THE TURNING OF THE ROAD
At the close of the war Captain Edward Franklin returned to a shrunken world. The little Illinois village which had been his home no longer served to bound his ambitions, but offered only a mill-round of duties so petty, a horizon of opportunities so restricted, as to cause in his mind a feeling of distress equivalent at times to absolute abhorrence. The perspective of all things had changed. The men who had once seemed great to him in this little world now appeared in the light of a wider judgment, as they really were—small, boastful, pompous, cowardly, deceitful, pretentious. Franklin was himself now a man, and a man graduated from that severe and exacting school which so quickly matured a generation of American youth. Tall, finely built, well set up, with the self-respecting carriage of the soldier and the direct eye of the gentleman, there was a swing in his step not commonly to be found behind a counter, and somewhat in the look of his grave face which caused men to listen when he spoke. As his hand had fitted naturally a weapon, so his mind turned naturally to larger things than those offered in these long-tilled fields of life. He came back from the war disillusionized, irreverent, impatient, and full of that surging fretfulness which fell upon all the land. Thousands of young men, accustomed for years to energy, activity, and a certain freedom from all small responsibility, were thrust back at once and asked to adjust themselves to the older and calmer ways of peace. The individual problems were enormous in the aggregate.