List Of Contents | Contents of Indian Summer of a Forsyte, by John Galsworthy
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could understand him because he was the same flesh and blood--
understand, and comfort him, and become more rich and cultured than
himself because he would start even better off.  To get old--like
that thin, grey wiry-frail figure sitting there--and be quite alone
with possessions heaping up around him; to take no interest in
anything because it had no future and must pass away from him to
hands and mouths and eyes for whom he cared no jot!  No!  He would
force it through now, and  be free to marry, and have a son to care
for him before he grew to be like the old old man his father,
wistfully watching now his sweetbread, now his son.

In that mood he went up to bed.  But, lying warm between those fine
linen sheets of Emily's providing, he was visited by memories and
torture.  Visions of Irene, almost the solid feeling of her body,
beset him.  Why had he ever been fool enough to see her again, and
let this flood back on him so that it was pain to think of her with
that fellow--that stealing fellow.



His boy was seldom absent from Jolyon's mind in the days which
followed the first walk with Irene in Richmond Park.  No further
news had come; enquiries at the War Office elicited nothing; nor
could he expect to hear from June and Holly for three weeks at
least.  In these days he felt how insufficient were his memories of
Jolly, and what an amateur of a father he had been.  There was not
a single memory in which anger played a part; not one
reconciliation, because there had never been a rupture; nor one
heart-to-heart confidence, not even when Jolly's mother died.
Nothing but half-ironical affection.  He had been too afraid of
committing himself in any direction, for fear of losing his
liberty, or interfering with that of his boy.

Only in Irene's presence had he relief, highly complicated by the
ever-growing perception of how divided he was between her and his
son.  With Jolly was bound up all that sense of continuity and
social creed of which he had drunk deeply in his youth and again
during his boy's public school and varsity life--all that sense of
not going back on what father and son expected of each other.  With
Irene was bound up all his delight in beauty and in Nature.  And he
seemed to know less and less which was the stronger within him.
>From such sentimental paralysis he was rudely awakened, however,
one afternoon, just as he was starting off to Richmond, by a young
man with a bicycle and a face oddly familiar, who came forward
faintly smiling.

"Mr. Jolyon Forsyte?  Thank you!"   Placing an envelope in Jolyon's
hand he wheeled off the path and rode away.  Bewildered, Jolyon
opened it.

"Admiralty Probate and Divorce, Forsyte v. Forsyte and Forsyte!"

A sensation of shame and disgust was followed by the instant
reaction 'Why, here's the very thing you want, and you don't like
it!'  But she must have had one too; and he must go to her at once.
He turned things over as he went along.  It was an ironical busi-
ness.  For, whatever the Scriptures said about the heart, it took
more than mere longings to satisfy the law.  They could perfectly
well defend this suit, or at least in good faith try to.  But the
idea of doing so revolted Jolyon.  If not her lover in deed he was
in desire, and he knew that she was ready to come to him.  Her face
had told him so.  Not that he exaggerated her feeling for him.  She
had had her grand passion, and he could not expect another from her
at his age.  But she had trust in him, affection for him, and must
feel that he would be a refuge.  Surely she would not ask him to
defend the suit, knowing that he adored her!  Thank Heaven she had
not that maddening British conscientiousness which refused
happiness for the sake of refusing!  She must rejoice at this
chance of being free after seventeen years of death in life!  As to
publicity, the fat was in the fire!  To defend the suit would not
take away the slur.  Jolyon had all the proper feeling of a Forsyte
whose privacy is threatened: If he was to be  hung by the Law, by
all means let it be for a sheep!  Moreover the notion of standing
in a witness box and swearing to the truth that no gesture, not
even a word of love had passed between them seemed to him more
degrading than to take the tacit stigma of being an adulterer--more
truly degrading, considering the feeling in his heart, and just as
bad and painful for his children.  The thought of explaining away,
if he could, before a judge and twelve average Englishmen, their
meetings in Paris, and the walks in Richmond Park, horrified him.
The brutality and hypocritical censoriousness of the whole process;
the probability that they would not be believed--the mere vision of
her, whom he looked on as the embodiment of Nature and of Beauty,
standing there before all those suspicious, gloating eyes was
hideous to him.  No, no!  To defend a suit only made a London
holiday, and sold the newspapers.  A thousand times better accept
what Soames and the gods had sent!

'Besides,' he thought honestly, 'who knows whether, even for my
boy's sake, I could have stood this state of things much longer?
Anyway, her neck will be out of chancery at last!'  Thus absorbed,
he was hardly conscious of the heavy heat.  The sky had become
overcast, purplish with little streaks of white.  A heavy heat-drop
plashed a little star pattern in the dust of the road as he entered
the Park.  'Phew!'  he thought, 'thunder!  I hope she's not come to
meet me; there's a ducking up there!'  But at that very minute he
saw Irene coming towards the Gate.  'We must scuttle back to Robin
Hill,' he thought.

The storm had passed over the Poultry at four o'clock, bringing
welcome distraction to the clerks in every office.  Soames was
drinking a cup of tea when a note was brought in to him:


"Forsyte v.  Forsyte and Forsyte

"In accordance with your instructions, we beg to inform you that we
personally served the respondent and co-respondent in this suit
to-day, at Richmond, and Robin Hill, respectively.
"Faithfully yours,


For some minutes Soames stared at that note.  Ever since he had
given those instructions he had been tempted to annul them.  It was
so scandalous, such a general disgrace!  The evidence, too, what he
had heard of it, had never seemed to him conclusive; somehow, he
believed less and less that those two had gone all lengths.  But
this, of course, would drive them to it; and he suffered from the
thought.  That fellow to have her love, where he had failed!  Was
it too late?  Now that they had been brought up sharp by service of
this petition, had he not a lever with which he could force them
apart?  'But if I don't act at once,' he thought, 'it will be too
late, now they've had this thing.  I'll go and see him; I'll go

And, sick with nervous anxiety, he sent out for one of the
'new-fangled' motor-cabs.  It might take a long time to run that
fellow to ground, and Goodness knew what decision they might come
to after such a shock!  'If I were a theatrical ass,' he thought,
'I suppose I should be taking a horse-whip or a pistol or
something!'  He took instead a bundle of papers in the case of
'Magentie versus Wake,' intending to read them on the way down.  He
did not even open them, but sat quite still, jolted and jarred,
unconscious of the draught down the back of his neck, or the smell
of petrol.  He must be guided by the fellow's attitude; the great
thing was to keep his head!

London had already begun to disgorge its workers as he neared
Putney Bridge; the ant-heap was on the move outwards.  What a lot
of ants, all with a living to get, holding on by their eyelids in
the great scramble!  Perhaps for the first time in his life Soames
thought: 'I could let go if I liked!  Nothing could touch me; I
could snap my fingers, live as I wished--enjoy myself!'  No!  One
could not live as he had and just drop it all--settle down in
Capua, to spend the money and reputation he had made.  A man's life
was what he possessed and sought to possess.  Only fools thought
otherwise--fools, and socialists, and libertines!

The cab was passing villas now, going a great pace.  'Fifteen miles
an hour, I should think!' he mused; 'this'll take people out of
town to live!' and he thought of its bearing on the portions of
London owned by his father--he himself had never taken to that form
of investment, the gambler in him having all the outlet needed in
his pictures.  And the cab sped on, down the hill past Wimbledon
Common.  This interview!  Surely a man of fifty-two with grown-up
children, and hung on the line, would not be reckless.  'He won't
want to disgrace the family,' he thought; 'he was as fond of his
father as I am of mine, and they were brothers.  That woman brings
destruction--what is it in her?  I've never known.'  The cab
branched off, along the side of a wood, and he heard a late cuckoo
calling, almost the first he had heard that year.  He was now
almost opposite the site he had originally chosen for his house,
and which had been so unceremoniously rejected by Bosinney in
favour of his own choice.  He began passing his handkerchief over
his face and hands, taking deep breaths to give him steadiness.
'Keep one's head,' he thought, 'keep one's head!'

The cab turned in at the drive which might have been his own, and
the sound of music met him.  He had forgotten the fellow's

"I may be out again directly," he said to the driver, "or I may be
kept some time"; and he rang the bell.

Following the maid through the curtains into the inner hall, he
felt relieved that the impact of this meeting would be broken by
June or Holly, whichever was playing in there, so that with
complete surprise he saw Irene at the piano, and Jolyon sitting in
an armchair listening.  They both stood up.  Blood surged into
Soames' brain, and all his resolution to be guided by this or that
left him utterly.  The look of 'his farmer forbears--dogged
Forsytes down by the sea, from 'Superior Dosset' back-grinned out
of his face.

"Very pretty!"   he said.

He heard the fellow murmur:

"This is hardly the place--we'll go to the study, if you don't
mind."  And they both passed him through the curtain opening.  In
the little room to which he followed them, Irene stood by the open
window, and the 'fellow' close to her by a big chair.  Soames
pulled the door to behind him with a slam; the sound carried him
back all those years to the day when he had shut out Jolyon--shut
him out for meddling with his affairs.

"Well," he said, "what have you to say for yourselves?"

The fellow had the effrontery to smile.

"What we have received to-day has taken away your right to ask.  I
should imagine you will be glad to have your neck out of chancery."

"Oh!" said Soames; "you think so!  I came to tell you that I'll
divorce her with every circumstance of disgrace to you both, unless
you swear to keep clear of each other from now on."

He was astonished at his fluency, because his mind was stammering
and his hands twitching.  Neither of them answered; but their faces
seemed to him as if contemptuous.

"Well," he said; "you--Irene?"

Her lips moved, but Jolyon laid his hand on her arm.

"Let her alone!" said Soames furiously.  "Irene, will you swear


"Oh! and you?"

"Still less."

"So then you're guilty, are you?"

"Yes, guilty."  It was Irene speaking in that serene voice, with
that unreached air which had maddened him so often; and, carried
beyond himself, he cried:

"You are a devil"

"Go out!  Leave this house, or I'll do you an injury."

That fellow to talk of injuries!  Did he know how near his throat
was to being scragged?

"A trustee," he said, "embezzling trust property!  A thief,
stealing his cousin's wife."

"Call me what you like.  You have chosen your part, we have chosen
ours.  Go out!"

If he had brought a weapon Soames might have used it at that

"I'll make you pay!" he said.

"I shall be very happy."

At that deadly turning of the meaning of his speech by the son of
him who had nicknamed him 'the man of property,' Soames stood
glaring.  It was ridiculous!

There they were, kept from violence by some secret force.  No blow
possible, no words to meet the case.  But he could not, did not
know how to turn and go away.  His eyes fastened on Irene's face--
the last time he would ever see that fatal face--the last time, no

"You," he said suddenly, "I hope you'll treat him as you treated
me--that's all."

He saw her wince, and with a sensation not quite triumph, not quite
relief, he wrenched open the door, passed out through the hall, and
got into his cab.  He lolled against the cushion with his eyes
shut.  Never in his life had he been so near to murderous violence,
never so thrown away the restraint which was his second nature.  He
had a stripped and naked feeling, as if all virtue had gone out of
him--life meaningless, mind-striking work.  Sunlight streamed in on
him, but he felt cold.  The scene he had passed through had gone
from him already, what was before him would not materialise, he
could catch on to nothing; and he felt frightened, as if he had
been hanging over the edge of a precipice, as if with another turn
of the screw sanity would have failed him.  'I'm not fit for it,'
he thought; 'I mustn't--I'm not fit for it.'  The cab sped on, and
in mechanical procession trees, houses, people passed, but had no
significance.  'I feel very queer,' he thought; 'I'll take a
Turkish bath.--I've been very near to something.  It won't do.'
The cab whirred its way back over the bridge, up the Fulham Road,
along the Park.

"To the Hammam," said Soames.

Curious that on so warm a summer day, heat should be so comforting!
Crossing into the hot room he met George Forsyte coming out, red
and glistening.

"Hallo!" said George; "what are you training for?  You've not got
much superfluous."

Buffoon!  Soames passed him with his sideway smile.  Lying back,
rubbing his skin uneasily for the first signs of perspiration, he
thought: 'Let them laugh!  I won't feel anything!  I can't stand
violence!  It's not good for me!'



Soames left dead silence in the little study.  "Thank you for that
good lie," said Jolyon suddenly.  "Come out--the air in here is not
what it was!"

In front of a long high southerly wall on which were trained
peach-trees the two walked up and down in silence.  Old Jolyon had
planted some cupressus-trees, at intervals, between this grassy
terrace and the dipping meadow full of buttercups and ox-eyed
daisies; for twelve years they had flourished, till their dark
spiral shapes had quite a look of Italy.  Birds fluttered softly in
the wet shrubbery; the swallows swooped past, with a steel-blue
sheen on their swift little bodies; the grass felt springy beneath
the feet, its green refreshed; butterflies chased each other.
After that painful scene the quiet of Nature was wonderfully
poignant.  Under the sun-soaked wall ran a narrow strip of
garden-bed full of mignonette and pansies, and from the bees came a

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