Miss Minerva was strictly methodical; she worked ever by the clock, so many hours for this, so many minutes for that. William, she now resolved, for the first time becoming really interested in him, should grow up to be a model young man, a splendid and wonderful piece of mechanism, a fine, practical, machine-like individual, moral, upright, religious. She was glad that he was young; she would begin his training on the morrow. She would teach him to sew, to sweep, to churn, to cook, and when he was older he should be educated for the ministry.
“Yes,” said Miss Minerva; “I shall be very strict with him just at first, and punish him for the slightest disobedience or misdemeanor, and he will soon learn that my authority is not to be questioned.”
And the little boy who had never had a restraining hand laid upon him in his short life? He slept sweetly and innocently in the next room dreaming of the care-free existence on the plantation and of his idle, happy, negro companions.
The willing Worker
“Get up, William,” said Miss Minerva, “and come with me to the bath-room; I have fixed your bath.”
The child’s sleepy eyes popped wide open at this astounding command.
“Ain’t this-here Wednesday?” he asked sharply.
“Yes; to-day is Wednesday. Hurry up or your water will get cold.”
“Well, me an’ Wilkes Booth Lincoln jest washed las’ Sat’day. We ain’t got to wash no mo’ till nex’ Sat’day,” he argued.
“Oh, yes,” said his relative; “you must bathe every day.”
“Me an’ Wilkes Booth Lincoln ain’t never wash on a Wednesday sence we’s born,” he protested indignantly.
Billy’s idea of a bath was taken from the severe weekly scrubbing which Aunt Cindy gave him with a hard washrag, and he felt that he’d rather die at once than have to bathe every day.
He followed his aunt dolefully to the bath-room at the end of the long back-porch of the old-fashioned, one-story house; but once in the big white tub he was delighted.
In fact he stayed in it so long Miss Minerva had to knock on the door and tell him to hurry up and get ready for breakfast.
“Say,” he yelled out to her, “I likes this here; it’s mos’ as fine as Johnny’s Wash Hole where me and’ Wilkes Booth Lincoln goes in swimmin’ ever sence we’s born.”
When he came into the dining-room he was a sight to gladden even a prim old maid’s heart. The water had curled his hair into riotous yellow ringlets, his bright eyes gleamed, his beautiful, expressive little face shone happily, and every movement of his agile, lithe figure was grace itself.
“I sho’ is hongry,” he remarked, as he took his seat at the breakfast table.
Miss Minerva realized that now was the time to begin her small nephew’s training; if she was ever to teach him to speak correctly she must begin at once.