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Somebody Knocks And Comes In
Miller Loveday was the representative of an ancient family of corn-grinders whose
history is lost in the mists of antiquity. His ancestral line was contemporaneous with that
of De Ros, Howard, and De La Zouche; but, owing to some trifling deficiency in the
possessions of the house of Loveday, the individual names and intermarriages of its
members were not recorded during the Middle Ages, and thus their private lives in any
given century were uncertain. But it was known that the family had formed matrimonial
alliances with farmers not so very small, and once with a gentleman- tanner, who had for
many years purchased after their death the horses of the most aristocratic persons in the
county--fiery steeds that earlier in their career had been valued at many hundred guineas.
It was also ascertained that Mr. Loveday's great-grandparents had been eight in number,
and his great-great-grandparents sixteen, every one of whom reached to years of
discretion: at every stage backwards his sires and gammers thus doubled and doubled till
they became a vast body of Gothic ladies and gentlemen of the rank known as ceorls or
villeins, full of importance to the country at large, and ramifying throughout the
unwritten history of England. His immediate father had greatly improved the value of
their residence by building a new chimney, and setting up an additional pair of
Overcombe Mill presented at one end the appearance of a hard-worked house slipping
into the river, and at the other of an idle, genteel place, half-cloaked with creepers at this
time of the year, and having no visible connexion with flour. It had hips instead of gables,
giving it a round-shouldered look, four chimneys with no smoke coming out of them, two
zigzag cracks in the wall, several open windows, with a looking-glass here and there
inside, showing its warped back to the passer-by; snowy dimity curtains waving in the
draught; two mill doors, one above the other, the upper enabling a person to step out upon
nothing at a height of ten feet from the ground; a gaping arch vomiting the river, and a
lean, long-nosed fellow looking out from the mill doorway, who was the hired grinder,
except when a bulging fifteen stone man occupied the same place, namely, the miller
Behind the mill door, and invisible to the mere wayfarer who did not visit the family,
were chalked addition and subtraction sums, many of them originally done wrong, and
the figures half rubbed out and corrected, noughts being turned into nines, and ones into
twos. These were the miller's private calculations. There were also chalked in the same
place rows and rows of strokes like open palings, representing the calculations of the
grinder, who in his youthful ciphering studies had not gone so far as Arabic figures.
In the court in front were two worn-out millstones, made useful again by being let in
level with the ground. Here people stood to smoke and consider things in muddy weather;
and cats slept on the clean surfaces when it was hot. In the large stubbard-tree at the
corner of the garden was erected a pole of larch fir, which the miller had bought with