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The Clansman by Thomas Dixon

Stoneman was silent as if stunned


The

doctor cleared his throat with a quick little nervous cough he was in the habit of giving when deeply moved.

"Education, sir, is the development of that which _is_. Since the dawn of history the negro has owned the continent of Africa--rich beyond the dream of poet's fancy, crunching acres of diamonds beneath his bare black feet. Yet he never picked one up from the dust until a white man showed to him its glittering light. His land swarmed with powerful and docile animals, yet he never dreamed a harness, cart, or sled. A hunter by necessity, he never made an axe, spear, or arrowhead worth preserving beyond the moment of its use. He lived as an ox, content to graze for an hour. In a land of stone and timber he never sawed a foot of lumber, carved a block, or built a house save of broken sticks and mud. With league on league of ocean strand and miles of inland seas, for four thousand years he watched their surface ripple under the wind, heard the thunder of the surf on his beach, the howl of the storm over his head, gazed on the dim blue horizon calling him to worlds that lie beyond, and yet he never dreamed a sail! He lived as his fathers lived--stole his food, worked his wife, sold his children, ate his brother, content to drink, sing, dance, and sport as the ape!

"And this creature, half child, half animal, the sport of impulse, whim, and conceit, 'pleased with a rattle, tickled with a straw,' a being who,

left to his will, roams at night and sleeps in the day, whose speech knows no word of love, whose passions, once aroused, are as the fury of the tiger--they have set this thing to rule over the Southern people----"

The doctor sprang to his feet, his face livid, his eyes blazing with emotion. "Merciful God--it surpasses human belief!"

He sank exhausted in his chair, and, extending his hand in an eloquent gesture, continued:

"Surely, surely, sir, the people of the North are not mad? We can yet appeal to the conscience and the brain of our brethren of a common race?"

Stoneman was silent as if stunned. Deep down in his strange soul he was drunk with the joy of a triumphant vengeance he had carried locked in the depths of his being, yet the intensity of this man's suffering for a people's cause surprised and distressed him as all individual pain hurt him.

Dr. Cameron rose, stung by his silence and the consciousness of the hostility with which Stoneman had wrapped himself.

"Pardon my apparent rudeness, Doctor," he said at length, extending his hand. "The violence of your feeling stunned me for the moment. I'm obliged to you for speaking. I like a plain-spoken man. I am sorry to learn of the stupidity of the former military commandant in this town----"

"My personal wrongs, sir," the doctor broke in, "are nothing!"

"I am sorry, too, about these individual cases of suffering. They are the necessary incidents of a great upheaval. But may it not all come out right in the end? After the Dark Ages, day broke at last. We have the printing press, railroad, and telegraph--a revolution in human affairs. We may do in years what it took ages to do in the past. May not the black man speedily emerge? Who knows? An appeal to the North will be a waste of breath. This experiment is going to be made. It is written in the book of Fate. But I like you. Come to see me again."


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