The Hands of Ethiopia

Semper novi quid ex Africa,” cried the Roman proconsul, and he voiced the verdict of forty centuries. Yet there are those who would write world history and leave out of account this most marvelous of continents. Particularly today most men assume that Africa is far afield from the center of our burning social problems and especially from our problem of world war.

Always Africa is giving us something new or some metempsychosis of a world-old thing. On its black bosom arose one of the earliest, if not the earliest, of self-protecting civilizations, which grew so mightily that it still furnishes superlatives to thinking and speaking men. Out of its darker and more remote forest fastnesses came, if we may credit many recent scientists, the first welding of iron, and we know that agriculture and trade flourished there when Europe was a wilderness.

Nearly every human empire that has arisen in the world, material and spiritual, has found some of its greatest crises on this continent of Africa, from Greece to Great Britain. As Mommsen says: “It was through Africa that Christianity became the religion of the world.” In Africa the last flood of Germanic invasions spent itself within hearing of the last gasp of Byzantium, and it was through Africa that Islam came to play its great role of conqueror and civilizer.

With the Renaissance and the widened world of modern thought Africa came no less suddenly with her new-old gift. Shakespeare’s “Ancient Pistol” cries:

A foutre for the world and worldlings base!
I speak of Africa and golden joys!

He echoes a legend of gold from the days of Punt and Ophir to those of Ghana, the Gold Coast, and the Rand. This thought had sent the world’s greed scurrying down the hot, mysterious coasts of Africa to the Good Hope of gain, until for the first time a real world-commerce was born, albeit it started as a commerce mainly in the bodies and souls of men.

The present problem of problems is nothing more than democracy beating itself helplessly against the color bar⁠—purling, seeping, seething, foaming to burst through, ever and again overwhelming the emerging masses of white men in its rolling backwaters and held back by those who dream of future kingdoms of greed built on black and brown and yellow slavery.

The indictment of Africa against Europe is grave. For four hundred years white Europe was the chief support of that trade in human beings which first and last robbed black Africa of a hundred million human beings, transformed the face of her social life, overthrew organized government, distorted ancient industry, and snuffed out the lights of cultural development. Today instead of removing laborers from Africa to distant slavery, industry built on a new slavery approaches Africa to deprive the natives of their land, to force them to toil, and to reap all the profit for the white world.

It is scarcely necessary to remind the reader of the essential facts underlying these broad assertions. A recent law of the Union of South Africa assigns nearly two hundred and fifty million acres of the best of natives’ land to a million and a half whites and leaves thirty-six million acres of swamp and marsh for four and a half-million blacks. In Rhodesia over ninety million acres have been practically confiscated. In the Belgian Congo all the land was declared the property of the state.

Slavery in all but name has been the foundation of the cocoa industry in St. Thome and St. Principe and in the mines of the Rand. Gin has been one of the greatest of European imports, having increased fifty percent in ten years and reaching a total of at least twenty-five million dollars a year today. Negroes of ability have been carefully gotten rid of, deposed from authority, kept out of positions of influence, and discredited in their people’s eyes, while a caste of white overseers and governing officials has appeared everywhere.

Naturally, the picture is not all lurid. David Livingstone has had his successors and Europe has given Africa something of value in the beginning of education and industry. Yet the balance of iniquity is desperately large; but worse than that, it has aroused no world protest. A great Englishman, familiar with African problems for a generation, says frankly today: “There does not exist any real international conscience to which you can appeal.”

Moreover, that treatment shows no certain signs of abatement. Today in England the Empire Resources Development Committee proposes to treat African colonies as “crown estates” and by intensive scientific exploitation of both land and labor to make these colonies pay the English national debt after the war! German thinkers, knowing the tremendous demand for raw material which would follow the war, had similar plans of exploitation. “It is the clear, common sense of the African situation,” says H. G. Wells, “that while these precious regions of raw material remain divided up between a number of competitive European imperialisms, each resolutely set upon the exploitation of its ‘possessions’ to its own advantage and the disadvantage of the others, there can be no permanent peace in the world. It is impossible.”

We, then, who fought the war against war; who in a hell of blood and suffering held hardly our souls in leash by the vision of a world organized for peace; who are looking for industrial democracy and for the organization of Europe so as to avoid incentives to war⁠—we, least of all, should be willing to leave the backward world as the greatest temptation, not only to wars based on international jealousies, but to the most horrible of wars⁠—which arise from the revolt of the maddened against those who hold them in common contempt.

Consider, my reader⁠—if you were today a man of some education and knowledge, but born a Japanese or a Chinaman, an East Indian or a Negro, what would you do and think? What would be in the present chaos your outlook and plan for the future? Manifestly, you would want freedom for your people⁠—freedom from insult, from segregation, from poverty, from physical slavery. If the attitude of the European and American worlds is in the future going to be based essentially upon the same policies as in the past, then there is but one thing for the trained man of darker blood to do and that is definitely and as openly as possible to organize his world for war against Europe. He may have to do it by secret, underground propaganda, as in Egypt and India and eventually in the United States; or by open increase of armament, as in Japan; or by desperate efforts at modernization, as in China; but he must do it. He represents the vast majority of mankind. To surrender would be far worse than physical death. There is no way out unless the white world gives up such insult as its modern use of the adjective “yellow” indicates, or its connotation of “chink” and “nigger” implies; either it gives up the plan of color serfdom which its use of the other adjective “white” implies, as indicating everything decent and every part of the world worth living in⁠—or trouble is written in the stars!

It is, therefore, of singular importance after disquieting delay to see the real Pacifist appear. Both England and Germany have recently been basing their claims to parts of black Africa on the wishes and interests of the black inhabitants. Lloyd George has declared “the general principle of national self-determination applicable at least to German Africa,” while Chancellor Hertling once welcomed a discussion “on the reconstruction of the world’s colonial possessions.”

The demand that an Africa for Africans shall replace the present barbarous scramble for exploitation by individual states comes from singularly different sources. Colored America demands that “the conquered German colonies should not be returned to Germany, neither should they be held by the Allies. Here is the opportunity for the establishment of a nation that may never recur. Thousands of colored men, sick of white arrogance and hypocrisy, see in this their race’s only salvation.”

Sir Harry H. Johnston recently said: “If we are to talk, as we do, sentimentally but justly about restoring the nationhood of Poland, about giving satisfaction to the separatist feeling in Ireland, and about what is to be done for European nations who are oppressed, then we can hardly exclude from this feeling the countries of Africa.”

Laborers, black laborers, on the Canal Zone write: “Out of this chaos may be the great awakening of our race. There is cause for rejoicing. If we fail to embrace this opportunity now, we fail to see how we will be ever able to solve the race question. It is for the British Negro, the French Negro, and the American Negro to rise to the occasion and start a national campaign, jointly and collectively, with this aim in view.”

From British West Africa comes the bitter complaint “that the West Africans should have the right or opportunity to settle their future for themselves is a thing which hardly enters the mind of the European politician. That the Balkan States should be admitted to the Council of Peace and decide the government under which they are to live is taken as a matter of course because they are Europeans, but no extra-European is credited, even by the extremist advocates of human equality, with any right except to humbly accept the fate which Europe shall decide for him.”

Here, then, is the danger and the demand; and the real Pacifist will seek to organize, not simply the masses in white nations, guarding against exploitation and profiteering, but will remember that no permanent relief can come but by including in this organization the lowest and the most exploited races in the world. World philanthropy, like national philanthropy, must come as uplift and prevention and not merely as alleviation and religious conversion. Reverence for humanity, as such, must be installed in the world, and Africa should be the talisman.

Black Africa, including British, French, Belgian, Portuguese, Italian, and Spanish possessions and the independent states of Abyssinia and Liberia and leaving out of account Egypt and North Africa, on the one hand, and South Africa, on the other, has an area of 8,200,000 square miles and a population well over one hundred millions of black men, with less than one hundred thousand whites.

Commercial exploitation in Africa has already larger results to show than most people realize. Annually $200,000,000 worth of goods was coming out of black Africa before the World War, including a third of the world’s supply of rubber, a quarter of all of the world’s cocoa, and practically all of the world’s cloves, gum-arabic, and palm-oil. In exchange there was being returned to Africa one hundred millions in cotton cloth, twenty-five millions in iron and steel, and as much in foods, and probably twenty-five millions in liquors.

Here are the beginnings of a modern industrial system: iron and steel for permanent investment, bound to yield large dividends; cloth as the cheapest exchange for invaluable raw material; liquor to tickle the appetites of the natives and render the alienation of land and the breakdown of customary law easier; eventually forced and contract labor under white drivers to increase and systematize the production of raw materials. These materials are capable of indefinite expansion: cotton may yet challenge the southern United States, fruits and vegetables, hides and skins, lumber and dyestuffs, coffee and tea, grain and tobacco, and fibers of all sorts can easily follow organized and systematic toil.

Is it a paradise of industry we thus contemplate? It is much more likely to be a hell. Under present plans there will be no voice or law or custom to protect labor, no trades unions, no eight-hour laws, no factory legislation⁠—nothing of that great body of legislation built up in modern days to protect mankind from sinking to the level of beasts of burden. All the industrial deviltry, which civilization has been driving to the slums and the backwaters, will have a voiceless continent to conceal it. If the slave cannot be taken from Africa, slavery can be taken to Africa.

Who are the folk who live here? They are brown and black, curly and crisp-haired, short and tall, and longheaded. Out of them in days without date flowed the beginnings of Egypt; among them rose, later, centers of culture at Ghana, Melle, and Timbuktu. Kingdoms and empires flourished in Songhay and Zimbabwe, and art and industry in Yoruba and Benin. They have fought every human calamity in its most hideous form and yet today they hold some similar vestiges of a mighty past⁠—their work in iron, their weaving and carving, their music and singing, their tribal government, their town-meeting and marketplace, their desperate valor in war.

Missionaries and commerce have left some good with all their evil. In black Africa today there are more than a thousand government schools and some thirty thousand mission schools, with a more or less regular attendance of three-quarters of a million school children. In a few cases training of a higher order is given chiefs’ sons and selected pupils. These beginnings of education are not much for so vast a land and there is no general standard or set plan of development, but, after all, the children of Africa are beginning to learn.

In black Africa today only one-seventeenth of the land and a ninth of the people in Liberia and Abyssinia are approximately independent, although menaced and policed by European capitalism. Half the land and the people are in domains under Portugal, France, and Belgium, held with the avowed idea of exploitation for the benefit of Europe under a system of caste and color serfdom. Out of this dangerous nadir of development stretch two paths: one is indicated by the condition of about three percent of the people who in Sierra Leone, the Gold Coast, and French Senegal, are tending toward the path of modern development; the other path, followed by a fourth of the land and people, has local self-government and native customs and might evolve, if undisturbed, a native culture along their own peculiar lines. A tenth of the land, sparsely settled, is being monopolized and held for whites to make an African Australia. To these later folk must be added the four and one-half millions of the South African Union, who by every modern device are being forced into landless serfdom.

Before the World War tendencies were strongly toward the destruction of independent Africa, the industrial slavery of the mass of the blacks and the encouragement of white immigration, where possible, to hold the blacks in subjection.

Against this idea let us set the conception of a new African World State, a Black Africa, applying to these peoples the splendid pronouncements which have of late been so broadly and perhaps carelessly given the world: recognizing in Africa the declaration of the American Federation of Labor, that “no people must be forced under sovereignty under which it does not wish to live”; recognizing in President Wilson’s message to the Russians, the “principle of the undictated development of all peoples”; recognizing the resolution of the recent conference of the Aborigines Protection Society of England, “that in any reconstruction of Africa, which may result from this war, the interests of the native inhabitants and also their wishes, in so far as those wishes can be clearly ascertained, should be recognized as among the principal factors upon which the decision of their destiny should be based.” In other words, recognizing for the first time in the history of the modern world that black men are human.

It may not be possible to build this state at once. With the victory of the Entente Allies, the German colonies, with their million of square miles and one-half million black inhabitants, should form such a nucleus. It would give Black Africa its physical beginnings. Beginning with the German colonies two other sets of colonies could be added, for obvious reasons. Neither Portugal nor Belgium has shown any particular capacity for governing colonial peoples. Valid excuses may in both cases be advanced, but it would certainly be fair to Belgium to have her start her great task of reorganization after the World War with neither the burden nor the temptation of colonies; and in the same way Portugal has, in reality, the alternative of either giving up her colonies to an African State or to some other European State in the near future. These two sets of colonies would add 1,700,000 square miles and eighteen million inhabitants. It would not, however, be fair to despoil Germany, Belgium, and Portugal of their colonies unless, as Count Hertling once demanded, the whole question of colonies be opened.

How far shall the modern world recognize nations which are not nations, but combinations of a dominant caste and a suppressed horde of serfs? Will it not be possible to rebuild a world with compact nations, empires of self-governing elements, and colonies of backward peoples under benevolent international control?

The great test would be easy. Does England propose to erect in India and Nigeria nations brown and black which shall be eventually independent, self-governing entities, with a full voice in the British Imperial Government? If not, let these states either have independence at once or, if unfitted for that, be put under international tutelage and guardianship. It is possible that France, with her great heart, may welcome a Black France⁠—an enlarged Senegal in Africa; but it would seem that eventually all Africa south of twenty degrees north latitude and north of the Union of South Africa should be included in a new African State. Somaliland and Eritrea should be given to Abyssinia, and then with Liberia we would start with two small, independent African states and one large state under international control.

Does this sound like an impossible dream? No one could be blamed for so regarding it before 1914. I, myself, would have agreed with them. But since the nightmare of 1914⁠–⁠1918, since we have seen the impossible happen and the unspeakable become so common as to cease to stir us; in a day when Russia has dethroned her Czar, England has granted the suffrage to women and is in the act of giving Home Rule to Ireland; when Germany has adopted parliamentary government; when Jerusalem has been delivered from the Turks; and the United States has taken control of its railroads⁠—is it really so farfetched to think of an Africa for the Africans, guided by organized civilization?

No one would expect this new state to be independent and self-governing from the start. Contrary, however, to present schemes for Africa the world would expect independence and self-government as the only possible end of the experiment At first we can conceive of no better way of governing this state than through that same international control by which we hope to govern the world for peace. A curious and instructive parallel has been drawn by Simeon Strunsky: “Just as the common ownership of the northwest territory helped to weld the colonies into the United States, so could not joint and benevolent domination of Africa and of other backward parts of the world be a cornerstone upon which the future federation of the world could be built?”

From the British Labor Party comes this declaration: “With regard to the colonies of the several belligerents in tropical Africa, from sea to sea, the British Labor Movement disclaims all sympathy with the imperialist idea that these should form the booty of any nation, should be exploited for the profit of the capitalists, or should be used for the promotion of the militarists’ aims of government. In view of the fact that it is impracticable here to leave the various peoples concerned to settle their own destinies it is suggested that the interests of humanity would be best served by the full and frank abandonment by all the belligerents of any dreams of an African Empire; the transfer of the present colonies of the European Powers in tropical Africa, however, and the limits of this area may be defined to the proposed Supernational Authority, or League of Nations.”

Lloyd George himself has said in regard to the German colonies a word difficult to restrict merely to them: “I have repeatedly declared that they are held at the disposal of a conference, whose decision must have primary regard to the wishes and interests of the native inhabitants of such colonies. None of those territories is inhabited by Europeans. The governing considerations, therefore, must be that the inhabitants should be placed under the control of an administration acceptable to themselves, one of whose main purposes will be to prevent their exploitation for the benefit of European capitalists or governments.”

The special commission for the government of this African State must, naturally, be chosen with great care and thought. It must represent, not simply governments, but civilization, science, commerce, social reform, religious philanthropy without sectarian propaganda. It must include, not simply white men, but educated and trained men of Negro blood. The guiding principles before such a commission should be clearly understood. In the first place, it ought by this time to be realized by the labor movement throughout the world that no industrial democracy can be built on industrial despotism, whether the two systems are in the same country or in different countries, since the world today so nearly approaches a common industrial unity. If, therefore, it is impossible in any single land to uplift permanently skilled labor without also raising common labor, so, too, there can be no permanent uplift of American or European labor as long as African laborers are slaves.

Secondly, this building of a new African State does not mean the segregation in it of all the world’s black folk. It is too late in the history of the world to go back to the idea of absolute racial segregation. The new African State would not involve any idea of a vast transplantation of the twenty-seven million Negroids of the western world, of Africa, or of the gathering there of Negroid Asia. The Negroes in the United States and the other Americas have earned the right to fight out their problems where they are, but they could easily furnish from time to time technical experts, leaders of thought, and missionaries of culture for their backward brethren in the new Africa.

With these two principles, the practical policies to be followed out in the government of the new states should involve a thorough and complete system of modern education, built upon the present government, religion, and customary laws of the natives. There should be no violent tampering with the curiously efficient African institutions of local self-government through the family and the tribe; there should be no attempt at sudden “conversion” by religious propaganda. Obviously deleterious customs and unsanitary usages must gradually be abolished, but the general government, set up from without, must follow the example of the best colonial administrators and build on recognized, established foundations rather than from entirely new and theoretical plans.

The real effort to modernize Africa should be through schools rather than churches. Within ten years, twenty million black children ought to be in school. Within a generation young Africa should know the essential outlines of modern culture and groups of bright African students could be going to the world’s great universities. From the beginning the actual general government should use both colored and white officials and later natives should be worked in. Taxation and industry could follow the newer ideals of industrial democracy, avoiding private land monopoly and poverty, and promoting cooperation in production and the socialization of income. Difficulties as to capital and revenue would be far less than many imagine. If a capable English administrator of British Nigeria could with $1,500 build up a cocoa industry of twenty million dollars annually, what might not be done in all Africa, without gin, thieves, and hypocrisy?

Capital could not only be accumulated in Africa, but attracted from the white world, with one great difference from present usage: no return so fabulous would be offered that civilized lands would be tempted to divert to colonial trade and invest materials and labor needed by the masses at home, but rather would receive the same modest profits as legitimate home industry offers.

There is no sense in asserting that the ideal of an African State, thus governed and directed toward independence and self-government, is impossible of realization. The first great essential is that the civilized world believe in its possibility. By reason of a crime (perhaps the greatest crime in human history) the modern world has been systematically taught to despise colored peoples. Men of education and decency ask, and ask seriously, if it is really possible to uplift Africa. Are Negroes human, or, if human, developed far enough to absorb, even under benevolent tutelage, any appreciable part of modern culture? Has not the experiment been tried in Haiti and Liberia, and failed?

One cannot ignore the extraordinary fact that a world campaign beginning with the slave-trade and ending with the refusal to capitalize the word “Negro,” leading through a passionate defense of slavery by attributing every bestiality to blacks and finally culminating in the evident modern profit which lies in degrading blacks⁠—all this has unconsciously trained millions of honest, modern men into the belief that black folk are subhuman. This belief is not based on science, else it would be held as a postulate of the most tentative kind, ready at any time to be withdrawn in the face of facts; the belief is not based on history, for it is absolutely contradicted by Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Byzantine, and Arabian experience; nor is the belief based on any careful survey of the social development of men of Negro blood today in Africa and America. It is simply passionate, deep-seated heritage, and as such can be moved by neither argument nor fact. Only faith in humanity will lead the world to rise above its present color prejudice.

Those who do believe in men, who know what black men have done in human history, who have taken pains to follow even superficially the story of the rise of the Negro in Africa, the West Indies, and the Americas of our day know that our modern contempt of Negroes rests upon no scientific foundation worth a moment’s attention. It is nothing more than a vicious habit of mind. It could as easily be overthrown as our belief in war, as our international hatreds, as our old conception of the status of women, as our fear of educating the masses, and as our belief in the necessity of poverty. We can, if we will, inaugurate on the Dark Continent a last great crusade for humanity. With Africa redeemed Asia would be safe and Europe indeed triumphant.

I have not mentioned North and South Africa, because my eye was centered on the main mass of the Negro race. Yet it is clear that for the development of Central Africa, Egypt should be free and independent, there along the highway to a free and independent India; while Morocco, Algeria, Tunis, and Tripoli must become a part of Europe, with modern development and home rule. South Africa, stripped of its black serfs and their lands, must admit the resident natives and colored folk to its body politic as equals.

The hands which Ethiopia shall soon stretch out unto God are not mere hands of helplessness and supplication, but rather are they hands of pain and promise; hard, gnarled, and muscled for the world’s real work; they are hands of fellowship for the half-submerged masses of a distempered world; they are hands of helpfulness for an agonized God!

Twenty centuries before Christ a great cloud swept over seas and settled on Africa, darkening and well-nigh blotting out the culture of the land of Egypt. For half a thousand years it rested there, until a black woman, Queen Nefertari, “the most venerated figure in Egyptian history,” rose to the throne of the Pharaohs and redeemed the world and her people. Twenty centuries after Christ, Black Africa⁠—prostrated, raped, and shamed, lies at the feet of the conquering Philistines of Europe. Beyond the awful sea a black woman is weeping and waiting, with her sons on her breast. What shall the end be? The world-old and fearful things⁠—war and wealth, murder and luxury? Or shall it be a new thing⁠—a new peace and a new democracy of all races⁠—a great humanity of equal men? “Semper novi quid ex Africa!

The Princess of the Hither Isles

Her soul was beautiful, wherefore she kept it veiled in lightly-laced humility and fear, out of which peered anxiously and anon the white and blue and pale-gold of her face,⁠—beautiful as daybreak or as the laughing of a child. She sat in the Hither Isles, well walled between the This and Now, upon a low and silver throne, and leaned upon its armposts, sadly looking upward toward the sun. Now the Hither Isles are flat and cold and swampy, with drear-drab light and all manner of slimy, creeping things, and piles of dirt and clouds of flying dust and sordid scraping and feeding and noise.

She hated them and ever as her hands and busy feet swept back the dust and slime her soul sat silver-throned, staring toward the great hill to the westward, which shone so brilliant-golden beneath the sunlight and above the sea.

The sea moaned and with it moaned the princess’ soul, for she was lonely⁠—very, very lonely, and full weary of the monotone of life. So she was glad to see a moving in Yonder Kingdom on the mountainside, where the sun shone warm, and when the king of Yonder Kingdom, silken in robe and golden-crowned and warded by his hound, walked down along the restless waters and sat beside the armpost of her throne, she wondered why she could not love him and fly with him up the shining mountain’s side, out of the dirt and dust that nested between the This and Now. She looked at him and tried to be glad, for he was bonny and good to look upon, this king of Yonder Kingdom⁠—tall and straight, thin-lipped and white and tawny. So, again, this last day, she strove to burn life into his singularly sodden clay⁠—to put his icy soul aflame wherewith to warm her own, to set his senses singing. Vacantly he heard her winged words, staring and curling his long mustaches with vast thoughtfulness. Then he said:

“We’ve found more gold in Yonder Kingdom.”

“Hell seize your gold!” blurted the princess.

“No⁠—it’s mine,” he maintained stolidly.

She raised her eyes. “It belongs,” she said, “to the Empire of the Sun.”

“Nay⁠—the Sun belongs to us,” said the king calmly as he glanced to where Yonder Kingdom blushed above the sea. She glanced, too, and a softness crept into her eyes.

“No, no,” she murmured as with hesitating pause she raised her eyes above the sea, above the hill, up into the sky where the sun hung silent and splendid. Its robes were heaven’s blue, lined and broidered in living flame, and its crown was one vast jewel, glistening in glittering glory that made the sun’s own face a blackness⁠—the blackness of utter light. With blinded, tear-filled eyes she peered into that formless black and burning face and sensed in its soft, sad gleam unfathomed understanding. With sudden, wild abandon she stretched her arms toward it appealing, beseeching, entreating, and lo!

“Niggers and dagoes,” said the king of Yonder Kingdom, glancing carelessly backward and lighting in his lips a carefully rolled wisp of fragrant tobacco. She looked back, too, but in half-wondering terror, for it seemed⁠—

A beggar man was creeping across the swamp, shuffling through the dirt and slime. He was little and bald and black, rough-clothed, sodden with dirt, and bent with toil. Yet withal something she sensed about him and it seemed⁠—

The king of Yonder Kingdom lounged more comfortably beside the silver throne and let curl a tiny trail of light-blue smoke.

“I hate beggars,” he said, “especially brown and black ones.” And he then pointed at the beggar’s retinue and laughed⁠—an unpleasant laugh, welded of contempt and amusement. The princess looked and shrank on her throne. He, the beggar man, was⁠—was what? But his retinue⁠—that squalid, sordid, parti-colored band of vacant, dull-faced filth and viciousness⁠—was writhing over the land, and he and they seemed almost crouching underneath the scorpion lash of one tall skeleton, that looked like Death, and the twisted woman whom men called Pain. Yet they all walked as one.

The King of Yonder Kingdom laughed, but the princess shrank on her throne, and the king on seeing her thus took a gold-piece from out of his purse and tossed it carelessly to the passing throng. She watched it with fascinated eyes⁠—how it rose and sailed and whirled and struggled in the air, then seemed to burst, and upward flew its light and sheen and downward dropped its dross. She glanced at the king, but he was lighting a match. She watched the dross wallow in the slime, but the sunlight fell on the back of the beggar’s neck, and he turned his head.

The beggar passing afar turned his head and the princess straightened on her throne; he turned his head and she shivered forward on her silver seat; he looked upon her full and slow and suddenly she saw within that formless black and burning face the same soft, glad gleam of utter understanding, seen so many times before. She saw the suffering of endless years and endless love that softened it. She saw the burning passion of the sun and with it the cold, unbending duty-deeds of upper air. All she had seen and dreamed of seeing in the rising, blazing sun she saw now again and with it myriads more of human tenderness, of longing, and of love. So, then, she knew. She rose as to a dream come true, with solemn face and waiting eyes.

With her rose the king of Yonder Kingdom, almost eagerly.

“You’ll come?” he cried. “You’ll come and see my gold?” And then in sudden generosity, he added: “You’ll have a golden throne,⁠—up there⁠—when we marry.”

But she, looking up and on with radiant face, answered softly: “I come.”

So down and up and on they mounted,⁠—the black beggar man and his cavalcade of Death and Pain, and then a space; and then a lone, black hound that nosed and whimpered as he ran, and then a space; and then the king of Yonder Kingdom in his robes, and then a space; and last the princess of the Hither Isles, with face set sunward and love-light in her eyes.

And so they marched and struggled on and up through endless years and spaces and ever the black beggar looked back past death and pain toward the maid and ever the maid strove forward with love-lit eyes, but ever the great and silken shoulders of the king of Yonder Kingdom arose between the princess and the sun like a cloud of storms.

Now, finally, they neared unto the hillsides topmost shoulder and there most eagerly the king bent to the bowels of the earth and bared its golden entrails,⁠—all green and gray and rusted-while the princess strained her pitiful eyes aloft to where the beggar, set ’twixt Death and Pain, whirled his slim back against the glory of the setting sun and stood somber in his grave majesty, enhaloed and transfigured, outstretching his long arms, and around all heaven glittered jewels in a cloth of gold.

A while the princess stood and moaned in mad amaze, then with one wilful wrench she bared the white flowers of her breast and snatching forth her own red heart held it with one hand aloft while with the other she gathered close her robe and poised herself.

The king of Yonder Kingdom looked upward quickly, curiously, still fingering the earth, and saw the offer of her bleeding heart.

“It’s a Negro!” he growled darkly; “it may not be.”

The woman quivered.

“It’s a nigger!” he repeated fiercely. “It’s neither God nor man, but a nigger!”

The princess stepped forward.

The king grasped his sword and looked north and east; he raised his sword and looked south and west.

“I seek the sun,” the princess sang, and started into the west.

“Never!” cried the king of Yonder Kingdom, “for such were blasphemy and defilement and the making of all evil.”

So, raising his great sword he struck with all his might, and more. Down hissed the blow and it bit that little, white, heart-holding hand until it flew armless and disbodied up through the sunlit air. Down hissed the blow and it clove the whimpering hound until his last shriek shook the stars. Down hissed the blow and it rent the earth. It trembled, fell apart, and yawned to a chasm wide as earth from heaven, deep as hell, and empty, cold, and silent.

On yonder distant shore blazed the mighty Empire of the Sun in warm and blissful radiance, while on this side, in shadows cold and dark, gloomed the Hither Isles and the hill that once was golden, but now was green and slimy dross; all below was the sad and moaning sea, while between the Here and There flew the severed hand and dripped the bleeding heart.

Then up from the soul of the princess welled a cry of dark despair⁠—such a cry as only babe-raped mothers know and murdered loves. Poised on the crumbling edge of that great nothingness the princess hung, hungering with her eyes and straining her fainting ears against the awful splendor of the sky.

Out from the slime and shadows groped the king, thundering: “Back⁠—don’t be a fool!”

But down through the thin ether thrilled the still and throbbing warmth of heaven’s sun, whispering “Leap!”

And the princess leapt.