He took the cars to Hillsborough. There he went to the Sign of the Dial and built a fire in its old stove. The clocks were now hushed. He found those Darrel had written of and delivered them. Returning, he began to wind the cherished clocks of the tinker—old ones he had gathered here and there in his wandering—and to start their pendulums. One of them—a tall clock in the corner with a calendar-dial—had this legend on the inner side of its door:—
“Halted in memory of a good man,
Its hands pointing to the moment of his death,
Its voice hushed in his honour.”
Trove shut the door of the old clock and hurried to the public attorney’s office, where he got the address of Leblanc. He met many who shook his hand warmly and gave him a pleasant word. He was in great fear of meeting Polly, and thought of what he should do and say if he came face to face with her. Among others he met the school principal.
“Coming back to work?” the latter inquired.
“No, sir; I’ve got to earn money.”
“We need another teacher, and I’ll recommend you.”
“I’m much obliged, but I couldn’t come before the fall term,” said Trove.
“I’ll try to keep the place for you,” said his friend, as they parted.
Trove came slowly down the street, thinking how happy he could be now, if Darrel were free and Polly had only trusted him. Near the Sign of the Dial he met Thurston Tilly.
“Back again?” Trove inquired.
“Back again. Boss gi’n up farmin’.”
“Did he make his fortune?”
“No, he had one give to him.”
“Come and tell me about it.”
Tilly followed Trove up the old stairway into the little shop.
“Beg yer pardon,” said Thurst, turning, as they sat down, “are you armed?”
“No,” said Trove, smiling.
“A man shot me once when I wan’t doin’ nothin’ but tryin’ t’ tell a story, an’ I don’t take no chances. Do you remember my boss tellin’ that night in the woods how he lost his money in the fire o’ ’35?”
“Wal, I guess it had suthin’ t’ do with that. One day the boss an’ me was out in the door-yard, an’ a stranger come along. ’You’re John Thompson,’ says he to the boss; ‘An’ you’re so an’ so,’ says the boss. I don’t eggzac’ly remember the name he give.” Tilly stopped to think.
“Can you describe him?” Trove inquired.
“He was a big man with white whiskers an’ hair, an’ he wore light breeches an’ a short, blue coat.”
“Again the friend of Darrel,” Trove thought.
“Did you tell the tinker about your boss the night we were all at Robin’s Inn last summer?”
“I told him the whole story, an’ he pumped me dry. I’d answer him, an’ he’d holler ‘Very well,’ an’ shoot another question at me.”
“Well, Thurst, go on with your story.”
“Couldn’t tell ye jest what happened. They went off int’ the house. Nex’ day the boss tol’ me he wa’n’t no longer a poor man an’ was goin’ t’ sell his farm an’ leave for Californy. In a tavern near where we lived the stranger died sudden that night, an’ the funeral was at our house, an’ he was buried there in Iowy.”