Publisher: Book Jungle , This specific ISBN edition is currently not available. View all copies of this ISBN edition:. Create a Want. Other Popular Editions of the Same Title. The dirt from this underground channel he cast into a deep old unused well, not far distant. Once under the platform, he kept on digging, making the hole larger by far. Numerous rocks abounded in the neighborhood, and these he used to wall up his underground room, so that it would hold water. Just in the middle of the school-room platform he cut, from beneath, a square hole, taking in the spot where the teacher invariably stood when addressing the school.
He cut the boards until they lacked but a very little, indeed, of being cut through. All looked well above, but a baby would not be safe standing thereon. Belton contrived a kind of prop with a weight attached. This prop would serve to keep the cut section from breaking through. The attached weight was at rest in a hole left in the wall of the cavity near its top.
If you dislocated the weight, the momentum that it would gather in the fall would pull down the prop to which it was attached. Finally, Belton fastened a strong rope to the weight, and ran the rope under the schoolhouse floor until it was immediately beneath his seat. With an auger he made a hole in the floor and brought the end through. He managed to keep this bit of rope concealed, while at the same time he had perfect command of his trap door. For two or three nights previous to commencement day Belton had worked until nearly morning filling this cistern with water.
Guide Imperium in Imperio: A Study of the Negro Race Problem A Novel
Now when through delivering his oration, he had returned to his seat to await the proper moment for the payment of his teacher. The judges were out debating the question as to who had won. They seemed to be unable to decide who was victorious and beckoned for the teacher to step outside.
They said: "That black nigger has beat the yellow one all to pieces this time, but we don't like to see nigger blood triumph over any Anglo-Saxon blood. Ain't there any loop-hole where we can give it to Bernard, anyhow? The congressman arose and went up to Belton and congratulated him upon his triumph over oratory, and lamented his defeat by prejudice. This action caused a perceptible stir in the entire audience.
The teacher went to his desk and produced a large gold medal. He took his accustomed place on the platform and began thus: "Ladies and Gentlemen, this is the proudest moment of my life. Belton had pulled the rope, the rope had caused the weight to fall, and the weight had pulled the prop and down had gone the teacher into a well of water.
I am drowning. Take me out, it is cold. Their fright gave way to humor and a merry shout went up from the throats of the scholars. The colored men and women laughed to one side, while the white people smiled as though they had admired the feat as a fine specimen of falling from the sublime to the ridiculous. Bending down over the well, the larger students caught hold of the teacher's arms and lifted him out.
He stood before the audience wet and shivering, his clothes sticking to him, and water dripping from his hair. The medal was gone. The teacher dismissed the audience, drew his last month's pay and left that night for parts unknown. Sometimes, even a worm will turn when trodden upon. Long before the rifle ball, the cannon shot, and the exploding shell were through their fiendish task of covering the earth with mortals slain; while the startled air was yet busy in hurrying to Heaven the groans of the dying soldier, accompanied as they were by the despairing shrieks of his loved ones behind; while horrid War, in frenzied joy, yet waved his bloody sword over the nation's head, and sought with eager eagle eyes every drop of clotted gore over which he might exult; in the midst of such direful days as these, there were those at the North whom the love of God and the eye of faith taught to leap over the scene of strife to prepare the trembling negro for the day of freedom, which, refusing to have a dawn, had burst in meridian splendor upon his dazzled gaze.
Into the southland there came rushing consecrated Christians, men and women, eager to provide for the negro a Christian education. Those who stayed behind gathered up hoarded treasures and gladly poured them into the lap of the South for the same laudable purpose. As a result of the coming of this army of workers, bearing in their arms millions of money, ere many years had sped, well nigh every southern state could proudly boast of one or more colleges where the aspiring negro might quench has thirst for knowledge.
So when Bernard and Belton had finished their careers at the Winchester public school, colleges abounded in the South beckoning them to enter.
Bernard preferred to go to a northern institution, and his mother sent him to enter Harvard University. Belton was poor and had no means of his own with which to pursue his education; but by the hand of providence a most unexpected door was opened to him.
The Winchester correspondent of the Richmond Daily Temps reported the commencement exercises of the Winchester public school of the day that Belton graduated. The congressman present at the exercises spoke so highly of Belton's speech that the correspondent secured a copy from Belton and sent it to the editor of The Temps. This was printed in The Temps and created a great sensation in political and literary circles in every section of the country. Every newspaper of any consequence reproduced the oration in full. It was published and commented upon by the leading journals of England.
The President of the United States wrote a letter of congratulation to Belton. Everywhere the piece was hailed as a classic. After reading the oration, Mr. King, editor of The Temps , decided to take it home with him and read it to his wife. She met him at the door and as he kissed her she noticed that there was a sober look in his eye. Tenderly he brushed back a few stray locks of his wife's hair, saying as he did so, in a somewhat troubled tone: "Wife, it has come at last.
May the good Lord cease not to watch over our beloved but erring land. He led her to his study and read to her Belton's oration. In order to understand the words which we have just quoted as being spoken by him to his wife, let us, while he reads, become a little better acquainted with Mr. King and his paper, The Temps. King was born and reared in Virginia, was educated at a Northern University, and had sojourned for several years in England. He was a man of the broadest culture.
For several years he had given the negro problem most profound study. His views on the subject were regarded by the white people of the South as ultra-liberal.
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These views he exploited through his paper, The Temps , with a boldness and vigor, gaining thereby great notoriety. Though a democrat in politics, he was most bitterly opposed to the practice, almost universal in the South, of cheating the negro out of his right to vote. He preached that it was unjust to the negro and fatal to the morals of the whites.
On every possible occasion he viciously assaulted the practice of lynching, denouncing it in most scathing terms. In short, he was an outspoken advocate of giving the negro every right accorded him by the Constitution of the United States.
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He saw the South leading the young negro boy and girl to school, where, at the expense of the state, they were taught to read history and learn what real liberty was, and the glorious struggles through which the human race had come in order to possess it. He foresaw that the rising, educated negro would allow his eye to linger long on this bloody but glorious page until that most contagious of diseases, devotion to liberty, infected his soul.
He reasoned that the negro who had endured the hardships of slavery might spend his time looking back and thanking God for that from which he had made his escape; but the young negro, knowing nothing of physical slavery, would be peering into the future, measuring the distance that he had yet to go before he was truly free, and would be asking God and his own right arm for the power to secure whatever rights were still withheld.
He argued that, living as the negro did beneath the American flag, known as the flag of freedom, studying American history, and listening on the outer edge of great Fourth of July crowds to eloquent orators discourse on freedom, it was only a matter of a few years before the negro would deify liberty as the Anglo-Saxon race had done, and count it a joy to perish on her altar.
The Bumpy, Grumpy Road
In order that the Republic might ever stand, he knew that the principles of liberty would have to be continually taught with all the eloquence and astuteness at command; and if this teaching had the desired effect upon the white man it would also be powerful enough to awaken the negro standing by his side. So, his ear was to the ground, expecting every moment to hear the far off sounds of awakened negroes coming to ask for liberty, and if refused, to slay or be slain.
When he read Belton's oration he saw that the flame of liberty was in his heart, her sword in his hand, and the disdain of death stamped on his brow. He felt that Belton was the morning star which told by its presence that dawn was near at hand.