List Of Contents | Contents of Indian Summer of a Forsyte, by John Galsworthy
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become a Volunteer.  'No,' thought Soames, mounting the stairs
slowly, 'there's nothing in that!'

He stood on the landing outside his parents' bed and dressing
rooms, debating whether or not to put his nose in and say a
reassuring word.  Opening the landing window, he listened.  The
rumble from Piccadilly was all the sound he heard, and with the
thought, 'If these motor-cars increase, it'll affect house
property,' he was about to pass on up to the room always kept ready
for him when he heard, distant as yet, the hoarse rushing call of a
newsvendor.  There it was, and coming past the house!  He knocked
on his mother's door and went in.

His father was sitting up in bed, with his ears pricked under the
white hair which Emily kept so beautifully cut.  He looked pink,
and extraordinarily clean, in his setting of white sheet and
pillow, out of which the points of his high, thin, nightgowned
shoulders emerged in small peaks.  His eyes alone, grey and
distrustful under their withered lids, were moving from the window
to Emily, who in a wrapper was walking up and down, squeezing a
rubber ball attached to a scent bottle.  The room reeked faintly of
the eau-de-Cologne she was spraying.

"All right!" said Soames, "it's not a fire.  The Boers have
declared war--that's all."

Emily stopped her spraying.

"Oh!" was all she said, and looked at James.

Soames, too, looked at his father.  He was taking it differently
from their expectation, as if some thought, strange to them, were
working in him.

"H'm!" he muttered suddenly, "I shan't live to see the end of

"Nonsense, James!  It'll be over by Christmas."

"What do you know about it?" James answered her with asperity.
"It's a pretty mess at this time of night, too!"  He lapsed into
silence, and his wife and son, as if hypnotised, waited for him to
say: 'I can't tell--I don't know; I knew how it would be!'  But he
did not.  The grey eyes shifted, evidently seeing nothing in the
room; then movement occurred under the bedclothes, and the knees
were drawn up suddenly to a great height.

"They ought to send out Roberts.  It all comes from that fellow
Gladstone and his Majuba."

The two listeners noted something beyond the usual in his voice,
something of real anxiety.  It was as if he had said: 'I shall
never see the old country peaceful and safe again.  I shall have to
die before I know she's won.'  And in spite of the feeling that
James must not be encouraged to be fussy, they were touched.
Soames went up to the bedside and stroked his father's hand which
had emerged from under the bedclothes, long and wrinkled with

"Mark my words!" said James, "consols will go to par.  For all I
know, Val may go and enlist."

"Oh, come, James!" cried Emily, "you talk as if there were danger."

Her comfortable voice seemed to soothe James for once.

"Well," he muttered, "I told you how it would be.  I don't know,
I'm sure nobody tells me anything.  Are you sleeping here, my boy?"

The crisis was past, he would now compose himself to his normal
degree of anxiety; and, assuring his father that he was sleeping in
the house, Soames pressed his hand, and went up to his room.

The following afternoon witnessed the greatest crowd Timothy's had
known for many a year.  On national occasions, such as this, it
was, indeed, almost impossible to avoid going there.  Not that
there was any danger or rather only just enough to make it
necessary to assure each other that there was none.

Nicholas was there early.  He had seen Soames the night before--
Soames had said it was bound to come.  This old Kruger was in his
dotage--why, he must be seventy-five if he was a day!

(Nicholas was eighty-two.) What had Timothy said?  He had had a fit
after Majuba.  These Boers were a grasping lot!  The dark-haired
Francie, who had arrived on his heels, with the contradictious
touch which became the free spirit of a daughter of Roger, chimed

"Kettle and pot, Uncle Nicholas.  What price the Uitlanders?" What
price; indeed!  A new expression, and believed to be due to her
brother George.

Aunt Juley thought Francie ought not to say such a thing.  Dear
Mrs. MacAnder's boy, Charlie MacAnder, was one, and no one could
call him grasping.  At this Francie uttered one of her mots,
scandalising, and so frequently repeated:

"Well, his father's a Scotchman, and his mother's a cat."

Aunt Juley covered her ears, too late, but Aunt Hester smiled; as
for Nicholas, he pouted--witticism of which he was not the author
was hardly to his taste.  Just then Marian Tweetyman arrived,
followed almost immediately by young Nicholas.  On seeing his son,
Nicholas rose.

"Well, I must be going," he said, "Nick here will tell you what'll
win the race."  And with this hit at his eldest, who, as a pillar
of accountancy, and director of an insurance company, was no more
addicted to sport than his father had ever been, he departed.  Dear
Nicholas!  What race was that?  Or was it only one of his jokes?
He was a wonderful man for his age!  How many lumps would dear
Marian take?  And how were Giles and Jesse?  Aunt Juley supposed
their Yeomanry would be very busy now, guarding the coast, though
of course the Boers had no ships.  But one never knew what the
French might do if they had the chance, especially since that
dreadful Fashoda scare, which had upset Timothy so terribly that he
had made no investments for months afterwards.  It was the
ingratitude of the Boers that was so dreadful, after everything had
been done for them--Dr. Jameson imprisoned, and he was so nice,
Mrs. MacAnder had always said.  And Sir Alfred Milner sent out to
talk to them--such a clever man!  She didn't know what they wanted.

But at this moment occurred one of those sensations--so precious at
Timothy's--which great occasions sometimes bring forth:

"Miss June Forsyte."

Aunts Juley and Hester were on their feet at once, trembling from
smothered resentment, and old affection bubbling up, and pride at
the return of a prodigal June!  Well, this was a surprise!  Dear
June--after all these years!  And how well she was looking!  Not
changed at all!  It was almost on their lips to add, 'And how is
your dear grandfather?' forgetting in that giddy moment that poor
dear Jolyon had been in his grave for seven years now.

Ever the most courageous and downright of all the Forsytes, June,
with her decided chin and her spirited eyes and her hair like
flame, sat down, slight and short, on a gilt chair with a bead-
worked seat, for all the world as if ten years had not elapsed
since she had been to see them--ten years of travel and
independence and devotion to lame ducks.  Those ducks of late had
been all definitely painters, etchers, or sculptors, so that her
impatience with the Forsytes and their hopelessly inartistic
outlook had become intense.  Indeed, she had almost ceased to
believe that her family existed, and looked round her now with a
sort of challenging directness which brought exquisite discomfort
to the roomful.  She had not expected to meet any of them but 'the
poor old things'; and why she had come to see them she hardly knew,
except that, while on her way from Oxford Street to a studio in
Latimer Road, she had suddenly remembered them with compunction as
two long-neglected old lame ducks.

Aunt Juley broke the hush again.  "We've just been saying, dear,
how dreadful it is about these Boers!  And what an impudent thing
of that old Kruger!"

"Impudent!" said June.  "I think he's quite right.  What business
have we to meddle with them?  If he turned out all those wretched
Uitlanders it would serve them right.  They're only after money."

The silence of sensation was broken by Francie saying:

"What?  Are you a pro-Boer?" (undoubtedly the first use of that

"Well!  Why can't we leave them alone?" said June, just as, in the
open doorway, the maid said "Mr. Soames Forsyte."  Sensation on
sensation!  Greeting was almost held up by curiosity to see how
June and he would take this encounter, for it was shrewdly
suspected, if not quite known, that they had not met since that old
and lamentable affair of her fiance Bosinney with Soames' wife.
They were seen to just touch each other's hands, and look each at
the other's left eye only.  Aunt Juley came at once to the rescue:

"Dear June is so original.  Fancy, Soames, she thinks the Boers are
not to blame."

"They only want their independence," said June; "and why shouldn't
they have it?"

"Because," answered Soames, with his smile a little on one side,
"they happen to have agreed to our suzerainty."

"Suzerainty!" repeated June scornfully; "we shouldn't like anyone's
suzerainty over us."

"They got advantages in payment," replied Soames; "a contract is a

"Contracts are not always just," fumed out June, "and when they're
not, they ought to be broken.  The Boers are much the weaker.  We
could afford to be generous."

Soames sniffed.  "That's mere sentiment," he said.

Aunt Hester, to whom nothing was more awful than any kind of
disagreement, here leaned forward and remarked decisively:

"What lovely weather it has been for the time of year?"

But June was not to be diverted.

"I don't know why sentiment should be sneered at.  It's the best
thing in the world."  She looked defiantly round, and Aunt Juley
had to intervene again:

"Have you bought any pictures lately, Soames?"

Her incomparable instinct for the wrong subject had not failed her.
Soames flushed.  To disclose the name of his latest purchases would
be like walking into the jaws of disdain.  For somehow they all
knew of June's predilection for 'genius' not yet on its legs, and
her contempt for 'success' unless she had had a finger in securing

"One or two," he muttered.

But June's face had changed; the Forsyte within her was seeing its
chance.  Why should not Soames buy some of the pictures of Eric
Cobbley--her last lame duck?  And she promptly opened her attack:
Did Soames know his work?  It was so wonderful.  He was the coming

Oh, yes, Soames knew his work.  It was in his view 'splashy,' and
would never get hold of the public.

June blazed up.

"Of course it won't; that's the last thing one would wish for.  I
thought you were a connoisseur, not a picture-dealer."

"Of course Soames is a connoisseur," Aunt Juley said hastily; "he
has wonderful taste--he can always tell beforehand what's going to
be successful."

"Oh!" gasped June, and sprang up from the bead-covered chair, "I
hate that standard of success.  Why can't people buy things because
they like them?"

"You mean," said Francie, "because you like them."

And in the slight pause young Nicholas was heard saying gently that
Violet (his fourth) was taking lessons in pastel, he didn't know if
they were any use.

"Well, good-bye, Auntie," said June; "I must get on," and kissing
her aunts, she looked defiantly round the room, said "Good-bye"
again, and went.  A breeze seemed to pass out with her, as if
everyone had sighed.

The third sensation came before anyone had time to speak:

"Mr. James Forsyte."

James came in using a stick slightly and wrapped in a fur coat
which gave him a fictitious bulk.

Everyone stood up.  James was so old; and he had not been at
Timothy's for nearly two years.

"It's hot in here," he said.

Soames divested him of his coat, and as he did so could not help
admiring the glossy way his father was turned out.  James sat down,
all knees, elbows, frock-coat, and long white whiskers.

"What's the meaning of that?" he said.

Though there was no apparent sense in his words, they all knew that
he was referring to June.  His eyes searched his son's face.

"I thought I'd come and see for myself.  What have they answered

Soames took out an evening paper, and read the headline.

"'Instant action by our Government--state of war existing!'"

"Ah!" said James, and sighed.  "I was afraid they'd cut and run
like old Gladstone.  We shall finish with them this time."

All stared at him.  James!  Always fussy, nervous, anxious!  James
with his continual, 'I told you how it would be!' and his pessimism,
and his cautious investments.  There was something uncanny about
such resolution in this the oldest living Forsyte.

"Where's Timothy?" said James.  "He ought to pay attention to

Aunt Juley said she didn't know; Timothy had not said much at lunch
to-day.  Aunt Hester rose and threaded her way out of the room, and
Francie said rather maliciously:

"The Boers are a hard nut to crack, Uncle James."

"H'm!" muttered James.  "Where do you get your information?  Nobody
tells me."

Young Nicholas remarked in his mild voice that Nick (his eldest)
was now going to drill regularly.

"Ah!" muttered James, and stared before him--his thoughts were on
Val.  "He's got to look after his mother," he said, "he's got no
time for drilling and that, with that father of his."  This cryptic
saying produced silence, until he spoke again.

"What did June want here?"  And his eyes rested with suspicion on
all of them in turn.  "Her father's a rich man now."  The
conversation turned on Jolyon, and when he had been seen last.  It
was supposed that he went abroad and saw all sorts of people now
that his wife was dead; his water-colours were on the line, and he
was a successful man.  Francie went so far as to say:

"I should like to see him again; he was rather a dear."

Aunt Juley recalled how he had gone to sleep on the sofa one day,
where James was sitting.  He had always been very amiable; what did
Soames think?

Knowing that Jolyon was Irene's trustee, all felt the delicacy of
this question, and looked at Soames with interest.  A faint pink
had come up in his cheeks.

"He's going grey," he said.

Indeed!  Had Soames seen him?  Soames nodded, and the pink

James said suddenly: "Well--I don't know, I can't tell."

It so exactly expressed the sentiment of everybody present that
there was something behind everything, that nobody responded.  But
at this moment Aunt Hester returned.

"Timothy," she said in a low voice, "Timothy has bought a map, and
he's put in--he's put in three flags."

Timothy had ....!  A sigh went round the company.

If Timothy had indeed put in three flags already, well!--it showed
what the nation could do when it was roused.  The war was as good
as over.



Jolyon stood at the window in Holly's old night nursery, converted
into a studio, not because it had a north light, but for its view
over the prospect away to the Grand Stand at Epsom.  He shifted to
the side window which overlooked the stableyard, and whistled down
to the dog Balthasar who lay for ever under the clock tower.  The
old dog looked up and wagged his tail.  'Poor old boy!'  thought
Jolyon, shifting back to the other window.

He had been restless all this week, since his attempt to prosecute
trusteeship, uneasy in his conscience which was ever acute,
disturbed in his sense of compassion which was easily excited, and
with a queer sensation as if his feeling for beauty had received

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