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   Chapter 25 TONY MARSHALL.

Unfettered By Sutton E. Griggs Characters: 7678

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:03

Tony Marshall was one of the Negroes of the younger class who had left the country district and had come to R-- as a result of the imbroglio between Lemuel Dalton and Harry Dalton. He had come to the city with the untried innocence of country life, sober, industrious and frugal, acceptable as a wholesome infusion into Negro life in the city, which, so far as the masses were concerned, stood sadly in need thereof. Without much difficulty he had secured work as a porter in a hardware store. After a few years' sojourn in the city, he had fallen in love and married.

Among the Negroes of R-- Mrs. Tony Marshall was variously designated as "a good looking woman," "a fine looking woman," and among the older ones as "a likely gal;" and she richly deserved these encomiums passed on her personal appearance. She was not a small woman, nor yet could you call her large. Her form, while not delicately chiseled, presented an appearance that seemed to be a satisfactory compromise between beauty and strength, each struggling to be noted in this one form. Her face was well featured, her hazle colored eyes making it very attractive. As to complexion, she was dark, quite dark, and of a hue so soft and attractive therewith that her complexion made her an object of envy.

Tony Marshall adored his wife, and it was his one ambition to see her happy. Everything that he did was with a view to her comfort and happiness. On the meagre wages which he received he had not been able to provide for her as he had desired.

Noticing that young white men who had entered the employ of the hardware company after his coming and knew no more of the requirements of the business than he did-noticing that these had several times been promoted, Tony Marshall made an application for an increase in his wages. The head of the firm looked at him in astonishment. It was an unwritten and inexorable rule in that and in many other establishments that the wages of Negro employes were to remain the same forever, however efficient the labor and however long the term of service.

Failing of promotion where he was, and noting that the rate of one dollar per day prevailed almost universally, Tony Marshall saw no relief in changing employment, and decided to increase his own wages at his employers' expense. He made a comparison between the salary which he was receiving and that being received by the white employees who did work similar in character to his. He began, therefore, to purloin the wares of the company and dispose of them at various pawn shops. As a "sop" to his conscience he stole only so much as sufficed to bring his wages to the level of others who did work like his. His thefts were the more easily committed because he had won the unlimited confidence of his employers.

Tony has just rented a more commodious house for the pleasure of his wife, and as his rent is to be increased, he is pondering how to further increase his income. On this particular morning when our story finds him, he is debating this question as he walks to his work. At last he concluded to steal that day a very fine pistol from the stock under his care, which theft he hoped would net him such a nice sum that he could suspend pilfering for a while. When he returned home that evening he carried the pistol with him, and hid it under the front doorstep, it being his rule to not allow his wife to know anything of his misdoings; for he could not bear the thought of forfeiting her respect.

"I am going to my lodge meeting now; I may not return until very late," said Tony that night, as he kissed his wife good-bye. Instead of going to the lodge meeting, however, Tony Marshall went to the section of the city where were congregated practically all of the vicious Negroes of R--. Entering a house, the front room of which was the abode of an aged

couple, he passed to the rear through a hall way. Giving the proper rap at a door, he was admitted. He was now in a long room well crowded with Negro men and many women, who sat at tables engaged in various kinds of gaming.

The occupants of the room gazed up at the newcomer, quickly, enquiringly, but seeing that it was the well known Tony, their attention returned to the matters before them. The flapping of cards, the rolling of dice, outbursts of profanity, the clinking of glasses as liquor drinking progressed, were the sounds that filled the room.

Tony found room at a dice table and was soon deeply engaged in the game. At a late hour the accustomed rap was heard at the door and it was opened. Great was the consternation of all when the newcomers were discovered to be a half dozen policemen.

The inmates of the gambling house saw at once that some frequenter of the place had proven traitor and furnished the officers with information. They were all placed under arrest and formed into a line to be marched to the city jail. The Negroes had submitted with such good grace that the officers felt able to dispense with the patrol wagon, the jail being near.

Tony Marshall's thoughts were of his wife, Lula. She was of a highly respectable family and her mortification would be boundless should she know of his arrest in the gambling den and hear of his being in the chain gang working out his fine on the public highways.

Tony Marshall decided to escape at the risk of his life. The gambling fraternity had a code of signals that could give the cue to the proper course to be pursued under any given circumstances. The leader of the gang now gave three coughs, which meant, "Raise a row among yourselves." The idea was to get up a fight among the prisoners and while the officers were attempting to quell the fight, as many as could were to make their escape. It was the rule that all who made their escape were to employ lawyers and raise money to help out those left behind.

A group began quarreling among themselves, and a fight soon followed. The officers interposed to quell the disturbance and prisoners broke and ran in all directions. The officers found that they had a larger number than they could well manage under the circumstances, and they gave their attention to corralling a few, letting the others escape in the hope of tracing them out and re-arresting them on the morrow.

Among those that escaped was Tony Marshall. Running by his home, he secured the stolen pistol from beneath the doorstep, got his bicycle from the woodhouse and was soon speeding out of the city. He chose the road that led to the settlement whence he had come to the city. It was his intention from that point to write to his wife, telling her that he had received a most urgent call to see his aged mother who was represented to him to be dying.

Throughout the night Tony rode at a rapid rate, putting many miles between himself and the city. About daybreak, as he was speeding along on his bicycle, he glanced up into a tree and saw therein a squirrel. "Good luck!" said he, "there is my breakfast." Jumping from his bicycle, he got on the side of the road opposite to the tree that held the squirrel. Elevating his pistol, he took aim and was upon the eve of pulling the trigger when he heard the clatter of the hoofs of a horse galloping in his direction. He dropped the pistol to his side and peered around the bend of the road to catch sight of the newcomer on the scene. For a few minutes only we leave him standing thus that we may fully acquaint you with the newcomer, that the horror of the meeting between the two may not come as too great a shock to you.

"But how is the waiting, struggling, hoping Dorlan concerned in all of this?" the reader asks. That, too, in due time will be apparent.

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