“Well, how do you like it, Fosdick?” he asked, complacently.
The time was when Fosdick would have thought it untidy and not particularly attractive. But he had served a severe apprenticeship in the streets, and it was pleasant to feel himself under shelter, and he was not disposed to be critical.
“It looks very comfortable, Dick,” he said.
“The bed aint very large,” said Dick; “but I guess we can get along.”
“Oh, yes,” said Fosdick, cheerfully. “I don’t take up much room.”
“Then that’s all right. There’s two chairs, you see, one for you and one for me. In case the mayor comes in to spend the evenin’ socially, he can sit on the bed.”
The boys seated themselves, and five minutes later, under the guidance of his young tutor, Dick had commenced his studies.
THE FIRST LESSON
Fortunately for Dick, his young tutor was well qualified to instruct him. Henry Fosdick, though only twelve years old, knew as much as many boys of fourteen. He had always been studious and ambitious to excel. His father, being a printer, employed in an office where books were printed, often brought home new books in sheets, which Henry was always glad to read. Mr. Fosdick had been, besides, a subscriber to the Mechanics’ Apprentices’ Library, which contains many thousands of well-selected and instructive books. Thus Henry had acquired an amount of general information, unusual in a boy of his age. Perhaps he had devoted too much time to study, for he was not naturally robust. All this, however, fitted him admirably for the office to which Dick had appointed him,—that of his private instructor.
The two boys drew up their chairs to the rickety table, and spread out the paper before them.
“The exercises generally Commence with ringin’ the bell,” said Dick; “but as I aint got none, we’ll have to do without.”
“And the teacher is generally provided with a rod,” said Fosdick. “Isn’t there a poker handy, that I can use in case my scholar doesn’t behave well?”
“’Taint lawful to use fire-arms,” said Dick.
“Now, Dick,” said Fosdick, “before we begin, I must find out how much you already know. Can you read any?”
“Not enough to hurt me,” said Dick. “All I know about readin’ you could put in a nutshell, and there’d be room left for a small family.”
“I suppose you know your letters?”
“Yes,” said Dick, “I know ’em all, but not intimately. I guess I can call ’em all by name.”
“Where did you learn them? Did you ever go to school?”
“Yes; I went two days.”
“Why did you stop?”
“It didn’t agree with my constitution.”
“You don’t look very delicate,” said Fosdick.
“No,” said Dick, “I aint troubled much that way; but I found lickins didn’t agree with me.”