Midnight carriage rides were offered and refused. Trips to distant cities were proposed but declined. Money was offered freely and lavishly but to no avail. Belton did not yield to them. He became the cynosure of all eyes. He seemed so hard to reach, that they began to doubt his sex. A number of them decided to satisfy themselves at all hazards. They resorted to the bold and daring plan of kidnapping and overpowering Belton.
After that eventful night Belton did no more nursing. But fortunately they did not recognize who he was. He secretly left, had it announced that Belton Piedmont would in a short time return to Richmond, and throwing off his disguise, he appeared in Richmond as Belton Piedmont of old. The town was agog with excitement over the male nurse, but none suspected him. He was now again without employment, and another most grievous burden was about to be put on his shoulders. May God enable him to bear it.
During all the period of their poverty stricken condition, Antoinette bore her deprivations like a heroine. Though accustomed from her childhood to plenty, she bore her poverty smilingly and cheerfully. Not one sigh of regret, not one word of complaint escaped her lips. She taught Belton to hope and have faith in himself. But everything seemed to grow darker and darker for him. In the whole of his school life, he had never encountered a student who could surpass him in intellectual ability; and yet, here he was with all his conceded worth, unable to find a fit place to earn his daily bread, all because of the color of his skin. And now the Lord was about to bless him with an offspring. He hardly knew whether to be thankful or sorrowful over this prospective gift from heaven.
On the one hand, an infant in the home would be a source of unbounded joy; but over against this pleasing picture there stood cruel want pointing its wicked, mocking finger at him, anxious for another victim. As the time for the expected gift drew near, Belton grew more moody and despondent. Day by day he grew more and more nervous. One evening the nurse called him into his wife’s room, bidding him come and look at his son. The nurse stood in the door and looked hard at Belton as he drew near to the side of his wife’s bed. He lifted the lamp from the dresser and approached. Antoinette turned toward the wall and hid her head under the cover. Eagerly, tremblingly, Belton pulled the cover from the little child’s face, the nurse all the while watching him as though her eyes would pop out of her head.
Belton bent forward to look at his infant son. A terrible shriek broke from his lips. He dropped the lamp upon the floor and fled out of the house and rushed madly through the city. The color of Antoinette was brown. The color of Belton was dark. But the child was white!
What pen can describe the tumult that raged in Belton’s bosom for months and months! Sadly, disconsolately, broken in spirit, thoroughly dejected, Belton dragged himself to his mother’s cottage at Winchester. Like a ship that had started on a voyage, on a bright day, with fair winds, but had been overtaken and overwhelmed in an ocean storm, and had been put back to shore, so Belton now brought his battered bark into harbor again.