Page:My Life and Loves.djvu/325

This page has been validated.

She was a privileged character in the town: she rode on the street-cars and railroads too without paying; those who challenged her were all "pore white trash", she said, and some man was always eager to pay for her: she never hesitated to go up to any man and ask him for a dollar or even five dollars—and invariably got what she wanted: her beauty was as compelling to men as her scornful aloofness. I had often heard of her as "that d—d pretty nigger girl!" but I could see no trace of any negro characteristic in her pure loveliness.

She took the seat and said with a faint Southern accent I found pleasing, "You' name Harris?"

"That's my name", I replied smiling: "You here instead Barker?" she went on: "he sure deserved to die hiccuppin': pore white trash!"

"What's your real name!" I asked.

"They call me 'Topsy'," she replied, "but ma real true name is Sophy, Sophy Beveridge: you was very kind to my mother who lives upstairs: yes", she went on defiantly, "she's my mother and a mighty good mother too and don't you fergit it!" she added, tossing her head in contempt of my astonishment.

"Your father must have been white!" I couldn't help remarking for I couldn't couple Topsy with the old octaroon, do what I would. She nodded, "he was white all right: that is, his skin was!" and she got up and wandered about the office as if it belonged to her. "I'll call you, 'Sophy'," I said; for I felt a passionate revolt of injured pride in her. She smiled at me with pleasure.

I didn't know what to do. I must not go with a colored girl: though I could see no sign of black blood in Sophy and certainly she was astonishingly good-looking even in her simple sprigged gown. As she moved about I could not but remark the lithe