Page:A Leaf in the Storm.djvu/36

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29
A DOG OF FLANDERS.

What was it? wondered Patrasche.

He thought it could not be good or natural for the little lad to be so grave, and, in his dumb fashion, he tried all he could to keep Nello by him in the sunny fields or in the busy market-place.

But to the churches Nello would not go: most often of all would he go to the great cathedral; and Patrasche, left without on the stones by the iron fragments of Quentin Matsys' gate, would stretch himself and yawn and sigh, and even howl now and then, all in vain, until the doors closed and the child perforce came forth again, and winding his arms about the dog's neck, would kiss him on his broad, tawny-coloured forehead, and murmur always the same words:—

"If I could only see them, Patrasche!—if I could only see them!"

What were they? pondered Patrasche, looking up with large, wistful, sympathetic eyes.

One day, when the custodian was out of the way and the doors left ajar, he got in for a moment after his little friend and saw. "They" were two great covered pictures on either side of the choir.

Nello was kneeling, wrapt as in an ecstasy, before the altar-picture of the Assumption, and when he noticed Patrasche, and rose and drew the dog gently