The carriage drove over a wide, gravel driveway which curved so as to pass the tower door, and on out to another gate. Belton and Bernard alighted and proceeded to enter. Carved in large letters on the top of the stone steps were these words: “Thomas Jefferson College.” They entered the tower and found themselves on the floor of an elevator, and on this they ascended to the fourth story. The whole of this story was one huge room, devoid of all kinds of furniture save a table and two chairs in a corner. In the center was an elevated platform about ten feet square, and on this stood what might have passed for either a gallows or an acting pole.
Belton led Bernard to the spot where the two chairs and table stood and they sat down. Belton informed Bernard that he had brought him there so that there would be no possibility of anyone hearing what, he had to say. Bernard instantly became all attention. Belton began his recital: “I have been so fortunate as to unearth a foul conspiracy that is being hatched by our people. I have decided to expose them and see every one of them hung,”
“Pray tell me, Belton, what is the motive that prompts you to be so zealous in the work of ferreting out conspirators among your people to be hanged by the whites?”
“It is this,” said Belton: “you know as it is, the Negro has a hard time in this country. If we begin to develop traitors and conspirators we shall fare even worse. It is necessary, therefore, that we kill these vipers that come, lest we all be slain as vipers.”
“That may be true, but I don’t like to see you in that kind of business,” said Bernard.
“Don’t talk that way,” said Belton, “for I counted upon your aid. I desire to secure you as prosecuting attorney in the case. When we thus expose the traitors, we shall earn the gratitude of the government and our race will be treated with more consideration in the future. We will add another page to the glorious record of our people’s devotion by thus spurning these traitors.”
“Belton, I tell you frankly that my share in that kind of business will be infinitessimally small. But go on. Let me know the whole story, that I may know better what to think and do,” replied Bernard.
“Well, it is this,” began Belton; “you know that there is one serious flaw in the Constitution of the United States, which has already caused a world of trouble, and there is evidently a great deal more to come. You know that a ship’s boilers, engines, rigging, and so forth may be in perfect condition, but a serious leak in her bottom will sink the proudest vessel afloat. This flaw or defect in the Constitution of the United States is the relation of the General Government to the individual state. The vague, unsettled state of the relationship furnished the pretext for the Civil War. The General Government says to the citizen: ’I am your sovereign. You are my citizen and not the citizen of only one