Belton looked down into her beautiful face and she looked up at Belton. He felt her eyes pulling at the cords of his heart. He stooped down and in silence pressed a lingering kiss on Miss Nermal’s lips. She did not move.
Belton said, “I am in the well.” Miss Nermal whispered, “I am too.” Belton said, “I shall always be in the well.” Miss Nermal said, “So shall I.” Belton hastily plucked open the gate and clasped Antoinette to his bosom. He led her to a double seat in the middle of the lawn, and there with the pure-eyed stars gazing down upon them they poured out their love to each other.
Two hours later Belton left her and at that late hour roused every intimate friend that he had in the city to tell them of his good fortune.
Miss Nermal was no less reserved in her joy. She told the good news everywhere to all her associates. Love had transformed this modest, reserved young woman into a being that would not have hesitated to declare her love upon a house-top.
No befitting name.
Happy Belton now began to give serious thought to the question of getting married. He desired to lead Antoinette to the altar as soon as possible and then he would be sure of possessing the richest treasure known to earth. And when he would speak of an early marriage she would look happy and say nothing in discouragement of the idea. She was Belton’s, and she did not care how soon he claimed her as his own.
His poverty was his only barrier. His salary was small, being only fifty dollars a month. He had not held his position long enough to save up very much money. He decided to start up an enterprise that would enable him to make money a great deal faster.
The colored people of Richmond at that time had no newspaper or printing office. Belton organized a joint stock company and started a weekly journal and conducted a job printing establishment. This paper took well and was fast forging to the front as a decided success.
It began to lift up its voice against frauds at the polls and to champion the cause of honest elections. It contended that practicing frauds was debauching the young men, the flower of the Anglo-Saxon race. One particularly meritorious article was copied in The Temps and commented upon editorially. This article created a great stir in political circles.
A search was instituted as to the authorship. It was traced to Belton, and the politicians gave the school board orders to dump Belton forthwith, on the ground that they could not afford to feed and clothe a man who would so vigorously “attack Southern Institutions,” meaning by this phrase the universal practice of thievery and fraud at the ballot box. Belton was summarily dismissed.
His marriage was of necessity indefinitely postponed. The other teachers were warned to give no further support to Belton’s paper on pain of losing their positions. They withdrew their influence from Belton and he was, by this means, forced to give up the enterprise.