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Knights of the Art

Pietro Perugino
It was early morning, and the rays of the rising sun had scarcely yet caught the roofs of
the city of Perugia, when along the winding road which led across the plain a man and a
boy walked with steady, purposelike steps towards the town which crowned the hill in
front.
The man was poorly dressed in the common rough clothes of an Umbrian peasant. Hard
work and poverty had bent his shoulders and drawn stern lines upon his face, but there
was a dignity about him which marked him as something above the common working
man.
The little boy who trotted barefoot along by the side of his father had a sweet, serious
little face, but he looked tired and hungry, and scarcely fit for such a long rough walk.
They had started from their home at Castello delle Pieve very early that morning, and the
piece of black bread which had served them for breakfast had been but small. Away in
front stretched that long, white, never-ending road; and the little dusty feet that pattered
so bravely along had to take hurried runs now and again to keep up with the long strides
of the man, while the wistful eyes, which were fixed on that distant town, seemed to
wonder if they would really ever reach their journey's end.
`Art tired already, Pietro?' asked the father at length, hearing a panting little sigh at his
side. `Why, we are not yet half-way there! Thou must step bravely out and be a man, for
to-day thou shalt begin to work for thy living, and no longer live the life of an idle child.'
The boy squared his shoulders, and his eyes shone.
`It is not I who am tired, my father,' he said. `It is only that my legs cannot take such
good long steps as thine; and walk as we will the road ever seems to unwind itself further
and further in front, like the magic white thread which has no end.'
The father laughed, and patted the child's head kindly.
`The end will come ere long,' he said. `See where the mist lies at the foot of the hill; there
we will begin to climb among the olive-trees and leave the dusty road. I know a quicker
way by which we may reach the city. We will climb over the great stones that mark the
track of the stream, and before the sun grows too hot we will have reached the city gates.'
It was a great relief to the little hot, tired feet to feel the cool grass beneath them, and to
leave the dusty road. The boy almost forgot his tiredness as he scrambled from stone to
stone, and filled his hands with the violets which grew thickly on the banks, scenting the
morning air with their sweetness. And when at last they came out once more upon the
great white road before the city gates, there was so much to gaze upon and wonder at,
that there was no room for thoughts of weariness or hunger.
 
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