A sense of property
Roger got up suddenly, startling him and disturbing his chain of thought. He began to walk down the garden path towards the sand-pit where Lance played silently. Stephen thought he detected a kind of baﬄed anger in his walk. He had been curt and sharp to-day, but especially to Rosemary. It might not be the strike that was making him depressed. It might be … He remembered suddenly that when he first met Rosemary, Roger had been with her. Perhaps the poor young fool had fallen in love with her!
A delightful thought. It would amuse Rosemary if she knew. It excited Stephen himself. To think of a young man envying him his wife was to have that sense of property most delicately gratified. He got up and walked after Roger, more deeply, more voluptuously aware of the home and child and wife that were so clearly his.
He overtook Roger as he paused near the sand-pit. Lance was engrossed with his tottering, dusty fortifications and still unaware of them. Stephen bent towards him.
‘What are they, Lance?’ he asked, cheerfully. ‘Forts and castles?’
Lance looked up quickly and looked away again. He whispered something quietly, his fingers digging nervously into the sand.
‘Speak up, old man,’ Stephen urged.
‘Hills,’ Lance said. ‘Just hills.’
He looked up, shyly smiling. Stephen smiled back, acutely, happily conscious of Roger’s morose figure beside him. In a few years, he thought happily, he will be growing into all the wonderful adventures and explorations of youth. I shan’t lose him; I’m determined to hold him with the sympathy I always wanted. I’ll grow with him. Gordon was all right, but he hadn’t been able to reach Gordon before school began taking him for three-quarters of the year. And Gordon wasn’t his own. How delicious was ownership.