Page:A Leaf in the Storm.djvu/39

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32
A DOG OF FLANDERS.

the rosy rising of the dawn; and felt, many and many a time, the tears of a strange, nameless pain and joy mingled together, fall hotly from the bright young eyes upon his own wrinkled, yellow forehead.

"I should go to my grave quite content if I thought, Nello, that when thou growest a man thou could'st own this hut and the little plot of ground, and labour for thyself, and be called Baas by thy neighbours," said the old man Jehan many an hour from his bed.

For to own a bit of soil, and to be called Baas—master—by the hamlet round, is to have achieved the highest ideal of a Flemish peasant; and the old soldier, who had wandered over all the earth in his youth, and had brought nothing back, deemed in his old age that to live and die on one spot in contented humility was the fairest fate he could desire for his darling.

But Nello said nothing.

The same leaven was working in him that in other times begat Rubens, and Jordaens and the Van Eycks, and all their wondrous tribe, and in times more recent begat—in the green country of the Ardennes, where the Meuse washes the old walls of Dijon—the great artist of the Patroclus,