“But he wouldn’t,” cried Miss Wynn with a start that belied her conviction.
“Did you know that he is to be invited to make the principal address to the graduates of the colored high-school?”
“But,” she objected. “They have selected Bishop Johnson; I—”
“I know you did,” laughed the Senator, “but the Judge got orders from higher up.”
“Shrewd Mr. Teerswell,” remarked Miss Wynn, sagely.
“Shrewd Mr. Stillings,” the Senator corrected; “but perhaps too shrewd. Suppose Mr. Alwyn should take this occasion to make a thorough defence of the party?”
“That’s where you come in,” Senator Smith pointed out, rising, “and the real reason of this interview. We’re depending on you to pull the party out of an awkward hole,” and he shook hands with his caller.
Miss Wynn walked slowly up Pennsylvania Avenue with a smile on her face.
“I did not give him the credit,” she declared, repeating it; “I did not give him the credit. Here I was, playing an alluring game on the side, and my dear Tom transforms it into a struggle for bread and butter; for of course, if the Board of Education goes, I lose my place.” She lifted her head and stared along the avenue.
A bitterness dawned in her eyes. The whole street was a living insult to her. Here she was, an American girl by birth and breeding, a daughter of citizens who had fought and bled and worked for a dozen generations on this soil; yet if she stepped into this hotel to rest, even with full purse, she would be politely refused accommodation. Should she attempt to go into this picture show she would be denied entrance. She was thirsty with the walk; but at yonder fountain the clerk would roughly refuse to serve her. It was lunch time; there was no place within a mile where she was allowed to eat. The revolt deepened within her. Beyond these known and definite discriminations lay the unknown and hovering. In yonder store nothing hindered the clerk from being exceptionally pert; on yonder street-car the conductor might reserve his politeness for white folk; this policeman’s business was to keep black and brown people in their places. All this Caroline Wynn thought of, and then smiled.
This was the thing poor blind Bles was trying to attack by “appeals” for “justice.” Nonsense! Does one “appeal” to the red-eyed beast that throttles him? No. He composes himself, looks death in the eye, and speaks softly, on the chance. Whereupon Miss Wynn composed herself, waved gayly at a passing acquaintance, and matched some ribbons in a department store. The clerk was new and anxious to sell.
Meantime her brain was busy. She had a hard task before her. Alwyn’s absurd conscience and Quixotic ideas were difficult to cope with. After his last indiscreet talk she had ventured deftly to remonstrate, and she well remembered the conversation.
“Wasn’t what I said true?” he had asked.