The object of his visit being now accomplished, Jan took up his hat to depart, but an important omission struck him, and he turned to say, “What’ll ’ee give me for minding your pigs, Master Salter?”
Master Salter was economical, and Jan was small, and anxious for the place.
“A shilling a week,” said the farmer.
“And his tea?” the missus gently suggested.
“Well, I don’t mind,” said Master Salter. “A shilling a week and thee tea.”
Jan paused. His predecessor had had eighteen pence for very imperfect services. Jan meant to be beyond reproach, and felt himself worth quite as much.
“I give the other boy one and sixpence,” said the farmer, “but thee’s very small.”
“I’m sprack,” said Jan, confidently. “And I be fond of pigs.”
“Massey upon me,” said Master Salter, laughing again. “Tis a peart young toad, sartinly. A might be fifty year old, for the ways of un. Well, thee shall have a shilling and thee tea, or one and sixpence without, then.” And seeing that Jan glanced involuntarily at the table, the farmer added, “Give un some now, missus. I’ll lay a pound bill the child be hungry.”
Jan was hungry. He had bartered the food from his “nunchin bag” at dinner-time for another child’s new slate-pencil. The cakes were very good, too, and Mrs. Salter was liberal. He rose greatly in her esteem by saying grace before meat. He cooled his tea in his saucer too, and raised it to his lips with his little finger stuck stiffly out (a mark of gentility imparted by Mrs. Lake), and in all points conducted himself with the utmost propriety. “For what we have received the Lord be praised,” was his form of giving thanks; to which Mrs. Salter added, “Amen,” and “Bless his heart!” And Jan, picking up his hat, lifted his dark eyes candidly to the farmer’s face, and said with much gravity and decision, —
“I’ll take a shilling a week and me tea, Master Salter, if it be all the same to you. And thank you kindly, sir, and the missus likewise.”
The blue coat.—Pig-minding
i>-paintings.—A stranger.—Master Swift is disappointed.
When Jan returned to the windmill, and gravely announced that he had hired himself out as pig-minder to Master Salter, Mrs. Lake was, as she said, “put about.” She considered pig-minding quite beneath the dignity of her darling, and brought forward every objection she could think of except the real one. But the windmiller had no romantic dreams on Jan’s behalf, and he decided that “’twas better he should be arning a shillin’ a week than gettin’ into mischief at whoam.” Jan’s ambition, however, was not satisfied. He wanted a blue coat, such as is worn by the shepherd-boys on the plains.