Part 4 out of 7
what happened when I came into the room last night? Why, she turned
colour and nearly fainted away. That was because she knew me.'
Bob stared at his brother with a face of pain and distrust.
'For once, Bob, I must say something that will hurt thee a good
deal,' continued John. 'She was not a woman who could possibly be
your wife--and so she's gone.'
'You sent her off?'
'Well, I did.'
'John!--Tell me right through--tell me!'
'Perhaps I had better,' said the trumpet-major, his blue eyes
resting on the far distant sea, that seemed to rise like a wall as
high as the hill they sat upon.
And then he told a tale of Miss Johnson and the --th Dragoons which
wrung his heart as much in the telling as it did Bob's to hear, and
which showed that John had been temporarily cruel to be ultimately
kind. Even Bob, excited as he was, could discern from John's manner
of speaking what a terrible undertaking that night's business had
been for him. To justify the course he had adopted the dictates of
duty must have been imperative; but the trumpet-major, with a
becoming reticence which his brother at the time was naturally
unable to appreciate, scarcely dwelt distinctly enough upon the
compelling cause of his conduct. It would, indeed, have been hard
for any man, much less so modest a one as John, to do himself
justice in that remarkable relation, when the listener was the
lady's lover; and it is no wonder that Robert rose to his feet and
put a greater distance between himself and John.
'And what time was it?' he asked in a hard, suppressed voice.
'It was just before one o'clock.'
'How could you help her to go away?'
'I had a pass. I carried her box to the coach-office. She was to
follow at dawn.'
'But she had no money.'
'Yes, she had; I took particular care of that.' John did not add,
as he might have done, that he had given her, in his pity, all the
money he possessed, and at present had only eighteen-pence in the
world. 'Well, it is over, Bob; so sit ye down, and talk with me of
old times,' he added.
'Ah, Jack, it is well enough for you to speak like that,' said the
disquieted sailor; 'but I can't help feeling that it is a cruel
thing you have done. After all, she would have been snug enough for
me. Would I had never found out this about her! John, why did you
interfere? You had no right to overhaul my affairs like this. Why
didn't you tell me fairly all you knew, and let me do as I chose?
You have turned her out of the house, and it's a shame! If she had
only come to me! Why didn't she?'
'Because she knew it was best to do otherwise.'
'Well, I shall go after her,' said Bob firmly.
'You can do as you like,' said John; 'but I would advise you
strongly to leave matters where they are.'
'I won't leave matters where they are,' said Bob impetuously. 'You
have made me miserable, and all for nothing. I tell you she was
good enough for me; and as long as I knew nothing about what you say
of her history, what difference would it have made to me? Never was
there a young woman who was better company; and she loved a merry
song as I do myself. Yes, I'll follow her.'
'O, Bob,' said John; 'I hardly expected this!'
'That's because you didn't know your man. Can I ask you to do me
one kindness? I don't suppose I can. Can I ask you not to say a
word against her to any of them at home?'
'Certainly. The very reason why I got her to go off silently, as
she has done, was because nothing should be said against her here,
and no scandal should be heard of.'
'That may be; but I'm off after her. Marry that girl I will.'
'You'll be sorry.'
'That we shall see,' replied Robert with determination; and he went
away rapidly towards the mill. The trumpet-major had no heart to
follow--no good could possibly come of further opposition; and there
on the down he remained like a graven image till Bob had vanished
from his sight into the mill.
Bob entered his father's only to leave word that he was going on a
renewed search for Matilda, and to pack up a few necessaries for his
journey. Ten minutes later he came out again with a bundle in his
hand, and John saw him go diagonally across the lower fields towards
'And this is all the good I have done!' said John, musingly
readjusting his stock where it cut his neck, and descending towards
XX. HOW THEY LESSENED THE EFFECT OF THE CALAMITY
Meanwhile Anne Garland had gone home, and, being weary with her
ramble in search of Matilda, sat silent in a corner of the room.
Her mother was passing the time in giving utterance to every
conceivable surmise on the cause of Miss Johnson's disappearance
that the human mind could frame, to which Anne returned monosyllabic
answers, the result, not of indifference, but of intense
preoccupation. Presently Loveday, the father, came to the door; her
mother vanished with him, and they remained closeted together a long
time. Anne went into the garden and seated herself beneath the
branching tree whose boughs had sheltered her during so many hours
of her residence here. Her attention was fixed more upon the
miller's wing of the irregular building before her than upon that
occupied by her mother, for she could not help expecting every
moment to see some one run out with a wild face and announce some
awful clearing up of the mystery.
Every sound set her on the alert, and hearing the tread of a horse
in the lane she looked round eagerly. Gazing at her over the hedge
was Festus Derriman, mounted on such an incredibly tall animal that
he could see to her very feet over the thick and broad thorn fence.
She no sooner recognized him than she withdrew her glance; but as
his eyes were fixed steadily upon her this was a futile manoeuvre.
'I saw you look round!' he exclaimed crossly. 'What have I done to
make you behave like that? Come, Miss Garland, be fair. 'Tis no
use to turn your back upon me.' As she did not turn he went on--
'Well, now, this is enough to provoke a saint. Now I tell you what,
Miss Garland; here I'll stay till you do turn round, if 'tis all the
afternoon. You know my temper--what I say I mean.' He seated
himself firmly in the saddle, plucked some leaves from the hedge,
and began humming a song, to show how absolutely indifferent he was
to the flight of time.
'What have you come for, that you are so anxious to see me?'
inquired Anne, when at last he had wearied her patience, rising and
facing him with the added independence which came from a sense of
the hedge between them.
'There, I knew you would turn round!' he said, his hot angry face
invaded by a smile in which his teeth showed like white hemmed in by
red at chess.
'What do you want, Mr. Derriman?' said she.
'"What do you want, Mr. Derriman?"--now listen to that! Is that my
Anne bowed superciliously, and moved away.
'I have just heard news that explains all that,' said the giant,
eyeing her movements with somnolent irascibility. 'My uncle has
been letting things out. He was here late last night, and he saw
'Indeed he didn't,' said Anne.
'O, now! He saw Trumpet-major Loveday courting somebody like you in
that garden walk; and when he came you ran indoors.'
'It is not true, and I wish to hear no more.'
'Upon my life, he said so! How can you do it, Miss Garland, when I,
who have enough money to buy up all the Lovedays, would gladly come
to terms with ye? What a simpleton you must be, to pass me over for
him! There, now you are angry because I said simpleton!--I didn't
mean simpleton, I meant misguided--misguided rosebud! That's it--
run off,' he continued in a raised voice, as Anne made towards the
garden door. 'But I'll have you yet. Much reason you have to be
too proud to stay with me. But it won't last long; I shall marry
you, madam, if I choose, as you'll see.'
When he was quite gone, and Anne had calmed down from the not
altogether unrelished fear and excitement that he always caused her,
she returned to her seat under the tree, and began to wonder what
Festus Derriman's story meant, which, from the earnestness of his
tone, did not seem like a pure invention. It suddenly flashed upon
her mind that she herself had heard voices in the garden, and that
the persons seen by Farmer Derriman, of whose visit and reclamation
of his box the miller had told her, might have been Matilda and John
Loveday. She further recalled the strange agitation of Miss Johnson
on the preceding evening, and that it occurred just at the entry of
the dragoon, till by degrees suspicion amounted to conviction that
he knew more than any one else supposed of that lady's
It was just at this time that the trumpet-major descended to the
mill after his talk with his brother on the down. As fate would
have it, instead of entering the house he turned aside to the garden
and walked down that pleasant enclosure, to learn if he were likely
to find in the other half of it the woman he loved so well.
Yes, there she was, sitting on the seat of logs that he had repaired
for her, under the apple-tree; but she was not facing in his
direction. He walked with a noisier tread, he coughed, he shook a
bough, he did everything, in short, but the one thing that Festus
did in the same circumstances--call out to her. He would not have
ventured on that for the world. Any of his signs would have been
sufficient to attract her a day or two earlier; now she would not
turn. At last, in his fond anxiety, he did what he had never done
before without an invitation, and crossed over into Mrs. Garland's
half of the garden, till he stood before her.
When she could not escape him she arose, and, saying 'Good
afternoon, trumpet-major,' in a glacial manner unusual with her,
walked away to another part of the garden.
Loveday, quite at a loss, had not the strength of mind to persevere
further. He had a vague apprehension that some imperfect knowledge
of the previous night's unhappy business had reached her; and,
unable to remedy the evil without telling more than he dared, he
went into the mill, where his father still was, looking doleful
enough, what with his concern at events and the extra quantity of
flour upon his face through sticking so closely to business that
'Well, John; Bob has told you all, of course? A queer, strange,
perplexing thing, isn't it? I can't make it out at all. There must
be something wrong in the woman, or it couldn't have happened. I
haven't been so upset for years.'
'Nor have I. I wouldn't it should have happened for all I own in
the world,' said the dragoon. 'Have you spoke to Anne Garland
to-day--or has anybody been talking to her?'
'Festus Derriman rode by half-an-hour ago, and talked to her over
John guessed the rest, and, after standing on the threshold in
silence awhile, walked away towards the camp.
All this time his brother Robert had been hastening along in pursuit
of the woman who had withdrawn from the scene to avoid the exposure
and complete overthrow which would have resulted had she remained.
As the distance lengthened between himself and the mill, Bob was
conscious of some cooling down of the excitement that had prompted
him to set out; but he did not pause in his walk till he had reached
the head of the river which fed the mill-stream. Here, for some
indefinite reason, he allowed his eyes to be attracted by the
bubbling spring whose waters never failed or lessened, and he
stopped as if to look longer at the scene; it was really because his
mind was so absorbed by John's story.
The sun was warm, the spot was a pleasant one, and he deposited his
bundle and sat down. By degrees, as he reflected, first on John's
view and then on his own, his convictions became unsettled; till at
length he was so balanced between the impulse to go on and the
impulse to go back, that a puff of wind either way would have been
well-nigh sufficient to decide for him. When he allowed John's
story to repeat itself in his ears, the reasonableness and good
sense of his advice seemed beyond question. When, on the other
hand, he thought of his poor Matilda's eyes, and her, to him,
pleasant ways, their charming arrangements to marry, and her
probable willingness still, he could hardly bring himself to do
otherwise than follow on the road at the top of his speed.
This strife of thought was so well maintained that sitting and
standing, he remained on the borders of the spring till the shadows
had stretched out eastwards, and the chance of overtaking Matilda
had grown considerably less. Still he did not positively go towards
home. At last he took a guinea from his pocket, and resolved to put
the question to the hazard. 'Heads I go; tails I don't.' The piece
of gold spun in the air and came down heads.
'No, I won't go, after all,' he said. 'I won't be steered by
accidents any more.'
He picked up his bundle and switch, and retraced his steps towards
Overcombe Mill, knocking down the brambles and nettles as he went
with gloomy and indifferent blows. When he got within sight of the
house he beheld David in the road.
'All right--all right again, captain!', shouted that retainer. 'A
wedding after all! Hurrah!'
'Ah--she's back again?' cried Bob, seizing David, ecstatically, and
dancing round with him.
'No--but it's all the same! it is of no consequence at all, and no
harm will be done! Maister and Mrs. Garland have made up a match,
and mean to marry at once, that the wedding victuals may not be
wasted! They felt 'twould be a thousand pities to let such good
things get blue-vinnied for want of a ceremony to use 'em upon, and
at last they have thought of this.'
'Victuals--I don't care for the victuals!' bitterly cried Bob, in a
tone of far higher thought. 'How you disappoint me!' and he went
slowly towards the house.
His father appeared in the opening of the mill-door, looking more
cheerful than when they had parted. 'What, Robert, you've been
after her?' he said. 'Faith, then, I wouldn't have followed her if
I had been as sure as you were that she went away in scorn of us.
Since you told me that, I have not looked for her at all.'
'I was wrong, father,' Bob replied gravely, throwing down his bundle
and stick. 'Matilda, I find, has not gone away in scorn of us; she
has gone away for other reasons. I followed her some way; but I
have come back again. She may go.'
'Why is she gone?' said the astonished miller.
Bob had intended, for Matilda's sake, to give no reason to a living
soul for her departure. But he could not treat his father thus
reservedly; and he told.
'She has made great fools of us,' said the miller deliberately; 'and
she might have made us greater ones. Bob, I thought th' hadst more
'Well, don't say anything against her, father,' implored Bob.
''Twas a sorry haul, and there's an end on't. Let her down quietly,
and keep the secret. You promise that?'
'I do.' Loveday the elder remained thinking awhile, and then went
on--'Well, what I was going to say is this: I've hit upon a plan to
get out of the awkward corner she has put us in. What you'll think
of it I can't say.'
'David has just given me the heads.'
'And do it hurt your feelings, my son, at such a time?'
'No--I'll bring myself to bear it, anyhow! Why should I object to
other people's happiness because I have lost my own?' said Bob, with
saintly self-sacrifice in his air.
'Well said!' answered the miller heartily. 'But you may be sure
that there will be no unseemly rejoicing, to disturb ye in your
present frame of mind. All the morning I felt more ashamed than I
cared to own at the thought of how the neighbours, great and small,
would laugh at what they would call your folly, when they knew what
had happened; so I resolved to take this step to stave it off, if so
be 'twas possible. And when I saw Mrs. Garland I knew I had done
right. She pitied me so much for having had the house cleaned in
vain, and laid in provisions to waste, that it put her into the
humour to agree. We mean to do it right off at once, afore the pies
and cakes get mouldy and the blackpot stale. 'Twas a good thought
of mine and hers, and I am glad 'tis settled,' he concluded
'Poor Matilda!' murmured Bob.
'There--I was afraid 'twould hurt thy feelings,' said the miller,
with self-reproach: 'making preparations for thy wedding, and using
them for my own!'
'No,' said Bob heroically; 'it shall not. It will be a great
comfort in my sorrow to feel that the splendid grub, and the ale,
and your stunning new suit of clothes, and the great table-cloths
you've bought, will be just as useful now as if I had married
myself. Poor Matilda! But you won't expect me to join in--you
hardly can. I can sheer off that day very easily, you know.'
'Nonsense, Bob!' said the miller reproachfully.
'I couldn't stand it--I should break down.'
'Deuce take me if I would have asked her, then, if I had known 'twas
going to drive thee out of the house! Now, come, Bob, I'll find a
way of arranging it and sobering it down, so that it shall be as
melancholy as you can require--in short, just like a funeral, if
thou'lt promise to stay?'
'Very well,' said the afflicted one. 'On that condition I'll stay.'
XXI. 'UPON THE HILL HE TURNED'
Having entered into this solemn compact with his son, the elder
Loveday's next action was to go to Mrs. Garland, and ask her how the
toning down of the wedding had best be done. 'It is plain enough
that to make merry just now would be slighting Bob's feelings, as if
we didn't care who was not married, so long as we were,' he said.
'But then, what's to be done about the victuals?'
'Give a dinner to the poor folk,' she suggested. 'We can get
everything used up that way.'
'That's true' said the miller. 'There's enough of 'em in these
times to carry off any extras whatsoever.'
'And it will save Bob's feelings wonderfully. And they won't know
that the dinner was got for another sort of wedding and another sort
of guests; so you'll have their good-will for nothing.'
The miller smiled at the subtlety of the view. 'That can hardly be
called fair,' he said. 'Still, I did mean some of it for them, for
the friends we meant to ask would not have cleared all.'
Upon the whole the idea pleased him well, particularly when he
noticed the forlorn look of his sailor son as he walked about the
place, and pictured the inevitably jarring effect of fiddles and
tambourines upon Bob's shattered nerves at such a crisis, even if
the notes of the former were dulled by the application of a mute,
and Bob shut up in a distant bedroom--a plan which had at first
occurred to him. He therefore told Bob that the surcharged larder
was to be emptied by the charitable process above alluded to, and
hoped he would not mind making himself useful in such a good and
gloomy work. Bob readily fell in with the scheme, and it was at
once put in hand and the tables spread.
The alacrity with which the substituted wedding was carried out,
seemed to show that the worthy pair of neighbours would have joined
themselves into one long ago, had there previously occurred any
domestic incident dictating such a step as an apposite expedient,
apart from their personal wish to marry.
The appointed morning came, and the service quietly took place at
the cheerful hour of ten, in the face of a triangular congregation,
of which the base was the front pew, and the apex the west door.
Mrs. Garland dressed herself in the muslin shawl like Queen
Charlotte's, that Bob had brought home, and her best plum-coloured
gown, beneath which peeped out her shoes with red rosettes. Anne
was present, but she considerately toned herself down, so as not to
too seriously damage her mother's appearance. At moments during the
ceremony she had a distressing sense that she ought not to be born,
and was glad to get home again.
The interest excited in the village, though real, was hardly enough
to bring a serious blush to the face of coyness. Neighbours' minds
had become so saturated by the abundance of showy military and regal
incident lately vouchsafed to them, that the wedding of middle-aged
civilians was of small account, excepting in so far that it solved
the question whether or not Mrs. Garland would consider herself too
genteel to mate with a grinder of corn.
In the evening, Loveday's heart was made glad by seeing the baked
and boiled in rapid process of consumption by the kitchenful of
people assembled for that purpose. Three-quarters of an hour were
sufficient to banish for ever his fears as to spoilt food. The
provisions being the cause of the assembly, and not its consequence,
it had been determined to get all that would not keep consumed on
that day, even if highways and hedges had to be searched for
operators. And, in addition to the poor and needy, every cottager's
daughter known to the miller was invited, and told to bring her
lover from camp--an expedient which, for letting daylight into the
inside of full platters, was among the most happy ever known.
While Mr. and Mrs. Loveday, Anne, and Bob were standing in the
parlour, discussing the progress of the entertainment in the next
room, John, who had not been down all day, entered the house and
looked in upon them through the open door.
'How's this, John? Why didn't you come before?'
'Had to see the captain, and--other duties,' said the trumpet-major,
in a tone which showed no great zeal for explanations.
'Well, come in, however,' continued the miller, as his son remained
with his hand on the door-post, surveying them reflectively.
'I cannot stay long,' said John, advancing. 'The Route is come, and
we are going away.'
'Going away! Where to?'
'All of you?'
'Yes; some to-morrow and some next day. The King goes next week.'
'I am sorry for this,' said the miller, not expressing half his
sorrow by the simple utterance. 'I wish you could have been here
to-day, since this is the case,' he added, looking at the horizon
through the window.
Mrs. Loveday also expressed her regret, which seemed to remind the
trumpet-major of the event of the day, and he went to her and tried
to say something befitting the occasion. Anne had not said that she
was either sorry or glad, but John Loveday fancied that she had
looked rather relieved than otherwise when she heard his news. His
conversation with Bob on the down made Bob's manner, too, remarkably
cool, notwithstanding that he had after all followed his brother's
advice, which it was as yet too soon after the event for him to
rightly value. John did not know why the sailor had come back,
never supposing that it was because he had thought better of going,
and said to him privately, 'You didn't overtake her?'
'I didn't try to,' said Bob.
'And you are not going to?'
'No; I shall let her drift.'
'I am glad indeed, Bob; you have been wise,' said John heartily.
Bob, however, still loved Matilda too well to be other than
dissatisfied with John and the event that he had precipitated, which
the elder brother only too promptly perceived; and it made his stay
that evening of short duration. Before leaving he said with some
hesitation to his father, including Anne and her mother by his
glance, 'Do you think to come up and see us off?'
The miller answered for them all, and said that of course they would
come. 'But you'll step down again between now and then?' he
'I'll try to.' He added after a pause, 'In case I should not,
remember that Revalley will sound at half past five; we shall leave
about eight. Next summer, perhaps, we shall come and camp here
'I hope so,' said his father and Mrs. Loveday.
There was something in John's manner which indicated to Anne that he
scarcely intended to come down again; but the others did not notice
it, and she said nothing. He departed a few minutes later, in the
dusk of the August evening, leaving Anne still in doubt as to the
meaning of his private meeting with Miss Johnson.
John Loveday had been going to tell them that on the last night, by
an especial privilege, it would be in his power to come and stay
with them until eleven o'clock, but at the moment of leaving he
abandoned the intention. Anne's attitude had chilled him, and made
him anxious to be off. He utilized the spare hours of that last
night in another way.
This was by coming down from the outskirts of the camp in the
evening, and seating himself near the brink of the mill-pond as soon
as it was quite dark; where he watched the lights in the different
windows till one appeared in Anne's bedroom, and she herself came
forward to shut the casement, with the candle in her hand. The
light shone out upon the broad and deep mill-head, illuminating to a
distinct individuality every moth and gnat that entered the
quivering chain of radiance stretching across the water towards him,
and every bubble or atom of froth that floated into its width. She
stood for some time looking out, little thinking what the darkness
concealed on the other side of that wide stream; till at length she
closed the casement, drew the curtains, and retreated into the room.
Presently the light went out, upon which John Loveday returned to
camp and lay down in his tent.
The next morning was dull and windy, and the trumpets of the --th
sounded Reveille for the last time on Overcombe Down. Knowing that
the Dragoons were going away, Anne had slept heedfully, and was at
once awakened by the smart notes. She looked out of the window, to
find that the miller was already astir, his white form being visible
at the end of his garden, where he stood motionless, watching the
preparations. Anne also looked on as well as she could through the
dim grey gloom, and soon she saw the blue smoke from the cooks'
fires creeping fitfully along the ground, instead of rising in
vertical columns, as it had done during the fine weather season.
Then the men began to carry their bedding to the waggons, and others
to throw all refuse into the trenches, till the down was lively as
an ant-hill. Anne did not want to see John Loveday again, but
hearing the household astir, she began to dress at leisure, looking
out at the camp the while.
When the soldiers had breakfasted, she saw them selling and giving
away their superfluous crockery to the natives who had clustered
round; and then they pulled down and cleared away the temporary
kitchens which they had constructed when they came. A tapping of
tent-pegs and wriggling of picket-posts followed, and soon the cones
of white canvas, now almost become a component part of the
landscape, fell to the ground. At this moment the miller came
indoors and asked at the foot of the stairs if anybody was going up
the hill with him.
Anne felt that, in spite of the cloud hanging over John in her mind,
it would ill become the present moment not to see him off, and she
went downstairs to her mother, who was already there, though Bob was
nowhere to be seen. Each took an arm of the miller, and thus
climbed to the top of the hill. By this time the men and horses
were at the place of assembly, and, shortly after the mill-party
reached level ground, the troops slowly began to move forward. When
the trumpet-major, half buried in his uniform, arms, and
horse-furniture, drew near to the spot where the Lovedays were
waiting to see him pass, his father turned anxiously to Anne and
said, 'You will shake hands with John?'
Anne faintly replied 'Yes,' and allowed the miller to take her
forward on his arm to the trackway, so as to be close to the flank
of the approaching column. It came up, many people on each side
grasping the hands of the troopers in bidding them farewell; and as
soon as John Loveday saw the members of his father's household, he
stretched down his hand across his right pistol for the same
performance. The miller gave his, then Mrs. Loveday gave hers, and
then the hand of the trumpet-major was extended towards Anne. But
as the horse did not absolutely stop, it was a somewhat awkward
performance for a young woman to undertake, and, more on that
account than on any other, Anne drew back, and the gallant trooper
passed by without receiving her adieu. Anne's heart reproached her
for a moment; and then she thought that, after all, he was not going
off to immediate battle, and that she would in all probability see
him again at no distant date, when she hoped that the mystery of his
conduct would be explained. Her thoughts were interrupted by a
voice at her elbow: 'Thank heaven, he's gone! Now there's a chance
She turned, and Festus Derriman was standing by her.
'There's no chance for you,' she said indignantly.
'Because there's another left!'
The words had slipped out quite unintentionally, and she blushed
quickly. She would have given anything to be able to recall them;
but he had heard, and said, 'Who?'
Anne went forward to the miller to avoid replying, and Festus caught
her no more.
'Has anybody been hanging about Overcombe Mill except Loveday's son
the soldier?' he asked of a comrade.
'His son the sailor,' was the reply.
'O--his son the sailor,' said Festus slowly. 'Damn his son the
XXII. THE TWO HOUSEHOLDS UNITED
At this particular moment the object of Festus Derriman's
fulmination was assuredly not dangerous as a rival. Bob, after
abstractedly watching the soldiers from the front of the house till
they were out of sight, had gone within doors and seated himself in
the mill-parlour, where his father found him, his elbows resting on
the table and his forehead on his hands, his eyes being fixed upon a
document that lay open before him.
'What art perusing, Bob, with such a long face?'
Bob sighed, and then Mrs. Loveday and Anne entered. ''Tis only a
state-paper that I fondly thought I should have a use for,' he said
gloomily. And, looking down as before, he cleared his voice, as if
moved inwardly to go on, and began to read in feeling tones from
what proved to be his nullified marriage licence:--
'"Timothy Titus Philemon, by permission Bishop of Bristol: To our
well-beloved Robert Loveday, of the parish of Overcombe, Bachelor;
and Matilda Johnson, of the same parish, Spinster. Greeting."'
Here Anne sighed, but contrived to keep down her sigh to a mere
'Beautiful language, isn't it!' said Bob. 'I was never greeted like
'Yes; I have often thought it very excellent language myself,' said
'Come to that, the old gentleman will greet thee like it again any
day for a couple of guineas,' said the miller.
'That's not the point, father! You never could see the real meaning
of these things. . . . Well, then he goes on: "Whereas ye are, as
it is alleged, determined to enter into the holy estate of
matrimony--" But why should I read on? It all means nothing now--
nothing, and the splendid words are all wasted upon air. It seems
as if I had been hailed by some venerable hoary prophet, and had
turned away, put the helm hard up, and wouldn't hear.'
Nobody replied, feeling probably that sympathy could not meet the
case, and Bob went on reading the rest of it to himself,
occasionally heaving a breath like the wind in a ship's shrouds.
'I wouldn't set my mind so much upon her, if I was thee,' said his
father at last.
'Well, folk might call thee a fool, and say thy brains were turning
Bob was apparently much struck by this thought, and, instead of
continuing the discourse further, he carefully folded up the
licence, went out, and walked up and down the garden. It was
startlingly apt what his father had said; and, worse than that, what
people would call him might be true, and the liquefaction of his
brains turn out to be no fable. By degrees he became much
concerned, and the more he examined himself by this new light the
more clearly did he perceive that he was in a very bad way.
On reflection he remembered that since Miss Johnson's departure his
appetite had decreased amazingly. He had eaten in meat no more than
fourteen or fifteen ounces a day, but one-third of a quartern
pudding on an average, in vegetables only a small heap of potatoes
and half a York cabbage, and no gravy whatever; which, considering
the usual appetite of a seaman for fresh food at the end of a long
voyage, was no small index of the depression of his mind. Then he
had waked once every night, and on one occasion twice. While
dressing each morning since the gloomy day he had not whistled more
than seven bars of a hornpipe without stopping and falling into
thought of a most painful kind; and he had told none but absolutely
true stories of foreign parts to the neighbouring villagers when
they saluted and clustered about him, as usual, for anything he
chose to pour forth--except that story of the whale whose eye was
about as large as the round pond in Derriman's ewe-lease--which was
like tempting fate to set a seal for ever upon his tongue as a
traveller. All this enervation, mental and physical, had been
produced by Matilda's departure.
He also considered what he had lost of the rational amusements of
manhood during these unfortunate days. He might have gone to the
neighbouring fashionable resort every afternoon, stood before
Gloucester Lodge till the King and Queen came out, held his hat in
his hand, and enjoyed their Majesties' smiles at his homage all for
nothing--watched the picket-mounting, heard the different bands
strike up, observed the staff; and, above all, have seen the pretty
town girls go trip-trip-trip along the esplanade, deliberately
fixing their innocent eyes on the distant sea, the grey cliffs, and
the sky, and accidentally on the soldiers and himself.
'I'll raze out her image,' he said. 'She shall make a fool of me no
more.' And his resolve resulted in conduct which had elements of
He went back to his father, whom he found in the mill-loft. ''Tis
true, father, what you say,' he observed: 'my brains will turn to
bilge-water if I think of her much longer. By the oath of a--
navigator, I wish I could sigh less and laugh more! She's gone--why
can't I let her go, and be happy? But how begin?'
'Take it careless, my son,' said the miller, 'and lay yourself out
to enjoy snacks and cordials.'
'Ah--that's a thought!' said Bob.
'Baccy is good for't. So is sperrits. Though I don't advise thee
to drink neat.'
'Baccy--I'd almost forgot it!' said Captain Loveday.
He went to his room, hastily untied the package of tobacco that he
had brought home, and began to make use of it in his own way,
calling to David for a bottle of the old household mead that had
lain in the cellar these eleven years. He was discovered by his
father three-quarters of an hour later as a half-invisible object
behind a cloud of smoke.
The miller drew a breath of relief. 'Why, Bob,' he said, 'I thought
the house was a-fire!'
'I'm smoking rather fast to drown my reflections, father. 'Tis no
use to chaw.'
To tempt his attenuated appetite the unhappy mate made David cook an
omelet and bake a seed-cake, the latter so richly compounded that it
opened to the knife like a freckled buttercup. With the same object
he stuck night-lines into the banks of the mill-pond, and drew up
next morning a family of fat eels, some of which were skinned and
prepared for his breakfast. They were his favourite fish, but such
had been his condition that, until the moment of making this effort,
he had quite forgotten their existence at his father's back-door.
In a few days Bob Loveday had considerably improved in tone and
vigour. One other obvious remedy for his dejection was to indulge
in the society of Miss Garland, love being so much more effectually
got rid of by displacement than by attempted annihilation. But
Loveday's belief that he had offended her beyond forgiveness, and
his ever-present sense of her as a woman who by education and
antecedents was fitted to adorn a higher sphere than his own,
effectually kept him from going near her for a long time,
notwithstanding that they were inmates of one house. The reserve
was, however, in some degree broken by the appearance one morning,
later in the season, of the point of a saw through the partition
which divided Anne's room from the Loveday half of the house.
Though she dined and supped with her mother and the Loveday family,
Miss Garland had still continued to occupy her old apartments,
because she found it more convenient there to pursue her hobbies of
wool-work and of copying her father's old pictures. The division
wall had not as yet been broken down.
As the saw worked its way downwards under her astonished gaze Anne
jumped up from her drawing; and presently the temporary canvasing
and papering which had sealed up the old door of communication was
cut completely through. The door burst open, and Bob stood revealed
on the other side, with the saw in his hand.
'I beg your ladyship's pardon,' he said, taking off the hat he had
been working in, as his handsome face expanded into a smile. 'I
didn't know this door opened into your private room.'
'Indeed, Captain Loveday!'
'I am pulling down the division on principle, as we are now one
family. But I really thought the door opened into your passage.'
'It don't matter; I can get another room.'
'Not at all. Father wouldn't let me turn you out. I'll close it up
But Anne was so interested in the novelty of a new doorway that she
walked through it, and found herself in a dark low passage which she
had never seen before.
'It leads to the mill,' said Bob. 'Would you like to go in and see
it at work? But perhaps you have already.'
'Only into the ground floor.'
'Come all over it. I am practising as grinder, you know, to help my
She followed him along the dark passage, in the side of which he
opened a little trap, when she saw a great slimy cavern, where the
long arms of the mill-wheel flung themselves slowly and distractedly
round, and splashing water-drops caught the little light that
strayed into the gloomy place, turning it into stars and flashes. A
cold mist-laden puff of air came into their faces, and the roar from
within made it necessary for Anne to shout as she said, 'It is
dismal! let us go on.'
Bob shut the trap, the roar ceased, and they went on to the inner
part of the mill, where the air was warm and nutty, and pervaded by
a fog of flour. Then they ascended the stairs, and saw the stones
lumbering round and round, and the yellow corn running down through
the hopper. They climbed yet further to the top stage, where the
wheat lay in bins, and where long rays like feelers stretched in
from the sun through the little window, got nearly lost among
cobwebs and timber, and completed their course by marking the
opposite wall with a glowing patch of gold.
In his earnestness as an exhibitor Bob opened the bolter, which was
spinning rapidly round, the result being that a dense cloud of flour
rolled out in their faces, reminding Anne that her complexion was
probably much paler by this time than when she had entered the mill.
She thanked her companion for his trouble, and said she would now go
down. He followed her with the same deference as hitherto, and with
a sudden and increasing sense that of all cures for his former
unhappy passion this would have been the nicest, the easiest, and
the most effectual, if he had only been fortunate enough to keep her
upon easy terms. But Miss Garland showed no disposition to go
further than accept his services as a guide; she descended to the
open air, shook the flour from her like a bird, and went on into the
garden amid the September sunshine, whose rays lay level across the
blue haze which the earth gave forth. The gnats were dancing up and
down in airy companies, the nasturtium flowers shone out in groups
from the dark hedge over which they climbed, and the mellow smell of
the decline of summer was exhaled by everything. Bob followed her
as far as the gate, looked after her, thought of her as the same
girl who had half encouraged him years ago, when she seemed so
superior to him; though now they were almost equal she apparently
thought him beneath her. It was with a new sense of pleasure that
his mind flew to the fact that she was now an inmate of his father's
His obsequious bearing was continued during the next week. In the
busy hours of the day they seldom met, but they regularly
encountered each other at meals, and these cheerful occasions began
to have an interest for him quite irrespective of dishes and cups.
When Anne entered and took her seat she was always loudly hailed by
Miller Loveday as he whetted his knife; but from Bob she
condescended to accept no such familiar greeting, and they often sat
down together as if each had a blind eye in the direction of the
other. Bob sometimes told serious and correct stories about sea-
captains, pilots, boatswains, mates, able seamen, and other curious
fauna of the marine world; but these were directly addressed to his
father and Mrs. Loveday, Anne being included at the clinching-point
by a glance only. He sometimes opened bottles of sweet cider for
her, and then she thanked him; but even this did not lead to her
encouraging his chat.
One day when Anne was paring an apple she was left at table with the
young man. 'I have made something for you,' he said.
She looked all over the table; nothing was there save the ordinary
'O I don't mean that it is here; it is out by the bridge at the
He arose, and Anne followed with curiosity in her eyes, and with her
firm little mouth pouted up to a puzzled shape. On reaching the
mossy mill-head she found that he had fixed in the keen damp draught
which always prevailed over the wheel an AEolian harp of large size.
At present the strings were partly covered with a cloth. He lifted
it, and the wires began to emit a weird harmony which mingled
curiously with the plashing of the wheel.
'I made it on purpose for you, Miss Garland,' he said.
She thanked him very warmly, for she had never seen anything like
such an instrument before, and it interested her. 'It was very
thoughtful of you to make it,' she added. 'How came you to think of
such a thing?'
'O I don't know exactly,' he replied, as if he did not care to be
questioned on the point. 'I have never made one in my life till
Every night after this, during the mournful gales of autumn, the
strange mixed music of water, wind, and strings met her ear,
swelling and sinking with an almost supernatural cadence. The
character of the instrument was far enough removed from anything she
had hitherto seen of Bob's hobbies; so that she marvelled pleasantly
at the new depths of poetry this contrivance revealed as existent in
that young seaman's nature, and allowed her emotions to flow out yet
a little further in the old direction, notwithstanding her late
severe resolve to bar them back.
One breezy night, when the mill was kept going into the small hours,
and the wind was exactly in the direction of the water-current, the
music so mingled with her dreams as to wake her: it seemed to
rhythmically set itself to the words, 'Remember me! think of me!'
She was much impressed; the sounds were almost too touching; and she
spoke to Bob the next morning on the subject.
'How strange it is that you should have thought of fixing that harp
where the water gushes!' she gently observed. 'It affects me almost
painfully at night. You are poetical, Captain Bob. But it is too--
'I will take it away,' said Captain Bob promptly. 'It certainly is
too sad; I thought so myself. I myself was kept awake by it one
'How came you to think of making such a peculiar thing?'
'Well,' said Bob, 'it is hardly worth saying why. It is not a good
place for such a queer noisy machine; and I'll take it away.'
'On second thoughts,' said Anne, 'I should like it to remain a
little longer, because it sets me thinking.'
'Of me?' he asked with earnest frankness.
Anne's colour rose fast.
'Well, yes,' she said, trying to infuse much plain matter-of-fact
into her voice. 'Of course I am led to think of the person who
Bob seemed unaccountably embarrassed, and the subject was not
pursued. About half-an-hour later he came to her again, with
something of an uneasy look.
'There was a little matter I didn't tell you just now, Miss
Garland,' he said. 'About that harp thing, I mean. I did make it,
certainly, but it was my brother John who asked me to do it, just
before he went away. John is very musical, as you know, and he said
it would interest you; but as he didn't ask me to tell, I did not.
Perhaps I ought to have, and not have taken the credit to myself.'
'O, it is nothing!' said Anne quickly. 'It is a very incomplete
instrument after all, and it will be just as well for you to take it
away as you first proposed.'
He said that he would, but he forgot to do it that day; and the
following night there was a high wind, and the harp cried and moaned
so movingly that Anne, whose window was quite near, could hardly
bear the sound with its new associations. John Loveday was present
to her mind all night as an ill-used man; and yet she could not own
that she had ill-used him.
The harp was removed next day. Bob, feeling that his credit for
originality was damaged in her eyes, by way of recovering it set
himself to paint the summer-house which Anne frequented, and when he
came out he assured her that it was quite his own idea.
'It wanted doing, certainly,' she said, in a neutral tone.
'It is just about troublesome.'
'Yes; you can't quite reach up. That's because you are not very
tall; is it not, Captain Loveday?'
'You never used to say things like that.'
'O, I don't mean that you are much less than tall! Shall I hold the
paint for you, to save your stepping down?'
'Thank you, if you would.'
She took the paint-pot, and stood looking at the brush as it moved
up and down in his hand.
'I hope I shall not sprinkle your fingers,' he observed as he
'O, that would not matter! You do it very well.'
'I am glad to hear that you think so.'
'But perhaps not quite so much art is demanded to paint a
summer-house as to paint a picture?'
Thinking that, as a painter's daughter, and a person of education
superior to his own, she spoke with a flavour of sarcasm, he felt
humbled and said--
'You did not use to talk like that to me.'
'I was perhaps too young then to take any pleasure in giving pain,'
she observed daringly.
'Does it give you pleasure?'
'I like to give pain to people who have given pain to me,' she said
smartly, without removing her eyes from the green liquid in her
'I ask your pardon for that.'
'I didn't say I meant you--though I did mean you.'
Bob looked and looked at her side face till he was bewitched into
putting down his brush.
'It was that stupid forgetting of 'ee for a time!' he exclaimed.
'Well, I hadn't seen you for so very long--consider how many years!
O, dear Anne!' he said, advancing to take her hand, 'how well we
knew one another when we were children! You was a queen to me then;
and so you are now, and always.'
Possibly Anne was thrilled pleasantly enough at having brought the
truant village lad to her feet again; but he was not to find the
situation so easy as he imagined, and her hand was not to be taken
'Very pretty!' she said, laughing. 'And only six weeks since Miss
'Zounds, don't say anything about that!' implored Bob. 'I swear
that I never--never deliberately loved her--for a long time
together, that is; it was a sudden sort of thing, you know. But
towards you--I have more or less honoured and respectfully loved
you, off and on, all my life. There, that's true.'
Anne retorted quickly--
'I am willing, off and on, to believe you, Captain Robert. But I
don't see any good in your making these solemn declarations.'
'Give me leave to explain, dear Miss Garland. It is to get you to
be pleased to renew an old promise--made years ago--that you'll
think o' me.'
'Not a word of any promise will I repeat.'
'Well, well, I won't urge 'ee today. Only let me beg of you to get
over the quite wrong notion you have of me; and it shall be my whole
endeavour to fetch your gracious favour.'
Anne turned away from him and entered the house, whither in the
course of a quarter of an hour he followed her, knocking at her
door, and asking to be let in. She said she was busy; whereupon he
went away, to come back again in a short time and receive the same
'I have finished painting the summer-house for you,' he said through
'I cannot come to see it. I shall be engaged till supper-time.'
She heard him breathe a heavy sigh and withdraw, murmuring something
about his bad luck in being cut away from the starn like this. But
it was not over yet. When supper-time came and they sat down
together, she took upon herself to reprove him for what he had said
to her in the garden.
Bob made his forehead express despair.
'Now, I beg you this one thing,' he said. 'Just let me know your
whole mind. Then I shall have a chance to confess my faults and
mend them, or clear my conduct to your satisfaction.'
She answered with quickness, but not loud enough to be heard by the
old people at the other end of the table--'Then, Captain Loveday, I
will tell you one thing, one fault, that perhaps would have been
more proper to my character than to yours. You are too easily
impressed by new faces, and that gives me a BAD OPINION of you--yes,
a BAD OPINION.'
'O, that's it!' said Bob slowly, looking at her with the intense
respect of a pupil for a master, her words being spoken in a manner
so precisely between jest and earnest that he was in some doubt how
they were to be received. 'Impressed by new faces. It is wrong,
certainly, of me.'
The popping of a cork, and the pouring out of strong beer by the
miller with a view to giving it a head, were apparently distractions
sufficient to excuse her in not attending further to him; and during
the remainder of the sitting her gentle chiding seemed to be sinking
seriously into his mind. Perhaps her own heart ached to see how
silent he was; but she had always meant to punish him. Day after
day for two or three weeks she preserved the same demeanour, with a
self-control which did justice to her character. And, on his part,
considering what he had to put up with--how she eluded him, snapped
him off, refused to come out when he called her, refused to see him
when he wanted to enter the little parlour which she had now
appropriated to her private use, his patience testified strongly to
XXIII. MILITARY PREPARATIONS ON AN EXTENDED SCALE
Christmas had passed. Dreary winter with dark evenings had given
place to more dreary winter with light evenings. Rapid thaws had
ended in rain, rain in wind, wind in dust. Showery days had come--
the season of pink dawns and white sunsets; and people hoped that
the March weather was over.
The chief incident that concerned the household at the mill was that
the miller, following the example of all his neighbours, had become
a volunteer, and duly appeared twice a week in a red, long-tailed
military coat, pipe-clayed breeches, black cloth gaiters, a
heel-balled helmet-hat, with a tuft of green wool, and epaulettes of
the same colour and material. Bob still remained neutral. Not
being able to decide whether to enrol himself as a sea-fencible, a
local militia-man, or a volunteer, he simply went on dancing
attendance upon Anne. Mrs. Loveday had become awake to the fact
that the pair of young people stood in a curious attitude towards
each other; but as they were never seen with their heads together,
and scarcely ever sat even in the same room, she could not be sure
what their movements meant.
Strangely enough (or perhaps naturally enough), since entering the
Loveday family herself, she had gradually grown to think less
favourably of Anne doing the same thing, and reverted to her
original idea of encouraging Festus; this more particularly because
he had of late shown such perseverance in haunting the precincts of
the mill, presumably with the intention of lighting upon the young
girl. But the weather had kept her mostly indoors.
One afternoon it was raining in torrents. Such leaves as there were
on trees at this time of year--those of the laurel and other
evergreens--staggered beneath the hard blows of the drops which fell
upon them, and afterwards could be seen trickling down the stems
beneath and silently entering the ground. The surface of the
mill-pond leapt up in a thousand spirts under the same downfall, and
clucked like a hen in the rat-holes along the banks as it undulated
under the wind. The only dry spot visible from the front windows of
the mill-house was the inside of a small shed, on the opposite side
of the courtyard. While Mrs. Loveday was noticing the threads of
rain descending across its interior shade, Festus Derriman walked up
and entered it for shelter, which, owing to the lumber within, it
but scantily afforded to a man who would have been a match for one
of Frederick William's Patagonians.
It was an excellent opportunity for helping on her scheme. Anne was
in the back room, and by asking him in till the rain was over she
would bring him face to face with her daughter, whom, as the days
went on, she increasingly wished to marry other than a Loveday, now
that the romance of her own alliance with the millet had in some
respects worn off. She was better provided for than before; she was
not unhappy; but the plain fact was that she had married beneath
her. She beckoned to Festus through the window-pane; he instantly
complied with her signal, having in fact placed himself there on
purpose to be noticed; for he knew that Miss Garland would not be
out-of-doors on such a day.
'Good afternoon, Mrs. Loveday,' said Festus on entering. 'There
now--if I didn't think that's how it would be!' His voice had
suddenly warmed to anger, for he had seen a door close in the back
part of the room, a lithe figure having previously slipped through.
Mrs. Loveday turned, observed that Anne was gone, and said, 'What is
it?' as if she did not know.
'O, nothing, nothing!' said Festus crossly. 'You know well enough
what it is, ma'am; only you make pretence otherwise. But I'll bring
her to book yet. You shall drop your haughty airs, my charmer! She
little thinks I have kept an account of 'em all.'
'But you must treat her politely, sir,' said Mrs. Loveday, secretly
pleased at these signs of uncontrollable affection.
'Don't tell me of politeness or generosity, ma'am! She is more than
a match for me. She regularly gets over me. I have passed by this
house five-and-fifty times since last Martinmas, and this is all my
'But you will stay till the rain is over, sir?'
'No. I don't mind rain. I'm off again. She's got somebody else in
her eye!' And the yeoman went out, slamming the door.
Meanwhile the slippery object of his hopes had gone along the dark
passage, passed the trap which opened on the wheel, and through the
door into the mill, where she was met by Bob, who looked up from the
flour-shoot inquiringly and said, 'You want me, Miss Garland?'
'O no,' said she. 'I only want to be allowed to stand here a few
He looked at her to know if she meant it, and finding that she did,
returned to his post. When the mill had rumbled on a little longer
he came back.
'Bob,' she said, when she saw him move, 'remember that you are at
work, and have no time to stand close to me.'
He bowed and went to his original post again, Anne watching from the
window till Festus should leave. The mill rumbled on as before, and
at last Bob came to her for the third time. 'Now, Bob--' she began.
'On my honour, 'tis only to ask a question. Will you walk with me
to church next Sunday afternoon?'
'Perhaps I will,' she said. But at this moment the yeoman left the
house, and Anne, to escape further parley, returned to the dwelling
by the way she had come.
Sunday afternoon arrived, and the family was standing at the door
waiting for the church bells to begin. From that side of the house
they could see southward across a paddock to the rising ground
further ahead, where there grew a large elm-tree, beneath whose
boughs footpaths crossed in different directions, like meridians at
the pole. The tree was old, and in summer the grass beneath it was
quite trodden away by the feet of the many trysters and idlers who
haunted the spot. The tree formed a conspicuous object in the
While they looked, a foot soldier in red uniform and white breeches
came along one of the paths, and stopping beneath the elm, took from
his pocket a paper, which he proceeded to nail up by the four
corners to the trunk. He drew back, looked at it, and went on his
way. Bob got his glass from indoors and levelled it at the placard,
but after looking for a long time he could make out nothing but a
lion and a unicorn at the top. Anne, who was ready for church,
moved away from the door, though it was yet early, and showed her
intention of going by way of the elm. The paper had been so
impressively nailed up that she was curious to read it even at this
theological time. Bob took the opportunity of following, and
reminded her of her promise.
'Then walk behind me not at all close,' she said.
'Yes,' he replied, immediately dropping behind.
The ludicrous humility of his manner led her to add playfully over
her shoulder, 'It serves you right, you know.'
'I deserve anything, but I must take the liberty to say that I hope
my behaviour about Matil--, in forgetting you awhile, will not make
ye wish to keep me ALWAYS behind?'
She replied confidentially, 'Why I am so earnest not to be seen with
you is that I may appear to people to be independent of you.
Knowing what I do of your weaknesses I can do no otherwise. You
must be schooled into--'
'O, Anne,' sighed Bob, 'you hit me hard--too hard! If ever I do win
you I am sure I shall have fairly earned you.'
'You are not what you once seemed to be,' she returned softly. 'I
don't quite like to let myself love you.' The last words were not
very audible, and as Bob was behind he caught nothing of them, nor
did he see how sentimental she had become all of a sudden. They
walked the rest of the way in silence, and coming to the tree read
ADDRESS TO ALL RANKS AND DESCRIPTIONS OF ENGLISHMEN.
FRIENDS AND COUNTRYMEN,--The French are now assembling the largest
force that ever was prepared to invade this Kingdom, with the
professed purpose of effecting our complete Ruin and Destruction.
They do not disguise their intentions, as they have often done to
other Countries; but openly boast that they will come over in such
Numbers as cannot be resisted.
Wherever the French have lately appeared they have spared neither
Rich nor Poor, Old nor Young; but like a Destructive Pestilence have
laid waste and destroyed every Thing that before was fair and
On this occasion no man's service is compelled, but you are invited
voluntarily to come forward in defence of everything that is dear to
you, by entering your Names on the Lists which are sent to the
Tything-man of every Parish, and engaging to act either as
ASSOCIATED VOLUNTEERS BEARING ARMS, AS PIONEERS AND LABOURERS, or as
DRIVERS OF WAGGONS.
As Associated Volunteers you will be called out only once a week,
unless the actual Landing of the Enemy should render your further
As Pioneers or Labourers you will be employed in Breaking up Roads
to hinder the Enemy's advance.
Those who have Pickaxes, Spades, Shovels, Bill-hooks, or other
Working Implements, are desired to mention them to the Constable or
Tything-man of their Parish, in order that they may be entered on
the Lists opposite their Homes, to be used if necessary. . . .
It is thought desirable to give you this Explanation, that you may
not be ignorant of the Duties to which you may be called. But if
the love of true Liberty and honest Fame has not ceased to animate
the Hearts of Englishmen, Pay, though necessary, will be the least
Part of your Reward. You will find your best Recompense in having
done your Duty to your King and Country by driving back or
destroying your old and implacable Enemy, envious of your Freedom
and Happiness, and therefore seeking to destroy them; in having
protected your Wives and Children from Death, or worse than Death,
which will follow the Success of such Inveterate Foes.
ROUSE, therefore, and unite as one man in the best of Causes!
United we may defy the World to conquer us; but Victory will never
belong to those who are slothful and unprepared. *
* Vide Preface.
'I must go and join at once!' said Bob.
Anne turned to him, all the playfulness gone from her face. 'I wish
we lived in the north of England, Bob, so as to be further away from
where he'll land!' she murmured uneasily.
'Where we are would be Paradise to me, if you would only make it
'It is not right to talk so lightly at such a serious time,' she
thoughtfully returned, going on towards the church.
On drawing near, they saw through the boughs of a clump of
intervening trees, still leafless, but bursting into buds of amber
hue, a glittering which seemed to be reflected from points of steel.
In a few moments they heard above the tender chiming of the church
bells the loud voice of a man giving words of command, at which all
the metallic points suddenly shifted like the bristles of a
porcupine, and glistened anew.
''Tis the drilling,' said Loveday. 'They drill now between the
services, you know, because they can't get the men together so
readily in the week. It makes me feel that I ought to be doing more
than I am!'
When they had passed round the belt of trees, the company of
recruits became visible, consisting of the able-bodied inhabitants
of the hamlets thereabout, more or less known to Bob and Anne. They
were assembled on the green plot outside the churchyard-gate,
dressed in their common clothes, and the sergeant who had been
putting them through their drill was the man who nailed up the
proclamation. He was now engaged in untying a canvas money-bag,
from which he drew forth a handful of shillings, giving one to each
man in payment for his attendance.
'Men, I dismissed ye too soon--parade, parade again, I say,' he
cried. 'My watch is fast, I find. There's another twenty minutes
afore the worship of God commences. Now all of you that ha'n't got
firelocks, fall in at the lower end. Eyes right and dress!'
As every man was anxious to see how the rest stood, those at the end
of the line pressed forward for that purpose, till the line assumed
the form of a bow.
'Look at ye now! Why, you are all a crooking in! Dress, dress!'
They dressed forthwith; but impelled by the same motive they soon
resumed their former figure, and so they were despairingly permitted
'Now, I hope you'll have a little patience,' said the sergeant, as
he stood in the centre of the arc, 'and pay strict attention to the
word of command, just exactly as I give it out to ye; and if I
should go wrong, I shall be much obliged to any friend who'll put me
right again, for I have only been in the army three weeks myself,
and we are all liable to mistakes.'
'So we be, so we be,' said the line heartily.
''Tention, the whole, then. Poise fawlocks! Very well done!'
'Please, what must we do that haven't got no firelocks!' said the
lower end of the line in a helpless voice.
'Now, was ever such a question! Why, you must do nothing at all,
but think HOW you'd poise 'em IF you had 'em. You middle men, that
are armed with hurdle-sticks and cabbage-stumps just to
make-believe, must of course use 'em as if they were the real thing.
Now then, cock fawlocks! Present! Fire! (Pretend to, I mean, and
the same time throw yer imagination into the field o' battle.) Very
good--very good indeed; except that some of you were a LITTLE too
soon, and the rest a LITTLE too late.'
'Please, sergeant, can I fall out, as I am master-player in the
choir, and my bass-viol strings won't stand at this time o' year,
unless they be screwed up a little before the passon comes in?'
'How can you think of such trifles as churchgoing at such a time as
this, when your own native country is on the point of invasion?'
said the sergeant sternly. 'And, as you know, the drill ends three
minutes afore church begins, and that's the law, and it wants a
quarter of an hour yet. Now, at the word PRIME, shake the powder
(supposing you've got it) into the priming-pan, three last fingers
behind the rammer; then shut your pans, drawing your right arm
nimble-like towards your body. I ought to have told ye before this,
that at HAND YOUR KATRIDGE, seize it and bring it with a quick
motion to your mouth, bite the top well off, and don't swaller so
much of the powder as to make ye hawk and spet instead of attending
to your drill. What's that man a-saying of in the rear rank?'
'Please, sir, 'tis Anthony Cripplestraw, wanting to know how he's to
bite off his katridge, when he haven't a tooth left in 's head?'
'Man! Why, what's your genius for war? Hold it up to your
right-hand man's mouth, to be sure, and let him nip it off for ye.
Well, what have you to say, Private Tremlett? Don't ye understand
'Ask yer pardon, sergeant; but what must we infantry of the awkward
squad do if Boney comes afore we get our firelocks?'
'Take a pike, like the rest of the incapables. You'll find a store
of them ready in the corner of the church tower. Now then--
'There, they be tinging in the passon!' exclaimed David, Miller
Loveday's man, who also formed one of the company, as the bells
changed from chiming all three together to a quick beating of one.
The whole line drew a breath of relief, threw down their arms, and
began running off.
'Well, then, I must dismiss ye,' said the sergeant. 'Come back--
come back! Next drill is Tuesday afternoon at four. And, mind, if
your masters won't let ye leave work soon enough, tell me, and I'll
write a line to Gover'ment! 'Tention! To the right--left wheel, I
mean--no, no--right wheel. Mar--r--r--rch!'
Some wheeled to the right and some to the left, and some obliging
men, including Cripplestraw, tried to wheel both ways.
'Stop, stop; try again! 'Cruits and comrades, unfortunately when
I'm in a hurry I can never remember my right hand from my left, and
never could as a boy. You must excuse me, please. Practice makes
perfect, as the saying is; and, much as I've learnt since I 'listed,
we always find something new. Now then, right wheel! march! halt!
Stand at ease! dismiss! I think that's the order o't, but I'll look
in the Gover'ment book afore Tuesday.' *
* Vide Preface
Many of the company who had been drilled preferred to go off and
spend their shillings instead of entering the church; but Anne and
Captain Bob passed in. Even the interior of the sacred edifice was
affected by the agitation of the times. The religion of the country
had, in fact, changed from love of God to hatred of Napoleon
Buonaparte; and, as if to remind the devout of this alteration, the
pikes for the pikemen (all those accepted men who were not otherwise
armed) were kept in the church of each parish. There, against the
wall, they always stood--a whole sheaf of them, formed of new ash
stems, with a spike driven in at one end, the stick being preserved
from splitting by a ferule. And there they remained, year after
year, in the corner of the aisle, till they were removed and placed
under the gallery stairs, and thence ultimately to the belfry, where
they grew black, rusty, and worm-eaten, and were gradually stolen
and carried off by sextons, parish clerks, whitewashers,
window-menders, and other church servants for use at home as
rake-stems, benefit-club staves, and pick-handles, in which degraded
situations they may still occasionally be found.
But in their new and shining state they had a terror for Anne, whose
eyes were involuntarily drawn towards them as she sat at Bob's side
during the service, filling her with bloody visions of their
possible use not far from the very spot on which they were now
assembled. The sermon, too, was on the subject of patriotism; so
that when they came out she began to harp uneasily upon the
probability of their all being driven from their homes.
Bob assured her that with the sixty thousand regulars, the militia
reserve of a hundred and twenty thousand, and the three hundred
thousand volunteers, there was not much to fear.
'But I sometimes have a fear that poor John will be killed,' he
continued after a pause. 'He is sure to be among the first that
will have to face the invaders, and the trumpeters get picked off.'
'There is the same chance for him as for the others,' said Anne.
'Yes--yes--the same chance, such as it is. You have never liked
John since that affair of Matilda Johnson, have you?'
'Why?' she quickly asked.
'Well,' said Bob timidly, 'as it is a ticklish time for him, would
it not be worth while to make up any differences before the crash
'I have nothing to make up,' said Anne, with some distress. She
still fully believed the trumpet-major to have smuggled away Miss
Johnson because of his own interest in that lady, which must have
made his professions to herself a mere pastime; but that very
conduct had in it the curious advantage to herself of setting Bob
'Since John has been gone,' continued her companion, 'I have found
out more of his meaning, and of what he really had to do with that
woman's flight. Did you know that he had anything to do with it?'
'That he got her to go away?'
She looked at Bob with surprise. He was not exasperated with John,
and yet he knew so much as this.
'Yes,' she said; 'what did it mean?'
He did not explain to her then; but the possibility of John's death,
which had been newly brought home to him by the military events of
the day, determined him to get poor John's character cleared.
Reproaching himself for letting her remain so long with a mistaken
idea of him, Bob went to his father as soon as they got home, and
begged him to get Mrs. Loveday to tell Anne the true reason of
John's objection to Miss Johnson as a sister-in-law.
'She thinks it is because they were old lovers new met, and that he
wants to marry her,' he exclaimed to his father in conclusion.
'Then THAT'S the meaning of the split between Miss Nancy and Jack,'
said the miller.
'What, were they any more than common friends?' asked Bob uneasily.
'Not on her side, perhaps.'
'Well, we must do it,' replied Bob, painfully conscious that common
justice to John might bring them into hazardous rivalry, yet
determined to be fair. 'Tell it all to Mrs. Loveday, and get her to
XXIV. A LETTER, A VISITOR, AND A TIN BOX
The result of the explanation upon Anne was bitter self-reproach.
She was so sorry at having wronged the kindly soldier that next
morning she went by herself to the down, and stood exactly where his
tent had covered the sod on which he had lain so many nights,
thinking what sadness he must have suffered because of her at the
time of packing up and going away. After that she wiped from her
eyes the tears of pity which had come there, descended to the house,
and wrote an impulsive letter to him, in which occurred the
following passages, indiscreet enough under the circumstances:--
'I find all justice, all rectitude, on your side, John; and all
impertinence, all inconsiderateness, on mine. I am so much
convinced of your honour in the whole transaction, that I shall for
the future mistrust myself in everything. And if it be possible,
whenever I differ from you on any point I shall take an hour's time
for consideration before I say that I differ. If I have lost your
friendship, I have only myself to thank for it; but I sincerely hope
that you can forgive.'
After writing this she went to the garden, where Bob was shearing
the spring grass from the paths. 'What is John's direction?' she
said, holding the sealed letter in her hand.
'Exonbury Barracks,' Bob faltered, his countenance sinking.
She thanked him and went indoors. When he came in, later in the
day, he passed the door of her empty sitting-room and saw the letter
on the mantelpiece. He disliked the sight of it. Hearing voices in
the other room, he entered and found Anne and her mother there,
talking to Cripplestraw, who had just come in with a message from
Squire Derriman, requesting Miss Garland, as she valued the peace of
mind of an old and troubled man, to go at once and see him.
'I cannot go,' she said, not liking the risk that such a visit
An hour later Cripplestraw shambled again into the passage, on the
'Maister's very poorly, and he hopes that you'll come, Mis'ess Anne.
He wants to see 'ee very particular about the French.'
Anne would have gone in a moment, but for the fear that some one
besides the farmer might encounter her, and she answered as before.
Another hour passed, and the wheels of a vehicle were heard.
Cripplestraw had come for the third time, with a horse and gig; he
was dressed in his best clothes, and brought with him on this
occasion a basket containing raisins, almonds, oranges, and sweet
cakes. Offering them to her as a gift from the old farmer, he
repeated his request for her to accompany him, the gig and best mare
having been sent as an additional inducement.
'I believe the old gentleman is in love with you, Anne,' said her
'Why couldn't he drive down himself to see me?' Anne inquired of
'He wants you at the house, please.'
'Is Mr. Festus with him?'
'No; he's away to Budmouth.'
'I'll go,' said she.
'And I may come and meet you?' said Bob.
'There's my letter--what shall I do about that?' she said, instead
of answering him. 'Take my letter to the post-office, and you may
come,' she added.
He said yes and went out, Cripplestraw retreating to the door till
she should be ready.
'What letter is it?' said her mother.
'Only one to John,' said Anne. 'I have asked him to forgive my
suspicions. I could do no less.'
'Do you want to marry HIM?' asked Mrs. Loveday bluntly.
'Well; he will take that letter as an encouragement. Can't you see
that he will, you foolish girl?'
Anne did see instantly. 'Of course!' she said. 'Tell Robert that
he need not go.'
She went to her room to secure the letter. It was gone from the
mantelpiece, and on inquiry it was found that the miller, seeing it
there, had sent David with it to Budmouth hours ago. Anne said
nothing, and set out for Oxwell Hall with Cripplestraw.
'William,' said Mrs. Loveday to the miller when Anne was gone and
Bob had resumed his work in the garden, 'did you get that letter
sent off on purpose?'
'Well, I did. I wanted to make sure of it. John likes her, and now
'twill be made up; and why shouldn't he marry her? I'll start him
in business, if so be she'll have him.'
'But she is likely to marry Festus Derriman.'
'I don't want her to marry anybody but John,' said the miller
'Not if she is in love with Bob, and has been for years, and he with
her?' asked his wife triumphantly.
'In love with Bob, and he with her?' repeated Loveday.
'Certainly,' said she, going off and leaving him to his reflections.
When Anne reached the hall she found old Mr. Derriman in his
customary chair. His complexion was more ashen, but his movement in
rising at her entrance, putting a chair and shutting the door behind
her, were much the same as usual.
'Thank God you've come, my dear girl,' he said earnestly. 'Ah, you
don't trip across to read to me now! Why did ye cost me so much to
fetch you? Fie! A horse and gig, and a man's time in going three
times. And what I sent ye cost a good deal in Budmouth market, now
everything is so dear there, and 'twould have cost more if I hadn't
bought the raisins and oranges some months ago, when they were
cheaper. I tell you this because we are old friends, and I have
nobody else to tell my troubles to. But I don't begrudge anything
to ye since you've come.'
'I am not much pleased to come, even now,' said she. 'What can make
you so seriously anxious to see me?'
'Well, you be a good girl and true; and I've been thinking that of
all people of the next generation that I can trust, you are the
best. 'Tis my bonds and my title-deeds, such as they be, and the
leases, you know, and a few guineas in packets, and more than these,
my will, that I have to speak about. Now do ye come this way.'
'O, such things as those!' she returned, with surprise. 'I don't
understand those things at all.'
'There's nothing to understand. 'Tis just this. The French will be
here within two months; that's certain. I have it on the best
authority, that the army at Boulogne is ready, the boats equipped,
the plans laid, and the First Consul only waits for a tide. Heaven
knows what will become o' the men o' these parts! But most likely
the women will he spared. Now I'll show 'ee.'
He led her across the hall to a stone staircase of semi-circular
plan, which conducted to the cellars.
'Down here?' she said.
'Yes; I must trouble ye to come down here. I have thought and
thought who is the woman that can best keep a secret for six months,
and I say, "Anne Garland." You won't be married before then?'
'O no!' murmured the young woman.
'I wouldn't expect ye to keep a close tongue after such a thing as
that. But it will not be necessary.'
When they reached the bottom of the steps he struck a light from a
tinder-box, and unlocked the middle one of three doors which
appeared in the whitewashed wall opposite. The rays of the candle
fell upon the vault and sides of a long low cellar, littered with
decayed woodwork from other parts of the hall, among the rest stair-
balusters, carved finials, tracery panels, and wainscoting. But
what most attracted her eye was a small flagstone turned up in the
middle of the floor, a heap of earth beside it, and a
measuring-tape. Derriman went to the corner of the cellar, and
pulled out a clamped box from under the straw. 'You be rather
heavy, my dear, eh?' he said, affectionately addressing the box as
he lifted it. 'But you are going to be put in a safe place, you
know, or that rascal will get hold of ye, and carry ye off and ruin
me.' He then with some difficulty lowered the box into the hole,
raked in the earth upon it, and lowered the flagstone, which he was
a long time in fixing to his satisfaction. Miss Garland, who was
romantically interested, helped him to brush away the fragments of
loose earth; and when he had scattered over the floor a little of
the straw that lay about, they again ascended to upper air.
'Is this all, sir?' said Anne.
'Just a moment longer, honey. Will you come into the great
She followed him thither.
'If anything happens to me while the fighting is going on--it may be
on these very fields--you will know what to do,' he resumed. 'But
first please sit down again, there's a dear, whilst I write what's
in my head. See, there's the best paper, and a new quill that I've
afforded myself for't.'
'What a strange business! I don't think I much like it, Mr.
Derriman,' she said, seating herself.
He had by this time begun to write, and murmured as he wrote--
'"Twenty-three and a half from N.W. Sixteen and three-quarters from
N.E."--There, that's all. Now I seal it up and give it to you to
keep safe till I ask ye for it, or you hear of my being trampled
down by the enemy.'
'What does it mean?' she asked, as she received the paper.
'Clk! Ha! ha! Why, that's the distance of the box from the two
corners of the cellar. I measured it before you came. And, my
honey, to make all sure, if the French soldiery are after ye, tell
your mother the meaning on't, or any other friend, in case they
should put ye to death, and the secret be lost. But that I am sure
I hope they won't do, though your pretty face will be a sad bait to
the soldiers. I often have wished you was my daughter, honey; and
yet in these times the less cares a man has the better, so I am glad
you bain't. Shall my man drive you home?'
'No, no,' she said, much depressed by the words he had uttered. 'I
can find my way. You need not trouble to come down.'
'Then take care of the paper. And if you outlive me, you'll find I
have not forgot you.'
XXV. FESTUS SHOWS HIS LOVE
Festus Derriman had remained in the Royal watering-place all that
day, his horse being sick at stables; but, wishing to coax or bully
from his uncle a remount for the coming summer, he set off on foot
for Oxwell early in the evening. When he drew near to the village,
or rather to the hall, which was a mile from the village, he
overtook a slim, quick-eyed woman, sauntering along at a leisurely
pace. She was fashionably dressed in a green spencer, with
'Mameluke' sleeves, and wore a velvet Spanish hat and feather.
'Good afternoon t'ye, ma'am,' said Festus, throwing a
sword-and-pistol air into his greeting. 'You are out for a walk?'
'I AM out for a walk, captain,' said the lady, who had criticized
him from the crevice of her eye, without seeming to do much more
than continue her demure look forward, and gave the title as a sop
to his apparent character.
'From the town?--I'd swear it, ma'am; 'pon my honour I would!'
'Yes, I am from the town, sir,' said she.
'Ah, you are a visitor! I know every one of the regular
inhabitants; we soldiers are in and out there continually. Festus
Derriman, Yeomanry Cavalry, you know. The fact is, the
watering-place is under our charge; the folks will be quite
dependent upon us for their deliverance in the coming struggle. We
hold our lives in our hands, and theirs, I may say, in our pockets.
What made you come here, ma'am, at such a critical time?'
'I don't see that it is such a critical time?'
'But it is, though; and so you'd say if you was as much mixed up
with the military affairs of the nation as some of us.'
The lady smiled. 'The King is coming this year, anyhow,' said she.
'Never!' said Festus firmly. 'Ah, you are one of the attendants at
court perhaps, come on ahead to get the King's chambers ready, in
case Boney should not land?'
'No,' she said; 'I am connected with the theatre, though not just at
the present moment. I have been out of luck for the last year or
two; but I have fetched up again. I join the company when they
arrive for the season.'
Festus surveyed her with interest. 'Faith! and is it so? Well,
ma'am, what part do you play?'
'I am mostly the leading lady--the heroine,' she said, drawing
herself up with dignity.
'I'll come and have a look at ye if all's well, and the landing is
put off--hang me if I don't!--Hullo, hullo, what do I see?'
His eyes were stretched towards a distant field, which Anne Garland
was at that moment hastily crossing, on her way from the hall to
'I must be off. Good-day to ye, dear creature!' he exclaimed,
The lady said, 'O, you droll monster!' as she smiled and watched him
Festus bounded on over the hedge, across the intervening patch of
green, and into the field which Anne was still crossing. In a
moment or two she looked back, and seeing the well-known Herculean
figure of the yeoman behind her felt rather alarmed, though she
determined to show no difference in her outward carriage. But to
maintain her natural gait was beyond her powers. She spasmodically
quickened her pace; fruitlessly, however, for he gained upon her,
and when within a few strides of her exclaimed, 'Well, my darling!'
Anne started off at a run.
Festus was already out of breath, and soon found that he was not
likely to overtake her. On she went, without turning her head, till
an unusual noise behind compelled her to look round. His face was
in the act of falling back; he swerved on one side, and dropped like
a log upon a convenient hedgerow-bank which bordered the path.
There he lay quite still.
Anne was somewhat alarmed; and after standing at gaze for two or
three minutes, drew nearer to him, a step and a half at a time,
wondering and doubting, as a meek ewe draws near to some strolling
vagabond who flings himself on the grass near the flock.
'He is in a swoon!' she murmured.
Her heart beat quickly, and she looked around. Nobody was in sight;
she advanced a step nearer still and observed him again. Apparently
his face was turning to a livid hue, and his breathing had become
''Tis not a swoon; 'tis apoplexy!' she said, in deep distress. 'I
ought to untie his neck.' But she was afraid to do this, and only
drew a little closer still.
Miss Garland was now within three feet of him, whereupon the
senseless man, who could hold his breath no longer, sprang to his
feet and darted at her, saying, 'Ha! ha! a scheme for a kiss!'
She felt his arm slipping round her neck; but, twirling about with
amazing dexterity, she wriggled from his embrace and ran away along
the field. The force with which she had extricated herself was
sufficient to throw Festus upon the grass, and by the time that he
got upon his legs again she was many yards off. Uttering a word
which was not exactly a blessing, he immediately gave chase; and
thus they ran till Anne entered a meadow divided down the middle by
a brook about six feet wide. A narrow plank was thrown loosely
across at the point where the path traversed this stream, and when
Anne reached it she at once scampered over. At the other side she
turned her head to gather the probabilities of the situation, which
were that Festus Derriman would overtake her even now. By a sudden
forethought she stooped, seized the end of the plank, and
endeavoured to drag it away from the opposite bank. But the weight
was too great for her to do more than slightly move it, and with a
desperate sigh she ran on again, having lost many valuable seconds.
But her attempt, though ineffectual in dragging it down, had been
enough to unsettle the little bridge; and when Derriman reached the
middle, which he did half a minute later, the plank turned over on
its edge, tilting him bodily into the river. The water was not
remarkably deep, but as the yeoman fell flat on his stomach he was
completely immersed; and it was some time before he could drag
himself out. When he arose, dripping on the bank, and looked
around, Anne had vanished from the mead. Then Festus's eyes glowed
like carbuncles, and he gave voice to fearful imprecations, shaking
his fist in the soft summer air towards Anne, in a way that was
terrible for any maiden to behold. Wading back through the stream,
he walked along its bank with a heavy tread, the water running from
his coat-tails, wrists, and the tips of his ears, in silvery
dribbles, that sparkled pleasantly in the sun. Thus he hastened
away, and went round by a by-path to the hall.
Meanwhile the author of his troubles was rapidly drawing nearer to
the mill, and soon, to her inexpressible delight, she saw Bob coming
to meet her. She had heard the flounce, and, feeling more secure
from her pursuer, had dropped her pace to a quick walk. No sooner
did she reach Bob than, overcome by the excitement of the moment,
she flung herself into his arms. Bob instantly enclosed her in an
embrace so very thorough that there was no possible danger of her
falling, whatever degree of exhaustion might have given rise to her
somewhat unexpected action; and in this attitude they silently
remained, till it was borne in upon Anne that the present was the
first time in her life that she had ever been in such a position.
Her face then burnt like a sunset, and she did not know how to look
up at him. Feeling at length quite safe, she suddenly resolved not
to give way to her first impulse to tell him the whole of what had
happened, lest there should be a dreadful quarrel and fight between
Bob and the yeoman, and great difficulties caused in the Loveday
family on her account, the miller having important wheat
transactions with the Derrimans.
'You seem frightened, dearest Anne,' said Bob tenderly.
'Yes,' she replied. 'I saw a man I did not like the look of, and he
was inclined to follow me. But, worse than that, I am troubled
about the French. O Bob! I am afraid you will be killed, and my
mother, and John, and your father, and all of us hunted down!'
'Now I have told you, dear little heart, that it cannot be. We
shall drive 'em into the sea after a battle or two, even if they
land, which I don't believe they will. We've got ninety sail of the
line, and though it is rather unfortunate that we should have
declared war against Spain at this ticklish time, there's enough for
all.' And Bob went into elaborate statistics of the navy, army,
militia, and volunteers, to prolong the time of holding her. When
he had done speaking he drew rather a heavy sigh.
'What's the matter, Bob?'
'I haven't been yet to offer myself as a sea-fencible, and I ought
to have done it long ago.'
'You are only one. Surely they can do without you?'
Bob shook his head. She arose from her restful position, her eye
catching his with a shamefaced expression of having given way at
last. Loveday drew from his pocket a paper, and said, as they
slowly walked on, 'Here's something to make us brave and patriotic.
I bought it in Budmouth. Isn't it a stirring picture?'
It was a hieroglyphic profile of Napoleon. The hat represented a
maimed French eagle; the face was ingeniously made up of human
carcases, knotted and writhing together in such directions as to
form a physiognomy; a band, or stock, shaped to resemble the English
Channel, encircled his throat, and seemed to choke him; his
epaulette was a hand tearing a cobweb that represented the treaty of
peace with England; and his ear was a woman crouching over a dying
* Vide Preface.
'It is dreadful!' said Anne. 'I don't like to see it.'
She had recovered from her emotion, and walked along beside him with
a grave, subdued face. Bob did not like to assume the privileges of
an accepted lover and draw her hand through his arm; for, conscious
that she naturally belonged to a politer grade than his own, he
feared lest her exhibition of tenderness were an impulse which
cooler moments might regret. A perfect Paul-and-Virginia life had
not absolutely set in for him as yet, and it was not to be hastened
by force. When they had passed over the bridge into the mill-front
they saw the miller standing at the door with a face of concern.
'Since you have been gone,' he said, 'a Government man has been
here, and to all the houses, taking down the numbers of the women
and children, and their ages and the number of horses and waggons
that can be mustered, in case they have to retreat inland, out of
the way of the invading army.'
The little family gathered themselves together, all feeling the
crisis more seriously than they liked to express. Mrs. Loveday
thought how ridiculous a thing social ambition was in such a
conjuncture as this, and vowed that she would leave Anne to love
where she would. Anne, too, forgot the little peculiarities of
speech and manner in Bob and his father, which sometimes jarred for
a moment upon her more refined sense, and was thankful for their
love and protection in this looming trouble.
On going upstairs she remembered the paper which Farmer Derriman had
given her, and searched in her bosom for it. She could not find it
there. 'I must have left it on the table,' she said to herself. It
did not matter; she remembered every word. She took a pen and wrote
a duplicate, which she put safely away.
But Anne was wrong. She had, after all, placed the paper where she