List Of Contents | Contents of Indian Summer of a Forsyte, by John Galsworthy
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the amalgamation would therefore be Cuthcott, Holliday, Kingson,
Forsyte, Bustard and Forsyte.  But after debate as to which of the
dead still had any influence with the living, it was decided to
reduce the title to Cuthcott, Kingson and Forsyte, of whom Kingson
would be the active and Soames the sleeping partner.  For leaving
his name, prestige, and clients behind him, Soames would receive
considerable value.

One night, as befitted a man who had arrived at so important a
stage of his career, he made a calculation of what he was worth,
and after writing off liberally for depreciation by the war, found
his value to be some hundred and thirty thousand pounds.  At his
father's death, which could not, alas, be delayed much longer, he
must come into at least another fifty thousand, and his yearly
expenditure at present just reached two.  Standing among his
pictures, he saw before him a future full of bargains earned by the
trained faculty of knowing better than other people.  Selling what
was about to decline, keeping what was still going up, and
exercising judicious insight into future taste, he would make a
unique collection, which at his death would pass to the nation
under the title 'Forsyte Bequest.'

If the divorce went through, he had determined on his line with
Madame Lamotte.  She had, he knew, but one real ambition--to live
on her 'renter' in Paris near her grandchildren.  He would buy the
goodwill of the Restaurant Bretagne at a fancy price.  Madame would
live like a Queen-Mother in Paris on the interest, invested as she
would know how.  (Incidentally Soames meant to put a capable
manager in her place, and make the restaurant pay good interest on
his money.  There were great possibilities in Soho.)  On Annette he
would promise to settle fifteen thousand pounds (whether designedly
or not), precisely the sum old Jolyon had settled on 'that woman.'

A letter from Jolyon's solicitor to his own had disclosed the fact
that 'those two' were in Italy.  And an opportunity had been duly
given for noting that they had first stayed at an hotel in London.
The matter was clear as daylight, and would be disposed of in half
an hour or so; but during that half-hour he, Soames, would go down
to hell; and after that half-hour all bearers of the Forsyte name
would feel the bloom was off the rose.  He had no illusions like
Shakespeare that roses by any other name would smell as sweet.  The
name was a possession, a concrete, unstained piece of property, the
value of which would be reduced some twenty per cent. at least.
Unless it were Roger, who had once refused to stand for Parliament,
and--oh, irony!--Jolyon, hung on the line, there had never been a
distinguished Forsyte.  But that very lack of distinction was the
name's greatest asset.  It was a private name, intensely
individual, and his own property; it had never been exploited for
good or evil by intrusive report.  He and each member of his family
owned it wholly, sanely, secretly, without any more interference
from the public than had been necessitated by their births, their
marriages, their deaths.  And during these weeks of waiting and
preparing to drop the Law, he conceived for that Law a bitter
distaste, so deeply did he resent its coming violation of his name,
forced on him by the need he felt to perpetuate that name in a
lawful manner.  The monstrous injustice of the whole thing excited
in him a perpetual suppressed fury.  He had asked no better than to
live in spotless domesticity, and now he must go into the witness
box, after all these futile, barren years, and proclaim his failure
to keep his wife--incur the pity, the amusement, the contempt of
his kind.  It was all upside down.  She and that fellow ought to be
the sufferers, and they--were in Italy!  In these weeks the Law he
had served so faithfully, looked on so reverently as the guardian
of all property, seemed to him quite pitiful.  What could be more
insane than to tell a man that he owned his wife, and punish him
when someone unlawfully took her away from him?  Did the Law not
know that a man's name was to him the apple of his eye, that it was
far harder to be regarded as cuckold than as seducer?  He actually
envied Jolyon the reputation of succeeding where he, Soames, had
failed.  The question of damages worried him, too.  He wanted to
make that fellow suffer, but he remembered his cousin's words, "I
shall be very happy," with the uneasy feeling that to claim damages
would make not Jolyon but himself suffer; he felt uncannily that
Jolyon would rather like to pay them--the chap was so loose.
Besides, to claim damages was not the thing to do.  The claim,
indeed, had been made almost mechanically; and as the hour drew
near Soames saw in it just another dodge of this insensitive and
topsy-turvy Law to make him ridiculous; so that people might sneer
and say: "Oh, yes, he got quite a good price for her!"   And he
gave instructions that his Counsel should state that the money
would be given to a Home for Fallen Women.  He was a long time
hitting off exactly the right charity; but, having pitched on it,
he used to wake up in the night and think: 'It won't do, too lurid;
it'll draw attention.  Something quieter--better taste.'  He did
not care for dogs, or he would have named them; and it was in
desperation at last--for his knowledge of charities was limited--
that he decided on the blind.  That could not be inappropriate, and
it would make the Jury assess the damages high.

A good many suits were dropping out of the list, which happened to
be exceptionally thin that summer, so that his case would be
reached before August.  As the day grew nearer, Winifred was his
only comfort.  She showed the fellow-feeling of one who had been
through the mill, and was the 'femme-sole' in whom he confided,
well knowing that she would not let Dartie into her confidence.
That ruffian would be only too rejoiced!  At the end of July, on
the afternoon before the case, he went in to see her.  They had not
yet been able to leave town, because Dartie had already spent their
summer holiday, and Winifred dared not go to her father for more
money while he was waiting not to be told anything about this
affair of Soames.

Soames found her with a letter in her hand.

"That from Val," he asked gloomily.  "What does he say?"

"He says he's married," said Winifred.

"Whom to, for Goodness' sake?"

Winifred looked up at him.

"To Holly Forsyte, Jolyon's daughter."


"He got leave and did it.  I didn't even know he knew her.
Awkward, isn't it?"

Soames uttered a short laugh at that characteristic minimisation.

"Awkward!  Well, I don't suppose they'll hear about this till they
come back.  They'd better stay out there.  That fellow will give
her money."

"But I want Val back," said Winifred almost piteously; "I miss him,
he helps me to get on."

"I know," murmured Soames.  "How's Dartie behaving now?"

"It might be worse; but it's always money.  Would you like me to
come down to the Court to-morrow, Soames?"

Soames stretched out his hand for hers.  The gesture so betrayed
the loneliness in him that she pressed it between her two.

"Never mind, old boy.  You'll feel ever so much better when it's
all over."

"I don't know what I've done," said Soames huskily; "I never have.
It's all upside down.  I was fond of her; I've always been."

Winifred saw a drop of blood ooze out of his lip, and the sight
stirred her profoundly.

"Of course," she said, "it's been too bad of her all along!  But
what shall I do about this marriage of Val's, Soames?  I don't know
how to write to him, with this coming on.  You've seen that child.
Is she pretty?"

"Yes, she's pretty," said Soames.  "Dark--lady-like enough."

'That doesn't sound so bad,' thought Winifred.  'Jolyon had style.'

"It is a coil," she said.  "What will father say?

"Mustn't be told," said Soames.  "The war'll soon be over now,
you'd better let Val take to farming out there."

It was tantamount to saying that his nephew was lost.

"I haven't told Monty," Winifred murmured desolately.

The case was reached before noon next day, and was over in little
more than half an hour.  Soames--pale, spruce, sad-eyed in the
witness-box--had suffered so much beforehand that he took it all
like one dead.  The moment the decree nisi was pronounced he left
the Courts of Justice.

Four hours until he became public property!  'Solicitor's divorce
suit!'  A surly, dogged anger replaced that dead feeling within
him.  'Damn them all!' he thought; 'I won't run away.  I'll act as
if nothing had happened.'  And in the sweltering heat of Fleet
Street and Ludgate Hill he walked all the way to his City Club,
lunched, and went back to his office.  He worked there stolidly
throughout the afternoon.

On his way out he saw that his clerks knew, and answered their
involuntary glances with a look so sardonic that they were
immediately withdrawn.  In front of St. Paul's, he stopped to buy
the most gentlemanly of the evening papers.  Yes! there he was!
'Well-known solicitor's divorce.  Cousin co-respondent.  Damages
given to the blind'--so, they had got that in!  At every other
face, he thought: 'I wonder if you know!'  And suddenly he felt
queer, as if something were racing round in his head.

What was this?  He was letting it get hold of him!  He mustn't!  He
would be ill.  He mustn't think!  He would get down to the river
and row about, and fish.  'I'm not going to be laid up,' he

It flashed across him that he had something of importance to do
before he went out of town.  Madame Lamotte!  He must explain the
Law.  Another six months before he was really free!  Only he did
not want to see Annette!  And he passed his hand over the top of
his head--it was very hot.

He branched off through Covent Garden.  On this sultry day of late
July the garbage-tainted air of the old market offended him, and
Soho seemed more than ever the disenchanted home of rapscallionism.
Alone, the Restaurant Bretagne, neat, daintily painted, with its
blue tubs and the dwarf trees therein, retained an aloof and
Frenchified self-respect.  It was the slack hour, and pale trim
waitresses were preparing the little tables for dinner.  Soames
went through into the private part.  To his discomfiture Annette
answered his knock.  She, too, looked pale and dragged down by the

"You are quite a stranger," she said languidly.

Soames smiled.

"I haven't wished to be; I've been busy."

"Where's your mother, Annette?  I've got some news for her."

"Mother is not in."

It seemed to Soames that she looked at him in a queer way.  What
did she know?  How much had her mother told her?  The worry of
trying to make that out gave him an alarming feeling in the head.
He gripped the edge of the table, and dizzily saw Annette come
forward, her eyes clear with surprise.  He shut his own and said:

"It's all right.  I've had a touch of the sun, I think."  The sun!
What he had was a touch of 'darkness!  Annette's voice, French and
composed, said:

"Sit down, it will pass, then."  Her hand pressed his shoulder, and
Soames sank into a chair.  When the dark feeling dispersed, and he
opened his eyes, she was looking down at him.  What an inscrutable
and odd expression for a girl of twenty!

"Do you feel better?"

"It's nothing," said Soames.  Instinct told him that to be feeble
before her was not helping him--age was enough handicap without
that.  Will-power was his fortune with Annette, he had lost ground
these latter months from indecision--he could not afford to lose
any more.  He got up, and said:

"I'll write to your mother.  I'm going down to my river house for a
long holiday.  I want you both to come there presently and stay.
It's just at its best.  You will, won't you?"

"It will be veree nice."  A pretty little roll of that 'r' but no
enthusiasm.  And rather sadly he added:

"You're feeling the heat; too, aren't you, Annette?  It'll do you
good to be on the river.  Good-night."  Annette swayed forward.
There was a sort of compunction in the movement.

"Are you fit to go?  Shall I give you some coffee?"

"No," said Soames firmly.  "Give me your hand."

She held out her hand, and Soames raised it to his lips.  When he
looked up, her face wore again that strange expression.  'I can't
tell,' he thought, as he went out; 'but I mustn't think--I mustn't

But worry he did, walking toward Pall Mall.  English, not of her
religion, middle-aged, scarred as it were by domestic tragedy, what
had he to give her?  Only wealth, social position, leisure,
admiration!  It was much, but was it enough for a beautiful girl of
twenty?  He felt so ignorant about Annette.  He had, too, a curious
fear of the French nature of her mother and herself.  They knew so
well what they wanted.  They were almost Forsytes.  They would
never grasp a shadow and miss a substance

The tremendous effort it was to write a simple note to Madame
Lamotte when he reached his Club warned him still further that he
was at the end of his tether.

"MY DEAR MADAME (he said),

"You will see by the enclosed newspaper cutting that I obtained my
decree of divorce to-day.  By the English Law I shall not, however,
be free to marry again till the decree is confirmed six months
hence.  In the meanwhile I have the honor to ask to be considered a
formal suitor for the hand of your daughter.  I shall write again
in a few days and beg you both to come and stay at my river house.
"I am, dear Madame,
"Sincerely yours,


Having sealed and posted this letter, he went into the dining-room.
Three mouthfuls of soup convinced him that he could not eat; and,
causing a cab to be summoned, he drove to Paddington Station and
took the first train to Reading.  He reached his house just as the
sun went down, and wandered out on to the lawn.  The air was
drenched with the scent of pinks and picotees in his flower-
borders.  A stealing coolness came off the river.

Rest-peace!  Let a poor fellow rest!  Let not worry and shame and
anger chase like evil nightbirds in his head!  Like those doves
perched half-sleeping on their dovecot, like the furry creatures in
the woods on the far side, and the simple folk in their cottages,
like the trees and the river itself, whitening fast in twilight,
like the darkening cornflower-blue sky where stars were coming up--
let him cease from himself, and rest!



The marriage of Soames with Annette took place in Paris on the last
day of January, 1901, with such privacy that not even Emily was
told until it was accomplished.

The day after the wedding he brought her to one of those quiet
hotels in London where greater expense can be incurred for less
result than anywhere else under heaven.  Her beauty in the best
Parisian frocks was giving him more satisfaction than if he had
collected a perfect bit of china, or a jewel of a picture; he
looked forward to the moment when he would exhibit her in Park
Lane, in Green Street, and at Timothy's.

If some one had asked him in those days, "In confidence--are you in

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