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A Council Of State
by [?]

“What brings you out this way to-day?” questioned Aldrich.

“I’ll tell you. You’ve asked me to marry you, haven’t you?”


“Well, I’m going to do it.”

“Annie, you make me too happy.”

“That’s enough,” said Miss Kirkman, waving him away. “We haven’t any time for romance now. I mean business. You’re going to the convention next week.”


“And you’re going to speak?”

“Of course.”

“That’s right. Let me see your speech.”

He drew a typewritten manuscript from the drawer and handed it to her. She ran her eyes over the pages, murmuring to herself. “Uh, huh, ‘wavering, weak, vaciliating adminstration, have not given us the protection our rights as citizens demanded–while our brothers were murdered in the South. Nero fiddled while Rome burned, while this modern’–uh, huh, oh, yes, just as I thought,” and with a sudden twist Miss Kirkman tore the papers across and pitched them into the grate.

“Miss Kirkman–Annie, what do you mean?”

“I mean that if you’re going to marry me, I’m not going to let you go to the convention and kill yourself.”

“But my convictions–“

“Look here, don’t talk to me about convictions. The colored man is the under dog, and the under dog has no right to have convictions. Listen, you’re going to the convention next week and you’re going to make a speech, but it won’t be that speech. I have just come from Mr. Hamilton’s. That convention is to be watched closely. He is to have his people there and they are to take down the words of every man who talks, and these words will be sent to his central committee. The man who goes there with an imprudent tongue goes down. You’d better get to work and see if you can’t think of something good the administration has done and dwell on that.”


“Well, I’m off.”

“But Annie, about the wedding?”

“Good-morning, we’ll talk about the wedding after the convention.”

The door closed on her last words, and Joseph Aldrich sat there wondering and dazed at her manner. Then he began to think about the administration. There must be some good things to say for it, and he would find them. Yes, Annie was right–and wasn’t she a hustler though?


It was on the morning of the 22d and near nine o’clock, the hour at which the convention was to be called to order. But Mr. Gray of Ohio had not yet gone in. He stood at the door of the convention hall in deep converse with another man. His companion was a young looking sort of person. His forehead was high and his eyes were keen and alert. The face was mobile and the mouth nervous. It was the face of an enthusiast, a man with deep and intense beliefs, and the boldness or, perhaps, rashness to uphold them.

“I tell you, Gray,” he was saying, “it’s an outrage, nothing less. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Bah! It’s all twaddle. Why, we can’t even be secure in the first two, how can we hope for the last?”

“You’re right, Elkins,” said Gray, soberly, “and though I hold a position under the administration, when it comes to a consideration of the wrongs of my race, I cannot remain silent.”

“I cannot and will not. I hold nothing from them, and I owe them nothing. I am only a bookkeeper in a commercial house, where their spite cannot reach me, so you may rest assured that I shall not bite my tongue.”

“Nor shall I. We shall all be colored men here together, and talk, I hope, freely one to the other. Shall you introduce your resolution to-day?”

“I won’t have a chance unless things move more rapidly than I expect them to. It will have to come up under new business, I should think.”

“Hardly. Get yourself appointed on the committee on resolutions.”

“Good, but how can I?”

“I’ll see to that; I know the bishop pretty well. Ah, good-morning, Miss Kirkman. How do you do, Aldrich?” Gray pursued, turning to the newcomers, who returned his greeting, and passed into the hall.