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Dr. Copeland always has a Christmas party and invites the entire community to come. He distributes gifts to everyone, gathered from community members, and he judges essays for an annual essay prize. This year, the essay topic concerns bettering the African-American community. He is disappointed with all the essays and disturbed by one of them. He is interrupted in his thoughts by Portia who has been despondent and very worried because Willie has not written to her for three days when in the past, his letters have always been exactly on time.
Dr. Copeland urges her to stop worrying and he goes back to the essays. He reads Lancy Davis’s essay. Lancy wants to be like Moses and lead his people to freedom. He wants to prepare them for a revolt against the European-American people who run the country. He wants African Americans to take the land east of the Mississippi river and south of the Potomac river. He will not let any white people enter the territory and if they do enter, they will have no legal rights. He ends his essay affirming his hatred of the "whole white race" and his determination to work to revenge African Americans.
Doctor Copeland thinks of the other essays. Many of them opened with the affirmation that they did not want to be a servant. He is disturbed by Lancy’s essay. He remembers when Lancy’s sister was sent out as a domestic servant at the age of eleven and was raped by her white employer. A year later, Dr. Copeland was called on an emergency to Lancy’s house and found that Lancy had tried to emasculate himself. He was thirteen at the time. Portia comes in and urges him to decide on the contest winner so he can help her with the gifts to be distributed later. When he gets to the kitchen, he finds a pile of broken and useless gifts that very poor people have contributed. He tells Portia to save them, but to put them away to be dealt with later. He tells Portia that Mr. Singer contributed a check for twelve dollars. He tells her Mr. Singer is not like other people of the "Caucasian race."
He feels joyous that the people seem to have understood and affirmed what he was telling them. When they all leave, he goes through the house to clean it. He gets to his office and finds his own file out on his desk. It describes the history of his tuberculosis and the unsure diagnosis. He feels rage return to him. After a while, he goes back to the kitchen where Portia is cleaning dishes. She is slumped over. He sternly tells her to stand up straight. She tells him she has a terrible feeling about what has happened to Willie. He leaves the house to go on his rounds. As he drives down the street, "his heart turned with this angry, restless love."