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Will of the Mill   By: (1831-1909)

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Will of the Mill, by George Manville Fenn.

A Huguenot settlement in the Derbyshire dales, in the middle of England, in the mid nineteenth century.

The Vicar's son, and the mill owner's son are great friends. They become friends with a visiting artist, who is lodging in the house of one of the key workers at the Mill, where they manufacture silk. The artist falls down an old mine shaft up in the hills, and the boys find him. At home they are missed and a rescue party is sent out, and finds them all.

One day the mill mysteriously goes on fire, and, equally mysteriously, the fire pump has been disabled. Just in time it is repaired by the man the artist is staying with. The man's name was originally Boileau, but like so many Huguenots, he has anglicised it to Drinkwater.

Drinkwater goes mad, and has an obsessional hatred for the mill owner. It is thought possible that he actually set the fire having previously disabled the fire pump.

But far worse is to befall. One night, in the autumn rains, the dam that feeds the mill bursts its banks, and the village is flooded, with much being washed away. Did Drinkwater do this too? There is a dramatic finish to the book.




"Here, I say, Josh, such a game!"

"What is it?"

The first speaker pointed down the gorge, tried to utter words, but began to choke with laughter, pointed again, and then stood stamping his feet, and wiping his eyes.

"Well," cried the other, addressed as Josh, "what is it? Don't stand pointing there like an old finger post! I can't see anything."

"It's it's it's he he he! Oh my! Oh dear!"

"Gahn! What an old silly you are! What's the game? Let's have a bit of the fun."

"The sun sun sun "

"Don't stand stuttering there in that stupid way."

"I couldn't help it there, I'm better now. I was coming along the top walk, and there he was right down below, sitting under his old white mushroom."

"Well, I can't see anything to laugh at in that. He always is sitting under his old white umbrella, painting, when he isn't throwing flies."

"But he isn't painting. He's fast asleep; and I could almost hear him snore."

"Well, if you could hear him snore, you needn't make a hyena of yourself. I don't see anything to laugh at in that."

"No; you never see any fun in anything. Don't you see the sun's gone right round, and he's quite in the shade?"

"Well, suppose he is; where's the fun?"

Will Willows wiped his eyes, and then, with a mirthful look, continued

"Oh, the idea struck me as being comic keeping a great umbrella up when it wasn't wanted."

"Oh, I don't know," said Josh, solemnly; "a shower might come down."

"But, I say, Josh, that won't do. I've got such a rum idea."

"Let's have it."

"Come along, then."

A few words were whispered, though there was not the slightest need, for no one was in sight, and the rattle and whirr of machinery set in motion by a huge water wheel, whose splashings echoed from the vast, wall like sides of the lovely fern hung glen in which it was placed, would have drowned anything lower than a shout.

Willows' silk mill had ages ago ceased to be a blot in one of the fairest valleys in beautiful Derbyshire, for it was time stained with a rich store of colours from Nature's palette; great cushions of green velvet moss clung to the ancient stone work, rich orange rosettes of lichen dotted the ruddy tiles, huge ferns shot their glistening green spears from every crack and chasm of the mighty walls of the deep glen; and here and there, high overhead, silver birches hung their pensile tassels, and scrub oaks thrust out their gnarled boughs from either side, as if in friendly vegetable feeling to grasp hands over the rushing, babbling stream; for Beldale Belle Dale, before the dwellers there cut it short formed one long series of pictures such as painters loved, so that they came regularly from the metropolis to settle down at one of the picturesque cottages handy to their work, and at times dotted the dale with their white umbrellas and so called "traps... Continue reading book >>

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