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Brent's apprentices in Chapter 7 are a group of young children who happen to come around as he is constructing his whirligig on the beach near the small town of Beale Beach, Florida. At first there are "seven or eight of them, all black, all grammar-school-aged except for one older girl." When they first arrive, they are just playing in the water nearby, then one of the notices him, "call(s) to the others, and (leads) a noisy charge to investigate." The kids basically create havoc, blowing on Brent's harmonica, playing with his saw, and asking a lot of questions. Brent, feeling like "a substitute kindergarten teacher," lets them take turns hammering nails into a chunk of driftwood in an effort to keep them under control. Eventually, they drift away into the surrounding woods.
When Brent returns to the beach the next day, the children do not appear. The day after that, however, four of them come by. Brent takes a break that day and goes swimming with the children. He finds that he can actually learn a lot from them, as they teach him about the birds that frequent the area and the different shells that lie along the beach. Brent does not mind at all "apprenticing himself to a third grader," and in gratitude for what the children have shared with him, he lets them drill holes into a piece of plywood. As Brent finishes his whirligig, he notices one of the children imitating him, making a makeshift one of his own out of scrap material. Even though Brent knows that his whirligig will probably be destroyed by one of the ferocious Gulf storms which are endemic to the area, he rests secure in the knowledge that the children, his little apprentices, will make new ones, carrying on the spirit of his mission (Chapter 7).
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