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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesJan Of The Windmill - Chapter 41. The Detective.--The "Jook"...
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Jan Of The Windmill - Chapter 41. The Detective.--The 'Jook'... Post by :65587 Category :Long Stories Author :Juliana Horatia Ewing Date :May 2012 Read :2039

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Jan Of The Windmill - Chapter 41. The Detective.--The "Jook"...


As he had resolved, the painter secured the help of the police in tracing Jan's pedigree. He did not take the bow-legged boy into his confidence, but that young gentleman recognized the detective officer when he opened the door for him; and he laid his finger by his snub nose, with a wink of intense satisfaction.

On hearing the story, the detective expressed his opinion (founded on acquaintance with Sal) that George's pocket had been picked by his companions, and not by chance thieves in the fair; and he finally proved his sagacity in the guess by bringing the pocket-book and the letter to the artist.

With his mother's letter (it had been written at Moerdyk, on her way to England) before them, Jan and the artist were sitting, when Mr. Ford's client was announced, and Jan stood face to face with his father.

The gentle reader will willingly leave a veil over that meeting, which the artist felt a generous shame to witness. With less delicacy, the bow-legged boy had lingered outside the door, but when the studio rang with a passionate cry,--"My son! my son!"--he threw his green baize apron over his head, and crying, "The jook!" plunged downwards into the basement, and shed tears of sympathy amongst the boots and bottles.

To say that Lady Adelaide forgave the past, and received her husband's son with kindness, is to do scant justice to the generous affection which he received from her. With pity for her husband mingled painful astonishment that he should have trusted her so little; but if the blow could never be quite repaired, love rarely meets with its exact equivalent in faith or tenderness, and she did not suffer alone. She went with Jan and his father to visit Master Lake, and her gracious thanks to the windmiller for his care of her step-son gave additional bitterness to her husband's memories of the windmill.

It was she who first urged that they should go to Holland. Jan's grandfather was dead,--Mr. Ford's client could make no reparation there,--but the cousin to whom the old wooden house now belonged gave Jan many things which had been his mother's. Amongst these was a book of sketches by herself, and a collection of etchings by her great-grandfather, a Dutch artist; and in this collection Jan found the favorite of his childhood. Did the genius in him really take its rise in the old artist who etched those willows which he had once struggled to rival with slate-pencil?

His mother's sketches were far inferior to his own; but with the loving and faithful study of nature which they showed, perhaps, too, with the fact that they were chiefly gathered from homely and homelike scenes, from level horizons and gray skies, Jan felt a sympathy which stirred him to the heart. His delight in them touched Lady Adelaide even more than it moved his father. But then no personal inconvenience in the past, no long habits of suffering and selfishness, blunted her sense of the grievous wrong that had been done to her husband's gifted son. Nor to him alone! It was with her husband's dead wife that Lady Adelaide's sympathies were keenest,--the mother, like herself, of an only child.

Mr. Ford's client went almost unwillingly to his wife's grave, by the side of which her old father's bones now rested. But Jan and Lady Adelaide hastened thither, hand in hand, and the painter's pledge was redeemed. Since the old man died, it had been little tended, and weeds grew rank where flowers had once been planted. Jan threw himself on the neglected grave. "My poor mother!" he cried, almost bitterly. For a moment the full sense of their common wrong seemed to overwhelm him, and he shrank even from Lady Adelaide. But when, kneeling beside him, she bent her face as if the wind that sighed among the grass stalks could carry her words to ears long dulled in death,--"My POOR child! _I will be a mother to your son!"--Jan's heart turned back with a gush of gratitude to his good stepmother.

He had much reason to be grateful: then, and through many succeeding years, when her training fitted him to take his place without awkwardness in society, and her tender care atoned (so she hoped) for the hardships of the past.

The brotherly love between Jan and D'Arcy was a source of great comfort to her. Once only was it threatened with estrangement. It was when they had grown up into young men, and each believed that he was in love with Amabel. Jan had just prepared to sacrifice himself (and Amabel) with enthusiasm to his brother, when D'Arcy luckily discovered that he and the playmate of his childhood were not really suited to each other. It was the case. The conventionalities of English society in his own rank were part of D'Arcy's very life, but to Amabel they had been made so distasteful in the hands of Lady Craikshaw that her energetic, straight-forward spirit was in continual revolt; and it was not the least of Jan's merits in her eyes that his life had been what it was, that he was so different from the rest of the people amongst whom she lived, and that the interests and pleasures which they had in common were such as the world of fashion could neither give nor take away.

Withheld from sacrificing his affections to his brother, Jan joined with his father to cut off the entail of his property. "D'Arcy is your heir, sir," he said. "I hope to live well by my art, and GOD forbid that I should disinherit Lady Adelaide's son."

His great gift did indeed bring fortune as well as fame to our hero.

The Boys' Home knows this. It has some generous patrons (it should have many!), and first amongst them must rank the great painter who sometimes presides at its annual festival, and is wont on such occasions pleasantly to speak of himself as "an old boy."

More accurately entitled to that character is the bow-legged man- servant of another artist,--Jan's old master. These two live on together, and each would find it difficult to say whether pride and pleasure in the good luck of their old companion, or the never healed pain of his loss, is the stronger feeling in their kindly hearts.

Amabel was her father's heir, and in process of time Jan became the Squire, and went back to spend his life under the skies which inspired his childhood. But his wife is wont to say that she believes his true vocation was to be a miller, so strong is the love of windmills in him, and so proud is he of his Miller's Thumb.

At one time Mr. Ammaby wished him to take his name and arms, but Jan decided to keep his own. And it is by this name that Fame writes him in her roll of painters, and not by that of the old Squires of Ammaby, nor by the name he bore when he was a Child of the Windmill.

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