List Of Contents | Contents of Indian Summer of a Forsyte, by John Galsworthy
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kind of French figures; her dress, too, was a sort of French grey.
He noticed two or three silver threads in her amber-coloured hair,
strange hair with those dark eyes of hers, and that creamy-pale
face.  A sudden sidelong look from the velvety brown eyes disturbed
him.  It seemed to come from deep and far, from another world
almost, or at all events from some one not living very much in
this.  And he said mechanically

"Where are you living now?"

"I have a little flat in Chelsea."

He did not want to hear what she was doing, did not want to hear
anything; but the perverse word came out:


She nodded.  It was a relief to know that.  And it came into his
mind that, but for a twist of fate, she would have been mistress of
this coppice, showing these cow-houses to him, a visitor.

"All Alderneys," he muttered; "they give the best milk.  This one's
a pretty creature.  Woa, Myrtle!"

The fawn-coloured cow, with eyes as soft and brown as Irene's own,
was standing absolutely still, not having long been milked.  She
looked round at them out of the corner of those lustrous, mild,
cynical eyes, and from her grey lips a little dribble of saliva
threaded its way towards the straw.  The scent of hay and vanilla
and ammonia rose in the dim light of the cool cow-house; and old
Jolyon said:

"You must come up and have some dinner with me.  I'll send you home
in the carriage."

He perceived a struggle going on within her; natural, no doubt,
with her memories.  But he wanted her company; a pretty face, a
charming figure, beauty!  He had been alone all the afternoon.
Perhaps his eyes were wistful, for she answered: "Thank you, Uncle
Jolyon.  I should like to."

He rubbed his hands, and said:

"Capital! Let's go up, then!" And, preceded by the dog Balthasar,
they ascended through the field.  The sun was almost level in their
faces now, and he could see, not only those silver threads, but
little lines, just deep enough to stamp her beauty with a coin-like
fineness--the special look of life unshared with others.  "I'll
take her in by the terrace, "he thought: "I won't make a common
visitor of her."

"What do you do all day?" he said.

"Teach music; I have another interest, too."

"Work!" said old Jolyon, picking up the doll from off the swing,
and smoothing its black petticoat.  "Nothing like it, is there?  I
don't do any now.  I'm getting on.  What interest is that?"

"Trying to help women who've come to grief."  Old Jolyon did not
quite understand.  "To grief?" he repeated; then realised with a
shock that she meant exactly what he would have meant himself if he
had used that expression.  Assisting the Magdalenes of London!
What a weird and terrifying interest!  And, curiosity overcoming
his natural shrinking, he asked:

"Why? What do you do for them?"

"Not much.  I've no money to spare.  I can only give sympathy and
food sometimes."

Involuntarily old Jolyon's hand sought his purse.  He said hastily:
"How d'you get hold of them?"

"I go to a hospital."

"A hospital! Phew!"

"What hurts me most is that once they nearly all had some sort of

Old Jolyon straightened the doll.  "Beauty!" he ejaculated: "Ha!
Yes! A sad business!" and he moved towards the house.  Through a
French window, under sun-blinds not yet drawn up, he preceded her
into the room where he was wont to study 'The Times' and the sheets
of an agricultural magazine, with huge illustrations of mangold
wurzels, and the like, which provided Holly with material for her
paint brush.

"Dinner's in half an hour.  You'd like to wash your hands!  I'll
take you to June's room."

He saw her looking round eagerly; what changes since she had last
visited this house with her husband, or her lover, or both perhaps-
-he did not know, could not say!  All that was dark, and he wished
to leave it so.  But what changes!  And in the hall he said:

"My boy Jo's a painter, you know.  He's got a lot of taste.  It
isn't mine, of course, but I've let him have his way."

She was standing very still, her eyes roaming through the hall and
music room, as it now was--all thrown into one, under the great
skylight.  Old Jolyon had an odd impression of her.  Was she trying
to conjure somebody from the shades of that space where the
colouring was all pearl-grey and silver? He would have had gold
himself; more lively and solid.  But Jo had French tastes, and it
had come out shadowy like that, with an effect as of the fume of
cigarettes the chap was always smoking, broken here and there by a
little blaze of blue or crimson colour.  It was not his dream!
Mentally he had hung this space with those gold-framed masterpieces
of still and stiller life which he had bought in days when quantity
was precious.  And now where were they?  Sold for a song!  That
something which made him, alone among Forsytes, move with the times
had warned him against the struggle to retain them.  But in his
study he still had 'Dutch Fishing Boats at Sunset.'

He began to mount the stairs with her, slowly, for he felt his

"These are the bathrooms," he said, "and other arrangements.  I've
had them tiled.  The nurseries are along there.  And this is Jo's
and his wife's.  They all communicate.  But you remember, I

Irene nodded.  They passed on, up the gallery and entered a large
room with a small bed, and several windows.

"This is mine," he said.  The walls were covered with the
photographs of children and watercolour sketches, and he added

"These are Jo's.  The view's first-rate.  You can see the Grand
Stand at Epsom in clear weather."

The sun was down now, behind the house, and over the 'prospect' a
luminous haze had settled, emanation of the long and prosperous
day.  Few houses showed, but fields and trees faintly glistened,
away to a loom of downs.

"The country's changing," he said abruptly, "but there it'll be
when we're all gone.  Look at those thrushes--the birds are sweet
here in the mornings.  I'm glad to have washed my hands of London."

Her face was close to the window pane, and he was struck by its
mournful look.  'Wish I could make her look happy!' he thought.  'A
pretty face, but sad!'  And taking up his can of hot water he went
out into the gallery.

"This is June's room," he said, opening the next door and putting
the can down; "I think you'll find everything." And closing the
door behind her he went back to his own room.  Brushing his hair
with his great ebony brushes, and dabbing his forehead with eau de
Cologne, he mused.  She had come so strangely--a sort of visit-
ation; mysterious, even romantic, as if his desire for company, for
beauty, had been fulfilled by whatever it was which fulfilled that
sort of thing.  And before the mirror he straightened his still
upright figure, passed the brushes over his great white moustache,
touched up his eyebrows with eau de Cologne, and rang the bell.

"I forgot to let them know that I have a lady to dinner with me.
Let cook do something extra, and tell Beacon to have the landau and
pair at half-past ten to drive her back to Town to-night.  Is Miss
Holly asleep?"

The maid thought not.  And old Jolyon, passing down the gallery,
stole on tiptoe towards the nursery, and opened the door whose
hinges he kept specially oiled that he might slip in and out in the
evenings without being heard.

But Holly was asleep, and lay like a miniature Madonna, of that
type which the old painters could not tell from Venus, when they
had completed her.  Her long dark lashes clung to her cheeks; on
her face was perfect peace--her little arrangements were evidently
all right again.  And old Jolyon, in the twilight of the room,
stood adoring her!  It was so charming, solemn, and loving--that
little face.  He had more than his share of the blessed capacity of
living again in the young.  They were to him his future life--all
of a future life that his fundamental pagan sanity perhaps
admitted.  There she was with everything before her, and his
blood--some of it--in her tiny veins.  There she was, his little
companion, to be made as happy as ever he could make her, so that
she knew nothing but love.  His heart swelled, and he went out,
stilling the sound of his patent-leather boots.  In the corridor an
eccentric notion attacked him: To think that children should come
to that which Irene had told him she was helping!  Women who were
all, once, little things like this one sleeping there!  'I must
give her a cheque!' he mused; 'Can't bear to think of them!'  They
had never borne reflecting on, those poor outcasts; wounding too
deeply the core of true refinement hidden under layers of
conformity to the sense of property--wounding too grievously the
deepest thing in him--a love of beauty which could give him, even
now, a flutter of the heart, thinking of his evening in the society
of a pretty woman.  And he went downstairs, through the swinging
doors, to the back regions.  There, in the wine-cellar, was a hock
worth at least two pounds a bottle, a Steinberg Cabinet, better
than any Johan-nisberg that ever went down throat; a wine of
perfect bouquet, sweet as a nectarine--nectar indeed! He got a
bottle out, handling it like a baby, and holding it level to the
light, to look.  Enshrined in its coat of dust, that mellow
coloured, slender--necked bottle gave him deep pleasure.  Three
years to settle down again since the move from Town--ought to be in
prime condition! Thirty-five years ago he had bought it--thank God
he had kept his palate, and earned the right to drink it.  She
would appreciate this; not a spice of acidity in a dozen.  He wiped
the bottle, drew the cork with his own hands, put his nose down,
inhaled its perfume, and went back to the music room.

Irene was standing by the piano; she had taken off her hat and a
lace scarf she had been wearing, so that her gold-coloured hair was
visible, and the pallor of her neck.  In her grey frock she made a
pretty picture for old Jolyon, against the rosewood of the piano.

He gave her his arm, and solemnly they went.  The room, which had
been designed to enable twenty-four people to dine in comfort, held
now but a little round table.  In his present solitude the big
dining-table oppressed old Jolyon; he had caused it to be removed
till his son came back.  Here in the company of two really good
copies of Raphael Madonnas he was wont to dine alone.  It was the
only disconsolate hour of his day, this summer weather.  He had
never been a large eater, like that great chap Swithin, or Sylvanus
Heythorp, or Anthony Thornworthy, those cronies of past times; and
to dine alone, overlooked by the Madonnas, was to him but a
sorrowful occupation, which he got through quickly, that he might
come to the more spiritual enjoyment of his coffee and cigar.  But
this evening was a different matter! His eyes twinkled at her
across the little table and he spoke of Italy and Switzerland,
telling her stories of his travels there, and other experiences
which he could no longer recount to his son and grand-daughter
because they knew them.  This fresh audience was precious to him;
he had never become one of those old men who ramble round and round
the fields of reminiscence.  Himself quickly fatigued by the
insensitive, he instinctively avoided fatiguing others, and his
natural flirtatiousness towards beauty guarded him specially in his
relations with a woman.  He would have liked to draw her out, but
though she murmured and smiled and seemed to be enjoying what he
told her, he remained conscious of that mysterious remoteness which
constituted half her fascination.  He could not bear women who
threw their shoulders and eyes at you, and chattered away; or hard-
mouthed women who laid down the law and knew more than you did.
There was only one quality in a woman that appealed to him--charm;
and the quieter it was, the more he liked it.  And this one had
charm, shadowy as afternoon sunlight on those Italian hills and
valleys he had loved.  The feeling, too, that she was, as it were,
apart, cloistered, made her seem nearer to himself, a strangely
desirable companion.  When a man is very old and quite out of the
running, he loves to feel secure from the rivalries of youth, for
he would still be first in the heart of beauty.  And he drank his
hock, and watched her lips, and felt nearly young.  But the dog
Balthasar lay watching her lips too, and despising in his heart the
interruptions of their talk, and the tilting of those greenish
glasses full of a golden fluid which was distasteful to him.

The light was just failing when they went back into the music-room.
And, cigar in mouth, old Jolyon said:

"Play me some Chopin."

By the cigars they smoke, and the composers they love, ye shall
know the texture of men's souls.  Old Jolyon could not bear--a
strong cigar or Wagner's music.  He loved Beethoven and Mozart,
Handel and Gluck, and Schumann, and, for some occult reason, the
operas of Meyerbeer; but of late years he had been seduced by
Chopin, just as in painting he had succumbed to Botticelli.  In
yielding to these tastes he had been conscious of divergence from
the standard of the Golden Age.  Their poetry was not that of
Milton and Byron and Tennyson; of Raphael and Titian; Mozart and
Beethoven.  It was, as it were, behind a veil; their poetry hit no
one in the face, but slipped its fingers under the ribs and turned
and twisted, and melted up the heart.  And, never certain that this
was healthy, he did not care a rap so long as he could see the
pictures of the one or hear the music of the other.

Irene sat down at the piano under the electric lamp festooned with
pearl-grey, and old Jolyon, in an armchair, whence he could see
her, crossed his legs and drew slowly at his cigar.  She sat a few
moments with her hands on the keys, evidently searching her mind
for what to give him.  Then she began and within old Jolyon there
arose a sorrowful pleasure, not quite like anything else in the
world.  He fell slowly into a trance, interrupted only by the
movements of taking the cigar out of his mouth at long intervals,
and replacing it.  She was there, and the hock within him, and the
scent of tobacco; but there, too, was a world of sunshine lingering
into moonlight, and pools with storks upon them, and bluish trees
above, glowing with blurs of wine-red roses, and fields of lavender
where milk-white cows were grazing, and a woman all shadowy, with
dark eyes and a white neck, smiled, holding out her arms; and
through air which was like music a star dropped and was caught on a
cow's horn.  He opened his eyes.  Beautiful piece; she played well-
-the touch of an angel!  And he closed them again.  He felt mirac-
ulously sad and happy, as one does, standing under a lime-tree in
full honey flower.  Not live one's own life again, but just stand
there and bask in the smile of a woman's eyes, and enjoy the
bouquet!  And he jerked his hand; the dog Balthasar had reached up
and licked it.

"Beautiful!" He said: "Go on--more Chopin!"

She began to play again.  This time the resemblance between her and
'Chopin' struck him.  The swaying he had noticed in her walk was in

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