List Of Contents | Contents of Indian Summer of a Forsyte, by John Galsworthy
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Soames; Irene, a woman who had almost disgraced the family, and--
still more amazing was to him no blood relation.  Not out and out,
of course; only a life interest--only the income from it!  Still,
there it was; and old Jolyon's claim to be the perfect Forsyte was
ended once for all.  That, then, was the first reason why the
burial of Susan Hayman--at Woking--made little stir.  The second
reason was altogether more expansive and imperial.  Besides the
house on Campden Hill, Susan had a place (left her by Hayman when
he died) just over the border in Hants, where the Hayman boys had
learned to be such good shots and riders, as it was believed, which
was of course nice for them, and creditable to everybody; and the
fact of owning something really countrified seemed somehow to
excuse the dispersion of her remains--though what could have put
cremation into her head they could not think!  The usual
invitations, however, had been issued, and Soames had gone down and
young Nicholas, and the Will had been quite satisfactory so far as
it went, for she had only had a life interest; and everything had
gone quite smoothly to the children in equal shares.

The third reason why Susan's burial made little stir was the most
expansive of all.  It was summed up daringly by Euphemia, the pale,
the thin: "Well, I think people have a right to their own bodies,
even when they're dead."  Coming from a daughter of Nicholas, a
Liberal of the old school and most tyrannical, it was a startling
remark--showing in a flash what a lot of water had run under
bridges since the death of Aunt Ann in '86, just when the
proprietorship of Soames over his wife's body was acquiring the
uncertainty which had led to such disaster.  Euphemia, of course,
spoke like a child, and had no experience; for though well over
thirty by now, her name was still Forsyte.  But, making all
allowances, her remark did undoubtedly show expansion of the
principle of liberty, decentralisation and shift in the central
point of possession from others to oneself.  When Nicholas heard
his daughter's remark from Aunt Hester he had rapped out: "Wives
and daughters!  There's no end to their liberty in these days.  I
knew that 'Jackson' case would lead to things--lugging in Habeas
Corpus like that!"  He had, of course, never really forgiven the
Married Woman's Property Act, which would so have interfered with
him if he--had not mercifully married before it was passed.  But,
in truth, there was no denying the revolt among the younger
Forsytes against being owned by others; that, as it were, Colonial
disposition to own oneself, which is the paradoxical forerunner of
Imperialism, was making progress all the time.  They were all now
married, except George, confirmed to the Turf and the Iseeum Club;
Francie, pursuing her musical career in a studio off the King's
Road, Chelsea, and still taking 'lovers' to dances; Euphemia,
living at home and complaining of Nicholas; and those two Dromios,
Giles and Jesse Hayman.  Of the third generation there were not
very many--young Jolyon had three, Winifred Dartie four, young
Nicholas six already, young Roger had one, Marian Tweetyman one;
St. John Hayman two.  But the rest of the sixteen married--Soames,
Rachel and Cicely of James' family; Eustace and Thomas of Roger's;
Ernest, Archibald and Florence of Nicholas'; Augustus and Annabel
Spender of the Hayman's--were going down the years unreproduced.

Thus, of the ten old Forsytes twenty-one young Forsytes had been
born; but of the twenty-one young Forsytes there were as yet only
seventeen descendants; and it already seemed unlikely that there
would be more than a further unconsidered trifle or so.  A student
of statistics must have noticed that the birth rate had varied in
accordance with the rate of interest for your money.  Grandfather
'Superior Dosset' Forsyte in the early nineteenth century had been
getting ten per cent. for his, hence ten children.  Those ten,
leaving out the four who had not married, and Juley, whose husband
Septimus Small had, of course, died almost at once, had averaged
from four to five per cent. for theirs, and produced accordingly.
The twenty-one whom they produced were now getting barely three per
cent. in the Consols to which their father had mostly tied the
Settlements they made to avoid death duties, and the six of them
who had been reproduced had seventeen children, or just the proper
two and five-sixths per stem.

There were other reasons, too, for this mild reproduction.  A
distrust of their earning powers, natural where a sufficiency is
guaranteed, together with the knowledge that their fathers did not
die, kept them cautious.  If one had children and not much income,
the standard of taste and comfort must of necessity go down; what
was enough for two was not enough for four, and so on-it would be
better to wait and see what Father did.  Besides, it was nice to be
able to take holidays unhampered.  Sooner in fact than own
children, they preferred to concentrate on the ownership of them-
selves, conforming to the growing tendency fin de siecle, as it
was called.  In this way, little risk was run, and one would be
able to have a motor-car.  Indeed, Eustace already had one, but it
had shaken him horribly, and broken one of his eye teeth; so that
it would be better to wait till they were a little safer.  In the
meantime, no more children!  Even young Nicholas was drawing in his
horns, and had made no addition to his six for quite three years.

The corporate decay, however, of the Forsytes, their dispersion
rather, of which all this was symptomatic, had not advanced so far
as to prevent a rally when Roger Forsyte died in 1899.  It had been
a glorious summer, and after holidays abroad and at the sea they
were practically all back in London, when Roger with a touch of his
old originality had suddenly breathed his last at his own house in
Princes Gardens.  At Timothy's it was whispered sadly that poor
Roger had always been eccentric about his digestion--had he not,
for instance, preferred German mutton to all the other brands?  Be
that as it may, his funeral at Highgate had been perfect, and
coming away from it Soames Forsyte made almost mechanically for his
Uncle Timothy's in the Bayswater Road.  The 'Old Things'--Aunt
Juley and Aunt Hester--would like to hear about.  it.  His father--
James--at  eighty-eight had not felt up to the fatigue of the
funeral; and Timothy himself, of course, had not gone; so that
Nicholas had been the only brother present.  Still, there had been
a fair gathering; and it would cheer Aunts Juley and Hester up to
know.  The kindly thought was not unmixed with the inevitable
longing to get something out of everything you do, which is the
chief characteristic of Forsytes, and indeed of the saner elements
in every nation.  In this practice of taking family matters to
Timothy's in the Bayswater Road, Soames was but following in the
footsteps of his father, who had been in the habit of going at
least once a week to see his sisters at Timothy's, and had only
given it up when he lost his nerve at eighty-six, and could not go
out without Emily.  To go with Emily was of no use, for who could
really talk to anyone in the presence of his own wife?  Like James
in the old days, Soames found time to go there nearly every Sunday,
and sit in the little drawing-room into which, with his undoubted
taste, he had introduced a good deal of change and china not quite
up to his own fastidious mark, and at least two rather doubtful
Barbizon pictures, at Christmastides.  He himself, who had done
extremely well with the Barbizons, had for some years past moved
towards the Marises, Israels, and Mauve, and was hoping to do
better.  In the riverside house which he now inhabited near
Mapledurham he had a gallery, beautifully hung and lighted, to
which few London dealers were strangers.  It served, too, as a
Sunday afternoon attraction in those week-end parties which his
sisters, Winifred or Rachel, occasionally organised for him.  For
though he was but a taciturn showman, his quiet collected
determinism seldom failed to influence his guests, who knew that
his reputation was grounded not on mere aesthetic fancy, but on his
power of gauging the future of market values.  When he went to
Timothy's he almost always had some little tale of triumph over a
dealer to unfold, and dearly he loved that coo of pride with which
his aunts would greet it.  This afternoon, however, he was
differently animated, coming from Roger's funeral in his neat dark
clothes--not quite black, for after all an uncle was but an uncle,
and his soul abhorred excessive display of feeling.  Leaning back
in a marqueterie chair and gazing down his uplifted, nose at the
sky-blue walls plastered with gold frames, he was noticeably
silent.  Whether because he had been to a funeral or not, the
peculiar Forsyte build of his face was seen to the best advantage
this afternoon--a face concave and long, with a jaw which divested
of flesh would have seemed extravagant: altogether a chinny face
though not at all ill-looking.  He was feeling more strongly than
ever that Timothy's was hopelessly 'rum-ti-too' and the souls of
his aunts dismally mid-Victorian.  The subject on which alone he
wanted to talk--his own undivorced position--was unspeakable.  And
yet it occupied his mind to the exclusion of all else.  It was only
since the Spring that this had been so and a new feeling grown up
which was egging him on towards what he knew might well be folly in
a Forsyte of forty-five.  More and more of late he had been
conscious that he was 'getting on.'  The fortune already
considerable when he conceived the house at Robin Hill which had
finally wrecked his marriage with Irene, had mounted with
surprising vigour in the twelve lonely years during which he had
devoted himself to little else.  He was worth to-day well over a
hundred thousand pounds, and had no one to leave it to--no real
object for going on with what was his religion.  Even if he were to
relax his efforts, money made money, and he felt that he would have
a hundred and fifty thousand before he knew where he was.  There
had always been a strongly domestic, philoprogenitive side to
Soames; baulked and frustrated, it had hidden itself away, but now
had crept out again in this his 'prime of life.'  Concreted and
focussed of late by the attraction of a girl's undoubted beauty, it
had become a veritable prepossession.  And this girl was French,
not likely to lose her head, or accept any unlegalised position.
Moreover, Soames himself disliked the thought of that.  He had
tasted of the sordid side of sex during those long years of forced
celibacy, secretively, and always with disgust, for he was
fastidious, and his sense of law and order innate.  He wanted no
hole and corner liaison.  A marriage at the Embassy in Paris, a few
months' travel, and he could bring Annette back quite separated
from a past which in truth was not too distinguished, for she only
kept the accounts in her mother's Soho Restaurant; he could bring
her back as something very new and chic with her French taste and
self-possession, to reign at 'The Shelter' near Mapledurham.  On
Forsyte 'Change and among his riverside friends it would be current
that he had met a charming French girl on his travels and married
her.  There would be the flavour of romance, and a certain cachet
about a French wife.  No! He was not at all afraid of that.  It was
only this cursed undivorced condition of his, and--and the question
whether Annette would take him, which he dared not put to the touch
until he had a clear and even dazzling future to offer her.

In his aunts' drawing-room he heard with but muffled ears those
usual questions: How was his dear father?  Not going out, of
course, now that the weather was turning chilly?  Would Soames be
sure to tell him that Hester had found boiled holly leaves most
comforting for that pain in her side; a poultice every three hours,
with red flannel afterwards.  And could he relish just a little pot
of their very best prune preserve it was so delicious this year,
and had such a wonderful effect.  Oh! and about the Darties--had
Soames heard that dear Winifred was having a most distressing time
with Montague?  Timothy thought she really ought to have protect-
ion.  It was said--but Soames mustn't take this for certain--that
he had given some of Winifred's jewellery to a dreadful dancer.  It
was such a bad example for dear Val just as he was going to
college.  Soames had not heard?  Oh, but he must go and see his
sister and look into it at once!  And did he think these Boers were
really going to resist?  Timothy was in quite a stew about it.  The
price of Consols was so high, and he had such a lot of money in
them.  Did Soames think they must go down if there was a war?
Soames nodded.  But it would be over very quickly.  It would be so
bad for Timothy if it wasn't.  And of course Soames' dear father
would feel it very much at his age.  Luckily poor dear Roger had
been spared this dreadful anxiety.  And Aunt Juley with a little
handkerchief wiped away the large tear trying to climb the
permanent pout on her now quite withered left cheek; she was
remembering dear Roger, and all his originality, and how he used to
stick pins into her when they were little together.  Aunt Hester,
with her instinct for avoiding the unpleasant, here chimed in: Did
Soames think they would make Mr. Chamberlain Prime Minister at
once?  He would settle it all so quickly.  She would like to see
that old Kruger sent to St. Helena.  She could remember so well the
news of Napoleon's death, and what a, relief it had been to his
grandfather.  Of course she and Juley..." We were in pantalettes
then, my dear"--had not felt it much at the time.

Soames took a cup of tea from her, drank it quickly, and ate three
of those macaroons for which Timothy's was famous.  His faint,
pale, supercilious smile had deepened just a little.  Really, his
family remained hopelessly provincial, however much of London they
might possess between them.  In these go-ahead days their provinc-
ialism stared out even more than it used to.  Why, old Nicholas was
still a Free Trader, and a member of that antediluvian home of
Liberalism, the Remove Club--though, to be sure, the members were
pretty well all Conservatives now, or he himself could not have
joined; and Timothy, they said, still wore a nightcap.  Aunt Juley
spoke again.  Dear Soames was looking so well, hardly a day older
than he did when dear Ann died, and they were all there together,
dear Jolyon, and dear Swithin, and dear Roger.  She paused and
caught the tear which had climbed the pout on her right cheek.  Did
he--did he ever hear anything of Irene nowadays?  Aunt Hester
visibly interposed her shoulder.  Really, Juley was always saying
something!  The smile left Soames' face, and he put his cup down.
Here was his subject broached for him, and for all his desire to
expand, he could not take advantage.

Aunt Juley went on rather hastily:

"They say dear Jolyon first left her that fifteen thousand out and
out; then of course he saw it would not be right, and made it for

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