“If you please, judge,” said he, “get the committee appointed for to-night if you can. I’ll take the examination now.”
“Yes? You are in a hurry!”
“Then to-morrow I’ll go over and say good-bye to my sister; and the next day I think I’ll follow the wagons West. I’ve not much to put in a wagon, so I can go by rail. The road’s away west of the Missouri now, and my letter comes from the very last station, at the head of the track.”
“So?” said the Judge. “Well, that ought to be far enough, sure, if you go clean to the jumping-off place. Goin’ to leave your sweetheart behind you, eh?”
Franklin laughed. “Well, I don’t need face that hardship,” said he, “for I haven’t any sweetheart.”
“Ought to have,” said the judge. “You’re old enough. I was just twenty-two years old when I was married, an’ I had just one hundred dollars to my name. I sent back to Vermont for my sweetheart, an’ she came out, an’ we were married right here. I couldn’t afford to go back after her, so she came out to me. An’ I reckon,” added he, with a sense of deep satisfaction, “that she hasn’t never regretted it.”
“Well, I don’t see how love and law can go together,” said Franklin sagely.
“They don’t,” said the judge tersely. “When you get so that you see a girl’s face a-settin’ on the page of your law book in front of you, the best thing you can do is to go marry the girl as quick as the Lord’ll let you. It beats the world, anyhow, how some fellows get mixed up, and let a woman hinder ’em in their work. Now, in my case, I never had any such a trouble.”
“And I hope I never shall,” said Franklin.
“Well, see that you don’t. You hit it close when you said that love an’ law don’t go together. Don’t try to study ’em both at the same time; that’s my advice, an’ I don’t charge you anything for it, seeing it’s you.” With a grin at his little jest, Judge Bradley turned back to his desk and to his little world.
THE NEW WORLD
Franklin crossed the Missouri River, that dividing stream known to a generation of Western men simply as “the River,” and acknowledged as the boundary between the old and the new, the known and the untried. He passed on through well-settled farming regions, dotted with prosperous towns. He moved still with the rolling wheels over a country which showed only here and there the smoke of a rancher’s home. Not even yet did the daring flight of the railway cease. It came into a land wide, unbounded, apparently untracked by man, and seemingly set beyond the limit of man’s wanderings. Far out in the heart of this great gray wilderness lay the track-end of this railroad pushing across the continent. When Franklin descended from the rude train he needed no one to tell him he had come to Ellisville. He was at the limit, the edge, the boundary! “Well, friend,” said the fireman, who was oiling the engine as he passed, and who grinned amiably as he spoke, “you’re sure at the front now.”