Jan of the Windmill eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 321 pages of information about Jan of the Windmill.
story, of a widowed mother and three brothers and sisters living, and six dead; and when he’d finished, and two visitors were fumbling in their pockets, I took him by the collar and lifted him clean through the kitchen and down the yard into the street.  I nearly knocked Swift over, or rather I nearly fell myself, from concussion with his burly person, but he was the very man I wanted.  I said, ’Mr. Swift, may I ask you to do me a favor?  This boy—­whose father was a respectable man—­has been begging—­ begging! in a public room.  His excuse is that his mother is starving.  Will you kindly take him to the Hall, and put him in charge of the gardener, with my strict orders that he is to do a good afternoon’s work at weeding in the shrubbery.  And that the gardener is to see that he comes every day at nine o’clock in the morning, and works there till four in the afternoon, till the day you reopen school, meal-times and Sundays excepted.  I will pay his mother five shillings a week, and, if he is a good boy, I’ll give him some old clothes.  And if ever you see or hear of his disgracing himself and his friends by begging again, if you don’t thrash him within an inch of his life, I shall.’  I promise you, the widow might starve for the want of that five shillings if the young gentleman could slip out of his bargain.  His face was a study.  But less so than the schoolmaster’s.  The job exactly suited him, and I suspect he knew the lad of old.”

“From what I’ve heard Swift say, I fancy he sympathizes with your theories,” said the Rector.

“I fear he sympathizes with my temper as well as my theories!” laughed the Squire.  “As I felt the flush on my own cheek-bone, I caught the fire in his eye.  But now, my dear sir, you will consent to some strong measures to prevent the village becoming a mere nest of lazzaroni?  Let us try the system at any rate.  I propose that we do not shut up the soup kitchen yet, but charge a small sum for the soup towards its expenses.  And I want to beg you to write another of those graphic and persuasive letters, in which you have appealed to the sympathy of the public with our misfortune.”

“But, bless me!” said the Rector, “I thought you were a foe to assisting the people, even out of their own parson’s pocket.”

“Well, I taunted the doctor myself with inconsistency, but we do not propose to make a sixpenny dole of the fund.  You know there are certain things they can’t do, and some help they seem fairly entitled to receive.  We’ve made them burn their bedding, in the interests of the public safety, and it’s only fair they should be helped to replace it.  Then there is a lot of sanitary work which can only be done by a fund for the purpose; and, if we get the money, we can employ idlers.  The women will tidy their houses when they see new blankets, and the sooner the churchyard is made nice, and that monument of yours erected, and we all get into orderly, respectable ways again, the better.”

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Jan of the Windmill from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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