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I left him to suppose--a registry perhaps...."
Capes let his oar smack on the water.
"Do you mind very much?"
He shook his head.
"But it makes me feel inhuman," he added.
"It's the perpetual trouble," he said, "of parent and child. They
can't help seeing things in the way they do. Nor can we. WE don't
think they're right, but they don't think we are. A deadlock. In a very
definite sense we are in the wrong--hopelessly in the wrong. But--It's
just this: who was to be hurt?"
"I wish no one had to be hurt," said Ann Veronica. "When one is happy--I
don't like to think of them. Last time I left home I felt as hard as
nails. But this is all different. It is different."
"There's a sort of instinct of rebellion," said Capes. "It isn't
anything to do with our times particularly. People think it is, but they
are wrong. It's to do with adolescence. Long before religion and Society
heard of Doubt, girls were all for midnight coaches and Gretna Green.
It's a sort of home-leaving instinct."
He followed up a line of thought.
"There's another instinct, too," he went on, "in a state of suppression,
unless I'm very much mistaken; a child-expelling instinct.... I
wonder.... There's no family uniting instinct, anyhow; it's habit
and sentiment and material convenience hold families together after
adolescence. There's always friction, conflict, unwilling concessions.
Always! I don't believe there is any strong natural affection at all
between parents and growing-up children. There wasn't, I know, between
myself and my father. I didn't allow myself to see things as they were
in those days; now I do. I bored him. I hated him. I suppose that
shocks one's ideas.... It's true.... There are sentimental and
traditional deferences and reverences, I know, between father and
son; but that's just exactly what prevents the development of an easy
friendship. Father-worshipping sons are abnormal--and they're no good.
No good at all. One's got to be a better man than one's father, or what
is the good of successive generations? Life is rebellion, or nothing."
He rowed a stroke and watched the swirl of water from his oar broaden
and die away. At last he took up his thoughts again: "I wonder if, some
day, one won't need to rebel against customs and laws? If this discord
will have gone? Some day, perhaps--who knows?--the old won't coddle and
hamper the young, and the young won't need to fly in the faces of the
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