He was joined by a diminutive red-faced woman, with hair and eyes very much like his own, and a face that wore a peevish, pinched expression.
“Rather good-looking,” she replied, after observing them for a few minutes, and then added, “Have you seen their parents?”
“No, not yet,” was the reply. “I met Walters in the street this morning, who informed me they are from the South, and very rich; we must try and cultivate them—ask the children in to play with ours, and strike up an intimacy in that way, the rest will follow naturally, you know. By the way, Jule,” continued he, “how I hate that nigger Walters, with his grand airs. I wanted some money of him the other day on rather ticklish securities for a client of mine, and the black wretch kept me standing in his hall for at least five minutes, and then refused me, with some not very complimentary remarks upon my assurance in offering him such securities. It made me so mad I could have choked him—it is bad enough to be treated with hauteur by a white man, but contempt from a nigger is almost unendurable.”
“Why didn’t you resent it in some way? I never would have submitted to anything of the kind from him,” interrupted Mrs. Stevens.
“Oh, I don’t dare to just now; I have to be as mild as milk with him. You forget about the mortgage; don’t you know he has me in a tight place there, and I don’t see how to get out of it either. If I am called Slippery George, I tell you what, Jule, there’s not a better man of business in the whole of Philadelphia than that same Walters, nigger as he is; and no one offends him without paying dear for it in some way or other. I’ll tell you something he did last week. He went up to Trenton on business, and at the hotel they refused to give him dinner because of his colour, and told him they did not permit niggers to eat at their tables. What does he do but buy the house over the landlord’s head. The lease had just expired, and the landlord was anxious to negotiate another; he was also making some arrangements with his creditors, which could not be effected unless he was enabled to renew the lease of the premises he occupied. On learning that the house had been sold, he came down to the city to negotiate with the new owner, and to his astonishment found him to be the very man he had refused a meal to the week before. Blunt happened to be in Walters’s office at the time the fellow called. Walters, he says, drew himself up to his full height, and looked like an ebony statue.
“Sir,” said he, “I came to your house and asked for a meal, for which I was able to pay; you not only refused it to me, but heaped upon me words such as fall only from the lips of blackguards. You refuse to have me in your house—I object to have you in mine: you will, therefore, quit the premises immediately.” The fellow sneaked out quite crestfallen, and his creditors have broken him up completely.
“I tell you what, Jule, if I was a black,” continued he, “living in a country like this, I’d sacrifice conscience and everything else to the acquisition of wealth.”