List Of Contents | Contents of Indian Summer of a Forsyte, by John Galsworthy
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thinking of this subdued dark man, almost a stranger to her, on the
bed in the other room; resolutely not 'worrying,' but gnawed by
jealousy of what he had been through, and now and again just
visited by pity.



Soames doggedly let the spring come--no easy task for one conscious
that time was flying, his birds in the bush no nearer the hand, no
issue from the web anywhere visible.  Mr. Polteed reported nothing,
except that his watch went on--costing a lot of money.  Val and his
cousin were gone to the war, whence came news more favourable;
Dartie was behaving himself so far; James had retained his health;
business prospered almost terribly--there was nothing to worry
Soames except that he was 'held up,' could make no step in any

He did not exactly avoid Soho, for he could not afford to let them
think that he had 'piped off,' as James would have put it--he might
want to 'pipe on' again at any minute.  But he had to be so
restrained and cautious that he would often pass the door of the
Restaurant Bretagne without going in, and wander out of the
purlieus of that region which always gave him the feeling of having
been possessively irregular.

He wandered thus one May night into Regent Street and the most
amazing crowd he had ever seen; a shrieking, whistling, dancing,
jostling, grotesque and formidably jovial crowd, with false noses
and mouth-organs, penny whistles and long feathers, every appanage
of idiocy, as it seemed to him.  Mafeking!  Of course, it had been
relieved!  Good!  But was that an excuse?  Who were these people,
what were they, where had they come from into the West End?  His
face was tickled, his ears whistled into.  Girls cried: 'Keep your
hair on, stucco!'  A youth so knocked off his top-hat that he
recovered it with difficulty.  Crackers were exploding beneath his
nose, between his feet.  He was bewildered, exasperated, offended.
This stream of people came from every quarter, as if impulse had
unlocked flood-gates, let flow waters of whose existence he had
heard, perhaps, but believed in never.  This, then, was the
populace, the innumerable living negation of gentility and
Forsyteism.  This was--egad!--Democracy!  It stank, yelled, was
hideous!  In the East End, or even Soho, perhaps--but here in
Regent Street, in Piccadilly!  What were, the police about!  In
1900, Soames, with his Forsyte thousands, had never seen the
cauldron with the lid off; and now looking into it, could hardly
believe his scorching eyes.  The whole thing was unspeakable!
These people had no restraint, they seemed to think him funny; such
swarms of them, rude, coarse, laughing--and what laughter!

Nothing sacred to them!  He shouldn't be surprised if they began to
break windows.  In Pall Mall, past those august dwellings, to enter
which people paid sixty pounds, this shrieking, whistling, dancing
dervish of a crowd was swarming.  From the Club windows his own
kind were looking out on them with regulated amusement.  They
didn't realise!  Why, this was serious--might come to anything!
The crowd was cheerful, but some day they would come in different
mood!  He remembered there had been a mob in the late eighties,
when he was at Brighton; they had smashed things and made speeches.
But more than dread, he felt a deep surprise.  They were hysterical
--it wasn't English!  And all about the relief of a little town as
big as--Watford, six thousand miles away.  Restraint, reserve!
Those qualities to him more dear almost than life, those
indispensable attributes of property and culture, where were they?
It wasn't English!  No, it wasn't English!  So Soames brooded,
threading his way on.  It was as if he had suddenly caught sight of
someone cutting the covenant 'for quiet possession' out of his
legal documents; or of a monster lurking and stalking out in the
future, casting its shadow before.  Their want of stolidity, their
want of reverence!  It was like discovering that nine-tenths of the
people of England were foreigners.  And if that were so--then,
anything might happen!

At Hyde Park Corner he ran into George Forsyte, very sunburnt from
racing, holding a false nose in his hand.

"Hallo, Soames!" he said, "have a nose!"

Soames responded with a pale smile.

"Got this from one of these sportsmen," went on George, who had
evidently been dining; "had to lay him out--for trying to bash my
hat.  I say, one of these days we shall have to fight these chaps,
they're getting so damned cheeky--all radicals and socialists.
They want our goods.  You tell Uncle James that, it'll make him

'In vino veritas,' thought Soames, but he only nodded, and passed
on up Hamilton Place.  There was but a trickle of roysterers in
Park Lane, not very noisy.  And looking up at the houses he
thought: 'After all, we're the backbone of the country.  They won't
upset us easily.  Possession's nine points of the law.'

But, as he closed the door of his father's house behind him, all
that queer outlandish nightmare in the streets passed out of his
mind almost as completely as if, having dreamed it, he had awakened
in the warm clean morning comfort of his spring-mattressed bed.

Walking into the centre of the great empty drawing-room, he stood

A wife!  Somebody to talk things over with.  One had a right!  Damn
it!  One had a right!




Soames had travelled little.  Aged nineteen he had made the 'petty
tour' with his father, mother, and Winifred--Brussels, the Rhine,
Switzerland, and home by way of Paris.  Aged twenty-seven, just
when he began to take interest in pictures, he had spent five hot
weeks in Italy, looking into the Renaissance not so much in it as
he had been led to expect--and a fortnight in Paris on his way
back, looking into himself, as became a Forsyte surrounded by
people so strongly self-centred and 'foreign' as the French.  His
knowledge of their language being derived from his public school,
he did not understand them when they spoke.  Silence he had found
better for all parties; one did not make a fool of oneself.  He had
disliked the look of the men's clothes, the closed-in cabs, the
theatres which looked like bee-hives, the Galleries which smelled
of beeswax.  He was too cautious and too shy to explore that side
of Paris supposed by Forsytes to constitute its attraction under
the rose; and as for a collector's bargain--not one to be had!  As
Nicholas might have put it--they were a grasping lot.  He had come
back uneasy, saying Paris was overrated.

When, therefore, in June of 1900 he went to Paris, it was but his
third attempt on the centre of civilisation.  This time, however,
the mountain was going to Mahomet; for he felt by now more deeply
civilised than Paris, and perhaps he really was.  Moreover, he had
a definite objective.  This was no mere genuflexion to a shrine of
taste and immorality, but the prosecution of his own legitimate
affairs.  He went, indeed, because things were getting past a joke.
The watch went on and on, and--nothing--nothing!  Jolyon had never
returned to Paris, and no one else was 'suspect!'  Busy with new
and very confidential matters, Soames was realising more than ever
how essential reputation is to a solicitor.  But at night and in
his leisure moments he was ravaged by the thought that time was
always flying and money flowing in, and his own future as much 'in
irons' as ever.  Since Mafeking night he had become aware that a
'young fool of a doctor' was hanging round Annette.  Twice he had
come across him--a cheerful young fool, not more than thirty.

Nothing annoyed Soames so much as cheerfulness--an indecent,
extravagant sort of quality, which had no relation to facts.  The
mixture of his desires and hopes was, in a word, becoming torture;
and lately the thought had come to him that perhaps Irene knew she
was being shadowed: It was this which finally decided him to go and
see for himself; to go and once more try to break down her
repugnance, her refusal to make her own and his path comparatively
smooth once more.  If he failed again--well, he would see what she
did with herself, anyway!

He went to an hotel in the Rue Caumartin, highly recommended to
Forsytes, where practically nobody spoke French.  He had formed no
plan.  He did not want to startle her; yet must contrive that she
had no chance to evade him by flight.  And next morning he set out
in bright weather.

Paris had an air of gaiety, a sparkle over its star-shape which
almost annoyed Soames.  He stepped gravely, his nose lifted a
little sideways in real curiosity.  He desired now to understand
things French.  Was not Annette French?  There was much to be got
out of his visit, if he could only get it.  In this laudable mood
and the Place de la Concorde he was nearly run down three times.
He came on the 'Cours la Reine,' where Irene's hotel was situated,
almost too suddenly, for he had not yet fixed on his procedure.
Crossing over to the river side, he noted the building, white and
cheerful-looking, with green sunblinds, seen through a screen of
plane-tree leaves.  And, conscious that it would be far better to
meet her casually in some open place than to risk a call, he sat
down on a bench whence he could watch the entrance.  It was not
quite eleven o'clock, and improbable that she had yet gone out.
Some pigeons were strutting and preening their feathers in the
pools of sunlight between the shadows of the plane-trees.  A
workman in a blue blouse passed, and threw them crumbs from the
paper which contained his dinner.  A 'bonne' coiffed with ribbon
shepherded two little girls with pig-tails and frilled drawers.  A
cab meandered by, whose cocher wore a blue coat and a black-glazed
hat.  To Soames a kind of affectation seemed to cling about it all,
a sort of picturesqueness which was out of date.  A theatrical
people, the French!  He lit one of his rare cigarettes, with a
sense of injury that Fate should be casting his life into out-
landish waters.  He shouldn't wonder if Irene quite enjoyed this
foreign life; she had never been properly English--even to look at!
And he began considering which of those windows could be hers under
the green sunblinds.  How could he word what he had come to say so
that it might pierce the defence of her proud obstinacy?  He threw
the fag-end of his cigarette at a pigeon, with the thought: 'I
can't stay here for ever twiddling my thumbs.  Better give it up
and call on her in the late afternoon.'  But he still sat on, heard
twelve strike, and then half-past.  'I'll wait till one,' he
thought, 'while I'm about it.'  But just then he started up, and
shrinkingly sat down again.  A woman had come out in a cream-
coloured frock, and was moving away under a fawn-coloured parasol.
Irene herself!  He waited till she was too far away to recognise
him, then set out after her.  She was strolling as though she had
no particular objective; moving, if he remembered rightly, toward
the Bois de Boulogne.  For half an hour at least he kept his
distance on the far side of the way till she had passed into the
Bois itself.  Was she going to meet someone after all?  Some
confounded Frenchman--one of those 'Bel Ami' chaps, perhaps, who
had nothing to do but hang about women--for he had read that book
with difficulty and a sort of disgusted fascination.  He followed
doggedly along a shady alley, losing sight of her now and then when
the path curved.  And it came back to him how, long ago, one night
in Hyde Park he had slid and sneaked from tree to tree, from seat
to seat, hunting blindly, ridiculously, in burning jealousy for her
and young Bosinney.  The path bent sharply, and, hurrying, he came
on her sitting in front of a small fountain--a little green-bronze
Niobe veiled in hair to her slender hips, gazing at the pool she
had wept: He came on her so suddenly that he was past before he
could turn and take off his hat.  She did not start up.  She had
always had great self-command--it was one of the things he most
admired in her, one of his greatest grievances against her, because
he had never been able to tell what she was thinking.  Had she
realised that he was following?  Her self-possession made him
angry; and, disdaining to explain his presence, he pointed to the
mournful little Niobe, and said:

"That's rather a good thing."

He could see, then, that she was struggling to preserve her

"I didn't want to startle you; is this one of your haunts?"


"A little lonely."  As he spoke, a lady, strolling by, paused to
look at the fountain and passed on.

Irene's eyes followed her.

"No," she said, prodding the ground with her parasol, "never
lonely.  One has always one's shadow."

Soames understood; and, looking at her hard, he exclaimed:

"Well, it's your own fault.  You can be free of it at any moment.
Irene, come back to me, and be free."

Irene laughed.

"Don't!" cried Soames, stamping his foot; "it's inhuman.  Listen!
Is there any condition I can make which will bring you back to me?
If I promise you a separate house--and just a visit now and then?"

Irene rose, something wild suddenly in her face and figure.

"None!  None!  None!  You may hunt me to the grave.  I will not

Outraged and on edge, Soames recoiled.

"Don't make a scene!" he said sharply.  And they both stood
motionless, staring at the little Niobe, whose greenish flesh the
sunlight was burnishing.

"That's your last word, then," muttered Soames, clenching his
hands; "you condemn us both."

Irene bent her head.  "I can't come back.  Good-bye!"

A feeling of monstrous injustice flared up in Soames.

"Stop!" he said, "and listen to me a moment.  You gave me a sacred
vow--you came to me without a penny.  You had all I could give you.
You broke that vow without cause, you made me a by-word; you
refused me a child; you've left me in prison; you--you still move
me so that I want you--I want you.  Well, what do you think of

Irene turned, her face was deadly pale, her eyes burning dark.

"God made me as I am," she said; "wicked if you like--but not so
wicked that I'll give myself again to a man I hate."

The sunlight gleamed on her hair as she moved away, and seemed to
lay a caress all down her clinging cream-coloured frock.

Soames could neither speak nor move.  That word 'hate'--so extreme,
so primitive--made all the Forsyte in him tremble.  With a deep
imprecation he strode away from where she had vanished, and ran
almost into the arms of the lady sauntering back--the fool, the
shadowing fool!

He was soon dripping with perspiration, in the depths of the Bois.

'Well,' he thought, 'I need have no consideration for her now; she
has not a grain of it for me.  I'll show her this very day that
she's my wife still.'

But on the way home to his hotel, he was forced to the conclusion
that he did not know what he meant.  One could not make scenes in
public, and short of scenes in public what was there he could do?
He almost cursed his own thin-skinnedness.  She might deserve no
consideration; but he--alas! deserved some at his own hands.  And

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