The Trumpet-Major HTML version
'Captain' Bob Loveday Of The Merchant Service
While Loveday and his neighbours were thus rambling forth, full of expectancy, some of
them, including Anne in the rear, heard the crackling of light wheels along the curved
lane to which the path was the chord. At once Anne thought, 'Perhaps that's he, and we
are missing him.' But recent events were not of a kind to induce her to say anything; and
the others of the company did not reflect on the sound.
Had they gone across to the hedge which hid the lane, and looked through it, they would
have seen a light cart driven by a boy, beside whom was seated a seafaring man,
apparently of good standing in the merchant service, with his feet outside on the shaft.
The vehicle went over the main bridge, turned in upon the other bridge at the tail of the
mill, and halted by the door. The sailor alighted, showing himself to be a well-shaped,
active, and fine young man, with a bright eye, an anonymous nose, and of such a rich
complexion by exposure to ripening suns that he might have been some connexion of the
foreigner who calls his likeness the Portrait of a Gentleman in galleries of the Old
Masters. Yet in spite of this, and though Bob Loveday had been all over the world from
Cape Horn to Pekin, and from India's coral strand to the White Sea, the most conspicuous
of all the marks that he had brought back with him was an increased resemblance to his
mother, who had lain all the time beneath Overcombe church wall.
Captain Loveday tried the house door; finding this locked he went to the mill door: this
was locked also, the mill being stopped for the night.
'They are not at home,' he said to the boy. 'But never mind that. Just help to unload the
things and then I'll pay you, and you can drive off home.'
The cart was unloaded, and the boy was dismissed, thanking the sailor profusely for the
payment rendered. Then Bob Loveday, finding that he had still some leisure on his hands,
looked musingly east, west, north, south, and nadir; after which he bestirred himself by
carrying his goods, article by article, round to the back door, out of the way of casual
passers. This done, he walked round the mill in a more regardful attitude, and surveyed
its familiar features one by one--the panes of the grinding-room, now as heretofore
clouded with flour as with stale hoar-frost; the meal lodged in the corners of the window-
sills, forming a soil in which lichens grew without ever getting any bigger, as they had
done since his smallest infancy; the mosses on the plinth towards the river, reaching as
high as the capillary power of the walls would fetch up moisture for their nourishment,
and the penned mill-pond, now as ever on the point of overflowing into the garden.
Everything was the same.
When he had had enough of this it occurred to Loveday that he might get into the house
in spite of the locked doors; and by entering the garden, placing a pole from the fork of
an apple-tree to the window-sill of a bedroom on that side, and climbing across like a
Barbary ape, he entered the window and stepped down inside. There was something
anomalous in being close to the familiar furniture without having first seen his father, and