List Of Contents | Contents of Indian Summer of a Forsyte, by John Galsworthy
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shook his head.  They were not dealing with a Forsyte, reasonably
tenacious of his purpose.  It was very risky without knowing how
the land lay out there.  Still, it would look well with the Court;
and he would see that Dreamer brought it out.  "I wonder," he said
suddenly, "where that ballet goes after the Argentine"; never
omitting a chance of reminder; for he knew that Winifred still had
a weakness, if not for Dartie, at least for not laundering him in
public.  Though not good at showing admiration, he admitted that
she was behaving extremely well, with all her children at home
gaping like young birds for news of their father--Imogen just on
the point of coming out, and Val very restive about the whole
thing.  He felt that Val was the real heart of the matter to
Winifred, who certainly loved him beyond her other children.  The
boy could spoke the wheel of this divorce yet if he set his mind to
it.  And Soames was very careful to keep the proximity of the
preliminary proceedings from his nephew's ears.  He did more.  He
asked him to dine at the Remove, and over Val's cigar introduced
the subject which he knew to be nearest to his heart.

"I hear," he said, "that you want to play polo up at Oxford."

Val became less recumbent in his chair.

"Rather!" he said.

"Well," continued Soames, "that's a very expensive business.  Your
grandfather isn't likely to consent to it unless he can make sure
that he's not got any other drain on him."  And he paused to see
whether the boy understood his meaning.

Val's thick dark lashes concealed his eyes, but a slight grimace
appeared on his wide mouth, and he muttered:

"I suppose you mean my Dad!"

"Yes," said Soames; "I'm afraid it depends on whether he continues
to be a drag or not;" and said no more, letting the boy dream it

But Val was also dreaming in those days of a silver-roan palfrey
and a girl riding it.  Though Crum was in town and an introduction
to Cynthia Dark to be had for the asking, Val did not ask; indeed,
he shunned Crum and lived a life strange even to himself, except in
so far as accounts with tailor and livery stable were concerned.
To his mother, his sisters, his young brother, he seemed to spend
this Vacation in 'seeing fellows,' and his evenings sleepily at
home.  They could not propose anything in daylight that did not
meet with the one response: "Sorry; I've got to see a fellow"; and
he was put to extraordinary shifts to get in and out of the house
unobserved in riding clothes; until, being made a member of the
Goat's Club, he was able to transport them there, where he could
change unregarded and slip off on his hack to Richmond Park.  He
kept his growing sentiment religiously to himself.  Not for a world
would he breathe to the 'fellows,' whom he was not 'seeing,'
anything so ridiculous from the point of view of their creed and
his.  But he could not help its destroying his other appetites.  It
was coming between him and the legitimate pleasures of youth at
last on its own in a way which must, he knew, make him a milksop in
the eyes of Crum.  All he cared for was to dress in his last-
created riding togs, and steal away to the Robin Hill Gate, where
presently the silver roan would come demurely sidling with its slim
and dark-haired rider, and in the glades bare of leaves they would
go off side by side, not talking very much, riding races sometimes,
and sometimes holding hands.  More than once of an evening, in a
moment of expansion, he had been tempted to tell his mother how
this shy sweet cousin had stolen in upon him and wrecked his
'life.'  But bitter experience, that all persons above thirty-five
were spoil-sports, prevented him.  After all, he supposed he would
have to go through with College, and she would have to 'come out,'
before they could be married; so why complicate things, so long as
he could see her?  Sisters were teasing and unsympathetic beings, a
brother worse, so there was no one to, confide in.  Ah!  And this
beastly divorce business!  What a misfortune to have a name which
other people hadn't!  If only he had been called Gordon or Scott or
Howard or something fairly common!  But Dartie--there wasn't
another in the directory!  One might as well have been named Morkin
for all the covert it afforded!  So matters went on, till one day
in the middle of January the silver-roan palfrey and its rider were
missing at the tryst.  Lingering in the cold, he debated whether he
should ride on to the house: But Jolly might be there, and the
memory of their dark encounter was still fresh within him.  One
could not be always fighting with her brother!  So he returned
dismally to town and spent an evening plunged in gloom.  At
breakfast next day he noticed that his mother had on an unfamiliar
dress and was wearing her hat.  The dress was black with a glimpse
of peacock blue, the hat black and large--she looked exceptionally
well.  But when after breakfast she said to him, "Come in here,
Val," and led the way to the drawing-room, he was at once beset by
qualms.  Winifred carefully shut the door and passed her
handkerchief over her lips; inhaling the violette de Parme with
which it had been soaked, Val thought: 'Has she found out about

Her voice interrupted

"Are you going to be nice to me, dear boy?" Val grinned doubtfully.

"Will you come with me this morning...."

"I've got to see...."  began Val, but something in her face stopped
him.  "I say," he said, "you don't mean ...."

"Yes, I have to go to the Court this morning."  Already!--that
d---d business which he had almost succeeded in forgetting, since
nobody ever mentioned it.  In self-commiseration he stood picking
little bits of skin off his fingers.  Then noticing that his
mother's lips were all awry, he said impulsively: "All right,
mother; I'll come.  The brutes!"   What brutes he did not know, but
the expression exactly summed up their joint feeling, and restored
a measure of equanimity.

"I suppose I'd better change into a 'shooter,"' he muttered,
escaping to his room.  He put on the 'shooter,' a higher collar, a
pearl pin, and his neatest grey spats, to a somewhat blasphemous
accompaniment.  Looking at himself in the glass, he said, "Well,
I'm damned if I'm going to show anything!" and went down.  He found
his grandfather's carriage at the door, and his mother in furs,
with the appearance of one going to a Mansion House Assembly.  They
seated themselves side by side in the closed barouche, and all the
way to the Courts of Justice Val made but one allusion to the
business in hand.  "There'll be nothing about those pearls, will

The little tufted white tails of Winifred's muff began to shiver.

"Oh, no," she said, "it'll be quite harmless to-day.  Your
grandmother wanted to come too, but I wouldn't let her.  I thought
you could take care of me.  You look so nice, Val.  Just pull your
coat collar up a little more at the back--that's right."

"If they bully you...."  began Val.

"Oh! they won't.  I shall be very cool.  It's the only way."

"They won't want me to give evidence or anything?"

"No, dear; it's all arranged."  And she patted his hand.  The
determined front she was putting on it stayed the turmoil in Val's
chest, and he busied himself in drawing his gloves off and on.  He
had taken what he now saw was the wrong pair to go with his spats;
they should have been grey, but were deerskin of a dark tan;
whether to keep them on or not he could not decide.  They arrived
soon after ten.  It was his first visit to the Law Courts, and the
building struck him at once.

"By Jove!" he said as they passed into the hall, "this'd make four
or five jolly good racket courts."

Soames was awaiting them at the foot of some stairs.

"Here you are!" he said, without shaking hands, as if the event had
made them too familiar for such formalities.  "It's Happerly
Browne, Court I.  We shall be on first."

A sensation such as he had known when going in to bat was playing
now in the top of Val's chest, but he followed his mother and uncle
doggedly, looking at no more than he could help, and thinking that
the place smelled 'fuggy.'  People seemed to be lurking everywhere,
and he plucked Soames by the sleeve.

"I say, Uncle, you're not going to let those beastly papers in, are

Soames gave him the sideway look which had reduced many to silence
in its time.

"In here," he said.  "You needn't take off your furs, Winifred."

Val entered behind them, nettled and with his head up.  In this
confounded hole everybody and there were a good many of them--
seemed sitting on everybody else's knee, though really divided from
each other by pews; and Val had a feeling that they might all slip
down together into the well.  This, however, was but a momentary
vision--of mahogany, and black gowns, and white blobs of wigs and
faces and papers, all rather secret and whispery--before he was
sitting next his mother in the front row, with his back to it all,
glad of her violette de Parme, and taking off his gloves for the
last time.  His mother was looking at him; he was suddenly
conscious that she had really wanted him there next to her, and
that he counted for something in this business.

All right!  He would show them!  Squaring his shoulders, he crossed
his legs and gazed inscrutably at his spats.  But just then an 'old
Johnny' in a gown and long wig, looking awfully like a funny
raddled woman, came through a door into the high pew opposite, and
he had to uncross his legs hastily, and stand up with everybody

'Dartie versus Dartie!'

It seemed to Val unspeakably disgusting to have one's name called
out like this in public!  And, suddenly conscious that someone
nearly behind him had begun talking about his family, he screwed
his face round to see an old be-wigged buffer, who spoke as if he
were eating his own words--queer-looking old cuss, the sort of man
he had seen once or twice dining at Park Lane and punishing the
port; he knew now where they 'dug them up.'  All the same he found
the old buffer quite fascinating, and would have continued to stare
if his mother had not touched his arm.  Reduced to gazing before
him, he fixed his eyes on the Judge's face instead.  Why should
that old 'sportsman' with his sarcastic mouth and his quick-moving
eyes have the power to meddle with their private affairs--hadn't he
affairs of his own, just as many, and probably just as nasty?  And
there moved in Val, like an illness, all the deep-seated
individualism of his breed.  The voice behind him droned along:
"Differences about money matters--extravagance of the respondent"
(What a word!  Was that his father?) "strained situation--frequent
absences on the part of Mr. Dartie.  My client, very rightly, your
Ludship will agree, was anxious to check a course--but lead to
ruin--remonstrated--gambling at cards and on the racecourse--"
('That's right!' thought Val, 'pile it on!') "Crisis early in
October, when the respondent wrote her this letter from his Club."
Val sat up and his ears burned.  "I propose to read it with the
emendations necessary to the epistle of a gentleman who has been--
shall we say dining, me Lud?"

'Old brute!' thought Val, flushing deeper; 'you're not paid to make

"'You will not get the chance to insult me again in my own house.
I am leaving the country to-morrow.  It's played out'--an
expression, your Ludship, not unknown in the mouths of those who
have not met with conspicuous success."

'Sniggering owls!' thought Val, and his flush deepened.

"'I am tired of being insulted by you.'  My client will tell your
Ludship that these so-called insults consisted in her calling him
'the limit' a very mild expression, I venture to suggest, in all
the circumstances."

Val glanced sideways at his mother's impassive face, it had a
hunted look in the eyes.  'Poor mother,' he thought, and touched
her arm with his own.  The voice behind droned on.

"'I am going to live a new life.  M.  D.'"

"And next day, me Lud, the respondent left by the steamship
Tuscarora for Buenos Aires.  Since then we have nothing from him
but a cabled refusal in answer to the letter which my client wrote
the following day in great distress, begging him to return to her.
With your Ludship's permission.  I shall now put Mrs. Dartie in the

When his mother rose, Val had a tremendous impulse to rise too and
say: 'Look here!  I'm going to see you jolly well treat her
decently.'  He subdued it, however; heard her saying, 'the truth,
the whole truth, and nothing but the truth,' and looked up.  She
made a rich figure of it, in her furs and large hat, with a slight
flush on her cheek-bones, calm, matter-of-fact; and he felt proud
of her thus confronting all these 'confounded lawyers.'  The
examination began.  Knowing that this was only the preliminary to
divorce, Val followed with a certain glee the questions framed so
as to give the impression that she really wanted his father back.
It seemed to him that they were 'foxing Old Bagwigs finely.'

And he received a most unpleasant jar when the Judge said suddenly:

"Now, why did your husband leave you--not because you called him
'the limit,' you know?"

Val saw his uncle lift his eyes to the witness box, without moving
his face; heard a shuffle of papers behind him; and instinct told
him that the issue was in peril.  Had Uncle Soames and the old
buffer behind made a mess of it?  His mother was speaking with a
slight drawl.

"No, my Lord, but it had gone on a long time."

"What had gone on?"

"Our differences about money."

"But you supplied the money.  Do you suggest that he left you to
better his position?"

'The brute!  The old brute, and nothing but the brute!'  thought
Val suddenly.  'He smells a rat he's trying to get at the pastry!'
And his heart stood still.  If--if he did, then, of course, he
would know that his mother didn't really want his father back.  His
mother spoke again, a thought more fashionably.

"No, my Lord, but you see I had refused to give him any more money.
It took him a long time to believe that, but he did at last--and
when he did...."

"I see, you had refused.  But you've sent him some since."

"My Lord, I wanted him back."

"And you thought that would bring him?"

"I don't know, my Lord, I acted on my father's advice."

Something in the Judge's face, in the sound of the papers behind
him, in the sudden crossing of his uncle's legs, told Val that she
had made just the right answer.  'Crafty!'  he thought; 'by Jove,
what humbug it all is!'

The Judge was speaking:

"Just one more question, Mrs. Dartie.  Are you still fond of your

Val's hands, slack behind him, became fists.  What business had
that Judge to make things human suddenly?  To make his mother speak
out of her heart, and say what, perhaps, she didn't know herself,
before all these people!  It wasn't decent.  His mother answered,
rather low: "Yes, my Lord."  Val saw the Judge nod.  'Wish I could
take a cock-shy at your head!' he thought irreverently, as his
mother came back to her seat beside him.  Witnesses to his father's
departure and continued absence followed--one of their own maids

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