“Can you drive a team?” said the man.
“Drove horses all my life,” said Thurst; whereupon they made a bargain.
Trove and Tilly went away to the brook for water while the travellers went to bed in their big, covered wagon. Trove lay down with his blanket on the boughs, reading over the indelible record of that day. And he said, often, as he thought of it, years after, that the saddest thing in all the world is a man of broken courage.
An Odd Meeting
They were up betimes in the morning, and Trove ate hastily from his own store and bade them all good-by and made off, for he had yet a long road to travel.
That day Trove fell in with a great, awkward country boy, slouching along the road on his way to Cleveland. He was an odd figure, with thick hair of the shade of tow that burst out from under a slouch hat and muffled his neck behind; his coat was thread-bare and a bit too large; his trousers of satinet fell loosely far enough to break joints with each bootleg; the dusty cowhide gave his feet a lonely and arid look. He carried a bundle tied to a stick that lay on his left shoulder. They met near a corner, nodded, and walked on a while together in silence. For a little time they surveyed each other curiously. Then each began to quicken the pace.
“Maybe you think you can walk the fastest,” said he of the long hair.
They were going a hot pace, their free arms flying. Trove bent to his work stubbornly. They both began to tire and slow up. The big boy looked across at the other and laughed loudly.
“Wouldn’t give up if ye broke a leg, would ye?” said he.
“Not if I could swing it,” said Trove.
“Goin’ t’ Cleveland?”
“Yes; are you?”
“Yes. I’m goin’ t’ be a sailor,” said the strange boy.
“Goin’ off on the ocean?” Trove inquired with deep interest.
“Yes; ‘round the world, maybe. Then I’ll come back an’ go t’ school—if I don’t git wrecked like Robi’son Crusoe.”
“My stars!” said Trove, with a look of awe.
“Like t’ go?” the other inquired.
“Guess I would!”
“Better stay t’ home; it’s a hard life.” This with an air of parental wisdom.
“I’ve read ‘Robi’son Crusoe,’” said Trove, as if it were some excuse.
“So ‘ve I; an’ Grimshaw’s ‘Napoleon,’ an’ Weems’s ‘Life o’ Marion,’ an’ ‘The Pirates’ Book,’ an’ the Bible.”
“I’ve got half through the Bible,” said Trove.
“Who slew Absolum?” the other inquired doubtfully.
Trove remembered the circumstances, but couldn’t recall the name.
They sat down to rest and eat luncheon.
“You going to be a statesman?” Trove inquired.
“No; once I thought I’d try t’ go t’ Congress, but I guess I’d rather go t’ sea. What you goin’ t’ be?”
“I shall try to be an author,” said Trove.