When Alwyn accompanied her home that night, Miss Wynn set herself to know him better for she suspected that he might be a coming man. The best preliminary to her purpose was, she knew, to speak frankly of herself, and that she did. She told him of her youth and training, her ambitions, her disappointments. Quite unconsciously her cynicism crept to the fore, until in word and tone she had almost scoffed at many things that Alwyn held true and dear. The touch was too light, the meaning too elusive, for Alwyn to grasp always the point of attack; but somehow he got the distant impression that Miss Wynn had little faith in Truth and Goodness and Love. Vaguely shocked he grew so silent that she noticed it and concluded she had said too much. But he pursued the subject.
“Surely there must be many friends of our race willing to stand for the right and sacrifice for it?”
She laughed unpleasantly, almost mockingly.
“Well—there’s Miss Smith.”
“She gets a salary, doesn’t she?”
“A very small one.”
“About as large as she could earn. North, I don’t doubt.”
“But the unselfish work she does—the utter sacrifice?”
“Oh, well, we’ll omit Alabama, and admit the exception.”
“Well, here, in Washington—there’s your friend, the Judge, who has befriended you so, as you admit.”
She laughed again.
“You remember our visit to Senator Smith?”
“Well, it got the Judge his reappointment to the school board.”
“He deserved it, didn’t he?”
“I deserved it,” she said luxuriously, hugging her knee and smiling; “you see, his appointment meant mine.”
“Well, what of it—didn’t—”
“Listen,” she cut in a little sharply. “Once a young brown girl, with boundless faith in white folks, went to a Judge’s office to ask for an appointment which she deserved. There was no one there. The benign old Judge with his saintly face and white hair suggested that she lay aside her wraps and spend the afternoon.”
Bles arose to his feet.
“What—what did you do?” he asked.
“Sit down—there’s a good boy.” I said: “’Judge, a friend is expecting me at two,’ it was then half-past one, ‘would I not best telephone?’”
“‘Step right into the booth,’ said the Judge, quite indulgently.” Miss Wynn leaned back, and Bles felt his heart sinking; but he said nothing. “And then,” she continued, “I telephoned the Judge’s wife that he was anxious to see her on a matter of urgent business; namely, my appointment.” She gazed reflectively out of the window. “You should have seen his face when I told him,” she concluded. “I was appointed.”
But Bles asked coldly:
“Why didn’t you have him arrested?”
“For what? And suppose I had?”
Bles threw out his arms helplessly.
“Oh! it isn’t as bad as that all over the world, is it?”