Now, to Aunt Comfort (who was the only coloured person who regularly attended the church) a seat had been assigned beside the organ; which elevated position had been given her that the congregation might indulge in their devotions without having their prejudices shocked by a too close contemplation of her ebony countenance.
But Aunt Comfort, on this occasion, determined to get near enough to hear all that passed, and, leaving her accustomed seat, she planted herself in one of the aisles of the gallery overlooking the altar, where she remained almost speechless with wonder and astonishment at the unprecedented sight of a woolly head at the foot of the altar.
Charlie got on very successfully until called upon to repeat the Lord’s Prayer; and, strange to say, at this critical juncture, his memory forsook him, and he was unable to utter a word of it: for the life of him he could not think of anything but “Now I lay me down to sleep”—and confused and annoyed he stood unable to proceed. At this stage of affairs, Aunt Comfort’s interest in Charlie’s success had reached such a pitch that her customary awe of the place she was in entirely departed, and she exclaimed, “I’ll give yer a start—’Our Farrer,’”—then overwhelmed by the consciousness that she had spoken out in meeting, she sank down behind a pew-door, completely extinguished. At this there was an audible titter, that was immediately suppressed; after which, Charlie recovered his memory, and, started by the opportune prompting of Aunt Comfort, he recited it correctly. A few questions more terminated the examination, and the children sat down in front of the altar until the conclusion of the service.
Mrs. Bird, highly delighted with the debut of her protege, bestowed no end of praises upon him, and even made the coachman walk home, that Charlie might have a seat in the carriage, as she alleged she was sure he must be much fatigued and overcome with the excitement of the day; then taking the reins into her own hands, she drove them safely home.
We must now return to Philadelphia, and pay a visit to the office of Mr. Balch. We shall find that gentleman in company with Mr. Walters: both look anxious, and are poring over a letter which is outspread before them.
“It was like a thunder-clap to me,” said Mr. Balch: “the idea of there being another heir never entered my brain—I didn’t even know he had a living relative.”
“When did you get the letter?” asked Walters.
“Only this morning, and I sent for you immediately! Let us read it again—we’ll make another attempt to decipher this incomprehensible name. Confound the fellow! why couldn’t he write so that some one besides himself could read it! We must stumble through it,” said he, as he again began the letter as follows:—
“Dear Sir,—Immediately on receipt of your favour, I called upon Mr. Thurston, to take the necessary steps for securing the property of your late client. To my great surprise, I found that another claimant had started up, and already taken the preliminary measures to entering upon possession. This gentleman, Mr.——