Sam took up his abode in the house, and worked daily in the mill, and for weeks nothing was said either of his going away or of his return. He would talk to his sisters of the manner in which he had worked among the machinery of the Durham mine at which he had found employment; but he said nothing for awhile of the cause which had taken him north, or of his purpose of remaining where he was. He ate and drank in the house, and from time to time his father paid him small sums as wages. At last, sitting one evening after the work of the day was done, he spoke out his mind. "Father," said he, "I'm about minded to get me a wife." His mother and sisters were all there and heard the proposition made.
"And who is the girl as is to have thee, Sam?" asked his mother.
As Sam did not answer at once, Carry replied for him. "Who should it be, mother;--but only Agnes Pope?"
"It ain't that 'un?" said the miller, surlily.
"And why shouldn't it be that 'un, father? It is that 'un, and no other. If she be not liked here, why, we'll just go further, and perhaps not fare worse."
There was nothing to be said against poor Agnes Pope,--only this, that she had been in Trumbull's house on the night of the murder, and had for awhile been suspected by the police of having communicated to her lover the tidings of the farmer's box of money. Evil things had of course been said of her then, but the words spoken of her had been proved to be untrue. She had been taken from the farmer's house into that of the Vicar,--who had, indeed, been somewhat abused by the Puddlehamites for harbouring her; but as the belief in Sam's guilt had gradually been abandoned, so, of course, had the ground disappeared for supposing that poor Agnes had had ought to do in bringing about the murder of her late master. For two days the miller was very gloomy, and made no reply when Sam declared his purpose of leaving the mill before Christmas unless Agnes should be received there as his wife;--but at last he gave way. "As the old 'uns go into their graves," he said, "it's no more than nature that the young 'uns should become masters." And so Sam was married, and was taken, with his wife, to live with the other Brattles at the mill. It was well for the miller that it should be so, for Sam was a man who would surely earn money when he put his shoulder in earnest to the wheel.
As for Carry, she lived still with them, doomed by her beauty, as was her elder sister by the want of it, to expect that no lover should come and ask her to establish with him a homestead of their own.
Our friend the Vicar married Sam and his sweetheart, and is still often at the mill. From time to time he has made efforts to convert the unbelieving old man whose grave is now so near to his feet; but he has never prevailed to make the miller own even the need of any change. "I've struv' to be honest," he said, when last he was thus attacked, "and I've wrought for my wife and bairns. I ain't been a drunkard, nor yet, as I knows on, neither a tale-bearer, nor yet a liar. I've been harsh-tempered and dour enough I know, and maybe it's fitting as they shall be hard and dour to me where I'm going. I don't say again it, Muster Fenwick;--but nothing as I can do now 'll change it." This, at any rate, was clear to the Vicar,--that Death, when it came, would come without making the old man tremble.
Mr. Gilmore has been some years away from Bullhampton; but when I last heard from my friends in that village I was told that at last he was expected home.
Bradbury, Evans, and Co., Printers, Whitefriars.