His life had been one of such isolation that he had not at all moved in social circles before this, and no young woman had ever made more than a passing impression on him.
There was in Norfolk a reading circle composed of the brightest, most talented young men and women of the city. Upon taking a short vacation, this circle always gave a reception which was attended by persons of the highest culture in the city. Bernard received an invitation to this reception, and, in company with a fellow lawyer attended. The reception was held at the residence of a Miss Evangeline Leslie, a member of the circle.
The house was full of guests when Bernard and his friend arrived. They rang the door bell and a young lady came to the door to receive them.
She was a small, beautifully formed girl with a luxuriant growth of coal black hair that was arranged in such a way as to impart a queenly look to her shapely head. Her skin was dark brown, tender and smooth in appearance. A pair of laughing hazel eyes, a nose of the prettiest possible size and shape, and a chin that tapered with the most exquisite beauty made her face the Mecca of all eyes.
Bernard was so struck with the girl’s beauty that he did not greet her when she opened the door. He stared at her with a blank look. They were invited in.
Bernard pulled off his hat and walked in, not saying a word but eyeing that pretty girl all the while. Even when his back was turned toward her, as he walked, his head was turned over his shoulders and his eye surveyed all the graceful curves of her perfect form and scanned those features that could but charm those who admire nature’s work.
When he had taken a seat in the corner of a room by the side of his friend he said: “Pray, who is that girl that met you at the door? I really did not know that a dark woman could look so beautiful.”
“You are not the only one that thinks that she is surpassingly beautiful,” said his friend. “Her picture is the only Negro’s picture that is allowed to hang in the show glasses of the white photographers down town. White and colored pay homage to her beauty.”
“Well,” said Bernard, “that man who denies that girl’s beauty should be sent to the asylum for the cure of a perverted and abnormal taste.”
“I see you are rather enthusiastic. Is it wise to admire mortgaged property?” remarked his friend.
“What’s that?” asked Bernard, quickly. “Is any body in my way?”
“In your way?” laughed his friend. “Pray what do you mean? I don’t understand you.”
“Come,” said Bernard, “I am on pins. Is she married or about to be?”
“Well, not exactly that, but she has told me that she cares a good bit for me.”
Bernard saw that his friend was in a mood to tease him and he arose and left his side.
His friend chuckled gleefully to himself and said: “The would-be catcher is caught. I thought Viola Martin would duck him if anybody could. Tell me about these smile-proof bachelors. When once they are struck, they fall all to pieces at once.”