On Sunday morning Jan took his place in church with unusual feelings. He looked here, there, and everywhere for the little damsel of the wood, but she was not to be seen. Meanwhile she had not sent the paint box, and he feared it would never come. He fancied she must be the Squire’s little daughter, but he was not sure, and she certainly was not in the big pew, where the back of the Squire’s red head and Lady Louisa’s aquiline nose were alone visible. She was a dear little soul, he thought. He wondered why she called him Bogy. Perhaps it was a way little ladies had of addressing their inferiors.
Jan did not happen to guess that, Amabel being very young, the morning services were too long for her. In the afternoon he had given her up, but she was there.
The old Rector had reached the third division of his sermon, and Lady Craikshaw was asleep, when Amabel, mounting the seat with her usual vigor, pushed her Sunday hood through the bombazine curtains, and said, —
Jan looked up, and then started to his feet as Amabel stuffed the paint-box into his hands. “I pushed it under my frock,” she said in a stage whisper. “It made me so tight? But grandmamma is such” —
Jan heard and saw no more. Amabel’s footing was apt to be insecure; she slipped upon the cushions and disappeared with a crash.
Jan trembled as he clasped the shallow old cedar-wood box. He wondered if the colors would prove as bright as those in the window. He fancied the wan, ascetic faces there rejoiced with him. When he got home, he sat under the shadow of the mill, and drew back the sliding lid of the box. Brushes, and twelve hard color cakes. They were Ackermann’s, and very good. Cheap paint-boxes were not made then. He read the names on the back of them: Neutral Tint, Prussian Blue, Indian Red, Yellow Ochre, Brown Madder, Brown Pink, Burnt Umber, Vandyke Brown, Indigo, King’s Yellow, Rose Madder, and Ivory Black.
It says much for Jan’s uprightness of spirit, and for the sense of duty in which the schoolmaster was training him, that he did not neglect school for his new treasure. Happily for him the sun rose early, and Jan rose with it, and taking his paint-box to the little wood, on scraps of parcel paper and cap paper, on bits of wood and smooth white stones, he blotted-in studies of color, which he finished from memory at odd moments in the windmill.
In the summer holidays, Jan had more time for sketching. But the many occasions on which he could not take his paints with him led him to observe closely, and taught him to paint from memory with wonderful exactness. He was also obliged to reduce his outlines and condense his effects to a very small scale to economize paper.
About this time he heard that Master Chuter was going to have a new sign painted for the inn. Master Linseed was to paint it.