Jan worked hard at the new “pot boiler.” The artist painted the boy’s figure himself, and Jan did most of the rest. The bow-legged boy stooped in a petticoat as a model for the old woman, murmuring at intervals, “Oh, my, here is a game!” and, when the painter had left the room, his grave speculations as to whether the withered face of the dame were a good likeness of his own chubby cheeks made Jan laugh till he could hardly hold his palette. It was done at last, and Jan took it to the picture-dealer’s.
The poor boy could hardly keep out of the street where the picture-dealer lived. One afternoon, as he was hanging about the window, the business gentleman came by and asked kindly after his welfare. Jan was half ashamed of the hope with which he told the tale of the pot boiler.
“And you did some of it?” said the business gentleman, peering in through his spectacles.
“Only the painting, sir, not the design,” said Jan.
“And you want very much to go and see your old home?”
“I do, sir,” said Jan.
The business gentleman put his gold spectacles into their case, and laid his hand on Jan’s shoulder. “I am not much of a judge of genius,” said he, “but if you have it, and if you live to make a fortune by it, remember, my boy, that there is no luxury which money puts in a man’s power like the luxury of helping others.” With which he stepped briskly into the picture-dealer’s.
And half an hour afterwards Jan burst into the painter’s studio, crying, “It’s sold, sir!”
“Sold!” shouted the painter, in boyish glee. “Hooray! Where’s that rascal Bob? Oh, I know! I sent him for the beer. Giotto, my dear fellow, I have some shooting-boots somewhere, if you can find them, and a tourist’s knapsack, and” —
But Jan had started to find the boots, and the bow-legged boy, who had overheard the news as he left the house, rushed up the street, with his head down, crying, “It’s sold! it’s sold!” and, as he ran, he jostled against a man in a white apron, carrying a pot of green paint to some area railings.
“Wot’s sold?” said he, testily, as he recovered his balance.
“You a painter, and don’t know?” said the rosy-cheeked boy. “Oh, my! Wot’s sold? Why, I’m sold, and it’s sold. That walable picter I wos about to purchase for my mansion in Piccadilly.” And, feigning to burst into a torrent of tears, he darted round the corner and into the public-house.
Sunshine after storm.
It had been a wet morning. The heavy rain-clouds rolled over the plains, hanging on this side above the horizon as if in an instant they must fall and crush the solid earth, and passing away on that side in dark, slanting veils of shower; giving to the vast monotony of the wide field of view that strange interchange of light and shadow, gleam and gloom, which makes the poetry of the plains.