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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 377 pages of information about The Garies and Their Friends.

“I think we have done very well,” rejoined Mr. Balch; “we were as much in his power as he was in ours—­not in the same way, however; a legal investigation, no matter how damaging it might have been to his reputation, would not have placed us in possession of the property, or invalidated his claim as heir.  I think, on the whole, we may as well be satisfied, and trust in Providence for the future.  So now, then, we will resume our discussion of that matter we had under consideration the other day.  I cannot but think that my plan is best adapted to secure the boy’s happiness.”

“I’m sorry I cannot agree with you, Mr. Balch.  I have tried to view your plan in the most favourable light, yet I cannot rid myself of a presentiment that it will result in the ultimate discovery of his peculiar position, and that most probably at some time when his happiness is dependent upon its concealment.  An undetected forger, who is in constant fear of being apprehended, is happy in comparison with that coloured man who attempts, in this country, to hold a place in the society of whites by concealing his origin.  He must live in constant fear of exposure; this dread will embitter every enjoyment, and make him the most miserable of men.”

“You must admit,” rejoined Mr. Balch, “that I have their welfare at heart.  I have thought the matter over and over, and cannot, for the life of me, feel the weight of your objections.  The children are peculiarly situated; everything seems to favour my views.  Their mother (the only relative they had whose African origin was distinguishable) is dead, and both of them are so exceedingly fair that it would never enter the brain of any one that they were connected with coloured people by ties of blood.  Clarence is old enough to know the importance of concealing the fact, and Emily might be kept with us until her prudence also might be relied upon.  You must acknowledge that as white persons they will be better off.”

“I admit,” answered Mr. Walters, “that in our land of liberty it is of incalculable advantage to be white; that is beyond dispute, and no one is more painfully aware of it than I. Often I have heard men of colour say they would not be white if they could—­had no desire to change their complexions; I’ve written some down fools; others, liars.  Why,” continued he, with a sneering expression of countenance, “it is everything to be white; one feels that at every turn in our boasted free country, where all men are upon an equality.  When I look around me, and see what I have made myself in spite of circumstances, and think what I might have been with the same heart and brain beneath a fairer skin, I am almost tempted to curse the destiny that made me what I am.  Time after time, when scraping, toiling, saving, I have asked myself.  To what purpose is it all?—­perhaps that in the future white men may point at and call me, sneeringly, ’a nigger millionaire,’ or condescend to borrow money of me.  Ah! often, when some negro-hating

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