Jan of the Windmill
by Juliana Horatia Ewing
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Chapter I. The windmiller's wife.—Strangers.—Ten shillings a week.—The little Jan.

Chapter II. The miller's calculations.—His hopes and fears.—The nurse-boy.—Calm.

Chapter III. The windmiller's words come true.—The red shawl.—In the clouds.—Nursing v. pig-minding.—The round-house.—The miller's thumb.

Chapter IV. Black as slans.—Vair and voolish.—The miller and his man.

Chapter V. The pocket-book and the family bible.—Five pounds' reward.

Chapter VI. George goes courting.—George as an enemy.—George as a friend.—Abel plays schoolmaster.—The love-letter.—Moerdyk.—The miller-moth.—An ancient ditty.

Chapter VII. Abel goes to school again.—Dame Datchett.—A column of spelling.—Abel plays moocher.—The miller's man cannot make up his mind.

Chapter VIII. Visitors at the mill.—A windmiller of the third generation.—Cure for whooping-cough.—Miss Amabel Adeline Ammaby.— Doctors disagree.

Chapter IX. Gentry born.—Learning lost.—Jan's bedfellow.—Amabel.

Chapter X. Abel at home.—Jan objects to the miller's man.—The alphabet.—The Cheap Jack.—"Pitchers".

Chapter XI. Scarecrows and men.—Jan refuses to "make Gearge."— Uncanny.—"Jan's off."—The moon and the clouds.

Chapter XII. The white horse.—Comrogues.—Moerdyk.—George confides in the Cheap Jack—with reservation.

Chapter XIII. George as a moneyed man.—Sal.—The "White Horse."— The wedding.—The windmiller's wife forgets, and remembers too late.

Chapter XIV. Sublunary art.—Jan goes to school.—Dame Datchett at home.—Jan's first school scrape.—Jan defends himself.

Chapter XV. Willum gives Jan some advice.—The clock face.—The hornet and the Dame.—Jan draws pigs.—Jan and his patrons.—Kitty Chuter.—The fight.—Master Chuter's prediction.

Chapter XVI. The mop.—The shop.—What the Cheap Jack's wife had to tell.—What George withheld.

Chapter XVII. The miller's man at the mop.—A lively companion.—Sal loses her purse.—The recruiting sergeant.—The pocket-book twice stolen.—George in the King's Arms.—George in the King's service.— The letter changes hands, but keeps its secret.

Chapter XVIII. Midsummer holidays.—Child fancies.—Jan and the pig- minder.—Master Salter at home.—Jan hires himself out.

Chapter XIX. The blue coat.—Pig-minding and tree-studying.—Leaf- paintings.—A stranger.—Master Swift is disappointed.

Chapter XX. Squire Ammaby and his daughter.—The Cheap Jack does business once more.—The white horse changes masters.

Chapter XXI. Master Swift at home.—Rufus.—The ex-pig-minder.—Jan and the schoolmaster.

Chapter XXII. The parish church.—Rembrandt.—The snow scene.— Master Swift's autobiography.

Chapter XXIII. The white horse in clover.—Amabel and her guardians.—Amabel in the wood.—Bogy.

Chapter XXIV. The paint-box.—Master Linseed's shop.—The new sign- board.—Master Swift as Will Scarlet.

Chapter XXV. Sanitary inspectors.—The pestilence.—The parson.—The doctor.—The squire and the schoolmaster.—Desolation at the windmill.—The second advent.

Chapter XXVI. The beasts of the village.—Abel sickens.—The good shepherd.—Rufus plays the philanthropist.—Master Swift sees the sun rise.—The death of the righteous.

Chapter XXVII. Jan has the fever.—Convalescence in Master Swift's cottage.—The squire on demoralization.

Chapter XXVIII. Mr. Ford's client.—The history of Jan's father.— Amabel and Bogy the Second.

Chapter XXIX. Jan fulfils Abel's charge.—Son of the mill.—The large-mouthed woman.

Chapter XXX. Jan's prospects, and Master Swift's plans.—Tea and Milton.—New parents.—Parting with Rufus.—Jan is kidnapped.

Chapter XXXI. Screeving.—An old song.—Mr. Ford's client.—The penny gaff.—Jan runs away.

Chapter XXXII. The baker.—On and on.—The church bell.—A digression.—A familiar hymn.—The Boys' Home.

Chapter XXXIII. The business man and the painter.—Pictures and pot boilers.—Cimabue and Giotto.—The salmon-colored omnibus.

Chapter XXXIV. A choice of vocations.—Recreation hour.—The bow- legged boy.—Drawing by heart.—Giotto.

Chapter XXXV. "Without character?"—The widow.—The bow-legged boy takes service.—Studios and painters.

Chapter XXXVI. The miller's letter.—A new pot boiler sold.

Chapter XXXVII. Sunshine after storm.

Chapter XXXVIII. A painter's education.—Master Chuter's port.—A farewell feast.—The sleep of the just.

Chapter XXXIX. George again.—The painter's advice.—"Home-brewed" at the Heart of Oak.—Jan changes the painter's mind.

Chapter XL. D'arcy sees Bogy.—The academy.—The painter's picture.

Chapter XLI. The detective.—The "Jook".—Jan stands by his mother's grave.—His after history.

Chapter XLII. Conclusion.



Storm without and within?

So the windmiller might have said, if he had been in the habit of putting his thoughts into an epigrammatic form, as a groan from his wife and a growl of thunder broke simultaneously upon his ear, whilst the rain fell scarcely faster than her tears.

It was far from mending matters that both storms were equally unexpected. For eight full years the miller's wife had been the meekest of women. If there was a firm (and yet, as he flattered himself, a just) husband in all the dreary straggling district, the miller was that man. And he always did justice to his wife's good qualities,—at least to her good quality of submission,—and would, till lately, have upheld her before any one as a model of domestic obedience. From the day when he brought home his bride, tall, pretty, and perpetually smiling, to the tall old mill and the ugly old mother who never smiled at all, there had been but one will in the household. At any rate, after the old woman's death. For during her life-time her stern son paid her such deference that it was a moot point, perhaps, which of them really ruled. Between them, however, the young wife was moulded to a nicety, and her voice gained no more weight in the counsels of the windmill when the harsh tones of the mother-in-law were silenced for ever.

The miller was one of those good souls who live by the light of a few small shrewdities (often proverbial), and pique themselves on sticking to them to such a point, as if it were the greater virtue to abide by a narrow rule the less it applied. The kernel of his domestic theory was, "Never yield, and you never will have to," and to this he was proud of having stuck against all temptations from a real, though hard, affection for his own; and now, after working so smoothly for eight years, had it come to this?

The miller scratched his bead, and looked at his wife, almost with amazement. She moaned, though he bade her be silent; she wept, in spite of words which had hitherto been an effectual styptic to her tears; and she met the commonplaces of his common sense with such wild, miserable laughter, that he shuddered as he heard her.

Weakness in human beings is like the strength of beasts, a power of which fortunately they are not always conscious. Unless positively brutal, you cannot well beat a sickly woman for wailing and weeping; and if she will not cease for any lesser consideration, there seems nothing for an unbending husband to do but to leave her to herself.

This the miller had to do, anyhow. For he could only spare a moment's attention to her now and then, since the mill required all his care.

In a coat and hat of painted canvas, he had been in and out ever since the storm began; now directing the two men who were working within, now struggling along the stage that ran outside the windmill, at no small risk of being fairly blown away.

He had reefed the sails twice already in the teeth of the blinding rain. But he did well to be careful. For it was in such a storm as this, five years ago "come Michaelmas," that the worst of windmill calamities had befallen him,—the sails had been torn off his mill and dashed into a hundred fragments upon the ground. And such a mishap to a seventy feet tower mill means—as windmillers well know- -not only a stoppage of trade, but an expense of two hundred pounds for the new sails.

Many a sack of grist, which should have come to him had gone down to the watermill in the valley before the new sails were at work; and the huge debt incurred to pay for them was not fairly wiped out yet. That catastrophe had kept the windmiller a poor man for five years, and it gave him a nervous dread of storms.

And talking of storms, here was another unreasonable thing. The morning sky had been (like the miller's wedded life) without a cloud. The day had been sultry, for the time of year unseasonably so. And, just when the miller most grudged an idle day, when times were hard, when he was in debt,—for some small matters, as well as the sail business,—and when, for the first time in his life, he felt almost afraid of his own hearthstone, and would fain have been busy at his trade, not a breath of wind had there been to turn the sails of the mill. Not a waft to cool his perplexed forehead, not breeze enough to stir the short grass that glared for miles over country flat enough to mock him with the fullest possible view of the cloudless sky. Then towards evening, a few gray flecks had stolen up from the horizon like thieves in the dusk, and a mighty host of clouds had followed them; and when the wind did come, it came in no moderate measure, but brought this awful storm upon its wings, which now raged as if all the powers of mischief had got loose, and were bent on turning every thing topsy-turvy indoors and out.

What made the winds and clouds so perverse, the clerk of the weather best knows; but there was a reason for the unreasonableness of the windmiller's wife.

She had lost her child, her youngest born, and therefore, at present, her best beloved. This girl-babe was the sixth of the windmiller and his wife's children, the last that God gave them, and the first that it had pleased Him to take away.

The mother had been weak herself at the time that the baby fell ill, and unusually ill-fitted to bear a heavy blow. Then her watchful eyes had seen symptoms of ailing in the child long before the windmiller's good sense would allow a fuss to be made, and expense to be incurred about a little peevishness up or down. And it was some words muttered by the doctor when he did come, about not having been sent for soon enough, which were now doing as much as any thing to drive the poor woman frantic. They struck a blow, too, at her blind belief in the miller's invariable wisdom. If he had but listened to her in this matter, were it only for love's sake! There was something, she thought, in what that woman had said who came to help her with the last offices,—the miller discouraged "neighbors," but this was a matter of decency,—that it was as foolish for a man to have the say over babies and housework as it would be for his wife to want her word in the workshop or the mill.

Perhaps a state of subjection for grown-up people does not tend to make them reasonable, especially in their indignations. The windmiller's wife dared not, for her life, have told him in so many words that she thought it would be for their joint benefit if he would give a little more consideration to her wishes and opinions; but from this suppressed idea came many sharp and peevish words at this time, which, apart from their true source, were quite as unreasonable and perverse as the miller held them to be. Nor is being completely under the control of another, self-control. It may be doubted if it can even do much to teach it. The thread of her passive condition having been, for the time, broken by grief, the bereaved mother moaned and wailed, and rocked herself, and beat her breast, and turned fiercely upon all interference, like some poor beast in anguish.

She had clung to her children with an almost morbid tenderness, in proportion as she found her worthy husband stern and cold. A hard husband sometimes makes a soft mother, and it is perhaps upon the baby of the family that her repressed affections outpoured themselves most fully. It was so in this case, at any rate. And the little one had that unearthly beauty which is seen, or imagined, about children who die young. And the poor woman had suffered and striven so for it, to have it and to keep it. The more critical grew its illness, the intenser grew her strength and resolution by watchfulness, by every means her instinct and experience could suggest, to fight and win the battle against death. And when all was vain, the maddening thought tortured her that it might have been saved.

The miller had made a mistake, and it was a pity that he made another on the top of it, with the best intentions. He hurried on the funeral, hoping that when "all was over" the mother would "settle down."

But it was this crowning insult to her agony, the shortening of the too brief time when she could watch by all that remained to her of her child, which drove her completely wild. She reproached him now plainly and bitterly enough. She would neither listen to reason nor obey; and when—with more truth than taste—he observed that other people lost children, and that they had plenty left, she laughed in his face that wild laugh which drove him back to the mill and to the storm.

How it raged! The miller's wife was an uneducated, commonplace woman enough, but, in the excited state of her nervous system, she was as sensible as any poet of a kind of comforting harmony in the wild sounds without; though at another time they would have frightened her.

They did not disturb the children, who were in bed. Four in the old press-bed in the corner, and one in a battered crib, and one in the narrow bed over which the coverlet was not yet green.

The day's work was over for her, though it was only just beginning for the miller, and the mother had nothing to do but weep, and her tears fell and fell, and the rain poured and poured. That last outburst had somewhat relieved her, and she almost wished her husband would come back, as a flash of lightning dazzled her eyes, and the thunder rattled round the old mill, as if the sails had broken up again, and were falling upon the roof of the round-house. All her senses were acute to-night, and she listened for the miller's footsteps, and so, listening, in the lull after the thunder, she heard another sound. Wheels upon the road.

A pang shot through her heart. Thus had the doctor's gig sounded the night he came,—alas, too late! How long and how intensely she had listened for that! She first heard it just beyond the mile- stone. This one must be a good bit on this side of it; up the hill, in fact. She could not help listening. It was so like, so terribly like! Now it spun along the level ground. Ah, the doctor had not hurried so! Now it was at the mill, at the door, and—it stopped.

The miller's wife rose to run out, she hardly knew why. But in a moment she checked herself, and went back to her seat.

"I be crazed, surely," said the poor woman, sitting down again. "There be more gigs than one in the world, and folk often stops to ask their way of the maester."

These travellers were a long time about the putting of such a simple question, especially as the night was not a pleasant one to linger out in. The murmur of voices, too, which the woman overheard, betokened a close conversation, in which the familiar drawl of the windmiller's dialect blended audibly with that kind of clean-clipt speaking peculiar to gentlefolk.

"He've been talking to master's five minute an' more," muttered the miller's wife. "What can 'ee want with un?" The talking ceased as she spoke, and the windmiller appeared, followed by a woman carrying a young baby in her arms.

He was a ruddy man for his age at any time, but there was an extra flush on his cheeks just now, and some excitement in his manner, making him look as his wife was not wont to see him more than once a year, after the Foresters' dinner at the Heart of Oak. There was a difference, too. A little too much drink made the windmiller peevish and pompous, but just now he spoke in a kindly, almost conciliating tone.

"See, missus! Let this good lady dry herself a bit, and get warm, and the little un too."

A woman—ill-favored, though there was no positive fault to be found with her features, except that the upper lip was long and cleft, and the lower one very large—came forward with the child, and began to take off its wraps, and the miller's wife, giving her face a hasty wipe, went hospitably to help her.

"Tst! tst! little love!" she cried, gulping down a sob, due to her own sad memories, and moving the cloak more tenderly than the woman in whose arms the child lay. "What a pair of dark eyes, then! Is't a boy or girl, m'm?"

"A boy," said a voice from the door, and the miller's wife, with a suppressed shriek of timidity, became aware of a man whose entrance she had not perceived, and to whom she dropped a hasty courtesy.

He was a man slightly above the middle height, whose slenderness made him seem taller. An old cloak, intended as much to disguise as to protect him, did not quite conceal a faultlessness of costume beneath it, after the fashion of the day. Waistcoats of three kinds, one within the other, a frilled shirt, and a well-adjusted stock, were to be seen, though he held the ends of the old cloak tightly across him, as the wind would have caught them in the doorway. He wore a countryman's hat, which seemed to suit him as little as the cloak, and from beneath the brim his dark eyes glared with a restless, dissatisfied look, and were so dark and so fierce and bright that one could hardly see any other details of his face, unless it were his smooth chin, which, either from habit or from the stiffness of his stock, he carried strangely up in the air.

"Indeed, sir," said the windmiller's wife, courtesying, and setting a chair, with her eyes wandering back by a kind of fascination to those of the stranger; "be pleased to take a seat, sir."

The stranger sat down for a moment, and then stood up again. Then he seemed to remember that he still wore his hat, and removed it, holding it stiffly before him in his gloved hands. This displayed a high, narrow head, on which the natural hair was worn short and without parting, and a face which, though worn, was not old. And, for no definable reason, an impression stole over the windmiller's wife that he, like her husband, had some wish to conciliate, which in his case struggled hard with a very different kind of feeling, more natural to him.

Then he took out a watch of what would now be called the old turnip shape, and said impatiently to the miller, "Our time is short, my good man."

"To be sure, sir," said the windmiller. "Missus! a word with you here." And he led the way into the round-house, where his wife followed, wondering. Her wonder was not lessened when he laid his hand upon her shoulder, and, with flushed cheek and a tone of excitement that once more recalled the Foresters' annual meeting, said, "We've had some sore times, missus, of late, but good luck have come our way to-night."

"And how then, maester?" faltered his wife.

"That child," said the windmiller, turning his broad thumb expressively towards the inner room, "belongs to folk that want to get a home for un, and can afford to pay for un, too. And the place being healthy and out of the way, and having heard of our trouble, and you just bereaved of a little un" -

"No! no! no!" shrieked the poor mother, who now understood all. "I COULDN'T, maester, 'tis unpossible, I could NOT. Oh dear! oh dear! isn't it bad enough to lose the sweetest child that ever saw light, without taking in an outcast to fill that dear angel's place? Oh dear! oh dear!"

"And we behindhand in more quarters than one," continued the miller, prudently ignoring his wife's tears and remonstrances, "and a dear season coming on, and an uncertain trade that keeps a man idle by days together, and here's ten shillings a week dropped into our laps, so to speak. Ten shillings a week—regular and sartin. No less now, and no more hereafter, the governor said. Them were his words."

"What's ten shilling a week to me, and my child dead and gone?" moaned the mother, in reply.

"WHAT'S TEN SHILLINGS A WEEK TO YOU?" cried the windmiller, who was fairly exasperated, in tones so loud that they were audible in the dwelling room, where the stranger, standing by the three-legged table, stroked his lips twice or thrice with his hand, as if to smooth out a cynical smile which strove to disturb their decorous and somewhat haughty compression. "What's ten shilling a week to you? Why, it's food to you, and drink to you, and firing to you, and boots for the children's feet. Look here, my woman. You've had a sore affliction, but that's not to say you're to throw good luck in the dirt for a whimsey. This matter's settled."

And the miller strode back into the inner room, whilst his wife sat upon a sack of barley, wringing her hands, and moaning, "I couldn't do my duty by un, maester, I couldn't do my duty by un."

This she repeated at intervals, with her apron over her face, as before; and then, suddenly aware that her husband had left her, she hurried into the inner room to plead her own cause. It was too late. The strangers had gone. The miller was not there, and the baby lay on the end of the press bedstead, wailing as bitterly as the mother herself.

It had been placed there, with a big bundle of clothes by it, before the miller came back, and he had found it so. He found the stranger too, with his hat on his head, and his cloak fastened, glancing from time to time at the child, and then withdrawing his glance hastily, and looking forcedly round at the meagre furnishing of the miller's room, and then back at the little bundle on the bed, and away again. The woman stood with her back to the press-bed, her striped shawl drawn tightly round her, and her hands folded together as closely as her long lip pressed the heavy one below.

"Is it settled?" asked the man.

"It is, sir," said the miller. "You'll excuse my missus being as she is, but it's fretting for the child we've a lost" -

"I understand, I understand," said the stranger, hastily. He was pulling back the rings of a silk netted purse, which he had drawn mechanically from his pocket, and which, from some sudden start of his, fell chinking on to the floor. Whatever the thought was which startled him, he thought it so sharply that he looked up in fear that he had said it aloud. But he had not spoken, and the miller had no other expression than that of an eager satisfaction on his face as the stranger counted out the gold by the flaring light of the tallow candle.

"A quarter's pay in advance," he said briefly. "It will be paid quarterly, you understand." After which, and checking himself in a look towards the child, he went out, followed by the woman.

In the round-house he paused however, and looked back into the meagre, dimly lighted room, where the little bundle upon the bed lay weeping. For a moment, a storm of irresolution seemed to seize him, and then muttering, "It can't be helped for the present, it can't be helped," he hurried towards the vehicle, in the back seat of which the woman was already seated.

The driver touched his hat to him as he approached, and turned the cushion, which he had been protecting from the rain. The stranger stumbled over the cloak as he got in, and, cursing the step, bade the man drive like something which had no connection with driving. But, as they turned, the windmiller ran out and after them.

"Stop, sir!" he cried.

"Well, what now?" said the stranger, sharply, as the horse was pulled back on his haunches.

"Is it named?" gasped the miller.

"Oh, yes, all that sort of thing," was the impatient reply.

"And what name?" asked the miller.

"Jan. J, A, N," said the stranger, shouting against the blustering wind.

"And—and—the other name?" said the windmiller, who was now standing close to the stranger's ear.

"What is yours?" he asked, with a sharp look of his dark eyes.

"Lake—Abel," said the windmiller.

"It is his also, henceforth," said the stranger, waving his hand, as if to close the subject,—"Jan Lake. Drive on, will you?"

The horse started forward, and they whirled away down the wet, gray road. And before the miller had regained his mill, the carriage was a distant speck upon the storm.


The windmiller went back to his work. He had risked something over this business in leaving the mill in the hands of others, even for so short a time. Then the storm abated somewhat. The wind went round, and blew with less violence a fine steady breeze. The miller began to think of going into the dwelling-room for a bit of supper to carry him through his night's work. And yet he lingered about returning to his wife in her present mood.

He stuck the sharp point of his windmiller's candlestick {1} into a sack that stood near, and drawing up a yellow canvas "sample bag "— which served him as a purse—from the depths of his pocket, he began to count the coins by the light of the candle. He counted them over several times with increasing satisfaction, and made several slow but sure calculations as to the sum of ten shillings a week by the month, the quarter, the half, and the whole year. He then began another set of calculations of a kind less pleasant, especially to an honest man,—his debts.

"There's a good bit to the doctor for both times," he murmured; "and there's the coffin, and something at the Heart of Oak for the bearers, and a couple of bottles red wine there, too, for the missus, when she were so bad. And both the boys had new shoes to follow in,—she would have it they should follow"— And so on, and so on, the windmiller ran up the list of his petty debts, and saw his way to paying them. Then he put the money back into the sample bag, and folded it very neatly, and stowed it away. And then he drew near the inner door, and peeped into the room.

His poor wife seemed to be in no better case than before. She sat on the old rocking-chair, swinging backwards and forwards, and beating her hands upon her knees in silence, and making no movement to comfort the wailing little creature on the bed.

For the first time there came upon the windmiller a sense of the fact that it is an uncertain and a rather dangerous game to drive a desperate woman into a corner. His missus was as soft-hearted a soul as ever lived, and for her to sit unmoved by the weeping of a neglected child was a proof that something was very far wrong indeed. One or two nasty stories of what tender-hearted women had done when "crazed" by grief haunted him. The gold seemed to grow hot at the bottom of his pocket. He wished he had got at the stranger's name and address, in case it should be desirable to annul the bargain. He wished the missus would cry again, that silence was worse than any thing. He wished it did not just happen to come into his head that her grandmother went "melancholy mad" when she was left a young widow, and that she had had an uncle in business who died of softening of the brain.

He wished she would move across the room and take up the child, with an intensity that almost amounted to prayer. And, in the votive spirit which generally comes with such moments, he mentally resolved that, if his missus would but "take to" the infant, he would humor her on all other points just now to the best of his power.

A strange fulfilment often treads on the heels of such vows. At this moment the wailing of the baby disturbed the miller's eldest son as he lay in the press-bed. He was only seven years old, but he had been nurse-boy to his dead sister during the brief period of her health,—the more exclusively so, that the miller's wife was then weakly,—and had watched by her sick cradle with a grief scarcely less than that of the mother. He now crept out and down the coverlet to the wailing heap of clothes, with a bright, puzzled look on his chubby face.

"Mother," he said, "mother! Is the little un come back?"

"No, no!" she cried. "That's not our'n. It's—it's another one."

"Have the Lord sent us another?" said the boy, lifting the peak of the little hood from the baby's eye, into which it was hanging, and then fairly gathering the tiny creature, by a great effort, into his arms, with the daring of a child accustomed to playing nurse to one nearly as heavy as himself. "I do be glad of that, mother. The Lord sent the other one in the night, too, mother; that night we slept in the round-house. Do 'ee mind? Whishty, whishty, love! Eh, mother, what eyes! Whishty, whishty, then! I'M seeing to thee, I am."

There was something like a sob in the miller's own throat, but his wife rose, and, running to the bed, fell on her knees, and with such a burst of weeping as is the thaw of bitter grief gathered her eldest child and the little outcast together to her bosom.

At this moment another head was poked up from the bedclothes, and the second child began to say its say, hoping, perhaps, thereby to get a share of attention and kisses as well as the other.

"I seed a lady and genle'm," it broke forth, "and was feared of un. They was going out of doors. The genle'm look back at us, but the lady went right on. I didn' see her face."

Matters were now in a domestic and straightforward condition, and the windmiller no longer hesitated to come in. But he was less disposed to a hard and triumphant self-satisfaction than was common with him when his will ended well. A poor and unsuccessful career had, indeed, something to do with the hardness of his nature, and in this flush of prosperity he felt softened, and resolved inwardly to "let the missus take her time," and come back to her ordinary condition without interference.

"Shall un have a bit of supper, missus?" was his cheerful greeting on coming in. "But take your time," he added, seeing her busy with the baby, "take your time."

By-and-by the nurse-boy took the child, and the woman bustled about the supper. She was still but half reconciled, and slapped the plates on to the table with a very uncommon irritability.

The windmiller ate a hearty supper and washed it well down with home-made ale, under the satisfactory feeling that he could pay for more when he wanted it. And as he began to plug his pipe with tobacco, and his wife rocked the new-comer at her breast, he said thoughtfully, -

"Do 'ee think, missus, that woman 'ud be the mother of un?"

"Mother!" cried his wife, scornfully. "She've never been a mother, maester; of this nor any other one. To see her handle it was enough for me. The boy himself could see she never so much as looked back at un. To bring an infant out a night like this, too, and leave it with strangers. Mother, indeed, says he!"

"Take your time, missus, take your time!" murmured the miller in his head. He did not speak aloud, he only puffed his pipe.

"Do you suppose the genle'm be the father, missus?" he suggested, as he rose to go back to his work.

"Maybe," said his wife, briefly; "I can't speak one way or another to the feelings of men-folk."

This blow was hit straight out, but the windmiller forbore reply. He was not altogether ill-pleased by it, for the woman's unwonted peevishness broke down in new tears over the child, whom she bore away to bed, pouring forth over it half inarticulate indignation against its unnatural parents.

"She've a soft heart, have the missus," said the windmiller, thoughtfully, as he went to the outer door. "I'm in doubts if she won't take to it more than her own yet. But she shall have her own time."

The storm had passed. The wolds lay glistening and dreary under a watery sky, but all was still. The windmiller looked upwards mechanically. To be weatherwise was part of his trade. But his thoughts were not in the clouds to-night. He brought the sample bag, without thinking of it, to the surface of his pocket, and dropped it slowly back again, murmuring, "Ten shilling a week."

And as he turned again to his night's work he added, with a nod of complete conviction, "It'll more'n keep HE."



Strange to say, the windmiller's idea came true in time,—the foster-child was the favorite.

He was the youngest of the family, for the mother had no more children. This goes for something.

Then, when she had once got over her repugnance to adopting him, he did do much to heal the old grief, and to fill the empty place in her heart as well as in the cradle.

He was a frail, fretful little creature, with a very red face just fading into yellow, about as much golden down on his little pate as would furnish a moth with plumage, and eyes like sloe-berries. It was fortunate rather than otherwise that he was so ailing for some weeks that the good wife's anxieties came over again, and, in the triumph of being this time successful, much of the bitterness of the old loss passed away.

In a month's time he looked healthy, if not absolutely handsome. The windmiller's wife, indeed, protested that he was lovely, and she never wearied of marvelling at the unnatural conduct of those who had found it in their hearts to intrust so sweet a child to the care of strangers; though it must be confessed that nothing would have pleased her less than the arrival of two doting and conscientious parents to reclaim him.

Indeed, pity had much to do with the large measure of love that she gave to the deserted child. A meaner sentiment, too, was not quite without its influence in the predominance which he gradually gained over his foster brothers and sisters. There was little enough to be proud of in all that could be guessed as to his parentage (the windmiller knew nothing), but there was scope for any amount of fancy; and if the child displayed any better manners or talents than the other children, Mrs. Lake would purse her lips, and say, with a somewhat shabby pride, -

"Anybody may see 'tis gentry born."

"I've been thinking," said the windmiller, one day, "that if that there woman weren't the mother, 'tis likely the mother's dead."

"'Tis likely, too," said his wife; and her kindness abounded the more towards the motherless child. Little Abel was nurse-boy to it, as he had been to his sister. Not much more than a baby himself, he would wrap an old shawl round the baby who was quite a baby, stagger carefully out at the door, and drop dexterously—baby uppermost—on to the short, dry grass that lay for miles about the mill.

The shawl was a special shawl, though old. It was red, and the bright color seemed to take the child's fancy; he was never so good as when playing upon the gay old rag. His black eyes would sparkle, and his tiny fingers clutch at it, when the mother put it about him as he swayed in Abel's courageous grasp. And then Abel would spread it for him, like an eastern prayer carpet, under the shadow of the old mill.

Little need had he of any medicine, when the fresh strong air that blew about the downs was filling his little lungs for most of the day. Little did he want toys, as he lay on his red shawl gazing upwards hour by hour, with Abel to point out every change in their vast field of view.

It is a part of a windmiller's trade to study the heavens, and Abel may have inherited a taste for looking skywards. Then, on these great open downs there is so much sky to be seen, you can hardly help seeing it, and there is not much else to look at. Had they lived in a village street, or even a lane, Abel and his charge might have taken to other amusements,—to games, to grubbing in hedges, or amid the endless treasures of ditches. But as it was, they lay hour after hour and looked at the sky, as at an open picture-book with ever-changing leaves.

"Look 'ee here!" the nurse-boy would cry. "See to the crows, the pretty black crows! Eh, there be a lapwing! Lap-py, lap-py, lap- py, there he go! Janny catch un!"

And the baby would stretch his arms responsive to Abel's expressive signs, and cry aloud for the vanishing bird.

If no living creature crossed the ether, there were the clouds. Sometimes a long triangular mass of small white fleecy clouds would stretch across half the heavens, having its shortest side upon the horizon, and its point at the zenith, where one white fleece seemed to be leading a gradually widening flock across the sky.

"See then!" the nurse-boy would cry. "See to the pretty sheep up yonder! Janny mind un! So! so!"

And if some small gray scud, floating lower, ran past the far-away cirrus, Abel would add with a quaint seriousness, "'Tis the sheep- dog. How he runs then! Bow-wow!"

At sunset such a flock wore golden fleeces, and to them, and to the crimson hues about them, the little Jan stretched his fingers, and crowed, as if he would have clutched the western sky as he clutched his own red shawl.

But Abel was better pleased when, in the dusk, the flock became dark gray.

"They be Master Salter's pigs now," said he. For pigs in Abel's native place were both plentiful and black; and he had herded Master Salter's flock (five and twenty black, and three spotted) for a whole month before his services were required as nurse-boy to his sister.

But for the coming of the new baby, he would probably have gone back to the pigs. And he preferred babies. A baby demands attention as well as a herd of pigs, but you can get it home. It does not run off in twenty-eight different directions, just when you think you have safely turned the corner into the village.

Master Salter's swine suffered neglect at the hands of several successors to the office Abel had held, and Master Salter—whilst alluding to these in indignant terms as "young varments," "gallus- birds," and so forth—was pleased to express his regret that the gentle and trustworthy Abel had given up pig-minding for nursing.

The pigs' loss was the baby's gain. No tenderer or more careful nurse could the little Jan have had. And he throve apace.

The windmiller took more notice of him than he had been wont to do of his own children in their babyhood. He had never been a playful or indulgent father, but he now watched with considerable interest the child who, all unconsciously, was bringing in so much "grist to the mill."

When the weather was not fine enough for them to be out of doors, Abel would play with his charge in the round-house, and the windmiller never drove him out of the mill, as at one time he would have done. Now and then, too, he would pat the little Jan's head, and bestow a word of praise on his careful guardian.

It may be well, by-the-by, to explain what a round-house is. Some of the brick or tower mills widen gradually and evenly to the base. Others widen abruptly at the lowest story, which stands out all round at the bottom of the mill, and has a roof running all round too. The projection is, in fact, an additional passage, encircling the bottom story of the windmill. It is the round-house. If you take a pill-box to represent the basement floor of a tower-mill, and then put another pill-box two or three sizes larger over it, you have got the circular passage between the two boxes, and have added a round-house to the mill. The round-house is commonly used as a kind of store-room.

Abel Lake's windmill had no separate dwelling-house. His grandfather had built the windmill, and even his father had left it to the son to add a dwelling-house, when he should perhaps have extended his resources by a bit of farming or some other business, such as windmillers often add to their trade proper. But that calamity of the broken sails had left Abel Lake no power for further outlay for many years, and he had to be content to live in the mill.

The dwelling-room was the inner part of the basement floor. Near the door which led from this into the round-house was the ladder leading to the next story, and close by that the opening through which the sacks of grain were drawn up above. The story above the basement held the millstones and the "smutting" machine, for cleaning dirty wheat. The next above that held the dressing machine, in which the bran was separated from the flour. In the next above that were the corn-bins. To the next above that the grain was drawn up from the basement in the first instance. The top story of all held the machinery connected with the turning of the sails. Ladders led from story to story, and each room had two windows on opposite sides of the mill.

Use is second nature, and all the sounds which haunt a windmill were soon as familiar and as pleasant to the little Jan as if he had been born a windmiller's son. Through many a windy night he slept as soundly as a sailor in a breeze which might disturb the nerves of a land-lubber. And when the north wind blew keen and steadily, and the chains jangled as the sacks of grist went upwards, and the millstones ground their monotonous music above his head, these sounds were only as a lullaby to his slumbers, and disturbed him no more than they troubled his foster-mother, to whom the revolving stones ground out a homely and welcome measure: "Dai-ly bread, dai- ly bread, dai-ly bread."

For another sign of his being a true child of the mill, his nurse Abel anxiously watched.

Though Abel preferred nursing to pig-minding, he had a higher ambition yet, which was to begin his career as a windmiller. It was not likely that he could be of use to his father for a year or two, and the fact that he was of very great use to his mother naturally tended to delay his promotion to the mill.

Mrs. Lake was never allowed to say no to her husband, and she seemed to be unable, and was certainly unwilling, to say it to her children. Happily, her eldest child was of so sweet and docile a temper that spoiling did him little harm; but even with him her inability to say no got the mother into difficulties. She was obliged to invent excuses to "fub off," when she could neither consent nor refuse.

So, when Abel used to cling about her, crying, "Mother dear, when'll I be put t'help father in the mill? Do 'ee ask un to let me come in now! I be able to sweep 's well as Gearge. I sweeps the room for thee,"—she had not the heart or the courage to say, "I want thee, and thy father doesn't," but she would take the boy's hand tenderly in hers, and making believe to examine his thumbs with a purpose, would reply, "Wait a bit, love. Thee's a sprack boy, and a good un, but thee's not rightly got the miller's thumb."

And thus it came about that Abel was for ever sifting bits of flour through his finger and thumb, to obtain the required flatness and delicacy which marks the latter in a miller born; and playing lovingly with little Jan on the floor of the round-house, he would pass some through the baby's fingers also, crying, -

"Sift un, Janny! sift un! Thee's a miller's lad, and thee must have a miller's thumb."



It was a great and important time to Abel when Jan learned to walk; but, as he was neither precocious nor behindhand in this respect, his biographer may be pardoned for not dwelling on it at any length.

He had a charming demure little face, chiefly differing from the faces of the other children of the district by an overwhelming superiority in the matter of forehead.

Mrs. Lake had had great hopes that he would differ in another respect also.

Most of the children of the neighborhood were fair. Not fair as so many North-country children are, with locks of differing, but equally brilliant, shades of gold, auburn, red, and bronze; but white-headed, and often white-faced, with white-lashed inexpressive eyes, as if they had been bleaching through several generations.

Now, when the dark bright eyes of the little Jan first came to be of tender interest with Mrs. Lake, she fully hoped, and constantly prophesied, that he would be "as black as a rook;" a style of complexion to which she gave a distinct preference, though the miller was fair by nature as well as white by trade. Jan's eyes seemed conclusive.

"Black as slans they be," said his foster-mother. And slans meant sloe-berries where Mrs. Lake was born.

An old local saying had something perhaps to do with her views: -

"Lang and lazy, Black and proud; Vair and voolish, Little and loud."

"Fair and foolish" youngsters certainly abounded in the neighborhood to an extent which justified a wish for a change.

As to pride, meek Mrs. Lake was far from regarding it as a failing in those who had any thing to be proud of, such as black hair and a possible connection with the gentry. And fate having denied to her any chance of being proud or aggressive on her own account, she derived a curious sort of second-hand satisfaction from seeing these qualities in those who belonged to her. It did to some extent console her for the miller's roughness to herself, to hear him rating George. And she got a sort of reflected dignity out of being able to say, "My maester's a man as will have his way."

But her hopes were not realized. That yellow into which the beefsteak stage of Jan's infant complexion had faded was not destined to deepen into gipsy hues. It gave place to the tints of the China rose, and all the wind and sunshine on the downs could not tan, though they sometimes burnt, his cheeks. The hair on his little head became more abundant, but it kept its golden hue. His eyes remained dark,—a curious mixture; for as to hair and complexion he was irredeemably fair.

The mill had at least one "vair and voolish" inmate, by common account, though by his own (given in confidence to intimate friends) he was "not zuch a vool as he looked."

This was George Sannel, the miller's man.

Master Lake had had a second hand in to help on that stormy night when Jan made his first appearance at the mill; but as a rule he only kept one man, whom he hired for a year at a time, at the mop or hiring fair held yearly in the next town.

George, or Gearge as he was commonly called, had been more than two years in the windmill, and was looked upon in all respects as "one of the family." He slept on a truckle-bed in the round-house, which, though of average size, would not permit him to stretch his legs too recklessly without exposing his feet to the cold.

For "Gearge" was six feet one and three-quarters in his stockings.

He had a face in some respects like a big baby's. He had a turn-up nose, large smooth cheeks, a particularly innocent expression, a forehead hardly worth naming, small dull eyes, with a tendency to inflammation of the lids which may possibly have hindered the lashes from growing, and a mouth which was generally open, if he were neither eating nor sucking a "bennet." When this countenance was bathed in flour, it might be an open question whether it were improved or no. It certainly looked both "vairer" and more "voolish!"

There is some evidence to show that he was "lazy," as well as "lang," and yet he and Master Lake contrived to pull on together.

Either because his character was as childlike as his face, and because—if stupid and slothful by nature—he was also of so submissive, susceptible, and willing a temper that he disarmed the justest wrath; or because he was, as he said, not such a fool as he looked, and had in his own lubberly way taken the measure of the masterful windmiller to a nicety, George's most flagrant acts of neglect had never yet secured his dismissal.

Indeed, it really is difficult to realize that any one who is lavish of willingness by word can wilfully and culpably fail in deed.

"I be a uncommon vool, maester, sartinly," blubbered George on one occasion when the miller was on the point of turning him off, as a preliminary step on the road to the "gallus," which Master Lake expressed his belief that he was "sartin sure to come to." And, as he spoke, George made dismal daubs on his befloured face with his sleeve, as he rubbed his eyes with his arm from elbow to wrist.

"Sech a governor as you be, too!" he continued. "Poor mother! she allus said I should come to no good, such a gawney as I be! No more I shouldn't but for you, Master Lake, a-keeping of me on. Give un another chance, sir, do 'ee! I be mortal stoopid, sir, but I'd work my fingers to the bwoan for the likes of you, Master Lake!"

George stayed on, and though the very next time the windmiller was absent his "voolish" assistant did not get so much as a toll-dish of corn ground to flour, he was so full of penitence and promises that he weathered that tempest and many a succeeding one.

On that very eventful night of the storm, and of Jan's arrival, George's neglect had risked a recurrence of the sail catastrophe. At least if the second man's report was to be trusted.

This man had complained to the windmiller that, during his absence with the strangers, George, instead of doubling his vigilance now that the men were left short-handed, had taken himself off under pretext of attending to the direction of the wind and the position of the sails outside, a most important matter, to which he had not, after all, paid the slightest heed; and what he did with himself, whilst leaving the mill to its fate and the fury of the storm, his indignant fellow-servant professed himself "blessed if he knew."

But few people are as grateful as they should be when informed of misconduct in their own servants. It is a reflection on one's judgment.

And unpardonable as George's conduct was, if the tale were true, the words in which he couched his self-defence were so much more grateful to the ears of the windmiller than the somewhat free and independent style in which the other man expressed his opinion of George's conduct and qualities, that the master took his servant's part, and snubbed the informer for his pains.

In justice to George, too, it should be said that he stoutly and repeatedly denied the whole story, with many oaths and imprecations of horrible calamities upon himself if he were lying in the smallest particular. And this with reiteration so steady, and a countenance so guileless and unmoved, as to contrast favorably with the face of the other man, whose voice trembled and whose forehead flushed, either with overwhelming indignation or with a guilty consciousness that he was bearing false witness.

Master Lake employed him no more, and George stayed on.

But, for that matter, Master Lake's disposition was not one which permitted him to profit by the best qualities of those connected with him. He was a bit of a tyrant, and more than one man, six times as clever, and ten times as hard-working as George, had gone when George would have stayed, from crossing words with the windmiller. The safety of the priceless sails, if all were true, had been risked by the man he kept, and secured by the man he sent away, but Master Lake was quite satisfied with his own decision.

"I bean't so fond myself of men as is so mortal sprack and fussy in a strange place," the miller observed to Mrs. Lake in reference to this matter.

Mrs. Lake had picked up several of her husband's bits of proverbial wisdom, which she often flattered him by retailing to his face.

"Too hot to hold, mostly," was her reply, in knowing tones.

"Ay, ay, missus, so a be," said the windmiller. And after a while he added, "Gearge is slow, sartinly, mortal slow; but Gearge is sure."



Of the strange gentleman who brought Jan to the windmill, the Lakes heard no more, but the money was paid regularly through a lawyer in London.

From this lawyer, indeed, Master Lake had heard immediately after the arrival of his foster-son.

The man of business wrote to say that the gentleman who had visited the mill on a certain night had, at that date, lost a pocket-book, which he thought might have been picked up at the mill. It contained papers only valuable to the owner, and also a five-pound note, which was liberally offered to the windmiller if he could find the book, and forward it at once.

Master Lake began to have a kind of reckless, gambling sort of feeling about luck. Here would be an easily earned five pounds, if he could but have the luck to find the missing property! That ten shillings a week had come pretty easily to him. When all is said, there ARE people into whose mouths the larks fall ready cooked!

The windmiller looked inside the mill and outside the mill, and wandered a long way along the chalky road with his eyes downwards, but he was no nearer to the five-pound note for his pains. Then he went to his wife, but she had seen nothing of the pocket-book; on which her husband somewhat unreasonably observed that, "A might a been zartin THEE couldn't help un!"

He next betook himself to George, who was slowly, and it is to be hoped surely, sweeping out the round-house.

"Gearge, my boy," said the windmiller, in not too anxious tones, "have 'ee seen a pocket-book lying about anywheres?"

George leaned upon his broom with one hand, and with the other scratched his white head.

"What be a pocket-book, then, Master Lake?" said he, grinning, as if at his own ignorance.

"Thee's eerd of a pocket-book before now, thee vool, sure-ly!" said the impatient windmiller.

"I'se eerd of a pocket of hops, Master Lake," said George, after an irritating pause, during which he still smiled, and scratched his poll as if to stimulate recollection.

"Book—book—book! pocket-BOOK!" shouted the miller. "If thee can't read, thee knows what a book is, thee gawney!"

"What a vool I be, to be sure!" said George, his simple countenance lighted up with a broader smile than before. "I knows a book, sartinly, Master Lake, I knows a book. There's one," George continued, speaking even slower than before,—"there's one inzide, sir,—a big un. On the shelf it be. A Vamly Bible they calls un. And I'm sartin sure it be there," he concluded, "for a hasn't been moved since the last time you christened, Master Lake."

The miller turned away, biting his lip hard, to repress a useless outburst of rage, and George, still smiling sweetly, spun the broom dexterously between his hands, as a man spins the water out of a stable mop. Just before Master Lake had got beyond earshot, George lowered the broom, and began to scratch his head once more. "I be a proper vool, sartinly," said he; and when the miller heard this, he turned back. "Mother allus said I'd no more sense in my yead than a dumbledore," George candidly confessed. And by a dumbledore he meant a humble-bee. "It do take me such a time to mind any thing, sir."

"Well, never mind, Gearge," said the miller; "if thee's slow, thee's sure. What do 'ee remember about the book, now, Gearge? A don't mind giving thee five shilling, if thee finds un, Gearge."

"A had un down at the burying, I 'member quite well now, sir. To put the little un's name in 'twas. I thowt a hadn't been down zince christening, I be so stoopid sartinly."

"What are you talking about, ye vool?" roared the miller.

"The book, sir, sartinly," said George, his honest face beaming with good-humor. "The Vamly Bible, Master Lake."

And as the windmiller went off muttering something which the Family Bible would by no means have sanctioned, George returned chuckling to a leisurely use of his broom on the round-house floor.

Master Lake did not find the pocket-book, and after a day or two it was advertised in a local paper, and a reward of five pounds offered for it.

George Sannel was seated one evening in the "Heart of Oak" inn, sipping some excellent home-brewed ale, which had been warmed up for his consumption in a curious funnel-shaped pipkin, when his long lop-ears caught a remark made by the inn-keeper, who was reading out bits from the local paper to a small audience, unable to read it for themselves.

"Five pound reward!" he read. "Lor massy! There be a sum to be easily earned by a sharp-eyed chap with good luck on 's side."

"And how then, Master Chuter?" said George, pausing, with the steaming mug half-way to his lips.

"Haw, haw!" roared the inn-keeper: "you be a sharp-eyed chap, too! Do 'ee think 'twould suit thee, Gearge? Thee's a sprack chap, sartinly, Gearge!"

"Haw, haw, haw!" roared the other members of the company, as they slowly realized Master Chuter's irony at the expense of the "voolish" Gearge.

George took their rough banter in excellent part. He sipped his beer, and grinned like a cat at his own expense. But after the guffaws had subsided, he said, "Thee's not told un about that five pound yet, Master Chuter."

The curiosity of the company was by this time aroused, and Master Chuter explained: "'Tis a gentleman by the name of Ford as is advertising for a pocket-book, a seems to have lost on the downs, near to Master Lake's windmill. 'Tis thy way, too, Gearge, after all. Thee must get up yarly, Gearge. 'Tis the yarly bird catches the worm. And tell Master Lake from me, 'll have all the young varments in the place a driving their pigs up to his mill, to look for the pocket-book, while they makes believe to be minding their pigs."

"Tis likely, too," said George. And the two or three very aged laborers in smocks, and one other lubberly boy, who composed the rest of the circle, added, severally and collectively, "'Tis likely, too."

But, as George beat his way home over the downs in the dusk, he said aloud, under cover of the roaring wind, and in all the security of the open country, -

"Vive pound! vive pound! And a offered me vive shilling for un. Master Lake, you be dog-ged cute; but Gearge bean't quite such a vool as a looks."

After a short time the advertisement was withdrawn.



One day George Sannel asked and obtained leave for a holiday.

On the morning in question, he dressed himself in the cleanest of smocks, greased his boots, stuck a bloody warrior, or dark-colored wallflower, in his bosom, put a neatly folded, clean cotton handkerchief into his pocket,—which, even if he did not use it, was a piece of striking dandyism,—and scrubbed his honest face to such a point of cleanliness that Mrs. Lake was almost constrained to remark that she thought he must be going courting.

George did not blush,—he never blushed,—but he looked "voolish" enough to warrant the suspicion that his errand was a tender one, and he had no other reason to give for his spruce appearance

It was, perhaps, in his confusion that he managed to convey a mistaken notion of the place to which he was going to Mrs. Lake. She was under the impression that he went to the neighboring town, whereas he went to one in an exactly opposite direction, and some miles farther away.

He went to the bank, too, which seems an unlikely place for tender tryst; but George's proceedings were apt to be less direct than the simplicity of his looks and speech would have led a stranger to suppose. When he reached home, the windmiller and his family were going to bed, for the night was still, and the mill idle. George betook himself at once to where his truckle-bed stood in the round- house, and proceeded to light his mill-candlestick, which was stuck into the wall.

From the chink into which it was stuck he then counted seven bricks downwards, and the seventh yielded to a slight effort and came out. It was the door, so to speak, of a hole in the wall of the mill, from which he drew a morocco-bound pocket-book. After an uneasy glance over his shoulder, to make sure that the long dark shadow which stretched from his own heels, and shifted with the draught in which the candle flared, was not the windmiller creeping up behind him, he took a letter out of the book and held it to the light as if to read it. But he never turned the page, and at last replaced it with a sigh. Then he put the pocket-book back into the hole, and pushed in after it his handkerchief, which was tied round something which chinked as he pressed it in. Then he replaced the brick, and went to bed. He said nothing about the bank in the morning nor about the hole in the mill-wall; and he parried Mrs. Lake's questions with gawky grins and well-assumed bashfulness.

Abel overheard his mother's jokes on the subject of "Gearge's young 'ooman," and they recurred to him when he and George formed a curious alliance, which demands explanation.

It was not solely because the windmiller looked favorably upon the little Jan that he and Abel were now allowed to wander in the business parts of the windmill, when they could not be out of doors, to an extent never before permitted to the children. Part of the change was due to a change in the miller's man.

However childlike in some respects himself, George was not fond of children, and he had hitherto seemed to have a particular spite against Abel. He, quite as often as the miller, would drive the boy from the round-house, and thwart his fancy for climbing the ladders to see the processes of the different floors.

Abel would have been happy for hours together watching the great stones grind, or the corn poured by golden showers into the hopper on its way to the stones below. Many a time had he crept up and hidden himself behind a sack; but George seemed to have an impish ingenuity in discovering his hiding-places, and would drive him out as a dog worries a cat, crying, "Come out, thee little varment! Master Lake he don't allow thee hereabouts."

The cleverness of the miller's man in discovering poor Abel's retreats probably arose from the fact that he had so rooted a dislike for the routine work of his daily duties that he would rather employ himself about the mill in any way than by attending to the mill-business, and that his idleness and stupidity over work were only equalled by his industry and shrewdness in mischief.

Poor Abel had a dread of the great, gawky, mischievous-looking man, which probably prevented his complaining to his mother of many a sly pinch and buffet which he endured from him. And George took some pains to keep up this wholesome awe of himself, by vague and terrifying speeches, and by a trick of what he called "dropping on" poor Abel in the dusk, with hideous grimaces and uncouth sounds.

He once came thus upon Abel in an upper floor, and the boy fled from him so hastily that he caught his foot in the ladder and fell headlong. Though it must have been quite uncertain for some moments whether Abel had not broken his neck, the miller's man displayed no anxiety. He only clapped his hands upon his knees, in a sort of uncouth ecstasy of spite, saying, "Down a comes vlump, like a twoad from roost. Haw, haw, haw!"

Happily, Abel fell with little more damage to himself than the mill- cats experienced in many such a tumble, as they fled before the tormenting George.

But, after all this, it was with no small surprise that Abel found himself the object of attentions from the miller's man, which bore the look of friendliness.

At first, when George made civil speeches, and invited Abel to "see the stwones a-grinding," he only felt an additional terror, being convinced that mischief was meant in reality. But, when days and weeks went by, and he wandered unmolested from floor to floor, with many a kindly word from George, and not a single cuff or nip, the sweet-tempered Abel began to feel gratitude, and almost an affection, for his quondam tormentor.

George, for his part, had hitherto done some violence to his own feelings by his constant refusal to allow Abel to help him to sweep the mill or couple the sacks for lifting. He would have been only too glad to put some of his own work on the shoulders of another, had it not been for the vexatious thought that he would be giving pleasure by so doing where he only wanted to annoy. And in his very unamiable disposition malice was a stronger quality even than idleness.

But now, when for some reason best known to himself, he wished to win Abel's regard, it was a slight recompense to him for restraining his love of tormenting that he got a good deal of work out of Abel at odd moments when the miller was away. So well did he manage this, that a marked improvement in the tidiness of the round-house drew some praise from his master.

"Thee'll be a sprack man yet, Gearge," said the windmiller, encouragingly. "Thee takes the broom into the corners now."

"So I do," said George, unblushingly, "so I do. But lor, Master Lake, what a man you be to notice un!" George's kinder demeanor towards Abel began shortly after the coming of the little Jan, and George himself accounted for it in the following manner: -

"You do be kind to me now, Gearge," said Abel, gratefully, as he stood one day, with the baby in his arms, watching the miller's man emptying a sack of grain into the hopper.

"I likes to see thee with that babby, Abel," said George, pausing in his work. "Thee's a good boy, Abel, and careful. I likes to do any thing for thee, Abel."

"I wish I could do any thing for thee, Gearge," said Abel; "but I be too small to help the likes of you, Gearge."

"If you're small, you're sprack," said the miller's man. "Thee's a good scholar, too, Abel. I'll be bound thee can read, now? And a poor gawney like I doesn't know's letters."

"I can read a bit, Gearge," said Abel, with pride; "but I've been at home a goodish while; but mother says she'll send I to school again in spring, if the little un gets on well and walks."

"I wish I could read," said George, mournfully; "but time's past for me to go to school, Abel; and who'd teach a great lummakin vool like I his letters?"

"I would, Gearge, I would!" cried Abel, his eyes sparkling with earnestness. "I can teach thee thy letters, and by the time thee's learned all I know, maybe I'll have been to school again, and learned some more."

This was the foundation of a curious kind of friendship between Abel and the miller's man.

On the same shelf with the "Vamly Bible," before alluded to, was a real old horn-book, which had belonged to the windmiller's grandmother. It was simply a sheet on which the letters of the alphabet, and some few words of one syllable, were printed, and it was protected in its frame by a transparent front of thin horn, through which the letters could be read, just as one sees the prints through the ground-glass of "drawing slates."

From this horn-book Abel labored patiently in teaching George his letters. It was no light task. George had all the cunning and shrewdness with which he credited himself; but a denser head for any intellectual effort could hardly have been found for the seeking. Still they struggled on, and as George went about the mill he might have been heard muttering, -

"A B C G. No! Cuss me for a vool! A B C D. Why didn't they whop my letters into I when a was a boy? A B C"—and so persevering with an industry which he commonly kept for works of mischief.

One evening he brought home a newspaper from the Heart of Oak, and when Mrs. Lake had taken the baby, he persuaded Abel to come into the round-house and give him a lesson. Abel could read so much of it that George was quite overwhelmed by his learning.

"Thee be's mortal larned, Abel, sartinly. But I'll never read like thee," he added, despairingly. "Drattle th' old witch; why didn't she give I some schooling?" He spoke with spiteful emphasis, and Abel, too well used to his rough language to notice the uncivil reference to his mother, said with some compassion, -

"Were you never sent to school then, Gearge?"

"They should ha' kept me there," said George, self-defensively. "I played moocher," he continued,—by which he meant truant,—"and then they whopped I, and a went home to mother, and she kept un at home, the old vool!"

"Well, Gearge, thee must work hard, and I'll teach thee, Gearge, I'll teach thee!" said little Abel, proudly. "And by-and-by, Gearge, we'll get a slate, and I'll teach thee to write too, Gearge, that I will!"

George's small eyes gave a slight squint, as they were apt to do when he was thinking profoundly.

"Abel," said he, "can thee read writing, my boy?"

"I think I could, Gearge," said Abel, "if 'twas pretty plain."

"Abel, my boy," said George, after a pause, with a broad sweet smile upon his "voolish" face, "go to the door and see if the wind be rising at all; us mustn't forget th' old mill, Abel, with us larning. Sartinly not, Abel, mun."

Proud of the implied partnership in the care of the mill, Abel hastened to the outer door. As he passed the inner one, leading into the dwelling-room, he could hear his mother crooning a strange, drony, old local ditty, as she put the little Jan to sleep. As Abel went out, she was singing the first verse: -

"The swallow twitters on the barn, The rook is cawing on the tree, And in the wood the ringdove coos, But my false love hath fled from me."

Abel opened the door, and looked out. One of those small white moths known as "millers" went past him. The night was still,—so utterly still that no sound of any sort whatever broke upon the ear. In dead silence and loneliness stood the mill. Even the miller-moth had gone; and a cat ran in by Abel's legs, as if the loneliness without were too much for her. The sky was gray.

Abel went back to the round-house, where George was struggling to fix the candlestick securely in the wall.

"Cuss the thing!" he exclaimed, whilst the skin of his face took a mottled hue that was the nearest approach he ever made to a blush. "The tallow've been a dropping, Abel, my boy. I think 'twas the wind when you opened the door, maybe. And I've been a trying to fix un more firmly. That's all, Abel; that's all."

"There ain't no signs of wind," said Abel. "It's main quiet and unked too outside, Gearge. And I do think it be like rain. There was a miller-moth, Gearge; do that mean any thing?"

"I can't say," said George. "I bean't weatherwise myself, Abel. But if there be no wind, there be no work, Abel; so us may go back to our larning. Look here, my boy," he added, as Abel reseated himself on the grain-sack which did duty as chair of instruction, and drawing, as he spoke, a letter forth to the light; "come to the candle, Abel, and see if so be thee can read this, but don't tell any one I showed it thee, Abel."

"Not me, Gearge," said Abel, warmly; and he added,—"Be it from thy young 'ooman, Gearge?"

No rustic swain ever simpered more consciously or looked more foolish than George under this accusation, as he said, "Be quiet, Abel, do 'ee."

"She be a good scholar, too!" said Abel, looking admiringly at the closely written sheet.

George could hardly disguise the sudden look of fury in his face, but he hastily covered up the letter with his hands in such a manner as only to leave the first word on the page visible. There was a deeply cunning reason for this clever manoeuvre. George held himself to be pretty "cute," and he reckoned that, by only showing one word at a time, he could effectually prevent any attempt on Abel's part to read the letter himself without giving its contents to George. Like many other cunning people, George overreached himself. The first word was beyond Abel's powers, though he might possibly have satisfied George's curiosity on one essential point, by deciphering a name or two farther on. But the clever George concluded that he had boasted beyond his ability, so he put the letter away. Abel tried hard at the one word which George exhibited, and gazed silently at it for some time with a puzzled face. "Spell it, mun, spell it!" cried the miller's man, impatiently. It was a process which he had seen to succeed, when a long word had puzzled his teacher in the newspaper, before now.

"M O E R, mower; D Y K, dik," said Abel. But he looked none the wiser for the effort.

"Mower dik! What be that?" said George, peering at the word. "Do'ee think it be Mower dik, Abel?"

"I be sure," said Abel.

"Or do 'ee think 'tis 'My dear Dick'?" suggested George, anxiously, and with a sort of triumph in his tone, as if that were quite what he expected.

"No, no. 'Tis an O, Gearge, that second letter. Besides, twould be My dear Gearge to thee, thou knows."

Again the look with which the miller's man favored Abel was far from pleasant. But he controlled his voice to its ordinary drawl (always a little slower and more simple sounding, when he specially meant mischief).

"So 'twould, Abel. So 'twould. What a vool I be, to be sure! But give it to I now. We'll look at it another time, Abel."

"I be very sorry, Gearge," said Abel, who had a consciousness that the miller's man was ill-pleased in spite of his civility. "It be so long since I was at school, and it be such a queer word. Do 'ee think she can have spelt un wrong, Gearge?"

"'Tis likely she have," said George, regaining his composure.

"Abel! Abel! Abel!" cried the mother from the dwelling-room. "Come to bed, child!"

"Good-night, Gearge. I'm main sorry to be so stupid, Gearge," said Abel, and off he ran.

Mrs. Lake was walking up and down, rocking the little Jan in her arms, who was wailing fretfully.

"I be puzzled to know what ails un," said Mrs. Lake, in answer to Abel's questions. "He be quite in a way tonight. But get thee to bed, Abel."

And though Abel begged hard to be allowed to try his powers of soothing with the little Jan, Mrs. Lake insisted upon keeping the baby herself; and Abel undressed, and crept into the press-bed. He fell asleep in spite of a somewhat disturbed mind. That mysterious word and George's evident displeasure worried him, and he was troubled also by the unusual fretfulness of the little Jan, and the sound of sorrow in his baby wail. His last waking thoughts were a strange mixture, passing into stranger dreams.

The word Moerdyk danced before his eyes, but brought no meaning with it. Jan's cries troubled him, and with both there blended the droning of the ancient plaintive ditty, which the foster-mother sang over and over again as she rocked the child in her arms. That wail of the baby's must have in some strange manner recalled the first night of his arrival, when Abel found him wailing on the bed. For the fierce eyes of the strange gentleman haunted Abel's dreams, but in the face of the miller's man.

The poor boy dreamed horribly of being "dropped on" by George, with fierce black eyes added to the terrors of his uncouth grimaces. He seemed to himself to fly blindly and vainly through the mill from his tormentor, till George was driven from his thoughts by his coming suddenly upon the little Jan, wailing as he really did wail, round whose head a miller-moth was sailing slowly, and singing in a human voice: -

"The swallow twitters on the barn, The rook is cawing on the tree, And in the wood the ringdove coos, But my false love hath fled from me.

Like tiny pipe of wheaten straw, The wren his little note doth swell, And every living thing that flies, Of his true love doth fondly tell.

But I alone am left to pine, And sit beneath the withy tree; For truth and honesty be gone, And my false love hath fled from me."



Abel went to school again in the spring, and, though George would have been better pleased had he forgotten the whole affair, he remembered the word in George's young woman's love-letter which had puzzled him; and never was a spelling-lesson set him among the M's that he did not hope to come across it and to be able to demand the meaning of Moerdyk from his Dame.

Without the excuse of its coming in the column of spelling set by herself, Abel dared not ask her to solve his puzzle; for never did teacher more warmly resent questions which she was unable to answer than Dame Datchett.

Abel could not fully make up his mind whether it should be looked up among two-syllabled or three-syllabled words. He decided for the former, and one day brought his spelling-book to George in the round-house.

"I've been a looking for that yere word, Gearge," said he. "There's lots of Mo's, but it bean't among 'em. Here they be. Words of two syllables; M, Ma, Me, Mi; here they be, Mo." And Abel began to rattle off the familiar column at a good rate, George looking earnestly over his shoulder, and following the boy's finger as it moved rapidly down the page. "Mocking, Modern, Mohawk, Molar, Molly, Moment, Money, Moping, Moral, Mortal, Moses, Motive, Movement."

"Stop a bit, mun," cried George; "what do all they words mean? They bothers me."

"I knows some of 'em," said Abel, "and I asked Dame Datchett about the others, but she do be so cross; and I thinks some of 'em bothered she too. There's mocking. I knows that. 'What's a modern, Dame?' says I. 'A muddle-headed fellow the likes of you,' says she. 'What's a mohawk, Dame?' says I. 'It's what you'll come to before long, ye young hang-gallus,' says she. I was feared on her, Gearge, I can tell 'ee; but I tried my luck again. 'What's a molar, Dame?' says I. ''Tis a wus word than t'other,' says she; 'and, if 'ee axes me any more voolish questions, I'll break thee yead for 'ee.' Do 'ee think 'tis a very bad word, Gearge?" added Abel, with a rather indefensible curiosity.

"I never heard un," said George. And this was perhaps decisive against the Dame's statement. "And I don't believe un neither. I think it bothered she. I believe 'tis a genteel word for a man as catches oonts. They call oonts MOLES in some parts, so p'r'aps they calls a man as catches moles a molar, as they calls a man as drives a mill a miller."

"'Tis likely too, Gearge," said Abel. "Well! Molly we knows. And moment, and moping, and moral."

"What's moral?" inquired George.

"'Tis what they put at the end of Vables, Gearge. There's Vables at the end of the spelling-book, and I've read un all. There's the Wolf and the Lamb, and" -

"I knows now," said George. "'Tis like the last verse of that song about the Harnet and the Bittle. Go on, Abel."

"Mortal. That's swearing. Moses. That's in the Bible, Gearge. Motive. I thought I'd try un just once more. 'What's a motive, Dame?' says I. 'I've got un here,' says she, quite quiet-like. But I seed her feeling under 's chair, and I know'd 'twas for the strap, and I ran straight off, spelling-book and all, Gearge."

"So thee've been playing moocher, eh?" said George, with an unpleasant twinkle in his eyes. "What'll Master Lake say to that?"

"Don't 'ee tell un, Gearge!" Abel implored; "and, O Gearge! let I tell mother about the word. Maybe she've heard tell of it. Let I show her the letter, Gearge. She'll read it for 'ee. She's a scholard, is mother."

There was no mistaking now the wrath in George's face. The fury that is fed by fear blazes pretty strongly at all times.

"Look 'ee, Abel, my boy," said he, pinching Abel's shoulder till he turned red and white with pain. "If thee ever speaks of that letter and that word to any mortal soul, I'll tell Master Lake thee plays moocher, and I'll half kill thee myself. Thee shall rue the day ever thee was born!" he added, almost beside himself with rage and terror. And as, after a few propitiating words, Abel fled from the mill, George ground his hands together and muttered, "Motive! I wish the old witch had motived every bone in thee body, or let me do 't!"

Master George Sannel was indeed a little irritable at this stage of his career. Like the miller, he had had one stroke of good luck, but capricious fortune would not follow up the blow.

He had made five pounds pretty easily. But how to turn some other property of which he had become possessed to profit for himself was, after months of waiting, a puzzle still.

He was well aware that his own want of education was the great hindrance to his discovering for himself the exact worth of what he had got. And to his suspicious nature the idea of letting any one else into his secret, even to gain help, was quite intolerable.

Abel seemed to be no nearer even to the one word that George had showed him, after weeks of "schooling," and George himself progressed so slowly in learning to read that he was at times tempted to give up the effort in despair.

Of his late outburst against Abel he afterwards repented, as impolitic, and was soon good friends again with his very placable teacher.

Much of the time when he should have been at work did George spend in "puzzling" over his position. Sometimes, as from an upper window of the mill he saw the little Jan in Abel's arms, he would mutter, -

"If a body were to kidnap un, would they advertise he, I wonders?" and after some consideration would shake his white head doubtfully, saying, "No, they wants to get rid of un, or they wouldn't have brought un here."

Happily for poor little Jan, the unscrupulous rustic rejected the next idea which came to him as too doubtful of success.

"I wonder if they'd come down something handsome to them as could tell 'em the young varmint was off their hands for good and all. 'Twould save un ten shilling a week. Ten shilling a week! I heard un with my own ears. I'd a kep' un for five, if they'd asked me. I wonders now. Little uns like that does get stole by gipsies sometimes. Varmer Smith's son were, and never heard on again. They falls into a mill-race too sometimes. They be so venturesome. But I doubt 'twouldn't do. Them as it belongs to might be glad enough to get rid of un, and save their credit and their money too by turning upon I after all."

The miller's man puzzled himself in vain. He could think of no mode of action at once safe and certain of success. He did not even know whether what he possessed had any value, or how or where to make use of it. But a sort of dim hope of seeing his way yet kept him about the mill, and he persevered in the effort to learn to read, and kept his big ears open for any thing that might drop from the miller or his wife to throw light on the history of Jan, with whom his hopes were bound up.

Meanwhile, with a dogged patience, he bided his time.



One of the earliest of Jan's remembrances—of those remembrances, I mean, which remained with him when childhood was past—was of little Miss Amabel, from the Grange, being held in the hopper of the windmill for whooping cough.

Jan was between three and four years old at this time, the idol of his foster-mother, and a great favorite with his adopted brothers and sisters. A quaint little fellow he was, with a broad, intellectual-looking face, serious to old-fashionedness, very fair, and with eyes "like slans."

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