“My dear Giotto, I do hope you are not building much on hopes of a new home and new relatives. If all we have heard is true, your mother is dead; and, if your father is not dead too, he has basely deserted you. You have to make a name, not to seek one; to confer credit, not to ask for it. And I don’t say this, Giotto, to make you vain, but to recall your responsibilities, and to dispel useless dreams. Believe me, my boy, your true mother, the tender nurse of your infancy, sleeps in the sacred shadow of this dear old church. It is your part to make her name, and the name of your respectable foster-father, famous as your own; to render your windmill as highly celebrated as Rembrandt’s, and to hang late laurels of fame on the grave of your grand old schoolmaster. Ah! my child, I know well that the ductile artistic nature takes shape very early. The coloring of childhood stains every painter’s canvas who paints from the heart. You can never call any other place home, Giotto, but this idyllic corner of the world!”
It will be seen that the painter’s rose-colored spectacles were still on his nose. Every thing delighted him. He was never weary of sketching garrulous patriarchs in snowy smocks under rickety porches. He said that in an age of criticism it was quite delightful to hear Daddy Angel say, “Ay, ay,” to every thing; and he waxed eloquent on the luxury of having only one post a day, and that one uncertain. But his highest flights of approbation were given to the home-brewed ale. That pure, refreshing beverage, sound and strong as a heart of oak should be, which quenched the thirst with a certain stringency which might hint at sourness to the vulgar palate, had—so he said—destroyed for ever his contentment with any other malt liquor. He spoke of Bass and Allsopp as “palatable tonics” and “non-poisonous medicinal compounds.” And when, with a flourish of hyperbole, he told Master Chuter’s guests that nothing to eat or drink was to be got in London, they took his word for it; and it was without suspicion of satire that Daddy Angel said, “The gen’leman do look pretty middlin’ hearty too—con-sid’rin’.”
It was evident that the painter had no intention of going away till the pot boiler fund was exhausted, and Jan was willing enough to abide, especially as Master Lake had caught cold at the schoolmaster’s funeral, and was grateful for his foster-son’s company and care. Jan was busy in many ways. He was Master Swift’s heir; but the old man’s illness had nearly swallowed up his savings, and Jan’s legacy consisted of the books, the furniture, the gardening tools, and Rufus, who attached himself to his new master with a wistful affection which seemed to say, “You belong to the good old times, and I know you loved him.”
Jan moved the schoolmaster’s few chattels to the windmill, and packed the books to take to London. With them he packed the little old etching that had been bought from the Cheap Jack. “It’s a very good one,” said the painter. “It’s by an old Dutch artist. You can see a copy in the British Museum.” But it was not in the Museum that Jan first saw a duplicate of his old favorite.