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Chapter 14He had used to turn from Boarzell to her for rest, and now he found himself turning from her to Boarzell. It was part of the baffling paradox that the thing he fought should also be the thing he loved, and the battlefield his refuge. Out on the Moor, with the south-west wind rolling over him like the waves of some huge earth-scented sea, he drank in the spirit of conflict, he was swept back into the cleanness and singleness of his warfare. It was then that Boarzell nerved him for its own subduing, stripped his heart of softness, cleansed it of domestic fret. Rose and her love and sweetness were all very well, but he was out for something greater than Rosehe must keep in mind that she was only a part of things. Why, he himself was only a part of things, and in his cravings and softenings must be conquered and brushed aside even as Rose. In challenging Boarzell he had challenged the secret forces of his own body, all the riot of hope and weakness and desire that go to make a man. The battle was not to be won except over the heaped bodies of the slain, and on the summit of the heap would lie his own.
"My son!"Reuben swung round on the men who had once rallied under his leadership, but now stood scowling at him and muttering to themselves. "My son!"
He was pleased to see their evident love of the farm. They begged him not to keep them too long at school, for they wanted to come home and work on Odiam. So he took David away when he was sixteen, and William when he was fifteen the next year.
"They're here!" she screamed.
"I'll" he began desperately. But even Robert had the wit not to finish his sentence.
"Thanks, f?ather, but if you offered to give us to-day every penny you've got, I'd let you have no child of mine. Maybe we'll be poor and miserable and have to work hard, but he w?an't be one-half so wretched wud us as he'd be wud you. D'you think I disremember my own childhood and the way you m?ade us suffer? You're an old man, but you're heartyyou might live to a hundredand I'd justabout die of sorrow if I[Pg 442] thought any child of mine wur living wud you and being m?ade as miserable as you m?ade us. I'd rather see my boy dead than at Odiam."