List Of Contents | Contents of Indian Summer of a Forsyte, by John Galsworthy
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Old Jolyon frowned.  "Not till the middle of next month.  What does
that matter?"

"You said June had forgiven me; but she could never forget, Uncle

Forget! She must forget, if he wanted her to.

But as if answering, Irene shook her head.  "You know she couldn't;
one doesn't forget."

Always that wretched past! And he said with a sort of vexed

"Well, we shall see."

He talked to her an hour or more, of the children, and a hundred
little things, till the carriage came round to take her home.  And
when she had gone he went back to his chair, and sat there
smoothing his face and chin, dreaming over the day.

That evening after dinner he went to his study and took a sheet of
paper.  He stayed for some minutes without writing, then rose and
stood under the masterpiece 'Dutch Fishing Boats at Sunset.'  He
was not thinking of that picture, but of his life.  He was going to
leave her something in his Will; nothing could so have stirred the
stilly deeps of thought and memory.  He was going to leave her a
portion of his wealth, of his aspirations, deeds, qualities, work--
all that had made that wealth; going to leave her, too, a part of
all he had missed in life, by his sane and steady pursuit of
wealth.  All! What had he missed?  'Dutch Fishing Boats' responded
blankly; he crossed to the French window, and drawing the curtain
aside, opened it.  A wind had got up, and one of last year's oak
leaves which had somehow survived the gardener's brooms, was
dragging itself with a tiny clicking rustle along the stone terrace
in the twilight.  Except for that it was very quiet out there, and
he could smell the heliotrope watered not long since.  A bat went
by.  A bird uttered its last 'cheep.'  And right above the oak tree
the first star shone.  Faust in the opera had bartered his soul for
some fresh years of youth.  Morbid notion!  No such bargain was
possible, that was real tragedy! No making oneself new again for
love or life or anything.  Nothing left to do but enjoy beauty from
afar off while you could, and leave it something in your Will.  But
how much? And, as if he could not make that calculation looking out
into the mild freedom of the country night, he turned back and went
up to the chimney-piece.  There were his pet bronzes--a Cleopatra
with the asp at her breast; a Socrates; a greyhound playing with
her puppy; a strong man reining in some horses.  'They last!' he
thought, and a pang went through his heart.  They had a thousand
years of life before them!

'How much?' Well! enough at all events to save her getting old
before her time, to keep the lines out of her face as long as
possible, and grey from soiling that bright hair.  He might live
another five years.  She would be well over thirty by then.  'How
much?'  She had none of his blood in her!  In loyalty to the tenor
of his life for forty years and more, ever since he married and
founded that mysterious thing, a family, came this warning thought-
-None of his blood, no right to anything!  It was a luxury then,
this notion.  An extravagance, a petting of an old man's whim, one
of those things done in dotage.  His real future was vested in
those who had his blood, in whom he would live on when he was gone.
He turned away from the bronzes and stood looking at the old
leather chair in which he had sat and smoked so many hundreds of
cigars.  And suddenly he seemed to see her sitting there in her
grey dress, fragrant, soft, dark-eyed, graceful, looking up at him.
Why! She cared nothing for him, really; all she cared for was that
lost lover of hers.  But she was there, whether she would or no,
giving him pleasure with her beauty and grace.  One had no right to
inflict an old man's company, no right to ask her down to play to
him and let him look at her--for no reward!  Pleasure must be paid
for in this world.  'How much?'  After all, there was plenty; his
son and his three grandchildren would never miss that little lump.
He had made it himself, nearly every penny; he could leave it where
he liked, allow himself this little pleasure.  He went back to the
bureau.  'Well, I'm going to,' he thought, 'let them think what
they like.  I'm going to!'  And he sat down.

'How much?' Ten thousand, twenty thousand--how much? If only with
his money he could buy one year, one month of youth.  And startled
by that thought, he wrote quickly:

'DEAR HERRING,--Draw me a codicil to this effect: "I leave to my
niece Irene Forsyte, born Irene Heron, by which name she now goes,
fifteen thousand pounds free of legacy duty."
'Yours faithfully,

When he had sealed and stamped the envelope, he went back to the
window and drew in a long breath.  It was dark, but many stars
shone now.


He woke at half-past two, an hour which long experience had taught
him brings panic intensity to all awkward thoughts.  Experience had
also taught him that a further waking at the proper hour of eight
showed the folly of such panic.  On this particular morning the
thought which gathered rapid momentum was that if he became ill, at
his age not improbable, he would not see her.  From this it was but
a step to realisation that he would be cut off, too, when his son
and June returned from Spain.  How could he justify desire for the
company of one who had stolen--early morning does not mince words--
June's lover?  That lover was dead; but June was a stubborn little
thing; warm-hearted, but stubborn as wood, and--quite true--not one
who forgot!  By the middle of next month they would be back.  He
had barely five weeks left to enjoy the new interest which had come
into what remained of his life.  Darkness showed up to him absurdly
clear the nature of his feeling.  Admiration for beauty--a craving
to see that which delighted his eyes.

Preposterous, at his age! And yet--what other reason was there for
asking June to undergo such painful reminder, and how prevent his
son and his son's wife from thinking him very queer?  He would be
reduced to sneaking up to London, which tired him; and the least
indisposition would cut him off even from that.  He lay with eyes
open, setting his jaw against the prospect, and calling himself an
old fool, while his heart beat loudly, and then seemed to stop
beating altogether.  He had seen the dawn lighting the window
chinks, heard the birds chirp and twitter, and the cocks crow,
before he fell asleep again, and awoke tired but sane.  Five weeks
before he need bother, at his age an eternity!  But that early
morning panic had left its mark, had slightly fevered the will of
one who had always had his own way.  He would see her as often as
he wished!  Why not go up to town and make that codicil at his
solicitor's instead of writing about it; she might like to go to
the opera!  But, by train, for he would not have that fat chap
Beacon grinning behind his back.  Servants were such fools; and, as
likely as not, they had known all the past history of Irene and
young Bosinney--servants knew everything, and suspected the rest.
He wrote to her that morning:

"MY DEAR IRENE,--I have to be up in town to-morrow.  If you
would like to have a look in at the opera, come and dine
with me quietly ...."

But where?  It was decades since he had dined anywhere in London
save at his Club or at a private house.  Ah! that new-fangled place
close to Covent Garden....

"Let me have a line to-morrow morning to the Piedmont Hotel whether
to expect you there at 7 o'clock."
"Yours affectionately,

She would understand that he just wanted to give her a little
pleasure; for the idea that she should guess he had this itch to
see her was instinctively unpleasant to him; it was not seemly that
one so old should go out of his way to see beauty, especially in a

The journey next day, short though it was, and the visit to his
lawyer's, tired him.  It was hot too, and after dressing for dinner
he lay down on the sofa in his bedroom to rest a little.  He must
have had a sort of fainting fit, for he came to himself feeling
very queer; and with some difficulty rose and rang the bell.  Why!
it was past seven!  And there he was and she would be waiting.  But
suddenly the dizziness came on again, and he was obliged to relapse
on the sofa.  He heard the maid's voice say:

"Did you ring, sir?"

"Yes, come here"; he could not see her clearly, for the cloud in
front of his eyes.  "I'm not well, I want some sal volatile."

"Yes, sir."  Her voice sounded frightened.

Old Jolyon made an effort.

"Don't go.  Take this message to my niece--a lady waiting in the
hall--a lady in grey.  Say Mr. Forsyte is not well--the heat.  He
is very sorry; if he is not down directly, she is not to wait

When she was gone, he thought feebly: 'Why did I say a lady in
grey--she may be in anything.  Sal volatile!'  He did not go off
again, yet was not conscious of how Irene came to be standing
beside him, holding smelling salts to his nose, and pushing a
pillow up behind his head.  He heard her say anxiously: "Dear Uncle
Jolyon, what is it?" was dimly conscious of the soft pressure of
her lips on his hand; then drew a long breath of smelling salts,
suddenly discovered strength in them, and sneezed.

"Ha!" he said, "it's nothing.  How did you get here? Go down and
dine--the tickets are on the dressing-table.  I shall be all right
in a minute."

He felt her cool hand on his forehead, smelled violets, and sat
divided between a sort of pleasure and a determination to be all

"Why! You are in grey!" he said.  "Help me up."  Once on his feet
he gave himself a shake.

"What business had I to go off like that!"  And he moved very
slowly to the glass.  What a cadaverous chap!  Her voice, behind
him, murmured:

"You mustn't come down, Uncle; you must rest."

"Fiddlesticks!  A glass of champagne'll soon set me to rights.  I
can't have you missing the opera."

But the journey down the corridor was troublesome.  What carpets
they had in these newfangled places, so thick that you tripped up
in them at every step! In the lift he noticed how concerned she
looked, and said with the ghost of a twinkle:

"I'm a pretty host."

When the lift stopped he had to hold firmly to the seat to prevent
its slipping under him; but after soup and a glass of champagne he
felt much better, and began to enjoy an infirmity which had brought
such solicitude into her manner towards him.

"I should have liked you for a daughter," he said suddenly; and
watching the smile in her eyes, went on:

"You mustn't get wrapped up in the past at your time of life;
plenty of that when you get to my age.  That's a nice dress--I like
the style."

"I made it myself."

Ah! A woman who could make herself a pretty frock had not lost her
interest in life.

"Make hay while the sun shines," he said; "and drink that up.  I
want to see some colour in your cheeks.  We mustn't waste life; it
doesn't do.  There's a new Marguerite to-night; let's hope she
won't be fat.  And Mephisto--anything more dreadful than a fat chap
playing the Devil I can't imagine."

But they did not go to the opera after all, for in getting up from
dinner the dizziness came over him again, and she insisted on his
staying quiet and going to bed early.  When he parted from her at
the door of the hotel, having paid the cabman to drive her to
Chelsea, he sat down again for a moment to enjoy the memory of her
words: "You are such a darling to me, Uncle Jolyon!"  Why! Who
wouldn't be!  He would have liked to stay up another day and take
her to the Zoo, but two days running of him would bore her to
death.  No, he must wait till next Sunday; she had promised to come
then.  They would settle those lessons for Holly, if only for a
month.  It would be something.  That little Mam'zelle Beauce
wouldn't like it, but she would have to lump it.  And crushing his
old opera hat against his chest he sought the lift.

He drove to Waterloo next morning, struggling with a desire to say:
'Drive me to Chelsea.'  But his sense of proportion was too strong.
Besides, he still felt shaky, and did not want to risk another
aberration like that of last night, away from home.  Holly, too,
was expecting him, and what he had in his bag for her.  Not that
there was any cupboard love in his little sweet--she was a bundle
of affection.  Then, with the rather bitter cynicism of the old, he
wondered for a second whether it was not cupboard love which made
Irene put up with him.  No, she was not that sort either.  She had,
if anything, too little notion of how to butter her bread, no sense
of property, poor thing! Besides, he had not breathed a word about
that codicil, nor should he--sufficient unto the day was the good

In the victoria which met him at the station Holly was restraining
the dog Balthasar, and their caresses made 'jubey' his drive home.
All the rest of that fine hot day and most of the next he was
content and peaceful, reposing in the shade, while the long
lingering sunshine showered gold on the lawns and the flowers.  But
on Thursday evening at his lonely dinner he began to count the
hours; sixty-five till he would go down to meet her again in the
little coppice, and walk up through the fields at her side.  He had
intended to consult the doctor about his fainting fit, but the
fellow would be sure to insist on quiet, no excitement and all
that; and he did not mean to be tied by the leg, did not want to be
told of an infirmity--if there were one, could not afford to hear
of it at his time of life, now that this new interest had come.
And he carefully avoided making any mention of it in a letter to
his son.  It would only bring them back with a run!  How far this
silence was due to consideration for their pleasure, how far to
regard for his own, he did not pause to consider.

That night in his study he had just finished his cigar and was
dozing off, when he heard the rustle of a gown, and was conscious
of a scent of violets.  Opening his eyes he saw her, dressed in
grey, standing by the fireplace, holding out her arms.  The odd
thing was that, though those arms seemed to hold nothing, they were
curved as if round someone's neck, and her own neck was bent back,
her lips open, her eyes closed.  She vanished at once, and there
were the mantelpiece and his bronzes.  But those bronzes and the
mantelpiece had not been there when she was, only the fireplace and
the wall!  Shaken and troubled, he got up.  'I must take medicine,'
he thought; 'I can't be well.'  His heart beat too fast, he had an
asthmatic feeling in the chest; and going to the window, he opened
it to get some air.  A dog was barking far away, one of the dogs at
Gage's farm no doubt, beyond the coppice.  A beautiful still night,
but dark.  'I dropped off,' he mused, 'that's it!  And yet I'll
swear my eyes were open!'  A sound like a sigh seemed to answer.

"What's that?" he said sharply, "who's there?"

Putting his hand to his side to still the beating of his heart, he
stepped out on the terrace.  Something soft scurried by in the
dark.  "Shoo!"  It was that great grey cat.  'Young Bosinney was

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