All this time Charlie, to his great discomfiture, was being shaken and turned about by Robberts in the most unceremonious manner. Kinch, with his usual audacity, was meanwhile industriously engaged in tracing on Robbert’s coat a similar picture to that he had so skilfully drawn on Charlie’s, to the great delight of a crowd of boys who stood admiring spectators of his artistic performances. The coachman, however, observing this operation, brought it to a rather hasty conclusion by a well directed cut of the whip across the fingers of the daring young artist. This so enraged Kinch, that in default of any other missile, he threw his lime-covered cap at the head of the coachman; but, unfortunately for himself, the only result of his exertions was the lodgment of his cap in the topmost bough of a neighbouring tree, from whence it was rescued with great difficulty.
“What shall we do with him?” asked Mrs. Thomas, in a despairing tone, as she looked at Charlie.
“Put him with the coachman,” suggested Mrs. Morton.
“He can’t sit there, the horses are so restive, and the seat is only constructed for one, and he would be in the coachman’s way. I suppose he must find room on behind with Robberts.”
“I won’t ride on the old carriage,” cried Charlie, nerved by despair; “I won’t stay here nohow. I’m going home to my mother;” and as he spoke he endeavoured to wrest himself from Robberts’ grasp. “Put him in here,” said Mrs. Thomas; “it would never do to let him go, for he will run home with some distressing tale of ill-treatment; no, we must keep him until I can send for his mother—put him in here.”
Much to Mrs. Morton’s disgust, Charlie was bundled by Robberts into the bottom of the carriage, where he sat listening to the scolding of Mrs. Thomas and her daughter until they arrived at home. He remained in disgrace for several days after this adventure; but as Mrs. Thomas well knew that she could not readily fill his place with another, she made a virtue of necessity, and kindly looked over this first offence.
The situation was, however, growing more and more intolerable. Aunt Rachel and he had daily skirmishes, in which he was very frequently worsted. He had held several hurried consultations with Kinch through the grating of the cellar window, and was greatly cheered and stimulated in the plans he intended to pursue by the advice and sympathy of his devoted friend. Master Kinch’s efforts to console Charlie were not without great risk to himself, as he had on two or three occasions narrowly escaped falling into the clutches of Robberts, who well remembered Kinch’s unprecedented attempt upon the sacredness of his livery; and what the result might have been had the latter fallen into his hands, we cannot contemplate without a shudder.
These conferences between Kinch and Charlie produced their natural effect, and latterly it had been several times affirmed by aunt Rachel that, “Dat air boy was gittin’ ‘tirely too high—gittin’ bove hissef ’pletely—dat he was gittin’ more and more aggriwatin’ every day—dat she itched to git at him—dat she ‘spected nothin’ else but what she’d be ’bliged to take hold o’ him;” and she comported herself generally as if she was crazy for the conflict which she saw must sooner or later occur.