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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 250 pages of information about Jan of the Windmill.

They were coming round the mill in the dusk, when a cry broke from Mrs. Lake’s lips; which was only an echo of a louder one from Jan.  A woman creeping round the mill in the opposite direction had just craned her neck forward so that Jan and his foster-mother saw her face for an instant before it disappeared.  Why Jan was so terrified, he would have been puzzled to say, for the woman was not hideous, though she had an ugly mouth.  But he was terrified, and none the less so from a conviction that she was looking intently and intentionally at him.  When he got his foster-mother indoors, the miller was disposed to think the affair was a fancy; but, as if the shock had given a spur to her feeble senses, Mrs. Lake said in a loud clear voice, “Maester, it be the woman that brought our Jan hither!”

But when the miller ran out, no one was to be seen.

CHAPTER XXX.

Jan’s prospects and master Swift’s plans.—­Tea and Milton.—­New parents.—­Parting with Rufus.—­Jan is kidnapped.

This shock seemed to give a last jar to the frail state of Mrs. Lake’s health, and the sleep into which she fell that night passed into a state of insensibility in which her sorely tried spirit was released without pain.

It was said that the windmiller looked twice his age from trouble.  But his wan appearance may have been partly due to the inroads of a lung disease, which comes to millers from constantly inhaling the flour-dust.  His cheeks grew hollow, and his wasted hands displayed the windmiller’s coat of arms {2} with painful distinctness.  The schoolmaster spent most of his evenings at the mill; but sometimes Jan went to tea with him, and by Master Lake’s own desire he went to school once more.

Master Swift thought none the less of Jan’s prospects that it was useless to discuss them with Master Lake.  All his plans were founded on the belief that he himself would live to train the boy to be a windmiller, whilst Master Swift’s had reference to the conviction that “miller’s consumption” would deprive Jan of his foster-father long before he was old enough to succeed him.  And had the miller made his will?  Master Swift made his, and left his few savings to Jan.  He could not help hoping for some turn of Fortune’s wheel which should give the lad to him for his own.

Jan was not likely to lack friends.  The Squire had heard with amazement that Master Chuter’s new sign was the work of a child, and he offered to place him under proper instruction to be trained as an artist.  But, at the time that this offer came, Jan was waiting on his foster mother, and he refused to betray Abel’s trust.  The Rector also wished to provide for him, but he was even more easily convinced that Jan’s present duty lay at home.  Master Swift too urged this in all good faith, but his personal love for Jan, and the dread of parting with him, had an influence of which he was hardly conscious.

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