Belton’s speech had, like dynamite, blasted away all opposition. He was in thorough mastery of the situation. The waves of the sea were now calm, the fierce winds had abated, there was a great rift in the dark clouds. The ship of state was sailing placidly on the bosom of the erstwhile troubled sea, and Belton was at the helm.
His propositions were adopted in their entirety without one dissenting voice.
When the members left the Congress hall that evening they breathed freely, feeling that the great race problem was, at last, about to be definitely settled.
But, alas! how far wrong they were!
As Belton was leaving the chamber Bernard approached him and put his hands fondly on his shoulders.
Bernard’s curly hair was disordered and a strange fire gleamed in his eye. He said: “Come over to the mansion to-night. I wish much to see you. Come about nine P.M.”
Belton agreed to go.
THE PARTING OF WAYS.
At the hour appointed Belton was at the door of the president’s mansion and Bernard was there to meet him. They walked in and entered the same room where years before Belton had, in the name of the Congress, offered Bernard the Presidency of the Imperium.
The evening was mild, and the window, which ran down to the floor, was hoisted. The moon was shedding her full light and Bernard had not lighted his lamp. Each of them took seats near the window, one on one side and the other on the other, their faces toward the lawn.
“Belton,” said Bernard, “that was a masterly speech you made to-day. If orations are measured according to difficulties surmounted and results achieved, yours ought to rank as a masterpiece. Aside from that, it was a daring deed. Few men would have attempted to rush in and quell that storm as you did. They would have been afraid of being torn to shreds, so to speak, and all to no purpose. Let me congratulate you.” So saying he extended his hand and grasped Belton’s feelingly.
Belton replied in a somewhat melancholy strain: “Bernard, that speech and its result ended my life’s work. I have known long since that a crisis between the two races would come some day and I lived with the hope of being used by God to turn the current the right way. This I have done, and my work is over.”
“Ah, no, Belton; greater achievements, by far, you shall accomplish. The fact is, I have called you over here to-night to acquaint you with a scheme that means eternal glory and honor to us both.”
Belton smiled and shook his head.
“When I fully reveal my plan to you, you will change your mind.”
“Well, Bernard, let us hear it.”
“When you closed your speech to-day, a bright light shot athwart my brain and revealed to me something glorious. I came home determined to work it out in detail. This I have done, and now I hand this plan to you to ascertain your views and secure your cooperation.” So saying he handed Belton a foolscap sheet of paper on which the following was written: