The Broad Highway eBook

Jeffery Farnol
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 424 pages of information about The Broad Highway.
beyond, I beheld an old man who sat bowed down at a table, with his white head pillowed upon his arms, sitting so very still that he might have been asleep but for the fierce grip of his twitching hands.  Now, upon the table, at no great distance from him, between the guttering candles, lay a hat—­a very ill-used, battered-looking object —­which I thought I recognized; wherefore, looking about, I presently espied its owner leaning against the mantel.  He was powdered with dust from head to foot, and his worn garments looked more ragged than ever; and, as he stood there, in the droop of his head and the listless set of his shoulders, there was an air of the most utter dejection and hopelessness, while upon his thin cheek I saw the glisten of a great, solitary tear.  But, as I looked, the window was burst suddenly open: 

“Perry!”

Love, surprise, joy, pity—­all were summed up in that one short word—­yet deeper than all was love.  And, at that cry, the white head was raised, raised in time to see a vision of loveliness caught up in two ragged arms.

“Father!”

And now the three heads—­the white, the golden, and the black —­were drawn down together, drawn, and held close in an embrace that was indeed reunion.

Then, seeing my presence was become wholly unnecessary, I turned away, and was soon once more deep among the trees.  Yet, as I went, I suddenly heard voices that called upon my name, but I kept on, and, in due season, came out upon the broad highway.

And, in a little, as I went, very full of thought, the sun rose up.  So I walked along through a world all glorious with morning.

CHAPTER XXII

IN WHICH I MEET WITH A LITERARY TINKER

Even in that drowsy, semi-conscious state, that most delightful borderland which lies midway between sleeping and waking, I knew it could not be the woodpecker who, as I judged from sundry manifest signs, lodged in the tree above me.  No woodpecker that ever pecked could originate such sounds as these—­two quick, light strokes, followed by another, and heavier, thus:  Tap, tap—­tap; a pause, and then, tap, tap—­tap again, and so on.

Whatever doubts I may have yet harbored on the subject, however, were presently dispelled by a fragrance sweeter, to the nostrils of a hungry man, than the breath of flowers, the spices of the East, or all the vaunted perfumes of Arabia—­in a word, the odor of frying bacon.

Hereupon, I suddenly realized how exceedingly keen was my appetite, and sighed, bethinking me that I must first find a tavern before I could satisfy my craving, when a voice reached me from no great distance, a full, rich, sonorous voice, singing a song.  And the words of the song were these: 

      “A tinker I am, O a tinker am I,
       A tinker I’ll live, and a tinker I’ll die;
       If the King in his crown would change places wi’ me
       I’d laugh so I would, and I’d say unto he: 
       ’A tinker I am, O a tinker am I.
       A tinker I’ll live, and a tinker I’ll die.’”

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Project Gutenberg
The Broad Highway from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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