List Of Contents | Contents of Indian Summer of a Forsyte, by John Galsworthy
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even, which struck Val as particularly beastly; there was more
talking, all humbug; and then the Judge pronounced the decree for
restitution, and they got up to go.  Val walked out behind his
mother, chin squared, eyelids drooped, doing his level best to
despise everybody.  His mother's voice in the corridor roused him
from an angry trance.

"You behaved beautifully, dear.  It was such a comfort to have you.
Your uncle and I are going to lunch."

"All right," said Val; "I shall have time to go and see that
fellow."  And, parting from them abruptly, he ran down the stairs
and out into the air.  He bolted into a hansom, and drove to the
Goat's Club.  His thoughts were on Holly and what he must do before
her brother showed her this thing in to-morrow's paper.

When Val had left them Soames and Winifred made their way to the
Cheshire Cheese.  He had suggested it as a meeting place with Mr.
Bellby.  At that early hour of noon they would have it to
themselves, and Winifred had thought it would be 'amusing' to see
this far-famed hostelry.  Having ordered a light repast, to the
consternation of the waiter, they awaited its arrival together with
that of Mr. Bellby, in silent reaction after the hour and a half's
suspense on the tenterhooks of publicity.  Mr. Bellby entered
presently, preceded by his nose, as cheerful as they were glum.
Well! they had got the decree of restitution, and what was the
matter with that!

"Quite," said Soames in a suitably low voice, "but we shall have to
begin again to get evidence.  He'll probably try the divorce--it
will look fishy if it comes out that we knew of misconduct from the
start.  His questions showed well enough that he doesn't like this
restitution dodge."

"Pho!" said Mr. Bellby cheerily, "he'll forget!  Why, man, he'll
have tried a hundred cases between now and then.  Besides, he's
bound by precedent to give ye your divorce, if the evidence is
satisfactory.  We won't let um know that Mrs. Dartie had knowledge
of the facts.  Dreamer did it very nicely--he's got a fatherly
touch about um!"

Soames nodded.

"And I compliment ye, Mrs. Dartie," went on Mr. Bellby; "ye've a
natural gift for giving evidence.  Steady as a rock."

Here the, waiter arrived with three plates balanced on one arm, and
the remark: "I 'urried up the pudden, sir.  You'll find plenty o'
lark in it to-day."

Mr. Bellby applauded his forethought with a dip of his nose.  But
Soames and Winifred looked with dismay at their light lunch of
graviffred brown masses, touching them gingerly with their forks in
the hope of distinguishing the bodies of the tasty little song-
givers.  Having begun, however, they found they were hungrier than
they thought, and finished the lot, with a glass of port apiece.
Conversation turned on the war.  Soames thought Ladysmith would
fall, and it might last a year.  Bellby thought it would be over by
the summer.  Both agreed that they wanted more men.  There was
nothing for it but complete victory, since it was now a question of
prestige.  Winifred brought things back to more solid ground by
saying that she did not want the divorce suit to come on till after
the summer holidays had begun at Oxford, then the boys would have
forgotten about it before Val had to go up again; the London season
too would be over.  The lawyers reassured her, an interval of six
months was necessary--after that the earlier the better.  People
were now beginning to come in, and they parted--Soames to the city,
Bellby to his chambers, Winifred in a hansom to Park Lane to let
her mother know how she had fared.  The issue had been so
satisfactory on the whole that it was considered advisable to tell
James, who never failed to say day after day that he didn't know
about Winifred's affair, he couldn't tell.  As his sands ran out;
the importance of mundane matters became increasingly grave to him,
as if he were feeling: 'I must make the most of it, and worry well;
I shall soon have nothing to worry about.'

He received the report grudgingly.  It was a new-fangled way of
going about things, and he didn't know!  But he gave Winifred a
cheque, saying:

"I expect you'll have a lot of expense.  That's a new hat you've
got on.  Why doesn't Val come and see us?"

Winifred promised to bring him to dinner soon.  And, going home,
she sought her bedroom where she could be alone.  Now that her
husband had been ordered back into her custody with a view to
putting him away from her for ever, she would try once more to find
out from her sore and lonely heart what she really wanted.



The morning had been misty, verging on frost, but the sun came out
while Val was jogging towards the Roehampton Gate, whence he would
canter on to the usual tryst.  His spirits were rising rapidly.
There had been nothing so very terrible in the morning's
proceedings beyond the general disgrace of violated privacy.  'If
we were engaged!'  he thought, 'what happens wouldn't matter.'  He
felt, indeed, like human society, which kicks and clamours at the
results of matrimony, and hastens to get married.  And he galloped
over the winter-dried grass of Richmond Park, fearing to be late.
But again he was alone at the trysting spot, and this second
defection on the part of Holly upset him dreadfully.  He could not
go back without seeing her to-day!  Emerging from the Park, he
proceeded towards Robin Hill.  He could not make up his mind for
whom to ask.  Suppose her father were back, or her sister or
brother were in!  He decided to gamble, and ask for them all first,
so that if he were in luck and they were not there, it would be
quite natural in the end to ask for Holly; while if any of them
were in--an 'excuse for a ride' must be his saving grace.

"Only Miss Holly is in, sir."

"Oh!  thanks.  Might I take my horse round to the stables?  And
would you say--her cousin, Mr. Val Dartie."

When he returned she was in the hall, very flushed and shy.  She
led him to the far end, and they sat down on a wide window-seat.

"I've been awfully anxious," said Val in a low voice.  "What's the

"Jolly knows about our riding."

"Is he in?"

"No; but I expect he will be soon."

"Then!" cried Val, and diving forward, he seized her hand.  She
tried to withdraw it, failed, gave up the attempt, and looked at
him wistfully.

"First of all," he said, "I want to tell you something about my
family.  My Dad, you know, isn't altogether--I mean, he's left my
mother and they're trying to divorce him; so they've ordered him to
come back, you see.  You'll see that in the paper to-morrow."

Her eyes deepened in colour and fearful interest; her hand squeezed
his.  But the gambler in Val was roused now, and he hurried on:

"Of course there's nothing very much at present, but there will be,
I expect, before it's over; divorce suits are beastly, you know.  I
wanted to tell you, because--because--you ought to know--if--" and
he began to stammer, gazing at her troubled eyes, "if--if you're
going to be a darling and love me, Holly.  I love you--ever so; and
I want to be engaged."  He had done it in a manner so inadequate
that he could have punched his own head; and dropping on his knees,
he tried to get nearer to that soft, troubled face.  "You do love
me--don't you?  If you don't I...." There was a moment of silence
and suspense, so awful that he could hear the sound of a mowing-
machine far out on the lawn pretending there was grass to cut.
Then she swayed forward; her free hand touched his hair, and he
gasped: "Oh, Holly!"

Her answer was very soft: "Oh, Val!"

He had dreamed of this moment, but always in an imperative mood, as
the masterful young lover, and now he felt humble, touched,
trembly.  He was afraid to stir off his knees lest he should break
the spell; lest, if he did, she should shrink and deny her own
surrender--so tremulous was she in his grasp, with her eyelids
closed and his lips nearing them.  Her eyes opened, seemed to swim
a little; he pressed his lips to hers.  Suddenly he sprang up;
there had been footsteps, a sort of startled grunt.  He looked
round.  No one!  But the long curtains which barred off the outer
hall were quivering.

"My God!  Who was that?"

Holly too was on her feet.

"Jolly, I expect," she whispered.

Val clenched fists and resolution.

"All right!" he said, "I don't care a bit now we're engaged," and
striding towards the curtains, he drew them aside.  There at the
fireplace in the hall stood Jolly, with his back elaborately
turned.  Val went forward.  Jolly faced round on him.

"I beg your pardon for hearing," he said.

With the best intentions in the world, Val could not help admiring
him at that moment; his face was clear, his voice quiet, he looked
somehow distinguished, as if acting up to principle.

"Well!" Val said abruptly, "it's nothing to you."

"Oh!" said Jolly; "you come this way," and he crossed the hall.
Val followed.  At the study door he felt a touch on his arm;
Holly's voice said:

"I'm coming too."

"No," said Jolly.

"Yes," said Holly.

Jolly opened the door, and they all three went in.  Once in the
little room, they stood in a sort of triangle on three corners of
the worn Turkey carpet; awkwardly upright, not looking at each
other, quite incapable of seeing any humour in the situation.

Val broke the silence.

"Holly and I are engaged.",

Jolly stepped back and leaned against the lintel of the window.

"This is our house," he said; "I'm not going to insult you in it.
But my father's away.  I'm in charge of my sister.  You've taken
advantage of me.

"I didn't mean to," said Val hotly.

"I think you did," said Jolly.  "If you hadn't meant to, you'd have
spoken to me, or waited for my father to come back."

"There were reasons," said Val.

"What reasons?"

"About my family--I've just told her.  I wanted her to know before
things happen."

Jolly suddenly became less distinguished.

"You're kids," he said, "and you know you are.

"I am not a kid," said Val.

"You are--you're not twenty."

"Well, what are you?"

"I am twenty," said Jolly.

"Only just; anyway, I'm as good a man as you."

Jolly's face crimsoned, then clouded.  Some struggle was evidently
taking place in him; and Val and Holly stared at him, so clearly
was that struggle marked; they could even hear him breathing.  Then
his face cleared up and became oddly resolute.

"We'll see that," he said.  "I dare you to do what I'm going to

"Dare me?"

Jolly smiled.  "Yes," he said, "dare you; and I know very well you

A stab of misgiving shot through Val; this was riding very blind.

"I haven't forgotten that you're a fire-eater," said Jolly slowly,
"and I think that's about all you are; or that you called me a

Val heard a gasp above the sound of his own hard breathing, and saw
Holly's face poked a little forward, very pale, with big eyes.

"Yes," went on Jolly with a sort of smile, "we shall soon see.  I'm
going to join the Imperial Yeomanry, and I dare you to do the same,
Mr. Val Dartie."

Val's head jerked on its stem.  It was like a blow between the
eyes, so utterly unthought of, so extreme and ugly in the midst of
his dreaming; and he looked at Holly with eyes grown suddenly,
touchingly haggard.

"Sit down!" said Jolly.  "Take your time!  Think it over well."
And he himself sat down on the arm of his grandfather's chair.

Val did not sit down; he stood with hands thrust deep into his
breeches' pockets-hands clenched and quivering.  The full awfulness
of this decision one way or the other knocked at his mind with
double knocks as of an angry postman.  If he did not take that
'dare' he was disgraced in Holly's eyes, and in the eyes of that
young enemy, her brute of a brother.  Yet if he took it, ah! then
all would vanish--her face, her eyes, her hair, her kisses just

"Take your time," said Jolly again; "I don't want to be unfair."

And they both looked at Holly.  She had recoiled against the
bookshelves reaching to the ceiling; her dark head leaned against
Gibbon's Roman Empire, her eyes in a sort of soft grey agony were
fixed on Val.  And he, who had not much gift of insight, had
suddenly a gleam of vision.  She would be proud of her brother--
that enemy!  She would be ashamed of him!  His hands came out of
his pockets as if lifted by a spring.

"All right!" he said.  "Done!"

Holly's face-oh! it was queer!  He saw her flush, start forward.
He had done the right thing--her face was shining with wistful
admiration.  Jolly stood up and made a little bow as who should
say: 'You've passed.'

"To-morrow, then," he said, "we'll go together."

Recovering from the impetus which had carried him to that decision,
Val looked at him maliciously from under his lashes.  'All right,'
he thought, 'one to you.  I shall have to join--but I'll get back
on you somehow.'  And he said with dignity: "I shall be ready."

"We'll meet at the main Recruiting Office, then," said Jolly, "at
twelve o'clock."  And, opening the window, he went out on to the
terrace, conforming to the creed which had made him retire when he
surprised them in the hall.

The confusion in the mind of Val thus left alone with her for whom
he had paid this sudden price was extreme.  The mood of 'showing-
off' was still, however, uppermost.  One must do the wretched thing
with an air.

"We shall get plenty of riding and shooting, anyway," he said;
"that's one comfort."  And it gave him a sort of grim pleasure to
hear the sigh which seemed to come from the bottom of her heart.

"Oh! the war'll soon be over," he said; "perhaps we shan't even
have to go out.  I don't care, except for you."  He would be out of
the way of that beastly divorce.  It was an ill-wind!  He felt her
warm hand slip into his.  Jolly thought he had stopped their loving
each other, did he?  He held her tightly round the waist, looking
at her softly through his lashes, smiling to cheer her up,
promising to come down and see her soon, feeling somehow six inches
taller and much more in command of her than he had ever dared feel
before.  Many times he kissed her before he mounted and rode back
to town.  So, swiftly, on the least provocation, does the
possessive instinct flourish and grow.



Dinner parties were not now given at James' in Park Lane--to every
house the moment comes when Master or Mistress is no longer 'up to
it'; no more can nine courses be served to twenty mouths above
twenty fine white expanses; nor does the household cat any longer
wonder why she is suddenly shut up.

So with something like excitement Emily--who at seventy would still
have liked a little feast and fashion now and then--ordered dinner
for six instead of two, herself wrote a number of foreign words on
cards, and arranged the flowers--mimosa from the Riviera, and white
Roman hyacinths not from Rome.  There would only be, of course,
James and herself, Soames, Winifred, Val, and Imogen--but she liked
to pretend a little and dally in imagination with the glory of the
past.  She so dressed herself that James remarked:

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