Bernard said: “Well, Belton, we have at last arrived at a point of separation in our lives. I know the Anglo-Saxon race. He will never admit you to equality with him. I am fully determined on my course of action and will persevere.”
Each knew that further argument was unnecessary, and they arose to part. They stood up, looking each other squarely in the face, and shook hands in silence. Tears were in the eyes of both men. But each felt that he was heeding the call of duty, and neither had ever been known to falter. Belton returned to his room and retired to rest. Bernard called his messenger and sent him for every man of prominence in the Congress of the Imperium.
They all slept in the building. The leaders got out of bed and hurried to the president. He laid before them the plan he had shown Belton. They all accepted it and pronounced it good. He then told them that he had submitted it to Belton but that Belton was opposed. This took them somewhat by surprise, and finding that Belton was opposed to it they were sorry that they had spoken so hastily.
Bernard knew that such would be their feelings. He produced a written agreement and asked all who favored that plan to sign that paper, as that would be of service in bringing over other members. Ashamed to appear vacillating, they signed. They then left.
The Congress assembled next day, and President Belgrave submitted his plan. Belton swept the assembly with his eyes and told at a glance that there was a secret, formidable combination, and he decided that it would be useless to oppose the plan.
The President’s plan was adopted. Belton alone voted no.
Belton then arose and said: “Being no longer able to follow where the Imperium leads, I hereby tender my resignation as a member.”
The members stood aghast at these words, for death alone removed a member from the ranks of the Imperium, and asking to resign, according to their law was asking to be shot. Bernard and every member of the Congress crowded around Belton and begged him to reconsider, and not be so cruel to his comrades as to make them fire bullets into his noble heart.
Belton was obdurate. According to the law of the Imperium, he was allowed thirty days in which to reconsider his request. Ordinarily those under sentence of death were kept in close confinement, but not so with Belton. He was allowed all liberty. In fact, it was the secret wish of every one that he might take advantage of his freedom and escape. But Belton was resolved to die.
As he now felt that his days on earth were few, his mind began to turn toward Antoinette. He longed to see her once more and just let her know that he loved her still. He at length decided to steal away to Richmond and have a last interview with her. All the pent up passion of years now burst forth in his soul, and as the train sped toward Virginia, he felt that love would run him mad ere he saw Antoinette once more.