But the tradition of Master Swift’s severity was strong in Jan’s mind, and the wood was pleasant to him, and he only shrank back farther, and said, “No.” Children often give pain to their elders, of the intensity of which they have no measure; but, had Jan been older and wiser than he was, he might have been puzzled by the bitterness of the disappointment written on Master Swift’s countenance.
An involuntary impulse made the old man break the blow by doing something. With trembling fingers he folded his spectacles, and crammed them into the shagreen case. But, when that was done, he still found nothing to say, and he turned his back and went away in silence.
In silence Jan watched him, half regretfully, and strained his ears to catch something that Master Swift began again to recite: —
sort not to my will,
Even when my will doth study Thy renown:
Thou turn’st the edge of all things on me still,
Taking me up to throw me down.”
Then, lifting a heavy bramble that had fallen across his path, the schoolmaster stooped under it, and passed from sight.
And a sudden gust of wind coming sharply down the way by which he went caught the fragments of Jan’s picture, and whirled them broadcast through the wood.
Squire Ammaby and his daughter.—The cheap Jack does business once more.—The white horse changes masters.
Squire Ammaby was the most good-natured of men. He was very fond of his wife, though she was somewhat peevish, with weak health and nerves, and though she seemed daily less able to bear the rough and ready attentions of her husband, and to rely more and more on the advice and assistance of her mother, Lady Craikshaw. From this it came about that the Squire’s affection for his wife took the shape of wishing Lady Louisa to have every thing that she wished for, and that the very joy of his heart was his little daughter Amabel.
Amabel was between three and four years old, and to some extent a prodigy. She was as tall as an average child of six or seven, and stout in proportion. The size of her shoes scandalized her grandmother, and once drew tears from Lady Louisa as she reflected on the probable size of Miss Ammaby’s feet by the time she was “presented.”
Lady Louisa was tall and weedy; the Squire was tall and robust. Amabel inherited height on both sides, but in face and in character she was more like her father than her mother. Indeed, Lady Louisa would close her eyes, and Lady Craikshaw would put up her gold glass at the child, and they would both cry, “Sadly coarse! Quite an Ammaby!” Amabel was not coarse, however; but she had a strength and originality of character that must have come from some bygone generation, if it was inherited. She had a pitying affection for her mother. With her grandmother she lived at daggers drawn. She kept up a pretty successful struggle for her own way in the nursery. She was devoted to her father, when she could get at him, and she poured an almost boundless wealth of affection on every animal that came in her way.