List Of Contents | Contents of Indian Summer of a Forsyte, by John Galsworthy
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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.'



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 its 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:



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:

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