So in the dim waning of the day before Christmas three bishops met in Valdosta and saw its mills and storehouses, its wide-throated and sandy streets, in the mellow glow of a crimson sun. The governor glared anxiously up the street as he helped the bishop of New York into his car and welcomed him graciously.
“I am troubled,” said the governor, “about the niggers. They are acting queerly. I’m not certain but Fleming is back of it.”
“Yes! He’s running against me next term for governor; he’s a firebrand; wants niggers to vote and all that—pardon me a moment, there’s a darky I know—” and he hurried to the black bishop, who had just descended from the “Jim-Crow” car, and clasped his hand cordially. They talked in whispers. “Search diligently,” said the governor in parting, “and bring me word again.” Then returning to his guest, “You will excuse me, won’t you?” he asked, “but I am sorely troubled! I never saw niggers act so. They’re leaving by the hundreds and those who stay are getting impudent! They seem to be expecting something. What’s the crowd, Jim?”
The chauffeur said that there was some sort of Chinese official in town and everybody wanted to glimpse him. He drove around another way.
It all happened very suddenly. The bishop of New York, in full canonicals for the early wedding, stepped out on the rear balcony of his mansion, just as the dying sun lit crimson clouds of glory in the East and burned the West.
“Fire!” yelled a wag in the surging crowd that was gathering to celebrate a southern Christmas-eve; all laughed and ran.
The bishop of New York did not understand. He peered around. Was it that dark, little house in the far backyard that flamed? Forgetful of his robes he hurried down,—a brave, white figure in the sunset. He found himself before an old, black, rickety stable. He could hear the mules stamping within.
No. It was not fire. It was the sunset glowing through the cracks. Behind the hut its glory rose toward God like flaming wings of cherubim. He paused until he heard the faint wail of a child. Hastily he entered. A white girl crouched before him, down by the very mules’ feet, with a baby in her arms,-a little mite of a baby that wailed weakly. Behind mother and child stood a shadow. The bishop of New York turned to the right, inquiringly, and saw a black man in bishop’s robes that faintly re-echoed his own. He turned away to the left and saw a golden Japanese in golden garb. Then he heard the black man mutter behind him: “But He was to come the second time in clouds of glory, with the nations gathered around Him and angels—” at the word a shaft of glorious light fell full upon the child, while without came the tramping of unnumbered feet and the whirring of wings.
The bishop of New York bent quickly over the baby. It was black! He stepped back with a gesture of disgust, hardly listening to and yet hearing the black bishop, who spoke almost as if in apology: