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What Was Seen From The Window Overlooking The
In the days of high-waisted and muslin-gowned women, when the vast amount of
soldiering going on in the country was a cause of much trembling to the sex, there lived
in a village near the Wessex coast two ladies of good report, though unfortunately of
limited means. The elder was a Mrs. Martha Garland, a landscape-painter's widow, and
the other was her only daughter Anne.
Anne was fair, very fair, in a poetical sense; but in complexion she was of that particular
tint between blonde and brunette which is inconveniently left without a name. Her eyes
were honest and inquiring, her mouth cleanly cut and yet not classical, the middle point
of her upper lip scarcely descending so far as it should have done by rights, so that at the
merest pleasant thought, not to mention a smile, portions of two or three white teeth were
uncovered whether she would or not. Some people said that this was very attractive. She
was graceful and slender, and, though but little above five feet in height, could draw
herself up to look tall. In her manner, in her comings and goings, in her 'I'll do this,' or 'I'll
do that,' she combined dignity with sweetness as no other girl could do; and any
impressionable stranger youths who passed by were led to yearn for a windfall of speech
from her, and to see at the same time that they would not get it. In short, beneath all that
was charming and simple in this young woman there lurked a real firmness, unperceived
at first, as the speck of colour lurks unperceived in the heart of the palest parsley flower.
She wore a white handkerchief to cover her white neck, and a cap on her head with a pink
ribbon round it, tied in a bow at the front. She had a great variety of these cap-ribbons,
the young men being fond of sending them to her as presents until they fell definitely in
love with a special sweetheart elsewhere, when they left off doing so. Between the border
of her cap and her forehead were ranged a row of round brown curls, like swallows' nests
under eaves.
She lived with her widowed mother in a portion of an ancient building formerly a manor-
house, but now a mill, which, being too large for his own requirements, the miller had
found it convenient to divide and appropriate in part to these highly respectable tenants.
In this dwelling Mrs. Garland's and Anne's ears were soothed morning, noon, and night
by the music of the mill, the wheels and cogs of which, being of wood, produced notes
that might have borne in their minds a remote resemblance to the wooden tones of the
stopped diapason in an organ. Occasionally, when the miller was bolting, there was added
to these continuous sounds the cheerful clicking of the hopper, which did not deprive
them of rest except when it was kept going all night; and over and above all this they had
the pleasure of knowing that there crept in through every crevice, door, and window of
their dwelling, however tightly closed, a subtle mist of superfine flour from the grinding
room, quite invisible, but making its presence known in the course of time by giving a
pallid and ghostly look to the best furniture. The miller frequently apologized to his
tenants for the intrusion of this insidious dry fog; but the widow was of a friendly and