List Of Contents | Contents of Indian Summer of a Forsyte, by John Galsworthy
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sitting lunchless in the hall of his hotel, with tourists passing
every moment, Baedeker in hand, he was visited by black dejection.
In irons!  His whole life, with every natural instinct and every
decent yearning gagged and fettered, and all because Fate had
driven him seventeen years ago to set his heart upon this woman--so
utterly, that even now he had no real heart to set on any other!
Cursed was the day he had met her, and his eyes for seeing in her
anything but the cruel Venus she was!  And yet, still seeing her
with the sunlight on the clinging China crepe of her gown, he
uttered a little groan, so that a tourist who was passing, thought:
'Man in pain!  Let's see! what did I have for lunch?'

Later, in front of a cafe near the Opera, over a glass of cold tea
with lemon and a straw in it, he took the malicious resolution to
go and dine at her hotel.  If she were there, he would speak to
her; if she were not, he would leave a note.  He dressed carefully,
and wrote as follows:

"Your idyll with that fellow Jolyon Forsyte is known to me at all
events.  If you pursue it, understand that I will leave no stone
unturned to make things unbearable for him.  'S. F.'"

He sealed this note but did not address it, refusing to write the
maiden name which she had impudently resumed, or to put the word
Forsyte on the envelope lest she should tear it up unread.  Then he
went out, and made his way through the glowing streets, abandoned
to evening pleasure-seekers.  Entering her hotel, he took his seat
in a far corner of the dining-room whence he could see all
entrances and exits.  She was not there.  He ate little, quickly,
watchfully.  She did not come.  He lingered in the lounge over his
coffee, drank two liqueurs of brandy.  But still she did not come.
He went over to the keyboard and examined the names.  Number
twelve, on the first floor!  And he determined to take the note up
himself.  He mounted red-carpeted stairs, past a little salon;
eight-ten-twelve!  Should he knock, push the note under, or....?
He looked furtively round and turned the handle.  The door opened,
but into a little space leading to another door; he knocked on
that--no answer.  The door was locked.  It fitted very closely to
the floor; the note would not go under.  He thrust it back into his
pocket, and stood a moment listening.  He felt somehow certain that
she was not there.  And suddenly he came away, passing the little
salon down the stairs.  He stopped at the bureau and said:

"Will you kindly see that Mrs. Heron has this note?"

"Madame Heron left to-day, Monsieur--suddenly, about three o'clock.
There was illness in her family."

Soames compressed his lips.  "Oh!" he said; "do you know her

"Non, Monsieur.  England, I think."

Soames put the note back into his pocket and went out.  He hailed
an open horse-cab which was passing.

"Drive me anywhere!"

The man, who, obviously, did not understand, smiled, and waved his
whip.  And Soames was borne along in that little yellow-wheeled
Victoria all over star-shaped Paris, with here and there a pause,
and the question, "C'est par ici, Monsieur?" "No, go on," till the
man gave it up in despair, and the yellow-wheeled chariot continued
to roll between the tall, flat-fronted shuttered houses and plane-
tree avenues--a little Flying Dutchman of a cab.

'Like my life,' thought Soames, 'without object, on and on!'



Soames returned to England the following day, and on the third
morning received a visit from Mr. Polteed, who wore a flower and
carried a brown billycock hat.  Soames motioned him to a seat.

"The news from the war is not so bad, is it?" said Mr. Polteed.  "I
hope I see you well, sir."

"Thanks! quite."

Mr. Polteed leaned forward, smiled, opened his hand, looked into
it, and said softly:

"I think we've done your business for you at last."

"What?" ejaculated Soames.

"Nineteen reports quite suddenly what I think we shall be justified
in calling conclusive evidence," and Mr. Polteed paused.


"On the 10th instant, after witnessing an interview between 17 and
a party, earlier in the day, 19 can swear to having seen him coming
out of her bedroom in the hotel about ten o'clock in the evening.
With a little care in the giving of the evidence that will be
enough, especially as 17 has left Paris--no doubt with the party in
question.  In fact, they both slipped off, and we haven't got on to
them again, yet; but we shall--we shall.  She's worked hard under
very difficult circumstances, and I'm glad she's brought it off at
last."  Mr. Polteed took out a cigarette, tapped its end against
the table, looked at Soames, and put it back.  The expression on
his client's face was not encouraging.

"Who is this new person?" said Soames abruptly.

"That we don't know.  She'll swear to the fact, and she's got his
appearance pat."

Mr. Polteed took out a letter, and began reading:

"'Middle-aged, medium height, blue dittoes in afternoon, evening
dress at night, pale, dark hair, small dark moustache, flat cheeks,
good chin, grey eyes, small feet, guilty look....'"

Soames rose and went to the window.  He stood there in sardonic
fury.  Congenital idiot--spidery congenital idiot!  Seven months at
fifteen pounds a week--to be tracked down as his own wife's lover!
Guilty look!  He threw the window open.

"It's hot," he said, and came back to his seat:

Crossing his knees, he bent a supercilious glance on Mr. Polteed.

"I doubt if that's quite good enough," he said, drawling the words,
"with no name or address.  I think you may let that lady have a
rest, and take up our friend 47 at this end."  Whether Polteed had
spotted him he could not tell; but he had a mental vision of him in
the midst of his cronies dissolved in inextinguishable laughter.
'Guilty look!'  Damnation!

Mr. Polteed said in a tone of urgency, almost of pathos: "I assure
you we have put it through sometimes on less than that.  It's
Paris, you know.  Attractive woman living alone.  Why not risk it,
sir?  We might screw it up a peg."

Soames had sudden insight.  The fellow's professional zeal was
stirred: 'Greatest triumph of my career; got a man his divorce
through a visit to his own wife's bedroom!  Something to talk of
there, when I retire!'  And for one wild moment he thought: 'Why
not?'  After all, hundreds of men of medium height had small feet
and a guilty look!

"I'm not authorised to take any risk!" he said shortly.

Mr. Polteed looked up.

"Pity," he said, "quite a pity!  That other affair seemed very

Soames rose.

"Never mind that.  Please watch 47, and take care not to find a
mare's nest.  Good-morning!"

Mr. Polteed's eye glinted at the words 'mare's nest!'

"Very good.  You shall be kept informed."

And Soames was alone again.  The spidery, dirty, ridiculous
business!  Laying his arms on the table, he leaned his forehead on
them.  Full ten minutes he rested thus, till a managing clerk
roused him with the draft prospectus of a new issue of shares, very
desirable, in Manifold and Topping's.  That afternoon he left work
early and made his way to the Restaurant Bretagne.  Only Madame
Lamotte was in.  Would Monsieur have tea with her?

Soames bowed.

When they were seated at right angles to each other in the little
room, he said abruptly

"I want a talk with you, Madame."

The quick lift of her clear brown eyes told him that she had long
expected such words.

"I have to ask you something first: That young doctor--what's his
name?  Is there anything between him and Annette?"

Her whole personality had become, as it were, like jet--clear-cut,
black, hard, shining.

"Annette is young," she said; "so is monsieur le docteur.  Between
young people things move quickly; but Annette is a good daughter.
Ah! what a jewel of a nature!"

The least little smile twisted Soames' lips.

"Nothing definite, then?"

"But definite--no, indeed!  The young man is veree nice, but--what
would you?  There is no money at present."

She raised her willow-patterned tea-cup; Soames did the same.
Their eyes met.

"I am a married man," he said, "living apart from my wife for many
years.  I am seeking to divorce her."

Madame Lamotte put down her cup.  Indeed!  What tragic things there
were!  The entire absence of sentiment in her inspired a queer
species of contempt in Soames.

"I am a rich man," he added, fully conscious that the remark was
not in good taste.  "It is useless to say more at present, but I
think you understand."

Madame's eyes, so open that the whites showed above them, looked at
him very straight.

"Ah! ca--mais nous avons le temps!" was all she said.  "Another
little cup?" Soames refused, and, taking his leave, walked

He had got that off his mind; she would not let Annette commit
herself with that cheerful young ass until....!  But what chance of
his ever being able to say: 'I'm free.'  What chance?  The future
had lost all semblance of reality.  He felt like a fly, entangled
in cobweb filaments, watching the desirable freedom of the air with
pitiful eyes.

He was short of exercise, and wandered on to Kensington Gardens,
and down Queen's Gate towards Chelsea.  Perhaps she had gone back
to her flat.  That at all events he could find out.  For since that
last and most ignominious repulse his wounded self-respect had
taken refuge again in the feeling that she must have a lover.  He
arrived before the little Mansions at the dinner-hour.  No need to
enquire!  A grey-haired lady was watering the flower-boxes in her
window.  It was evidently let.  And he walked slowly past again,
along the river--an evening of clear, quiet beauty, all harmony and
comfort, except within his heart.



On the afternoon that Soames crossed to France a cablegram was
received by Jolyon at Robin Hill:

"Your son down with enteric no immediate danger will cable again."

It reached a household already agitated by the imminent departure
of June, whose berth was booked for the following day.  She was,
indeed, in the act of confiding Eric Cobbley and his family to her
father's care when the message arrived.

The resolution to become a Red Cross nurse, taken under stimulus of
Jolly's enlistment, had been loyally fulfilled with the irritation
and regret which all Forsytes feel at what curtails their
individual liberties.  Enthusiastic at first about the
'wonderfulness' of the work, she had begun after a month to feel
that she could train herself so much better than others could train
her.  And if Holly had not insisted on following her example, and
being trained too, she must inevitably have 'cried off.'  The
departure of Jolly and Val with their troop in April had further
stiffened her failing resolve.  But now, on the point of departure,
the thought of leaving Eric Cobbley, with a wife and two children,
adrift in the cold waters of an unappreciative world weighed on her
so that she was still in danger of backing out.  The reading of
that cablegram, with its disquieting reality, clinched the matter.
She saw herself already nursing Jolly--for of course they would let
her nurse her own brother!  Jolyon--ever wide and doubtful--had no
such hope.  Poor June!

Could any Forsyte of her generation grasp how rude and brutal life
was?  Ever since he knew of his boy's arrival at Cape Town the
thought of him had been a kind of recurrent sickness in Jolyon.  He
could not get reconciled to the feeling that Jolly was in danger
all the time.  The cablegram, grave though it was, was almost a
relief.  He was now safe from bullets, anyway.  And yet--this
enteric was a virulent disease!  The Times was full of deaths
therefrom.  Why could he not be lying out there in that up-country
hospital, and his boy safe at home?  The un-Forsytean selfsacrifice
of his three children, indeed, had quite bewildered Jolyon.  He
would eagerly change places with Jolly, because he loved his boy;
but no such personal motive was influencing them.  He could only
think that it marked the decline of the Forsyte type.

Late that afternoon Holly came out to him under the old oak-tree.
She had grown up very much during these last months of hospital
training away from home.  And, seeing her approach, he thought:
'She has more sense than June, child though she is; more wisdom.
Thank God she isn't going out.'  She had seated herself in the
swing, very silent and still.  'She feels this,' thought Jolyon,
'as much as I' and, seeing her eyes fixed on him, he said: "Don't
take it to heart too much, my child.  If he weren't ill, he might
be in much greater danger."

Holly got out of the swing.

"I want to tell you something, Dad.  It was through me that Jolly
enlisted and went out."

"How's that?"

"When you were away in Paris, Val Dartie and I fell in love.  We
used to ride in Richmond Park; we got engaged.  Jolly found it out,
and thought he ought to stop it; so he dared Val to enlist.  It was
all my fault, Dad; and I want to go out too.  Because if anything
happens to either of them I should feel awful.  Besides, I'm just
as much trained as June."

Jolyon gazed at her in a stupefaction that was tinged with irony.
So this was the answer to the riddle he had been asking himself;
and his three children were Forsytes after all.  Surely Holly might
have told him all this before!  But he smothered the sarcastic
sayings on his lips.  Tenderness to the young was perhaps the most
sacred article of his belief.  He had got, no doubt, what he
deserved.  Engaged!  So this was why he had so lost touch with her!
And to young Val Dartie--nephew of Soames--in the other camp!  It
was all terribly distasteful.  He closed his easel, and set his
drawing against the tree.

"Have you told June?"

"Yes; she says she'll get me into her cabin somehow.  It's a single
cabin; but one of us could sleep on the floor.  If you consent,
she'll go up now and get permission."

'Consent?' thought Jolyon.  'Rather late in the day to ask for
that!'  But again he checked himself.

"You're too young, my dear; they won't let you."

"June knows some people that she helped to go to Cape Town.  If
they won't let me nurse yet, I could stay with them and go on
training there.  Let me go, Dad!"

Jolyon smiled because he could have cried.

"I never stop anyone from doing anything," he said.

Holly flung her arms round his neck.

"Oh! Dad, you are the best in the world."

'That means the worst,' thought Jolyon.  If he had ever doubted his
creed of tolerance he did so then.

"I'm not friendly with Val's family," he said, "and I don't know
Val, but Jolly didn't like him."

Holly looked at the distance and said:

"I love him."

"That settles it," said Jolyon dryly, then catching the expression
on her face, he kissed her, with the thought: 'Is anything more
pathetic than the faith of the young?' Unless he actually forbade
her going it was obvious that he must make the best of it, so he
went up to town with June.  Whether due to her persistence, or the
fact that the official they saw was an old school friend of

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