Jan of the Windmill eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 250 pages of information about Jan of the Windmill.
and gathering on the whole that the army, as a profession, opened a sort of boundless career of opportunities to a man of his peculiar talents and appearance.  There was something infectious, too, in the gay easy style in which the soldier seemed to treat fortune, good or ill; and the miller’s man was stimulated at last to vow that he was not such a fool as he looked, and would “never say die.”  To the best of his belief, the sergeant replied in terms which showed that, had he been “in cash,” George’s loss would have been made good by him, out of pure generosity, and on the spot.

As it was, he pressed upon his acceptance the sum of one shilling, which the miller’s man pocketed with tears.

What recruit can afterwards remember which argument of the skilful sergeant did most to melt his discretion into valor?

The sun had not dried the dew from the wolds, and the sails of the windmill hung idle in the morning air, when George Sannel made his first march to the drums and fifes, with ribbons flying from his hat, a recruit of the 206th (Royal Wiltshire) Regiment of Foot.

As the Cheap Jack and his wife hastened home from the mop, Sal had some difficulty in restraining her husband’s impatience to examine the pocket-book as they walked along.

Prudence prevailed, however, and it was not opened till they were at home and alone.

In notes and money, George’s savings amounted to more than thirteen pounds.

“Pretty well, my dear,” said the Cheap Jack, grinning hideously.  “And now for the letter.  Read it aloud, Sal, my dear; you’re a better scholar than me.”

Sal opened the thin, well-worn sheet, and read the word “Moerdyk,” but then she paused.  And, like Abel, she paused so long that the hunchback pressed impatiently to look over her shoulder.

But the letter was written in a foreign language, and the Cheap Jack and his wife were no wiser for it than the miller’s man.

CHAPTER XVIII.

Midsummer holidays.—­Child fancies.—­Jan and the pig-minder.—­Master Salter at home.—­Jan hires himself out.

Midsummer came, and the Dame’s school broke up for the holidays.  Jan had longed for them intensely.  Not that he was oppressed by the labors of learning, but that he wanted to be out of doors.  Many a little one was equally eager for the freedom of the fields, but the common child-love for hedges and ditches, and flower-picking, and the like, was intensified in Jan by a deeper pleasure which country scenes awoke from the artist nature within him.  That it is no empty sentimentality to speak of an artist nature in a child, let the child-memories of all artists bear witness!  That they inspired the poet Wordsworth with one of his best poems, and that they have dyed the canvas of most landscape painters with the indestructible local coloring of the scenes of each man’s childhood, will hardly be denied.

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Jan of the Windmill from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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