Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub
[blocks in formation]

Breakfast was always at an early hour; before seven o'clock Den contrived to slip away down the saltings, and then up the street to some small houses in the fishing quarter of the town.

“Scoot, ahoy! Winder, ahoy!” sounded as loudly as Den dared make it. Although the tradesfolk and artisans were already at the business of the day, the fishing folk had many of them only just turned in after a long night's toil.

The click of two wooden latches was heard, and out tumbled the pair of inseparables, in the lightest costume possible.

“Come in, Reed-bird ; quick though, mother's upstairs. Them crabs is in salt water; we'll hev a real good bile. But how is it ye ain't got yer cruisin' suit on?”

"I can't come ; Larry has asked me to go up town an' see him. I've only run down to tell ye.”

“Never mind us, ef ye're going there; them crabs 'll keep all right till to-morrow.”

“I'll be here to-morrow, Scoot,” cried the boy.

CHAPTER IV.

AT THE PORTREEVE'S.

BACK ran Denzil, as fast as his little legs could carry him. A few scolding words from his mother as she gave him a good scrubbing of face and hands; some admonitions as to how he should behave himself—quite unnecessary on this particular occasion, and quite unheeded, -and Reed-bird was chirruping gaily as he ran along over the flat, and walked more sedately up the stony street to his kinsman's imposing-looking house and business premises.

As I said before, Denzil's father came of a very good old Huguenot stock ; that business had been in the hands of his relative's family, handed down from father to son, for a century and a half.

The English had made small progress in the manufacture of glass until the French immigrants introduced their improvements into our country. We find traces of this fact in the names still used in the art, such as “ found,” which is the word expressive of the melting of the materials into glass, from the French fondre; hence also our word foundry. The kinney is the corner of the furnace, from coin or cheminée. To move the sheet of glass from the annealing kiln, what is termed the “foushart” is used, from fourchette, a fork—and so on.

The master was a fine-looking man, six feet two in height, a true gentleman in the best sense of the word, of courtly manners and dignified bearing; he held the office of portreeve in Marshton at the time I write of. The workshops were large and many in number ; the painting and plumbing premises stood each by themselves. In one part were the huge iron melting-pots, with all the various appliances for casting the lead. They prepared all the materials they used themselves. One place was a special region of mystery and delight to the imaginative boy ; that was where the designs for the stained windows were made, and the glass stained and burned. In those days artisans of the better sort had to master all the different branches of their special business. Apprenticeship to their trades was a very long and comprehensive affair. In this age of hurry and machinery a skilled artisan may look long and vainly for the patient industrious apprentices of fifty years ago. Among the cabinetmakers, for instance, men are satisfied to learn to make only the legs of tables and to know nothing about the tops; which is all again that another man can turn his hands to. This is an age of progress : but is it all in the right direction ? It is well to bear in mind, however, that at one time it took ten hours to make twenty pins.

The master's dwelling-house stood in the centre of the steep high street. It had quaint gables, grotesquely carved and ornamented. The overhanging windows of the upper storey projected far out over the pavement and the steps that led up to the front door. The master was one of the keenest sportsmen that ever handled a fowling-piece. His sitting-room walls were hung with pictures in French- chalks, and beautiful French engravings after some of J. B. Oudry's paintings-Oudry, called by some the French Landseer, a pupil of De Largillière. These, with some really fine paintings, had been brought for him

direct from France; no one ever asked how or by whom. There were also drawings done by Denzil's own father, and the boy never tired of looking at these ; he would stand before them for hours lost in speechless admiration. If his father could do such as those, why not he himself some day? But that was a sore point, of which I shall say more hereafter.

Philip Magnier's drawings and paintings were hung also in the stained-glass workshop. In one place you would see a grotesque face grinning at you, which had been copied from one of the gables outside. So well was the light and shade managed, that the thing seemed to throw itself at you from the wall. Yonder a snipe hung on a nail ; here lay a mallard, just as he had been dropped from the dog's mouth. Over a chimneypiece was a brace of Spanish pointers. The chimneypieces themselves had been carved by workmen from Holland very many years ago ; they were real works of art. Beams crossed the ceilings, and the spaces between them were panelled out in a curious fashion. In the living - room the quarried lights were of stained glass. There was an air of quaint richness about them that carried one far away into the past. The master, who was gifted with a

« AnteriorContinuar »