Who Were Present At The Miller's Little Entertainment
When the group entered the presence of the company a lull in the conversation was
caused by the sight of new visitors, and (of course) by the charm of Anne's appearance;
until the old men, who had daughters of their own, perceiving that she was only a half-
formed girl, resumed their tales and toss-potting with unconcern.
Miller Loveday had fraternized with half the soldiers in the camp since their arrival, and
the effect of this upon his party was striking--both chromatically and otherwise. Those
among the guests who first attracted the eye were the sergeants and sergeant-majors of
Loveday's regiment, fine hearty men, who sat facing the candles, entirely resigned to
physical comfort. Then there were other non-commissioned officers, a German, two
Hungarians, and a Swede, from the foreign hussars--young men with a look of sadness on
their faces, as if they did not much like serving so far from home. All of them spoke
English fairly well. Old age was represented by Simon Burden the pensioner, and the
shady side of fifty by Corporal Tullidge, his friend and neighbour, who was hard of
hearing, and sat with his hat on over a red cotton handkerchief that was wound several
times round his head. These two veterans were employed as watchers at the neighbouring
beacon, which had lately been erected by the Lord-Lieutenant for firing whenever the
descent on the coast should be made. They lived in a little hut on the hill, close by the
heap of faggots; but to-night they had found deputies to watch in their stead.
On a lower plane of experience and qualifications came neighbour James Comfort, of the
Volunteers, a soldier by courtesy, but a blacksmith by rights; also William Tremlett and
Anthony Cripplestraw, of the local forces. The two latter men of war were dressed merely
as villagers, and looked upon the regulars from a humble position in the background. The
remainder of the party was made up of a neighbouring dairyman or two, and their wives,
invited by the miller, as Anne was glad to see, that she and her mother should not be the
only women there.
The elder Loveday apologized in a whisper to Mrs. Garland for the presence of the
inferior villagers. 'But as they are learning to be brave defenders of their home and
country, ma'am, as fast as they can master the drill, and have worked for me off and on
these many years, I've asked 'em in, and thought you'd excuse it.'
'Certainly, Miller Loveday,' said the widow.
'And the same of old Burden and Tullidge. They have served well and long in the Foot,
and even now have a hard time of it up at the beacon in wet weather. So after giving them
a meal in the kitchen I just asked 'em in to hear the singing. They faithfully promise that
as soon as ever the gunboats appear in view, and they have fired the beacon, to run down
here first, in case we shouldn't see it. 'Tis worth while to be friendly with 'em, you see,
though their tempers be queer.'
'Quite worth while, miller,' said she.