Seeing a stranger, the children left their play and came to their father, one on each side. They looked with questioning eyes from father to Belton, as if seeking to know the purpose of the visit.
Mr. King took the check from his pocket and extended it toward Belton, and said: “Mr. Piedmont, this will carry you through college. I have only one favor to ask of you. In all your dealings with my people recognize the fact that there are two widely separated classes of us, and that there is a good side to the character of the worst class. Always seek for and appeal to that side of their nature.”
Belton very feelingly thanked Mr. King, and assured him that he would treasure his words. He was true to his promise, and decided from that moment to never class all white men together, whatever might be the provocation, and to never regard any class as totally depraved.
This is one of the keys to his future life. Remember it.
A young Rebel.
In the city of Nashville, Tennessee, there is a far famed institution of learning called Stowe University, in honor of Mrs. Harriet Beecher Stowe, author of “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.”
This institution was one of the many scores of its kind, established in the South by Northern philanthropy, for the higher education of the Negro. Though called a university, it was scarcely more than a normal school with a college department attached.
It was situated just on the outskirts of the city, on a beautiful ten-acre plot of ground. The buildings were five in number, consisting of a dormitory for young men, two for young ladies, a building for recitations, and another, called the teachers’ mansion; for the teachers resided there. These buildings were very handsome, and were so arranged upon the level campus as to present a very attractive sight.
With the money which had been so generously given him by Mr. King, Belton entered this school. That was a proud day in his life when he stepped out of the carriage and opened the University gate, feeling that he, a Negro, was privileged to enter college. Julius Caesar, on entering Rome in triumph, with the world securely chained to his chariot wheels; Napoleon, bowing to receive the diadem of the Caesars’ won by the most notable victories ever known to earth; General Grant, on his triumphal tour around the globe, when kings and queens were eager rivals to secure from this man of humble birth the sweeter smile; none of these were more full of pleasurable emotion than this poor Negro lad, who now with elastic step and beating heart marched with head erect beneath the arch of the doorway leading into Stowe University.
Belton arrived on the Saturday preceding the Monday on which school would open for that session. He found about three hundred and sixty students there from all parts of the South, the young women outnumbering the young men in about the proportion of two to one.