Indian Summer of a Forsyte and In Chancery
Part 2 out of 7
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
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 crop-
ping 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
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
But the thistledown was still as death, and the face of his old
Summer--summer--summer! The soundless footsteps on the grass!
Two households both alike in dignity,
From ancient grudge, break into new mutiny.
--Romeo and Juliet
TO JESSIE AND JOSEPH CONRAD
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 col-
lected 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 them-
selves, 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 provinc-
ialism 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?
"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
"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
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
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 un-
rewarded, 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 inspec-
tion 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,
"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
"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
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
"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 com-
plaining 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
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
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
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
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!'
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.
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
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
"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 page-
boy, slightly reassured by the thought that George had just lost
his father. He must have come in for about thirty thousand, be-
sides 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."
"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
"'Mr. Montague Dartie, Poste Restante, Buenos Aires.' I should
hurry up with the steps, if I were you. He fairly fed me up last
"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
"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
"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,
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
"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
"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
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.
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:
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 main-
tained 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 pro-
ceeding, 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
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
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
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
"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
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
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
drawingroom 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.
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
"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
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."
James made a great effort, and rose to the full height of his
"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
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
"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
"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
"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
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.'
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
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
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-
"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."
"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."
"Twelve years is a long time," said Soames rapidly: "I--I'm tired
Jolyon found no more appropriate answer than:
"Won't you smoke?"
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
"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.
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