It was a lovely afternoon when, by his friend’s advice, Jan betook himself to the Park, that the nobs might have that opportunity of recognizing him which the wide-mouthed woman had feared. He had washed his face very clean, and brushed his old jacket with trembling hands, and the bow-legged boy had tied a spotted scarf, that had been given to himself by a stableman in the mews opposite, round Jan’s neck in what he called “a gent’s knot,” and the poor child went to seek his fate with a beating heart.
There were nobs enough. Round and round they came, in all the monotony of a not very exhilarating amusement. The crowd was so great that the carriages crawled rather than drove, and Jan could see the people well. Many a lovely face, set in a soft frame of delicate hue, caught his artistic eye, and he watched for and recognized it again. But only a passing glance of languid curiosity met his eager gaze in return. Not a nob recognized him. But a policeman looked at him as if he did, and Jan crept away.
When he got home, he found household matters at a standstill, for the bow-legged boy had been tearfully employed in thinking how Jan would despise his old friends when the “jook” had acknowledged him, and he had become a nob. And as Jan set matters to rights, he resolved that he would not go to the Park again to look for relatives.
The miller’s letter.—A new pot boiler sold.
Jan was very happy, and the brief dream of the “jook” was over, but his heart clung to his old home. If love and care, if tenderness in sickness and teaching in health, are parental qualities, why should he seek another parent than Master Swift? And had he not a foster-father to whom he was bound by all those filial ties of up-bringing from infancy, and of a common life, a common trade, and common joys and sorrows in the past, such as could bind him to no other father?
He begged a bit of paper from the painter, and wrote a letter to Master Lake, which would have done more credit to the schoolmaster’s instructions had it been less blotted with tears. He besought his foster-father not to betray him to the Cheap Jack, and he inquired tenderly after the schoolmaster and Rufus.
The windmiller was no great scholar, as was shown by his reply: —
“My dear Jan,
“Your welcome letter to hand, and I do hope, my dear Jan, It finds you well as it leave me at present. I be mortal bad with a cough, and your friends as searched everywhere, and dragged every place for you, encluding the plains for twenty mile round and down by the watermill. That Cheap John be no more your vather nor mine, an e’d better not show his dirty vace yearabouts after all he stole. but your poor mother, she was allus took in by him, but she said with her own mouth, that woman be no more