Charlie Distinguishes Himself.
Charlie had now been many weeks under the hospitable roof of Mrs. Bird, improving in health and appearance. Indeed, it would have been a wonder if he had not, as the kind mistress of the mansion seemed to do nought else, from day to day, but study plans for his comfort and pleasure. There was one sad drawback upon the contentment of the dear old lady, and that was her inability to procure Charlie’s admission to the academy.
One morning Mr. Whately called upon her, and, throwing himself into a chair, exclaimed: “It’s all to no purpose; their laws are as unalterable as those of the Medes and Persians—arguments and entreaty are equally thrown away upon them; I’ve been closeted at least half a dozen times with each director; and as all I can say won’t make your protege a shade whiter, I’m afraid his admission to the academy must be given up.”
“It’s too bad,” rejoined Mrs. Bird. “And who, may I ask, were the principal opposers?”
“They all opposed it, except Mr. Weeks and Mr. Bentham.”
“Indeed!—why they are the very ones that I anticipated would go against it tooth and nail. And Mr. Glentworth—surely he was on our side?”
“He!—why, my dear madam, he was the most rabid of the lot. With his sanctified face and canting tongue!”
“I’m almost ashamed to own it—but it’s the truth, and I shouldn’t hesitate to tell it—I found the most pious of the directors the least accessible; as to old Glentworth, he actually talked to me as if I was recommending the committal of some horrid sin. I’m afraid I shall be set down by him as a rabid Abolitionist, I got so warm on the subject. I’ve cherished as strong prejudices against coloured people as any one; but I tell you, seeing how contemptible it makes others appear, has gone a great way towards eradicating it in me. I found myself obliged to use the same arguments against it that are used by the Abolitionists, and in endeavouring to convince others of the absurdity of their prejudices, I convinced myself.”
“I’d set my heart upon it,” said Mrs. Bird, in a tone of regret; “but I suppose I’ll have to give it up. Charlie don’t know I’ve made application for his admission, and has been asking me to let him go. A great many of the boys who attend there have become acquainted with him, and it was only yesterday that Mr. Glentworth’s sons were teasing me to consent to his beginning there the next term. The boys,” concluded she, “have better hearts than their parents.”
“Oh, I begin to believe it’s all sham, this prejudice; I’m getting quite disgusted with myself for having had it—or rather thinking I had it. As for saying it is innate, or that there is any natural antipathy to that class, it’s all perfect folly; children are not born with it, or why shouldn’t they shrink from a black nurse or playmate? It’s all bosh,” concluded he, indignantly, as he brought his cane down with a rap.