List Of Contents | Contents of Indian Summer of a Forsyte, by John Galsworthy
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irony welled up in him.

"Yes, it's a queer visit!  I hope you're well."

"Thank you.  Will you sit down?"

She had moved away from the piano, and gone over to a window-seat,
sinking on to it, with her hands clasped in her lap.  Light fell on
her there, so that Soames could see her face, eyes, hair, strangely
as he remembered them, strangely beautiful.

He sat down on the edge of a satinwood chair, upholstered with
silver-coloured stuff, close to where he was standing.

"You have not changed," he said.

"No?  What have you come for?"

"To discuss things."

"I have heard what you want from your cousin."


"I am willing.  I have always been."

The sound of her voice, reserved and close, the sight of her figure
watchfully poised, defensive, was helping him now.  A thousand
memories of her, ever on the watch against him, stirred, and....

"Perhaps you will be good enough, then, to give me information on
which I can act.  The law must be complied with."

"I have none to give you that you don't know of.

"Twelve years!  Do you suppose I can believe that?"

"I don't suppose you will believe anything I say; but it's the

Soames looked at her hard.  He had said that she had not changed;
now he perceived that she had.  Not in face, except that it was
more beautiful; not in form, except that it was a little fuller--
no!  She had changed spiritually.  There was more of her, as it
were, something of activity and daring, where there had been sheer
passive resistance.  'Ah!' he thought, 'that's her independent
income!  Confound Uncle Jolyon!'

"I suppose you're comfortably off now?" he said.

"Thank you, yes."

"Why didn't you let me provide for you?  I would have, in spite of

A faint smile came on her lips; but she did not answer.

"You are still my wife," said Soames.  Why he said that, what he
meant by it, he knew neither when he spoke nor after.  It was a
truism almost preposterous, but its effect was startling.  She rose
from the window-seat, and stood for a moment perfectly still,
looking at him.  He could see her bosom heaving.  Then she turned
to the window and threw it open.

"Why do that?" he said sharply.  "You'll catch cold in that dress.
I'm not dangerous."  And he uttered a little sad laugh.

She echoed it--faintly, bitterly.

"It was--habit."

"Rather odd habit," said Soames as bitterly.  "Shut the window!"

She shut it and sat down again.  She had developed power, this
woman--this--wife of his!  He felt it issuing from her as she sat
there, in a sort of armour.  And almost unconsciously he rose and
moved nearer; he wanted to see the expression on her face.  Her
eyes met his unflinching.  Heavens!  how clear they were, and what
a dark brown against that white skin, and that burnt-amber hair!
And how white her shoulders.

Funny sensation this!  He ought to hate her.

"You had better tell me," he said; "it's to your advantage to be
free as well as to mine.  That old matter is too old."

"I have told you."

"Do you mean to tell me there has been nothing--nobody?"

"Nobody.  You must go to your own life."

Stung by that retort, Soames moved towards the piano and back to
the hearth, to and fro, as he had been wont in the old days in
their drawing-room when his feelings were too much for him.

"That won't do," he said.  "You deserted me.  In common justice
it's for you...."

He saw her shrug those white shoulders, heard her murmur:

"Yes.  Why didn't you divorce me then?  Should I have cared?"

He stopped, and looked at her intently with a sort of curiosity.
What on earth did she do with herself, if she really lived quite
alone?  And why had he not divorced her?  The old feeling that she
had never understood him, never done him justice, bit him while he
stared at her.

"Why couldn't you have made me a good wife?" he said.

"Yes; it was a crime to marry you.  I have paid for it.  You will
find some way perhaps.  You needn't mind my name, I have none to
lose.  Now I think you had better go."

A sense of defeat--of being defrauded of his self-justification,
and of something else beyond power of explanation to himself, beset
Soames like the breath of a cold fog.  Mechanically he reached up,
took from the mantel-shelf a little china bowl, reversed it, and

"Lowestoft.  Where did you get this?  I bought its fellow at
Jobson's."  And, visited by the sudden memory of how, those many
years ago, he and she had bought china together, he remained
staring at the little bowl, as if it contained all the past.  Her
voice roused him.

"Take it.  I don't want it."

Soames put it back on the shelf.

"Will you shake hands?" he said.

A faint smile curved her lips.  She held out her hand.  It was cold
to his rather feverish touch.  'She's made of ice,' he thought--
'she was always made of ice!'  But even as that thought darted
through him, his senses were assailed by the perfume of her dress
and body, as though the warmth within her, which had never been for
him, were struggling to show its presence.  And he turned on his
heel.  He walked out and away, as if someone with a whip were after
him, not even looking for a cab, glad of the empty Embankment and
the cold river, and the thick-strewn shadows of the plane-tree
leaves-confused, flurried, sore at heart, and vaguely disturbed, as
though he had made some deep mistake whose consequences he could
not foresee.  And the fantastic thought suddenly assailed him
if instead of, 'I think you had better go,' she had said, 'I think
you had better stay!'  What should he have felt, what would he have
done?  That cursed attraction of her was there for him even now,
after all these years of estrangement and bitter thoughts.  It was
there, ready to mount to his head at a sign, a touch.  'I was a
fool to go!'  he muttered.  'I've advanced nothing.  Who could
imagine?  I never thought!'  Memory, flown back to the first years
of his marriage, played him torturing tricks.  She had not deserved
to keep her beauty--the beauty he had owned and known so well.  And
a kind of bitterness at the tenacity of his own admiration welled
up in him.  Most men would have hated the sight of her, as she had
deserved.  She had spoiled his life, wounded his pride to death,
defrauded him of a son.  And yet the mere sight of her, cold and
resisting as ever, had this power to upset him utterly!  It was
some damned magnetism she had!  And no wonder if, as she asserted;
she had lived untouched these last twelve years.  So Bosinney--
cursed be his memory!--had lived on all this time with her!  Soames
could not tell whether he was glad of that knowledge or no.

Nearing his Club at last he stopped to buy a paper.  A headline
ran: 'Boers reported to repudiate suzerainty!'  Suzerainty!  'Just
like her!' he thought: 'she always did.  Suzerainty!  I still have
it by rights.  She must be awfully lonely in that wretched little



Soames belonged to two clubs, 'The Connoisseurs,' which he put on
his cards and seldom visited, and 'The Remove,' which he did not
put on his cards and frequented.  He had joined this Liberal
institution five years ago, having made sure that its members were
now nearly all sound Conservatives in heart and pocket, if not in
principle.  Uncle Nicholas had put him up.  The fine reading-room
was decorated in the Adam style.

On entering that evening he glanced at the tape for any news about
the Transvaal, and noted that Consols were down seven-sixteenths
since the morning.  He was turning away to seek the reading-room
when a voice behind him said:

"Well, Soames, that went off all right."

It was Uncle Nicholas, in a frock-coat and his special cut-away
collar, with a black tie passed through a ring.  Heavens!  How
young and dapper he looked at eighty-two!

"I think Roger'd have been pleased," his uncle went on.  "The thing
was very well done.  Blackley's?  I'll make a note of them.
Buxton's done me no good.  These Boers are upsetting me--that
fellow Chamberlain's driving the country into war.  What do you

"Bound to come," murmured Soames.

Nicholas passed his hand over his thin, cleanshaven cheeks, very
rosy after his summer cure; a slight pout had gathered on his lips.
This business had revived all his Liberal principles.

"I mistrust that chap; he's a stormy petrel.  House-property will
go down if there's war.  You'll have trouble with Roger's estate.
I often told him he ought to get out of some of his houses.  He was
an opinionated beggar."

'There was a pair of you!' thought Soames.  But he never argued
with an uncle, in that way preserving their opinion of him as 'a
long-headed chap,' and the legal care of their property.

"They tell me at Timothy's," said Nicholas, lowering his voice,
"that Dartie has gone off at last.  That'll be a relief to your
father.  He was a rotten egg."

Again Soames nodded.  If there was a subject on which the Forsytes
really agreed, it was the character of Montague Dartie.

"You take care," said Nicholas, "or he'll turn up again.  Winifred
had better have the tooth out, I should say.  No use preserving
what's gone bad."

Soames looked at him sideways.  His nerves, exacerbated by the
interview he had just come through, disposed him to see a personal
allusion in those words.

"I'm advising her," he said shortly.

"Well," said Nicholas, "the brougham's waiting; I must get home.
I'm very poorly.  Remember me to your father."

And having thus reconsecrated the ties of blood, he passed down the
steps at his youthful gait and was wrapped into his fur coat by the
junior porter.

'I've never known Uncle Nicholas other than "very poorly,"' mused
Soames, 'or seen him look other than everlasting.  What a family!
Judging by him, I've got thirty-eight years of health before me.
Well, I'm not going to waste them.'  And going over to a mirror he
stood looking at his face.  Except for a line or two, and three or
four grey hairs in his little dark moustache, had he aged any more
than Irene?  The prime of life--he and she in the very prime of
life!  And a fantastic thought shot into his mind.  Absurd!
Idiotic!  But again it came.  And genuinely alarmed by the recur-
rence, as one is by the second fit of shivering which presages a
feverish cold, he sat down on the weighing machine.  Eleven stone!
He had not varied two pounds in twenty years.  What age was she?
Nearly thirty-seven--not too old to have a child--not at all!
Thirty-seven on the ninth of next month.  He remembered her
birthday well--he had always observed it religiously, even that
last birthday so soon before she left him, when he was almost
certain she was faithless.  Four birthdays in his house.  He had
looked forward to them, because his gifts had meant a semblance of
gratitude, a certain attempt at warmth.  Except, indeed, that last
birthday--which had tempted him to be too religious!  And he shied
away in thought.  Memory heaps dead leaves on corpse-like deeds,
from under which they do but vaguely offend the sense.  And then he
thought suddenly: 'I could send her a present for her birthday.
After all, we're Christians!  Couldn't!--couldn't we join up
again!'  And he uttered a deep sigh sitting there.  Annette!  Ah!
but between him and Annette was the need for that wretched divorce
suit!  And how?

"A man can always work these things, if he'll take it on himself,"
Jolyon had said.

But why should he take the scandal on himself with his whole career
as a pillar of the law at stake?  It was not fair!  It was quix-
otic!  Twelve years' separation in which he had taken no steps to
free himself put out of court the possibility of using her conduct
with Bosinney as a ground for divorcing her.  By doing nothing to
secure relief he had acquiesced, even if the evidence could now be
gathered, which was more than doubtful.  Besides, his own pride
would never let him use that old incident, he had suffered from it
too much.  No!  Nothing but fresh misconduct on her part--but she
had denied it; and--almost--he had believed her.  Hung up!  Utterly
hung up!

He rose from the scooped-out red velvet seat with a feeling of
constriction about his vitals.  He would never sleep with this
going on in him!  And, taking coat and hat again, he went out,
moving eastward.  In Trafalgar Square he became aware of some
special commotion travelling towards him out of the mouth of the
Strand.  It materialised in newspaper men calling out so loudly
that no words whatever could be heard.  He stopped to listen, and
one came by.

"Payper!  Special!  Ultimatium by Krooger!  Declaration of war!"
Soames bought the paper.  There it was in the stop press....!  His
first thought was: 'The Boers are committing suicide.'  His second:
'Is there anything still I ought to sell?' If so he had missed the
chance--there would certainly be a slump in the city to-morrow.  He
swallowed this thought with a nod of defiance.  That ultimatum was
insolent--sooner than let it pass he was prepared to lose money.
They wanted a lesson, and they would get it; but it would take
three months at least to bring them to heel.  There weren't the
troops out there; always behind time, the Government!  Confound
those newspaper rats!  What was the use of waking everybody up?
Breakfast to-morrow was quite soon enough.  And he thought with
alarm of his father.  They would cry it down Park Lane.  Hailing a
hansom, he got in and told the man to drive there.

James and Emily had just gone up to bed, and after communicating
the news to Warmson, Soames prepared to follow.  He paused by
after-thought to say:

"What do you think of it, Warmson?"

The butler ceased passing a hat brush over the silk hat Soames had
taken off, and, inclining his face a little forward, said in a low
voice: "Well, sir, they 'aven't a chance, of course; but I'm told
they're very good shots.  I've got a son in the Inniskillings."

"You, Warmson?  Why, I didn't know you were married."

"No, sir.  I don't talk of it.  I expect he'll be going out."

The slighter shock Soames had felt on discovering that he knew so
little of one whom he thought he knew so well was lost in the
slight shock of discovering that the war might touch one
personally.  Born in the year of the Crimean War, he had only come
to consciousness by the time the Indian Mutiny was over; since then
the many little wars of the British Empire had been entirely
professional, quite unconnected with the Forsytes and all they
stood for in the body politic.  This war would surely be no
exception.  But his mind ran hastily over his family.  Two of the
Haymans, he had heard, were in some Yeomanry or other--it had
always been a pleasant thought, there was a certain distinction
about the Yeomanry; they wore, or used to wear, a blue uniform with
silver about it, and rode horses.  And Archibald, he remembered,
had once on a time joined the Militia, but had given it up because
his father, Nicholas, had made such a fuss about his 'wasting his
time peacocking about in a uniform.'  Recently he had heard
somewhere that young Nicholas' eldest, very young Nicholas, had

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