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The Trumpet-Major

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.
 
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