“Can’t they be stopped?” Emilia murmured, clenching her little hands.
The patriotic melody, delivered in sturdy democratic fashion, had to be endured. It died hard, but did come to an end, piecemeal. Tom Breeks then retired from the front, and became a unit once more. There were flourishes that indicated a termination of the proceedings, when another fellow was propelled in advance, and he, shuffling and ducking his head, to the cries of “Out wi’ it, Jim!” and, “Where’s your stomach?” came still further forward, and showed a most obsequious grin.
“Why, it’s Jim!” exclaimed Emilia, on whom Jim’s eyes were fastened. Stepping nearer, she said, “Do you want to speak to me?”
Jim had this to say: which, divested of his petition for pardon on the strength of his perfect knowledge that he took a liberty, was, that the young lady had promised, while staying at Wilson’s farm, that she would sing to the Club-fellows on the night of their feast.
“I towl’d ’em they’d have a rare treat, miss,” mumbled Jim, “and they’re all right mad for ’t, that they be—bain’t ye, boys?”
That they were! with not a few of the gesticulations of madness too.
Emilia said: “I promised I would sing to them. I remember it quite well. Of course I will keep my promise.”
A tumult of acclamation welcomed her words, and Jim looked immensely delighted.
She was informed by several voices that they were the Yellow-and-Blues, and not the Blues: that she must not go to the wrong set: and that their booth was on Ipley Common: and that they, the Junction Club, only would honour her rightly for the honour she was going to do them: all of which Emilia said she would bear in mind.
Jim then retired hastily, having done something that stout morning ale would alone have qualified him to perform. The drum, in the noble belief that it was leading, announced the return march, and with three cheers for Squire Pole, and a crowning one for the ladies, away trooped the procession.
Hardly had the last sound of the drum passed out of hearing, when the elastic thunder of a fresh one claimed attention. The truth being, that the Junction Club of Ipley and Hillford, whose colours were yellow and blue, was a seceder from the old-established Hillford Club, on which it had this day shamefully stolen a march by parading everywhere in the place of it, and disputing not only its pasture-grounds but its identity.
There is no instrument the sound of which proclaims such a vast internal satisfaction as the drum. I know not whether it be that the sense we have of the corpulency of this instrument predisposes us to imagine it supremely content: as when an alderman is heard snoring the world is assured that it listens to the voice of its own exceeding gratulation. A light heart in a fat body ravishes not only the