`Nothing but supper now,' said the mender of roads, with a hungry face.
`It is the fashion,' growled the man. `I meet no dinner anywhere.'
He took out a blackened pipe, filled it, lighted it with flint and steel, pulled at it until it was in a bright glow: then, suddenly held it from him and dropped something into it from between his finger and thumb, that blazed and went out in a puff of smoke.
`Touch then.' It was the turn of the mender of roads to say it this time, after observing these operations. They again joined hands.
`To-night?' said the mender of roads.
`To-night,' said the man, putting the pipe in his mouth.
He and the mender of roads sat on the heap of stones looking silently at one another, with the hail driving in between them like a pigmy charge of bayonets, until the sky began to clear over the village.
`Show me!' said the traveller then, moving to the brow of the hill.
`See.' returned the mender of roads, with extended finger. `You go down here, and straight through the street, and past the fountain---
`To the Devil with all that!' interrupted the other, rolling his eye over the landscape. `I go through no streets and past no fountains. Well?'
`Well! About two leagues beyond the summit of that hill above the village.'
`Good. When do you cease to work?'
`Will you wake me, before departing? I have walked two nights without resting. Let me finish my pipe, and I shall sleep like a child. Will you wake me?'
The wayfarer smoked his pipe out, put it in his breast, slipped off his great wooden shoes, and lay down on his back on the heap of stones. He was fast asleep directly.
As the road-mender plied his dusty labour, and the hail-clouds, rolling away, revealed bright bars and streaks of sky which were responded to by silver gleams upon the landscape, the little man (who wore a red cap now, in place of his blue one) seemed fascinated by the figure on the heap of stones. His eyes were so often turned towards it, that he used his tools mechanically, and, one would have said, to very poor account. The bronze face, the shaggy black hair and beard, the coarse woollen red cap, the rough medley dress of home-spun stuff and hairy skins of beasts, the powerful frame attenuated by spare living, and the sullen and desperate compression of the lips in sleep, inspired the mender of roads with awe. The traveller had travelled far, and his feet were footsore, and his ankles chafed and bleeding; his great shoes, stuffed with leaves and grass, had been heavy to drag over the many long leagues, and his clothes were chafed into holes, as he himself was into sores. Stooping down beside him, the road-mender tried to get a peep at secret weapons in his breast or where not; but, in vain, for he slept with his arms crossed upon him, and set as resolutely as his lips. Fortified towns with their
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