Part 6 out of 7
rays being directed upon the front of the miller's waggon.
'"Loveday and Son, Overcombe Mill,"' continued the man, reading from
the waggon. '"Son," you see, is lately painted in. That's our
He moved to turn off the light, but before he had done so it flashed
over the forms of the speakers, and revealed a sergeant, a naval
officer, and a file of marines.
Anne waited to see no more. When Bob stayed up to grind, as he was
doing to-night, he often sat in his room instead of remaining all
the time in the mill; and this room was an isolated chamber over the
bakehouse, which could not be reached without going downstairs and
ascending the step-ladder that served for his staircase. Anne
descended in the dark, clambered up the ladder, and saw that light
strayed through the chink below the door. His window faced towards
the garden, and hence the light could not as yet have been seen by
'Bob, dear Bob!' she said, through the keyhole. 'Put out your
light, and run out of the back-door!'
'Why?' said Bob, leisurely knocking the ashes from the pipe he had
'They have come? By God! who can have blown upon me? All right,
dearest. I'm game.'
Anne, scarcely knowing what she did, descended the ladder and ran to
the back-door, hastily unbolting it to save Bob's time, and gently
opening it in readiness for him. She had no sooner done this than
she felt hands laid upon her shoulder from without, and a voice
exclaiming, 'That's how we doos it--quite an obleeging young man!'
Though the hands held her rather roughly, Anne did not mind for
herself, and turning she cried desperately, in tones intended to
reach Bob's ears: 'They are at the back-door; try the front!'
But inexperienced Miss Garland little knew the shrewd habits of the
gentlemen she had to deal with, who, well used to this sort of
pastime, had already posted themselves at every outlet from the
'Bring the lantern,' shouted the fellow who held her. 'Why--'tis a
girl! I half thought so--Here is a way in,' he continued to his
comrades, hastening to the foot of the ladder which led to Bob's
'What d'ye want?' said Bob, quietly opening the door, and showing
himself still radiant in the full dress that he had worn with such
effect at the Theatre Royal, which he had been about to change for
his mill suit when Anne gave the alarm.
'This gentleman can't be the right one,' observed a marine, rather
impressed by Bob's appearance.
'Yes, yes; that's the man,' said the sergeant. 'Now take it
quietly, my young cock-o'-wax. You look as if you meant to, and
'tis wise of ye.'
'Where are you going to take me?' said Bob.
'Only aboard the Black Diamond. If you choose to take the bounty
and come voluntarily, you'll be allowed to go ashore whenever your
ship's in port. If you don't, and we've got to pinion ye, you will
not have your liberty at all. As you must come, willy-nilly, you'll
do the first if you've any brains whatever.'
Bob's temper began to rise. 'Don't you talk so large, about your
pinioning, my man. When I've settled--'
'Now or never, young blow-hard,' interrupted his informant.
'Come, what jabber is this going on?' said the lieutenant, stepping
forward. 'Bring your man.'
One of the marines set foot on the ladder, but at the same moment a
shoe from Bob's hand hit the lantern with well-aimed directness,
knocking it clean out of the grasp of the man who held it. In spite
of the darkness they began to scramble up the ladder. Bob thereupon
shut the door, which being but of slight construction, was as he
knew only a momentary defence. But it gained him time enough to
open the window, gather up his legs upon the sill, and spring across
into the apple-tree growing without. He alighted without much hurt
beyond a few scratches from the boughs, a shower of falling apples
testifying to the force of his leap.
'Here he is!' shouted several below who had seen Bob's figure flying
like a raven's across the sky.
There was stillness for a moment in the tree. Then the fugitive
made haste to climb out upon a low-hanging branch towards the
garden, at which the men beneath all rushed in that direction to
catch him as he dropped, saying, 'You may as well come down, old
boy. 'Twas a spry jump, and we give ye credit for 't.'
The latter movement of Loveday had been a mere feint. Partly hidden
by the leaves he glided back to the other part of the tree, from
whence it was easy to jump upon a thatch-covered out-house. This
intention they did not appear to suspect, which gave him the
opportunity of sliding down the slope and entering the back door of
'He's here, he's here!' the men exclaimed, running back from the
By this time they had obtained another light, and pursued him
closely along the back quarters of the mill. Bob had entered the
lower room, seized hold of the chain by which the flour-sacks were
hoisted from story to story by connexion with the mill-wheel, and
pulled the rope that hung alongside for the purpose of throwing it
into gear. The foremost pursuers arrived just in time to see
Captain Bob's legs and shoe-buckles vanishing through the trap-door
in the joists overhead, his person having been whirled up by the
machinery like any bag of flour, and the trap falling to behind him.
'He's gone up by the hoist!' said the sergeant, running up the
ladder in the corner to the next floor, and elevating the light just
in time to see Bob's suspended figure ascending in the same way
through the same sort of trap into the second floor. The second
trap also fell together behind him, and he was lost to view as
It was more difficult to follow now; there was only a flimsy little
ladder, and the men ascended cautiously. When they stepped out upon
the loft it was empty.
'He must ha' let go here,' said one of the marines, who knew more
about mills than the others. 'If he had held fast a moment longer,
he would have been dashed against that beam.'
They looked up. The hook by which Bob had held on had ascended to
the roof, and was winding round the cylinder. Nothing was visible
elsewhere but boarded divisions like the stalls of a stable, on each
side of the stage they stood upon, these compartments being more or
less heaped up with wheat and barley in the grain.
'Perhaps he's buried himself in the corn.'
The whole crew jumped into the corn-bins, and stirred about their
yellow contents; but neither arm, leg, nor coat-tail was uncovered.
They removed sacks, peeped among the rafters of the roof, but to no
purpose. The lieutenant began to fume at the loss of time.
'What cursed fools to let the man go! Why, look here, what's this?'
He had opened the door by which sacks were taken in from waggons
without, and dangling from the cat-head projecting above it was the
rope used in lifting them. 'There's the way he went down,' the
officer continued. 'The man's gone.'
Amidst mumblings and curses the gang descended the pair of ladders
and came into the open air; but Captain Bob was nowhere to be seen.
When they reached the front door of the house the miller was
standing on the threshold, half dressed.
'Your son is a clever fellow, miller,' said the lieutenant; 'but it
would have been much better for him if he had come quiet.'
'That's a matter of opinion,' said Loveday.
'I have no doubt that he's in the house.'
'He may be; and he may not.'
'Do you know where he is?'
'I do not; and if I did I shouldn't tell.'
'I heard steps beating up the road, sir,' said the sergeant.
They turned from the door, and leaving four of the marines to keep
watch round the house, the remainder of the party marched into the
lane as far as where the other road branched off. While they were
pausing to decide which course to take, one of the soldiers held up
the light. A black object was discernible upon the ground before
them, and they found it to be a hat--the hat of Bob Loveday.
'We are on the track,' cried the sergeant, deciding for this
They tore on rapidly, and the footsteps previously heard became
audible again, increasing in clearness, which told that they gained
upon the fugitive, who in another five minutes stopped and turned.
The rays of the candle fell upon Anne.
'What do you want?' she said, showing her frightened face.
They made no reply, but wheeled round and left her. She sank down
on the bank to rest, having done all she could. It was she who had
taken down Bob's hat from a nail, and dropped it at the turning with
the view of misleading them till he should have got clear off.
But Anne Garland was too anxious to remain long away from the centre
of operations. When she got back she found that the press-gang were
standing in the court discussing their next move.
'Waste no more time here,' the lieutenant said. 'Two more villages
to visit to-night, and the nearest three miles off. There's nobody
else in this place, and we can't come back again.'
When they were moving away, one of the private marines, who had kept
his eye on Anne, and noticed her distress, contrived to say in a
whisper as he passed her, 'We are coming back again as soon as it
begins to get light; that's only said to deceive 'ee. Keep your
young man out of the way.'
They went as they had come; and the little household then met
together, Mrs. Loveday having by this time dressed herself and come
down. A long and anxious discussion followed.
'Somebody must have told upon the chap,' Loveday remarked. 'How
should they have found him out else, now he's been home from sea
Anne then mentioned what the friendly marine had told her; and
fearing lest Bob was in the house, and would be discovered there
when daylight came, they searched and called for him everywhere.
'What clothes has he got on?' said the miller.
'His lovely new suit,' said his wife. 'I warrant it is quite
'He's got no hat,' said Anne.
'Well,' said Loveday, 'you two go and lie down now and I'll bide up;
and as soon as he comes in, which he'll do most likely in the course
of the night, I'll let him know that they are coming again.'
Anne and Mrs. Loveday went to their bedrooms, and the miller entered
the mill as if he were simply staying up to grind. But he
continually left the flour-shoot to go outside and walk round; each
time he could see no living being near the spot. Anne meanwhile had
lain down dressed upon her bed, the window still open, her ears
intent upon the sound of footsteps and dreading the reappearance of
daylight and the gang's return. Three or four times during the
night she descended to the mill to inquire of her stepfather if Bob
had shown himself; but the answer was always in the negative.
At length the curtains of her bed began to reveal their pattern, the
brass handles of the drawers gleamed forth, and day dawned. While
the light was yet no more than a suffusion of pallor, she arose, put
on her hat, and determined to explore the surrounding premises
before the men arrived. Emerging into the raw loneliness of the
daybreak, she went upon the bridge and looked up and down the road.
It was as she had left it, empty, and the solitude was rendered yet
more insistent by the silence of the mill-wheel, which was now
stopped, the miller having given up expecting Bob and retired to bed
about three o'clock. The footprints of the marines still remained
in the dust on the bridge, all the heel-marks towards the house,
showing that the party had not as yet returned.
While she lingered she heard a slight noise in the other direction,
and, turning, saw a woman approaching. The woman came up quickly,
and, to her amazement, Anne recognized Matilda. Her walk was
convulsive, face pale, almost haggard, and the cold light of the
morning invested it with all the ghostliness of death. She had
plainly walked all the way from Budmouth, for her shoes were covered
'Has the press-gang been here?' she gasped. 'If not they are
'They have been.'
'And got him--I am too late!'
'No; they are coming back again. Why did you--'
'I came to try to save him. Can we save him? Where is he?'
Anne looked the woman in the face, and it was impossible to doubt
that she was in earnest.
'I don't know,' she answered. 'I am trying to find him before they
'Will you not let me help you?' cried the repentant Matilda.
Without either objecting or assenting Anne turned and led the way to
the back part of the homestead.
Matilda, too, had suffered that night. From the moment of parting
with Festus Derriman a sentiment of revulsion from the act to which
she had been a party set in and increased, till at length it reached
an intensity of remorse which she could not passively bear. She had
risen before day and hastened thitherward to know the worst, and if
possible hinder consequences that she had been the first to set in
After going hither and thither in the adjoining field, Anne entered
the garden. The walks were bathed in grey dew, and as she passed
observantly along them it appeared as if they had been brushed by
some foot at a much earlier hour. At the end of the garden, bushes
of broom, laurel, and yew formed a constantly encroaching shrubbery,
that had come there almost by chance, and was never trimmed. Behind
these bushes was a garden-seat, and upon it lay Bob sound asleep.
The ends of his hair were clotted with damp, and there was a foggy
film upon the mirror-like buttons of his coat, and upon the buckles
of his shoes. His bunch of new gold seals was dimmed by the same
insidious dampness; his shirt-frill and muslin neckcloth were limp
as seaweed. It was plain that he had been there a long time. Anne
shook him, but he did not awake, his breathing being slow and
'Bob, wake; 'tis your own Anne!' she said, with innocent
earnestness; and then, fearfully turning her head, she saw that
Matilda was close behind her.
'You needn't mind me,' said Matilda bitterly. 'I am on your side
now. Shake him again.'
Anne shook him again, but he slept on. Then she noticed that his
forehead bore the mark of a heavy wound.
'I fancy I hear something!' said her companion, starting forward and
endeavouring to wake Bob herself. 'He is stunned, or drugged!' she
said; 'there is no rousing him.'
Anne raised her head and listened. From the direction of the
eastern road came the sound of a steady tramp. 'They are coming
back!' she said, clasping her hands. 'They will take him, ill as he
is! He won't open his eyes--no, it is no use! O, what shall we
Matilda did not reply, but running to the end of the seat on which
Bob lay, tried its weight in her arms.
'It is not too heavy,' she said. 'You take that end, and I'll take
this. We'll carry him away to some place of hiding.'
Anne instantly seized the other end, and they proceeded with their
burden at a slow pace to the lower garden-gate, which they reached
as the tread of the press-gang resounded over the bridge that gave
access to the mill court, now hidden from view by the hedge and the
trees of the garden.
'We will go down inside this field,' said Anne faintly.
'No!' said the other; 'they will see our foot-tracks in the dew. We
must go into the road.'
'It is the very road they will come down when they leave the mill.'
'It cannot be helped; it is neck or nothing with us now.'
So they emerged upon the road, and staggered along without speaking,
occasionally resting for a moment to ease their arms; then shaking
him to arouse him, and finding it useless, seizing the seat again.
When they had gone about two hundred yards Matilda betrayed signs of
exhaustion, and she asked, 'Is there no shelter near?'
'When we get to that little field of corn,' said Anne.
'It is so very far. Surely there is some place near?'
She pointed to a few scrubby bushes overhanging a little stream,
which passed under the road near this point.
'They are not thick enough,' said Anne.
'Let us take him under the bridge,' said Matilda. 'I can go no
Entering the opening by which cattle descended to drink, they waded
into the weedy water, which here rose a few inches above their
ankles. To ascend the stream, stoop under the arch, and reach the
centre of the roadway, was the work of a few minutes.
'If they look under the arch we are lost,' murmured Anne.
'There is no parapet to the bridge, and they may pass over without
They waited, their heads almost in contact with the reeking arch,
and their feet encircled by the stream, which was at its summer
lowness now. For some minutes they could hear nothing but the
babble of the water over their ankles, and round the legs of the
seat on which Bob slumbered, the sounds being reflected in a musical
tinkle from the hollow sides of the arch. Anne's anxiety now was
lest he should not continue sleeping till the search was over, but
start up with his habitual imprudence, and scorning such means of
safety, rush out into their arms.
A quarter of an hour dragged by, and then indications reached their
ears that the re-examination of the mill had begun and ended. The
well-known tramp drew nearer, and reverberated through the ground
over their heads, where its volume signified to the listeners that
the party had been largely augmented by pressed men since the night
preceding. The gang passed the arch, and the noise regularly
diminished, as if no man among them had thought of looking aside for
Matilda broke the silence. 'I wonder if they have left a watch
behind?' she said doubtfully.
'I will go and see,' said Anne. 'Wait till I return.'
'No; I can do no more. When you come back I shall be gone. I ask
one thing of you. If all goes well with you and him, and he marries
you--don't be alarmed; my plans lie elsewhere--when you are his wife
tell him who helped to carry him away. But don't mention my name to
the rest of your family, either now or at any time.'
Anne regarded the speaker for a moment, and promised; after which
she waded out from the archway.
Matilda stood looking at Bob for a moment, as if preparing to go,
till moved by some impulse she bent and lightly kissed him once.
'How can you!' cried Anne reproachfully. When leaving the mouth of
the arch she had bent back and seen the act.
Matilda flushed. 'You jealous baby!' she said scornfully.
Anne hesitated for a moment, then went out from the water, and
hastened towards the mill.
She entered by the garden, and, seeing no one, advanced and peeped
in at the window. Her mother and Mr. Loveday were sitting within as
'Are they all gone?' said Anne softly.
'Yes. They did not trouble us much, beyond going into every room,
and searching about the garden, where they saw steps. They have
been lucky to-night; they have caught fifteen or twenty men at
places further on; so the loss of Bob was no hurt to their feelings.
I wonder where in the world the poor fellow is!'
'I will show you,' said Anne. And explaining in a few words what
had happened, she was promptly followed by David and Loveday along
the road. She lifted her dress and entered the arch with some
anxiety on account of Matilda; but the actress was gone, and Bob lay
on the seat as she had left him.
Bob was brought out, and water thrown upon his face; but though he
moved he did not rouse himself until some time after he had been
borne into the house. Here he opened his eyes, and saw them
standing round, and gathered a little consciousness.
'You are all right, my boy!' said his father. 'What hev happened to
ye? Where did ye get that terrible blow?'
'Ah--I can mind now,' murmured Bob, with a stupefied gaze around.
'I fell in slipping down the topsail halyard--the rope, that is, was
too short--and I fell upon my head. And then I went away. When I
came back I thought I wouldn't disturb ye: so I lay down out there,
to sleep out the watch; but the pain in my head was so great that I
couldn't get to sleep; so I picked some of the poppy-heads in the
border, which I once heard was a good thing for sending folks to
sleep when they are in pain. So I munched up all I could find, and
dropped off quite nicely.'
'I wondered who had picked 'em!' said Molly. 'I noticed they were
'Why, you might never have woke again!' said Mrs. Loveday, holding
up her hands. 'How is your head now?'
'I hardly know,' replied the young man, putting his hand to his
forehead and beginning to doze again. 'Where be those fellows that
boarded us? With this--smooth water and--fine breeze we ought to
get away from 'em. Haul in--the larboard braces, and--bring her to
'You are at home, dear Bob,' said Anne, bending over him, 'and the
men are gone.'
'Come along upstairs: th' beest hardly awake now,' said his father
and Bob was assisted to bed.
XXXIII. A DISCOVERY TURNS THE SCALE
In four-and-twenty hours Bob had recovered. But though physically
himself again, he was not at all sure of his position as a patriot.
He had that practical knowledge of seamanship of which the country
stood much in need, and it was humiliating to find that impressment
seemed to be necessary to teach him to use it for her advantage.
Many neighbouring young men, less fortunate than himself, had been
pressed and taken; and their absence seemed a reproach to him. He
went away by himself into the mill-roof, and, surrounded by the
corn-heaps, gave vent to self-condemnation.
'Certainly, I am no man to lie here so long for the pleasure of
sighting that young girl forty times a day, and letting her sight
me--bless her eyes!--till I must needs want a press-gang to teach me
what I've forgot. And is it then all over with me as a British
sailor? We'll see.'
When he was thrown under the influence of Anne's eyes again, which
were more tantalizingly beautiful than ever just now (so it seemed
to him), his intention of offering his services to the Government
would wax weaker, and he would put off his final decision till the
next day. Anne saw these fluctuations of his mind between love and
patriotism, and being terrified by what she had heard of sea-fights,
used the utmost art of which she was capable to seduce him from his
forming purpose. She came to him in the mill, wearing the very
prettiest of her morning jackets--the one that only just passed the
waist, and was laced so tastefully round the collar and bosom. Then
she would appear in her new hat, with a bouquet of primroses on one
side; and on the following Sunday she walked before him in
lemon-coloured boots, so that her feet looked like a pair of
yellow-hammers flitting under her dress.
But dress was the least of the means she adopted for chaining him
down. She talked more tenderly than ever; asked him to begin small
undertakings in the garden on her account; she sang about the house,
that the place might seem cheerful when he came in. This singing
for a purpose required great effort on her part, leaving her
afterwards very sad. When Bob asked her what was the matter, she
would say, 'Nothing; only I am thinking how you will grieve your
father, and cross his purposes, if you carry out your unkind notion
of going to sea, and forsaking your place in the mill.'
'Yes,' Bob would say uneasily. 'It will trouble him, I know.'
Being also quite aware how it would trouble her, he would again
postpone, and thus another week passed away.
All this time John had not come once to the mill. It appeared as if
Miss Johnson absorbed all his time and thoughts. Bob was often seen
chuckling over the circumstance. 'A sly rascal!' he said.
'Pretending on the day she came to be married that she was not good
enough for me, when it was only that he wanted her for himself. How
he could have persuaded her to go away is beyond me to say!'
Anne could not contest this belief of her lover's, and remained
silent; but there had more than once occurred to her mind a doubt of
its probability. Yet she had only abandoned her opinion that John
had schemed for Matilda, to embrace the opposite error; that,
finding he had wronged the young lady, he had pitied and grown to
'And yet Jack, when he was a boy, was the simplest fellow alive,'
resumed Bob. 'By George, though, I should have been hot against him
for such a trick, if in losing her I hadn't found a better! But
she'll never come down to him in the world: she has high notions
now. I am afraid he's doomed to sigh in vain!'
Though Bob regretted this possibility, the feeling was not
reciprocated by Anne. It was true that she knew nothing of
Matilda's temporary treachery, and that she disbelieved the story of
her lack of virtue; but she did not like the woman. 'Perhaps it
will not matter if he is doomed to sigh in vain,' she said. 'But I
owe him no ill-will. I have profited by his doings,
incomprehensible as they are.' And she bent her fair eyes on Bob
Bob looked dubious. 'He thinks he has affronted me, now I have seen
through him, and that I shall be against meeting him. But, of
course, I am not so touchy. I can stand a practical joke, as can
any man who has been afloat. I'll call and see him, and tell him
Before he started, Bob bethought him of something which would still
further prove to the misapprehending John that he was entirely
forgiven. He went to his room, and took from his chest a packet
containing a lock of Miss Johnson's hair, which she had given him
during their brief acquaintance, and which till now he had quite
forgotten. When, at starting, he wished Anne goodbye, it was
accompanied by such a beaming face, that she knew he was full of an
idea, and asked what it might be that pleased him so.
'Why, this,' he said, smacking his breast-pocket. 'A lock of hair
that Matilda gave me.'
Anne sank back with parted lips.
'I am going to give it to Jack--he'll jump for joy to get it! And
it will show him how willing I am to give her up to him, fine piece
as she is.'
'Will you see her to-day, Bob?' Anne asked with an uncertain smile.
'O no--unless it is by accident.'
On reaching the outskirts of the town he went straight to the
barracks, and was lucky enough to find John in his room, at the
left-hand corner of the quadrangle. John was glad to see him; but
to Bob's surprise he showed no immediate contrition, and thus
afforded no room for the brotherly speech of forgiveness which Bob
had been going to deliver. As the trumpet-major did not open the
subject, Bob felt it desirable to begin himself.
'I have brought ye something that you will value, Jack,' he said, as
they sat at the window, overlooking the large square barrack-yard.
'I have got no further use for it, and you should have had it before
if it had entered my head.'
'Thank you, Bob; what is it?' said John, looking absently at an
awkward squad of young men who were drilling in the enclosure.
''Tis a young woman's lock of hair.'
'Ah!' said John, quite recovering from his abstraction, and slightly
flushing. Could Bob and Anne have quarrelled? Bob drew the paper
from his pocket, and opened it.
'Black!' said John.
'Whose did you think then?'
Instead of replying, the trumpet-major's face became as red as
sunset, and he turned to the window to hide his confusion.
Bob was silent, and then he, too, looked into the court. At length
he arose, walked to his brother, and laid his hand upon his
shoulder. 'Jack,' he said, in an altered voice, 'you are a good
fellow. Now I see it all.'
'O no--that's nothing,' said John hastily.
'You've been pretending that you care for this woman that I mightn't
blame myself for heaving you out from the other--which is what I've
done without knowing it.'
'What does it matter?'
'But it does matter! I've been making you unhappy all these weeks
and weeks through my thoughtlessness. They seemed to think at home,
you know, John, that you had grown not to care for her; or I
wouldn't have done it for all the world!'
'You stick to her, Bob, and never mind me. She belongs to you. She
loves you. I have no claim upon her, and she thinks nothing about
'She likes you, John, thoroughly well; so does everybody; and if I
hadn't come home, putting my foot in it-- That coming home of mine
has been a regular blight upon the family! I ought never to have
stayed. The sea is my home, and why couldn't I bide there?'
The trumpet-major drew Bob's discourse off the subject as soon as he
could, and Bob, after some unconsidered replies and remarks, seemed
willing to avoid it for the present. He did not ask John to
accompany him home, as he had intended; and on leaving the barracks
turned southward and entered the town to wander about till he could
decide what to do.
It was the 3rd of September, but the King's watering-place still
retained its summer aspect. The royal bathing-machine had been
drawn out just as Bob reached Gloucester Buildings, and he waited a
minute, in the lack of other distraction, to look on. Immediately
that the King's machine had entered the water a group of florid men
with fiddles, violoncellos, a trombone, and a drum, came forward,
packed themselves into another machine that was in waiting, and were
drawn out into the waves in the King's rear. All that was to be
heard for a few minutes were the slow pulsations of the sea; and
then a deafening noise burst from the interior of the second machine
with power enough to split the boards asunder; it was the condensed
mass of musicians inside, striking up the strains of 'God save the
King,' as his Majesty's head rose from the water. Bob took off his
hat and waited till the end of the performance, which, intended as a
pleasant surprise to George III. by the loyal burghers, was possibly
in the watery circumstances tolerated rather than desired by that
dripping monarch. *
* Vide Preface.
Loveday then passed on to the harbour, where he remained awhile,
looking at the busy scene of loading and unloading craft and
swabbing the decks of yachts; at the boats and barges rubbing
against the quay wall, and at the houses of the merchants, some
ancient structures of solid stone, others green-shuttered with heavy
wooden bow-windows which appeared as if about to drop into the
harbour by their own weight. All these things he gazed upon, and
thought of one thing--that he had caused great misery to his brother
The town clock struck, and Bob retraced his steps till he again
approached the Esplanade and Gloucester Lodge, where the morning sun
blazed in upon the house fronts, and not a spot of shade seemed to
be attainable. A huzzaing attracted his attention, and he observed
that a number of people had gathered before the King's residence,
where a brown curricle had stopped, out of which stepped a hale man
in the prime of life, wearing a blue uniform, gilt epaulettes,
cocked hat, and sword, who crossed the pavement and went in. Bob
went up and joined the group. 'What's going on?' he said.
'Captain Hardy,' replied a bystander.
'What of him?'
'Just gone in--waiting to see the King.'
'But the captain is in the West Indies?'
'No. The fleet is come home; they can't find the French anywhere.'
'Will they go and look for them again?' asked Bob.
'O yes. Nelson is determined to find 'em. As soon as he's refitted
he'll put to sea again. Ah, here's the King coming in.'
Bob was so interested in what he had just heard that he scarcely
noticed the arrival of the King, and a body of attendant gentlemen.
He went on thinking of his new knowledge; Captain Hardy was come.
He was doubtless staying with his family at their small manor-house
at Pos'ham, a few miles from Overcombe, where he usually spent the
intervals between his different cruises.
Loveday returned to the mill without further delay; and shortly
explaining that John was very well, and would come soon, went on to
talk of the arrival of Nelson's captain.
'And is he come at last?' said the miller, throwing his thoughts
years backward. 'Well can I mind when he first left home to go on
board the Helena as midshipman!'
'That's not much to remember. I can remember it too,' said Mrs.
''Tis more than twenty years ago anyhow. And more than that, I can
mind when he was born; I was a lad, serving my 'prenticeship at the
time. He has been in this house often and often when 'a was young.
When he came home after his first voyage he stayed about here a long
time, and used to look in at the mill whenever he went past. "What
will you be next, sir?" said mother to him one day as he stood with
his back to the doorpost. "A lieutenant, Dame Loveday," says he.
"And what next?" says she. "A commander." "And next?" "Next,
post-captain." "And then?" "Then it will be almost time to die."
I'd warrant that he'd mind it to this very day if you were to ask
Bob heard all this with a manner of preoccupation, and soon retired
to the mill. Thence he went to his room by the back passage, and
taking his old seafaring garments from a dark closet in the wall
conveyed them to the loft at the top of the mill, where he occupied
the remaining spare moments of the day in brushing the mildew from
their folds, and hanging each article by the window to get aired.
In the evening he returned to the loft, and dressing himself in the
old salt suit, went out of the house unobserved by anybody, and
ascended the road towards Captain Hardy's native village and present
The shadeless downs were now brown with the droughts of the passing
summer, and few living things met his view, the natural rotundity of
the elevation being only occasionally disturbed by the presence of a
barrow, a thorn-bush, or a piece of dry wall which remained from
some attempted enclosure. By the time that he reached the village
it was dark, and the larger stars had begun to shine when he walked
up to the door of the old-fashioned house which was the family
residence of this branch of the South-Wessex Hardys.
'Will the captain allow me to wait on him to-night?' inquired
Loveday, explaining who and what he was.
The servant went away for a few minutes, and then told Bob that he
might see the captain in the morning.
'If that's the case, I'll come again,' replied Bob, quite cheerful
that failure was not absolute.
He had left the door but a few steps when he was called back and
asked if he had walked all the way from Overcombe Mill on purpose.
Loveday replied modestly that he had done so.
'Then will you come in?' He followed the speaker into a small study
or office, and in a minute or two Captain Hardy entered.
The captain at this time was a bachelor of thirty-five, rather stout
in build, with light eyes, bushy eyebrows, a square broad face,
plenty of chin, and a mouth whose corners played between humour and
grimness. He surveyed Loveday from top to toe.
'Robert Loveday, sir, son of the miller at Overcombe,' said Bob,
making a low bow.
'Ah! I remember your father, Loveday,' the gallant seaman replied.
'Well, what do you want to say to me?' Seeing that Bob found it
rather difficult to begin, he leant leisurely against the
mantelpiece, and went on, 'Is your father well and hearty? I have
not seen him for many, many years.'
'Quite well, thank 'ee.'
'You used to have a brother in the army, I think? What was his
name--John? A very fine fellow, if I recollect.'
'Yes, cap'n; he's there still.'
'And you are in the merchant-service?'
'Late first mate of the brig Pewit.'
'How is it you're not on board a man-of-war?'
'Ay, sir, that's the thing I've come about,' said Bob, recovering
confidence. 'I should have been, but 'tis womankind has hampered
me. I've waited and waited on at home because of a young woman--
lady, I might have said, for she's sprung from a higher class of
society than I. Her father was a landscape painter--maybe you've
heard of him, sir? The name is Garland.'
'He painted that view of our village here,' said Captain Hardy,
looking towards a dark little picture in the corner of the room.
Bob looked, and went on, as if to the picture, 'Well, sir, I have
found that-- However, the press-gang came a week or two ago, and
didn't get hold of me. I didn't care to go aboard as a pressed
'There has been a severe impressment. It is of course a
disagreeable necessity, but it can't be helped.'
'Since then, sir, something has happened that makes me wish they had
found me, and I have come to-night to ask if I could enter on board
your ship the Victory.'
The captain shook his head severely, and presently observed: 'I am
glad to find that you think of entering the service, Loveday; smart
men are badly wanted. But it will not be in your power to choose
'Well, well, sir; then I must take my chance elsewhere,' said Bob,
his face indicating the disappointment he would not fully express.
''Twas only that I felt I would much rather serve under you than
anybody else, my father and all of us being known to ye, Captain
Hardy, and our families belonging to the same parts.'
Captain Hardy took Bob's altitude more carefully. 'Are you a good
practical seaman?' he asked musingly.
'Ay, sir; I believe I am.'
'Active? Fond of skylarking?'
'Well, I don't know about the last. I think I can say I am active
enough. I could walk the yard-arm, if required, cross from mast to
mast by the stays, and do what most fellows do who call themselves
The captain then put some questions about the details of navigation,
which Loveday, having luckily been used to square rigs, answered
satisfactorily. 'As to reefing topsails,' he added, 'if I don't do
it like a flash of lightning, I can do it so that they will stand
blowing weather. The Pewit was not a dull vessel, and when we were
convoyed home from Lisbon, she could keep well in sight of the
frigate scudding at a distance, by putting on full sail. We had
enough hands aboard to reef topsails man-o'-war fashion, which is a
rare thing in these days, sir, now that able seamen are so scarce on
trading craft. And I hear that men from square-rigged vessels are
liked much the best in the navy, as being more ready for use? So
that I shouldn't be altogether so raw,' said Bob earnestly, 'if I
could enter on your ship, sir. Still, if I can't, I can't.'
'I might ask for you, Loveday,' said the captain thoughtfully, 'and
so get you there that way. In short, I think I may say I will ask
for you. So consider it settled.'
'My thanks to you, sir,' said Loveday.
'You are aware that the Victory is a smart ship, and that
cleanliness and order are, of necessity, more strictly insisted upon
there than in some others?'
'Sir, I quite see it.'
'Well, I hope you will do your duty as well on a line-of-battle ship
as you did when mate of the brig, for it is a duty that may be
Bob replied that it should be his one endeavour; and receiving a few
instructions for getting on board the guard-ship, and being conveyed
to Portsmouth, he turned to go away.
'You'll have a stiff walk before you fetch Overcombe Mill this dark
night, Loveday,' concluded the captain, peering out of the window.
'I'll send you in a glass of grog to help 'ee on your way.'
The captain then left Bob to himself, and when he had drunk the grog
that was brought in he started homeward, with a heart not exactly
light, but large with a patriotic cheerfulness, which had not
diminished when, after walking so fast in his excitement as to be
beaded with perspiration, he entered his father's door.
They were all sitting up for him, and at his approach anxiously
raised their sleepy eyes, for it was nearly eleven o'clock.
'There; I knew he'd not be much longer!' cried Anne, jumping up and
laughing, in her relief. 'They have been thinking you were very
strange and silent today, Bob; you were not, were you?'
'What's the matter, Bob?' said the miller; for Bob's countenance was
sublimed by his recent interview, like that of a priest just come
from the penetralia of the temple.
'He's in his mate's clothes, just as when he came home!' observed
They all saw now that he had something to tell. 'I am going away,'
he said when he had sat down. 'I am going to enter on board a
man-of-war, and perhaps it will be the Victory.'
'Going?' said Anne faintly.
'Now, don't you mind it, there's a dear,' he went on solemnly,
taking her hand in his own. 'And you, father, don't you begin to
take it to heart' (the miller was looking grave). 'The press-gang
has been here, and though I showed them that I was a free man, I am
going to show everybody that I can do my duty.'
Neither of the other three answered, Anne and the miller having
their eyes bent upon the ground, and the former trying to repress
'Now don't you grieve, either of you,' he continued; 'nor vex
yourselves that this has happened. Please not to be angry with me,
father, for deserting you and the mill, where you want me, for I
MUST GO. For these three years we and the rest of the country have
been in fear of the enemy; trade has been hindered; poor folk made
hungry; and many rich folk made poor. There must be a deliverance,
and it must be done by sea. I have seen Captain Hardy, and I shall
serve under him if so be I can.'
'Yes. I have been to his house at Pos'ham, where he's staying with
his sisters; walked there and back, and I wouldn't have missed it
for fifty guineas. I hardly thought he would see me; but he did see
me. And he hasn't forgot you.'
Bob then opened his tale in order, relating graphically the
conversation to which he had been a party, and they listened with
'Well, if you must go, you must,' said the miller with emotion; 'but
I think it somewhat hard that, of my two sons, neither one of 'em
can be got to stay and help me in my business as I get old.'
'Don't trouble and vex about it,' said Mrs. Loveday soothingly.
'They are both instruments in the hands of Providence, chosen to
chastise that Corsican ogre, and do what they can for the country in
these trying years.'
'That's just the shape of it, Mrs. Loveday,' said Bob.
'And he'll come back soon,' she continued, turning to Anne. 'And
then he'll tell us all he has seen, and the glory that he's won, and
how he has helped to sweep that scourge Buonaparty off the earth.'
'When be you going, Bob?' his father inquired.
'To-morrow, if I can. I shall call at the barracks and tell John as
I go by. When I get to Portsmouth--'
A burst of sobs in quick succession interrupted his words; they came
from Anne, who till that moment had been sitting as before with her
hand in that of Bob, and apparently quite calm. Mrs. Loveday jumped
up, but before she could say anything to soothe the agitated girl
she had calmed herself with the same singular suddenness that had
marked her giving way. 'I don't mind Bob's going,' she said. 'I
think he ought to go. Don't suppose, Bob, that I want you to stay!'
After this she left the apartment, and went into the little side
room where she and her mother usually worked. In a few moments Bob
followed her. When he came back he was in a very sad and emotional
mood. Anybody could see that there had been a parting of profound
anguish to both.
'She is not coming back to-night,' he said.
'You will see her to-morrow before you go?' said her mother.
'I may or I may not,' he replied. 'Father and Mrs. Loveday, do you
go to bed now. I have got to look over my things and get ready; and
it will take me some little time. If you should hear noises you
will know it is only myself moving about.'
When Bob was left alone he suddenly became brisk, and set himself to
overhaul his clothes and other possessions in a business-like
manner. By the time that his chest was packed, such things as he
meant to leave at home folded into cupboards, and what was useless
destroyed, it was past two o'clock. Then he went to bed, so softly
that only the creak of one weak stair revealed his passage upward.
At the moment that he passed Anne's chamber-door her mother was
bending over her as she lay in bed, and saying to her, 'Won't you
see him in the morning?'
'No, no,' said Anne. 'I would rather not see him! I have said that
I may. But I shall not. I cannot see him again!'
When the family got up next day Bob had vanished. It was his way to
disappear like this, to avoid affecting scenes at parting. By the
time that they had sat down to a gloomy breakfast, Bob was in the
boat of a Budmouth waterman, who pulled him alongside the guardship
in the roads, where he laid hold of the man-rope, mounted, and
disappeared from external view. In the course of the day the ship
moved off, set her royals, and made sail for Portsmouth, with five
hundred new hands for the service on board, consisting partly of
pressed men and partly of volunteers, among the latter being Robert
XXXIV. A SPECK ON THE SEA
In parting from John, who accompanied him to the quay, Bob had said:
'Now, Jack, these be my last words to you: I give her up. I go
away on purpose, and I shall be away a long time. If in that time
she should list over towards ye ever so little, mind you take her.
You have more right to her than I. You chose her when my mind was
elsewhere, and you best deserve her; for I have never known you
forget one woman, while I've forgot a dozen. Take her then, if she
will come, and God bless both of ye.'
Another person besides John saw Bob go. That was Derriman, who was
standing by a bollard a little further up the quay. He did not
repress his satisfaction at the sight. John looked towards him with
an open gaze of contempt; for the cuffs administered to the yeoman
at the inn had not, so far as the trumpet-major was aware, produced
any desire to avenge that insult, John being, of course, quite
ignorant that Festus had erroneously retaliated upon Bob, in his
peculiar though scarcely soldierly way. Finding that he did not
even now approach him, John went on his way, and thought over his
intention of preserving intact the love between Anne and his
He was surprised when he next went to the mill to find how glad they
all were to see him. From the moment of Bob's return to the bosom
of the deep Anne had had no existence on land; people might have
looked at her human body and said she had flitted thence. The sea
and all that belonged to the sea was her daily thought and her
nightly dream. She had the whole two-and-thirty winds under her
eye, each passing gale that ushered in returning autumn being
mentally registered; and she acquired a precise knowledge of the
direction in which Portsmouth, Brest, Ferrol, Cadiz, and other such
likely places lay. Instead of saying her own familiar prayers at
night she substituted, with some confusion of thought, the Forms of
Prayer to be used at sea. John at once noticed her lorn, abstracted
looks, pitied her,--how much he pitied her!--and asked when they
were alone if there was anything he could do.
'There are two things,' she said, with almost childish eagerness in
her tired eyes.
'They shall be done.'
'The first is to find out if Captain Hardy has gone back to his
ship; and the other is--O if you will do it, John!--to get me
newspapers whenever possible.'
After this duologue John was absent for a space of three hours, and
they thought he had gone back to barracks. He entered, however, at
the end of that time, took off his forage-cap, and wiped his
'You look tired, John,' said his father.
'O no.' He went through the house till he had found Anne Garland.
'I have only done one of those things,' he said to her.
'What, already! I didn't hope for or mean to-day.'
'Captain Hardy is gone from Pos'ham. He left some days ago. We
shall soon hear that the fleet has sailed.'
'You have been all the way to Pos'ham on purpose? How good of you!'
'Well, I was anxious to know myself when Bob is likely to leave. I
expect now that we shall soon hear from him.'
Two days later he came again. He brought a newspaper, and what was
better, a letter for Anne, franked by the first lieutenant of the
'Then he's aboard her,' said Anne, as she eagerly took the letter.
It was short, but as much as she could expect in the circumstances,
and informed them that the captain had been as good as his word, and
had gratified Bob's earnest wish to serve under him. The ship, with
Admiral Lord Nelson on board, and accompanied by the frigate
Euryalus, was to sail in two days for Plymouth, where they would be
joined by others, and thence proceed to the coast of Spain.
Anne lay awake that night thinking of the Victory, and of those who
floated in her. To the best of Anne's calculation that ship of war
would, during the next twenty-four hours, pass within a few miles of
where she herself then lay. Next to seeing Bob, the thing that
would give her more pleasure than any other in the world was to see
the vessel that contained him--his floating city, his sole
dependence in battle and storm--upon whose safety from winds and
enemies hung all her hope.
The morrow was market-day at the seaport, and in this she saw her
opportunity. A carrier went from Overcombe at six o'clock thither,
and having to do a little shopping for herself she gave it as a
reason for her intended day's absence, and took a place in the van.
When she reached the town it was still early morning, but the
borough was already in the zenith of its daily bustle and show. The
King was always out-of-doors by six o'clock, and such cock-crow
hours at Gloucester Lodge produced an equally forward stir among the
population. She alighted, and passed down the esplanade, as fully
thronged by persons of fashion at this time of mist and level
sunlight as a watering-place in the present day is at four in the
afternoon. Dashing bucks and beaux in cocked hats, black feathers,
ruffles, and frills, stared at her as she hurried along; the beach
was swarming with bathing women, wearing waistbands that bore the
national refrain, 'God save the King,' in gilt letters; the shops
were all open, and Sergeant Stanner, with his sword-stuck bank-notes
and heroic gaze, was beating up at two guineas and a crown, the
crown to drink his Majesty's health.
She soon finished her shopping, and then, crossing over into the old
town, pursued her way along the coast-road to Portland. At the end
of an hour she had been rowed across the Fleet (which then lacked
the convenience of a bridge), and reached the base of Portland Hill.
The steep incline before her was dotted with houses, showing the
pleasant peculiarity of one man's doorstep being behind his
neighbour's chimney, and slabs of stone as the common material for
walls, roof, floor, pig-sty, stable-manger, door-scraper, and
garden-stile. Anne gained the summit, and followed along the
central track over the huge lump of freestone which forms the
peninsula, the wide sea prospect extending as she went on. Weary
with her journey, she approached the extreme southerly peak of rock,
and gazed from the cliff at Portland Bill, or Beal, as it was in
those days more correctly called.
The wild, herbless, weather-worn promontory was quite a solitude,
and, saving the one old lighthouse about fifty yards up the slope,
scarce a mark was visible to show that humanity had ever been near
the spot. Anne found herself a seat on a stone, and swept with her
eyes the tremulous expanse of water around her that seemed to utter
a ceaseless unintelligible incantation. Out of the three hundred
and sixty degrees of her complete horizon two hundred and fifty were
covered by waves, the coup d'oeil including the area of troubled
waters known as the Race, where two seas met to effect the
destruction of such vessels as could not be mastered by one. She
counted the craft within her view: there were five; no, there were
only four; no, there were seven, some of the specks having resolved
themselves into two. They were all small coasters, and kept well
within sight of land.
Anne sank into a reverie. Then she heard a slight noise on her left
hand, and turning beheld an old sailor, who had approached with a
glass. He was levelling it over the sea in a direction to the
south-east, and somewhat removed from that in which her own eyes had
been wandering. Anne moved a few steps thitherward, so as to
unclose to her view a deeper sweep on that side, and by this
discovered a ship of far larger size than any which had yet dotted
the main before her. Its sails were for the most part new and
clean, and in comparison with its rapid progress before the wind the
small brigs and ketches seemed standing still. Upon this striking
object the old man's glass was bent.
'What do you see, sailor?' she asked.
'Almost nothing,' he answered. 'My sight is so gone off lately that
things, one and all, be but a November mist to me. And yet I fain
would see to-day. I am looking for the Victory.'
'Why,' she said quickly.
'I have a son aboard her. He's one of three from these parts.
There's the captain, there's my son Ned, and there's young Loveday
of Overcombe--he that lately joined.'
'Shall I look for you?' said Anne, after a pause.
'Certainly, mis'ess, if so be you please.'
Anne took the glass, and he supported it by his arm. 'It is a large
ship,' she said, 'with three masts, three rows of guns along the
side, and all her sails set.'
'I guessed as much.'
'There is a little flag in front--over her bowsprit.'
'And there's a large one flying at her stern.'
'And a white one on her fore-topmast.'
'That's the admiral's flag, the flag of my Lord Nelson. What is her
figure-head, my dear?'
'A coat-of-arms, supported on this side by a sailor.'
Her companion nodded with satisfaction. 'On the other side of that
figure-head is a marine.'
'She is twisting round in a curious way, and her sails sink in like
old cheeks, and she shivers like a leaf upon a tree.'
'She is in stays, for the larboard tack. I can see what she's been
doing. She's been re'ching close in to avoid the flood tide, as the
wind is to the sou'-west, and she's bound down; but as soon as the
ebb made, d'ye see, they made sail to the west'ard. Captain Hardy
may be depended upon for that; he knows every current about here,
being a native.'
'And now I can see the other side; it is a soldier where a sailor
was before. You are SURE it is the Victory?'
'I am sure.'
After this a frigate came into view--the Euryalus--sailing in the
same direction. Anne sat down, and her eyes never left the ships.
'Tell me more about the Victory,' she said.
'She is the best sailer in the service, and she carries a hundred
guns. The heaviest be on the lower deck, the next size on the
middle deck, the next on the main and upper decks. My son Ned's
place is on the lower deck, because he's short, and they put the
short men below.'
Bob, though not tall, was not likely to be specially selected for
shortness. She pictured him on the upper deck, in his snow-white
trousers and jacket of navy blue, looking perhaps towards the very
point of land where she then was.
The great silent ship, with her population of blue-jackets, marines,
officers, captain, and the admiral who was not to return alive,
passed like a phantom the meridian of the Bill. Sometimes her
aspect was that of a large white bat, sometimes that of a grey one.
In the course of time the watching girl saw that the ship had passed
her nearest point; the breadth of her sails diminished by
foreshortening, till she assumed the form of an egg on end. After
this something seemed to twinkle, and Anne, who had previously
withdrawn from the old sailor, went back to him, and looked again
through the glass. The twinkling was the light falling upon the
cabin windows of the ship's stern. She explained it to the old man.
'Then we see now what the enemy have seen but once. That was in
seventy-nine, when she sighted the French and Spanish fleet off
Scilly, and she retreated because she feared a landing. Well, 'tis
a brave ship and she carries brave men!'
Anne's tender bosom heaved, but she said nothing, and again became
absorbed in contemplation.
The Victory was fast dropping away. She was on the horizon, and
soon appeared hull down. That seemed to be like the beginning of a
greater end than her present vanishing. Anne Garland could not stay
by the sailor any longer, and went about a stone's-throw off, where
she was hidden by the inequality of the cliff from his view. The
vessel was now exactly end on, and stood out in the direction of the
Start, her width having contracted to the proportion of a feather.
She sat down again, and mechanically took out some biscuits that she
had brought, foreseeing that her waiting might be long. But she
could not eat one of them; eating seemed to jar with the mental
tenseness of the moment; and her undeviating gaze continued to
follow the lessened ship with the fidelity of a balanced needle to a
magnetic stone, all else in her being motionless.
The courses of the Victory were absorbed into the main, then her
topsails went, and then her top-gallants. She was now no more than
a dead fly's wing on a sheet of spider's web; and even this fragment
diminished. Anne could hardly bear to see the end, and yet she
resolved not to flinch. The admiral's flag sank behind the watery
line, and in a minute the very truck of the last topmast stole away.
The Victory was gone.
Anne's lip quivered as she murmured, without removing her wet eyes
from the vacant and solemn horizon, '"They that go down to the sea
in ships, that do business in great waters--"'
'"These see the works of the Lord, and His wonders in the deep,"'
was returned by a man's voice from behind her.
Looking round quickly, she saw a soldier standing there; and the
grave eyes of John Loveday bent on her.
''Tis what I was thinking,' she said, trying to be composed.
'You were saying it,' he answered gently.
'Was I?--I did not know it. . . . How came you here?' she presently
'I have been behind you a good while; but you never turned round.'
'I was deeply occupied,' she said in an undertone.
'Yes--I too came to see him pass. I heard this morning that Lord
Nelson had embarked, and I knew at once that they would sail
immediately. The Victory and Euryalus are to join the rest of the
fleet at Plymouth. There was a great crowd of people assembled to
see the admiral off; they cheered him and the ship as she dropped
down. He took his coffin on board with him, they say.'
'His coffin!' said Anne, turning deadly pale. 'Something terrible,
then, is meant by that! O, why would Bob go in that ship? doomed to
destruction from the very beginning like this!'
'It was his determination to sail under Captain Hardy, and under no
one else,' said John. 'There may be hot work; but we must hope for
the best.' And observing how wretched she looked, he added, 'But
won't you let me help you back? If you can walk as far as Hope Cove
it will be enough. A lerret is going from there across the bay
homeward to the harbour in the course of an hour; it belongs to a
man I know, and they can take one passenger, I am sure.'
She turned her back upon the Channel, and by his help soon reached
the place indicated. The boat was lying there as he had said. She
found it to belong to the old man who had been with her at the Bill,
and was in charge of his two younger sons. The trumpet-major helped
her into it over the slippery blocks of stone, one of the young men
spread his jacket for her to sit on, and as soon as they pulled from
shore John climbed up the blue-grey cliff, and disappeared over the
top, to return to the mainland by road.
Anne was in the town by three o'clock. The trip in the stern of the
lerret had quite refreshed her, with the help of the biscuits, which
she had at last been able to eat. The van from the port to
Overcombe did not start till four o'clock, and feeling no further
interest in the gaieties of the place, she strolled on past the
King's house to the outskirts, her mind settling down again upon the
possibly sad fate of the Victory when she found herself alone. She
did not hurry on; and finding that even now there wanted another
half-hour to the carrier's time, she turned into a little lane to
escape the inspection of the numerous passers-by. Here all was
quite lonely and still, and she sat down under a willow-tree,
absently regarding the landscape, which had begun to put on the rich
tones of declining summer, but which to her was as hollow and faded
as a theatre by day. She could hold out no longer; burying her face
in her hands, she wept without restraint.
Some yards behind her was a little spring of water, having a stone
margin round it to prevent the cattle from treading in the sides and
filling it up with dirt. While she wept, two elderly gentlemen
entered unperceived upon the scene, and walked on to the spring's
brink. Here they paused and looked in, afterwards moving round it,
and then stooping as if to smell or taste its waters. The spring
was, in fact, a sulphurous one, then recently discovered by a
physician who lived in the neighbourhood; and it was beginning to
attract some attention, having by common report contributed to
effect such wonderful cures as almost passed belief. After a
considerable discussion, apparently on how the pool might be
improved for better use, one of the two elderly gentlemen turned
away, leaving the other still probing the spring with his cane. The
first stranger, who wore a blue coat with gilt buttons, came on in
the direction of Anne Garland, and seeing her sad posture went
quickly up to her, and said abruptly, 'What is the matter?'
Anne, who in her grief had observed nothing of the gentlemen's
presence, withdrew her handkerchief from her eyes and started to her
feet. She instantly recognised her interrogator as the King.
'What, what, crying?' his Majesty inquired kindly. 'How is this!'
'I--have seen a dear friend go away, sir,' she faltered, with
'Ah--partings are sad--very sad--for us all. You must hope your
friend will return soon. Where is he or she gone?'
'I don't know, your Majesty.'
'Don't know--how is that?'
'He is a sailor on board the Victory.'
'Then he has reason to be proud,' said the King with interest. 'He
is your brother?'
Anne tried to explain what he was, but could not, and blushed with
'Well, well, well; what is his name?'
In spite of Anne's confusion and low spirits, her womanly shrewdness
told her at once that no harm could be done by revealing Bob's name;
and she answered, 'His name is Robert Loveday, sir.'
'Loveday--a good name. I shall not forget it. Now dry your cheeks,
and don't cry any more. Loveday--Robert Loveday.'
Anne curtseyed, the King smiled good-humouredly, and turned to
rejoin his companion, who was afterwards heard to be Dr. --, the
physician in attendance at Gloucester Lodge. This gentleman had in
the meantime filled a small phial with the medicinal water, which he
carefully placed in his pocket; and on the King coming up they
retired together and disappeared. Thereupon Anne, now thoroughly
aroused, followed the same way with a gingerly tread, just in time
to see them get into a carriage which was in waiting at the turning
of the lane.
She quite forgot the carrier, and everything else in connexion with
riding home. Flying along the road rapidly and unconsciously, when
she awoke to a sense of her whereabouts she was so near to Overcombe
as to make the carrier not worth waiting for. She had been borne up
in this hasty spurt at the end of a weary day by visions of Bob
promoted to the rank of admiral, or something equally wonderful, by
the King's special command, the chief result of the promotion being,
in her arrangement of the piece, that he would stay at home and go
to sea no more. But she was not a girl who indulged in extravagant
fancies long, and before she reached home she thought that the King
had probably forgotten her by that time, and her troubles, and her
XXXV. A SAILOR ENTERS
The remaining fortnight of the month of September passed away, with
a general decline from the summer's excitements. The royal family
left the watering-place the first week in October, the German Legion
with their artillery about the same time. The dragoons still
remained at the barracks just out of the town, and John Loveday
brought to Anne every newspaper that he could lay hands on,
especially such as contained any fragment of shipping news. This
threw them much together; and at these times John was often awkward
and confused, on account of the unwonted stress of concealing his
great love for her.
Her interests had grandly developed from the limits of Overcombe and
the town life hard by, to an extensiveness truly European. During
the whole month of October, however, not a single grain of
information reached her, or anybody else, concerning Nelson and his
blockading squadron off Cadiz. There were the customary bad jokes
about Buonaparte, especially when it was found that the whole French
army had turned its back upon Boulogne and set out for the Rhine.
Then came accounts of his march through Germany and into Austria;
but not a word about the Victory.
At the beginning of autumn John brought news which fearfully
depressed her. The Austrian General Mack had capitulated with his
whole army. Then were revived the old misgivings as to invasion.
'Instead of having to cope with him weary with waiting, we shall
have to encounter This Man fresh from the fields of victory,' ran
the newspaper article.
But the week which had led off with such a dreary piping was to end
in another key. On the very day when Mack's army was piling arms at
the feet of its conqueror, a blow had been struck by Bob Loveday and
his comrades which eternally shattered the enemy's force by sea.
Four days after the receipt of the Austrian news Corporal Tullidge
ran into the miller's house to inform him that on the previous
Monday, at eleven in the morning, the Pickle schooner, Lieutenant
Lapenotiere, had arrived at Falmouth with despatches from the fleet;
that the stage-coaches on the highway through Wessex to London were
chalked with the words 'Great Victory!' 'Glorious Triumph!' and so
on; and that all the country people were wild to know particulars.
On Friday afternoon John arrived with authentic news of the battle
off Cape Trafalgar, and the death of Nelson. Captain Hardy was
alive, though his escape had been narrow enough, his shoe-buckle
having been carried away by a shot. It was feared that the Victory
had been the scene of the heaviest slaughter among all the ships
engaged, but as yet no returns of killed and wounded had been
issued, beyond a rough list of the numbers in some of the ships.
The suspense of the little household in Overcombe Mill was great in
the extreme. John came thither daily for more than a week; but no
further particulars reached England till the end of that time, and
then only the meagre intelligence that there had been a gale
immediately after the battle, and that many of the prizes had been
lost. Anne said little to all these things, and preserved a
superstratum of calmness on her countenance; but some inner voice
seemed to whisper to her that Bob was no more. Miller Loveday drove
to Pos'ham several times to learn if the Captain's sisters had
received any more definite tidings than these flying reports; but
that family had heard nothing which could in any way relieve the
miller's anxiety. When at last, at the end of November, there
appeared a final and revised list of killed and wounded as issued by
Admiral Collingwood, it was a useless sheet to the Lovedays. To
their great pain it contained no names but those of officers, the
friends of ordinary seamen and marines being in those good old days
left to discover their losses as best they might.
Anne's conviction of her loss increased with the darkening of the
early winter time. Bob was not a cautious man who would avoid
needless exposure, and a hundred and fifty of the Victory's crew had
been disabled or slain. Anybody who had looked into her room at
this time would have seen that her favourite reading was the office
for the Burial of the Dead at Sea, beginning 'We therefore commit
his body to the deep.' In these first days of December several of
the victorious fleet came into port; but not the Victory. Many
supposed that that noble ship, disabled by the battle, had gone to
the bottom in the subsequent tempestuous weather; and the belief was
persevered in till it was told in the town and port that she had
been seen passing up the Channel. Two days later the Victory
arrived at Portsmouth.
Then letters from survivors began to appear in the public prints
which John so regularly brought to Anne; but though he watched the
mails with unceasing vigilance there was never a letter from Bob.
It sometimes crossed John's mind that his brother might still be
alive and well, and that in his wish to abide by his expressed
intention of giving up Anne and home life he was deliberately lax in
writing. If so, Bob was carrying out the idea too thoughtlessly by
half, as could be seen by watching the effects of suspense upon the
fair face of the victim, and the anxiety of the rest of the family.
It was a clear day in December. The first slight snow of the season
had been sifted over the earth, and one side of the apple-tree
branches in the miller's garden was touched with white, though a few
leaves were still lingering on the tops of the younger trees. A
short sailor of the Royal Navy, who was not Bob, nor anything like
him, crossed the mill court and came to the door. The miller
hastened out and brought him into the room, where John, Mrs.
Loveday, and Anne Garland were all present.
'I'm from aboard the Victory,' said the sailor. 'My name's Jim
Cornick. And your lad is alive and well.'
They breathed rather than spoke their thankfulness and relief, the
miller's eyes being moist as he turned aside to calm himself; while
Anne, having first jumped up wildly from her seat, sank back again
under the almost insupportable joy that trembled through her limbs
to her utmost finger.
'I've come from Spithead to Pos'ham,' the sailor continued, 'and now
I am going on to father at Budmouth.'
'Ah!--I know your father,' cried the trumpet-major, 'old James
It was the man who had brought Anne in his lerret from Portland
'And Bob hasn't got a scratch?' said the miller.
'Not a scratch,' said Cornick.
Loveday then bustled off to draw the visitor something to drink.
Anne Garland, with a glowing blush on her face, had gone to the back
part of the room, where she was the very embodiment of sweet content
as she slightly swayed herself without speaking. A little tide of
happiness seemed to ebb and flow through her in listening to the
sailor's words, moving her figure with it. The seaman and John went
'Bob had a good deal to do with barricading the hawse-holes afore we
were in action, and the Adm'l and Cap'n both were very much pleased
at how 'twas done. When the Adm'l went up the quarter-deck ladder,
Cap'n Hardy said a word or two to Bob, but what it was I don't know,
for I was quartered at a gun some ways off. However, Bob saw the
Adm'l stagger when 'a was wownded, and was one of the men who
carried him to the cockpit. After that he and some other lads
jumped aboard the French ship, and I believe they was in her when
she struck her flag. What 'a did next I can't say, for the wind had
dropped, and the smoke was like a cloud. But 'a got a good deal
talked about; and they say there's promotion in store for'n.'
At this point in the story Jim Cornick stopped to drink, and a low
unconscious humming came from Anne in her distant corner; the faint
melody continued more or less when the conversation between the
sailor and the Lovedays was renewed.
'We heard afore that the Victory was near knocked to pieces,' said
'Knocked to pieces? You'd say so if so be you could see her! Gad,
her sides be battered like an old penny piece; the shot be still
sticking in her wales, and her sails be like so many clap-nets: we
have run all the way home under jury topmasts; and as for her decks,
you may swab wi' hot water, and you may swab wi' cold, but there's
the blood-stains, and there they'll bide. . . . The Cap'n had a
narrow escape, like many o' the rest--a shot shaved his ankle like a
razor. You should have seen that man's face in the het o' battle,
his features were as if they'd been cast in steel.'
'We rather expected a letter from Bob before this.'
'Well,' said Jim Cornick, with a smile of toleration, 'you must make
allowances. The truth o't is, he's engaged just now at Portsmouth,
like a good many of the rest from our ship. . . . 'Tis a very nice
young woman that he's a courting of, and I make no doubt that she'll
be an excellent wife for him.'
'Ah!' said Mrs. Loveday, in a warning tone.
'Courting--wife?' said the miller.
They instinctively looked towards Anne. Anne had started as if
shaken by an invisible hand, and a thick mist of doubt seemed to
obscure the intelligence of her eyes. This was but for two or three
moments. Very pale, she arose and went right up to the seaman.
John gently tried to intercept her, but she passed him by.
'Do you speak of Robert Loveday as courting a wife?' she asked,
without the least betrayal of emotion.
'I didn't see you, miss,' replied Cornick, turning. 'Yes, your
brother hev' his eye on a wife, and he deserves one. I hope you
'Not in the least,' she said, with a stage laugh. 'I am interested,
naturally. And what is she?'
'A very nice young master-baker's daughter, honey. A very wise
choice of the young man's.'
'Is she fair or dark?'
'Her hair is rather light.'
'I like light hair; and her name?'
'Her name is Caroline. But can it be that my story hurts ye? If
'Yes, yes,' said John, interposing anxiously. 'We don't care for
more just at this moment.'
'We DO care for more!' said Anne vehemently. 'Tell it all, sailor.
That is a very pretty name, Caroline. When are they going to be
'I don't know as how the day is settled,' answered Jim, even now
scarcely conscious of the devastation he was causing in one fair
breast. 'But from the rate the courting is scudding along at, I
should say it won't be long first.'
'If you see him when you go back, give him my best wishes,' she
lightly said, as she moved away. 'And,' she added, with solemn
bitterness, 'say that I am glad to hear he is making such good use
of the first days of his escape from the Valley of the Shadow of
Death!' She went away, expressing indifference by audibly singing
in the distance--
'Shall we go dance the round, the round, the round,
Shall we go dance the round?'
'Your sister is lively at the news,' observed Jim Cornick.
'Yes,' murmured John gloomily, as he gnawed his lower lip and kept
his eyes fixed on the fire.
'Well,' continued the man from the Victory, 'I won't say that your
brother's intended ha'n't got some ballast, which is very lucky
for'n, as he might have picked up with a girl without a single
copper nail. To be sure there was a time we had when we got into
port! It was open house for us all!' And after mentally regarding
the scene for a few seconds Jim emptied his cup and rose to go.
The miller was saying some last words to him outside the house,
Anne's voice had hardly ceased singing upstairs, John was standing
by the fireplace, and Mrs. Loveday was crossing the room to join her
daughter, whose manner had given her some uneasiness, when a noise
came from above the ceiling, as of some heavy body falling. Mrs.
Loveday rushed to the staircase, saying, 'Ah, I feared something!'
and she was followed by John.
When they entered Anne's room, which they both did almost at one
moment, they found her lying insensible upon the floor. The
trumpet-major, his lips tightly closed, lifted her in his arms, and
laid her upon the bed; after which he went back to the door to give
room to her mother, who was bending over the girl with some
Presently Mrs. Loveday looked up and said to him, 'She is only in a
faint, John, and her colour is coming back. Now leave her to me; I
will be downstairs in a few minutes, and tell you how she is.'
John left the room. When he gained the lower apartment his father
was standing by the chimney-piece, the sailor having gone. The
trumpet-major went up to the fire, and, grasping the edge of the
high chimney-shelf, stood silent.
'Did I hear a noise when I went out?' asked the elder, in a tone of
'Yes, you did,' said John. 'It was she, but her mother says she is
better now. Father,' he added impetuously, 'Bob is a worthless
blockhead! If there had been any good in him he would have been
drowned years ago!'
'John, John--not too fast,' said the miller. 'That's a hard thing
to say of your brother, and you ought to be ashamed of it.'
'Well, he tries me more than I can bear. Good God! what can a man
be made of to go on as he does? Why didn't he come home; or if he
couldn't get leave why didn't he write? 'Tis scandalous of him to
serve a woman like that!'
'Gently, gently. The chap hev done his duty as a sailor; and though
there might have been something between him and Anne, her mother, in
talking it over with me, has said many times that she couldn't think
of their marrying till Bob had settled down in business with me.
Folks that gain victories must have a little liberty allowed 'em.
Look at the Admiral himself, for that matter.'
John continued looking at the red coals, till hearing Mrs. Loveday's
foot on the staircase, he went to meet her.
'She is better,' said Mrs. Loveday; 'but she won't come down again
Could John have heard what the poor girl was moaning to herself at
that moment as she lay writhing on the bed, he would have doubted
her mother's assurance. 'If he had been dead I could have borne it,
but this I cannot bear!'
XXXVI. DERRIMAN SEES CHANCES
Meanwhile Sailor Cornick had gone on his way as far as the forking
roads, where he met Festus Derriman on foot. The latter, attracted
by the seaman's dress, and by seeing him come from the mill, at once
accosted him. Jim, with the greatest readiness, fell into
conversation, and told the same story as that he had related at the
'Bob Loveday going to be married?' repeated Festus.
'You all seem struck of a heap wi' that.'
'No; I never heard news that pleased me more.'
When Cornick was gone, Festus, instead of passing straight on,
halted on the little bridge and meditated. Bob, being now
interested elsewhere, would probably not resent the siege of Anne's
heart by another; there could, at any rate, be no further
possibility of that looming duel which had troubled the yeoman's
mind ever since his horse-play on Anne at the house on the down. To
march into the mill and propose to Mrs. Loveday for Anne before
John's interest could revive in her was, to this hero's thinking,
The day had already begun to darken when he entered, and the
cheerful fire shone red upon the floor and walls. Mrs. Loveday
received him alone, and asked him to take a seat by the
chimney-corner, a little of the old hankering for him as a
son-in-law having permanently remained with her.
'Your servant, Mrs. Loveday,' he said, 'and I will tell you at once
what I come for. You will say that I take time by the forelock when
I inform you that it is to push on my long-wished-for alliance wi'
your daughter, as I believe she is now a free woman again.'
'Thank you, Mr. Derriman,' said the mother placably. 'But she is
ill at present. I'll mention it to her when she is better.'
'Ask her to alter her cruel, cruel resolves against me, on the score
of--of my consuming passion for her. In short,' continued Festus,
dropping his parlour language in his warmth, 'I'll tell thee what,
Dame Loveday, I want the maid, and must have her.'
Mrs. Loveday replied that that was very plain speaking.
'Well, 'tis. But Bob has given her up. He never meant to marry
her. I'll tell you, Mrs. Loveday, what I have never told a soul
before. I was standing upon Budmouth Quay on that very day in last
September that Bob set sail, and I heard him say to his brother John
that he gave your daughter up.'
'Then it was very unmannerly of him to trifle with her so,' said
Mrs. Loveday warmly. 'Who did he give her up to?'
Festus replied with hesitation, 'He gave her up to John.'
'To John? How could he give her up to a man already over head and
ears in love with that actress woman?'
'O? You surprise me. Which actress is it?'
'That Miss Johnson. Anne tells me that he loves her hopelessly.'
Festus arose. Miss Johnson seemed suddenly to acquire high value as
a sweetheart at this announcement. He had himself felt a nameless
attractiveness in her, and John had done likewise. John crossed his
path in all possible ways.
Before the yeoman had replied somebody opened the door, and the
firelight shone upon the uniform of the person they discussed.
Festus nodded on recognizing him, wished Mrs. Loveday good evening,
and went out precipitately.
'So Bob told you he meant to break off with my Anne when he went
away?' Mrs. Loveday remarked to the trumpet-major. 'I wish I had
known of it before.'
John appeared disturbed at the sudden charge. He murmured that he
could not deny it, and then hastily turned from her and followed
Derriman, whom he saw before him on the bridge.
'Derriman!' he shouted.
Festus started and looked round. 'Well, trumpet-major,' he said
'When will you have sense enough to mind your own business, and not
come here telling things you have heard by sneaking behind people's
backs?' demanded John hotly. 'If you can't learn in any other way,
I shall have to pull your ears again, as I did the other day!'
'YOU pull my ears? How can you tell that lie, when you know 'twas
somebody else pulled 'em?'
'O no, no. I pulled your ears, and thrashed you in a mild way.'
'You'll swear to it? Surely 'twas another man?'
'It was in the parlour at the public-house; you were almost in the
dark.' And John added a few details as to the particular blows,
which amounted to proof itself.
'Then I heartily ask your pardon for saying 'twas a lie!' cried
Festus, advancing with extended hand and a genial smile. 'Sure, if
I had known 'TWAS you, I wouldn't have insulted you by denying it.'
'That was why you didn't challenge me, then?'
'That was it! I wouldn't for the world have hurt your nice sense of
honour by letting 'ee go unchallenged, if I had known! And now, you
see, unfortunately I can't mend the mistake. So long a time has
passed since it happened that the heat of my temper is gone off. I
couldn't oblige 'ee, try how I might, for I am not a man,
trumpet-major, that can butcher in cold blood--no, not I, nor you
neither, from what I know of 'ee. So, willy-nilly, we must fain let
it pass, eh?'
'We must, I suppose,' said John, smiling grimly. 'Who did you think
I was, then, that night when I boxed you all round?'
'No, don't press me,' replied the yeoman. 'I can't reveal; it would
be disgracing myself to show how very wide of the truth the mockery
of wine was able to lead my senses. We will let it be buried in
eternal mixens of forgetfulness.'
'As you wish,' said the trumpet-major loftily. 'But if you ever
SHOULD think you knew it was me, why, you know where to find me?'
And Loveday walked away.
The instant that he was gone Festus shook his fist at the evening
star, which happened to lie in the same direction as that taken by
'Now for my revenge! Duels? Lifelong disgrace to me if ever I
fight with a man of blood below my own! There are other remedies
for upper-class souls!. . . Matilda--that's my way.'
Festus strode along till he reached the Hall, where Cripplestraw
appeared gazing at him from under the arch of the porter's lodge.
Derriman dashed open the entrance-hurdle with such violence that the
whole row of them fell flat in the mud.
'Mercy, Maister Festus!' said Cripplestraw. '"Surely," I says to
myself when I see ye a-coming, "surely Maister Festus is fuming like
that because there's no chance of the enemy coming this year after
'Cr-r-ripplestraw! I have been wounded to the heart,' replied
Derriman, with a lurid brow.
'And the man yet lives, and you wants yer horse-pistols instantly?
Certainly, Maister F--'
'No, Cripplestraw, not my pistols, but my new-cut clothes, my heavy
gold seals, my silver-topped cane, and my buckles that cost more
money than he ever saw! Yes, I must tell somebody, and I'll tell
you, because there's no other fool near. He loves her heart and
soul. He's poor; she's tip-top genteel, and not rich. I am rich,
by comparison. I'll court the pretty play-actress, and win her
before his eyes.'
'Play-actress, Maister Derriman?'
'Yes. I saw her this very day, met her by accident, and spoke to
her. She's still in the town--perhaps because of him. I can meet
her at any hour of the day-- But I don't mean to marry her; not I.
I will court her for my pastime, and to annoy him. It will be all
the more death to him that I don't want her. Then perhaps he will
say to me, "You have taken my one ewe lamb"--meaning that I am the
king, and he's the poor man, as in the church verse; and he'll beg
for mercy when 'tis too late--unless, meanwhile, I shall have tired
of my new toy. Saddle the horse, Cripplestraw, tomorrow at ten.'
Full of this resolve to scourge John Loveday to the quick through
his passion for Miss Johnson, Festus came out booted and spurred at
the time appointed, and set off on his morning ride.
Miss Johnson's theatrical engagement having long ago terminated, she
would have left the Royal watering-place with the rest of the
visitors had not matrimonial hopes detained her there. These had
nothing whatever to do with John Loveday, as may be imagined, but
with a stout, staid boat-builder in Cove Row by the quay, who had
shown much interest in her impersonations. Unfortunately this
substantial man had not been quite so attentive since the end of the
season as his previous manner led her to expect; and it was a great
pleasure to the lady to see Mr. Derriman leaning over the harbour
bridge with his eyes fixed upon her as she came towards it after a
stroll past her elderly wooer's house.
'Od take it, ma'am, you didn't tell me when I saw you last that the
tooting man with the blue jacket and lace was yours devoted?' began
'Who do you mean?' In Matilda's ever-changing emotional interests,
John Loveday was a stale and unprofitable personality.
'Why, that trumpet-major man.'
'O! What of him?'
'Come; he loves you, and you know it, ma'am.'
She knew, at any rate, how to take the current when it served. So
she glanced at Festus, folded her lips meaningly, and nodded.
'I've come to cut him out.'
She shook her head, it being unsafe to speak till she knew a little
more of the subject.
'What!' said Festus, reddening, 'do you mean to say that you think
of him seriously--you, who might look so much higher?'
'Constant dropping will wear away a stone; and you should only hear
his pleading! His handsome face is impressive, and his manners are-
-O, so genteel! I am not rich; I am, in short, a poor lady of
decayed family, who has nothing to boast of but my blood and
ancestors, and they won't find a body in food and clothing!--I hold
the world but as the world, Derrimanio--a stage where every man must
play a part, and mine a sad one!' She dropped her eyes thoughtfully
'We will talk of this,' said Festus, much affected. 'Let us walk to
She made no objection, and said, as they turned that way, 'Mr.
Derriman, a long time ago I found something belonging to you; but I
have never yet remembered to return it.' And she drew from her
bosom the paper which Anne had dropped in the meadow when eluding
the grasp of Festus on that summer day.
'Zounds, I smell fresh meat!' cried Festus when he had looked it
over. ''Tis in my uncle's writing, and 'tis what I heard him
singing on the day the French didn't come, and afterwards saw him
marking in the road. 'Tis something he's got hid away. Give me the
paper, there's a dear; 'tis worth sterling gold!'
'Halves, then?' said Matilda tenderly.
'Gad, yes--anything!' replied Festus, blazing into a smile, for she
had looked up in her best new manner at the possibility that he
might be worth the winning. They went up the steps to the summit of
the cliff, and dwindled over it against the sky.
There was no letter from Bob, though December had passed, and the
new year was two weeks old. His movements were, however, pretty
accurately registered in the papers, which John still brought, but
which Anne no longer read. During the second week in December the
Victory sailed for Sheerness, and on the 9th of the following
January the public funeral of Lord Nelson took place in St. Paul's.
Then there came a meagre line addressed to the family in general.
Bob's new Portsmouth attachment was not mentioned, but he told them
he had been one of the eight-and-forty seamen who walked two-and-two
in the funeral procession, and that Captain Hardy had borne the
banner of emblems on the same occasion. The crew was soon to be
paid off at Chatham, when he thought of returning to Portsmouth for
a few days to see a valued friend. After that he should come home.
But the spring advanced without bringing him, and John watched Anne
Garland's desolation with augmenting desire to do something towards
consoling her. The old feelings, so religiously held in check, were
stimulated to rebelliousness, though they did not show themselves in
any direct manner as yet.
The miller, in the meantime, who seldom interfered in such matters,
was observed to look meaningly at Anne and the trumpet-major from
day to day; and by-and-by he spoke privately to John.
His words were short and to the point: Anne was very melancholy;
she had thought too much of Bob. Now 'twas plain that they had lost
him for many years to come. Well; he had always felt that of the
two he would rather John married her. Now John might settle down
there, and succeed where Bob had failed. 'So if you could get her,
my sonny, to think less of him and more of thyself, it would be a
good thing for all.'
An inward excitement had risen in John; but he suppressed it and