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The Trumpet-Major

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 nothing.
'Beautiful language, isn't it!' said Bob. 'I was never greeted like that afore!'
'Yes; I have often thought it very excellent language myself,' said Mrs. Loveday.
'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.
'Why not?'
'Well, folk might call thee a fool, and say thy brains were turning to water.'
 
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