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[Spelling conforms to the original: "s's" instead of our "z's"; and
"c's" where we would have "s's"; and "...our" as in colour and
flavour; many interesting double consonants; etc.]


By John Galsworthy


     Indian Summer of a Forsyte
     In Chancery



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


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

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

Far-off a cuckoo called; a wood-pigeon was cooing from the first
elm-tree in the field, and how the daisies and buttercups had
sprung up after the last mowing! The wind had got into the sou'-
west, too--a delicious air, sappy! He pushed his hat back and let
the sun fall on his chin and cheek.  Somehow, to-day, he wanted
company wanted a pretty face to look at.  People treated the old as
if they wanted nothing.  And with the un-Forsytean philosophy which
ever intruded on his soul, he thought: 'One's never had enough'

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

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

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

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

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

"Oh, yes! I did."

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

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

In a situation so charged with mystery and something very like
emotion he moved instinctively towards that bit of property, and
she moved beside him.  Her figure swayed faintly, like the best

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