Franklin rebelled from the technical side of the law, not so much by reason of its dry difficulty as through scorn of its admitted weakness, its inability to do more than compromise; through contempt of its pretended beneficences and its frequent inefficiency and harmfulness. In the law he saw plainly the lash of the taskmaster, driving all those yoked together in the horrid compact of society, a master inexorable, stone-faced, cruel. In it he found no comprehension, seeing that it regarded humanity either as a herd of slaves or a pack of wolves, and not as brethren labouring, suffering, performing a common destiny, yielding to a common fate. He saw in the law no actual recognition of the individual, but only the acknowledgment of the social body. Thus, set down in a day miraculously clear, placed among strong characters who had never yet yielded up their souls, witnessing that time which knew the last blaze of the spirit of men absolutely free. Franklin felt his own soul leap into a prayer for the continuance of that day. Seeing then that this might not be, he fell sometimes to the dreaming of how he might some day, if blessed by the pitying and understanding spirit of things, bring out these types, perpetuate these times, and so at last set them lovingly before a world which might at least wonder, though it did not understand. Such were his vague dreams, unformulated; but, happily, meantime he was not content merely to dream.
THE HALFWAY HOUSE
“Miss Ma’y Ellen,” cried Aunt Lucy, thrusting her head in at the door, “oh, Miss Ma’y Ellen, I wish’t you’d come out yer right quick. They’s two o’ them prai’ dogs out yer a-chasin’ ouah hens agin—nasty, dirty things!”
“Very well, Lucy,” called out a voice in answer. Mary Ellen arose from her seat near the window, whence she had been gazing out over the wide, flat prairie lands and at the blue, unwinking sky. Her step was free and strong, but had no hurry of anxiety. It was no new thing for these “prairie dogs,” as Aunt Lucy persisted in calling the coyotes, to chase the chickens boldly up to the very door. These marauding wolves had at first terrified her, but in her life on the prairies