List Of Contents | Contents of Indian Summer of a Forsyte, by John Galsworthy
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must face it.  He heard her voice, uncomfortably, pathetically

"Why have you come again?  Didn't you understand that I would
rather you did not?"

He noticed her clothes--a dark brown velvet corduroy, a sable boa,
a small round toque of the same.  They suited her admirably.  She
had money to spare for dress, evidently!  He said abruptly:

"It's your birthday.  I brought you this," and he held out to her
the green morocco case.

"Oh!  No-no!"

Soames pressed the clasp; the seven stones gleamed out on the pale
grey velvet.

"Why not?" he said.  "Just as a sign that you don't bear me ill-
feeling any longer."

"I couldn't."

Soames took it out of the case.

"Let me just see how it looks."

She shrank back.

He followed, thrusting his hand with the brooch in it against the
front of her dress.  She shrank again.

Soames dropped his hand.

"Irene," he said, "let bygones be bygones.  If I can, surely you
might.  Let's begin again, as if nothing had been.  Won't you?"
His voice was wistful, and his eyes, resting on her face, had in
them a sort of supplication.

She, who was standing literally with her back against the wall,
gave a little gulp, and that was all her answer.  Soames went on:

"Can you really want to live all your days half-dead in this little
hole?  Come back to me, and I'll give you all you want.  You shall
live your own life; I swear it."

He saw her face quiver ironically.

"Yes," he repeated, "but I mean it this time.  I'll only ask one
thing.  I just want--I just want a son.  Don't look like that!  I
want one.  It's hard."  His voice had grown hurried, so that he
hardly knew it for his own, and twice he jerked his head back as if
struggling for breath.  It was the sight of her eyes fixed on him,
dark with a sort of fascinated fright, which pulled him together
and changed that painful incoherence to anger.

"Is it so very unnatural?" he said between his teeth, "Is it
unnatural to want a child from one's own wife?  You wrecked our
life and put this blight on everything.  We go on only half alive,
and without any future.  Is it so very unflattering to you that in
spite of everything I--I still want you for my wife?  Speak, for
Goodness' sake! do speak."

Irene seemed to try, but did not succeed.

"I don't want to frighten you," said Soames more gently.  "Heaven
knows.  I only want you to see that I can't go on like this.  I
want you back.  I want you."

Irene raised one hand and covered the lower part of her face, but
her eyes never moved from his, as though she trusted in them to
keep him at bay.  And all those years, barren and bitter, since--
ah!  when?--almost since he had first known her, surged up in one
great wave of recollection in Soames; and a spasm that for his life
he could not control constricted his face.

"It's not too late," he said; "it's not--if you'll only believe

Irene uncovered her lips, and both her hands made a writhing
gesture in front of her breast.  Soames seized them.

"Don't!" she said under her breath.  But he stood holding on to
them, trying to stare into her eyes which did not waver.  Then she
said quietly:

"I am alone here.  You won't behave again as you once behaved."

Dropping her hands as though they had been hot irons, he turned
away.  Was it possible that there could be such relentless
unforgiveness!  Could that one act of violent possession be still
alive within her?  Did it bar him thus utterly?  And doggedly he
said, without looking up:

"I am not going till you've answered me.  I am offering what few
men would bring themselves to offer, I want a--a reasonable

And almost with surprise he heard her say:

"You can't have a reasonable answer.  Reason has nothing to do with
it.  You can only have the brutal truth: I would rather die."

Soames stared at her.

"Oh!" he said.  And there intervened in him a sort of paralysis of
speech and movement, the kind of quivering which comes when a man
has received a deadly insult, and does not yet know how he is going
to take it, or rather what it is going to do with him.

"Oh!" he said again, "as bad as that?  Indeed!  You would rather
die.  That's pretty!"

"I am sorry.  You wanted me to answer.  I can't help the truth, can

At that queer spiritual appeal Soames turned for relief to
actuality.  He snapped the brooch back into its case and put it in
his pocket.

"The truth!" he said; "there's no such thing with women.  It's

He heard the whisper:

"Yes; nerves don't lie.  Haven't you discovered that?" He was
silent, obsessed by the thought: 'I will hate this woman.  I will
hate her.'  That was the trouble!  If only he could!  He shot a
glance at her who stood unmoving against the wall with her head up
and her hands clasped, for all the world as if she were going to be
shot.  And he said quickly:

"I don't believe a word of it.  You have a lover.  If you hadn't,
you wouldn't be such a--such a little idiot."  He was conscious,
before the expression in her eyes, that he had uttered something of
a non-sequitur, and dropped back too abruptly into the verbal
freedom of his connubial days.  He turned away to the door.  But he
could not go out.  Something within him--that most deep and secret
Forsyte quality, the impossibility of letting go, the impossibility
of seeing the fantastic and forlorn nature of his own tenacity--
prevented him.  He turned about again, and there stood, with his
back against the door, as hers was against the wall opposite, quite
unconscious of anything ridiculous in this separation by the whole
width of the room.

"Do you ever think of anybody but yourself?" he said.

Irene's lips quivered; then she answered slowly:

"Do you ever think that I found out my mistake--my hopeless,
terrible mistake--the very first week of our marriage; that I went
on trying three years--you know I went on trying?  Was it for

Soames gritted his teeth.  "God knows what it was.  I've never
understood you; I shall never understand you.  You had everything
you wanted; and you can have it again, and more.  What's the matter
with me?  I ask you a plain question: What is it?"  Unconscious of
the pathos in that enquiry, he went on passionately: "I'm not lame,
I'm not loathsome, I'm not a boor, I'm not a fool.  What is it?
What's the mystery about me?"

Her answer was a long sigh.

He clasped his hands with a gesture that for him was strangely full
of expression.  "When I came here to-night I was--I hoped--I meant
everything that I could to do away with the past, and start fair
again.  And you meet me with 'nerves,' and silence, and sighs.
There's nothing tangible.  It's like--it's like a spider's web."


That whisper from across the room maddened Soames afresh.

"Well, I don't choose to be in a spider's web.  I'll cut it."  He
walked straight up to her.  "Now!"  What he had gone up to her to
do he really did not know.  But when he was close, the old familiar
scent of her clothes suddenly affected him.  He put his hands on
her shoulders and bent forward to kiss her.  He kissed not her
lips, but a little hard line where the lips had been drawn in; then
his face was pressed away by her hands; he heard her say: "Oh!
No!"  Shame, compunction, sense of futility flooded his whole
being, he turned on his heel and went straight out.



Jolyon found June waiting on the platform at Paddington.  She had
received his telegram while at breakfast.  Her abode--a studio and
two bedrooms in a St. John's Wood garden--had been selected by her
for the complete independence which it guaranteed.  Unwatched by
Mrs. Grundy, unhindered by permanent domestics, she could receive
lame ducks at any hour of day or night, and not seldom had a duck
without studio of its own made use of June's.  She enjoyed her
freedom, and possessed herself with a sort of virginal passion; the
warmth which she would have lavished on Bosinney, and of which--
given her Forsyte tenacity--he must surely have tired, she now
expended in championship of the underdogs and budding 'geniuses' of
the artistic world.  She lived, in fact, to turn ducks into the
swans she believed they were.  The very fervour of her protection
warped her judgments.  But she was loyal and liberal; her small
eager hand was ever against the oppressions of academic and
commercial opinion, and though her income was considerable, her
bank balance was often a minus quantity.

She had come to Paddington Station heated in her soul by a visit to
Eric Cobbley.  A miserable Gallery had refused to let that
straight-haired genius have his one-man show after all.  Its
impudent manager, after visiting his studio, had expressed the
opinion that it would only be a 'one-horse show from the selling
point of view.'  This crowning example of commercial cowardice
towards her favourite lame duck--and he so hard up, with a wife and
two children, that he had caused her account to be overdrawn--was
still making the blood glow in her small, resolute face, and her
red-gold hair to shine more than ever.  She gave her father a hug,
and got into a cab with him, having as many fish to fry with him as
he with her.  It became at once a question which would fry them

Jolyon had reached the words: "My dear, I want you to come with
me," when, glancing at her face, he perceived by her blue eyes
moving from side to side--like the tail of a preoccupied cat that
she was not attending.  "Dad, is it true that I absolutely can't
get at any of my money?"

"Only the income, fortunately, my love."

"How perfectly beastly!  Can't it be done somehow?  There must be a
way.  I know I could buy a small Gallery for ten thousand pounds."

"A small Gallery," murmured Jolyon, "seems a modest desire.  But
your grandfather foresaw it."

"I think," cried June vigorously, "that all this care about money
is awful, when there's so much genius in the world simply crushed
out for want of a little.  I shall never marry and have children;
why shouldn't I be able to do some good instead of having it all
tied up in case of things which will never come off?"

"Our name is Forsyte, my dear," replied Jolyon in the ironical
voice to which his impetuous daughter had never quite grown
accustomed; "and Forsytes, you know, are people who so settle their
property that their grandchildren, in case they should die before
their parents, have to make wills leaving the property that will
only come to themselves when their parents die.  Do you follow
that?  Nor do I, but it's a fact, anyway; we live by the principle
that so long as there is a possibility of keeping wealth in the
family it must not go out; if you die unmarried, your money goes to
Jolly and Holly and their children if they marry.  Isn't it
pleasant to know that whatever you do you can none of you be

"But can't I borrow the money?"

Jolyon shook his head.  "You could rent a Gallery, no doubt, if you
could manage it out of your income."

June uttered a contemptuous sound.

"Yes; and have no income left to help anybody with."

"My dear child," murmured Jolyon, "wouldn't it come to the same

"No," said June shrewdly, "I could buy for ten thousand; that would
only be four hundred a year.  But I should have to pay a thousand a
year rent, and that would only leave me five hundred.  If I had the
Gallery, Dad, think what I could do.  I could make Eric Cobbley's
name in no time, and ever so many others."

"Names worth making make themselves in time."

"When they're dead."

"Did you ever know anybody living, my dear, improved by having his
name made?"

"Yes, you," said June, pressing his arm.

Jolyon started.  'I?' he thought.  'Oh!  Ah!  Now she's going to
ask me to do something.  We take it out, we Forsytes, each in our
different ways.'

June came closer to him in the cab.

"Darling," she said, "you buy the Gallery, and I'll pay you four
hundred a year for it.  Then neither of us will be any the worse
off.  Besides, it's a splendid investment."

Jolyon wriggled.  "Don't you think," he said, "that for an artist
to buy a Gallery is a bit dubious?  Besides, ten thousand pounds is
a lump, and I'm not a commercial character."

June looked at him with admiring appraisement.

"Of course you're not, but you're awfully businesslike.  And I'm
sure we could make it pay.  It'll be a perfect way of scoring off
those wretched dealers and people."  And again she squeezed her
father's arm.

Jolyon's face expressed quizzical despair.

"Where is this desirable Gallery?  Splendidly situated, I suppose?"

"Just off Cork Street."

'Ah!'  thought Jolyon, 'I knew it was just off somewhere.  Now for
what I want out of her!'

"Well, I'll think of it, but not just now.  You remember Irene?  I
want you to come with me and see her.  Soames is after her again.
She might be safer if we could give her asylum somewhere."

The word asylum, which he had used by chance, was of all most
calculated to rouse June's interest.

"Irene!  I haven't seen her since!  Of course!  I'd love to help

It was Jolyon's turn to squeeze her arm, in warm admiration for
this spirited, generous-hearted little creature of his begetting.

"Irene is proud," he said, with a sidelong glance, in sudden doubt
of June's discretion; "she's difficult to help.  We must tread
gently.  This is the place.  I wired her to expect us.  Let's send
up our cards."

"I can't bear Soames," said June as she got out; "he sneers at
everything that isn't successful"

Irene was in what was called the 'Ladies' drawing-room' of the
Piedmont Hotel.

Nothing if not morally courageous, June walked straight up to her
former friend, kissed her cheek, and the two settled down on a sofa
never sat on since the hotel's foundation.  Jolyon could see that
Irene was deeply affected by this simple forgiveness.

"So Soames has been worrying you?" he said.

"I had a visit from him last night; he wants me to go back to him."

"You're not going, of course?" cried June.

Irene smiled faintly and shook her head.  "But his position is
horrible," she murmured.

"It's his own fault; he ought to have divorced you when he could."

Jolyon remembered how fervently in the old days June had hoped
that no divorce would smirch her dead and faithless lover's name.

"Let us hear what Irene is going to do," he said.

Irene's lips quivered, but she spoke calmly.

"I'd better give him fresh excuse to get rid of me."

"How horrible!"   cried June.

"What else can I do?"

"Out of the question," said Jolyon very quietly, "sans amour."

He thought she was going to cry; but, getting up quickly, she half
turned her back on them, and stood regaining control of herself.

June said suddenly:

"Well, I shall go to Soames and tell him he must leave you alone.
What does he want at his age?"

"A child.  It's not unnatural"

"A child!" cried June scornfully.  "Of course!  To leave his money
to.  If he wants one badly enough let him take somebody and have
one; then you can divorce him, and he can marry her."

Jolyon perceived suddenly that he had made a mistake to bring June-

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