“Yes, it be!” said George, who had followed the narrative with open-mouthed interest. “It be aal right. I knows. ’Twas a gentleman by the name of Ford as cried his pocket-book, and the vive-pound bill in the papers. ’Tis aal right. Ford—Jan Ford be the little varment’s name then, and he be gentry-born, too! Missus Lake she allus said so, she did, sartinly.”
George was so absorbed by the flood of information which had burst upon him all at once, and by adjusting his clumsy thoughts to the new view of Jan, that he did not stop to think whether the Cheap Jack and his wife had known of the lost pocket-book and the reward. They had not. The dark gentleman had no wish to reopen communication with the woman he had employed. He thought (and rightly) that the book had fallen when he stumbled over his cloak in getting into the carriage, and he had refused to advertise it except in the local papers. And at that time the Cheap Jack and Sal were both in London.
But George’s incautious speech recalled one or two facts to them, and whilst George sat slowly endeavoring to realize that new idea, “Master Jan Ford, full young gentleman, and at least half Frenchman” (for of any other foreigners George knew nothing), the Cheap Jack was pondering the words “five-pound bill,” and connecting them with George’s account of his savings when they last met; and his quicker spouse was also putting two and two together, but with a larger sum. At the same instant the Cheap Jack inquired after George’s money, and his wife asked about the letter. But George had hastily come to a decision. If the tale told by the woman were true, he had got a great deal of information for nothing, and he saw no reason for sharing whatever the letter might contain with those most likely to profit by it. As to letting the Cheap Jack have any thing whatever to do with the disposal of his savings, nothing could be further from his intentions.
“Gearge bean’t such a vool as a looks,” thought that worthy, and aloud he vowed, with unnecessary oaths, that the money was still in the bank, and that he had forgotten to bring the letter, which was in a bundle that he had left at the mill.
This disappointment did not, however, diminish the civility of the Cheap Jack’s wife. She was very hospitable, and even pressed George to spend the night at their house, which he declined. He had a dread of the Cheap Jack, which was almost superstitious.
For her civility, indeed, the Cheap Jack’s wife was taken to task by her husband in a few moments when they were alone together.
“I thought you was sharper than to be took in by him!” said the hunchback, indignantly. “Do you believe all that gag about the bank and the bundle? and you, as soft to him, telling him every blessed thing, and he stowed the cash and the letter somewheres where we shall never catch a sight of ’em, and got every thing out of you as easy as shelling a pod of peas.” And in language as strong as that of the miller’s man the Cheap Jack swore he could have done better himself a hundred times over.