Page:Tales of John Oliver Hobbes.djvu/256

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240
A Study in Temptations.
 

one complications and combinations, which the cultured mind can make out of one rough passion chopped into polished fragments. His love was love, and his hate was hate, and his rage was rage: to excite either one was like pulling out the stop of an organ.

Like most proud men he was extremely sensitive, and he had been quick to notice his nephew's want of interest in farm matters and the comfortable home—the home which Battle himself had spent his days in making, and which was the crown of his earthly labours. The old man did not desire—nor indeed could he conceive—a greater happiness than to stand in his porch, and see the smoke rising from his tenants' chimney-pots, to gaze at the fine barn (once a miserable cowshed), at the dairy, and at the model hen-house built after his own design, with a patent door! Every twig and every stone on the estate had its value and association for him; every inch of the ground knew his tread; every corner, nook, and cranny stood for something in the sum of his experience. But De Boys could sit opposite the barn with his nose in a book; he accepted the dairy as a matter of course; he talked of crops and prize bullocks as though land which did not yield crops, and bullocks which did not win prizes were things unheard of; he ate his good fare and slept between linen sheets, not with gratitude, but as though he would have been very scurvily treated if he did not have such luxuries.

All this was a never-failing source of bitterness to the old man: what he gave he gave liberally; he only asked, when his gifts were accepted so freely, that he should be remembered with like readiness as