The Trumpet-Major HTML version
Anne Is Kindly Fetched By The Trumpet-Major
After this, Anne would on no account walk in the direction of the hall for fear of another
encounter with young Derriman. In the course of a few days it was told in the village that
the old farmer had actually gone for a week's holiday and change of air to the Royal
watering-place near at hand, at the instance of his nephew Festus. This was a wonderful
thing to hear of Uncle Benjy, who had not slept outside the walls of Oxwell Hall for
many a long year before; and Anne well imagined what extraordinary pressure must have
been put upon him to induce him to take such a step. She pictured his unhappiness at the
bustling watering-place, and hoped no harm would come to him.
She spent much of her time indoors or in the garden, hearing little of the camp
movements beyond the periodical Ta-ta-ta-taa of the trumpeters sounding their various
ingenious calls for watch-setting, stables, feed, boot-and-saddle, parade, and so on, which
made her think how clever her friend the trumpet-major must be to teach his pupils to
play those pretty little tunes so well.
On the third morning after Uncle Benjy's departure, she was disturbed as usual while
dressing by the tramp of the troops down the slope to the mill-pond, and during the now
familiar stamping and splashing which followed there sounded upon the glass of the
window a slight smack, which might have been caused by a whip or switch. She listened
more particularly, and it was repeated.
As John Loveday was the only dragoon likely to be aware that she slept in that particular
apartment, she imagined the signal to come from him, though wondering that he should
venture upon such a freak of familiarity.
Wrapping herself up in a red cloak, she went to the window, gently drew up a corner of
the curtain, and peeped out, as she had done many times before. Nobody who was not
quite close beneath her window could see her face; but as it happened, somebody was
close. The soldiers whose floundering Anne had heard were not Loveday's dragoons, but
a troop of the York Hussars, quite oblivious of her existence. They had passed on out of
the water, and instead of them there sat Festus Derriman alone on his horse, and in plain
clothes, the water reaching up to the animal's belly, and Festus' heels elevated over the
saddle to keep them out of the stream, which threatened to wash rider and horse into the
deep mill-head just below. It was plainly he who had struck her lattice, for in a moment
he looked up, and their eyes met. Festus laughed loudly, and slapped her window again;
and just at that moment the dragoons began prancing down the slope in review order. She
could not but wait a minute or two to see them pass. While doing so she was suddenly led
to draw back, drop the corner of the curtain, and blush privately in her room. She had not
only been seen by Festus Derriman, but by John Loveday, who, riding along with his
trumpet slung up behind him, had looked over his shoulder at the phenomenon of
Derriman beneath Anne's bedroom window and seemed quite astounded at the sight.