“Don’t ’ee tell un, Gearge!” Abel implored; “and, O Gearge! let I tell mother about the word. Maybe she’ve heard tell of it. Let I show her the letter, Gearge. She’ll read it for ’ee. She’s a scholard, is mother.”
There was no mistaking now the wrath in George’s face. The fury that is fed by fear blazes pretty strongly at all times.
“Look ’ee, Abel, my boy,” said he, pinching Abel’s shoulder till he turned red and white with pain. “If thee ever speaks of that letter and that word to any mortal soul, I’ll tell Master Lake thee plays moocher, and I’ll half kill thee myself. Thee shall rue the day ever thee was born!” he added, almost beside himself with rage and terror. And as, after a few propitiating words, Abel fled from the mill, George ground his hands together and muttered, “Motive! I wish the old witch had motived every bone in thee body, or let me do ’t!”
Master George Sannel was indeed a little irritable at this stage of his career. Like the miller, he had had one stroke of good luck, but capricious fortune would not follow up the blow.
He had made five pounds pretty easily. But how to turn some other property of which he had become possessed to profit for himself was, after months of waiting, a puzzle still.
He was well aware that his own want of education was the great hindrance to his discovering for himself the exact worth of what he had got. And to his suspicious nature the idea of letting any one else into his secret, even to gain help, was quite intolerable.
Abel seemed to be no nearer even to the one word that George had showed him, after weeks of “schooling,” and George himself progressed so slowly in learning to read that he was at times tempted to give up the effort in despair.
Of his late outburst against Abel he afterwards repented, as impolitic, and was soon good friends again with his very placable teacher.
Much of the time when he should have been at work did George spend in “puzzling” over his position. Sometimes, as from an upper window of the mill he saw the little Jan in Abel’s arms, he would mutter, —
“If a body were to kidnap un, would they advertise he, I wonders?” and after some consideration would shake his white head doubtfully, saying, “No, they wants to get rid of un, or they wouldn’t have brought un here.”
Happily for poor little Jan, the unscrupulous rustic rejected the next idea which came to him as too doubtful of success.
“I wonder if they’d come down something handsome to them as could tell ’em the young varmint was off their hands for good and all. ’Twould save un ten shilling a week. Ten shilling a week! I heard un with my own ears. I’d a kep’ un for five, if they’d asked me. I wonders now. Little uns like that does get stole by gipsies sometimes. Varmer Smith’s son were, and never heard on again. They falls into a mill-race too sometimes. They be so venturesome. But I doubt ’twouldn’t do. Them as it belongs to might be glad enough to get rid of un, and save their credit and their money too by turning upon I after all.”