Page:Crainquebille, Putois, Riquet and other profitable tales, 1915.djvu/215

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201
JEAN MARTEAU

man that which belongs to him, to the rich his wealth, to the poor his poverty."

"I have reflected on the philosophy of law," said Monsieur Bergeret, "and I have perceived that the whole structure of social justice rests upon two axioms: robbery is to be condemned: the result of robbery is to be respected. These are the principles which assure the security of individuals and maintain order in the State. If one of these tutelary principles were to be disregarded the whole of society would fall to pieces. They were established in the beginning of time. A chief clothed in bearskin, armed with an axe of flint and with a sword of bronze, returned with his comrades to the stone entrenchments, wherein were enclosed the children of the tribe and the troops of women and of reindeer. They brought back with them youths and maidens from the neighbouring tribe and stones fallen from the sky, which were precious because out of them could be made swords which would not bend. The chief ascended a hillock in the middle of the enclosure and said: 'These slaves and this iron, which I have taken from men weak and contemptible are mine. Whosoever shall lay hands upon them shall be struck down by my axe.' Such is the origin of law. Its spirit is ancient and barbarous. And it is