“I don’t see any use in this chaffering, Mr. Balch,” said Stephens; “you can’t expect me to give you any such sums as you propose. Name a sum that you can reasonably expect to get.”
“Well,” said Mr. Balch, rising, “you must give us fifteen thousand dollars, and you should think yourself well off then. We could commence a suit, and put you to nearly that expense to defend it; to say nothing of the notoriety that the circumstance would occasion you. Both Walters and I are willing to spend both money and time in defence of these children’s rights; I assure you they are not friendless.”
“I’ll give twelve thousand, and not a cent more, if I’m hung for it,” said Mr. Stevens, almost involuntarily.
“Who spoke of hanging?” asked Mr. Balch.
“Oh!” rejoined Stevens, “that is only my emphatic way of speaking.” “Of course, you meant figuratively,” said Mr. Balch, in a tone of irony; mentally adding, “as I hope you may be one day literally.”
Mr. Stevens looked flushed and angry, but Mr. Balch continued, without appearing to notice him, and said: “I’ll speak to Walters. Should he acquiesce in your proposal, I am willing to accept it; however, I cannot definitely decide without consulting him. To-morrow I will inform you of the result.”
To Charlie the summer had been an exceedingly short one—time had flown so pleasantly away. Everything that could be done to make the place agreeable Mrs. Bird had effected. Amongst the number of her acquaintances who had conceived a regard for her young protege was a promising artist to whom she had been a friend and patroness. Charlie paid him frequent visits, and would sit hour after hour in his studio, watching the progress of his work. Having nothing else at the time to amuse him, he one day asked the artist’s permission to try his hand at a sketch. Being supplied with the necessary materials, he commenced a copy of a small drawing, and was working assiduously, when the artist came and looked over his shoulder.
“Did you ever draw before?” he asked, with a start of surprise.
“Never,” replied Charlie, “except on my slate at school. I sometimes used to sketch the boys’ faces.”
“And you have never received any instructions?”
“Never—not even a hint,” was the answer.
“And this is the first time you have attempted a sketch upon paper?”
“Yes; the very first.”
“Then you are a little prodigy,” said the artist, slapping him upon the shoulder. “I must take you in hand. You have nothing else to do; come here regularly every day, and I’ll teach you. Will you come?”
“Certainly, if you wish it. But now, tell me, do you really think that drawing good?” “Well, Charlie, if I had done it, it would be pronounced very bad for me; but, coming from your hands, it’s something astonishing.”