“I did not know of it,” said Trove.
“Know ye not there is a country in easy reach of us, with fair fields an’ proud cities an’ many people an’ all delights, boy, all delights? There I hope thou shalt found a city thyself an’ build it well so nothing shall overthrow it—fire, nor flood, nor the slow siege o’ years.”
“Where?” Trove inquired eagerly.
“In the Blessed Isles, boy, in the Blessed Isles. Imagine the infinite sea o’ time that is behind us. Stand high an’ look back over its dead level. King an’ empire an’ all their striving multitudes are sunk in the mighty deep. But thou shalt see rising out of it the Blessed Isles of imagination. Green—forever green are they—and scattered far into the dim distance. Look! there is the city o’ Shakespeare—Norman towers and battlements and Gothic arches looming above the sea. Go there an’ look at the people as they come an’ go. Mingle with them an’ find good company—merry-hearted folk a-plenty, an’ God knows I love the merry-hearted! Talk with them, an’ they will teach thee wisdom. Hard by is the Isle o’ Milton, an’ beyond are many—it would take thee years to visit them. Ah, sor, half me time I live in the Blessed Isles. What is thy affliction, boy?”
He turned to Kent—a boy whose hard luck was proverbial, and whose left arm was in a sling.
“Broke it wrestling,” said the boy.
“Kent has bad luck,” said Trove. “Last year he broke his leg.”
“Obey the law, or thou shalt break the bone o’ thy neck,” said Darrel, quickly.
“I do obey the law,” said Trent.
“Ay—the written law,” said the clock tinker, “an’ small credit to thee. But the law o’ thine own discovery,—the law that is for thyself an’ no other,—hast thou ne’er thought of it? Ill luck is the penalty o’ law-breaking. Therefore study the law that is for thyself. Already I have discovered one for thee, an’ it is, ’I have not limberness enough in me bones, so I must put them in no unnecessary peril.’ Listen, I’ll read thee me own code.”
The clock tinker rose and got his Shakespeare, ragged from long use, and read from a fly-leaf, his code of private law, to wit:—
“Walk at least four miles a day.
“Eat no pork and be at peace with thy liver.
“Measure thy words and cure a habit of exaggeration.
“Thine eyes are faulty—therefore, going up or down, look well to thy steps.
“Beware of ardent spirits, for the curse that is in thy blood. It will turn thy heart to stone.
“In giving, remember Darrel.
“Bandy no words with any man.
“Play at no game of chance.
“Think o’ these things an’ forget thyself.”
“Now there is the law that is for me alone,” Darrel continued, looking up at the boys. “Others may eat pork or taste the red cup, or dally with hazards an’ suffer no great harm—not I. Good youths, remember, ill luck is for him only that is ignorant, neglectful, or defiant o’ private law.”