“You see that he is a cowardly villain; but we sometimes have to use such.
“Now, my son, go forth; labor hard and climb high. Scale the high wall of prejudice. Make it possible, dear boy, for me to own you ere I pass out of life. Let your mother have the veil of slander torn from her pure form ere she closes her eyes on earth forever.”
Bernard, handsome, brilliant, eloquent, the grandson of a governor, the son of a senator, a man of wealth, to whom defeat was a word unknown, steps out to battle for the freedom of his race; urged to put his whole soul into the fight because of his own burning desire for glory, and because out of the gloom of night he heard his grief stricken parents bidding him to climb where the cruel world would be compelled to give its sanction to the union that produced such a man as he.
Bernard’s training was over. He now had a tremendous incentive. Into life he plunges.
Love and politics.
Acting on his father’s advice Bernard arrived in Norfolk in the course of a few days. He realized that he was now a politician and decided to make a diligent study of the art of pleasing the populace and to sacrifice everything to the goddess of fame. Knowing that whom the people loved they honored, he decided to win their love at all hazards. He decided to become the obedient servant of the people that he might thus make all the people his servants.
He took up hie abode at Hotel Douglass, a colored hotel at which the colored leaders would often congregate. Bernard mingled with these men freely and soon had the name among them of being a jovial good fellow.
While at Harvard, Bernard had studied law simultaneously with his other studies and graduated from both the law and classical departments the same year.
Near the city court house, in a row of somewhat dilapidated old buildings, he rented a law office. The rowdy and criminal element infested this neighborhood. Whenever any of these got into difficulties, Bernard was always ready to defend them. If they were destitute of funds he would serve them free of charge and would often pay their fines for them. He was ever ready to go on bonds of any who got into trouble. He gave money freely to those who begged of him. In this manner he became the very ideal of the vicious element, though not accounted by them as one of their number.
Bernard was also equally successful in winning favor with the better element of citizens. Though a good Catholic at heart, he divided his time among all denominations, thus solving the most difficult problem for a Negro leader to solve; for the religious feeling was so intense that it was carried into almost every branch of human activity.
Having won the criminal and religious circles, he thought to go forth and conquer the social world and secure its support. He decided to enter society and pay marked attention to that young lady that would most increase his popularity. We shall soon see how this would-be conqueror stood the very first fire.