Sartliff arose; he had been for sometime silent. His face was sad.
“It may be. I like you, Barton; you have a good deal of your brother’s common sense, uncommon as that is, and I shall come and see you often.”
And without another word he strode off deeper into the woods, and was lost to the eyes of the young men.
“Is it possible,” said Bart, “that this was an educated, strong, and brilliant mind, capable of dealing with difficult questions of law? I fear that he has worn or torn through the filament that divides the workings of the healthy mind from the visions of the dreamer—wrecked on the everlasting old rocks that jut out all about our shores, and always challenging us to dash upon them. Shall we know when we die? Shall we die when we know? After all, are not these things to be known? Why place them under our eyes so that a child of five years will ask questions that no mortal, or immortal, has yet solved? Have we lost the clue to this knowledge? Do we overlook it? Do we stumble over it, perish, wanting it, with it in our hands without the power to see or feel it? Has some rift opened to a hidden store of truth, and has a gleam of it come to the eyes of this man, filling him with a hunger of which he is to die? When the man arises to whom these mysteries shall reveal themselves, as he assuredly will, the old gospels will be supplemented.”
“Or superseded,” said Case. “And is it not about time? Have not the old done for us about all they can? Do we not need, as well as wish for, a new?”
“A man may doubtless so abuse and deprave his powers, that old healthy food ceases to be endurable, and yields to him no nutrition; of course he must perish,” answered Bart. “He will demand new food.”
Towards the close of the term, there came into the court-room, one day, a man of giant mould: standing head and shoulders above his fellows, broad shouldered, deep chested, with a short neck and large flat face, a regal brow, and large, roomy head in which to work out great problems. He had light grayish blue, or blueish gray eyes, and a scarlet mark disfiguring one side of his face. The proceedings paused, and men gathered about him. His manner was bland, his smile, that took up his whole face, very pleasant. Bart knew that this was J.R. Giddings, just home from Washington, where he had already overhauled the Seminole war, and begun that mining into the foundation of things that finally overthrew slavery.
During the term Bart heard him before the court and jury, and found him a dullish, heavy speaker, a little as he thought the indifferently good English parliamentary speaker might be. He often hesitated for a word, and usually waited for it; sometimes he would persist in having it at once, when he would close his eyes very tight, and compel it. His manner and gesture could not be called good, and yet Bart felt that he was in the presence of a formidable man.