A FIFTY-CENT LESSON IN PERSISTENCE
Shortly after Mr. Darby received his degree from the "University
of Hard Knocks," and had decided to profit by his experience
in the gold mining business, he had the good fortune to be present
on an occasion that proved to him that "No" does not necessarily
One afternoon he was helping his uncle grind wheat in an old fashioned
mill. The uncle operated a large farm on which a number of colored
sharecrop farmers lived. Quietly, the door was opened, and a small
colored child, the daughter of a tenant, walked in and 23 24 took
her place near the door.
The uncle looked up, saw the child, and barked at her roughly, "what
do you want?"
Meekly, the child replied, "My mammy say send her fifty cents."
"I'll not do it," the uncle retorted, "Now you run
"Yas sah," the child replied. But she did not move.
The uncle went ahead with his work, so busily engaged that he did
not pay enough attention to the child to observe that she did not
leave. When he looked up and saw her still standing there, he yelled
at her, "I told you to go on home! Now go, or I'll take a switch
The little girl said "yas sah," but she did not budge
The uncle dropped a sack of grain he was about to pour into the
mill hopper, picked up a barrel stave, and started toward the child
with an expression on his face that indicated trouble.
Darby held his breath. He was certain he was about to witness a
murder. He knew his uncle had a fierce temper. He knew that colored
children were not supposed to defy white people in that part of
When the uncle reached the spot where the child was standing, she
quickly stepped forward one step, looked up into his eyes, and screamed
at the top of her shrill voice, "MY MAMMY'S GOTTA HAVE THAT
The uncle stopped, looked at her for a minute, then slowly laid
the barrel stave on the floor, put his hand in his pocket, took
out half a dollar, and gave it to her.
The child took the money and slowly backed toward the door, never
taking her eyes off the man whom she had just conquered. After she
had gone, the uncle sat down on a box and looked out the window
into space for more than ten minutes. He was pondering, with awe,
over the whipping he had just taken.
Mr. Darby, too, was doing some thinking. That was the first time
in all his experience that he had seen a colored child deliberately
master an adult white person. How did she do it? What happened to
his uncle that caused him to lose his fierceness and become as docile
as a lamb? What strange power did this child use that made her master
over her superior? These and other similar