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Unfettered By Sutton E. Griggs Characters: 5495

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:03

The excitement among the Negroes was so very great that Dorlan decided that something ought to be done to allay it, to the end that the convention which he had called might find a more congenial atmosphere. He issued a call for a public mass meeting, hoping at that meeting to put himself in a better light before the people.

Congressman Bloodworth heard of this proposed mass meeting and chose it as the occasion on which to put an end to Dorlan's life. In his rounds by night he had heard how that Harry Dalton, a ward chairman of the Republican party, was extremely bitter in his feelings toward Dorlan. One night he called at Harry's residence. Morlene met him at the door and his countenance fell. He had not expected to find such intelligence as Morlene's face indicated in a home where dwelled a man as rancorous as Harry had been represented to be. Morlene invited him in. When he saw Harry his spirits rose. His first glance impressed him that Harry could be used as a tool.

Morlene intuitively read sinister purposes in Bloodworth's face. He avoided her searching gaze as much as possible.

"May I have a private interview with you?" asked Bloodworth of Harry.

"Certainly, certainly," said Harry, rising and leading the way to an adjoining room, closing the door behind them. They took seats, Bloodworth putting his chair near to Harry.

"I have come to see you on an important matter," said Bloodworth. "But before I begin I have one question to ask you," he continued. Pausing, and looking directly into Harry's eyes, he asked, "Are you a Republican?"

An angry flush passed over Harry's face. "You insult me, sir, to come into my house to ask me if I am a Republican. I was born a Republican and will die one."

"Don't talk so loud," said Bloodworth, glancing uneasily toward the door, where he thought Morlene might be listening.

"Well, you must not insult me, sir. My color ought to tell you what I am."

"Yes, yes," said Bloodworth, in a sad tone. "There was a time when all colored men were true blue Republicans, but that day is past. A man right here in your ward has gone astray."

"Don't you compare me with that infernal scoundrel, Dorlan Warthell. He claims to be an educated man, and has deserted the Republican party. I could tear his liver out and show it to him, that I could."

"I have come to talk to you about him."

"If you have got any good to say of him, it's no use for you to begin. But if you can tell of any way to get rid of the scoundrel, I am with you."

"Let me tell you my history," said Bloodworth.

Bloodworth now assumed a piteous tone and began: "I am a Southern man. Before the war my father was rich, but would never own a slave, though he lived right in the South.

"When the war broke out, we turned our back on the South and joined the Union Army. That is, my two brothers did. I stayed at home to care for my aged parents.

"When the war was over, the Negroes needed leaders. I decided to lead them. This made all of the Southern white people mad at me, and they called me a scalawag. But I led them just the same, and held office so that the Negroes could say that a Republican was in office. I wanted to go higher. I found a colored boy who was poor but brainy. I gave him all the money I made from politics in return for his help to me. He worked along with me until he had gotten thousands of dollars. Then he left me. He left me just when the Republican party needed him most." Here Bloodworth managed to slip an onion near his eyes and tears appeared.

Harry was deeply moved at this show of emotion. He groaned audibly over the perfidy of the Negro who deserted so true a Republican.

"Yes, Harry," sobbed Bloodworth, "he deserted the party of Lincoln, the party that made his people free, the party that made it possible for you all to be what you are. He deserted me, his true and tried friend. He deserted his own race. Dorlan Warthell is that man."

Harry was now moved to tears-tears of sympathy, tears of shame over the nefarious deed of a colored man, tears of rage.

"I am a Christian," said Harry. "I am a deacon of a church. But I swear by high heaven that no such scoundrel shall be allowed to live! I shall kill him!"

"Nobly spoken! Nobly spoken!" said Bloodworth, grasping Harry's hand warmly. "I am proud that I-that is, that my brothers shed their blood to give freedom to such noble men as you. I am not afraid for the future of your race while such men as you are living."

Harry was grateful to the center of his heart for this tribute to his worth. "May I ever prove worthy of your kind words," said Harry.

"I have no doubt of that. The man who takes Dorlan Warthell out of the way will do enough good to make up for any shortcomings that he might have. I have a well arranged plan for his murder and was only looking for a man worthy of the role of principal actor. Lo, I have found him!"

Bloodworth now unfolded the details of his plot to Harry, and explained to him the part that the latter was to take in the killing.

Morlene, who had listened at the keyhole, had heard in great agony the plottings against the life of Dorlan Warthell. She had no qualms of conscience about listening, for, having seen crime stamped on Bloodworth's face, she had employed the usual method of entrapping criminals-spying.

Bloodworth and Harry were fully determined upon Dorlan's murder. Morlene determined to save his life, even if in so doing she lost her own.

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