For “Gearge” was six feet one and three-quarters in his stockings.
He had a face in some respects like a big baby’s. He had a turn-up nose, large smooth cheeks, a particularly innocent expression, a forehead hardly worth naming, small dull eyes, with a tendency to inflammation of the lids which may possibly have hindered the lashes from growing, and a mouth which was generally open, if he were neither eating nor sucking a “bennet.” When this countenance was bathed in flour, it might be an open question whether it were improved or no. It certainly looked both “vairer” and more “voolish!”
There is some evidence to show that he was “lazy,” as well as “lang,” and yet he and Master Lake contrived to pull on together.
Either because his character was as childlike as his face, and because—if stupid and slothful by nature—he was also of so submissive, susceptible, and willing a temper that he disarmed the justest wrath; or because he was, as he said, not such a fool as he looked, and had in his own lubberly way taken the measure of the masterful windmiller to a nicety, George’s most flagrant acts of neglect had never yet secured his dismissal.
Indeed, it really is difficult to realize that any one who is lavish of willingness by word can wilfully and culpably fail in deed.
“I be a uncommon vool, maester, sartinly,” blubbered George on one occasion when the miller was on the point of turning him off, as a preliminary step on the road to the “gallus,” which Master Lake expressed his belief that he was “sartin sure to come to.” And, as he spoke, George made dismal daubs on his befloured face with his sleeve, as he rubbed his eyes with his arm from elbow to wrist.
“Sech a governor as you be, too!” he continued. “Poor mother! she allus said I should come to no good, such a gawney as I be! No more I shouldn’t but for you, Master Lake, a-keeping of me on. Give un another chance, sir, do ’ee! I be mortal stoopid, sir, but I’d work my fingers to the bwoan for the likes of you, Master Lake!”
George stayed on, and though the very next time the windmiller was absent his “voolish” assistant did not get so much as a toll-dish of corn ground to flour, he was so full of penitence and promises that he weathered that tempest and many a succeeding one.
On that very eventful night of the storm, and of Jan’s arrival, George’s neglect had risked a recurrence of the sail catastrophe. At least if the second man’s report was to be trusted.
This man had complained to the windmiller that, during his absence with the strangers, George, instead of doubling his vigilance now that the men were left short-handed, had taken himself off under pretext of attending to the direction of the wind and the position of the sails outside, a most important matter, to which he had not, after all, paid the slightest heed; and what he did with himself, whilst leaving the mill to its fate and the fury of the storm, his indignant fellow-servant professed himself “blessed if he knew.”