Of such travail, of such mould, have come great architects, great engineers, great writers, musicians, painters, indeed great men of affairs, beings who stand by the head and shoulders above other men as leaders. The nature of such men is not always at the first assured, the imprimitive seal not always surely set on, so that of one thus tormented of his inner self it may be mere accident which shall determine whether it is to be great artist or great artisan that is to be born again.
To Franklin, dreaming as he woke or slept, there sometimes waved a hand, there sometimes sounded a Voice, as that which of old summoned the prophet in the watches of the night. Neither in his waking nor his sleeping hours could he call this spirit into materialization, however much he longed to wrestle with it finally. It remained only to haunt him vaguely, to join with the shade of Mary Ellen the Cruel to set misery on a life which he had thought happily assured.
THE GREAT COLD
The land lay trusting and defenceless under a cynical sky, which was unthreatening but mocking. Dotting a stretch of country thirty miles on either side of the railway, and extending as far to the east and west along its line, there were scattered hundreds of homes, though often these were separated one from the other by many miles of open prairie. Fences and fields appeared, and low stacks of hay and straw here and there stood up above the vast gray surface of the old buffalo and cattle range. Some of these houses were board “shacks,” while others were of sods, and yet others, these among the earliest established on the plains, the useful dugout, half above and half beneath the ground. Yet each building, squat or tall, small or less small, was none the less a home. Most of them contained families. Men had brought hither their wives and children—little children, sometimes babes, tender, needful of warmth and care. For these stood guardian the gaunt coal chutes of the town, with the demands of a population of twenty-five hundred, to say nothing of the settlers round about, a hundred tons for a thousand families, scattered, dwelling out along breaks and coulees, and on worn hillsides, and at the ends of long, faint, wandering trails, which the first whirl of snow would softly and cruelly wipe away.