List Of Contents | Contents of Indian Summer of a Forsyte, by John Galsworthy
< < Previous Page     Next Page > >

sallied times without number to cricket on the lawn, and a
mysterious game called 'Wopsy-doozle,' not to be understood by
outsiders, which made old Jolyon very hot.  Here once on a warm
night Holly had appeared in her 'nighty,' having had a bad dream,
to have the clutch of it released.  And here Jolly, having begun
the day badly by introducing fizzy magnesia into Mademoiselle
Beauce's new-laid egg, and gone on to worse, had been sent down (in
the absence of his father) to the ensuing dialogue:

"Now, my boy, you mustn't go on like this."

"Well, she boxed my ears, Gran, so I only boxed hers, and then she
boxed mine again."

"Strike a lady?  That'll never do!  Have you begged her pardon?"

"Not yet."

"Then you must go and do it at once.  Come along."

"But she began it, Gran; and she had two to my one."

"My dear, it was an outrageous thing to do."

"Well, she lost her temper; and I didn't lose mine."

"Come along."

"You come too, then, Gran."

"Well--this time only."

And they had gone hand in hand.

Here--where the Waverley novels and Byron's works and Gibbon's
Roman Empire and Humboldt's Cosmos, and the bronzes on the
mantelpiece, and that masterpiece of the oily school, 'Dutch
Fishing-Boats at Sunset,' were fixed as fate, and for all sign of
change old Jolyon might have been sitting there still, with legs
crossed, in the arm chair, and domed forehead and deep eyes grave
above The Times--here they came, those two grandchildren.  And
Jolly said:

"I saw you and that fellow in the Park."

The sight of blood rushing into her cheeks gave him some
satisfaction; she ought to be ashamed!

"Well?" she said.

Jolly was surprised; he had expected more, or less.

"Do you know," he said weightily, "that he called me a pro-Boer
last term?  And I had to fight him."

"Who won?"

Jolly wished to answer: 'I should have,' but it seemed beneath him.

"Look here!" he said, "what's the meaning of it?  Without telling

"Why should I?  Dad isn't here; why shouldn't I ride with him?"

"You've got me to ride with.  I think he's an awful young rotter."

Holly went pale with anger.

"He isn't.  It's your own fault for not liking him."

And slipping past her brother she went out, leaving him staring at
the bronze Venus sitting on a tortoise, which had been shielded
from him so far by his sister's dark head under her soft felt
riding hat.  He felt queerly disturbed, shaken to his young
foundations.  A lifelong domination lay shattered round his feet.
He went up to the Venus and mechanically inspected the tortoise.

Why didn't he like Val Dartie?  He could not tell.  Ignorant of
family history, barely aware of that vague feud which had started
thirteen years before with Bosinney's defection from June in favour
of Soames' wife, knowing really almost nothing about Val he was at
sea.  He just did dislike him.  The question, however, was: What
should he do?  Val Dartie, it was true, was a second-cousin, but it
was not the thing for Holly to go about with him.  And yet to
'tell' of what he had chanced on was against his creed.  In this
dilemma he went and sat in the old leather chair and crossed his
legs.  It grew dark while he sat there staring out through the long
window at the old oak-tree, ample yet bare of leaves, becoming
slowly just a shape of deeper dark printed on the dusk.

'Grandfather!' he thought without sequence, and took out his watch.
He could not see the hands, but he set the repeater going.  'Five
o'clock!'  His grandfather's first gold hunter watch, butter-smooth
with age--all the milling worn from it, and dented with the mark of
many a fall.  The chime was like a little voice from out of that
golden age, when they first came from St.  John's Wood, London, to
this house--came driving with grandfather in his carriage, and
almost instantly took to the trees.  Trees to climb, and grand-
father watering the geranium-beds below!  What was to be done?
Tell Dad he must come home?  Confide in June?--only she was so--so
sudden!  Do nothing and trust to luck?  After all, the Vac.  would
soon be over.  Go up and see Val and warn him off?  But how get his
address?  Holly wouldn't give it him!  A maze of paths, a cloud of
possibilities!  He lit a cigarette.  When he had smoked it halfway
through his brow relaxed, almost as if some thin old hand had been
passed gently over it; and in his ear something seemed to whisper:
'Do nothing; be nice to Holly, be nice to her, my dear!'  And Jolly
heaved a sigh of contentment, blowing smoke through his,

But up in her room, divested of her habit, Holly was still
frowning.  'He is not--he is not!'  were the words which kept
forming on her lips.



A little private hotel over a well-known restaurant near the Gare
St. Lazare was Jolyon's haunt in Paris.  He hated his fellow
Forsytes abroad--vapid as fish out of water in their well-trodden
runs, the Opera, Rue de Rivoli, and Moulin Rouge.  Their air of
having come because they wanted to be somewhere else as soon as
possible annoyed him.  But no other Forsyte came near this haunt,
where he had a wood fire in his bedroom and the coffee was excel-
lent.  Paris was always to him more attractive in winter.  The
acrid savour from woodsmoke and chestnut-roasting braziers, the
sharpness of the wintry sunshine on bright rays, the open cafes
defying keen-aired winter, the self-contained brisk boulevard
crowds, all informed him that in winter Paris possessed a soul
which, like a migrant bird, in high summer flew away.

He spoke French well, had some friends, knew little places where
pleasant dishes could be met with, queer types observed.  He felt
philosophic in Paris, the edge of irony sharpened; life took on a
subtle, purposeless meaning, became a bunch of flavours tasted, a
darkness shot with shifting gleams of light.

When in the first week of December he decided to go to Paris, he
was far from admitting that Irene's presence was influencing him.
He had not been there two days before he owned that the wish to see
her had been more than half the reason.  In England one did not
admit what was natural.  He had thought it might be well to speak
to her about the letting of her flat and other matters, but in
Paris he at once knew better.  There was a glamour over the city.
On the third day he wrote to her, and received an answer which
procured him a pleasurable shiver of the nerves:


"It will be a happiness for me to see you.


He took his way to her hotel on a bright day with a feeling such as
he had often had going to visit an adored picture.  No woman, so
far as he remembered, had ever inspired in him this special sen-
suous and yet impersonal sensation.  He was going to sit and feast
his eyes, and come away knowing her no better, but ready to go and
feast his eyes again to-morrow.  Such was his feeling, when in the
tarnished and ornate little lounge of a quiet hotel near the river
she came to him preceded by a small page-boy who uttered the word,
"Madame," and vanished.  Her face, her smile, the poise of her
figure, were just as he had pictured, and the expression of her
face said plainly: 'A friend!'

"Well," he said, "what news, poor exile?"


"Nothing from Soames?"


"I have let the flat for you, and like a good steward I bring you
some money.  How do you like Paris?"

While he put her through this catechism, it seemed to him that he
had never seen lips so fine and sensitive, the lower lip curving
just a little upwards, the upper touched at one corner by the least
conceivable dimple.  It was like discovering a woman in what had
hitherto been a sort of soft and breathed-on statue, almost
impersonally admired.  She owned that to be alone in Paris was a
little difficult; and yet, Paris was so full of its own life that
it was often, she confessed, as innocuous as a desert.  Besides,
the English were not liked just now!

"That will hardly be your case," said Jolyon; "you should appeal to
the French."

"It has its disadvantages."

Jolyon nodded.

"Well, you must let me take you about while I'm here.  We'll start
to-morrow.  Come and dine at my pet restaurant; and we'll go to the

It was the beginning of daily meetings.

Jolyon soon found that for those who desired a static condition of
the affections, Paris was at once the first and last place in which
to be friendly with a pretty woman.  Revelation was alighting like
a bird in his heart, singing: 'Elle est ton reve!  Elle est ton
reve!  Sometimes this seemed natural, sometimes ludicrous--a bad
case of elderly rapture.  Having once been ostracised by Society,
he had never since had any real regard for conventional morality;
but the idea of a love which she could never return--and how could
she at his age?--hardly mounted beyond his subconscious mind.  He
was full, too, of resentment, at the waste and loneliness of her
life.  Aware of being some comfort to her, and of the pleasure she
clearly took in their many little outings, he was amiably desirous
of doing and saying nothing to destroy that pleasure.  It was like
watching a starved plant draw up water, to see her drink--in his
companionship.  So far as they could tell, no one knew her address
except himself; she was unknown in Paris, and he but little known,
so that discretion seemed unnecessary in those walks, talks, visits
to concerts, picture-galleries, theatres, little dinners,
expeditions to Versailles, St. Cloud, even Fontainebleau.  And time
fled--one of those full months without past to it or future.  What
in his youth would certainly have been headlong passion, was now
perhaps as deep a feeling, but far gentler, tempered to protective
companionship by admiration, hopelessness, and a sense of chivalry-
-arrested in his veins at least so long as she was there, smiling
and happy in their friendship, and always to him more beautiful and
spiritually responsive: for her philosophy of life seemed to march
in admirable step with his own, conditioned by emotion more than by
reason, ironically mistrustful, susceptible to beauty, almost
passionately humane and tolerant, yet subject to instinctive
rigidities of which as a mere man he was less capable.  And during
all this companionable month he never quite lost that feeling with
which he had set out on the first day as if to visit an adored work
of art, a well-nigh impersonal desire.  The future--inexorable
pendant to the present he took care not to face, for fear of
breaking up his untroubled manner; but he made plans to renew this
time in places still more delightful, where the sun was hot and
there were strange things to see and paint.  The end came swiftly
on the 20th of January with a telegram:

"Have enlisted in Imperial Yeomanry.

Jolyon received it just as he was setting out to meet her at the
Louvre.  It brought him up with a round turn.  While he was lotus-
eating here, his boy, whose philosopher and guide he ought to be,
had taken this great step towards danger, hardship, perhaps even
death.  He felt disturbed to the soul, realising suddenly how Irene
had twined herself round the roots of his being.  Thus threatened
with severance, the tie between them--for it had become a kind of
tie--no longer had impersonal quality.  The tranquil enjoyment of
things in common, Jolyon perceived, was gone for ever.  He saw his
feeling as it was, in the nature of an infatuation.  Ridiculous,
perhaps, but so real that sooner or later it must disclose itself.
And now, as it seemed to him, he could not, must not, make any such
disclosure.  The news of Jolly stood inexorably in the way.  He was
proud of this enlistment; proud of his boy for going off to fight
for the country; for on Jolyon's pro-Boerism, too, Black Week had
left its mark.  And so the end was reached before the beginning!
Well, luckily he had never made a sign!

When he came into the Gallery she was standing before the 'Virgin
of the Rocks,' graceful, absorbed, smiling and unconscious.  'Have
I to give up seeing that?' he thought.  'It's unnatural, so long as
she's willing that I should see her.'  He stood, unnoticed,
watching her, storing up the image of her figure, envying the
picture on which she was bending that long scrutiny.  Twice she
turned her head towards the entrance, and he thought: 'That's for
me!'  At last he went forward.

"Look!" he said.

She read the telegram, and he heard her sigh.

That sigh, too, was for him!  His position was really cruel!  To be
loyal to his son he must just shake her hand and go.  To be loyal
to the feeling in his heart he must at least tell her what that
feeling was.  Could she, would she understand the silence in which
he was gazing at that picture?

"I'm afraid I must go home at once," he said at last.  "I shall
miss all this awfully."

"So shall I; but, of course, you must go."

"Well!" said Jolyon holding out his hand.

Meeting her eyes, a flood of feeling nearly mastered him.

"Such is life!" he said.  "Take care of yourself, my dear!"

He had a stumbling sensation in his legs and feet, as if his brain
refused to steer him away from her.  From the doorway, he saw her
lift her hand and touch its fingers with her lips.  He raised his
hat solemnly, and did not look back again.



The suit--Dartie versus Dartie--for restitution of those conjugal
rights concerning which Winifred was at heart so deeply undecided,
followed the laws of subtraction towards day of judgment.  This was
not reached before the Courts rose for Christmas, but the case was
third on the list when they sat again.  Winifred spent the
Christmas holidays a thought more fashionably than usual, with the
matter locked up in her low-cut bosom.  James was particularly
liberal to her that Christmas, expressing thereby his sympathy, and
relief, at the approaching dissolution of her marriage with that
'precious rascal,' which his old heart felt but his old lips could
not utter.

The disappearance of Dartie made the fall in Consols a
comparatively small matter; and as to the scandal--the real animus
he felt against that fellow, and the increasing lead which property
was attaining over reputation in a true Forsyte about to leave this
world, served to drug a mind from which all allusions to the matter
(except his own) were studiously kept.  What worried him as a
lawyer and a parent was the fear that Dartie might suddenly turn up
and obey the Order of the Court when made.  That would be a pretty
how-de-do!  The fear preyed on him in fact so much that, in
presenting Winifred with a large Christmas cheque, he said: "It's
chiefly for that chap out there; to keep him from coming back."  It
was, of course, to pitch away good money, but all in the nature of
insurance against that bankruptcy which would no longer hang over
him if only the divorce went through; and he questioned Winifred
rigorously until she could assure him that the money had been sent.
Poor woman!--it cost her many a pang to send what must find its way
into the vanity-bag of 'that creature!'  Soames, hearing of it,

< < Previous Page     Next Page > >

Other sites: