OPC

Multi-culturalbooks.com
                                     
  gene@eugenestovall.com

GRIFFIN’S WAY

 

HECTOR’S HOUSE WAS EXACTLY WHAT CANDANCE HAD EXPECTED IT TO BE: A LONG, LOW BUNGALOW WITH A VERANDA RUNNING ALL THE WAY ACROSS THE FRONT OF IT. ALSO, JUST AS SHE HAD EXPECTED, IT SHOWED NO SIGNS OF EVER HAVING BEEN PAINTED; AND ONE SIDE OF THE VERANDA WAS FILLED UP WITH SADDLES, HARNESSES, SACKS OF COTTON SEED, A BROKEN WAGON WHEEL WAITING TO BE MENDED, EARS OF CORN HANGING FROM THE CEILING TO DRY, AND CHILDREN PLAYING CHEERFULLY AMID ALL THE DIRT AND DISORDER. SHE HAD EXPECTED IT TO BE THE WAY IT

WAS, BECAUSE NINETY-NINE AND SOME HUNDRETHS PER CENT OF ALL PLANTERS’ HOUSES LOOKED LIKE THIS. NEO-GRECIAN

MANSIONS HAD BEEN RARE, EVEN BEFORE THE WAR. AS RARE, ACTUALLY, AS PEOPLE WHO HAD OWNED MORE THAN TWO

SLAVES.

 

THEY HAD COME CLOSE ENOUGH BY THEN TO ATTRACT THE ATTENTION OF THE CHILDREN.

 

“UNCLE PARIS!” ONE OF THEM SHRILLED. THEN ALL FOUR OF THEM CAME FLYING DOWN THE STAIRS.

 

AND CANDACE SAT THERE FROZEN. SICK WITH SHOCK. BECAUSE TWO OF THOSE FOUR CHILDREN WEREN’T WHITE. AND THE OTHER TWO? THE OLDEST, A GIRL SOME THIRTEEN OR FOURTEEN YEARS OLD, CANDACE COULDN’T TELL. THERE WAS NO WAY TO.HER HAIR WAS A SHADE DARKER THAN BLONDE, ABOUT THE COLOR OF HONEY, CANDACE DECIDED; AND HER EYES WERE BLUE. ONE OF THE BOYS, THE OLDEST ONE, WAS AS WHITE AS HIS SISTER, AND, IF ANYTHING, BLONDER; BUT THERE WAS A FULLNESS ABOUT THE LIPS, A FLATNESS ABOUT HIS NOSE, THAT UNDER OTHER CIRCUMSTANCES, CANDACE WOULD

HAVE FOUND ADORABLE. THE OTHER TWO WERE CLEARLY TARBRUSHED: THE BOY, ONE OF THOSE MULATTO TYPES THAT ARE AN IMPROVEMENT OVER BOTH THE PARENT RACES; AND THE LITTLE GIRL, COPPERY BROWN, KINKY HAIRED, NEGROID, VIVID AND ALIVE …

 

BUT PARIS HAD CLIMBED DOWN AND GATHERED THEM INTO HIS ARMS. THEY KISSED HIM, WIGGLING LIKE PUPPIES FROM PURE DELIGHT; AND SHE, CANDACE, NOW THAT THE SHOCK HAD PASSED, SAT THERE EQUALLY FROZEN; BUT THIS TIME FROM SHAME. 

 

******

 

HE RODE ON OUT TO THE BIG GATE. OPENED HIS MAILBOX. THERE WAS NOTHING IN IT BUT THE VICKSBURG HERALD. ON THE FRONT PAGE WAS ANOTHER SPEECH BY BRUCE RANDOLPH. PARIS READ IT SLOWLY. FOR SOME REASON OR ANOTHER, HE JUST COULDN’T COTTON TO THE NEGRO EDUCATOR. HE TRIED NOW TO ANALYZE THAT FEELING. IT HAD NOTHING WHATSOEVER TO DO WITH OVERT RACIAL PREJUDICE, NOR EVEN WITH THAT AGE-OLD, SUBCONSCIOUS EMOTIONAL REACTION OF INSTINCTIVE REPUGNANCE TOWARDS A PEOPLE WHOSE PHYSICAL ATTRIBUTES WERE SO VASTLY DISTINCT FROM ONE’S OWN, WHICH THE MOST LIBERAL INDIVIDUAL ON GOD’S GREEN EARTH HAS TO WATCH AND FIGHT, LIFELONG, TO PREVENT ITS IMPAIRING THE FAIRNESS OF HIS JUDGEMENT. WHAT IT WAS, PARIS FINALLY DECIDED, WAS, IN A WAY, DISAPPOINTMENT. HE HAD HOPED THAT RANDOLPH WOULD BE A BETTER MAN THAN HE WAS. HE HAD WANTED TO BE CONVINCED THAT, DESPITE ALL THE OVERWHELMING EVIDENCES TO THE CONTRARY, THE BLACK RACE WAS CAPABLE OF PRODUCING MEN OF INTELLECTUAL CAPACITY AND MORAL FIBER EQUAL TO THE BEST WHITE MEN. ABOUT HIS INTELLECTUAL CAPACITY, THERE SEEMED LITTLE DOUBT: BRUCE RANDOLPH’S PUBLISHED SPEECHES AND ARTICLES HAD STYLE, POLISH, WIT, EVEN EVIDENCES OF THAT INDEFINABLE EXTRA SOMETHING THAT ONE COULD LEGITIMATELY CALL GENIUS. BUT MORAL FIBER? THAT  WAS THE RUB!

 

THAT BLACK PARAGON, AS PARIS HAD FALLEN INTO THE HABIT OF MOCKINGLY CALLING HIM … HAD LEAPED INTO POLITICS LIKE A RABBIT INTO THE BRIAR PATCH. WITHIN WEEKS AFTER THE FORMER COUNTY SUPERINTENDENT OF EDUCATION HAD SNEAKED AWAY, HIS CARPETBAG STUFFED WITH THE SCHOOL BOARD’S FUNDS, RANDOLPH HAD CAMPAIGNED FOR THAT OFFICE AND WON IT, LARGELY BY PROMISING ALL THINGS TO ALL MEN. ONE DAY HIS GOAL WAS TO PRODUCE NEAT, CLEAN NEGROES TRAINED IN DOMESTIC SCIENCE, AGRICULTURE AND MECHANICAL ARTS – WHICH SUITED THE CONSERVATIVES MIGHTY-FINE. BUT THE NEXT DAY, IN A SPEECH BEFORE THE RADICAL REPUBLICANS, HE PROMISED VOTING MILITANTS MARCHING AHEAD INTO THE NEW DAY. MUTUALLY CONTRADICTORY PROMISES. WHICH WAS, OF COURSE, MERELY POLITICS. ONLY NEGROES COULDN’T AFFORD LEADERS WHO WERE MERE POLITICIANS; WHAT THEY NEEDED WERE STATESMEN—EVEN SAINTS, MAYBE. TOO MUCH TO ASK, OF COURSE.



  Click Here To Purchase GRIFFIN'S WAY