It's 1804 and England expects an invasion attempt by Napoleon Bonaparte's armies. Near Budmouth (Weymouth) Anne Garland lives with her widowed mother in part of a flour mill, next to their landlord and friend miller William Loveday. Thousands of soldiers pitch camp on the downs nearby, ready to meet the invasion. Anne attracts the admiration of two of them, both with local connections: Trumpet Major John Loveday, the decent and thoughtful son of the miller, and Yeomanry officer Festus Derriman, the boastful and aggressive nephew of the skinflint local squire. Anne favours John and loathes Festus, but Festus pesters her, a situation not helped by her mother's desire for her to marry him on account of his rank and (assumed) wealth. However when her mother changes her view (partly due to the miller's courting of her) and favours marriage to John, Anne changes her mind and favours Festus, thinking herself too 'high' for a miller's son.
av Thomas Hardy
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