List Of Contents | Contents of Indian Summer of a Forsyte, by John Galsworthy
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Yet if there is, I'd rather be wrong than right.'

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

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

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

Soames gave him another quick suspicious look.

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

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

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

Jolyon got up.

"Good-bye," he said curtly.

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



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

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

"He'd better be told."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Do you, Mother?" he said sharply.

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

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

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

"Shall I tell him?"

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

Soames spoke in a rapid, even voice:

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

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

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

"That'll do, Soames-stop!"

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

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

Val freed his hand.

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

Winifred cried out:

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Val grinned.

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

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

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

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

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

"Mr. Valerus, ma'am."

"Confound him!" thought Val, entering.

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

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

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

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

"Yes, dear boy."

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

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

James' voice sounded from the other end.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Aren't you?" asked Val hardily.

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

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

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

"Was that the house built for Uncle Soames?"  And, receiving her
nod, went on: "I wish you'd tell me about him, Granny.  What became

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