He put his cheek upon that of the boy and stroked his hair gently. Then a little time of silence, and the storm had passed.
“A fine, fine lad ye are,” said Darrel, looking proudly at the young man, who stood now quite composed. “Let me take thy hand. Ay, ‘tis a mighty arm ye have, an’ some day, some day it will shake the towers.”
“You will both dine with me in my quarters at one,” said the warden, presently.
Trove turned with a look of surprise.
“Thank ye, sor; an’ mind ye make room for Wit an’ Happiness,” said the tinker.
“Bring them along—they’re always welcome at my table,” the warden answered with a laugh.
“Know ye not they’re in prison, now, for keeping bad company?” said Darrel, as he turned. “At one, boy,” he, added, shaking the boy’s hand. “Ah, then, good cheer an’ many a merry jest.”
Darrel left the room, waving his hand. Trove and the warden made their way to the prison office.
“A wonderful man!” said the latter, as they went. “We love and respect him and give him all the liberty we can. For a long time he has been nursing in the hospital, and when I see that he is overworking I bring him to my office and set him at easy jobs.”
Darrel came presently, and they went to dinner. The tinker bowed politely to the warden’s wife and led her to the table.
“Good friends,” said he, as they were sitting down, “there is an hour that is short o’ minutes an’ yet holds a week o’ pleasure—who pan tell me which hour it is?”
“I never guessed a riddle,” said the woman.
“Marry, dear madam, ‘tis the hour o’ thy hospitality,” said the old man.
“When you are in it,” she answered with good humour.
“Fellow-travellers on the road to heaven,” said Darrel, raising his glass, “St. Peter is fond of a smiling face.”
“And when you see him you’ll make a jest,” were the words of the warden.
“For I believe he is a lover o’ good company,” said Darrel.
The warden’s wife remarked, then, that she had enjoyed his talk in the chapel.
“I’m a new form o’ punishment,” said Darrel, soberly.
“But they all enjoy it,” she answered.
“I’m not so rough as the ministers. They use fire an’ the fume o’ sulphur.”
“And the men go to sleep.”
“Ay, the cruel master makes a thick hide,” said Darrel, quickly. “So Nature puts her hand between the whip an’ the horse, an’ sleep between cruelty an’ the congregation.”
“Nature is kind,” was the remark of the warden.
“An’ shows the intent o’ the Almighty,” said Darrel. “There are two words. In them are all the sermons.”
“And what are they?” the woman asked.
“Fear,” Darrel answered thoughtfully; “that is one o’ them.” He paused to sip his tea.
“And the other is?”
There was half a moment of silence.