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- The Trumpet-Major - 1/69 -


THE TRUMPET-MAJOR being a tale of the Trumpet-Major, John Loveday, a soldier in the war with Buonaparte, and Robert, his brother, first mate in the Merchant Service.

by Thomas Hardy

PREFACE

The present tale is founded more largely on testimony--oral and written--than any other in this series. The external incidents which direct its course are mostly an unexaggerated reproduction of the recollections of old persons well known to the author in childhood, but now long dead, who were eye-witnesses of those scenes. If wholly transcribed their recollections would have filled a volume thrice the length of 'The Trumpet-Major.'

Down to the middle of this century, and later, there were not wanting, in the neighbourhood of the places more or less clearly indicated herein, casual relics of the circumstances amid which the action moves--our preparations for defence against the threatened invasion of England by Buonaparte. An outhouse door riddled with bullet-holes, which had been extemporized by a solitary man as a target for firelock practice when the landing was hourly expected, a heap of bricks and clods on a beacon-hill, which had formed the chimney and walls of the hut occupied by the beacon-keeper, worm-eaten shafts and iron heads of pikes for the use of those who had no better weapons, ridges on the down thrown up during the encampment, fragments of volunteer uniform, and other such lingering remains, brought to my imagination in early childhood the state of affairs at the date of the war more vividly than volumes of history could have done.

Those who have attempted to construct a coherent narrative of past times from the fragmentary information furnished by survivors, are aware of the difficulty of ascertaining the true sequence of events indiscriminately recalled. For this purpose the newspapers of the date were indispensable. Of other documents consulted I may mention, for the satisfaction of those who love a true story, that the 'Address to all Ranks and Descriptions of Englishmen' was transcribed from an original copy in a local museum; that the hieroglyphic portrait of Napoleon existed as a print down to the present day in an old woman's cottage near 'Overcombe;' that the particulars of the King's doings at his favourite watering-place were augmented by details from records of the time. The drilling scene of the local militia received some additions from an account given in so grave a work as Gifford's 'History of the Wars of the French Revolution' (London, 1817). But on reference to the History I find I was mistaken in supposing the account to be advanced as authentic, or to refer to rural England. However, it does in a large degree accord with the local traditions of such scenes that I have heard recounted, times without number, and the system of drill was tested by reference to the Army Regulations of 1801, and other military handbooks. Almost the whole narrative of the supposed landing of the French in the Bay is from oral relation as aforesaid. Other proofs of the veracity of this chronicle have escaped my recollection.

T. H.

OCTOBER 1895.

CONTENTS

I. WHAT WAS SEEN FROM THE WINDOW OVERLOOKING THE DOWN II. SOMEBODY KNOCKS AND COMES IN III. THE MILL BECOMES AN IMPORTANT CENTRE OF OPERATIONS IV. WHO WERE PRESENT AT THE MILLER'S LITTLE ENTERTAINMENT V. THE SONG AND THE STRANGER VI. OLD MR. DERRIMAN OF OXWELL HALL VII. HOW THEY TALKED IN THE PASTURES VIII. ANNE MAKES A CIRCUIT OF THE CAMP IX. ANNE IS KINDLY FETCHED BY THE TRUMPET MAJOR X. THE MATCH-MAKING VIRTUES OF A DOUBLE GARDEN XI. OUR PEOPLE ARE AFFECTED BY THE PRESENCE OF ROYALTY XII. HOW EVERYBODY, GREAT AND SMALL, CLIMBED TO THE TOP OF THE DOWNS XIII. THE CONVERSATION IN THE CROWD XIV. LATER IN THE EVENING OF THE SAME DAY XV. 'CAPTAIN' BOB LOVEDAY, OF THE MERCHANT SERVICE XVI. THEY MAKE READY FOR THE ILLUSTRIOUS STRANGER XVII. TWO FAINTING FITS AND A BEWILDERMENT XVIII. THE NIGHT AFTER THE ARRIVAL XIX. MISS JOHNSON'S BEHAVIOUR CAUSES NO LITTLE SURPRISE XX. HOW THEY LESSENED THE EFFECT OF THE CALAMITY XXI. 'UPON THE HILL HE TURNED' XXII. THE TWO HOUSEHOLDS UNITED XXIII. MILITARY PREPARATIONS ON AN EXTENDED SCALE XXIV. A LETTER, A VISITOR, AND A TIN BOX XXV. FESTUS SHOWS HIS LOVE XXVI. THE ALARM XXVII. DANGER TO ANNE XXVIII. ANNIE DOES WONDERS XXIX. A DISSEMBLER XXX. AT THE THEATRE ROYAL XXXI. MIDNIGHT VISITORS XXXII. DELIVERANCE XXXIII. A DISCOVERY TURNS THE SCALE XXXIV. A SPECK ON THE SEA XXXV. A SAILOR ENTERS XXXVI. DERRIMAN SEES CHANCES XXXVII. REACTION XXXVIII. A DELICATE SITUATION XXXIX. BOB LOVEDAY STRUTS UP AND DOWN XL. A CALL ON BUSINESS XLI. JOHN MARCHES INTO THE NIGHT

I. WHAT WAS SEEN FROM THE WINDOW OVERLOOKING THE DOWN

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 thankful nature, and she said that she did not mind it at all, being as it was, not nasty dirt, but the blessed staff of life.

By good-humour of this sort, and in other ways, Mrs. Garland acknowledged her friendship for her neighbour, with whom Anne and herself associated to an extent which she never could have anticipated when, tempted by the lowness of the rent, they first removed thither after her husband's death from a larger house at the other end of the village. Those who have lived in remote places where there is what is called no society will comprehend the gradual levelling of distinctions that went on in this case at some sacrifice of gentility on the part of one household. The widow was sometimes sorry to find with what readiness Anne caught up some dialect-word or accent from the miller and his friends; but he was so good and true-hearted a man, and she so easy-minded, unambitious a woman, that she would not make life a solitude for fastidious reasons. More than all, she had good ground for thinking that the miller secretly admired her, and this added a piquancy to the situation.

On a fine summer morning, when the leaves were warm under the sun, and the more industrious bees abroad, diving into every blue and red cup that could possibly be considered a flower, Anne was sitting at the back window of her mother's portion of the house, measuring out lengths of worsted for a fringed rug that she was making, which lay, about three-quarters finished, beside her. The work, though chromatically brilliant, was tedious: a hearth-rug was a thing which nobody worked at from morning to night; it was taken up and put down; it was in the chair, on the floor, across the hand-rail, under the bed, kicked here, kicked there, rolled away in the closet,


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