Awakening & To Let
Part 7 out of 7
resistant to his ownership. He saw Bosinney's body lying in that
white mortuary, and Irene sitting on the sofa looking at space with
the eyes of a dying bird. Again he thought of her by the little
green Niobe in the Bois de Boulogne, once more rejecting him. His
fancy took him on beside his drifting river on the November day when
Fleur was to be born, took him to the dead leaves floating on the
green-tinged water and the snake-headed weed for ever swaying and
nosing, sinuous, blind, tethered. And on again to the window opened
to the cold starry night above Hyde Park, with his father lying dead.
His fancy darted to that picture of "the future town," to that boy's
and Fleur's first meeting; to the bluish trail of Prosper Profond's
cigar, and Fleur in the window pointing down to where the fellow
prowled. To the sight of Irene and that dead fellow sitting side by
side in the stand at Lord's. To her and that boy at Robin Hill. To
the sofa, where Fleur lay crushed up in the corner; to her lips
pressed into his cheek, and her farewell "Daddy." And suddenly he
saw again Irene's grey-gloved hand waving its last gesture of
He sat there a long time dreaming his career, faithful to the scut of
his possessive instinct, warming himself even with its failures.
"To Let"--the Forsyte age and way of life, when a man owned his soul,
his investments, and his woman, without check or question. And now
the State had, or would have, his investments, his woman had herself,
and God knew who had his soul. "To Let"--that sane and simple creed!
The waters of change were foaming in, carrying the promise of new
forms only when their destructive flood should have passed its full.
He sat there, subconscious of them, but with his thoughts resolutely
set on the past--as a man might ride into a wild night with his face
to the tail of his galloping horse. Athwart the Victorian dykes the
waters were rolling on property, manners, and morals, on melody and
the old forms of art--waters bringing to his mouth a salt taste as of
blood, lapping to the foot of this Highgate Hill where Victorianism
lay buried. And sitting there, high up on its most individual spot,
Soames--like a figure of Investment--refused their restless sounds.
Instinctively he would not fight them--there was in him too much
primeval wisdom, of Man the possessive animal. They would quiet down
when they had fulfilled their tidal fever of dispossessing and
destroying; when the creations and the properties of others were
sufficiently broken and defected--they would lapse and ebb, and fresh
forms would rise based on an instinct older than the fever of change-
-the instinct of Home.
"Je m'en fiche," said Prosper Profond. Soames did not say "Je m'en
fiche"--it was French, and the fellow was a thorn in his side--but
deep down he knew that change was only the interval of death between
two forms of life, destruction necessary to make room for fresher
property. What though the board was up, and cosiness to let?--some
one would come along and take it again some day.
And only one thing really troubled him, sitting there--the melancholy
craving in his heart--because the sun was like enchantment on his
face and on the clouds and on the golden birch leaves, and the wind's
rustle was so gentle, and the yewtree green so dark, and the sickle
of a moon pale in the sky.
He might wish and wish and never get it--the beauty and the loving in
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