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The Sins of the Father

The Sins of the Father: A Romance of the South

Thomas Dixon
With an Introduction by Steven Weisenburger
Copyright Date: 2004
Pages: 352
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt2jcv6b
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  • Book Info
    The Sins of the Father
    Book Description:

    " Today, Thomas Dixon is perhaps best known as the author of the best-selling early twentieth-century trilogy that included the novel The Clansman (1905), which provided the core narrative for D.W. Griffith's groundbreaking and still-controversial film The Birth of a Nation. It was The Sins of the Father, however, that Dixon regarded as the most aesthetically satisfying child of his Ku Klux Klan saga. In this novel he telescopes the trilogy's sprawling historical canvas into one tightly scripted narrative. A best-seller in 1912, the novel's themes of interracial sex and incest outraged many upon its publication. Nearly a century later, Dixon's work is undergoing a critical reevaluation. A new introduction by Steven Weisenburger lends a valuable historical and critical perspective to this important and divisive classic of American literature. Thomas Dixon (1864-1946) was born in Shelby, North Carolina. He is also the author of The Clansman and The Flaming Sword. Steven Weisenburger, Mossiker Chair in Humanities at Southern Methodist University, is the author of several books, including Modern Medea: A Family Story of Slavery and Child- murder from the Old South.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-7210-1
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-xii)
  3. Introduction
    (pp. xiii-xxx)
    Steven Weisenburger

    The Sins of the Fatheropens with a scene of writing and humiliation as the story’s protagonist, Raleigh, North Carolina, newspaper editor Daniel Norton, gazes out his office window at a “horror” perpetrated on “the conquered South.” In the city square recently freed slaves are auctioning the labor of aging white men and women bankrupted during the Civil War, and Norton recognizes one of those white-haired, newly indentured bondsmen as “the son of a hero of the American Revolution” (4). Thus gazing on what he considers a pantomime of the racially upside-down world created by Reconstruction-era carpetbaggers and scalawags, Norton...

  4. A Note on the Text
    (pp. xxxi-xxxii)
    Steven Weisenburger
  5. Book One: Sin

    • Chapter I The Woman in Yellow
      (pp. 3-17)

      The young editor ofThe Daily Eagle and Phoenixstraightened his tall figure from the pile of papers that smothered his desk, glanced at his foreman who stood waiting, and spoke in the quiet drawl he always used when excited:

      “Just a moment—’til I read this over——”

      The foreman nodded.

      He scanned the scrawled pencil manuscript twice and handed it up without changing a letter:

      “Set the title in heavy black-faced caps—black—the blackest you’ve got.”

      He read the title over again musingly, his strong mouth closing with a snap at its finish:

      The foreman took the...

    • Chapter II Cleo Enters
      (pp. 18-26)

      The conference of the carpetbagger with the little Governor proved more ominous than even Norton had feared. The blow struck was so daring, so swift and unexpected it stunned for a moment the entire white race.

      When the editor reached his office on the second morning after the raid, his desk was piled with telegrams from every quarter of the state. The Governor had issued a proclamation disarming every white military company and by wire had demanded the immediate surrender of their rifles to the negro Adjutant-General. The same proclamation had created an equal number of negro companies who were...

    • Chapter III A Beast Awakes
      (pp. 27-31)

      Within a week Norton bitterly regretted the arrangement he had made with Cleo. Not because she had failed to do her work properly, but precisely because she was doing it so well. She had apparently made it the sole object of her daily thought and the only task to which she devoted her time.

      He couldn’t accustom his mind to the extraordinary neatness with which she kept the office. The clean floor, the careful arrangement of the chairs, the neat piles of exchanges laid on a table she had placed beside his desk, and the vase of fresh flowers he...

    • Chapter IV The Arrest
      (pp. 32-39)

      The time had come in Norton’s fight when he was about to be put to a supreme test.

      The Governor was preparing the most daring and sensational movement of his never-to-be-forgotten administration. The audacity and thoroughness with which the Klan had disarmed and made ridiculous his army of fifty thousand negroes was at first a stunning blow. In vain Schlitz stormed and pleaded for National aid.

      “You must ask for Federal troops without a moment’s delay,” he urged desperately.

      The Scalawag shook his head with quiet determination.

      “Congress, under the iron rule of Stevens, will send them, I grant you—...

    • Chapter V The Rescue
      (pp. 40-48)

      Cleo hurried to the house, delivered the message, rocked the baby to sleep and quietly slipped through the lawn into the street and back to the jail.

      A single guard kept watch at the door. She saw him by a flash of moonlight and then passed so close she could have touched the long old-fashioned musket he carried loosely across his shoulder.

      The cat-like tread left no echo and she took her stand in the underbrush that had pushed its way closer and closer until its branches touched the rear walls of the jail. For two hours she stood amid...

    • Chapter VI A Traitor’s Ruse
      (pp. 49-53)

      The old Governor had made a correct guess on the line of action his little Scalawag successor in high office would take when confronted by the crisis of the morning.

      The Clansmen had left the two beams projecting through the windows of the north and south wings of the Capitol. A hangman’s noose swung from each beam’s end.

      When His Excellency drove into town next morning and received the news of the startling events of the night, he ordered a double guard of troops for his office and another for his house.

      Old Governor Carteret called at ten o’clock and...

    • Chapter VII The Irony of Fate
      (pp. 54-58)

      His political battle won, Norton turned his face homeward for a struggle in which victory would not come so easily. He had made up his mind that Cleo should not remain under his roof another day. How much she really knew or understood of the events of the night he could only guess. He was sure she had heard enough of the plans of his men to make a dangerous witness against him if she should see fit to betray the facts to his enemies.

      Yet he was morally certain that he could trust her with this secret. What he...

    • Chapter VIII A New Weapon
      (pp. 59-64)

      From the moment the jail doors opened the Governor felt the chill of defeat. With his armed guard of fifty thousand “Loyal” white men he hoped to stem the rising tide of Anglo-Saxon fury. But the hope was faint. There was no assurance in its warmth. Every leader he had arrested without warrant and held without bail was now a firebrand in a powder magazine. Mass meetings, barbecues and parades were scheduled for every day by his enemies in every county.

      The state was ablaze with wrath from the mountains to the sea. The orators of the white race spoke...

    • Chapter IX The Words That Cost
      (pp. 65-67)

      It was after midnight when Norton closed his desk and left for home. Bonfires were burning in the squares, bands were playing and hundreds of sober, gray-haired men were marching through the streets, hand in hand with shouting boys, cheering, cheering, forever cheering! He had made three speeches from the steps of theEagle and Phoenixbuilding and the crowds still stood there yelling his name and cheering. Broad-shouldered, bronzed men had rushed into his office one by one that night, hugged him and wrung his hands until they ached. He must have rest. The strain had been terrific and...

    • Chapter X Man to Man
      (pp. 68-74)

      Cleo made good her vow of perfect service. In the weeks which followed she made herself practically indispensable. Her energy was exhaustless, her strength tireless. She not only kept the baby and the little mother happy, she watched the lawn and the flowers. The men did no more loafing. The grass was cut, the hedges trimmed, every dead limb from shrub and tree removed and the old place began to smile with new life.

      Her work of housekeeper and maid-of-all-work was a marvel of efficiency. No orders were ever given to her. They were unnecessary. She knew by an unerring...

    • Chapter XI The Unbidden Guest
      (pp. 75-79)

      The night was a memorable one in Norton’s life. The members of the Legislature and the leaders of his party from every quarter of the state gave a banquet in his honor in the Hall of the House of Representatives. Eight hundred guests, the flower and chivalry of the Commonwealth, sat down at the eighty tables improvised for the occasion.

      Fifty leading men were guests of honor and vied with one another in acclaiming the brilliant young Speaker the coming statesman of the Nation. His name was linked with Hamilton, Jefferson, Webster, Clay and Calhoun. He was the youngest man...

    • Chapter XII The Judgment Bar
      (pp. 80-88)

      He paused at the gate. His legs for the moment simply refused to go any further. A light was burning in his wife’s room. Its radiance streaming against the white fluted columns threw their shadows far out on the lawn.

      The fine old house seemed to slowly melt in the starlight into a solemn Court of Justice set on the highest hill of the world. Its white boards were hewn slabs of gleaming marble, its quaint old Colonial door the grand entrance to the Judgment Hall of Life and Death. And the judge who sat on the high dais was...

    • Chapter XIII An Old Story
      (pp. 89-94)

      The doctor’s house lay beyond the Capitol and in his haste Norton forgot that a banquet was being held in his honor. He found himself suddenly face to face with the first of the departing guests as they began to pour through the gates of the Square.

      He couldn’t face these people, turned in his tracks, walked back to the next block and hurried into an obscure side street by which he could avoid them.

      The doctor had not retired. He was seated on his porch quietly smoking, as if he were expecting the call.

      “Well, you’ve bungled it, I...

    • Chapter XIV The Fight for Life
      (pp. 95-97)

      The little wife made a brave fight. For a week there was no sign of a breakdown save an unnatural brightness of the eyes that told the story of struggle within. He gave himself to the effort to help her win. He spent but an hour at the Capitol, left a Speakerpro temin the chair, hurried to his office, gave his orders and by eleven o’clock he was at home, talking, laughing, and planning a day’s work that would interest her and bring back the flush to her pale cheeks.

      She had responded to his increasing tenderness and...

    • Chapter XV Cleo’s Silence
      (pp. 98-99)

      For two weeks the wife held her own and the doctor grew more confident each day. When Norton began to feel sure the big danger was past his mind became alert once more to the existence of Cleo. He began to wonder why she had not made an effort to see or communicate with him.

      She had apparently vanished from the face of the earth. In spite of his effort to minimize the importance of this fact, her silence gradually grew in sinister significance. What did it mean? What was her active brain and vital personality up to? That it...

    • Chapter XVI The Larger Vision
      (pp. 100-107)

      His mind had just settled into this attitude of alert watchfulness toward Cleo when the first danger the doctor dreaded for his wife began to take shape.

      The feverish brightness in her eyes grew dimmer and her movements less vigorous. The dreaded reaction had come and the taut strings of weakened nerves could bear the strain no longer.

      With a cry of despair she threw herself into his arms:

      “Oh, Dan, dear, it’s no use! I’ve tried—I’ve tried so hard—but I can’t do it—I just don’t want to live any more!”

      He put his hands over the...

    • Chapter XVII The Opal Gates
      (pp. 108-111)

      The doctor was waiting at the hotel, his keen eyes very serious. He had guessed the sinister meaning of the summons. He was an unusually brusque man—almost rude in his words. He greeted Norton with friendly sympathy and smiled at the radiant face of the wife.

      “Well, little mother,” he said with grave humor, “we have more trouble. But you’re brave and patient. It’s a joy to work for you.”

      “And now,” she responded gayly, “you’ve got to finish this thing, doctor. I don’t want any more half-way operations. I’m going to get well this time. I’m happy and...

    • Chapter XVIII Questions
      (pp. 112-116)

      The thing that crushed the spirit of the man was not the shock of death with its thousand and one unanswerable questions torturing the soul, but the possibility that his acts had been the cause of the tragedy. Dr. Williams had said to him over and over again:

      “Make her will to live and she’ll recover!”

      He had fought this grim battle and won. She had willed to live and was happy. The world had never seemed so beautiful as the day she died. If the cause of her death lay further back in the curious accident which happened at...

    • Chapter XIX Cleo’s Cry
      (pp. 117-119)

      The decision once made was carried out without delay. He placed an editor permanently in charge of his paper, closed the tall green shutters of the stately old house, sold his horses, and bought tickets for himself and mammy for New York.

      He paused at the gate and looked back at the white pillars of which he had once been so proud. He hadn’t a single regret at leaving.

      “A house doesn’t make a home, after all!” he sighed with a lingering look.

      He took the boy to the cemetery for a last hour beside the mother’s grave before he...

    • Chapter XX The Blow Falls
      (pp. 120-124)

      For a time Norton lost himself in the stunning immensity of the life of New York. He made no effort to adjust himself to it. He simply allowed its waves to roll over and engulf him.

      He stopped with mammy and the boy at a brownstone boarding house on Stuyvesant Square kept by a Southern woman to whom he had a letter of introduction.

      Mrs. Beam was not an ideal landlady, but her good-natured helplessness appealed to him. She was a large woman of ample hips and bust, and though very tall seemed always in her own way. She moved...

    • Chapter XXI The Call of the Blood
      (pp. 125-132)

      It was all clear now, the mystery of Cleo’s assurance, of her happiness, of her acceptance of his going without protest.

      She had known the truth from the first and had reckoned on his strength and manliness to draw him to her in this hour.

      “I’ll show her!” he said in fierce rebellion. “I’ll give her the money she needs—yes—but her shadow shall never again darken my life. I won’t permit this shame to smirch the soul of my boy—I’ll die first!”

      He moved to the West side of town, permitted no one to learn his new...

  6. Book Two: Atonement

    • Chapter I The New Life Purpose
      (pp. 135-137)

      Norton had been compelled to wait twenty years for the hour when he could strike the first decisive blow in the execution of his new life purpose.

      But the aim he had set was so high, so utterly unselfish, so visionary, so impossible by the standards of modern materialism, he felt the thrill of the religious fanatic as he daily girded himself to his task.

      He was far from being a religious enthusiast, although he had grown a religion of his own, inherited in part, dreamed in part from the depth of his own heart. The first article of this...

    • Chapter II A Modern Scalawag
      (pp. 138-145)

      As the professor entered the office Norton was surprised at his height and weight. He had never met him personally, but had unconsciously formed the idea that he was a scrub physically.

      He saw a man above the average height, weighing nearly two hundred, with cheeks flabby but inclined to fat. It was not until he spoke that he caught the unmistakable note of effeminacy in his voice and saw it clearly reflected in his features.

      He was dressed with immaculate neatness and wore a tie of an extraordinary shade of lavender which matched the silk hose that showed above...

    • Chapter III His House in Order
      (pp. 146-149)

      Norton knew from the first that there could be no hope of success in such a campaign as he had planned except in the single iron will of a leader who would lead and whose voice lifted in impassioned appeal direct to the white race in every county of the state could rouse them to resistless enthusiasm.

      The man who undertook this work must burn the bridges behind him, ask nothing for himself and take his life daily in his hands. He knew the state from the sea to its farthest mountain peak and without the slightest vanity felt that...

    • Chapter IV The Man of the Hour
      (pp. 150-152)

      The editor prepared to launch his campaign with the utmost care. He invited the Executive Committee of his party to meet in his office. The leaders were excited. They knew Norton too well to doubt that he had something big to suggest. Some of them came from distant sections of the state, three hundred miles away, to hear his plans.

      He faced the distinguished group of leaders calmly, but every man present felt the deep undercurrent of excitement beneath his words.

      “With your coöperation, gentlemen,” he began, “we are going to sweep the state this time by an overwhelming majority—...

    • Chapter V A Woman Scorned
      (pp. 153-160)

      As the time drew near for Norton to take the field in the campaign whose fierce passions would mark a new era in the state’s history, his uneasiness over the attitude of Cleo increased.

      She had received the announcement of his approaching long absence with sullen anger. And as the purpose of the campaign gradually became clear she had watched him with growing suspicion and hate. He felt it in every glance she flashed from the depth of her greenish eyes.

      Though she had never said it in so many words, he was sure that the last hope of a...

    • Chapter VI An Old Comedy
      (pp. 161-168)

      Norton had scarcely passed his gate on the way to catch the train when Cleo left the window, where her keen eyes had been watching, and made her way rapidly to the room he had just vacated.

      Books and papers were scattered loosely over his table beside the typewriter which he had, with his usual carelessness, left open.

      With a quick decision she seated herself beside the machine and in two hours sufficiently mastered its use to write a letter by using a single finger and carefully touching the keys one by one.

      The light of a cunning purpose burned...

    • Chapter VII Trapped
      (pp. 169-176)

      Norton’s campaign during its first months was a continuous triumph. The opposition had been so completely stunned by the epoch-making declaration of principles on which he had chosen to conduct the fight that they had as yet been unable to rally their forces. Even the rival newspaper, founded to combat the ideas for which theEagle and Phoenixstood, was compelled to support Norton’s ticket to save itself from ruin. The young editor found a source of endless amusement in taunting the professor on this painful fact.

      The leader had chosen to begin his tour of the state in the...

    • Chapter VIII Behind the Bars
      (pp. 177-178)

      When Norton reached his room he locked the door and began to pace the floor, facing for the hundredth time the stunning situation which the presence of Helen had created.

      To reveal to such a sensitive, cultured girl just as she was budding into womanhood the fact that her blood was tainted with a negro ancestor would be an act so pitifully cruel that every instinct of his nature revolted from the thought.

      He began to realize that her life was at stake as well as his boy’s. That he loved this son with all the strength of his being...

    • Chapter IX Andy’s Dilemma
      (pp. 179-189)

      Andy left Norton’s door and rapped softly at Tom’s, tried the lock, found it unfastened, pushed his way quietly inside and called:

      “Mister Tom!”

      No answer came from the bed and Andy moved closer:

      “Mister Tom—Mister Tom!”

      “Ah—what’s the matter with you—get out!” the sleeper growled.

      The negro touched the boy’s shoulder with a friendly shake, whispering:

      “Yo’ Pa’s here!”

      Tom sat up in bed rubbing his eyes:

      “What’s that?”

      “Yassah, I fotch him through the country and we rid all night——”

      “What’s the matter?’

      “Dat’s what I wants ter see you ’bout, sah—an’ ef...

    • Chapter X The Best Laid Plans
      (pp. 190-193)

      Andy’s plans for a speedy conquest of Cleo were destined to an interruption. Minerva had decided that he was the best man in sight for a husband, and made up her mind to claim her own. She had noticed of late a disposition on his part to dally with Cleo, and determined to act immediately. Breakfast was well under way and she had heard Andy’s unctuous laugh in the library with Tom.

      She put on her sweeping apron, took up a broom and entered under the pretense of cleaning the room.

      Andy was still chuckling with joy over the brilliant...

    • Chapter XI A Reconnoitre
      (pp. 194-200)

      Norton slept at last from sheer physical exhaustion and waked at eleven o’clock refreshed and alert, his faculties again strung for action.

      He wondered in the clear light of noon at the folly of his panic the night before. The fighting instinct in him had always been the dominant one. He smiled now at his silly collapse and his quick brain began to plan his line of defense.

      The girl was in his house, yes. But she had been here in spirit, a living, breathing threat over his life, every moment for the past twenty years. No scene of pain...

    • Chapter XII The First Whisper
      (pp. 201-204)

      When Tom reached the lawn Helen was nowhere to be seen. He searched every nook and corner which they had been accustomed to haunt, looked through the rose garden and finally knocked timidly on the door of her room. He was sure at first that he heard a sound within. He dared not open her door and so hurried down town to see if he could find her in one of the stores.

      Helen shivering inside had held her breath until his footsteps died away on the stairs.

      With heavy heart but swift hands she was packing her trunk. In...

    • Chapter XIII Andy’s Proposal
      (pp. 205-209)

      Andy had been waiting patiently for Cleo to leave Helen’s door. He had tried in vain during the entire morning to get an opportunity to see her alone, but since Helen’s appearance at breakfast she had scarcely left the girl’s side for five minutes.

      He had slipped to the head of the back stairs, lifted the long flaps of the tail of his new coat and carefully seated himself on the last step to wait her appearance. He smiled with assurance. She couldn’t get down without a word at least.

      “I’m gwine ter bring things to er head dis day,...

    • Chapter XIV The Folly of Pity
      (pp. 210-217)

      Norton sat in the library for more than an hour trying to nerve himself for the interview while waiting for Helen. He had lighted and smoked two cigars in rapid succession and grown restless at her delay. He rose, strolled through the house and seeing nothing of either Tom or Helen, returned to the library and began pacing the floor with measured tread.

      He had made up his mind to do a cruel thing and told himself over and over again that cruel things are often best. The cruelty of surgery is the highest form of pity, pity expressed in...

    • Chapter XV A Discovery
      (pp. 218-224)

      Tom had grown restless waiting for Helen to emerge from the interminable interview with his father. A half dozen times he had walked past the library door only to hear the low hum of their voices still talking.

      “What on earth is it all about, I wonder?” he muttered. “Must be telling her the story of his whole life!”

      He had asked her to meet him in the old rose garden when she came out. For the dozenth time he strolled in and sat down on their favorite rustic. He could neither sit still nor content himself with wandering.

      “What...

    • Chapter XVI The Challenge
      (pp. 225-229)

      Norton was morally certain now that the boy was interested in Helen. How far this interest had gone he could only guess.

      What stunned him was that Tom had already taken sides with the girl. He had not said so in words. But his embarrassment and uneasiness could mean but one thing. He must move with caution, yet he must act at once and end the dangerous situation. A clandestine love affair was a hideous possibility. Up to a moment ago he had held such a thing out of the question with the boy’s high-strung sense of honor and his...

    • Chapter XVII A Skirmish
      (pp. 230-232)

      Norton’s fighting blood was up, but he was too good a soldier and too good a commander to rush into battle without preparation. Cleo’s mask was off at last, and he knew her too well to doubt that she would try to make good her threat. The fire of hate that had flamed in her greenish eyes was not a sudden burst of anger, it had been smoldering there for years, eating its way into the fiber of her being.

      There were three courses open.

      He could accept her demand, acknowledge Helen to his son, establish her in his home,...

    • Chapter XVIII Love Laughs
      (pp. 233-236)

      When Helen had received a brief note from Tom the night before the election that he would surely reach home the next day, she snatched his picture from the library table with a cry of joy and rushed to her room.

      She placed the little gold frame on her bureau, sat down before it and poured out her heart in silly speeches of love, pausing to laugh and kiss the glass that saved the miniature from ruin. The portrait was an exquisite work of art on ivory which the father had commisioned a painter in New York to do in...

    • Chapter XIX “Fight it Out!”
      (pp. 237-242)

      Cleo had heard the shouts in the square with increasing dread. The hour was rapidly approaching when she must face Norton.

      She had deeply regretted the last scene with him when she had completely lost her head. For the first time in her life she had dared to say things that could not be forgiven. They had lived an armed truce for twenty years. She had endured it in the hope of a change in his attitude, but she had driven him to uncontrollable fury now by her angry outburst and spoken words that could not be unsaid.

      She realized...

    • Chapter XX Andy Fights
      (pp. 243-249)

      When Andy had recovered from his surprise at the violence of Norton’s parting advice his eye suddenly rested on the tray of untouched mint juleps.

      A broad smile broke over his black countenance:

      “Fight it out! Fight it out!” he exclaimed with a quick movement toward the table. “Yassah, I’m gwine do it, too, I is!”

      He paused before the array of filled glasses of the iced beverage, saluted silently, and raised one high over his head to all imaginary friends who might be present. His eye rested on the portrait of General Lee. He bowed and saluted again. Further...

    • Chapter XXI The Second Blow
      (pp. 250-254)

      Norton could scarcely control his eagerness to face the woman he loathed. Every nerve of his body tingled with the agony of his desire to be free.

      He was ready for the end, no matter what she might do. The time had come in the strong man’s life when compromise, conciliation, and delay were alike impossible. He cursed himself and his folly to-night that he had delayed so long. He had tried to be fair to the woman he hated. His sense of justice, personal honor, and loyalty to his pledged word, had given her the opportunity to strike him...

    • Chapter XXII The Test of Love
      (pp. 255-264)

      Norton made a desperate effort to pull himself together for his appeal to Helen. On its outcome hung the possibility of saving himself from the terror that haunted him. If he could tell the girl the truth and make her see that a marriage with Tom was utterly out of the question because her blood was stained with that of a negro, it might be possible to save himself the humiliation of the full confession of their relationship and of his bitter shame.

      He had made a fearful mistake in not telling her this at their first interview, and a...

    • Chapter XXIII The Parting
      (pp. 265-272)

      Tom had grown impatient, waiting in their sheltered seat on the lawn for Helen to return. She had gone on a mysterious mission to see Minerva, laughingly refused to tell him its purpose, but promised to return in a few minutes. When half an hour had passed without a sign he reconnoitered to find Minerva, and to his surprise she, too, had disappeared.

      He returned to his trysting place and listened while the serenaders sang their first song. Unable to endure the delay longer he started to the house just as his father hastily left by the front door, and...

    • Chapter XXIV Father and Son
      (pp. 273-282)

      Norton had ignored the scene between Helen and Tom and his stunned mind was making a desperate fight to prepare for the struggle that was inevitable.

      The thing that gave him fresh courage was the promise the girl had repeated that she would go. Somehow he had grown to trust her implicitly. He hadn’t time as yet to realize the pity and pathos of such a trust in such an hour. He simply believed that she would keep her word. He had to win his fight now with the boy without the surrender of his secret. Could he do it?...

    • Chapter XXV The One Chance
      (pp. 283-286)

      The dim light began to creep into the darkened brain at last. Norton’s eyes opened wider and the long arms felt their way on the floor until they touched a rug and then a chair. He tried to think what had happened and why he was lying there. It seemed a dream, half feverish, half restful. His head was aching and he was very tired.

      “What’s the matter?” he murmured, unable to lift his head.

      He was whirling through space again and the room faded. Once before in his life had he been knocked insensible. From the trenches before Petersburg...

    • Chapter XXVI Between Two Fires
      (pp. 287-289)

      So intent was Andy’s watch on the lawn, so rapt his wonder and terror at the sudden assault, he failed to hear Cleo’s step as she entered the room, walked to his side and laid her hand on his shoulder:

      “Andy——”

      With a loud groan he dropped to his knees:

      “De Lawd save me!”

      Cleo drew back with amazement at the prostrate figure:

      “What on earth’s the matter?”

      “Oh—oh, Lawd,” he shivered, scrambling to his feet and mopping his brow. “Lordy, I thought de major got me dat time sho!”

      “You thought the major had you?” Cleo cried...

    • Chapter XXVII A Surprise
      (pp. 290-293)

      For a while Norton stood with folded arms gazing at Cleo, his eyes smouldering fires of wonder and loathing. The woman was trembling beneath his fierce scrutiny, but he evidently had not noted the fact. His mind was busy with a bigger problem of character and the possible depths to which a human being might fall and still retain the human form. He was wondering how a man of his birth and breeding, the heir to centuries of culture and refinement, of high thinking and noble aspirations, could ever have sunk to the level of this yellow animal—this bundle...

    • Chapter XXVIII Via Dolorosa
      (pp. 294-300)

      Minerva was still laughing at the collapse of her enemy and Andy sheltering himself behind her when a sharp call cut her laughter short:

      “Minerva!”

      “Yassah”—she answered soberly.

      “You have been a faithful servant to me,” Norton began, “you have never lied——”

      “An’ I ain’t gwine ter begin now, sah.”

      He searched her black face keenly:

      “Did Tom slip back here to see Miss Helen while I was away on this last trip?”

      Minerva looked at Andy, fumbled with her apron, started to speak, hesitated and finally admitted feebly:

      “Yassah!”

      Andy’s eyes fairly bulged:

      “De Lordy, major, I...

    • Chapter XXIX The Dregs in The Cup
      (pp. 301-307)

      Norton walked quickly to the window, drew back the draperies, opened the casement and looked out to see if Andy were eavesdropping. He watched the lazy figure cross the lawn, glancing back at the house. The full moon, at its zenith, was shining in a quiet glory, uncanny in its dazzling brilliance.

      He stood drinking in for the last time the perfumed sweetness and languor of the Southern night. His senses seemed supernaturally acute. He could distinctly note the odors of the different flowers that were in bloom on the lawn. A gentle breeze was blowing from the path across...

    • Chapter XXX The Mills of God
      (pp. 308-311)

      Norton had dropped into a seat with apparent carelessness, while Tom stood immovable, his face a mask. The girl looked quickly from one to the other, her breath coming in quick gasps.

      She turned to Tom:

      “Why did you lock the door—what does it mean?”

      Norton hastened to answer, his tones reassuringly simple:

      “Why, only that we wished to be alone for a few moments——”

      “Yes, we understand each other now,” Tom added.

      Helen’s eyes flashed cautiously from one to the other:

      “I heard a strange noise”—she turned to the boy—“and, oh, Tom, darling, I was...

    • Chapter XXXI Sin Full Grown
      (pp. 312-313)

      The sensitive soul of the girl had seen the tragedy before she rushed into the library. At the first shot she sprang to her feet, her heart in her throat. The report had sounded queerly through the closed doors and she was not sure. She had entered the hall, holding her breath, when the second shot rang out its message of death.

      She was not the woman who faints in an emergency. She paused just a moment in the door, saw the ghastly heap on the floor and rushed to the spot.

      She tore Tom’s collar open and placed her...

    • Chapter XXXII Confession
      (pp. 314-316)

      When Dr. Williams entered the room Helen was still holding Tom’s head in her lap.

      He had stirred once with a low groan.

      “The major is dead, but Tom’s alive, doctor!” she cried through her tears. “He’s going to live, too—I feel it—I know it—tell me that it’s so!”

      The lips trembled pitifully with the last words.

      The doctor felt the pulse and was silent.

      “It’s all right? He’s going to live—isn’t he?” she asked pathetically.

      “I can’t tell yet, my child,” was the calm answer.

      He examined the wound and ran his hand over the...

    • Chapter XXXIII Healing
      (pp. 317-317)

      The years brought their healing to wounded hearts. Tom Norton refused to leave his old home. He came of a breed of men who had never known how to quit. He faced the world and with grim determination took up the work for the Republic which his father had begun.

      With tireless voice his paper pleads for the purity of the race. Its circulation steadily increases and its influence deepens and widens.

      The patter of a baby’s feet again echoes through the wide hall behind the white fluted columns. The young father and mother have taught his little hands to...