It did not require a great deal to render this young gentleman happy. All that was necessary to make up a day of perfect joyfulness with him, was a dozen marbles, permission to wear his worst inexpressibles, and to be thoroughly up in his lessons. To-day he was possessed of all these requisites, but there was also in the perspective along array of skirmishes with Aunt Rachel, who, he knew, looked on him with an evil eye, and who had frequently expressed herself regarding him, in his presence, in terms by no means complimentary or affectionate; and the manner in which she had intimated her desire, on one or two occasions, to have an opportunity of reforming his personal habits, were by no means calculated to produce a happy frame of mind, now that the opportunity was about to be afforded her.
Charlie sauntered on until he came to a lumber-yard, where he stopped and examined a corner of the fence very attentively. “Not gone by yet. I must wait for him,” said he; and forthwith he commenced climbing the highest pile of boards, the top of which he reached at the imminent risk of his neck. Here he sat awaiting the advent of his friend Kinch, the absence of death’s head and cross bones from the corner of the fence being a clear indication that he had not yet passed on his way to school.
Soon, however, he was espied in the distance, and as he was quite a character in his way, we must describe him. His most prominent feature was a capacious hungry-looking mouth, within which glistened a row of perfect teeth. He had the merriest twinkling black eyes, and a nose so small and flat that it would have been a prize to any editor living, as it would have been a physical impossibility to have pulled it, no matter what outrage he had committed. His complexion was of a ruddy brown, and his hair, entirely innocent of a comb, was decorated with divers feathery tokens of his last night’s rest. A cap with the front torn off, jauntily set on one side of his head, gave him a rakish and wide-awake air, his clothes were patched and torn in several places, and his shoes were already in an advanced stage of decay. As he approached the fence he took a piece of chalk from his pocket, and commenced to sketch the accustomed startling illustration which was to convey to Charlie the intelligence that he had already passed there on his way to school, when a quantity of sawdust came down in a shower on his head. As soon as the blinding storm had ceased, Kinch looked up and intimated to Charlie that it was quite late, and that there was a probability of their being after time at school.
This information caused Charlie to make rather a hasty descent, in doing which his dinner-basket was upset, and its contents displayed at the feet of the voracious Kinch.
“Now I’ll be even with you for that sawdust,” cried he, as he pocketed two boiled eggs, and bit an immense piece out of an apple-tart, which he would have demolished completely but for the prompt interposition of its owner.