“Nory,” whispered he loyally, “I’ll never work my airs ag’in for any woman in the world but you!”
THE HILL OF DREAMS
Franklin found himself swept along with a tide of affairs other than of his own choosing. His grasp on the possibilities of the earliest days of this new civilization had been so full and shrewd that he needed now but to let others build the house whose foundation he had laid. This in effect has been the history of most men who have become wealthy, the sum of one man’s efforts being in no great disparity actually superior to those of his fellow-man.
Yet Franklin cared little for mere riches, his ambition ceasing at that point where he might have independence, where he might be himself, and where he might work out unfettered the problems of his own individuality. Pursued by a prosperity which would not be denied, his properties growing up about him, his lands trebling in value within a year and his town property rising steadily in value, he sometimes smiled in very grimness as he thought of what this had once and so recently been, and how far beyond his own care the progress of his fortunes had run. At times he reflected upon this almost with regret, realizing strongly the temptation to plunge irrevocably into the battle of material things. This, he knew, meant a loosing, a letting go, a surrender of his inner and honourable dreams, an evasion of that beckoning hand and a forgetting of that summoning voice which bade him to labour agonizingly yet awhile toward other aims. The inner man, still exigent, now exhorted, now demanded, and always rebelled. Franklin’s face grew older. Not all who looked upon him understood, for to be hors concours is to be accursed.
Something was left to be desired in the vigour and energy of Franklin’s daily life, once a daily joy in virile effort and exertion. Still too much a man to pity himself, none the less he brooded. His hopes and dreams, he reflected, had once flowered so beautifully, had shown so fair for one brief summer day, and lay now so dead and shrivelled and undone! There was no comfort in these later days.
And then he thought yearningly of the forceful drama of the wild life which had shrunk so rapidly into the humdrum of the uneventful. At times he felt a wild yearning to follow this frontier—to follow till the West sunk into the sea, and even then to follow, until he came to some Fortunate Islands where such glorious days should die no more. He recalled the wild animals and the wild men he had known, and saw again the mocking face of the old wide plains, shifting and evading, even as the spirit of his own life evaded him, answering no questions directly, always beckoning, yet always with finger upon lip, forbidding speech. Almost with exultation he joined in the savage resentment of this land laid under tribute, he joined in the pitiless scorn of the savage winter, he almost justified in his own soul the frosted pane and the hearth made cold, and the settlers’ homes forever desolated.