That, evening Charlie, his mother, and Mr. Walters went to the house of Mr. Blatchford. They were most, kindly received, and all the arrangements made for Charlie’s apprenticeship. He was to remain one month on trial; and if, at the end of that period, all parties were satisfied, he was to be formally indentured.
Charlie looked forward impatiently to the following Monday, on which day he was to commence his apprenticeship. In the intervening time he held daily conferences with Kinch, as he felt their intimacy would receive a slight check after he entered upon his new pursuit.
“Look here, old fellow,” said Charlie; “it won’t do for you to be lounging on the door-steps of the office, nor be whistling for me under the windows. Mr. Blatchford spoke particularly against my having playmates around in work hours; evenings I shall always be at home, and then you can come and see me as often as you like.”
Since his visit to Warmouth, Charlie had been much more particular respecting his personal appearance, dressed neater, and was much more careful of his clothes. He had also given up marbles, and tried to persuade Kinch to do the same.
“I’d cut marbles, Kinch,” said he to him one evening, when they were walking together, “if I were you; it makes one such a fright—covers one with chalk-marks and dirt from head to foot. And another thing, Kinch; you have an abundance of good clothes—do wear them, and try and look more like a gentleman.”
“Dear me!” said Kinch, rolling up the white of his eyes—“just listen how we are going on! Hadn’t I better get an eye-glass and pair of light kid gloves?”
“Oh, Kinch!” said Charlie, gravely, “I’m not joking—I mean what I say. You don’t know how far rough looks and an untidy person go against one. I do wish you would try and keep yourself decent.” “Well, there then—I will,” answered Kinch. “But, Charlie, I’m afraid, with your travelling and one thing or other, you will forget your old playmate by-and-by, and get above him.”
Charlie’s eyes moistened; and, with a boy’s impulsiveness, he threw his arm over Kinch’s shoulder, and exclaimed with emphasis, “Never, old fellow, never—not as long as my name is Charlie Ellis! You mustn’t be hurt at what I said, Kinch—I think more of these things than I used to—I see the importance of them. I find that any one who wants to get on must be particular in little things as well great, and I must try and be a man now—for you know things don’t glide on as smoothly with us as they used. I often think of our fun in the old house—ah, perhaps we’ll have good times in another of our own yet!”—and with this Charlie and his friend separated for the night.
Clouds and Sunshine.
The important Monday at length arrived, and Charlie hastened to the office of Mr. Blatchford, which he reached before the hour for commencing labour. He found some dozen or more journeymen assembled in the work-room; and noticed that upon his entrance there was an interchange of significant glances, and once or twice he overheard the whisper of “nigger.”