At that moment, George felt himself a sort of embodiment of shrewd wisdom; he had taken another sip from the glass, which was still in his hand, and the only drawback to the sense of magnified cunning by which his ideas seemed to be illumined was a less pleasant feeling that they were perpetually slipping from his grasp. To the familiar idea of outwitting the Cheap Jack he held fast, however.
“It be nothin’ to thee what a have,” he said slowly; “but a don’t mind ‘ee knowin’ so much, Jack, because ’ee can’t get at un; haw, haw! Not unless ’ee robs the savings-bank.”
The dwarf’s eyes twinkled, and he affected to secure some pictures that hung low, as he said carelessly, —
“Savings-banks be good places for a poor man to lay by in. They takes small sums, and a few shillings comes in useful to a honest man, George, my dear, if they doesn’t go far in business.”
“Shillings!” cried George, indignantly; “pounds!” And then, doubtful if he had not said too much, he added, “A don’t so much mind ’ee knowing, Jack, because ’ee can’t get at ’em!”
“It’s a pity you’re such a poor scholar, George,” said the Cheap Jack, turning round, and looking full at his friend; “you’re so sharp, but for that, my dear. You don’t think you counts the money over in your head till you makes it out more than it is, now, eh?”
“A can keep things in my yead,” said George, “better than most folks can keep a book; I knows what I has, and what other folks can’t get at. I knows how I put un in. First, the five-pound bill” —
“They must have stared to see you bring five pound in a lump, George, my dear!” said the hunchback. “Was it wise, do you think?”
“Gearge bean’t such a vool as a looks,” replied the miller’s man. “A took good care to change it first, Cheap John, and a put it in by bits.”
“You’re a clever customer, George,” said his friend. “Well, my dear? First, the five-pound bill, and then?”
George looked puzzled, and then, suddenly, angry. “What be that to you?” he asked, and forthwith relapsed into a sulky fit, from which the Cheap Jack found it impossible to rouse him. All attempts to renew the subject, or to induce the miller’s man to talk at all, proved fruitless. The Cheap Jack insisted, however, on taking a friendly leave.
“Good-by, my dear,” said he, “till the mop. You knows my place in the town, and I shall expect you.”
The miller’s man only replied by a defiant nod, which possibly meant that he would come, but had some appearance of expressing only a sarcastic wish that the Cheap Jack might see him on the occasion alluded to.
In obedience to a yell from its master, the white horse now started forward, and it is not too much to say that the journey to town was not made more pleasant for the poor beast by the fact that the Cheap Jack had a good deal of long-suppressed fury to vent upon somebody.