How They Talked In The Pastures
'You often come this way?' said Festus to Anne rather before he had overtaken her.
'I come for the newspaper and other things,' she said, perplexed by a doubt whether he
were there by accident or design.
They moved on in silence, Festus beating the grass with his switch in a masterful way.
'Did you speak, Mis'ess Anne?' he asked.
'No,' said Anne.
'Ten thousand pardons. I thought you did. Now don't let me drive you out of the path. I
can walk among the high grass and giltycups- -they will not yellow my stockings as they
will yours. Well, what do you think of a lot of soldiers coming to the neighbourhood in
'I think it is very lively, and a great change,' she said with demure seriousness.
'Perhaps you don't like us warriors as a body?'
Anne smiled without replying.
'Why, you are laughing!' said the yeoman, looking searchingly at her and blushing like a
little fire. 'What do you see to laugh at?'
'Did I laugh?' said Anne, a little scared at his sudden mortification.
'Why, yes; you know you did, you young sneerer,' he said like a cross baby. 'You are
laughing at me--that's who you are laughing at! I should like to know what you would do
without such as me if the French were to drop in upon ye any night?'
'Would you help to beat them off?' said she.
'Can you ask such a question? What are we for? But you don't think anything of soldiers.'
O yes, she liked soldiers, she said, especially when they came home from the wars,
covered with glory; though when she thought what doings had won them that glory she
did not like them quite so well. The gallant and appeased yeoman said he supposed her to
mean chopping off heads, blowing out brains, and that kind of business, and thought it
quite right that a tender-hearted thing like her should feel a little horrified. But as for him,
he should not mind such another Blenheim this summer as the army had fought a hundred
years ago, or whenever it was--dash his wig if he should mind it at all. 'Hullo! now you
are laughing again; yes, I saw you!' And the choleric Festus turned his blue eyes and