped of justice, and I have seen a colored woman sentenced to
prison for weeks for stealing twenty-five cents. I knew a colored girl
who was executed for murder when only a child in years. And it was
through the intervention of a friend of mine, one of the bravest young
men of the South, that a boy of fifteen was saved from the gallows."
"When I look," said Mr. Forest, "at the slow growth of modern
civilization--the ages which have been consumed in reaching our present
altitude, and see how we have outgrown slavery, feudalism, and religious
persecutions, I cannot despair of the future of the race."
"Just now," said Dr. Latimer, "we have the fearful grinding and friction
which comes in the course of an adjustment of the new machinery of
freedom in the old ruts of slavery. But I am optimistic enough to
believe that there will yet be a far higher and better Christian
civilization than our country has ever known."
"And in that civilization I believe the negro is to be an important
factor," said Rev. Cantnor.
"I believe it also," said Miss Delany, hopefully, "and this thought has
been a blessed inspiration to my life. When I come in contact with
Christless prejudices, I feel that my life is too much a part of the
Divine plan, and invested with too much intrinsic worth, for me to be
the least humiliated by indignities that beggarly souls can inflict. I
feel more pitiful than resentful to those who do not know how much they
miss by living mean, ignoble lives."
"My heart," said Iola, "is full of hope for the future. Pain and
suffering are the crucibles out of which come gold more fine than the
pavements of heaven, and gems more precious than the foundations of the
"If," said Mrs. Leroy, "pain and suffering are factors in human
development, surely we have not been counted too worthless to suffer."
"And is there," continued Iola, "a path which we have trodden in this
country, unless it be the path of sin, into which Jesus Christ has not
put His feet and left it luminous with the light of His steps? Has the
negro been poor and homeless? The birds of the air had nests and the
foxes had holes, but the Son of man had not where to lay His head. Has
our name been a synonym for contempt? 'He shall be called a Nazarene.'
Have we been despised and trodden under foot? Christ was despised and
rejected of men. Have we been ignorant and unlearned? It was said of
Jesus Christ, 'How knoweth this man letters, never having learned?' Have
we been beaten and bruised in the prison-house of bondage? 'They took
Jesus and scourged Him.' Have we been slaughtered, our bones scattered
at the graves' mouth? He was spit upon by the mob, smitten and mocked by
the rabble, and died as died Rome's meanest criminal slave. To-day that
cross of shame is a throne of power. Those robes of scorn have changed
to habiliments of light, and that crown of mockery to a diadem of glory.
And never, while the agony of Gethsemane and the sufferings of Calvary
have their hold upon my heart, will I recognize any religion as His
which despises the least of His brethren."
As Iola finished, there was a ring of triumph in her voice, as if she
were reviewing a path she had trodden with bleeding feet, and seen it
change to lines of living light. Her soul seemed to be flashing through
the rare loveliness of her face and etherealizing its beauty.
Every one was spell-bound. Dr. Latimer was entranced, and, turning to
Hon. Dugdale, said, in a low voice and with deep-drawn breath, "She is
Hon. Dugdale turned, gave a questioning look, then replied, "She is
strangely beautiful! Do you know her?"
"Yes; I have met her several times. I accompanied her here to-night. The
tones of her voice are like benedictions of peace; her words a call to
higher service and nobler life."
Just then Rev. Carmicle was announced. He had been on a Southern tour,
and had just returned.
"Oh, Doctor," exclaimed Mrs. Stillman, "I am delighted to see you. We
were about to adjourn, but we will postpone action to hear from you."
"Thank you," replied Rev. Carmicle. "I have not the cue to the meeting,
and will listen while I take breath."
"Pardon me," answered Mrs. Stillman. "I should have been more thoughtful
than to press so welcome a guest into service before I had given him
time for rest and refreshment; but if the courtesy failed on my lips it
did not fail in my heart. I wanted our young folks to see one of our
thinkers who had won distinction before the war."
"My dear friend," said Rev. Carmicle, smiling, "some of these young
folks will look on me as a back number. You know the cry has already
gone forth, 'Young men to the front.'"
"But we need old men for counsel," interposed Mr. Forest, of New York.
"Of course," said Rev. Carmicle, "we older men would rather retire
gracefully than be relegated or hustled to a back seat. But I am pleased
to see doors open to you which were closed to us, and opportunities
which were denied us embraced by you."
"How," asked Hon. Dugdale, "do you feel in reference to our people's
condition in the South?"
"Very hopeful, although at times I cannot help feeling anxious about
their future. I was delighted with my visits to various institutions of
learning, and surprised at the desire manifested among the young people
to obtain an education. Where toil-worn mothers bent beneath their heavy
burdens their more favored daughters are enjoying the privileges of
education. Young people are making recitations in Greek and Latin where
it was once a crime to teach their parents to read. I also became
acquainted with colored professors and presidents of colleges. Saw young
ladies who had graduated as doctors. Comfortable homes have succeeded
old cabins of slavery. Vast crops have been raised by free labor. I read
with interest and pleasure a number of papers edited by colored men. I
saw it estimated that two millions of our people had learned to read,
and I feel deeply grateful to the people who have supplied us with
teachers who have stood their ground so nobly among our people."
"But," asked Mr. Forest, "you expressed fears about the future of our
race. From whence do your fears arise?"
"From the unfortunate conditions which slavery has entailed upon that
section of our country. I dread the results of that racial feeling which
ever and anon breaks out into restlessness and crime. Also, I am
concerned about the lack of home training for those for whom the
discipline of the plantation has been exchanged for the penalties of
prisons and chain-gangs. I am sorry to see numbers of our young men
growing away from the influence of the church and drifting into prisons.
I also fear that in some sections, as colored men increase in wealth and
intelligence, there will be an increase of race rivalry and jealousy. It
is said that savages, by putting their ears to the ground, can hear a
far-off tread. So, to-day, I fear that there are savage elements in our
civilization which hear the advancing tread of the negro and would
retard his coming. It is the incarnation of these elements that I dread.
It is their elimination I do so earnestly desire. Whether it be outgrown
or not is our unsolved problem. Time alone will tell whether or not the
virus of slavery and injustice has too fully permeated our Southern
civilization for a complete recovery. Nations, honey-combed by vice,
have fallen beneath the weight of their iniquities. Justice is always
uncompromising in its claims and inexorable in its demands. The laws of
the universe are never repealed to accommodate our follies."
"Surely," said Bishop Tunster, "the negro has a higher mission than that
of aimlessly drifting through life and patiently waiting for death."
"We may not," answered Rev. Carmicle, "have the same dash, courage, and
aggressiveness of other races, accustomed to struggle, achievement, and
dominion, but surely the world needs something better than the results
of arrogance, aggressiveness, and indomitable power. For the evils of
society there are no solvents as potent as love and justice, and our
greatest need is not more wealth and learning, but a religion replete
with life and glowing with love. Let this be the impelling force in the
race and it cannot fail to rise in the scale of character and
"And," said Dr. Latimer, "instead of narrowing our sympathies to mere
racial questions, let us broaden them to humanity's wider issues."
"Let us," replied Rev. Carmicle, "pass it along the lines, that to be
willfully ignorant is to be shamefully criminal. Let us teach our people
not to love pleasure or to fear death, but to learn the true value of
life, and to do their part to eliminate the paganism of caste from our
holy religion and the lawlessness of savagery from our civilization."
* * * * *
"How did you enjoy the evening, Marie?" asked Robert, as they walked
"I was interested and deeply pleased," answered Marie.
"I," said Robert, "was thinking of the wonderful changes that
have come to us since the war. When I sat in those well-lighted,
beautifully-furnished rooms, I was thinking of the meetings we used to
have in by-gone days. How we used to go by stealth into lonely woods and
gloomy swamps, to tell of our hopes and fears, sorrows and trials. I
hope that we will have many more of these gatherings. Let us have the
next one here."
"I am sure," said Marie, "I would gladly welcome such a conference at
any time. I think such meetings would be so helpful to our young
"Doctor," said Iola, as they walked home from the _conversazione_, "I
wish I could do something more for our people than I am doing. I taught
in the South till failing health compelled me to change my employment.
But, now that I am well and strong, I would like to do something of
lasting service for the race."
"Why not," asked Dr. Latimer, "write a good, strong book which would be
helpful to them? I think there is an amount of dormant talent among us,
and a large field from which to gather materials for such a book."
"I would do it, willingly, if I could; but one needs both leisure and
money to make a successful book. There is material among us for the
broadest comedies and the deepest tragedies, but, besides money and
leisure, it needs patience, perseverance, courage, and the hand of an
artist to weave it into the literature of the country."
"Miss Leroy, you have a large and rich experience; you possess a vivid
imagination and glowing fancy. Write, out of the fullness of your heart,
a book to inspire men and women with a deeper sense of justice and
"Doctor," replied Iola, "I would do it if I could, not for the money it
might bring, but for the good it might do. But who believes any good can
come out of the black Nazareth?"
"Miss Leroy, out of the race must come its own thinkers and writers.
Authors belonging to the white race have written good racial books, for
which I am deeply grateful, but it seems to be almost impossible for a
white man to put himself completely in our place. No man can feel the
iron which enters another man's soul."
"Well, Doctor, when I write a book I shall take you for the hero of my
"Why, what have I done," asked Dr. Latimer, in a surprised tone, "that
you should impale me on your pen?"
"You have done nobly," answered Iola, "in refusing your grandmother's
"I only did my duty," he modestly replied.
"But," said Iola, "when others are trying to slip out from the race and
pass into the white basis, I cannot help admiring one who acts as if he
felt that the weaker the race is the closer he would cling to it."
"My mother," replied Dr. Latimer, "faithful and true, belongs to that
race. Where else should I be? But I know a young lady who could have
cast her lot with the favored race, yet chose to take her place with the
freed people, as their teacher, friend, and adviser. This young lady was
alone in the world. She had been fearfully wronged, and to her stricken
heart came a brilliant offer of love, home, and social position. But she
bound her heart to the mast of duty, closed her ears to the syren song,
and could not be lured from her purpose."
A startled look stole over Iola's face, and, lifting her eyes to his,
"Do you know her?"
"Yes, I know her and admire her; and she ought to be made the subject
of a soul-inspiring story. Do you know of whom I speak?"
"How should I, Doctor? I am sure you have not made me your confidante,"
she responded, demurely; then she quickly turned and tripped up the
steps of her home, which she had just reached.
After this conversation Dr. Latimer became a frequent visitor at Iola's
home, and a firm friend of her brother. Harry was at that age when, for
the young and inexperienced, vice puts on her fairest guise and most
seductive smiles. Dr. Latimer's wider knowledge and larger experience
made his friendship for Harry very valuable, and the service he rendered
him made him a favorite and ever-welcome guest in the family.
"Are you all alone," asked Robert, one night, as he entered the cosy
little parlor where Iola sat reading. "Where are the rest of the folks?"
"Mamma and grandma have gone to bed," answered Iola. "Harry and Lucille
are at the concert. They are passionately fond of music, and find
facilities here that they do not have in the South. They wouldn't go to
hear a seraph where they must take a negro seat. I was too tired to go.
Besides, 'two's company and three's a crowd,'" she added, significantly.
"I reckon you struck the nail on the head that time," said Robert,
laughing. "But you have not been alone all the time. Just as I reached
the corner I saw Dr. Latimer leaving the door. I see he still continues
his visits. Who is his patient now?"
"Oh, Uncle Robert," said Iola, smiling and flushing, "he is out with
Harry and Lucille part of the time, and drops in now and then to see us
"Well," said Robert, "I suppose the case is now an affair of the heart.
But I cannot blame him for it," he added, looking fondly on the
beautiful face of his niece, which sorrow had touched only to chisel
into more loveliness. "How do you like him?"
"I must have within me," answered Iola, with unaffected truthfulness, "a
large amount of hero worship. The characters of the Old Testament I most
admire are Moses and Nehemiah. They were willing to put aside their own
advantages for their race and country. Dr. Latimer comes up to my ideal
of a high, heroic manhood."
"I think," answered Robert, smiling archly, "he would be delighted to
hear your opinion of him."
"I tell him," continued Iola, "that he belongs to the days of chivalry.
But he smiles and says, 'he only belongs to the days of hard-pan
"Some one," said Robert, "was saying to-day that he stood in his own
light when he refused his grandmother's offer to receive him as her
"I think," said Iola, "it was the grandest hour of his life when he made
that decision. I have admired him ever since I heard his story."
"But, Iola, think of the advantages he set aside. It was no sacrifice
for me to remain colored, with my lack of education and race sympathies,
but Dr. Latimer had doors open to him as a white man which are forever
closed to a colored man. To be born white in this country is to be born
to an inheritance of privileges, to hold in your hands the keys that
open before you the doors of every occupation, advantage, opportunity,
"I know that, uncle," answered Iola; "but even these advantages are too
dearly bought if they mean loss of honor, true manliness, and self
respect. He could not have retained these had he ignored his mother and
lived under a veil of concealment, constantly haunted by a dread of
detection. The gain would not have been worth the cost. It were better
that he should walk the ruggedest paths of life a true man than tread
the softest carpets a moral cripple."
"I am afraid," said Robert, laying his hand caressingly upon her head,
"that we are destined to lose the light of our home."
"Oh, uncle, how you talk! I never dreamed of what you are thinking,"
answered Iola, half reproachfully.
"And how," asked Robert, "do you know what I am thinking about?"
"My dear uncle, I'm not blind."
"Neither am I," replied Robert, significantly, as he left the room.
Iola's admiration for Dr. Latimer was not a one-sided affair. Day after
day she was filling a larger place in his heart. The touch of her hand
thrilled him with emotion. Her lightest words were an entrancing melody
to his ear. Her noblest sentiments found a response in his heart. In
their desire to help the race their hearts beat in loving unison. One
grand and noble purpose was giving tone and color to their lives and
strengthening the bonds of affection between them.