The shock and consternation that swept over the room could be cut by a knife. Hon. Herbert Clapp seemed dazed by the sudden revelation. He leant forward, his eyes popping out of his skull like he had seen the devil himself. Joseph Whitman, the fine theologian, had yet to comprehend the final words of the doctor. His mind was in a blur. Suffice to say, Dr. Thornton’s family was a mystery to the public, and nobody knew how his wife and two sons looked like. But from his demeanor and reputation, it had widely been assumed that he must have a very beautiful wife and good-looking sons.
Hon. Clapp, surprisingly, was the first to recover from the sudden stupor.
“What….!” He muttered, more to himself than to any other member in the room.
Then, the harsh realization dawned on everybody in the room. At first, we did not know how to react. We did not know whether to shake his hand in approval or frown upon him. However, a huge load had been lifted off our chests that afternoon. This was because, as members of the same organization dealing with a wide variety of contemporary issues affecting the whole world, we would be a little uncomfortable discussing family matter because the doctor’s marital life had been shrouded in mystery.
The doctor’s shocking revelation had various implications. To begin with, it opened a new chapter in our relationship with Dr. Thornton. It provided us with an opportunity to understand the doctor even better; thus, strengthening the ties between us. It also meant that the doctor could further open up to us, since the revelation meant that he had nothing to hide from us. The weight of having to conceal his family matter to us had been effectively limited. This was obvious because, at this very moment, he seemed visibly relieved.
Everything suddenly fell into place. Most importantly, the doctor’s radical views in inter-racial marriages now became clear. Initially, we had problems comprehending his controversial stand on matters racial. Dr. Thornton was a staunch opponent of inter-racial marriages, and had a soft spot for the blacks living in America. The latter had been puzzling us for many years. There he was, a white man married to a woman whose parents were from mixed race. There had been Negro blood flowing in the wife’s ancestry, meaning that she, too, had Negro blood.
Joseph Whitman, the theologian, rose up on his feet and said: “Gentlemen, I do not know what to say at the moment but one thing is clear: I admire Dr. Thornton.” He scanned the faces in the room for reaction before he proceeded, “Dr. Thornton, could we have the pleasure to meet your wife and children?”
As if by instinct, everybody in the room was on their feet. We waited with bated breath as Dr. Thornton went into the inner room, where he spent some anxious moments before opening the door and ushering us in. however, despite the fact that a great puzzle had just fallen into place, none of us was prepared for the spectacle that awaited us in the doctor’s inner room.
We were ushered into a specious room. The room bore all the tastes and preferences of the doctor. This ranged from the exotic furniture to the antiques that lined the walls of the house. Even the chandeliers hanging from the ceiling bespoke of the doctor’s great taste and affinity for perfection. However, this was all expected, having known the doctor for many years. In fact, his reputation and taste always preceded him.
Mrs. Thornton was sitting on a large comfortable arm-chair behind a small table with a computer on top. She was obviously immersed in the computer, but upon our entry, she sat up, a smile playing on her lips. In spite of the many years of suffering, and the cruelties of life that she had undergone, it was evident that she was a very beautiful woman. The thin sensuous lips stretched in a smile, the passionate eyes lit up and she rose to meet the guests. Her candor and elegance immediately disarmed her guests.
After the little ritual of salutations, we sat in chairs shown to us. A hush fell into the room. The tension in the air was palpable. For, all of a sudden, two black boys emerged from a side door and rushed into the doctor’s lap. These were the doctor’s sons. And they were Negros! We were taken aback. Try as we would, we could not conceal the shock and consternation that engulfed us. Hon. Clapp was not so honorable as he openly stared at the boys in bafflement. The fine theologian lost his finesse and gaped at the spectacle playing out before his very own eyes. These two had been the most vocal critics of inter-racial marriages, and now they found themselves in a moral dilemma.
Dr. Thornton and his wife had obviously prepared for this moment.
“Gentlemen, meet our two sons, Jake and Pitt Thornton,” Mrs. Thornton said. “Jake, Pitt, sitting over there,” she gestured at Hon. Clapp, “is the Hon. Herbert Clapp. I have no doubt you have heard a lot about him.”
Hon. Clapp was already talking. “The pleasure is all mine. Jake and Pitt come and shake my hand. Your father is a great friend of mine…..oh yes! And a wonderful doctor too.” This had a profound effect on the air in the room that evening. Suddenly, all barriers were broken and the iced relations between the races thawed in that instant. The flood-gates opened and we rushed to embrace the two black boys. Some hugged Dr. Thornton and his enigmatic wife, and the rest became history.
History repeated itself that evening. A party was thrown in honor of the Thorntons. The party was reminiscent of the one thrown so many years ago to fete Talma Gordon. This was because she was the center of attraction that evening – everyone was eager to meet the doctor’s wife. Theirs was a great love story, telling of a love that had withstood the test of time and circumstances. It was a story of hope that one day, it would be possible to erase racial acrimonies among people the world over.
It was a celebration of sorts. In fact, the party celebrated all the individuals of the organization. The Hon. Clapp and the theologian were all feted for their remarkable achievement in life. Most importantly, they were celebrated for accepting and welcoming the solution offered by Dr Thornton to the nagging problem of race. Everybody agreed that intermarriages between different races would provide a lasting solution, as had been exemplified by the Thorntons.