But few people are as grateful as they should be when informed of misconduct in their own servants. It is a reflection on one’s judgment.
And unpardonable as George’s conduct was, if the tale were true, the words in which he couched his self-defence were so much more grateful to the ears of the windmiller than the somewhat free and independent style in which the other man expressed his opinion of George’s conduct and qualities, that the master took his servant’s part, and snubbed the informer for his pains.
In justice to George, too, it should be said that he stoutly and repeatedly denied the whole story, with many oaths and imprecations of horrible calamities upon himself if he were lying in the smallest particular. And this with reiteration so steady, and a countenance so guileless and unmoved, as to contrast favorably with the face of the other man, whose voice trembled and whose forehead flushed, either with overwhelming indignation or with a guilty consciousness that he was bearing false witness.
Master Lake employed him no more, and George stayed on.
But, for that matter, Master Lake’s disposition was not one which permitted him to profit by the best qualities of those connected with him. He was a bit of a tyrant, and more than one man, six times as clever, and ten times as hard-working as George, had gone when George would have stayed, from crossing words with the windmiller. The safety of the priceless sails, if all were true, had been risked by the man he kept, and secured by the man he sent away, but Master Lake was quite satisfied with his own decision.
“I bean’t so fond myself of men as is so mortal sprack and fussy in a strange place,” the miller observed to Mrs. Lake in reference to this matter.
Mrs. Lake had picked up several of her husband’s bits of proverbial wisdom, which she often flattered him by retailing to his face.
“Too hot to hold, mostly,” was her reply, in knowing tones.
“Ay, ay, missus, so a be,” said the windmiller. And after a while he added, “Gearge is slow, sartinly, mortal slow; but Gearge is sure.”
The pocket-book and the family bible.—Five pounds’ reward.
Of the strange gentleman who brought Jan to the windmill, the Lakes heard no more, but the money was paid regularly through a lawyer in London.
From this lawyer, indeed, Master Lake had heard immediately after the arrival of his foster-son.
The man of business wrote to say that the gentleman who had visited the mill on a certain night had, at that date, lost a pocket-book, which he thought might have been picked up at the mill. It contained papers only valuable to the owner, and also a five-pound note, which was liberally offered to the windmiller if he could find the book, and forward it at once.