Infomotions, Inc.Indian Summer of a Forsyte In Chancery / Galsworthy, John, 1867-1933



Author: Galsworthy, John, 1867-1933
Title: Indian Summer of a Forsyte In Chancery
Publisher: Project Gutenberg
Tag(s): soames; jolyon; forsyte; val; winifred; old jolyon; irene; aunt juley; holly; madame lamotte; jolly; dog balthasar; james; aunt hester; val dartie; uncle jolyon
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Project Gutenberg's The Forsyte Saga, Volume II., by John Galsworthy

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Title: The Forsyte Saga, Volume II.
       Indian Summer of a Forsyte and In Chancery

Author: John Galsworthy

Release Date: June 14, 2006 [EBook #2594]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ASCII

*** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK THE FORSYTE SAGA, VOLUME II. ***




Produced by David Widger





THE FORSYTE SAGA--VOLUME II

By John Galsworthy



Contents:     Indian Summer of a Forsyte
              In Chancery


TO ANDRE CHEVRILLON




INDIAN SUMMER OF A FORSYTE


      "And Summer's lease hath all
                too short a date."
       --Shakespeare




I

In the last day of May in the early 'nineties, about six o'clock of the
evening, old Jolyon Forsyte sat under the oak tree below the terrace
of his house at Robin Hill. He was waiting for the midges to bite him,
before abandoning the glory of the afternoon. His thin brown hand,
where blue veins stood out, held the end of a cigar in its tapering,
long-nailed fingers--a pointed polished nail had survived with him from
those earlier Victorian days when to touch nothing, even with the tips
of the fingers, had been so distinguished. His domed forehead, great
white moustache, lean cheeks, and long lean jaw were covered from the
westering sunshine by an old brown Panama hat. His legs were crossed; in
all his attitude was serenity and a kind of elegance, as of an old man
who every morning put eau de Cologne upon his silk handkerchief. At his
feet lay a woolly brown-and-white dog trying to be a Pomeranian--the dog
Balthasar between whom and old Jolyon primal aversion had changed into
attachment with the years. Close to his chair was a swing, and on the
swing was seated one of Holly's dolls--called 'Duffer Alice'--with
her body fallen over her legs and her doleful nose buried in a black
petticoat. She was never out of disgrace, so it did not matter to her
how she sat. Below the oak tree the lawn dipped down a bank, stretched
to the fernery, and, beyond that refinement, became fields, dropping to
the pond, the coppice, and the prospect--'Fine, remarkable'--at which
Swithin Forsyte, from under this very tree, had stared five years ago
when he drove down with Irene to look at the house. Old Jolyon had heard
of his brother's exploit--that drive which had become quite celebrated
on Forsyte 'Change. Swithin! And the fellow had gone and died, last
November, at the age of only seventy-nine, renewing the doubt whether
Forsytes could live for ever, which had first arisen when Aunt Ann
passed away. Died! and left only Jolyon and James, Roger and Nicholas
and Timothy, Julia, Hester, Susan! And old Jolyon thought: 'Eighty-five!
I don't feel it--except when I get that pain.'

His memory went searching. He had not felt his age since he had bought
his nephew Soames' ill-starred house and settled into it here at Robin
Hill over three years ago. It was as if he had been getting
younger every spring, living in the country with his son and his
grandchildren--June, and the little ones of the second marriage, Jolly
and Holly; living down here out of the racket of London and the cackle
of Forsyte 'Change,' free of his boards, in a delicious atmosphere of
no work and all play, with plenty of occupation in the perfecting and
mellowing of the house and its twenty acres, and in ministering to
the whims of Holly and Jolly. All the knots and crankiness, which had
gathered in his heart during that long and tragic business of June,
Soames, Irene his wife, and poor young Bosinney, had been smoothed out.
Even June had thrown off her melancholy at last--witness this travel in
Spain she was taking now with her father and her stepmother. Curiously
perfect peace was left by their departure; blissful, yet blank, because
his son was not there. Jo was never anything but a comfort and a
pleasure to him nowadays--an amiable chap; but women, somehow--even the
best--got a little on one's nerves, unless of course one admired them.

Far-off a cuckoo called; a wood-pigeon was cooing from the first
elm-tree in the field, and how the daisies and buttercups had sprung
up after the last mowing! The wind had got into the sou' west, too--a
delicious air, sappy! He pushed his hat back and let the sun fall on his
chin and cheek. Somehow, to-day, he wanted company--wanted a pretty face
to look at. People treated the old as if they wanted nothing. And with
the un-Forsytean philosophy which ever intruded on his soul, he thought:
'One's never had enough. With a foot in the grave one'll want something,
I shouldn't be surprised!' Down here--away from the exigencies of
affairs--his grandchildren, and the flowers, trees, birds of his little
domain, to say nothing of sun and moon and stars above them, said,
'Open, sesame,' to him day and night. And sesame had opened--how much,
perhaps, he did not know. He had always been responsive to what they had
begun to call 'Nature,' genuinely, almost religiously responsive, though
he had never lost his habit of calling a sunset a sunset and a view a
view, however deeply they might move him. But nowadays Nature actually
made him ache, he appreciated it so. Every one of these calm, bright,
lengthening days, with Holly's hand in his, and the dog Balthasar in
front looking studiously for what he never found, he would stroll,
watching the roses open, fruit budding on the walls, sunlight
brightening the oak leaves and saplings in the coppice, watching the
water-lily leaves unfold and glisten, and the silvery young corn of
the one wheat field; listening to the starlings and skylarks, and the
Alderney cows chewing the cud, flicking slow their tufted tails; and
every one of these fine days he ached a little from sheer love of it
all, feeling perhaps, deep down, that he had not very much longer
to enjoy it. The thought that some day--perhaps not ten years hence,
perhaps not five--all this world would be taken away from him, before he
had exhausted his powers of loving it, seemed to him in the nature of an
injustice brooding over his horizon. If anything came after this life,
it wouldn't be what he wanted; not Robin Hill, and flowers and birds and
pretty faces--too few, even now, of those about him! With the years
his dislike of humbug had increased; the orthodoxy he had worn in the
'sixties, as he had worn side-whiskers out of sheer exuberance, had long
dropped off, leaving him reverent before three things alone--beauty,
upright conduct, and the sense of property; and the greatest of these
now was beauty. He had always had wide interests, and, indeed could
still read The Times, but he was liable at any moment to put it down if
he heard a blackbird sing. Upright conduct, property--somehow, they were
tiring; the blackbirds and the sunsets never tired him, only gave him
an uneasy feeling that he could not get enough of them. Staring into the
stilly radiance of the early evening and at the little gold and white
flowers on the lawn, a thought came to him: This weather was like
the music of 'Orfeo,' which he had recently heard at Covent Garden. A
beautiful opera, not like Meyerbeer, nor even quite Mozart, but, in its
way, perhaps even more lovely; something classical and of the Golden Age
about it, chaste and mellow, and the Ravogli 'almost worthy of the old
days'--highest praise he could bestow. The yearning of Orpheus for the
beauty he was losing, for his love going down to Hades, as in life love
and beauty did go--the yearning which sang and throbbed through the
golden music, stirred also in the lingering beauty of the world that
evening. And with the tip of his cork-soled, elastic-sided boot he
involuntarily stirred the ribs of the dog Balthasar, causing the animal
to wake and attack his fleas; for though he was supposed to have none,
nothing could persuade him of the fact. When he had finished he rubbed
the place he had been scratching against his master's calf, and settled
down again with his chin over the instep of the disturbing boot. And
into old Jolyon's mind came a sudden recollection--a face he had seen
at that opera three weeks ago--Irene, the wife of his precious nephew
Soames, that man of property! Though he had not met her since the day
of the 'At Home' in his old house at Stanhope Gate, which celebrated his
granddaughter June's ill-starred engagement to young Bosinney, he had
remembered her at once, for he had always admired her--a very pretty
creature. After the death of young Bosinney, whose mistress she had so
reprehensibly become, he had heard that she had left Soames at once.
Goodness only knew what she had been doing since. That sight of her
face--a side view--in the row in front, had been literally the only
reminder these three years that she was still alive. No one ever spoke
of her. And yet Jo had told him something once--something which had
upset him completely. The boy had got it from George Forsyte,
he believed, who had seen Bosinney in the fog the day he was run
over--something which explained the young fellow's distress--an act
of Soames towards his wife--a shocking act. Jo had seen her, too,
that afternoon, after the news was out, seen her for a moment, and his
description had always lingered in old Jolyon's mind--'wild and lost'
he had called her. And next day June had gone there--bottled up her
feelings and gone there, and the maid had cried and told her how her
mistress had slipped out in the night and vanished. A tragic business
altogether! One thing was certain--Soames had never been able to lay
hands on her again. And he was living at Brighton, and journeying up
and down--a fitting fate, the man of property! For when he once took a
dislike to anyone--as he had to his nephew--old Jolyon never got over
it. He remembered still the sense of relief with which he had heard the
news of Irene's disappearance. It had been shocking to think of her a
prisoner in that house to which she must have wandered back, when Jo saw
her, wandered back for a moment--like a wounded animal to its hole after
seeing that news, 'Tragic death of an Architect,' in the street. Her
face had struck him very much the other night--more beautiful than he
had remembered, but like a mask, with something going on beneath it. A
young woman still--twenty-eight perhaps. Ah, well! Very likely she had
another lover by now. But at this subversive thought--for married women
should never love: once, even, had been too much--his instep rose, and
with it the dog Balthasar's head. The sagacious animal stood up and
looked into old Jolyon's face. 'Walk?' he seemed to say; and old Jolyon
answered: "Come on, old chap!"

Slowly, as was their wont, they crossed among the constellations of
buttercups and daisies, and entered the fernery. This feature, where
very little grew as yet, had been judiciously dropped below the level of
the lawn so that it might come up again on the level of the other lawn
and give the impression of irregularity, so important in horticulture.
Its rocks and earth were beloved of the dog Balthasar, who sometimes
found a mole there. Old Jolyon made a point of passing through it
because, though it was not beautiful, he intended that it should be,
some day, and he would think: 'I must get Varr to come down and look
at it; he's better than Beech.' For plants, like houses and human
complaints, required the best expert consideration. It was inhabited by
snails, and if accompanied by his grandchildren, he would point to one
and tell them the story of the little boy who said: 'Have plummers
got leggers, Mother? 'No, sonny.' 'Then darned if I haven't been and
swallowed a snileybob.' And when they skipped and clutched his hand,
thinking of the snileybob going down the little boy's 'red lane,' his
eyes would twinkle. Emerging from the fernery, he opened the wicket
gate, which just there led into the first field, a large and park-like
area, out of which, within brick walls, the vegetable garden had been
carved. Old Jolyon avoided this, which did not suit his mood, and made
down the hill towards the pond. Balthasar, who knew a water-rat or two,
gambolled in front, at the gait which marks an oldish dog who takes
the same walk every day. Arrived at the edge, old Jolyon stood, noting
another water-lily opened since yesterday; he would show it to Holly
to-morrow, when 'his little sweet' had got over the upset which had
followed on her eating a tomato at lunch--her little arrangements were
very delicate. Now that Jolly had gone to school--his first term--Holly
was with him nearly all day long, and he missed her badly. He felt that
pain too, which often bothered him now, a little dragging at his left
side. He looked back up the hill. Really, poor young Bosinney had made
an uncommonly good job of the house; he would have done very well for
himself if he had lived! And where was he now? Perhaps, still haunting
this, the site of his last work, of his tragic love affair. Or was
Philip Bosinney's spirit diffused in the general? Who could say? That
dog was getting his legs muddy! And he moved towards the coppice. There
had been the most delightful lot of bluebells, and he knew where some
still lingered like little patches of sky fallen in between the trees,
away out of the sun. He passed the cow-houses and the hen-houses there
installed, and pursued a path into the thick of the saplings, making for
one of the bluebell plots. Balthasar, preceding him once more, uttered
a low growl. Old Jolyon stirred him with his foot, but the dog remained
motionless, just where there was no room to pass, and the hair rose
slowly along the centre of his woolly back. Whether from the growl and
the look of the dog's stivered hair, or from the sensation which a man
feels in a wood, old Jolyon also felt something move along his spine.
And then the path turned, and there was an old mossy log, and on it a
woman sitting. Her face was turned away, and he had just time to think:
'She's trespassing--I must have a board put up!' before she turned.
Powers above! The face he had seen at the opera--the very woman he had
just been thinking of! In that confused moment he saw things blurred,
as if a spirit--queer effect--the slant of sunlight perhaps on her
violet-grey frock! And then she rose and stood smiling, her head a
little to one side. Old Jolyon thought: 'How pretty she is!' She did not
speak, neither did he; and he realized why with a certain admiration.
She was here no doubt because of some memory, and did not mean to try
and get out of it by vulgar explanation.

"Don't let that dog touch your frock," he said; "he's got wet feet. Come
here, you!"

But the dog Balthasar went on towards the visitor, who put her hand down
and stroked his head. Old Jolyon said quickly:

"I saw you at the opera the other night; you didn't notice me."

"Oh, yes! I did."

He felt a subtle flattery in that, as though she had added: 'Do you
think one could miss seeing you?'

"They're all in Spain," he remarked abruptly. "I'm alone; I drove up for
the opera. The Ravogli's good. Have you seen the cow-houses?"

In a situation so charged with mystery and something very like emotion
he moved instinctively towards that bit of property, and she moved
beside him. Her figure swayed faintly, like the best kind of French
figures; her dress, too, was a sort of French grey. He noticed two or
three silver threads in her amber-coloured hair, strange hair with those
dark eyes of hers, and that creamy-pale face. A sudden sidelong look
from the velvety brown eyes disturbed him. It seemed to come from deep
and far, from another world almost, or at all events from some one not
living very much in this. And he said mechanically:

"Where are you living now?"

"I have a little flat in Chelsea."

He did not want to hear what she was doing, did not want to hear
anything; but the perverse word came out:

"Alone?"

She nodded. It was a relief to know that. And it came into his mind
that, but for a twist of fate, she would have been mistress of this
coppice, showing these cow-houses to him, a visitor.

"All Alderneys," he muttered; "they give the best milk. This one's a
pretty creature. Woa, Myrtle!"

The fawn-coloured cow, with eyes as soft and brown as Irene's own, was
standing absolutely still, not having long been milked. She looked round
at them out of the corner of those lustrous, mild, cynical eyes, and
from her grey lips a little dribble of saliva threaded its way towards
the straw. The scent of hay and vanilla and ammonia rose in the dim
light of the cool cow-house; and old Jolyon said:

"You must come up and have some dinner with me. I'll send you home in
the carriage."

He perceived a struggle going on within her; natural, no doubt, with her
memories. But he wanted her company; a pretty face, a charming figure,
beauty! He had been alone all the afternoon. Perhaps his eyes were
wistful, for she answered: "Thank you, Uncle Jolyon. I should like to."

He rubbed his hands, and said:

"Capital! Let's go up, then!" And, preceded by the dog Balthasar, they
ascended through the field. The sun was almost level in their faces now,
and he could see, not only those silver threads, but little lines, just
deep enough to stamp her beauty with a coin-like fineness--the special
look of life unshared with others. "I'll take her in by the terrace," he
thought: "I won't make a common visitor of her."

"What do you do all day?" he said.

"Teach music; I have another interest, too."

"Work!" said old Jolyon, picking up the doll from off the swing, and
smoothing its black petticoat. "Nothing like it, is there? I don't do
any now. I'm getting on. What interest is that?"

"Trying to help women who've come to grief." Old Jolyon did not quite
understand. "To grief?" he repeated; then realised with a shock that
she meant exactly what he would have meant himself if he had used
that expression. Assisting the Magdalenes of London! What a weird and
terrifying interest! And, curiosity overcoming his natural shrinking, he
asked:

"Why? What do you do for them?"

"Not much. I've no money to spare. I can only give sympathy and food
sometimes."

Involuntarily old Jolyon's hand sought his purse. He said hastily: "How
d'you get hold of them?"

"I go to a hospital."

"A hospital! Phew!"

"What hurts me most is that once they nearly all had some sort of
beauty."

Old Jolyon straightened the doll. "Beauty!" he ejaculated: "Ha! Yes! A
sad business!" and he moved towards the house. Through a French window,
under sun-blinds not yet drawn up, he preceded her into the room
where he was wont to study The Times and the sheets of an agricultural
magazine, with huge illustrations of mangold wurzels, and the like,
which provided Holly with material for her paint brush.

"Dinner's in half an hour. You'd like to wash your hands! I'll take you
to June's room."

He saw her looking round eagerly; what changes since she had last
visited this house with her husband, or her lover, or both perhaps--he
did not know, could not say! All that was dark, and he wished to leave
it so. But what changes! And in the hall he said:

"My boy Jo's a painter, you know. He's got a lot of taste. It isn't
mine, of course, but I've let him have his way."

She was standing very still, her eyes roaming through the hall and music
room, as it now was--all thrown into one, under the great skylight. Old
Jolyon had an odd impression of her. Was she trying to conjure somebody
from the shades of that space where the colouring was all pearl-grey and
silver? He would have had gold himself; more lively and solid. But Jo
had French tastes, and it had come out shadowy like that, with an effect
as of the fume of cigarettes the chap was always smoking, broken here
and there by a little blaze of blue or crimson colour. It was not
his dream! Mentally he had hung this space with those gold-framed
masterpieces of still and stiller life which he had bought in days when
quantity was precious. And now where were they? Sold for a song! That
something which made him, alone among Forsytes, move with the times
had warned him against the struggle to retain them. But in his study he
still had 'Dutch Fishing Boats at Sunset.'

He began to mount the stairs with her, slowly, for he felt his side.

"These are the bathrooms," he said, "and other arrangements. I've had
them tiled. The nurseries are along there. And this is Jo's and his
wife's. They all communicate. But you remember, I expect."

Irene nodded. They passed on, up the gallery and entered a large room
with a small bed, and several windows.

"This is mine," he said. The walls were covered with the photographs of
children and watercolour sketches, and he added doubtfully:

"These are Jo's. The view's first-rate. You can see the Grand Stand at
Epsom in clear weather."

The sun was down now, behind the house, and over the 'prospect' a
luminous haze had settled, emanation of the long and prosperous day. Few
houses showed, but fields and trees faintly glistened, away to a loom of
downs.

"The country's changing," he said abruptly, "but there it'll be when
we're all gone. Look at those thrushes--the birds are sweet here in the
mornings. I'm glad to have washed my hands of London."

Her face was close to the window pane, and he was struck by its mournful
look. 'Wish I could make her look happy!' he thought. 'A pretty face,
but sad!' And taking up his can of hot water he went out into the
gallery.

"This is June's room," he said, opening the next door and putting the
can down; "I think you'll find everything." And closing the door behind
her he went back to his own room. Brushing his hair with his great ebony
brushes, and dabbing his forehead with eau de Cologne, he mused. She had
come so strangely--a sort of visitation; mysterious, even romantic, as
if his desire for company, for beauty, had been fulfilled by whatever
it was which fulfilled that sort of thing. And before the mirror he
straightened his still upright figure, passed the brushes over his great
white moustache, touched up his eyebrows with eau de Cologne, and rang
the bell.

"I forgot to let them know that I have a lady to dinner with me. Let
cook do something extra, and tell Beacon to have the landau and pair at
half-past ten to drive her back to Town to-night. Is Miss Holly asleep?"

The maid thought not. And old Jolyon, passing down the gallery, stole
on tiptoe towards the nursery, and opened the door whose hinges he kept
specially oiled that he might slip in and out in the evenings without
being heard.

But Holly was asleep, and lay like a miniature Madonna, of that
type which the old painters could not tell from Venus, when they had
completed her. Her long dark lashes clung to her cheeks; on her face was
perfect peace--her little arrangements were evidently all right again.
And old Jolyon, in the twilight of the room, stood adoring her! It was
so charming, solemn, and loving--that little face. He had more than his
share of the blessed capacity of living again in the young. They were
to him his future life--all of a future life that his fundamental pagan
sanity perhaps admitted. There she was with everything before her, and
his blood--some of it--in her tiny veins. There she was, his little
companion, to be made as happy as ever he could make her, so that she
knew nothing but love. His heart swelled, and he went out, stilling the
sound of his patent-leather boots. In the corridor an eccentric notion
attacked him: To think that children should come to that which Irene had
told him she was helping! Women who were all, once, little things like
this one sleeping there! 'I must give her a cheque!' he mused; 'Can't
bear to think of them!' They had never borne reflecting on, those poor
outcasts; wounding too deeply the core of true refinement hidden under
layers of conformity to the sense of property--wounding too grievously
the deepest thing in him--a love of beauty which could give him, even
now, a flutter of the heart, thinking of his evening in the society of a
pretty woman. And he went downstairs, through the swinging doors, to the
back regions. There, in the wine-cellar, was a hock worth at least two
pounds a bottle, a Steinberg Cabinet, better than any Johannisberg
that ever went down throat; a wine of perfect bouquet, sweet as a
nectarine--nectar indeed! He got a bottle out, handling it like a baby,
and holding it level to the light, to look. Enshrined in its coat
of dust, that mellow coloured, slender-necked bottle gave him deep
pleasure. Three years to settle down again since the move from
Town--ought to be in prime condition! Thirty-five years ago he had
bought it--thank God he had kept his palate, and earned the right to
drink it. She would appreciate this; not a spice of acidity in a dozen.
He wiped the bottle, drew the cork with his own hands, put his nose
down, inhaled its perfume, and went back to the music room.

Irene was standing by the piano; she had taken off her hat and a lace
scarf she had been wearing, so that her gold-coloured hair was visible,
and the pallor of her neck. In her grey frock she made a pretty picture
for old Jolyon, against the rosewood of the piano.

He gave her his arm, and solemnly they went. The room, which had been
designed to enable twenty-four people to dine in comfort, held now but
a little round table. In his present solitude the big dining-table
oppressed old Jolyon; he had caused it to be removed till his son came
back. Here in the company of two really good copies of Raphael Madonnas
he was wont to dine alone. It was the only disconsolate hour of his day,
this summer weather. He had never been a large eater, like that great
chap Swithin, or Sylvanus Heythorp, or Anthony Thornworthy, those
cronies of past times; and to dine alone, overlooked by the Madonnas,
was to him but a sorrowful occupation, which he got through quickly,
that he might come to the more spiritual enjoyment of his coffee and
cigar. But this evening was a different matter! His eyes twinkled at her
across the little table and he spoke of Italy and Switzerland, telling
her stories of his travels there, and other experiences which he could
no longer recount to his son and grand-daughter because they knew them.
This fresh audience was precious to him; he had never become one of
those old men who ramble round and round the fields of reminiscence.
Himself quickly fatigued by the insensitive, he instinctively avoided
fatiguing others, and his natural flirtatiousness towards beauty guarded
him specially in his relations with a woman. He would have liked to draw
her out, but though she murmured and smiled and seemed to be enjoying
what he told her, he remained conscious of that mysterious remoteness
which constituted half her fascination. He could not bear women
who threw their shoulders and eyes at you, and chattered away; or
hard-mouthed women who laid down the law and knew more than you did.
There was only one quality in a woman that appealed to him--charm;
and the quieter it was, the more he liked it. And this one had charm,
shadowy as afternoon sunlight on those Italian hills and valleys he had
loved. The feeling, too, that she was, as it were, apart, cloistered,
made her seem nearer to himself, a strangely desirable companion. When
a man is very old and quite out of the running, he loves to feel secure
from the rivalries of youth, for he would still be first in the heart
of beauty. And he drank his hock, and watched her lips, and felt nearly
young. But the dog Balthasar lay watching her lips too, and despising
in his heart the interruptions of their talk, and the tilting of those
greenish glasses full of a golden fluid which was distasteful to him.

The light was just failing when they went back into the music-room. And,
cigar in mouth, old Jolyon said:

"Play me some Chopin."

By the cigars they smoke, and the composers they love, ye shall know
the texture of men's souls. Old Jolyon could not bear a strong cigar
or Wagner's music. He loved Beethoven and Mozart, Handel and Gluck, and
Schumann, and, for some occult reason, the operas of Meyerbeer; but of
late years he had been seduced by Chopin, just as in painting he
had succumbed to Botticelli. In yielding to these tastes he had been
conscious of divergence from the standard of the Golden Age. Their
poetry was not that of Milton and Byron and Tennyson; of Raphael and
Titian; Mozart and Beethoven. It was, as it were, behind a veil; their
poetry hit no one in the face, but slipped its fingers under the ribs
and turned and twisted, and melted up the heart. And, never certain
that this was healthy, he did not care a rap so long as he could see the
pictures of the one or hear the music of the other.

Irene sat down at the piano under the electric lamp festooned with
pearl-grey, and old Jolyon, in an armchair, whence he could see her,
crossed his legs and drew slowly at his cigar. She sat a few moments
with her hands on the keys, evidently searching her mind for what to
give him. Then she began and within old Jolyon there arose a sorrowful
pleasure, not quite like anything else in the world. He fell slowly into
a trance, interrupted only by the movements of taking the cigar out of
his mouth at long intervals, and replacing it. She was there, and the
hock within him, and the scent of tobacco; but there, too, was a world
of sunshine lingering into moonlight, and pools with storks upon them,
and bluish trees above, glowing with blurs of wine-red roses, and fields
of lavender where milk-white cows were grazing, and a woman all shadowy,
with dark eyes and a white neck, smiled, holding out her arms; and
through air which was like music a star dropped and was caught on a
cow's horn. He opened his eyes. Beautiful piece; she played well--the
touch of an angel! And he closed them again. He felt miraculously sad
and happy, as one does, standing under a lime-tree in full honey flower.
Not live one's own life again, but just stand there and bask in the
smile of a woman's eyes, and enjoy the bouquet! And he jerked his hand;
the dog Balthasar had reached up and licked it.

"Beautiful!" He said: "Go on--more Chopin!"

She began to play again. This time the resemblance between her and
'Chopin' struck him. The swaying he had noticed in her walk was in her
playing too, and the Nocturne she had chosen and the soft darkness of
her eyes, the light on her hair, as of moonlight from a golden moon.
Seductive, yes; but nothing of Delilah in her or in that music. A long
blue spiral from his cigar ascended and dispersed. 'So we go out!' he
thought. 'No more beauty! Nothing?'

Again Irene stopped.

"Would you like some Gluck? He used to write his music in a sunlit
garden, with a bottle of Rhine wine beside him."

"Ah! yes. Let's have 'Orfeo.'" Round about him now were fields of gold
and silver flowers, white forms swaying in the sunlight, bright birds
flying to and fro. All was summer. Lingering waves of sweetness and
regret flooded his soul. Some cigar ash dropped, and taking out a silk
handkerchief to brush it off, he inhaled a mingled scent as of snuff and
eau de Cologne. 'Ah!' he thought, 'Indian summer--that's all!' and he
said: "You haven't played me 'Che faro.'"

She did not answer; did not move. He was conscious of something--some
strange upset. Suddenly he saw her rise and turn away, and a pang of
remorse shot through him. What a clumsy chap! Like Orpheus, she of
course--she too was looking for her lost one in the hall of memory! And
disturbed to the heart, he got up from his chair. She had gone to the
great window at the far end. Gingerly he followed. Her hands were folded
over her breast; he could just see her cheek, very white. And, quite
emotionalized, he said:

"There, there, my love!" The words had escaped him mechanically, for
they were those he used to Holly when she had a pain, but their effect
was instantaneously distressing. She raised her arms, covered her face
with them, and wept.

Old Jolyon stood gazing at her with eyes very deep from age. The
passionate shame she seemed feeling at her abandonment, so unlike the
control and quietude of her whole presence was as if she had never
before broken down in the presence of another being.

"There, there--there, there!" he murmured, and putting his hand out
reverently, touched her. She turned, and leaned the arms which covered
her face against him. Old Jolyon stood very still, keeping one thin hand
on her shoulder. Let her cry her heart out--it would do her good.

And the dog Balthasar, puzzled, sat down on his stern to examine them.

The window was still open, the curtains had not been drawn, the last of
daylight from without mingled with faint intrusion from the lamp within;
there was a scent of new-mown grass. With the wisdom of a long life old
Jolyon did not speak. Even grief sobbed itself out in time; only Time
was good for sorrow--Time who saw the passing of each mood, each emotion
in turn; Time the layer-to-rest. There came into his mind the words: 'As
panteth the hart after cooling streams'--but they were of no use to him.
Then, conscious of a scent of violets, he knew she was drying her eyes.
He put his chin forward, pressed his moustache against her forehead, and
felt her shake with a quivering of her whole body, as of a tree which
shakes itself free of raindrops. She put his hand to her lips, as if
saying: "All over now! Forgive me!"

The kiss filled him with a strange comfort; he led her back to where she
had been so upset. And the dog Balthasar, following, laid the bone of
one of the cutlets they had eaten at their feet.

Anxious to obliterate the memory of that emotion, he could think of
nothing better than china; and moving with her slowly from cabinet to
cabinet, he kept taking up bits of Dresden and Lowestoft and Chelsea,
turning them round and round with his thin, veined hands, whose skin,
faintly freckled, had such an aged look.

"I bought this at Jobson's," he would say; "cost me thirty pounds.
It's very old. That dog leaves his bones all over the place. This old
'ship-bowl' I picked up at the sale when that precious rip, the Marquis,
came to grief. But you don't remember. Here's a nice piece of Chelsea.
Now, what would you say this was?" And he was comforted, feeling that,
with her taste, she was taking a real interest in these things; for,
after all, nothing better composes the nerves than a doubtful piece of
china.

When the crunch of the carriage wheels was heard at last, he said:

"You must come again; you must come to lunch, then I can show you these
by daylight, and my little sweet--she's a dear little thing. This dog
seems to have taken a fancy to you."

For Balthasar, feeling that she was about to leave, was rubbing his side
against her leg. Going out under the porch with her, he said:

"He'll get you up in an hour and a quarter. Take this for your
protegees," and he slipped a cheque for fifty pounds into her hand. He
saw her brightened eyes, and heard her murmur: "Oh! Uncle Jolyon!" and
a real throb of pleasure went through him. That meant one or two poor
creatures helped a little, and it meant that she would come again. He
put his hand in at the window and grasped hers once more. The carriage
rolled away. He stood looking at the moon and the shadows of the trees,
and thought: 'A sweet night! She...!'




II

Two days of rain, and summer set in bland and sunny. Old Jolyon walked
and talked with Holly. At first he felt taller and full of a new vigour;
then he felt restless. Almost every afternoon they would enter the
coppice, and walk as far as the log. 'Well, she's not there!' he would
think, 'of course not!' And he would feel a little shorter, and drag his
feet walking up the hill home, with his hand clapped to his left side.
Now and then the thought would move in him: 'Did she come--or did I
dream it?' and he would stare at space, while the dog Balthasar stared
at him. Of course she would not come again! He opened the letters from
Spain with less excitement. They were not returning till July; he felt,
oddly, that he could bear it. Every day at dinner he screwed up his eyes
and looked at where she had sat. She was not there, so he unscrewed his
eyes again.

On the seventh afternoon he thought: 'I must go up and get some boots.'
He ordered Beacon, and set out. Passing from Putney towards Hyde Park
he reflected: 'I might as well go to Chelsea and see her.' And he called
out: "Just drive me to where you took that lady the other night." The
coachman turned his broad red face, and his juicy lips answered: "The
lady in grey, sir?"

"Yes, the lady in grey." What other ladies were there! Stodgy chap!

The carriage stopped before a small three-storied block of flats,
standing a little back from the river. With a practised eye old Jolyon
saw that they were cheap. 'I should think about sixty pound a year,' he
mused; and entering, he looked at the name-board. The name 'Forsyte' was
not on it, but against 'First Floor, Flat C' were the words: 'Mrs.
Irene Heron.' Ah! She had taken her maiden name again! And somehow this
pleased him. He went upstairs slowly, feeling his side a little.
He stood a moment, before ringing, to lose the feeling of drag and
fluttering there. She would not be in! And then--Boots! The thought was
black. What did he want with boots at his age? He could not wear out all
those he had.

"Your mistress at home?"

"Yes, sir."

"Say Mr. Jolyon Forsyte."

"Yes, sir, will you come this way?"

Old Jolyon followed a very little maid--not more than sixteen one would
say--into a very small drawing-room where the sun-blinds were drawn.
It held a cottage piano and little else save a vague fragrance and
good taste. He stood in the middle, with his top hat in his hand, and
thought: 'I expect she's very badly off!' There was a mirror above the
fireplace, and he saw himself reflected. An old-looking chap! He heard
a rustle, and turned round. She was so close that his moustache almost
brushed her forehead, just under her hair.

"I was driving up," he said. "Thought I'd look in on you, and ask you
how you got up the other night."

And, seeing her smile, he felt suddenly relieved. She was really glad to
see him, perhaps.

"Would you like to put on your hat and come for a drive in the Park?"

But while she was gone to put her hat on, he frowned. The Park! James
and Emily! Mrs. Nicholas, or some other member of his precious family
would be there very likely, prancing up and down. And they would go and
wag their tongues about having seen him with her, afterwards. Better
not! He did not wish to revive the echoes of the past on
Forsyte 'Change. He removed a white hair from the lapel of his
closely-buttoned-up frock coat, and passed his hand over his cheeks,
moustache, and square chin. It felt very hollow there under the
cheekbones. He had not been eating much lately--he had better get that
little whippersnapper who attended Holly to give him a tonic. But she
had come back and when they were in the carriage, he said:

"Suppose we go and sit in Kensington Gardens instead?" and added with
a twinkle: "No prancing up and down there," as if she had been in the
secret of his thoughts.

Leaving the carriage, they entered those select precincts, and strolled
towards the water.

"You've gone back to your maiden name, I see," he said: "I'm not sorry."

She slipped her hand under his arm: "Has June forgiven me, Uncle
Jolyon?"

He answered gently: "Yes--yes; of course, why not?"

"And have you?"

"I? I forgave you as soon as I saw how the land really lay." And perhaps
he had; his instinct had always been to forgive the beautiful.

She drew a deep breath. "I never regretted--I couldn't. Did you ever
love very deeply, Uncle Jolyon?"

At that strange question old Jolyon stared before him. Had he? He did
not seem to remember that he ever had. But he did not like to say this
to the young woman whose hand was touching his arm, whose life was
suspended, as it were, by memory of a tragic love. And he thought: 'If
I had met you when I was young I--I might have made a fool of myself,
perhaps.' And a longing to escape in generalities beset him.

"Love's a queer thing," he said, "fatal thing often. It was the
Greeks--wasn't it?--made love into a goddess; they were right, I dare
say, but then they lived in the Golden Age."

"Phil adored them."

Phil! The word jarred him, for suddenly--with his power to see all round
a thing, he perceived why she was putting up with him like this. She
wanted to talk about her lover! Well! If it was any pleasure to her! And
he said: "Ah! There was a bit of the sculptor in him, I fancy."

"Yes. He loved balance and symmetry; he loved the whole-hearted way the
Greeks gave themselves to art."

Balance! The chap had no balance at all, if he remembered; as for
symmetry--clean-built enough he was, no doubt; but those queer eyes of
his, and high cheek-bones--Symmetry?

"You're of the Golden Age, too, Uncle Jolyon."

Old Jolyon looked round at her. Was she chaffing him? No, her eyes
were soft as velvet. Was she flattering him? But if so, why? There was
nothing to be had out of an old chap like him.

"Phil thought so. He used to say: 'But I can never tell him that I
admire him.'"

Ah! There it was again. Her dead lover; her desire to talk of him! And
he pressed her arm, half resentful of those memories, half grateful, as
if he recognised what a link they were between herself and him.

"He was a very talented young fellow," he murmured. "It's hot; I feel
the heat nowadays. Let's sit down."

They took two chairs beneath a chestnut tree whose broad leaves covered
them from the peaceful glory of the afternoon. A pleasure to sit there
and watch her, and feel that she liked to be with him. And the wish to
increase that liking, if he could, made him go on:

"I expect he showed you a side of him I never saw. He'd be at his best
with you. His ideas of art were a little new--to me "--he had stiffed
the word 'fangled.'

"Yes: but he used to say you had a real sense of beauty." Old Jolyon
thought: 'The devil he did!' but answered with a twinkle: "Well, I have,
or I shouldn't be sitting here with you." She was fascinating when she
smiled with her eyes, like that!

"He thought you had one of those hearts that never grow old. Phil had
real insight."

He was not taken in by this flattery spoken out of the past, out of a
longing to talk of her dead lover--not a bit; and yet it was precious
to hear, because she pleased his eyes and heart which--quite true!--had
never grown old. Was that because--unlike her and her dead lover, he had
never loved to desperation, had always kept his balance, his sense of
symmetry. Well! It had left him power, at eighty-four, to admire beauty.
And he thought, 'If I were a painter or a sculptor! But I'm an old chap.
Make hay while the sun shines.'

A couple with arms entwined crossed on the grass before them, at the
edge of the shadow from their tree. The sunlight fell cruelly on their
pale, squashed, unkempt young faces. "We're an ugly lot!" said old
Jolyon suddenly. "It amazes me to see how--love triumphs over that."

"Love triumphs over everything!"

"The young think so," he muttered.

"Love has no age, no limit, and no death."

With that glow in her pale face, her breast heaving, her eyes so
large and dark and soft, she looked like Venus come to life! But this
extravagance brought instant reaction, and, twinkling, he said: "Well,
if it had limits, we shouldn't be born; for by George! it's got a lot to
put up with."

Then, removing his top hat, he brushed it round with a cuff. The great
clumsy thing heated his forehead; in these days he often got a rush of
blood to the head--his circulation was not what it had been.

She still sat gazing straight before her, and suddenly she murmured:

"It's strange enough that I'm alive."

Those words of Jo's 'Wild and lost' came back to him.

"Ah!" he said: "my son saw you for a moment--that day."

"Was it your son? I heard a voice in the hall; I thought for a second it
was--Phil."

Old Jolyon saw her lips tremble. She put her hand over them, took it
away again, and went on calmly: "That night I went to the Embankment; a
woman caught me by the dress. She told me about herself. When one knows
that others suffer, one's ashamed."

"One of those?"

She nodded, and horror stirred within old Jolyon, the horror of one who
has never known a struggle with desperation. Almost against his will he
muttered: "Tell me, won't you?"

"I didn't care whether I lived or died. When you're like that, Fate
ceases to want to kill you. She took care of me three days--she never
left me. I had no money. That's why I do what I can for them, now."

But old Jolyon was thinking: 'No money!' What fate could compare with
that? Every other was involved in it.

"I wish you had come to me," he said. "Why didn't you?" But Irene did
not answer.

"Because my name was Forsyte, I suppose? Or was it June who kept you
away? How are you getting on now?" His eyes involuntarily swept her
body. Perhaps even now she was--! And yet she wasn't thin--not really!

"Oh! with my fifty pounds a year, I make just enough." The answer did
not reassure him; he had lost confidence. And that fellow Soames! But
his sense of justice stifled condemnation. No, she would certainly have
died rather than take another penny from him. Soft as she looked, there
must be strength in her somewhere--strength and fidelity. But what
business had young Bosinney to have got run over and left her stranded
like this!

"Well, you must come to me now," he said, "for anything you want, or I
shall be quite cut up." And putting on his hat, he rose. "Let's go and
get some tea. I told that lazy chap to put the horses up for an hour,
and come for me at your place. We'll take a cab presently; I can't walk
as I used to."

He enjoyed that stroll to the Kensington end of the gardens--the sound
of her voice, the glancing of her eyes, the subtle beauty of a charming
form moving beside him. He enjoyed their tea at Ruffel's in the High
Street, and came out thence with a great box of chocolates swung on his
little finger. He enjoyed the drive back to Chelsea in a hansom, smoking
his cigar. She had promised to come down next Sunday and play to him
again, and already in thought he was plucking carnations and early roses
for her to carry back to town. It was a pleasure to give her a little
pleasure, if it WERE pleasure from an old chap like him! The carriage
was already there when they arrived. Just like that fellow, who was
always late when he was wanted! Old Jolyon went in for a minute to
say good-bye. The little dark hall of the flat was impregnated with a
disagreeable odour of patchouli, and on a bench against the wall--its
only furniture--he saw a figure sitting. He heard Irene say softly:
"Just one minute." In the little drawing-room when the door was shut, he
asked gravely: "One of your protegees?"

"Yes. Now thanks to you, I can do something for her."

He stood, staring, and stroking that chin whose strength had frightened
so many in its time. The idea of her thus actually in contact with this
outcast grieved and frightened him. What could she do for them? Nothing.
Only soil and make trouble for herself, perhaps. And he said: "Take
care, my dear! The world puts the worst construction on everything."

"I know that."

He was abashed by her quiet smile. "Well then--Sunday," he murmured:
"Good-bye."

She put her cheek forward for him to kiss.

"Good-bye," he said again; "take care of yourself." And he went out,
not looking towards the figure on the bench. He drove home by way of
Hammersmith; that he might stop at a place he knew of and tell them to
send her in two dozen of their best Burgundy. She must want picking-up
sometimes! Only in Richmond Park did he remember that he had gone up to
order himself some boots, and was surprised that he could have had so
paltry an idea.




III

The little spirits of the past which throng an old man's days had never
pushed their faces up to his so seldom as in the seventy hours elapsing
before Sunday came. The spirit of the future, with the charm of the
unknown, put up her lips instead. Old Jolyon was not restless now, and
paid no visits to the log, because she was coming to lunch. There is
wonderful finality about a meal; it removes a world of doubts, for no
one misses meals except for reasons beyond control. He played many games
with Holly on the lawn, pitching them up to her who was batting so as
to be ready to bowl to Jolly in the holidays. For she was not a Forsyte,
but Jolly was--and Forsytes always bat, until they have resigned and
reached the age of eighty-five. The dog Balthasar, in attendance, lay on
the ball as often as he could, and the page-boy fielded, till his face
was like the harvest moon. And because the time was getting shorter,
each day was longer and more golden than the last. On Friday night he
took a liver pill, his side hurt him rather, and though it was not the
liver side, there is no remedy like that. Anyone telling him that he had
found a new excitement in life and that excitement was not good for him,
would have been met by one of those steady and rather defiant looks
of his deep-set iron-grey eyes, which seemed to say: 'I know my own
business best.' He always had and always would.

On Sunday morning, when Holly had gone with her governess to church, he
visited the strawberry beds. There, accompanied by the dog Balthasar, he
examined the plants narrowly and succeeded in finding at least two dozen
berries which were really ripe. Stooping was not good for him, and
he became very dizzy and red in the forehead. Having placed the
strawberries in a dish on the dining-table, he washed his hands and
bathed his forehead with eau de Cologne. There, before the mirror, it
occurred to him that he was thinner. What a 'threadpaper' he had been
when he was young! It was nice to be slim--he could not bear a fat chap;
and yet perhaps his cheeks were too thin! She was to arrive by train at
half-past twelve and walk up, entering from the road past Drage's farm
at the far end of the coppice. And, having looked into June's room to
see that there was hot water ready, he set forth to meet her, leisurely,
for his heart was beating. The air smelled sweet, larks sang, and the
Grand Stand at Epsom was visible. A perfect day! On just such a one, no
doubt, six years ago, Soames had brought young Bosinney down with him
to look at the site before they began to build. It was Bosinney who had
pitched on the exact spot for the house--as June had often told him.
In these days he was thinking much about that young fellow, as if his
spirit were really haunting the field of his last work, on the chance of
seeing--her. Bosinney--the one man who had possessed her heart, to whom
she had given her whole self with rapture! At his age one could not,
of course, imagine such things, but there stirred in him a queer vague
aching--as it were the ghost of an impersonal jealousy; and a feeling,
too, more generous, of pity for that love so early lost. All over in a
few poor months! Well, well! He looked at his watch before entering the
coppice--only a quarter past, twenty-five minutes to wait! And then,
turning the corner of the path, he saw her exactly where he had seen her
the first time, on the log; and realised that she must have come by the
earlier train to sit there alone for a couple of hours at least. Two
hours of her society missed! What memory could make that log so dear to
her? His face showed what he was thinking, for she said at once:

"Forgive me, Uncle Jolyon; it was here that I first knew."

"Yes, yes; there it is for you whenever you like. You're looking a
little Londony; you're giving too many lessons."

That she should have to give lessons worried him. Lessons to a parcel of
young girls thumping out scales with their thick fingers.

"Where do you go to give them?" he asked.

"They're mostly Jewish families, luckily."

Old Jolyon stared; to all Forsytes Jews seem strange and doubtful.

"They love music, and they're very kind."

"They had better be, by George!" He took her arm--his side always hurt
him a little going uphill--and said:

"Did you ever see anything like those buttercups? They came like that in
a night."

Her eyes seemed really to fly over the field, like bees after the
flowers and the honey. "I wanted you to see them--wouldn't let them
turn the cows in yet." Then, remembering that she had come to talk about
Bosinney, he pointed to the clock-tower over the stables:

"I expect he wouldn't have let me put that there--had no notion of time,
if I remember."

But, pressing his arm to her, she talked of flowers instead, and he knew
it was done that he might not feel she came because of her dead lover.

"The best flower I can show you," he said, with a sort of triumph, "is
my little sweet. She'll be back from Church directly. There's something
about her which reminds me a little of you," and it did not seem to him
peculiar that he had put it thus, instead of saying: "There's something
about you which reminds me a little of her." Ah! And here she was!

Holly, followed closely by her elderly French governess, whose digestion
had been ruined twenty-two years ago in the siege of Strasbourg, came
rushing towards them from under the oak tree. She stopped about a dozen
yards away, to pat Balthasar and pretend that this was all she had in
her mind. Old Jolyon, who knew better, said:

"Well, my darling, here's the lady in grey I promised you."

Holly raised herself and looked up. He watched the two of them with a
twinkle, Irene smiling, Holly beginning with grave inquiry, passing
into a shy smile too, and then to something deeper. She had a sense of
beauty, that child--knew what was what! He enjoyed the sight of the kiss
between them.

"Mrs. Heron, Mam'zelle Beauce. Well, Mam'zelle--good sermon?"

For, now that he had not much more time before him, the only part of
the service connected with this world absorbed what interest in church
remained to him. Mam'zelle Beauce stretched out a spidery hand clad in
a black kid glove--she had been in the best families--and the rather sad
eyes of her lean yellowish face seemed to ask: "Are you well-brrred?"
Whenever Holly or Jolly did anything unpleasing to her--a not uncommon
occurrence--she would say to them: "The little Tayleurs never did
that--they were such well-brrred little children." Jolly hated the
little Tayleurs; Holly wondered dreadfully how it was she fell so short
of them. 'A thin rum little soul,' old Jolyon thought her--Mam'zelle
Beauce.

Luncheon was a successful meal, the mushrooms which he himself had
picked in the mushroom house, his chosen strawberries, and another
bottle of the Steinberg cabinet filled him with a certain aromatic
spirituality, and a conviction that he would have a touch of eczema
to-morrow.

After lunch they sat under the oak tree drinking Turkish coffee. It was
no matter of grief to him when Mademoiselle Beauce withdrew to write
her Sunday letter to her sister, whose future had been endangered in
the past by swallowing a pin--an event held up daily in warning to the
children to eat slowly and digest what they had eaten. At the foot of
the bank, on a carriage rug, Holly and the dog Balthasar teased and
loved each other, and in the shade old Jolyon with his legs crossed and
his cigar luxuriously savoured, gazed at Irene sitting in the swing. A
light, vaguely swaying, grey figure with a fleck of sunlight here and
there upon it, lips just opened, eyes dark and soft under lids a little
drooped. She looked content; surely it did her good to come and see him!
The selfishness of age had not set its proper grip on him, for he could
still feel pleasure in the pleasure of others, realising that what he
wanted, though much, was not quite all that mattered.

"It's quiet here," he said; "you mustn't come down if you find it dull.
But it's a pleasure to see you. My little sweet is the only face which
gives me any pleasure, except yours."

From her smile he knew that she was not beyond liking to be appreciated,
and this reassured him. "That's not humbug," he said. "I never told a
woman I admired her when I didn't. In fact I don't know when I've told
a woman I admired her, except my wife in the old days; and wives are
funny." He was silent, but resumed abruptly:

"She used to expect me to say it more often than I felt it, and there
we were." Her face looked mysteriously troubled, and, afraid that he had
said something painful, he hurried on: "When my little sweet marries, I
hope she'll find someone who knows what women feel. I shan't be here to
see it, but there's too much topsy-turvydom in marriage; I don't want
her to pitch up against that." And, aware that he had made bad worse, he
added: "That dog will scratch."

A silence followed. Of what was she thinking, this pretty creature whose
life was spoiled; who had done with love, and yet was made for love?
Some day when he was gone, perhaps, she would find another mate--not so
disorderly as that young fellow who had got himself run over. Ah! but
her husband?

"Does Soames never trouble you?" he asked.

She shook her head. Her face had closed up suddenly. For all her
softness there was something irreconcilable about her. And a glimpse of
light on the inexorable nature of sex antipathies strayed into a brain
which, belonging to early Victorian civilisation--so much older than
this of his old age--had never thought about such primitive things.

"That's a comfort," he said. "You can see the Grand Stand to-day. Shall
we take a turn round?"

Through the flower and fruit garden, against whose high outer walls
peach trees and nectarines were trained to the sun, through the stables,
the vinery, the mushroom house, the asparagus beds, the rosery, the
summer-house, he conducted her--even into the kitchen garden to see the
tiny green peas which Holly loved to scoop out of their pods with
her finger, and lick up from the palm of her little brown hand. Many
delightful things he showed her, while Holly and the dog Balthasar
danced ahead, or came to them at intervals for attention. It was one of
the happiest afternoons he had ever spent, but it tired him and he was
glad to sit down in the music room and let her give him tea. A special
little friend of Holly's had come in--a fair child with short hair like
a boy's. And the two sported in the distance, under the stairs, on the
stairs, and up in the gallery. Old Jolyon begged for Chopin. She played
studies, mazurkas, waltzes, till the two children, creeping near, stood
at the foot of the piano their dark and golden heads bent forward,
listening. Old Jolyon watched.

"Let's see you dance, you two!"

Shyly, with a false start, they began. Bobbing and circling, earnest,
not very adroit, they went past and past his chair to the strains of
that waltz. He watched them and the face of her who was playing turned
smiling towards those little dancers thinking:

'Sweetest picture I've seen for ages.'

A voice said:

"Hollee! Mais enfin--qu'est-ce que tu fais la--danser, le dimanche!
Viens, donc!"

But the children came close to old Jolyon, knowing that he would save
them, and gazed into a face which was decidedly 'caught out.'

"Better the day, better the deed, Mam'zelle. It's all my doing. Trot
along, chicks, and have your tea."

And, when they were gone, followed by the dog Balthasar, who took every
meal, he looked at Irene with a twinkle and said:

"Well, there we are! Aren't they sweet? Have you any little ones among
your pupils?"

"Yes, three--two of them darlings."

"Pretty?"

"Lovely!"

Old Jolyon sighed; he had an insatiable appetite for the very young. "My
little sweet," he said, "is devoted to music; she'll be a musician some
day. You wouldn't give me your opinion of her playing, I suppose?"

"Of course I will."

"You wouldn't like--" but he stifled the words "to give her lessons."
The idea that she gave lessons was unpleasant to him; yet it would mean
that he would see her regularly. She left the piano and came over to his
chair.

"I would like, very much; but there is--June. When are they coming
back?"

Old Jolyon frowned. "Not till the middle of next month. What does that
matter?"

"You said June had forgiven me; but she could never forget, Uncle
Jolyon."

Forget! She must forget, if he wanted her to.

But as if answering, Irene shook her head. "You know she couldn't; one
doesn't forget."

Always that wretched past! And he said with a sort of vexed finality:

"Well, we shall see."

He talked to her an hour or more, of the children, and a hundred little
things, till the carriage came round to take her home. And when she had
gone he went back to his chair, and sat there smoothing his face and
chin, dreaming over the day.

That evening after dinner he went to his study and took a sheet of
paper. He stayed for some minutes without writing, then rose and stood
under the masterpiece 'Dutch Fishing Boats at Sunset.' He was not
thinking of that picture, but of his life. He was going to leave her
something in his Will; nothing could so have stirred the stilly deeps of
thought and memory. He was going to leave her a portion of his wealth,
of his aspirations, deeds, qualities, work--all that had made that
wealth; going to leave her, too, a part of all he had missed in life, by
his sane and steady pursuit of wealth. All! What had he missed? 'Dutch
Fishing Boats' responded blankly; he crossed to the French window, and
drawing the curtain aside, opened it. A wind had got up, and one of last
year's oak leaves which had somehow survived the gardener's brooms, was
dragging itself with a tiny clicking rustle along the stone terrace in
the twilight. Except for that it was very quiet out there, and he could
smell the heliotrope watered not long since. A bat went by. A bird
uttered its last 'cheep.' And right above the oak tree the first star
shone. Faust in the opera had bartered his soul for some fresh years
of youth. Morbid notion! No such bargain was possible, that was real
tragedy! No making oneself new again for love or life or anything.
Nothing left to do but enjoy beauty from afar off while you could, and
leave it something in your Will. But how much? And, as if he could not
make that calculation looking out into the mild freedom of the country
night, he turned back and went up to the chimney-piece. There were
his pet bronzes--a Cleopatra with the asp at her breast; a Socrates; a
greyhound playing with her puppy; a strong man reining in some horses.
'They last!' he thought, and a pang went through his heart. They had a
thousand years of life before them!

'How much?' Well! enough at all events to save her getting old before
her time, to keep the lines out of her face as long as possible, and
grey from soiling that bright hair. He might live another five years.
She would be well over thirty by then. 'How much?' She had none of his
blood in her! In loyalty to the tenor of his life for forty years and
more, ever since he married and founded that mysterious thing, a family,
came this warning thought--None of his blood, no right to anything! It
was a luxury then, this notion. An extravagance, a petting of an old
man's whim, one of those things done in dotage. His real future was
vested in those who had his blood, in whom he would live on when he
was gone. He turned away from the bronzes and stood looking at the old
leather chair in which he had sat and smoked so many hundreds of cigars.
And suddenly he seemed to see her sitting there in her grey dress,
fragrant, soft, dark-eyed, graceful, looking up at him. Why! She cared
nothing for him, really; all she cared for was that lost lover of hers.
But she was there, whether she would or no, giving him pleasure with her
beauty and grace. One had no right to inflict an old man's company, no
right to ask her down to play to him and let him look at her--for no
reward! Pleasure must be paid for in this world. 'How much?' After all,
there was plenty; his son and his three grandchildren would never miss
that little lump. He had made it himself, nearly every penny; he could
leave it where he liked, allow himself this little pleasure. He went
back to the bureau. 'Well, I'm going to,' he thought, 'let them think
what they like. I'm going to!' And he sat down.

'How much?' Ten thousand, twenty thousand--how much? If only with his
money he could buy one year, one month of youth. And startled by that
thought, he wrote quickly:

'DEAR HERRING,--Draw me a codicil to this effect: "I leave to my niece
Irene Forsyte, born Irene Heron, by which name she now goes, fifteen
thousand pounds free of legacy duty." 'Yours faithfully, 'JOLYON
FORSYTE.'

When he had sealed and stamped the envelope, he went back to the window
and drew in a long breath. It was dark, but many stars shone now.




IV

He woke at half-past two, an hour which long experience had taught him
brings panic intensity to all awkward thoughts. Experience had also
taught him that a further waking at the proper hour of eight showed
the folly of such panic. On this particular morning the thought which
gathered rapid momentum was that if he became ill, at his age not
improbable, he would not see her. From this it was but a step to
realisation that he would be cut off, too, when his son and June
returned from Spain. How could he justify desire for the company of one
who had stolen--early morning does not mince words--June's lover? That
lover was dead; but June was a stubborn little thing; warm-hearted, but
stubborn as wood, and--quite true--not one who forgot! By the middle of
next month they would be back. He had barely five weeks left to enjoy
the new interest which had come into what remained of his life. Darkness
showed up to him absurdly clear the nature of his feeling. Admiration
for beauty--a craving to see that which delighted his eyes.

Preposterous, at his age! And yet--what other reason was there for
asking June to undergo such painful reminder, and how prevent his son
and his son's wife from thinking him very queer? He would be reduced
to sneaking up to London, which tired him; and the least indisposition
would cut him off even from that. He lay with eyes open, setting his jaw
against the prospect, and calling himself an old fool, while his heart
beat loudly, and then seemed to stop beating altogether. He had seen the
dawn lighting the window chinks, heard the birds chirp and twitter, and
the cocks crow, before he fell asleep again, and awoke tired but sane.
Five weeks before he need bother, at his age an eternity! But that early
morning panic had left its mark, had slightly fevered the will of one
who had always had his own way. He would see her as often as he wished!
Why not go up to town and make that codicil at his solicitor's instead
of writing about it; she might like to go to the opera! But, by train,
for he would not have that fat chap Beacon grinning behind his back.
Servants were such fools; and, as likely as not, they had known all the
past history of Irene and young Bosinney--servants knew everything, and
suspected the rest. He wrote to her that morning:

"MY DEAR IRENE,--I have to be up in town to-morrow. If you would like to
have a look in at the opera, come and dine with me quietly ...."

But where? It was decades since he had dined anywhere in London save
at his Club or at a private house. Ah! that new-fangled place close to
Covent Garden....


"Let me have a line to-morrow morning to the Piedmont Hotel whether to
expect you there at 7 o'clock.

"Yours affectionately,

"JOLYON FORSYTE."


She would understand that he just wanted to give her a little pleasure;
for the idea that she should guess he had this itch to see her was
instinctively unpleasant to him; it was not seemly that one so old
should go out of his way to see beauty, especially in a woman.

The journey next day, short though it was, and the visit to his
lawyer's, tired him. It was hot too, and after dressing for dinner he
lay down on the sofa in his bedroom to rest a little. He must have had
a sort of fainting fit, for he came to himself feeling very queer; and
with some difficulty rose and rang the bell. Why! it was past seven! And
there he was and she would be waiting. But suddenly the dizziness came
on again, and he was obliged to relapse on the sofa. He heard the maid's
voice say:

"Did you ring, sir?"

"Yes, come here"; he could not see her clearly, for the cloud in front
of his eyes. "I'm not well, I want some sal volatile."

"Yes, sir." Her voice sounded frightened.

Old Jolyon made an effort.

"Don't go. Take this message to my niece--a lady waiting in the hall--a
lady in grey. Say Mr. Forsyte is not well--the heat. He is very sorry;
if he is not down directly, she is not to wait dinner."

When she was gone, he thought feebly: 'Why did I say a lady in grey--she
may be in anything. Sal volatile!' He did not go off again, yet was not
conscious of how Irene came to be standing beside him, holding smelling
salts to his nose, and pushing a pillow up behind his head. He heard her
say anxiously: "Dear Uncle Jolyon, what is it?" was dimly conscious of
the soft pressure of her lips on his hand; then drew a long breath of
smelling salts, suddenly discovered strength in them, and sneezed.

"Ha!" he said, "it's nothing. How did you get here? Go down and
dine--the tickets are on the dressing-table. I shall be all right in a
minute."

He felt her cool hand on his forehead, smelled violets, and sat divided
between a sort of pleasure and a determination to be all right.

"Why! You are in grey!" he said. "Help me up." Once on his feet he gave
himself a shake.

"What business had I to go off like that!" And he moved very slowly to
the glass. What a cadaverous chap! Her voice, behind him, murmured:

"You mustn't come down, Uncle; you must rest."

"Fiddlesticks! A glass of champagne'll soon set me to rights. I can't
have you missing the opera."

But the journey down the corridor was troublesome. What carpets they
had in these newfangled places, so thick that you tripped up in them at
every step! In the lift he noticed how concerned she looked, and said
with the ghost of a twinkle:

"I'm a pretty host."

When the lift stopped he had to hold firmly to the seat to prevent its
slipping under him; but after soup and a glass of champagne he felt
much better, and began to enjoy an infirmity which had brought such
solicitude into her manner towards him.

"I should have liked you for a daughter," he said suddenly; and watching
the smile in her eyes, went on:

"You mustn't get wrapped up in the past at your time of life; plenty of
that when you get to my age. That's a nice dress--I like the style."

"I made it myself."

Ah! A woman who could make herself a pretty frock had not lost her
interest in life.

"Make hay while the sun shines," he said; "and drink that up. I want to
see some colour in your cheeks. We mustn't waste life; it doesn't do.
There's a new Marguerite to-night; let's hope she won't be fat. And
Mephisto--anything more dreadful than a fat chap playing the Devil I
can't imagine."

But they did not go to the opera after all, for in getting up from
dinner the dizziness came over him again, and she insisted on his
staying quiet and going to bed early. When he parted from her at the
door of the hotel, having paid the cabman to drive her to Chelsea, he
sat down again for a moment to enjoy the memory of her words: "You are
such a darling to me, Uncle Jolyon!" Why! Who wouldn't be! He would
have liked to stay up another day and take her to the Zoo, but two
days running of him would bore her to death. No, he must wait till next
Sunday; she had promised to come then. They would settle those lessons
for Holly, if only for a month. It would be something. That little
Mam'zelle Beauce wouldn't like it, but she would have to lump it. And
crushing his old opera hat against his chest he sought the lift.

He drove to Waterloo next morning, struggling with a desire to say:
'Drive me to Chelsea.' But his sense of proportion was too strong.
Besides, he still felt shaky, and did not want to risk another
aberration like that of last night, away from home. Holly, too, was
expecting him, and what he had in his bag for her. Not that there was
any cupboard love in his little sweet--she was a bundle of affection.
Then, with the rather bitter cynicism of the old, he wondered for a
second whether it was not cupboard love which made Irene put up with
him. No, she was not that sort either. She had, if anything, too little
notion of how to butter her bread, no sense of property, poor thing!
Besides, he had not breathed a word about that codicil, nor should
he--sufficient unto the day was the good thereof.

In the victoria which met him at the station Holly was restraining the
dog Balthasar, and their caresses made 'jubey' his drive home. All
the rest of that fine hot day and most of the next he was content and
peaceful, reposing in the shade, while the long lingering sunshine
showered gold on the lawns and the flowers. But on Thursday evening at
his lonely dinner he began to count the hours; sixty-five till he would
go down to meet her again in the little coppice, and walk up through
the fields at her side. He had intended to consult the doctor about
his fainting fit, but the fellow would be sure to insist on quiet, no
excitement and all that; and he did not mean to be tied by the leg, did
not want to be told of an infirmity--if there were one, could not afford
to hear of it at his time of life, now that this new interest had come.
And he carefully avoided making any mention of it in a letter to his
son. It would only bring them back with a run! How far this silence was
due to consideration for their pleasure, how far to regard for his own,
he did not pause to consider.

That night in his study he had just finished his cigar and was dozing
off, when he heard the rustle of a gown, and was conscious of a scent of
violets. Opening his eyes he saw her, dressed in grey, standing by the
fireplace, holding out her arms. The odd thing was that, though those
arms seemed to hold nothing, they were curved as if round someone's
neck, and her own neck was bent back, her lips open, her eyes closed.
She vanished at once, and there were the mantelpiece and his bronzes.
But those bronzes and the mantelpiece had not been there when she was,
only the fireplace and the wall! Shaken and troubled, he got up. 'I must
take medicine,' he thought; 'I can't be well.' His heart beat too fast,
he had an asthmatic feeling in the chest; and going to the window, he
opened it to get some air. A dog was barking far away, one of the dogs
at Gage's farm no doubt, beyond the coppice. A beautiful still night,
but dark. 'I dropped off,' he mused, 'that's it! And yet I'll swear my
eyes were open!' A sound like a sigh seemed to answer.

"What's that?" he said sharply, "who's there?"

Putting his hand to his side to still the beating of his heart, he
stepped out on the terrace. Something soft scurried by in the dark.
"Shoo!" It was that great grey cat. 'Young Bosinney was like a great
cat!' he thought. 'It was him in there, that she--that she was--He's got
her still!' He walked to the edge of the terrace, and looked down into
the darkness; he could just see the powdering of the daisies on the
unmown lawn. Here to-day and gone to-morrow! And there came the moon,
who saw all, young and old, alive and dead, and didn't care a dump! His
own turn soon. For a single day of youth he would give what was left!
And he turned again towards the house. He could see the windows of the
night nursery up there. His little sweet would be asleep. 'Hope that
dog won't wake her!' he thought. 'What is it makes us love, and makes us
die! I must go to bed.'

And across the terrace stones, growing grey in the moonlight, he passed
back within.

How should an old man live his days if not in dreaming of his well-spent
past? In that, at all events, there is no agitating warmth, only pale
winter sunshine. The shell can withstand the gentle beating of the
dynamos of memory. The present he should distrust; the future shun. From
beneath thick shade he should watch the sunlight creeping at his toes.
If there be sun of summer, let him not go out into it, mistaking it
for the Indian-summer sun! Thus peradventure he shall decline softly,
slowly, imperceptibly, until impatient Nature clutches his wind-pipe and
he gasps away to death some early morning before the world is aired,
and they put on his tombstone: 'In the fulness of years!' yea! If he
preserve his principles in perfect order, a Forsyte may live on long
after he is dead.

Old Jolyon was conscious of all this, and yet there was in him that
which transcended Forsyteism. For it is written that a Forsyte shall not
love beauty more than reason; nor his own way more than his own health.
And something beat within him in these days that with each throb fretted
at the thinning shell. His sagacity knew this, but it knew too that he
could not stop that beating, nor would if he could. And yet, if you had
told him he was living on his capital, he would have stared you
down. No, no; a man did not live on his capital; it was not done! The
shibboleths of the past are ever more real than the actualities of
the present. And he, to whom living on one's capital had always been
anathema, could not have borne to have applied so gross a phrase to his
own case. Pleasure is healthful; beauty good to see; to live again in
the youth of the young--and what else on earth was he doing!

Methodically, as had been the way of his whole life, he now arranged his
time. On Tuesdays he journeyed up to town by train; Irene came and dined
with him. And they went to the opera. On Thursdays he drove to town,
and, putting that fat chap and his horses up, met her in Kensington
Gardens, picking up the carriage after he had left her, and driving home
again in time for dinner. He threw out the casual formula that he had
business in London on those two days. On Wednesdays and Saturdays she
came down to give Holly music lessons. The greater the pleasure he
took in her society, the more scrupulously fastidious he became, just a
matter-of-fact and friendly uncle. Not even in feeling, really, was he
more--for, after all, there was his age. And yet, if she were late he
fidgeted himself to death. If she missed coming, which happened twice,
his eyes grew sad as an old dog's, and he failed to sleep.

And so a month went by--a month of summer in the fields, and in his
heart, with summer's heat and the fatigue thereof. Who could have
believed a few weeks back that he would have looked forward to his son's
and his grand-daughter's return with something like dread! There was
such a delicious freedom, such recovery of that independence a man
enjoys before he founds a family, about these weeks of lovely weather,
and this new companionship with one who demanded nothing, and remained
always a little unknown, retaining the fascination of mystery. It was
like a draught of wine to him who has been drinking water for so long
that he has almost forgotten the stir wine brings to his blood, the
narcotic to his brain. The flowers were coloured brighter, scents and
music and the sunlight had a living value--were no longer mere reminders
of past enjoyment. There was something now to live for which stirred him
continually to anticipation. He lived in that, not in retrospection;
the difference is considerable to any so old as he. The pleasures of the
table, never of much consequence to one naturally abstemious, had lost
all value. He ate little, without knowing what he ate; and every day
grew thinner and more worn to look at. He was again a 'threadpaper'; and
to this thinned form his massive forehead, with hollows at the temples,
gave more dignity than ever. He was very well aware that he ought to see
the doctor, but liberty was too sweet. He could not afford to pet his
frequent shortness of breath and the pain in his side at the expense
of liberty. Return to the vegetable existence he had led among the
agricultural journals with the life-size mangold wurzels, before this
new attraction came into his life--no! He exceeded his allowance of
cigars. Two a day had always been his rule. Now he smoked three and
sometimes four--a man will when he is filled with the creative spirit.
But very often he thought: 'I must give up smoking, and coffee; I must
give up rattling up to town.' But he did not; there was no one in any
sort of authority to notice him, and this was a priceless boon.

The servants perhaps wondered, but they were, naturally, dumb. Mam'zelle
Beauce was too concerned with her own digestion, and too 'wellbrrred'
to make personal allusions. Holly had not as yet an eye for the relative
appearance of him who was her plaything and her god. It was left for
Irene herself to beg him to eat more, to rest in the hot part of the
day, to take a tonic, and so forth. But she did not tell him that she
was the a cause of his thinness--for one cannot see the havoc oneself
is working. A man of eighty-five has no passions, but the Beauty which
produces passion works on in the old way, till death closes the eyes
which crave the sight of Her.

On the first day of the second week in July he received a letter from
his son in Paris to say that they would all be back on Friday. This had
always been more sure than Fate; but, with the pathetic improvidence
given to the old, that they may endure to the end, he had never quite
admitted it. Now he did, and something would have to be done. He had
ceased to be able to imagine life without this new interest, but that
which is not imagined sometimes exists, as Forsytes are perpetually
finding to their cost. He sat in his old leather chair, doubling up the
letter, and mumbling with his lips the end of an unlighted cigar. After
to-morrow his Tuesday expeditions to town would have to be abandoned. He
could still drive up, perhaps, once a week, on the pretext of seeing his
man of business. But even that would be dependent on his health, for now
they would begin to fuss about him. The lessons! The lessons must go on!
She must swallow down her scruples, and June must put her feelings
in her pocket. She had done so once, on the day after the news of
Bosinney's death; what she had done then, she could surely do again now.
Four years since that injury was inflicted on her--not Christian to
keep the memory of old sores alive. June's will was strong, but his was
stronger, for his sands were running out. Irene was soft, surely she
would do this for him, subdue her natural shrinking, sooner than give
him pain! The lessons must continue; for if they did, he was secure. And
lighting his cigar at last, he began trying to shape out how to put it
to them all, and explain this strange intimacy; how to veil and wrap it
away from the naked truth--that he could not bear to be deprived of
the sight of beauty. Ah! Holly! Holly was fond of her, Holly liked
her lessons. She would save him--his little sweet! And with that happy
thought he became serene, and wondered what he had been worrying about
so fearfully. He must not worry, it left him always curiously weak, and
as if but half present in his own body.

That evening after dinner he had a return of the dizziness, though he
did not faint. He would not ring the bell, because he knew it would mean
a fuss, and make his going up on the morrow more conspicuous. When one
grew old, the whole world was in conspiracy to limit freedom, and for
what reason?--just to keep the breath in him a little longer. He did
not want it at such cost. Only the dog Balthasar saw his lonely recovery
from that weakness; anxiously watched his master go to the sideboard
and drink some brandy, instead of giving him a biscuit. When at last
old Jolyon felt able to tackle the stairs he went up to bed. And, though
still shaky next morning, the thought of the evening sustained and
strengthened him. It was always such a pleasure to give her a good
dinner--he suspected her of undereating when she was alone; and, at the
opera to watch her eyes glow and brighten, the unconscious smiling of
her lips. She hadn't much pleasure, and this was the last time he would
be able to give her that treat. But when he was packing his bag he
caught himself wishing that he had not the fatigue of dressing for
dinner before him, and the exertion, too, of telling her about June's
return.

The opera that evening was 'Carmen,' and he chose the last entr'acte to
break the news, instinctively putting it off till the latest moment.

She took it quietly, queerly; in fact, he did not know how she had
taken it before the wayward music lifted up again and silence became
necessary. The mask was down over her face, that mask behind which so
much went on that he could not see. She wanted time to think it over,
no doubt! He would not press her, for she would be coming to give her
lesson to-morrow afternoon, and he should see her then when she had got
used to the idea. In the cab he talked only of the Carmen; he had seen
better in the old days, but this one was not bad at all. When he took
her hand to say good-night, she bent quickly forward and kissed his
forehead.

"Good-bye, dear Uncle Jolyon, you have been so sweet to me."

"To-morrow then," he said. "Good-night. Sleep well." She echoed softly:
"Sleep well" and from the cab window, already moving away, he saw her
face screwed round towards him, and her hand put out in a gesture which
seemed to linger.

He sought his room slowly. They never gave him the same, and he could
not get used to these 'spick-and-spandy' bedrooms with new furniture and
grey-green carpets sprinkled all over with pink roses. He was wakeful
and that wretched Habanera kept throbbing in his head.

His French had never been equal to its words, but its sense he knew, if
it had any sense, a gipsy thing--wild and unaccountable. Well, there was
in life something which upset all your care and plans--something which
made men and women dance to its pipes. And he lay staring from deep-sunk
eyes into the darkness where the unaccountable held sway. You thought
you had hold of life, but it slipped away behind you, took you by the
scruff of the neck, forced you here and forced you there, and then,
likely as not, squeezed life out of you! It took the very stars like
that, he shouldn't wonder, rubbed their noses together and flung them
apart; it had never done playing its pranks. Five million people in
this great blunderbuss of a town, and all of them at the mercy of that
Life-Force, like a lot of little dried peas hopping about on a board
when you struck your fist on it. Ah, well! Himself would not hop much
longer--a good long sleep would do him good!

How hot it was up here!--how noisy! His forehead burned; she had kissed
it just where he always worried; just there--as if she had known the
very place and wanted to kiss it all away for him. But, instead, her
lips left a patch of grievous uneasiness. She had never spoken in quite
that voice, had never before made that lingering gesture or looked back
at him as she drove away.

He got out of bed and pulled the curtains aside; his room faced down
over the river. There was little air, but the sight of that breadth
of water flowing by, calm, eternal, soothed him. 'The great thing,'
he thought 'is not to make myself a nuisance. I'll think of my little
sweet, and go to sleep.' But it was long before the heat and throbbing
of the London night died out into the short slumber of the summer
morning. And old Jolyon had but forty winks.

When he reached home next day he went out to the flower garden, and with
the help of Holly, who was very delicate with flowers, gathered a great
bunch of carnations. They were, he told her, for 'the lady in grey'--a
name still bandied between them; and he put them in a bowl in his study
where he meant to tackle Irene the moment she came, on the subject of
June and future lessons. Their fragrance and colour would help. After
lunch he lay down, for he felt very tired, and the carriage would not
bring her from the station till four o'clock. But as the hour approached
he grew restless, and sought the schoolroom, which overlooked the drive.
The sun-blinds were down, and Holly was there with Mademoiselle Beauce,
sheltered from the heat of a stifling July day, attending to their
silkworms. Old Jolyon had a natural antipathy to these methodical
creatures, whose heads and colour reminded him of elephants; who nibbled
such quantities of holes in nice green leaves; and smelled, as he
thought, horrid. He sat down on a chintz-covered windowseat whence he
could see the drive, and get what air there was; and the dog Balthasar
who appreciated chintz on hot days, jumped up beside him. Over the
cottage piano a violet dust-sheet, faded almost to grey, was spread, and
on it the first lavender, whose scent filled the room. In spite of
the coolness here, perhaps because of that coolness the beat of life
vehemently impressed his ebbed-down senses. Each sunbeam which came
through the chinks had annoying brilliance; that dog smelled very
strong; the lavender perfume was overpowering; those silkworms heaving
up their grey-green backs seemed horribly alive; and Holly's dark head
bent over them had a wonderfully silky sheen. A marvellous cruelly
strong thing was life when you were old and weak; it seemed to mock you
with its multitude of forms and its beating vitality. He had never, till
those last few weeks, had this curious feeling of being with one half of
him eagerly borne along in the stream of life, and with the other half
left on the bank, watching that helpless progress. Only when Irene was
with him did he lose this double consciousness.

Holly turned her head, pointed with her little brown fist to the
piano--for to point with a finger was not 'well-brrred'--and said slyly:

"Look at the 'lady in grey,' Gran; isn't she pretty to-day?"

Old Jolyon's heart gave a flutter, and for a second the room was
clouded; then it cleared, and he said with a twinkle:

"Who's been dressing her up?"

"Mam'zelle."

"Hollee! Don't be foolish!"

That prim little Frenchwoman! She hadn't yet got over the music lessons
being taken away from her. That wouldn't help. His little sweet was
the only friend they had. Well, they were her lessons. And he shouldn't
budge shouldn't budge for anything. He stroked the warm wool on
Balthasar's head, and heard Holly say: "When mother's home, there won't
be any changes, will there? She doesn't like strangers, you know."

The child's words seemed to bring the chilly atmosphere of opposition
about old Jolyon, and disclose all the menace to his new-found freedom.
Ah! He would have to resign himself to being an old man at the mercy of
care and love, or fight to keep this new and prized companionship;
and to fight tired him to death. But his thin, worn face hardened into
resolution till it appeared all Jaw. This was his house, and his affair;
he should not budge! He looked at his watch, old and thin like himself;
he had owned it fifty years. Past four already! And kissing the top of
Holly's head in passing, he went down to the hall. He wanted to get
hold of her before she went up to give her lesson. At the first sound of
wheels he stepped out into the porch, and saw at once that the victoria
was empty.

"The train's in, sir; but the lady 'asn't come."

Old Jolyon gave him a sharp upward look, his eyes seemed to push away
that fat chap's curiosity, and defy him to see the bitter disappointment
he was feeling.

"Very well," he said, and turned back into the house. He went to his
study and sat down, quivering like a leaf. What did this mean? She might
have lost her train, but he knew well enough she hadn't. 'Good-bye, dear
Uncle Jolyon.' Why 'Good-bye' and not 'Good-night'? And that hand of
hers lingering in the air. And her kiss. What did it mean? Vehement
alarm and irritation took possession of him. He got up and began to pace
the Turkey carpet, between window and wall. She was going to give him
up! He felt it for certain--and he defenceless. An old man wanting to
look on beauty! It was ridiculous! Age closed his mouth, paralysed his
power to fight. He had no right to what was warm and living, no right to
anything but memories and sorrow. He could not plead with her; even
an old man has his dignity. Defenceless! For an hour, lost to bodily
fatigue, he paced up and down, past the bowl of carnations he had
plucked, which mocked him with its scent. Of all things hard to bear,
the prostration of will-power is hardest, for one who has always had his
way. Nature had got him in its net, and like an unhappy fish he turned
and swam at the meshes, here and there, found no hole, no breaking
point. They brought him tea at five o'clock, and a letter. For a moment
hope beat up in him. He cut the envelope with the butter knife, and
read:


"DEAREST UNCLE JOLYON,--I can't bear to write anything that may
disappoint you, but I was too cowardly to tell you last night. I feel I
can't come down and give Holly any more lessons, now that June is coming
back. Some things go too deep to be forgotten. It has been such a joy to
see you and Holly. Perhaps I shall still see you sometimes when you
come up, though I'm sure it's not good for you; I can see you are tiring
yourself too much. I believe you ought to rest quite quietly all this
hot weather, and now you have your son and June coming back you will be
so happy. Thank you a million times for all your sweetness to me.

"Lovingly your IRENE."


So, there it was! Not good for him to have pleasure and what he chiefly
cared about; to try and put off feeling the inevitable end of all
things, the approach of death with its stealthy, rustling footsteps.
Not good for him! Not even she could see how she was his new lease of
interest in life, the incarnation of all the beauty he felt slipping
from him.

His tea grew cold, his cigar remained unlit; and up and down he paced,
torn between his dignity and his hold on life. Intolerable to be
squeezed out slowly, without a say of your own, to live on when your
will was in the hands of others bent on weighing you to the ground with
care and love. Intolerable! He would see what telling her the truth
would do--the truth that he wanted the sight of her more than just a
lingering on. He sat down at his old bureau and took a pen. But he could
not write. There was something revolting in having to plead like this;
plead that she should warm his eyes with her beauty. It was tantamount
to confessing dotage. He simply could not. And instead, he wrote:


"I had hoped that the memory of old sores would not be allowed to
stand in the way of what is a pleasure and a profit to me and my little
grand-daughter. But old men learn to forego their whims; they are
obliged to, even the whim to live must be foregone sooner or later; and
perhaps the sooner the better.

"My love to you,

"JOLYON FORSYTE."


'Bitter,' he thought, 'but I can't help it. I'm tired.' He sealed and
dropped it into the box for the evening post, and hearing it fall to the
bottom, thought: 'There goes all I've looked forward to!'

That evening after dinner which he scarcely touched, after his cigar
which he left half-smoked for it made him feel faint, he went very
slowly upstairs and stole into the night-nursery. He sat down on the
window-seat. A night-light was burning, and he could just see Holly's
face, with one hand underneath the cheek. An early cockchafer buzzed in
the Japanese paper with which they had filled the grate, and one of the
horses in the stable stamped restlessly. To sleep like that child! He
pressed apart two rungs of the venetian blind and looked out. The moon
was rising, blood-red. He had never seen so red a moon. The woods and
fields out there were dropping to sleep too, in the last glimmer of the
summer light. And beauty, like a spirit, walked. 'I've had a long life,'
he thought, 'the best of nearly everything. I'm an ungrateful chap; I've
seen a lot of beauty in my time. Poor young Bosinney said I had a sense
of beauty. There's a man in the moon to-night!' A moth went by, another,
another. 'Ladies in grey!' He closed his eyes. A feeling that he would
never open them again beset him; he let it grow, let himself sink; then,
with a shiver, dragged the lids up. There was something wrong with him,
no doubt, deeply wrong; he would have to have the doctor after all.
It didn't much matter now! Into that coppice the moon-light would have
crept; there would be shadows, and those shadows would be the only
things awake. No birds, beasts, flowers, insects; Just the shadows
--moving; 'Ladies in grey!' Over that log they would climb; would
whisper together. She and Bosinney! Funny thought! And the frogs and
little things would whisper too! How the clock ticked, in here! It was
all eerie--out there in the light of that red moon; in here with
the little steady night-light and, the ticking clock and the nurse's
dressing-gown hanging from the edge of the screen, tall, like a woman's
figure. 'Lady in grey!' And a very odd thought beset him: Did she exist?
Had she ever come at all? Or was she but the emanation of all the beauty
he had loved and must leave so soon? The violet-grey spirit with the
dark eyes and the crown of amber hair, who walks the dawn and the
moonlight, and at blue-bell time? What was she, who was she, did she
exist? He rose and stood a moment clutching the window-sill, to give
him a sense of reality again; then began tiptoeing towards the door. He
stopped at the foot of the bed; and Holly, as if conscious of his eyes
fixed on her, stirred, sighed, and curled up closer in defence. He
tiptoed on and passed out into the dark passage; reached his room,
undressed at once, and stood before a mirror in his night-shirt. What a
scarecrow--with temples fallen in, and thin legs! His eyes resisted his
own image, and a look of pride came on his face. All was in league
to pull him down, even his reflection in the glass, but he was not
down--yet! He got into bed, and lay a long time without sleeping,
trying to reach resignation, only too well aware that fretting and
disappointment were very bad for him.

He woke in the morning so unrefreshed and strengthless that he sent for
the doctor. After sounding him, the fellow pulled a face as long as your
arm, and ordered him to stay in bed and give up smoking. That was no
hardship; there was nothing to get up for, and when he felt ill,
tobacco always lost its savour. He spent the morning languidly with the
sun-blinds down, turning and re-turning The Times, not reading much, the
dog Balthasar lying beside his bed. With his lunch they brought him a
telegram, running thus:

'Your letter received coming down this afternoon will be with you at
four-thirty. Irene.'

Coming down! After all! Then she did exist--and he was not deserted.
Coming down! A glow ran through his limbs; his cheeks and forehead felt
hot. He drank his soup, and pushed the tray-table away, lying very quiet
until they had removed lunch and left him alone; but every now and then
his eyes twinkled. Coming down! His heart beat fast, and then did
not seem to beat at all. At three o'clock he got up and dressed
deliberately, noiselessly. Holly and Mam'zelle would be in the
schoolroom, and the servants asleep after their dinner, he shouldn't
wonder. He opened his door cautiously, and went downstairs. In the hall
the dog Balthasar lay solitary, and, followed by him, old Jolyon passed
into his study and out into the burning afternoon. He meant to go down
and meet her in the coppice, but felt at once he could not manage that
in this heat. He sat down instead under the oak tree by the swing, and
the dog Balthasar, who also felt the heat, lay down beside him. He sat
there smiling. What a revel of bright minutes! What a hum of insects,
and cooing of pigeons! It was the quintessence of a summer day. Lovely!
And he was happy--happy as a sand-boy, whatever that might be. She
was coming; she had not given him up! He had everything in life he
wanted--except a little more breath, and less weight--just here! He
would see her when she emerged from the fernery, come swaying just a
little, a violet-grey figure passing over the daisies and dandelions and
'soldiers' on the lawn--the soldiers with their flowery crowns. He would
not move, but she would come up to him and say: 'Dear Uncle Jolyon, I am
sorry!' and sit in the swing and let him look at her and tell her that
he had not been very well but was all right now; and that dog would lick
her hand. That dog knew his master was fond of her; that dog was a good
dog.

It was quite shady under the tree; the sun could not get at him, only
make the rest of the world bright so that he could see the Grand Stand
at Epsom away out there, very far, and the cows cropping the clover in
the field and swishing at the flies with their tails. He smelled the
scent of limes, and lavender. Ah! that was why there was such a racket
of bees. They were excited--busy, as his heart was busy and excited.
Drowsy, too, drowsy and drugged on honey and happiness; as his heart was
drugged and drowsy. Summer--summer--they seemed saying; great bees and
little bees, and the flies too!

The stable clock struck four; in half an hour she would be here. He
would have just one tiny nap, because he had had so little sleep of
late; and then he would be fresh for her, fresh for youth and beauty,
coming towards him across the sunlit lawn--lady in grey! And settling
back in his chair he closed his eyes. Some thistle-down came on what
little air there was, and pitched on his moustache more white than
itself. He did not know; but his breathing stirred it, caught there.
A ray of sunlight struck through and lodged on his boot. A bumble-bee
alighted and strolled on the crown of his Panama hat. And the delicious
surge of slumber reached the brain beneath that hat, and the head swayed
forward and rested on his breast. Summer--summer! So went the hum.

The stable clock struck the quarter past. The dog Balthasar stretched
and looked up at his master. The thistledown no longer moved. The dog
placed his chin over the sunlit foot. It did not stir. The dog withdrew
his chin quickly, rose, and leaped on old Jolyon's lap, looked in his
face, whined; then, leaping down, sat on his haunches, gazing up. And
suddenly he uttered a long, long howl.

But the thistledown was still as death, and the face of his old master.

Summer--summer--summer! The soundless footsteps on the grass! 1917





IN CHANCERY

     Two households both alike in dignity,
     From ancient grudge, break into new mutiny.
     --Romeo and Juliet


TO JESSIE AND JOSEPH CONRAD




PART 1




CHAPTER I--AT TIMOTHY'S

The possessive instinct never stands still. Through florescence and
feud, frosts and fires, it followed the laws of progression even in
the Forsyte family which had believed it fixed for ever. Nor can it be
dissociated from environment any more than the quality of potato from
the soil.

The historian of the English eighties and nineties will, in his good
time, depict the somewhat rapid progression from self-contented and
contained provincialism to still more self-contented if less contained
imperialism--in other words, the 'possessive' instinct of the nation on
the move. And so, as if in conformity, was it with the Forsyte family.
They were spreading not merely on the surface, but within.

When, in 1895, Susan Hayman, the married Forsyte sister, followed her
husband at the ludicrously low age of seventy-four, and was cremated,
it made strangely little stir among the six old Forsytes left. For this
apathy there were three causes. First: the almost surreptitious burial
of old Jolyon in 1892 down at Robin Hill--first of the Forsytes to
desert the family grave at Highgate. That burial, coming a year after
Swithin's entirely proper funeral, had occasioned a great deal of talk
on Forsyte 'Change, the abode of Timothy Forsyte on the Bayswater Road,
London, which still collected and radiated family gossip. Opinions
ranged from the lamentation of Aunt Juley to the outspoken assertion of
Francie that it was 'a jolly good thing to stop all that stuffy Highgate
business.' Uncle Jolyon in his later years--indeed, ever since the
strange and lamentable affair between his granddaughter June's lover,
young Bosinney, and Irene, his nephew Soames Forsyte's wife--had
noticeably rapped the family's knuckles; and that way of his own which
he had always taken had begun to seem to them a little wayward. The
philosophic vein in him, of course, had always been too liable to crop
out of the strata of pure Forsyteism, so they were in a way prepared
for his interment in a strange spot. But the whole thing was an odd
business, and when the contents of his Will became current coin on
Forsyte 'Change, a shiver had gone round the clan. Out of his estate
(L145,304 gross, with liabilities L35 7s. 4d.) he had actually left
L15,000 to "whomever do you think, my dear? To Irene!" that runaway
wife of his nephew Soames; Irene, a woman who had almost disgraced the
family, and--still more amazing was to him no blood relation. Not out
and out, of course; only a life interest--only the income from it!
Still, there it was; and old Jolyon's claim to be the perfect Forsyte
was ended once for all. That, then, was the first reason why the burial
of Susan Hayman--at Woking--made little stir.

The second reason was altogether more expansive and imperial. Besides
the house on Campden Hill, Susan had a place (left her by Hayman when he
died) just over the border in Hants, where the Hayman boys had learned
to be such good shots and riders, as it was believed, which was of
course nice for them, and creditable to everybody; and the fact of
owning something really countrified seemed somehow to excuse the
dispersion of her remains--though what could have put cremation into
her head they could not think! The usual invitations, however, had been
issued, and Soames had gone down and young Nicholas, and the Will had
been quite satisfactory so far as it went, for she had only had a life
interest; and everything had gone quite smoothly to the children in
equal shares.

The third reason why Susan's burial made little stir was the most
expansive of all. It was summed up daringly by Euphemia, the pale, the
thin: "Well, I think people have a right to their own bodies, even when
they're dead." Coming from a daughter of Nicholas, a Liberal of the
old school and most tyrannical, it was a startling remark--showing in a
flash what a lot of water had run under bridges since the death of Aunt
Ann in '86, just when the proprietorship of Soames over his wife's body
was acquiring the uncertainty which had led to such disaster. Euphemia,
of course, spoke like a child, and had no experience; for though
well over thirty by now, her name was still Forsyte. But, making all
allowances, her remark did undoubtedly show expansion of the principle
of liberty, decentralisation and shift in the central point of
possession from others to oneself. When Nicholas heard his daughter's
remark from Aunt Hester he had rapped out: "Wives and daughters! There's
no end to their liberty in these days. I knew that 'Jackson' case would
lead to things--lugging in Habeas Corpus like that!" He had, of course,
never really forgiven the Married Woman's Property Act, which would so
have interfered with him if he had not mercifully married before it was
passed. But, in truth, there was no denying the revolt among the younger
Forsytes against being owned by others; that, as it were, Colonial
disposition to own oneself, which is the paradoxical forerunner of
Imperialism, was making progress all the time. They were all now
married, except George, confirmed to the Turf and the Iseeum Club;
Francie, pursuing her musical career in a studio off the King's Road,
Chelsea, and still taking 'lovers' to dances; Euphemia, living at home
and complaining of Nicholas; and those two Dromios, Giles and Jesse
Hayman. Of the third generation there were not very many--young Jolyon
had three, Winifred Dartie four, young Nicholas six already, young Roger
had one, Marian Tweetyman one; St. John Hayman two. But the rest of the
sixteen married--Soames, Rachel and Cicely of James' family; Eustace and
Thomas of Roger's; Ernest, Archibald and Florence of Nicholas';
Augustus and Annabel Spender of the Hayman's--were going down the years
unreproduced.

Thus, of the ten old Forsytes twenty-one young Forsytes had been born;
but of the twenty-one young Forsytes there were as yet only seventeen
descendants; and it already seemed unlikely that there would be more
than a further unconsidered trifle or so. A student of statistics must
have noticed that the birth rate had varied in accordance with the rate
of interest for your money. Grandfather 'Superior Dosset' Forsyte in the
early nineteenth century had been getting ten per cent. for his, hence
ten children. Those ten, leaving out the four who had not married, and
Juley, whose husband Septimus Small had, of course, died almost at
once, had averaged from four to five per cent. for theirs, and produced
accordingly. The twenty-one whom they produced were now getting barely
three per cent. in the Consols to which their father had mostly tied the
Settlements they made to avoid death duties, and the six of them who
had been reproduced had seventeen children, or just the proper two and
five-sixths per stem.

There were other reasons, too, for this mild reproduction. A distrust
of their earning powers, natural where a sufficiency is guaranteed,
together with the knowledge that their fathers did not die, kept them
cautious. If one had children and not much income, the standard of taste
and comfort must of necessity go down; what was enough for two was not
enough for four, and so on--it would be better to wait and see what
Father did. Besides, it was nice to be able to take holidays unhampered.
Sooner in fact than own children, they preferred to concentrate on
the ownership of themselves, conforming to the growing tendency fin
de siecle, as it was called. In this way, little risk was run, and one
would be able to have a motor-car. Indeed, Eustace already had one, but
it had shaken him horribly, and broken one of his eye teeth; so that it
would be better to wait till they were a little safer. In the meantime,
no more children! Even young Nicholas was drawing in his horns, and had
made no addition to his six for quite three years.

The corporate decay, however, of the Forsytes, their dispersion rather,
of which all this was symptomatic, had not advanced so far as to prevent
a rally when Roger Forsyte died in 1899. It had been a glorious summer,
and after holidays abroad and at the sea they were practically all back
in London, when Roger with a touch of his old originality had suddenly
breathed his last at his own house in Princes Gardens. At Timothy's it
was whispered sadly that poor Roger had always been eccentric about his
digestion--had he not, for instance, preferred German mutton to all the
other brands?

Be that as it may, his funeral at Highgate had been perfect, and coming
away from it Soames Forsyte made almost mechanically for his Uncle
Timothy's in the Bayswater Road. The 'Old Things'--Aunt Juley and Aunt
Hester--would like to hear about it. His father--James--at eighty-eight
had not felt up to the fatigue of the funeral; and Timothy himself,
of course, had not gone; so that Nicholas had been the only brother
present. Still, there had been a fair gathering; and it would cheer
Aunts Juley and Hester up to know. The kindly thought was not unmixed
with the inevitable longing to get something out of everything you do,
which is the chief characteristic of Forsytes, and indeed of the saner
elements in every nation. In this practice of taking family matters
to Timothy's in the Bayswater Road, Soames was but following in the
footsteps of his father, who had been in the habit of going at least
once a week to see his sisters at Timothy's, and had only given it
up when he lost his nerve at eighty-six, and could not go out without
Emily. To go with Emily was of no use, for who could really talk to
anyone in the presence of his own wife? Like James in the old days,
Soames found time to go there nearly every Sunday, and sit in the little
drawing-room into which, with his undoubted taste, he had introduced a
good deal of change and china not quite up to his own fastidious mark,
and at least two rather doubtful Barbizon pictures, at Christmastides.
He himself, who had done extremely well with the Barbizons, had for some
years past moved towards the Marises, Israels, and Mauve, and was
hoping to do better. In the riverside house which he now inhabited near
Mapledurham he had a gallery, beautifully hung and lighted, to which
few London dealers were strangers. It served, too, as a Sunday afternoon
attraction in those week-end parties which his sisters, Winifred or
Rachel, occasionally organised for him. For though he was but a taciturn
showman, his quiet collected determinism seldom failed to influence his
guests, who knew that his reputation was grounded not on mere aesthetic
fancy, but on his power of gauging the future of market values. When he
went to Timothy's he almost always had some little tale of triumph over
a dealer to unfold, and dearly he loved that coo of pride with which
his aunts would greet it. This afternoon, however, he was differently
animated, coming from Roger's funeral in his neat dark clothes--not
quite black, for after all an uncle was but an uncle, and his soul
abhorred excessive display of feeling. Leaning back in a marqueterie
chair and gazing down his uplifted nose at the sky-blue walls plastered
with gold frames, he was noticeably silent. Whether because he had been
to a funeral or not, the peculiar Forsyte build of his face was seen to
the best advantage this afternoon--a face concave and long, with a jaw
which divested of flesh would have seemed extravagant: altogether a
chinny face though not at all ill-looking. He was feeling more strongly
than ever that Timothy's was hopelessly 'rum-ti-too' and the souls of
his aunts dismally mid-Victorian. The subject on which alone he wanted
to talk--his own undivorced position--was unspeakable. And yet it
occupied his mind to the exclusion of all else. It was only since the
Spring that this had been so and a new feeling grown up which was
egging him on towards what he knew might well be folly in a Forsyte
of forty-five. More and more of late he had been conscious that he was
'getting on.' The fortune already considerable when he conceived the
house at Robin Hill which had finally wrecked his marriage with Irene,
had mounted with surprising vigour in the twelve lonely years during
which he had devoted himself to little else. He was worth to-day well
over a hundred thousand pounds, and had no one to leave it to--no real
object for going on with what was his religion. Even if he were to relax
his efforts, money made money, and he felt that he would have a hundred
and fifty thousand before he knew where he was. There had always been
a strongly domestic, philoprogenitive side to Soames; baulked and
frustrated, it had hidden itself away, but now had crept out again
in this his 'prime of life.' Concreted and focussed of late by the
attraction of a girl's undoubted beauty, it had become a veritable
prepossession.

And this girl was French, not likely to lose her head, or accept any
unlegalised position. Moreover, Soames himself disliked the thought of
that. He had tasted of the sordid side of sex during those long years
of forced celibacy, secretively, and always with disgust, for he was
fastidious, and his sense of law and order innate. He wanted no hole
and corner liaison. A marriage at the Embassy in Paris, a few months'
travel, and he could bring Annette back quite separated from a past
which in truth was not too distinguished, for she only kept the accounts
in her mother's Soho Restaurant; he could bring her back as something
very new and chic with her French taste and self-possession, to reign
at 'The Shelter' near Mapledurham. On Forsyte 'Change and among his
riverside friends it would be current that he had met a charming French
girl on his travels and married her. There would be the flavour of
romance, and a certain cachet about a French wife. No! He was not at
all afraid of that. It was only this cursed undivorced condition of his,
and--and the question whether Annette would take him, which he dared not
put to the touch until he had a clear and even dazzling future to offer
her.

In his aunts' drawing-room he heard with but muffled ears those usual
questions: How was his dear father? Not going out, of course, now that
the weather was turning chilly? Would Soames be sure to tell him that
Hester had found boiled holly leaves most comforting for that pain in
her side; a poultice every three hours, with red flannel afterwards. And
could he relish just a little pot of their very best prune preserve--it
was so delicious this year, and had such a wonderful effect. Oh! and
about the Darties--had Soames heard that dear Winifred was having a most
distressing time with Montague? Timothy thought she really ought to have
protection It was said--but Soames mustn't take this for certain--that
he had given some of Winifred's jewellery to a dreadful dancer. It was
such a bad example for dear Val just as he was going to college. Soames
had not heard? Oh, but he must go and see his sister and look into it at
once! And did he think these Boers were really going to resist? Timothy
was in quite a stew about it. The price of Consols was so high, and he
had such a lot of money in them. Did Soames think they must go down if
there was a war? Soames nodded. But it would be over very quickly. It
would be so bad for Timothy if it wasn't. And of course Soames' dear
father would feel it very much at his age. Luckily poor dear Roger
had been spared this dreadful anxiety. And Aunt Juley with a little
handkerchief wiped away the large tear trying to climb the permanent
pout on her now quite withered left cheek; she was remembering dear
Roger, and all his originality, and how he used to stick pins into
her when they were little together. Aunt Hester, with her instinct for
avoiding the unpleasant, here chimed in: Did Soames think they would
make Mr. Chamberlain Prime Minister at once? He would settle it all so
quickly. She would like to see that old Kruger sent to St. Helena. She
could remember so well the news of Napoleon's death, and what a relief
it had been to his grandfather. Of course she and Juley--"We were in
pantalettes then, my dear"--had not felt it much at the time.

Soames took a cup of tea from her, drank it quickly, and ate three
of those macaroons for which Timothy's was famous. His faint, pale,
supercilious smile had deepened just a little. Really, his family
remained hopelessly provincial, however much of London they might
possess between them. In these go-ahead days their provincialism stared
out even more than it used to. Why, old Nicholas was still a Free
Trader, and a member of that antediluvian home of Liberalism, the Remove
Club--though, to be sure, the members were pretty well all Conservatives
now, or he himself could not have joined; and Timothy, they said, still
wore a nightcap. Aunt Juley spoke again. Dear Soames was looking so
well, hardly a day older than he did when dear Ann died, and they were
all there together, dear Jolyon, and dear Swithin, and dear Roger.
She paused and caught the tear which had climbed the pout on her right
cheek. Did he--did he ever hear anything of Irene nowadays? Aunt
Hester visibly interposed her shoulder. Really, Juley was always saying
something! The smile left Soames' face, and he put his cup down. Here
was his subject broached for him, and for all his desire to expand, he
could not take advantage.

Aunt Juley went on rather hastily:

"They say dear Jolyon first left her that fifteen thousand out and out;
then of course he saw it would not be right, and made it for her life
only."

Had Soames heard that?

Soames nodded.

"Your cousin Jolyon is a widower now. He is her trustee; you knew that,
of course?"

Soames shook his head. He did know, but wished to show no interest.
Young Jolyon and he had not met since the day of Bosinney's death.

"He must be quite middle-aged by now," went on Aunt Juley dreamily. "Let
me see, he was born when your dear uncle lived in Mount Street; long
before they went to Stanhope Gate in December. Just before that dreadful
Commune. Over fifty! Fancy that! Such a pretty baby, and we were all so
proud of him; the very first of you all." Aunt Juley sighed, and a lock
of not quite her own hair came loose and straggled, so that Aunt Hester
gave a little shiver. Soames rose, he was experiencing a curious piece
of self-discovery. That old wound to his pride and self-esteem was not
yet closed. He had come thinking he could talk of it, even wanting to
talk of his fettered condition, and--behold! he was shrinking away from
this reminder by Aunt Juley, renowned for her Malapropisms.

Oh, Soames was not going already!

Soames smiled a little vindictively, and said:

"Yes. Good-bye. Remember me to Uncle Timothy!" And, leaving a cold kiss
on each forehead, whose wrinkles seemed to try and cling to his lips
as if longing to be kissed away, he left them looking brightly after
him--dear Soames, it had been so good of him to come to-day, when they
were not feeling very...!

With compunction tweaking at his chest Soames descended the stairs,
where was always that rather pleasant smell of camphor and port wine,
and house where draughts are not permitted. The poor old things--he
had not meant to be unkind! And in the street he instantly forgot them,
repossessed by the image of Annette and the thought of the cursed coil
around him. Why had he not pushed the thing through and obtained divorce
when that wretched Bosinney was run over, and there was evidence galore
for the asking! And he turned towards his sister Winifred Dartie's
residence in Green Street, Mayfair.




CHAPTER II--EXIT A MAN OF THE WORLD

That a man of the world so subject to the vicissitudes of fortunes
as Montague Dartie should still be living in a house he had inhabited
twenty years at least would have been more noticeable if the rent,
rates, taxes, and repairs of that house had not been defrayed by his
father-in-law. By that simple if wholesale device James Forsyte had
secured a certain stability in the lives of his daughter and his
grandchildren. After all, there is something invaluable about a safe
roof over the head of a sportsman so dashing as Dartie. Until the events
of the last few days he had been almost-supernaturally steady all this
year. The fact was he had acquired a half share in a filly of George
Forsyte's, who had gone irreparably on the turf, to the horror of Roger,
now stilled by the grave. Sleeve-links, by Martyr, out of Shirt-on-fire,
by Suspender, was a bay filly, three years old, who for a variety of
reasons had never shown her true form. With half ownership of this
hopeful animal, all the idealism latent somewhere in Dartie, as in every
other man, had put up its head, and kept him quietly ardent for months
past. When a man has some thing good to live for it is astonishing how
sober he becomes; and what Dartie had was really good--a three to one
chance for an autumn handicap, publicly assessed at twenty-five to one.
The old-fashioned heaven was a poor thing beside it, and his shirt
was on the daughter of Shirt-on-fire. But how much more than his shirt
depended on this granddaughter of Suspender! At that roving age of
forty-five, trying to Forsytes--and, though perhaps less distinguishable
from any other age, trying even to Darties--Montague had fixed his
current fancy on a dancer. It was no mean passion, but without money,
and a good deal of it, likely to remain a love as airy as her skirts;
and Dartie never had any money, subsisting miserably on what he could
beg or borrow from Winifred--a woman of character, who kept him because
he was the father of her children, and from a lingering admiration
for those now-dying Wardour Street good looks which in their youth
had fascinated her. She, together with anyone else who would lend him
anything, and his losses at cards and on the turf (extraordinary how
some men make a good thing out of losses!) were his whole means of
subsistence; for James was now too old and nervous to approach, and
Soames too formidably adamant. It is not too much to say that Dartie
had been living on hope for months. He had never been fond of money for
itself, had always despised the Forsytes with their investing habits,
though careful to make such use of them as he could. What he liked about
money was what it bought--personal sensation.

"No real sportsman cares for money," he would say, borrowing a 'pony' if
it was no use trying for a 'monkey.' There was something delicious about
Montague Dartie. He was, as George Forsyte said, a 'daisy.'

The morning of the Handicap dawned clear and bright, the last day of
September, and Dartie who had travelled to Newmarket the night before,
arrayed himself in spotless checks and walked to an eminence to see his
half of the filly take her final canter: If she won he would be a cool
three thou. in pocket--a poor enough recompense for the sobriety and
patience of these weeks of hope, while they had been nursing her for
this race. But he had not been able to afford more. Should he 'lay it
off' at the eight to one to which she had advanced? This was his single
thought while the larks sang above him, and the grassy downs smelled
sweet, and the pretty filly passed, tossing her head and glowing like
satin.

After all, if he lost it would not be he who paid, and to 'lay it off'
would reduce his winnings to some fifteen hundred--hardly enough to
purchase a dancer out and out. Even more potent was the itch in the
blood of all the Darties for a real flutter. And turning to George he
said: "She's a clipper. She'll win hands down; I shall go the whole
hog." George, who had laid off every penny, and a few besides, and stood
to win, however it came out, grinned down on him from his bulky
height, with the words: "So ho, my wild one!" for after a chequered
apprenticeship weathered with the money of a deeply complaining Roger,
his Forsyte blood was beginning to stand him in good stead in the
profession of owner.

There are moments of disillusionment in the lives of men from which the
sensitive recorder shrinks. Suffice it to say that the good thing fell
down. Sleeve-links finished in the ruck. Dartie's shirt was lost.

Between the passing of these things and the day when Soames turned his
face towards Green Street, what had not happened!

When a man with the constitution of Montague Dartie has exercised
self-control for months from religious motives, and remains unrewarded,
he does not curse God and die, he curses God and lives, to the distress
of his family.

Winifred--a plucky woman, if a little too fashionable--who had borne
the brunt of him for exactly twenty-one years, had never really believed
that he would do what he now did. Like so many wives, she thought she
knew the worst, but she had not yet known him in his forty-fifth year,
when he, like other men, felt that it was now or never. Paying on
the 2nd of October a visit of inspection to her jewel case, she was
horrified to observe that her woman's crown and glory was gone--the
pearls which Montague had given her in '86, when Benedict was born, and
which James had been compelled to pay for in the spring of '87, to save
scandal. She consulted her husband at once. He 'pooh-poohed' the matter.
They would turn up! Nor till she said sharply: "Very well, then, Monty,
I shall go down to Scotland Yard myself," did he consent to take the
matter in hand. Alas! that the steady and resolved continuity of design
necessary to the accomplishment of sweeping operations should be liable
to interruption by drink. That night Dartie returned home without a
care in the world or a particle of reticence. Under normal conditions
Winifred would merely have locked her door and let him sleep it off, but
torturing suspense about her pearls had caused her to wait up for him.
Taking a small revolver from his pocket and holding on to the dining
table, he told her at once that he did not care a cursh whether she
lived s'long as she was quiet; but he himself wash tired o' life.
Winifred, holding onto the other side of the dining table, answered:

"Don't be a clown, Monty. Have you been to Scotland Yard?"

Placing the revolver against his chest, Dartie had pulled the trigger
several times. It was not loaded. Dropping it with an imprecation,
he had muttered: "For shake o' the children," and sank into a chair.
Winifred, having picked up the revolver, gave him some soda water. The
liquor had a magical effect. Life had illused him; Winifred had never
'unshtood'm.' If he hadn't the right to take the pearls he had given
her himself, who had? That Spanish filly had got'm. If Winifred had
any 'jection he w'd cut--her--throat. What was the matter with that?
(Probably the first use of that celebrated phrase--so obscure are the
origins of even the most classical language!)

Winifred, who had learned self-containment in a hard school, looked up
at him, and said: "Spanish filly! Do you mean that girl we saw dancing
in the Pandemonium Ballet? Well, you are a thief and a blackguard." It
had been the last straw on a sorely loaded consciousness; reaching
up from his chair Dartie seized his wife's arm, and recalling the
achievements of his boyhood, twisted it. Winifred endured the agony with
tears in her eyes, but no murmur. Watching for a moment of weakness,
she wrenched it free; then placing the dining table between them,
said between her teeth: "You are the limit, Monty." (Undoubtedly the
inception of that phrase--so is English formed under the stress of
circumstances.) Leaving Dartie with foam on his dark moustache she went
upstairs, and, after locking her door and bathing her arm in hot
water, lay awake all night, thinking of her pearls adorning the neck of
another, and of the consideration her husband had presumably received
therefor.

The man of the world awoke with a sense of being lost to that world, and
a dim recollection of having been called a 'limit.' He sat for half
an hour in the dawn and the armchair where he had slept--perhaps the
unhappiest half-hour he had ever spent, for even to a Dartie there is
something tragic about an end. And he knew that he had reached it.
Never again would he sleep in his dining-room and wake with the light
filtering through those curtains bought by Winifred at Nickens and
Jarveys with the money of James. Never again eat a devilled kidney at
that rose-wood table, after a roll in the sheets and a hot bath. He took
his note case from his dress coat pocket. Four hundred pounds, in fives
and tens--the remainder of the proceeds of his half of Sleeve-links,
sold last night, cash down, to George Forsyte, who, having won over
the race, had not conceived the sudden dislike to the animal which he
himself now felt. The ballet was going to Buenos Aires the day after
to-morrow, and he was going too. Full value for the pearls had not yet
been received; he was only at the soup.

He stole upstairs. Not daring to have a bath, or shave (besides, the
water would be cold), he changed his clothes and packed stealthily
all he could. It was hard to leave so many shining boots, but one must
sacrifice something. Then, carrying a valise in either hand, he stepped
out onto the landing. The house was very quiet--that house where he had
begotten his four children. It was a curious moment, this, outside the
room of his wife, once admired, if not perhaps loved, who had called him
'the limit.' He steeled himself with that phrase, and tiptoed on; but
the next door was harder to pass. It was the room his daughters slept
in. Maud was at school, but Imogen would be lying there; and moisture
came into Dartie's early morning eyes. She was the most like him of the
four, with her dark hair, and her luscious brown glance. Just coming
out, a pretty thing! He set down the two valises. This almost formal
abdication of fatherhood hurt him. The morning light fell on a face
which worked with real emotion. Nothing so false as penitence moved him;
but genuine paternal feeling, and that melancholy of 'never again.' He
moistened his lips; and complete irresolution for a moment paralysed his
legs in their check trousers. It was hard--hard to be thus compelled to
leave his home! "D---nit!" he muttered, "I never thought it would come
to this." Noises above warned him that the maids were beginning to get
up. And grasping the two valises, he tiptoed on downstairs. His cheeks
were wet, and the knowledge of that was comforting, as though it
guaranteed the genuineness of his sacrifice. He lingered a little in the
rooms below, to pack all the cigars he had, some papers, a crush hat,
a silver cigarette box, a Ruff's Guide. Then, mixing himself a stiff
whisky and soda, and lighting a cigarette, he stood hesitating before a
photograph of his two girls, in a silver frame. It belonged to Winifred.
'Never mind,' he thought; 'she can get another taken, and I can't!' He
slipped it into the valise. Then, putting on his hat and overcoat, he
took two others, his best malacca cane, an umbrella, and opened the
front door. Closing it softly behind him, he walked out, burdened as
he had never been in all his life, and made his way round the corner to
wait there for an early cab to come by.

Thus had passed Montague Dartie in the forty-fifth year of his age from
the house which he had called his own.

When Winifred came down, and realised that he was not in the house,
her first feeling was one of dull anger that he should thus elude the
reproaches she had carefully prepared in those long wakeful hours. He
had gone off to Newmarket or Brighton, with that woman as likely as
not. Disgusting! Forced to a complete reticence before Imogen and the
servants, and aware that her father's nerves would never stand the
disclosure, she had been unable to refrain from going to Timothy's that
afternoon, and pouring out the story of the pearls to Aunts Juley and
Hester in utter confidence. It was only on the following morning that
she noticed the disappearance of that photograph. What did it mean?
Careful examination of her husband's relics prompted the thought that he
had gone for good. As that conclusion hardened she stood quite still in
the middle of his dressing-room, with all the drawers pulled out, to try
and realise what she was feeling. By no means easy! Though he was 'the
limit' he was yet her property, and for the life of her she could not
but feel the poorer. To be widowed yet not widowed at forty-two; with
four children; made conspicuous, an object of commiseration! Gone to the
arms of a Spanish Jade! Memories, feelings, which she had thought quite
dead, revived within her, painful, sullen, tenacious. Mechanically she
closed drawer after drawer, went to her bed, lay on it, and buried her
face in the pillows. She did not cry. What was the use of that? When she
got off her bed to go down to lunch she felt as if only one thing could
do her good, and that was to have Val home. He--her eldest boy--who
was to go to Oxford next month at James' expense, was at Littlehampton
taking his final gallops with his trainer for Smalls, as he would have
phrased it following his father's diction. She caused a telegram to be
sent to him.

"I must see about his clothes," she said to Imogen; "I can't have him
going up to Oxford all anyhow. Those boys are so particular."

"Val's got heaps of things," Imogen answered.

"I know; but they want overhauling. I hope he'll come."

"He'll come like a shot, Mother. But he'll probably skew his Exam."

"I can't help that," said Winifred. "I want him."

With an innocent shrewd look at her mother's face, Imogen kept silence.
It was father, of course! Val did come 'like a shot' at six o'clock.

Imagine a cross between a pickle and a Forsyte and you have young
Publius Valerius Dartie. A youth so named could hardly turn out
otherwise. When he was born, Winifred, in the heyday of spirits, and the
craving for distinction, had determined that her children should
have names such as no others had ever had. (It was a mercy--she felt
now--that she had just not named Imogen Thisbe.) But it was to George
Forsyte, always a wag, that Val's christening was due. It so happened
that Dartie, dining with him a week after the birth of his son and heir,
had mentioned this aspiration of Winifred's.

"Call him Cato," said George, "it'll be damned piquant!" He had just won
a tenner on a horse of that name.

"Cato!" Dartie had replied--they were a little 'on' as the phrase was
even in those days--"it's not a Christian name."

"Halo you!" George called to a waiter in knee breeches. "Bring me the
Encyc'pedia Brit. from the Library, letter C."

The waiter brought it.

"Here you are!" said George, pointing with his cigar: "Cato Publius
Valerius by Virgil out of Lydia. That's what you want. Publius Valerius
is Christian enough."

Dartie, on arriving home, had informed Winifred. She had been charmed.
It was so 'chic.' And Publius Valerius became the baby's name, though
it afterwards transpired that they had got hold of the inferior Cato. In
1890, however, when little Publius was nearly ten, the word 'chic' went
out of fashion, and sobriety came in; Winifred began to have doubts.
They were confirmed by little Publius himself who returned from his
first term at school complaining that life was a burden to him--they
called him Pubby. Winifred--a woman of real decision--promptly changed
his school and his name to Val, the Publius being dropped even as an
initial.

At nineteen he was a limber, freckled youth with a wide mouth, light
eyes, long dark lashes; a rather charming smile, considerable knowledge
of what he should not know, and no experience of what he ought to do.
Few boys had more narrowly escaped being expelled--the engaging rascal.
After kissing his mother and pinching Imogen, he ran upstairs three at a
time, and came down four, dressed for dinner. He was awfully sorry, but
his 'trainer,' who had come up too, had asked him to dine at the Oxford
and Cambridge; it wouldn't do to miss--the old chap would be hurt.
Winifred let him go with an unhappy pride. She had wanted him at home,
but it was very nice to know that his tutor was so fond of him. He went
out with a wink at Imogen, saying: "I say, Mother, could I have two
plover's eggs when I come in?--cook's got some. They top up so jolly
well. Oh! and look here--have you any money?--I had to borrow a fiver
from old Snobby."

Winifred, looking at him with fond shrewdness, answered:

"My dear, you are naughty about money. But you shouldn't pay him
to-night, anyway; you're his guest. How nice and slim he looked in his
white waistcoat, and his dark thick lashes!"

"Oh, but we may go to the theatre, you see, Mother; and I think I ought
to stand the tickets; he's always hard up, you know."

Winifred produced a five-pound note, saying:

"Well, perhaps you'd better pay him, but you mustn't stand the tickets
too."

Val pocketed the fiver.

"If I do, I can't," he said. "Good-night, Mum!"

He went out with his head up and his hat cocked joyously, sniffing the
air of Piccadilly like a young hound loosed into covert. Jolly good biz!
After that mouldy old slow hole down there!

He found his 'tutor,' not indeed at the Oxford and Cambridge, but at the
Goat's Club. This 'tutor' was a year older than himself, a good-looking
youth, with fine brown eyes, and smooth dark hair, a small mouth, an
oval face, languid, immaculate, cool to a degree, one of those young men
who without effort establish moral ascendancy over their companions. He
had missed being expelled from school a year before Val, had spent that
year at Oxford, and Val could almost see a halo round his head. His name
was Crum, and no one could get through money quicker. It seemed to
be his only aim in life--dazzling to young Val, in whom, however, the
Forsyte would stand apart, now and then, wondering where the value for
that money was.

They dined quietly, in style and taste; left the Club smoking cigars,
with just two bottles inside them, and dropped into stalls at the
Liberty. For Val the sound of comic songs, the sight of lovely legs
were fogged and interrupted by haunting fears that he would never equal
Crum's quiet dandyism. His idealism was roused; and when that is so, one
is never quite at ease. Surely he had too wide a mouth, not the best cut
of waistcoat, no braid on his trousers, and his lavender gloves had no
thin black stitchings down the back. Besides, he laughed too much--Crum
never laughed, he only smiled, with his regular dark brows raised a
little so that they formed a gable over his just drooped lids. No! he
would never be Crum's equal. All the same it was a jolly good show,
and Cynthia Dark simply ripping. Between the acts Crum regaled him with
particulars of Cynthia's private life, and the awful knowledge became
Val's that, if he liked, Crum could go behind. He simply longed to say:
"I say, take me!" but dared not, because of his deficiencies; and this
made the last act or two almost miserable. On coming out Crum said:
"It's half an hour before they close; let's go on to the Pandemonium."
They took a hansom to travel the hundred yards, and seats costing
seven-and-six apiece because they were going to stand, and walked into
the Promenade. It was in these little things, this utter negligence of
money that Crum had such engaging polish. The ballet was on its last
legs and night, and the traffic of the Promenade was suffering for the
moment. Men and women were crowded in three rows against the barrier.
The whirl and dazzle on the stage, the half dark, the mingled tobacco
fumes and women's scent, all that curious lure to promiscuity which
belongs to Promenades, began to free young Val from his idealism. He
looked admiringly in a young woman's face, saw she was not young, and
quickly looked away. Shades of Cynthia Dark! The young woman's arm
touched his unconsciously; there was a scent of musk and mignonette. Val
looked round the corner of his lashes. Perhaps she was young, after all.
Her foot trod on his; she begged his pardon. He said:

"Not at all; jolly good ballet, isn't it?"

"Oh, I'm tired of it; aren't you?"

Young Val smiled--his wide, rather charming smile. Beyond that he did
not go--not yet convinced. The Forsyte in him stood out for greater
certainty. And on the stage the ballet whirled its kaleidoscope of
snow-white, salmon-pink, and emerald-green and violet and seemed
suddenly to freeze into a stilly spangled pyramid. Applause broke out,
and it was over! Maroon curtains had cut it off. The semi-circle of men
and women round the barrier broke up, the young woman's arm pressed his.
A little way off disturbance seemed centring round a man with a pink
carnation; Val stole another glance at the young woman, who was looking
towards it. Three men, unsteady, emerged, walking arm in arm. The one in
the centre wore the pink carnation, a white waistcoat, a dark moustache;
he reeled a little as he walked. Crum's voice said slow and level: "Look
at that bounder, he's screwed!" Val turned to look. The 'bounder' had
disengaged his arm, and was pointing straight at them. Crum's voice,
level as ever, said:

"He seems to know you!" The 'bounder' spoke:

"H'llo!" he said. "You f'llows, look! There's my young rascal of a son!"

Val saw. It was his father! He could have sunk into the crimson carpet.
It was not the meeting in this place, not even that his father
was 'screwed'; it was Crum's word 'bounder,' which, as by heavenly
revelation, he perceived at that moment to be true. Yes, his father
looked a bounder with his dark good looks, and his pink carnation, and
his square, self-assertive walk. And without a word he ducked behind the
young woman and slipped out of the Promenade. He heard the word, "Val!"
behind him, and ran down deep-carpeted steps past the 'chuckersout,'
into the Square.

To be ashamed of his own father is perhaps the bitterest experience
a young man can go through. It seemed to Val, hurrying away, that his
career had ended before it had begun. How could he go up to Oxford now
amongst all those chaps, those splendid friends of Crum's, who would
know that his father was a 'bounder'! And suddenly he hated Crum. Who
the devil was Crum, to say that? If Crum had been beside him at that
moment, he would certainly have been jostled off the pavement. His own
father--his own! A choke came up in his throat, and he dashed his hands
down deep into his overcoat pockets. Damn Crum! He conceived the wild
idea of running back and fending his father, taking him by the arm and
walking about with him in front of Crum; but gave it up at once and
pursued his way down Piccadilly. A young woman planted herself before
him. "Not so angry, darling!" He shied, dodged her, and suddenly became
quite cool. If Crum ever said a word, he would jolly well punch his
head, and there would be an end of it. He walked a hundred yards or
more, contented with that thought, then lost its comfort utterly. It
wasn't simple like that! He remembered how, at school, when some parent
came down who did not pass the standard, it just clung to the fellow
afterwards. It was one of those things nothing could remove. Why had
his mother married his father, if he was a 'bounder'? It was bitterly
unfair--jolly low-down on a fellow to give him a 'bounder' for father.
The worst of it was that now Crum had spoken the word, he realised that
he had long known subconsciously that his father was not 'the clean
potato.' It was the beastliest thing that had ever happened to
him--beastliest thing that had ever happened to any fellow! And,
down-hearted as he had never yet been, he came to Green Street, and let
himself in with a smuggled latch-key. In the dining-room his plover's
eggs were set invitingly, with some cut bread and butter, and a little
whisky at the bottom of a decanter--just enough, as Winifred had
thought, for him to feel himself a man. It made him sick to look at
them, and he went upstairs.

Winifred heard him pass, and thought: 'The dear boy's in. Thank
goodness! If he takes after his father I don't know what I shall do! But
he won't he's like me. Dear Val!'




CHAPTER III--SOAMES PREPARES TO TAKE STEPS

When Soames entered his sister's little Louis Quinze drawing-room, with
its small balcony, always flowered with hanging geraniums in the summer,
and now with pots of Lilium Auratum, he was struck by the immutability
of human affairs. It looked just the same as on his first visit to the
newly married Darties twenty-one years ago. He had chosen the furniture
himself, and so completely that no subsequent purchase had ever been
able to change the room's atmosphere. Yes, he had founded his sister
well, and she had wanted it. Indeed, it said a great deal for Winifred
that after all this time with Dartie she remained well-founded. From
the first Soames had nosed out Dartie's nature from underneath the
plausibility, savoir faire, and good looks which had dazzled Winifred,
her mother, and even James, to the extent of permitting the fellow to
marry his daughter without bringing anything but shares of no value into
settlement.

Winifred, whom he noticed next to the furniture, was sitting at her Buhl
bureau with a letter in her hand. She rose and came towards him. Tall as
himself, strong in the cheekbones, well tailored, something in her face
disturbed Soames. She crumpled the letter in her hand, but seemed to
change her mind and held it out to him. He was her lawyer as well as her
brother.

Soames read, on Iseeum Club paper, these words:

'You will not get chance to insult in my own again. I am leaving country
to-morrow. It's played out. I'm tired of being insulted by you. You've
brought on yourself. No self-respecting man can stand it. I shall not
ask you for anything again. Good-bye. I took the photograph of the two
girls. Give them my love. I don't care what your family say. It's all
their doing. I'm going to live new life. 'M.D.'

This after-dinner note had a splotch on it not yet quite dry. He looked
at Winifred--the splotch had clearly come from her; and he checked the
words: 'Good riddance!' Then it occurred to him that with this letter
she was entering that very state which he himself so earnestly desired
to quit--the state of a Forsyte who was not divorced.

Winifred had turned away, and was taking a long sniff from a little
gold-topped bottle. A dull commiseration, together with a vague sense of
injury, crept about Soames' heart. He had come to her to talk of his
own position, and get sympathy, and here was she in the same position,
wanting of course to talk of it, and get sympathy from him. It was
always like that! Nobody ever seemed to think that he had troubles and
interests of his own. He folded up the letter with the splotch inside,
and said:

"What's it all about, now?"

Winifred recited the story of the pearls calmly.

"Do you think he's really gone, Soames? You see the state he was in when
he wrote that."

Soames who, when he desired a thing, placated Providence by pretending
that he did not think it likely to happen, answered:

"I shouldn't think so. I might find out at his Club."

"If George is there," said Winifred, "he would know."

"George?" said Soames; "I saw him at his father's funeral."

"Then he's sure to be there."

Soames, whose good sense applauded his sister's acumen, said grudgingly:
"Well, I'll go round. Have you said anything in Park Lane?"

"I've told Emily," returned Winifred, who retained that 'chic' way of
describing her mother. "Father would have a fit."

Indeed, anything untoward was now sedulously kept from James. With
another look round at the furniture, as if to gauge his sister's exact
position, Soames went out towards Piccadilly. The evening was drawing
in--a touch of chill in the October haze. He walked quickly, with his
close and concentrated air. He must get through, for he wished to dine
in Soho. On hearing from the hall porter at the Iseeum that Mr. Dartie
had not been in to-day, he looked at the trusty fellow and decided only
to ask if Mr. George Forsyte was in the Club. He was. Soames, who always
looked askance at his cousin George, as one inclined to jest at his
expense, followed the pageboy, slightly reassured by the thought that
George had just lost his father. He must have come in for about thirty
thousand, besides what he had under that settlement of Roger's, which
had avoided death duty. He found George in a bow-window, staring out
across a half-eaten plate of muffins. His tall, bulky, black-clothed
figure loomed almost threatening, though preserving still the
supernatural neatness of the racing man. With a faint grin on his fleshy
face, he said:

"Hallo, Soames! Have a muffin?"

"No, thanks," murmured Soames; and, nursing his hat, with the desire to
say something suitable and sympathetic, added:

"How's your mother?"

"Thanks," said George; "so-so. Haven't seen you for ages. You never go
racing. How's the City?"

Soames, scenting the approach of a jest, closed up, and answered:

"I wanted to ask you about Dartie. I hear he's...."

"Flitted, made a bolt to Buenos Aires with the fair Lola. Good for
Winifred and the little Darties. He's a treat."

Soames nodded. Naturally inimical as these cousins were, Dartie made
them kin.

"Uncle James'll sleep in his bed now," resumed George; "I suppose he's
had a lot off you, too."

Soames smiled.

"Ah! You saw him further," said George amicably. "He's a real rouser.
Young Val will want a bit of looking after. I was always sorry for
Winifred. She's a plucky woman."

Again Soames nodded. "I must be getting back to her," he said; "she just
wanted to know for certain. We may have to take steps. I suppose there's
no mistake?"

"It's quite O.K.," said George--it was he who invented so many of those
quaint sayings which have been assigned to other sources. "He was drunk
as a lord last night; but he went off all right this morning. His ship's
the Tuscarora;" and, fishing out a card, he read mockingly:

"'Mr. Montague Dartie, Poste Restante, Buenos Aires.' I should hurry up
with the steps, if I were you. He fairly fed me up last night."

"Yes," said Soames; "but it's not always easy." Then, conscious from
George's eyes that he had roused reminiscence of his own affair, he got
up, and held out his hand. George rose too.

"Remember me to Winifred.... You'll enter her for the Divorce Stakes
straight off if you ask me."

Soames took a sidelong look back at him from the doorway. George had
seated himself again and was staring before him; he looked big and
lonely in those black clothes. Soames had never known him so subdued. 'I
suppose he feels it in a way,' he thought. 'They must have about fifty
thousand each, all told. They ought to keep the estate together. If
there's a war, house property will go down. Uncle Roger was a good
judge, though.' And the face of Annette rose before him in the darkening
street; her brown hair and her blue eyes with their dark lashes, her
fresh lips and cheeks, dewy and blooming in spite of London, her perfect
French figure. 'Take steps!' he thought. Re-entering Winifred's house
he encountered Val, and they went in together. An idea had occurred to
Soames. His cousin Jolyon was Irene's trustee, the first step would be
to go down and see him at Robin Hill. Robin Hill! The odd--the very odd
feeling those words brought back! Robin Hill--the house Bosinney had
built for him and Irene--the house they had never lived in--the fatal
house! And Jolyon lived there now! H'm! And suddenly he thought: 'They
say he's got a boy at Oxford! Why not take young Val down and introduce
them! It's an excuse! Less bald--very much less bald!' So, as they went
upstairs, he said to Val:

"You've got a cousin at Oxford; you've never met him. I should like to
take you down with me to-morrow to where he lives and introduce you.
You'll find it useful."

Val, receiving the idea with but moderate transports, Soames clinched
it.

"I'll call for you after lunch. It's in the country--not far; you'll
enjoy it."

On the threshold of the drawing-room he recalled with an effort that the
steps he contemplated concerned Winifred at the moment, not himself.

Winifred was still sitting at her Buhl bureau.

"It's quite true," he said; "he's gone to Buenos Aires, started this
morning--we'd better have him shadowed when he lands. I'll cable at
once. Otherwise we may have a lot of expense. The sooner these things
are done the better. I'm always regretting that I didn't..." he stopped,
and looked sidelong at the silent Winifred. "By the way," he went on,
"can you prove cruelty?"

Winifred said in a dull voice:

"I don't know. What is cruelty?"

"Well, has he struck you, or anything?"

Winifred shook herself, and her jaw grew square.

"He twisted my arm. Or would pointing a pistol count? Or being too drunk
to undress himself, or--No--I can't bring in the children."

"No," said Soames; "no! I wonder! Of course, there's legal
separation--we can get that. But separation! Um!"

"What does it mean?" asked Winifred desolately.

"That he can't touch you, or you him; you're both of you married and
unmarried." And again he grunted. What was it, in fact, but his own
accursed position, legalised! No, he would not put her into that!

"It must be divorce," he said decisively; "failing cruelty, there's
desertion. There's a way of shortening the two years, now. We get the
Court to give us restitution of conjugal rights. Then if he doesn't
obey, we can bring a suit for divorce in six months' time. Of course you
don't want him back. But they won't know that. Still, there's the risk
that he might come. I'd rather try cruelty."

Winifred shook her head. "It's so beastly."

"Well," Soames murmured, "perhaps there isn't much risk so long as he's
infatuated and got money. Don't say anything to anybody, and don't pay
any of his debts."

Winifred sighed. In spite of all she had been through, the sense of loss
was heavy on her. And this idea of not paying his debts any more brought
it home to her as nothing else yet had. Some richness seemed to have
gone out of life. Without her husband, without her pearls, without that
intimate sense that she made a brave show above the domestic whirlpool,
she would now have to face the world. She felt bereaved indeed.

And into the chilly kiss he placed on her forehead, Soames put more than
his usual warmth.

"I have to go down to Robin Hill to-morrow," he said, "to see young
Jolyon on business. He's got a boy at Oxford. I'd like to take Val with
me and introduce him. Come down to 'The Shelter' for the week-end and
bring the children. Oh! by the way, no, that won't do; I've got some
other people coming." So saying, he left her and turned towards Soho.




CHAPTER IV--SOHO

Of all quarters in the queer adventurous amalgam called London, Soho is
perhaps least suited to the Forsyte spirit. 'So-ho, my wild one!' George
would have said if he had seen his cousin going there. Untidy, full
of Greeks, Ishmaelites, cats, Italians, tomatoes, restaurants, organs,
coloured stuffs, queer names, people looking out of upper windows,
it dwells remote from the British Body Politic. Yet has it haphazard
proprietary instincts of its own, and a certain possessive prosperity
which keeps its rents up when those of other quarters go down. For
long years Soames' acquaintanceship with Soho had been confined to its
Western bastion, Wardour Street. Many bargains had he picked up there.
Even during those seven years at Brighton after Bosinney's death and
Irene's flight, he had bought treasures there sometimes, though he had
no place to put them; for when the conviction that his wife had gone for
good at last became firm within him, he had caused a board to be put up
in Montpellier Square:

                     FOR SALE
        THE LEASE OF THIS DESIRABLE RESIDENCE

        Enquire of Messrs. Lesson and Tukes,
             Court Street, Belgravia.

It had sold within a week--that desirable residence, in the shadow of
whose perfection a man and a woman had eaten their hearts out.

Of a misty January evening, just before the board was taken down, Soames
had gone there once more, and stood against the Square railings, looking
at its unlighted windows, chewing the cud of possessive memories which
had turned so bitter in the mouth. Why had she never loved him? Why?
She had been given all she had wanted, and in return had given him, for
three long years, all he had wanted--except, indeed, her heart. He had
uttered a little involuntary groan, and a passing policeman had glanced
suspiciously at him who no longer possessed the right to enter that
green door with the carved brass knocker beneath the board 'For Sale!' A
choking sensation had attacked his throat, and he had hurried away into
the mist. That evening he had gone to Brighton to live....

Approaching Malta Street, Soho, and the Restaurant Bretagne, where
Annette would be drooping her pretty shoulders over her accounts, Soames
thought with wonder of those seven years at Brighton. How had he managed
to go on so long in that town devoid of the scent of sweetpeas, where he
had not even space to put his treasures? True, those had been years
with no time at all for looking at them--years of almost passionate
money-making, during which Forsyte, Bustard and Forsyte had become
solicitors to more limited Companies than they could properly attend to.
Up to the City of a morning in a Pullman car, down from the City of an
evening in a Pullman car. Law papers again after dinner, then the sleep
of the tired, and up again next morning. Saturday to Monday was spent at
his Club in town--curious reversal of customary procedure, based on the
deep and careful instinct that while working so hard he needed sea air
to and from the station twice a day, and while resting must indulge his
domestic affections. The Sunday visit to his family in Park Lane, to
Timothy's, and to Green Street; the occasional visits elsewhere had
seemed to him as necessary to health as sea air on weekdays. Even since
his migration to Mapledurham he had maintained those habits until--he
had known Annette.

Whether Annette had produced the revolution in his outlook, or that
outlook had produced Annette, he knew no more than we know where a
circle begins. It was intricate and deeply involved with the growing
consciousness that property without anyone to leave it to is the
negation of true Forsyteism. To have an heir, some continuance of self,
who would begin where he left off--ensure, in fact, that he would not
leave off--had quite obsessed him for the last year and more. After
buying a bit of Wedgwood one evening in April, he had dropped into Malta
Street to look at a house of his father's which had been turned into a
restaurant--a risky proceeding, and one not quite in accordance with the
terms of the lease. He had stared for a little at the outside painted
a good cream colour, with two peacock-blue tubs containing little
bay-trees in a recessed doorway--and at the words 'Restaurant Bretagne'
above them in gold letters, rather favourably impressed. Entering, he
had noticed that several people were already seated at little round
green tables with little pots of fresh flowers on them and Brittany-ware
plates, and had asked of a trim waitress to see the proprietor. They had
shown him into a back room, where a girl was sitting at a simple bureau
covered with papers, and a small round, table was laid for two. The
impression of cleanliness, order, and good taste was confirmed when
the girl got up, saying, "You wish to see Maman, Monsieur?" in a broken
accent.

"Yes," Soames had answered, "I represent your landlord; in fact, I'm his
son."

"Won't you sit down, sir, please? Tell Maman to come to this gentleman."

He was pleased that the girl seemed impressed, because it showed
business instinct; and suddenly he noticed that she was remarkably
pretty--so remarkably pretty that his eyes found a difficulty in leaving
her face. When she moved to put a chair for him, she swayed in a curious
subtle way, as if she had been put together by someone with a special
secret skill; and her face and neck, which was a little bared, looked
as fresh as if they had been sprayed with dew. Probably at this moment
Soames decided that the lease had not been violated; though to himself
and his father he based the decision on the efficiency of those illicit
adaptations in the building, on the signs of prosperity, and the obvious
business capacity of Madame Lamotte. He did not, however, neglect to
leave certain matters to future consideration, which had necessitated
further visits, so that the little back room had become quite accustomed
to his spare, not unsolid, but unobtrusive figure, and his pale, chinny
face with clipped moustache and dark hair not yet grizzling at the
sides.

"Un Monsieur tres distingue," Madame Lamotte found him; and presently,
"Tres amical, tres gentil," watching his eyes upon her daughter.

She was one of those generously built, fine-faced, dark-haired
Frenchwomen, whose every action and tone of voice inspire perfect
confidence in the thoroughness of their domestic tastes, their knowledge
of cooking, and the careful increase of their bank balances.

After those visits to the Restaurant Bretagne began, other visits
ceased--without, indeed, any definite decision, for Soames, like
all Forsytes, and the great majority of their countrymen, was a born
empiricist. But it was this change in his mode of life which had
gradually made him so definitely conscious that he desired to alter his
condition from that of the unmarried married man to that of the married
man remarried.

Turning into Malta Street on this evening of early October, 1899, he
bought a paper to see if there were any after-development of the Dreyfus
case--a question which he had always found useful in making closer
acquaintanceship with Madame Lamotte and her daughter, who were Catholic
and anti-Dreyfusard.

Scanning those columns, Soames found nothing French, but noticed a
general fall on the Stock Exchange and an ominous leader about the
Transvaal. He entered, thinking: 'War's a certainty. I shall sell my
consols.' Not that he had many, personally, the rate of interest was too
wretched; but he should advise his Companies--consols would assuredly go
down. A look, as he passed the doorways of the restaurant, assured him
that business was good as ever, and this, which in April would have
pleased him, now gave him a certain uneasiness. If the steps which
he had to take ended in his marrying Annette, he would rather see her
mother safely back in France, a move to which the prosperity of the
Restaurant Bretagne might become an obstacle. He would have to buy them
out, of course, for French people only came to England to make money;
and it would mean a higher price. And then that peculiar sweet sensation
at the back of his throat, and a slight thumping about the heart, which
he always experienced at the door of the little room, prevented his
thinking how much it would cost.

Going in, he was conscious of an abundant black skirt vanishing through
the door into the restaurant, and of Annette with her hands up to her
hair. It was the attitude in which of all others he admired her--so
beautifully straight and rounded and supple. And he said:

"I just came in to talk to your mother about pulling down that
partition. No, don't call her."

"Monsieur will have supper with us? It will be ready in ten minutes."
Soames, who still held her hand, was overcome by an impulse which
surprised him.

"You look so pretty to-night," he said, "so very pretty. Do you know how
pretty you look, Annette?"

Annette withdrew her hand, and blushed. "Monsieur is very good."

"Not a bit good," said Soames, and sat down gloomily.

Annette made a little expressive gesture with her hands; a smile was
crinkling her red lips untouched by salve.

And, looking at those lips, Soames said:

"Are you happy over here, or do you want to go back to France?"

"Oh, I like London. Paris, of course. But London is better than Orleans,
and the English country is so beautiful. I have been to Richmond last
Sunday."

Soames went through a moment of calculating struggle. Mapledurham! Dared
he? After all, dared he go so far as that, and show her what there was
to look forward to! Still! Down there one could say things. In this room
it was impossible.

"I want you and your mother," he said suddenly, "to come for the
afternoon next Sunday. My house is on the river, it's not too late in
this weather; and I can show you some good pictures. What do you say?"

Annette clasped her hands.

"It will be lovelee. The river is so beautiful"

"That's understood, then. I'll ask Madame."

He need say no more to her this evening, and risk giving himself away.
But had he not already said too much? Did one ask restaurant proprietors
with pretty daughters down to one's country house without design? Madame
Lamotte would see, if Annette didn't. Well! there was not much that
Madame did not see. Besides, this was the second time he had stayed to
supper with them; he owed them hospitality.

Walking home towards Park Lane--for he was staying at his father's--with
the impression of Annette's soft clever hand within his own, his
thoughts were pleasant, slightly sensual, rather puzzled. Take steps!
What steps? How? Dirty linen washed in public? Pah! With his reputation
for sagacity, for far-sightedness and the clever extrication of others,
he, who stood for proprietary interests, to become the plaything of
that Law of which he was a pillar! There was something revolting in
the thought! Winifred's affair was bad enough! To have a double dose
of publicity in the family! Would not a liaison be better than that--a
liaison, and a son he could adopt? But dark, solid, watchful, Madame
Lamotte blocked the avenue of that vision. No! that would not work. It
was not as if Annette could have a real passion for him; one could not
expect that at his age. If her mother wished, if the worldly advantage
were manifestly great--perhaps! If not, refusal would be certain.
Besides, he thought: 'I'm not a villain. I don't want to hurt her; and
I don't want anything underhand. But I do want her, and I want a son!
There's nothing for it but divorce--somehow--anyhow--divorce!' Under the
shadow of the plane-trees, in the lamplight, he passed slowly along
the railings of the Green Park. Mist clung there among the bluish tree
shapes, beyond range of the lamps. How many hundred times he had walked
past those trees from his father's house in Park Lane, when he was quite
a young man; or from his own house in Montpellier Square in those four
years of married life! And, to-night, making up his mind to free himself
if he could of that long useless marriage tie, he took a fancy to walk
on, in at Hyde Park Corner, out at Knightsbridge Gate, just as he used
to when going home to Irene in the old days. What could she be like
now?--how had she passed the years since he last saw her, twelve years
in all, seven already since Uncle Jolyon left her that money? Was she
still beautiful? Would he know her if he saw her? 'I've not changed
much,' he thought; 'I expect she has. She made me suffer.' He remembered
suddenly one night, the first on which he went out to dinner alone--an
old Malburian dinner--the first year of their marriage. With what
eagerness he had hurried back; and, entering softly as a cat, had heard
her playing. Opening the drawing-room door noiselessly, he had stood
watching the expression on her face, different from any he knew, so much
more open, so confiding, as though to her music she was giving a heart
he had never seen. And he remembered how she stopped and looked round,
how her face changed back to that which he did know, and what an
icy shiver had gone through him, for all that the next moment he was
fondling her shoulders. Yes, she had made him suffer! Divorce! It seemed
ridiculous, after all these years of utter separation! But it would have
to be. No other way! 'The question,' he thought with sudden realism,
'is--which of us? She or me? She deserted me. She ought to pay for
it. There'll be someone, I suppose.' Involuntarily he uttered a little
snarling sound, and, turning, made his way back to Park Lane.




CHAPTER V--JAMES SEES VISIONS

The butler himself opened the door, and closing it softly, detained
Soames on the inner mat.

"The master's poorly, sir," he murmured. "He wouldn't go to bed till you
came in. He's still in the diningroom."

Soames responded in the hushed tone to which the house was now
accustomed.

"What's the matter with him, Warmson?"

"Nervous, sir, I think. Might be the funeral; might be Mrs. Dartie's
comin' round this afternoon. I think he overheard something. I've took
him in a negus. The mistress has just gone up."

Soames hung his hat on a mahogany stag's-horn.

"All right, Warmson, you can go to bed; I'll take him up myself." And he
passed into the dining-room.

James was sitting before the fire, in a big armchair, with a camel-hair
shawl, very light and warm, over his frock-coated shoulders, on to which
his long white whiskers drooped. His white hair, still fairly thick,
glistened in the lamplight; a little moisture from his fixed, light-grey
eyes stained the cheeks, still quite well coloured, and the long deep
furrows running to the corners of the clean-shaven lips, which moved
as if mumbling thoughts. His long legs, thin as a crow's, in shepherd's
plaid trousers, were bent at less than a right angle, and on one knee a
spindly hand moved continually, with fingers wide apart and glistening
tapered nails. Beside him, on a low stool, stood a half-finished glass
of negus, bedewed with beads of heat. There he had been sitting, with
intervals for meals, all day. At eighty-eight he was still organically
sound, but suffering terribly from the thought that no one ever told him
anything. It is, indeed, doubtful how he had become aware that Roger was
being buried that day, for Emily had kept it from him. She was always
keeping things from him. Emily was only seventy! James had a grudge
against his wife's youth. He felt sometimes that he would never have
married her if he had known that she would have so many years before
her, when he had so few. It was not natural. She would live fifteen or
twenty years after he was gone, and might spend a lot of money; she had
always had extravagant tastes. For all he knew she might want to buy
one of these motor-cars. Cicely and Rachel and Imogen and all the young
people--they all rode those bicycles now and went off Goodness knew
where. And now Roger was gone. He didn't know--couldn't tell! The
family was breaking up. Soames would know how much his uncle had left.
Curiously he thought of Roger as Soames' uncle not as his own brother.
Soames! It was more and more the one solid spot in a vanishing world.
Soames was careful; he was a warm man; but he had no one to leave
his money to. There it was! He didn't know! And there was that fellow
Chamberlain! For James' political principles had been fixed between '70
and '85 when 'that rascally Radical' had been the chief thorn in the
side of property and he distrusted him to this day in spite of his
conversion; he would get the country into a mess and make money go down
before he had done with it. A stormy petrel of a chap! Where was Soames?
He had gone to the funeral of course which they had tried to keep from
him. He knew that perfectly well; he had seen his son's trousers. Roger!
Roger in his coffin! He remembered how, when they came up from school
together from the West, on the box seat of the old Slowflyer in 1824,
Roger had got into the 'boot' and gone to sleep. James uttered a thin
cackle. A funny fellow--Roger--an original! He didn't know! Younger than
himself, and in his coffin! The family was breaking up. There was Val
going to the university; he never came to see him now. He would cost
a pretty penny up there. It was an extravagant age. And all the pretty
pennies that his four grandchildren would cost him danced before James'
eyes. He did not grudge them the money, but he grudged terribly the risk
which the spending of that money might bring on them; he grudged the
diminution of security. And now that Cicely had married, she might be
having children too. He didn't know--couldn't tell! Nobody thought of
anything but spending money in these days, and racing about, and having
what they called 'a good time.' A motor-car went past the window. Ugly
great lumbering thing, making all that racket! But there it was, the
country rattling to the dogs! People in such a hurry that they couldn't
even care for style--a neat turnout like his barouche and bays was worth
all those new-fangled things. And consols at 116! There must be a lot of
money in the country. And now there was this old Kruger! They had tried
to keep old Kruger from him. But he knew better; there would be a pretty
kettle of fish out there! He had known how it would be when that fellow
Gladstone--dead now, thank God! made such a mess of it after that
dreadful business at Majuba. He shouldn't wonder if the Empire split
up and went to pot. And this vision of the Empire going to pot filled
a full quarter of an hour with qualms of the most serious character. He
had eaten a poor lunch because of them. But it was after lunch that the
real disaster to his nerves occurred. He had been dozing when he
became aware of voices--low voices. Ah! they never told him anything!
Winifred's and her mother's. "Monty!" That fellow Dartie--always that
fellow Dartie! The voices had receded; and James had been left alone,
with his ears standing up like a hare's, and fear creeping about his
inwards. Why did they leave him alone? Why didn't they come and tell
him? And an awful thought, which through long years had haunted
him, concreted again swiftly in his brain. Dartie had gone
bankrupt--fraudulently bankrupt, and to save Winifred and the children,
he--James--would have to pay! Could he--could Soames turn him into a
limited company? No, he couldn't! There it was! With every minute before
Emily came back the spectre fiercened. Why, it might be forgery! With
eyes fixed on the doubted Turner in the centre of the wall, James
suffered tortures. He saw Dartie in the dock, his grandchildren in the
gutter, and himself in bed. He saw the doubted Turner being sold at
Jobson's, and all the majestic edifice of property in rags. He saw in
fancy Winifred unfashionably dressed, and heard in fancy Emily's voice
saying: "Now, don't fuss, James!" She was always saying: "Don't fuss!"
She had no nerves; he ought never to have married a woman eighteen years
younger than himself. Then Emily's real voice said:

"Have you had a nice nap, James?"

Nap! He was in torment, and she asked him that!

"What's this about Dartie?" he said, and his eyes glared at her.

Emily's self-possession never deserted her.

"What have you been hearing?" she asked blandly.

"What's this about Dartie?" repeated James. "He's gone bankrupt."

"Fiddle!"

James made a great effort, and rose to the full height of his stork-like
figure.

"You never tell me anything," he said; "he's gone bankrupt."

The destruction of that fixed idea seemed to Emily all that mattered at
the moment.

"He has not," she answered firmly. "He's gone to Buenos Aires."

If she had said "He's gone to Mars" she could not have dealt James
a more stunning blow; his imagination, invested entirely in British
securities, could as little grasp one place as the other.

"What's he gone there for?" he said. "He's got no money. What did he
take?"

Agitated within by Winifred's news, and goaded by the constant
reiteration of this jeremiad, Emily said calmly:

"He took Winifred's pearls and a dancer."

"What!" said James, and sat down.

His sudden collapse alarmed her, and smoothing his forehead, she said:

"Now, don't fuss, James!"

A dusky red had spread over James' cheeks and forehead.

"I paid for them," he said tremblingly; "he's a thief! I--I knew how it
would be. He'll be the death of me; he ...." Words failed him and he sat
quite still. Emily, who thought she knew him so well, was alarmed, and
went towards the sideboard where she kept some sal volatile. She could
not see the tenacious Forsyte spirit working in that thin, tremulous
shape against the extravagance of the emotion called up by this outrage
on Forsyte principles--the Forsyte spirit deep in there, saying: 'You
mustn't get into a fantod, it'll never do. You won't digest your lunch.
You'll have a fit!' All unseen by her, it was doing better work in James
than sal volatile.

"Drink this," she said.

James waved it aside.

"What was Winifred about," he said, "to let him take her pearls?" Emily
perceived the crisis past.

"She can have mine," she said comfortably. "I never wear them. She'd
better get a divorce."

"There you go!" said James. "Divorce! We've never had a divorce in the
family. Where's Soames?"

"He'll be in directly."

"No, he won't," said James, almost fiercely; "he's at the funeral. You
think I know nothing."

"Well," said Emily with calm, "you shouldn't get into such fusses when
we tell you things." And plumping up his cushions, and putting the sal
volatile beside him, she left the room.

But James sat there seeing visions--of Winifred in the Divorce Court,
and the family name in the papers; of the earth falling on Roger's
coffin; of Val taking after his father; of the pearls he had paid for
and would never see again; of money back at four per cent., and the
country going to the dogs; and, as the afternoon wore into evening,
and tea-time passed, and dinnertime, those visions became more and more
mixed and menacing--of being told nothing, till he had nothing left of
all his wealth, and they told him nothing of it. Where was Soames? Why
didn't he come in?... His hand grasped the glass of negus, he raised it
to drink, and saw his son standing there looking at him. A little sigh
of relief escaped his lips, and putting the glass down, he said:

"There you are! Dartie's gone to Buenos Aires."

Soames nodded. "That's all right," he said; "good riddance."

A wave of assuagement passed over James' brain. Soames knew. Soames was
the only one of them all who had sense. Why couldn't he come and live at
home? He had no son of his own. And he said plaintively:

"At my age I get nervous. I wish you were more at home, my boy."

Again Soames nodded; the mask of his countenance betrayed no
understanding, but he went closer, and as if by accident touched his
father's shoulder.

"They sent their love to you at Timothy's," he said. "It went off all
right. I've been to see Winifred. I'm going to take steps." And he
thought: 'Yes, and you mustn't hear of them.'

James looked up; his long white whiskers quivered, his thin throat
between the points of his collar looked very gristly and naked.

"I've been very poorly all day," he said; "they never tell me anything."

Soames' heart twitched.

"Well, it's all right. There's nothing to worry about. Will you come up
now?" and he put his hand under his father's arm.

James obediently and tremulously raised himself, and together they went
slowly across the room, which had a rich look in the firelight, and out
to the stairs. Very slowly they ascended.

"Good-night, my boy," said James at his bedroom door.

"Good-night, father," answered Soames. His hand stroked down the sleeve
beneath the shawl; it seemed to have almost nothing in it, so thin was
the arm. And, turning away from the light in the opening doorway, he
went up the extra flight to his own bedroom.

'I want a son,' he thought, sitting on the edge of his bed; 'I want a
son.'




CHAPTER VI--NO-LONGER-YOUNG JOLYON AT HOME

Trees take little account of time, and the old oak on the upper lawn at
Robin Hill looked no day older than when Bosinney sprawled under it and
said to Soames: "Forsyte, I've found the very place for your house."
Since then Swithin had dreamed, and old Jolyon died, beneath its
branches. And now, close to the swing, no-longer-young Jolyon often
painted there. Of all spots in the world it was perhaps the most sacred
to him, for he had loved his father.

Contemplating its great girth--crinkled and a little mossed, but not yet
hollow--he would speculate on the passage of time. That tree had seen,
perhaps, all real English history; it dated, he shouldn't wonder, from
the days of Elizabeth at least. His own fifty years were as nothing
to its wood. When the house behind it, which he now owned, was three
hundred years of age instead of twelve, that tree might still be
standing there, vast and hollow--for who would commit such sacrilege as
to cut it down? A Forsyte might perhaps still be living in that house,
to guard it jealously. And Jolyon would wonder what the house would look
like coated with such age. Wistaria was already about its walls--the new
look had gone. Would it hold its own and keep the dignity Bosinney had
bestowed on it, or would the giant London have lapped it round and
made it into an asylum in the midst of a jerry-built wilderness? Often,
within and without of it, he was persuaded that Bosinney had been moved
by the spirit when he built. He had put his heart into that house,
indeed! It might even become one of the 'homes of England'--a rare
achievement for a house in these degenerate days of building. And
the aesthetic spirit, moving hand in hand with his Forsyte sense of
possessive continuity, dwelt with pride and pleasure on his ownership
thereof. There was the smack of reverence and ancestor-worship (if only
for one ancestor) in his desire to hand this house down to his son and
his son's son. His father had loved the house, had loved the view, the
grounds, that tree; his last years had been happy there, and no one had
lived there before him. These last eleven years at Robin Hill had formed
in Jolyon's life as a painter, the important period of success. He was
now in the very van of water-colour art, hanging on the line everywhere.
His drawings fetched high prices. Specialising in that one medium with
the tenacity of his breed, he had 'arrived'--rather late, but not too
late for a member of the family which made a point of living for
ever. His art had really deepened and improved. In conformity with his
position he had grown a short fair beard, which was just beginning to
grizzle, and hid his Forsyte chin; his brown face had lost the warped
expression of his ostracised period--he looked, if anything, younger.
The loss of his wife in 1894 had been one of those domestic tragedies
which turn out in the end for the good of all. He had, indeed, loved
her to the last, for his was an affectionate spirit, but she had become
increasingly difficult: jealous of her step-daughter June, jealous even
of her own little daughter Holly, and making ceaseless plaint that he
could not love her, ill as she was, and 'useless to everyone, and better
dead.' He had mourned her sincerely, but his face had looked younger
since she died. If she could only have believed that she made him happy,
how much happier would the twenty years of their companionship have
been!

June had never really got on well with her who had reprehensibly taken
her own mother's place; and ever since old Jolyon died she had been
established in a sort of studio in London. But she had come back to
Robin Hill on her stepmother's death, and gathered the reins there into
her small decided hands. Jolly was then at Harrow; Holly still learning
from Mademoiselle Beauce. There had been nothing to keep Jolyon at home,
and he had removed his grief and his paint-box abroad. There he had
wandered, for the most part in Brittany, and at last had fetched up
in Paris. He had stayed there several months, and come back with the
younger face and the short fair beard. Essentially a man who merely
lodged in any house, it had suited him perfectly that June should reign
at Robin Hill, so that he was free to go off with his easel where and
when he liked. She was inclined, it is true, to regard the house rather
as an asylum for her proteges! but his own outcast days had filled
Jolyon for ever with sympathy towards an outcast, and June's 'lame
ducks' about the place did not annoy him. By all means let her have them
down--and feed them up; and though his slightly cynical humour perceived
that they ministered to his daughter's love of domination as well as
moved her warm heart, he never ceased to admire her for having so many
ducks. He fell, indeed, year by year into a more and more detached and
brotherly attitude towards his own son and daughters, treating them with
a sort of whimsical equality. When he went down to Harrow to see Jolly,
he never quite knew which of them was the elder, and would sit eating
cherries with him out of one paper bag, with an affectionate and
ironical smile twisting up an eyebrow and curling his lips a little. And
he was always careful to have money in his pocket, and to be modish in
his dress, so that his son need not blush for him. They were perfect
friends, but never seemed to have occasion for verbal confidences, both
having the competitive self-consciousness of Forsytes. They knew they
would stand by each other in scrapes, but there was no need to talk
about it. Jolyon had a striking horror--partly original sin, but partly
the result of his early immorality--of the moral attitude. The most he
could ever have said to his son would have been:

"Look here, old man; don't forget you're a gentleman," and then have
wondered whimsically whether that was not a snobbish sentiment. The
great cricket match was perhaps the most searching and awkward time they
annually went through together, for Jolyon had been at Eton. They would
be particularly careful during that match, continually saying: "Hooray!
Oh! hard luck, old man!" or "Hooray! Oh! bad luck, Dad!" to each
other, when some disaster at which their hearts bounded happened to the
opposing school. And Jolyon would wear a grey top hat, instead of his
usual soft one, to save his son's feelings, for a black top hat he could
not stomach. When Jolly went up to Oxford, Jolyon went up with him,
amused, humble, and a little anxious not to discredit his boy amongst
all these youths who seemed so much more assured and old than himself.
He often thought, 'Glad I'm a painter' for he had long dropped
under-writing at Lloyds--'it's so innocuous. You can't look down on a
painter--you can't take him seriously enough.' For Jolly, who had a sort
of natural lordliness, had passed at once into a very small set, who
secretly amused his father. The boy had fair hair which curled a little,
and his grandfather's deepset iron-grey eyes. He was well-built and very
upright, and always pleased Jolyon's aesthetic sense, so that he was a
tiny bit afraid of him, as artists ever are of those of their own sex
whom they admire physically. On that occasion, however, he actually did
screw up his courage to give his son advice, and this was it:

"Look here, old man, you're bound to get into debt; mind you come to me
at once. Of course, I'll always pay them. But you might remember that
one respects oneself more afterwards if one pays one's own way. And
don't ever borrow, except from me, will you?"

And Jolly had said:

"All right, Dad, I won't," and he never had.

"And there's just one other thing. I don't know much about morality and
that, but there is this: It's always worth while before you do anything
to consider whether it's going to hurt another person more than is
absolutely necessary."

Jolly had looked thoughtful, and nodded, and presently had squeezed his
father's hand. And Jolyon had thought: 'I wonder if I had the right to
say that?' He always had a sort of dread of losing the dumb confidence
they had in each other; remembering how for long years he had lost his
own father's, so that there had been nothing between them but love at a
great distance. He under-estimated, no doubt, the change in the spirit
of the age since he himself went up to Cambridge in '65; and perhaps
he underestimated, too, his boy's power of understanding that he was
tolerant to the very bone. It was that tolerance of his, and possibly
his scepticism, which ever made his relations towards June so queerly
defensive. She was such a decided mortal; knew her own mind so terribly
well; wanted things so inexorably until she got them--and then, indeed,
often dropped them like a hot potato. Her mother had been like that,
whence had come all those tears. Not that his incompatibility with his
daughter was anything like what it had been with the first Mrs. Young
Jolyon. One could be amused where a daughter was concerned; in a wife's
case one could not be amused. To see June set her heart and jaw on a
thing until she got it was all right, because it was never anything
which interfered fundamentally with Jolyon's liberty--the one thing on
which his jaw was also absolutely rigid, a considerable jaw, under
that short grizzling beard. Nor was there ever any necessity for real
heart-to-heart encounters. One could break away into irony--as indeed
he often had to. But the real trouble with June was that she had never
appealed to his aesthetic sense, though she might well have, with
her red-gold hair and her viking-coloured eyes, and that touch of the
Berserker in her spirit. It was very different with Holly, soft and
quiet, shy and affectionate, with a playful imp in her somewhere. He
watched this younger daughter of his through the duckling stage with
extraordinary interest. Would she come out a swan? With her sallow oval
face and her grey wistful eyes and those long dark lashes, she might, or
she might not. Only this last year had he been able to guess. Yes, she
would be a swan--rather a dark one, always a shy one, but an authentic
swan. She was eighteen now, and Mademoiselle Beauce was gone--the
excellent lady had removed, after eleven years haunted by her continuous
reminiscences of the 'well-brrred little Tayleurs,' to another
family whose bosom would now be agitated by her reminiscences of the
'well-brrred little Forsytes.' She had taught Holly to speak French like
herself.

Portraiture was not Jolyon's forte, but he had already drawn his younger
daughter three times, and was drawing her a fourth, on the afternoon
of October 4th, 1899, when a card was brought to him which caused his
eyebrows to go up:

        Mr. SOAMES FORSYTE

THE SHELTER, CONNOISSEURS CLUB, MAPLEDURHAM. ST. JAMES'S.

But here the Forsyte Saga must digress again....

To return from a long travel in Spain to a darkened house, to a little
daughter bewildered with tears, to the sight of a loved father lying
peaceful in his last sleep, had never been, was never likely to be,
forgotten by so impressionable and warm-hearted a man as Jolyon. A sense
as of mystery, too, clung to that sad day, and about the end of one
whose life had been so well-ordered, balanced, and above-board. It
seemed incredible that his father could thus have vanished without, as
it were, announcing his intention, without last words to his son, and
due farewells. And those incoherent allusions of little Holly to 'the
lady in grey,' of Mademoiselle Beauce to a Madame Errant (as it sounded)
involved all things in a mist, lifted a little when he read his father's
will and the codicil thereto. It had been his duty as executor of that
will and codicil to inform Irene, wife of his cousin Soames, of her life
interest in fifteen thousand pounds. He had called on her to explain
that the existing investment in India Stock, ear-marked to meet the
charge, would produce for her the interesting net sum of L430 odd a
year, clear of income tax. This was but the third time he had seen his
cousin Soames' wife--if indeed she was still his wife, of which he was
not quite sure. He remembered having seen her sitting in the Botanical
Gardens waiting for Bosinney--a passive, fascinating figure, reminding
him of Titian's 'Heavenly Love,' and again, when, charged by his father,
he had gone to Montpellier Square on the afternoon when Bosinney's
death was known. He still recalled vividly her sudden appearance in the
drawing-room doorway on that occasion--her beautiful face, passing from
wild eagerness of hope to stony despair; remembered the compassion he
had felt, Soames' snarling smile, his words, "We are not at home!" and
the slam of the front door.

This third time he saw a face and form more beautiful--freed from that
warp of wild hope and despair. Looking at her, he thought: 'Yes, you
are just what the Dad would have admired!' And the strange story of
his father's Indian summer became slowly clear to him. She spoke of old
Jolyon with reverence and tears in her eyes. "He was so wonderfully kind
to me; I don't know why. He looked so beautiful and peaceful sitting in
that chair under the tree; it was I who first came on him sitting
there, you know. Such a lovely day. I don't think an end could have been
happier. We should all like to go out like that."

'Quite right!' he had thought. 'We should all a like to go out in full
summer with beauty stepping towards us across a lawn.' And looking round
the little, almost empty drawing-room, he had asked her what she was
going to do now. "I am going to live again a little, Cousin Jolyon. It's
wonderful to have money of one's own. I've never had any. I shall keep
this flat, I think; I'm used to it; but I shall be able to go to Italy."

"Exactly!" Jolyon had murmured, looking at her faintly smiling lips; and
he had gone away thinking: 'A fascinating woman! What a waste! I'm
glad the Dad left her that money.' He had not seen her again, but every
quarter he had signed her cheque, forwarding it to her bank, with a
note to the Chelsea flat to say that he had done so; and always he
had received a note in acknowledgment, generally from the flat, but
sometimes from Italy; so that her personality had become embodied in
slightly scented grey paper, an upright fine handwriting, and the words,
'Dear Cousin Jolyon.' Man of property that he now was, the slender
cheque he signed often gave rise to the thought: 'Well, I suppose she
just manages'; sliding into a vague wonder how she was faring otherwise
in a world of men not wont to let beauty go unpossessed. At first
Holly had spoken of her sometimes, but 'ladies in grey' soon fade from
children's memories; and the tightening of June's lips in those first
weeks after her grandfather's death whenever her former friend's name
was mentioned, had discouraged allusion. Only once, indeed, had June
spoken definitely: "I've forgiven her. I'm frightfully glad she's
independent now...."

On receiving Soames' card, Jolyon said to the maid--for he could not
abide butlers--"Show him into the study, please, and say I'll be there
in a minute"; and then he looked at Holly and asked:

"Do you remember 'the lady in grey,' who used to give you
music-lessons?"

"Oh yes, why? Has she come?"

Jolyon shook his head, and, changing his holland blouse for a coat, was
silent, perceiving suddenly that such history was not for those young
ears. His face, in fact, became whimsical perplexity incarnate while he
journeyed towards the study.

Standing by the french-window, looking out across the terrace at the oak
tree, were two figures, middle-aged and young, and he thought: 'Who's
that boy? Surely they never had a child.'

The elder figure turned. The meeting of those two Forsytes of the second
generation, so much more sophisticated than the first, in the house
built for the one and owned and occupied by the other, was marked by
subtle defensiveness beneath distinct attempt at cordiality. 'Has he
come about his wife?' Jolyon was thinking; and Soames, 'How shall
I begin?' while Val, brought to break the ice, stood negligently
scrutinising this 'bearded pard' from under his dark, thick eyelashes.

"This is Val Dartie," said Soames, "my sister's son. He's just going up
to Oxford. I thought I'd like him to know your boy."

"Ah! I'm sorry Jolly's away. What college?"

"B.N.C.," replied Val.

"Jolly's at the 'House,' but he'll be delighted to look you up."

"Thanks awfully."

"Holly's in--if you could put up with a female relation, she'd show you
round. You'll find her in the hall if you go through the curtains. I was
just painting her."

With another "Thanks, awfully!" Val vanished, leaving the two cousins
with the ice unbroken.

"I see you've some drawings at the 'Water Colours,'" said Soames.

Jolyon winced. He had been out of touch with the Forsyte family at large
for twenty-six years, but they were connected in his mind with Frith's
'Derby Day' and Landseer prints. He had heard from June that Soames
was a connoisseur, which made it worse. He had become aware, too, of a
curious sensation of repugnance.

"I haven't seen you for a long time," he said.

"No," answered Soames between close lips, "not since--as a matter of
fact, it's about that I've come. You're her trustee, I'm told."

Jolyon nodded.

"Twelve years is a long time," said Soames rapidly: "I--I'm tired of
it."

Jolyon found no more appropriate answer than:

"Won't you smoke?"

"No, thanks."

Jolyon himself lit a cigarette.

"I wish to be free," said Soames abruptly.

"I don't see her," murmured Jolyon through the fume of his cigarette.

"But you know where she lives, I suppose?"

Jolyon nodded. He did not mean to give her address without permission.
Soames seemed to divine his thought.

"I don't want her address," he said; "I know it."

"What exactly do you want?"

"She deserted me. I want a divorce."

"Rather late in the day, isn't it?"

"Yes," said Soames. And there was a silence.

"I don't know much about these things--at least, I've forgotten," said
Jolyon with a wry smile. He himself had had to wait for death to grant
him a divorce from the first Mrs. Jolyon. "Do you wish me to see her
about it?"

Soames raised his eyes to his cousin's face. "I suppose there's
someone," he said.

A shrug moved Jolyon's shoulders.

"I don't know at all. I imagine you may have both lived as if the other
were dead. It's usual in these cases."

Soames turned to the window. A few early fallen oak-leaves strewed the
terrace already, and were rolling round in the wind. Jolyon saw the
figures of Holly and Val Dartie moving across the lawn towards the
stables. 'I'm not going to run with the hare and hunt with the hounds,'
he thought. 'I must act for her. The Dad would have wished that.' And
for a swift moment he seemed to see his father's figure in the old
armchair, just beyond Soames, sitting with knees crossed, The Times in
his hand. It vanished.

"My father was fond of her," he said quietly.

"Why he should have been I don't know," Soames answered without looking
round. "She brought trouble to your daughter June; she brought
trouble to everyone. I gave her all she wanted. I would have given her
even--forgiveness--but she chose to leave me."

In Jolyon compassion was checked by the tone of that close voice. What
was there in the fellow that made it so difficult to be sorry for him?

"I can go and see her, if you like," he said. "I suppose she might be
glad of a divorce, but I know nothing."

Soames nodded.

"Yes, please go. As I say, I know her address; but I've no wish to see
her." His tongue was busy with his lips, as if they were very dry.

"You'll have some tea?" said Jolyon, stifling the words: 'And see the
house.' And he led the way into the hall. When he had rung the bell and
ordered tea, he went to his easel to turn his drawing to the wall. He
could not bear, somehow, that his work should be seen by Soames, who was
standing there in the middle of the great room which had been designed
expressly to afford wall space for his own pictures. In his cousin's
face, with its unseizable family likeness to himself, and its chinny,
narrow, concentrated look, Jolyon saw that which moved him to the
thought: 'That chap could never forget anything--nor ever give himself
away. He's pathetic!'




CHAPTER VII--THE COLT AND THE FILLY

When young Val left the presence of the last generation he was thinking:
'This is jolly dull! Uncle Soames does take the bun. I wonder what this
filly's like?' He anticipated no pleasure from her society; and suddenly
he saw her standing there looking at him. Why, she was pretty! What
luck!

"I'm afraid you don't know me," he said. "My name's Val Dartie--I'm once
removed, second cousin, something like that, you know. My mother's name
was Forsyte."

Holly, whose slim brown hand remained in his because she was too shy to
withdraw it, said:

"I don't know any of my relations. Are there many?"

"Tons. They're awful--most of them. At least, I don't know--some of
them. One's relations always are, aren't they?"

"I expect they think one awful too," said Holly.

"I don't know why they should. No one could think you awful, of course."

Holly looked at him--the wistful candour in those grey eyes gave young
Val a sudden feeling that he must protect her.

"I mean there are people and people," he added astutely. "Your dad looks
awfully decent, for instance."

"Oh yes!" said Holly fervently; "he is."

A flush mounted in Val's cheeks--that scene in the Pandemonium
promenade--the dark man with the pink carnation developing into his own
father! "But you know what the Forsytes are," he said almost viciously.
"Oh! I forgot; you don't."

"What are they?"

"Oh! fearfully careful; not sportsmen a bit. Look at Uncle Soames!"

"I'd like to," said Holly.

Val resisted a desire to run his arm through hers. "Oh! no," he said,
"let's go out. You'll see him quite soon enough. What's your brother
like?"

Holly led the way on to the terrace and down to the lawn without
answering. How describe Jolly, who, ever since she remembered anything,
had been her lord, master, and ideal?

"Does he sit on you?" said Val shrewdly. "I shall be knowing him at
Oxford. Have you got any horses?"

Holly nodded. "Would you like to see the stables?"

"Rather!"

They passed under the oak tree, through a thin shrubbery, into the
stable-yard. There under a clock-tower lay a fluffy brown-and-white dog,
so old that he did not get up, but faintly waved the tail curled over
his back.

"That's Balthasar," said Holly; "he's so old--awfully old, nearly as old
as I am. Poor old boy! He's devoted to Dad."

"Balthasar! That's a rum name. He isn't purebred you know."

"No! but he's a darling," and she bent down to stroke the dog. Gentle
and supple, with dark covered head and slim browned neck and hands, she
seemed to Val strange and sweet, like a thing slipped between him and
all previous knowledge.

"When grandfather died," she said, "he wouldn't eat for two days. He saw
him die, you know."

"Was that old Uncle Jolyon? Mother always says he was a topper."

"He was," said Holly simply, and opened the stable door.

In a loose-box stood a silver roan of about fifteen hands, with a long
black tail and mane. "This is mine--Fairy."

"Ah!" said Val, "she's a jolly palfrey. But you ought to bang her tail.
She'd look much smarter." Then catching her wondering look, he thought
suddenly: 'I don't know--anything she likes!' And he took a long sniff
of the stable air. "Horses are ripping, aren't they? My Dad..." he
stopped.

"Yes?" said Holly.

An impulse to unbosom himself almost overcame him--but not quite. "Oh!
I don't know he's often gone a mucker over them. I'm jolly keen on them
too--riding and hunting. I like racing awfully, as well; I should like
to be a gentleman rider." And oblivious of the fact that he had but one
more day in town, with two engagements, he plumped out:

"I say, if I hire a gee to-morrow, will you come a ride in Richmond
Park?"

Holly clasped her hands.

"Oh yes! I simply love riding. But there's Jolly's horse; why don't you
ride him? Here he is. We could go after tea."

Val looked doubtfully at his trousered legs.

He had imagined them immaculate before her eyes in high brown boots and
Bedford cords.

"I don't much like riding his horse," he said. "He mightn't like it.
Besides, Uncle Soames wants to get back, I expect. Not that I believe
in buckling under to him, you know. You haven't got an uncle, have you?
This is rather a good beast," he added, scrutinising Jolly's horse, a
dark brown, which was showing the whites of its eyes. "You haven't got
any hunting here, I suppose?"

"No; I don't know that I want to hunt. It must be awfully exciting, of
course; but it's cruel, isn't it? June says so."

"Cruel?" ejaculated Val. "Oh! that's all rot. Who's June?"

"My sister--my half-sister, you know--much older than me." She had put
her hands up to both cheeks of Jolly's horse, and was rubbing her nose
against its nose with a gentle snuffling noise which seemed to have
an hypnotic effect on the animal. Val contemplated her cheek resting
against the horse's nose, and her eyes gleaming round at him. 'She's
really a duck,' he thought.

They returned to the house less talkative, followed this time by the
dog Balthasar, walking more slowly than anything on earth, and clearly
expecting them not to exceed his speed limit.

"This is a ripping place," said Val from under the oak tree, where they
had paused to allow the dog Balthasar to come up.

"Yes," said Holly, and sighed. "Of course I want to go everywhere. I
wish I were a gipsy."

"Yes, gipsies are jolly," replied Val, with a conviction which had just
come to him; "you're rather like one, you know."

Holly's face shone suddenly and deeply, like dark leaves gilded by the
sun.

"To go mad-rabbiting everywhere and see everything, and live in the
open--oh! wouldn't it be fun?"

"Let's do it!" said Val.

"Oh yes, let's!"

"It'd be grand sport, just you and I."

Then Holly perceived the quaintness and gushed.

"Well, we've got to do it," said Val obstinately, but reddening too.

"I believe in doing things you want to do. What's down there?"

"The kitchen-garden, and the pond and the coppice, and the farm."

"Let's go down!"

Holly glanced back at the house.

"It's tea-time, I expect; there's Dad beckoning."

Val, uttering a growly sound, followed her towards the house.

When they re-entered the hall gallery the sight of two middle-aged
Forsytes drinking tea together had its magical effect, and they became
quite silent. It was, indeed, an impressive spectacle. The two were
seated side by side on an arrangement in marqueterie which looked like
three silvery pink chairs made one, with a low tea-table in front of
them. They seemed to have taken up that position, as far apart as the
seat would permit, so that they need not look at each other too much;
and they were eating and drinking rather than talking--Soames with
his air of despising the tea-cake as it disappeared, Jolyon of finding
himself slightly amusing. To the casual eye neither would have seemed
greedy, but both were getting through a good deal of sustenance. The two
young ones having been supplied with food, the process went on silent
and absorbative, till, with the advent of cigarettes, Jolyon said to
Soames:

"And how's Uncle James?"

"Thanks, very shaky."

"We're a wonderful family, aren't we? The other day I was calculating
the average age of the ten old Forsytes from my father's family Bible.
I make it eighty-four already, and five still living. They ought to beat
the record;" and looking whimsically at Soames, he added:

"We aren't the men they were, you know."

Soames smiled. 'Do you really think I shall admit that I'm not their
equal'; he seemed to be saying, 'or that I've got to give up anything,
especially life?'

"We may live to their age, perhaps," pursued Jolyon, "but
self-consciousness is a handicap, you know, and that's the difference
between us. We've lost conviction. How and when self-consciousness was
born I never can make out. My father had a little, but I don't believe
any other of the old Forsytes ever had a scrap. Never to see yourself as
others see you, it's a wonderful preservative. The whole history of the
last century is in the difference between us. And between us and you,"
he added, gazing through a ring of smoke at Val and Holly, uncomfortable
under his quizzical regard, "there'll be--another difference. I wonder
what."

Soames took out his watch.

"We must go," he said, "if we're to catch our train."

"Uncle Soames never misses a train," muttered Val, with his mouth full.

"Why should I?" Soames answered simply.

"Oh! I don't know," grumbled Val, "other people do."

At the front door he gave Holly's slim brown hand a long and
surreptitious squeeze.

"Look out for me to-morrow," he whispered; "three o'clock. I'll wait for
you in the road; it'll save time. We'll have a ripping ride." He gazed
back at her from the lodge gate, and, but for the principles of a man
about town, would have waved his hand. He felt in no mood to tolerate
his uncle's conversation. But he was not in danger. Soames preserved a
perfect muteness, busy with far-away thoughts.

The yellow leaves came down about those two walking the mile and a half
which Soames had traversed so often in those long-ago days when he came
down to watch with secret pride the building of the house--that house
which was to have been the home of him and her from whom he was now
going to seek release. He looked back once, up that endless vista of
autumn lane between the yellowing hedges. What an age ago! "I don't want
to see her," he had said to Jolyon. Was that true? 'I may have to,' he
thought; and he shivered, seized by one of those queer shudderings that
they say mean footsteps on one's grave. A chilly world! A queer world!
And glancing sidelong at his nephew, he thought: 'Wish I were his age! I
wonder what she's like now!'




CHAPTER VIII--JOLYON PROSECUTES TRUSTEESHIP

When those two were gone Jolyon did not return to his painting, for
daylight was failing, but went to the study, craving unconsciously
a revival of that momentary vision of his father sitting in the old
leather chair with his knees crossed and his straight eyes gazing up
from under the dome of his massive brow. Often in this little room,
cosiest in the house, Jolyon would catch a moment of communion with his
father. Not, indeed, that he had definitely any faith in the persistence
of the human spirit--the feeling was not so logical--it was, rather,
an atmospheric impact, like a scent, or one of those strong animistic
impressions from forms, or effects of light, to which those with the
artist's eye are especially prone. Here only--in this little unchanged
room where his father had spent the most of his waking hours--could
be retrieved the feeling that he was not quite gone, that the steady
counsel of that old spirit and the warmth of his masterful lovability
endured.

What would his father be advising now, in this sudden recrudescence of
an old tragedy--what would he say to this menace against her to whom he
had taken such a fancy in the last weeks of his life? 'I must do my best
for her,' thought Jolyon; 'he left her to me in his will. But what is
the best?'

And as if seeking to regain the sapience, the balance and shrewd common
sense of that old Forsyte, he sat down in the ancient chair and
crossed his knees. But he felt a mere shadow sitting there; nor did any
inspiration come, while the fingers of the wind tapped on the darkening
panes of the french-window.

'Go and see her?' he thought, 'or ask her to come down here? What's her
life been? What is it now, I wonder? Beastly to rake up things at this
time of day.' Again the figure of his cousin standing with a hand on a
front door of a fine olive-green leaped out, vivid, like one of those
figures from old-fashioned clocks when the hour strikes; and his words
sounded in Jolyon's ears clearer than any chime: "I manage my own
affairs. I've told you once, I tell you again: We are not at home." The
repugnance he had then felt for Soames--for his flat-cheeked, shaven
face full of spiritual bull-doggedness; for his spare, square,
sleek figure slightly crouched as it were over the bone he could not
digest--came now again, fresh as ever, nay, with an odd increase. 'I
dislike him,' he thought, 'I dislike him to the very roots of me.
And that's lucky; it'll make it easier for me to back his wife.'
Half-artist, and half-Forsyte, Jolyon was constitutionally averse from
what he termed 'ructions'; unless angered, he conformed deeply to that
classic description of the she-dog, 'Er'd ruther run than fight.' A
little smile became settled in his beard. Ironical that Soames should
come down here--to this house, built for himself! How he had gazed and
gaped at this ruin of his past intention; furtively nosing at the walls
and stairway, appraising everything! And intuitively Jolyon thought: 'I
believe the fellow even now would like to be living here. He could never
leave off longing for what he once owned! Well, I must act, somehow or
other; but it's a bore--a great bore.'

Late that evening he wrote to the Chelsea flat, asking if Irene would
see him.

The old century which had seen the plant of individualism flower so
wonderfully was setting in a sky orange with coming storms. Rumours of
war added to the briskness of a London turbulent at the close of the
summer holidays. And the streets to Jolyon, who was not often up in
town, had a feverish look, due to these new motorcars and cabs, of which
he disapproved aesthetically. He counted these vehicles from his hansom,
and made the proportion of them one in twenty. 'They were one in thirty
about a year ago,' he thought; 'they've come to stay. Just so much more
rattling round of wheels and general stink'--for he was one of those
rather rare Liberals who object to anything new when it takes a material
form; and he instructed his driver to get down to the river quickly,
out of the traffic, desiring to look at the water through the mellowing
screen of plane-trees. At the little block of flats which stood back
some fifty yards from the Embankment, he told the cabman to wait, and
went up to the first floor.

Yes, Mrs. Heron was at home!

The effect of a settled if very modest income was at once apparent to
him remembering the threadbare refinement in that tiny flat eight
years ago when he announced her good fortune. Everything was now fresh,
dainty, and smelled of flowers. The general effect was silvery with
touches of black, hydrangea colour, and gold. 'A woman of great taste,'
he thought. Time had dealt gently with Jolyon, for he was a Forsyte.
But with Irene Time hardly seemed to deal at all, or such was his
impression. She appeared to him not a day older, standing there in
mole-coloured velvet corduroy, with soft dark eyes and dark gold hair,
with outstretched hand and a little smile.

"Won't you sit down?"

He had probably never occupied a chair with a fuller sense of
embarrassment.

"You look absolutely unchanged," he said.

"And you look younger, Cousin Jolyon."

Jolyon ran his hands through his hair, whose thickness was still a
comfort to him.

"I'm ancient, but I don't feel it. That's one thing about painting, it
keeps you young. Titian lived to ninety-nine, and had to have plague to
kill him off. Do you know, the first time I ever saw you I thought of a
picture by him?"

"When did you see me for the first time?"

"In the Botanical Gardens."

"How did you know me, if you'd never seen me before?"

"By someone who came up to you." He was looking at her hardily, but her
face did not change; and she said quietly:

"Yes; many lives ago."

"What is your recipe for youth, Irene?"

"People who don't live are wonderfully preserved."

H'm! a bitter little saying! People who don't live! But an opening, and
he took it. "You remember my Cousin Soames?"

He saw her smile faintly at that whimsicality, and at once went on:

"He came to see me the day before yesterday! He wants a divorce. Do
you?"

"I?" The word seemed startled out of her. "After twelve years? It's
rather late. Won't it be difficult?"

Jolyon looked hard into her face. "Unless...." he said.

"Unless I have a lover now. But I have never had one since."

What did he feel at the simplicity and candour of those words? Relief,
surprise, pity! Venus for twelve years without a lover!

"And yet," he said, "I suppose you would give a good deal to be free,
too?"

"I don't know. What does it matter, now?"

"But if you were to love again?"

"I should love." In that simple answer she seemed to sum up the whole
philosophy of one on whom the world had turned its back.

"Well! Is there anything you would like me to say to him?"

"Only that I'm sorry he's not free. He had his chance once. I don't know
why he didn't take it."

"Because he was a Forsyte; we never part with things, you know, unless
we want something in their place; and not always then."

Irene smiled. "Don't you, Cousin Jolyon?--I think you do."

"Of course, I'm a bit of a mongrel--not quite a pure Forsyte. I never
take the halfpennies off my cheques, I put them on," said Jolyon
uneasily.

"Well, what does Soames want in place of me now?"

"I don't know; perhaps children."

She was silent for a little, looking down.

"Yes," she murmured; "it's hard. I would help him to be free if I
could."

Jolyon gazed into his hat, his embarrassment was increasing fast; so
was his admiration, his wonder, and his pity. She was so lovely, and so
lonely; and altogether it was such a coil!

"Well," he said, "I shall have to see Soames. If there's anything I
can do for you I'm always at your service. You must think of me as a
wretched substitute for my father. At all events I'll let you know what
happens when I speak to Soames. He may supply the material himself."

She shook her head.

"You see, he has a lot to lose; and I have nothing. I should like him to
be free; but I don't see what I can do."

"Nor I at the moment," said Jolyon, and soon after took his leave. He
went down to his hansom. Half-past three! Soames would be at his office
still.

"To the Poultry," he called through the trap. In front of the Houses of
Parliament and in Whitehall, newsvendors were calling, "Grave situation
in the Transvaal!" but the cries hardly roused him, absorbed in
recollection of that very beautiful figure, of her soft dark glance, and
the words: "I have never had one since." What on earth did such a woman
do with her life, back-watered like this? Solitary, unprotected, with
every man's hand against her or rather--reaching out to grasp her at the
least sign. And year after year she went on like that!

The word 'Poultry' above the passing citizens brought him back to
reality.

'Forsyte, Bustard and Forsyte,' in black letters on a ground the colour
of peasoup, spurred him to a sort of vigour, and he went up the stone
stairs muttering: "Fusty musty ownerships! Well, we couldn't do without
them!"

"I want Mr. Soames Forsyte," he said to the boy who opened the door.

"What name?"

"Mr. Jolyon Forsyte."

The youth looked at him curiously, never having seen a Forsyte with a
beard, and vanished.

The offices of 'Forsyte, Bustard and Forsyte' had slowly absorbed the
offices of 'Tooting and Bowles,' and occupied the whole of the first
floor.

The firm consisted now of nothing but Soames and a number of managing
and articled clerks. The complete retirement of James some six years
ago had accelerated business, to which the final touch of speed had been
imparted when Bustard dropped off, worn out, as many believed, by the
suit of 'Fryer versus Forsyte,' more in Chancery than ever and less
likely to benefit its beneficiaries. Soames, with his saner grasp of
actualities, had never permitted it to worry him; on the contrary, he
had long perceived that Providence had presented him therein with L200 a
year net in perpetuity, and--why not?

When Jolyon entered, his cousin was drawing out a list of holdings in
Consols, which in view of the rumours of war he was going to advise his
companies to put on the market at once, before other companies did the
same. He looked round, sidelong, and said:

"How are you? Just one minute. Sit down, won't you?" And having entered
three amounts, and set a ruler to keep his place, he turned towards
Jolyon, biting the side of his flat forefinger....

"Yes?" he said.

"I have seen her."

Soames frowned.

"Well?"

"She has remained faithful to memory."

Having said that, Jolyon was ashamed. His cousin had flushed a dusky
yellowish red. What had made him tease the poor brute!

"I was to tell you she is sorry you are not free. Twelve years is a long
time. You know your law, and what chance it gives you." Soames uttered
a curious little grunt, and the two remained a full minute without
speaking. 'Like wax!' thought Jolyon, watching that close face, where
the flush was fast subsiding. 'He'll never give me a sign of what he's
thinking, or going to do. Like wax!' And he transferred his gaze to a
plan of that flourishing town, 'By-Street on Sea,' the future existence
of which lay exposed on the wall to the possessive instincts of the
firm's clients. The whimsical thought flashed through him: 'I wonder if
I shall get a bill of costs for this--"To attending Mr. Jolyon Forsyte
in the matter of my divorce, to receiving his account of his visit to
my wife, and to advising him to go and see her again, sixteen and
eightpence."'

Suddenly Soames said: "I can't go on like this. I tell you, I can't
go on like this." His eyes were shifting from side to side, like an
animal's when it looks for way of escape. 'He really suffers,' thought
Jolyon; 'I've no business to forget that, just because I don't like
him.'

"Surely," he said gently, "it lies with yourself. A man can always put
these things through if he'll take it on himself."

Soames turned square to him, with a sound which seemed to come from
somewhere very deep.

"Why should I suffer more than I've suffered already? Why should I?"

Jolyon could only shrug his shoulders. His reason agreed, his instinct
rebelled; he could not have said why.

"Your father," went on Soames, "took an interest in her--why, goodness
knows! And I suppose you do too?" he gave Jolyon a sharp look. "It seems
to me that one only has to do another person a wrong to get all the
sympathy. I don't know in what way I was to blame--I've never known.
I always treated her well. I gave her everything she could wish for. I
wanted her."

Again Jolyon's reason nodded; again his instinct shook its head. 'What
is it?' he thought; 'there must be something wrong in me. Yet if there
is, I'd rather be wrong than right.'

"After all," said Soames with a sort of glum fierceness, "she was my
wife."

In a flash the thought went through his listener: 'There it is!
Ownerships! Well, we all own things. But--human beings! Pah!'

"You have to look at facts," he said drily, "or rather the want of
them."

Soames gave him another quick suspicious look.

"The want of them?" he said. "Yes, but I am not so sure."

"I beg your pardon," replied Jolyon; "I've told you what she said. It
was explicit."

"My experience has not been one to promote blind confidence in her word.
We shall see."

Jolyon got up.

"Good-bye," he said curtly.

"Good-bye," returned Soames; and Jolyon went out trying to understand
the look, half-startled, half-menacing, on his cousin's face. He sought
Waterloo Station in a disturbed frame of mind, as though the skin of
his moral being had been scraped; and all the way down in the train he
thought of Irene in her lonely flat, and of Soames in his lonely
office, and of the strange paralysis of life that lay on them both.
'In chancery!' he thought. 'Both their necks in chancery--and her's so
pretty!'




CHAPTER IX--VAL HEARS THE NEWS

The keeping of engagements had not as yet been a conspicuous feature in
the life of young Val Dartie, so that when he broke two and kept one,
it was the latter event which caused him, if anything, the greater
surprise, while jogging back to town from Robin Hill after his ride with
Holly. She had been even prettier than he had thought her yesterday,
on her silver-roan, long-tailed 'palfrey'; and it seemed to him,
self-critical in the brumous October gloaming and the outskirts
of London, that only his boots had shone throughout their two-hour
companionship. He took out his new gold 'hunter'--present from
James--and looked not at the time, but at sections of his face in the
glittering back of its opened case. He had a temporary spot over one
eyebrow, and it displeased him, for it must have displeased her. Crum
never had any spots. Together with Crum rose the scene in the promenade
of the Pandemonium. To-day he had not had the faintest desire to
unbosom himself to Holly about his father. His father lacked poetry,
the stirrings of which he was feeling for the first time in his nineteen
years. The Liberty, with Cynthia Dark, that almost mythical embodiment
of rapture; the Pandemonium, with the woman of uncertain age--both
seemed to Val completely 'off,' fresh from communion with this new, shy,
dark-haired young cousin of his. She rode 'Jolly well,' too, so that it
had been all the more flattering that she had let him lead her where he
would in the long gallops of Richmond Park, though she knew them so
much better than he did. Looking back on it all, he was mystified by
the barrenness of his speech; he felt that he could say 'an awful lot of
fetching things' if he had but the chance again, and the thought that
he must go back to Littlehampton on the morrow, and to Oxford on the
twelfth--'to that beastly exam,' too--without the faintest chance of
first seeing her again, caused darkness to settle on his spirit even
more quickly than on the evening. He should write to her, however, and
she had promised to answer. Perhaps, too, she would come up to Oxford to
see her brother. That thought was like the first star, which came out as
he rode into Padwick's livery stables in the purlieus of Sloane Square.
He got off and stretched himself luxuriously, for he had ridden some
twenty-five good miles. The Dartie within him made him chaffer for
five minutes with young Padwick concerning the favourite for the
Cambridgeshire; then with the words, "Put the gee down to my account,"
he walked away, a little wide at the knees, and flipping his boots with
his knotty little cane. 'I don't feel a bit inclined to go out,' he
thought. 'I wonder if mother will stand fizz for my last night!' With
'fizz' and recollection, he could well pass a domestic evening.

When he came down, speckless after his bath, he found his mother
scrupulous in a low evening dress, and, to his annoyance, his Uncle
Soames. They stopped talking when he came in; then his uncle said:

"He'd better be told."

At those words, which meant something about his father, of course, Val's
first thought was of Holly. Was it anything beastly? His mother began
speaking.

"Your father," she said in her fashionably appointed voice, while her
fingers plucked rather pitifully at sea-green brocade, "your father, my
dear boy, has--is not at Newmarket; he's on his way to South America.
He--he's left us."

Val looked from her to Soames. Left them! Was he sorry? Was he fond of
his father? It seemed to him that he did not know. Then, suddenly--as at
a whiff of gardenias and cigars--his heart twitched within him, and
he was sorry. One's father belonged to one, could not go off in this
fashion--it was not done! Nor had he always been the 'bounder' of the
Pandemonium promenade. There were precious memories of tailors' shops
and horses, tips at school, and general lavish kindness, when in luck.

"But why?" he said. Then, as a sportsman himself, was sorry he had
asked. The mask of his mother's face was all disturbed; and he burst
out:

"All right, Mother, don't tell me! Only, what does it mean?"

"A divorce, Val, I'm afraid."

Val uttered a queer little grunt, and looked quickly at his uncle--that
uncle whom he had been taught to look on as a guarantee against the
consequences of having a father, even against the Dartie blood in his
own veins. The flat-checked visage seemed to wince, and this upset him.

"It won't be public, will it?"

So vividly before him had come recollection of his own eyes glued to the
unsavoury details of many a divorce suit in the Public Press.

"Can't it be done quietly somehow? It's so disgusting for--for mother,
and--and everybody."

"Everything will be done as quietly as it can, you may be sure."

"Yes--but, why is it necessary at all? Mother doesn't want to marry
again."

Himself, the girls, their name tarnished in the sight of his
schoolfellows and of Crum, of the men at Oxford, of--Holly! Unbearable!
What was to be gained by it?

"Do you, Mother?" he said sharply.

Thus brought face to face with so much of her own feeling by the one she
loved best in the world, Winifred rose from the Empire chair in which
she had been sitting. She saw that her son would be against her unless
he was told everything; and, yet, how could she tell him? Thus, still
plucking at the green brocade, she stared at Soames. Val, too, stared
at Soames. Surely this embodiment of respectability and the sense of
property could not wish to bring such a slur on his own sister!

Soames slowly passed a little inlaid paperknife over the smooth surface
of a marqueterie table; then, without looking at his nephew, he began:

"You don't understand what your mother has had to put up with these
twenty years. This is only the last straw, Val." And glancing up
sideways at Winifred, he added:

"Shall I tell him?"

Winifred was silent. If he were not told, he would be against her! Yet,
how dreadful to be told such things of his own father! Clenching her
lips, she nodded.

Soames spoke in a rapid, even voice:

"He has always been a burden round your mother's neck. She has paid
his debts over and over again; he has often been drunk, abused and
threatened her; and now he is gone to Buenos Aires with a dancer." And,
as if distrusting the efficacy of those words on the boy, he went on
quickly:

"He took your mother's pearls to give to her."

Val jerked up his hand, then. At that signal of distress Winifred cried
out:

"That'll do, Soames--stop!"

In the boy, the Dartie and the Forsyte were struggling. For debts,
drink, dancers, he had a certain sympathy; but the pearls--no! That was
too much! And suddenly he found his mother's hand squeezing his.

"You see," he heard Soames say, "we can't have it all begin over again.
There's a limit; we must strike while the iron's hot."

Val freed his hand.

"But--you're--never going to bring out that about the pearls! I couldn't
stand that--I simply couldn't!"

Winifred cried out:

"No, no, Val--oh no! That's only to show you how impossible your father
is!" And his uncle nodded. Somewhat assuaged, Val took out a
cigarette. His father had bought him that thin curved case. Oh! it was
unbearable--just as he was going up to Oxford!

"Can't mother be protected without?" he said. "I could look after her.
It could always be done later if it was really necessary."

A smile played for a moment round Soames' lips, and became bitter.

"You don't know what you're talking of; nothing's so fatal as delay in
such matters."

"Why?"

"I tell you, boy, nothing's so fatal. I know from experience."

His voice had the ring of exasperation. Val regarded him round-eyed,
never having known his uncle express any sort of feeling. Oh! Yes--he
remembered now--there had been an Aunt Irene, and something had
happened--something which people kept dark; he had heard his father once
use an unmentionable word of her.

"I don't want to speak ill of your father," Soames went on doggedly,
"but I know him well enough to be sure that he'll be back on your
mother's hands before a year's over. You can imagine what that will mean
to her and to all of you after this. The only thing is to cut the knot
for good."

In spite of himself, Val was impressed; and, happening to look at his
mother's face, he got what was perhaps his first real insight into the
fact that his own feelings were not always what mattered most.

"All right, mother," he said; "we'll back you up. Only I'd like to know
when it'll be. It's my first term, you know. I don't want to be up there
when it comes off."

"Oh! my dear boy," murmured Winifred, "it is a bore for you." So, by
habit, she phrased what, from the expression of her face, was the most
poignant regret. "When will it be, Soames?"

"Can't tell--not for months. We must get restitution first."

'What the deuce is that?' thought Val. 'What silly brutes lawyers are!
Not for months! I know one thing: I'm not going to dine in!' And he
said:

"Awfully sorry, mother, I've got to go out to dinner now."

Though it was his last night, Winifred nodded almost gratefully; they
both felt that they had gone quite far enough in the expression of
feeling.

Val sought the misty freedom of Green Street, reckless and depressed.
And not till he reached Piccadilly did he discover that he had only
eighteen-pence. One couldn't dine off eighteen-pence, and he was very
hungry. He looked longingly at the windows of the Iseeum Club, where he
had often eaten of the best with his father! Those pearls! There was no
getting over them! But the more he brooded and the further he walked the
hungrier he naturally became. Short of trailing home, there were only
two places where he could go--his grandfather's in Park Lane, and
Timothy's in the Bayswater Road. Which was the less deplorable? At his
grandfather's he would probably get a better dinner on the spur of the
moment. At Timothy's they gave you a jolly good feed when they expected
you, not otherwise. He decided on Park Lane, not unmoved by the thought
that to go up to Oxford without affording his grandfather a chance to
tip him was hardly fair to either of them. His mother would hear he had
been there, of course, and might think it funny; but he couldn't help
that. He rang the bell.

"Hullo, Warmson, any dinner for me, d'you think?"

"They're just going in, Master Val. Mr. Forsyte will be very glad to see
you. He was saying at lunch that he never saw you nowadays."

Val grinned.

"Well, here I am. Kill the fatted calf, Warmson, let's have fizz."

Warmson smiled faintly--in his opinion Val was a young limb.

"I will ask Mrs. Forsyte, Master Val."

"I say," Val grumbled, taking off his overcoat, "I'm not at school any
more, you know."

Warmson, not without a sense of humour, opened the door beyond the
stag's-horn coat stand, with the words:

"Mr. Valerus, ma'am."

"Confound him!" thought Val, entering.

A warm embrace, a "Well, Val!" from Emily, and a rather quavery "So
there you are at last!" from James, restored his sense of dignity.

"Why didn't you let us know? There's only saddle of mutton. Champagne,
Warmson," said Emily. And they went in.

At the great dining-table, shortened to its utmost, under which so many
fashionable legs had rested, James sat at one end, Emily at the other,
Val half-way between them; and something of the loneliness of his
grandparents, now that all their four children were flown, reached the
boy's spirit. 'I hope I shall kick the bucket long before I'm as old as
grandfather,' he thought. 'Poor old chap, he's as thin as a rail!' And
lowering his voice while his grandfather and Warmson were in discussion
about sugar in the soup, he said to Emily:

"It's pretty brutal at home, Granny. I suppose you know."

"Yes, dear boy."

"Uncle Soames was there when I left. I say, isn't there anything to be
done to prevent a divorce? Why is he so beastly keen on it?"

"Hush, my dear!" murmured Emily; "we're keeping it from your
grandfather."

James' voice sounded from the other end.

"What's that? What are you talking about?"

"About Val's college," returned Emily. "Young Pariser was there, James;
you remember--he nearly broke the Bank at Monte Carlo afterwards."

James muttered that he did not know--Val must look after himself up
there, or he'd get into bad ways. And he looked at his grandson with
gloom, out of which affection distrustfully glimmered.

"What I'm afraid of," said Val to his plate, "is of being hard up, you
know."

By instinct he knew that the weak spot in that old man was fear of
insecurity for his grandchildren.

"Well," said James, and the soup in his spoon dribbled over, "you'll
have a good allowance; but you must keep within it."

"Of course," murmured Val; "if it is good. How much will it be,
Grandfather?"

"Three hundred and fifty; it's too much. I had next to nothing at your
age."

Val sighed. He had hoped for four, and been afraid of three. "I don't
know what your young cousin has," said James; "he's up there. His
father's a rich man."

"Aren't you?" asked Val hardily.

"I?" replied James, flustered. "I've got so many expenses. Your
father...." and he was silent.

"Cousin Jolyon's got an awfully jolly place. I went down there with
Uncle Soames--ripping stables."

"Ah!" murmured James profoundly. "That house--I knew how it would be!"
And he lapsed into gloomy meditation over his fish-bones. His son's
tragedy, and the deep cleavage it had caused in the Forsyte family,
had still the power to draw him down into a whirlpool of doubts and
misgivings. Val, who hankered to talk of Robin Hill, because Robin Hill
meant Holly, turned to Emily and said:

"Was that the house built for Uncle Soames?" And, receiving her nod,
went on: "I wish you'd tell me about him, Granny. What became of Aunt
Irene? Is she still going? He seems awfully worked-up about something
to-night."

Emily laid her finger on her lips, but the word Irene had caught James'
ear.

"What's that?" he said, staying a piece of mutton close to his lips.
"Who's been seeing her? I knew we hadn't heard the last of that."

"Now, James," said Emily, "eat your dinner. Nobody's been seeing
anybody."

James put down his fork.

"There you go," he said. "I might die before you'd tell me of it. Is
Soames getting a divorce?"

"Nonsense," said Emily with incomparable aplomb; "Soames is much too
sensible."

James had sought his own throat, gathering the long white whiskers
together on the skin and bone of it.

"She--she was always...." he said, and with that enigmatic remark the
conversation lapsed, for Warmson had returned. But later, when the
saddle of mutton had been succeeded by sweet, savoury, and dessert,
and Val had received a cheque for twenty pounds and his grandfather's
kiss--like no other kiss in the world, from lips pushed out with a sort
of fearful suddenness, as if yielding to weakness--he returned to the
charge in the hall.

"Tell us about Uncle Soames, Granny. Why is he so keen on mother's
getting a divorce?"

"Your Uncle Soames," said Emily, and her voice had in it an exaggerated
assurance, "is a lawyer, my dear boy. He's sure to know best."

"Is he?" muttered Val. "But what did become of Aunt Irene? I remember
she was jolly good-looking."

"She--er...." said Emily, "behaved very badly. We don't talk about it."

"Well, I don't want everybody at Oxford to know about our affairs,"
ejaculated Val; "it's a brutal idea. Why couldn't father be prevented
without its being made public?"

Emily sighed. She had always lived rather in an atmosphere of divorce,
owing to her fashionable proclivities--so many of those whose legs had
been under her table having gained a certain notoriety. When, however,
it touched her own family, she liked it no better than other people. But
she was eminently practical, and a woman of courage, who never pursued a
shadow in preference to its substance.

"Your mother," she said, "will be happier if she's quite free, Val.
Good-night, my dear boy; and don't wear loud waistcoats up at Oxford,
they're not the thing just now. Here's a little present."

With another five pounds in his hand, and a little warmth in his heart,
for he was fond of his grandmother, he went out into Park Lane. A wind
had cleared the mist, the autumn leaves were rustling, and the stars
were shining. With all that money in his pocket an impulse to 'see
life' beset him; but he had not gone forty yards in the direction of
Piccadilly when Holly's shy face, and her eyes with an imp dancing in
their gravity, came up before him, and his hand seemed to be tingling
again from the pressure of her warm gloved hand. 'No, dash it!' he
thought, 'I'm going home!'




CHAPTER X--SOAMES ENTERTAINS THE FUTURE

It was full late for the river, but the weather was lovely, and summer
lingered below the yellowing leaves. Soames took many looks at the day
from his riverside garden near Mapledurham that Sunday morning.

With his own hands he put flowers about his little house-boat, and
equipped the punt, in which, after lunch, he proposed to take them on
the river. Placing those Chinese-looking cushions, he could not
tell whether or no he wished to take Annette alone. She was so very
pretty--could he trust himself not to say irrevocable words, passing
beyond the limits of discretion? Roses on the veranda were still in
bloom, and the hedges ever-green, so that there was almost nothing
of middle-aged autumn to chill the mood; yet was he nervous, fidgety,
strangely distrustful of his powers to steer just the right course. This
visit had been planned to produce in Annette and her mother a due sense
of his possessions, so that they should be ready to receive with respect
any overture he might later be disposed to make. He dressed with great
care, making himself neither too young nor too old, very thankful that
his hair was still thick and smooth and had no grey in it. Three times
he went up to his picture-gallery. If they had any knowledge at all,
they must see at once that his collection alone was worth at least
thirty thousand pounds. He minutely inspected, too, the pretty bedroom
overlooking the river where they would take off their hats. It would
be her bedroom if--if the matter went through, and she became his
wife. Going up to the dressing-table he passed his hand over the
lilac-coloured pincushion, into which were stuck all kinds of pins;
a bowl of pot-pourri exhaled a scent that made his head turn just a
little. His wife! If only the whole thing could be settled out of hand,
and there was not the nightmare of this divorce to be gone through
first; and with gloom puckered on his forehead, he looked out at the
river shining beyond the roses and the lawn. Madame Lamotte would never
resist this prospect for her child; Annette would never resist her
mother. If only he were free! He drove to the station to meet them. What
taste Frenchwomen had! Madame Lamotte was in black with touches of lilac
colour, Annette in greyish lilac linen, with cream coloured gloves and
hat. Rather pale she looked and Londony; and her blue eyes were demure.
Waiting for them to come down to lunch, Soames stood in the open
french-window of the diningroom moved by that sensuous delight in
sunshine and flowers and trees which only came to the full when youth
and beauty were there to share it with one. He had ordered the lunch
with intense consideration; the wine was a very special Sauterne, the
whole appointments of the meal perfect, the coffee served on the veranda
super-excellent. Madame Lamotte accepted creme de menthe; Annette
refused. Her manners were charming, with just a suspicion of 'the
conscious beauty' creeping into them. 'Yes,' thought Soames, 'another
year of London and that sort of life, and she'll be spoiled.'

Madame was in sedate French raptures. "Adorable! Le soleil est si bon!
How everything is chic, is it not, Annette? Monsieur is a real Monte
Cristo." Annette murmured assent, with a look up at Soames which he
could not read. He proposed a turn on the river. But to punt two persons
when one of them looked so ravishing on those Chinese cushions was
merely to suffer from a sense of lost opportunity; so they went but a
short way towards Pangbourne, drifting slowly back, with every now
and then an autumn leaf dropping on Annette or on her mother's
black amplitude. And Soames was not happy, worried by the thought:
'How--when--where--can I say--what?' They did not yet even know that
he was married. To tell them he was married might jeopardise his every
chance; yet, if he did not definitely make them understand that he
wished for Annette's hand, it would be dropping into some other clutch
before he was free to claim it.

At tea, which they both took with lemon, Soames spoke of the Transvaal.

"There'll be war," he said.

Madame Lamotte lamented.

"Ces pauvres gens bergers!" Could they not be left to themselves?

Soames smiled--the question seemed to him absurd.

Surely as a woman of business she understood that the British could not
abandon their legitimate commercial interests.

"Ah! that!" But Madame Lamotte found that the English were a little
hypocrite. They were talking of justice and the Uitlanders, not of
business. Monsieur was the first who had spoken to her of that.

"The Boers are only half-civilised," remarked Soames; "they stand in the
way of progress. It will never do to let our suzerainty go."

"What does that mean to say? Suzerainty!"

"What a strange word!" Soames became eloquent, roused by these threats
to the principle of possession, and stimulated by Annette's eyes fixed
on him. He was delighted when presently she said:

"I think Monsieur is right. They should be taught a lesson." She was
sensible!

"Of course," he said, "we must act with moderation. I'm no jingo. We
must be firm without bullying. Will you come up and see my pictures?"
Moving from one to another of these treasures, he soon perceived that
they knew nothing. They passed his last Mauve, that remarkable study of
a 'Hay-cart going Home,' as if it were a lithograph. He waited almost
with awe to see how they would view the jewel of his collection--an
Israels whose price he had watched ascending till he was now almost
certain it had reached top value, and would be better on the market
again. They did not view it at all. This was a shock; and yet to have in
Annette a virgin taste to form would be better than to have the silly,
half-baked predilections of the English middle-class to deal with.
At the end of the gallery was a Meissonier of which he was rather
ashamed--Meissonier was so steadily going down. Madame Lamotte stopped
before it.

"Meissonier! Ah! What a jewel!" Soames took advantage of that moment.
Very gently touching Annette's arm, he said:

"How do you like my place, Annette?"

She did not shrink, did not respond; she looked at him full, looked
down, and murmured:

"Who would not like it? It is so beautiful!"

"Perhaps some day--" Soames said, and stopped.

So pretty she was, so self-possessed--she frightened him. Those
cornflower-blue eyes, the turn of that creamy neck, her delicate
curves--she was a standing temptation to indiscretion! No! No! One must
be sure of one's ground--much surer! 'If I hold off,' he thought, 'it
will tantalise her.' And he crossed over to Madame Lamotte, who was
still in front of the Meissonier.

"Yes, that's quite a good example of his later work. You must come
again, Madame, and see them lighted up. You must both come and spend a
night."

Enchanted, would it not be beautiful to see them lighted? By moonlight
too, the river must be ravishing!

Annette murmured:

"Thou art sentimental, Maman!"

Sentimental! That black-robed, comely, substantial Frenchwoman of the
world! And suddenly he was certain as he could be that there was no
sentiment in either of them. All the better. Of what use sentiment? And
yet...!

He drove to the station with them, and saw them into the train. To
the tightened pressure of his hand it seemed that Annette's fingers
responded just a little; her face smiled at him through the dark.

He went back to the carriage, brooding. "Go on home, Jordan," he said to
the coachman; "I'll walk." And he strode out into the darkening lanes,
caution and the desire of possession playing see-saw within him. 'Bon
soir, monsieur!' How softly she had said it. To know what was in her
mind! The French--they were like cats--one could tell nothing! But--how
pretty! What a perfect young thing to hold in one's arms! What a mother
for his heir! And he thought, with a smile, of his family and their
surprise at a French wife, and their curiosity, and of the way he would
play with it and buffet it confound them!

The poplars sighed in the darkness; an owl hooted. Shadows deepened in
the water. 'I will and must be free,' he thought. 'I won't hang about
any longer. I'll go and see Irene. If you want things done, do them
yourself. I must live again--live and move and have my being.' And in
echo to that queer biblicality church-bells chimed the call to evening
prayer.




CHAPTER XI--AND VISITS THE PAST

On a Tuesday evening after dining at his club Soames set out to do what
required more courage and perhaps less delicacy than anything he had yet
undertaken in his life--save perhaps his birth, and one other action.
He chose the evening, indeed, partly because Irene was more likely to
be in, but mainly because he had failed to find sufficient resolution by
daylight, had needed wine to give him extra daring.

He left his hansom on the Embankment, and walked up to the Old Church,
uncertain of the block of flats where he knew she lived. He found it
hiding behind a much larger mansion; and having read the name, 'Mrs.
Irene Heron'--Heron, forsooth! Her maiden name: so she used that again,
did she?--he stepped back into the road to look up at the windows of the
first floor. Light was coming through in the corner fiat, and he
could hear a piano being played. He had never had a love of music, had
secretly borne it a grudge in the old days when so often she had turned
to her piano, making of it a refuge place into which she knew he could
not enter. Repulse! The long repulse, at first restrained and secret, at
last open! Bitter memory came with that sound. It must be she playing,
and thus almost assured of seeing her, he stood more undecided than
ever. Shivers of anticipation ran through him; his tongue felt dry, his
heart beat fast. 'I have no cause to be afraid,' he thought. And then
the lawyer stirred within him. Was he doing a foolish thing? Ought he
not to have arranged a formal meeting in the presence of her trustee?
No! Not before that fellow Jolyon, who sympathised with her! Never! He
crossed back into the doorway, and, slowly, to keep down the beating of
his heart, mounted the single flight of stairs and rang the bell. When
the door was opened to him his sensations were regulated by the scent
which came--that perfume--from away back in the past, bringing muffled
remembrance: fragrance of a drawing-room he used to enter, of a house he
used to own--perfume of dried rose-leaves and honey!

"Say, Mr. Forsyte," he said, "your mistress will see me, I know." He had
thought this out; she would think it was Jolyon!

When the maid was gone and he was alone in the tiny hall, where
the light was dim from one pearly-shaded sconce, and walls, carpet,
everything was silvery, making the walled-in space all ghostly, he could
only think ridiculously: 'Shall I go in with my overcoat on, or take it
off?' The music ceased; the maid said from the doorway:

"Will you walk in, sir?"

Soames walked in. He noted mechanically that all was still silvery,
and that the upright piano was of satinwood. She had risen and stood
recoiled against it; her hand, placed on the keys as if groping for
support, had struck a sudden discord, held for a moment, and released.
The light from the shaded piano-candle fell on her neck, leaving her
face rather in shadow. She was in a black evening dress, with a sort of
mantilla over her shoulders--he did not remember ever having seen her in
black, and the thought passed through him: 'She dresses even when she's
alone.'

"You!" he heard her whisper.

Many times Soames had rehearsed this scene in fancy. Rehearsal served
him not at all. He simply could not speak. He had never thought that
the sight of this woman whom he had once so passionately desired, so
completely owned, and whom he had not seen for twelve years, could
affect him in this way. He had imagined himself speaking and acting,
half as man of business, half as judge. And now it was as if he were
in the presence not of a mere woman and erring wife, but of some force,
subtle and elusive as atmosphere itself within him and outside. A kind
of defensive irony welled up in him.

"Yes, it's a queer visit! I hope you're well."

"Thank you. Will you sit down?"

She had moved away from the piano, and gone over to a window-seat,
sinking on to it, with her hands clasped in her lap. Light fell on her
there, so that Soames could see her face, eyes, hair, strangely as he
remembered them, strangely beautiful.

He sat down on the edge of a satinwood chair, upholstered with
silver-coloured stuff, close to where he was standing.

"You have not changed," he said.

"No? What have you come for?"

"To discuss things."

"I have heard what you want from your cousin."

"Well?"

"I am willing. I have always been."

The sound of her voice, reserved and close, the sight of her figure
watchfully poised, defensive, was helping him now. A thousand memories
of her, ever on the watch against him, stirred, and....

"Perhaps you will be good enough, then, to give me information on which
I can act. The law must be complied with."

"I have none to give you that you don't know of."

"Twelve years! Do you suppose I can believe that?"

"I don't suppose you will believe anything I say; but it's the truth."

Soames looked at her hard. He had said that she had not changed; now he
perceived that she had. Not in face, except that it was more beautiful;
not in form, except that it was a little fuller--no! She had changed
spiritually. There was more of her, as it were, something of activity
and daring, where there had been sheer passive resistance. 'Ah!' he
thought, 'that's her independent income! Confound Uncle Jolyon!'

"I suppose you're comfortably off now?" he said.

"Thank you, yes."

"Why didn't you let me provide for you? I would have, in spite of
everything."

A faint smile came on her lips; but she did not answer.

"You are still my wife," said Soames. Why he said that, what he meant
by it, he knew neither when he spoke nor after. It was a truism
almost preposterous, but its effect was startling. She rose from the
window-seat, and stood for a moment perfectly still, looking at him. He
could see her bosom heaving. Then she turned to the window and threw it
open.

"Why do that?" he said sharply. "You'll catch cold in that dress. I'm
not dangerous." And he uttered a little sad laugh.

She echoed it--faintly, bitterly.

"It was--habit."

"Rather odd habit," said Soames as bitterly. "Shut the window!"

She shut it and sat down again. She had developed power, this
woman--this--wife of his! He felt it issuing from her as she sat there,
in a sort of armour. And almost unconsciously he rose and moved
nearer; he wanted to see the expression on her face. Her eyes met his
unflinching. Heavens! how clear they were, and what a dark brown against
that white skin, and that burnt-amber hair! And how white her shoulders.

Funny sensation this! He ought to hate her.

"You had better tell me," he said; "it's to your advantage to be free as
well as to mine. That old matter is too old."

"I have told you."

"Do you mean to tell me there has been nothing--nobody?"

"Nobody. You must go to your own life."

Stung by that retort, Soames moved towards the piano and back to
the hearth, to and fro, as he had been wont in the old days in their
drawing-room when his feelings were too much for him.

"That won't do," he said. "You deserted me. In common justice it's for
you...."

He saw her shrug those white shoulders, heard her murmur:

"Yes. Why didn't you divorce me then? Should I have cared?"

He stopped, and looked at her intently with a sort of curiosity. What on
earth did she do with herself, if she really lived quite alone? And why
had he not divorced her? The old feeling that she had never understood
him, never done him justice, bit him while he stared at her.

"Why couldn't you have made me a good wife?" he said.

"Yes; it was a crime to marry you. I have paid for it. You will find
some way perhaps. You needn't mind my name, I have none to lose. Now I
think you had better go."

A sense of defeat--of being defrauded of his self-justification, and of
something else beyond power of explanation to himself, beset Soames
like the breath of a cold fog. Mechanically he reached up, took from the
mantel-shelf a little china bowl, reversed it, and said:

"Lowestoft. Where did you get this? I bought its fellow at Jobson's."
And, visited by the sudden memory of how, those many years ago, he and
she had bought china together, he remained staring at the little bowl,
as if it contained all the past. Her voice roused him.

"Take it. I don't want it."

Soames put it back on the shelf.

"Will you shake hands?" he said.

A faint smile curved her lips. She held out her hand. It was cold to his
rather feverish touch. 'She's made of ice,' he thought--'she was always
made of ice!' But even as that thought darted through him, his senses
were assailed by the perfume of her dress and body, as though the warmth
within her, which had never been for him, were struggling to show its
presence. And he turned on his heel. He walked out and away, as if
someone with a whip were after him, not even looking for a cab, glad of
the empty Embankment and the cold river, and the thick-strewn shadows
of the plane-tree leaves--confused, flurried, sore at heart, and vaguely
disturbed, as though he had made some deep mistake whose consequences
he could not foresee. And the fantastic thought suddenly assailed him if
instead of, 'I think you had better go,' she had said, 'I think you had
better stay!' What should he have felt, what would he have done? That
cursed attraction of her was there for him even now, after all these
years of estrangement and bitter thoughts. It was there, ready to mount
to his head at a sign, a touch. 'I was a fool to go!' he muttered. 'I've
advanced nothing. Who could imagine? I never thought!' Memory, flown
back to the first years of his marriage, played him torturing tricks.
She had not deserved to keep her beauty--the beauty he had owned and
known so well. And a kind of bitterness at the tenacity of his own
admiration welled up in him. Most men would have hated the sight of
her, as she had deserved. She had spoiled his life, wounded his pride to
death, defrauded him of a son. And yet the mere sight of her, cold and
resisting as ever, had this power to upset him utterly! It was some
damned magnetism she had! And no wonder if, as she asserted; she had
lived untouched these last twelve years. So Bosinney--cursed be his
memory!--had lived on all this time with her! Soames could not tell
whether he was glad of that knowledge or no.

Nearing his Club at last he stopped to buy a paper. A headline ran:
'Boers reported to repudiate suzerainty!' Suzerainty! 'Just like her!'
he thought: 'she always did. Suzerainty! I still have it by rights. She
must be awfully lonely in that wretched little flat!'




CHAPTER XII--ON FORSYTE 'CHANGE

Soames belonged to two clubs, 'The Connoisseurs,' which he put on his
cards and seldom visited, and 'The Remove,' which he did not put on his
cards and frequented. He had joined this Liberal institution five
years ago, having made sure that its members were now nearly all sound
Conservatives in heart and pocket, if not in principle. Uncle Nicholas
had put him up. The fine reading-room was decorated in the Adam style.

On entering that evening he glanced at the tape for any news about the
Transvaal, and noted that Consols were down seven-sixteenths since
the morning. He was turning away to seek the reading-room when a voice
behind him said:

"Well, Soames, that went off all right."

It was Uncle Nicholas, in a frock-coat and his special cut-away collar,
with a black tie passed through a ring. Heavens! How young and dapper he
looked at eighty-two!

"I think Roger'd have been pleased," his uncle went on. "The thing was
very well done. Blackley's? I'll make a note of them. Buxton's done me
no good. These Boers are upsetting me--that fellow Chamberlain's driving
the country into war. What do you think?"

"Bound to come," murmured Soames.

Nicholas passed his hand over his thin, clean-shaven cheeks, very rosy
after his summer cure; a slight pout had gathered on his lips. This
business had revived all his Liberal principles.

"I mistrust that chap; he's a stormy petrel. House-property will go down
if there's war. You'll have trouble with Roger's estate. I often told
him he ought to get out of some of his houses. He was an opinionated
beggar."

'There was a pair of you!' thought Soames. But he never argued with an
uncle, in that way preserving their opinion of him as 'a long-headed
chap,' and the legal care of their property.

"They tell me at Timothy's," said Nicholas, lowering his voice, "that
Dartie has gone off at last. That'll be a relief to your father. He was
a rotten egg."

Again Soames nodded. If there was a subject on which the Forsytes really
agreed, it was the character of Montague Dartie.

"You take care," said Nicholas, "or he'll turn up again. Winifred had
better have the tooth out, I should say. No use preserving what's gone
bad."

Soames looked at him sideways. His nerves, exacerbated by the interview
he had just come through, disposed him to see a personal allusion in
those words.

"I'm advising her," he said shortly.

"Well," said Nicholas, "the brougham's waiting; I must get home. I'm
very poorly. Remember me to your father."

And having thus reconsecrated the ties of blood, he passed down the
steps at his youthful gait and was wrapped into his fur coat by the
junior porter.

'I've never known Uncle Nicholas other than "very poorly,"' mused
Soames, 'or seen him look other than everlasting. What a family! Judging
by him, I've got thirty-eight years of health before me. Well, I'm not
going to waste them.' And going over to a mirror he stood looking at
his face. Except for a line or two, and three or four grey hairs in his
little dark moustache, had he aged any more than Irene? The prime of
life--he and she in the very prime of life! And a fantastic thought shot
into his mind. Absurd! Idiotic! But again it came. And genuinely alarmed
by the recurrence, as one is by the second fit of shivering which
presages a feverish cold, he sat down on the weighing machine. Eleven
stone! He had not varied two pounds in twenty years. What age was
she? Nearly thirty-seven--not too old to have a child--not at all!
Thirty-seven on the ninth of next month. He remembered her birthday
well--he had always observed it religiously, even that last birthday so
soon before she left him, when he was almost certain she was faithless.
Four birthdays in his house. He had looked forward to them, because his
gifts had meant a semblance of gratitude, a certain attempt at warmth.
Except, indeed, that last birthday--which had tempted him to be too
religious! And he shied away in thought. Memory heaps dead leaves on
corpse-like deeds, from under which they do but vaguely offend the
sense. And then he thought suddenly: 'I could send her a present for her
birthday. After all, we're Christians! Couldn't!--couldn't we join
up again!' And he uttered a deep sigh sitting there. Annette! Ah! but
between him and Annette was the need for that wretched divorce suit! And
how?

"A man can always work these things, if he'll take it on himself,"
Jolyon had said.

But why should he take the scandal on himself with his whole career as
a pillar of the law at stake? It was not fair! It was quixotic! Twelve
years' separation in which he had taken no steps to free himself put out
of court the possibility of using her conduct with Bosinney as a ground
for divorcing her. By doing nothing to secure relief he had acquiesced,
even if the evidence could now be gathered, which was more than
doubtful. Besides, his own pride would never let him use that old
incident, he had suffered from it too much. No! Nothing but fresh
misconduct on her part--but she had denied it; and--almost--he had
believed her. Hung up! Utterly hung up!

He rose from the scooped-out red velvet seat with a feeling of
constriction about his vitals. He would never sleep with this going on
in him! And, taking coat and hat again, he went out, moving eastward.
In Trafalgar Square he became aware of some special commotion travelling
towards him out of the mouth of the Strand. It materialised in newspaper
men calling out so loudly that no words whatever could be heard. He
stopped to listen, and one came by.

"Payper! Special! Ultimatium by Krooger! Declaration of war!" Soames
bought the paper. There it was in the stop press...! His first thought
was: 'The Boers are committing suicide.' His second: 'Is there anything
still I ought to sell?' If so he had missed the chance--there would
certainly be a slump in the city to-morrow. He swallowed this thought
with a nod of defiance. That ultimatum was insolent--sooner than let it
pass he was prepared to lose money. They wanted a lesson, and they would
get it; but it would take three months at least to bring them to heel.
There weren't the troops out there; always behind time, the Government!
Confound those newspaper rats! What was the use of waking everybody up?
Breakfast to-morrow was quite soon enough. And he thought with alarm of
his father. They would cry it down Park Lane. Hailing a hansom, he got
in and told the man to drive there.

James and Emily had just gone up to bed, and after communicating the
news to Warmson, Soames prepared to follow. He paused by after-thought
to say:

"What do you think of it, Warmson?"

The butler ceased passing a hat brush over the silk hat Soames had taken
off, and, inclining his face a little forward, said in a low voice:
"Well, sir, they 'aven't a chance, of course; but I'm told they're very
good shots. I've got a son in the Inniskillings."

"You, Warmson? Why, I didn't know you were married."

"No, sir. I don't talk of it. I expect he'll be going out."

The slighter shock Soames had felt on discovering that he knew so little
of one whom he thought he knew so well was lost in the slight shock of
discovering that the war might touch one personally. Born in the year
of the Crimean War, he had only come to consciousness by the time the
Indian Mutiny was over; since then the many little wars of the British
Empire had been entirely professional, quite unconnected with the
Forsytes and all they stood for in the body politic. This war would
surely be no exception. But his mind ran hastily over his family. Two of
the Haymans, he had heard, were in some Yeomanry or other--it had always
been a pleasant thought, there was a certain distinction about the
Yeomanry; they wore, or used to wear, a blue uniform with silver about
it, and rode horses. And Archibald, he remembered, had once on a time
joined the Militia, but had given it up because his father, Nicholas,
had made such a fuss about his 'wasting his time peacocking about in a
uniform.' Recently he had heard somewhere that young Nicholas' eldest,
very young Nicholas, had become a Volunteer. 'No,' thought Soames,
mounting the stairs slowly, 'there's nothing in that!'

He stood on the landing outside his parents' bed and dressing rooms,
debating whether or not to put his nose in and say a reassuring word.
Opening the landing window, he listened. The rumble from Piccadilly
was all the sound he heard, and with the thought, 'If these motor-cars
increase, it'll affect house property,' he was about to pass on up to
the room always kept ready for him when he heard, distant as yet, the
hoarse rushing call of a newsvendor. There it was, and coming past the
house! He knocked on his mother's door and went in.

His father was sitting up in bed, with his ears pricked under the
white hair which Emily kept so beautifully cut. He looked pink, and
extraordinarily clean, in his setting of white sheet and pillow, out
of which the points of his high, thin, nightgowned shoulders emerged in
small peaks. His eyes alone, grey and distrustful under their withered
lids, were moving from the window to Emily, who in a wrapper was walking
up and down, squeezing a rubber ball attached to a scent bottle. The
room reeked faintly of the eau-de-Cologne she was spraying.

"All right!" said Soames, "it's not a fire. The Boers have declared
war--that's all."

Emily stopped her spraying.

"Oh!" was all she said, and looked at James.

Soames, too, looked at his father. He was taking it differently from
their expectation, as if some thought, strange to them, were working in
him.

"H'm!" he muttered suddenly, "I shan't live to see the end of this."

"Nonsense, James! It'll be over by Christmas."

"What do you know about it?" James answered her with asperity. "It's a
pretty mess at this time of night, too!" He lapsed into silence, and his
wife and son, as if hypnotised, waited for him to say: 'I can't tell--I
don't know; I knew how it would be!' But he did not. The grey eyes
shifted, evidently seeing nothing in the room; then movement occurred
under the bedclothes, and the knees were drawn up suddenly to a great
height.

"They ought to send out Roberts. It all comes from that fellow Gladstone
and his Majuba."

The two listeners noted something beyond the usual in his voice,
something of real anxiety. It was as if he had said: 'I shall never see
the old country peaceful and safe again. I shall have to die before
I know she's won.' And in spite of the feeling that James must not be
encouraged to be fussy, they were touched. Soames went up to the
bedside and stroked his father's hand which had emerged from under the
bedclothes, long and wrinkled with veins.

"Mark my words!" said James, "consols will go to par. For all I know,
Val may go and enlist."

"Oh, come, James!" cried Emily, "you talk as if there were danger."

Her comfortable voice seemed to soothe James for once.

"Well," he muttered, "I told you how it would be. I don't know, I'm
sure--nobody tells me anything. Are you sleeping here, my boy?"

The crisis was past, he would now compose himself to his normal degree
of anxiety; and, assuring his father that he was sleeping in the house,
Soames pressed his hand, and went up to his room.

The following afternoon witnessed the greatest crowd Timothy's had known
for many a year. On national occasions, such as this, it was, indeed,
almost impossible to avoid going there. Not that there was any danger or
rather only just enough to make it necessary to assure each other that
there was none.

Nicholas was there early. He had seen Soames the night before--Soames
had said it was bound to come. This old Kruger was in his dotage--why,
he must be seventy-five if he was a day!

(Nicholas was eighty-two.) What had Timothy said? He had had a fit after
Majuba. These Boers were a grasping lot! The dark-haired Francie, who
had arrived on his heels, with the contradictious touch which became the
free spirit of a daughter of Roger, chimed in:

"Kettle and pot, Uncle Nicholas. What price the Uitlanders?" What price,
indeed! A new expression, and believed to be due to her brother George.

Aunt Juley thought Francie ought not to say such a thing. Dear Mrs.
MacAnder's boy, Charlie MacAnder, was one, and no one could call him
grasping. At this Francie uttered one of her mots, scandalising, and so
frequently repeated:

"Well, his father's a Scotchman, and his mother's a cat."

Aunt Juley covered her ears, too late, but Aunt Hester smiled; as for
Nicholas, he pouted--witticism of which he was not the author was
hardly to his taste. Just then Marian Tweetyman arrived, followed almost
immediately by young Nicholas. On seeing his son, Nicholas rose.

"Well, I must be going," he said, "Nick here will tell you what'll
win the race." And with this hit at his eldest, who, as a pillar of
accountancy, and director of an insurance company, was no more addicted
to sport than his father had ever been, he departed. Dear Nicholas! What
race was that? Or was it only one of his jokes? He was a wonderful man
for his age! How many lumps would dear Marian take? And how were Giles
and Jesse? Aunt Juley supposed their Yeomanry would be very busy now,
guarding the coast, though of course the Boers had no ships. But one
never knew what the French might do if they had the chance, especially
since that dreadful Fashoda scare, which had upset Timothy so terribly
that he had made no investments for months afterwards. It was the
ingratitude of the Boers that was so dreadful, after everything had been
done for them--Dr. Jameson imprisoned, and he was so nice, Mrs. MacAnder
had always said. And Sir Alfred Milner sent out to talk to them--such a
clever man! She didn't know what they wanted.

But at this moment occurred one of those sensations--so precious at
Timothy's--which great occasions sometimes bring forth:

"Miss June Forsyte."

Aunts Juley and Hester were on their feet at once, trembling from
smothered resentment, and old affection bubbling up, and pride at the
return of a prodigal June! Well, this was a surprise! Dear June--after
all these years! And how well she was looking! Not changed at all! It
was almost on their lips to add, 'And how is your dear grandfather?'
forgetting in that giddy moment that poor dear Jolyon had been in his
grave for seven years now.

Ever the most courageous and downright of all the Forsytes, June, with
her decided chin and her spirited eyes and her hair like flame, sat
down, slight and short, on a gilt chair with a bead-worked seat, for
all the world as if ten years had not elapsed since she had been to see
them--ten years of travel and independence and devotion to lame ducks.
Those ducks of late had been all definitely painters, etchers, or
sculptors, so that her impatience with the Forsytes and their hopelessly
inartistic outlook had become intense. Indeed, she had almost ceased to
believe that her family existed, and looked round her now with a sort
of challenging directness which brought exquisite discomfort to the
roomful. She had not expected to meet any of them but 'the poor old
things'; and why she had come to see them she hardly knew, except that,
while on her way from Oxford Street to a studio in Latimer Road, she had
suddenly remembered them with compunction as two long-neglected old lame
ducks.

Aunt Juley broke the hush again. "We've just been saying, dear, how
dreadful it is about these Boers! And what an impudent thing of that old
Kruger!"

"Impudent!" said June. "I think he's quite right. What business have we
to meddle with them? If he turned out all those wretched Uitlanders it
would serve them right. They're only after money."

The silence of sensation was broken by Francie saying:

"What? Are you a pro-Boer?" (undoubtedly the first use of that
expression).

"Well! Why can't we leave them alone?" said June, just as, in the open
doorway, the maid said "Mr. Soames Forsyte." Sensation on sensation!
Greeting was almost held up by curiosity to see how June and he would
take this encounter, for it was shrewdly suspected, if not quite known,
that they had not met since that old and lamentable affair of her fiance
Bosinney with Soames' wife. They were seen to just touch each other's
hands, and look each at the other's left eye only. Aunt Juley came at
once to the rescue:

"Dear June is so original. Fancy, Soames, she thinks the Boers are not
to blame."

"They only want their independence," said June; "and why shouldn't they
have it?"

"Because," answered Soames, with his smile a little on one side, "they
happen to have agreed to our suzerainty."

"Suzerainty!" repeated June scornfully; "we shouldn't like anyone's
suzerainty over us."

"They got advantages in payment," replied Soames; "a contract is a
contract."

"Contracts are not always just," fumed out June, "and when they're not,
they ought to be broken. The Boers are much the weaker. We could afford
to be generous."

Soames sniffed. "That's mere sentiment," he said.

Aunt Hester, to whom nothing was more awful than any kind of
disagreement, here leaned forward and remarked decisively:

"What lovely weather it has been for the time of year?"

But June was not to be diverted.

"I don't know why sentiment should be sneered at. It's the best thing in
the world." She looked defiantly round, and Aunt Juley had to intervene
again:

"Have you bought any pictures lately, Soames?"

Her incomparable instinct for the wrong subject had not failed her.
Soames flushed. To disclose the name of his latest purchases would be
like walking into the jaws of disdain. For somehow they all knew of
June's predilection for 'genius' not yet on its legs, and her contempt
for 'success' unless she had had a finger in securing it.

"One or two," he muttered.

But June's face had changed; the Forsyte within her was seeing
its chance. Why should not Soames buy some of the pictures of Eric
Cobbley--her last lame duck? And she promptly opened her attack: Did
Soames know his work? It was so wonderful. He was the coming man.

Oh, yes, Soames knew his work. It was in his view 'splashy,' and would
never get hold of the public.

June blazed up.

"Of course it won't; that's the last thing one would wish for. I thought
you were a connoisseur, not a picture-dealer."

"Of course Soames is a connoisseur," Aunt Juley said hastily; "he
has wonderful taste--he can always tell beforehand what's going to be
successful."

"Oh!" gasped June, and sprang up from the bead-covered chair, "I hate
that standard of success. Why can't people buy things because they like
them?"

"You mean," said Francie, "because you like them."

And in the slight pause young Nicholas was heard saying gently that
Violet (his fourth) was taking lessons in pastel, he didn't know if they
were any use.

"Well, good-bye, Auntie," said June; "I must get on," and kissing her
aunts, she looked defiantly round the room, said "Good-bye" again, and
went. A breeze seemed to pass out with her, as if everyone had sighed.

The third sensation came before anyone had time to speak:

"Mr. James Forsyte."

James came in using a stick slightly and wrapped in a fur coat which
gave him a fictitious bulk.

Everyone stood up. James was so old; and he had not been at Timothy's
for nearly two years.

"It's hot in here," he said.

Soames divested him of his coat, and as he did so could not help
admiring the glossy way his father was turned out. James sat down, all
knees, elbows, frock-coat, and long white whiskers.

"What's the meaning of that?" he said.

Though there was no apparent sense in his words, they all knew that he
was referring to June. His eyes searched his son's face.

"I thought I'd come and see for myself. What have they answered Kruger?"

Soames took out an evening paper, and read the headline.

"'Instant action by our Government--state of war existing!'"

"Ah!" said James, and sighed. "I was afraid they'd cut and run like old
Gladstone. We shall finish with them this time."

All stared at him. James! Always fussy, nervous, anxious! James with
his continual, 'I told you how it would be!' and his pessimism, and his
cautious investments. There was something uncanny about such resolution
in this the oldest living Forsyte.

"Where's Timothy?" said James. "He ought to pay attention to this."

Aunt Juley said she didn't know; Timothy had not said much at lunch
to-day. Aunt Hester rose and threaded her way out of the room, and
Francie said rather maliciously:

"The Boers are a hard nut to crack, Uncle James."

"H'm!" muttered James. "Where do you get your information? Nobody tells
me."

Young Nicholas remarked in his mild voice that Nick (his eldest) was now
going to drill regularly.

"Ah!" muttered James, and stared before him--his thoughts were on Val.
"He's got to look after his mother," he said, "he's got no time for
drilling and that, with that father of his." This cryptic saying
produced silence, until he spoke again.

"What did June want here?" And his eyes rested with suspicion on all of
them in turn. "Her father's a rich man now." The conversation turned
on Jolyon, and when he had been seen last. It was supposed that he
went abroad and saw all sorts of people now that his wife was dead; his
water-colours were on the line, and he was a successful man. Francie
went so far as to say:

"I should like to see him again; he was rather a dear."

Aunt Juley recalled how he had gone to sleep on the sofa one day, where
James was sitting. He had always been very amiable; what did Soames
think?

Knowing that Jolyon was Irene's trustee, all felt the delicacy of this
question, and looked at Soames with interest. A faint pink had come up
in his cheeks.

"He's going grey," he said.

Indeed! Had Soames seen him? Soames nodded, and the pink vanished.

James said suddenly: "Well--I don't know, I can't tell."

It so exactly expressed the sentiment of everybody present that there
was something behind everything, that nobody responded. But at this
moment Aunt Hester returned.

"Timothy," she said in a low voice, "Timothy has bought a map, and he's
put in--he's put in three flags."

Timothy had...! A sigh went round the company.

If Timothy had indeed put in three flags already, well!--it showed what
the nation could do when it was roused. The war was as good as over.




CHAPTER XIII--JOLYON FINDS OUT WHERE HE IS

Jolyon stood at the window in Holly's old night nursery, converted into
a studio, not because it had a north light, but for its view over the
prospect away to the Grand Stand at Epsom. He shifted to the side window
which overlooked the stableyard, and whistled down to the dog Balthasar
who lay for ever under the clock tower. The old dog looked up and wagged
his tail. 'Poor old boy!' thought Jolyon, shifting back to the other
window.

He had been restless all this week, since his attempt to prosecute
trusteeship, uneasy in his conscience which was ever acute, disturbed
in his sense of compassion which was easily excited, and with a queer
sensation as if his feeling for beauty had received some definite
embodiment. Autumn was getting hold of the old oak-tree, its leaves
were browning. Sunshine had been plentiful and hot this summer. As with
trees, so with men's lives! 'I ought to live long,' thought Jolyon; 'I'm
getting mildewed for want of heat. If I can't work, I shall be off to
Paris.' But memory of Paris gave him no pleasure. Besides, how could he
go? He must stay and see what Soames was going to do. 'I'm her trustee.
I can't leave her unprotected,' he thought. It had been striking him
as curious how very clearly he could still see Irene in her little
drawing-room which he had only twice entered. Her beauty must have a
sort of poignant harmony! No literal portrait would ever do her justice;
the essence of her was--ah I what?... The noise of hoofs called him back
to the other window. Holly was riding into the yard on her long-tailed
'palfrey.' She looked up and he waved to her. She had been rather silent
lately; getting old, he supposed, beginning to want her future, as they
all did--youngsters!

Time was certainly the devil! And with the feeling that to waste this
swift-travelling commodity was unforgivable folly, he took up his brush.
But it was no use; he could not concentrate his eye--besides, the light
was going. 'I'll go up to town,' he thought. In the hall a servant met
him.

"A lady to see you, sir; Mrs. Heron."

Extraordinary coincidence! Passing into the picture-gallery, as it was
still called, he saw Irene standing over by the window.

She came towards him saying:

"I've been trespassing; I came up through the coppice and garden. I
always used to come that way to see Uncle Jolyon."

"You couldn't trespass here," replied Jolyon; "history makes that
impossible. I was just thinking of you."

Irene smiled. And it was as if something shone through; not mere
spirituality--serener, completer, more alluring.

"History!" she answered; "I once told Uncle Jolyon that love was for
ever. Well, it isn't. Only aversion lasts."

Jolyon stared at her. Had she got over Bosinney at last?

"Yes!" he said, "aversion's deeper than love or hate because it's a
natural product of the nerves, and we don't change them."

"I came to tell you that Soames has been to see me. He said a thing that
frightened me. He said: 'You are still my wife!'"

"What!" ejaculated Jolyon. "You ought not to live alone." And he
continued to stare at her, afflicted by the thought that where Beauty
was, nothing ever ran quite straight, which, no doubt, was why so many
people looked on it as immoral.

"What more?"

"He asked me to shake hands.

"Did you?"

"Yes. When he came in I'm sure he didn't want to; he changed while he
was there."

"Ah! you certainly ought not to go on living there alone."

"I know no woman I could ask; and I can't take a lover to order, Cousin
Jolyon."

"Heaven forbid!" said Jolyon. "What a damnable position! Will you stay
to dinner? No? Well, let me see you back to town; I wanted to go up this
evening."

"Truly?"

"Truly. I'll be ready in five minutes."

On that walk to the station they talked of pictures and music,
contrasting the English and French characters and the difference in
their attitude to Art. But to Jolyon the colours in the hedges of the
long straight lane, the twittering of chaffinches who kept pace with
them, the perfume of weeds being already burned, the turn of her neck,
the fascination of those dark eyes bent on him now and then, the lure
of her whole figure, made a deeper impression than the remarks they
exchanged. Unconsciously he held himself straighter, walked with a more
elastic step.

In the train he put her through a sort of catechism as to what she did
with her days.

Made her dresses, shopped, visited a hospital, played her piano,
translated from the French.

She had regular work from a publisher, it seemed, which supplemented her
income a little. She seldom went out in the evening. "I've been living
alone so long, you see, that I don't mind it a bit. I believe I'm
naturally solitary."

"I don't believe that," said Jolyon. "Do you know many people?"

"Very few."

At Waterloo they took a hansom, and he drove with her to the door of her
mansions. Squeezing her hand at parting, he said:

"You know, you could always come to us at Robin Hill; you must let me
know everything that happens. Good-bye, Irene."

"Good-bye," she answered softly.

Jolyon climbed back into his cab, wondering why he had not asked her
to dine and go to the theatre with him. Solitary, starved, hung-up life
that she had! "Hotch Potch Club," he said through the trap-door. As his
hansom debouched on to the Embankment, a man in top-hat and overcoat
passed, walking quickly, so close to the wall that he seemed to be
scraping it.

'By Jove!' thought Jolyon; 'Soames himself! What's he up to now?' And,
stopping the cab round the corner, he got out and retraced his steps to
where he could see the entrance to the mansions. Soames had halted in
front of them, and was looking up at the light in her windows. 'If he
goes in,' thought Jolyon, 'what shall I do? What have I the right
to do?' What the fellow had said was true. She was still his wife,
absolutely without protection from annoyance! 'Well, if he goes in,'
he thought, 'I follow.' And he began moving towards the mansions.
Again Soames advanced; he was in the very entrance now. But suddenly he
stopped, spun round on his heel, and came back towards the river. 'What
now?' thought Jolyon. 'In a dozen steps he'll recognise me.' And he
turned tail. His cousin's footsteps kept pace with his own. But he
reached his cab, and got in before Soames had turned the corner. "Go
on!" he said through the trap. Soames' figure ranged up alongside.

"Hansom!" he said. "Engaged? Hallo!"

"Hallo!" answered Jolyon. "You?"

The quick suspicion on his cousin's face, white in the lamplight,
decided him.

"I can give you a lift," he said, "if you're going West."

"Thanks," answered Soames, and got in.

"I've been seeing Irene," said Jolyon when the cab had started.

"Indeed!"

"You went to see her yesterday yourself, I understand."

"I did," said Soames; "she's my wife, you know."

The tone, the half-lifted sneering lip, roused sudden anger in Jolyon;
but he subdued it.

"You ought to know best," he said, "but if you want a divorce it's not
very wise to go seeing her, is it? One can't run with the hare and hunt
with the hounds?"

"You're very good to warn me," said Soames, "but I have not made up my
mind."

"She has," said Jolyon, looking straight before him; "you can't take
things up, you know, as they were twelve years ago."

"That remains to be seen."

"Look here!" said Jolyon, "she's in a damnable position, and I am the
only person with any legal say in her affairs."

"Except myself," retorted Soames, "who am also in a damnable position.
Hers is what she made for herself; mine what she made for me. I am not
at all sure that in her own interests I shan't require her to return to
me."

"What!" exclaimed Jolyon; and a shiver went through his whole body.

"I don't know what you may mean by 'what,'" answered Soames coldly;
"your say in her affairs is confined to paying out her income; please
bear that in mind. In choosing not to disgrace her by a divorce, I
retained my rights, and, as I say, I am not at all sure that I shan't
require to exercise them."

"My God!" ejaculated Jolyon, and he uttered a short laugh.

"Yes," said Soames, and there was a deadly quality in his voice. "I've
not forgotten the nickname your father gave me, 'The man of property'!
I'm not called names for nothing."

"This is fantastic," murmured Jolyon. Well, the fellow couldn't force
his wife to live with him. Those days were past, anyway! And he looked
around at Soames with the thought: 'Is he real, this man?' But Soames
looked very real, sitting square yet almost elegant with the clipped
moustache on his pale face, and a tooth showing where a lip was lifted
in a fixed smile. There was a long silence, while Jolyon thought:
'Instead of helping her, I've made things worse.' Suddenly Soames said:

"It would be the best thing that could happen to her in many ways."

At those words such a turmoil began taking place in Jolyon that he could
barely sit still in the cab. It was as if he were boxed up with hundreds
of thousands of his countrymen, boxed up with that something in the
national character which had always been to him revolting, something
which he knew to be extremely natural and yet which seemed to him
inexplicable--their intense belief in contracts and vested rights, their
complacent sense of virtue in the exaction of those rights. Here beside
him in the cab was the very embodiment, the corporeal sum as it were,
of the possessive instinct--his own kinsman, too! It was uncanny and
intolerable! 'But there's something more in it than that!' he thought
with a sick feeling. 'The dog, they say, returns to his vomit! The sight
of her has reawakened something. Beauty! The devil's in it!'

"As I say," said Soames, "I have not made up my mind. I shall be obliged
if you will kindly leave her quite alone."

Jolyon bit his lips; he who had always hated rows almost welcomed the
thought of one now.

"I can give you no such promise," he said shortly.

"Very well," said Soames, "then we know where we are. I'll get down
here." And stopping the cab he got out without word or sign of farewell.
Jolyon travelled on to his Club.

The first news of the war was being called in the streets, but he paid
no attention. What could he do to help her? If only his father were
alive! He could have done so much! But why could he not do all that his
father could have done? Was he not old enough?--turned fifty and twice
married, with grown-up daughters and a son. 'Queer,' he thought. 'If she
were plain I shouldn't be thinking twice about it. Beauty is the devil,
when you're sensitive to it!' And into the Club reading-room he went
with a disturbed heart. In that very room he and Bosinney had talked one
summer afternoon; he well remembered even now the disguised and secret
lecture he had given that young man in the interests of June, the
diagnosis of the Forsytes he had hazarded; and how he had wondered what
sort of woman it was he was warning him against. And now! He was almost
in want of a warning himself. 'It's deuced funny!' he thought, 'really
deuced funny!'




CHAPTER XIV--SOAMES DISCOVERS WHAT HE WANTS

It is so much easier to say, "Then we know where we are," than to mean
anything particular by the words. And in saying them Soames did but vent
the jealous rankling of his instincts. He got out of the cab in a state
of wary anger--with himself for not having seen Irene, with Jolyon for
having seen her; and now with his inability to tell exactly what he
wanted.

He had abandoned the cab because he could not bear to remain seated
beside his cousin, and walking briskly eastwards he thought: 'I wouldn't
trust that fellow Jolyon a yard. Once outcast, always outcast!' The chap
had a natural sympathy with--with--laxity (he had shied at the word sin,
because it was too melodramatic for use by a Forsyte).

Indecision in desire was to him a new feeling. He was like a child
between a promised toy and an old one which had been taken away from
him; and he was astonished at himself. Only last Sunday desire had
seemed simple--just his freedom and Annette. 'I'll go and dine there,'
he thought. To see her might bring back his singleness of intention,
calm his exasperation, clear his mind.

The restaurant was fairly full--a good many foreigners and folk whom,
from their appearance, he took to be literary or artistic. Scraps of
conversation came his way through the clatter of plates and glasses.
He distinctly heard the Boers sympathised with, the British Government
blamed. 'Don't think much of their clientele,' he thought. He went
stolidly through his dinner and special coffee without making his
presence known, and when at last he had finished, was careful not to
be seen going towards the sanctum of Madame Lamotte. They were, as he
entered, having supper--such a much nicer-looking supper than the dinner
he had eaten that he felt a kind of grief--and they greeted him with a
surprise so seemingly genuine that he thought with sudden suspicion:
'I believe they knew I was here all the time.' He gave Annette a look
furtive and searching. So pretty, seemingly so candid; could she be
angling for him? He turned to Madame Lamotte and said:

"I've been dining here."

Really! If she had only known! There were dishes she could have
recommended; what a pity! Soames was confirmed in his suspicion. 'I must
look out what I'm doing!' he thought sharply.

"Another little cup of very special coffee, monsieur; a liqueur, Grand
Marnier?" and Madame Lamotte rose to order these delicacies.

Alone with Annette Soames said, "Well, Annette?" with a defensive little
smile about his lips.

The girl blushed. This, which last Sunday would have set his nerves
tingling, now gave him much the same feeling a man has when a dog that
he owns wriggles and looks at him. He had a curious sense of power, as
if he could have said to her, 'Come and kiss me,' and she would have
come. And yet--it was strange--but there seemed another face and form in
the room too; and the itch in his nerves, was it for that--or for this?
He jerked his head towards the restaurant and said: "You have some queer
customers. Do you like this life?"

Annette looked up at him for a moment, looked down, and played with her
fork.

"No," she said, "I do not like it."

'I've got her,' thought Soames, 'if I want her. But do I want her?' She
was graceful, she was pretty--very pretty; she was fresh, she had taste
of a kind. His eyes travelled round the little room; but the eyes of his
mind went another journey--a half-light, and silvery walls, a satinwood
piano, a woman standing against it, reined back as it were from him--a
woman with white shoulders that he knew, and dark eyes that he had
sought to know, and hair like dull dark amber. And as in an artist who
strives for the unrealisable and is ever thirsty, so there rose in him
at that moment the thirst of the old passion he had never satisfied.

"Well," he said calmly, "you're young. There's everything before you."

Annette shook her head.

"I think sometimes there is nothing before me but hard work. I am not so
in love with work as mother."

"Your mother is a wonder," said Soames, faintly mocking; "she will never
let failure lodge in her house."

Annette sighed. "It must be wonderful to be rich."

"Oh! You'll be rich some day," answered Soames, still with that faint
mockery; "don't be afraid."

Annette shrugged her shoulders. "Monsieur is very kind." And between her
pouting lips she put a chocolate.

'Yes, my dear,' thought Soames, 'they're very pretty.'

Madame Lamotte, with coffee and liqueur, put an end to that colloquy.
Soames did not stay long.

Outside in the streets of Soho, which always gave him such a feeling of
property improperly owned, he mused. If only Irene had given him a son,
he wouldn't now be squirming after women! The thought had jumped out of
its little dark sentry-box in his inner consciousness. A son--something
to look forward to, something to make the rest of life worth while,
something to leave himself to, some perpetuity of self. 'If I had a
son,' he thought bitterly, 'a proper legal son, I could make shift to go
on as I used. One woman's much the same as another, after all.' But as
he walked he shook his head. No! One woman was not the same as another.
Many a time had he tried to think that in the old days of his thwarted
married life; and he had always failed. He was failing now. He was
trying to think Annette the same as that other. But she was not, she had
not the lure of that old passion. 'And Irene's my wife,' he thought, 'my
legal wife. I have done nothing to put her away from me. Why shouldn't
she come back to me? It's the right thing, the lawful thing. It makes no
scandal, no disturbance. If it's disagreeable to her--but why should it
be? I'm not a leper, and she--she's no longer in love!' Why should he
be put to the shifts and the sordid disgraces and the lurking defeats of
the Divorce Court, when there she was like an empty house only waiting
to be retaken into use and possession by him who legally owned her? To
one so secretive as Soames the thought of reentry into quiet possession
of his own property with nothing given away to the world was intensely
alluring. 'No,' he mused, 'I'm glad I went to see that girl. I know now
what I want most. If only Irene will come back I'll be as considerate as
she wishes; she could live her own life; but perhaps--perhaps she would
come round to me.' There was a lump in his throat. And doggedly along
by the railings of the Green Park, towards his father's house, he
went, trying to tread on his shadow walking before him in the brilliant
moonlight.




PART II




CHAPTER I--THE THIRD GENERATION

Jolly Forsyte was strolling down High Street, Oxford, on a November
afternoon; Val Dartie was strolling up. Jolly had just changed out of
boating flannels and was on his way to the 'Frying-pan,' to which he had
recently been elected. Val had just changed out of riding clothes and
was on his way to the fire--a bookmaker's in Cornmarket.

"Hallo!" said Jolly.

"Hallo!" replied Val.

The cousins had met but twice, Jolly, the second-year man, having
invited the freshman to breakfast; and last evening they had seen each
other again under somewhat exotic circumstances.

Over a tailor's in the Cornmarket resided one of those privileged young
beings called minors, whose inheritances are large, whose parents are
dead, whose guardians are remote, and whose instincts are vicious.
At nineteen he had commenced one of those careers attractive and
inexplicable to ordinary mortals for whom a single bankruptcy is good
as a feast. Already famous for having the only roulette table then to
be found in Oxford, he was anticipating his expectations at a dazzling
rate. He out-crummed Crum, though of a sanguine and rather beefy type
which lacked the latter's fascinating languor. For Val it had been in
the nature of baptism to be taken there to play roulette; in the nature
of confirmation to get back into college, after hours, through a
window whose bars were deceptive. Once, during that evening of delight,
glancing up from the seductive green before him, he had caught sight,
through a cloud of smoke, of his cousin standing opposite. 'Rouge gagne,
impair, et manque!' He had not seen him again.

"Come in to the Frying-pan and have tea," said Jolly, and they went in.

A stranger, seeing them together, would have noticed an unseizable
resemblance between these second cousins of the third generations of
Forsytes; the same bone formation in face, though Jolly's eyes were
darker grey, his hair lighter and more wavy.

"Tea and buttered buns, waiter, please," said Jolly.

"Have one of my cigarettes?" said Val. "I saw you last night. How did
you do?"

"I didn't play."

"I won fifteen quid."

Though desirous of repeating a whimsical comment on gambling he had once
heard his father make--'When you're fleeced you're sick, and when you
fleece you're sorry--Jolly contented himself with:

"Rotten game, I think; I was at school with that chap. He's an awful
fool."

"Oh! I don't know," said Val, as one might speak in defence of a
disparaged god; "he's a pretty good sport."

They exchanged whiffs in silence.

"You met my people, didn't you?" said Jolly. "They're coming up
to-morrow."

Val grew a little red.

"Really! I can give you a rare good tip for the Manchester November
handicap."

"Thanks, I only take interest in the classic races."

"You can't make any money over them," said Val.

"I hate the ring," said Jolly; "there's such a row and stink. I like the
paddock."

"I like to back my judgment,"' answered Val.

Jolly smiled; his smile was like his father's.

"I haven't got any. I always lose money if I bet."

"You have to buy experience, of course."

"Yes, but it's all messed-up with doing people in the eye."

"Of course, or they'll do you--that's the excitement."

Jolly looked a little scornful.

"What do you do with yourself? Row?"

"No--ride, and drive about. I'm going to play polo next term, if I can
get my granddad to stump up."

"That's old Uncle James, isn't it? What's he like?"

"Older than forty hills," said Val, "and always thinking he's going to
be ruined."

"I suppose my granddad and he were brothers."

"I don't believe any of that old lot were sportsmen," said Val; "they
must have worshipped money."

"Mine didn't!" said Jolly warmly.

Val flipped the ash off his cigarette.

"Money's only fit to spend," he said; "I wish the deuce I had more."

Jolly gave him that direct upward look of judgment which he had
inherited from old Jolyon: One didn't talk about money! And again there
was silence, while they drank tea and ate the buttered buns.

"Where are your people going to stay?" asked Val, elaborately casual.

"'Rainbow.' What do you think of the war?"

"Rotten, so far. The Boers aren't sports a bit. Why don't they come out
into the open?"

"Why should they? They've got everything against them except their way
of fighting. I rather admire them."

"They can ride and shoot," admitted Val, "but they're a lousy lot. Do
you know Crum?"

"Of Merton? Only by sight. He's in that fast set too, isn't he? Rather
La-di-da and Brummagem."

Val said fixedly: "He's a friend of mine."

"Oh! Sorry!" And they sat awkwardly staring past each other, having
pitched on their pet points of snobbery. For Jolly was forming himself
unconsciously on a set whose motto was:

'We defy you to bore us. Life isn't half long enough, and we're going to
talk faster and more crisply, do more and know more, and dwell less on
any subject than you can possibly imagine. We are "the best"--made of
wire and whipcord.' And Val was unconsciously forming himself on a set
whose motto was: 'We defy you to interest or excite us. We have had
every sensation, or if we haven't, we pretend we have. We are so
exhausted with living that no hours are too small for us. We will lose
our shirts with equanimity. We have flown fast and are past everything.
All is cigarette smoke. Bismillah!' Competitive spirit, bone-deep in the
English, was obliging those two young Forsytes to have ideals; and at
the close of a century ideals are mixed. The aristocracy had already in
the main adopted the 'jumping-Jesus' principle; though here and there
one like Crum--who was an 'honourable'--stood starkly languid for that
gambler's Nirvana which had been the summum bonum of the old 'dandies'
and of 'the mashers' in the eighties. And round Crum were still gathered
a forlorn hope of blue-bloods with a plutocratic following.

But there was between the cousins another far less obvious
antipathy--coming from the unseizable family resemblance, which each
perhaps resented; or from some half-consciousness of that old feud
persisting still between their branches of the clan, formed within them
by odd words or half-hints dropped by their elders. And Jolly, tinkling
his teaspoon, was musing: 'His tie-pin and his waistcoat and his drawl
and his betting--good Lord!'

And Val, finishing his bun, was thinking: 'He's rather a young beast!'

"I suppose you'll be meeting your people?" he said, getting up. "I wish
you'd tell them I should like to show them over B.N.C.--not that there's
anything much there--if they'd care to come."

"Thanks, I'll ask them."

"Would they lunch? I've got rather a decent scout."

Jolly doubted if they would have time.

"You'll ask them, though?"

"Very good of you," said Jolly, fully meaning that they should not go;
but, instinctively polite, he added: "You'd better come and have dinner
with us to-morrow."

"Rather. What time?"

"Seven-thirty."

"Dress?"

"No." And they parted, a subtle antagonism alive within them.

Holly and her father arrived by a midday train. It was her first visit
to the city of spires and dreams, and she was very silent, looking
almost shyly at the brother who was part of this wonderful place. After
lunch she wandered, examining his household gods with intense curiosity.
Jolly's sitting-room was panelled, and Art represented by a set of
Bartolozzi prints which had belonged to old Jolyon, and by college
photographs--of young men, live young men, a little heroic, and to be
compared with her memories of Val. Jolyon also scrutinised with care
that evidence of his boy's character and tastes.

Jolly was anxious that they should see him rowing, so they set forth to
the river. Holly, between her brother and her father, felt elated when
heads were turned and eyes rested on her. That they might see him to the
best advantage they left him at the Barge and crossed the river to the
towing-path. Slight in build--for of all the Forsytes only old Swithin
and George were beefy--Jolly was rowing 'Two' in a trial eight. He
looked very earnest and strenuous. With pride Jolyon thought him the
best-looking boy of the lot; Holly, as became a sister, was more struck
by one or two of the others, but would not have said so for the world.
The river was bright that afternoon, the meadows lush, the trees still
beautiful with colour. Distinguished peace clung around the old city;
Jolyon promised himself a day's sketching if the weather held. The Eight
passed a second time, spurting home along the Barges--Jolly's face was
very set, so as not to show that he was blown. They returned across the
river and waited for him.

"Oh!" said Jolly in the Christ Church meadows, "I had to ask that chap
Val Dartie to dine with us to-night. He wanted to give you lunch and
show you B.N.C., so I thought I'd better; then you needn't go. I don't
like him much."

Holly's rather sallow face had become suffused with pink.

"Why not?"

"Oh! I don't know. He seems to me rather showy and bad form. What are
his people like, Dad? He's only a second cousin, isn't he?"

Jolyon took refuge in a smile.

"Ask Holly," he said; "she saw his uncle."

"I liked Val," Holly answered, staring at the ground before her; "his
uncle looked--awfully different." She stole a glance at Jolly from under
her lashes.

"Did you ever," said Jolyon with whimsical intention, "hear our family
history, my dears? It's quite a fairy tale. The first Jolyon Forsyte--at
all events the first we know anything of, and that would be your
great-great-grandfather--dwelt in the land of Dorset on the edge of the
sea, being by profession an 'agriculturalist,' as your great-aunt put
it, and the son of an agriculturist--farmers, in fact; your grandfather
used to call them, 'Very small beer.'" He looked at Jolly to see how
his lordliness was standing it, and with the other eye noted Holly's
malicious pleasure in the slight drop of her brother's face.

"We may suppose him thick and sturdy, standing for England as it
was before the Industrial Era began. The second Jolyon Forsyte--your
great-grandfather, Jolly; better known as Superior Dosset Forsyte--built
houses, so the chronicle runs, begat ten children, and migrated to
London town. It is known that he drank sherry. We may suppose him
representing the England of Napoleon's wars, and general unrest. The
eldest of his six sons was the third Jolyon, your grandfather, my
dears--tea merchant and chairman of companies, one of the soundest
Englishmen who ever lived--and to me the dearest." Jolyon's voice had
lost its irony, and his son and daughter gazed at him solemnly, "He was
just and tenacious, tender and young at heart. You remember him, and I
remember him. Pass to the others! Your great-uncle James, that's young
Val's grandfather, had a son called Soames--whereby hangs a tale of no
love lost, and I don't think I'll tell it you. James and the other eight
children of 'Superior Dosset,' of whom there are still five alive, may
be said to have represented Victorian England, with its principles of
trade and individualism at five per cent. and your money back--if you
know what that means. At all events they've turned thirty thousand
pounds into a cool million between them in the course of their long
lives. They never did a wild thing--unless it was your great-uncle
Swithin, who I believe was once swindled at thimble-rig, and was called
'Four-in-hand Forsyte' because he drove a pair. Their day is passing,
and their type, not altogether for the advantage of the country.
They were pedestrian, but they too were sound. I am the fourth Jolyon
Forsyte--a poor holder of the name--"

"No, Dad," said Jolly, and Holly squeezed his hand.

"Yes," repeated Jolyon, "a poor specimen, representing, I'm afraid,
nothing but the end of the century, unearned income, amateurism, and
individual liberty--a different thing from individualism, Jolly. You
are the fifth Jolyon Forsyte, old man, and you open the ball of the new
century."

As he spoke they turned in through the college gates, and Holly said:
"It's fascinating, Dad."

None of them quite knew what she meant. Jolly was grave.

The Rainbow, distinguished, as only an Oxford hostel can be, for lack
of modernity, provided one small oak-panelled private sitting-room, in
which Holly sat to receive, white-frocked, shy, and alone, when the only
guest arrived. Rather as one would touch a moth, Val took her hand. And
wouldn't she wear this 'measly flower'? It would look ripping in her
hair. He removed a gardenia from his coat.

"Oh! No, thank you--I couldn't!" But she took it and pinned it at her
neck, having suddenly remembered that word 'showy'! Val's buttonhole
would give offence; and she so much wanted Jolly to like him. Did she
realise that Val was at his best and quietest in her presence, and was
that, perhaps, half the secret of his attraction for her?

"I never said anything about our ride, Val."

"Rather not! It's just between us."

By the uneasiness of his hands and the fidgeting of his feet he was
giving her a sense of power very delicious; a soft feeling too--the wish
to make him happy.

"Do tell me about Oxford. It must be ever so lovely."

Val admitted that it was frightfully decent to do what you liked; the
lectures were nothing; and there were some very good chaps. "Only,"
he added, "of course I wish I was in town, and could come down and see
you."

Holly moved one hand shyly on her knee, and her glance dropped.

"You haven't forgotten," he said, suddenly gathering courage, "that
we're going mad-rabbiting together?"

Holly smiled.

"Oh! That was only make-believe. One can't do that sort of thing after
one's grown up, you know."

"Dash it! cousins can," said Val. "Next Long Vac.--it begins in June,
you know, and goes on for ever--we'll watch our chance."

But, though the thrill of conspiracy ran through her veins, Holly shook
her head. "It won't come off," she murmured.

"Won't it!" said Val fervently; "who's going to stop it? Not your father
or your brother."

At this moment Jolyon and Jolly came in; and romance fled into Val's
patent leather and Holly's white satin toes, where it itched and tingled
during an evening not conspicuous for open-heartedness.

Sensitive to atmosphere, Jolyon soon felt the latent antagonism between
the boys, and was puzzled by Holly; so he became unconsciously ironical,
which is fatal to the expansiveness of youth. A letter, handed to him
after dinner, reduced him to a silence hardly broken till Jolly and Val
rose to go. He went out with them, smoking his cigar, and walked with
his son to the gates of Christ Church. Turning back, he took out the
letter and read it again beneath a lamp.


"DEAR JOLYON,

"Soames came again to-night--my thirty-seventh birthday. You were right,
I mustn't stay here. I'm going to-morrow to the Piedmont Hotel, but I
won't go abroad without seeing you. I feel lonely and down-hearted.

"Yours affectionately,

"IRENE."


He folded the letter back into his pocket and walked on, astonished at
the violence of his feelings. What had the fellow said or done?

He turned into High Street, down the Turf, and on among a maze of spires
and domes and long college fronts and walls, bright or dark-shadowed in
the strong moonlight. In this very heart of England's gentility it was
difficult to realise that a lonely woman could be importuned or hunted,
but what else could her letter mean? Soames must have been pressing her
to go back to him again, with public opinion and the Law on his side,
too! 'Eighteen-ninety-nine!,' he thought, gazing at the broken glass
shining on the top of a villa garden wall; 'but when it comes to
property we're still a heathen people! I'll go up to-morrow morning. I
dare say it'll be best for her to go abroad.' Yet the thought displeased
him. Why should Soames hunt her out of England! Besides, he might
follow, and out there she would be still more helpless against the
attentions of her own husband! 'I must tread warily,' he thought; 'that
fellow could make himself very nasty. I didn't like his manner in the
cab the other night.' His thoughts turned to his daughter June. Could
she help? Once on a time Irene had been her greatest friend, and now she
was a 'lame duck,' such as must appeal to June's nature! He determined
to wire to his daughter to meet him at Paddington Station. Retracing his
steps towards the Rainbow he questioned his own sensations. Would he be
upsetting himself over every woman in like case? No! he would not. The
candour of this conclusion discomfited him; and, finding that Holly had
gone up to bed, he sought his own room. But he could not sleep, and
sat for a long time at his window, huddled in an overcoat, watching the
moonlight on the roofs.

Next door Holly too was awake, thinking of the lashes above and below
Val's eyes, especially below; and of what she could do to make Jolly
like him better. The scent of the gardenia was strong in her little
bedroom, and pleasant to her.

And Val, leaning out of his first-floor window in B.N.C., was gazing
at a moonlit quadrangle without seeing it at all, seeing instead Holly,
slim and white-frocked, as she sat beside the fire when he first went
in.

But Jolly, in his bedroom narrow as a ghost, lay with a hand beneath
his cheek and dreamed he was with Val in one boat, rowing a race against
him, while his father was calling from the towpath: 'Two! Get your hands
away there, bless you!'




CHAPTER II--SOAMES PUTS IT TO THE TOUCH

Of all those radiant firms which emblazon with their windows the West
End of London, Gaves and Cortegal were considered by Soames the most
'attractive' word just coming into fashion. He had never had his Uncle
Swithin's taste in precious stones, and the abandonment by Irene when
she left his house in 1887 of all the glittering things he had given
her had disgusted him with this form of investment. But he still knew a
diamond when he saw one, and during the week before her birthday he had
taken occasion, on his way into the Poultry or his way out therefrom, to
dally a little before the greater jewellers where one got, if not one's
money's worth, at least a certain cachet with the goods.

Constant cogitation since his drive with Jolyon had convinced him more
and more of the supreme importance of this moment in his life, the
supreme need for taking steps and those not wrong. And, alongside
the dry and reasoned sense that it was now or never with his
self-preservation, now or never if he were to range himself and found
a family, went the secret urge of his senses roused by the sight of her
who had once been a passionately desired wife, and the conviction that
it was a sin against common sense and the decent secrecy of Forsytes to
waste the wife he had.

In an opinion on Winifred's case, Dreamer, Q.C.--he would much have
preferred Waterbuck, but they had made him a judge (so late in the day
as to rouse the usual suspicion of a political job)--had advised that
they should go forward and obtain restitution of conjugal rights, a
point which to Soames had never been in doubt. When they had obtained a
decree to that effect they must wait to see if it was obeyed. If not,
it would constitute legal desertion, and they should obtain evidence of
misconduct and file their petition for divorce. All of which Soames knew
perfectly well. They had marked him ten and one. This simplicity in his
sister's case only made him the more desperate about the difficulty
in his own. Everything, in fact, was driving him towards the simple
solution of Irene's return. If it were still against the grain with her,
had he not feelings to subdue, injury to forgive, pain to forget? He
at least had never injured her, and this was a world of compromise! He
could offer her so much more than she had now. He would be prepared
to make a liberal settlement on her which could not be upset. He often
scrutinised his image in these days. He had never been a peacock like
that fellow Dartie, or fancied himself a woman's man, but he had
a certain belief in his own appearance--not unjustly, for it was
well-coupled and preserved, neat, healthy, pale, unblemished by drink
or excess of any kind. The Forsyte jaw and the concentration of his face
were, in his eyes, virtues. So far as he could tell there was no feature
of him which need inspire dislike.

Thoughts and yearnings, with which one lives daily, become natural, even
if far-fetched in their inception. If he could only give tangible proof
enough of his determination to let bygones be bygones, and to do all in
his power to please her, why should she not come back to him?

He entered Gaves and Cortegal's therefore, on the morning of November
the 9th, to buy a certain diamond brooch. "Four twenty-five and dirt
cheap, sir, at the money. It's a lady's brooch." There was that in
his mood which made him accept without demur. And he went on into the
Poultry with the flat green morocco case in his breast pocket. Several
times that day he opened it to look at the seven soft shining stones in
their velvet oval nest.

"If the lady doesn't like it, sir, happy to exchange it any time. But
there's no fear of that." If only there were not! He got through a vast
amount of work, only soother of the nerves he knew. A cablegram came
while he was in the office with details from the agent in Buenos Aires,
and the name and address of a stewardess who would be prepared to swear
to what was necessary. It was a timely spur to Soames, with his rooted
distaste for the washing of dirty linen in public. And when he set forth
by Underground to Victoria Station he received a fresh impetus towards
the renewal of his married life from the account in his evening paper of
a fashionable divorce suit. The homing instinct of all true Forsytes in
anxiety and trouble, the corporate tendency which kept them strong and
solid, made him choose to dine at Park Lane. He neither could nor
would breath a word to his people of his intention--too reticent and
proud--but the thought that at least they would be glad if they knew,
and wish him luck, was heartening.

James was in lugubrious mood, for the fire which the impudence of
Kruger's ultimatum had lit in him had been cold-watered by the poor
success of the last month, and the exhortations to effort in The Times.
He didn't know where it would end. Soames sought to cheer him by the
continual use of the word Buller. But James couldn't tell! There was
Colley--and he got stuck on that hill, and this Ladysmith was down in
a hollow, and altogether it looked to him a 'pretty kettle of fish'; he
thought they ought to be sending the sailors--they were the chaps,
they did a lot of good in the Crimea. Soames shifted the ground of
consolation. Winifred had heard from Val that there had been a 'rag' and
a bonfire on Guy Fawkes Day at Oxford, and that he had escaped detection
by blacking his face.

"Ah!" James muttered, "he's a clever little chap." But he shook his head
shortly afterwards and remarked that he didn't know what would become of
him, and looking wistfully at his son, murmured on that Soames had
never had a boy. He would have liked a grandson of his own name. And
now--well, there it was!

Soames flinched. He had not expected such a challenge to disclose the
secret in his heart. And Emily, who saw him wince, said:

"Nonsense, James; don't talk like that!"

But James, not looking anyone in the face, muttered on. There were Roger
and Nicholas and Jolyon; they all had grandsons. And Swithin and Timothy
had never married. He had done his best; but he would soon be gone now.
And, as though he had uttered words of profound consolation, he was
silent, eating brains with a fork and a piece of bread, and swallowing
the bread.

Soames excused himself directly after dinner. It was not really cold,
but he put on his fur coat, which served to fortify him against the
fits of nervous shivering to which he had been subject all day.
Subconsciously, he knew that he looked better thus than in an ordinary
black overcoat. Then, feeling the morocco case flat against his heart,
he sallied forth. He was no smoker, but he lit a cigarette, and smoked
it gingerly as he walked along. He moved slowly down the Row towards
Knightsbridge, timing himself to get to Chelsea at nine-fifteen. What
did she do with herself evening after evening in that little hole? How
mysterious women were! One lived alongside and knew nothing of them.
What could she have seen in that fellow Bosinney to send her mad? For
there was madness after all in what she had done--crazy moonstruck
madness, in which all sense of values had been lost, and her life
and his life ruined! And for a moment he was filled with a sort of
exaltation, as though he were a man read of in a story who, possessed by
the Christian spirit, would restore to her all the prizes of existence,
forgiving and forgetting, and becoming the godfather of her future.
Under a tree opposite Knightsbridge Barracks, where the moon-light
struck down clear and white, he took out once more the morocco case, and
let the beams draw colour from those stones. Yes, they were of the first
water! But, at the hard closing snap of the case, another cold shiver
ran through his nerves; and he walked on faster, clenching his gloved
hands in the pockets of his coat, almost hoping she would not be in. The
thought of how mysterious she was again beset him. Dining alone there
night after night--in an evening dress, too, as if she were making
believe to be in society! Playing the piano--to herself! Not even a dog
or cat, so far as he had seen. And that reminded him suddenly of the
mare he kept for station work at Mapledurham. If ever he went to the
stable, there she was quite alone, half asleep, and yet, on her home
journeys going more freely than on her way out, as if longing to be
back and lonely in her stable! 'I would treat her well,' he thought
incoherently. 'I would be very careful.' And all that capacity for
home life of which a mocking Fate seemed for ever to have deprived him
swelled suddenly in Soames, so that he dreamed dreams opposite South
Kensington Station. In the King's Road a man came slithering out of a
public house playing a concertina. Soames watched him for a moment dance
crazily on the pavement to his own drawling jagged sounds, then crossed
over to avoid contact with this piece of drunken foolery. A night in the
lock-up! What asses people were! But the man had noticed his movement
of avoidance, and streams of genial blasphemy followed him across the
street. 'I hope they'll run him in,' thought Soames viciously. 'To have
ruffians like that about, with women out alone!' A woman's figure in
front had induced this thought. Her walk seemed oddly familiar, and when
she turned the corner for which he was bound, his heart began to beat.
He hastened on to the corner to make certain. Yes! It was Irene; he
could not mistake her walk in that little drab street. She threaded two
more turnings, and from the last corner he saw her enter her block of
flats. To make sure of her now, he ran those few paces, hurried up the
stairs, and caught her standing at her door. He heard the latchkey in
the lock, and reached her side just as she turned round, startled, in
the open doorway.

"Don't be alarmed," he said, breathless. "I happened to see you. Let me
come in a minute."

She had put her hand up to her breast, her face was colourless, her eyes
widened by alarm. Then seeming to master herself, she inclined her head,
and said: "Very well."

Soames closed the door. He, too, had need to recover, and when she had
passed into the sitting-room, waited a full minute, taking deep breaths
to still the beating of his heart. At this moment, so fraught with the
future, to take out that morocco case seemed crude. Yet, not to take it
out left him there before her with no preliminary excuse for coming. And
in this dilemma he was seized with impatience at all this paraphernalia
of excuse and justification. This was a scene--it could be nothing else,
and he must face it. He heard her voice, uncomfortably, pathetically
soft:

"Why have you come again? Didn't you understand that I would rather you
did not?"

He noticed her clothes--a dark brown velvet corduroy, a sable boa, a
small round toque of the same. They suited her admirably. She had money
to spare for dress, evidently! He said abruptly:

"It's your birthday. I brought you this," and he held out to her the
green morocco case.

"Oh! No-no!"

Soames pressed the clasp; the seven stones gleamed out on the pale grey
velvet.

"Why not?" he said. "Just as a sign that you don't bear me ill-feeling
any longer."

"I couldn't."

Soames took it out of the case.

"Let me just see how it looks."

She shrank back.

He followed, thrusting his hand with the brooch in it against the front
of her dress. She shrank again.

Soames dropped his hand.

"Irene," he said, "let bygones be bygones. If I can, surely you might.
Let's begin again, as if nothing had been. Won't you?" His voice was
wistful, and his eyes, resting on her face, had in them a sort of
supplication.

She, who was standing literally with her back against the wall, gave a
little gulp, and that was all her answer. Soames went on:

"Can you really want to live all your days half-dead in this little
hole? Come back to me, and I'll give you all you want. You shall live
your own life; I swear it."

He saw her face quiver ironically.

"Yes," he repeated, "but I mean it this time. I'll only ask one thing.
I just want--I just want a son. Don't look like that! I want one. It's
hard." His voice had grown hurried, so that he hardly knew it for his
own, and twice he jerked his head back as if struggling for breath. It
was the sight of her eyes fixed on him, dark with a sort of fascinated
fright, which pulled him together and changed that painful incoherence
to anger.

"Is it so very unnatural?" he said between his teeth, "Is it unnatural
to want a child from one's own wife? You wrecked our life and put this
blight on everything. We go on only half alive, and without any future.
Is it so very unflattering to you that in spite of everything I--I still
want you for my wife? Speak, for Goodness' sake! do speak."

Irene seemed to try, but did not succeed.

"I don't want to frighten you," said Soames more gently. "Heaven knows.
I only want you to see that I can't go on like this. I want you back. I
want you."

Irene raised one hand and covered the lower part of her face, but her
eyes never moved from his, as though she trusted in them to keep him at
bay. And all those years, barren and bitter, since--ah! when?--almost
since he had first known her, surged up in one great wave of
recollection in Soames; and a spasm that for his life he could not
control constricted his face.

"It's not too late," he said; "it's not--if you'll only believe it."

Irene uncovered her lips, and both her hands made a writhing gesture in
front of her breast. Soames seized them.

"Don't!" she said under her breath. But he stood holding on to them,
trying to stare into her eyes which did not waver. Then she said
quietly:

"I am alone here. You won't behave again as you once behaved."

Dropping her hands as though they had been hot irons, he turned away.
Was it possible that there could be such relentless unforgiveness! Could
that one act of violent possession be still alive within her? Did it bar
him thus utterly? And doggedly he said, without looking up:

"I am not going till you've answered me. I am offering what few men
would bring themselves to offer, I want a--a reasonable answer."

And almost with surprise he heard her say:

"You can't have a reasonable answer. Reason has nothing to do with it.
You can only have the brutal truth: I would rather die."

Soames stared at her.

"Oh!" he said. And there intervened in him a sort of paralysis of speech
and movement, the kind of quivering which comes when a man has received
a deadly insult, and does not yet know how he is going to take it, or
rather what it is going to do with him.

"Oh!" he said again, "as bad as that? Indeed! You would rather die.
That's pretty!"

"I am sorry. You wanted me to answer. I can't help the truth, can I?"

At that queer spiritual appeal Soames turned for relief to actuality. He
snapped the brooch back into its case and put it in his pocket.

"The truth!" he said; "there's no such thing with women. It's
nerves-nerves."

He heard the whisper:

"Yes; nerves don't lie. Haven't you discovered that?" He was silent,
obsessed by the thought: 'I will hate this woman. I will hate her.' That
was the trouble! If only he could! He shot a glance at her who stood
unmoving against the wall with her head up and her hands clasped, for
all the world as if she were going to be shot. And he said quickly:

"I don't believe a word of it. You have a lover. If you hadn't, you
wouldn't be such a--such a little idiot." He was conscious, before the
expression in her eyes, that he had uttered something of a non-sequitur,
and dropped back too abruptly into the verbal freedom of his connubial
days. He turned away to the door. But he could not go out. Something
within him--that most deep and secret Forsyte quality, the impossibility
of letting go, the impossibility of seeing the fantastic and forlorn
nature of his own tenacity--prevented him. He turned about again, and
there stood, with his back against the door, as hers was against
the wall opposite, quite unconscious of anything ridiculous in this
separation by the whole width of the room.

"Do you ever think of anybody but yourself?" he said.

Irene's lips quivered; then she answered slowly:

"Do you ever think that I found out my mistake--my hopeless, terrible
mistake--the very first week of our marriage; that I went on trying
three years--you know I went on trying? Was it for myself?"

Soames gritted his teeth. "God knows what it was. I've never understood
you; I shall never understand you. You had everything you wanted; and
you can have it again, and more. What's the matter with me? I ask you a
plain question: What is it?" Unconscious of the pathos in that enquiry,
he went on passionately: "I'm not lame, I'm not loathsome, I'm not a
boor, I'm not a fool. What is it? What's the mystery about me?"

Her answer was a long sigh.

He clasped his hands with a gesture that for him was strangely full
of expression. "When I came here to-night I was--I hoped--I meant
everything that I could to do away with the past, and start fair again.
And you meet me with 'nerves,' and silence, and sighs. There's nothing
tangible. It's like--it's like a spider's web."

"Yes."

That whisper from across the room maddened Soames afresh.

"Well, I don't choose to be in a spider's web. I'll cut it." He walked
straight up to her. "Now!" What he had gone up to her to do he really
did not know. But when he was close, the old familiar scent of her
clothes suddenly affected him. He put his hands on her shoulders and
bent forward to kiss her. He kissed not her lips, but a little hard line
where the lips had been drawn in; then his face was pressed away by her
hands; he heard her say: "Oh! No!" Shame, compunction, sense of futility
flooded his whole being, he turned on his heel and went straight out.




CHAPTER III--VISIT TO IRENE

Jolyon found June waiting on the platform at Paddington. She had
received his telegram while at breakfast. Her abode--a studio and two
bedrooms in a St. John's Wood garden--had been selected by her for the
complete independence which it guaranteed. Unwatched by Mrs. Grundy,
unhindered by permanent domestics, she could receive lame ducks at any
hour of day or night, and not seldom had a duck without studio of its
own made use of June's. She enjoyed her freedom, and possessed herself
with a sort of virginal passion; the warmth which she would have
lavished on Bosinney, and of which--given her Forsyte tenacity--he must
surely have tired, she now expended in championship of the underdogs and
budding 'geniuses' of the artistic world. She lived, in fact, to turn
ducks into the swans she believed they were. The very fervour of her
protection warped her judgments. But she was loyal and liberal; her
small eager hand was ever against the oppressions of academic and
commercial opinion, and though her income was considerable, her bank
balance was often a minus quantity.

She had come to Paddington Station heated in her soul by a visit to Eric
Cobbley. A miserable Gallery had refused to let that straight-haired
genius have his one-man show after all. Its impudent manager, after
visiting his studio, had expressed the opinion that it would only be a
'one-horse show from the selling point of view.' This crowning example
of commercial cowardice towards her favourite lame duck--and he so hard
up, with a wife and two children, that he had caused her account to be
overdrawn--was still making the blood glow in her small, resolute face,
and her red-gold hair to shine more than ever. She gave her father a
hug, and got into a cab with him, having as many fish to fry with him as
he with her. It became at once a question which would fry them first.

Jolyon had reached the words: "My dear, I want you to come with me,"
when, glancing at her face, he perceived by her blue eyes moving from
side to side--like the tail of a preoccupied cat--that she was not
attending. "Dad, is it true that I absolutely can't get at any of my
money?"

"Only the income, fortunately, my love."

"How perfectly beastly! Can't it be done somehow? There must be a way. I
know I could buy a small Gallery for ten thousand pounds."

"A small Gallery," murmured Jolyon, "seems a modest desire. But your
grandfather foresaw it."

"I think," cried June vigorously, "that all this care about money is
awful, when there's so much genius in the world simply crushed out for
want of a little. I shall never marry and have children; why shouldn't
I be able to do some good instead of having it all tied up in case of
things which will never come off?"

"Our name is Forsyte, my dear," replied Jolyon in the ironical voice
to which his impetuous daughter had never quite grown accustomed; "and
Forsytes, you know, are people who so settle their property that their
grandchildren, in case they should die before their parents, have to
make wills leaving the property that will only come to themselves
when their parents die. Do you follow that? Nor do I, but it's a fact,
anyway; we live by the principle that so long as there is a possibility
of keeping wealth in the family it must not go out; if you die
unmarried, your money goes to Jolly and Holly and their children if they
marry. Isn't it pleasant to know that whatever you do you can none of
you be destitute?"

"But can't I borrow the money?"

Jolyon shook his head. "You could rent a Gallery, no doubt, if you could
manage it out of your income."

June uttered a contemptuous sound.

"Yes; and have no income left to help anybody with."

"My dear child," murmured Jolyon, "wouldn't it come to the same thing?"

"No," said June shrewdly, "I could buy for ten thousand; that would only
be four hundred a year. But I should have to pay a thousand a year rent,
and that would only leave me five hundred. If I had the Gallery, Dad,
think what I could do. I could make Eric Cobbley's name in no time, and
ever so many others."

"Names worth making make themselves in time."

"When they're dead."

"Did you ever know anybody living, my dear, improved by having his name
made?"

"Yes, you," said June, pressing his arm.

Jolyon started. 'I?' he thought. 'Oh! Ah! Now she's going to ask me to
do something. We take it out, we Forsytes, each in our different ways.'

June came closer to him in the cab.

"Darling," she said, "you buy the Gallery, and I'll pay you four hundred
a year for it. Then neither of us will be any the worse off. Besides,
it's a splendid investment."

Jolyon wriggled. "Don't you think," he said, "that for an artist to buy
a Gallery is a bit dubious? Besides, ten thousand pounds is a lump, and
I'm not a commercial character."

June looked at him with admiring appraisement.

"Of course you're not, but you're awfully businesslike. And I'm sure we
could make it pay. It'll be a perfect way of scoring off those wretched
dealers and people." And again she squeezed her father's arm.

Jolyon's face expressed quizzical despair.

"Where is this desirable Gallery? Splendidly situated, I suppose?"

"Just off Cork Street."

'Ah!' thought Jolyon, 'I knew it was just off somewhere. Now for what I
want out of her!'

"Well, I'll think of it, but not just now. You remember Irene? I want
you to come with me and see her. Soames is after her again. She might be
safer if we could give her asylum somewhere."

The word asylum, which he had used by chance, was of all most calculated
to rouse June's interest.

"Irene! I haven't seen her since! Of course! I'd love to help her."

It was Jolyon's turn to squeeze her arm, in warm admiration for this
spirited, generous-hearted little creature of his begetting.

"Irene is proud," he said, with a sidelong glance, in sudden doubt of
June's discretion; "she's difficult to help. We must tread gently. This
is the place. I wired her to expect us. Let's send up our cards."

"I can't bear Soames," said June as she got out; "he sneers at
everything that isn't successful."

Irene was in what was called the 'Ladies' drawing-room' of the Piedmont
Hotel.

Nothing if not morally courageous, June walked straight up to her former
friend, kissed her cheek, and the two settled down on a sofa never sat
on since the hotel's foundation. Jolyon could see that Irene was deeply
affected by this simple forgiveness.

"So Soames has been worrying you?" he said.

"I had a visit from him last night; he wants me to go back to him."

"You're not going, of course?" cried June.

Irene smiled faintly and shook her head. "But his position is horrible,"
she murmured.

"It's his own fault; he ought to have divorced you when he could."

Jolyon remembered how fervently in the old days June had hoped that no
divorce would smirch her dead and faithless lover's name.

"Let us hear what Irene is going to do," he said.

Irene's lips quivered, but she spoke calmly.

"I'd better give him fresh excuse to get rid of me."

"How horrible!" cried June.

"What else can I do?"

"Out of the question," said Jolyon very quietly, "sans amour."

He thought she was going to cry; but, getting up quickly, she half
turned her back on them, and stood regaining control of herself.

June said suddenly:

"Well, I shall go to Soames and tell him he must leave you alone. What
does he want at his age?"

"A child. It's not unnatural"

"A child!" cried June scornfully. "Of course! To leave his money to. If
he wants one badly enough let him take somebody and have one; then you
can divorce him, and he can marry her."

Jolyon perceived suddenly that he had made a mistake to bring June--her
violent partizanship was fighting Soames' battle.

"It would be best for Irene to come quietly to us at Robin Hill, and see
how things shape."

"Of course," said June; "only...."

Irene looked full at Jolyon--in all his many attempts afterwards to
analyze that glance he never could succeed.

"No! I should only bring trouble on you all. I will go abroad."

He knew from her voice that this was final. The irrelevant thought
flashed through him: 'Well, I could see her there.' But he said:

"Don't you think you would be more helpless abroad, in case he
followed?"

"I don't know. I can but try."

June sprang up and paced the room. "It's all horrible," she said. "Why
should people be tortured and kept miserable and helpless year after
year by this disgusting sanctimonious law?" But someone had come into
the room, and June came to a standstill. Jolyon went up to Irene:

"Do you want money?"

"No."

"And would you like me to let your flat?"

"Yes, Jolyon, please."

"When shall you be going?"

"To-morrow."

"You won't go back there in the meantime, will you?" This he said with
an anxiety strange to himself.

"No; I've got all I want here."

"You'll send me your address?"

She put out her hand to him. "I feel you're a rock."

"Built on sand," answered Jolyon, pressing her hand hard; "but it's a
pleasure to do anything, at any time, remember that. And if you change
your mind...! Come along, June; say good-bye."

June came from the window and flung her arms round Irene.

"Don't think of him," she said under her breath; "enjoy yourself, and
bless you!"

With a memory of tears in Irene's eyes, and of a smile on her lips, they
went away extremely silent, passing the lady who had interrupted the
interview and was turning over the papers on the table.

Opposite the National Gallery June exclaimed:

"Of all undignified beasts and horrible laws!"

But Jolyon did not respond. He had something of his father's balance,
and could see things impartially even when his emotions were roused.
Irene was right; Soames' position was as bad or worse than her own. As
for the law--it catered for a human nature of which it took a naturally
low view. And, feeling that if he stayed in his daughter's company he
would in one way or another commit an indiscretion, he told her he must
catch his train back to Oxford; and hailing a cab, left her to Turner's
water-colours, with the promise that he would think over that Gallery.

But he thought over Irene instead. Pity, they said, was akin to love!
If so he was certainly in danger of loving her, for he pitied her
profoundly. To think of her drifting about Europe so handicapped and
lonely! 'I hope to goodness she'll keep her head!' he thought; 'she
might easily grow desperate.' In fact, now that she had cut loose from
her poor threads of occupation, he couldn't imagine how she would go
on--so beautiful a creature, hopeless, and fair game for anyone! In his
exasperation was more than a little fear and jealousy. Women did strange
things when they were driven into corners. 'I wonder what Soames will do
now!' he thought. 'A rotten, idiotic state of things! And I suppose they
would say it was her own fault.' Very preoccupied and sore at heart, he
got into his train, mislaid his ticket, and on the platform at Oxford
took his hat off to a lady whose face he seemed to remember without
being able to put a name to her, not even when he saw her having tea at
the Rainbow.




CHAPTER IV--WHERE FORSYTES FEAR TO TREAD

Quivering from the defeat of his hopes, with the green morocco case
still flat against his heart, Soames revolved thoughts bitter as death.
A spider's web! Walking fast, and noting nothing in the moonlight,
he brooded over the scene he had been through, over the memory of her
figure rigid in his grasp. And the more he brooded, the more certain
he became that she had a lover--her words, 'I would sooner die!' were
ridiculous if she had not. Even if she had never loved him, she had made
no fuss until Bosinney came on the scene. No; she was in love again, or
she would not have made that melodramatic answer to his proposal, which
in all the circumstances was reasonable! Very well! That simplified
matters.

'I'll take steps to know where I am,' he thought; 'I'll go to Polteed's
the first thing tomorrow morning.'

But even in forming that resolution he knew he would have trouble with
himself. He had employed Polteed's agency several times in the routine
of his profession, even quite lately over Dartie's case, but he had
never thought it possible to employ them to watch his own wife.

It was too insulting to himself!

He slept over that project and his wounded pride--or rather, kept vigil.
Only while shaving did he suddenly remember that she called herself
by her maiden name of Heron. Polteed would not know, at first at all
events, whose wife she was, would not look at him obsequiously and leer
behind his back. She would just be the wife of one of his clients. And
that would be true--for was he not his own solicitor?

He was literally afraid not to put his design into execution at the
first possible moment, lest, after all, he might fail himself. And
making Warmson bring him an early cup of coffee; he stole out of the
house before the hour of breakfast. He walked rapidly to one of those
small West End streets where Polteed's and other firms ministered to the
virtues of the wealthier classes. Hitherto he had always had Polteed to
see him in the Poultry; but he well knew their address, and reached it
at the opening hour. In the outer office, a room furnished so cosily
that it might have been a money-lender's, he was attended by a lady who
might have been a schoolmistress.

"I wish to see Mr. Claud Polteed. He knows me--never mind my name."

To keep everybody from knowing that he, Soames Forsyte, was reduced to
having his wife spied on, was the overpowering consideration.

Mr. Claud Polteed--so different from Mr. Lewis Polteed--was one of those
men with dark hair, slightly curved noses, and quick brown eyes, who
might be taken for Jews but are really Phoenicians; he received Soames
in a room hushed by thickness of carpet and curtains. It was, in fact,
confidentially furnished, without trace of document anywhere to be seen.

Greeting Soames deferentially, he turned the key in the only door with a
certain ostentation.

"If a client sends for me," he was in the habit of saying, "he takes
what precaution he likes. If he comes here, we convince him that we
have no leakages. I may safely say we lead in security, if in nothing
else....Now, sir, what can I do for you?"

Soames' gorge had risen so that he could hardly speak. It was absolutely
necessary to hide from this man that he had any but professional
interest in the matter; and, mechanically, his face assumed its sideway
smile.

"I've come to you early like this because there's not an hour to
lose"--if he lost an hour he might fail himself yet! "Have you a really
trustworthy woman free?"

Mr. Polteed unlocked a drawer, produced a memorandum, ran his eyes over
it, and locked the drawer up again.

"Yes," he said; "the very woman."

Soames had seated himself and crossed his legs--nothing but a faint
flush, which might have been his normal complexion, betrayed him.

"Send her off at once, then, to watch a Mrs. Irene Heron of Flat C,
Truro Mansions, Chelsea, till further notice."

"Precisely," said Mr. Polteed; "divorce, I presume?" and he blew into
a speaking-tube. "Mrs. Blanch in? I shall want to speak to her in ten
minutes."

"Deal with any reports yourself," resumed Soames, "and send them to me
personally, marked confidential, sealed and registered. My client exacts
the utmost secrecy."

Mr. Polteed smiled, as though saying, 'You are teaching your
grandmother, my dear sir;' and his eyes slid over Soames' face for one
unprofessional instant.

"Make his mind perfectly easy," he said. "Do you smoke?"

"No," said Soames. "Understand me: Nothing may come of this. If a
name gets out, or the watching is suspected, it may have very serious
consequences."

Mr. Polteed nodded. "I can put it into the cipher category. Under that
system a name is never mentioned; we work by numbers."

He unlocked another drawer and took out two slips of paper, wrote on
them, and handed one to Soames.

"Keep that, sir; it's your key. I retain this duplicate. The case we'll
call 7x. The party watched will be 17; the watcher 19; the Mansions 25;
yourself--I should say, your firm--31; my firm 32, myself 2. In case you
should have to mention your client in writing I have called him 43; any
person we suspect will be 47; a second person 51. Any special hint or
instruction while we're about it?"

"No," said Soames; "that is--every consideration compatible."

Again Mr. Polteed nodded. "Expense?"

Soames shrugged. "In reason," he answered curtly, and got up. "Keep it
entirely in your own hands."

"Entirely," said Mr. Polteed, appearing suddenly between him and the
door. "I shall be seeing you in that other case before long. Good
morning, sir." His eyes slid unprofessionally over Soames once more, and
he unlocked the door.

"Good morning," said Soames, looking neither to right nor left.

Out in the street he swore deeply, quietly, to himself. A spider's
web, and to cut it he must use this spidery, secret, unclean method,
so utterly repugnant to one who regarded his private life as his most
sacred piece of property. But the die was cast, he could not go back.
And he went on into the Poultry, and locked away the green morocco case
and the key to that cipher destined to make crystal-clear his domestic
bankruptcy.

Odd that one whose life was spent in bringing to the public eye all the
private coils of property, the domestic disagreements of others, should
dread so utterly the public eye turned on his own; and yet not odd,
for who should know so well as he the whole unfeeling process of legal
regulation.

He worked hard all day. Winifred was due at four o'clock; he was to take
her down to a conference in the Temple with Dreamer Q.C., and waiting
for her he re-read the letter he had caused her to write the day of
Dartie's departure, requiring him to return.


"DEAR MONTAGUE,

"I have received your letter with the news that you have left me for
ever and are on your way to Buenos Aires. It has naturally been a great
shock. I am taking this earliest opportunity of writing to tell you
that I am prepared to let bygones be bygones if you will return to me
at once. I beg you to do so. I am very much upset, and will not say any
more now. I am sending this letter registered to the address you left at
your Club. Please cable to me.

"Your still affectionate wife,

"WINIFRED DARTIE."


Ugh! What bitter humbug! He remembered leaning over Winifred while she
copied what he had pencilled, and how she had said, laying down her pen,
"Suppose he comes, Soames!" in such a strange tone of voice, as if she
did not know her own mind. "He won't come," he had answered, "till he's
spent his money. That's why we must act at once." Annexed to the copy of
that letter was the original of Dartie's drunken scrawl from the Iseeum
Club. Soames could have wished it had not been so manifestly penned in
liquor. Just the sort of thing the Court would pitch on. He seemed to
hear the Judge's voice say: "You took this seriously! Seriously enough
to write him as you did? Do you think he meant it?" Never mind! The fact
was clear that Dartie had sailed and had not returned. Annexed also was
his cabled answer: "Impossible return. Dartie." Soames shook his head.
If the whole thing were not disposed of within the next few months the
fellow would turn up again like a bad penny. It saved a thousand a year
at least to get rid of him, besides all the worry to Winifred and his
father. 'I must stiffen Dreamer's back,' he thought; 'we must push it
on.'

Winifred, who had adopted a kind of half-mourning which became her fair
hair and tall figure very well, arrived in James' barouche drawn by
James' pair. Soames had not seen it in the City since his father retired
from business five years ago, and its incongruity gave him a shock.
'Times are changing,' he thought; 'one doesn't know what'll go next!'
Top hats even were scarcer. He enquired after Val. Val, said Winifred,
wrote that he was going to play polo next term. She thought he was in a
very good set. She added with fashionably disguised anxiety: "Will there
be much publicity about my affair, Soames? Must it be in the papers?
It's so bad for him, and the girls."

With his own calamity all raw within him, Soames answered:

"The papers are a pushing lot; it's very difficult to keep things out.
They pretend to be guarding the public's morals, and they corrupt them
with their beastly reports. But we haven't got to that yet. We're
only seeing Dreamer to-day on the restitution question. Of course he
understands that it's to lead to a divorce; but you must seem genuinely
anxious to get Dartie back--you might practice that attitude to-day."

Winifred sighed.

"Oh! What a clown Monty's been!" she said.

Soames gave her a sharp look. It was clear to him that she could not
take her Dartie seriously, and would go back on the whole thing if given
half a chance. His own instinct had been firm in this matter from the
first. To save a little scandal now would only bring on his sister and
her children real disgrace and perhaps ruin later on if Dartie were
allowed to hang on to them, going down-hill and spending the money James
would leave his daughter. Though it was all tied up, that fellow would
milk the settlements somehow, and make his family pay through the
nose to keep him out of bankruptcy or even perhaps gaol! They left
the shining carriage, with the shining horses and the shining-hatted
servants on the Embankment, and walked up to Dreamer Q.C.'s Chambers in
Crown Office Row.

"Mr. Bellby is here, sir," said the clerk; "Mr. Dreamer will be ten
minutes."

Mr. Bellby, the junior--not as junior as he might have been, for Soames
only employed barristers of established reputation; it was, indeed,
something of a mystery to him how barristers ever managed to establish
that which made him employ them--Mr. Bellby was seated, taking a final
glance through his papers. He had come from Court, and was in wig and
gown, which suited a nose jutting out like the handle of a tiny pump,
his small shrewd blue eyes, and rather protruding lower lip--no better
man to supplement and stiffen Dreamer.

The introduction to Winifred accomplished, they leaped the weather and
spoke of the war. Soames interrupted suddenly:

"If he doesn't comply we can't bring proceedings for six months. I want
to get on with the matter, Bellby."

Mr. Bellby, who had the ghost of an Irish brogue, smiled at Winifred and
murmured: "The Law's delays, Mrs. Dartie."

"Six months!" repeated Soames; "it'll drive it up to June! We shan't
get the suit on till after the long vacation. We must put the screw on,
Bellby"--he would have all his work cut out to keep Winifred up to the
scratch.

"Mr. Dreamer will see you now, sir."

They filed in, Mr. Bellby going first, and Soames escorting Winifred
after an interval of one minute by his watch.

Dreamer Q.C., in a gown but divested of wig, was standing before the
fire, as if this conference were in the nature of a treat; he had the
leathery, rather oily complexion which goes with great learning,
a considerable nose with glasses perched on it, and little greyish
whiskers; he luxuriated in the perpetual cocking of one eye, and the
concealment of his lower with his upper lip, which gave a smothered turn
to his speech. He had a way, too, of coming suddenly round the corner on
the person he was talking to; this, with a disconcerting tone of
voice, and a habit of growling before he began to speak--had secured a
reputation second in Probate and Divorce to very few. Having listened,
eye cocked, to Mr. Bellby's breezy recapitulation of the facts, he
growled, and said:

"I know all that;" and coming round the corner at Winifred, smothered
the words:

"We want to get him back, don't we, Mrs. Dartie?"

Soames interposed sharply:

"My sister's position, of course, is intolerable."

Dreamer growled. "Exactly. Now, can we rely on the cabled refusal,
or must we wait till after Christmas to give him a chance to have
written--that's the point, isn't it?"

"The sooner...." Soames began.

"What do you say, Bellby?" said Dreamer, coming round his corner.

Mr. Bellby seemed to sniff the air like a hound.

"We won't be on till the middle of December. We've no need to give um
more rope than that."

"No," said Soames, "why should my sister be incommoded by his choosing
to go..."

"To Jericho!" said Dreamer, again coming round his corner; "quite so.
People oughtn't to go to Jericho, ought they, Mrs. Dartie?" And he
raised his gown into a sort of fantail. "I agree. We can go forward. Is
there anything more?"

"Nothing at present," said Soames meaningly; "I wanted you to see my
sister."

Dreamer growled softly: "Delighted. Good evening!" And let fall the
protection of his gown.

They filed out. Winifred went down the stairs. Soames lingered. In spite
of himself he was impressed by Dreamer.

"The evidence is all right, I think," he said to Bellby. "Between
ourselves, if we don't get the thing through quick, we never may. D'you
think he understands that?"

"I'll make um," said Bellby. "Good man though--good man."

Soames nodded and hastened after his sister. He found her in a draught,
biting her lips behind her veil, and at once said:

"The evidence of the stewardess will be very complete."

Winifred's face hardened; she drew herself up, and they walked to the
carriage. And, all through that silent drive back to Green Street, the
souls of both of them revolved a single thought: 'Why, oh! why should I
have to expose my misfortune to the public like this? Why have to employ
spies to peer into my private troubles? They were not of my making.'




CHAPTER V--JOLLY SITS IN JUDGMENT

The possessive instinct, which, so determinedly balked, was animating
two members of the Forsyte family towards riddance of what they could
no longer possess, was hardening daily in the British body politic.
Nicholas, originally so doubtful concerning a war which must affect
property, had been heard to say that these Boers were a pig-headed lot;
they were causing a lot of expense, and the sooner they had their lesson
the better. He would send out Wolseley! Seeing always a little further
than other people--whence the most considerable fortune of all the
Forsytes--he had perceived already that Buller was not the man--'a bull
of a chap, who just went butting, and if they didn't look out Ladysmith
would fall.' This was early in December, so that when Black Week came,
he was enabled to say to everybody: 'I told you so.' During that week of
gloom such as no Forsyte could remember, very young Nicholas attended
so many drills in his corps, 'The Devil's Own,' that young Nicholas
consulted the family physician about his son's health and was alarmed
to find that he was perfectly sound. The boy had only just eaten his
dinners and been called to the bar, at some expense, and it was in a
way a nightmare to his father and mother that he should be playing with
military efficiency at a time when military efficiency in the civilian
population might conceivably be wanted. His grandfather, of course,
pooh-poohed the notion, too thoroughly educated in the feeling that no
British war could be other than little and professional, and profoundly
distrustful of Imperial commitments, by which, moreover, he stood to
lose, for he owned De Beers, now going down fast, more than a sufficient
sacrifice on the part of his grandson.

At Oxford, however, rather different sentiments prevailed. The inherent
effervescence of conglomerate youth had, during the two months of the
term before Black Week, been gradually crystallising out into vivid
oppositions. Normal adolescence, ever in England of a conservative
tendency though not taking things too seriously, was vehement for a
fight to a finish and a good licking for the Boers. Of this larger
faction Val Dartie was naturally a member. Radical youth, on the other
hand, a small but perhaps more vocal body, was for stopping the war and
giving the Boers autonomy. Until Black Week, however, the groups were
amorphous, without sharp edges, and argument remained but academic.
Jolly was one of those who knew not where he stood. A streak of his
grandfather old Jolyon's love of justice prevented, him from seeing
one side only. Moreover, in his set of 'the best' there was a
'jumping-Jesus' of extremely advanced opinions and some personal
magnetism. Jolly wavered. His father, too, seemed doubtful in his views.
And though, as was proper at the age of twenty, he kept a sharp eye on
his father, watchful for defects which might still be remedied, still
that father had an 'air' which gave a sort of glamour to his creed of
ironic tolerance. Artists of course; were notoriously Hamlet-like, and
to this extent one must discount for one's father, even if one loved
him. But Jolyon's original view, that to 'put your nose in where you
aren't wanted' (as the Uitlanders had done) 'and then work the oracle
till you get on top is not being quite the clean potato,' had, whether
founded in fact or no, a certain attraction for his son, who thought a
deal about gentility. On the other hand Jolly could not abide such as
his set called 'cranks,' and Val's set called 'smugs,' so that he was
still balancing when the clock of Black Week struck. One--two--three,
came those ominous repulses at Stormberg, Magersfontein, Colenso. The
sturdy English soul reacting after the first cried, 'Ah! but Methuen!'
after the second: 'Ah! but Buller!' then, in inspissated gloom,
hardened. And Jolly said to himself: 'No, damn it! We've got to lick the
beggars now; I don't care whether we're right or wrong.' And, if he had
known it, his father was thinking the same thought.

That next Sunday, last of the term, Jolly was bidden to wine with 'one
of the best.' After the second toast, 'Buller and damnation to the
Boers,' drunk--no heel taps--in the college Burgundy, he noticed that
Val Dartie, also a guest, was looking at him with a grin and saying
something to his neighbour. He was sure it was disparaging. The last boy
in the world to make himself conspicuous or cause public disturbance,
Jolly grew rather red and shut his lips. The queer hostility he
had always felt towards his second-cousin was strongly and suddenly
reinforced. 'All right!' he thought, 'you wait, my friend!' More wine
than was good for him, as the custom was, helped him to remember, when
they all trooped forth to a secluded spot, to touch Val on the arm.

"What did you say about me in there?"

"Mayn't I say what I like?"

"No."

"Well, I said you were a pro-Boer--and so you are!"

"You're a liar!"

"D'you want a row?"

"Of course, but not here; in the garden."

"All right. Come on."

They went, eyeing each other askance, unsteady, and unflinching; they
climbed the garden railings. The spikes on the top slightly ripped Val's
sleeve, and occupied his mind. Jolly's mind was occupied by the thought
that they were going to fight in the precincts of a college foreign to
them both. It was not the thing, but never mind--the young beast!

They passed over the grass into very nearly darkness, and took off their
coats.

"You're not screwed, are you?" said Jolly suddenly. "I can't fight you
if you're screwed."

"No more than you."

"All right then."

Without shaking hands, they put themselves at once into postures of
defence. They had drunk too much for science, and so were especially
careful to assume correct attitudes, until Jolly smote Val almost
accidentally on the nose. After that it was all a dark and ugly
scrimmage in the deep shadow of the old trees, with no one to call
'time,' till, battered and blown, they unclinched and staggered back
from each other, as a voice said:

"Your names, young gentlemen?"

At this bland query spoken from under the lamp at the garden gate, like
some demand of a god, their nerves gave way, and snatching up their
coats, they ran at the railings, shinned up them, and made for the
secluded spot whence they had issued to the fight. Here, in dim light,
they mopped their faces, and without a word walked, ten paces apart, to
the college gate. They went out silently, Val going towards the Broad
along the Brewery, Jolly down the lane towards the High. His head, still
fumed, was busy with regret that he had not displayed more science,
passing in review the counters and knockout blows which he had not
delivered. His mind strayed on to an imagined combat, infinitely unlike
that which he had just been through, infinitely gallant, with sash and
sword, with thrust and parry, as if he were in the pages of his beloved
Dumas. He fancied himself La Mole, and Aramis, Bussy, Chicot, and
D'Artagnan rolled into one, but he quite failed to envisage Val as
Coconnas, Brissac, or Rochefort. The fellow was just a confounded cousin
who didn't come up to Cocker. Never mind! He had given him one or two.
'Pro-Boer!' The word still rankled, and thoughts of enlisting jostled
his aching head; of riding over the veldt, firing gallantly, while the
Boers rolled over like rabbits. And, turning up his smarting eyes, he
saw the stars shining between the housetops of the High, and himself
lying out on the Karoo (whatever that was) rolled in a blanket, with his
rifle ready and his gaze fixed on a glittering heaven.

He had a fearful 'head' next morning, which he doctored, as became one
of 'the best,' by soaking it in cold water, brewing strong coffee which
he could not drink, and only sipping a little Hock at lunch. The legend
that 'some fool' had run into him round a corner accounted for a bruise
on his cheek. He would on no account have mentioned the fight, for, on
second thoughts, it fell far short of his standards.

The next day he went 'down,' and travelled through to Robin Hill. Nobody
was there but June and Holly, for his father had gone to Paris. He spent
a restless and unsettled Vacation, quite out of touch with either of his
sisters. June, indeed, was occupied with lame ducks, whom, as a rule,
Jolly could not stand, especially that Eric Cobbley and his family,
'hopeless outsiders,' who were always littering up the house in the
Vacation. And between Holly and himself there was a strange division,
as if she were beginning to have opinions of her own, which was
so--unnecessary. He punched viciously at a ball, rode furiously but
alone in Richmond Park, making a point of jumping the stiff, high
hurdles put up to close certain worn avenues of grass--keeping his nerve
in, he called it. Jolly was more afraid of being afraid than most boys
are. He bought a rifle, too, and put a range up in the home field,
shooting across the pond into the kitchen-garden wall, to the peril of
gardeners, with the thought that some day, perhaps, he would enlist and
save South Africa for his country. In fact, now that they were appealing
for Yeomanry recruits the boy was thoroughly upset. Ought he to go?
None of 'the best,' so far as he knew--and he was in correspondence with
several--were thinking of joining. If they had been making a move he
would have gone at once--very competitive, and with a strong sense of
form, he could not bear to be left behind in anything--but to do it
off his own bat might look like 'swagger'; because of course it wasn't
really necessary. Besides, he did not want to go, for the other side
of this young Forsyte recoiled from leaping before he looked. It was
altogether mixed pickles within him, hot and sickly pickles, and he
became quite unlike his serene and rather lordly self.

And then one day he saw that which moved him to uneasy wrath--two
riders, in a glade of the Park close to the Ham Gate, of whom she on
the left-hand was most assuredly Holly on her silver roan, and he on the
right-hand as assuredly that 'squirt' Val Dartie. His first impulse was
to urge on his own horse and demand the meaning of this portent, tell
the fellow to 'bunk,' and take Holly home. His second--to feel that he
would look a fool if they refused. He reined his horse in behind a tree,
then perceived that it was equally impossible to spy on them. Nothing
for it but to go home and await her coming! Sneaking out with that young
bounder! He could not consult with June, because she had gone up that
morning in the train of Eric Cobbley and his lot. And his father was
still in 'that rotten Paris.' He felt that this was emphatically one of
those moments for which he had trained himself, assiduously, at school,
where he and a boy called Brent had frequently set fire to newspapers
and placed them in the centre of their studies to accustom them to
coolness in moments of danger. He did not feel at all cool waiting in
the stable-yard, idly stroking the dog Balthasar, who queasy as an old
fat monk, and sad in the absence of his master, turned up his face,
panting with gratitude for this attention. It was half an hour before
Holly came, flushed and ever so much prettier than she had any right to
look. He saw her look at him quickly--guiltily of course--then followed
her in, and, taking her arm, conducted her into what had been their
grandfather's study. The room, not much used now, was still vaguely
haunted for them both by a presence with which they associated
tenderness, large drooping white moustaches, the scent of cigar smoke,
and laughter. Here Jolly, in the prime of his youth, before he went to
school at all, had been wont to wrestle with his grandfather, who even
at eighty had an irresistible habit of crooking his leg. Here Holly,
perched on the arm of the great leather chair, had stroked hair curving
silvery over an ear into which she would whisper secrets. Through that
window they had all three sallied times without number to cricket on the
lawn, and a mysterious game called 'Wopsy-doozle,' not to be understood
by outsiders, which made old Jolyon very hot. Here once on a warm night
Holly had appeared in her 'nighty,' having had a bad dream, to have the
clutch of it released. And here Jolly, having begun the day badly by
introducing fizzy magnesia into Mademoiselle Beauce's new-laid egg, and
gone on to worse, had been sent down (in the absence of his father) to
the ensuing dialogue:

"Now, my boy, you mustn't go on like this."

"Well, she boxed my ears, Gran, so I only boxed hers, and then she boxed
mine again."

"Strike a lady? That'll never do! Have you begged her pardon?"

"Not yet."

"Then you must go and do it at once. Come along."

"But she began it, Gran; and she had two to my one."

"My dear, it was an outrageous thing to do."

"Well, she lost her temper; and I didn't lose mine."

"Come along."

"You come too, then, Gran."

"Well--this time only."

And they had gone hand in hand.

Here--where the Waverley novels and Byron's works and Gibbon's Roman
Empire and Humboldt's Cosmos, and the bronzes on the mantelpiece, and
that masterpiece of the oily school, 'Dutch Fishing-Boats at Sunset,'
were fixed as fate, and for all sign of change old Jolyon might have
been sitting there still, with legs crossed, in the arm chair, and domed
forehead and deep eyes grave above The Times--here they came, those two
grandchildren. And Jolly said:

"I saw you and that fellow in the Park."

The sight of blood rushing into her cheeks gave him some satisfaction;
she ought to be ashamed!

"Well?" she said.

Jolly was surprised; he had expected more, or less.

"Do you know," he said weightily, "that he called me a pro-Boer last
term? And I had to fight him."

"Who won?"

Jolly wished to answer: 'I should have,' but it seemed beneath him.

"Look here!" he said, "what's the meaning of it? Without telling
anybody!"

"Why should I? Dad isn't here; why shouldn't I ride with him?"

"You've got me to ride with. I think he's an awful young rotter."

Holly went pale with anger.

"He isn't. It's your own fault for not liking him."

And slipping past her brother she went out, leaving him staring at the
bronze Venus sitting on a tortoise, which had been shielded from him so
far by his sister's dark head under her soft felt riding hat. He
felt queerly disturbed, shaken to his young foundations. A lifelong
domination lay shattered round his feet. He went up to the Venus and
mechanically inspected the tortoise.

Why didn't he like Val Dartie? He could not tell. Ignorant of family
history, barely aware of that vague feud which had started thirteen
years before with Bosinney's defection from June in favour of Soames'
wife, knowing really almost nothing about Val he was at sea. He just did
dislike him. The question, however, was: What should he do? Val Dartie,
it was true, was a second-cousin, but it was not the thing for Holly
to go about with him. And yet to 'tell' of what he had chanced on was
against his creed. In this dilemma he went and sat in the old leather
chair and crossed his legs. It grew dark while he sat there staring out
through the long window at the old oak-tree, ample yet bare of leaves,
becoming slowly just a shape of deeper dark printed on the dusk.

'Grandfather!' he thought without sequence, and took out his watch. He
could not see the hands, but he set the repeater going. 'Five o'clock!'
His grandfather's first gold hunter watch, butter-smooth with age--all
the milling worn from it, and dented with the mark of many a fall. The
chime was like a little voice from out of that golden age, when they
first came from St. John's Wood, London, to this house--came driving
with grandfather in his carriage, and almost instantly took to the
trees. Trees to climb, and grandfather watering the geranium-beds below!
What was to be done? Tell Dad he must come home? Confide in June?--only
she was so--so sudden! Do nothing and trust to luck? After all, the Vac.
would soon be over. Go up and see Val and warn him off? But how get
his address? Holly wouldn't give it him! A maze of paths, a cloud of
possibilities! He lit a cigarette. When he had smoked it halfway through
his brow relaxed, almost as if some thin old hand had been passed gently
over it; and in his ear something seemed to whisper: 'Do nothing; be
nice to Holly, be nice to her, my dear!' And Jolly heaved a sigh of
contentment, blowing smoke through his nostrils....

But up in her room, divested of her habit, Holly was still frowning. 'He
is not--he is not!' were the words which kept forming on her lips.




CHAPTER VI--JOLYON IN TWO MINDS

A little private hotel over a well-known restaurant near the Gare
St. Lazare was Jolyon's haunt in Paris. He hated his fellow Forsytes
abroad--vapid as fish out of water in their well-trodden runs, the
Opera, Rue de Rivoli, and Moulin Rouge. Their air of having come because
they wanted to be somewhere else as soon as possible annoyed him. But
no other Forsyte came near this haunt, where he had a wood fire in
his bedroom and the coffee was excellent. Paris was always to him
more attractive in winter. The acrid savour from woodsmoke and
chestnut-roasting braziers, the sharpness of the wintry sunshine
on bright rays, the open cafes defying keen-aired winter, the
self-contained brisk boulevard crowds, all informed him that in winter
Paris possessed a soul which, like a migrant bird, in high summer flew
away.

He spoke French well, had some friends, knew little places where
pleasant dishes could be met with, queer types observed. He felt
philosophic in Paris, the edge of irony sharpened; life took on a
subtle, purposeless meaning, became a bunch of flavours tasted, a
darkness shot with shifting gleams of light.

When in the first week of December he decided to go to Paris, he was
far from admitting that Irene's presence was influencing him. He had not
been there two days before he owned that the wish to see her had
been more than half the reason. In England one did not admit what was
natural. He had thought it might be well to speak to her about the
letting of her flat and other matters, but in Paris he at once knew
better. There was a glamour over the city. On the third day he wrote to
her, and received an answer which procured him a pleasurable shiver of
the nerves:


"MY DEAR JOLYON,

"It will be a happiness for me to see you.

"IRENE."


He took his way to her hotel on a bright day with a feeling such as he
had often had going to visit an adored picture. No woman, so far as
he remembered, had ever inspired in him this special sensuous and yet
impersonal sensation. He was going to sit and feast his eyes, and come
away knowing her no better, but ready to go and feast his eyes again
to-morrow. Such was his feeling, when in the tarnished and ornate little
lounge of a quiet hotel near the river she came to him preceded by a
small page-boy who uttered the word, "Madame," and vanished. Her face,
her smile, the poise of her figure, were just as he had pictured, and
the expression of her face said plainly: 'A friend!'

"Well," he said, "what news, poor exile?"

"None."

"Nothing from Soames?"

"Nothing."

"I have let the flat for you, and like a good steward I bring you some
money. How do you like Paris?"

While he put her through this catechism, it seemed to him that he had
never seen lips so fine and sensitive, the lower lip curving just a
little upwards, the upper touched at one corner by the least conceivable
dimple. It was like discovering a woman in what had hitherto been a sort
of soft and breathed-on statue, almost impersonally admired. She owned
that to be alone in Paris was a little difficult; and yet, Paris was so
full of its own life that it was often, she confessed, as innocuous as a
desert. Besides, the English were not liked just now!

"That will hardly be your case," said Jolyon; "you should appeal to the
French."

"It has its disadvantages."

Jolyon nodded.

"Well, you must let me take you about while I'm here. We'll start
to-morrow. Come and dine at my pet restaurant; and we'll go to the
Opera-Comique."

It was the beginning of daily meetings.

Jolyon soon found that for those who desired a static condition of the
affections, Paris was at once the first and last place in which to be
friendly with a pretty woman. Revelation was alighting like a bird in
his heart, singing: 'Elle est ton reve! Elle est ton reve! Sometimes
this seemed natural, sometimes ludicrous--a bad case of elderly rapture.
Having once been ostracised by Society, he had never since had any real
regard for conventional morality; but the idea of a love which she could
never return--and how could she at his age?--hardly mounted beyond his
subconscious mind. He was full, too, of resentment, at the waste and
loneliness of her life. Aware of being some comfort to her, and of the
pleasure she clearly took in their many little outings, he was amiably
desirous of doing and saying nothing to destroy that pleasure. It was
like watching a starved plant draw up water, to see her drink in his
companionship. So far as they could tell, no one knew her address except
himself; she was unknown in Paris, and he but little known, so that
discretion seemed unnecessary in those walks, talks, visits to concerts,
picture-galleries, theatres, little dinners, expeditions to Versailles,
St. Cloud, even Fontainebleau. And time fled--one of those full months
without past to it or future. What in his youth would certainly have
been headlong passion, was now perhaps as deep a feeling, but
far gentler, tempered to protective companionship by admiration,
hopelessness, and a sense of chivalry--arrested in his veins at least so
long as she was there, smiling and happy in their friendship, and always
to him more beautiful and spiritually responsive: for her philosophy
of life seemed to march in admirable step with his own, conditioned
by emotion more than by reason, ironically mistrustful, susceptible
to beauty, almost passionately humane and tolerant, yet subject to
instinctive rigidities of which as a mere man he was less capable. And
during all this companionable month he never quite lost that feeling
with which he had set out on the first day as if to visit an adored work
of art, a well-nigh impersonal desire. The future--inexorable pendant
to the present he took care not to face, for fear of breaking up his
untroubled manner; but he made plans to renew this time in places still
more delightful, where the sun was hot and there were strange things
to see and paint. The end came swiftly on the 20th of January with a
telegram:

"Have enlisted in Imperial Yeomanry. JOLLY."

Jolyon received it just as he was setting out to meet her at the Louvre.
It brought him up with a round turn. While he was lotus-eating here, his
boy, whose philosopher and guide he ought to be, had taken this great
step towards danger, hardship, perhaps even death. He felt disturbed
to the soul, realising suddenly how Irene had twined herself round the
roots of his being. Thus threatened with severance, the tie between
them--for it had become a kind of tie--no longer had impersonal quality.
The tranquil enjoyment of things in common, Jolyon perceived, was gone
for ever. He saw his feeling as it was, in the nature of an infatuation.
Ridiculous, perhaps, but so real that sooner or later it must disclose
itself. And now, as it seemed to him, he could not, must not, make any
such disclosure. The news of Jolly stood inexorably in the way. He was
proud of this enlistment; proud of his boy for going off to fight for
the country; for on Jolyon's pro-Boerism, too, Black Week had left its
mark. And so the end was reached before the beginning! Well, luckily he
had never made a sign!

When he came into the Gallery she was standing before the 'Virgin of the
Rocks,' graceful, absorbed, smiling and unconscious. 'Have I to give up
seeing that?' he thought. 'It's unnatural, so long as she's willing that
I should see her.' He stood, unnoticed, watching her, storing up the
image of her figure, envying the picture on which she was bending that
long scrutiny. Twice she turned her head towards the entrance, and he
thought: 'That's for me!' At last he went forward.

"Look!" he said.

She read the telegram, and he heard her sigh.

That sigh, too, was for him! His position was really cruel! To be
loyal to his son he must just shake her hand and go. To be loyal to the
feeling in his heart he must at least tell her what that feeling was.
Could she, would she understand the silence in which he was gazing at
that picture?

"I'm afraid I must go home at once," he said at last. "I shall miss all
this awfully."

"So shall I; but, of course, you must go."

"Well!" said Jolyon holding out his hand.

Meeting her eyes, a flood of feeling nearly mastered him.

"Such is life!" he said. "Take care of yourself, my dear!"

He had a stumbling sensation in his legs and feet, as if his brain
refused to steer him away from her. From the doorway, he saw her
lift her hand and touch its fingers with her lips. He raised his hat
solemnly, and did not look back again.




CHAPTER VII--DARTIE VERSUS DARTIE

The suit--Dartie versus Dartie--for restitution of those conjugal rights
concerning which Winifred was at heart so deeply undecided, followed the
laws of subtraction towards day of judgment. This was not reached before
the Courts rose for Christmas, but the case was third on the list when
they sat again. Winifred spent the Christmas holidays a thought more
fashionably than usual, with the matter locked up in her low-cut bosom.
James was particularly liberal to her that Christmas, expressing thereby
his sympathy, and relief, at the approaching dissolution of her marriage
with that 'precious rascal,' which his old heart felt but his old lips
could not utter.

The disappearance of Dartie made the fall in Consols a comparatively
small matter; and as to the scandal--the real animus he felt against
that fellow, and the increasing lead which property was attaining over
reputation in a true Forsyte about to leave this world, served to drug
a mind from which all allusions to the matter (except his own) were
studiously kept. What worried him as a lawyer and a parent was the fear
that Dartie might suddenly turn up and obey the Order of the Court when
made. That would be a pretty how-de-do! The fear preyed on him in fact
so much that, in presenting Winifred with a large Christmas cheque, he
said: "It's chiefly for that chap out there; to keep him from coming
back." It was, of course, to pitch away good money, but all in the
nature of insurance against that bankruptcy which would no longer hang
over him if only the divorce went through; and he questioned Winifred
rigorously until she could assure him that the money had been sent. Poor
woman!--it cost her many a pang to send what must find its way into the
vanity-bag of 'that creature!' Soames, hearing of it, shook his head.
They were not dealing with a Forsyte, reasonably tenacious of his
purpose. It was very risky without knowing how the land lay out there.
Still, it would look well with the Court; and he would see that Dreamer
brought it out. "I wonder," he said suddenly, "where that ballet goes
after the Argentine"; never omitting a chance of reminder; for he knew
that Winifred still had a weakness, if not for Dartie, at least for
not laundering him in public. Though not good at showing admiration, he
admitted that she was behaving extremely well, with all her children at
home gaping like young birds for news of their father--Imogen just on
the point of coming out, and Val very restive about the whole thing.
He felt that Val was the real heart of the matter to Winifred, who
certainly loved him beyond her other children. The boy could spoke the
wheel of this divorce yet if he set his mind to it. And Soames was very
careful to keep the proximity of the preliminary proceedings from his
nephew's ears. He did more. He asked him to dine at the Remove, and over
Val's cigar introduced the subject which he knew to be nearest to his
heart.

"I hear," he said, "that you want to play polo up at Oxford."

Val became less recumbent in his chair.

"Rather!" he said.

"Well," continued Soames, "that's a very expensive business. Your
grandfather isn't likely to consent to it unless he can make sure that
he's not got any other drain on him." And he paused to see whether the
boy understood his meaning.

Val's thick dark lashes concealed his eyes, but a slight grimace
appeared on his wide mouth, and he muttered:

"I suppose you mean my Dad!"

"Yes," said Soames; "I'm afraid it depends on whether he continues to be
a drag or not;" and said no more, letting the boy dream it over.

But Val was also dreaming in those days of a silver-roan palfrey and a
girl riding it. Though Crum was in town and an introduction to Cynthia
Dark to be had for the asking, Val did not ask; indeed, he shunned Crum
and lived a life strange even to himself, except in so far as accounts
with tailor and livery stable were concerned. To his mother, his
sisters, his young brother, he seemed to spend this Vacation in 'seeing
fellows,' and his evenings sleepily at home. They could not propose
anything in daylight that did not meet with the one response: "Sorry;
I've got to see a fellow"; and he was put to extraordinary shifts to get
in and out of the house unobserved in riding clothes; until, being made
a member of the Goat's Club, he was able to transport them there, where
he could change unregarded and slip off on his hack to Richmond Park. He
kept his growing sentiment religiously to himself. Not for a world
would he breathe to the 'fellows,' whom he was not 'seeing,' anything so
ridiculous from the point of view of their creed and his. But he could
not help its destroying his other appetites. It was coming between him
and the legitimate pleasures of youth at last on its own in a way which
must, he knew, make him a milksop in the eyes of Crum. All he cared
for was to dress in his last-created riding togs, and steal away to the
Robin Hill Gate, where presently the silver roan would come demurely
sidling with its slim and dark-haired rider, and in the glades bare of
leaves they would go off side by side, not talking very much, riding
races sometimes, and sometimes holding hands. More than once of an
evening, in a moment of expansion, he had been tempted to tell his
mother how this shy sweet cousin had stolen in upon him and wrecked his
'life.' But bitter experience, that all persons above thirty-five were
spoil-sports, prevented him. After all, he supposed he would have to
go through with College, and she would have to 'come out,' before they
could be married; so why complicate things, so long as he could see her?
Sisters were teasing and unsympathetic beings, a brother worse, so there
was no one to confide in. Ah! And this beastly divorce business! What a
misfortune to have a name which other people hadn't! If only he had
been called Gordon or Scott or Howard or something fairly common! But
Dartie--there wasn't another in the directory! One might as well have
been named Morkin for all the covert it afforded! So matters went on,
till one day in the middle of January the silver-roan palfrey and its
rider were missing at the tryst. Lingering in the cold, he debated
whether he should ride on to the house: But Jolly might be there, and
the memory of their dark encounter was still fresh within him. One could
not be always fighting with her brother! So he returned dismally to town
and spent an evening plunged in gloom. At breakfast next day he noticed
that his mother had on an unfamiliar dress and was wearing her hat.
The dress was black with a glimpse of peacock blue, the hat black and
large--she looked exceptionally well. But when after breakfast she said
to him, "Come in here, Val," and led the way to the drawing-room, he was
at once beset by qualms. Winifred carefully shut the door and passed her
handkerchief over her lips; inhaling the violette de Parme with which it
had been soaked, Val thought: 'Has she found out about Holly?'

Her voice interrupted

"Are you going to be nice to me, dear boy?"

Val grinned doubtfully.

"Will you come with me this morning...."

"I've got to see...." began Val, but something in her face stopped him.
"I say," he said, "you don't mean...."

"Yes, I have to go to the Court this morning." Already!--that d---d
business which he had almost succeeded in forgetting, since nobody ever
mentioned it. In self-commiseration he stood picking little bits of skin
off his fingers. Then noticing that his mother's lips were all awry,
he said impulsively: "All right, mother; I'll come. The brutes!" What
brutes he did not know, but the expression exactly summed up their joint
feeling, and restored a measure of equanimity.

"I suppose I'd better change into a 'shooter,"' he muttered, escaping to
his room. He put on the 'shooter,' a higher collar, a pearl pin, and his
neatest grey spats, to a somewhat blasphemous accompaniment. Looking at
himself in the glass, he said, "Well, I'm damned if I'm going to show
anything!" and went down. He found his grandfather's carriage at the
door, and his mother in furs, with the appearance of one going to a
Mansion House Assembly. They seated themselves side by side in the
closed barouche, and all the way to the Courts of Justice Val made but
one allusion to the business in hand. "There'll be nothing about those
pearls, will there?"

The little tufted white tails of Winifred's muff began to shiver.

"Oh, no," she said, "it'll be quite harmless to-day. Your grandmother
wanted to come too, but I wouldn't let her. I thought you could take
care of me. You look so nice, Val. Just pull your coat collar up a
little more at the back--that's right."

"If they bully you...." began Val.

"Oh! they won't. I shall be very cool. It's the only way."

"They won't want me to give evidence or anything?"

"No, dear; it's all arranged." And she patted his hand. The determined
front she was putting on it stayed the turmoil in Val's chest, and he
busied himself in drawing his gloves off and on. He had taken what he
now saw was the wrong pair to go with his spats; they should have been
grey, but were deerskin of a dark tan; whether to keep them on or not he
could not decide. They arrived soon after ten. It was his first visit to
the Law Courts, and the building struck him at once.

"By Jove!" he said as they passed into the hall, "this'd make four or
five jolly good racket courts."

Soames was awaiting them at the foot of some stairs.

"Here you are!" he said, without shaking hands, as if the event had made
them too familiar for such formalities. "It's Happerly Browne, Court I.
We shall be on first."

A sensation such as he had known when going in to bat was playing now in
the top of Val's chest, but he followed his mother and uncle doggedly,
looking at no more than he could help, and thinking that the place
smelled 'fuggy.' People seemed to be lurking everywhere, and he plucked
Soames by the sleeve.

"I say, Uncle, you're not going to let those beastly papers in, are
you?"

Soames gave him the sideway look which had reduced many to silence in
its time.

"In here," he said. "You needn't take off your furs, Winifred."

Val entered behind them, nettled and with his head up. In this
confounded hole everybody--and there were a good many of them--seemed
sitting on everybody else's knee, though really divided from each other
by pews; and Val had a feeling that they might all slip down together
into the well. This, however, was but a momentary vision--of mahogany,
and black gowns, and white blobs of wigs and faces and papers, all
rather secret and whispery--before he was sitting next his mother in the
front row, with his back to it all, glad of her violette de Parme, and
taking off his gloves for the last time. His mother was looking at him;
he was suddenly conscious that she had really wanted him there next to
her, and that he counted for something in this business.

All right! He would show them! Squaring his shoulders, he crossed his
legs and gazed inscrutably at his spats. But just then an 'old Johnny'
in a gown and long wig, looking awfully like a funny raddled woman, came
through a door into the high pew opposite, and he had to uncross his
legs hastily, and stand up with everybody else.

'Dartie versus Dartie!'

It seemed to Val unspeakably disgusting to have one's name called out
like this in public! And, suddenly conscious that someone nearly behind
him had begun talking about his family, he screwed his face round to
see an old be-wigged buffer, who spoke as if he were eating his own
words--queer-looking old cuss, the sort of man he had seen once or twice
dining at Park Lane and punishing the port; he knew now where they 'dug
them up.' All the same he found the old buffer quite fascinating, and
would have continued to stare if his mother had not touched his arm.
Reduced to gazing before him, he fixed his eyes on the Judge's face
instead. Why should that old 'sportsman' with his sarcastic mouth
and his quick-moving eyes have the power to meddle with their private
affairs--hadn't he affairs of his own, just as many, and probably just
as nasty? And there moved in Val, like an illness, all the deep-seated
individualism of his breed. The voice behind him droned along:
"Differences about money matters--extravagance of the respondent" (What
a word! Was that his father?)--"strained situation--frequent absences
on the part of Mr. Dartie. My client, very rightly, your
Ludship will agree, was anxious to check a course--but lead to
ruin--remonstrated--gambling at cards and on the racecourse--" ('That's
right!' thought Val, 'pile it on!') "Crisis early in October, when the
respondent wrote her this letter from his Club." Val sat up and his
ears burned. "I propose to read it with the emendations necessary to the
epistle of a gentleman who has been--shall we say dining, me Lud?"

'Old brute!' thought Val, flushing deeper; 'you're not paid to make
jokes!'

"'You will not get the chance to insult me again in my own house. I am
leaving the country to-morrow. It's played out'--an expression, your
Ludship, not unknown in the mouths of those who have not met with
conspicuous success."

'Sniggering owls!' thought Val, and his flush deepened.

"'I am tired of being insulted by you.' My client will tell your
Ludship that these so-called insults consisted in her calling him
'the limit',--a very mild expression, I venture to suggest, in all the
circumstances."

Val glanced sideways at his mother's impassive face, it had a hunted
look in the eyes. 'Poor mother,' he thought, and touched her arm with
his own. The voice behind droned on.

"'I am going to live a new life. M. D.'"

"And next day, me Lud, the respondent left by the steamship Tuscarora
for Buenos Aires. Since then we have nothing from him but a cabled
refusal in answer to the letter which my client wrote the following day
in great distress, begging him to return to her. With your Ludship's
permission. I shall now put Mrs. Dartie in the box."

When his mother rose, Val had a tremendous impulse to rise too and say:
'Look here! I'm going to see you jolly well treat her decently.' He
subdued it, however; heard her saying, 'the truth, the whole truth, and
nothing but the truth,' and looked up. She made a rich figure of it, in
her furs and large hat, with a slight flush on her cheek-bones, calm,
matter-of-fact; and he felt proud of her thus confronting all these
'confounded lawyers.' The examination began. Knowing that this was
only the preliminary to divorce, Val followed with a certain glee the
questions framed so as to give the impression that she really wanted
his father back. It seemed to him that they were 'foxing Old Bagwigs
finely.'

And he received a most unpleasant jar when the Judge said suddenly:

"Now, why did your husband leave you--not because you called him 'the
limit,' you know?"

Val saw his uncle lift his eyes to the witness box, without moving his
face; heard a shuffle of papers behind him; and instinct told him that
the issue was in peril. Had Uncle Soames and the old buffer behind made
a mess of it? His mother was speaking with a slight drawl.

"No, my Lord, but it had gone on a long time."

"What had gone on?"

"Our differences about money."

"But you supplied the money. Do you suggest that he left you to better
his position?"

'The brute! The old brute, and nothing but the brute!' thought Val
suddenly. 'He smells a rat he's trying to get at the pastry!' And his
heart stood still. If--if he did, then, of course, he would know that
his mother didn't really want his father back. His mother spoke again, a
thought more fashionably.

"No, my Lord, but you see I had refused to give him any more money. It
took him a long time to believe that, but he did at last--and when he
did...."

"I see, you had refused. But you've sent him some since."

"My Lord, I wanted him back."

"And you thought that would bring him?"

"I don't know, my Lord, I acted on my father's advice."

Something in the Judge's face, in the sound of the papers behind him, in
the sudden crossing of his uncle's legs, told Val that she had made just
the right answer. 'Crafty!' he thought; 'by Jove, what humbug it all
is!'

The Judge was speaking:

"Just one more question, Mrs. Dartie. Are you still fond of your
husband?"

Val's hands, slack behind him, became fists. What business had that
Judge to make things human suddenly? To make his mother speak out of her
heart, and say what, perhaps, she didn't know herself, before all these
people! It wasn't decent. His mother answered, rather low: "Yes, my
Lord." Val saw the Judge nod. 'Wish I could take a cock-shy at your
head!' he thought irreverently, as his mother came back to her seat
beside him. Witnesses to his father's departure and continued absence
followed--one of their own maids even, which struck Val as particularly
beastly; there was more talking, all humbug; and then the Judge
pronounced the decree for restitution, and they got up to go. Val walked
out behind his mother, chin squared, eyelids drooped, doing his level
best to despise everybody. His mother's voice in the corridor roused him
from an angry trance.

"You behaved beautifully, dear. It was such a comfort to have you. Your
uncle and I are going to lunch."

"All right," said Val; "I shall have time to go and see that fellow."
And, parting from them abruptly, he ran down the stairs and out into the
air. He bolted into a hansom, and drove to the Goat's Club. His thoughts
were on Holly and what he must do before her brother showed her this
thing in to-morrow's paper.

              *****

When Val had left them Soames and Winifred made their way to the
Cheshire Cheese. He had suggested it as a meeting place with Mr.
Bellby. At that early hour of noon they would have it to themselves,
and Winifred had thought it would be 'amusing' to see this far-famed
hostelry. Having ordered a light repast, to the consternation of the
waiter, they awaited its arrival together with that of Mr. Bellby, in
silent reaction after the hour and a half's suspense on the tenterhooks
of publicity. Mr. Bellby entered presently, preceded by his nose,
as cheerful as they were glum. Well! they had got the decree of
restitution, and what was the matter with that!

"Quite," said Soames in a suitably low voice, "but we shall have to
begin again to get evidence. He'll probably try the divorce--it will
look fishy if it comes out that we knew of misconduct from the start.
His questions showed well enough that he doesn't like this restitution
dodge."

"Pho!" said Mr. Bellby cheerily, "he'll forget! Why, man, he'll have
tried a hundred cases between now and then. Besides, he's bound by
precedent to give ye your divorce, if the evidence is satisfactory. We
won't let um know that Mrs. Dartie had knowledge of the facts. Dreamer
did it very nicely--he's got a fatherly touch about um!"

Soames nodded.

"And I compliment ye, Mrs. Dartie," went on Mr. Bellby; "ye've a natural
gift for giving evidence. Steady as a rock."

Here the waiter arrived with three plates balanced on one arm, and the
remark: "I 'urried up the pudden, sir. You'll find plenty o' lark in it
to-day."

Mr. Bellby applauded his forethought with a dip of his nose. But Soames
and Winifred looked with dismay at their light lunch of gravified
brown masses, touching them gingerly with their forks in the hope of
distinguishing the bodies of the tasty little song-givers. Having begun,
however, they found they were hungrier than they thought, and finished
the lot, with a glass of port apiece. Conversation turned on the war.
Soames thought Ladysmith would fall, and it might last a year. Bellby
thought it would be over by the summer. Both agreed that they wanted
more men. There was nothing for it but complete victory, since it was
now a question of prestige. Winifred brought things back to more solid
ground by saying that she did not want the divorce suit to come on till
after the summer holidays had begun at Oxford, then the boys would have
forgotten about it before Val had to go up again; the London season too
would be over. The lawyers reassured her, an interval of six months was
necessary--after that the earlier the better. People were now beginning
to come in, and they parted--Soames to the city, Bellby to his chambers,
Winifred in a hansom to Park Lane to let her mother know how she had
fared. The issue had been so satisfactory on the whole that it was
considered advisable to tell James, who never failed to say day after
day that he didn't know about Winifred's affair, he couldn't tell. As
his sands ran out; the importance of mundane matters became increasingly
grave to him, as if he were feeling: 'I must make the most of it, and
worry well; I shall soon have nothing to worry about.'

He received the report grudgingly. It was a new-fangled way of going
about things, and he didn't know! But he gave Winifred a cheque, saying:

"I expect you'll have a lot of expense. That's a new hat you've got on.
Why doesn't Val come and see us?"

Winifred promised to bring him to dinner soon. And, going home, she
sought her bedroom where she could be alone. Now that her husband had
been ordered back into her custody with a view to putting him away from
her for ever, she would try once more to find out from her sore and
lonely heart what she really wanted.




CHAPTER VIII--THE CHALLENGE

The morning had been misty, verging on frost, but the sun came out while
Val was jogging towards the Roehampton Gate, whence he would canter
on to the usual tryst. His spirits were rising rapidly. There had been
nothing so very terrible in the morning's proceedings beyond the general
disgrace of violated privacy. 'If we were engaged!' he thought, 'what
happens wouldn't matter.' He felt, indeed, like human society, which
kicks and clamours at the results of matrimony, and hastens to get
married. And he galloped over the winter-dried grass of Richmond Park,
fearing to be late. But again he was alone at the trysting spot, and
this second defection on the part of Holly upset him dreadfully. He
could not go back without seeing her to-day! Emerging from the Park, he
proceeded towards Robin Hill. He could not make up his mind for whom to
ask. Suppose her father were back, or her sister or brother were in!
He decided to gamble, and ask for them all first, so that if he were in
luck and they were not there, it would be quite natural in the end to
ask for Holly; while if any of them were in--an 'excuse for a ride' must
be his saving grace.

"Only Miss Holly is in, sir."

"Oh! thanks. Might I take my horse round to the stables? And would you
say--her cousin, Mr. Val Dartie."

When he returned she was in the hall, very flushed and shy. She led him
to the far end, and they sat down on a wide window-seat.

"I've been awfully anxious," said Val in a low voice. "What's the
matter?"

"Jolly knows about our riding."

"Is he in?"

"No; but I expect he will be soon."

"Then!" cried Val, and diving forward, he seized her hand. She tried to
withdraw it, failed, gave up the attempt, and looked at him wistfully.

"First of all," he said, "I want to tell you something about my family.
My Dad, you know, isn't altogether--I mean, he's left my mother and
they're trying to divorce him; so they've ordered him to come back, you
see. You'll see that in the paper to-morrow."

Her eyes deepened in colour and fearful interest; her hand squeezed his.
But the gambler in Val was roused now, and he hurried on:

"Of course there's nothing very much at present, but there will be, I
expect, before it's over; divorce suits are beastly, you know. I wanted
to tell you, because--because--you ought to know--if--" and he began
to stammer, gazing at her troubled eyes, "if--if you're going to be
a darling and love me, Holly. I love you--ever so; and I want to be
engaged." He had done it in a manner so inadequate that he could have
punched his own head; and dropping on his knees, he tried to get nearer
to that soft, troubled face. "You do love me--don't you? If you don't
I...." There was a moment of silence and suspense, so awful that he
could hear the sound of a mowing-machine far out on the lawn pretending
there was grass to cut. Then she swayed forward; her free hand touched
his hair, and he gasped: "Oh, Holly!"

Her answer was very soft: "Oh, Val!"

He had dreamed of this moment, but always in an imperative mood, as the
masterful young lover, and now he felt humble, touched, trembly. He was
afraid to stir off his knees lest he should break the spell; lest, if he
did, she should shrink and deny her own surrender--so tremulous was she
in his grasp, with her eyelids closed and his lips nearing them. Her
eyes opened, seemed to swim a little; he pressed his lips to hers.
Suddenly he sprang up; there had been footsteps, a sort of startled
grunt. He looked round. No one! But the long curtains which barred off
the outer hall were quivering.

"My God! Who was that?"

Holly too was on her feet.

"Jolly, I expect," she whispered.

Val clenched fists and resolution.

"All right!" he said, "I don't care a bit now we're engaged," and
striding towards the curtains, he drew them aside. There at the
fireplace in the hall stood Jolly, with his back elaborately turned. Val
went forward. Jolly faced round on him.

"I beg your pardon for hearing," he said.

With the best intentions in the world, Val could not help admiring him
at that moment; his face was clear, his voice quiet, he looked somehow
distinguished, as if acting up to principle.

"Well!" Val said abruptly, "it's nothing to you."

"Oh!" said Jolly; "you come this way," and he crossed the hall. Val
followed. At the study door he felt a touch on his arm; Holly's voice
said:

"I'm coming too."

"No," said Jolly.

"Yes," said Holly.

Jolly opened the door, and they all three went in. Once in the little
room, they stood in a sort of triangle on three corners of the worn
Turkey carpet; awkwardly upright, not looking at each other, quite
incapable of seeing any humour in the situation.

Val broke the silence.

"Holly and I are engaged."

Jolly stepped back and leaned against the lintel of the window.

"This is our house," he said; "I'm not going to insult you in it. But my
father's away. I'm in charge of my sister. You've taken advantage of me.

"I didn't mean to," said Val hotly.

"I think you did," said Jolly. "If you hadn't meant to, you'd have
spoken to me, or waited for my father to come back."

"There were reasons," said Val.

"What reasons?"

"About my family--I've just told her. I wanted her to know before things
happen."

Jolly suddenly became less distinguished.

"You're kids," he said, "and you know you are.

"I am not a kid," said Val.

"You are--you're not twenty."

"Well, what are you?"

"I am twenty," said Jolly.

"Only just; anyway, I'm as good a man as you."

Jolly's face crimsoned, then clouded. Some struggle was evidently taking
place in him; and Val and Holly stared at him, so clearly was that
struggle marked; they could even hear him breathing. Then his face
cleared up and became oddly resolute.

"We'll see that," he said. "I dare you to do what I'm going to do."

"Dare me?"

Jolly smiled. "Yes," he said, "dare you; and I know very well you
won't."

A stab of misgiving shot through Val; this was riding very blind.

"I haven't forgotten that you're a fire-eater," said Jolly slowly, "and
I think that's about all you are; or that you called me a pro-Boer."

Val heard a gasp above the sound of his own hard breathing, and saw
Holly's face poked a little forward, very pale, with big eyes.

"Yes," went on Jolly with a sort of smile, "we shall soon see. I'm going
to join the Imperial Yeomanry, and I dare you to do the same, Mr. Val
Dartie."

Val's head jerked on its stem. It was like a blow between the eyes, so
utterly unthought of, so extreme and ugly in the midst of his dreaming;
and he looked at Holly with eyes grown suddenly, touchingly haggard.

"Sit down!" said Jolly. "Take your time! Think it over well." And he
himself sat down on the arm of his grandfather's chair.

Val did not sit down; he stood with hands thrust deep into his breeches'
pockets-hands clenched and quivering. The full awfulness of this
decision one way or the other knocked at his mind with double knocks as
of an angry postman. If he did not take that 'dare' he was disgraced
in Holly's eyes, and in the eyes of that young enemy, her brute of a
brother. Yet if he took it, ah! then all would vanish--her face, her
eyes, her hair, her kisses just begun!

"Take your time," said Jolly again; "I don't want to be unfair."

And they both looked at Holly. She had recoiled against the bookshelves
reaching to the ceiling; her dark head leaned against Gibbon's Roman
Empire, her eyes in a sort of soft grey agony were fixed on Val. And he,
who had not much gift of insight, had suddenly a gleam of vision. She
would be proud of her brother--that enemy! She would be ashamed of him!
His hands came out of his pockets as if lifted by a spring.

"All right!" he said. "Done!"

Holly's face--oh! it was queer! He saw her flush, start forward. He
had done the right thing--her face was shining with wistful admiration.
Jolly stood up and made a little bow as who should say: 'You've passed.'

"To-morrow, then," he said, "we'll go together."

Recovering from the impetus which had carried him to that decision,
Val looked at him maliciously from under his lashes. 'All right,' he
thought, 'one to you. I shall have to join--but I'll get back on you
somehow.' And he said with dignity: "I shall be ready."

"We'll meet at the main Recruiting Office, then," said Jolly, "at
twelve o'clock." And, opening the window, he went out on to the terrace,
conforming to the creed which had made him retire when he surprised them
in the hall.

The confusion in the mind of Val thus left alone with her for whom he
had paid this sudden price was extreme. The mood of 'showing-off' was
still, however, uppermost. One must do the wretched thing with an air.

"We shall get plenty of riding and shooting, anyway," he said; "that's
one comfort." And it gave him a sort of grim pleasure to hear the sigh
which seemed to come from the bottom of her heart.

"Oh! the war'll soon be over," he said; "perhaps we shan't even have
to go out. I don't care, except for you." He would be out of the way
of that beastly divorce. It was an ill-wind! He felt her warm hand slip
into his. Jolly thought he had stopped their loving each other, did he?
He held her tightly round the waist, looking at her softly through his
lashes, smiling to cheer her up, promising to come down and see her
soon, feeling somehow six inches taller and much more in command of her
than he had ever dared feel before. Many times he kissed her before he
mounted and rode back to town. So, swiftly, on the least provocation,
does the possessive instinct flourish and grow.




CHAPTER IX--DINNER AT JAMES'

Dinner parties were not now given at James' in Park Lane--to every house
the moment comes when Master or Mistress is no longer 'up to it'; no
more can nine courses be served to twenty mouths above twenty fine
white expanses; nor does the household cat any longer wonder why she is
suddenly shut up.

So with something like excitement Emily--who at seventy would still have
liked a little feast and fashion now and then--ordered dinner for six
instead of two, herself wrote a number of foreign words on cards, and
arranged the flowers--mimosa from the Riviera, and white Roman hyacinths
not from Rome. There would only be, of course, James and herself,
Soames, Winifred, Val, and Imogen--but she liked to pretend a little and
dally in imagination with the glory of the past. She so dressed herself
that James remarked:

"What are you putting on that thing for? You'll catch cold."

But Emily knew that the necks of women are protected by love of shining,
unto fourscore years, and she only answered:

"Let me put you on one of those dickies I got you, James; then you'll
only have to change your trousers, and put on your velvet coat, and
there you'll be. Val likes you to look nice."

"Dicky!" said James. "You're always wasting your money on something."

But he suffered the change to be made till his neck also shone,
murmuring vaguely:

"He's an extravagant chap, I'm afraid."

A little brighter in the eye, with rather more colour than usual in his
cheeks, he took his seat in the drawing-room to wait for the sound of
the front-door bell.

"I've made it a proper dinner party," Emily said comfortably; "I thought
it would be good practice for Imogen--she must get used to it now she's
coming out."

James uttered an indeterminate sound, thinking of Imogen as she used to
climb about his knee or pull Christmas crackers with him.

"She'll be pretty," he muttered, "I shouldn't wonder."

"She is pretty," said Emily; "she ought to make a good match."

"There you go," murmured James; "she'd much better stay at home and look
after her mother." A second Dartie carrying off his pretty granddaughter
would finish him! He had never quite forgiven Emily for having been as
much taken in by Montague Dartie as he himself had been.

"Where's Warmson?" he said suddenly. "I should like a glass of Madeira
to-night."

"There's champagne, James."

James shook his head. "No body," he said; "I can't get any good out of
it."

Emily reached forward on her side of the fire and rang the bell.

"Your master would like a bottle of Madeira opened, Warmson."

"No, no!" said James, the tips of his ears quivering with vehemence, and
his eyes fixed on an object seen by him alone. "Look here, Warmson, you
go to the inner cellar, and on the middle shelf of the end bin on the
left you'll see seven bottles; take the one in the centre, and don't
shake it. It's the last of the Madeira I had from Mr. Jolyon when we
came in here--never been moved; it ought to be in prime condition still;
but I don't know, I can't tell."

"Very good, sir," responded the withdrawing Warmson.

"I was keeping it for our golden wedding," said James suddenly, "but I
shan't live three years at my age."

"Nonsense, James," said Emily, "don't talk like that."

"I ought to have got it up myself," murmured James, "he'll shake it as
likely as not." And he sank into silent recollection of long moments
among the open gas-jets, the cobwebs and the good smell of wine-soaked
corks, which had been appetiser to so many feasts. In the wine from that
cellar was written the history of the forty odd years since he had come
to the Park Lane house with his young bride, and of the many generations
of friends and acquaintances who had passed into the unknown; its
depleted bins preserved the record of family festivity--all the
marriages, births, deaths of his kith and kin. And when he was gone
there it would be, and he didn't know what would become of it. It'd be
drunk or spoiled, he shouldn't wonder!

From that deep reverie the entrance of his son dragged him, followed
very soon by that of Winifred and her two eldest.

They went down arm-in-arm--James with Imogen, the debutante, because
his pretty grandchild cheered him; Soames with Winifred; Emily with Val,
whose eyes lighting on the oysters brightened. This was to be a proper
full 'blowout' with 'fizz' and port! And he felt in need of it, after
what he had done that day, as yet undivulged. After the first glass or
two it became pleasant to have this bombshell up his sleeve, this piece
of sensational patriotism, or example, rather, of personal daring, to
display--for his pleasure in what he had done for his Queen and Country
was so far entirely personal. He was now a 'blood,' indissolubly
connected with guns and horses; he had a right to swagger--not, of
course, that he was going to. He should just announce it quietly, when
there was a pause. And, glancing down the menu, he determined on 'Bombe
aux fraises' as the proper moment; there would be a certain solemnity
while they were eating that. Once or twice before they reached that rosy
summit of the dinner he was attacked by remembrance that his grandfather
was never told anything! Still, the old boy was drinking Madeira, and
looking jolly fit! Besides, he ought to be pleased at this set-off to
the disgrace of the divorce. The sight of his uncle opposite, too, was
a sharp incentive. He was so far from being a sportsman that it would be
worth a lot to see his face. Besides, better to tell his mother in this
way than privately, which might upset them both! He was sorry for her,
but after all one couldn't be expected to feel much for others when one
had to part from Holly.

His grandfather's voice travelled to him thinly. "Val, try a little of
the Madeira with your ice. You won't get that up at college."

Val watched the slow liquid filling his glass, the essential oil of the
old wine glazing the surface; inhaled its aroma, and thought: 'Now for
it!' It was a rich moment. He sipped, and a gentle glow spread in his
veins, already heated. With a rapid look round, he said, "I joined
the Imperial Yeomanry to-day, Granny," and emptied his glass as though
drinking the health of his own act.

"What!" It was his mother's desolate little word.

"Young Jolly Forsyte and I went down there together."

"You didn't sign?" from Uncle Soames.

"Rather! We go into camp on Monday."

"I say!" cried Imogen.

All looked at James. He was leaning forward with his hand behind his
ear.

"What's that?" he said. "What's he saying? I can't hear."

Emily reached forward to pat Val's hand.

"It's only that Val has joined the Yeomanry, James; it's very nice for
him. He'll look his best in uniform."

"Joined the--rubbish!" came from James, tremulously loud. "You can't see
two yards before your nose. He--he'll have to go out there. Why! he'll
be fighting before he knows where he is."

Val saw Imogen's eyes admiring him, and his mother still and fashionable
with her handkerchief before her lips.

Suddenly his uncle spoke.

"You're under age."

"I thought of that," smiled Val; "I gave my age as twenty-one."

He heard his grandmother's admiring, "Well, Val, that was plucky of
you;" was conscious of Warmson deferentially filling his champagne
glass; and of his grandfather's voice moaning: "I don't know what'll
become of you if you go on like this."

Imogen was patting his shoulder, his uncle looking at him sidelong; only
his mother sat unmoving, till, affected by her stillness, Val said:

"It's all right, you know; we shall soon have them on the run. I only
hope I shall come in for something."

He felt elated, sorry, tremendously important all at once. This would
show Uncle Soames, and all the Forsytes, how to be sportsmen. He had
certainly done something heroic and exceptional in giving his age as
twenty-one.

Emily's voice brought him back to earth.

"You mustn't have a second glass, James. Warmson!"

"Won't they be astonished at Timothy's!" burst out Imogen. "I'd give
anything to see their faces. Do you have a sword, Val, or only a
popgun?"

"What made you?"

His uncle's voice produced a slight chill in the pit of Val's stomach.
Made him? How answer that? He was grateful for his grandmother's
comfortable:

"Well, I think it's very plucky of Val. I'm sure he'll make a splendid
soldier; he's just the figure for it. We shall all be proud of him."

"What had young Jolly Forsyte to do with it? Why did you go together?"
pursued Soames, uncannily relentless. "I thought you weren't friendly
with him?"

"I'm not," mumbled Val, "but I wasn't going to be beaten by him." He
saw his uncle look at him quite differently, as if approving. His
grandfather was nodding too, his grandmother tossing her head. They all
approved of his not being beaten by that cousin of his. There must be
a reason! Val was dimly conscious of some disturbing point outside his
range of vision; as it might be, the unlocated centre of a cyclone. And,
staring at his uncle's face, he had a quite unaccountable vision of a
woman with dark eyes, gold hair, and a white neck, who smelt nice, and
had pretty silken clothes which he had liked feeling when he was quite
small. By Jove, yes! Aunt Irene! She used to kiss him, and he had bitten
her arm once, playfully, because he liked it--so soft. His grandfather
was speaking:

"What's his father doing?"

"He's away in Paris," Val said, staring at the very queer expression on
his uncle's face, like--like that of a snarling dog.

"Artists!" said James. The word coming from the very bottom of his soul,
broke up the dinner.

Opposite his mother in the cab going home, Val tasted the after-fruits
of heroism, like medlars over-ripe.

She only said, indeed, that he must go to his tailor's at once and have
his uniform properly made, and not just put up with what they gave him.
But he could feel that she was very much upset. It was on his lips to
console her with the spoken thought that he would be out of the way of
that beastly divorce, but the presence of Imogen, and the knowledge
that his mother would not be out of the way, restrained him. He felt
aggrieved that she did not seem more proud of him. When Imogen had gone
to bed, he risked the emotional.

"I'm awfully sorry to have to leave you, Mother."

"Well, I must make the best of it. We must try and get you a commission
as soon as we can; then you won't have to rough it so. Do you know any
drill, Val?"

"Not a scrap."

"I hope they won't worry you much. I must take you about to get the
things to-morrow. Good-night; kiss me."

With that kiss, soft and hot, between his eyes, and those words, 'I hope
they won't worry you much,' in his ears, he sat down to a cigarette,
before a dying fire. The heat was out of him--the glow of cutting a
dash. It was all a damned heart-aching bore. 'I'll be even with that
chap Jolly,' he thought, trailing up the stairs, past the room where his
mother was biting her pillow to smother a sense of desolation which was
trying to make her sob.

And soon only one of the diners at James' was awake--Soames, in his
bedroom above his father's.

So that fellow Jolyon was in Paris--what was he doing there? Hanging
round Irene! The last report from Polteed had hinted that there might
be something soon. Could it be this? That fellow, with his beard and his
cursed amused way of speaking--son of the old man who had given him the
nickname 'Man of Property,' and bought the fatal house from him. Soames
had ever resented having had to sell the house at Robin Hill; never
forgiven his uncle for having bought it, or his cousin for living in it.

Reckless of the cold, he threw his window up and gazed out across the
Park. Bleak and dark the January night; little sound of traffic; a frost
coming; bare trees; a star or two. 'I'll see Polteed to-morrow,' he
thought. 'By God! I'm mad, I think, to want her still. That fellow!
If...? Um! No!'




CHAPTER X--DEATH OF THE DOG BALTHASAR

Jolyon, who had crossed from Calais by night, arrived at Robin Hill on
Sunday morning. He had sent no word beforehand, so walked up from the
station, entering his domain by the coppice gate. Coming to the log
seat fashioned out of an old fallen trunk, he sat down, first laying his
overcoat on it.

'Lumbago!' he thought; 'that's what love ends in at my time of life!'
And suddenly Irene seemed very near, just as she had been that day of
rambling at Fontainebleau when they had sat on a log to eat their lunch.
Hauntingly near! Odour drawn out of fallen leaves by the pale-filtering
sunlight soaked his nostrils. 'I'm glad it isn't spring,' he thought.
With the scent of sap, and the song of birds, and the bursting of the
blossoms, it would have been unbearable! 'I hope I shall be over it by
then, old fool that I am!' and picking up his coat, he walked on into
the field. He passed the pond and mounted the hill slowly.

Near the top a hoarse barking greeted him. Up on the lawn above the
fernery he could see his old dog Balthasar. The animal, whose dim eyes
took his master for a stranger, was warning the world against him.
Jolyon gave his special whistle. Even at that distance of a hundred
yards and more he could see the dawning recognition in the obese
brown-white body. The old dog got off his haunches, and his tail,
close-curled over his back, began a feeble, excited fluttering; he came
waddling forward, gathered momentum, and disappeared over the edge
of the fernery. Jolyon expected to meet him at the wicket gate, but
Balthasar was not there, and, rather alarmed, he turned into the
fernery. On his fat side, looking up with eyes already glazing, the old
dog lay.

"What is it, my poor old man?" cried Jolyon. Balthasar's curled and
fluffy tail just moved; his filming eyes seemed saying: "I can't get up,
master, but I'm glad to see you."

Jolyon knelt down; his eyes, very dimmed, could hardly see the slowly
ceasing heave of the dog's side. He raised the head a little--very
heavy.

"What is it, dear man? Where are you hurt?" The tail fluttered once; the
eyes lost the look of life. Jolyon passed his hands all over the inert
warm bulk. There was nothing--the heart had simply failed in that obese
body from the emotion of his master's return. Jolyon could feel the
muzzle, where a few whitish bristles grew, cooling already against his
lips. He stayed for some minutes kneeling; with his hand beneath the
stiffening head. The body was very heavy when he bore it to the top of
the field; leaves had drifted there, and he strewed it with a covering
of them; there was no wind, and they would keep him from curious eyes
until the afternoon. 'I'll bury him myself,' he thought. Eighteen years
had gone since he first went into the St. John's Wood house with that
tiny puppy in his pocket. Strange that the old dog should die just now!
Was it an omen? He turned at the gate to look back at that russet mound,
then went slowly towards the house, very choky in the throat.

June was at home; she had come down hotfoot on hearing the news of
Jolly's enlistment. His patriotism had conquered her feeling for the
Boers. The atmosphere of his house was strange and pocketty when Jolyon
came in and told them of the dog Balthasar's death. The news had a
unifying effect. A link with the past had snapped--the dog Balthasar!
Two of them could remember nothing before his day; to June he
represented the last years of her grandfather; to Jolyon that life of
domestic stress and aesthetic struggle before he came again into the
kingdom of his father's love and wealth! And he was gone!

In the afternoon he and Jolly took picks and spades and went out to the
field. They chose a spot close to the russet mound, so that they need
not carry him far, and, carefully cutting off the surface turf, began to
dig. They dug in silence for ten minutes, and then rested.

"Well, old man," said Jolyon, "so you thought you ought?"

"Yes," answered Jolly; "I don't want to a bit, of course."

How exactly those words represented Jolyon's own state of mind

"I admire you for it, old boy. I don't believe I should have done it at
your age--too much of a Forsyte, I'm afraid. But I suppose the type gets
thinner with each generation. Your son, if you have one, may be a pure
altruist; who knows?"

"He won't be like me, then, Dad; I'm beastly selfish."

"No, my dear, that you clearly are not." Jolly shook his head, and they
dug again.

"Strange life a dog's," said Jolyon suddenly: "The only four-footer with
rudiments of altruism and a sense of God!"

Jolly looked at his father.

"Do you believe in God, Dad? I've never known."

At so searching a question from one to whom it was impossible to make
a light reply, Jolyon stood for a moment feeling his back tried by the
digging.

"What do you mean by God?" he said; "there are two irreconcilable ideas
of God. There's the Unknowable Creative Principle--one believes in That.
And there's the Sum of altruism in man--naturally one believes in That."

"I see. That leaves out Christ, doesn't it?"

Jolyon stared. Christ, the link between those two ideas! Out of the
mouth of babes! Here was orthodoxy scientifically explained at last!
The sublime poem of the Christ life was man's attempt to join those two
irreconcilable conceptions of God. And since the Sum of human altruism
was as much a part of the Unknowable Creative Principle as anything else
in Nature and the Universe, a worse link might have been chosen after
all! Funny--how one went through life without seeing it in that sort of
way!

"What do you think, old man?" he said.

Jolly frowned. "Of course, my first year we talked a good bit about
that sort of thing. But in the second year one gives it up; I don't know
why--it's awfully interesting."

Jolyon remembered that he also had talked a good deal about it his first
year at Cambridge, and given it up in his second.

"I suppose," said Jolly, "it's the second God, you mean, that old
Balthasar had a sense of."

"Yes, or he would never have burst his poor old heart because of
something outside himself."

"But wasn't that just selfish emotion, really?"

Jolyon shook his head. "No, dogs are not pure Forsytes, they love
something outside themselves."

Jolly smiled.

"Well, I think I'm one," he said. "You know, I only enlisted because I
dared Val Dartie to."

"But why?"

"We bar each other," said Jolly shortly.

"Ah!" muttered Jolyon. So the feud went on, unto the third
generation--this modern feud which had no overt expression?

'Shall I tell the boy about it?' he thought. But to what end--if he had
to stop short of his own part?

And Jolly thought: 'It's for Holly to let him know about that chap.
If she doesn't, it means she doesn't want him told, and I should be
sneaking. Anyway, I've stopped it. I'd better leave well alone!'

So they dug on in silence, till Jolyon said:

"Now, old man, I think it's big enough." And, resting on their spades,
they gazed down into the hole where a few leaves had drifted already on
a sunset wind.

"I can't bear this part of it," said Jolyon suddenly.

"Let me do it, Dad. He never cared much for me."

Jolyon shook his head.

"We'll lift him very gently, leaves and all. I'd rather not see him
again. I'll take his head. Now!"

With extreme care they raised the old dog's body, whose faded tan and
white showed here and there under the leaves stirred by the wind. They
laid it, heavy, cold, and unresponsive, in the grave, and Jolly spread
more leaves over it, while Jolyon, deeply afraid to show emotion before
his son, began quickly shovelling the earth on to that still shape.
There went the past! If only there were a joyful future to look forward
to! It was like stamping down earth on one's own life. They replaced the
turf carefully on the smooth little mound, and, grateful that they had
spared each other's feelings, returned to the house arm-in-arm.




CHAPTER XI--TIMOTHY STAYS THE ROT

On Forsyte 'Change news of the enlistment spread fast, together with
the report that June, not to be outdone, was going to become a Red Cross
nurse. These events were so extreme, so subversive of pure Forsyteism,
as to have a binding effect upon the family, and Timothy's was thronged
next Sunday afternoon by members trying to find out what they thought
about it all, and exchange with each other a sense of family credit.
Giles and Jesse Hayman would no longer defend the coast but go to South
Africa quite soon; Jolly and Val would be following in April; as to
June--well, you never knew what she would really do.

The retirement from Spion Kop and the absence of any good news from
the seat of war imparted an air of reality to all this, clinched in
startling fashion by Timothy. The youngest of the old Forsytes--scarcely
eighty, in fact popularly supposed to resemble their father, 'Superior
Dosset,' even in his best-known characteristic of drinking Sherry--had
been invisible for so many years that he was almost mythical. A long
generation had elapsed since the risks of a publisher's business had
worked on his nerves at the age of forty, so that he had got out with a
mere thirty-five thousand pounds in the world, and started to make
his living by careful investment. Putting by every year, at compound
interest, he had doubled his capital in forty years without having once
known what it was like to shake in his shoes over money matters. He was
now putting aside some two thousand a year, and, with the care he was
taking of himself, expected, so Aunt Hester said, to double his capital
again before he died. What he would do with it then, with his sisters
dead and himself dead, was often mockingly queried by free spirits such
as Francie, Euphemia, or young Nicholas' second, Christopher, whose
spirit was so free that he had actually said he was going on the stage.
All admitted, however, that this was best known to Timothy himself, and
possibly to Soames, who never divulged a secret.

Those few Forsytes who had seen him reported a man of thick and robust
appearance, not very tall, with a brown-red complexion, grey hair, and
little of the refinement of feature with which most of the Forsytes had
been endowed by 'Superior Dosset's' wife, a woman of some beauty and a
gentle temperament. It was known that he had taken surprising interest
in the war, sticking flags into a map ever since it began, and there was
uneasiness as to what would happen if the English were driven into the
sea, when it would be almost impossible for him to put the flags in the
right places. As to his knowledge of family movements or his views about
them, little was known, save that Aunt Hester was always declaring
that he was very upset. It was, then, in the nature of a portent when
Forsytes, arriving on the Sunday after the evacuation of Spion Kop,
became conscious, one after the other, of a presence seated in the only
really comfortable armchair, back to the light, concealing the lower
part of his face with a large hand, and were greeted by the awed voice
of Aunt Hester:

"Your Uncle Timothy, my dear."

Timothy's greeting to them all was somewhat identical; and rather, as it
were, passed over by him than expressed:

"How de do? How de do? 'Xcuse me gettin' up!"

Francie was present, and Eustace had come in his car; Winifred had
brought Imogen, breaking the ice of the restitution proceedings with the
warmth of family appreciation at Val's enlistment; and Marian Tweetyman
with the last news of Giles and Jesse. These with Aunt Juley and Hester,
young Nicholas, Euphemia, and--of all people!--George, who had come
with Eustace in the car, constituted an assembly worthy of the family's
palmiest days. There was not one chair vacant in the whole of the little
drawing-room, and anxiety was felt lest someone else should arrive.

The constraint caused by Timothy's presence having worn off a little,
conversation took a military turn. George asked Aunt Juley when she was
going out with the Red Cross, almost reducing her to a state of gaiety;
whereon he turned to Nicholas and said:

"Young Nick's a warrior bold, isn't he? When's he going to don the wild
khaki?"

Young Nicholas, smiling with a sort of sweet deprecation, intimated that
of course his mother was very anxious.

"The Dromios are off, I hear," said George, turning to Marian Tweetyman;
"we shall all be there soon. En avant, the Forsytes! Roll, bowl, or
pitch! Who's for a cooler?"

Aunt Juley gurgled, George was so droll! Should Hester get Timothy's
map? Then he could show them all where they were.

At a sound from Timothy, interpreted as assent, Aunt Hester left the
room.

George pursued his image of the Forsyte advance, addressing Timothy
as Field Marshal; and Imogen, whom he had noted at once for 'a pretty
filly,'--as Vivandiere; and holding his top hat between his knees, he
began to beat it with imaginary drumsticks. The reception accorded to
his fantasy was mixed. All laughed--George was licensed; but all felt
that the family was being 'rotted'; and this seemed to them unnatural,
now that it was going to give five of its members to the service of the
Queen. George might go too far; and there was relief when he got up,
offered his arm to Aunt Juley, marched up to Timothy, saluted him,
kissed his aunt with mock passion, said, "Oh! what a treat, dear papa!
Come on, Eustace!" and walked out, followed by the grave and fastidious
Eustace, who had never smiled.

Aunt Juley's bewildered, "Fancy not waiting for the map! You mustn't
mind him, Timothy. He's so droll!" broke the hush, and Timothy removed
the hand from his mouth.

"I don't know what things are comin' to," he was heard to say. "What's
all this about goin' out there? That's not the way to beat those Boers."

Francie alone had the hardihood to observe: "What is, then, Uncle
Timothy?"

"All this new-fangled volunteerin' and expense--lettin' money out of the
country."

Just then Aunt Hester brought in the map, handling it like a baby with
eruptions. With the assistance of Euphemia it was laid on the piano, a
small Colwood grand, last played on, it was believed, the summer before
Aunt Ann died, thirteen years ago. Timothy rose. He walked over to the
piano, and stood looking at his map while they all gathered round.

"There you are," he said; "that's the position up to date; and very poor
it is. H'm!"

"Yes," said Francie, greatly daring, "but how are you going to alter it,
Uncle Timothy, without more men?"

"Men!" said Timothy; "you don't want men--wastin' the country's money.
You want a Napoleon, he'd settle it in a month."

"But if you haven't got him, Uncle Timothy?"

"That's their business," replied Timothy. "What have we kept the Army up
for--to eat their heads off in time of peace! They ought to be ashamed
of themselves, comin' on the country to help them like this! Let every
man stick to his business, and we shall get on."

And looking round him, he added almost angrily:

"Volunteerin', indeed! Throwin' good money after bad! We must save!
Conserve energy that's the only way." And with a prolonged sound, not
quite a sniff and not quite a snort, he trod on Euphemia's toe, and went
out, leaving a sensation and a faint scent of barley-sugar behind him.

The effect of something said with conviction by one who has evidently
made a sacrifice to say it is ever considerable. And the eight Forsytes
left behind, all women except young Nicholas, were silent for a moment
round the map. Then Francie said:

"Really, I think he's right, you know. After all, what is the Army for?
They ought to have known. It's only encouraging them."

"My dear!" cried Aunt Juley, "but they've been so progressive. Think of
their giving up their scarlet. They were always so proud of it. And now
they all look like convicts. Hester and I were saying only yesterday we
were sure they must feel it very much. Fancy what the Iron Duke would
have said!"

"The new colour's very smart," said Winifred; "Val looks quite nice in
his."

Aunt Juley sighed.

"I do so wonder what Jolyon's boy is like. To think we've never seen
him! His father must be so proud of him."

"His father's in Paris," said Winifred.

Aunt Hester's shoulder was seen to mount suddenly, as if to ward off her
sister's next remark, for Juley's crumpled cheeks had gushed.

"We had dear little Mrs. MacAnder here yesterday, just back from Paris.
And whom d'you think she saw there in the street? You'll never guess."

"We shan't try, Auntie," said Euphemia.

"Irene! Imagine! After all this time; walking with a fair beard...."

"Auntie! you'll kill me! A fair beard...."

"I was going to say," said Aunt Juley severely, "a fair-bearded
gentleman. And not a day older; she was always so pretty," she added,
with a sort of lingering apology.

"Oh! tell us about her, Auntie," cried Imogen; "I can just remember her.
She's the skeleton in the family cupboard, isn't she? And they're such
fun."

Aunt Hester sat down. Really, Juley had done it now!

"She wasn't much of a skeleton as I remember her," murmured Euphemia,
"extremely well-covered."

"My dear!" said Aunt Juley, "what a peculiar way of putting it--not very
nice."

"No, but what was she like?" persisted Imogen.

"I'll tell you, my child," said Francie; "a kind of modern Venus, very
well-dressed."

Euphemia said sharply: "Venus was never dressed, and she had blue eyes
of melting sapphire."

At this juncture Nicholas took his leave.

"Mrs. Nick is awfully strict," said Francie with a laugh.

"She has six children," said Aunt Juley; "it's very proper she should be
careful."

"Was Uncle Soames awfully fond of her?" pursued the inexorable Imogen,
moving her dark luscious eyes from face to face.

Aunt Hester made a gesture of despair, just as Aunt Juley answered:

"Yes, your Uncle Soames was very much attached to her."

"I suppose she ran off with someone?"

"No, certainly not; that is--not precisely.'

"What did she do, then, Auntie?"

"Come along, Imogen," said Winifred, "we must be getting back."

But Aunt Juley interjected resolutely: "She--she didn't behave at all
well."

"Oh, bother!" cried Imogen; "that's as far as I ever get."

"Well, my dear," said Francie, "she had a love affair which ended with
the young man's death; and then she left your uncle. I always rather
liked her."

"She used to give me chocolates," murmured Imogen, "and smell nice."

"Of course!" remarked Euphemia.

"Not of course at all!" replied Francie, who used a particularly
expensive essence of gillyflower herself.

"I can't think what we are about," said Aunt Juley, raising her hands,
"talking of such things!"

"Was she divorced?" asked Imogen from the door.

"Certainly not," cried Aunt Juley; "that is--certainly not."

A sound was heard over by the far door. Timothy had re-entered the back
drawing-room. "I've come for my map," he said. "Who's been divorced?"

"No one, Uncle," replied Francie with perfect truth.

Timothy took his map off the piano.

"Don't let's have anything of that sort in the family," he said. "All
this enlistin's bad enough. The country's breakin' up; I don't know what
we're comin' to." He shook a thick finger at the room: "Too many women
nowadays, and they don't know what they want."

So saying, he grasped the map firmly with both hands, and went out as if
afraid of being answered.

The seven women whom he had addressed broke into a subdued murmur, out
of which emerged Francie's, "Really, the Forsytes!" and Aunt Juley's:
"He must have his feet in mustard and hot water to-night, Hester; will
you tell Jane? The blood has gone to his head again, I'm afraid...."

That evening, when she and Hester were sitting alone after dinner, she
dropped a stitch in her crochet, and looked up:

"Hester, I can't think where I've heard that dear Soames wants Irene to
come back to him again. Who was it told us that George had made a funny
drawing of him with the words, 'He won't be happy till he gets it'?"

"Eustace," answered Aunt Hester from behind The Times; "he had it in his
pocket, but he wouldn't show it us."

Aunt Juley was silent, ruminating. The clock ticked, The Times crackled,
the fire sent forth its rustling purr. Aunt Juley dropped another
stitch.

"Hester," she said, "I have had such a dreadful thought."

"Then don't tell me," said Aunt Hester quickly.

"Oh! but I must. You can't think how dreadful!" Her voice sank to a
whisper:

"Jolyon--Jolyon, they say, has a--has a fair beard, now."




CHAPTER XII--PROGRESS OF THE CHASE

Two days after the dinner at James', Mr. Polteed provided Soames with
food for thought.

"A gentleman," he said, consulting the key concealed in his left hand,
"47 as we say, has been paying marked attention to 17 during the last
month in Paris. But at present there seems to have been nothing very
conclusive. The meetings have all been in public places, without
concealment--restaurants, the Opera, the Comique, the Louvre, Luxembourg
Gardens, lounge of the hotel, and so forth. She has not yet been traced
to his rooms, nor vice versa. They went to Fontainebleau--but nothing
of value. In short, the situation is promising, but requires patience."
And, looking up suddenly, he added:

"One rather curious point--47 has the same name as--er--31!"

'The fellow knows I'm her husband,' thought Soames.

"Christian name--an odd one--Jolyon," continued Mr. Polteed. "We know
his address in Paris and his residence here. We don't wish, of course,
to be running a wrong hare."

"Go on with it, but be careful," said Soames doggedly.

Instinctive certainty that this detective fellow had fathomed his secret
made him all the more reticent.

"Excuse me," said Mr. Polteed, "I'll just see if there's anything fresh
in."

He returned with some letters. Relocking the door, he glanced at the
envelopes.

"Yes, here's a personal one from 19 to myself."

"Well?" said Soames.

 "Um!" said Mr. Polteed, "she says: '47 left for England to-day.
Address on his baggage: Robin Hill. Parted from 17 in Louvre Gallery
at 3.30; nothing very striking. Thought it best to stay and continue
observation of 17. You will deal with 47 in England if you think
desirable, no doubt.'" And Mr. Polteed lifted an unprofessional glance
on Soames, as though he might be storing material for a book on human
nature after he had gone out of business. "Very intelligent woman, 19,
and a wonderful make-up. Not cheap, but earns her money well. There's
no suspicion of being shadowed so far. But after a time, as you know,
sensitive people are liable to get the feeling of it, without anything
definite to go on. I should rather advise letting-up on 17, and keeping
an eye on 47. We can't get at correspondence without great risk. I
hardly advise that at this stage. But you can tell your client that
it's looking up very well." And again his narrowed eyes gleamed at his
taciturn customer.

"No," said Soames suddenly, "I prefer that you should keep the watch
going discreetly in Paris, and not concern yourself with this end."

"Very well," replied Mr. Polteed, "we can do it."

"What--what is the manner between them?"

"I'll read you what she says," said Mr. Polteed, unlocking a bureau
drawer and taking out a file of papers; "she sums it up somewhere
confidentially. Yes, here it is! '17 very attractive--conclude
47, longer in the tooth' (slang for age, you know)--'distinctly
gone--waiting his time--17 perhaps holding off for terms, impossible to
say without knowing more. But inclined to think on the whole--doesn't
know her mind--likely to act on impulse some day. Both have style.'"

"What does that mean?" said Soames between close lips.

"Well," murmured Mr. Polteed with a smile, showing many white teeth,
"an expression we use. In other words, it's not likely to be a weekend
business--they'll come together seriously or not at all."

"H'm!" muttered Soames, "that's all, is it?"

"Yes," said Mr. Polteed, "but quite promising."

'Spider!' thought Soames. "Good-day!"

He walked into the Green Park that he might cross to Victoria Station
and take the Underground into the City. For so late in January it was
warm; sunlight, through the haze, sparkled on the frosty grass--an
illumined cobweb of a day.

Little spiders--and great spiders! And the greatest spinner of all, his
own tenacity, for ever wrapping its cocoon of threads round any clear
way out. What was that fellow hanging round Irene for? Was it really
as Polteed suggested? Or was Jolyon but taking compassion on her
loneliness, as he would call it--sentimental radical chap that he had
always been? If it were, indeed, as Polteed hinted! Soames stood still.
It could not be! The fellow was seven years older than himself, no
better looking! No richer! What attraction had he?

'Besides, he's come back,' he thought; 'that doesn't look---I'll go and
see him!' and, taking out a card, he wrote:

"If you can spare half an hour some afternoon this week, I shall be
at the Connoisseurs any day between 5.30 and 6, or I could come to the
Hotch Potch if you prefer it. I want to see you.--S. F."

He walked up St. James's Street and confided it to the porter at the
Hotch Potch.

"Give Mr. Jolyon Forsyte this as soon as he comes in," he said, and took
one of the new motor cabs into the City....

Jolyon received that card the same afternoon, and turned his face
towards the Connoisseurs. What did Soames want now? Had he got wind of
Paris? And stepping across St. James's Street, he determined to make
no secret of his visit. 'But it won't do,' he thought, 'to let him know
she's there, unless he knows already.' In this complicated state of mind
he was conducted to where Soames was drinking tea in a small bay-window.

"No tea, thanks," said Jolyon, "but I'll go on smoking if I may."

The curtains were not yet drawn, though the lamps outside were lighted;
the two cousins sat waiting on each other.

"You've been in Paris, I hear," said Soames at last.

"Yes; just back."

"Young Val told me; he and your boy are going off, then?" Jolyon nodded.

"You didn't happen to see Irene, I suppose. It appears she's abroad
somewhere."

Jolyon wreathed himself in smoke before he answered: "Yes, I saw her."

"How was she?"

"Very well."

There was another silence; then Soames roused himself in his chair.

"When I saw you last," he said, "I was in two minds. We talked, and you
expressed your opinion. I don't wish to reopen that discussion. I only
wanted to say this: My position with her is extremely difficult. I don't
want you to go using your influence against me. What happened is a very
long time ago. I'm going to ask her to let bygones be bygones."

"You have asked her, you know," murmured Jolyon.

"The idea was new to her then; it came as a shock. But the more she
thinks of it, the more she must see that it's the only way out for both
of us."

"That's not my impression of her state of mind," said Jolyon with
particular calm. "And, forgive my saying, you misconceive the matter if
you think reason comes into it at all."

He saw his cousin's pale face grow paler--he had used, without knowing
it, Irene's own words.

"Thanks," muttered Soames, "but I see things perhaps more plainly than
you think. I only want to be sure that you won't try to influence her
against me."

"I don't know what makes you think I have any influence," said Jolyon;
"but if I have I'm bound to use it in the direction of what I think is
her happiness. I am what they call a 'feminist,' I believe."

"Feminist!" repeated Soames, as if seeking to gain time. "Does that mean
that you're against me?"

"Bluntly," said Jolyon, "I'm against any woman living with any man whom
she definitely dislikes. It appears to me rotten."

"And I suppose each time you see her you put your opinions into her
mind."

"I am not likely to be seeing her."

"Not going back to Paris?"

"Not so far as I know," said Jolyon, conscious of the intent
watchfulness in Soames' face.

"Well, that's all I had to say. Anyone who comes between man and wife,
you know, incurs heavy responsibility."

Jolyon rose and made him a slight bow.

"Good-bye," he said, and, without offering to shake hands, moved away,
leaving Soames staring after him. 'We Forsytes,' thought Jolyon, hailing
a cab, 'are very civilised. With simpler folk that might have come to a
row. If it weren't for my boy going to the war....' The war! A gust of
his old doubt swept over him. A precious war! Domination of peoples or
of women! Attempts to master and possess those who did not want you! The
negation of gentle decency! Possession, vested rights; and anyone 'agin'
'em--outcast! 'Thank Heaven!' he thought, 'I always felt "agin" 'em,
anyway!' Yes! Even before his first disastrous marriage he could
remember fuming over the bludgeoning of Ireland, or the matrimonial
suits of women trying to be free of men they loathed. Parsons would have
it that freedom of soul and body were quite different things! Pernicious
doctrine! Body and soul could not thus be separated. Free will was
the strength of any tie, and not its weakness. 'I ought to have told
Soames,' he thought, 'that I think him comic. Ah! but he's tragic, too!'
Was there anything, indeed, more tragic in the world than a man enslaved
by his own possessive instinct, who couldn't see the sky for it, or even
enter fully into what another person felt! 'I must write and warn her,'
he thought; 'he's going to have another try.' And all the way home to
Robin Hill he rebelled at the strength of that duty to his son which
prevented him from posting back to Paris....

But Soames sat long in his chair, the prey of a no less gnawing ache--a
jealous ache, as if it had been revealed to him that this fellow held
precedence of himself, and had spun fresh threads of resistance to his
way out. 'Does that mean that you're against me?' he had got nothing out
of that disingenuous question. Feminist! Phrasey fellow! 'I mustn't rush
things,' he thought. 'I have some breathing space; he's not going back
to Paris, unless he was lying. I'll let the spring come!' Though how the
spring could serve him, save by adding to his ache, he could not tell.
And gazing down into the street, where figures were passing from pool
to pool of the light from the high lamps, he thought: 'Nothing seems any
good--nothing seems worth while. I'm loney--that's the trouble.'

He closed his eyes; and at once he seemed to see Irene, in a dark street
below a church--passing, turning her neck so that he caught the gleam of
her eyes and her white forehead under a little dark hat, which had gold
spangles on it and a veil hanging down behind. He opened his eyes--so
vividly he had seen her! A woman was passing below, but not she! Oh no,
there was nothing there!




CHAPTER XIII--'HERE WE ARE AGAIN!'

Imogen's frocks for her first season exercised the judgment of her
mother and the purse of her grandfather all through the month of March.
With Forsyte tenacity Winifred quested for perfection. It took her
mind off the slowly approaching rite which would give her a freedom
but doubtfully desired; took her mind, too, off her boy and his
fast approaching departure for a war from which the news remained
disquieting. Like bees busy on summer flowers, or bright gadflies
hovering and darting over spiky autumn blossoms, she and her 'little
daughter,' tall nearly as herself and with a bust measurement not far
inferior, hovered in the shops of Regent Street, the establishments of
Hanover Square and of Bond Street, lost in consideration and the feel of
fabrics. Dozens of young women of striking deportment and peculiar
gait paraded before Winifred and Imogen, draped in 'creations.' The
models--'Very new, modom; quite the latest thing--' which those two
reluctantly turned down, would have filled a museum; the models which
they were obliged to have nearly emptied James' bank. It was no good
doing things by halves, Winifred felt, in view of the need for making
this first and sole untarnished season a conspicuous success. Their
patience in trying the patience of those impersonal creatures who swam
about before them could alone have been displayed by such as were moved
by faith. It was for Winifred a long prostration before her dear goddess
Fashion, fervent as a Catholic might make before the Virgin; for Imogen
an experience by no means too unpleasant--she often looked so nice, and
flattery was implicit everywhere: in a word it was 'amusing.'

On the afternoon of the 20th of March, having, as it were, gutted
Skywards, they had sought refreshment over the way at Caramel and
Baker's, and, stored with chocolate frothed at the top with cream,
turned homewards through Berkeley Square of an evening touched with
spring. Opening the door--freshly painted a light olive-green; nothing
neglected that year to give Imogen a good send-off--Winifred passed
towards the silver basket to see if anyone had called, and suddenly her
nostrils twitched. What was that scent?

Imogen had taken up a novel sent from the library, and stood absorbed.
Rather sharply, because of the queer feeling in her breast, Winifred
said:

"Take that up, dear, and have a rest before dinner."

Imogen, still reading, passed up the stairs. Winifred heard the door
of her room slammed to, and drew a long savouring breath. Was it spring
tickling her senses--whipping up nostalgia for her 'clown,' against all
wisdom and outraged virtue? A male scent! A faint reek of cigars and
lavender-water not smelt since that early autumn night six months ago,
when she had called him 'the limit.' Whence came it, or was it ghost of
scent--sheer emanation from memory? She looked round her. Nothing--not
a thing, no tiniest disturbance of her hall, nor of the diningroom. A
little day-dream of a scent--illusory, saddening, silly! In the silver
basket were new cards, two with 'Mr. and Mrs. Polegate Thom,' and one
with 'Mr. Polegate Thom' thereon; she sniffed them, but they smelled
severe. 'I must be tired,' she thought, 'I'll go and lie down.' Upstairs
the drawing-room was darkened, waiting for some hand to give it
evening light; and she passed on up to her bedroom. This, too, was
half-curtained and dim, for it was six o'clock. Winifred threw off her
coat--that scent again!--then stood, as if shot, transfixed against the
bed-rail. Something dark had risen from the sofa in the far corner. A
word of horror--in her family--escaped her: "God!"

"It's I--Monty," said a voice.

Clutching the bed-rail, Winifred reached up and turned the switch of the
light hanging above her dressing-table. He appeared just on the rim
of the light's circumference, emblazoned from the absence of his
watch-chain down to boots neat and sooty brown, but--yes!--split at the
toecap. His chest and face were shadowy. Surely he was thin--or was it a
trick of the light? He advanced, lighted now from toe-cap to the top of
his dark head--surely a little grizzled! His complexion had darkened,
sallowed; his black moustache had lost boldness, become sardonic; there
were lines which she did not know about his face. There was no pin in
his tie. His suit--ah!--she knew that--but how unpressed, unglossy! She
stared again at the toe-cap of his boot. Something big and relentless
had been 'at him,' had turned and twisted, raked and scraped him. And
she stayed, not speaking, motionless, staring at that crack across the
toe.

"Well!" he said, "I got the order. I'm back."

Winifred's bosom began to heave. The nostalgia for her husband which had
rushed up with that scent was struggling with a deeper jealousy than any
she had felt yet. There he was--a dark, and as if harried, shadow of
his sleek and brazen self! What force had done this to him--squeezed him
like an orange to its dry rind! That woman!

"I'm back," he said again. "I've had a beastly time. By God! I came
steerage. I've got nothing but what I stand up in, and that bag."

"And who has the rest?" cried Winifred, suddenly alive. "How dared you
come? You knew it was just for divorce that you got that order to come
back. Don't touch me!"

They held each to the rail of the big bed where they had spent so many
years of nights together. Many times, yes--many times she had wanted him
back. But now that he had come she was filled with this cold and deadly
resentment. He put his hand up to his moustache; but did not frizz and
twist it in the old familiar way, he just pulled it downwards.

"Gad!" he said: "If you knew the time I've had!"

"I'm glad I don't!"

"Are the kids all right?"

Winifred nodded. "How did you get in?"

"With my key."

"Then the maids don't know. You can't stay here, Monty."

He uttered a little sardonic laugh.

"Where then?"

"Anywhere."

"Well, look at me! That--that damned...."

"If you mention her," cried Winifred, "I go straight out to Park Lane
and I don't come back."

Suddenly he did a simple thing, but so uncharacteristic that it moved
her. He shut his eyes. It was as if he had said: 'All right! I'm dead to
the world!'

"You can have a room for the night," she said; "your things are still
here. Only Imogen is at home."

He leaned back against the bed-rail. "Well, it's in your hands," and his
own made a writhing movement. "I've been through it. You needn't hit too
hard--it isn't worth while. I've been frightened; I've been frightened,
Freddie."

That old pet name, disused for years and years, sent a shiver through
Winifred.

'What am I to do with him?' she thought. 'What in God's name am I to do
with him?'

"Got a cigarette?"

She gave him one from a little box she kept up there for when
she couldn't sleep at night, and lighted it. With that action the
matter-of-fact side of her nature came to life again.

"Go and have a hot bath. I'll put some clothes out for you in the
dressing-room. We can talk later."

He nodded, and fixed his eyes on her--they looked half-dead, or was it
that the folds in the lids had become heavier?

'He's not the same,' she thought. He would never be quite the same
again! But what would he be?

"All right!" he said, and went towards the door. He even moved
differently, like a man who has lost illusion and doubts whether it is
worth while to move at all.

When he was gone, and she heard the water in the bath running, she put
out a complete set of garments on the bed in his dressing-room, then
went downstairs and fetched up the biscuit box and whisky. Putting on
her coat again, and listening a moment at the bathroom door, she went
down and out. In the street she hesitated. Past seven o'clock! Would
Soames be at his Club or at Park Lane? She turned towards the latter.
Back!

Soames had always feared it--she had sometimes hoped it.... Back! So
like him--clown that he was--with this: 'Here we are again!' to make
fools of them all--of the Law, of Soames, of herself!

Yet to have done with the Law, not to have that murky cloud hanging over
her and the children! What a relief! Ah! but how to accept his return?
That 'woman' had ravaged him, taken from him passion such as he had
never bestowed on herself, such as she had not thought him capable of.
There was the sting! That selfish, blatant 'clown' of hers, whom she
herself had never really stirred, had been swept and ungarnished by
another woman! Insulting! Too insulting! Not right, not decent to take
him back! And yet she had asked for him; the Law perhaps would make
her now! He was as much her husband as ever--she had put herself out of
court! And all he wanted, no doubt, was money--to keep him in cigars and
lavender-water! That scent! 'After all, I'm not old,' she thought, 'not
old yet!' But that woman who had reduced him to those words: 'I've been
through it. I've been frightened--frightened, Freddie!' She neared her
father's house, driven this way and that, while all the time the Forsyte
undertow was drawing her to deep conclusion that after all he was her
property, to be held against a robbing world. And so she came to James'.

"Mr. Soames? In his room? I'll go up; don't say I'm here."

Her brother was dressing. She found him before a mirror, tying a black
bow with an air of despising its ends.

"Hullo!" he said, contemplating her in the glass; "what's wrong?"

"Monty!" said Winifred stonily.

Soames spun round. "What!"

"Back!"

"Hoist," muttered Soames, "with our own petard. Why the deuce didn't you
let me try cruelty? I always knew it was too much risk this way."

"Oh! Don't talk about that! What shall I do?"

Soames answered, with a deep, deep sound.

"Well?" said Winifred impatiently.

"What has he to say for himself?"

"Nothing. One of his boots is split across the toe."

Soames stared at her.

"Ah!" he said, "of course! On his beam ends. So--it begins again!
This'll about finish father."

"Can't we keep it from him?"

"Impossible. He has an uncanny flair for anything that's worrying."

And he brooded, with fingers hooked into his blue silk braces. "There
ought to be some way in law," he muttered, "to make him safe."

"No," cried Winifred, "I won't be made a fool of again; I'd sooner put
up with him."

The two stared at each other. Their hearts were full of feeling, but
they could give it no expression--Forsytes that they were.

"Where did you leave him?"

"In the bath," and Winifred gave a little bitter laugh. "The only thing
he's brought back is lavender-water."

"Steady!" said Soames, "you're thoroughly upset. I'll go back with you."

"What's the use?"

"We ought to make terms with him."

"Terms! It'll always be the same. When he recovers--cards and betting,
drink and...!" She was silent, remembering the look on her husband's
face. The burnt child--the burnt child. Perhaps...!

"Recovers?" replied Soames: "Is he ill?"

"No; burnt out; that's all."

Soames took his waistcoat from a chair and put it on, he took his
coat and got into it, he scented his handkerchief with eau-de-Cologne,
threaded his watch-chain, and said: "We haven't any luck."

And in the midst of her own trouble Winifred was sorry for him, as if in
that little saying he had revealed deep trouble of his own.

"I'd like to see mother," she said.

"She'll be with father in their room. Come down quietly to the study.
I'll get her."

Winifred stole down to the little dark study, chiefly remarkable for a
Canaletto too doubtful to be placed elsewhere, and a fine collection of
Law Reports unopened for many years. Here she stood, with her back to
maroon-coloured curtains close-drawn, staring at the empty grate, till
her mother came in followed by Soames.

"Oh! my poor dear!" said Emily: "How miserable you look in here! This is
too bad of him, really!"

As a family they had so guarded themselves from the expression of all
unfashionable emotion that it was impossible to go up and give her
daughter a good hug. But there was comfort in her cushioned voice, and
her still dimpled shoulders under some rare black lace. Summoning pride
and the desire not to distress her mother, Winifred said in her most
off-hand voice:

"It's all right, Mother; no good fussing."

"I don't see," said Emily, looking at Soames, "why Winifred shouldn't
tell him that she'll prosecute him if he doesn't keep off the premises.
He took her pearls; and if he's not brought them back, that's quite
enough."

Winifred smiled. They would all plunge about with suggestions of
this and that, but she knew already what she would be doing, and
that was--nothing. The feeling that, after all, she had won a sort of
victory, retained her property, was every moment gaining ground in her.
No! if she wanted to punish him, she could do it at home without the
world knowing.

"Well," said Emily, "come into the dining-room comfortably--you must
stay and have dinner with us. Leave it to me to tell your father." And,
as Winifred moved towards the door, she turned out the light. Not till
then did they see the disaster in the corridor.

There, attracted by light from a room never lighted, James was standing
with his duncoloured camel-hair shawl folded about him, so that his arms
were not free and his silvered head looked cut off from his fashionably
trousered legs as if by an expanse of desert. He stood, inimitably
stork-like, with an expression as if he saw before him a frog too large
to swallow.

"What's all this?" he said. "Tell your father? You never tell me
anything."

The moment found Emily without reply. It was Winifred who went up to
him, and, laying one hand on each of his swathed, helpless arms, said:

"Monty's not gone bankrupt, Father. He's only come back."

They all three expected something serious to happen, and were glad she
had kept that grip of his arms, but they did not know the depth of root
in that shadowy old Forsyte. Something wry occurred about his shaven
mouth and chin, something scratchy between those long silvery whiskers.
Then he said with a sort of dignity: "He'll be the death of me. I knew
how it would be."

"You mustn't worry, Father," said Winifred calmly. "I mean to make him
behave."

"Ah!" said James. "Here, take this thing off, I'm hot." They unwound the
shawl. He turned, and walked firmly to the dining-room.

"I don't want any soup," he said to Warmson, and sat down in his chair.
They all sat down too, Winifred still in her hat, while Warmson laid
the fourth place. When he left the room, James said: "What's he brought
back?"

"Nothing, Father."

James concentrated his eyes on his own image in a tablespoon. "Divorce!"
he muttered; "rubbish! What was I about? I ought to have paid him an
allowance to stay out of England. Soames you go and propose it to him."

It seemed so right and simple a suggestion that even Winifred was
surprised when she said: "No, I'll keep him now he's back; he must just
behave--that's all."

They all looked at her. It had always been known that Winifred had
pluck.

"Out there!" said James elliptically, "who knows what cut-throats!
You look for his revolver! Don't go to bed without. You ought to have
Warmson to sleep in the house. I'll see him myself tomorrow."

They were touched by this declaration, and Emily said comfortably:
"That's right, James, we won't have any nonsense."

"Ah!" muttered James darkly, "I can't tell."

The advent of Warmson with fish diverted conversation.

When, directly after dinner, Winifred went over to kiss her father
good-night, he looked up with eyes so full of question and distress that
she put all the comfort she could into her voice.

"It's all right, Daddy, dear; don't worry. I shan't need anyone--he's
quite bland. I shall only be upset if you worry. Good-night, bless you!"

James repeated the words, "Bless you!" as if he did not quite know what
they meant, and his eyes followed her to the door.

She reached home before nine, and went straight upstairs.

Dartie was lying on the bed in his dressing-room, fully redressed in a
blue serge suit and pumps; his arms were crossed behind his head, and an
extinct cigarette drooped from his mouth.

Winifred remembered ridiculously the flowers in her window-boxes after
a blazing summer day; the way they lay, or rather stood--parched, yet
rested by the sun's retreat. It was as if a little dew had come already
on her burnt-up husband.

He said apathetically: "I suppose you've been to Park Lane. How's the
old man?"

Winifred could not help the bitter answer: "Not dead."

He winced, actually he winced.

"Understand, Monty," she said, "I will not have him worried. If you
aren't going to behave yourself, you may go back, you may go anywhere.
Have you had dinner?"

No.

"Would you like some?"

He shrugged his shoulders.

"Imogen offered me some. I didn't want any."

Imogen! In the plenitude of emotion Winifred had forgotten her.

"So you've seen her? What did she say?"

"She gave me a kiss."

With mortification Winifred saw his dark sardonic face relaxed. 'Yes!'
she thought, 'he cares for her, not for me a bit.'

Dartie's eyes were moving from side to side.

"Does she know about me?" he said.

It flashed through Winifred that here was the weapon she needed. He
minded their knowing!

"No. Val knows. The others don't; they only know you went away."

She heard him sigh with relief.

"But they shall know," she said firmly, "if you give me cause."

"All right!" he muttered, "hit me! I'm down!"

Winifred went up to the bed. "Look here, Monty! I don't want to hit you.
I don't want to hurt you. I shan't allude to anything. I'm not going
to worry. What's the use?" She was silent a moment. "I can't stand any
more, though, and I won't! You'd better know. You've made me suffer.
But I used to be fond of you. For the sake of that...." She met the
heavy-lidded gaze of his brown eyes with the downward stare of her
green-grey eyes; touched his hand suddenly, turned her back, and went
into her room.

She sat there a long time before her glass, fingering her rings,
thinking of this subdued dark man, almost a stranger to her, on the bed
in the other room; resolutely not 'worrying,' but gnawed by jealousy of
what he had been through, and now and again just visited by pity.




CHAPTER XIV--OUTLANDISH NIGHT

Soames doggedly let the spring come--no easy task for one conscious that
time was flying, his birds in the bush no nearer the hand, no issue from
the web anywhere visible. Mr. Polteed reported nothing, except that his
watch went on--costing a lot of money. Val and his cousin were gone to
the war, whence came news more favourable; Dartie was behaving himself
so far; James had retained his health; business prospered almost
terribly--there was nothing to worry Soames except that he was 'held
up,' could make no step in any direction.

He did not exactly avoid Soho, for he could not afford to let them think
that he had 'piped off,' as James would have put it--he might want
to 'pipe on' again at any minute. But he had to be so restrained and
cautious that he would often pass the door of the Restaurant Bretagne
without going in, and wander out of the purlieus of that region which
always gave him the feeling of having been possessively irregular.

He wandered thus one May night into Regent Street and the most amazing
crowd he had ever seen; a shrieking, whistling, dancing, jostling,
grotesque and formidably jovial crowd, with false noses and
mouth-organs, penny whistles and long feathers, every appanage of
idiocy, as it seemed to him. Mafeking! Of course, it had been relieved!
Good! But was that an excuse? Who were these people, what were they,
where had they come from into the West End? His face was tickled, his
ears whistled into. Girls cried: 'Keep your hair on, stucco!' A youth so
knocked off his top-hat that he recovered it with difficulty. Crackers
were exploding beneath his nose, between his feet. He was bewildered,
exasperated, offended. This stream of people came from every quarter, as
if impulse had unlocked flood-gates, let flow waters of whose existence
he had heard, perhaps, but believed in never. This, then, was the
populace, the innumerable living negation of gentility and Forsyteism.
This was--egad!--Democracy! It stank, yelled, was hideous! In the East
End, or even Soho, perhaps--but here in Regent Street, in Piccadilly!
What were the police about! In 1900, Soames, with his Forsyte thousands,
had never seen the cauldron with the lid off; and now looking into
it, could hardly believe his scorching eyes. The whole thing was
unspeakable! These people had no restraint, they seemed to think him
funny; such swarms of them, rude, coarse, laughing--and what laughter!

Nothing sacred to them! He shouldn't be surprised if they began to
break windows. In Pall Mall, past those august dwellings, to enter which
people paid sixty pounds, this shrieking, whistling, dancing dervish of
a crowd was swarming. From the Club windows his own kind were looking
out on them with regulated amusement. They didn't realise! Why, this was
serious--might come to anything! The crowd was cheerful, but some day
they would come in different mood! He remembered there had been a mob in
the late eighties, when he was at Brighton; they had smashed things and
made speeches. But more than dread, he felt a deep surprise. They were
hysterical--it wasn't English! And all about the relief of a little town
as big as--Watford, six thousand miles away. Restraint, reserve!
Those qualities to him more dear almost than life, those indispensable
attributes of property and culture, where were they? It wasn't English!
No, it wasn't English! So Soames brooded, threading his way on. It was
as if he had suddenly caught sight of someone cutting the covenant 'for
quiet possession' out of his legal documents; or of a monster lurking
and stalking out in the future, casting its shadow before. Their want
of stolidity, their want of reverence! It was like discovering that
nine-tenths of the people of England were foreigners. And if that were
so--then, anything might happen!

At Hyde Park Corner he ran into George Forsyte, very sunburnt from
racing, holding a false nose in his hand.

"Hallo, Soames!" he said, "have a nose!"

Soames responded with a pale smile.

"Got this from one of these sportsmen," went on George, who had
evidently been dining; "had to lay him out--for trying to bash my hat.
I say, one of these days we shall have to fight these chaps, they're
getting so damned cheeky--all radicals and socialists. They want our
goods. You tell Uncle James that, it'll make him sleep."

'In vino veritas,' thought Soames, but he only nodded, and passed on up
Hamilton Place. There was but a trickle of roysterers in Park Lane, not
very noisy. And looking up at the houses he thought: 'After all, we're
the backbone of the country. They won't upset us easily. Possession's
nine points of the law.'

But, as he closed the door of his father's house behind him, all that
queer outlandish nightmare in the streets passed out of his mind almost
as completely as if, having dreamed it, he had awakened in the warm
clean morning comfort of his spring-mattressed bed.

Walking into the centre of the great empty drawing-room, he stood still.

A wife! Somebody to talk things over with. One had a right! Damn it! One
had a right!




PART III




CHAPTER I--SOAMES IN PARIS

Soames had travelled little. Aged nineteen he had made the 'petty tour'
with his father, mother, and Winifred--Brussels, the Rhine, Switzerland,
and home by way of Paris. Aged twenty-seven, just when he began to take
interest in pictures, he had spent five hot weeks in Italy, looking into
the Renaissance--not so much in it as he had been led to expect--and a
fortnight in Paris on his way back, looking into himself, as became a
Forsyte surrounded by people so strongly self-centred and 'foreign'
as the French. His knowledge of their language being derived from his
public school, he did not understand them when they spoke. Silence he
had found better for all parties; one did not make a fool of oneself.
He had disliked the look of the men's clothes, the closed-in cabs, the
theatres which looked like bee-hives, the Galleries which smelled of
beeswax. He was too cautious and too shy to explore that side of Paris
supposed by Forsytes to constitute its attraction under the rose; and as
for a collector's bargain--not one to be had! As Nicholas might have put
it--they were a grasping lot. He had come back uneasy, saying Paris was
overrated.

When, therefore, in June of 1900 he went to Paris, it was but his third
attempt on the centre of civilisation. This time, however, the mountain
was going to Mahomet; for he felt by now more deeply civilised than
Paris, and perhaps he really was. Moreover, he had a definite objective.
This was no mere genuflexion to a shrine of taste and immorality, but
the prosecution of his own legitimate affairs. He went, indeed,
because things were getting past a joke. The watch went on and on,
and--nothing--nothing! Jolyon had never returned to Paris, and no one
else was 'suspect!' Busy with new and very confidential matters, Soames
was realising more than ever how essential reputation is to a solicitor.
But at night and in his leisure moments he was ravaged by the thought
that time was always flying and money flowing in, and his own future as
much 'in irons' as ever. Since Mafeking night he had become aware that
a 'young fool of a doctor' was hanging round Annette. Twice he had come
across him--a cheerful young fool, not more than thirty.

Nothing annoyed Soames so much as cheerfulness--an indecent, extravagant
sort of quality, which had no relation to facts. The mixture of his
desires and hopes was, in a word, becoming torture; and lately the
thought had come to him that perhaps Irene knew she was being shadowed:
It was this which finally decided him to go and see for himself; to go
and once more try to break down her repugnance, her refusal to make
her own and his path comparatively smooth once more. If he failed
again--well, he would see what she did with herself, anyway!

He went to an hotel in the Rue Caumartin, highly recommended to
Forsytes, where practically nobody spoke French. He had formed no plan.
He did not want to startle her; yet must contrive that she had no chance
to evade him by flight. And next morning he set out in bright weather.

Paris had an air of gaiety, a sparkle over its star-shape which almost
annoyed Soames. He stepped gravely, his nose lifted a little sideways
in real curiosity. He desired now to understand things French. Was not
Annette French? There was much to be got out of his visit, if he could
only get it. In this laudable mood and the Place de la Concorde he was
nearly run down three times. He came on the 'Cours la Reine,' where
Irene's hotel was situated, almost too suddenly, for he had not yet
fixed on his procedure. Crossing over to the river side, he noted the
building, white and cheerful-looking, with green sunblinds, seen through
a screen of plane-tree leaves. And, conscious that it would be far
better to meet her casually in some open place than to risk a call, he
sat down on a bench whence he could watch the entrance. It was not quite
eleven o'clock, and improbable that she had yet gone out. Some pigeons
were strutting and preening their feathers in the pools of sunlight
between the shadows of the plane-trees. A workman in a blue blouse
passed, and threw them crumbs from the paper which contained his dinner.
A 'bonne' coiffed with ribbon shepherded two little girls with pig-tails
and frilled drawers. A cab meandered by, whose cocher wore a blue coat
and a black-glazed hat. To Soames a kind of affectation seemed to
cling about it all, a sort of picturesqueness which was out of date. A
theatrical people, the French! He lit one of his rare cigarettes, with
a sense of injury that Fate should be casting his life into outlandish
waters. He shouldn't wonder if Irene quite enjoyed this foreign life;
she had never been properly English--even to look at! And he began
considering which of those windows could be hers under the green
sunblinds. How could he word what he had come to say so that it might
pierce the defence of her proud obstinacy? He threw the fag-end of his
cigarette at a pigeon, with the thought: 'I can't stay here for ever
twiddling my thumbs. Better give it up and call on her in the late
afternoon.' But he still sat on, heard twelve strike, and then
half-past. 'I'll wait till one,' he thought, 'while I'm about it.' But
just then he started up, and shrinkingly sat down again. A woman
had come out in a cream-coloured frock, and was moving away under a
fawn-coloured parasol. Irene herself! He waited till she was too far
away to recognise him, then set out after her. She was strolling
as though she had no particular objective; moving, if he remembered
rightly, toward the Bois de Boulogne. For half an hour at least he kept
his distance on the far side of the way till she had passed into the
Bois itself. Was she going to meet someone after all? Some confounded
Frenchman--one of those 'Bel Ami' chaps, perhaps, who had nothing to do
but hang about women--for he had read that book with difficulty and a
sort of disgusted fascination. He followed doggedly along a shady alley,
losing sight of her now and then when the path curved. And it came back
to him how, long ago, one night in Hyde Park he had slid and sneaked
from tree to tree, from seat to seat, hunting blindly, ridiculously, in
burning jealousy for her and young Bosinney. The path bent sharply, and,
hurrying, he came on her sitting in front of a small fountain--a little
green-bronze Niobe veiled in hair to her slender hips, gazing at the
pool she had wept: He came on her so suddenly that he was past before
he could turn and take off his hat. She did not start up. She had always
had great self-command--it was one of the things he most admired in her,
one of his greatest grievances against her, because he had never
been able to tell what she was thinking. Had she realised that he
was following? Her self-possession made him angry; and, disdaining to
explain his presence, he pointed to the mournful little Niobe, and said:

"That's rather a good thing."

He could see, then, that she was struggling to preserve her composure.

"I didn't want to startle you; is this one of your haunts?"

"Yes."

"A little lonely." As he spoke, a lady, strolling by, paused to look at
the fountain and passed on.

Irene's eyes followed her.

"No," she said, prodding the ground with her parasol, "never lonely. One
has always one's shadow."

Soames understood; and, looking at her hard, he exclaimed:

"Well, it's your own fault. You can be free of it at any moment. Irene,
come back to me, and be free."

Irene laughed.

"Don't!" cried Soames, stamping his foot; "it's inhuman. Listen! Is
there any condition I can make which will bring you back to me? If I
promise you a separate house--and just a visit now and then?"

Irene rose, something wild suddenly in her face and figure.

"None! None! None! You may hunt me to the grave. I will not come."

Outraged and on edge, Soames recoiled.

"Don't make a scene!" he said sharply. And they both stood motionless,
staring at the little Niobe, whose greenish flesh the sunlight was
burnishing.

"That's your last word, then," muttered Soames, clenching his hands;
"you condemn us both."

Irene bent her head. "I can't come back. Good-bye!"

A feeling of monstrous injustice flared up in Soames.

"Stop!" he said, "and listen to me a moment. You gave me a sacred
vow--you came to me without a penny. You had all I could give you. You
broke that vow without cause, you made me a by-word; you refused me a
child; you've left me in prison; you--you still move me so that I want
you--I want you. Well, what do you think of yourself?"

Irene turned, her face was deadly pale, her eyes burning dark.

"God made me as I am," she said; "wicked if you like--but not so wicked
that I'll give myself again to a man I hate."

The sunlight gleamed on her hair as she moved away, and seemed to lay a
caress all down her clinging cream-coloured frock.

Soames could neither speak nor move. That word 'hate'--so extreme, so
primitive--made all the Forsyte in him tremble. With a deep imprecation
he strode away from where she had vanished, and ran almost into the arms
of the lady sauntering back--the fool, the shadowing fool!

He was soon dripping with perspiration, in the depths of the Bois.

'Well,' he thought, 'I need have no consideration for her now; she has
not a grain of it for me. I'll show her this very day that she's my wife
still.'

But on the way home to his hotel, he was forced to the conclusion that
he did not know what he meant. One could not make scenes in public, and
short of scenes in public what was there he could do? He almost cursed
his own thin-skinnedness. She might deserve no consideration; but
he--alas! deserved some at his own hands. And sitting lunchless in the
hall of his hotel, with tourists passing every moment, Baedeker in hand,
he was visited by black dejection. In irons! His whole life, with every
natural instinct and every decent yearning gagged and fettered, and all
because Fate had driven him seventeen years ago to set his heart upon
this woman--so utterly, that even now he had no real heart to set on any
other! Cursed was the day he had met her, and his eyes for seeing in her
anything but the cruel Venus she was! And yet, still seeing her with the
sunlight on the clinging China crepe of her gown, he uttered a little
groan, so that a tourist who was passing, thought: 'Man in pain! Let's
see! what did I have for lunch?'

Later, in front of a cafe near the Opera, over a glass of cold tea with
lemon and a straw in it, he took the malicious resolution to go and dine
at her hotel. If she were there, he would speak to her; if she were not,
he would leave a note. He dressed carefully, and wrote as follows:

"Your idyll with that fellow Jolyon Forsyte is known to me at all
events. If you pursue it, understand that I will leave no stone unturned
to make things unbearable for him. 'S. F.'"

He sealed this note but did not address it, refusing to write the maiden
name which she had impudently resumed, or to put the word Forsyte on the
envelope lest she should tear it up unread. Then he went out, and
made his way through the glowing streets, abandoned to evening
pleasure-seekers. Entering her hotel, he took his seat in a far corner
of the dining-room whence he could see all entrances and exits. She
was not there. He ate little, quickly, watchfully. She did not come. He
lingered in the lounge over his coffee, drank two liqueurs of brandy.
But still she did not come. He went over to the keyboard and examined
the names. Number twelve, on the first floor! And he determined to
take the note up himself. He mounted red-carpeted stairs, past a little
salon; eight-ten-twelve! Should he knock, push the note under, or...?
He looked furtively round and turned the handle. The door opened, but
into a little space leading to another door; he knocked on that--no
answer. The door was locked. It fitted very closely to the floor; the
note would not go under. He thrust it back into his pocket, and stood
a moment listening. He felt somehow certain that she was not there.
And suddenly he came away, passing the little salon down the stairs. He
stopped at the bureau and said:

"Will you kindly see that Mrs. Heron has this note?"

"Madame Heron left to-day, Monsieur--suddenly, about three o'clock.
There was illness in her family."

Soames compressed his lips. "Oh!" he said; "do you know her address?"

"Non, Monsieur. England, I think."

Soames put the note back into his pocket and went out. He hailed an open
horse-cab which was passing.

"Drive me anywhere!"

The man, who, obviously, did not understand, smiled, and waved his whip.
And Soames was borne along in that little yellow-wheeled Victoria all
over star-shaped Paris, with here and there a pause, and the question,
"C'est par ici, Monsieur?" "No, go on," till the man gave it up in
despair, and the yellow-wheeled chariot continued to roll between the
tall, flat-fronted shuttered houses and plane-tree avenues--a little
Flying Dutchman of a cab.

'Like my life,' thought Soames, 'without object, on and on!'




CHAPTER II--IN THE WEB

Soames returned to England the following day, and on the third morning
received a visit from Mr. Polteed, who wore a flower and carried a brown
billycock hat. Soames motioned him to a seat.

"The news from the war is not so bad, is it?" said Mr. Polteed. "I hope
I see you well, sir."

"Thanks! quite."

Mr. Polteed leaned forward, smiled, opened his hand, looked into it, and
said softly:

"I think we've done your business for you at last."

"What?" ejaculated Soames.

"Nineteen reports quite suddenly what I think we shall be justified in
calling conclusive evidence," and Mr. Polteed paused.

"Well?"

"On the 10th instant, after witnessing an interview between 17 and a
party, earlier in the day, 19 can swear to having seen him coming out of
her bedroom in the hotel about ten o'clock in the evening. With a little
care in the giving of the evidence that will be enough, especially as 17
has left Paris--no doubt with the party in question. In fact, they both
slipped off, and we haven't got on to them again, yet; but we shall--we
shall. She's worked hard under very difficult circumstances, and I'm
glad she's brought it off at last." Mr. Polteed took out a cigarette,
tapped its end against the table, looked at Soames, and put it back. The
expression on his client's face was not encouraging.

"Who is this new person?" said Soames abruptly.

"That we don't know. She'll swear to the fact, and she's got his
appearance pat."

Mr. Polteed took out a letter, and began reading:

"'Middle-aged, medium height, blue dittoes in afternoon, evening dress
at night, pale, dark hair, small dark moustache, flat cheeks, good chin,
grey eyes, small feet, guilty look....'"

Soames rose and went to the window. He stood there in sardonic fury.
Congenital idiot--spidery congenital idiot! Seven months at fifteen
pounds a week--to be tracked down as his own wife's lover! Guilty look!
He threw the window open.

"It's hot," he said, and came back to his seat.

Crossing his knees, he bent a supercilious glance on Mr. Polteed.

"I doubt if that's quite good enough," he said, drawling the words,
"with no name or address. I think you may let that lady have a rest, and
take up our friend 47 at this end." Whether Polteed had spotted him he
could not tell; but he had a mental vision of him in the midst of
his cronies dissolved in inextinguishable laughter. 'Guilty look!'
Damnation!

Mr. Polteed said in a tone of urgency, almost of pathos: "I assure you
we have put it through sometimes on less than that. It's Paris, you
know. Attractive woman living alone. Why not risk it, sir? We might
screw it up a peg."

Soames had sudden insight. The fellow's professional zeal was stirred:
'Greatest triumph of my career; got a man his divorce through a visit to
his own wife's bedroom! Something to talk of there, when I retire!' And
for one wild moment he thought: 'Why not?' After all, hundreds of men of
medium height had small feet and a guilty look!

"I'm not authorised to take any risk!" he said shortly.

Mr. Polteed looked up.

"Pity," he said, "quite a pity! That other affair seemed very costive."

Soames rose.

"Never mind that. Please watch 47, and take care not to find a mare's
nest. Good-morning!"

Mr. Polteed's eye glinted at the words 'mare's nest!'

"Very good. You shall be kept informed."

And Soames was alone again. The spidery, dirty, ridiculous business!
Laying his arms on the table, he leaned his forehead on them. Full ten
minutes he rested thus, till a managing clerk roused him with the draft
prospectus of a new issue of shares, very desirable, in Manifold and
Topping's. That afternoon he left work early and made his way to the
Restaurant Bretagne. Only Madame Lamotte was in. Would Monsieur have tea
with her?

Soames bowed.

When they were seated at right angles to each other in the little room,
he said abruptly:

"I want a talk with you, Madame."

The quick lift of her clear brown eyes told him that she had long
expected such words.

"I have to ask you something first: That young doctor--what's his name?
Is there anything between him and Annette?"

Her whole personality had become, as it were, like jet--clear-cut,
black, hard, shining.

"Annette is young," she said; "so is monsieur le docteur. Between young
people things move quickly; but Annette is a good daughter. Ah! what a
jewel of a nature!"

The least little smile twisted Soames' lips.

"Nothing definite, then?"

"But definite--no, indeed! The young man is veree nice, but--what would
you? There is no money at present."

She raised her willow-patterned tea-cup; Soames did the same. Their eyes
met.

"I am a married man," he said, "living apart from my wife for many
years. I am seeking to divorce her."

Madame Lamotte put down her cup. Indeed! What tragic things there were!
The entire absence of sentiment in her inspired a queer species of
contempt in Soames.

"I am a rich man," he added, fully conscious that the remark was not
in good taste. "It is useless to say more at present, but I think you
understand."

Madame's eyes, so open that the whites showed above them, looked at him
very straight.

"Ah! ca--mais nous avons le temps!" was all she said. "Another little
cup?" Soames refused, and, taking his leave, walked westward.

He had got that off his mind; she would not let Annette commit herself
with that cheerful young ass until...! But what chance of his ever
being able to say: 'I'm free.' What chance? The future had lost all
semblance of reality. He felt like a fly, entangled in cobweb filaments,
watching the desirable freedom of the air with pitiful eyes.

He was short of exercise, and wandered on to Kensington Gardens, and
down Queen's Gate towards Chelsea. Perhaps she had gone back to her
flat. That at all events he could find out. For since that last and most
ignominious repulse his wounded self-respect had taken refuge again in
the feeling that she must have a lover. He arrived before the little
Mansions at the dinner-hour. No need to enquire! A grey-haired lady was
watering the flower-boxes in her window. It was evidently let. And he
walked slowly past again, along the river--an evening of clear, quiet
beauty, all harmony and comfort, except within his heart.




CHAPTER III--RICHMOND PARK

On the afternoon that Soames crossed to France a cablegram was received
by Jolyon at Robin Hill:

"Your son down with enteric no immediate danger will cable again."

It reached a household already agitated by the imminent departure of
June, whose berth was booked for the following day. She was, indeed, in
the act of confiding Eric Cobbley and his family to her father's care
when the message arrived.

The resolution to become a Red Cross nurse, taken under stimulus of
Jolly's enlistment, had been loyally fulfilled with the irritation
and regret which all Forsytes feel at what curtails their individual
liberties. Enthusiastic at first about the 'wonderfulness' of the work,
she had begun after a month to feel that she could train herself so much
better than others could train her. And if Holly had not insisted on
following her example, and being trained too, she must inevitably have
'cried off.' The departure of Jolly and Val with their troop in April
had further stiffened her failing resolve. But now, on the point of
departure, the thought of leaving Eric Cobbley, with a wife and two
children, adrift in the cold waters of an unappreciative world weighed
on her so that she was still in danger of backing out. The reading of
that cablegram, with its disquieting reality, clinched the matter. She
saw herself already nursing Jolly--for of course they would let her
nurse her own brother! Jolyon--ever wide and doubtful--had no such hope.
Poor June!

Could any Forsyte of her generation grasp how rude and brutal life was?
Ever since he knew of his boy's arrival at Cape Town the thought of
him had been a kind of recurrent sickness in Jolyon. He could not get
reconciled to the feeling that Jolly was in danger all the time. The
cablegram, grave though it was, was almost a relief. He was now safe
from bullets, anyway. And yet--this enteric was a virulent disease! The
Times was full of deaths therefrom. Why could he not be lying out there
in that up-country hospital, and his boy safe at home? The un-Forsytean
self-sacrifice of his three children, indeed, had quite bewildered
Jolyon. He would eagerly change places with Jolly, because he loved his
boy; but no such personal motive was influencing them. He could only
think that it marked the decline of the Forsyte type.

Late that afternoon Holly came out to him under the old oak-tree. She
had grown up very much during these last months of hospital training
away from home. And, seeing her approach, he thought: 'She has more
sense than June, child though she is; more wisdom. Thank God she isn't
going out.' She had seated herself in the swing, very silent and still.
'She feels this,' thought Jolyon, 'as much as I' and, seeing her eyes
fixed on him, he said: "Don't take it to heart too much, my child. If he
weren't ill, he might be in much greater danger."

Holly got out of the swing.

"I want to tell you something, Dad. It was through me that Jolly
enlisted and went out."

"How's that?"

"When you were away in Paris, Val Dartie and I fell in love. We used to
ride in Richmond Park; we got engaged. Jolly found it out, and thought
he ought to stop it; so he dared Val to enlist. It was all my fault,
Dad; and I want to go out too. Because if anything happens to either of
them I should feel awful. Besides, I'm just as much trained as June."

Jolyon gazed at her in a stupefaction that was tinged with irony. So
this was the answer to the riddle he had been asking himself; and his
three children were Forsytes after all. Surely Holly might have told
him all this before! But he smothered the sarcastic sayings on his
lips. Tenderness to the young was perhaps the most sacred article of his
belief. He had got, no doubt, what he deserved. Engaged! So this was
why he had so lost touch with her! And to young Val Dartie--nephew of
Soames--in the other camp! It was all terribly distasteful. He closed
his easel, and set his drawing against the tree.

"Have you told June?"

"Yes; she says she'll get me into her cabin somehow. It's a single
cabin; but one of us could sleep on the floor. If you consent, she'll go
up now and get permission."

'Consent?' thought Jolyon. 'Rather late in the day to ask for that!' But
again he checked himself.

"You're too young, my dear; they won't let you."

"June knows some people that she helped to go to Cape Town. If they
won't let me nurse yet, I could stay with them and go on training there.
Let me go, Dad!"

Jolyon smiled because he could have cried.

"I never stop anyone from doing anything," he said.

Holly flung her arms round his neck.

"Oh! Dad, you are the best in the world."

'That means the worst,' thought Jolyon. If he had ever doubted his creed
of tolerance he did so then.

"I'm not friendly with Val's family," he said, "and I don't know Val,
but Jolly didn't like him."

Holly looked at the distance and said:

"I love him."

"That settles it," said Jolyon dryly, then catching the expression on
her face, he kissed her, with the thought: 'Is anything more pathetic
than the faith of the young?' Unless he actually forbade her going it
was obvious that he must make the best of it, so he went up to town with
June. Whether due to her persistence, or the fact that the official they
saw was an old school friend of Jolyon's, they obtained permission for
Holly to share the single cabin. He took them to Surbiton station the
following evening, and they duly slid away from him, provided with
money, invalid foods, and those letters of credit without which Forsytes
do not travel.

He drove back to Robin Hill under a brilliant sky to his late dinner,
served with an added care by servants trying to show him that they
sympathised, eaten with an added scrupulousness to show them that he
appreciated their sympathy. But it was a real relief to get to his cigar
on the terrace of flag-stones--cunningly chosen by young Bosinney for
shape and colour--with night closing in around him, so beautiful a
night, hardly whispering in the trees, and smelling so sweet that it
made him ache. The grass was drenched with dew, and he kept to those
flagstones, up and down, till presently it began to seem to him that he
was one of three, not wheeling, but turning right about at each end,
so that his father was always nearest to the house, and his son always
nearest to the terrace edge. Each had an arm lightly within his arm; he
dared not lift his hand to his cigar lest he should disturb them, and
it burned away, dripping ash on him, till it dropped from his lips,
at last, which were getting hot. They left him then, and his arms felt
chilly. Three Jolyons in one Jolyon they had walked.

He stood still, counting the sounds--a carriage passing on the highroad,
a distant train, the dog at Gage's farm, the whispering trees, the groom
playing on his penny whistle. A multitude of stars up there--bright and
silent, so far off! No moon as yet! Just enough light to show him the
dark flags and swords of the iris flowers along the terrace edge--his
favourite flower that had the night's own colour on its curving crumpled
petals. He turned round to the house. Big, unlighted, not a soul beside
himself to live in all that part of it. Stark loneliness! He could
not go on living here alone. And yet, so long as there was beauty, why
should a man feel lonely? The answer--as to some idiot's riddle--was:
Because he did. The greater the beauty, the greater the loneliness,
for at the back of beauty was harmony, and at the back of harmony
was--union. Beauty could not comfort if the soul were out of it. The
night, maddeningly lovely, with bloom of grapes on it in starshine, and
the breath of grass and honey coming from it, he could not enjoy, while
she who was to him the life of beauty, its embodiment and essence, was
cut off from him, utterly cut off now, he felt, by honourable decency.

He made a poor fist of sleeping, striving too hard after that
resignation which Forsytes find difficult to reach, bred to their own
way and left so comfortably off by their fathers. But after dawn he
dozed off, and soon was dreaming a strange dream.

He was on a stage with immensely high rich curtains--high as the very
stars--stretching in a semi-circle from footlights to footlights. He
himself was very small, a little black restless figure roaming up and
down; and the odd thing was that he was not altogether himself, but
Soames as well, so that he was not only experiencing but watching. This
figure of himself and Soames was trying to find a way out through the
curtains, which, heavy and dark, kept him in. Several times he had
crossed in front of them before he saw with delight a sudden narrow
rift--a tall chink of beauty the colour of iris flowers, like a glimpse
of Paradise, remote, ineffable. Stepping quickly forward to pass into
it, he found the curtains closing before him. Bitterly disappointed
he--or was it Soames?--moved on, and there was the chink again through
the parted curtains, which again closed too soon. This went on and on
and he never got through till he woke with the word "Irene" on his lips.
The dream disturbed him badly, especially that identification of himself
with Soames.

Next morning, finding it impossible to work, he spent hours riding
Jolly's horse in search of fatigue. And on the second day he made up his
mind to move to London and see if he could not get permission to follow
his daughters to South Africa. He had just begun to pack the following
morning when he received this letter:


"GREEN HOTEL,

"June 13.

"RICHMOND.

"MY DEAR JOLYON,

"You will be surprised to see how near I am to you. Paris became
impossible--and I have come here to be within reach of your advice. I
would so love to see you again. Since you left Paris I don't think I
have met anyone I could really talk to. Is all well with you and with
your boy? No one knows, I think, that I am here at present.

"Always your friend,

"IRENE."


Irene within three miles of him!--and again in flight! He stood with a
very queer smile on his lips. This was more than he had bargained for!

About noon he set out on foot across Richmond Park, and as he went
along, he thought: 'Richmond Park! By Jove, it suits us Forsytes!' Not
that Forsytes lived there--nobody lived there save royalty, rangers, and
the deer--but in Richmond Park Nature was allowed to go so far and no
further, putting up a brave show of being natural, seeming to say: 'Look
at my instincts--they are almost passions, very nearly out of hand, but
not quite, of course; the very hub of possession is to possess oneself.'
Yes! Richmond Park possessed itself, even on that bright day of June,
with arrowy cuckoos shifting the tree-points of their calls, and the
wood doves announcing high summer.

The Green Hotel, which Jolyon entered at one o'clock, stood nearly
opposite that more famous hostelry, the Crown and Sceptre; it was
modest, highly respectable, never out of cold beef, gooseberry tart, and
a dowager or two, so that a carriage and pair was almost always standing
before the door.

In a room draped in chintz so slippery as to forbid all emotion, Irene
was sitting on a piano stool covered with crewel work, playing
'Hansel and Gretel' out of an old score. Above her on a wall, not yet
Morris-papered, was a print of the Queen on a pony, amongst deer-hounds,
Scotch caps, and slain stags; beside her in a pot on the window-sill
was a white and rosy fuchsia. The Victorianism of the room almost
talked; and in her clinging frock Irene seemed to Jolyon like Venus
emerging from the shell of the past century.

"If the proprietor had eyes," he said, "he would show you the door; you
have broken through his decorations." Thus lightly he smothered up an
emotional moment. Having eaten cold beef, pickled walnut, gooseberry
tart, and drunk stone-bottle ginger-beer, they walked into the Park, and
light talk was succeeded by the silence Jolyon had dreaded.

"You haven't told me about Paris," he said at last.

"No. I've been shadowed for a long time; one gets used to that. But then
Soames came. By the little Niobe--the same story; would I go back to
him?"

"Incredible!"

She had spoken without raising her eyes, but she looked up now. Those
dark eyes clinging to his said as no words could have: 'I have come to
an end; if you want me, here I am.'

For sheer emotional intensity had he ever--old as he was--passed through
such a moment?

The words: 'Irene, I adore you!' almost escaped him. Then, with a
clearness of which he would not have believed mental vision capable, he
saw Jolly lying with a white face turned to a white wall.

"My boy is very ill out there," he said quietly.

Irene slipped her arm through his.

"Let's walk on; I understand."

No miserable explanation to attempt! She had understood! And they walked
on among the bracken, knee-high already, between the rabbit-holes and
the oak-trees, talking of Jolly. He left her two hours later at the
Richmond Hill Gate, and turned towards home.

'She knows of my feeling for her, then,' he thought. Of course! One
could not keep knowledge of that from such a woman!




CHAPTER IV--OVER THE RIVER

Jolly was tired to death of dreams. They had left him now too wan and
weak to dream again; left him to lie torpid, faintly remembering far-off
things; just able to turn his eyes and gaze through the window near his
cot at the trickle of river running by in the sands, at the straggling
milk-bush of the Karoo beyond. He knew what the Karoo was now, even if
he had not seen a Boer roll over like a rabbit, or heard the whine of
flying bullets. This pestilence had sneaked on him before he had smelled
powder. A thirsty day and a rash drink, or perhaps a tainted fruit--who
knew? Not he, who had not even strength left to grudge the evil thing
its victory--just enough to know that there were many lying here with
him, that he was sore with frenzied dreaming; just enough to watch
that thread of river and be able to remember faintly those far-away
things....

The sun was nearly down. It would be cooler soon. He would have liked
to know the time--to feel his old watch, so butter-smooth, to hear the
repeater strike. It would have been friendly, home-like. He had not even
strength to remember that the old watch was last wound the day he began
to lie here. The pulse of his brain beat so feebly that faces which came
and went, nurse's, doctor's, orderly's, were indistinguishable, just
one indifferent face; and the words spoken about him meant all the same
thing, and that almost nothing. Those things he used to do, though far
and faint, were more distinct--walking past the foot of the old steps
at Harrow 'bill'--'Here, sir! Here, sir!'--wrapping boots in the
Westminster Gazette, greenish paper, shining boots--grandfather coming
from somewhere dark--a smell of earth--the mushroom house! Robin Hill!
Burying poor old Balthasar in the leaves! Dad! Home....

Consciousness came again with noticing that the river had no water in
it--someone was speaking too. Want anything? No. What could one want?
Too weak to want--only to hear his watch strike....

Holly! She wouldn't bowl properly. Oh! Pitch them up! Not sneaks!...
'Back her, Two and Bow!' He was Two!... Consciousness came once more
with a sense of the violet dusk outside, and a rising blood-red
crescent moon. His eyes rested on it fascinated; in the long minutes of
brain-nothingness it went moving up and up....

"He's going, doctor!" Not pack boots again? Never? 'Mind your form,
Two!' Don't cry! Go quietly--over the river--sleep!... Dark? If somebody
would--strike--his--watch!...




CHAPTER V--SOAMES ACTS

A sealed letter in the handwriting of Mr. Polteed remained unopened
in Soames' pocket throughout two hours of sustained attention to the
affairs of the 'New Colliery Company,' which, declining almost from the
moment of old Jolyon's retirement from the Chairmanship, had lately run
down so fast that there was now nothing for it but a 'winding-up.' He
took the letter out to lunch at his City Club, sacred to him for the
meals he had eaten there with his father in the early seventies, when
James used to like him to come and see for himself the nature of his
future life.

Here in a remote corner before a plate of roast mutton and mashed
potato, he read:


"DEAR SIR,

"In accordance with your suggestion we have duly taken the matter up at
the other end with gratifying results. Observation of 47 has enabled us
to locate 17 at the Green Hotel, Richmond. The two have been observed
to meet daily during the past week in Richmond Park. Nothing absolutely
crucial has so far been notified. But in conjunction with what we had
from Paris at the beginning of the year, I am confident we could now
satisfy the Court. We shall, of course, continue to watch the matter
until we hear from you.

"Very faithfully yours,

"CLAUD POLTEED."


Soames read it through twice and beckoned to the waiter:

"Take this away; it's cold."

"Shall I bring you some more, sir?"

"No. Get me some coffee in the other room."

And, paying for what he had not eaten, he went out, passing two
acquaintances without sign of recognition.

'Satisfy the Court!' he thought, sitting at a little round marble
table with the coffee before him. That fellow Jolyon! He poured out his
coffee, sweetened and drank it. He would disgrace him in the eyes of his
own children! And rising, with that resolution hot within him, he found
for the first time the inconvenience of being his own solicitor. He
could not treat this scandalous matter in his own office. He must commit
the soul of his private dignity to a stranger, some other professional
dealer in family dishonour. Who was there he could go to? Linkman and
Laver in Budge Row, perhaps--reliable, not too conspicuous, only nodding
acquaintances. But before he saw them he must see Polteed again. But
at this thought Soames had a moment of sheer weakness. To part with his
secret? How find the words? How subject himself to contempt and secret
laughter? Yet, after all, the fellow knew already--oh yes, he knew! And,
feeling that he must finish with it now, he took a cab into the West
End.

In this hot weather the window of Mr. Polteed's room was positively
open, and the only precaution was a wire gauze, preventing the intrusion
of flies. Two or three had tried to come in, and been caught, so that
they seemed to be clinging there with the intention of being devoured
presently. Mr. Polteed, following the direction of his client's eye,
rose apologetically and closed the window.

'Posing ass!' thought Soames. Like all who fundamentally believe in
themselves he was rising to the occasion, and, with his little sideway
smile, he said: "I've had your letter. I'm going to act. I suppose
you know who the lady you've been watching really is?" Mr. Polteed's
expression at that moment was a masterpiece. It so clearly said: 'Well,
what do you think? But mere professional knowledge, I assure you--pray
forgive it!' He made a little half airy movement with his hand, as who
should say: 'Such things--such things will happen to us all!'

"Very well, then," said Soames, moistening his lips: "there's no need to
say more. I'm instructing Linkman and Laver of Budge Row to act for me.
I don't want to hear your evidence, but kindly make your report to them
at five o'clock, and continue to observe the utmost secrecy."

Mr. Polteed half closed his eyes, as if to comply at once. "My dear
sir," he said.

"Are you convinced," asked Soames with sudden energy, "that there is
enough?"

The faintest movement occurred to Mr. Polteed's shoulders.

"You can risk it," he murmured; "with what we have, and human nature,
you can risk it."

Soames rose. "You will ask for Mr. Linkman. Thanks; don't get up." He
could not bear Mr. Polteed to slide as usual between him and the door.
In the sunlight of Piccadilly he wiped his forehead. This had been the
worst of it--he could stand the strangers better. And he went back into
the City to do what still lay before him.

That evening in Park Lane, watching his father dine, he was overwhelmed
by his old longing for a son--a son, to watch him eat as he went down
the years, to be taken on his knee as James on a time had been wont to
take him; a son of his own begetting, who could understand him because
he was the same flesh and blood--understand, and comfort him, and become
more rich and cultured than himself because he would start even
better off. To get old--like that thin, grey wiry-frail figure sitting
there--and be quite alone with possessions heaping up around him; to
take no interest in anything because it had no future and must pass away
from him to hands and mouths and eyes for whom he cared no jot! No! He
would force it through now, and be free to marry, and have a son to care
for him before he grew to be like the old old man his father, wistfully
watching now his sweetbread, now his son.

In that mood he went up to bed. But, lying warm between those fine linen
sheets of Emily's providing, he was visited by memories and torture.
Visions of Irene, almost the solid feeling of her body, beset him. Why
had he ever been fool enough to see her again, and let this flood
back on him so that it was pain to think of her with that fellow--that
stealing fellow.




CHAPTER VI--A SUMMER DAY

His boy was seldom absent from Jolyon's mind in the days which followed
the first walk with Irene in Richmond Park. No further news had come;
enquiries at the War Office elicited nothing; nor could he expect to
hear from June and Holly for three weeks at least. In these days he felt
how insufficient were his memories of Jolly, and what an amateur of a
father he had been. There was not a single memory in which anger played
a part; not one reconciliation, because there had never been a rupture;
nor one heart-to-heart confidence, not even when Jolly's mother
died. Nothing but half-ironical affection. He had been too afraid of
committing himself in any direction, for fear of losing his liberty, or
interfering with that of his boy.

Only in Irene's presence had he relief, highly complicated by the
ever-growing perception of how divided he was between her and his son.
With Jolly was bound up all that sense of continuity and social creed of
which he had drunk deeply in his youth and again during his boy's public
school and varsity life--all that sense of not going back on what father
and son expected of each other. With Irene was bound up all his delight
in beauty and in Nature. And he seemed to know less and less which was
the stronger within him. From such sentimental paralysis he was rudely
awakened, however, one afternoon, just as he was starting off to
Richmond, by a young man with a bicycle and a face oddly familiar, who
came forward faintly smiling.

"Mr. Jolyon Forsyte? Thank you!" Placing an envelope in Jolyon's hand he
wheeled off the path and rode away. Bewildered, Jolyon opened it.

"Admiralty Probate and Divorce, Forsyte v. Forsyte and Forsyte!"

A sensation of shame and disgust was followed by the instant reaction
'Why, here's the very thing you want, and you don't like it!' But she
must have had one too; and he must go to her at once. He turned things
over as he went along. It was an ironical business. For, whatever the
Scriptures said about the heart, it took more than mere longings to
satisfy the law. They could perfectly well defend this suit, or at least
in good faith try to. But the idea of doing so revolted Jolyon. If not
her lover in deed he was in desire, and he knew that she was ready
to come to him. Her face had told him so. Not that he exaggerated her
feeling for him. She had had her grand passion, and he could not expect
another from her at his age. But she had trust in him, affection for
him, and must feel that he would be a refuge. Surely she would not ask
him to defend the suit, knowing that he adored her! Thank Heaven she had
not that maddening British conscientiousness which refused happiness
for the sake of refusing! She must rejoice at this chance of being free
after seventeen years of death in life! As to publicity, the fat was in
the fire! To defend the suit would not take away the slur. Jolyon had
all the proper feeling of a Forsyte whose privacy is threatened: If he
was to be hung by the Law, by all means let it be for a sheep! Moreover
the notion of standing in a witness box and swearing to the truth that
no gesture, not even a word of love had passed between them seemed
to him more degrading than to take the tacit stigma of being an
adulterer--more truly degrading, considering the feeling in his heart,
and just as bad and painful for his children. The thought of explaining
away, if he could, before a judge and twelve average Englishmen, their
meetings in Paris, and the walks in Richmond Park, horrified him. The
brutality and hypocritical censoriousness of the whole process; the
probability that they would not be believed--the mere vision of her,
whom he looked on as the embodiment of Nature and of Beauty, standing
there before all those suspicious, gloating eyes was hideous to him.
No, no! To defend a suit only made a London holiday, and sold the
newspapers. A thousand times better accept what Soames and the gods had
sent!

'Besides,' he thought honestly, 'who knows whether, even for my boy's
sake, I could have stood this state of things much longer? Anyway, her
neck will be out of chancery at last!' Thus absorbed, he was hardly
conscious of the heavy heat. The sky had become overcast, purplish with
little streaks of white. A heavy heat-drop plashed a little star pattern
in the dust of the road as he entered the Park. 'Phew!' he thought,
'thunder! I hope she's not come to meet me; there's a ducking up there!'
But at that very minute he saw Irene coming towards the Gate. 'We must
scuttle back to Robin Hill,' he thought.

                 *****

The storm had passed over the Poultry at four o'clock, bringing welcome
distraction to the clerks in every office. Soames was drinking a cup of
tea when a note was brought in to him:


"DEAR SIR,

"Forsyte v. Forsyte and Forsyte

"In accordance with your instructions, we beg to inform you that we
personally served the respondent and co-respondent in this suit to-day,
at Richmond, and Robin Hill, respectively.

"Faithfully yours,

"LINKMAN AND LAVER."


For some minutes Soames stared at that note. Ever since he had given
those instructions he had been tempted to annul them. It was so
scandalous, such a general disgrace! The evidence, too, what he had
heard of it, had never seemed to him conclusive; somehow, he believed
less and less that those two had gone all lengths. But this, of course,
would drive them to it; and he suffered from the thought. That fellow to
have her love, where he had failed! Was it too late? Now that they had
been brought up sharp by service of this petition, had he not a lever
with which he could force them apart? 'But if I don't act at once,' he
thought, 'it will be too late, now they've had this thing. I'll go and
see him; I'll go down!'

And, sick with nervous anxiety, he sent out for one of the 'new-fangled'
motor-cabs. It might take a long time to run that fellow to ground, and
Goodness knew what decision they might come to after such a shock! 'If
I were a theatrical ass,' he thought, 'I suppose I should be taking a
horse-whip or a pistol or something!' He took instead a bundle of papers
in the case of 'Magentie versus Wake,' intending to read them on the way
down. He did not even open them, but sat quite still, jolted and jarred,
unconscious of the draught down the back of his neck, or the smell of
petrol. He must be guided by the fellow's attitude; the great thing was
to keep his head!

London had already begun to disgorge its workers as he neared Putney
Bridge; the ant-heap was on the move outwards. What a lot of ants, all
with a living to get, holding on by their eyelids in the great scramble!
Perhaps for the first time in his life Soames thought: 'I could let go
if I liked! Nothing could touch me; I could snap my fingers, live as I
wished--enjoy myself!' No! One could not live as he had and just drop
it all--settle down in Capua, to spend the money and reputation he had
made. A man's life was what he possessed and sought to possess. Only
fools thought otherwise--fools, and socialists, and libertines!

The cab was passing villas now, going a great pace. 'Fifteen miles an
hour, I should think!' he mused; 'this'll take people out of town to
live!' and he thought of its bearing on the portions of London owned by
his father--he himself had never taken to that form of investment, the
gambler in him having all the outlet needed in his pictures. And the cab
sped on, down the hill past Wimbledon Common. This interview! Surely a
man of fifty-two with grown-up children, and hung on the line, would not
be reckless. 'He won't want to disgrace the family,' he thought; 'he
was as fond of his father as I am of mine, and they were brothers. That
woman brings destruction--what is it in her? I've never known.' The
cab branched off, along the side of a wood, and he heard a late cuckoo
calling, almost the first he had heard that year. He was now almost
opposite the site he had originally chosen for his house, and which
had been so unceremoniously rejected by Bosinney in favour of his own
choice. He began passing his handkerchief over his face and hands,
taking deep breaths to give him steadiness. 'Keep one's head,' he
thought, 'keep one's head!'

The cab turned in at the drive which might have been his own, and the
sound of music met him. He had forgotten the fellow's daughters.

"I may be out again directly," he said to the driver, "or I may be kept
some time"; and he rang the bell.

Following the maid through the curtains into the inner hall, he felt
relieved that the impact of this meeting would be broken by June or
Holly, whichever was playing in there, so that with complete surprise
he saw Irene at the piano, and Jolyon sitting in an armchair listening.
They both stood up. Blood surged into Soames' brain, and all his
resolution to be guided by this or that left him utterly. The look of
his farmer forbears--dogged Forsytes down by the sea, from 'Superior
Dosset' back--grinned out of his face.

"Very pretty!" he said.

He heard the fellow murmur:

"This is hardly the place--we'll go to the study, if you don't mind."
And they both passed him through the curtain opening. In the little
room to which he followed them, Irene stood by the open window, and the
'fellow' close to her by a big chair. Soames pulled the door to behind
him with a slam; the sound carried him back all those years to the day
when he had shut out Jolyon--shut him out for meddling with his affairs.

"Well," he said, "what have you to say for yourselves?"

The fellow had the effrontery to smile.

"What we have received to-day has taken away your right to ask. I should
imagine you will be glad to have your neck out of chancery."

"Oh!" said Soames; "you think so! I came to tell you that I'll divorce
her with every circumstance of disgrace to you both, unless you swear to
keep clear of each other from now on."

He was astonished at his fluency, because his mind was stammering and
his hands twitching. Neither of them answered; but their faces seemed to
him as if contemptuous.

"Well," he said; "you--Irene?"

Her lips moved, but Jolyon laid his hand on her arm.

"Let her alone!" said Soames furiously. "Irene, will you swear it?"

"No."

"Oh! and you?"

"Still less."

"So then you're guilty, are you?"

"Yes, guilty." It was Irene speaking in that serene voice, with that
unreached air which had maddened him so often; and, carried beyond
himself, he cried:

"You are a devil"

"Go out! Leave this house, or I'll do you an injury."

That fellow to talk of injuries! Did he know how near his throat was to
being scragged?

"A trustee," he said, "embezzling trust property! A thief, stealing his
cousin's wife."

"Call me what you like. You have chosen your part, we have chosen ours.
Go out!"

If he had brought a weapon Soames might have used it at that moment.

"I'll make you pay!" he said.

"I shall be very happy."

At that deadly turning of the meaning of his speech by the son of him
who had nicknamed him 'the man of property,' Soames stood glaring. It
was ridiculous!

There they were, kept from violence by some secret force. No blow
possible, no words to meet the case. But he could not, did not know how
to turn and go away. His eyes fastened on Irene's face--the last time he
would ever see that fatal face--the last time, no doubt!

"You," he said suddenly, "I hope you'll treat him as you treated
me--that's all."

He saw her wince, and with a sensation not quite triumph, not quite
relief, he wrenched open the door, passed out through the hall, and got
into his cab. He lolled against the cushion with his eyes shut. Never in
his life had he been so near to murderous violence, never so thrown away
the restraint which was his second nature. He had a stripped and
naked feeling, as if all virtue had gone out of him--life meaningless,
mind-striking work. Sunlight streamed in on him, but he felt cold. The
scene he had passed through had gone from him already, what was before
him would not materialise, he could catch on to nothing; and he felt
frightened, as if he had been hanging over the edge of a precipice, as
if with another turn of the screw sanity would have failed him. 'I'm not
fit for it,' he thought; 'I mustn't--I'm not fit for it.' The cab sped
on, and in mechanical procession trees, houses, people passed, but had
no significance. 'I feel very queer,' he thought; 'I'll take a Turkish
bath.--I've been very near to something. It won't do.' The cab whirred
its way back over the bridge, up the Fulham Road, along the Park.

"To the Hammam," said Soames.

Curious that on so warm a summer day, heat should be so comforting!
Crossing into the hot room he met George Forsyte coming out, red and
glistening.

"Hallo!" said George; "what are you training for? You've not got much
superfluous."

Buffoon! Soames passed him with his sideway smile. Lying back, rubbing
his skin uneasily for the first signs of perspiration, he thought: 'Let
them laugh! I won't feel anything! I can't stand violence! It's not good
for me!'




CHAPTER VII--A SUMMER NIGHT

Soames left dead silence in the little study. "Thank you for that good
lie," said Jolyon suddenly. "Come out--the air in here is not what it
was!"

In front of a long high southerly wall on which were trained peach-trees
the two walked up and down in silence. Old Jolyon had planted some
cupressus-trees, at intervals, between this grassy terrace and the
dipping meadow full of buttercups and ox-eyed daisies; for twelve years
they had flourished, till their dark spiral shapes had quite a look of
Italy. Birds fluttered softly in the wet shrubbery; the swallows swooped
past, with a steel-blue sheen on their swift little bodies; the grass
felt springy beneath the feet, its green refreshed; butterflies chased
each other. After that painful scene the quiet of Nature was wonderfully
poignant. Under the sun-soaked wall ran a narrow strip of garden-bed
full of mignonette and pansies, and from the bees came a low hum in
which all other sounds were set--the mooing of a cow deprived of her
calf, the calling of a cuckoo from an elm-tree at the bottom of the
meadow. Who would have thought that behind them, within ten miles,
London began--that London of the Forsytes, with its wealth, its misery;
its dirt and noise; its jumbled stone isles of beauty, its grey sea
of hideous brick and stucco? That London which had seen Irene's early
tragedy, and Jolyon's own hard days; that web; that princely workhouse
of the possessive instinct!

And while they walked Jolyon pondered those words: 'I hope you'll treat
him as you treated me.' That would depend on himself. Could he trust
himself? Did Nature permit a Forsyte not to make a slave of what he
adored? Could beauty be confided to him? Or should she not be just a
visitor, coming when she would, possessed for moments which passed, to
return only at her own choosing? 'We are a breed of spoilers!' thought
Jolyon, 'close and greedy; the bloom of life is not safe with us. Let
her come to me as she will, when she will, not at all if she will not.
Let me be just her stand-by, her perching-place; never-never her cage!'

She was the chink of beauty in his dream. Was he to pass through the
curtains now and reach her? Was the rich stuff of many possessions,
the close encircling fabric of the possessive instinct walling in that
little black figure of himself, and Soames--was it to be rent so that
he could pass through into his vision, find there something not of the
senses only? 'Let me,' he thought, 'ah! let me only know how not to
grasp and destroy!'

But at dinner there were plans to be made. To-night she would go back to
the hotel, but tomorrow he would take her up to London. He must instruct
his solicitor--Jack Herring. Not a finger must be raised to hinder the
process of the Law. Damages exemplary, judicial strictures, costs, what
they liked--let it go through at the first moment, so that her neck
might be out of chancery at last! To-morrow he would see Herring--they
would go and see him together. And then--abroad, leaving no doubt, no
difficulty about evidence, making the lie she had told into the truth.
He looked round at her; and it seemed to his adoring eyes that more
than a woman was sitting there. The spirit of universal beauty, deep,
mysterious, which the old painters, Titian, Giorgione, Botticelli, had
known how to capture and transfer to the faces of their women--this
flying beauty seemed to him imprinted on her brow, her hair, her lips,
and in her eyes.

'And this is to be mine!' he thought. 'It frightens me!'

After dinner they went out on to the terrace to have coffee. They sat
there long, the evening was so lovely, watching the summer night
come very slowly on. It was still warm and the air smelled of lime
blossom--early this summer. Two bats were flighting with the faint
mysterious little noise they make. He had placed the chairs in front
of the study window, and moths flew past to visit the discreet light in
there. There was no wind, and not a whisper in the old oak-tree twenty
yards away! The moon rose from behind the copse, nearly full; and the
two lights struggled, till moonlight conquered, changing the colour and
quality of all the garden, stealing along the flagstones, reaching their
feet, climbing up, changing their faces.

"Well," said Jolyon at last, "you'll be tired, dear; we'd better start.
The maid will show you Holly's room," and he rang the study bell. The
maid who came handed him a telegram. Watching her take Irene away, he
thought: 'This must have come an hour or more ago, and she didn't bring
it out to us! That shows! Well, we'll be hung for a sheep soon!' And,
opening the telegram, he read:

"JOLYON FORSYTE, Robin Hill.--Your son passed painlessly away on June
20th. Deep sympathy"--some name unknown to him.

He dropped it, spun round, stood motionless. The moon shone in on him;
a moth flew in his face. The first day of all that he had not thought
almost ceaselessly of Jolly. He went blindly towards the window, struck
against the old armchair--his father's--and sank down on to the arm of
it. He sat there huddled' forward, staring into the night. Gone out like
a candle flame; far from home, from love, all by himself, in the dark!
His boy! From a little chap always so good to him--so friendly! Twenty
years old, and cut down like grass--to have no life at all! 'I didn't
really know him,' he thought, 'and he didn't know me; but we loved each
other. It's only love that matters.'

To die out there--lonely--wanting them--wanting home! This seemed to his
Forsyte heart more painful, more pitiful than death itself. No shelter,
no protection, no love at the last! And all the deeply rooted clanship
in him, the family feeling and essential clinging to his own flesh and
blood which had been so strong in old Jolyon was so strong in all the
Forsytes--felt outraged, cut, and torn by his boy's lonely passing.
Better far if he had died in battle, without time to long for them to
come to him, to call out for them, perhaps, in his delirium!

The moon had passed behind the oak-tree now, endowing it with uncanny
life, so that it seemed watching him--the oak-tree his boy had been so
fond of climbing, out of which he had once fallen and hurt himself, and
hadn't cried!

The door creaked. He saw Irene come in, pick up the telegram and read
it. He heard the faint rustle of her dress. She sank on her knees close
to him, and he forced himself to smile at her. She stretched up her arms
and drew his head down on her shoulder. The perfume and warmth of her
encircled him; her presence gained slowly his whole being.




CHAPTER VIII--JAMES IN WAITING

Sweated to serenity, Soames dined at the Remove and turned his face
toward Park Lane. His father had been unwell lately. This would have to
be kept from him! Never till that moment had he realised how much the
dread of bringing James' grey hairs down with sorrow to the grave had
counted with him; how intimately it was bound up with his own shrinking
from scandal. His affection for his father, always deep, had increased
of late years with the knowledge that James looked on him as the real
prop of his decline. It seemed pitiful that one who had been so careful
all his life and done so much for the family name--so that it was almost
a byword for solid, wealthy respectability--should at his last gasp have
to see it in all the newspapers. This was like lending a hand to Death,
that final enemy of Forsytes. 'I must tell mother,' he thought, 'and
when it comes on, we must keep the papers from him somehow. He sees
hardly anyone.' Letting himself in with his latchkey, he was beginning
to ascend he stairs when he became conscious of commotion on the
second-floor landing. His mother's voice was saying:

"Now, James, you'll catch cold. Why can't you wait quietly?"

His father's answering

"Wait? I'm always waiting. Why doesn't he come in?"

"You can speak to him to-morrow morning, instead of making a guy of
yourself on the landing."

"He'll go up to bed, I shouldn't wonder. I shan't sleep."

"Now come back to bed, James."

"Um! I might die before to-morrow morning for all you can tell."

"You shan't have to wait till to-morrow morning; I'll go down and bring
him up. Don't fuss!"

"There you go--always so cock-a-hoop. He mayn't come in at all."

"Well, if he doesn't come in you won't catch him by standing out here in
your dressing-gown."

Soames rounded the last bend and came in sight of his father's
tall figure wrapped in a brown silk quilted gown, stooping over the
balustrade above. Light fell on his silvery hair and whiskers, investing
his head with, a sort of halo.

"Here he is!" he heard him say in a voice which sounded injured, and his
mother's comfortable answer from the bedroom door:

"That's all right. Come in, and I'll brush your hair." James extended a
thin, crooked finger, oddly like the beckoning of a skeleton, and passed
through the doorway of his bedroom.

'What is it?' thought Soames. 'What has he got hold of now?'

His father was sitting before the dressing-table sideways to the mirror,
while Emily slowly passed two silver-backed brushes through and through
his hair. She would do this several times a day, for it had on him
something of the effect produced on a cat by scratching between its
ears.

"There you are!" he said. "I've been waiting."

Soames stroked his shoulder, and, taking up a silver button-hook,
examined the mark on it.

"Well," he said, "you're looking better."

James shook his head.

"I want to say something. Your mother hasn't heard." He announced
Emily's ignorance of what he hadn't told her, as if it were a grievance.

"Your father's been in a great state all the evening. I'm sure I don't
know what about."

The faint 'whisk-whisk' of the brushes continued the soothing of her
voice.

"No! you know nothing," said James. "Soames can tell me." And, fixing
his grey eyes, in which there was a look of strain, uncomfortable to
watch, on his son, he muttered:

"I'm getting on, Soames. At my age I can't tell. I might die any time.
There'll be a lot of money. There's Rachel and Cicely got no children;
and Val's out there--that chap his father will get hold of all he can.
And somebody'll pick up Imogen, I shouldn't wonder."

Soames listened vaguely--he had heard all this before. Whish-whish! went
the brushes.

"If that's all!" said Emily.

"All!" cried James; "it's nothing. I'm coming to that." And again his
eyes strained pitifully at Soames.

"It's you, my boy," he said suddenly; "you ought to get a divorce."

That word, from those of all lips, was almost too much for Soames'
composure. His eyes reconcentrated themselves quickly on the buttonhook,
and as if in apology James hurried on:

"I don't know what's become of her--they say she's abroad. Your Uncle
Swithin used to admire her--he was a funny fellow." (So he always
alluded to his dead twin-'The Stout and the Lean of it,' they had been
called.) "She wouldn't be alone, I should say." And with that summing-up
of the effect of beauty on human nature, he was silent, watching his
son with eyes doubting as a bird's. Soames, too, was silent. Whish-whish
went the brushes.

"Come, James! Soames knows best. It's his 'business."

"Ah!" said James, and the word came from deep down; "but there's all
my money, and there's his--who's it to go to? And when he dies the name
goes out."

Soames replaced the button-hook on the lace and pink silk of the
dressing-table coverlet.

"The name?" said Emily, "there are all the other Forsytes."

"As if that helped me," muttered James. "I shall be in my grave, and
there'll be nobody, unless he marries again."

"You're quite right," said Soames quietly; "I'm getting a divorce."

James' eyes almost started from his head.

"What?" he cried. "There! nobody tells me anything."

"Well," said Emily, "who would have imagined you wanted it? My dear boy,
that is a surprise, after all these years."

"It'll be a scandal," muttered James, as if to himself; "but I can't
help that. Don't brush so hard. When'll it come on?"

"Before the Long Vacation; it's not defended."

James' lips moved in secret calculation. "I shan't live to see my
grandson," he muttered.

Emily ceased brushing. "Of course you will, James. Soames will be as
quick as he can."

There was a long silence, till James reached out his arm.

"Here! let's have the eau-de-Cologne," and, putting it to his nose, he
moved his forehead in the direction of his son. Soames bent over and
kissed that brow just where the hair began. A relaxing quiver passed
over James' face, as though the wheels of anxiety within were running
down.

"I'll get to bed," he said; "I shan't want to see the papers when that
comes. They're a morbid lot; I can't pay attention to them, I'm too
old."

Queerly affected, Soames went to the door; he heard his father say:

"Here, I'm tired. I'll say a prayer in bed."

And his mother answering

"That's right, James; it'll be ever so much more comfy."




CHAPTER IX--OUT OF THE WEB

On Forsyte 'Change the announcement of Jolly's death, among a batch of
troopers, caused mixed sensation. Strange to read that Jolyon Forsyte
(fifth of the name in direct descent) had died of disease in the service
of his country, and not be able to feel it personally. It revived the
old grudge against his father for having estranged himself. For such
was still the prestige of old Jolyon that the other Forsytes could never
quite feel, as might have been expected, that it was they who had cut
off his descendants for irregularity. The news increased, of course, the
interest and anxiety about Val; but then Val's name was Dartie, and even
if he were killed in battle or got the Victoria Cross, it would not be
at all the same as if his name were Forsyte. Not even casualty or
glory to the Haymans would be really satisfactory. Family pride felt
defrauded.

How the rumour arose, then, that 'something very dreadful, my dear,'
was pending, no one, least of all Soames, could tell, secret as he kept
everything. Possibly some eye had seen 'Forsyte v. Forsyte and Forsyte,'
in the cause list; and had added it to 'Irene in Paris with a fair
beard.' Possibly some wall at Park Lane had ears. The fact remained that
it was known--whispered among the old, discussed among the young--that
family pride must soon receive a blow.

Soames, paying one, of his Sunday visits to Timothy's--paying it with
the feeling that after the suit came on he would be paying no more--felt
knowledge in the air as he came in. Nobody, of course, dared speak of
it before him, but each of the four other Forsytes present held their
breath, aware that nothing could prevent Aunt Juley from making them all
uncomfortable. She looked so piteously at Soames, she checked herself on
the point of speech so often, that Aunt Hester excused herself and
said she must go and bathe Timothy's eye--he had a sty coming. Soames,
impassive, slightly supercilious, did not stay long. He went out with a
curse stifled behind his pale, just smiling lips.

Fortunately for the peace of his mind, cruelly tortured by the
coming scandal, he was kept busy day and night with plans for his
retirement--for he had come to that grim conclusion. To go on seeing
all those people who had known him as a 'long-headed chap,' an astute
adviser--after that--no! The fastidiousness and pride which was so
strangely, so inextricably blended in him with possessive obtuseness,
revolted against the thought. He would retire, live privately, go on
buying pictures, make a great name as a collector--after all, his heart
was more in that than it had ever been in Law. In pursuance of this
now fixed resolve, he had to get ready to amalgamate his business
with another firm without letting people know, for that would excite
curiosity and make humiliation cast its shadow before. He had pitched on
the firm of Cuthcott, Holliday and Kingson, two of whom were dead. The
full name after the amalgamation would therefore be Cuthcott, Holliday,
Kingson, Forsyte, Bustard and Forsyte. But after debate as to which
of the dead still had any influence with the living, it was decided to
reduce the title to Cuthcott, Kingson and Forsyte, of whom Kingson would
be the active and Soames the sleeping partner. For leaving his name,
prestige, and clients behind him, Soames would receive considerable
value.

One night, as befitted a man who had arrived at so important a stage
of his career, he made a calculation of what he was worth, and after
writing off liberally for depreciation by the war, found his value to
be some hundred and thirty thousand pounds. At his father's death, which
could not, alas, be delayed much longer, he must come into at least
another fifty thousand, and his yearly expenditure at present just
reached two. Standing among his pictures, he saw before him a future
full of bargains earned by the trained faculty of knowing better than
other people. Selling what was about to decline, keeping what was still
going up, and exercising judicious insight into future taste, he would
make a unique collection, which at his death would pass to the nation
under the title 'Forsyte Bequest.'

If the divorce went through, he had determined on his line with Madame
Lamotte. She had, he knew, but one real ambition--to live on her
'renter' in Paris near her grandchildren. He would buy the goodwill
of the Restaurant Bretagne at a fancy price. Madame would live like a
Queen-Mother in Paris on the interest, invested as she would know how.
(Incidentally Soames meant to put a capable manager in her place, and
make the restaurant pay good interest on his money. There were great
possibilities in Soho.) On Annette he would promise to settle fifteen
thousand pounds (whether designedly or not), precisely the sum old
Jolyon had settled on 'that woman.'

A letter from Jolyon's solicitor to his own had disclosed the fact that
'those two' were in Italy. And an opportunity had been duly given for
noting that they had first stayed at an hotel in London. The matter was
clear as daylight, and would be disposed of in half an hour or so; but
during that half-hour he, Soames, would go down to hell; and after that
half-hour all bearers of the Forsyte name would feel the bloom was off
the rose. He had no illusions like Shakespeare that roses by any other
name would smell as sweet. The name was a possession, a concrete,
unstained piece of property, the value of which would be reduced some
twenty per cent. at least. Unless it were Roger, who had once refused to
stand for Parliament, and--oh, irony!--Jolyon, hung on the line,
there had never been a distinguished Forsyte. But that very lack of
distinction was the name's greatest asset. It was a private name,
intensely individual, and his own property; it had never been exploited
for good or evil by intrusive report. He and each member of his family
owned it wholly, sanely, secretly, without any more interference from
the public than had been necessitated by their births, their marriages,
their deaths. And during these weeks of waiting and preparing to drop
the Law, he conceived for that Law a bitter distaste, so deeply did he
resent its coming violation of his name, forced on him by the need he
felt to perpetuate that name in a lawful manner. The monstrous injustice
of the whole thing excited in him a perpetual suppressed fury. He had
asked no better than to live in spotless domesticity, and now he must go
into the witness box, after all these futile, barren years, and proclaim
his failure to keep his wife--incur the pity, the amusement, the
contempt of his kind. It was all upside down. She and that fellow ought
to be the sufferers, and they--were in Italy! In these weeks the Law he
had served so faithfully, looked on so reverently as the guardian of all
property, seemed to him quite pitiful. What could be more insane than
to tell a man that he owned his wife, and punish him when someone
unlawfully took her away from him? Did the Law not know that a man's
name was to him the apple of his eye, that it was far harder to be
regarded as cuckold than as seducer? He actually envied Jolyon the
reputation of succeeding where he, Soames, had failed. The question of
damages worried him, too. He wanted to make that fellow suffer, but he
remembered his cousin's words, "I shall be very happy," with the uneasy
feeling that to claim damages would make not Jolyon but himself suffer;
he felt uncannily that Jolyon would rather like to pay them--the chap
was so loose. Besides, to claim damages was not the thing to do. The
claim, indeed, had been made almost mechanically; and as the hour
drew near Soames saw in it just another dodge of this insensitive and
topsy-turvy Law to make him ridiculous; so that people might sneer
and say: "Oh, yes, he got quite a good price for her!" And he gave
instructions that his Counsel should state that the money would be given
to a Home for Fallen Women. He was a long time hitting off exactly the
right charity; but, having pitched on it, he used to wake up in
the night and think: 'It won't do, too lurid; it'll draw attention.
Something quieter--better taste.' He did not care for dogs, or he would
have named them; and it was in desperation at last--for his knowledge of
charities was limited--that he decided on the blind. That could not be
inappropriate, and it would make the Jury assess the damages high.

A good many suits were dropping out of the list, which happened to be
exceptionally thin that summer, so that his case would be reached before
August. As the day grew nearer, Winifred was his only comfort. She
showed the fellow-feeling of one who had been through the mill, and was
the 'femme-sole' in whom he confided, well knowing that she would not
let Dartie into her confidence. That ruffian would be only too rejoiced!
At the end of July, on the afternoon before the case, he went in to
see her. They had not yet been able to leave town, because Dartie had
already spent their summer holiday, and Winifred dared not go to her
father for more money while he was waiting not to be told anything about
this affair of Soames.

Soames found her with a letter in her hand.

"That from Val," he asked gloomily. "What does he say?"

"He says he's married," said Winifred.

"Whom to, for Goodness' sake?"

Winifred looked up at him.

"To Holly Forsyte, Jolyon's daughter."

"What?"

"He got leave and did it. I didn't even know he knew her. Awkward, isn't
it?"

Soames uttered a short laugh at that characteristic minimisation.

"Awkward! Well, I don't suppose they'll hear about this till they come
back. They'd better stay out there. That fellow will give her money."

"But I want Val back," said Winifred almost piteously; "I miss him, he
helps me to get on."

"I know," murmured Soames. "How's Dartie behaving now?"

"It might be worse; but it's always money. Would you like me to come
down to the Court to-morrow, Soames?"

Soames stretched out his hand for hers. The gesture so betrayed the
loneliness in him that she pressed it between her two.

"Never mind, old boy. You'll feel ever so much better when it's all
over."

"I don't know what I've done," said Soames huskily; "I never have. It's
all upside down. I was fond of her; I've always been."

Winifred saw a drop of blood ooze out of his lip, and the sight stirred
her profoundly.

"Of course," she said, "it's been too bad of her all along! But what
shall I do about this marriage of Val's, Soames? I don't know how
to write to him, with this coming on. You've seen that child. Is she
pretty?"

"Yes, she's pretty," said Soames. "Dark--lady-like enough."

'That doesn't sound so bad,' thought Winifred. 'Jolyon had style.'

"It is a coil," she said. "What will father say?

"Mustn't be told," said Soames. "The war'll soon be over now, you'd
better let Val take to farming out there."

It was tantamount to saying that his nephew was lost.

"I haven't told Monty," Winifred murmured desolately.

The case was reached before noon next day, and was over in little
more than half an hour. Soames--pale, spruce, sad-eyed in the
witness-box--had suffered so much beforehand that he took it all like
one dead. The moment the decree nisi was pronounced he left the Courts
of Justice.

Four hours until he became public property! 'Solicitor's divorce suit!'
A surly, dogged anger replaced that dead feeling within him. 'Damn
them all!' he thought; 'I won't run away. I'll act as if nothing had
happened.' And in the sweltering heat of Fleet Street and Ludgate Hill
he walked all the way to his City Club, lunched, and went back to his
office. He worked there stolidly throughout the afternoon.

On his way out he saw that his clerks knew, and answered their
involuntary glances with a look so sardonic that they were immediately
withdrawn. In front of St. Paul's, he stopped to buy the most
gentlemanly of the evening papers. Yes! there he was! 'Well-known
solicitor's divorce. Cousin co-respondent. Damages given to the
blind'--so, they had got that in! At every other face, he thought: 'I
wonder if you know!' And suddenly he felt queer, as if something were
racing round in his head.

What was this? He was letting it get hold of him! He mustn't! He would
be ill. He mustn't think! He would get down to the river and row about,
and fish. 'I'm not going to be laid up,' he thought.

It flashed across him that he had something of importance to do before
he went out of town. Madame Lamotte! He must explain the Law. Another
six months before he was really free! Only he did not want to see
Annette! And he passed his hand over the top of his head--it was very
hot.

He branched off through Covent Garden. On this sultry day of late July
the garbage-tainted air of the old market offended him, and Soho seemed
more than ever the disenchanted home of rapscallionism. Alone, the
Restaurant Bretagne, neat, daintily painted, with its blue tubs and the
dwarf trees therein, retained an aloof and Frenchified self-respect. It
was the slack hour, and pale trim waitresses were preparing the little
tables for dinner. Soames went through into the private part. To his
discomfiture Annette answered his knock. She, too, looked pale and
dragged down by the heat.

"You are quite a stranger," she said languidly.

Soames smiled.

"I haven't wished to be; I've been busy."

"Where's your mother, Annette? I've got some news for her."

"Mother is not in."

It seemed to Soames that she looked at him in a queer way. What did she
know? How much had her mother told her? The worry of trying to make that
out gave him an alarming feeling in the head. He gripped the edge of
the table, and dizzily saw Annette come forward, her eyes clear with
surprise. He shut his own and said:

"It's all right. I've had a touch of the sun, I think." The sun! What
he had was a touch of 'darkness! Annette's voice, French and composed,
said:

"Sit down, it will pass, then." Her hand pressed his shoulder, and
Soames sank into a chair. When the dark feeling dispersed, and he opened
his eyes, she was looking down at him. What an inscrutable and odd
expression for a girl of twenty!

"Do you feel better?"

"It's nothing," said Soames. Instinct told him that to be feeble
before her was not helping him--age was enough handicap without that.
Will-power was his fortune with Annette, he had lost ground these latter
months from indecision--he could not afford to lose any more. He got up,
and said:

"I'll write to your mother. I'm going down to my river house for a long
holiday. I want you both to come there presently and stay. It's just at
its best. You will, won't you?"

"It will be veree nice." A pretty little roll of that 'r' but no
enthusiasm. And rather sadly he added:

"You're feeling the heat; too, aren't you, Annette? It'll do you good to
be on the river. Good-night." Annette swayed forward. There was a sort
of compunction in the movement.

"Are you fit to go? Shall I give you some coffee?"

"No," said Soames firmly. "Give me your hand."

She held out her hand, and Soames raised it to his lips. When he looked
up, her face wore again that strange expression. 'I can't tell,' he
thought, as he went out; 'but I mustn't think--I mustn't worry:

But worry he did, walking toward Pall Mall. English, not of her
religion, middle-aged, scarred as it were by domestic tragedy, what had
he to give her? Only wealth, social position, leisure, admiration! It
was much, but was it enough for a beautiful girl of twenty? He felt so
ignorant about Annette. He had, too, a curious fear of the French nature
of her mother and herself. They knew so well what they wanted. They were
almost Forsytes. They would never grasp a shadow and miss a substance.

The tremendous effort it was to write a simple note to Madame Lamotte
when he reached his Club warned him still further that he was at the end
of his tether.


"MY DEAR MADAME (he said),

"You will see by the enclosed newspaper cutting that I obtained my
decree of divorce to-day. By the English Law I shall not, however, be
free to marry again till the decree is confirmed six months hence. In
the meanwhile I have the honor to ask to be considered a formal suitor
for the hand of your daughter. I shall write again in a few days and beg
you both to come and stay at my river house.

"I am, dear Madame,

"Sincerely yours,

"SOAMES FORSYTE."


Having sealed and posted this letter, he went into the dining-room.
Three mouthfuls of soup convinced him that he could not eat; and,
causing a cab to be summoned, he drove to Paddington Station and took
the first train to Reading. He reached his house just as the sun went
down, and wandered out on to the lawn. The air was drenched with the
scent of pinks and picotees in his flower-borders. A stealing coolness
came off the river.

Rest-peace! Let a poor fellow rest! Let not worry and shame and anger
chase like evil night-birds in his head! Like those doves perched
half-sleeping on their dovecot, like the furry creatures in the woods on
the far side, and the simple folk in their cottages, like the trees
and the river itself, whitening fast in twilight, like the darkening
cornflower-blue sky where stars were coming up--let him cease from
himself, and rest!




CHAPTER X--PASSING OF AN AGE

The marriage of Soames with Annette took place in Paris on the last day
of January, 1901, with such privacy that not even Emily was told until
it was accomplished.

The day after the wedding he brought her to one of those quiet hotels
in London where greater expense can be incurred for less result than
anywhere else under heaven. Her beauty in the best Parisian frocks was
giving him more satisfaction than if he had collected a perfect bit of
china, or a jewel of a picture; he looked forward to the moment when he
would exhibit her in Park Lane, in Green Street, and at Timothy's.

If some one had asked him in those days, "In confidence--are you in love
with this girl?" he would have replied: "In love? What is love? If you
mean do I feel to her as I did towards Irene in those old days when I
first met her and she would not have me; when I sighed and starved after
her and couldn't rest a minute until she yielded--no! If you mean do I
admire her youth and prettiness, do my senses ache a little when I see
her moving about--yes! Do I think she will keep me straight, make me a
creditable wife and a good mother for my children?--again, yes!"

"What more do I need? and what more do three-quarters of the women who
are married get from the men who marry them?" And if the enquirer had
pursued his query, "And do you think it was fair to have tempted this
girl to give herself to you for life unless you have really touched her
heart?" he would have answered: "The French see these things differently
from us. They look at marriage from the point of view of establishments
and children; and, from my own experience, I am not at all sure that
theirs is not the sensible view. I shall not expect this time more than
I can get, or she can give. Years hence I shouldn't be surprised if I
have trouble with her; but I shall be getting old, I shall have children
by then. I shall shut my eyes. I have had my great passion; hers is
perhaps to come--I don't suppose it will be for me. I offer her a great
deal, and I don't expect much in return, except children, or at least a
son. But one thing I am sure of--she has very good sense!"

And if, insatiate, the enquirer had gone on, "You do not look, then, for
spiritual union in this marriage?" Soames would have lifted his sideway
smile, and rejoined: "That's as it may be. If I get satisfaction for my
senses, perpetuation of myself; good taste and good humour in the house;
it is all I can expect at my age. I am not likely to be going out of my
way towards any far-fetched sentimentalism." Whereon, the enquirer must
in good taste have ceased enquiry.

The Queen was dead, and the air of the greatest city upon earth grey
with unshed tears. Fur-coated and top-hatted, with Annette beside him
in dark furs, Soames crossed Park Lane on the morning of the funeral
procession, to the rails in Hyde Park. Little moved though he ever was
by public matters, this event, supremely symbolical, this summing-up of
a long rich period, impressed his fancy. In '37, when she came to the
throne, 'Superior Dosset' was still building houses to make London
hideous; and James, a stripling of twenty-six, just laying the
foundations of his practice in the Law. Coaches still ran; men wore
stocks, shaved their upper lips, ate oysters out of barrels; 'tigers'
swung behind cabriolets; women said, 'La!' and owned no property; there
were manners in the land, and pigsties for the poor; unhappy devils
were hanged for little crimes, and Dickens had but just begun to write.
Well-nigh two generations had slipped by--of steamboats, railways,
telegraphs, bicycles, electric light, telephones, and now these
motorcars--of such accumulated wealth, that eight per cent. had become
three, and Forsytes were numbered by the thousand! Morals had changed,
manners had changed, men had become monkeys twice-removed, God had
become Mammon--Mammon so respectable as to deceive himself: Sixty-four
years that favoured property, and had made the upper middle class;
buttressed, chiselled, polished it, till it was almost indistinguishable
in manners, morals, speech, appearance, habit, and soul from the
nobility. An epoch which had gilded individual liberty so that if a man
had money, he was free in law and fact, and if he had not money he was
free in law and not in fact. An era which had canonised hypocrisy, so
that to seem to be respectable was to be. A great Age, whose transmuting
influence nothing had escaped save the nature of man and the nature of
the Universe.

And to witness the passing of this Age, London--its pet and fancy--was
pouring forth her citizens through every gate into Hyde Park, hub of
Victorianism, happy hunting-ground of Forsytes. Under the grey heavens,
whose drizzle just kept off, the dark concourse gathered to see the
show. The 'good old' Queen, full of years and virtue, had emerged
from her seclusion for the last time to make a London holiday. From
Houndsditch, Acton, Ealing, Hampstead, Islington, and Bethnal Green;
from Hackney, Hornsey, Leytonstone, Battersea, and Fulham; and from
those green pastures where Forsytes flourish--Mayfair and Kensington,
St. James' and Belgravia, Bayswater and Chelsea and the Regent's Park,
the people swarmed down on to the roads where death would presently pass
with dusky pomp and pageantry. Never again would a Queen reign so long,
or people have a chance to see so much history buried for their money.
A pity the war dragged on, and that the Wreath of Victory could not
be laid upon her coffin! All else would be there to follow and
commemorate--soldiers, sailors, foreign princes, half-masted bunting,
tolling bells, and above all the surging, great, dark-coated crowd, with
perhaps a simple sadness here and there deep in hearts beneath black
clothes put on by regulation. After all, more than a Queen was going to
her rest, a woman who had braved sorrow, lived well and wisely according
to her lights.

Out in the crowd against the railings, with his arm hooked in Annette's,
Soames waited. Yes! the Age was passing! What with this Trade Unionism,
and Labour fellows in the House of Commons, with continental fiction,
and something in the general feel of everything, not to be expressed
in words, things were very different; he recalled the crowd on Mafeking
night, and George Forsyte saying: "They're all socialists, they want our
goods." Like James, Soames didn't know, he couldn't tell--with Edward on
the throne! Things would never be as safe again as under good old Viccy!
Convulsively he pressed his young wife's arm. There, at any rate, was
something substantially his own, domestically certain again at last;
something which made property worth while--a real thing once more.
Pressed close against her and trying to ward others off, Soames was
content. The crowd swayed round them, ate sandwiches and dropped crumbs;
boys who had climbed the plane-trees chattered above like monkeys, threw
twigs and orange-peel. It was past time; they should be coming soon!
And, suddenly, a little behind them to the left, he saw a tallish man
with a soft hat and short grizzling beard, and a tallish woman in a
little round fur cap and veil. Jolyon and Irene talking, smiling at each
other, close together like Annette and himself! They had not seen him;
and stealthily, with a very queer feeling in his heart, Soames watched
those two. They looked happy! What had they come here for--inherently
illicit creatures, rebels from the Victorian ideal? What business had
they in this crowd? Each of them twice exiled by morality--making a
boast, as it were, of love and laxity! He watched them fascinated;
admitting grudgingly even with his arm thrust through Annette's
that--that she--Irene--No! he would not admit it; and he turned his eyes
away. He would not see them, and let the old bitterness, the old longing
rise up within him! And then Annette turned to him and said: "Those two
people, Soames; they know you, I am sure. Who are they?"

Soames nosed sideways.

"What people?"

"There, you see them; just turning away. They know you."

"No," Soames answered; "a mistake, my dear."

"A lovely face! And how she walk! Elle est tres distinguee!"

Soames looked then. Into his life, out of his life she had walked like
that swaying and erect, remote, unseizable; ever eluding the contact of
his soul! He turned abruptly from that receding vision of the past.

"You'd better attend," he said, "they're coming now!"

But while he stood, grasping her arm, seemingly intent on the head
of the procession, he was quivering with the sense of always missing
something, with instinctive regret that he had not got them both.

Slow came the music and the march, till, in silence, the long line wound
in through the Park gate. He heard Annette whisper, "How sad it is and
beautiful!" felt the clutch of her hand as she stood up on tiptoe; and
the crowd's emotion gripped him. There it was--the bier of the Queen,
coffin of the Age slow passing! And as it went by there came a murmuring
groan from all the long line of those who watched, a sound such as
Soames had never heard, so unconscious, primitive, deep and wild, that
neither he nor any knew whether they had joined in uttering it. Strange
sound, indeed! Tribute of an Age to its own death.... Ah! Ah!... The
hold on life had slipped. That which had seemed eternal was gone! The
Queen--God bless her!

It moved on with the bier, that travelling groan, as a fire moves on
over grass in a thin line; it kept step, and marched alongside down the
dense crowds mile after mile. It was a human sound, and yet inhuman,
pushed out by animal subconsciousness, by intimate knowledge of
universal death and change. None of us--none of us can hold on for ever!

It left silence for a little--a very little time, till tongues began,
eager to retrieve interest in the show. Soames lingered just long
enough to gratify Annette, then took her out of the Park to lunch at his
father's in Park Lane....

James had spent the morning gazing out of his bedroom window. The last
show he would see, last of so many! So she was gone! Well, she was
getting an old woman. Swithin and he had seen her crowned--slim slip of
a girl, not so old as Imogen! She had got very stout of late. Jolyon and
he had seen her married to that German chap, her husband--he had turned
out all right before he died, and left her with that son of his. And he
remembered the many evenings he and his brothers and their cronies had
wagged their heads over their wine and walnuts and that fellow in his
salad days. And now he had come to the throne. They said he had steadied
down--he didn't know--couldn't tell! He'd make the money fly still, he
shouldn't wonder. What a lot of people out there! It didn't seem so very
long since he and Swithin stood in the crowd outside Westminster
Abbey when she was crowned, and Swithin had taken him to Cremorne
afterwards--racketty chap, Swithin; no, it didn't seem much longer ago
than Jubilee Year, when he had joined with Roger in renting a balcony in
Piccadilly.

Jolyon, Swithin, Roger all gone, and he would be ninety in August! And
there was Soames married again to a French girl. The French were a queer
lot, but they made good mothers, he had heard. Things changed! They said
this German Emperor was here for the funeral, his telegram to old Kruger
had been in shocking taste. He should not be surprised if that chap made
trouble some day. Change! H'm! Well, they must look after themselves
when he was gone: he didn't know where he'd be! And now Emily had asked
Dartie to lunch, with Winifred and Imogen, to meet Soames' wife--she
was always doing something. And there was Irene living with that fellow
Jolyon, they said. He'd marry her now, he supposed.

'My brother Jolyon,' he thought, 'what would he have said to it all?'
And somehow the utter impossibility of knowing what his elder brother,
once so looked up to, would have said, so worried James that he got up
from his chair by the window, and began slowly, feebly to pace the room.

'She was a pretty thing, too,' he thought; 'I was fond of her. Perhaps
Soames didn't suit her--I don't know--I can't tell. We never had any
trouble with our wives.' Women had changed everything had changed! And
now the Queen was dead--well, there it was! A movement in the crowd
brought him to a standstill at the window, his nose touching the pane
and whitening from the chill of it. They had got her as far as Hyde Park
Corner--they were passing now! Why didn't Emily come up here where
she could see, instead of fussing about lunch. He missed her at that
moment--missed her! Through the bare branches of the plane-trees
he could just see the procession, could see the hats coming off the
people's heads--a lot of them would catch colds, he shouldn't wonder! A
voice behind him said:

"You've got a capital view here, James!"

"There you are!" muttered James; "why didn't you come before? You might
have missed it!"

And he was silent, staring with all his might.

"What's the noise?" he asked suddenly.

"There's no noise," returned Emily; "what are you thinking of?--they
wouldn't cheer."

"I can hear it."

"Nonsense, James!"

No sound came through those double panes; what James heard was the
groaning in his own heart at sight of his Age passing.

"Don't you ever tell me where I'm buried," he said suddenly. "I shan't
want to know." And he turned from the window. There she went, the old
Queen; she'd had a lot of anxiety--she'd be glad to be out of it, he
should think!

Emily took up the hair-brushes.

"There'll be just time to brush your head," she said, "before they come.
You must look your best, James."

"Ah!" muttered James; "they say she's pretty."

The meeting with his new daughter-in-law took place in the dining-room.
James was seated by the fire when she was brought in. He placed, his
hands on the arms of the chair and slowly raised himself. Stooping and
immaculate in his frock-coat, thin as a line in Euclid, he received
Annette's hand in his; and the anxious eyes of his furrowed face, which
had lost its colour now, doubted above her. A little warmth came into
them and into his cheeks, refracted from her bloom.

"How are you?" he said. "You've been to see the Queen, I suppose? Did
you have a good crossing?"

In this way he greeted her from whom he hoped for a grandson of his
name.

Gazing at him, so old, thin, white, and spotless, Annette murmured
something in French which James did not understand.

"Yes, yes," he said, "you want your lunch, I expect. Soames, ring the
bell; we won't wait for that chap Dartie." But just then they arrived.
Dartie had refused to go out of his way to see 'the old girl.' With an
early cocktail beside him, he had taken a 'squint' from the smoking-room
of the Iseeum, so that Winifred and Imogen had been obliged to come back
from the Park to fetch him thence. His brown eyes rested on Annette with
a stare of almost startled satisfaction. The second beauty that fellow
Soames had picked up! What women could see in him! Well, she would play
him the same trick as the other, no doubt; but in the meantime he was a
lucky devil! And he brushed up his moustache, having in nine months
of Green Street domesticity regained almost all his flesh and his
assurance. Despite the comfortable efforts of Emily, Winifred's
composure, Imogen's enquiring friendliness, Dartie's showing-off, and
James' solicitude about her food, it was not, Soames felt, a successful
lunch for his bride. He took her away very soon.

"That Monsieur Dartie," said Annette in the cab, "je n'aime pas ce
type-la!"

"No, by George!" said Soames.

"Your sister is veree amiable, and the girl is pretty. Your father is
veree old. I think your mother has trouble with him; I should not like
to be her."

Soames nodded at the shrewdness, the clear hard judgment in his young
wife; but it disquieted him a little. The thought may have just flashed
through him, too: 'When I'm eighty she'll be fifty-five, having trouble
with me!'

"There's just one other house of my relations I must take you to," he
said; "you'll find it funny, but we must get it over; and then we'll
dine and go to the theatre."

In this way he prepared her for Timothy's. But Timothy's was different.
They were delighted to see dear Soames after this long long time; and so
this was Annette!

"You are so pretty, my dear; almost too young and pretty for dear
Soames, aren't you? But he's very attentive and careful--such a good
hush...." Aunt Juley checked herself, and placed her lips just under
each of Annette's eyes--she afterwards described them to Francie, who
dropped in, as: "Cornflower-blue, so pretty, I quite wanted to kiss
them. I must say dear Soames is a perfect connoisseur. In her French
way, and not so very French either, I think she's as pretty--though not
so distinguished, not so alluring--as Irene. Because she was alluring,
wasn't she? with that white skin and those dark eyes, and that hair,
couleur de--what was it? I always forget."

"Feuille morte," Francie prompted.

"Of course, dead leaves--so strange. I remember when I was a girl,
before we came to London, we had a foxhound puppy--to 'walk' it was
called then; it had a tan top to its head and a white chest, and
beautiful dark brown eyes, and it was a lady."

"Yes, auntie," said Francie, "but I don't see the connection."

"Oh!" replied Aunt Juley, rather flustered, "it was so alluring, and
her eyes and hair, you know...." She was silent, as if surprised in some
indelicacy. "Feuille morte," she added suddenly; "Hester--do remember
that!"....

Considerable debate took place between the two sisters whether Timothy
should or should not be summoned to see Annette.

"Oh, don't bother!" said Soames.

"But it's no trouble, only of course Annette's being French might upset
him a little. He was so scared about Fashoda. I think perhaps we had
better not run the risk, Hester. It's nice to have her all to ourselves,
isn't it? And how are you, Soames? Have you quite got over your...."

Hester interposed hurriedly:

"What do you think of London, Annette?"

Soames, disquieted, awaited the reply. It came, sensible, composed: "Oh!
I know London. I have visited before."

He had never ventured to speak to her on the subject of the restaurant.
The French had different notions about gentility, and to shrink from
connection with it might seem to her ridiculous; he had waited to be
married before mentioning it; and now he wished he hadn't.

"And what part do you know best?" said Aunt Juley.

"Soho," said Annette simply.

Soames snapped his jaw.

"Soho?" repeated Aunt Juley; "Soho?"

'That'll go round the family,' thought Soames.

"It's very French, and interesting," he said.

"Yes," murmured Aunt Juley, "your Uncle Roger had some houses there
once; he was always having to turn the tenants out, I remember."

Soames changed the subject to Mapledurham.

"Of course," said Aunt Juley, "you will be going down there soon to
settle in. We are all so looking forward to the time when Annette has a
dear little...."

"Juley!" cried Aunt Hester desperately, "ring tea!"

Soames dared not wait for tea, and took Annette away.

"I shouldn't mention Soho if I were you," he said in the cab. "It's
rather a shady part of London; and you're altogether above that
restaurant business now; I mean," he added, "I want you to know nice
people, and the English are fearful snobs."

Annette's clear eyes opened; a little smile came on her lips.

"Yes?" she said.

'H'm!' thought Soames, 'that's meant for me!' and he looked at her hard.
'She's got good business instincts,' he thought. 'I must make her grasp
it once for all!'

"Look here, Annette! it's very simple, only it wants understanding. Our
professional and leisured classes still think themselves a cut above our
business classes, except of course the very rich. It may be stupid, but
there it is, you see. It isn't advisable in England to let people know
that you ran a restaurant or kept a shop or were in any kind of trade.
It may have been extremely creditable, but it puts a sort of label on
you; you don't have such a good time, or meet such nice people--that's
all."

"I see," said Annette; "it is the same in France."

"Oh!" murmured Soames, at once relieved and taken aback. "Of course,
class is everything, really."

"Yes," said Annette; "comme vous etes sage."

'That's all right,' thought Soames, watching her lips, 'only she's
pretty cynical.' His knowledge of French was not yet such as to make
him grieve that she had not said 'tu.' He slipped his arm round her, and
murmured with an effort:

"Et vous etes ma belle femme."

Annette went off into a little fit of laughter.

"Oh, non!" she said. "Oh, non! ne parlez pas Francais, Soames. What is
that old lady, your aunt, looking forward to?"

Soames bit his lip. "God knows!" he said; "she's always saying
something;" but he knew better than God.




CHAPTER XI--SUSPENDED ANIMATION

The war dragged on. Nicholas had been heard to say that it would cost
three hundred millions if it cost a penny before they'd done with it!
The income-tax was seriously threatened. Still, there would be South
Africa for their money, once for all. And though the possessive instinct
felt badly shaken at three o'clock in the morning, it recovered by
breakfast-time with the recollection that one gets nothing in this
world without paying for it. So, on the whole, people went about their
business much as if there were no war, no concentration camps, no
slippery de Wet, no feeling on the Continent, no anything unpleasant.
Indeed, the attitude of the nation was typified by Timothy's map, whose
animation was suspended--for Timothy no longer moved the flags, and
they could not move themselves, not even backwards and forwards as they
should have done.

Suspended animation went further; it invaded Forsyte 'Change, and
produced a general uncertainty as to what was going to happen next. The
announcement in the marriage column of The Times, 'Jolyon Forsyte to
Irene, only daughter of the late Professor Heron,' had occasioned doubt
whether Irene had been justly described. And yet, on the whole, relief
was felt that she had not been entered as 'Irene, late the wife,' or
'the divorced wife,' 'of Soames Forsyte.' Altogether, there had been a
kind of sublimity from the first about the way the family had taken
that 'affair.' As James had phrased it, 'There it was!' No use to fuss!
Nothing to be had out of admitting that it had been a 'nasty jar'--in
the phraseology of the day.

But what would happen now that both Soames and Jolyon were married
again? That was very intriguing. George was known to have laid Eustace
six to four on a little Jolyon before a little Soames. George was so
droll! It was rumoured, too, that he and Dartie had a bet as to whether
James would attain the age of ninety, though which of them had backed
James no one knew.

Early in May, Winifred came round to say that Val had been wounded
in the leg by a spent bullet, and was to be discharged. His wife was
nursing him. He would have a little limp--nothing to speak of. He wanted
his grandfather to buy him a farm out there where he could breed horses.
Her father was giving Holly eight hundred a year, so they could be quite
comfortable, because his grandfather would give Val five, he had said;
but as to the farm, he didn't know--couldn't tell: he didn't want Val to
go throwing away his money.

"But you know," said Winifred, "he must do something."

Aunt Hester thought that perhaps his dear grandfather was wise, because
if he didn't buy a farm it couldn't turn out badly.

"But Val loves horses," said Winifred. "It'd be such an occupation for
him."

Aunt Juley thought that horses were very uncertain, had not Montague
found them so?

"Val's different," said Winifred; "he takes after me."

Aunt Juley was sure that dear Val was very clever. "I always remember,"
she added, "how he gave his bad penny to a beggar. His dear grandfather
was so pleased. He thought it showed such presence of mind. I remember
his saying that he ought to go into the Navy."

Aunt Hester chimed in: Did not Winifred think that it was much better
for the young people to be secure and not run any risk at their age?

"Well," said Winifred, "if they were in London, perhaps; in London it's
amusing to do nothing. But out there, of course, he'll simply get bored
to death."

Aunt Hester thought that it would be nice for him to work, if he were
quite sure not to lose by it. It was not as if they had no money.
Timothy, of course, had done so well by retiring. Aunt Juley wanted to
know what Montague had said.

Winifred did not tell her, for Montague had merely remarked: "Wait till
the old man dies."

At this moment Francie was announced. Her eyes were brimming with a
smile.

"Well," she said, "what do you think of it?"

"Of what, dear?"

"In The Times this morning."

"We haven't seen it, we always read it after dinner; Timothy has it till
then."

Francie rolled her eyes.

"Do you think you ought to tell us?" said Aunt Juley. "What was it?"

"Irene's had a son at Robin Hill."

Aunt Juley drew in her breath. "But," she said, "they were only married
in March!"

"Yes, Auntie; isn't it interesting?"

"Well," said Winifred, "I'm glad. I was sorry for Jolyon losing his boy.
It might have been Val."

Aunt Juley seemed to go into a sort of dream. "I wonder," she murmured,
"what dear Soames will think? He has so wanted to have a son himself. A
little bird has always told me that."

"Well," said Winifred, "he's going to--bar accidents."

Gladness trickled out of Aunt Juley's eyes.

"How delightful!" she said. "When?"

"November."

Such a lucky month! But she did wish it could be sooner. It was a long
time for James to wait, at his age!

To wait! They dreaded it for James, but they were used to it themselves.
Indeed, it was their great distraction. To wait! For The Times to read;
for one or other of their nieces or nephews to come in and cheer them
up; for news of Nicholas' health; for that decision of Christopher's
about going on the stage; for information concerning the mine of Mrs.
MacAnder's nephew; for the doctor to come about Hester's inclination
to wake up early in the morning; for books from the library which were
always out; for Timothy to have a cold; for a nice quiet warm day, not
too hot, when they could take a turn in Kensington Gardens. To wait, one
on each side of the hearth in the drawing-room, for the clock
between them to strike; their thin, veined, knuckled hands plying
knitting-needles and crochet-hooks, their hair ordered to stop--like
Canute's waves--from any further advance in colour. To wait in their
black silks or satins for the Court to say that Hester might wear her
dark green, and Juley her darker maroon. To wait, slowly turning over
and over, in their old minds the little joys and sorrows, events and
expectancies, of their little family world, as cows chew patient cuds
in a familiar field. And this new event was so well worth waiting
for. Soames had always been their pet, with his tendency to give them
pictures, and his almost weekly visits which they missed so much, and
his need for their sympathy evoked by the wreck of his first marriage.
This new event--the birth of an heir to Soames--was so important for
him, and for his dear father, too, that James might not have to die
without some certainty about things. James did so dislike uncertainty;
and with Montague, of course, he could not feel really satisfied to
leave no grand-children but the young Darties. After all, one's own name
did count! And as James' ninetieth birthday neared they wondered what
precautions he was taking. He would be the first of the Forsytes to
reach that age, and set, as it were, a new standard in holding on to
life. That was so important, they felt, at their ages eighty-seven and
eighty-five; though they did not want to think of themselves when they
had Timothy, who was not yet eighty-two, to think of. There was, of
course, a better world. 'In my Father's house are many mansions' was
one of Aunt Juley's favourite sayings--it always comforted her, with its
suggestion of house property, which had made the fortune of dear Roger.
The Bible was, indeed, a great resource, and on very fine Sundays
there was church in the morning; and sometimes Juley would steal into
Timothy's study when she was sure he was out, and just put an open New
Testament casually among the books on his little table--he was a great
reader, of course, having been a publisher. But she had noticed that
Timothy was always cross at dinner afterwards. And Smither had told
her more than once that she had picked books off the floor in doing the
room. Still, with all that, they did feel that heaven could not be quite
so cosy as the rooms in which they and Timothy had been waiting so long.
Aunt Hester, especially, could not bear the thought of the exertion.
Any change, or rather the thought of a change--for there never was
any--always upset her very much. Aunt Juley, who had more spirit,
sometimes thought it would be quite exciting; she had so enjoyed that
visit to Brighton the year dear Susan died. But then Brighton one knew
was nice, and it was so difficult to tell what heaven would be like, so
on the whole she was more than content to wait.

On the morning of James' birthday, August the 5th, they felt
extraordinary animation, and little notes passed between them by the
hand of Smither while they were having breakfast in their beds. Smither
must go round and take their love and little presents and find out
how Mr. James was, and whether he had passed a good night with all
the excitement. And on the way back would Smither call in at Green
Street--it was a little out of her way, but she could take the bus up
Bond Street afterwards; it would be a nice little change for her--and
ask dear Mrs. Dartie to be sure and look in before she went out of town.

All this Smither did--an undeniable servant trained many years ago under
Aunt Ann to a perfection not now procurable. Mr. James, so Mrs. James
said, had passed an excellent night, he sent his love; Mrs. James had
said he was very funny and had complained that he didn't know what all
the fuss was about. Oh! and Mrs. Dartie sent her love, and she would
come to tea.

Aunts Juley and Hester, rather hurt that their presents had not received
special mention--they forgot every year that James could not bear to
receive presents, 'throwing away their money on him,' as he always
called it--were 'delighted'; it showed that James was in good spirits,
and that was so important for him. And they began to wait for Winifred.
She came at four, bringing Imogen, and Maud, just back from school, and
'getting such a pretty girl, too,' so that it was extremely difficult
to ask for news about Annette. Aunt Juley, however, summoned courage to
enquire whether Winifred had heard anything, and if Soames was anxious.

"Uncle Soames is always anxious, Auntie," interrupted Imogen; "he can't
be happy now he's got it."

The words struck familiarly on Aunt Juley's ears. Ah! yes; that funny
drawing of George's, which had not been shown them! But what did Imogen
mean? That her uncle always wanted more than he could have? It was not
at all nice to think like that.

Imogen's voice rose clear and clipped:

"Imagine! Annette's only two years older than me; it must be awful for
her, married to Uncle Soames."

Aunt Juley lifted her hands in horror.

"My dear," she said, "you don't know what you're talking about. Your
Uncle Soames is a match for anybody. He's a very clever man, and
good-looking and wealthy, and most considerate and careful, and not at
all old, considering everything."

Imogen, turning her luscious glance from one to the other of the 'old
dears,' only smiled.

"I hope," said Aunt Juley quite severely, "that you will marry as good a
man."

"I shan't marry a good man, Auntie," murmured Imogen; "they're dull."

"If you go on like this," replied Aunt Juley, still very much upset,
"you won't marry anybody. We'd better not pursue the subject;" and
turning to Winifred, she said: "How is Montague?"

That evening, while they were waiting for dinner, she murmured:

"I've told Smither to get up half a bottle of the sweet champagne,
Hester. I think we ought to drink dear James' health, and--and the
health of Soames' wife; only, let's keep that quite secret. I'll Just
say like this, 'And you know, Hester!' and then we'll drink. It might
upset Timothy."

"It's more likely to upset us," said Aunt Nester. "But we must, I
suppose; for such an occasion."

"Yes," said Aunt Juley rapturously, "it is an occasion! Only fancy if
he has a dear little boy, to carry the family on! I do feel it so
important, now that Irene has had a son. Winifred says George is calling
Jolyon 'The Three-Decker,' because of his three families, you know!
George is droll. And fancy! Irene is living after all in the house
Soames had built for them both. It does seem hard on dear Soames; and
he's always been so regular."

That night in bed, excited and a little flushed still by her glass of
wine and the secrecy of the second toast, she lay with her prayer-book
opened flat, and her eyes fixed on a ceiling yellowed by the light from
her reading-lamp. Young things! It was so nice for them all! And she
would be so happy if she could see dear Soames happy. But, of course, he
must be now, in spite of what Imogen had said. He would have all that he
wanted: property, and wife, and children! And he would live to a green
old age, like his dear father, and forget all about Irene and that
dreadful case. If only she herself could be here to buy his children
their first rocking-horse! Smither should choose it for her at the
stores, nice and dappled. Ah! how Roger used to rock her until she fell
off! Oh dear! that was a long time ago! It was! 'In my Father's house
are many mansions--'A little scrattling noise caught her ear--'but no
mice!' she thought mechanically. The noise increased. There! it was a
mouse! How naughty of Smither to say there wasn't! It would be eating
through the wainscot before they knew where they were, and they would
have to have the builders in. They were such destructive things! And
she lay, with her eyes just moving, following in her mind that little
scrattling sound, and waiting for sleep to release her from it.




CHAPTER XII--BIRTH OF A FORSYTE

Soames walked out of the garden door, crossed the lawn, stood on the
path above the river, turned round and walked back to the garden door,
without having realised that he had moved. The sound of wheels crunching
the drive convinced him that time had passed, and the doctor gone. What,
exactly, had he said?

"This is the position, Mr. Forsyte. I can make pretty certain of her
life if I operate, but the baby will be born dead. If I don't operate,
the baby will most probably be born alive, but it's a great risk for
the mother--a great risk. In either case I don't think she can ever have
another child. In her state she obviously can't decide for herself, and
we can't wait for her mother. It's for you to make the decision, while
I'm getting what's necessary. I shall be back within the hour."

The decision! What a decision! No time to get a specialist down! No time
for anything!

The sound of wheels died away, but Soames still stood intent; then,
suddenly covering his ears, he walked back to the river. To come before
its time like this, with no chance to foresee anything, not even to get
her mother here! It was for her mother to make that decision, and
she couldn't arrive from Paris till to-night! If only he could have
understood the doctor's jargon, the medical niceties, so as to be sure
he was weighing the chances properly; but they were Greek to him--like
a legal problem to a layman. And yet he must decide! He brought his hand
away from his brow wet, though the air was chilly. These sounds which
came from her room! To go back there would only make it more difficult.
He must be calm, clear. On the one hand life, nearly certain, of his
young wife, death quite certain, of his child; and--no more children
afterwards! On the other, death perhaps of his wife, nearly certain life
for the child; and--no more children afterwards! Which to choose?....
It had rained this last fortnight--the river was very full, and in
the water, collected round the little house-boat moored by his
landing-stage, were many leaves from the woods above, brought off by a
frost. Leaves fell, lives drifted down--Death! To decide about death!
And no one to give him a hand. Life lost was lost for good. Let nothing
go that you could keep; for, if it went, you couldn't get it back. It
left you bare, like those trees when they lost their leaves; barer and
barer until you, too, withered and came down. And, by a queer somersault
of thought, he seemed to see not Annette lying up there behind that
window-pane on which the sun was shining, but Irene lying in their
bedroom in Montpellier Square, as it might conceivably have been her
fate to lie, sixteen years ago. Would he have hesitated then? Not a
moment! Operate, operate! Make certain of her life! No decision--a mere
instinctive cry for help, in spite of his knowledge, even then, that she
did not love him! But this! Ah! there was nothing overmastering in his
feeling for Annette! Many times these last months, especially since she
had been growing frightened, he had wondered. She had a will of her
own, was selfish in her French way. And yet--so pretty! What would she
wish--to take the risk. 'I know she wants the child,' he thought. 'If
it's born dead, and no more chance afterwards--it'll upset her terribly.
No more chance! All for nothing! Married life with her for years and
years without a child. Nothing to steady her! She's too young. Nothing
to look forward to, for her--for me! For me!' He struck his hands
against his chest! Why couldn't he think without bringing himself
in--get out of himself and see what he ought to do? The thought hurt
him, then lost edge, as if it had come in contact with a breastplate.
Out of oneself! Impossible! Out into soundless, scentless, touchless,
sightless space! The very idea was ghastly, futile! And touching there
the bedrock of reality, the bottom of his Forsyte spirit, Soames rested
for a moment. When one ceased, all ceased; it might go on, but there'd
be nothing in it!

He looked at his watch. In half an hour the doctor would be back. He
must decide! If against the operation and she died, how face her mother
and the doctor afterwards? How face his own conscience? It was his child
that she was having. If for the operation--then he condemned them both
to childlessness. And for what else had he married her but to have a
lawful heir? And his father--at death's door, waiting for the news!
'It's cruel!' he thought; 'I ought never to have such a thing to settle!
It's cruel!' He turned towards the house. Some deep, simple way of
deciding! He took out a coin, and put it back. If he spun it, he knew he
would not abide by what came up! He went into the dining-room, furthest
away from that room whence the sounds issued. The doctor had said there
was a chance. In here that chance seemed greater; the river did not
flow, nor the leaves fall. A fire was burning. Soames unlocked the
tantalus. He hardly ever touched spirits, but now--he poured himself
out some whisky and drank it neat, craving a faster flow of blood. 'That
fellow Jolyon,' he thought; 'he had children already. He has the woman I
really loved; and now a son by her! And I--I'm asked to destroy my only
child! Annette can't die; it's not possible. She's strong!'

He was still standing sullenly at the sideboard when he heard the
doctor's carriage, and went out to him. He had to wait for him to come
downstairs.

"Well, doctor?"

"The situation's the same. Have you decided?"

"Yes," said Soames; "don't operate!"

"Not? You understand--the risk's great?"

In Soames' set face nothing moved but the lips.

"You said there was a chance?"

"A chance, yes; not much of one."

"You say the baby must be born dead if you do?"

"Yes."

"Do you still think that in any case she can't have another?"

"One can't be absolutely sure, but it's most unlikely."

"She's strong," said Soames; "we'll take the risk."

The doctor looked at him very gravely. "It's on your shoulders," he
said; "with my own wife, I couldn't."

Soames' chin jerked up as if someone had hit him.

"Am I of any use up there?" he asked.

"No; keep away."

"I shall be in my picture-gallery, then; you know where."

The doctor nodded, and went upstairs.

Soames continued to stand, listening. 'By this time to-morrow,'
he thought, 'I may have her death on my hands.' No! it was
unfair--monstrous, to put it that way! Sullenness dropped on him again,
and he went up to the gallery. He stood at the window. The wind was in
the north; it was cold, clear; very blue sky, heavy ragged white clouds
chasing across; the river blue, too, through the screen of goldening
trees; the woods all rich with colour, glowing, burnished-an early
autumn. If it were his own life, would he be taking that risk? 'But
she'd take the risk of losing me,' he thought, 'sooner than lose her
child! She doesn't really love me!' What could one expect--a girl and
French? The one thing really vital to them both, vital to their marriage
and their futures, was a child! 'I've been through a lot for this,' he
thought, 'I'll hold on--hold on. There's a chance of keeping both--a
chance!' One kept till things were taken--one naturally kept! He began
walking round the gallery. He had made one purchase lately which he knew
was a fortune in itself, and he halted before it--a girl with dull gold
hair which looked like filaments of metal gazing at a little golden
monster she was holding in her hand. Even at this tortured moment
he could just feel the extraordinary nature of the bargain he had
made--admire the quality of the table, the floor, the chair, the girl's
figure, the absorbed expression on her face, the dull gold filaments of
her hair, the bright gold of the little monster. Collecting pictures;
growing richer, richer! What use, if...! He turned his back abruptly on
the picture, and went to the window. Some of his doves had flown up from
their perches round the dovecot, and were stretching their wings in the
wind. In the clear sharp sunlight their whiteness almost flashed. They
flew far, making a flung-up hieroglyphic against the sky. Annette fed
the doves; it was pretty to see her. They took it out of her hand; they
knew she was matter-of-fact. A choking sensation came into his throat.
She would not--could nod die! She was too--too sensible; and she was
strong, really strong, like her mother, in spite of her fair prettiness.

It was already growing dark when at last he opened the door, and stood
listening. Not a sound! A milky twilight crept about the stairway and
the landings below. He had turned back when a sound caught his ear.
Peering down, he saw a black shape moving, and his heart stood still.
What was it? Death? The shape of Death coming from her door? No! only a
maid without cap or apron. She came to the foot of his flight of stairs
and said breathlessly:

"The doctor wants to see you, sir."

He ran down. She stood flat against the wall to let him pass, and said:

"Oh, Sir! it's over."

"Over?" said Soames, with a sort of menace; "what d'you mean?"

"It's born, sir."

He dashed up the four steps in front of him, and came suddenly on the
doctor in the dim passage. The man was wiping his brow.

"Well?" he said; "quick!"

"Both living; it's all right, I think."

Soames stood quite still, covering his eyes.

"I congratulate you," he heard the doctor say; "it was touch and go."

Soames let fall the hand which was covering his face.

"Thanks," he said; "thanks very much. What is it?"

"Daughter--luckily; a son would have killed her--the head."

A daughter!

"The utmost care of both," he hearts the doctor say, "and we shall do.
When does the mother come?"

"To-night, between nine and ten, I hope."

"I'll stay till then. Do you want to see them?"

"Not now," said Soames; "before you go. I'll have dinner sent up to
you." And he went downstairs.

Relief unspeakable, and yet--a daughter! It seemed to him unfair.
To have taken that risk--to have been through this agony--and what
agony!--for a daughter! He stood before the blazing fire of wood logs in
the hall, touching it with his toe and trying to readjust himself. 'My
father!' he thought. A bitter disappointment, no disguising it! One
never got all one wanted in this life! And there was no other--at least,
if there was, it was no use!

While he was standing there, a telegram was brought him.

"Come up at once, your father sinking fast.--MOTHER."

He read it with a choking sensation. One would have thought he couldn't
feel anything after these last hours, but he felt this. Half-past seven,
a train from Reading at nine, and madame's train, if she had caught it,
came in at eight-forty--he would meet that, and go on. He ordered the
carriage, ate some dinner mechanically, and went upstairs. The doctor
came out to him.

"They're sleeping."

"I won't go in," said Soames with relief. "My father's dying; I have
to--go up. Is it all right?"

The doctor's face expressed a kind of doubting admiration. 'If they were
all as unemotional' he might have been saying.

"Yes, I think you may go with an easy mind. You'll be down soon?"

"To-morrow," said Soames. "Here's the address."

The doctor seemed to hover on the verge of sympathy.

"Good-night!" said Soames abruptly, and turned away. He put on his fur
coat. Death! It was a chilly business. He smoked a cigarette in the
carriage--one of his rare cigarettes. The night was windy and flew on
black wings; the carriage lights had to search out the way. His father!
That old, old man! A comfortless night--to die!

The London train came in just as he reached the station, and Madame
Lamotte, substantial, dark-clothed, very yellow in the lamplight, came
towards the exit with a dressing-bag.

"This all you have?" asked Soames.

"But yes; I had not the time. How is my little one?"

"Doing well--both. A girl!"

"A girl! What joy! I had a frightful crossing!"

Her black bulk, solid, unreduced by the frightful crossing, climbed into
the brougham.

"And you, mon cher?"

"My father's dying," said Soames between his teeth. "I'm going up. Give
my love to Annette."

"Tiens!" murmured Madame Lamotte; "quel malheur!"

Soames took his hat off, and moved towards his train. 'The French!' he
thought.




CHAPTER XIII--JAMES IS TOLD

A simple cold, caught in the room with double windows, where the air and
the people who saw him were filtered, as it were, the room he had not
left since the middle of September--and James was in deep waters. A
little cold, passing his little strength and flying quickly to his
lungs. "He mustn't catch cold," the doctor had declared, and he had gone
and caught it. When he first felt it in his throat he had said to his
nurse--for he had one now--"There, I knew how it would be, airing the
room like that!" For a whole day he was highly nervous about himself and
went in advance of all precautions and remedies; drawing every breath
with extreme care and having his temperature taken every hour. Emily was
not alarmed.

But next morning when she went in the nurse whispered: "He won't have
his temperature taken."

Emily crossed to the side of the bed where he was lying, and said
softly, "How do you feel, James?" holding the thermometer to his lips.
James looked up at her.

"What's the good of that?" he murmured huskily; "I don't want to know."

Then she was alarmed. He breathed with difficulty, he looked terribly
frail, white, with faint red discolorations. She had 'had trouble' with
him, Goodness knew; but he was James, had been James for nearly fifty
years; she couldn't remember or imagine life without James--James,
behind all his fussiness, his pessimism, his crusty shell, deeply
affectionate, really kind and generous to them all!

All that day and the next he hardly uttered a word, but there was in
his eyes a noticing of everything done for him, a look on his face which
told her he was fighting; and she did not lose hope. His very stillness,
the way he conserved every little scrap of energy, showed the tenacity
with which he was fighting. It touched her deeply; and though her face
was composed and comfortable in the sick-room, tears ran down her cheeks
when she was out of it.

About tea-time on the third day--she had just changed her dress,
keeping her appearance so as not to alarm him, because he noticed
everything--she saw a difference. 'It's no use; I'm tired,' was
written plainly across that white face, and when she went up to him, he
muttered: "Send for Soames."

"Yes, James," she said comfortably; "all right--at once." And she kissed
his forehead. A tear dropped there, and as she wiped it off she saw that
his eyes looked grateful. Much upset, and without hope now, she sent
Soames the telegram.

When he entered out of the black windy night, the big house was still as
a grave. Warmson's broad face looked almost narrow; he took the fur coat
with a sort of added care, saying:

"Will you have a glass of wine, sir?"

Soames shook his head, and his eyebrows made enquiry.

Warmson's lips twitched. "He's asking for you, sir;" and suddenly he
blew his nose. "It's a long time, sir," he said, "that I've been with
Mr. Forsyte--a long time."

Soames left him folding the coat, and began to mount the stairs. This
house, where he had been born and sheltered, had never seemed to him so
warm, and rich, and cosy, as during this last pilgrimage to his father's
room. It was not his taste; but in its own substantial, lincrusta way
it was the acme of comfort and security. And the night was so dark and
windy; the grave so cold and lonely!

He paused outside the door. No sound came from within. He turned the
handle softly and was in the room before he was perceived. The light was
shaded. His mother and Winifred were sitting on the far side of the bed;
the nurse was moving away from the near side where was an empty chair.
'For me!' thought Soames. As he moved from the door his mother and
sister rose, but he signed with his hand and they sat down again. He
went up to the chair and stood looking at his father. James' breathing
was as if strangled; his eyes were closed. And in Soames, looking on
his father so worn and white and wasted, listening to his strangled
breathing, there rose a passionate vehemence of anger against Nature,
cruel, inexorable Nature, kneeling on the chest of that wisp of a body,
slowly pressing out the breath, pressing out the life of the being who
was dearest to him in the world. His father, of all men, had lived a
careful life, moderate, abstemious, and this was his reward--to have
life slowly, painfully squeezed out of him! And, without knowing that he
spoke, he said: "It's cruel!"

He saw his mother cover her eyes and Winifred bow her face towards the
bed. Women! They put up with things so much better than men. He took a
step nearer to his father. For three days James had not been shaved,
and his lips and chin were covered with hair, hardly more snowy than his
forehead. It softened his face, gave it a queer look already not of this
world. His eyes opened. Soames went quite close and bent over. The lips
moved.

"Here I am, Father:"

"Um--what--what news? They never tell...." the voice died, and a flood
of emotion made Soames' face work so that he could not speak. Tell
him?--yes. But what? He made a great effort, got his lips together, and
said:

"Good news, dear, good--Annette, a son."

"Ah!" It was the queerest sound, ugly, relieved, pitiful,
triumphant--like the noise a baby makes getting what it wants. The
eyes closed, and that strangled sound of breathing began again. Soames
recoiled to the chair and stonily sat down. The lie he had told, based,
as it were, on some deep, temperamental instinct that after death James
would not know the truth, had taken away all power of feeling for the
moment. His arm brushed against something. It was his father's naked
foot. In the struggle to breathe he had pushed it out from under the
clothes. Soames took it in his hand, a cold foot, light and thin, white,
very cold. What use to put it back, to wrap up that which must be colder
soon! He warmed it mechanically with his hand, listening to his father's
laboured breathing; while the power of feeling rose again within him.
A little sob, quickly smothered, came from Winifred, but his mother sat
unmoving with her eyes fixed on James. Soames signed to the nurse.

"Where's the doctor?" he whispered.

"He's been sent for."

"Can't you do anything to ease his breathing?"

"Only an injection; and he can't stand it. The doctor said, while he was
fighting...."

"He's not fighting," whispered Soames, "he's being slowly smothered.
It's awful."

James stirred uneasily, as if he knew what they were saying. Soames rose
and bent over him. James feebly moved his two hands, and Soames took
them.

"He wants to be pulled up," whispered the nurse.

Soames pulled. He thought he pulled gently, but a look almost of anger
passed over James' face. The nurse plumped the pillows. Soames laid the
hands down, and bending over kissed his father's forehead. As he was
raising himself again, James' eyes bent on him a look which seemed to
come from the very depths of what was left within. 'I'm done, my boy,'
it seemed to say, 'take care of them, take care of yourself; take
care--I leave it all to you.'

"Yes, Yes," Soames whispered, "yes, yes."

Behind him the nurse did he knew, not what, for his father made a tiny
movement of repulsion as if resenting that interference; and almost
at once his breathing eased away, became quiet; he lay very still. The
strained expression on his face passed, a curious white tranquillity
took its place. His eyelids quivered, rested; the whole face rested; at
ease. Only by the faint puffing of his lips could they tell that he was
breathing. Soames sank back on his chair, and fell to cherishing the
foot again. He heard the nurse quietly crying over there by the fire;
curious that she, a stranger, should be the only one of them who cried!
He heard the quiet lick and flutter of the fire flames. One more old
Forsyte going to his long rest--wonderful, they were!--wonderful how he
had held on! His mother and Winifred were leaning forward, hanging
on the sight of James' lips. But Soames bent sideways over the feet,
warming them both; they gave him comfort, colder and colder though they
grew. Suddenly he started up; a sound, a dreadful sound such as he had
never heard, was coming from his father's lips, as if an outraged heart
had broken with a long moan. What a strong heart, to have uttered that
farewell! It ceased. Soames looked into the face. No motion; no breath!
Dead! He kissed the brow, turned round and went out of the room. He
ran upstairs to the bedroom, his old bedroom, still kept for him; flung
himself face down on the bed, and broke into sobs which he stilled with
the pillow....

A little later he went downstairs and passed into the room. James lay
alone, wonderfully calm, free from shadow and anxiety, with the gravity
on his ravaged face which underlies great age, the worn fine gravity of
old coins.

Soames looked steadily at that face, at the fire, at all the room with
windows thrown open to the London night.

"Good-bye!" he whispered, and went out.




CHAPTER XIV--HIS

He had much to see to, that night and all next day. A telegram at
breakfast reassured him about Annette, and he only caught the last train
back to Reading, with Emily's kiss on his forehead and in his ears her
words:

"I don't know what I should have done without you, my dear boy."

He reached his house at midnight. The weather had changed, was mild
again, as though, having finished its work and sent a Forsyte to
his last account, it could relax. A second telegram, received at
dinner-time, had confirmed the good news of Annette, and, instead of
going in, Soames passed down through the garden in the moonlight to his
houseboat. He could sleep there quite well. Bitterly tired, he lay down
on the sofa in his fur coat and fell asleep. He woke soon after dawn and
went on deck. He stood against the rail, looking west where the river
swept round in a wide curve under the woods. In Soames, appreciation of
natural beauty was curiously like that of his farmer ancestors, a sense
of grievance if it wasn't there, sharpened, no doubt, and civilised, by
his researches among landscape painting. But dawn has power to fertilise
the most matter-of-fact vision, and he was stirred. It was another world
from the river he knew, under that remote cool light; a world into which
man had not entered, an unreal world, like some strange shore sighted
by discovery. Its colour was not the colour of convention, was hardly
colour at all; its shapes were brooding yet distinct; its silence
stunning; it had no scent. Why it should move him he could not tell,
unless it were that he felt so alone in it, bare of all relationship and
all possessions. Into such a world his father might be voyaging, for all
resemblance it had to the world he had left. And Soames took refuge from
it in wondering what painter could have done it justice. The white-grey
water was like--like the belly of a fish! Was it possible that this
world on which he looked was all private property, except the water--and
even that was tapped! No tree, no shrub, not a blade of grass, not a
bird or beast, not even a fish that was not owned. And once on a time
all this was jungle and marsh and water, and weird creatures roamed and
sported without human cognizance to give them names; rotting luxuriance
had rioted where those tall, carefully planted woods came down to the
water, and marsh-misted reeds on that far side had covered all the
pasture. Well! they had got it under, kennelled it all up, labelled it,
and stowed it in lawyers' offices. And a good thing too! But once in
a way, as now, the ghost of the past came out to haunt and brood
and whisper to any human who chanced to be awake: 'Out of my unowned
loneliness you all came, into it some day you will all return.'

And Soames, who felt the chill and the eeriness of that world-new to
him and so very old: the world, unowned, visiting the scene of its
past--went down and made himself tea on a spirit-lamp. When he had drunk
it, he took out writing materials and wrote two paragraphs:

"On the 20th instant at his residence in Park Lane, James Forsyte,
in his ninety-first year. Funeral at noon on the 24th at Highgate. No
flowers by request."

"On the 20th instant at The Shelter; Mapledurham, Annette, wife of
Soames Forsyte, of a daughter." And underneath on the blottingpaper he
traced the word "son."

It was eight o'clock in an ordinary autumn world when he went across to
the house. Bushes across the river stood round and bright-coloured out
of a milky haze; the wood-smoke went up blue and straight; and his doves
cooed, preening their feathers in the sunlight.

He stole up to his dressing-room, bathed, shaved, put on fresh linen and
dark clothes.

Madame Lamotte was beginning her breakfast when he went down.

She looked at his clothes, said, "Don't tell me!" and pressed his hand.
"Annette is prettee well. But the doctor say she can never have no more
children. You knew that?" Soames nodded. "It's a pity. Mais la petite
est adorable. Du cafe?"

Soames got away from her as soon as he could. She offended him--solid,
matter-of-fact, quick, clear--French. He could not bear her vowels,
her 'r's'; he resented the way she had looked at him, as if it were
his fault that Annette could never bear him a son! His fault! He even
resented her cheap adoration of the daughter he had not yet seen.

Curious how he jibbed away from sight of his wife and child!

One would have thought he must have rushed up at the first moment. On
the contrary, he had a sort of physical shrinking from it--fastidious
possessor that he was. He was afraid of what Annette was thinking of
him, author of her agonies, afraid of the look of the baby, afraid of
showing his disappointment with the present and--the future.

He spent an hour walking up and down the drawing-room before he could
screw his courage up to mount the stairs and knock on the door of their
room.

Madame Lamotte opened it.

"Ah! At last you come! Elle vous attend!" She passed him, and Soames
went in with his noiseless step, his jaw firmly set, his eyes furtive.

Annette was very pale and very pretty lying there. The baby was hidden
away somewhere; he could not see it. He went up to the bed, and with
sudden emotion bent and kissed her forehead.

"Here you are then, Soames," she said. "I am not so bad now. But I
suffered terribly, terribly. I am glad I cannot have any more. Oh! how I
suffered!"

Soames stood silent, stroking her hand; words of endearment, of
sympathy, absolutely would not come; the thought passed through him:
'An English girl wouldn't have said that!' At this moment he knew with
certainty that he would never be near to her in spirit and in truth, nor
she to him. He had collected her--that was all! And Jolyon's words came
rushing into his mind: "I should imagine you will be glad to have your
neck out of chancery." Well, he had got it out! Had he got it in again?

"We must feed you up," he said, "you'll soon be strong."

"Don't you want to see baby, Soames? She is asleep."

"Of course," said Soames, "very much."

He passed round the foot of the bed to the other side and stood staring.
For the first moment what he saw was much what he had expected to see--a
baby. But as he stared and the baby breathed and made little sleeping
movements with its tiny features, it seemed to assume an individual
shape, grew to be like a picture, a thing he would know again; not
repulsive, strangely bud-like and touching. It had dark hair. He touched
it with his finger, he wanted to see its eyes. They opened, they were
dark--whether blue or brown he could not tell. The eyes winked, stared,
they had a sort of sleepy depth in them. And suddenly his heart felt
queer, warm, as if elated.

"Ma petite fleur!" Annette said softly.

"Fleur," repeated Soames: "Fleur! we'll call her that."

The sense of triumph and renewed possession swelled within him.

By God! this--this thing was his! By God! this--this thing was his!





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