“Ah!” sighed Esther, “but for that we should all have been happier. But, Charlie,” she added, “how do you know that you cannot obtain any other employment than that of a servant? Have you ever applied personally to any one?”
“No, Esther, I haven’t; but you know as well as I that white masters won’t receive coloured apprentices.”
“I think a great deal of that is taken for granted,” rejoined Esther, “try some one yourself.”
“I only wish I knew of any one to try,” responded Charlie, “I’d hazard the experiment at any rate.”
“Look over the newspaper in the morning,” advised Esther; “there are always a great many wants advertised—amongst them you may perhaps find something suitable.”
“Well, I will Ess—now then we won’t talk about that any more—pray tell me, if I’m not too inquisitive, what do you purpose buying with your money—a wedding-dress, eh?” he asked, with a merry twinkle in his eye.
Esther blushed and sighed, as she answered: “No, Charlie, that is all over for the present. I told him yesterday I could not think of marrying now, whilst we are all so unsettled. It grieved me to do it, Charlie, but I felt that it was my duty. Cad and I are going to add our savings to mother’s; that, combined with what we shall receive for father’s tools, good-will, &c, will be sufficient to furnish another house; and as soon as we can succeed in that, we will leave Mr. Walters, as it is embarrassing to remain under present circumstances.”
“And what is to become of little Em?—she surely won’t remain alone with him?”
“Mr. Walters has proposed that when we procure a house she shall come and board with us. He wants us to take one of his houses, and offers some fabulous sum for the child’s board, which it would be unreasonable in us to take. Dear, good man, he is always complaining that we are too proud, and won’t let him assist us when he might. If we find a suitable house I shall be delighted to have her. I love the child for her mother’s sake and her own.”
“I wonder if they will ever send her away, as they did Clarence?” asked Charlie.
“I do not know,” she rejoined. “Mr. Balch told me that he should not insist upon it if the child was unwilling.”
The next day Charlie purchased all the morning papers he could obtain, and sat down to look over the list of wants. There were hungry people in want of professed cooks; divers demands for chamber-maids, black or white; special inquiries for waiters and footmen, in which the same disregard of colour was observable; advertisements for partners in all sorts of businesses, and for journeymen in every department of mechanical operations; then there were milliners wanted, sempstresses, and even theatrical assistants, but nowhere in the long columns could he discover: “Wanted, a boy.” Charlie searched them over and over, but the stubborn fact stared him in the face—there evidently were no boys wanted; and he at length concluded that he either belonged to a very useless class, or that there was an unaccountable prejudice existing in the city against the rising generation.