In the meanwhile the train began to get full, passengers getting on at each station. At length the coach was nearly filled. A white lady entered, and not at once seeing a vacant seat, paused a few seconds to look about for one. She soon espied an unoccupied seat. She proceeded to it, but her slight difficulty had been noted by the white passengers.
Belton happened to glance around and saw a group of white men in an eager, animated conversation, and looking in his direction now and then as they talked. He paid no especial attention to this, however, and kept on reading. Before he was aware of what was going on, he was surrounded by a group of angry men. He stood up in surprise to discover its meaning. “Get out of this coach. We don’t allow niggers in first-class coaches. Get out at once,” said their spokesman.
“Show me your authority to order me out, sir,” said Belton firmly.
“We are our own authority, as you will soon find out if you don’t get out of here.”
“I propose,” said Belton, “to stay right in this coach as long——” He did not finish the sentence, for rough fingers were clutching his throat. The whole group was upon him in an instant and he was soon overpowered. They dragged him into the aisle, and, some at his head and others at his feet, lifted him and bore him to the door. The train was speeding along at a rapid rate. Belton grew somewhat quiet in his struggling, thinking to renew it in the second-class coach, whither he supposed they were carrying him. But when they got to the platform, instead of carrying him across they tossed him off the train into that muddy ditch at which Belton had been looking. His body and feet fell into the water while his head buried itself in the soft clay bed.
The train was speeding on and Belton eventually succeeded in extricating himself from his bed of mud and water. Covered from head to foot with red clay, the president-elect of Cadeville College walked down to the next station, two miles away. There he found his satchel, left by the conductor of the train. He remained at this station until the afternoon, when another train passed. This time he entered the second-class coach and rode unmolested to Monroe, Louisiana. There he was to have changed cars for Cadeville. The morning train, the one from which he was thrown, made connection with the Cadeville train, but the afternoon train did not. So he was under the necessity of remaining over night in the city of Monroe, a place of some twenty thousand inhabitants.