“Very pleased to meet you. I hope you enjoy yourself tonight.” Charlie smiled kindly at her. Was it possible that he noticed her nervousness? He stood beside her and leaned down a bit, being some inches taller than Christine. “Don’t worry,” he spoke softly. “These boys are a good bunch, for the most part. I hope you won’t regret coming.”
“Oh, thank you,” Christine replied. “I am sure it will be a wonderful evening.” Charlie nodded and moved on to greet the other girls. Christine carefully watched him as he went from one to the other. She was, of course, interrupted every now and then by more welcomes from other young men, but she always turned her head to find Charlie. He greeted the other girls in much the same manner that he had greeted her. He had such an honest, courteous, and kind way about him that was quite different from any of the other young men. The other boys were either awkward and nervous or overly flirtatious and boastful.
Once the introductions were finished, Mr. Range announced, “We will now play some games. I would like every young man to choose a young lady as his partner. As there are a few more young men than ladies, the teachers of Rosewood are happy to join in.”
Christine was standing near to the wall when this announcement was made. Her heart began to beat quickly as the boys walked around the room and stepped up to a girl of his choice. As the pairs were made, they broke off from the group and walked to another part of the room.
“Christine?” A voice spoke from her left. Looking over, she saw Charlie. He nodded again before he continued.
“I would much enjoy playing the games with you, if you will be my partner.”
Christine felt her cheeks grow warm. “Oh, yes, thank you,” was all she could say. Charlie held out his arm and Christine slipped her arm through his. They walked to the other side of the room and waited for the others to be paired off.
“I would presume you are one of the older young ladies at the academy, are you not?” Charlie asked.
Christine met his eyes. “Yes, I am one of the oldest; I’m seventeen. I would venture to say that you also are one of the oldest.”
Charlie nodded, smiling. “You are quite right; I am nineteen and only have a month before I graduate from the academy.”
“What do expect to be doing after you graduate?” Christine inquired.
Charlie looked thoughtful. “Lately, I have considered becoming an apprentice to my uncle; he is a tailor.”
Christine was surprised at this unusual idea. “I see. Do you enjoy sewing?”
Charlie laughed and shook his head. “I do, actually. I am probably the only boy here who does. I tend to generate laughs, but it doesn’t bother me. So you may laugh if you like.”
“Oh, no, I won’t laugh at you,” Christine hurried to assure him. “I think that’s a wonderful job. Men should be willing to work with their hands, in my opinion. It seems that some men are lazy and would not look twice at the offer of a good hardworking job.”
Charlie nodded. “I don’t know how hardworking tailoring is going to be, but I quite agree with you at any rate.”
At this point, Mr. Range announced the first game. As I do not expect this to be very interesting to my readers, I will refrain from describing the following games. The young people enjoyed several games, all with their partners. Charlie proved to be a thoughtful and kind partner and Christine liked the games more than she had anticipated.
When the games had ended, the young people once more mingled among themselves. This was the time to enjoy refreshments as well. Charlie turned to Christine.
“Christine, would you be interested in some refreshments?”
The games had indeed brought on an appetite. “Yes, thank you, that sounds wonderful.”
“What sort of foods do you like?” Charlie asked.
“Everything!” Christine chuckled.
Charlie nodded and strode off toward the tables of refreshments. Christine turned and found a few chairs behind her. Seating herself, she was immediately faced by Connie and Geneva.
“My goodness, Christine, I am having the most wonderful time! I don’t think I’ve had so much fun in my entire life, and we haven’t even danced yet!” Geneva was frantic with excitement as she hurried back to where her partner waited for her.
“Connie, are you enjoying yourself?” Christine asked.
“Oh, yes! Daniel is my partner and he is perfectly flattering! Oh, there he is now. I must go meet him. See you later!”
Christine had only to wait a few minutes before Charlie returned with a plate full of fruit, vegetables and dip, crackers and cheese, and a piece of pie, along with a glass of punch. He carefully handed her the plate and set the glass on a nearby table.
“Thank you very much, Charlie.”
“Of course,” he said. “I will go get a plate for myself and be back in a moment.”
Christine watched him from a distance as she delved into her food. Charlie carried himself with dignity, yet he was not prideful or conceited. He seemed sincere and honest in everything he did or said. Christine felt that he hid no surprises; what you saw was who he was.