List Of Contents | Contents of Indian Summer of a Forsyte, by John Galsworthy
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her playing too, and the Nocturne she had chosen and the soft
darkness of her eyes, the light on her hair, as of moonlight from a
golden moon.  Seductive, yes; but nothing of Delilah in her or in
that music.  A long blue spiral from his cigar ascended and
dispersed.  'So we go out!' he thought.  'No more beauty! Nothing?'

Again Irene stopped.

"Would you like some Gluck?  He used to write his music in a sunlit
garden, with a bottle of Rhine wine beside him."

"Ah!; yes.  Let's have 'Orfeo.'" Round about him now were fields of
gold and silver flowers, white forms swaying in the sunlight,
bright birds flying to and fro.  All was summer.  Lingering waves
of sweetness and regret flooded his soul.  Some cigar ash dropped,
and taking out a silk handkerchief to brush it off, he inhaled a
mingled scent as of snuff and eau de Cologne.  'Ah!' he thought,
'Indian summer--that's all!' and he said: "You haven't played me
'Che faro.'"

She did not answer; did not move.  He was conscious of something--
some strange upset.  Suddenly he saw her rise and turn away, and a
pang of remorse shot through him.  What a clumsy chap!  Like
Orpheus, she of course--she too was looking for her lost one in the
hall of memory!  And disturbed to the heart, he got up from his
chair.  She had gone to the great window at the far end.  Gingerly
he followed.  Her hands were folded over her breast; he could just
see her cheek, very white.  And, quite emotionalized, he said:

"There, there, my love!"  The words had escaped him mechanically,
for they were those he used to Holly when she had a pain, but their
effect was instantaneously distressing.  She raised her arms,
covered her face with them, and wept.

Old Jolyon stood gazing at her with eyes very deep from age.  The
passionate shame she seemed feeling at her abandonment, so unlike
the control and quietude of her whole presence was as if she had
never before broken down in the presence of another being.

"There, there--there, there!" he murmured, and putting his hand out
reverently, touched her.  She turned, and leaned the arms which
covered her face against him.  Old Jolyon stood very still, keeping
one thin hand on her shoulder.  Let her cry her heart out--it would
do her good.

And the dog Balthasar, puzzled, sat down on his stern to examine

The window was still open, the curtains had not been drawn, the
last of daylight from without mingled with faint intrusion from the
lamp within; there was a scent of new-mown grass.  With the wisdom
of a long life old Jolyon did not speak.  Even grief sobbed itself
out in time; only Time was good for sorrow--Time who saw the
passing of each mood, each emotion in turn; Time the layer-to-rest.
There came into his mind the words: 'As panteth the hart after
cooling streams'--but they were of no use to him.  Then, conscious
of a scent of violets, he knew she was drying her eyes.  He put his
chin forward, pressed his moustache against her forehead, and felt
her shake with a quivering of her whole body, as of a tree which
shakes itself free of raindrops.  She put his hand to her lips, as
if saying: "All over now!  Forgive me!"

The kiss filled him with a strange comfort; he led her back to
where she had been so upset.  And the dog Balthasar, following,
laid the bone of one of the cutlets they had eaten at their feet.

Anxious to obliterate the memory of that emotion, he could think of
nothing better than china; and moving with her slowly from cabinet
to cabinet, he kept taking up bits of Dresden and Lowestoft and
Chelsea, turning them round and round with his thin, veined hands,
whose skin, faintly freckled, had such an aged look.

"I bought this at Jobson's," he would say; "cost me thirty pounds.
It's very old.  That dog leaves his bones all over the place.  This
old 'ship-bowl' I picked up at the sale when that precious rip, the
Marquis, came to grief.  But you don't remember.  Here's a nice
piece of Chelsea.  Now, what would you say this was?"  And he was
comforted, feeling that, with her taste, she was taking a real
interest in these things; for, after all, nothing better composes
the nerves than a doubtful piece of china.

When the crunch of the carriage wheels was heard at last, he said

"You must come again; you must come to lunch, then I can show you
these by daylight, and my little sweet--she's a dear little thing.
This dog seems to have taken a fancy to you."

For Balthasar, feeling that she was about to leave, was rubbing his
side against her leg.  Going out under the porch with her, he said:

"He'll get you up in an hour and a quarter.  Take this for your
protegees," and he slipped a cheque for fifty pounds into her hand.
He saw her brightened eyes, and heard her murmur: "Oh Uncle
Jolyon!" and a real throb of pleasure went through him.  That meant
one or two poor creatures helped a little, and it meant that she
would come again.  He put his hand in at the window and grasped
hers once more.  The carriage rolled away.  He stood looking at the
moon and the shadows of the trees, and thought: 'A sweet night!
She ......!'


Two days of rain, and summer set in bland and sunny.  Old Jolyon
walked and talked with Holly.  At first he felt taller and full of
a new vigour; then he felt restless.  Almost every afternoon they
would enter the coppice, and walk as far as the log.  'Well, she's
not there!' he would think, 'of course not!'  And he would feel a
little shorter, and drag his feet walking up the hill home, with
his hand clapped to his left side.  Now and then the thought would
move in him: 'Did she come--or did I dream it?' and he would stare
at space, while the dog Balthasar stared at him.  Of course she
would not come again!  He opened the letters from Spain with less
excitement.  They were not returning till July; he felt, oddly,
that he could bear it.  Every day at dinner he screwed up his eyes
and looked at where she had sat.  She was not there, so he
unscrewed his eyes again.

On the seventh afternoon he thought: 'I must go up and get some
boots.'  He ordered Beacon, and set out.  Passing from Putney
towards Hyde Park he reflected: 'I might as well go to Chelsea and
see her.'  And he called out: "Just drive me to where you took that
lady the other night."  The coachman turned his broad red face, and
his juicy lips answered: "The lady in grey, sir?"

"Yes, the lady in grey."  What other ladies were there!  Stodgy

The carriage stopped before a small three-storied block of flats,
standing a little back from the river.  With a practised eye old
Jolyon saw that they were cheap.  'I should think about sixty pound
a year,'  he mused; and entering, he looked at the name-board.  The
name 'Forsyte' was not on it, but against 'First Floor, Flat C'
were the words: 'Mrs. Irene Heron.'  Ah! She had taken her maiden
name again!  And somehow this pleased him.  He went upstairs
slowly, feeling his side a little.  He stood a moment, before
ringing, to lose the feeling of drag and fluttering there.  She
would not be in!  And then Boots!  The thought was black.  What did
he want with boots at his age? He could not wear out all those he

"Your mistress at home?"

"Yes, sir."

"Say Mr. Jolyon Forsyte."

"Yes, sir, will you come this way?"

Old Jolyon followed a very little maid--not more than sixteen one
would say--into a very small drawing-room where the sun-blinds were
drawn.  It held a cottage piano and little else save a vague
fragrance and good taste.  'He stood in the middle, with his top
hat in his hand, and thought: 'I expect she's very badly off!'
There was a mirror above the fireplace, and he saw himself
reflected.  An old-looking chap!  He heard a rustle, and turned
round.  She was so close that his moustache almost brushed her
forehead, just under her hair.

"I was driving up," he said.  "Thought I'd look in on you, and ask
you how you got up the other night."

And, seeing her smile, he felt suddenly relieved.  She was really
glad to see him, perhaps.

"Would you like to put on your hat and come for a drive in the

But while she was gone to put her hat on, he frowned.  The Park!
James and Emily!  Mrs. Nicholas, or some other member of his
precious family would be there very likely, prancing up and down.
And they would go and wag their tongues about having seen him with
her, afterwards.  Better not!  He did not wish to revive the echoes
of the past on Forsyte 'Change.'  He removed a white hair from the
lapel of his closely-buttoned-up frock coat, and passed his hand
over his cheeks, moustache, and square chin.  It felt very hollow
there under the cheekbones.  He had not been eating much lately--he
had better get that little whippersnapper who attended Holly to
give him a tonic.  But she had come back and when they were in the
carriage, he said:

"Suppose we go and sit in Kensington Gardens instead?" and added
with a twinkle: "No prancing up and down there," as if she had been
in the secret of his thoughts.

Leaving the carriage, they entered those select precincts, and
strolled towards the water.

"You've gone back to your maiden name, I see," he said: "I'm not

She slipped her hand under his arm: "Has June forgiven me, Uncle

He answered gently: "Yes--yes; of course, why not?"

"And have you?"

"I?  I forgave you as soon as I saw how the land really lay."  And
perhaps he had; his instinct had always been to forgive the

She drew a deep breath.  "I never regretted--I couldn't.  Did you
ever love very deeply, Uncle Jolyon?"

At that strange question old Jolyon stared before him.  Had he?  He
did not seem to remember that he ever had.  But he did not like to
say this to the young woman whose hand was touching his arm, whose
life was suspended, as it were, by memory of a tragic love.  And he
thought: 'If I had met you when I was young I--I might have made a
fool of myself, perhaps.'  And a longing to escape in generalities
beset him.

"Love's a queer thing," he said, "fatal thing often.  It was the
Greeks--wasn't it?--made love into a goddess; they were right, I
dare say, but then they lived in the Golden Age."

"Phil adored them."

Phil! The word jarred him, for suddenly--with his power to see all
round a thing, he perceived why she was putting up with him like
this.  She wanted to talk about her lover!  Well!  If it was any
pleasure to her!  And he said: "Ah! There was a bit of the sculptor
in him, I fancy."

"Yes.  He loved balance and symmetry; he loved the whole-hearted
way the Greeks gave themselves to art."

Balance! The chap had no balance at all, if he remembered; as for
symmetry--clean-built enough he was, no doubt; but those queer eyes
of his, and high cheek-bones--Symmetry?

"You're of the Golden Age, too, Uncle Jolyon."

Old Jolyon looked round at her.  Was she chaffing him?  No, her
eyes were soft as velvet.  Was she flattering him?  But if so, why?
There was nothing to be had out of an old chap like him.

"Phil thought so.  He used to say: 'But I can never tell him that I
admire him.'"

Ah! There it was again.  Her dead lover; her desire to talk of him!
And he pressed her arm, half resentful of those memories, half
grateful, as if he recognised what a link they were between herself
and him.

"He was a very talented young fellow," he murmured.  "It's hot; I
feel the heat nowadays.  Let's sit down."

They took two chairs beneath a chestnut tree whose broad leaves
covered them from the peaceful glory of the afternoon.  A pleasure
to sit there and watch her, and feel that she liked to be with him.
And the wish to increase that liking, if he could, made him go on:

"I expect he showed you a side of him I never saw.  He'd be at his
best with you.  His ideas of art were a little new--to me "--he had
stiffed the word 'fangled.'

"Yes: but he used to say you had a real sense of beauty."  Old
Jolyon thought: 'The devil he did!' but answered with a twinkle:
"Well, I have, or I shouldn't be sitting here with you."  She was
fascinating when she smiled with her eyes, like that!

"He thought you had one of those hearts that never grow old.  Phil
had real insight."

He was not taken in by this flattery spoken out of the past, out of
a longing to talk of her dead lover--not a bit; and yet it was
precious to hear, because she pleased his eyes and heart which
quite true!--had never grown old.  Was that because--unlike her and
her dead lover, he had never loved to desperation, had always kept
his balance, his sense of symmetry.  Well! It had left him power,
at eighty-four, to admire beauty.  And he thought, 'If I were a
painter or a sculptor!  But I'm an old chap.  Make hay while the
sun shines.'

A couple with arms entwined crossed on the grass before them, at
the edge of the shadow from their tree.  The sunlight fell cruelly
on their pale, squashed, unkempt young faces.  "We're an ugly lot!"
said old Jolyon suddenly.  "It amazes me to see how--love triumphs
over that."

"Love triumphs over everything!"

"The young think so," he muttered.

"Love has no age, no limit; and no death."

With that glow in her pale face, her breast heaving, her eyes so
large and dark and soft, she looked like Venus come to life!  But
this extravagance brought instant reaction, and, twinkling, he
said: "Well, if it had limits, we shouldn't be born; for by George!
it's got a lot to put up with."

Then, removing his top hat, he brushed it round with a cuff.  The
great clumsy thing heated his forehead; in these days he often got
a rush of blood to the head--his circulation was not what it had

She still sat gazing straight before her, and suddenly she

"It's strange enough that I'm alive."

Those words of Jo's 'Wild and lost' came back to him.

"Ah!" he said: "my son saw you for a moment--that day."

"Was it your son? I heard a voice in the hall; I thought for a
second it was--Phil."

Old Jolyon saw her lips tremble.  She put her hand over them, took
it away again, and went on calmly: "That night I went to the
Embankment; a woman caught me by the dress.  She told me about
herself.  When one knows that others suffer, one's ashamed."

"One of those?"

She nodded, and horror stirred within old Jolyon, the horror of one
who has never known a struggle with desperation.  Almost against
his will he muttered: "Tell me, won't you?"

"I didn't care whether I lived or died.  When you're like that,
Fate ceases to want to kill you.  She took care of me three days--
she never left me.  I had no money.  That's why I do what I can for
them, now."

But old Jolyon was thinking: 'No money!'  What fate could compare
with that?  Every other was involved in it.

"I wish you had come to me," he said.  "Why didn't you?"  But Irene
did not answer.

"Because my name was Forsyte, I suppose?  Or was it June who kept
you away?  How are you getting on now?"  His eyes involuntarily
swept her body.  Perhaps even now she was--!  And yet she wasn't
thin--not really!

"Oh! with my fifty pounds a year, I make just enough."  The answer
did not reassure him; he had lost confidence.  And that fellow

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