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- Bricks Without Straw - 70/87 -


some of them even going into remote States with some precipitation and an apparent desire to remain for a time unknown. It was even rumored that Hesden was with Nimbus, disguised as a negro, in the attack made on the Klan during the raid on Red Wing, and that, by means of the detectives, he had discovered every man engaged in that patriotic affair, as well as those concerned in others of like character. The disappearance of these men was, of course, in no way connected with this rumor. Since the "Southern people" have become the great jesters of the world, their conduct is not at all to be judged by the ordinary rules of cause and effect as applied to human action. It might have been mere buffoonery, quite as well as modesty, that possessed some of the "best citizens of Horsford" with an irrepressible desire to view the Falls of Niagara from the Canadian side in mid-winter. There is no accounting for the acts of a nation of masqueraders!

But perhaps the most generally-accepted version of Hesden's journey was that he had run away to espouse Mollie Ainslie. To her was traced his whole bias toward the colored population and "Radical" principles. Nothing evil was said of her character. She was admitted to be as good as anybody of her class could be--intelligent, bigoted, plucky, pretty, and malicious. It was a great pity that a man belonging to a good family should become infatuated by one in her station. He could never bring her home, and she would never give up her "nigger-equality notions." She had already dragged him down to what he was. Such a man as he, it was strenuously asserted, would not degrade himself to stand up for such a man as Jordan Jackson or to associate with "niggers," without some powerful extraneous influence. That influence was Mollie Ainslie, who, having inveigled him into "Radicalism," had now drawn him after her into the North and matrimony.

But nowhere did the conduct of Hesden cause more intense or conflicting feelings than at Mulberry Hill. His achievement in succoring, hiding, and finally rescuing Eliab Hill was a source of never-ending wonder, applause, and mirth in the kitchen. But Miss Hetty could not find words to express her anger and chagrin. Without being at all forward or immodest, she had desired to succeed her dead sister in the good graces of Hesden Le Moyne, as well as in the position of mistress of the Hill. It was a very natural and proper feeling. They were cousins, had always been neighbors, and Hesden's mother had encouraged the idea, almost from the time of his first wife's death. It was no wonder that she was jealous of the Yankee school-marm. Love is keen-eyed, and she really loved her cousin. She had become satisfied, during her stay at the Hill, that he was deeply attached to Mollie Ainslie, and knew him too well to hope that he would change; and such a conviction was, of course, not pleasant to her vanity. But when she was convinced that he had degraded himself and her by espousing "Radicalism" and associating with "niggers," her wrath knew no bounds. It seemed an especial insult to her that the man whom she had honored with her affection should have so demeaned himself.

Mrs. Le Moyne was at first astonished, then grieved, and finally angry. She especially sympathized with Hetty, the wreck of whose hope she saw in this revelation. If Mollie Ainslie had been "one of our people," instead of "a Northern nigger school-teacher," there would have been nothing so very bad about it. He had never professed any especial regard or tenderness for Miss Hetty, and had never given her any reason to expect a nearer relation than she had always sustained toward him. Mollie was good enough in her way, bright and pretty and--but faugh! the idea! She would not believe it! Hesden was not and could not be a "Radical." He might have sheltered Eliab--ought to have done so; that she _would_ say. He had been a slave of the family, and had a right to look to her son for protection. But to be a "Radical!" She would not believe it. There was no use in talking to her. She remained stubbornly silent after she had gotten to the conclusive denial: "He could not do it!"

Nevertheless, she thought it well to use her power while she had any. If he was indeed a "Radical," she would never forgive him--never! So she determined to make her will. A man learned in the law was brought to the Hill, and Hester Le Moyne, in due form, by her last will and testament devised the plantation to her beloved son Hesden Le Moyne, and her affectionate cousin Hetty Lomax, jointly, and to their heirs forever, on condition that the said devisees should intermarry with each other within one year from the death of the devisor; and in case either of the said devisees should refuse to intermarry with the other, then the part of such devisee was to go to the other, who should thereafter hold the fee in severalty, free of all claim from the other.

The New York and Boston papers contained, day after day, this "personal:"

"The heirs of James Richards, deceased, formerly of Marblehead, Massachusetts, will learn something to their advantage by addressing Theron Pardee, care of James & Jones, Attorneys, at No. -- Broadway, N. Y."

Mrs. Le Moyne was well aware of this, and also remembered her promise to surrender the estate, should an heir be found. But that promise had been made under the influence of Hesden's ardent zeal for the right, and she found by indirection many excuses for avoiding its performance. "Of course," she said to herself, "if heirs should be found in my lifetime, I would revoke this testament; but it is not right that I should bind those who come after me for all time to yield to his Quixotic notions. Besides, why should I be juster than the law? This property has been in the family for a long time, and ought to remain there."

Her anger at Hesden burned very fiercely, and she even talked of refusing to see him, should he return, as she had no real doubt he would. The excitement, however, prostrated her as usual, and her anger turned into querulous complainings as she grew weaker.

The return of Hesden, hardly a week after his departure, brought him to face this tide of vituperation at its flood. All that had been said and written and done in regard to himself came forthwith to his knowledge. He was amazed, astounded for a time, at the revelation. He had not expected it. He had expected anger, and was prepared to meet it with forbearance and gentleness; but he was not prepared for detraction and calumny and insult. He had not been so very much surprised at the odium which had been heaped upon Jordan Jackson. He belonged to that class of white people at the South to whom the better class owed little duty or regard. It was not so strange that they should slander that man. He could understand, too, how it was that they attributed to the colored people such incredible depravity, such capacity for evil, such impossible designs, as well as the reason why they invented for every Northern man that came among them with ideas different from their own a fictitious past, reeking with infamy.

He could sympathize in some degree with all of this. He had not thought, himself, that it was altogether the proper thing for the illiterate "poor-white" man, Jordan Jackson, to lead the negroes of the county in political hostility to the whites. He had felt naturally the distrust of the man of Northern birth which a century of hostility and suspicion had bred in the air of the South. He had grown up in it. He had been taught to regard the "Yankees" (which meant all Northerners) as a distinct people--sometimes generous and brave, but normally envious, mean, low-spirited, treacherous, and malignant. He admitted the exceptions, but they only proved the rule. As a class he considered them cold, calculating, selfish, greedy of power and wealth, and regardless of the means by which these were acquired. Above all things, he had been taught to regard them as animated by hatred of the South. Knowing that this had been his own bias, he could readily excuse his neighbors for the same.

But in his own case it was different. _He_ was one of themselves. They knew him to be brave, honorable, of good family, of conservative instincts, fond of justice and fair play, and governed in his actions only by the sincerest conviction. That they should accuse him of every mean and low impossibility of act and motive, and befoul his holiest purposes and thoughts, was to him a most horrible thing. His anger grew hotter and hotter, as he listened to each new tale of infamy which a week had sufficed to set afloat. Then he heard his mother's reproaches, and saw that even her love was not proof against a mere change of political sentiment on his part. These things set him to thinking as he had never thought before. The scales fell from his eyes, and from the kindly gentle Southern man of knightly instincts and gallant achievements was born--the "pestiferous Radical." He did not hesitate to avow his conviction, and from that moment there was around him a wall of fire. He had lost his rank, degraded his caste, and fallen from his high estate. From and after that moment he was held unworthy to wear the proud appellation, "A Southern Gentleman."

However, as he took no active part in political life, and depended in no degree upon the patronage or good will of his neighbors for a livelihood, he felt the force of this feeling only in his social relations. Unaware, as yet, of the disherison which his mother had visited upon him in his absence, he continued to manage the plantation and conduct all the business pertaining to it in his own name, as he had done ever since the close of the war. At first he entertained a hope that the feeling against him would die out. But as time rolled on, and it continued still potent and virulent, he came to analyze it more closely, judging his fellows by himself, and saw that it was the natural fruit of that intolerance which slavery made necessary--which was essential to its existence. Then he no longer wondered at them, but at himself. It did not seem strange that they should feel as they did, but rather that he should so soon have escaped from the tyrannical bias of mental habit. He saw that the struggle against it must be long and bitter, and he determined not to yield his convictions to the prejudices of others.

It was a strange thing. In one part of the country--and that the greater in numbers, in wealth, in enterprise and vigor, in average intelligence and intellectual achievements--the sentiments he had espoused were professed and believed by a great party which prided itself upon its intelligence, purity, respectability, and devotion to principle. In two thirds of the country his sentiments were held to be honorable, wise, and patriotic. Every act he had performed, every principle he had reluctantly avowed, would there have been applauded of all men. Nay, the people of that portion of the country were unable to believe that any one could seriously deny those principles. Yet in the other portion, where he lived, they were esteemed an ineffaceable brand of shame, which no merit of a spotless life could hide.

The _Southern Clarion_, a newspaper of the County of Horsford, in referring to his conduct, said:

"Of all such an example should be made. Inaugurate social ostracism against every white man who gives any support to the Radical Party. Every true Southern man or woman should refuse to recognize as a gentleman any man belonging to that party, or having any dealings with it. Hesden Le Moyne has chosen to degrade an honored name. He has elected to go with niggers, nigger teachers, and nigger


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