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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 206 pages of information about Darrel of the Blessed Isles.
ladders and a low roof and two rooms.  Yet one ladder led high to glories no pen may describe.  The Allens, with this rude shelter, found delight in dreams of an eternal home whose splendour and luxury would have made them miserable here below.  What a riddle was this!  And then, as to the boy Sid, there was the riddle of his coming, and again that of his character, which latter was, indeed, not easy to solve.  There were few books and no learning in that home.  For three winters Trove tramped a trail to the schoolhouse two miles away, and had no further schooling until he was a big, blond boy of fifteen, with red cheeks, and eyes large, blue, and discerning, and hands hardened to the axe helve.  He had then discovered the beauty of the woods and begun to study the wild folk that live in holes and thickets.  He had a fine face.  You would have called him handsome, but not they among whom he lived.  With them handsome was as handsome did, and the face of a man, if it were cleanly, was never a proper cause of blame or compliment.  But there was that in his soul, which even now had waked the mother’s wonder and set forth a riddle none were able to solve.

III

The Clock Tinker

The harvesting was over in Brier Dale.  It was near dinner-time, and Allen, Trove, and the two hired men were trying feats in the dooryard.  Trove, then a boy of fifteen, had outdone them all at the jumping.  A stranger came along, riding a big mare with a young filly at her side.  He was a tall, spare man, past middle age, with a red, smooth-shaven face and long, gray hair that fell to his rolling collar.  He turned in at the gate.  A little beyond it his mare halted for a mouthful of grass.  The stranger unslung a strap that held a satchel to his side and hung it on the pommel.

“Go and ask what we can do for him,” Allen whispered to the boy.

Trove went down the drive, looking up at him curiously.

“What can I do for you?” he inquired.

“Give me thy youth,” said the stranger, quickly, his gray eyes twinkling under silvered brows.

The boy, now smiling, made no answer.

“No?” said the man, as he came on slowly.  “Well, then, were thy wit as good as thy legs it would be o’ some use to me.”

The words were spoken with dignity in a deep, kindly tone.  They were also faintly salted with Irish brogue.

He approached the men, all eyes fixed upon him with a look of inquiry.

“Have ye ever seen a drunken sailor on a mast?” he inquired of Allen,

“No.”

“Well, sor,” said the stranger, dismounting slowly, “I am not that.  Let me consider—­have ye ever seen a cocoanut on a plum tree?”

“I believe not,” said Allen, laughing.

“Well, sor, that is more like me.  ’Tis long since I rode a horse, an’ am out o’ place in the saddle.”

He stood erect with dignity, a smile deepening the many lines in his face.

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