Among those who got off the train at Hillsborough that day was a big, handsome youth of some twenty years. In all the crowd there were none had ever seen him before. Dressed in the height of fashion, he was a figure so extraordinary that all eyes observed him as he made his way to the tavern. Trove and Polly and Mrs. Vaughn were in that curious throng on the platform, where a depot was being built.
“My! What a splendid-looking fellow,” said Polly, as the stranger passed,
Trove had a swift pang of jealousy that moment. Turning, he saw Riley Brooke—now known as the “Old Rag Doll”—standing near them in a group of villagers.
“I tell you, he’s a thief,” the boy heard him saying, and the words seemed to blister as they fell; and ever after, when he thought of them, a great sternness lay like a shadow on his brow.
“I must go,” said he, calmly turning to Polly. “Let me help you into the wagon.”
When they were gone, he stood a moment thinking. He felt as if he were friendless and alone.
“You’re a giant to day,” said a friend, passing him; but Trove made no answer. Roused incomprehensibly, his heavy muscles had become tense, and he had an odd consciousness of their power. The people were scattering, and he walked slowly down the street. The sun was low, but he thought not of home or where he should spend the night. It was now the third day after his arrest. Since noon he had been looking for Darrel, but the tinker’s door had been locked for days, according to the carpenter who was at work below. For an hour Trove walked, passing up and down before that familiar stairway, in the hope of seeing his friend. Daylight was dim when the tinker stopped by the stairs and began to feel for his key. The young man was quickly at the side of Darrel.
“God be praised!” said the latter; “here is the old Dial an’ the strong an’ noble Trove. I heard o’ thy trouble, boy, far off on the postroad, an’ I have made haste to come to thee.”
The Rare and Costly Cup
Trove had been reciting the history of his trouble and had finished with bitter words.
“Shame on thee, boy,” said the tinker, as Trove sat before him with tears of anger in his eyes. “Watch yonder pendulum and say not a word until it has ticked forty times. For what are thy learning an’ thy mighty thews if they do not bear thee up in time o’ trouble? Now is thy trial come before the Judge of all. Up with thy head, boy, an’ be acquitted o’ weakness an’ fear an’ evil passion.”
“We deserve better of him,” said Trove, speaking of Riley Brooke. “When all others hated him, we were kind to the old sinner, and it has done him no good.”
“Ah, but has it done thee good? There’s the question,” said Darrel, his hand upon the boy’s arm.
“I believe it has,” said Trove, with a look of surprise.