Page:Tales of John Oliver Hobbes.djvu/257

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A Study in 'Temptations.

the giver. There was certainly nothing unreasonable in this desire; it was a very natural craving for some recognition of the toil and endeavour, the heart-aches and struggles which had gone to the making of his—as it must to every man's—success. The race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, and if it is the weak and the slow who win, how is it done save, by the most painful efforts, the sternest self-discipline, the most dogged courage, and the most touching patience? Battle, unable to analyze his feelings, was only conscious that he had fought a hard fight for sixty odd years, was still fighting, and not one member of his family showed, nor ever had shown, the smallest knowledge of it. The women he forgave, for two (his wife and his eldest daughter) were dead, one was a careful housekeeper, and the other, a slip of a girl, but De Boys—he could not forgive De Boys. That his experience was the common one of many husbands and fathers only aggravated the wound: he wished, in pardonable if foolish pride, to think that his family were altogether exceptional, patterns of goodness, sobriety, discretion and—quality so necessary to domestic comfort—obedience.

Much, no doubt, was to be said for the farmer, but De Boys was not without defence. He had appeared on the scene when things were prosperous, and he was still an untravelled youth of twenty; he was therefore quite unable to contrast the old farm with the new, or properly estimate a force of character which he could only know to be uncommon, by mixing with the world. In De Boys's green judgment all elderly relatives were severe, a shade despotic, and a little too religious; all women mended socks, made incomparable