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   Chapter 16 A WOMAN AROUSED.

Unfettered By Sutton E. Griggs Characters: 13116

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:03


Morlene fully realized the gravity as well as the delicacy of the situation that confronted her. A murder was being planned, the intended victim being an innocent man and one for whom she entertained the greatest possible respect; while the man chosen to strike the fatal blow was none other than her own husband. Her first impulse was to confront Harry, but sober second thought caused her to abandon this purpose, for she remembered that Harry was headstrong; that he never abandoned anything that he had firmly resolved upon doing. She saw that confronting Harry would only have the effect of causing him to lay his plans the deeper and perhaps so far away that she could not by any means intercept them.

Morlene began to consider the advisability of putting in motion a counter current of sentiment in favor of granting the individual citizen the right of independent action, hoping to create such a broad spirit of tolerance that the party or parties who were to use Harry as a tool would be afraid to carry out their programme of murder.

While Harry and Morlene were sitting at the breakfast table one morning, she said to him, "Harry, I have come across a very good campaign book and would like to act as agent for it during the next few days. Do you object?"

Without looking up Harry replied, "Of course, not," and continued in meditation of what he regarded as Dorlan's traitorous crime. Every now and then he would lay down his knife and fork and rest his hands on the table, his eyes down-cast, so thoroughly was he aroused over Dorlan's presumption in claiming the right to find fault with the Republican party.

When Harry had gone to his work, Morlene took her canvassing outfit and began her labors. She chose with much deliberation the parties to whom she went to sell the book. Her first task upon meeting the party was to set forth the claims of the book. She never failed in effecting a sale, for the parties accosted were willing to pay the price of the book for the privilege of being brought into contact with a woman of such remarkable beauty. They could hardly listen to her recital of the claims of the book for stealing glances at her well shaped, queenly poised head, her pleading, thrilling eyes, her beautiful face, her perfect form. They sought by prolonging the conversation to detain her in their presence as long as possible.

When through talking of her book, Morlene invariably brought up the "Warthell movement" in order that she might discover the temper of the people and find out just how much hope there was of arousing public interest in the matter of securing Dorlan's immunity from attack because he had essayed to pursue an independent course.

A very eminent lawyer, the real head of the Democratic party of the State, expressed himself thus to Morlene:

"To be frank with you, Mrs. Dalton, the fact that the "Warthell movement" might in the end break the solidarity of the Negro vote and cause a fraction of that vote to eventually drift to us, has no charms for the Democratic party. For several reasons we do not desire, at present, a contingent of Negro voters. First of all, the coming of the Negro into our ranks will cause our party to disintegrate, many men now being held in it because they there escape contact with the Negro. In the second place, the Anglo-Saxon habit of thought and the Negro habit of thought are so essentially different that we prefer their separation."

"Please explain yourself," requested Morlene.

"Certainly," said the lawyer, not at all weary of the pleasure of looking at and talking to the beauty. "Let me cite you to a Bible incident," he resumed.

"When Peter, in preaching to the Jews, set forth that God had raised Jesus Christ from the dead, and had bestowed upon Him greater power and glory than He had before possessed, the assertion proved to be a befitting climax to a sermon which resulted in the conversion of some three thousand persons. Paul, in closing a sermon to the Greeks at Athens, alluded to this same resurrection of the dead. Instead of proving to be the effective climax that it was when Peter was preaching to the Jews, it operated as the weakest point in the discourse, for we are told that at that point, 'some mocked,' and the assemblage postponed the hearing. Paul in summing up the difference between the Jew and the Greek habit of thought, remarked that the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom. You note that the very thing that appealed most strongly to the mind of the Jew-the miraculous raising of the Jesus-was the most repellant to the Greek, who, in his search for wisdom, demanded to know the how of every assertion.

"Returning to the Anglo-Saxon and the Negro-I think I can name a number of differences in their mental attitudes:

"1. The Negro's talent is largely acquisitive; that of the Anglo-Saxon, inquisitive.

"2. The Negro is of a restful temperament; the Anglo-Saxon is characterized by a 'restless discontented, striving, burning energy.' As a result the Negro is painfully conservative, while the Anglo-Saxon is daringly progressive.

"3. The Negro deals with the immediate; the Anglo-Saxon has a keen eye for the remote.

"4. The Negro is prone to accept statements that lay claim to being postulates; the Anglo-Saxon is skeptical, examining into the foundation of things.

"5. The Negro is impulsive, and is led to act largely by an immediately exciting stimulus, causing the net results of his labors to appear as a series of fits and jerks; the Anglo-Saxon is deliberate, cautious without stagnation, wary and persistent, and his history reveals an unbroken tendency in a given direction.

"6. Hitherto the preponderating tendency of the Negro has been toward disintegration, showing the lack of a proper measure of fellow-feeling; the tendency of the Anglo-Saxon is toward racial integration.

"7. The Negro proceeds by analogies; the Anglo-Saxon by logic.

"8. The Anglo-Saxon is fond of serious discussion and you reach him best through the sublime; the Negro is inordinately fond of joking and you get closest to him through the ludicrous. I do not pretend to say that these are hard and fast lines, separating the Anglo-Saxon and Negro minds into distinct classes, but they indicate a general unlikeness in many particulars.

"Now, we Democrats know how to reach Anglo-Saxon minds and the process is congenial to our general habit of thought. When we address Negroes, we really have to readjust our faculties of approach. Public speakers find that variou

s sections of the same country present this difference, even when all of the people are of the same race. How much greater must be the chasm between two such widely diverging races."

Morlene exhibited no signs of abating interest, so the lawyer proceeded further with his remarks.

"Two other reasons may be given why we prefer to be rid of the Negro," he continued. "The mass of Negroes are poor, some of them very poor, and we have men among us who would not scruple at perpetually bribing these poor by little acts of kindness. A poverty stricken, oppressed, helpless people are comparatively easy prey for the well to do element of an opposite race. In national politics the Negro's devotion to the Republican party exempts him from the chicanery of designing whites who would debauch the suffrage. We do not desire the ignorant Negro vote in municipal affairs for the same reason that the nations of Europe oppose the dismemberment of Turkey. The struggle for possession would be too fierce and demoralizing among the parties desiring the furtherance of their interests. The other reason for not wanting the Negro vote is that the respective traditions of the two races are so essentially different.

"You see they (the Negroes) revere Lincoln, Sumner, Whittier, Lovejoy, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Frederick Douglass, Grant, John Brown, etc. We have no peculiar fondness for these characters. Jefferson Davis, R. E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, Pickett, Albert Sidney Johnson, etc., are the objects of our love and enthusiasm. You see, it is quite natural that people having such widely differing sentiments should in a measure live apart."

Morlene saw clearly that there was no hope of arousing in this man enthusiasm over Dorlan's work of altering the existing status in matters political. She now departed, the lines of sadness deepening on her face. The lawyer followed her to the door, bade her a polite adieu and turned away, somehow full of the thought that he had conversed with a superior creature.

Morlene next went to the head of the Democratic "machine." He was the man chosen to do the work of "counting out" the opposition if the occasion seemed to require it. He readily purchased a book, and, when called upon, expressed his opinion as to the "Warthell movement."

"To tell the truth, we do not want that fellow to succeed. We hold our people in line by threatening them with the bludgeon of mass voting and Negro domination. The white people let us machine fellows have our own way and will scarcely fight us under any consideration for fear that in destroying the evil that we may represent, they might fall upon another that is worse, namely, "nigger rule," as they call it. Of course, then, we machine fellows don't want any such times as that fellow is trying to inaugurate."

Morlene found the white Republican machine equally antagonistic to Dorlan. They feared that the abandonment of the Republican party by the great mass of Negroes of the South would cause a great influx of Southern whites, which would mean that the day of the small man was over; for many of the white men who were giants among the Negroes, simply because of their white faces and professed sympathy, would appear to be only pigmies when brought into contact with the abler sections of the whites.

The Negro politicians of the smaller calibre that affiliated with the machine viewed Dorlan's actions with contempt. Their interest in political campaigns ended with ward meetings, county, district, State and national conventions. Whatever profit a campaign was to bring to them personally, they labored to secure while conventions were being held, for they knew that they would be no more an important factor until the time arrived for another series of conventions. Not seeing where Dorlan was to profit personally by his course, they took him to be an enthusiastic crank of some sort. "How much is there in it," was the shibboleth of their creed, learned in the school of "peanut" politics where they operated.

Morlene found many intelligent white and colored men who held views directly opposite to those cited, but they almost invariably wound up by saying, "But Warthell, it turns out, is ahead of his day. Conditions in the South are such that good men of both races are better off out of politics." They were averse to taking any active part in the matter, fearing that, in view of the inflamed state of the public mind, other interests of theirs might be jeopardized.

Finding that all hope of enlisting public sentiment in Dorlan's favor had to be abandoned, Morlene, with a heavy burden on her heart, now turned in the direction of police headquarters. The chief was out, but a subordinate presented himself and desired to know her business.

"Sir," said she, "there is a plan on foot to assassinate Dorlan Warthell, a highly respected Negro of this city."

An angry look came into the face of the policeman. Morlene felt encouraged by this, hoping that she was at last in a place where Dorlan had a friend. She now gave the officer the plans of the conspirators as she had overheard them, taking pains to emphasize the fact that Harry, her husband, was but a weakling in the hands of the chief conspirator, and that she desired that he be wrested from his grasp.

The officer took a memorandum of what Morlene had said. When Morlene had gotten some distance away she recollected something that she deemed it advisable to tell. She retraced her steps to headquarters, and, as she drew near the office door, heard Warthell's name called by the officer with whom she had conferred. Her heart seemed to cease to beat as she heard this officer say, "Yes, I hope they will kill the scoundrel. I believe in every man being true to his race. I call a Negro who will work against the Republicans lower than the dogs. I call a Southern white man who will work against the Democrats as even lower still. Yes, I hope they will kill the scoundrel. Let every man stay with his own race, by gosh."

Morlene turned away trembling in every fibre. When she had proceeded some distance she turned, and pointing her finger in the direction of the building from which she had just come, said, "Ah! justice, justice, whither art thou fled? Red-handed murder now sits in thy temple and occupies thy throne! How long wilst thou withhold thy presence from this beautiful, but blighted Southland?" Passers by did not know what to make of this beautiful woman standing with outstretched hand, a look of sorrow and lofty scorn upon her face.

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