“It must have been found,” said the landlord; “but I bean’t so sure about it’s having been given up, the notice was in so long. And whoever did find un must have found un at once. But what I says is, five-pound notes lost as easy as that comes from where there’s more of the same sort. And, if Master Lake be paid for the boy, he can ’fford to ’prentice him when his time comes. He’ve boys enough of his own to take to the mill, and Jan do seem to have such an uncommon turn for drawing things out, I’d try him with painting and varnishing, if he was mine. And I believe he’d come to signs, too! Look at that, now! It be small, and the boy’ve had no paint to lay on, but there’s the sign of the Jolly Sow for you, as natteral as life. You know about signs, Master Linseed,” continued the landlord. For there was a tradition that the painter could “do picture-signs,” though he had only been known to renew lettered ones since he came to the neighborhood. “Master Lake should ’prentice him with you when he’s older,” Master Chuter said in conclusion.
But Master Linseed did not respond warmly. He felt it a little beneath his dignity as a sign-painter to jump at the idea, though the rest of the company assented in a general murmur.
“Scrawling on a slate,” the painter and decorator began—and at this point he paused, after the leisurely customs of the district, to light his pipe at the leaden-weighted candlestick which stood near; and then, as his hearers sat expectant, but not impatient, proceeded: “Scrawling on a slate is one thing, Master Chuter: painting and decorating’s another. Painting’s a trade; and not rightly to be understood by them that’s not larned it, nor to be picked up by all as can scrawl a line here and a line there, as the whim takes ’em. Take oak-graining,”—and here Master Linseed paused again, with a fine sense of effect,—“who’d ever think of taking a comb to it as didn’t know? And for the knots, I’ve worked ’em—now with a finger and now a thumb—over a shutter-front till it looked that beautiful the man it was done for telled me himself,—’I’d rather,’ says he, ’have ’em as you’ve done ’em than the real thing.’ But young hands is nowhere with the knots. They puts ’em in too thick.”
The company said, “Ay, ay!” in a tone of unbroken assent, for Master Linseed was understood to have “come from a distance,” and to “know a good deal.” But an innkeeper stands above a painter and decorator anywhere, and especially on his own hearth, and Master Chuter did not mean to be put down.
“I suppose old hands were young uns once, Master Linseed,” said he; “and if the boy were never much at oak-graining, I’d back him for sign-painting, if he were taught. Why, the pigs he draas out, look you. I could cut ’em up, and not a piece missing; not a joint, nor as much as would make a pound of sausages. And if a draas pigs, why not osses, why not any other kind?”
“Ay, ay!” said the company.