All the way back to his house St. George’s wrath kept him silent. He had rarely been so stirred. He was not a brawler—his whole life had been one of peace; his whole ambition to be the healer of differences, and yet there were some things he could not stand. One of these was cruelty to a human being, and Rutter’s public disowning of Harry was cruelty of the most contemptible kind. But one explanation of such an outrage was possible—the man’s intolerable egoism, added to his insufferable conceit. Only once did Temple address Harry, walking silently by his side under the magnolias, and then only to remark, more to himself than to his companion—“It’s his damned, dirty pride, Harry—that’s what it is!”
Harry also held his peace. He had no theories regarding his father’s conduct: only facts confronted him, one being that he had purposely humiliated him before the men who had known him from a boy, and with whom his future life must be cast. The end had come now. He was adrift without a home. Even Kate was lost. This last attack of his father’s would widen the breach between them, for she would never overlook this last stigma when she heard of it, as she certainly must. Nobody would then be left on his side except his dear mother, the old house servants, and St. George, and of these St. George alone could be of any service to him.
It had all been so horrible too, and so undeserved—worse than anything he had ever dreamed of; infinitely worse than the night he had been driven from Moorlands. Never in all his life had he shown his father anything but obedience and respect; furthermore, he had loved and admired him; loved his dash and vigor; his superb physique for a man of his years—some fifty odd—loved too his sportsmanlike qualities—not a man in the county was his equal in the saddle, and not a man in his own or any other county could handle the ribbons so well. If his father had not agreed with him as to when and where he should teach a vulgarian manners, that had been a question about which gentlemen might differ, but to have treated him with contempt, to insult him in public, leaving him no chance to defend himself—force him, really, into a position which made it impossible for him to strike back—was altogether a different thing, and for that he would never, never forgive him.
Then a strange thing happened in the boy’s mind. It may have been the shifting of a grain of gray matter never called into use before; or it may have been due to some stranded red corpuscle which, dislodged by the pressure he had lately been called upon to endure, had rushed headlong through his veins scouring out everything in its way until it reached his thinking apparatus. Whatever the cause, certain it was that the change in the boy’s view of life was as instantaneous as it was radical.