“She’s not really white; I know Lucy—you see, her mother worked for the governor—” The white bishop turned on his heel and nearly trod on the yellow priest, who knelt with bowed head before the pale mother and offered incense and a gift of gold.
Out into the night rushed the bishop of New York. The wings of the cherubim were folded black against the stars. As he hastened down the front staircase the governor came rushing up the street steps.
“We are late!” he cried nervously. “The bride awaits!” He hurried the bishop to the waiting limousine, asking him anxiously: “Did you hear anything? Do you hear that noise? The crowd is growing strangely on the streets and there seems to be a fire over toward the East. I never saw so many people here—I fear violence—a mob—a lynching—I fear—hark!”
What was that which he, too, heard beneath the rhythm of unnumbered feet? Deep in his heart a wonder grew. What was it? Ah, he knew! It was music,—some strong and mighty chord. It rose higher as the brilliantly-lighted church split the night, and swept radiantly toward them. So high and clear that music flew, it seemed above, around, behind them. The governor, ashen-faced, crouched in the car; but the bishop said softly as the ecstasy pulsed in his heart:
“Such music, such wedding music! What choir is it?”
“THE SERVANT IN THE HOUSE”
The lady looked at me severely; I glanced away. I had addressed the little audience at some length on the disfranchisement of my people in society, politics, and industry and had studiously avoided the while her cold, green eye. I finished and shook weary hands, while she lay in wait. I knew what was coming and braced my soul.
“Do you know where I can get a good colored cook?” she asked. I disclaimed all guilty concupiscence. She came nearer and spitefully shook a finger in my face.
“Why—won’t—Negroes—work!” she panted. “I have given money for years to Hampton and Tuskegee and yet I can’t get decent servants. They won’t try. They’re lazy! They’re unreliable! They’re impudent and they leave without notice. They all want to be lawyers and doctors and” (she spat the word in venom) “ladies!”
“God forbid!” I answered solemnly, and then being of gentle birth, and unminded to strike a defenseless female of uncertain years, I ran; I ran home and wrote a chapter in my book and this is it.
* * * * *
I speak and speak bitterly as a servant and a servant’s son, for my mother spent five or more years of her life as a menial; my father’s family escaped, although grandfather as a boat steward had to fight hard to be a man and not a lackey. He fought and won. My mother’s folk, however, during my childhood, sat poised on that thin edge between the farmer and the menial. The surrounding Irish had two chances, the factory and the kitchen, and