List Of Contents | Contents of Indian Summer of a Forsyte, by John Galsworthy
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low hum in which all other sounds were set--the mooing of a cow
deprived of her calf, the calling of a cuckoo from an elm-tree at
the bottom of the meadow.  Who would have thought that behind them,
within ten miles, London began--that London of the Forsytes, with
its wealth, its misery; its dirt and noise; its jumbled stone isles
of beauty, its grey sea of hideous brick and stucco?  That London
which had seen Irene's early tragedy, and Jolyon's own hard days;
that web; that princely workhouse of the possessive instinct!

And while they walked Jolyon pondered those words: 'I hope you'll
treat him as you treated me.'  That would depend on himself.  Could
he trust himself?  Did Nature permit a Forsyte not to make a slave
of what he adored?  Could beauty be confided to him?  Or should she
not be just a visitor, coming when she would, possessed for moments
which passed, to return only at her own choosing?  'We are a breed
of spoilers!' thought Jolyon, 'close and greedy; the bloom of life
is not safe with us.  Let her come to me as she will, when she
will, not at all if she will not.  Let me be just her stand-by, her
perching-place; never-never her cage!'

She was the chink of beauty in his dream.  Was he to pass through
the curtains now and reach her?  Was the rich stuff of many
possessions, the close encircling fabric of the possessive instinct
walling in that little black figure of himself, and Soames--was it
to be rent so that he could pass through into his vision, find
there something not of the senses only?  'Let me,' he thought, 'ah!
let me only know how not to grasp and destroy!'

But at dinner there were plans to be made.  To-night she would go
back to the hotel, but tomorrow he would take her up to London.  He
must instruct his solicitor--Jack Herring.  Not a finger must be
raised to hinder the process of the Law.  Damages exemplary,
judicial strictures, costs, what they liked--let it go through at
the first moment, so that her neck might be out of chancery at
last!  To-morrow he would see Herring--they would go and see him
together.  And then--abroad, leaving no doubt, no difficulty about
evidence, making the lie she had told into the truth.  He looked
round at her; and it seemed to his adoring eyes that more than a
woman was sitting there.  The spirit of universal beauty, deep,
mysterious, which the old painters, Titian, Giorgione, Botticelli,
had known how to capture and transfer to the faces of their women--
this flying beauty seemed to him imprinted on her brow, her hair,
her lips, and in her eyes.

'And this is to be mine!'  he thought.  'It frightens me!'

After dinner they went out on to the terrace to have coffee.  They
sat there long, the evening was so lovely, watching the summer
night come very slowly on.  It was still warm and the air smelled
of lime blossom--early this summer.  Two bats were flighting with
the faint mysterious little noise they make.  He had placed the
chairs in front of the study window, and moths flew past to visit
the discreet light in there.  There was no wind, and not a whisper
in the old oak-tree twenty yards away!  The moon rose from behind
the copse, nearly full; and the two lights struggled, till
moonlight conquered, changing the colour and quality of all the
garden, stealing along the flagstones, reaching their feet,
climbing up, changing their faces.

"Well," said Jolyon at last, "you'll be tired, dear; we'd better
start.  The maid will show you Holly's room," and he rang the study
bell.  The maid who came handed him a telegram.  Watching her take
Irene away, he thought: 'This must have come an hour or more ago,
and she didn't bring it out to us!  That shows!  Well, we'll be
hung for a sheep soon!'  And, opening the telegram, he read:

"JOLYON FORSYTE, Robin Hill.--Your son passed painlessly away on
June 20th.  Deep sympathy"--some name unknown to him.

He dropped it, spun round, stood motionless.  The moon shone in on
him; a moth flew in his face.  The first day of all that he had not
thought almost ceaselessly of Jolly.  He went blindly towards the
window, struck against the old armchair--his father's--and sank
down on to the arm of it.  He sat there huddled' forward, staring
into the night.  Gone out like a candle flame; far from home, from
love, all by himself, in the dark!  His boy!  From a little chap
always so good to him--so friendly!  Twenty years old, and cut down
like grass--to have no life at all!  'I didn't really know him,' he
thought, 'and he didn't know me; but we loved each other.  It's
only love that matters.'

To die out there--lonely--wanting them--wanting home!  This seemed
to his Forsyte heart more painful, more pitiful than death itself.
No shelter, no protection, no love at the last!  And all the deeply
rooted clanship in him, the family feeling and essential clinging
to his own flesh and blood which had been so strong in old Jolyon
was so strong in all the Forsytes--felt outraged, cut, and torn by
his boy's lonely passing.  Better far if he had died in battle,
without time to long for them to come to him, to call out for them,
perhaps, in his delirium!

The moon had passed behind the oak-tree now, endowing it with
uncanny life, so that it seemed watching him--the oak-tree his boy
had been so fond of climbing, out of which he had once fallen and
hurt himself, and hadn't cried!

The door creaked.  He saw Irene come in, pick up the telegram and
read it.  He heard the faint rustle of her dress.  She sank on her
knees close to him, and he forced himself to smile at her.  She
stretched up her arms and drew his head down on her shoulder.  The
perfume and warmth of her encircled him; her presence gained slowly
his whole being.



Sweated to serenity, Soames dined at the Remove and turned his face
toward Park Lane.  His father had been unwell lately.  This would
have to be kept from him!  Never till that moment had he realised
how much the dread of bringing James' grey hairs down with sorrow
to the grave had counted with him; how intimately it was bound up
with his own shrinking from scandal.  His affection for his father,
always deep, had increased of late years with the knowledge that
James looked on him as the real prop of his decline.  It seemed
pitiful that one who had been so careful all his life and done so
much for the family name--so that it was almost a byword for solid,
wealthy respectability--should at his last gasp have to see it in
all the newspapers.  This was like lending a hand to Death, that
final enemy of Forsytes.  'I must tell mother,' he thought, 'and
when it comes on, we must keep the papers from him somehow.  He
sees hardly anyone.'  Letting himself in with his latchkey, he was
beginning to ascend he stairs when he became conscious of commotion
on the second-floor landing.  His mother's voice was saying:

"Now, James, you'll catch cold.  Why can't you wait quietly?"

His father's answering

"Wait?  I'm always waiting.  Why doesn't he come in?"

"You can speak to him to-morrow morning, instead of making a guy of
yourself on the landing."

"He'll go up to bed, I shouldn't wonder.  I shan't sleep."

"Now come back to bed, James."

"Um!  I might die before to-morrow morning for all you can tell."

"You shan't have to wait till to-morrow morning; I'll go down and
bring him up.  Don't fuss!"

"There you go--always so cock-a-hoop.  He mayn't come in at all."

"Well, if he doesn't come in you won't catch him by standing out
here in your dressing-gown."

Soames rounded the last bend and came in sight of his father's tall
figure wrapped in a brown silk quilted gown, stooping over the
balustrade above.  Light fell on his silvery hair and whiskers,
investing his head with, a sort of halo.

"Here he is!" he heard him say in a voice which sounded injured,
and his mother's comfortable answer from the bedroom door:

"That's all right.  Come in, and I'll brush your hair."  James
extended a thin, crooked finger, oddly like the beckoning of a
skeleton, and passed through the doorway of his bedroom.

'What is it?' thought Soames.  'What has he got hold of now?'

His father was sitting before the dressing-table sideways to the
mirror, while Emily slowly passed two silver-backed brushes through
and through his hair.  She would do this several times a day, for
it had on him something of the effect produced on a cat by
scratching between its ears.

"There you are!" he said.  "I've been waiting."

Soames stroked his shoulder, and, taking up a silver button-hook,
examined the mark on it.

"Well," he said, "you're looking better."

James shook his head.

"I want to say something.  Your mother hasn't heard."  He announced
Emily's ignorance of what he hadn't told her, as if it were a

"Your father's been in a great state all the evening.  I'm sure I
don't know what about."

The faint 'whisk-whisk' of the brushes continued the soothing of
her voice.

"No! you know nothing," said James.  "Soames can tell me."  And,
fixing his grey eyes, in which there was a look of strain,
uncomfortable to watch, on his son, he muttered:

"I'm getting on, Soames.  At my age I can't tell.  I might die any
time.  There'll be a lot of money.  There's Rachel and Cicely got
no children; and Val's out there--that chap his father will get
hold of all he can.  And somebody'll pick up Imogen, I shouldn't

Soames listened vaguely--he had heard all this before.  Whish-
whish!  went the brushes.

"If that's all!"   said Emily.

"All!" cried James; "it's nothing.  I'm coming to that."  And again
his eyes strained pitifully at Soames.

"It's you, my boy," he said suddenly; "you ought to get a divorce."

That word, from those of all lips, was almost too much for Soames'
composure.  His eyes reconcentrated themselves quickly on the
buttonhook, and as if in apology James hurried on:

"I don't know what's become of her--they say she's abroad.  Your
Uncle Swithin used to admire her--he was a funny fellow."  (So he
always alluded to his dead twin-'The Stout and the Lean of it,'
they had been called.)  "She wouldn't be alone, I should say."  And
with that summing-up of the effect of beauty on human nature, he
was silent, watching his son with eyes doubting as a bird's.
Soames, too, was silent.  Whish-whish went the brushes.

"Come, James!  Soames knows best.  It's his 'business."

"Ah!" said James, and the word came from deep down; "but there's
all my money, and there's his--who's it to go to?  And when he dies
the name goes out."

Soames replaced the button-hook on the lace and pink silk of the
dressing-table coverlet.

"The name?" said Emily, "there are all the other Forsytes."

"As if that helped me," muttered James.  "I shall be in my grave,
and there'll be nobody, unless he marries again."

"You're quite right," said Soames quietly; "I'm getting a divorce."

James' eyes almost started from his head.

"What?" he cried.  "There! nobody tells me anything."

"Well," said Emily, "who would have imagined you wanted it?  My
dear boy, that is a surprise, after all these years."

"It'll be a scandal," muttered James, as if to himself; "but I
can't help that.  Don't brush so hard.  When'll it come on?"

"Before the Long Vacation; it's not defended."

James' lips moved in secret calculation.  "I shan't live to see my
grandson," he muttered.

Emily ceased brushing.  "Of course you will, James.  Soames will be
as quick as he can."

There was a long silence, till James reached out his arm.

"Here! let's have the eau-de-Cologne," and, putting it to his nose,
he moved his forehead in the direction of his son.  Soames bent
over and kissed that brow just where the hair began.  A relaxing
quiver passed over James' face, as though the wheels of anxiety
within were running down.

"I'll get to bed," he said; "I shan't want to see the papers when
that comes.  They're a morbid lot; I can't pay attention to them,
I'm too old."

Queerly affected, Soames went to the door; he heard his father say:

"Here, I'm tired.  I'll say a prayer in bed."

And his mother answering

"That's right, James; it'll be ever so much more comfy."



On Forsyte 'Change the announcement of Jolly's death, among a
batch of troopers, caused mixed sensation.  Strange to read that
Jolyon Forsyte (fifth of the name in direct descent) had died of
disease in the service of his country, and not be able to feel it
personally.  It revived the old grudge against his father for
having estranged himself.  For such was still the prestige of old
Jolyon that the other Forsytes could never quite feel, as might
have been expected, that it was they who had cut off his
descendants for irregularity.  The news increased, of course, the
interest and anxiety about Val; but then Val's name was Dartie, and
even if he were killed in battle or got the Victoria Cross, it
would not be at all the same as if his name were Forsyte.  Not even
casualty or glory to the Haymans would be really satisfactory.
Family pride felt defrauded.

How the rumour arose, then, that 'something very dreadful, my
dear,' was pending, no one, least of all Soames, could tell, secret
as he kept everything.  Possibly some eye had seen 'Forsyte v.
Forsyte and Forsyte,' in the cause list; and had added it to 'Irene
in Paris with a fair beard.'  Possibly some wall at Park Lane had
ears.  The fact remained that it was known--whispered among the
old, discussed among the young--that family pride must soon receive
a blow.

Soames, paying one, of his Sunday visits to Timothy's--paying it
with the feeling that after the suit came on he would be paying no
more--felt knowledge in the air as he came in.  Nobody, of course,
dared speak of it before him, but each of the four other Forsytes
present held their breath, aware that nothing could prevent Aunt
Juley from making them all uncomfortable.  She looked so piteously
at Soames, she checked herself on the point of speech so often,
that Aunt Hester excused herself and said she must go and bathe
Timothy's eye--he had a sty coming.  Soames, impassive, slightly
supercilious, did not stay long.  He went out with a curse stifled
behind his pale, just smiling lips.

Fortunately for the peace of his mind, cruelly tortured by the
coming scandal, he was kept busy day and night with plans for his
retirement--for he had come to that grim conclusion.  To go on
seeing all those people who had known him as a 'long-headed chap,'
an astute adviser--after that--no!  The fastidiousness and pride
which was so strangely, so inextricably blended in him with
possessive obtuseness, revolted against the thought.  He would
retire, live privately, go on buying pictures, make a great name as
a collector--after all, his heart was more in that than it had ever
been in Law.  In pursuance of this now fixed resolve, he had to get
ready to amalgamate his business with another firm without letting
people know, for that would excite curiosity and make humiliation
cast its shadow before.  He had pitched on the firm of Cuthcott,
Holliday and Kingson, two of whom were dead.  The full name after

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