Hopkins, Pauline E.
|CHAPTER IX. -- "LOVE TOOK UP THE HARP OF LIFE."|
"Oh, no," replied the girl, as she rose from her knees by her mother's side and began putting her things away and preparing for the night. "Isn't it strange what a queer old world this is? If you are happy I am not, or vice versa . It does seem that one thing or another is always happening to vex a body. And the worst of it is that it may happen that we are impatient and unhappy about things that are trivial. I don't feel sweet-tempered tonight, and really, I can't tell why."
Ma Smith glanced at her daughter sharply but said nothing, as Dora thrust her bare feet into bedroom slippers and proceeded to undo the thick masses of curling brown hair, and brush and arrange it for the night. The mother knew that her daughter would unburden her mind presently, and so she waited patiently. It was not like Dora to be petulant and have moods. She was a happy, healthy, active girl, with a kindly disposition.
"Ma," said Dora after a silence, "why is it that Southern colored people seem to be so prejudiced against the Northern colored people? I always fancied that we were all in the same boat, and that mere accidental locality was not to be considered."
"That is true, my dear; but it must be that you imagine the prejudice to exist that you mention; surely we have outgrown such ideas, as a race, by this time."
Dora shook her head obstinately. "I fancied that the Wilsons slighted me tonight, and that they would have been better pleased if John had chosen a Southern girl."
"You are over-sensitive, Dora."
Dora did not reply, and after a moment's silence continued: "John said that he had not met a decent-looking woman who was Northern-born, and that when he did see a pretty colored girl on the street he knew without asking that she was a Southerner."
"That was rather thoughtless in John, but I don't think he meant to hurt your feelings, daughter."
"I cannot imagine what has got into him lately; he's not like himself. Oh, I do wish I was handsome like Sappho Clark! All the men are wild over her."
"Well, my dear, you don't harbor hard feelings
"Sappho is the best and dearest girl on earth, and I only hope that Will may be so lucky as to marry her. And, mummy, I hope Will will speak to her right off, so as to get the matter straightened out; there won't be a blessed man left to us girls if she remains single long."
Her mother smiled. "Daughter, I want to say just a word to you about our conversation: Don't allow jealousy to lurk in your heart; don't brood over unkind words; cast them from you. And I would have you remember, also, that sectional prejudice has always been fostered by the Southern whites among the Negroes to stifle natural feelings of brotherly love among us. Dissension means disunion. Carry these thoughts always in your mind, and act accordingly. Do not allow yourself to be made unhappy."
Meanwhile on the floor above them Sappho turned restlessly on her pillow, thinking of a noble head and bright dark eyes. She knew that Will Smith loved her. What woman does not feel the subtle intertwining of a kindred spirit linked to her own by the decree of Destiny, long years, perhaps, before either restless
"What have I done, what have I done to suffer thus? To give up all joy, and have only misery for all my life. I love this man; I know it now! I want his love, his care, his protection. I want him through life and beyond the grave, we two as one--my husband. Oh, my God, help me, help me!" Heavy sobs shook her frame. Broken exclamations fell from her lips. "I cannot! It must not be! So good, so noble! Oh, the happiness of home and love! must I be shut from them forever?"
Far into the night the agony of sobs continued. At last with a murmured prayer for help she fell asleep.