“How have you got through the winter, Ellen? Everything has been so dear that even we have felt the effect of the high prices.”
“Oh, tolerably well, I thank you. Husband’s business, it is true, has not been as brisk as usual, but we ought not to complain; now that we have got the house paid for, and the girls do so much sewing, we get on very nicely.”
“I should think three children must be something of a burthen—must be hard to provide for.”
“Oh no, not at all,” rejoined Mrs. Ellis, who seemed rather surprised at Mrs. Thomas’s uncommon solicitude respecting them. “We have never found the children a burthen, thank God—they’re rather a comfort and a pleasure than otherwise.”
“I’m glad to hear you say so, Ellen—very glad, indeed, for I have been quite disturbed in mind respecting you during the winter. I really several times thought of sending to take Charlie off your hands: by-the-way, what is he doing now?”
“He goes to school regularly—he hasn’t missed a day all winter. You should just see his writing,” continued Mrs. Ellis, warming up with a mother’s pride in her only son—“he won’t let the girls make out any of the bills, but does it all himself—he made out yours.”
Mrs. Thomas took down the file and looked at the bill again. “It’s very neatly written, very neatly written, indeed; isn’t it about time that he left school—don’t you think he has education enough?” she inquired.
“His father don’t. He intends sending him to another school, after vacation, where they teach Latin and Greek, and a number of other branches.”
“Nonsense, nonsense, Ellen! If I were you, I wouldn’t hear of it. There won’t be a particle of good result to the child from any such acquirements. It isn’t as though he was a white child. What use can Latin or Greek be to a coloured boy? None in the world—he’ll have to be a common mechanic, or, perhaps, a servant, or barber, or something of that kind, and then what use would all his fine education be to him? Take my advice, Ellen, and don’t have him taught things that will make him feel above the situation he, in all probability, will have to fill. Now,” continued she, “I have a proposal to make to you: let him come and live with me awhile—I’ll pay you well, and take good care of him; besides, he will be learning something here, good manners, &c. Not that he is not a well-mannered child; but, you know, Ellen, there is something every one learns by coming in daily contact with refined and educated people that cannot but be beneficial—come now, make up your mind to leave him with me, at least until the winter, when the schools again commence, and then, if his father is still resolved to send him back to school, why he can do so. Let me have him for the summer at least.”
Mrs. Ellis, who had always been accustomed to regard Mrs. Thomas as a miracle of wisdom, was, of course, greatly impressed with what she had said. She had lived many years in her family, and had left it to marry Mr. Ellis, a thrifty mechanic, who came from Savanah, her native city. She had great reverence for any opinion Mrs. Thomas expressed; and, after some further conversation on the subject, made up her mind to consent to the proposal, and left her with the intention of converting her husband to her way of thinking.