“You are quite correct,” replied Mr. Walters, “and being so favourably impressed by your courtesy on the occasions to which you refer, I have ventured to intrude upon you with a matter of great importance, not only to myself, but I think I may say to the public generally. Since this morning, circumstances have come under my notice that leave no doubt on my mind that a thoroughly-concerted plan is afoot for the destruction of the property of a large number of our coloured citizens—mine amongst the rest. You must be aware,” he continued, “that many very serious disturbances have occurred lately in the lower part of the city.”
“Yes, I’ve heard something respecting it,” replied the mayor, “but I believe they were nothing more than trifling combats between the negroes and the whites in that vicinity.”
“Oh, no, sir! I assure you,” rejoined Mr. Walters, “they were and are anything but trifling. I regard them, however, as only faint indications of what we may expect if the thing is not promptly suppressed; there is an organized gang of villains, who are combined for the sole purpose of mobbing us coloured citizens; and, as we are inoffensive, we certainly deserve protection; and here,” continued Mr. Walters, “is a copy of the list of places upon which it is rumoured an attack is to be made.”
“I really don’t see how I’m to prevent it, Mr. Walters; with the exception of your own residence, all that are here enumerated are out of my jurisdiction. I can send two or three police for your protection if you think it necessary. But I really can’t see my way clear to do anything further.”
“Two or three police!” said Mr. Walters, with rising indignation at the apathy and indifference the mayor exhibited; “they would scarcely be of any more use than as many women. If that is the extent of the aid you can afford me, I must do what I can to protect myself.”
“I trust your fears lead you to exaggerate the danger,” said the mayor, as Mr. Walters arose to depart; “perhaps it is only rumour after all.”
“I might have flattered myself with the same idea, did I not feel convinced by what has so recently occurred but a short distance from my own house; at any rate, if I am attacked, they will find I am not unprepared. Good day,” and bowing courteously to the mayor, Mr. Walters departed.
Mr. Walters lost no time in sending messengers to the various parties threatened by the mob, warning them either to leave their houses or to make every exertion for a vigorous defence. Few, however, adopted the latter extremity; the majority fled from their homes, leaving what effects they could not carry away at the mercy of the mob, and sought an asylum in the houses of such kindly-disposed whites as would give them shelter.
Although the authorities of the district had received the most positive information of the nefarious schemes of the rioters, they had not made the slightest efforts to protect the poor creatures threatened in their persons and property, but let the tide of lawlessness flow on unchecked.