Read CHAPTER XXXI of The Hindered Hand / The Reign of the Repressionist, free online book, by Sutton E. Griggs, on ReadCentral.com.

Two of a Kind.

While Ensal was absent from the room Mr. Hostility had caught sight of a book which he perceived was the work of a rather conspicuous Southern man, who had set for himself the task of turning the entire Negro population out of America. He clutched the book eagerly and said to himself:

“I will further inflame the fellow with this venomous assault on his race. I will further ripen his heart for my purposes.”

Upon Ensal’s return to the room, Mr. Hostility called his attention to the book written for the express purpose of thoroughly discrediting the Negro race in America. The militant look that came into Ensal’s eye pleased Mr. Hostility immensely. “I will get him! I will get him!” thought he.

Ensal did not speak for some time, allowing his weary mind to go forth upon excursions of thought begotten by the mention of the book. The movement for which this book stood, constituted what Ensal regarded as one of the most menacing phases of the problem of the relation of the races. He knew that in the very nature of things a policy of misrepresentation was the necessary concomitant of a policy of repression. Now that the repressionists were invading the realm of literature to ply their trade, he saw how that the Negro was to be attacked in the quiet of the AMERICAN HOME, the final arbiter of so many of earth’s most momentous questions, and he trembled at the havoc vile misrepresentations would play before the truth could get a hearing.

Ensal thought of the odds against the Negro in this literary battle: how that Southern white people, being more extensive purchasers of books than the Negroes, would have the natural bias of great publishing agencies on their side; how that Northern white people, resident in the South, for social and business reasons, might hesitate to father books not in keeping with the prevailing sentiment of Southern white people; how that residents of the North, who essayed to write in defense of the Negro, were laughed out of school as mere theorists ignorant of actual conditions; and, finally, how that a lack of leisure and the absence of general culture handicapped the Negro in fighting his own battle in this species of warfare.

At last Ensal discussed the book with such warmth that Mr. Hostility greatly rejoiced. Leaning across the table, his fiery eyes glowing more fiercely than ever, he almost shrieked:

“Friend, aside from that book, knowest thou not unto what the content of the Southern policy is leading? Extinction, sir, extinction! Listen to me awhile.”

“One could hardly be more absorbed than I am at this moment,” said Ensal, rather glad of the warmth of the discussion that took his mind somewhat away from his personal grief.

“The Southern white man, when it comes to you, is a believer in caste. He believes or professes to believe that God, who created the worm and the bird, also created the Negro and the white man, and that the gulf between these respective orders of creations is just as wide in the one case as in the other. Follow this caste idea to its last analysis. The lower orders must give way to the higher. The mineral is absorbed into the vegetable and we get the herb, the cow comes along and crops the herb, the man comes along and eats the cow. The higher order is given the power of life and death over the lower. Can’t you see that your race is simply preserved because it is not yet in the way of the white race?” said Mr. Hostility.

“Proceed,” said Ensal.

“Even now, when have you heard of a white man’s being hanged for the murder of a Negro, however cold-blooded the murder? Can’t you see the awful significance of that fact? Over seventy-five thousand Negroes have been murdered in the South since your Civil War and I know of just one hanging of a white as a result. Again, the worst houses to live in are assigned to your people; the lower forms of labor, involving the most exposure and danger to life, are reserved for your folks. Phosphate mines and guano factories shorten human life wofully and your people are sought for these ‘life shortening’ jobs. Mark my words,” said Mr. Hostility, rising and bending across the table, “when the Anglo-Saxon feels the need of it, he is going to exterminate you folks. Theories to the wind! When has a theory or sentiment of any kind been allowed to stand in the way of his interests?”

“Well, what are we to do?” asked Ensal, anxious to draw the man out.

The man dropped back to his seat. “Now that’s right,” said he; “’Where there is a will there is a way,’ you Americans say.” Reaching into his vest pocket he pulled out a bottle which was hermetically sealed. “There, there, lies your salvation,” said he, tapping the bottle.

“How so?” enquired Ensal.

“This thing came to me like a revelation,” said the man. “The way to attack an enemy is to get at him where you can do him the most harm at the least risk to yourself.” A sinister smile now played upon the man’s face. “Your color is the thing that operates against you Negroes. You can take what is your curse and make it your salvation.”

The man was delighted with the interest that was plainly evident on Ensal’s face.

“Listen!” said he, bending forward and speaking in low tones. “The pigment which abides in your skin and gives you your color and the peculiar Negro odor renders you immune from yellow fever. This bottle here is full of yellow fever germs. Organize you a band of trusted Negroes, send them through the South, let them empty these germs into the various reservoirs of the white people of the South and pollute the water. The greatest scourge that the world has ever known will rage in the South. The whites will die by the millions and those that do not die will flee from the stricken land and leave the country to your people.

“The desolation wrought will for a time disorganize this whole nation and the Pan-Slavists will have the more time to plan for the coming struggle.

“My scheme helps you and helps the Pan-Slavist cause and disposes of a common foe, a section of the white race. Of course, we will have you Negroes to fight in the last contest. But you would prefer being the ones living to make the fight, would you not?” asked the man, now nervously awaiting Ensal’s next words.

Ensal was silent for a few seconds. Then he asked slowly:

“Do you make that proposition to me, a follower of the Christ?”

“I have anticipated you there. Did not God use plagues and a wholesale slaughter to solve the Egyptian race problem? Shall you be more righteous than God?”

“Really would you, a civilized being, propose to me a course that involves the wholesale destruction of women and innocent babes?” asked Ensal with mounting wrath.

“Did not your God tell the Hebrews to wage a war of extermination on the Canaanites?” asked the man.

Ensal arose and pointing his index finger at the man, said with a voice vibrant with deep feeling:

“Now hear me a while. During the Civil War my race met the requirements of honor where-ever the test was applied whether it was in the test of the soldier on the field of battle or the slave guarding the women and children at home.

“Nor has freedom altered this trait of Negro character,” continued Ensal. “When discussion rages fiercest, Negro servants continue to abide in white families, with no thought of leaving or of being dismissed. Negro men sit in carriages by the side of the fairest daughters of the Southland and take them in safety from place to place. The Negroes do the cooking for the whites, nurse their babies, and our mothers hover about the bedside of their dying. This they do while their hearts are yearning for a better day for themselves and their kind. But the racial honor is above being tainted. Let the Anglo-Saxon crush us if he will and if there is no God! But I say to you, the Negro can never be provoked to stoop to the perfidy and infamy which you suggest.

“And as for you, sir, I pronounce you the true yoke fellow of him about whose book we have been talking, who, wearing the livery of the unifier of the human race, smites the bridge of sympathy which the ages have builded between man and man, who, inflamed racial egotist that he is, would burn humanity at the stake for the sake of the glare that it would cast upon the pathway of the one race. Is the issue clearly enough drawn between us?”

Mr. Hostility nervously folded his map of the world, restored his bottle of germs to his pocket, and stood facing Ensal in silence for a few seconds, his keen disappointment adding to the uncanny look of his face.

“Remember, we have each other’s secrets,” said Mr. Hostility meaningly in tones that showed his keen regret at the failure in this instance of his long cherished scheme. This somewhat recalled Ensal to himself.

“Yes! Yes! Fear me not. I do not need to impose anything whatever between your suggestion and our racial honor. That is simply unapproachable from that quarter. For that reason I am not tempted to repeat to others what you have said to me.”

Thus reassured, Mr. Hostility made a bow of mock humility, directed at Ensal a look of utter contempt, and disappeared.

Ensal dropped upon his knees and prayed thus:

“O Spirit eternal, God of our fathers, move thou upon the hearts of the American people and bid them to lift thy children of the darker hue from their ‘low ground of sorrow,’ where all the evil influences of the world feel free to tempt them. In all the dark night that may yet await them, when men shall so beset them as to threaten the sustaining influence of patriotism, grant from the dawn eternal the lighted taper of hope that shall throw its beams athwart the darkness, and furnish a cheering glimpse of the fair end of all things. Watch with thine all seeing eye and nail with thine omnipotent hand the machinations of those who would poison human hearts and destroy the humane instincts that are the graces of our faulty world. Abide thou here forever and grant that the post of pilot of our planet be given unto this land unto which, though I depart, my heart is moored by the sweat of brow, flowing blood and anguish of spirit contributed by my ancestors. Grant unto this prayer the full measure of consideration that can be bestowed by divine will upon the heart pleadings of an earnest humble soul.”