The Broad Highway eBook

Jeffery Farnol
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 424 pages of information about The Broad Highway.

“Sometimes,” said I, without looking up.

“An’ I be very old an’ tired, Peter; my ‘eart be all wore out wi’ beatin’ an’ beatin’ all these years—­’tis a wonder as it didn’t stop afore now—­but a—­a—­stapil, Peter, don’t ’ave no ’eart to go a-beatin’ an’ a-wearin’ of itself away?”

“No, Ancient.”

“So ‘ere be I, a-standin’ in the Valley o’ the Shadow, an’ waitin’ for God’s Angel to take my ’and for to show me the way.  ‘Tis a darksome road, Peter, but I bean’t afeared, an’ there be a light beyond Jordan-water.  No, I aren’t afeared to meet the God as made me, for ‘the Lord is merciful—­and very kind,’ an’ I don’t s’pose as ’E’ll be very ’ard on a old, old man as did ’is best, an’ wi’ a ‘eart all tired an’ wore away wi’ beatin’—­I be ready, Peter only—­”

“Yes, Ancient?”

“Oh, Peter!—­it be that theer old stapil—­as’ll go on rustin’ away an’ rustin’ away arter the old man as watched it so is laid in the earth, an’ forgot about—­”

“No,” said I, without looking up, but slipping my hand into my pocket; “no, Ancient—­”

“Peter—­Oh, Peter!—­do ’ee mean—?”

“I mean that, although it had no heart, the staple was tired and worn out—­just as you are, and so I brought it to you,” and I slipped the rusty bit of iron into the old man’s trembling palm.

“O Lord—!” he began in a fervent voice, “O dear Lord!—­I got it, Lord—­th’ owd stapil—­I be ready to come to Thee, an’ j’yful —­j’yful! an’ for this mercy, an’ benefit received—­blessed be Thy name.  Amen!”

He lay very quiet for a while, with the broken staple clasped to his breast, and his eyes closed.

“Peter,” said he suddenly, “you won’t ’ave no one to bring you noos no more—­why, Peter! be ’ee cryin’—­for me?  ’Tis true ’t were me as found ye, but I didn’t think as you’d go to cry tears for me—­I be goin’ to tak’ t’ owd stapil wi’ me, Peter, all along the road—­an’, Peter—­”

“Yes, Ancient?”

“Be you quite sure as you aren’t a dook?”

“Quite sure.”

“Nor a earl?”

“No, Ancient.”

“Not even a—­barrynet?”

“No, Ancient.”

“Ah, well!—­you be a man, Peter, an’ ‘tis summ’at to ha’ found a man—­that it be.”

And now he feebly beckoned us all nearer.

“Children,” said he, “I be a old an’ ancient man I be goin’ on —­across the river to wait for you—­my blessin’ on ye.  It be a dark, dark road, but I’ve got t’ owd stapil, an’ there—­be a light beyond—­the river.”

So, the Ancient sighed, and crossed the dark River into the Land of Light Eternal.

CHAPTER XLII

HOW SIR MAURICE KEPT HIS WORD

Night, with a rising moon, and over all things a great quietude, a deep, deep silence.  Air, close and heavy, without a breath to wake the slumbering trees; an oppressive stillness, in which small sounds magnified themselves, and seemed disproportionately loud.

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The Broad Highway from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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