STAKE IN THE COMMONWEALTH
ON our way North, as we came near to the Carolinas, we were hailed by a man who stepped out of a car parked on the roadside. Mr. Keen stopped so suddenly I bumped my chin on the dash board. The man walked up to us. "Would you mind giving me a lift to the next garage?" And without waiting for an answer, he opened the door and sat down beside me. He was a large man and took up a lot of room and I had to squeeze up close to Mr. Keen.
"We sure had us a hot time last night! Forgot to get gas," he exclaimed. He rummaged around in his pocket a moment and produced a badly stained piece of paper. "Look heah," he said and uncovered its contents triumphantly. To me it looked like a chunk of calf's liver, but when I examined it more closely, to my horror. I recognised a finger nail on it. "Well it don't look so pretty now, I'll git dryin' it in the sun," he announced. "It'll look different when I git puttin' it on my watch chain. We did us a little job last night. Nigger uplift. The black bastard! Gave him a chanct to be uppity on the end of a rope." And he chuckled.
Mr. Keen drove faster than I had ever known him to ride. I surmised that he was heading for a lunatic asylum to return the escaped inmate.
"Nigger," the man snarled, "organizin'! Can you beat that? A share croppers' union -- what's the country comin' to! They'll be wantin' the vote next. The black bastard sure was one bad nigger! Fought like a wild cat! We sure burned up a pile of wood! We kept him burnin' forty-five minutes by the watch -- but his lights went out. We saw to that! There's one less bad nigger in the world." He spoke with genuine satisfaction. To my great surprise, Mr. Keen stopped at a garage and the dangerous lunatic stepped out of the car and pleasantly thanked him for the lift.
I looked at Mr. Keen puzzled. "Why, it's criminal to allow such a lunatic at large!" I told him.
"The man is not a lunatic," Mr. Keen replied, "he's one of our Southern landlords."