“Well,” said Trove, already merrier than most of far better fortune, “he must have been somebody that knew my needs.”
Darrel of the Blessed Isles
The clock tinker was off in the snow paths every other week. In more than a hundred homes, scattered far along road lines of the great valley, he set the pace of the pendulums. Every winter the mare was rented for easy driving and Darrel made his journeys afoot. Twice a day Trove passed the little shop, and if there were a chalk mark on the dial, he bounded upstairs to greet his friend. Sometimes he brought another boy into the rare atmosphere of the clock shop—one, mayhap, who needed some counsel of the wise old man.
Spring had come again. Every day sowers walked the hills and valleys around Hillsborough, their hands swinging with a godlike gesture that summoned the dead to rise; everywhere was the odour of broken field or garden. Night had come again, after a day of magic sunlight, and soon after eight o’clock Trove was at the door of the tinker with a schoolmate.
“How are you?” said Trove, as Darrel opened the door.
“Better for the sight o’ you,” said the old man, promptly. “Enter Sidney Trove and another young gentleman.”
The boys took the two chairs offered them in silence.
“Kind sor,” the tinker added, turning to Trove, “thou hast thy cue; give us the lines.”
“Pardon me,” said the boy. “Mr. Darrel, my friend Richard Kent.”
“Of the Academy?” said Darrel, as he held to the hand of Kent.
“Of the Academy,” said Trove.
“An’, I make no doubt, o’ good hope,” the tinker added. “Let me stop one o’ the clocks—so I may not forget the hour o’ meeting a new friend.”
Darrel crossed the room and stopped a pendulum.
“He would like to join this night-school of ours,” Trove answered.
“Would he?” said the tinker. “Well, it is one o’ hard lessons. When ye come t’ multiply love by experience, an’ subtract vanity an’ add peace, an’ square the remainder, an’ then divide by the number o’ days in thy life—it is a pretty problem, an’ the result may be much or little, an’ ye reach it—”
He paused a moment, thoughtfully puffing the smoke.
“Not in this term o’ school,” he added impressively.
All were silent a little time.
“Where have you been?” Trove inquired presently.
“Home,” said the old man.
There was a puzzled look on Trove’s face.
“Home?” he repeated with a voice of inquiry.
“I have, sor,” the clock tinker went on. “This poor shelter is not me home—it’s only for a night now an’ then. I’ve a grand house an’ many servants an’ a garden, sor, where there be flowers—lovely flowers—an’ sunlight an’ noble music. Believe me, boy, ’tis enough to make one think o’ heaven.”