List Of Contents | Contents of Indian Summer of a Forsyte, by John Galsworthy
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Jolyon's, they obtained permission for Holly to share the single
cabin.  He took them to Surbiton station the following evening, and
they duly slid away from him, provided with money, invalid foods,
and those letters of credit without which Forsytes do not travel.

He drove back to Robin Hill under a brilliant sky to his late
dinner, served with an added care by servants trying to show him
that they sympathised, eaten with an added scrupulousness to show
them that he appreciated their sympathy.  But it was a real relief
to get to his cigar on the terrace of flag-stones--cunningly chosen
by young Bosinney for shape and colour--with night closing in
around him, so beautiful a night, hardly whispering in the trees,
and smelling so sweet that it made him ache.  The grass was
drenched with dew, and he kept to those flagstones, up and down,
till presently it began to seem to him that he was one of three,
not wheeling, but turning right about at each end, so that his
father was always nearest to the house, and his son always nearest
to the terrace edge.  Each had an arm lightly within his arm; he
dared not lift his hand to his cigar lest he should disturb them,
and it burned away, dripping ash on him, till it dropped from his
lips, at last, which were getting hot.  They left him then, and his
arms felt chilly.  Three Jolyons in one Jolyon they had walked.

He stood still, counting the sounds--a carriage passing on the
highroad, a distant train, the dog at Gage's farm, the whispering
trees, the groom playing on his penny whistle.  A multitude of
stars up there--bright and silent, so far off!  No moon as yet!
Just enough light to show him the dark flags and swords of the iris
flowers along the terrace edge--his favourite flower that had the
night's own colour on its curving crumpled petals.  He turned round
to the house.  Big, unlighted, not a soul beside himself to live in
all that part of it.  Stark loneliness!  He could not go on living
here alone.  And yet, so long as there was beauty, why should a man
feel lonely?  The answer--as to some idiot's riddle--was: Because
he did.  The greater the beauty, the greater the loneliness, for at
the back of beauty was harmony, and at the back of harmony was--
union.  Beauty could not comfort if the soul were out of it.  The
night, maddeningly lovely, with bloom of grapes on it in starshine,
and the breath of grass and honey coming from it, he could not
enjoy, while she who was to him the life of beauty, its embodiment
and essence, was cut off from him, utterly cut off now, he felt, by
honourable decency.

He made a poor fist of sleeping, striving too hard after that
resignation which Forsytes find difficult to reach, bred to their
own way and left so comfortably off by their fathers.  But after
dawn he dozed off, and soon was dreaming a strange dream.

He was on a stage with immensely high rich curtains--high as the
very stars--stretching in a semi--circle from footlights to
footlights.  He himself was very small, a little black restless
figure roaming up and down; and the odd thing was that he was not
altogether himself, but Soames as well, so that he was not only
experiencing but watching.  This figure of himself and Soames was
trying to find a way out through the curtains, which, heavy and
dark, kept him in.  Several times he had crossed in front of them
before he saw with delight a sudden narrow rift--a tall chink of
beauty the colour of iris flowers, like a glimpse of Paradise,
remote, ineffable.  Stepping quickly forward to pass into it, he
found the curtains closing before him.  Bitterly disappointed he--
or was it Soames?--moved on, and there was the chink again through
the parted curtains, which again closed too soon.  This went on and
on and he never got through till he woke with the word "Irene" on
his lips.  The dream disturbed him badly, especially that
identification of himself with Soames.

Next morning, finding it impossible to work, he spent hours riding
Jolly's horse in search of fatigue.  And on the second day he made
up his mind to move to London and see if he could not get
permission to follow his daughters to South Africa.  He had just
begun to pack the following morning when he received this letter:

"June 13.


"You will be surprised to see how near I am to you.  Paris became
impossible--and I have come here to be within reach of your advice.
I would so love to see you again.  Since you left Paris I don't
think I have met anyone I could really talk to.  Is all well with
you and with your boy?  No one knows, I think, that I am here at

"Always your friend,


Irene within three miles of him!--and again in flight!  He stood
with a very queer smile on his lips.  This was more than he had
bargained for!

About noon he set out on foot across Richmond Park, and as he went
along, he thought: 'Richmond Park!  By Jove, it suits us Forsytes!'
Not that Forsytes lived there--nobody lived there save royalty,
rangers, and the deer--but in Richmond Park Nature was allowed to
go so far and no further, putting up a brave show of being natural,
seeming to say: 'Look at my instincts--they are almost passions,
very nearly out of hand, but not quite, of course; the very hub of
possession is to possess oneself.'  Yes! Richmond Park possessed
itself, even on that bright day of June, with arrowy cuckoos
shifting the tree-points of their calls, and the wood doves
announcing high summer.

The Green Hotel, which Jolyon entered at one o'clock, stood nearly
opposite that more famous hostelry, the Crown and Sceptre; it was
modest, highly respectable, never out of cold beef, gooseberry
tart, and a dowager or two, so that a carriage and pair was almost
always standing before the door.

In a room draped in chintz so slippery as to forbid all emotion,
Irene was sitting on a piano stool covered with crewel work,
playing 'Hansel and Gretel' out of an old score.  Above her on a
wall, not yet Morris-papered, was a print of the Queen on a pony,
amongst deer-hounds, Scotch. caps, and slain stags; beside her in a
pot on the window-sill was a white and rosy fuchsia.  The
Victorianism of the room almost talked; and in her clinging frock
Irene seemed to Jolyon like Venus emerging from the shell of the
past century.

"If the proprietor had eyes," he said, "he would show you the door;
you have broken through his decorations."  Thus lightly he
smothered up an emotional moment.  Having eaten cold beef, pickled
walnut, gooseberry tart, and drunk stone-bottle ginger-beer, they
walked into the Park, and light talk was succeeded by the silence
Jolyon had dreaded.

"You haven't told me about Paris," he said at last.

"No.  I've been shadowed for a long time; one gets used to that.
But then Soames came.  By the little Niobe--the same story; would I
go back to him?"


She had spoken without raising her eyes, but she looked up now.
Those dark eyes clinging to his said as no words could have: 'I
have come to an end; if you want me, here I am.'

For sheer emotional intensity had he ever--old as he was--passed
through such a moment?

The words: 'Irene, I adore you!' almost escaped him.  Then, with a
clearness of which he would not have believed mental vision
capable, he saw Jolly lying with a white face turned to a white

"My boy is very ill out there," he said quietly.

Irene slipped her arm through his.

"Let's walk on; I understand."

No miserable explanation to attempt!  She had understood!  And they
walked on among the bracken, knee-high already, between the
rabbitholes and the oak-trees, talking of Jolly.  He left her two
hours later at the Richmond Hill Gate, and turned towards home.

'She knows of my feeling for her, then,' he thought.  Of course!
One could not keep knowledge of that from such a woman!



Jolly was tired to death of dreams.  They had left him now too wan
and weak to dream again; left him to lie torpid, faintly
remembering far-off things; just able to turn his eyes and gaze
through the window near his cot at the trickle of river running by
in the sands, at the straggling milk-bush of the Karoo beyond.  He
knew what the Karoo was now, even if he had not seen a Boer roll
over like a rabbit, or heard the whine of flying bullets.  This
pestilence had sneaked on him before he had smelled powder.  A
thirsty day and a rash drink, or perhaps a tainted fruit--who knew?
Not he, who had not even strength left to grudge the evil thing its
victory--just enough to know that there were many lying here with
him, that he was sore with frenzied dreaming; just enough to watch
that thread of river and be able to remember faintly those far-away

The sun was nearly down.  It would be cooler soon.  He would have
liked to know the time--to feel his old watch, so butter-smooth, to
hear the repeater strike.  It would have been friendly, home-like.
He had not even strength to remember that the old watch was last
wound the day he began to lie here.  The pulse of his brain beat so
feebly that faces which came and went, nurse's, doctor's,
orderly's, were indistinguishable, just one indifferent face; and
the words spoken about him meant all the same thing, and that
almost nothing.  Those things he used to do, though far and faint,
were more distinct--walking past the foot of the old steps at
Harrow 'bill'--'Here, sir!  Here, sir!'--wrapping boots in the
Westminster Gazette, greenish paper, shining boots--grandfather
coming from somewhere dark--a smell of earth--the mushroom house!
Robin Hill!  Burying poor old Balthasar in the leaves!  Dad!

Consciousness came again with noticing that the river had no water
in it--someone was speaking too.  Want anything?  No.  What could
one want?  Too weak to want--only to hear his watch strike....

Holly!  She wouldn't bowl properly.  Oh!  Pitch them up!  Not
sneaks!...  'Back her, Two and Bow!'  He was Two!...  Consciousness
came once more with a sense of the violet dusk outside, and a
rising blood-red crescent moon.  His eyes rested on it fascinated;
in the long minutes of brain-nothingness it went moving up and

"He's going, doctor!"   Not pack boots again?  Never?  'Mind your
form, Two!'  Don't cry!  Go quietly-over the river--sleep!...
Dark?  If somebody would--strike--his--watch!...



A sealed letter in the handwriting of Mr. Polteed remained unopened
in Soames' pocket throughout two hours of sustained attention to
the affairs of the 'New Colliery Company,' which, declining almost
from the moment of old Jolyon's retirement from the Chairmanship,
had lately run down so fast that there was now nothing for it but a
'winding-up.'  He took the letter out to lunch at his City Club,
sacred to him for the meals he had eaten there with his father in
the early seventies, when James used to like him to come and see
far himself the nature of his future life.

Here in a remote corner before a plate of roast mutton and mashed
potato, he read:


"In accordance with your suggestion we have duly taken the matter
up at the other end with gratifying results.  Observation of 47 has
enabled us to locate 17 at the Green Hotel, Richmond.  The two have
been observed to meet daily during the past week in Richmond Park.
Nothing absolutely crucial has so far been notified.  But in
conjunction with what we had from Paris at the beginning of the
year, I am confident we could now satisfy the Court.  We shall, of
course, continue to watch the matter until we hear from you.

"Very faithfully yours,


Soames read it through twice and beckoned to the waiter:

"Take this away; it's cold."

"Shall I bring you some more, sir?"

"No.  Get me some coffee in the other room."

And, paying for what he had not eaten, he went out, passing two
acquaintances without sign of recognition.

'Satisfy the Court!' he thought, sitting at a little round marble
table with the coffee before him.  That fellow Jolyon!  He poured
out his coffee, sweetened and drank it.  He would disgrace him in
the eyes of his own children!  And rising, with that resolution hot
within him, he found for the first time the inconvenience of being
his own solicitor.  He could not treat this scandalous matter in
his own office.  He must commit the soul of his private dignity to
a stranger, some other professional dealer in family dishonour.
Who was there he could go to?  Linkman and Laver in Budge Row,
perhaps--reliable, not too conspicuous, only nodding acquaintances.
But before he saw them he must see Polteed again.  But at this
thought Soames had a moment of sheer weakness.  To part with his
secret?  How find the words?  How subject himself to contempt and
secret laughter?  Yet, after all, the fellow knew already--oh yes,
he knew!  And, feeling that he must finish with it now, he took a
cab into the West End.

In this hot weather the window of Mr. Polteed's room was positively
open, and the only precaution was a wire gauze, preventing the
intrusion of flies.  Two or three had tried to come in, and been
caught, so that they seemed to be clinging there with the intention
of being devoured presently.  Mr. Polteed, following the direction
of his client's eye, rose apologetically and closed the window.

'Posing ass!'  thought Soames.  Like all who fundamentally believe
in themselves he was rising to the occasion, and, with his little
sideway smile, he said: "I've had your letter.  I'm going to act.
I suppose you know who the lady you've been watching really is?"
Mr. Polteed's expression at that moment was a masterpiece.  It so
clearly said: 'Well, what do you think?  But mere professional
knowledge, I assure you--pray forgive it!'  He made a little half
airy movement with his hand, as who should say: 'Such things--such
things will happen to us all!'

"Very well, then," said Soames, moistening his lips: "there's no
need to say more.  I'm instructing Linkman and Laver of Budge Row
to act for me.  I don't want to hear your evidence, but kindly make
your report to them at five o'clock, and continue to observe the
utmost secrecy."

Mr. Polteed half closed his eyes, as if to comply at once.  "My
dear sir," he said.

"Are you convinced," asked Soames with sudden energy, "that there
is enough?"

The faintest movement occurred to Mr. Polteed's shoulders.

"You can risk it," he murmured; "with what we have, and human
nature, you can risk it."

Soames rose.  "You will ask for Mr. Linkman.  Thanks; don't get
up."  He could not bear Mr. Polteed to slide as usual between him
and the door.  In the sunlight of Piccadilly he wiped his forehead.
This had been the worst of it--he could stand the strangers better.
And he went back into the City to do what still lay before him.

That evening in Park Lane, watching his father dine, he was
overwhelmed by his old longing for a son--a son, to watch him eat
as he went down the years, to be taken on his knee as James on a
time had been wont to take him; a son of his own begetting, who

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