“Let me gib yer my advis, sistah Hannah. De greatest t’ing in de wul is edification. Ef our race ken git dat we ken git ebery t’ing else. Dat is de key. Git de key an’ yer ken go in de house to go whare you please. As fur his beatin’ de brat, yer musn’t kick agin dat. He’ll beat de brat to make him larn, and won’t dat be a blessed t’ing? See dis scar on side my head? Old marse Sampson knocked me down wid a single-tree tryin’ to make me stop larning, and God is so fixed it dat white folks is knocking es down ef we don’t larn. Ef yer take Belton out of school yer’ll be fighting ’genst de providence of God.”
Being thus advised by her shepherd, Mrs. Piedmont decided to keep Belton in school. So on Monday Belton went back to his brutal teacher, and thither we follow him.
The turning of A worm.
As to who Mr. Tiberius Gracchus Leonard was, or as to where he came from, nobody in Winchester, save himself, knew.
Immediately following the close of the Civil War, Rev. Samuel Christian, a poor but honorable retired minister of the M.E. Church, South, was the first teacher employed to instruct the colored children of the town.
He was one of those Southerners who had never believed in the morality of slavery, but regarded it as a deep rooted evil beyond human power to uproot. When the manacles fell from the hands of the Negroes he gladly accepted the task of removing the scales of ignorance from the blinded eyes of the race.
Tenderly he labored, valiantly he toiled in the midst of the mass of ignorance that came surging around him. But only one brief year was given to this saintly soul to endeavor to blast the mountains of stupidity which centuries of oppression had reared. He fell asleep.
The white men who were trustees of the colored school, were sorely puzzled as to what to do for a successor. A Negro, capable of teaching a school, was nowhere near. White young men of the South, generally, looked upon the work of teaching “niggers” with the utmost contempt; and any man who suggested the name of a white young lady of Southern birth as a teacher for the colored children was actually in danger of being shot by any member of the insulted family who could handle a pistol.
An advertisement was inserted in the Washington Post to the effect that a teacher was wanted. In answer to this advertisement Mr. Leonard came. He was a man above the medium height, and possessed a frame not large but compactly built. His forehead was low and narrow; while the back of his head looked exceedingly intellectual. Looking at him from the front you would involuntarily exclaim: “What an infamous scoundrel.” Looking at him from the rear you would say: “There certainly is brain power in that head.”
The glance of Mr. Leonard’s eye was furtive, and his face was sour looking indeed. At times when he felt that no one was watching him, his whole countenance and attitude betokened the rage of despair.