“Ah! yes-it’s very amiable to think; but how much more praiseworthy to act! If we southern ladies set ourselves about it we can do a great deal; we can save the poor creatures being sold, like cows and calves, in this free country. We must save ourselves from the moral degradation that is upon us. What a pity Marston’s friends did not make an effort to change his course! If they had he would not now be in the hands of that Graspum. We are surrounded by a world of temptation; and yet our planters yield to them; they think everything a certainty, forgetting that the moment they fall into Graspum’s hands they are gone.”
Mr. Scranton acknowledges he likes the look of things on the plantation, but suggests that it will be considered an innovation,—an innovation too dangerous to be considered. Innovations are dangerous with him,—unpopular, cannot amount to much practical good. He gives these insinuations merely as happy expressions of his own profound opinion. The carriage approaches the villa, which, seen from the distance, seems sleeping in the calm of night. Mr. Scranton is like those among us who are always fearing, but never make an effort to remove the cause; they, too, are doggedly attached to political inconsistency, and, though at times led to see the evil, never can be made to acknowledge the wrong. They reach the garden gate; Mr. Scranton begs to be excused from entering the Villa,—takes a formal leave of his friend, and wends his way home, thinking. “There’s something in it!” he says to himself, as he passes the old bridge that separates the city from the suburb. “It’s not so much for the present as it is for the hereafter. Nobody thinks of repairing this old bridge, and yet it has been decaying under our eyes for years. Some day it will suddenly fall,—a dozen people will be precipitated into the water below, some killed; the city will then resound with lamentations; every body knows it must take place one of these days, everybody is to blame, but no special criminal can be found. There’s something in the comparison!” he says, looking over the old railing into the water. And then his thoughts wandered to the plantation. There the germs of an enlightened policy were growing up; the purity of a noble woman’s heart was spreading blessings among a downcast race, cultivating their minds, raising them up to do good for themselves, to reward the efforts of the benefactor. Her motto was:—Let us through simple means seek the elevation of a class of beings whose degradation has distracted the political wisdom of our happy country, from its conquest to the present day. “There’s something in it,” again mutters Mr. Scranton, as he enters his room, lights his taper, and with his elbow resting on the table, his head supported in his hand, sits musing over the subject.
Elder Pemberton praiseworthy changes his business.